Fruits Basket Fan Fiction ❯ Seasons of Sorrow ❯ Winter's Tears of Hope = Past & Present Hauntings ( Chapter 6 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

DISCLAIMER:Kidnapping the great Takaya-sensei still won't make me the owner…darn it…
Winter's Tears of Hope
Past and Present Hauntings
Chilled by the brisk wind under the afternoon sun, Kureno leaned against one of the columns that held up the porch. The sun shone so brightly on all the snow around the house that it made his eyes wince. On any other given day, he would have called out to his friends and given them something to eat while they flew around him in circles. But, unfortunately, today was definitely not like any other day. His sore muscles were proof of that.
The bird of the Jyuunishi slowly brought his hands up to his eyes and rubbed them, trying to recall that day's events that were strange indeed, even in his opinion…
It had started out like any other normal day, of course, `normal' being a very relative term, especially when the head of the family was involved.
He had been starting his usual routine of going over the family business beforehand and sifting through the paperwork that would require Akito's attention. Then, he would get all the necessary papers ready and place them next to a tray holding Akito's breakfast, he having eaten earlier. Once all was set, he'd then make his way to her room, knocking ever so slightly.
“Akito?” he called softly, knowing that the clan head was awake by that time but he waited until he was given the okay to enter.
“Come in,” Akito called from within—one would really have to strain their hearing in order to hear said remark, but to his well trained ears, it was actually louder than usual.
He walked in quietly and closed the door behind him. He glanced over to the `God' of the Jyuunishi, and he saw that she was, once again, draped over the open window. Hatori would definitely frown upon this, and he wouldn't be pleased in the least if Akito came down with a cold or worse because of it. She wasn't exactly in the best of health recently…
“Akito, your breakfast is ready,” he began. “Would you like for it to be served over here?”
“Wherever is fine,” she said softly from her perch at the window.
Ever so quietly he set up her breakfast while she pulled away from the window, tying her robe tighter around her waist. She slowly walked to where he was and leaned down to sit. Helping her halfway through this daily ritual, he then carefully laid out her utensils and napkin.
“Should I close the window so that your food doesn't get cold?” he asked as he laid the documents to the side.
“It doesn't matter,” was her response as she nibbled the food that was placed in front of her. After he shut the window, he went over to kneel across from her, hands folded neatly on his lap, waiting for her to finish her meal or ask him any questions.
Up until a few years ago, even this `normal' routine wouldn't have occurred. Akito had been so volatile, to say the least, and it was truly a matter of miracles that Kureno found a rhythm to her moods and tactfully went around them.
Not even a handful of people knew of what plagued Akito aside from the curse—she had what was diagnosed to have a split personality disorder that she didn't bother to control, much to Hatori's dismay (in her mind she didn't see the point since she was dying anyway). Due to this being a medical condition, Hatori felt obliged not to reveal this to anyone on the basis of patient confidentiality. Not that people couldn't guess already, but still… Kureno knew that Hatori was not one to talk about the medical conditions about a family member unless the individual told was to treat the ailment personally, as was the case with Yuki's asthma and Shigure's need to know on how to tend to him during an episode.
Over the years, her disorder became more severe and with that Akito's more aggressive personality dominated what little humanity she had. With this, of course, came the infamous mood swings that everyone had unfortunately experienced in one form or another. No one was more familiar with these episodes than Kureno, not even Hatori or Shigure.
