Fruits Basket Fan Fiction ❯ Seasons of Sorrow ❯ Embers of Summer's Glory = Weaving the Web ( Chapter 52 )

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

DISCLAIMER: Once again, I defied logic and all common sense and continued with my fanfiction based on Takaya-Sensei's Furuba! Dare me to try again…
Special Note: A little indiscretion of the mouth just ahead and yes, this chapter is a little long…thank you!
Embers of Summer's Glory
Chapter 52: Weaving of the Web
“Mmm, mit-chan, bis bacial masc mou mabe beels BRATE!”
Looking beyond confused, Tohru remarked, “Eh? Sumimasen, Kagura-san, but that…doesn't make any sense.”
“Don't worry, Tohru-san, her facial masque is keeping her from articulating well,” clarified Ritsu from his seat across from her. Looking to Kagura with a beaming smile, he continued with his work on her toenails. “I tried a more refreshing recipe this time around since it's summertime. I'm pleased that you like it so much.”
“Mm-hmmm…” agreed Kagura heartily with an enthusiastic thumbs-up.
Tohru looked on with fondness as the two Jyuunishi interacted. They beat to their own tune, vibrated to their own pulse…harmony. She was glad that their paper crane project was completed early since it gave them time to each do their own thing for the remainder of the day which was now coming down to an early evening.
And what a blessed thing Kagura decided for them. A few hours dedicated to just pure pampering outside on the veranda that overlooked the dark forest that met the deep blue ocean waters. Just Kagura, Ritsu, and she relaxed on plush cushions while having their manicures and pedicures done. The facials were courtesy of Ritsu's special mixes. Apparently, he invested time in making them from scratch just for Kagura…and he was good. Tohru was eager to try it after letting her nails dry.
`Too bad that Kisa-san isn't with us. Heh, I'm sure she and Hiro-san are enjoying the Mogeta TV special…they were looking forward to it all week long.' Satisfied that her nails were dry enough, Tohru tucked a stray hair away under her hair band and wiped her hands clean on a towel. She then dipped her hand into a bowl provided by Ritsu and began lathering the masque onto her face. `Mmm…Kagura-san is right…it IS amazing!'
“Tohru-san, Kagura-san…all the paper cranes were hung up around the living area when you're ready to see them,” called out a voice from within inside.
“Arigatou, Yuki-kun! That was very kind of you to do so,” she remarked, smiling as best as possible given the fact that her masque was starting to harden. “Oh! Please let me help you with that!”
“I'm fine, but thank you,” warmly replied Yuki. “Just relax…these will be the last few times on this trip that I will get to pamper you as you deserve. You've done so much over the years for me…for all of us, ne?”
“Yep, I agwee! So spoil `er wotten, Wun-chan!” quipped Kagura merrily, eyelids half-open to observe the two chatting. `Spoil her like I know you've been dying to do for the longest time…otherwise…she'll slip away into the arms of another.'
With Tohru blushing to a cherry hue, Yuki had been looking down the whole time to be sure he didn't trip over anything as he went outside to serve them the tea that his brother was generous enough to brew for them. It was his brother's way of thanking him for picking up all his stuff that flew everywhere on the beach and carrying him back along with those very items.
It was good timing that Kureno had to make a few phone calls to the Honke to stay abreast of the latest happenings, specifically how Akito was doing in their absence. As the young man was tied up with those private affairs in the bedroom, this left Hatori and Shigure in the kitchen enjoying their tea while catching up on their reading. It was then that Yuki burst in from outdoors with a chatty snake wrapped around his neck and his arms heavy with Ayame's personal belongings.
Oh, the laughter…a lot of it. Shigure was laughing it up and Hatori was scolding both brothers for being so brash and not knowing any better. And of course during the lecture, the inevitable `poof' made itself known and Ayame was not in the least abashed at his state of undress as he declared his intentions to make tea for his generous younger brother. The Inu certainly enjoyed filming Hatori's and Yuki's gawking faces as the Snake gaily pranced about the kitchen `au naturel' while loudly chatting away and getting the tea ready for brewing.
`I was just glad Hatori was around when the idiot decided to `poof' back to normal. The guy just has no shame about his nudity in the KITCHEN of all places! He babbled so much just to say he'd make the tea that he didn't even dress for a full ten minutes and only after Hatori threatened to throw away the tea he was making for me!' Yuki sighed wearily upon remembering those moments in the kitchen. `Thank you to all forms of forces known to man for creating high countertops…at least the video didn't catch the bottom half of the moron's body.'
Shaking the memories away and with a bright smile, Yuki looked up as he laid the tea set on a table near the girls and was immediately startled to see the dark green masques adorning the girls' faces along with Ritsu who was happily giving a pedicure to Kagura. The Boar looked extremely relaxed leaning against a pillar of the porch, her hair up in a high ponytail as she blew lightly on her fingernails with her eyes closed to the people around her.
`To put so much time and effort just to look good or for `time-out' as Kagura put it… It looks like a lot of work to me. How can you relax that way?'
“Now Yuki…we're not all blessed with your flawless complexion that requires no maintenance.”
Looking over his shoulder, Yuki saw Haru focus the video cam on the trio on the floor. He commented off-handedly with a light blush, “I wash my face every morning and night. That's maintenance.”
“Sorry, but your maintenance has nothing do with your porcelain skin. Your complexion is genetic.” Moving forward, Haru zoomed in on the dark green goo-covered faces of the girls who were too busy relaxing to notice him recording them.
“And here I am reporting LIVE from the veranda on this early summer evening,” piped up Momiji as he looked into the video cam, his lollipop serving as a mic. “What secrets do girls possess in their beauty regimen? To avoid the usual hassles of asking them outright (since, let's face it, girls tend to be shy), let us ask this gentlemen here…Rit-chan. What secrets can you share with us on girl's beauty treatments?”
“Eh? Ano…uh…I just mix items found in any kitchen and the facial masque is ready then,” stammered Ritsu in reply into the proffered lollipop. Turning to Momiji, he seriously asked, “Do you need me to write up the recipes on a card? Should I explain further? Was I prohibited from taking things from the kitchen to make the facials?! IT WAS MY FAULT HATORI-NIISAN'S LUNCH LACKED MISO SOUP!!! I RUINED OUR LUNCH!!! THE VACATION HAS BECOME A FAILURE—
“Geez, what's a girl to do to get a nap around here?!” declared Kagura after stretching her arms and swinging them around to circulate the blood in her veins after sitting so long. Little did she realize that she had just knocked her beloved unconscious while doing her stretches…
Looking down at the slumped Monkey over her legs, she nudged him lightly. “Rit-chan, get up from there…you'll get a crick in your back.” Looking up, she asked the others, “Yun-chan, when did you get back? Hey Momichii, Haru-cha—DEAR GOD, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING WITH THAT THING ON???!!!! GET OUT!!!! OUT!!!”
“But we are outside, Kagura-nee,” quipped Haru uncaringly.
