Fruits Basket Fan Fiction ❯ Seasons of Sorrow ❯ Winter's Tears of Hope = Tears Continue to Fall ( Chapter 7 )

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

DISCLAIMER: `Dear Takaya-sensei, if you would be so kind as to give me Fruity B. it is much appreciated. Thank you, H'kat!'
I think she said no.
Special Note: This chapter is long…much longer than the others. I'm sorry but I didn't want to split the flow of thought and emotion riding on this story. Hope you have the time to read it!
Winter's Tears of Hope
Tears Continue to Fall
Stomping his feet on the porch to relieve the familiar tingling of sleepy limbs, Kureno looked out at the wintry atmosphere and breathed out heavily, a steady stream of his breath seen clearly in the cold air. He knew the colder weather and its temperatures would only dip lower as the day drew to a close.
`That would be a problem considering Akito's delicate condition…'
He let his shoulders droop as he ran his hands through his hair. All other days in the past seemed like a walk in the park compared to that morning. Never had he felt such fear from the clan head, not even at the prospect of her death, than when she went through her rampage. He couldn't help but wonder what Akito had meant by her mystifying comment. Although brief, it had unnerved him to no end (and that says a lot for someone who controls himself so well). So many questions, and practically no answers were forthcoming to the bird of the Zodiac.
He only hoped that by the time Yuki arrived, Akito would have calmed down. Hatori was already inside with her, taking care of Akito's scrapes while he waited for Yuki at a secluded entrance by the house Akito resided in. It was one that he used himself whenever he had to privately run errands for the unhealthy clan head.
He looked up to the clear, deep blue sky, and he closed his eyes as he let his tired face bathe in the sunlight. He wondered how much longer Yuki was going to take. He knew that the Sohma teen wouldn't ever-so-willingly come over, and it was a risk that he had taken to actually call Yuki instead of paging him as he normally did. But given the situation, he had had no choice in the matter—he now only worried that Yuki may be taking his time in getting there, which would only agitate Akito further.
He began to recall that the distance from Shigure's place to the Honke is no small trip, least of all in the snow. He had only been there once and that was only when he was there to purchase the entire property for Akito years ago, which later was passed on to Shigure when he moved out. Maybe he should have offered to pick Yuki up even if it was a little risky.
He turned suddenly upon finally hearing the gate unlock from the outside (Yuki had been given a key), and he looked up to see the Rat of the Zodiac walking in and then locking the gate behind him. He could clearly see how tired Yuki was—he must have had a very tough time lately (that and the long walk). It visibly showed in the way he walked over and looked up to him standing on the porch.
Apprehensively, Yuki stood before the porch and swallowed while trying to gather his thoughts. Wringing his cold hands together, he opened his mouth to speak, but Kureno spoke up first.
“Today she may not notice it, but you should really be mindful in how you take care of yourself,” Kureno quietly advised Yuki.
Yuki blinked in surprise at Kureno's rather direct comment and subconsciously brought his hand to his face, wondering how bad he seemed. He must be a sight if the quiet man made it a point to advise him of it. He didn't have much time to ponder on that idea, though, as Kureno started to walk away.
“Don't bother removing your shoes. Please come quickly,” came the soft request from the Bird as he went inside with his own shoes on.
Yuki was puzzled and even more apprehensive than before, but he quickly went up the steps and into the house. It took a few moments for his eyes to adjust to the dark house in contrast to the bright light from outdoors, but he could finally make out the hallway they were in. A good part of him screamed to not go any further, but he forced himself to keep following Kureno. The tall man finally lead him directly into Akito's room, and from within, Yuki could hear Hatori's voice clearly.
“Please Akito, you must return to your bed. Being out there in this weather will do you no good in your current condition…” pleaded Hatori as he glanced over to the two that entered the room.
Hatori arched a brow in Yuki's direction, no doubt seeing the same thing as Kureno did. The nervous Nezumi shyly bowed his head and went further into the room ready to announce his presence when his eyes widened at the sight that surrounded him. He just noticed then that all around the room there was broken glass and debris of every sort. Nothing seemed to have escaped the typhoon that apparently had manifested itself solely in this room.
