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Guts. // Royal Blood Read 4383 times

VenomousEve

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Guts. // Royal Blood
« on: February 06, 2017, 03:57:46 am »
“Ivena?” the voice was thin down the hall. Azmila touched her arm lightly; don’t look back. She hesitated at the doors. An elderly gentleman and his wife stepped gingerly around them, a gust of air curling at the couple’s backs and setting her pale strands blustering. She almost turned. Soft breath. Az was eager to go.

“The car is waiting.” She said. Ivena set her jaw. “Let’s go, Ivka.” Az persisted, a little impatient. It was better not to upset her. Rather, it wasn’t worth upsetting her here. Ivena nodded and followed her out into the late afternoon. It was balmy and bright. The days were getting longer. Az was leisurely for her insistence, shuffling off toward a large black SUV. It wasn’t unlike the vehicles Ilya preferred for work and Ivena reached the car first. A man inside reached across to open the passenger door for her and she was quick to get inside. It was Az who stopped to look behind before climbing into the back. A girl at the hospital doors, long dark hair and a serious expression, stared after them. Azmila buckled herself in. “Hurry up, get moving.” She said. The car pulled away.

-

Mei stood outside the doors long after the car left. She’d cut her hair, but it had certainly been Ivena. She recognized the other girl too; a Demon that had appeared before their last semester. Mei hadn’t seen much of her; she’d skipped a lot of school toward the end. She sighed and tucked her hair behind her ear, stepping back inside. She took out her phone and pulled up Aitawa’s number. He was probably still upstairs. It rang twice. “Is he up?” she asked. He must have been, because she took a seat in the atrium when she ended the call. He was doing better every time she saw him, which was less now that he was awake most of the day and moving around. They’d probably release him by the end of the week by the sound of it. That was good. It had been a long six months.

She leaned back against the wall, hands shoved into the pockets of her coat, and closed her eyes. Teddy kept saying she should talk to him; that she was being ridiculous for dodging around like this. And if Teddy was saying it, repeatedly too, it was probably true. Still, she couldn’t stand the thought of facing him. She was angry with him and disgusted with herself and miserably guilty all at once. She had dreamt of Ouran’s phone call nightly. Woke with panicked sobs. Called Belou to drown herself in more guilt. It was nonsensical, really, to feel responsible. As if hating him then had any bearing on what had happened. But Mei had never denied her self-centeredness, for better or worse.

Mei sat forward and pressed her palms against her eyelids. “So tired…” she breathed softly. It was time to go anyway. Daddy had left Trace an address. She stood, stretching, and headed for the door. She should get in touch with Ilya later. He’d not been in the best mood since Ivena moved out. The girl had all but disappeared after graduation. Mei hadn’t spoken to her at all, though Ilya said she still came home for dinner most nights. Ivena hadn’t been particularly revealing with her plans from what he’d told her, though he did mention she had enrolled in the dance program at the local university. Mei hadn’t asked him whether Ivena had told him that much on her own or he’d gone to find out himself.

Really, she didn’t have any room to question Ilya’s behavior anyway. He’d at least spoken to her brother since the attack. Mei had been stubborn on that front, despite spending most nights by Kou’s hospital bed. She’d been there nearly full time while he’d been unconscious, waking from intermittent sleep to clutch urgently at his hand. Like he might disappear. It had been over a month since he woke up though, and she’d all but disappeared from his room. She gave a different reason for avoiding him every time someone asked. Today, it was because she didn’t want to tell him about work. Yesterday it had been something similar. Mei answered that way because she didn’t know how to explain her own shame to herself. She stood and went back out into the spring afternoon. The sky was turning red.

Mei was slow going to her bike, a clone of Trace’s preferred transport, and tugged a half-crushed pack of cigarettes from her back pocket as she went. Kou’s brand; it was the pack he’d opened up at her apartment when he’d first come to visit. That day seemed like distant history now. Her lighter sparked. Kou would be annoyed if he saw, but she hadn’t really made it a habit. His smell was comforting and, in truth, that had always been an addiction. She preferred to think of happier times alongside her brother, wrapped in his thin haze, a nostalgic phantom. Mei leaned against her bike to enjoy her smoke before leaving. She wondered if he’d asked for her at all, and what Teddy and Ouran had told him. She’d been clear they were not to inform him of her new role in the syndicate. Daddy had won the fight while Kou hadn’t been there to argue. Not that Kou would have changed her decision in the end, anyway.