And then, just as suddenly her moods would shift from gentle to aggressive in mere nanoseconds, her volatile half was reduced to a low hum (with the occasional outburst). It was interesting how this came to be…
It seemed to have all started months ago when Yuki visited the clan head soon after Akito's surprise visit to his school. However it manifested itself, Kureno never could understand the bond between the `God' and her Rat—it was always something he saw as sacred, untainted even. On this occasion, Kureno was discussing business matters with Akito when Yuki visited. Fortunately, Akito had been in a rather good mood that day, so she allowed Kureno to remain while she talked with Yuki. She had then kindly `recommended' to Yuki that he schedule his visits regularly to the clan head. He was wary of this arrangement, but he immediately agreed upon Akito's `insistence'. If only Yuki knew of Akito's intentions then…
At first, Akito seemed bent on breaking the poor youth's spirit for ever `defying' her. She didn't use the physical approach but the more effective approach—talking to him. She long ago knew the force a few words can have on anyone, especially on Yuki. He bore it well at first, but bit by bit, it was wearing him down. Until one day, after several months had passed, Kureno walked by Akito's room on one of Yuki's visits. Kureno was plainly ordered to stay away whenever Yuki visited, but he hadn't meant to stay very long anyway since he had to pick up a very important document that was in a room next to Akito's room.
“ANSWER ME! (SMASH!)Don't you agree that you're absolutely a BURDEN to those around you?!” yelled Akito at Yuki.
“Akito…” began Yuki ever so quietly that even Kureno had to strain his hearing. “I am…I am a terrible burden to my family. But…I…I am so much more sorry that I am a burden to you. Your burden of the curse is much more than anyone of us could handle, and yet you still carry me on as an additional burden. For that I am truly so very sorry.”
Kureno had made his way out of the adjacent room and stood VERY quietly outside Akito's door. He was so surprised—he had never heard his cousin sound so sad and defeated as he did at that moment, not even in the past when Akito had used physical means against him. He immediately wondered what had transpired between the two before he had arrived or what had happened to Yuki personally to actually say that to Akito just now.
Against his better judgment, he looked into a crack in the doorway that he knew of and held his breath. He could see Yuki, surrounded by shards from a broken vase, kneeling and BOWING ever so lowly to a very stunned Akito who was standing right before him. Never had Kureno seen Akito so stunned and speechless as that moment. The young Nezumi had his arms tucked underneath him as his hands covered his face…Kureno could tell that he was crying at this point.
As if all matters of known logic were thrown out the window that day, Kureno saw Akito kneel down in front of her cousin. Her hair hid her face, so Kureno couldn't tell what expression she held. Ever so slowly, she leaned down amongst the shards, and she reached out with her hands to pull Yuki's head from his hands. Yuki seemed to be hesitating to comply at first, fearful that the clan head was planning on injuring him further. He nonetheless lifted his face and looked up—Kureno saw that he was biting his lip and wringing his hands tightly on his lap as he did so. Yuki's tearful eyes held so much sadness and helplessness than Kureno thought was conceivable. Kureno's own eyes had widened when he saw Akito lean forward and kiss Yuki's eyes as her thumbs wiped his tears away. Akito laid one kiss on top of Yuki's head as she brought it down to her lap. Yuki's eyes had then closed as Akito stroked his head very gently while Yuki laid on his side and pulled his knees to his chest and drifted off to sleep.
All the while Akito stroked his head and not one word was ever said then or afterwards.
Whether it was due to Akito taking the initiative to finally control her disorder or because of her deteriorating health (or both—even Kureno had to guess at this point), it was from then on that he could tell her strong will to change.
She didn't want to take any more medication than she had to, so she allowed Kureno to remain close by when Yuki visited. Kureno was to monitor her, and if she were close to using any kind of force against young Nezumi (either mentally, emotionally, or physically), Kureno would very tactfully bring her around the mood swing. She knew of his ability to do this effectively, so he always remained nearby.
It actually proved more effective than any medication Hatori would have prescribed. Although this `transformation', if one could call it that, hadn't manifested itself to the inner members of the family, they certainly felt the effects of this.
For instance, although confused at Akito's change of behavior, Yuki visibly became more confident around her, and he even allowed himself to let down his guard just a little more each time he visited. He was still apprehensive at certain times around the clan head, but he was clearly trying his best to improve their relationship despite that.
