Meet the Parents
Roleplaying Log: Meet the Parents
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Rami's parents arrive in New York, and Simon meets them for the first time.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: December 17, 2018
IC Location: Outside the Trisket and Simon's Apartment, NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 01 Jan 2019 20:16
Rating & Warnings: PG
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

Simon Green doesn't get nervous. Except recently, he does. Of course, having your prospective in-laws — who you have never met — poking around your place for an hour without you there before you meet them for the first time, really that's enough to make anyone nervous. Having wrapped up his after-action report in record time, he waits at Gronk for Rami to make it down to the parking garage, spinning his key ring around and around his finger and he just barely keeps himself from pacing back and forth.

Infiltrate a terrorist base in the depths of Afghanistan and retrieve nuclear material? (It happens more often than you would hope.) No problem. This? His palms are sweaty and he really, really wants to pace.

Parambir Ghai would rather never leave the Triskelion. In fact, she had been ready to go almost an hour ago, but found numerous little tasks to occupy her time that stretches into her being late to meeting Simon down at the red pick-up truck. She is trying on a rather wearied smile when she gets in sight of Simon, and her shoulders shrug apologetically. "I'm sorry, love… I was practicing avoidance behavior." She doesn't skate around it, doesn't hide it. She admits to it: she is avoiding meeting up with her parents, and for good bloody reason.

She comes in close, and presses a warm kiss to his cheek while she holds lightly to his forearm. "Alright, come on. Let's get this over with." She hesitates, and then touches his bearded cheek. "They will adore you." Beat. "My father will adore you."

Simon blows out a breath of relief when he spots Rami, and her excuse causes him to laugh a little tightly, "You're practicing avoidance…" he returns the kiss on her cheek, one hand touching her side briefly, "…and I haven't been able to sit still since you sent them the door code for my place." Her reassurance causes a tiny bit of the tension to bleed out of his shoulders, and then come right back. Squeezing her forearm briefly, he unlocks the truck and pulls the door open for her. Once she's inside and he's circled around to get in himself, he shuts the door, starts the truck, and notes, "My keen spy senses tell me that the second statement leaves out your mother entirely. I feel like I need another primer. Or at least, the top three things I shouldn't do around your mother." Despite the nervous words, his hands are steady as he guides the big beast out of the parking garage. Because even when he's nervous and has sweaty palms, his hands are steady.

"I don't know why you're panicked… it is going to be me whom my mother is going to be mostly passive aggressive towards." This is perhaps not the most worthwhile way to comfort her fiance, but she goes about the route regardless. "You will probably be loved almost immediately." Then she follows his lead around the truck, and uses his shoulder to help pull herself up into the monstrous seat before she settles it. She touches her belly gently, breathes out a sigh, and then pulls the belt around her shoulder and stomach to buckle it. Only once he's inside does she turn toward him. "Alright, then. You want the top three?" She gives her belt a bit of a tug before she smiles, her red lips holding an easy curve. "Don't hug her. Call her Mrs. Ghai. Do not try to be funny."

"You don't think she'll just be flat-out aggressive with me? I've been getting ready for a barrage of questions? Or stony silence." Simon guides Gronk through the traffic, glancing over to her and then reaching out to run fingers over her belly as well before snapping his hand back to the wheel, "But I should be expecting to be loved?" And then he stops, his eyebrows rising sharply, "Wait. I shouldn't try to be funny?" He tries to keep his eyes on the road, "You know that's my fallback, Rami." Now he might really be nervous. "That's my go-to." Which she, of course, already knows. "I can do no hugging, I can do Mrs. Ghai, but not being funny?" Whistling soft and low, he shakes his head, closing in on the apartment building, "You're killing me, Rami."

"My mother? Absolutely not. That would be impolite." There's a faint smile at her lips at that, and then she ducks her head slightly as she looks out the window at the passing city lights. She looks thoughtful, frowning slightly at his follow-up questions. "I'm not sure, to be honest. It could go either way… be ready for anything." Then she turns her head toward him, hers still resting back against the headrest. "Look, you're trained for this, love… just take everything in stride." Then she laughs softly at his nervous counter, and she shakes her head a bit. "I know… I know that you're going to do just fine."

