til the blood runs red

/ By kaitoXi [+Watch]

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A pregnant pause. He watched the cigarette twirl over the boy's fingers. Warm flesh, moving deftly. Pink, soft fingers. Pounding with life. White death, flickering over them. He was mesmerized for a moment. Caught up in the motion.

His attention was diverted when the boy spoke, though. A lie? Lech's eyes flicked over ruby lips as they formed words. Hesitated on his throat, the slightest change in his pulse, the small brush of sweat at his temples. A small sigh escaped his lips, barely audible. Despite himself, he was disappointed. Here he'd thought they were going to trade truths, only to be handed a lie. This was why he never bothered.

Lech snorted. One mistake. It was nice to know it was the same for everyone. Or at least the same for him and the kid. [i What would've put him under such stringent conditions?] Had the kid fucked up somehow? It made him more curious. [i Wonder if there's anything in his records.] He could go take a peek, if he wanted. Probably scare the poor records-keepers out of their glasses if he showed up on their floor.

"So I'm 'someone good,'" he said, a bit of a laugh turning his voice gruff. That was a new one. He'd never been accused of being good before.

The kid was a smart one. Picked up on that, had he? Lech made a vague gesture, noncommittal. "There was a little while where they thought they'd force me into a partner," he started, but then the boy kept going.

"And you're so easy to get along with yourself," he countered wryly. "Thought you'd run screaming after that, but here you are."

Had to give that much to the kid; he was a hard one to spook. Lech sighed again, louder this time. From the corner of his eye, he looked at the boy. "How about a trade? A truth for a truth," he said. "I'll ask one question, and you answer it truthfully. And then I'll do the same for you. Whatever you want to know." He spread his hands to Kaien. This kind of deal didn't come every day. It wasn't likely to come back again. Even he didn't know why he was offering. Maybe he felt guilty about the girl after all. It couldn't be that he cared about the kid. He didn't, after all. This was just a way to pass his time.

Pass his time and stay alert. They'd appeased Silver Mick, but it didn't mean they'd appeased his boys. Someone might get it in their head to attack the headquarters in the end, regardless. He hoped no one was dumb enough for that. Lech winced as he recalled his aching ankle and shifted his weight. It still felt sick and poisoned, gross and thick, swollen with bad blood. He didn't want to have to fight on it, too.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 149d 22h 31m 39s
[center [pic http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee397/Sakura-chi/kaien2_zpsviley9fa.png]]

So she was dead. [i They’ll take care of their own], he said, an air of finality in his words, and that was that.

He nodded, curt, a hand of information like any other. “So that means the wolves don’t have a [i legitimate] reason to overrun this place,” he said, but that was giving Silver Mick and his boys a [i lot] of undue credit, because [i legitimacy] as it was-- pre packaged into a tiny container of predetermined size, with a slim, neat little tie of preset grey-- was a blurred line in even [i their] line of work, let alone Mick’s.

She was gone, dead , but he wasn’t comforted.

He was content to just sort of stand around in that dark, musty room for a minute or two, but Lech was proving to be a paragon of engaging small talk.

“My deal?” His [i deal], huh. He pulled out another smoke, stepped out of the moonlit area of the room, then reconsidered the cigarette, twirling it around between his fingers for several moments before tucking it away. Out of the pack, on-hand, but away. He was trying to cut back, he reminded himself, at least until he made that month’s rent.

“Don’t really have one,” he lied easily . “I do my best work in a team, is all.” [i That] wasn’t a lie. “I tried the solo thing for a while, and it was good for a while, but with a man like Aries, all it really takes is one mistake, right?” He glanced up at the door, half a beat, just to make sure the man wasn’t about to bust in and pull his arms out their sockets for that slip of tongue. “After that, it was just about finding someone good. I wasn’t the easiest person to work with, then-- you mentioned ‘years’,” and he was back-- the [i master] of misdirection and seamless segues. “Does that mean you used to work with someone?”

Asking him if his partner(s?) was dead, too’d be overkill, right?

“I can’t imagine anyone not liking your company, sunny disposition and all, so it can’t be that. Did you try biting their neck off, too?”

Ah. Yep. That’ll do it.

// hes a cunt! i'm sorry LMAOOOSKSJK
  ghoul / 1y 150d 56m 28s
Awkward pause. Long silence. Lech scuffed his feet, adjusted the cigarette, rubbed his nose. Anything to avoid looking at the kid. He barely tasted the cigarette. It wasn't nearly as satisfying as he'd expected. Just reminded him of other addictions, ones he missed more acutely.

He leaned back against the wall and waited for the inevitable. One by one, the others filtered out. Then it was only him and Kaien. All alone in the dark.

