Fruits Basket Fan Fiction ❯ Seasons of Sorrow ❯ Memories of Spring = What's Left Unspoken ( Chapter 17 )

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

DISCLAIMER: I would personally kiss the ground Takaya-sensei walks on if only to have Yuki…yep, that'll work for me!
NOTE: Once again, a bit of indiscreet language that's towards the end of the chapter…just a little heads up!
Memories of Spring
What's Left Unspoken
Kyo walked on in silence as Tohru followed along, happily chatting away about her busy day. Ever since Tohru finished up her practice with Kagura, Kyo had little desire to continue on with his own training. He had felt so emotionally drained after seeing what he saw and hearing what Tohru had said so innocently.
Kyo had felt so tense that he rather abruptly suggested to Tohru that they stop early for the day and just get dinner started. Since Kagura and Ritsu were going out to have a private dinner date, they had left already so that Kagura could get ready. Therefore, dinner tonight will just be Kazuma and themselves, so they went off to the nearby store to get the necessary items because Kazuma had zero edible items in the fridge, pantry, etc.
“What do you think about that?” asked Tohru merrily as they rounded a corner.
“Huh?” asked Kyo absently as he stared straight ahead.
“Is there something the matter, Kyo-kun?” asked Tohru worriedly. “You seem distracted ever since we left the dojo.”
“Iie, it's nothing,” Kyo commented curtly. However, when he saw Tohru's downhearted look on her face, he inwardly groaned to himself. He never could keep anything from her, and lately, he'd been feeling that he needed to let her know a lot more than just his troubles…
(Sighs heavily.) “Tohru, have you ever felt that the dreams you have when you doze off mean anything more than what they are?” asked Kyo quietly as he stared blankly ahead.
“Hmmm…well, it would seem strange for our dreams to mean anything more than just dreams. But you know, Kyo-kun, I remember asking Okaa-san the same thing one time,” remarked Tohru wistfully. “She had said that dreams are usually nothing more than our inner minds working overtime to clear our heads of things that aren't important. But sometimes, just sometimes, it could mean something more.”
“Like what?” asked Kyo intrigued.
“Actually, she started creeping me out then that I asked her not to tell me anymore,” laughed Tohru lightly. Letting out a sigh, she continued, “I was scared to know that dreams could mean more than what they are. I mean, how can you tell which ones are which?”
“Sounds reasonable. You never asked her again, huh?” asked Kyo.
Tohru smiled widely as she explained further, “Hehe, Okaa-san always knew how to make me feel better. The very next day she told me that dreams are nothing to be afraid of…only to be expected. Some dreams are good, and sometimes they're not. But dreaming is important to both our mind and bodies.”
“So then, how can you tell which dream is something more than what it is?” pressed Kyo.
“I agree with how Okaa-san explained it…it all depends on who interprets the dream. You or the person you're telling it to. Since most dreams are private and never told to others, you interpretation is the most important. So you'll know which dreams mean more than what they are…after all, they're your dreams,” explained Tohru carefully. Eyeing Kyo warily, she asked, “Are your dreams bothering you, Kyo-kun? If you need to talk about them, I'm here to listen.”
Smiling softly, Kyo responded, “Thanks. It's just that I'm sort of like you…just a little afraid of which dreams could be something more. It's hard to tell sometimes.”
“That's true,” sympathized Tohru. “But one way or the other, dreams bring to light information that you won't consciously think about. Just remember that your dreams can't hurt you. It's your inner mind talking to you in the end, right? Since when does your inner mind ever mean you any harm?”
Seeing Tohru become so wise, just like her mother, amazed Kyo immensely. Her logic was sensible and simple, just like her. It comforted Kyo greatly to know that he had grown so attached to someone who could keep him sane and anchored to what's most important in his life. He hoped this lifeline he's been blessed with is never severed like that of his parents.
“Come on, at this pace the store will be closed by the time we get there,” commented Kyo with a smirk as he reached out to Tohru's hand, taking it into his own and quickened their pace.
Tohru glanced down at their hands clasped together and softly blushed at this. She truly hoped that whatever bothered Kyo would not keep him upset for too long. “Sure, let's hurry!” replied Tohru cheerily as they went into the store.
Hatori's days as of late had all been a little much for the doctor. Having to look after Momiji and Hatsuharu could be a handful on any given day, but add his daily responsibilities as the Sohmas' personal physician, specifically Akito's, and any tip in the balance between these two could overwhelm the dragon.
Thus was Hatori's week so far…the balance was heavily weighed on Akito's side, and there didn't seem to be any hope of the balance tipping back just a bit. He was grateful, though, that Hatsuharu and Momiji were being careful to stay out of trouble, plus stay quiet around the house so Hatori could sneak in a few hours of sleep. Kureno and he were both exhausted with all that had happened this past week.
`Sheer will on her part will get her through the summer. It'll be blind luck if she actually makes it through fall. And winter…' was Hatori's distressing thoughts as he made his way down the corridors of Akito's home. Normally, he wouldn't be this morbid with his thoughts concerning Akito, but after seeing her health deteriorate as rapidly as it had, the doctor couldn't help such thoughts from circulating his mind. Hatori knew he was not alone in these thoughts…he saw the same thing reflected in Kureno's face at times.
