Fruits Basket Fan Fiction ❯ Seasons of Sorrow ❯ Embers of Summer's Glory = The Uncertainty in Me ( Chapter 63 )

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

DISCLAIMER: Fruits Basket characters credited to Takaya-sensei. I lay claim to the storyline and all original characters. That's about it.
Embers of Summer's Glory
Chapter 63: The Uncertainty in Me
Counting the marble tiles on the floor was very difficult. She kept getting confused as to what could be considered tile and what was considered an adornment. Although she did notice that the floor was in need of a good polish. The high traffic from the constant tours kept the floor from showing its opulent brilliance she had seen when she attended the opening gala many nights ago. And today was the final day of the exhibit. Everything would be packed up and stored for another time to show, likely many years from now, if ever.
Tohru deeply sighed as she shifted in her seat at the foot of the staircase, her tired gaze staring in the direction Kyo had gone. It had been well over an hour and the tournament was certainly over by now. The arena was at the very far end of the large building, and she couldn't tell what was going on at this end of the building. The silence from being the only one in this empty exhibit hall was louder than inside the arena.
`What happened after we left? What is happening now? Shishou-san…Tomoda-san…Yuki-kun… What did he do when we left? What is he thinking? I should be there, but…' Her constant thought remained unfinished as it had been for the last hour.
She twiddled with her camera before putting it away again, the expensive equipment still full of good film waiting to be used. She had only just discovered during her hectic day that the camera also doubled as a video recorder. She had planned to surprise Kazuma and her dear friends with candid LIVE footage they would all enjoy once the commotion from the tournament was all behind them.
`Where could Kyo-kun have gone?'
It also seemed like a dream now, her reality now coldly embracing her. And still Kyo has not returned. She stood up and paced the marred floor once again. She was beyond being distraught…she had passed that point after ten minutes of waiting. Only cold dread seeped into her from all around.
`It seems like he's been gone so long. He hadn't said anything from our long walk from the arena to here like I hoped…against his family, the curse…anything. He said nothing at all. He never even looked at me until we got here, making me swear to stay put, saying he'd only be a little while. Then he was gone. I wouldn't have sworn to stay put if he was going to take this long…if it was going to feel this…wrong.'
She wrung her cold hands continuously, feeling little heat in them anymore. She felt cold, out of sorts…suffocated. She felt very cold from the inside. She felt very useless. Like a bystander witnessing an inevitable train wreck, she felt utterly helpless.
`After so much has been done…and said… Kyo-kun looked so defeated when we left the arena hall. Not a word the whole time…and I couldn't say anything either. What could I say? Those accusations from Isuzu-san earlier this morning…they sound so true now…but I still don't believe it, not even for a moment. Maybe…maybe that's why Kyo-kun can't stand to talk to me. Does he feel betrayed by my choice to believe in Yuki-kun?'
Her chest ached from her pent-up emotions, her very soul feeling split in two directions. She mentally laughed to herself, now remembering her fervent defense of the Neko when the old fable was relayed to her by an amused mother.
(Sigh)…how much she had changed from that naïve little girl that only saw matters from one perspective.
Recalling her words at the house earlier that morning with Rin and Kyo and comparing it with what she had heard at the tournament and the bits she had overheard from Kyo's shouts in the locker room…
(SIGH)…how reality spun out of control, hardly a shock, but still…it stung. She was just now coming to understand that the world of the Sohmas involved intricate perceptions of what the truth is.
`What is -truth- when everyone has their own version of it? Who can understand the truths of this family when they differ from one member to the next? What IS the whole truth?'
Her headache worsened. She was confused and so alone. She looked to the old relics in their display cases…some older than the city they resided in. The history these old things witnessed…
It was then with her mind momentarily distracted that the clarity of understanding came to her.
`Yuki-kun. If there was ever a moment we become unsure, no matter what we may all feel…we all turn to you. It's as natural as rain in a storm. Each one of the family…especially the Jyuunishi…will come to you, HAVE come to you…either unwillingly or devotedly. We just know that you would understand it all…the joy, the pain…because the truth you perceive is the answer we seek.'
