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Things hadn’t changed overnight. The first year for Tationy and the Kari was filled with daily struggles. There were many among the Kari that disapproved of Tadayoshi’s decision to leave such an important matter to a woman, regardless of her power. In January, Zen had encouraged Tationy to embrace her future. At the time she really did not know what that meant, but he was often talking with her about attending a university.

Juggling the life of a socialite, the face of the Kari, managing family and friends, not to mention dealing with her own wayward emotions posed many challenges for Tationy. Attending a university was the furthest thing from her mind. Zen was persistent, but not just with that. He encouraged her to come back to work at the Kari Foundation while Osa was in school. He even went as far as to build a daycare just so she might consider it. Eventually his persistence paid off and Tationy came back, but only part-time.

Oddly enough, it was that small little push that helped encourage her to take a larger step.

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Taking the entrance examine for Aslann University had been frightening for Tationy. She had never considered herself particularly intelligent and even if by some chance she had passed could she really go back to school? It was not as though she was just out of high school. She was a mother of two, just turned twenty-six years old, and she was constantly busy with the Kari. There were plenty of moments where she wondered if it was a journey she even wanted to take.

Between Zen and Kyo, she managed to put aside her fears and take that nerve wrecking first step into the unknown. It would take her almost a year of school before she decided on a major. Zen had been surprised and impressed by her choice, but she was determined to get a Masters in Information Systems; though she was not certain what she would do after that.

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Even though she thought often about leaving Hiko’s home behind and moving someplace entirely different, she had found great difficulty that first year pulling herself away. She was determined to let the past go, but Hiko was ever present in her life even though he was no longer among the living. Thankfully, she was offered a great deal of distraction after the ‘plane crash’ in the form of Kin’s father Kyo. Perhaps, it had something to do with his brother Tadayoshi. Honestly, Tationy never understood why he stayed, but for six months Kyo was a permanent fixture at her home.

The boys loved having him around. In a way it was a lot like having Kin there, minus the constant bickering. Kyo had been supportive and helpful to Tationy, but more importantly he gave Kazuma and Osa the father figure they were both desperately in need of. When he was not doting on the boys, he was helping Zen run the Kari Foundation and walking Tationy through the finer points of having a Kari man in her life.

In the end, she was disappointed when he left. His wife Eri had been supportive of his decision to remain in Aslann for those months. He often joked that she was probably glad to get rid of him. Tationy could tell he missed her and his son Baito, but whatever his reasons he felt it necessary to be there for Tationy and the boys.

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Kin seemed to enjoy having his father in Aslann. Even though he spent a good month handling the ‘rescue and recovery’ efforts on Shimragata, when he had the opportunities to return to Bridgeport he did. Things had gone as Zen had meticulously planned with the recovery of the bodies and most of the plane. The cause was determined to be pilot error in the end, despite the numerous technical errors that were sited. Kin had to field many questions during that time and handle plenty of legal matters pertaining to the estates of the Kari and Shima who had lost their lives which included the legal documents that Tationy had signed a couple of months prior. Though, Kin had made a notable change, giving Tationy sole custody of Osa instead of joint with Tadayoshi.

With him back in Aslann, there was plenty of speculation from Kyo and Zen about whether or not Tationy and Kin would resume their relationship. Unfortunately, Tationy could not bring herself to get involved with him. Things with Kazuma were still up in the air at that point and she had far too much going on in her life to welcome Kin to her bed. Kyo’s words regarding love had stuck with her. Kin deserved to have someone that loved him and she was simply not that girl, no matter how great of a man he was.

They remained close friends, but in the end Kin was not as strong as he thought he was. Carrying her burden and his was simply too much so when the opportunity arose four months later to build a new corporation in America, he jumped at the chance to run it. There was admittedly a point where Tationy thought she might lose it. Kin and her had always been friends, but during that brief time she grew so use to having him there and then he was gone. Even though they talked on the phone almost every day, it did not feel the same. It would have been too easy for her to run to him. The most difficult thing she had to do was letting him walk away and keeping herself from following.

