til the blood runs red

/ By kaitoXi [+Watch]

Replies: 163 / 4 years 91 days 5 hours 5 minutes 29 seconds

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//ooc: yay!

She was playing the part well, Lech had to admit. The red eyes, the sniffing, the tissues; the sundress dipping just low enough to give them an eyefull without being crass, the ruffles 'accidentally' revealing a little more leg than absolutely necessary. Her perfume was very nearly overwhelming; Lech's eyes started to water when he walked in the room. She jumped a little when they came in, eyes darting, shifting uncomfortably in her chair; but was it out of grief, or fear?

The kid took a seat first, rattling off the good lines like he was some hot shot. Lech sat down opposite the young lady, in the seat Aries had just vacated, and watched her, leaning back comfortably in his seat. For a while, they sat there in silence. The girl batted at her eyes, shifting slightly in her seat; Lech folded his hands in his lap and watched her, sitting absolutely still. She'd break the silence. They always did.

The girl shifted again, ruffles revealing a little more leg, though moved the chair closer so her legs were hidden behind the desk. Lech only just resisted the urge to shift himself and take a peek. This was an interrogation. He couldn't show weakness.

"Uh, um, did...Did you find him?" she asked meekly, fluttering her lashes as she glanced up at them.

"We found something, alright," Lech drawled, eyeing her reaction. She shifted in her seat, uncomfortable.

"Th--then, is...is he dead?" she asked, clutching the tissue close like it was her lifeline.

"Why don't you tell me," Lech said, settling slightly in his chair. "Since we both know there weren't any wolves in that building."

"I--what? There were, I...I saw them," she insisted.

"And then you jumped up and ran away, right? But they killed your boyfriend first?" Lech sighed, then scratched his head. "Thing is, I can't puzzle out how a pretty little thing like you managed to run away from a wolf twice your size. Maybe you could clear that up for me, huh?"

"N--no, I--they were too busy, with, with him..." she stuttered, nervous.

Lech narrowed his eyes. He had her. "So what really happened? Push him down the stairs by accident? Was he cheating on you? Figured you'd blame it on the wolves and wrap everything up neat and tidy, did you?" He shook his head. "Oldest trick in the book. I'm amazed they didn't vet you at the door."

"It really was the wolves!" she insisted, shaking her head. Her arms were shaking, now, hands clutching the tissue like it was a lifeline. Wouldn't be long before she confessed. "Maybe you found the wrong building! I don't know! But it was! It was, I swear!"

"And where's the proof of that?" Lech asked, yawning.

"The proof--" she grimaced, then stood suddenly. Lech looked up, eyebrows raised. She raised her skirt, and he blinked, surprised. It was a bit late for that. Not that he was going to stop her.

The skirt raised another few inches, and he saw it, gnarled and barely closed over, covered with several bandaids but hardly obscured: a wolf bite, high on her inner thigh. "Is that proof enough?" she demanded.

Lech's eyebrows raised, and he glanced at the kid. Things had just gotten a lot more complicated.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 4y 2d 7h 31m 20s
Kaien scrolled in reverse, taking count of every incriminating image Lech’d set his eys on, formulating an escape plan in case the topic happened to come up at any point in time. He took plenty of picture of scenery, so much so that his entire album consisted mainly of grassy fields and the occasional drink-induced -- oh [i god], an inward groan, not the bathroom selfie.
“Huh?” distracted, but the image safely [i scrapped] along with a few others, he glanced back up. He just about caught the important bits, so he nodded, turning to follow Lech back out the building and back [i out] of this part of town. “Sure, sounds like a plan,” There wasn’t much of a choice involved, anyways, seeing as [i Lech] was the one calling all the shots in their temporary alliance. Nothing’d gone wrong yet, so that was good, he supposed. Then again, they’d only been in this partnership for about two hours , which left much room for disaster. Swallowing down a rising lump, he put his phone away and caught up to Lech’s stride. “She’s being kept at the office, right?”

