It was Tationy’s intention to find her way back to Hiko, but the crowd in the club and the pursuing Ishi made that rather difficult. In her panic, it felt as though she was gaining some distance, but she soon realized that was not the case. Alone and outside she backed away from the man approaching her.
“What did you see,” The taller of the two Ishi asked. He was able to close the distance due to his long legs which prevented Tationys escape. “Did you see us?” His questions carried with them a great burden, even more so when he reached out to grab her arm while somberly pleading, “Mom, please…talk to me.”
She had every intention on slapping the Ishi’s hand away, but the snarl of Hiko froze Tationy in place. “Get your fucking hands off her,” He angrily stated as he charged toward the Ishi.
The one he had intended to hit was pushed out of the way and the shorter of the two took the full force of Hiko’s fist. If she had a voice she should have used it then to stop him, but Tationy just stood there in a daze as Hiko pummeled the Ishi.
There was no relenting; since her time with Hiko she had heard the Kari described as rabid dogs. Once they got worked up there was little to nothing that could leash them. This was her fault and she needed to put a stop to it, but her voice was smothered by her own panic and the frantic beating of her heart. She couldn’t breathe.
“Dad,” A voice called out numerous times and Tationy realized that the other Ishi was trying to break it up.
Maybe Hiko was just as surprised as she was by what was transpiring because eventually he pulled back from the battered Ishi and fixed his eyes on the one that had grabbed her, “What the fuck did you just call me, snake?”
The Ishi had opened his mouth to respond, but the words did not readily escape his lips.
That was when she felt Hiko reach out for her. How foolish and weak she must have seemed as she meekly collapsed into his arms. Tightening his hold, he whispered, “I got you.” Even though she felt safe, the trembling of her body had not ceased. These Ishi; this conflict, it was not about them trying to take her back to their clan. It was so much more.
A laugh echoing in the background drew their attention. It started out low and gradually strengthened causing Hikos body to tense. “The old man told us to steer clear of you,” The Ishi growled as he spit blood, “I’m kind of glad we didn’t listen.”
As much as she wanted to remain in the protective embrace of Hiko, she was forced to his back and there was no denying why as she looked upon the Ishi. “You’re…a chalta,” Tationy stammered.
Hiko’s snarl was ever prominent, “I don’t care what the fuck he is. If he and his blood lay a hand on you again, they’re dead men.”
“Oh,” The young Ishi spoke in a familiar and haughty tone, “I can incinerate everything in this area before you even fucking move you piece of…”
“Togore, don’t speak words you can’t take back,” the other Ishi stated as he appeared between them in a defensive stance.
With gritted teeth the one addressed as Togore extinguished the flames in his hand, “Just say whatever the fuck you need to and get it out of your system already, Enzo. I am done with this shit.”
Tationy could tell Hiko was still ready to fight if things escalated, but the tension in his body had calmed. He must have sensed that the conflict was dying down. Though there were no certainties in any situation as he whispered, “Are you alright?”
She managed to stammer, “Yes.”
“We didn’t harm her,” The one called Enzo responded. “That is not why we came here. It … I won’t make excuses for how this turned out, but really we just wanted to talk. Nothing more.”
“The two of you got a funny way of showing it. Chasing her down,” His tone was a sharp snap, “The moment she started running it should have told you to back the fuck off.”
“He’s a kid,” Togore interjected. “Give him some slack.”
“From where I am standing, the two of you have been given plenty of it and you’re hanging yourselves. Now get to the fucking point or were walking away.” There was a lull in the conversation that Hiko did not hesitate to end, “That is what I thought. We are leaving.”
They did not make it more than a few steps before the one called Enzo responded, “Sorry, we caused you trouble.”
Tationy could tell he was thinking about it on the way back to the hotel. Worse yet, he did not say anything to her not even when they entered. He just disappeared toward the bedroom and left her standing by herself.
She could hardly blame him; a confrontation with the Ishi, protecting her, and someone calling him dad. There was probably so much going on in his mind and Tationy knew that she could not keep the secrets told to her by the Prince of Aslann to herself any longer.