“And this, dear audience, (whoa, that was a nail clipper!) is our wonderful Boar of the Zodiac on a rampage (duck, Haru!) and who is normally calm (yikes, that nail file almost took out my eye!), uh, sometimes calm, I guess (Rit-chan, hold her back!!!)—”
“Momiji, why don't you and Haru film something else less…(dodge)…harmful to your health, okay?” suggested Yuki kindly as he yet again dodged another projectile thrown by an irate Boar. He knew the mess being made needed to be picked up, but right now he needed to protect the tea set. Like many things in the house, it was a family heirloom. Hatori would be so mad if he saw any more property damage…and a livid doctor is no one's gain.
“Eh…um, bye, Hatsuharu-kun, Momiji-kun…we can film together later or tomorrow when we smash the melons or while we set off our fireworks!” cheerfully called out Tohru with an enthusiastic wave, unfazed at the riot around her or the fact that she was filmed in all her glory.
“You are incredibly carefree, Tohru-san…” murmured Yuki with a lop-sided grin, turning to help Kagura with the dazed Monkey.
The amateur film crew did indeed leave and did indeed continue filming.
“Now, that's what I call a VOLATILE lady! (Haru, careful with this step.) Rit-chan has quite the catch there, ladies and gentlemen! (`I heard that, Momi-chii!' yelled Kagura.) And so we move along further away from mayhem (Haru, hurry up!) and encounter a feline on the far end of this porch. Hm…seems like someone has already beat me to video taping him. Shii-chan…”
“Shh, the Cat with a thousand issues is deeply asleep.” Holding his breath momentarily and then letting it out slowly, Shigure crept up closer to the comatose teen. Gesturing to his partners in filming the sleeping Cat to come beside him, the Inu zoomed in his digicam to Kyo's slightly open mouth. “Hm, this kitty is…snoring. Interesting…”
“I see drool,” commented Haru lightly while focusing his lens on the moisture trailing from Kyo's mouth.
“Heh, he's so off guard when he's asleep…he's actually kawaii!” giggled quietly Momiji. He brightened suddenly, took another lollipop out of his shirt pocket, and then he unwrapped it fully. Widely grinning, he took the candy and carefully stuck it in Kyo's mouth.
Snickering quietly, Shigure zoomed out just enough to see this in full screen. “Momi-chii, you are a wonder to behold when you get an idea! Brilliant!”
Kyo suddenly jerked in his sleep, the lollipop falling away from his lips. The oblivious Neko licked his lips with a frown to his face, deeply breathed in and then out. He unconsciously resettled his head against the cushion he laid on, sighing heavily before resuming his passed-out state.
“Phew, that was close!” Momiji dared to look away from Kyo and looked up. Bewildered, he softly asked, “Shii-chan, where did Haru go?”
“Right behind you.”
The Usagi abruptly turned upon hearing Haru's voice behind him. A laugh almost burst forth when he saw what the Ox carried. Settling to snicker behind his hand, Momiji asked, “Hehe, did…heh…do you really think he won't wake up with all that?”
“He was rather out of it when we tried this the last time around.” Taking his supplies that would ensure a good laugh at the Neko's expense, Haru passed out the different items to the two present. He commented lowly, “Just keep it quick and simple, or else he'd probably wake up.”
“Sound advice, Haa-kun, say no more,” replied the mischievous Inu as he placed his digicam in a high shelf that would film their latest stunt in the making. Many bruises and damage to his person were very likely, IF caught. The grounds were large enough to lose a steamed Neko… Besides, the filming of this would be priceless. “Commencing `Neko Improvement Project'…Momiji, do the honors of starting first.”
“Hm…” Tapping his chin meditatively, Momiji recalled that Kyo didn't like the glue on his hair from the `ears' taped to it. “Oh, oh, I got it now…”
And so went on the `improvement' process of one oblivious Neko.
After a time, Yuki noticed the sudden hushed atmosphere from beyond where he was sitting with the girls as they pampered themselves. By this time, Kureno joined him for tea, letting him know with his warm smile that all was well at the Honke. They had sat comfortably in the relaxed atmosphere as they stared out into the darkening forest, viewing the ocean tides coming in for the evening.
It nudged at first…just a nudge. Then it became a poke in his thoughts, then a jab at his chest. Definitely something was amiss. Yuki overheard the `soft' remarks of his brother in the living area as he jabbered on with Hatori about his upcoming Fall design line.
`No, nothing wrong there.' And of course the obvious hits him. `Where's Shigure? AND Momiji…Haru?'
Tense with where they could be, he got up, quietly told the others he needed to check on something but promised to return quickly. He swiftly made his way back inside, avoiding the room his brother and Hatori were in where they shared an electric fan, and checked the other stuffy rooms. After looking through most of the downstairs rooms that didn't include closets, he began to slightly become agitated.
`They can't be this quiet without committing some kind of felony…' Deciding that indoors was too quiet, he went to the front and stepped outside, noting that the skies were quickly darkening. It was in this stillness that he heard a loud snicker and hushed voices coming from beside the house.
Taking further steps around the gardens, he caught sight of the side veranda that had a view of the lush gardens and koi pond. They didn't usually sit out here when an ocean-view was just around the corner, literally. It was out of the way, but apparently the Neko enjoyed the solitude it provided. Not that he blamed Kyo…the Jyuunishi were a boisterous bunch on any given day.
`Well, they don't seem to be committing a felony…' Bewildered he came into view and the closer he got, the more slacked his jaw became, his eyes only widening more. `Okay, not committing a felony but definitely SUICIDE!'
“WHAT ARE YOU—” (Glomp)
“SSSHHH!” urged the Inu in a loud hush as he kept his hand over the Nezumi's mouth. “You'll wake him up!”
Giving the man an incredulous look, he shoved the hand away and glared at the other two whom unsuccessfully tried to distance themselves from the scene of the `crime'. “You two…stop.”
Evidence of their hand in this latest stunt was all over their hands. Shaking his head in disapproval, Yuki irately remarked, “What were you two THINKING? No, never mind, you weren't. Last time you guys did this, he sulked for TWO weeks, not to mention that he broke two picture frames, four shoji doors, busted a window, and broke four of Tohru-san's favorite dishes…by accident, and of course, being a JERK all the time when around ME! If he goes BESERK, which HE WILL—”
Abruptly hugging the slim youth, Shigure shushed him again. “Ssh, there, there. Here, lean on my shoulder.”
“GET OFF OF ME!” yelped Yuki.
The moan was clearly heard by all. Letting out sharp gasps, Momiji and Shigure apprehensively looked to the unconscious Neko, detecting for the slightest movement of life other than breathing. Haru abandoned his post next to the Usagi, having grown bored, to stand next to the fuming Nezumi who only leveled the look that meant he was to be scolded some more later on. He didn't mind…more time alone with his cherished one.
Momiji let out a sigh of relief sensing that Kyo was still very asleep. “Wow, that was close—”
“Tohru…mmmmHHHMMMmmm…heh, Mmmmm…that tickles.”
Guffawing suddenly, Shigure clamped his mouth shut just as quickly as he could. Oh, the video on his digicam is DEFINITELY going up on the Internet…DEFINITELY. “Well…ahem…we all have our dreams, don't we boys?”