She began pacing furiously, her hands coming together to her temples time and again, afraid that the clarity would escape her just when she finally found it. It would explain so much…
The need to seek the Nezumi, either to rant and rave…to hate…or simply to bask in his presence, to feel the soothing relief that something of their lives made sense. It would make more sense to seek out Akito, being the `god' of their circle (or `emperor', whichever one the fables was to be believed) and the true epicenter of their bond. But Yuki was more approachable, by far, and if they stayed true to the fable, the Nezumi was a personal representative of the `god'. And the `god' of the story only found the Nezumi worthy of his personal preference.
`Could it really be that simple? Is this family patterned so much after a bygone story? Does it really run that deep into their bloodline? That's to say…aside from turning into the animals when they're embraced…that's nowhere in any story version of the Jyuunishi. And the banquet that they have every year…why do they still do it? And…well…all sorts of things…'
She groaned…her headache left her dizzy. She had to stop looking into her sudden revelation or more accurately put, looking into the obvious reality of the Sohmas that she had been consistently warned about time and again. Anymore trips around her brain would only fry the little bit of peace she had left. The speculations…theories…whatever it was her mind had conjured would not be of use to her now. She would blank her mind completely and face the reality that is now.
Kyo was gone and she was alone in an exhibit hall that would be closing shortly. She had to leave, either to find Kyo or to vacate the premises before she was none-too-kindly escorted off.
She heard distant footsteps from beyond the entrance. The sudden rush of relief washed over her leaving the usual tingling on her skin. She rushed to the end of the exhibit, turned to another hallway leading to another immense room full of memorabilia, hearing the loud clacking of shoes echoing in the next hall. The steps halted as they entered the room.
Tohru blurted out excitedly, “KYO-KUN! I was so worri—EH?! What are you doing here?”
“What do you mean he LEFT?”
`Damn it all…I should have taken off when I had the chance. Keep forgetting how testy Hatori-nii gets when Yuki bails on him…' Heavily sighing with growing frustration, Haru limped from the shower stalls to the locker room, keeping his damp towel wrapped around his middle as he grabbed clothes out of his duffel bag. “Yuki took off…period. End of story…end of the line…”
Hatori closed his eyes, taking in steady breaths, knowing he needed to be calm in order to pull the needed answers from an unwilling Ox about a very obstinate Rat. “Yuki can't have gone too far on that foot of his…he could very well be stranded somewhere in this mayhem. Now…which way was he headed?”
“He's not stranded anywhere, Hatori-nii.” Haru paused, deeply frowning before pulling on his shirt and pants. “Kagura-nee came by and dragged him off to where he wanted to go. He's just fine. They were going to call when they were good and ready for you.”
“Kagura came in here?” It wasn't a far stretch that the female Jyuunishi would make her way through to here despite all the potential male contact…he did know of her stunts from ages ago at Ritsu's all-male college campus. “In that case, where were they going?”
Haru scowled, clearly detesting having to continue answering this line of questioning. “Not anywhere around here.”
Hatori had to strain his ears to hear the mumbled response. He was becoming quickly aggravated, his next remark plainly indicating it to be so. “If not around here, then where?”
The teen angrily chucked his bag to the floor, grimacing when his injury pulled the wrong way. Gritting his teeth, he bit out, “If you must absolutely KNOW, try the exhibit hall! Who else would he meet up with not caring about his condition and caring even less about the rest of us?!”
Hatori was no stranger to Haru's harsh rebuffs. Being his caretaker over the years, he had become well acquainted with the more unreasonable side of the teen. It was not very often it happened, but when it did, he knew better than to try to change his mind once it was set on a course of thinking. Haru was much like his spirit counterpart on that…quite stubborn and unwilling to change course.