Bright eyes turned toward him, the kid's innocence shining through even as he asked the questions Lech hadn't wanted him to ask. He scuffed out the cigarette and dropped it in the bin, stalling. Eyes narrowed, he glared at the kid. He should just go for the throat, take the kid out, pretend like none of this had ever happened and move on with his life. He didn't have to explain himself to anyone. Never had, never would.

Again, the sensation of steel driven through his chest, the flash of angry blue eyes. He let out the same slow breath. He wasn't that person anymore. [i Besides, the shit Aries would give me...]

"She's dead. It's done," he said. Honesty. It wasn't like him, but if Aries wasn't going to let him out of this partnership, he might as well try and scare the kid out of it. Maybe he'd back off, once he knew the kind of shit that came with being Lech's partner. Yeah, and that would've happened ages ago if it was going to happen.

"What'd I do? Nothing." It was true, but in the kind of way that fae and demons were true. The kind of thing that'd get him stabbed if she was around. He shook his head. If he was going to come clean, might as well be honest to the core. "You really want to know, kid?"

He paused one more second, then sighed. He was sighing a lot lately. "Took her out back. Mick's men were waiting. They'll take care of their own." There was a chance they wouldn't kill her, but he didn't like to kid himself. Her chances were about as good as a snowball's in hell.

It'd been his choice, but it hadn't, really. The powers that be had aligned, and he was their agent. All he could do was execute what the forces of the world had already decide.

Once, he might have been one of those forces. But he wasn't that person anymore.

Lech turned towards Kaien. "So what's your deal, anyhow?" he asked. If the kid was asking questions, then so was he. Might as well have a damn heart-to-heart as long as they were here. "Aries has gone years without forcing me to take a partner, so what's so special about you?" He tapped the kid on his chest, an eyebrow quirked.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 151d 23h 9m 21s
[center [pic http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee397/Sakura-chi/kaien2_zpsviley9fa.png]]

These cigarettes were shit.

He tapped an index against the body of the cigarette, eyes following the easy descend of ash into tray. It wasn’t even the worst smoke he’d had, so just the fact that he’d [i noticed] the foul taste on his tongue meant he was probably better off doing something… [i anything] else. He hated waiting. He [i hated] waiting.

At times, it seemed as if that was all he was ever doing.

Just as he was about to start a conversation with people who wanted [i no] part in one, the door to the room opened and in walked his partner, to Kaien’s minute surprise. He… well, to be honest, he hadn’t pegged Lech as someone who smoked, let alone smoked in a room with other people who could potentially interact with him. To be [i honest,] he hadn’t pegged him as someone who did much of [i anything] that wasn’t directly associated to mercenary work and getting a job done, but here he was, so the years of fantastical rumours about Lech being this and that had clearly clouded his appraisal-eye.

Their eyes met, and Kaien could tell Lech was just as surprised to see him, his gaze remaining on Lech’s approaching figure even as the other cast his glance elsewhere. [i It hadn’t even been fifteen minutes.]

“Hey,” he said, noting with curiosity the three other occupants’ sudden lull in conversation. It made sense, in hindsight. Lech was a bit of a mystery around here: didn’t really talk to the people here , generally avoided affiliation with the other mercs, never worked with a partner… it made sense.

He pulled the pack back out, handing it, and the lighter, to Lech without a word. The room was quiet now, the silence filled only with the occasional inhale, exhale, repeat. Kaien had questions; of [i course,] he had questions, and now that all they could really [i do] was wait, he was committed. It wouldn’t be a repeat of earlier today, he’d make sure of that.

Still, he waited until the others cleared out. It didn’t take long. Once they finished their cigarettes, they had no excuses to linger, and so when the doors clicked shut a few minutes later, he turned to face Lech. He’d start with something simple; something clean.

“Is the woman dead?” he said, then, without missing a beat. “Does that mean it’s done?” Mick wouldn’t launch an entire operation if the woman was-- would he [i know] the woman was dead? Would words appease him, or would he want… “What’d you do with her?”

// 'proudly hosted on photobucket' yes we can all see that photobucket! thanks for the notice!
  cigarette smoke / ghoul / 1y 151d 23h 42m 26s
His bitten ankle flared with pain as he hobbled through the building. It hadn't hurt for a little while there, and he'd hoped the worst was past, but with the rising moon, it couldn't be yet.

It wasn't his guilt that made it ache. It wasn't the thought of that tiny body, thrown to literal wolves. So young. Barely more than a girl, and already her life was over. No, that wasn't what weighed on his bones, the guilt of another life bargained away. It couldn't be.