Sighing heavily, Hatori plodded along the hallways hoping to find Akito still resting peacefully. He had left her for about an hour while he went to grab something to eat…sort of a breakfast/lunch/dinner mix. When he finally reached her room, he found it to be empty.
`What a shock,' thought Hatori disdainfully while heading into a different direction, guessing along the way what other room she could be found in. `Of course, since when did Akito ever stay put? I'm actually surprised she rested as long as she had. At least she hasn't developed an immunity to this new sedative…yet.'
He continued his quest in finding his missing patient when he happened to walk by a window, and he saw her outside in the walkway connecting her home to another Sohma building. It was often her favorite retreat when she dodged Hatori's visits. Sighing in exasperation, Hatori proceeded to make his way in the hallways to get to her before she disappeared again.
`I should be used to her actually being able to move, let alone walk far and away from her bed when she's supposedly drugged. I swear she secretly finds ways to aggravate her condition even more…' thought Hatori in frustration upon finally reaching the shoji door leading to the walkway and then slid it open. `Good, she's still there.'
“Akito,” started Hatori off—he swears he feels like a broken record for saying this, “you need to remain in bed so that your body may rest. Pushing yourself anymore will cause a very serious relapse of your illness. Please come back inside.”
Hatori might as well have been dancing a jig because Akito absolutely refused to acknowledge his words. She continued in her same position, leaning against one of the columns next to the railings, with no indication of going back in. Hatori inwardly groaned and walked over with heavy steps in hopes of at least getting her to pay attention to him.
When he reached her, he saw that she was gazing at something below them and so followed her gaze. Hatori noted that it was just Kureno gardening with Yuki helping him.
`Wait…Yuki? What's he doing here? Akito didn't mention that Yuki would be visiting today,' thought Hatori in a panic. `What if somebody walks in on this?'
Akito had made it known to Hatori from the beginning that he was not to disturb her or allow anyone else to bother her while Yuki visited…especially Shigure. Hatori had been accomplishing this order quite well, always taking the extra precautions and giving vague excuses to anyone wishing to visit Akito when Yuki was there. It was not that hard considering how seldom anyone actually wished to visit Akito willingly—mainly just the maidservants.
However, it was proving more difficult to dissuade Shigure from visiting her. Not that Hatori could fool Shigure into believing that Akito needed her rest and shouldn't be bothered. Hatori knew that the Dog of the Zodiac knew quite well to a certain degree of a cover-up going on. It was Hatori's vain hope that he could keep the inquisitive dog from guessing as to why there was a cover-up in the first place.
Vain hope indeed if Shigure's knowing glances and hints in past conversations were any clue. Hatori barely managed to give a poor excuse as to what transpired between Yuki and Akito earlier that week during their midnight rendezvous (his excuse—Akito was delirious and wouldn't restrain herself until she saw Yuki. Not exactly a lie…not exactly the whole truth…sounds kind of familiar).
Hatori knew that dodging the subject would only incite the inu's endeavors to try harder, but he is fast running out of options and plausible excuses to keep Shigure at bay for much longer. Being stuck in the middle of some type of power play between the inu and his `god' was not the most desirable place to be for this dragon. Nonetheless, it couldn't be helped. He had bigger problems to worry about.
Hatori continued to observe Akito further as she stared at the two members of the Jyuunishi below them. He could perceive how at peace she was at the moment. Seeing this, Hatori remained silent, knowing that this was probably the best medicine she'd received all week.
Reflecting over the past year or so, Hatori could honestly say that he's seen everything that would defy logic in all it's meaning, specifically Akito's behavior with Yuki. That alone had drastically changed from what it was many years ago. Hatori continuously hoped that it wasn't some kind of farce on her end…he knew Yuki wouldn't be able to handle that kind of betrayal.
Yet Hatori allowed this little hope to grow, seeing these developments between the nezumi and his `god' reaching new levels, especially over the last few months. It benefited the Jyuunishi in general, but particularly the two of them.
Yuki's morbid fear of the young clan leader had waned considerably, and Hatori has seen Yuki's personality as a whole truly blossom because of this change with Akito. In turn, Akito was more at peace with herself, not resorting to her aggressive ways to express herself as she had in the past. Of course, she still had her moments, particularly if Yuki was somehow involved in the matter at hand.
Hatori didn't know if they had come to a mutual understanding or not (consciously or subconsciously), but then again, that would be asking too much, considering their history together. For now, he only wishes that their tentative relationship continued to grow, for both their sakes.
Unfortunately, this change in Akito's manner brought about another major concern for Hatori—that of Akito veering to the other extreme of being aggressively overprotective of Yuki. Not that Yuki knew about this side of hers—this was strictly kept hush-hush. She goes through great lengths to be sure it stayed that way which baffled the doctor even more. Why wouldn't she show this side to Yuki was a complete mystery to Hatori and Kureno, but she was definitely not hiding it when she came across anyone that may have wronged Yuki in some way.
