It was about two in the morning when Miroku moved away from the piano. He had noticed when his daughter left with Mikio and as much as he wanted to be unconcerned about that situation it weighed heavily on him, so much so that his concentration was at its limit. Mikio had informed him months ago that he intended to tell Tationy how he felt about her, but there was something else. It was unspoken, but Miroku was certain it had to do with Hiko and the fact that Tationy had remained with a man that had violated her.
Even as his friends talked at him, his mind was so muddled with unwanted thoughts that he scarcely heard anything they said until Toshiro asked, “Did you see that the little ‘baby doll’ is back?”
Miroku found that his eyes scanned the room seeking out the young woman that Tequila Monsters had dubbed, ‘baby doll’. Among the patrons of the whiskey bar frequented by Tequila Monsters she was the one most out of place. He had never once seen her speak to anyone other than to say excuse me, thank you, or sorry. She was always avoiding eye contact and through the nights that she visited she would always start on one side of the room and then gradually work her way around. The closer she got to Tequila Monsters the more she blushed. The boys figured her to be some groupie and even though several of them had talked about approaching her, none of them ever did.
Truth was he could use the distraction, so he took a step in her direction which elicited some hooting and hollering from his drunken band-mates. The closer he got the better he could see her. Judging by her appearance she was probably a couple of years younger than his daughter. When he finally stopped near her he opened his mouth to speak and he heard a soft gasp of breath and her cheeks grew pinker. His brows furrowed when he realized she was nervous. He thought at first that perhaps the boys in the band were right and she was some sort of groupie looking to hang with them, but she could not even look at him. Shyness from a groupie usually did not result in what they wanted so he deduced that the pink hue along her cheeks was for another reason.
“Hey,” He said casually his eyes fixed on her face. She noticeably fidgeted as Miroku continued talking, “I like the color of your dress.”
It was obvious to Miroku she was nervous, “You have been coming here a lot.”
“I like you….your music.”
Even though it seemed like she had stumbled over her words, Miroku’s scrutinizing gaze washed over her. He was not a novice when it came to affairs of the heart. He learned early on when a girl starts out a sentence with I like you, there is nothing else that generally follows unless she is afraid you will reject her. Not to mention he had a daughter about the same age so he was familiar with the blushing and fidgeting of a girl with a crush. Miroku was not the type of man to take advantage and play with a young woman’s emotions, so at first he was cautious, “Yeah, what is your favorite song?”
At first he thought she was not going to answer him. He almost thought he saw the wheels turning as she kept her eyes averted and responded, “Polyphonic Riffs.”
Miroku expected her to name one of the songs that they had played that evening, but instead she had chosen one that they had not played for nearly six months. “What do you like about it?”
“Well I don’t really understand what it is about, but I like how it sounds. It’s…really powerful.”
Her voice seemed small, not exactly quiet or shy, just reluctant. Miroku deduced she was probably concerned about how she might be perceived. For just a moment he considered her words, “It is about a terrible love that burdens you. When you are with this person, you are at your best and your worst. When they are gone you long for all of those things that you hate including the conflict because it is easier to embrace it than it is to move on. The riffs and cords are done in a way so the first moment the song starts, you are pulled into the relationship and the melody takes you on the journey.”
“Did you write it?”
“You are really talented, Miro-kun.”
There was a moment that he found himself without words. She must have realized what she said because she quickly began to fidget and look away. If she wanted to escape there was little room for her to try because he had closed some of the distance between them. He leaned down so that he might gaze into her eyes, “Did you just call me Miro-kun?”
He could feel the eyes of his band-mates and friends on them as he adjusted his posture, “No, it is alright. I would prefer you just call me Miroku, but you can call me Miro if you want. Though the honorific is unnecessary. My father believed in that sort pretense and respect, I never really saw a point. What should I call you?”
“I’m Ameya Sou, but everyone just calls me Chii.”
“Which do you prefer?”
“Chii is alright.”
Miroku could not decide how he felt about this development. When he approached her he was certain he would find out she had some sort of crush on Toshiro or even Kuro who were closer to her age, but here he was old enough to be her father and it was clearly evident by the way she continued to blush that her attention was only on him. “Do you dance Chii?”
