Nooj speaks to Isaaru.
"So you know me?" Nooj asked in a way that was more of a statement than anything. The Summoner noticed because his blue eyes narrowed while he propped his chin against the knuckles of his hand.
"How can I not?" He replied. He scanned Nooj very carefully, like a botanist would look at a mutant plant. Nooj did not waver for a single moment. The Summoner was handsome, with angular features covered by unpreened dark red hair and the robes flattered his fair skin. He could not have been much older than Nooj himself. "My brother Maroda has told me all about you, and I have my resources." The Summoner leaned back with a slight, ironic smile. "You are Nooj the Undying. You seek death and yet death does not seek you." Before Nooj could answer, the Summoner again narrowed his eyes. "What do you want?"
That single word said quietly carried enough power to force the Summoner to lean forward, his arm resting against the bar, and the drink ignored. The Summoner's raised his eyebrows.
The Summoner chuckled quietly, "My, you are bold, but that is how you attained your reputation. People adore you and yet death is not as appealing to them as it is to you."
"Is death appealing to you?" Nooj waved away the bartender. He wanted no one interrupting him. Again, the Summoner's eyes were sharp as they looked carefully over the mechanized parts that replaced Nooj's left arm and leg. Nooj had no doubt that the Machina limbs bothered the other man a great deal, but the Summoner concealed it well.
"Death is a necessity."
Nooj was not surprised the Summoner would say something like that, but he doesn't find that answer satisfactory.
"Would that include those who died because of Sin?"
The Summoner nodded, "Yes, unfortunately. All death is necessary." He turned away to take a sip from his drink.
The Summoner took his time to slowly turn around, his eyes fixed in a glare, "Especially mine." He reared back, his breath coming out in slow, deliberate gasps. It's clear to Nooj that the Summoner does not quite know what to do with him. Rejection seemed out of the question, but acceptance wasn't quite the answer either. "You Crusader sorts all think the exact same way. It's ironic, really. Your sort do you best to damn Yevon and his followers and yet your sort do not seem much different, except that the Crusaders follow the wrong path."
"So, my friend was right about you," Nooj answered. "You are a devout Yevonite."
The Summoner's voice cut through the noise addled air like a razor, "Of course I am."
Exactly what Nooj thought. When Baralai mentioned that Isaaru was "sure to be a devout Yevonite", Nooj had already known that such a statement should go without saying. Nooj may have lost two of his limbs, but he never lost his instinct. The very same one that was currently telling him that the Summoner held the tightrope and was about to shake it.
"You, however, are not," the Summoner continued before Nooj could get any word in. Not that he needed to. Anyone with a brain knew Nooj's feelings on religion. All it took was to know who he was, as the Summoner clearly did.
Nooj smiled a tight-lipped smile. "No, I'm not. That's obvious."
"If you intend to start a fight with me--"
"I have not intention of doing that," Nooj interrupted without any urgency or pleading in his voice. "When I told you that I wanted you, a fight was not what I intended." Nooj looked directly into the Summoner's eyes. "If I were to fight you, I would surely lose."
"Yes, you would," the Summoner replied, his finger hovering over the top of the shot glass. "However, I don't believe that you are here because you are truly interested in me."
"I don't care what you believe."
Upon hearing that, the Summoner raised his eyebrows before leaning forward with a newly sharpened glare, "Then I'll tell you what I know. You're here on a challenge. No, no one challenged you. You challenged yourself. You wish to see if a heathen like you can have a true child of Yevon for yourself, and not just any child, but a Summoner. One who is not afraid of anything or anyone."
Nooj helplessly laughed, "You can say that. I've been watching you, and you've rejected every single person that's approached you, and they all deserved it."
The Summoner smiled, but it did not reach his eyes, "And you don't?"
"If you wanted to reject me, you'd have done it as soon as I sat down," Nooj said, putting his cane on the bartable without any worry whatsoever. "You were ready to do it. No one dared sit down beside you. When I did, you were ready to breath fire, but you didn't. Was it because I am the Deathseeker or was it because you knew that I refused to be intimidated by a Summoner?"
With the smile completely gone, the Summoner replied slowly, "The former."
"The former..." Nooj repeated while nodding. "Of course. Were I not the Deathseeker, what would you have done?"