Yuki quickly took a few steps back to the entrance of the room and tried to calm himself. He squeezed his eyes shut at the scene and crossed his arms against his body, trying to block out the wave of memories that came rushing at him. Blood, shards, scrapes, pain. Pain. Fear. Fear.
Both Hatori and Kureno knew that the youth wasn't going to take this well and were about to do what they could to comfort him, but Akito had already sensed his presence and appeared from the balcony. The doors leading to the balcony were wide open as she stood outside looking in, clearly not paying any heed to Hatori's pleas. Some of her bandages were even swaying in the cold breeze—it seemed that she was already starting to take them off…
“Yuki…” came the cold reply from the clan head.
Yuki automatically snapped his eyes wide open and sharply breathed in as he lifted his head to see the `God' of the Jyuunishi. He saw the exact same gaze that Akito had given to Kureno just a little while ago—it was one he had never seen (and trust him—he's seen a lot of heated gazes before) and hoped that he never would again. He tried swallowing the lump that was now in his throat and could sense the familiar rising panic within his chest. He knew that if he didn't calm down, he could very well have an asthma attack right then and there.
Hatori sensed his cousin's distress and was trying to move towards the frightened Rat when Yuki managed to speak up.
“A-Akito. Gomen nas-sai,” said Yuki as he bowed in apology. He licked his suddenly dry lips as he rushed through his apology, “I was…um…walking through the snow…it was very thick in some areas. I was…I was unable to get here sooner…I'm s-sorry for being late…gomen…”
It had seemed that the Rat had tuned out everyone and everything around him and solely focused on his `God's' intense gaze. Everyone could see the fear that was reflected in Yuki's eyes as he looked at Akito—one could even swear that his rapid heartbeat was loud enough to be heard in the silent room.
Yet, during Yuki's response, Akito's eyes had faded back to their usual serious and piercing manner, no longer holding any hostility. Regarding the youth quietly for a moment (though it seemed like an eternity), she blinked her eyes some to focus on her Nezumi. She had then become disoriented as she started to come to her senses about the state her room was in and how it came to be so. She brought up her hand to her now pulsing head and winced in pain as she tried to shake off the incoming migraine. Suddenly realizing where she was and where Yuki was standing (still at the doorway), she started to shuffle across the glass-ridden floor. Both Hatori and Kureno quickly reached out to prevent her from crossing any further through the shards. They both spoke to her, trying to convince her to remain where she was since she still continued her path to the other side, but it was Yuki's voice that reached the clan head's ears.
“No! Please don't move…I'll come to you,” came Yuki's frantic reply as he crossed the debris with no trouble. Gone was all the tension and fear that Yuki was feeling in waves—it had all turned to sincere concern for Akito's safety.
Some would see it as Yuki's weakness or perhaps borderline stupidity, but to Kureno and Hatori, it was actually his greatest strength. His kindness for everyone was unconditional. It was a gift he freely gave with no prejudice. They always knew of it, and over the years, with Tohru's influence, it became even more apparent. Still, knowing about it and actually seeing it in action are two completely different things, especially when Akito was involved. So it was no surprise that both Kureno and Hatori were flabbergasted at this outburst.
It seemed that they weren't the only ones not used to this side of Yuki. Akito herself seemed to question it as she gazed at her cousin who was now by her side. Her migraine seemed to be ebbing away as he regarded her with concern, letting his eyes look her over to be sure she didn't cut herself when she tried to walk over.
“Daijoubu, Akito?” came Yuki's soft reply. He still looked apprehensive in Akito's eyes, but the morbid fear he had was no more. He was just simply nervous at this point, probably prepping himself mentally in case she reverted to her previous mood.
Akito just closed her eyes and breathed in heavily the air around Yuki, almost as if she was trying to reassure herself that the Nezumi was indeed there. She nodded affirmatively to his posed question and firmly pulled on his wrist. She brought him to the balcony outside while completely oblivious to the other two's presence.
Being pulled by Akito to the bright sunlight, Yuki had to blink a few times again to regain his sight. He had then noticed how cold it was actually getting outside and had wanted to point this out to her.
“Akito, perhaps we should go inside into another room while your room is being cleaned up…” came Yuki's suggestion only to be quickly silenced by Akito.
