Chapter 11

Kyomi drove her compact car to the shop where Luc was "helping" open the shop with Mine.

"Mama! Hi Mama! Hi!" a small force of nature had come barreling at her legs and yelling.

Kyomi picked up the small boy and hugged him tight, attacking his cheeks with loud kisses as she spun him around in a circle. "Hi sweet boy! Were you good for Mine and Aya?"

"Yeah!" Luc said as he raised his fists above his head in celebration. Kyomi, skeptical at his declaration, looked at the other two adults in the room.

"He listened very well actually! As always, bedtimes, naptimes, and diaper changes were a game and he likes to run away, but I did that to myself." Mine said sheepishly. "I started playing hide and seek with him and he was too cute for me to stop!"

Kyomi laughed because she's fallen into that same trap too many times to count herself. That smile and those little eyes lighting up are nearly impossible to resist. "I'm sorry I can't stay long. Lucy is in the car waiting for me and we have to get home. Laundry is calling my name!" Kyomi said as she picked up Luc's bags from next to the door where they had been waiting.

"How did yesterday go, Mi-chan? Gure called me and said you were lost and forlorn without anyone so he made you come over and spend the night. You must not let that happen anymore! I will be there to comfort you!" Ayame said dramatically as he started to lunge at her for a hug.

Kyomi stopped him with a hand to his chest. She looked to Mine, "I'm sorry we didn't raise him better." Turning her gaze to Ayame, "I'll admit, it was a little rough yesterday. I did spend the night at Shi's but that's mostly cause I actually got bored." She said with a laugh and then sobered as she remembered earlier in the day. "I played again Aya." She said a little shyly.

Mine and Ayame's eyes widened and smiles spread on their faces. Mine gave her a quick hug and Ayame snatched Luc up to do the same. "That's wonderful my dear friend. I'm so glad you are becoming more and more like your old self."

Kyomi laughed a little at that, "I'm not sure I want to become exactly like I was, but I am beginning to feel more and more like myself. I haven't felt so comfortable in years."

Kyomi bid her friends fair well and took her son and dog home for lunch and naps. Ayame and Mine watched them go. "She really does look better, doesn't she Boss man?"

"She really does. It's like she is coming back to life. I know she will make the most of it from here on out. She definitely had us worried when she first started here." Ayame thought back to the first time they had met, unaware that they were friends. He had been looking for a part time person to help Mine with the shop on busy days when he was in the sewing room. She had been walking with Luc and had asked for more information about the position there in the shop as he was hanging up the flyer. He offered her an interview on the spot and all but drug her back to the shop. Kyomi had been passionate about her work and her son, but Ayame didn't miss the deep sadness behind her eyes. Mine also noticed that she never seemed to smile unless it was at her son. He had not quite turned two yet and was struggling to adapt to the new language that was all around him now. By the end of the afternoon, Mine had made a new friend and Kyomi had a new job. The first day she worked, Kyomi wore a crocheted cardigan she had made for herself and Ayame added that onto her job description as well. She had made a few things and brought them into the shop to set up a table in the corner. Ayame got a portion of the proceeds as payment for using the space, but he had snuck in a "raise" to her salary to make up for it. Kyomi's work wasn't the fastest like Ayame's was, but the customers didn't seem to mind and they began to bring in special requests for her. Mine's soft hand on his arm pulled Ayame back to reality. He pressed a kiss to her hair and they went back to finish getting the shop ready for the day.

….

After Kyomi left his house, Shigure decided to take a trip to the main estate to visit a certain head of the family. When he arrived, Hatori was just leaving.

"If you've come to pester her, please don't. She's been complaining of a headache all morning. I just gave her something to relieve it." Hatori glared at his friend over the top of his glasses.

"You really did learn that from Kyomi didn't you. She gave me that same look just this morning." Shigure laughed quietly walking past Hatori.

"Was she alright after yesterday? I ran into Kyo as he was dropping some things off for her." Hatori asked.

