They had taken a car service to the hottest club in Aslann or at least Sesiago had said it was. Whether or not that was true she did not know, but she had read about celebrities and the rich alike hobnobbing in Club Violate’s V.I.P. section. So, she assumed there was some credibility to his words.
Seated among the elite, the boys instantly began drinking. Hiko had ordered her a virgin daiquiri with strawberries. Staying true to his words that she should not ever drink. They were joined by a rather tall man that Sesiago called Micha and the conversation began to flow though she was hardly paying attention.
She was getting used to the paparazzi being around when they were moving about the city, but it was still weird for her to see how quickly traffic stopped when Hiko Kari walked into a room. He was famous and in an odd way it afforded her a certain amount of celebrity as well; though, if she was honest with herself it still felt a little weird just being known as Hiko’s girl.
Tationy had been accustom to being unseen, unknown, and even invisible. She spent her entire life being hidden away. So, in that regard she was used to it and being called Hiko’s girl did not bother her. However, there was always the troubling matter of how these things reflected upon him. She did not wish to be a stain upon the man that had graciously taken her in.
It was far too easy to distract herself with the loud music and smokey air not to mention the unsubtle glances. It made her acutely aware that people might have some sort of perception about their relationship. Which led her to asking herself once again if Hiko might be troubled by it all.
Those wandering thoughts, how easily they took their own journey. Thankfully, Hiko was able to easily bring her back to the V.I.P. section by placing his hand upon hers. That was when she realized she was leaning in close to him, had her hand on his arm, and her other on his knee. How forward she thought she was.
She was half a second away from extracting herself from the closeness she had adopted during her wandering thoughts, when she noticed that Hiko was being rather quiet. The most he offered her was a single pat upon the top of her hand. While, the bulk of the conversation taking place was happening between Sesiago and Micha.
“Where is your sister anyway?”
“Dude, don’t even fucking go there.”
“Come on, I am not going to hurt her.”
The man called Micha laughed, “You think I am worried about Mikaela? Fuck, she will eat you alive.” Sesiago had laughed and whatever smart-ass remark he had intended to say was cut down swiftly, “She would never put up with your shit, besides don’t you have a girlfriend?”
“Come to think of it,” Hiko interjected, “What really happened between you and her?”
Sesiago shrugged his shoulders, “She wanted more than I was willing to give so she got it someplace else.”
“From your dad?”
With a laugh he shook his head, “Who the fuck knows. All I can tell you is that the old man was all ready and willing to go before Uncle Tadayoshi to ask for permission for me to marry her. Then, at the last minute, he changed his mind and she told me she was seeing someone else. Take it, however, the fuck you want, but I don’t believe in coincidences.”
There was a moment of silence before Sesiago added, “Women are bitches. They might act like they are picky about who they get with, but in reality they will spread their legs for any man that will give them what they want. No offense Tationy.”
She did not even bother glancing toward him, “I am not a woman.”
With a barking laugh Sesiago asked, “What are you then?”
“Just Tationy,” She stated simply which silenced the three men she was with.
There was a part of her that understood why the woman involved might have run away as fast as she could, though that was still hardly the reason she disliked Sesiago of the Kari. It was not his words, the way he spoke them, nor the way he looked at her. No, something else. It still lingered right where she could not quite put her finger on it.
“Does your girl get offended Hiko?”
“Were you trying to piss her off?”
“Can’t say that I was,” Sesiago responded dismissively while gesturing with his hand.
Tationy thought for certain his words were more reaction based; he wanted one and she did not give it to him. He seemed foolish and not just because he thought she was the type that would get up in arms over a person’s words.
She did not want to engage Sesiago too much in conversation. So, it became very easy to allow herself to be distracted looking for whomever it was he might be gesturing to. Eventually, she spotted a couple of girls that were making their way over.
Tationy stood because the men did and as people shuffled into seats she felt foolish because there was barely any room for her. That was about the point, Hiko had pulled her down upon his lap.
His voice was low and raspy, “Don’t pay attention to anything Sesiago says. He talks a lot of shit.”
“He is a non-factor,” She stated simply. “I like Aoba better and we both know what I think of him.”
Hiko snorted, “Ahh.” It felt strange. Not just with how abrupt their conversation was, but it seemed to her that Hiko was focusing his attention upon something else. Where was he? What was he thinking about? She wanted to ask, but her mind was pulled to the flirting being done by Sesiago.
