Just Dropping By
Eiryk couldn't be more pleased with Pak's apartment. From the warmth of the medium toned hardwood to the faint golden beige of the walls that reminded them both of the beach to the amazingly comfortable mid-century modern seating upholstered in a very modern charcoal grey to the hand knotted rugs in some of Pak's favorite colors (and that for one harrowing week Eiryk thought he might have to smuggle into the country) to the Sixteenth and nineteen century French touches in the foyer and end tables among other places, and the Asian flare, the balance of earth, air, fire water and metal, cold stone and warm wood he'd really never done better (with the possible exception of the apartment he and Alex shared). It was all about a welcoming balance, and Pak for all her taciturn hermit like ways was not only tidy but carefully preserved that sense of welcome.
She actually was one of the best people he knew and he was pleased to be able to call her a friend. He knew damned well she wouldn't let many people call her that. Eiryk knew without a doubt Pak would do anything for the few people she considered friends. He wasn't 100% sure Alex knew that or that she considered Alex a friend, hell he wasn't sure Rue and Cris understood that, he knew Kem and Aishe did though. Of course that was Pak for you, although she was opening up a bit in recent years she was still relatively quiet and shy. To that end when they'd first met he'd rather gone out of his way to make her his friend rather than wait for Pak to make up her mind about him. She might, on occasion, complain about him adopting her but he'd learned to see through that and was even a little flattered she'd bitch at him like that.
Of course all that was neither here nor there as she proceeded to kick his ass in Mario Kart. Certainly it wasn't the most modern or up to date game but it was a great deal of fun to play, well it would be if she hadn't been carrying a blue shell around for the whole of the last lap and let it loose -just- as he finally passed her.
He let loose a minor tirade of profanity in an odd combination of Danish Latin and Swedish.
"You could have just won. You didn't have to be mean about it you know."
He pouted momentarily before scrolling through the tracks and finally settling one one he knew Pak hated. Oh he hated it too but at least they'd be equally miserable, well... maybe not equally.
Feeling rather proud of herself for winning that last round she took a second to watch his fox and her cat play. Pak never could get over how easily Thora scaled Mongkut's cat tree. You really wouldn't expect that from an animal that looked so much like a small dog.
She snorted at his comment.
"I wasn't being mean, I was prepared after all you did pass me. Being mean is hitting you with three red shells without giving you a chance to recover."
It was an evil move and one Pak excelled at, a few of there other friends were also quite good at it and Pak knew first hand how frustrating it could be.
"Not the god damned volcano. You know I hate that thing."
Eiryk just smiled in a rather smug self satisfied way that gave Pak a bit of a sinking feeling. She obligingly groaned.
"You've been practicing haven't you?"
He didn't even turn to look at her, his smile just widened slightly.
"Yes. Yes I have."
And then the virtual flag dropped, they were off and it was every man for themselves
Eiryk had been contributing to Pak's self defense lessons and he usually retaliated for a loss like this in the gym. It was something she'd developed an interest in a few years ago. Honestly he'd had no idea she had absolutely no idea about any kind of martial art. Most vampires had -some- kind of experience even if it was just bar room brawls, but not Pak. It was shocking and he'd had to wonder how she'd gotten along for so long that way. She wasn't any good with an axe but her hand to hand was getting better and oddly enough she had a bit of a knack with sword and shield. It was odd but he just went with it and encouraged her to get lessons from who ever had time.
He'd yet to meet her creator, the man who'd apparently inspired this interest and based on her reactions, Eiryk no longer even hinted at the idea. It had been interesting to learn they were both from Anantya stock though. Of course, it appeared her relationship with Bao was -very- different from his with Angus. Friend or not, Pak still kept a lot to herself. Honestly Eiryk was a little surprised she'd opened up as much as she had and all he knew was the man's name and his clan. He had no idea how Pak had gone from Anantya to Evenhet, and he was extremely curious... Well they had time he'd just get more information when Pak decided to share more.
He was having to focus rather intently on the course, not as much as Pak, but enough. Still, noticing he was markedly ahead Eiryk decided he could afford to try and distract Pak just a little.
"You seem to be getting out and about more than usual. Anyone I should know?"