"She spent the night at my house." Shigure had raised his voice a little. Hatori narrowed his eyes at him. "I helped make her feel much better. She seemed alright when she left this morning. Much like she used to in fact."

"Shigure." A cold voice rang out behind him. "Come inside."

"Akito! I didn't think you would be awake." Shigure said as he followed her into her room. "Hatori told me you weren't feeling well. My condolences. I wish you a speedy recovery." He said politely and yet somehow teasingly.

"Who was this girl you were talking about?" Akito asked suspiciously.

"That would be Kyomi McLeod. It was the anniversary of her husband's death yesterday and I did my best to help her not think too much about it." Shigure said brightly.

"Wasn't that the same girl that I had sent away all those years ago? You always did talk about her too much." Akito said scathingly. "Always spending so much time with you three. Couldn't leave us well enough alone. Sneaking off to that monster's den every chance she could. I had to do something about it. How is she back?" Akito was really starting to get angry. Shigure hadn't told her about Kyomi being back in their lives, wanting to hold that information for the perfect moment which seemed to have arrived. Internally, Shigure was reeling. He had had no idea that Akito had been involved in Kyomi's adoption, especially since Akito had been so young at the time.

"She regained her memories about a month ago. We've been catching up ever since. She got married and he was killed in action. Her adopted family is all passed too. She has no one left in the world except for her son and her brother."

"How fitting that she was burdened with such a monstrous brother. She's no better than that creature she calls a brother." Akito spat. "I thought Hatori's work was flawless. How did she remember everything?"

"It was his father that erased her memories all those years ago. Hatori suspects that because it was such a large part of her past that had been sealed away, when she returned to her hometown and began working at Ayame's shop, it was only a matter of time before the dam broke." Shigure explained.

"Well make him put it back! Bring Hatori now!" Akito all but yelled at him.

"Hatori already told me that he doesn't think it will work a second time. Once it's been undone, there's no putting it back." Shigure was doing a good job of keeping his own emotions in check, but knew he needed to leave now before that changed. He decided to deal one final blow before he left. Standing, he said, "I have a previous engagement I must be getting to. I'll send Hatori in for you."

"Where are you going?" Akito yelled at his retreating back.

"I have a date with Kyomi and her son. We are having dinner." He lied as he slid the door shut behind him. He heard a thunk as something hit the door. He walked away with an undoubtedly evil smile on his face having completed his goal for the visit.

Later in the week, Kyomi and Luc were walking home from Hatori's clinic after an appointment. They were taking a different route home that took them past one of their favorite places to stop for dinner, but it also takes them past Kazuma's dojo. As they were walking past, Kazuma's last class of the day was letting out. As the stream of students passed, Kunimitsu followed the last student out the door waving. Luc ripped his hand out of Kyomi's and ran for the dojo assistant. "Kusu!"

Kunimitsu hopped down the steps and grabbed Luc before he could run off anywhere else. "Luc! Where is your mother? Are you supposed to run off by yourself?" He had just finished asking that when Kyomi came jogging up the path after him.

"Kunimitsu-san! I'm so sorry! He just ran off on me. He's never done that before." Kyomi apologized.

"No problem. I hope you both are doing well." He said as he put the boy down so he could go back to his mother. Instead, the boy ran straight through the open doors to the dojo behind Kunimitsu. Kyomi and Kunimitsu just looked at each other shaking their heads and laughing, then followed the boy inside.

"Kyo is still here so Luc might be looking for him. I heard they all met." Kunimitsu said as he followed the sounds of giggles and padding baby feet.

"We have been well, and he's probably just exploring everything knowing my son." Kyomi said. Her brother and son hadn't really had a chance to bond so she wasn't sure Kyo was her son's goal.