It turned out that, yes, she was, and the one tasked with keeping her safe for the day was none other than Aries, who they found sipping his third coffee of the day. Apparently, he was off for the day, as he was every Wednesday, but disliked dawdling around with nothing to do, so he’d offered to keep their client company until they could with certainty confirm she was safe to walk the streets alone.
Kaien kept his head ducked down, letting his senior do all the talking while he graded the sun-kissed woman seated at the table just a few feet away. She was pretty, with pretty blonde hair and pretty almond eyes, all complimented by her small, shapely face. She wore a summer dress, the frilly kind, the type his sister enjoyed sporting out, with the thin pattern reaching to just above her knees. She made a charming image, evident heartbreak and all, but bottle-blonde or no, she’d made the mistake of lying to the hunters’ association. Kaien couldn’t imagine how this could possibly end up without [i someone] getting chewed out in the process. He just hoped they’d keep it strictly metaphorical.
“You can stay seated,” he said, taking a seat across just as Aries left the room, leaning back against the body of the chair and leveling a stare that was, for all intents and purposes, strictly professional. “My partner’s going to ask you a few questions so we can get a better grasp on the entire situation. Try to be as detailed as possible, okay?”

// and it lives *it being me
  cigarette smoke / baliit / 4y 2d 8h 21m 24s
Nothing at all? Nothing? Lech listened to his report with furrowed brows. There ought to be some mark, at least a bloody spot on the concrete where the boy had been done in. Then what? Had they just happened to be passing by? Had he gotten the building wrong?

No, this was the right place. That, he was sure of. The smell of wolf, however faint, mixed with one simultaneously sweet and acrid; blood. The wolves had been here, and blood had been spilled. But some part of the girl's story was wrong. It simply didn't fit. Even wolves weren't stupid enough to just kill someone unprovoked; now, it so happened that they considered stumbling upon their den provocation, but that apparently not the case here.

He took the phone from the kid and flicked through it, looking at all the pictures in depth. But the kid was right, or at least somewhat competent; there was nothing there, nothing overt. And wolves, wolves didn't usually bother to cover their tracks. He kept flicking, thoughtful, and flicked past the last scene of the building into personal pictures. Holding the same expression as though his face had been frozen, he kept flicking on through. What a wonderful opportunity to find out more about his partner.

"No, I don't see anything either," Lech admitted at last, pausing thoughtfully on a selfie. In the bathroom, no less. How classy. "There's got to be something else going on here." He passed the phone back, not bothering to close the app to hide that he'd been invading his junior's privacy.

He stood, sucked down the very last of the awful coffee, and nodded for the boy to follow. "I'll go take a look, as long as our friends are out," he said. Across the street and into the building. The smell of wolf got more intense, but only slightly. The same for the smell of blood. He followed it through the building, hoping to find the place the smell had come from, but oddly, it never got any more intense. It was as if the whole building had been infused with the smell, like someone had taken a very gentle wolf-and-blood scented air freshener and sprayed it throughout the whole building. He made a face. He couldn't imagine that kind of scent would smell good.