Lech didn't often feel old, especially not for someone as old as he was. Tonight, though, tonight he grew weary. Weary of losing. Of failing. Of hunger and guilt and a thousand other things. And so, when his legs drew him to the tiny room where an old vice awaited, he didn't hesitate, but stepped in.

It was as dank, dark, and claustrophobic as he remembered, the three combining to be comforting in an aching, longing sort of way. The acrid scent of nicotine burned the air, thick enough to choke on. [i How did I never notice when I was smoking?] he wondered now. It was a nostalgic scent, even so. Reminded him of years gone by, when every diner, office, and street corner reeked of the stuff.

A huddled group pointedly ignored him in a corner; best case, they knew him as an antisocial ass. In another, a young face pale as the moon tipped towards him, cigarette ember a burning star.

Everything in Lech's body froze at the sight. The last person he'd wanted to see. [i I followed him here,] he thought, then immediately, [i he's not--I didn't--I don't--] But he couldn't finish the thought, because another popped up, chasing it down like cars on a train: [i did I? Do I?]

He became aware of the fact he'd frozen, momentarily, half in and half out of the door. Casually as he could, he smoothed his hair back and stepped inside, shutting the door behind him. He'd been planning on bumming a cig, and now he deeply regretted it. If he'd brought his own, he could at least pretend not to see the kid, go smoke in a corner, be antisocial, and escape in the time it took for the embers to burn to ash. Now... now, he had no option.

"Hey," he said, tossing the kid a casual nod. [i Nothing happened. Don't ask me about the girl. She's fine. I didn't just watch her die.] It occurred to him half a heartbeat later that his cover had been blown. It wasn't possible to exit Mick's territory in the last ten minutes. If the kid didn't already know, he did now.

Another sin. Another mistake. He remembered Kaien's bright eyes that first day, memory vivid as daylight. How long would they last? Had they already dulled?

[i You corrupt everything you touch,] she said, blue eyes brilliant as stars, bright with hate. He breathed out, measuring his breath with the remembered sensation of a length of steel passing through his chest. His sister wasn't right about a lot, but she might be right about that.

A casual gesture. "Mind if I borrow a cig?" he asked quietly. He paused, patted his leg, and when a lighter didn't materialize by magic, added, "and a light?"

[i Don't ask. Don't ask me.]

//OOC: sorry bout dem watermarks, photobucket's being mean. I'll find a new pic soonest~
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 152d 1h 28m 43s
[center [pic http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee397/Sakura-chi/kaien2_zpsviley9fa.png]]

Aries wasn’t a smoker, which meant his [i building] didn’t accommodate smokers, but Aries was a respected and relatively well-liked boss who [i liked] being liked, so he’d sanctioned off an area of the ground floor for the nicotine addicts-- in this case, Kaien.

It was a tiny room, [i definitely] a refurbished storage area, with one tiny window, but it served its purpose well.

There were a few others already in there when Kaien entered but he paid them no mind, and even if he had, he doubted they’d have spared a second glance at him in turn. It was no secret that he wasn’t especially favored around here.

He approached the window and stood just underneath it, digging through his jacket pockets for the crushed pack he vaguely remembered stuffing in there that morning. He pulled it out and examined it-- some bargain off-brand he’d bought the day before at a corner store he never frequented-- then thumbed the top off and tapped one from the row. He placed it between his lips, tucked the pack back into his jacket, then realized he was short a lighter. Now that it was pertinent, he glanced up at the only other occupants of the room, found them with their backs turned to him, and grinned.

It was usually best to play dumb in situations like these.

“‘Scuse me,” he said, and could [i instantly] tell they [i hated] that , and that only goaded him on, so he stepped into their little circle, uninvited. He didn’t recognize any of the three people, but it didn’t especially matter. He tapped the side of his unlit cigarette, his eyes questioning. The woman’s nose wrinkled in distaste, but she procured a lighter and tossed it to him with a muttered ‘keep it’ before decidedly turning away again and pointedly resuming their conversation with no intentions of including him.

Since it was no longer needed he let the smile slip back into mastered indifference, lighting the cigarette as he stepped back under the tilted window, his mind slipping back to the image of the woman convulsing on the ground.

He wondered where Lech’d taken her.
  cigarette smoke / ghoul / 1y 152d 3h 5m 29s
Her body was heavy.

It squirmed in his hands, still changing even though she herself was unconscious. The tranquilizer would wear off soon. Soon she'd be awake and screaming.

It wouldn't be a fair fight. He could see it already in his mind's eye, fur flying, blood splattering the walls, flesh mangled. And in the morning, when the sun rose, there'd be another unsolved murder that would never be solved.

