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Did Lech think he was being slick, ignoring Kaien’s most [i pressing] question? The one question he’d asked not one, not two, but three times? He pressed his lips together, nodding sharply and following behind. It shouldn’t have mattered. It [i didn’t]; they were only working together for this one case, on Aries’ direct orders, and Kaien wasn’t green enough to expect outside of following the boss’ orders and saying their curt goodbyes once that was over and done with. It was why [i he’d] agreed to the job, ultimately. There was money in any job, but few came delivered straight from Aries’ hand.
It didn’t matter, not in the long run, and still Kaien found himself hung up on the recollection of what’d happened up on that roof, how [i trapped] he’d suddenly felt, how abruptly Lech’s entire visage had shifted into something Kaien couldn’t put a pin on, how intense it’d all felt despite it having lasted several seconds at [i most] –––
[i ‘Brat,’] snapped him back to attention and he blinked, looking ahead and into the eyes of the big boss himself, Aries’ expression growing more displeased by the second. [i ‘You there? Confirm.’] Confirm [i what...] Kaien glanced at Lech, decided the other’d probably be little help, and turned back to the boss with what could [i definitely] pass for a demeanor on high alert, all in the span of half a second. “Where’s the she-wolf?” the most classic method of diversion – straight up evasion. Kaien was fucking brilliant at it. Technique? Seamless. “Everything Lech said checks out,” whatever that’d been, “so next up’s making sure Mick doesn’t barge in here and see we’re harbouring the chick who killed one of his boys.”
[i ‘We established that,’] Aries said with a long-suffering sigh, well-used to Kaien’s attention span, or rather the distinct lack of the consistency of it. It was one of his main flaws: he really just… rarely, if ever, paid attention to things that couldn’t hold his interest; didn’t care to. [i ‘We’re considering tranquing her, but we’d still have to toss her in solitary for at least a couple hours.’] They couldn’t let a wolf-shifter loose, least of all a greenhorn. It’d be a bloodbath, doped up or not. [i ‘Handing her off to Mick’s an option, but one HQ wants to avoid going with, considering...’] This, Kaien was familiar with: Aries’ relationship with Mick was strained [i at best,] and going off of what Lech’d mentioned about [i their] less-than-amicable entanglement, interacting with Mick was likely at the very bottom on the proverbial list.
Aries stood, and Kaien followed, mostly out of habit, rounding the table to stand at the man’s side. [i ‘Let’s see if we can pull something outta the woman while she’s delirious.’]
Lech shook his head at the kid's rambling. He didn't know either. The questions were rolling through his head almost as fast as they were rolling out of the boy's mouth, but it kept coming back to two things. One, she was stupid, and thought HQ could protect her from Mick. She was smart enough to know he'd be after her for the murder, so why not plan out something for her safety? She wasn't wrong, wasn't right, but hell, who else even stood a chance? If [i he] was getting chased by Mick, and a tiny petite girl, where would he go [i other] than HQ? Maybe she didn't know wolves wouldn't leave their territory. Maybe she was worried they might send a killer after her who wasn't a wolf. He didn't know. Perps were stupid, sometimes.
The other option, the one he couldn't get out of his mind, was that somehow, she'd been led to HQ. Someone had found her and guided her here to deliberately... do what? Harm HQ? Kill Mick? Create a power vacuum? There were so many answers he didn't know which one to pick. Who to start suspecting. Plenty of people hated HQ. Plenty of people hated Mick . Plenty of people would benefit from Mick being gone. It was impossible to guess who would've sent her here... if it was even true. Maybe she'd just thought HQ was her best chance of safety. He didn't know. He didn't know anything.
The kid appeared at his shoulder. Lech made a face and looked away, biting his lip. Damn, it was tempting. But he was right here in front of HQ. He had to hold on.
He let out a mirthless laugh, short, almost barking. Needed to heal, huh? Needed to heal. There was one thing that would bind him up real quick, but he couldn't have it. That was the gotcha. The catch-22.
A window shattered. A gunshot rang out. Lech glanced up. That had come from HQ, hadn't it? Kaien's phone rang seconds later, confirming it. She was going nuts. "Should be able to tranq her until she fully turns," he said, shaking his head. It was hard to focus through the pain, now that he was standing again. Harder, for all of this being so damned hard to grasp. "Or maybe not. The first time can be..." Gory. Insane. Wolf-shifting was never something beautiful, but the first time was always particularly awful. He remembered watching Mick's, and the way he'd screamed. It hadn't been something he'd ever wanted to see again.
