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They spent a good part of the night packing up their stuff and loading up the car. Only for an hour did they try to sleep; it was a futile attempt considering the parties carried on into the wee hours of the morning. By five they were on the road; only stopping once to get something to eat and stretching their legs. By seven, they arrived at their apartment. With the help of the doorman’s trolley they were easily able to get everything to their new home without much fuss.

The furniture they had ordered had yet to arrive which meant they would be sleeping on the floor, but at least they would have peace and quiet. His father’s unexpected arrival at eight caught him by surprise and he welcomed him into their apartment.

Hiko noticed how Tadayoshi regarded the place, his eyes glancing around to every corner. “I have not been here since Sesiago was alive. It is a very strange feeling.” Hiko never met his uncle Sesiago. He had died before he was even born. “I thought the place was still decorated. It seems my father cleaned it out after his death. I might have some extra furniture, if you need it.”

Hiko shook his head, “Thank you, but we are alright. We actually ordered a few things.”

A stern look came from his father, “Hiko, you should be very careful with your money.”

Lecturing him already. It was not really a surprise, “Actually we made a list of the things that we felt we should buy new before ordering anything. Creating a budget from the amount we calculated. We decided that we would spend no more than eight thousand total for bedroom, living room, dining room, office, and house supplies like cleaning products. Anything else, like decorations or accents we will find at antique shops, secondhand stores….”

Tationy interrupted him from where she was putting stuff away, “Flea markets.”

The look of surprise that adorned his fathers face briefly almost felt like a victory, “A wise decision. It is far too easy, when you have money to just buy without thinking about how much you are actually spending. I am glad to hear the two of you have been considering how to manage your fiances.” There was a pause in the conversation, “How has school been?”

“I finished all my assignments and got them turned in on Thursday. So, my work is all caught up. Just need to get a bit more studying in for the finals.”

“More importantly,” Tationy said as she moved toward them, “Some much needed rest.”

Hiko chuckled, “Ahh, especially that.”

“Have the two of you not been sleeping?”

“Hardly at all. The residence we were assigned to was always noisy. By the time I would get to sleep, I would get startled awake by some sound. Tationy does not really sleep a lot to begin with, so it was probably especially frustrating for her because when she would be tired enough to sleep there was just too much racket going on.”

“It is probably why I am so exhausted lately. I feel completely spent,” Tationy responded.

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His father showed concern, “Are you eating properly?”

Tationy chuckled softly, “Not very well, but it will be better now that I can actually cook. Hiko and I tried to eat at the cafeteria as much as we could this week, but there was just so much to do. We both had festival jobs, had to meet with our advisers, there was assignments and studying to finish, and I had to do some decorating for the dance. One thing after another,” She said rather lightly.

“Kyo did mention that the two of you were nominated for king and queen. Did you attend the dance?”

Hiko nodded his head, “We did for a little bit.”

“Your son actually dragged me there.”

“Did he?”

Frowning Hiko spoke, “We went through all of that trouble to find the perfect dress, you were going to wear it.”

She teased him, “You could have got me in and out of the dress in our room, we did not need to go out for that.”

Before Hiko could respond, his father chuckled. There was a moment where Hiko and Tationy simply regarded him before Tadayoshi finally spoke, “My dear, it is a Kari mans prerogative on the perfect moment to see his lovely woman at her finest.”

There was something in his fathers words. When he spoke to Tationy he did it in such a commanding and confident manner. Hiko never realized before or maybe he had forgotten that his father was still a man of the Kari. When he was little, Tadayoshi was just daddy. Larger than life and Hiko’s hero. As he got older that hero fell from him pedestal and they became ‘enemies’. Maybe it was Tationy that made him look at his father differently, but he could kind of understand why it was he idolized his father so much when he was just a boy. That kind of confidence was ingrained in every word, movement, even his father’s posture. Hiko never had that and it was something he always wanted.

“Sometimes, Mr. Kari that perfect moment is not dictated by a Kari man, but the intense passion he feels when he looks upon his woman.”

Hiko choked at the saucy way Tationy spoke. Her voice was so tantalizing to his senses that he could listen to her talk endlessly about anything. He had heard several people describe it as a ‘bedroom voice’. Among the Kari, women did not generally talk in such a brazen and suggestion manner like Tationy. He realized as he looked upon his father that he was not the only man that appreciated this about her. His father asked a rather direct question, “Has my son lost control with you?”