Still she did not force Hiko to speak to her. He would when he was ready and it would be several hours before he would emerge from the bedroom. Propping himself up against the wall he stared at her. She hated that she couldn’t tell if he was mad which meant Tationy would have to ask; which she despised even more. How annoying he must think her, “Are you mad at me?”
Hiko shook his head, but didn’t offer any words initially, “I have told you plenty of times that I don’t want to know what you see, but …. that Ishi called me dad. Just….” His words hung there, “Tell me if they came from the future.”
She fixed her gaze upon him, “No, nothing like that.”
With a deep sigh Hiko rather emphatically responded, “Fuck!” No answer she gave him would make him happy from the expression adorning his features and she was a little concerned when he did not readily continue speaking. It was an excruciating long pause, “I need to know Tationy. Why did he call me dad?”
Her head tilted as she somberly considered his question. It wasn’t something she wanted to discuss because in doing so she had to address another matter, “I will answer that, but first I need to tell you something. Please, just let me talk because if you say anything I don’t think I will be able to muster the courage to continue.” He didn’t respond which she took as him agreeing, “You asked me where I was during that last episode and the answer is that I was having a conversation with the Prince of Aslann.”
No reaction. His poker face was far too good for her liking and it forced her to take a moment to try and keep her composure gathered, “He said he had been trying to talk to me since I was a kid, but no matter how many times he triggered my abilities I just wouldn’t see what he was trying to show me through to the end. If it hadn’t been for you asking me to tell you about them ….” Still nothing on his face that would give her some hint of what he was thinking. Did he believe she was going mad? With a sigh she added, “He did most of the talking, wanted me to listen because he only had so much time. Most of which I apparently wasted by being obstinate according to him.”
Hiko snorted as he commented, “He is probably just used to getting his own way.”
“Does that mean…do you believe me?”
“Ahh, it is not the weirdest thing I have heard you say. Besides, it actually makes quite a bit of sense if you factor in the fact that your veil is part of Kazuma’s kingdom where the souls of the deceased linger.”
Even though his words brought her comfort, she could not help thinking that it had more to do with the religious rhetoric about the gods that Hiko most likely grew up on. Other people, might not be as accepting of the veil and what laid beyond it.
Hiko didn’t hesitate to continue, “I know there is probably plenty you need to tell me about that conversation, but right now I just want to know about those Ishi.”
Tationy steeled herself before responding, “Prince Tatsuya said that he would be born over and over again because the gods wished it. A blessing perhaps, but he was not the only one cursed with such an existence.” She noticed how Hiko’s expression suddenly became grim as though the realization of where her words were leading came to fruition.
“So, you’re the Prince of Aslann.”
Sometimes, Hiko Kari was far too perceptive for his own good. His words though were not a question, but Tationy offered a response anyway, “According to Tatsuya I am one of his many incarnates and you …. ” Hiko’s head was already shaking, “Why is this less believable than those boys coming from the future or me having a conversation with a dead prince?”
“Because … because you are telling me I am the fucking Kari Commander.”
Coldly she spoke, “I am not telling you anything. These are simply the words of the Prince of Aslann. It doesn’t matter if we believe his truth, but you wanted a question answered and this is where it leads.”
It was clear Hiko was irritated, but he still managed to acknowledge that he wanted to know regardless of where it led, “Tell me.”
Tationy continued, “One of the Kari Commanders incarnates was a man named Eishun. He was a nationalist fighting for the progression of Aslann and the acceptance of modernization among his kin. Unfortunately, he had alienated the traditionalist of the Kari with his forward thinking.”
Hiko was being quiet so she added, “On one of his many trips away from Meratoia he met an Ishi woman named Nene. She had just ended a relationship with the Son of Rin, Kuro whom she had a child with; Togore. Unknown to her at the time she was pregnant. Had she known she was carrying the one called Enzo she probably would never have gotten involved with Eishun, but there was an attraction almost instantly.”
“Nene is one of the Prince of Aslann’s incarnates?”
Tationy gave a single nod as she continued, “They never married; Eishun and Nene. He wanted to after he finished his fight for Aslann. Still, they did move in together. Those boys were his as far as he was concerned; they were his world, but ….”
“They were killed?”