"Head on a swivel, got it." Simon glances at one palm, shaking his head slightly at the moisture still there, then pulls into the garage of his building, "We couldn't have seen my parents first, could we, Love?" That's a joke, and then he gives a little laugh, "And that's the last joke for a while." He parks the truck and shuts it down. "Second to last — you don't think that I can wear a vest up there, do you?" Reaching across the cab, he clasps her hand and gives it a little squeeze, "Alright, let's go meet the parents. I'll be on my best behavior and you're right, I'm pretty sure that I'll do just fine." At least there's a little bit of his confidence showing back. He pops open the door and comes around to get hers and to hand her down out of the ridiculously-sized vehicle, "You love them, so I'm sure that I'll love them."

The joke — even the last joke — is met with another wry smile. "You'll survive this, love… we both will… and no matter what comes from it, I'm marrying you and we're having a baby together. So, just remember that this is just to see if my parents are willing to join us on the adventure or not, yeah?" Then she looks back out the window briefly toward the elevator, as if half-expecting that her mother would already be there, waiting. Then the door is being popped open, and she startles a bit as if she had been lost in thought. She reaches down for his hand, and then she's alighting on the ground. She grouses quietly, "We need an easier car to get in and out of." Then she squeezes his hand gently before she smiles up at him. "And if you don't, that changes nothing from me, darling."

Her reassurance actually hits home, Simon's ginger brows lifting slightly before he nods slowly. "Are you going to try to get me to drive a minivan, Love?" Shaking the question off, he pats Gronk a little sadly, "Maybe a sedan? Something classic but still exceptional? A Brady?" And then there's no more delaying, and he takes up her hand, squeezing it between both of his as they head for the elevator, "That was very nice of you though, Rami. I don't want to come between you and your family though. I'll be good." There are still a few nerves dancing through him, but after another squeeze at her hand, he seems to be steadying. The elevator dings open immediately, and he leads the way in, drawing her close so that he can wrap an arm around her back and lean in for a slow, light kiss, murmuring, "Don't worry, I won't muss your lipstick."

"I'm not trying to get you to do anything, but I am definitely not going to be hauling a carseat to and from this monstrosity." There's a warm smile on her red lips before she gives his hand a tighter squeeze at his guiding steps for the elevator. "Just remember… once the holidays are done, they will go home and we can go back to normal, hm?" She steps into the elevator with him, sliding in close with an expectant cuddle in the elevator. The light kiss incites a warm smile, and she settles in close against him. "It's alright. You can't muss my lipstick." Then she kisses him, a warm fire settling into her belly that draws her in close, her curves settling into his warmer muscled frame. Then she murmurs, "Remind me your cover story again?"

"Yes, back to living in different apartments…" Simon settles back against the wall of the elevator with Rami for the duration of the short ride, his arms around her waist and rather enjoying the second kiss even more than the first. The murmur causes him to chuckle softly, "I rather blew the cover story out of the water with you, didn't I? Consulting analyst for various business and government agencies on matters of security." His eyes flicker up to the panel showing what floor they're on, "I'm considering whether or not that was a challenge about your lipstick, but…" but the elevator is dinging onto his floor, and he leans down to sneak another quick kiss as the doors whisk open. Straightening up again and drawing a fortifying breath, he reaches for her hand once more, "Alright. Here we go." If ever there was a man girding his loins for battle to come, it's Simon Green — or Bradley Butler, as the case may be.

Parambir laughs softly at his dismay — perceived at least — to the idea that they will be forced to be living in different apartments. She brushes her nose against his in a loving touch, an exchange that is easy and soft. Then she is smiling ruefully at him through his chuckle, and she shrugs a shoulder slightly. "Well, didn't help that we crossed paths in the Triskelion, did it?" Then she is brushing her fingertips across his lip, touching the edge of his mouth before she starts to step back at the elevator's ding. She slips her hand back into his at his beckoning — or perhaps in time with his beckoning — and then she squeezes gently.

The two cross the hallway to the door, and Rami knocks gently at the door with her free knuckles before she uses the key to Simon's apartment to open the door. It swings open, and immediately their noses are struck with the most delicious combination of scents — a masala of fragrances that blend and mix together in a blissful concoction. The TV is on, and there's a football — not American — on the screen. The window blinds are open, curtains pulled back to let in the city lights. An sPad is set up on the bar countertop between the dining room and the kitchen, and a gracefully gorgeous Indian woman is behind the counter, speaking in sharp and fast Punjabi to the tablet, and there's Punjabi back.