“I can, yes.”
The music was lively and loud, but he did not give her a chance to start dancing as he reached down and took her hand. He could feel the tension in her fingers and her body as he pulled her in close to him. Miroku could see her eyes better this way because she had looked up at him in surprise. He hated to admit it to himself, but she was his type. Of course the last woman that was turned out to be a selfish bitch that only cared about herself. He had baggage. All of those bad habits that kicked his butt through the years he had dropped, except one.
Certainly she had moved on long ago taking with her what remained of the money Tadayoshi Kari had given him. She returned, when she felt like it, but eventually she stopped coming back. He always figured she would find her way to the man she truly loved, Katsu Kari, but instead she went to Europe with Emitoya Sosa. Miroku inwardly sighed, in the grand scheme of things it did not matter who Chilè was sleeping with. He told himself a hundred times it was no longer his business, but when he came face-to-face with the future, all he could do was think about the past and how it didn’t turn out like he had wanted. Perhaps he was afraid he would make the same mistakes. It was about the only thing that made the somewhat confident Miroku Tylo apprehensive.
Her soft voice brought him back to reality, “Miro, it is a fast song. Everyone is looking at us.”
“It is okay like this, isn’t it?”
He noticed how her eyes widened as she managed a soft, “Uh…” There was a long pause that followed as her eyes stared into his. She had such a bewildered and questioning look, but eventually she responded, “It is … okay.”
Miroku studied every feature of her face. Somewhere within her blood she was probably Yamada due to the color of her hair, but it was obvious she was of mixed ethnicity though not quickly identifiable to even him. Her language skills told him that she had not lived in Aslann long, though she was fluent enough that he could understand her. There was nothing about her that jumped out at him that would signified she was from a particular bloodline which told him that she was probably Takahashi, Shinohara, or Kensuku. The blood of those families tended to vary in looks. He did not know her well enough to ask, so anything at that point was just speculation.
As relaxing as it was having her soft body pressed against him he was acutely aware that this distraction could not last and he would have to go home. He was certain reality was waiting for him there. His daughter and Mikio Ishi where probably deep into conversation at this point. He was not certain he was prepared to handle that situation. She was an adult, so it was not his place to clean up the mess that was her life and there was a chance that he would fail if he tried. He had no control over the feelings and desires of the people around him. The most he could do was express his approval or disapproval and give advice.
“Miro, are you alright?”
Her question snapped him back to his own reality. The concern on her face made him realize that he had been distracted by his own thoughts for some time, “I just have a lot on my mind. Don’t let my mood taint the moment.”
“If you want to talk, I listen really well.”
Miroku forced himself to pull away from her, “Do you have a phone?”
At first she stared at him slightly bewildered. He deduced that the sudden distance he put between himself and her probably was the cause of her expression. It took her a moment, but eventually he noticed how she nervously reached for a small purse setting on a nearby table. She riffled through it rather quickly while he watched and waited. When she turned back to him his hand was already ready to take her phone. She fidgeted while he added his number to her contacts, “You say you listen really well,” He handed her back her cell-phone, “You might regret that statement, I have a lot of stuff that I need to unburden myself from.”
“We all have things in our lives that weigh heavily on us. Sometimes it takes two people to carry such a load.”
Miroku smirked, “Young and wise, not a combination often seen these days.” He paused a moment, “As much as I wish this night could last, eventually it has to come to an end. This is where we part company Chii.”
She seemed reluctant at first to take her phone back or perhaps it was because the night was ending so soon. Though it was nearly three in the morning and as much he wanted to stay and close down the pub with everyone, Miroku told himself when he was getting sober that it was better if he set limits for himself. So no matter what was going on, he always left no later than three. He noticed that the soft hue to her cheeks never once disappeared during their entire encounter as she played with her hands rather nervously, “Alright, Miro.”
He could hear it in her voice, it was disappointment, “I will be home in about thirty minutes, text me if you like.”
There was a brightness in her eyes, “I will, I promise I’ll text you.”