"Aires. Shit. Yeah. Let's get up to his office, now," he said, limping towards the door. "He needs to know." A trail of dark blood was left behind, a new footprint dripped on the pavement every time he lifted his foot. He made a face at the sight. He'd grab some bandages, tie it up real tight, and it'd be good as new. Not really. But there wasn't much else he could do. Damn, it'd be excruciating, wouldn't it? Just awful. But at least he'd be able to fight on it.
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[i Oh,] Kaien thought, eyes widening at Lech’s reflection in the taxi window.
It made sense, he realized, straightening in his seat. It [i all] made sense now, down to the very last detail, even the tiny, seemingly inconsequential things he hadn’t given a second thought. The warehouse, the state of it, the [i permeating] smell of wet dog tracing the air, the wolves’ confusion, the almost [i comedic] lack of concrete evidence leading them in circles, the woman’s approach, Mick’s anger, that [i bite–––]
“It’ll be a massacre,” he murmured. And that was only scraping the surface of oh shits. “But what was the point of waiting? If she was aiming for innocence, why come to us? She didn’t have to wait. She should’ve just gotten the hell out, enlisted our help through a second source, assured her safety first, handled everything else after the fact. Did she panic?” The taxi pulled up to HQ and Kaien slipped out, beginning a brisk walk towards the entrance, his partner’s state momentarily forgotten. “[i No…] she killed her boyfriend, tossed his body in the ventilation shaft, called us up… her acting’s too good… it’s too methodic. She went through all that to secure her own head, but then knowingly walked into HQ, jeopardizing herself when she didn’t have to.” Something didn’t add up. There was something they were missing. Something. [i Something.]
His teeth worried his bottom lip, ideas falling in and out of his frontal. “The bite. Did she know about it? No… Lech’s story makes sense. She wouldn’t have come to us if she’d known. Why did she come in person? Wolves don’t leave their territory. She could’ve just left the country – the city, even. She could’ve gotten away, bite or no bite. What’s missing...?”
He paused, turned, noting Lech’s position a dozen or so steps back.
Right. His foot.
“Lech,” he began, retracing his steps until he was back by his partner’s side, brows drawn. “You need to get that fixed up. If things go to shit, HQ needs you in fighting condition.” He was one of their best, his status as ‘lone wolf’ notwithstanding. “Back there, on the rooftop.” He hadn’t forgotten about the question Lech’d elected to ignore, and if there was one thing Kaien was known for – aside from his resourcefulness in getting himself out of a shit situation, because he was, first and foremost, a self-serving shit – it was his ability to keep track of things, and then consequently, never let things go.
He regarded Lech, his stare unyielding.
“What’re you supposed to be?” He was [i absolutely] doing this here and now. “Will standard healing even work? Mick knows who we – [i you] – are. He’ll know to come to HQ, and he won’t just come after you. There’s still… [i something,] but what you said stands. If we put Mick out of commission, that’ll mean even [i more] shit-stirring down the line, which’ll mean less jobs we’ll get hired for since we’re technically the ones who stirred the pot in the [i first place], which’ll mean I might not make rent, and there’s only so many times you can appeal to a middle-aged woman before you start wondering if you’re putting her marriage at risk, and I––”
There was a crash, the sound of breaking glass, a gunshot, and then apparent silence. Kaien blinked.
“So, what I was saying – ” His phone buzzed, indicating a text. He pulled it out, scanned his screen, then tucked the phone back into his pocket. “She went at the guards, and they’ve got no way of taking her down without [i putting] her down.” He didn’t actually know all that much about werewolves, least of all the shifting process. “Aries wants to know what we found out.”
//ooc: don't worry! I'm pretty chill about godmodding, as long as it's necessary! :)
Lech tensed at being carried in such a humiliating fashion, but didn't say anything. That silence was shared as they crawled slowly back down the building, giving him all the time in the world to try his hardest--and fail--to not think about his ankle and how bad it hurt, and how unbelievably [i hungry] he was. Instead, he ran the details of the case over again in his head, running them through one after another. The girl, the dead wolf, the bite... and if he was right, the full moon. Everything was falling onto place. But then... why would she come to them? If his hypothesis was right... then why enlist their help?
He looked at the kid, then snorted. "[i We're] in less danger, given that Mick isn't trying to gnaw our asses off anymore. It's everyone else who's the problem." He shook his head, then pushed his hair back slowly, composing his thoughts. "So our lovely client got bit, and next thing we know, a wolf is dead. But the thing is... If her boyfriend died in that building, like she claimed he did, why didn't we find his body? And instead, we found the scent of a wolf, a wolf Mick says is dead--and I'm inclined to believe him." He looked Kaien in the eyes. "So... Her boyfriend is the wolf."
