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03 July 2007 @ 07:47 pm
Going My Way? - Udom and Sakda  
Title: Welcome to The Red Petal
Authors: dhaunea and toxictattoo
Characters: Sakikaze Udom and Sakda Kaouthai
Fandom: OC - The Red Petal
Theme Set: LW1
Theme(s): 2. coffee
Warnings/Notes: None. A tame PG-13 considering the subject matter.

Chapter Two


((author's note: The next morning, following Welcome to The Red Petal))

The next day found Udom eyeing the clock balefully as it cheerfully announced that it was 6 am. Taking out his ire on the chirping alarm wasn't altogether satisfying, unfortunately. He might have known that he didn't have to present himself in Naris' office at the crack of dawn, but no one had apparently told his body.

... which was busily trying to remind him of a certain pair of dark eyes from the day before and the extremely attractive body attached to them. Not that there'd been any shortage of attractive people in various stages of undress leaning across the desk at him, but none of the rest had been quite so blatant about it.

One cold shower later found Udom in Naris' office anyway. If he couldn't sleep, he might as well make good use of his time. The accounting books were still spread across his desk and, with a brief stop for something hot to drink, he settled down to finish the auditing begun the day before. The temptation to check and see what the various employees charged was strong, but he resisted it. He could have a normal social life, now that Chatri was taking his 24-hour on-call work... and he wasn't desperate yet.

Nine o'clock, however, found him again walking through the doors of The Red Petal, although this time, the stack of books beneath his arm was much smaller. With a resigned sigh, he headed directly for the receptionist. "Good morning," he gave her a genuine if slightly toned down smile. "Is the manager in yet?"

The reception area was empty at the moment. The scheduled residents weren't due to come down for their shift until around lunch time. The quiet was a bit eerie without the buzz of soft conversation and music coming from the lounge.

Vanessa manned the small desk off to the side in the lobby during the day shift. It wasn't exactly boring as the desk took reservations 24/7. And the database always needed updating.

When the good looking man came in the door, she stood up and greeted him with as smile. With the load of books beneath his arm she assumed he was the one that Kanya told her about yesterday.

“The manager isn’t in yet, but he should be in shortly.” She turned and gestured to the back of the lobby. “Would you like to wait in his office?”

"Yes please." Udom sighed, shifting the stack of books. "I've some things to go over with him that really should've been discussed yesterday, but... being unfamiliar with the accounts...?" He shrugged ruefully.

"Well, I'm sure he'll be along very soon." With a tilt to her head, she motioned for him to follow and lead him into the back and to the current manager's office. She held the door open for him and waited for him to enter. "I'll let him know you're waiting on him. Can I get you something while you wait?"

"Coffee?" Udom had picked up a Turkish coffee habit someplace, he no longer remembered where, but any coffee would do in a pinch. He settled down at the manager's desk with no hint of being out of place. Any office, not including Naris', that belonged to the Shi Lian was his office.

"I'll let Mr. Therdchai know you are here the moment he comes in." Vanessa left the door open and disappeared down the hall.

Narongvich Therdchai hummed happily as he entered the doors of The Red Petal. While the job did have its stresses, over all it was a very good place to work. The prostitutes housed and employed there could be a fickle and temperamental lot, but with the proper motivation, they were easily brought into line. You just had to know the correct levers to apply.

Vanessa met him half way across the lobby. “There is someone to see you, he’s waiting in your office.”

That brought him up short. He wasn’t expecting anyone until the afternoon. When he got to his office he saw the young man Naris had sent yesterday sitting comfortably in his chair at his desk. He bristled but had the good sense not to say anything. "Good morning, Mr. Sakikaze."

He looked pointedly at what looked to be accounting ledgers piled in front of Udom. "Are you finding everything you need?"

"That and a bit more." Udom turned the one he was looking at toward the manager. "The skimming started relatively recently, there's far more missing than we can account for and it's looking now as if that senseless accident was actually murder - possibly because our dear friend the under-manager was being extorted or blackmailed into the deed and wasn't quite as willing as he used to be."

Three sheets of print-out were spread out before the manager. "He started small, went deep relatively quickly, and then began tapering off again. There was a definite pattern and, if it continued, he would've stopped his financial tampering sometime next week - and he must've known it'd show up on the next thorough audit. That gave him a window of two months to fix things, confess... or get himself killed." Udom looked up at the manager, unsmiling. "Can you shed any light on this?"

