The kid tensed. Some distant part of him was delighted. It was almost like he'd hunted him down. The rest of him was annoyed. Shouldn't have offered if Kaien was going to hate it. He'd been fine.
It didn't matter. He waited for Kaien to relax, watching the door. He'd kick whoever came through, if anyone did. Destroy them. No one was going to touch Kaien. That was another thing he'd forgotten: the instinct to protect his food. Stand over it and snarl, like some kind of feral animal, ready to attack anything that got close. It was stronger than he'd remembered it. But it would fade. He, too, closed his eyes and took measured breaths. No need to be protective of Kaien. Kaien wasn't food. He was his partner. The little fool could take care of himself.
A nod, and they were off. He stepped into the hallway and looked in either direction. The walls were smudged with dirt, the whole thing on the verge of derelict. Not abandoned, but not actively maintained, either. All the ropes fell off Kaien, which got a raised eyebrow out of Lech. He wasn't going to get aggressive again, was he? "I could have just untied those," he said.
Down to the left. He kicked his legs as he walked, the left, then the right, one for each. Nothing knocked against his thigh. So his gun was gone. Oh well, he'd grab another at the armory. Aries wouldn't be pleased, but--
He stopped dead in the middle of the hallway. Aries was going to whoop his ass. Haha, don't bite the new kid, Lech, and what was it, their second mission, and here he was. This was the end of him.
[i I'm already regretting it.]
After a beat, he pressed on again. Couldn't afford to stop here, not while they were surrounded by unknown enemies.
Two options. The window or the stairs. [i Eighth floor.] It was doable. [i Forty men]. If he was alone, and he didn't have a fragile, paralyzed human in his hands, then... assuming they didn't have ahold of his race or weaknesses.... Yeah, it's be difficult no matter what.
He ducked into the empty room. It wasn't quite empty. There was a dirty mattress and an empty camera stand, the kind that cheap hand-held cameras got docked to. And there was the window. It had hinges and opened out, the building old enough that it functionally opened. He swapped Kaien to one arm and his knee, opened the window, swapped him back. It was raining, but lightly. Rain blew in the window and busily darkened the floor beneath them.
Carefully, Lech stepped one leg, then the other out the window. He sat there for a moment, judging the leap, waiting for an unlucky soul with an umbrella to pass by. "Hold on."
He didn't wait for an answer, but jumped. The world rushed by. His grip tightened on Kaien. With a hefty thump, he landed. The concrete didn't crack at all, which was slightly disappointing, but much better for their survivability. For a few steps, his ankles ached, but the ache quickly wore off. He had that kind of strength, now.
"Where do you want to go?" he asked, looking around them. He memorized the address--[i not that hotel I was dragged into]--and took off at a quick pace. Wherever they needed to be, they'd be better off far from here.
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Regret it? He huffed out a breath. “If I start regretting it, I’ll be sure not to let it show, Your Highness.”
He was picked up , and when he saw Lech’s fangs, he glanced off to the side and braced himself.
The first thing he felt was pain, which was natural. He’d expected it. He’d imagined the pain, calculated the timing, the sensation of teeth puncturing his skin, so when it came, his reaction was controlled. He didn’t lash out, and Lech’s body didn’t come apart, so he counted it as a success. So far, it was going exactly as he’d imagined it would.
And then the pain disappeared, heat spread throughout a body that was meant to be [i numb] to somesthetic sensation, and Kaien’s stomach dropped, his heartbeat picking up at double the speed. He closed his eyes and bit the inner side of his cheek, his expression pinching. This didn’t have to be a problem. He just had to concentrate, and he’d handle it with the same amount of efficiency he did everything else, trauma or no. All it was, was a memory, his body’s reaction to the recollection of a nightmare, and it didn’t belong in this moment, regardless of the rising sickness in his gut, aiming to prove otherwise. Lech wasn’t an enemy. He’d given him his permission. He had it under control.
He was calm.
[i He was calm.]
His heart refused to. Calm, that is, but it didn’t matter. The instant Kaien felt he was going to vomit, Lech pulled away, and it was over. He swallowed the sickness down. He was [i not] going to throw up- ridiculous. It was [i ridiculous] that his body had reacted like this.
“Gimme a moment,” he muttered, eyes still closed, brows drawn together as if in pain. He could hear his own heartbeat thundering in his ears and he zeroed in on it, on the phantom of a panic attack, wrapped allegorical hands around it, and [i squeezed.] [i Shut up.]
Instantaneously, everything obeyed. His heart settled back into his chest, the ringing in his ears cut off, and the sickness withered away. [i Good.] He opened his eyes. It'd be a cold day in hell before he surrendered to being the victim of [i anything], his ghosts least of all.
Right. With that handled, he nodded at Lech. The bindings around his wrists fell away, and the rest of his body followed shortly after, ropes snapping and slipping off. Again, he was lifted off the ground without the sensation of gravity pulling him down. He hated it. He hated feeling weightless. He would find whoever had done this to him, whoever had put him in this room, [i whoever] had injected him with whatever this was, and he would make them hurt three times over. Not because it was now personal, and not because he had decided to hold a grudge, but all for the simple reason that no one got to do this to him and live.
