Their day had started out with a bang and it would only get progressively more exhausting. Tationy was trying desperately to keep her energy up in hopes that she could turn it all around, but once Hiko downward spiraled into aggression there was little to perk his mood which was obvious when all he offered her was grunts and nods.
The conflict with the Ishi boys was unresolved and as they sat at the estate auction for her favorite singer, Saitama she had hoped that there would be energy and excitement. Their potential home was within their grasp, initially.
She stole glances at Hiko, wondering what he was thinking about as the bidding became intense. Unfortunately, it became rather obvious that the house was about to be snatched from their hands. That was the point in the day when she saw the darkest part of Hikos aura.
There were a lot of people that had called him intimidating, but Tationy never really saw it until he stood and sharply snapped his bid of twenty-five billion dollars which sent the auction into a dead still. No one said anything for moments. Tationy had glanced around and saw people physically recoil. They wouldn’t dare outbid the famed CEO at that point.
“Sold, to Hiko Kari,” Brought so much relief to her anxiety over where they would spend their future, but nothing could cheer her up as long as her Hiko was angry.
Tationy considered how to make it all right again as they made their way to the Kari Foundation. He was still being silent, even as they headed toward his office. She thought she might have a quick moment alone with him to talk, but those hopes were dashed when his secretary informed them that there was an Ishi waiting for him.
She had tried to convince Hiko to refuse to see him, but there they were once again face-to-face with the one called Enzo. Tationy was uncertain which one would speak first until the young Ishi broke down and asked, “Why did you want to see us?”
Hiko placed his hands behind his back as he returned the question with one of his own, “Does it really matter?”
“It might not seem like it because you and Togore love to fight, but yeah … it means something to both of us.”
His words clearly moved Hiko as Tationy silently watched the display, “I don’t understand why the Kari turned you away. If Eishun claimed you as his, then you were Kari regardless of your blood. I will find out what happened.”
Enzos voice was quiet as he responded, “That might be a stone you don’t wish to turn over. The clans of Aslann don’t take too kindly to their dirty laundry being aired. They will come for you…”
Hiko cut him off, “I don’t give a fuck about the clans of Aslann. All that matters is my girl, my blood, and my word. As far as I am concerned you are Kari, even that pain in the ass brother of yours.”
The two stared at each other and Tationy found that it was much easier to read Hiko at that moment then it was to gauge Enzo’s reaction. He kept his feelings close to the vest which made him far more difficult to read than Tationy expected, “Togore’s display of power didn’t go unnoticed with the paparazzi all around. The two of us caused you problems.”
“I am not concerned with that, but I am over whether or not your clan ….”
This time it would be Enzo that would interrupt, “Don’t worry about me and Togore. Only Nao and the Sons of Rin can harm us. If it comes to that ….” He shrugged his shoulders, “Sorry, for interrupting your day. I just needed to know.”
Why was this happening? She felt her anxiety level skyrocket just by being in the same room as the two of them. Her head was pounding and it would be far too late for her to compose herself when Hiko realized, “You’re upset with me.”
“I just don’t understand what you are doing,” She stated. “They are not our sons…”
Hiko halted her words, “I know that, but it is still not that simple for me. Even if they are not the sons of Tationy and Hiko. They are the children of Eishun and Nene. I think we owe it to them to find out what happened to their mother and father. More importantly, I need to understand why my clan spit on their values and cast aside those two boys. Ishi or not; If Eishun claimed them as his sons, then they were Kari.”
Tationy could not hide the somberness in her tone, “Do you want me to look beyond the veil?”
“No. I think for now the best person to ask would be my father. I am going to give him a call and see if he can stop by today, but I am sure he has already heard that we were attacked by a chalta.”
“The whole nation has heard that by now,” She sighed. “Can we just have one day where crazy does not happen?”
“All the madness is what keeps you grounded. If we get all the good and none of the bad, I would have to tie a string to your leg to keep you from floating away,” He teased.
