Perplexed (Attn: Amir)
The whole encounter with Ms. Cooper had been unsettling. That he had encountered the curator almost as soon as the blond had left had only exasperated the situation. Certainly that could have been a coincidence, but it could have been contrived as well.
Not willing to focus only on the wolves he'd tried to determine what, if anything, was left of the lab. That had been a challenge they had been quite thoroughly eliminated. The three small labs were just, gone. He had to admire who ever the mayor had working for him, it was quite efficient done as well as he or his staff could have done, possibly better. The people involved were harder to track, especially as vampires, especially older ones, were used to disappearing and reinventing themselves, it would take more time.
After reassuring himself that he was not over reacting Bao had sent a message to Amir that he would be at the Manor and in the library and would like to speak to him. He was slightly nervous about the meeting. Bao doubted that Amir trusted him, at least not completely and he doubted that this encounter would renew his maker's faith in him. What he had determined, however, was that to not disclose this, to try and manage it himself, would be an even greater mistake.
For now he sat quietly in one of the plush chairs reading. He'd been quite pleased to find a very early Chinese printing of Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The complexity of the work was enough to keep his mind for wandering too much while he waited for Amir. Although, it did wander slightly, perhaps he would call on Claire after meeting with Amir, providing their discussion went well.
Amir was very aware of it. However, for the moment Bao was safe at the Manor and had been keeping a low profile as promised. Amir, for his part, had been doing the same, which involved spending a great deal of time with Mara and Jin, something he couldn't complain about. There was still the lingering fear that he would be, somehow, in their way, though. So he took plenty of chances to leave them to their own devices.
What that meant was that he was slowly recovering himself from wherever he'd been for the past few thousand years. There were still some odd personality quirks he wasn't sure were his but he was still learning how to exist in his own head without Subira present.
He entered the Manor library quietly and found Bao. Sitting in the chair next to his child, he waited, legs crossed, for him to get his nose out of his book.
"Good evening Cha."
It felt odd to refer to Amir as his father. But no matter how stupid he'd been that relationship didn't change. This was still the vampire who had created him and taught him and it wasn't as if Amir had disowned him.
It felt wrong to just launch into his tale. Although, the experience qualified as a tale perhaps an anecdote, an aside, a footnote. Or perhaps it was foreshadowing. Still he didn't want to simply drop it on Amir.
"I do again wish to thank you for not throwing me to the wolves..."
"I did find myself rather overwhelmed. That should not have happened, none of it."
He held the book with his well manicured hands quietly in his lap. Despite the fact that he'd never picked up this particular book before tonight it still had a rather calming effect, it helped keep him focused.
"Did you really think I would?"
What in their long association would ever have led Bao to think Amir would do such a thing? Even while being thoroughly mind-fucked by Subira Amir had done his best to impart a sense of family values, as it were, to his children. He would never have thought in a million years that one of them would -not- take it for granted that Amir would come dig them out of a mess if he could. Even the twins, who were not as close to Amir as Bao or Mara, knew that Amir would come help them in times of need, without fail.
"No," Amir agreed. "It shouldn't have." He wasn't going to absolve Bao of wrongdoing - or stupid-doing, maybe that was a more appropriate term. But things happened... you dealt with them and you lived and you moved on.
He could, however, completely sympathize with the fact that sometimes dealing with it could take a while. He was the 'still dealing with issues' poster child, after all. He figured that might be what was on Bao's mind. So he waited, and let Bao speak his mind.
"No. I did not, but that did not mean I did not deserve to be left."
Nor would he abandon any of his offspring, not even Pakpao. Perhaps especially not his youngest given that she was very nearly defenseless. This was something he had learned from Amir and it was a lesson he had learned well and took very seriously.
That Amir so readily agreed with him didn't even sting. It was only the truth. At first his pride had been wounded. Ego could be a very fragile thing, he had thought he'd been in control. He'd thought he could manage one wolf. The realization that he couldn't had left Bao feeling vulnerable, discouraged, weak and incompetent. Having faced the truth of the matter though, he was over coming those feelings. Bao, however, had no desire to make this mistake again. Which was why they were here.