This time, the Summoner smiled again. This time, it reached his eyes, "I would have charred you with an Aeon. Either that, I would have knocked you into the middle of next week." The Summoner leaned back, grabbed the shot glass and took a sip of his drink. "Nobody can 'grab me and take me'. Not even you, Nooj the Undying."
Nooj looked at the Summoner with a helpless sort of admiration in his eyes, "You're strong. That's why I approached you. I like strength."
"Ah," the Summoner chuckled. "I never thought you'd be the sort to be interested in other men."
"I don't care who it is," Nooj replied with a shrug. "You don't seem to either."
"Oh, I care alright," the red head corrected. "I have very high standards."
"I meant in terms of gender."
"In that case, you'd be right," the Summoner said, looking away from Nooj and at his drink. "My standards, however, do not change."
"Neither do mine."
The Summoner looked back at him, "I know you're intelligent. You have courage, you speak your mind without any regard for the consequences, and I know that you question everything. You have the mind of intellect, and the heart of a warrior." His blue eyes softened. Nooj detected pity, but a very small amount of it. "Yet you seem broken. No, you are broken yet you are still strong."
"I'm here, aren't I?" Nooj asked, brushing away the man's statements as thought they were meaningless. Being 'broken' was the last thing Nooj wanted to hear.
"Yet you still seek death," the Summoner quickly retorted. "Given that you will be taking part in Operation Mi'ihen, I have no doubt that you will find what you seek."
Nooj wanted to correct the Summoner. He wanted to say that he's actually a Crimson Squad candidate. Sure, it was pretty much the same as being a Crusader, but the difference was the Crimson Squad functioned as the "elite". Yevon would like to believe that the Candidates functioned as its eyes and ears, but Nooj himself would never do that in a million years and he doubted that his friends would either. Not even Paine, who recorded their missions. However, since the Crimson Squad would be around Operation Mi'ihen, Nooj decided to leave it alone. Instead, he chose to go directly after the Summoner.
"That's ironic coming from you," he said taking a certain satisfaction in watching the Summoner's eyes widen.
"I told you. My death is necessary. You Crusaders just throw your lives away, like you intend to do." The Summoner holds the glass in his gloved hands. "The only difference is that you deliberately want to die in the field of battle, while the rest do not."
"You and I have something in common," Nooj stated and when the Summoner gave him a look that challenged him, Nooj elaborated. "We both seek death. Whatever our intentions are, we both want to die in the field of battle. You may not use any weapons, except your Aeons, but our goals are the same."
The Summoner shook his head, "No, Nooj. I seek death because I know it would save Spira."
"No matter our intent, our goals remain the same," Nooj replied, watching the Summoner's hair in his topknot sway around his head. "You can't deny that."
The Summoner said nothing when he took the final gulp of his drink. He looked at Nooj, his hands folded in his robe. His expression showed no emotion, not even in his piercing blue eyes.
"Yazu, right?" Nooj asked, deciding to change the course of their conversation to something a little lighter than death. They had plenty of time and Nooj intended to use it to the fullest. It worked because the Summoner smiled.
"How is that for irony?" The Summoner answered.
"Why would that be ironic? Yevon doesn't forbid drink."
"It's ironic because no one ever expects a Summoner to drink anything. Most of them don't even go near alcohol. So, there's an assumption that all Summoners are as pure as the white hair on your friend's head." The Summoner looked over at Baralai before putting his glass back on the bar..
"He's taken," Nooj said.
The Summoner looked back at Nooj, "By the Al Bhed, right?"
Nooj smiled. He liked the Summoner and his blue eyes that showed a keen intelligence despite his supposedly devout beliefs in a religion. "Yes, by the Al Bhed."
"Ah, a young, beautiful Yevonite fighter monk with a Al Bhed. Now that is irony. Much like the Crusaders finally deciding to accept help from the Al Bhed and their Machina."
"Yet they're still not allowed to join the Crusaders," Nooj suddenly blurted out and the Summoner suddenly leaned forward with a knowing grin.
"As I thought," the Summoner whispered so only Nooj could hear what he is saying. "You're in the Crimson Squad. The Crusaders, while they admire you, are not comfortable with a warrior whose limbs are made of Machina. Don't worry, I know that the Crimson Squad is meant to be secret. I'll carry it to my grave."
Your grave. Don't you mean the Fayth? Then again, only one Summoner can make it to Zanarkand. The rest either quit or die. Nooj chose not to speak these particular thoughts. Not yet. Best to wait until he finally had the Summoner firmly in his grasp.