Kureno was grateful to see the positive effects of this particular repaired relationship among the Jyuunishi, although most of them haven't noticed it since no one was expecting it. Although Akito was still rather possessive, he was allowed to have a new liberty—a friendship with Yuki. Since they shared many interests, Yuki would always bring a new book or other material for Kureno's reading. Yuki even included in his school projects any ideas Kureno shared with him whenever they discussed them during their breaks from Akito (this usually happened when she was fatigued and resting).
For whatever reason that Kureno wasn't aware about (and this puzzled him to no end—he practically knew everything about the clan head), Akito had taken great pleasure in Shigure's company often. Kureno couldn't imagine whatever deal Akito and Shigure made long ago to have Yuki stay at Shigure's house and that truly irked Kureno—yes, he can get that way.
Why? Ever since one New Year's Eve banquet when Shigure coldly glared at him, Kureno vowed not to let his guard down around him. He later noticed Shigure giving the same glare to Yuki in a later banquet, so, needless to say, he did not trust the Dog.
Thus Kureno was secretly more relieved than anything to see Akito now limiting her contact with Shigure. Kureno assumed that since she had been having Yuki visiting more often as time pressed on, she didn't desire visits from Shigure as much. Kureno personally didn't miss them. Lately though, he had been giving thought to Yuki's visits and wondered if the reason the Nezumi's visits were kept a secret were because Akito didn't want Shigure to find out.
Breaking from his wandering thoughts, Kureno finally saw that Akito had finished her meal and therefore went to clean it up. She had then started to peruse through the business documents, and asked questions related to them. He answered them all as he took away the dishes and placed them outside in the hallway where one of the servants would pick it up momentarily.
She then placed the documents aside and reminded him to have the piano retuned since it was off-key the last time it was played. Yuki would always play for her whenever he came over, and she wanted to be sure the Nezumi's visits came off perfectly with no problems whatsoever. Kureno nodded in agreement and went to arrange her pillows around the kotatsu since it was getting colder as the day wore on.
After having situated herself, she continued to look through the remainder of the documents. He excused himself to get some more hot tea for the both of them since a lot of business matters needed to be discussed that day.
As he walked into the miniature kitchen nearby, he pondered on the subtle changes from the young clan head. Mainly how she was requesting more of Yuki's presence—almost as if she couldn't get enough of them. There was also a slight desperation surfacing in the once calm façade of her face. It made him wonder if it had anything to do with the recurring nightmares she was having. She never spoke of them, but he knew they were bothering her more and more. As if they weren't bad enough, her health was deteriorating at a faster pace compared to prior years. Yet, she did not complain at all—in fact, it almost seemed as if she were willing the curse to consume her faster.
A lot of other little things added to his concern. Clearing his thoughts, he quickly filled the teapot and took the tea set over to Akito's room. That's when he happened to overhear the young clan head talking to herself…
No, this will not come to pass,” Akito said vehemently, yet softly, to apparently no one.
He heard that she was starting to pace back and forth across the room. Knowing that one of her episodes was upon her, he laid the tea set in the hallway and ever so quietly entered the room. It did puzzle he that she would be having these at all anymore…she hadn't had a full-blown episode in a while; perhaps she was overdue for one.
Regardless, she was not bothering to even glance in his direction. She was completely in a livid state, so enraged at someone but no one in particular, if that made any sense. She started muttering incoherently again, and he could barely keep up with her `conversation'.
“Mine…all mine…no one will come between us…no oneI will NOT FAIL!!!!!!! She screeched to no one in particular. As she did so, she had grabbed the kotatsu and flipped it over and proceeded to grab anything not bolted to the floor and break it.
He quickly maneuvered around the mess and tried to reach her before she managed to hurt herself. She just kept on breaking vases and mirrors while screaming the whole time.
“NO ONE IS GOING TO LEAVE…NO ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (CRASH!)
He was dodging flying glass mirrors and broken vase shards on the floor (wandering around in only his socks, this was proving rather dangerous) as he tried grabbing a hold of Akito, who now seemed bent on throwing everything at him directly.