Horrified that Kyo had thought of Tohru in that manner, albeit asleep, brought a hard blush to Momiji's features before it abruptly turned to uncontrollable giggles. Laughing silently and with a slap to the wall behind him, the younger teen shook his head in amazement. “Heh…he's…hahaha…(sniffles)…aw, I'm crying! This is TOO funny!”
Funny was not what crossed Yuki's mind. Not in the least.
Haru had thought little of the remarks made by Kyo. Hell, his dreams tended to be more livid when he had Rin in mind. But that's another story. Yet, he was suddenly aware that Yuki took one item from his arms and was marching quickly to the sleeping Neko.
“Yuki?” he asked bewildered. Slightly alarmed, he as well as the others wondered, `Is he going to wake him up with that foghorn? Should I stop him?'
The Nezumi reviewed their handiwork with a critical eye. The watercolors were a good mix on the Cat's face. It wouldn't be hard to take off after a good scrub. The usual whiskers were painted on along with the usual clown attributes, and this time they used a headband to attach kitty ears to his head without the use of glue. The shaving cream on the hands was a little cliché but it worked. He wondered about the lollipop stuck in the hair though…
Yuki suddenly went inside, leaving the others outside pondering on whether to continue their `improvement' project or run for the hills. And just as they were going to decide to lock themselves in a room, preferably until it was time to leave for home, Yuki came out carrying a pillow and a jar.
With a twist, the jar was opened and its gooey contents were poured all over the arms, chest, face… Chucking it aside, Yuki made quick work of the pillowcase and with the seams now opened, he emptied the feathery mass onto the slowly sputtering Neko. He then dropped the empty pillowcase and without another word turned on his heel and walked off.
Shigure snorted lightly and went to pick up his digicam from the shelf. “Eh, typical…honey and feathers. I was hoping for something a little more creative, ne Momi-chii?”
All stood to attention then as the offensive sound died into the dwindling day. ALL of them.
“Oh, damn…”
“Hey, Momiji, show me the way back to where Yuki is. He left without me.”
Yuki had nonchalantly walked back to the group on the other side of the veranda, his hands in his pockets since he had already tossed the foghorn into the bushes. He was glad to have shaken off all the remaining feathers from his person…those things stuck to anything and everything. As he approached the girls and Kureno who exclaimed to have heard a loud horn, he merely shrugged his shoulders and wordlessly settled down at his seat at the table.
`Hm…fresh tea. Kureno must have made some more.'
“THAT doesn't sound good,” commented Kagura.
Hiro, Kisa along with Hatori and Ayame rushed outdoors upon hearing the commotion. Seeing all was well with them, Hatori dared to ask, “Do I need my medical kit?”
Loud stomping shook the veranda as body after body skidded on the floor, crashed against the walls or each other, and quickly became blurs as they rushed past them all, making a sharp detour around the group on the veranda and continuing on their way…three towards escape from the apparent inferno and another towards bringing hell down on them. Shrieks of mercy along with pleas for help were heard throughout the parade. Snippets of words did come through, though…
Silence accompanied by chiming crickets.
“Ano…did Kyo-oniisan just came streaking by with kitty ears on his head?” asked Kisa uncertainly.
Shaking his head, Hiro headed inside with Kisa in tow. “I saw the cat's tail taped to his butt…I don't even want to think how they got it there.”
“Kyo-san was very…displeased,” remarked Ritsu nervously.
“Well, I'll say! I'd be livid myself if I was to wear something like THAT. If he had wanted to cosplay, he just needed to get in touch with me! I have plenty of daring outfits in the chest I brought with me that don't scream `fashion-death'.” Pouting slightly, Ayame leaned on Hatori's shoulder with a heavy sigh. “Tori-san, they wound me with their fashion sense. And how come Kyon-kichi took the apron I gifted you with? I wanted to see you wearing it tonight for dinner!”
`Should I thank Kyo?' thought Hatori irritably. He turned back inside with steady steps that led to his medical bag, mumbling lowly, “Tranquilizers will do the job just fine…strong ones.”
Glad their facials were done and over with, Tohru stood up and walked around to the edge of the veranda to see if she could look out into the greenery. Only hearing incoherent yelling, she turned to Kagura who stood by her with a consoling embrace.
Innocently, Tohru asked, “EH…um…I mean what did Kyo-kun mean with `taking their assets'? If he wanted their money or property, that's done at the bank, ne? He doesn't need to chase them around the house…they could trip and hurt themselves!”
“Yeah…right.” Smiling freely, Kagura turned to look heavenward. `Let her never lose the naivety. Any man's `assets' are not up for discussion to such virgin ears.'
Kureno looked around him and wondered how often this sort of thing happened. From the looks of things, it was enough to render everyone tired. `I'll be sure to watch what I do or say around Kyo-san…he's very much like Akito when he's like this.'
Kagura thought aloud upon realizing something. “You'd think they wouldn't want Kyo-kun to wake up with them so close by. I wonder then why they sounded off the horn.”
All wondered as well minus one smug Rat.
`Hm…the tea is very good.'
Dusk came upon the Honke as quietly as it always had in the past, the buzzing of insects stirring the air about along with the encroaching darkness bringing a starlit sky along with it. A cool breeze swept through the gardens, stirred the leaves of the tall trees, and lifted the soft hair of one individual leaning against the base of one large tree. It was a very special tree that held many fond memories of laughter and innocence from times past…a sanctuary amidst the darkness that enveloped her sanity.
Akito breathed in deeply, continually musing on earlier events with her conversation with Sohma Seto. As much as it irked her, she knew the weight he carried in the board of elders was significant. Yet it was not paramount. Still, many will wish to follow his foolish line of thinking and will try to question her decision when it came to the leadership of this cursed family. Hard times were ahead, even more so when she was losing much of her physical strength to the ailments of her own bloody curse.
`Filthy vermin…the lot of them. They are just foaming at the mouths, waiting to take their pickings…I would be ten minutes into my grave, and they'd already have wiped all traces of my existence from the estate. The fate of all that are `blessed' with my `gift' …a death in oblivion with not one soul to care or even remember…at least, that's what they're hoping for, I'm sure.'
“Damn these moments of clarity.” Running her hand through her hair in exasperation, she exhaled heavily, knocking her head against the unyielding bark of her favored tree with a soft thud. She looked to the patchy blue sky above her through the leafy branches, the need to go to sleep heavy on her body.
Tired of having her mind race by while her body was falling behind, she closed her eyes, carefully laying her head on her up-drawn knees. She took even, steady breaths to calm her racing mind, intent on putting all her burdens aside for the moment. Last thing she needed was to pass out here in the encroaching darkness where insignificant fools would spot her easily in her frail condition. Unacceptable.
