Chapter 19: Reality, Being, and Existence

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When she heard the sliding glass door open and close, she turned, leaning herself against the railing. Her eyes washed over Tadayoshi. “Did you sleep well?”

His question was not unexpected considering the night she had, “I suppose.”

She noticed how he took a step toward the railing, turning and leaning against it much as she was. His fingers touched hers briefly before lacing together so that he was holding her hand. “I have to leave soon.”

“I don’t agree with this.”

“Do you believe I am purposely distancing myself from you.”

“Yes, that is exactly what I believe.”

“What would you have me do Tationy? Your heart belongs to my son. You most likely will never look at me with love in your eyes, shouldn’t I be willing to give you the opportunity to move forward and consider your options? What do you expect of me?”

“I expect you to be Kari.”

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She looked away as he brought his hand up scratching the side of his face. His eyes were on her, she could feel them. “You expect me to be Kari.” The words were repeated in such a tone that Tationy thought he might be disappointed with her. “I have thought hundreds of times about taking you. Do you think it is wrong of me to wish you would choose me? I suppose you are the type of woman that wishes to be conquered. You want for me to show my strength and power so you are acutely aware that I am the ‘king’ of the Kari, even if you would hate me afterwards. You were probably annoyed with Hiko that he did not get jealous or angry when Sesiago was moving in on you. Disappointed that he did not show his strength by crushing his ‘cousin’. Some people would find those qualities about you disturbing. I wonder where Tationy ends and Tearra begins with you. The lines seem rather blurred to me. I do not think there is much of Tationy left and yet, you hold on to a mortal world and love.”

“That sounds like Kazuma speaking, Tadayoshi.”

She had expected him to question her statement, after all how would she know what Kazuma sounds like. Instead, he simply responded to her words, “I accepted long ago that he and I are one and the same. You, need to come to terms with that yourself. This break is a time for you to do that if that is what you wish.”

“Please, you are just going to let me and the boys walk away?”

The length of the pause that followed her question concerned her, “Kazuma will remain with his mother, but Osa will be coming with me.”

She turned suddenly to face him. As he released her hand she responded, “Excuse me?”

“He is my responsibility. My family sinned against his, so I must be the one to atone for that transgression. He is no longer your responsibility.”

“Do you think I am just going to let you take him?” There were times he was so difficult to read. His emotions were guarded and it frustrated her, “You tell me this break is a time for me to come to terms with things and yet in the next breath you tell me you are taking Osa with you. How dare you say I am free to decide and then do this.” She felt her insides boiling at the emotional blackmail that Tadayoshi was tormenting her with. There was no way she would leave Osa among the Kari alone without protection. Had she taken a moment to think about it she probably would have realized that it was out of character for Tadayoshi to do such a thing. That he was in fact ‘being Kari’ as she had wished. The emotion on her face was clear and rare. The woman that she was often hid herself behind an emotionless mask of indifference, “I will need a bit of time.”

Despite her emotional outburst she noticed how he kept his scrutinizing gaze upon her as he simply asked, “For?”

“To pack. Kazuma and I will be coming with you.”

“If that is what you wish.”

“Are you not going to insist I not come? How for appearances it would be better if we did not stand at each others side? That this time apart is necessary for me to make my own decisions?”

“I could argue all of those things, but you do not want this break. Why I am uncertain. Do you like being shackled to the Kari? Perhaps it is something else entirely, I wonder what it is that makes you move through the world like this. I am sharply reminded that Tearra at one point despised Kazuma so much that she removed her hate and placed it in a mortal she created named Emi Sosa. It makes me wonder if you are even capable of hate or love. You feel, like any other, but you stay with men that are not good for you, refuse to leave the side of one that is allowing you too, it is as though you like this prison.”

Tationy avoided responding to the majority of what he said, “Why did she grow to hate him?”

For a moment she thought she saw something in his eyes. It was a flash, but disappeared so quickly she could not recognize it, “Kazuma cared nothing about mortals. They were insignificant. Simply something created to keep the other gods entertained. Tearra loved mortals, felt that Kazuma was callous in his treatment of them. As time passed, there was a small part of her that grew to hate him. So concerned that she would never be able to look at him without feeling pain, she created a mortal. Emi was the essence of Tearra and within her contained all of her hate for Kazuma. Life has a balance, without one thing the other cannot exist. Perhaps, Tearra hurt herself by ridding hatred from her heart.”

