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About z-Wakiki Izumi

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  1. Imriel nodded as Cali carefully explained why The World Was Going To Shit And So He Should Go Vegan. She’d lost her stream of thought somewhere between the first point and the last, but Imriel wasn’t going to tell her that. It was much easier to tune her out as she prattled on and thinking about her dress—or the body that was rocking it instead. Yes, that line of thought made him feel a bit skeevy, but when he was faced with a thinking woman instead of a walking advertisement, he was much less focused on her breasts or ass— ,, “Hey sexy, nice glasses!” ,, Cali stopped her monologue with an annoyed look at the newcomer, while Imriel turned and completely managed to forget his previous thoughts about the difference between a thinking woman and someone like Cali. Calypso was dressed to impress and Imriel was certainly impressed. “Calypso, this is Cali.” ,, The girl glared at him. “Kelli. With an ‘I’.” Imriel blinked at her for a long moment, purposefully not doing anything that would invite her to stay. “I should go. And your glasses are dumb.” With that, she disappeared into the crowd. ,, Imriel turned back to Calypso, realized that his dumb glasses were still on his face, and casually whipped them off his face. “Heh, yeah, they have shit-lighting up in the booth. If I don’t bring my own lights, I can’t see what I’m doing.” ,, Calypso snerked at him. “I’m sure that’s what you say to all the girls.” ,, “No, usually I wipe their minds and make them forget they saw me with them.” At her startled look, he clarified, “I’m joking. The Arrows wouldn’t let me live if I was memory-wiping for the purpose of getting laid.”
  2. “I’m willing to tell you what I can, but a lot of the supernatural groups in LA think that just because we’re all shadowy hanger-ons to humans we should be buddy-buddy and trade information.” Wakiki shrugged then winced. “I’m not one of those, just to be forthright. It doesn’t make me a prick.” The last was added with a glare at Gary. “It means that I’ll play nice with you, but there are lines I can’t cross.” Wakiki didn’t like this crew. That dislike had started with Gary’s asshole nature, grew with Declan hugging Aradia—for reasons Wakiki was going to ignore—and culmulated with Declan trying to throw his supernatural weight around when things would have been fine if he’d stopped one sentence sooner. ,, The mountain lion became a beautiful woman with dark hair and gray eyes. Unlike the others, she shifted into her form while still clothed. Silently, she moved to stand behind Imriel; the mage knew his mentor agreed with him. She was the one who had taught him to keep his mouth shut. Imriel paused to see if she wanted to take the lead, but Whisker was clearly going to let him do the talking. ,, “I'm Imriel, for those of you who don't know, and this is Whisker. The people who kidnapped you were those interested in doing experiments on supernatural creatures all across LA. They came to the attention of my group when they tried to nab one of our own.” Imriel shifted slightly, trying not to hurt himself further. “They failed to get her, but we investigated and found out that she wasn’t the first person they’d tried to grab. That led to us hitting them tonight. We have an inkling of who they are—which is, in short, a group that wants to destroy the world as we know it. What we don’t know is why they were conducting these experiments.” ,, “As in,” Whisker finally spoke up, “we know that they’re doing these experiments to further their knowledge, but not in what way.” ,, “Right.” Imriel nodded in agreement before addressing the former captives again. “What were they doing to you guys? Anything in particular that might shed light on their ultimate purpose?”
