til the blood runs red

/ By kaitoXi [+Watch]

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That changed things, somewhat. Complicated them.

For one, there was no longer a point to deceiving him. Not now, about this, at least.

Kaien unpocketed his other hand and rested it atop Silas’, skin on skin, his touch delicate.

[i Kill him.] The impulse came as it always did- unbidden, spontaneously, and at the perfect moment, when Kaien felt he wanted a quick solution to a possible problem. He could do it. It’d make everything a lot easier, for a time. Just a thought, and Silas’ body would crumple to the ground, his insides turned out. It wouldn’t even have to be messy. Not really. He could wait until Silas went to sleep. Do it then, with a touch. Brains were one of the most sensitive organs, he’d learned. Rupture a brain in the right place, and a person would never wake up again.

But that was the issue with quick solutions, too. They were only temporary remedies, and proved annoying down the line. Kaien didn’t [i want] that. He wanted it easy, simple, straightforward, and wanted it in such a way that it left no room for contingencies.

No. No, no. Silas was off limits. [i Anyone] from the hunters’ guild was. He had to keep reminding himself of that.

He blinked up at Silas’ question, gaze trailing languidly from his hands, across his torso, landing on his expression. Why was he covering for Lech? “I’m not,” he said. Pointless to lie now. Silas seemed sure. “I’m covering for myself. I was covering for myself then, too. Whatever you think you [i saw,]” because he hadn’t answered Kaien’s question- hadn’t told him [i what], exactly, he’d seen, “was for my sake, too.” He took a step into Silas’ space, removed the other’s hand from his, but held on. “It was a one-time thing,” he assured him. Silas could keep a secret. He didn’t have to hurt him. He didn’t even have to think about [i trying] to hurt him. “Don’t tell Aries. Don’t tell anyone. Forget it. Whatever you saw, forget it.”

His grip on Silas’ hand fell away and he established a distance again, inclining his head towards the door, urging Silas to leave first. He followed him through the door.

“So,” he began, falling into step at his side as they walked towards the nap rooms. “You said ‘after that moment’- what’s that mean? How’s it work? Are all my secrets up for grabs now, forever?” He didn’t much like the sound of that. “Did you see anything else?”
  cigarette smoke / disir / 1y 120d 2h 40m 51s
He shook his head. He'd run off. Like a coward. Hadn't wanted to be near Lech, near anything. Couldn't take it anymore, so he'd run. Left Kaien, even though he'd known he shouldn't. Known what would happen if he did. And it had. It had happened. He knew it. It had almost happened right before his eyes, and later, later...

Unconsciously, he let go with one hand and cupped it over his eye, the one right below the silver streak. It continued, that streak. Into his eyebrow, and if anyone looked close enough, into his eye, a streak of silver shot all the way through to his pupil. He'd been cursed. A long time ago, but curses didn't fade with time, no matter what he hoped. "I see things," he confessed. "Hidden things. Secret things. If I meet someone, touch them... then, sometimes, I'll see their secrets. Anything secret they do after that moment... I'll see it." His hand clenched tighter on Kaien's. "Not every time. But... sometimes."

It only worked on the last person he touched. Only worked on things they did after he touched them. He tried to avoid it by swapping it out as often as he could, with the hope whoever it was he'd touched last wouldn't do anything secret before he touched someone else. And then he went home and he touched his cat. Her secrets were all things like pooping in the potted plant, so that was fine. But he hadn't made it in time this time, so he'd seen their secret. Not all of it. Just snatches. Pain on his neck. Icy skin against his. A vision of Lech, seconds after it happened, blood on his lips. And he'd only touched Kaien, which meant Kaien had been bit.

All because he was a coward who was weak enough, stupid enough, to leave Kaien alone when he knew the man was vulnerable and had a vampire on his heels.

Kaien... didn't want him to tell? He frowned, confused.But... but Lech was a vampire. "You're covering for Lech?" he asked. "Why?"

He sighed. What was he doing here this late? "Working," he mumbled. If he couldn't sleep, he might as well work. There was always backlog, always paperwork. And he was shit in the field anyways, apparently, so he should just get used to that. He breathed in and let go, stroked his hair back nervously. "I was going to go to the nap rooms in a bit."
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 120d 4h 34m 26s
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Huh. So [i that’s] what it was. Kaien [i did] frown this time, staring down at their joint hands, then back up at Silas. That was it?

“Silas. Silas,” he interrupted, pulling his hand back and letting it drop by his side. “Shut up. You’re jumping to conclusions.” Now that they were this close, Kaien could see the anxiety, slipping off of Silas’ skin in waves. He looked guilty- just like that time in the apartment, that single moment- as if any of it had anything to do with him just because he’d happened to see something. That’s what Kaien had been curious about- whether Silas would decide to keep quiet about what he’d seen- but to claim he’d gotten [i bit…]

He [i had,] of course, but nothing Silas had seen would’ve pointed to that.

