Miroku stood near the doorway watching Chii as she looked out the window, “The snow is so pretty this time of year. Don’t you think so Miro?”
At first he struggled to respond until he finally braved stepping further into the room, “About what I said in the car.”
Moving away from the window she spoke, “You do not have to apologize, I know you were just upset. Once I found out she was your daughter, your tension made a lot more sense to me. You cannot help worrying about her. It is normal, even with her being all grown up.”
“A parent never stops being a parent. Age does not matter.”
Chii had smiled which relaxed Miroku, “Your daughter is very beautiful. I see hints of your face in hers. You have the same nose, the same eyes, the same hue along your cheeks. I kick myself a bit not seeing it sooner.”
“She looks a lot like her mother.”
“We all have a little bit of each of our parents in us.”
Miroku hung his head, “I am really sorry about tonight. I keep thinking about the things I should have said or did, especially regarding her. I might have been able to spare her some of this pain had I been a better father.”
“You cannot blame yourself. She is gorgeous, intelligent, and look at this house. The bathroom is bigger than my dorm room.”
“I don’t think she will remain in this place.”
“It is lovely. Why would she not stay?”
“Things she has no control over. A face she does not want to see.”
“She has a lot of demons huh?”
“All Tylo do.”
“Are you going to unburden yourself, Miro?”
The way she tilted her head, her soft features, those big eyes made it difficult to say no. He took several steps in her direction, his arms snaking around her waist. Even though her face exhibited surprise she did not tense or recoil in fact she wrapped her arms around his shoulders accommodating by standing on her tiptoes. At first Miroku just took a moment to bury his face to the side of her neck, “You smell good.”
“Miro, you are being awfully forward, did someone spike your drink?”
He knew she was teasing him, “I just need to hold you while I say this.”
“Tationy’s mother and I are still married. Not because either of us want to be, simply because I foolishly kept hoping she would come back. Chilè never wanted to marry me. I was just some good-time guy. She was in love with this Kari named Katsu. She did not feel he appreciated her so they broke up and she and some friends went slumming. Get enough alcohol in you and anyone looks good, even me. So, she and I did what all young people do; thought with our lower-halves. I got her pregnant. Her mother was really traditional. Chilè knew that if she had an abortion her mother would never speak to her again. That meant her only option was to marry me, which got her disowned. My father, Boré did not want us to have Tationy, but Chilè wasn’t having any of that. So, we got married and Tationy was born. Chilè did not want to have anything to do with either of us. She was only around when it suited her. She loved money. I just couldn’t take care of Tationy on my own anymore. The walls were closing in. Started drinking and gambling, lost everything.”
“How long has it been since you saw her?”
“About four years now.”
“Do you intend to get a divorce?”
“She sent me the papers a couple of months ago, they have just been setting there waiting for me to sign them. I know we just started talking with one another, but I like you. I am considerably older then you are. I am a recovering alcoholic, gambler, and I spend most nights playing music in a pub with a bunch of aging rockers. I don’t have anything to offer you other then myself. Would you like to see where this goes?”
“Whether or not you are going to kiss me.”
Miroku laughed briefly, “I like that you know what you want. I like your confidence. You are remarkably emphatic and genuine. I have never been involved with a woman with any of those qualities.” She playfully tapped her lips with her fingertip, “Are you giving me a hint Chii?”
“Well apparently I was too subtle.”
The first kiss he laid upon her lips was soft and tentative, but the second far more aggressive. It made him more than a little happy when she moaned against his mouth and she confidently maneuvered them toward the bed. With him there was no shyness and he appreciated that about her. He did not have to guess what she wanted because she was quite capable of telling him. He told himself that he was older and maturer now, but as he laid the two of them back on the bed he found that his lower-half was just as much in control this time as it was the last time he was with a woman.
He gasped for breath as he nipped her lower lip playfully. He had to slow things down and force himself to pull back, “I am sorry.”
“Why are you sorry?”
“I did not mean for us to end up like this. I want us to take our time. Is that alright?” He noticed that she had a small pout gracing her lips and he thought for certain he had made a mistake, “I promise not to withhold myself from you.”
Her body relaxed as she laid staring up at him, “We will move at a pace appropriate for the two of us?”
