Hiko was not certain how he felt about everything he just heard from Sadamitsu. He was frustrated enough as it was without adding the problems of someone else on top of the heaping pile he already had. Shutting the laptop down, he looked toward the kitchen. Tationy was shuffling things about again.
He had noticed recently that this was something she did a lot. Compulsive habit to keep busy perhaps, but somehow it seemed different with Tationy. If he put it in some sort of reference he could easily understand it was as though she was the point guard on a basketball team; controlling the ball and deciding what plays to make. “Stop moving things,” He finally said as he stepped into the kitchen. Hiko sighed as he leaned against the counter, “Every night before bed, you do this. I don’t get it Tationy, how exactly does where a plastic container sit matter?”
“Then why do you go through this routine every single night?”
Her eyes were not even on him, “I have control over the container that is why. This is my fault. Had I not had that stupid idea to help him, he would not be miserable right now.”
After unsuccessfully trying to rub the frustration from his face he shoved his hands in his pockets quickly, “Tationy, you said it yourself that your eyes are still developing. There is no way you can see everything. This is not something you can blame yourself for.”
With more emotion than he had ever heard from her she responded, “Please just let me put my world in order.”
Staring at her face he relented, “Alright, but if this is going to become a nightly routine, then we should at least do it together.”
There was no way he was going to allow her to protest as he turned rather suddenly and pulled her close to him. He was still angry. This entire week had been a nightmare and he felt so far away from her even though they were standing close, “Among the Kari, we share the burden. Understand?” She had not spoken, but she did agree with a single nod of her head. This was probably the best opportunity to talk about all of those things weighing him down, but he choked on the words.
Not surprising she anticipated one of many things running around in his head, “We will not see your mother again. She will not be there for the birth of our child, our marriage, or any other moment of importance in our lives. We will not even be informed when she passes away. If this is not the path you want to take with her, you are the one that has to change it.”
The prideful part of Hiko practically spit out the words, “I don’t give a fuck about her. She was never there my whole life, why should it be different now?” He paused a moment before adding, “Seeing we are on the topic of mothers. Abe hinted something happened with yours today at the funeral. Are you going to talk to me about it?”
Tationy made a soft little sound before saying, “Truthfully, it was not entirely unexpected. I always knew the day would come when she would wash her hands of me. It was not like I did not know she hated me. Sometimes, there were moments when she would look at me and I thought I saw something. Just as quickly it was gone though. Perhaps in that fleeting moment she was reminded of what she could have had and lost. I could live hundreds of years and never know her heart, but she and Emitoya, Abe’s dad have always been selfish.”
“What did she say to you?” It was clear by the expression upon her face she did not wish to tell him, “Say it.”
“Well, Abe and I are both disowned. Silly because they never really claimed us unless they had to, so this was just their way of making it official. They are having a baby, which is wrong on so many levels, but that is not my business.” What was it? There was so much pain in her eyes, “Apparently she had intended to ‘take’ care of me at the same time as my grandmother.”
His features snarled, “That bitch was going to hurt you?”
“According to her, she should have smothered me in my sleep and that I would have been handled with my grandmother, had the matriarch of the Yamada not put in a plan to protect me.” He could feel his body shaking as she whispered, “It is alright Hiko. Like I said, not entirely unexpected.”
“It is not alright,” He snapped and she stilled him by reaching out for his hand. Turning his body away from hers, he was not hiding he was unhappy. Tationy was his woman. It was his duty as a Kari man to protect her and no one was allowed to speak to her like that. As he stood there, he thought about his anger and everything he wanted to say to that woman. If he had the power he would definitely deal with her.
So focused on those thoughts he had not noticed she had stepped in closer until her body brushed against him and he felt her hot breath on his cheek, “It is not time for you to protect me, Hiko Kari. Don’t rush forward too quickly.”
“I can’t just swallow my pride. I am Kari.”
“Never, would I ask you to do that. Someday, you will command this nation and there is not a single person that will be able to stand against you. Just, be patient for now.” Tationy kissed him lightly on the cheek as she added, “Anyway, my mother left Aslann with Emitoya, there is no knowing when they will return. So, even if you want to rush forward like a bull she is currently out of your reach.”
Chilè Yamada’s departure from Aslann was not really a loss as far as Hiko was concerned, but it brought up plenty of other questions, “How does this affect the arrangement with my father?”
Tationy pulled away and made a thoughtful sound, “At this point, I cannot say. It seems unlikely she would leave without taking care of any outstanding business she has. It appeared to me that they have been planning this trip for quite some time. If you are concerned, we can speak with your father tomorrow.”
Hiko groaned, “I have had to see him this whole week enough already. Unless you are telling me I should talk to him immediately, then it can probably wait until Monday.”
When she turned away from him, he felt worried that perhaps he needed to go and see his father. Hiko refused to allow the distance to linger between then as he moved forward and placed his hand upon her shoulder, “Do I need to talk to him tonight?”
“No, it can wait.”
“Then, is something wrong?”
With crossed arms she stood quietly before eventually saying, “I just need a moment to put the week in perspective.”
He glanced away from her long enough to look at the clock before he reached down and took her hand, “Come on, let’s go to bed we can fuss with the house tomorrow.”
Hiko had expected her to resist, but she allowed him to lead her toward the bedroom. Kissing her hand, he relinquished his hold only long enough to pull back bedding and move extra pillows out of the way. Over the week, there had been a distance that had built between them. At least that was how Hiko saw it.
