Fruits Basket Fan Fiction ❯ Seasons of Sorrow ❯ Embers of Summer's Glory = Let our tears fall where they may... ( Chapter 60 )

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

DISCLAIMER: As always, original Fruits Basket characters credited to Takaya-sensei. I claim the storyline and subsequent anarchy my fiction works create.
Embers of Summer's Glory
Chapter 60: Let our tears fall where they may…
(Whish, whish…PHWOO)
Their suite was large and open, exquisite furniture strategically placed throughout for optimal comfort.
(Whish, whish…PHWOO)
Large floor-to-ceiling windows adorned the corner suite, its two over-sized walls of glass overlooking the arena floor below.
(Whish, whish…PHWOO)
Constant chatter from his fellow Jyuunishi was all around him, with one in particular intent on getting him to open his mouth to eat a strawberry.
(Whish, whish…PHWOO)
Apples were now flying over his head…why? It didn't matter, though…
(Whish, whish…PHWOO)
Coaxing from his Inu friend to open his `wide trap' didn't faze him either.
(Whish, whish…PHWOO)
`But dammit if that's all I can focus on!' Turning his annoyed glare towards the offender, Hatori bit out, “Can't you stop pouting for TEN minutes?!”
(Whish, whish…PHWOO)
“Now, Haa-san…all Aya is doing is buffing his nails,” remarked Shigure calmly as he ate the strawberry the doctor refused to eat. `Very yummy. Too bad he refused…his loss.'
(Whish, whish…PHWOO)
“You know as well as I do that he only does that when he POUTS.” Rising with a huff from his seat by the window, Hatori dodged another apple (`why are those two chucking produce at each other?') and stood over the seated Snake who was ignoring his presence for once. Leaning down, he `reasoned' with the man, “AYAME…your MOPING won't return your prized tea. You're just buffing the life out of your nails at this rate…STOP IT.”
(Whish, whish…PHWOO)
“Haa-san, we both know that Aya will stop when he gets his way. And you know he ALWAYS get his way.” An orange landed too close to a delicate body part, causing him to immediately protect it with his hands. Tersely smiling, Shigure quickly stood up and boldly declared to the dueling Jyuunishi, “Momichii, Hiro-chan…I don't care who had said the other was a `smelly, wet livestock' or who had suggested that the other was a `dimwitted bunny with cavities', but the very NEXT TIME I find danger in close proximity to my heirs, I WILL start raising some sort of hell. Okay?
(Whish, whish…PHWOO)
“Eh…look, Megumi-kun! Look over here by the window at the huge crowd below us! Aren't you glad we got to move up here to…uh, `enjoy' the rest of the tournament than being down in the bleachers with thousands of people?” Aside from trying to distract her companion, Kisa also put forth her best smile to keep matters as normal as can be had with her family's peculiar habits of steering clear of overcrowded conditions. Currently the arena was filled to capacity and per their agreement that included the personal escort, she along with her fellow Jyuunishi were marched right up to the suite during the lunch hour, minus those actually participating in the tournament. She was just grateful for having her elder Jyuunishi members present today…they convinced the tight security to allow her friends access to be up here with them.
That may not have been so wise. Eyewitnesses to her fellow Jyuunishi's odd habits could raise something more than just a few eyebrows…
(Whish, whish…PHWOO)
“Your relatives are certainly…livelier when they're together in a room,” remarked Megumi carefully as he eyed Ritsu trying to piece together a broken flower vase and all the while tearfully asking for forgiveness from nonexistent staff members. It was a simple accident as the young man was trying to film his girlfriend down below them when it was her turn in the final rounds for the women's division.
(Whish, whish…PHWOO)
“This is too awesome, Yubo! We can see the whole floor from up here…no problems,” happily pointed out Shinpachi while standing nose-pressed to the window overlooking the women's division matches.
“Or you could just look up at the plasma screen TV on this wall,” added Yunosuke from his seat on the couch facing the wood panel wall with the large screen TV. It was depicting LIVE images of the tournament, and as a devoted little brother, he was determined to see as closely as possible his older brother win his match when the time came. He was personally glad to be up in the suite if only for this reason.