Oya Ghai is a breathtaking sight even in her early sixties — tall and curvaceous as her daughter with only the slightest hints of plumpness from age. Her hair is a lovely gradient of raven black and brown, streaked here and there with gray just to prove that she does not dye it. Her eyes are large and brown, and her lips are as full as her daughter's, but not painted red. She is not what anyone would expect from the stereotypes Indian mother — leggings and a tunic-style sweater with a lovely red silk scarf flowing around her neck and shoulders. Her feet are bare, nails painted to match the deep red shellac on her fingers. She is definitely not the mother from Bend it Like Beckham, but instead a Bollywood model aged and lovely. She looks up to spot Rami and Simon, and her expression bursts with a smile.

"Paru!" Then, she speaks to the tablet. "She's here. I'm going now." Then she taps the screen and immediately steps out from behind the counter, stepping toward Rami to catch her daughter in a surprising hug. The two embrace, and Rami looks bemused over her mother's shoulder to the tall, yet wiry man with a growing bald spot and white hair that smiles back at Rami. He shrugs, hands open wide in a telling, and yet mysteriously uncertain gesture.

Oya pulls back from the hug, looks Rami over once, and then immediately turns those brown eyes to Simon. She is a paradox of warm and stern, nailing Simon to the spot with that look that also suggests some kind of strange mischief that is unlike anything Rami did describe of her mother. She steps out of Rami's embrace, giving her daughter's shoulders a quick squeeze, and then she twines her fingers together to look Simon squarely in the eye.

The idea of knocking on the door to his own apartment bemuses Simon, but the change that has been wrought over it surprises him — even if it shouldn't. The sounds and smells of home would certainly help Rami's father with settling in. He has seen pictures of Oya Ghai, but seeing her in the flesh is something else entirely. For all that Rami's birthright comes from her father, he can see a lot of her mother in her now, and in the best traditions of the CIA, he hangs back to observe at first, watching the parents greet their daughter. Only when Oya turns her gaze to him does Simon step forward beyond the entry to the apartment, gesturing first toward her feet, and then touching his brow and his chest in a traditional Punjabi greeting of respect toward his elders, "Satsriakaal, Mrs. Ghai. Mr. Ghai. Welcome to New York. I'm sorry that we couldn't meet you at the airport. You've done an amazing job turning my apartment into an actual home so quickly." Beyond the gesture and the initial greeting, he sticks to English.

Chiran is all smiles at Simon's traditional greeting, and Oya's a serious frown. She considers Simon with a purse of her lips, and then nods vaguely. "Well, I see that Paru has trained you well." Behind her mother, Rami's eyes roll slightly before she looks back toward her father. There's something that is conveyed between the Bearers, almost in a telepathic manner.

Then Chiran is looking back to his wife, and he steps up to gently touch the Indian woman's elbow. "Oya, please do not harry the boy so soon after meeting him. It is unfair, and we should be fair, should we not?" There is something warm, steady about Rami's father, and he is already guiding his wife back with a light grip on her elbow. "We have dinner soon, yes?" He looks to Rami and Simon, and gestures. "Come in, settle in. This is your house after all, Simon. We should not impose too much."

Oya is frowning seriously as she retreats back to the kitchen to finish dinner. The smell of fresh naan, and English-favored curry, all waft from the stove top. There are also some more traditional fare from the Punjabi, but the English influences are clear in the offered tikka and the various masala.

Rami guides Simon in, nodding slightly to Chiran in silent thanks for his ease to defuse the moment.

"I'm pretty certain that correcting you is getting off on the wrong foot, Mrs. Ghai, but I learned the pairi pauna," the traditional greeting, "in Amritsar years ago." Simon steps more fully into the dining room at Chiran's invitation and Rami's guidance, pulling out a chair for the latter as he nods to the former, "I will willingly take your questions and…" he offers a faint smile to Oya, "…harrying, however. I certainly have not approached this meeting as fairly as I would have liked, Mr. Ghai. It would have been nice to meet you both without the natural deadline we're under now." Which at least suggests that he would have wanted to meet them even without the pregnancy. "It smells delicious, Mrs. Ghai. Even better than Yashminder's place. Thank you very much for cooking dinner. Rami has only really told me much about you both in the last several months." Again, putting the time before the pregnancy, no doubt an intentional reminder. "But I knew rather quickly that you were good parents, as you've raised a wonderful, strong woman."

"Is that so?" Oya's voice is casual, but short. Despite the inviting question for more information, she does not seem to care if she gets it. "Yes, I did hear… some kind of analyst for the CIA, is that so? How curious that Yashminder somehow found Rami a boyfriend who is also in the Intelligence field." There's a coldness there that is directed toward Chiran more than anyone else, and Rami's father raises his hands apologetically.

