All Hiko wanted to do that morning was go to his fathers and get that document. What happened the previous day with Abe and Kuro was still weighing heavily upon him. Even though, Tationy had given him a wonderful gift he spent most of the day restless with her warm body pressed into him. He barely slept. Was a peaceful day with no issues too much to ask for? He hadn’t thought it would be until he moved through his father’s home and the sound of several men talking assaulted his ears. He groaned as he squeezed Tationy’s hand. One Kari was bad enough, but a group of them you might as well just line yourself up in front of a firing squad.
Even with how anxious he was suddenly feeling he still moved down the corridor and into the main room where his father’s office was. Stopping only when he could see each of the individuals standing with his father. It was officially worse than it possibly could be. “I have had dreams like this,” Tationy said which suddenly silenced the room.
Hiko felt slightly annoyed by her statement, “They better have been nightmares.” When she smiled teasingly he sighed, “You and I are going to have a long talk later.”
“I like it when we have those long talks.” The way she stressed the world long made the whole conversation sound dirty.
Definition: Sotuska – Shield of the Kari; His duty is to protect the elder and enforce the will of the God Kazuma.
Definition: Eotuska – Elder of the Kari; He stands as the leader of the Kari and voice of the God Kazuma
Definition: Osoma – Important figure among the Kari who oversees the trials and then adorns potential Kari with the God Kazuma’s Marks of Power. These marks signify that those individuals among all others will have powerful voices within the Kari and are granted the gift of becoming the vessel for Kazuma if he ever again walks the earth.
There was not a set of eyes in the entire house that wasn’t upon them, “Tationy,” He said her name and paused only a moment, “You know my father. Next to him is my grandfather Azu. On the other side of the room is Semei, who you know and his father Kazuki, the Shield and Osoma of the Kari, and lastly the Elder of the Kari, Tatsuya.”
His father seemed annoyed when he responded, “Interrupting as usual.”
“Well I would not even be here if it wasn’t for you taking something that does not even belong to you. Once you give it back to me, we will leave.”
“I won’t do that.”
His grandfather Azu spoke up before Hiko could respond, “Lady Tationy, if you would indulge the request of an old man.”
It was not a question even though Tationy responded with, “Alright.”
“Please allow us men to speak privately. Such conversations can become rather heated. A lovely young woman such as yourself should not be subjected to the harsh words of men.”
Hiko wanted to object, but Tationy gave his hand a squeeze. What would she say in response he wondered, “Mr. Kari I assure you I am not such a delicate flower that I quiver by mere words. However, I will indulge you just this once and only because Hiko needs me to walk away. Gentlemen,” She responded as she turned to look upon Hiko. “Monsters are born in a single moment, don’t rush.”
Oddly her words eased the tension that had begun to build and only when she was out of sight did he finally speak, “Give me the document.”
“I already told you, I won’t do that.”
The Kari men were silent as father and son exchanged words, “Stop treating me like I am a child. I am a man of the Kari, just like you are. You have no right to take something that does not belong to you.”
“Stop acting like a child then.”
Hiko shook his head trying to calm himself, but failed and snapped at his father, “You are only saying that because I am not doing what you want me to.”
“Your behavior and decision making is questionable at best. Recklessly you act not thinking of the consequences. Everything about you is selfish. We are your family and yet to disrespect our ways and go behind our backs to the Yamada begging for money.”
Their voices were getting louder, “For your information that is not at all what happened. Fuck, why am I even explaining myself to you. Nothing I say is going to matter because you won’t ever fucking listen to a thing I have to say.”
“I hear you just fine,” Tadayoshi responded. “What you think is best for you, hurts the Kari…”
“Fuck the Kari.”
Azu, the grandfather of Hiko finally spoke up, “That is enough. Tadayoshi stop trying to smother the boy. The more you try to control the more he rebels and you…” Azu looked upon Hiko, “Respect your father. He is just trying to protect you in his own misguided way.”
Hiko scoffed. Tadayoshi Kari had never tried to protect him a day in his life.
