Practice Makes Perfect

It had taken notably longer than he'd have liked for Pakpao to come to after that last throw. She'd missed the mats entirely, he wasn't sure how. If she'd been human Bao would have called for an ambulance and worried about a concussion at the very least. As neither of them were human he was still concerned about a concussion but there was little he could do but wait. When she did finally regain consciousness he'd noticed how badly dislocated her shoulder was and offered to set it for her. She'd refused and refused to continue the session even though their time wasn't technically up. He'd only made a token protest before offering to drive Pakpao back to the towers in her car and quickly changing to street clothes to make good on that offer. It was probably best that she was insisting on chess next week.

He took a ride hailing service back to the small private dojo and let himself in. No one else was ever here this time of night and while someone would clean up after him in the morning Bao preferred to do it himself. After a strenuous session there might be questions from the human management if he didn't tidy up. He also found the process rather meditative.

Shoes off, he changed out of his street clothes and back into his gi, found soap water and brushes and found a starting point.

As he did so he batted away the idea that was lingering naggingly at the back of his mind. Pakpao did not enjoy these practices. Instead he concentrated on the fact that she had improved dramatically and did seem to be determined to get it right. He tried very hard not to notice, as he collected the mats there was more blood than he would have either expected or liked.

Mara 1 month ago
Bao had told her he was working with Pakpao tonight, and while Mara hadn't arrived in time to see any of the session she had witnessed their leaving and Bao's return alone. She didn't know why Bao insisted on sparring with Pak the way she did, and she was mildly concerned for her friend and her sibling. So when Bao returned to the dojo, she padded quietly behind him on noiseless paws, slipped in through the door behind him, and sat watching as he began to clean the area. When he'd been at it for a minute or two without noticing her, she shifted back, sat on the floor behind him, and said, "So how did it go?"
Bao 1 month ago
The mats had all been inspected and divided by blood and no blood. He started to give the no blood mats a quick wipe down and stack them when he heard Mara’s voice.

Bao hadn't heard his sister come in but she had her ways. Although he wasn't expecting her, or anyone really, he wasn't terribly startled. Jump scares weren't a thing in Bao's world. Instead he stood smoothy, gracefully turned and gave his older sibling an almost playful bow.

“Good evening Mara. I trust you haven't been waiting long.”

Related or not Bao hated the idea he'd been rude and even inadvertently ignored Mara.

Greeting offered, he started to stack the now clean mats. At least some of his interest in that task was a delay tactic. He wasn't exactly sure how to answer her deceptively simple question.

“Well I think. She has made great progress in a comparatively short time.”

After all, he reminded himself, Pakpao did not practice for hours a day. She might go days or even weeks between meetings with him. It was something he had to remind himself of as he took a soapy brush to one of the mats from the blood pile. His spotless white gi gave silent evidence it wasn't his blood.
Mara 1 month ago
Mara tilted her head at the stack of bloodied mats and then flicked her eyes back and forth between them and the suspiciously clean Bao. She gave a little hum of acknowledgment and walked silently over to the mats, trailing her fingertips down the side of one of them and then lifting them to her nose, sniffing delicately. She looked at Bao again.

"And does she seem to be enjoying your teaching?"

Mara tried to keep a neutral tone. Bao was her brother, of course, but she and Pak had become friends. Through Pak, she learned about her father - where he was, what he was doing, what was happening in his life. Pak was more than just an information source though. Mara wanted her to be happy. Bao had a distinctly depressing track record of making people happy, though.
Bao 1 month ago
Setting the now clean mat aside to dry, Bao selected another and began to meticulously clean it as well. Watching Mara he noticed for the first time exactly how big the stack was. It was easily rationalized though, cuts to the head and face were often particularly bloody and she really was failing to keep her guard up on her right side.

If he had been on his own Bao probably could have very easily kept these thoughts at the back of if not entirely out if his mind. However hearing Mara ask something that has been tugging at his subconscious for some time was rather hard to ignore. Thoughtfully he finished the mat he was working on and set it to dry as well. Rather than select another though he sat in a very balanced very correct seiza and quietly regarded Mara.

“I think she very much prefers to play chess with me.”

He answered honestly. Bao didn't even try to justify himself or his training. Certainly Pakpao was woefully under-educated in this matter and Mara knew it. However, Pakpao had to learn this. It was a basic skill he should have given her years ago. Still, he had yet to sense anything even remotely close to enjoyment from her Occasionally satisfaction when she got something new or difficult right, or more often when she surprised him, but never enjoyment.
Mara 1 month ago
Mara once again tilted her head at Bao, knowing she was getting through to him on some level. He was headstrong, as many of their kind were. Amir's family especially seemed to have ten-mile-wide stubborn streaks, and she was aware that she wasn't the exception there.

