Without Apology – Episode 6

“Your sidekick isn’t around?” Emmett claimed his seat in class.

The lunchbreak was in full swing. Teens were strewn about the class in their cliques. Others were out playing sports, smoking somewhere, jamming in the music room; whatever they enjoyed doing because this was their time.

“He’s not my fucking sidekick,” Dasai snarled from inside the book he was reading.

“Got it,” he chuckled to see Dasai’s response. “So, where is he?”

“You miss him, or something?” there was a suspicious glint in Dasai’s gaze.

Emmett ignored it, “sure do! But that’s what I get for forgetting my lunch at home today. I was hoping to share it with the little chef.”

“He doesn’t need your food.”

“That scrawny little cutie-pie sure does,” Emmett smiled.

Dasai set his book down hard!

Emmett’s hands were raised, “you can relax tiger. My eyes are firmly off that sweet little derriere.”

Dasai picked his book back up while muttering, “he does have a cute ass.”

Emmett was in love with the idea, “you gonna date?”

He didn’t even look up, “we live together.”

“That’s a reason against a one-night stand,” Emmett chuckled. “I’m talking about dating.”

“I wrote myself off ages ago,” seemed like such a simple thing for him to brush off. “But, that little shit was around complicating things. Just pisses me off!”

“Kuro?” Emmett glanced in wonder. “I think I’ve lost the plot somewhere.”

He sounded pissed, “he’s my responsibility. Doing something stupid like dating would be counterproductive to that end.”

Emmett looked lost, “there’s so much I don’t follow, sweetie.”

Dasai gave an embittered laugh, “just means I’m not doing anything about it so long as he’s around.”

“That makes less sense,” Emmett’s brows furrowed. “But whatever happened that makes you feel responsible, maybe you should ask if he feels the same way.”

Blank was the look on Dasai’s face. A dark glower took over, “how fucking long does it take him to return empty trays?”

Up on the roof, Kuro hit the side of the stairwell enclosure. The world narrowed into sharp focus. Desperately his eyes searched for an out that didn’t exist. He attempted to avoid the large person coming at him, but this person wasn’t looking to be avoided.

“Been meaning to have a talk with you for while now, worm. You make a couple of friends, and you develop an attitude?” Silas held the tender spot where Kuro’s neck met his shoulder. Further back, Bryson watched with cruel amusement.

“I’m sorry!” apologizing came quickly to Kuro.

“Did you forget everything we spent the last three years teaching you?”

“No sir,” he emphatically shook his head. Fear had the fists at his side trembling.

“Do you think you’re actually worth something now?” the grip Silas used on his shoulder was too rough.

“No sir,” he mumbled, tears touching his downcast eyes.

“Damn rights you’re not,” Bryson added in with a snickering laugh.

“The only use you have is as an underling. If you can’t do that, there’s no point in you even living.”

Bryson laughed cruelly, “there’s a ledge right over there.”

His wide eyes couldn’t look that direction. Terror kept his body from functioning as he needed it to. The sudden movement of Silas holding his throat had Kuro wincing. His eyes slammed shut but it didn’t stop Silas from hauling him along the rooftop. Strangled was the noise that came from his constricted throat. His feet scrambled to find purchase. His pounding heart and their cruel laughter filled his ears.

The grip upon his throat vanished, leaving him to fall. But a strong arm kept him from hitting the ground. Blindly, his fingers clung to the jacket of the body that he was pulled into. It was the scent that hit him which opened his eyes wide. With breathless fear, he slowly looked up.

“Dasai,” Silas was backing away with his hands raised in surrender. “Easy man, we were just joking around.”

“Don’t move,” Dasai made his soft request.

Letting go meant accepting the situation. Even so, his hands dropped and he nodded.

Dasai’s warm arm left his back. From the tops of his eyes, Kuro watched.

Silas was grinning like an idiot as he attempted to downplay the interaction, “you know what it’s like when guys goof around. He’s not mad. He knows we’re just joking. Right, wo…Kuro?”