Hatori could still recall this last incident involving Kazuma that still had Akito calling him an incompetent fool under her breath whenever Kazuma's name was mentioned around her. The details of that private meeting were still unknown to Hatori, but he knew well enough that Kazuma did not come out of that interview with Akito unscathed.
It was incidents such as those that worried Hatori the most. Before, it was just himself and Kureno that knew about this new twist in Akito's personality. They would swiftly remedy any situation that arose involving Yuki's welfare before it got to the point that Akito would personally intervene—it was a very effective countermeasure. They handled the situation before it got out of hand, and no one outside of this tight circle would wind up in Akito's line of fire.
Sadly for Kazuma, these intricate countermeasures failed to protect him. Hearing personally from Yuki innocently speaking about what had bothered him at that moment—well, suffice to say that Akito took the matter to heart, and it was impossible to talk her out of the interview with Kazuma. She was hell-bent on teaching Kazuma a `lesson', one that Hatori knew for certain that Kazuma would never forget. Akito certainly had that way about her…
`If only Kureno had been more careful. Honestly, he should know better…' thought Hatori despondently while he shifted to lean against the railing. `Involving anyone outside will only raise suspicions from close family members, in particular a certain dog that has eyes and ears everywhere.'
The situation in general was quickly becoming too precarious to handle, and Hatori was finding himself alone in keeping Akito in line. He had felt for some time now that Akito's way of thinking was somehow rubbing off on Kureno. Not in the extreme sense, but Kureno wouldn't intervene if she were to handle a situation personally.
`That probably can't be helped, though, seeing that Kureno has very limited contact with the rest of the Jyuunishi, let alone the outside world in general. (Sigh) Complying with Akito's whims is what Kureno specializes in after all,' mused Hatori.
Gazing at Yuki and Kureno below, Hatori smiled inwardly and thought, `That may be true, but knowing Kureno, he honestly just wants what's best for Yuki, just like we all do. I just hope he doesn't get caught up in Akito's way of doing things. It'll only hurt Yuki in the end.'
“Birds of a feather, are they not?” asked Akito from out of nowhere. “Not that Yuki's a bird, but close enough.”
Hearing her remark startled Hatori from his reverie. He quickly thought about the meaning behind her remark, and in a way, he had to agree with her. “Hai. They are alike.”
“Hm,” mused Akito. Without looking up, she asked Hatori quietly, “His training is coming along much better than I had expected.”
Hatori decided to remain silent instead of replying to it, sensing that it's more of a rhetorical comment that she made. As confused as he might be, he knew that if he waited long enough, Akito would speak some more on the subject, if she were in the mood.
“Kureno will make an excellent caregiver to my very precious nezumi, wouldn't you agree?” asked Akito eloquently as she stared at both Kureno and Yuki entering the house. She then looked up to Hatori, fully expecting an answer.
Besides getting the clarification he needed, Hatori was silently grateful that she was more forthcoming today with her private thoughts. That was a good indication that she was starting to feel better. He could tell that she was still a little dazed from all the medication used to fight off her latest illness, but she was definitely looking much better today.
Thinking back to her question, Hatori realized with a little surprise just what Akito was currently up to with Kureno. Voicing his opinion aloud, Hatori responded, “Akito, you don't have to train anyone to look after Yuki. We are all taking good care of him.”
“Really?” asked Akito with a bit of sarcasm. “It's rather interesting to know that you are all taking such good care of him because I've been seeing to it that it does happen.”
Akito always knew when to make a good point at the most opportune moment. Hatori could never catch her off guard on any issue. Except that one time when he had to inform her of Yuki's health problems last winter…that really floored and angered her. So angry she had become that she ordered Hatori to retrieve `that mutt'—her words exactly. Hatori could still feel her icy glare on him and Shigure during their tête-à-tête with Akito, but what truly surprised him was how she practically blamed the whole thing on Shigure. Shigure was for once too stunned for words back then.
Knowing that this may partly have been the reason for having to train Kureno, Hatori tried reasoning with her just a bit but not too much so as not to agitate her. “Yuki is being given the best of care. He's continuing to improve in his health, and after his current treatment, he'll be well on his way to a full recovery. As far as keeping it up, Yuki will need to learn to give better consideration to his health. We can all guide him in that.”
“It's not just his health,” replied Akito, with the edge in her voice becoming just a little sharper. “He's too innocent in the ways of this world…people will take advantage of someone such as him. (Pause) Or am I wrong?”
This last question actually was spoken rather softly that Hatori had to strain himself to hear it. She had by then returned her gaze to the vacated garden, and had this far off look, as if taking her mind elsewhere than where they were currently.
`This reminds me of someone,' thought Hatori wryly. Sighing, Hatori closed his eyes as he rubbed the bridge of his nose with his hand. Trying to reason with her even a little can be tiring…her last comment proved it. It always ended up with him trying to figure out the best way to counter a truth with logical reason.
However, Hatori was finding it difficult to reason with her on this matter…it's true that there are those people that take advantage of another's innocence. Although everyone will have to face this at some point in his or her life, in this case, Akito was taking it a step further, and she definitely was not backing down in her endeavors to protect Yuki.