“Between your overreactions and me floating away we are quite a pair then,” She stated and then sighed again, “Why were you so mad at Togore? I mean … Do you like Mikaela or something?”
Hiko’s finger teased along her bare skin, “No, it wasn’t about her. Mostly, he reminds me a little of myself and Anjou. It is like he was hit with all of our bad qualities. I know he is old, but it feels like I am staring at the two of us when we were teenagers. I was always fighting people over dumb shit and I swear Anjou had a new girl every other day. Neither of us gave a fuck about anything or anyone; it was us against the world.”
It would be a moment before Hiko continued, “I tried to think of what I would have wanted my dad to say to me back then and … well you see how that worked out. Suddenly, I was Tadayoshi Kari and all I could do was yell. I can’t really explain it, I just have this urge to beat the shit out of him and tell him to get his act together. Someday, he is going to have someone that depends on him and he can’t be running off half-cocked.”
Oddly, his words made her feel better though she did not entirely understand why. It was weird seeing Hiko like this, “While we are on the topic of running off half-cocked. Please don’t do anything foolish where Aoba is concerned. I don’t trust him.”
Hiko stood and moved toward his desk, “Don’t worry about that. Aoba showed his hand early on; I am well-aware that he wishes to use me against the elite of Aslann, but he failed to calculate you into the equation. Right now, the priority target is Lord Seiji Shima.”
Tationy nodded her head as she followed suit. She hated to leave him because she knew that he would be meeting with Aoba in a few hours, but Zen was not the type of boss that would accept tardiness or a distracted mind, “I should get going before Zen decides to fire me.”
She only made a few feet before Hiko stilled her body, “It will be alright, Tationy. No matter where this all leads us, you are always my first priority. If you want to still my hand, then you simply need to find your voice.”
Hiko made it seem simple. Sometimes she was so afraid to act because she did not want to inadvertently change things. What if she stopped him and it had negative consequences for their life together? What if it caused him harm? This was the problem with her eyes. There were so many potential possibilities and you had to figure out the right one. It was not as though you plucked out the perfect future; even her omnipotent powers had rules.
The worst part of it all was she still couldn’t see things where Hiko was concerned. It made her doubt herself. This was not like her days in school where she could look beyond the veil and see the answers to tomorrow’s test. Certainly, all aspects of the veil lingered with consequences, but some were more extreme than others.
There was so much she was unsure about, perhaps too much. One thing she knew for certain was she didn’t want to sit in a room with Doctor Chochi Waichia again. Even if she didn’t believe she had a conversation with the Prince of Aslann, she was certain he wasn’t capable of helping her. Was it the right decision to let him go? She didn’t know, but she was determined to call his office and tell him she would not be returning.
One thing at a time. It made things slow to resolve, but it was all she could deal with at the moment. Unfortunately, she barely even got the phone dialed when a voice forced her to hang up, “I was wondering where they were hiding that pretty little Yamada girl.”
She recognized it instantly as belonging to Kyo Kari. He was retired from the Kari Foundation, but now and again he would come around with his brother Tadayoshi. Did that mean the Elder of the Kari had arrived already? If that was the case, then Hiko did not even get the opportunity to call him. He was ambushed which meant Kyo Kari was sent to distract her.
Her head tilted and for a moment she simply regarded him, but before she could address him courteously he added, “I heard you and Hiko had a bit of excitement with a chalta. Who would have thought that there existed a monster like that.”
Something sinister and calculating was hidden in his words. Though they had only encountered each other a few times one thing she had learned about Kyo Kari was that his brightly colored shirts and seemingly genuine smile were a ruse. He was dangerous and any conversion held with him needed to be met with an iron wall; guarded and impenetrable.
“It was unexpected,” She responded and then quickly added, “How are you doing, Mr. Kari.”
He laughed, “I tell you every visit that Mr. Kari was my father. Am I really that old?”