It made everything fall into place, one after another. With just that assumption, the whole case suddenly have more sense. "Here's what I'm thinking. She was in love with this boy, this wolf. Remember? They knew his name at the bar--he was one of them. He offers to turn her--they're in love, blah blah blah--she agrees, but then gets cold feet. Wants out of it, doesn't want to be a wolf. But she's already been bit. And there's only one way to reverse the curse." Lech sat back, giving Kaien a superior stare. "You kill the wolf who bit you."
"So," he continued, tilting his head, "she kills her boyfriend. Dumps his body down the ventilation shaft. Realizes she's in too deep, clumsily tries to pin it on us--which only worked because Mick hates me--and is probably about to vanish, as soon as she hears of our grisly demise at Mick's hands. But there's a problem. She killed the wrong wolf."
He nodded over his shoulder at where they'd last seen Mick. "Wolves are heirarchial creatures. A newbie like her beau would never be allowed to turn someone. Someone higher up actually bit her. Which means she's not cured, and she's about to turn. That'd be bad enough, but the staff can deal with that. The problem is Mick. He's out for blood. Right now, he's blaming the wolf's death on me, but what if he suddenly senses a new wolf of his bloodline turning for the first time? He'll be curious. Go scent her out. He'll go back to that building, the one where she killed her boyfriend and dumped the body, and he'll put two and two together. And to him, it'll look like HQ is sheltering someone who killed one of his boys." Lech sighed and shook his head. "If he had a grain of common sense in his head, he'd figure it out--you know, that Aries would never allow that kind of shit, that we've probably got no idea--but it's a full moon. Mick and common sense never got along, but on a full moon?" He scoffed. Oil and water, right there.
"Worst case? Mick launches a full on assault on headquarters." Lech looked Kaien in the eyes, wondering if the boy understood the full implications. The attack would be bad enough, but if HQ was forced to make a stand against--and weaken--one of the biggest players in the city, it'd create a power vacuum. Worst of the worst case, it'd launch an all-out war between the factions.
The taxi pulled up to HQ, and Lech climbed arduously out, ankle and shoulder both panging every time he moved. "So let's get that like bitch the hell out of dodge before everything goes to shit," he groused, limping towards the building.
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He frowned. “It’s not a neck phobia-- and it’s not a ‘phobia’ at all.” This wasn’t going anywhere. He sucked in a breath, disconnected himself, and nodded. The job came first.
“So, how do you want this done? Piggyback? Bride-esque? I make my way down and you jump into my arms from the top, like in one of those ‘princess in a tower’ fairytales? Promise I won’t let you drop.” He mimicked Lech’s grin - all teeth, no mirth - stepping forward into his space. He bent at the knees, arms outstretching, head inclining in expectation. “It’s gonna be bride-esque,” he clarified. “Hope you don’t mind.”
Lech locked in his grip and making his way down the side of the building, Kaien thought. He thought about the mission, about the ‘crime scene’, about the evidence , about the woman and her festering, budding bite mark, and about Lech’s sudden urgency, trying and respectively [i failing] to reach a similar breakthrough. Was it the bite? Was it something else? Something more he wasn’t catching on to? She was lying, that much she herself had made obvious, but…
Brows joining into a focused furrow, he pressed his lips together - the questions could come later.
The alley, when his feet planted safely on the pavement, was empty , and Kaien let out a breath, shoulders relaxing. “I think I need a massage… you know a good masseuse? One that won’t cost a kidney donation?” He lowered Lech to his feet , stepping out into the street to flag down a taxi , and soon enough they were sitting at opposite sides of the vehicle in a silence that Kaien only [i somewhat] hesitated in breaking.
He turned, gray eyes prompting.
“So… you planning on telling me what happened back there? Or if you’re feeling secretive… what’s [i about] to happen? Is she in [i more] trouble than she was thirty minutes ago? Are [i we]?”
/ i struggled with this for sixteen years im sorry it's so in the air i didn't want to carry / gm too much sgdjsgjf
He caught a flash of neck, which didn't exactly help the situation--though at this point, he had everything under control that all he did was salivate a little. The kid took forever to get to his point; Lech felt as though he were more under threat of falling asleep than attacking by the time the kid was done. "Huh, so you got bit, and now you've got a neck phobia? Happens to the best of us," he said, rubbing his eyes. Damn, kid could not summarize! "Nah, I get it, kid. I got a few of those myself, tell the truth." Phobias, not neck wounds, though over the span of his tumultuous-at-best relationship with Mick, he'd accumulated a few of those, too.
Wasn't the point, though. The point was that he was stuck on a stupid roof with a stupid kid, and he was starving, and his ankle was still a little ball of burning pain, and if they didn't get back to HQ before the moon rose, everyone--them included--was going to be in a world of trouble.
