til the blood runs red

/ By kaitoXi [+Watch]

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[center [pic http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee397/Sakura-chi/kaien2_zpsviley9fa.png]]

[i It hurt]. His back burned: a searing, [i scalding] pain that spread from his upper back, across the muscle all the way down to the flesh of his right hip. His jacket was probably ruined, too. Shit.

He broke out in a sweat, arms tightening around the receptionist’s body in fear of accidentally dropping her in a moment of enervation. She wasn’t heavy, and he wasn’t tired, but his back was beginning to pulse. Even the tiniest strain on the muscles running the entire length of his spinal column hurt like he was being shoved back into an active flame.

Kaien [i hated] pain.

Objectively, pain was good in a situation like his. Pain kept him in the now, kept him focused , but for Kaien personally? Pain sucked. It sucked [i a lot.] The wound would get infected, which was always an added hassle. It wouldn’t stay infected, of course, because his physiological set-up wouldn’t allow for internal flaws of the body, but it’d be annoying for a few days, and that was exactly that many days too many.

Gunshots had sounded off, once, twice, a total of three times while he’d been on the ground. He hadn’t looked back then, but he heard Lech behind him now, heard his exclamation, which fit in with his itinerary pretty nicely, since ‘run and keep running’ was exactly what he planned on doing. He’d circle around, come back, and take the staircase up to the medward. He had to. Not because this woman’s life held any significance to him. Not because he cared about this person who he’d seen around maybe a couple of times at most, if that. It was plainly just because he’d made too much of an effort at this point, to save this stranger he didn’t think mattered, and knowing he’d wasted his time only to give up hallway went against his very nature.

If he was going to play savior, he’d make it count.

There were sounds of a struggle back in the hall adjacent to his, with the six wolves, but he continued on to make the trip back round, pausing only long enough to check corners for activity. Everything was clear. For now.

He approached the last intersection, peeked out just in time to see… [i well], he wasn’t really sure what he was looking at. A wolf, that much was obvious, but as far as he knew-- not that he prided himself in his knowledge of this particular branch of metamorphosis-- wolves didn’t generally come in black. It was Lech. It could only be Lech, which made [i absolutely no sense] from the standpoint of a person who’d been marginally convinced Lech was a vampire. He didn’t know why Lech was a [i wolf], but he figured they’d cross that bridge if they could get to it.

Kaien advanced, silently, carefully, then remembered they were on a time crunch and hurried over. He observed the change, Lech’s limping saunter. Couldn’t even muster up a response for the physical gesture. Instead, he turned back, stopping into a crouch to pick Lech’s gun off the ground. How many bullets left? Did he have an extra clip? He checked their surroundings, noted the clip several steps away.

What could he say? Would any of it matter? Would Lech understand him? Kaien wanted to think he would, but his partner had taken everything Kaien’d thought he knew about vampires and turned it on its axis. He [i wasn’t] a vampire. Couldn’t be. Certainly not any kind of vampire Kaien had ever seen or heard of, but again, none of that mattered right now.

He considered reaching out, but to do what, he wasn’t sure. Put a hand on his-- head? Shoulder? Neither sounded like a good idea. Tell him it was no big deal? Lech didn’t need comfort, and Kaien didn’t know how to offer it anyway. He slipped the second clip into his pant pocket, moving towards the doorway without a second glance at his partner.

“I’ll be back. Hold them off for two minutes,” he said, and began climbing. Lech would be fine. It'd all be fine.
  cigarette smoke / disir / 1y 142d 17m 45s
Another smell mingled with the reek of wolves. Lech's nose wrinkled. It was familiar, that smell. Wait-- the kid? And a woman. Close. He moved, reached for the door.

It burst open on its own. A wolf leaped through, snarling. On pure instinct, Lech shot. The gun jolted in his hands with the force of the recoil. The wolf whimpered as it slid across the floor, dying body propelled by the force of its own leap. Another wolf followed swiftly after. It tackled Lech to the floor. Teeth closed around his neck. Panic squeezed the trigger, once, twice. He felt the heat of the shot sear across his thigh, felt the wolf's blood pour down like spilled tea. It backed away, and he scrambled up.

Wolves. Wolves everywhere. Four more circled just outside of the door, circling, looking for a way in. Lech gritted his teeth. How long did they have to hold it? How many wolves could he kill?

He peered out the door. "Kid!" he shouted. Where--there! Lying on the floor, a wolf over him, a woman in his arms. He ran out as Kaien scrambled up. The wolf was inches behind him, chasing him down. Ahead, the four wolves facing Lech turned, ready to intercept the boy.