“Then I am okay with us stopping here.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course. You have a lot you are carrying and I am certain some of it will affect us. The most important thing right now is for you to sign those papers and start your life over. I know it is scary and I know you were hoping she would come back, but I will be here for you during every step. Even when you are at your lowest, alright?”
“I will sign them the moment I get home. I should, let you get some sleep though.”
“Don’t you want to stay with me?”
“Trust me, I do, but I want to get to know you first and I really hope you are okay with that.”
“I will tell you, if I am not okay with something. I promise.”
“That is all I can ask,” Miroku responded as he forced himself to pull away from her warmth completely.
He kicked himself as he left the room, thinking he was making a mistake. As much as he thought it was a better idea to take it slowly there was a part of him that could not help thinking that he might be doing the same thing Tadayoshi was. Chii was from a different generation. They moved at a different pace. The thoughts that plagued him he was certain were the same ones plaguing the Head of the Kari. How do you stand at the side of someone you are at least twenty years older? He did not even know if it would work out. Chii would probably tire of him. He hated that he understood where Tadayoshi Kari might be coming from and even though he had listened to Kin talk about how he felt about his daughter there was a part of him that worried the two might rush into things like young people do.
Miroku slept well enough considering he spent the majority of it wrestling with number of unwanted emotions and worries. He woke Chii early in the morning and she would join him in the kitchen. Even though he told himself it was probably unwise to play house with her, he still began to make them breakfast. Though there was a silence between them. Not really uncomfortable, more companionable. It appeared to Miroku that the two of them did not need to speak. Chii seemed to be quite capable of anticipating his emotions, probably more so then he was which of course made him wonder what family her blood was from. “The two of you are up rather early.”
“Morning Kin,” Chii spoke as she took a sip of her cocoa as she sat upon the counter of the baker’s oven.
Miroku, however, did not offer a greeting as he spoke, “Chii has an early morning class.”
For a moment there was a pause from Kin, but then he responded, “That is right, I forgot the universities here in Aslann are six days a week. What class do you have this morning?”
“Just an art class. Couple of hours, but it starts at eight. Is Tationy alright? I thought the two of you might stay in bed all day.”
“As nice as that sounds, there is a lot of things to do today.”
Miroku looked over his shoulder, having heard a bit of mirth in the voice of Kin, “What are your plans?”
“Well groceries for one. I imagine you did not find very much in the fridge.”
“We noticed it was quite empty,” Chii responded.
“It has been a while since she has been back here so most everything got thrown out last night after we got back from the store. We only picked up a few things, but kids need to eat, so we are going to do some shopping and get some costumes.”
“So, you will be there tonight?”
“We will, though she is still not happy about it.”
“It will be good for her to get out.”
Miroku silently listened as Chii and Kin spoke, “I talked to Zen about an hour ago. He agreed to watch them tonight.”
“Why don’t you drop them off at my apartment while you do your shopping. It can be difficult to run errands with children and then you and Tationy can get ready at my house. We can all ride together.”
“Sure, though I am betting your daughter is going to be stubborn. Probably will say something about it being an inconvenience.”
“Probably. Perhaps you should invite Tadayoshi to join you for the party tonight.”
There was a soft intake of breath from Chii which told Miroku she was surprised by his words. He had deduced she probably sensed the tension that overtook the atmosphere and the telling sign as Kin began walking away, “Yeah I probably should.”
The heaviness in the room that followed was tangible and Miroku could tell there was something that Chii wanted to say, “You disagree?”
“I do not know Tadayoshi so perhaps it is not my place to speak, but it is obvious that Kin cares deeply for Tationy. Wouldn’t he be good for her?”
“He probably would be, but if he gets involved with her, his life will be rather short.” He could see Chii with her head bowed her lips pursed, “I cannot tell her what to do, but she asked Tadayoshi to not give up on her. Regardless of how Kin feels, she should honor her commitment to Tadayoshi or end it.”
“I agree, but … ”
He could tell she was holding something back, “I just want her to be happy. How Kin feels does not matter to me. If she wants to be with Tadayoshi, then Kin should not interfere with that. If she wants to be with Tadayoshi just to be with someone, that is a different matter entirely. It is not easy being Tylo. Sometimes we make the wrong decisions for what we think are the right reasons.”
“Am I a wrong decision?”
Miroku sighed, kicking himself for not anticipating that question. “No of course not.”
