Every Action (invite only)
To say he had been keeping a low profile since losing the curator and for all intents and purposes betraying the lab and the project would have been quite accurate. Bao had been keeping to his previous orders from Amir, he was going very few places other than his office, his townhouse and the manor. He was, perhaps, avoiding the manor going there only when necessary. The work had not been his raison d'etre, far from it. It had, however, been his work, at least in part, and Bao took pride in his work. This failure, for there was no other word for it, had stung and had left him rather distracted.
He had been half coaxed, half brow beat, into meeting his only daughter for their regular chess game. She had insisted on this location, a small cafÃ© on the waterfront. Typically they met at the Piazza but she had insisted on this location, something about being a 'delicate tropical creature' and intending to make the most of the summer. They had sat outside, in the sultry summer night with the chess board between them and as neither of them spoke much while playing the only sound was often that of the waves. Unfortunately, the scent of Pakpao's clove mingled with the fresh sea air, much to Bao's annoyance.
Yet again, he aborted a move, returning the piece to its original position. This brought on an outburst of irritated Thai. Looking up from the board he saw Pakpao, obviously cross, stab out her cigarette.
"You are playing like a nine year old!"
She huffed at him. Bao blinked several times as he considered her statement.
"Perhaps if said nine year old were Bobby Fischer."
The cold expression made her blue eyes quite icy and showed she wasn't amused in the slightest.
"I apologize, I have been distracted."
"You have been for weeks and you haven't said why."
"It is complicated."
Apparently this was the wrong answer, as Pakpao who could be temperamental on occasion, tossed back the remains of her coffee and lounged in her chair, although her mind was probably still on the game. After a moment she pulled out her phone and with a clever little app of her own designed simply saved the game. She was done for the night.
A few more words were exchanged, he promised to reschedule the game and she left him sitting there alone with the ocean.
What she wanted to do, more precisely, what she'd been ordered to do was to let Hoang know he was not free and clear. No, he'd upset quite a few people and rather made their lives difficult as well; Alfred had only barley escaped and was deep in hiding. Thankfully Alfred had been too paranoid to keep all their financial eggs in one basket and there were resources to draw on.
While she had orders it was in everyone's best interest that she remain discreet. So Cecile had sat feigning interest in her ebook as Hoang and the Asian woman played chess. Given their lack of conversation and her abrupt manner in leaving Cecile wondered about the relationship. From what she knew of Hoang the fact that he was even dealing with the woman meant he had some attachment to her and that fact was filed away for future reference. It was very probable that she or her twin would check up on this woman in the near future. So she snapped a discreet picture and sent it to her brother, might as well get a leg up on things.
Once the other woman was gone, and Hoang just stat there and either brooded or contemplated the sea Cecile stood and quietly walked to his table and sat down.
"Good evening Mr. Hoang. You'll pardon my presumption, I'm Cecile Cooper. We have some mutual acquaintances. How do you do?"
He assessed her dispassionately, golden blond hair, brown eyes, trim figure, stylish but understated dress and a faintly British accent. While she was attractive she was not exactly striking or memorable. She had, however, irritated him slightly by sitting down uninvited. Still he accepted the offered hand with a vague nod.
"Ms. Cooper, a pleasure I'm sure." There was no warmth or pleasure in his voice though. "However, I was just leaving, perhaps you would set up an appointment with my office."
It was a dismissal as he left a bit of cash to cover their modest bill and stood to leave.
Cecile wasn't so easily put off and placed a hand on his arm to restrain him. It was a gentle touch but Bao could feel strength in her hand. He looked at her and raised a silent questioning eyebrow.
"Please don't leave just yet Mr. Hoang. We have a great deal to discuss. You can't possibly think that your recent actions wouldn't have some repercussions. You are far too astute to think this could all be neatly wrapped up."