[i Shit!] He wasn't going to make it. Lech bit his lip, raised the gun--then lowered it. If he used that, maybe they could all make it. "Kaien, run! No matter what, keep running!" he barked. He holstered the gun and leaned forward, stretching his spine.

And then his whole body stretched.

Werewolves and vampires were once the same creature, one shapeshifting night horror. The oldest myths to speak of them combined both into one. A pale specter in the night. A wolf outside of town. Time had split them into two species, traits diverging as vampires bred for seductive charm and wolves for sheer brutality, but some older, more primitive subspecies retained both traits.

Lech charged toward Kaien on all fours as hands and feet turned to paws and black fur bulked out his body, teeth shining in a long muzzle. [i Guess that makes me one of the lucky ones,] he thought, and then his teeth closed around another wolf's flank, and he stopped thinking at all. He tore into the other wolves, a pure black bolt of chaos. Surprised by the attack from one of their own, the wolves bolted, disorganized.

Lech chased them away, then circled back. Amber eyes regarded Kaien. The wolf walked up and nudged the boy towards the staircase, nosing at the place where his gun had fallen.

He turned. More wolves. A slight limp in his gait, Lech moved to the door and scented. They were going to make a second attack, soon. Silently, he regarded the boy, then turned toward the direction of the attack. They had to hold out. Defend their home.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 144d 2h 6m 5s
[center [pic http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee397/Sakura-chi/kaien2_zpsviley9fa.png]]

[i Fuck’s sake-]
He stuck to the wall, stifling his breathing, which, he thought as a pair of wolves paused in their mindless roam, was fucking moronic, [i since they could smell him!] He watched them, waited, just [i knowing--]

One of the wolves turned just as he turned the corner, and he picked up the pace, sacrificing stealth for speed. He heard the sound of clacking, nail-against-tile, barely even fifty meters behind him. Fucking wolves! He couldn’t even fight! [i Leave her,] the very loud, very present voice spoke to him-- his self-preservation instincts given form. [i She’s holding you back. If the wolves catch up, throw her.] He ignored the voice, focusing instead on the blueprint image of the building spread out for his mind’s eye’s leisure. The majority of the hallways in the building were intertwined, leading in and out of one another via multiple passages-- it’d been designed and subsequently built with an emergency such as this one in perspective. It was difficult to reach a dead end, but it also opened more opportunities for enemies to surround you.

Not him, though. [i Hopefully.]

He wasn’t winded, not yet, and all he needed to do to reach the staircase was turn one more corner. Just one more corner, and he was at the door. Usually a bad sign. Usually an omen for--

Shit. He could see them. [i Shit.] There had to be at least six, all moving in a semi-unified tandem down the opposite end of the hallway. At the pace the were going, they’d be at the junction in less than two minutes. If he ran, he could make it in fifteen seconds. If [i they] ran, they could make it in ten. Shit. Shit. He had to choose, and he had to choose [i now.]

He chanced a glance behind him, saw the two wolves behind him, approaching [i fast], turned back to the front, saw [i those] wolves looking straight at him, looking almost [i surprised] to see him , and the only thing he could do was laugh. He [i really had to fucking laugh.]

One of the wolves growled, then another, louder, but Kaien was already running-- [i bolting] down the hall, muscles burning in an attempt to reach that fucking junction before the six big dogs with the big claws and big teeth. He reached out, because it was [i there], just another leap and he’d be through the doors- they opened into the room, he was [i sure of it].

Something hit his back, a searing, [i burning] pain springing up as he stumbled, twisted, landing in a sliding sprawl and hitting the door with an audible [i thud.] His head throbbed from the impact. His back was on [i fire]. A single moment felt like minutes. Lech had said something. Something about the staircase… something…

Kaien scrambled to stand up, then gave up and rolled out of the way as a clawed humanoid paw came at him, cutting through air. He struggled to establish his balance with his hands otherwise engaged but managed just [i barely] in time to avoid another slash, and then he was running again, even as he heard a slam against the door, the sound of the stairway entrance busting open. [i They were in.]
  cigarette smoke / disir / 1y 144d 18h 37m 28s
He could hear the wolves' paws clatter on linoleum tile, uncut claws hard enough to rend flesh. The stench of wolf was stronger out here without acrid nicotine to cut it. He found himself longing for the smell of cigarettes. [i At least they don't smell like garbage,] he thought, and smirked.

No wolves yet. He wouldn't stay that lucky for long.

A growl, low, alerted him to the conflict. Lech spun around the corner and found three wolves, working in concert to corral a stray receptionist. She was backed into a corner, clothes ripped and hair astray, tears leaking down her face. One of the wolves tensed, preparing to leap.

