A Night Out (attn: Pak)
Kem had heard of this place from several people, all of them vampires. He figured he should probably check it out at some point, not just because it was owned and run by an Ancient, but because apparently they played really good music. Pak had been here; she was one of the ones who'd mentioned it.
According to MARI the man who owned it was a very old Anantya who didn't maintain strong ties with his Clan, preferring to remain neutral to all. The territory he owned and controlled was also considered neutral; he didn't tolerate altercations of any sort, be they inter-species, interracial, or otherwise. There was also no biting allowed on the premises, something that intrigued Kem. A lot of vampire owned clubs had a reputation for being places to go specifically to bite and drink. Shades', however, was just the opposite.
He was surprised to find a line of people waiting to get in. He hadn't realized jazz was so popular. He was even more surprised when he was ushered to the front of the line and welcomed in with no questioning. Maybe being in his position had its perks. He was further surprised to see the man who could only be Shades himself, a huge black man dressed in gray and black. He stood several inches taller than Kem and weighed several hundred pounds more, muscle upon muscle upon more muscle. The man looked like a brick wall.
He smiled at the Elder. "Greetings, Kem'Raaisu. I was wondering how long it would take you to get here."
Kem paused at that. It wasn't surprising that the man knew his name or pronounced it in near perfect Egyptian. But the rest of his message had him turning his head curiously. "You expected me?"
"At some point," Shades said. "When you have questions, you can ask them any time. If I'm not out here, you may enter the back area. Until then, please enjoy your visit."
He indicated a door behind the bar that led to the back of the club. Kem, perplexed, just nodded his head. "Oh... okay. Thanks."
Shades nodded at him, gave him a wide smile, revealing big white teeth, and walked away. He was joined by an African woman, tall, willowy. They spoke briefly, heads close together. The woman leaned back, observed Kem with arched, interested eyebrows, and turned back to Shades with an 'ahh' sort of expression.
Kem just blinked a couple times and shook his head. He had no idea what had just happened. He'd heard that Shades didn't acknowledge different Clans, but perhaps that was just a rumor. If it wasn't, though, he couldn't figure out any reason why he should receive such a personal welcome. Maybe he'd ask Alfarinn what he knew. Later.
Tonight, he really was just here to meet with Pak and catch up with her some. Aishe was working, covering some time for Cris who was hopefully enjoying his first week of wedded bliss with Rowan somewhere in Europe. Switzerland, he thought. She'd catch up with them later. Until then she and Kem had kept up their usual running commentary.
[This is a pretty unusual place,] Kem sent to her. [I just got the strangest greeting.]
He told Aishe about it as he found an empty table, sat, and ordered a beer. She seemed curious, and through the bond he could feel her surprise and something else. Concern, maybe. That was a strange emotion to feel from her. This night just got stranger.
He sent to Pak next, perfectly capable of carrying on multiple conversations. [Running late? I'm here already, have a table toward the right as you come in. You were right about this place. It's kind of neat. Weird, but neat.]
After a moments pause she added,
[Weird? I really thought you got out more than I did it shouldn't be weird.]
Pak teased him just a little. Shades hadn't been Pak's first choice of places to take Kem. In fact, she'd offered to cook for him but that hadn't worked out for one reason or another. Personally Pak thought Kem was being chicken about her cooking skills. She had pointed out in no uncertain terms that no matter how badly she did she couldn't kill him, but he'd deferred until Aishe could join them.
Now, as she approached the club Pak was a little nervous. Mara and Amur both came here and she was still trying to honor the promise she'd made Mara when they first met, to keep Kem and Amir apart. This didn't seem like the best way to accomplish that. Kem saying the place was weird didn't help her at all.
Even with the line Pak didn't wait to get in. She never did, but she wasn't sure if it was because of family connections or if because she was, to all appearances, a young cute Asian woman. Pak had decided not to ask. Entering she saw Kem and waved but made a quick detour. Pak made it a point to pay her respects to great-great-great-granddad (she might be off a great or two there) every time she came in. Shades seemed to know everything, which didn't surprise Pak, and teased her a little bit about Ran. Trying not to take up too much of his time, Pak let the bartender, Matt, distract her.
