Oh and By the Way (invite only)
Amir entered Shades' through the back door. Although he didn't work there, the members of Shades' immediate family were all fairly familiar faces and had access to all areas of the building. Amir alone did not have an apartment upstairs, but had used Mara's in times of need. Hopefully those times were done for the immediate future, but who could say. Amir's job was always dangerous.
From the side hall he emerged into the smoky club with its dim blue glow. He slunk along the shadows, unnoticed by many but not Shades. Amir felt his gaze through the tinted glasses that were his namesake and turned to acknowledge his predecessor. Shades excused himself from behind the bar and came over.
"You look like you could use a drink," he said mildly.
Amir glanced at the big man and considered. "Maybe," he said, nodding. How was it that Shades always managed to make him feel like a little boy? Was it the height?
Shades nodded, gesturing Amir over to the bar with his chin. Amir followed, acknowledging the greetings of the people who worked in the bar as he made his way easily through the crowd. Even though this wasn't the place he came most often he was still recognized. More as Mara's hapless dance partner, he suspected, than as Shades' grandson.
He sat at a bar stool at the end of the bar, away from the other patrons there. Shades filled a glass and handed it to him, and Amir sipped it. Then he raised an eyebrow at Shades. "Coke?"
The big man grinned at him, white teeth flashing in his face. "Come on, son, everyone knows you're too young to drink alcohol."
Amir almost scowled at him but the expression didn't quite make it out. He paused, looked down at the drink, and then chuckled softly. He held the glass out to Shades. "No cherries?"
"They're not for everyone," Shades said. He did bring Amir two cherries, though, tossing them into the glass. Amir nodded and sipped the soda through the straw while Shades watched him. Finally the dark man spoke again. "You look better."
His voice was soft but Amir could hear it just fine even with the energetic swing playing. Amir nodded at Shades. "I feel better."
Shades smiled. "Where's my kitten tonight?"
Amir was about to answer when he was attacked from behind.
She waited until he was seated at the bar holding a drink before she walked up behind him and wrapped her arms around his neck. Standing on the rung of the bar stool she leaned down and, when he turned, kissed him thoroughly. When she pulled away she took a sip of his drink then reached over and stole a cherry. impaling it on a delicate little fang before flashing Amir a cheeky grin and making it disappear.
"No chocolate milk?" she asked playfully, glancing at Shades, who was clearly teasing Amir with the soft drink.
"No, that was for you," replied the old vampire. He handed her a glass of creamy brown milk and smiled as she claimed a bar stool of her own. "Will Jin be joining you tonight?"
Mara gave a soft sigh. "I don't know yet," she said. Jin did have a job, after all, and as Acting Elder of the Night he did not have as much time to spare as Mara or Amir. She wanted him there, of course. She never felt more complete than when both Jin and Amir were present, but she did enjoy the alone time she got with each of them in turn, and was even careful to make sure they had time to spend with each other as well.
"Pakpao will be here though," she said. She turned to the doors to look for her friend. Then she looked at Amir. "Will you dance with us both?"
He sighed and looked at the dance floor before draining half of his soda as if to fortify himself.
Pak liked Amir, but she -hated- what had happened to Kem, which in turn made her feel guilty about liking Amir. It was like she was somehow being disloyal to her adoptive brother and that wasn't something she'd do under any circumstances. So going out with his maker and his daughter, a daughter he didn't know was still alive, was awkward to say the least. Pak was very careful to withdraw from the bond she and Kem shared, just in case. Some day, when this all came out, and she was certain it would, it had to, Pak just hoped Kem would forgive her, maybe even understand.
While Pak had been to Shades a few times here and there, she was hardly a regular. Still, she knew Shades allowed smoking, the simple act of pulling out a clove and lighting up as she walked from the car to the club helped her stow her mixed feelings, at least for now, and concentrate on the moment. Entering she stubbed out her half smoked cigarette and took a quick skim for Mara and/or Amir. It didn't take long to find them, they were cute together, although Pak didn't think she'd ever be able to pull of a flower in her hair... ever. It was funny how the right clothes could make Amir look grown up, almost, and was very briefly thankful she at least looked like she was out of high school, although they did still card her most places.
Her thick dark hair was loosely twisted up into a knot with a little bit cascading from it down her back. As the summer head was still lingering, she wore a sleeveless black shift dress with a tie waist, but Pak's favorite part of the dress was the little bit of color blocking, the bottom of the skirt popped in a vibrant purple she'd paired that with some black booties with extremely high heels, the heels were gold. They were a new purchase and she loved them.