“Sssshhhh…” Akito said as she placed one bandaged finger to Yuki's lips. She then lowered herself to the floor outside and pulled him down with her. She had him sit down next to her while she leaned into him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. She then brought her head down to Yuki's neck and continuously breathed in his scent, which to her smelled like winter itself.
“Akito?” Yuki asked uncertainly.
Akito once again placed her finger to Yuki's mouth to silence any further comments from him. She visibly relaxed onto his shoulder and brought her head to his chest. She could clearly hear his heartbeat and breathing, steady and strong. With that in mind, she embraced him tighter and let out a long sigh.
Confused. Yes, Yuki could definitely classify himself as such with Akito's arms around him. Not to mention just a little embarrassed since he realized Kureno and Hatori were still looking at them. Seeing that he can't do anything about his current predicament, he decided to wait it out and hoped Akito wouldn't go into her episode again. He began to let his guard down since the other two were nearby—it didn't seem necessary anyway as she was starting to drift off to sleep again, this time more soundly than he had ever seen her before.
At that moment, Yuki and Akito both shared something in common…they were both very tired. He just couldn't keep up his stamina any longer staying alert, and he was just too tired mentally to think about what just happened. He could always think about it later…he always did. So he subconsciously brought his hand up and started stroking Akito's arm while staring off into the Sohma gardens that were visible from his vantage point, taking his mind miles away from all the problems that surrounded them.
While the two were practically drifting off to their own world that was exclusively theirs, Kureno and Hatori were both relieved, in a sense. Kureno was grateful that Akito had reverted back to her usual, peculiar self and hadn't harmed Yuki. For Hatori, although still apprehensive that the clan head was now sitting outside in the cold with Yuki of all people, he was also relieved to see the matter come to a close with no significant injury to anyone.
Both Kureno and Hatori decided to leave them be for now. Of course, this was after Kureno wrapped a blanket around both Yuki and Akito, for which the former was silently grateful—it was getting colder outside. Carefully, as not to wake the clan head, they started cleaning the mess that was everywhere in Akito's room. It was no easy task, and for the time being, they would take the clan head to a different room until the maids could come in and clean every tiny shard that was embedded into the floor and walls.
It was starting to get late by the time they finished, and Hatori was not about to let either Yuki or Akito remain outside for much longer. Kureno had already returned from preparing Akito's other room since he was certain that the clan head was going to sleep soundly the rest of the night. Both went outside to get the two off the cold balcony and back inside.
They then noticed a light humming coming from Yuki. He was so entranced with whatever thought he had in mind that he wasn't aware that they were standing next to him, ready to take Akito and him both inside. It was not a familiar tune to either of them, but before they had a chance to ask Yuki about it, he became startled upon realizing their close presence.
(Gasp) “Oh, you startled me. Are you ready?” Yuki asked innocently, as if asking about the weather. His mind apparently was still a few miles away (a little closer, though) since he started to stare off into the distance again.
Just then, it started to snow again, very lightly, and Yuki looked up to see the snowflakes fall all around him in the darkening skies. He held his hand out and caught one snowflake before it melted away in his palm.
Laughing to himself silently, he smiled half-heartedly, and commented, “Winter's tears will always fall on us wherever we go.”
Neither Kureno nor Hatori knew what that meant, and for the moment, decided to let it pass. First things first—Kureno very carefully pried Akito's arms from around Yuki, and he lifted Akito into his arms as he walked inside to get the clan head to the other room. Yuki was very sore from sitting down in that position for so long that he wasn't able to get up so easily. Hatori, sensing this, helped him get up and back inside. It was then that Hatori could feel Yuki's condition straight through his clothing and was frowning at this discovery.
“I will drive you home. Hatsuharu and the others will need to be picked up soon anyway before it snows harder,” Hatori said while helping Yuki balance himself on his two sore legs.
Yuki, seeing the frown, knew he was in for a lecture—there was no way he was going to get out of this mess. In some morbid sense, he'd prefer to be sitting out there in the cold with Akito than having Hatori lecture him. His lectures somehow always ended up with Yuki having to get a thorough medical checkup thus having more medication prescribed. And another thing he had in common with Akito…he HATED taking his medication—pills, tablets, drops, powders, and shots, whatever…he DESPISED them. In the eyes of the Mouse, those things could even be scary …
Within a few minutes, Kureno had returned and saw Yuki having some trouble standing.