Maybe it felt that way to him because this was the first time that they had not been together practically every moment. He knew it was unrealistic to want her always at his side, but at night when they were back home together it felt as though there was still something dividing them. Possessively he held her grateful the week was behind them.
That morning, things felt slightly back to normal as they woke up early and under protest Tationy dragged Hiko out of the apartment for some ‘much needed’ shopping. Her soft voice drew his attention, “Are you not enjoy yourself.”
“Tationy, I am Kari standing in the middle of the farmer’s market in Meritoia, wearing modern clothing, with a woman of the Kari on my arm exposing far too much skin. I might as well have a t-shirt on that says fuck tradition.”
Pointing she quickly responded, “I think I saw that shirt by one of the vendors.”
Trying hard not to find her amusing he glanced toward her, “Smart ass.” She had laughed, it was the first time in what seemed like an eternity since he heard it.
He watched her looking over the produce, shadows dancing across her face, and she was wearing those glasses. For some reason that more than anything else about her appearance made him happy. They had an agreement with each other that he would grow his hair out and in exchange she would allow him to see the girl from Abe’s picture, but the more that girl showed herself the more he longed for the frumpy girl with the big black glasses.
Tationy had called that beautiful girl an illusion. At the time he did not really understand, but as he watched her face light up he realized that the awkward girl with the glasses was the real her and that polished Yamada image she occasionally adorned was her mask. He realized far to late that he had been caught staring at her, “Is that a smile, Hiko Kari?”
“It might be.”
She teased him, “Are you picturing me naked?”
He snorted as he looked away quickly, “Fuck, I am now.”
That infectious laugh of hers carried throughout the market which drew attention toward them. He did not know why it was bothering him so much having the eyes of other Kari upon them. It was a heavy feeling and Hiko suspected that part of it was because of what was transpiring with Kyo. He had gotten himself into a mess that was not easily cleaned up, “Tationy, about this Kyo and Eri situation.”
“Are you going to ask me what the agreement was reached between Azu and Erobus?”
Was he? Better yet, should he? Hiko was not certain he really wanted to know the answer. “I guess, I am just curious if he will overcome this.”
It was clear she was considering how to answer, “Kyo is simple. Certainly, like any Kari he will do everything within his power to fix the issue, but unlike the rest of you he accepts the defeat and moves on. This pain will linger within him for a while, but eventually he will wake up and say no more; he is Kari and some things just are and there is no changing them.” While Hiko wanted to take the quiet moment that followed to consider why it was she had echoed his own words to her he did not get the opportunity as she added, “He understands this, but at the moment he is struggling to accept it. Being Kari is difficult in this modern world because of what people presume. It makes every battle an uphill one and sometimes a Kari man feels broken. He thinks if he changes his life will improve, but at the same time he understands that to do so he is giving up his pride. There is no easy path for a Kari man, it is difficult, and has many struggles. Once he finds that balance that eases his soul and strengthens his pride, there is no stopping what he can accomplish. Kyo is at a crossroad, but either path is not one that will keep him down for long.”
She turned rather abruptly from the food stand changing the topic, “We should get plenty of fruits and vegetables. I want to make up some snack packs when we get home so you have them for work. I hate the thought of you eating that crap that is in the cafe especially with you not being able to workout as much due to your busy schedule. I also want to get some hanging plants to spruce up the apartment a bit. Oh, we should stop to that flea market as well on the way home and see what we can find. Do you think we should get some of that wine?”
“The wine and cider are great for cooking.”
“Definitely then, let’s get some.”
Hiko reached down and took her hand which elicited a smile from her. He did not really understand why, but she seemed different; energetic and motivated. As the two walked around gathering everything they needed he thought about the week. Plenty of things to discuss, but it was clear in her own little way that she just wanted to have a day where they did not dwell on the negative. Even though he felt they should talk, he was grateful that she wanted to push it aside even if just for a few hours.
With clouds in the sky over Thacian City, Hiko was glad to be home. With the assistance of the doorman’s trolley they managed to get everything to their apartment, but Hiko had been ill-prepared for an unexpected visitor. There was clear tension in his body as he stared at the man and kept Tationy positioned behind him, “Who the fuck are you and how did you get in here?”
“Anjou,” Tationy spoke the man’s name which only slightly relieved the tension in Hiko’s body. At least he was not a complete stranger, but that still did not explain how he got in their apartment. Worse yet, why Tationy was speaking the name of another man so familiarly.
Silence was all they received as the young man, who was clearly Yamada, stared. Hiko realized rather quickly he was not looking at Tationy. He was losing his cool as he snapped, “What the fuck is your problem?”
“The stories just do not do it justice,” He finally responded and then quickly introduced himself, “Anjou, all the charm, charisma, and money of the Yamada and the good looks and amazing skills of the Anami. I’m the total package. To answer your question I simply told your doorman that I liked his suit and he allowed me in. Men, women, are simple creatures when it comes to compliments. I did not even have to strain myself to make him laugh at my lame jokes.” Hiko noticed the Yamada man had a slow tempo in how he spoke; without raising pitch or increasing speed. It was almost mellow. Those eyes of his, stayed focused on Hiko, “Remarkable; you have to be the ugliest Yamada I have ever seen.” The knot that formed in Hiko’s stomach at those words twisted and gnarled as Anjou added, “I am envious.”
“Don’t you dare fucking mock me,” Hiko snapped.
“He is not insulting you Hiko,” Tationy tried to calm him.
