"Hello, Leroy Marsdale speaking." "Ah, Mr. Marsdale! This is Mr. Brentwood, calling about that contract assignment. I hope you're having a pleasant evening?" Leon said through clenched teeth, wishing silently he could find a way to burn that fat little toad to a crisp over the phone. "Oh, yes, yes, the job's done. Say, while we're talking, I don't suppose there was anything you perhaps neglected to mention? Any little tidbit or morsel of information that just, I don't know, slipped your mind? Like what? Oh, like, say, the fact that YOU SENT ME INTO A FULL GODDAMN SABBAT NEST FOR A ROLL OF FUCKING RECEIPTS?!?" He could feel the rage of the Beast welling up within him, and for several seconds he was so overcome with anger that his entire body tensed up and he imagined himself strangling the little Ventrue until his head popped off like a wine cork. As he throttled the phone, Neko watched patiently from the bar, scooping salsa onto some nachos from a little glass jar.
When he regained control of himself, he held the twisted phone back in place and listened to Leroy's panicky, static-filled voice trying desperately to smoothe things over with him. "Dat-dat-dat-dat-dat. Leroy. Leroy. Leroy, shut--dammit, shut up! Listen to me. Here is what you're going to do to keep me happy. And you want to keep me happy, don't you Leroy? Yes. Good. I'm going to bring you your damn ledger tomorrow night. No, not a damn minute sooner. And if you send a ghoul to pick it up, I'm going to send him back to you in pieces. When I bring you your little book, you're going to have my fee ready. Cash. Large bills. The usual, that's right. Except this time, you're going to pay me what the job was worth. By my count, I dusted 18 shovelheads in that damn coven, and every one of them died harder than the last. So you're going to pay me an extra $1000 for each one I killed. And then, just to top things off, you're going to throw in an additional $5000 as an apology for sending me in with such shitty intel. Are we clear?...Leroy? I said, are we--ah. Good. Then I'll see you tomorrow night. Good night, Mr. Marsdale."
Leon jammed the 'End Call' button so hard, the abused handset finally shattered. He dropped the ruined phone to the floor and moved to take a seat at the bar near Neko. He watched enviously as she spooned an ungodly amount of salsa on a chip and scarfed it down, her eyes on him.
"Don't look at me like that. Marsdale's an asshole, and he deserved every second of it. And more." Silence. "I mean it! He nearly got me killed! Again!" More silence. "I don't care. I'm not apologizing." Still more silence. "Oh, shut up. Eat your chips." Neko merely shrugged and re-focused on her snack as Leon pushed away from the bar and headed back to his study. "Let me know if you need anything, kiddo," he called before he shut the door. Of course, if she needed anything she would get it herself without a word to him; it was just something he always said, mostly because he felt like something should be said.
He wished he could have snagged a sample of the new drug the Sabbat were pushing; he would have loved to find out its base chemistry. But sadly the coven he'd hit tonight had not been involved in its production; only its financing. There were other ways he could pick up a sample, of course; if he felt like dredging through the ledger again, he probably could have determined shipping patterns, ingredient deliveries, enough information to give him a bare-bones picture of the drug's life span from cook to dealer. Or he could go out and hit the clubs, see if anyone was talking about some new slush on the street. But he didn't feel like it. The evening had taken more out of him than he cared to admit, and he just wanted to sleep. It was still pretty early, only about 3:30 am, but there was really nothing else to be done. He kicked his feet up on his desk, staring at the myriad maps that papered the wall over his desk. There were maps from dozens of countries, some modern, some out of date, some so ancient they depicted the world as a small, flat disc with the oceans pouring endlessly over the sides. On each were brightly colored thumb tacks, push pins, stickers and marker stains, color-coded according to a deeply complex personal system. The accumulation of over sixty years of searching; Leon's own private quest.
"Where are you...where are you hiding, Cruor Perussi?" Leon's last words drifted into nothing, as he fell into the sleep of the dead.