That was interesting enough to get Bao to sit back down and give this young woman a closer look. It was impossible to tell if she was here on behalf of the wolves or the lab. He couldn't imagine that it was on behalf of Anantya. It was unlikely that the elders would send some one to meet him at a near deserted cafÃ© in the middle of the city.
"I'm not certain there has been anything neat about it."
As he'd decided not to blow her off she sat back and crossed her legs with a faint smile that belied just a touch of uneasiness. Despite his lack of expression, he had a rather intense gaze.
"You do have a gift for understatement."
"I would call it an objective assessment."
"Call it what you wish it makes no difference to me at all."
"Then perhaps you would be so good as to inform me what faction you represent."
Again she laughed, but it was quieter more subdued than the first. No one had told her Hoang had a sense of humor.
"That would be telling wouldn't it?"
Pulling out a slick shiny new iPad with a few quick taps Cecile pulled up some of her notes, and noted she had an email from her twin. Had he looked up the woman Hoang had been playing with already? Impressive. Typically he was the muscle but he did have wonderful research skills that were often over looked.
Sadly shaking her head she looked back up at Hoang.
"My my my you have cut quite a path through things haven't you? I'd be uneasy if I was in your shoes as well."
"I'm afraid I don't understand you Ms. Cooper."
No, he understood, far too well. But if the more she spoke the more clues she was apt to give him.
"Well then let's see if we can't clarify things a bit shall we Mr. Hoang? Reign Sorensen, Andrew Benally, Nikhila Gounder, who incidentally has changed her name to Stafford Hammerthynn you may want to update your files, and the one that was your undoing, ThÃ©rÃ¨se DuBois."
Bao raised an eyebrow at this presumptuous woman. If he didn't realize he was in a rather awkward and potentially difficult situation he was forced to admit she was just the sort he would be attracted to. She would make a rather tasty snack or a challenging evening out.
"A wonderful collection of names Ms. Cooper. Shall we play six degrees of separation? Nachton is a large city after all."
"Lawyers." She said with what seemed to Bao to be playful distaste and a roll of the eyes that was undoubtedly intended to be flirtatious. And under other circumstances it might have worked. "You will insist on everything being spelled out and in black and white."
"It does help to avoid any misunderstandings don't you agree?"
"Or it can be rather tiresome."
Bao refused to rise to the bait and sat silently waiting for Cecile to continue on with this little chat.
Oh, she'd known Hoang would be a tough nut to crack, while they'd never met she'd heard plenty about him and done her home work, but this was just plain frustrating. Still, she had all night.
Looking down at the tablet Cecile frowned in concentration, she did have difficulty with Asian names. Even Hoang's name had taken some work and this one she didn't have the advantage of hearing first, but she thought she'd acquitted herself admirably.
"How about Pakpao Metharom?"
It had been a gamble, but Cecile did like to play things a bit close to the edge. So often it helped get results and tonight seemed to be no difference. She had actually gotten a reaction out of Hoang. It wasn't much, he just sat up a little straighter, raised and eyebrow and leaned slightly forward. Very interesting. She was dying to know what Hoang's connection to this woman was. It would be worth researching more, and pretending she hadn't noticed the lawyer's interest she shot back a brief note to her twin to keep digging on this woman.
"I fail to see what your interest is in any or all of these people."
Impressive, his voice got colder and more impassive. She hadn't thought that was possible.
"Only that if anything should happen to one or all of them I think you just might be the first place anyone looked for answers and I doubt your maker can get you off the hook a second time."
She smiled sweetly actually enjoying herself. It was rather fun watching him process that threat. Watching him shift his weight and tighten some muscles, Cecile even thought she heard the chair push back a little bit, she could only assume he was actually consider attacking her. That would be nice, too often her jobs were so... civilized.
Bao wasn't at all surprised to realize he was feeling very protective of his youngest child. While he'd done a remarkably horrible job of turning Pakpao he had grown genuinely fond of her, in a way that he did not feel for his other 'children'. Recognizing that Pakpao had been more or less threatened Bao was quite relieved that Ms. Cooper had not mentioned Claire. It was very probable that he was in over his head right now and having two people to look after...