“Go left,” he said, the picturesque image of clean composure. “There’s thirteen floors- we’re on the eighth. There’s less people on the left side, but you’re gonna run into someone unless you jump. There’s an elevator, but it stops at every floor, so I’d suggest skipping it.” He’d had [i ample] time to examine the structure of the building and its occupants. He’d remember the address. He’d come back. He’d find them. “Continue down the hall- there’s a room on the left, second to last door.” He delivered the facts on auto-pilot, taking in their surroundings and comparing it to the image in his head.
“The entire lower floor’s empty, but the one below that’s got about forty or so people stationed all throughout,” he said, leaving the decision up to Lech on whether to take the window or address their captors directly. Whatever he chose, it’d be Kaien’s turn later. When he was no longer a dead weight, he’d be back. He’d pay his dues.
/ 1y 127d 16h 54m 30s
He sighed. He hadn't wanted a lecture. Yes, yes, he got it, he was a miserable excuse for a kind-of-living being. As if he hadn't had that one beat into him already.
"I didn't tell you that because I thought you'd [i care]," he said, shaking his head dramatically. He didn't think anyone was going to feel sorry for him. He wasn't wallowing in any feelings. He was just trying to prove her wrong for once. Show her he wasn't a monkey on a string, dancing to her tune. Fuck her, anyways.
Nobody cared about his suffering. He had to find his own way out if it, huh? His own way to make everyone feel his suffering. He chucked at that. Exactly what she didn't want. Maybe he should. Exploit her stupid rules. Get fat and powerful again. See what she thought, when he was the one on top of the world. Except he had an unpleasant feeling that it was exactly what she wanted him to do. That this whole thing was some kind of lesson she'd set up, and he didn't want to learn it. Didn't want to be the punchline for once.
[i Then I've just got to be smarter,] he thought.
He turned toward Kaien, not quite listening, then stiffened. Wait... had he really just...? He blinked, his brows furrowed. An adept. Maybe it was true. Maybe it would make him stronger. But then... he'd be giving in. She'd be winning. He hadn't hunted Kaien. There was no thrill. No rush. Might as well go to one of the alleyways and find a drugged out idiot willing to sell their blood. Hell, Kaien was pretty drugged out right now.
And the other option was to leave the golden boy behind. Ha, that wasn't happening. Even like this, his ragged old corpse should be enough to protect Kaien from the worst of... whatever they were about to get thrown into. Though it would be nicer to have two hands again.
What was it going to be? The offer wasn't going to last forever. Dammit. It shouldn't be this easy to waver his heart. He'd already resolved to not give in to her stupid... but the kid was right. It was kind of his fault he was stuck, wasn't it? If he stopped being stubborn, he had so many more chances to get her back. The kid was right. No one cared. It was just his pride, but damn if it wasn't hard to get over.
Tiredly, he scrubbed his face with his hand. "Don't regret it later," he warned. It couldn't be a young beauty with big breasts, either. Oh well, beggars and all that. He picked up Kaien and bent over his neck. His skin really was quite beautiful. Clear and smooth, like fresh parchment. He opened his mouth. [i I'm going to be the one to regret this,] he realized, and then he bit the kid anyways. Teeth sunk through soft flesh. Blood welled up, warm as fresh bread out of the oven.
It was like coming home. Like feeling the sun without pain. Like watching a sunset and sliding into inky night. A cool lake on a summer's day. It tasted delicious, but that took a backseat to how good his whole body felt. He hadn't even realized his stomach was hurting until it suddenly stopped. All the aches and pains of his body melted right away. His arm tingled as it grew back, his hair regained color, his eyes brightened.
[i What am I doing?] He pulled away sharply. With an ashamed gesture, he wiped his mouth, erasing the evidence. Biting his own partner. What had happened to his logic? His common sense? Shit, he'd really been pretty far gone.
Out of the corner of his eye, he glanced at Kaien. He hadn't meant to use venom, but he couldn't remember if he had or hadn't in the heat of the moment. All it'd do was numb him at the bite and make him feel warm and happy, but the last thing the kid needed right now was more drugs in his system.
He felt good, though. Powerful. Lech shuddered and licked his lips, savoring the last of it. He'd forgotten how good it felt afterwards. He felt so alive. There was heat and thunder in his veins, pure strength dominating any leftover pain. No one could stop him. He picked up Kaien and shoved open the door. No point wasting another moment here. It was time for them to go, through whatever might get in their way.
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[i Was there anything else worth dying for?]
“No, there isn’t,” he said. “Because there’s nothing worth dying for in the first place.” There was nothing honourable about one’s death for the sake of something else. Not to him, at least. He would give up everything; every single person, thing, his or otherwise- [i everything,] but never his life. Never himself.
“What should you live for? What kind of stupid fucking question… old men are so goddamned fatalistic.” Life for life’s sake was enough for him- it was everything for him. There was no philosophy to it- a [i raison d'être] was what people with one one quarter a brain cell looked for to validate themselves to themselves when it was completely unnecessary. “You can’t expect me to know how to answer that- we’ve got fundamentally different ideas on what’s [i it] for us. For me, it’s being alive and getting to live that life. If you need something more, you’re gonna have to get it. No one’s gonna hand it to you,” and Lech knew that.
He narrowed his eyes, scoffing at Lech’s disdain. Yes. Humans weren’t shit. He’d gotten the picture.
