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“Why on Earth do you think I need a blind date?” Daisuke wanted to know, glaring at Taichi. The glare would’ve been so much more effective if Taichi had bothered to look up from his drink. Maybe. Daisuke told himself it would’ve been anyway.

“Because it’s not going to hurt you to get out a little more,” Taichi replied.

Daisuke glowered and growled but still to no avail. He got out plenty! He spent time with the soccer team! He was here with Taichi right now! He’d even dated Hikari not that long ago!

No sooner had he brought that up but Taichi put down his drink and looked right at Daisuke.

“You dated her three years ago. Twice. Then you both told me that you’d rather be friends. Last year you came out, had three dates with Takeru, and then decided that you wanted to be friends with him, too.”

Daisuke folded his arms over his chest and pouted. “What’s wrong with friends?”

“Nothing.” Taichi waved one hand before settling back on the comfortable seat. “So what’s wrong with having one date with someone you don’t know, but Yamato does, and Sora’s given her word that he’s not a serial killer.”

“I’ve got higher standards than just ‘not a serial killer’,” Daisuke muttered into his own drink. He at least hoped whoever it was liked soccer. He’d never given much thought to what else he’d want in a boyfriend beyond that. Aside from being more or less sane and hopefully not someone he’d have to have a long distance relationship with. If he were going to date someone, he wanted to be able to date them in the flesh. Online was all right, but just not what he wanted.

He blew out air and leaned his head back. “All right. You guys aren’t going to leave me alone until I do this, are you?”

“Nope.” Taichi peered at him again, expression softening. “I promise, the guy knows how to take no for an answer. If you two don’t get along, then all you do is say that, and it’s good. He won’t bother you.”

Daisuke nodded; he hadn’t had a lot of bad luck in that department. Hikari and Takeru both backed off, mostly because they’d felt the same way he did about it, that they were better friends than anything else.

“So, what’s his name?”

Taichi's lips curved to a quick smile. “That’s not how a blind date works. You don’t know him until he introduces himself to you. Or you introduce yourself to him, whichever. He won’t know your name, either.”

Of course. They were going to go the whole way with this. But Daisuke leaned back and rubbed his face with one hand. One date. That was all that he needed to do and then he could go back to doing… nothing at all where his love life was concerned.

“Do I get to at least know when it is or do I just wait at home until there’s a knock on the door and trust that whoever it is, is my blind date and not some unapproved serial killer?”

“We’ll get it set up for you. You don’t have to worry, Daisuke. Taichi finished off his drink and gave the younger man what Daisuke thought was supposed to be a comforting pat on the back. He didn’t find himself very comforted.

Taichi shifted around a little, opening up a space next to himself, one filled a few moments later by a tall blond who squeezed Taichi’s hand in greeting. Yamato wasn’t much one for open demonstrations when they were out in public.

Though Daisuke knew very well when the two of them were alone together, they did a lot more than just ‘open demonstrations’. He’d had the bad luck to walk in on them once when they thought it was just them there. That hadn’t exactly contributed to his decision to break up with Hikari or Takeru, but ‘unwanted exposure to unexpected make-outs’ had been on his mental list for both of them.

“Well?” Yamato asked, cocking an eyebrow at Taichi and tilting his head toward Daisuke at the same time. “What do I tell – him?”

Daisuke might not have ever made the best grades when he was in high school – and still didn’t in college – but he wasn’t so out of it that he didn’t catch the way Yamato picked his words. Taichi had said that Yamato knew the guy. So this was probably his idea to start with.

“It’s a thing. Let him know.”

Daisuke rolled his eyes. “You guys could act less like secret agents. It wouldn’t hurt.” He shifted so he could see where the rest of Yamato’s band had ended up during their break. None of them really seemed like his type, and he kind of hoped that his friends would at least pick out someone who was his type for a blind date. Other than the band members, he didn’t know who else Yamato might know that could qualify as someone he might be interested in if he met them. Who did Yamato know who wasn’t in his band, anyway?

Neither of them said anything back and he refused to look over and see what they were doing. He might actually see what they were doing.

Instead, he let his gaze roam over the other people at the club. He’d never been too much for this kind of thing, but he got out at least once a week, because if he didn’t, Taichi and Yamato would do far worse than get hi set up on a blind date: they would let Takeru and Hikari know what he was doing – or not doing, as it were – and let them handle it.

As his primary exes, the two of them took it on themselves to keep an eye on Daisuke and make sure that he, in their words, was doing well and would eventually find himself a nice guy or girl to settle down with.

Telling them that he wasn’t even certain if he wanted to settle down with someone didn’t do a lot of good. At least they didn’t keep trying to get him to date. This blind date thing was new. Very new.