`She should know how easy it is to break someone's innocence. Yuki was after all her first victim,' thought Hatori bitterly. He then silently reprimanded himself for thinking that, knowing that what has transpired in the past was better left there. It seemed that both Akito and even Yuki were doing just that, and Hatori had made it a point to never bring the topic up with either individual.
As Hatori gave this some thought, he couldn't help but feel something odd in the air around him. His eyes opened quickly as the feeling going through him in waves was becoming even more potent. He noted that these sensations were emanating from Akito herself. Waves of…could it be? Just maybe…
Yet, just as quickly as he felt it, it evaporated with the breeze flowing through the walkway, and in its wake, a cold chill spread across his being. Hatori couldn't understand why, but he could almost swear that he felt something akin to fear from Akito. She still seemed out of it, as if reliving some kind of memory. Hatori couldn't really tell since her hair was swaying in the breeze, covering her face. The sensation was becoming stronger for Hatori, so he hesitantly reached out and grasped her shoulder gently. “Akito?”
She immediately snapped back to attention and whipped around, as if frantically searching for something…or someone. She shakily brought her hand to her temple, attempting to ease the apparent migraine that started to form there. Hatori didn't have much time to contemplate over what just happened when she started speaking again.
“Damn these headaches…I swear they'll be the end of me,” mumbled Akito irritably. As she said this, Hatori noted that she still was a bit troubled by whatever had made her feel uncomfortable just before.
“Akito, you need your rest. This walking around is only complicating your recovery period. You won't get any better this way,” reasoned Hatori, praying that maybe she'll listen. Of course, Akito being who she is…
“Get better?” she bit out bitterly. She then stretched to her full height with hands clenched and her arms rigid on either side of her. She stood right in front of his face and glared at him with contempt as she continued to speak, “What sort of deluded world do you live in? I am NEVER getting any better, so stop with your lies and leave me be!”
She continued to stare angrily at him for a moment, daring him to contradict her. When Hatori gazed down to his feet as a way of relenting, Akito slid past him as she held her head high with a dignified air. She then paused at the doorway, and with her back to him, quietly remarked, “Time is a luxury that I don't have, Hatori—you know it as well as I do. You can rest if you want to. Yuki is here, and I'm going to spend what time I do have with him, not in some damn bed.”
Hatori could only stare after her as she continued walking down the dark corridor in search of Yuki. Seeing that his latest attempts to reason with her failed as usual, with a heavy sigh, he sat against the railing and pulled out his pack of cigarettes. Sitting there smoking, he looked out to the garden, silently wondering about many things…wondering about what was left unspoken. In the end, it was rather simple.
`What are you so afraid of Akito? What is it that you fear?'
Yuki was sniffling and sneezing quite a bit as he opened up the doors to the darkened room. He hadn't realized just how dusty a room could quickly get when not in use even for a short while. Strange that the maids hadn't been in there to dust like they normally did with the rest of the house.
`Well, no matter. A little fresh air is all that's needed.' With that thought, Yuki went to open the doors that led to the gardens outside and then opened all the windows. With the breezy spring winds flowing through the room, the dust slowly dissipated away.
“Much better,” commented Yuki quietly to himself. “Now for the finishing touch.” He exited the room for a moment, and then he came back with a crystal vase holding the flowers he had just cut from Kureno's garden.
`Hmmm, this looks like a good spot.' He then walked over to the piano currently situated by the open doors leading to the garden. As he placed the vase on top of the piano, he happily noted that in the normally dark room, the colorful display of flowers stood out in stark contrast, instantly bringing life to the solitary room.
“Perfect,” remarked Yuki with a soft smile. He had been intending to do this for a while, seeing that when he played in this room, it was always dark and dreary. He never liked it much (reminded him of unpleasant thoughts), so he decided to redecorate just a little, for today anyway since Akito wasn't around. She seemed to actually like to stay in the darkness that the shadows afforded…
Sighing lightly, he went over to the piano and situated himself before it, quietly lifting the lid and sliding his fingers over the keys. He sat there for a moment, relishing the serene stillness in the air. He slowly breathed in, mindful of the dust still in the air. After coughing a bit, he finally relaxed as he started playing a peaceful melody that matched the mood in the room, a very tranquil piece that reverberated through him. The notes truly soothed his rather tired mind, and he found himself completely lost in thought while the notes flowed through the room much like the spring breeze that blew in.
`I wonder how much longer Kureno will be in the kitchen,' thought Yuki, wondering if he should have stayed to help Kureno clean up in the kitchen. Kureno had insisted, though, that Yuki go on ahead as he finished up. `He's probably on his way now,' thought Yuki calmly.
As Yuki continued playing and lost in his thoughts, he failed to notice the raspy breathing of another individual in the room with him, quietly observing him in his playing. Said individual quietly padded over to him, and upon reaching Yuki's back, brushed his soft hair with their fingers, leaning in to breathe in its scent.
While finishing the piece, Yuki snapped back to attention as he felt another presence in the room. But before he even had a chance to turn around, he felt the individual's fingers comb through his hair and lean in to smell his hair. There was no doubt as to whom it was…it took all of his self-control to not lose his concentration as he finished the piece.
“Beautiful. That was wonderfully played, Yuki,” replied Akito coolly while still running her fingers through his hair.