A chortle from the other side of the room drew their attention as all eyes fixed upon the Elder of the Kari, Tatsuya. “This seems oddly reminiscent, wouldn’t you agree Azu?”
Azu sighed, “I don’t think we were as stubborn or troublesome.”
The Elder of the Kari smiled, “Speak for yourself.” There was a noticeable pause, “I am surprised your boy Tadayoshi has not asked why we are all gathered in one place.”
“He doesn’t care,” Tadayoshi responded.
“Don’t speak for me,” Hiko snapped.
For a moment the Elder of the Kari appeared pensive, “Kazuki, you oversaw the trials of Hiko Kari, did you not?”
“I did,” The Osoma and Shield of the Kari spoke.
“What have you observed from your time with him?”
Hiko really did not care what any man in that room thought, “In task that required him to work with other Kari he was often segregated. When I asked him later why he did things without his group he told me simply he did not belong rather than saying they did not want him. He is an outsider even among his kin and yet that has never stopped him from improving himself. In fact, it made him all the more eager to prove that he was on equal footing with those Kari that so adamantly did not wish him around. In trials that required him to cooperate with others he succeeded on his own, yet there were moments when others had fallen and he assisted. He is not incapable of embracing the Kari as a whole, he simply reacts to how he is treated in a positive or negative manner.”
Tatsuya looked toward Semei, “As the Osoma in training you have spent plenty of time with him; attending Sofore and playing basketball together. How would you describe him?”
Semei had given Hiko a hard stare before directing his attention upon the Elder of the Kari, “He is a pit bull. With a very small amount of people he trust he is good-natured and loyal with strength, courage, and tenaciousness. Treat him with disrespect and you get a killing machine capable of tearing you apart. Most of the time he is teetering on that edge. Anything could push him over, but he is fiercely protective of those he cares about. We are all very fortunate we are his kin.”
“Emotionally charged,” Kazuki added, “I would say that Tadayoshi’s fear of the monster this boy could become has ultimately been holding him back. I would not say he is capable of disciplining himself to the point of stealing his emotions. Kari men must learn the skills necessary to bury the beast. His Yamada blood makes that a far more difficult task. I am more concerned about him having a child with that girl. Yamada blood mixed with Yamada blood; a child from that union might be incapable of ever mastering himself. As it stands, Hiko has the abilities to do just that, he simply chooses not to.”
With pursed lips Hiko directed his attention upon the Elder of the Kari, “What exactly is this meeting about?”
“While visiting the Kari Foundation your father became aware of a contract that was delivered. In my day a document like that was what we would call a ‘marriage contract’. When two families of fairly substantial means wanted to form a union, the father of the woman involved would write up a contract and deliver it to the father of the man. This back and forth could go on for months and years as the two parties decided the things that would benefit not only their families, but the union itself; including things like sexual congress, mutual society, rearing of children, support, morals and religion, adultery, abandonment, anything and everything they could think of.” He lifted the document, “This document though, is far more dangerous because it is one-sided. The Yamada woman gets all of the benefits and loses only a meager amount of money. You could in the end, not have a wife or a child and could lose not only your money, but that of the entire Kari fortune. As the future leader of the Kari Foundation, such a contract is not in your best interest and we your kin cannot allow you to sign it.”
Hiko gave his elder a cold stare, “I will do as I wish.”
“Not in this you won’t.”
“Do you really think I care if you are my elder or not? None of you are going to keep us apart. Try it and see what happens.”
Semei spoke, “Hiko calm down. We are not against you in this.”
“Really? Doesn’t seem that way from where I am standing. I am used to you disciplined and polished Kari looking at me like I am worthless. Telling me I am a disappointment. Insisting I am not capable of mastering myself. Then, in my best interest you make decisions for me. That is not happening this time or ever again. I am marrying her and we are going to have a future together and fuck all of you if you get in the way,” He responded sharply as he turned and walked away.