Taking the first steps into the American market required a lot of support and backing from the Kari all around the world. Those situated in England, Japan, China, France, and Spain made their way to America to help Kin. The Kari was going to be a name known around the world if they had anything to say about it. Financial backing from the Waichia Financial Institution and support from major families including the Wiachia, Ishi, and Takahashi allowed the Kari to work toward the goal of showing the power of Aslann. If things went well, there would be benefits and not just for the Kari. It would open doors, where there were none before.

Kin had taken the position of CEO, with the support of Zen. His father, Kyo and two brothers, Baito and Erobus also joined him within the company. There was confidence among the modernized Kari that this would be a move of great value for the Kari as a whole.

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There was tension though. Some of the more traditional Kari were concerned about where this move might lead them. The last thing the traditionalist wanted was for the Kari to become westernized and for Aslann to lose what made it truly unique. Certainly there had been a lot of modernization through the decades, but a push toward westernization was exactly what people like Tatsuya Kari were truly concerned about. Despite his misgivings about the move into the American markets he supported the Kari and returned to Aslann upon the departure of Kyo.

All Kari at the Foundation were surprised, but none more so then Zen. Tatsuya had brought with him thirty-six Kari whom all had forsaken modernization for the discipline and comforts that tradition gave them. Despite their unique differences from those within Aslann, they had come to assist. Tationy had found the experience to be quite unique and rewarding. She learned so much during that time. All of the Kari that joined Tatsuya were highly educated. These were not men just plowing fields and tending gardens. They had all went through the trials, spent time at the Kari Foundation, and every single of one of them had degrees in various fields of study. They had simply chosen a life away from modernization.

The support of Tatsuya had gone a long way. His hand was far-reaching and he was able to pull Kari in to help that had chosen tradition over modernization. The loss of the Kari in the strike made by Hiko and the Saitama quickly diminished the loss of numbers as Kari found their way to the Foundation.

Even though there were many that voiced their opinions that Tatsuya should become the next Elder of the Kari, he never pressed the issue. He was not a demanding man and Tationy found that even though he did feel he was suited for the position, he would not force her to choose him. The decision was left in the care of the Queen of the Gods by her King. The humbled traditionalist respected and understood that such a decision could not be made rashly and he did not expect his actions to sway her decision. He cared for the Kari and protecting and aiding them was all that mattered to him.

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Zen had taken control of the Kari Foundation in Aslann. In the position of power, the business flourished, much as it had under Hiko and with the Saitama behind him, Zen was virtually untouchable. Tationy was often telling him he worked too much. Truthfully, he thought he did not work enough. Money did not sleep, so why should he? When there were issues, he handled them. Zen had always been about crisis management, but to Tationy the business seemed more of an escape.

She would often catch him looking longingly at the small little crane left in his car by Kuro Ishi. Tationy suspected that there had been a part of Zen that was tempted, probably more so then he had expected to ever be. Whatever feelings he felt in that brief moment for Kuro, was just a sharp reminder that he needed to harden himself.

Zen had told Tationy once that if a Kari man was tempted, it was because he lacked discipline. There was little reason to protest. Tationy would never have expected Zen to give up whom he was for an identity he had abandoned long ago. Truth of the matter was, he was a married man. He had a son. He was Kari. An identity based on a lie, but one that he was unwilling to let go of. Zen focused on all aspects of the Kari and never spoke to Kuro again.

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Tadayoshi had remained hidden from the public eye. There was plenty of speculation and rumors about why. Some had called him an eccentric genius whose love of tradition had forced him into seclusion so he could dedicate the remainder of his life to meditation and spiritual betterment. Others thought the loss of so many Kari, including his son and brother, was simply too much for one man to withstand. The truth was far darker. Day by day his soul was crippled as he and Kazuma did battle over his body.

The Saitama stood watchful, but his only real visitors were his brother Kyo while he was in Aslann, Zen, and the Osoma of the Kari.

Semei upon his first visit with the Elder of the Kari, Tadayoshi felt the damage. He was broken. Even though he kept it to himself, knowing that Kazuma looked for Kari that could be overpowered devastated his own beliefs much as it had for Tadayoshi and Zen. He understood why he and Tatsuya were being kept away from the Elder. If this knowledge were to be learned, it would destroy the very beliefs of the Kari.