Mei’s hair whipped behind her, spilling like a dark cape from beneath her helmet, as she pulled out onto the street and raced off toward the meeting spot.

-

Az was lounging on the couch, watching Ivena pace between the kitchen and her room. “You’re still upset. You get upset every time we go, so why do you insist—“ she trailed off, silenced by Ivena’s sharp stare. Azmila shrugged and settled deeper into the pillows. She didn’t mind the way Ivka’s temper simmered. It had a nice ambiance the Demon could appreciate. Still, it was some curious irony that Az was the tranquil one in the apartment. “I wonder if you’re not cut out for this work.” Az said finally.

Ivena stopped her pacing. “Watch your mouth, Demon. I have stood with you all this far, despite the blatant breach of our initial agreements.” She snapped. Azmila rolled her eyes and hung her head over the arm of the couch to stare up at Ivena upside down.

“Initial agreements. Honestly, it was naïve, wasn’t it? The game is bigger than all of that. You want your brother to come out on top when the war comes, right? The other sacrifices should be fine.” She said, waving her hand in nebulous gestures. As if Kou and Mei were abstractions. Barriers without consequence. “Tzeng needs to be uprooted. They hold the Organ trade too tightly and Wei is complacent these days.” Azmila yawned and sat upright. “A few years ago they might have been worth allying with under Strada. Now it’d just be best for the kingdom to topple.” Ivena didn’t need the lecture.

“You’re underestimating Kou, for one, and the rest of the syndicate for another. Strada is being complacent if we think the only way, or the best way, is to kill the heir.” Ivena muttered. “Tzeng’s group must fall, but not this way. When Suri—“ Azmila was on her feet at the name and her shadow grew long on the floor. A flicker of violence in the blue eyes.

“Snakes are unreliable weapons, Ivka. Do not undermine your own credibility here. Suri might have a past marked with Strada but she took the Tzeng name. We haven’t the slightest clue where her loyalties lie.” She said, a curl of smoke from the corner of her lips ghosted along her round cheeks. “You are, yourself, only tediously an ally of Strada. Don’t forget that. I’m not here to be your friend.” The Demon stalked off toward her room. “Kou does not have to die. We would not have agreed to your terms if they were impossible to keep. However, if Kou were to die it would be convenient. That is all. Strada has many arms. You made your deals with the head, not the hand.” Az glanced back at Ivena from the doorway. “In the end that was just a formality for your conscience, right? You would have come to us anyway.” Ivena looked away. She wanted to disagree, but the festering guilt that had taken her to the hospital so many times whispered otherwise.

When she was left alone by the couch, Ivena dialed her brother. She asked him what time he was planning to have supper and if she ought to bring anything. Soft expression with tired eyes. She felt badly about this too. Her reasons for leaving home had been false and hurtful. She needed space. She needed privacy. Ilya was busy anyway. He was still happy when she came to see him though. Ivena would have preferred a little more bitter from the brother that adored her. It would have, at least, satisfied the pouting character she’d grown up with. The way he was now felt like he was trying too hard to convince her back home. It made her heart ache.



-

Syren dusted a film of white powder from the smooth span of her stomach, a meticulous gesture in the orchestrated mess of the room. Shattered bottles here and there, glasses tipped empty on their sides, a slumbering tangle of customers and their evening escorts splayed across the large pillow-laden bed. She yawned and smiled. They’d had a nice evening, this lot. The Succubus slipped into a silk robe and out of the room, padding down the plush hall carpet toward the back maze that was Belou’s collection of pleasure suites.