Hiko was not surprised that none of them tried to stop him, so he wandered around the house looking for Tationy. When he stepped out on the back balcony his grandfather’s voice stilled his body, “What your woman said to you about monsters, what was that again? Ahh yes, monsters are born in a single moment, don’t rush. Do you know what that means?” Not surprising, Azu had not waited for a response, “It means have patience. In roughly seconds you can go from thinking it is a beautiful day to the worst day of your life. You are short-tempered. That cannot entirely be blamed on your Yamada blood. Kari men are just as untamed as the Yamada. The difference is we master ourselves to lock that beast away. I don’t think even you know what might trigger you. Your father is worried, less about you and more about your woman.”
Shoving his hands in his pockets he could feel the emotion bubbling over as his grandfather continued talking, “I don’t think you would intentionally hurt her, but in a fit of anger and hurt what a man can do sometimes goes far beyond the worst that even he could imagine.”
“What is the point of this lecture?”
“If you look forward you see your future. The Kari Foundation rising high above all other buildings in Aslann. It is symbolic in a way of the journey before you. As the future CEO, you will either rise or fall; and the fate of the Kari Foundation is only decided when your journey ends. A heavy burden, but as the only son of Tadayoshi Kari that position belongs to you. Whether or not you are deserving or capable is mote.”
“I won’t ever be what all of you want and there are plenty of people better suited to run the business.”
“Perhaps that is true. Tadayoshi could have insisted that another take over the position if he truly thought you unfit, but he has never brought that concern before the Elder or the Shield and even if he had, I would have disagreed.” Quickly Hiko turned his attention upon his grandfather, “I was not quite as rebellious or vocal, but my father often thought me a disappointment. It would probably surprise you to learn that the same words spoken to me by him, where spoken by me to your father, and by your father to you. We Kari men never quite learn from the mistakes of our betters.”
Hiko spoke, “My father thinks me incapable of handling her.”
Azu turned as he spoke, “He is probably right, but at the same time he is assuming the relationship is one-sided. A union is cooperative. What she said to you before she left noticeably calmed you. This is not something that can be accomplished by someone that you do not trust. On the flip side of that, she could have easily have spoken a different set of words, for example, telling you to become a monster and it would have put you further on edge. This thinking by your father is not incorrect. She has a lot of control over your emotional responses, but this is important for a Kari man. We need to be able to give ourselves over to the woman in our life. Have her accept us, both the good and the bad. Many think of the Kari as misogynistic, but the women we choose to be a part of our lives are given all of the control. While we lead, they appear to follow. The truth of the matter is, they allow us to lead. Tadayoshi’s concern is brought about primarily by his past.”
“What do you mean?”
“I told your father to tell you this story many times, but he always refused.” He paused a moment before continuing, “I was in negotiations with Miso Yamada for a marriage contract between her daughter Chilè and Tadayoshi.” Hiko could not hide the surprise that adorned his face, “Your father was quite interested in her and for the most part the talks were going well. That girl though was unbridled. She toyed with your father. Enticed him with her sex and promises; then just before the signing of the contract she announced that she was sleeping with Tadayoshi’s brother, Sesiago. The announcement came at a large joint function between the Yamada and the Kari and Miso did what she could to diminish the damage, but Tadayoshi refused to marry her. It drove a rift between brothers, especially after Sesiago signed the contract. Your father never really recovered. I arranged a union with a lesser Yamada, your mother, but Tadayoshi was changed. When he looks at your woman he sees the future he wanted and to a lesser extent the woman he loved.”
His fathers protest when Hiko asked if he was sleeping with Chilè Yamda made sense now. His grandfather spoke once more, “I would like to ask you to get Tationy and come and speak with us.”
“You are not the only one thinking about your future. Please, give us the benefit of the doubt. If you do not like what we have to say, then we will not stop you from leaving,” His grandfather responded as he wandered back into the house.
Hiko had debated as he looked for Tationy whether or not participating in the conversation was even worth it. The look she gave him when he said he was ready to leave told him that it would be a mistake if he did so he sighed, took her hand, and walked toward the living room.
He could hear the Kari men already discussing various things. They became quiet when the two of them entered the room and he noticed that his father was not even willing to look at him. When he took a seat upon the sofa and Tationy sat next to him she swatted him which forced his attention to her. The way she tilted her head caused him to groan because he knew what she expected, “I apologize for my behavior earlier.”
