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Guts. [Fin] Read 10921 times

VenomousEve

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #60 on: December 02, 2016, 05:41:27 pm »
Ivena sighed and settled deeper into the seat, stroking Ilya’s hair when he landed in her lap. “I don’t spite you.” She said, but would not comment further. She didn’t believe Ilya, really, because doing so would mean she hung her heart on nothing. Ivena was certain it was more than just spite. It wasn’t all about Ilya. Everything in her life could be about Ilya, but not Kou. Kou was his own man. Someone who could see her standing alone. She tucked that hope away as something precious and did not question why she felt it necessary to protect her precious things from the brother who loved her.

“If your heart becomes broken, it will be your own fault and not mine, I think.” She did say after a while. If Ilya had been transparent with his affections, she’d been equally so with her own feelings. Darling brother, nothing more. Ilya’s driver turned on the radio and a lively pop song slipped through the speakers. It did not suit the mood, which had become weary with the Tzeng energy expelled from the vehicle. She closed her eyes. “What shall we do about supper?” she asked.

They arrived at the Vladenko home some twenty minutes later, as Ilya had chosen a property somewhat outside the main city blocks to house himself and his sister. It was a larger structure, a proper home rather than a high rise penthouse, and Ivena was fond of it. As she stepped out of the large SUV, she thought of Kou’s building, though, and she he seemed much more exciting with his urban home in the face of their stately villa. She waited for her brother to close the door after her and hooker her arm in his as they walked up the drive, studying his profile as they went. He might be annoyed with Kou still, but the Wing pair had been successful in diverting his attention from the nasty business of the early morning. She seemed satisfied. It had been what she wanted, after all.

-

Mei did not think much more of the curious stranger and was at the sink washing her hands before she froze. A small chill, something she’d learned not to ignore, raced down her spine. It was never a good thing to know she wasn’t alone when she couldn’t see who was with her. Since she was young, she’d been taught to fear such things. His face in the mirror over her shoulder, the striking jade rounds and hollow cheeks, dark hair and a predator’s lips. She inhaled sharply. “You,” she murmured, and she could not have explained the way she shivered.

He approached her the way she’d entreated men to approach her before. Friends of Kou’s, always, because she was desperate for attention more than she was desperate for affection. But Mei had never seen this man, nor been handled with such deftness. Tiny girl, but she was used to being in charge. A gasp that peeked in a confused mewl as she was twirled around and brought onto the counter. She moved with him because she knew better than to oppose intentions that already had momentum. Like Ivena’s dancing, in some ways, it was safer to follow a leap than resist it.

And then it was her own sort of talent that cast her into his rhythm, pulled chest to chest with her heartbeat fluttering. She tasted his alcohol on his tongue and it took her a long moment to move from what felt like the early flames of pleasure to recalling the kind man waiting for her back at their booth. “Who are you?” she demanded, pulling away from him and sliding off the counter and to the side to get around him. She looked annoyed, and worried because she wasn’t dumb. “And who on earth taught you your manners,” she snapped, backing toward the door. Belou pulled this sort of stunt from time to time, taking on the look of men he knew would catch her eye. But Mei always knew Belou for his forever wink and the way his existence resonated with her own. The man was not her Demon. Still, Bel’s eye flared blue brilliance as she turned on her heel to push out the door.

She knew better than to leave her back to a strange man for long, but had overestimated even this quick movement. It was not difficult for him to lift her from the ground, though she was grabbing at his arms and struggling immediately. “Put me down!” she hissed, and thrashed so that she could scratch and bite. Mei had behaved that way often, when she was small, though she’d never intentionally drawn blood from Kou when they’d tussled. Still, it was a practiced, if juvenile, effort. “Ouran!” she gasped, and then shouted his name at the closed bathroom door. With the sounds of the kitchen beyond there was no real possibility her brother’s enforcer would hear her. “Get the fuck off me!” she kicked her legs as they dangled. 

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #61 on: December 02, 2016, 07:18:07 pm »
Ivena was quiet, which Ilya always took as her allowing him to stare at her, so he did while she petted him. It was a good view on her, from below, with her noble jaw and her stormy eyes in calm expression. Sometimes he would lift his head into the strokes, indulging in the travel of her fingers over his scalp, raining shivers down his head, other times he would use his own hand to cage her forearm, letting that limb glide through his fingers, a collaborative caress. He liked to think they were lovers who had recently loved, and this was post-play.

Because he couldn't help himself, he lifted on his elbow to give her jaw a kiss, and lingered there with his nose and lips - he'd learned how to press along with the toss of her head so he could stay attached to her longer, a bit like a particularly affectionate cat - and then inhaled her scent, extending that drawn breath until he laid in her lap again. "Tartare." he replied. He would have the best meats from his handful of butcheries. If he was lucky, she'd make it herself and wear a bloody apron, if not, then there would still be beef tartare to eat.

When the lights were told of their presence, the house woke up slowly. He closed the door behind them. If the guards saw fit, they had their own room adjacent to the hall. Mostly they were content with the garage. Ilya didn't care for invasive security when he was home, it had to do with his pride but also his privacy, but just like Kou, he was a bit of a hypocrite if he knew Ivena was there without him, which was why the measures were so advanced here. He was the head of the Vladenko family, after all, it would be embarrassing not to be able to barricade himself.

He held on to her arm as long as he could, and then hung up his jacket and tie that Kou had almost ruined. At home, Ilya liked to keep his shirt, but it would almost always be drastically down buttoned, with his long chest drinking in the well tempered air. He did not wear his clothes as close as Kou. "Dance through the rooms and climb the stairs lightly for your zaika, would you?" he asked. He always did, he wasn't even sure what he'd do if she agreed, but was already taking up a folder from a table by a mirror, where lives were written down. Tzeng was becoming aggressive in his march, and he was generous as always, but his methods were a bit stressed as of late. Ilya would rather stop and learn to know what he already conquered.

-

He liked the way she attached to his pace and sat well on the counter. Her chest was softer than her height suggested, but he knew that already. It was delightful to sample her texture, though, and her mewl. Lib always enjoyed when he could, and gave everything to her mouth, and massaged back with his lips. Her kiss was boiling. Her body was clever. He gave a satisfied groan when she broke them up. A thumb stroked his lip, if she was attentive as she sat back and slid off the counter, she would see he was moving her taste back on to his tongue rather than cleaning it to the side.

When he followed it wasn't with any kind of hostility. Perhaps she remembered it as some lovesick boy, who's heart she'd elicited without trying. If only his green eyes weren't so clear and full of their own intent. "Name's Libertine. Lib for short." he answered as he took a longer step to intercept her. "And I'm self-taught." he whispered before he bound her with his embrace and she became a storm in his arms. When she screamed, and he wanted his hands to contain her rather than silence her, he tied them tighter around her, to squeeze her air and make her voice too weak to penetrate very far.

"Oh, you're a little fire, Mei Wing Tzeng." he said. It should be apparent then that he was not some new fan, but rather an out-send of one, which made it all more nefarious. "Too bad we cant talk this over some cheap sheets and sweat. You look like you'd be a snug fit." he mused and held her even tighter into him, arm now around her head. A few starting steps and then a leap. He crashed through the window, wrapped around her to protect her, and inhaled her flailing hair when they fell into the alley. They were caught in many arms and moved. He kept a tight hold on her chest to keep her from making too much noise.

He was still her armor when they were tossed recklessly into a vehicle, and he huffed at the abuse he took for both of them. They flipped with the rush of the car and his back collided with the far doors so that hers didn't have to. She was in his lap now. He let her go and was quick to get comfortable despite the velocity of the van, arms hung on his lifted knees where he sat. Perhaps he looked like another creature then, with the light coming from above and making fangs out of the shadows beneath his eyes.

"Welcome to your impromptu evening." She could try all the handles, but he'd not been paid a hefty sum to lack in such basic areas. He held out a tin, and it contained little marshmallows. Nothing she'd be able to weaponize.

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #62 on: December 02, 2016, 09:14:41 pm »
There was a curious sort of dread that came with events unfolding that one had planned for, those ‘if it ever happens, but God forbid it’ scenarios that had been terrifying when she was small and a diminishing handicap as she’d gotten older. Children who weren’t born into the city’s underbelly learned the same thing, if in lesser terms. Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t get into strange cars. Don’t go to unknown places alone. Lessons which were painted in a way that was glossy and nebulous, nightmares somebody else was having. Mei knew the rules. Don’t fight back too much, if you can’t get away at first it’s best to behave. Don’t spare the family. Keep your cell phone if you can. Her heart hammered in her chest. This man was strong, which meant most of her rules didn’t matter.

She tried to scream again, but found it hard enough to breath with the way he had locked his arm around her chest. If they were after her, surely they’d not leave Ouran alone either. Loose ends were the quickest sort of death sentence, after all. You don’t poke a tiger with one claw free. Mei wasn’t religious, but she prayed to her father’s god and her mother’s and all the ancestors that might be listening. If Aitawa was very quick, he might get away. His kindness didn’t mean incompetence, after all. He would not be at Kou’s side if it did. They crashed through the window and she was calm enough not to thrash, realizing as they fell that the man who’d introduced himself as Libertine was making some efforts to protect her body.

Mei could hope that meant he was not unreasonable, but it seemed more likely it meant he was looking for ransom. Still, as other unknowns appeared, strange hands on her and her human restraints, Lib kept her wrapped close and did not release her when they rattled about in the empty back of the vehicle. They slammed against the rear doors and she felt the impact to Lib’s spine carry forward through her. Still at last, he let her free. Mei was panting and she scrambled away from him quickly. The pretty white dress had torn a bit in the fray, snagging on her knees. The motion of the vehicle destabilized her and she tripped forward and fell to the side before she managed to right herself across from him. “Who sent you? What do you want?” she demanded, and she didn’t sound afraid because her father had taught her to keep a steady voice and her mother had taught her there was no such thing as helpless. High prices could be paid with a willing body.

Despite that steady stare, bright blue ring, and even tone, her fingers curled tight around the fabric of her red scarf. “Who are the others?” she asked. He had shielded her from the roughness of their fall and the jostling car. If she was being transported like a prize, she could carry herself like a princess. She could make demands. At least, they’d not do something drastic even if she annoyed them if Libertine had gone through that effort. Mei would ask her questions.

The car hit a bump in the road and she felt a small weight in her sweater thump against her ribs. She was careful not to let her expression change. She did have her phone then. Bel was on speed dial. Mei took a deep breath. She would save that safety line for later. Mei was certain she’d only get one chance, and if Mei could get Bel’s attention he’d understand. It was a part of him that had been stolen away too, after all. She wondered if, even now, he could sense there was something amiss.

-

Ivena agreed to the tartare and they parted ways when they went inside. She promised to prepare it when the meats arrived and then went off toward her room. She had figured that he would be interested in handling some business after a full day of play, and Ivena had no interest in involving herself in those efforts. Ilya had never tried to draw her into it either. She thought Kou must be doing the same thing now, and wondered if he ever mulled over information with Mei or not. It was an effort to shelter the girls that these things were studied in solitude, but somehow the idea of Mei working intently with her handsome brother, their dark hair falling in their eyes as they concentrated, made her a little bit jealous. She’d never begrudge her friend, but she could wish to be part of their world a bit more.

She did not consider that it might be hypocritical, or even a bit hurtful, that she had quietly abstained from her underworld family while pining after another like it was romantic. But it was easier to imagine Kou never returned home with blood on his collar the way her brother did, on occasion.   



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Re: Guts.
« Reply #63 on: December 02, 2016, 11:21:40 pm »
It came as no surprise to Lib when she shot out of his arms as soon as he deemed circumstances level enough to release her. It had been a clean exit, and he imagined suddenly being here with him was tumultuous to her, at the very least. He watched her struggle with the moving floor and thought this disheveled persona was more fitting for who she was than the proper woman he'd tried in the restroom not a moment ago. He sucked on his lip again, to remember her boiling mouth.

"Can't say who sent me, you badger, you." he teased as he took out a colorful pill from his pocket and looked at it. It would be clear he wasn't entirely sure what kind of libation he was going to indulge in, here. His green eyes soon turned back to her, beyond the two fingers pinching the medicine. "But I can tell you what I want, scept maybe some time getting to know you." He flipped the pill into his mouth with a snap of those fingers, and grinned widely as he chewed with and open mouth, the glitter innards of the shell putting sparkles on his teeth. His last smile was quite fabulous with all the stars on his incisors and his otherwise red lips.

Already the substance was making its home in his blood through his gums, and he blinked, a little slow, swaying and tossing with the violence of the vehicle before he stabilized and swallowed, licking his mouth inside and out as he stroked his throat. "Nhhh. Yeah, besides that, I want money to fund my continued tour." he said and winked at her, the arch free of glitter again. His hand with the two sentences of Agatha stroked his own cheek and eye as though to rid of some sleepy effect of the drug. "They're good people. Payed seventy percent before to ensure to get my best work." his legs laid down which brought his shoes closer to her. "Thirty on delivery, all expenses paid." As though she was interested in the economy of her exchange.

She was visibly tense - but she bought a lot of composure with it - and he realized he'd rather she not be. Mei Wing Tzeng was a decent girl for the environment she lived in. "They're on loan, the people. They insisted I use their men." He replied and looked her over. "Listen, I'm usually too expensive for amateurs, so maybe that means you're gonna live." he offered and then rubbed his eyebrow, grunting at another hard turn. At least they were a good distance from the restaurant now. Poor Ouran, stuck in the there with her cellphone. He'd seen her put it down on the table.

Lib obviously did not know about her back-up.

-

At the restaurant a careful Aitawa stuck his head into the ladies facilities, wondering about Mei's extended need for it, and was greeted with three women held by their mouths and arms. Someone dragged him in by his hair and the group of black clad fought him silently. Ouran was able to throw a handfull of them down, but the bathroom was now flooded with efficient shadows. Eventually they knocked him to the floor and carried his limp body out the open window, leaving the women who'd come in after Mei unconscious in separate booths.

-

Eventually the thrashing van moved reasonably since it seemed to be going straight. Lib's fingers were singing and he looked at them with some fascination. There were stars in his green eyes. "Ah, this kind of pill, then." he said with a huff through his nose. "You know, they paid me to deliver you, but if you want, I can stick around and see what's what, if it'll make you feel better." He was a flighty person, but always finished what he'd been tasked to. A contract with him was capricious in that you really had to stipulate for all possible outcomes. He took some pride in dancing around rules if it benefited him, but he never broke them. "Maybe you'll remember me fondly then, eh?" he mused as the crunch of gravel gossiped around the tires until a very smooth terrain offered the most comfort the ride had provided so far. The van came to a stop.

Lib extended his hand, the sleeve torn thanks to her struggle, and Agatha in script peeked out at her through the rip. "Here. You can try all the funny business you want, but I at least have to pretend to restrain you."

The doors would open no-matter if she chose to take his hand or have her own crossed behind her back, and her body shoved out.

Underground, by the look of the walls, but a rather large space, abandoned. Military, maybe, and if it was, she only had a few guesses as to her current location, if she knew her history. More men that either hid in hoods or wore masks. Their shoes were polished and some of them wore expensive gloves. Not a far cry from what she was used to on Kou and the people he associated with.

"Mei." one said, white mask with carvings on the forehead, violin details. "This is not some hooligan endeavor, I promise." he said, and his voice was calm, but with that triumphant mockery native to a petty leader's tongue. "Ah, and here comes your leash." he said as another van pulled in. Soon Ouran was dragged out, bound behind his back. "He will die, of course, if you're too unfriendly with us."

He woke soon, and stood up, causing a rather violent scene. She'd not seen him be so efficient with his body before. When he couldn't battle them with tactics, he'd trust on ferocity. But they had him kneeling soon. "Mei!" he called, being tossed in front of her feet. His ruckus might have bought her time at least, without him knowing it.

-

Belou knocked on the door, hand clutched to where his eye had been. Mei wasn't answering her phone, and she kept it mostly for himself and emergencies. The tracking signal had gone out, too. The last ping he'd seen was quite some distance from the city. Desolate forest. It was grounds enough to worry, and then there was this feeling of dread, and a dark excitement from adrenaline that wells during danger. It had brought her to this door, since he didn't know for sure something was the matter. He needed something that wouldn't alarm the rest of the syndicate, but still packed  hard enough punch, and Trace wasn't working tonight.

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #64 on: December 03, 2016, 04:42:22 pm »
Mei was surprised that answered her, for the most part. Though some of his replies were less forthcoming than she’d have liked, it was hardly a point to argue when he hadn’t been obligated to say anything at all. She decided he must not have a personal stake in any of this then, beyond the money. He took the pill like it was candy and she almost wrinkled her nose at the thought of the bitter. An odd one, this Libertine, without a doubt. She didn’t have the luxury of analyzing his character though. If she could file him into ‘possibly willing to let me live’ it was good enough.

She watched the drug do its work, drawing expressions on his face and slow motions from his limbs. Mei thought that was rather unprofessional, to be indulging like that during a job, but it really just made him more concerning. If he hadn’t feared the effects, he must be rather resilient. When the vehicle stopped, she fell forward, catching herself on her forearms, and looking up at Libertine like she hadn’t the slightest what to make of him. “I don’t know if that should make me feel better.” She said dryly, because he was dangerous unless he was fighting on her side and she hadn’t paid him a dime.

Still, she took his hand and let him fold her arms behind her back like some silly game of cops and robbers and stepped as lightly from the van as she could with that restraint. He was not holding her tightly. Mei took it for a kindness of comfort rather than a kindness of aid. Surely he’d subdue her the moment she did test her hold. Mei took a deep breath. Keep a level head.

Her gaze darted between the shady figures that had collected around her. Fine clothes and concealed faces, she wondered for a brief moment whether her brother’s work ever put him behind those masks. If there had been confused men and women that had looked around at her family and friends and feared death from faceless reapers. She set her lips and decided it must not be the case. Only cowards covered their faces. It meant they weren’t sure if she’d give them away. They were either less frightening than they thought or less confident they could hold her. That was probably not entirely true, but it was the sort of thing she thought Ilya or Kou would tell her at a time like this, to keep her from becoming scare. Small smirk.

“I’ll take your word for it.” She said, though her tone said otherwise. That cool exterior faltered when Ouran was dragged out. Mei recovered quickly, but she’d already given herself away. She flinched when he woke up and jerked toward him when he began to fight back, caught between trying to escape toward him and trying to stop him. “Ouran, stop!” she yelled. He was impressive, as she ought to have expected from her brother’s closest men, but it was a losing battle with his restraints and the number that went to further subdue him. She’d rather they both make it out alive.

She did not catch her window immediately, concerned for Aitawa and his struggle, but remembered to take advantage fast enough. Mei struggled, as if she were going to go after Ouran, and slipped one hand free to fumble with her phone in her pocket before Lib had her under control again. She wasn’t sure if she’d successfully reached Belou, but there was hope. She’d made the same call from her pocket on days she wanted his comfort often enough.

-

Trace was silent as she came up behind Belou and snaked her arms over his shoulders, milky limbs and long nails. She perched her head on the Demon’s shoulder and hummed in his ear. “To what do I owe the honor, Belou?” she asked, dark silk voice. The woman moved around him to lean herself in her doorway, though she made no move to open the door itself. “I felt you coming and you look panicked.” She said, folding her arms across her chest. The wine red eyes were burning and she gave him a sharp-toothed smile.

A marvel every time, really, human body with her Angel’s thumbprint etched into every cell. So it went, when the transplants happened early. More so when the Demon Trace was painting the picture. Even Belou could not have said to whom he was speaking to then. Both of them, for all it mattered. Trace had no reason to keep Bel from her home, so she did unlock the door after another moment of studying the blue-haired Demon. She waved him inside. “What has you so ruffled?” Trace seemed to float by, white strands dancing, and took a seat in a leather arm chair. She had a phantom’s aura; something she’d tenderly cultivated. Dangerous and proud of it, because that was her sin.

As if in answer to Trace’s query, Belou’s phone began to ring.

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #65 on: December 03, 2016, 06:37:15 pm »
Libertine held her easily. Mei didn't really toss much on the way out. He thought they had an understanding then. He could afford to throw himself at such assumptions because he would just throw the tip of his shoe into the back of her knee if he was mistaken, and she went running. In the restaurant, by the bathroom mirror, and in the van, he'd liked Mei, he liked her now, but that didn't mean he wouldn't also enjoy testing her bones. Nothing personal, he'd argue. He meant that personal isn't reason for offense, rather.

He also listened to the white mask go on, and smiled behind her, turning his head to the side not to wound any egos, when she replied. He touched his forehead to the back of her head. "Sorry for smelling you so much. I figure it would be intimidating, but I think I like your adrenaline and fear." he confessed. "Maybe when this over, I can treat you to something that's not on a skewer. I'll be flush, thanks to you." If the White Mask disagreed with how Lib contained the quarry, he didn't voice it.

He didn't mind when she thrashed upon seeing the other captive. It was expected, how she'd practically grown up with Ouran. Lib was impressed at how Aitawa handled himself. Knowledge over talent, but it was good knowledge, having been in this kind of life for long enough to have engraved it into the marrow. Some police reports Lib had seen in research suggested this. Lib didn't work nearly as regularly as syndicate people, and trusted to his training while Oran treated this more like a trade. Lib would say he was an artist while the leg-men he lumped Ouran with were more like calloused laborers. He was so engaged with the scuffle he realized rather late she had her arm free, and that the others were displeased with it. He rolled his eyes to catch the arm again, but didn't squeeze her harder for it.

Lib looked around when they expected some kind of surrender from the battered man from having been forced to kneel before the girl he was tasked with to protect and also seemed to fancy. Ouran was fast to look her over, and came closer on his knees. Lib frowned and promptly, accidentally loosened his sure grip so she could offer the man some comfort. Not that the hired hand was bleeding from his chemically marinated heart, but he thought Mei might appreciate the small reprieve. Ouran sure as hell would.

