Part V


Part V

            It was surprisingly easy for us to integrate each other into the lives we already had.  Easier still to explain to the boys the new situation in their home-lives.  I don’t know if it’s because Gou and Makoto are truly our sons or if they were somehow blessed with a more mature wisdom than either Tyson and I were at their age, but they actually listened with patience while we, their somewhat clueless fathers, fumbled around our explanations about our relationship, how things were going to be from now on, and were they okay with all this?

            Leave it to Makoto to sum it up nicely and Gou to just shrug in the simplest form of acceptance there could be.

            “You love each other.”  Makoto announced.

            “So why would we have a problem with that?”  Gou added.

            “Tyson and I really want you to think about this, boys.”  I wagged a finger at them.  “Because after a long talk, Tyson has invited you and I to move into the dojo, Gou, and that’s a big change for you and Makoto.  You’re both used to having your fathers’ undivided attention, and if this happens then you’re going to have to learn to share that attention.”

            “Not just with either Kai and I, but with each other as well.”  Tyson added seriously.  His hand was clasped tightly around mine, and those fingers tightened slightly, as if he feared that they would rebel at that idea completely.

            Makoto and Gou just looked at each other for a moment.

            “It won’t be easy, I suppose…”  Gou mused thoughtfully.

            “I think it’s a good idea.  I would like having my best friend around all the time – even when you are getting on my nerves.”  Makoto replied.  Gou rolled his eyes.

            “Who gets on whose nerves?”  He muttered, but grinned.  “Me too.”

            I let out breath of relief I hadn’t known I was holding in.  Tyson’s hand relaxed around mine.

            “So you don’t mind, then?”  I asked Gou.  “Leaving the mansion to move here?”

            “Nah.  It’s a big old house, Papa, but it’s really empty with just us, you know.  Besides…” he looked around the living room, taking everything in.  “This feels like home.”

            Now I grinned, because that’s exactly what I have always thought.  I always knew he was a smart child.  Tyson was looking a little misty-eyed, and he was suddenly getting up and swooping Gou up in a giant hug, planting a kiss to the top of my son’s head with an easy affection that filled me with the deepest warmth.  God how I loved him.

            Makoto rolled his eyes but then was coming over to stand in front of me, eyes questioning.  I smiled and drew him up to sit in my lap, cuddling the young boy like I had Gou over the years.  “I know it’s kind of strange, Makoto, but…I love you as much as I love Gou, and I’m sure you can tell your Dad loves Gou just as much as he loves you.”  I stated quietly, watching Tyson swing Gou around with a laugh.  Gou was giggling at the ride.

            “It’s not strange.”  Makoto looked up at me with Tyson’s vivid blue eyes.  “Not to me, anyway.  Everyone loves me!”  He exclaimed – with Tyson’s pride and complete lack of modesty.  I laughed.  I couldn’t help it.

            “Yes, I’m sure that’s true.”  I coughed at the ‘I am so modest, Hiwatari!’ broadcast loud and clear down that weird bond between Tyson and I.  Giving Makoto a hug, I put him back on his own feet and stood up.

            Tyson and Gou joined us again, and I lifted Gou up into my arms, a smile on my face.  “I guess that means we have a lot of things to do, don’t we Gou?  First thing’s first: packing.”

            “Yeah!  Gou, come and pick out your room!  We’ve got a few extras around here.”  Makoto dragged off his new housemate and I watched them go, feeling somewhat misty myself.  Arms slid around my waist from behind, and Tyson’s breath was warm on my neck and ear.  I leaned back into him, my cheek brushing against his.

            “Welcome home, Kai.”

            “I’m home, Tyson.  And this time I’m not leaving.  Ever.”