"Please, Oya… you know better than I the rule that Parambir and I agreed upon when she took up this line of work. I do not seek to know her life through her own memories." That makes it clear that Chiran and Oya both know that Rami has told Simon about her family's gift.

The mention of the pregnancy has all three Ghais exchanging looks, and Parambir sits quietly in the stool at the hightop countertop. The chopping in the kitchen becomes louder as Oya finishes up the peppers and onions that will go into the curry now that it has been simmering for long enough. She moves with sharp, precise movements. There's a small grunt at Simon's complimentary words, though Chiran is smiling.

"Simon, why don't you help me set the table." It's a warm invitation from the father of the clan, and the older Bearer gently grasps onto Simon's arm as he encourages him to enter the kitchen with him to fetch the dishes.

Simon opens his mouth and closes it again as Oya neatly drops the fact that she knows he's in intelligence, then shakes his head a little, offering up a little smile, "I see where Rami got her looks and her inquisitive nature." He makes a soothing gestures at Chiran's reminder to Oya, "It's alright, really. I doubt I could have passed myself off as a freelance analyst to you for long, if I even wanted to." The exchange of looks causes Simon to clear his throat a little, following Chiran readily enough, "Of course, Mr. Ghai. After all, I know where they are." And then he realizes that might be a taken as a joke, but it's too late to take it back, and so he just starts getting plates and glasses together, shuttling them out to the table. After the requisite trips, he brushes a hand across Rami's shoulders, then steps up next to Chiran, "Can I get any of you something else to drink? Or is there anything else that needs chopping? I'm a reasonably competent sous chef, even if I'm not much of an actual chef."

Oya rolls her eyes slightly, before she sighs out a breath. "We've heard our daughter's lies long enough to know one when we heard one." The humbled Chiran just smiles as he works with Simon to set the table. He glances behind him toward Oya and Rami, who have settled into tense silence as the daughter helps the mother with the last notes on the dinner.

"You will need to be patient with her. She had spent half of Paru's life setting her up with potential matches, and she's quite miffed that Yashminder found her a white boy to love." The two men move with ease around each other, and Chiran seems to know how to be both helpful and innocuous at the same time.

When the table is finally set, the older of the Ghais steps into the kitchen to help her wife pile up the food in bowls that Simon may have never known he had, or perhaps Oya brought with her. In fact, much of Simon's kitchen feels very stocked all the sudden, and lived in. Rami is quiet as she watches her mom work, and the touch to her shoulder almost startles her out of her intensity, and she turns slightly toward him with a warming smile. She mouths a quiet, Sorry and then she reaches out to touch his wrist in turn.

"Eating now," Oya says to the two, carrying two bowls of curry with Chiran bringing the rice and cutting board of naan. The table is quickly set, and Chiran is gesturing Simon into a seat beside him, and him beside his wife, and Rami between her mother and her own lover. Rami touches her foot to Simon's and then smiles reassuringly. Rice and curry and naan are all passed out amongst the four, and the three Ghais naturally gravitate toward using their naan over the silverware that has been placed at the settings.

"I like to think that while Yashminder set the first date, it was Rami and I who forged the connection." Simon is cursing himself inside, all his glib lines drying away when it really matters. "I — don't know if that makes it better or worse, now that I've said it." Admitting that is a good step at least, right? Chiran's ease in integrating himself into the necessary tasks without actually interrupting them is impressive from a disappearing spy's point of view, and neatly demonstrates which of the couple is the louder personality.

The mouthed apology and the touch to the wrist stalls Simon, and he settles in next to Rami, one hand resting on her shoulder. It's only a moment of that quiet, however, and then Oya is announcing that dinner is ready, and Simon moves to collect more of the food and deliver it to the table without being asked. He takes his seat as directed, glancing aside to Rami at the touch of his foot. His own foot nudges against hers, then brushes up her shin, although only after he carefully calculates angles to make sure he isn't playing footsie with his prospective mother-in-law.

Simon knows enough to use torn naan and to only use his right hand to eat, seeming quite at home with the food and the method of eating. He is, however, an inveterate American, and so a few bites in, he starts talking, "I'm actually quite glad to have the opportunity to meet both of you. I have heard great things, even in the short time I've heard more than the basics. You've already made yourself quite at home here, and I'm glad." He assays another smile, "You've actually done it better than I have these couple of years."