“That, too, that boohoo shit. You’re gonna have to find something new, because there’s not a single person out there who’s gonna feel sorry for you just because you’re there and in pain. People don’t care about how much your life sucks, or how much you’ve suffered, and why should they? Everyone deals with their own shit, and the people who don’t, don’t last. Being in your feelings because no one’s paying attention to how bad you’ve got it is a waste of your time.”
For Kaien, the distinction had been simple since the beginning. He’d lost everything that’d mattered to him before he’d been old enough to even realize how [i much] he’d come to depend on it, and after that, he’d been forced to.
But what did he know? Humans, right?
Anyway. Heart-to-heart finished. He shook his head at Lech’s question.
“I can get rid of the rope, but there’s no point if I can’t use my limbs. I’m stuck like this,” and [i that] was the punchline. He considered their situation, and came to a decision. Hesitation had no place here.
“You should bite me,” he said, disregarding the double entendre. “I’m not planning on dying here, so if we’re getting out together, it’s not gonna be with you in this condition. I give you my permission, or however that entire thing works. And if [i not],” he continued. “If you wanna hold onto your pride, or if you don’t think you’ll be able to hold back, leave, and I'll get out on my own.” Later. Eventually. When his body started working as it was supposed to.
Was that why he'd been so angry earlier? He thought to ask, then dismissed it. He didn't need to know every little step of Kaien's thought process. The kid had his own problems, and if some kind of severe bipolar disorder was one of them, so be it. If it was the bite, he was 'getting over it,' or whatever. Either way: not his problem.
He rolled his eyes. [i What a surprise,] he thought sarcastically. Humans never understood. No compassion in their hearts. Well: look at them. Crawling all over the planet, sticking their noses in where they didn't belong, and then whose fault was it when they plopped into someone's home and got eaten? In his opinion, they should stop wandering into peoples' homes, but noooo, it was 's fault! How evil!
Kaien probably wouldn't understand that, either, though. He sat up and pulled the ropes off his legs, even though he couldn't feel them quite yet. They'd be free soon enough. The aches and pains were coming back across the upper half of his body, thoroughly unpleasant. It would've been nice if he could have kept the numbing agent and lost the paralysis, but nothing in this world ever worked out.
The goddamned sass. "I wasn't [i actually] a king. But it's close enough, I suppose, for your little mind."
Footsteps sounded outside. They both fell silent. Lech stared at the door. His body tensed, preparing to fight--though he still couldn't feel his legs. He half laid down instead, but he'd already undid the ropes. [i Shit.] It was bright in the hallway, a thin line of light spilling from underneath the door. For a moment, he saw the shadow of someone passing, and then it was gone. He breathed out. They weren't coming for them yet.
"Is there anything else worth dying for?" he countered. Everyone died in the end. Whether they died with their pride or without it, they all died. Might as well go out with the one thing he still had. There was nothing else left for him in this world. Just a shitty apartment, a... decent job, and a sassy little teenager to babysit. He'd lived this long on sheer force of will, but he was sick of being stuck under his sister's thumb, made to act like a human on force of death. If he could kill her... but that hadn't been possible for decades.
"Here's a better one: what should I live for?" he asked Kaien. Pain, another paycheck, another eternal payment on his apartment, taxes, early mornings, bitter coffee, aching body, another investigation that wouldn't close, another ruinous fight, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, and then home to sleep until the next round. He had nothing. Nothing but painful things. The only thing keeping him going was his pride; he didn't want to be a sniveling worm, unable to support itself, gutter trash on the streets. That was all he was in his sister's eyes. He'd at least prove her wrong.
It wasn't that he actively wanted to die. It was just that he saw no other way forward. No way behind the obstacles that had been set before him, the cage that had been built around him.
He waved his hand dismissively. "It's sweet that you care, love, but don't mind me. Another dead monster, isn't that what all you humans want? I'll work until I can't, and then you'll all be happier and safer on the streets, or something."
Using his one good arm, he dragged himself over to Kaien and pulled at the ropes. "Should I untie you?" he offered, searching for the knot. What were they even left in this room for? Bargaining chips? He wasn't... but Kaien might matter enough to Aries, the golden boy. Maybe they were to be sold at auction, the dumb vampire and the lovely adept. No, no matter what he thought up, there was no reason to capture him as well. Except to kill them. But then, why take so long to do it? He looked at the door. Hopefully they'd find out soon, or else he'd die of boredom.
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The headache was back, as if on cue. As soon as he’d spoken it into existence, the symptoms had come skipping back in unison. Kaien breathed out a sigh. This entire situation was so unnecessary. He didn’t care about any kind of mission anymore, let alone a list of names. Why was he being dragged into it again?
“That’s what my body’s doing,” he explained, choosing to ignore Lech’s comment. “But all of [i this]--” Being [i awake], mainly, but also everything that’d come afterwards. “is making it difficult for it to focus on [i just] that.” Something like a wolf’s bite, it needed to be burned out all at once, and exhaustion, injuries, poison- they were all distractions too bothersome for his body to ignore.
Kaien fell silent as Lech launched into a story with those half-answers of his. He assumed the bitch was his sister- he’d gotten the [i vaguest] impression that Lech didn’t like her all too much.
