As he dragged himself from bed at six in the morning, he realized that Tationy had never rejoined him. They exchanged words and then plenty of silence. There came a point when she simply walked away and he laid there a good portion of the night wondering where he went wrong in it all. So much for that happy moment in their new apartment together. He had plenty of waking hours to think about it and a restless night as he tossed and turned wishing and praying she would return to their new bed. In the end, she never did.
Finding his way down the stairs he caught sight of her. Barely dressed and standing near the counter, it was obvious she had been doing some things around the apartment. Most likely a failed attempt at keeping busy because it looked as though she had just moved things from one side of the room to another. With apprehension he took several steps in her direction. Tationy did not even turn to look at him, so it was with some annoyance that he sighed and leaned against the counter. He did not like this feeling.
With her body just inches from his, he thought it would be easier to find the words. It wasn’t. His attention drew toward her as she spoke, “We have some things we should do this morning.” Really? Hiko stared at her. Was this honestly how she wanted to go about this? For a time he just looked at her face until she broke down and asked, “What is it, Hiko?”
He tried to keep his voice flat and devoid of any emotion, “Don’t fucking pretend we did not have that conversation last night.”
“What do you want me to say? I cannot make you do something you do not want to do.”
“So, what is this? Are you just giving up on us?”
He did not believe her. It was almost like she was admitting defeat. Was this what she looked like when she was surrendering to a future she did not want? He didn’t like that expression or the ominous aura that was surrounding her. “How many…” He paused only a moment, “How many times did you see my death?”
She seemed hesitant to answer his question, but eventually she did respond, “Far more times than our wedding.”
The life she saw without him, he did not want for her. At the same time, he was not certain how to resolve this conflict. It was not as though his father had ever given him any respect. They could barely say two words to each other without it turning into an argument and the likelihood that was going to change was slim. Hiko pushed himself away from the counter as he directed is attention upon her. His mouth opened, but at first no sound came out of it, “We should probably get dressed if we are going to do those things we need to do so badly.”
“Hiko,” She said his name which drew his attention back to her.
“What is it?”
There was hesitation as she shook her head, “It is nothing.” Even though she had dismissed it, the entire day he could not stop himself from thinking about what it was she wanted to say.
They did one errand after another, even picked up the table and despite, all that time together it felt as though something was looming over them. Why did he feel like there was more to that conversation the night before then just her seeing his death? When they finally made it home they were still barely speaking so when she said his name he was rather relieved and excited. Turning, his smile faded suddenly, “I see your father is not the only one whose expression changes when I enter a room.”
As Tationy moved to stand at his side, he understood why there was an ominous aura around her earlier that day. “Why are you here?”
“Tadayoshi mentioned you had a girlfriend and you were moving into Sesiago’s old apartment … ”
Hiko interrupted, “Since when do you talk dad?”
She made a subtle sound of hesitation, “Every couple of years he and I speak.”
Annoyance overtook his features, “Really? You can talk on the phone to a man you think is so intolerable, but you cannot pick up the fucking phone and talk to your own son?”
“Hiko, I am not here to …”
He interrupted her again, “Why the fuck are you here?”
“Perhaps, this was a mistake,” His mother said as she turned to leave.
“Is that how it is Ms. Kari, you are just going to walk away from your son again?”
Tationy’s words had been unexpected and they stalled his mother’s departure. There seemed to be some amount of hesitation as he looked upon the woman that gave him life, “It is Yamada. I don’t go by Kari these days.”
Hiko snorted as he turned away, “Of course you wouldn’t.”
“I did not come here to fight.”
“Why did you come here? What is the fucking point of you standing before me after all of these years?”
Tationy’s voice was forceful. Different from every other time she had spoken, “Hiko, the groceries need put away.” The sigh that left his mouth was filled with all of his anger and annoyance as he moved toward the counter. At first, he figured it was because she did not want the situation to get anymore hostile than it was. As she got his mother a drink she finally spoke, “All this way from Paris, just because the Yamada have called you. Did you intend to see Hiko on this trip or are you here because of Tadayoshi?”