Hesitant to interrupt the two of them in what could be an intimate moment Pak waited until she caught an eye and waived. Once certain she wouldn't be intruding she easily wove her way thought the people milling about and found a spot at the bar.
"Couldn't be satisfied with just one date could you?"
It was said it with a perfectly straight face and just the right quirk to her eyebrow, it wasn't meant seriously. Pak didn't bother to specify who she was directing that comment too either, the teasing applied to them equally as far as she was concerned.
"I should warn you now I'm not a cheap date, no matter what you might have heard."
When informed she was not a cheap date Amir quirked up an eyebrow of his own at her. "No problem," he said, as Shades slid a tall glass of a foaming beverage toward Pak. How come she got alcohol and he and Mara didn't? Bloody favoritism, was what that was. He didn't mention to her that he'd never paid for a drink at Shades' in the entire history of the club's presence in Nachton. None of Shades' family members did. Benefits of bloodlines, and such. He doubted Pakpao was aware of her relation to the big black man behind the bar. They should probably touch on that at some point tonight.
No time like the present.
"Glad you could make it," Amir said. How did one broach the topic of vampiric bloodlines anyway? He indicated Shades with his chin. "Have you met Shades? Did you know you're related? He's my Creator's Creator. That makes him, what, your great great grandpa? That's adorable."
He took a drink of his soda and plucked the second cherry from it, munching on it contentedly while he watched Pakpao for a response.
Of course, all suavity went by the wayside as Amir rather flippantly introduced Pakpao to Shades as a family member. She saw Shades roll his eyes, and then extend a huge hand to Pakpao.
"A pleasure," he said. "We would have gotten to it eventually."
Mara nodded at Pakpao. "You couldn't be part of a better family," she said. She knew Pakpao would understand that she meant her own father as well. Not her Creator, but the father she'd known as a child. If only he could be here with them. It was something else she had to discuss with Pak at some point. She would be here in Nachton indefinitely, and the odds of running into Kiamhaat were exponentially higher than they'd ever been. He should know she was here. She wanted to be with him again.
Some times one was more than enough, or two was too many. Not that she was currently having either problem especially as Henri had returned to France. Rather a pity but one could hardly expect him to stick around forever, and she was fine with it.
"He probably could pull it off, most nights... if he worked at it."
It was easy enough to follow along with Mara's teasing mood as she accepted the offered drink. It was some what surprising to have it just appear without having asked for it, but she wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Not that the drink ever got to -her- mouth as Amir decided to preform introductions.
Pak looked up at the near giant and did her best not to stare. Of course she'd seen him, it was his place and she'd had an idea that he wasn't young but she hadn't even considered they might have a connection. She blinked for a second before automatically extending her hand, it was quite swallowed by his.
"Nice to meet you too. I hadn't expected a family reunion..."
While a bit startled Mara did reassure her, Pak half wondered what she'd missed out on by being left on the side of the road and then being driven off. How would things have been different if she'd learned from her creator rather than learning on the fly?
"It is a tree with some interesting branches to say the least."
If only she knew just who and what Shades was. Amir found it amusing.
He noted that Mara had slid her bar stool a bit closer to him, making it quite easy to slip his arm around her small waist, and he did. It was something he'd done many many times, out of affection, because they were dancing, for a hundred different reasons but never, until recently, just because he wanted to feel her there. Now if only Jin were on his other side.
"Look, Pak, I asked you to come here because we haven't seen you in a while but also because I wanted to let you know Bao was in a little trouble recently."
Amir gave a soft sigh. Bao should really be giving this warning, not him. He thought it would be better to cut to the chase, though, get the serious business out of the way. Otherwise Pak would just wonder what she was doing here; she was too canny to think they were all just hanging out for funsies.
"I don't have very many details yet; just that he angered a few people with some of the work he was doing. I know you'll find that hard to believe." His lips twisted up wryly at the young vampire.
"I don't believe you personally are in any immediate danger and I know you have a strong Clan to protect you. I just wanted you to know. Look out for yourself. Keep your friends around you, just in case."
As briefly as he could he described Cecile and told Pak most of what he knew about her; the relevant facts anyhow. Why not? If nothing else maybe she'd do some research on the woman too and come up with something they'd missed, although with both Jin and Mara on it that was doubtful.
He hoped she would understand that their jobs were dangerous. Even if Bao hadn't been a dumbass about this, there would be occasions when her affiliation with any of them might draw negative attention. She should probably get used to it.