So, he’d been the king of some country- or something along those lines, at the very least- and his sister had come along and plucked it right out of his hands without Lech’s spoken consent. Candy, baby.
“Wow,” he began after a pause. “To think I’ve been in the presence of royalty all this time, and no one thought to mention it to me.” He couldn’t muster up even an ounce of compassion. Lech had lost everything, and this was his response?
“With all due respect, your Highness,” he said, but then reconsidered his next words. Why did it bother him? It wasn’t any of his business. If Lech had made the decision to suffer until he died, then that was a weight he had chosen to carry. It had nothing to do with Kaien. He didn’t know why he’d felt the need to voice any kind of displeasure, but he brushed the inclination off without any additional thought.
Besides, if he [i did] end up dying because of this, that’d sure show his sister, huh? The perfect act of rebellion.
He heard footsteps. [i Speak of the devil,] and all that- or so he’d thought, but the steps passed by the room without even a brief adjustment in speed, seemingly with no recognition of the room, continuing somewhere down the hall until the the sound of their walking disappeared.
Kaien frowned. As far as kidnappings went, this one was pretty underwhelming. They’d dumped them in this room, and then…? What was the point of this? If they’d wanted them dead, whoever they were, why not just kill them? Why go through all this trouble? They’d had them- both of them- so [i why]?
Just another complication. People never kept things simple. Was there even a point in waiting? He couldn’t move either way, and if no one was going to come in and attempt to kick him around, laying around awake like this lost all of its appeal. He could’ve been spending this pointless intermezzo asleep, actually accomplishing something with his time.
He tried to move. Nothing. Still nothing. He could bring the entire building down, and still he’d be stuck here, in the same conditions, for who knew how long. He’d had enough of being carried.
He let his head drop to the side, eyes on the door.
“Are you willing to die for your pride?”
The goddamn sass. This boy, honestly. Lech shook his head at Kaien.
"I don't know if it was the voices so much as the eyes," Lech said, twisting his lips. He didn't remember it very clearly, but vampires were also users of hypnosis. He knew the signs, the techniques. He'd never been particularly good at it himself, but... well, he was just as surprised as the kid seemed that he'd been taken in so easily.
[i Weak. You're so weak,] a little voice whispered.
Infected? He frowned, brows curling together. The pieces fell into place slowly, cobbled together from his and the wolf's memories. "That was a bite, on your back?" He breathed out. Well, shit. There was an antidote; it wasn't particularly effective, and it had to be taken within the first 48 hours of infection. [i Are we already past that?] He didn't know how long he'd slept before Kaien had contacted him. Probably, right? So that left hunting down that specific wolf, and talk about a needle in a damn haystack. Or... "Can you fight it off? Your body, I mean. Being an adept, as you are."
He smirked. "Or, I mean, you could join my side instead..." Kaien would just love that, wouldn't he.
He cut off as Kaien continued. His lips pursed, and he looked away crossly. "Those were... extenuating circumstances," he muttered. He was high off the night and Kaien's hatred and his pain. And Kaien was a delicious little treat, not just any old human bloodbag. He wouldn't usually do that kind of thing.
His arm had feeling again. Most of it. He struggled harder, yanked it out of the bindings, clenched his hand. Still felt like pins and needles all over, but at least he could move.
He sighed out. Kaien wouldn't understand. "Let's say," he started anyways, because he didn't mind talking down to his inferiors every now and again, "let's say you were king. Unlikely, but..." he shrugged. "Top of the world, tea on a gold platter, all that. Anything you want, you reach out--" he reached, clenched his hand. "There it is."
He paused a moment, remembering. It had been so beautiful. He'd had a wife, a family. Pets. A house. A beautiful garden. All gone. All in flames. His face twisted in anger. "And then some bitch kicks you off your throne and tears your country apart. Everything you built, everything you loved, in cinders. To add insult to injury, she puts a muzzle on you, locks it, hands you the key. Tells you the only way you can eat ever again is if someone takes pity on you and gives you [i permission] to take it off." He spread his hand and shrugged. "It's my little act of rebellion. She can take everything else, but she can't take my pride. What I eat, I hunt myself. I don't ask anyone's god-dammned permission." He spat the words, splitting the curse into two hard syllables.
How long had it been? He gave Kaien a smile and leaned back. The emotion was gone. He didn't care. He didn't care about any of it. "Long enough. Long enough for me to make stupid propositions when the pain gets to me." Maybe he'd finally die, soon. Be at peace.
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His eyes were slowly adjusting to the darkness. It wasn’t a big room, not from what he could see , but it wasn’t small, either. Too big a place to dump two unconscious bodies in, but that’s all there was. No furniture. Not even a wall ornament or two. Nothing. Just the two of them- him and Lech.
For several moments, he couldn’t figure out how Lech would’ve [i possibly] ended up in here with him, but then, it dawned on him, a shining beacon in a blank sea of no memories. Right. He’d seen the man enter Peste, from the corner of his eye. They’d arrived together. [i Right.] He recalled the anger- objectively, now, from a logician's point of view- the bar, the woman, and nothing else. He couldn’t remember leaving the bar, had no remembrance of blacking out, but here he was.
He turned, and now he could make out the specific details of the man’s frame in the vivid darkness. “Nah. I’m fine,” he said. “Just hanging out, taking in the sights. I’ll get up any second now.” [i Anyway.]