“If your daughter is like you Miro, perhaps you should have a bit more faith in her. If she messes up, it is because she made the wrong decision. She seems to be a woman capable of accepting her own faults and mistakes. I imagine she learned that from you.”
Miroku took the time to consider her words before saying, “Wisdom in someone so young. You will have to tell me if that is your mother’s influence or your fathers sometime. First, let’s eat and get going so you are not late for your class.” Even as he placed an egg on each plate he could hear a soft ‘mmhmm’ from her which sounded happy, almost like she was humming it. Her youth and vibrant spirit was almost infectious and the brooding Tylo found himself inwardly smiling as he thought what an unusual pair they made.
After dropping Chii off for class, he found himself back at his apartment. It did not take long for Tationy and Kin to drop off the boys and while he sat and played with Kazuma he talked with Osa. “So do you like having your own place?”
“It is alright, I asked mom if Kin could stay with us.”
“Why would you ask that?”
“Mom is happy when he is around.”
“Do you like Kin?”
“Yeah. He is really funny and honest.”
“Yes, he tells me the truth and does not say he will tell me when I get older. I think it shows….what is the word? Respect?”
“That is indeed quite respectful of him. It is easier to sugarcoat then it is to speak honestly.”
“Grandpa,” Even though Miroku was not the child’s biological grandparent it made him happy to be addressed as such. “Do you think mom will ever be happy again?”
Miroku frowned as he held Kazuma up in the air and the small child without any cares giggled, “I wish I could answer that, but she has been through a lot. Some people carry a burden so great that when death takes them it is almost a relief. She carries such a burden.”
“You should ask Kin that question, he is better suited to answer it.”
Osa chuckled, “It is alright to say you will tell me when I get older.”
Miroku sighed, “I was never very good at saying the things necessary to your mom. It was always quite painful for me when I avoided a direct question, but sometimes I just did not have the words no matter how much I wished I had.” Even though Osa offered no response Miroku could tell he was thinking about his words. He had hoped as he aged that he would get better at these sorts of things, but the more time he spent with Osa the sad realization hit him that he was still terrible at being a parent. The night dwindled on and little was said as grandfather and grandchildren watched cartoons and played board games until it was time for the Miroku, along with Tationy, Kin, and Chii to head out.
The night was filled with loud voices and good times as Tequila Monsters left the stage and settled in for a night of talking and laughing, “Miroku and the baby-doll, who would have thought it.” Toshiro’s voice was slightly amused as he took a drink from his orange soda. “A lot of crazy things going on lately, my uncle seems to think it is some sort of sign. The apocalypse or something. Sometimes, I wonder about our old families illogical attachments to the past.”
“Aslann was built on the blood of our ancestors. One should not belittle their fight,” Hero spoke up.
Toshiro made a short snorted laugh, “Really, coming from you such a statement is almost believable.”
“What is wrong with you? Not even a drink in hand,” Kuro questioned.
With a sigh Toshiro responded, “Can’t. I am taking Sadamitsu and Tsubaki to the airport in a few hours. Need to have my wits about me driving in this crazy-ass weather we have been having. Have not seen snow like this since I was a kid.”
“Where is Sadamitsu and Tsubaki going?”
“Surprised they did not mention it. I suppose they do not want to make a fuss. There is this big fashion designer in Spain that is looking for the future face for her clothing line. Tsubaki wants to follow her dream and Sadamitsu, is holding her hand through the process. Their plane leaves in three hours, so I imagine we will get going soon. Don’t make a big deal over it though, you know how Tsubaki gets about that kind of stuff. Just let them have a quiet night.”
Tequila Monsters glanced toward the piano catching sight of the two of them. Tsubaki was nuzzling playfully along the neck of Sadamitsu and the cheeky grin told Tequila Monsters that whatever sweet-nothings she was whispering would probably whisk the two of them away to some private corner. They were really an unlikely couple. Through Miroku, Tsubaki met Sadamitsu and while they did not seem to make sense as a pairing to most people in Aslann the core group of friends got it. Sadamitsu was easy-going and supportive. He always put Tsubaki first and that was exactly what she needed in her life.
