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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #2317613
In which Kit asks Talay for assistance
“So.” Talay puts several plates of food on the table and sits opposite Kit. “This time, there’s a folder and KitKats.”
Kit’s own plate is empty. Talay can never decide what to eat, even given a long list of food choices including a buffet. Kit can’t respond because his mouth is full of KitKat, but knows what Talay is not saying. He pulls another mini KitKat from his sports jacket pocket and tosses it at his friend, half-hoping that the candy will bounce off of Talay’s head.
Talay catches the mini candy bar in mid-air, then stares once he unwraps it. “These are pink.”
“Yeah,” Kit has swallowed the last bite, so he’s able to speak. “Strawberry.”
“Oh?” This time Talay’s eyebrows go up. “I remember someone else who likes strawberry flavor.”
“There weren’t any matcha ones.” Kit’s words are casual, but his face is a warning, which Talay ignores.
“I could call him for you. Maybe he’ll answer if his assistant calls.” Talay waits for Kit to respond, then asks another question. “How many voicemails have you left him now?”
“Seven more than the last time you asked me,” Kit taps the folder in front of him with a little too much emphasis. “We’re not talking about me or your boss. You’re going to tell me what you know about this.”
The two friends met in the mall, which surprised Talay until he figured out what Kit was up to—at least a little bit. Kit doesn’t usually like crowds, but crowds meant noise and noise meant little chance of eavesdroppers. That was the hope anyway.
Kit’s instincts were never wrong, though. Talay had learned that when they were in the same faculty at uni. It was those instincts that made Kit so good at his job. Last time Kit had reached out to him, he had been in Italy, so Talay could only reach him by phone at the start of the investigation. Meeting in person from the beginning made everything so much easier. Plus, Kit had offered to buy whatever food Talay wanted, so of course Talay took him up on it--free food is always a welcome bonus.
“So is this part of an official investigation this time?” Talay asks, crumpling the KitKat wrapper on the table and sliding Kit’s wallet across the table to him. Since Talay had taken too long to decide, Kit had just shoved his wallet into his friend's hand and told him to return it when he made up his mind. It was easier than standing in the middle of the food court watching Talay talk himself in and out of all the choices.
“The last one was also official,” If Kit notices how much lighter his wallet is when he slides it into his pocket, he doesn’t say anything. “Only this time we have even a little more information.”
“And your brothers aren’t involved this time, either.” Talay makes it a statement, rather than a question.
“‘Brother’, singular.” Kit corrects him. “Zone didn’t know anything about the last time until it was all over.”
Never mind that “last time” had involved the death of Kit’s father, and Zone had been in Italy with Kit from the beginning. But, given the way that particular investigation played out, Talay doesn’t think it’s a good idea to bring that up.
“What about this time?” He asks instead.
Kit sighs. “Since one of the people involved is Zone's roommate, he will probably get involved eventually.”
“Yeah, that tends to happen to you Manirats, doesn’t it? Getting roped into something whether you want to or not.” What Talay doesn’t say is that he is also ‘one of those people’.
Talay works for Thai Intelligence, so officially, he tends to get involved in all sorts of matters of national security, criminally related and otherwise. Because of his analytical skills and the ability to be more discreet than he looks, Talay also has a tendency to be roped into what he refers to as “unofficial” cases, like this one. While it sometimes meant that he didn’t technically stop doing his job after he left work for the day, good things tended to come out of being involved with these “unofficial cases”.
The last one had even got him a girlfriend.
“I’m hoping that this one is less complicated than last time,” Talay pulls the folder toward him and flips it open. His face changes ever so slightly when he sees the contents. “Oh.”
Kit gives his friend a curious look. “Is that a surprised ‘oh’ or a disappointed one?”
“Little bit of both, actually. You’re right about having more information this time, but it’ll be harder to use.” Talay taps Chalam’s photo for emphasis. “Why are you looking into the CEO of OmniVentures? Or don’t I get to know that?”
“It’s a favor,” Kit decides to be truthful. “For a mutual friend.”
“You’re not going to give me any more details?” Talay’s question is rhetorical and they both know it, so Talay pauses just long enough to give Kit a chance to answer, should he want to.
“Your silence says that this will be ‘complicated’,” Kit leans forward. “Why don't you tell me why that would be.”
Talay addresses the photo, rather than Kit. “Chalam’s resistance to intimidation is like trying to scare a rock. His company operates in the legal twilight zone, making it the Bermuda Triangle for law enforcement.”
Kit’s smile is dry. “Quite the description.”
“It’s accurate.” Talay’s jaw clenches.
“Right,” Kit bites the inside of his mouth to keep from grinning. Talay likes to use similes and metaphors that seem to get crazier the more emotional he gets. “Any attempts to break through his granite exterior?”
Talay glares.“Very funny.”
“Have you tried or not?” Kit pushes.
“We-ell, not me personally,” Talay admits. “But it’s like trying to teach quantum physics to a hamster—a noble effort, but doomed to fail.”
“Maybe that depends on the hamster.” Kit takes his time unwrapping another mini KitKit, looking at the candy rather than Talay’s face. Talay tosses a KitKat wrapper at him, and he ducks.
Talay’s actually been involved in several low key investigations into a few of the companies that operate under OmniVentures’ corporate umbrella. No matter what method they had used, the investigation had never gone further than initial paperwork. Even with search warrants, nothing but goodwill and charitable donations had been found. It didn’t help that everyone concerned knew they were looking in the wrong place—they just didn’t know where else to look.
