A Favor (Attn: Ran)
Several days had passed since he'd failed to assist Pakpao. Not only failed to assist her but put her into such a dangerous position in the first place. While Claire had helped some Bao was still more than slightly anxious and guilty about it. He had tried repeatedly to make contact with her without success. He'd even gone to The Piazza as usual for their standing chess game hoping that she would come, he'd sat there until nearly dawn waiting.
At this point, although certain she was physically well (undoubtedly Kem would have extracted some form of vengeance if she was not) Bao was desperate to know how she was holding up. He needed to know she was also mentally and psychologically well.
With Pakpao refusing to communicate Bao was looking for other options. As such he'd asked Ran to meet him at The Arch. As he sat carefully studying a Van Gogh, Wheat Field with Cypresses, Bao debated this course of action. He had not behaved well toward Ran, especially in regards to his relationship with Pakpao. His 'little brother' would be well within his rights to refuse to assist him, to laugh in his face and then flaunt his concerns to Pakpao.
Bao felt his emotions dip and swirl much like the brush strokes and colors of the painting. They blended and contrasted with each other, they were uneven yet organized and symbiotic, chaos and harmony all at the same time. Adding Ran into this mix would only further confuse them. To that end he wondered if perhaps he should have asked Mara for her assistance. While he was certain Mara was not pleased with how this had gone, she at least did not have a grudge to hold. At least he didn't think she did.
It was too late to change his mind at this point and for now, he would wait for Ran. Perhaps meeting him here was not the best idea. Still he had been very careful to ensure the curator was not there and it was one of his favorite places in Nachton. That may be one of the reasons he'd had such a hard time letting the she wolf go which, in turn, had undoubtedly leaded to the situation with Pakpao, which lead to him waiting now. Bao appreciated the irony in that.
At least, he reasoned, if Ran did not show up the evening would not be a total loss. He could enjoy the art.
He had very little idea why Bao would want to see or speak to him, other than it probably had something to do with Pak. She had called him a couple nights ago with a very interesting story, looking for companionship, which Ran was never opposed to providing. So they'd spent time together, she'd told him her story, he'd done his best to cheer her up but really, she was fine. There wasn't any lasting harm done and who among them didn't have a few stories to tell in their lifetimes?
When he spotted Bao he blended immediately, shifted to bird form, and flew silently to land on quiet bird feet in front of Bao. He shifted back, still blended, facing away from Bao and toward the painting, before dropping the blending and appearing out of nowhere in front of Bao, looking at the artwork.
"I've seen six-year-olds who could paint better," Ran said, mostly just to be annoying.
When Ran's next act was to bait him Bao sighed.
"Then you have known some extremely talented six year olds.â€
He said quietly, responding to the bait but not arguing or giving Ran any further ammunition. He didn't have it in him to give tit for tat tonight. Especially not when he was going to ask for a favor. He might no know how to curry favor with Ran, but he could at least behave himself.
"Thank you for coming. I will be honest with you and say it is not clan business.â€
He would be fair and give Ran the opportunity to turn him down flat. And then he would probably, if not beg, implore. For all they did not see eye to eye on a great many things Bao suspected the both had Pakpao's interests at heart. He hoped that would be enough to persuade Ran to help, if not him, Pakpao.
It was important enough to Bao that he was willing to set aside his pride. Ran could make sport of him as he chose, lord it over him even, but Bao would ask for help. Unlike asking Mara, or even Amir, Bao was not at all certain Ran would help him. He certainly would not offer any sympathy, nor did he deserve any.
He placed a loose fist on his cocked hip, tilting his head so his wildly spiked hair flopped only slightly to the side - it was too well-cemented in place to move much more.
"Sure whatever man," he said, intentionally flip. "What's the deal?"
He waited for Bao to cough it up; Ran wasn't going to ask. If his 'older brother' (right, whatever) wanted a favor he could ask nicely. Sometime tonight, preferably.
"I would appreciate it if you could help me with Pakpao.â€
Pausing Bao turned the situation over in his head trying to find a way to say this that didn't make him sound like a horrible person or too needy. It was a challenge and one Bao didn't chose to pursue. He would try being direct and see if that worked.
"I may have put her in a difficult spot recently... a dangerous position to be frank. I very much regret that. I wish to make it up to her and ensure that she is well. She will not, however, speak to me.â€
Nor would any one let him in the building or allow him access to the bastards who had done this to Pakpao. It was an extremely frustrating situation for Bao, he was unaccustomed to having his hands tied and being out maneuvered.