He was a good looking guy and he tended to flirt with her now and then when she came in. Pak, of course, flirt back she wasn't a nun after all. But she didn't put any stock in his flattery and flirting, he was a bartender. In the course of their bantering, which didn't take long after all Kem was waiting, it came out that she was in a spicy mood. He took that as a queue and provided her with a drink that tasted of ginger and lime. Pak sipped it cautiously but found she quite liked it. She thanked Matt, on general principle left him a good tip, and even asked him to remember it for next time Before going over to Kem she said a quick but polite, goodbye to Gramps, as she called Shades, and picked her way back through the crowded club to the table Kem had.
"I wasn't late. There was a line. Apparently I'm loosing some of my appeal I didn't get right in."
Pak sulked playfully, not meaning a word of it, after all she hadn't really waited at all. Heck even the wait at the bar wasn't noticeable, more of it had to do with flirting than anything.
[Yeah weird,] Kem answered Pak. [There was a line but I got to bypass it. And I thought this Shades didn't recognize Clan leadership much. If at all. And then we had a strange conversation. But more on that later.]
They didn't need to pick it apart now. Kem didn't want to overanalyze it. It was entirely possible that other Elders before him had wanted to know more about the Ancient; Kem sure had about a billion questions of his own. Shades was probably used to it.
When Pak joined him, drink in hand, Kem nodded to her by way of greeting and used one long leg to push a chair out for her. "I should have told them I was meeting you here, maybe that would have gotten you the pass through the line too."
Well, it couldn't have been that long a wait if she already had a drink. Kem looked at the small stage, where a four-piece band was playing an easy swing. The floor was full, most of the dancers actually swinging. He recognized the dance even though it had been a long time since he'd done it.
"Nice place. You've been here a bunch?"
The smoky interior was dimly-lit and had a blue glow to it, red and orange here and there but mostly blue. The smoke had to be theatrical; no one in the actual club was smoking. It was cool.
"So how have you been? We haven't had a chance to sit down and gossip like teenagers for a while now."
Pak did her best to dismiss the situation. She deliberately -didn't- ask why she didn't wait in line, she might suspect but she never asked. It, however, wasn't her place to say what was going on. That, as far as she was concerned, was between Kem and Gramps.
They probably shouldn't have come here she thought suddenly.
His thought about getting her through the line was met with a shrug. Again, it wasn't her place to say and she wasn't going to give Kem any hinds.
"Don't worry I just flashed the bouncers."
If he didn't notice that he hadn't passed her and that she had followed him in rather closely Pak wasn't going to point it out. She might have tried to distract Kem with stories of her 'wild' behavior though. She did wonder, however, if that would work and if the bouncers would care at all.
"Not a bunch, a couple of times a month sometimes more. I like it here."
Even if she didn't dance much (but she did dance now and then), or talk much, it felt safe here and not just because of the club's reputation. It let Pak be around people but no one really asked too much of her. Pak had taken Mara's advice/hint and had gotten to know some of the people here, she'd even started to learn about jazz, which she'd only had a passing acquaintance with before.
"Is that big brother talk for 'do I need to beat someone up'?"
Pak flashed Kem a bright smile as she said that. She had been tuning out of their bond on a fairly regular basis, when she was with Ran. If they were just out, she stayed connected more often than not, if they were... yeah then she disappeared. Funny, with Blaise she never tuned out. But that really wasn't too terribly unusual, nothing to send off alarm bells or anything. -If- Kem was at all concerned it was just because he was Kem.
"Yes, yes it was," he said. "You've seemed," he paused, searching for the right word, "happier lately."
That, and judging by the number of times she had blocked out their bond, she and Ran were very, well, active when they spent the day together. Kem had gotten used to her presence in its little corner of his mind, so while he couldn't sense her emotions when she went silent, he could detect her absence. Given the number of blank spaces, he thought he might have to nominate Ran for an award of some sort. What the heck was he drinking, anyway? Blood and Red Bull?
"How about the other guy? I've heard - well, less about him. I'm guessing the blue spikes suited you just fine huh? Is it official? Do you have a boyfriend? Perish the thought!"
There had only been a few nights when he suspected Pak was with his (urk, it still felt odd to think), sibling. But a few nights, for Pak, was a pretty significant thing.
"Maybe just.... less edgy?"
That was about as delicate as she could put it. There was not nasty excess energy floating about, and she felt considerably more satisfied. Relaxed, that was the word. Pak decided to address that a little bit later.
"The other guy is all right. I like him well enough but there isn't any spark... and he's a human."