Miroku was reminded sharply of how young she was, by her enthusiasm at being given just a little access to him. She was certainly smitten, but he refused to take advantage of that. If he wanted a warm body in his bed he was sure she would not turn him down, but nothing was gained by either of them moving at such a pace. They did not know each other. He could not even completely fathom what made a girl like her tick, after all she was crushing on someone she did not even know. Miroku inwardly sighed thinking how it must be nice to be young and have the freedom to give your heart over to someone so easily. Chii probably had not been burdened with the pain of a broken heart. Such a weight tainted any relationship one might even consider having. He rather envied the wings her heart had. His had been clipped by Chilè long ago, “I look forward to it.”
Miroku made his way home with many thoughts in his head about what he might encounter when he opened the door to his apartment. He was grateful when he noticed that Mikio appeared to be gone, his daughter dressed for bed, “Wow, home before the sun is up, are you sick?”
With a half smirk Miroku responded, “Part of being sober means setting limits for myself. I make a habit of being home no later then this time any time I go out.”
“I am glad to hear you are not drinking.”
There was a pause that followed her words, “Do you have something you wish to say?”
For a moment it seemed as though she was considering her words, “For a long time I thought you did not want me. Was it the alcohol that put the distance between us?”
“Not entirely,” Miroku responded as he stepped further into his apartment and gestured for her to join him on the sofa. “When I was young I was idealistic. I foolishly believed that if your mother and I were careful that we could protect you from the Kari. As time progressed and things with your mother grew complicated there was little that could stop the burdened thoughts. Always wondering when they would come. Trying to keep you protected from such a life. The Tylo are acutely aware of what the Kari do to our men and women when they are believed to be the reincarnate of Tearra. Eventually, they stopped fighting. I was carrying the burden alone and realizing that perhaps I had made a mistake getting involved with your mother. I don’t regret having you, but I would have done things differently. There were many unwanted thoughts that put a distance between us as I grew to accept the inevitable. Eventually the Kari would come to take you and this poor Tylo man would be able to do nothing to stop it.”
The long drawn out pause that followed his words caused him concern. Eventually her response came when she rested her head to his shoulder. His lips curved into a soft smile as he tilted his head just enough to look at her. She was always a forgiving child even to those people that did not deserve her forgiveness, “What is wrong with Mikio?”
Her question forced his smile to fade, “So you noticed.”
His pause after the statement offered her a brief moment to respond, “He has always been a bit awkward, but this time it was different. He felt different.”
“He was diagnosed with Imitso Encephalopathy a year ago.”
“The disease of the Ishi?”
“He wanted to tell you how he felt about you before the insanity took him. He has been getting progressively worse. Kuro does not think he has much time left before he will become a danger to himself and others.”
“Why didn’t he tell me?”
“I imagine he thought you would stay at his side if he told you. Is he wrong?”
Miroku could hear the subtle sniffle which told him that she was tearing up, “He should not be alone.”
“Mikio does not want you at his side if you do not wish to be there. He is a man that wants you to love him. I told him I thought it was a mistake to open his heart, but he told me that he had to. If nothing else, he needed to share that part of his heart with you. I imagine, it did not go as he wished it; you did not return his feelings and he was unable to keep the ‘monster’ that is the Ishi insanity at bay. He did not harm you did he?”
“No, he was quite inappropriate, but he never hurt me.” Tationy had paused before asking, “I am not going to see him again am I?”
“It is how he wants it.”
Watching as his daughter pulled away and moved toward the window, Miroku felt a breaking in his own heart. There was nothing quite like the pain a parent felt when there was nothing they could to to help their child. “Who is the girl?”
He was acutely aware of this side of his daughter’s personality. When she did not wish to discuss things that were emotionally taxing, she changed the topic, “What girl?”
“The one you were close to. The one that smells like toasted marshmallows. Have you moved on from mother?”
“I don’t believe my personal life is a topic of conversation….”
“I learned to avoid from you.”
Miroku pursed his lips. He wished he could argue with that, but it was a true enough statement. He was always changing the focus off of himself, changing a topic when it became much too uncomfortable to discuss, not to mention he was notorious for making bad decisions especially where women were concerned. Some of his daughter’s worst habits were a direct result of him. Acutely aware of his shortcomings he responded, “Her name is Chii.”