“HAI!!! Did you see Kagura-sempai thrust her fist up at the last minute?! And that kick to swipe the legs was AWESOME! Quick and clean—PERFECT! This final match is OVER!!! Our dojo won for the women's division!!!” yelped loudly Himeka as she jumped excitedly from her seat next to Yunosuke. Looking closer at the TV screen, she became even more animated. “Ne, look, Yunosuke-kun! Shinpachi-kun, look, too! Yuki-Sensei is over there now! Who's that girl next to him? She's taking pictures…oh, I want one of Yuki-Sensei and me!”
“Where?! YUKI…(knock, knock)…CAN YOU HEAR ME?! (Thump, thump) YUKI?!” Ayame's cries reverberated across the room as he continued pounding on the thick glass. “YOUR BELOVED NII-SAN IS CONFINED…PLEASE COME!!! (THUMP, THUMP) HEAR MY CRIES FOR FREEDOM, OTOUTO!!! (THUMP, THUMP, THUMP) AND BRING ME SOME TEA WHEN YOU COME UP!!! (THUMP, THUMP, THUMP)
His pent-up laughter was strong enough for his gut to ache from holding it all in. Thusly, Shigure guffawed loudly as his tears poured forth from his dark eyes upon seeing his demanding best friend give up his prized moping session to plea for his brother's help from afar. Though he did think the pounding on the glass might not do much good, it was still very entertaining to see the distraught tailor give it his all. Sohma Ayame never did anything half-assed. Years of being his loyal friend have taught him that much.
“Well…(snicker)…you can't say he's moping, Haa-san. Hehe, now he's communicating with his brother through plate glass! (Snicker) Oi, Aya! Try kicking down the glass…(snicker)…Yuki will appreciate your enthusiasm!”
Just seeing Shigure rolling around the floor and laughing his merry little ass off at Ayame's outrageous antics was enough to prompt the exasperated doctor to seriously consider using bodily harm on the two idiots he loathed to call friends let alone family. How he managed over the years to put up with them was a miracle he had a hard time believing. `Regardless…this time they've gone over their own limits of utter IDIOCY.'
“Oooh…sugoi… Harii sure can pull ears better than the best!” proclaimed Momiji upon seeing his caretaker grab two unruly `animals' by their delicate ears. His interest veered back to his `captive' as he struggled to keep the Sheep pinned beneath him.
“Is it anything like THIS?!” bit out Hiro when he pulled down hard on the Rabbit's hair in retaliation, causing the Rabbit to yelp loudly.
“There, that did it!” happily declared Ritsu as he finished gluing together the crystal vase, only to soon discover that regular glue doesn't work on crystal as the vase came apart instantly when placed on the mantle once more. “NO, PLEASE DON'T DO THAT!!! I'M BEGGING YOU!”
Wincing slightly from the good hold Hatori still held on his prized ear, Shigure still couldn't help the laughter that spewed forth hard enough to cause the ache on his side to intensify. He sniffled and dried his eyes as he humorously replied, “Don't cry, Ri-chan…I never liked that heirloom anyway. (Snicker) It's so old…”
“Can you see our beloved Yuki from where you are, Gure-san?! I can't see anything past Tori-san's magnificently broad shoulder…” called out Ayame as he was firmly held back and away from the window he was just pounding on moments ago, his ear also held captive by the Dragon's claws. “Tori-san! My ear is going to pop off!”
“Then be STILL…BOTH OF YOU,” bit out Hatori.
“Oi, how can you turn up the volume here, Yubo?” asked Shinpachi irately.
“Just sit closer to the set, Shin…its fine,” was Yunosuke's fleeting remark as he sat closer still to the TV screen.
“The retinas of your eyes will burn right through your skull at this rate, Yunosuke-kun!” admonished Himeka from behind them. But once she saw the image on the large screen TV, she quickly sat in front of the boys. “Yuki-Sensei looks SO GRAND on TV, ne?”
“Heheh, need a little help, Haa-san?” Shigure was back to laughing full-heartedly, his gut sure to burst any moment.
Chaos was too gentle of a word to describe what was occurring all around Kisa simultaneously. Yet she strived to imitate her mentor…Tohru's behavior had molded her own well… “Megumi-kun…ano, would you like some snacks from the fridge since…well, you see, the ones laid out on the countertop are slightly…damaged.”