  3. Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding’s I Need Your Love rose from the final notes of a Wakiki’s own sampling of Rihanna’s Stay and Wakiki stepped back from the table to check his next song. Gorillaz. Old but good. ,, The guard on the ladder leaned back and passed a slip of paper up to Wakiki; the mage took it and peered at the message. “Brittany Spears? Really?” ,, “Ain’t no accountin’ fer taste,” the bouncer agreed, his tone of voice somewhere between bored and patronizing. ,, Yuh-huh, fuck ya too, assbite. The biggest problem with the Sous, in Imriel’s opinion, was that the bouncers looked down their noses at everyone. It wasn’t necessary; bouncers could respect the people paying the bills without being too friendly. ,, In truth though, the Sous’s biggest problem wasn’t the bouncers. It was the fact that people kept disappearing from here. The police had followed leads here, and left satisfied that there was nothing untoward happening. Whisker disagreed. So did Wakiki, which had led to him weaseling his way into a job here, D-Jaying. So far, it’d done exactly one good thing, which was make him money doing something he enjoyed. ,, What he was looking for was his half-sister. Olivia had been missing for months, and thus far he had learned exactly dick about her fate. It was starting to bug him. He could manage Fate, but he couldn’t find the threads of his sister’s destiny. ,, Casually, he ‘lost’ the request for Spears by ‘accidently’ dropping the note. That done, he shifted his fedora forward on his head before flipping on the lights on his glasses so he could see what the fuck he was doing. Of course, he considered as he queued up the next song, he didn’t really know what the fuck he was doing as far as an investigation. He was learning, but the Arrows didn’t exactly have a detective school. ,, Sighing, he lined up several songs and went to get a drink. He’d question the bartender again and see what he could learn, if anything.
  4. ,, “Not at all,” Wakiki said, holding out a hand to Calypso, who seized it and pulled him to his feet. Though he had to hang onto the wall, the Japanese native managed to stay upright. “With no offense to whatever you are and your not-doubt rich cultural heritage, I’m not down with yapping all about business that doesn’t concern you.” ,, “That’s not very nice,” Gary observed with a slight frown. ,, “I’m not here to make friends, just rescue people.” Wakiki kept his tone neutral, not wanting to offend the other man. Not that he was scared of him; mages were the top of the supernatural food chain. Still there was no point in riling the fellow up unnecessarily. ,, “I think they’re back.” Gary was looking out the door and Wakiki leaned over enough to see the wolf and massive cougar. Whisker was behind them, dwarfed by the massive shifters. No doubt that was why she was walking behind rather than between them. Before their eyes, the two true shifters looked around, made sure they were alone, and then resumed their human form. ,, Wakiki found himself eyeing Kaitlin. It wasn’t like he hadn’t seen it before, or at least he had seen the nakedness. The going from Catzilla to chick was new, or at least, she hadn’t been displaying that trick for him at the party. This is probably supposed to feel awkward. Thank god I’m in too much pain for me to notice.
  5. Wakiki shot her a thumbs-up that was somehow jaunty and sardonic at the same time. “I always look worse than you do. I’m a guy. We aren’t nearly as sexy as you ladies. By the way, I babble when in pain.” ,, “You must be in agony,” Calypso rejoined with a smirk. ,, “I am not feeling happy, no.” Wakiki hissed as she knelt down and pulled his shirt away from the wound. ,, “Here,” Calypso murmured as she brushed her fingers over his angry, abused flesh. After a second, the worst of the wound went away, disappearing with stop-action speed. When she removed her fingers, there was still an open wound, but it looked days old instead of minutes, and it wasn’t bleeding anymore. “Sorry, that’s my best.” ,, “You best is better than Gary. And hotter. Soooooooo… Gary, this is Calypso, she of the magic-fingers, and Calypso, this is Gary, he of the… what do you do again, Gary?” He was sure that the fucking werewolf had said Gary was magical and okay to talk around, but the details were lost in a haze of pain and blood and bad jokes.
  6. Wakiki stared at Gary for a moment. “Marvel? Are you kidding me? Did you just try to make a comic book joke?” ,, “It’s appropriate, I figure.” Gary looked far too interested in the conversation and less interested in Wakiki’s injuries as he asked, “So mage civil war, right?” ,, “What the fuck, man? I am sitting here bleeding and you’re rambling on about mages.” Wakiki looked at Gary with disbelief in his expression. “Can you please give me some first aid? Why do I have to ask you for this?” ,, “I don’t know any first aid.” Gary shrugged casually. “It’s not my forte.” ,, “Forte!? Fucking… Okay! How about this! You help me get my ass off the ground, and we get me to someone who has a forte in healing?! And even better! Let’s do it before I fucking bleed to death!” Wakiki knew he was getting a touch rude, but he felt justified in this case.
