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Boozers

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“Shura, I can’t just go to some bar like this, I’ve got Yukio to get back to.” Shiro protested as the woman dragged him along by the arm.

“Tch. Yeah right. We both know chicken won’t be done with his field time till morning, and besides that, the kid can take care of himself. You need to take some time away for yer’ self!” The woman replied, tightening her grip on the man’s wrist.

“Kigurakure-san is right, Fujimoto-san, it’s about time you get away and enjoy yourself, you work too hard.” A young exorcist that had been working with them on their mission chimed in from his left.

Shiro sighed, seeing no point in arguing any further, knowing he wouldn’t be able to get out of this. It wasn’t even that he was put off by the idea of a night off, it was just that he had things that prioritize over it. Things being Yukio and his work as an exorcist, especially with Yukio being so close to becoming a full-fledged exorcist. As proud as he was of his son, the reality of him really becoming an exorcist, especially so young, has been weighing down on him. If he could choose, Yukio wouldn’t be anywhere near the world of demons and exorcists, but that ship has long sailed and Yukio was insistent that this is what he would do with his life.

“See! Even Hamasaki agrees with me. So don’t worry yer little butt and let’s get goin’, happy hour starts soon and I don’t wanna miss it.” Shura said, releasing Shiro’s wrist and picking up her pace.

Looking around him warily, Shiro called out to the woman now several feet ahead of him. “Where exactly is this bar?”

Turning her head towards him with a cheeky grin she replied. “What? Don'cha trust my taste in drinkin’ holes? It’s only another block away so hurry up, this place gets pretty busy at night.”

Holding back a sigh he sped up, throwing an exasperated glance at Hamasaki who seems to be struggling with the woman’s fast pace.

“What kind of decent establishment could be in this dingy part of Southern Cross?..” Hamasaki muttered under his breath.

Shiro had to agree. They were deep downtown in Southern cross, which was well known to be home to several gangs and - less known - demons. The only reason they were in the area was to take out a couple powerful Naberius’ terrorizing the people here, and Shura, of course, knew about this great bar nearby which how he landed here.

“Ah! There it is!” Shura called back, walking back to them, grabbing their wrists and pulling them forward.

Looking up at the building, Shiro had to admit, it wasn’t too shabby. It was on the smaller size but made do with what it had. Most of the front was taken up by an elevated sitting area with a short fence and bushes surrounding it, several tables and chairs taking up its space. Looking past the people happily chatting away and drinking, Shiro could see that large glass doors led inside. Quickly making his way up the concrete steps leading to the main entrance, he looked up at the lit up sign, cleverly named Boozers.

Glancing to the left side of the staircase he met eyes with a young man, maybe mid-twenties, making his way out of the bar. Taking in his form, black hair, strong jaw, blue eyes, and navy bomber jacket to match, Shiro had the strangest feeling that he knew the man, something familiar about him that Shiro felt in his gut. Something about him, his eyes maybe. There was also something odd about the way the man stared back at him as if he was analyzing, calculating every part of Shiro that made him, him. Then as if a spell had been broken, the man’s eyes went blank and he turned away, passing the Paladin without another glance.

Strange, he thought, shaking his head, maybe he could use a drink.

“Shiro, you comin’ or what?” Shura called back at the man, waiting at the entrance while Hamasaki held open the door.

Looking back up at the two, he nodded and quickly took the last steps, glancing behind him to maybe catch another look at the man only to see no sight of him.

Strange indeed, Shiro thought to himself as he made his way into the bar.

***

The night of drinking then began without any other disturbances and ended with a very drunk Hamasaki, a happily buzzed Shiro, and a tipsy Shura dragging a frightened man back to her place.

Weeks went by and Shiro managed to get by without any of Shura’s drinking exploits. Ironically enough, a beer was sounding increasingly appealing as the days went on. With Yukio being away on missions with his class so often now that their final test was fast approaching, Shiro was more stressed than ever. As much as he knew Yukio could handle himself - he was the best in his class - the danger of what he was doing worried Shiro endlessly.

