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Tationy, Bak (Age 13), and Rin

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“Then the guy was like woosh….I am Dick Throbson. He was wicked cool.” Bak had responded excitedly as father and son walked through a small strip-mall. “Dad….dad….dad…” Bak repeated. “Did you like it? American movies are always so cool.”

Rin sighed, “Baby snake, you only think so because American movies are all sex, explosions, and blood. There is more to life…”

His son cut him off before he could even finish the words, “Can we go to the diner. American’s always have cool restaurants.”

“There are restaurants in Aslann…”

“They are so clean though. American restaurants are so grungy and cool things happen in them.”

Certain he was going to regret asking, “Like what?”

“You know….like the girls with the big boobs and the owls on their shirts or bacon topped with bacon. That is so cool.”

“Somewhere, I think I might have failed you.”

“Huh…” Bak glanced toward him as they walked, “What do you mean?” There was a momentary pause before Bak questioned, “This is about my liking amazing things again isn’t it? For a dad and all you are pretty cool until you start lecturing me, but go ahead. Tell me about the three stages of my ego; separation, acceptance, and attention. Toss around the fact that the ego loves to be cool because it instills a sense of power and makes girls squeal your name.”

“I would have left that last part out.”

Completely ignored his son continued, “It is cool when you talk about ego. I can even pretend you are not lecturing, which is even better.” Rin did not even get a moment to acknowledge his sons words, “Should we bring something home for everyone?”

“This trip to America was about you, not them.”

“I know, but they could not go because they are all … you know, old. Maybe we could get something for them that is…”

“Let me guess, cool?”

“Yes, really cool.”

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Rin would refrain from responding until they were inside the small diner and seated toward the back. They had gotten looks from the other patrons, it was nothing new. They experienced the same sort of suspicious and apprehensive behavior within their own nation. This was due to the curse he placed upon his own blood; death brought trepidation to the hearts of men and it lingered around the Ishi clan.

“Can I get you something to drink?” The waitress hurriedly questioned as she offered each of them menus.

“I will just have tea,” Rin responded in English.

His son had accepted the menu and began looking over each section. Bak struggled with speaking the native tongue of American’s, so it was not uncommon for him to take a bit of time when responding, “Can I get a …..” He made faces, “A strawberry ‘slushier’ and an ice-cream sundae.”

The woman had smiled though never corrected him, “Are you sure…” The waitress asked as she left her words hanging there and glanced between the two. Her question did not come as a surprise considering it was the middle of winter and people generally did not eat cold treats during that time of year.

“Of course,” Bak said with a bright smile. “I want to taste real ice-cream. In Aslann it tastes like chalk.”

Sighing Rin interjected, “It does not taste like chalk.”

The waitress chuckled softly, “Alright, one ice-cream sundae, a strawberry ‘slushie’, and a tea. Coming right up.”

After the waitress had disappeared Rin continued their previous conversation, “What would you like to get your brothers?”

Bak made a thoughtful sound, “I don’t know. What do you think they would like? Ohhh!” He squealed excitedly, “Can we get them wrapped? Christmas is so cool.”

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Their conversation was quickly halted by the return of the waitress. Rin noticed that his son’s eyes were bigger than his stomach at the sight of the ice-cream sundae and he offered polite thank you’s on both of their behalves. Even after her departure it would be a moment of intent staring before Bak would finally say, “I am so glad we came to America.”

“I expect you to eat all of that considering you ordered it.”

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It was clear that Bak was no longer listening, “This is so cool. I should take a picture…” He said happily.

“No phone.”

“Awe, come on dad. Please. Just one little picture. I will post it and …”

“No, you are not going to be one of those kids whose entire life revolves around technology. Phones are for talking, not for sharing every little detail of your life on the internet.”

“Are you still mad? You are, aren’t you? It was so cool though. You and Kuro got instant fame when that video went viral of the two of you fighting. I am so jealous…”

“Bak,” Rin tried to not snap, but realized he had failed. He took a moment to compose himself, “We need to work on your comprehension of boundaries and how not to cross them.”

He pouted as he took small bites of his ice-cream, “I don’t understand why the two of you are so mad at me over it. Fighting like that means you care. Doesn’t it?” Closing his eyes a moment he considered how he wanted to respond, but Bak added, “Why do you and Kuro fight so much anyway? It feels different; not the same as how you are with the rest of us.”

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Rin was not about to have this conversation with Bak so he quickly changed topics, “Not getting very far on your ice-cream.”

