Equal and Opposite Reaction (attn: Pakpao)
They had played at this cafe before. It wasn't his favorite location. The Manor, however, was out of the question, she refused to visit his townhouse and Pakpao had never extended an invitation to the Tower. Bao tried not to consider that, especially in light of the fact that she did openly welcome Ran there, not even smuggling Amir's blue haired and pierced child in or demanding that he dress more appropriately.
Bao didn't understand it at all, even without him she had learned class, poise and dignity yet she had not trouble throwing it all away and behaving in a very silly manner. For instance, tonight, he'd much rather be at the comfortable Grand Piazza where they typically had their chess games, but Pakpao had insisted on the waterfront. Although he didn't blame her, the nights were in that perfect middle ground between cool and sultry, the sound and smell of the ocean was both intoxicating and cathartic and Bao knew she missed that. What he objected to was arriving her and finding her playing with a remote controlled helicopter.
Sitting down quietly Bao nodded as she acknowledged him, and ordered coffee for himself and something cool for Pakpao. She was talking to herself, something he caught her doing once in a rare while, it was always in Thai and she always seemed to be talking to someone. It worried him slightly, but as she never had any visions or trouble telling reality from fantasy he dismissed it. He was forced to dismiss it really as she avoided the topic no matter how he brought it up to her.
The board was already set up and she soon brought the little craft in for a landing although as she sat down Pakpao almost immediately lit one of those clove cigarettes of hers. Bao raised one eyebrow in distaste but only smiled faintly and pretended to ignore him. It was something she'd done often. Would she have done the same if he'd not lost her, Bao wondered. It was very likely she would and she would probably enjoy doing so.
"Who's turn is it to go first?"
He asked. There was no greeting. They had progressed that far in their relationship, he could be that casual.
"Flip you for it?"
An impish grin followed her answer. Bao was fully aware that Pakpao was telekinetic and this had been her version of a joke more than once. It was difficult to catch her humor sometimes. Even on occasions when he did understand it, or even found it amusing, Bao simply didn't respond.
"You were here first. You may play white."
If only everything else had such a simple solution.
They bantered a bit, a very little bit Bao wasn't exactly into word games. Pak honestly would have though that a lawyer would be better with such things. Maybe if he'd had even the slightest hint of a sense of humor that would have been true. Pak didn't bother pressing the issue any longer, unless she wanted to annoy him, instead she just settled into the game.
Bao was an excellent player, she didn't always win, although she did more often than not. He waited a few moves before saying something. Pak didn't mind the silence, more often than not they didn't have much to talk about. They just didn't have much in common.
"I trust you've been well?"
His voice was smooth and mellow, undoubtedly it could sway a jury, but it was also a surprise to her. A pawn in her hand Pak looked up sharply, suspiciously and frowned before looking back at the board.
"Shouldn't I be?"
It was rather picking a fight, but Pak had learned that Bao usually had an agenda and she disliked waiting to find out what it was.
"Not unwell but perhaps a bit tired?"
Now that was an odd question. Granted Pak wasn't sleeping as much as she usually did, but she was hardly exhausted and she was spending enough time in bed.
Her son, who had become rather astute over the years, spoke up whispering to her that something was wrong. Mindful of Bao's presence Pak only nodded.
"And since when have you been interested in my physical well being?"
Times did change. Early in their relationship Pak would have thrown his botched turning of her in Bao's face. There was no longer any reason to do that. Although Pak didn't necessarily want anything from Bao she no longer sought to get back at him or alienate him. Honestly she was trying to build some kind of a bridge, failing probably, but trying.
"You've met more of our little family."
It wasn't an answer, but she would reach the appropriate conclusion. It wasn't the conversation Bao wanted to have and it was only a half truth. It was, however, the only answer he could give. He wasn't quite ready to admit he'd received a video of her out with a human, a man he didn't know but that he'd come to know was called Blaise Cooper.
The video had been very bland, nothing suggestive or threatening, but it made it very clear that someone was following his daughter. There had been no message at all just the video. Bao had tried to watch it again but it had gone away. He wasn't the most technological adept person but he was somewhat capable but nothing he did would recover the file nor could he trace the email address, or even reply to it. It was highly unsettling.
