Sin thought it was odd that they called the occasion "tea time" given that the only person who actually had tea during it was Ky, and that it mainly comprised of idle catch-up talk rather than focusing on the act of drinking tea itself.
Ky, (well, dad, but it was still difficult to get used to calling him that) had explained that the appeal of it was that it allowed the mind to focus on simpler things. He could take his mind off of pressing matters and instead take in the taste of warm tea on his lips, or let himself admire the castle's grand gardens with all of its beautifully preserved botanical sights, or whenever Sin's other dad was over, the conversation at hand.
In other words, boring things. Dreadfully boring things that Sin no longer wanted to listen to, except there was no real way to back out because he was the one who signed up for this in the first place.
It had been like killing two birds with one stone — spending time with Ky meant that any remaining traces of awkwardness would've eventually dissipated, and hopefully he'd have gotten to hear some seriously cool stories about his parents' various attempts over the years to turn each other into bits of char.
But so far, all he'd been hearing were various political things Ky had been involved in, and plans that his parents had going forward for the future and ughhhhhhhhhhhh.
Sin gave out a heavily exaggerated sigh and let himself slide down the chair a little in despair.
"Ah, apologies Sin. I should've known this kind of talk wouldn't interest you," Ky said, a sympathetic smile on his face. It's still a little weird for Sin to hear Ky's over-politeness considering the other major influence in his life appeared to be practically allergic to it. He shook his head.
"It's okay! I know it's difficult for you since you hang around a bunch of boring old people all day anyway." He was half-expecting the little corner creases of Ky's mouth to at least turn up in amusement, but they don't move at all. Instead, Ky let out a hum of acknowledgement.
"If it makes things easier, perhaps we should talk about a topic that you are familiar with as well."
Oh. He hadn't actually expected to be included in seeing as he was already preparing to mentally sit this one out for another hour give or take, but since the opportunity had been presented to him, why not?
"I mean yeah, sure! Anything you have in mind?"
"Well," Ky started, except after a few moments it became apparent he'd hit a mental roadblock with the way his hold on his teacup suddenly stiffened, and it took Sin far, far too long to realise why it felt as if the room's temperature had dialled up a notch.
By the time he'd thought of a topic, Ky was already attempting to drag Sol into the conversation in an attempt to salvage it.
"—Actually, you guys don't need to switch subject for me. I don't feel like talking much anyway," Sin quickly interjected, trying to smooth out the situation out with a smile of his own. "Hey, maybe I could try some of what you're having instead? I've never had tea before."
It's true that Sin doesn't exactly know much about Ky, but judging from all the intricately-designed teacups he had found in a cupboard during one curious look through the castle, the man had to be an established tea connoisseur of some sort. And since they were related by blood and Sin considered himself to have excellent taste, he assumed his father would too.
That seemed to be the right thing to say based on the way Ky's eyes were practically sparkling with delight. "Of course. But are you sure? I'm well aware this may not exactly appeal to your tastes."
Many things in life have not exactly appealed to Sin. The prospect of being kicked around by the old man, for instance, was something that he was never going to look forward to. Or the prospect of being chained to a tree. Or the prospect of being on a leash. Or—
Okay, so basically anything Sol made him do. Regardless the point was that Sin was used to trying weird things out, and whatever Ky was going to throw at him, it really couldn't be that bad. Besides, the cup Ky had chosen looked super nice with all the lovely little lilies embellished onto the side of it.
Or at least that's what he would've still thought if he was not currently getting an extremely judgemental, "you're-definitely-going-to-regret-this" glare from across the table. But as much as he wanted to listen to Sol, he'd already accepted his fate and was being handed said cup, and Ky had such a hopeful, expectant look to him that it was kind of too late to back out now.
"You don't need to drink it straight away," Ky added as Sin picked up the tea. "It might still be a little too hot."
As if that was a problem. "I'll be fine! I'm a Gear, remember?" Was all he said before proceeding to down the entire thing.
If there's one thing Sin didn’t appreciate, it was getting his tastebuds destroyed. He really should've waited a little longer because the tea was still too hot, and the taste wasn't even sweet enough to make up for the awful burning sensation.
"It's... great," Sin said. Or at least tried to say; it's really hard when your tongue feels like it's been doused with petrol and then set alight. Either way it ended up being a really miserable attempt at reassurance, and caused the more troubled one of his parents to turn to the other in concern.
Sol grit his teeth in irritation. "How the hell is this my fault?"
"I haven't said anything yet."
"Right, but you're looking at me as if I somehow could've prevented the brat burning himself."