His body stiffened. Was that it? Did his father push her to come and see him? He waited for some word from his mother, but he could not help noticing how she hesitated in speaking. “I have never stood before one with the eyes of the Tylo. I am overcome by the experience. Tadayoshi said you were remarkable, but his description of you lacked the depth to truly express how dangerous you are. I wondered why he seemed so concerned when we spoke, I understand now. The answer you seek, you already know. I imagine you were not asking for you though, were you Tationy? He looks just like his father, doesn’t he?”
“Avoiding a direct question is not how the Yamada work,” Tationy responded.
“I learned a thing or two while married to Tadayoshi. Some things are better left unsaid.”
“Tadayoshi understands the importance of prudence when dealing with many situations. He is not avoiding, just cautious.”
“I find it curious how you speak of him. It is as though the two of you … ” His mothers words halted suddenly. What was she insinuating? Hiko tried to seem busy, but the truth was, he was just as invested in their conversation as they were.
“If you wish to know the answer to that question, Ms. Yamada, then perhaps you should answer mine.”
Hiko could hear the soda can being set upon the counter as silence overtook Tationy and his mother. There was a part of him that wanted to turn and see their faces, but he did not dare. Afraid partly of what he would see in the eyes of the woman he was in love with and the mother that abandoned him. “Tadayoshi has been trying to get me to come and see Hiko for many years now. He kept insisting that Hiko needed his mother. Honestly, I am not certain what he expects.”
“Yet, you came anyway.”
“I suppose it was more curiosity than anything else. Even now as I stare at his back, I am reminded that he is just like his father. Even if I stayed, I would not have been able to keep that from happening. Kari boys become Kari men and Yamada women feel like their wings have been clipped.” After his mothers words his heart felt heavy.
“You never call him your son, it is always Hiko this and that. Does distancing yourself make you feel better about leaving him?”
His mother avoided the question, “I answered your question. Are you sleeping with Tadayoshi?”
“It troubles you that the daughter of Chilè Yamada, is sharing a bed with your son. Knowing that Tadayoshi never got over his feelings for the woman that broke his heart, is the reason you are so bitter now. That is the only reason you are asking me that question and it troubles me that you are more concerned with the answer then you are with your sons feelings.”
“Perhaps when you have a Kari child you will understand, until then, you are in no position to judge me.” What was this feeling? Did she hate him because his father was Kari? He didn’t understand and as much as he wanted to snap and ask her to explain herself, he just placed his hands on the counter and prepared for what would come next.
“I am Tylo, Ms. Yamada.” There was a pause as Hiko considered what Tationy meant by this statement, “I have seen many things even experienced my life as I raised a Kari child. Casually tossing such a thing in my face, does not change the fact that I have already raised a Kari boy into a Kari man. I was never more proud of anyone in my life as I was him.”
Hiko felt a choking feeling in his chest upon hearing Tationy’s words. It took him a moment to collect himself before he turned and faced both women. It was far harder for him to keep the emotion off of his face when he was actually looking at his mother. He just kept asking himself, what would his father say or do in this situation. “So, you came all this way because of family business with the Yamada and I was what exactly a detour? Did you come to confirm you made the right decision or are you feeling guilty?”
“I do not regret my decision Hiko. Your father was…”
“Don’t you dare,” Hiko snapped. “Not once did he ever say anything bad about you. Even when I was treating him like shit and telling him that it was because of him that you left. He never once blamed it on you.” He told himself to just stop talking as he growled in frustration, “All I want to know is why. Explain or get the fuck out.”
His mother took a breath, “I wanted more. When I was a young girl, I thought marrying your father would be so rewarding. He was the head of the Kari Foundation, a well-respected individual in Aslann, but how he is perceived by the public and how he truly is are two very different things. He did not have the time for us. Even if he wanted to, there was too much expectation for him and while he was off making a name for himself I was at home smothered by tradition. Your grandfather would stop by and help me, but he was just there to ensure I raised you as traditionally as some Yamada woman could. It will be the same for Tationy. Hiko, you are going to be the head of the Kari Foundation and she is going to be trapped at home with a child. All those things she wants are just gone instantly and you will never be around.”
Oddly Tationy was silent as his eyes settled on his mother, “Do you hate me?”
“I….” She struggled with the words, “I hate what you represent. The life I wanted was not the one I got at the side of your father. I had to leave for my own sanity and taking you with me was just not an option.”
