Fruits Basket Fan Fiction ❯ Seasons of Sorrow ❯ Memories of Spring = Revelations ( Chapter 15 )

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

DISCLAIMER: Someday Takaya-sensei will have an epiphany and realize the mistake of keeping this treasure all to herself…legally anyway. If only…
Memories of Spring
`Does this teacher actually think we're listening?' he mused as he twiddled a pen in his fingers. The teacher droned endlessly on and on while the whole class was impatient for the school day to be over.
Yet, he paid it no mind as he felt a light wind caressing his face ever so gently that came from the open windows. Spring was beautiful this time of year, and it brought forth the heavenly scent of blossoms in the cool breeze.
He breathed it all in and closed his eyes in contentment. He then caught a different scent than from before and felt chills up and down his arm. His eyes snapped wide open, and he saw that he wasn't where he was before.
All around was an endless field of spring blossoms under a bright blue, cloudless sky. Then he glanced over to his right and saw the huge tree he last remembered from his dreams.
`Wait a minute! What am I doing here? Where did the classroom go to? Argh, I fell asleep again!' It was then that he caught a glimpse of the girl that was so familiar to him.
`Freaky. Might as well play along since the class was boring anyway.' Shaking his head at this, he grimly thought, `Great, I'm finally losing my mind…or what's left of it from the looks of things.'
Letting out a sigh, he ran up to her, and he saw that she was once again sitting down, petting something in her hands. She then looked up and gave him a wide smile.
“Ohayo! You've come back! I told KoKo here that you were coming back!” she exclaimed as she stood up and shoved whatever she was petting into his arms. She then ran off into the field, with both arms spread out into the breeze. She slowly started to twirl around while gazing at the sky above her.
He could finally see her fully for the first time with no shadows obscuring her. As she started to turn around slowly, he saw that her manner of dress was very traditional but unusual. Not many can wear what appeared to be a fancy kimono in the way she wears it. The robe itself was a deep purple tone with pink sakura blossoms on thin branches spread across the hem and reaching up to one side of the robe; then the sleeves themselves were a soft lilac. It was slender from the shoulder and flared out towards the wrists; the fabric was very extensive here with blossoms flecked across the largest part of the fabric near the hem. The centerpiece of her outfit, though, was in her obi. She had a beautiful stitching of a bird on a tree branch to the side of the obi. It went well with the overall effect of the outfit. She looked, in a word, exquisite.
But why was she wearing something so out of the ordinary…so out of place? What was more unusual was that he didn't seem to be fazed by it…almost like he expected her to be wearing this.
“Hey, what are you doing?” he asked quizzically as he approached her.
“Relaxing, silly, what else?” she chided gently as she continued twirling around and around. She had her eyes closed to the sky, and a serene smile graced her face as she breathed in and out deeply.
Eyeing her strangely, he remarked, “This is relaxing? And what's with the costume?”
Giggling but still doing the same thing as before, she replied, “How quickly we forget, ne? And I thought I was your best friend! I guess it's to be expected…it's been a while since I saw you last.” Letting out a soft sigh, she stopped and gazed at him affectionately.
“Well, I thought that by wearing this dress that you'd relax a bit when you visit me.” She giggled softly. “You were such a nervous wreck last time around! Anyway, since this was a gift from you (twirls around)—see, even has your favorite colors—I only wear it on special occasions. And this is a very special occasion if I do say so myself!” she replied cheerily as she reached over to take his arm. She looked up at him and asked, “Don't you agree?”
“Hmph,” was his one-worded reply. He couldn't help but give her a small smile. Why did he find himself that he couldn't disagree with her? He then noted in her eyes something that wasn't there before. Worry. “Hey, what's the matter?”
“Eh?” she asked with a confused look.
“You can't hide it from me. Spill,” he replied as he stood his ground waiting for her to speak. `I don't know how or why, but I can read her like a book. Must be a dream thing.'
“Hehe, I guess best friends do read each other pretty well!” she replied merrily. Letting out another soft sigh, she turned around and started to walk away a little, then started up her twirling again. “It's really nothing. Just a little out of sorts lately. I'm sure that when I speak to them, all will be well. In the meantime, this helps to let my mind be at ease…to be free as the sky above me.”
Now it was his turn to look confused. `Them who?' Before he had a chance to voice this out loud, he felt the creature he was holding trying to escape his grasp. As he looked down, his eyes widened. Fear started going through his body in waves, and just when he thought he'd pass out, he heard her chiding the creature gently.
“Now, now, KoKo, your pal is around here somewhere,” she remarked as she eyed the creature he was holding. She then glanced at him and asked with concern in her voice, “Daijoubu? You look a little pale.”
“What…how…” he stammered as he tried to force the question from his lips. With that, the creature flew from his grasp running off and disappeared among the blossoms.