She stuck the tip of her tongue out and gingerly licked at the bit of sticky blood she'd touched from the mats.
"Why don't you turn her training over to someone else? Amir would do it." She rolled her eyes up, as if thinking, and then looked back at him. "I know he's not your favorite, but Ran likes Pak a great deal. He would be a good mentor to her."

Mara knew that option might not strike Bao as adequate, but he and Ran sparred a lot, and viciously. All Amir's offspring did. Mara found Ran a clever and engaging opponent. As a teacher, he would excel. Provided he could be convinced to get to sessions on time.

"Barring those options, don't you think anyone in her own Clan would be capable of training her without breaking her? Learning should be enjoyable."

She'd seen Pak when she and Bao had left ealrlier, and she hadn't looked happy at all. Even during her most difficult sessions with Amir, Mara had ended up with a sense of satisfaction when she had finally picked up on what her Creator had been trying to teach her and earned his approval. Pak deserved that sense of accomplishment too.
Bao 1 month ago
Quietly Bao watched Mara as she delicatly picked a small bit of blood from the mat and realized at some point he'd lost any and all desire to either sleep with or bite Pakpao. It was probably when he'd given her the picture of her children. Her reaction had forced him to see her as a person who'd had a life before him and who'd made a life after him.

He very much did not want to give up his training sessions, his time with Pak. And he did not want to admit to failing in this respect, but he had to admit Amir was exceptional when it came to any martial training. He did worry slightly Pakpao might be a little, to be frank her personality might make that combination a bit difficult. Still yeilding to Amir was hardly admitting failure he would be turning her over to a superior trainer.

Without thinking about his face clouded slightly at the mention of Ran. Truthfully Bao was slightly jealous of the easy friendship Pakpao and Ran had. At least he'd been proven wrong that his younger sibling would treat her poorly or get bored with and abandon her.[/]

“I believe Ran comes with… distractions.”

[I]He said slightly tightly but with no anger. More over, if he were honest he knew that Ran was completely capable of separating business and pleasure. And their friendship might help Pak take some enjoyment in these lessons.

Bao raised an eyebrow at the idea that Evenhet might actually be able to train her.

“They had done a fine job when I met her.”

Bao retorted coldly. Kittens had been better able to defend themselves when he'd start working with Pakpao. It was, in his opinion, a major oversight from both Pakpao and the clan.

“But you do have a point.”

He did want Pakpao to not only be capable with her defense but to also be happy and confident in those abilities.

Not that long ago Bao would have ended this conversation before it began. He would have insisted that he as her creator should be the one to impart this training. Perhaps his own attempts at growth and change were paying off.
Mara 1 month ago
Mara, having left off any contacts that night, turned her pale grey eyes directly onto Bao, staring at him without blinking for a few moments. She didn't agree with his opinion of Pak's Clan, but then, she had several friends there now and she thought perhaps their approach was simply not to force the issue - look how well that was turning out for Bao. If Pak were encouraged to ask, Mara was fairly sure she would find more than adequate tutelage there.

She also hid a little bit of surprise at Bao's reaction to the suggestion that Ran might help. The two weren't each other's favorite, but maybe there was a little more acrimony there than she'd thought. It was something else to keep an eye on. She would chat with Ran, too, to see if it was one-sided or if they both shared this sentiment.

When Bao conceded her point, Mara simply shrugged. Of course she had a point. She wouldn't have brought it up if she didn't. Even Amir would have mentioned this to Bao if he were aware though, so she finally spoke up once again.

"If she is still having an issue in one area of training that you haven't made progress on in years, it's time to let someone else try. But also, yes. I don't think she's truly enjoying any of this. Is that really how you want to build a relationship?"
Bao 1 month ago
Bao was far too disciplined to have any nervous habits or to fidget while thinking. He did not tap his finger, make a face or even close his eyes. He simply remained still and turned the information over in his mind considering it from all angles.

“She is good. She is improving but she is inconsistent with some things.”

It was frustrating, undoubtedly for both of them, she'd come so close to mastering something new and an earlier skill would go out the window or all of a sudden that new skill would just dissolve. Bao had to agree at least part of the blame had to fall in him.

Uncharacteristically he felt a need to move, to release some energy. His answer was to resume cleaning the remaining mats.