The girls laughed and flirted back. Tationy thought it was a little weird because nothing about Sesiago seemed charming. Though she had considered that her perception might be clouded due to her simply not liking him. It was easy enough to push aside the back and forth and focus on the women that had joined them. Both of whom she recognized.
The blond she knew as Moochie Sweela a girl she attended school with. Though, they had never spoken and even as she sat among the group in the V.I.P. section she did not even bother offering Tationy a hello.
The other girl, while she did not know her name, she recognized from the beach. Which elicited those same feelings about whether or not Hiko was interested or noticed. She was pretty. Not tall like Moochie, but the unknown girl had a nice body and a pretty face.
They were both wearing sexy dresses, which drew attention to the fact that hers while flirty and fun, was hardly the type of thing that a guy would want to take off. At least that was how she felt about it all. With a deep sigh she resigned herself to the fact that she would probably die a virgin.
“Do you want to dance?” Hiko asked and Tationy deduced that he thought her visceral response had something to do with that. It was easier to just say yes. After all, it was not a lie. She did want to.
“That is a good idea. Why don’t you ladies take Tationy out on the dance floor for a bit,” Sesiago took charge.
Micha interrupted, “We cannot stay all night.”
Tationy noticed how the expression of Moochie changed quickly, “You promised us we could stay for a bit Micha. Why are you always ruining everything?”
“Calm down, hun.” The girl from the beach responded, “Micha has to work tomorrow. We knew that when we asked him to play designated driver and chaperone. He has to get his sleep.”
“I can take them home,” Sesiago stated.
Tationy listened to the back and forth and thought how petty it all sounded. Maybe because she was just happy to be there and they were pouting because they had to leave early. Was that what it was like? Did people just spend all of their time upset over things that did not matter? It conjured up all kinds of questions as she pulled herself away from Hiko, “I am going to dance.”
She was grateful for the music; much to her surprise it was not long before both Moochie and the unknown girl joined at her side. Introductions were made briefly and she learned that the other young woman’s name was Mikaela. Tationy assumed she was the same one mentioned to be the sister of Micha. Still, she was not on the dance floor to be sociable. She wanted to have fun and be free.
Tationy loved it. The sights and the sounds, the way the lights hit her face and the heart shaped bubbles broke when they made contact. She was wet and sticky and simply did not care.
Then, much to her disappointment a slow song played. People began to pair up. Of course, she was left standing there looking foolish until she heard a voice ask if she wanted to dance. Excitedly she almost said yes, but before she could even utter the word there was Hiko Kari telling him to get lost. It is alright like this, she thought as he pulled her in close to him.
His eyes were locked completely on her, but there was noticeable tension in his body. Both of which made her question his decision to cross the club to the dance floor. Though he offered her no opportunity to ask, “Dancing is probably not a good idea for you either.”
“Are you putting it on my banned from list?”
“I might have to.”
“Why? No one rushed to dance with me.”
“For someone that has the cursed eyes of the Tylo, you sure do not see much.”
“I prefer feeling things,” She stated.
Her stomach flipped all about when he tightened his grip upon her hips, “What are you feeling now?”
“I feel,” She said as her eyes were drawn toward his lips. As much as she wanted to tell him that she was excited and hopeful for his mouth to gently caress hers, she found she was not brave enough to say the words. He was Hiko Kari; infamous and powerful. What did she have to offer him? “A little tired,” She stated as she looked away.
“Then we should head home,” He responded. There was a youthful part of her that longed for there to have been some disappointment in his voice. At least a little hint that he was feeling the same turbulent emotions that she was, but if Hiko felt any sort of way for her it was not evident. At least not to her.
There was a strange atmosphere on the car ride home. Initially, she tried to pay it no mind as Sesiago was dropped off at his place and the driver continued on to take Hiko and Tationy home. He was sitting close, despite all of the free space and there were a few times his fingers would lightly touch hers. An accident; certainly that was possible and she was quite desperate not to read into it.
When they got into the house she figured the two of them would go their separate ways. The words goodnight were ready to be spoken and she had begun to move toward the stairs when he grabbed her arm and twirled her about. The unexpected movement, caught her off guard and down she went only for him to land on top of her. “Sorry,” She stammered then realized he had gripped her wrist. It was not tight; he was not hurting her, but that same atmosphere she felt on the ride home had taken on an unexpected thickness.