“Arigatou, Akito,” replied Yuki tensely, “but Kureno plays much better. Maybe he can play for us when he gets back.” Yuki was silently hoping Kureno would hurry since he still found it nerve-racking to be alone with Akito without Kureno there.
“Iie, I'd much rather hear you play. Your playing is much more heartfelt…Kureno's playing can never compare,” replied Akito evenly. She then brought her arms around him and embraced him from behind, while leaning in to breathe in his scent deeply. She sighed quietly in contentment as she rested one side of her head on top of his head, still holding Yuki in her embrace.
Yuki at first tensed up as he felt her arms around him, but then he closed his eyes and calmly let his tremors fade away, breathing in and out inaudibly. It was an exercise he often did whenever Akito embraced him. Needless to say, he still was not used to this no matter how many times he found himself in that position.
Yet as the minutes passed by, Yuki found himself more and more at ease…he concluded it was either because he was very tired or maybe the relaxing sensation that he felt as Akito started combing her fingers through his hair again was winning him over. He never could understand why she did it, but at the moment, he really didn't care. He was once again lost in the peaceful moment, not caring who was the one actually providing it. He hadn't even realized that he had spoken until he heard the words echo in the silence of the room.
“Akito, are you …feeling better today…than from before?” was the tentative question Yuki had voiced out loud. It surprised him to hear himself ask that…he never asked her before since he knew how much she hated being asked that. He was sure that she'll snap at him for asking her that question, but on the contrary, all she did was stop what she was doing, then walk away to the door leading to the garden.
As she walked away, Yuki was amazed to find himself longing for that embrace again. Sure it scared it him at first, but slowly he had gotten used to it. He would become so accustomed to it that it would remind him of those times so long ago when Akito actually hugged him without any malice or eeriness laced in her embrace. He was certain he practically felt that way moments ago before she walked off.
“Why did you open the doors and windows to this room?” was Akito's question while she had her back to him.
Yuki brought himself back from his passing thoughts upon hearing her question. He hadn't anticipated being asked a question in return for the question he had asked. But it would make sense…he hadn't inquired for permission to open the windows or doors.
“Well, it was rather dusty and stuffy in here…I thought by letting in a little fresh air that it would clear it up,” replied Yuki slowly as he shifted in his seat to get a better view of Akito by the door.
“What's with the flowers?” asked Akito curtly without pause.
`Okay, she obviously doesn't like my redecorating,' thought Yuki as he inwardly sighed with disappointment. “Gomen nasai, I'll remove them and close the windows and doors.”
Before he had a chance to get up, she quickly replied in a more commanding tone, “You did not answer my question.”
Yuki sat there for a moment as he gathered his thoughts. He couldn't think of anything else to say that may not offend her, so he went ahead and just plainly told her the truth. “It was just an idea of mine to give the room a little more color.”
“You think this room lacked color or light for that matter?” asked Akito with a slight edge to her voice.
Blinking his eyes in discomfort, Yuki couldn't come up with a response to that. He sat there silently for a moment as the silence between Akito and himself thickened. Telling her the plain truth is usually the most advisable course, so he did.
“I just thought that a little color and some light would bring some life to this room. Maybe make it more enjoyable to be in…to play in…that's all,” remarked Yuki quietly, looking down as he fumbled with the hem of his uniform.
“There's very little life or light to be found in this house. You of all people should know that,” replied Akito just as quietly.
Yuki suppressed the emptiness threatening to consume him as he recalled vivid memories of a cold darkness permeating through his being in a dark room. He then blurted out without thinking, “Is it so bad to want that? Do you really like the dark that much?”
As he heard himself say this, he froze over on the spot. He hadn't planned on voicing that thought out loud. He honestly wondered about her obsession with the dark for a long while, but he was never bold enough to go through with actually asking her.
`I can't believe I just said that,' thought Yuki frantically. He then looked over to Akito, seeing that she had turned around and was facing him with an unreadable expression on her face. She then walked over with a narrowed gaze, and when she reached him, she slowly leaned down to his level. Yuki couldn't release himself from her gaze, and he nearly jumped in his seat when he felt her hand on his left cheek.
`Yep, she snapped,' thought Yuki in panic, fully preparing himself for whatever she may throw at him, literally or figuratively.
“Don't you think that the dark suits me best?” asked Akito very silently. She refused to let Yuki's eyes wander from her own as she awaited his answer.
What could Yuki think at the moment? He had been anxiously thinking of some way to calm her down before she exploded on him. Having to answer a question like that was something he wasn't prepared for. Yet, just as suddenly as the question was presented to him, he had found the truth within himself.
“Darkness is everywhere. But that doesn't mean you have to live in it…no one should have to live in it,” replied Yuki with melancholy. Looking down finally, he continued, “It's too sad to be alone in the dark.”
Yuki sat there, fully expecting the hard slap or heart wrenching reprimand that Akito excelled in giving. He knew his answer was the truth, though, no matter how simple or pathetic it may be. He felt the previous coldness start seeping back into his being, and unconsciously brought his arms around him to warm himself, though it didn't help. The coldness was inside his mind and slowly creeping into his heart, just waiting on Akito to act on her silent rage.