“When did you run off?” he asked, leaning further back against the table. He didn’t know whose cubicle it was, but surely they wouldn’t mind. “I remember you carrying me off, and I remember telling you to leave- that’s it.” Threatening him wouldn’t work. He didn’t [i want] to threaten Silas, in truth. Good, honest Silas who clearly hadn’t been sleeping all that well because of this.

“Nothing happened after you left,” he lied easily. He was a good liar, when he wanted to be. When it suited him. “I’m still human,” or as close to one as he’d ever be in this life. But now that he’d mentioned it, Kaien wanted to know. He had to know, so he could decide what approach to take. “What do you think happened, Silas? What do you think you saw?” As far as Kaien remembered, Silas had made his entrance before either Lech or him had made any moves against each other. Lech had leaned in, Kaien had tugged him back, and then Silas had kicked Lech in the head and hightailed it out there with Kaien in tow.

That was the last he’d seen of Silas.

… [i had] Lech told him something? Or had Silas just made his own assumptions?

Kaien considered him, the fine tremor in his hands, the tension lining his shoulders, and decided that, no, he didn’t want to threaten Silas after all. His meddling would have to go, though. He straightened, tucking his hands into his pockets once again. He hadn’t cleaned the blood off, yet, from when he’d wiped his face.

One thing at a time. This, first.

“I’m not telling Aries anything,” he began after a pause, “because there’s nothing to tell. And you’re not telling him either, because it’s not your story to tell.” Besides, Aries knew. He had to. It hadn’t occurred to him before, when he’d almost exposed Lech on the rooftop, but Aries wouldn’t have hired anyone he didn’t have a handle on. It came with being the boss. “You should worry about yourself instead. You look like shit. What're you doing here this late, anyway?”
  disir / 1y 120d 5h 11m 22s
What the hell. What the hell. What the ever-loving [i hell]. How long was Kaien going to stand there? Was this a blood-slave thing? Was he a vampire too? Was the virus spreading? Silas tried to ignore him, but his eyes kept snapping back to the man anyways, nervously. He fiddled with the spreadsheet, but he had nothing to do with it anyways, and now he felt like it was awkwardly obvious that he'd just been pretending to work.

No. This was ridiculous. People didn't just walk in on his cube and stare at him. Kaien wasn't his supervisor. Silas cleared his throat. "Uh, can I help--?"

Shareena? Who? Silas stared at Kaien, uncomprehending. It sunk in slowly. That girl. The dead girl. Right. "Um, no, I mean--"

Kaien didn't look great. He looked like shit. Silas couldn't take it any more. He stood from his seat and grabbed Kaien's hand, trying to feel if it was still warm. It felt cool, but he didn't know if that was the cool of the night or the cool of undeath. "Kaien, you got bit, didn't you?" he whispered urgently. His eyes scanned the side of Kaien's neck; no bite marks. But that didn't mean anything. Only one lineage had the never-healing bite marks, and it'd been long enough anything else would've healed.

He couldn't take it anymore. He couldn't say nothing. This was his job, and he'd failed it. He'd seen Lech go for the bite and done nothing. Run off. He was pathetic. A failure of a hunter.

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I shouldn't have run off," he babbled. His hands were shaking. He could feel a panic welling up, tried to push it down. "I shouldn't have, I just didn't, are you okay?" His eyes searched Kaien's face. Hands tightened their grip on the other man's. "I've been trying to talk to Aries but he won't--I don't have enough clout, he won't see me. You, though, you can talk to him--you should, Kaien. He's a menace. If he did it to you, who knows who else he's going to--"

He took a deep breath and shook his head. Ran back his hair. He hadn't slept well since that night. Couldn't think of anything else but his failure. "We have to report this. Even if he turned you, I'm sure Aries will understand--please, Kaien. Help me with this."

He looked crazy. Felt crazy. But what was he supposed to do, turn a blind eye and pretend like he hadn't seen a thing? Let a vampire continue to turn the hunters? Who knew how many hunters had fallen victim to him in the decades he'd worked here? He'd looked it up, and was amazed no one else had noticed yet. Lech had worked here for far too long to look as ambiguously young as he did. Someone had to have noticed. But no one had. Were they all under his thrall?
  Silas / kaitoXi / 1y 120d 6h 41m 28s
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“So, she uses theeesee- what’re they called, thheee… ” she trailed off, torso spread out across the desk, fingers gripping the edge. Her eyes followed the man shuffling around in the back room. She’d claimed this was her job, but all she’d really done was walk Kaien over and gesture to the man currently searching for his jacket.

Not that he minded. Listening to her talk about this girlfriend of hers, and those [i cats,]… there were worse ways to spend interludes like these.