“Calm down. You don't want to be hyperventilating. KoKo just went to look for his friend, that's all,” she replied in a soothing tone while holding his hands in her own. Just then she let out a soft groan. “Oh bother. Well, maybe we can talk some more a little later. I'm sure you'll feel lots better then!” she replied with a wide smile.
“What? Why?” he asked in a panicked voice.
“Ring, ring!” she replied as she pointed one finger to the sky.
“No, please wait!” he yelled out.
Thus another school day came to a close. One less day of homework, one less day of their high school career.
Knowing these facts gave many of the graduating seniors a little spring in their step. But to others, particularly the Student Council and its President, it was anything but a spring in their step. It was more like running around, zipping through crowded halls, and attending meetings in such frenzy. With the theme park trip now behind them, here they are, two weeks and many migraines later. In final preparations for their Class Dance event plus the Graduation Ceremony, the once laid back council members were all busy getting final arrangements made, from party decorations to food to bouquets for the ceremony.
`Tylenol sounds really good right about now…' was Yuki's trailing thought as he dragged himself to his footlocker. Dodging his hormone-raging female fans and fighting with the caterers about their festive event was anything but pretty and left Yuki with a pulsing headache.
“Yun-Yun! Oh great Yun-Yun, please come by Room A2…Room A2 please,” called out Kimi from the student council over the loudspeaker. Yuki still cringed at this nickname they gave him, but he cringed even more upon hearing the commotion in the background over the loudspeaker. Apparently, they weren't done yet with the announcement.
“Give me that Kimi, that's not right! President, we're here in Room B5,” called out another, unidentifiable at the time…maybe Nao.
“Doofus, that's on the other side of the building! It's Room A2, Yun-Yun, A2,” replied Kimi stiffly as the battle over the mic could be heard over the loudspeaker.
“Room B5!”
“I swear you guys can't do anything right by yourselves!” remarked Kakeru, annoyed over their argument. “Yuki Sohma may go home. That is all.” (CLICK!)
Yuki had actually long ago tuned them out as he prepared to leave the grounds. He was grateful that most of the student body had already left the school grounds and didn't hear that whole commotion. He was about to track them down, but he remembered Kakeru's adamant orders to stay away for the rest of the day.
Orders…from Kakeru. He'd never think that the day would come that he'd fall so low that Kakeru would be ordering him around. Yet, that's exactly what happened. Yuki was so wound up from all his responsibilities, it was really putting a strain on him mentally, but it also started affecting him physically. Kakeru had to actually scold Yuki for being careless at times, catching him having small asthma attacks when no one was around, and on that day, Yuki was all but passing out in the bathroom.
It's no wonder that Kakeru ordered him to take off and leave the rest to him. He was actually becoming more responsible for many things that Yuki was supposed to do. Yuki had been feeling rather guilty over this and thus tried to hide his fatigue from him, but Kakeru always managed to relieve him of some of the burden.
Still, Yuki was pretty much against leaving, however Kakeru blackmailed him big time, threatening to tell Haru of Yuki's recent breathing problems despite the stronger medication Yuki was taking. It irked Yuki to no end, but he then saw how much Kakeru was actually worried about him, so, reluctantly he relented and left school earlier than anticipated. What is he to do with the free time he suddenly had?
`I could go home, but Tohru was going over with Kyo to Shihan's place today,' thought Yuki, sighing heavily. `And just being alone at the house with Shigure will only make my headache worse…that or I just might send the baka to the hospital,' he thought sullenly while strapping on his gear and heading out the school gates.
The thought suddenly came to him on what he had wanted to do for a few days now. He wouldn't have thought it fathomable that one day he wanted to do this, but here he was, contemplating on just that.
He actually wanted to pay a visit to Akito. Wanting to pay a visit to Akito without being told to. Yep, willingly visit Akito. Seeing Akito with no threat over his head. Talking to Akito without actually being ordered to.
`I must be delusional from the medication. That or this `blood bond' between the Jyuunishi and `god' really has a hold on me,' thought Yuki with a shake of his head. Pausing to reflect on that, he smiled wryly to himself, `Who am I trying to kid?'
He may have admitted to himself that he did want (there's that word again) to go visit Akito, but it didn't mean he understood why. Why, why…why? That question frustrated him more than anything. Ever since last week's visit with Akito, he has been on edge, thus the more than usual stressful week he's been having.
It really hadn't even been a `visit' per se. One minute he was in bed, sound asleep, and the next he was…well, he wasn't where he was supposed to be. Anything between those moments were just fragments in his memory—that's thanks to his half-awake state he was in the whole time it all happened...
“Yuki-kun, wake up!” was the ardent whisper heard in the stillness of the night.
An audible groan is heard as a hand very tentatively is stretched out to nudge the sleeping teen awake. Anyone residing in the house knew that the act itself required great courage—Kyo even feared it.
Nudging Yuki to wake up obviously didn't work as the teen continued in his deep slumber.