“Not an option or is it that you just did not want too?” Her silence was not lost on him. He laughed in frustration, “Don’t come back.”
He yelled, “I said, don’t fucking come back.”
Tationy had showed his mother out, not surprising the words were just not there. He did not know what he expected. Hiko had often wondered what it would be like to see his mother again. Always angry with his father, he realized as he leaned against the railing on the balcony smoking a cigarette that his anger was misdirected. He wasn’t mad at the man that raised him, but instead at the woman that abandoned him. How long had he been standing there? Dazed as his mind wandered to her words and it was only the sound of the door closing that drew his attention back to the present.
Not surprising, there he was. Hiko did not need to ask why he was there because he was certain that Tationy had called him. Even as the rain began to pour down around him, he stood there silently staring up at the sky. He had only given his father a passing glance. Long enough to notice that he was dressed far more casually than he normally was, but not long enough to give much of his emotional state away or at least he thought as much until his father said, “Making Tationy worry is a bad start for your relationship. It is a Kari man’s duty to protect the woman in his life, not the other way around. I could hear the anguish in her voice and it was enough to force me to head straight here.”
“No one asked you to.”
There was a pause that followed that somehow seemed awkward. Hiko did not understand why and as a sigh escaped his father’s lips he responded with, “I’m sorry.”
He tried to hide his surprise, “Kari men do not apologize. Isn’t that what you always taught me?”
“Had I been a better husband….”
Hiko quickly interrupted his father, “Please don’t finish that sentence. If you keep taking the blame, then …. then I have to wonder what is going to happen between Tationy and I. As much as I fucking hate it, you and I are just alike. If you screwed up this badly, what the fuck is going to happen to me and her?”
There was a huge amount of silence that followed. Did his father not have any answers for him? “Let us get inside out of this rain,” he finally spoke and it was with some hesitation that Hiko agreed.
Once they were inside, his father had quickly directed him to get out of the wet clothing he was in. Hiko thought he was avoiding giving him an answer. He could not really blame him, how exactly were you supposed to tell your son that you might have turned him into some insensitive monster that would ultimately destroy any relationship he had particularly with the person that was suppose to be more important than any other. He sighed as he found his way to the bedroom and realized Tationy was sitting upon the bed. She seemed so sad and he knew he could have offered her something by saying anything, but he just kept his mouth shut.
Kicking his shoes off, then pulling off his shirt, he realized her eyes were upon him. He hated that look of sadness that was adorning her lovely features. He bit back the emotion as he stepped toward the bed. Apologizing, asking her if she was alright, both seemed perfectly good options. Instead, he leaned in and kissed her and it made him so happy when she reciprocated. When the kiss broke what he had intended to say was not what came out of his mouth, “It can’t be like this Tationy. What happened last night will never happen again. It does not matter how angry or sad we are with each other. When it is time to be in bed, we are both in it together. Am I clear?”
As she stared at him he thought perhaps apologizing would have been the better way to go and the longer she took to say anything the more annoyed he got. Using his strength he had her pushed down on the bed, his large frame pinning hers. Holding her securely in place, yet still not even a single sound. Was she that angry at him? “Tationy, you can’t just return my kiss and still be mad at me. Please say something.”
Each second that past only ensured that he was losing his cool which forced an annoyed sigh from his lips. It was about that point that he heard it, a soft barely audible giggle. She was screwing with him. He wanted to be mad, but this was how she was. Sometimes, a mischievously little minks appeared that tantalized his senses and pressed all of those little buttons that got him going in every way imaginable. This time though he was not going to let her get away with it. His body pressed firmly into hers as he whispered teasingly along her neck and ear, “When my father leaves, you are going to beg me not to stop.”
He felt the tension from her body, “What are you going to do to me, Hiko Kari?”
Considering his words he laid a tentative kiss upon her neck, “I think it is time for you to lose control, Tationy.”
Even though the moment seemed light and playful, it was far from it. There was still plenty of things left unsaid as he forced her to roll to her back and he hovered over her. She had not said anything, but he had not really expected her to. As he stared down at her, he was sharply reminded that he never wanted to say these words because it was simply not who they were, “I love you. You know that right, Tationy?”