Eventually Lib did have to bring her back, and Ouran finally noticed the assailant from the restaurant. "You! I saw you!" But he was not allowed to stand and deliver punishment. It was strange how formidable the friendly man had become. Maybe Lib would drink to his spine later. "What do you want? I have access to money in these cases. Just say a price." Ouran said out at the still bodies watching.

"All of it." White Mask said, and Ouran's jaw grew, but he didn't offer retort. "We don't want your treasures. We would like the kingdom." And the certainty was in a solid tone. "We're an arm of Strada. We actually keep the books, so you understand we're not lacking in funds." Lib wondered if that meant their hands were manicured under the leather gloves. "This is just an offensive, and insult. A deceleration."

Ouran sighed and dropped his head before looking up at Mei again. "I'm sorry."

-

Belou leaned into her sudden touch and smiled to himself, his sin already running along his nerves to indulge. His ear reveled in her voice and then turned his head to be closer, to see if she wanted more than to bring uproar into his nerves. His reaction probably fed her sin more than his, he realized, and her question brought him back to his mission. He followed in and closed the door behind him. Ruffled, yes, and for once it was unpleasant.

His one eye was luminescent, vibrating between the azure lashes as he looked at her in the chair. "I need your help." he said and hurried to stand infront of her. Belou, contrary to Ouran, was made to kneel often, and didn't mind it at all. He rested his cheek on her lap to look up at her. Pride does well with worship, as does vanity, and Lust does well on the floor. "Would you please..."

The phone brought him out of the moment, and he slapped it to his ear. Would it bother Trace to have him by her feet, arm resting in her lap while he was occupied with another? Soon he flicked the screen to share the scene with her. His hand covered his mouth and there were dramatic tears saturating the low of his lids. When his fingers fell from his lips he mouthed 'help me' with desperation, and looked at her.

-

"You're going to burn, idiots." Ouran muttered. He didn't know if he was posturing or if this was the only persona he had available for this kind of situation, having seen Kou beaten and low so many times. Would Ouran have the energy to push through simply because he'd been taught to? "You're going to live this little scene and then you're going to be tinder." Even the words were from Kou. "And then I'll hate you because I have to clean this shit up. And it's my night off." The arrogance didn't contradict his expression, but he thought to himself that perhaps he could have delivered it better in a suit. He wondered if Mei thought differently of him, then.

"You sound so sure, Aitawa." White Mask said as he leaned his elbow against a large helper. Teddy's size. Ouran missed Teddy now, as he stood close to Mei. They didn't bring him back to the floor, this time. "And you should be, with Tzeng's resources. But you see, we have enough to go to war, but were simply using it to keep this perimeter. This is just retribution and a statement. The real fight comes later. All we have to do is decide if you're going to live or die, Mei. Any preferences?" Ouran shook his head as though they were children going on about a story they'd heard. Nobody was lifting a gun to underline the threat, either.

"You'll be alright, Mei. They're not going to hurt you." he whispered. "I'll fix this." he wanted to touch her, or lean into her, or fight every man that surrounded them, but he knew he had to hold back his heart and pride so he could think.

Lib smirked to Ouran's credit, and let the two be, but stayed close.

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #66 on: December 04, 2016, 06:19:45 am »
Mei half ignored Lib’s suggestions in the background, his voice near her shoulder was oddly reassuring. At least his voice had a face and a name. It was a bit sad, the sorts of things that could bring comfort when you became desperate for it. When Ouran had appeared, he’d stolen what little attention Libertine had commanded of her.

She didn’t know what to do when Ouran’s offers of money seemed to fall short. It was difficult to pay ransom on a sentiment and their captors seemed more interested in sending messages than collecting paper. Mei shook her head when Aitawa apologized. He would not have been dragged here if she had not been with him. Ouran was dear to the syndicate because he was dear to Kou, but he was not a symbol. Ouran would not move Daddy the way Mei would. Ouran should not be apologizing. Mei gave him a tight brave smile. “Don’t be. This is a very exciting date.” She said.

They had said Strada, which Mei recognized from things Kou had said and Ilya had mentioned and her father had marked on documents about the nearby cities. She was not in the full circle of information, blocked out like it was chivalrous to keep her in the dark when it put her own and her family’s lives at stake. Mei had never been bitter about that detail; it was a feature of the business and family couldn’t mean trust when loose lips landed bodies on the doorstep. Now, she couldn’t help but feel it was a bit unfair. She’d told Ouran it was good not to know too much, but she didn’t feel like she could swallow her own parroted advice. Not knowing left her unable to bargain for her own life and Aitawa’s and she found that frustrating.

Mei would have a talk with Daddy when this was all over. She was certain it was time to commit to her future plans.

Ouran was wearing a ferociousness that seemed foreign to Mei, but she could accept it because she’d not seen him work before. There were two sides to all the men she held dear, after all. Still, she was certain that it had been trained into him and not born if it was his and not an imitation. The specifics didn’t matter in their current situation, but Mei thought nothing would make her happier than to see Ouran leave to open a restaurant on the edge of town after this. After this, after this. She thought she must be scared if she was having to convince herself of future plans.

Mei thought of Suri, and it made her nauseous to consider relying on that woman’s advice. But Suri had not gotten to her place by being stupid. She shouldn’t be wasting time convincing herself this ordeal would end. She should be convincing someone else to help her. A muttered curse under her breath and she cast an apologetic glance in Ouran’s direction. She wasn’t sure if he saw it, though. Perhaps Belou would be proud of her.

“Lib, you could help this along and take me out sooner, don’t you think? This won’t be shocking forever. At the very least, you can keep them from messing with the goods, right?” she murmured, turning her head to glance back at Libertine as best she could. She leaned back a little to contact his chest. She could feel her own heart hammering and she was sure he must feel it too, holding her hands. Would he like the rise and fall of her breath, too? “I don’t know; kidnappings can get boring after a little while.” She continued, soft, though she was sure the white-masked man must be able to catch bits. That part didn’t matter. He already had Libertine in his pocket, she was the only one offering anything new.

“Do what you need to and get your money, then you’re free to do what you want, right?” She tried. Mei stopped when she realized Aitawa had finished his grandstanding and White Mask was talking. The men with him were large, and the fellow was enjoying bringing attention to it. She pressed herself a little closer against Libertine. The man was talking to her then.

“I mean, that’s a dumb question, Mister Mask. Not to be rude or anything.” Mei hung her head to the side, fall of hair over Lib’s arm. “You know enough about me, right? You’ve already got me stolen away, what’s the point of being condescending?” She smiled sweetly. She’d had enough practice to pull that much off. “We both know what I want, so can’t you just tell me how I can have my way? I’m spoiled and whatever.” It was an effort to talk back like that, acting unimpressed like she’d been kidnapped a thousand times before, and she had begun to tremble a little. Somehow, now her back against Libertine’s body wasn’t all for show, but also for stability now. But, if Aitawa was going to hold stance and remain unafraid, she’d be dammed if she didn’t keep up with that much.

She met Ouran’s gaze. “I know you will. We’ll be okay.” She murmured back. “As long as we aren’t hasty.”

-

Trace had tucked one knee neatly below the other, watching Belou as he rushed to follow her. She’d not seen the Demon so unhappy before. Lust was generally amenable to the Fall; it simply made it easier to have its way, after all. A luxurious existence without a care, if that’s what it wanted. It piqued her interest. He must have wanted her help very bad to be playing so fast at this game. His head in her lap, she touched his blue strands. Lust and Pride bred Vanity violent. They were the sort of sins that could stir up storms together, if left idle for too long. “Of course you need my help.” She answered him as the phone rang.

Under most circumstances, she would have been annoyed that his attention was diverted so quickly. But Belou’s expression had said this was not most circumstances the moment he’d rounded the corner of her hall. Lust liked to please, too, and such a blatant affront to her ego would not have been the usual course. Pride was the most beautiful of sins because it was exceptional against all others. She did not have to pretend she was in a microcosm of self. She wasn’t that delicate. For that reason, Trace was pleased with herself for remaining quiet and thoughtful when he answered the phone.

He was, at least, kind enough to share the distraction quickly. Even Trace did not seem to like the look of what she saw, mostly black and obscured by Mei’s sweater, but strange bodies and Aitawa’s bound arms were briefly visible. The audio, too, quickly confirmed what the shoddy video could not provide. Trace brought a finger to her lips, though Bel had already had the sense to remain quiet. She hardly paid heed to his mouthed request, listening intently to the half-muffled audio. A faint smirk, because her pupil was being cocky and it suited her.

The two Demons listened in breathless silence for some time, and then the phone must have slipped further into Mei’s pocket and the rustling fabric began to erode the fidelity of the other sounds. Trace plucked the phone out of Bel’s hand and hung up. “That’s unfortunate for Miss Wing.” She said, and she seemed caught somewhere between annoyance and eager. “Somebody did their job poorly.” Trace sighed. Trace cared about herself and about the syndicate. The rest could go to hell. “Are you upset because they have your eye, or because Miss Wing is in a poor state?” Trace asked then, though she had already stood and brushed Belou’s arm from her lap.

She was shedding clothes as she spoke to him, heading for her room to put on something more suited to a special occasion. This was, after all, a special occasion. Trace stretched in anticipation before her closet. She really hated when the syndicate got put on the back foot for any reason, but in some sense that was what she was there for. Trace liked work. “Either way, I’ll get the princess back and Mister Wing’s guard dog too.” She was grinning, eyes bright like blood and burning. “Just so. I’ll make it pretty. We’ll see who sends whom a message.”

Trace laughed. “Find someone to lend a hand, Belou. There were a lot of them there and I’ve got to babysit Miss Wing at the same time.” She paused and looked back to meet his gaze if he’d followed her into her room and to call to the door if he hadn’t. “Somebody besides Mister Wing. You can let Mister Wing know after I get there.” Another laugh.




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Re: Guts.
« Reply #67 on: December 04, 2016, 03:21:33 pm »
Ouran smiled, almost with his eyes. Yes, this date was exciting. He wanted to hold her and walk out of here. He didn't want her to feel the weight of what she was. Most other criminal bodies had other ambitions, and those that might try something like this had either been absorbed into the syndicate long ago, or frightened to apathy or even snuffed like a temperamental, breathing animal by the sea. Suddenly Ouran was certain Mei would make it out, because too many forces were defined by protecting her. He counted himself among them. At least, if she was hurt, he'd not be alive to see it.

"It can't be the main family of Strada." he said to her when the White Mask was not speaking. Which meant if this was a rouge arm, or something that would be described as one, gnawed off, if this endeavor failed. Ouran wondered if Mr. Tzeng would let such an excuse be. Strada's leaders would not turn a blind eye to so many resources, even if the money-movers could create some freedoms for themselves. He thought it was odd, the way Mei looked at him before she turned to the ominous, jackal-mouthed captor. Ouran understood soon, and didn't know what to do about it. It was uncomfortable to be jealous and worried all at once.

Lib wasn't late to meet her body with his. He knew which reflexes he ought to suppress and which indulgences he could afford. He wasn't some new-hearted schoolboy that thought of Mei when they should be reading the basics of science and history, but he had their urges, too. Lib squeezed the cross of her wrists a bit tighter. It was affectionate, or interested, more than it was to assert dominance. The air that traveled over her lips sounded very inviting to him. "I am actually off work now, since you're asking." he said. "It's they who should be working for me now, producing my payment. Thirty percent is still thirty percent." he whispered back. "Right now I'm just staying to see how this plays out." Smart girl with a smart body. He didn't promise to be on her side, though that's what she was being sweet for, but he didn't decline, either. Grateful throes were a delicacy not always available to his fleshward palled. Perhaps he was intentionally not asking for his money so he had a professional way of revolting if it fit his whims better.

"Oh, I like you, Mei." White Mask said as Lib's finger came out from the lock he had on her hands to stroke her spine through her clothes. It was being curious, probably wondering what more he could have from her but the kiss before, but it could also give her some comfort for that frantic pulse of hers. "And this is rather outside of your involvement, despite engulfing you so suddenly. If you stay your pleasant self, you can be a statement without bruises and missing limbs."

Ouran tensed at this. It was a bleak future, and White Mask seemed disconcerted enough to see it happen if it fit his mood. Ouran wasn't sure about the tactics of this group, but perhaps it was more dangerous that they did not entirely grasp the magnitude of their game. He had seen Kou do business with this kind of person before. Their bravado was as important to them as their lives. If this did not go as they planned, they might very well decide on something volatile and terminal. "I think you will be disappointed at the statements made here." Ouran warned.

-

Bel had kept his eye on Trace for the duration of the time the phone kissed his ear, to make sure she was still felt important. Despite his privileged position, enjoying some freedoms under the seal of Mr. Tzeng himself - Lust is an important ingredient in both pleasure-house sales and negotiations - he was not above groveling. In fact, some days, he would do nothing else because that was what he wanted. His attention was almost better fixed on her when they shared the crackling information his screen and speaker gave. Belou wanted to know if Trace was worried too. She was not.

Somebody had done their job poorly. "I don't care about my eye." he said quite honestly. "Some of my highest bidders like to take parts of me. It is a charm that I have." he said and wiggled his fingers, as though to offer them for any desire Trace might have. Would it speak to her that he'd be willing to be mutilated for her enjoyment, or was just an affront to offer something others had before her? It was clear then, that Belou was here for Mei's sake, and not because his eye had been whisked away with her.

He was very worried when Trace killed the link, but her confidence was contagious. Belou was left in awe when she stripped, wondering if she would treat him to some of his favorite things before going to work. He crawled closer on his hands and knees, like an animal having caught scent. Instead of any of this fantasies of shoving her into her closet and compromising her so much he could have his way, or roll on his back to let her have hers, she dressed. He was grateful to sit and see it happen, grinning at her promises.

"Oh, listen to you, Trace. Employee of the month."

He was quick to stand wand walk away with his phone when she gave him the order. No time to question her methods. He still felt as though she might change her mind if he was not compliant.

-

Ilya sat with a ceramic case laid across his lap. The little buss was filled with his guards. The phone call from Bel had been brief but informative. Ilya had mobilized as many of his men as he could without questions from either Kou or Tzeng. Because of the nature of this ordeal, Ivena was brought along, too. Ilya wasn't paranoid, but he was sentimental, and a bit superstitious. It was not smart to ignore the safety of Ivena when he came to rescue Mei. Everyone had been allowed to bring whatever arsenal they could carry, his sister included, even though he wasn't planning to let her do anything with it.

"Sorry about the tartare, sestre." he said. He'd been transparent with her, and she'd not objected to coming along.

-

"This one is behaving a little like a runner." Lib said, pointing from above at Mei's head. A childish gesture. Lib was comfortable with not being serious in serious situations. Ouran beside her wrinkled his face in anger. The way he'd seen Mei talk to this one, he'd thought at least he had a heart. "Mind if I work her over, after all? Can't promise no bruises, but I assure you its better than her doing something stupid during whatever exchange you're planning. Call it a precaution."

"Mr. Libertine." White Mask scolded, disappointed. "Right after I said she'd be treated queenly." Playful voice. His word was probably worth nothing. "Are you sure she won't be a good girl?"

"From what I read, she's going to be good after she gets close and claws out your spine by way of your trachea, sir." Lib answered and was already tugging her toward a unit that looked like either storage or an office.

"Alright. You are our expert." White Mask said with some condolences to her. Many of the black clad seemed disheartened. It was likely their hopes had been set on doing Lib's work themselves.

"You too, Leash." Lib said without looking back at Ouran. The Tzeng enforcer was quick to come along, and hurried when he thought he saw an encouraging grin over Lib's shoulder. Ouran was not so hopeful when the man with script lining his windpipe shoved Mei roughly through the door, but still hurried in before he closed it.

"Hope you don't mind." Lib whispered into her ear, leaving her hands be among the old desks and chairs as the few functioning pipes in the ceiling went on to give them harsh light. "Egos like that tend to do their worst in waiting. Figured I like you pretty more than I like you ripped up." he said and then threw Ouran a glance when the man was obviously getting ready to tackle the kidnapper. Lib sat on a desk and fished out a curiously rolled cigarette and a match. "Let's just hang out here while they throw their weight around, yah?"

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #68 on: December 04, 2016, 06:10:59 pm »
Ivena nodded at her brother but said little, a small handgun in hand and a knife hung around her neck. They were emergency precautions, in the same way bringing her on this endeavor was. She shouldn’t have to be here and she shouldn’t have to act. Ivena breathed slow and steady. She was worried for Mei and worried to be in this car of heavily armed men and worried to see Ilya be anything but beautiful and sweet, her silly petulant brother. Ivena understood all these facets of her world but had taken such care to insulate herself. It didn’t suit what she wanted for herself and her family. She hoped she be able to stay hidden in the back of the vehicle; Ilya wouldn’t complain about that plan, certainly.

“Be safe, zaika moy, and bring back Mei safe too.” Ivena said quietly, some way through the trip. They were heading toward a rendezvous point with the Tzeng syndicate’s prized punisher, a remote spot at the edge of the city where old buildings gave way to pseudo-rural field and forest. There used to be mines out there. One or two of Ilya’s dark spaces for passing judgment were tucked in those trees too. Belou had not been able to give them much more information than that, but promised further details upon meeting. If it hadn’t been Mei on the line and Belou hadn’t been trustworthy with his care for that girl, surely her brother would have been deeply suspicious of the request. It didn’t matter whether or not their family played nice with Tzeng usually or not. Ivena wondered if he’d have moved as quickly if it had been Kou that called. She wanted to think so, but it bothered her that she couldn’t be entirely sure.

-

Trace had left Belou in her apartment with his cell phone and instructions to wait for a message to alert Mr. Wing and Mr. Tzeng. She wanted the time to get to work before the two men came in with their own plans and less appreciation for her desired results. She’d seemed almost giddy as she’d zipped herself into some sleek leather number and accessorized with more blades than any rational human being should need. She’d slipped a set of pretty spiked knuckled over her fingers like she was donning fine rings and admired them in the mirror before she left. “Don’t worry your pretty little head too much,” she’d told Bel with that shark-like smile. Sharp hungry teeth and dark red lips.

She was waiting for Ilya’s vehicles with some anticipation, perched in a thickly plumed tree and peering down at the large black SUVs as they pulled into the denser foliage. There was a small logging camp here, abandoned long enough ago that the forest had largely recovered. Their city ran on currencies of human innovation and silicon chips now, mostly. The land around had been left to reclaim its natural bounty as they’d begun shipping in supplies from other scarred places. Trace liked Ilya and had been glad he’d been on the receiving end of Bel’s call. She had less regard for his small criminal ring than the empire she worked for, but she respected his efforts. He’d continue to grow, she thought, and Mr. Tzeng seemed to like him.

Ilya seemed to have an eye for aesthetics too, when he carried out business. Trace appreciated that.

She dropped from the tree before any of the three vehicles had begun to slow much, placing herself such that the first of them was forced to hit the brakes a bit harder than was comfortable to avoid hitting her. Trace patted the hood of the car when it did come to a stop some inches from her. She leaned to the side and waved at the vehicle second in line, where she’d spied Ilya’s light mane of hair through the tinted windows. Little Miss Vladenko seemed to be along for the ride too. That seemed less exciting, but Trace wasn’t about to be bothered by the decisions of other groups.

“Mister Vladenko,” Trace said when Ilya eventually stepped out of his vehicle. “I appreciate you taking the time out of your evening.” She said. She would waste little time sharing the information she felt necessary to give him. They were very near the spot Bel’s phone had last picked up Mei’s tracking signal, which put them in reasonable proximity to her present location given the way it had all timed out. She’d heard footsteps and had a good guess at the sort of place those steps had been clapping around in, she wanted Ilya and his men to go as if they were planning to rescue Mei on their own. Pretend she was just a source of information, really, and ignore her otherwise. If his men could remember not to take shots at her when they inevitably crossed paths at their next stop, that would be nice too.

“I’ve told Belou to wait for my call, but to get a hold of Mister Wing and Mister Tzeng after. You shouldn’t be scuffling on your own for long after that.” She handed him a paper with some coordinates scribbled for him. “I’ll see you around, Mister Vladenko. Do keep your little koshka tucked away nice and tight, too. It’s harder to keep people alive than make them dead, I think.” She waved, pulled up a dark hood, and then bounded off without waiting for Ilya to answer her. Moments later, her bike flew around the corner of one of the dilapidated buildings and she was streaking off through the trees.

-

Mei followed Libertine willingly enough, though she did struggle a bit. It was for appearances more than any concerted effort, and she was certain Lib would know well enough. If he didn’t, she figured he’d not care much either. There was some relief in the tightness of her chest when she saw that Ouran was playing along well too. These Strada men were so damn cocky. It annoyed her and made her want to stay just to match that arrogance. It was better not to be stupid about things though.

When they were tucked away in the office, Mei had expected Libertine to be a bit lax. She hadn’t expected to be let go entirely. She was quick to Ouran’s side and threw her arms around him, half out of relief and half to keep Aitawa from offending the closest thing they had to an ally right now. “At least someone appreciates it,” she said, touching her face as she stepped away from Aitawa. “I’ll be pretty regardless, I assure you, but it’s certainly my preference not to be mangled. This is all really inconvenient. How much is that thirty percent you’re waiting on anyway?” She asked, walking over to take Lib’s match and box from his hand to strike it for him.

She was sure they could offer him more to make up for getting them out sooner, and she’d be willing to stay with him until the payment went through, even, if it would secure Ouran a way to go for help. She still had no indication her call had been successful. She lit his little poison the same way she did for her brother and flicked the flame out on the match before handing him back the matchbox. “You’re an interesting man, aren’t you?” she hummed. Mei knew there was a fine line between using another person and striking a bargain. Everyone in that room was well aware she’d only be so interested because it might buy her safety and freedom, but it was rude to drop the act once a little kindness had been paid back. Mei was really, incredibly, and completely interested in running off with Lib until this whole thing was over and she’d given whatever it was she owed. Reciprocity was the charm of this kind of ego stroking. 