"Something's off," Lech muttered, looking around. "I think it's time we paid our client a little visit, what do you think?" He glanced over at the kid, as though the kid could do anything but agree.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 4y 46d 1h 29m 26s
Steps light, breathing hollow, Kaien maneuvered his way around the building halls, taking necessary precaution before each corner. Stop, level your heartbeat, listen for the distinct sound of clacking bone. Standing there, alone with his thoughts with nothing to do but dial back to their previous conversation, he realized he might’ve gone a little too overboard too soon and given Lech the wrong idea. Somewhere between the [i friendly] lines of mutual harassment, clearly he’d taken [i his] a step too far , and there was a very big chance his partner now thought he was in it just to dick around.
Fuck, okay, so what was done was done, backpedalling was only going to slug him deeper into the mud. The question now was; how to stop his mishap from turning into a running gag?
Ignore it? He’d ignore it. That was the best course of action.
“They’re not there,” he announced, strolling in through the door and to his previous seating arrangement after a good forty five minutes of self-reflection in a decrepit makeshift wolf’s den. It was decided that he’d be a professional from there on out, so he’d persevere. “There’s nothing there, actually. I couldn’t find a single sign of activity, or anything to clue me in that there’d [i been] any at a certain point. The building’s filled with various furniture scattered around every two to three rooms, but mostly intact. No tears, no marks, nothing on the walls or the floors either,” he listed off, settling back into the cushions once again. “It’s possible that they’re situated underground, but I highly doubt it – unless the entrance’s outside the actual building. If you wait long enough, they’ll probably appear, but for now, uh, the structural design, right?” He turned in his seat, propping his chin ‘pon palm. For such a spacious place, it didn’t really offer much in terms of actual construction. “There are a lot of twists and turns, but not many rooms. Mostly, it all connects to a central space; wide, plenty of windows. It’s all rough cement and bricked walls, no decoration whatsoever. As for the rooms themselves, they’re more or less empty, save for a couple, but even those are scanty. It’s your regular movie cliché; a chair, a table, sometimes a two-seat couch. There’s fifteen rooms in total, none were locked, nothing suspicious. Uhh, mold prominent, but no wet dog smell … anything else? -- oh! ” Suddenly reminded, he pulled out a phone from his jacket pocket, thumbing out a quick succession of numbers to unlock the screen. “I took a few pictures, to give you a better idea.” Just don’t start pointing out ‘telltale signs’, he thought, handing the gadget off for inspection. He was [i marginally] sure he’d covered next to everything.
  cigarette smoke / baliit / 4y 46d 2h 10m 36s
It seemed they'd gotten off on the wrong foot. Somehow, the kid had gotten the impression that Lech was easy or something, and now was backpedaling. Or something. Quite honestly, he had no idea what was going on. The kid was easy, and his warning had insulted him...? Give and not receive? Eh? Rather than express his confusion, Lech just sat there with a blank look on his face. Whatever the kid was trying to say, there was a very good reason he separated business and pleasure, and he felt no need to explain it to a spring chicken like him.

"Then it should be easy to keep separate," Lech replied. The kid wasn't his type, either. He'd slept with men before, every once and again, but his preference was still women, and this kid was...well. Far from the ideal, to put it gently. Young, in a word.

Still. Trailing Aries since he was young? No wonder Aries had been so unusually adamant about not letting the kid die. A part of him was surprised he'd never seen the kid before, but then again, as much as he actively avoided Aries, was it really surprising? How old was he, seventeen? Eighteen? Six years...It wasn't so long a time to have missed the kid, when his interactions with Aries were so limited. Or maybe he'd seen the kid before, but just not taken notice. Anything was possible.

The kid's miffed reply almost made him laugh, and he couldn't help a smirk. Oh, it'd really bothered him so much to ask him to keep business separate? Maybe the kid didn't know his own tastes, and Lech was much more his type than he'd claimed. He knew it wouldn't have bothered him so much to be told there'd be no fucking with someone unattractive. Or maybe the kid was just a loose little hornball, and the idea of spending an hour with Lech with his legs closed was too much for him. Still, was he really so easy to tease? Maybe Aries had really given him a treat this time!

"In and out," Lech agreed. "And I do mean the building, not..." He held up his forefinger and thumb, looped, and inserted his forefinger in a ride gesture.