Amir left out the fact that the work Bao was doing was not for his Clan. Bad enough Bao already knew he'd fucked up. They didn't need to make matters difficult for him when he was just figuring out how to mend this relationship with Pakpao. He just left it at that- some work gone awry.
Amir's arm around her waist was good. Mara had waited so long to feel that embrace, she didn't think she'd ever shy away from it. She slid her own hand beneath the dark jacket Amir wore and hugged him back while she drank her chocolate milk. She didn't have anything to add to what Amir said until he had finished. She understood that Amir was trying to help Bao save face, and she thought she might be able to add a word for her brother.
"It happens," she said apologetically. Amir wouldn't apologize; not for this. Hardly for anything, ever. It wasn't his manner. "We all work for our Clan, and it's not always safe work."
True, although Bao hadn't been working for his Clan. A lie of omission. "You must know how it is."
Maybe Pak did, maybe she didn't. One of her dearest friends was now leading his Clan and Mara doubted that Kiamhaat was kept in a bubble somewhere, out of danger. The idea made her cringe a little. He should be tucked safely away in his archive. He loved it there.
She watched Mara and Amir and how easy they were with each other and felt a tiny nibble of jealousy. As that was something she felt around any number of happy couples and so she ignored the tiny green monster easily, out of long practice. Although, now that she'd over come her long -long- dry spell and discovered she still knew how sex worked Pak was starting to wonder if she was ready for a relationship. It was a ghost of an idea, not anything she was going to obsess over.
Sipping at her drink Pak listened to Amir lay out the situation. Her expression never flickered.
"Really... why am I totally unsurprised? How stupid was he?"
OK that was unkind and she was actually a little worried. But given her first encounter with her maker and her first hand experience regarding how extremely callous and aggressive he could be, she couldn't resist the jab. It was one she would have dearly loved to thrust at Bao personally though.
The news that she might be in danger because of his actions, that made her raise her eyebrows.
"He is dragging me into this and he doesn't even have the decency to tell me himself? And how the hell would this Cooper woman know who I am any way?"
Pak couldn't decide between sending a really sharply worded email, trashing him at the chess board or trying to crash all of his firm's computers to express exactly how pissed off she was that he would hide behind Amir. Maybe she'd just go with a classic and reset all the clocks she could access remotely.
Mara's more sympathetic approach to the situation soothed her somewhat.
"I should have thought lawyering for the clan would be as safe as what I do. Hard to piss people off to the point they want to take out your family from a corner office. But he does have talent doesn't he?"
There was more to this and either Amir and Mara didn't know or they weren't telling. Well fine, Pak would just hunt around on her own in her spare time/
"But you don't think either of us need to invest in body guards, stop going out to hunt, make a safe room and jump any time someone asks for directions?"
She deliberately included Bao in that question. Pak wanted to know how much danger he was in as well.
"Is there anything I can do to help?"
Not that she was quite willing to stick her neck out for him, but she'd do something, maybe not anything, but something, if they needed.
His brows rose as Pakpao further suggested that lawyers could not possibly do anything to anger anyone. "Have you been living in a cave?" He asked baldly. "How many lawyers do you know who haven't pissed anyone off in the course of their tiny little human careers? Bao has had centuries to perfect the art of being a lawyer. Therefore, he probably has more enemies than the rest of the Clan combined."
What was in that clove she was smoking? Lawyering for a vampire Clan was probably just as dangerous as poking at werewolves with sharp sticks. Not to mention Bao was more than a little adept at fraudulent document forging and ID theft. Oh yes, he had all the tools at his disposal to get everyone pissed off.
Irritated now, Amir rolled his eyes and snorted at Pak. "No. If I thought you needed that kind of security I wouldn't be sitting here on my ass. Somebody's head would be rolling."
Amir was security, damn it. That was what he did. And would be doing, as soon as he had enough information to go on. For the moment he simply attempted to calm himself down. It wasn't Pakpao's fault... but she didn't have to continually suggest Bao was incompetent. She had had a while, now, to either come to terms with Bao and accept him, or reject him. Amir felt the same way about that as he did about the chip on Kiamhaat's shoulder. Some things, it was time to get over and move along with.
She intervened before anyone could get too cranky; Mara hated arguments. "We don't know a lot yet," she said. "I'm working on it. With Jin. We will let you know everything we find."
She tried to offer Pak some reassurance with a soft smile. Amir wasn't trying to get under Pak's skin, he was just defending Bao. He always had; he didn't abandon any of his children no matter what the reason. No matter what they'd done.