  7. “Let’s go,” the lioness said, stretching her legs in front of her before leaning forward and gracefully repeating the movement with her rear legs. She glanced at Wakiki. “Are you sure you’ll be okay?” ,, “Hey, I’m a magical brown-skinned man. We exist to get hurt and left behind to heal.” Wakiki gave her a thumbs up. “Besides, if Calypso catches up, it’ll give her something to do.” He shrugged (and clearly regretted it by to the wince that followed) at Gary as he added, “No offense to you. I’m sure you’re a great doctor, but she’s hotter, and if I have to choose between who’s going to nurse me back to health… I’m sure you’ll understand.” ,, “Yeah, I got it,” Gary muttered as he peered at the wound. “You better hope she’s actually the better nurse.” ,, “I said she was hotter. Hot women are always better at everything, right? It’s why they’re hot, the Universe is pointing them out to the rest of us.” ,, “I’m ready.” Whisker looked up at the big wolf, ignoring the banter between the two men. “I think you scent better than me. Lead the way.” ,, Once the two shapeshifters were gone, Wakiki glanced up at Gary and asked, “Do I really talk too much? Because I have to warn you – I talk when I’m nervous or in pain.”
  8. They found a shredded Hispanic man in the first room. An empty cot and an open window suggested that someone had fled rather than fight, and Declan remembered the man who had offered him a bribe for silence. Thad. Apparently he had believed Declan’s threats and decided to put some distance between himself and the angry werewolf and his “pack”. ,, “Wakiki!” The lioness spoke as if she were human, creating a creepy image straight from Narnia. Aslan’s wife slipped past Declan to kneel next to a slumped form. “Where are you hurt?” ,, “Yes,” he answered gravely in a pain-filled, accented voice. “I didn’t get the number of the saber-toothed semi that just went through here.” ,, “Smart ass.” The lioness peered at the wound before asking, “Can you hang on until we find and calm down the shifter?” ,, “Oh, is that what that was? Sure, not a problem, I’ll just sit here and bleed.” Wakiki gave her a thumbs up. He looked past his mentor for the first time and blinked. “Uh… you have a naked guy right behind you. And a not-naked guy. You are far kinkier than I realized, Whisker.”
  9. The man with knives advanced on Wakiki, pushing him toward the exit. Teeth bared, the young man managed to stumble back from his assailant without getting cut again. The man lunged forward and Wakiki wasn’t quite fast enough to get away from him; the knife pierced his flesh but his ribs stopped the wide blade from sinking further into his torso. It was bad enough when the weapon slipped over his ribs, opening a long gash across his skin. ,, Wakiki prepared to break this guy’s head, too. Before he could do more than think about summoning his most potent magical offense, a large form loomed behind the man. Wakiki’s opponent disappeared under a blur of golden-black fur and slashing claws. Wakiki’s brain didn’t even try to discern what had happened; it registered that something worse than a knife-wielding maniac had shown up to the party. ,, Glittering golden eyes locked onto Wakiki just as he unleashed his brain-spike again. This time his target was the feral mind he sensed just in front of him; he didn’t even bother to get the shape of the mind before he was lashing out at it. The monster – he saw that much, at least – screamed like something out of a B-movie and shot past him, heading outside. ,, Wakiki slumped to the floor, holding his bleeding side. “What… the… FUCK was that!?”