His voice took on a sly teasing tone as he clearly insinuated she might be seeing someone. Although she didn't tell him everything, he wasn't Kem after all, Eiryk knew she'd actually given up her nun like habits, put a dent in them at any rate.
"Ummmm any time next week should be fine."
Her practices with Bao could get very aggressive and Pak was oddly self conscious about how rough and how much she'd had to regenerate or heal after a serious workout with him, Rowan knew a bit though. Never mind that she'd gotten in similar spots with any of her tutors, Pak half tried to shield if not hide Bao and what he did. She always put a few days between Bao and anyone else. But, Eiryk nodded and she knew he'd schedule something.
The course was taking far too much of her attention and Eiryk was pulling away like mad. Honestly Pak would be happy to just finish at this rate. In fact she was distracted enough that Eiryk's question didn't quite register. It was more the tone that caught her attention and made her process what he'd said. She rolled her eyes at him.
"Haven't you been married long enough to stop trying to turn everyone into a happy couple?"
Pak grumped at him, but it didn't discourage Eiryk at all. She could see his broad smile out of the corner of her eye. It irritated her, but in a comfortable reassuring way. That Eiryk, or any of her friends, saw through her occasionally brusque exterior and just smiled and wanted her around made Pak happy and feel wanted, secure even, and actually made her less prone to being snarly.
"Actually, I have..."
He had too. Honestly it hadn't been much of a phase, it had really just applied to Rue and his pirate brother had set himself up far better than Eiryk could have hoped for.
"But you are a special case."
Pak's put upon groan was music to his ears and Eiryk couldn't help but laugh.
"I am -so- taking that as a "yes"."
He said cheerfully before making an outraged sound as Pak found some kind of Wii mojo and started making a serious attempt at not only taking him out but winning. For a few minutes all attention was given to the race and somehow he managed to eek out a win.
"Now do tell."
Eiryk insisted as he reached for his glass, frowning slightly when he realized it was empty... and the bottle too. But even as he thought about being disappointed he saw the bottles in Pak's wine rack were twisting around so she could get a look at the labels. She apparently found the one she wanted and it floated over, catching the attention of both animals.
Thora particularly, neither he nor Alex had telekinesis and so this was very odd to her. She followed it with her fine nose twitching even poking it once and sat looking expectantly at him when he accepted the bottle.
[It is just mead we have it at home.]
Eiryk explained but she insisted on sniffing it before losing interest and choosing to occupy herself with a puzzle toy instead.
"Oh this is one of mine!"
He said sounding pleased and flattered.
"Who else's would it be?"
"Well one of my new ones."
He clarified with a shrug. It was another tea inspiration, orange and star anise.
"I like it. It is good for winter, but I like the jasmine more."
That was high praise from Pak, for both of them. Eiryk beamed as he poured them both a glass.
"Noted. Now.... About this guy."
Accepting the refilled glass she debated just not answering. If she was evasive long enough Eiryk would give up. He did respect her privacy, he just tend to push a bit and even that was with the best of intentions making sure she knew he cared and was interested and was willing to listen.
Tonight, Pak made a face at him and let Eiryk persuade her. She might not have a few nights ago but as she'd already had a chance to talk to Kem and Aishe and it didn't feel as raw so Pak answered.
"You have rotten timing you know that?"
When Eiryk's eyebrows shot up his forehead, clearly surprised by her statement she felt a bad.
"Oh really? Am I interrupting?"
He inquired, still teasing. Pak smiled a little sadly and shook her head.
"No, you're fine. Your timing... just... well we just called it off a few nights ago."
Pak hid behind her subterfuge a lot, even when she didn't she had a tendency to be rather stoic. It was often hard or impossible to tell how she was feeling and Eiryk knew she could be rather sensitive. So he didn't wait for any kind of sign that she needed or even wanted the hug, he just held her tight.
"Oh Pak, I'm sorry. I didn't know. Are you ok? Do you want to talk about it?"
He was a little tiny bit surprised Pak hugged him back. She wasn't overly touchy feely but Eiryk had started to notice she seemed to enjoy the occasional hug or touch even if she had trouble initiating them.