“Yes. Maybe because of his progressive thinking or perhaps because their relationship was a taint upon the Kari and the Ishi. I cannot say and I don’t really want to look beyond the veil to learn the answer. Those boys though … no one wanted them so they were sent back to the Ishi where they have remained. Unfortunately, the snake clan have very long memories and when those boys look at us they see their parents, but I cannot tell you why they chose to act upon that tonight.”
She expected some sort of response from him, but initially there was nothing. How he was feeling or what was going in his mind was shrouded by a mask of nonchalance and shackled by restraint. It made her nervous when he had nothing at all to say so her. With a mind working a million miles a minute she tried to form some words to reassure him that this situation with those Ishi boys changed nothing for her, but as he pushed away from the wall Tationy soon realized that something changed for Hiko.
“I don’t want to discuss this further,” He stated quite calmly considering how cold his words were. Hiko had turned sharply toward the bedroom as he added, “Let’s just get some sleep.”
In a fit of anxiety filled restlessness she tossed and turned. He didn’t even hold her. Just laid with his back to Tationy, in his own disturbed state. How long they had been like that she couldn’t say because eventually her body gave way to sleep.
When morning finally came Tationy had awoken to a couple of pillows laying where Hiko had been the night before. She had sighed deeply. The feeling of being utterly defeated overwhelming her as she rolled and caught sight of him. His hard and unforgiving features and cold gaze fixed upon her. He was mad. At her? At the situation? She didn’t know, but Tationy could not even bring herself to say good morning.
Her eyes shifted away from him. If there were things to say she was not certain what or even how. Perhaps that was why Hiko did what he did. Since the first day she met him he had been the type of man that trusted his gut. Her silence, the atmosphere, whatever it was didn’t really matter other than the fact that it forced him to close the distance.
Very briefly his fingers reached out and teased hair behind her ear before he spoke, “Do you know where they are?”
The question brought forth feelings of surprise and apprehension. Tationy didn’t need for him to give names, she knew he wanted to know about those Ishi boys. Hesitantly she stated, “They mean nothing. Don’t you understand that they are nothing more than the sons of people long since dead…”
Hiko cut her off, “It is not that simple for me and I’m disappointed that you can be so cold after what you saw.”
His words stung as she snapped, “What am I suppose to do Hiko. Get attached to every single person that has ever crossed my path in one life or another? Do you want me to feel something for their father as well?”
He snarled, “Don’t be fucking ridiculous…..they’re different.” Tationy couldn’t mask her feelings of concern and fear as Hiko hung his head and continued, “Maybe it’s because I’m Kari, but I can’t help feeling as though I abandoned them. Perhaps, it would have been better if you never told me, but please just tell me where they are.”
No matter how she felt, Tationy could not turn a blind eye to the emotion adorning the features of the man she cared about. With a deep sigh she meekly responded, “I will look beyond the veil and find them, but I don’t think this is a good idea.”
“Ahh, it probably isn’t, but my gut has never been wrong and right now it is telling me I have to do this.”
So, there they were standing just inside the home of Togore and Enzo Ishi. It was impossible to hide her pout and concern. She had tried desperately to convince Hiko to change his mind, but to no avail.
The crossing of his arms and the tense atmosphere made Tationy acutely aware that this could go downhill quickly. She felt the walls closing in on her as she kept telling herself to take deep breaths and trust in Hiko. Probably a foolish thing considering his mood that morning.
There was no knowing how it would all go. Even if she attempted to look beyond the veil she was uncertain she would be able to see this particular moment. All she could do was wait and it would not be long before Hiko would finally speak, “The two of you have no discipline. I don’t care what the fuck you are that kind of display of power is dangerous. You’re dangerous.”
“Oh,” Togure laughed, “Should we tell him Enzo that you’re more powerful than I am?”
“Not helping,” Enzo responded.
“So, the fuck what. This Kari dog comes here and starts lecturing us like he is our dad or something. He can go fuck himself and take his bit…”
“You watch your fucking mouth,” Hiko snarled.
“Or what? Why the fuck are you even here?” It was clear that the heated words between Hiko and Togore were going to continue as their voices raised and the oldest Son of Kuro added, “Come to be our dad? Is that it? Eishun Kari was the only one of your fucking clan worth a shit. The rest of you … can burn for all I fucking care.”