-

Trace arrived in short time, having dropped off her bike a half mile away in a thick copse of trees. She found the downward leading tunnel and fresh tire tracks at its mouth by foot. She was close enough. Even by direct route, it would take Mr. Wing and anybody else from the syndicate the better part of a half hour to reach this point. Beyond that, they’d link up with Ilya’s group before moving on. That was plenty of time to do the damage she wanted. She slipped out her cellphone and sent a message to Belou, telling him the coordinates to send off to Mei’s family. “Hold on tight, Miss Wing,” she was practically singing when she darted off into the tunnel, running along the wall in well-practiced silence.


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Re: Guts.
« Reply #69 on: December 04, 2016, 09:12:29 pm »
"I am always safe." Ilya said and smiled back at her. His hand ran over the surface of the case in his lap as though it was her assurance. It was a good look on her, those weapons, and he'd made sure she knew them well. Choreography was close to Ivena's heart, and he'd taken time to instruct her in a way that her other skills were useful. Those were tools for nimble people, the largest caliber her wrists could take, and the knife was surgical, the way she knew it. Of course, he'd never let her test her skills on the field, which he regretted a bit now.

Coming out of the vehicle after the rude stop, he nodded at Trace. "Trace. Weapon Cousin." He respected her for what he knew she could do, and also because Mr. Tzeng made use of her quite often. It didn't mean Ilya could trust her completely, but it meant she was competent, and that was all they needed now. He listened without many expressions as she gave them pertinent instructions. His men looked to him and he read the note he'd been given. They started moving when he did, checking the closest GPS device from one of his guards. Ilya was in a suit, of course, his tailoring, famously spacious rather than skin-close, hid the vest well. Leather gloves and army boots. The case was on his back and extended far up.

"Thank you, Trace." he said. She'd agreed with his plan to keep Ivena in the car. It made him feel better about it, himself. "Pleasure to work with you, always." And then he left three with his sister to travel the short distance by foot.

-

Ouran relaxed a little when Lib lost interest to pretend, in here. It was a deceptive place, this little shed to the side, because danger was still real outside. At least they could speak freely. He still didn't like this person too much, but realized he would be instrumental in Mei's continued safety. It was preferable to a more stoic hired help. Mei's burning match washed Lib's face in orange and black, which almost had Ouran rush to her side again, the gaunt and sinister image it made, but she took the fire away, leaving only the ember at the end of the roll.

Lib drew deeply, so hard there was a small fire again, before breath from his nose snuffed it with thick waves of smoke. It would be clear, the way he let the vapor escape, and how hard he'd pulled at it, that he liked to waste things, that it was part of the pleasure for him. "Mhm." he agreed. Pretty regardless, yes. He looked at her, weighing whether he should name his price or not. "Thirty k. I kind of set the price before I knew who you were." he held the roll out to her and would then nod to Ouran, if she thought he should have some, since he'd need her help with that, then. Lib shrugged. "I don't usually listen very closely at briefings." he admitted. His fingers closed around the box she returned and he put it back into his pocket with a quick flick of his wrist.

He smiled through the fading ghost of his exhaled vice at her. "Sure, mafia princess." he replied and leaned closer from where he sat. "So interesting you won't be able to forget me, I'm sure." he said and tapped a finger with Agatha's voice onto the corner of her lip. "are you interesting, Mei?" he asked and heard Ouran move closer.

"More than you can handle." Aitawa assured the veritable stranger as he did take a taste from the roll with Mei's assistance. "So, any way you'd take a counter offer? I can easily multiply what they owe by ten, and throw in some favors." Ouran said, breath calm for the drag he'd taken. Kou and the other princes liked to compete in every game the pleasure-houses had to offer, and Ouran and Teddy were always stuck on Kou's team. "I think you would rather be welcome in all our establishments than barred."

Lib looked at Mei then, eyebrows jerking once to tell her he was impressed by the offer. "This guy, yeh?" he said to her and then stole his smoke back with a wide gesture of his arm. "Favors? Oh, I fucking love those." he said and bit into the end of the paper. "Let's say I take the offer, throw away my professional credence, could I start right away?" This left Ouran confused until Lib wrapped an arm around Mei. He slid back to sit fully on the desk so he could place her on his lap. It was more playful than it was intimate, but the way Lib pushed his lips and nose into her hair made up for that.

Ouran was about to bound forward, hands still stuck behind his back, when Lib extended his leg to rest his sole onto Ouran's chest.

"Kidding, Aitawa." he said, mouth full of her scent, and it was either the smoke or her perfume that had his eyes hazy. "Lighten up. You just expect me to start doing you, even if the price is right? Give a guy some foreplay, wouldya?" he shifted in a way that would let Mei slide back onto the floor if she wanted. "Look at Mei here. She's got the right idea." he added as he wrapped his arm around her neck slowly in order to bring the dying roll to his lips again. It looked possessive in a casual way. "Some wining-and-dining, you know, to loosen me up." he said, vapor of tar and leaves billowing against her ear. "You want me loose, don't you, Aitawa?"

-

There were many guards waiting for any kind of attempt at siege. Though they were not expecting company very soon, unaware of the brigade sneaking through toward them now. One guards placed on either side of the last mouth, each with a booth that connected to the adjacent, indoors facility. Above the entrance, there was a small vent.

Well inside men were placed out sporadically, a show of great numbers that came with good recommendations, but atrocious planning. After all, they were not in formation yet. They would become a rather efficient army once the signal was given, but right now it was unnecessary to be too cautious, and it seemed to please White Mask to be so arrogant. They could not know the Syndicate they were prodding had already taken measures to retaliate and retrieve their princess.

-

Kou and Teddy were alone in the car, bags rattling behind them at every turn. He'd not said a word to Teddy since they'd received the message from Belou. Teddy wondered if Wei had been proud over the quiet madness in Kou's eyes and the small set of his lip, then. Far behind them a convoy of other black cars were trying to weave as efficiently as Kou.

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #70 on: December 05, 2016, 06:09:16 am »
Trace moved silently, dark mask pulled up and hood drawn so she was a pair of softly glowing carmine drops easing down the hall. Something fluid, shadow with leather, and then she paused. She felt the flick of a hair across her forehead, air blowing quietly from the ventilation, and she looked up. Soft-foot leap, fingers around the grate rungs and a confident pull. If she brought it down straight and swift the noise was minimal. An animal scurrying overhead or a car driving over the low sloping hill under which this tunnel ran. She tucked the small grate between her thighs and sprang upward again, reaching to hook her hands into the upper space and heave herself into the ventilation. Once inside, she placed the grate neatly back into place after her. It was not deformed too badly.

She was her Demon when she crawled forward, slinking through the ventilation shaft on her wrists and knees.

The transplants integrated better when they happened young. Little orphaned girl confined to a chair, struck down by a careless driver without a name. A spinal cord graft that shimmered like mercury and contaminated everything it could reach, new neurons synapsing with silver fire, Trace had learned to walk and then run. Then she learned to climb and hide and kill. Her red autumn hair gave way to a frosty winter and summer blue eyes turned with the seasons too. Always following was a shadow that grew fond and then married her spine too. Trace had never met her Demon beyond herself.

She was quick because Angels moved on whatever plane they wished, and her cells had denied their fall as anything but evolution. Trace passed over one grate and then another and finally found something of interest under the third. That vent was opened with care and the slim figure pushed herself down, feet first. A blade in either hand caught their chins as quickly as she caught their eyes. The two men pulled their guns quickly, so she dropped her knives as fast and ducked low to force them to compensate, sweeping a leg out wide to catch the left guard off balance. He stumbled, but did not fall, and his partner was grabbed her hood to pull her up.

Trace followed the motion and then some, throwing her head back with his arm to carry them both off footing just as the first guard had recovered. The recovered man shouted for backup and took a silenced shot at her head; Trace jerked and the bullet found his partner’s arm instead. The Demon was smiling behind her face mask. The man who’d taken the lead cursed and gasped, releasing her hood as he reeled to the side, giving her enough time to barrel toward the man who’d shot so that her knuckles collided with his bleeding chin as her shoulder met his gut. Her free hand shot out for the gun and snapped the wielding wrist for its effort.

She made quick work of the two after that, recovering her knives and carving a mess of their dark suits like it was a dance. Blood on her cheek, but it wasn’t hers. Trace was a perfectionist and these paltry two weren’t worth baring her veins. She could hear footsteps coming. She took an eye from each along with their guns, because she thought maybe Belou would at least appreciate the poetry of it. The eyes were placed neatly in one another’s hands and she hauled herself quickly back into the ventilation shaft to rain a quick succession of shots down on the men who came to their fallen comrades’ aid. Trace took the time to drop back down and take eyes for exchange off of them as well, arranging them all in a neat row and tugging her facemask down long enough to steal a bloody kiss off the last of those five before slinking off down the right hallway.

-

Mei was calm in his lap and she huffed lightly when he nosed her hair near her throat. “Interesting enough that you’d regret missing out, I think.” Said, running her fingers over his leg. “Let’s be honest, I’m like a collector’s item. It doesn’t matter if I’m interesting or not.” She said, but it wasn’t humble. Mei shifted so she was sure he had a reasonable view down the top of the pretty white dress Ivena had picked and moved her palm a little higher up his thigh. “I won’t lie to you, it’s a selfish suggestion. I think I’d be winning in more ways than one, but you’d be winning too. That’s kind of fair.” She giggled and took a deep breath of his exhaled fog. It was different from Kou’s, not tobacco she was familiar with, and she was certain she’d caught the hint of it in some of her father’s darker lounges before.

“I was worried you were only into chemical vices. It’d be nice if we could work something out that would be fun for all of us.” Mei suggested. She turned her head so her long eyelashes caught the bridge of his nose, breath on his cheek. She wished Ouran wasn’t there to watch her. It made her feel like she ought to be ashamed when she knew she wasn’t.

She leaned into his hold. Honestly, under different circumstances, she could probably even get into this. It was helpful for her then, because acting was better when it was at least a little bit honest. Would it be confusing for Belou, who had often claimed he could feel her pleasure too? “He’s not lying though, Lib. We could make it more than worth your while, if money was all you were after.” Mei sighed, still speaking into the corner of his lips and the roll there. “But I don’t know if that’s the case. Either way, you weren’t exactly a shining example of how to woo a lady, either. I wouldn’t mind it if you proved me wrong on that count.” Sing-song, a tone curiously close to the one she used when she was half-teasing Kou. Mei bit her lower lip and looked up at him through her lashes, the blue ring fracturing between the dark curves.

“Or maybe I’m underestimating you? The kidnapping thing could be a turn-on, done right. You’re not doing too bad, at that.” She laughed again. She wasn’t so tense anymore. This sort of space was comfortable. Mei knew how to navigate this kind of game. Everything outside the little office could be ignored if she focused on here.

-

Trace was sitting in a dead man’s lap in an office several doors away from the one that led into the large hanger room Mei and Ouran had been driven into. Her route had become circuitous and she’d had to remind herself a few times that she’d asked Ilya here to handle most of this mess. She was supposed to be focusing on the important stuff. But she was having such a ball. With Ilya’s arrival in mind, she took extra care with her bodies. She’d been using the guns she’d picked up more than she liked, but speed had been of the essence. Which didn’t necessarily bode well for her lounging on her present bloody corpse as she waited for the next set of footsteps to arrive. She was bleeding too now; the generally inferior level of prowess closing the gap with sheer numbers roving the halls. They were clearly mobilizing with better organization now, which really meant it was time to move on. She wasn’t sure how annoyed the orchestrator of this whole ordeal might be and what that could mean for Miss Wing and the Dog.

A single shot to the head when the woman tried to peek around the corner and level a shot at Trace. Trace gasped. It had been so precisely centered. It was perfect. She rushed over to the woman and took out her cellphone to snap a quick selfie with the picturesque hole in her forehead. Trace climbed back up into the vents and went on, scrolling through her phone with one hand to find somebody good to send her photo to. Eventually, she settled on Belou, who wouldn’t appreciate it as much as she’d want him to, but it was better than nothing.

Soon, she left the ventilation shafts to climb through the web of open beams strung through the large hanger room that seemed, now, to be used as a warehouse. White Mask was still hanging around with a cadre of much larger men than she’d dealt with so far. There was no Miss Wing or Ouran, though. The man with the white mask seemed to be agitated, at least, which was pleasing. It meant her work was being noticed, naturally. The small standing structure, like a foreman’s office, caught her eye and she spidered closer. If she listened very carefully, she thought she might hear Mei’s voice inside. It was a good enough guess for Trace to act on it.

It wasn’t too hard to sneak to the door unnoticed, once she’d found a convenient way of dropping down to the ground. Trace was good at sinking into the shadows when she wanted to and better at standing out, which was what she liked to do even more. Either way, she valued a good entrance. This time, she opted for simplicity, because she did feel she was doing this as a favor to Belou. That meant she ought to be keeping Belou’s interests at least somewhat in mind. Trace knocked very lightly once on the door and then let herself into the office.

“Miss Wing. Aitawa.” Trace said, slipping in and shutting the door behind her with a slight bow. But then her red eyes were on Lib. She tilted her head to the side slightly. Miss Wing was in the strange man’s lap, after all. “You weren’t kidnapped too. So what exactly are you?” she asked. It was genuine curiosity. She’d been scolded on occasion for killing things before learning where they’d come from. There was a slim possibility this man was one of Tzeng’s in some way. “Am I supposed to kill you?” 


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Re: Guts.
« Reply #71 on: December 05, 2016, 07:43:29 pm »
He breathed along with the rhythm of her hand mapping out his leg, until that exhale was ragged in her ear. It was a shallow touch, but Lib liked to invent things where they weren't, or help them along when they were vague, and it was easy to set Mei's touch on fire in his mind. He wasn't going to waste any potential pleasures in this life. So he followed her body down the open of the dress with his eyes and swallowed loudly when her hand traveled higher on him. She was honest with her words, too, and he might like that most of all this sweetness she was putting forth. "I like fair." he added and took the roll out of his mouth to stroke her throat with the end he liked to suck, dipping it into her jugular notch and sliding it down as far as that dress would let him. Before the other end could burn the fabric, he lifted and took another drag, as though the smoke would be flavored by her skin now.

Lib leaned into her lashes when they tickled him, hand hanging with the burning stick away from her. This kind of negotiation was her forte, then. "Aren't we having fun already?" he asked and opened his mouth, then slowly clipping exposed teeth just shy of her lips. The lit favor was in the corner of his mouth that her breath wasn’t. He wanted badly to kiss her and burn them both. “Money, chemicals, girls in pretty dresses. I take travelers checks, too. I just want to feel appreciated for my good honest work.”

He laughed and it almost seared her cheek then, with their privacy heightened like this. He took care to ash onto the floor, away from them. How romantic, not to ruin her skin. “What, running after you into the lavatories wasn’t a good move? Ah, that’s my entire routine.” And then he held his breath, seeing her lip in her teeth. He liked that quite a bit, and dabbed his fingertips curiously to where that petal had been, burning vice farther away on the same hand. It was fast becoming their flag. “I do give good kidnapping, don’t I?” he mumbled.

Ouran had taken steps away, trying to hear what was going on outside the door, and also very uncomfortable with Mei’s apparent plan, even though she was really helping his own bartering. “What the lady is trying to say is, you could be rich…” Upon looking back for eye contact, Lib had already pushed his lips to Mei’s. Ouran turned toward the door again, concentrating on listening instead of leaving his heart there, on the table with them.

Lib squeezed her close and kissed her with more enthusiasm than he had during their first meeting. That had just been a fleeting attempt to subdue her, and a compliment to how aesthetically pleasing she’d been to him. Now she’d warmed him a bit, given him some substance and sown them together with her view of their circumstances. Libertine was prone to need; the roll in his fingers dangerously, barely avoiding the fabric of her jacket and dress, the glitter pills and his other manufactured escapes. And now he’d come to need her, as well, at least for this moment. He tried to taste her deeper, always exploring what more there was. Intrusive, appreciative. If she broke them up, he’d gasp, delighted by that, too.

-

White Mask was rubbing his chin and it eschewed the mask. Whatever illusion he was propagating was fading fast. He’d not been prepared for this kind of offensive so soon, and the Syndicate wasn’t even supposed to be able to penetrate so deep into their defenses. Rapports were speaking of knife wounds on some bodies, naturally just before there was audible chaos on the other end of the frequency. With an aptitude toward reading over fighting, he knew well of at least one harbinger used by Mr. Tzeng for harder missions with that signature. Could this be that demon? What was its capacity? He muttered to himself, his bravado stolen even if he couldn’t believe that this operation would be a failure. Throw enough bodies at this obstacle at it would fall. “Run them over.” He ordered. Veritable army. What was it good for if it couldn’t even hold this place? “Send their bodies back to Tzeng!”

-

It was not hard to detect the tunnel with the subtle road leading to it. Ilya gestured for his men to go in as he put his knee in the ground to flip open the case. Three guns and two rifles. He did not have Kou’s luxury of being reckless with his skills, so he’d sharpened them the way Ivena did her dancing. The next moment, he was at the beginning of the underworld his men were already traversing. Ilya was sending bullets based of flashes of sight provided from the mussels going off inside. Perhaps it was a bit reckless after all, but he always brought down what he was shooting at. His men cheered when a long hat ricocheted off a metal sign and through the sinus of a running offender.

“Turns out Trace did most of our work for us.” Someone said, turning over a shredded man and then cringing at the hollow socket. Ilya shrugged as he passed in strides.

“Be grateful, Cousin. Now push. We want little Meimei back for bedtime.” They cheered again and there was orange strobe light to turn the tunnel into an inferno. Ilya was imploring the oncoming traffic of bodies to lay down, tagging the sleepers twice before stepping over them. None of the fire Kou could lure out in him, and none of the warmth he reserve for Ivena. He was only a quietly seething thing, moving deeper and leveling obstructions, only staggering when his vest caught metal, but never for long. If this was an effort to embarrass the Syndicate, Ilya would inspire the opposite.

-

Kou was already in the forest, driving hard, following the path that had to lead to the tunnel. He swerved in time to spin the vehicle. Better not clog this exit. His eyes were still open through the shower of glass as the coupe circled itself until a tree brought the tumble to a violent halt. Teddy groaned when he came to, Kou having climbed into the backseat, hanging weapons on himself. “Kou? You have to slow down. If you go in too hot it might hurt Mei.” Teddy tried and reached back to grab his arm. The brother shrugged out of the grip and climbed out of the side door, now above them.

“They hurt her and I burn all their bloodlines and families to nothing.” He said before he ran over the wreckage just in time for other cars to arrive. He waited for them as much as he did Teddy and darted into the concrete maw with as long strides as his vast legs could provide. There was a madness in his purposeful stillness.

Teddy grunted, lifting himself the same way Kou had gone. “You okay in there, Bel?” he asked and the trunk answered with tired thumping. Bel didn’t know what was more indignant, having been stuffed into the car like this or receiving the macabre image Trace had sent.

-

Ouran was listening intently to the commotion. They were upset, outside. It seemed there was someone trying to get in and this caused White Mask a great deal of trouble, his arrogance leaving place for a more commanding voice. Ouran became hopeful, but it was hard to imagine who’d come so quickly. This wasn’t some mission to protect Mei, it had just been a date, there’d been no check-in to miss. Who could be outside? Someone targeted the door. He stumbled back, balance off with his arms still cuffed. His eye were wide when he saw one of the Syndicate’s secret weapons. “Trace!” he said in a low voice. “Oh, this is good news.” She was more interested in Lib, however. It was a valid concern but Ouran shook it away, despite disliking him quite a bit, now. His insistence was not enough to reassure their in-house reaper.

Lib didn’t move from his place, Mei perched on him. A quick look at all the other people in the decommissioned office had him smile. “Oh.” He gave with a wide grin, hands away from the girl so the bloodied creature, obviously a demon or something adjacent, could see his palms. He didn’t move to have Mei slide off him, though. “I thought you were bargaining. You were buying time?” he asked Mei and then snickered, shaking his head. “Ah, you’re colder than I thought. Here I am with my pants down. Well, in the best of worlds.” He smiled brightly at Trace. He might not be so forthcoming if given the chance to be otherwise. “I kinda have a weapon trained at her but, you know, despite its caliber it’s sort of a blunt object, made for loving and not fighting.” He rolled his hips once into hers to underline the joke. “Any chance for that deal, Aitawa?” But he was not amused but how lightly Lib was taking this, or by Lib in general. Lips moved closer to Mei’s ear. “Mei?” Lib said. It should at least be worth something to her that his first choice was not to hold her hostage. Trace would recognize as much, he hoped. He’d hidden enough weapons on him to make this sweaty for the demon, at least, if they did not see his side of it.

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #72 on: December 06, 2016, 04:22:49 am »
Mei closed her eyes, and it was half so she didn’t have to see Ouran maintain his composure through this. It was cruel under almost any other circumstance and she’d apologize later. She’d apologize for letting him see, at least. She fed him when she felt him ask, lips warm and eager too. He must know enough about her to realize she could be a good time if it pleased her. Mei let him explore, teased his tongue and drank in his scent. Always smoky, the ones that got to her. After a long moment, she pulled away with a sharp inhale. Soft pink cheeks and such an inviting look in her dark eyes. The blue ring was its own siren song.

When Trace stepped in, Mei was as surprised as Libertine. The scarlet eyes were keen, but confused. She’d come with her usual bloodlust and enthusiasm, but Trace was never one to play this half of the game too delicately once she’d started down a sharper path. It was not to say Trace hadn’t her own way with her femininity, but she was a Demon of Pride, not Lust. “No?” she asked, seeming to be looking to Mei for verification of Ouran’s answer. Mei hadn’t moved off of Lib’s lap.

“No. Not at this point, at least.” Mei said. “He’s been reasonable thus far and I wouldn’t mind keeping him around for a while, if he keeps it up.” She said. Her hand on his thigh again, not so much as comfort but in a slightly possessive gesture. Trace would understand that much. Trace scowled behind her cowl, eyebrows knitting visibly.

