Chapter 10:

A Favor for a Favor

Red is the Color of You

      Although Izumi is aware that Wraith is a man of his word, he still remains on guard during his work shift, looking out for a tall man with gradient hair and mismatched eyes at all times. Thankfully, Izumi finishes his shift without a sight of Wraith, but he sees something arguably worse. Upon walking out of the café, he makes eye contact with Eiji, whom he’s been successful in avoiding up to this point. Before Eiji can yell out to him, Izumi runs back into the employee room of the café and tries to figure out how to get around him. 

The back entrance of the café still leads to the main road, so there’s no way to maneuver around Eiji, not unless he uses his trump card. 

I just have to think his name? I think he said, Izumi contemplates, then…

Wraith?” Izumi thinks to himself.

“What’s up?” Izumi jumps when he hears Wraith’s voice in his head.

“You can really read my mind from this far away?”

“If anyone calls my name I can hear it, part of the job. So? I doubt you’re just wondering what I do with my free time.”

Izumi nearly loses focus as he does in fact realize that he wonders what Wraith does when he isn’t with him, but he stays on track. “You remember how I said I’m avoiding my best friend? Well, he’s outside of the café right now….and I’m hiding in the backroom.”

“And? What do you want me to do about it?”

A plan sparks in Izumi, remembering Wraith has seen Eiji before. “You mind going on a fake date with me?”

“Huh?” That was the last thing Wraith expected to hear.

“If you pretend to be my boyfriend, he’ll back off for a while, since he’ll probably think that I’m more unbothered from the whole conflict.”

“That’s quite petty of you, and unexpected. I mean, I’ll do it sure, but are you sure? I will have you know that I’m quite the rental boyfriend.”

“I’m begging you, anything to get him off my tail for a few days until I can clear my head.”

“I could just do some spell to make him fuck off you know.”

“Which would most definitely cost more I imagine! And I already owe you for yesterday as it is.”

“Alright, alright. Just come out the front, I know he’s there but I’ll catch you before he does.”

     Hesitantly, Izumi leaves the employee room and tries to find Wraith in the crowd before he leaves the café. He’s standing much closer to the entrance of the café than Eiji is, who’s much further away and frantically waiting for him to leave the store. As soon as Izumi steps out of the café, Eiji stops in his tracks when he sees Wraith walk up to him.

“You sure were taking your time.” Wraith’s hand slides behind Izumi’s ear as he pulls him in for a kiss, Izumi too stunned to react. The kiss only lasts a few seconds, but to Izumi it felt like a lifetime due to its unexpected nature. Wraith takes hold of his hand and lovingly smiles. “I have a whole day planned, what are you waiting for?” He pulls him along the sidewalk, leaving Eiji surprisingly more staggered than Izumi. They leave the café and walk down the sidewalk, Izumi still confusedly holding Wraith’s hand.

“A whole day planned??!” He mumbles to Wraith.

“I made that up, how the hell could I have planned a date on the fly like that?! I don’t know the first thing about this kind of stuff, I’m just playing it by ear. Your little best friend is following us by the way, although pretty far back.”

“Ughh, I knew this would happen.” Izumi’s mind is running in circles as he can’t seem to brush off the fact that they kissed, although Wraith doesn’t seem too shaken up by it. Collecting his thoughts, he makes up for Wraith’s slack in the romantic field, “Since we’re still in the city, do you want to go to the aquarium? He’ll probably follow us in there too but it’s fine, the more convinced he is that we’re dating the better I suppose. Then after we can go to the botanical gardens and then the park?”

“Despite my age, you seem to have more experience in date spots than I do. Whatever you want to do kid, I’m just here for the ride.”

“Well, I used to travel a lot with my mom since she used to do freelance photography and there’s usually a lot of couples at those places so.” Although Izumi says so nonchalantly, he’s incredibly eager to carry his mother’s torch and photograph everything he can.