He didn't know if he was rooting for her or not. Whether he wanted her to make it, somehow, flee, put up enough of a fight for the others to run her off instead of kill her. She'd murdered, sure. Hadn't they all. Mick had dozens of worse crimes to his name. Hell, he himself had a laundry list of crimes and sins he didn't care to consider. What she'd done was horrible, but he couldn't condemn it. How could he?

If she hadn't chosen someone from Silver Mick's gang. If she hadn't come to them. If she hadn't been so obvious. If she [i was] someone, if she had influence, if she had power... but she didn't.

They were supposed to be that power, and here he was, delivering her to the wolves.

It wasn't that he cared for her. She was nothing. If it was up to him alone, he would still have put her in a cell, if not a grave. Crimes had to be punished, or ran from, and having chosen the former, she faced her punishment. He mourned this city, and the restrictions of his own lackluster power. He mourned the triumph of power over the weak. That his hand was tipped by outside forces.

The wolves were waiting for him at the back door. Lurking out of sight, but they might as well have stood before him. Their reek was clear as day.

His motions were clear. He put her down at the bottom of the steps. He could hear their laughter. It was silent, but he could hear it all the same. They were bowing their heads to power, and the wolves knew it. But the wolves were bowing their heads all the same, coming here like trained dogs for scraps rather than crashing in the front door, so he straightened up, turned his back, and walked with squared shoulders back into the building. He was not any more ashamed than they should be.

[i Weakling,] the silence whispered. [i You've fallen. You're no one.]

The door shut behind him. He rubbed the back of his neck and sighed out. Damn. He hadn't smoked in years, but he could really use a cigarette.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 311d 1h 13m 38s
[center [pic http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee397/Sakura-chi/kaien2_zpsviley9fa.png]]

For a solid two minutes the call rang, the other line silent, and Kaien was beginning to think he had called too late when he finally, [i finally] heard the call go through and the familiar voice of his former best friend greet him with a terse '[i what].

"Is that how we're talking now? Your new pack give you an ego, [i rififi]?"

"Kaien!" It was still sort of incredible, hearing the notes of his voice flip so noticeably. Kaien grinned. "You changed your number, you asshole. We've been tryina reach you for a full fuckin' [i year]. No one could get in touch with you," a pause, then quieter. "Where'd you go?"

Kaien sighed. He understood Lucas' anger, the only outlet for hurt any of them have ever had, and he was glad he'd abstained from confronting him back at the bar , but this was something even Kaien, with his big fucking mouth, avoided talking about.

Still, this was Lucas, and up until a year ago, they had shared everything .

"Went off on a bender," he admitted, and Lucas' hissing inhale was near-instantaneous.

"Fuck," he said, and paused, before, "How bad?"

"Completely off the radar," he went on to explain. "Didn't let anyone know I'd left — not Aries, not the folks back at the café, and not--"

"Us," Lucas cut in, voice somber. A few beats passed. "We suspected, y'know," he added, and of course, [i of course] Kaien knew. It'd happened before. He'd done this many times before. There was shuffling on the other side, which meant Lucas was on the move. Inside? Outside? He couldn't make out any background noise. Inside, then. "We thought you mighta left a trail, so we went lookin', but there was nothin'. Did you skip town?"

"I skipped a few towns; only came back about six months ago."

"Fuck, [i six]? And you couldn't pull up [i once]?" Lucas wasn't happy.

"I had to clean up my act, get normal again," he said. "I didn't even know I'd turned twenty, Luke. I'd forgotten your [i name]. If we hadn't met today, who knows when I would've remembered? I couldn't — [i can't] let that shit keep happening, and you know we always do the stupidest shit when we're together. It's not just you. I get hit, too."

Lucas was silent for a time, and Kaien was content to let the silence sit. Eventually, however, he spoke up.

"I get it." His voice came out subdued, tight, like hands on a throat, and Kaien could tell he had more he wanted to say. "You had your own shit to take care of, I get that."

A beat passed. "So, listen,"

"Me first," Kaien interrupted. "After I'm done saying what I need to say, you can go ahead." Lucas remained silent, which Kaien took as his go-ahead.

"About what happened today..."

///

By the time Kaien returned, expression grim, Lech was gone.

He strode down the hallway to where Aries sat, lips pulled into a thin, straight line.

"Where's Lech?" he asked, but all Aries had to do was jut his chin in the direction of the cell, and Kaien understood. She'd been taken away. Of course. She couldn't have stayed. Not unless HQ wanted to go head to head with Mick's group — they'd agreed on as much back in the taxi.

He foregone any additional questions, instead taking a seat by Aries on the bench opposite the cell. He'd always thought these things oddly menacing, a true tell to Aries' sadism.

"Lucas is with Silver Mick now," he said as way of introduction.