“Do you like her?”
“Tonight was the first time I have spoken with her.”
“Any number of reasons.”
“Are you afraid of moving forward without mother?”
“More afraid of messing up. I was not the best husband or father.”
“Difficult to be a great husband when your wife is sleeping around on you. It was not as though there was anything left of that relationship for you to fight for. There probably never was. I don’t think she ever loved either of us. There are times I wish I was wrong and that in her own way she felt something, but I ….”
“Your mother loved you.”
“You don’t have to pretend with me. We are both Tylo. We belong to the Kari. Love is not an option for us even from our parents.” She did not even look at him when she turned to walk toward her bedroom, “Goodnight.”
Miroku kicked himself for not finding the words to say to her. He understood well the emotional roller-coaster she was on. It was one that every Tylo, regardless of whether they were male or female experienced. A Tylo’s life was never really their own. With the unwanted thoughts lingering he moved toward his bedroom. He only managed to relax after he pulled his clothes off and took a seat on his bed.
He doubted he was going to get to sleep for a while his mind was too preoccupied with unwanted thoughts. No matter how much he wished to give his daughter advice on how to proceed with her life, the truth of the matter was, he couldn’t. She was the only one capable of making the decision to stay in the same spot or move forward. Not that such a thing was easy. He was almost thankful when his phone began buzzing, indicative that he had an incoming text message because it freed him of unwelcome thoughts.
He told himself that her words were not intended in such a way, but the heaviness that followed brought tension throughout his body. He had always wanted Chilè to tell him that he made her happy. She never did though. He doubted there was ever a time when she even considered speaking the words.
He sat up rubbing his face his phone still held in his hand. Miroku tried desperately not to dwell on her words. Nothing was gained by being sucked in by the words of a girl around her daughter’s age. She was young. Too young to understand the ways of the world. More importantly, he was Tylo. He had nothing to offer her.
There was doubt. Miroku was generally a confident man, but when it came to love and even lust he admittedly was a failure. Tylo men wore their hearts on their sleeves. They fell in love easily. It was not a love that was fleeting. No, when they fell in love it was hard and everlasting.
The moment he laid his eyes on Chilè she had been his everything. It was not as though genuinely interested women were beating down his door. He could not help wondering if he was perhaps leading this girl on. Was he desperate for affection? When his phone buzzed he realized he had not responded to her previous message.
He stared at her last message. Miroku knew nothing about this girl. Clearly she was not as shy as she appeared to be or perhaps it was just with him that she felt comfortable enough to be so bold. Was this really a road he wanted to go down? He was not certain. It had been a long time for him. He had not shared intimate moments with another person in many years. He doubted someone so young would have a heart that was everlasting.
Girls her age, fell in love every other day. His daughter was no different. Fickle hearts. He pursed his lips when he realized that he was perhaps judging her without knowing her. Even his daughter, could he say her heart was fickle. She had been with Hiko for many years and even stayed with him after what he did. Even though some might not understand her reasoning, it showed a strength and devotion to love that her mother had never displayed. Maybe a young heart was just what he needed.
He stood and quickly snapped a picture sending it to her. Hero had always joked that Miroku was the worst at taking ‘selfies’ because he always looked uncomfortable and stiff. The truth of the matter was, technology was not his favorite thing. He felt something was lost by the current generation. They shared everything about themselves on social media, things that they probably should not share and forgot to enjoy the world around them. Life could be its own adventure, but one had to live it to experience it. That of course did not mean tweeting about what you had for breakfast. Miroku half expected his message to chase her away, but only moments later his phone began to buzz.
Her smiling face at first caught him off guard eventually bringing calm to the burden thoughts that had been plaguing him. When they had danced he had asked her if it was alright like this. The question was more for him then it was for her and he realized as he stared upon her smiling face that he was ready for something real, even if it was brief. He was certain her heart would become fleeting like all young people, but for now he intended to move forward with her for as long as she would let him; if she would even let him.
To Be Continued