"Hey, you see anyone, run," Lech advised him, ignoring the comment about backup. Like he'd need any help to deal with some lousy wolves. "Don't stop and flirt." He picked up the coffee and took another sip, nodding as the kid walked away. He really had to figure out the kid's name...
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 4y 46d 8h 40m 1s
If Kaien had gotten any grips on his outer shell in the past fifteen minutes, it was soon replaced by a vivid sneer. Aries said they didn’t suit his baby face and prominent dimples, but the man said a lot of things Kaien didn’t particularly toe the line to. Nasty habits were hard to trash. “You don’t think Aries knows what I’m like? I’ve been trailing after him since I was twelve, he’s got a pretty good idea,” he choked out with an unconstrained laugh, coming to a stand, cup in hand. There went any hopes of this being a halfway interesting job. The money, though. Oh [i yes], he was still very much looking forward to [i that], and the idea of a new heater in the bathroom. “And ‘fuck around’? I’m pulling your leg; your type doesn’t really do it for me anyways -- but I mean, if you’re more of a ‘give but not receive’ guy, you should’ve given [i me] a heads up.”
So there [i was] a reason after all – why he had to stomach his anxiety [i and] these shitty beans in one sitting when they could've easily gone somewhere he'd at least enjoy the shop service. Minute disagreement aside, Kaien nodded, following Lech’s line of sight to the building just a little ways off from the café. A sizable structure, bigger than it’d looked in the pictures, but going by the design, still a single story build. Tall ceilings, most likely. Easy to scope out, but difficult to hide in. “Just in and out, right? I’m not sticking around, and I won’t have your back if anything goes haywire.”
He tipped the cup back, downing the nasty mixture of whatever that was in five solid gulps. Nose scrunching up in distaste, he caught the owner’s eyes just long enough to relay his displeasure before setting the cup back down next to Lech's own. “Thanks for the coffee,” he said, patting down the wrinkled material of his button up. To think he'd almost spent actual money on that, oh boy. “Try not to have too much fun while I’m gone.” Okay, so maybe he was a little miffed, but nothing he couldn’t mask with a deep breath and a long stroll towards the exit. Lech wanted a segregation between ‘business and pleasure’? Then he’d give it to him, the good natured pup he was.
  baliit / 4y 46d 11h 27m 39s
Lech didn't often feel that he had attained too much information, but the kid's full confession on his preferences definitely applied. Lech just shook his head. Kids these days, honestly. That he seemed to find Lech's suggestion of coffee amusing only bemused the man. Was it really so odd to want coffee?

He smirked a bit when the kid mentioned his tab at the office. The day he paid his tab would be the day the whole world came crashing down. Anyone in the know knew better than to bother.

A bit unimpressed, he gestured across the street. "For the view," he deadpanned. No one here drank virgin blood...that he knew of, anyways. But the coffee did suck. Apparently the kid could give as good as he got when it came to sexual harassment. His plans to remake himself went right out the window, easily forgotten. He settled back, giving the kid a long look. "Did you expect to be wooed?" he asked, in a low, borderline dangerous voice. He didn't mix business and pleasure. If the kid did, his estimation of the kid's worth was about to plummet. "I don't fuck around on the job, and if you do, you can march right back to Aries right now and explain to him why this didn't work out."

He gestured the kid in closer. "The building opposite is where they've holed up," he said quietly, sipping the awful coffee. He swallowed, then nodded at the building. "I'll watch it from outside. The smell of coffee should be enough to mask my scent. You go inside. Tell me what the setup's like. You survive that, come back and report to me. You don't, and I'll come in after you just as soon as I've finished my coffee." He took a long, slow sip. It was good to let newbies know where they stood.

