Hiko had taken Friday off so they could go shopping for the house. Initially, there was a certain amount of concern over the fact that he was skipping out on work, but he managed to ease her worries; turned out, Hiko had not missed a single day in the four years he had been the CEO. Never even took a vacation.
Tationy could not help thinking that he was a remarkable human being as she fluttered and flitted about the kitchen that Saturday. It was her job; while Hiko handled deliveries and put furniture in place with the moving men she was given the task of decorating the kitchen. She had been nervous when Hiko asked her if that was alright.
It was a lot of responsibility. At least that was what she thought. Perhaps she was taking it all too seriously, but she had never expected to have a hand in the little details of putting his home in order. The number of times she addressed and readdressed a single aspect was astronomical.
To be truthful, it made her nervous. What if he did not like it? She considered that was why she was probably second guessing herself along with the fact that she had never decorated a single room before in her entire life. It would be easier if her abilities worked around him; anticipating what he liked just by seeing to the heart of his path.
With a frustrated sigh she glanced around. Tationy had already walked from one side to the other with a flowerpot in hand. She had no idea where to put it. “You seem troubled,” Hiko acknowledged though it would be the fact that he sneaked up behind her so easily that made her jump. Tentatively she turned to face him and noticed how he was glancing around. Was he disappointed? That angry face made it impossible to read him.
“Are you finished?” She practically stammered the words as she looked over his sweaty body while waiting for some sort of response. Was it weird? She thought it might be considered such, but she wanted to step in a bit closer and take in his masculine scent.
“Ahh, the last of the deliveries has been taken care of. How is it going in here?”
“Good, good,” She repeated the word twice and then awkwardly and rather meekly smiled. “Does it look alright?”
“Let me see,” He responded as he took a moment to glance around again. It was excruciating waiting for him to give her some sort of acknowledgement that she had not completely blundered her task.
Was that a smile? She really wasn’t certain and she spent quite a bit of time trying to decide as his eyes settled upon her. “I was a little worried you might get overwhelmed. Glad to see there was nothing to be concerned over,” He stated then quickly added, “You did great.”
“Ahh,” He responded. There was some silence that overtook the room as the two stood awkwardly staring at each other. She had noticed all day on Friday that she was catching his eyes upon her and she did not quite understand why that was, but even now. There they were fixed upon her. “Tomorrow,” He quickly spoke, “I need to go and get the other car…”
“I can drive….”
“Absolutely not. I like living. If I have a say in it you will never get behind the wheel again.”
Tationy wrinkled her nose. There had been a time, only once that he allowed her to drive his car. Apparently, having a distracted mind was the equivalent of texting while driving and Hiko had put his foot down for her safety and that of every other driver on the road.
She made a rather annoyed sound, “Pfft, I thought you aren’t afraid of anything.”
Hiko noticeably sighed, “Look. I know you said Anjou taught you. I was hesitant just hearing that, but I gave you the benefit of the doubt. You…you’re an aggressive driver. I get it, but just because you can see the future and know when a light is going to turn from red to green does not mean you do not slow the hell down. Besides, we still need to get your state identifications and licenses situated. It is better, for now that you not be on the road.”
“Why do I get the impression there is a for everyone lingering underneath your breath?”
Hiko snorted, “Trust me the whole nation of Aslann is grateful right now.”
Tationy could not help the disappointed sigh. She liked driving and she got to do so very little of it. One of her best memories was Anjou letting her drive his car up and down the long driveway of the matriarch estate. Still, Hiko was probably right. She hated admitting it because it meant she might never be able to drive herself anyplace.
“I hurt your feelings,” She heard him say and when she glanced toward him to protest she realized his hand was offered for her to take.
Hesitantly, she set the potted plant down. “I just thought I would be able to do what other people can now that I am not among the Yamada. Still, I learn each day that the scope of freedom I desire will always be limited. These eyes, this mind, this … everything feels like a prison.”
As he spoke she placed her hand in his, “There are many people in the world that cannot drive and they make do. Maybe there will be a day when that will change for you, but right now it is just better for everyone if I do not allow you behind the wheel again. Do not get me wrong, I appreciate how your mind works. There is simply a time and a place for wandering thoughts and on the road with other people is not one of them.”
Hiding the disappointment was impossible. With a sigh she bowed her head and only allowed her eyes to meet his again when he added, “This week we will get your identifications. You might not be able to drive legally, but if nothing else you will be able to travel anywhere in the world you want to. Now, let us table this discussion for a bit. I have something for you.”
His words perked her curiosity as she allowed him to lead her through his home toward the living room, “What is it?”
“Patience,” He responded.
There was a part of her that hated surprises. With her eyes, an impromptu secret festivity would be known from start to finish. That might be fine for some people, but Tationy hated the pretense that came with pretending to be happy or surprised when she really wasn’t. Still, standing at the side of Hiko Kari she got to experience true surprises and it heightened her sensitivity and anxiety. Not in a bad way either; well at least not always.