     Since it’s a weekday, the aquarium isn’t too packed, yet just as Izumi predicted, Eiji is still following behind them and watching from a distance. Clearly, Wraith isn’t interested in the sea creatures as his demeanor is more neutral, which juxtaposed Izumi’s exuberant enthusiasm as he snapped pictures left and right with glittery eyes. He dragged Wraith across the aquarium, trying to hit every spot that he could to get the most out of the day. They reached an exhibit which allowed the viewers to touch the sea creatures within the tank and Izumi eagerly took up the offer, reaching his hand into the water to graze any fish that passed by. 

Disappointed with Wraith’s disinterest, Izumi turns to Wraith and scolds him. “Come on!! You do it too!” Wraith didn’t really seem like he wanted to despite his nagging, so Izumi took hold of his hand and pulled it into the water. Izumi’s hand laid atop Wraith’s while he assisted him in caressing the fish as they passed by.

“Cool, right!” Izumi beamed towards Wraith, “You’d expect them to be kinda slimy, but it’s like a weird kind of smooth and wet slimy.”

Wraith snickered but his smile was genuine, “Pfft, what kind of description is that?” Sometimes Izumi wishes that Wraith didn’t have such a heartfelt smile, let alone the fact he did so frequently, as it caused his cheeks to flush red and burn hot. He retracted his hand away from Wraith’s in disarray.

“I-I don’t know…” Izumi avoids eye contact with him, flinging the water off of his hand.

Thankfully for Izumi, Wraith changes the topic. “We saw all the exhibits, right? If you’re good, we can go to the garden thing you mentioned.” He dries his hand on his blazer.

“R-right, y-yea I saw everything.”

“Then here, my little princess.” His comment releases a flurry of butterflies in Izumi’s chest as Wraith holds out his other hand. “Shall we?” Half reluctantly, Izumi accepts Wraith’s invitation. Holding his hand, he attempts to refrain from becoming any more flustered.

     On the way over, they passed by a few restaurants and Izumi tried not to make his hunger apparent, but Wraith noticed anyways.

“If you want to go eat, we can.”

Startled, Izumi slightly jumps and rapidly exclaims, “N-no it’s fine! You can’t eat human food, so it’ll be awkward if you’re just watching me eat.”

“I can stomach it if I have to, I’d rather not have to deal with having you keel over in hunger.”

“Are you sure..?”

“No I was just messing with you, yes I’m sure sheesh. I probably won’t have much though just so my disgust isn’t obvious to your stalker back there.”

Begrudgingly, Izumi and Wraith stop at an eatery, Izumi ordering a small tuna sandwich just so Wraith doesn’t have to wait too long for him to finish, while Wraith gets a soda and only a few pieces of takoyaki. As they eat, Izumi watches Wraith in complete guilt.

“I’m sorry...”

“Why are you sorry?” Wraith is obviously not interested in the meal since he’s eating slowly, but he’s doing well to suppress his nausea. “It’s not going to kill me, and like I said, I’d prefer that you don’t collapse on me.”

“I wouldn’t be so hungry that I’d pass out!”

“With how skinny you are? Sure.” He half heartedly scoffs. “If you’re so concerned about my well being instead of your own, then you can feed me after, how’s that sound?”

“In public?” Izumi questions, thinking about the crowd which will most definitely find the act suspicious.

“Can just go to an alley between one of these restaurants. If I bite your neck, it’ll look less strange.”

The suggestion throws off Izumi as he gets sent into a spin. “M-my neck?!”

“Yea? To passerbys it’ll just look like we’re doing PDA, but if you don’t want to then I can wait, I don’t get hungry that fast.”

“N-no that’s fine! I’m fine with that!” Although a bit confused at Izumi’s behavior, Wraith doesn’t think anything of it.

     After they eat, Wraith pulls Izumi into a narrow alley. 

“Here is fine.” With Izumi’s back to the wall, Wraith places his left arm onto the wall, their faces only a few inches apart. 