She found him without too much trouble and he was alone, fortunately. “It’s about that time of year to be settling our accounts with our patrons. There are a few unpaid bills. Sad little ducks.” She said as she sidled up to him, arms around his waist and her chin perched on his shoulder. Syren’s breath was hot on his earlobe. “I think most of them will pay up if we ask nicely, but there are one or two that will need more convincing. You know, the usual.” She pressed her lips against the soft skin of his neck. “Anyone in mind to send out for the dirty work?” she asked. Syren slid her palms up to rake her fingernails lightly against his chest, sighing pleasantly. She would have happily spent the rest of the day in his care if he would allow it. But there was, in fact, real business to attend to. 

Syren removed herself from him. “I was thinking we ought to ask for someone who could do a little extra this year. There’s a new delight being peddled about and it’s the sort of thing our regulars might be into.” She inclined her head. “A little information gathering while we settle the books would sweeten things.” It was a significant understatement. They’d had to remove two customers in the last four months for violent, psychotic episodes. The men had been raving about devils, trembling, and one had tried scratching open Syren’s forehead where her third eye was sealed shut. Most humans couldn’t see that closed lid. “I hear some people call it Vision,” Syren said. Her tone had turned a bit less languid despite her lounging; she’d gone to lay herself on an impossible looking piece of furniture to watch Belou while she spoke.

“The implication isn’t exactly friendly. This business won’t have the same appeal if the illusion is broken.” Syren murmured. “We’d have to resort to keeping each other warm at night, Belou. Wouldn’t that be a shame?” she laughed then. It was difficult to be all too worried in the end, but so it went with beings committed to eternities of pleasure. The Demons lived so many lives, by measure of the human world. This inconvenience, if it were true, would still pass. Syren was fond of the Tzeng group, but they were not her forever.

-

Mei was ducked low on the rooftop assembling her rifle with practiced efficiency. It was a little foreign still, watching her own hands move effortlessly through these motions. Daddy had been hesitant in turning the entirety of her training over to Trace, but she’d made good progress to that point and it had been difficult to turn her down. Besides, Trace had looked ready to spill blood when another mentor was suggested. The Demon was meticulous and Mei was its newest work of art. Or something like that. Mei had learned a lot since she’d been working with their resident reaper fulltime. Would Kou be proud or angry? Mei pushed the thought quickly from her mind. That brother of hers was a plague on her thoughts even when he was confined in a hospital bed. How ridiculous.

She didn’t hear Trace approach until it would have been too late, if the wraith’s intentions had been unsavory. The expression on Trace’s face said it was disappointing, but expected. “You’re not going in there without a gun, are you?” Mei asked, glancing over Trace’s slim fitting ensemble. There wasn’t anywhere she could have hidden away a firearm in that getup. Trace scoffed.

“Why would I need a gun?” she asked. Mei sighed and slotted the last piece of her weapon with a definitive snap.

“If I make a mistake, or if there are more people inside than you’re expecting, or—“ Mei stopped and scowled when Trace sighed loudly.

“I’ve trained you well, so you won’t make a mistake.” Trace said. She did not bother addressing the rest, because it was an absurd concern. She pushed a fall of milky white strands from her face. Mei shook her head but said no more. It wasn’t a worthwhile argument to have. Trace did not believe in over preparation. Trace was always exactly prepared. Nothing would go wrong, because Trace wouldn’t let it. The only thing that ever happened was that Trace occasionally changed her current plans to better plans. Mei would never have forgiven Kou for a similar level of cockiness, but Trace had yet to be wrong and wouldn’t have listened to her anyway. So went Pride.

Mei set up at the edge of the rooftop, scanning through her sight. “Well, whatever. Go do your thing. I’m ready.” She said. Trace was already on her way. Mei cursed softly. She could appreciate the vote of confidence but it was still aggravating. Mei lined up her first shot, exhaled slowly, and pulled the trigger.     




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Re: Guts. // Royal Blood
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2017, 07:53:06 pm »
Dreaming had been complicated.