It kind of worried him more than he really wanted to think about anyway. Either they’d found someone they actually thought he’d be perfect with and couldn’t be bothered to introduce the two of them like normal human beings or they’d somehow got it into their heads that being single was some horrible thing that no one should ever be and wanted to make sure he wasn’t.

His main reassurance was that if Sora was involved though, Miyako was too, and the two of them both knew better than that.

“Daisuke!” Yamato rapped his knuckles on the table and Daisuke looked back, reassured that he’d not catch them sucking face with one another. From the dark mark on Taichi’s throat, they’d gotten that out of the way already. “I’ll talk to … my friend, and make sure that he’s willing to go along with this. If he is, Taichi’ll let you know when and where and how you’re going to recognize him.”

“Remember what I said about being less like secret agents?” Daisuke pointed out. “If you guys could do that...”

Both of them ignored him in favor of checking that everyone had everyone else’s number – except Daisuke and the mystery guy of course – and that getting in touch at any point wouldn’t be a problem. Daisuke focused on breathing and on the fact he wanted to get home soon anyway.

At least they were going to allow the two of them to decide for themselves where they would go and what they would do on their blind date. If they’d started trying to organize things that far, Daisuke would’ve pulled out no matter what.

He really didn’t know what he wanted to do, though. He usually decided that with whoever he was going on the date with.

I guess I can do that now, too. It’ll just be something we don’t decide in advance. Which was definitely fine by him. He preferred making things up as they went along anyway.

By the time all the details that the others insisted on were worked out – how he and the mystery person were going to recognize one another and where they’d meet – he was more than ready to head for home for the night.

“You are not going to regret this,” Taichi assured him. “I haven’t met the guy, but Yamato tells me you two are perfect for each other.”

“If we're not and he ends up strangling me, I’m going to haunt you both,” Daisuke replied. Taichi tilted his head at him, confused.

“What is your thing with serial killers and getting murdered? Is there something you’re not telling us?” The quirk of his lips told Daisuke that he wasn't serious about it.

“Well, meeting strange people doesn’t always work out. Just making sure you know the potential consequences.”

Taichi laughed and Daisuke rolled his eyes, paid off his bill, and headed out for home. As he passed the bar’s television, he caught sight of a televised soccer game, featuring Ichijouji Ken. Not quite pro level – yet – but everyone knew he’d be there one day. Daisuke held back a sigh.

Now that’s a guy I wouldn’t mind going out with. He wondered for a heartbeat if it were possible.

No. This was someone that Yamato knew, and if he knew Ichijouji Ken, then Daisuke would know about it. Yamato would’ve told Taichi, and Taichi would’ve told him.

But a guy could dream.



“No.”

Yamato tilted his head back and tried not to sigh. It wasn’t easy. But convincing Ken to do anything wasn’t easy, even with the edge that he had.

“It’s not that bad of an idea, is it?” he asked, shifting around to give him a look. Ken remained still and unloving on the couch, his cup of tea in his hands, and a stubborn look on his face.

He didn’t mention his edge. He knew Ken would go along with the idea, because he’d promised that he would. Ken never broke a promise if he could help it. He might try to put off fulfilling it, and Yamato wouldn’t have been surprised if he did his best to do that now, in the hopes it would end up being forgotten.

Fat chance there.

Ken didn’t lift his eyes from the tea. “You want me to go out on a date. With someone that you know.”

“He’s not a bad guy at all. I think he’s kind of cute.” Yamato shrugged. “My brother did, anyway.”

Ken now looked at him, something between curiosity and annoyance in his eyes. “You want me to date your brother’s ex?”

“He’s also Taichi’s sister’s ex,” Yamato offered, not sure if that would help or not. “It just never worked out with either of them. So, he’s single. I wouldn’t say he’s looking, but one date isn’t going to do any harm for either of you, is it?”

He’d never tried to set people up before. That was much more Sora or Miyako’s kind of thing. Mimi did it every now and then, too. But it really wasn’t what he was best at.

Ken remained quiet for another few minutes, taking gentle sips from his teacup. “He’s not… a fan, is he?”

Yamato thought about that before he answered. “I think he’s seen you play, but I’m pretty sure he will be able to say something intelligent when he sees you.” Probably. Sooner or later.

He knew what Ken meant. He didn’t like the idea of dating a ‘fan’ anymore than Ken did, since ‘fans’ had a pretty strong tendency to squeal and cling all over one and the only things they knew about you were the things in the magazines, and at least neither of them were idols who had to pretend not to have social lives.