“Well he has a funny way of paying a compliment.”
Anjou shook his head as he stepped into the kitchen, “Tationy am I correct in assuming he has no idea?”
“His exposure to the Yamada has been rather limited,” She quietly responded.
“That is a shame then; he is unaware of what he has and how to use it. Well, it is something you really have to master on your own.”
Hiko did not feel like his agitation was going to lessen for a single moment as he asked, “What the fuck are you two talking about?”
Anjou tilted his head, but had not hesitated a second to respond, “Have you ever danced with Tationy?”
Hiko did not know why he was suspicious of the question, but he hesitantly responded, “Why is that any of your business?”
It was clear he had decided the answer was yes as he continued talking, “At the time you probably passed it off as nervousness. That uneasy feeling as you looked into her eyes. It most likely felt like she knew everything there was to know about you. Every dirty little thing your heart desires. Overwhelming presence; the Yamada by societal standards are not beautiful, but everything from the way we walk, talk, to even how we look at someone takes a hold of that person so violently sometimes that they are unable to think or process anything except us. Maybe it is our power, maybe not, but we have learned to use it to get what we want, distract people, and overwhelm them. We insight carnal desires.”
What he was saying did not come as any surprise to Hiko, there were plenty of stories about the Yamada. His attention drew toward Tationy as she said, “Let this be, Anjou.”
“Is this how it is Tationy? Allowing him to run around blind with no idea what he is doing; what purpose does that serve? No, he needs to know the power he has.”
“What are the two of you talking about?”
“There is a rare breed among the Yamada. Tationy and I have to work so hard, do things that make our skin crawl, just to get the desired outcome we want. You, have something we do not and that is you’re ugly. We at least pass as decent looking enough, but you there is no one that is going to look at you and be moved by what they see. Now I am not saying that to be a dick because there are benefits to what you have. It works the same way, but you do not have to sink to the level we do. Just look at them; intimidation and fear is a powerful motivator for what we want. This is something you should have been taught growing up. At the age you are now, you should have already mastered it.” He sighed, “Don’t look at me like that Tationy, you should have told him.”
“With the lack of control he has, knowing it only hinders him. Why do you always insist on complicating things? Why are you here anyway?”
While the two of them argued back and forth, Hiko was still trying to process what was said. Anjou finally responded as he gestured with his finger toward a box on the counter, “Delivering the matriarchs will. Your mother searched all over the estate for it. To bad for her your grandmother gave it to me a year ago.”
Thankfully the conversation distracted Hiko’s thoughts as he leaned against the fridge and asked, “What is it?”
“Dirty little secrets for every clan of power in Aslann. A lot of people seem to think that Aslann is run on money, but the truth is, she who controls the secrets, has all the power. The matriarch could not keep your mother from taking everything; the money, houses, assets, all gone. This little box might not seem like much, but it is far more valuable than all of the money in the world and Chilè was deliciously pissed when she could not find it.”
He expected Tationy to say something in response, but instead she turned and walked out of the room. For a moment it seemed as though Anjou intended to follow her, but instead he leaned against the refrigerator invading Hiko’s space. Almost immediately he thought about snapping though hardly got the opportunity as Anjou spoke, “Her and the matriarch are literally cut from the same cloth. There was a small part of me that was happy the matriarch had passed because I would not have to deal with such an intolerable personality again, but she left me in charge of managing her granddaughter.”
“I think you like saying things that piss me off.”
Anjou seemed surprised as he asked, “Which part upset you?”
“Do you really not have a clue?”
“I see, you took what I said as an insult. Apparently you do not mind the fact that she avoids things that are unpleasant. I personally cannot stand that trait in her or her predecessor. I serve as the voice of the Yamada though and this was the will of Miso.”
Hiko turned and stared at Anjou, “What do you mean predecessor?”
“I thought I mentioned.” He quickly added, “No matter. Miso was in no state to save everything from her daughter. That was just outside her control. All she managed to do was protect the Yamada from Chilè and bequeathed the title of matriarch to Tationy. I am sure she is already aware, but part of my duties is to pass on this information to her and make sure she understands her role. Of course, she is being difficult as usual.” The look upon Hiko’s face must have confused Anjou because he added, “Are you troubled by this?”
Why did days always end up like this? His voice didn’t sound like his own as he asked, “Could you leave now?”
It was clear that Anjou had things he wanted to say as he hesitated a moment before finally responding, “Sure. I will check in tomorrow. The box contains the matriarch’s datebook. There are some important events that Tationy will be expected to attend. I will make arrangements for her to have her hair and nails done, pick up anything that is needed, and if you want me to handle anything my number is written on the cover. Don’t hesitate to call.”
When he heard the door close he groaned and a moment later he realized she was standing behind him. He was angry, but his features softened when he saw the pout upon her face. At least ten minutes passed before he finally said, “I am just going to ask you one question. How long did you know?”
“The moment I saw the box.”
That made him feel slightly better, “Can we have one Saturday that does not turn in to complete shit?” He could tell as he gazed upon her face that she was just as upset as he was. Reaching out he took her hand, “We have a lot of stuff we need to talk about Tationy, but tonight let’s just put our house in order. We have control over that right?”
The emotion on her face said everything that needed to be said as her eyes teared up and she responded with a single nod of her head.
Playing in the Background: Lana Del Rey – “Off to the Races”
Tationy and Hiko had separated to their own corners of the house as they did what they could to make it look somewhat lived in. The truth was, it was just a painful distraction.