“We don’t say that, Hiko Kari.”
“I know we don’t, but I need you to not doubt how I feel. I need to know that if for some reason I ever end up like … like my father that you will know that I love you.” He could feel her fingers lightly teasing his skin as she stared at him. It was that same look she had given him earlier. Sometimes she was just impossible to read and he could not help wondering if the slow and methodical way she approached answering was because she was looking at their future.
“I don’t think being like your father is such a terrible thing. He is a good man that loves his son greatly.”
His head bowed as he thought of the question his mother had asked her, “Are you sleeping with him? Do you want to be sleeping with him?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. The only man I am interested in is you, if you cannot see that by now Hiko Kari, I doubt I will ever be able to convince you.”
“Then what is it with you two? He is always asking about you and you … ” He was suddenly frustrated again.
Quietly she responded, “I love you Hiko Kari.” His body suddenly stilled, “I want to stay here forever.” She was not talking about the room or the apartment, not even Thacian City or Aslann. Tationy was telling him that wherever he was that is where she wanted to be.
As difficult as it was he forced himself to pull away. Grabbing a shirt he turned to look upon her, still lying in the bed. They had plenty of things that needed to be discussed, but he was acutely aware that they were not alone in the apartment. “Try and get some rest,” he had told her.
Even as he left the room his mind was still on her words. Well, if he was being brutally honest with himself, not just her words. When he made it down the stairs he caught sight of his father. He could not remember the last time he saw him so relaxed. Scanning the room, Hiko realized his father had finished putting some things away and shuffled other things around to make room on the counter.
He had nearly forgotten that he and Tationy had not gotten a single thing done the day before which only made him inwardly sigh, “It cannot all be your mothers visit.” His father was far too perceptive and Hiko moved toward the counter to grab a beer, certain that he was going to need at least one if he was going to have this talk with his father. “Our conversation yesterday was perhaps a bit rash. I think sometimes we both try so hard to be heard that neither of us listens.”
Rubbing the back of his neck, Hiko responded. “Mikio Ishi can see her. Any action she takes he will be aware of it. I do not like the idea of her eyes being used to begin with, but anything she does to help us puts us directly in their field of view. She even says that his eyes are stronger than hers. I do get why you feel it would be in the companies best interest to use her eyes, but I cannot allow it.”
“There are benefits to this action. Consider it a game of Bagola. Mikio is so focused on his opponent in this case Tationy that he cannot see what is happening away from the game.”
“So, you wish to use her as a distraction?”
“I think, what I wish is irrelevant in this matter.”
Hiko frowned as he watched his father prep food. He had not asked him too, his father had simply taken it upon himself to do so. Changing the topic, “You don’t have to do that.”
“I am concerned about the two of you.” Despite how surprised he was by his fathers words it was the ones that would follow that would bring tension to him again, “Why are you fighting?”
As much as he wanted to say, we are not fighting, he knew his father well enough to know that he would be able to spot bullshit a mile away. “She doesn’t like it when you and I fight.” He set his beer on the counter a sigh leaving his lips. He did not really want to have this conversation. It was not as though father and son were exactly good at talking about the stuff they needed to, “Fuck, this is hard.”
“I can count on one hand, how many conversations your grandfather and I had that did not end with me telling him where he could stick it. Growing up with him as a father was different from how it was with you. I did not lose my mother, until much later in my life. It was her gentle hand that kept me grounded, without her, I probably would have been far more difficult than I was.”
Hiko scratched his head as he considered his fathers words, “Why did you ask mom to come and see me?”
The silence that followed his question was not entirely unexpected, but it lingered far too long. “Honestly, I thought it was what you needed. That perhaps if you spent time with her, all of that anger inside of you would be released. I underestimated your mothers feelings for me in this matter. It is because of me that when she looks at you all she sees is the Kari.”
“I am Kari. She would have saw it no matter what.”
His father had not even looked at him as he asked, “Are you alright, Hiko?”
It was the first time his father had ever asked him such a question. The fact that he had was not lost on him and he considered it a moment before responding, “I don’t really know what I expected. Maybe that she would apologize and tell me how much she cared about me. All she seemed to care about was whether or not you and Tationy were sleeping together.” His father noticeably tensed which instantly caught Hiko’s attention, “Do you want to sleep with Tationy?”