"Why, thank you for answering your own question. And if I recall correctly," Ky began, his hand immediately reaching to pull at Sol's sleeve in order to make him sit back down in his chair, "there's still around twenty minutes left of afternoon tea."
Wait, twenty minutes? No way was he staying, that was basically borderline torture.
Thankfully, Sol appeared to have a similar mindset as well. "I'm not sticking around long enough to watch this situation crash and burn."
Ky seemed relatively nonchalant despite Sol's constant attempts to pry his fingers off. "There is no 'situation'. I know the conversation isn't going perhaps as smoothly as it could be, but that can easily be remedied if we give ourselves enough time to adjust to each other's presence."
"So you want me to just sit here for hours, waiting until things magically improve?"
Ky's brows furrowed in disapproval. "I'm unsure if you were aware, but both parties were actively putting in the effort to make things work. I'm sure the process would further speed along if someone else was also helping."
"Um," Sin spoke up, prompting both of them to remember that they weren't actually alone, and that there was another person present who was in fact rather desperate to get out of there. "I'm guessing tea time is over then?"
Whatever Sin was expecting to happen, he could've never predicted the defeated sigh Ky let out as he reluctantly let go of Sol.
"I suppose so. You can leave if you want to."
Well, now he just kind of felt bad about the situation. Whilst it was awkward as all hell, Sin didn't exactly mean for it to just abruptly end altogether considering how relatively okay it had been going before.
But seeing as this was over now, he could always just come back tomorrow and fix things up with Ky, so…
"Alright then!" Sin said decisively, pushing his seat back out a little. "This was fun, but I think I'm gonna go now. See you guys la— ow!" Sin winced at the sudden sharp kick he'd received from under the table. "What the hell old man?!"
Sol rolled his eyes. "Stay here," he said, and left the two to be in silence.
Sin was pretty sure the man had just up and ditched them, leaving him and Ky in a rather tense state (mainly because the latter seemed too deterred given the current circumstances to talk, and found it much more appealing to instead look anywhere that wasn't Sin.)
That was until a few moments later, when he came back and let a very familiar flagpole and sword clatter onto the floor in front of them.
"So, you guys gonna talk it out with your weapons, or what?"
After being on the road for most of his life, the outdoors always brought forth comforting familiarity. Of course, this was rather unsurprising given that Sin had spent most of his life travelling with Sol, and found the palace to be rather restrictive considering he couldn't do any sort of gymnastics without having to worry about breaking some valuable piece of ancient ceramic.
What was surprising to him however, was that Sin hadn’t expected Ky to feel more relaxed outside as well. The sword swings he was making now seemed so light and loose; no trace of any hidden irritation behind them.
On top of that, each movement was surprisingly well-practiced. It's not like Sin's incompetent at fighting, but he certainly sometimes feels that way when he's up against Ky, with each action being so precise and exact like he's got at least a decade's worth of experience.
Which he has, of course. It's just sort of hard to believe when nowadays, all he ever sees Ky do is write. Or read. Perhaps the occasional duel, but even then Ky ends up being very refrained in his actions.
Like now, for instance.
The Magnolia Eclair narrowly missed him as Sin lunged to the side, stepping into a cartwheel halfway through. When he regained his bearings, Ky gave a nod of approval.
"Good. Although, I must inquire in the usage of… whatever that was."
Sin stared in confusion, trying to replay the scene in his mind to get at what Ky was referring to.
“You mean... the cartwheel?”
“If that is what it’s called, then yes.”
Sure, cartwheels weren't exactly standard in fights according to the thousands of combat guides out there, but that's because clearly nobody's utilised them quite as well as Sin has. "What’s wrong with them?"
"They're… no, let me start again. There's more practical methods you can use. If the terrain is rough for instance," Ky started to explain, tapping his foot against the ground for emphasis, "it'll become easier for you to lose your gripping. In the few seconds you lose your sense of balance, that gives your opponent the perfect opportunity to strike your weakest points."
Well, that's never really been a problem before given that whenever him and the old man go on their usual bounty hunts, their opponent usually ends up attempting to run away rather than engage them in any sort of battle. And even then, the most jagged of terrain could easily be flattened after a while once enough explosions have occurred, so—
Apparently he must've said this out loud, because his father looked appalled.
"Please don't tell me your father encourages environmental destruction."
"Not all the time!" Sin insisted, although that did little to console. Instead, Ky turned to glare at the distant figure of Sol, who had been rather content sitting under a tree for the past ten minutes or so doing absolutely nothing.
The figure seemed to realise he was being watched and gave a thumbs-up in response, prompting Ky to shake his head in exasperation.