It took Semei two years of research, and another year to create the perfect inking. He could not say with any certainty that it would bind Kazuma to a body that held one of his marks. There was no way of knowing if it would work until the battle between Tadayoshi and Kazuma was settled.  Once Kazuma was in control, if the inking he placed upon Tadayoshi was functioning, Kazuma would be forced violently out of his vessel. Any attempt at that point for the god to be reincarnated in a non-marked Kari would result in him being unable to be reborn.

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Tationy had heard from her father just over a year after she asked him to leave Aslann. Much to her surprise, Miroku and Chii had settled in Canada and thanks to the money Tationy had given to her father, they were able to get a little place and have plenty left over to live comfortably. More importantly, they were far enough away from Aslann and the Kari. Miroku and Chii spent that first year getting closer, but until things were settled with Tationy’s mother, Miroku refused to be intimate with Chii. Eventually, six months after their arrival in Canada Miroku got word that the divorce was finalized. Chilè had been surprisingly civil, not putting up a fight or dragging it out. For the couple, there was no reason to hold back any longer.

Miroku had never thought he might get a chance to be a father again, but Chii had blessed him with a son that they named Tatsuya. He had his father’s hair, his mother’s face and eyes, and for the first time in many years the possibilities seemed endless. There were moments that the couple struggled. Chii had wanted to get married and Miroku was just not ready to take that step. It was not that he did not love her, he did, he simply had not come to terms with how his last marriage ended and was not confident that he wouldn’t make the same mistakes. Chii was ever accommodating. Even though she was disappointed, the part of her that understood his feelings relented and let it go.

Despite giving up on college, Chii continued to paint. While Miroku stayed at home, she apprenticed under a local baker. She loved to paint, but baking was her passion and it got her out of the house for a few hours every day. It wasn’t long though before Chii found herself pregnant again. While she longingly hoped for a little girl, Miroku wanted another son. Chii could tell he was afraid that if Tationy failed to deal with the god Kazuma that their children would not be safe; despite, both boys and girls being at risk she could tell he was more concerned that their daughter might suffer the same fate as previous Tylo women. Perhaps that was why there was a sudden arrival and Chii had a house filled with men.

Whatever the reason, the little family had permanent company in the form of Hero Takahashi, Toshiro Waichia, and good friend Sadamitsu Anami.

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Suddenly having a full house led to some unexpected arguments, particularly between Chii and Hero. She knew he did not like her and even though Miroku explained why there was still a lot of tension between them. Through it all, she understood that Hero was just looking out for his friend.

Eventually she decided that some things were simply out of her hands and would tell Tationy in a letter that she was fine with having them there. Miroku’s tension dissipated quite a bit with them around and the band began to play various clubs within the area with Sadamitsu taking over for Kuro. She had ended the letter with a postscript, “Some days the world seems very strange to me. When I see Miroku, happy and laughing I think to myself there must be a reason for all of this. Why would Hero and the others come all this way, if there wasn’t something driving them. I have come to realize it is not so much a higher power directing us, but single strands of fate that bind us to certain people. Where Miroku goes, Hero will always follow and from there so will the others. We are connected to people, tied to them, and no matter how many lives we live fate will always bring us together.”

Whether it was Chii’s intention or not, her words had a rather lasting impression upon Tationy and she thought of them often through the years.

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After Miroku left Aslann, Tationy lost track of Kuro. Not that he was ever that reliable in the communication’s department, but she would only see him now and again at various functions around Aslann. He never spoke, perhaps there was simply too much weighing him down. There was no way of knowing. Kuro had always been the type of guy to speak if he wished to and you never really knew what he was thinking or feeling. He was probably more guarded than she was.

It was only through Zen that she would learn that Kuro stepped away from the Ishi shipping company. Where he went and what he did, she did not know, but he left the company in the care of Jin Ishi, the vessel of the god Rin. Tationy thought perhaps Kuro found his way to wherever Mikio was and that the brothers were together. She had asked Jin once, when they were together at a charity event how Kuro and Mikio were doing and he simply shrugged his shoulders. She suspected that whatever demons Mikio suffered from, probably also overtook Kuro. All she did know was that Kuro disappeared from Aslann and Jin returned, though he did so without Luna Hamara, the vessel of Hisoka.

rffffgggg

A couple of years after Kuro’s departure, Jin would visit the Kari Foundation to give Tationy a postcard. She had hoped it was from Kuro, but much to her surprise the card was from Luna, more specifically the previous vessel of Hisoka. The postmark was from 1959, written in what she was certain was a man’s scrawl. It was addressed to Tearra, care of Rin Ishi. The postcard brought forth way too many questions and Jin simply did not have the answers for her; nor could he give her any insight on the question posed by Hisoka. Tationy had begged Jin to tell her where to find Luna, but he refused stating that where Luna had gone no one could follow. She lost many nights of sleep over it all.

