Fruits Basket Fan Fiction ❯ Seasons of Sorrow ❯ Embers of Summer's Glory = Turning Corners ( Chapter 64 )

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

DISCLAIMER: To all who actually read this, original Fruits Basket characters are a credit to Takaya-sensei's creativity that I can only hope to honor with this fanfic. I claim only the storyline and a few original characters.
Embers of Summer's Glory
Chapter 64: Turning Corners
—If you prick us, do we not bleed?—
There were times when the silence made a melody of its own. Only those truly attuned to it may hear it. The melody would constantly change, given the time and place. In a garden, it would inevitably include the life of birds twittering incessantly or the rustling of leaves while the branches swayed with the breeze. In an empty room, it consisted of creaking floorboards, one's own breathing, and perhaps the gentle thrum of a heartbeat. It all came together in a rhythm that one would find soothing.
She was not soothed at the moment. Far from it.
Her foot tapped hard against the impeccably clean marble floor. The electric hum of the overhead lights grated her hearing. She didn't know if the clenching in her jaw was just as tight as the clenching of her hands at her sides, but neither did much to alleviate the tension in her body. Unable to tolerate the rhythmic silence around her, she irately shoved herself off the wall she was leaning on, deciding to take a walk amongst the artifacts…again.
`Tou-sama…I will never understand your fascination with this old junk. The only purpose they serve is to collect dust in some storage bin when not on display. Absolutely useless…'
She could swear she almost heard her father's response to that. That was another blessing in the silence…you could hear the thoughts of the dead as if they were standing right next to you. At the moment she welcomed this, her delicate hearing straining to hear her father's voice in the silence. She needed to hear the assurance if only in his tone.
Assurances…since when did they become so damn important? Only since becoming uncertain…unsure…when all that was set in stone crumbled to dust. And all because of a few words from one individual.
She slapped her hand against the glass display in front of her, hardly rattling the old contents within. She will not have it…she will not doubt. Each one of her actions…each decision she had ever made…each thought she had conceived…not one was done without reason. Absolute certainties always ruled her reasoning…if she had made a decision, took a form of action, or if she simply gave thought to a matter, she was absolutely sure she was in the right to do so. Truth was on her side, like it or not…always.
Her continuing walk took her back to the glass display on the far wall, the much older relics still in their designated spots. All of them had some version of the family emblem, the intricate drawings clearly seen despite their age. The large fan, the silk cloth…the long sheath of the katana…so very old and largely unimportant in her opinion…it was all nicely laid out behind its glass confinement.
`How did these things ever come into our possession, Tou-sama? You were so obsessed with keeping them hidden…I wonder why. It's not as if they'll tell their secrets to us. Our mysteries will always remain as such…it's a waste to consider even the possibility of an answer. Yuki would disagree—'
She heavily breathed in, shakily breathing out, weariness now crawling up her legs. She would sit if only her nerves would allow her the luxury. She was very sure she'd take to the available seating once Yuki arrived.
Doubt emerged again in her heart, and she fervently killed it before it festered. She would not doubt. She would not be unsure. She WOULD NOT.
She slapped the glass pane hard, not caring for the sting in her hand. She forced her heavy breathing to become steady once more, to become in tune with the heavy silence around her. She unclenched her jaw, loosened the tight grip in her hands. She smoothed her long-sleeved blouse, removing stubborn lint from the dark indigo fabric. She smoothed her hair back, ensuring no strand felt out of place.
Feeling her calm come to her, she walked around further, amazed that her family had managed to fill this large floor to the brim with such antiques. The tightened security to just get to this floor astounded even her, but it worked well to her advantage as it greatly restricted the use of this floor for the public. She merely walked in, flashed her security badge and took the elevator to this floor…no troubles at all. Not that there was a problem with that today. The tournament drew the crowd to its end of the building, leaving this side virtually empty, aside from the security personnel stationed at key entrances at the bottom floor whom she promptly dismissed. She wanted no impediments between her and Yuki.
`Tou-sama, what the HELL is this statue for? Honestly, you kept the oddest things in your collection…I will point this out to Yuki. He would probably like it…he has your tastes in the unusual.'
She felt slightly assured in the silence, her father's soundless voice soothing raw nerves. She immersed herself in the tone of her father's voice, recalling how deep it felt when she heard him speak when she leaned against his chest as a child looking for reassurance. How silly she thought of it now, but it didn't lessen her desire to go back to those long ago times. She was so sure that he was with her in that silent room that she freely breathed his smell in. She never once forgot how his smell was. His memory was so vivid…she was no longer alone.
`He would never leave me alone. He even left Yuki to me. I am not alone…Yuki would never leave me. I will never be alone. Never…'
But it was late and Yuki still had not come. And it was painfully obvious that he won't.
“This is the longest I have ever seen you be…human.”
She whirled around at the sudden intrusion to her sacred reverie. He stood there, tall and utterly calm, unlike her raging thoughts. The elevator closed softly behind him.
—If you tickle us, do we not laugh?—
“I am deeply so very sorry, Isuzu-san!” Tohru kept profusely apologizing.
Leading the distraught girl through the twist of hallways and finally entering the main lobby, she stopped cold and sighed heavily. She had already waved off the apologies many minutes ago as they slowly walked the bottom floor but apparently she would have to reinforce it somehow.
Tohru bowed lowly before straightening herself. “Please forgive—MMPH”
Clamping Tohru's mouth shut with her hand was proving quite effective. Rin smiled brightly, “Now, I had said it was fine and it still is. So don't make me regret it.”
Tohru nodded once, finally realizing that her apologies were only antagonizing Rin. She was usually much better at restraining herself, but when she panics, she still tends to lose her self-control. “Of course, I'm so—I mean, I was just caught by surprise when I saw you.”
“Yes, I know.” Finding a welcoming cushioned ottoman, Rin sat down and rested her tired feet. She knew wearing the stylish high-heeled boots was ill-advised, but they went so well with her outfit. “What are you doing here?”
In response Tohru heavily sighed as she, too, sat down on the ottoman. “I was waiting for Kyo-kun to return. He told me to wait here and then…(sigh)…I'm waiting. Waiting with no reason to…he never did say he'd come back. I…I don't know where he went.”