As the video was vague and there was no evidence and there was no real threat, only an implied one, Bao shifted the focus of the conversation to Ran. Undoubtedly this would not be much of an improvement he hoped to be able to manage it with some tact though. He was distracted enough that he almost missed Pakpao's reply.
"I thought you wanted me to be more involved with the family."
Bao almost smiled at that answer, it was collected, well balanced and rather neutral. Although he had no right, it made him proud.
"Yes, I was hoping you would. I'm not sure that I would have thought of our black sheep."
Although he did his best to sound casual and off hand and didn't take his eyes off the board as he said that, Bao could feel her bright blue eyes boring into him. He had failed to say this as neutrally as he would have liked, or at least she hadn't accepted it as neutral. Bao, however, was doing his best -not- to condemn the relationship. Knowing Pakpao she would only see more of Ran if he tried to discourage it, but it was difficult for him not to judge.
"Oh really?" She purred, a charming sound but one that he recognized as dangerous. "And why is that? Something wrong with him? Did Amir make a mistake?"
Pak was hard pressed not to laugh when Bao didn't answer her, she watched his jaw clench a little bit as he swallowed his irritation. She wondered how he did that. Pak knew if she suppressed her feelings as often and as aggressively as Bao did she'd have a mental break down. As much as she feared loosing control Pak did subscribe to theory that you had to let off a little steam every now and then. Even so, she almost envied Bao his control. That didn't mean she wouldn't test it of course, but she was impressed by it. When he did answer, even she couldn't tell his feathers had been ruffled. Bastard.
"Ran simply has a slightly different outlook."
"You know you didn't actually answer the question, right?"
Pak said as she took a long drag on her clove and half contemplated her next move.
"What you really mean though is he seems to like humans and has a sense of humor?"
She was all for cutting to the chase in this instance and was rather surprised when Bao followed suit.
"That and he has no sense of commitment."
Surprised, Pak inhaled the clove smoke wrong and coughed a few times. Thank god she didn't need to breath.
"What the hell 'dad'. Are you worried about who I'm screwing?!"
Pak couldn't even pretend the type of control Bao had totally mastered. She was insulted and shocked and totally blind sided by his comment. She was too shocked to be angry, that would come later, or maybe now. She wasn't sure yet.
"I don't want you hurt."
Bao said so quietly Pak almost didn't hear him through her own indignation. When it did process she snapped at him.
"We're making progress but -you- don't have any right to make that determination. You might not even get to be concerned about it."
With authority she placed her knight in such away that Bao's queen and a bishop were in mortal peril. She might not be able to take it out on him personally, but Pak would be more than happy to devastate his chess game.
It was somewhat frustrating how she made her point with the chess board, this wasn't the first time Pakpao had done such a thing. He was being forced to choose between saving his bishop or his queen and between trying to protect Pakpao and driving her off. Bao studied the board and realized there wasn't much of a choice, he had to save his queen. If he was going to protect Pakpao he had to do so from a distance, he couldn't alienate her.
Reluctantly Bao pulled his queen back.
"Perhaps you are right."
Pakpao looked up, apparently startled. He may not have apologized but he had agreed with her, as that was a rather uncommon occurrence he understood her expression.
Easily they both lapsed back into silence, contemplating the game.
His determination to remain vigilant but give Pakpao her space was almost immediately challenged. His phone chirped at him. Pakpao gave him a dirty look, but as it was her move he looked at the message. It was a video file and Bao's blood ran cold. Knowing what he would find Bao still opened the file. It was obviously from this evening, worse than that it had been taken outside the Towers, the one place Bao had assumed she would be safe.
The short video someone simply walking up to her and having a discussion, from the way she gestured Bao assumed Pakpao was giving directions. It ended with the simple message, 'He works for us.' It was very clear that she was being threatened.
Bao didn't know exactly who was doing the threatening, he had made a few enemies in his time. Of course those involved with the lab came easily to mind, it was his most recent misadventure and he hadn't forgotten his visit from Ms. Cooper. It could also be the wolves themselves. Bao suspected he'd gotten off quite lightly given his keeping of the curator.
Pakpao cleared her throat meaningfully calling his attention back to the game.
"It is your move."
"So it is."
