His wrist band buzzed and he brought his hand up to allow the hologram to light up the air in front of his face.
Get your lazy introverted ass up! We’re going to Lunacy!
Zuko stared at the text with a frown.
He was fairly certain Armani didn’t need to go anywhere for that. The heavy iron crested front door of his Central City condo slammed open so hard there was sure to be a fist-sized hole in the wall. Zuko’s eyes fall shut, a light throb of irritation moving across his temples. He knew he should have installed a Slid-Away door instead of the traditional hinged one.
“Are you getting dressed Bitch!” Armani’s voice had a sort of screechy hoarseness to it. A clear sign he was well on his way to being drunk.
Zuko opened his eyes to glare death at his best friend. Armani stood in the archway that held up his second story loft, like some kind of wannabe Asian rock star. With shimmering white leather pants, a sleeveless black muscle shirt, white Ozaki shades with greenish-blue lens, and his usual choppy, gelled, bleached out platinum blonde hair. Zuko eyed the ‘almost white’ blonde locks with a sneer.
“Where’s Darrien and Caleeci?”
“They’re meeting us there,” Armani answered with a shrug as he came to lean on the other side of the counter. “Now are you ganna get dressed or do I have to make you?”
“And why exactly are we going to this…” he waved his fork with pinched brows, “I assume, ridiculously over the top Cyberpunk club in the Underground,” He continued to eat the Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo pasta he’d made for himself, in nothing but the baggy athletic pants he’d thrown on that morning.
At Armani’s silence, he glanced over to find the most incredulous look on his face.
“Uh, cause it’s your birthday,” the blonde finally answered looking exasperated. “And jokes on you! Lunacy’s in Uptown.”
Zuko rolled his eyes. Like he gave a shit where the club actually was. “I was under the impression that one’s birthday entailed them to do as they pleased. Hence the day off, full of laziness.” Zuko spread his arms out indicating his lack of dress. He fought back a grimace as Armani’s eyes slid over the numerous crisscrossing horizontal scars running down both his forearms.
“Che your birthday isn’t about you,” Armani joked, trying to lighten the somber mood. “It’s about all the fuckers who want to get shit faced on your behalf.”
“You mean you.”
Armani scoffed, crossed his arms, and leaned in further. “Get your ass up and get dressed!”
Zuko grimaced. Why was it that he never seemed to be able to do the things he wanted to do on his birthday! Things that did not evolve going to places infested with ignorant fools who thought they had something to prove. His grimace deepened. He had a very distinct unpleasant memory of last year’s birthday fiasco. Armani had insisted on going to a cage fight in the Underground. Though, he supposed the new scar through his right eyebrow was a pretty cool souvenir.
“Or… I could pick out your clothes for you.” Armani obviously caught the look of horror that overcame his face as a huge manic grin bloomed across his own. “Oh yeah, I’m totally picking out your outfit,” he said as he swung around the banister and up the stairs. His annoying cackles made Zuko wish he was still standing in front of him so he could stab him in the throat with his fork.
“You could have at least closed the damn door!”
Zuko slipped through the mesh of bodies in the packed club like a dangerous predator stalking its prey through the underbrush. His presence didn’t go unnoticed, but one look from dark eyes had even the boldest person turning away.
He’d lost Armani at the door. Cornered by a pair of tatted up Asian girls demanding to know all about the Cheshire cat face and the quote ‘I don’t know if you’ve noticed… but I’m not all there” tattooed up the side of his neck. Zuko had bolted the moment he’d heard. Surprised they hadn’t caught sight of the glow of computer code tattooed in ultraviolet ink down the side of his face. The last thing he needed was some bitch clutching at his arm all night.
He stepped up to the bar and paused, drawing in a slow breath, as he locked eyes with a hypnotizing pair of electric green.
The three thin black interlocking triangles running through the man’s right eye boldly marked him a Triquetra.
Zuko rightfully should have had a similar mark of his own. But the Bastard who’d run his Chapter had cruelly denied him. Calmed the gang owned Zuko. That he wasn’t a member.
With thick buzz cut blonde hair and a cleanly shaven face, the man didn’t seem at all ashamed by the mark of his status. He held a steady gaze, clearly undeterred by wandering eyes.
Zuko slid onto a bar stool with a seductive smirk.
The Triquetra members up here on Paragon Station where High Command. If he could get some retribution for the way his Chapter Leader had treated him, then it would be well worth the risk of getting drawn back in.