Peals of deep belly laughter rang out from a room ahead of them and they followed it further into the building. They came to Kazuma's office where Kyomi had met with him before and the sight she saw warmed her heart. Luc had found both Kyo and Kazuma. The father and son had Luc cornered between them and they were tickling him every time Luc tried to run past him. Kunimitsu nodded to Kyomi who thanked him quietly as he left, before turning back to the boys. Laughter rang out from the oldest and youngest as Kazuma swung Luc up in the air and then into his arms and tickled his side. Kyo was the first to spot his sister in the doorway.

"Hey, we found someone who belongs to you. He's fast." Kyo said as he straightened.

"Yes, he is! We were just walking to dinner and he saw Kunimitsu outside and bolted. He doesn't normally do that except around people he really likes." Kyomi said with a smile. "I'm sorry if we are interrupting anything."

"Nah, I was just heading home. Tohru said they would wait dinner for me so I gotta go. I can walk you home if you want." Kyo said as he walked up to his sister.

"No, thank you though." Kyomi said smiling. "We were just going to the café around the corner."

"It's no problem. I don't mind you know." Kyo said a little embarrassed.

"No, we will be alright. Plus you can't keep Tohru waiting." Kyomi teased, wearing a smile that looked way too much like Shigure's for Kyo's liking.

"Well fine then. Walk yourself, see if I care! I'll see you later." Kyo said walking away with his cheeks red.

Kyomi covered her mouth with her hand to keep from laughing too loudly. Kazuma cleared his throat forcefully next to her still holding her son.

"I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist. He makes it way too easy to tease him when he reacts that way. I just can't help it." Kyomi let out a little laughter since she thought her brother was now out of ear shot.

"I don't blame you at all. It seems to be a favorite pastime of Kunimitsu's as well." Kazuma smiled settling Luc on his shoulder. "I was actually going out for dinner myself. I can walk you if you would like." He offered cordially.

"If you're already going out, I would enjoy the company, but I'm not sure we are going the same direction." She said hesitantly. She knew for a fact the café was in the opposite direction of Shigure's house, but wasn't sure where Kazuma was planning on going.

He smiled at her. "I frequent several places nearby. I've been told I'm hopeless in the kitchen and that no one likes to eat charcoal so I tend to eat out if I want something besides packaged meals." Kazuma quipped.

Kyomi laughed at the mental picture of her brother as a child trying to eat burnt meals. "I'm guessing Kyo wasn't a fan of your cooking?" She asked.

"Definitely not. He learned to cook some simple things early on to help, but Kunimitsu was a big help as well. I was effectively banned from the kitchen." Kazuma said.

"Well, it makes sense then that you would know the restaurants around here very well then." Kyomi said with a grin.

"Oh yes, quite well." Kazuma said meeting her eyes. He noticed that her smile was actually reaching her eyes now. When they had met before, she had been so reserved and nervous. Even when she smiled, it had been such a sad smile. He had known as she told him her story, he never would have denied her request to met her brother. "How are you and Kyo doing?" He asked curious since the boy hadn't told him anything.

"Good I think. He's called a few times. Had a project on the United States that I helped him with. He had some questions about the state I lived in. I was also just out at Shigure's last week." She hesitated about what exactly to tell him. "I had a hard day and Kyo dropped off a few things for me. Shigure had told him to, but he still did it. I went out to thank them all." She finished.

Kazuma felt there was more to that story by the way she was acting, but didn't want to pry if she didn't feel comfortable sharing. "If you don't mind waiting a few minutes, I'll change and walk you to where you need to go. You can show Luc the dojo room where we practice if you want." Kazuma offered. "Just be careful because there are a few sharp things in there."

"That would be perfect. Thank you." Kyomi smiled and took her son from Kazuma's shoulders.

Luc was singing Baby Shark as he ran laps around the main room of the dojo when Kazuma came in. Kyomi had sat down and was just watching her son with a smile on her face as he ran. When she saw Kazuma walk in, she stood up and started to call for Luc. Kazuma beat her to it and swung up back up onto his shoulder as Luc had run past. Squeals came from the toddler as he swung up so high. Kyomi smiled at their camaraderie. "All ready to eat?" She asked as she walked up to the two.