Leaning against the stove he thought about what happened that week, starting with his mother. Tationy had told him that they would not ever see her again and if that was not what he wanted, then he was the one that needed to change it. His mother, Ako Yamada had not been in his life since he was a boy. He barely even remembered what she looked like until she was standing before him. No matter what he did, he would always be Kari so reaching out to her served no point as far as he was concerned. She would always look at him with that ugly pained expression of contempt and hatred and that would just make him dig in and grip his pride even tighter.
The hardest part was probably actually dealing with his father, Tadayoshi and knowing how badly he screwed up. He got why Tationy was telling him to mend things, but with all the time that had passed and harsh words exchanged he did not even know if that was possible. Hiko wanted to be shocked that his father might actually kill him, but honestly he was not all that surprised. It was not as though he had ever been the perfect Kari son. He spit on tradition and his father held tightly to it because it was all he had left.
There were plenty of other things from Sadamitsu to Kyo. Worse of them had to be the situation with that piece of Sosa scum. Sure, Sofore Academy was in the not so distant past, but despite her words regarding it not being what it looked like, Hiko could not help thinking it was far worse as the image of Abe pinning her to the school wall flashed through his mind. Had Kuro not jumped the guy he definitely would have, but something with that entire situation still felt off to him. Tationy never really explained, despite him asking her several times.
Now that he knew Abe and Kuro had been together, it made a little more sense then it had before. Still, he was worried that Abe was going to be coming in and out of their lives. Tationy had told Hiko, that she was the only family that guy had. Was he going to be okay with that? He didn’t think so, but he did not want to see her in pain and she had enough heaviness lingering due to the death of Emi Sosa and apparently even the matriarch of the Yamada. Hiko had never asked her about that. He never asked her about a lot of things.
In the beginning, he had told her that he was certain he was going to be the worst boyfriend; possessive, jealous, short-tempered, and yet somehow even after all the time that had passed she was still with him. Hiko didn’t understand it and having Anjou remind him that he was not attractive just made him wonder why someone so beautiful would even want a guy like him.
His thoughts were distracted by the music which was thick and heavy as he watched her happily swaying her body and singing.
♪ I’m not afraid to say that I’d die without him ♪
♪ Who else is gonna put up with me this way? ♪
♪ I need you, I breathe you, I’d never leave you ♪
♪ They would rue the day I was alone without you ♪
♪ You’re lyin’ with your gold chain on, cigar hangin’ from your lips ♪
♪ I said “Hun’ you never looked so beautiful as you do now, my man.” ♪
When he was little, he had asked Kazuma to allow him to have her. As the years passed he gave up hope that the King of the Gods would ever grant his request and eventually he stopped asking and pushed her to the furthest part of his mind; forgetting her. A Kari like him that could not even live up to the expectations of his kin did not deserve a goddess. Beautiful women like Tationy were given to guys like Semei who were devoted to every aspect of the Kari. He never expected that a guy like him would receive such an amazing gift let alone know how to appreciate her properly. Every day, he felt clumsy around her.
His thoughts became distracted as she asked him to replay the song, “What is this song about exactly?”
“The singer is telling a story about her past as a stripper with an alcohol problem and how she gets picked up by this mobster that indulges in women, money, and drugs. They run rampant throughout the city, living the high-life, but the relationship was doomed to end. Even though they are both bad people and would probably be considered as having no souls they love each other, despite their flaws.”
Hiko hit the repeat button which restarted the song, “Why do you like it?”
Tationy had not responded, simply sang softly and began moving to the music again, “Keep me forever, tell me you own me.”
Without even thinking he was walking forward and then grabbing her arm so he might be able to see her face clearly. This simple action caused him to stare blankly as he tried to understand why his body moved on its own. The pout of her lips drew his attention as he asked, “Is that what you want Tationy? Want a bad man?”
She teasingly smiled, “I have a bad man, Hiko Kari. He just does not realize it yet.”
The hairs on the back of his neck stood as a shiver traveled along his arms and he understood instantly why he had moved. This was the power of the Yamada; even he was affected as he leaned in and breathlessly asked, “What are you doing to me?” He hoped for some sort of response while he anxiously gripped her hips. Hiko would be lying if he said he did not feel powerless before her. His thoughts were muddled as he leaned in, “I want to fuck you.”
Her words teased him, “Does my Hiko want to play?”
“He is going to do more than play,” Hiko responded as he claimed her lips to his.
This was why the Yamada were dangerous. She didn’t even have to do anything. A look, a word, even the soft little lullaby of a rather racy song could bring a man to his knees. The truth was, she was misbehaving and despite her being a novice compared to people like her mother and Anjou he felt all his strength leave his body. Happily indulging in the taste of her mouth he lifted her in his arms and maneuvered them toward the sofa.
The sound of the coffee table scrapping against the floor as he pushed it out of the way with his foot did not distract him from kissing her. In fact, as soon as he seated them Hiko’s hands were moving along her body. She whispered against his mouth, “You’re hard, Hiko. Do you want to be in me?”
He took a breath as he responded, “Ahh.”
Just as quickly as the moment started she had released him from the spiderwebs. His features snarled as he used force to pin her to the sofa. With his thoughts somewhat clearer he stared at her face, “Too much and you would rape me; not enough and you regain control. Our Yamada bodies are dangerous weapons.” Her fingers reached out and teased along his jawline, “I love your face. What others deem as ugly, I see as unique. When you look at me with those hard unforgiving features, all I can think about is you making me yours.”