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Tationy wanted desperately to hide in the shadows, but as the face of the Kari she was encouraged to make appearances around Aslann. It was almost required of her to be a part of any charity event, fundraiser, fashionable affair, elite party, and the hottest club scenes. It was exhausting. The months after the ‘crash’ were the hardest because it was about showing her face during a time of mourning. It would be a long time before she relaxed enough to enjoy herself at any event. Three years into what she thought was complete torture, she was reunited with old friends Tsubaki Zenaku and Abe Sosa. The three of them along with Takuya Waichia were dubbed the Power Four by the Aslann press and it was only after their reunion that she started attending various functions with other people.

Within those three years, Tsubaki had made a name for herself in the world of fashion. She had become so sought after that some agencies even began a bidding war over her. Exotic women like her were highly sought after. She worked in Paris, New York, Milan, but eventually she found her way home to Aslann.

Abe Sosa played professional baseball for the Aslann Wild Cats right out of high school; a switch hitter who served as the teams cleanup. He was the highest paid professional sportsman in Aslann bringing home thirty million a season. He had all the skills necessary to play professional baseball in America, but when you can get the same amount of money in your home country the benefits outweighed the move.

Takuya controlled all the money coming in and going out of Aslann through the Waichia Financial Institution. Hiko had been the richest and most powerful man in Aslann; Takuya was the second. With Hiko gone people looked to him; a single word from him could make or break a deal.

Tationy as the face of the Kari, with the backing of Hiko’s fortune, and the strong hand of the Kari behind her was untouchable. Being the ‘it girl’ of Aslann was a role that took her a while to accept.

The sad truth was that the four of them had more influence and power than the Emperor of Aslann himself. They were always in the papers or on the news. Every little thing they did was completely scrutinized.

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The foursome was not without scandal. In fact, one reporter had described them as almost thirty, flirty, and drunk with power. There was plenty of speculation and even indecent commentary about them swapping partners and engaging in wild-nights together. The truth was far more scandalous.

After the announcement of Hiko’s death, Tationy had asked Takuya for a favor. He waited years to collect on it and what he wanted had come as no surprise. Takuya, loved to watch. That was his perversion. It was a price that Tationy had told Zen she was willing to pay. In the public eye they were a couple, but in private he was watching her and Abe; sometimes if the mood struck Takuya he would even invite Tsubaki to join them. When the four of them gathered at one function or another, after it was over they would leave together.

Takuya had told Tationy that when Hiko had put her up on the auction it was his intent to buy her. It was not because he wanted to have sex with her, but because he wanted to watch Hiko have sex with her. He considered it a great disappointment that he never got the opportunity to watch a commanding force like Hiko Kari break the virgin.

For a year she submitted to Takuya’s perversion and when their mutual business was concluded they privately went their separate ways which led to an uproar among the public about their ‘breakup’. Tationy had not spoken on it, but Takuya told the press that Tationy was a good girl that was looking for the white picket fence and he was just not that kind of man. They had fun, but going into the future they were not on the same page in their relationship.

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It was not long after the ‘breakup’ between Takuya and Tationy that her sexual assault at the hands of Hiko Kari was leaked to the press via a fired nurse at Doctor Chee Hamara’s office; the initial doctor she had seen many years ago. Tationy had always suspected that at some point it would come out. The leak hurt not just her, but the Kari, her children, and the detectives that investigated. Both were suspected at first of leaking the information and were suspended pending investigation.

Tationy had felt bad upon hearing of Detective Guiren Takahashi and Detective Kiyoshi Kensuku’s situations so she contacted them. With the backing of Zen she offered them both jobs as security for the Kari. Guiren refused after having gotten a call from Nala Kari. It did not take him long to head off to Spain. Kiyoshi who had a son to take care of accepted the position and was thrust out front as Tationy’s shield during the feeding frenzy from the press.