Ceasing her previous line of thought, she began to wonder if the vacation her Jyuunishi were having was well enjoyed. She honestly didn't care either way…well, she did wish a tsunami would take Honda Tohru far and away into the depths of the sea…the Cat, too. Natural disasters…acts of `god'…it's all the same. But no, that wouldn't do. Caring less about the girl, should the Cat meet his demise early, the family would be in turmoil, and she'd have to deal with that mess as well. The Neko was a nuisance dead or alive…
“Why so lonely, Akito? Do you actually miss the Jyuunishi?”
She shouldn't have allowed her fatigue to let down her guard. A shame, really…she rarely indulged in it for this very reason. “Rin…your presence is like that of old fish…it reeks.”
The clan head before her barely shifted her position against the tree when Rin approached her. Immobile, uncaring…essentially blowing her off. Adding to that Akito's flippant remark immediately incensed the Horse. “And you still dodge the questions like the coward you are!”
“My, aren't we in such high spirits?” Finally heaving a sigh, Akito turned to her unwelcome visitor. Leveling a glare full of distaste, she tightly grinned, surly replying, “And what is a bitch like you running around in private grounds? Could it be that you are the one that misses me? I tend to have that affect on the Jyuunishi…”
Rin lashed out, “I would NEVER—”
“And yet, here you are. Pathetic…you never could admit the truth even to yourself. Just like never admitting who are your betters in this world…” Akito fluidly stood up on her feet, thankful that the rest she took was enough to keep her steady on her feet. Seeing Rin clenching her fists, visibly shaking as she held herself back from striking out, she couldn't help the glib comment. “Oh, come now. If you want to hit me, do go ahead and be done with it. Never hesitate. Have I taught you nothing my poor, child-abused Jyuunishi?”
“SHUT UP, BITCH!!!” screamed Rin with a rage that shook her lithe frame even more, daring to take one step closer to the clan head.
“Already using harsh language to the one that ALLOWS your roaming privileges? Ungrateful child…” Shaking her head with feigned disappointment, Akito abruptly smirked, leaning closer into the infuriated Horse of Zodiac, unfazed that their faces were inches apart. “You know you can't hit me, don't you? You at least admit that to yourself, ne? Yet, you still try…and fail. You know it thrills me to see you fail.”
Rin was aiming to derive some truths from Akito when she finally gathered enough nerve to confront the clan head. Unfortunately, past history just couldn't be overcome, no matter how much she told herself to let it go. Being thrown out a window apparently had a lasting effect on her psyche…not counting the mental barrage of hearing the clan head's twisted words or the times she found herself confined in quarters she dared not wish anyone to be secluded in.
Still, much was going on in the bonds of the Jyuunishi that couldn't be ignored. She knew this well and with everyone out, particularly the drones that were the elder Jyuunishi that always protected the clan head in some form or another, she aimed to get it straight from Akito as to what she was up to. The clan head must know…she knew everything, right?
She wasn't going to have her answers today unfortunately. Even though she caught Akito off-guard and alone, the clan head was formidable in her presence alone, past experiences more than guaranteed that this time wouldn't be any different, no matter how ill Akito may be. If that weren't bad enough, she couldn't fathom the words she wanted to say and instead resorted to the old refrain common between them. It was a pointless confrontation after all.
“Say what you want, Akito, but someday you'll regret ever making ME your enemy. You will,” she tersely remarked, her coal-black eyes hard and unyielding at the bane of her existence.
“Oh, but it'll be you that'll carry these regrets…I'll be long dead before I can bother with them.” Akito took swift steps back to her sanctuary, tired of having to be in close proximity of this smelly being…horses really do smell horribly. Waving off the enraged Jyuunishi, she leaned against the tree with a heavy sigh. “Now, be the good little girl that you aren't and leave me. I wish to return to my solitude…unless you want your punishment now…
Rin clenched her jaws tightly, knowing that Akito had not meant the last part as a threat. Not wanting to incur the wrath of such a punishment at this time, she turned on her booted heel, flicking her dark hair over her shoulder, her anger now more aimed at herself for not getting what she needed out of Akito.
`STUPID. Why can't I just say it…just SAY IT!' “You always take the easy way out, pampered bitch.”
The words that wouldn't come together before in her mind coherently now spilled forth in a grumble before she thought them through. She was scolded constantly by Haru to watch what she said since it tended to land her in trouble all the time. Time and again she ignored him, declaring that she never regretted saying anything she spoke since she spoke the bitter truth. But now…she knew.
That was not the thing to say…and to Akito of all people.
She felt instant pain and hissed as she felt her head snap back abruptly, enough so that she fell on her butt. She quickly got to her knees and was about to stand when another yank on her long hair by the scalp had her sending fiery glares at the clan head that held her captive. Repressing further hisses of pain, she gritted her teeth and tightly demanded, “Let me go.”
“You don't make the demands here…I do. And if you insist on struggling, I will rip out your hair and leave you for BALD! You don't have Hatori around to patch up your worthless self!” The glares of this spirited Horse remained fixed, but the struggles did stop. Akito then sneered at her willful Jyuunishi and then abruptly smacked her hard across the face several times before she relented, shoving the injured girl to the ground.
All was still around them, holding its breath as if the wrath of `God' was still in force. Yet, as is usual with Akito, the stormy rage she held dissipated as quickly as it came. She took deep breaths to calm her raging blood as she leaned heavily against her most treasured tree on the grounds. It wouldn't do to have bad memories associated around here…she refused to have that.
“Now, if you are QUITE done, get up and go WITHOUT your baseless commentaries.” Looking out to the darkening gardens around them, Akito softly continued, “You know NOTHING of what I do to keep all your asses safe from the world.”
Huffing slightly, Rin struggled to her feet, cupping her reddening cheek and spitting out bloody saliva from having bitten into her cheek accidentally during the quick assault. Feeling the ache of her pulled hair lessening, she turned to Akito and bitterly seethed, “Safe? SAFE?! I'd rather take my chances out there in the outside world you're so afraid of than live in this hell you made for us!
Chuckling lightly at the angered girl, Akito grinned as she slid down to sit once more against the base of the tree. Closing her eyes with a sigh, she remarked with a bored air, “The `outside' world you're so fond of is NOT of what I speak. But your mind is so little and small and SIMPLE…you can't comprehend anything complicated, so I will not explain myself.”
Not taking the bait to anger herself further, Rin held her chin high as she looked down on the simpering clan head. She passionately spoke out, “Laugh now, but when everything is done and over with, you'll be DEAD, and I'll be free of YOU and this family. I won't live my life like YOU have…alone and hated! I will actually have someone that's not afraid to love me and not one thought of ours will EVER remember YOU.”
The resting clan head barely stirred at the cutting remarks from the Horse. After a few tense moments, she did open her eyes and gave the blades of grass beneath her a sour look. “'Love'…” she spat in distaste, “…coming from your mouth only makes it sound all the more WEAK and PITIABLE to cling to.”
Rin's frail hold on her temper was about to snap again when she reined it in with great effort at the last moment. Shuddering with repulsion, she recalled the times she was in the company of other Jyuunishi and Akito herself used the word often enough. She personally always thought it creepy at first, then a bona fide lie after personal encounters with the clan head's displeasure. It was a mockery, truly, on having to hear Akito utter such a thing with that smile that only tarnished the good word.