Waking up had been rude, as the saying went. In the way that it was sudden, because it was, quite so, but in a familiar, almost pleasant way, not just all the aches breaking him out of slumber. In the way that it would have hurt his sensibilities too, if he had any. Her name was Yuri, nurse, and she was something else despite her mousy smile and downcast eyes. She’d worn neither for him when she was there, in his lap, playing up and down. She’d found pockets for her newest private hobby, her newest favorite unmoving patient, in the schedule of guards and friends and family, where she could molest at first, and then later, well, molest more, the way a mother molests a father.

Her expression, that desperate, hungry abandon in the tosses of her black hair and the rumple of her scrubs, had been painfully stark and then confusing. Where did her pleasure come from, and why did she practice it so close to him? She yelped when she discovered her prop had become her audience, and it was muffled in the thumb she was already biting for secrecy of her own noises. Despite the congregation of their eyes, she went on her limping way toward her goal, neverminding him as she had for months. It was frustrating to see her quiver, a humming pain rising when she lifted herself off him. No finale for him. At least she’d given him his own cigarette, from one of many packages left at the table beside the bed. Really it was more of an altar, with all kinds of vices. The man he was.

Kou was stuck with Yuri for the courting of his old strength. She was sufficient in that, at least. So good he endured her whispers of rewards when he was well enough to take them himself. He would not be choosing Yuri when that kind of thing became acute. Today he shoved her away upon her teasing, and he was happy to see her stumble and vault to the floor when her shoe caught on the mat of the exercise room. She pouted with tears in her eyes, sitting up and the liquid blazed in the fading winter, birthing spring, that came in generously through the glass wall overlooking the courtyard on the patio outside. No expense spared for the Tzeng son, when Tzeng donated so much.

“That was kind of rude, Kou.” Ouran said and helped her up. He’d come rushing in, of course. Kou squeezed his own wrist and tested his arm by rolling his shoulder. He felt formidable again.

“She’s kind of rude, too, Aitawa.” The prince replied. Ouran came to hug his friend and the friend hugged him back. A lot of this, lately, but Kou wasn’t afraid of this kind of contact. Not with Ouran, because it was pure. No pity.

“I guess it’s good you got your strength back.”

“Yah.” It was good. “You’re not looking bad yourself.” If he’d seen Ouran in Limbo he couldn’t remember. “Mei?” Always that question. Ouran shrugged. “Bratty girl.” Kou added with a huff. She had her own thing now but it was no excuse to ignore her brother. Being self-centered ran in the family. “Think it’s time I made it back into the world. Fuck up some people, have some fun.” His wrist felt naked without the cuff of his shirts.

“You’re not well enough yet!” Yuri, an octave higher than she should afford any patient. Ouran turned around to look at her, surprised at the feeling sung. Finally the little restaurateur was catching on. He turned back to Kou to confirm but Kou wouldn’t.

“Well enough to send you across the room, nursie.” He reminded and reached into Aitawa’s jacket. There was smoke in the room soon, when Kou left. Teddy who waited outside followed without a word. “Got my suit?” he asked. There was always a lush palette of choices in his room, neither friend thought they had to answer. He started tying back his hair while inhaling the flavor. Some strands were left over his eyes and his cheekbones, and some licked at the back of his neck. A prince reborn.

-

Bel had even more of his hair in his eyes, shirtless but legs in a pair of slacks, at least. He was a demon of moods, and was expected to slip into the next one well. He’d not say it was an ability he’d lost, but somber was a suit that stayed longer every time he wore it these days, with his patron heart so weighted. He smiled at his Syren and sighed pleasantly at her breath he could hear. Mei’s mark glowered when she ran her fingers over its details. They were both here for other things than money, but they would not be able to practice their sin very well if they did not enforce what Tzeng said they ought. So she was right. “Dreadful time, really.” He replied with a smile. Very few things were dreadful to Bel, but what kind of conversation would this be if he did not engage so he could have the pleasure of her words? They were both of similar sentiments.