`Although I'm rather surprised he's being unreasonable when it comes to Yuki. He's usually much more supportive and understanding unless…' Coming to a small understanding on the matter, Hatori noted that aside from the injury giving him pains, Haru was clearly loathing the Nezumi for apparently abandoning him here in favor of Akito. But that was not the whole dilemma, of this the doctor was sure of.
`Likely this has less to do with feeling abandoned and more about what had happened today at the tournament. That damn announcement was enough to send even Shigure into a spin. He took off to God know's where with Ayame close on his heels. Still…with Haru's blind devotion to Yuki… it must have triggered at least a doubt in his faith in Yuki. To doubt when you were so certain… (Sigh)'
Taking out a packet from his medical bag, he thrust it into the teen's unoccupied hand. “Take this with your bottle of water. It should dull your pain enough to withstand walking normally for good distances.”
“I'm not going anywhere far,” mumbled Haru as he twiddled with the packet of medicine.
“Far enough to retrieve Yuki.” Seeing the teen's boiling frustration and even the slight trepidation upon hearing that, Hatori kneeled down to see him eye to eye. “Regardless of what has been said or done by either of you, you won't find peace in yourself—”
“Stop hating yourself, Hatsuharu.” The softly spoken comment stopped the Ox's fierce declaration in its tracks. Hatori knew him that well. “Let's go retrieve our elusive Nezumi, and you can have it out with him…he will always listen to whatever you have to say.”
Haru couldn't refute that truth. And he so very much wanted to run off and chase after Yuki. Breaking away from Hatori's intense eye contact, he glumly replied, “How could he care to listen to me after what I've said?”
Smiling softly, Hatori grasped the teen's shoulder carefully, prompting Haru to look back at him. “If Yuki is guilty of anything, it's that he cares TOO much. Out of all the others, you know how that has given him more grief than anything else.”
Haru knew all too well how true that was especially given the escalating situation the Nezumi was now in. He lowly remarked, “Yuki's in deep…way in over his head on EVERYTHING.”
“Then…why are you still here?” quietly asked the doctor.
The teen downed the medicine and his bottled water in record time.
“Pft…even his own family can't stand him, Hajime.”
“That's no surprise, Hiko…Kyo-sempai never lets up on how much the damn punk is a pain in the ass.”
“Kyo-sempai should be the one to take over the dojo…that's the biggest no-brainer in history.”
“It's who you know, Hiko…the way of the world.”
After overhearing Yuki's whereabouts from the two inside the private locker room, these two individuals quickly made their way out of the area, heading to the main locker rooms with the other dojo members. They had but one goal.
“Hiko my man, I think it's time we finally gave Sohma Yuki our congratulations. We owe it to him…and I'm pretty sure others feel the same. What do you say?”
Hiko merely grinned.
“Damn…(huff)…how many…(huff, huff)…damn steps…ARGH…did they build on this…(huff, huff)…damn stairwell?!”
“I'm sorry, Kagura…my ankle is hurting more now. I'm not holding myself up as much. I think the adrenaline is finally wearing off.”
“YOU THINK? (Huff, huff) Damn if this building's security isn't pretty extreme!” Breathing heavily and thinking better of it, she leaned them against the railing. It wasn't too bad…they did make it up four long flight of stairs up to the third floor. She now sincerely wished she had better footwear than her sockless-sneakers…the soles of her feet ached terribly. “Sorry to snap at you…I'm just now realizing how TIRED I am! Competing was tougher on my stamina than I thought.”
Leaning heavily against her and the railing, Yuki sighed dismally, “My stupidity is to blame…I completely forgot about the security badge needed to take the one elevator that leads up to the sixth floor.”
“Hey, don't hog all the blame. I have a head of my own, and I forgot, too. (Heavily sighs) I should have tried hunting down a security guard or someone that has a security badge for us to use!” Wiping perspiration off her brow with the back of her arm, she mentally patted herself on the back, glad that she had forgone changing from her uniform. She would have hated ruining her new sundress that she brought to change into after the tournament.