            “Damn straight you’re not.”

~~~~~~~~~~

            Some days I can hardly believe that my life could be even half as wonderful as it is, now.  Some days I am just waiting for the other shoe to drop – on my head.  Things weren’t all sunshine and rainbows with all the changes that have occurred since that fateful weekend.  There have been a few bumps and bruises, namely the kids getting used to each being in the other’s space (which could have been worse had we made them share a room), and the fact that Tyson and I have very little ‘alone time’ as Kenny so euphemistically terms our sex life.  But there’s no where else any of us want to be, and there’s nothing that could drag either Gou or I away from the dojo now that we’re here and we’re a family.  A real family, Gou is forever reminding me.

            I still have visions of Tyson in that apron doing dishes whenever he says that.

            Our friends have been nothing but supportive (not that I expected otherwise), though there have been a few people around that are less than agreeable about the fact that Tyson and I are obviously living together, as a couple, with children always present, and…well.  We all know how many in this world view homosexual relationships – even when they don’t know a thing about the people they’re maligning.  But Tyson and I have managed to deal with society pretty much as we always have.

            We ignore it.

            The boys have dealt with a bit of fall-out at school, but I think they handled that perfectly well.  Tyson’s not so happy about the phone call from the principal, but I’m slipping the boys a bonus for their allowances this month.  We, neither of us, have tolerated bullies and when Gou caught some kid at school bullying Makoto he quite handily proved to the bully and his gang that picking on Makoto was a mistake.  A really big one.

            I’m so proud.

            Tyson’s proud too, he just hides it better.

            It’s been three months since Gou and I moved into the dojo.  And today was a rather momentous one.  You could say today was the day Tyson ‘took me home to meet the parents’ – or in his case, Gramps.

            Snuggling up to Tyson, curled around me in our bed and snoring lightly in my ear after a rather vigorous love-making session, I cast my mind back on the events of the day with a sigh of relief at the knowledge it’s over.

 *** ***

              I looked around at the scenery, a half-smile crossing my face as I followed Tyson through the halls of the seniors’ condo building.  This was definitely a place that suited the eldest Kinomiya; beaches a few steps away, pretty nurses and staff around 24/7, and yet still each elder had their own suite and space to call their own.  Tyson had explained in the car on the way here that Gramps had searched and searched until he found this place, and then he and Tyson had a nice long argument about how the old man didn’t have to move out just because Tyson had a son and was running the dojo himself.

              “He’s adamant that it was time I had completely ownership of Kinomiya lands and that it was time for me to continue the Kinomiya ‘dynasty,’ as he calls it.”  Tyson had said with a fond rolling of eyes.  “Besides…I apparently ‘cramp his style with the chicks.’”

              I had nearly choked on my coffee at that.

             Tyson stopped at a door at the end of the hallway, raising a fist to knock briskly – before simply walking right in with a yell of “Gramps!  You home?”  I followed him inside silently, my nerves already strung tightly at the prospect of the coming confrontation.  If there was anyone in Tyson’s life that I had to fear in order to be with him, it was Ryuunosuke Kinomiya.

             “Little dude!  Out on the deck!”  Came the reply.  I grasped Tyson’s arm before he could move through the condo suite.

             “Kai?”

             “Maybe you should…talk to him first.”  I hesitated, glancing in the direction the voice had come from.  “I mean…break the news and give him a chance to absorb it before thrusting me into his life again…”

             “Oh, Kai…” Tyson leaned over and gave me a soft, but deep and thorough, kiss.  “He’s always thought of you as one of his own grandkids.  You don’t need to be so wary of him, you know.  He knows you stayed away for a good reason, no matter what it may have been.”

             “Still…”  Okay, so I’m a coward.  We know this already.

             “Alright.  Stay here a minute, and I’ll go talk to him.”  I nodded and watched him walk outside through the patio doors of the living area.  I looked down at my feet for a moment then glanced at the sofa.  Might as well, sit. I thought, not knowing how long it was going to take for Tyson to explain to Gramps everything.

             I couldn’t stay sitting for long, however.  I was too restless and nervous.  So I wandered over to the patio doors that were still partly open, and unashamedly eavesdropped on Tyson and his grandfather.

             “…about Kai, Gramps.”

             “What about him?  The kid finally bothered to call?”

             “Gramps.”  Tyson snapped.  I knew that tone perfectly well.  “You don’t know what happened so don’t go making judgments.  I thought you were wiser than that.”

             “Now, now, T-man.  Just because you’re not 13 anymore doesn’t mean you can take that tone with me.”  Gramps responded in a reasonable tone.  He didn’t sound very happy though.  “As for your former home boy…”

             “He’s back, Grampa.  We’ve had a long, long talk about…well everything, honestly.” There was a pause, then, “He loves me.”  I heard the smile in his voice.

             “Tyson…”  Uh oh.  I’ve hardly ever heard Gramps use Tyson’s proper name.  Then there was a deep, heavy sigh.  “Kiddo, I can’t say anything about your choices in love.  You’re old enough to deal with those sorts of problems on your own.  And I doubt that my opinion holds much weight in any case.”