“I can’t remember anything about the woman- couldn’t tell you the first thing about what she looked like,” apart from the imprecise reminder of just how beautiful she’d been, which was the sole thing that remained of her. Gorgeous. Women like her didn’t go to places like [i Peste.] Not without specific intentions. How hadn’t he questioned it?
He didn’t state the obvious, but they were both thinking it. Mind control. Manipulative hypnosis, if he had to be exact. He’d been [i persuaded] into following that woman. What? How? How. [i How.] Such a thing wasn’t supposed to be possible. Adepts were resistant to mind control, he’d [i witnessed it.]
“Could be sirens- sea snakes. Pretty. Compelling voices…” he murmured, but the revelation had pulled him up short and the sentence drifted away unfinished. [i Hypnotised]? [i Him?] All at once, it was all he could focus on. It was a weakness, a massive one. He’d never once proven susceptible to mind manipulation, so what was this? Was something wrong with him? Was it [i not] mind control? He couldn’t wrap his head around it.
“I think I’m infected,” he said, side-lining the conversation. “It’s been over half an hour since I woke up, and I can just barely move my head. My body isn’t resisting whatever this is, and the only way that could happen is…” if it was busy resisting something [i else.] Something bigger. That had to be it. It had to. It was the only explanation that made sense to him. He hadn't checked the wound. A dumb mistake, in hindsight, but it justified the state of his body. In the middle of that fight, he’d been bitten by one of the wolves, and he just hadn't noticed until right this moment. That was it.
He inclined his head, his eyes pointed Lech’s way. “Before the bar, when you suggested I beat you up, you asked for my blood in return. You did it casually. So how come you haven’t fed? Getting permission shouldn’t be that big of a deal.” Blood slaves weren’t a novelty in this city, or anywhere else in the world, for that matter. “How long’s it been, and why?” Why would a vampire ever let themselves grow so weak? Lech’s easy arrogance betrayed his age- that was a singularity every single vampire he’d ever come in contact with shared, so it didn’t make sense.
He was leading up to something, but he had to have all the facts.
It was a slow waking. The world turned from black to gray to a kind of pinkish-orange. He basked in it, the warmth of that color, until it slowly occurred to his numbed brain that the color was, in fact, his eyelids. Reluctantly, he peeled his eyes open.
Darkness awaited. Lech sighed and shifted, or tried to. His limbs woudln't obey him. Couldn't feel a single part of himself, not even his own mouth and tongue. He couldn't move, but he was also numb. Lech considered, then raised his eyebrows. Fair trade. Especially considering the day he'd had so far.
So how had he gotten here? Last he remembered, he'd been at that apartment with the kid. It'd gone disastrously, [i as usual,] but not this disastrously. No, wait. He frowned. There'd been... he'd, right, a bar. And that lovely woman. Right. Right, right... he sighed out. What kind of delusion had possessed him for a minute there? No one wanted a nasty old man like him. Certainly not a pretty young thing like her.
There was someone else in the room. Lech turned and was disappointed to feel his head actually twitch. Damn it. Soon enough, he'd be able to feel his body again. He did [i not] want that.
A sound. Lech breathed in deeply. He had his suspicions as to who was in this room with him. Namely, the kid. The scent confirmed it: it was the kid, for sure. Kaien.
"Hey," he croaked back. Damn, should've taken that girl up on her suggestion; he needed a drink. None to be had here. He swallowed, then tried again. "You paralyzed too?"
Lech shifted. If it was effecting him this strongly, that meant it was either not just a poison, and therefore all his strength against toxins meant nothing, or that he was so weak even an ordinary paralysis drug could effect him. He didn't really like either option, but there was nothing he could do about it.
He sighed out and shifted again. He could feel his chest a little now. It was fading fast now that he was awake. If their captors wanted to keep them paralyzed, they'd be back soon. "Wonder what we got wrapped up in here," he said. He kept shifting the whole time. The sooner he could escape these binds, the sooner they could do something about their situation.
"I mean, they didn't bring us here for fun," he continued. There was conversation in the distance, but it was in the distance. No one was close enough to hear them, that he knew of. "You have any idea what those girls could be? I kept thinking the one of them was... kind of..." he gestured vaguely. "Snake-like."
He fell silent and focused on struggling against the binds. His shoulders were starting to get feeling back. Soon, his arms--[i arm], he corrected himself--too, would be able to move. Which reminded him.
"Back in the apartment. That thug, they jabbed me with holy water," he explained. He paused to let the silence speak for itself, then glanced over at Kaien. "Which means they were prepared for us. Specifically us."
The he shrugged. "Or they pissed off some other vampire and got lucky. I doubt it, though." it seemed more convoluted an answer than the obvious: that whoever it was knew who was investigating them, and wanted it to end. By any means possible.
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He blinked, looking out into the darkness. This… hadn’t been part of the plan. He couldn’t really… [i recall] what the plan had been, or even how he’d [i gotten] here- he’d looked into the woman’s eyes, and everything else had just melted away after a time- but this couldn’t have been on the itinerary. He was never that thoughtless.