He finally managed to grab a hold of her long robe and pulled the clan head quickly to him, embracing her tightly. She fought every step of the way and kept screeching that she be released to drive `them' away. She started to claw into his arms while he tried to soothe her quietly. He noted that this episode was very different from previous ones. If he didn't know any better, he felt certain that the clan head was very much afraid at the moment and retaliated against this fear the best way she knew how.
He couldn't imagine what fear possessed Akito at the moment, but he finally felt her reacting to his soothing touches and slowly relax in his embrace. Her heartbeat was still beating rapidly, and she was breathing very heavily against his chest. Finally, he managed to carry her over to her futon which somehow managed to escape the onslaught. He laid her gingerly on it so he may survey any damage the clan head inadvertently came across during her rampage. Thankfully, only a few scratches and cuts on her hands and feet, but just to be sure, he will summon Hatori to take a look at her. He was about to dial the doctor's number when suddenly Akito's hand held the phone down.
“Get me Yuki NOW,” came the command, cool and clear from the clan head.
He glanced over to her and was trying to find a way to `protest'. He was after all supposed to keep Yuki safe from these moments that plagued `God', but one look into the steel blue eyes of the clan head and he knew it was no mere order she just gave. Her eyes held such determination and strong will that Kureno knew that any negative reply to her request would only instigate a further relapse of her episode. There was no power on this side of the world that will go against such a gaze as she just gave him.
“Hai, Akito, at once,” he replied softly as he got off the futon and made his way to the door. His own emotions were beginning to swirl in his head, but he was careful to mind the debris that littered the floor. He made a mental note to himself to get a hold of Hatori after calling Yuki so that he can more or less distract the distraught clan head while he waited for arrival of the Nezumi.
It was then that he heard Akito mumble to herself as he closed the door behind him.
She had vehemently whispered to herself as she drifted off to sleep due to her exhaustion, “The curse can't end—it can't happen. I won't let it come to pass. I won't.
Edited by: Seiren-no-Kaze; HelloKat02-20-07
Author's Hilltop:

Thank you readers and reviewers...yeah, baby!  One more review from our Anonymous XDOC--your words are so appreciated.  I do try to keep them in character. A big hello to my previous reviewer, Natty1066!
On that note, I hope you didn't find this chapter too out of sorts.  There is a reason for everything, especially Akito's behavior, so stay tuned for future chapters.
Please let me know your thoughts as I have let you know my thoughts—just page down!  You know the drill!
(SOS Chapter 6 Post Remarks - 8/10/04)
All right, I'm ready to get my shotgun. What is up with this website? Editing the story is starting to require that I perform miracles just to make the layout look fine. Then I couldn't even log on to post sooner...yeesh...
Enough whining, H'Kat! Okay, on to the story! Did I leave you hanging...what's up with Akito? Is she loosing her merry little mind? Walls never speak and neither will I! (Evil grin.) Don't worry though—all will be explained in future chapters! Akito's behavior and nightmares will all come together, not to mention her little `outbursts'. I feel sorry for Kureno...
Yuki crying...damn you Akito! Okay, maybe it wasn't all her fault for once...but why the defeated look, Yuki? What happened to you? I'm not telling...yet.
I also started taking a few liberties here. It shouldn't impact the way the characters carry themselves…it's my hope that it will only further contribute to their character, not take away (I'm referring to Yuki knowing how to play the piano—I can definitely see him doing this).
Musical moments: Plenty. I've noticed I'm very into using the themes that carry the piano music. This instrument is very melodramatic and can convey so much in just a few notes. So my selection will be: Watermarkand “One by One”, both by Enya; The Lighthousefrom the movie soundtrack, Casper(betcha didn't see that one coming!). Yes peoples, I'm weird and proud--these are just suggestions...listen to whatever sets the mood for you!
I left it hanging there because the story was getting sooo long! Hopefully you'll stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of `Winter's Tears of Hope'! Ja ne!