Re-Invention (Attn: Bao)
Bao could usually be found in one of two places at Heolfor - the library or the dining room. Amir checked both places and found him in the dining room. he entered quietly, walking almost noiselessly across the room and stopping at a chair near where Bao sat.
Nudging it out with his toe Amir sat himself on top of the long table, resting his feet on the seat of the chair. He had been more or less awake and coherent for most of a night, finally, and looked pretty close to normal aside from perhaps needing a little bit more filling out in his face and the muscles of his chest.
Jin had been his constant companion that entire time, attentive, caring, supportive, gentle when Amir seemed to need it, aggressive when he seemed to need that. He still felt lost but Jin's company was helping. The Nightsman listened to him patiently, didn't berate him, didn't push him, just helped him cope with the strangeness of being alone in his own head while he searched for himself again.
Amir waited until Bao looked up and then offered him a cheeky smile, very much like the old pre-near-death Amir would have done.
"I'm grateful to you," he said softly, "for being there when I woke up."
He could not remember any details after he'd lapsed into his blood coma and before he had felt Jin there and heard his voice. But he knew Bao had been present in his room and in and out afterward, helping Jin keep Amir fed without murdering anyone.
Amir was looking better. Not great yet, but clearly better. Bao half smiled at Amir in answer to tbhe grin his maker tossed at him.
"You are welcome. I wish I could have done more."
Truer words were never spoken. Bao had felt next to usless for the rescue effort and woefully inadequate for his father's recovery. Bao was worried he was unneeded that he had been replaced. He would never say that but he was emotionally withdrawing not wanting to be hurt.
The only thing he, however, cared about was Amir and that he come back into his own.
"You know I am happy to help you, however you need."
He would have let Amir drain him dry if that was what had been needed. He would disapper now... if that was what was needed.
"I know this has to be... different... for you," Amir said. "You were raised with different truths than Mara. And me."
All Bao's life he had been used to a certain chain of command. Amir was on top but Amir answered to Subira and their goals had always been similar. Now Amir's goals were changing. Amir's mindset was not Subira's.
"There are things I might have taught you, Bao, that aren't what should have been taught. There are goals we had that I'm not sure are mine anymore."
He tapped his heels on the seat of the chair in front of him. "I don't know if you want to redirect your focus. I don't know if you want to stay with me."
Amir never thought he would ever have this conversation with Bao. Bao had always been there. They had been friends, good friends, throughout Bao's life. Amir didn't expect this conversation to be so difficult. He didn't shy away from it though. He watched Bao with his dark glittering eyes, his face not as neutral as it normally would have been - he felt this. It wasn't easy to say.
"I'll understand if you don't want this anymore," Amir said softly. "Things are changing. I hope... I very much hope... that I still have your friendship. But if you must follow Subira, you must follow Subira."
He had done his best to teach Bao that the Clan was paramount to all things; to love Anantya more than any one person. It had not been easy to do when Subira had been influencing him to teach his own vampires that she was the boss.
Different was one way of saying it. It was more accurate to say that Bao was feeling more than slightly confused and lost right now. He didn't know where this was going or what to make of it. His biggest concern was that Amir simply wouldn't need him.
What? Bao frowned trying to puzzle out Amir's meaning. He had been raised with truths about wolves, about the clan and with ultimate trust in Amir. That didn't change now. If anything it was more true now. Subira had proven that she was untrustworthy she hadn't seen fit to let her offspring manage on their own she had held the reigns too tight.
Cautiously he allowed a little of his doubt and confusion to show. He wouldn't show that to anyone but Amir.
"I'm afraid I don't understand Cha."
Not stay with him? Amir wanted him to leave? Or Amir wanted to leave him? The only answer Bao had right now, the -one- thing he was certain of and that apparently Amir needed to hear.
"Why would I follow Subira? My loyalty is with you Cha. It always has been and unless you do something against the clan it always will be."
"Bao. That's good. That's how it should be."
He thought back centuries ago, tried to picture the night of Bao's turning very clearly.