“Please tell me,” She begged which elicited a snorted laugh from Hiko. Despite their time together she still had not told him that when she was around him she could not see anything so it probably seemed ridiculous that she was begging. With a sigh she resigned herself to a different conversation because she was certain he would not come right out and tell her, “Hiko Kari is still quite familiar with my hand.”
“Does it bother you?”
Blushing she stammered, “No. Is it alright though? The paparazzi have been snapping photos and asking you a lot of questions about me. Everywhere we go…”
Hiko cut her off, “You are concerned about this now?”
“I just….wonder to myself what if Hiko Kari does not want people making assumptions about him.”
“The world is filled with idiots that only know how to assume. Too afraid to ask or perhaps to hear the answer. If Anjou and I were walking side by side, no one would think twice about it. A woman on the arm of a man, always leads to speculation and the assumption that they are sleeping together whether I am holding your hand or not.”
“Why don’t you ever tell them that we are just friends?”
Hiko stopped suddenly, “Because it is none of their business. This is not just my private life we are talking about Tationy. Even if I say that you and I are not sleeping together and that we are not dating, people are going to believe whatever the hell they want. It is better to not add fuel to the flames.”
“I am sorry, I did not mean…” Her thoughts quickly distracted as her eyes scanned the living room. “You finished it,” She mused excitedly and then noticed a baby grand piano. Only for a moment did her attention pull away from it, “This is the one that was set up at the furniture store.”
With a simple nod he acknowledged her words, “Why don’t you try it out.”
Tationy was quite excited as she tentatively gave him a look to ensure that it was truly alright. Once she was certain, she made her way toward the piano and started playing. Moments later, Hiko would take a seat next to her.
How long was she lost in the sonata? She was not certain. When she was little it was not uncommon for her to lose hours at the piano. The scary thing was that she could dream while being awake and play at the same time. In some instances she learned pieces of music in days and weeks without any formal instruction, simply by being lost beyond the veil.
“How long have you been playing?” Hiko’s question allowed her to focus on something other than the keys.
“Since I was four.”
“Did your grandmother teach you?”
“No, nothing like that,” She responded and abruptly ended her playing. “This is wonderful. I … I am really happy.”
“You don’t seem like you are,” Hiko stated.
“It is just…why did you buy it?”
“When we were at the furniture store I kept looking over to check on you and .. it was weird. You were looking at it, moving closer, and then this moment of uncertainty would take over and you would back off. I could tell you wanted to touch it. Which got me thinking that I really have no idea what you do in your free time, but something about the way you looked at it told me that I needed to purchase it. Do you like it?”
“Yes,” She responded quite meekly though felt hesitant to tell Hiko that it made her feel as though she was home. It was not her place after all and she was not entirely certain how he would react to what seemed as though it would be rather presumptuous behavior. Sometimes, she hated not being able to tell what was appropriate and not appropriate for certain situations.
Then, the sound of a melody hit her ears and she realized that Hiko was playing the piano. The same sonata she had dabbled in sounded better than it did when she had played it. “You play,” She practically whispered.
With a broad smiled he responded, “You just taught me.”
“I…” She began to say as she considered the moment, “It is true what they say about the Kari then; can you really replicate anything you see performed?”
“See, hear, read…” He rattled off words, “It makes us masters of everything and yet nothing at all.”
“Still I would rather have that then these eyes,” She responded which stilled Hiko’s hands.
“I know it seems like it now, but some day those eyes are going to be a great asset to you. Until then, why don’t you teach me something we can play together.”
Always he managed to lift her spirits. “Alright, but you better keep up,” She stated.
Mere seconds later he laughed while responding, “Just watch me.”
They slacked off on the decorating and organizing, spending hours at the piano just playing. It was nice; like a moment of calm that eased the tension. Hiko read the atmosphere very well; no words needed to be spoken and he seemed to understand that sometimes one just needed to be lost in their thoughts. Perhaps, because he was the same way. Whatever it was, she felt invigorated by the time they pulled themselves away from the piano.
Though, they had not gotten very far in resuming their work when headlights shined into the living room. “Stay right here,” Hiko had told her and she did not dare move from her spot. It was clear by his tone that he was not expecting company which meant that it very well could be trouble.
Through the intercom a voice said, “Are you going to open the gate for me or do I have to climb it?”
There was an annoyed sigh from Hiko as he hit the comm button and responded, “We don’t want any solicitors.”
“Look at you with the sense of humor. Let me in already.”
With an obvious groan, Hiko hit the button that controlled the gate allowing the unknown man in. She wanted to ask who it was, but she did not get the opportunity as he opened the door and there stood a young man. He was clearly Kari by his overall appearance, but he had the bluest eyes she had ever seen which suggested he had Shima blood. There was uncertainty in what that meant for the two of them as she watched the Kari men stare each other down.
“You really pissed your dad off big time.”