"Perhaps you would be willing to check on her for me?â€
Truthfully Bao was hoping Ran would put in a good word for him as well but he wasn't ready to admit that yet. He needed to know what Ran's reaction to this request before he pressed any further. It was a rather delicate request, to his mind, after all he had gone a bit over board in disapproving of the relationship. Now he was asking Ran to use that same relationship to help him.
"That's a hell of a favor," he said, without giving a yes or a no.
What to tell Bao? This was too good. If he really wanted to be a jerk he'd tell him the entire truth and rub it in hard. If he wanted to be nice, he'd be diplomatic.
Ran wasn't known for diplomacy.
"I've seen her already. She called me up looking to blow off some steam. We fucked like bunnies all day." He was frank, no arrogance. "She doesn't want to see you. She doesn't need you right now."
Ran shrugged. So, he had settled for a happy medium between sugar and spice. "Don't know what else you want me to do. Yeah. I've seen her. She's in good hands with her Clan and her friends."
Slight emphasis, just slight, on the word friends. Did Bao think he was Pak's only support or something? He snorted softly. "And honestly, if you thought I'd go running off to her because you asked me, well, I always gave you more credit than that but maybe I shouldn't have. She wanted company; I was available."
"I didn't think it would be that great an imposition."
He answered neutrally. That neutrality was threatened, ruffled, when Ran said he'd already seen Pakpao. He clenched his jaw and his fists uncertain how to feel. Pakpao was avoiding him but seeking, and he nearly gagged over the next word when applied to Ran, comfort from their family.
"Ah." He paused and thought things tthrough a bit. "I... might be glad."
It was with great effort Bao unbent enough to say that rather than something about sparing him the details. It was far more information than he wanted but it was better than Pakpao hiding from the world or crying in a corner.
"She does need me. I am the only one who understands this ssituation. I am the only one who can make them leave her alone."
Bao didn't shout but he was extremely adamant. Ran, like the rest didn't fully comprehend the situation or continuing risks. But he quickly got himself under control.
"I realize I have no right to ask anything of you, but she seems to trust you. I want to be there for her failing that I had hoped you would fill that void."
Ran was within his rights to chastise him and Bao did not protest or object. He couldn't make himself apologize but he could take the jabs without complaint.
He snorted at Bao's insistence. "You think you're the only one who can save her, that's on you. You have one of the best fucking Ancients of the Hunt around to help you out and you're an idiot if you don't bring him into it. There's no one and nothing that Amir and Mara can't track and neutralize."
Bao had family. No reason for him to whinge on and on about how only he could this and only he could that. Blah, blah, blah.
"You're just dumb enough to call for help from the wrong fucker. You know, the poor shit you abused with your high and mighty outrage until he decided not to tell you anything at all, yeah? Your bad."
Ran never claimed to be an angel. His mouth got him in plenty of trouble. So he happily continued. "I'm not filing any fucking void, least of all for you. I told you a while ago, she's my friend and she's my family and I'll stand for her. Don't go to bed all warm and fuzzy thinking I did you a favor. You never earned one."
He rolled neatly to his feet. "Anything else I can help you with?"
That was far more important that what passed for wit and righteous indignation from Ran. It was far easier and more acceptable to deal with Ran than it was to again run to Amir for help. Pride certainly went before a fall, but for now, Bao was willing to run that risk. He was not, however, willing to let Ran know that and so remained silent on the subject.
Sneering at Ran Bao also rose to his feet and invaded Ran's personal space. Ran might have three inches and ten pounds on him, he might even have an advantage when it came to his abilities, but Bao was not at all afraid of or intimidated by Ran, his outrage, or his blue hair.
"I was not asking for a favor for myself, but for her. I would have thought you of all people would be willing to help -her-. Apparently I was correct in my assessment, you are not good for her.â€
Any pretense or attempt Bao had made at being nice was vanishing. He wouldn't very much like to be in the dojo again and able to properly call Ran out on this. He was extreamly irritated that Ran couldn't, wouldn't see, that this was not about either of them but about Pakpao, that he wouldn't see that Bao was swallowing his pride and putting Pakpao's interest first. Ran was apparently incapable of doing such a thing putting his petty grudge before Pakpao's well being.
"I can only hope she sees that soon.â€
Taking a deep breath Bao checked his temper somewhat. He couldn't let this degenerate into a fight in the middle of The Arch. If they were to destroy one of the paintings Bao would never forgive himself and he suspected it might bring a pack of wolves down on them both.
"In fact there is. If your fragile ego does not object, I should like to know how she is physically, and emotionally and what happened to her. I know only some of it.â€
Bao needed details if he was going to make any attempt at resolving this situation and as Evenhet was not giving him access to Alfred's minions he was going to have to glean details second and third hand.