Aha. There was the caring... the little bit of it, anyway, as Pak asked if she could help. Mara squeezed her arm around Amir's side, continuing the conversation herself while he managed to look peeved while sucking soda from a glass through a bendy straw. Very fierce.
"No, Pak," she said. "If there is we'll let you know. But we wanted you to be alert. Not paranoid. Just alert. Hopefully this will resolve quickly." She nodded her head at Amir. "He won't let it go until he gets to the bottom of it. Now wait here just a moment, okay?"
She turned to Amir, pulled him from his bar stool, and removed his glass from his hand, setting it down on the counter. "We'll be right back."
She hauled Amir to the dance floor, wrapped her arms around him, and pressed herself close. Tilting her head up she murmured into his ear, "Try not to frighten her off, merit."
He glanced down at her, moving with her automatically. "I'm not trying to," he said, "but she should be happy he thought about her. I'm not going to tiptoe around her delicate feelings. She's a big girl."
Mara sighed, and danced. In a minute or two of sensual swing, Amir might be more inclined to be a team player.
Fortunately Pak had learned some self discipline over the years, some on her own and some from Bao. Even more important than that was her subterfuge, it was one hell of a wall and once up no one could tell what was going on in her head. (Well one or two people but they were people she was extremely close to and they had a tendency to know how she reacted to things.)
Having let Amir finish she was opening her mouth to say something about, 'being so pleased the violence could solve all their problems' but Mara spoke up. That was fortunate, undoubtedly Pak could find a way to make this worse and really she didn't want to do that.
"Constant vigilance and all that?"
She asked her voice carefully neutral doing her best not to remember they found Mad Eye in his own damned trunk, a hostage while his DoppelgÃ¤nger wreaked havoc.
"I can manage that, thank you for the heads up."
Pak was going to excuse herself then and there but Mara had asked her to wait. She didn't want to, not really. Especially when the couple excused themselves to start dancing. But it was possible Mara would be smoothing ruffled feathers and it was be exceptionally poor manners to run off after they'd taken the time to alert her to this... whatever it was.
Turning her back on the dance floor she fidgeted with her drink and pondered what kind of trouble Bao could have gotten into and who would go to the trouble of figuring out she was a person of interest. Seriously, she was no one, had nothing to do with anything Anantya did and shouldn't be a consideration. Bao must have pissed some one off royal.
For now though she just sighed, lit another clover and waited to see what else needed to be said.
Turned to see irritation on Pakpao's face. Blue eyes stormy, like a frenzied soprano sax solo. Lots of issues there.
"They mean well. Don't take it personally. Life's too short."
Flashed a grin, white teeth in a dark face, acknowledging the irony. Shrugged his shoulders, crossed arms over his massive chest. "Just get lost in the music. Can't be mad there."
Anyone with their hearing could have heard their conversation. Soft swing music floated by, carrying echoes of soothing rhythms Pakpao needed to pay attention to. Soak them up, hear the colors, just relax. Nodded, head tilting to the music.
"You should come here more often. It would be good for you."
((ooc: Have a chat with great-great grandpa! Skipping Amir and Mara for now. I know it's short but he's technically an NPC so there's not a lot of internal chatter!))
"I know. If I thought different I wouldn't be here."
That much was true. While her feelings regarding Bao were still complicated, she didn't hate him or even fear him the way she had; heck se even rather liked him, most days any way. The long and the short of it was, had either of the three of them needed something she would have at least considered the request and even if she was somewhat grouchy about this thing with Bao Pak didn't appreciate being jumped all over.
Not being terribly musical she shook her head slightly at the idea of getting lost in the music.
"If I got lost in there I'd never find my way out."
But she did let go for a minute trying to follow his advice. It wasn't really working, but she tried. She could feel the mood of the music sense it was almost tying a story and trying to take her somewhere else but body, mind and mood stayed firmly anchored in the real world. Although, some of the rough edges of her mood might have been worn down every so slightly.
The deep mellow voice broke the tenuous spell the music had cast and Pak half snorted half laughed.
"Eating my greens is good for me too Gramps but I haven't done that in ages..."
He eyes gleamed and one corner of her mouth twitched upwards in some semblance of a grin. She was teasing him. Pak, however, also understood it had been something of an invitation and capitulated a bit.
"But I have to admit this is nicer than eating my greens. I might take you up on that bit of advice."
Laughed at the notion of never finding your way out of the music. "That's not a bad thing." And it wasn't.
Cheeky little vampire, wasn't she. Been called 'Gramps' plenty of times before but he didn't appear that old. Word got around, maybe. Been around the block a few times, for sure. Few blocks, really. Well what could you do.