His jacket was presented to him, and his gaze slid from the receptionist’s face to the man. He was red in the face, his breathing hurried. Kaien reached for the jacket without comment.

“That’s it?” the receptionist asked, leaning into his side to take it in. “Does it have your stuff?” Good question. He patted down the pockets, then, satisfied with their contents, nodded. Everything was there. Not that he was surprised. Hunters weren’t in the habit of pick-pocketing.

She shot him a grin, showing off a perfect set of teeth, and stepped back to let him slip it on. “My job’s done, then.” She dug through the pockets of the oversized denim jacket she wore and pulled out her phone. Handed it to him. “Put your number in!” No explanation, no nothing. He blinked at her, once, twice, then proceeded to punch the digits in, and gave the phone back.

“Cool, thanks! I’ll text you!” A twirl on her heel, a confident pivot in the opposite direction, and she was off, presumably back to her workplace. Kaien turned back to the man at the counter, let his stare linger for not even half a second in silent goodbye, and then he was off, too, in search of the [i second] reason he’d come here.

He found Silas in one of the offices, hunched over a computer. He didn’t announce his arrival but Silas spun around regardless, and the surprise that etched itself into his expression when their eyes met was… something. For several moments, Kaien couldn’t figure out why Silas would be surprised to see him, and after those several moments, the curiosity dissipated like a snuffed match.

Kaien let himself into the room and strolled over until he was stood just several feet away, where he leaned up against the wall, crossed his arms, and stared.

And stared.

And stared some more.

Finally, after a good several minutes of that- after he was satisfied- he responded, disregarding Silas’ question in favor of his own. “What’re you thinking about?” he asked, inclining his head to accompany the harmless inquiry. “Still upset about what happened to Shareena?”

He pushed off the wall and stepped forward, approaching the desk adjacent to Silas’. He sat at the edge. Tiny movements. “Me? I’m great.” He [i was,] but coupled with the blank countenance- his lips pulled down into the beginnings of a frown- he didn’t look all that convincing. “It’s been great- how about you? How’s work been?”
  cigarette smoke / disir / 1y 120d 18h 25m 14s
He didn't look back as the kid called his name. He'd find out if he was kidding or not tomorrow, when Lech dragged him out of his cushy office and out under the streets. Nothing like a little slogging through the mud to build character and forget a little bite or two. Out into the night. He turned his feet toward the city's bars and nightclubs.

The night slid past, slick as oil. His skin felt electric, his body warm. The hunt was on. Neon signs beckoned. Lights called to him. It wasn't his preference, this nonsense. Obeying someone else's rules. Even now, it made him sick. How could he? Bow his head to them like some kind of dog. It was pathetic. Moreso because the orders came from humans at the top. Even if it was his whore of a sister, at least it wouldn't be--

He bit his cheek. That line of thinking got him nowhere. Onward. He had to move on. He stepped into the bar and was instantly enveloped in shitty music and noise.

A hand on his shoulder. He turned. The first thing he saw was a shock of green hair standing on end. A mowawk. He stared. [i What fresh hell.]

He was tugged down to the speaker's height. Green eyes bored into his. "Stepping in on my territory?" the man demanded. He raised his lip, showing off his fangs.

Lech sighed. Already? "Then, shall we?" he suggested, gesturing out the back of the club.

The other vampire spat. "You think you're good enough? Back down, old man."

In that moment, he felt [i unbearably] old. What a hassle. This whole thing. He was almost tempted to back down and walk away, except that he couldn't possibly take the blow to his pride that was publicly backing down from a man who looked like a mutant rooster. He already hated dealing with other vampires. This fool didn't know what he was, but the ones who did... he didn't know which was worse, the adulation at what he had been or the disgust at what he had become.

He drew a pair of gloves from his pocket. "Shall we make it official, then?" he offered. He couldn't help speaking formally. Something about this upstart made him desperately want to separate himself from The Youth. The green rooster was undeniably The Youth. Kaien was as well, but it was bearable, because he bore his wounds on his back, where no one could see them. This fool had never seen a real wound. Even his turning was probably something he'd desperately begged for.

The rooster rolled his eyes. "Jeez, go back home to your mausoleum already, grandpa. Fine, fine. Let's go out back." He tipped his head. It was probably supposed to be a low-key signal, but he'd apparently forgotten that his head was a glowing green cock's comb. Lech couldn't possibly miss the heavy-set men moving 'subtly' to the back. "C'mon."

Reluctantly, he followed the men out.

--

[i Aries--I've discovered something terrible about a hunter among us. Please respond ASAP so we can]

Silas sighed. Too informal, and somehow, also too formal. He deleted the email again and put his head in his hands. How did he say it? He couldn't just name names. Vampires were tricky little fucks, and he liked his family. If someone else saw it first--he didn't want to die. But he had to tell Aries. If he let this go, he'd never forgive himself. Kaien was in danger, he was in danger, the whole place was in danger! A vampire so easily walking amongst them, and no one even noticed? It was horrible!

