Ug...took me long enough to update, right?:\ I'm sorry...this chapter was difficult to write...and it's not very exciting either. Not much happens; it's mostly information...but the next chappie should be more interesting:3
Love Bite ch. 4
I didn't wake until late the next afternoon. And probably I would have kept sleeping for hours longer if I had remembered to turn off my accursed phone.
"What?" I growled at the person on the other line. Rolling over to get the buzzing cell almost made my vision blur with pain. My back felt even more sensitive now. I knew it would; bad wounds always hurt more once you give them time to realize just how bad they are.
"What happened last night, Hatake?" Sarutobi asked, ignoring my impatience.
"Tell me you didn't call to ask such a stupid question—one that you could have found the answer to yourself!" I snapped at him.
"I want to hear it from you," he said simply.
I turned my head away from the phone for a moment to breathe and calm myself. Yelling at Sarutobi wasn't going to fix anything. It would just end up making things worse.
"It was nothing," I finally said. "A misunderstanding."
"Yamamoto is saying otherwise," he said, oddly not pushing the issue. "I'd believe you anyway, no matter what you told me. Yamamoto is a prick."
I was a little unsure how to react to that. Five seconds ago I'd been pissed he was gonna make me tell him what happened in excruciating detail, but now that he'd backed down, I was annoyed at the uselessness of the phone call. Today was not starting well.
"Yeah, he didn't seem to like me very much. But I guess it didn't help that I was being an ass."
"It wouldn't have mattered how polite you were. He hates you," Sarutobi said matter-of-factly.
"Why?" I asked.
"He doesn't like the idea of civilians having licenses to kill—considers you nothing more than a vigilante."
"One of those guys, huh?" I said absently. I didn't care what the man thought of me. I didn't know the guy, and even if I did, his opinion didn't matter. I had my own reasons for doing what I do, and that's no one's business but mine.
Changing the subject, Sarutobi said, "So I guess you haven't found anything yet?"
"I haven't even gotten out of the bed yet, or started in on the case files." I'd forgotten about them, actually, until just then, and I didn't know how I was going to get down the stairs, let alone how I was going to get the boxes of files inside the house from the car.
"Well…let me know if you find anything," he said, obviously annoyed that I hadn't done anything yet. I wasn't about to feel bad though. It'd barely been a day since I found out about the damned murders, and I was badly wounded. I probably wouldn't get anything from my contacts anyway.
"I will," I promised, and we ended the call.
I had to reason with myself for nearly an hour before I managed to work up the courage to sit up at the edge of my bed. I sat there for a while, steeling myself for standing and contemplating taking one of the Vicaden I'd gotten Tsunade to prescribe for me. Getting her to do it without coming into the hospital for a proper exam first hadn't been easy, so I only used them in emergencies. Getting her to renew the prescription was going to be a nightmare.
My first attempt at standing convinced me. I dug the little orange bottle out of the drawer and swallowed one of the white pills. I needed to eat something before it stared working. I was starving anyway.
Going down the stairs was slightly less excruciating than climbing up. By the time I'd finally completed my descent, I'd almost gotten used to the pain.
I padded into my unnecessarily large kitchen to peruse my fridge for something to eat. The gods must have seen fit to finally give me a break because there was half a pepperoni pizza and a six-pack of beer inside, just calling my name. Drinking right after taking a narcotic was probably a bad idea, but…oh well. It wasn't like I was going to get drunk.
I pulled a piece of the cold pizza out, but before I could take a bite, the doorbell rang.
I frowned in the direction of the foyer. Who the hell could that possibly be?
I thought of my gun upstairs and cursed myself for not bringing it down with me. I had other guns down here, but that one would have made me feel better.
I grabbed my derringer out of one of the many empty, useless drawers in the kitchen and made my way to the door as silently as possible. The bell rang again before I got there.
I looked out the peephole and relaxed. There was a little kid, no older than twelve, who was barely tall enough to see in the hole; and behind him was an older man—probably his father—and behind him, on the sidewalk, was a lawn mower. I tucked my gun away behind me in the waistband of my sweats, certain that the safety was on before doing so, and opened the door.