“He’s not one of ours though, is he,” she said. Mei shook her head.

“Not really, no.” Mei answered. Trace leaned back against the door and folded her arms over her chest.

“Belou got your call. He asked me for help. Vladenko should be here by now also. And Mister Wing cannot be far behind.” She sounded pleased with herself. She felt she was the spearhead in this, after all. Mei nodded, a bit more serious now that she’d collected herself. Trace respected her out of obligation more than anything else, Mei was aware. Their relationship had become better since she’d gone to the woman and flattered the Demon’s greatest vice. She’d not been training under Trace for all that long though and, even if she had, it did not change the fact that the leather-clad punisher was of a curious psyche. Her father did not send Trace out unless he was looking for a body count and a show.

“Thank you, Trace. I honestly wasn’t sure I’d gotten through.” Mei glanced at Lib. “Which is to say that I wasn’t so much buying time as still hoping we could buy you. I’m still hoping we can. It would put us on better terms after this.” Mei said, and there was a good deal more confidence there now that Trace had arrived. “At the very least, will you not get in the way when we leave?” she asked, leaning to kiss him lightly. Selfish girl. “You obviously know how to find me again.” Mei said, which was a more disconcerting thought than she wanted to consider, if he chose not to continue playing nice.

“If I’m not going to kill him, what do you want to do with him?” Trace said, and she sounded like she was growing bored. “The others can’t possibly be long now. As soon as it gets noisy out there, we’ll go.” She said, shoving her thumb toward the door. “Until then, I’ll kill anyone who comes to check up on you.” Trace suggested and sounded a bit more enthused about that prospect. She narrowed her eyes at Lib. He seemed like he must be rather capable himself, though he stank of chemicals. “Would you like to help, if you’re on Miss Wing’s side?” she asked him. If he said no, she’d be on Lib in an instant to attempt to restrain him until this was all over. That intention was not one she hid. Trace did not much care who she worked with. Sentimentality fell well below admiration for others who could take pride in her craft. Either he would be a partner in this effort or he’d be in the way. The Dog and Miss Wing could work out whatever monetary details he cared about later.

Mei slipped off the table finally and crossed toward Aitawa and Trace.

“Well, the moment it gets noisy I expect you’ll be going to help my brother.” She furrowed her brow. “Both of you.” It was not that she doubted Kou’s ability. It was that she worried about his recklessness. Mei knew she still brought out that much in him.   

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #73 on: December 06, 2016, 07:29:22 pm »
The session against Mei, on his whim, was more engaging than he’d intended it to be, swept away as always, into her, with her. Some affection coiled with his usual pace of heat. Not that it slowed his desire to turn her in his lap and fulfill what her hand had suggested, but he thought he might enjoy it in a different way than a common toss. Lib wasn’t prone to shackle his emotions. It was one reason to like him, but also a glaring flaw. The jack-of-all-trades had no intention of thinking of Ouran, or consider the army outside. He brought her in here under the guise of making her pliable, after all. If she came back out with her hair and clothes out of place, things were as should be expected. So he was just going to continue for as long as she’d let him, inclining his lips to return against hers, answer the call in her eyes and summon more blush on her pretty -- when their company doubled, white hair and crimson lanterns.

His hands lowered again, from his surrender, when Mei would speak for him. To agree with her he put his hand over hers, where she was claiming him. The bloodied, beautiful wraith was disappointed, and voiced it. He laughed with equal amusement and worry, other hand not coming around Mei for the sole reason of being ready if this apparition should go against Mei’s wishes. He wasn’t sure he liked his odds against a slaughtering demon who had come this far to retrieve the Tzeng daughter, but imagined it would be a quick and painful ordeal, either way.

His forehead wrinkled with some doubt upon hearing about Mei’s call. The other hand did move then, up her side and over. He frowned and looked at his former captive, detecting the square device that had come to be the demise of this entire venture. “Resourceful, aren’t we?” he muttered with a light, congratulatory tone. “And they hired me to bring you here, not to keep you. Really, I have no dog in this race anymore.” He replied to her offer. “If you should feel inclined to reimburse me for the payment that will likely not come now, judging by what Miss Boydpaint here is saying, I’d be grateful but don’t feel obliged. Either outcome, I won’t be in your way.” Then she gave him another kiss, the second one today she didn’t have to, and it put some red in his green eyes. “Of course, I can offer you other favors, if you’re looking to try the full kidnapping experience.” He quickly threw his arms around her and pulled her into himself again, and it made Aitawa jerk toward them, very likely the demon, too. Lib was quick to let go, arms uncrossing, fingers traveling away from her abdomen and ribs, deftly gracing the low of her softnesses before he was surrendering again, toothy grin as a shield. “Joking. Not even I would pay 30k for a whore, even one as pretty as me.” He watched Mei go and remained against the desk, indeed like a delinquent schoolboy in detention.

“I’d rather not help. You guys can take care of it and I’ll just walk on out when you’re done.” He said to the demon. When she shot herself in his direction, he quickly stood on the desk, shaking his hands at her. “Alright, alright!” he injected quickly. “Fuck.” He spat and jumped down on the floor. “Now I better get paid.” He muttered as he finally reached back and pulled out something with a silver mantel and wooden handle. Ouran wasn’t amused by any of Lib’s antics, and it didn’t change when the man who’d gotten to be closer to Mei than he deserved tossed a lockpick at him, when Ouran had no way of catching it. The usually dignified man had to get down on his knees to pick it up and start on the cuffs.

Lib crossed the room toward the other murderer in her generously taut leather armor. He drew his cheek against Mei’s temple on the way, and Ouran thought that was the only reason he’d moved at all. “So. No guns?” he asked her. “You’re a bit of a nut, aren’t you?” he suggested as he stuck two fingers in his pocket to produce another pill. This one he swallowed without chewing.

-

Ilya had come to a stalemate against the a barricade of well supplied gunmen. Many if not all of his men were speared so far, and her intended to keep it that way, best he could. Now and then he could pluck someone out between the cracks of their wall, his rifle’s voice ordering another life to halt. It was going slow but sure. Then someone shouted that there was a shadow coming. Ilya turned back to see a bounding Kou rush through the men in the back.

“Kou, stop.” He started but saw no recognition for the words in the Tzeng brother’s eyes. “Kou Wing!” he tried again and realized he had to move if he didn’t want to be tackled. “Kou, listen! We have to wait, we can’t…” The rifle in Kou’s hand swung by a push of his arm, and caught Ilya hard in the shoulder, sending him to the side which let Kou pass without losing speed. He jumped the makeshift shield Ilya had been behind and ran along a wall to avoid the erupting fire that flew to greet him. “Fuck.” Ila said, getting back up on his feet to shoot wildly past Kou. “Everyone on my idiot brother!” He ordered and tried his best to clear Kou’s way, which in turn cleaned the path for themselves, as well.

-

“Well, there’s the noise.” Lib said after handing the now free Ouran a gun and a few clips. “These hurt when you wore me like a protective suit, by the way.” He said to Mei. His weapons were well holstered, he knew himself to do things in a physical way and took measures with the fastening of his guns and knives, but he could do with some sympathy now that he was going to war for her. He stepped over three bodies that Trace - as he’d learned her name was - had taken care of upon entering. They’d been alive, then. Seemed the rest of the men were sorely needed elsewhere.

Ouran was first out, and Lib wasn’t surprised, knowing how attached he was to Kou. But before Lib could follow, or Trace could climb the frame out, or however she traveled, Ouran stuck his head back in. “Mei, you stay away from this!” he said with a pitched voice. Lib looked back, and imagined this was an instance the princess would do the exact opposite of what she was told. Lib shouldered Ouran on his way to see, since any kind of disarray – which Ouran’s expression strongly suggested – was a good time to strike.

Even Libertine stopped a few paces after the threshold when he saw what had shaken Ouran. Most of the men were firing into the entrance, loosing, judging by their shouts, but a ring of fewer men was bustling around a lonely, kneeling person. When the center prisoner looked up, Lib gasped, recognizing Kou’s features from images with Mei. Hair obscured his eyes, and fear was on his lips. Was it for his sister or himself? Lib felt a tinge in his own heart when an opening in the surrounding bodies let the captive look directly at the Tzeng girl.

“What are you waiting for? If you kill him they won’t be so happy to come in, any more.” White Mask barked, his men hesitant to bring down the retribution that follows killing a prince. Eventually, when no one moved to carry out the execution, the man himself stole a handgun from a belted holster and walked over to the figure in the center. Lib assumed that if Kou had a vest, it was taken from him now.

Kou’s voice burst through him, calling his sister’s name just before a harsh crack of volatile powder billowing in red and yellow preceded his perfect silence in the ruckus of the conflict all around. Chest opening outward, like a bud coughing while becoming a flower. Blood puffing, roiling ceaselessly, just like the love in his expression masked by his hair. Lib thought Kou fell beautifully, to become still and eternally unmoving like the other bodies, a love letter that flitted just like any arc of paper to the floor. The glutton in Libertine thought he would savor this forever, such a formidable end, but his heart hurt for the sister who’d seen the demise of her brother. The other weapons quieted to the echo of the gun-barrel roar, as though to usher Kou with dignity. Or to revere Mei’s sorrow.

The first to break the quiet was Ilya, where he couldn’t be seen in the tunnel. Lib though it was touching that Ilya’s rifle announced with its metallic hum and its low voice who would be escorting Kou’s spirit. The long shell of the prince’s body was forgotten so the ring could join with the wall. Ilya pushed hard, by the sound of it, and soon the first soldier from the Syndicate lanced through. Lib gasped and he ran out, finally finding strength for his legs when the spearheading person whipped black strands away from his face to frantically look around. It was Kou, vivid with rash rage and hollowing worry.

“Mei!” he barely lent an eye to the stragglers that came off the shooting mass to kill him again. He only threw his gun-hand back, casually murdering them so his eyes were free to scan the surroundings. Kou found her. “Mei!” that call again, from before his first death. That death was still marking the center of a great lake of blood. As Lib passed the macabre puddle, ready to do his part, that laid-down Kou raised too, hands in the wet, abundant life, one blue eye directed at the Tzeng princess. It seemed she had two brothers coming for her tonight.

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #74 on: December 06, 2016, 09:29:27 pm »
Trace stopped short when he agreed to help and nodded to herself. “Good.” She said, stalking back toward the door. “Guns aren’t particularly impressive.” In answer, and her tone was haughty. If it weren’t for the trail of bodies the whole way in, it might have been overly confident. “I only use them when I must.” She added, because he ought to know she wasn’t a poor shot either. She thought about showing him the picture she’d taken earlier. Trace had not seemed to register his commentary on her mental state, which may or may not have proven his point.

The Demon seemed eager to be going when the first shots announced the action had finally reached their door. Trace went to grab the doorknob. “Backup is here.” She announced brightly, but Ouran was pushing past before she expected him too. She was almost offended, and then realized she didn’t care enough to pull him back. It was his job, after all, to be a good Dog. It would be poor form to deny him that. But he doubled back as quickly as he’d burst through and Trace was moving past him by his expression alone. She didn’t have to hear him entreat Mei to stay away.

Unfortunately, Libertine and Mei were doing the same. As they spilled out of the office, Mei was certain her heart stopped. “Kou.” She hardly breathed it, but she might have well have screamed it. Somehow, Trace seemed strikingly unmoved. A show of respect, perhaps, seeing the man on death’s doorstep. “Kou!” She did scream it then, and it was as if her cry had called the synchrony of guns trained on him. He fell, and so did she. She was doubled over, shaking, when Trace bent down to hold her shoulder.

“Miss Wing.” Some genuine sympathy from the white-haired Demon. “Please look at me.” She said carefully. Mei was gasping, ears ringing so that Trace’s voice came as a hazy blur. She could taste iron on her tongue. Trace shook her a little. “Miss Wing.” Finally, she looked up, and she was clutching her hand over Bel’s eye, a rusty smear down the corner of her pink lips. Trace frowned, but didn’t seem surprised. “Shall we go to him?” She asked and then Mei was sobbing.

“Bel!” she wailed, the realization hitting her as she stared up at Trace. “Why?!” she cried, shaking, the fat tears tinging pink when they tasted the blood on her chin. But she let Trace take her hand and they began to run. Trace and her Demon did not sympathize with much, but she could hurt for Mei in this matter. They understood. Trace flipped out a large, heavy blade with her free hand and let Mei go when they got closer. It was a surreal dance then, between Ilya’s knell of rifle fire and Trace darting along the ring of executioners to cut down those that Ilya’s gun had not finished. She drove the point of the blade into each eye socket she met before she turned her burning red eyes on White Mask.

“Little rabbit.” Trace sang and launched herself toward the man.

She did not seem to notice when Kou burst into the room, Ilya and his men close behind, or that he was calling her name. Mei was a white lily in a dark pool, her dress drinking the stain Bel left as she threw herself onto her knees beside him. Grief makes a woman unafraid, and she had watched her brother and her Demon die in a span of seconds. The gunfire around was the white noise of her father’s business anyway. Trace, Lib, and Ouran were ready to fight. Even without those assurances, she would not have held back to be beside him. Kou’s voice reached her through her haze, somewhat, but her burning blue eye saw only the brother on the floor.

If had been Belou that had comforted her all these years, after all. Bel that had been proud of the sort of woman she was. Bel that seemed to like the look of his eye on her. She wrapped her arms around him, pulling him into her lap. “Belou, you fucking idiot!” she was still sobbing. “What did you do? Why are you here? How do I fix you?” she held his face in her hands. “Talk to me, please,” she said. Mei coughed again, more blood on her lips. They were bound, and for that she’d suffer with him in some small part. It didn’t matter that, with the exception of Lib, no one had laid a finger on her.

“How does it work? How do you stay alive?” she asked, bending to press her forehead to his. “Demons can make contracts, right? Will you live if you take something from me? What do you need?” she was asking things she had heard Trace mention when she was small. She held him up then, to cradle him to her chest, her cheek on his and her breath in his hair. “Somebody help me!” she sobbed. The fighting was dying around her, Strada men that had not been taken down by her rescuers beginning to flee the scene.

Trace was at White Mask with a blade to his throat, one hand holding his head up by his hair and a knee pressed hard into his spine. She was applying pressure, eager to finish him off, but knew better than to do so without the go ahead from the Prince or the King. It didn’t bother her too much, because she thought it was nice for him to suffer for a bit. “Look at your men run, Little Rabbit. The rest are in hell, looking for their eyes.” She said. “Be more careful with the ones you left at home, okay?” she encouraged and pressed on his throat a little more. There was a fine trickle of blood onto the steel. “If you get a second chance.”   

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #75 on: December 07, 2016, 06:41:52 pm »
Belou was feeling outside himself, chased away by the insistent cacophony in the cavern of his new, lacking chest, vision constantly twisting from molten swirls to rudely sharp details. He tried to understand what had happened. Was Mei safe? Who was holding him? At first, through the impressions that became better focused while the pain returned eloquent, he only recognized the color of blue hovering above him. One burning, azure sun. A tainted tear then rapped his chin, and he blinked into the agony that had been waiting for audience with his nerves. It was eager and plenty, and it held so much of his power hostage. Heaven, what remained, kept him alive. He smiled beneath her. "Meimei, you're ok?" And his voice ran blood over his teeth as his eyelid flared to bring her into details he recognized. He thought he coughed but it was only a hard breath, which flooded his lips with more, hot red.

He shook his head at her sadness as she cried his own tears on him. "I'll be alright." which sounded like so much bravery. "Really." Belou saw his hands reach to cup her face. There was no such strength in him, so he thought it must be love, then, that moved his useless limbs. “All you need to do is give me your heart.” It was a romantic thing to say, but it was also a course of action close to sucking water when drowning, a last attempt from a body that knew it was dying. His fingertips carried the pretty pearls from her eyes onto his lips that kiss them. Sorrow, life and love – Heaven’s ink. “Would you give your heart to me, Mei Wing Tzeng?” The hand was already holding on to her collarbone and failing, sliding down, denting her skin like Strazza, until he hooked into her dress, nails resting over her heart.

There was love behind her ribs, and it was enough to start creating his own. The heart that hung, broken, knotted itself and started growing, slow bubbles of returning flesh inflating the old muscle. For a contract, whether she said yes or refused, it was flawed. Mei’s heart was elsewhere, too. A loving girl. Belou’s chin dropped, but he wouldn’t close his eye, because it would distress her. The hand, lax, slid off her chest where their ink was soaking into her shallow blood vessels and making a mark that swirled into itself, snowflake legs around its edges, to represent his sin and her love.

Kou was beside her, gunpowder on his hands. He touched her hair and made sure to hang it behind her ear so he could see her. Mei was crying, but she was alive with Belou in her lap. After having dispelled enough deathly worries with his breaths, he realized how odd this was. He let her have the moment inside the quieting war, then he leaned in to kiss her temple. “Mei. You don’t have to worry. Only demons can kill demons.” He said, sure the image of Belou dying was stressful for her, still. He beckoned one of Ilya’s who seemed to be out of bullets and fight. Kou imagined Mei would be reluctant to letting go, but Kou wanted her for himself. The Vladenko man understood to lift Belou.

Kou turned her when she was free, into his embrace. He whimpered with frustration and hurt into her shoulder. The anxiety he’d been running from, barreling into clouds of bullets, was slowly being distracted by her presence. He trembled against her, and held on harder to her. The Syndicate was a monster of an organization, it had afforded Mei some safety, so Kou’s nerves had never been tested in this way. He thought it had all been  very unpleasant. “I’ll slaughter them.” He said but there was no conviction in his voice, only a trembling relief. “You’re safe.” He held her a few inches from him so he could examine her. Her forehead, her nose, her cheeks. It was a feather-light inspection, with unsure hands. “Meimei.” For all of her rescuers that said it, it was his nickname for her.

White Mask struggled, reeling behind his disguise, but couldn’t hope to break free from Trace’s full attention. With some hopeful swings, his arms wanted to reach her, but she was out of his orbit, and her knee became more familiar with his vertebrae as a reward. He gargled with anger. Not a fighter, himself. Strada’s leaders seemed not to value an aptitude toward violence the way their Tzeng counterparts did. The resulting discrepancy laid cut, shot and broken around them. “Let go of me! Strada will come for you! Tzeng is too greedy. We’ll get others. How many families do you think you can take on? You’re all dead!” he said and then hissed when her knee replied for her.

Suddenly Ilya’s silver noise accompanied the shattering of the mask, and a pampered, handsome face all but inhaled the shards. Ilya stood over the man. Ilya nodded at Trace before resting the bud of his rifle on the victim’s forehead, leaving the subdued man with the weight of the well-balanced weapon. Ilya only loosely held the barrel to keep the weapon in place. “Strada.” The name was impossibly tainted by Ilya’s accent. “You think Tzeng is greedy, da? You think you can fight a greedy man? You think even ten families can fight my Syndicate?” not possessive, just proud. Ilya held his arms out, taking the rifle back. He was the saint of this battle, and looked the part, stretched out, weapon in one hand. “You took one of us and we went into your concrete box and scattered you like birds. Look at your feathers on your nest floor!” Sparrow-egg eyes were excited in the cold face. “Send this puppy back, please, Trace.” He said and leaned over the man to kiss her bloody cheek. To Ilya, beings like Trace were closer to  gods than demons. “In whatever state you’d like.” With a quick stretch of his arm, he’d produced a small blade and left it between the ball and the socket of the man’s shoulder. The man howled, unused to any pain. “I think their incompetence is enough for a message.”

-

Eventually Kou would find himself in a car with Mei against him. For her comfort and peace of mind he’d let her take Belou, head in her lap. Kou would be on her other side, insisting she lean in to him. Her hair smelled right. He was staring forward, at Ouran sitting beside Teddy in front. Teddy had a bandage over his forehead, which Kou himself had applied. Only a grace. Among Belou’s resting and whatever emotional bed Mei made for herself in the aftermath of her kidnapping, Kou was still emitting a rather erratic energy, his expression tired but eyes tense underneath half-mast lids. His hand was on her knee, rumpling her skirts. The King had been informed of the ordeal but was mostly interested in his next move, insisting his children tend to themselves. Surely Wei would dote next time he saw Mei.

Kou awoke, eyes already open, when the car stopped and Teddy cleared his throat. His building. Yesterday they’d gone up together. Sluggishly Kou took Mei’s hand, wherever he would find it, and pulled her out with him. His head was lowered but he wouldn’t let her go, no intention of allowing her to bring Belou. He was entitled, he thought, to her time now.

In the elevator, ill-advised, one of Kou’s neighbors joined them. It was not the first time Kou had dragged himself home with death’s exhaustion in his gaze. Kou squeezed her hand tighter then, made sure she was between himself and the corner, and looked at the other man as though he was a grave threat and an insult. The man, who was proper in dress and wore a pleasant smile at first, obviously an acquaintance, was too frightened for conversation, and only traveled one floor before stepping off. Kou’s shoulders lowered, but he didn’t let her out of the fortress he’d made of himself and the metal wall.

He remained vigilant, beastly, until she was inside his door and he’d locked it four times along the reinforced frame.

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #76 on: December 08, 2016, 05:18:21 am »
Mei pressed her hand to Belou’s as he traced her collarbone. “My heart?” she asked, because she did not know what he meant. “Anything, Bel. I’ll give you anything,” she said. An earnest girl at heart, all her spite and games aside. “Please just be okay.” She could not see him clearly through her tears. His eye burned in her socket with a heavy blue light and her heart ached beneath his fingers. There was something stabbing, a brief sharp pain that made her gasp, but nothing that could have moved her from him. “My beautiful Bel,” she sniffed. “You pick the worst times to wear his face. It’s always so cruel.” She said, and she was almost laughing while she was crying. It had been an awful sight.