Hiko was slightly annoyed that she got him all worked up only to toy with him, but as he listened to hear speak he thought back on what Anjou had said. “Him telling me brought this on?”
She whispered, “The Yamada learn to master the art of seduction and even a smaller number the art of intimidation. I was not expecting to deal with your Yamada blood for some time, but Anjou tends to have no consideration for the bigger picture some days.”
“How does it work?”
“It will be difficult for you. It requires a finely tuned level of control. More importantly, you have to be clear in your purpose. If you are indecisive about whom you are and what you want, your willpower will never be strong enough to dominate another person.” She paused a moment, “Additionally, you have to be able to read people. Exerting your will over another requires you to understand what they want just as much as knowing what you desire.”
Staring at her face he considered her words before leaning in and breathlessly saying, “I want you.”
“Do you know what I want?”
That question seemed a difficult one to answer. Some days he thought he knew exactly what it was she desired and other days he just was not certain. Finally, he braved it and leaned in to claim her lips. Part of him expected her to attempt to pull away or tell him that was not what she wanted, but she reciprocated, thrusting her tongue aggressively into his mouth. Each time their lips met intensified the passion as the two writhed against each upon the tiny little sofa which eventually led to its own unexpectedness as they tumbled into a big heap onto the floor.
Hiko groaned painfully as he laid there with her on top of him, “Fucking book.” The dull ache at his back was screaming at him as he rolled the two of them just enough to grab the book that he landed upon and toss it. Had he took a moment he might have realized he had knocked it off the table earlier when he pushed it out of the way with his foot, inadvertently causing his own pain.
“Is my Hiko alright?” She asked as she nipped his lower lip playfully.
“Want me to kiss it and make it feel better.”
They indulged in each other the entire night. There were times when he thought about forgoing their agreement and taking her, but Hiko still felt that it was important for them to not rush one thing in their relationship. So, as much as he wanted to have sex with her, he somehow managed to restrain himself. It certainly was not easy and that morning when the two of them dragged themselves out of bed after their enthusiastic evening of play he was kicking himself.
While having his morning coffee, he thought about the night and even wondered where Tationy might drag him to that day. He was perfectly content staying home, curling up with her, and just having a quiet Sunday. Unfortunately, he learned rather quickly there was no such thing in his life as he heard what he thought was a key in the door, which perplexed him at first until the voice of Anjou caught his attention, “Bring them right in.”
“Seriously, how the fuck do you keep getting in here?” Hiko questioned.
“I got a key from the doorman. Do not worry, I walked in on the matriarch engaging in coitus all the time. I am unfazed these days.”
“That is seriously not the fucking point. We need to have a talk about boundaries.”
“Why?” Anjou asked and Hiko could not help staring at the man in disbelief.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Anjou turned away from Hiko long enough to tend to the men who had been bringing in boxes and a piano. He knew the Yamada man was going to return at some point today, but had not expected him so early and come baring items, “What is with all this stuff?”
“Well, I noticed your house was in need of some furnishings so I picked up a few things while I was out yesterday and the piano belonged to the matriarch. I managed to buy it from the estate sale that Chilè had. Much to her dismay I assure you which made it well worth the money spent on it.” Was he staring? He rather felt like he was as he tried to decide what to say. Thank you seemed appropriate and yet Hiko had no idea what to make of this guy. “Is Tationy…”
Hiko interrupted, “Taking a shower.”
“Good, then we have an opportunity to speak.”
Inwardly he groaned. He had terrible experiences when it came to people saying things like that to him, “About what exactly?”
“Is it safe to assume it is your intention to marry Tationy?”
“I don’t really see how our relationship is any of your business, but we do intend to get married after we finish school.”
“The matriarch of the Yamada is a position that is under a lot of scrutiny. Eyes will be upon her. I imagine as the future head of the Kari Foundation, it is something you understand quite well. It becomes very important for the two of you to maintain appearances; the morality police and other clans of Aslann will be watching you both closely. Things that might not seem all that important such as how you dress or how you speak, can be just as damaging as outright deviant behavior. I will most certainly be asked about your union and impending nuptials; for your information when I am asked I will tell them that the two of you are engaged to be married and intend to set a date after you finish your schooling. However, there is still the issue of her betrothal to Abe Sosa.”
He had nearly forgotten and failed at hiding his unhappiness, “That has been over for a while.”
“I am sure it has, but such betrothal contracts do not just disappear because we wish them to. With your permission I would like to facilitate a mutual termination of this contract by approaching Abe Sosa.” With his permission? It was evident he was confused as Anjou added, “Forgive me, am I crossing a boundary?”
“No, I just am surprised you are asking my permission.”
“I just assumed with you being Kari that public matters such as these would fall under your purview. I can ask Tationy…”
Quickly he spoke, “No, that is alright. Handle it.”
“I will keep you apprised of my progress, though I should warn you that sometimes these things are only ended with a financial settlement. I am not saying that will be the case, just so that you are aware that Sosa could ask for money to make it go away.”
“Whatever it takes to get him out of her life,” Hiko responded.
Hiko closed his eyes a moment as he leaned against the counter and sighed. The thought that they might actually have a life without Abe in it, brought him comfort though he doubted anything with Sosa would be so simple. It was clear that Anjou was moving further into the kitchen as he spoke, “I made Tationy an appointment for her hair and nails. It is my understanding she is working at the Kari Foundation, so I called there to obtain her schedule. Due to the time constraint, I have been given permission from a man called Zen Kari to allow her hair and nails to be done on the property. The charity gala is on Friday and I have already informed the committee handling it that the new matriarch will be attending with the scion of the Kari.”