"Hey, Mister, can I mow your lawn?" the little boy asked—way too excited about what he was asking, I thought.
I glanced out at my pitiful-looking yard. It had been due for a cut weeks ago, but I just hadn't been able to find the time to do it…
"How much?" I asked.
The boy held up both hands, fingers spread wide, "Ten dollars!"
Okay, he was younger than he looked.
I gave him a cheerful smile. "Sounds good, but I should probably make sure I have money for you."
I started to turn around, but stopped. I still had the gun in my pants. Instead, I just took a couple steps backwards to the antique bureau set against the wall beside the staircase where my wallet and keys rested when I wasn't using them.
I had a twenty in my wallet, but that was it—nothing smaller. That was okay though; I had an idea.
I grabbed my keys and went back to the door. "I've only got this twenty," I said to the boy, waving it around a little, "but if you mow the front and do me one other favor, it's yours."
"Sweet!" he said, excited.
The boy's father, on the other hand, looked suspicious. "What's the other favor?" he asked skeptically.
"I've got some boxes in the backseat of my car that I need brought inside. I'd do it myself, but I hurt my back."
"How'd you hurt your back, Mister?" the boy asked.
"I…tried to lift something too heavy for me," I lied. I didn't think the boy's father would appreciate me telling his son I hurt my back when I got attacked by a vampire. The naive, ignorant little kid probably would have thought it was cool. "So do you think you can help me?" I asked, changing the subject before he could ask more questions.
"Yeah!" the boy said, but I looked up at his father for confirmation.
He nodded—maybe a little reluctantly—and I handed him my keys with a grateful smile.
The father helped his son carry the boxes inside. They put them on the table in the dining room, cornered by the living room and kitchen. I thanked them both and the boy bounced off to start in on the grass. His father stayed behind. I watched him expectantly, waiting for whatever it was that kept him from going to supervise his son's grass-cutting.
He gave me the once-over, frowning slightly, and asked, "How'd you really hurt your back?"
I knew what he wanted to hear. He was wondering if the injury was vampire-related and if said vampire would be paying me a visit at home any time soon. On the other hand, I didn't know why he wanted to know, but I'd already decided he didn't need to know. It pissed me off when people were nosy like that.
"I don't know what you mean. I already told your son what happened," I said innocently, a smile still plastered on my face.
His frown deepened. "Bullshit. It was some vampire piece of shit, wasn't it?"
I dropped the friendly neighbor act and gave him a blank, slightly frigid look. "Even if that's true, it's really none of your business, is it?"
The man was silent a moment, meeting my cold stare, before grunting. "I guess not." He turned to follow his son.
I handed him the twenty dollar bill as he passed me. "So you don't have to come back inside," I said.
He took the bill, harrumphed, and left.
I breathed a sigh of relief when he was gone. Now I could eat and start in on the files in peace.
I settled in at the dining room table with my pizza, beer, and the gruesome police reports. I felt almost like a normal person sitting there with the warmth of the sun and sound of the boy's lawn mower floating through the windows—at least until I opened the first file from a random box and was faced with a high-definition photo of a dead woman's face.
I sighed, the illusion of domestic tranquility broken, took a bite of pizza, and just thanked the gods the murders weren't very messy, or I wouldn't have been able to eat and read simultaneously.
I kept reading until the words started blurring together and I called it quits for the day. There wasn't anything interesting in the files so far, and it was long past sundown by then, which meant all the thing that go bump in the night would be out playing.
I stood up and stretched, delighted that the Vicaden was still working and I could move virtually painlessly. I trudged upstairs, changed into something more presentable—faded blue jeans instead of sweat pants—threw on my leather jacket, and I was out the door.
If it was at all possible, I didn't want to be out all night. I hated sleeping all day and being up all night. It felt unnatural, and I always ended up exhausted, even though I slept just as many daylight hours as I did night. But I was human though, dammit; I wanted to enjoy the friggin' sun! So when I pulled out of my driveway, I tried to set myself a time limit. It was midnight; I wanted to be home before three in the morning, which meant I'd better hurry, because both of the people I wanted to talk to would be on the opposite side of town.