  10. Wakiki went down under the weight of the black guy. The man caught him around the waist and they tumbled to the floor together. He wasn’t sure if he’d shot the guy or not; if he had, the guy didn’t seem to be feeling it. The gun was gone anyway, knocked loose by the two-hundred plus weight slamming him. A ham-thick hand circled Wakiki’s neck and squeezed; in sheer desperation, Wakiki struck back with one of his best weapons. ,, The lance of Mind magic was invisible to non-practitioners and those not looking for Mind magic. But to Wakiki, the metaphysical representation of his will was as clear as day: a long samurai sword slammed into his opponent’s mind, ‘cutting’ deep and hard. The man’s head curled up and his fingers loosened; as Wakiki shoved him off of him and rolled to his feet, he could see the whites of the man’s eyes as they started to roll back in his head. The man wasn’t dead; he’d recover just fine in time. But few things slowed someone down like a psychic knife to the brain. ,, Wakiki turned to proceed deeper into the complex, only to be faced with a Hispanic man with knives. The mage paused as one of those knives was thrown at him; his attempt to twist away saved him from being stabbed in the torso but didn’t help his arm. The knife sliced through his shirt, skin and flesh together. “Fuck!” he yelped in shock and pain. ,, * * * ,, A small furred shape darted out of the shadows, growing as it entered the light. The black housecat became a sleek lioness, her leonine form beautiful as she moved to Gary’s side. As her claws readied themselves to tear at the grappled man, he erupted in blue flames. “Morons!” the flame-mage screamed as Gary’s clothing and hair started to smolder and the lioness paused. “Never touch a man who makes fire his bitch!”
  11. Wakiki walked toward the front door of the former rest home, the pizza box balanced lightly on his fingers. The gun hidden in the back of his pants felt like a neon sign that everyone could see, even if the Pizza Hut vest hid it from view. Calypso was out in the dark behind him, ready to come in after he started the fight. Whisker was in place—or he hoped she was. He’d given her more than enough time to set herself up. If she wasn’t there, if she hadn’t freed at least some of the supernaturals, this was going to suck, bad. Still, he moved to the door of the target and knocked briskly. Assuming an expression that he hoped was ‘bored delivery minion’, he waited. The door opened suddenly, with no noise to warn him. Wakiki tried to keep from jumping out of his skin, though he was sure he was only partially successful. The fact that the door had been answered by a big black man who looked like he could bench a car didn’t help. “Hey, man,” he said, “it’ll be seventeen-fourty-two.” “We didn’t fuckin’ order pizza.” The black man crossed his arms, looking pissed. “Take it back.” “No way, man, this is the address, I ain’t takin’ back a triple meat with double cheese.” Wakiki scowled and thrust the box forward. “Someone’s paying for this.” The thug grabbed the box and started to hurl it away, only to stop when he heard the rattle of the dirt Wakiki had used to give the box weight. He opened it, peered at the gravel and closed the lid of the box—just as Wakiki pointed the gun at his nose. “Back up. Slowly.” The surprise on the thug’s face melted into sadistic glee. “You’re a dead mother-fucker,” he announced as he backed into the building. Wakiki moved after him, keeping the door and his eyes open. “You picked the wrong place to rob.” “Who writes your lines?” Wakiki glared at him, wondering where Calypso was. Surely she’d be right behind him. There was a tingle as he passed through the door; a spell. As he crossed the threshold, he could hear the music and sounds from inside the building—a sound dampener. Just as Wakiki was wondering if it would muffle gunshots, the black man jumped at him. Wakiki fired just as the thug slammed into him.
  12. “Mostly freeing people.” Whisker’s grin promised pain to those Seers who would imprison other people. “I think that those who are in there are going to be more than capable of helping us help them.” “So we’re going to get them out first.” Imriel nodded in agreement, his voice curiously relaxed. “Sounds good. I can provide a distraction.” “Just don’t get shot.” His mentor’s advice wasn’t that helpful but Imriel smiled at the inside joke. Imriel nodded and quietly checked his gun to be sure it was loaded. “Good advice. Thank you.” Whisker grinned and opened the door. “You knock on the front door, and I’ll slip in the back. Calypso, why don’t you back up Imriel?” “Don’t get shot.” The handsome Japanese man smiled at the former circus-girl, including her in the joke. Turning serious, he asked, “Anything to add to the plan?” “Let’s do this. Give me fifteen minutes.” Whisker stepped out of the car and slipped into the darkness. Imriel checked his watch before settling back against the seat. He and Calypso waited in silence, each reflecting on the upcoming mission. “If you need a gun,” Imriel offered, “there’s one in the glovebox.” -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- Whisker the Cat snaked around the corner of the building, eying the vent cover. It was going to be a tight fit but she would rather be in a larger form with a bit of fighting prowess. As the rat had said, it was easy enough to slip past the cover and ease into the short shaft; previous rodents had worn away the interior cover, too. The room inside was devoid of enemies, but still the Whisker-cat paused, listening and watching. Only when she was sure it was safe did she ease out of the vent and drop to the floor. Three eyes swiveled to her and Whisker eased herself over to the woman trying to pick the lock. Sharp eyes scanned the room; then the cat hopped over to a bit of wire, snatched it up and brought it to the girl, setting it in front of her. Then she hid in the shadows and waited for Wakiki to present his distraction.