Megumi could only take pity on her…the food…the windows…the room…
In short, it was a frenzy. All wanted an opinion and his was the most sought after, especially since his family's dojo was the one to win the women's division. He honestly wished that Kagura had let up on the poor girl in the last match…
Yes, he caught the slight deviation in the opponent's body language to thrust her fist in a vital area but that was unfortunately within the legal `gray' boundaries. The Boar was no one's fool and had caught on quick, hence using her raw strength against the hapless girl. He had felt pity for the desperate participant…she was going to feel the effects of Kagura's wrath for weeks to come.
“Shouldn't we wait for Kagura-san, Yuki-kun? She's still back there…OOMPH!”
“Hey, watch it!” called out a participant with a scowl.
Tohru was about to bow immediately to apologize but was quickly pulled along without let up. She cried out over her shoulder her hasty apology and turned to Yuki who was literally and firmly dragging her away by the hand. “Yuki-kun! I needed to apologize for—”
“No need. It was his fault; you have nothing to apologize for.” He sighed heavily as he eyed the extensive crowd all around them. Even with his many escorts, weaving through the crowded floor was near impossible with journalists and the like milling around to interview anyone willing to answer questions related to the finished matches for the women's division. It was no wonder that others would run into them, including disgruntled participants that have lost their chance at a title at this prestigious tournament.
“Kagura will catch up with us later when she's done giving the usual interviews. We need to get to where they're holding the men's matches—” He stopped suddenly as he nearly ran into the back of his escort as the tall, burly man abruptly halted. Swiftly all his other bodyguards surrounded him and in turn Tohru. Looking back to her, he smiled warmly, now grateful and proud that she had learned well over the years how to keep close but to spare enough distance between herself and the male Jyuunishi.
Catching his warm gaze upon her, she blushed prettily but became even more determined to not allow for Yuki's vulnerability to be exposed. Squeezing his hand and nodding in reassurance, she looked to the man over his shoulder, not quite understanding what the holdup was. “Is there something the matter?”
He, too, wondered and was about to voice his concerns as well when the bodyguard turned and regarded him deferentially while holding his walkie-talkie to his ear. “Sohma-sama, forgive us, but we will need to take you in this other direction for an interview. We were just informed by your family.”
“Oh…okay. But…” Yuki paused as he looked back to his companion worriedly, knowing full well that she needed to be with Kazuma's team in the next five minutes if she was to take pictures prior to the final matches.
Tohru quickly waved off his concerns with a bright smile. “I'm okay on my own now, Yuki-kun! They're over in this direction, ne?”
His worries increased…she was already heading off in the wrong direction. He swiftly grabbed hold of her wrist. It would have been utterly humiliating for her to have found herself at the men's lockers. He gently offered, “Let one of my escorts get you there…it's very hard to make your way through this crowd. All right?”
She was about to protest when one of his escorts took her by her elbow and kindly showed her right the direction. She sheepishly thanked the man then waved Yuki off happily as she was led away. “I'll save you a spot with us, Yuki-kun. Hurry back!”
He returned her gentle smile, ignoring the prodding to his shoulder to hurry to his next interview. He greatly detested having to `perform' for another interview, but he bore his annoyances well. It wouldn't do to appear bitter or upset amongst the general public. He will save his `dissatisfaction' with his family's handling of his affairs and personally rectify their ways when the tournament was far behind them.
`If I have to, I will force them to do things my way…it's not for nothing that Akito raised me,' were his trailing thoughts as he stomped forward after his escort.
Tohru was troubled herself, her thoughts full of concern for her Nezumi companion. During the women's finals, she clearly saw in his posture the fatigue he was barely holding at bay. The tired smile he gave upon seeing Kagura win her final match only wrenched her heart even more. The exuberant Boar must have sensed his exhaustion as well as she took more care when she hugged him after her match.
`Even if he doesn't get a chance to have dinner with us afterwards, I hope he takes a long rest at home with Akito-san. It's been such a long day…too long.' She was abruptly held back by the firm grip on her elbow. “Ano…is something the matter?”
“We're here, ma'am,” was the escorts short reply, showing her that to her left was the section assigned to the Sohma's dojo.
“Oh! Arigatou gozaimasu!” Bowing lowly in thanks, she hurriedly made her way through the throng of participants. She finally caught sight of a more familiar face. “Tomoda-san! Sumimasen, I'm late…”
“Not at all. We were just about to observe the rounds between the alternate teams…there was an unprecedented tie if you recall at the last two rounds this morning. Whichever team wins will make it to the final matches.” The excitement in Kunimitsu's voice grew with each passing minute. “It's quite a historical moment for the tournament…having the semi-finals extended this late into the tournament! Our guys are all ready for their turn. So many of us can't wait to see the outcome of this elimination round. It'll all be worth remembering. Are you ready to make our memories into print?”