Kuro simply stood unmoving where Dasai had left him. Not that Dasai was looking for his take on things. He walked up to Silas. Without a single word, he levelled a punch that shook the grin right off Silas’ face. A strong hand gripped Silas’ throat. Just as he’d been doing with Kuro, Silas was led over to the edge of the rooftop. Panic had him struggling. But it was as though Silas were as weak as Kuro.

Dangling half over the edge, Silas’ eyes fell over his shoulder to the ground that was very far below. Desperate was his grip upon Dasai’s arm.

Dasai snarled, “how many years has this been going on?”

“Not…” Silas’ reply was strangled silent.

“Not asking you,” Dasai squeezed just a little harder. “Kuro.”

The utterance of his name made him jump a little. He shook his head.

Dasai’s sidelong look at him was cold, “Kuro!”

“Three years,” he immediately answered. “Since the ninth grade.”

“A lot to make up for,” his glare was intense.

“We’ll do anything you say,” Silas was desperate. “We’ll be his best friend. You’ll see.”

Dasai gave one clear order, “you don’t ever interact with Kuro again.”

“Yah, yah! Okay! Whatever you want! Come on man!”

Silas was roughly tossed back onto the rooftop. His palms ground hard into the gravel dusted roof. Dasai moved back to Kuro.

From the ground, while he stared at bloody palms, Silas muttered, “psycho bastard.”

It stopped Dasai in his tracks. Deadly was the gaze that turned upon Silas.

Dasai came back in with a swipe of his right foot. It was all Silas could do just to flinch in time. The sole of Dasai’s boot hit hard crushing Silas’ hand to the ground. There was a scream of pain that was thwarted by Dasai’s hand crushing the throat.

“I know who my father is.” Dasai’s grin was malicious, “I killed him.”

Fear made Silas’ eyes wide.

Dasai looked up at Bryson. Grinding Silas’ hand further into the rooftop was the completion of the upspoken warning he was giving. Silas gurgled a reply while his buddy nodded emphatically that they both understood. Satisfied, Dasai let his victim go. There wasn’t a second invitation needed. Silas and Bryson ran off under a watchful gaze.

Behind him, Kuro tentatively reached out, his mouth falling open. But, his personality didn’t allow him to continue and his hand fell to his side.

Dasai turned around. He moved to stand before Kuro, “you never let someone talk to you like that again, do you hear me trash?”

“But, you’re talking…” his soft voice trailed away.

“Damn rights I am, and you’d better fucking listen to me!”

His whisper cut across the distance between them, “I’m sorry.”

Dasai had been turning to walk away, but the apology brought him back in force! Kuro didn’t have the courage to look him in the eyes until Dasai had his collar locked in his fist. Lifting him up off the ground was what it took for Kuro to lift his gaze.

“That’s another thing,” he snarled. “I’m tired of your apologies! Every time you waste my time with one, you’re gonna start making it up to me.”


Dasai’s kiss stopped the question short. Anger shot through Dasai into Kuro. The kiss came as a surprise. Yet, it wasn’t a moment before Kuro’s shoulders released their tension and he felt his fingers in Dasai’s shirt.

Dasai dropped him. The anger was trying to disguise the feelings that had brought them here.

Kuro dared to point out, “you might be confused on how punishments work.”

A slow smile crept over Dasai, “yah well, move your ass. We’ve got class.”

Kuro walked next to Dasai. A whisper emerged, “thank you.”

They walked down the stairs next to each other in silence.

Back at the classroom, Emmett and Darcy greeted them. Emmett was smiling at Kuro, “there you are!”

Dasai’s gruff tone interrupted, “from now on, he doesn’t go anywhere in this school alone.”

“But Dasai,” Kuro murmured.

The fierce glare came his way.

“Yes sir,” he complied.

“Call me that again and you owe me an apology.”

