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There was anger. Each step further into her apartment put him on edge. Really he could not even say it belonged to her; the truth was it looked more like a shrine than an actual place of living. One room after another just solidified the mess of questions swirling around in his head. Though he would not even mange to speak until they stepped into her bedroom,
“Are you fucking kidding me?”

No longer could he hide his annoyance as she turned and faced him, “I wanted to pretend you were not in love with that Kari. Should have known you would find a way to shatter that illusion.”

It was clear by the way he was shaking his head that he was beyond frustrated, but she never even offered a response, other than what Kuro would describe as a haughty expression. “This was a mistake…” He stated as he tried to reel in his anger and disbelief.

“I can’t say it was love,” Her whispered words drew his attention. “Really I was just selfish because I didn’t want his stuff to go back to the Kari. It brought me comfort, security, when I simply had no strength left in me. Kazuma would have destroyed all of it. Every last little bit of Tadayoshi Kari. No god could allow a mortal man to rise above him in the eyes of his queen nor his people.”

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As angry as he was, he realized that this might be the first time that Tationy was direct and honest about her feelings. Biting his tongue was difficult, but he leaned against the wall and kept his eyes fixed upon her.

“My feelings for him are no different from those you have for Taro. Do you think my eyes cannot see his stuff littered around your home. You keep it for the same reasons. We have always been two sides of the same coin; our actions are no different and yet I am the callous one while you are seen as the sentimentalist. How judgmental and assuming people are when faced with the same set of circumstances, but with different individuals. The illusion isn’t shattered,” She responded cryptically. “Honestly, that would require you to look beyond your own nose and Kuro of the Ishi, the first son of Rin, has never been able to do that.”

Kuro rubbed his hand over his face, trying to decide how he wanted to respond. Each heated word was met with understanding and anger. She was right, he had done the same thing with Taro’s belongings so it was wrong of him to assume. However, his pride took a hit when she had told him that he had never been able to look beyond himself. Was she saying he was selfish?

His mouth opened to respond, but her words sharply hit him. “How foolish we both are that we never look beyond our own wants and desires. One would think after all of these years we would have learned there is more to life than just us, but here we are in the middle of a war and it is still the only thing we discuss, despite our years of martyring ourselves for others.”

“I don’t care about this war,” He said flatly. “There will be another and then another. It never stops; as long as men walk the earth and their minds are clouded with misunderstandings and prejudices there will be a desire for power, conquering, and destruction. That is not ever going to change and I don’t feel it is worth my attention to piss and moan over something that will happen a hundred times over before I die.”

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She had given him a hard stare which at first he thought was disapproving until Tationy responded, “I only care about protecting you.” Kuro pushed away from the wall and took a step in her direction, though she would not allow him to close the distance. “It is alright to judge my actions harshly and assume that each step upon the path opposite of yours was because I was keeping a distance. It is not wrong to make such an assumption, but you piss me off when you think it is because I did not love you. How dare you look upon this face and think that my heart does not weep at the thought of being separated from you.”

“Each new life I grew weary,” She whispered. “I had nothing left in me Kuro. Nothing, not one fucking thing and if it had not been for Tadayoshi with the Gentle Hand. I would have fallen long ago. He gave me strength to keep fighting for us, for the Ishi, for our future and I resent having to justify why it is I am trying to protect his legacy. You of all people should understand what it means to have someone hold you up and carry your burden because Taro did the same thing for you.”

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There was a certain amount of silence that followed her words as she moved about the apartment. It was not as though there was much to gather, but she picked up a few things and shuffled them into a box while Kuro quietly watched her. He was angry; her words stung deeply.

Rubbing his chin with his fingers he stilled her body when he finally responded, “My old age has made me jealous. The thought that you were sharing things with another man leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I can get over you allowing him into your bed, between your legs, or even being with child. It is the feeling that your heart opened to someone else that irritates the piss out of me.”

“Some days it honestly felt like I was more invested in us than you were. At the same functions and you would not even look at me. Centuries upon centuries of taking other men into your bosom and I am just swept to the side like dirt. I am thankful to that Kari that he gave you strength, but that is no excuse for not coming to me.”

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“The same goes for you,” She remarked bluntly. “Do you think I would have turned you away if you came before me? Perhaps we have both been on different paths so long that we thought that the other should be the one to take that first step, regardless of the reasons, you cannot condemn me for my behavior when you did the same thing..” Noticeably she sighed, “You used to be so bold….”

Kuro bowed his head, “And you used to have fire within you.”

“I guess this is what time does to those that are long in life,” She responded in a saddened tone.

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At first, Kuro just mauled over her words as he watched her move around the bedroom of her apartment. Their shared and heated words were a sharp reminder that the two of them had centuries of stuff to workout. He was angry at himself and her. Taro had tried so many times to get him to go to Tationy and he had brushed his friend off to the very end.

Before he realized it he was moving. Grabbing her wrist and turning her to face him. He backed her to the window and pinned her there. Never did she try to struggle to get away.

“Time did not do this to us,” Kuro scolded though his tone was not harsh. The corners of his mouth turned upward as he pressed his forehead to hers, “Somewhere along the path of life we stopped being the masters of our own fates. We allowed hopelessness and desperation to consume our hearts. I am certain we even sacrificed a part of our souls to get to where we are now; perhaps I am no longer bold and you have lost your fire. It doesn’t matter what has torn us asunder because we are Ishi. Long in life and sharp in tooth.”

After his words, they just stood like that for a time until her fingers lightly teased along the fabric of his shirt. Her pursed pout was turned up into a sweet smile, though there was still a sadness lingering. Sometimes she made it so easy to read between the lines and then there were those moments where he found himself wondering if he was even reading the right book.

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