After a long moment she sighed, nodded and sat back up. Eiryk looked at her extra hard and decided she did look well. He scowled momentarily, Pak was intelligent, beautiful and a good person he was less than happy someone had hurt his friend.
"I didn't realize it had gotten far enough to be called off. What happened?"
"I'm fine really. It was rather mutual and I think we both saw it coming."
Not that she had a lot of experience with break ups but Pak was fairly certain this was as good as the got. Sure it stung a little, she was a little upset about losing the relationship but she was certain they'd still be friends, Guillaume thought so too. Pak had also talked it out with Kem and Aishe and they'd really perked her up a lot. Still there was a little lingering regret, any kind of rejection hurt. It was sweet of her friends to care.
"Six months or so."
Pak said, still a little stunned she'd had a relationship of any length at all. It seemed to take everyone who knew her aback, at least a bit.
"You'd actually probably like him."
She continued as she leaned over to put a hand on Eiryk's knee. She hadn't missed his expression and wanted to reassure him, this was a little rough but it wasn't bad, it wasn't tragic. It might even be good for her. Pak wasn't sure about that but it was something she'd heard from either her brother or his wife and was trying to believe it.
"What happened? Well... sort of a combination of biology and wanting different things I guess."
Eiryk exclaimed involuntarily somewhere between shocked and hurt Pak had kept him in the dark for so long. This was old school Pak, clam up and keep it to herself Pak. She'd been getting better, opening up a bit more. Eiryk worried a little. What about this relationship had kept Pak from saying anything?
Perversely Eiryk now wanted to meet this man. He very much wanted to know what was wrong with the man. Eiryk doubted he was abusive, he simply couldn't see Pak putting up with that. Even if she did he didn't think there would be any way she could hide it from Kem and Eiryk -knew- Kem wouldn't stand for something like that. So drug dealer? Boring accountant? From another clan?
Oh that could be it. Pak would certainly be circumspect about dating an Anantya. Probably doubly so given her creator. Tacharan? He really couldn't even wrap his mind around that idea. But it would be a logical reason for Pak to keep him half hidden.
Just as Eiryk was concocting a Evenhet and Tacharan version of the Montagues and Capulets Pak mentioned biology. That ruled out dating a vampire.
"He... knows? Did you tell him?"
Pak had nothing at all against humans, not as a whole anyway, but Eiryk just couldn't see her taking one into her confidence unless there was no other choice. He didn't do it often. So rarely in fact that he'd badly bungled telling Alex. That was rather an epic tale and Eiryk still considered himself lucky their relationship had survived his stupid mistake.
Pak pointed out with no malice. She knew Eiryk had been getting a new business up and running. They'd all gone to the grand opening and she'd even gone to a class after all.
Kem she would have, and occasionally did, pester and nag and make a nuisance of herself when she wanted some kind of attention or had something to talk about. Eiryk she tended to be more subtle and restrained with, probably as she and Kem were closer she was more confident about how much she could push. Poor Kem. Pak did her best to send him a big hug through their bond, a quiet random thank you for all he put up with from her.
Pak bit her lip and thought about where the conversation was probably going to go. She didn't mind telling her side of things in the slightest but she had no right to out Navid as a werewolf. Granted she'd told Kem but that had more to do with his status as an elder than anything. If she was directly asked Pak would tell Eiryk but she doubted she'd be asked.
"No, I didn't. He figured it out on his own. He actually knows a reasonable amount about vampires. I'm not the first or only one he knows."
That had been something of a surprise to Pak and a bit of a relief as well. It meant a lot less hiding and considerably fewer excuses.
"Never too busy for you gumman. You know that. Just knock me upside the head."
Eiryk said with a grin. Then thought about what he said and who he said it to.
He clarified. Pak might have a bit of a well earned reputation for being a touch... assertive. She probably would have been a good viking or at least handy in a raid.
Eiryk did his best to keep his eyes from bugging out of his head. You didn't find humans who knew about vampires just every day, even less so if they weren't affiliated with a clan. We're they back to him being part of a clan? A familiar? Ugh. He was going to get a headache if he kept trying to stay ahead of this story. Of course he wouldn't mind letting his wonderful husband cosset him a bit and make him feel better if he did get a headache.