She wasn't opposed to falling for a human, but it was something that made Pak hold back. She'd been in love, madly passionately head over heels in love once, and it had been with a human. It hadn't ended well. It had been about a century and it still hurt to think about him now and then. If she decided to commit to another human it would be done very thoughtfully weighing it all out. Watching Eiryk and Alex's situation wasn't helping either. It was a very timely reminder that humans were fragile and mortal.
"Nice enough though. Sweet, polite an engineer cute accent. Don't tell me you're pulling for the other guy?!"
She gasped pretending to be shocked and appalled.
"Think I can do better than the blue hair do you?"
Thanks to their understanding, Pak had continued to see Blaise off and on. She wasn't quite sure why thought. Most men would have picked up on her lack of physical attraction and interest and let things go. Blaise, however, kept persisting. Not in a rude or obnoxious way but such that she did continue to go out with him for a drink or coffee, they'd gone to the Arch, he'd even taken her bowling but, for Pak, it had settled into a casual semi-professional friendship.
"No... no I'm still single."
It was a little awkward for her, clarifying her relationship with Ran to Kem. Pak wasn't ashamed by any means, it was a healthy thing as far as she was concerned, but some times you got a little embarrassed telling Kem. He was very much a brother to her and Pak didn't exactly flaunt her sex life with her family.
"Its just casual and enjoyable. It is just good to know everything still works."
She couldn't say that nothing had changed since the last time she'd gone to bed. Ran was very creative. But she thought it was safe to say she'd surprised him a little too.
Her update on her relationship status was about as brief as he'd expected it to be, but that was fine. He shook his head. "I'm not pulling for anyone, really. I was just curious. And what's wrong with dating a human?"
He'd done so. Granted, his human had discovered what he was and come storming the castle to join him in immortality. But now that he had her this way, Kem wouldn't change a thing. Well, okay, he'd be less of a prick about it if they had to repeat the process, ever. Some days he still had to wonder what Aishe saw in him worth keeping, but she was his now!
When Pak said everything still works he waved both hands at her. "Okay okay that's plenty of information."
It wasn't that Pak's relationships gave him a squicky feeling; it was that said relationship was with someone he might have known in a different life, but as it was, he could only feel awkward about. Still, he was curious. He had to ask.
"What's he like? He's not like... Amir?"
That name was hard to say. Kem had no great love for his Creator. He'd always thought if he ever met the guy he'd want to kill him. Or, at the very least he'd hate him. Now, having known him and heard his story through Aishe, Kem couldn't quite bring himself to hate the man but he didn't like him at all, either. Hate would have been a much more convenient feeling. Now he didn't have a nice compartment to tuck Amir into.
That would be rather messed up. People throwing guys at her and making bets which would stick around and which would be turned down. It was not at all appealing.
She shrugged at his question.
"Nothings wrong with it. And I know I'm jumping the gun, a few dates, even screwing around, doesn't mean eternal love or anything like that, but they are fragile. Comparatively speaking any way. I'm not sure I could care for one and lose one again."
She'd never told Kem about the one time she'd been in love. Never even mentioned Etienne's name but even those few words would be enough for Kem to understand. There were days Pak thought that Kem understood her better than she understood herself. It would have been extremely unsettling if it had been anyone other than Kem. With him, even before they had bonded, they had simply understood each other well enough that it saved sometimes painful explanations.
Giggling at his protests Pak polity refrained from saying any more.
Her giggle quickly dissolved into a frown when he mentioned Amir. It was terribly thin ice here, Pak actually liked Amir, they didn't always get along but she liked him as long as she forgot what he'd done to Kem. She didn't like Kem dwelling on Amir's existence either it was complicated.
"No... not at all. I sort of wonder how Amir puts up with him, or even wound up with him in the first place."
She did know a bit about how Ran had gotten hooked up with Amir and Mara but it was still astounding that he'd ingratiated himself to the point of being turned, of being family. He was so different.
"Honestly, I think you'd like him if you met him."
Pak wouldn't be opposed to them meeting either. She didn't -think- Mara would be either. Her only hesitation would be how much did Ran know about Kem and Mara and Amir. Even if Mara hadn't spelled it out for Ran, it was fairly obvious she and Kem were biologically related. People with their coloring didn't come along every day.
He smirked at her, unable to resist the gouge. He didn't feel guilty for teasing her; she teased him plenty and had thick enough skin to take it back. When they touched on the subject of loving humans, though, she explained why she didn't want to love one and he could understand, through their bond and through her words, that there was some sort of history there. He wouldn't pry; obviously there was something in her past that was painful, and Pak didn't always deal well with pain. Besides, why bring it up anyhow? She had her reasons for wanting (or not wanting) what she did.