Putting the knife down on the counter, his father turned to face him. Hiko tried to keep his wayward emotions in check as he searched his fathers face for the answer, but if there was one there he could not find it. “Yes,” Tadayoshi finally answered and Hiko felt a pained feeling in his chest as he tried to catch his breath, “Not for the reasons you might think though.”
Did he really want to know the reasons? Even as he asked himself that question he responded, “Explain it to me.”
“There is a rather indecent part of me that sees her mother when I look at her. All of those feelings come rushing back and I think to myself if I could just have that one moment. Capture it again. It would be as it was meant to be, but I am reminded rather sharply that she is not her mother. So, many things I adored about Chilè are the very same things, I adore about her daughter. Even if my son was not involved with her, such a relationship would be nothing more than an old man trying to capture something he lost. Something that never really existed to begin with.”
“Have you ever tried to talk to Tationy’s mother? Try to …. I don’t know, rekindle things or something?”
What was that look upon his fathers face? He felt anxious for the answer as he kneaded his hands together, “Chilè disgraced the Yamada. Eventually to the point of getting herself disowned. When Sesiago died, she became a different person. Pregnant with Tationy, she hoped from one bed to another. Even with a wife and a son, had she came to me at any point I would have helped her. She never did though. Not even once. I wondered for years, why it was that she took comfort in the arms of countless other men, but never found her way to mine. Did I remind her of what she lost? Did she hate me that much? It does not matter because the woman I fell in love with, is not the woman that exist today.”
“What if she does? What if there is a part of her still …. ”
Rather suddenly his father cut him off, “There isn’t. The light that shined so brightly in her eyes dulled long ago. What remains is a woman that will sleep with any man to get what she wants.”
Had there been any opportunity to say anything to his fathers words he might have tried, but his father just as quickly as the words left his mouth turned back to the counter, speedily finished prepping the food, and grabbed the big stew-pot that Tationy had insisted they get at the store earlier that day.
With the pot on the stove, the ingredients put into place his father spoke as he tenderly handled the sauce, “Bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally, turn the heat down, and let it simmer for an hour. Anything left over can be cooled and then stored in the refrigerator. It will be good for a week. The two of you need to take better care of yourselves, so make sure you eat and get some rest. Stop fighting over things that do not matter because one day, you might wake up and realize that you lost sight of what was important.”
“Wait, you are just leaving?”
“Your grandfather is expecting me besides it is the second day in your new apartment, shouldn’t you be doing what young couples do? Makeup with Tationy.” As his father walked toward the apartment exit he did not pause as he added, “Don’t make the same mistakes made by your parents, you will regret them later.”
When the door closed and his father was no longer within the apartment, Hiko rubbed his face as he groaned in frustration. “I cannot promise you that tomorrow will be a better day,” He heard her say as she walked lightly toward him.
Hiko instinctively rested his hands upon her hips when she came to a sudden stop. He searched her eyes, taking a breath as he asked, “Were you eavesdropping?”
“If I was, what would you say?”
“I would ask, what is the point of eavesdropping when you can see the future?”
When her lips parted, he focused in on them. What would she say to him? “Things always seem darkest when confronted with emotions we have been burying. Even I have things I do not wish to address. It is human nature that some things no matter how much we wish them to just fade away linger within our hearts. I am sorry, I did not tell you she was coming.”
“Is this another one of those, it was necessary. It needed to happen confrontations like the one yesterday with my father?”
“The reason you hold on so tightly is because of fear.” She paused a moment before adding, “Hiko, you need to confront these things holding you back. Head on like a bull. These moments are important for your growth. No matter how unpleasant they are. Empowering yourself is a process that takes years, but you will never get to the man you need to be if you avoid the things and people that bring trepidation to your heart. I see a future where you can command the world. Hiko Kari, powerful and dangerous. Respected across the planet, but that man will never come to fruition if he cannot command himself.”
“Will you be at my side when I become this man?”
“I suppose that depends….”
He interrupted her, “On what exactly?”
She laughed softly as she pulled away, “Whether or not you are strong enough to hold on for the ride.”
To Be Continued