"Do you think, perhaps the matter was resolved too lightly?"
Perhaps he'd over looked something. After all the mayor was involved, he had quite a bit to lose if things were to become public. Bao was still trying to convince himself that he was over reacting. It had been one random encounter with one strange woman, that was all.
He sat back and crossed his arms, only indicating he'd heard Bao's next words with a slight raising of his eyebrows.
"You're sitting here in one piece after being taken captive by a Pack of very angry werewolves. Of course you got off lightly."
That he had developed a rapport with Vaughn was a mystery to Amir. He wasn't sure why the Mayor had seemed to trust him, except for the fact that, for the second time in his long life, Amir had actually endeavored to treat with the man respectably and honorably. He had figured both he and Bao were as good as dead anyway. Swallowing his pride as a last resort wasn't too big a step.
He looked at Bao with curiosity. "Why do you ask? Did something happen?"
Maybe it was Bao's attitude... Amir had no idea. There had to be something more to this line of questioning.
At least he had accurately assessed the situation. It did not, however, encourage him. One had to assume that if he and Amir both thought he'd gotten off lightly, others agreed. This led him to believe that Ms. Cooper was quite serious. No matter how he turned this over in his head, he kept coming back to that conclusion.
Frowning in concentration Bao paused for a moment and tried to frame his response, balance it so that it was not overly dramatic but not dismissive.
"I am not certain. I had an odd encounter the other evening. A young woman who seemed to know far too much about the situation and implied others thought the situation hadn't been satisfactorily resolved."
Certainly Amir would have more questions but Bao paused their wanting to gage his maker's reaction. Perhaps he had a different angle of attack, one he hadn't considered.
"That qualifies as 'something.' Continue," he said. He didn't respond with any more emotion than that. This was simply another obstacle in the road. They would confront it, deal with it, emerge victorious, and move on.
Because Bao seemed to have forgotten that Amir wanted particulars, not a vague overview, he prompted, "When is 'the other night,' exactly? Who was the woman? Who did she represent? What exactly did she say?"
He wanted details this time. When last he'd asked Bao about this particular business he had failed to get as involved as he should have, assuming Bao was capable of handling the situation. It hadn't turned out the way they had wanted. Amir didn't think Bao was incompetent by any means, but he did think Bao had overreached his bounds in that case.
He doubted Amir would know or remember that he was playing chess with Pakpao that evening. Although, perhaps he would his maker often seemed to know a great deal. As that did not seem relevant he left it out, he could add details later as needed.
"I was at a small cafe on the water front when she approached me. She said her name was Cecile Cooper but gave no other identification or affiliation. In fact, when asked specifically she declined to clarify who she was working for."
Bao frowned momentarily, the woman had seemed to enjoy the lack of clarity. She not only hadn't wanted him knowing who she was associated with but wanted him looking over his shoulder at every possibility.
"I'm afraid she wasn't terribly specific about anything. But she mentioned Dr. Gounder, the Sorensen woman, the curator..."
The other wolf was dismissed as Bao had never had any contact with him and after some research had dismissed the male as uninteresting and unrelated to anything. Certainly he couldn't be blamed for bad fortune that befell any wolf. He wasn't the boogie man after all.
"She rather blatantly stated that if any harm should come to any of these people I should be the prime suspect and she, 'doubt your maker can get you off the hook a second time'."
Those words had rather haunted Bao. That in and of it self was unsettling. Bao wasn't easily intimidated and didn't like the feeling at all. But he also was smart enough to know he couldn't be dismissive of this situation.
Carefully setting the book aside he did continue.
"You were also among her list of potential targets, as was Pakpao."
Perhaps it was the threat against his long estranged daughter that truly alerted Bao to possible magnitude of this problem. If Evenhet should be drug into this mess it could escalate exponentially.
"Was Pakpao still there?" he asked when Bao related what had happened. Amir had made it a point to know exactly where Bao went and with whom since his fiasco with Therese DuBois. He had multiple motives but mostly he'd been feeling very protective lately.