“Hai!” She quickly got her camera ready, refocusing the lens and taking her test shots first. Her view in the lens suddenly came across the determined gaze of one Neko and his companions.
Last she had seen Kyo, he was incredibly upset with Yuki and just in general…she had wanted to find the missing Neko and Ox, but Kazuma held her back by saying that the two needed time to themselves to prepare for the tournament. It seemed to be all that was needed, seeing that he was back to being himself and completely focused on the tournament at hand. She gladly took the shot before calling out to them.
“Kyo-kun…Tetsuya-san!” She swiftly caught up with them and happily remarked, “Did you see the final match with Kagura-san? It was incredible…I'm so happy for her…of everyone who did well in their matches today!”
“Yes, I saw the match from the lounge room. We're all so very proud of her,” replied Tetsuya, recalling Kagura's match with obvious pride. “It's quite tempting to see how she would stand in a match against one of us stubborn gentlemen.”
Handing Tohru a bottle of water which she gratefully took, Kyo dryly remarked, “Tch, trust me, Tetsuya…you don't want to be that tempted. (Grumbles lowly) Damn bitch can put a hurt on you without breaking a fingernail.”
Both Tohru and Tetsuya didn't bother to suppress their wide grins, knowing full well that Kyo hardly defended himself when faced with Kagura…the poor guy just could never raise his hand against her. Another thought the same and voiced it as well.
“Maybe if you quit irritating her, she may go easy on you next time, Kyo,” added Haru calmly as he stood tall behind them, overlooking the two teams now facing eliminations in their matches.
“Shut up, boke!” lashed back Kyo.
“You're the idiot for getting beat up without a fight,” pressed on Haru matter-of-factly.
“And who's the bigger idiot for forfeiting his first TWO matches at an INTERNATIONAL TOURNAMENT?!”
“Man, you should quit sweatin' the small stuff.”
“SMALL STUFF?! We were almost ELIMINATED!”
“ENOUGH,” cut in Kazuma as he joined the gathered members of his dojo. These three were chosen to represent his dojo at the final matches, and he was none-too-pleased to see them (mainly Haru and Kyo) arguing (AGAIN) instead of observing a potential opponent. “After one of these teams is eliminated, it will be our group against one of the other teams.”
Kyo waved off Kazuma's underlying urgency of the matter, “Yeah, and then afterwards whoever wins from this match will fight another team after our elimination match. Winners from both matches face off in the finals…and I'll be sure to stick it to them good. I know the agenda, Shishou.”
“And you're so certain we'll go to the final rounds, Kyo?” asked Tetsuya with a knowing grin.
“Pft, like you, I didn't come here to come in second,” curtly stated Kyo as he observed the beginning of the first round towards the finals.
“Damn straight,” added lowly Tetsuya with a sly grin, focusing his attention on the match that was to commence.
It was an emotional remark that was short but on target with how they all felt. Months of hard training…for others including Kazuma, it was literally years in the making. It all came down to this day, to this hour. So many emotions gathering on this floor at this moment, it was a wonder that they could stand by so calmly to watch it play out before them.
And play out it did. The motions of their hands and feet smoothly followed the flow of their bodies, each kick and swing of a fist reaching their mark…or not. One after another the qualifying opponents squared off against the other, all intent upon reaching the same goal…to win. Some succeeded, others did not. Yet, what drew everyone to watch these matches was not so much the end result but the mesmerizing poetry in motion these competitors exuded on the floor when engaged in a battle of physical prowess and mental fortitude.
It was the ultimate sanctuary for Kyo's frayed sanity. He felt it…slowly but certainly…he felt the profound weariness of his heart and mind drift away with each solid, calculated kick or thrust observed by his eyes. The clarity, so lightweight and free…he absorbed it all into his very bones. When it came time for his turn, he was sure that he could feel the very essence of peace settle his worries to the far corners of his mind, every cell in his body solely focused on his opponent.
The poor soul never stood a chance.
It was over faster than he would have liked, but there was no question in anyone's mind that he was the competitor to beat at this tri-annual tournament. His thrusts and kicks precisely met its target, no energy behind each swing gone to waste. Even though five chances were given to everyone at this level, it was still quite the feat to win this round with no losses.