"As soon as you finish your coffee, skedadle," Lech said, waving his hand. He wasn't cruel. The kid could drink. He just had to get going as soon as he was done. Hopefully he was a competent enough scout to get in and out without alerting the lyncanthropes, but Lech wasn't hopeful. Oh well, if the kid died, so much less for him to worry about. Then he could go back to operating the way he was used to: alone.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 4y 46d 22h 52m 7s
Well, color him surprised. “Actually, I’m more of a switch – I’ve played both fields, so it really depends on how they like it. I’m not into ball gags, though, sorry to disappoint.” If Lech was planning on being this charming for the remainder of their partnership, then maybe it wouldn’t wind up being as bad as Kaien initially imagined. The whole ‘tall, dark and handsome lone wolf’ really only functioned successfully in grandiose fantasies. Or lower shelf erotica books. It was fun to imagine yourself participating, but if Kaien had to clench his abdominals whenever he wanted to get a word across, it didn’t do it for him, handsome or no. It wasn’t a case of pros outweighing the cons.
“Really? I think it’s pretty airy – they got a new AC system just six months ago.” He was talking too much. Usually a bad sign. He needed to recollect, calm his nerves, and unclench.
Shutting his mouth, lips drawing into a thin, controlled line, he focused in on Lech’s instructions. Follow close, okay, pretty straightforward. He could do that.
“Coffee?” he repeated once they were outside, brows rising to meet just above the tips of his ears. Pretty mundane, but then again, it rose to meet one of the numerous rumors – the one about him living off of solely black coffee and the scent of money. He suppressed a scoffing laugh, nodding instead. “Coffee’s good.” Great, in fact. It’d keep both his thoughts and his lips occupied just long enough for him to regather his bearings and get used to the idea of working with someone sentient. “There’s an affordable place down near -- ” Okay, no, apparently their destination was already decided, they only needed to reach it. He could deal with that. It just meant more following, and he’d just about gotten comfortable with that idea.
Until his brain caught up with what his eyes were picking up, that is.
“Hey, you sure this is where we’re, uh, going?” Suddenly, [i dealing with it] sounded like one of his father’s funny hypothesis, ridiculous overestimation and all. [i Suddenly], his mood went from a solid ‘eh’ to an eh with many many h’s stacked behind. There went the hairs, standing back up again, and there went his jaw, locking in place. First, what if someone recognized him. That was a disaster all by itself, even without all the follow ups. Second, what if someone recognized him with [i Lech] and went off and told his family? According to the story he’d told his mother, he was supposed to be working at a low-budget library, just barely scraping by. Definitely [i not] being out … bounty hunting, doing ‘this dumb, reckless shit’ as his mother had put it. He’d assured them he was done with this part of his life, regardless of how well it paid the bills.
This was bad, and he wasn’t dealing.
He clued back in right in time to cover both of their espressos, watching the woman accept his money as if it was the dirtiest fifteen bucks she’d ever received. Was that her customer friendly face, or … ?
“I’ll put it on your tab back at the office,” he informed as he sat, reclining against the surprisingly comfortable arm chair. Then again, with seven fifty dollar espressos, he was kind of expecting a back massage too.
“It’s not a phobia,” he defended a little [i too] vehemently, doing a nice job of avoiding eye contact. “Aries likes to call it that because it bothers me, and he thinks it’s funny. But, uh, it’s nothing you should be concerned with. It won’t get in the way of the mission.” Considering Lech’d be the one doing all the heavy lifting. “That aside,” Yes, preferably very, very aside. “Is there a reason you chose this place? It’s full of people who look like they drink virgin blood ‘because it’s fun!’, and the coffee sucks.” Not to mention, aside from the young woman washing cups behind the bar, he couldn’t count a single human being. “If you’re trying to woo me, I’m not wooed.”

// uhhhhhhh uyup thats definitely my typo BUT i mean - the only education kaien has is what he picked up from reading his dad's old ass books so youre not far off aha
  baliit / 4y 47d 1h 9s
OOC: lol I almost deleted this thread in the annual spring cleanup, you got lucky... Also just a tiny note and more a question than anything, but was "finger two" instead of "thing or two" intentional? To give me a grip on his personality/education/speech patterns :)

The kid immediately started babbling, and Lech could only sit back and roll his eyes. Oh goodness, one of these. "Hey Aries, got a ball gag I can borrow?" he asked, half-jokingly. The sadist probably did. Not that he actually knew anything about Aries' sex life, but it'd never stopped him before.

At least the kid seemed self aware about it. "We gathered," he commented dryly. Too bad pepto-bismol didn't solve diarrhea of the mouth, or he'd go right to the supermarket after this and hook the kid up.

Aries ignored Lech completely, which was probably for the best, and sent them off. "Wait wait, phobia?" Lech demanded, as the door shut behind him. He tried to open it, but it was locked. Fuck, shit, he was playing babysitter after all! He'd thought, maybe, with Aries assuring him the kid was worth something, that maybe, just maybe, he was, but no. Babysitter it was. Psychotherapist too, in the package. No one in their right mind wanted Lech to be anyone's psychotherapist, but he'd never accuse Aries of being in his right mind. "Shit," he said to the closed door.

He sighed. Okay, he was being awful. And not particularly professional. Professional, that was his byword. He was reforming. Yes. Okay. "You're the submissive type, huh? No wonder Aries likes you," he snarked. Wait, no, that wasn't professional at all! That was outright sexual harassment! He pushed his hair back and gave himself a moment to compose himself. Give it another try.