The look upon the faces of the Kari men was not lost on Hiko. “A Kari man should only apologize if he believes he was wrong,” His grandfather stated, “Were you wrong?”
“I do not believe I was wrong for wanting to be treated as the man I am, but I should have listened instead of jumping to conclusions.”
“Then are you prepared to listen?”
His grandfather collected himself a moment before continuing, “After your father became aware of this contract, he called upon the men in this room to decide what would be the best way to handle it. There are many rumors about the death of Miso Yamada and even more about how Chilè Yamada managed to acquire her mothers fortune even after being disowned. The Kari Foundation has been struggling for the past few years and Tadayoshi has been trying to keep his word to you, but as time passes it becomes harder and harder to do that. We have been speculating how certain families might try to acquire control of our business; the Ishi and the Waichia we thought were our biggest threats, but now we are concerned that the Shima might also be an issue. Chilè‘s father is a man called Osa Shima. He and Miso had what is known as a Child Arrangement Contract; a union only for the benefit of a child without marriage. Chilè has no interest in a company, but yet this contract is designed to take everything if you fail. While having a child and getting married in a couple of years seems reasonable to do she is acutely aware that within the Kari such a union does not work that way. She is ultimately setting you up to fail.”
He felt the pit of his stomach knot. Hiko had suspected there was an ulterior motive, “I have already been lectured by Tationy for agreeing to this contract. I believe her exact words were, you don’t make deals with Yamada women because it is like asking a snake to bite you.”
Tationy nodded sagely, “Pretty close.”
“Yet you did,” Tadayoshi finally spoke.
Hiko growled under his breath and only settled when Tationy’s fingers touched his face, “Hiko, we can fulfill that contract right here and now if you want. If I recall right from all of my readings, the Elder of the Kari is capable of marrying two people and I am more than ready for us to commit to each other sexually. I told you, we are in this together and I have no intention on letting you fail at anything.”
She was always the most direct person especially when it came to sex. Even so, a worried expression adorned his features, “I know and I definitely want that. You said you are alright with following?”
“Yes, wherever you lead.”
He leaned in and laid a tentative kiss upon her lips. Hiko told himself he just needed a moment to collect himself and oddly the other Kari men in the room were being far more silent than he expected they would. When he pulled himself away from her and directed his attention toward them he took a breath, “Tationy and I are trying not to rush things. She would like to have a child by twenty-five and I am okay with that. I tried to talk with my father about this the last time I was here, but he and I never seem to be able to communicate without it turning into an argument. The contract came about because I informed Miss Yamada of our intentions to get married and have children someday and how that would only happen if we both had the opportunity to attend a university together. I have been considering our options a lot lately and as much as I would like to wait and see what happens with Sofore, our future is more important. She and I are going to take the entrance exam at Aslann University. However, Kuro recently informed me that the Ishi do intend to go after the Kari Foundation….but I am less concerned about that, then I am something else.”
The Elder of the Kari asked, “Less concerned about your legacy, why?”
“I know that the Kari would not lie down and allow someone to take what is theirs. Even though we do not see eye to eye, I believe that my father is more than capable of keeping the Ishi in check. He most likely has already taken precautionary measures to handle them. I understand it is what is expected of me, but I have other things that are more important and I think there are people that are better suited for running the company then I am.”
“You said that you are less concerned about the Kari Foundation and more about something else. This other thing, what is it?”
“Kuro told me that his brother Mikio intends to take Tationy from me and that if he decides for any reason not to that Kuro will do it.” The silence that followed his words was not unexpected. “I know that my father disapproves, but I feel whole when I am with her. Above anything else, I will protect her even if that means giving up the Kari Foundation. Perhaps the men in this room cannot understand the depths of my feelings, but I have no future if she is not in it and I know she feels the same.”
Hiko noticed how his father stood and moved across the room to get himself another cigarette. He was smoking a lot more than usual as he took several long drags before turning and allowing his eyes to settle upon Hiko and Tationy. All he wanted was for his father to just one time say he approved or that he was proud, but words like those never left his mouth. He simply stared at the two of them. The Osoma of the Kari spoke, “The Ishi have always sought out available and unavailable Tylo women throughout time, so it is not unexpected that the Ishi would desire to obtain Miss Tationy.”