"You are remarkably well informed Ms. Cooper."
Although, she was very probably right. Bao was willing to bet he'd spent all his credit with Amir and he certainly hadn't had time to earn it back. If he caused many more waves he might be more of a liability than an asset to the clan as well, and that certainly would be detrimental to his health.
"You flatter me Mr. Hoang. I'm simply very thorough in my research... and friends with a little birdie or two."
"And why would I not simply alert any, or all, of these people to your presence?"
"Did you never read the story of the boy who cried wolf?
The woman paused and smiled a small sly smile as if she had a secret and an amusing one at that. Bao smothered his growing irritation with her.
"I'm not aware that I have raised any alarm of yet."
No, if he was guilty of anything it was of keeping too much to himself.
"True. Very true, but you're a clever man... I'm sure you can see the problems here."
"There might be a lack of trust where I am concerned all the way around."
But who ever she was, Ms. Cooper had under estimated his faith in Amir. His maker might not be happy with him but Bao wasn't going to make the same mistake twice, he would not keep this from Amir.
"That and you might not realize exactly how upset some people are with you."
That gave Bao pause. Had she just threatened Amir? He wasn't even sure what to make of that. It wasn't something that had ever happened in his experience.
It was possible that she'd need to look up Hoang's creator and learn a bit about this Amir Rashid and exactly how close the relationship was. Perhaps later she would have some day dreams about how close it might be, but right now was business.
"Some people have made it quite clear how upset they are."
"No, I'm afraid they haven't Mr. Hoang. You walked away with barley a scratch from a pack of wolves, they can't be through with you. You get to go home to your cozy little office every day and you've directly lead to the destruction of quite a bit of work, they can't be through with you either."
He didn't say anything, probably waiting to see if she tipped her hand in favor of the wolves or the lab was her guess. Cecile, however, was trying very hard to get him to jump at shadows and not play one specter bigger and badder than the other. As she turned over what she'd just said Cecile concluded she was very probably giving hints. It was time to leave.
Uncrossing her legs she very casually stood, but was still careful not to take her eyes off Hoang. He would be more than she could handle if he got boorish.
"I don't want to keep you any longer Mr. Hoang, I simply wanted to deliver a message. Have a pleasant evening."
Smiling sweetly she picked up her bag and left. The next errand would be her twin's, she'd promised him as much. And there was a weak piece on the board, that would probably be their next move but maybe not. They still had to wait for orders after all.
((OOC... she is gone))
Sitting contemplating the ocean again he considered the possible ramifications. He would have to research the lab further, perhaps there was more to it than he had thought or he had missed something. Regardless he didn't think it was worth coming after him, no that would be personal, a vendetta. This, however, get out of control. If Ms. Cooper indeed followed through on these threats, the worst possible outcome was war.
No, Amir was right, he had made quite a mess of things. Both wolf packs were involved and with Ms. Cooper having Pakpao's name now both clans had ties to this. There was simply no getting out of this, even though his maker had been subtly included in these threats he could not manage this by himself. If this were to get over his head...
His worst case scenario musings were interrupted when an attractive woman walked to the patio on which he was sitting. His fist thought was Ms. Cooper had returned, but that was quickly proven wrong this woman was much taller, and had dark hair. She was with someone and as she was speaking to them had her back to him. It wasn't until she turned to pull a chair out from one of the tables that he realized it was the curator.
Those green eyes immediately locked on his, all expression died from her face and she froze. They held each other's gaze for a very brief time, but it felt considerably longer. Could the wolves be behind this? In some way it was the most logical conclusion.
Whether they were or weren't Bao quickly decided that now was not the time or place to find out, or even press for answers. He nodded stiffly to the woman and left immediately, without a backwards glance and certainly without saying a word.
((OOC... Bao out as well and Therese with permission...))