Lech snapped the gun up and fired once, twice. The leaping wolf half-lunged, half fell, whining as its attack was turned into defeat. The other two spun on him. "Run!" he told her. He got off another shot--wide, damn silver bullets--and then they were on top of him.

He ducked. The first went over him, not expecting him to anticipate the lunge for his throat. [i Stupid wolves.] Its throat was exposed as it lunged over him. Lech pressed the gun against the underside of its jaw and fired. The shot was an explosion, loud as thunder, nearly deafening him. Heat and gunpowder stained his face. [i Shouldn't fire so close.] The wolf crumpled, not even a whine coming from its throat. Hot red blood poured over his shoulder and down his body.

Hunger surged. [i No.] Not dirty wolf blood, anyways. He wasn't that desperate.

The second one slammed into Lech and the wolf. All three went toppling to the floor, a mess of limbs and paws and flashing teeth. The living wolf snapped at Lech's body, while Lech clawed at the wolf. The dead wolf got in both their ways. They were soaked in blood, but neither of them injured, just scraped and scratched.

"Fucking--" Lech exclaimed, and heaved the dead wolf away. The living one scratched at his body, teeth snapping bare millimeters from his neck. But now his gun was freed. Another blast roared out. The wolf squealed, injured but not downed. He kicked it away from him and scrambled up. Injured and scared, it squealed and ran rather than trying to stand and fight. Blood streaked behind it, as red as rubies, as hot as fire.

With some effort, Lech tore his eyes away. He was panting hard, his heart racing, his chest heaving. How many bullets? How many left? Breathless, he checked the gun. Not enough. He had another clip in his pocket, and then he was done. And how many wolves had they sent?

It didn't matter. He had to do this.

There were no wolves in the stairway yet. He shut the door and leaned against the wall to catch his breath. They'd be here soon, though. Any moment now.

Maybe he should've waited. Kid had a good point. It wasn't like him to be heroic, anyhow. Wasn't like him to put himself out there like this. [i What's the point, even? You'll always be the bad apple,] a little voice whispered in the back of his head.

Wolves. On their way. He smelled them before he saw them. Before he heard them, after two gunshots inches from his ears. Lech pushed off the wall and moved to the side of the door, waiting. The next creature that stepped inside was going to get a bullet through the back of their brain.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 144d 19h 32m 15s
[center [pic http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee397/Sakura-chi/kaien2_zpsviley9fa.png]]

Kaien let Lech go. He had no choice. Not really. He hung back, listening to the lockdown alarm whir throughout the building. By now, anyone within a three hundred meter radius of the building would’ve cleared out, courtesy of the hq’s auditory defense system. It’d been manufactured and set up like this purposely.

His heartbeat picked up, set off by the continuous ringing.

He stood still, eyes slipping shut, hands clenched into fists at his sides. Bad. Adrenaline was [i bad.] He had to calm down. He’d be no help to anyone like this. He took a deep breath, held it for one, two, three- and released, focusing on the speed of his breathing and tuning the alarm out.

He’d have to explain it to Lech somewhere down the line, he thought, eyes snapping back open as his blood steadied. If this partnership of theirs had any shot at legitimacy, he’d have to know-- be made aware of the catch, at least. Or, alternatively, if this two-man team was destined to fail before it even really began, he’d prefer to know sooner rather than later.

Then again, all of that was betting on the improbability of failure in their current situation, and if Kaien had to be honest with himself, it wasn’t a very good situation. It was a disorganized attack, yes, but these were wolves, fully transformed, in very, very, [i very] large numbers, and neither of those included the appearance of a full-moon.

All in all, it was a shit predicament to be in, not to mention alone.

He gripped the doorway on on his way out, choosing to check back on the front desk. With any luck, maybe-- and that was a hard [i maybe]-- the receptionist was still alive, and if not, he’d figure it out when he got there. He moved down the hall hurriedly, ungloved hand tracing the length of the wall, the other gripping the handle one of the three combat knives he kept hidden on his person. He knew Aries, and most of the others, would prioritize the lives of the building’s civilians and securing the inmates before dealing with the threat, which was why, when he rounded a corner to come face to face with a straggler, he did so prepared, and the wolf dropped to the ground before he even got the idea to lunge. Not dead, but incapacitated, long enough for Kaien to do what he needed to without interruptions.

The front desk was practically disassembled, but he approached all the same, ducking behind the counter to check on the body. He pressed a bare thumb to her carotid. She was alive, however barely, which meant he had to get to the med-bay, ideally in the next ten minutes. The elevators wouldn’t work, not during a lockdown, so that only left…

[i The staircase.] Right. Of course.