"I want you to know," he said, leaning forward, resting his hand on Bao's shoulder. "I was the one who turned you that night. Not Subira. That choice was mine and influenced by no one else."
He smiled softly at his middle child. "I have always valued your friendship, Bao. That will never change. No matter what you do or what you think you should have done, the fact that you're in this world will always mean a lot."
It was not usual for Amir to be so expressive, but with his return to life came the slow return of some personality traits that were all his. Duty was one of those, and he was responsible for Bao's well-being, and that of his other vampires'. And that meant looking after morale among other things.
That had been haunting the edge of Bao's thoughts even though he hadn't consciously considered it. He had been turned under Subira's commands. Had Amir even wanted him or was he just a tool? Did he have a purpose now that Amir was free of Subira?
Hearing his father address it before he could even ask made Bao smile a little. His father, both trapped by his own maker's commands and free of them still wanted him. That meant something to him. Quite a lot. He wasn't totally reassured of his own position but he did feel that Amir was showing clear signs of improvement.
"Thank you Cha. I would be lost with out you it is good to know that..."
He was valued? Needed? Bao, who was almost never at a loss for words, could not find what to say. He gave up.
Part of him was startled by Amir's clear statement of his feelings, another part of him was simply incapable of expressing his own feelings that clearly.
"I am just glad you are recovering. Of course I will be happy to assist however you need."
Amir had to reassess though; he hoped Bao would simply accept his words without too much question because even Amir didn't know what the game was anymore. Jin had helped him start finding himself again. For so long Amir had been defined by Subira's purposes and Subira's goals. He didn't know what his were anymore.
"Things will be a little different. I can't help that," Amir said. "Mara... and Jin. I need them both as well. They will be part of whatever happens next."
Amir was no longer Subira's machine. He had grown used to being a tool. Physical companionship had been exactly that and nothing more. There had been no room for love or softer emotions but Amir needed those now. He was free to feel them and he actually wanted to. He was lucky to have Jin, and when Mara returned... well. They would all see what happened.
"Be patient Bao. With everything. With me." Amir rubbed his eyes with his hand. "It's so different now. Like everything before was seen through a fog. The few things I remember clearly are the things I'm trying to hold on to. Mara. You."
He shrugged at Bao. "I'll get through it. So will you."
He attempted to find some humor, dry and subtle though it was. He smiled, it was soft and a little hesitant but at the same time genuinely kind, caring even. He truly loved his creator.
"Work and play Cha it is all the same you know that."
Yes, he had suspected that was the case. Bao was not sheltered or naive, he had heard Jin and Amir not too long ago. He'd left to give them their privacy. On some level though it hurt. Not that he at all begrudged Amir companionship, even love with any number of people it was just... he didn't understand Jin. First Mara and then Amir... and yet he'd not managed a polite conversation with the man. Bao was starting to suspect that Jin was trying to either separate him from his family or that Jin simply didn't like him.
From that tentative showing of emotion, humor even Bao locked down again. Refusing to let even Amir see the weakness and self doubt there.
"Of course Cha. I had suspected as much."
Now that worried Bao a bit, he had never seen this kind of... exhaustion or weakness from Amir. It was unexpected and he didn't know how to respond to it. It seemed some how wrong to try and comfort Amir. Even if he would know how.
"We have time. The answers will come again. I only wish I could do more to help you."
Perhaps, just perhaps Amir didn't trust him. Perhaps his maker still felt he belonged to Subira and wouldn't let him close. That would explain him gravitating to Mara and Jin were were both free of that taint. Bao, however, had no idea how to prove that his loyalties were not split and lay only with Amir and the clan. Only time would tell.
Hadn't it been just after their arrival in Nachton that Bao had reminded Amir to make time for both? He thought so.
The quick flash of humor was gone quickly, though. Amir couldn't help but notice the speed with which Bao shut down at the idea that Amir was involved with Jin and Mara. He sat still for a moment, surprised, trying to analyze the sharp acrid feeling inside his chest. Had Bao's response hurt? What was wrong with Jin and Mara? Amir had never really relied on anyone for emotional support before. Was Bao hoping that it would have been him? No way. He and Amir had never shared that sort of relationship. What Mara and Jin gave to Amir, Bao could not provide. Instead he gave something else, equally necessary.
