Une petite tasse de thÃ©(Attn: Bao)
It was early yet but the shelter had been very busy of late. Claire wanted a little time to herself before treating burns, wounds, sniffles and aches. She wondered where Sofia had gone off to. The excuse that she had been given was that she had a family emergency and was going back to Greece; however she knew for a fact that Sofia had no family left. It was somewhat distressing but she had very little time to think about it.
Claire wandered around the kitchen boiling some hot water and finding a mug for her tea. She was feeling a little self indulgent today and went to the pantry to find some brioche to accompany her vanilla jasmine tea.
Claire exclaimed happily when she found a wonderful strawberry jam to use as a spread. Taking all her finds to the table, she heard the kettle whistle, letting her know that her water was done.
Those were his thoughts as he made his way to the kitchen. He leave the cup before going to change his shirt and then have one of the staff bring him fresh coffee in the dinning room. It was a room that was often deserted. It wasn't as comfortable or versatile as the media room, but it was even less often occupied especially at this time of day.
He only half noticed the kettle signing. Bao dismissed it as member of the staff making tea. It wasn't until he heard the French that he even looked up. Suddenly completely oblivious to his coffee stained shirt he bowed slightly.
"Could I interest you in some tea?"
It was hard to miss the mug in his hand and the stain on his arm.
"Perhaps you will have better luck with it?"
Pouring some water into her own mug, she set the tea in to steep.
"I have enough water here and was just about to enjoy a bit of breakfast."
"Ah, yes. We did have a bit of an issue with the coffee. Perhaps tea would be better. "
Besides, it might be nice to spend some time with Claire that didn't involve frozen projectiles.
"Yes thank you. Is there something I might assist with?â€?
Not that Bao was terribly experienced in the kitchen. Oh he could manage, but mostly he left things to the staff or whatever restaurant he was in or even more commonly, he simply didn't eat. But chivalry would rear its ugly head.
He did have an appointment soon, but he had some time to spare, the casual correspondence he had planned on handling would just have to wait.
"It is all nearly ready but do you wish to use that cup or would you like another?"
She went to the cabinet and pulled out another small plate and the opened the draw with the utensils to find them both knives. He would need another ball for his tea as well. Claire was well familiar with where such things were stored. She sorted out enough of the loose mixture into the mesh ball and held it up for him.
"How do you feel about strawberry jam? There are others in the pantry if this one is not to your liking?"
Claire unwrapped the little roll like pieces of brioche and set them in the middle of the kitchen table where they both could reach them.
Bao found the cups and pulled one that matched Claire's. He didn't want to mingle the flavors of tea and coffee. The coffee had been very strong and any dregs would undoubtedly overwhelm the tea.
He preferred more tropical or citrus flavors over strawberry, it was too sweet for his taste but he wasn't about to say that. He wouldn't want to be rude, it was quite generous of her to share her breakfast..
"Strawberry will be lovely thank you."
Seeing she set the bread down he smiled, brioche. It had been a while since he'd had any of that.
"I cannot remember the last time I had breakfast. Do you often make something for your self?"
"It has been a busy week at work so I was feeling self indulgent." Claire gave him a small blush.
Spreading a little jam on the bread, she said. " What brings you about this early in the morning?"
Claire took a delicate bite of her brioche before setting it down to finish prepping her tea. Taking the mesh ball out, she added a little sugar. Stirring it, she then tapped the spoon on the edge and took both the utensil and the ball to the sink. She would clean them later.
Settling back down in her seat, she sighed happily.
"A little self indulgence is a good thing now and then. Might I ask where you work?"
It was considerably easier to have a conversation with Claire without the snowballs. It was unusual for Bao, but he found himself interested in his French clan sister. She seemed rather gentle, but she had also been quite capable with the snowballs. He suspected she was more than she appears.
Without thinking about it Bao looked at his watch. He knew his schedule for the day to the minute if he knew what time it was he knew what he was supposed to be doing.
"Truthfully it isn't early for me. I'm often up this early for my clients. In some ways it was easier to do business with the other side of the world before everything became 'instant'."
Taking a sip of her tea, she paused and smiled. "Technically I suppose it isn't work. I don't get paid for it. I am a doctor. I volunteer at several clinics when I can."
She toyed with the brioche, a frown on her face. "Lately there has been a little more chaos at the women's clinic."
Claire could not describe the misgivings she had about the situation at the shelter. They were half formed and not based on any hard fact, save Sofia's absence. The place was running rough without its leader, hardly a surprise. Other things were not easily explained. Some members seemed more agitated; she had more incidents of fear, anxiety and physical abuse in the past few weeks. Other people seem more calm, but in subtle ways that she could not put her finger on.
Picking up the brioche, she smiled at Bao. "And what is this line of work that has a, for all appearances, sane vampire discussing business around the world at ungodly early hours?"
Bao had mentioned clients and transactions with foreign countries. That sounded far more glamorous than treating broken bones and sore throats. Claire took another bite of her brioche, watching him from beneath the screen of dark lashes.
"Really? That is quite generous of you. Unusual too. Have you continued your studies through out your life or is this a recent pursuit?"