Soft steps are heard approaching Yuki's door. “Why aren't you waking him up?! I need to take him now, not tomorrow!” was Hatori's fervent whisper as he saw Shigure standing by Yuki's bed.
Shigure was shocked to say the least when Hatori suddenly appeared at his house in the middle of the night, demanding to take Yuki with him back to the Main House. It was Hatori's expression on his face plus the tone in his voice that led Shigure to believe that Hatori was panicking. Very unusual.
Whispering back to Hatori calmly, Shigure replied, “I've tried waking him up…it's not working. Are you absolutely sure this can't wait until tomorrow? We are literally risking ourselves here—Yuki-kun can send anyone of us flying out the window when he's jerked awake, and then the other two will wake up, and I don't even want to know how to explain how you're kidnapping Yuki-kun…”
With a soft sigh of frustration and ignoring Shigure's rambling, Hatori strode over to Yuki's bedside and sat down gently on his bed.
“Haa-san, I wasn't kidding about Yuki-kun's reactions when he's half-asleep…even Kyo-kun knows better,” warned Shigure softly.
Once again ignoring the inu at his side, Hatori stared down at the slumbering teen. Exhaling softly, Hatori gently held Yuki's face in his hands and slightly caressed his face. He then called out firmly but softly, “Yuki, wake up. I need you to open your eyes and wake up right now. Wake up.”
With a moan, Yuki slurred his reply in his sleep, “…don't want to. Don't…want… Too…too…early…” With that, he tried rolling over to his side, but Hatori held him firmly in place.
“I know it is early, and I know you are tired. But you must wake up right now and come with me. Wake up, Yuki…please,” was Hatori's soft yet firm reply.
Yuki pried open an eye and let out a series of yawns as he tried focusing on Hatori by the light of his nightlight. With half-lidded eyes he whispered, “Why (yawn) are you here? (Yawn) Can this…wait…(yawn)…until later…?”
“No, I need you to come with me right now. Let me help you get up,” whispered Hatori quietly as he pulled Yuki upright in bed.
(Moaning, yawning) “Hmmm…” let out Yuki as he felt Hatori's arms around him, dragging him to the door and then down the hallway. Yuki felt like such dead weight on his feet and was stumbling with trying to walk. If Hatori hadn't been there holding him up, he would have met the floor face first.
Upon coming to the stairwell, Hatori could tell Yuki was not about to make it down the steps in this state. So bracing himself, Hatori swept Yuki into his arms and carried him the rest of the way down the stairs. Yuki was still groaning and yawning away, completely unaware of what's going on.
“Haa-san, wait. Cover him with this blanket…you don't want him to catch a chill,” replied Shigure while he wrapped a light blanket around Yuki.
“Go open the car door in the back,” was Hatori's request as he continued to carry Yuki out the doorway into the dark of the night. The air was rather nippy up here at Shigure's place.
Shigure opened the door wide as Hatori came forward and leaned in to settle Yuki in the backseat. After adjusting the blanket around him, Hatori shut the car door quietly and came around to the driver's side and got in.
“Haa-san, are you sure you don't need me to come along?” replied Shigure worriedly. It's not everyday he had one of his relatives `kidnapped' to visit Akito of all people in the middle of the night. Not to mention that it would usually be Shigure summoned in the middle of the night by Akito.
“No, not now. I'll call you later on,” was Hatori's hurried remark. Turning the engine on, he pulled out of the clearing in front of the house quietly, and he quickly drove out of the wooded area.
Shigure hoped all was well, but was extremely curious as to what was going on—he hated not knowing what was going on with Akito. With a sigh, he tucked his hands in his yukata and went back into the house. Since no answers would be forthcoming for a while, he'd just have to be patient and await Hatori's call.
Going into the house, Shigure didn't notice the set of red-orange eyes that gazed into the night, seeing all the midnight activity occurring at the house.
Yuki recalled little of the car ride and opted to just doze off some more during the ride back to the Main House. Upon arriving, Yuki felt Hatori's hand shaking him awake again.
“No…I'm tired,” pleaded Yuki sleepily as he curled himself into a ball.
`This is getting me nowhere,' thought Hatori with frustration. Bracing himself once again, he pulled Yuki up (praying the whole time) and brought him to his feet.
Once they started stumbling along the path to Akito's home, Yuki started to become a little more aware of his surroundings, but at the same time, brushed it all off as some very vivid dream he was having. With that thought in mind, Yuki let himself completely go in Hatori's arms. Hatori nearly fell upon the sudden weight change, and with a defeated sigh, carried Yuki once again all the way to Akito's chambers.
Upon entering, Hatori could see that Kureno had his hands full with a hyperventilating Akito. Considering the `episode' Akito just had an hour ago, this was a lot easier to take care of.
Kureno looked up to see the two new visitors and placed Akito back against the pillows on the futon. He hurried over and saw that Yuki was half-asleep in Hatori's arms. “Let me take him from here…please check on Akito,” requested Kureno quietly as he took Yuki into his arms and held him while Hatori looked Akito over.