"I'm ready if you are." Kazuma didn't put Luc down as they walked out the door and down the path.

Unbeknownst to them, Kyo had forgotten a book for class and had doubled back to the dojo to get it. He saw the three leave the dojo and walk down the street in the opposite direction. What's going on there? Why did she not let me walk her but she let Master? Kyo was very confused by the turn of events, but surprisingly not upset. It almost made him a little happy that they were getting on so well. If they have each other by graduation then when I'm… He stopped himself from that train of thought, scratched his head in frustration, and stormed up the path to the dojo to get his book before heading back home.

When Kazuma, Kyomi, and Luc got to the diner, Kazuma laughed. "This is actually where I was planning on eating as well. Why don't we just sit together?" He offered looking down at the woman next to him who shrugged.

"Sure, saves them a table too." She said giving him a small smile. Kazuma put Luc down from his shoulder as Kyomi opened the door for them. They were seated as soon as they walked in. They both were fairly frequent customers so the waitress working knew them both.

"Hello! Would you like your usuals today?" The waitress said with a smile. Kyomi and Kazuma looked at each other a little shocked that the other had a 'usual' as well. They both affirmed their orders and the waitress walked away with a knowing grin on her face.

"Koba-san!" She said to the chef, "You know those two people who I said I should seat together? They just came in together on their own!" She whisper-yelled at her co-worker.

"Saito-chan, you really need to stop the match making. You're going to run all our customers away." He said exasperated at her scheming.

"I didn't do anything this time! They did it themselves!" She replied as she glanced at the couple in conversation.

The two in question continued talking through their meal discussing many things from favorites to old stories from childhood. They included Luc in the conversation when he showed interest, otherwise the little boy was happy to focus on eating his meal.

Towards the end of their meal, Kazuma felt comfortable asking the question he hadn't earlier.

"So what really happened earlier this week that made you have such a bad day. I feel like there's more to that story." Kazuma asked as he took a drink of his tea.

Kyomi became serious and dropped her smile as she thought about how to answer the question without earning his sympathy. Realizing there wasn't a way to do so, she plunged into the explanation.

"It was both my wedding anniversary and the anniversary of my husband's death that day. Shigure told Kyo to bring me some things like ice cream, chocolate, and tissues to help me through the day." She replied taking another bite of her rice.

"I'm so sorry. I had no idea." Kazuma couldn't believe both things had happened on the same day. "How long has it been?"

"Two years now, right after Luc was born. The day wasn't completely terrible though. I finally played the piano again after five years. That felt good even if it hurt my wrists." Kyomi ended with a bit of a grimace.

"Why did it hurt your wrists?"

"I have carpel tunnel. I went to the doctor for it today and Hatori is getting some braces made for them. I'll have to sleep in them. I can just see it now. Giving myself a concussion because I've whacked myself in the head with them." At Kazuma's confused face, she explained, "They will have metal bars in them to hold my wrists immobile. I've had this issue for nearly a decade and I still don't know why sleeping in these things works, but it definitely helps." She shrugged.

"I didn't know you played an instrument. When did you start learning?" Kazuma asked. He had told her the story of him learning his craft at a young age so he figured it was only fair that she tell hers.

"I started learning when I was about eight. Hatori's parents always had it playing in their house and I decided I loved the sound and begging my mother for lessons. We couldn't afford it outside of school, but our music teacher at the elementary school decided to have me stay after class once a week for some private "tutoring" she called it. She taught me until I moved to the middle school. Course when I was adopted, it took me awhile to find that I could play again since I'd had that memory suppressed, but that came back easily. I did have to learn English before I could really play though. My adopted parents were music enthusiasts as well so all the kids were taking lessons as well. When I got into high school I decided I wanted to make that my career so I got my degree in music education as well. In piano and voice, but I actually learned to play several instruments on a very basic level. I learned viola, cello, bassoon, oboe, flute, clarinet, saxophone, harp, guitar, and tons of different percussion instruments." She paused with a sad smile. "That's also where I met Sean. College, I mean. We had the same major so we had a lot of the same classes."