My first stop was the Alley Cat, a lesbian bar downtown. Technically it was a Gay/Lesbian bar, but more often than not, there were only women there. This was something I rather liked about the place. I only ever got hit on by the rare bisexual woman and could mostly drink in peace. If the place wasn't so far away, requiring a long trip on the freeway, I'd drink there rather than the dump I usually went to.
Though, the fact that the bartender was a vampire might have been enough to change my mind.
Kaede was one of the very few vampires that I didn't hate with a passion, mostly because she could be quite useful at times. She wasn't a very powerful vampire, nor was she interested in becoming one, which was why she stooped so low as to serve humans their choice of poison. There were lots of vampire-owned business all over the world, but usually the vampires hired humans to do all the real work.
Kaede wasn't like that though; she had a sense of responsibility, and also an ear for gossip. She was my connection for all things supernatural. If something was going on in their world, she would know about it, and she'd happily share it with me. Why? I didn't really know, but I also didn't really care.
I had to park nearly a mile away in a parking structure and walk all the way to the damned bar. By the time I'd finally gotten there, after wading through crowded streets and heavy traffic, I was already tense with irritation. I hated crowds, and loud noise, and never being able to find a decent parking lot downtown, and having to walk such a long distance, and being famous and recognizable, and the bloodhound-like paparazzi that had relentlessly followed me all the way to the mother-fucking, vampire-owned lesbian bar, asking me question after question when we both knew I wasn't going to answer, no matter how many times they asked, blinding me with the flash of all their damned cameras…and I'd forgotten to bring sunglasses…
I was this close to twitching and gnashing my teeth when I finally pushed the door of the bar in and stalked inside, trying to stay as far away from the media as possible. I sat at the end of the bar and Kaede placed two glasses of whiskey in front of me, obviously knowing I was on my way and would be in need of a drink as soon as possible.
"First one's on the house, Hatake," she greeted me, smirking at me from underneath her long bangs hiding her eyes.
I gave her a grateful smile and downed one of the drinks in a single go, leaving the second to suck on slowly.
It looked like I was going to be there a while. I couldn't start questioning Kaede about anything she'd heard on the rumor circuits about the murders until the media left—couldn't have them finding out anything about an ongoing investigation.
"Kakashi! Kakashi! What are doing in a gay bar?" one of the reporters asked, firing up everyone else to ask him the same question.
I just ignored them, hoping they'd eventually get bored and go away, but I knew that was probably unlikely. They were persistent little bastards…
"He's gay. Why else, idiot?" Kaede spoke up, pursing her lips at all the nosy paparazzi.
I cringed at her answer. It was pretty common knowledge that I was gay, but I'd never come out and said it publicly. I didn't think I needed to. Why should my sexual orientation be news? And whose business was it but mine and my lovers' anyway? I've never understood why people were so curious about the private lives of celebrities—people they've never met or probably ever would meet. It just seemed like a waste of time.
"Is that true, Kakashi?" the reporters started screaming at me, causing a ruckus and annoying the other bar patrons.
I glared at Kaede. How could she do this to me? She knew I liked to keep my private life private—just as it should be—and she knew I wanted these people gone, not riled up and begging for more scraps. She also couldn't have possibly liked having all the loud people, who weren't buying drinks, in her bar, bothering her paying customers.
"Why?" I asked.
"I've never seen you squirm like this before. It's amusing," she said, smiling close-lipped to hide her fangs.
I sighed and turned my attention to the crowd around me. "If I tell you, will you get the hell out and leave me alone?" I was answered with a few sure's and yes's that I didn't really believe, but it was worth a shot to see if the gossip whores would keep to their word. "Alright. Yes, I'm gay," I said in an impatient tone. "Now get out."
Unfortunately I was right, and instead of doing as they'd promised and leaving, they all started talking at once and asking a million questions a minute, flipping a lid like they hadn't already known I slept with men.