He could think of one easy solution, but he suspected the kid's phobia would mean an automatic no. And that was even--well, he wanted to be good. If possible. Not go for the easy out. Though right now... no. Okay. They'd figure this out.
The kid's offer made him physically wince. Get carried by the kid? He'd rather die. He'd never live that down if anyone, [i anyone], saw him. "I'll--give me your shoulder," he said, gesturing the kid over. He'd make this work. Maybe. The building was sealed off, though. They'd have to...climb back down. "Shit," he muttered to himself. That wasn't going to happen, with his ankle a bloody mess. Not unless...
"Alright, fuck this. Kid, carry me. We'll catch a taxi at the bottom." They couldn't afford to take it slow. Not right now. "We've got no time to waste. Promise I won't bite." He flashed the kid a winning smile with very human teeth and reached out, gesturing for him to move closer. He was safe now. Safe enough. They just had to get the hell out of here and back to HQ, ASAP.
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[font "Tahoma" In retrospect, evaluating the situation in its entirety, he could now see (clear-headed) that his reaction had been a little over the top, maybe. Of course, that didn’t mean Kaien had any future plans concerning letting shit like that fly by him, or that he regretted cussing Lech out, but the ankle had probably been overkill. It’d been instinctual (mainly), but he’d be lying if he claimed he couldn’t see the discomfort written all over the man’s face. [i Again,] no repentance, but...well, he could’ve handled it with a little more dignity. There were plenty of ways Kaien could think of that he could’ve used to put him down.]
[font "Tahoma" But the reason it’d [i happened] raised another question, one not necessarily pertaining to the secret Lech seemed to be keeping.]
[font "Tahoma" If it’d happened once, chances were, it’d happen again, and while there were many things Kaien could be coerced into with the right attitude and enough begging, whatever [i that] was did not section in. If they were going to bring this case to a close, there was one thing he needed voiced.]
[font "Tahoma" He raised a hand to grab Lech’s attention, and began unzipping the first several centimeters of his jacket ]
[font "Tahoma" [b “Before we continue with any sort of partnership--”] He tugged at the collar, exposing the flesh of his neck , and with it the ravaged but healed over flesh of an old wound. It was an instant, and soon enough his neck was covered once again, zipper sliding into place to keep the collar affixed. [b “Remember that… ugh, it’s so lame to call it that, because it’s [i not], but… that ‘phobia’ Aries mentioned back at HQ? It’s got a lot to do with why my neck’s the way it is.”] He paused, considered his words, then leveled Lech with as serious of a face as he could muster up. [b “What I mean is… if we’re going to--”] Okay, no. Backtrack, try again. [b “I reacted the way I did because I didn’t expect it, but that’s not the deal anymore. Now, I know what I’m in for, so. If you… slip, or whatever, again, or if you feel [i off] in any way...”] Despite how frequently he made it a point to have his voice just… generally [i heard], this was proving very difficult. He didn’t [i do] threats, didn’t [i do] classic intimidation. [b “Just. Let me know. Okay? Okay. Moving on.”] Thank god [i that] was over, [i wow.] [i This] was why he avoided ever doing any interrogating off the streets. If it hadn’t been for Aries, he’d still be speaking in code.]
[font "Tahoma" He stepped back, propped a palm against his hip, and inclined his head. [b “So, what’s the plan? With that leg, it’d take you about two years, give or take, to reach HQ. I know I told you to ‘get the fuck away’, or whatever, but the mission takes priority right now. I’m not that much of a diva.”] He was, but not during work hours, and not when it really mattered. [b “If you’ve got your shit handled, I can carry you? Lending you my shoulder works too, I guess, but that’ll take about twice as much time with how much vaulting we need to do on our way back. Your call.”]]
Ha, wasn't fooling the kid, was he? Hadn't expected it. Lech sat back and breathed through his mouth, hoping it'd dull the scent of-- of exactly what he needed to sate the endless hunger rolling through him. To stop the pain that throbbed from his injured ankle.
Aries answered the phone. He listened quietly, taking what he could from the one-sided conversation. Oh? Wait, was the kid actually covering for him? Bold move. And an unexpected one. Why? He'd seemed so disgusted with Lech just a moment ago.
Sometimes, he really felt as though he didn't understand people at all.
He gritted his teeth and lifted his bad leg, pulling his ankle closer. Lifting his pant leg gingerly, he gave it a hard look, and almost immediately regretted it. The whole thing looked like meatloaf. Blood was pooling in his shoe or under his foot, depending on how he turned it, and--damn, was that a flash of bone? Shit. Mick hadn't pulled his punches. He'd be lucky to walk on this before the week was out.