"The he-wolf? Perpetually stuck to the other one. Pipsqueak."

"Yeah, him," he said, holding back a grin. Serious-time now. "Says Silver Mick's pissed and planning some sorta raid on this place come nightfall, as soon as he rounds his boys up. There's apparently a lot happening over there." He frowned, instead, reminded of the she-wolf no longer in the cell at their front. "Does she have to..."

"He's taking her away; out of Mick's territory," Aries cut him off, stare pointed ahead. Kaien knew that look, even from the side. Aries was the better merc out of the two, but Kaien had always been the better liar.

"Right." There was nothing more to talk about, then. He stood. "I'm going back downstairs. You gonna call Mick? Try to smooth things out?" Aries waved him off without an answer, and Kaien nodded, beginning to retrace his path back to the staircase. He didn't need to be told twice. Now, all that was left was to wait. If wolves tore into the building somewhere down the line, Kaien was pretty sure he'd notice.
  cigarette smoke / ghoul / 1y 310d 14h 15m 26s
He glanced at the kid, then shrugged. He was still fresh, and he'd been through some shit today. It was expected that he'd need his time to process it all. "Be quick," Lech warned him. "And vigilant." Mick could show up at any moment. If they were caught unawares, it could very well be the end of them.

Down at the end of the hallway, Aries had his head bent thoughtfully. He glanced up as Lech approached and gave the other man a nod. "You still look like shit," he greeted him.

Lech rolled his eyes. "What did you learn?" he asked. Had the she-wolf had any information, in the end?

Aries glanced into the room. Lech followed his gaze. The woman was half-conscious, her body barely recognizable, bones twisted, flesh malformed in the worst possible way. She was rolling slowly on the floor, writing silently in pain, eyes rolled back. "Not much we didn't already know," he said, voice a little gruffer than usual. "I promised her tranquilizers in return for whatever she knew. She confessed to the crimes, like you said. A few differences, but..." he waved his hand. "What I got out of her was that someone recommended her to come here, to us. Who, she couldn't remember, no matter how long I let her writhe. Probably nothing. Just a friend."

"But it could be something," Lech said. Someone could've pointed her here in particular, knowing that Mick hated Aries. That he'd been assigned to the situation was just a cherry on top.

Aries shook his head. "You and your paranoia. We're the biggest damn merc group in the city. Everyone gets referred to us."

Lech shrugged. "It's served me well before."

"You and your damn sister." Aries narrowed his eyes. "She's not in town?"

A strange, bitter expression passed over Lech's face, as though he'd heard a joke in the middle of sucking a lemon. He gestured at himself. "I'm alive, no?"

"Arguably." Aries shook his head. "If she's not in town, then I wouldn't consider that a lead. This... it's all just a big, stupid, poorly-thought out coincidence."

"So what are we going to do about it?" Lech asked.

There was a pause. Aries stared at the floor with a glum expression. "We can't afford to fight Mick. This is a wolf dispute. It has nothing to do with us."

"Our PR will take a hit," Lech warned him. They'd get a reputation as contract-breakers, regardless of how convoluted this stupid damned situation was.

"It's that, or we have a full-out war with Mick's gang." In the distance, a wolf howled, and Aries and Lech shared a look. They both knew they couldn't afford that. The city couldn't afford that.

Lech sighed. "I'll take her out back," he said quietly. "Kaius doesn't need to know. Tell him I'm taking her out of Mick's territory."

Aries nodded. "I'll get you your... [i bonus] early," he offered.

"Right. Thanks," Lech said, begrudgingly. He settled down to watch the window, waiting for the tranquilizer to take full effect. He didn't like this. It felt like Mick winning, but there was no other option. Not this time.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 312d 41m 26s
[center [pic http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee397/Sakura-chi/kaien2_zpsviley9fa.png]]

“You go,” he said, pulling his collar back to halfway up his neck. He slipped his gloves back on, tugging at the leather loosely to adjust them into a second skin. “I’ll catch up — I wanna see if I can reach Lucas on his old number before nightfall, check things on his side, see if he’s got any information on his boss’ plans he might wanna share.” In reality, he just didn’t want to go back there, and if he’d known, in the [i first place], that she would’ve looked so much like [i that]...

“If there’s any development, I’ll let you know.” Curt. Professional. He was the [i poster boy] for professionalism, clearly — he’d decided as much just this morning in the warehouse after Lech’s memorable admonishment — and with it came the cool air of indifference he efficiently embraced to promptly walk [i right] the fuck out of that room before Lech could get a word in edgewise.