             “That’s not…”

             “Ah Ah!  Let me finish.”  Gramps interrupted.  “The fact is, I know perfectly well that when it comes to Hiwatari Kai, you will do whatever you want no matter what anyone else in the world tells you.  Because you love him.”  This time I could hear a smile in the old man’s voice, and my heart suddenly jump-started in my chest.  I hadn’t realized it stopped.  “Because you know him best.  Besides which, it is your life.  I have no right to tell you who you can or can’t love, and I wouldn’t dare to presume to tell you any such thing.  Because I love you and you’re my grandson.”

             A sniffle.  “Gramps…”

             “What I’m trying to say, little dude, is that if you and Kai have worked things out, then fantastic!  It’s about damn time.  I’ve watched the two of you dance around each other for far too many years.  You’ve said things to each other with a heart that has always been wide open to one another, things that few people ever find in life.  Granted, his life hasn’t been easy nor has it been simple, but he’s come through it well enough.  I’ve seen through that mask of his since the first time you brought him home with you and the rest of your homies.  If there’s anyone out there that’s worthy of you, I haven’t met them yet.”

             There was a long, long moment of silence, and I could hear Tyson’s sniffling.  Actually, I kind of wanted to sniffle, too.  I wasn’t expecting open arms here, but I hadn’t expected quite that amount of blessing from the old man, either.  Then came Gramps voice again, breaking the poignant moment.

             “Blow your nose, T-man.”

             Tyson’s laughter was a little on the wet and stuffy side, but he obeyed.  “Thanks, Gramps.”

             “So are you going to tell me about it or do I get to chock it up to one of life’s great mysteries? Gimme the skinny, little dude!  The low-down, the 411…”

             “Gramps!”  More laughter from my beloved in that protest, then…  “He’s here.”

             The smile that had crossed over my face at Tyson’s relieved laughter disappeared instantly.  Maybe Gramps was willing to forgive me, but I still dreaded meeting him again face to face.

             “Eh?  Who’s here?”

             “Kai, Gramps.  He’s waiting inside.”

             At that, I made a break for it.  Kami forbid I should get caught eavesdropping.  I went back to the sofa and sat gingerly on the edge of the cushioned seat, running my hands through my hair in a nervous gesture.  At that point, Tyson stepped back into the room, Gramps following behind closely.  I waited for all of a second before I looked up at them, then shot to my feet to greet the old man that had been more of a grandfather to me than my own had.

             “Kinomiya-san…” This was going to be interesting since I apparently can’t even say anything useful.  At least I’m not stuttering.

             “K-Man!”  I had a millisecond to blink before I was engulfed in the embrace of a wiry – but surprisingly still spry – old man.

             “Oomph!”

             “Oh for…Gramps, he still has to breathe, you know.”

             “I know that!  But I had to give him a hug!  The boy hasn’t had enough hugs in his life.”  Gramps let me go and I pretty much collapsed backward onto the sofa again, blinking in stunned surprise.

             I couldn’t really argue with him, though.  Hugs, indeed.  Tyson was smiling knowingly at me, in complete agreement with his grandfather, I suppose.

             “Don’t worry, Gramps.  That’s my job from now on.”  The little brat actually leered at me!

             “Tyson!” I admonished, blushing to the roots of my hair.  He snickered then burst out laughing.  Gramps was chuckling, too.

             “Well, you boys sit down here and I’ll rustle us up some grub and some iced tea!  Then you can tell me all about it.”  Winking at me, Gramps strolled off to the kitchen area (albeit aided by a stylish walking stick these days) whistling.  I huffed and fell back against the soft cushions of the sofa, eyes closing in amazement.  Tyson dropped down next to me and nudged my leg with his knee, his hand picking up mine and bringing it up to his mouth to brush a kiss over my knuckles.

             “You okay, love?” he asked me softly.  I nodded, rolling my head to look at him kind of sideways.

             “Getting there.”  I gave him a reassuring smile.  “He’s still…Gramps.”  I commented, earning a snicker from my lover.

             “Yes.  Yes he is.”

 *** ***

            Thinking about it made me smile.  Gramps had plied us both with enough iced tea to waterlog an elephant and stuffed us with snacks like one, too.  And while he did that, we gave him a slightly modified explanation of everything.  And there were tears.  Not out of me…well, okay.  I admit I got a tad watery, but not like the crocodile tears that came out of two emotional Kinomiya men.  I got the air squeezed out of me again by Gramps when we left, too.

            Tyson’s breathing shifted and I knew he was waking up.  His arm tightened around me, then his hand rubbed over my chest seductively.  “Hey.”

            “Hey.”

            “You’re thinking.  I can hear it.”  Lips nipped tantalizingly at the nape of my neck.

            I rolled my eyes, but leaned into his embrace willingly.  “It’s nothing.  Sorry I woke you up.”

            Chuckling darkly, he nibbled on my ear.  “No you’re not.  I can feel it.”  His hand was wandering down my front with lustful intent.  I sighed happily.

            “Well, there is that…”

            I flipped over to face him and was quickly absorbed into a passionate, loving kiss while his hands mapped out my body with abandon, his legs tangling with mine in the sheets.  After that, any more thoughts of the day or my frayed nerves disappeared.  Tyson had a habit of making me put the important things in perspective.  And damn if he wasn’t good at it.