Not a whole lot to be said about her eating habits; she was joking. She seemed to be calming down a little if looks were any indicator. Turned to see Amaret and Amir holding each other, about time really, sixteen hundred years of foreplay kind of excessive, really. Looked around for Jin Han but didn't see him. Unusual, the three of them had become like magnets. Maybe he'd be by later.
"You need a room here, place to stay, something to drink aside from what's in that glass, you tell me. We'll take care of you." Looked at Amir. "Trust him. He'll take care of you too. Makes waves, that one. But he's got potential. For a youngster."
Pak queried lightly, half teasing half serious. She had to wonder about her great granddaddy, she'd heard a rumor here and there of course, nothing concrete though. Amir said he was his creator's creator so she could only imagine how old the man was. But she had a feeling he was serious, every one wound up here sooner or later.
His words made her blink though. As cynical she was Pak could recognize sincerity when she heard it. Apparently Shades took family seriously. She was barley related to him and had only recently been, well for lack of a better word, found.
She said quietly still a little surprised at the offer.
Pak didn't look back at the dance floor, she knew who Shades was talking about.
"Well I don't think he'll hurt me..."
Not physically and not deliberatly any way. He probably didn't even really mean to tick her off right then either. Well, she hadn't quite meant to piss him off either, maybe she could play nicer too.
((OOC... Sorry about the spelling and format. Reduced to my phone for a tag.))
"All right. I'll play nice," he said. Then he pulled away and glanced down at her. "For now. But if she keeps up with the attitude I'm going to school her."
Mara shook her head at him, but she went along with him as they left the dance floor. Shades was saying something to Pakpao but he laughed and left as they approached again. Amir raised an eyebrow at his grand-sire, but Shades wasn't inclined to let either Amir or Mara in on the joke.
Amir took his seat at the bar again and picked up his soda. Sipping at it, he looked at Pakpao. "Bao really did think about you first," he said offhandedly. It wasn't an apology, because Amir didn't apologize. Besides, he had nothing to apologize for. He had told her the cut and dry truth and nothing more.
Amir did his best to soothe any remaining injured feelings Pak might have, although Mara too wondered if or when the woman would ever accept Bao. He certainly had been trying to make amends, and it had been long enough that Pak should realize the effort was genuine. If she didn't want to have anything to do with him she should say so, but to keep punishing him would just be petty. How long did you hold a grudge, anyhow?
She sought lighter conversation, since they had said what needed to be said, really. She looked back at the dance floor. "Do you like to dance, Pak?"
They'd never really discussed it, although she knew she'd told Pak she enjoyed it herself at one point.
"Nice of him, but he worries too much. I won't go looking for trouble, but I doubt it will find me."
She would take the alert, Pak couldn't call it a warning, to heart and she acknowledged it but she wasn't going to freak out, worry or hide under her bed. She might mention it to Kem and Aishe though, just in case something freaky happened people would know.
Mara's question, almost a non-sequitur, OK it was a non-sequitur, startled Pak enough to get her to laugh. She shook her head.
"I don't get to do it very often and don't claim to be graceful, but I enjoy it yes."
Either way he shrugged and nodded at Pak. She had been warned; whether she took the warning for what it was or not was all on her. Amir couldn't do anything more than that. Should Bao have come and talked to her himself? Maybe. But it was what it was; now she knew there was potential danger. There was no one to blame. Things like this just happened to them all at one point or another. It would happen to Pak, too, unless she lived under a rock.
He shot Mara a glance when Pakpao wasn't looking. Surely Mara wouldn't expect Amir to dance with Pak. Amir didn't do requests. The number of dance partners he was interested in currently numbered two, and he wasn't looking for a third.
She didn't mention it, though, and for that he was grateful. He couldn't imagine anything much more awkward.
"Is it the music you like, then? Do you play at all?"
Pak seemed comfortable enough here; Mara didn't read that she was terribly eager to leave now that she and Amir had come to some sort of peaceable arrangement. "You should hear Shades play, if you haven't already."
She had caught Amir's look and was inwardly amused; she might be a dance addict herself but she wasn't going to force Amir to dance with anyone but her. She'd waited long enough for him to partner her in more ways than just one. Having finally gotten what she wanted, she was hardly going to send him off to dance with someone else.
"Aside from this though," she drew a little circle indicating the three of them and the reason they'd met here, "how are you? How is..." she glanced at Amir. "How is Kiamhaat?"
It was the first time she had mentioned her father with Amir here. She wouldn't have done it before but things were different now. She wasn't sure how he'd react, but maybe it was time to find out.