He strode down the hallway, bypassing the elevator and going straight for the stairs. He was beginning to feel restless, demeanor still on the fritz from his mini crisis back in front of the she-wolf’s cell. Being stuck in an elevator for several minutes [i alone] with [i no distractions] was definitely not on Kaien’s itinerary. Stairs were good. Cardio. They’d get his heart rate up, and all the other good stuff he didn’t care about as much in this moment in time.

Three floors down and he was pausing to pull his phone out, body leaning back against the railing, his back to the death drop of what he would [i always] swear was ‘a hundred fucking floors’. If Kaien was urged to name two things that were common knowledge around HQ, they’d be the surprisingly good instant espressos in the second floor vending machine, and Aries’ surprising taste for the [i ridiculously extravagant]. It would’ve been hard for their organization to remain unnoticed after Aries had taken the liberty to purchase one of the three skyscrapers in the city and slap the organization’s name straight across its front, effectively shutting down [i any] other freelance mercenary organization in a hundred mile radius.

He scrolled through his contacts, counting off names he would have to remind himself to reach out to until he reached his intended, thumb hovering idly over the name.

He pressed call.

/ love interim posts ! lmaoooo
  ghoul / 1y 312d 6h 58m 45s
"Yeah. Thanks," he said, rolling his eyes at Kaien's comment. It looked like shit, huh? Like he couldn't tell.

How was he supposed to do it without making a mess of it? He was about to bark back when Kaien suddenly moved closer. Lech looked away, holding his breath. Shit. Not what he needed.

Bite down? Argh. The kid needed to be more self aware! He didn't want to be told to bite down right now. Lech ripped the bandage out of the boy's hand and bit into it, hard, trying to distract himself more from Kaien's closeness rather than the pain.

And then the boy poured alcohol over his open wounds.

He'd been asking for it, but damn was he not prepared. Lech's whole body tensed, tendons standing out in his neck, the vein on his forehead throbbing. Shit, shit, shit shit! It felt like it was burning right through his leg, like the flesh was going to peel right off the bone. His hands curled around the edge of the bed. The mattress creaked, bending under his grip as it tightened. He managed not to scream, but only just barely.

The pain was more than enough to keep himself from attacking Kaien and the life thrumming under the boy's skin. Every time the boy ripped out another piece of fabric, he had to bite back another scream. The bandages felt like they were getting torn to shreds as he continued to bite down, every muscle tight and harshly defined under his skin.

He laid back on the bed as Kaien wrapped it, exhausted. "Shit," he muttered as the last knot was tied, spitting out the bandages. Healing was not pleasant. If only he could... fucking... no. Argh. So damn frustrating.

At least it was over. He sat up and rubbed his face. Kaien left to go clean his wounds, for which Lech was grateful. Take that damn delicious stench out of his face. And he still had a whole night of fighting ahead of him. He glanced down at his foot. At least the kid had bandaged it up pretty good.

"Thanks," he said reluctantly, short and quick. He stood. It hurt, still, hurt like shit, but at least he could kind of walk on it now. Lech glanced over at the kid. Didn't look like his wounds were too bad. Good. Took his kind forever to heal.

"Should we go check in with Aires?" he suggested. It sounded like the girl had quieted down some, so either she'd passed out from the pain, or she'd given Aires everything she was going to.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 315d 23h 10m 10s
[center [pic http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee397/Sakura-chi/kaien2_zpsviley9fa.png]]

Oh [i wow.] That…

“Looks like shit,” he said, turning back to continue rummaging through the cabinet in search of supplies. He found the dressings easily enough; patches, gauze, wrap bandages, and a bottle of 99% alcohol, all within arm’s reach, muttering a thank you to the absent medical staff for always [i always] keeping the med-bay stocked.

By the time he stood back up again, supplies in hand, Lech was apparently well on his way to making himself pass out. Kaien grimaced at the sight, eyes drifting from Lech’s ankle, to the bloodied scraps of fabric, then back to the ankle and [i was that bone]?

“You’re making a mess of it,” he said, made his way over and took a seat on the staff-intended chair so that his hands, when raised, stood level with Lech’s ankle, giving him easy access to the brunt of the wound. He handed Lech a rolled up wad of wrap bandage, instructing him with a curt ‘bite down’ and reached for the alcohol, beginning to uncap it. “Don’t kick me in the head.” He poured the liquid over one gloved hand, wiggling his fingers to smear it entirely down to the knuckle area. He considered giving Lech a countdown, a good-humored ‘three, two, one’ but thought better of it, instead proceeding to dump the alcohol generously over the entire surface of the mangled skin, sucking in a breath at the burning stench of blood mixed with distilled liquor.

Damn, that had to hurt.