“Daijoubu, Yuki?” Kureno asked with concern.
“Hai, just sore…” replied Yuki as he winced in pain at the cramps he was starting to have.
Kureno went over and took him from Hatori. If one thing he had experience in, it was how to alleviate any kind of pain using very traditional methods (being around Akito kind of makes one an expert in that area). Kureno sat Yuki on a chair that wasn't damaged and rubbed his legs expertly to massage his cramped muscles. The Nezumi pursed his lips together tightly and was breathing a little heavily under Kureno's ministrations.
“Is this better, Yuki?” Kureno asked while he proceeded to do the same to his other leg.
It was indeed very comforting. Kureno can really make a living being a masseuse. “Hai, much better, arigatou,” smiled Yuki weakly as he finally felt his muscles relax.
Kureno returned the smile and softly replied, “Iie, Yuki, I should be thanking you. I am very grateful that you came despite being very tired.” While looking at Yuki with concern in his eyes, he asked him, “You will take care of yourself, right?”
Seeing that much emotion from Kureno struck Yuki hard. He hadn't realized how worried Kureno really was. For the Bird of all people to show such concern for his health…for him… Kureno really did see him as a good friend.
Closing his eyes, Yuki felt, that for the first time in a long while, he was truly wanted.
Opening his eyes and giving Kureno a warm smile, he replied, “Hai, I promise I will take better care of myself.” Even it meant that he'd have to take all the damn medication in the world—he'd do it, if only to see Kureno smile more often.
Hatori had never had a chance to see the two interact before, so it was no wonder that he was completely dumbfounded. Kureno actually showing his emotional side and with his guard completely down at that. Hatori smiled to himself and wondered how Yuki always manages to touch all that come to know him.
`He's so much like Tohru-kun…and he doesn't even realize it. Tohru-kun coming into our lives beyond a doubt brought out his true spirit from his glass shell. I am very thankful, Tohru-kun…very thankful.'
After the impromptu therapy, Yuki and Hatori both bid their good evenings to Kureno and quietly slipped out of the Honke. It seemed that Akito indeed was going to rest for the remainder of the evening.
During the drive back, as predicted, Yuki heard the lecture of the year… he half-listened and the other half was answered with mere nods of the head. He was too tired to really even care, but he gave Hatori the benefit of pretending to listen.
“And cows flew over the moon with the rat on their back…” commented Hatori with an arched brow.
“Mm-hmm…” Yuki absently replied. (Gasp) Yuki blinked and looked over at Hatori. Okay, he was caught off guard on that one…
“Look, Yuki, just promise me that you'll visit me first thing tomorrow morning. Not tomorrow afternoon, not tomorrow evening, not next year, first thing. Otherwise, I will come to your school and perform every conceivable test on you in front of your entire class…understand?” Hatori was not giving any leeway on this matter.
“You don't want to worry anyone else now, do you?” It seemed that Hatori was apparently not above giving Yuki the guilt trip.
“…Hai, I promise, first thing before school,” replied Yuki sleepily as he settled into the car seat more comfortably while taking a quick nap.
Hatori decided to let it go at that and let his cousin get some much-needed rest. Yuki wasn't the only one that would get the lecture tonight—that much he promised to himself.
Upon driving up to the house, he quickly devised a quick but true excuse for Shigure. The shrewd writer could always spot a lie a mile away, and he was an expert in keeping the Dog in line.
Waking Yuki up, he told him to let him speak with Shigure and just to follow along. The drowsy Nezumi just nodded in agreement and both got out of the car and made their way into the house.
“Haa-san, what a lovely surprise to see you with Yuki-kun! I was beginning to wonder why our little Mouse ran off to school on a day such as today,” exclaimed Shigure from the kotatsu. “But truly, Haa-san, you don't visit me anymore…I'm so crushed.”
“Quiet, you hack,” replied Hatori coolly. “You know my time has been tied up…I can't drop everything to come baby-sit you. Yuki, why don't you have something to eat?”
Yuki once again nodded in agreement and headed into the kitchen.
“Where are the others…it's too quiet,” Hatori commented while situating himself around the kotatsu across from Shigure.
“Outside. Snowball fights apparently are still a big hit, you know,” Shigure said brightly. Turning to his cousin, he slyly asked, “Is our dear Akito giving you any grief?”