“Well, it's been over an hour…you should just head home,” remarked Rin matter-of-factly. “He'll understand.”
Tohru turned to Rin with a troubled gaze. “Isuzu-san…I…I never told you I had waited for Kyo-kun that long. How…did you know?”
Rin wryly smiled as she stood up. “You do catch on better than I thought.”
Tohru stood up alongside her, determined to not remain in the dark any longer. “Isuzu-san—”
Tohru turned around as she let out a sigh of relief only to quickly reign it back in. Immensely disappointed, she couldn't hold back her question, “What are you doing here?”
If you poison us, do we not die?—
Pleasantries were never put up with while in each other's presence…she saw no reason to break tradition. Akito's gaze hardened, her posture ramrod straight.
“-Human- you say? Amusing…I could say the same about you, but then that would only be partly right,” she tartly stated.
Kyo plainly rolled his eyes as he walked closer to her, his form still laid-back. “Pft…yeah, way to state the obvious. You think you can think up of anything you haven't regurgitated from before? I gotta tell ya…you're already boring the hell out of me.”
“And that would mean even less to me had I even bothered to care what you felt,” she shot back, the sharp edge in her tone no longer hidden.
He smiled widely, closing the gap between them as he towered over her slim form. “Damn, you're really not in the mood to fool around today, huh? What, you in a bad mood because you got stood up? Heh…”
Her simmering rage shot up quickly and she had a ready remark to wipe his amusement from his face. When she next took a deep breath, she was struck with a familiar smell. Shigure at times brought the smell with him when he visited her. She severely rebuked the Inu each time…she truly abhorred the stench.
You have been DRINKING? How DARE you come to my presence with that FILTH attached to your stink?! As if being around you isn't already—”
“Would you just SHUT UP?! Damn if you can't say anythingthat I've not already heard before!” He abruptly stopped and stood back some, closing his eyes briefly and taking a deep breath, intent on calming himself before proceeding. His smile returned. “Look, it was hell tryin' to get the ALL-EXCLUSIVE security badge from the security office to take the ONE DAMN elevator that takes you up here! Then I had to wait a while on the fourth floor until I knew FOR SURE that YOU'D be here. They have a nice bar there…good drinks. I drank a few…it pays to be a celebrity. You know, the mere idea of havin' to SEE your face is enough to drive ANYONE drunk, but I am a good guy…I knew to stop at…well, hell I can't remember now. It wasn't a lot, little queenie bitch, so just calm the hell down, okay?”
At least it explained his very calm attitude (minus the outburst) and slightly unfocused eyes. `And that damn smile with that DAMN AWFUL STENCH! REPULSIVE!' She felt very nauseous at his close proximity, the smell from his earlier alcohol intake disturbing what little control she had over her stomach. She had just recovered from a rather fierce bout with the flu…not that she'd ever admit that such weaknesses would hinder her self-control.
“You've not seen me as a true bitch YET, you demented FREAK! Now get out of my sight! And take your wretched stench with you…drink yourself to a coma for all I care…just GET OUT!” And to aid in his removal from her presence, she turned her back on him, dismissing him altogether. She took out her slim-line cell phone from her back pocket, swiftly going through the touch-screen menus in search of her very few contacts. She only made it so far as to view Kureno's name on the screen.
Deftly swiping the phone from her hand, Kyo took one look at it, and with a nonchalant shrug, threw it against the floor with enough force to shatter the delicate device into small, unrecognizable pieces. He turned to Akito once again with the same calm smile. She was far from returning the gesture.
Her screech rang in his ears, enough so to clear some of the light haze his mind was in from the alcohol he drank, which really wasn't a lot…the bartender on duty was not that generous. First time drinker and already he knew he could hold his liquor better than most. Yet all he wanted was to feel the freedom of release…free from the doubts, the reservations, and the cautious nature that has defined and confined his sense of self. He wanted to be free from it all.
Be free…to break away from her.
“Bill me, you sick LUNATIC.” He really should have anticipated her response to that.
Her slap had bite to it, evidenced by the red mark distinct on his cheek. He didn't think his reflexes were that slow but really, after that smack to the face, he was quite alert and very swift to react.
Gifts were always being sent to the estate for her. Rare were the times that she bothered to look at them twice and very rarely did she care to accept them. That phone was one such rarity…it even came in a nice soft lilac-colored wrapping with a deep purple ribbon to tie it all together, all still nicely stored in a private box she had hidden in her storage chest along with an old stuffed toy rat that she had received ages ago from the same person.
It was highly unlikely that Yuki would be giving her anything anymore if his cold response from earlier was any indication.
She pushed past the tall teen and stomped her way to the elevator, fiercely hoping that the Neko was too taken aback from her slap to catch the flash of hurt in her eyes. She furiously willed it away, refusing to have it take root in her heart. There will be no doubt…she would not acknowledge it. She would not allow either to touch her very thoughts.
The security badge she held in her hand was ripped away, at the same time an arm wrapped around her middle, unwilling to let her go. She didn't care to hold back her thoughts any longer.
Her shrieks were nothing compared to her physical attempts to free herself from his grip. Pocketing her badge, he used both arms to drag her back to a far wall. “Taking the stairs ain't half bad…you should try it.”
“That is it…THAT IS IT!!! When I return to the estate, that FOOL of a guardian of yours will know that I am NOT putting up with YOUR EXISTENCE ANY LONGER—OOMPH!”
He held her firm against the wall after having rammed her back against it, stilling her verbal and physical rampage. The silence was louder than ever after she quieted down…strange. Reigning in his anger once again as he took in steady breaths, he opened his eyes and stared down at the core of all his pain and regrets.
It was so odd to feel between his large hands her thin shoulders. He certainly towered over her small form, but to actually touch her, hold her against his body…how very easy it was to physically break her. It would take no amount of effort to do it. He was surprised that his light shove sent her slamming against the wall. He did feel a trace of joy at that, but also a faint pang of worry. It was immediately snuffed.