It took nothing to bring the flames to life, but just as quickly they were extinguished when Enzo grabbed his brother’s hand. It would be seconds later that Tationy would understand why as heels coming down the stairs and a female voice could be heard, “Tiger, I am heading out. If I do not hurry I will be late for work…”
Tationy recognized the woman instantly as Mikaela Raita. There were so many questions that lingered around the young woman though Tationy had never found the need to take a look beyond the veil. Maybe, she was more than meets thee eye. Tationy didn’t know, but at that moment the only question of importance lingering was which one of them was Mikaela calling tiger?
It was easy to get lost in the moment when there was so much going on, but her thoughts were quickly distracted as Mikaela offered a greeting, “Tationy and Hiko, it has been a while.”
The Kari man at her side said nothing as his eyes shifted toward the two Ishi boys and Tationy was left to be social, “It is good to see you again Mikaela. I thought you might have been at the club last night, but when we were there I didn’t see you.”
“I arrived an hour before closing,” Mikaela offered and then quickly added, “Sorry to rush off, I am running late for work.” She was polite as she exited and Tationy noticed how Togore’s eyes had shifted toward the door to watch her departure. It was him. He was her tiger.
She didn’t have a moment to digest that information because Hiko snapped, “What the fuck is wrong with you two? Don’t you have any respect for yourselves or that girl?” Tationy was taken aback when she realized Hiko was lecturing them as though he were their father. She was confused as her eyes settled upon Togore and Enzo.
“Oh, the hypocrisy of the Kari. How many times did you share a bed with her,” He pointed toward Tationy, “Before sticking your dick in her?”
Togore’s words were an assault upon Hiko’s pride, “Don’t you dare ever talk about my relationship with Tationy. That is none of your fucking business.”
“Then why the fuck do you care if Enzo and I fuck some club girl. Get the fuck over yourself.”
The arguing had started again and the back and forth between Hiko and Togore was getting louder and bolder. The two could find no common ground; no matter what the Ishi boys did Hiko got angry. That was about the point when he lost all restraint, “Eishun would be disappointed.”
“Don’t you dare talk about our dad. Keep his name out of your filthy mouth you fucking dog,” Togore snapped as him and Hiko came toe-to-toe. Her voice felt broken as she stood there again in shock. Why couldn’t she do anything to stop it?
Tationy was asking herself a hundred questions when she felt the eyes of Enzo upon her. He looked like his father more than Togore did; he was truly the son of Kuro of the Ishi. Did that mean that Togore looked like Nene? She considered it a moment and then shook the unwanted thoughts away. She didn’t care. This was a mistake. That is what she told herself.
“Hiko,” Tationy said his name firmly. “Please stop.”
She was surprised when his body stilled and he glanced toward her. He must have realized how ridiculous this confrontation was, so he turned on his heels and walked out of the house.
“Good fucking riddance,” Togore yelled at the top of his lungs.
He was quickly silenced by his little brother, “Take a walk Togore and cool off.”
Tationy had been moments away from leaving when she was halted by Enzo, “Why did you come?”
She sighed, “Hiko insisted. He wanted to see the two of you again.”
It was a loaded question. He wanted something from her that she simply could not give him; his mother. Pursing her lips she considered her response, “How did the two of you know about Hiko and I? Did Kuro of the Ishi tell you? Did the Prince of Aslann tell him?”
Enzo seemed surprised by the question and at first it was clear to Tationy that he was uncertain if he should answer. Eventually he shook his head, “You really don’t know?”
“If I did do you think I would be asking?”
“I suppose not,” Enzo responded somberly and then quickly added, “Mikio told him and he told us.”
“Mikio…” She repeated the name. He was the other Son of Rin; the one born of the Goddess Tearra. Her mind flashed back to the life of the Prince of Aslann. He had told Kuro to travel to the Forest of the Ancients with his brother Mikio. Absently she asked, “What have you done Tatsuya?”
Tationy dismissed it quickly, “Nothing. Please forgive our intrusion.” Her words hung there as she quickly escaped though her mind was trying to figure out what the Prince of Aslann’s agenda was where the Sons of Rin were concerned. Sadly, she knew the only true way of knowing was by accessing the veil and delving deeply into it which made her fear she might not be able to find her way back.