~~~~~~~~~~ 

            A month or so went by and everything was beginning to settle into what I loosely termed ‘normalcy’ – considering life with any Kinomiya is never routine, let alone life with two of them.  I had thought that I’d cleared all the hurdles to finally getting on with my life with Tyson, but of course reality had to come back and bite me on the ass.

            Hard.

            Somewhere along the way I’d completely forgotten that aside from Gramps, Tyson had a father and a brother out there in the world somewhere.

            It was early October.  I had the day off work, Tyson made sure he didn’t have anything to do for the weekend, and we’d sent Gou and Makoto off to visit Kenny – who was then going to pass them on to Max and Hilary so they could see the new baby and help out around the house a bit, since Max was busy between family and work for the BBA and the Hobby Shop.  I got up early, leaving a passed out, snoring freight train named Tyson still sprawled face-down on the bed with the sheets mostly on the floor and barely covering his backside.  I had to smile, as I pulled on a pair of drawstring lounge pants and a shirt (which I didn’t bother to button), when my beloved bluenette snuffled and patted the spot I’d just left before blindly reaching up to grab my pillow and bring it down to hug to his chest with a contented sigh.  I grinned and quietly slipped out of the room so he could sleep in for a while.

            I made coffee and toast for myself and took my breakfast outside to eat while I read the newspaper.  When I was finished, I left my dishes in the sink and went into the dojo to meditate, knowing that by the time I was done, Tyson will have woken up on his own and would come looking for me.

            I was just walking into the dojo when a voice called out from the front entrance, “Tyson!  Hey, kid!  You awake yet?”

            I froze and stared at the man who came waltzing in with a large bag tossed over his shoulder.  I swear the powers-that-be hate me.

            Kinomiya Hiro stopped when he spotted me and there was an instant death-glare directed at me.  Not that he was receiving smiles of welcome from me in return…

            “You.”  I think the temperature dropped a few hundred degrees, because I shivered – and tried desperately not to show it.  Frigid doesn’t even begin to describe the vibe that flowed in my direction from Tyson’s older brother.

            As I had no real response to give, nor anything productive to say that wouldn’t result in an attempted beating, I kept silent, lips pursed in a thin, straight line and face as blank as I could make it.  Internally I was well on my way to panicking, shouting on down that bond to my lover to ‘WAKE THE HELL UP!’ before something bad happened.  Sometimes this telepathic connection can be useful, because I could feel him moving before he was even mostly awake, the link between us drawing him to me through the house like a magnet.

            “Hiro.”  I acknowledged, carefully taking up a position that could easily shift from defense to offense if the occasion rose.  I could feel the tension at the back of my neck and the little hairs on my arms seemed to prickle with it, almost like a static charge.  I watched Hiro slowly drop his bag and take a step forward, and I tensed, bracing myself for the fight.