Hadn't been moved? Oh, good. Her. Yeah, she was up to some shit. And now he had a matching bite. Though... he frowned. Hers was shaped differently, wasn't it? He'd have to go take a look, but he could've sworn it was a different bite. So she hadn't been bit by Mick. Huh. Well, there were other wolves in the world, he supposed. Lucky for him he wouldn't have to go kill Mick to keep from turning wolf this full moon, since he was already--well, otherwise predisposed.
Lech went stiff suddenly, as the full force of that thought hit him. Wait. She was--and then the wolf--shit. No way. Could it be? He turned his eyes upward. The moon hadn't risen yet. He pulled out his phone and checked it, holding his breath while Google loaded the results. And then he chuckled. Ha--explained why Mick had taken to the hills. Even he knew better than to be in the center of the town on a full moon. Sure, lycanthropes had it a little easier than actual weres, but--they'd still transform against their will and run wild under the moon's light. Which meant...
"Wait, kid, wait," he called. With some effort, he pulled himself back to his feet, getting his one good foot under him. "Kaien. Wait." His bad foot screamed out in pain when it took his weight, but it still took his weight. He hobbled towards Kaien, but then stopped, self-conscious enough to keep his distance. "Listen--we need to go back to headquarters. Tonight. The answer to the mystery might be in HQ." He glanced at the boy, at the tense lines of his body, then sighed. "Listen, I get that you don't want to trust me--don't want to be near me, and that's fine, what the hell ever. But if we don't head back to HQ tonight, we might never solve this mystery."
Lech chuckled, then nodded. "Hell, faster we figure this one out, the faster the case is over, the faster you can beg Aries to reassign you to a better partner, huh?" Surely that'd be motivation enough to get the boy to join him. He couldn't go alone. The way his ankle was--the way his hunger was--he'd be more of a danger to the world alone, not to mention he moved with all the speed and grace of an injured hippopotamus. He needed the kid's help to get to HQ in time.
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[font "Tahoma" [b “You,”] he began, eyes narrowed. [b “don’t know what I’m talking about, really?”] Funny. Real funny. [b “[i Real] funny. You’re lucky I didn’t projectile kick you straight over the edge of this roof with that shit you just pulled.” ]He straightened, momentary lapse nothing but a memory, going for his phone just in time for it to go off, signaling the long awaited call from the big boss himself. [b “And I wasn’t panicking. Just voicing my outrage. It doesn’t even matter. As long as you stay right there, I’ll be just fine, promise, [i ja?]”]]
[font "Tahoma" He pulled the phone out, glanced down at the caller ID, and swiped 'answer’. He’d messaged him in his panicked outrage, but now, well… he wasn’t too sure of what to say. Would he rat Lech out? [i No,] that was… unproductive at best. Clearly, there seemed to be some sort of secret there, whatever it was, and while that wasn’t saying Kaien wasn’t [i curious,] at present, he was more than satisfied with a vaguely antagonistic acquaintanceship. ]
[font "Tahoma" [b “Boss,”] he spoke, voice low, level, a polar opposite to the lump of anger gathered in his chest, torso turned sideways for both optimal privacy and observation. He'd be damned before he let this happen again any time soon. Luckily for him - and Lech, it seemed - this mission was close to unraveling. [i Close enough,] at the very least. [b “Yes, we've got a lead,”] he sharpened, eyes locked in on Lech's stationary posture. Right. Focus. [b “No, that's not what I-- it doesn’t even matter, honest. There was a situation, and I thought I might have to-- no, I didn’t. Nothing happened.”] A pause, then- [b “No, sir. I apologize for interrupting you during work hours. No, that isn’t-- oh my god! Boss! I promise it’s nothing! I overreacted in a situation I didn’t need to overreact in, and my first instinct was to get in contact with you. That’s it. It doesn’t go any deeper.” ]Another pause, this time longer. [i Ugh,] he really should’ve thought this through. Or, he needed to start messaging Aries more often, so that when these incidences [i did] occur, he could meander his way out of them with ease. This, at present, wasn’t working. [b “Yes, he’s here. I told you, there was a situation. Yes, we’re getting along fine. He had me buy overpriced coffee, but that’s about it. No, I haven’t been stirring shit. You can ask him if you like.”] He looked to his front, then back at Lech. [b “Right, while you’re on the line, uh. The woman? The blonde, whatshername? Keep an eye on her. She’s hiding something.” ]His eyes stung. How long was it since he’d slept, now? [b “Mm. Got it. Thanks, boss. I’ll let him know.” ]
[font "Tahoma" He cut the line, pinched the bridge of his nose, then exhaled.]