She contemplated his words. Tationy had often thought herself incapable of love and there were many times that she felt annoyed or mad when something bad happened, but she was not angry even though she should have been. She had used the words hate only a few times, twice directing those words at Hiko, but even after she said them she wondered to herself if she really hated him or if she was just mad and needed to take it out on someone. The day she sat with Tadayoshi in that little building she had wanted desperately to ask him a single question. Then, she was not brave enough to do so, even now she was afraid to hear the answer, but she needed to know, “What do you see when you look at me?”

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Tationy noticed that his face displayed for a moment a hint of emotion. It was not a question he wanted to answer, she was certain. He pushed away from the railing, having let go of her hand long ago he was free to turn toward her. Noticing how he looked her over from toes to the top of her head made her heart jump into her throat, much as it had that day on the subway. It was a physical reaction, she had a few around him. His eyes had finally settled on hers and she was concerned that he had not yet answered her question. She noticed how he was hesitating again as he took a step toward her, reaching out his hand to her chest. At first she flinched, which had caused him to halt his action. When she relaxed he began trailing his finger lightly over her skin, “A phoenix, adorned upon lovely ‘pink’ skin. Its tail trails down between your breast.”

She noticed that his breathing had increased and he was restraining himself from allowing his finger to follow every line of the phoenix, no matter where they led, “It is not exactly a tattoo. The lines are warm to touch, magic perhaps. There is one on your arm as well. It is not a solid color, intricate in design. You are in a white gown, barefoot, and your shoulders are left uncovered. You are wearing a crown made of the same metal as my bracelet. You look as though you have makeup on, but when I examine you closer I can tell it is just how you are designed. Your hair is long, flowing, and red. Your eyes, one gray and one blue signifying you are the queen. Your nose is pierced with a small silver stud. I see my queen. Every time I look at you that is what I see staring back at me.”

His words left her unable to speak as she stared at him. She understood it now. Why the emotional and physical attachment wasn’t enough for him. Why it was he was asking for distance. When she looked at him, all she saw was Hiko and he saw her as some glorious queen of the gods. It made her hate herself even more. All she could think about was if she couldn’t be with Hiko, she could at least try to love Tadayoshi. He was not trying to love her though, he did love her or at least the part of her that was Tearra. She thought herself a terrible woman. They most likely would never be on even footing. He would always look at her and see his queen and she would always look at him and see the man she lost.

“What do you see when you look at me?”

“Please don’t ask me that, Tadayoshi.”

He smiled briefly and adjusted his posture. She made note that he stood with his hands behind his back, much as he always did, “It is alright Tationy I already know the answer, I just want to hear you say it. Tell me what you see when you look at me.”

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She turned her back to him, not being able to stop herself from tearing up, “I see Hiko. I am sorry.”

Tationy could hear his deliberate steps as he moved across the balcony toward her. His grip on her arm was forceful, but not hard enough to hurt her as he coaxed her to turn around. She could not look at him in the eyes as he reached his hand up and wiped the tears away. “I never want you to apologize for that. It is not your fault that you see me that way, it is mine. Had I been relentless in my pursuit of you rather than allowing you to make your own decisions we would not be having this discussion. It is difficult to admit my own failure and that Kazuma has walked the same troubled path over and over again. I thought that the path moving forward was just hidden from me, but I realize it is far more complicated. I make the same mistakes because I am too proud to change. Had I just told you. Why was I so stubborn?”

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Tationy was certain his question was rhetorical so she remained silent as she braved looking at him. It was difficult, watching the soft mature features of Tadayoshi Kari fade away to the cold hard ones of Hiko. “I will take that time.”

The surprised look on his face told her that he had been ill-prepared for her words. She had felt a shiver as his hand touched her arm lightly, “Osa can stay with you. I will come and see the children when time permits. Kari boys need a strong hand or they run wild.”

Inwardly she had chuckled. Tadayoshi of all people understood that from experience. He did not give Hiko the strong guiding hand he needed and he did as he wished, rebelling to the point of where his family seen him as a stain upon the Kari. As she considered his words she sigh before speaking, “You just said that for my benefit, about taking him with you?”