"Lord... what a man. I really ought to discuss these things with him later. Regardless," Ky brought his attention back to Sin. "Shall we continue?"
As much as he liked doing all this (though to be fair, anything was better than that absolute wreck of a "tea time"), it wasn't really what he had hoped to do. Yeah, these sorts of things meant he could at least get a couple of pokes in with his flagpole, but that's about all he was allowed to do given that this was a training session and not an actual duel where he could go ham and do whatever he wanted.
"D— Ky," Sin brought up curiously, "how long are we going to do this for?"
"Hmm, perhaps for an hour or two. Are you not finding this enjoyable?”
“Well, err." Alright, he was definitely not going to make the same mistake as last time and go along with this just to please Ky. "I think it's fine, but maybe we could just make it a little more exciting?"
“Exciting," the other repeated pensively. "I see. Sol!"
"No no, wait!" Sin called after him, except Ky must've not been able to hear that as he sheathed his sword and strode in Sol's general direction.
Oh man, what were the chances the old man was going to beat him up for making him go through extra work? Even if Sin had no part in this idea, Sol was definitely still going to be pissed off with him. The fact that the distant two voices only seemed to be getting louder in volume and increasingly more agitated did not help this thought.
And then both of his parents turned to him.
Oh. Oh no.
Sin found himself reluctantly walking into the danger zone.
"Could you convince him to join in?" Ky asked him, motioning a hand in Sol's general direction. "I've been trying to explain how a change in sparring partner could potentially liven up the atmosphere, especially considering how close your bond is with each other."
If Sin wanted to live another day, there was only one correct answer.
"I don't think the old man wants to, so let's just continue without him."
Ky turned to him in indignation. "Sin!"
"Look Ky, it's not happening." Sol let himself lean back against the tree. "Sin, just continue how you were before. Except better, cause that earlier performance was shit. Your skills were better when I was letting you fight all those Gears and bandits at the age of one."
"Really? I thought his skills were..." Ky trailed off, before abruptly stopping himself. "Wait a moment, I believe I misheard your last statement. Could you repeat that?"
"You didn't," Sol said, practically writing out his death wish. Out of the corner of his eye, Ky's sword hand seemed to be twitching, and Sin decided that maybe taking a few steps back pre-emptively would be a good idea.
"I must have," Ky insisted. "I know I was not exactly expecting you to raise Sin perfectly, but I am certain you absolutely did not allow Sin to participate in those dangerous activities with you. I cannot believe such a thing."
"Life surprises you," Sol grinned, and that seemed sufficient enough to make Ky snap.
“Sol, he was a child!"
"Yeah, and he still is a kid now, so what difference does it make? You were fine with hacking down Gears when you were a kid."
Ky exhaled, moved his lips in silent prayer, and then drew out his sword.
"Sin," he said rather calmly, "could you stand a few metres back?"
Normally, Sin would have inquired further on this. But judging from the way the air seemed to crackle around his father's sword, and the way his other father seemed to reach for his own sword, he quickly reversed back just in time to witness a charge of lightning collide with flames of fire, resulting in a ginormous dust cloud to swiftly erupt from the impact, blanketing the surrounding area.
By the time the dust had settled and Sin could safely put his hand down from shielding his face, all Sin could hear was the sound of steel ferociously clashing against steel, and he could see one, heavily dishevelled parent lunge for the other.
This was going to be awesome.
There was hardly anything greater in life, Sin had surmised, than having your parents duel it out right in front of you in broad daylight.
From a distance, one could mistake the situation for a rather impressive light show with all the different hues of red and blue flashing about. Which it technically could actually be, except in this case it was a very dangerous and explosive light show with no real audience apart from Sin, who had assigned himself the roles of playing both commentator and referee. And as far as he was aware, he was doing a pretty good job of it.
"The old man goes in for a low slide kick, attempting to knock Ky onto the ground… and just manages to! He sends out a Gun Flame to try and keep him down, but Ky manages to block just in time! And now Ky is..."
Okay, so he doesn't really know what Ky can do, which kind of dampens the whole commentator thing he's got going on, but seeing his father finally in action was so good. There's some bits he's seen before and knows now, like the little Stun Edges he does, but it's nothing compared to the feeling Sin got in his chest when he saw Sol getting smacked down with that cool multi-coloured sword thing Ky can do, especially when he followed it up with that move that's really similar to Sin's—
"Ride The Lightning!"
Oh yeah, that's what it's called.
Another explosion went off. Amidst the smoke and debris, Ky's silhouette appeared to turn to him. If he squinted, Sin could make out a small, humorous smile.
"You know, if you keep pointing out everything your father does, it ends up giving me an unfair advantage."