There was a charm wrapped around that danger that could make you almost forget your defenses. Perhaps it was foolish of her to be so distrusting, after all Kyo had never done anything specifically to her to make her warrant being guarded. However, there was something always off about their exchanges. Not forced exactly; what was it? She didn’t know.
“I am disturbing you,” He stated which caught her off-guard when she became aware that she was thinking too much and spending an extraordinary amount of time trying to keep up her defenses. She was not as good at it as Hiko was.
Tationy managed an embarrassed smile as she whispered, “I am sorry, Mr…Kyo. It has been a very long morning and I apparently am a little out of it.”
“Well it is almost lunchtime, perhaps you should get yourself something to eat,” He stated with concern as his features darkened. “Hiko would be quite troubled if you became ill and I hear Zen raves about you. He would go back to firing people every other week if anything happened to his most reliable assistant.”
She nodded her head, “You are right. I am not doing anyone good being an utter mess right now.” Pausing a moment before asking, “Did you need anything in particular or were you just stopping by to visit?”
“I was just in speaking with Zen and thought I would say hello. Go now, get yourself a bite to eat,” He responded and then turned on his heels to return to Zen’s office.
There were always moments that you wished you could do all over again. While Tationy had a nice quiet lunch with her thoughts she had let her guard down and did not realize how much so until she returned to her office. Most people might not have even noticed such a minuscule thing, but right away it jumped out at her.
To explain it to anyone they might have thought her crazy, after all the binder had only been turned a fraction of an inch. However, it was not at all how she had left it when she departed her office for lunch. She hated looking; didn’t want to think the worst, but when she peeked beyond the veil so many answers flooded her mind.
Now, if only she took a moment to gather them before barging into Hiko’s office and blurting out, “Hiko, I need to tell you something about Kyo.”
That was the proverbial icing on the cake as she awkwardly stared at Hiko standing next to his father. Foot well inserted in her mouth she tilted her head and fidgeted with her fingers as Tadayoshi asked coldly, “What exactly would that be?”
She had to say something, but only managed to stammer as Hiko barked, “Spit it out.”
Was he mad? Probably. She barged into a meeting with his father and declared she had to tell him something. It was obvious to her she stepped in it. So, she said the first thing that came to mind, “Well it is kind of delicate, but … I think he might be sleeping with Sesiago’s girlfriend.”
That was about the fastest departure she had ever seen Tadayoshi Kari make as he excused himself, placed his hands behind his back, and disappeared out the door giving her a rather sharp glare as he passed by.
Once they were alone she meekly responded, “Sorry, Hiko. I just …”
His voice was stern, “Don’t apologize. I doubt very highly you would have barged into my office to say that seeing we both heard that information months ago. Now, seeing you most likely just wrote my uncles death sentence, the next words out of your mouth better be really good.”
She was amazed at how cold and calm he was after she had inadvertently fumbled, “You are not mad then?”
Hiko shrugged his shoulders, “My father will give him a fair shake, but if it is true and he took Sesiago’s woman. No matter how I feel about that piece of shit, my uncle has it coming. Now, tell me what you saw.”
Tationy was not certain how to say it, so she ended up just blurting it out, “Kyo and Sesiago were trying to take over the company. They are working with Lord Shima to undermine you. They want to force your departure. Kyo’s visits have been a ruse to look over sensitive information.”
Why wasn’t he reacting? Tationy frowned as her hand rested to her hip and she tapped her lip lightly before continuing, “I probably noticed too late. Had he not moved the binder on my office sofa, I might not have had reason to look…”
“Just some old designs that Zen was having me catalog and archive. Most of them pertained to a decommissioned project your grandfather was working on. Some sort of reactor.”
Hiko frowned, “The transtemporal reactor?”
Tationy nodded her head swiftly, “I only passively glanced at the files, what is it exactly?” The pause lingered far to long for her liking and she realized that he did not want to answer, “Is something wrong?”
“Ahh, it was a theoretical device that my grandfather trashed. Had it been successful it would have allowed communication or influence from one time to another. It … ”
“He was designing my eyes.”