And then that brother was there at her side, as if conjured by her mention, and she only seemed to recognize it when his fingers touched her hair. She could smell gunpowder on his skin and it was almost as familiar as his brand of cigarette. Mei turned her face briefly to look at him, dazed, and began to cry harder. “I swear to god I’ll hunt you to hell and kill you myself if you die,” she whimpered and nearly collapsed onto him. She did not, of course, let Belou go. If anything, it was as if she wanted Kou’s strength to bear Bel’s fade. Mei didn’t seem to quite understand what Kou was saying. “He won’t die?” she asked, and it was such a sweet and wavering hope that he would have paid for it dearly if he’d not been telling the truth.

“Belou, you asshole,” she stuttered, but she was kissing his forehead anyway and the corners of his lips and still crying because he was still bleeding. “You can have my heart, anything you need.” She breathed against his cheek, though he’d already taken what he needed and laid a little more of himself on her soul. She’d probably heckle him for it later, when she understood, but Mei would have never dreamt of denying him. Belou had been with her since she was a child, never aging, and she refused to believe he could be taken away.

Ilya’s man was there, though, and Mei began to panic when he tried to take Bel’s bloodied body from her. “Stop it, he need me!” she began to protest, but Kou was pulling her into his arms and she hadn’t the strength to resist it. “Don’t let them take—“ she began, but realized he was trembling. They would take care of Belou. When had she ever not trusted Ilya? When had she ever not trusted Kou? Quietly, she slipped her arms around him and nodded at the things he said. “I’m okay. Ouran and Libertine kept me safe. And Trace and all of you came so quickly,” she assured him, though his nearness seemed to have dropped what was left of her guard and she was clearly exhausted. Mei reached up to rub her cheek and wipe away the tears still falling.

“Lib.” She mumbled, because she’d forgotten the rest of the world when she’d seen Kou die and Belou swallow the rest. She looked past Kou’s shoulder. “Lib?” she repeated, stare darting around until she found him. He looked like he was getting ready to disappear before he caught too much attention from Ilya or her brother’s men. She intended to call out to him, but decided better of it. If he wanted, he could surely find her again. Mei would thank him if he did, and offer the money they’d promised him too. He might have been the one to steal her away, but the Tzeng princess understood unsavory work was rarely personal in this business. He’d shown mercy and restraint after he’d done his job, in his own way.

Mei blinked and refocused on her brother. She was sure if she looked for Lib again he’d be gone. “Ouran fought really hard.” She said quietly, uncharacteristically meek. No one could blame her for it, of course. She’d worn a strong face to this point. She was allowed to be weak if Kou was there. “I was scared, but… I knew you would come. I knew all of you…” she began to cry again, realizing how many who cared for her had come running.

-

Trace had pulled down her cowl as the last of the Strada men had taken bullets or gone running. She was grinning from ear to ear by the time Ilya reached her with his steely gaze and stiff judgement. Vladenko made his violence look so pretty. Trace laughed when he put his blade into the man’s shoulder, pleased and flattered. She would not have let many others come so close, but she felt Mister Vladenko appreciated her value and that stroked her ego the way she liked best.

“Beautiful!” she purred, and pulled her own blade from the howling man’s throat, sheathing it before taking hold of the one Ilya had left. “He says to send you back, little man,” Trace said leaning down to speak near his ear and shoving her knee harder into his spine in the process. The yanked the blade down, following the socket and tugging until she had carved a great crescent and the arm was hanging limp.

He was screaming and Trace was humming a spritely tune. “You’re being too loud.” She said. “Miss Wing is traumatized enough.” She pulled Ilya’s blade free and slid it across his throat in a clean motion. He gurgled, spat, and wheezed, eyes rolling hard before he drooped in her hand. She let go of his hair and his face contacted the ground with a dull thud. “He said send you back, so let’s fit you in a box.” Trace sang, cleaning Ilya’s blade on an unbloodied section of the man’s suit and leaving it neatly on the cement before she hoisted the body over her shoulder. She was particular on the aesthetics she left, but understood there were plenty of humans who disliked the work in progress. She sauntered off toward the foreman’s office for some privacy with her knives and her new play thing.

-

Mei was anxious until they had returned Belou to her, tucked under someone’s suit jacket and laid across her lap as she sat in the back of Kou’s car. When they had pulled away from the facility, Mei shot Ouran a grateful glance and a small smile. She felt badly about cozying up to Lib in front of him, but she was certain he understood. She had done what she could in the same way he had. At least, it was the simplest way to explain it away now. Regardless, she was grateful Aitawa had been with her. Mei would never have wished him captured, but he’d eased her nerves and fought to keep her safe. Quietly, she reached over the back of the seat to squeeze his shoulder. “That was one hell of a date,” she murmured.

The rest of the ride was spent doting over Belou, stroking his hair and cursing at him affectionately. She seemed tired and nervously giddy one moment, and was crying the next. It was apparent now that Kou was very much correct and Belou would heal faster than any human could hope for. But still, he had been put in terrible pain on her behalf. Occasionally, she would look to Kou and touch his face, a panicked look in her eyes as she recalled the face Bel had worn when he’d fallen. It was easier to extract her from Belou this time. She seemed satisfied he would be okay and was, at the end of this, intensely and dizzyingly tired.

Mei followed Kou silently, holding his hand as tightly as he held hers, and didn’t say a word when he kept her closely guarded in the elevator. She didn’t speak at all until he’d locked his door securely behind them, and even then she said nothing when he turned back to her. She did throw herself onto him then, fresh tears falling and Bel’s eye still burning with an intensely blue heat. “I saw you die, Kou,” she said, and her voice cracked as she pressed her forehead to his. “I saw you die and I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t live if you—“ and she couldn’t finish the thought, sobbing loudly instead.

-

Ivena was clutching her pistol hard when Ilya finally returned to the car. She’d heard the distant and dull clamor of guns down the tunnel and she’d been trembling since. When he climbed back into the SUV, she let out an audible sigh of relief. A frantic babble of words, vague English sounds and a heavy dose of their mother tongue, and she was throwing her arms around his neck. “Is everyone okay? Did you get Mei and Ouran? Is Kou okay?” she released him only so she could stare and implore him to answer.   


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Re: Guts.
« Reply #77 on: December 08, 2016, 07:02:39 pm »
Belou was calm in her lap. Perhaps lust was the most affectionate sin. He drank up her kindness in his flickering slumber. Every time he came back, he would give her that smile that told her he loved her, and that there was love to make, if she wanted it. It would have to be a one-sided kind of tryst, and she would have to be tender. What else could he have said without words, he was still the demon Belou, of the fleshward vice. Haughtiness was life. Their eyes communicated with brilliant flames of blue until his head slid off her lap to sleep deeper without her, when her brother took her from him. She been distressed to see Kou’s face on him today, but it was very likely not the last time he’d wear it fool her. What good is a demon that does what you say?

-

Ilya was inspecting the new prisoners, kneeled on the ground with their hands behind their necks, when he caught Trace and her wide grin lugging the bled man toward privacy. It was regrettable Ilya would not see the result of her artistry. He should have to keep his ears out about it, for reflected glory. His grin frightened the Strada remains as he came down to their level, rifle balancing on one shoulder, kept there by his hand on the pipe, his other hand touching the cheek of a hardened face.

“You’re a fisherman, friend. Strada just bring you in to shoot?” he asked. A nod. Ilya knew he’d agree, but also read him to see if it was true. It seemed to be. “Now, is it fair that you should trade your shifts at sea or in the docks for this kind of lethal game, friend?” Agreed again. Ilya smiled and quickly aimed his rifle, one arm, to the man beside the fisherman. Another metallic bark and hiss of matter landing on the floor behind. The man slumped forward. The puddle knew not to grow in the direction of Ilya’s shoes. “And it’s not fair a real gunman should die instead of you.” Ilya continued and rested one end of his long weapon on the floor between them. “Something to remember.” That Strada is foolish and that I am cruel. “So if you’re free, go fish in another city, maybe another sea.” Ilya stood and pushed the fisherman’s forehead with the smoking end of the rifle and the man whimpered as he fell back, afraid to have learned his last lesson. “Make them carry their people out of here.” He said and started walking away. “Don’t make your living friends carry you too.” He warned the prisoners.

He had well shaken that grim persona when he sat down on a leather seat with Ivena around him, car door closed. He sighed in delight at her closeness and held her tightly as he nodded, reveling in her lingual disarray. She was always most beautiful when she wasn’t entirely her controlled self. “Da. Mei and Ouran is finishing their date in Kou’s car.” He said with a wide smile as she stared back at him. “You were okay out here?” he asked, but wouldn’t have been so calm if he suspected otherwise. He reached to trace the knife she wore and used it as an excuse to lean closer. Ilya was more than used to this kind of thing, and had not seen his brother dead or his sister taken, so it was not something that would stick with him. True to his feelings, he tried to steal a kiss from her. A bit underhanded, perhaps, but he’d regret it he didn’t take advantage. “Tartare and good wine?” he suggested and sat back without a care, wrapping an arm around her and sliding her over the leather until she was pressed against him. He was showing off now, big brother who could go to war and be a family man.

-

Kou laughed despite his mood when she jumped into him and let him hold her tightly. “I’ll never die.” He promised and lifted her off the hall floor to keep her to his cheek. “But you mustn’t be taken again.” It was to himself as much as it was at her. She was finally out of danger, and he was brimming with what he couldn’t express in front of the others. “I almost lost you.” He said, voice-box strained. His teeth hardened as he spoke through them next. “They almost took you.” And there was another warmth than anger in him, then. He turned around to squeeze her between his body and the wall, catching her brow with his to turn her face up, bumping the back of her head against the wall, too, so he could have at her mouth with his own.

Belou stirred in the backseat of the car as Teddy lifted him out.

Mei tasted wonderful. Kou didn’t know why he had a notion of her flavor already, but it made him more assumptive in his search. His chest to her, pinning her high. There was some wrath in Kou, and he’d gladly practice it on her if she tried to stop him. Chastising brother, taking what he wanted from her to expel the coal in his heart. Never mind if this, somehow, was not what she wanted for her faithful love. Rough brother, tearing the dress off her shoulders, and sampling with his kisses the small things Suri had left on her skin. No compassion, now.

Mei could protest all she wanted, or come along for his approval, but she’d not be able to stop him if she tried. He’d be offended, in fact, drunk on the catharsis that comes after death and worry, and perhaps punish her viciously for it. Quiet titan, rummaging for offerings. Kou had been expected to be violent and indifferent about it since their childhood, it had done something to her brother. Now his love for her mingled with the horror he’d felt at her abduction, and it welled out of him as this possessive series of grasping holds. He was kissing her like a lover, and desperately trying to forget what she’d made him feel by burning it away with this sordid play.

Belou, alone now, laid to rest in his favorite Pleasure House, arched in his large bed, closed eyelid lit up with the blue that was ablaze underneath. With his widely loved conflicted voice, he called at Mei not to let it happen, because it wasn’t Belou’s sin he could sense in Kou, then. It was tainted, and not what Mei wanted, even though it might feel like that and more. “Protect our heart.” He said, but his hands were already tracing the lines of his stomach down, passed sharp hipbones. He complained with a flooded throat, tongue soaking from what Mei was experiencing. His sleeping shirt split over his risen chest, and on his heart was the same symbol that he’d given Mei, it was dancing, spreading, a sun in glyphs. There were many reasons why even a filthy kind of affection from Kou would have either the sister or her demon helpless to comply.

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #78 on: December 08, 2016, 08:02:03 pm »
Ivena swatted him away, her panic dissipating when she saw he was so very at ease. All must have been well in the end, then. She did not think too hard on the bodies they had left behind. The wolf rarely pities the sheep it takes for supper. “You are shameless,” she told him, adjusting herself and settling back into her seat with her usual composure. Perhaps, if he’d played into her distress, she might have hung on him longer. But her brother was earnest with his affections and his efforts to take advantage had always struck her as innocent if ineffective. It was part of why she’d not pressed to insistently on stopping his behavior.

When they arrived home, she asked for a few moments in her room before supper. She had agreed to the suggestion of wine and tartare quite readily. “I will be down in a moment, and you should change your clothes.” She suggested. It seemed crass to wear clothes you’d killed in to the dinner table.

Ivena’s rooms, for she had a small suite of three, were on their own wing in the upper floor of the house. They afforded her a reasonable measure of privacy, though Ilya had invited himself to keys for all of those spaces. He generally had the good sense to knock before letting himself in, at least. She was quick to her bedroom once she’d disappeared from sight up the stairs, and she was hasty to lock the door behind her. She cursed softly and went rummaging in her closet. A box, also locked, which held a phone when she opened it. She punched a number and was not made to wait long before someone answered.

“What the fuck was that?” she hissed, and somehow her accent was thick enough to give Ilya a run for his money. Her expression was unusually animated, flaring anger in her pale eyes. Ivena spoke low and rushed, biting the words off with limited restraint. “I reported nothing to indicate it was safe to move. Nothing. And to take advantage of one of my dear friends, too. If you tell me this was anything but rogue activity I swear to you I will reveal everything. My brother will destroy you and all of Tzeng’s force will move behind him too.” She was furious. The voice on the other end of the line must have been apologetic, because her grip on the phone loosened just slightly.

“This arrangement is to be mutually beneficial. This has always been the agreement. I was very explicit as to who was off limits. We have yet to even begin and you are breaching that trust.” Measured tone, but it was as if she were cracking a whip. There were a string of colorful Russian expletives offered in response to whatever was said and then she sighed. “Do not make such a mistake again, or you will surely lose everything,” she muttered, and ended the call. Ivena tossed the device back into the box with some disgust and locked it tight before returning the little trunk to its hiding place. She sat down on the floor and then laid back on the plush carpet, arms spread. Another loud sigh. She closed her eyes and breathed until her pulse had slowed and her expression had softened to its serene neutral. “To dinner then.” She said.

-

Mei let out a strangled cry, airy and startled when Kou pressed her hard against the wall. She nearly said his name, but lost the sound against his lips. Eyes wide, blue burning, if she’d been hazy before she was lost now. A million thoughts through her head in an instant, confused and desperate and trembling. She had met his hungry mouth before anything in her could consider protesting and gripped his shirt hard in her curled fingers. Finally, a gasp, “Kou!” she whimpered, because she had nothing else coherent to say. He was insistent and she didn’t know what to do.

“Kou, what are you—“ she started when he assaulted the blood-stained dress. His lips on her skin were scalding. Mei moaned and felt herself arch into him. She was an agreeable girl in bed. She would have been agreeable for Kou regardless. Her heart’s desire, after all. It was surreal and heady, and it took her several seconds before she could grasp why this might be wrong. “Kou, what are you doing?” She mumbled, but she made no move to stop him. It was asking too much for her to deny herself that much. The girl that had ached for this man for years, caught and conflicted in the worst way. How like him.

“Kou, this isn’t what you want. You don’t… for me you… I know you…” she was panting and holding onto him and she would not have been able to say whether she was more frightened he would not listen to her or that he would. It became apparent he had no intention of listening to that whimpering logic. His sister, still trying to be good for him, but losing that resolve quickly. “I’m sorry,” she gasped and it was for worrying him and for not trying harder to stop him now and the way she’d always felt about him. “I’m really sorry,” she whispered again, breath on his tongue because she’d wanted to know him this way for too long.

Her sweater fell away before her dress did, the phone that had found Bel some hours earlier clattering to the floor and ignored. On her chest, glyphs that mirrored Belou’s flickered across her skin like spiraling galaxies. This wasn’t how she’d wanted him, but she’d held on to poorer imitations of her love too. “Oh, Kou,” she breathed, kissing him hard. “Please, you don’t want this. Don’t… do this to us…” she said, but she was leaning into every touch and making the most inviting sounds. “I don’t want you to regret your baby sister.” She was crying again and hating herself for the things she said almost as much as she was hating herself for not resisting him.

If he had heard her through his insistence and let her free, she’d slide down to her knees with her dress clutched to her chest, crying softly and breathing fast, trying to wrap her mind around it and wondering if she’d made a horrible decision. Embarrassed, even, if he realized what he’d done or that she’d laid her own heart excruciatingly bare for him. Any excuse he might use to deny it would be exceptionally cruel. There was no way around it.

If he had no room for reason, she would be crying still, even as her body followed the wants of her heart and not her mind. She would call his name, as a lover and not her brother, the man she’d been running after, and wear the sort of expression that comes with being exposed in every way. Mei could have been a pure soul then, stripped of her shell, and frightened of whatever would come in the wake of this pleasure.

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #79 on: December 09, 2016, 02:41:51 pm »
It was narcissistic of him to expect her to respond the way she did. He'd always known. She'd been clear enough for both of them, so he didn't have to. He couldn't be so delicate, anymore, in the face of her almost-loss. It wasn't her fault - his distance with affection, her abduction - but he had her pay for it now so he could reap the catharsis. She tasted every bit as enticing as his baby sister would, with her awakening body and hesitant song. He should not want this from her, but he was already ravenous for it.

She said he didn't want this - he counted the pin-knots on her shoulder with his mouth. She said she was sorry - he tied her legs around him and pushed her higher on the wall, with wrath in his hips. Protests only felt like more flavor for this delicacy. But when she asked him not to do this to them, he gasped and let go, letting her slide down between them until she was holding herself on the floor, crying. Kou was left with his goodness prevailing, forehead to forearm, against the wall. This was not how he should love Mei.

But when he looked at her from above, and she looked back with her blazing blush, shining with tears and lips hot with what he'd done, he was overcome by the simple, primal truth that in this moment, he did love her like this. He could fight it just as much as he'd allow her to. So he picked her up, baby sister, and kissed her like before, firmer, so she'd know fully she'd not escape. Sometimes when things were grave, if she was ever present for his work, he'd have a voice that forbade any other course of action than his. His body sounded a bit like that against hers now.

He was bullying her, tearing the dress with it's crusted blood from her body. She had to stand on her own for it, and cry if she wanted, until she only had Belou's life left on her legs, and his mark thriving from the perch of her heart. Kou then went ahead and threw his clothes too, so he could love her in the way he mustn't against the wall. He treated her as though she was resisting, but she wasn’t. How far outside of himself he must be, to spend their first time like that, and to be so careless inside her, at their zenith.

He breathed with pause against her ear before there was determination from his lungs again. She wasn't sore enough, he'd not caused enough harm to them to weigh against the horror he'd felt. Kou took her to the bedroom they’d shared yesterday, on separate sides of his bed. Now they were interlocked because he wanted to, and he was a bit furious on her. After that toss and his studying of her reaction to it, if she would come along for his pace yet, he'd let her have some freedoms within the confines of their entanglement, but not to stop, if she wanted to impress him, or win his favor, that this was all not just his doing. He would let it all conclude with something rough, to exhaust himself and shake her completely. So when he'd loved her in all the cruel ways, he could feel empty enough of guilt and anger to hold her while he slept.

Belou laid with his head over the edge of his own bed, gasping with sweat on his chest, flooding his sternum, and tears in his hair. He'd ruined his sheets, which wasn't so unusual, but he felt exhausted from only the residue of Mei's ordeal. He hated Kou for it, but he was also aching to try the brother for himself. The demon slipped away into unconsciousness, one of heaven’s sins subdued by one of Kou's.

-

That night Ilya had been talkative during supper, and called for an extra bottle. He would usually carry the conversation with myriad topics, like a cage of birds opening, and he’d wait for his sharp-shooting, usually stoic sister to pick a fowl and pluck it between them with her well-aimed, short observations. As a child he’d been unbearable, surely, but he’d become an expert conversationalist now. The charm of his accent and the sound of his voice helped. Mostly he liked to see her eat the meat while he enjoyed his. It was to victory that they ate.

They did not share chambers – not for lack of his suggestions -but he’d knocked on her door with a candle as he prowled the house at night, again with papers he needed to go through. He'd asked for a kiss goodnight, and she would strategically give him one on his cheek.

Their morning was not filled with many bad things, and he was quick to ask her about the Halloween party, still reeling over yesterday’s events. “I wish you’d let me take you. Wouldn’t you want your handsome braht there? You would be the envy of the ball.” He said, going over a collection of tactical knives to carry on his chest, inside his jacket, for today. He always liked the shorter ones, in the end.

-

Lib moaned as he rolled onto one well painted side. He’d stayed in the city owned by Tzeng. With his shirt off, Agatha, Selma and all their children were visible for the people he shared this room with. Despite Strada’s tardiness to complete their payment, he’d at least had the first installment to use up. Shards of expensive bottles on the floor, and in one woman’s arm – her idea – and a bowl of needles on a table stained by powders and littered with bags that used to contain pills. He sat up and took a few breaths before scooting back against the bed board. For the things he’d partaken in, he was feeling rather splendid. He sobbed a few times before he cried into Agatha. It was quiet at first, pitiful, but eventually, as his bought friends woke up, it rocked his body, furious grunts trading on and off with desperate cusses. They thought it was strange, and they left soon so he could have his misery alone. He’d not seemed like the crying type, sharing the chemical wealth with them.

Over all, it was not an unusual morning in the Pleasure House.

-

Kou woke against her hair, which he’d done before. They were usually entwined, no matter how they’d fallen asleep. At first he didn’t recognize the impulse to rake his teeth along her hairline, but blinked into the throes of the night soon. The morning was coming in, glorious, as though he hadn’t altered them for his relief. A simple craving that became too much for him so she had to pay the price. Her barely kept secret and his struggle to keep her from whispering it, it had come to an end yesterday. He laid back on the pillow to stare into the ceiling where their bodies played for him. He hid in his hands and his fingers still tasted like her. Teeth-to-teeth pressure so he wouldn’t cry.

He put his clothes on quickly, a new suit, black, and yellow vest to keep up appearances. No morning routine. He thought of leaving, and then laughed bitterly at himself. And never speak to his sister again? Leave a roll of money on the nightstand and write ‘thank you, babe’ over the face of a hundred like he liked to do in Belou’s houses? Still, he got up from his chair to reach for the door before his hand became braver than his heart and retreated from the half-open barrier. He held a fist to his forehead and prayed for something. He ran his fingers into his hair, Strada blood and Mei, in there. Everything hurt because he’d hurt them. Even when she’d sweetly told him not to.