The warning hit his ears, turning the gears in his mind. A temperate grin appeared, “but I have to make it up to you if I do that.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” Darcy was trying to work it out.

Dasai was amused! His tongue ran over his teeth as his smile grew. To the other two, “nowhere alone. I’ve got a test to take. I’ll pick him up after school, but until then…”

“We got it!” Emmett assured, “hands all over him.”

“Emmett,” the warning was growled.

“Kidding,” he laughed. “Eyes only.”

Dasai left appeased.

“What exactly happened in the last ten minutes?” Emmett asked him.

Silas and Bryson walked around the corner. Seeing Kuro froze Silas to the spot; a caged animal prepared and afraid to bite. Bryson pulled him away, his eyes upon the ground. The three of them watched.

Sitting in the booth of a diner, three friends waited out the arrival of their fourth.

“Why don’t you go cling to Kuro?” Darcy pulled helplessly at Emmett’s arms.

Snagging a fry from their shared plate, Kuro offered a possibility, “is it because you like guys but not me so you’re afraid I’ll misread?”

“So bold,” Emmett applauded, releasing Darcy. “But wrong.”

Darcy picked up the ketchup to pour a pool of it next to the fries.

“Two main reasons,” Emmett explained. “Firstly, I like my arms not broken by Dasai. Secondly, it’s because I’m on her side of the booth and I’m fundamentally lazy.”

“Dasai knows you’re friends,” Darcy pointed out. “He’s not going to care if you touch Kuro.”

“Do not be so naïve,” he laughed. “And before you ask the inane, Dasai cares because he’s got his eyes on our sweet little Kuro!”

Kuro went white.

“Oh sweetie,” Emmett chuckled. “You’re so adorable. Relax, it’s a good thing to have someone interested in you.”

But was it? His eyes danced as unspoken thoughts raced about.

“You’re blushing,” the grin was growing. “Do you like him?”

Kuro wanted to disappear!


“Shush,” Emmett nudged Darcy. “I’m not going to get what I want if you interfere.”

“What does that mean?” she demanded.

Emmett’s eyes glittered dangerously at Kuro, “friend to friend; how do you feel about Dasai?”

“I,” Kuro stared with frightened eyes. His fingers clung to his water glass.

“Don’t push him into something he’s not comfortable with,” Darcy swooped in. “It’s okay, Kuro. Besides, you should aim for someone…who’s a little safer than Dasai. Like Emmett, here!”

“What does that mean?” Emmett mimicked.

“Kuro’s a sweet guy. He would be better suited to someone who’s sweet like him. Not someone who would bulldoze him. You two would make a great couple!”

There was an audible sigh from Emmett as his chin landed in the palm of his hand. “Why do you hate me?”

“I don’t,” Darcy snapped defensively. “I just think you two would be great for each other.”

“Sweet times two is too rich for my tastes.” He glanced at Kuro, “no offense, sweetie I’m drawn to big and burly. Not that you don’t have some exquisite traits.”

Kuro shrank into himself.

“Traits that Dasai’s noticed,” his grin was vicious!

Kuro stared at his lap. His heart was racing!

“Emmett,” Darcy chided.

But Kuro’s eyes looked imploringly over at Emmett in question.

Emmett did not disappoint, “he says you have a great butt.”

His gaze fell again, but this time to hide the pleased grin that was trying to surface.

“If you like him, go for it with him,” Emmett prompted.

“That is the worst advice.”

“Here, have some fries,” Emmett dipped a handful of fries in the ketchup just before shoving them at Darcy. A large blob fell onto her lap.


“Oh, you’d better go wash that off right away. Ketchup is a disgusting condiment,” Emmett told her. At her glare, he clarified, “for leaving a stain.”

Annoyed, she gave a huff as she got up.

With the booth girl-free, Emmett pounced. “Listen sweetie, Darcy has a crush on Dasai. She’s had one for about two years. Don’t worry, he’s not interested. You know that he’s gay, right?”