“I find you really confusing. I can tell there are things about the Kari that you despise and yet you wish for me to behave Kari. Giving you what you wanted….”

She interrupted his words, “Kari boys are not the only ones that need a strong hand.”

“I can’t be Hiko.”

“I am not asking you to be. You would not be the head of the Kari if you did not have strength of your own. Tadayoshi with the gentle hand, must also have a strong one. I want you to be Tadayoshi, that is the man I want to know. Is he in there someplace or has he been completely erased by Kazuma?”

“Tationy…”

Again she interrupted him, “I was wrong to feel as though you were trying to put distance between us. You need this as much as I do. You say my name and yet when you look at me you see someone else. We both suffer from the same affliction. The heart wants what it wants. You knew at a young age you belonged to another and you got so set on that, you forgot that Tearra was housed in a real flesh and blood person. You fell in love with the queen of the gods and as much as I know you have strong feelings for me, I know they are directed toward her. I hate knowing that. You are not the only one that is selfish Tadayoshi. I want to be loved. I want someone to treat me, Tationy, as a queen. Our story probably will not have a happy ending, just like all the other times Tearra and Kazuma have crossed paths. You and I are not foolishly deluded people. We understand the statistical probability of me actually seeing you. If we do nothing else, let’s make certain that the next Kazuma and Tearra do not make the same mistakes.” She paused a moment then added, “I am not ready to say goodbye to you, but that is because I like how I feel when I am with you even with how angry I am. You and I both know when you leave here, it is over. We should not pretend that it is all going to work out in the end, the story of Kazuma and Tearra is not a happy one.”

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She could tell he had forced himself to pull away; turning and briskly walking toward the door.

His tone, sounded annoyed and hurt, “No matter what you say, I will keep trying to make you see me until my last breath. Luna Hamara said that we are our own people and even though we are Kazuma and Tearra, we are first and foremost Tadayoshi and Tationy. I must reach your heart if I want my queen to see me. I always assumed when my father said that only Tearra had the power to see Kazuma in his mortal form he was speaking literally, but he wasn’t. I can see you so clearly, I wondered why it was you were incapable of doing the same. The part of you that is Tearra knows me. You feel it emotionally and physically. That is Tearra’s influence. It shows that our souls are connected, but you are still Tationy. It is with Tationy’s eyes that you look at me.”

Tationy pursed her lips as she watched him stand at the door. His hand for a moment pressed against it and she could see the tension settle directly between his shoulder blades. She tried to think of what to say at that moment, but the only words that came to mind would probably just annoy him further so she remained silent, even though she was certain that was probably not the best decision. Nervously she fidgeted. She told herself if the roles were reversed she would want him to say something, but she thought herself too dumb to come up with anything that would ease his tension. As he opened the sliding door and slid it shut with a slight force, she realized that her inability to find the words resulted in them parting on a less than positive note.

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Admittedly the first week without the Kari around dragged on and on. Tationy found herself to be restless and Osa had commented many times that she seem distracted and upset, which was just a polite way of saying annoyed. There came a point, about a month in that the loneliness got to be too much for her so she packed up the kids and left Shimragata. At first she had no idea where to go, but eventually she found herself outside that old Chinese restaurant with the apartment on the second floor. Her father had not changed he left the spare key in the exact same place it had always been hidden. He had started putting it there because he often lost his keys on his nightly binges. She had hoped he would be home, but the house was cold and silent. It had not changed a single bit. Still the same decorations her mother had adorned it with when they had first moved in.

She told the boys they could go play in her old room. Tationy had not taken anything from her childhood with her when she moved out and if the house was any indication, she was certain her father had not touched it. While they played she adjusted the thermostat to warm up the apartment and put some tea on. Uncertain when her father would be home all she could do was sit around and wait, something she was becoming rather use to. A single hour had passed when she heard his key at the door. It took him only three steps with his long legs to make it through the entryway and into the living room. She got her height from him. Tationy had always told herself growing up that she looked nothing like either of her parents, the older she got the more she noticed the little things. She had her mother’s eyes and hair, her father’s nose and that same hue that adorned her cheeks could also be seen on his.

Standing from where she had been sitting she moved away from the dining room table and greeted him, “Dad.”