Hatori merely glanced at him and made no reply. Instead, he turned towards the kitchen and wondered why Yuki hadn't emerged with his food.
Seeing Hatori's questioning glance toward the kitchen, Shigure gave him a smirk and got up to see Yuki in the kitchen. Sure enough, Yuki was just staring at the leftover plate of food and then back at the microwave that Shigure had just gotten as a gift from his editor.
“You know, it won't heat up on the counter,” remarked Shigure with a wide grin. He then looked at Yuki's face and could see that Yuki was vividly recalling the earlier day's events in his mind.
`I can be considered an omen in a kitchen.'
Shigure remembered overhearing this particular comment—whether Yuki admitted it to himself or not, Shigure knew it hurt Yuki to have to say that. Quietly and without any further fanfare, he took Yuki's plate and heated it in the microwave for him.
Yuki snapped out of his trance and looked up to Shigure. He was surprised to say the least and was still half-expecting for Shigure to pull a joke on him. His cousin merely smiled at him softly and patted his head gently.
“Well, here we are my lord, I hope it's to your satisfaction,” Shigure exclaimed as he presented the meal to Yuki. “Please allow me to escort you to the table.” With that, Shigure turned Yuki around and ushered him out of the kitchen while he held the plate up for him. He walked ahead to the table and placed the Nezumi's plate next to Hatori.
“Would our dear Haa-san like some leftovers as well?” asked Shigure in full host mode.
“No, I'm fine, thank you,” replied Hatori as he observed Yuki eating his meal contentedly. It was, after all, made up of his favorite dishes.
“Where are the others?” asked Yuki between mouthfuls of food (he really was hungry at this point).
As if on cue, shouting and laughter were clearly heard from outside—the snowball fight was definitely in full swing.
“Oh, good, they finally emerged from the woods,” said Shigure as he headed towards the window in the kitchen to check on them.
`No wonder we didn't hear them when we got up to the house,' thought Yuki to himself. `Maybe I can finally hang out with Honda-san and the others.' Staring at Hatori, he bowed his head slightly. `Maybe not.'
Hatori knew what went through Yuki's head as he quietly ate his meal. Breathing in heavily, he told Yuki, “If you're going to head outside, finish your meal and dress up WARMLY. That means wearing some kind of hat to cover your head, all right?”
Yuki looked up and smiled brightly, although tiredly. He finished his meal and got up to put the plate away.
“Don't worry about that, Yuki-kun. Just go on before Kyo-kun and Haa-kun finish off fighting each other again. It's no fun watching them without you there,” replied Shigure with a grin.
“Very funny,” Yuki said as he got himself ready to go outside, hat and all.
As he walked outside, Shigure and Hatori both heard squeals of delight from the others. Hatori gave one of his rare smiles, which of course, didn't go unnoticed by the Inu.
“Such a beautiful thing to behold. I can simply imagine my next novel with the title `Smiles of a Dragon'. What do you think, Haa-san?” asked Shigure with sparkles all around him (full inspiration mode).
“Baka,” replied the doctor at this remark from the inspired Inu. Remembering his vow earlier, he began, “I picked Yuki up while he was walking home through the snow (`not completely true but not a lie'). Shigure, it is your responsibility to keep an eye on his health. He looks like he hasn't eaten a bite in days and acts like he's about to collapse at any given minute.”
“Aww, Haa-san is so mean,” cried Shigure with his river of tears.
“I'm having him come by the clinic tomorrow for a thorough checkup. See to it that he has a GOOD meal in the morning before he leaves and every time he enters your door in the evening, got that?” As the Inu shed more tears, Hatori sternly commented, “Stop that…I'm being serious. Also, until further notice, you are not going to have your smokes in the house PERIOD.”
That really brought out the ocean of tears from Shigure. “Haa-saaan,” he cried out, “you're torturing me—it's freezing outside to have a smoke out there! It's not my fault our little Mouse refuses to eat his cheese or look after himself.”
“Stop your whining and it is your fault,” remarked Hatori firmly. “Your responsibility means your fault if something goes wrong under your roof. So help me, Shigure, if I find out that you smoked inside the house or you failed to keep an eye on him from now on, I'll give you a THOROUGH medical examination that the entire writing industry will be given explicit details on.”