He hooked one arm under the woman’s legs, using the other to keep her head steady and stood, glancing at his surroundings one last time before doubling back.

Staircase it was.
  cigarette smoke / disir / 1y 144d 20h 46m 31s
Could he? Did it matter? Lech pulled his gun from its holster instead, checked the bullets [i ] and slid them back into place with a satisfying click. "Ankle's not gonna get in the way of shooting a gun," he said brusquely.

From the front entrance? He'd suspected as much, from the way the sounds were echoing. At the very least, his ears were still that keen. The whole place was rapidly taking on the scent of wet dog, the familiar but unpleasant musk of impending werewolf. Within moments, it was overwhelming to him. Lech wrinkled his nose. Sometimes, he wished the heightened senses had gone with the most of his powers.

He studiously adjusted his shirt while the boy was talking, pulling the cuffs into place over his elbows to make the rolled sleeves look prim, carefully adjusting the collar so the worst of the wrinkles vanished. "Let them overrun the building and attack from behind? That's quite the plan," he commented. It meant sacrificing lives. There were plenty of hunters in the building, but plenty of civilians, too. At this hour, there'd be fewer, but there'd still be the nursing staff, some late-working record-keepers, maybe a few other pencil-pushers. He didn't owe any of them any favors, but he'd been hired to protect this place, contrary to his being though it was.

Besides, letting a few upstart wolves run rampant just wasn't his style.

"You can stay here if you want, wait for your chance. It's a good plan. I agree with it, honestly, from the bottom of my heart. But..." he sighed deeply. "Aries will whoop my ass if he knows I sat out the first wave."

The alarm blared to life overhead, yellow light flashing as an obnoxious noise sounded. In the distance, he heard metal grates rattle from the ceiling and crash into place. The lockdown alarm. Lech flinched. Damn human ears. Were they really so deaf they needed it this loud?

"There's a weak point in the staircase not far from here," he continued, ignoring the alarm as best he could. "The grate hasn't worked right for years, but Aries is too cheap to replace the damn thing. If the wolves find their two brain cells, they'll find that weak point and tear the gate apart, and then we'll have a real problem." He nodded towards Kaien. "Unless we get there first and block it off. Or, well. I will. You can wait, if you'd rather." He grinned savagely, showing a hint of fang. "You're a little easier to kill."

With that, he took off for the staircase as fast as he could hobble.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 148d 8h 6m 5s
[center [pic http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee397/Sakura-chi/kaien2_zpsviley9fa.png]]

He didn’t know. He, in fact-- when it came down to the cold, hard facts-- knew tremendously [i little.] He couldn’t understand an ability he never used.

“I can’t create something out of nothing, or make something into nothing. I can only work with something that exists.” Those were the two actualities, and even without them, the catch was difficult to work around.

‘[i And... the catch?]’

[i Right,] Kaien thought with no small amount of dislike. [i The catch--] the shit-cherry on top of the (proverbial) cake that was his day-to-day.

He opened his mouth, intent on ending their conversation there when the sound of glass shattering reached the room, followed by a somewhat familiar scream. They were on the ground floor, which meant… the left corridor? They couldn’t have-- [i wouldn’t have].
Another crash. Closer this time.

[i The front entrance, really]?

“Can you fight on that leg?” he asked, yanking a glove off and touching down onto the ground with the tips of his index and middle fingers. This much, he could do. The intake and process of information was safe; that was actuality number three. He frowned as he stood back up, putting the glove away. “They’re rushing in from the entrance,” he said, approaching the doors. Mick couldn’t be behind this, could he? It was too disorganized. Kaien had only really met Silver Mick a handful of times, but he’d heard enough stories from Aries to safely assume the possibility of Mick not being involved.

Which was both good and bad, because of course it was, and because things were never [i just] simple like they were oft [i supposed] to be.

The scream had been loud, likely intentionally. Whoever Aries had assigned to mind the front desk knew how to draw attention quickly and effectively. Kaien didn’t doubt the other hunters were already on the move. He also didn’t doubt that the receptionist was dead. One, two, or even a few wolves? Manageable. [i Dozens,] however? Slim chances.

“If we leave now, they’ll overwhelm us. Their numbers are, uh. Considerable. If we wait until they move further in, we can leave the brunt of the attack to the others; start from the back.” He glanced at Lech, waiting for his opinion.
  cigarette smoke / ghoul / 1y 148d 18h 58m 48s
He tipped his head. Maybe. Maybe not. On one hand, he wanted to know what his partner was hiding, now that they'd decided, apparently, to stick together. On the other hand, everyone had their secrets. More to the point, crawling to Aries wasn't a task he undertook lightly. He didn't go crawling to [i anyone.] That much of his pride, he refused to let go.