There was little to no opportunity to protest as Tationy smiled almost mischievously, “Apparently, I am not quite that skilled.”

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Hiko stepped to the side of his father. He could not help wondering if Tationy was trying to make him lose control. What would be the point? He braved asking, “Are you trying?”

“You would not have to ask that question if I was. Making you lose control would be so exciting to me, but it is too easy to do with how you are right now. The lack of confidence and restraint hinders you in a lot of ways. If I make myself inviting to you, the compulsion is there to take me, but you can control it. If I try to make you lose control, I decimate a Kari man that is struggling to find his strength. At this point, it is better if I do not test your resolve.”

Was she saying he was weak? He felt his father’s hand upon his shoulder which oddly steadied him, “A good woman understands her man’s weaknesses and does not exploit them. An amazing woman, helps to restore the fragile foundation that those weaknesses are setting upon. Tationy is trying to encourage your confidence and teach you restraint, something I have never been capable of. I look forward to seeing the end result of her hard work.”

Was that it? All of those moments together where he lost control of his body were just moments of instruction? No, he did not want to believe that. His eyes settled upon her and he wondered why it was that she thought it was important for him to know restraint. Dwelling on her words, “Tationy, if I know restraint and lost control would you regret it later?”

She shook her head, “No, I want to experience that beast.”

Hiko felt goosebumps along his arms. He didn’t know if she had any understanding of what words like those did to him. His father speaking distracted his thoughts, “I would appreciate you not ravishing her while I am here.”

Tationy laughed softly, “Come on, you know you want to watch. It would be like porn for the Kari man.”

The lightness of her tone was infectious as his father laughed, “As inviting as that sounds, no. Watching my son have relations with his girlfriend does nothing at all for me.”

She teased his father, “I would have figured you would have been watching me instead of your son.”

Clearing his throat Hiko responded, “Someone is going to die if this conversation continues.”

“Hiko has no sense of humor.”

His father spoke, “I noticed.”

Groaning he sighed as he asked, “Are you two fucking with me?”

She had such a great laugh, “We completely are.” He was slightly annoyed at their teasing of him. Not surprising she changed the topic, “Why don’t you take your dad with you?”

“Take me where?”

“We have a dining room table picked out that we were going to pick up today. That way we at least have somewhere to set and eat. It might be a lot handier having someone that can help lift it and a visit between the two of you might be good.”

Wanting to protest he opened his mouth, but his father responded before he could. “I have no plans.” Would he really want to go?

“It is settled then,” She responded rather lightly.

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They moved a few things before they left and not surprising the ride was excruciatingly quite. Neither father, nor son was apparently capable of starting a conversation. When they reached the furniture store, they stepped inside and Hiko stopped at the counter to check on his order. Turned out, it was out on the truck for delivery and should arrive sometime that day. Thankfully that meant they would have a bed to sleep in. Wandering toward the back of the store, Hiko found the small table they had been eying on the online store. It was not very big, but neither was the apartment.

His father finally broke the silence, “How is Tationy?”

Why was his father asking about her again, “She is fine. Just tired.”

Tadayoshi hmm’d rather thoughtfully, “I am concerned about her health. She still looks rather pale to me.”

“She has not mentioned she was not feeling well, only that she was exhausted. We really have not gotten any sleep this week.”

His words must have reassured his father because he changed the topic, “After your exams, I would like for the two of you to start work as soon as possible. At least for a few hours a day and moving into a full work day a week later. There are many things I need to go over with you in these months before you head off to school and I want to make use of as much time as we have available.”

Inwardly Hiko groaned, “Alright.”

“Have you decided on a school?”

“Not yet. We should have our exam results next week.”

He realized far to late he had failed at hiding his concern, “Did something happen?”

Should he tell him? Hiko took a breath, “My adviser feels that I might hold Tationy back.”

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There was a subtle silence and Hiko half expected his father to agree, “Nonsense. You are Kari, there is nothing you cannot do if you set your mind to it. Every action, simply takes seeing it and learning it. If you do hold her back, it is only because you lack the confidence to understand your full strength as a Kari man.”

“Do you really mean that?”

“I do.”