Instead they maneuvered the conversation toward Ran, and his relationship with his and Kem's mutual Creator. In spite of his knee-jerk reaction at the mention of Amir's name, Kem was actually interested in what Pak knew about him, and his other siblings. He was aware that he couldn't continue to feel the way he felt about Amir indefinitely. He also suspected that it was time to let go of this grudge, and he really was trying. Maybe if Pak could help enlighten him, it would go a little way toward that goal.
Pak said she thought he'd like Ran and Kem nodded. "Hmm."
He sipped at his beer thoughtfully for a minute or so, refusing to respond, and then finally said, still watching the band on stage, "I guess I'm kind of interested in meeting him."
He'd never expressed any interest in meeting any of Amir's other vampires before. Pak's Creator Bao only got suspicion from Kem, and vague dislike, but that was because he knew the apple hadn't fallen far from the tree there. Bao had done to Pak what Amir had done to Kem, and Kem couldn't respect that.
"Has he ever made any other vampires and ditched them?" Kem tried to keep the bitterness from his voice and mostly succeeded.
She was hardly surprised he didn't say anything more about her reluctance to become romantically involved with a human. Pak knew better than to think Kem didn't care, but it really wasn't the time or the place for the conversation. More than that, he was sparing her having to deal with a rather tender subject. Pak promised herself that she'd tell him about it some day, even show him the portrait Etienne had painted.
When Kem admitted being interested in meeting Ran, she could even feel some curiosity from him, Pak became rather encouraged. Very cautiously encouraged she ventured.
"Maybe we'll run into each other some night."
Pak didn't want to set anything up, not without talking to Mara first to find out if she thought it was a good idea. In the mean time, if she met Ran some night and knew Kem was about it would probably just be suspicious to keep them separated.
Kem's question and the bitterness was hardly unexpected. They both had had an extremely rough go of it from the beginning. Father and son both failed, leaving she and Kem to their own devices, although both had done it for different reasons. Oddly enough, both had tried to care for the children she and Kem had been forced to leave behind, although it was a lot easier for Pak to accept how Bao had handled the matter than it would be for Kem.
"No... no nothing like that. He hasn't even turned any one."
Pak answered simply. It wasn't exactly defending Ran, just stating a fact. She'd actually asked him that question as a follow up to their conversation about Mina and familiars. Like everything else Ran seemed to be very honest and straight forward about his answer.
He nodded at her. "Yeah, maybe sometime in the future."
He certainly wasn't going to push the issue. He was already feeling kind of wishy-washy on the subject of meeting other vampires Amir had turned. It was a little bit of a relief, though, to hear that this Ran hadn't made any of his own. Or maybe not so much, if as Pak said he was a lot more sane than his hairstyle and fashion choices suggested.
He tried not to dwell on it, but really he was a little worried about Pak, too. For someone who'd been out of the dating game for so long he had to wonder if this group of people was really the right one for her. She was a grown woman though, capable of making her own decisions, and if her experiences with their mutual ancestors was more positive than his, well, Kem wasn't too old to learn a lesson or two himself, he didn't think.
"Sorry," he said, apologizing for his bitter comment about Ran turning someone and ditching them. "It should be enough for me that you guys get along so well. And it is, really."
Then he thought of something else, something that hadn't even crossed his mind before. "Does he know about me?"
There was a question. Did Amir talk about him to others? What would he say? Oh yeah, that guy. We had a thing back in 410 or so but I'm so over it.
Through their shared bond she could feel a little bit of worry and and tried to send back some confidence. There really was no way to reassure Kem that this was just fine. She had faith in Ran and Mara, even in Bao and Amir. Neither she or Kem had come into this family willingly or even under what could -remotely- be called good circumstances. Pak had taken a leap of faith by getting to know them, it was paying off.
"I promise if he so much as stands me up or is late for a date you can slide bamboo slivers under his fingernails or something."
Ran probably wouldn't appreciate her being quite so glib with his his personal well being. But then again all he had to do to keep from being abused was call and tell her if he wasn't going to make it. Simple enough. Besides, she was only half serious.
Pak sipped at her drink and found herself frowning again. That was an interesting question. Hell she could only assume he knew about she and Bao and Pak didn't have any idea how much Ran might know. It was a cinch Bao wouldn't have told him, but Mara might have tipped him off.
