Jason wished that his younger brother Riley and his friend Keith would stop smiling at one another. It was a horrible thought to have, but ever since they’d returned from their vacation the two of them had been so openly affectionate that it was sickening. He wasn’t sure what had happened between the two of them, but they’d gone from yelling at one another to proudly announcing to the rest of the group that they were soulmates literally overnight.
They were supposed to be having drinks together, but what that apparently involved now was Keith and Riley curled up in one corner together, and Jason’s older brother Grant and his soulmate Daisy in another corner. Ollie and Vincent had snuck off earlier in the night, a packet of something that was probably illegal being shuffled between them as they went, and Liza was apparently on a date with a guy who’s name was also Jason, which wasn’t weird at all.
It left Jason feeling completely alone, which was bullshit. He wasn’t so blind to his own emotions that he didn’t recognize the pit of anger in his stomach as the jealousy it was, but it still wasn’t fair.
He glanced at his still-covered wrist, as though it was solely responsible for his terrible mood. He was the only one among his friends who still had a black soulbrand, and if that had been it then maybe he could have quieted the surges of jealousy and loneliness that kept gripping him, but he still had no idea what gender or nationality his soulmate was supposed to be. For all he knew Vaas was stuck on the other side of the world, just as lonely and miserable as he was, and wondering when the fuck Jason was finally going to show up.
It was bullshit, no matter how he looked at it, and as Jason ordered another drink and tried to block out the sound of Daisy and Grant laughing, he wondered how drunk he would have to be before it stopped hurting.
There was the sound of someone shouting, and the music was loud, but not so loud that Jason couldn’t recognize the sound of his friend Keith’s voice. He’d heard him yelling often enough.
Fuck. Not another fight. He’d hoped that Keith’s relationship with Riley might have calmed the other man down a little bit, but apparently not.
He turned around on the bar stool knowing that he might need to intervene at any moment. It wouldn’t be the first time, and probably not the last either. He knew Keith’s temper all too well.
“Listen; whatever the fuck you want, you’re not getting it from Riley, you asshole!” Keith was screaming.
The object of his anger seemed to be a Hispanic guy with a short mohawk and more jewelry adorning his face and arms than all the members of Jason’s group put together. He looked dangerous, and he had broad shoulders and muscled arms to boot. Jason wondered if Keith had bit off more than he could chew with this one.
“It’s okay,” Riley said, gently tugging on Keith’s arm. “He wasn’t…”
“It’s not okay!” Keith shouted at Riley. “Nobody bugs you when I’m around. Nobody!”
Keith scowled, but if he was trying to intimidate his opponent then it wasn’t working. The guy with the mohawk just laughed.
“Ooh…” Mohawk Guy waved his hands in the air, mocking Keith. “Tough guy’s gotta prove he’s a man in front of his little boyfriend. That it?”
Jason sighed, and got up from his bar stool, knowing that after a taunt like that it was no longer a question of ‘if’ so much as ‘when’ this would turn physical.
Keith sputtered for a moment, and then, with a loud cry of “fuck you” that he managed to shout at the exact time the music was at its lowest, he threw a punch.
Mohawk Guy was quick though, and managed to side-step the swing, laughing at Keith’s unsuccessful attempt to hurt him. Jason cursed as a guy and his overly tanned and completely wasted girlfriend stumbled into his way. He shoved between the two of them and hurried towards Keith, Riley and their new acquaintance. He was too late to stop it breaking out into violence, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t stop it from getting worse.
Mohawk Guy had yet to take a swing, but the fact that his opponent had dodged Keith’s first punch had just managed to piss Keith off even more than he had been before. Jason could see his friend’s fist clenching, could see the punch he was planning to throw at the other guy’s face, and charged towards Keith, grabbing his arm and hoping he would be able to stop Keith from launching another attack.
Keith whirled around straight away, and before he had even registered who was holding onto his arm, his free hand formed into a fist which he slammed right into Jason’s face.
“Oh fuck!” Jason screamed, immediately letting go of Keith’s arms so that he could bring both hands up to cup his face.
He’d felt part of his nose collapse as Keith’s fist had connected with it, and sure enough he felt a small torrent of warm blood emerging from his nose and trickling over his fingers.
“Fuck,” he repeated, the words much more muffled thanks to his hands and the blood streaming down his face.
“Oh shit,” he heard Keith say. The beginnings of an apology started to emerge from Keith’s mouth, but he was quickly interrupted as Mohawk Guy finally retaliated, his fist connecting with Keith’s cheek with enough force that Keith went flying to the floor.
Keith brought his hand up to his jaw, obviously feeling the punch.