Despite how dark the alley is, Izumi can see Wraith’s face clearly, especially his sapphire and amber eyes, which stand out most of all. Using his right hand, he pulls back Izumi’s jacket and shirt in order to expose more of his neck. 

“It’ll look weird if you stand there so tense, here.” Wraith guides Izumi’s hands around the nape of his neck, lightly grazing his hair. 

Although Izumi’s heart is beating out of his chest, Wraith, as per usual, doesn’t seem too phased, even as he pulls Izumi closer and bites down. Surprisingly, it initially doesn’t hurt as much compared to when he bites his wrist, but nonetheless, Izumi is still grasping Wraith tightly. Overtime, it starts to hurt more and more, causing Izumi to grip tighter, with Wraith eventually parting his teeth, but he doesn’t seal the wound. He licks his teeth, Izumi feeling his breath against his face. 

“Are you alright? Like I said if you don’t want to it’s fine, I can wait. You’re just so tense that if I try it’ll hurt a shit ton.” 

Their bodies are pressed against each other while Wraith’s hair is a bit disheveled, making Izumi try his hardest to push away the suggestive thoughts running through his mind. 

Izumi takes a few deep breaths and tries to relax, “N-no, I’m ok, y-you can go ahead.” 

For once, Wraith seemed worried, but he trusts Izumi’s input and bites down again. Momentarily Izumi tenses up again, but then quickly calms down, remembering Wraith’s words. As such, it no longer hurt while Wraith drank, but Izumi couldn’t help but feel a strange flutter in his chest. It didn’t take long after the fact for Wraith to pull away and close the wound, Izumi feeling the same bump on his tongue, yet he’s too shaken to ask. 

“The garden right?” Wraith asked, Izumi rapidly nodding immediately. Once more, Wraith took hold of his hand and led him out of the alley.

     The garden was somewhat small and was located in the park that the two planned to rest in later. Like in the aquarium, Izumi energetically took pictures, this time though, of the various plants in an effort to brush off the preceding event. They didn’t spend long in the garden, due to its small size, so shortly after arriving they sat on a bench in the park which lay in front of a lake. 

By this time, the sun was setting, giving the lake a serene orange glow. Few people were left in the park, most wrapping up their events and beginning to head home, while the ones who remained consisted of bikers and runners. Because of this, the park was quiet, as even the ducks and squirrels were beginning to head to rest. The two sat by each other in relative silence, taking in the scene. Wraith’s arm was behind Izumi, resting on the bench, while Izumi was unnerved, sitting with his hands tightly clasped on his shorts, his knees buckled together as he fished for a topic.

“D-did you have fun?” He tried asking.

“Honestly, I didn’t really care too much about the places themselves, but…ugh how do I put it.” Wraith runs his hand through his hair in contemplation. “It’s not something I’d usually do, go to an aquarium, garden, or a park, never really even crossed my mind. But somehow, going with you was fine, probably because of how funny it is to watch you go googly eyed at everything.” 

A little surprised at his response, Izumi’s mouth drops a bit open as he stares at Wraith. 

“Don’t look at me like that.” Wraith breaks eye contact, turning away. For a moment, Izumi thought he saw Wraith turn red ever so slightly.

“Well, I’m glad it wasn’t a drag for you at least.” As Izumi looked down, Wraith turned back to him, studying his soft, puppy-like expression. “Is he still following us?” Izumi looks back at Wraith.

“He’s across the lake, somewhere in the bushes.”

Izumi tries to point him out, to no avail. “How can you even tell?”

“Didn’t you ask that before?” Wraith laughs, “About that Fuhiro guy.”

“Oh, right. But you never answered, you just said ‘I can turn invisible, how would I not be able to see him’. The two things have no correlation!”

“Then I’m just more aware of my surroundings.”

In the midst of their conversation, Izumi suddenly remembers something he’s been meaning to ask him. “Oh yea, you know how you always use your saliva to heal the bite mark? There’s always this weird bump on your tongue, what is that?”