Kuro stared blankly across the booth.

“Oh boy angle-cakes,” he sighed sadly. “You’ve been struggling to survive for so long that you’ve missed the obvious. But don’t worry, ‘cuz that’s what your wingman is for.”


“Me, sweetie,” Emmett’s charming smile was filled with warmth. “Dasai’s very much into you. But, I think he’s going to need you to let him know that it’s okay.”

“Me?” panic was quick to set in.

Emmett reached across the table to take Kuro’s hands, “sweetie, don’t let those thoughts in. You are absolutely delectable.”

As Emmett sat back, Kuro braved an opinion, “but he should be happy. I don’t know how to be happy.”

Emmett’s fingers were over his mouth as he attempted to repress strong emotions brought up by Kuro’s words. There was a slight tremble of both his fingers and his voice, “in the past few years, I would agree. But this year, I see you smiling. When you talk about the beach and volleyball, or when Dasai invites you to skip class.”

Kuro thought about those things, and he did feel a smile emerge.

“I’ve seen a change in Dasai too.”

“You have?” he was so curious to know every facet of Dasai.

Emmett saw the truth. His eyes sparkled, “it’s hard to find fabulous gay guys to be friends with in our school. So, when Dasai transferred, I figured he was about as good as I was going to get.”

Kuro giggled behind his hand.

Emmett shared the grin, “he’s never going to stop being that sexy surly that works so well for him. But, this is the first year I’ve really seen him smile too.”

He understood. And it hurt that he hadn’t seen Dasai’s pain sooner.

“It’s also the first year I’ve seen him check out anyone’s butt this much.”

“Emmett,” he looked away blushing!

“Truth is what it is,” he laughed mercilessly. “Darcy’s on her way back. She’s going to need some time to process things, but don’t let her get in your head, okay? If being together makes you both happy, then that’s what you should do.”

Emmett stood up as Darcy approached. It coaxed Kuro to follow. They tossed out their remaining fries and recycled their cans before leaving the café. Kuro checked his phone.

“Any surly texts?” Emmett teased.

Laughing lightly, he shook his head, “nothing since he asked where we were.”

“Are we all still on for hanging out on Saturday? Will Dasai come?” Darcy changed the subject.

The sound of a motorcycle drowned out the talk of three friends as they stood outside the café. All eyes were on a rider who pulled up on a sports bike wearing a black leather jacket. The dark visor on a dark helmet slid up at his touch.

“Dasai!” utter shock was in Darcy’s voice.

“Well dark and broody just upped his game!” the tip of Emmett’s pinky finger became locked between teeth as he practically drooled.

“Are you really going to encourage this?” clearly, Darcy was not impressed. “This is dangerous. Do either of you have any idea how many people get injured on these things? And since when do you drive a motorcycle?”

“Legally since now,” his devilish grin couldn’t be hidden completely behind that guard. He reached around to pull a second helmet up. A raised brow was the invitation cast Kuro’s direction.

“You don’t actually believe…”

But Darcy’s words were cut off when she took note of the entire situation. Next to her, Kuro was chewing his lip. His eyes sparkled with appreciation he couldn’t voice because he couldn’t get it to work right now. His hands clung to the strap of his bag.

Seeing the same thing, Emmett’s grin turned salacious.

Kuro adjusted his bag so that it rested across his body. Effortlessly he caught the helmet Dasai tossed his way.

“Kuro?” she was disappointed.

And he didn’t like disappointing anyone. But, “this is so hot!”

He pulled the helmet on as he turned back around to Dasai who was ready to help him fit it. The strap was adjusted and then the click of the snap being secured sounded out. A light knock on the side of the helmet gave his approval.

“Hang on,” he pulled Kuro back before he could get on the bike. “You need a jacket.”

Dasai’s leather jacket came off. It was too large for Kuro, though that didn’t stop Dasai from putting it on him. As he was pulling his arms through the sleeves, Dasai was ready with a pair of gloves. He donned these as Dasai did up the jacket.