Of course there was not a single person among the friends that thought the two of them would last. No Tsubaki was the type of woman that wanted more and Sadamitsu was just a stepping stone toward that future. Even though they were all acutely aware, none said anything. There was little reason too. They all knew that Sadamitsu was not the type of man to get himself worked up over a relationship that was just the two of them playing around and having fun. They were simply what the other needed at that time, nothing more and nothing less. “Toast to good fortune, hopefully she finds some in Spain,” Hero responded. It was the easiest way to let the conversation settle, after all talking about that relationship was not something any of them really wanted to do.
“How is Mikio doing?” Miroku asked Kuro after taking a quick drink from his soda.
The somber look in his friend’s eyes told him that the news was not good, despite the words that followed, “No change, but I will let him know you asked about him.”
“What is going on with your hair?” Toshiro changed the topic.
“Just needed a change.”
“Is this because you will be taking over as the head of the Ishi holdings?”
“My cousin is trying to get my uncle Jin to come back and handle the affairs of the Ishi, in Mikio’s stead. It seems unlikely though, the last we heard Jin and Luna were in Venice. I am not really given a choice in the matter.”
Miroku frowned, “Sometimes I am glad I am poor. Do not have to deal with all of this family business nonsense that all of you get sucked into.”
“You say that and yet your family is more oppressive than any of the ones holding on to old ways or dealing with family businesses,” Hero responded.
Sighing Miroku said, “Let’s not talk about that.”
Hero questioned, “What should we discuss? The fact that you are playing around with some little girl and your daughter is with yet another Kari that is not Hiko?”
The table fell silent as the group looked toward Tationy, Kin, and Chii. Kuro looked away quickly, “The way he looks at her, fucking Kari.”
“He is not like the rest of them,” Miroku interjected, “As for playing around with some little girl, it is not like that. Chii is intelligent and warm.”
“All Kari are the same,” Kuro argued.
“Not that one.”
Hero spoke up, “You almost sound like you respect him.”
“I do. His feelings for her are genuine that is the problem. He is going to get himself killed if he continues to remain at her side.”
Silence befell the table until Hero finally spoke, “You could make this all go away Miroku if you simply told her what she should do. If you really think he will be killed, then tell her to tell him to leave. It is as simple as that, unless of course there is a reason you are choosing to remain silent. What purpose does it serve, I wonder.”
Miroku noticeably sighed. Hero knew Miroku better than anyone. They had been friends since they were kids. Every dark part of his life, Hero was privy too. Miroku was certain the fact that he was keeping himself out of matters regarding his daughter and the Kari were not lost of Hero. He probably understood why even though he did not voice his thoughts on the matter. Miroku looked over his shoulder allowing his eyes to settle on his daughter and Kin, “It should be her decision, right or wrong, but I think she is going about it the wrong way. It is complicated enough as it is between her and Tadayoshi, bring in someone like Kin and things….she is playing with fire. It is her life though and whatever I could say would matter little in the end. She has to make these mistakes on her own.”
“Tearra’s path has always been a turbulent one. There were many loves in her life through many centuries, but going against Kazuma…”
“Hero, I know what it could cost her. I do not need you lecturing me. She asked Tadayoshi Kari not to give up on her. If I interject myself in this, I would tell her to go to him and stand at his side. You cannot ask something like that of a man and then do the opposite. Whether she intends to or not, she and Kin are walking a path together that could get them both killed, but definitely one he might not survive. I cannot tell her not to follow her heart. If her heart tells her to run she will do so. If it tells her to run to Kin, then she will do that as well. At this point, I do not think it is a matter of her running toward Kin though.”
“You think she is running away from Tadayoshi.”
“Tadayoshi, Kazuma….” With a sigh Miroku paused, “Hiko. That is who she is running from. She cannot look at Tadayoshi Kari without seeing the face of the man that she loves and hates. We should not even be talking about this. Until word is spoken regarding Hiko Kari…”
Kuro interrupted him, “There are no secrets at this table Miroku. The Takahashi, the Ishi, the Waichia are not fooled by what is transpiring. Hiko Kari has been the face of the Kari Foundation for years now and then suddenly he is no longer there. We are well aware of what that means. Any family of old understands the balance among the Kari has been disrupted. It is the general public that is in the dark. As for Tationy, when I spoke to Mikio I asked him if he thought Tationy was different from how she was when we knew her. He told me that he had never seen her so haunted before. I don’t disagree with you about her needing to walk this path, but we both know her well enough to know that she is the type of woman to move with the current instead of against it. It is easier to just go along with what others want then it is for her to make her own decisions. Some people think this is weakness or her being under the thumb of men like Hiko Kari, but it is simply how she moves through the world. Better for her to be left alone to forge her own path, wherever it leads her.”