            But instead of coming at me, he froze in place and looked over my shoulder.  I relaxed slightly as a sleepy, annoyed Tyson came up behind me and pretty much used me as a prop to hold him upright.  His arms came around my waist loosely, and his chin dropped down onto my shoulder.  He yawned loudly in my ear and blinked blearily across the room.  “What’s got you so worked up this early, Kai?”

            I leaned back into his arms unconsciously, welcoming the weight and comfort of him gratefully.  And submissively.  I wanted to drive home the point that I was here because Tyson wanted me there, not because of something I wanted.  Big brother Hiro was ridiculously protective of Tyson (when it came to me, at least), but if he understood that Tyson wanted me, welcomed me, then chances were he would back off out of love for his little brother.  And I could be civil – its as easy as not saying a word, something I have great skill at.

            “You have company, Tyson.”  I replied quietly.  “Your brother is here.”  I still didn’t take my gaze off Hiro as I spoke, watching him as neutrally as I could.  Oooh he was not pleased to see me with Tyson.  Not at all.  Tyson’s chin lifted off my shoulder and he straightened, waking up enough to send a warm grin across the room to his brother.

            “Hiro!  I didn’t know you were back in the country!  Is Dad with you?  Have you gone to see Gramps, yet?”  I couldn’t help the faint smirk at the rapid fire questioning.  Neither could Hiro.

            “Little bro…  Yes, Dad’s out front getting his stuff from the car, and no, not yet.”  Hiro flicked his gaze between me and Tyson.  “What’s he doing here?”

            Tyson frowned and gave him a rather pointed glare.  “He lives here, Hiro, and don’t give me that condescending look!  Ah!”  He held up a hand.  “Don’t you dare.  You know nothing about it, so just leave it alone.  He’s here, and he’s staying here no matter what you or anyone else have to say about it.”

            That fierce protectiveness gave me warm tingles all over.  But I wasn’t going to be the cause of a family rift.  No way could I do that to Tyson.  I heard a ‘Don’t be stupid, Kai.’ as I turned to leave the room, just as he caught my hand and held on.

            “I’ll…go make coffee and breakfast.”  I said, squeezing his hand.  ‘I’m okay.’  I added mentally.  ‘Talk to him, and your father.  I’ll be in the kitchen.’

            “We’ll be along in a minute, then.”  Tyson agreed, letting me go.  I nodded and padded away.  When I was out of sight, I stopped and leaned against a wall for a moment, sucking in a deep breath and letting it out slowly.  How embarrassing that I had needed rescuing.  Me.  From Hiro!  Someone I was quite capable of standing up to all on my own.  It was ridiculous and I was quite happy to flog myself with my own stupid pride while I went about preparing a very light, basic breakfast for Tyson and his family (should they be inclined to eat).

            I could barely hear their voices from the kitchen, but when those voices rose I could hear quite clearly the outright fight going on between the two siblings.  I closed my eyes and braced myself against the counter, leaning over it with my head hung as I listened, however unwillingly, to them argue in full voice over me.

            “…a big risk in letting him back here, Tyson!”

            “What part of ‘I love him’ do you not understand, Hiro?  You’ve known for years how I felt about him!  How he’s felt about me!  And neither he nor I have any obligation to explain to you why he didn’t come back sooner.  That’s between us and nobody else!”

            “I don’t know what sort of sob story he could have possibly told you to have made up for all the pain he’s caused you all these years, Tyson, but you really need to give your head a shake and pull it out of your ass!  He’s never been good enough for you, and now you have Makoto to think about!  You can’t just expect my nephew to accept someone like Hiwatari into his home and life without even…”

            There was a loud smack! of sound and I winced.  Oh, that’s not going to go over well…  I was pretty sure that Tyson had just thrown a punch, if not a bitch-slap.  And I knew from bitter experience that he was quicker than lightning, particularly when he was righteously pissed off about something.  Not even Hiro could have dodged or blocked it in time, for all his training and experience.  Waves of outrage and sorrow were pouring down the link and it was all I could do not to fall over and burst into tears.  I could do nothing except send him my love and strength and whatever support he needed, even though it was tinged in sadness and regret that I was the cause of such disharmony between Tyson and Hiro.  He had always been Tyson’s hero and idle, had looked up to him since he was a toddler, and now I was a wedge of contention between them.