“Did you hear the last two sentences I said?” Talay leans forward, making sure to keep his voice low. “The Secret Service has been playing hide-and-seek with Chalam and losing. What difference do you think Interpol will make?”
Kit jerks his head toward Talay’s plate. “You really should savor your sushi.”
“You really should answer my question.” Talay retorts.
“This is like a philosophical debate,” Kit mutters. “But with soy sauce.”
Talay tosses the condiment packet at him. “I’ll put my soy sauce up your ass.”
Kit casts his friend an appreciative look. “Having a girlfriend updated your intimidation game.”
“Yeah. Being in a healthy relationship does wonders for my morale too.” Talay bites into his tuna roll harder then necessary, glaring at Kit as he chews. “You should try it sometime, instead of leaving voicemails for someone who basically ghosted you. Maybe if you asked him to help you with this ‘favor’, he’d return your call.”
A weird little spasm crosses Kit’s face. “I’m asking you. All you need to do is a little digging. You know what you’re looking for this time, that’s what makes it easy.”
“Yeah,” Talay takes another bite of tuna roll “Like juggling chainsaws.”
Kit raises an eyebrow. “Is that your new hobby?”
“I’m serious,” Talay rolls his eyes. “Going after OmniVentures could mean a climactic nosedive for our careers, with the finale being our lives.”
“In that thrilling order?” Kit has forgotten how fun it is to needle his friend.
This time Talay flicks a piece of tuna at him. “You’re being deliberately asinine.”
“You’re being deliberately juvenile.” Kit catches the tuna and pops it in his mouth. “Only toddlers throw food.”
What neither says is that Talay is absolutely correct. Chalam has enough power and enough of a reputation to threaten the livelihood of any person who crosses him. Even if those people happen to be members of Interpol or Thai Intelligence. Kit’s seemingly calm and unaffected manner is playing on Talay’s last nerve, and he’s not sure if Kit is deliberately provoking him or not.
Kit reaches for the folder. “If you’re not going to help me--”
“Hey, that’s not what I said.” Talay snatches the folder back before Kit can take it. “I can’t promise anything.”
“You don’t need to.” Kit reassures him. “Just get me information I can use on Chalam, or OmniVentures, or both.”
Talay’s eyebrows shoot up into his hairline. “You really are serious about this. If I ask you again who you’re doing this favor for, will you tell me?”
Kit hesitates for just a second before responding. “Jet.”
Talay swallows another bite of tuna roll a little too fast. “Wait. Why does he want you to look into OmniVentures?”
“You remember him.” Kit makes it a statement rather than a question.
Kit and Talay had been roommates most of their time at uni, but Jet had been Kit’s roommate the last year. Actually, if Talay remembered correctly, Jet had a brother who was the same age as Zone, or close enough. Which is probably why Kit said that Zone would eventually get involved.
“Of course I remember him,” Talay can’t quite stop himself from rolling his eyes as Kit continues to play deadpan. “But that doesn’t mean I’ll know why he asked you to go after one of the most powerful CEOs in the city.”
“And apparently, one of the most corrupt.” Kit points out. “Honestly, I don’t know what his reasons are. He just asked me if I knew anything about Chalam so I--”
“Decided to rope me in and do the work for you,” But Talay doesn’t sound upset about being roped. “I can try and go back through old files, but I don’t think I’ll be able to find anything new.”
“Never know unless you try,” Kit ducks as a second piece of tuna is lobbed at his head.
Talay rolls his eyes again. “I hate it when you use cliches.”
It’s late afternoon when Kit finally walks out of the mall. Talay has a date with his girlfriend, so he had finished his food and left, taking the folder containing Chalam’s picture with him. So far, Kit hasn’t really done much to help Jet out, but then again he shouldn’t feel guilty about it if there’s nothing much he can do to begin with.
Kit reaches into his pocket and pulled out the last strawberry mini KitKat. It’s been sitting in his pocket the longest, so it’s half melted and sticks to the wrapper. Kit eats it anyway, keeping the melted bit in the wrapper and sucking it into his mouth to avoid getting melted chocolate on his fingers.
I remember someone else who likes strawberry flavor.
For some reason, when Talay said those words, it rubbed Kit’s nerves raw. No, not “for some reason”. For a specific reason--the same reason he started craving the strawberry KitKats and strawberry lattes, and cigarettes. Kit hasn’t smoked in years, but now--right now, actually--he wants a cigarette. Except the person who he’d shared them with wasn’t in the country anymore. Of course, that person would most likely be coming back, but that wouldn’t really change anything.
Something else Talay said was playing through Kit’s head. He was pretty sure that Talay had meant it as a jibe, but now that Kit thought about it, the statement also made sense.
Maybe if you asked him to help you with this ‘favor’, he’d return your call.
What, after all, did he really have to lose?
In Kit’s recent calls list, there’s a phone number with “41” next to it. Forty-one outgoing calls, forty-one voicemails. Kit has read something once about forty-two being the answer to the universe, so many this call would get answered.
He hits redial, and waits.
After the tenth ring, the voicemail recording plays, but this time, Kit knows exactly what to say. “I don’t know if you’re getting these, but this one is different. I need your help with something. This is business, not personal. So, if that changes anything…call me. If not…yeah, nevermind.”
Kit hangs up before he can fumble anymore.
Now he really wants a cigarette.
Or strawberries.
Or both.

"8. First Attempt

Read from beginning: "1. Ignored
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