He did have someone in mind. When he did not have his own thoughts, and the other ones were not of a brother and the guilt he felt over indulging when the brother was tumbling in a car and then barreling onto a metal stake, he thought of a jackal. “I’ll put someone on this. Reliable fellow.” He said and drew two fingers along his throat. They knew Libertine well. He was always welcome on merit of having retrieved the daughter of this syndicate, and now being her foremost lover. It helped that he behaved well and would pay sooner rather than later. He was as close to a fallen angel of lust as any man could be. Perhaps more on gluttony’s side in a deeper examination. Still of good, painted material.

“Perhaps he could look at Vision too, if he isn’t an expert already.” Bel added as he watched her dress her body onto something that was both a couch and a table. Skillful demon, Syren. He was suddenly deeply in love with her, and crawled over to her on his hands and knees, scaling onto the surface she laid with charming effort. He nuzzled her stomach and to his delight he found some residue there. Not his favorite, but he liked the pretend jealousy that flared out of practice. He started licking her clean casually.

“We could be plenty warm together.” And it was not unheard of, two like them. Could be a forever machine, a pair of reciprocating succubae. But they loved their humans too much. He bit the edge of her navel. He was being a cat after all. As though they had all time, he reached for the sipper of his pants. “But drugs need to be known, as you say.” The slacks flitted off. “You’re such a good worker, Syren. I think it is time we negotiate a new salary for you.” He forehead nudged her further off the surface. Cat. He wanted to tip her over so he could follow. Or perhaps her legs could still be up here. That’d be a good position.

“Make her face.” He asked. “And smile and laugh like she used to.” He missed his patron heart so.

-

Lib was not as active as he used to be in his field of work. The life style he wanted was well supported by the syndicate, now. He guessed his proficiency in kidnapping their princess had something to do with their continued reliance on him, but more than that he assumed they overpayed for his favors because of his new connection to her. He didn’t protest, especially not with the pleasure houses being owned by Tzeng, too. Gift horse, all that. And yet, he did enough to keep his skills sharp. Tzeng had plenty of work to throw at him to make it look like he was loyal to them. Today was for leisure, though.

She had a good rifle, from what he could see from his own vantage point. Garbage view of the targets she was trained on, and no real tactical value at this height, since there was no advisable escape route, but damn it if he wouldn’t be able to look down her blouse or get a long peer at her behind from above, depending on what position she chose. His own rifle was a little gaudy, compared. He liked all the trimmings on his recreational weapons. The scope was powerful, but it was the pointer that he liked the most in his equipment today.

Following her was easy. He knew how she liked to approach things, and really, the importance of a shooter like this was that you could prep and minimize reprisals through that. Snipers too often believed they were the biggest bird of prey, so the never looked up. In all fairness, he wasn’t a danger, even if he had the choice of exploding her pretty little skull. At first he planted the laser heart on her scalp, just after her first shot. Her body jerked beautifully with the kick-back. Then he caressed her black flow until the red heart pointed out her shoulder and then her arm. He’d run it all over her rifle and scope and trigger-hand to get her attention, if needed. From what he’d learned of their pillow talk, and there was a lot of it, Trace was good enough that she didn’t need all of Mei’s attention.

He called her as he still had her in his cross. “Yo. How come you never work topless, babe?” he asked, and she knew he’d have half a toothy grin. He always tried to cheer her up, these days. “Lay on your back, take a load off. Get some sun.” Didn’t really matter if she sent him straight to voice. The painted Jackal reached inside the backpack at his side, and pulled out a black can with yellow pills. He popped the attached lid and plucked one of the little sunflower bright lovers. Vision. Gorgeous, really. “Kck’krm!” he said to himself, lightly tapping the trigger while the safety was on. She really would make the prettiest puddle of brains.

A text prevented him from eating his illusionary breakfast, and he put the pill behind his ear, where his hair was shaved. Bel needed something. Hah. That meant in-house credit. Yes and yes, sir. Lib typed back quickly before returning his eye to Mei in the scope.


-


Ilya sat outside. The bistro he’d visited with Ivena the day Kou danced with her. It was their last meal outside the doors of their home to this day. His home. He was sentimental, but not now. Suit and silver tie because Kou had said to meet him. Stupid Wing. Like the head of the Vladenk