[font "Tahoma" [b “Boss wants you to know she’s been moved. Still in the building, just lower down. That bite’s getting nasty, is what he said.” ]Putting his phone away, he walked to the edge of the building, the same one they’d climbed over, and looked down, inspecting the ground surface. ]
[font "Tahoma" [b “Doesn’t seem like they’re there, at least from what I can see from here. Doubt they’ll let this go, though. Without proof of innocence, I mean, so… we should probably get that settled some point soon.” ]He stepped back from the edge and put his phone away. [b “I’m not asking if you’re good to go back on your own, but I’m not stabbing you in between the eyes with this knife I have strapped to me, either, so I think we’re more or less even. You planning on dragging yourself back?”]]
Hands gripped his hair, then yanked. For a second, he regained control, but then instincts surged, anger and pain only serving to fuel the fire. He lunged for the kid's neck--
And crumpled backwards as his ankle screamed in pain and gave out. Kaius scrambled back from him, gabbling questions and curses as he reached for his phone. Anger welled up from somewhere deep and dark inside of him, and he clawed at the roof, dragging himself towards Kaius. All he needed to heal was right there, right before his eyes. All the pain and weariness would be gone. He'd be powerful again, unstoppable--
[i No. No. Stop! ] He screamed it at himself from miles away. He couldn't. Not now. Not after everything! He wouldn't---not anymore! He drew to a halt, his limbs trembling. He was better than this. He could be better. Shit. It was just a fucking ankle, dammit. He would've been fine, if only that damn asshole Aries hadn't forced him to take on a partner! He operated alone for a reason, damn it!
"I," he heard himself saying, "I don't know what you're talking about. The hell did you kick my ankle out for?" It wouldn't work. Kaius was a hunter, he knew. He knew. He was lucky the kid was scared out of his wits rather than trying to take Lech's head off, because as weakened as he was, the kid stood a chance at succeeding.
"My shit is together. Nothing. It was nothing," he snapped. It was nothing, wasn't it? No one had been hurt. A temporary lapse, that was all. It'd happened before, it'd happen again. He'd never hurt--never killed anyone yet. Shit. He was hungry, though. Now that he'd come close, been aware of his hunger, he could feel it raging inside him, clawing at his guts, screaming to be sated. Just a little. Just a little, and it'd feel so much better. All he had to do was--
Stop. No. He wiped his face down, took a deep breath. He was better than that. "Look, kid, stop panicking. It's not going to get us anywhere. I don't wanna be here, and you don't wanna be around me. There's gotta be a way off this roof." He hoped. He could still smell the wolves in the area, though. Were they circling, waiting for them to come down? Or rather, waiting for him to give in? He laughed mirthlessly and wiped his face again. Dammit. At least they wouldn't have to worry about him going wolf, but honestly? That might've been better. At least then Kaius would stand a chance, if it came to a fight.
One moment, everything was fine. Crisis averted with [i mild] injury, plan of action set, the end was more or less in sight. He could already see himself proudly submitting a rent check a week in advance, but somewhere between the past fifteen seconds and now, something had gone [i terribly] wrong, because here Kaien was, stuck in what appeared to be Lech’s vise grip, the latter’s mouth [i dangerously] close to the exposed skin just above one of Kaien’s carotid arteries. The dread shooting straight through his nervous system and up into his brain was instantaneous.
His shoulder muscles tensed, the chill running laps up and down his spine only accentuated by the prominent breath against his skin. He’d do it. [i He’d do it]. What would he do? Kaien didn’t know yet, but he knew he wouldn’t like it. Knew he wouldn’t be okay with it. The ant bites prickling at his skin were evidence enough of that. Would Lech try to kill him if he resisted? Would… whatever [i this] was consume him the moment Kaien’s body pulled back, and would he just… tear into Kaien’s neck and leave him dead on top of this horribly constructed building? Is that what would happen? Would he die on this roof if he tried to fight him? Maybe… maybe standing still was better. Safer. He’d done it before. Maybe it wouldn’t even hurt! [i Maybe…] His eyes closed, jaw locked in place, and he did the one thing he could think to do; followed the instincts running wild and thundering at him to [i haul ass.]
He grabbed a fistful of Lech’s hair and [i yanked.] Hard.
The instant of distraction was all he needed to introduce the toe of his boot to the worst of Lech’s injuries; his mangled ankle.