Definition: Meratoia – City within Aslann known as the “modern day” Kari Village. The city is predominately Kari and many describe it as ‘stepping back in time’ due to its historical features in the modern world.
“That is true,” The Elder of the Kari said, “The Ishi bloodline is filled with many instances of Tylo and Ishi unions. Truthfully the best way to protect her is for the two of you go to Meratoia. She would be safe there and the Ishi would not be able to move about so casually without Kari eyes upon them. Unfortunately, that would mean giving up many freedoms that young people today desire.”
“It is not an option,” Tadayoshi finally spoke. “This is one trial among many he has to weather. If he is incapable of keeping a hold upon what is his, then he was never meant to have it.” He wanted to say something, but Hiko bit his tongue as his father added, “I will deal with this contract and Chilè.”
“Isn’t there something else you need to say to your son, Tadayoshi?”
Tadayoshi lips pursed. It was clear to Hiko that whatever it was made his father particularly unhappy, “As a man of the Kari you should have gained access to your trust fund when you finished your trials and was granted your Heroska. I have made adjustments to it which allow for you to have a full range of control over your own assets.”
He almost could not believe his fathers worlds. Had he really given him access? For years he had kept Hiko on a short leash, divvying out a bit of money here and there, but never allowing him full control over his own money and assets. Now here he was sitting amongst his kin and his father was finally, all-be-it begrudgingly acknowledging him as a man of the Kari. He barely managed to get the words out, “Thank you, sir.”
The Osoma spoke up, “I am concerned about this situation with the Ishi and Miss Tationy. While I feel that Tadayoshi is perhaps correct that this is a trial you need to weather, I do not believe it is one you need to do alone. Semei has expressed his desire to attend a university and even though I would prefer for him to continue his training as our families future Osoma, perhaps under the circumstances it would be in his best interest to understand the importance of protecting ones kin. You have chosen Miss Tationy as your woman and she has accepted you as her man. That makes her a woman of the Kari and she is afforded the same rights and protections as any of our blood.”
Hiko could not help thinking back on Kuro’s words about Semei saying he was going to ask Tationy out. He was not certain if having him around was a good idea, “Semei do you object?” The Elder of the Kari questioned.
It was almost a dizzy feeling as he sat quietly and listened to the Kari making plans and decisions. Tationy was pressed into him and he was overwhelmed with happiness. These past couple of days had been some of the worst of his life. When the conversation switched gears and had gotten heavier, Tationy disappeared from the room without being asked. A fact that had not gone unnoticed by each of the Kari men.
Several hours later they were breaking up to tend to various things they each needed to handle. Hiko stood at the side of his grandfather as the other Kari men disappeared one by one. Finally, when they were the only two left his grandfather spoke, “If you at any point become concerned for her safety ask your father for his Heroska and give it to her. Tadayoshi is an important and revered man among the Kari. The Ishi are bold, but foolish they are not. If she is wearing his bracelet and they try to take her, it will bring down the wrath of the entire Kari upon them. When you have solidified your place and have earned the respect of the nation, there will be none that will stand against you. For now though, you are still young and those that think less of you will not concern themselves will trampling upon what is yours.”
“What if he refuses?”
“As difficult as he is, I do not see him allowing someone to take her away from you. However, if that stubborn son of mine does refuse, then bring her to Meratoia and I shall protect her myself.”
“You have given thanks and apologized today. I can tell that she has had a profound effect on you. When she is around your emotions are tempered. She handles you delicately and yet not in a way to damage your pride. Allowing you to lead without directing your hand. Trusting your ability to make the right decisions for both of you. Hold on to her Hiko, she is a good woman for a Kari man.”
A good woman, those words made Hiko so happy as he found his way to his bedroom. With the door closed he glanced around and spotted her laying upon the sofa. It took him only moments to join her. He smiled as he looked down upon her, “Mrs. Hiko Kari has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?”