He sat on the floor by her side of the bed, back to the edge. He wanted to smile at her when she woke up, and carry on something secret with her, to keep her happy, but he couldn’t. He thought it wasn’t in him to love her more than he had, but now love had become overwhelming, growing with his shame. He would take her hand and hope the usual kiss on her forehead would be enough when he told her he was sorry, and that he was the worst brother for what he’d done, and that he would regret it for the rest of their lives. It was perhaps even more unfair than using her the way he did, that he wanted her forgiveness for it now – hadn’t she carried enough of their hearts for too long - instead of giving her affection or something reaffirming. Stupid, useless brother, with chocolate bright, broken eyes in her morning.

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #80 on: December 09, 2016, 07:08:02 pm »
She thought he’d come to his senses, which hurt more than it relieved her. Don’t worry brother, I have known you my whole life. I know you’d never. I know you’d never. Mei stared up at him and thought to bury her heart. Mei was wrong on both accounts. He looked back at her and she thought she saw a moment of clarity, but he drowned them both before she could tell him to breathe. He lifted her back to him and kissed her like she’d been wrong the entire time. It broke her heart, even as it filled her, and she wondered if violent loss had always been the key to Kou’s love.

If she ran away after this, into places they both knew were dangerous, would he kiss her this way again? Mei had too many questions with unhappy answers and her body would rather taste his sweet over that bitter. She wasn’t a perfect girl. Perfect sister. Her heart beat in time with her Incubus lover and there was no reasonable notion that could be sinless. Mei had wanted this for so long. He took her clothes from her and she was shy the way she hadn’t been for any other man, crossing her arms over herself because she knew he was looking. It was so easy to tease him when she believed her efforts were going to waste. This hungry man was not her brother and his dedicated obliviousness. This Kou might devour her.

She was still crying when he put his hands on her and crying when she kissed him, a visceral clash between two kinds of desperation. Everything that had ever lurked beneath their sibling bond pushed forth in the curve of her spine and the taste of his tongue and it was angry and guilty and aching and sweet. I’m going to hate myself for this, Belou. But she didn’t resist. He was rough, and she was gasping because she supposed she’d always wanted to be the one he was chasing after. Mei didn’t want to know whether he was fighting against an imaginary her or himself then. She shuddered and called his name and his apartment was silent and heavy in the aftermath. She was staring at him with wide eyes. An intimacy she’d not entertained even with the depths of her affection for him. She had only been Bel’s that way, and not even when Bel wore Kou’s face.

“Kou,” she started, and she was certain the sound formed cracks in the peculiar spell that had fallen. Mei couldn’t bring herself to say more, closed her eyes, leaned tired against the wall. He was not through with her though, and when he had determined to carry her off to the place they’d shared in innocence so many times before she had given in. She had never had it in her to resist him, really. Mei knew. Kou knew. She loved him. If the morning would bring fractures and denial, she would not lose this now. What had been done could not be undone, and if Kou had not had his fill of her she could at least satisfy her honesty and love him the way she’d wanted. For once, he was not denying her that much.

In the bed she was tender and eager, her expression soft. Her apartment had been bruised with his color everywhere, always in the back of her mind. The things he liked and the things she could give him. His favorite foods, his preferred cigarettes. She had always worn him this way, hadn’t she? She tried to please him then, so that there was a chance he’d not be able to forget it in the morning. So that when he went to drown these memories in another woman’s bed she’d not blur with the rest. So that when he came back to his own pillow he’d remember the way she sounded, the way she felt, when she was wrapped up in him.

When he was rough with her to satisfy himself, she gave in to that too and was left panting and trembling when he folded her into his arms. Mei did not sleep as soon. She felt hazy still, not having been given any real time to recover from the bloodshed or Bel or this side of her brother she’d collided so inelegantly with. On her chest, the marks tying her Demon’s heart to her own tangled like a web and it was painfully true to her restless soul. It was late when she had finally settled enough to sleep, some small creeping fear that once she did things would break in a way she hadn’t the capacity to fix. Before she gave in to her tired eyes, she turned herself in Kou’s embrace to watch his slumbering face and the vulnerable expression she was not often allowed to see. A long sigh before she kissed him lightly, her lover tonight, and turned her back to him again. “Goodnight, Kou.” She mumbled.

-

Ivena listened to her brother carry on the dinner conversation with his usual gusto and she interjected at the appropriate points to ensure he was not left entertaining himself. She was glad to hear about other things, a normalcy that neatly covered the ordeal of the afternoon. Ivena would never have forgiven herself if anyone had gotten hurt. She had heard from Ilya that Belou had been in a bit of trouble, but Demons were resilient in the most incredible ways so there really had been little to worry about. The tartare was good, though she hadn’t prepared it as she’d promised. Ilya didn’t seem overly disappointed, but he was an understanding man and the day had been long.

When they parted for the evening, she’d been more affectionate than usual, holding him in a long embrace as if to secure that he was real and there and everything was over. Ivena wanted to apologize, in truth, but left quickly for bed instead.

In the morning she was back to her usual self, light and tranquil with the early sun spinning her hair to soft gold. “Zaika moy, you are invited of course. I must be a good hostess though, so I won’t be giving you special attention. I am sorry,” she said with a small smile. It was not the first time they’d had this conversation. It was every year, really. “I am thinking to hold it at the Hotel Regina,” she suggested, pushing on to other topics. It was a fine hotel, owned by their uncle and under Ilya’s protection. She’d had the thought to hold her masquerade their last year, but the ballrooms had already been promised to other patrons and Ivena would not have any less than the entire facility at her disposal for her grand event. She’d enjoyed dressing up since she was small.

-

Mei woke in the early morning but made no move to rise. Kou emerged from his dreams shortly after. She felt him shift against her and then roll away and kept her eyes closed so that he might have his privacy. Was he regretting her now, with his guilt sated and his mind clear? Now that she was not under threat of disappearing? What a spoiled brother he was. That was fine though. Kou had never been perfect to her. It didn’t change the way she felt. She pretended to be asleep when he went to get dressed and she wondered if he might leave her there to wake up on her own. It almost made her laugh, because she’d be just like one of his other girls then, wouldn’t she?

He didn’t, and she thought that must be the only real way about it but thought it might have been better if he had. They were both used to that arrangement after all. Another night with another beautiful body to ease their troubles. An easier memory for him, she was sure. It might have been an easier memory for them both. She waited until he’d decided on a place, settling beside the bed, and then peeked at him for a long moment through her lowered lashes before shifting to indicate she’d woken up. Stupid brother. She hated that he was making that face.

Mei didn’t want to hear the apologies that must have been dangling from his tongue. She didn’t want him to pretend like loving her had been such an awful thing, even if he’d done it in anguish. So she yawned and stretched and sat up in bed with his sheets pulled up and just enough of her body bare so that he ought to be uncomfortable the same way she’d have done it if he’d not insisted upon every inch of her the night before. “Omigod, how scandalous, Kou,” she gushed. “Were you trying to peep on your baby sister?” she demanded.

Her eyes were challenging, chin high. He could ignore her heart again. She’d prepared for that much. But she’d be dammed if he spat on her feelings and wounded everything he’d used of her just to make himself feel better. Mei was better than that. She deserved better than that. Or, if she didn’t she’d insist upon it anyway. She pulled the sheets around her a little more. “Idiot, have some manners and ask. I’m not that easy.” She snipped and wriggled out of the bed with the sheets still wrapped around her. Mei was headed for his bathroom, tossing her hair over her shoulder has she went. A pretty bride in white, her train sweeping across his bedroom floor. She paused in the doorway to look back at him. “Or were you just worried I’d get taken away again? You shouldn’t underestimate me, you know. I was fine and I won’t let it happen again. I learn from my mistakes.” Mei said brightly. There was that smile again, the mischievous one she wore so well. The one that had carried her love this far and tucked it safely beyond his reach. Perhaps it was defiance then, because he had gambled with her when she was vulnerable. The smile grew wider. “Think fast, Stupid,” she said, and dropped the sheet.

There was no pretty blush or racing pulse this time, because she was certain he’d look away and then she’d win this game and he’d be forced to walk this course with her. If she was wrong, she would falter for a moment, but disappear into the bathroom anyway, closing the door fast. Regardless, she would continue with that strong face until the shower ran hot and she’d soaked herself beneath the fall. And then she would bury her face in her hands as she sank to her knees on the shower floor and let her tears mingle with the water.   

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #81 on: December 09, 2016, 10:52:00 pm »
She woke prettily, as he was sure she would, coiling with the sheets. He didn't take time to look her over much, especially in the morning. Places to go, places to leave her. It was deeply impossible to separate the young woman from the sister he'd grown up with, now. He allowed himself to be mesmerized by her affair with the bedding, and how it reciprocated when she sat up and tried her limbs. Without the seething upset in his heart from yesterday, there was no fuel for the spark of his thoughts upon seeing her draped and revealed in cotton. Still very pleasant in every improper way. Where had this shame been hours ago?

He left his mouth open in its plan to say grave things when she took word first. The expression he offered her was quizzical in a vulnerable manner at first, but he caught on soon. Handsome features smoothing fast to go along with her game. "You were sleeping late." he said with a shrug and put his elbows on the mattress to consider her casually. His fingers played with his lower lip, missing his cigarettes. If he left any gratitude in the warmth of his irises he didn't mean to. He was not above hoping this was exactly how she felt.

Sinking deeper into what she allowed, he tilted his head and let her complain as she made her way toward the bathroom. He threw a pillow at her. "Like you're ever going out with anyone again." he offered to her talk of staving off future attempts at her. "It's school and home for you, Meimei." He liked the sound of that, actually, and his sudden concentrated mouth and the tilt of his head said as much. The confidence in this future crumbled when the sheet fell, and his hands went quickly into his pockets. He turned his head so he wouldn't see the curves fitted on her slight height. He tried not to think of how she'd felt against him, how well they'd fit together. "Whatever." he muttered at the wall and floor.

He was honest with sadness across his tensed brow when she turned to close the door, and thought it would feel good to hold her again. The shower announced that it was safe for him to move and he laid back down on the bed, legs crossed over the edge as he contemplated the possible integrity of this charade. He was willing to hang some hope on it and plucked a cigarette from the drawer in his nightstand to celebrate his resolve. Perhaps she was better at this than he. He had a history of being courteous, mostly, because these things were always short-lived, somewhere in his peripheral. He blew smoke at the ceiling. It died before it could reach.

By the time the water turned off, he was already decided, and killed his second filter in a tray. He left when she opened the door. Her clothes were the only apparel allowed in his closet other than his own. He didn't know what selection she kept here, but he was sure it would be enough for the day. When she came out, taking longer than she ought, he was sure, there was a cup of coffee for her, waiting with tendrils of steam on the table. He didn't make it often, but she'd gotten him the machine, so it happened when she was over. Kou was of course sitting, bored by the island, supporting his cheek on his hand.

"So, now that we're late." he said and drew circles on the surface ot the island with his other hand. "How about I take you to sch..." his phone intervened, and after checking it with dismissive flicks, he looked at her as though she'd been the one to orchestrate this. "Belou wants you." It would probably not have been a casually worded message if Kou was willing to cave on his plans for it. He remembered her holding the blue demon yesterday, how broken she'd been. Kou was not so cold hearted that he wouldn't let his sister check on her long time guardian.

-

Ilya examined the fit of his jacket after the knives had been set. No real change to the silhouette. His attention on her then. He enjoyed Ivena in the morning light and was quick to come over to her. An embrace to greet her to the day. "Always with your eyes on the goal." he said, unaware of what that might mean to her other than the current topic. He kissed her temple and let her be. She deserved a morning without him testing her. Her intended location was a good fit.

"Uncle Vitaljy?" he asked and clapped his hands together softly. "Ah, he will love to have you. He felt so bad for last year." It had been Ilya who'd told her about the earlier reservation, and their uncle had almost gone back on the other party for her, but the brother knew what she would and would not accept. "Let me tell him, then." There was a risk Vitaljy had already rented it out, and Ivena might see if he was lying. If Ilya went, she wouldn't be the wiser. She was earlier on it, this year, though.

"What will you wear?" he asked as he remained close, imagining whisking her away on that night, and needing some help with conjuring her outfit. "Maybe we'll match, da?" Maybe braht will wear a rapier and fence with suitors.

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #82 on: December 10, 2016, 05:25:49 am »
She didn’t shed tears often, Tzeng daughter with a thick skin, but she knew well enough how to conceal them when they came. Her eyes were pink when she left the shower, but she’d blame it on the long shower if Kou asked. He wouldn’t. Mei dug out some slim fitting jeans from her stash in his closet and stole one of his old sweaters to pair. It wasn’t unusual of her and this one was clean, lacking in any trace of his scent save a familiar brand of soap.

Mei had clearly been lacking in any intention to attend classes today, her spare uniform left hanging in its place. She shuffled out to the kitchen where he was waiting with his steaming mug and folded her arms across her chest. She was ready to fight him over the school matter, sure he’d insist and sure she’d refuse. “Late for what?” she started, flat tone. Surely it was fine to take the day off. It was Friday and she’d suffered through the trauma of a kidnapping the day before. He’d be heartless to force her. But then, she wasn’t so phased by it that she couldn’t attend if she was being honest, and somehow the grievances he’d laid on her body last night seemed like a harder excuse to sell.

She was glad when Belou settled the matter for them, before she started pulling spiteful excuses out to get her way, but she didn’t look at all surprised the call had come. “Of course he does.” Mei said. Mei wanted him too. Needed, really, and she supposed he might feel something of the same. Even if it was just his company while he rested, she had already had in mind to seek his shelter. Besides, there was a non-zero chance he’d insist upon an explanation for what she was certain he’d felt last night. Mei made a face. She hoped it hadn’t kept him from resting when he needed it. Idiot brother.

Mei turned away from him to bury her face in his refrigerator. She felt sick. It was good he was playing along with this. It was better than whatever sad sympathetic game he’d have chased if she’d left him to his own devices. Still, her chest was tight and her throat was burning. Everything he did was cruel now. Every slight. Mei had gone along with his forced ignorance before, but that façade was cast away now. Neither of them could pretend at it, really. She snagged a bright red apple and shoved it against her lips as she kicked the door closed. Loud crunch. Neither of them could pretend at it earnestly, but it was the simplest way of deceiving himself and he liked it that way. He’d relied on it all this time. She gave him an odd look. “Aren’t you lucky?” she hummed. “If I didn’t have Belou, who knows where I’d take all my poor teenaged heart’s problems.”

Mei grabbed her phone off the floor on the way to the door, left where it had fallen last night. The one Kou didn’t have the number for, whether he realized it or not. “I’m sure Bel is at the usual place. I think I’ll walk.” She said as she stepped out. “I can go on my own.”

There was a high chance he would follow her, at least far enough to see her go into the quiet building. It was unassuming most times, and more so at this hour of the day. She’d ignore him the entire way over. It wasn’t that she would blame him for the precaution; rather, she’d be vaguely offended if he didn’t follow or send someone in his stead. Rather, knowing he would worry was a tiny satisfaction for the dull ache the day had brought and pretending to be stubborn about her independence would give her good enough reason not to talk to him more.

-

Ivena nodded. “I do hope it’s free this year. I’m fond of the building.” She said. “I have all sorts of ideas to decorate,” she waved a hand. “Some of it is, of course, what I had intended for last year.” She nodded to herself, as if it were a rather serious matter. “Thank you. Let me know if you don’t have time to speak to him, of course.” She said. “I want to make sure I ask him early enough this time.” Ivena had her school bag in hand and was waiting expectantly by the door. Ilya dropped her off personally with rare exception, and likewise made time to pick her up.

“I haven’t settled on anything yet, do you have a suggestion?” she asked, and meant thematically of course. When it came to the precise costuming she’d not give up the opportunity to handle it herself. Inevitably, it was kept a surprise until the night before. Ivena had it in mind to keep the secret until the masquerade itself, but it wasn’t as if it weren’t apparent who she was as hostess. It had, consequently, become a bit of a tradition that she model her spectacular creations for her brother before the party. “I have very good props to pick from this year,” she told him. “Several of my photo shoots allowed me to keep the accessories.”

-

Mei slipped into the pleasure house as inconspicuously as possible and made her way quickly to the back rooms Bel called something of a home. He was not hard to find. “Belou,” she breathed, and was at his side quickly, arms around his neck as she buried her face in his shoulder. “Are you feeling better?” she asked. “I was going to come see you anyway. You didn’t have to call.” She nuzzled his neck. There were no pretenses with her Demon and no lies beyond the ones they were in the mood to indulge. If there had been a safe harbor for her, it should have been there with him last night.     


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Re: Guts.
« Reply #83 on: December 10, 2016, 06:46:52 pm »
Kou smiled at her appearance. Mei might be spoiled, but he never thought it translated into too much vanity. He understood the value in declaring your status through what you wore, but Mei had her own sartorial path. She had nothing to prove. It was a point of pride when she chose his clothes. The claim he thought that gave him, shown outward, was darkened a bit now, considering the night he put upon them. He wore a comfortable mask quickly, so his thoughts wouldn't come spilling out his indifferent mouth and bored eyes.

Usually he'd urge her on a little, but he allowed himself a break from that as she saw about his cold foods. While she was looking, hair fell all over his pretty as he dropped his head. Kou was also hurting from his own actions, but they were pretending now. He'd not loose his lines in act one. He grinned bitterly behind the curtain of black, thinking he'd made it this far, until yesterday before faltering. If he could do at least half that much again, there'd be plenty of time to prepare contingencies. His greedy heart was devising plots to burn the world by then, so they could be free in the ashes. That would be selfish, but it would be lovely. Idiot brother.

A quick run of his hands gave him back his vision, and a rather flattering formation ontop of his head. That kind of blessing was another reason to hate Kou Wing. He looked like a scalpel when he was flawlessly put together, and then he looked like a prince among peasants when he wasn't. Sometimes a bruise was an accessory, and sometimes a blade of hair out of place was an enticing clue. "No market for teenage hearts in my town, Meimei." he said as he stood, now that she was ready, apple in hand. "You get one from Belou, though, and we can talk." He didn't know she had half of it already, and that Belou had half of hers.

He let her pick up the phone before he took it from her, and tore off the silicone shell as they walked out the door. There was no discussion about him escorting her. Out of his gun pocket her produced another shell, elastic but for the center, where a flat shiv was hidden in the material. It would grow to twice its length upon release. He quickly strapped it on her device before returning it, not even looking at her, which meant she wasn't allowed to argue. He was sure Mei's clever would find use for it, if she needed. A small thing, but it would make him feel better.

It was a good day, but he still hung his jacket on her shoulders as they walked. If she refused he could always pin the collar to her neck with his fingers, walking her a bit like one would a pet until she accepted the futility of such a small rebellion. In exchange he wouldn't speak. It said something about the prince of this city, that he could have his hands in his pockets and the sleeves of his shirt showing out his vest, when it was all complimented with the black straps of his holster, keeping four firearms to his ribs and chest. At some point he even nodded good day to a passing officer, who did nothing but return the nicety. Adorable couple, her with all his clothes, and him with one protective eye always one her.

He'd have to take his jacket back at the steps of Belou's den. A rather large creature with green eyebrows stopped him when Mei walked past. Kou wrinkled his face and tried walking around the large man-thing, but another log of an arm kept him from entering. "I pretty much own this place, Barita." he said and looked up at the giant as he buttoned his jacket. Barita, of sin Greed, shrugged.

"Belou said you're not allowed in today. Something you did yesterday." the demon explained. Kou frowned, but didn't act on his mortification, or even the anger that followed, at least not with his expression. He rolled his royal eyes and took a step back, looking at Mei, asking with that look if she'd not speak to him, or for him. She wouldn't and so he threw his hands up in condescending defeat and turned.

"We all have our convictions." he muttered, but before he was out he spun, gun-hand extended with a silver angle and its exploding mouth sending a metal word into Barita's leg. The demon howled and put a knee on the floor. Demons healed. "Mine is that discourtesy should be met with prejudiced." he explained and then didn't look at her as he disappeared out. It was easy to pretend this little disagreement was her fault, somehow. He had work to do anyway.

Idiot brother.

-

Belou was happy to see her. He'd already stitched himself up with his magic. Lust was abundant here, even when he didn't invoke it, and so he healed quickly in his own home. He sighed when he pressed her against himself. With their new connection, he'd felt as though a part of him was missing with her out and about. He could use that to his advantage, it was the idea with these kind of contracts, but he'd let her sign it simply so they'd be closer, not to benefit from it in any other way, even if he could.

"I'm doing splits and somersaults." he said and stroked her hair. She'd washed Kou away. "But how are you?" he asked and took her face in his hands, examining her as though the heartbreak would have spread to her complexion. "That dirty bastard. He doesn't know anything." Belou mumbled as he stroked her cheek with all of his palm. He let her settle for a while before pulling at her hand. His house was a maze, so that the costumers would find it new every time they came. The architecture wasn't a selling point, but it played an important role in the mood.

"What do you want, baby Mei?" he asked as he opened a door to one of his own rooms, walls littered with bottles and containers. He liked the way the light stroked everything. In some stupors, this room became dangerously vivid. He could walk in circles around the round bed in the middle and under the behemoth chandelier for hours. He took her to the table and its plush chairs underneath the satin curtains. "I have everything." a point of pride to serve good food after good play. "How's our heart?" he touched where he'd bloodied yesterday. Tell me what that bastard did, if you want. Belou was prolific at crucifying someone in their absence. So many of his costumers only wanted a hungry ear and unconditional understanding.