"Can you rearrange? Create new?" Lech asked. What a curious power. If he had information on how something was shaped, surely he could do more than just break it. Or perhaps not. He didn't pretend to be an expert on adepts' powers. Still, this sounded insanely valuable. Breaking into anything would be a breeze. Disarming bombs, destroying evidence... everything was in the kid's hands. The things he could do with the kid's powers... the things he [i would] do. [i Does it work on living things?] he almost asked, but stopped himself at the last second. That was, perhaps, not the best thing for a newly-revealed monster to ask a human. He nodded at Kaien. "And... the catch?"

Lech let out a dry laugh. The way the kid phrased that... "If you count my 'better half' descending in a blaze of holy judgemental glory as 'something going wrong,' then sure, kid, sure." There was no guarantee she'd hear about it the first time, or the second, or the third. But she would hear, eventually. And when she did, she would destroy him, and possibly half the city as well.

That was why Aries was so worried about his eating habits. Not because he cared about Lech, but because he was scared of Lech's sister. No one wanted the Church poking its nose in the mess that was this city, least of all with its favorite secret pet vampire. With his strength so dramatically diminished, there was a good chance she'd be able to limit the fight to a single city block, but it was still more devastation than the city needed.

Glass shattered from the direction of the front desk. Lech glanced up sharply. [i Was that--?] As he thought it, someone screamed. He sighed deeply. "Looks like we're going to make a night of it after all," he commented, rolling up his sleeves and pushing off the wall. A slight wince crossed his face as his bad ankle took his weight again. "C'mon, let's go fight some wolves." After all this talking, it was time for some action.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 148d 20h 10m 50s
[center [pic http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee397/Sakura-chi/kaien2_zpsviley9fa.png]]

He shook his head. “It’s a...” He didn’t want to say. He couldn’t explain his ability without also explaining the price he had to pay to use it, and once he reached [i that] point in the conversation, people generally became a lot less understanding, and a [i lot] more apprehensive, if not borderline hostile.

It wasn’t in the records, at his persistent request. As far as his personal file was concerned, he was a human with no outstanding information to speak of.

“If I choose not to say, will you ask Aries?” Aries would tell him, but he’d omit just enough details to assure Lech got the wrong idea about the crucial bits, and then Kaien’d end up having to explain everything either way, just in [i way] more detail to sweep up the crumbs of Aries’ misdirection. It was his favorite indirect manipulation tactic, and it worked nearly every time.

Thing was, for reasons he could pinpoint, but wouldn’t , if Lech was going to find out, then Kaien prefered it be from the source.

He gestured with a brief flick of his wrist, dismissing the question before Lech could decide if he wanted to respond.

“If you ask Aries, he’ll tell you it’s ‘manipulation of matter’, but it’s not.” Not really. “It’s difficult to explain. It’s one thing, technically, but it’s not.” He was speaking in riddles, but each time he’d attempted to illustrate how he perceived his ability , the description changed. “I touch something-- something solid, receive information about that something-- like a blueprint, kinda?”
He thought about it for a moment, choosing his words carefully.
“Once I have that, I can rip-- or, [i pull], I guess, is the better word-- it apart. It’s finding where everything connects, and deciding how to disconnect it. I can’t put things back together,” not that he’d ever even tried, “and I can’t make things disappear, so ‘manipulation’ isn’t the word I’d use.”

He took a calming breath. Okay. That wasn’t the worst explanation he could’ve given. Not the [i best], either, not by a long shot, but he wasn’t a poet.
His turn. He hoped Lech wouldn't ask any follow-up questions.
“When you say ‘willing donors’-- do you mean something goes wrong if they’re unwilling?”
  cigarette smoke / ghoul / 1y 148d 20h 55m 9s
It didn't pass his notice, the way the boy tensed his shoulders and crossed his arms. Lech didn't give it too much thought, though. Many people hated vampires. He'd even allow that most of them had a worthy reason to do so. Plenty of murders, rapes, and various other offenses amongst his kind. The fact that the had to prey on humans to live got him no points either. [i Honestly, I should be glad at the reaction,] he thought to himself. On guard was the appropriate response to being told one's partner was a vampire.

He personally disliked the term. Vampire. It was inaccurate, for him. But he knew most people who hated vampires didn't bother drawing the lines at subspecies, so he let it slide. And he'd certainly done enough to earn that hate, not that the kid knew it.

"Hm," he allowed, with a minute a tip of his head. The bad apple. The black mark. The unholy monstrosity. However they wanted to put it.