“Hi,” He managed to say in a rather raspy voice.
“Are you drunk?”
“Ahh, I might be slightly intoxicated,” He answered as he brought his hand to her face.
That same feeling she felt when they were on the dance floor was clouding her mind. Where she drew the strength from she did not know, “Do you want to kiss me?”
His expression was unreadable, even as he leaned down. Excitedly she thought for certain that this was going to be the moment of her first kiss, but he deviated and nuzzled his face to the side of her neck. “You smell so good,” He whispered the words.
Tationy only had mere moments to take in the sensation of his hot breath teasing along the contours of her neckline. He had inhaled deeply and exhaled through his nose, which tickled and excited Tationy. Though, just as quickly as it happened it ended as he rolled off of her. With a sigh he laid at her side and Tationy was left reeling in wonderment.
She could still feel the warmth on her neck. Not to mention the way her stomach was fluttering all about. Never before had she anticipated anything the way she did his kiss. Still, the fact that it did not happen once again left her wondering if she was reading too much into the way he looked upon her that evening.
To say she was disappointed would be an understatement. Certainly, part of it might have been the fact that she just wanted to experience some of these romantic moments that Tsubaki filled her head with. The person did not matter, but at the same time it was difficult to hide the fact that she had bit of a crush on the man known as Hiko Kari.
“Did you have fun tonight?” He asked which broke up the silence.
“It was alright,” She responded.
“That does not sound like you enjoyed yourself.”
There was a somberness to her words, “You will not tell me if you want to kiss me, so will you at least answer something else?”
A deep notable sign overtook him, “Go ahead and ask.”
“Do you think those girls were pretty?”
“What girls?” He asked and when it became clear she was annoyed with his response he wrapped his arm around her to make sure she stayed. “If you are referring to Moochie and Mikaela the answer is no. I told you before, I have never found anyone attractive physically.”
“What about me?” There was silence so she added, “You are not going to hurt my feelings.”
“I am not worried about that.”
Was he going to answer? It did not seem like it, until his words stilled her body, “Don’t grow up too quickly, Tationy.”
His eyes closed and he relaxed his hold upon her. It was obvious he was allowing her to leave if she wanted to, but she stayed. Her head rested to his chest, “I don’t know what that means.” If Hiko had anything to say he chose to remain silent, “This body is just a vessel that houses a mind as old as time itself. The only people that get hung up on me growing up too quickly are the ones that see me as being seventeen. I am sorry to disappoint you Hiko Kari, my soul is ancient.”
“What about your heart? Is it as old? Does that tempered spirit of yours mean that you know it all? To me, your asking if I am going to kiss you comes off like asking me for a soda. It should be a big deal, Tationy. Something special; shared between you and someone you love.”
“You seem to think I am capable of such feelings. If you have not noticed Hiko, I am not exactly moved or normal. My heart is not stirred and dominated by unstable and wild emotions.” Her eyes closed as she added, “No one will ever be able to love someone like me.”
Tationy could feel the steady rise and fall of his chest. He was not sleeping, but he was not speaking either. His intoxicated state was clearly heightening his emotions, so in that regard she could understand why he would choose to fall silent.
They remained that way for hours. The two of them just lying upon the floor with no words to share. When his body finally gave out from exhaustion, she pulled herself away. Stepping into the garden she allowed her mind to wander. Really, she did not understand what he expected of her.
Even though she was seventeen Tationy felt old enough to know her own feelings and what she wanted. Certainly, she had plenty of moments of wandering thoughts while being bombarded by new experiences and overtaken by excitement. It was different from being naive; though certainly people could confuse the two. Imagine knowing everything there was to know in the world and yet never having experienced any of it for yourself. That was her life.
It was an impossible thing to explain to another person. How do you tell someone that you have already experienced your first of everything and yet it was not with your own body? She had made love, kissed a boy for the first time, felt heartache, and was even raped; all of it happened beyond the veil and while one could argue that it was just glimpses in the lives of others or even into her own, they were no less real to her.
With a sigh she tried to relax her body and clear her struggling thoughts, but there was not a moment for any reprieve. Lurking in the shadows was a man. She could feel him through the veil and without any hesitation she turned to catch sight of the invader upon the lands of Hiko Kari.