"You realize I need more information here. Is he part of the clan? You're too smart to be dating someone else's familiar."
"I'm glad I get at least that much credit."
Not that she ever would have thought to ask someone if they were a familiar. Hell until she knew they were a vampire she wouldn't think to ask them about clan affiliations. It was kind of a niche conversation and for the most part didn't lead itself to direct questions.
"No he's not a familiar, a vampire or anything to do with a clan. In fact, I didn't ask how he first found out but it meant I didn't have to make excuses about my hours. I did get stuck at his place a couple of times though..."
That had been awkward, especially the first time trying to explain herself to the couple that he shared a living space with. Oddly enough meeting Kioyshi and Evan might have given her a bit of false hope. Seeing a vampire and a werewolf in a relationship had encouraged Pak and kept her from thinking about how many issues they would have. Still she wished the other couple well and hoped they could continue to make it work.
"At least he knew I wasn't being clingy or overstaying my welcome."
She said with a shrug trying to pretend it didn't matter.
"I love you too."
He said as he rolled his eyes at Pak's little outburst, and it was a little outburst.
That was not at all a satisfying answer. He desperately wanted more information. Unbounded, unaffiliated humans in the know, that were willing to keep the secret were rare animals and stumbling on them in the wild was more than a little unusual. But he recognized Pak's response as an attempt to protect this man and to distract him. He might muse it over with Alex and/or Kem and Aishe later. For now, Eiryk gave Pak the out and cheerfully pounced on the information he was supposed to.
"Oh really? Got in the habit of spending the day did we? How did that work out for you?"
Pak could be a little restrained and reserved about sex. In fact she could be down right prudish. It had puzzled Eiryk in the beginning of their relationship. She had, however, a few years ago reluctantly (while slightly intoxicated) let him in on some of her early history including that she'd been a prostitute. She still seemed to think people were going to judge her for that. As such Eiryk was careful to keep her secret and was a bit more cautious about how he teased her about men. This time though, she'd opened the door.
Funny she'd met two of her best friends by being flattened by both of them. Kem and that screwdriver and there was no telling what set Eiryk off but they'd wound up in a heap in Ex Libris. Fortunately, the owner hadn't been in or Pak doubted either of them would have been allowed back and she did love that book store. Thank goodness most of her other friends had been made under more conventional circumstances. Vampire or not Pak didn't think she would survive too many more of those types of meetings.
Fortunately Eiryk was distracted by the obvious. Pak obligingly got a little huffy, he'd be expecting it, but answered.
"Not a habit but once in awhile. We'd get... involved... and the next thing you know... sunrise."
Eiryk just looked at her expectantly, like she was supposed to give details. He knew better but he was pretty obviously hoping.
"I made him breakfast!"
She said defensively. Those cooking classes with Ran and Mara had paid off more often than she would have thought. She was even able to lend a semi competent hand with some of Alex's meals, on the rare occasion he needed one, although Pak still thought he was a much better and more adventurous cook.
Oh, maybe she should ask Ran out soon. Pak put a pin in that idea but it sounded like a good one. Her blue haired uncle was enjoyable company on many levels.
Eiryk was still looking at her quietly and sincerely apparently trying to will more from her.
"It was good and that was not the problem."
He couldn't help but laugh at her "juicy details", they were sadly lacking. It didn't matter he hadn't wanted or expected any more, it was more fun to keep it light and tease her. At least Pak had acknowledged she got some action. That was enough for him.
Eiryk shook his head.
"I still can't believe you took a cooking class. That is so... well I wouldn't have predicted it."
And he still didn't know why the relationship had ended. Eiryk debated pushing or leaving well enough alone. He was quite torn. After a good swallow of mead he decided to ask, he wouldn't hound or be obnoxious but he really did want to know.
"So it sounds like it wasn't your hours, your diet or your," he paused, considered and continued with suggestively raised eyebrows, "recreational activities..."
If it wasn't any of those, oh it could be that. Alex had found it a bit concerning too. He frowned slightly and his voice softened, becoming more sympathetic.
Now he wished he hadn't said anything. That was a real and potentially painful issue.