            “I can’t believe you would dare, Hiro.  I have reason enough to pound you into the dojo floor for maligning Kai, but to question how I raise Makoto?  Who, by the way, absolutely loves and adores Kai to pieces, not to mention being on cloud nine being able to live with his best friend who is closer than a brother to him.”

            “You can’t tell me Hiwatari…”

            “He has a son the same age as Makoto, Hiro.  And I love Gou as much as I love my own son.  He might as well be my son, just as Makoto might as well be Kai’s.  We love our children and we love each other.  There is nothing more or less between us, but you never could understand that.  I don’t know why you hate Kai so much, but as long as you can’t put it aside and at least try and be civil, at least try to accept that he’s everything to me, then you are no longer welcome here.  You are no brother of mine if you can’t let the past stay in the past and get over this childish dislike for someone you hardly know.”

            I swallowed, my eyes going impossibly wide.  There was no way I could let him do that!  I was down the short hallway and in the room before I realized what my intentions were.  “Tyson, don’t…”

            “Kai.”  He turned to me and before either Hiro or I could say anything more, Tyson was pulling me into his arms and kissing me stupid.  Helpless to resist, helpless to deny the surge of emotional chaos drifting back and forth between us, I went completely compliant and kissed back willingly, my hands moving of their own accord to his face and the back of his neck.  He didn’t let me go until my mind was totally blank of anything but him and I was dizzy and breathless.  With a whimper I buried my burning face into his neck and curled my arms around him snugly.  I felt his lips trail over the shell of my ear and heard him whisper, “I love you.  And you’re not going to go all tragically noble on me and offer to leave.  No way in all hells.”

            “But…”

            “No.  Now shut up.”

            I clamped my mouth shut and remained where I was, tucked against his side with my head resting on his shoulder.

            “Well.  If that was a show meant to somehow convince me of…I have no idea what, then I don’t know what you want me to say.”  Hiro’s face was stony, and I could see a flicker of pain in his eyes before it was quickly dosed in anger.  I couldn’t really bring myself to feel much sympathy for him, though I did regret that his relationship with his little brother was in tatters.

            Tyson sighed deeply, emotionally exhausted.  I rubbed a hand up and down his back soothingly in support.  “Hiro…I don’t want you to say anything.  I just want you to move on and accept us as we are.  I haven’t changed, and Kai,” he turned his head with a rueful grin to look at me, “hasn’t changed a whole lot either.  He’s just let himself be more open than he could be in the past, that’s all.”

            Hiro stayed silent, studying us as though the answers he was looking for could be seen, some sort of clarity or insight that would be visible to him about us.  After a long moment, he closed his eyes and I saw him seem to wilt, as if he’d been drained of whatever energy had been holding him upright all this time was suddenly just gone.  His expression was still hard, still wary, but it softened considerably as he finally nodded at Tyson and sighed.

            “I’m sorry, Tyson.  I know you’re old enough to deal with all this on your own, and perfectly capable of deciding what you want to do with your life.  I guess…I still haven’t gotten used to the fact that you don’t need me anymore.”

            Tyson’s eyes filled, though he didn’t let the tears fall as easily as he once did.  “Hiro, you’re still my big brother.  I still love you and look up to you, and you’ll still be there if I need you.  But I won’t put up with you interfering in my decisions any longer.  Just…know that Kai and I have worked out our issues, and we’re happy.  Together.  Can that be enough?”

            Hiro finally turned his gaze on me, and I saw the clear, unspoken message in his eyes.  Hurt him again, even the littlest bit, and I will kill you myself.  I nodded minutely, getting the message loud and clear.  I hoped he could see in my gaze that I’d kill myself before I hurt Tyson ever again, but I wasn’t sure exactly how good I was at telegraphing subliminal messages after so many years of keeping everything to myself.

            “I won’t make promises, Kid, but I will try.  I think I’ll need time to get used to the idea.”  He answered Tyson with a slight smile.  He wasn’t smiling when he looked at me, but he wasn’t hostile anymore, either.  “Is that coffee ready?  It was a long flight and drive from the airport, and I think Dad and I could use a few cups full.”

            It was an offer for a truce, and I accepted it as graciously as I could.

            “I’ll go get it.  Bring your stuff in, while I get everything ready.”