  13. “We have Seers holding supernatural creatures prisoner and experimenting on them,” Imriel said, giving her a brief smile. He was happy to see her, and wondered if that was because of her, or because of the link of Fate he’d seen or if it was Fate for him to feel this way. Sometimes, it would have been better to be a Sleeper, serene in ignorance. “I just sent a scout in, and we should have intel shortly.” The woman in the car had spoken, and now she twisted to look back at Calypso. “I’m afraid it’s just you, me and Imriel.” “I’d like to get close enough to enlist the prisoner’s help,” Imriel said. He sighed and propped a hand on his chin. “Of course, we need to get them out first.” “Let’s wait for the rat,” Whisker said and the three mages were silent for a while. After another twenty minutes, Whisker slipped out of the car and into the shadows again. “The rat counted three rooms. More people than that… rats can’t really count that high. However, it did tell me how to get in.” The exotic woman turned to look at Calypso. “Can you assume an animal shape? A small one like a rat?”
  14. February 19, 2012 “Out of bed!” The voice snapped through Imriel’s brain, jogging him awake. He was on his feet before his eyes opened, so he was already halfway awake before he saw the time. His mentor and roommate was annoyingly awake, fully dressed and ready to go. He was still wearing his tank top and flannel pants. Whisker liked it a little colder, so he adapted. “Whisker, it’s three in the morning,” he said, realized he’d said it in slurred Japanese, and repeated himself in English. “Yep, and we have work to do,” she informed him. She grabbed his head and he felt something flow through him. Sleepiness fled as she stepped back, grinning. “You might want to call into work now.” -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- I’m going to lose my fucking job, Imriel sighed as he drove down Foothill Boulevard. This was the third time he’d had to call in since the start of the year, and that wasn’t a good track record. Unfortunately, Seers didn’t wait for convenient times to act out. Whisker pointed at a parking spot on the side of the road and Imriel snagged it. As he parallel parked, she pulled out a tiny spy glass and peered through it. When he shut off his engine, she passed it to him. It looked like a run-down apartment complex of a dozen buildings. The sign out front said it was Last Foundations Retirement Home, but it looked like it had been retired. The building that Whisker pointed out wouldn’t have caught his eye, as it was a dirty, broken-down building in a row of dirty, broken-down buildings. A second look revealed signs that she was right; all of the windows were still in place and the doors was firmly locked rather than just nailed shut or kicked in. According to Whisker’s intel, there was a Seer cell operating in the building. The word was that they had captured supernatural creatures and were running tests on them. This could not be allowed, not just because it allowed others to possibly learn about magic but because it was wrong. It was something his mother would do, and so when he’d learned about it, he’d been as ready as Whisker was to kick some Seer ass. Imriel sighed as he glanced at the dashboard and saw it was now just after four-thirty. Whatever Whisker had done to him had been like a Red Bull, but that didn’t mean he wanted to be up right now. But his mentor had a lead on Seer activity and this time it sounded far more important than the usual Seer bullshit. It sounded like something needed to deal with immediately. Whisker waited until he’d had a good look before she asked, “Did you see the light? On the first floor of that building?” “No,” he admitted, not at all surprised. Whisker’s eyes were much sharper than his. “They painted over the windows, but they didn’t go a perfect job,” she said, her sexy voice serious and smug. She really liked having anything she could hold over the Seers, no matter how trivial. “I can see a spot on one of the buildings.” Her exotically-shaped gray eyes focused on him. “Where’s that friend of yours?” “She’s not my friend,” he said absently, still scanning the building’s black windows. “She’s just another mage I know.” “I wish we had more Arrows,” Whisker sighed. Imriel agreed, but Calypso had been the only one to answer her phone when he’d called around for backup. “I’m going to get some eyes on the inside.” Imriel