"Now before you go all melting in my living room," Ringo said, catching him before he'd had a chance to answer his own question. "If you think about it, this isn't about Ikki and I, it's about you and Emily."
"I knew that," Kazu said looking away.
"Well then, are you just going to give up and go back to school?" Ringo asked, sitting at the table with Akito happily brushing at her hair. It made the conversation a little hard to take seriously.
"Uhm... how did you two... end up...?" Kazu asked, looking in confusion between the two. Ringo laughed a little and Akito blushed. "I mean... you guys are so... well different."
"Ah... well we sort of were complaining about Ikki together one night and then uhm..." Ringo turned unexpectedly pink. Akito reflected the colour, dropping the brush.
"It was Agito!" Akito said suddenly. "I mean, I always thought Ringo was pretty and that she was a good rival but... Agito was really mad that night so..." Kazu laughed, wondering how the two could still be so bashful. Akito was starting to look upset, and Ringo took him into her arms and smoothed out his hair to soothe him before Agito decided to come out and start swearing.
"You still didn't answer my question Kazu. Why did you come back?"
"Well, you know already," Kazu said, leaning back. Ringo sighed and shook her head, smiling to herself as if she was about to explain something to a toddler.
"Why did you come back after two years of being away and being out contact for almost as long?" Ringo asked gently. She didn't want to make him feel more guilty on that point than he already did. She'd been filled in by Gabishi already, and though Gabishi was a little... strange he was surprisingly upset about traditional things. He'd been angry at Kazu for not being there at least when Kenji had been born, and when Ringo had tried to explain that Kazu was completely out of the loop, Gabishi had said that the King of the Flame road should have just known. Of course, it had made Ringo wonder if they'd made Gabishi a little more different when the Gravity children had been created. He made it sound like it was supposed to be an animal instinct. Of course, there hadn't been time to question if any of the other older gravity children felt the same.
"I couldn't forget her," Kazu answered with an apparent difficulty.
"Can you forget her now?" Ringo asked before he had the chance to recover. He looked at her like she had just said something hateful to him. "Well, if that's the case, Kazu, why are you here moping at my apartment?"
"But... Gabishi..." Kazu started, but Ringo got the message.
"They don't spend all their time together you know. You could have been spending these last few days getting to know Emily again. For instance, why haven't you asked why she decided to have Kenji?" Ringo said pointedly. He was really not being himself. It made Ringo a little annoyed. Where was the passionate and angry Kazu that should have arrived? Of course, everyone had changed in the time.
"Why would I ask that?" Kazu asked blankly.
"You're not even slightly curious as to why she chose to have your baby even when you left? Doesn't that seem like you still have a chance?" Ringo said, pounding her fists against the table in aggravation. Akito shifted back in case there was going to be a fight.
"She's the one who told me it wasn't enough," Kazu said, completely calm in the face of an angry thorn queen.
"It isn't enough. But did she look happy to you?" Ringo said, her fists still clenched on top of the abused table. Heaven knew it had been flipped and thrown at Ikki enough times.
"But..." Kazu began, trying to think of something to say to that. No, she hadn't looked happy, just tired. "I get it."
Emily had just finished her shift at the shop and went into the back to take Kenji to the park like she'd promised earlier. She needed the air. She needed to think a little more. Gabishi had been coming around every day since Kazu had returned to town and she'd been telling him off that she didn't need his protection. He of course, thought otherwise. Everyone seemed to think otherwise about her like that. Even Kazu had thought that in their fight against Om. Of course he hadn't been himself then, but now that she thought about it he wasn't like himself now either.
She walked the short distance to the park and stayed within a foot of Kenji knowing with a great annoyance that if she didn't stick close he'd try eating the sand. She also had to deal with tantrums now too. Somehow, she'd felt really cheated when she'd found out that the terrible two's actually started before two years of age. Kenji was angry that she wouldn't let him climb anything, and was currently having a fit.
"Fine! I'm going home and you can stay here," Emily said standing and turning away keeping one eye on him as he followed her screaming louder. Children- why had she decided to keep him again? She stopped suddenly as Kenji walked into the back of her.
"That's a pretty cool trick," Kazu said quietly, standing there in his A.T.'s as if he belonged there. "You're a pretty good mom, huh?" Emily shook her head at him, crossing her arms.
"I wish," She said turning around to see that Kenji was too caught up in the fact that they weren't alone and had forgotten he was throwing a tantrum. She picked him up and dusted him off before continuing her conversation with the man she'd never expected to see again. "With parenting, there's really no good or bad, it's sort of just you. It's not what you expect at all. So, are you going to be staying in town to go to the engagement party? Ikki is going to be there and he wants to see you." Kazu smiled before skating slowly towards her. Before she had a chance to deflect him, he'd given her a chaste kiss on the forehead.
"There's not going to be an engagement," He said, too close to her. She could feel herself blushing, and becoming too warm. But damn it! She was angry! She wanted to yell at him and bit her lip instead, knowing that it was the last thing she wanted Kenji to see. If he saw her throwing a tantrum she'd never hear the end of it from her toddler.