“I’ll have an Old Fashioned on the rocks.”
“Nice to see somebody around here actually has taste…” The man gave him the look-over all bartenders do, that second-guessed their judgment in making him a drink and turned to pull out the ingredients. Zuko bit back a scowl. He wasn’t that young looking damnit. The club was 21 and up, he shouldn’t have to deal with his kind of crap tonight. “So what’s the occasion? You don’t seem too ecstatic to be here?”
“Twenty-seventh birthday.” He put a sneering emphasis on the 27. “And I’m not… My friend wouldn’t take no for an answer.” He tilted his head and raised an eyebrow. “But… Perhaps I can find something to make it worth my while,” he continued with a coy glance down the bartender’s body.
“Perhaps…” the man answered back with a sinfully attractive curve to his lips as he set his drink in Zuko’s hands.
“Happy Birthday,” a deep silvery voice whispered into his ear. He stiffened. His newly acquired drink almost slipped through his fingers.
“Zion!” He turned towards the older man in shock. “You… When?” He took a moment to compose himself. He set his drink on the counter, slid off the bar stool, and threw his arms around the taller man’s shoulders. Zuko felt his eyes burn as Zion hugged him back just as tight. It’d been way too long since he’d seen him. The rich scent of the Eternity cologne, he’d worn since high school, doing wonders to wash away all of his annoyances.
“Who’s this?” The Bartender’s voice was playful, but it had a dangerous undertone that had Zuko’s inside coiling. He suppressed an eye roll as he pulled away.
“My older brother.”
Zion gave the man an assessing look, eyeing the mark on his face, before pulling out his wallet and sliding a Black Card across the counter.
“Open a tab, for the two of us.” Zion indicated himself and Zuko. His lips pulled back into a smirk when the name on the card registered on the man’s face. No one messed with the Kusanagi family.
The only reason he’d gotten tangled up with the gang in the first place, was because Zuko himself had sought them out. Against his family’s wishes. And his Chapter Leader was a psychopath with a death wish.
Zion didn’t have to use words to make it clear he was off limits. Zuko felt a tension he hadn’t even realized was there unlocked. The possessive jealousy of a Triquetra was dangerous and Zuko was done being owned.
“Come on,” Zion pocketed his wallet before guiding them towards an outdoor balcony. “I have something I need to tell you.”
“Zuko! Happy Birthday!” A rollout party whistle was blown in his face before he even had time to registrar the other person’s presence. Zuko cringed, jerking back a step. What the hell was Kosmo Faunus doing here? He caught sight of Caleeci’s gleeful look over Kosmo’s shoulder and scowled. Darrien caught his eye and mouthed an apology before rolling his eyes towards his wife.
“Come, come,” Kosmo grabbed his hand and pulled him off towards the back of the club. His fingers were trembling. Weather from excitement or nervousness Zuko wasn’t sure. Even in the darkness of the club, he could see how red Kosmo’s ears and cheekbones had turned. “I ordered you a birthday cake– Oh, don’t make that face.” He pouted at him. “I made sure they made it more creamy and less sugary. I think it came out really awesome!”
He shot his brother an apologetic look. Zion shook his head, a coy smirk blooming across his face. The Bastard always had liked watching him struggle with the over dramatic affections of any of his admirers.
They came through a door to a private room and Zuko frowned. It wasn’t as bad as he’d been dreading. Even the rainbow-colored ribbon design on the cake. The rest of the decorations, most likely picked out by Caleeci, where a very tasteful silver, black, and green.
“Happy twenty-seventh!” Armani shoved his way in-between Kosmo and him, slung an arm around his shoulders, and held out a gigantic lime green margarita.
“Well,” Zion slid past them, “I suppose this means we need to light your candles and sing you happy birthday.” He stepped up to the cake and pulled out a lighter.
“Oh God, please don’t.” Zuko raised an eyebrow at the lighter. Had he started smoking? His brother had been suck a health freak back when they were still in High School. Always on his case about his own bad habits. He fingered the Zippo and pack of cigarettes in his pocket.
“Okay, guys!” Zuko cut in, stepping up to grab Zion’s arm and pull him away from the cake, and the nightmare that was unfolding. “Thank you for the cake, Kosmo.” He held back a grimace at the man’s blushing infatuation and ushered Zion to the door. “But, before you drug me in here, my brother had something he needed to discuss with me, so...”
“Finally going to tell him?”