“I wouldn’t get up if I was you hermano,” Mohawk Guy warned Keith. Jason hoped that his friend would listen, but knew by the scowl on Keith’s face that the fight wasn’t over yet.
Mohawk Guy moved to kick Keith, but Keith grabbed the other man’s cargo pants, making him fall to the floor alongside him. The two of them began throwing punches and kicks, while Jason rolled his eyes and hoped he wasn’t getting too much blood on his shirt.
“Come on guys!” Riley called out uselessly from not too far away. “Stop already!”
Keith and Mohawk Guy weren’t listening though, both of them far too focused on trying to beat the other into submission. Eventually Keith managed to throw the other man off him and Jason looked over at Riley, seeing a chance for the two of them to end the fight. He nodded at Riley and then Keith, hoping his younger brother would get the message. Jason moved to grab hold of the stranger, while Riley, having completely understood Jason, had moved to grab Keith.
Keith struggled a little, but was then perfectly still as Riley’s arms wrapped around his shoulders.
“Enough!” Riley demanded.
Jason’s charge however was being less co-operative.
“Fucking pretty-boy,” Mohawk Guy grumbled. “Let me go you stupid fuck.”
“For fuck’s sake,” Jason grumbled. “It’s over. You both lost. No-one is impressed.”
Mohawk Guy tried to shrug off Jason’s arms, but Jason had no intention of letting go until he was absolutely sure that the stranger and Keith weren’t going to try to kill each other as soon as they were released.
The fight had gathered a small audience, which now parted to let through a large man in the cheapest looking suit Jason had ever seen.
“Oh, so now you show up,” Jason muttered. He would have been a lot happier to see the club’s security a few minutes earlier.
“You four,” the bouncer growled, pointing at Keith, Riley, Jason and their new friend. “Out, and don’t try anything cute.”
Jason thought he heard Mohawk Guy mutter something under his breath as they both got to his feet. He didn’t hear all of it, but he was still absolutely sure the security guard wouldn’t have liked it.
Keith was being a little less subtle with his cursing, but considering what a mess he was currently in, it might have been understandable. He was leaning on Riley as he walked, and as cruel as it might have been, Jason couldn’t help but feel like Keith deserved it. He would get no pity from Jason, considering what he’d put Riley through. Not to mention how sore Jason’s face still was. At least his nose had stopped bleeding.
The bouncer escorted them through the club, but as soon as they were outside he strolled back to his post just by the door. It wasn’t as though there was anyone trying to get in at this hour of the night, which meant that there was nothing for the bouncer to do but glare at the four of them. Jason came to the conclusion that he hated the guy.
It felt weirdly quiet and empty outside after the loud thumping of the music, the sweat, and the smell of sex and alcohol that had been inside the club.
“I’m gonna take Keith home,” Riley told Jason.
“Bullshit you are,” Keith muttered, although he was still having to lean on Riley as he walked.
“Shut up!” Riley snapped, with an uncharacteristic amount of authority, and Keith was cowed into silence.
Beside Jason, Mohawk Guy let out a chuckle.
“Talk to you tomorrow,” Jason told his younger brother.
“Yeah,” Riley replied. “Sorry about… well…”
He shrugged, indicating his only half-conscious soulmate. Jason waved away Riley’s worries, and leaned back against the cool brick wall of the club, watching as his younger brother and Keith stumbled towards Keith’s car.
Jason found himself sharing the stretch of wall with Keith’s opponent. Mohawk Guy pulled out a cigarette and lit it, while the bouncer eyed them warily from his post by the door. Jason watched as the actually rather nicely built man took a long slow draw from the cigarette, his lips caressing the paper and dried leaves like it was the most amazing thing he had ever tasted.
Now that he was closer Jason could make out the large scar that ran down one side of the other man’s head. He wondered how the other man had gotten it, and whether incidents like the one with Keith weren’t all that uncommon in the other man’s life. There were dark rings beneath his eyes, which were dark as well, and Jason couldn’t help but feel that his earlier assessment of the other man as dangerous had been right.
The other man must have felt Jason’s eyes on him, because he stopped, withdrew the cigarette from his mouth and offered it to Jason.
“Want some?” he asked when Jason didn’t immediately grab the cigarette.
Jason was surprised the other man was willing to be friendly after what had happened inside the club. Then again, from what little he knew of the situation, it seemed as though Keith had been the one looking for a fight. Maybe the stranger wasn’t so dangerous. Maybe just unlucky.
“No thanks,” Jason replied. “I don’t smoke.”
“This is not tobacco,” the other guy said, the sides of his mouth twitching up into a half-smile.
Jason sniffed the smoke that was coming from the cigarette, and realized the other man was telling the truth. It was marijuana, and a pretty strong blend if the smell was any indication.