Coming across another thought, she lashed back matter-of-factly, “Not that I'm surprised that you LOATHE the word, especially when you throw it around at the other Jyuunishi like a hypocrite, but…no…you do LOVE your Rat. Anyone with a blind eye can see THAT. What you do for him…all of it…that's your abhorred `love'.”
Looking darkly at the petulant teen through her thick lashes and strands of unruly hair, Akito barely blinked an eye as she whispered to the silence of the night, “Love my Rat? No…and that is a truth you'll NEVER understand. Now, GET OUT.”
Rin silently agreed as she stomped away, for once in her life, intent on escaping the cold malice aimed not only at her but also at another she cared for deeply of who Akito knew well. It was a definite end to their turbulent conversation.
Tohru drank her cold milk in the loud silence of the dark night, glad to feel the liquid fill her hungry tummy satisfactorily. She hadn't eaten as much at dinner as she normally would have because she was busily attending to the injured Jyuunishi. Hatori had tended to their injuries sustained from the `chase across the world'—as Ayame excitedly referred to the escape they tried to make from an enraged Neko. However, the tender care of the family physician took its own ugly turn when he disciplined them severely by taking their ears into his custody…
She remembered tending to those pulled ears, all red and swollen. Her heart went out to them despite Hatori telling her to leave them to fend for themselves. Kyo, Momiji, Shigure, and even Haru winced from slight pain even as they prepared for bed. Kyo especially was a bit tender in more spots than one…he had no shoes on as he chased down the perpetrators, and so, his feet had its share of cuts and bruises. She recalled well the loud complaints and the occasional expletives when the poor guy soaked for two hours in the bathtub as the dried honey came off along with the stubborn feathers.
Still, she couldn't blame Hatori for being as angry as he was…the feuding family members did tear through a bonsai garden, one tree calculated at being eighty years old now irreparably damaged. Besides this, the usual damage ensued…broken shoji doors…window shutters hanging on their hinges…feathers that stuck to everything…
`At least Yuki-kun helped. He was so kind to help me with preparing ice packs for them.' She finished her drink and washed her glass, drying it with a cloth and settling it back into the cupboard.
Feeling tired, but not sleepy, she decided to take a stroll outside, knowing that although tonight was quite eventful, it was actually their last night before leaving tomorrow evening. They had settled to pop the fireworks in the early twilight hours before heading out, the whole watermelon smashing also to take place at that time. So, for the little peace and quiet she wanted to feel one last time before all this came about, she soundlessly slipped on her sandals and a warm sweater, and then slid out of the house and into the dark woods surrounding the home.
She would have just taken a stroll on the veranda, but the earlier damage from the Jyuunishi rampage wasn't picked up yet. Not wanting to injure herself and be a cause of concern for the others, she confidently made her way down the dim path that lead her through the thick trees, happy that thanks to her earlier experience of striking it out on her own long ago, she was no longer afraid of going alone in the woods. Taking measured steps, she finally reached the borderline of the dark trees and the shining whiteness of the beach just ahead.
The immense evening sky glittered with thousands of stars along with a bright moon looked down on her as she quietly made her way across the sandy beach. She certainly felt the warmth that the sandy grains still retained after a blistering sunny day. Yet, despite the warmth these held, the cool ocean breeze almost made her turn back.
`I shouldn't have slept in my pajama shorts…my legs are so cold!' Wrapping her arms around her middle, she slipped the sleeves further down her hand to cover them as well. Teeth chattering just a bit, she deeply breathed in the sea-foam scent and closed her eyes to fully ingrain this peace into memory.
“AAAAIIIIEEEEEEE!!!!!” As her screech sounded thick and small out there, she whirled around and very nearly fell if not for the hand that held her wrist firmly. Blinking with apparent shock, she clutched her chest and heaved a sigh of relief. “Yuki-kun, you startled me! I didn't even see you…or even hear you! Did I wake you…I'm sorry!”
“It's okay,” stressed Yuki as he held her shoulders as momentary comfort. “You didn't wake me…I was already here for some time. Didn't you see me sitting over there?”
“Eh?” With a morbid realization, she groaned loudly, hiding her face in shame. “I'm so sorry! I…I was so lost in my thoughts, I suppose. I wasn't even paying attention with who else would be here.”
Taking her hands away from her face, Yuki gently replied, “It's fine…there's no reason to suspect that anyone of us would be out here at this hour. Besides…you're supposed to get lost in your thoughts when you come out here in the dead of the night.”
“OH! Yuki-kun…you're HERE!” Flustered and becoming more flushed that she just stated the most apparent fact, she stilled her tumbling thoughts before continuing. “I…I mean, you're here, too… NO…that is to say, why? NO! I'm sorry, now I'm prying…”
Yuki smiled broadly but refrained from laughing out loud at her expense. Removing her hands again from her reddened cheeks, he assured her once more, “It's okay. You're not prying. I'll tell you, but let's sit down. It's less cold on the ground.”
She settled herself comfortably next to him, drawing up her knees as he did to wrap her arms around them, his choice of wear similar to her own. She agreed wholeheartedly that the sand shared its warmth with her. “You're right. Arigatou.”
Both shared a sigh that was lost to the ocean tide crashing into the beach. With the moonlight, they could see the far horizon of dark, murky ocean depths meeting equally dark and murky skies above it, the waves glinting softly when the light hits them just right. The stillness the evening presented enveloped in her a peace she felt in her bones, so much so that she was startled as she heard Yuki speak out.
“It was a…trying…kind of day. I'm here clearing my head.” Heaving a heavier sigh, a look of melancholy crossed his face momentarily. “Actually, it's been that kind of summer…”
She almost missed the softer comment he made just then, the ocean waves crashing against the sand were louder at that moment. It became apparent that he was hunched over his knees not so much to keep in warmth, but because of the invisible burdens he'd been carrying. Burdens he wasn't sharing with anyone…he never did.
`And he's been holding himself up all this summer…alone…' Tohru became saddened at this, finding fault that while she's had one of the most memorable summers she's ever had—a new job that paid well and kept her close to her surrogate family, a new home she shares with her best friends, meeting new members of the Sohma house along with being invited to their big party or gala as Kyo called it. It's been a blissful season so far…so carefree, yet…
The world the Sohmas lived in revolved as it always did. She knew this and knew that the Jyuunishi were unusually stressed due to how their world was revolving. But…how? And most importantly, why?
“So, what were you doing out here at this time of night? Were you having trouble sleeping?” asked Yuki.
Casting aside her hesitations and doubts, Tohru came to a decision. She abruptly knelt in front of Yuki, bracing her hands on his bare feet. Stunned with how boldly her body went to work without fully consulting her mind, she inwardly shook away her rising apprehension and looked up at the face that had caught her attention (along with so many others) years ago.
It was the same beautiful face with a set of gray-violet eyes that held anyone captive long after they met him. Yet his countenance now attained a more refined, mature structure…no longer that of a young teenager but that of a young man. A young man whose mesmerizing gaze was now staring into her own lost stare…
Slightly blushed at the intimate contact as she leaned in further, he stammered, “To-Tohru-san? Is there something the matter?”