He said as neutrally as possible, but did regard the board, at least for a second.
Although he knew what the result would be Bao handed Pakpao his phone.
"Would you look at that file for me please?"
Pak said simply as she took Bao's bishop. She really hadn't anticipated him listening to her, let alone agreeing with her. It was a little odd.
Ran hadn't ever spilled out exactly what he and Bao's relationship was, she just knew it wasn't great, rocky at best. It wasn't hard to understand why, the two men were so very different they probably didn't have a thing in common outside of Amir as their creator.
She studied Bao as his mind seemed to drift. There was no way to know what he was thinking about, his face was as impassive and unreadable as always. Seeing how different Bao and Ran both turned out with the same creator, Pak wondered if she'd be any different if Bao hadn't screwed up and left her to fend for herself. It was idle speculation, she would never know and that was fine. While there was a fair amount about herself and her life that could stand improving, there was a lot she liked and wouldn't change.
She had to wonder where his mind was though, it was the longest Pak had seen him space out. It was a little unnerving. Him handing her his phone was even more unusual. Frowning she took it, noting with some approval his choice. It looked like a video file, but when she pressed play nothing happened. Just old school static. There was a link too, she tried that. Nothing.
Bao looked at her, silently challenging her. Pak assumed this was some sort of secret crazy old vampire test. Well, she wasn't going to be beaten by what ever odd little game Bao was playing. She handed his phone back and swearing Pak pulled out her tablet, and typed the link in herself. She fiddled with this, and with that, pulled through a few tricks she could do with the tablet and nothing worked. About all she could tell was that the IP had been rerouted and bounced. She'd have to wait until she got home to do more.
"What the hell. There isn't anything. And who works for who? Why am I looking at this?â€
OK so she wasn't the best at being patent and waiting for more information, she couldn't help but pepper Bao with questions. His frown didn't encourage her, maybe this wasn't a test. Pak remember Amir saying something about her needing to be alert. But that was ages ago, Pak had assumed that whatever the problem was it had passed, after all neither Amir nor Bao had said anything since that meeting at Shades.
"I'm not sure.â€ Bao said quietly.
"That is not what I wanted to hear is it?â€
She countered. Bao didn't answer, he just moved another piece. The move was rather reckless, he left the queen wide open, vulnerable. Pak looked up with one eyebrow raised. Bao was apparently stealing her method of communication and, assuming she understood the message, she didn't like the answer.
Bao answered as Pakpao did the obvious thing and took his queen. He nodded significantly. She understood, there wasn't much room for misinterpretation though.
"Are you saying I'm that important to these people?â€
The answer was, no, she wasn't but she was that important to him. Bao didn't know why that was, he barley knew this 'child'. He couldn't even call her that without feeling like a hypocrite and yet these people knew she was a weakness they could exploit. He couldn't say that to Pakpao though.
"You're a valuable asset to any organization.â€
He said instead and was rewarded with a snort from Pakpao.
"You don't know who they are or what they want and they are stalking me and that's the best you've got?â€
She said accusatory. Bao knew better than to answer that question.
"Please be careful and alert.â€
I'm hearing that a lot these days.â€
"It is always a good practice.â€
It stung slightly that he could hear the quotes around the word dad but it was a barb he was getting used to and coming to expect.
"You need to expand your repertoire.â€
That made her laugh and Bao was startled by the sound. However, he couldn't even smile in return, he just raised an eyebrow.
"Send me a copy of that message please? I want to poke at it.â€
Bao sent it immediately but immediately afterward the game resumed. They played through two more of her cloves before Pakpao finally won. He was rather pleased to have held on that long given that he'd sacrificed his queen for no reason.
"I'd appreciate it if you didn't ell Ran, I've not briefed Amir about this yet and I'd prefer he not get half the story.â€
Surprisingly Pakpao agreed. Although Bao wondered how much he could trust that particular promise he didn't press and took it at face value. The board was packed up and there was no reason for him to detain her longer, if he did it would only further alarm her or press that fragile promise. Instead she confirmed their sparing session, they said their good byes and took their leave of each other. Bao could only hope that she could find something. Perhaps when he told Amir he should also tell Mara, she might be able to help as well.
((OOC... both out))