Trust. He could understand that. Plenty of backstabbings in his years, before he'd given up on partners entirely. Not that he'd ever been surprised. Who would be? Kill the vampire, it was the natural reaction of any mercenary. One slip-up, a flash of his fangs, one backstabbing, and then a long bedrest while Aries convinced his ex-partner that it was really not in their best interest to pursue that particular undead.

There'd been a time where Aries was convinced he was slipping up on purpose to kick partners off his team faster. He smirked at the memory. He wasn't all wrong...

He raised his eyebrows. Now he understood. No wonder he'd gone out of control. Adepts we considered delicacies in the blood-drinking, human-eating circles. Rare, powerful humans, supposedly eating one could bolster one's own power. Him injured, and one on hand... even if he hadn't known, no wonder his instincts had been clamoring at the gates of his rationality.

"I think I do," he muttered to himself. This was another test, wasn't it? Aries knew he wasn't eating, because fuck if he was going to beg a mere human to drink their blood. So what did he do, but pair him off with a delicacy with a do-not-eat label attached? Ha, that'd show silly old him. Surely he'd see how dangerous it was. Surely he'd come to his senses and start eating like a rational little vampire, go bung off the addicts and freaks like the rest of the "conscientious" blood-drinkers.

Conscientious. Another thing he'd never be accused of being.

"That'd impressive, though, kid. An adept! Talk about one in a million." He shook his head. Damn. Aries really had it out for him, didn't he?

"So what's your power? It's better off with a partner, no?" Lech asked casually. Or was that too much?
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 149d 43m 45s
[center [pic http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee397/Sakura-chi/kaien2_zpsviley9fa.png]]

[i Vampire.]

He was a vampire.

He re-crossed his arms across his chest, fingers digging into the meat of his biceps. It made sense, then, that Aries hadn’t told him anything. He never would’ve agreed, otherwise. In fact, it made [i perfect] sense , that in the midst of an [i ocean] of people, some with a whole [i slew] of traumas, hesitancies, phobias, Aries would choose to focus on his measly three.

[i Three.] It was a respectable number. A [i good] number. He could live a perfectly reasonable life with three. He could work and make money, he could see people and make connections, he could travel, see other places, [i exciting] places etcetera, etcetera, so on and so forth. Three was moderate. He would even go as far as to call it commonsensical.

But Aries was a therapist who couldn’t be restrained by trite things such as common sense and not having a professional license, and so, when he thought about it, [i really] considered it, rationally and with a levelheaded mind, he decided that he probably should’ve seen it coming. [i Of course] his partner, the partner who he would need to trust, who he would need to count on to have his back, to keep him focused and on track, would be a vampire.

“So you’re the bad apple.” All in all? He could see the wisdom behind Aries’ choice to omit this piece of information. He wasn’t on the road to panicsville, which was good. He wasn’t reconsidering their tentative partnership any more than he would any other association with someone, undead or otherwise. He wasn’t running, and correspondingly, he wasn’t attacking…

He chose then to answer Lech’s question.

“It’s about trust,” he said, then amended quickly, “Or the idea of it, I guess. If it’s an enemy, or one of the people here, or, hell, even my downstairs neighbor or my landlady, it doesn’t really matter. Those people don’t matter. But a partner does,” he explained. “The most important person to me is… well, me, and I’m counting on this person to watch my back. There’s some things I need to know before I can do that.” Which brought him to his next point. Sort of.

“I’m an adept,” he continued after the briefest of pauses, wanting to put everything out there now that they were on this ‘genuine heart-to-heart’ roll. He was giving Lech the benefit of the doubt. Or in his case, the benefit of… provisionary trust. “It means I’m a human in the same way… a banana’s a human. We share a lot of similarities, but the few similarities we don’t share are pretty substantial, to the point where we’re not really at all similar. We’re human, but better in every single way you can imagine, and we get a convenient ability, to boot.”

That was the introductory part of it, anyway.

“Now, with adepts, or ability users, or however you wanna call them, there’s a catch. You can’t get that sort of power without a catch, and the catch depends on the ability. The stronger the ability, the bigger the catch. An ability’s forever, and it only comes around once--one ability, unique to one person-- so the catch’s different for every single adept. Mine’s the reason I’m better off with a partner.” In theory, at least.

“So, I don’t know why Aries chose [i you] specifically, but…” [i Yeah.]
  ghoul / 1y 149d 1h 40m 43s
His eyes narrowed slightly. [i Smartass.] It was as good as he'd been giving, though, so he couldn't complain. Besides, he preferred a bit of sass to mindless deferention. Better to have a partner with a mind of their own than a dog at his heels. He could buy a dog, after all.