“Do you really want to know?” The way Wraith asks the question makes Izumi a bit uneasy, but he always lets his curiosity get the best of him.

“Well, I’ve been wondering for a while, so yea?”

     Leaning in, Wraith places his left hand on Izumi's cheek and kisses him, this time, more passionately. Despite his shock, Izumi accepts the kiss without resistance, and as such, rather than clasping his own shorts, he loosens, holding Wraith’s chest. Momentarily, their lips part, only to be reunited after a short breath. Finally, Izumi’s long awaited question is answered, as Wraith’s tongue slides between his lips and intertwines with Izumi’s, feeling the same bump on his tongue, which he comes to know as a piercing. The overwhelming fiery sensation causes Izumi’s body to burn up and swell, feeling his heart pounding out of his chest. A slight metallic taste fills his mouth the longer the dance lasts, their saliva becoming one. 

Panting, they finally part lips, a string of saliva still connecting their mouths. In both of their eyes a bright flame is alit, yet they restrain themselves, knowing that this interaction is only a temporary act. Wiping his mouth, Wraith swallows, savoring the taste of Izumi’s lips, his seductive countenance only serving to launch Izumi’s heart into his throat as he tries to sustain from swelling elsewhere. Wraith leans back into the bench, releasing his hold on Izumi, and vice versa. The tension between them is immensely venereal yet simultaneously awkward as Izumi’s mind races, looking for something to say.

Still out of breath, he attempts to break the tension, “I-I didn’t know you had a tongue piercing.”

Surprisingly, he’s successful in doing so, since he gets a short and sweet laugh out of Wraith.

“Pfft, I’m surprised you never noticed, see?” He sticks his tongue out briefly, a small silver ball shines from the center.

“M-most people don’t have piercings other than on their ears, so I didn’t really consider it a possibility I guess. Did it hurt?”

“Not really? I don’t really remember when I got it, but it's been centuries for sure.”

The conversation dies off once more, making Izumi retreat to his old antics of looking down bashfully while holding the seam of his shorts.

“S-so I paid you back for today, right?” He tries again to break the silence.

“In the alley, yea. I’ll really only ask for something else if you wanted me to use magic or something like that.”

“That reminds me.” Izumi finally makes eye contact with Wraith. “You said you’d tell me some other time what you wanted? For the other day?”

“Well.” Wraith lights a cigarette and begins to smoke. “Since you love that camera of yours, how about doing a little act in your maid outfit in front of it? Meow or something.”

Blood rushes up his body, flushing his face red and stumbling on his words, “W-What?! Why
that!!” Izumi shrieks.

“Why would I ask you for something that you would gladly agree to? I won’t show the video to anyone, I can guarantee you that much at least.” He exhales a large puff of smoke, tapping the embers off his cigarette.

“But you’ll still see it and it’s still embarrassing!!!” Izumi dishevels his hair in frustration and embarrassment. “Can I do something else?” He pleads.

“Sure, if you can think of something equal to that. I’ll give you, say…. Two days.”

“And if I don’t think of anything?”

“I could always make you do it, although I’d rather not, since I really don’t want that on my conscience.”

“Then don’t ask for it in the first place!”

“Alright, I won’t even watch the entirety of it, just a few seconds to make sure you actually did it.”

“That doesn’t make it any better!!” Izumi cries out before finally giving in. “Fine, I’ll try and think of something else...”

“Remember, two days.” Izumi only wishes he could forget.

Wraith stands up then seemingly recalls something. “Oh right, I’ve been meaning to tell you, especially after today. You should talk to your friend.”

“Eiji? Yea...I know...I just-I don’t know. I want him to understand that him calling me childish and all that was really out of line, especially considering the time he chose to do that.”

“I think he gets the point if he’s stalking you everywhere in hopes of conveying an apology.” Wraith leaves Izumi to his thoughts upon the end of their date. Running through his mind, Izumi contemplates how to approach the situation with Eiji.