Therdchai walked around the desk to inspect the numbers Udom had teased out. Adjusting his spectacles, he peered through the bifocals and made 'hmmm' and 'aaahhh' noises. "I have to admit, Mr. Sakikaze, this catches me off guard as well. I can't recall him mentioning anything but Mr. Shinawatra kept to himself most of the time."

Not to mention this threw himself into a bad light that he had an under-manager skimming the books. Tamping down his rising unease, he adjusted the pages to get a better look at them and hoped that Anuphong Shinawatra had been very, very thorough at hiding his creative bookkeeping.

"We'll be doing a more thorough internal audit over the course of the next week," Udom told him flatly, closing up the account books and making a neat pile. "Copies of your books have been made and we have an outside firm matching my numbers against those of these ledgers and also the Shi Lian official accounts. I'll be here, once a week, to audit the books personally and check the employee accounts until this is all straightened out."

Therdchai was caught off guard and he blinked. "What happened to Chatri, if you don't mind my inquiry?" He waved his hand in a gesture around him. "It might upset the," he paused to choose the appropriate word, "residents to have someone new, someone they're not accustomed to."

Udom gave him a bright smile. "Chatri is undergoing some training for a job higher up the corporate ladder." He paused for a brief moment before leaning back in Therdchai's chair and smiling up at him - this time without the cheer. "I approved his temporary promotion myself."

"Ah, well done for Chatri." Therdchai took his glasses off to clean them. Apparently Udom was not going to get out of his chair any time soon, so he crossed to one of the empty ones in his office and slid into it, hoping to project far more confidence than he felt. "Well, Kanya can assist you with scheduling the weekly audits and if any of the residents give you problems, notify me and I'll do my best to mediate."

"I don't foresee any problems." Udom's smile didn't change. "The Shi Lian is taking this very seriously. A great deal of money, our money, has gone missing. Naris wants it found, so found it will be."

Trying her best to be unobtrusive, Vanessa entered the office with a tray holding two coffees as well as cream and sugar. The tension level had risen considerably and Mr. Therdchai seemed rather uncomfortable.

She smiled at the two men, left the tray on the corner of the desk and escaped. Time enough to find out what happened later.

Therdchai leaned forward and retrieved one of the coffee mugs, giving the other one a wave of his hand toward Udom. He sipped thoughtfully, appearing to contemplate Udom's statements.

"Of course. I can assure you, Mr. Sakikaze, I take this quite seriously as well. I am most willing to cooperate in any way possible to help you with the audit." To do otherwise would be cutting his own throat and he knew that.

Picking up his own coffee cup, Udom nodded to the manager. "I'll assure Naris of your support."

* * *

Sakda had spent the morning out food shopping. It was one thing he hated to do more than anything else - other than clean the bathroom. Cleaning the bathroom ranked right up there with...well...things that were fairly distasteful. However, he refused to pay for housekeeping, although some of the others in the building shelled out the money for it. He lived alone so it wasn't as if he had to clean up after two people.

That? Would have prompted him to hire housekeeping services but only in a pinch. As he was quite fastidious anyway, it was money better spent.

Like paying for someone to do the food shopping.

It was a pain in the ass, especially since he didn't own a vehicle, but a necessary evil. That night, he was scheduled to work the lobby; therefore no private appointments scheduled for him. And the following day he had a regular that demanded his attention through the afternoon so shopping had to be done that morning or he went hungry.

He liked working the lobby, all in all, but the money wasn’t as good as the private appointments. Still, sometimes the friendly competition to snag a high tipper was fun. It broke up an otherwise boring evening if things were slow.

But this food shopping thing had to go.

Struggling with the bags and both hands weighted down, Sakda now had the daunting task of opening the doors to the lobby.

One hand on the door, Udom looked at the young man on the other side, weighted down and not looking any too thrilled. Not bothering to suppress a bright smile, he swung the door open and held it invitingly wide.

The door gave under his push which was a bit disconcerting considering he hadn't put much weight behind opening it. A small stumble forward brought Sakda face to gorgeous face with Udom and the other man was smiling. Sakda returned that smile. "Oh! Mr. Sakikaze, has it been a week already?"

"Sadly, no." Udom reached out to steady Sakda, laughing softly. "There was an error in yesterday's accounts. I had to come back for another meeting with the manager." He eyed the multiple bags hanging from Sakda's hands and shook his head. "Would you like some help with those?"

"I wouldn't mind the help, if it's not too much trouble?" Sakda looked at the bags, then back to Udom. "My fingers are starting to cramp," he said with a gesture. "I wouldn't want to keep you...."