He set the near-empty bottle on the nearest flat surface, torso curling in to examine the effects of the liquid. It’d cleared out a lot of the blood and hopefully softened the cloth enough to be picked out without much hassle. “I’m gonna take your leg in my hand, try to pull out some of this shit… try not to move too much.” He did just that; took Lech’s leg by the calf and tugged it off the bed and into a more manageable position, commencing the deadening process of cleaning out the wound, scrap by scrap.

It took about fifteen minutes to remove everything, and by the time Kaien was finished dumping the last of the pieces of fabric into the little metal container, Lech’s ankle was looking a lot less like a war zone. It still looked like shit, yeah, but, well… small victories, or something like that. It definitely looked like an ankle now.

After that, dressing it was a cinch, and he made quick work of wrapping the joint, tightening the bandages enough to hopefully hold Lech out until the shit-storm had passed and he could afford to have it professionally checked out.

He slid off the seat, plucked the bottle off the table and moved to the opposite corner of the room where he began the tedious act of cleaning out his own wounds, starting with the delicate skin on his neck. Aries, to no one’s surprise , had never learned the meaning of holding back.
  cigarette smoke / ghoul / 1y 315d 23h 47m 9s
He only noticed that the kid had gone stiff when he was suddenly moving again, crying out, at that. The woman had entranced him. The--the damned [i life] in her, and if he only just... slipped inside, no one would mind if she dropped dead...

Deep breath. Deep breath. He pressed his hair back, ruffling it to distract himself. He could do this. It was his first real test. If he couldn't do this, then everything else had been for nothing. "What're we paying them for, if they aren't mopping the floors," he quipped, but his heart wasn't in it.

Slowly, he limped after Kaien and sank down on the bed, taking a break. He didn't notice the pain until it wasn't there anymore, the dull drone that his foot had become suddenly not wearing on his every waking moment. A sigh escaped his lips, and he leaned back against his hands. This was shit. Literal shit.

"Come here, I'll..." his voice trailed off. Yeah, probably shouldn't offer to deal with the kid's wound right now, shallow as it was. "Never mind. Grab me some of those wrap bandages and some batting, and I'll stuff this thing up good."

With some effort, he drew his foot up to the bed. The shoe was history, but the sock was still there, mangled, part of it dug into the wound. Grimacing, he started to pick at it, biting his lip as he yanked the fabric out of the deep places in the half-formed scab. It felt like he was pulling it out of his bone in some of the deeper puncture wounds, his whole leg aching with every little pull and yank. His breathing turned short, little huffs in between long spaces of held breath. Just... a little more. A little more, and--he pulled the scrap of fabric out of the wound and breathed out, relieved. Okay. That was the first one. Which left, what, twenty more? Argh. Why did he have to get bit?

Would he even heal? Was there a purpose to bandaging it, aside from to hold it together and keep him from bleeding all over the damn building? He made a sour face. He didn't know. Never done this shit before.

"We have any alcohol?" he asked, glancing at the kid. The kid was using it for his little teeny surface wounds, wasn't he? "Pass it over." He could use that to dissolve the blood soaked into the sock and maybe be able to pull the sock off a little easier. It was a far cry, but it was a chance.

His eyes zoned in on the kid's wounds instinctively. The scent. The scent was enough to die for. Lech curled his fingernails into his palm, forcing it back. No, no, no. The pain. Focus on his foot. Focus on his foot, and it'd all be... he wouldn't. All this time wasn't for nothing. He was stronger than this, and she was wrong. He could do it. He [i could.] Absolutely. Shit. He could at least play it cool in front of the kid. At least for that long. "Never mind," he grit out again. He'd just. Do this. Right. He scrunched his face up tight and started peeling the sock out of his foot again, eyes narrowed to slits against the pain.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 316d 17h 58m 51s
[center [pic http://i1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee397/Sakura-chi/42a_zpsxhc7hem3.png]]

Kaien had only ever seen a wolf shift once, years back, and he retrieved the images as easily as the morning right after, memory spilling back out at the sight of the she-wolf’s makeshift cell; the sight of her knuckles, bloodied and torn, beating at the door again, and again, and again and again and [i again], never tiring, desperate, [i despairing,] voice torn under the weight of her loaded screams, her pain, given tangible shape, reaching out through the bars to rake at his skin, the familiar dull [i click click click click] of bone like a timer counting down, and [i please honey, listen to me, okay? your father’s fine, i’m fine, but you need to turn around, and you need to leave. turn around, and don’t think about looking back, okay? we’ll meet up with you later, so please]–––

A hand landed heavily on his shoulder, fingers digging into the tensed muscle.