Chiran smiles ruefully for his soon-to-be son-in-law, and he nods all the same. "Don't tell Yashminder that. He's quite proud of his work. It will be disheartening for him to realize that he wasn't the one who should be appreciated for such a timely match." Then the elder Ghai is settling into his next duties as he helps his wife prepare the table.

Then all four are seated for dinner, and there's a quaint silence that falls over the three. Until Simon starts talking, and Rami is looking up with a sudden smile on her red lips. She shakes her head slightly, and then she glances toward her mother who is giving her father a look before she settles a steadier glance across the table to Simon. "Is it common for those in your line of work to have apartments that look like they belong in IKEA catalogs?" The question has no heat or any real criticism — okay, that's not true. There's quite a bit of criticism, but Oya delivers it with ease and grace.

Rami shakes her head and sighs heavily. "Mom, please…" Then she folds her lips together and continues brusquely, "It isn't fault he has no sense of space or decor." Her eyes flicker toward Simon, and then she's smiling… and then Chiran is smiling… and then Oya starts to chuckle.

"Which is why we will be giving his space a little bit of a spruce. Though, really… we are going to need a bigger space. There's no space for a child's room, and I will need my own space." Which means… she's moving in?

Simon starts to respond to the the IKEA comment, but there's Rami stepping in to his… well, that's not to his defense, but he laughs easily enough, shaking his head, "Yes, yes, the company decor is abysmal, and I haven't upgraded it." Except the TV. "I have to have a few flaws, besides being pasty." Crap, that was another joke. Oh well, too late now. And then Rami is wiping aside his worries, his eyes widening slightly as he looks over to her, "And here I figured we would end up in your apartment, even if it meant kicking out your roommate. Just because it was a little more familiar. Good thing there's hazard pay. Real estate prices in Manhattan are brutal." And he just suggested buying a place instead of renting. He might not even have noticed that. "Mr. Ghai, I think it was your brother that Rami mentioned rafting Brahmaputra," that was probably just to prove that his pronunciation game is aces, "do you go for extreme sports too, or have you settled down more?" He tries hard not to put judgment into the question, but some nerves definitely come through.

Except the TV.

Parambir is all smiles for Simon, and her foot nudges a bit more gently under the table. Her brown eyes search his briefly, only to then smile toward Chiran who is chuckling at Simon's joke of his complexion. Oya looks less amused, her wide mouth set into a hard frown. She glances between father and daughter, and then shakes her head. "I do not have enough votes in this household."

That alone says much about the life that Oya has lived with two so closely-twined people. Perhaps her edge and lack of humor is always feeling on the outside. When Simon turns his attention to Chiran, the woman folds a bit of naan in a casual manner and prepares to listen with a half-tilt of her head toward her husband. Chiran shrugs his shoulders a bit. "No. I was always the academic in the family… but that is common for some Bearers… we are often pushed into study… to learn as much as we can. The same happened to Paru, but she chose… an interesting twist to her studies. Military service is a calling."

"That just means that I need to work twice as hard to get your confidence, Mrs. Ghai." Simon dips his head slightly in acknowledgement, then shifts his focus to Chiran, nodding an understanding, "Then you and Rami both have me beat up and down the field when it comes to academics. I assume medicine and law also have their draws every couple of generations." Reaching out with his left hand, he rests it gently on Rami's elbow, "As for military service, I get that. I served a few tours myself," Which should be obvious by his bearing and looks, "and so did my dad." Leaving his hand on Rami's elbow for a moment, he looks back to Oya, "And I suppose that having a couple of brainiacs in the family meant that you had to be the practical one, Mrs. Ghai?" Even if being a Bearer means that they had plenty of practical knowledge as well.

"My confidence is hardly something you need to work to earn." Though if that's because she will never give Simon her confidence or because he doesn't actually need it are two very different things to parse in that statement. Oya is frowning as she regards Chiran, and then Rami, and then she resumes her meal with a stoic focus — she hears the conversation, the way Simon tries to prompt connection and camaraderie, but the mother Ghai is formidable in that. She can put up such a wall.

"Yes, quite so… but I studied philosophy. Perhaps not the most useful vocation for a Bearer, but that is the way the heart goes… I studied my interests." Chiran touches his wife's elbow in the same almost mirrored gentility of Simon with Rami, and it is accepted — at least the love there is clear even while Oya eats in measured bites. Then Chiran smiles back to Rami, who is amazingly quiet for this whole exchange. Then he looks back to Simon at the comment toward Oya.