He tested his limbs. They refused to cooperate. Yeah, no. He definitely hadn’t agreed to this. He was bound- could see the outline of [i something]- but that posed no problem. Bindings couldn’t hold him. The problem would come afterwards, when he was free, because no matter how hard he concentrated, how much he focused on the idea, he [i couldn’t move.] Couldn’t even shift to the side. The most he could manage were short bursts of head movement, but even that came at a price, he noticed, his breathing labored after just several seconds of muscle exertion. He’d been injected with something.
Something in him, a tiny part in the back of his head, wanted to panic. Being trapped was [i bad bad bad] he needed to look for a means of escape and he needed to do it [i now] he needed to get out of these ties he needed to [i move] he [i needed to]-
Kaien let that part of himself go, dispelled it from his mind in quick order, and heard the thundering of his heartbeat in the dead silence begin to quiet until it dropped back down into a steady beat. A tool that worked like any other. No panic. No fear. There was nothing to it. Whatever this was, whoever had put him in this room, he’d find them and handle it. All he had to do was wait for the poison to be burned from his system.
There was another person in the room with him, and Kaien had yet to decide if it was a good or bad thing. If only he could [i move], he’d crawl over, kick them, jostle a reaction out of them. Were they in the same situation he was? Were they his captor? Was this a setup for a snuff film?
He could hear bits and pieces of various conversations, strung together by the silence that’d made its home in this room. Nothing coherent, no words he could make out, but there were people all around him. Not in the room, but out, in all directions. If it [i was] a snuff film setup, it had to be a pretty big production.
[i This was a waste of time.] First, he had to figure out who else was in here with him. So far, no one appeared to be approaching this room, but that was liable to change in an instant. He listened in, looking to prove his own point. Three seconds passed. Nothing. No steps, no rattling, no movement, just distant, disjointed conversation.
It had to be at least fifteen minutes before he began feeling his throat. How hadn’t he suffocated? How hadn’t his heart stopped? Sure, it’d been difficult to breathe, but that wasn’t how muscle paralysis worked. Not the way he understood it. This was a special type of drug. It couldn’t be anything medicinal, or he would be dead. Maybe it wasn’t even a drug at all.
But he’d think about that later.
He had to go with something inconspicuous, so that even if it [i was] his would-be torturer and eventual killer, they’d be inclined to respond, if only to shut him up. With an inhale, he spoke.
/ 1y 128d 11h 3m 31s
His eyes hesitated on the woman working over Kaien. She knew what she was doing. But why? Kaien didn't look like a prize. He wasn't the kind of man an enterprising young woman like her would waste her time on.
A gentle tap on his arm drew his attention back to his own oddly interested lady of the night. "So what are you doing here tonight?" she asked. "Looking for a little excitement?" A foot toyed with his. His good one.
Oddly, all his aches had faded away. Just being around her made him feel warm and fuzzy. It was like just being here, with her, was enough to take all the pain away. He shuffled closer, breathing in her perfume. It felt so good being around her.
He glanced at her and grinned a little. Her hair was as long as it was dark. He curled a lock around his finger. So soft. So beautiful. He lifted it to his lips and pressed a kiss to her hair. She giggled gently.
"Your drink?" she asked. She swirled her own cup, ice knocking against the glass.
Her eyes were so beautiful. How had he not noticed until now? Like pools of water he could drown in. He gave her a smile and leaned in close. "You?" he whispered.
[i No.] This wasn't him. He wouldn't do this. What was he saying? He shook his head. The air was thick with her perfume. Sweet and sickly, too thick for him to breathe. But such a lovely scent. He felt so foggy. It was awful.
She met his eyes. Everything faded away. Why was he worried? He was hungry, and here she was. Why hold himself back? It'd been a while since he'd had a lovely lady like her, as well. She smiled back, the smile a little too wide. "Should we go somewhere private?"
Kaien's lady led him towards the door. He glanced back at her and the boy. That... probably wasn't good. Then he frowned at himself. Why was that bad? Kaien was going with a lady of the night, there was nothing wrong with that. Far be it from him to stop Kaien from getting what he needed.
His own lady shifted, grabbing his attention back to her. She was gazing up at him, big eyes pulling him in. "Should we go?" she asked.
He smiled and nodded. Why not? He had nothing better to do with his night. He led the way to the door and held it open for her, then followed her into the night. "Where are we headed?" he asked, taking in the night. The cool air brought back his aches and pains. Instinctively, he moved closer to her.
She giggled and beckoned. He followed. Not far across the road, a seedy hotel awaited. He grinned. Tonight was going well. She waited in the door, smiling back at him. He jogged over to her and stepped inside. Nice and warm. Her perfume filled the air. So sweet. So... incredibly sweet. It was so thick in the lobby of the hotel that he could barely breathe. He fell to his knees. Everything felt numb. He couldn't...
He fell on his face. He could barely see. Barely hear. Lech struggled to stay conscious, pushing the stump of his arm into the floor. Awake. Awake.
"Did you get both of them?" a low voice asked. Lech couldn't make out the response; it was too muffled.
And then it all went black.
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He was cold. The bar was packed, the air made hot and dry by the bodies intermingling, and there he was, practically shivering in his seat. He glanced up, gestured the bartender over and ordered a drink, leaving the choice up to them.
Someone slipped into the seat next to his. He kept his eyes ahead, perusing the liquor collection displayed on a shelf behind the counter.