Undefeated and unmatched…it was a shining moment in his career as a professional athlete. Yet for all the uproar all around him, it paled in comparison to the gentle smile from the young lady busily taking his picture from the sideline. The gaze that emerged from behind the lens spoke volumes of how proud she was of him. And the air in his lungs was squeezed right out, though he couldn't tell if it was from Tohru's gaze or from the abrupt hold wound around his chest by arms of steel.
“KYO-KUN! You are the BEST!!! THE VERY BEST!!!” yelped Kagura loudly as she held him even tighter than before. Letting him go, she, too, looked to him with pride but also with relief. She brought his head down closer to hers and looked deeply into his colored eyes as she softly whispered, “The Neko sure proved his worth to us today…to all of us.”
`To all of…?' The bewildered teen took a moment to finally look all around them, and certainly the crowd was boisterous to see him perform so well in his competition. The media frenzy alone surrounding his match was enough to guarantee him a spot on any famous endorsement. It was the point in an athlete's career that couldn't be surpassed except by winning the final round which he had yet to do.
Yet…each beat of the applause…each thunderous roar from fans…each flash of bulb from cameras…all of it…such glorious acknowledgment from the public was not enough to fulfill that one, retched void in his life. It was a void he damned with each breath he took. He had been carrying this damnable ache for so long despite his incessant denial of its existence over the years. And yet…when he was at his lowest…when he was most desperate…he wholeheartedly made that cursed bet with the infamous clan head for just that one thing…
Recognition—official recognition from the family head; to finally see him, Sohma Kyo, the Neko of the Jyuunishi, as an equal member of their prestigious circle. To be recognized not with shame but with pride by the family as a whole. After so many years of being shunned…of carrying a shame too damn old…did he now finally achieve it without even realizing it?
Kagura smiled widely as she saw the eyes of the Neko stricken with confusion then disbelief. She comforted him further, knowing how profound this moment was for him. “You held on and made this moment happen, Kyo-kun…all on your own. Be PROUD, Neko…it's finally your turn to shine.”
Reeling from his sudden epiphany, he took to heart her words and dared to look around for familiar faces. Kazuma had never looked more proud…he was even tearful. His faithful assistant, Kunimitsu, was hollering along with his fellow teammates, even the usually reserved Tetsuya. Haru was whistling as loudly as could be done in a crowd. He could only imagine how fellow Jyuunishi members were behaving in their private suite. And the extended family…Master Haji was not seen at all today, but he just knew the old man was close to dying from sheer joy. He spotted many parents of the Jyuunishi in reserved sections amongst the crowd…all their elation evident with their wide smiles and furious bellows and applause…acknowledgement handedly being given out.
It was all a tidal wave that was sure to ripple through the far reaches of the family. Akito cannot fight against that. And a solitary, bitter man that gave life to him will see as well that he wasn't going to disappear from amongst them…ever.
He softly replied to her quietly-said, heartfelt remarks, “It's been a long time comin'…feels weird, you know.”
“Better than what you were feeling before, Kyo-kun?” she asked oh so innocently.
He laughed dryly, “Damn Ox has a big mouth.”
Shaking her head, she grinned while soundly patting him on the back. Handing him a dry towel, she happily replied, “Haru-chan didn't have to spare the words. I just knew. It happens when you grow up together.”
Taking the towel she offered, he dried his face off and persisted, “Dish it…what did he say?”
Nothing…just that you were having it rough. Need he say more?” Kagura stuck close to Kyo's side to avoid the avalanche of well-wishers and journalists on the sidelines bent on getting a word from the popular winners. “Besides, your eyes say it all…to me anyway, especially when you're on national TV. You always forget how well we know you, Kyo-kun…always underestimating your oldest and closest and most beautiful—”
“Okay, spare me, geez.” Seeing the throng around them move in closer to them, he wrapped an arm around Kagura's shoulders, keeping her close to him as they walked back to their team's designated area. She was so small in his arms…it amazed him still that she could manage to bring down the very best with just those slim arms and legs. Amazing, yes, surprising, no. He's had plenty of bruises and bloody lips to prove her effectiveness as a martial artist.
`And the little banshee can read me like no other…her and Haru. Damn friends I have…both too stubborn to leave me be.' He brought his arm up from behind her and pulled her ponytail gently. “Don't you ever quit either, you wild Boar.”