-

Ilya was fond of her career as photographic subject. He always insisted on seeing what wasn't chosen, too, but didn't have that kind of sway, many times, since that industry, if it was from out of town, was not encompassed by his influence. He liked that there were others that adored her beauty. "A suggestion?" he asked and then thought of something from Shakespeare's days. Mei, the dear girl, had ruined that a little by referring to Ivena and Kou as the tragic love couple of Verona, though. "I should like to be a great dragon. Elixion, maybe. You know I like white." It was on subject, but a little selfish, as always. "Perhaps we can play out that legend together, the way we were told it as young?" Which meant she would be the human woman. They knew the same fairytales.

The two were made for the morning, all but fading in with the light outside. He was happy to escort her, and took a smaller car so the guards would know they weren't invited. Ilya was fond of the sport models, but his height, despite his inate elegance, could make it a bit of a chore to handle them. Sometimes he was proud of this, a little like being too beautiful for tailoring, or too fast for shoes, but other days he was not as keen.

There were boys waiting at the school. Mei was a known rebel, but they at least were grateful for Ivena's presence on most days. Ilya thought so little of them that he usually wouldn't make a fuss when some were less than subtle about their attachment to her. He did keep a tally on her confessional letters when he could get them from her, though.

"Look at that. Broken hearts all over the school yard. It is good to know I have brothers." he said and kissed her cheek if she'd let him. He reached across to open her door. "Will you invite them to your party? They can gawk when we dance, da?"

-

Lib, three rooms away from Mei, had washed up with water from the ice bucket and rinsed his mouth with vodka. He wasn't finding the left-over favors to his liking, and was turning over debris in pillow-feathers for his credit card. He knew from experience that any cash left in the open would not likely still be there after so long. He scratched his back, where Selma rode his spine, and leaned over a chair missing a leg. Pinned underneath it was his shattered plastic note. It seemed there were enough numbers left on its face for him to remember the rest, and the chip was intact. It should still be usable.

As a bonus, one of the better pills had been crushed by the chair too, and he could use it by bending over in his black, ripped jeans, knees to the red floor, and suck it up with an expert nostril. He sighed, some of that powder dusting the end of of his black hair when he sat back to wait for the effect. From the side, somewhere, he picked up a flask that sloshed encouragingly. He chuckled to himself and tipped it into his lips.

-

Ouran had been happy when Kou said Mei was okay. Teddy had looked a bit funny then, but Aitawa was just glad there hadn't been any lasting mars on her because of him. He'd been a little less chipper when Kou told them to take him here.

An abandoned building in the outskirts of the center of the city. Ilya owned it, officially, but Kou had taken over a long time ago. Papers didn't really matter in this business. What was the point of killing men in the night if you couldn't skirt some bureaucracy?

Kou held his hand out and Teddy sighed, handing him a flare. Kou tossed his jacket to Ouran and his holsters to Teddy. He had that tiger shadow on his face, rippling from the bridge of his nose. It was a quiet anger today. Ouran was worried he was to blame. Kou's mood had given no such indication on the way here, and he was usually transparent.

Kou liked to come here and take care of the feedings himself, but the rope that hung from the ceiling and dangled into the hole in the basement floor suggested he was going to do more than pour protein pills and waterpacks this time. He put the flare in his mouth and looked at his friends. They asked him if he really should do this, and he grabbed the rope. There was faith in the hole, and there was punishment, too. The two other men suspected her was after the later.

With a violent twist, Kou undid one end of the flare and the light was bright and the smoke was nauseating. He held the stick with his mouth, still, so soon his head was swallowed by a toxic cloud. Then he descended.

Well down there, moans and hands reached for him. They'd not seen light in ages, and flocked to him. Kou didn't resist when they tore at him, and tossed him around. He bit harder into the flare and went with their desperation. Just for transgressions from himself to them, he deserved this. His ambition became their demise. They were filled with chemicals he forced at first, and now it came with the food he provided.

To creatures that live in perpetual dark a being with a mane of smoke and a mouth full of green light is nothing short of a god. Hungry creatures are not gentle with their gods.

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #84 on: December 11, 2016, 06:51:59 am »
Mei had not been too pleased with his escort, eager to be free of Kou as soon as possible, but was aware when it was worth attempting to protest her brother and when it was not. Today she felt it was the latter scenario and would have been correct if she’d cared to press. Kou’s building was not too far from Belou’s stomping grounds, at least. Mei slipped away from him to hunt down Bel as soon as they were inside.

She did not bother to wait and see what business Barita had with her brother and gave no pause when she heard the reason given as she went by. It was his business to swallow that accusation; Mei had already made it clear what her stance on their pretend was. No defense for him. She heard his gunpowder rebuttal and bit the inside of her cheek. “See you,” she called over her shoulder, waving. He probably didn’t see it, but she hadn’t bothered to look back at him either.

When she was in the safety of Belou’s arms her mood improved almost immediately. “I’m so glad,” she sighed, pressing the bridge of her nose to his collarbone. “You scared me so much, Christ, were you trying to give me a heart attack?” she complained. “Kou’s face, too, you ass.” She whined. It was affectionate though, because she really had nothing but that for her ever-present Demon. Playing bitter toward him was hardly worth the time, either. He knew her heart; better now.

“I’m… well… I’m, I don’t know. You know how it—fuck, I don’t know where I’m going with any of this, honestly.” She started, shaking her head and running her fingers along his spine. Mei could have tried at coherence, but it would have been a weak effort. She touched his chest. “No, he doesn’t, does he?” she agreed.

Mei was easy enough to pull along, following Bel through halls that had become a familiar comfort over the years. She never partook in the offerings here beyond those Belou contrived himself; she liked her sins with a little bitter and it was better when she was riding Kou’s old friends into oblivion. There was no reason to pay for affection. “I don’t know what I want, Bel. I don’t know anything right now. I just want to be here with you. I want you. You understand me. I understand you.” She shrugged and smiled, lacing her fingers with his.

“Is it too early for you to start smuggling a minor booze?” she asked with a laugh. “I just don’t want to think right now.” Mei admitted. “He’s exhausting.” In every way. Mei hung her arms over his shoulders, pressing her face into the hollow between his shoulder blades. “How about we just talk about how you’re going to make it up to me?” She asked. “You scared me yesterday. Broke my heart, my beautiful Belou. How dare you.” She was pouting, but her hold was gentle. Mei was a good girl for Belou. She always had been. Her tantrums were sweet for him when they were volatile for Kou. But Belou had never denied her the love she craved. Belou had always been there; when she was young and when she had grown up. Her brother was still wallowing in their past.

“Our heart is fine, I think, but it missed you.” She hadn’t been thinking of that last night, but it wasn’t a lie either. Mei felt a relief now that she hadn’t quite known she’d been wanting.

-

Ivena nodded, but her expression said she was not sold on his plan. “You do look lovely in white.” She agreed. No more on that matter. If he wished to continue pushing for her participation in his scheming he’d get no reward. She had been very clear she would not be taking an escort. “I am also fond of white. I had been considering a snow queen,” she said, because it was the sort of image he would like without committing to coordination.

They took the drive to school in an easy silence and Ivena soaked in the morning sun as it shafted through the small, aggressive car’s windows. She was fond of the same vehicles her brother favored but had never driven herself much anywhere, so she was content so long as she looked complimentary in the passenger seat. It was not vanity that cultured those preferences in her so much as it was what she was accustomed to.

She clucked her tongue at him when they reached the academy campus. “I have broken no hearts, braht,” she said lightly. That included his. “I am a very honest woman. I cannot be held at fault for the rest, can I?” she asked, arched brow and the faintest curl of amusement on her lips. He was dramatic, her brother. Dramatic, but true to his heart which was what made him shine to her. A curious turn, then, that it was Kou’s subversive edge that made her own heart flutter. “I will invite some of them of course, and many friends and colleagues from work as well. The family’s men too.” Ivena said, counting the groups off on her fingers. “Mei will be a VIP invite, of course. I would like to give her something light to enjoy after her ordeal.” She did not mention Mei’s brother, though her brother would be able to guess that invite would be given with special care as well.   


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Re: Guts.
« Reply #85 on: December 11, 2016, 05:30:44 pm »
He smirked a little, though it wasn't as mischievous as it was regretful, when she remembered his performance, last night. "He didn't even tell me what was going on. He just told me to be him and then he had Teddy lug me along." he whimpered as he comforted his own cheek. "At a standstill with Strada, he kicked me in the back and told me to run, so I did." The rest she knew. It seemed her brother was as reckless as he was ruthless. The details would please Mr. Tzeng, surely.

Belou was distressed to hear her sentences fracture, and his lips followed on some words because they were bound now. His little lovely had been hurt. He soothed her best he could with his attention. He was good at that. "Then you will be here with me for as long as you like. I trust Barita will keep the pesky brother longlegs away." His fingers squeezed hers back.

Her demon stood there for her, counting her breaths on his spine through the thin shirt. He knew when he could turn around and walk her to one of the chairs. He sat on the floor with his hands on the padded arm, as he looked at her. "It doesn't matter that you're a minor if its my repentance." he said with a big smile. If only his biggest sin was to give out liquor to those that hadn't the years. He kissed her knee and stood up. He would be a poor inhabitant of this house if he didn't keep himself with a bar.

"Why don't you stay for a day or two?" people could get lost in here. No time and no limits. Immortal playmates and bottomless vices. They cried when their money ran dry. This was not your usual pleasure palace. It was based on the energies of Succubae and Incubus. Other brothels faded in comparison. Mr. Tzeng was a genius. He liked to build little ecosystems that would function without him. Belou generated funds while doing what Heaven had forbidden him from. Everyone was happy. "I'll be by your side and I won't force anything on you unless you ask." He brought a glass on a foot back to her after having played with substances a bit. It didn't have a name. Gentle on the tongue, sweet and dark to comfort her, while it also burned her mind.

He teased it to make the liquid more attractive to her. It wasn't corruption, really, it was just chemistry and presentation. He'd put it on the low table if she wanted none. Her brother liked vodka, and Belou would try that for her next, with a side of Kou's favorite cigarettes, but that would not help her, even if that's what she thought she wanted. Admittedly, indulging in hurts was a process toward being content, also. The painted man that had come yesterday, looking to spend his salary, came to mind.

"Would you like me to kiss you better, baby Mei?" he asked, on his knees infront of her again. His hand laid on her stomach, pushing her brother's shirt up so he could caress her skin. It was a light worship, a tentative care. His other hand touched his mouth and dipped two fingers to his tongue. The petting hand circled the button of her jeans. "Would you like me to give you other memories?" he fell forward slowly, until his head was on her abdomen. He sighed with comfort and wrapped his arms around her back to keep her stomach tighter to his face. "I am your willing slave, as always."

-

Ilya could not disagree with her. His sister usually took care to be gentle with other people's hearts. He could argue that she was not so kind with his, but he knew her honesty was her best way of dealing with his advances. Still, a lying kiss every now and then wouldn't hurt anyone. Ilya was content and smiling at that instead of asking her where Kou fit in her arrangements. It was a good send off. He'd not sour it.

The silver car with its black details quietly darted off just in time for Kame to greet her. His brown hair was proper as always, and he was almost at the height of her preferred lover. His features were a bit more juvenile, and there was none of the dangerous edges and depths, but he wore the school uniform well, completed with an expensive leather satchel. "I-Ivena. Fancy meeting you." he said, though he'd been the one to approach from quite a distance. Nervous. "Ah. Do you mind if I walk you?"

He was a polite boy. She knew of his family's financial crisis a year back, but also that Ilya had not been forced to take their home or their fingers because of a miraculous change of direction in the business that was now more than thriving. "We're going to the same class."

-

Teddy had another suit ready by the time Kou came back up. There was blood on his collar and fresh cuts on his cheeks. Dirt in every details of his expression. Somehow, his hair had become better from whatever abuse he'd found down there. "Research go ok?" Teddy asked, holding out his arm with the tailoring. Kou gave his brooding null answer as he pulled the tie off. Ouran sighed and wanted to say something encouraging.

Kou was wearing all black by the time they returned to the car, his face as clean as a wet napkin could make it. A cigarette hung from his mouth as he leaned on his knuckles, looking out the cracked window. "I'm sorry, Kou." Ouran mumbled from the front. He huffed and blew smoke.

"s'not even close to your fault, Aitawa. Something I did. Don't worry about it. Don't we have some examples to set today? I hear someone downtown is acting up." Teddy took a sharp turn and Kou ashed out the window. "I also sort of feel like visiting Susie again. What's Bolo doing?" he said inside an indifferent sigh.

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #86 on: December 12, 2016, 05:57:40 am »
Ivena glanced at Kame and if she was surprised it was impossible to tell. “No, I don’t mind,” she said lightly, wrapping her hands around the strap of her school bag. “We seem to have many of the same classes,” she remarked. Kame had not made a great impact on Ivena; she knew enough about him and found him kind enough that she did not mind filing him away as a polite acquaintance or even a bit of a friend. That was approximately where her assessment of his character stopped. Ivena had no other reason to give him great consideration.

Her manner toward all the boys in class was the same; sweet enough to keep tiny hopes sparking but not a bit more. Today she did seem a little more engaged than usual. “Do you think you will be able to attend my masquerade this year?” she asked as they walked, though her tone did little to indicate whether she was hoping for a particular answer. “I am planning to make it worth everyone’s while, of course. I know there is always a sacrifice to be made, selecting Halloween plans.” Ivena looked very concentrated as they went. Kame would remember a similar encounter last year. She was very serious about her parties. Ivena waved off the subject a moment later. “Forgive me, it was a sudden question. I was speaking to my brother about it on the way to school, that’s all.”

Ivena inclined her head slightly. “You have never asked me to walk with you to class before, Kame. Was there something you needed?” she asked, as if she’d just realized he’d put some effort into approaching her. She was an odd bird, in some ways. There was no doubt she was aware of her charm but seemed to handle it all so practically. Her brother was to blame for that, though Kame wouldn’t know.

She stopped abruptly, her own question forgotten. “Kame, do you know who that is?” she asked suddenly, and she was the most animated he’d have ever seen her. The object of her new line of questioning was at the far end of the hall, conversing with Mrs. Linton. A small girl, smaller than Mei and built like a frail bird, with a round face and daintily pointed chin. Blue eyes and a shock of bobbed hair with the same breezy tone, though it looked nearly like slate as it curled around her cheeks in the flat corridor light. A new transfer to their school, and so very late in the year. Ivena did not look happy. She knew the answer to her own question before Kame could be so kind as to confirm for her. That was Az and Az was Strada and Az was a Demon with the worst sort of temper. “Do you know why she’s here?”

-

Mei sighed. “I wouldn’t mind that. I could probably stay here with you forever and it’d be okay.” She said. It wasn’t true, but it wasn’t really a lie either. She laughed. Belou was nothing if not accommodating. It was as good as being selfish, for him, but she was the same that way. Sometimes Mei wondered if she would have been a different woman without Bel in her life. She supposed it didn’t matter in the end.

“I always ask and you know that.” She laughed. Belou had been her first foray into his sin and she supposed it might have been an affront to his pride if he had not been. She’d matured into her own preferences but with Bel she liked to be out of her mind, regardless of what that might entail. Anything to obfuscate the pitiful truths of her own desires was a welcome distraction. Belou always knew just how to get the job done, too. Sometimes it made her miserable.

Mei took the seat Belou had offered and watched him pour her drink. She wasn’t particularly happy to hear that it had been Kou’s plan to send her dear Demon into the line of fire. There must have been more elegant solutions he could have employed if he’d cared to think about it. Kou would likely be proud of his decision though, because it was the sort of think Daddy would think had grit. She sighed. Really, those two were so troublesome. She thought she must be very tragic to have fallen so deeply in love with her brother. In the end, she would be the first to tell anyone of his many, many faults. Mei touched her cheek, below Bel’s eye.

She held the glass he handed her and smiled at him. “You always know just the thing. It feels a little like you’re cheating at it now, though,” she said, reaching to put her palm against his chest. Mei didn’t know much about Demon contracts, only that Trace had one and couldn’t have said where she ended and her Demon began. Mei still felt quite sure of herself, but it was undeniable she and Belou were tied closer. If their grasp of one another had been intuitive before, it was almost invasive now. Somehow, Mei didn’t mind it. Belou had always been a haven. Nothing had really changed that.

He was shameless as usual, stroking her stomach while she sipped at his concoction. “You’re so obedient it’s almost shameful, you know.” She mused. The drink was strong and heady. She was glad. He played any role he was given with inhuman finesse, of course. “Today I kind of just want you to love me, Belou. I don’t think I care what that means. I just want you to love me and let me love you too.” She took another drink from the glass and then set it down, tangling her freed fingers in his hair.

-

A pretty bronze thing with a spilling mane of pink sugar hair slipped into Libertine’s room and sidled over to his place on the floor. “Mister, can I escort you to a new room?” she asked, and her strawberry stare was swimming. They’d never shut down the pleasure house just because a Tzeng was around, but the little princess did get her privacy when she was visiting Belou. The Succubus had cleared the other rooms that fell under Bel’s personal domain already. “We’ve got plenty more where that came from,” she said, reaching down to slide a finger along a lock of his hair and catch the white dust that had landed there. “I’ll show you to one of my personal rooms and bring whatever or whomever you like. Just say the word.”

If Libertine followed her, she’d take his hand and lead him past the opulent rooms Mei had just gone through. If he was particularly observant, he might even catch the ghost of her voice as they crossed unseen paths. “Tell me, Mister Libertine, what can I be for you today? Or, if you like, shall I call some friends?”

He’d been good fun for a good number of them last night and he’d had the coin to make it sweeter. She’d been in the tangle too, tipping liquor to his lips and wearing a different face. Lib hadn’t ordered anyone in particular, so she and the others had simply given him whatever their previous clients had requested. She’d been a milky-skinned boy when he’d seen her last, with a spatter of freckles across the bridge of her nose and hair that curled in thick copper coils. She’d left him with the others in the early morning and was only mildly surprised to be escorting him through the halls now. It was not uncommon for their patrons to lose themselves in this place and stay for days at a time, but he’d struck her as the sort accustomed to the haze. She had figured he’d be gone by now.


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Re: Guts.
« Reply #87 on: December 12, 2016, 07:47:38 pm »
Kame had a habit of not making a big deal out of his emotions. His mother thought it was a problem. There were a handful of boys who coincidentally really liked all the subjects the pale Vladenko girl had on her schedule. Kame was perhaps the most likely to have chosen them for himself and not some silly crush. He was levelheaded and a successful student. Her classes made a lot of sense. He liked to be quiet when his friends went over the fine points of the age-old debate Ivena Vs. Mei. Usually he would smile and be embarrassed, both for himself and them, when they asked where he stood on the matter. “How lucky for me.” He answered and laughed before he realized he was running out of breath. It was a far-fetched compliment, but he was still proud he’d dared. If she was flattered she didn’t show it.

His eyes widened a bit when she asked about his possible attendance to her famous Halloween celebration. It took him a few steps by her side to recall the same amount of attention last year. He’d gone as fireman, then. She’d not needed a fireman’s services. His resolve toward the letter in his satchel was fading, but he was still enjoying the glances he could understandably steal at this distance. He shook his head at her apology. She looked beautiful in the morning, as the light from above, cheap, mixed with the young sun’s. Her hair made the most of any illumination. It was a widely known fact. “I’ll come. It was well worth my while last year.” He said and smiled in a way he’d practiced only minutes ago. His confidence was building.

The timing of her question was perfect - what did any boy in her classes need - and he was free to mistake it for destiny when the last person left this particular area of lockers. They were passing two rows, and if she stopped he might too. A bit of privacy in the morning bustle, enough to extend the letter and the words he’d recanted and written down. When she halted to listen to him he inhaled so he wouldn’t falter, and reached into the outer pocket of the bag slung over his shoulder. “You see, Ivena…” but her stop hadn’t been for him. He swallowed the declaration and question to look where her attention was headed, more surprised than dampened.

He did know she was. Boys made it their business to see about pretty girls enrolling. He’d not been so interested in the pictures on Joseph’s phone as he passed it around, but was a little stunted now at how adorable the little thing was in her blue hair. She’d seemed taller on Joseph’s device. “She transferred last week, officially, but I haven’t seen her in school until now. Her name’s Az.” This kind of voice was the reason he did rather well in school. He came off as neither a reckless ruffian or a romantic, fair haired obsessive. Perhaps Kame had been doomed in his quest for her heart from the beginning. But he would fit by her side from an outside perspective.

Ivena was infinitely pretty, this engaged, and it froze him. The hand that had darted to the letter now retreated. “Do you know her? You seem like you do.” He tried and panned from his favorite girl to the new flavor a few times. It appeared beautiful things were always connected. His spirit wasn’t so low, but he’d definitely lost the courage. Two girls came to open the lockers behind them and his perfect moment was gone, anyway. He was a bit relieved, actually, and his shoulders lowered. “If you’d like to, since I represent the committee, I can introduce you and  you can show her around.” He offered. Ivena had done one or two introductions in the past. Not that he’d closely monitored this when the transfer was a boy. Surely Ivena and Az would cause a stir, walking down the halls together.

If she agreed he’d take her and make their acquaintance. It was a testament to his feelings for Ivena that he was barely fazed by speaking so formally to Az. He was suddenly a little frustrated with himself, a bit angry, almost, upon approaching. He would address Mrs. Linton and then the new girl, offering his hand and bow with a bright smile before pointing to Ivena. He’d have very little trouble announcing who Ivena was.

-

Belou had another relationship to forever than Mei. But he still agreed. It would be just what he wanted, to spend her life together. He’d not likely allow it, even if she insisted, though. She deserved a rich life, even though he imagined such riches come from all kinds of sensual encounters rather than experiences that contained other sins, or even virtues. His smile was open-mouthed when she tasted the concoction. Her approval meant the world. His hand locked over hers when she touched his heart and he laughed innocently when she spoke of his obedience. Servitude was a great aphrodisiac. He was nothing if not a merchant of great aphrodisiacs.