“No need to get graphic, Haa-san. I will do all that you command,” replied Shigure, his eyes shining with unshed tears. Seriously turning to the doctor, he dropped his act and asked, “Is Yuki that sick?” Concern was definitely laced in this last remark.
“I don't know. It could just be stress, but he doesn't look well. Really, Shigure, I counted on you to look after him. You know perfectly well that Akito and Yuki both share the same trait of pushing themselves too hard even when their bodies can't take it anymore,” replied Hatori as he looked towards the back where the others, including Yuki, are playing.
Closing his eyes, Shigure, nodded in agreement. “They are two of a kind. Gomen, Haa-san, I didn't mean to let you down. I'll keep a better watch over Yuki.”
Letting out a sigh, Hatori got up to join the others outside since he really needed to smoke—can't be doing that in the house anymore. “I know you will. You coming?”
Shigure knew the Dragon was tired and needed his smoke at the moment. Heck, both of them needed it—it's not often that he'd get a serious scolding from Hatori.
As they both made their way outside, laughter and shouting assaulted their ears. Yuki, Tohru, Kisa, and Hiro were on one side and Haru, Kyo, and Momiji were on the other side. It was obvious who was winning—Yuki had no snow on him save for what's in his hand, and Kyo along with Haru were drenched in snow. Shigure and Hatori stood by smoking under the porch (away from the flying snowballs) as they observed the youths in their play. Both were content to see the Nezumi finally having his day in the sun, even if it was at night.
Yuki himself was thrilled to finally be able to relax and unwind with Tohru and his family. It pleased him greatly to hear everyone's cheer when he came out to the porch (Kyo even gave him a nod of acknowledgement). It seemed that the snow was still lightly falling despite the clearing skies…the stars above shone brighter than ever against the pitch black of a winter's night.
`Funny how things work out in their own time… Even winter's tears…'
Hearts call
Hearts fall
Swallowed in the rain
Who knows
Life grows
Hollow and so vain
Wandering in the winter light
The wicked and the sane
Bear witness to salvation
And life starts over again
`Winter's tears may fall wherever I go, but they're not always tears of despair...' Yuki glanced over to Tohru and caught her soft gaze that she was bestowing on him. He was so astonished he barely dodged a snowball, but he did manage to fall down anyway. He returned her soft gaze and contemplated…
Now the clear sky is all around you
All around
Love's shadow will surround you
All through the night
Star glowing in the twilight
Tell me true
Hope whispers and I will follow
'Til you love me too
`They can also be tears of an undying hope…'
Edited by: Seiren-no-Kaze; HelloKat 02-21-07
Author's Perch:
Yep, another one down and so many more to go! Rather long…sooo sorry! But enjoy…I will need take a break from posting weekly for now until I can get my next few chapters flowing the right way! It won't be too long, rest assured.
A big hello to Natty1066, XDOC Anonymous, and a welcome to my new reviewer AnimeFreakVee52! Thanks so much! Depressed already? Hope you like the spark of life back in Yuki in this chapter. Actually, I'm glad you were feeling sad…not in that sense! However, this and many other things happening will have an impact in the story later on…it is slowly unraveling! So pay attention my good readers and patience!
By the way, the lyrics at the end are from “Winter Light”, performed by Linda Ronstadt, taken from her album of the same name. If you've ever seen The Secret Garden(children's flick but cute!), during the end credits the song is played. Very melodramatic—really sets the mood! I know, H'kat has weird taste!
Anyway, read and review people! My morbid and twisted thoughts are below as usual!
(SOS Chapter 7 Post Remarks - 8/17/04)
Great dramatic moments here, I hope!
I had wanted the Bird of the Zodiac to have some interaction with someone much like himself. Yuki was ideal of course and Kureno is not a heartless person, as many would agree. He does protect himself well on the outside, much like Yuki does, to avoid being harmed. I can definitely see the two being good friends, if given the right circumstances.
Akito is definitely an enigma to many and in this story she's no different. Something's up...what are you hiding my dear Akito?
Musical moments: Well, "Winter Light" is a pretty piece of melodrama...really set my mood when I was finishing up the chappie. If you have a hard time locating the song, let me know!
As stated before, I will hold off updating next week, but I'll be back sooner than you'd think! Ja!