From the shadows, like a ninja, a man appeared beside Shouta, on one knee and his head slightly lowered, “Welcome home, Young Master.”
Shouta clutched onto Ren’s jacket and closed his eyes tightly before glaring vehemently down at the man kneeling on the ground. “Kurose!! What did I say about appearing out of nowhere like that?”
“I heard your footsteps,” Kurose said, his head still lowered, looking at the ground, “so I came to greet you.”
Beside Shouta, Ren was looking over at the black haired man kneeling on the ground with a rather terrified look upon his face. At first he had thought that the one who appeared was Shouta’s father, but when he heard that name, he realized he was mistaken.
Even as he stared at the ninja like man kneeling on the floor, Kurose looked up at Ren, his eyes flashing with a look of hatred so quickly that Ren thought he might have mistaken it. Shouta dropped Ren’s arm and moved to stand in front of Kurose, swiping out his leg and kicking the older man’s knees.
“Get up.” Shouta hissed. Nodding, Kurose stood up and bowed slightly. Shouta shook his head and grabbed Ren by the arm, dragging him in to the yard with a gloomy face.
“I said we shouldn’t have some.” Ren whispered into Shouta’s ear. Shouta turned a glare on him and then sighed.
“Let’s just get this over with,” he muttered, dragging Ren across the immaculate yard and into the foyer of the large house. Standing at the entrance was a larger man with a sullen looking face. He wore a blue kimono and beside him was a dainty looking woman who smiled softly as Shouta drew near. These two were Osamu and Chika.
“Welcome home.” Chika said warmly, loving the rather refreshed look her son currently had. He had never looked like that when he had lived with them. This made Chika’s heart soar for her son.
Shouta smiled softly at his mother and replied, “I’m back, Mom.” Then Shouta’s gaze shot to his father. He scowled at the older man and snapped, “Dad, get that scowl off your face.”
Osamu’s prominent scowl became worse as the crease between his brows worsened. “I’m not scowling.” Shouta sighed and closed his eyes before taking a deep breath.
“Yes, you are.” When Osamu’s upper lip curled slightly, Shouta continued, “You’re acting like a five year old who had his toy taken.”
Osamu harumped and his crossed arms seemed to tighten further, “My son is more important than a toy.”
Groaning, Shouta cajoled, “Dad, just drop it for now and let us come in.”
They were still standing on the threshold of the building with Kurose behind them. The cold air hit their backs like an ominous gust of wind. Osamu moved slightly off to the side and watched Ren as he bowed slightly toward him.
“Thank you for having me over.” Ren said the politest way he could.
Osamu smirked in an unfriendly way, “At least you have some semblance of manners.”
“Dad.” Shouta barked, watching his father with narrowed eyes. Seeing that the situation would last for a while, Chika sighed and began to move forward.
“Hurry in, you’re letting the warmth out.” Chika covered for her husband, sliding her son and his mate each a pair of slippers to wear around the house.
As the two switched into the slippers, Osamu glared daggers at Ren, the scowl on his face never moving. Even as Chika rammed her elbow into his gut, his expression didn’t flinch. Kurose was still standing at the front entrance, the door closing silently behind him as he stood behind Shouta like a guard. Without even speaking, Chika shuffled the four men into the house and into a sparse room that had a small table set up.
Chika had her husband sit down and forced Ren to sit opposite of the small table from the older man before glancing over at her son.
“Shouta, come help me get the tea.” She grabbed on to her son’s sleeve and dragged him towards the door.
Not wanting to leave Ren alone with his father, Shouta began, “But can’t Kurose-”
Glaring at her son and slightly pinching his skin, Chika said one simple word. “Come.”
Knowing that tone of voice, Shouta snapped to attention, almost forgetting about Ren. “Yes, ma’am”
He then followed his mother out of the room, leaving his father, mate and Kurose alone.
Osamu and Ren started at each other in a silent death match. Neither blinking or moving.
Within the kitchen, Chika was standing next to her son, neither of them moving like their counterparts in the other room. Sighing, Chika reached out an enveloped her son in a large hug.
“How are you doing?” She asked, pulling away slightly to look into his teal eyes.
Shouta smiled, “Besides the morning sickness, I feel fine.” He rubbed his stomach slightly, feeling the growing life there as a balm for his soul.
Shaking her head, Chicka said, “Not the baby, with that mate of yours, how are you doing?”
Confused, Shouta looked up at his worried mother. “With Ren? Well, he’s my mate.”
“Even if he is your mate,” Chika sighed, “if you do not want to stay with him, your father and I will help you raise that baby.” She ran her fingers over her son’s stomach.
“I never said I didn’t want to stay with him!” Shouta hissed, suddenly angry. Is this really what his parents thought? That he was just with Ren because he was his mate? To have such a loveless life like that would be heartbreaking. Not to mention all the trouble the child would have to go through to endure such a thing.
Chika sighed and gave Shouta a small, sad smile. “Meeting one’s mate isn’t always the best thing that can happen.”
Knowing where this was going, Shouta sighed. “Are you talking about grandma?”
“Yes, your grandmother was forced into the marriage into this family just because she was that current heads mate. She didn’t want this life, and yet she was forced to live it just because of that.”
Shouta had heard this story a hundred times since he was a child. His grandmother had been raped and forced to give birth to his father. Before Osamu had reached the age of five, his mother had committed suicide because of the hate she felt for this family. Thinking of the grandmother he had never met, he realized that his mom was just worried about him. That was it.
“I’m not grandma though.” He reminded his worried mother.
“Just think of Ren, and the whole mate business as a piece of chocolate.” Chika told Shouta. “Rich, fulfilling and addictive. But, like chocolate, you’re better off resisting it completely, because it’s just not good for you.”