"Right, follow close," he ordered, marching towards the stairs. He always took the stairs. Elevators were too crowded. Didn't trust them. "First, let's get the fuck out of this stuffy building, I can't stand it." Everyone always looked at him funny. Probably because he kept to himself and kept his life private. Mostly, he did it because he didn't like any of them. Or his job. But he and Aries had an understanding, and as long as it stood, he stood with them. And, well. Had to pay the bills somehow.

At the bottom, he stormed out of the building and down the sidewalk, displeased but slowly warming to the idea. Aside from the diarrhea of the mouth thing, who knew? Maybe the kid was competent. Aries favored him, anyways, that had to mean something. Maybe he was like Indiana Jones, afraid of snakes or something stupid. Who knew? He glanced back and nodded at the kid. Name...uh. He was drawing a blank. "Alright, kid, how about we get some coffee, too?" he suggested. It'd do him some good, wake him up. He led the way down the road, around the block, and past several perfectly good coffee shops, sticking to the shade wherever possible. The summer sun was killer; he could feel his skin crisping every time he left the shade. He'd be a few shades redder by the time they got where they were going. He wasn't used to sun this strong, and he hated it. Shade was better, clouds better yet. He missed living somewhere where it was dark all day for a whole month. Nothing better than that.

They left the marginally-okay part of town and entered the bad part, complete with abandoned cars stripped completely of anything valuable and burned-out buildings, dark windows staring down at the hunters like sentinel eyes. A tiny coffee shop was tucked on the corner, barely holding on, and he led the way inside.

The patrons looked up as they entered, took note, then summarily dismissed them. The interior was dark, and looked like it hadn't been updated since it had been built in the sixties--or washed, for that matter. Lech strolled up to the counter and gave the barista a nod; stocky and rough, buzzed hair, and a pair of huge hoop earrings, she regarded the both of them with unveiled hostility. He gave her a thin smile and a short nod. "The biggest cup you have," he said, "filled to the brim with the strongest stuff you have. You got espresso, I want espresso. If not, next best thing."

"Gonna be expensive," she warned him.

"That's fine," he said.

With a your-problem kind of shrug, she turned to fill his order. Lech nudged the kid. "Want anything?" he asked.

His drink was delivered, and he patted the kid on the back. "Thanks for covering my drink," he said with a slim grin, and wandered off to take a seat in the cafe while the kid paid for the both of them. Maybe having a partner wasn't so bad after all.

Once the kid had rejoined him at the table, Lech sat back. He sipped the brew, then made a face. "Tastes like shit," he announced, setting it down for the moment. "So, kiddo, partner, what's up with that phobia thing? Since we're partners, I oughta know, right?"

He was being obnoxious, but he did need to know. If the kid had something that freaked him out, it could compromise the mission. He wasn't exactly the type to make concessions, but it was better he knew than didn't.