[i Dear Aries,]

Footsteps from behind him. He slammed the backspace button. Quickly, he scrambled, opened a random spreadsheet and grabbed up a random piece of paper. When Kaien appeared, he almost jumped out of his skin. Alive? He was alive? "Kaien, you're--" he started, then stopped. Wait, a blood slave. Kaien could be a blood slave. He couldn't trust him. Couldn't say a thing. He faked a smile. "Um, how are you doing?"
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 120d 19h 42m 48s
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Kaien blinked.

“Lech.”

Lech’s figure continued down the street.

“Lech, I’m not going into the sewers.”

He kept walking.

“Lech.”

His partner’s shadow disappeared, and Kaien looked out into the darkness for several more seconds, contemplating, but ultimately he turned his back to the street and pivoted towards the entrance to hq. Whatever. Lech could handle it. He [i would], more aptly, because Kaien had, in three seconds time, imagined about a hundred different things he could do that weren’t [i that], and at current, there was nothing to dissuade him from doing any one of those hundred things instead. Traipsing through the sewer system? Yeah, he’d pass.

The doors were pushed open wide as he let himself in, eyes searching the spacious hallway before landing on the front desk, and consequently, the new receptionist. She looked somewhat familiar.

Kaien approached, hands in his pockets. The receptionist glanced up, distracted, but as soon as she took in his features her expression lit up in recognition.

“Oh!” she said, a smile softening the sharpness of her face. “It’s you!”
Kaien stared. So, he knew her? [i Of] her? She had pretty recognizable characteristics- riddled with piercings and tattoos as she was- but he couldn’t put his finger on it…
“From the library!” she said, and he snapped his fingers. Right. [i Right,] from the library.
“The front-”
“Front desk, yeah! You always used to sneak in at around eleven with those friends of yours, right?” She looked pleased to see him, but he couldn’t figure out why. He was [i marginally] sure they’d never interacted apart from askance greetings in the mornings at the start of her shift, but she’d never told on him, so he must’ve never caused her any trouble either. Not that he knew of, at least.
“Small world!” she said, tapping a blunted nail on the counter. “Who’re you here to see at this hour? Do you have a- uhh, no… not a reservation… does- does anyone know you’re here! That’s it. Does anyone know you’re here?” One corner of Kaien’s lips tipped up into a smirk, and he shook his head.
“Just here to see if anyone picked my jacket up.” Her eyebrows scrunched in confusion. “From the crime scene? Few days ago? Shareena?” She eyeballed him for several more moments before her eyes widened in realization.
“Oh..! Oh, you work here! Okay! Makes sense! Okay! Uh, riiggght- okay, I have to ask. It’s bothered me for [i years]. Those friends of yours- they weren’t human, were they? They weren’t, right?” He nodded, still smiling, and she returned his nod, gaze trailing down to focus on the counter. “I knew it… oohhh, I would’ve been [i so] fired if I’d snitched… wow… okay! So, lost and found?”
“Lost and found, yeah.”
“The cops might’ve picked it up, but probably not… I’ll check, and let you know? If it’s here, then it’ll be in one of the… anyway, I’ll see. It’s probably here. Are you coming in tomorrow?”
“You think you’ll have it by tomorrow?” He kinda needed it. Disregarding the fact that it wasn’t technically [i his,] it was his only one. “It’s got my keys inside. And my wallet. I can pick it up on my own. Just tell-”
“Nooo, no no, this is my job. The pay’s- it’s [i ridiculous,] so I have to keep this job. Girlfriend’s cats only eat this gourmet cat food that’s- anyway! I’ll get it. We can go look now, actually.” She stood. Pulled a set of keys from a tiny hook on the underside of the counter and rounded the front desk to stand next to him. She looked up at him. “Did you get taller? You look taller. I think. Follow me.”

She tucked the keys into a side pocket and began a brisk walk down the main hall. Kaien followed a few paces behind. Would Silas still be in? He seemed the hardworking type. He’d check, he decided. He had a few questions to ask.
  cigarette smoke / disir / 1y 120d 20h 46m 48s
He shook his head. "A whole parade of lovers," most of whom were more worried about their wives finding out, or it being some kind of prostitution sting, "but nothing concrete. None of them knew her well, shall we say. She was an adult actress for a few years, back when that building we were dragged to was a porn studio, but that's circumstantial at best, a coincidence at the worst."

Watching Kaien react to the idea of entering the sewers was hilarious. Prime theater. He could replay that face over and over again and never get sick of it. "Hope you've got long overalls and tall boots," he said with a smirk. He didn't want to go in the sewers either, but they had to get to the bottom of this somehow.