When Anjou finished speaking, Hiko opened his eyes. This was not really the life he wanted for either of them, but it was part of being the future Head of the Kari Foundation and the Matriarch of the Yamada. They would be expected to attend and if they refused or skipped out it would reflect badly, not just on them, but their clans as well. “Is there anything I need to know about this gala?”
“Not really; a bunch of rich pretentious assholes working toward a cause they care nothing at all about. Just bring your checkbook and wear a tux.” Hiko realized he had been quiet for far to long when Anjou asked, “Is something troubling you?”
There were a lot of things he could say, but it was not like he was about to open up to a complete stranger, despite him knowing Tationy. “I just have a lot on my mind,” He finally responded.
“Is this about what I said to you yesterday? Honestly, you have what every Yamada man wants.”
Grumbling under his breath Hiko finally glanced toward Anjou, “Tationy called it the art of seduction and intimidation. Is this the power of the Yamada?”
Anjou had leaned against the stove next to Hiko before responding, “No one really knows. Those that probably have some clue among the Yamada are not saying, it is just something we have always been taught to do. Really it causes a lot of issues. Most of our clan is judged by the few bad seeds. Even though they do not represent the rest of us, they become the image of the Yamada. The matriarch has done what she could through the years to keep us in good standing, but as I understand it has been a constant struggle due to what Chilè and Ako did especially in regard to the Kari. Our once beneficial relationship has never really recovered.” There was a momentary pause before Anjou asked, “Do you want to learn to use the gift you were given?”
“Tationy says it takes finely tuned control and it might be difficult for me.”
“Well it is clear you are short in temperament,” Anjou responded and Hiko was reminded sharply that this man always managed to say things that irritated him, “So, I am going to assume the reason she says it might be difficult is due to a lack of control. You have two very passionate bloodlines running through your veins with the Yamada and the Kari. It is understandable that restraint does not come naturally. The blood of one of those clans would be a struggle; so it becomes important for someone like you with both to wait out the wave instead of trying to ride it. Sometimes, when we are feeling intense emotions our first instinct is to just charge forward which results in us fighting against the tide.”
“So, you are telling me to just take deep breaths and show restraint?”
“More or less, though it will hardly be that simple. Failing is part of learning control. It would not be so bad if it was just the failure, but couple that with the feelings self-hatred and disgust and we end up making it worse by overindulging in all of those things we are trying to gain dominance over.” Anjou paused a moment before adding, “I am telling you stuff you probably already know being Kari.” That was true, but Hiko could not help thinking it sounded different coming from Anjou.
Their conversation came to an abrupt end when Tationy came down the stairs and she stepped out on the balcony with Anjou. Hiko did not want to be that guy, listening in on his girlfriend’s conversation, but as he pretended to be busy that was exactly what he did.
The atmosphere seemed heavy around the two of them as they stood quietly. Even though he told himself not to look, he did and he felt slightly jealous seeing Anjou’s eyes upon her. Despite, Tationy not even looking at Anjou, she had to be acutely aware that his gaze was focusing in on her face. Was he attracted to her? Those ugly thoughts would not let him be as he blatantly watched them. Finally, Anjou spoke, “I will need to call the stylist back and have her bring some dye with her; your Saitama blood is starting to peek through at the tips.”
Hiko had not even noticed and felt irritated with himself that another man could see something after only spending a short amount of time in her company. He had to strain to hear Tationy’s whispered response, “I have not had the opportunity to take care of it.” There was a momentary pause before she asked, “Is my Tylo blood going to be an issue?”
Anjou had not hesitated, “There are some among our kin that are concerned that giving a Tylo such power will be problematic. However, I quickly reminded them that you were raised and groomed by the matriarch for a good portion of your life. It is only because of your mother that you do not bare the name Yamada. They bickered about it like little old women until my grandfather set them straight. Chilè always had ulterior motives with everything she did including giving you the clan name of Tylo; her bad behavior has nothing to do with you. Unfortunately, it does cause us some difficulties especially with them seeing me as some upstart and you as just some Tylo woman. The Yamada has not been led by the young since my grandfather served as the voice and Miso became the matriarch. It understandably worries them.”
“I always suspected that this might happen, but I was honestly hoping she would pass on the will of the Yamada to another.”
“That is just foolishness on your part. Miso considered no other worthy of replacing her.” There was a noticeable pause, “I am not going to lie to you. This will not be easy for either of us, but the person I am concerned about most is your guy. The matriarch sometimes has to sell herself by being overly captivating to ensure the best result for the clan. If he reacts as a jealous man it puts the welfare of the clan at risk. I hate being that guy, but if it is going to be an issue I will have to deal with it.”
Deal with it? Hiko found himself intently hanging on every word, “I will say this once Anjou. Don’t you dare force your will on him. If I ever even get the hint that you have done something to oppress his reason and his way, I will topple you and the Yamada without even thinking twice about it. Are we clear?”
There was an awkward silence that followed and Hiko noticed how Anjou’s gazed remained on Tationy until he finally spoke, “It would be easier to exert my will over him, but if you wish for me to keep him in check without swaying him I can do that. Though I find myself curious regarding why you wish for me to use such a gentle hand.”