There was not a single place she was safe to travel without having a camera of some sorts in her face. Zen did damage control the best he could, but there was little way to spin a sexual assault. In the end, he had informed the press that Hiko had suffered from depression for many years and while he was alive he was under the care of a psychiatrist. That while on Shimragata, he had experienced a manic episode and had in fact sexually assaulted Tationy; explaining that after many conversations, nearly a year apart, and counseling that Tationy and Hiko decided to reunite.

Tationy purposely avoided any questions regarding the assault and why she stayed at Hiko’s side hoping that Zen’s spin on things would quench the curiosity, but unfortunately it led to considerable speculation.

Talk shows often had specialist come in and speak about survivors of sexual assaults and their behavior afterwards and many were particularly interested in picking apart everything Tationy did. In the end, her hand was forced and she had to speak publicly about the incident. She went into the situation prepared, informing the public that it was not as uncommon as people thought. Ten to fourteen percent of women involved in a committed relationship were raped or sexually assaulted in some form by their a significant other. The shocking truth was that Aslann had no laws against spousal or ‘date’ rape and most countries including the United States, marital rape was not even a crime until 1983.

Tationy did not want to be an advocate for changing the laws of Aslann, but far too many rape survivors looked to her as their voice. She hated it and yet understood why they did. As much as she did not want to be that person, she knew that her voice could reach many because of the power she had. Regardless, it did not change the fact that she did not want that sort of responsibility. The hardest part for her was keeping her composure when people were saying negative things about the man she loved. Often she had to remind herself to be pleasant and just keep smiling. She wanted to move forward, not be anchored by the past.

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The stress of the situation was starting to weigh Tationy done to the point of where her headaches were persistent. She had continued to see Oji Waichia to help work through her issues, but found after the unfortunate announcement of her assault that once a week was simply not enough time for her to work through the turmoil. Tationy had wanted to put it all behind her, but it was really not something you could move past easily. She would take a step in the right direction, only to be forced violently back into the same place and time when it all happened.

Oji had told her often enough that it was continual process and that there would be stumbles, but as long as she pushed through she would find some light at the end of it.

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When Chilè made her return to Aslann, Tationy never expected to be seeing her mother on nearly a daily basis. Every gala, charity, fundraiser, or party thrown they were both in attendance. There were often questions by the public about their relationship and the rumored tension. Her mother always played it off and Tationy simply refused to speak on it, but there did come times when the two of them had to work together. Some days the life of a socialite in Aslann felt like an episode of The Real Housewives.

Mother and daughter would jointly throw a themed social gathering called ‘Diamonds and Swimsuits’ every six months. In the beginning the parties were thrown at the home of Emitoya Sosa, father of Abe and boyfriend to Chilè. That of course was doomed to not last. With Tationy’s grandmother being on her deathbed, much to the surprise of the nation of Aslann power of attorney over her estate went to Chilè. Despite having been disowned, she had never been removed from Miso’s will leaving her control over everything in the event that Miso could no longer manage her estate. Chilè had always been about power and money and once she had it all, she had no use for Emitoya.

In the end, their cooperative moments had nothing to do with reuniting or making amends. They were simply a means to keep up the proper appearances.

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Even with all the help Zen had given Tationy through the years there were still plenty of struggles raising two boys. As they got older Tationy quickly realized that the loss of a true father figure in their lives had hardened them both in different ways. Osa had become rather rigid and serious, far more so then he had ever been. He was almost as good at hiding away his emotions as most Kari men. He had adopted many of the ways that the Kari followed including growing out his hair and dressing traditionally.

At several points in Osa’s life, Zen had brought up the topic of Osa needing to travel to Meratoia. Even though Zen had felt he was more than capable of training Osa in the ways of the Kari, as his ‘father by proxy’ he was too close. Kari men learned their bad habits from their fathers and Zen was as close to one for Osa as he had. He needed to be around boys his age, and learn the traditions from Kari men he was not closely tied too. Tationy had mentioned often enough that Osa was Shima and not Kari, but Zen insisted that Osa was Kari because Tadayoshi had deemed him as such when he took responsibility for him.