“I remember the first day I saw you…” Her eyes once focused now took on the familiar far-away look she usually had, only this time she was fully aware of where her mind took her. With a wistful air, she smiled fondly, “You were at your foot locker, neatly putting away your shoes. You had your bag slung over your shoulder. I was surprised…obviously… You had such…pretty hair, even if the color of it was different. It was soft…I could tell. Then you turned around.”
As he listened, he looked away as he recalled the first moment he saw her years ago as a child. She never knew because he never told her. He had wanted to…heaven knows he's wanted to tell her for so long. Timing…circumstance…it never came together for him to tell her. And now…it would be too awkward to reveal something so trivial in nature. Really, what girl would care to remember that bad memory of being lost and alone, only to have a weird kid help her out in the end? She had kept the hat, though…
Mentally he steered away from that…now wasn't the moment to think about it. Instead he tried desperately to recall that time he first met her at school. Sadly, in his freshman year, he was very despondent and distant to the world surrounding him…at home and at school. It was extremely alien to walk up to the co-ed school, hyper-aware of his `condition'. He was so out of place… It was no wonder he had vague recollections of those times…he was just so lost to his misery.
“I know you'll think this awful of me, but, really…you scared me!” she exclaimed.
`Well, that's a first.' Smiling, he curiously asked, “Scared? Was I that hideous?”
“No, not at all like that! I mean…well, yes, I was petrified, but it was because you were so…unique.” Looking off to the side as she contemplated her explanation, she grinned in further recollection of her memory. “I've never, NEVER, known of anything `unique' before. I had my Okaa-san then and my best friends…it was the most ordinary life that I loved with all that I had. Then I saw your face…so different and amazing. It was the air all around you, too. You just…brought a light so bright into my life by just passing me by… I was so scared that you'd walk away, and that I'd never see anything so wonderful ever again. And then…you were in my class.”
He looked at her face that filled with wonder upon saying that, his smile becoming bright, his thoughts bringing him memories of all their years together. Until recently, he could always recall his moments with her and not blink at the troubles that surrounded him constantly. Such times seem so simple now compared to how times are nowadays…
“Sometimes I wish we could go back to when it was all just…less.” He couldn't face her then, afraid that she'd see the loneliness that exists only when surrounded by many. In all honesty, this trip was arranged not only for her to enjoy their company, but also for him to escape the painful realties that were weighing him down so much and that were waiting for him when they returned home.
`Not much of the -responsible- attitude that I'm supposed to have… Hn…where did my `can do' thinking go?' He wryly mused that wherever it went, it left him with the doubt that he's been trying to ignore…one very real and possibly fatal doubt that if he failed to be of help to his family…to the Jyuunishi…his world could once again come apart as it did years ago when Akito's father died.
Thusly, he was contemplating this when Tohru came upon him at this late hour. That plus the twists and knots in his stomach kept him from going back to sleep—after having dreamt of falling steadily with no end in sight, his gaze locked not on the ground he knew was below him, but high above him, the sky becoming pitch black the further he fell, he figured that it would be the last time he ever ate one of Ayame's `tribute to the culinary arts' in the form of a sponge cake.
`He offered it to no one else…just to me. And it tasted like rubber; felt like it, too, in my stomach. But I just couldn't say `no'…he was just so proud of it.' He could vividly recall the Inu's smirk at having been witness to the retribution unknowingly passed onto him. Rubbing his middle lightly, he licked his dry mouth, wondering if the taste would ever leave his mouth. He'll think twice next time about eating anything experimental from his brother…he hated the notion of falling in a dream. `Especially in the dark from high places…I really don't like heights.'
“Growing up.” Noting the startled and inquisitive gaze from Yuki at her remark, Tohru looked wistfully to the skies above her, breathing in heavily the ocean smell. “Okaa-san would always try to keep our spirits high when times were hard on us. Working as much as she did—she would make sure I had everything even when we had so little. That's hard to explain…but I know I didn't lack anything, so, that is sort of like having everything, right?”
She looked down once again to the soft gaze of her companion, smiling brokenly at further thoughts of her mother during those difficult times. “Still, late at night, when she'd think that I've gone to sleep, I would watch her when the door was cracked open. She'd have this slump to her shoulders, holding her head on her hands as she talked to Otou-san. Sometimes it was too soft to hear…other times, it was loud enough. One time, though, she had said the same thing…about going back to a time when it was all less…hard. But she then told him that she understood…it's what being a grown up was about—to do the hard things for the ones that couldn't do it for themselves. (Pause) Yuki-kun…I think you've had to be more of a grown-up than most of us had to be when we graduated high school…even before then, I'm sure.”
He couldn't help the wry grin. “Tohru-san, I don't live on my own. I even have to rely on my idiot cousin to take care of me. I can't cook…cleaning is dangerous…washing the laundry even more so. And I've never worked a day in my life outside of student council duties and helping Shihan at the dojo. Considering all that…I'm not much of a grown-up. No, not at all.” Giving her winning smile, he leaned in closer and remarked, “You've done all that and then some way before you graduated high school. You're definitely the grown-up between us. And I'm very proud of that fact.”
Looking bashfully to the side, she blushed heavily before shaking away her embarrassment, determined to get her thoughts straight. “Thank you…but…it takes more. So much more. I see my Okaa-san in you. Like when you talk…strong and steady and certain…just so sure of what you say is true and there's no doubt about it. And when you walk…Okaa-san would say that you `own it'. When she told me that and for a long time, I didn't know what that meant but until I really saw you walk…you don't hold back from being who you are as you walk. Just like…just like the very first time at your foot locker…you passed me by and `owned it'. You were so young then but a true grown-up even then.”
`If she only knew how I begged to disappear into the walls when I walked in school.' Softly grinning, he asked in a whisper, “If I'm this kind of grown-up, then what would you tell me if my talk became unsure, weak even? If my walk became hesitant…what then? If my doubt shows through, or worse, if I should fail…tell me, what would you say to me then?”
His questions softly asked were heavy in the sudden stillness of the evening. Tohru never once took her hands away from his feet, only noting that the breeze softly brushed along his strands of hair across his face. And looking into those compelling set of eyes that she will never forget—those eyes that looked to her for answers as her mother looked to her father for the very same thing—she realized what it truly meant to be the grown-up.
“I would say to you that I'll be the strong one when you are weak. When you can't talk because you're not sure of yourself, I'll still listen anyway. When you can't walk without doubting the steps you take, I'll be there walking right beside you wherever you decide to go. And even if you do fail, I'll still be there. I won't stand on the sidelines and just watch…not anymore. I'll be right there with you, Yuki-kun.
A wave of shock…relief…and the overwhelming sense that he was not alone…he no longer felt alone. Wiping gently the silent tears from her cheeks, he faintly nodded, quietly remarking, “Thank you…”
“Oh my!” She stood up abruptly and bashfully wiped her eyes on her sleeve, embarrassed yet again at her silliness. “I'm sorry…me and my tears! What next?”