“--’s fresh meat-- around here?” He turned. A woman, in her early thirties by his estimate, though you could never know in a city like this, her body leaning against the counter, facing him, an easy smile on her face. She appeared to be waiting on something.
He inclined his head in question, and she laughed- laughed as if he was the single most interesting person in this room who’d just said the single most interesting thing, her hand over her mouth.
“Are you new around here?” she asked, resting her chin on her palm.
Kaien considered her question. “Sure,” he said eventually, going back to his previous activity. His body was in pain. He’d let it slip his mind outside, in the cold and on the move, but in here, it had snapped back to the forefront of his mind, occupying his thoughts.
Hatred, languid and thick, wormed its way down to his gut, a can of gasoline on an open fire- hatred for the state he was in, for the situation he’d thoughtlessly put himself in.
A hand came down to rest on his thigh. “You look like you’re in need of a serious wind down.” She smiled at him with that pretty face of hers, her expression confident without coming across as arrogant. She knew what she was doing.
Kaien frowned as a drink was placed in front of him. He didn’t reach for it. He [i was] wound up, she was right, though for different reasons than she was likely assuming. Still, he nodded.
She nodded back, a sage-like gesture- she knew [i exactly] how he was feeling, it conveyed. He believed her. “I know something that’ll do the trick. All you need is a distraction.” She slid forward in her seat so their thighs touched- her bare leg to his. Even through the material of his pants, he could feel the heat radiating off of her. Her smile turned coy.
“Why don’t you let me… help you out?” she suggested, the hand on his thigh slowly inching its way up. Something was out of place. He could tell. Something… wasn’t right, but he didn’t spend long picking at it. At the end of the day, it didn’t matter. So what if something was wrong? When, or more accurately [i if] it became pertinent, he’d consider it.
For now, it was a non-issue. He reached for his drink finally, spared it an offhand glance, brought it up and took a whiff- a glass of white, unaged whiskey, dull and colorless. So, the bartender was a [i comedian], too. He took a sip, set the glass back on the counter and reclined his body against the bar so he could regard the woman properly and only then did he realize how beautiful she actually [i was.]
She’d gone from pretty to gorgeous in the blink of an eye. His eyes, to be specific.
“What’d you have in mind?” he asked, and her smile widened.
Lech spread his hands. Partner-boy sure was picky about what 'benefit' meant tonight, wasn't he? He'd have thought no more close calls with the whole biting-thing and the whole letting-out-his-aggression would've been enough, but apparently not.
When Kaien continued to ignore him, he shut up. Boring. So boring. Maybe he would go home after all.
And what, stare at nothing from his bathtub? Even staggering around was better than that.
On down the streets. Whores called out to men walking by, a gaggle of them laughing in the light of a pink neon sign. Brutes stalked by with places to be. Idiots wandered by without. Which he supposed made the both of them idiots.
A tiny bar with a french name beckoned. Lech raised an eyebrow at that. It was a hell of a hipster name for a dirty little dive bar. He followed the kid in, but lurked against the back wall like they weren't connected. He had plenty of enemies himself. Enemies a kid with a temper and a raging urge to beat it into someone couldn't deal with. Enemies even he couldn't deal with, the way he was right now. They didn't often frequent dive bars, but he never knew. Sometimes they surprised him.
He yawned and settled in against the wall. Not a bad atmosphere here, either. Maybe he'd go back to his old ways. Make the city streets run with blood and fight his sister in the open, no one getting in his way. No worrying about balance or hunters or anything stupid like that; just living the way he wanted to, following his urges, enjoying himself.
It really didn't take long. A woman walked up to Kaien, taking the seat next to him. Her dress was as black as it was tight, and yet somehow still paper thin. He could see her nipples, if he squinted hard enough. She ordered some kind of fancy cocktail and leaned in, fluttering her lashes at the kid. Lech couldn't make out what she said, but he didn't care to. Was that why the kid had wanted to be all alone in this dive bar? Didn't want his partner to see him take off with some random woman? There were worse things in the world. Hell, this wasn't a happening bar, for one.
Someone brushed against Lech's arm. He glanced down and found another woman in a tight, tight dress, her makeup a little too thick. "Oh, um, sorry," she said, pushing her hair back. The little glance up was the work of a consummate professional, on the edge of vulnerable without being needy.
He gave her a thin smile. "It's no problem at all," he said quietly. She shifted a little, scooting closer. One hand tipped the glass in her hand toward him, so he could see how empty it was.
"Should I buy you another?" he offered. She grinned thankfully.
Something was wrong. The woman led the way to the bar, hips swaying. It was almost hypnotic, the way she moved. Hypnotically graceful. He was reminded of a snake, a viper.
A snake...? An alarm bell rang out in his head. Something--something about snakes... He shook his head. Everything that was tonight was making his head foggy. He couldn't, he couldn't... think straight.
The woman pressed up against him, all the soft parts distracting. "What about you? What do you want to drink?" she asked.
Why was it so hard to focus? He glanced at Kaien. The woman was all over him, too. [i That's not right,] he thought. She was way too pretty to be that into a kid like Kaien.
A small hand on his chin turned him back to the girl on his arm. Big, liquid eyes drew him in. "C'mon, let's have a good time," she whispered. He blinked slowly, languidly. Maybe it wasn't so bad, after all. He'd just have a drink.