"If you mean that you exist and that we're friends, yes he knows. Anything else... I don't know. I don't think it is something that..." Pak almost said Amir but hesitated for a second and avoided the name, "is advertised."
That had felt terrible. She'd more or less lied to Kem. The odds were -very- good that Ran did know about Kem and exactly who he was. Unfortunately she hadn't withdrawn from the bond. Undoubtedly Kem had felt something, he just probably wouldn't know exactly what had her worried or upset.
"Thank you," he said, pleased by the attentive service. That was slightly unusual in a busy club like this, but he'd been told by several sources that this place wasn't your typical club and that was quickly becoming apparent.
When Pak told her that Ran knew about him, he felt something odd in the bond between them. Tension. Stress. He took it as a sign that they should change the topic. He was clearly on edge about it, and that was feeding onto Pak, who didn't deserve his baggage when she was just trying to enjoy a casual, friendly relationship. Who she saw was her business, not his, and he felt bad for being a jerk about it.
"Hey, I'm sorry," he said, smiling at her while he reeled his emotions back in. "It shouldn't be such a touchy subject with me anyway, right? I'll get over it, but you shouldn't worry. Ran sounds like a good guy. If we ever bump into each other, it might be a good thing."
He watched the crowds on the dance floor and smiled. "Want to dance? Come on."
Kem wasn't going to give Pak too much choice. Usually when they hung out they sat and talked, joked around, chatted for a while. They had never actually joined the crowd dancing before, but it might be fun. Like many his age, Kem could dance. They'd lived through long days when dancing was THE entertainment. There were no video games, no phones, no computers. It was more unusual to find an older vampire who couldn't dance than to find one who could. Besides, Aishe was a big fan of ballroom dance, her mother having insisted she learn it, so he'd been dusted off and spun out long ago. He wouldn't embarrass Pak here.
Pak said honestly. It meant a lot that he cared enough to worry, to want things to go well or at least keep her from getting hurt. That, to Pak, felt right and natural. It was something she was still surprised by now and then. She'd gone from totally alone, to an island in the clan existing solo within Evenhets protection, to having a family.
Kem and Aishe had given her more strength than either of them could ever known. Oddly enough it was that confidence that had allowed her to connect with the family that she might have had if Bao hadn't been such a moron. It was that family that was putting Kem on edge. It was a really bizarre circle.... spiral they were all traveling down.
Impulsively she leaned over and kissed Kem on the cheek.
"He is a good guy. I'd like him even if he weren't... so much fun." She danced playfully around the physical aspect of the relationship. "He's not like the others two, I love you for caring and if it gets super creepy for you, we'll sort it out."
There it was, black and white, any relationship Pak might get involved with was subject to his approval. It was weird but true. Not that she was out looking for an arranged marriage or anything, she just wouldn't turn her back on her family.
A nagging voice told her that was going to get tricky with family on two sides of her, but Pak ignored that.
Instead, she burst out laughing.
"You want to dance?"
She wasn't a pro but Pak could find her way around a dance floor. She'd never had lessons but she did have experience, the best she could manage was capable beginner and didn't doubt Kem could do at least that well. It was just a surprise. If nothing else, she wasn't Aishe.
"Sure why not, let's try it."
Hopping offer her chair Pak waited for Kem. This couldn't possibly end well, every time she tried to dance in the past few years, strange things had happened.
Besides, the atmosphere here was fun and relaxed. He saw people on the floor who were incredibly good, spinning, twirling, flipping, but also some who obviously didn't know what swing dance was and were just sort of bouncing along to it. Kem fell somewhere in the middle himself. He could swing, he wasn't going to be winning any medals any time soon, but he did know some steps. It was so freestyle, though, it didn't matter.
He pulled Pak along and then tugged her into a little twirl when they hit the floor. The music was lively but not fast like a jitterbug. "Don't tell me you never danced at a jazz club in the past century," he muttered at her. "I wouldn't believe it in a million years."
He knew Pak hadn't exactly been living under a rock her whole life. This was actually the exact sort of place he could envision her in the 30's, smoking a clove, with a sequiny dress on, looking all pissed off and exotic.
"Technically, as this is the 21st century..."
Pak was about to say that she had indeed not danced at a club like this in this century, but she was forced to ruefully concede she had.
"OK yeah but just this one this century. Damned it I hate it when you're right."