It had been rather dramatically brought to Bao's attention that his relationship building skills had weakened considerably over the years. At least personal relationships he still built stable and strong business relationships. It was something he was actively trying to work on.

“I suppose that is not much of a relationship at all is it?”

He couldn't quite manage eye contact while admitting that and was paying more attention to the mat than strictly necessary.

Continuing to consider the problem of getting Pakpao adequate training but also wishing to spend time with her and impart some knowledge he speculated aloud.

“If she would pursue an alternative instructor I wonder if she would rather learn archery from me.”

He'd not tried to teach her archery yet and it was a sport Bao very much enjoyed and was very good at. He'd also not be in a position where he'd have to hurt her, even accidentally. Which he found appealed to him.
Mara 1 month ago
Once again Mara hummed at Bao thoughtfully. She was happy he seemed to be considering Pak's wellbeing, and she did know that he was attempting to train her out of his version of caring concern, but Mara had to wonder why.

"Are you trying to teach her to make yourself feel better, or for her own good?"

Perhaps Bao felt some sort of belated parental responsibility for Pak, but Mara didn't know if he really had her best interests at heart. She knew that Bao, and all of them, had always felt a need to be everything Amir wanted them to be. Mara alone had been turned for a different purpose, and some of that knowledge she applied to her siblings. If they were Amir's eyes, ears, and hands, then she would be their heart.

"Why don't you ask her what she wants? You can throw her at training all you want, but what if she just wants to know you? And do you really even know her?"

Mara had no offspring herself - not the vampiric kind. Of course, she had borne several children as a human and long after she had been turned she certainly had looked them up to know what had ever become of them. Partly for her own closure, and partly because she hoped to be able to tell her father someday that it had eventually turned out all right. She had been drawn in by her own curiosity and had learned about them, about all of their lives. She could have recited birth dates, death dates, favorite foods and colors, personality traits. She wasn't sure Bao could say the same about Pak, in spite of having spent years training her.

"You know she didn't learn the same lessons as we did. She wasn't raised in our family. If you want her to be part of it, you might have to try it her way."
Bao 1 month ago
“It is what I should have done; what I have always done.”

Bao answered slightly puzzled. This wasn't about making himself feel better he genuinely believed he had an obligation to any vampire turned and he did have three sons. They had all been taught the same way, learned the same lessons and were all an asset to not only their little family but to the clan. He was proud of them. He wasn’t quite sure how to be proud of Pakpao, she wasn't Anantya. This, however, was how he showed he cared. It had worked so far.

The idea that he should ask Pakpao what she wanted drew him up short. In fact it caught him so off guard, was such a novel idea, that he looked genuinely confused. He couldn't quite find an answer either. He quickly ran through his mental dossier of Pakpao to decide if he knew her or not and almost immediately found one glaring omission.

“I do not know when or how she came to be associated with Evenhet.”

She'd made some very caustic comments about getting through life after being turned early in their acquaintance but she kept a lot to herself. Bao had assumed he was respecting her privacy by not asking. Perhaps he'd been trying to avoid responsibility.

Their meetings tended to be regular but focused. Unlike with his son's there was little to no down time. No casual getting to know you time. He knew what to order each of his sons if they had coffee/tea or even if they went to a bar. He was unsure about Pakpao. Certainly he could make a couple of observation based guesses but he wasn't confident.

“I believe her favorite color is... red? Perhaps.”

Apparently he'd been training the wrong things.

“This seems to indicate I should ask what her way is.”

He said with no small amount of irony. He'd never had one of his vampires direct their relationship. But he did know Pakpao did not consider herself his in that manner. She'd told him more than once she was her own. Apparently he needed to more actively treat her as such.
Mara 1 month ago
Mara observed Bao's thought process based on the small signals he gave; subtle but still there. She could almost see the wheels turning behind his eyes. She had hoped coming into the dojo that he would be reasonable. He generally was, but every once in a while he had blinders on. Mara cared about them both, and she wanted to see them have some kind of relationship. Surely Bao had his flaws, but Pakpao did too. They could still be family, if they both wanted it.

She was aware of the irony of her own thoughts, as Pak was currently her lifeline to her own biological father. Mara smiled at Bao when he finally reached the conclusion she had been hoping for. She concealed a small wistful sigh of her own.

"You should definitely do that. Maybe try bonding with her in a way that doesn't require you to clean her blood up afterward."

And she suddenly, very VERY badly wanted to talk to her father, but how to do that in a way that wouldn't require cleaning up pieces of his heart and soul after?

Mara would have to figure it out.

[OOC: Mara and Bao out.]