“There,” his eyes were smiling at Kuro. “Ready?”

“You two can’t be serious? This isn’t safe,” Darcy was lecturing with her hands upon her hips. “Is it even legal for you to have a passenger?”

Kuro lifted his visor, “during daylight hours, the presence of a passenger is legal with a valid novice license.”

“There,” Dasai’s grin was smug. “Where you wanna go?”

“The beach!” uncharacteristic of him, but Dasai did ask.

“You in for a game?” Dasai seemed pleased.

He nodded. A smile lit up his eyes.

Dasai brushed Kuro’s visor down, “then let’s go!”

With Dasai’s help, he jumped on the bike. The sleeves of Dasai’s jacket were too long, leaving his hands to barely peek out. He slid his arms around Dasai’s torso. Slapping his own visor down, Dasai brought the bike to life. They were gone with Kuro clinging tightly to Dasai.

“Girl,” Emmett was watching them ride off, “I don’t think you have much of a chance to snag your Dark Dasai.”

She pouted watching the same thing Emmett was.

He continued, “but if you keep nagging him like a mother, he’s going to start seeing you as one.”

Darcy slapped him hard, “shut-up!”

Kuro was on a mission to clean up the kitchen. He moved on past with a handful of plates. Leaning against the island, Dasai watched him. There was a clatter as Kuro reached up to place the plates in the cupboard. Dasai didn’t mind the view. Then Kuro turned, on his way back to retrieve more dishes from the dishwasher.

Dasai unfolded his arms just as Kuro was about to walk on by. It was easy to grab a hold of him. He glided smoothly into Dasai’s embrace. He pressed Kuro, “you know, you can demand help.”

His arms slid around Kuro’s back. Shy embarrassment colored those cheeks. Lightly, Kuro gripped his shirt. Taken in by the feel of Kuro molding so easily to his body, Dasai slid his hands down.

“Dasai,” surprise put a strain on Kuro’s voice.

“Shut it.”

Nothing was planned. Dasai would take responsibility, but it was Kuro’s reactions that spurred him on. He instinctually shifted his weight to accommodate Dasai lifting him off the floor. It coaxed Dasai’s hands to firmly grip the backside he’d admitted to noticing. Looking down from his height advantage, Kuro’s eyes held a note of seduction that enchanted. Fingers lightly holding to Dasai’s neck deepened that note. Their lips met and it was hard to identify which of them initiated the kiss.

The door to the kitchen opened, “when you boys are done cleaning, could you…”

Kuro froze with his lips parted and his hands holding warmly to Dasai’s neck. He was at a loss for how to handle the situation. Dasai tossed a slow, withering glare her direction. His mom’s reaction didn’t come as a surprise to him.

“Dasai, I want you to run a load of laundry. Kuro, are you good to finish up in here? I have a video conference in ten minutes, so I can’t help.” She moved through the kitchen as though Dasai didn’t have his hands holding Kuro tightly.

“Uh yah,” Kuro acknowledged the request. He tried to get Dasai to let him down. Dasai wasn’t interested in accommodating.

Dasai’s mother kept going, “no more fighting. There are chores to be done.”

And with that, along with the water she pulled from the fridge, she was gone again.

“Uhm, fighting?”

“That woman is only going to see what she wants to see,” the bitterness came out. Cold was the look he cast to Kuro, “you pulled away just now.”

Kuro’s hands balled into fists in Dasai’s shirt. He was pulling away again.

“Why?” he demanded to understand.

“Let me down,” soft was the plea.

“I’m not going to,” easily he held Kuro’s weight.

Kuro sighed, his eyes downcast, “please…”

“Look me in the eyes.”

Those nervous fists gripped tighter on his shirt. He waited.

Golden eyes found ocean-blue, “I’m not anything. You’ll be embarrassed if people see.”