It was not as though she could win an argument against Zen so even though she was not certain if it was in Osa’s best interest, she relented and allowed him to go to Meratoia when he was eleven. For two years, he would reside on the island among the traditionalist of the Kari. He would attend school, learn the traditions and ways of the Kari, and eventually even go through the trials. He would return home to Aslann when he was thirteen years old, a man of the Kari.

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Kazuma was angry all the time. He was short-tempered, excessively stubborn, and to say he was willful was an understatement. As he aged, Zen described him as ten times more difficult than Hiko himself. Tationy had thought him more restless than anything else. She could understand, he had little direction and the men in his life were always coming and going. Kin had kept his word and was there for every important milestone of Kazuma’s life. He never missed a birthday or an event that was important to Kazuma. Even so, Kazuma gradually grew to resent Kin coming around. He was young and did not really understand why Kin kept a distance and Tationy didn’t know how to explain it to him.

When it was ‘leaked’ that Hiko Kari had raped Tationy, things for Kazuma had intensified. School life for him became difficult and he was often getting into fights. There were many negative things said about Hiko in the press and as much as Tationy tried to explain and shield Kazuma, at the age of seven he was not really equipped to fully understand. He was the product of a sexual assault, it led to so many questions for him. When he was not satisfied with the answers he resorted to lashing out. Anyone was fair game.

He spent much of his time ‘running away’ and hiding until it was almost dark. Kicked out of school Tationy was forced to hire private tutors to attend to his education, but even she could not fill the void or take the pain away no matter how hard she tried.

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Tationy every month since the funeral that laid to rest the bodies of the Kari and Shima, would go and visit their graves. Fresh flowers were always ordered, and not a single grave was neglected. It was a moment of humility as she honored those that had been sacrificed. It was not about her pain even though it still stung deeply. When she was there, it was about remembering.

After the plane crash and the funeral, Tationy had made a vow to always visit Hiko’s grave. No matter where she was in her life or the world, once a month she was always standing before him. She did not expect the boys to be there, but for the most part both Osa and Kazuma had always joined her. Even though she was not just there honoring her love, she knew that if Hiko had still been alive he would understand why she tended to the graves of all of those that had fallen. It was a pain that was just as strong as the day it happened. She and Hiko had plotted together and because of it, the Kari and Shima had suffered.

Attending to their graves, was the least she could do in her humble opinion.

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As the years progressed, Kazuma’s unruliness became uncontrollable and Osa’s discipline rigid. He was one of the few people cable of managing the wild-child, but as time passed he understood that he could not always be there to be Kazuma’s keeper. Eventually, the small child would have to grow and progress; becoming a Kari man meant learning to stand on your own two feet and taking responsibility for your actions.

When he came before his mother with a request, Tationy was left speechless. He was now fifteen years old and he was asking her to let him go. She wanted to see Osa as a child that still needed her and even though Zen told her that Kari men always look to their mothers, she understood that having gone through the trials of the Kari, Osa was considered a man. He wanted to grow, expand his horizons, see the world, and she felt selfish for wanting to tell him no.

A Kari man must know himself and even though Osa did not have Kari blood he was just as much Kari as Kazuma; of course that did not mean he would not hear things like Shima scum, much as Kin had as a Maiba born Kari. Some things never changed, but it was those things that would make him stronger or break him. She knew this and still she struggled with giving him an answer.

Zen and Kin both spoke with Tationy about allowing Osa to take this journey, but ultimately it would be Kyo who would convince her that it was the right thing to do. Kin remained in Aslann after his trials not returning to his father and mother in America. This situation with Osa was no different. It was not about running from something, it was about running to something. Ambition was respected and even though she wanted to see him as the little boy she tried to protect, he was not powerless any longer.

It was with so much heartache that she allowed Osa to travel to America. Kin had agreed to be his guardian. He assured her that Osa would continue his education and learn his way around the Kari businesses. He would be a man of the Kari, well respected, and some day even the future of the company. Even though his words were comforting, it was Kyo reassuring her that he would keep an eye on Osa that calmed her weary heart.

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It was two in the morning when the alarm clock sounded. Tationy felt as though she only got about twenty minutes of sleep, if that and she remembered falling asleep to the thoughts of all of the things that had happened in the past six years. She reached out hitting the snooze button as she wiggled her body, seeking out the warmth of the man holding her tightly. She heard him groan agonizingly, “You keep moving against me like that you are going to wake the dragon.”