Miroku looked across the table at his friend Hero as he packed a small amount of tobacco into an old pipe and began to smoke, “I disagree, but arguing about what Miroku should or should not do regarding his daughter is not our place. This matter is between the Tylo and the Kari. Let us hope that it does not end the way it did before.”
“Hero, I am sorry,” Kuro responded.
There was a heaviness, the entire band was aware of the history between the previous reincarnate of Tearra and Hero. The Takahashi were not as big and powerful as some of the other families, there was nothing he could do when Katsu Kari came and took the young Tylo girl called Itoe. “The Kari have been allowed to do as they wish for far too long. I pray your daughter has better sense then to remain at the side of Kazuma or any man who thinks himself a god among men. I suppose it is not my place to speak though.”
Toshiro stood, “This conversation is getting a bit too heavy and I still have to deal with the lovebirds. I will see you guys later.”
Silently they watched as Toshiro moved away from the table, finding himself in the company of the large group that included Sadamitsu, Tsubaki, Tationy, Chii, and Kin. “He is right,” Kuro spoke.
“How often do we hear those words regarding Toshiro?” Miroku questioned as he tried to lighten the dark atmosphere that was definitely engulfing the table.
Kuro noticeably shrugged and changed the topic by asking, “What is the deal with you and that girl?”
Miroku considered how he wanted to answer Kuro’s question, “Just spending time together.”
“Why are you downplaying it?” Hero took a moment to pause before adding, “You are still the same, falling for a girl without even knowing her. Didn’t you learn anything from what happened with Chilè?”
“We are taking it slow.”
Hero spoke in a disbelieving tone, “Right.”
“Are you going to lecture me seeing I won’t let you lecture my daughter?”
“Well between the two of you I am not sure which of you is more in need of a good hit on the head, but seeing you will not let me say anything to her you are the easiest target.”
Kuro glanced between the two of them and made his escape rather quickly, “Then there were two.” Miroku sighed as he spoke, “If you have something to say to me Hero, just say it.”
There was a moment where Miroku was not certain Hero was going to respond, “I don’t need you back in the bottle or losing everything on the ponies again. Just think before you do anything stupid. This girl, she is weird. You know nothing about her and what she is up too. Don’t let the baby-doll look fool you into thinking she is innocent. There is no such thing as an innocent woman, you should recall that from your time with Chilè.”
“Don’t judge her without knowing her Hero.”
“Take your own advice.”
Miroku found himself slightly annoyed. Hero was about the only person capable of getting under his skin. Standing rather quickly he turned away, “See you tomorrow.”
Miroku had been quiet the ride back to his apartment. He had rushed everyone to leave and even when Chii asked if something was wrong he avoided the question and refused to answer. Kuro had bummed a ride, Tationy and Kin agreeing to give him a ride home because it was on their way, but first they had to pick up the boys. When they entered Miroku’s apartment they found the house was silent and sitting on one of the sofas was Zen. It was obvious he was completely involved in the notebook he was looking over, but his words took all of them by surprised, “I did not think it was possible for all of you to look any more ridiculous from when I previously looked upon you, seems I was mistaken.”
With a frown Miroku wondered when it was that Zen actually glanced at them, it had to have been so subtle that not even his eyes noticed it, but the man was stoic and disciplined, probably more so than any other Kari he had encountered. In fact, there was not a single hint from Zen that he was invested in their arrival until Kuro took a seat on the same love-seat. Miroku noticed that this single, bold, action drew Zen’s attention toward the Ishi with disapproval. Though it would be Kin that would speak, “Well you know we cannot all be stuck in the mud like you and Uncle Tadayoshi.”
“Perhaps if more of the Kari behaved themselves with dignity instead of lowering themselves to the standards of other families…” Zen quickly halted his words, though Miroku was certain that the remainder of his sentence was something about them not being in the state they are in now if the Kari behaved themselves.
Clearing his throat Miroku quickly spoke, “Thank you for watching my grandsons while we were out, by the way, this is Kuro Ishi.”