All sorts of stuff, huh? He let out a long sigh through his nose. The kid's problems weren't his business, but he wished he'd show a bit more determination about actually finishing the job. All sorts of stuff, and some of it involved that much blood. "I'd better not be getting a call for bail sometime soon."

Of course he was avoiding Aries. Did the kid think he was stupid? He just raised his eyebrows at Kaien and let that speak for itself. Drawing himself up a little straighter, he crossed an arm over his waist and propped the other against his chin. No, he hadn't seen Aries. Neither was he intending to. At least not until it wasn't obvious at a glance that he was looking better, or until he'd found other prey. He didn't want to find out what Aries would do if he knew he'd bit the golden boy. He had gotten lucky that Kaien seemed equally reluctant to let the man know.

Not that he wanted Kaien to know he considered that lucky. The kid already had enough of a hold over him if he so desired.

"He's been avoiding me," he purred quietly, satisfied with this fact. Someone knew what he should be afraid of. Aries had brushed him off, and he suspected that Silas knew better than to try badmouthing one of the eldest hunters around to just anyone. If it ever looked like he might actually pluck up the nerve to bust into Aries's office, he'd go have a [i word] with Silas and make sure he knew exactly what he was dealing with.

"I'll see you tomorrow for the sewers," he said, giving Kaien's perfect hair a good scruff as he walked by. Out on the town for some hunting, then back home to sleep.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 125d 23h 5m 24s
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Were business partners meant to be so attentive? Kaien had to admit that, [i this,] he didn’t know. He’d gone through his share of tentative partnerships, but none quite like this. The partners he’d worked together with in the past had all… no, actually- scratch that. It fell on his shoulders. Disregarding them, getting bored of them… he’d been the one to end the partnerships, whether he ever noticed or not.

He gave Lech a pronounced stare, curious. Was it because he’d let him have his blood? That was a [i thing] with vampires, if he recalled correctly, but on the other hand, Lech hardly seemed the type to get swept up like that. Ultimately, he dispelled the thought from his mind and let his head tilt at an angle, staying quiet and still as this vampire cleaned blood off his face. The why wasn’t important, in any case.

“Didn’t catch his name,” he said with a shrug. He hadn’t caught much of anything, except a face full of blood and a slew of mute curses. “He wasn’t much of a talker- paper?” He watched Lech pull it out of a different pocket . Kaien unfolded the paper, and his brows pinched. What was- a [i riddle]? [i Shareena…]

He shook his head. Handed the paper back. “I’m not too big on poetry. Science’s more up my alley- unambiguous stuff.” Facts. Statistics. Numbers and definitions. None of that ‘what the artist intended’ nonsense. The sciences didn’t pussyfoot around themselves. They were what they were, curt and to the point. “Not really much of a point in leaving something obscure like that- we’ve got no info on her.” Those words could be anything from locations to items to metaphors. Where were they even supposed to begin? [i Scholars.] “Did she have anyone close to her? Someone who could tell us something about her.”

Lech mentioned the building, and Kaien had to agree. Nothing. No traces of activity, apart from the dozen or so drifters he’d come across, none of which had been of any use. Even the ropes they’d used to tie them up had disappeared.

Kaien’s brows lifted, just barely, disbelief touching at the high points of his face. The way Lech phrased that almost sounded as if they were expected to go traipsing through a sewer to find Dreessen, but that was a joke. It was definitely a joke- had to be, because Kaien wasn’t going anywhere near any drainage covers. The idea of it was laughable, ergo, joke.

What [i he’d] been up to? “Oh, all [i sortsa] stuff,” he said, his exaggeration just blatant enough to sound suspicious. “Still got a few vacation days to use up, though. I just came to get my jacket.” His keys were in there, among other things. Speaking of his vacation… He turned away from the building, his back to the front entrance. He didn’t think he needed to mention it, but- “You’ve been avoiding Aries, yeah? Good. He’d never let me live it down if he found out.” Aries was [i very] good at connecting the dots with even the smallest of hints as a lead, and even better at being annoying about it as a result. Kaien didn’t need that complicating things for him.

He was avoiding the man’s notice for now.

“And Silas… [i he] didn’t say anything, did he?”
  cigarette smoke / disir / 1y 125d 23h 52m 18s
Out the front door. He smoothed back his hair and yawned, and nearly missed the kid walking directly at him. Lech sidestepped with inches to spare, started past, stopped, looked back. Speak of the devil.

His brow creased at the sight of Kaien. Didn't look scared of Lech, so maybe those three days off had been a coincidence. Maybe he didn't regret it, after all, and he'd be able to keep this whole scandal on the down-low after all. He looked healthier than he'd last seen him, but... that was unmistakably blood, splattered all over his face. He bent down and stopped himself a second before his instincts led him to lick it off like some kind of circus freak. Instead, he caught Kaien's chin between cool, delicate fingers, snatched a handkerchief from his breast pocket, and wiped the blood off. "Not yours," he stated, tossing the handkerchief directly in the nearest cigarette bin. If it had been, he would've become a circus freak for a moment there. "Whose?"