He did however want to keep himself in check. He did not go through all the trouble of coming here to the exhibit hall and then waiting for her to show up to be for nothing. He needed to do what needed to be done.
“That hurt, rotten freak…” Shaking her head to clear the ringing in her ears, Akito looked to the eyes that towered over her, the red-orange coloring darkening by the second. Intimidating the fiercest of opponents but doing nothing to abate her rage…to be `pissed off' would not accurately describe her state at this moment.
Her eyes darkened to a degree of their own, her sudden calm demeanor surprising him. “You will regret ever laying your hands on me, filthy monster. And it won't be you who will `reap the benefits' of your actions.”
`Tohru…Shishou…' Really, he couldn't help his spontaneous reaction when the words registered and what it meant. He shoved her against the wall again.
“AND YOUR WORDS DON'T?!” he yelled back as he held his hand against her mouth. He knew he had to be careful…teeth were known to be sharp. His breathing became heavier, his hold on his restraints becoming weaker. “Do you have ANY idea how hard it is not to break youHERE AND NOW? DO YOU?!
She wisely stilled her pathetic flailing to free herself. Her eyes became colder to look into…her rage mirroring his.
“I honestly don't care anymore of what you think of me. Your `approval' was never going to happen anyway…FINE, I accept that.” He stood back from his close proximity to her, his hand over her mouth falling back to his side to clench into a tight fist. His face was turned away to look down at the floor between their feet. “Since when did you drag Shishou into our arrangements, Akito? WHEN?”
Sudden amusement struck her hard, his pathetic attempts to remain civilized compounded by the most ridiculous question. She had to laugh, lightly so because her back ached no thanks to the fool before her.
His fist was raised before he realized it and shot out to connect with her face. He barely managed to steer his fist and ram it against the wall beside her head. It was enough to stop her quiet laughter but did nothing to remove the amusement on her face.
You are so PITIFUL. But you must already know that so I'll move along. `When' you ask did I `drag' that man into `our arrangements'…listen to how you phrased that question!” Her eyes were wide with an eerie joy that would still the hearts of brave men. She was all too thrilled to finally tell him the whole truth…each and every one.
“You honestly believe it has all to do with YOU. Always YOU and it could never be anything else but about YOU. What arrogance…”
His quivering body boiled with a fierce anger that was only held back by the thinnest of threads. He had to know when it all changed…when it came to be about Kazuma's future in the family and not his own.
“You never could listen very well, baka Neko. You would've realized the truth when you heard it.” His verbal backlash was still echoing in her ears, but she continued on without letup with the same disdainful air. “My arrangements with Kazuma were never about YOU. And to be completely and UTTERLY honest, even making that SILLY BET with you so long ago was NEVER about YOU.”
The raging turmoil in his eyes swiftly turned horror-struck, his jaw clenched tightly. His anger stilled from boiling over just enough to actually listen to what she was now saying. How could it be…how could what should have been as simple as a bet not have been for what it was?
“FINALLY YOU'RE LISTENING! How LIBERATING it is to see it in your eyes…you don't know how damn tired I am of having to endure your stupidity all these years.” Her glee ceased as her frown came back, the tone in her voice cold and hard. “But endure I did and it was NEVER because of YOU. Your presence was only to be borne for as long as it was required. Quite frankly you could've lived your life far and away from me. I did wish for it many a time when other members of the family, particularly that damn father of yours, whined their asses off about you running around loose! I DON'T CARE!”
She shoved past the still silent teen, running her fingers through her hair then only to have them massage her throbbing temples. She felt a heavy weight in her chest but paid it no mind. She was not about to let this moment pass without putting the rebellious Neko back in his rightful place…beneath her.
“You know…” she softly began, “it took me two weeks to find out that you had harmed what was mine and another week to get over the damn fever as a result of it. I was without any idea of how best to punish you for it…”
She momentarily paused to silently gasp as a sharp pain pierced her chest but most of all to reign in her urge to claw the young man behind her before moving on. Her soft tone did not relent. “Regardless, Kazuma was involved the instant you dared to rise above your place and do what you did. It's why the BOTH of you were summoned that day years ago. So really, the fault that Kazuma is anywhere near involved as he is now with me is because of you. Do you feel better knowing that now?”
She turned back to see Kyo unmoving from his spot as before. His hands were trembling at his sides, but little else moved.
“WHO made the initiative to confront me about Yuki? WHO accepted that offer about defeating Yuki in a match? I knew then as I do now…as you FINALLY realize now…this whole mess was NEVER about YOU and all about US. So…you actually gave me the perfect answer to my dilemma from earlier…what better punishment for you than to be beaten down time and again, OVER and OVER…that spark of defiance to me dimming with each defeat. Do you understand, my little stupid Cat…YOU provided your own punishment…your BET was your punishment for having harmed Yuki back then…for daring to DEFY ME.”
She walked forth determinedly to face Kyo's still down-turned head. Her gaze was as hard as the marble floor beneath her feet. “Well, look up, little bake-mono! Where's the PRIDE of the Neko now? You want to hear it `plain', then LOOK UP and LISTEN!”
And he did, his stoic expression remaining as met her unwavering gaze with his own.
“You could have easily ceased your own suffering if you only learned to LET IT GO. You were of no importance to me…I would have let you alone. Poor, pathetic, STUPID Cat… (Heavily sighs) Do you `get it' now? My arrangements with Kazuma have been and always shall be about what matters, which obviously excludes you. Time and again I came to him however it was more convenient to reiterate my position on those matters. If it made him more amenable to my position that I offered to extend your release beyond our original contract, then all the better for ME, not YOU. (Pause) Is this `plain' enough for you? Have we come to an understanding now, my little monster?”
He understood…he understood all too well.
“You used me. You used Shishou. All this time…” No feeling was reflected in his statements, his voice quietly trailing off, his eyes seeing nothing before him and yet seeing everything clearly for the first time.
He couldn't understand it…how he now felt so cold…and so very alone. It was absurd, he knew, to feel that way. Where was that rage that held him practically prisoner this whole time that had been simmering in him all these years, spiking at an all time high when Rin visited him that morning and raising pure hell as the day progressed? WHERE THE HELL WAS IT?