It was tempting. Then again, accepting anything from a dangerous looking man that had been beating up one of his friends a few minutes ago probably wouldn’t be one of the smartest things he’d ever done. What the hell though, right? It wasn’t as though he hadn’t smoked marijuana before, and his nose was still pretty sore.
He accepted the joint with a quiet mutter of thanks, took a deep breath and the handed it back to his new friend. Jason’s phone vibrated in his pocket, his message tone chimed loudly, and he groaned as he retrieved it from the recesses of his jeans pocket.
It was Grant, wanting to know what had happened and where the hell he and Riley had gone.
“I suppose I should reply to this,” Jason though aloud, typing a reply and wondering if his new friend would mind him stealing another few puffs.
“Your friends?” Mohawk Guy asked.
Jason nodded, not sure if he could be bothered explaining that no, actually, it was his brother, because that was too much fucking effort.
“Well, if they’re anything like that asshole I beat up then I’m afraid your friends aren’t worth shit, hermano.”
Jason chuckled, hit send once he’d finished typing a quick reply, and then gestured for the man to pass him the joint again. Mohawk Guy handed it over and watched, perhaps a little too closely, as Jason took another deep breath of the weed.
Jason realized then that by sharing the joint he was indirectly kissing the other man, and quickly suppressed that thought before his mind ran away with him.
“Keith’s the worst,” Jason said as he handed the joint back to its owner. “The others aren’t so bad. What was all that fighting about anyway?”
“Probably fucking nothing. Thought I heard the younger guy, his soulmate or whatever, say something is all. Apparently the stupid fuck doesn’t like people talking to his boyfriend, like he’s his private, personal property or some sort of bullshit. I’m telling you hermano, that shit ain’t healthy.”
The joint was almost finished, and Jason’s new friend took one last deep breath from it before dropping it on the ground and stomping out the ashes with the heel of one of his big, black boots. A little way away the security guard glanced down at the stub, one eyebrow rising as though he actually expected one of them to dispose of the stub in a more appropriate fashion. Jason’s new friend just raised an eyebrow in reply. The security guard frowned, but apparently cigarette stubs in the carpark weren’t as important as keeping his post, so he stayed where he was, arms folded and a frown directed at the two men.
“What did Riley say?” Jason asked, now curious. “Or, what did you think he said?”
“It’s probably nothing,” Jason’s friend replied with a shrug. “Just looking for someone and thought that guy said his name.”
“Jason. Like I said hermano, it’s probably fucking nothing, right? There are so many fucking Jasons in California. Kinda pisses me off sometimes.”
Jason froze as the other man stomped on the joint a couple more times as though it were somehow responsible for all of the man’s problems.
“Well, you probably heard right,” Jason told him. “My name’s Jason. That guy you were talking to is my brother.”
The other man stopped mid-stomp and looked over at Jason as though he’d just performed a miracle.
“Probably not the Jason you’re looking for, right?” Jason asked.
“I don’t know,” the other man said, relaxing a little. “You might be. Why the fuck not, right? Got as good a chance of it being you as anyone else.”
Might be? This guy didn’t know? What, was his soulmate’s name Jason or something? A quick glance at the other man’s left wrist revealed that it was still covered with a wide leather bracelet. He probably hadn’t met his soulmate then. What if…?
Jason tried to ignore the thoughts that were swimming through his head. No way. There was no way he was the right Jason. That would make this guy Vaas; the person Jason had waited fucking forever to meet. There was no way he had just met his soulmate because of Keith getting into another fucking fight. That would be the stupidest fucking way to meet a soulmate ever.
The stranger was pretty hot in a terrifying way though, although Jason couldn’t be entirely sure that wasn’t just the pot talking. There was something about his eyes, so dark and dangerous, and those broad, well-muscled shoulders.
No. There was no point in getting worked up over a maybe. He’d fallen for that before, and it always hurt when ‘maybe’ inevitably turned into ‘no’.
“I’m Vaas,” the other man offered, as though the revelation was nothing, and didn’t make Jason’s heart skip a few beats and his entire world turn sideways.
Vaas looked at Jason as though he was worried about him, and Jason realized he hadn’t moved at all over the last few seconds. If they were a little more respectable then perhaps he would have offered Vaas his hand so that they could shake. They were not respectable though, and Jason could not think of a single thing to say to the other man, all thought having rapidly fled his brain as soon as Vaas had introduced himself.
“You okay hermano?” Vaas asked. “You’ve gone really fucking pale Jason. Even more fucking pale than you were before. Fucking white boy.”
“I’m the right Jason,” he told Vaas. “At least, I think I’m the right Jason.”