He snorted. How was it going? "Do you think I'm here this late for my health?" he replied. "Are you going to help, o paragon of the human race?"

The paper, goddamned useless thing. He reached into his inner pocket and pulled out a copy of the paper to hand to Kaien. "Does this mean something to you?" he asked tiredly. It didn't mean anything to him. Just a bunch of nonsense.

"It's back to the drawing board, it looks like," he said. Shareena had been a dead end. Or maybe she wouldn't have been, if she hadn't ended up a literal dead end. One way or another, there was no more he could do in that vein. "The building we were taken to... it got cleaned out as well. Whatever, whoever is behind this, they're thorough. Didn't leave a single trace of evidence behind."

It wasn't unexpected, their three suspects being, as they were, renowned members of the criminal underbelly. It wasn't all bad, though. All his hard work had gleaned him another lead. "Our reptilian friend is rumored to have a nest in the sewers," he said. It had seemed a ridiculous urban legend, but that was exactly how they'd overlooked it until now. "And I laughed, too... but lately, there's been an awful lot of suspicious activity around drainage covers. I've got a few... associates nosing around for the precise location, but we have concrete witnesses of known associates lurking around the sewers."

"What about you? Anything come up during your little vacation?" he asked lightly.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 126d 19h 45m 29s
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The man dropped, gasping for breath. Useless. He’d be dead in minutes.

“Was that really necessary?” Kaien asked, crouching down to meet the man at eye level. He leaned forward, neck tilting at an angle, until he caught the man’s wild gaze. He didn’t blame him. Having your windpipe burst inside your body had to feel pretty upsetting. He grasped the man’s chin with delicate fingers, made him look up. “I just asked a question, and you tried to stab me in the neck- why?”

The man sneered even as he wheezed and spat in Kaien’s face. His lips moved with the intent to speak, but no sound came out. Kaien watched his lips for a few moments, then straightened.

Sometimes it slipped his mind- many, [i many] people didn’t take too kindly to the presence of the hunters in this city.

He touched his face, brushed the tips of his fingers down the side of his cheek and glanced at it, then at the man. Blood. He hadn’t meant to do that- hadn’t planned for it to be messy.

“So, you don’t know anything?” he asked, letting the hand drop to his side. The man ignored him, clutching at his neck. This was a bust. The building was empty, and not [i one] of the several people he’d asked had told him anything worth looking into.

He turned and made his way to the exit. He’d hoped that man would’ve known something with the way he’d been staring at him, but no, he’d just been looking for an opening to come at Kaien’s neck.

People avoided him as he walked through the streets, and he figured he probably looked ridiculous with the blood on his face out in the open like that. No, it wasn’t some sort of cheap shot at an intimidation tactic, and [i no,] it wasn’t a statement either- he’d just been spat on. Nothing to see there.

The hunters’ tower peaked out from behind a row of buildings. He’d decided that, since he was already in the area, he’d stop by. See where his jacket was. Someone had to have picked it up. The police would have arrived at the scene and taken count of everything, but the hunters would’ve gotten there sooner. He’d check out the lost and found- namely, the front desk, and then he’d be on his way. It was late. As great as he felt, he still had a night’s sleep to catch on.

He rounded the corner and ran into Lech, or he would have, if Lech hadn’t moved at the last moment. Kaien looked at him, blinked, as if it was somehow surprising that he’d find Lech right outside his work place at the end of the work day.

“How’s the hunt going?” he skipped the greeting and asked, casually, acting brand new, like he wasn’t supposed to be on the same job, doing the same thing Lech was. [i Well…] technically speaking, he wasn’t, not really, and neither was Lech, but those were semantics. He’d do it this time, though- to find the people from that night. He doubted it wasn’t all connected. “That paper- did it give you anything useful?”
  cigarette smoke / disir / 1y 126d 21h 20m 55s
"I believe you insulted yourself worse than me," Lech murmured softly. If he was a wet nurse, then that made Kaien an infant. It wasn't as if he'd never handled children before, in any case.

It [i was] good. He blinked languidly at the explanation and fetched the phone. He closed the door quietly on the way out. As he turned, he nearly ran into the landlady, who was hovering just outside.

"Is he alright?" she asked nervously.

Lech gave her a gentle smile. "He'll be just fine. A few day's rest, and his legs should work properly again."

"Oh dear! What happened?"

He just smiled. "If he seems bothered when he wakes, call me." He slid the landlady his number. Lech leaned in. "Or if you get lonely."

"Dearie me," she gasped, a hand to her chest. Lech left her a smile and drifted away. It was slightly disgusting, but a man had to eat. If he was going to do this regularly, he had to get a network started. A set of regulars, preferably who all believed they were the only one in his eyes.