She laughed, “Trust me Abe, when I move like that I am definitely trying to wake him.”

His hips pressed forward and his moan was deep and throaty, “I like it when you talk like that.”

Once upon a time, they had a relationship. Long before Hiko Kari existed in her life, Abe Sosa was her boyfriend. Things had been complicated and ended after Abe cheated on her. Now, they had sex whenever the mood struck them. All of that started years ago, impart because of Takuya Waichia’s perverse need to be a voyeur. He watched and Tationy and Abe indulged. Even after that business arrangement ended, the two still came together now and again for a little fun, but their relationship was hardly traditional.

Tationy did not dare roll to face him, even though it was obvious he was trying to have his way with her. His hands were roaming freely along her body as he breathed hotly along her neck, “Let’s ….” He had not even gotten a chance to finish his words as the snooze alarm went off and he groaned because he was well aware of what was about to happen.

“Saved by the bell,” Tationy teased him as she pulled away much as she always did and shut the alarm off.

“Do you have to go?”

“I told Zen I would be home no later than three. So, yeah I have to go.”

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Even though it was clear he was frustrated, he propped himself up and watched her. For a time, there was quite a bit of silence. Tationy knew Abe well enough to know that he had something he wanted to say, but she was not going to press him to talk with her. “So,” There was a pause after he spoke, “I have been thinking. Maybe you shouldn’t take this trip. I get that you think it is a necessary move. Kazuma has been out of hand. No school will accept him with his disciplinary problems and you have already burned through four tutors, but Aslann still has a lot to offer.”

“Abe, things have not gotten better with him, only worse. Now that Osa is in America with Kin, he is so angry all the time. He has no friends. Zen cannot be there for him as much as he wants to be and Kazuma is so furious with Kin, that he does not even speak with him when he is here. He needs more than I can offer him right now and I trust Kyo. He thinks this will be good for Kazuma, so as much as I am dreading it I cannot change my mind.”

Noticeably he sighed, “I have been trying really hard Tationy to show you I am not that person I was back then and in a few hours you are going to be gone. I feel like this time, you and I won’t find each other again.”

After she had dress, she turned to face him. She considered that this moment seemed different, but she did not believe for a second that this was goodbye, “I am not worried,” Her voice a whisper, “No matter the place and time Abe, we will always be connected and in one form or another we will find each other; whether it be friends, lovers, rivals, or something else. This is a journey Kazuma and I have to make together. It might lead us far away from Aslann; lead me far away from you.” As she dressed, there was a moment of clarity in her mind as she thought back on that postcard sent to her by Hisoka. She did not understand why it was in this moment that she could hear the words of the god of love seeing she had searched Tearra’s memories for months and years without finding the answer, “The God of Love said once, ‘If you know my heart you will always be able to find me’. I am never that far away Abe, no matter the distance. If we are meant to come together again in this place and time, it will be because you know my heart.”

“What if we don’t?”

“Then we will try again in another life.”

“Not everyone has the luxury of being reborn over and over again.”

Tationy smiled, “Are you so certain about that Abe?”

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The sound that left his mouth was half annoyance and half amusement. This was how he was, “You always make it seem so simple.” Abe’s eyes closed as he relaxed his body. His silence told her that their conversation was over so she grabbed her purse and moved toward the door. She did not get very far as his words and his body, which had quickly closed the distance caught her off-guard, “I know this is not all about your son. As much trouble as he is, our heavenly deity is a bigger pain in the ass. I get you have to deal with him. When you told me all of that nonsense, I thought how fucked up our world was, but I never doubted it. It made sense actually, you always did seem a bit peculiar. Turn back time, devour the god Kazuma’s soul, whatever it is you have to do…just do it, but don’t think for a moment that in the next life I am going to make the same mistake.”

The necklace he wore around his neck, brushed lightly against her skin. Tationy had given him the ring adorned on it when they were just a teenage couple in love and looking toward the future. The fact that he wore it said plenty about his feelings, but she wanted to kick him for saying something like that. It was as romantic as Abe got. He was not exactly the flowers and dinner type after all. In the end, he stepped away from her which allowed her to open the door, but all she could manage to say as she departed was, “Ahh, I will remember.”

To Be Continued

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