Hiko shrugged, “Is that why you are here?”
“What can I say. I heard you got a place of your own and I was cur…” His words abruptly ended as his eyes fell upon her.
“Wow, you really do get all the best toys,” The Kari man stated as he stepped into the house without being invited.
There were probably people that would be offended by his words, but that was not what annoyed Tationy. It was his demeanor. His entire being instantly made her tense and she could not readily explain why. Whatever it was, she was certain she did not like him.
“Are you going to introduce me?”
Hiko simply responded, “No.”
“Come on, why you got to be so rude?”
With a sigh, Hiko begrudgingly began introductions, “Tationy this is my cousin, Sesiago.”
“A Shima word meaning exiled. Did your parents not like you?”
This Kari man thought he was being funny, but in reality his words were cruel. He was a joker. That just added to the very long list of things she was already deciding she did not like about him. “No, they didn’t,” Tationy stated rather bluntly.
Sesiago stammered as Hiko snorted, “Just like your dad. Always putting your foot in your mouth.”
“Kind of walked right into that one I guess,” He rubbed the back of his neck, but never once apologized. Come to think of it, she did not recall ever hearing Hiko say he was sorry for anything either. She filed it away as a random detail that may or may not be important as she eyed the man suspiciously, “Your girl is kind of scary the way she is staring at me.”
“Ahh, she probably realizes you are one of those suspicious characters that her grandmother warned her about.”
“What does that make you?”
“The monster underneath the bed,” Hiko stated.
She would be lying if she said she understood their banter. Tationy was not even certain she could say they were friends. It did not seem like it, but then she was never a very good judge of the intricacies of human relationships. So, while they talked she quietly observed, “How exactly did you find me?”
“The moment you bought this place your dad knew about it. He is fucking pissed,” Sesiago responded and Tationy noticed that his attention was not fully on Hiko. “I know it is not my place to butt into your business…”
“Then fucking don’t,” Hiko snapped.
It was clear by the silence that followed that Sesiago of the Kari was stealing himself, “Look. I do not give a fuck what the hell is going on between you and the girl. All I know is, your father is getting a lot of shit from other Kari about it. Could you make it anymore obvious that you are giving the finger to your people and our way of life?”
“Seriously, you are the last fucking person that should be lecturing someone on what they do. What happened to that Maiba girl you were sleeping with?”
“She decided fucking my dad was a lot more beneficial,” He stated dryly and then added, “The difference between me and you is I do not flaunt what I am doing.”
“I am not flaunting shit; those old Kari are just reading into everything.”
The back and forth went on forever. “Enough,” She snapped and then realized she had when both Kari men were staring rather intently at her. “Sorry….I just,” What was she even to say? The truth was, she did not have the patience for this kind of thing or the understanding of what was transpiring. “Can we not argue in Hiko’s new home it makes it feel ….”
“She is right,” Hiko stated. “This is my house and I don’t need this shit. So, if you want something spit it out or hit the road. Take your pick.”
The room fell silent as Tationy moved away from the piano. Those eyes of Sesiago Kari were still fixed upon her. She did not like it. Didn’t like him. “I am heading to the club and thought I would stop in and ask if you wanted to join me. You can bring your girl if you want,” He responded.
“That is not a good idea.”
Hiko was firm in his words, but she still found herself asking rather excitedly, “Why not? I would like to go. There is dancing right?”
Any opportunity for Hiko to explain his reasoning was lost when Sesiago added, “See she wants to go. Come on it will be fun.”
Begrudgingly, Hiko’s attention fell upon Tationy, “Alright, if you are sure you want to.”
It was clear that his agreeable response went against what he wanted. Had she been given an opportunity to question why she might have, but Sesiago jumped in with, “Wow, you are really whipped. I figured at least a good hour of trying to convince you before I gave up and took off.”
“Whipped, you mean like pussy-whipped?” Tationy very directly questioned. She had heard the term tossed around a few times by Tsubaki. Still, that did not mean she quite understood. Tationy had never been in a relationship so she did not entirely comprehend how it was a bad thing, but from what Tsubaki had told her guys often mocked other guys about being pussy-whipped when they did something just because of their girl.
It was a term Tsubaki hated, though Tationy always wondered why that was such a bad thing. Didn’t it mean her boyfriend liked her if he would drop everything to spend time with her? On the flip side of it, when Tationy asked Tsubaki what women were called when the circumstances were reversed she quickly responded, a doormat.
These sorts of things gave her a headache trying to understand, so she was almost thankful when Sesiago laughed, “Aren’t you direct.”
Her lips pursed and it was clear she was getting frustrated when Hiko stated, “That is what he meant.”
“Well then I don’t understand,” She stated clearly as Hiko made his way toward her. “Don’t you have to be getting pussy to be pussy-whipped? Isn’t that the requirement of …”
She felt his hand land on the top of her head lightly as Sesiago broke down laughing in the background, “Don’t encourage him.”