“I think they look very pretty on you.” Realizing that she only dug herself further into her sleeve as she furiously wiped away her tears, he chuckled lightly and stood up, dusting himself off. Worried that she just might wipe away her very eyes at this rate, he took her hands gently into his own, forcing her to look at him curiously. “You know, even grown-ups like to take a break every now and then. Come on.”
“EH?” As she was dragged along by the hand across the beach at a brisk pace, she called out, “Ano, Yuki-kun…where are we going?!”
Grinning mischievously, he looked over his shoulder and commented, “Didn't you say you'd follow me, even if I wasn't sure where I was going?”
Stunned, she almost stopped in her pace. She smiled widely as she, too, walked quickly right alongside him.
“Wherever you go Yuki-kun, I'll follow. I will…always.”
Light laughter carried by the breeze…child-like and so innocent.
Flower petals falling all around him.
Shrieks of joy heard in the distance.
Brightly lit day…so bright, the blue sky is blocked out by the shine of the sun.
“Come on! This way…look over here!”
The blooms from the tree carried away in the breeze.
Further laughter comes closer.
A field of blooms surrounds him.
“Look! Isn't it pretty?”
The smile of the boy's innocent joy took his breath away.
“Koko is very pretty. You like my koneko, too, right?”
The tender cradling of a child with his pet amidst a sea of swaying flowers.
“Come on…try to catch me! Let's go, Koko…he's going to try to catch us!”
The field of blooms part as the boy runs through it with glee, a whisper then heard loudly.
“May the peace and tranquility…”
The young boy twirling in the field of blooms, holding his kitten high in the air.
“…be with my family…”
Ocean-blue eyes stare at him with trust from afar, the kitten cradled tenderly, the sleeves of his kimono billowing in the gentle breeze.
“Are you still afraid of the rats?” The boy's small left hand reaches out. He softly smiles. “Rest your fears…I'll protect you…Eldest Brother.”
“…and always.”
The gaze of a cat, no matter how young, penetrated the soul of any living being…especially the unwavering stare from this blue-eyed kitten. A stare that stripped him bare. An icy chill hit him from behind. He sharply gasps.
“You are fortunate to have the luxury of this warning.”
Darkness…palpable and bitter with malice. Softly spoken into his ear. He sharply turns around. A fire…cold, bitter cold…consuming the dark horizon in the distance.
“Let none escape my wrath.”
Again softly heard just over his shoulder. Looks behind him…no child…no kitten…no field of blooms.
“Betrayal is the deadliest of blades…hidden in the deepest of shades…”
He runs through the gray field of broken flower stems. Searching desperately…where's the child? Silence…
“A traitor within…”
Raspy breathing.
“Eliminate all threats…”
Sharp pain to his chest as he tries to breathe…choking.
“Spare their lives?”
Gasping for breath…running into oblivion…blood pounding in his ears.
“I never said I would.”
Over and over these last few were heard in front of him…from behind him…to the side…never-ending…never warm. Why won't they be silent? Where's the child?
“If only it can be undone…”
The dark night upon a field of dead blooms seen clearly. Words spoken softly in despair…a familiar voice.
“If only the light can shine in the darkest of plights…”
Field of dead blooms end. The tree…imposing, even though it's bare of leaves. Stillness all around. She has her back turned from him. Where's the boy?
“If only I hadn't failed…”
Her left hand touches the trunk of the massive tree. Impact tremors felt in the ground…harder…closer. Where's the boy?
“If only…”
Closer. Silence heavy with only the tremors coming very close.
“If only…”
Where's the boy? He's much too innocent…
“If only…you DIE!”
Screams of insanity…screams of pain…screams of death…all around…all at once. Tremors fiercely shake the ground beneath him. Bursts of light periodically lit the sky. Loud knocking heard from directly behind him. He runs to her but she's not there anymore. He runs into nothing…dead blooms all around. Turns back. Whispers that turn the hot blood bitterly cold heard beyond in the darkness. The darkness is frigid…suffocating…
“The honor to welcome you is all mine.”
A hand on his shoulder from behind. He whirls around…shaken. She looks haunted…horror-stricken…
He could only beg her. `Tell me where the boy with his kitten is!'
She hugs him fiercely. “If only I can remember…”
He feels wet. Her kimono's wet…no, sticky. He holds her away. He balks at the image before him…cannot think…cannot speak… Pushes her away and looks at his hands and body… Looks to her tear-stricken face. She quietly whispers…
“This blood is not mine.”
In a tangle of soaked sheets, Kyo lurches awake and abruptly stands up. Half-asleep, he runs into a dresser and knocks down a lamp. The others were already by his side, his thrashing while lost in his nightmare having woken them up. Hiro turns on the light switch as Momiji reaches out to Kyo.
“KYO! WAKE UP!” Momiji barely restrains the rampant Neko from behind. Several struggles later, his voice took a softer tone. “Kyo…sssh, it's all right. You're awake now. Calm down…you're awake now.”
Heavily panting, Kyo had definite trouble catching his breath. He knew he was standing on his own two feet, bathed in the light of the bedroom that was large enough to accommodate him and the others. He was here, not there. He was not stuck in that horrific dream anymore…he was here, not there…
“Here. Drink this,” offered Momiji as he took Kyo's hand and placed a glass of water in his hand. Assured that Kyo held the cup on his own, Momiji settled the pitcher of water back on the dresser, glad that it didn't tilt and break when Kyo ran into the dresser. He was already in enough trouble with Hatori…the punishment of two weeks grounded when he returned home was hard enough to bear as it was.
“Yo, Kyo…you're…bleeding.” Hiro stood back against the door, warily looking at the two. Gesturing with a nod, he pointed out, “Your wrist…with the beads. You're bleeding from there.”
Kyo was still dazed and groggily looked to his left wrist, still not comprehending what the teen meant. `My wrist…my bracelet…it's heavy.'
“Yipes! Let me see, Kyo,” remarked Momiji worriedly, taking a small cloth from a drawer and dipping it into the glass pitcher. Carefully taking Kyo's wrist, he dabbed the cloth on the bleeding wound. “It looks…blistered. I'd say to take off your bracelet, but you'd say no. Why don't I get Hatori to look at this—?”
“NO,” cut in Kyo as he hid his wrist from Momiji's inspection. Having taken a few gulps of water to quench his parched throat, he felt better and more aware of the searing pain from his wrist. He immediately wished this had not happened, the witnesses to his private hell would only ask questions that he had no answers to.
Downing the remaining water, he set the glass on the dresser, cradling his wrist carefully so as not to put pressure on the burn. He gave them his trademark annoyed stare, if only to keep them from thinking that he was still rattled by his nightmare. “It's fine, thanks anyway. You guys get back to sleep. I'll just head into the kitchen downstairs to take care of this burn.”