Suddenly tired, Shout whispered, “I will not resist Ren.” He then gave his mother a weak smile. “And he won’t give me spots like chocolate does.”
“Maybe not all over your face.” She smiled and slid her fingers to touch her son’s face lightly. “But he does tend to leave little spots all over your neck.” Those fingers danced at the back of his neck where Ren had bit him that morning during their lovemaking. Embarrassed, Shouta covered the back of his neck and looked at his feet, his blush flushing even the tips of his ears.
By the time the two arrived back into the room, Osamu and Ren still had not moved at were glaring at one another. Not a single word had been spoken between them.
“Shouta,” Osamu spoke up in the silence as Chika set down the tea cups. “move back home.”
Startled, Shouta lost his balance as he sat down beside Ren, bumping their shoulders. “What’s with that all of a sudden?”
Osamu glared at Ren and tilted his chin up as if using that to point at the younger man. “This man is not suitable for you.”
“You haven’t even talked to him yet, how do you know?” Shouta questioned, his feathers ruffled.
Grumbling, Osamu said after a short silence, “There’s a look in his eyes.”
Upset, Shouta’s hands clenched into fists by his side. “You’re just saying that because you don’t like him.”
“I do not want him in our family.” Osamu’s voice came out as a hiss, “Especially if you are to take over for me.”
Shouta raised his voice, “I told you I didn’t want to be the head.”
“It is yours whether you like it or not. I will trap you here and kill this man to make you take over. You will be the next head.” Osamu growled, his face a mask of hatred. He meant the words he spoke. To protect his son he would do anything, but to protect the group, he would even make his son hate him.
Irritated by the conversation, Ren jumped up and slammed his hand on the table. “He said he doesn’t want to, so that means he doesn’t have to!”
Osamu made a spitting sound before saying, “He’s my son, you have no right to say what he does.”
By this point, Ren was on his knees, leaning over the table, his face mere inches away from Osamu’s. “He is my mate and I love him.”
“That has no bearing in anything in this world.” Was the responding hiss.
“Cut the shit!” Ren yelled, his hand reaching out and grabbing the nape of Osamu’s kimono. No one else in the room moved, they just watched on silently.
“Love is a bloody war,” Osamu said with narrowed eyes, his hand grasping Ren’s wrist and exerting a slight pressure. “No matter how you look at it, you won’t get your hands on anything when you’re doing nothing but waiting for a chance to speak. You’ll never get your hands on him. I won’t tolerate this side of you!”
“You’re one to talk!” Ren yelled back, his hand gripping the fabric beneath it tighter. “How can you say that to me when all you do is threaten him to take over the group? It’s his choice what he does in his life, not yours! If he really doesn’t want to be with the group I will take care of him and the baby for the rest of our lives. I will never let him be unhappy.”
“Ah,” Osamu smiled gently, dropping his hand from Ren’s wrist. “I was waiting for that.”
Not feeling the murderous aura from Osamu any longer, Ren dropped his hand. Confused, Ren looked at Shouta who also shrugged his shoulders as if not knowing what was going on.
Osamu noticed the expressions and began to explain, “If you do not show that you can persevere and truly want to be with my son, I was prepared to deny you even being with him a second longer. But you have showed me that you truly love him. Loving someone doesn’t just mean wanting to be by their side, it means everything in between as well. You need to know their strengths and weaknesses and find ways to adapt around that or your love will never last. Right this second, you truly are enough for my son and heir.”
Shocked, and yet feeling as if everything was now truly before him, Ren bowed slightly, gripping Shouta’s hand firmly in his. “Thank you father.”
“Hey, hey, hey.” Osamu grimace, “Don’t call me father, it gives me chills.”
“Dad,” Shouta spoke up, his hand gripping Ren’s in his. “before I met Ren I felt like a train following the rails. I knew that there had been a path preordained for me. Be a fitting heir, take over the group, build my own family. I had nothing against any of that. I believed that if I fulfilled your wishes that it would somehow fulfil mine as well. But then I met Ren, and all of that changed.”
Osamu looked at his son and realized this was the first time Shouta had explained to him what he really wanted to do with his life. He knew that he was forcing his son into this life because he was born into it and that was why when he asked to be a teacher, Osamu had said yes. He wanted his son to find his own path without hurting himself in the process.
“What do you mean Shouta?” Chika spoke up, not realizing this was how her son had felt for so long.
“I didn’t want to be your heir anymore.” Shouta whispered. “I didn’t want to take over the group, watching people live normal lives was like watching them through a tv screen because I knew I’d never have that type of life.”
Osamu sighed and scratched his head, “But you said you won’t take over the group.”
Shaking his head, Shuta muttered, “That’s not what I mean. If Ren is okay with it,” his eyes found his mate’s and a smile full over love washed over his expression. Anyone would be able to see that the two of them loved each other just by looking. “I will take on the group when the time comes.”
“If that is your choice,” Ren whispered, lifting his mate’s hand to his lips before giving it a light kiss, “I will follow you.
“Now the two of you are sounding like a couple.” Osamu laughed heartily, “I will train you in everything I know Shouta, are you prepared for that?”
Rubbing his stomach that was twisting and turning, Shouta grimaced, “Can we wait until after the baby is born?” He didn’t think he could focus on anything else for the time being.
“Yes,” Osamu grinned, his face bright, “my grandchild comes first in this type of situation.”
“Thank you, Dad.” Shouta whispered.
“Now,” Chika spoke up, looking down at the table, “ we’ve let the tea go cold.” She looked over at the man sitting off to the side, saying, “Kurose, can you please bring us some more?”