Kagura looked to him for only moment before giving him a wide smile. She then looked forward to the crowd part before her saying nothing in return. She didn't have to spare the words.
The bright light dulled their gazes momentarily since it was right in front of them. Yet neither were upset. “Tohru-kun! Did you see it all?! Wasn't Kyo-kun AMAZING?!”
“HAI! Congratulations…to both of you! I am SO proud…so VERY proud,” declared Tohru happily as she took another picture of the pair, behind her Kazuma with the others wordlessly agreeing with her and her enthusiasm.
“Eh, not too bad, Neko. Next time we fight, you better lay it on me like that and not hold back,” remarked Haru dryly while coming to Kagura's other side. Gesturing to Tohru, he asked, “Can you get us a picture here, Honda-san?”
“Certainly!” She quickly refocused her camera to take the shot when Haru spoke again.
“The caption will read `the Double-Whammies with Kyon-kichi'…sounds good, doesn't it, Kagura-nee?” he asked with a small smile as the flash of the bulb took place. It was to Tohru's chagrin that at precisely that moment, Kyo had opened his mouth wide in outrage.
Kyo was quick to yelp over Kagura's head, “The HELL?! I ain't the lucky one, you bas—”
“Ladies and gentlemen, please stand by as we proudly introduce to you this evening an important member of our distinguished community and who will in turn introduce the final rounds of this tri-annual world tournament.”
“Is this something scheduled at the last moment, Shihan?” asked Kunimitsu curiously upon hearing the female's booming voice over the loudspeakers. He bent to look through his binder that had the precise order of activities along with any announcements that were to be made during the tournament. Being the host of this event had proven this method to be necessary.
“Very last moment…I've not heard—” Kazuma was confused as well and pulled out his personal notes that had even further details relating to the day's activities. He carefully perused it and found nothing of the sort for this particular announcement. It was strange…that is, until he looked up and finally caught a glimpse of the one man that he had been looking for throughout the day.
The one glimpse of the elder man's visage jarred him to the very bones. Because for as long as he could remember, he had never once seen the look of disgusted resignation on Master Haji's face.
“It's only recently that we have come to know this respectable youth who not only represents his honorable family well but who has in turn over this summer taught the young minds of future martial artists the very basics and the true essence of what our tournament represents. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in giving a warm welcome to the owner of the honorable Sohma Martial Arts Dojo and Enterprises…Sohma Yuki.”
The applause and thunderous roar of the crowd shook the arena. It was not every day that a high-profile individual would introduce the final rounds…attend the events, yes, but not to participate in the day's activities. Having the large TV screen in the arena focus on the individual, many in the crowd couldn't help but to admire the fresh new face that held a smile that drove many a woman and a few men to their knees. His picture was more than sufficiently taken for all the reporters to publish in every known media.
“Thank you, Vice-Chairman. And I wish to extend a heartfelt thanks to each and every individual who has worked all these long hours, weeks, months, and yes, even years, to make this event a success. To all the volunteers…to all our participants and their respective dojos…and to their honorable Sensei…from all of us who have sat in our seats and watched from the sidelines…our most sincere gratitude and thanks. You have all made this tournament an honor to watch.”
The thunderous roar with the applause shook the arena again and settled upon hearing the gentle voice of the youth.
“It has now come down to just two teams, and I would be dishonest if I said I wasn't partial to one in particular. (Lighthearted laughter heard amongst the crowd.) This tournament has been spectacular to watch and will continue to be so in these final rounds. And so, without further delay, let the final matches in this tournament begin. The very best to both dojos. Arigatou gozaimasu.”
The youth politely bowed and waved to the immense applause and roar of all the attendants in the arena. Journalists and cameramen along with photographers hustled through throngs just to capture further glimpses of the quickly disappearing youth amongst his private guards.
Cold…hardly numb…just, cold. His blood continued to pump through his veins but he swore that the warmth was just not there…it ran cold. That was not possible logically-speaking, but…it was frigid. The void…it was of no use denying its existence any longer. It had swallowed him whole.
He hadn't realized that voices all around him were garbled and disembodied nor did he notice his vision swinging from one extreme of the arena to the other. He felt his head even sway as he brought his hand up to steady it, closing his eyes to warped images of his blank mind. Yet the small, confused voice of Tohru pulled him out of the mire and snapped him back to his reality. And so he looked up…and met the gaze of the one that held his one life-long wish in his dainty hands.