Besides his worry for Yukio, the Vatican seemed to be assigning him one mission after the other, and while it helped distract him from worrying for Yukio too much, it was wearing down on him physically, he hasn’t been so sore in his life. The Vatican is really gonna have to ease up on the slave driving if they want him to be still exorcising demons a year from now. Fortunately, after reporting for a particularly messy mission involving a horde of Molbs, they gave him the okay to go home and clean up without assigning any more missions.

Returning to the monastery Shiro quickly made his way to Yukio’s bedroom to greet him since he hasn’t had a chance to speak to him in a few days. Only to find the boy sound asleep at his desk, drooling onto a thick mathematics book. Letting out a soft chuckle he grabbed a small blanket from the boy’s bed and placed it over his shoulders, quietly leaving the room and heading to his bathroom to clean up the molb gook he’s currently covered in.

Towel drying his hair and throwing his slimy clothes into the wash, Shiro considered his options, he could eat a late dinner and head to bed, but he wouldn’t want to wake the clergymen and Yukio by making a racket in the kitchen. That bar did have some good looking burgers and onion rings on their menu.. and he could get that beer he had been wanting.. Alright, Boozer’s it is then.

A thirty-minute walk later, Shiro opened the door to Boozer’s and stepped inside, looking around he took in the homey atmosphere. The bar seemed busy tonight so he took a seat by the fence and bushes outside, hoping to get a break from the loud laughing inside. Settling himself in his seat he took a look at the small menu left on the table.

“Can I get you anything?”

Turning his head to see the friendly waitress to his left, he replied. “Yeah, can I get the double-bacon cheeseburger, some onion rings, and a beer on tap.” He finished, giving her a friendly smile.

Writing his order on her notepad she looked up at him “Would you like to pay now or start a tab?” she asked

“I’ll start a tab.” He replied handing her his debit card.

“Okay, your order will be ready in about five minutes.” She said cheerfully, turning around and heading back inside.

A few minutes of star gazing later, the waitress came back with two plates and a mug of frothy beer that made Shiro’s mouth water. As soon as she set the food on his table he dug in, taking a big bite of his juicy burger. Damn, Shura really knew how to pick the places. Finishing his burger, he began inhaling his beer and onion rings.

“Excuse me.” A soft voice called from his right.

Turning his head, his eyes widened to see the familiar face from the last time he was here, same navy blue eyes and bomber jacket. “Yes?” He replied, trying to calm his surprise.

“Do you mind if I sit with you? The other tables are full.” The man said, face giving away nothing.

Looking around him, he saw that the other tables were indeed full. “Of course,” he said with a small smile, gesturing to the seat across from him.

“Thank you,” he replied and pulled out the chair.

Shiro took a swig from his mug as he watched the man settle in his seat and raise two fingers signaling for the waitress. Before the waitress could speak upon reaching their table, he took the lead. “Beer on tap,” he said just loud enough for her to hear, handing her a card. Nodding with a soft blush she headed back inside.

Setting his beer down, Shiro popped an onion ring in his mouth, basking in the salty flavor. Looking up he saw the man staring right back at him. “I’m Shiro Fujimoto, you are?” He said, deciding to break the odd silence, holding out his hand to him.

Looking down at his hand for a moment as if contemplating something, the man finally took it and shook it gently. “I’m Rin,” he replied

Seeing that the man - Rin, had seemingly no intentions of letting go of his hand, he gave another firm shake and pulled back, taking another sip of his beer. “No surname?” he asked finding it odd for him to introduce himself with only his first name.

Looking down at his own hand and back up to Shiro, he replied with a simple. “No.”

“Ah. Okay then, why don’t you call me Shiro then, it’s only fair.” The Paladin said with a grin, for some reason feeling a need to be kind to the man.

Shiro.” The man said as if the name somehow held the secrets of the universe.