Her hand came to her lips, “Hmm, let me see, Mrs. Hiko Kari. I do rather like the sound of it.” Her eyes washed over his face as she asked, “Is my Hiko happy?”
“Ahh.” He noticed something in her eyes which forced concern to knit across his features as he asked, “Are you not happy, Tationy?”
“Actually, I am a little…”
He stared as she paused trying to decipher her body language and the hesitation. He was slow to realize that her breast were heaving and her body strained from anticipation, “Tationy, did being around all of those Kari men turn you on?”
Hiko had only been teasing and honestly had not expected her to practically moan, “Yes.”
His body tensed, “Are you interested…”
She interrupted him rather quickly, “Don’t get the wrong idea, Hiko. Seeing those Kari men, with such confidence and power makes me giddy with anticipation. What will you look like when you are older? How would your hair look if it were longer? Could you wear something traditional and command power like they do? Imaging it is almost too much.” Her finger reached out and trailed teasingly along his lower lip, “I might be Tylo, but I am still Yamada. The thought of having a powerful man between my legs excites me.”
There was no way to describe how he felt just hearing those words and he showed her by kissing her deeply. Hiko wanted to have her, explore every part of her, but he knew this day was not over and indulging in her was not an option even though he wanted to do nothing else, “Seeing you like this,” He buried his face to the side of her neck, “I want you so much.”
“Are you going to tell me no?”
“Just for a little bit,” He responded as he laid upon her, “My grandfather and father still want to discuss things with me. I promise I will make it up to you.”
“Alright,” She responded while playing with his hair. Hiko could tell she was disappointed, but they were at his father’s house and even though most of the Kari had departed his grandfather and father were still around. If it was just his father it would not be such a big deal, but his grandfather would never approve of the two of them having what he would call sexual congress before they were married.
Even though he had forced them to stop he still held on to her tightly. This was a time of growth and change for them both and even though he was worried about where their path would lead he was more concerned about her. Sure she had told him she was alright with him leading, but saying it and meaning it were two different things. Kari men could be difficult to be with and she would have to sacrifice, probably more than he ever would. He sighed as he forced himself to pull away and offered his hand to her, “We should join my father and grandfather, I believe they are in the kitchen preparing dinner.”
She hadn’t taken his offered hand, “Go on ahead. I will be there in a moment after I collect myself.”
He felt guilty for leaving her in that state, “I am sorry. I promise I will make it up to you.”
As he stepped from the room he sighed as he made his way downstairs and only stopped when he reached the kitchen. His eyes focused on his father and the moment seemed familiar and flashed his mind back to when he was younger, “Hiko are you paying attention? It is important for young men of the Kari to learn to cook. It is a skill that allows you to care for your family. Kari men in the days of ancient Aslann did the hunting, fishing, gathering, and cooking while women of the Kari tended to the needs of the children and took care of the home. This brings balance to a household with man and woman working jointly to care for what is theirs.”
Hiko recalled he was listening, but his thoughts were rather preoccupied. “I understand, but can I ask a question?”
“That girl at the Yamada estate….”
His father interrupted him, “What about her?”
“Do you think someone like her would like someone like me?” There had been tension as his father halted what he was doing and Hiko remembered thinking that the atmosphere seemed different, but he didn’t really understand why. When his father did not respond he added, “When she looked at me, I felt a bit afraid. I don’t really understand why though, but I have not been able to stop thinking about her. Even though you told me they call her cursed, I kind of like that. If I ask Kazuma to let me have her, do you think he would grant my request?”
“Our Lord Kazuma hears all request, but whether or not he deems you worthy enough to grant it is another matter entirely. Why would you want someone that is cursed?”
“I think we are the same. I can’t explain it.”
“It is better if you forget her Hiko. Idle curiosity only hinders your future. There are plenty of remarkable young women in the world and as you age you may find one that captures your attention so violently that no one else will even be a consideration. Your mind is focused on this girl simply because she is unnatural. Now, enough talk about the cursed child.”