Yuki first felt her hand leave his face, and he then closed his eyes as he waited for the inevitable. He breathed in deeply, and strangely, he found himself breathing in a floral scent. `What?' He eyes snapped open, and he saw before his face a beautiful red rose. He unconsciously took it as he gazed upward, and he saw that Akito had taken it from the crystal vase. Breathing out silently, he stared at her then the flower, no doubt confusion written all over his face.
“This suits you best…it's a classic but unique. And the color goes well with your hair, too,” replied Akito with certainty while taking another rose for herself.
Yuki of course didn't understand what just happened, but once the growing malice left her aura, he felt the little warmth he had been craving for moments ago from her embrace return. The coldness slowly faded away, and as Yuki gathered his thoughts, Akito gracefully sat down next to him smelling her own rose.
“The maids aren't allowed into this part of the house. Kureno would normally fix this room up when he knows you're coming,” remarked Akito as she stared at her rose. “He'll have this room prepared just like it is now next time you pay a visit.”
Yuki was of course flabbergasted, hearing that Akito was actually okay with the current decorating arrangement—he was so sure that she hated it. But he hadn't wanted to have Kureno go through the trouble of preparing the room just for him.
“That's okay, Akito. Kureno doesn't have to go out of his way to do that. I can do it with no problem,” replied Yuki anxiously.
Akito regarded him for a moment and then asked aloud, “What do you think, Kureno?”
Yuki turned to the door leading to the hallway where he saw Kureno standing there holding a tea set on a tray. He hadn't realized Kureno was even there—he silently wondered how much of the previous conversation with Akito had Kureno heard.
“Sumimasen, I had not meant to disturb your conversation,” Kureno replied with a slight bow, mindful of the tray in his hands. He then smiled over at Yuki reassuringly and replied, “It's no trouble at all to set the room up this way. I'd be happy to do it.”
Yuki could only sigh in defeat and gave a small smile of thanks to Kureno. Akito was obviously pleased and remarked, “Good—it's settled then. It's much better that Kureno handle it anyway; this room can get so dusty when it's not cleaned daily.” Looking pointedly at Yuki, she continued, “It wouldn't be good for you to have all this dust flying in the air. Hatori had said you'd get worse before getting better—no need to aggravate your asthma any more than necessary, don't you think so Yuki?”
(Cough, cough) `Perfect timing…the power of suggestion is incredible,' thought Yuki helplessly. It didn't even faze him that Akito knew of his current medical problem—there really was very little that she didn't know about him.
“Hai, Akito. I'll be more careful,” replied Yuki as he cleared his throat of the remaining dust.
Satisfied with Yuki's answer, Akito stood up with the rose still in her hand. She let out a tired sigh of her own, and started to walk over to the door leading to the garden. “Kureno, bring the tea set over here,” remarked Akito languidly as she set herself down while leaning against the doorway.
Kureno complied readily and softly set the tray down next to her. He kneeled next to her as well as he set about getting her tea prepared just how she likes it. Well, close to it anyway… Personally, Kureno was immensely relieved to sense the thick tension he had felt before coming into the room dissipate into nothing. For once, he didn't have to intervene with Akito…she handled herself all on her own.
Yuki began to feel comfortable once again and so placed the rose in front of him on top of the piano. He breathed in and out silently as he let his fingers strike a few notes before altogether playing out the melody that was in his mind and heart.
Akito continued to stare at her rose as Kureno finished preparing the tea, silently listening to Yuki play the melody he had chosen. Kureno stared at her for a moment and then glanced in Yuki's direction, noting that both Yuki and Akito had the same expression on their faces…that of unmistakable tranquility.
It was then that Kureno sensed Hatori's presence who stood by the door of the room, watching the whole scene before him. Hatori was obviously taken aback at seeing the blatant change in the decorum of the room as well as Akito herself. He knew well of her fixation with remaining in the dark whenever she was indoors, but now here she was, bathed in daylight from all the open doors and windows, sipping her tea as she listened to Yuki play.
Kureno caught Hatori's gaze and held onto it for a moment. They both understood each other perfectly without words needing to be spoken. It was agreed between the two that after a long hard week, today was a perfectly good day for everyone in that room.
“Kyo-kun, the dinner didn't turn out badly. I really didn't mind the fish or the soup. Shishou-san is improving every time I taste his cooking,” was Tohru's reassurance while she and Kyo walked home in the fading twilight.
“You mean the burnt fish and stale soup? He was supposed to stay out of the kitchen…he promised,” was Kyo's complaint.
“Yet you let him help you in any way he can. That was so nice of you. I'm sure he learned a lot by watching you cook,” reasoned Tohru gently.
“I seriously doubt it. He BURNED water…I mean, how can you do that? I didn't even think it was possible!” replied Kyo incredulously.
`Well, it's not that impossible…Yuki-kun did it all the time,' was Tohru's wondering thought. `About Yuki-kun…'
“Kyo-kun, can I ask you something important?” asked Tohru nervously.
“Sure,” replied Kyo indifferently.
`Well, here goes.' Sighing lightly, she continued, “It's just that I need some advice…on guy's taste.”