Not that Bao had any idea how old she was. He only could assume that she was not completely green.
"Chaos is not something that typically benefits a clinic. What is the trouble?"
Bao was suddenly aware he hadn't touched the brioche, he took an experimental bite while considering his response.
"Law. Among other things I help some of our clan mates avoid paper trails, create new identities and assist them in transferring resources from one identity to another. It can get... complex."
Especially if you were dealing with several countries at once. But it was still easier than explaining why one person had owned a company or property for three hundred years.
Taking a sip of tea, "I am sure that it is a bit odd for one of our kind." With a sparkle of mischief, she added "However, medics are allowed into all kinds of places that has limited access."
She pondered the problem with the clinic and said "The owner has gone missing. A vampire, one of our's, by the name of Sofia. According to her assistant she has gone back to Greece to deal with a family emergency. With her gone things have been a bit more rocky in the running."
He was a lawyer that was interesting; early state craft had been of great interest to her, when she was alive. In the present time, it all seemed rather complicated. Often it came down to who had the best lawyer. She suspected that Bao was quite talented at what he did.
"Yes, my Creator took care of new identities for me, or had someone do them. I suppose when I need a new one that I will have to find someone to who would be willing to help me."
Sorin would not be around to take care of such things anymore. Claire was not sure where her Sire was but she knew that he could not afford to let even his child know his where abouts. She could find him but she had not decided what she would do when she did.
And then of course there was the good doctor. Bao was still cross that Stafford had shut him down so completely. As far has he could tell that particular she wolf had dropped off the face of the earth. She must still be in Nachton though, somewhere. He'd have her yet.
With a sigh he forced those thoughts away and offered her a sly thoughtful smile.
"Now, that is something I had not considered. It is amazing how trusting people can be of those in the medical profession. Almost as trusting of them as they are suspicious of my colleagues."
They'd had a clan mate go missing? And she'd run off for family trouble? That gave Bao pause. Certainly some people maintained mortal ties but to go missing was, unusual.
"I have a rather expansive network. If you'd like I'd be happy to see if we can get in touch with her."
Ordinarily he might not have offered, but it seemed natural to offer the courtesy to Claire. It was probably nothing, he'd learned that one could not explain half of what people did, after several hundred years a perfectly stable vampire might simply walk into the sun, but he would look into it if she'd like.
"You are no longer in touch with him then? Of course I should be happy to assist you though, should you need."
He couldn't imagine not being in contact with Amir in one form or another. Not that they were joined at the hip, but even when on different continents they did correspond and Bao had never yet failed to answer his creator's call.
Too often doctors did not have all the facts about what was going on with a patient's body. They were making a best guess with the information available but people put great faith in their medical advisers.Instead of saying that something still feels wrong, still hurts or asking why this symptom did not go away with the treatment proscribed they simply blindly follow the doctor's orders as if he or she were infallible.
His kindness was endearing. She was reluctant to put him through trouble for the sake of something that was likely nothing. Claire sighed, it could be something. "I don't want to burden you with this problem but if you happen to hear anything her name is Sofia Castellanos. She's a quite a bit older than myself." Claire blushed prettily at that, a lady shouldn't divulge her age or that of a friend. However, she would never look it until her death and then she would be ash, so it hardly seemed to matter. "Sofia was at least two thousand."
When Bao asked about her Creator, Claire focused her gaze on her hands, currently resting in her lap. She spoke softly.
"My Sire is the Elder of the Night. Sorin Lazarovici. He is..." She sighed and looked up at Bao, finishing her sentence in a flat voice. "being hunted for crimes against the Clan."
Far too often people, human and vampire, were simply willing to trust a professional to just turn their lives blindly over to some one. Personally, he couldn't fathom it. He grinned at Claire's smile though, it was infectious.
"I am happy to help. I will make a few inquiries."
Bao pulled a pen out of his shirt pocket, found a napkin and jotted down the name and her approximate age. It was possible that after twenty centuries it was possible she'd have given up. But he suspected Claire would have seen signs of that.
He smiled polity and her manners and modesty. Apparently even after a thousand years or more somethings held true.
"You certainly don't look your age."
And that was the answer even if she had been turned yesterday.
That was an unexpected revelation. Bao blinked once and paused to consider this. He did not, however, judge her by her maker's actions. It was a bit awkward to respond to.
"I am sorry."
If, indeed, Sorin had committee crimes against the clan Bao would not be sorry for him. He was sorry that Claire felt the need to be apologetic. The law did not judge for sins of the father any longer.
She blushed at his continued interest and offer to help. It was very kind of him and Claire was very grateful. "Merci beaucoup."
Cupping both hands around her cup, she inhaled the warm sweet aroma of her tea. Bao's comment caught her off guard and the heat returned to her cheeks. Claire looked down at the table with a demure smile before lifting her gaze. "Thank you. I am most grateful to look and feel much younger."
The explanation about her Creator made her uncomfortable. Claire took another bite of brioche. Nodding to Bao's gentle words of sympathy, she said. "He made his choices, poor though they were." She sighed and said. "I find it difficult to hate him, a part of me still thinks of him as my father and protector. He was always kind to me, in his way."