“He is fiercely loyal to those he trust. However, if you betray him or cross him in any way you will never be forgiven. Overpowering him with your presence would insight his wrath.”
“Wait, are you telling me that you do not influence him?”
“I have once; last night I showed him the power of the Yamada and unless he ask me, I do not intend to do it again.”
Anjou sat upon the balcony railing, which put him at eye level with Tationy. Hiko noticed that between the two of them there was far more silence, then he would have expected after all there had to be plenty of things for them to discuss now that she was the matriarch of the Yamada.
“While I feel it would be easier if you simply allowed me to use my will to keep him in line, the truth is, I would rather not do that if at all possible. Don’t get the wrong idea, it is nothing so benevolent. I just have better things to do with my time then keeping a forced amount of control focused on one person.” As the conversation progressed, Hiko realized he had far more question than answers. “So, is there anything I should be made aware of?”
“This evasive almost coy attitude might fly with your Kari boyfriend, but I have a pair. Seriously, you know how this works Tationy.” When she did not readily respond Anjou said, “The two of you rather suddenly are going to be thrust before the public. My job is simple; keep the Yamada happy and make sure you do not fall on your face. That means you cannot keep shit from me. Whatever secrets you want to keep from your man, keep them. I don’t care, but the two of us cannot have any.”
“It is not that.”
“What is it then?”
“Anything that does not concern the Yamada, ask Hiko.”
Her words took Hiko by surprise as he watched Anjou straighten his body though the man never outwardly reacted, “Are you seriously giving him full control over decisions regarding the presentation of your life together?”
“I trust he will make the right decisions.”
Hiko expected Anjou to protest, but was surprised when he responded with, “Alright. I will address my questions regarding your relationship and future to him.”
Just like that? It seemed far to simple as the two talked briefly about the upcoming event, the matriarch’s datebook, and that Anjou could be called upon for pretty much anything. As Tationy made her way back into the apartment and up the stairs, Anjou found a seat at the table. For a split second, Hiko had glanced toward the direction Tationy had gone which was a mistake as Anjou asked, “Would you like me to schedule you an appointment to have your balls extracted?” Hiko was annoyed as Anjou added, “I don’t generally say things like this, but I have never met a Kari as pussy whipped as you before.”
“It is not like that?”
“Isn’t it? Let me ask you a question. Do the two of you intend to have children?”
“Eventually, Tationy wants to have…” He was quickly interrupted.
“That was not what I asked. The question was, do the two of you intend to have children?”
“I was trying to answer your question,” Hiko snapped. It was clear he was frustrated, “As I was saying, eventually we do intend to. She …” Again he was interrupted.
“When you answer, it is not she this or she that. It should always be we, our, and us. I know you heard our conversation and it is clear that you always allow others to lead you. A terrible quality in a man that is going to run a mega-conglomerate like the Kari Foundation so from now on, I do not want to hear you say ‘she’. If I ask a question, you make the decision. Now, do the two of you intend to have children?”
Hiko tried to keep his irritation in check as he carefully responded, “We have talked about it and eventually we do want to have children. There are other things in our lives right now that we are focusing on so it is not currently a priority.”
“Better,” Anjou stated. “My job is very simple. I make the two of you look good, handle the unnecessary crap that hinders your days, deal with unpleasant rumors and jacked up stories that might cause the two of you problems. Normally, I would just be doing this for Tationy, but the two of you are a packaged deal. Miso was always single, so I have to admit this is a new experience for me. The first thing we need to do is whip you into shape because this wishy washy and pussy whipped attitude of yours is going to get you eaten alive by the press.” Hiko set a cup of coffee on the table for Anjou as the guy talked, “Is it safe to assume that Tationy is your first girlfriend?”
Uncertain why he was so nervous answering that he hesitantly responded, “Ahh.”
“Please tell me the two of you are at least having sex.” If Hiko had intended to say anything he did not get an opportunity because Anjou seemed to have read his face and found the answer, “Wow. Alright, first thing is first. Probably only those closest to the two of you are ever going to believe you are not having sex. Instead of asking you questions like, are you waiting for marriage, they are going to ask you things like are the two of you trying for a baby. No one is going to believe the two of you are not fucking. I apologize for being crude that is just how it is. The Kari are very particular about these sorts of things. The fact that you are going against the ways of the Kari is going to bring up a lot of questions. They are going to want to know why you have disregarded the traditions of the Kari, how your clan feels about the way you are choosing to live your life, not to mention there will probably be some that want to get into the intimate details of your bedroom.”
Hiko suspected people would be curious due to him being the future of the Kari Foundation, but he never even considered the impact it would have on his image. He had only really been concerned with Tationy. “I don’t really care what they say about me.”
“If they call you a tyrant that only cares about himself, how does that make Tationy look? The two of you are a pair. What effects one will always affect the other.”
“Then I will protect her. Shield her from the press.”
Anjou stared at him, “Do you have any comprehension of the kind of power needed to do something like that? A guy standing around his dinky apartment in a baseball shirt and jeans is never going to be able to command a room. It would require some serious changes and it is not limited to your lack of style.”
“That is your job right to make people look good? Are you saying you are not up for the challenge or were you being insulting and telling me that I do not have what it takes to command a room? Either way, it pisses me off. Tationy is my responsibility and as a Kari man I am going to protect what is mine. Show me how to do that or get out and we will find someone else to handle our public personas.”
“Do you think I work for you?” Anjou asked as he stood suddenly.