Kyo took off, never to look upon the Nezumi as he did before ever again.
Yuki went still. He came as quickly as he could…and words did not come to him when he needed them most. What could he say? The very meaning of thought left him when the stricken gaze of the Neko met his own uncertain eyes. What was there left to say?
Nausea hit his stomach hard…enough so that he took in heavy breaths to reel back the automatic reflux in his throat, his hand brought to his mouth for just in case. He was certain his face had turned a dull shade of green. He was never more thankful for his escorts as they formed a wall around him, keeping his crisis personal. He suddenly felt a cold hand on his hot cheek and forehead.
“Yuki, you need to go home. You've got a serious fever going on,” remarked Haru lowly as he delicately palmed his dear friend's face.
Yuki brusquely removed the hands. “It's not that, Haru—”
“Yes, it is,” sternly cut in the worried Ox before he took a long moment to relax. He had to be calm if the agitated Nezumi was to take him seriously. He gently grasped the other's shoulders, pleading, “Look…you can't…not like this. With things as bad as they are—”
“Bad? BAD?! he bit out as he furiously shoved the stunned Ox back. “What STUPIDITY possessed YOU to think it's `BAD' and—”
“Pft, guess Kyo pegged him right…a rat to the core.”
It was only but a whisper, yet it reached his ears as no roar of the crowd ever could, stilling him in his tirade along with his thoughts. He couldn't do it…having a conversation now with anyone other than Kyo felt pointless. And with accusing eyes from certain members of Kazuma's dojo on him, he felt suffocated into silence.
He knew. With each and every thought he had come to have, with all known feelings he possessed…and with every sense of his being as the one who carried the spirit of the Rat…he knew. The betrayal commited unto the Cat was one he had participated in. It didn't matter the reasons behind it, the circumstances that had led to it…it just was. And there was no point in explaining it to any other when none of it mattered anymore.
He had never felt so tainted.
Haru remained silent after Yuki's emotional outburst but became angry when the hushed words of his teammate Hajime reached his ears. Certainly enough, the Nezumi heard them despite his loud remarks and, consequently, silenced him. The spirit of this Ox was ready to come stampeding across the back of his mouthy teammate, but he grew concerned as the Nezumi in turn remained still to the point that his head stayed bent and eyes downcast. The slim youth's shoulders were slumped…defeated. He was about to reach out to him when the Sohma heir swiftly lifted himself and determinedly pushed past him without another word.
The shifting of the Ox spirit within his blood warned him like never before.
And then there was this…(01-12-09) :
I promised and FINALLY I have delivered! Is this all, you may ask, after so many months out? Of course not!
First off, good day and night to all! As discussed in my previous `chapter', I was rather detained from releasing any new material for a while. It was pretty bad there for a while, but also very good since it actually motivated me to do much better for the next few chapter releases. It's been so good, I will be releasing the chapters rather soon compared to other times I've released chapters. Good cookies for all to be had!
Okay, I initially started work on this chapter back in July of last year and puttered with it until September/October. I was thankful that most of the chapter was edited back then so I mainly just perused it for the joy of reading it again. I had been troubled on how to start it off but a good reviewer of mine gave me an idea (many thanks Dark Inu Fan!). Going funny at the beginning helped balance out my chap fairly well, I think. Buffing nails can be therapeutic, trust me.
Okay, here is my official disclaimer on all matters related to martial arts and to the tournaments that are given involving them. I am in no way an expert or remotely close to it. I formally apologize to all those that are more than well versed on how all this works since I am very likely butchering the poor art to the pits of the sewer. Please forgive me! (v_v)
Hopefully the developments in this chapter more than make up for any flagrant discrepancies in my fic! Angst galore! Just when Kyo had found his moment to shine… I am but a cruel author, right? Well, there's plenty more, and it's all coming soon to a cyberworld near you! Trust me lovelies, any questions you have now will be answered very soon!
Music pic in this chap: “Zombie by The Cranberries. Lyrics and melody all lend a hand to the desperation this chapter projects. Hopefully you agree!
Thanks to all my support group of reviewers and readers that keep coming back to this ol' fic of mine! Your kind words and constant support with reading my work is fuel to the muses I possess. Many thanks and take care all!