nodded as she hopped out of the car and slipped over to a shadow. He watched, but only saw her kneeling. A moment later, she returned, looking smug. “A rat’s going to check it out for us. We just have to wait.” Whisker was silent, then asked impatiently, “When will she get here?” “When she gets here,” Imriel replied, used to her impatience. She’d wait, though not happily. And she’d make sure he was unhappy about having to wait, too. “She has the address, and she said she was coming.” -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- Thad groaned and pulled the pillow over his head as the beast roared again. He was trying to sleep damnit, and he wasn’t sure how he was supposed to do that when that monster was making so much noise. The spell soundproofing the apartment complex kept people outside from hearing the noise, but he could hear it and he needed some god damned rest! “Fucking furry monster!” he snarled as he rolled out of his cot and stormed for the door. The noise was even louder when he opened the door that had once separated the studio apartment from its bathroom. This room mirrored the other bathroom, which had been left intact for their use. The far wall of this bathroom, along with all the facilities, was long gone and emptied to make a storage room. The opening led to another former studio apartment. This one was now a large kitchen and dining room for the six-man team who lived here. Emilio was standing at the butcher’s block, chopping celery. The ingredients for an omelet were arrayed around him. The former Mexican was the best cook and usually pressed into service for cooking. “I haven’t gotten any sleep,” Thad bitched to the older man, stopping to watch him. “No one is,” Emilio said, looking up at Thad through salt-and-pepper hair. “I told her we should kill the hombre-lobo.” Thad winced. “You and everyone else, Milo.” The Biologist was super creepy, and when Emilio had told her to kill the werewolf, she’d just said ‘No’ and no one had said anything else. Just that single no had made his skin crawl. He tried to avoid The Biologist with her staring eyes and face that never, ever showed a single expression. He preferred DeathFire, sorta. The guy had the corniest name ever, but after seeing him make black fire from his hands, Thad had never ever laughed at the name again, even privately. He looked like nothing; just some punk with stringy hair and the tendency to wear ripped t-shirts that had band names on them. All the bands had Deth or Death in the title, so at least DeathFire kept to a theme. He was scary too, but not in the testicle-constricting way that The Biologist was. DeathFire was terrifying because of what Thad had seen him do; he didn’t ever want to see what the Biologist could do. Thad once again wished he’d never answered the ad for a vet tech specialist working with exotic animals. A wealthy employer with a private collection who needed round-the-clock vet techs and were willing to pay were few and far in-between. Only once he’d taken the job did he learn why he’d gotten it: he saw magic without freaking out. DeathFire had shown off his fire-tricks, The Biologist had stared – and then things had gotten weird. He was so not suited for this. He was a vet tech, for fuck’s sake, not a… whatever you called people who looked after fucking werewolves. He’d been watching Emilio prepare breakfast when another roar tore through the kitchen. Scowling, Thad pushed himself off the counter and walked over to one of the industrial fridges in the room. This one was the one for food, he knew, not the other one – that was a mistake you only made once. Reaching inside, he pulled out a raw steak and a beer. “Whatcha doin’?” Emilio asked, watching him. “Bribery,” Thad explained and stomped over to the next door. This door led to a library of sots; the room held bookshelves and the Biologist’s desk. Thad wove through them, crossing through another set of former bathrooms, this one with only support studs left. The autopsy room was next and Thad winced at the smell. A man was on one of the tables, his chest and other parts splayed open. Yvette, a slim, petite black woman, was examining something from the dead man that Thad deliberately didn’t look at as he stalked past. He was supposed to be working on animals, damnit! Yvette glanced up at him as he walked by, her dark skin clashing with the blue hospital coverings she wore. “What’s up, sugar?” she