Kyo just looked at her quizzically, wondering what she was talking about. `Tohru and guys? Wait a minute…'
“Which `guy' are you talking about?” asked Kyo as held back the edge that was at the back of his throat.
“Um, well, actually I wanted to know if you could help me pick out Yuki-kun's present…for graduation. I don't want to get him something that he may think its too girly or something like that. I hoped you could help me make sure the present I do buy for him is something a `guy' would like to have. What do you think?” asked Tohru anxiously as she wringed her hands together.
Throughout her whole explanation, Kyo was discreetly tensing his jaw and clenching his teeth. Helping to pick a present for Yuki was the least thing he had ever wanted to do…the very least, especially if Tohru was the one buying it. Letting out a sigh inaudibly, he replied quietly, “You know you can always count on my help. All you have to do is ask.”
Tohru knew how much it bothered Kyo to be doing this, and she was profoundly grateful that he would help her despite that. She reached over and squeezed his arm and replied, “Arigatou, Kyo-kun. It means a lot to me. I already did my window-shopping with Uo-chan and Hana-chan, so we don't have to go around too much. Just give me your honest opinion, okay?”
“Sure,” remarked Kyo distractedly. He continued to stare straight ahead, trying to push out the mental picture of the girl of his dreams giving a present to his arch nemesis.
“Oh, don't worry about your present,” replied Tohru hurriedly. “Uo-chan had helped me pick it out while we were shopping for Yuki-kun's present. She was sure that you'd like it.”
“Really?” replied Kyo skeptically. He now wondered what kind of present did they get him…curiosity was a trait this cat definitely possessed.
Tohru smiled widely as she walked on, knowing full well that Kyo's curiosity was peaked and the whole matter with Yuki was temporarily forgotten to Kyo. He kept asking questions, which she managed to dodge remarkably well. She just personally hoped that the present she had planned to have for Yuki was something he'd like as well.
`Well, here's hoping,' was Tohru's silent request to the barely visible stars in the fading sunlight.
Yuki settled himself in the car seat next to Hatori, stretching out his limbs as he began to doze off. Dinner with Akito and Kureno had been a quiet affair, but it was a comfortable kind of quiet, if that made any sense to anyone. He had played the piano most of the time he was with Akito—he thought it to be time well spent and Akito didn't object at all.
Yuki sleepily eyed the rose in his hand and wondered if Akito was okay after all. She never really did answer his question, but after thinking about it for a moment, Yuki realized that in a way, she did. The proof was in his hand, in her allowances with letting him have the piano room decorated as he liked, and more than anything, the proof lay in her hand as well. She still had her rose with her as well when he bid her goodnight as he left her in her room.
`I never thought that I would feel like this again,' was Yuki's trailing thought as he closed his eyes and smelled the rose. Smiling softly, he leaned into his seat and silently admitted to himself, `How strange…I actually feel better knowing that she's okay…she's okay…'
As Yuki napped next to him with the rose still in his hand, Hatori let out the sigh he had been holding in. He honestly felt such a weight lifted from his shoulders when he saw Akito as relaxed as she was when he visited with her briefly before driving Yuki home. He couldn't be there during their dinner (Hatsuharu and Momiji alone in a kitchen was not advisable), but he was glad to see just how much she had calmed down compared to when she was with him earlier in the afternoon. Yuki's surprise visit was definitely a positive influence on her overall health.
Hatori quickly glanced over to Yuki, seeing that he still held a soft smile. He noted that both Yuki and Akito held a rose, and neither had let go of it. Hatori couldn't really understand the meaning of it, but he knew it was something private between the two, just like it usually is. They understood each other on a level that no one could possibly comprehend.
Smiling softly, Hatori reached and patted Yuki's head gently. He soundlessly shook his head in wonder at how incredibly complex his family is. At a stoplight, he stared at Yuki for a moment, and he realized something that he hoped one day Yuki would realize for himself.
`If you could only see yourself as we see you…as Akito sees you. You are truly the light in the darkness that surrounds this family,' thought Hatori with certainty. `Yes, a light that continues to grow brighter with each passing day.'
With that in mind, Hatori continued to drive in quiet solitude, knowing that for the first time that week, all would sleep well tonight.
All except one, though Hatori knew nothing of it. Earlier, when he and Yuki had exited Akito's side of the building through the secluded gate, neither one had noticed the deadly glare aimed at them from the darkest of shadows that surrounded the Sohma estate.
She eyed them carefully as they got into Hatori's car and drove away with hardly a care to the world. Her blood boiled at seeing this, seeing `that rat' with Hatori, leaving through Akito's private entrance. It was obvious that they were trying to be discreet by using that entrance, but she had seen them clearly. She had seen him well enough.
`What's that damn rat up to, sneaking out like that? What's he scheming with that bitch of a `god'? Hmph, I'll find out soon enough…you can count on it, Yuki, one way or the other.'
Edited by: Seiren-no-Kaze 02-23-07
Author's Mindless Chatter (11-18-04):
Konnichiwa! Welcome to the wide world of empty remarks from yours truly! Testing 1, 2, 3, testing…anyone listening…hello? Yep, I think I have your attention now.