His reaction was near-instantaneous: gloved hand reaching up to coil around the other’s wrist, tugging closer, a practiced motion disrupted only by the sensation of fingers piercing skin, blunt nails pressing against the soft tissue until he heard the distinct sound of [i tearing,] and ow ow ow [i ow owowowowow–]––

“Fucking [i ow]!” he slapped boss’ hand away, palm clamping over the smarting wound and turned, brows hiked up in question. “Don’t fucking do that! Christ, boss!” however [i controlled] his voice came out in the face of that fucking [i banshee] behind the bars, his tone bit accusingly, temper flaring.

[i ‘We’re in the medical ward,’] Aries said matter-of-factly, hand gesturing at their surroundings. [i ‘Go into one of the empty rooms,’] he began, and Kaien could already tell he was using his ‘let me spell it out for you’ voice, sigh trapped below the averted crisis. [i ‘Go into the cabinets – they’re unlocked – and get some antiseptic. And you,’] he turned to Lech, glancing briefly at the state of his mangled foot. [i ‘You go with him. Clean that up. You’re trailing blood across the entire ward, and we don’t pay the cleaners to mop floors. Go. I’ll handle the she-wolf.’] He’d played this game plenty of times, that was true.

Kaien, following his tried-and-true method of ‘never talk back to the boss ever’ turned, walking back to and inside the first available room he spotted, feet carrying him straight to the cabinet. He paused, looking back to address Lech. “You should sit somewhere. I’ll get some bandages.”
  ghoul / 1y 316d 18h 27m 31s
The kid seemed lost in thought the whole slow, bloody trek to Aries' office, for which Lech was grateful. He was not in the mood to chat, his foot screaming in pain like Mick was still gnawing on it, hunger rattling around in his gut. [i It's like I got bit straight back to the bad old days,] he thought to himself, and smirked, but it wasn't funny. Not really. He did not need to be in shit condition with Mick on a mad tear against HQ and [i maybe] some kind of plot against HQ going on in the background. Not today. Not ever, really.

He wiped his face down with the back of his head. Today had gone straight to shit.

Giving Aires the report felt normal; the only normal thing about today. The man was sitting behind his desk when they walked in, clicking through something on his computer, but he stopped and gave them his undivided attention as they approached. He raised an eyebrow at the sight of Lech's foot, but didn't say a thing. He gave the rundown; the body, the girl, getting led to the bar, the wolves, the roof--leaving out the part where he'd almost gone after his newest 'partner'--and finished with his deductions, leaving off right as they got here. He didn't mention his suspicion that this might be some conspiracy against HQ. It'd only make him sound nuts, and besides, Aries was smart enough to figure out the possibility himself.

"...we've got to do something. She can't stay here," Lech finished.

Aires turned to Kaien, and Lech faded back, watching the two of then speak without really taking any of it in. Just two of them. All alone. No one would ever know. The she-wolf. If she got loose, and HQ went to hell anyways, what would two more bodies be in the rubble? Kaien stood and went to stand beside Aires. His whole body tensed subtly. [i Now.] One lunge was all it would take. One--

"Lech," Aires said sternly. Lech jolted. Shit. He'd almost--he wiped his face down again and took a deep breath. It'd been so long since he'd been this injured. He'd forgotten what it was like. And this time, he was so empty. There was nothing. No reserves left. Nothing he could fall back on.

This was the worst.

"We're heading to the she-wolf's room," Aires continued.

"Right," Lech said, nodding. It'd distract him, at least, if nothing else. Keep his mind... off of things.

Aires led the way through the building. Lech followed along behind the other two, still lagging for his bum foot. They took the elevator up into the medical ward. The first couple of beds looked normal, white sheets, beeping machines next to human, or mostly human, patients. Then came the private rooms. The first stood empty, but the door that hung open was two inches thick and made of cold iron. The next was a wooden door firmly shut with a line of salt just outside of it; the patient inside was lying quietly in the air about a foot above a neatly-made bed, black hair streaming upwards past her head. The next door was open, but the room occupied, a young boy lying in the bed who was absolutely normal aside from the UV light aimed at the greenery growing atop his head.

Someone was screaming from the room at the very end. At the sight of the three of them, they slammed on the door, a huge, metal thing inlaid with silver at strategic places, hard enough to rattle it in its frame. It took a moment to recognize the petite, composed woman as the madwoman who stared back at them through the door's narrow window. Her hair was a mess, stringy and matted, her eyes were bloodshot, and her hands--her hands were bloodied and twice as large as he remembered them being when they'd been folded so neatly in her lap, the first time she'd visited. The shifting had begun.

He cast Aires a glance. It didn't look like they were going to get much out of her. Still worth a try, he supposed.
  Lech Mstivoj / kaitoXi / 1y 317d 1h 52m 20s
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