At feeling Hatori's presence, Akito forced one eye open then the other. Blinking to focus on the visitors in her room, she recognized Yuki in Kureno's arms. Shoving Hatori to the side, she got up and quickly went over to Kureno. “Yuki! What happened to him…what did you do to him?!” replied angrily the clan head as she whirled on her heels to face the doctor.
“Calm down, Akito. Your heart rate is still through the roof…if you lie back down here, I'll tell you everything. Please,” pleaded the doctor as he guided Akito back in bed.
Akito seemed to be having another dizzy spell just then as she wavered in her stance. So she allowed herself to be settled back into bed with Hatori's help. Now in bed, she demanded, “Speak.”
“Nothing is the matter, Akito,” replied Hatori calmly, while continuing to run a brief checkup of her vitals. “Yuki's just a very heavy sleeper. I've tried waking him up, but he's completely exhausted. You know how it is, Akito.”
Akito remained pensive while gazing at Yuki still half-asleep in Kureno's arms, every so often letting out some incoherent mumbling and yawning. When Hatori was done and putting away his supplies, Akito remarked, “He's well then. Yes?”
“Akito, see for yourself, he's sleeping away, more or less. He's all right, Akito…he's fine,” was Kureno's reassurances. Kureno came closer and kneeled in front of Akito so that she may see clearly that it was no lie…Yuki was indeed fine.
Staring at Yuki intently through her bangs, Akito remained silent. Exhaling shakily, she replied with finality, “Leave Yuki here. You both leave.”
With widening eyes, both were about to protest for multiple reasons. Akito needed to rest from this latest anxiety attack. And Yuki…how would he react when he woke up in Akito's bed? However, both were immediately silenced upon seeing their `god's' strong gaze, daring them to defy her in any way. With a defeated look, Kureno laid out Yuki next to Akito on her futon. He then covered him up with another blanket, and at the same time settled the blankets around Akito as well.
“Stop fussing, Kureno. Leave us be,” replied Akito irritably while she tucked Yuki in further. Upon seeing them leave, she turned to Yuki and lightly caressed his face, tucking his hair behind his ear very gently. After which she gently whispered into his ear, “The curse will continue, my little nezumi…my very precious nezumi. Always.”
Yuki for a moment opened his eyes and saw Akito up close. Still feeling that he was in a dream (a really weird one), he yawned one more time before settling in to let sleep claim him once more.
Upon hearing his breathing even out in slumber, Akito carefully snuggled closer to Yuki and kissed him lightly on his forehead. She continued to stare at him until sleep, too, finally claimed her.
(End flashback)
Yuki could still feel the shivers up his spine when he awoke the next morning to come face to face with a sleeping Akito. He almost felt his eyes bulge out of his head when it dawned on him that he was not in his room or in Shigure's house. Thankfully, Kureno had been nearby and came over when he noticed Yuki was fully awake (a first for Yuki).
Kureno quietly explained what had transpired the previous evening (Hatori had given him the other details), from Akito's sudden nightmare that woke up half of the house to Yuki ending up in Akito's bedroom when it was demanded.
Yuki was in shock at first, but slowly it all came together for him. He remembered numbly how Kureno carefully helped him out of bed and took him to a different room, all the while not making a sound so as not to wake Akito. Yuki only had his pajamas on, so he had to use some clothing that Akito had set aside for him for just in case. He ate some breakfast that was laid out for him, and afterward, he took his medication (Hatori had remembered to bring it the night before). Kureno had offered to give him a ride back to Shigure's place, but Yuki declined. Yuki could clearly see that Kureno hadn't slept much, and he didn't want to bother Kureno with a ride back home.
Yuki dwelt on this last fact…Kureno had seemed more than just fatigued when Yuki looked into his eyes. It sort of mirrored what he saw in his supposed `dream' from the previous night. When he last saw Akito before he went back to sleep, he saw in her eyes something he had never thought possible.
With the past being what it was between Akito and himself, it was little wonder that he was so utterly confused. From Kureno he could understand—Yuki knows that Kureno considers him as a friend and was probably worried about him being bothered with these problems. That's understandable, but not from Akito.
How many times had Akito reiterated that Yuki was inferior…so unworthy to be even thought of? So unworthy that Yuki deserved to be locked away because of his inferiority to others? How Akito made sure that Yuki felt his lowliness to his `god'—to make him feel as worthless as a common rat in an alley. Just recalling those moments saddened Yuki.
`No, things are different now,' thought Yuki with conviction as he shook his head of these memories. `So different from how it was before—really different. I suppose alternate realities do exist,' he mused to himself while he maneuvered in and out of crowds on his way to the Main House.
He still has to pinch himself at times to be reminded that Akito really hasn't been aggressive or demeaning towards him in ages. As true as that may be, Yuki still felt apprehensive of the situation in general. He feared that the Akito he knew well, that still lurks somewhere in the dark recesses of his mind, would one day, out of the blue, resurface again in his life.