            Tyson watched me go with a relieved smile on his face, and I heard him say, “I’ll go help Dad bring in the rest of your stuff.  Just throw it over there for now and we’ll set up the spare sleeping rolls and everything later.” as I left the room.

~~~~~~~~~~

            After that initial rollercoaster ride of emotion, dealing with Tyson’s elders eased significantly.  Hiro was really making an effort to get over whatever it was that put him off our relationship, and Tyson’s father was as jovial and accepting as he’d always been.  I hadn’t seen him, myself, since way, way back in those early days of the first year of the Bladebreakers, back during our first World Championship tournament.  But he seemed to know everything that happened to Tyson (and subsequently me) from then until we’d all retired from competitive blading and I basically disappeared from the blading world completely.  I was absurdly grateful that he was wise enough and accepting enough to not want to pry and find out where I’d been these last ten years.  Who knows?  He probably does know where I was and what was going on.  It wouldn’t surprise me.  He did, after all, have connections in unexpected places, not the least of which was with the BBA (at first with Mr. Dickenson, and later probably with Kenny).

            When I collapsed face down onto the bed much later that night, I was completely exhausted.  It was like I’d been blading with Tyson in preparation for a big tournament for 24 hours straight.  I felt muscles complain in places I didn’t know existed on my body.

            I let out a deep, heartfelt groan of appreciation when a well-known, beloved pair of strong, calloused hands grasped my shoulders and began to knead, while Tyson’s weight pinned me at the waist.  “God…that feels good.”

            “Hmm…I thought it might.  You hoard all your tension in your muscles, Kai.”  Tyson dug his fingers into the muscles around my shoulder blades, my breath whooshed out on a deep sigh.  I swear I purred.  He was straddling my hips with his legs tucked right up along my flanks, giving him a good angle to put some real effort into working out the stiffness in my body.  I let my eyes droop shut and simply lay there boneless, enjoying his talented hands as I had wanted to for so long.  I still wasn’t comfortable with touch, but Tyson was so much a part of me now that he could often move under my radar, so to speak, as if he belonged in my personal space – which of course he did.  And then there’s the times like this, where I am completely focused on him and his touch, and nothing else in the world can penetrate that.  I quite literally wallowed in his attention.

            I don’t know how long I drifted off.  Suddenly the warmth of his body heat left me and I protested, rolling over half-way to glare back at him.  He chuckled at me, patting my thigh fondly.

            “You’re adorable when you pout, love.  Lie on your back, okay?”

            Obligingly, I flipped myself over and tucked my hands behind my head on the pillow.  “What are you planning, Tyson?  You’ve got that gleam in your eyes…”

            “Who, me?”  He blinked innocently at me.  Then he drew his shirt off over his head and wiggled out of his sweatpants, flinging both in the direction of the laundry basket.  He practically prowled his way up the bed toward me, stormy azure eyes pinning me in place with a predatory glint.  Oh.  Well that would certainly be interesting.  Bring it on, lover.

            I reached up and curled my arms around his shoulders, pulling him down to me.  Tyson grinned and settled himself against me.  It never ceases to amaze me how well we fit together.  His lips brushed across mine briefly and fingers threaded through my hair.  I sighed and tried to keep the contact, but he pulled just far enough back to make me grunt in frustration.  I looked up at him and blinked fuzzily at the soft smile he was giving me.  “What?”

            “Nothing.  I just love you.”  Tyson shrugged and traced my cheekbone with the back of a finger.  “You okay?”

            I tilted my head at him curiously.  “Fine.  Really!”  I almost laughed at the disbelieving expression on his face.  “Tyson, love, I’m just fine.  I just got a little shocked this morning when Hiro walked in.  I wasn’t expecting it and I got thrown off a bit.”  I shifted uncomfortably in embarrassment, glowering when Tyson gave me a raised eyebrow.  “Stop that.  Okay so I was panicking.  A little.”

            “And…?”

            With a huff, I looked away.  “And he’s your brother, Tyson.  I know how close you are to him, and I hate that I should be the cause of any bad feelings between you.”  Damn him for knowing I still wasn’t entirely at ease with my place in his life.  He wasn’t going to let me pretend otherwise, either.

            “Kai, what can I possibly say or do that would knock some sense into your head?  You know here,” his palm flattened over my chest, right where my heart is, “how much I love you, how much I need you.  But you can’t seem to accept that up here.”  He kissed my forehead tenderly.

            “I…don’t know, Tyson.  I guess…” I nudged him on the shoulders to get him to move off me.  If we were going to have one of those soul-searching type conversations, I wanted to sit up and be able to think clearly – which I wouldn’t be able to do with his body pressed against mine in all the right places.  I guess he got the message because after giving me a thorough searching look, he rolled off to the side and sat up, leaning against the headboard of the bed.  He scrubbed his face with both hands as I sat up to join him, bringing my knees up to my chest and hugging them loosely.  “I love you, Tyson.  You know that.”

            He slid his arm around behind me and wrapped it around my waist, pulling me against his side.  That I could handle, so I snuggled in comfortably and dropped my head to his shoulder.  “Yeah, I do.  Is there some reason you can’t let yourself accept it?”  I frowned to myself, though not because I thought he was angry or something (since I obviously could feel quite clearly he wasn’t).  He was only trying to talk me through it.

            “I…yeah.  I think…maybe I’m just not used to getting what I’ve always wanted.”  I stared off across the room, mind whirling.  “I thought everything was good and that finally things were settling for me.  But…”

            Tyson captured my hand with his free one, lazily threading our fingers together.  “But you’re basically waiting for the other shoe to drop?”

            Why does that make me want to cry?  “Yeah.  Pretty much.  On my head, most likely.”  I grumbled, knowing my luck was just that crappy.

            Snickering, Tyson turned toward me.  “Kai, we’ve already gone through so much to get here.  We love each other, we have the two most awesome kids in the universe…”  I had to smile at that.  “…and now we’re making our own life together.  Of course things aren’t going to be perfect, and we’re bound to run into roadblocks along the way…”

            Feeling rather ridiculous about it all, I snorted and rolled over, burrowing into him in self-disgust.  “I’m being an idiot.  Why you don’t just slap me when this happens, I’ll never know.  It’d be much easier and quicker.”  I mumbled against his skin.

            “You’re not being an idiot.  Of all the people in this world, I think you have all kinds of reasons to be a little wary of happiness after all the things that have happened to you in life.”  Tyson slid down and pulled me down with him.  We lay on our sides, facing each other, just watching each other and lightly caressing whatever parts of each other we could reach.  “So I’ll ask again: you okay?”

            I smiled, actually feeling pretty damn good now.  He always does know how to clear the air when I seem to have the need to brood and mope about something.  “Yep.  Perfect.”

            “That’s better.”  He grinned that ridiculously sappy grin of his and leaned into me, his mouth covering mine enthusiastically.