I growled to myself and downed my second drink, which Kaede refilled immediately afterwards. I hunched myself over the glass and tried to drown out the sound of the questions with glorious thoughts of how I'd like to murder Kaede for starting this frenzy. I got really creative with it too; vampires could take a lot of damage before they'd actually die…
After a few moments of uninterrupted ruckus from the press, Kaede had finally had enough. She slammed an empty bucket that was for ice down on the counter behind the bar and yelled, "That's enough!" loud enough to be heard in Water Country.
Amazingly, the press actually shut up. They were all staring at her, shocked.
"If you're not going to buy some drinks, shut the hell up, and stop bothering my paying guests, then you can't get the hell out of my bar!" she all but screeched, growling at the crowd for good measure. Consequently, she also happened to show off her fangs in the process, and that started up some whispers in the crowd.
I felt like bashing my head in. Being found in a gay bar was one thing, but being found in a vampire-run gay bar was a totally different story. This was going to be all over the news in about half an hour: Hatake Kakashi, infamous vampire hunting—drinking with a vampire. Great.
"What the hell are you all staring at?" Kaede interrupted their new scoop, "Get out! All of you!"
Reluctantly, they left, not about to disobey a vampire; they wanted to live to tell the world I was consorting with the enemy.
"Fucking bottom-feeders…" she muttered when the last one slipped out. "You're welcome, by the way," she said to me.
I snorted at her. "If it wasn't for you, they wouldn't have gotten so excited in the first place. And do you realize what you've done? They're going to tell the whole world I was hanging out in a vampire bar. Thanks for shitting on my reputation; I appreciate it," I answered as sarcastically as possible.
She just chuckled. "Anytime, Hatake, anytime."
I rolled my eyes and sipped my drink.
"So I assume you're here for some information?" she said nonchalantly, slicing a lemon for some girl's drink.
"What do you know about the recent murders in town?"
"Nothing, actually—just that there's been quite a few lately, and your human police have no leads."
"That doesn't help," I said tonelessly.
"I have some suspicious though," she added, "But it's just speculation."
"Let's hear it. It's better than nothing."
"Well…the Uchihas and the Yondaime Hokage have been having quite a few disagreements lately…"
I held up a hand to stop her before she could go on. "Who are the Uchihas? And what's a Yondaime Hokage?" I asked.
Her knife stopped halfway through the gushing, yellow fruit and she stared at me through her bangs. Her mouth curved into a coy smile. "You don't know what a Yondaime is, Hatake? I thought you were supposed to be an expert on vampires?"
I returned her smile. "I never claimed I was an expert; that's the media's claim. I'm just good at killing you."
She laughed, high and slightly maniacal. "Precious," she said. She went back to her slicing. "A Kage is the name of a vampire leader of a city. Since this is the Land of Fire, they are called the Hokage. The Yondaime is the 4th Hokage. The Sandaime was before him, the Nidaime before him, and the Shodaime before him."
"So he's the most powerful vampire in Konoha?"
"Precisely. All vampires in Konoha owe him allegiance. To rebel means death, or at the very least, banishment."
I digested that silently. This Yondaime person must really be something. There were a lot of vampires in Konoha; if they were all tied to him that meant the man had to be powerful enough to juice hundreds of vampires into life every night. Jounin vampires could resurrect themselves, but chuunin and lower require a master to give them the power. I really hoped this Yondaime guy wasn't the murderer. It would suck to have to hunt something that powerful by myself, and I hated working with other people—they usually ended up as fodder.
"Okay," I said, moving on, "And the Uchihas; who are they?"
"They're a very powerful vampire clan. All have the same power—"
"Which is?" I prompted.
She pursed her lips at me for interrupting, but answered me anyway, "The Sharingan. It's an eye technique. If you ever meet an Uchiha, don't look them in the eyes." I gave her a look and she added, "You shouldn't look any vampire in the eye, but especially not an Uchiha. You'll get a mind raping you couldn't even imagine. The things most vampires can do to humans, Uchihas can do to other vampires as well."
I frowned at that. The very idea that there was a whole race of vampires out there that could mind rape other vampires was more than a little unnerving. I had trouble enough with normal vampires that stuck to humans. These Uchihas sounded like they'd be ten times worse.