“But I do love you.” He reminded her. “More than anyone can love anyone, baby Mei.” It was Haven’s vanity that spoke, then. How could any mortal even hope to compete with the vastness of his love? They simply weren’t capable by design. For his low tier, Belou still held to some assumptions from his time as an angel. On his knees, he shifted to the side of her chair, wrapping his arms around her head and leaning her into him as he rocked them. “Beloved girl. I’ll teach you what love feels like, then, what it is.” He promised and kissed her ontop of her head.

Eventually he would stand and walk over to his bar again. There was a phone there, also, one that could not give an alarm, only call out. Privacy and comfort, for his guests. He spoke lightly into it and then nodded politely. His workers did well. He rarely had a reason to raise his voice. Mr. Tzeng didn’t treat people like slaves unless they were, and condoned Belou’s gentle hand toward good results.  “I ordered you some snacks.” He said and took up a long bottle with blue contents. He left the cork on the floor behind, with his shirt, when he came back to her, settling in a chair by her side. His feet were on the table and he laughed as though this was the most unseemly thing he’d done all week. He tipped the bottle and drank almost half of it with loud gulps. Belou was lewd.

“Oh, before I forget.” He said, eyes a bit distant, lost in what effect his bottle was pregnant with. “I have a little present for you.” He said with a chuckle. He stood quickly to take his place behind her,  gently massaging her shoulders and working his way in. Her neck was one of his favorite parts. “For when you’re tired of my love.” Always so modest. He leaned down to touch his cheek to the top of her head, closing his eyes as his hands continued to knead her. “He’s from yesterday. The only good thing, I think. I remembered his voice from the phone-call, and, if I assessed him correctly, he is quite our taste.” His voice would vibrate through her skull. “Inky fellow, likes a lot of things in here. Bet he likes you, too.” Man like Libertine wouldn’t say no, either way. Belou wouldn’t have anyone say no to his Mei today. “He’s kind of wild.” He whispered, scandalized, squeezing her muscles firmer, teasing. “If nothing else, he’d quite some eye-candy, isn’t he? Too many suits and too much grooming in your normal life.”

-

Lib remained where he sat, roused from his pleasant fever by the bright-tressed company. He had a smile for her, as though it could pay for any of her favors. “Oh, hello, you.” He said and eyed her up and down, shaking the empty flask while she examined his hair. Child out of soda. He was delighted when she found some residue on the black ends and caught her wrist deftly to bring her fingers to his nose. It did very little for him, that amount, but it spoke volumes of his personality that he’d inhale from her fingertips anyway, holding her gaze. “I’d like another room, yes. Seems this one has lost its crowd.” He said, flicking his tongue over her nails to make sure he’d not missed anything on his way up. Lib had his balance with him for most part. They must still be on good terms, which meant he’d not spent what he’d earned, yet.

Her offer was rather pleasing. Lib made a habit out of loving the one you’re with, and this specimen was much to his liking. He was willing to bet her skin made a lovely backdrop for pristine, white lines. He threw his jacket over his torso and squeezed her hand when she took his. “Word.” He said, so she’d know he accepted, as though his following wasn’t confirmation enough. Places like this would have been his home if he could afford it. He bit his lip when she offered him any partner in the world in her. “Oh, I think you’re doing quite fine as you are, Love.” He said and spun her so her back would meet the wall by a pretty door. The ratio of demons in Tzeng’s city was remarkable. For this kind of tourism, the debauched kind, there was nothing like what the Syndicate offered. Perhaps riches from this was what made Tzeng so prolific in keeping the different arms from warring. Lib’s body was on hers and he was about to deeply sample what she offered, mouth wide as though he’d eat hers when he heard a recently familiar voice on the other side. His plan to devour the succubus halted. He smiled and tapped a gentle finger against the wall, above her head. “Could you be her?” he asked with an indicated Please.

“Do you have a name?” he added, realizing now she’d not given one. In the fray of things, when there were more bodies than he had limbs, he didn’t usually bother, but one-on-one he liked some intimacy. He was sentimental. He was also familiar with the answer she’d been taught to give, but ‘whatever he wanted it to be’, was actually her given one. “And of course you should invite your friends if they’re as lovely as you. Wouldn’t hurt if they don’t mind biting. I’m famished, you see.” He said and took a step back, easily lifting her into his arms, laughing and carrying her through the corridor. He nuzzled her neck and thought he remembered her from yesterday, then. She’d been a dainty boy with a perfect, delighting voice. Someone else’s favorite, but not against Lib’s preferences. Sometimes he just liked a large menu. “Do you have anything on you, now?” he asked as he continued on their way, assuming he knew where they were headed. As long as she did not protest, he’d continue. “Keep it on my tab, of course. You can put it directly in my mouth.” He suggested. Libertine was a dark presence, mostly, with the hardness of his bones acting like a first wall - patterned wildling - but he rarely bothered to enforce the danger he exuded on account of the confidence it afforded him. Looked a wolf perhaps, but a playful one. “And then find us a room where I can try your new places, see how they hold up to what you felt like yesterday.” He laughed with excitement.

VenomousEve

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #88 on: December 12, 2016, 10:41:12 pm »
Ivena was displeased and it settled into the stiffness of her shoulders. She maintained her composure nicely, otherwise, and nodded at Kame. She had not noticed what he’d been about to do or the letter in his hand. Surely, if she had, she would have been polite enough to accept his efforts. It was a mystery as to how she might have responded; she was the sort that always seemed a little surprised when boys took the time to make confessions, regardless of how many times it happened. Ivena was rather above all that, by some estimations, and perhaps her male classmates were just so very small she’d never noticed them in that way. Mei would have said otherwise, by subtlety. Ivena was a focused girl, and particular. Her dancing, her brother, her work, and Kou. There simply wasn’t much room for anything else. Mei would have told Kame it was simply that Ivena assumed they all ought to know better; why confess to a woman that had not made it apparent she wanted a confession?

“Az.” Ivena echoed. So it was. Azmila’atan, wrathful beast and Strada pet. They had met. “I have seen her around at work.” Ivena answered. It would not have been a difficult leap to believe the delicate little thing had made her way onto the same photo sets as tall, graceful Ivena. If they had ever shared the camera it surely would have been a delight. Ivena held her wrist behind her back. “I would be happy to show her around,” she said politely, as if it were she that were doing the favor. She would follow him over to the teacher and Azmila with measured steps, as if it were a bit of an effort to remain paced behind him. Ivena never rushed anywhere, but she did seem eager. Or anxious.

Azmila did not look half so shocked when she turned her little heart face toward the pair as they arrived. “Ivka.” The Demon said. She sounded sleepy, a dreamy look in her large clear eyes. Az was drifting when she wasn’t raging. “Good to see you.” She glanced at Kame and seemed puzzled by his presence before she smiled sweetly. “Thank you for bringing her to meet me. We are good friends.” Az said. Ivena shifted where she stood but said nothing on that comment. It would have been rude to protest, anyway.

“This is so unexpected,” Ivena said at last. “But a pleasant surprise, of course.” She followed. Az tugged at a coil of her wavelet hair and shrugged. Her stare seemed to sharpen on the taller girl briefly.

“Is it?” she asked, and the penetrating force of that look was immediately softened into something hazy and esoteric. “I hope it isn’t a problem.” She said, contemplative. Ivena shook her head.

“No, of course not.” She said, but of course it was. “Here, let me show you around. Kame, I’m sorry to leave you this way. You can find me after class if you had something you needed to say,” she offered gently. A consolation prize when she hadn’t realized he’d been trying to begin with. Ivena was rather quick to steer Az off on their own though and her apologetic glance back at the boy seemed distracted at best.

“You helped us arrange the move,” Az began, when they were out of earshot. The Demon seemed not to understand Ivena’s discomfort. “So I thought you’d be expecting me.”

“Not here, no,” Ivena said shortly.

“Well, not that we don’t all like you very much, Ivka, but you’re crossing this way and that so…” Azmila gestured at nothing. Something of a babysitter, then. Ivena could understand it, but she hadn’t expected Az of all options to be the one left to keep tabs. Trust was thin on both sides of the equation. “Don’t worry, I’m not here to cause trouble.” Ivena sighed softly. Somehow, it was not as comforting as she had hoped.

-

Mei was happy with Belou. If her brother paid her the same sort of mind and had the same heart, she’d likely have been content the rest of her days. Which was not to say that she’d have ever traded Bel for Kou. She was a greedy thing, really. “You spoil me,” she said at mention of snacks. “I like it. Don’t stop.” She told him. Mei finished her glass. She’d never held her liquor exceptionally well, but she was delightful when she wasn’t sober. It wasn’t a great travesty that she was already settling into a happy inebriation.

She slithered off the chair and crawled onto his, placing herself in his lap without much thought to the intrusion. Mei pressed her cheek to his chest, throwing her arms around his neck. “I think I’m fairly lovable.” She said, thoughtful. “You make me feel lovable. Are you tricking me?” she asked him, snuggling herself against him before sighing and crawling back to her own chair. She crossed her legs and perched her elbows on her knees so that she could cradle her chin in her palms comfortably. “Sometimes I think it would be good if I could fall in love with Aitawa.” She muttered. Mei had never proposed a future with Bel, because Bel was always in her future. Bel was also the sort of creature that existed to be enjoyed by many. He was both of their freedoms when Mei’s heart was tied up.

Mei relaxed under his fingertips, but sat up straighter when he mentioned Libertine. “Lib.” She said. “He’s the one who stole me away, you know.” She did not deny what Bel had said though. How very dedicated of him to recall it, what with all the other drama Kou had inflicted on them both. “I guess he was the only good thing, wasn’t he?” she asked, as if she needed him to confirm it. Because surely he’d felt the ravaging force of Kou on her body and soul last night as well. Lib had captured her and hauled her off to new enemies, but somehow the memory of his ‘goodness’ was a bit cleaner than her dear brother. Mei wondered if Kou would hate her for that.

“He’s here?” she asked, and looked up at Belou where he stood. “I think I owe him money.” Mei paused. “I owe him something, I guess.” His voice was like silk spreading filmy and cool over her mind. It mixed with the alcohol warming her veins and she smiled at him. Bel felt so very nice. “You find the nicest presents.” She said. “I bet he’d make me feel miserable. Kou would be so angry if he found out.” Mei laughed loudly then, Bel’s blue eye shining. “I don’t even want him to find out.” And she really didn’t. Part of her already felt guilty for looking for something to wash his touch from her skin, but honestly he should be thankful. Damn Kou. She couldn’t protect both of their hearts when he couldn’t figure out what the fuck he wanted in the first place.

“I’m never tired of your love, Belou, but you can invite whatever company you want today. I just want to be miserable and I want you to love me. I want anyone to love me.”

-

She smiled as if she was flattered, starting at him with those hypnotic eyes the color of bursting fruits and sunsets. The Demons in this house were beautiful, but humans were want to lust for the things they couldn’t have. Sometimes the shapes they were asked to take were mundane, at best, but the subject matter was rarely what caused inspiration at its core. When she was fine as she was, it was because they wanted too much or too little. Indecisiveness or eagerness for quick satisfaction. Belou’s house played for the gut-wrenching release of their patrons’ hearts, though, the blackest and hungriest parts. Sometimes she wore her own face to begin, but rarely was it so to the end. Even those that came to desire her own form, begged for expressions of their own imagining.

When she heard Libertine’s request, though, it caused her to pause. Belou might object, or Mr. Tzeng, but it wasn’t expressly against the rules. The only one who’d bother causing a fit was Mr. Wing, after all. And Kou had left when Barita had absorbed his fired aggression. It was a curious thing then, when her edges seemed to blur and he blinked and found her smaller, Mei’s curves and dark hair, but speaking a different name. “Syren is what I’m called now.” She said. Unlike most Demons, who maintained the names of their Heavenly past, the Succubi and Incubi often took whatever name they desired. It was of their nature to want and to take, so Syren was as much her name as the one she’d been given in the Garden. If he’d wanted that one, she would not have had a long enough memory to give it to him. “Unless you’d prefer to call me Mei Wing Tzeng.” Syren said, and produced a small tin of pills in opalescent shades. “I’ll call some friends then.” She said.

As if her had been summoned, a handsome young man came striding around the corner. He was no Demon, but hardly needed a shifting shape to be desirable to most. He nodded briefly at Lib, amber eyes through chestnut lashes, and then pressed a soft secret to Syren’s ear. Mei’s dark brows arched high and then she laughed with Tzeng daughter’s voice. The man was quick to leave. “I’ll call some friends or, if you like, we can go visit that girl ourselves. It seems you have an invitation, when you choose to use it.” Syren was a bit curious herself. She’d never been around when Bel had his princess over to play. She smiled Mei’s cheekiest smile for him. “You must be special.”         

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Re: Guts.
« Reply #89 on: December 13, 2016, 07:15:26 pm »
Kame was happy enough to hold a conversation with her, even though it was shallow in comparison to what he would have preferred to say. It was his own fault. He smiled to himself through the disappointment, presented with the image of Ivena sharing a photograph with Az. What would he have to do to find those pictures? By no stretch was he close enough with Ivena to ask for them. Maybe Joseph in all his enthusiasm could dig something up in some hidden directory. “Then she will be well taken care of and we won’t worry about her.” He said with a light smile in time for them to reach the little, newest student.

Kame stood straight for Az’s inspection. His infatuation let him be rather formidable under almost any scrutiny. His friends admired that about him, and sometimes discussed his source of confidence. He didn’t tell them he relied on his one weakness for it. He was sure to meet Az’s eyes, even. She had a lovely air about her, the way the usual set of her mouth would reveal her next emotion clearly was engaging to say the least. A contrast to Ivena. Ivka was a pretty nickname. He’d say it to himself secretly, later, and dream about using it correctly, one day. Despite his collected exterior, Kame was furiously romantic. “Not at all. We want you to feel welcome here.” He said to the girl who was really a demon. “And Ivena is a good friend to anyone.” He added.

There was new hope for him, when Ivena would accept a meeting later. Suddenly his bag felt heavy on his shoulder again, with the paper ark weighted by all the words he’d carefully bled with the best writing utensil he owned. He had excellent handwriting and his “T”’s were the best Mrs. Linton had ever seen. If only his hands had been better at flicking silver blades or his fingers had a habit of tugging ceramic crescents to send off silver caps, instead. He bowed as the girls left. Mrs. Linton thought it looked eager and stiff at the same time. “Later then.” He said at the lowest of his fold, and some students hurrying by stopped at the loud announcement. He was worrying too much about the volume of his pulse to worry about that of his voice.

-

“Tricking you?” Belou murmured. Part of his livelihood was deceit. He’d not willingly veil her eyes unless she was sure what was happening. “Of course not. You would know the heavy in my heart, anyway.” He explained. He continued to have at her nerves from behind. He’d do this for anyone with the money, or a particular propensity for flaring lust, but then it was for his own gain. With Mei, her pleasure was enough, so his fingers really went looking for treasure over her back. “Aitawa is sweet. I’m sure he was quite a rock through this.” Belou was trying to massage her mind too, already dancing the thought of Ouran toward her affections. It was a lot like spinning him into a wall of Kou, though. “There is a girl he’s not cold to.” He said with mischievous voice. “He doesn’t dabble with demons, so I had to see who she was when Kou gossiped about it over a bath. Turns out she’s petite and bought herself some curves for her salary.” He squeezed a little teasingly around her spine. “Her eyes are spirited by nature and her bangs are cut rather straight. I’m sure we know now why he’s okay with speaking to her at length about herself.” Really, if Mei’s heart had been a kind thing, she’d marry that man.

Then he felt her perk and curiously muse about the jackal with drawn on fangs and stories. Transparent little Mei. “He’s here, been here a while.” He promised and hummed a low tune to accompany her own song to convince herself to the idea. Of course. Bel’s starting adoration for the Tzeng daughter had been her potential for his sin, after all. “I hear he’s quite something.” And then Bel took her shoulders, shaking her slowly. “Owe him? Well, then we must see him, baby Mei. We can’t have you dishonor your debts.” He was laughing now, to lift her spirits if he could. And then he huffed. “Tell Kou. We’ll tell him everything. We tell him you’re head over heels for the marked jackal and you’ll move and have little tattooed cubs.” He kissed the back of her head and nodded into her hair to cement it. “Maybe he’ll let you write your name across his heart, too.”

-

It was a bit dangerous to show Lib such a trick when they were dependent on his concentration for steering. She would have known worse than falling from this height or bumping into a wall, though. Lib was excited to see Mei in his arms and tossed her so he could adjust his hold, now that she’d become smaller. “Well, hello Syren.” He said and lifted her higher on his chest so he could steal a kiss. This one was better practiced than Mei, and aimed to please him rather than experiencing him. He was fond of either sentiment. “But that’s not your name, is it?” he said when she offered to listen to someone else’s. He wanted to love Syren, and all the friends she’d offer. Jackal cubs are blind and close to the litter. He liked to make his beds into dirty dens. “So you’re Syren to me.”

His attention went to the pretty something that came along. “Oh, hello good sir. Are you the sea, come to play with us, or the rocks that’ll sink me?” he wasn’t the best student as a child, but he liked some of the stories. It was not the role of this man, though, leaving a message and going. Lib waited impatiently for her to spill the secret she’d been delivered. He gasped upon becoming wiser, and if the theatric was a lie, he believed it as he let Syren’s legs down to twist her and hold her chest first into the wall. “Oh, I am very special.” But how could he be, with her aptitude for skin, and him being only one costumer. He wasn’t hurt to be a speck on her starry sky. He had his own galaxy, too. His body pressed into hers and he fit his hand between her and the intrusive wall. “But I think I shall try this real Mei first.” He said and let his hand cup at the junction where her legs met her hips. For all his understanding, he’d liked to be remembered, at least. “If I have any money left after, you and your friends come see me.” He suggested as he freed her of the pills. “I love you, Syren.” He said lightly into her ear before letting her go. “And I want to love you again, soon.” He was on his way, thumb opening the tin by his mouth and tongue dipping to have three of them stick.

-

Belou noticed the door before she could, and immediately snuffed their conversation by reaching for her drink again. “Come, baby Mei. Have another sip and we can have an adventure.” He said and held the rim of the mix she’d approved of to her lips. But, as he held Lib’s eyes behind her and approaching, he wouldn’t tip, only lift, to have her follow, standing up. Once she was on her feet - it was a minor game compared to the ones they’d play together, it was not unthinkable she would go along with this much, at least – he would grant her a little drink to flavor her mouth.

Lib was quiet, as he knew to be. The jacket lay forgotten in the hall, somewhere between here and where he’d left Syren. He was a black-legged hunter, skin peeking out through the wounds in the denim. He’d never worn shoes, today. Belou had a hard time feigning everything was as it should be as Libertine moved faster on his toes. In fact, Belou as a bit worried about the silent velocity building behind his precious Mei, but the grin on their invited Jackal wasn’t hungry in the worst sense. Lib leaped, a spear, to expertly coil around her, a cage for her like yesterday. Belou yelped as Mei and her new armor crashed into the table. It was an impressive introduction, and it had left Lib with all the damage, and Mei with nothing but her surprise.

“Hello, Captive.” Lib whispered beneath her, where they’d landed in the remains of the table. The pills he’d taken were vivid in his blood now. “Don’t you have something for me?” he asked and unwound around her, though he kept his arms underneath and over her shoulder, to leave her arms outside of the equation. Belou was quick to toss the drink to the side, the shattering pure. He laughed and kneeled in the rubble, crawling over to his held Mei until he could go about undoing her jeans.

“Is it your birthday, Mei?” Belou asked as he lifted her legs to have her toes pointed up. He drew off her jeans quickly and threw them the same way as the glass. “Because you get such fine presents.” He winked at Lib underneath her. “Treat her well. Mei’s a bit down today.”

Lib pressed his hips up where he lay, to in turn lift hers enthusiastically into Belou tugging at her large shirt. “I think she likes this. She’ll be happy soon.” Lib said into her ear, waiting for her to turn her head and give him a kiss Syren couldn’t hope to imitate. “Won’t you, Mei?” and then, with some affection and heat on his breath. “Did you miss me? I missed you.”

-

“I said I’m sorry.” And Ouran was. Teddy grumbled from behind the wheel. Kou kept staring out the window. “Kou, I know it’s not enough, but…”

“It’s not you, Aitawa.” Teddy injected finally. This even had Kou turning. Teddy met his eyes in the rearview mirror. “You should know by now that he doesn’t do this kind of stuff when he’s pissed at someone else.” It stunted Ouran for a bit before realization softened the worry he’d been wearing all morning.

“You see everything, don’t you, Teddy?” Kou muttered through his teeth and rolled his eyes. Sinew on his neck was lifting.

“Where’s Mei, Kou?” the large driver posed. Ouran quickened further and turned to look at their boss. There was darkness underneath Kou’s eyes.

“Where’s Mei? Where’s your fucking manners, Teddy? Just drive.” Kou could be clever when he was volatile, so the lack of poise and wit was a great indicator of something calamitous. He’d usually allow Teddy almost anything, as long as he spoke, but now he was furious.

“Where to? To Mei?”

There was no time between the end of that last question and the fact of Kou’s palm against the back of Ouran’s headrest. The Tzeng son had launched himself between the front seats, breaking Ouran’s neck-support in that motion. Foreword to reckless violence. “Why the fuck do you want to know, Ted?” he snarled. Ouran was frightened and breathed accordingly. “You know what? Stop the car. I’ll put manners back in to your gorilla skull.” But there would be no such lesson as Teddy took a hard turn. Kou was flung like a scarecrow blown off his cross. By the time the car was right again, on a smaller road, Kou’s head was bleeding and there was a spider-web pattern on his window. He laid in the backseat, arm over his eyes. After a few minutes he had a cigarette in his mouth again, sighing clouds. Teddy took them toward the city house.

“It’s only Mei that can get to him like that.” Teddy explained to a terrified Ouran, who nodded in agreement.

“What’s happened to Mei, then?” Ouran tried. Kou pushed his knuckles into the back of Ouran’s seat. It was enough to keep everyone quiet for a minute.