"Don't be stupid Kazu, the arrangements are being made as we speak," Emily said, keeping her voice surprisingly even. Of course, it was an amazing sense of patience that she was showing now and she owed it all to the wriggling child in her arms. Ugh, there had been so many times when she'd just wanted to throw Kenji out with the bathwater but she had managed to keep it in. Emily was a strong person- and she knew it. But love could make anyone strong. He was skating around her now, and Kenji was clapping excitedly. She sighed. As a mother, she didn't want Kenji getting any ideas about Air Trek. But she missed going out on them. They'd been her source of letting off steam and then she'd been told that she wasn't allowed to use them when she had gotten far enough along in the pregnancy. It had been the reason she'd hit Gabishi even though he was being unusually nice.
"Emily, I'll take you back, so don't worry," He said continuing to skate around her. He was expecting her to thrash him any moment now. She looked at him with the angriest look he'd ever seen and he wondered if the plan had been such a good idea. She might beat him up whether or not Kenji was there. Either way, he took the moment of her distraction to take Kenji from her and stopped skating about a foot away from her. Any closer and she might hit him. "I'll do whatever it takes, learn anything I need to know, you can beat me until you're satisfied." Kenji was amazed by the sleekness of the movements and was making high pitched giggling noises until he stopped. Then he looked over at Emily, measuring for a reaction. If his mama was okay with the stranger, then that meant it was safe.
Emily had planned on murdering Kazu very slowly and perhaps ripping his face off in pure Gabishi style at first. Really, she had committed to that when he'd first said it. She was just going to put Kenji down for an unscheduled nap and then she'd strangle him until he turned blue. How could he say these things to her?! She'd been trying so hard without him and here he showed up with no plans or organization just telling her he was going to take her back as if she had no choice in the matter! Oh yes, she had planned to kill him. Then she was going to figure out a way to bring him back to life and then kill him again. Gabishi wouldn't even get a chance to do anything, this was personal. And then there was Kenji, who fit so perfectly into Kazu's arms and was looking at her for approval when he himself had already decided he liked Kazu. And then another emotion altogether had filled her, cleansing away all the rage she had been feeling and she could feel tears falling. She'd been wrong to keep it from him. She'd known all along. It had been wrong to keep them apart, make them strangers. In the process, she had become a stranger to her own heart.
"It's.. it's not that easy Kazu," She said, wiping away at her face furiously with her arm. He skated forward, using his one hand to support Kenji and placed one hand on her head.
"I'm a King- I'll fight for you. I'm going to challenge Gabishi," He said. Emily looked up at him in shock as he said this. It was impossible...
"No, please don't. You can't win," Emily said, new tears springing forth. Kazu's expression hadn't changed- he'd known how things were going to happen before he came, the -the bastard! She wanted to stop crying before Kenji started getting upset. Of course, it was too late. she knew when Kazu's hand disappeared as he was trying to keep hold of the squirming child. He returned Kenji to her, as he was obviously wishing to return to her with the way he kept thrusting himself towards her. He managed to guide her over to the park bench where he sat her down on his lap much to her embarrassment. He wrapped his long arms around her and Kenji, keeping her there. Though it was frighteningly comfortable.
"I can't get your heart back any other way. I'm a rider, this is the only way I can convince you," He spoke quietly. And Emily hated that he was right. Hated that he knew that. She'd finally managed to calm herself down which had gotten Kenji's attention.
"He won't go easy on you. Gabishi... he loves Kenji. From the moment he was born..."
"It's better if he doesn't. I can't erase the past, and he knows that." Kenji was wriggling again. She sighed, pulling out of Kazu's embrace and standing.
"Kenji is a weird kid, and it's all your fault," She said, setting the toddler down as he trotted back into the park.
"I know. But I think you're pretty weird too. It couldn't be helped with parents like that," Kazu said, trying not to laugh. It would ruin the atmosphere. Kazu stayed and watched them playing at the park together with a small bit of bittersweet feelings. He wasn't allowed to join them yet. He would fight for them, and get them back. His family. His family he'd never known about or known that he'd wanted. Because it was no longer a matter of whether he was good for them or not- he wouldn't live without them. It would be one thing if he'd never known, but even still he would have come back for her. He wished he had come back earlier, but somehow, now seemed like the right time. Kazu wasn't a boy any more, he would have to beat Gabishi. Because he couldn't let Emily or Kenji go now. He couldn't keep moping over the past. It had nearly cost him the future.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Capiche?
Alright. So this is the last thing I've got for you before I run off to either write or do other things in what may look like procrastination but is actually carefully planned brain storming by getting away. Huh. You're not convinced, huh? Well there's enough words in these chapters to keep you busy for the day or two that it will take to get moving and do up the next chapter which I intend to be the last. I don't really want to make this too long even if it means that Kazu's committing to being a parent seems really rushed.
Love you all! Be safe and await my update with a serene smile!