Yes, to continue the sadistic `game' of how much will it take to break the spirit of the Rat…to break him. Maybe that was all this was…just another sick, twisted diversion that Akito wanted to pull as her last `hoorah' at a so-called life. Reflecting on this, Yuki could think her capable of it…just not able. After all, she's practically knocking on death's door with each passing day.
`Perfect, now I've become a cynic, not to mention morbid,' thought Yuki as his head drooped in self-pity. `Really morbid.' He frowned on this idea. `But that's not how I am…Tohru-san has taught me as much that I'm not like that. Okay, think positive, then, think positive,' thought Yuki resolutely to himself.
`Hmmm, all right, thinking positively may be stretching it a little. I'm not like Tohru-san, but still…' Thinking back on it, for starters, he should give Akito the benefit of the doubt and believe that she is capable of worrying over him.
Him. Strangely, he felt a little elated at this thought, but quickly squished the idea out of his mind. `That's absurd…Akito actually caring so much as to worry about me. No, she must be worried about something else, not me.' He could never be capable of eliciting such a feeling from Akito of all people. Still, it didn't explain why Akito demanded that he be brought to her in the middle of the night just because of a bad dream. Isn't that Shigure's job?
`I wonder what kind of dream it was…for her to have been actually worried, it must really had been a bad one, especially if half the house heard her,' thought Yuki pensively. Bringing his hands over his head and breathing out heavily, he wondered if Kureno had any suspicions about what's going on with Akito in general. Her behavior, her nightmares…her behavior, her quirks…her behavior…
`Arrghhh, this is exactly why I just left the matter alone...I always end up with a migraine if I think about it too much,' was Yuki's aggravated thought as he tried to soothe his pulsing temple. Letting out a groan, he reflected, `I should just be grateful that after so much has happened, it's getting better being around Akito.'
Thus brought him back to his original question. Why? (Sigh) `Why do I always question the good things that happen to me?' reprimanded Yuki to himself. As he let his mind wander, he realized his answer was rather simple.
`I don't think I could handle going back to how it was before,' admitted Yuki to himself while wrapping his arms around his body. `I'm actually starting to let my guard down completely around her. I'm just so tired of being afraid that the worst is yet to come…of always being on guard. Whatever `this' is, blood bond or not, I don't want it to end. I just don't.'
Upon acknowledging this openly to himself, Yuki made up his mind as he approached the secluded entrance to Akito's half of the estate.
`If this is some kind of sick game of hers, for better or for worse, I'm staying put to finish this game. I'm not going to run away Akito—not anymore.' With that resolve in mind, he carefully unlocked the gate and entered into the grounds of Akito's home.
`Kyo-kun! Tohru-kun! How wonderful to have the two of you here!” cried out Kagura as she ran up to the two visitors to Kazuma's dojo. It seemed that she was there practicing if her uniform and hair up in a ponytail were any clue.
Kyo braced himself for Kagura's `death' hugs, but he suddenly remembered that Kagura doesn't do that anymore. True enough, she halted in her steps once she reached Tohru. Kagura then hugged Tohru and gave a wide smile to Kyo instead.
“Welcome Kyo-san, Tohru-san,” Ritsu softly replied. “I was happy to know that you'd be coming by today. I just arrived myself to watch Kagura practice for her matches in the tournament. Will you be practicing as well, Kyo-san?”
Kyo still was not used to the fact that Kagura would end up dating someone like Ritsu. It defied all known laws of logic…not to mention anyone with common sense could tell that they were complete opposites. At least, Kyo thought so. Well, as long as he didn't get beaten to a bloody pulp, and Ritsu was no longer running around apologizing to the world, it suited him fine he supposed.
In reply to Ritsu, Kyo remarked, “Yeah, I need to get some training done today. Is Shishou around? I brought Tohru since she's been wanting to visit.”
“Oh, yeah, he's over in one of the other dojos. He's with Kunimatsu—hey, let's all go over and say hi!” suggested Kagura happily as she led Tohru away to the dojo.
“Ano, are you sure we won't be interfering with anything, Kagura-san?” questioned Tohru worriedly, hoping not to be a burden to Kazuma.
“Of course not! Don't worry about a thing…we all need a break, anyway! Too much work and no play can make anyone a dull person, ne?” exclaimed Kagura as she continued dragging Tohru along the way.
“Hey, hold up Kagura!” cried out Kyo as he started to quicken his pace to catch up with the girls. Ritsu merely smiled and took his time following her.
Sure enough, Kazuma and his assistant welcomed the break. After having their tea (for health reasons, Kyo made it), they all chatted about the upcoming tournament. It would be the biggest event their dojo would be participating in, and they were determined in defending their school's reputation.