~~~~~~~~~~

Between The Lines

            Looking back over the years, I sometimes wonder if all those infinite possibilities, those ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes,’ were even really possible.  I don’t think about fate or destiny or stuff like that.  I believe in my own choices, my own options and the consequences I face for them.  There were so many times where I fought temptation in all the forms that could be used against me in some way, and I think – in the end – I’ve overcome them and become someone truly worthy of one Kinomiya Tyson.  ‘The path of true love…’ and all that.  I learn new lessons every day, and I keep following Tyson wherever each lesson should lead.

            The only regret I have is that I didn’t see what was really there the whole time.  Tyson tells me that now I’m being stupid, because obviously everything we went through was something that needed to happen in order to get us to that point where we could look at each other and finally just…be.  But, deep down, I still think that if I could have been a little more observant I would have seen the deep, abiding love between us, that shining golden chord that tied us together in endless, infinite knots.  I’m getting better at it, though.  Sometimes, I actually understand what he says before he says it – and it has nothing whatsoever to do with that metaphysical bond we share.  It’s like learning a new language, in many ways.  Learning to read between the lines of the things Tyson says, the things Tyson does, and learning to accept that he loves me – and that I deserve it.  All I can ever do is love him back…

            Because the ultimate skill Tyson has in dealing with me is that he has always been able to read between my lines.  And still love me soul-deep, unconditionally.

~~~~~~~~~~

Kali Notes:  And thus ends the epic.  Or should I say…so the real story begins.  Thank you everyone for reading, and for all the wonderful comments along the way.  I hope anyone who reads this can see and understand what I’ve seen in the relationship between Tyson and Kai, and I hope none of us ever forget the wonder and joy these two characters have brought to us fans.

Special thanks to TechnoRanma, for all her insight and encouragement.  I love you!

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