From the moment the Nezumi literally walked into their lives…his life…Kazuma's life…YEARS AGO…
When the training started for the Nezumi back then…to when Yuki returned to the dojo this summer to help…
Yes, even when Kazuma had ordered him to refrain from instigating any altercations with Yuki… Each and every instance the Nezumi brushed their lives…
`That bet…'
Acceptance…approval…respect… To be wanted. Anything he may have hoped at some point in his life to obtain from the clan head…his `god'…should he win against the Nezumi in one match…just ONE.
It was a lie that HE had made himself believe. HE had created the illusion so well by accepting the damn bet. HE had also created the incentive to win…the horror of his confinement should he not win by his high school graduation. HE had been the one to want to prove himself so eagerly that HE the NEKO was worth the notice of the infamous head of their family.
After all his tries and worries and vain hopes…even the wishful thinking…
`It was never to be.'
And what was even more pathetic, Akito never cared enough either way. She had used the darkest of their family traditions well to her advantage. Whenever it most suited her purpose…to humiliate the Cat or to have Kazuma bend to her whim when it struck…that bet did it all for her. No doubt she was well satisfied with the results. He could honestly say that should he walk away now and never return to their family, as he had planned to do after confronting her this one last time, she would never look twice in his direction, family opinions be damned.
`Akito had won long ago without having to raise one damn finger.'
Rejection had never felt so hollow yet painful. How could such a void in his being feel so full that it crushed his beating heart?
“Shishou's dojo…it—”
That dojo is a business like any other branch connected to the family estate. Kazuma inherited it from Master Haji and has since administrated over it.” Exhausted as she was, her temper was now at its limit. “Does THAT clarify THAT matter for you? Really…how sad to see the communication skills between `father' and `son' severely lacking—ACK!”
He took care to keep his grip on her throat firm but not crushing. He did after all wanted her to be coherent enough to hear him and understand him for once. The eyes of the Neko glimmered with the repressed anger and hurt, his voice low and frigid as he gritted his teeth in response.
“If that is what you value most…CONTROL over anything and everything…then keep it. `Cause when, not if, WHEN I rip it all away from you, it'll be all the sweeter for ME. And I'll start by ripping away what's closest to home for the BOTH of us… What his own mom couldn't do, I can and will…he'll be as BROKEN as you made this pathetic family out to be.”
Difficulty in breathing did not stop the furious machinations her mind went through when he spoke. Her shocked gaze morphed into bitter fury…and desperation. She shot her hand out to claw his face if only a bit but his hand clamped down hard on her raised wrist, slamming her arm and her against the unforgiving wall.
“Good…glad we have an understanding.” He dropped her unceremoniously to the floor, her legs giving way under her. Stepping away from her flailing arms as she tried to grab him and keep him from leaving, he calmly turned his back on her and walked away.
“Don't you…(heavily gasping)…come…here…
His stride never slowed as he marched forward to the elevator, her outburst having no effect on his mind either as her one emotional facial expression replayed itself continuously in his recollections, fueling his need to see her brought down and how easy it was all along.
The `ding' of the elevator cut clearly through her strained yelling, and he quickly stepped in, swiped his security badge to activate the lift, and fiercely punched the button for the bottom floor.
The elevator took its time but as the doors slid shut behind him silently, he kept his back to the doors. Despite the ardent need from his Neko spirit to turn back, he repressed the urge severely, refusing to play the pet of the deranged clan head any longer. He never once looked back to the fallen clan head.
He would always come to regret that decision.
— And if you wrong us… —
“Whoever thought up…(gasping)…of the RIDICULOUS security protocols at this exhibit…(heavily breathes in)…should be SHOT.”
Yuki had never thought that so many stairs existed in a building had he not stepped on each one…or dragged himself across them more like it. He realized too late how heavily he had relied on Kagura's strength to pull his dead weight up the stairwell. Out of breath and very exhausted as he reached the last steps on the last flight of stairs, he admitted his faults wholeheartedly.
Looking back on it now, he realized how misplaced his confidence was. Pain like never before had shot up his leg continually as his swift pace up the stairs was reduced to a crawl, his sprain protesting viciously each time he took a step up the stairs. After having climbed only two flights of stairs, he was ready to call it quits, eager to call down to Kagura if she had been there. The Boar was sadly long gone, the echo of the slamming door below having resounded up the stairwell. So onward he had gone, the remaining flights of stairs now miles long from his vantage point then.
Needless to say, he had rested often, opting to hop up a few steps, only to stop again. Using his hands and knees to literally crawl up a few of the stairs was not something he enjoyed, but since no one was around to see his humiliation, he performed the action often. He was certain the resulting stains on his clothing would send his brother into a cardiac arrest.
He rested at the top of the stairs, leaning heavily against the door, highly tempted to slide down and lay himself out on the floor…he was so exhausted, even breathing was a chore. Perhaps he'll be so tired that it'll numb the throbbing pain from his sprain. What would he give for some painkillers…nice little powder or even in capsules. He wasn't picky this time. Hatori would be proud of him.
He bore it all, though…each shortness of breath, each drop of perspiration, each moment of pain…he endured it for her. He owed her that much. What he had said to her last…
He knows…he KNOWS the level of difficulty involved when dealing with Akito. To even carry on a short, civil conversation in her usually stifling presence was nothing short of navigating a minefield that may just blow up because of the mere presence of the other. Her manipulation of the conversations…her scathing rebukes…her sometimes cryptic remarks…her interpretation of the world around them…her truths that she would never give up for anything…
Truths…so many were put out there today, painfully so he may add. The full truth regarding the ownership of the dojo…he really had never given much thought to his position as the head of the family beyond his relationship with the Board of Elders and his involvement with caring for the welfare of their family. Those two in and of itself were no small matters, yet…
If only he could have looked into their family business and financial matters more closely. If only he had paid just a bit more attention. If only he had tried harder to fix this at some point before now.
`If only…'
But…if nothing else…if he had to ask for just one thing…only one…
His back slid down against the door as he heavily exhaled, looking at nothing before his tired eyes.