Tohru looked glumly down in her cup. She, unfortunately, could not go…any tickets to be had were reserved for elite guests only, like head members of the family and such. Or you could be part of the many scouts in the area from universities across the world that will be keeping a close eye on those that make their mark in the tournament. Either way, Tohru didn't fit anywhere remotely related to these two groups. She'd just have to wait and find out about the results when they called her later on.
Kazuma had been staring at Tohru the whole while, knowing what was going through her mind. `I'm so mean. I better give her the good news,' smiled Kazuma.
“Tohru-san, I've been wanting to know if you would do a big favor for me,” asked Kazuma with a widening smile.
“Yes, anything, Shishou-san! Whatever you need!” exclaimed Tohru eagerly.
`Always willing to help.' Clearing his throat, Kazuma continued, “Well, so many of us in the staff will be preoccupied at the tournament with other matters that no one can take pictures of the event. I want to have good memories of this with all my students, so if you would be so kind as to be my official photographer, I would greatly appreciate it.”
Tohru was all but bursting with joy at hearing this. She didn't even realize that she almost did that when she hugged Kazuma vigorously. Blushing red when she realized this, she immediately sat back down with her hands clasped together nervously.
Laughing whole-heartedly, Kazuma replied, “It's all right Tohru-san. Don't be embarrassed…I take it from your reaction that it's a `yes' then?”
“Yes! I mean…thank you so very much for offering this to me. I'm sure there are plenty of people other than myself that can do this for you…are you sure you don't mind me doing it?” asked Tohru nervously as she wrung her hands together on her lap.
“You'll be fine out there…don't worry about the rest,” replied Kyo assuredly. Giving her a smile, he continued, “You'll be the best photographer no matter what.”
If Tohru thought she couldn't blush any redder, she was wrong. She felt her cheeks go immediately hot while Kagura gave her a knowing smile. Kazuma caught this too and was about to put his two cents worth into this, but one glare from Kyo shut him up quick.
“Then it's settled. I'll get you your pass tomorrow and you can come by with Kyo for it. Is that all right with you?” asked Kazuma.
“Of course…whatever is easiest for you, Shishou-san. Thank you so much!” exclaimed Tohru with joy written all over her face.
“Which reminds me, Tohru-kun, how are your lessons with Kyo-kun going?” asked Kagura brightly while chewing on some snacks.
“Oh, wonderful, thank you! I believe I have most of the exercises down just right. I just have to keep practicing!” Tohru replied happily.
“Well, if that's the case, do you want to test your skills with me? I won't try anything difficult on you…just want to be sure that Kyo-kun is teaching you right!” teased Kagura as she glanced over to Kyo.
“Hey, I'm a great teacher! Unlike someone I know that will beat up her students just because they can't keep up!” retorted Kyo with a sneer.
“They were slacking off! Anyway, Tohru-kun, I would never be that hard on you! Besides, it's no use if you practice all the time by yourself without a sparring partner. Kyo-kun can't do that for obvious reasons,” reasoned Kagura.
“She's right, Kyo,” remarked Kunimatsu. “Kagura, why don't you use the dojo over at the other end from here? It's currently free. You know where the spare uniforms are at.”
“Thanks, Kunimatsu! Ready, Tohru-kun?” asked Kagura cheerily.
“Oh, but I don't want to be a bother! If you were busy with your own exercises, I don't want to keep you from it!” exclaimed Tohru worriedly.
“Pish-posh! I've practiced enough! Let's get going!” replied Kagura with a wide smile while leading Tohru to the other dojo.
“Hey! Stop dragging her off like some new toy!” exclaimed Kyo.
“Relax, Kyo. We need to get back to working out some details for the tournament, but come by afterward so we can have dinner together, okay?” requested Kazuma as he and his assistant leave.
(Sigh) “Sure, fine. Come on Ritsu, let's see what your other half is doing to Tohru,” remarked Kyo. Ritsu chuckled as he followed Kyo out.
Upon arriving, they saw Tohru already dressed with a spare uniform and starting her practices with Kagura. Kyo decided to sit and watch the two before he started his own exercises. He felt himself immediately relaxing upon gazing at Tohru. He smiled seeing her cute look of determination across her face as she tried to defend herself against Kagura.
“You're giving me an opening, Tohru-kun. Try guessing where it could be,” instructed Kagura as she stood in her stance, ready to strike at Tohru.
“Um…let's see,” replied Tohru as she tried to locate the opening. Going off her mental checklist, she blinked in surprise when she noticed her mistake and immediately corrected it. “Arigatou, Kagura-san.”
“Good. Now the real fun begins!” called out Kagura as she lunged at Tohru.
The male audience was impressed with the girls' form of both defense and offense. It was pretty clear that Kagura held back much of her `bite', but she also guided Tohru to make the right moves when necessary. Overall, Tohru learned a lot from Kyo.
“You're doing great! Don't you think so, Ri-chan?” asked Kagura happily as they took a break.