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“You’re talking like it’s some kinda exchange- there’s no quid pro quo here,” he said. “I don’t get anything,” and if it didn’t benefit him, it didn’t interest him.
When he’s had his [i fill], as if he was a fucking dog. He tuned Lech out.
People passed them by, most of them unconscious of their surroundings, occupied by their insignificant lives, and it would be so easy to insert himself, to ruin their night, their week, their year, but Kaien paid them no mind.
There was a place that would see to his needs- the breed of man that roamed those parts was a strain that didn’t think, let alone think twice. He was known around those parts. He’d be two steps in, and already someone would be swinging, exacting a revenge for something Kaien had dispelled from his mind months, even years ago.
He turned off the main streets.
His nose itched.
Aries reached across his desk, fingers curling around the handle of his ‘#1 boss’ mug and he brought it to his lips, taking a tentative sip of his coffee. Someone had suggested this new blend- something fresh, because the routine had turned bland, it seemed- and it’d put him in a bad mood from the moment he’d entered the tower.
He didn’t like his coffee fucked with, and if this didn’t measure up, a lot of people would have a [i lot] to answer for.
The beverage touched his tongue. [i Hm.] He placed the mug back down at his left within easy reach. “Not bad…” he murmured, glancing up at the sharp knock on his door. He let several seconds pass, then called out a ‘come in’, getting to his feet. He was greeted by the face of the new receptionist- a woman in her thirties with bright neon green hair cut into a makeshift bob reaching to just beneath her ears.
It looked as if she’d used a pair of garden shears.
“There’s a Silas asking to see you, um. Sir?” she posed it as a question and he nodded his appreciation, gesturing. The new hire- the one he’d sent along with those two. He was curious to hear his impressions. Eventually. Somewhere down the line. Not now, however.
“Tell him I’m busy,” he said. He wasn’t, but few rookies had the guts to question his authenticity. “Mac’s in the med ward- send him there.” He skipped the rest. Those two would know to come up.
The receptionist- Trish was her name, that was it- nodded, retreating and closing his door with a soft [i click.]
‘à la porte de la mort’ the place was called - peste for the locals. The Black Death was as its name implied- a bar for the scourges of society. The big, the bad, the rotten, the ones no one would miss if they just so happened to up and disappear one day, and it was exactly what Kaien was looking for.
He was recognized at the entrance. He could see he’d been, if the eyes that followed him to his seat were any indicator. He wasn’t an easy person to forget once you met him- the eyes, the nasty scar, and possibly the most conspicuous- the singular brand-like tattoo.
He slid into one of the bar seats, his back to the audience. The bartender addressed him. He ignored them. He wasn’t planning on staying long. Any minute now. These people didn’t waste time.
/ 1y 129d 22h 46m 19s
Oh, he wasn't invited. He [i wasn't] invited. Lech snorted. "Welcome to my fucking life," he muttered. What a precious little tea party his madman of a partner was going to have, where Lech wasn't good enough to be invited. Ha! Bloodsports were a come-as-you-are sort of event. And Lech had always liked a good fight.
He wasn't dense. He could feel the charge in the air. It just so happened that he loved that feeling, the tension, the hatred fizzling away, firing off at nothing, for no reason. [i Because it reminds you of yourself], a little voice muttered, quietly enough to be easily ignored.
"My face is going to distract you? Is it love?" Lech asked, putting his palms flat at the bottom of his chin and fluttering his lashes like a maiden in love. Well. Palm. It didn't stop him.
He was feeding off the energy like he fed off blood. Drunk off it. It wasn't the same, but it wasn't not the same, either. Rather than filling his stomach, he simply bounced it back magnified, the funhouse mirror that made everything look bigger. This was his element. Being hated was how he'd lived his life until his sister had forced him to turn respectable, and now, now that he was bathing in such pure, unadulterated hatred, he found respect such a thin substitute.
Or maybe it was the acute state of starvation and the pain and the exhaustion that were making him loopy. Either way, Lech was having a good time, suddenly, and he didn't want to give it up.
Lech smirked wide. "Aww, he does care," he said to no one in particular. The kid turned his back to him, but Lech had found a prize, and he was going to tear it to bits. Mockery was more fun when the target was already enraged and ready to bite anything that bled. He followed after Kaien, a remora on a shark. Annoying and undetatchable.
"So, how's about you beat someone up," he started, limping after Kaien at full speed, "and then I tell them to give me their blood, or I'll let you finish the deal. Then it's consensual, right? Precious sister can't complain then."
"Or," he threw out there, "you can beat me up, and when you get your fill, I'll drink your blood." He shrugged to himself. All his plans were going to involve blood right now. He was hungry. And now that he had such lovely hatred on display, motivated to do something about it. Fuck his sister. Not literally, but. She didn't control him. He shouldn't be in pain for no reason. There were loopholes, and he was suddenly hell-bent on exploiting them. "Right? I'm durable. Not much of an M, but I'll put up with it this once. Works out for everyone."
He followed Kaien along. He didn't really seem to be getting through, which was a damn shame, because it wasn't quite so much fun to provoke when no one was listening. Still, some of what he said had to be getting through, right? It'd be a waste of quite a few good setups if the kid missed them all.
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