“Hiko, don’t mention her again.” Those words stung. Hiko never felt like he could really talk to his father. They had not connected, but it had nothing at all to do with them being different. He hadn’t understood why his father tossed aside his feelings so callously. Now that he knew the history between Tationy’s mother and his father, his reactions made far more sense to him. He probably would feel the same way if Tationy did that to him. No, as he thought about it, he realized he would be far worse. If she ever slept with another man he would not be able to exhibit the calm his father wore.
His thoughts quickly pushed aside when his father asked, “Are you going to just stand there and watch?” Hesitantly he moved to the other side of the counter, stopping at the refrigerator to get himself a beer. He was certain he was going to need a little alcohol in him. Taking a quick drink he set the bottle down as he lifted an apple. “Your grandfather apologizes for taking off without saying anything. He wanted to beat the traffic and did not wish to intrude upon you and Tationy. You should show more restraint.”
Hiko felt as though his body was frozen as he stood next to his father, apple in hand, and knife ready to peel it. He was acutely aware that nothing transpired in his father’s house without his knowledge that was just how it was, “How much more restraint do you really expect me to have? It took every ounce in me just to pull away.”
“It will get harder.” With pursed lips he considered his fathers words. He did not understand how exactly it would get harder, but if there was a level beyond what he saw in Tationy’s eyes he would need a lot more than restraint. There was a lot of silence between father and son. Hiko hoped that when he had children with Tationy that he was at least capable of talking to them. He did not want there to be any lingering resentment or uncomfortableness. “Will she be joining us?”
“She needed a moment to collect herself.”
Inwardly he sighed when the silence returned. They were only capable of small talk it seemed. He worked on the apple disappointed that his grandfather had not remained after all at least someone would be talking. “Do you and Tationy intend to finish out the term at Sofore?”
Was his father trying to talk with him? He thought for certain that this was probably the longest they had spoken to each other without fighting in as far back as he could remember, “Ahh, we intend to. They should have the structural evaluations concluded soon. Not certain for how long though, whether or not they will close is still uncertain. I intend to make arrangements for us to take the entrance exam and if all goes well we should be able to start in the fall or spring, but we still have obligations to the school….” He paused a moment as he considered something, “That reminds me, I need to have Tationy contact Kyo about whether or not she will need to check in on Friday at the cafe.”
“That punishment should have been yours. When the Dean informed me that you and that Sosa boy would not be kicked out I was surprised, but more so by the reason why. It is a Kari man’s duty to protect the woman in his life, not the other way around.” Not surprising a lecture had started. There were a half-dozen things he wanted to say in that moment, but he simply bit is tongue.
Thankfully a whimsical sigh drew his attention toward Tationy who had finally made her way to the kitchen. She took a seat across from him and his father only stopped what he was doing long enough to get her a soda. She was quiet, just watching. “I am a little disappointed,” She finally spoke and Hiko honestly expected it to be because he had left her wanting. “How is a woman suppose to take care of her guy if he can cook?”
Hiko chuckled, “Kari children are required to learn. Do you enjoy cooking?”
“I love it.”
“Did your mother teach you?”
She laughed, “The only thing that woman knows how to cook is layers of deceit.” Tationy paused for a moment as her head tilted and Hiko realized her eyes were washing over him, “Now I just need you barefoot and pregnant.”
The short snicker from his father was not lost on Hiko. “Teasing me, I see. I will have you know the only person that is going to be barefoot and pregnant around here is you.”
She smiled, “Is that so? Have to catch me first.”
Tationy was the only person that could make him comfortable enough to drop his guard and within moments he would smile and laugh. As he cut up the apples he would glance at her now and again and realized she appeared rather pensive. He hated asking in front of his father, “Did you see something?”
“You have a look upon your face….”
Interrupting as she smiled, “I was just thinking I like seeing the two of you like this.” Hiko was certain she wanted to ask how long it had been. The last time father and son worked so cooperatively together was when he was thirteen. Between the smoking and telling his father that he did not want to work at the Kari Foundation things fell apart rather quickly. It was not as though their relationship had been perfect to begin with, but those things were just enough reason to divide them.
To Be Continued