“Absolutely! I'm very impressed Tohru-san…you must have practiced a lot,” remarked Ritsu with glowing approval.
“Oh, please, thank Kyo-kun for all this. He was so patient in teaching me…I could never had done it without him,” remarked Tohru bashfully. “Right, Kyo-kun?”
It was then she noticed that he had not been hearing their conversation. Instead, his eyes held the look of being miles away from where they were. “Ano, Kyo-kun, is everything all right? You look a little pale,” replied Tohru with concern.
“Eh?” replied Kyo with a start as he realized all eyes on him. “I was just thinking about something else. What were you asking me?”
“Nothing really. Are you sure you're all right?” pressed Tohru.
“Yeah, why not? You better get started on your workout again. I'll start mine out, too. We don't have much time before dinner—I'm not about to let Shishou cook for us,” replied Kyo as he got up to change into his outfit.
“Oh, we're staying for dinner? Then I better call Shigure-san and let him know that he and Yuki-kun can heat up the leftovers from yesterday,” replied Tohru as she made her way to the door to find a phone.
“Don't worry about it. They know we're here…as stupid as they are, they can take care of themselves. Go on with Kagura. I'll be out in a few,” remarked Kyo as he headed to the changing rooms.
“Okay, we'll be waiting,” she replied as she turned back to Kagura and Ritsu. She was a bit shocked to see the two of them in a warm embrace—apparently, Ritsu did not care that Kagura was perspiring. Tohru looked at them with a soft smile, wistfully wondering when she'd be able to hold onto someone like that.
Feeling her gaze, both looked up and broke apart post haste with a nice blush across their faces. “Um, Tohru-kun, lets relax a bit before Kyo-kun comes back out, okay?” replied Kagura hurriedly as she dragged Tohru to the middle of the dojo. Ritsu was still blushing but smiled at Kagura affectionately as he sat back down.
Both girls stood a little apart as they stretched some more. “Hey, Tohru-kun. Do you know who you're going out with for the big dance?” asked Kagura slyly.
“Um, actually we all planned to go out as a group. It saves from having to worry about being in couples. Besides, Yuki-kun won't be able to have a date since he will be too busy with taking care of the whole event. It just didn't seem right to try to find someone else to pair up with when he's working so hard in making this event a success. Hopefully he'll have time to spend it with us,” replied Tohru longingly. Changing moods, she replied excitedly, “But it'll be great to be with Uo-chan and Hana-chan. Even Kyo-kun decided to join our group, and I think I heard correctly that Hatsuharu-kun and Momiji-kun would be coming, too! It's going to be wonderful.”
`That'll be interesting,' mused Kagura to herself. “I hope it all turns out well for you and the others! Be sure to take lots of pictures, okay? By the way, what are you wearing?” was the inevitable question that Kagura asked.
“It's a simple navy blue sequin dress…it's really pretty. I think you may have seen it already at Ayame-san's shop. It was so hard to choose but Uo-chan and Hana-chan helped me out. What I'm worried about is our masks. I'm not sure if mine is coming out right,” replied Tohru with slight concern.
“Oh, yeah, that's right. Yun-chan mentioned that at this dance the seniors would be wearing masks,” remarked Kagura in retrospect.
“Hai, as a way of thanking our generous hosts for providing the facility free of charge and in honor of the prestigious location, all the seniors will be wearing a mask depicting an animal from the Chinese Zodiac,” further clarified Tohru.
“Hm, well, it's easy to figure out what Yun-chan and Kyo-kun will be wearing. So, which sign of the Zodiac will you hide behind? I can make two good recommendations,” replied Kagura with a wide grin.
“I thought that wearing the mask of the Zodiac animal I was born under, the dog, would be a way of thanking Shigure-san for everything he's done for me since I can't get him a proper going away present. With leaving the house right after Graduation, I'm a little pressed for money,” remarked Tohru with a bittersweet smile. “I know it's not much, but when I told him of my choice, he was so happy, his face lit up the whole room. But then right after, Shigure-san had mentioned since I was wearing the mask of the dog that I should take him as my date to the Class Dance. Shigure-san said we'd go out all night and rent a hotel room for more drinks and dance some more and have more drinks...”
Pausing as if recalling that moment in time, she continued with a confused look. “Funny, he never finished telling me what else we could do since Kyo-kun sent him flying through the front door and started choking him.”
Kagura sweat-dropped at the naivety of her friend, but then again, that's why they all loved her. Tohru's simple innocence amazed everyone she came in contact with. “Well, anyway, at least you'll look marvelous in your dress! You know if you need help with getting your mask put together, just let me know…I'll be glad to help! I am an expert in handicraft projects!”
“Arigatou, Kagura-san! And I'll be sure to take lots of pictures for everybody to see!” replied Tohru gladly. Seeing that Kyo was taking a little while longer, Tohru decided to step out for some fresh air. “Let's go outside, Kagura-san…it's too beautiful outside to be indoors!”