Zen had not offered a single ‘you’re welcome’ only directing his words in regard to the latter part of Miroku’s words, “I am aware of whom he is.”
“Oh.” Kuro’s response was amused, “I am quite humbled that the ‘shield’ of the Kari has taken it upon himself to know this lowly Ishi.”
“Well this is awkward,” Tationy responded as she slipped into the bedroom where the boys were closely followed by Kin.
Zen, however, offered no response, simply closing the notebook as he stood. “I have business that needs attending, if I am not needed any further.”
“Business at this hour?” Miroku questioned.
“Money doesn’t sleep,” Zen responded simply.
“So, I take it Zen you will be heading to the Kari tower?” Kuro asked.
“I do not believe I gave you permission Ishi to call me by my given name.”
“Forgive me, Lord Kari. This humble Ishi sometimes forgets his place.”
Miroku inwardly sighed, thinking this might turn into an argument. Kuro had never been the type of man to ‘know his place’. He always said and did what he wished, a free spirit some might consider him. Though he had to admit to himself that this was the first time he had seen him purposely antagonizing someone.
Zen stopped before Miroku, not even giving a passing look toward Chii who was standing near him. Kuro had leaned himself against the wall behind Zen, though whether or not Zen noticed or was concerned was not displayed upon his features. “I would like for you to come speak with me at the Kari tower within the next few days, Miroku. There are some matters that you and I need to discuss.”
“In mixed company the reasons why are unimportant. I am available most days, simply stop by.”
Hesitantly Miroku responded, “Alright.”
“Seeing you are heading out to work on business, I will catch a ride,” Kuro spoke directing his attention toward Zen and then quickly added, “I am on your way.”
“Whatever nefarious intentions you have Ishi, keep yourself in check. I am not someone you trifle with,” Zen spoke as he grabbed up his coat.
Kuro chuckled, “I would not dare act against the Kari shield. I imagine you do not get such a position without being quite a dangerous man.”
Miroku stared toward the door as he watched the two interact. The behavior of Kuro was suspicious, but he had little time to concern himself over what troubles his band mate was going to get up too. With a sigh he turned toward Chii, “You must be awfully confused.”
“Yes, but it is alright. Miro’s life is filled with many interesting people.”
Miroku had remained silent when Tationy entered the room, “Sorry am I interrupting?”
“Of course not.”
“Where is Kuro?”
“He is getting a ride from Zen.”
“Oh, alright. Well that saves me telling him it will be a bit longer.”
“The boys do not want to get up?”
“Well they are dragging butt just a little. They are working to gather up their stuff.”
“I will go and say goodnight,” Miroku voiced as he slipped into the other room and then returned a short time later. “Chii and I are going to bed.” There was a look of surprise on her face as much as there was on his daughters. “Show yourselves out when you leave.”
“Dad, is something wrong?”
“Just tired,” He responded though he was certain his daughter could tell it was more than that as he walked away tugging Chii along behind him. Even though it was not his intention to have her stay he was much too tired to take her home.
Once in his room, he let her hand go searching through a dresser for something for each of them to wear. Without word he laid something on the bed for her and disappeared into the bathroom. Had he taken a moment to think about how it might seem to her, he would have handled it differently, but between Zen wanting to speak with him, Tationy and Kin, and the argument with Hero his mind was much to preoccupied to appreciate how it might appear to Chii. When he entered the bedroom he caught sight of her sitting on the floor.
“What are you doing?”
“Ssshh,” She responded, “I am trying to listen to Tationy and Kin.”
“So, you are eavesdropping.”
“Something is wrong.”
“What do you mean something is wrong?”
“They were tense all night. I thought at first I was just reading into it, but they barely said two words to each other and when they finally did speak it was very short sentences.”
“Why exactly is that our business?”
“She is your daughter Miro, aren’t you worried?”
Miroku sighed as he lifted an empty glass from the nightstand and moved toward her. When he crouched down he offered it to Chii, “I am worried about her. However, it is complicated and there is little I can do about it.”
“I think that is just what you are telling yourself because you do not wish to get involved,” She responded as she glanced toward the glass accepting it graciously before placing it to the door to listen again.
“Things are not as simple as you make them out to be,” He responded as he leaned against the wall. He could hear the voices of Tationy and Kin, muffled though they sounded slightly heated.