“At least (gasps) the fire escape stairwell was open. It's SOMETHING (Pause) Those passageways you took from the arena to get here were pretty obscure…how did you know about them?” He had asked while she was leading him through them, but she had told him that she'd explain when she had breath to spare. Now was as good a time as any.
“Elementary, my dear Nezumi. Besides,” she paused to moisten her dry throat with the little saliva she had, “Kaa-san was in charge of the interior design of the place. She took me here often.”
Yuki nodded and tiredly pulled away from Kagura's grasp. “You can go back down from here. I'll be down with Akito once we…talk things over.”
She swiftly grabbed his wrist. “Let me help you with the rest of the way, Yun-chan…I'm not that tired!”
“Thank you, truly…but it's not that,” he quickly assured her with an endearing smile, gently removing her hand. “I just…I need to be with her alone—”
“Then I'll just drop you off and leave post haste,” she reasoned.
“Please…I…” His face abruptly became torn as he looked away, his gaze aimed high above them. He shamefully looked back down to his feet, eyeing his injury with little interest. “I need to…fix this…on my own.”
“Fix what?” she couldn't help asking. The resolute front he had displayed all this time seemed to have vanished now that they were closer to his goal. He had now sounded so lost to the misery clearly seen in his expressive eyes, she had felt compelled to offer whatever help she could. “I can still help, Yun-chan…”
No, please. I must do this on my own,” he implored as he met her gaze with a determined stare, becoming resolute once more. He leaned on the railing further, looking away again to the floors above him while he softly continued, “I've said and done such…horrible things that can't be unsaid or undone no matter how much I wish it.”
She remained silent, knowing all too well the consequences such actions brought on. She was just too stunned to believe Yuki even being capable of behaving that way, but her astonishment gave way to growing understanding as to why they were there.
He looked down to her once more, the pain evident in his eyes but also with firm resolve to push on. “I don't deserve any opportunity to redeem myself. And this isn't about redemption. Confronting my mistakes…it's the least I could do…and I much prefer to do it alone.”
She knew he wanted to do so much more than to confront his mess. How he was struggling even now to retain that glimmer of hope in his eyes… And facing it all alone did not appeal to her in the least.
Still, she would not deny him. She couldn't…not when she herself vainly hoped right along with him. How can anyone not help but be supportive of Yuki? He was no less supportive of her when she needed it most. As she's told Haru, she would do no less for him…never any less than he deserves. And Yuki deserved only the very best.
Warmly embracing Yuki, she released him and headed the other way to the elevators…her sore limbs were prompting her to follow his earlier suggestion. “Don't take so long, okay? If I know Hatori-niichan, he'll be well on his way here with a remorseful Ox. Be ready for an irate doctor and a clingy teen when you come down.”
He smiled with relief in response. “I will…and thank you.”
She gave him a playful wink over her shoulder. It struck her only then how much pain he'll be in as he climbed the stairs on his own. She then saw him turn swiftly to take the stairs as graceful as he's known to be. He tolerated his pain so well. She smiled again and happily took the stairs going down, grateful that gravity and physics were doing her a service as she came down faster than coming up.
`If he can put up with the pain, he'll be fine on his own with Akito. And it'll all turn out wonderful for him. It always does.'
Intermission (05-12-09):
Eh, you must be thinking, why so short?…I kind of meant this to be out much earlier and then put out the next chapter soon after. Unfortunately, my delay in developing the other chapters further has delayed the releases. My very sincerest apologies to all! But I will make it up to you in such a BIG way in the next chapter!
On a completely off topic moment, I just finished watching Babe and The Little Princess. Both are too adorable! It's the simplicity of such stories that help clear my creative mind of unnecessary rubbish. Sometimes you just need to keep it simple, or at least, quit forcing the tale to be told. It'll come.
And on that note I shall leave you, lovelies! Thanks to all, especially my reviewers (I'm sorry for not replying this time around!!! >_<), for your continued patience and support. To all who have me on the alerts/faves, big hugs from me to you!