“Get the [i fuck] off me!” he scrambled back, tripping over his feet and hitting the cement with a heavy thud, eyes wide and wild. Free from the grip, from the proximity, he could feel the adrenaline from their previous escape subsiding, replaced by… by… fear? Anger? He didn’t know. Couldn’t tell. His hands were sweaty, tingling at his sides, and his limbs felt anchored in place. Throat tight. “What the fuck is wrong with you!?” Oh my god, oh, what the fuck. What the fuck, what the fuck! Beads broke out on his forehead, the back of his neck, shaking hands gripping the material of his pants. He felt like vomiting. “What the fuck were you planning on doing!?” He had to get away. He tried just that, but his body was lead. He couldn’t even look away. Could only continue yelling obscenities, trying and [i failing] to distract himself from what could’ve just happened. [i What the fuck.] “You ever try that shit again and–!” The lump in his throat grew heavier, but he could feel his extremities again, and he clambered to his feet shakily, [i instantly] backing away to the edge of the roof. He’d sooner jump off the top of this fucking building than get more than ten feet closer to Lech. In fact, jumping off the building was looking more and more appealing the longer he stood there and thought himself into a panic attack. How could’ve Aries not thought to [i tell] him his to-be ex partner was anything other than human. “Stay exactly where the fuck you are. I know what I’ll do if you get closer. Get your shit together.” If he moved, Kaien would throw himself off, that was decided. He dug into his pocket and pulled out his phone, firing off a quick message of ‘??????? call me???right now?’ to Aries’s ims, jittery fingers tightened around the device. He looked back up. “What the [i hell] was that.” Jesus.
The kid finally hauled him over the edge. Lech breathed a sigh of relief, resting on his one good leg for a moment, but then Mick jumped again--almost high enough to reach the ledge--and he started moving. He still couldn't feel his foot. It didn't really take his weight, but it didn't give out completely, either, so he hobbled after the kid, following him up the wall to safety.
The roof was a welcome respite. He sat down heavily, resting his foot and arm. Mick had ripped him up good. At least the shoulder was only superficial stuff, scrapes and bruises--the guy's claws hadn't grown yet. The foot was... he grimaced as the pain finally pushed its way through the adrenaline. His bones screamed in pain, flesh feeling just as mangled and twisted as it looked. Swallowing what pain he could, he poked at it and froze, whole body tensing at the pain that rolled up his leg. Okay, enough of that. No touching it. If he didn't touch it, the pain was manageable.
"I liked those shoes," he grumbled.
Kaien offered him a hand up, and Lech took it. He tried to stand on both feet, only to have a railroad spike shoved up his foot--or, well, that's what it felt like. At least the other one was still functional. He balanced on one foot, breathing slowly in and out, counting the beats of his heart. If he focused on that, his foot didn't hurt so bad. And if he didn't focus on his foot, then everything was fine. Just peachy.
He nodded as the kid ran down the events. Kid was right; if Mick's attack hadn't convinced him, the rest of it would've by now. Something fishy was going on. That woman... he didn't know what her game was, but he was taking serious offense to it, now that it'd nearly killed her. The next time they met, it wouldn't be on friendly terms. "You aren't kidding," he grumbled aloud.
"Yeah, I'm fine, I can walk," he said gruffly, and pushed away from Kaien. The first step was fine, but the second he put his bad foot under him, it gave way. Startled, Lech stifled a yelp of pain and surprise as he fell and grabbed for something, anything--not his bad foot, he didn't want to land on his bad foot. The kid came into reach first, and he caught his shirt on the way down--then stiffened. Shit. No. Not now. But he was injured. And it was so close. His fingers dug into the kid's shirt, shoulders tensing as he tried to fight instinct. Not now. Not now. Not him. Aries would murder him. But it was close. There was no one else around, and it was so close. He drew himself closer, strength suddenly iron, grip like a vise, nails biting into the kid's flesh as he pulled himself up higher on the kid's body. And then he could smell it, closer than ever; his pupils dilated, teeth aching for it. [i No! NO!] he shouted at himself, but his internal voice grew quieter by the second, rationality rapidly disappearing. No, he couldn't. He'd been good for so long. But it'd been so long. And here he was. And here it was. And he was injured and hungry. Aries never had to know. He drew closer. His lips parted. So close. So. Close.
If you’d told Kaien he would be spending his Friday evening running from wolves on account of a misunderstanding, he’d have laughed it off with a ‘wouldn’t be my first time’ and gone on his merry way. Now, however, the prospect didn’t seem too funny, because when he recalled, he’d toed the line with death on all of the previous occasions, and none of the other wolves had been [i Silver Mick.] If they were lucky, they’d manage an escape without any serious– [i Holy shit.] His torso twisted just in time to see Mick's jaw snap around Lech's ankle, the sickening crunch of bone permeating through the buzzing in Kaien's ears, and it was incentive enough to have him dropping down into a crouch, one hand gripping the edge and the other tightening around Lech’s palm. Here’s where he thanked the father, son, and holy spirit for his genes because, despite some effort, he managed to haul Lech’s body over the ledge, leaving the trio - while snarling menacingly up at them - thankfully trapped on the ground. He pressed his back against the wall, nodded at Lech, and started to move towards the balcony. Mick was unlikely to follow now, but Kaien was certain this wouldn’t be the last they saw of him.