“Perhaps I am over simplifying things, I am dealing with partial information. You on the other hand have had a lot of years to deal with things or not deal with them. I think the later seems more likely in your case, considering what I know about you.”
“Are you trying to start an argument?”
“No, I am simply being honest.” There was a pause as he considered her words. Sadly she wasn’t wrong. He avoided anything he thought was unpleasant, a terrible habit he passed onto his daughter. He considered often that part of why he drank was to forget and now that he was sober he had a lot of time to think about those things he had tried to forget, “I wonder why they are so angry with each other.”
Her soft voice pulled him back to the present, “They are quite different and both dealing with feelings they are trying to ignore.”
“Do you think she likes Kin as much as he likes her?”
“What makes you think he likes her?”
“Well it is pretty obvious with how he looks at her. I really thought they were a couple when I first met them.”
“He is in love with her.”
“That disappoints you?”
“It does and it doesn’t. I am happy that she has a responsible young man that appreciates her, but he is still Kari. Putting himself in the middle of Kazuma and Tearra, will get him killed.”
“Miro I don’t really understand.”
Miroku sighed, “The world was formed by a god called Kazuma. You might be aware that many within Aslann still worship him. There were things about Kazuma that he hated. These things he considered weaknesses, so he divided them up giving the unwanted parts of himself to three other gods called Rin, Hisoka, and Ryozo. Those emotions got the better of all of them and they did battle against one another in the heavens and eventually even upon the Earth. Time moved differently then, so it is only speculation how many years passed as they battled one another, but on the site of one of their greatest battles a single flower rose up amid the carnage.”
He realized that her attention was completely upon him when he heard the sound of the glass being set upon the floor, “What does this have to do with Tationy and Kin?”
“That flower was Tearra, the only female among the gods. Kazuma instantly fell in love with her. They built the world together. Kingdoms arose, mankind was created, but Kazuma was not a benevolent god. He cared nothing for mortals and there was a part of Tearra that refused to look upon her King because of it. There is a lot that happened, but as the story goes a demon named Kisho manipulated the gods and one by one they fell to mortality. Kazuma as a mortal could not look upon his queen without feeling disgust. As a mortal she embodied everything that he hated thus his pride kept them apart. It is said that the gods are forced into an existence of suffering as they are reincarnated over and over again.”
“So it is some sort of fairy tale.”
“That fairy tale has cost the lives of many of my family. There are old powers within Aslann that still believe in it and will do anything to reunite Tearra and Kazuma, even kill people. My daughter is the embodiment of the goddess and Kazuma is in the form of a Kari called Tadayoshi. If they do not find each other, the same nightmare that has haunted my family for centuries will continue.”
There was a small gasp of breath, “You really believe in this.”
“Members of my blood have been taken by the Kari simply because they believed them to be the reincarnate of the great goddess. We have been hunted and killed. Many Tylo have gone so far as to forbid the birth of female children, even though males are just as much at risk. Kazuma is God, Tearra his queen. Tadayoshi if he stays true to his natural from, will kill anyone that stands between him and her. I understand if you want to leave.”
“Why would I want to …” Her voice halted as though she realized why, “Whatever this madness is, it will be alright. I wish I understood better the plight you have gone through that you have seen. The way your aura darkens when you talk about it…”
“Aura, emotions, whatever you want to call them. When you speak of such things, there is this darkness that engulfs you. It feels heavy, like you have seen too much.”
Miroku stood and offered his hand to her. At first she seemed hesitant to take it, but eventually she moved with him toward the bed. He considered her words about auras as he laid himself upon the bed and coaxed her to join him. He noticed how she fidgeted, but eventually relaxed and he considered her reason for doing so was because he was staring at her face. Her question though would give him an answer about why she was fidgeting that he had not considered, “Are we going to have sex?”
“Do you want to have sex?”
She noticeably blushed, “I just thought seeing you…” There was a pause and he could tell she was searching his face for an answer, “I am sorry I misunderstood. I thought seeing you told your daughter we were going to bed that we were….well I guess I should have taken your words literally instead of reading into them.”
“Intimacy is more important to me. If I wanted a purely physical relationship, I would have taken you home that first night.”
“I understand, might I ask though if this is because of Tationy’s mother?”
“Chilè had no interest in knowing me. Had there been any point during our relationship that Katsu arrived to take her she would have gone with him.”