The answers weren't as satisfactory as he'd hoped. So the kid didn't like partners either, and he was the next in a long line of failures. No surprise there. He'd rather have some information on where the kid was coming from, what his history was, why Aries had decided to put them together... but maybe Kaien didn't know either. [i Guess it's time for a little trip to the record room.] Kaien had worked here for a while. He'd have a file. And maybe there'd be a tasty tidbit or two tucked away in there.

He considered. The kid had told the truth, but he hadn't said anything useful. [i Is it my fault for asking the wrong questions? Or is he being close-lipped?]

"You know," he said at last, "as much as it would help you to know what I am, it would help me to understand [i why], not just [i what.]" He tipped his head at Kaien. "Is it merely the surprise of your partner being inhuman? That sounds like a terrible liability. It's not as if you can ask your enemy to declare their race as soon as they see you."

Though if that was the case, he could see why Aries teamed them up. In terms of knowledge of who and what was in the city, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone better than him who was also combat-ready.

He sighed. He had promised to answer a question, though, and here they were. "In crudest terms, I'm a vampire," he said with a sigh. "Denizen of the night, dark lord of the undead, and what have you." He gave a sarcastic, theatric bow. "More specifically, a kudlak."

It was a long story. He wasn't sure how much to tell, but figured he should at least explain the basics. "In my country, there is a story. If you are born with a cowl over your head, you are a vampire. Worse if you're red-headed... but I digress. Vampires are always born in pairs. Twins. One dark, one light. Evil and good. The kudlak and the kresnik."

"Kresnik roughly translates to cross-man. That one is taken in by the church. They use it to keep their village safe from the dark creatures and enemies. Who wouldn't want a pet vampire?" He shrugged. "The kudlak is tossed out. No one wants the bad apple."

"And so they become enemies and spend the nights in noble battle, the kresnik a blaze of white and the kudlak a dark blot. And usually they spend their lives protecting a tiny little town in the middle of the tundra."

That was the most of it. The generic stuff the kid could've looked up online, if he really wanted to. The rest of it was for later. When it came up. If it came up.

He sighed out. "Aries knows. He's watching me. Due to... circumstances, I'm only allowed to drink from... willing donors. You have nothing to worry about."

Unless he lost control. Again. It wasn't a real threat. He didn't exactly get bit by werewolves every day.

A bit tired, he turned toward the kid. What did he think of all this? He'd said he was fine with it, but there was one thing to be fine without knowing, and another to be fine after knowing it.
  kaitoXi / 1y 149d 3h 59m 34s
[center [pic http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee397/Sakura-chi/kaien2_zpsviley9fa.png]]

Kaien didn’t practice truthfulness as a rule. He’d been brought up to lie, to cheat, to steal, and then to disappear before the prior three ever came to light. It was smarter, and it was safer. Lech would know that. Rather, everyone who’d lived to see past the age of thirteen around here would’ve learned as much, and at the end of the day, honesty wasn’t profitable in [i any] sense of the word.

Still, he nodded.
A deal was a deal.

“First one,” he began, then paused. How much would he tell him? How much was enough? He tugged at his glove absently, stare anchored to the worn leather, contemplating the best approach. “I don’t know why Aries chose you,” he said. “I didn’t know it’d be you either.” He glanced up at him. “You keep calling me a rookie.” Or other variations of the same. “What’s the bar here? Fifty, sixty years of experience? A couple hundred? Should I be using ‘sir’, or would you prefer ‘mister’?” He was being a smartass. [i Focus.]

“Anyway,” he resumed, moving on to the other glove, pulling at the material as he spoke. “Why [i you] specifically? I don’t know. I’ve worked with old wiseass men before, with varying,” but similar, “degrees of failure, so I wasn’t expecting you. I’d heard you were good, and I’d heard the hundred-some rumours around hq, but nothing from Aries. I was hoping he was giving me another chance at a solo job, so you can imagine my surprise when he introduced me to you.” He gestured.
“In any case, beats me. He thought we’d make good partners.” For reasons Kaien had yet to figure out. He was working on it, however. “Or maybe I’m just a test run for your bright, bright future. Or maybe you’re mine. It’s Aries. He’s like that.”

It was as honest an answer as Lech was going to get for Kaien’s standards. And as for the [i second] question…

“I told you before. I reacted like that because I didn’t expect it. It won’t happen again.” But that wasn’t an answer, was it? Not the kind of answer Lech was looking for. He sighed. “Apparently, for [i whatever reason], Aries forgot to tell me you weren’t just a regular human. It must’ve slipped his mind. If I’d known, I wouldn’t have panicked.” He still remembered the nausea, the shaking, his vision slipping in and out, the incessant ringing in his ear.