Hiko considered his fathers words a moment, “Tationy is really intelligent; to a ridiculous level. She tells me that schools will seek her out and that I should use her to get into the best school of Aslann. I don’t feel really good about doing that though, but at the same time I don’t want to be the reason she goes to some no named school.”

“Every man and woman starts somewhere. When they are young, they get to where they are on the backs of their parents. Sometimes, this is a necessary evil. One cannot always make it to where they want to be without a little help and that help may come sometimes in a form that is displeasing. Being prideful has its benefits, but there comes a time when one can have too much. If you love her and want to see her successful, then this should not be a concern for you. Now, what do you intend to study?”

“According to Tationy I am going to double major in business management and international business with a minor in finance.”

His father sagely nodded, “Excellent choices. What will she study?”

“Tationy intends to major in engineering physics with a double minor in nanotechnology and energy technology and management.” There was a rather thoughtful expression upon his fathers face, “What?”

“I think she and Zen will get along quite well. He also went to school for engineering physics and eventually went on to get his Ph.D. If I recall right he did a double minor, but it was in artificial intelligence and aerospace engineering.”

“Was…” He paused as he tried to consider his words, “Do you really think I am incapable of being away from her?”

Tadayoshi paused a moment before he said, “Having her there for you was only part of the reason. It was rather deceptive on my part making it seem that was the only reason, but the truth, is I think she would benefit the company. Even if she cannot see the future the way her father does, Tationy has a sight that goes far beyond ours. Zen manages the company through planning for things that might happen. Crisis management, especially with vultures swarming it becomes very important. It is not just about protecting the legacy of the Kari, but all future Kari. Someday, your son will run the company. If we do not protect and nurture it, there will be nothing to pass on to the next generation. I believe that Tationy will do anything to protect her future with you and more importantly that of any children you might have. We will not be able to protect against the Ishi, without her help.”

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“I don’t want you or any other Kari using her like that. I will deal with the Ishi,” Hiko responded through gritted teeth. He was trying desperately to hide his anger.

Tadayoshi got a rather pensive look as he spoke, “The Ishi are a dangerous foe. Not one you can face alone. They have two among them with the eyes of the goddess. What can a Kari man do versus that?”

Hiko could feel his anger bubbling inside of him, “So, you are going to just lie down like a dog? I will use my own strength, protect what is mine, and will not allow her eyes to be used. She is not a slave to the Kari. Her eyes are not a tool. If I find out that you and Zen are using her, she and I will walk away from the Kari.”

With a rather annoyed sound his father responded, “Such a childish response. One must use every weapon available to him to ensure the outcome he wishes. If you deny us access to her eyes, protecting what is ours becomes far more difficult. It is just like you to be content in your tiny little world and never willing to see the bigger picture. Selfish like your mother.”

“Always throwing that in my face. Maybe I am just like her. I have no tolerance for prideful assholes who think they can use everyone around them, even the people they are suppose to protect and care about.” His words toward his father must have struck a crippling blow because Tadayoshi had turned on his heels and walked away.

More than a little frustrated with himself, Hiko had considered going after his father. In the end, he was simply unwilling to admit he was wrong. That was the biggest hurdle the two of them faced as father and son. They both suffered from the same stubbornness.

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By the time he had made it back to the apartment without the dining room table, he had not calmed a single bit. Hiko was not certain what irritated him more; the fact that his father felt it necessary to use the eyes of his girlfriend or that he was once again compared to his mother. “Is that how he sees me?” It was a question more directed toward himself even though it had been spoken aloud.

“Tadayoshi, sees a lot of himself in you. That frightens him,” The soft purr of her voice distracted his thoughts as he turned to allow his eyes to settle upon her.

He could see the concern so clearly written across her features. There was no need for her to explain, she had pushed this. Perhaps not how she intended for it to go, but her gentle hand played a part in the confrontation. Why? What was it she saw that forced her to take action? Hiko thought for a split second that he was perhaps reading too much into the expression upon her face, but then he realized how the sadness reflected in her eyes seemed to grow. He finally braved asking, “Why did you really want him to go with me?”