“The ability to control the world is at your fingertips; image that power in the right hands…”
“Or the wrong ones,” She stated. “We learned last night that there are chalta’s in this world. What if there is a Shima lord capable of controlling time. He could basically make himself the reactor.”
Considering what they uncovered Hiko seemed oddly calm as he reached out and pulled her toward him. His hands resting to her hips. Tationy felt her heart pounding wildly as he stared deeply into her eyes, “What are you willing to do about it?”
His question filled her with apprehension. It was like he was asking her what she was willing to risk, but without saying the words. There was a dark part to her that was screaming anything to protect her Hiko. Was that foolish of her? She didn’t know, “I don’t intend to see Doctor Waichia again.”
Not the answer he wanted, but his response told her he was not surprised, “Good. That quack was starting to piss me off, but are you sure you are ready for what comes next if you do that?”
“I … I need to understand what is happening and glimpses here and there are not going to accomplish that. As long as my Hiko understands that I might not be the same person when it is all said and done…”
He cut her off, “I’m not worried.”
“You have more confidence in me than I do in myself,” She stated and then eagerly asked, “What are you willing to do about it, Hiko Kari?”
“I will become a monster hated by the elite of this nation.”
“Are you alright with that?”
“Ahh, as long as I have your light shining down on me, I will dwell in whatever hell I have to make for myself. No one who wages war against my pride will survive my wraith especially with my queen at my side.”
“Things are going to be different then. There really is no one we can trust.”
“We have each other and that is all that matters,” Hiko responded as he leaned in and claimed her lips to his.
Even though there were so many things for them to discuss, the two opted to not talk about anything further at the Kari Foundation. There was no knowing how many eyes and ears were keeping tabs on them. So, they spent the remainder of the day as though it was any other workday.
On the way out of the Kari Foundation, they walked hand in hand and talked about random things like what they wanted for dinner. They were almost to Hiko’s car when a voice broke up their flirtatious banter, “Do you think Hiko Kari is above my wraith?”
The young man that spoke had very little presence which caused Hiko to react at a much slower rate, then he might have against any other enemy. He positioned Tationy behind him as he spoke, “I don’t know what you are fucking talking about.”
“Well then, let me enlighten the ignorant. I don’t appreciate scum treading upon the lands of the Matsuo. Never should you have sent those Saza bastards to see me.”
Tationy quietly observed as Hiko guarded his emotions and responded, “I didn’t send anyone. They took it upon themselves to seek you out.”
“Then you do not care what I do with them?”
“Why the fuck should I?”
“Hmm,” The Matsuo made a thoughtful sound, “They seemed certain you would have their …”
Hiko anticipated his words, “The only person whose back I have is standing behind me. Are we clear?”
With a tilt of his head the unknown man’s eyes settled on Tationy, “I see. Then should I kill them?”
Tationy had interjected herself into the conversation, “They simply want to be free of the Shima. I think it is something all the people of Aslann can understand.”
Her bravery only lasted a few moments when her eyes locked on the man and she realized that he and Hiko shared similar features. Were they related? As much as she wanted to consider it a moment longer there was little opportunity as the Matsuo responded coldly, “Does she speak for Hiko Kari?”
“I told you I don’t care what happens to them and that is exactly what it meant. If my woman wants to spare them, then only she is capable of stilling my head. We have no control over what choice the Matsuo clan makes, but it would be wise to heed my queen’s wishes.”
It was not as though the man backed down; he didn’t and Tationy would be the first to say that it would be a misjudgment to even consider his next actions in such a way. Still, his haunting voice responded, “The next time Hiko Kari wishes to speak to the Matsuo he should come himself. This is your only warning.”
Hiko’s body didn’t relax until the man was out of sight, “I never imagined Moko the Annihilator would find his way before us.”
“What do you think that means?”
“I don’t know and that is what worries me,” Hiko responded as the two quickly walked the few steps to his car and left the Kari Foundation behind.