He scoffed at the notion that he couldn't get Bao off the hook. "Second time, my ass," he muttered. "Clearly she hasn't known you for the past twelve hundred years."
When Bao mentioned that this woman had threatened him, though, his lips curled up in a feral grin and he barked a short laugh not unlike that of his jackal counterpart. "Where can I find her, and the small army she plans to use to take me down? Because I've had a serious lack of real action in the past year or so."
The words may have been joking but his eyes glittered with an almost feverish light at the prospect. He would love to have a cozy little chat with Miss Cecile Cooper at her earliest convenience. He might wash the bloodstains off the floor afterward too... if he left any. Amir wasn't big on wasting blood.
"So what was the purpose of these so-called threats?" he finally asked. "Surely she didn't come to see you in person just to act all bad ass."
He quirked a brow up at Bao and awaited an answer.
Bao, however, wasn't certainly if Ms. Cooper had seen Pakpao at the cafe or if she'd found a link to the Siamese vampire some other way. And frankly, he wasn't certainly which was more unsettling.
Amir's comment took him off guard, not something that happened often, and started a laugh out of him. It was short lived but genuine. He didn't often get in over his head and need bailing out, or need his ass saved but he appreciated the sentiment.
"I suspect that last warning was more for me than an actual threat."
It hadn't been a bad card to play. Bao was still rather worried about Amir, not nearly as much as he had been after his encounter with Xephier's pack but a bit. And perhaps last year, or even six months ago, Bao wouldn't have said anything in an attempt to protect Amir, but having witnessed first hand his maker basically talking their way out of the clutches of the other pack had gone a long way to restoring his confidence in Amir's ability to handle anything.
"And she did not leave an address I could reach her at."
Of course, even if he knew where to find this woman Bao's instinct was that this went a bit deeper than one lone blond.
"She said that she'd only come to deliver a message. Apparently there are those that are less than pleased with the outcome regarding the curator and the project. I'm not certain who is unhappy, or how unhappy they are. It could be that they simply want me looking over my shoulder, or it could be they want to start something bigger. Truly, I know nothing further Cha. I can only speculate, but I felt it best you were aware of the matter as inconclusive as it currently is."
He wouldn't be letting the matter drop. Bao had spent a great deal of time since his meeting with Ms. Cooper trying to work out who she was and had come up with nothing. It could be empty threats, but it might not be. It was rather maddening.
"I need all the information you have on this Cooper woman," he said thoughtfully. "I need to know every detail you can remember. How tall, the color of her hair, what she wore, right down to the length of her fingernails and the scent she was wearing."
Amir didn't think he was asking for too much. Bao wasn't stupid; he had to have noticed those things and possibly more about the woman who'd accosted him. Amir had trained him to be observant. Surely, too, he knew more information about the company he himself had been working with.
"I need everything," he amended, in case that hadn't been clear. "Not just on her, now that I think of it, but on this company as well. Everything you have, get it to myself and a copy to Mara by the end of the night."
He pinned his dark gaze on Bao. "We're going to find her, and when we find her we'll issue a few ultimatums of our own."
"It will be mostly financial, some court cases and a list of board members, most of who never existed but I will have it to you by the end of the night."
Neatly footnoted with what was fictional versus factual. He would not, however, presume to tell Amir, or Mara for that matter, what was relevant or not. That was information they would determine for themselves, he would offer an opinion if asked of course but not volunteer it and cloud the matter with his biases.
He was nervous, uneasy and not at all happy with this. This never would have happened if he hadn't gotten involved. Oh certainly one of the scientists would have captured and held a wolf, perhaps alive, perhaps dead but it wouldn't have been like this. They wouldn't have been able to let that wolf roam 'free' and find away to call for help.
Oddly enough Amir's intense regard didn't phase him, it almost comforted him. Bao was certainly at least this time he'd done the right thing by bringing the matter right to his creator, not hiding it or minimizing it.
"I very much hope so Cha. Is there anything else I have not considered?"