His surprise was noted, the way he glanced at her from the side, his fingers running through his messy hair. Which seemed far longer and messier than usual. She always thought his long face was unique in comparison to all of the others she had seen in her life. There was a moment as he gazed upon her that Tationy wondered what he was seeing. Did he see the same thing that Tadayoshi did? Finally, he broke the silence, “You look tired.”

“I see you are as direct as always when it comes to my appearance.”

“Would you rather I blow smoke up your ass and tell you that you look great?”

Inwardly she sighed, her father generally was the type of man to tell it like it was. Most of the time too direct, but there were times when he purposely changed the topic and even avoided subjects entirely. Now after all that transpired she understood why, “No.”

Tationy noticed how his eyes shifted toward her hand, his lips pursed and then a frown overtook them, “Which Kari gave you his ooska?”

Turning her attention to the bracelet she played with the beads a moment, “Ooska, is that what it is called?”

“That is what the Tylo call it. The bracelet is called Heroska, meaning Kari pride. Not sure when it got started, but most Tylo call it Ooska which translates to tainted pride. Is it Hiko’s?” The way she bowed her head probably said more than any words could and when he spoke again she could hear a hint of something in his tone, “You know the police showed up here not long after you went on that vacation with him to Shimragata. Was he the one that assaulted you?”

She felt a flood of unwanted emotions so she quickly turned her back to her father. Tationy had nearly forgotten that she had gone to the doctors and he had told her he would need to inform the police. They must have gone looking for her and figured her father would know her location. There was no description for the shame she felt, “I’m sorry.”

“Was that why you called me that night?”

“Sesiago had brought me back to Bridgeport and I just wanted to be as far away from the Kari as possible. I thought….I thought you might let me come home, but you just told me that couples fight and that whatever Hiko did he did not mean it. That I should forgive him. I could not bring myself to say the words.”

“You should have told me, I would have gone to him…”

Tationy turned quickly, “What good would it have done to go to Hiko?”

“Not Hiko. I am speaking of the head of the Kari called Tadayoshi.”

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Tationy was unable to hide the surprised look and she had been about to question him regarding Tadayoshi, but the soft coo of Kazuma caught her attention, “Mama, mama, mama.” Over and over he repeated.

“Are we interrupting,” The polite child of Seiji Shima asked.

Briefly Tationy glanced toward her father, who was eyeing both children, “Not at all, do you need something?”

“Is it alright if we watch some cartoons?”

Miroku interjected rather quickly, “Of course it is.” Tationy watched her father as he helped get the boys situated before returning to her side. Whispering, “You are going to have to explain to me how it is you have the son of Seiji Sjima.”

“Seems we both have a lot of things we need to explain,” She countered.

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The night passed by quickly and after dinner and bedtime rituals, Tationy returned to the living room to find her father sitting at the piano. “I used to love listening to you play,” She spoke as she took a seat on the sofa.

“Do you recognize it?”

“It is the Berotia in B Minor. It was always one of my favorites.”

Tationy tried to focus on the soft melody, but the silence between father and daughter was almost too much. She tried to find the words, any words, to start up a conversation. Her father had secrets. She knew that long before she encountered the Kari. Often enough she told herself that whatever they were had no bearing on her. The realization that she was wrong came way to late for her to do anything about it. “I went to Tadayoshi a year before you met Hiko. We were broke. I had gambled and drank away everything we had. The few things that remained we were going to lose. So, I gave him the one thing I had of value. The one thing I knew that no Kari man could turn down, Tearra.”

As much as she wanted to be shocked by his words she found that they had not surprised her.

“He gave me the money to get us out of the mess I had gotten us in, but never once did he come to claim you. Here is this man, the head of the Kari, and Tearra is right there to be taken. Yet, he didn’t want you. He was aware of you. I saw him once when you were small when we lived in Progmato. I know he saw us. I also know he came to see you, still he never took you. Everything we know of the Kari, he defied and oddly enough he was the most loyal to their traditions. Without a doubt I knew the moment I saw him that he was Kazuma. Moromari did not believe me, but when I insisted he find out for certain he sent in that Saitama with Matsuo blood, Suemeli. Moromari had come back and told me that Suemeli said that Hiko was Kazuma. Never once believed it. When he and I finally met face-to-face, there was not a single doubt in my mind that Tadayoshi Kari was Kazuma. Even though these eyes are cursed, I could see him for what he was.”