The rain soaked into his shoulders as he stepped out into the night. Lech let out a sigh. It was going to be a lot of work.

--

Three days. It wasn't a long time, but he already felt run down again. One meal wasn't going to make up for a long famine, and there'd been nothing else on the market yet. The long hours hadn't helped. There was a mountain of paperwork to do with Shareena's death, and on top of that, the paper she'd left them wasn't very clear.

[i Left of the sky/four from the rye/Seek highest star/And shall, move ajar].

It didn't make sense to him, or anyone else, and a long time spent researching every possible connection had left him empty-handed.

Similarly, no one owned the hotel he'd been lured into; in fact, it didn't even exist. The address they'd been taken to was inhabited by vagrants and had once, a long time ago, been a porn studio. Whoever had been using it had cleared out and moved in the time it had taken him to get back to headquarters and launch an investigation.

Aries hadn't noticed. Yet. But that was because it was incredibly easy to avoid the big man unless he actively worked to see Aries, or Aries wanted to see him.

He sighed and rubbed his face. Ugh. And the kid hadn't showed up. Probably regretted it. Hopefully he wouldn't make a big deal about it. That'd be the end of Lech.

He stood and stretched, letting out a long sigh. Home for the night. No point in staying up late again. He got in early and left late, anyways. The sunlight was particularly shit on him now, for whatever reason. Probably just it'd felt better for a day, so now it felt worse again. Rubbing the back of his neck, he wandered out of the building and down onto the street.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 126d 22h 55m 33s
[center [pic http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee397/Sakura-chi/k2_zps6odp3n0i.png]]

“If you ever get tired of this line of work, you should look into caretaking,” he said after he was settled- dry and comfortable. “You’d make a [i great] wet nurse.”

Lech [i did] end up extending an offer of a helping hand, but Kaien waved him off without a hint of consideration. “I can’t become a werewolf,” he expounded at length, gaze on the ceiling. “I was born an adept, so I can only be an adept. That’s how it works. The body doesn’t leave room for genetic faults- comes with being what you’d call the ‘perfect human’.” His stare slid off the ceiling and landed on Lech. Kaien observed him for a moment, the changes his body had gone through, how the atmosphere had shifted around him- he inclined his head.

“It was good, right?” The blood. “Even with all the shit happening to it, it’d still have been better than any regular human’s blood, and that’s why I can’t become a werewolf. Infections, viruses, illnesses- they can’t survive inside my body.” To cut it short; Lech was free to go. He’d be fine.

“Before you leave, though, could you hand me my phone? Should be on that table over there.” He accepted the phone in a loose grip, checking the time. Six missed calls. Huh. He held the power button for several seconds, waited for the phone to turn off. He’d be receiving no calls for the next several days. If anyone wanted to reach him, they’d have to pay a visit.

He glanced at the door. “If you meet the landlady and she asks you something, make the story as outrageous as you can.”

--

He slept for three days. Not straight through, of course. He’d awoken in bursts- to use the bathroom, to bathe, eat, drink, the basics- but the majority of it, he spent sleeping the sickness off, and so, when he sat up in bed for the first time that day to pitch black darkness, he felt great. Better than great. [i Ideal,] like he was used to feeling. Like it was supposed to be.

With a deep breath, he stood, lifted his arms above his head and stretched. His joints cracked gratefully. He ignored the phone on his nightstand, going for the en suite. Shower first, then everything else.

Fifteen minutes later he emerged with an armful of clothes. He tossed the nightclothes into the hamper, pulled on a clean pair of sweatpants and left the bedroom. The blinds on his windows were all drawn back, the outside world bathed in dark. He crossed the room, quiet steps on hardwood parquet and reached for the fridge, pulling out an uncapped bottle of still water.

He took a seat at the table, twisted the cap and brought the bottle to his lips. Several days of sleep had fixed everything. His body felt strong and energized. He was in perfect shape. As soon as he finished his drink, he was paying a visit to that address. He had a woman to find.
  cigarette smoke / disir / 1y 126d 23h 43m 31s
Back to Kaien's place. He waited for the kid to tell him the address, quietly watching him breathe. Now that he wasn't starving to death, the whole world seemed a gentler place. Certainly less painful.

The cold rain was nothing compared to the warmth where Kaien pressed against his body, or the warmth of his blood in Lech's stomach. Why hadn't he eaten earlier? It seemed ridiculous now. All the pride in the world wasn't worth that kind of pain. The kid was right. He'd been being stupid.

He should be rebuilding his strength instead. Finding a new way to get back. Forging fresh alliances. Loitering in the hunters' halls until he died was stupid. Stupid and lazy. If anything, that was exactly what his sister wanted him to do: waste away and die from his pride.