"Anyway," Kaede continued, "the Uchihas are pretty conservative. They don't like all these new proposed laws to make vampires legal citizens and shit. They think it degrades us as a species; brings us down to human level."
"What would they rather do? Enslave us?" I asked sarcastically.
"Yes," Kaede answered, dead serious.
My frown deepened. I was liking these Uchihas less and less… "Okay, so why are they going to war with the Yondaime?"
"The Yondaime is very human-sympathetic. He wants the laws to pass so humans and vampires can live peacefully together." I sniffed at that and Kaede smiled. "Pipe dreams, I know, but the Yondaime is an ambitious man. Very patient. Maybe it won't happen in your lifetime, but who knows…maybe in the next century?"
"There's no such thing as true peace. Even if the laws pass and most of the vampires actually adhere to the laws…there will still be troublemakers."
"Well that's good for you, isn't it? Without those troublemakers, you're out of a job, ne?" she asked, grinning.
I chuckled. "I guess so."
"Besides," she went on, "how boring would the world be without a little chaos?" She left me with that for a moment to make some drinks for a group of girls wearing just enough clothing not to get arrested for indecent exposure before coming back and continuing. "Anyway, so the Uchihas don't want the laws to pass, but the Yondaime does, and he's ordered them to obey the human laws, and the Uchihas don't like it. They've never really liked the Yondaime…or any of the Hokages really…probably because no one from their clan has ever been Hokage, and the Uchihas are proud bastards. Anyone who isn't one of them is a low-life piece of trash that crawled up out of a cesspool when they were born." She rolled her eyes at the idea.
"I take it most people don't like the Uchihas?"
She nodded. "Which is why they normally don't cause such a stir when they disagree with the Hokage, but this time is different, because there are other vampires who agree with their sentiment. Before they wouldn't have been able to oppose the Yondaime and his army, but now…they might have enough sympathizers to retaliate."
"But what does this have to do with the murders?" I asked, confused.
"The Yondaime has ordered we all obey the law. Killing humans is obviously against the law. Maybe the Uchihas or some of their cohorts are doing it to show opposition to the Hokage?"
"Hm…" I said, mulling it over. "I guess that could be it…but the murders are very clean; only one bite and the victims show no sign of struggle. If they were trying to make a statement, wouldn't it have been better to make it messy?"
Kaede shrugged. "Hell if I know. I imagine the Uchihas are very clean when it comes to their food, the high and mighty bastards…they could just be keeping it clean out of habit."
I nodded and we fell silent while I turned all the new information over in my head. It was an interesting theory, though I thought it was a bit unlikely.
Finally I stood up and left the money for my drinks on the bar, along with a handsome tip for the info Kaede had provided.
Outside, the reporters were waiting for me as they sipped coffee and chatted with each other around a white van parked on the street. Apparently they hadn't noticed me come out, so I took the opportunity to slip around to the rear of the bar and take the long way back to my car.
My second and last stop was Konoha University. KU was supposedly the best college in all of Fire Country, but it was also party central. There were always a couple dozen parties going on around campus and even more off of it. I knew this because I'd gone there myself for a few years to earn my degree in preternatural concepts. Every night I was invited to at least six parties or raves or something. I rarely ever went to them, but occasionally I would, for the same reason I go to clubs these days.
It was late, but I was sure the man I'd come to see would still be there. He was a workaholic, and yet he still always seemed to be behind on all his planning and grading and such. It never ceased to amaze me that he couldn't catch up. How hard could it be to manage a shop class? Even a college-level one? I suppose the man did lead a double life, but still.
Just as I suspected, Tenzou was still in the office adjoining his classroom that reeked of freshly cut wood and ozone. Wood shavings crunched under my feet as I made my way to the room and Tenzou looked up at me just as I stood in the doorway.
"Good evening, Kakashi. It's been a while."
"Indeed it has, my little pussycat," I said playfully; it was fun to tease Tenzou. He got flustered so easily.
"Kakashi! Don't say things like that! What if someone heard you?" he scolded me, glancing around at nonexistent eavesdroppers.