Sin thought about this for a moment, before re-cupping his hands around his mouth. If only he had a megaphone. That, and some popcorn too, just to truly enhance the experience.
"Not true! If you're not going to appreciate my efforts, I'm going to start helping the old man then!"
Ky shook his head with a sigh, and was just about to respond when a firm hand grasped around his ankle and tugged hard, pulling him flat onto the ground. Within moments he was already attempting to scramble to his feet.
"Need a hand?" Sol offered him with a grin, and before Ky could say anything he was picked up by the collar and thrown onto the ground, hard.
Sin let out the most spectacular whoop as Sol placed a foot onto Ky, the other struggling to get up.
"You could always yield, y'know. Makes this a lot easier for us."
"Nonsense," Ky said rather peacefully given the current circumstances. His hair tie had long fallen off now, letting the blonde locks sprawl across the grass freely.
"Nonsense?" Sol repeated, only to get immediately shot back by a charged lightning bolt. In the time it took for him to recover, Ky was already running at him, his sword ablaze with flicks of electricity.
"Alright, now you're just fucking asking for it." Sol's hands flew up to his limiter, causing Ky to skid to a halt. He held up a hand in protest.
"Wait! How about a truce?"
Sol scoffed. "Why, you scared?"
"I have no reason to be scared, it's not the first time I've faced you in Dragon Install mode after all," Ky explained as Sol paused midway through unbuckling the straps.
"Okay, so what's the issue?"
Ky cleared his throat and stepped out of the way so Sol could make direct eye contact with Sin, who decided it wouldn't be so bad to give a little wave.
"I know you don't exactly believe that a child should be protected from delicate sights, and I know Sin has seen you transform before, but I think it would be wise if you didn't do it in this instance."
Sol considered this briefly. Briefly being the keyword here, because it only took a few seconds for him to decide to keep on undoing the straps.
"Do you want a bed to sleep on tonight or not?" Ky questioned him.
"Wait a minute," Sol said, "where the hell did that come from, you can't just do th—"
"So then, I'm supposing you agree with my suggestion to have a truce?" Ky asked, allowing a little force to come into his voice. Reluctantly, Sol agreed.
"Sure," he grumbled, and finally Sin had the all-clear to run straight into the site of impact and gush about his parents.
He had so many things he wanted to say; he could just spend hours talking about how captivating it was to finally see each jab, dodge and block used in real combat, how pretty it was to see the way their elements melded together after every collision to make those vibrant tinges of violet, about how fascinating it was that his parents were surprisingly so well-synced with one another.
But before he could express all of this, there was something he had to ask first.
"Hey, dad? Oh um, not you old man," Sin couldn't help but feel a slight twinge of embarrassment as he said that. Thankfully Ky didn't seem to notice, or rather he was too occupied trying not to be a little too pleased by the way he had been addressed.
"Yes, Sin? Is something the matter?"
"Ah nah," he said dismissively, "I was just thinking that... so you know that move you did earlier on? That one where you went, 'Ride The Lightning!'?" Sin asked him, and Ky gave a little affirmative nod.
"Well, I've got something similar. Like, really similar, and I was just thinking that maybe you could... y'know."
"Like... practice with me one day?" He suggested, watching as it immediately caused a smile from Ky. He was starting to get used to this look on him now.
"Why, of course we can—"
"Alright, cool! Thanks so much!" Sin cheerfully said, and was just about to turn around and leave when he noticed that Ky had hovered a hand over his head. He paused, letting the hand rest there for a moment as Ky seemed to mentally debate with himself.
And then Sin felt a warm, hesitant touch gently ruffle his hair.
"It'd be my pleasure."
"Hey, old man!"
One of these days, Sin was going to get his hug trajectory just right. Today was not going to be that day however, as he swiftly found himself slamming straight into Sol at top speed (which upon impact, felt like the equivalent of charging headfirst into a brick wall).
"Thanks for doing that for me," Sin beamed up at him, ignoring the fact that the world appeared to be wildly spinning around. "Purposefully getting me out of that training session, I mean. It was on purpose, right?"
It was always going to be amusing to see the first creeps of blush appear upon his father's face. It used to be such a rare sight, but ever since they returned to Illyria it seemed to be happening more and more often.
"Wasn't for your sake," Sol huffed, his voice a little lower than usual. "Just thought your dad deserved to get a bit pissed off."
Sin stuck out his tongue. "Yeah yeah, sure. I know you love me really."
"Keep dreaming, kid."
And it was only then that Sol managed to push Sin away half-heartedly. But judging by the slight grin on his face, Sin would say his dad was aware of that fact too.