An old wound. An old fear.

“I’m fine now, aren’t I? It’s circumstantial. I like knowing what I’m working with, if it directly involves me. I don’t care about working with humans or not, as long as I [i know] it’s the ‘not’ part.” Speaking of the ‘not’ part…
“Your turn.”
  cigarette smoke / ghoul / 1y 149d 5h 20m 17s
He felt the kid's eyes on him and smirked. Oh, he was good, alright. The best there was. Was Kaien getting worried about his partner? How cute. "Just a little in-joke," he appeased the boy. Nothing Kaien needed to worry about.

[i Deal.] Lech's smirk widened, something else behind it now. Oh, if she was here, the things she would do... but it was too late. The die had been cast. He had a question, and in return, the boy had one of him.

He nodded. He knew what Kaien was going to ask. If he hadn't been prepared to answer it, he wouldn't have proposed the trade.

No, that wasn't right. If he hadn't known what the boy would ask, he wouldn't have proposed the trade. He was a cheat, as ever. A coward and a liar, who would only tell the truth when backed into a corner. Better if it was a corner of his choosing and a room of his making.

"Then," he said, "I'll give you two questions. You can choose to answer either one, or both. How you answer them will determine how I answer mine." If the boy was catty and ommissive, then Lech would return to playing the game like the expert he was. If the boy was open and honest, then he would receive the same. It was why he'd prompted the boy into answering first; because he was a coward, and because he didn't trust the boy to give fair trade if he already held Lech's secret in his hand.

[i Humans.] Always going on about how they couldn't trust anything but other humans, but deceiving worse than the worst demon at every turn. It made him wish for the old days. But that him was dead.

"What is your deal? Why are you my partner? What possessed Aries to put such a greenhorn rookie into the hands of an old man like me?" He paused, then gave Kaien a look before he could get sassy. "That is the first question. The second: why did you panic on the rooftop, if you're so hard to spook?"

He leaned back, watching Kaien's face. Even the way he reacted to the questions could give something of his answer away. The questions were fair, besides. Both of them seemed vital information for continuing the partnership; the first, so he understood what games Aries was playing. The second, so that he knew where to push and where he'd have to know to protect. Everyone had a weakness. It was better if he fully understood his partner's so he could compensate for it, rather than have to play guessing games.

But then again, if Kaien just so happened to die in a panic, no more partner for him. If the boy wanted to be tight-lipped, it became his problem, not Lech's, and he would write that in bold when he submitted the post-mortem paperwork to Aries.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 149d 7h 23m 29s
[center [pic http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee397/Sakura-chi/kaien2_zpsviley9fa.png]]

“That’s what I’ve been led to believe,” he replied, appraising Lech’s reaction. Being brought up in the sort of environment he’d been, one realized [i very] early on that they weren’t going to get far unless they got good at reading people. Lech was good, that posed no argument, but Kaien could tell there was something there, if the Lech’s reaction was anything to go off of. And it was. Now, [i what,] he wasn’t sure.

“Aries would’ve told you.” Or should’ve. Probably. “You’d need a lot more to scare me off.” It came with being what he was. Not easy to scare, not easy to anger, not easy to entice all-around. [i In most cases, at least.] He had to hand it to Lech, in that regard. Not even a week into their tentative partnership, and he’d already managed to locate one of maybe… three buttons.

Kaien looked up, meeting Lech’s eyes across the stretch of moonlight spilling into the room. Were they exchanging secrets now? He had to admit, it had appeal. There were things he wanted to know about Lech, that was a given, but what surprised him was the revelation that Lech apparently wanted to know about [i him,] too. He was used to being interrogated and not giving an inch, but trading a truth for a truth? A little [i quid pro quo]? [i That,] he could get on board with.

Besides, he was fairly sure this was a one-time offer, and that made it [i interesting.] Made it [i matter.]

“Deal,” he said after a brief pause, confirming it with a nod. “You already know what I’m gonna ask.” The same thing he’d asked him several times that day. The same question Lech had succeeded in dodging [i every] single time, to Kaien’s rising fascination. As far as enquiries went, it was a relatively standard one. “You can count all the follow-up questions I asked as sub-questions, since it all comes back to one thing.” A name. A noun. If this partnership had potential, he had to know. If what’d happened today happened again, he had to know how to handle it. He prided himself in his resourcefulness, and when it came down to it, he simply couldn’t afford himself the gift of willful ignorance.

“Go ahead and ask your question.” He learned back against the wall, arms crossing, wondering what Lech could [i possibly] want to know about an open book such as Kaien. Honesty? He could do that.
  ghoul / 1y 149d 13h 49m 26s

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