I hope this chapter was to your liking…the part with Hatori and Akito really had me in a bind for quite some time. Hence why I postponed posting this baby yesterday. I wanted to end this chapter with more than just the first half of this story…I think it wrapped up pretty well towards the end.
Basically, it's a recap in the beginning. First off, hopefully, the tidbit with Kyo and Tohru clarified that little issue with the dreams as to whom in actuality was having the strange dreams. Yes, it was Kyo…I mislead my readers on purpose—what a shock! Hehehehe, hopefully no books are thrown my way…I'm so fragile!
Also the Hatori and Akito scene…it was a recap of everything up to that moment from Hatori's perspective. It gives more information as to what went on behind the scenes of some events that occurred. It also revealed some of Akito's current plans…she's certainly a master at planning everything her way.
I personally loved the long awaited moment of having Akito and Yuki interact on a present timeline. I spent a good many evening hours and sacrificed some hours of sleep to do this part. In my humble opinion, it was well worth it. I am very pleased with it, and I hope you agree, too.
Wrapping it up with Hatori's personal thoughts towards the end was critical. As I said before, the foundation of the story is pretty much laid out—the real action is about to begin, so my dear readers, keep this chapter along with the others in mind as I start kicking this storyline up a notch!
Little hints were already given at the end…who could be thinking those awful thoughts of our precious Yuki? I would personally beat her to a bloody pulp if I could, but alas, I need her rather `disturbed' mind for my purposes in the next chapter. Stay tuned!
Musical moments for me…well, I'm a piano lover so I pictured in my rather twisted mind that Yuki would be playing the melody called “Zanarkand” found on the soundtrack for FFX (Final Fantasy Ten)—it's the first track on the CD. I love how the composer (Nobuo Uematsu) played this melody out; I listen to it often. After the confrontation with Akito and Yuki continues to play, I can see him playing the melody he played for Kisa way back in chapter 8, “Ballade for Adeline”. I think it fit the moment perfectly. Again, my dear readers, it's my twisted mind that hears these…yes, pretty creepy!
Finally, replies to my reviewers. And what reviews I received this time around! I was floored to say the least when I read them…lots of info provided to me from our well-known authors Ina-chan and Rjunkie. I already replied personally to their reviews since my replies were pretty lengthy. Well, let's get this started!
Alcapacien: Thanks for continuing to read my story despite the slight confusion with Akito's character. My fic is based on both the anime and the manga that's been released over in Japan (hence Akito being referred to in that sense you noted). I'm hoping Kureno's character is appealing to all. Getting a good grasp of this character's personality is not easy…he doesn't get much exposure in most of the manga. Only in recent developments does he get more exposure, and we find out more about him. I think I have his characterization down, but then again, I may just be embellishing it some…I suppose it just depends on who interprets Kureno's characterization. Overall, everyone agrees that he's a rather sad character in the manga…I hope I've conveyed some sense of that to my readers.
Grid-line (anonymous): Thanks to you for reading my rather twisted fic! I'm glad you took note of the little details from earlier chapters that find their way to being important in later chapters. Keep it up—it'll be critical in the next phase of this storyline!
Blu-rain: Thanks for the reviews—quite some concern with our precious Yuki! Others shared your concern as well; hopefully this chapter cleared it up for you and others. Glad you like the developments with the characters and how addictive this story is becoming for you! I only hope to keep it going that way for my readers. I had refrained from actually typing out `Yuki-centric' (is that even spelled right?) in my summary because I felt that it might detract from the overall message in the summary. I guess since the story has moved along for quite some time, it wouldn't hurt now to point it out. Consider your suggestion noted and applied! I hope it's not considered cheesy…well, let me know!
S.B. Kisses: Thank you so much… I'm glad you pointed this out; it means a lot to me. Sometimes I wonder if I'm giving the Sohmas their due respect as a family when I write out a story about a particular character. My fic is about them as a whole with Yuki as my pivotal character…hopefully this last chapter explained why I set it up this way. Dear readers, remember that the `curse' plagues the family, not just one member—one way or the other they all feel its effects. I look to old soap dramas like Dynasty, Dallas—even the Godfather movies. It may be cheesy on my part, but these all have one common theme—family problems that affect each member, but somehow, someway, the family as a whole cope with it together. I can definitely see the Sohmas in the Furuba manga fitting very well into this niche.
Ina-chan and Rjunkie: Big hugs from me to you! You don't know how much I appreciate your reviews and insight into the world of Furuba. I share many of your theories and contemplations as well. Please don't refrain from speaking your thoughts on any part of this fic. Cultural issues that are pointed out are definitely useful to other readers as well in case they start up a fic of their own. Please continue to provide your wealth of knowledge on this aspect—we all like to keep our fics authentic on some level! I'm personally relieved that some of my liberties (class dance, graduation, etc.) weren't too farfetched in the Japanese culture. Again, thanks sooo very much—I'm looking forward to seeing you in other chapters (no commitment required)!
Thanks once again to all my readers and reviewers, past and present. The fact that you dedicate time to read my story makes me so happy! The fact that you even review makes me even happier! Happy author equals speedy fic, so go for it and bless me with your thoughts on my fic or remarks! Ja ne!