“The taint between you and your father will only fester and grow if it is not handled properly now. Father and son will be at odds with each other and this division will hurt the Kari more than any outside force. There will be those that feel you are the cause of this stain upon the Kari and it will force your father’s hand to stand against you. It will be with great heaviness that he pursues such an action, but all he has left by that point is the Kari. Even if it means sacrificing his pride he will do so without hesitation. Even though you do not wish to hear it Hiko, you are the strength of Tadayoshi. Every decision he has made since your mother left was to ensure that he left you a legacy worth cherishing, but that legacy is all he has left. If he feels it has been tarnished he will destroy the cause. You are his son, he loves you, even though he cannot bring himself to say the words. Despite how he feels, he will crush you if he feels you have destroyed the legacy of the Kari and that includes taking everything you cherish.”

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Remaining calm was not something he had ever been very good at, so he took several deep breaths as he placed his back against the wall. Honestly, her explanation made a lot more sense regarding his father’s reaction. He tried to keep as much anger and annoyance out of his voice as he could, “He wants to use your eyes against the Ishi.”

“I know. After we met with him that day at the Kari Foundation, I deduced his reasoning rather quickly. Hearing the news, must have stung.”

“You should have told me. I looked foolish…”

Her words halted him from continuing, “Had I told you, the response you gave your father would not have been genuine. It is just as important for him to see your pain as it is for you to see his. The two of you will never learn to understand each other without such conflict, but it is being able to move past that anger which ultimately decides the fate of your relationship.” There was a pause as she bowed her head. Hiko could tell she did not want to look at him as she asked her next question, “Do you want a relationship with your father?”

He understood quickly why she took such a posture which forced him to look away from her, “The only person I care about is you. End of discussion.”

Twice in one day he got the same response as Tationy turned on her heels and walked away responding with, “As you wish.” Hiko could not help thinking that he might be the defective party in this triangle. Even though he knew he should probably chase after her, he stuck his hands in his pockets and stood stubbornly.

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The first day in their apartment together was spent with barely a spoken word between them. Hiko thought for certain that this trend might continue as he lay in bed staring at the ceiling. Was she mad at him? Was she even going to find her way to their bed? There was a moment for a split second he thought about getting up and finding her, but he did not think he was wrong. Why was it that he had to be the bigger person? Tationy was not a slave to the whims of the Kari. She was not some object they could just use. If they had to rely on the strength of the Tylo, then they did not deserve The Kari Foundation.

Frustrated he closed his eyes as he sighed. It was clear to him that Tationy thought he was making the wrong decision, which just brought him back to what she saw. How badly would this effect their future? He was happy when he felt the bed move. Though did not dare take a breath until he was certain she was going to lie with him. Rather quickly, he realized it was not the bed she intended to be upon as his eyes opened and there she was perched upon his lap. Did this mean he was forgiven? Hiko brought his hand up, lightly running it along her arm. He watched her and waited for some sign that he was not completely in the doghouse.

“I disagree,” She finally spoke.

“I get it Tationy, you think I should use you…”

She cut him off, “I disagree that the only person you care about is me. I do not believe you would fight so hard, butt heads so ferociously with your father if you did not want his respect and love.”

His lips pursed as he snarled, “This is still about the old man? Seriously, what the fuck is with you two? He is always asking about you. Is she alright? She looks pale. Here you are doing the same damn shit.” There was a moment where the expression that graced her features was unreadable. He thought what a frightening woman she might be if she had such an expression adorn her features full-time. Hiko sighed, “There is not a single decision I have ever made that has pleased him. I don’t give a fuck what he thinks. I told you, the only person that matters to me is you. If you want me to play nice with him, fine, but don’t expect miracles.”

She sighed, “If your feelings are not genuine the result is the same.”

Hiko grabbed her arm to stop her from pulling away, “Tell me what fate are you so afraid of that you want me to swallow my pride and bend to my father’s will?” It was not really a surprise that she did not respond to his question. Tationy did not want to sway his decisions because people would be able to see the guiding hand of her actions. He needed to make decisions that affected their future without her help which is why she did not press him to allow her to use her eyes to help the Kari.

Could he explain that to his father and have him understand? It seemed unlikely. Hiko had no doubts that Tationy was right in her assessment of his father. Tadayoshi Kari would do anything in his power to protect their family legacy. It dawned on him far to late as he relinquished his hold upon her, “Are you trying to tell me you saw my death at my father’s hands?” As her head bowed, those eyes darkened again and Hiko did not need her to answer.

To Be Continued

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