The woman sighs, nods vaguely and offers — even if a bit bitten at the edges, "I provide structure and sense and safety and caution, which is what you will have to do. Bearers are driven by the need to learn, to experience. Your job will be to keep Parambir's head on straight and to not have her run off to do stupid things all for the sake of a memory." Oya can see the way Rami's hand tightens, her brow settling low, but all Oya can do is lock eyes with Simon. "You understand me?" She says in Punjabi.

"I definitely understand the way the heart goes, Mr. Ghai." Simon can be patient as only a spy can, so he doesn't seem put off by the wall Oya puts up, accepting the social hand that Chiran provides with his response, "But there's a lot to be said for philosophy." The former sergeant shifts a little uncomfortably, "I admit that's coming from one term of Philosophy 101, but its honest ignorance." And then Oya is responding, and he nods, shifting into Punjabi readily enough, "I understand you perfectly, honored elder Ghai. You have raised a brilliant and intuitive daughter, one I am glad to serve as shield and protector for. And earning your confidence is not a matter of need. Family is important to me as well as to Parambir. I would become a member of hers by choice and acclaim, not by need." His Punjabi grammar is actually maybe even a little better than his English grammar, since he has to think about it.

"Honest ignorance is a good starting point for any philosophy student." With a slow curve of his naan, Chiran finishes his meal. His smile turns toward Oya, and his hand gently settles on top of hers. Slowly, she warms to the touch and soon the two have crisscrossed their fingers into a loose and comfortable embrace. It has an ageless to it — a long established affection. "Wonderful meal, most loved." It is a common, weathered — but not worn — phrase. It prompts another soft relaxation from Oya.

This is quite a place for her to be once Simon responds to her, and she nods her chin in a sharp, simple nod. "Good. I'll hold you to that." Which may be food good or for ill for Rami and Simon both. The Ghai daughter knows this all too well, and so while her parents enjoy a quiet moment together, Rami begins to stand so she can start to clean the plates of her mother and father, despite not much of her own food being touched.

Simon nods his head to Chiran's response, watching the interplay between the husband and wife. The relatively neutral approval from Oya causes him to nod, and then look over to Rami. The nearly-full status of her plate causes the field agent to shake his head, his hand turning over on her elbow to urge her to stay in her seat, "I'll get it, Love. Are you really going to make me chastise you for not eating while your parents are here?" The words come accompanied by a smile, and he rises to run his knuckles along her cheek and start collecting plates — leaving hers in place.

The chiding from Simon is almost met with frustration — perhaps because she can feel the agreeing looks from Chiran and Oya both. But then her stomach gives a little rumble, as if to remind her that — no, perhaps this is a good thing. She nods once, and starts to scoop up another mouthful of rice and curry with fingertips and naan. She glances after Simon as he works on clearing the table, and then her eyes dart to Oya. "Mom, please… let your guard down a little. He's trying."

"Yes, I see that," Oya says in a tense note. "I thought you said he was funny."

Working to clean the table in initial silence, Simon pauses before taking each plate or glass, making sure that Chiran and Oya are done with them. He's just finished up and put a hand on Rami's shoulder when Oya burns him. "I am, but it's strictly American humor. Too low-brow for proper Queen's English." Simon's deadpan game is strong. Shaking it off, he allows a smile to touch his lips, "I'm trying not to fall back on my nervous habits, actually. Now, if I really wanted to be funny, I'd ask if you wanted coffee… but I'll make tea if anyone would like it."

Chiran casts a look to Oya at her teasing — though it can be hard to detect when the woman teases anymore. He is smiling fondly before he shakes his head. "Oya, leave the boy alone. He will make you laugh in time." Then he is looking up toward Simon at his daughter's side while Rami eats thoughtfully through her meal. She glances up toward Simon at his touch, and then the offer between coffee and tea causes all three Ghais to look amused.

"I'll take coffee," Oya says. "But only if it is strong. Otherwise, you best make me tea."

Simon smiles crookedly at Chiran's chiding of Oya, "I can take it, Mr. Ghai. Besides, I've heard it said that teasing is a form of affection." His pale eyes flicker over to Oya at that, the grin crooking up harder at one corner. Oya's request causes him to laugh, "Hah! I'll make an American out of you yet, Mrs. Ghai." Is that a suggestion that the elder Ghais remain? "Weak coffee has no place in this world, not even at Starbucks." Giving Rami's shoulder a light squeeze, he crosses to the kitchen, starting up the kettle and gathering his pour-over filter, "Rami? Tea? Or would you all like coffee?"