A few short minutes and a bit of teamwork later found them sat on the roof of the building, stamina decidedly spent - Kaien’s, at least - but, for the moment? Safe. As safe as a pair of hunters for hire [i could] be around these parts, at least.
“I’m loving this turn of events,” he mused, fingers intertwined across his stomach and gaze pointed up towards the sunset sky. “What a load of bullshit.” As little as Kaien actually [i knew] about Mick apart from his dealings with Aries, the one factoid that stood out above the rest was Mick’s astounding ability to hold a grudge for however long it took; that is, until the time came when he eventually wrapped his claws around the perpetrator’s neck and put an end to it. “He’s not gonna let this go if we ask nicely, is he?” No, he wasn’t, because as sleazy, as underhanded as Mick was, he took care of his boys, and as it stood, their side wasn’t looking all too innocent. He dragged a palm down one side of his face, let out a groan, and heaved himself back up. “Here,” he said, offering a hand and pulling Lech to his feet. Foot. His one fully functioning foot. [i Jesus,] that looked nasty. “This building’s sealed off, so we’re safe, but… we should probably move. Get back to hq, have someone fix that up for free. And that woman… whatever her name, I think you’re right. There’s something she’s keeping from us, for whatever reason. It just doesn’t add up.” Not the evidence , and not her testimony. Like Lech had said, there had to be something else there. Something connecting all these dots. “You okay to walk on your own?”
Holy parkour, Batman. The kid was a regular Robin, leaping around like some circus freak and jumping straight up the wall. At the moment, Lech didn't care. In fact, he was glad as hell. As long as the kid survived, Aries wouldn't murder his ass.
Though right now, the bossman would have to get in line.
He followed Kaien up onto the ledge, his mangled arm aching as he gripped at the bricks of the wall. "Go, go, go," he chanted at Kaien, offering the boy a hand up to the next ledge. If they could scale this building, chances were they'd get away.
The wolves growled, staring hungrily up at them. One, larger than the rest, leaped up at the ledge and somehow reached; Lech flinched as jaws snapped shut an inch away from the back of his calves. Shit. Why the hell did it have to be Mick? Any other wolf, and they'd be safe already. "Get out of here!" he shouted at Kaien.
Once the boy was up to safety, he hauled himself up. Halfway up, his arm twinged and went weak, giving out from under him. He slipped and fell, hanging from only his good arm. Damn it! "Kid!" he shouted, reaching up with his bad arm. He hated to admit it, but he needed a boost right now! Jaws snapped shut around his shoe, and he shouted, kicking at Mick; his foot connected and knocked the wolf free, though the wolf stole his shoe and left his foot bloodied. It looked nasty, but he couldn't feel any pain yet; the adrenaline was pumping. "Kid, get me out of here!" he snapped.
A convenient fire escape did not, in fact, materialise itself. In fact, [i nothing] did - bare, tall brick walls lining the long alley - and Kaien spent a better part of the next two minutes cursing out whoever had been dumb enough to construct the architectural plans for these buildings. No fire escapes? Yeah, definitely a great, fucking [i spectacular] idea, especially considering how [i often] fires appeared to flicker into activity around this particular area.
His eyes darted from side to side, desperation clinging to his rapid movements like a seasoned mistress, gaze scoping out the area for an inkling of a way out of this minute mess. Okay. Think rationally, ignore the three wolves going for your partner's and your necks and focus on the positives. [i Okay.] Theoretically - [i logically] - the possibility of [i no feasible] course of action they could turn to existing was low. There had to be [i something] - a way to scale any one of these buildings and assure the two of them lived to see to the bottom of this and receive their pay checks - he was [i sure] of it.
He turned the corner, gasped air into his lungs, and there it was, a proverbial heaven sent materialized in the form of two bricked up windows, one right above the other, leading up and onto a narrow ledge that connected to a barless balcony just three stories up. That's right; wolves didn't do well with climbing, even less with heights. He couldn't account for Mick, but he knew for a fact Baldy and Skinny wouldn't be following after them, and that was already two problems less. It was a start. He picked up the pace, ran through a suitable self pep talk, and promptly lunged for the frame of the window. Clinging to it was a challenge, but Kaien's always done very [i well] when it came to challenges of the physical sort, so in the span of several seconds he stood balanced on the ledge with Lech [i hopefully] right behind him. He'd promised him [i strict] professionalism, and caring for your partner's well-being...well, that was a solid tier four--he never once looked back.
Besides, he firmly believed Lech was experienced enough to handle it.
// lmao @ my dead ass... gimme 3 seconds to get back into character. this is a transition post more than anything else
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