“The bracelet is his.”

“What of Hiko?”

“They handled him.”

“You mean they killed him.”

“That does not surprise you?”

“There are very few things the Kari do that give me pause. Hiko is not the first Kari to be killed by his own and certainly will not be the last. There are many families that still embrace old traditions and practices, none more fiercely than the Kari.”

“You almost sound as though you respect them.”

“I do in a way.” A moment of pause in the conversation allowed Tationy a chance to consider her fathers words, “Kazuma looks like Hiko.”

“I thought I would hate having his child grow within me. Thought there was no way I could have his son after what he did, but feeling Kazuma grow inside me just filled me with such happiness. Something I needed at that point in my life. Had it not been for him, I probably would not be sitting here with you.”

“As Rin raped Tearra on the shrine of Hisoka, she did not beg Kazuma to save her from Rin. She asked that he bless her with the ability to bring life into this world. It was all she ever wanted. The queen of the gods had become mortal and all she desired was to be a mother. It was something Kazuma was incapable of understanding. She gave birth to the son of Rin and despite, what he did to her she remained at his side. There are many that wonder why she did not return to the side of her king when he became mortal. The truth of the matter was, Kazuma was too prideful and could not look upon his queen in her mortal form. It is the reason Tearra and Kazuma never see each other. He is only capable of seeing his queen and she is only capable of seeing the man she loves. Kazuma cannot love a mortal and Tearra, cannot love Kazuma until he frees himself of that pride.”

“So no matter what Tadayoshi and I do, we are doomed to the same fate our predecessors suffered?”

“Were you hoping for a happy ending?”

“There has been no joy in my life, so why start now.”

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Her father, Miroku, stopped playing suddenly. Tationy could feel the tension as she focused in on him. Rather, quickly he had turned to face her. She could see the subtle lines starting to show on his face and made note that even to this day his one eye seemed almost lazy while the other was cold. “Do you want to be at the side of Tadayoshi Kari?”

“I don’t know. When I look at him I see Hiko, but he feels different. His touch almost paralyzes me. It is like he is reaching out and touching my heart. Every action even the slightest of contact and my entire body just aches and there are times when he stands near me and I find myself holding my breath. It feels empty not being near him. I really cannot explain it well. Doesn’t matter though, in the end he decided we needed time apart. A year he says.”

“It is not what you want?”

“What if he does not want me in a year? It is stupid right to think about something like that when you do not even know the person.”

“That night you asked me if two souls could be connected, you were talking about him?”

“Yes. I let him go. I pushed him out of my mind like I do everything else and he was eventually replaced all together by Hiko. I don’t know how to go back in time.”

“One cannot move back in time only forward.” There was a long pause from her father, “He was your first love, your only love if you think about it. You told me in the beginning of your relationship with Hiko that you were not sure you even liked him much, yet you stayed with him. There was something about him that appealed to you, perhaps you should consider that the reason you fell in love with Hiko was that he reminded you of Kazuma.”

“Even if that is the case, I do not know how to fix it.”

“You fix it with time. Get to know him, let him get to know you.” Tationy was certain that her father was thinking that it would be futile, but he never voiced it.

“Can the boys and I stay with you for a while?”

“As long as you need.”

To Be Continued

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4 comments

  1. Until this chapter, I was hoping that I might have read it wrong….But….Did you just killed my HIKO??? D= Hm. You know what. From what I read in previous chapters that started about Tadayoshi. hehehehehe 😀 But he still can’t beat Hiko 😉 Eh, so Miroku knew he was Kazuma from the beginning? o,o Oh look that. Only 1 chapter to go. Surprised? hahahah I spent the whole evening reading this. Just like I told you. NO ONE can stop me! lalalala *off to last chapter..

    • Haha, yeah sadly. Hiko did not make it. I felt pretty forced to do that to be honest. The people that have been reading it, did not like him and were always making about comments about how she should leave him, how they did not like him, so I felt very meh every chapter.

      Yes Miroku is quite perceptive and fairly intelligent. He was well aware that Kazuma and Tadayoshi were one in the same.

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