“I will finish it, I swear.”

Rin chuckled as he watched Bak situate himself so he could dig in again that was the moment he felt it. Like a whisper in his ear, a breeze brushing along his skin, it was a difficult thing to explain. “Wait here,” Rin told Bak as he stood and rushed out of the diner.

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Once outside he had searched, glancing around before moving in the direction he felt the presence. It did not take him long to catch up, finally calling out her name which stilled her body instantly, “Tearra.” Haunted was the moment, “Were you going to just walk by and pretend you did not feel me?”

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When she turned he felt tension throughout him. The reincarnate of the goddess, his love stood before him and yet she seemed so far away. As time passed he found himself wondering if she would offer him anything, “I did not wish to interrupt.”

“From the goddess, there is no interruption.” He paused a moment, “I was curious if the two of us would cross paths. There has been a great deal of speculation among the Ishi about why you refuse to come to me. Is it because of him?”

“War will not find us if I stay among the Kari; placating Kazuma is the best …”

Rin interrupted her, “I was not referring to Kazuma, but seeing we are on that particular topic I will tell you what I told my son. It is foolish of the two of you to believe this will stay off war. Remaining with the Kari is an illusion that you have control and the longer you remain the harder it becomes to stop Kazuma.”

“I am sure Mikio…”

Halting her from continuing, “I was referring to Kuro. Long has he wondered why you do not come to the Ishi. While he speaks the words appropriately and questions your dedication to me, deep down I can tell that what he really wants to know is why you have forsaken him?”

Emotion adorned her features briefly, “I have not … this is for the best, Rin.”

“Foolish baby snake. Even I who cannot see beyond the veil can feel it in these mortal bones that remaining will have long lasting repercussion that you will not be able to mend. Come back with me.”

Had she intended to offer a response the moment was lost when Bak arrived and whispered, “The Queen of the Kari.”

A smile was offered by the young woman before them, “The last son of Rin. Hello, Bak of the Ishi.”

“You…you know who I am?” He asked nervously.

“I do. The last promise, Rin made to his goddess.”

“It was not the last,” Rin admitted. “There is one more and I intend to see it fulfilled.”

The way her eyes settled disapprovingly upon him told Rin that she had seen something of his path that she did not like, “No further do you need to go, Rin.”

He snorted, “Oh, now you wish to command me? Standing at the side of the Kari gives you no right to speak to the God Rin. When you take your place among the Ishi, then and only then will I heed your words until then you are simply a foolish baby snake who just happens to be the reincarnate of my queen.”

“Dad….” Bak called out which forced Rin to refrain from speaking further. He was harsh with her, it was not his intent. The words she had spoken simply hurt him more than any that had ever been uttered. His promise to his love was the only thing keeping him sane in an age he was tired of. Long was he ready to depart the mortal realm and return to the side of his queen; wherever that might be.

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If she was at all troubled by his words she did not show it, “Have you gone to see Santa yet, Bak?”

“I don’t believe in Santa, besides I am thirteen. I am a man,” He responded confidently.

“A man huh? Hmm, I think that might be true. A confident son of the God Rin, but I have to wonder why it is you no longer believe in Santa. Does this have something to do with a certain willful and stubborn God of Death?”

Rin was almost thankful for the change of topic, “It has nothing to do with me. I have told him many times I met the man, but he refuses to believe that a four hundred pound man slides down the chimneys of children each year.”

“Somehow I find that far more believable then gods walking the Earth,” She teased. “Well no matter. Cannot make one believe. I, myself, asked him for something very special this year…”

Desperately he tried not to read into her words. He was almost thankful they were not alone when Bak asked rather brazenly, “What did you ask for?”

“It is a secret,” She responded and there was no doubt that her intent was to be slightly torturous. Though, Rin was not certain if it was for his benefit or Bak’s.

“Awe, come on…please tell me.” His son repeatedly begged and pouted.

“Well, seeing I told it to Santa I cannot share it with you. Non-believers taint the wishes and dreams of those that believe. So, I guess if you want to know you will have to start believing….”

“Maybe I should just ask Santa. Yes, I like that idea. I can tell him what I want for Christmas is to know what dirty and naughty thing you asked for…”

“She never said dirty or naughty,” Rin interjected.

Ignored by his son, “Dad, can we go see Santa?” Her laugh was soft and amused and all Rin could do was shake his head and sigh. “Dad….come on,” Bak insisted as he tugged on his father’s arm.

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