Whether it had to do with his position in the Jyuunishi circle or simply because he knew Akito far better than anyone (he leaned more toward the latter), he was adept at diffusing a situation before it escalated further…at least, he thought so. He would smoothly intervene as needed when those in the Jyuunishi crossed paths with Akito or her affairs, Kagura's and Ritsu's dilemma coming to mind. Their relationship…Seto's involvement with Ritsu's family business…he was there to take care of it all before any clan headship was officially bestowed on him.
Of course, his interference was not always to everyone's satisfaction—the disaster at Obon came to mind—but it was in everyone's best interest that at least Akito was appeased. And if he maneuvered the words and situation just right, he could sway the temperamental clan head's line of thinking at the moment. He could…he has…he handled Akito better than all the others, he did.
`So how could I have said that to her? How could I—'
Indistinct muffled noises came from behind the closed door as his ear was up against it. The door was too thick and far from the source of the noise, but it was enough to detect a conversation of sorts…a loud interchange at that.
`If it was just Akito up here… Kureno probably came up here with her.' Confused but not giving it further thought, he shakily stood up, taking in a deep breath to ease his pain somewhat. His pain…he wryly smiled. `I deserve it…'
He carefully opened the door then softly closed it behind him. He calmly limped his way into the wide hallway, ignoring the finer antiques on display as he passed by them.
His calm, limp stride came to a halt, his gaze sharpened as his perceptive eyes looked all around him at what could not be seen but clearly felt. The silence was heavy, oppressive…very cold. A cold that settled into the marrow of his bones…there was no warmth from the glow of the spot lighting or from the setting sun that peeked through a number of barriers…the outer building's glass façade, then a multitude of hanging tapestries, and then the sixth's floor impenetrable tinted glass walls. The sun's rays felt muted by all the barriers.
Dark…it felt dark. But it was a darkness that crept up in shadows where your nightmares are reality and all else has been taken away. A gloom that was pitch black and no light could pierce it. A darkness…gloom…it all settled heavily in his chest. His hands slightly trembled.
No amount of cold and dread that weighed him down could hold him back from dashing through the elaborately decorated hallway to the floor's reception area where Akito's shout came from. The slow beat of his heartbeat shot up like he was running in a marathon, the blood in his veins rushing through them so fast that it hurt to breathe. All his aches and pains became muted by the onslaught of his body's abrupt reactions. When moments ago his mind was over its brim with too much, now it was strangely empty of conceivable thoughts…
He turned a corner…
— …if YOU wrong US… —
“Yeah, we were lookin' to come here sooner anyway to…uh…”
“The exhibit, of course. I mean…look around. It's great…stuff. Right, Hiko-sempai?”
“Is there a problem with us being here, Honda-san?” growled Hiko.
Intimidated Tohru swiftly bowed repeatedly in apology, “No, no! I was…just that I wasn't expecting really anyone from the dojo to come here—”
“Look, like I told the guys here…we were just trying to get away from the hype of the tournament and so…here we are,” explained Hajime for the second time. `Damn nosy Honda-san…just lay off already!'
`Rotten liars…the whole bunch of idiots.' Rin was not completely oblivious to the leers a few of the members from Kazuma's dojo were throwing her way…she knew her attire quite often had that affect on the male populace. But what really had her brow tick in annoyance were the foolish explanations they were spewing.
`A sudden horde of dojo members just happened to come down to this end of the building to escape the media? They must have had to go through the journalists to get here! And if they didn't want the attention, they could've just stayed in their locker rooms until things died down. Pft…with their kind of ego, why would they even want to avoid the media?'
She stood close by Tohru, giving a hard glare to any that dared to step in her direction. It didn't pass her notice that the member called Hajime was looking all around him, not so much as observing the valuable artifacts on display but rather in search of someone…
“Are you guys here for Kyo?” she spoke out for the first time, immediately drawing everyone's attention.
“Uh…Kyo-sempai's here?” anxiously asked a member.
“He actually came here?” Hajime swiftly turned on Tohru angrily. “He was with you the whole time?! Why didn't you get him to come help us out at the tournament instead of that damn priss—?”
“Hey, just back off there, Hajime-san!”
“Kagura-san!” cried out Tohru over Hajime's towering form.
They were all congregated at the main entrance as the Boar approached them from around a corner with quick strides. Annoyed with the sudden influx of visitors but certainly not anticipating Kagura's presence, Rin felt impelled to ask, “How did you get here, Kagura? For how long have you been here?”
I could ask everyone here those questions.” Coming to a halt in front of Tohru, Kagura stood tall against the overbearing wall that Hajime presented. “Is there a problem, Hajime-san?”
Hajime shoved an accusing finger in Tohru's direction. “Look, Kagura, that girl—”
Kagura was quick to react as she slapped his hand away, loudly remarking, “I don't recall being `familiar' with you, so please refrain from using my first name so freely! And don't point at a lady, idiot! How rude!”
Hiko now joined alongside Hajime, his bulk adding more to the intimidating wall they presented over the petite girl. “We were almost DEFEATED at the finals because of HER failure to help—”
Distraught, Tohru shakily replied, “I…I wasn't…I didn't know—”
“Nothing of what had happened was Tohru-kun's fault, you…TOAD WITH EARS!” cut in Kagura angrily as she continued to stand proudly with no sign of backing down. “And anyway, Yun-chan took care of it just fine, so now you all have your precious win, you ungrateful sons of—
Although the elevator was further inside, the soft chime was enough to dispel the tense argument as they young men rushed to the area, disregarding the ladies altogether. Hajime only gave a sneer in Tohru's direction before joining his party.
“Kyo-kun…” Tohru quietly called out and was soon rushing past all of them to be the first to greet the Neko as he got off the elevator.
Just as she was about to follow, Kagura abruptly pulled to a stop and grabbed a hold of Rin's arm to prevent her moving forward as well. Rin turned to her with a sharp glare only to be taken aback at the flash of horror across the Boar's face.
“Did she say…Kyo-kun? He's…he's HERE?!” anxiously cried out Kagura, her grip on her fellow Jyuunishi's arm tightening with each word she spoke.