"Today was supposed to be my day off," Udom assured him, reaching to take the bags from Sakda's right hand. "I can spare a few minutes to see to it you aren't foiled by any more doors."

Once relieved of the bags, Sakda wiggled his fingers and then redistributed the bags from his other hand. "Working on your day off? How very dedicated of you." And fortunate for Sakda. With a nod of his head, he led Udom toward the elevators.

Using his elbow, he called the lift and set his bags down on the floor. "I stay in bed until forced out on my days off."

"I haven't had a real day off in almost...." Udom blinked. "I've forgotten how long it's been. That's probably why I'm awake and running errands. I think I may not remember how to have a day off." He groaned. "That's... horrible.."

"I agree. Horrible indeed." Sakda rearranged some of the food in the bags and picked them up again. The elevator gave them a cheery ~ding~ and the doors slid open quietly. "All that work can't be healthy. Fifth floor," he said when he stepped into the car.

Udom pressed the correct button and stepped back. Sakda was far easier to handle this time around, perhaps because Udom was far more confident now that he knew what to expect. It had been extremely difficult to concentrate on numbers and accounts with a very attractive young man literally breathing down his neck and far easier to deal with when looked more or less straight in the eye. "Tell me," he asked thoughtfully, "do you know anything about the under-manager here?"

"Was that the man who died in the car accident?" Sakda tilted his head to look over at Udom, then he watched as the numbers blinked by on the way up to his floor. "I haven't been here for very long and usually we don't have much to deal with the management anyway."

He gave Udom's question some thought. "I heard he was married and had a daughter in secondary school. That's about it."

"Mmmm." Udom was frowning. He'd have to go back to the office and dig up someone to investigate. The personnel files were... lacking in detail to a great extent, apparently. They had very little on the dead man, and it was suddenly obvious that there was information they needed to have. "That's... odd." Very odd. He'd died on the job, so to speak. There should've been some sort of check cut almost instantly for his children, whether he'd been embezzling or not.

Udom found himself staring at the little light indicators as it moved up toward the fifth floor and shook his head. "Sorry, mind wandering."

"It's understandable. You have quite a challenge on your hands, trying to catch up with the bookkeeping of this place." Sakda could imagine it was quite a nightmare in making something that was illegal look and run like a legitimate business. He brightened and turned to face Udom but was interrupted by a second cheery ~ding~ and the doors opened.

They opened on a long hallway. Along the floor, a deep blue carpet runner extended all the way to the other end of the hall and the emergency exit. At intervals along either wall, interspersed between apartment doors were wood tables holding vases of fresh cut flowers. Behind each of those were wall mounted mirrors with gilded frames. He pointed with his thumb and led Udom out and to the third of three doors on the right side.

"I appreciate your help in getting these bags up here." Setting his bags down, he dug in his pockets for his keys. They jingled softly as he turned the locks. He nudged the door open with his foot. Heading straight away to his small kitchen, he set the bags on the counter and gestured for Udom to follow suit. He trotted back around to shut the door behind Udom. "Can I get you something to drink in trade?"

"Thank you," Udom offered, trying not to stare around curiously as he followed Sakda into the kitchen. "Unfortunately, I've been draining the coffee tanks of the establishment almost since I got here." He set the bags down on the counter and gave Sakda a rueful smile. "Any more and I'll end up floating back to the office."

Sakda made a face and started to unload his bags. He'd take care of the refrigerated items now and worry about the other stuff later. "Their coffee is vile, I'm sure you must be tired of it." He smiled and shrugged. "Perhaps another time? I only drink the best," he offered as added enticement.

Udom's own smile brightened. Sakda's small apartment was almost as nice as his own, if far less cluttered, and showed a simple, almost reserved taste and a lot of comfort. It was... welcoming, and a direct contrast to the stark, ugly functionality of the office below. "I'd enjoy that, I think." He flushed slightly, remembering where he was and who he was talking to. "Um. I should be getting back to the office now."

That smile. Sakda was fairly certain that smile had to be the nicest thing he'd ever seen. It didn't hurt it was on a very attractive face. "Of course, I don't want to keep you any longer." He padded softly around the counter to walk with Udom to the door. "Make sure to take the day off, Mr. Sakikaze. It wouldn't do to end up sick from working too hard."

"I'll finish up the day and take tomorrow," Udom gave him a last smile. "See you next week."

Next week. Sakda felt his stomach give a wee tiny flip at the thought. "Yes, next week. Enjoy your day off."

With a final smile, Udom let himself out.