“You seem so certain.”
“What was in her heart was clearly seen.”
Chii chuckled softly, “What does that mean?”
“It means her heart was not hidden to me.”
“Yet you stayed with her.”
“She is the mother of my daughter. I wanted us to be a family. We sacrificed so much to have Tationy.”
“Do you regret it?”
“I regret that I cannot protect her from her fate. I do not regret bringing her into this world.”
“So what happens to Tationy if she and Tadayoshi never get together, what if she falls in love with someone else?”
“She was in love with someone else. She and Hiko, Tadayoshi’s son were together. She loved him despite, what he did and he loved her.”
“Where is he? Why are they not together?”
“That is not a question I can answer.”
“You say that and yet I can tell you have an answer. Is this part of the complicated nature of this matter?”
“Alright, I will not force you to tell me. Instead, I would like to know what happened between you and Hero.”
“I am not certain. He does not like you or maybe it is trust. He thinks I am rushing into things like I did with Chilè. Hero often sees the bigger picture of a particular situation so to be honest, I am not sure what it is.”
She pouted, “So, he does not like me then?”
“I don’t honestly know,” He reached out and brushed a strained of hair from her face, “Don’t let it bother you, it might have just been a sour mood.”
“If he does not like me will it change your opinion of me?”
“Only you have that sort of power.”
“You and Hero have known each other for a long time, right? Maybe he is protective of you Miro after what happened with Chilè.”
“That certainly could be the case,” His fingers teased along her back, “How about we discuss something else and you let me rub your back for a bit?”
Miroku was startled a moment as she quickly pulled away from him and before he could even protest she had her top off. She certainly was not shy, at least not with him as she crawled herself back onto the bed and offered her back to him. His eyes widened when he saw the small little tattooed mark on her back, he got it now. He understood what it was about her that Hero did not like. His finger trailed lightly over the mark, “You are Kensuku.”
“How do you know that?”
“I figured your garbled language skills meant you have spent time abroad, but this mark tells a different story.”
“My tattoo,” In her voice there was hesitation and uncertainty, “I was born in Japan. My father is Shiseki Sou and my mother Masae. She did mention something about her family name being Kensuku, but other than that, I really do not know much about them. After my parents died, I thought coming here might help me connect with her, seeing I … I never felt like I knew her.”
“Not really. I feel like I know less now.”
“Centuries ago the Kensuku where one of the largest clans in all of Aslann. They were only rivaled in size by the Takahashi. Often the two clans warred over land and power. Still to this day they are not on friendly terms. It makes sense now why Hero does not trust you.”
“Oh that is right, I do recall his family name being Takahashi.”
“It is a centuries old feud, much like the history between the Tylo and Kari, the Takahashi and Kensuku have shared their own history. Many of the great families have blood that can be traced to the oldest and most powerful clans in Aslann. The stories say that the Kensuku were so strong that they could shatter a sword blade with just a finger. Truth is, they drew their unique abilities from the ‘magically’ infused tattoos that adorned their bodies. The tattoos of the men varied, the women were adorned in ones that made them sensitive to emotions, emphatic. It made them just as dangerous as the men because they were capable of reading a situation just by the emotions of those around them. They were one of the most spiritual clans of Aslann and even to this day they are said to protect the images of their Goddess Tearra.”
“Miro, how is it that you know all of this?”
“My father drilled the history of Aslann into my head and that of my brothers when we were small.”
“You have brothers?”
“Two, Moromari and Hayato.”
“Lucky. I always wanted a brother, but it has always just been me.”
Miroku chuckled quietly, “I do not think either of them would think of it as being lucky.”
“Do you not get along?”
“It is complicated.”
“Like everything else in your life?”
“I feel like there is so much weighing you down and that when I finally know it all…”
“Are you are worried you might not have the strength to help me carry it?”
The way her head bowed gave him the answer to his question even if that was not her intention. He remained silent because he was certain that any words he spoke at that moment would not bring her any comfort. He had not even touched on everything. There was darkness around him and the lives of all of his family and he wondered if perhaps it was too much to bring someone into his life, into the craziness. Happiness might well be a luxury for a man like him and as he trailed his finger lightly over her back, he realized that perhaps even in the midst of his caution they were progressing too quickly.
To Be Continued