It wasn't as though he'd chosen this coffee shop without reason, either. Across the road was the back of the abandoned building the girl had broken into; there was every chance the lycanthropes would come by. Had the kid noticed? This angle of the building hadn't been in the report. He'd give the kid points if he had.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 4y 47d 7h 20m 10s
Kaien, known for skulking about the office twenty four seven, learned of Lech the very same instant his name started getting around. Simultaneously, he was well introduced to the numerous rumors surrounding the hunter. ‘I hear he comes from the underground.’ ‘Really? I hear he’s from the high above, bodyguard to the big guy’s daughter. ‘pparently he got fired for goin’ for the little lady herself. Couldn’t land a legal job, so now he’s stuck as a freelancer.’ ‘I think he’s from the government – you know how the higher ups feel about us bounty hunters. He’s acting undercover, then when we least expect it, bam! He’ll have this entire place crawling with officials. Scary, if you think about it.’ – just to name a few. Kaien himself, he liked seeing things first hand, but maybe this was a little [i too] first hand for his tastes.
“Sounds like a suicide mission,” a finger to his lip, he inclined his head to the side, eyes shut in momentary pondering. “I get it, yeah. You probably want the entire one hundred, huh? You’re probably hoping I’ll get myself killed mid-mission … or maybe that I’ll back out when I see the entire situation, when I see I’m in way over my -- ”
“Kaien,” Aries, mr. point a finger call a threat, butting in the middle of his inner-outer monologue, as per usual. “Can you keep your comments to yourself? Just until you’re out of my office, at least? I haven’t even had my coffee yet.”
“I didn’t say I wouldn’t do it, jeez, boss,” he grumbled, hands splayed at his chest. “Forty percent of this bounty’s still a hefty wage better than what I get for the usual stealth jobs. Don’t write me off yet. He’s not the first partner to want me off the list, anyways. I just like to hear myself talk.” Contrary to appearances, , Kaien wasn’t the most popular pick for two-man teams – at least for office veterans who knew a thing or two about how he did his job. It didn’t come as a surprise to him, nor did he blame anyone – least of all his coworkers – for it.
Ultimately, he pointed a tight-lipped smile at the younger or the two seniors. If they were going to be stuck with each other for the unforeseeable future, he’d venture into making the most of it.
“Happy to be your seeing eye dog, sir.”
“Thank you,” Aries said, exhaling with a deep sigh. It was a surprise he didn’t look a day over forty counting all the gray hairs working in this shack gave him. “Now get out. I’ve got a date with a double shot espresso, and you’re third-wheeling. Lech, endeavor to not get him killed. He might not look like much, but he’s been here for a long time. He’s worth a buck or two.”
“A buck or two, boss? I didn’t know you cared. ”
“Out, smartass. Don’t let me catch you prowling around the office before the day’s done. Here’s hoping you finally rid yourself of that little code of honor slash phobia of yours.”
Aries ushered the two of them out, promptly shutting the door in their faces with as little as a half-hearted wave.
Instantly, Kaien felt the hairs on the back of his neck come to a heated stand. Excitement, paired with just a little bit of nausea. The nausea was a regular thing, but the giddiness … he hadn’t felt that in years. Hands stuffed back in his pockets, he turned a side-eye towards his partner, shoulders reclining in a brief shrug. “You’re taking charge, right? Give me orders and I’ll follow them, I guess.”

// IM SUCH A SHIT LMAO im sorry this last month n a half's been hell hound on my ass
  cigarette smoke / baliit / 2y 332d 5h 13m 44s
He leaned back in his chair, fully relaxed, and gave the boss a long, barely-veiled look of disgust. What was he, the nursemaid? Trotting out the new kids and holding their hands while they cried and puked and did whatever else it was they did when they finally saw blood? Never. Not on his life. But here he was. He fully felt the groan that escaped the kid's throat, though was professional enough to hold it back from his own.

Aries was yanking his chain, and he knew it. They both knew it. Calling him to heel like the good boy he was. And fuck that. He didn't play those games. He wasn't here to beg and bow and whimper for the damn sadist, he was here to do a job. But money was money, and freelancing got you pennies on the dollar and a bullet up your ass for your trouble.

The kid was such a newbie, too. Barely looked old enough to be out of college. If he'd gone to college. For the life of him, Lech didn't understand why hunters went to college in the first place; nothing the War of Roses could do to help you stake a vampire or gut a troll. But some things in life would be perpetual mystery, it seemed.

Kid had some bloodlust in him, though. Lech cocked an eyebrow at that. Maybe he'd just let nature run its course, let the kid go off at the first monster he found and get summarily disemboweled, then come crying back to Aries about how sad it was. His eyes flicked to Aries', and the man's frown deepened a milimeter as though he could read Lech's mind. That wouldn't fly, huh? Pity.

"And lick the shaft while I'm at it?" Lech returned, making a rude gesture. Aries stared at him, unimpressed, and Lech sighed out, long and slow. "Some idiot stirred up a camp of lycanthropes--that's the nasty version of a werewolf, the kind where they turn whenever they like. She's a pretty little thing--" he reached in his pocket and pulled out a slightly wrinkled photograph; a busty woman smiled at the camera on a sunny dock and gave the photographer a wink, bottle-blond hair swirling in the wind "--but stupid, as we can tell from the hair." His finger moved to indicate.