Not for a second did Hiko backdown even though he considered the question before finally responding, “Ahh, I do.”
A long moment of silence followed as Anjou crossed his arms and stared down Hiko. The overwhelming presence of Anjou made him feel inferior, but Tationy was far more important to him than anything else in his life including his family company and all the money in the world. He would do anything to protect her. So, as difficult as it was he stood his ground as several tension filled minutes passed.
Anjou eventually responded, “Alright, but to reach a point high enough to accomplish what you want you might not like what you become. Once we start down this path, I am not letting you back out no matter how difficult. I see a project through to the end. If you are not prepared for the monster you might become, then except that you will never be able to protect her and drop this foolishness. I suggest you take today to think about it.”
Just as quickly as Anjou stopped speaking, he departed the apartment leaving Hiko with plenty of tension and things to consider.
“His words must have troubled you,” Tationy’s voice distracted his thoughts.
Hiko had not noticed her and realized far to late that she probably had been standing there for some time. Sighing he managed to say, “Everyone seems to think I am incapable of protecting you. That the kind of power needed to do that is outside of my reach. Sometimes it feels like they are just humoring me and it really pisses me off. I know I am not there yet, but I will be someday. Not a second, not a moment will pass, when someone will dare speak against you.”
“I believe in you,” She said softly. “I do not doubt that you can become that man, but the sacrifices made to get there will be great. One cannot waver in their dedication and I must be honest with you Hiko, there will be moments you falter. Times even when you will look at me and wonder if it is even worth it to keep trying. Anjou is right for you to make certain this is the journey you want to take. It is not an easy one to walk. This is the path that is the most rewarding, but is far more unforgiving for both of us.”
His heart sank uncertain he wanted to even ask the question, “What does that mean?”
“It means, there will be times we stumble and take separate paths. It cannot be helped. If you want an easy road, this is not the one.”
Was she saying they would break up? He did not understand as he rushed toward her and as he placed his hands upon either side of her head he asked a question he never thought would ever leave his mouth, “Do I cheat on you?” Even though he tried to keep the emotion from his voice he knew he had failed, “Please tell me that is not why we end up on different paths.”
“My Hiko, that is something you never do.” He felt all of the tension leave his body as she continued speaking, “I honestly do not know what it is that drives us apart. Despite several attempts to see that part of the future, it is currently blocked to me. What I can tell you is it will be painful for both of us, but I don’t feel any betrayal like one would with cheating. Besides, if you did sleep with another woman there would be no future to see.”
Hiko stared at her before finally managing to stumble over his words, “Tationy, you are really scary.”
“I am afraid you may never fully understand how true that comment of yours is.”
“Honestly, I hope someday I do because it really kind of turns me on.” He knew he was getting sidetracked, but the few times he had witnessed this side of her he had felt an overwhelming need to take her. “I would actually like to talk to you about something Anjou brought up. People are going to assume we are having sex, so I kind of find myself wondering why we are waiting. Due to how fast we tend to progress we made the decision to hold one thing sacred and wait, but what if I decided that I cannot wait two years to be in you?”
“Is that what you decided?”
He considered her question a moment, “Last night was so fucking hot, but it just ended. The whole time I wanted to have my cock in you and it never got that far. Everything we did was amazing, but this morning, I was disappointed and frustrated. I want us to wait and yet, I really want to experience everything with you.”
“Everything huh? Do you want to watch porn with me, Hiko Kari?”
Stammering he pulled away from her, “I don’t know. I am not interested in watching other people have sex. The only woman I care to see doing sexual things is you.”
She spoke teasingly, “Want to make a porn video? If we viral it to the world, Anjou will be really pissed so we have to make sure that we only send it to Sadamitsu.”
Hiko groaned, “Not happening.”
The seriousness of her tone told him that she understood even though she had been lightly picking on him, “There is a part of you that wants to experiment and try new things, but the thought of going against what you were taught among the Kari is frightening for you. Truth is, you are far more strict in this regard than others of your kin.” There was little time for him to consider her words as she reached out and grabbed his hand. With a single tug, she pulled him toward the stairs without much resistance.
After the week he had, moments like these with her meant so much to him as he found himself sitting in the warm water of the tub, kissing her. “We need a bigger tub,” He whispered against her mouth.
“Yeah, maybe one of those Jacuzzi style ones?” She asked between kisses.
“Ahh, what else would you like?”
“A big…” She left her words hanging there.
“Want something big Tationy?”
“Yes, please.” She begged softly.
Why did this feel so sexually arousing to him? It was not like they were really doing anything overtly intimate. Certainly, they were naked and kissing, but they had not even touched each other’s bodies. Maybe this was what Sadamitsu was trying to tell him about porn. It was not about the actual indulging in the decadence, but instead about feeling safe and secure with the person you love so you are able to share and explore. “Tationy,” He nervously said her name.
“Yes, Hiko Kari?”
“Thank you for believing in me,” He managed to whisper as he allowed his tongue to tease her lip. There was just so much craziness in his life and all of the emotions were overwhelming him. Couple that with the fact that he wanted to do more with his girlfriend than just kiss and touch her, he was lucky he had not exploded.
As much as he wanted to have sex with her, he considered for a moment as they enjoyed each other that perhaps he was putting too much emphasis on it simply because he had never been with a girl before. What they had was perfect. It did not feel forced even though they rushed around most of the time at what Sadamitsu would call warp speed. He had no idea what that meant, but it sounded really fast.
To Be Continued