At least no one gave him second looks over his relationship with Taichi. He was, after all, a musician, even if he didn’t plan to keep that up until he was old and gray.

Ken nodded, pressing his lips together, and stared further down into the teacup. “All right,” he finally decided. “But just one date.”

“That’s all that I ask,” Yamato said, doing his best to keep his voice as reasonable as possible.

He wanted to grab for his phone and let Taichi know that it was all set up on Ken’s end. Instead, he told Ken where and when he was to meet Daisuke – not calling him by name of course – and how they were to identify one another.

Six months earlier, he wouldn't have thought he’d be doing this at all. But when one found out that one of one’s own fans – and somehow with a rising amount of fame himself – would do almost anything for one’s autograph, and that one of your friends could use some serious social life-ing – at least that was what Taichi called it – and as far as he knew and as far as Sora and Miyako could figure out and they were the absolute best at helping match people together – the fan and the friend would be really great together…

Well, what else could he do but ask Ken to go out with Daisuke? Just one date, he’d insisted from the beginning, that was all this would be. At least for what they arranged.

If they wanted to have any others, that was completely on the two of them.



Ken politely bade Yamato farewell, then closed and locked the door behind him, going back to the couch and stretching out on it.

Why is this happening?

It was his own fault. He’d wanted Ishida Yamato’s autograph so much, and he’d never thought the musician would ask anything serious of him for it, even though he’d offered anything.

At most he’d expected Yamato to request if he could dedicate a song to him or something. The idea of a blind date hadn’t once crossed his mind.

And now he was going to have to deal with it. He hoped devoutly that everything would flop, that he and this person, whoever they were, would just not click, and that would be it. He wouldn’t have to worry anymore about it.

He didn’t look up when a soft gloved hand roamed through his hair. He knew who it was. There wasn’t anyone but this person who could get into his apartment without his permission or awareness.

“And what is the problem, my child?”

He refused to look open still, not even opening his eyes. He knew he’d see blond hair and blue eyes again, but ones that were far harsher and far colder than Yamato’s ever could be. But he answered. He couldn’t not answer.

“I have a blind date, my lord.” The words burned on his tongue. “Not until this weekend, though.”

“I see.” Still the other’s hand combed through Ken’s hair, spiking it up as he did. He liked to see Ken’s hair like this, though he’d never said why. Ken let it pass; he didn’t have a choice in the matter anyway. He could always comb it back down before anyone else saw it.

For a few moments, Ken thought he would just vanish without another trace. That would make him far happier than anything else at the moment. Then the other spoke again.

“Bring him to me. I’m in need of a good meal.”

Ken stiffened. “My lord… I can’t!”

His master’s hand clenched tight in his hair and Ken winced. “Explain.”

Ken expected that. He wasn’t allowed to deny him, after all.

“Because he’s got people who know him. Who care about him.” Clearly Yamato and Taichi did, or they wouldn’t be arranging this at all. “They would notice if anything happened to him.”

The grip eased a little. “You need not fear, my child. He will remember nothing when I’m done with him.” A low laugh that sent chills all through Ken echoed faintly. “Feed him well beforehand. But do not feed on him.”

Ken bent his head as much as he was allowed. “I understand, master.”

“Good. Now, speaking of feeding, I think you need to do that, don’t you?”

That pulled a shudder from Ken at the thought of what he’d have to do. His manager always complained that he was too thin for his size, that he should eat better, eat more. He’d lose his strength if he stayed like that!

As if that were possible. The only way he could lose his strength would be to lose his life.

Or unlife. Whichever.

His master pushed him, but not for getting up. After the last dozen years, Ken knew what was wanted of him, and he slipped down to his knees in front of his master.

“Open your eyes,” the older vampire ordered, and Ken obeyed, staring into the pale face of his lord. For reasons unknown to him, the elder one wore a scarlet mask across his eyes. Ken wondered now and then what he looked like underneath it.

His lord cupped Ken’s chin in one hand, staring into his eyes. Ken could feel him sorting through his thoughts, making certain Ken kept nothing from him.

Ken had tried that before, in the beginning. It didn’t go very well. He’d learned better now. He hid nothing and did nothing that he would have to hide.

“Go, my child. Feed well and return safely.”

Ken bent his head again, acknowledging his orders, and headed out of the apartment, taking a route he knew would take him to where muggers lurked.

If he had to feed, if he had to kill, then he much preferred to do so on those who walked dark paths by choice, not by necessity.

He kept on telling himself that anyone who mugged him would at least be taken off the streets, never to mug anyone else ever again. He’d been telling himself that no matter for the last twelve years.

He still hadn’t managed to convince himself. But he was working on it.

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