"After all that time, how did it feel to play again?" Kazuma asked, curious. He figured the pain and memories surrounding her musical past were what kept her from it and that she had finally felt like she had come to a place where she could face them.

Kyomi sent him a bright smile. "It felt amazing. It sounded terrible since it's been so long. The fingers do get out of shape just like every other body part. So much of my muscle memory is gone. I was able to play some songs I've known since high school pretty well though."

"I've never heard anyone play in person before." Kazuma said. He decided to change the subject to a topic that unfortunately was not as uplifting. "Kyo just started his second year of high school not long ago. Have you heard of what the plans are for after his graduation?" Kazuma trusted her well enough now that she needed to know.

Kyomi's face hardened. "I've been made aware yes. You know what that place is like." She looked him dead in the eyes. "If I have to take him and run back to the States, I will do it. I do not want him put through that." Her voice had dropped in pitch and volume to the point where Kazuma could barely hear her but he understood nonetheless.

"I agree and I would let you. I am hoping for a different outcome however and I would appreciate that plan be kept on hold for now." Kazuma was seriously considering letting them run if nothing changed by then. "We do still have almost two years before drastic measures need to be taken." Kazuma reached across the table and covered her hand with his. "Thank you for caring so much for my son and your brother. He needs you in his life."

Kyomi had tears come to her eyes at the sincerity she saw in his eyes. She turned her hand over and squeezed his. "Thank you for having faith in me when we first met. If you hadn't I wasn't going to allow myself to met him. I've never wanted to cause him more pain."

"Mama! Down! All done!" Luc interrupted them and made Kyomi jump. She laughed at herself and got a napkin to clean her son's hands before they left. Her and Kazuma had been done eating for a little while and had just been waiting on the slow eating toddler. Kazuma helped her clean up the small mess left by the toddler and as they exited the building swung the boy back onto his shoulder earning loud laughter right in his ear.

"I'll walk you home if that's alright." Kazuma offered, looking at the short woman next to him.

"I'd be very thankful." She responded with a smile up at him, feeling odd that she didn't want to leave his company yet.

They made the short walk to her home and Kazuma set Luc down as Kyomi unlocked her door. Luc barreled inside to play with his cars and Lucy before bed. He started running the cars up and down the dog's spine which she rewarded by attacking his face with kisses. Luc's laughter rang out once again.

Kyomi just smiled and shook her head from the doorway. She looked back at the tall man next to her.

"Thank you again for everything. I am glad we agree about my brother as well. That future is the last thing I want for him." Kyomi said vehemently.

"It's never been my intention to let that future come to pass. I am relieved to have an accomplice in this though. I've not been sure who I can really trust." Kazuma said truthfully. "Every one of the Zodiac members seems to be unable to defy anything the family head says, even Kyo though he's seen and treated as the outcast."

"It's been that way since he was born. The family head seems to have an otherworldly power over them all. I've always hated it for them. None of them want to be in that situation but have no clue as to how to change it. Maybe the more heads we have, the more progress we can make." She said just as Luc started crying because his car wouldn't go down the ramp he had just torn apart. Kyomi smiled ruefully at Kazuma who stepped back out of the doorway.

"I'll take that as my cue to leave. I hope to see you both again soon. Thank you again." He waved as he started heading back down the walkway from her apartment. Kyomi returned the wave and watched him leave before shutting the door and going to get her already dry eyed son ready for bed.

Gotta change it to romance now. Oh well! I wondered if it would take me there and it has! Let me know what you think! If you see the story going a different way, let me know your thoughts:)