Sorin might not have been everyone's ideal mentor but Claire always found him kind and patient. He was a good teacher and a proud father who doted on her for her successes. He helped her hone her skills and she had always yearned to exceed his expectations.
Waving a hand as if to clear away the depressing subject. "Bah, it is not the topic for breakfast. So why did you choose to be a lawyer, if I may ask?"
He inclined her head at her description of her maker. It was easy enough for Bao to understand. While he didn't think it was possible for Amir to even think about betraying the clan, his maker wasn't exactly the warm and fuzzy type. He certainly wouldn't be winning any Mr. Popularity contests. Of course, Bao reasoned, neither would he.
"I do understand. My maker is still rather important to me."
Or extremely, but didn't care to sound clingy or dependent.
Out of consideration, he let her change the subject. Although, he frowned trying to remember. It seemed he had always had something due to with the law. It was hard to remember why he had started.
"It makes sense." He said simply. "While it does change and evolve it also remains constant. There is a beauty in the order of it and an art in it's loopholes and inconsistencies. It ties us all together and keeps us all apart. In short, before I laps into poetry, it is simply fascinating and challenging."
She also appreciated his obliging return to happier topics of discussion. His reasons for preferring the law were admirable and telling. Claire noted that Bao reflected those qualities which he attributed to the legal system, orderly, constant and complex, at least so far as her limited knowledge of him could discern.
Her last bite of brioche had been finished while he spoke. Claire brought her napkin up to delicately dab the corners of her mouth before speaking. " I find your reasons very profound. You make the law sound much like a beautiful mistress, complex, possibly even dangerous, but well worth courting. Hardly the evil ogre that is a more common view."
'You are Order of the Rose, then?" It seemed likely, but many people failed to choose an Order at all and sometimes, though rarely, their occupational skills did not reflect their choice of Order. Her own profession, while it had been useful for her clan activities, had little bearing on her decision to join the Night.
"You do me far too much credit. They are not profound, perhaps passionate but still, only reasons."
The law and medicine did have some similarities, he was unsurprised that she would at least understand his love of the subject. Unexpectedly Bao half laughed. They had a doctor and a lawyer all they needed was an Indian Chief and they would be all set. Of course, this odd humor he wouldn't share. Perhaps with Amir, perhaps with Pakpao but it was not something he would open up to a vast majority of people.
It wasn't a terribly difficult deduction, still Bao was pleased she made it. It indicated that she was truly listening.
"It is where my talents seemed to be of the most use. I had considered joining the Night but," Bao sipped at his tea, noting it was almost gone, "it wasn't quite the right fit."
He wondered if she had followed her creator's footsteps and joined the Night as well. Given her apparent affection for him, it would not surprise Bao. But he found himself slightly reluctant to ask.
She was not certain what he found amusing but she liked his laugh, soft though it was. Claire felt no need to inquire; it was good enough that he was enjoying the beginning of the day.
Nodding, she favored him with a slight smile. "No, the poking around in other people's business might seem like an entertaining past time to some but it can be quite tedious. I am ever astounded at the notions of the young ones. James Bond films colouring their perception of how the Night works." It was her turn to chuckle softly. "How quickly they find it to be otherwise."
She finished the last of her tea and then replaced the cup on the saucer. "I find the Rose to be the most unsung hero of our Orders. The Night can be full of flash from time to time and the Hunt are always impressive, if not intimidating, but the Order of the Rose is what makes it all" Claire held up a hand to indicate everything around them. "run smoothly."
"Would you like another cup?"
Very minimalist, but that did make it less true. Bao rather admired her thinking, and it was easy enough to agree with.
His lips twisted into a wry smile at her thoughts about the Night. Given that he spent a lot of time poking about in peoples lives Bao was well aware how tedious it could be. There were, however, occasionally some very bright points of interest. But then again, he had a certain love for minutia.
"If a member of the Night were to attract as much attention as Mr. Bond on such a regular basis, I should say he was doing it wrong."
[i]Bond was far too flashy to be a secret agent. But, Bao supposed, that people like the fictional spy and the members of the Night must also have a flare for the dramatic, a certain love of the drama and theatricality of misdirection and subterfuge. And such a love would on occasion create quite a stir.
"It sounds much more noble and engaging when you put it that way."
Bao checked his watch, he would very much like another cup. He was finding he rather liked Claire's company, but if he lingered much longer he'd be off schedule. He hated that.
"I should, very much, but I am afraid it will have to be another time."
He said allowing his regret to show.
She stood, smoothing out the cream coloured beaded tunic that she wore over a matching slender hobble skirt. Claire turned and picked up her cup and Bao's. Moving them to the sink, she said.
"Thank you for the excellent company."
A taxi, far less conspicuous than a limo, would soon be here to take her to the shelter. While she would have loved to linger over another cup of tea, Claire also had to be leaving. She favored him with one last smile before he left.
"I hope the rest of the day goes well."
((OOC: Both Out with permission ))