“Sure! Come on, Ri-chan!” replied Kagura merrily as they followed Tohru outside to the grassy clearing next to the dojo. Once outside, Kagura did some stretch exercises and was about to instruct Tohru to do the same. Kagura's words left her as she stared quizzically at Tohru. `What was she doing?'
“Um, Tohru-kun, what are you doing?” asked the boar curiously. Even Ritsu looked at her inquisitively as both boar and monkey regarded the brown-haired beauty.
Tohru paused for a moment and giggled softly at their reactions. She then continued with her task and responded to their questions with a peaceful air, “It's okay, I'm just relaxing.”
It was to this scene that Kyo walked in on. He felt all the color drain from his face as he felt a coldness emanating not from the cool spring breeze but from deep within his very being. He felt his pupils constrict in his eyes as he struggled to breathe, the feeling of déjà vu completely overwhelming his senses.
`This is impossible…this can't be!' thought Kyo in shock.
Yet, that's how he found Tohru, in complete and utter bliss, oblivious to the turmoil Kyo was going through. She continued twirling round and round with her arms stretched out on either side of her, beautiful eyes closed to the world as she breathed in and out deeply. Her serene face was graced with a soft smile and lifted to the sky high above her.
This may have sufficed to completely unnerve Kyo, but what Tohru said next completely stilled his pounding heart.
As she slowed down, she opened her eyes to stare at the bright blue sky that stared right back at her. Tohru replied softly, “This really is the best way to free your mind…free to the open sky.”
Edited by: Seiren-no-Kaze 02-23-07
Author's Rise from the Dead (10-26-04):
Well, maybe not that bad…
(Tearfully crying on her keyboard.) Why???!!! Why me???!!!! Did I anger the hardware man in some way that I can't even get a wall adapter for this stupid laptop?! (BAWLING on keyboard some more.)
(Sniffles) Okay, I feel a little better. FOCUS H'kat!
Yes ma'am! Now back to your regularly scheduled program…
While my hardware issues are being resolved, I'm putting in some extra effort in getting this story polished up and moving along. Lots of grunt work, but the story will appear much better for it. (For more details, see profile page.)
Replies to my reviewers!!!!!!!
Pika318 (anonymous): Thanks for letting me know that the story is turning out just like I had hoped! It's good to know that my story still holds the mystery and drama…it's hard to keep it that way!
Jackie (anonymous): I'm glad you found the last chapter hilarious! I really didn't know how I was going to handle those three…they're tough to control! Letting them loose at each other was so much fun. Glad you're picking up the small hints here and there…you're right, you know!
AnimeFreekVee52: I think I did, too (been years since my senior year!) - she was rather frank about putting you in your place and how no one can escape her since she taught nearly all English classes for both day, night, and summer! She even taught at a local college—yikes! Big hug to you for your devoted reviews!
Post remarks for the story are as follows: WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!
So much is being discovered, but at the same time, it's shrouded with even more questions. I'm pretty sure many guessed the person dreaming up the visuals. That's why I implied the revelation, amongst others, instead of stating it. It works out better in my opinion. Confusion will abound for our lovable characters on this particular roller-coaster ride—hopefully, I don't lose you!
Love the Kagura/Ritsu moment…you also see a little jealousy from our caring onigiri. More details supplied on the Dance event and such…hopefully, I didn't butcher the honorifics too much. Remember, corrections are always appreciated!
Our dear Yuki, what else can possibly happen to him? PLENTY! Have I said this before…can't remember… Anyway, we go into his mind a little more in this chapter—hope everyone agrees that he's one pensive guy. He has much to doubt and he knows this…his private musings are just the tip of his iceberg that he'd built over the years. We'll be chiseling this away as the story progresses.
Oh, Akito…how could you? You're giving our precious nezumi migraines…he doesn't need this! I don't either… Akito can truly be an enigma, can't she? At least she's not tormenting him directly…more like indirectly now…poor Yuki just can't get a break!
Musical moments: Yuki's reverie on Akito was a classic moment for the song “Foolish Games” performed by Jewel. The exact words aren't applicable to Yuki's situation, but the main idea behind the song is that the individual is either knowingly or unknowingly hurting the person's feelings of self-worth. Akito mutilated Yuki's self-worth beyond recognition years ago, yet somehow, Yuki rose above this tragic circumstance and is now coming to terms with it. Both Yuki and Akito have a ways to go on this aspect…
Well, that's it for now. I always love reading your reviews, and I hope to read many more. Not that I deserve them or anything…it's just nice to read. They keep me from falling into the well-known abyss called “Writer's Block” or worse yet, the “Give `Em Up” fic list in which many stories are started but never finished. I really can't do that to you guys…especially since I'm getting to the really good parts of the story!
Take care and I hope to post like usual. We'll have to wait and see (I'm harassing the hardware man as we speak)—ja ne!