"They'd think I was your lover calling you a pet-name, Tenzou. Relax," I said, smiling at his blush. If someone were to think the nickname meant more than that—which it was—then he'd be in trouble. But it was doubtful unless they were already suspicious of the man, which was unlikely since Tenzou was probably the most careful wereleopard, or lycanthrope in general, I'd ever met. I'd never noticed any sign from him that he turned furry once a month. Except for maybe the fact that he was unreachable for that one night.
"Still," he complained, frowning at me in the most adorable way.
"It's okay," I persisted. "You and I both know there's no one around but us."
"Yeah, I guess…" he relented, just like he always did when we had this very same conversation almost every time we met. He turned back to the mass of papers on his desk and spoke as he sorted them. "I take it you're here about the murders, right?"
I grunted to the affirmative.
"I doubt I can add anything that Kaede hasn't already told you."
How had he known I'd already spoken with Kaede?
I groaned aloud when realization hit me. Those damned paparazzi must have spread the word already. The whole planet probably knew by now. I'd be getting phone calls from slightly more respectable media sources and people crowding outside my house, begging for interviews, for God only knows how long…There was very little I hated more than being in the news.
"What's wrong?" he asked, still not looking up.
"Fucking paparazzi…god-damned leeches…" I muttered.
He looked up at me then, frowning. "Paparazzi? You didn't bring paparazzi here, did you?" he asked, suddenly at full attention.
"No," I said, waving a hand to placate him. "I lost them before I left the Cat, but they must have already told the world that I hang out with vampires like they're my fucking buddies. Fuck…even you heard it and you barely ever leave this god-damned campus…"
"What are you talking about?" he asked, still frowning. "I haven't heard anything about your hanging out with vampires, though I already knew you did—sometimes."
I glanced up at him. "Then how did you know I'd already been to Kaede's?"
"I can smell her on you," he said, tapping the side of his nose.
I refrained from glaring at the lycanthrope best I could. It always annoyed me when something preternatural used one of their powers on me, especially when it made me look like an idiot.
"Whatever…just tell me what you know," I said impatiently. It was already half past two and I clearly wasn't going to meet my three a.m. mark, and the Vicaden I'd taken earlier was starting to wear off, so I was already running on a short fuse. And Tenzou's innocent little show of power was only making things worse.
He turned back to his papers again. "Kaede tell you about the potential war?"
"I don't know anything other than that, really. I can tell you the Uchihas leader though, and where you can find him, if that helps any."
"His name's Uchiha Fugaku. He and some other members of his clan work at the Velvet Caress in the vampire district under the Yondaime's orders. They don't like it, but they don't have a choice. You can find him there most nights of the week."
"What does he look like?" I asked, already dreading going to the establishment. I'd heard of it; it was a damned strip club, and after tonight's little incident at the Alley Cat…the media were going to eat me alive for going there.
Tenzou abandoned his papers and opened a drawer in his desk to dig out his wallet from his suitcase full of yet more papers. Out of the wallet he pulled a business card and handed it to me. "These are his two sons. He looks more like the older one."
The card was extra thick and showed a picture of two pale, naked vampires, draped over each other in such a way that hide both of their naughty bits. Over top of them were neatly typed, white letters and numbers naming the club, it's address, and the phone numbers to reach it at. I gave the picture a distasteful look. If the two of them weren't so painfully sexy, people would complain about the blatant incest represented in the picture.
"Which one's the older one?" They both looked about the same age, though they were probably much older than I could ever guess by looking at a picture.
"The one with longer hair and scars on his face."
"Great. Thanks. Anything else?"
"Just be careful, Kakashi. The Uchihas may look delicate, but they're more ruthless than most vampires. They already hate you for being a hunter; if they find out what you're up to…"
"I'm always careful, Tenzou. Thanks for the help," I said, handing him back his card, vaguely wondering why he had it in the first place.
"No problem," he said, watching me leave.
By the time I got home it was well past four and I was exhausted. I hoped to God I didn't have anything to do tomorrow that I'd forgotten, because I planned on sleeping all day.
I needed to keep my strength up if I was going vampire hunting tomorrow night.