He nodded at Bao, trying to be casual. "Of course. We do have plenty of time. But Bao, you don't know how much your presence helps. The people I recognize from my past help keep me rooted here. You and Mara have always done that for me. I turned you for reasons that were mine and not Subira's, and I remember that when I see either of you. It's very important to me."
He couldn't continue to wax poetic on the subject; Amir wasn't comfortable doing so by any stretch of the imagination. Today was a special case. But he could swear it was giving him hives.
After all children of all species learned the skills they would need through play. And with some luck doing what he enjoyed Amir would find some of himself that he had lost.
He had no issues with Mara, in fact, in some ways Bao was very happy for his sister. He had always known that Mara was Amir's favorite It would perhaps be very good for both of them to experiment with a new facet to their relationship.
Bao relaxed somewhat when Amir's conversation focused on Mara. His issue was only with Jin. But it was his issue, Bao couldn't even explain it. He would simply have to try and cope with it. With any luck he would simply be able to avoid Jin.
"I am not leaving Cha."
In fact a lot of Bao's work lately had involved Amir. He was 'killing' Amir off as thoroughly as possible. Any identity, account, alias anything that Subira might have known about or might be able to track and was setting things up from scratch. It was some of his best work and it would all be delivered to Amir in the next day or so. It had taken quite some time but it was through.
"And I expect the same courtesy of you."
Which was as close as Bao could say to 'I need you too'.
He thought he was coping fairly well considering. Amir was honest with himself, at least. He was all kinds of fucked up right now and he knew it. He was trying not to let it show but there was only so much acting he could do right now. It was aggravating to him to realize he didn't even want to be outside of his apartment right now. He wanted to slink back to where it was warm and dark and where Jin was. If it weren't for the fact that Bao were here Amir would already have done so.
He knew something was bothering Bao, though. It was pretty clear to him what, but Amir couldn't fix it. He didn't know the nature of the trouble, exactly, but he knew it had something to do with himself, Jin, and Mara.
The situation could only be fixed with time. Unless there was something specifically wrong that Bao had an issue with... but Amir knew how pointless it could be to try to persuade Bao into talking when he didn't want to. It was rare and unusual for Bao to keep things from him, but Amir had learned not to pry if he wanted the whole truth and nothing but the truth from Bao.
"I'm not leaving. Not again," Amir said softly. Certainly not by himself.
A small faint smile found his slips and he inclined his head in a teasing, mocking little bow.
"Yes Cha. I promise to find something 'fun' to do that is not work. Would you care to play chess with me or tiddly winks?"
He'd had to look up what tiddly winks were. Bao had never heard of them but it was a phrase Pakpao had used more than once. He hoped that the reference would amuse Amir at least slightly. Although, he was sincere about the offer to play chess. He would have one of the servants set up the board here and now and he certainly wouldn't mind some Turkish coffee.
"That is good. I don't believe any of us would let you."
There might be issues between he and Jin but thus far Bao had no reason to doubt Jin's honor and desire to keep Amir safe and well. That might Bao thought he could rely on.
He wondered briefly if Bao even knew what tiddly winks was, and had a brief amusing mental image of his very serious son bent over the tiny little pogs, his well-manicured fingernails carefully arranged in a delicate grip as he tried to flip them properly.
He barked a short laugh suddenly. "Yeah. Definitely chess."
They found a board and pieces. There was a distinct zen feeling in the room as they quietly sipped coffee and tried to out think each other. Amir forgot about trying to find himself for a while. Bao... actually unbuttoned the top button on his shirt.
In the end Amir and Sun Tzu won the war. It was a long one; they'd been playing long enough and Amir had shoved The Art of War down Bao's throat many times over the centuries. When it was done though, Amir stood, finished his coffee, and left, dropping his hand briefly on Bao's shoulder, leaving him with the completed chess board, Bao's king tipped sideways, Amir's bishop, rook, and queen in their strategic positions. Let him think on it.
((ooc: Amir and Bao out))