Though now he had to find someone to feed from that didn't offend his sensibilities. Permission or no, he didn't like the idea of blood slaves. It was too easy. There was no thrill, and besides, he didn't like the taste of other vampires' venom in his food. On the other hand, neither did he want to pursue his food for weeks at a time before they were finally at a place where he could ask that of them. He sighed quietly, looking up at the rain. He'd figure something out.

Before he knew it, they were back at Kaien's apartment. A startled landlady handed over the key. Lech gave her a smouldering smile and a knowing smirk that ensured she'd ask Kaien too many questions about their relationship, his own little present to future-Kaien.

He obeyed Kaien's order and set him down on the couch. "Hold still," he said, then went poking around in the kid's apartment. A little investigation located Kaien's clothes and towels. He returned to the couch. Knelt, started undoing Kaien's clothes. Down to the underwear, which were dry, and needed no changing.

"You don't need a cold, too, I presume," he said, carefully toweling off Kaien's body. When he was done, he redressed Kaien in the nightclothes he'd found, dried his hair, and adjusted him more comfortably on the couch. "I don't want a werewolf as a partner. Should I stay?"

There wasn't much he could do, really. Make something to eat or drink, feed the kid if he needed it. But if two hours was all the paralysis agent took to wore off, it seemed a little unnecessary. "If you would rather, always remember I can welcome you to the night, instead."

He really had no interest in converting Kaien. For one, he couldn't taste that delicious adept blood ever again if Kaien was the same as him. But if the option was to convert him or let him be a wolf, he'd rather convert the boy. Still, the choice was ultimately Kaien's. [i If] he failed to fight off the disease in the first place.

Lech stood and moved to the door. If he wasn't needed, he'd head home for the day.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 127d 3h 11m 58s
[center [pic http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee397/Sakura-chi/k2_zps6odp3n0i.png]]

Hold on, Lech said, as if Kaien had any say in the matter. Everyone was a comedian these days, it seemed.

Lech landed smoothly . It was as dark outside as it’d been inside the room, streetlights scattered all around without being imposing, and his head was grateful for it, the pulsating pain an incessant pressure on the senses. At some point, the throb had spread down into his jaw, his teeth, but he willed his mind off it. Back to the present situation.

Kaien gave Lech’s question some thought, but it wasn’t a hard decision to make. He inclined his head to the side and at an angle, eyes landing on the name of the street messily engraved on the wall of the building and put the information away for a later time. “Drop me off at my place,” he said, dropping his head back on to his partner’s chest, his eyes sliding shut. Sensation was beginning to return to his limbs, from the tips of his fingers and moving upwards at a snail’s pace. He curled the fingers of his left hand into a loose fist, tightened, then relaxed. Not too bad, but not nearly good enough. “It’s gonna be around two more hours or so before I can move my legs,” and that was a big [i maybe]. If he was going to be stuck like this for several more hours, he’d at least spend it somewhere he could freely let his mind drift off.

He recited his address- [i street a building b floor c]- then fell quiet, comfortable to sit in the nothingness. Lech didn’t feel the need to fill the silence with small talk, for which Kaien was grateful. He’d officially expended the last of his dialogue prompts for the day back up in the dark room.

The evening- or, night, at this point- was soundless, the noises of the city muted at this hour. Rain fell against his skin, and in a matter of minutes he was drenched, but he didn’t mind. The cold allowed his mind to wander.

His building came into view after fifteen-ish minutes or so, Lech’s brisk pace eating up the distance in quick order. The entrance doors were locked, and Kaien knew the key was back up in the late Shareena’s bedroom, in his jacket alongside his apartment key. That in itself wasn’t an issue. Getting through locks was a simple endeavor, but Kaien’s landlady was a cheap woman with an eye for detail, and she’d be singling him out in a matter of days, asking for reparations.

“Press the second button from the top,” he said, and waited. Not ten seconds in, the intercom crackled with static and a woman’s voice came through. She never slept- or rather, she always knew when to be awake.
“Who is it?” Her voice was clear and brooked no nonsense.
“Evening, ma’am,” Kaien responded, a lilt in his tone. Silence stretched on for several more seconds, and then the doors buzzed as they were unlocked, letting them in. He told Lech his apartment number, and when they reached the floor, his landlady was there waiting, a spare key in her hand. Her eyes widened as she took in the pair of them.
“Give my friend the key,” Kaien said, and, eyes still wide, she did, dropping the key into Lech’s open palm without comment. He gave her a smile, one of his more charming ones, ending the conversation without giving her an opportunity to ask what she eventually would anyways, when she caught Kaien alone.

Once they were inside, Kaien tilted his head to the right. “Just drop me onto the couch.” He was wet, and the aches grew more pronounced, but that all paled in comparison to the tiredness weighing down on his otherwise weightless body. He’d move later.
  cigarette smoke / disir / 1y 127d 4h 1m 12s
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