"I think at this point, Simon… it is alright if you call me Chiran." He looks to Oya, but the Ghai woman is resolute in her own opinion. She will stick with Mrs. Ghai. The word of coffee though has Oya nodding, even while Chiran softly requests, "I will take tea."

Rami is already out of her seat, plate mostly empty now that she's tucked into it. She gets up, bracing her hand against the chair as she does. She starts to the kitchen to help her fiance with the tea. "Tea," she tells him as she steps into the kitchen. "No caffeine for me at this hour."

"If that's what you'd like, sir." There's still enough military man in Simon to go with that form of address first, but then he accedes to, "Chiran." Rami's choice — and her arrival — draws a little smile from him, and he gives her hip a little bump with his own as he leaves her to get her own tea things ready, taking out four mugs, "Because I'm a heathen, we have sugar. And because Rami isn't, we have cream. What can we get for the two of you?" He waits for a response and then gets started on it, allowing a little grin to touch his lips as he turns back to preparing the after-dinner drinks, murmuring to Rami, "And you said she didn't like humor… or am I just digging my own grave?"

Tea and coffee are served quietly, and there's some casual conversation shared. Chiran asks Simon about his job, but it is couched in simple terms of how he likes his job, if he believes that this coming year will see any changes for him, and how he has liked working beside his daughter. These are all questions that do not require Chiran to think through the memories of his daughter, though there are at least twice where Chiran appears to recall something that neither of the couple have shared. Two Bearers in close proximity does mean that it becomes easier — or perhaps more likely — that they will slip into each other's thoughts without thinking. After all, Rami recalls memories from Chiran, too.

"It is difficult at times," Rami says quietly at the low laughter that echoes from her father when she recalls her father's frustration at the London Airport over the lack of a proper cup of tea. "To keep each other straight. We're more likely to prompt each other to think of something that is the other person's memory the closer we are together." She looks apologetically to Simon, and even Chiran looks a bit sheepish.

"I try to respect both of your privacies."

Simon is careful with his answers, but does answer the actual questions asked, reassuring Chiran — and Oya as well — that most of his word is paperwork and analysis, and he spends most of the time in New York. There is that 'most' lingering in the air, but he brushes past it easily, noting that Rami is one of the best handlers he's worked with, "even without the benefit her Bearer's memories add, she's an excellent handler, and one of the few areas where I'll admit the British and the Indian are better than the American is accent. I'd much rather hear her voice than another Deep South former Marine or Midwest academic."

The mention of sharing more memories when they're close causes a faint blush to rise to Simon's freckled cheeks, and he glances down into his cup of coffee, then shakes his head ruefully, "As I'm sure Rami tries to respect yours as well, Chiran." His eyes twinkle with a little mischief as he looks back to Rami, but he resists commenting that nobody wants to know what their parents are doing together at night. No scandalizing the prospective in-laws, not yet. "You're welcome to this place as long as you'd like," he's thinking 'over Christmas' not 'well into the New Year,' "Rami's place isn't far away, and you might enjoy the Met, which is just a few blocks away from her apartment. That's where we had our second date."

The compliment toward Rami's voice has her possessed by a lovely blush — the kind that just adds a little bit of ruddiness to her otherwise tawny cheeks. She shakes her head a bit, giving his shoulder a gentle nudge of her knuckles before she settles back into her tea. She sips quietly while she listens to Simon offer up his place readily. On the drive home, she will tell him that there's a risk there — and she knows it is coming their way. It is unlikely that Chiran or Oya will be heading home any time soon what with the threat and promise of a new grandchild on the horizon — particularly a grandchild that may carry the Bearer's gift. But that is a discussion for another time, and perhaps not on the heels of Simon's meeting her parents.

She breathes out a little exhale as they settle into discussion of the Bearers. Her eyes flicker over to Simon as it is his turn to blush, and she is all smiles in that moment — full red lips curled warmly. The twinkle of mischief is met with a warm, and amused eye-roll before she is settling back into her cup of tea. The mention of the Met is afforded a wry nod of her head, but it is Chiran who laughs fully at the mention. "Ah, she took you memory hopping and you had no idea. It is a favored past time, what with the access to the artifacts of our history. I remember once standing in the British Museum, and looking at the very spear that my ancestor threw into a pack of wolves to protect a king. It is… a wonderful thing to bear witness to such an object, to let it trigger a memory."