I hope I am, he added silently, as Vaas’s eyes roamed over Jason’s face as though he was waiting for the punchline; waiting for the moment when this all blew up in both their faces.
“You’re Vaas, right?” Jason tried. “V. A. A. S?”
Vaas nodded slowly.
He couldn’t hold it in anymore. He threw himself at the other man, wrapping his arms around his shoulders and pulling him close.
“I’ve been waiting for you my whole fucking life!” he cried out.
Vaas was still and silent for a moment, and Jason wondered if he’d fucked up somehow.
“Jason?” Vaas asked, his voice barely more than a whisper.
The other man already knew his name, but Jason knew that wasn’t what the question was really about. Was he Vaas’s Jason? Really? The one the other man had been waiting for what, to Jason at least, had felt like forever?
Jason nodded, knowing that even if Vaas couldn’t see him he would feel the movement of Jason’s head against his shoulder. Vaas’s hands flew up to wrap around Jason’s shoulders and pull him even closer. After a few moments Jason realized the other man was shaking slightly, although he couldn’t tell whether he was laughing or crying.
“Holy fuck,” Vaas muttered, chuckling at the end of it, and Jason realized that the shaking had most definitely been laughter. He was more than a little relieved, even if Vaas’s raw, scratchy laughter was incredibly infectious and already making the smile on his face widen. “Holy fuck hermano…”
Vaas then broke off into a long string of jumbled Spanish, none of which Jason caught, partially because it was broken up with both laughter and expletives.
“God, I am so fucking glad that Keith picked a fight with you,” Jason said, realizing he was getting closer to laughing along with Vaas with every word that he said.
Vaas smothered his laughter in Jason’s shoulder and eventually managed to speak again.
“Remind me to thank him, yeah?”
Jason chuckled and pulled back from the hug to look at his soulmate… well, probably, almost definitely soulmate… a little better, taking in his features properly this time and realizing just how fucking good-looking his soulmate really was.
Jason knew that they should really check their soulbrands and make sure this wasn’t a false alarm, but what were the odds of him finding another Vaas looking for a guy named Jason? It could wait.
“Ah shit, you’ve gotten blood all over my fucking clothing,” Vaas grumbled, but he didn’t really sound upset, and the smile certainly hadn’t disappeared from his face.
“Ah shit. Sorry,” Jason said, although he was still smiling as well. “Well, at least your shirt’s red, so it’s not too obvious, right?”
“Yeah, I totally fucking planned that Jason,” Vaas muttered. “As I’m getting dressed I’m thinking, ‘I’m gonna wear red, so that when my soulmate bleeds all over me tonight, it isn’t gonna show too bad’.”
Jason chuckled. Vaas grinned over at him, and the other man’s grin did all sorts of interesting things to Jason’s heart and cock. He wondered whether he should invite Vaas back to his apartment, or whether it would be better to take things a little slower.
“Vaas?” Jason said, relishing the sound of the name on his tongue. He’d always wondered exactly how his soulmate’s name would be pronounced when he did finally find them. It turned out ‘Vaas’ was pronounced exactly like Jason had always pronounced inside the privacy of his own mind.
“Yeah Jason?” Vaas replied.
Jason grabbed both of Vaas’s hands in his own and played with them, entwining their fingers and running his thumbs over the back of Vaas’s palms. The other man’s eyes went wide as they fixated on their entwined hands.
“Do you have a car around here somewhere?”
He wasn’t sure that he wanted to take the other man home just yet, but if they were going to get any further than simple touches then Jason didn’t want it to be in front of the bouncer, who was still glaring at them from his perch by the door.
“Nooo,” Vaas replied, drawing the word out slowly. “Can’t fucking drink and drive hermano. That’s real fucking bad for you, you know?”
Jason couldn’t help but grin. They had met because of a bar fight and had shared a joint within minutes of meeting, but his soulmate was lecturing him about driving under the influence. Vaas was already one of the most interesting people Jason had met.
“We can catch a cab?” Jason suggested, as Vaas rubbed his own thumbs over the skin on Jason’s hands. They were rough, but the touch was surprisingly gentle.
“Okay Jason,” Vaas replied, “but where did you wanna go?”
The movement of both of their hands stilled.
“I don’t know,” Jason replied, suddenly aware of the fact that they seemed to be drifting slowly closer towards one another. “Anywhere I guess.”
They had their first kiss then, right in front of the cheap bar where they’d both been injured, with the bar’s bouncer rolling his eyes at them from his perch by the door. It was a slow, soft kiss, and they both tasted like alcohol and weed and Jason’s blood.
Later, they would both look back on that night and agree that it was one of the best nights of their lives and the beginning of something truly wonderful.