He hesitated for a moment, but ultimatly concern won out.
"Should I caution Pakpao?"
It was quite possible Amir would say no, in fact Bao expected it. There was nothing specific to alert her to and undoubtedly Amir wouldn't want an untrained untried adolesent vampire involved in whatever this was. She wasn't even a member of the clan, but Bao still felt compelled to ask.
He had to go over some information. Then he wanted to find this Cecile woman, and question her. Hard. She was clearly a messenger, so someone else was calling the shots. Amir wanted to know who. Once he found out who, he wanted to convince them to leave his family out of it. Mess with wolves all they wanted, but not with his people involved.
When Bao asked if he should warn his daughter Amir raised an eyebrow at him. "Your actions have put her in danger. Why wouldn't you warn her? Do you want her to be unprepared for an attack of some sort? How badly did she beat you in your last chess game?"
Certainly Pakpao might be angry with Bao for endangering her. Amir knew her well enough, almost liked her, even, to be acquainted with her prickly nature. But to not tell her information that could help prepare her for danger? What kind of foolish decision was that? Bao had made the choice to be part of her life after so long - he couldn't do that halfway.
"It might be safer if I warn her," he suggested. He didn't mind doing it, although he thought it would be sort of a responsibility cop-out on Bao's part. "She and I haven't chatted in a while. She is family, after all."
Ah yes. Amir Rashid, proud grandfather - and he didn't look a day over twenty.
He admitted a little shamefacedly. The truth was that Bao hadn't mentioned word one about the wolves to Pakpao. For all he knew she wasn't aware of their existence. If she was aware of them he was equally certain she wouldn't approve of what he'd done to the curator or what the project was trying to accomplish. Putting one more hurdle in a relationship that was growing slowly, very slowly, didn't appeal to him. No, Bao would much rather protect her by keeping her totally ignorant.
It rather surprised him that Amir did want to warn her, surprised but pleased. He was also pleased that Amir was offering to do this for him.
"I should do it, I realize that but she might accept it better from you."
Knowing Pakpao she would defy him just for the sake of being difficult. As they didn't know where the danger was coming from it would be distressingly easy for her to talk right into it.
Bao cocked his head slightly curious about how Amir and Pakpao got along. Neither his maker or his daughter had ever spoken to him of the other.
"Whatever you think is best though. I will add I'm not certain she has any knowledge of werewolves."
He didn't bother to add she'd be less than pleased if she found out what he'd been doing. If Amir was going to help, he would not tie his maker's hands.
Bao opted to let Amir do the dirty work of informing Pakpao that, hi, how are you doing, and oh by the way, someone might try to break into your home and abduct you and/or murder you but don't let that stop you from having a great day, see you later. Amir simply accepted it and nodded. He'd offered, after all. He had Pak's number. He'd call her up and take her to Shades, maybe. It was safe for them there. He actually liked Bao's daughter. His granddaughter. Maybe she should meet great-grandpa Shades, formally. Now that would make for an interesting night out.
"And she doesn't need to know about them, if she doesn't already," Amir said, waving his hand. He hadn't intended to tell Pak every dirty detail. Bao could do that. Amir just wanted to give her a heads up, although, without knowing very much about this company or its employees, there was very little information he could give her about how to watch out for herself. Just to be diligent.
"Will that do for now?"
Deciding that it would, Amir stood and regarded Bao, waiting for an answer.
Bao took Amir's standing as a dismissal he also rose. There was work to do, especially if Amir was going to take on the minor errand of waring Pakpao.
"For now I believe it is."
There would probably be more once Amir had reviewed the paper work.
"I will get everything to you as soon as possible."
Although he had precious little to offer his maker at this point Bao hoped that he had at least gained back some of what he'd lost in this whole fiasco. He was trying to communicate and keep things from escalating to the point where they were darted and held hostage by a pack again.
"Thank you Cha."
He did not add anything to that, it was understood that if Amir needed anything he was at his maker's disposal. That was how it had been since the day Amir had turned him.
((OOC... Both out with permisson))