asked, glancing at his hands. “Can’t sleep,” he snarled as he entered the next studio apartment. In this one, both bathrooms had been removed again to make room for six cages. Thad’s steps slowed as he looked at the newest occupants of the cages, freshly arrived last night. Of course, then they’d all been unconscious and blissfully quiet. The first cage on the right held a shivering woman. She was actually more of a girl, younger than he, at twenty-nine, would have been comfortable dating. Even with that discomfort, he admitted that the girl was blonde and gorgeous, with a body that would not stop. She was also high out of her mind, shivering and muttering softly to herself. The first cage on the left held a young man; he was in his early twenties with short black hair and pale green eyes. There was something unsettling about that one, and Thad glanced away. There were two empty cages, then the last cage or the right held the source of the noise. Thad’s lips curled in an angry grimace as he understood the cause of the monster’s outrage. Roman, Yvette’s half-brother, was stabbing at the beast through his bars with dowel rods. The monster was snapping them, but Roman just picked up another. Thad considered shoving Roman against the bars and letting the monster do as he would to him; the bars were too close for the werewolf to get his muzzle through, but he could rend the man with claws. Thad settled for kicking Roman in the backside. That was bad enough; Roman spun and glared down at him. Unlike Yvette, Roman was big and ugly. Yvette had been hired for her medical skills; Roman had been hired because he broke things. “You lookin’ for hurt, Tad?” he grumbled, his voice like rocks grinding. “I’m looking to get some fucking sleep,” he snarled, ignoring Roman getting his name wrong again. “Leave it alone so it’ll calm down.” “It was making noise before I started,” Roman protested. “Stop it,” Thad snapped, “or I’ll tell The Biologist what you’re doing to her experiments. If she wanted you to be riling them up, she’d say so. Now get.” The threat of The Biologist was enough. Roman scowled, but he pushed past Thad, bouncing him off one of the empty cages. “Asshole,” Thad muttered when he was sure that Roman was far enough away he wouldn’t hear. Now alone with the werewolf, Thad tossed the steak between the bars. “Truce?” he asked, then held up the beer. “I’ll give this to you, too, if you agree. I just want some damned sleep.” Lips curled back from teeth as long as Roman’s fingers. “I know you can understand me. Just nod and you get the beer.”
  15. It was written off as a home intrusion. It wasn’t uncommon for people to break into apartment buildings, especially given that the Seers had looted his place. His computer was gone; the TV was too large to take and thankfully they hadn’t messed with the keyboard. His rug was gone, of course, along with a few pieces of jewelry like a ring and his cufflinks. Imriel wasn’t too upset – he was alive and healthy, or would be healthy once his cuts healed. There would be no permanent damage, other than a week’s worth of work on his songs that he hadn’t sent to Kevin yet. Whisker wasn’t happy. It wasn’t the damage to him, it was the boldness with which the Seers had operated. They had blatantly come for him, and she wasn’t so sure that they would keep their word. “What if they come back?” she asked him. He shrugged. “I’ll fight again,” he answered. “You didn’t fight your way out last time,” she reminded him. “I talked my way out,” he said, his smile sardonic as he said, “I’m a Mastigos, after all.” “I know,” Whisker said, and she didn’t sound too happy about it. “That’s why I worry about you. I don’t trust them.” Neither did Imriel, but frankly if he worried about it, he was going to turn into a paranoid nutcase. So he didn’t dwell on it. His landlord changed the locks, added a chain-slide and Imriel filed all the insurance paperwork to replace the laptop and jewelry. Then the young mage put it behind him as much as he could. Three weeks later, he came home from work to find his rug had been returned. “Shit,” he said with feeling, because there was no sign of forced entry. There was also a vase on his table with dead roses in it. “Shit,” he said again, because he felt better cursing about it. Flipping open his phone, he called Whisker. “Hey… how do you feel about getting an apartment with me?”
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