“H-Here’s your beer.” The waitress interrupted, setting the glass mug in front of Rin, wiping the condensation off on her apron, and looking at the man expectantly.

“Thank you,” Rin said, glancing up at her briefly before focusing back on Shiro.

With a soft scoff, the woman left without a scene. Huh. Shiro thought she was attractive enough, maybe just not his type.

Shiro cleared his throat. “So where are you from Rin?”

Rin furrowed his brows. “I was born in Japan but..moved down south,” he replied

“How south are we talking?” Shiro asked, curious as to where this strange man came from.

“Australia,” Rin replied

“Ah, that's pretty far away. So what are you doing back in Japan?” The Paladin asked

Taking a sip from his mug and licking the foam from his upper lip Rin sighed. “Vacation, needed to get away from my relatives.”

Shiro let out a chuckle. “Get away from them? Usually, it’s the other way around,” he said grinning at the man. “So you and your family don’t really get along then?” he inquired

Looking at Paladin with what looked like curiosity, he replied hesitantly. “My father monarchs over me, it can become overbearing.”

Shiro threw his head back with a laugh to that one. “Monarchs? C’mon you have to be exaggerating.”

“I am not,” Rin replied, to which Shiro cracked up to. “You have any family?” he asked curiously

Suppressing any more laughter, Shiro smiled taking another swig from his mug. “I have a son.”

Rin looked a bit puzzled at that. “How old?”

“He’s fourteen already.” The Paladin responded, a soft smile on his face. “Time sure does fly by.”

“It does, doesn't it,” Rin replied, a faraway look on his face.

“Anyways, any siblings?” Shiro asked

Taking a long drink, gulping loudly, Rin frowned. “I have several,” he replied

“You get along?” The Paladin asked

“As well as can be expected,” he responded, continuing upon seeing Shiro’s confused face. “We all sort of work together, it can get competitive so we all end up fighting a bit,” he explained

“Ah, makes sense. What do you do?” Shiro asked, popping another onion ring in his mouth.

“It’s a..family business, my father owns a lot of land, I take care of.. pests. Random jobs here and there, stuff like that.” Rin replied

“Huh. Sounds interesting.” Shiro said, a thoughtful look on his face.

“What do you do?” Rin countered the man’s question.

At times like these Shiro was thankful for having his monastery. “I’m a priest, I own a monastery a bit uptown.”

“Aren’t priests suppose to abstain alcoholic beverages?” Rin questioned looking confused as he glanced down the mug in the man’s hand.

“Heheh.” Shiro chuckled nervously, setting his beer on the table. “I’m not a traditionalist you see.”

“Oi! Shiro! What’re you doin’ here?” A voice Shiro recognized very well shouted from the glass doors leading out to the patio.

Turning his head he saw few exorcists and Shura make their way over to them, swaying her hips upon seeing Rin sitting with him.

“And who’s this?” She said in a lower voice upon reaching the table, bending down and wrapping an arm around his shoulder, jutting her chest out in front his face, to which Rin scrunched his nose at.

“Ah, Shura I was just having a drink with Rin here. Rin this is-” Shiro started

“The name is Kirigakure Shura, it’s a pleasure to meet you Rin.” She murmured seductively against Rin’s ear.

Clearing his throat Rin pulled away from Shura and stood up from his seat. “It was nice speaking with you Shiro, I’ll see you around,” he said meeting the Paladin’s eyes.

“Miss Kigurakure,” Rin noted, stepping around her and heading back through the glass doors.

Rin gone Shura scoffed “What the hell was that?!”

Shiro, along with the woman’s companions chuckled softly.

Turning to the Paladin, Shura had an incredulous look on her face. “What the hell was that Shiro?” She repeated

Trying to keep in his laughter he responded. “I don’t think he was interested.”

“How could he not be interested? My charm is irresistible!” She said, sitting down on Rin’s chair and chugging what was left of his beer, slamming it back on the table

“Consider him an anomaly,” Shiro replied with a soft grin.