“I’m the only one that gets to call you trash,” his warning was cold.

“But it’s just practice anyway,” Kuro was struggling.

Squeezing suggestively, Dasai cut him off, “speaking of, where were you?”

A rare flash of challenge sparked in those warm eyes, “I gave you what you wanted. Aren’t you supposed to give me what I ask now?”

Vicious was his grin, “you want something, you either take it or you earn it. And you haven’t done near enough yet.”

There was a dance happening in Kuro’s eyes as he struggled with silent thoughts. He bit back a grin, he blushed, and he positioned his arms on Dasai’s shoulders. “You think I have a cute…ass, right?”

It had been a challenge to get the swearword out. And it had come at the cost of a deeper blush.

Though amused, he still felt a threat was warranted, “I’m going to kill Emmett.”

Kuro gathered his courage. He looked down with a coy look, “well, you can grab it anytime that you want, if you let me down.”

“Seal your deal with a kiss,” his eyes sparkled.

Feeling proud, Kuro had a hold of Dasai’s neck once again. Their lips embraced; warm, slow, and confident. Though the slight tremble of Kuro’s hands did belie his façade. Still, there was no rush to the moment.

Lips still close to one another, Kuro whispered, “I wonder if your mom closes her deals like this?”

It got a laugh out Dasai, and he let Kuro down.

“Kuro, do have a moment to talk?” Dasai’s mom came into the kitchen as he was cleaning up.

“Your phone call,” he murmured uncertainly.

“It’s postponed for a few minutes. Will you come with me?”

He nodded.

“Come on, let’s walk out in the garden.”

The request came as a surprise. Wiping his hands upon a towel, Kuro hurried to follow. The rest of the pots were left in the sink to wait for his return.

The atmosphere outside the airconditioned house was a drastic difference. Though nighttime brought a chill, there was still a heat this early in the evening.

“The gardens are so beautiful!” she sighed. “You really are something else.”

He could only shrug, his blush rising as his gaze fell.

She picked up his hand to take his arm as they walked. “We don’t do this anymore. I’m sorry about that, Kuro.”

“It’s okay,” he spoke softly.

“No, it’s really not. At the old house, we used to walk the gardens every evening before bed; just the three of us. Do you remember that?”

He nodded for he remembered it well.

She held his arm a little tighter, “I couldn’t imagine what it was like for you, suddenly being without any family. I wanted you to know that you were wanted here. That even though everything changed for all of us, there was still a place where you belonged. I suppose, where each of us belonged. Maybe I wanted to create a new family for all of us.”

“You did that,” he wanted to assure her.

“Did I?”

Her sadness tugged at his heart! In earnest, he looked at her as he struggled to find the right words.

She continued, “I’ve let work take over so much of my life that I feel as though I don’t even know my boys anymore.”

He stared blankly ahead. Her boys?

“Dasai won’t talk to me anymore. And I feel like you try so hard not to be a burden that you inadvertently hide things from me.”

“Well, I…”

She cut him off, squeezing his arm, “I’m worried about you both! I worry all the time, like any mother does.”

He thought about that. The words that came out were soft spoken, “not every mother.”

“Sweetie?” she dared to question, though her fear was easy to read.

He wasn’t sure how much of the truth she could actually handle. So he cushioned things for her, “I never had a mom who worried about me. At least, not until you found me.”

“That’s a kind thing to say, Kuro,” she smiled warmly at him, relief letting her breath out on a sigh.

Was he simply paying lip service? Or was there more to his words? Seeing the relief light up her face, he was encouraged to keep trying.

He pushed on, “you care, and I think that’s what makes you a good mom.”

“I don’t know that it’s enough though,” was her sad confession.

“Probably more than enough for a teenager.” He met her gaze to explain, “teenage boys don’t really want to tell their mom things. So, I think we’re probably pretty normal. You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself.”