"I have no doubt of that," Nooj replied, trying to settle more on the stool. "Yes, I'm in the Crimson Squad. All the people who tried to grab you are in the Crimson Squad. We are the elite, but we're supposed to serve as spies for the Priests in Bevelle."
The Summoner nodded. "Yes, of course. You expected it, I know you did. How can anyone be surprised, and why should it be a secret?"
"Because the Priests of Yevon don't want the people knowing that they still frown on the Crusaders."
"Hmm.... the Crusaders were absorbed into Yevon, and yet they're still seen as opponents. So, they create a secret unit for the sake of espionage." The Summoner mused .
"Yea, you can say that," Nooj replied. "Yevon likes keeping it secrets."
"Everyone has secrets, even you," the Summoner said, running his fingertips along the now empty glass.
Nooj chose not to respond to that, deciding to ask something that he should have asked to begin with. "So, what's your name?"
The Summoner's fingertips stopped moving, "Isaaru."
Nooj chuckled. Isaaru. He knew that the name meant "Firey Light" and given the Summoner's actions in the past and his demeanor now, Nooj found it rather fitting.
"You don't intend to reject me, do you?" Nooj asked suddenly.
"There's something you want," Isaaru answered slowly, his blue eyes once again scanning Nooj. "I feel uneasy with your Machina Limbs, but I can get over it. I can't reject you with a clear conscience because you stand out."
"So, do you," Nooj interrupted, drawing a smile from Isaaru.
"Only because I'm the only Summoner in a sea of Crusaders, Crimson Squad members, and the Al Bhed. I worry more about the Al Bhed than anyone."
"Oh yea," Nooj nodded. "I heard about what the Al Bhed have been supposedly doing to Summoners."
"Indeed," Isaaru nodded. "They kidnap the Summoners. I didn't want to believe that, but since so many have vanished so quickly, I know that it could not have been fiends."
"Don't worry, Gippal won't do anything to you," Nooj said, hoping that would be enough to reassure the Summoner.
"No, not with you and your friends around. But, without you? What then?"
Nooj shrugged, "You have your Guardians."
"Yes, I do, but clearly that hasn't stopped the Al Bhed," Isaaru answered. "I suppose I shouldn't worry. They can't capture everyone."
"But, they can sure as hell try," Nooj stated. "Don't worry, I won't let anything happen to you."
Isaaru raised his eyebrows, "You really think you have me, don't you?"
"You haven't rejected me yet, and I don't think you will," Nooj could feel his left hip start to throb, so he grabbed his cane and stood up. Now closer to Isaaru, he continued. "There is something I want. I told you that I want you, and I intend to take you. I claimed the space next to you and I took it as easily as something that already is mine. I claim you. By right of confidence, I claim you, even if it is only for one night."
Isaaru also stood, his ocean colored robes almost entirely covering his body. He looked into Nooj's eyes and did not waver.
"You say you claim me, but I know you," his voice was quiet, but filled with a certainty that even Nooj couldn't challenge. "I know your sort. I could have had dozens just like you, but not one of them are you. They only hoped to get into my robes, to brag to their friends about how they managed to bed a Summoner and one who values the teachings of Yevon. I have pushed all of them aside. Yet, I cannot do that to you."
"I knew you wouldn't," Nooj answered. "My friends thought I never stood a chance, but I have one now."
"Yes," Isaaru smiled. "You do, but I know that your intent is not to bed me. It is to challenge me."
"So you finally figured it out? I thought you'd be faster on the uptake."
"I had always suspected it. Your reputation precedes you," Isaaru looked slightly upward. "When I saw who your were, I was shocked. I wondered why you would even bother, but it did not take me long to figure it out. Yes, I am indeed a devout Yevonite. Yes, I have turned away everyone here except for you. Yes, your Machina limbs make me feel disconcerted." He took one step forward. Nooj's eyes remain fixated on his. Neither of them waver as Isaaru spoke once more.
"Yes, I accept your challenge."
"Just as I thought," Nooj replied. "I knew you would never back down. You never seemed the sort."
At first, Isaaru did not answer. Instead, he looked around the bar at the patrons running their mouths. Neither men had any doubt that some of the conversations were about the two of them. When Isaaru looked at Nooj's friends, who were also talking, he looked back at him, his deep ocean colored eyes almost sparkling with anticipation.
"Deathseeker, step outside."