Kuro had told himself repeatedly that Tationy had only been gone for a week. However, it seemed to him that the separating walls built up over millions of years made mere moments feel like an eternity. Perhaps, that was why he did not want her to leave his side that morning.
They had spent the night in bed, rose rather early, and Kuro was unapologetic when he pulled her into the tub with him when they readied for their day. “You are staring,” She stated softly which elicited a chuckle and a playful tilt of his head. “Why do I get the impression that you are rather proud of yourself?”
“Have you known any Ishi not to be?”
Of course, Kuro did not expect her to respond to his rhetorical question. So, it was not at all surprising when she asked, “How do you want to handle this?”
There was no need for an explanation on what she was referring to, “For now we will keep your current condition between us and those of the Ishi that are in the need to know.”
“Is that really what you want?”
“I spent the night thinking about it,” Kuro stated and then continued quickly, “Generally, events similar to what transpired this week span months and years. Had this thing with that abomination not cropped up, you and I would still be playing the back and forth. I would think that you were and you would suggestively make comments to torture me. Part of me feels as though we lost out on something very important to our relationship because you had to leave to help Mikio.”
Her mouth opened to respond, but Kuro seized the opportunity to reach out and coax her to come a bit closer. Once they were cradled slightly in each other’s arms he added, “I am happy, but I am pissed off.”
As he sighed she rested her forehead to his, “There are things that are never meant to transpire or exist. People that manipulate events which can change how quickly or how slowly it takes for a particular moment to happen. Even go so far as to change an entire universe with one single step.” She paused, “I am scared, but never have I felt so complete in all my life.”
“For two puppets who were never meant to exist, we sure have come quite far haven’t we?”
Kuro loved the way she smiled, “You and I are controlled by no one. Never doubt that the path laid out before us is one of our choosing. If we fail to achieve it…”
With a brief kiss he interrupted her. Holding and kissing her seemed a perfect option in the early morning hours, but Kuro was well aware it could not and would not last forever. Still he savored the taste of her mouth and the feel of her body pressed against him.
There was a bit of disappointment when the kiss ended and her head rested to his chest. Silence briefly followed and then the words, “Nothing happened with Mikio. He kept a respectable distance and for the most part we keep our conversations on point.”
“Oh, should I be concerned about the moments where the two of you were not talking about that abomination?”
“We discussed you mostly and why it was he took it upon himself to take on the burden of Rin.”
“Did he talk about his love for you?”
Not surprising she did not give him an immediate answer which ultimately told him that his brother had. Still he waited for her to respond, “He did discuss a bit about his conflicting emotions. However, it was not in any context for you to be concerned over regarding myself.”
“I want to believe that, but it is very difficult with him being Rin.”
“Your father was never meant to make a home within your brother. Honestly, I cannot say if it would be better for Rin to be removed, but Mikio struggles greatly. You are his big brother whom he respects and at the same time his son who he disapproves of. However, it is not just limited to you. When he looks at Kin, Bak, Nao, and even myself, he is overcome with all of these conflicting emotions.” There was a pain in her tone as she added, “Foolishly he has protected me and even you, but it was never his place to do so. It was ours. You and I are meant to safeguard the Ishi.”
Kuro was not certain what it was. Some might call it an odd tickling in his heart, but he was moved by her words. So much so that he kissed her rather passionately. The bewildered expression adorning her features was cute, but it was the way her breath wantonly told him that she needed more that forced him to grip her wrist and lean in once more.
Still, after nearly thirty minutes and the water quickly cooling neither of them left the tub. Though they did manage to pull their lips off of each other. In a hastened tone Kuro spoke, “Mikio said something similar about being uncertain what would become of the removal of Rin. I wonder why it is that the two of you cannot see it.”
“Mikio and I have witnessed the demise of many vessels. Those who are not meant to house the gods, fall to their mortal condition. Let’s be truthful here, mortality is a state of men. The Kari, the Hamara, the Waichia, and the Tylo all suffer this fate when their body is not strong enough to hold within it the power of the gods. The Ishi, however, have proven to be different. Perhaps this is because Rin was the god that held power over life and death.” She stated and then quickly added, “Mikio feels the effects of not being Rin’s true vessel, but the consequences of that decision are so far beyond what he and I can see.”
“Those vessels of the god that have had their souls devoured fought did they not?”
“Most of them, yes.”
“Who survived the longest?”
“Semei Kari fought for over seventy years, but Mikio has only been Rin’s vessel for thirty-eight. He is strong; probably the strongest being in this world. Still, are the Ishi men? Do they suffer from the condition of mortality? They can be killed, but that does not make them mortal. The truth is, not even Rin knows otherwise Mikio would be able to answer the question of his fate. You might be the only person that knows and the sad reality is that you might not even realize it.”
Kuro’s fingers teased underneath Tationy’s chin as he spoke, “Oh, my father was almost as cryptic as Tearra and neither of them were all that tolerable to listen to. Speaking in riddles and beating around the bush has never been my thing you know and the two of them loved to do it. It is not as though I had long heart to heart talks with either of them. What I know and what I don’t know; hardly seems important after all of these years.”
“So, you make shit up as you go?”
Kuro laughed, “That has never really been my style. I trust my gut. It is as simple as that.”
“What is it telling you about Mikio?”
“If we are being frank, I have never felt comfortable with him being Rin’s vessel. Maybe it would be better to remove the god even if he dies. Sometimes I think so. Other times I am not sure. Would you hate me if I took his life?”
“Are you asking me or Tearra?”
His fingers teased her skin lightly as he responded, “I would be a fool if I did not understand that you and she are one and the same. Even if I say, I want to know how you would feel about it. There is a part of you that would mourn him as your son.”
“Tearra sees all Ishi as her children; there is not one among you that she would not mourn. However, Mikio is very special to her and he is very special to me. I was raised by him and you. There is love in my heart, but the moment he became Rin his fate was sealed. Kazuma will come for him. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but he will. This is the only certainty, but I will not try to stop you from killing him even if I mourn for the rest of my days.”
Kuro noticed the expression upon her face as she looked up at him. It was the same one she had given him all of those lifetimes ago when she read his future. He told her not to. Never once asked what she saw, but here they were millions of years later and she had that same expression upon her face. “Oh,” He made the amused sound he normally did, but no words followed initially.
He could feel it. Something nagging at the deepest, darkest, part of him. The words not spoken were ones he never cared about; his future. He wanted to be a man that made his own path and not have one laid out before him by some god. Truth was, in some ways he suspected that the look she gave him all those lifetimes ago was because she had seen something life changing.
Was it the death of Mikio? Was he to kill his brother? There were so many questions rolling around in his mind, but he did not venture to ask any of them. Instead, he simply kissed her forehead and decided it was best if they got on with their day.