“I’m trying to do things on my own. But really, I’ve never been a strong person,” tears glittered at the corners of her eyes. For the first time, he saw bits of himself in this woman who’d taken him in as a child.

“Do you have any moms that you talk to?”

“I’m sorry?” she looked at him. They stopped walking.

“I’m starting to have friends, and it’s nice to have people to talk to.” Kuro grinned, “I’m a teenage boy. I’m not a mom. There’s probably a lot that I can’t understand.”

“Keep things age appropriate,” her smile was soft and warm. Her eyes sparkled much like Dasai’s did when he was at peace.

“Huh?” the question slipped out.

She only grinned, looking more like Dasai when he was about to turn wicked, “speaking of age appropriate. I know he thinks that I am, but I’m not completely blind. I know that you and Dasai are seeing each other.”

He turned red!

“Just make sure you boys keep it appropriate for your age. And if you’re truly happy, then I’m happy too! I thought I should tell you that.”

His hands wrung together, unsure of how to explain, “but we’re uhm, and I’m not uhm…good enough. He’s your son.”

She pulled him in tight to her, “you are exactly perfect, sweetie! I’m sorry I ever let you think otherwise.”

“It’s not your responsibi…”

“Yes, you are,” she held his face in her hands. Tears fell from her eyes, “you are both my responsibility! And we’re going to make some changes so that you both know that. How about every Monday night, we make that family night? No work interruptions. No schoolwork. Just the three of us. How does that sound?”

“I think that’ll be nice, but,” he glanced back at the house.

“It’s happening. We will make supper together. We will eat together. And we’ll play games those nights. As a family!”

The assertive way she made this decision for them was absolutely a trait Dasai shared.

“Uhm, Dasai,” he hesitated to burst her bubble.

“Don’t worry about Dasai,” she brushed this off with a chuckle. “I’ll let him have eating in the living room.”

“But we already do,” Kuro winced at the admission.

“Every teen does. Especially when they think that they’re not allowed to.”

“You know?” a sheepish expression deepened.

She had his arm to coax him to continue walking, “a mother knows. But so long as Dasai thinks he’s getting away with behaviour that he shouldn’t, his antics will be mitigated. At least that’s what the books I’ve been reading are saying. Seems to be working to some degree. With you though, I’d hoped to push you into a little healthy rebellion. Teenage boys aren’t supposed to spend all their free time taking care of a household. I want you to experience all the good things in life your age has to offer. And I want you to remember that Dasai may always seem in control, but with a little manipulation you can get exactly what you want while letting him think that he’s calling the shots.”

“You’re not supposed to tell me that!” he hid his mouth behind his free hand.

Sad was the smile she wore, “that took me far too long to figure out with Dasai’s dad. By then, he was already off with other women.”

Kuro looked at her.

Her smile lightened, “relationships are about providing each other with what the other needs to be happy. At least, whenever it’s possible. If it makes him and you happy, then that’s even better. He’s a lot like his father, and he’ll get in the way of his own happiness just to prove a point to himself.”

Kuro wasn’t sure if he followed all of that. But one thing was clear to him, “I think there’s a lot more of you in Dasai than you know.”

Though he was only speaking his viewpoint, it seemed to mean a lot. Her tears fell softly to his shoulder as she placed her head there. “You’re a good son, Kuro!”

Those words stopped his heart.

Her phone ringing out started it back up. For the first time that he could recall, she gave an annoyed sigh. The phone was out, “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, it’s only Wednesday,” he pointed out lightly.

“Monday night it is,” it brought out her smile. With a light kiss on the top of his head, she moved off to join the conference call.

Kuro moved back to the house. Inside the kitchen, he found Dasai at the sink finishing up the dishes.

He held Kuro’s gaze and asked, “she give you crap for something?”

Quickly he shook his head.

“What is it?” Dasai sounded annoyed as he turned his attention back to the sink.

“She thinks we’re dating,” he confessed nervously.

Dasai stared at the bubbles, nodding slowly.