“Iie, Kyo-kun! I'm okay, really. I'm just…very glad you're okay as well,” softly remarked Tohru, relief evident in her voice and on her face. Yet as she looked closer, her breath hitched. “Kyo-kun! Your cheek…it's so red! Like a…hand print—”
“It's nothing…I'm feelin' great, okay?” He reassured her further by taking a hold of her hand and giving it a slight squeeze, a small grin now in place. “Let's get out of here…we're gonna have that dinner party with your friends, right?”
“H-hai!” It seemed genuine to Tohru, though slightly `off', yet she wasn't going to question his sudden levity. He was so downtrodden before, but now he seemed as if he found a purpose to continue on. She broadly smiled….she was grateful for the change. `The Neko is standing tall and proud once again. That's how Kyo-kun should be…'
Kyo kept her hand in his, leading them both across the large lobby toward the main entrance, ignoring all the grandeur of the exhibit around him along with the incessant questions from his teammates…all except one. The one that came from a female he's known for so long…
“Kyo-kun…where were you just now?”
`And why am I not surprised that she's here, too? Probably came lookin' for me…' Certainly enough as he turned to look behind him, Kagura stood there in the middle of the grand marble floor amongst the displays, and to his amusement, still clad in her uniform. “Pft, don't you think it's time you got out of that getup? All these idiots here already have—”
“Answer me, Kyo-kun!” she harshly cut him off as she marched forward and now stood toe-to-toe with him, clearly unwilling to move from her spot. “Where were you?”
His moment of levity came to a screeching halt as his eyes glazed over with a hard glint. He felt his jaw tightened as he bit out, “I only did what needed to be done. So just leave it ALONE.
Her hard stare deepened as she matched her tone with his, “Did you just see Akito-san, Kyo-kun?! Do NOT dodge the question!”
“Kyo-kun…did…” Tohru's voice trailed off as she inspected Kyo's face carefully. The mark on his face…an angry red color…the shape of the hand was small. Kyo looked away from her stare. That was enough for her to know what had happened. “Kyo-kun…why did you—”
“He did what had to be done, Tohru. And YOU, Kagura, keep out of this!” Rin went to stand by Kyo to look down on the Boar, but was only awarded a fierce glare from her. She paid it no mind and pushed on. “Akito needed to be confronted, and who better than Kyo?!”
Youknew Akito-san was HERE?!” yelled Kagura as her temper was now brimming over.
“Tohru, it's fine!” interjected Rin with a high temper of her own. “I damn well knew, and I'm glad I had followed the prick to this building! To see that FREAK'S overbearing shadow over us GONE would be the perfect end to my day!
Half-way through Rin's heated explanation, Kagura waved her off exasperated and turned on Kyo once again. This time, however, her anger now morphed into sheer panic.“Kyo-kun, just PLEASE answer me! Did you talk with Yu—”
She was interrupted by the harsh grip on her elbow as Kyo brusquely jerked her to see his enraged face up close. She was too shocked into silence to even voice a protest to the man-handling.
“KAGURA, ENOUGH, OKAY?! I don't want to discussthis anymore…IT'S OVER!!! I'm done with THEM and with ALL THEIR SHIT!!! Stick with them if you want, but you leave me out of it! As far as I'm concerned, they're DEAD to me. DEAD!!!
He pushed her off of his close presence with no amount of delicacy, his breathing coming in short spurts after his fierce declaration. Both hands came to rub against his face hard, hoping to quell the sudden queasiness that was rising not from his stomach, but from a bond he'd rather do without, especially now.
He looked to the beaded bracelet on his wrist, damning it to the outer limits of existence as it gave off the faintest of glows, burning him from deep within. His Neko spirit stirred in what could only be perceived as rebellion. Rebelling against what exactly, he had no clue, but he was tired of it and its mysteries. He was damn sick of it.
Whatever internal struggle the teen was steeped in, Kagura was oblivious to it as she could only quietly look away to the floor after having been yelled at and callously shoved away. How else could she be? He was not reacting immaturely on any level. She sensed his full awareness behind his declaration. He had sincerely meant each word.
It was as he said it was. It was over.
“Then…I pity your spirit. It must be just as sad as mine.” She knew her soft-spoken words didn't reach the hearing of the eaves-dropping members of the dojo that had retreated a ways at the entrance. But Kyo had heard each one and that is what counted as she pushed past him, leaving without another word to him, Tohru, or Rin.
She was quickly gone around a corner she took, an unsettling silence left behind her as they stood still for a time. Kyo vaguely remembered that it oddly reminded him of the time he had to chase down that `boy' at this very exhibit…
He immediately squelched the thought from progressing further. He was done with the mysteries. Looking to his hated bracelet, he did put thought into motion on how he was going to get rid of it to be fully free. He will need to experiment with it, the need to be apart from it now becoming his main goal along with bringing down both the `god' of the damnable bond and the pet Rat. How easy it was now that he saw it clearly…to think that it was always there right in front of him…
“Come on…” he sighed heavily as he grasped Tohru's hand. She did not budge one inch. Tugging her more firmly, she still refused. He looked to her but she refused to even look up to his face. He glanced over to Rin, the question plain in his eyes. She only responded with a roll of her eyes, easily conveying that she didn't know what was bothering the lady beside them.
The tears rolling down her cheeks stunned him into silence as she finally looked up to him, her emotional outburst now followed by her unrelenting desire to be heard. “Please, PLEASE tell me you don't mean to say such things! How could…I know, I KNOW I don't understand everything about you or your family or what's between you all, but to want THAT for them… PLEASE Kyo-kun, don't ever wish that for yourself! You don't know the pain—”
“Excuse me?” he cut in with pained retort. “I don't know what PAIN is?!”
“NO, Kyo-kun, I—”
“Pain as in when your mother is here one moment and gone the next?! I think I know PLENTY of what PAIN is, Tohru! You're not the only one that's lost a mom, only mine decided to off herself because she couldn't handle her PAIN anymore! I should have a freakin' award for being the PILLAR of PAIN!
