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It had been a long day and Kuro expected that he and Tationy would discuss everything that had transpired, but the drive home consisted mostly of the mundane. Initially, it had not set off any alarm bells, but it took several hours to travel from Thacian City to Mount Celiabai. Which gave plenty of opportunity for that uneasy feeling to build.

Certainly, it was not the first time Tationy avoided things. It was nothing new. Never had been and never would be. However, it was somewhat unusual when there was an entire day of crazy to deal with. So, Kuro expected that there would be something that he would need to handle when they got home. Little did he know it would come in the form of his Second in Command and the vessel of his father, Nao and Mikio.

Upon entering the house, Tationy had disappeared up the stairs leaving Kuro to find his brothers. He thought that Mikio would still be meditating in the living room, but that was not the case. Most of the common areas of the house were silent. Not surprising, it would be in the kitchen that he would find his two brothers.

They had been speaking in hushed voices, though stopped the moment he stepped inside. His hand rested to his hip when neither offered him an initial greeting which left Kuro to approach a topic he had a bad feeling about, “Did something happen?”

“You could say that,” Nao responded though only silence followed.

“Well, are the two of you going to tell me what is going on or…”

Rather quickly he was interrupted, “Mikio seems to think he may have uncovered the source of the anomaly. However, if his suspicions are correct we need to act now and by we, I mean him and Tationy.”

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Kuro was already irritated with the conversation at the mention of Mikio and Tationy in the same sentence. He brought his hand casually to his hair; teasing the long piece of bang that often was hanging loosely. “Tell me what is going on and I will be the judge on whether or not Mikio and Tationy need to handle this,” He stated.

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The mutual expressions given to him by his brothers made it clear that they were aware of Kuro’s feelings. When neither jumped to explain the situation it was with a frustrated sigh he snapped, “One of you needs to start talking or I am walking away.”

“Then what? It will not change the situation,” Mikio stated as he set his cup upon the table. “That anomaly is not a thing. Nor is it the power of any chalta.”

“Oh, I will bite. What the fuck is it?”

Mikio spoke without emotion, “A complicated answer; he is not a man, nor a demon. Despite, having the blood of both. He is father and brother to Tationy and yet…” There was a subtle pause, “His blood is tainted. Power morphed; most likely because he is the son of the demon queen.”

“He’s a god,” Kuro acknowledged, “That is what you are trying to say.”

“Many would see him as such,” Nao stated.

“Certainly he has access to the powers of the Nakamaru demons and the eyes of the goddess Tearra. However, this is not what makes him dangerous. It is the fact that he has managed to use those gifts to unlock the abilities of Soti.”

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That was a name Kuro had not heard in a very long time. Not since Bak was sixteen years old and Rin dragged him into a battle with Mikio’s twin. No, he did not like where this conversation was going at all. “It is not happening,” Kuro stated before either of his brothers could say another world. “I will not allow her …”

Nao interrupted him, “This creature has the blood of the Sato. We cannot afford him pacifying Mikio. With Togore dealing with Bak, only Tationy is capable of keeping that from happening. I know you do not like this, but it has to be her.”

“The fuck it does. Find another way,” Kuro stated coldly as he walked away.

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Even though he had escaped that uncomfortable conversation his mind was still fixed on it. A shower and changing for bed did nothing to ease the tension or the restlessness as he paced his floor. His body did calm some when he heard his door open and the sound of her feet padding across his floor. At least until he saw her.

Now most men would instantly forget what was troubling them, but the lack of clothing on the woman he loved told him that she was taking off the gloves. His gaze did not waver as he coldly spoke, “Et tu, Brute?

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Her head bowed slightly as her eyes closed. It would be several moments of silence before she would choose to acknowledge his words, “Do you really think I would use my body against you? That I would manipulate you with sex?”

“The Prince of Aslann would not hesitate,” Kuro stated.

She made a thoughtful sound, “There are far better ways to get you to do as I wish, Kuro of the Ishi.”

“Then why are you standing before me like this?”

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There was an uneasy feeling tying his stomach into knots as the eyes of Tationy opened and fixed upon him. He was anxious for the answer. Everything she did or said was meticulously thought out. She did not rush into conversations or blurt things out endlessly until she looked a fool. No, she was far too cautious a person for such brutish behavior.

So, it was not at all surprising that she took her time before finally saying, “Because this is how you like me.”

The tension eased somewhat as he snorted, “Oh, I see. Well I would not complain if you wandered around like that all the time, but I do not think the nation could handle it.”

“Sometimes I wonder if you can,” She teased. Even though they playfully did their usual back and forth he could tell she was holding back. Tationy was always reserved with her feelings and not the type of person to approach a conversation. That is why it both annoyed and surprised him as she added, “We cannot choose our battles, Kuro of the Ishi.”

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“Is this where you convince me that sending you off with Mikio is the right thing to do? That it is important for Aslann?”

“Earlier today you told me not to interfere when it came to Iashi. A warrior knows when it is time to fight. This is a battle only Mikio can win and to do so, he needs me at his side. Certainly, as the Elder of the Ishi you could refuse…”

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“It is not happening,” Kuro interjected. “Not now, not ever.”

“Do you not trust me?”

“I don’t trust him.”

Her arms crossed over her chest and Kuro realized far to late why it was she had really approached this conversation with only her underwear on, “I have had many bodies, Kuro of the Ishi. It has never changed my feelings for you. Mikio could do as he wishes to this body and it would mean nothing to me because the part of me that belongs to you I have already given. I am not a man nor a woman; regardless of what body my spirit possesses. Do not treat me as some female incapable of resisting your brother’s desires.”

“I don’t trust Rin,” Kuro snapped.

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The somber expression that adorned her features was unexpected, though Kuro hardly understood why. “Foolish,” She whispered the word. “Often you call me a baby snake, but it is you who acts like one.”

“Excuse me?”

Her head lifted and eyes locked fiercely upon him, “Rin has never once looked upon this body as you have. You can word it anyway you wish, Kuro of the Ishi. Yell it from the top of every mountain that you do not trust Rin, but always what you are saying is you do not trust yourself and you do not trust me.”

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