Pak grumbled in a good natured manner. She and Ran hadn't come here together, although it was possible if not probably he'd been on his own. Rule about no biting or no Pak hadn't brought Blaise here, she liked having this place to herself. But she had danced her once or twice, sometimes someone she knew some times it was just a guy who asked but she had danced.
"If you are feeling daring we might be able to manage an air-step or two."
Although not an expert she did know -how- to do them. The rest of it was depending on vampire strength. She wouldn't need to help Kem as much, he'd just be able to toss her.
She dared him to lift her and he grinned. "Are you kidding? Daring is my middle name. I'm a thrill-seeker, I can't help it. I like to live life on the edge. Yesterday I rode the elevator all the way to the penthouse... twice."
He swung her around and then lifted her up, caught her in his other arm and did a little spin while holding her, then set her back on her feet again. No need to dress it up; he sure wasn't going to drop her but he was no Shorty George. They danced around for the remainder of the song, just having fun. That was what this was all about, anyhow. He didn't have to push Pak for information any more than she wanted to give; he'd offered to meet Ran and that was a big step for him. If she wanted to introduce them he'd be civil. Friendly, even!
When the song ended with a cymbal clash he hugged her tight. "See? It wasn't so bad was it? Are your toes unbroken? Do you need another drink? Five?"
The dance did her good though. Kem startled her into a laugh and she simply rolled with things. There was no worrying about 'what ifs' and 'whens' and 'how' and 'who' she just danced. She didn't even stress about having to switch clans if Kem totally flipped out and she had to hide.
Pak hugged Kem aback, laughing again.
"I think that is the first time in Nachton I've danced without losing at least a heel or needing therapy."
That wasn't quite true, there had been a couple of dances without incident. Although, she had hidden her shoes on at least one occasion.
"I do think another drink might be in order."
But Pak wasn't exactly in a hurry to leave the floor, that had been more fun than she'd remembered. Still, they could dance again before they left no need to rush.
"Next time we have one of these little gab sessions I'm going to have something more interesting. Maybe I'll find a third guy and bring him into the fold. I can start my own personal harem. You can interview them first and I'll find a bigger place..."
Pak mused doing her best to look serious but having trouble not laughing at the idea.
He laughed at the idea of Pak starting a harem as they headed back to their table. "Now that I'd like to see," he said. "You and your harem. You'd need a bigger car, too."
He liked that they were getting back to their usual give and take banter. That was where they were the most comfortable; poking each other and being poked in return.
"Oh I'll interview them all right. What kinds of questions do you want me to include?"
He sat back in his chair once they reached their table, surprised to see that fresh drinks had been delivered very recently. This place - there was something about it. He ignored it, though, and continued on.
"Were you a boy scout?" Kem asked some fictitious interviewee in mid-air in front of him. "Yes? Then you're comfortable with knots? Mm-hmm." He checked off something on an imaginary list and moved to the next phantom man. "And you, it says here you like cats. What do you like them with? Carrots and peas? A nice white wine?"
He glanced up at Pak and grinned.
Pak asked blinking wide eyed and innocent.
"Who said I'm letting any of them out of the building?â€
It really was funny. Pak knew full well that she had trouble opening herself up to anyone and wasn't exactly quick to trust. The idea of a having that many men at her beck and call was absurd. But, at the same time, it was fun to think about. It wasn't even an attempt to squick Kem out, there was no way he thought she was serious.
Sitting back down she laughed into her drink as Kem listed his interview questions.
"Knotts?!â€ She squeaked in mock protest. "What kind of girl do you think I am?â€
Of course Kem had also given her something of an opening too. You had to love a friend that you could go from completely serious to completely flip with all in one breath. If Kem hadn't tripped over her screwdriver all those years ago Pak was fairly certain she'd have a completely different life, a half-life really. No one had been able to draw her out like he had. She wondered if she'd done him any good or just been a drain. Even if it was the latter, he was just going to have to deal with that.
"Have you been reading Fifty Shades of Gray or just Silence of the Lambs? Do I need to warn Aishe or did she start this little obsession of yours?â€
Pak smiled smugly rather contentedly waiting for Kem's counter to her teasing.
When she acted indignant about the knots, Kem arched a brow at her. "I think you're a creative sort of gal," he said, and left it at that.
She accused him of having rather - particular tastes and he affected a wide-eyed innocent look. "So... wrong questions? You think I should use a different survey? I could ask other things. And what Aishe and I do at home is going to stay at home."
Dropping the act, he laughed again. "I'm just getting warmed up, too. Really, though, I'm happy that you're happy."