"The job, please," Aries reprimanded him.

"If you insist," Lech agreed easily. "Anyways, she and her belated boyfriend were getting it on in an abandoned building--"

Aries cleared his throat, hand inching towards his gun.

"Ah, she and her boyfriend were 'exploring' the 'building' ifyouknowwhatImean, when suddenly a pack of lycanthropes comes back. Boy sacrifices himself, girl gets away by the skin of her teeth, and we've got a job. We'll start with the building and go from there, but lycanthropes are scent hunters. They know we've taken her into custody, and they know what I smell like. Which is why Aries has insisted that you come along, to act as my eyes and ears and scope out wherever they've shacked up so I can come along and do the [i real] work, understand, kid?" Lech gave the kid a narrow smile, not enough to show teeth. And if he was lucky, the idiot wolves would clue in to the kid being more than just a kid and kill him for Lech, and everything would end all happy-cozy and he could take one hundred percent of the bounty instead of this shitty sixty percent shit Aries was forcing onto him.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 4y 91d 49m 31s
Kaien stood, fidgeting in place, taking deep breaths, and being an all around general mess of nerves. This was it, he assured himself. He’d submitted a plea, made several requests, and now finally, [i finally], he was being called to the boss’s office for a briefing on the topic of his newest mission; the same one he’d worked so hard to land. He felt the familiar smoke gathering at the corners of his eyes, a sign of the adrenaline he wasn’t supposed to be feeling till his feet touched the field. He needed to make this work, to not mess it up like he had his last three missions—all because of his own personal restrictions. This was it, he reiterated. This was the job where he’d burn all his bridges, and with them, his cloudy reputation, too.
The doors opened after what seemed too long of a time to wait for the stocky blond in front of him to get out of his chair and walk three feet from his desk to the knob, and Kaien’s mouth stretched into a polite, but nonetheless fond smile.
Aries was a tall, wide-shouldered man, roughly in his late thirties, and in addition to being the highest rated hunter in their organization, he doubled as the boss they all knew they needed. Chaos had broken out on more than enough occasions, and having Aries’s name dotted below the pretty cursive spelling ‘office’ carried just the right amount of weight to keep everyone on their toes—and out of trouble. It helped that he never left his house without a pair of pistols and a three-day scruff.
“Kaien, your partner—you’ll have plenty of time to bond over your shared bounty.” He gestured to the only other person in the room, pulling a distraught groan from Kaien’s throat. Oh, he knew the guy. Not personally, [i he wouldn’t dare pick at those strings], but by name? [i Definitely]. It was a little hard to forget the name of the man whose hit count surpassed the number those boots must’ve cost. What was that? It couldn't be leather... could it?
“So, okay, one question.” His fingers bickering inside his pockets, he leveled a steady assessment of Aries’s features. “About the bounty… when you say ‘shared’…”
“I mean split. A sixty-forty ratio, based on your role in the mission itself,” Aries explained with no small amount of humor, thoroughly enjoying the sour look creasing Kaien’s forehead. “You know, [i since you won’t be killing anyone].”
“Uh-uh,” he mustered, trying and failing to keep the disdain under wraps.
“[i Attitude], Kaien,” Aries warned, circling the desk to come at a standstill in front of the two employees. “He’s still your senior, and he’ll be doing the heavy lifting on this little joint escapade of yours.”
“I understand, boss,” he amended with a curt nod, intertwining his fingers at the small of his back. If he were any more of a lap dog, he would’ve knelt down and waited for the scratch. Instead, he maintained an impervious expression, lips pulled into a straight line, just distracted enough by the off-white stain on the wall to keep his comments to himself.
“Shut your mouth, follow his head, and you’ll be alright. Now,” he began after a momentary pause, tapping an index against the curve of his jaw, eyes pointed at Kaien’s partner-to-be. “Save me the trouble and recap the situation for all of us—who’s being chased, and who’s the target this time around?”


// i kept it pretty vague, since it's just an intro? we'll build on it, ahah.
  cigarette smoke / baliit / 4y 91d 24m 11s
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