“Then WHY would you want that to happen again?! Why would you want to feel that PAIN again?! It will always stay with you wherever you go, whatever you do, ALWAYS, NEVER LEAVING YOU!” Her head inclined once again into her hands, her sobs wracking her small frame as she brokenly whispered, “I-I don't WANT that for you…you suffered enough…all of you have…”
The stillness in the air was heavier than ever before. He should have known how selfless she would have taken his passionate remarks from before. Closing his eyes briefly as he took in deep breath, he opened them to look down on the emotional mess Tohru had become.
No, he did not regret making his remarks…never. But he had hoped to have protected her better from the uglier side of their curse, the part that was closely hidden behind the masks they all wore as a harmonious circle of Jyuunishi. She had seen chinks in their masks before but never to this degree. Never to the point where he had taken it.
It was all the more reason that she be done with that part of the family…the heads of that twisted curse. And he would walk away from that lot with her in tow, willingly or unwillingly.
He took the napkin Rin had offered him, knowing as well as he did the decision he had come to. Her unrelenting support through this was a small measure of relief for him. He carefully moved Tohru's hands away from her face as he delicately wiped her face and nose clean. She had quieted considerably enough that he knew she was ready to listen to what he had to say. He prayed fervently that she would finally understand him on this matter once and for all.
“This is exactly why I don't want you near him or that part of the family. If they have driven me to this point in my life, what's to say they won't come and strip you of the goodness you have? You won't know it until it's too late, so please…” He leaned closer down as his hands came up to steady her face, allowing him to stare straight into her eyes, his voice gently pleading for her understanding. “Please trust me on this. I am living proof of what damage they are capable of. I don't want that for you…you should never have to suffer…not one bit.”
A solitary tear rolled down her flushed face but she kept her composure for the most part. Not moving from her place, she saw in his eyes how sincerely he wished for her to understand him on this and…she did. She saw his determination to see her protected from the darker side of his family by keeping her away from the source of their problems.
She was lost in a sea of uncertainty, for to follow Kyo out this building's door would truly mean to leave Yuki behind and never look back.
No amount of words of wisdom from her mother could help her to decide what to do now.
“Kyo-kun, what's the—”
His horror-stricken face was the last she saw as she was dragged towards the entrance by Rin. Kyo never once looked back to her as he flew off further inside, a slew of his teammates now following close behind him. She lost sight of his back around the corner…
“Isuzu-san! What's going on?” demanded to know Tohru as she was unwillingly dragged a step further away. She looked to the stubborn Horse only to see the same horror-stricken gaze from Rin as she stared upward to the floors above them. “Isuzu-san…”
The floor trembled beneath their feet.
— …if you wrong her… —
Yuki was brought to a halt as he examined the much larger room, suddenly aware that the source of the oppressive air was here. He could now only hear his heavy, anxious breathing over such silence, the maze of displays somewhat disorienting him. There were so many compared to the last time he had been there…
`By the statue!' He had never before run as fast as he had, jerking to the left and right, around about, just in time to reach the statue and the closing doors of the elevator. The back of the individual in the lift was unmistakable…
Choking breaths caught his attention then, from the far left wall… He wasted no time contemplating on what had happened, his focus now on what was happening. And there she was…slumped against the wall…on the floor…
She was convulsing.
“AKITO!” The emotional dam that held back his voice all this time was finally gone, his breath coming in deep heaves. He darted forward and was immediately crouched next to her thrashing form. “Akito, I'm here, can you hear me?!”
His heartbeat pounded in his ears, his throat painfully tightening from within. He couldn't even control his trembling as fearful as he was. It was far too wrenching to see her in like this. When once she held herself proudly and with grace, her body now shook rapidly and without a measure of control. Her eyes, once commanding authority all on their own with a mere glance were now jerking repeatedly to her right, never recognizing his presence let alone his frantic voice.
Too much went through his mind all at once. His hands with a thought of their own searched her pockets. Empty. His heart continued to pound furiously against his chest, his breathing heaving heavily as his hands trembled uncertainly of what to do next.
`Where's her cell phone?!'
He reached for her hands but they were ripped away by her continuing convulsions.
`How long has she been convulsing?!'
He sat down to cradle her thrashing head carefully on his lap, hoping that in this position it wouldn't jerk so much to cause her pain later on.
`How can I get a hold of Hatori…I didn't bring a phone! I didn't…I didn't…'
It was a stabbing pain that came with each beat of his heart. He clenched his teeth to bear it, but the pain…he had said to himself that he deserved the pain, he did. But…
— …wrong me… —
`WHY?! Why would Kyo…he never even looked back!' The darkness he had felt all around him now settled in his bones, only to transform into a sickening rage that left him nauseous. “How could you—”
All thought to speak aloud halted as Akito suddenly ceased in her seizure. The jerky movements of her limbs and eyes just…stopped. He forced the pounding of his heartbeat to the farthest part of his perceptive hearing, straining to hear her breathing…her harsh, raspy breathing. He swallowed thickly, the sharp pain in his throat not subsiding in the least.
“A-Akito? Can you hear me?” he softly asked as he leaned down closer to her face. She remained unresponsive, her eyes, although open, continued to stare listlessly straight through him. He pressed dried lips together firmly, slightly trembling as the rest of his body was.
His grim gaze never wavered however as he leaned over, his forehead coming in contact with her perspiring forehead. Taking in a heavy breath, he closed his eyes for a moment then opened them as he slowly exhaled. He didn't know where he drew the strength from but he managed to smile down at her. It was a tremulous smile but it was hopefully enough to reach her from whatever pit she was mentally imprisoned in.
He pulled away just enough so that she could hopefully see him better. He swallowed again, the pain in his throat remaining. “I'm here, Akito. Can you hear me?”
He brought his hands up to gently smooth over her sticky hair away from her clammy skin. His gentle ministrations to her face never ceased as he delicately ran his fingers across every feature of her face.
“Akito…please…please…don't… Akito…I'm…(sniffles)…I'm not leaving. I…I'm—”
Her strained breathing halted.