Momiji couldn't believe that Kyo would just brush off his burn or his violent nightmare as nothing more that what they were. “But, Kyo, how did you get your burn? Are you sure you'll be able to sleep after what you just—”
“I'm FINE. Leave it alone, Usagi. You've been a big enough pain in the ass already for one night.” Not wanting to face the inquisitive and worried gaze of the concerned teen any longer, Kyo rushed out past the other silent teen into the darkened hallway, careful to keep his footing quiet so as not to wake the others.
“Kyo,” whispered Momiji as he made to follow him. The door was suddenly shut, one pensive Sheep staring intently at him. “Hiro, his eyes were HUGE and completely dilated. He was as white as SNOW…and that's hard for Kyo to do since he's so tanned.”
Hiro moved from his position abruptly and went to clean up the mess left by the Neko. “Yeah…imagine what crap scared the hell out of him, Momiji. Leave him alone to deal with it the way he wants to.”
Heavily sighing, Momiji began to help as well, gathering up the cold sheets Kyo left behind in his haste to escape his dream. It was quiet amongst them, until he was startled by the soft remark from Hiro.
“You felt it, didn't you?” asked the Sheep quietly while chucking the broken lamp pieces into the trash bin.
Momiji stilled immediately. “You mean the tremor in our bond?”
Neither said more after that.
Kyo wished to have never felt anything of what he was feeling at the moment outside on the veranda.
A sense of hysteria surrounded him, even after two more glasses of water and much deep breathing later. The bandage around his wrist did little to keep his thoughts from returning to that living hell that existed in that nightmare. All previous nightmares never held that depth of sorrow or anguish in its words or the sheer desperation to find the innocence that was lost to it all.
`Tohru…the little boy with that kitten. They're innocent and lost in that hellhole. The boy doesn't want her to remember, but she needs to remember…to know what happened. Dammit…what can I do?! How can I help?!'
Laughter…full of warmth and joy that knew no ill will from anyone…it was heard distantly. So he looks out…and sees far below. And his blood turned cold once again…his raging thoughts stilled in this moment.
She was happy. Running around with a large blow-up beach ball that was too large to hold onto, she still kicked it high into the air for her companion to do the same. Her laughter rang clearly through the evening skies…
He was happy. He caught hold of the large blow-up beach ball to thrust it back into the air for her to kick back to him. His laughter…the Nezumi's joy…was heard clearly in the evening skies.
Neither noticed the audience from far away, each too carefree and enjoying the close moment between them…just the two of them. And as Tohru set the ball aside to grasp a hold of the Nezumi's hands, Yuki followed her without hesitation. She smiled brilliantly and looked to the skies, encouraging her companion to do the same.
And that's when the most caring and treasured person in Kyo's world began to break away from the young girl he had first met in a room after crashing through a ceiling to become the young woman that twirled under a starlit evening sky with open arms.
And she shared this innocence as a young woman with none other than Yuki…
For what it's worth…(06-22-07):
My goodness…long and good. That's my official verdict on this chapter release. One of the biggest moments in my fic is now over and done with. YEAH, BABY!
Ahem, yes, it was long, but hopefully very satisfying. This chapter was the main reason behind the `beach' episodes in my fic. Particularly the Yukiru moments and Kyo's fiasco along with his nightmare sequences…the gist of all of these was put together back in 2004. Wow…it was a long time in coming!
Oh, by the way, translation to Kagura's early remark about the facials: `Mmm, Rit-chan, the facial masque you made feels great!' Come on girls, agree with me…those lovely facial masques are hard on the lips!
Once again, my early portion of the chapter centers on basically bringing everyone together and allowing the story to flow through…with a detour along the way. The repeat assault on Kyo's person was too good to pass up, especially the part that ticked off the Rat. Heheheh, I loved that part in particular. Ayame in all his glory was also a trip to write up! It took me a while to get all this put together, but that's likely because I was trying to get this `tie-over' of this chapter done with quickly…it fought me for a little bit.
Rin and Akito…you know it just had to happen. These two gals can fight with no holding back the insults. I wanted to stay true to their characters and how they interact with each other…hopefully I did. I barely recall those instances with them together in the canon manga…it wasn't pretty at all. Essentially we have here Rin trying to get her answers but failing miserably. Akito's condition is emphasized, and so you can't expect her to go all out on the Horse…she'd collapse and that must never happen. How do you like my take on the `love' these two ladies talked about? Bet you didn't think I'd have Akito say what she had said. This part was executed just barely from my end…but it held great meaning so hopefully I did good. Yes, readers, remember this!
The Yukiru was the moment to blow away all previous Yukiru moments. It had to have an impact on their relationship…a sort of crossroads that now are leading them in a different direction from before. It also had to bring Tohru back into Yuki's life in a way that showed that while he was maturing in his own way, so had she and she was ready to step up to the challenges she knew existed. In the wee hours of night/early morning, I came up with this part, and I'm soooo happy with it. Are you?
Kyo…my oh my. We have a problem, Cat. His nightmares now take an ugly twist and turn and one big HUH?! Yeah, it's getting more detailed…and grisly from the looks of it. Koko is now clearly identified but that's the least of Kyo's concerns…a boy is missing and `Tohru' can't help him. What's he going to do? And add to that fact that when he wakes up and goes off, he spies the duo at the beach, clearly noticing the marked differences between them, particularly from Tohru's side. Oh dear…none of this bodes well…
How about Momiji/Hiro discussing the `tremor' in their bond? More like they acknowledged it… Remember these moments…we are soon approaching the climatic moments in the Tournament. I calculate two chapters `til then…the interview and Obon…along with wonderful leading moments from Kyo and the others! And just to keep you on your toes…the Tournament is where my mayhem truly begins! I think you'll hate me when I end the `summer' segment…it'll be a cliff-hanger to end all!
Musical moments brought to you by many gifted artists that I loved listening to as the chapter was put together. For Kyo's infamous chase, “Black Horse on a Cherry Tree” by KT Tundstall (I'm VERY sorry if I misspelled). It was fun to listen to…!
For the tense moments with Akito/Rin and the despairing moments with Kyo plus Yuki's, I was really into “Toy Soldiers” by Martika. The song was clearly written with another purpose in mind, but the lyrics were great for these moments, too. Each one of them is falling apart from within with little hope in sight…and yet they still march on.
The Yukiru was all about being together and just so beautiful. “Truly, Madly, Deeply” by Savage Garden, “I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You” by Tina Arena and Marc Anthony, and “Amaranthine” by Enya—all these songs are beautiful and uplifting and just wonderful. I love my Yukiru…it was a long time coming!
Note, for added understanding and reading pleasure, brush up on the sidefics I've posted for this storyline. It really helps put certain things together for you! Also previous chappies you may wish to review: Chapter 20, 29, 36, 39, 40…whew, there's a lot. This'll do.
I wish to thank all my reviewers/readers, old and new, for continuing to support my fic despite the rollercoaster ride I'm putting you guys through. You are all the best and greatest…here on fanfiction-dot-net and with mediaminer… Don't forget that your words of wisdom/encouragement/bashing are the fuel I need to keep going with my fic. I can't have done this or gone this far with my fic without that kind of support, so please share your thoughts with me…good and bad.
Here's to seeing you all in my next release! Ja ne!