Then he realized he was justifying himself to Bao, of all people. He snapped his hips, flipped onto his feet, and jabbed a purple-painted fingernail at Bao. "I don't even know why I'm telling you any of this. She calls, I'll be there, and that's final. Fuck you for getting that much, because it's none of your goddamned business anyway."
He was sick of Bao prattling out the same question over and over again. Of course Ran would help Pak - if she wanted it. He wasn't about to force his company on her; they weren't even a real couple. Fuck buddies was about the best term for it, but if she wanted him around he'd be there. He wasn't so heartless as all that.
The rest of it, though, he simply flipped Bao off for. "Screw you. You want more personal details you can grovel at her tiny feet until she's ready to give them. I'm not your spy."
Hands once more propped on his hips, he tilted his head to see if Bao had anything else to say. He was just about done with his absurdity.
Everyone seemed to think Pakpao's well being was not his business. It was infuriating. There was some satisfaction in seeing Ran so agitated though. Bao rather enjoyed that and allowed a smile to ghost over his features.
He did believe Ran's rather angry and adimant words though, he would undoubtedly watch out for his daughter if she wanted it. Perhaps that was Bao's biggest concern, it was contingent on her wants and Pakpao could be quite stubborn and independent. What Bao truly wanted was for someone to stay close to her and protect her. Ran was someone she would accept.
Just as he was about to make another cutting remark in an attempt to shame Ran into action Bao recalled his conversation with Claire. He was trying to make contact to show Pakpao he cared but was irritating and possibly alienating her lover the way to do that? No. He would only either drive Ran away, or, Ran would drive a further wedge between he and Pakpao by reporting this meeting.
Ran was right. He was screwed.
Again came the ghost smile as Bao allowed himself to be a amused by Ran's outrage.
"You are right. They are tiny. I apologize for my... Presumption.
Dear lord he'd apologized to Ran. The world would end tomorrow or worse he'd institute a casual Friday dress code.
"You do not have to tell me anything, but you should possibly consider spending more time with her for a while, until this is resolved."
Bao studiously avoided calling it a favor or saying he would be in dented. It was clear that would only aggrivate the situation.
He didn't take advice well, usually. Conforming wasn't his forte, he thought that was fairly obvious. "I don't need to be told what to do. Not by you," he said, with less venom in his voice than before.
Truth be told, this whole drama thing had seemed like lots of fun when he'd started out with Pak but it was growing old pretty fast. Ran didn't regret anything they'd done, and he did like Pak. He didn't want to hurt her, but he was starting to feel like maybe they should be less 'fuck' and more 'buddies.'
Because it was almost not worth it with this level of 'Bao' in his life.
And, ugh, how nasty was that, that sleeping with Pak upped the level of Bao he had to tolerate? There was something very very wrong there.
Even though he sneered at Bao's little suggestion Ran knew he'd spend as much time with Pak as she wanted, no more. She was a big vampire with an entire Clan and plenty of other friends about. Why couldn't Bao see her that way? She wasn't a delicate, meek, wilting flower in need of Deadbeat Dad's loving protection.
"She has an entire Clan backing her up. She's good. Trust me, she's good."
He sighed. He would be the first to admit he was a mouthy jerk, but it was usually a lot more fun than this. Doing it with Bao, this way... man, it was just tiring.
"If we're done, I gotta go see a guy about a thing."
He arched a brow at Bao, giving him a chance to repeat himself again if he really felt he had to.
It seemed to Bao though, especially given Ran's reaction, that he may be making things worse. He was trying to help Pakpao but he might be hurting her. He might be driving Ran away. As much as Bao thought that was a good idea, it would undoubtedly only further alienate him from his daughter.
He really did need to work on his people skills. He needed to think though emotional and social consequence just as thoroughly as he did cases and precedents. Ran was right, they needed to walk away from this. More than that, he needed to stay away from both of them he needed to ignore the relationship. He may need to leave both Ran and Pak alone and to their own devices. He would continue trying to mend fences with Pak but Ran he would leave alone entirely. They had never exactly clicked. They could work together, especially where Amir was concerned, but they could not socialize.
"I have been told she will be well cared for by several people. I will try and believe it. Thank you for your time.â€
He didn't press for any more, there was no time like the present to start keeping his resolution.
"I hope your thing is successful. I think I will enjoy the exhibit a bit longer.â€
Bao felt extremely defeated by the whole situation and it was going down hill fast. He needed to get to Alfred's minions and then to Alfred. That was the only way to resolve any of this.
((OOC... out pending response))