Eiryk could be ridiculously persistent, probably made him a pain in the ass back in his looting and pillaging days and had more than a little to do with why he'd lived so long. Not that she was an expert, but it seemed to Pak that most vampires who made it past the century mark had a stubborn streak. She tried not to think about what that might mean for her own life expectancy.
"Sort of..." Pak hedged trying to think her answer through and be honest without giving Navid away. "but to be fair that was actually more my issue than his."
Eiryk didn't know anything about the one time Pak had been in love. But if any one would understand, it would be Eiryk. Actually both Kem and Eiryk, those two had a surprising amount in common, no wonder they got on so well and she liked them both so much. Eiryk had come a hell of a lot closer to her reality though. However both Kem and Eiryk had been saved from the inevitable by a better half that was brave enough not to give up. She'd had no idea how to save Etienne and Guillaume didn't have the option. Granted he was more resilient and longer lived than a human, but he still was mortal.
"Well that wouldn't -have- to be a problem, the option..."
Before he could even finish the thought though Pak snapped at him.
She snapped again. Her tone was so harsh, so decisive and unequivocal that Eiryk looked at her oddly. Something wasn't adding up. How could it be impossible? He'd understand if she had said he was against it or given any reason at all but to just call it impossible... to use that word not once but twice had a terrible finality to it.
He frowned intently, topped off her mead and chose not to press his friend. Her tone and expression made it clear she'd not say any more on the matter and Pak undoubtedly needed support not an interrogation. He might speculate with any combination of Alex, Kem and Aishe later, or maybe he wouldn't. They'd just have to see.
Eiryk was also a little worried she'd cut herself off like that. There were far -far- more humans in the world than vampires. While he could understand the fear and pain of loving and losing a human it had to be better than being alone forever. This, however, was a conversation for another day. A day she wasn't going to throw up a wall at the drop of a hat and Eiryk could see that coming if he kept following this line of thought.
"Okay it is impossible... then what was his hang up?"
Eiryk understood, by letting the topic drop he understood. They were sitting close enough that Pak made an attempt at an apology by reaching out and touching his knee, just for a second, and giving him a weak smile as she picked up her glass.
Honestly the answer to his next question was even more painful in some ways but she'd be a lousy friend if she didn't answer. Pak frowned darkly and took a slow swallow as she composed her thoughts, or tried to.
She said quietly as she set the glass back down.
"He wants kids, it is very important to him and I just... well none of us... but there is no way to make that happen."
It was an especially bitter pill for Pak as she'd not been able to raise her own children, being turned had taken that away from her. She was still considering ranting at Bao the next time she saw him. It wouldn't be at all fair, in fact she'd almost certainly not say a word, but she was thinking about it.
Adoption hadn't even been mentioned, there was no possible way she would raise a child, mortal or werewolf, just to out live them and Pak wasn't sure either she or Navid could countenance turning a child.
Her next words though, that would hurt. There was no way to soften that blow at all. It was also a very real stumbling block to any kind of vampire human relationship.
Pak's expression and her perverication, however, seemed more than he would have expected. Eiryk was about to say something when he remembered what he'd stumbled across when helping her pack up to move to this apartment. Being incurably nosey Eiryk had opened the leather case and seen the old photograph. Although he'd not asked, based on the young lady in the picture and her marked resemblance to his friend Eiryk had concluded the young couple were Pak's children. That probably made this situation hit all the harder.
Again without thinking about it, without asking Eiryk just hugged her. This time he went so far as to kiss the top of her head.
"You did the right thing then, letting him go. It doesn't make it better or easier and I'm not sure it is fair to either of you but.."
And that's all there was to it. For those of them who had chosen this life they'd been able to come to terms with that reality, but the rest of them, including himself, had that decision made for them.
There was a chance, just a chance, he'd had a child he'd had to adhere to social expectations after all... But Eiryk chose not to think about that, in fact he very rarely considered it. He'd mentioned it to very few people, probably only Alex and Rowan (and he'd probably been intoxicated in both cases), in his whole life but as he didn't know for sure it couldn't haunt him.
For vampires like Pak who had known and known their children, there were no words really, he couldn't even imagine. He could only acknowledge their loss and support them.