He was casual; leaning against a column, his eyes fixed upon her, and there was no way she would not recognize him. She might not be the most skilled at seeing beyond the veil, but this man was no ordinary creature. A snake; the first of his kind. Born of the god Rin, he had existed when the first men walked the earth. He was Ishi and there was no doubt he had come to take her away.
“Playing house does not suit you, baby snake.” The man spoke in a lazy drawl. His cadence slow, his tone tentative. “Among the Kari you hide; how foolish you are to think they will ever look past your fangs. That beast passed out on the living room floor is only keeping you around because you are valuable.”
“Don’t speak on things you don’t understand, Kuro of the Ishi.”
“Oh,” He began in a rather amused tone, “So, those eyes are not as broken as they seem. Well, no matter. You are a hundred years too young to face someone like me baby snake. So, be a good snakelet and let’s leave this place behind.”
“I am not going anywhere with you,” Her voice raised.
“Don’t bare your fangs at me baby snake. I know how to use mine.”
She felt tension in her body as she tried desperately not to lose her strength. It was foolish to stand against a man like him. He was old and powerful. She was just a kid in comparison and one that had no idea what she was even capable of. No matter what, she would not backdown. He would not take her without a fight.
Still, even though she had the resolve she did not call out for Hiko and the snake before her smiled the most devilish grin she had ever seen, “Go ahead. Scream for him.”
“There is no need for that,” Hiko stated as he appeared from the house. Tationy tried to keep her composure as her knees buckled from relief, “Been a lot of punks thinking they can just tread lightly upon my land. Clearly, you have no idea who you are disrespecting, snake.”
“Hiko, don’t rile him up,” Tationy whispered softly.
“Oh, maybe you should listen to the baby snake.”
Without hesitation Hiko took a step forward. Even if she wanted to protest further she was certain he would not listen. Crossing her arms over her chest she stared, not at the Ishi, but what was hidden behind him. A shadow; he was not alone. “There are two of them,” She responded.
“Ahh, I know.”
Kuro of the Ishi chuckled, “Tag teaming? Really that is not necessary, he is just here to observe. Besides even with the two of you there is no way a broken little baby snake and a pale comparison of the real deal is going to be able to touch me. Though….” He said as he stepped forward, “I wouldn’t mind going toe to toe with Commander Kari’s modern day imitation replica.”
The Ishi took a relaxed fighting stance as he smiled from ear to ear. It was not cockiness. He was confident that Hiko would never be able to touch him. Still, there came surprise from the man known as Kuro of the Ishi when Hiko didn’t backdown. He took an aggressive stance and the smile that adorned the snakes face faded rather quickly. Something at that moment, switched gears in him.
“Land one hit boy in three minutes and we will walkaway empty-handed.”
“If I don’t?”
“Oh, then I intend to break every bone in your miserable fucking body and that baby snake is coming home.”
It was do or die. If Hiko could not hold his own and land a single blow against the Son of Rin they would be taking her. As much as she wanted to cheer him on, she felt worry in her heart. She tried to see the path Hiko would walk, but there was nothing and her eyes were being hindered by the shadow looming in the background. Whomever he was; he was aggressive and powerful.
All she could do was stand there and look on; back and forth and back and forth. The Ishi blocked him with ease, but there was something with each strike and block. Was Hiko getting faster? She shook the thought away because physically there was no way one could just increase their speed without years of training, but that led her to remember what happened with the piano. He could learn anything he seen done, that meant even the fighting style of the Ishi.
There was hope swelling in her heart and it was rewarded, much to the dismay and surprise of the man known as Kuro of the Ishi. He jumped backwards, extracting himself from the fight and it was clear by the expression upon his face he was surprised. It was not one of those; you win today, but next time things would go differently moments even if it felt that way. Those snakes were after far more than just her.
Still, there was nothing to say or do. Hiko just remained in his fighting stance until he was certain the two men were gone. Only then did he make his way toward her. His gaze was angry and all she could do was look away from him, “Is this how it is Tationy? Do you have so little faith in me? They could have taken you and you never once called out to me. Why?”
“I am not some little girl that needs you to protect her, Hiko Kari.”
“Then stop fucking acting like it,” He responded coldly as he left her standing in the garden.