"I'd like to think that I took her memory-hopping, Chiran, but yes, you're probably quite right." Simon recovers quickly from his blush, chuckling at Chiran's story and nodding, "It was a Buddha, at the very least. Someone from the," he glances to Rami for confirmation, "Fifteenth century? That one of the other Bearers met. A woman." There's a pause, "The Bearer, not the Buddha." Pushing the empty coffee cup aside, he leans back in his chair, actually seeming to relax a little, even resting his hand between Rami's shoulder-blades, "Protecting a king… it seems that you have all had something very valuable to give the world — either insight, action, or duty. Are there any who have just… lived life?" He waves the question off though, "Sorry… I don't mean to pry, and you must be tired from your flight. Let us know when you'd like to kick us out, Mr. and Mrs. Ghai." Because 'Chiran and Mrs. Ghai' is awkward.

"Of course there were," Chiran says in his warm, simple tone. "But the blessing is often given to those who will bring purpose to it." Then he chuckles, shaking his head. "Have no fear though, I have not experienced much beyond a simple life. I think what I offer to the Guru is my reflection of past philosophies, of ideas, and of ethics and virtues. Nothing more. Rami will give something greater still to the Guru. She has met strange and wonderful creatures, engaged in amazing quests. I think she will bring new vitality to our Blessing, and perhaps revitalize it anew."

Then Oya places her hand gently on Chiran's arm, and there is that silent communication conveyed that wife and husband share. He nods, resting his hand over hers, squeezing gently, and then looking to Rami and Simon. "We shall let you two go. We plan to stay up and get adjusted to these new sights. Now, I meant what I said… you two live your lives. We will see you both when you can."

Parambir smiles a thankful smile to her father before she slowly begins to stand, and her hand touches Simon's gently. Then she is taking his cup so she can wash his and hers both, and then begin to see Simon out so they can make their own journey home.

Simon's hand rubs at Rami's back at Chiran's reassurance, "Then there's some hope for our child living a quiet life. That's good. But I wouldn't sell yourself short, Chiran. It's the breaths between plays that let you appreciate the whole game." There's a moment where he almost suggests that maybe adding some (ginger) spice to the mix will revitalize the Blessing, but he bites his tongue, letting a little mischievous smile curl his lips instead.

Simon can read that silent communication, the dirty, cheating spy, and he starts to stand as well, brushing his knuckles against Rami's as she reaches out for him. "There are certainly a lot of sights to see. There's not much like New York right before Christmas. Let us know if you need a car or recommendations — I figure you'll want to check in with Yashminder tomorrow evening, but after that, there's a whole lot of great food in town so you don't have to cook every night." That may be a mistake, but Simon doesn't realize it until after he's said it — Oya is someone who clearly takes pride in her cooking, unlike his own mother, who did it because she had to. "Thank you for the meal, Mrs. Ghai. It was delicious, a very definite feel of home." Even if not his own home. "It was a pleasure to meet you both." Beat pause, "Don't worry, you can wait a few meetings before you tell me that." And there's a flash of his boyish humor, as he escorts Rami toward the door.

"It will be good to give Oya a break from the kitchen. She gets moody after a while about the meager selection that the States has." Chiran is teasing his wife now who sets him with a stern look despite it all. Then Oya glances to Simon and Rami, and she offers — in some hopeful olive branch. "Safety to you."

Then the older Ghai pair stand, and begin to see Rami and Simon out. There's kisses and hugs for her parents at the door, and then they are swept out into the hallway quietly without much fanfare. There's a smile that lifts Rami's lips once they are outside in the hallway, and she turns toward Simon. "Well. You did alright. She didn't even really insult you all that poorly."

"There are some good Indian markets in New York, but…" Simon lets that trail off, ceding his suggestion to Chiran's teasing. He bows his head slightly at the olive branch, "Peace and comfort to you, Mrs. Ghai."

And then they're out the door, and he glances over to Rami, the oh-so-red smile drawing his lips up in a matching curve, "What do you think, B+? A-?" Shaking off the question, he chuckles and reaches for her hand, squeezing it lightly, "There she was expecting humor… I don't know, Rami, you might be losing your touch as a handler…" One bright eye closes in a wink, and he leans over to kiss her cheek on the way to the elevator. "They seem very comfortable with one another, Love. And it's clear they love you very much. That's all I need, no matter how much I want their approval."

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