His wide eyes, glistening as beautifully as dewdrops on a blade of grass, took in the abrupt change with a stricken horror. His mouth couldn't even form the words at first…his breathing seemed to have stopped as hers had. His heartbeat pounding like a hammer before now fell silent to his ears.
Was it a moment? A mere tick of seconds? He couldn't tell. It felt eternally damning…
A piercing yelp resounded off the walls, unnoticed by the teen that was now frantically collecting the young woman on the floor into his arms, rocking back and forth while trying to reach the deaf ears of one that no longer noticed his presence. His face was beautiful even now as his tears gracefully came down his reddened cheeks.
“AKITO!!! AKITO!!!Don't… WAKE UP!!! AKITO, WAKE UP!!! He shook her carefully but firmly by the shoulders as he cradled her listless form against his chest. Her head lolled back and forth against his shoulder, her eyes devoid of anything resembling life. His lips quivered as much as his hands were…as much as he was shaking his head in firm denial.
He looked up for the first time in what had to have been eons. All around him were display cases or tempered glass windows overlooking the hanging tapestries of the main hall.
`The elevator…' He had no badge and neither did she. She had to have had it…she would never take the stairs.
`The floor…' Nothing like a badge was near her but there were bits and pieces of a cell phone all over the marble floor. How…it couldn't have been by her hand. He knew of her attachment to his gift. Only one other was here with her…
`The stairs…yes, I can take them—' His strength could take him down the long flight of stairs but with her in his arms… He would drop her, of that he was sure of.
He yanked his anxious, wandering eyes back to the person in his arms…whose heartbeat he felt steadily weaken as her lips began to tremble faintly, her inert body struggling desperately to take a breath. He held her closer, hoping his warmth…his presence could reach her when words could not.
Looking at her now…seeing no barriers between them… Those vacant eyes of hers that were once brimming with a power that could strip him bare of confidence and worth, now they just simply stared at nothing, much like a doll…as unresponsive as a doll…
Yet, as delicate and fragile as she looked, this young woman was no doll. She was the clan head of the most influential and highly reclusive family in existence, and she was quite merciless when she saw fit to be so. There were years in his life that she showed such cruelty with him in particular, her words and actions strong enough to render him immobile in those times. She would have him see the darkness in their lives—it was frightening in its potency—as only she saw it.
Yes, she was quite…unique. He closed his eyes to those distant memories as he drew in closer to her face, tenderly tracing the frown lines that were no longer present because she was…
He was asked repeatedly by others and even his own sanity questioned him. Why did he remain by her side then and now, knowing full well how she was, is, and somehow always will be? Was the answer too simple, he thought? It was always there for others to see…if they had bothered to accept it for what it was. Therein was the problem…too many would not believe what they see and so would not accept.
Was it so hard to accept his reason…his truth?
— “…You mustn't fret, Yuki. There are those that just can't or won't accept the truth that exists. It's no fault of ours…”—
The echo of her words that were said long ago rang loud in his mind. And he found himself in complete agreement. He gently laid her out on the floor, keeping one hand under her neck to tilt it up. “I won't have it….I won't let that darkness take you. I won't.
His quietly said declaration was followed with his lips on her own as he carefully breathed into her mouth, his unoccupied hand now clamping down on her nose. He had seen this done many times…at school, from Hatori's medical books and charts… It was a small blessing that she had not swallowed her tongue as he had first feared. This would be his first try with CPR—he had sworn to Hatori that he would never do it—so he really didn't need anything else to add on to the difficulty of this task.
He started compressions on her chest then came back down to breathe into her once more. Her chest came up and down with each breath he breathed into her. He resumed the compressions and was back to her lips. His routine did not vary…
— “I'm so tired…”—
In an elevator away from the prying eyes and keen hearing of those opposed to her very existence, she had vocalized her fatigue that plagued her each moment she breathed. His jaw tightened at the memory. His chest contracted as well, but he couldn't tell if it was because of what he remembered or because there was still no response—
`More…she needs more.' And he freely gave…he gave it his all…
He persisted…and her body denied him repeatedly. He would think of so many other times that her body would stubbornly refuse to quit. Why now when he needed her to fight on…
— “All will be as it should be…do not worry.” —
This was not how it should be, even if many including her have come to accept her premature mortality. He outright refused to accept this one `truth', especially now. He kept up his endeavors to bring her back.
He would not fail her, not in this. She who had done so much in her life…a life full of strife and agony yet through it all, she never wavered. She never broke down in tears and admitted defeat. She would never yield…and neither would he.
His mind would think back on so many memories of her laughing freely when they were children. Their discovery of mud for the first time…the flower petals that showered them with its essence of innocence… He was frail and weak back then, but she would never tire of his presence…that much he felt whenever they were together. Those long ago times…they were real and cherished.
The passage of time did bring changes, not all good. But her endeavors to be with him and look after him never changed. She still stood by him, obsessing over details he hardly gave much thought. Thoughts he'd never voice were hers to lay out in the open. And for better or for worse, she would lead and he'd follow…
He'd follow because she allowed for no other to reach her behind her `wall'. Discreetly as was his nature, he stood as that wall of support. He was her shoulder when she couldn't lift her head…he was her legs when she could not stand. He was her voice when she was unable to speak. He was her interpreter when she chose to be obscure. He was the gate to her presence and the wall that she kept around her to keep others away. And so, in that sense, her enemies became his.
“Akito, WAKE UP.”
He would not give in to the overwhelming fear that was at the very edge of his sanity. He would not leave her to this, not when he still had so much to say to her…so much to apologize for… But not for forgiveness, never that…he deserved none of that.
He tried harder, calling out to her hoarsely…her name but a whisper on his dry lips…pleading…
She was…is an enormous responsibility he had unconsciously taken on when he was no more than a child. And despite all the common sense in the world telling him otherwise, he will continue to look after her when others are incapable of it. Whatever burdens she carried, he would as well.
He would do it all…without regret…
A sharp intake of breath broke through the deathly silence as he was about to start compressions again. It was faint but she was breathing on her own. He hurriedly lifted her body to his chest, his own breathing strained as he softly pleaded to her ears, “Please…please…wake up…please, Akito…I'm sorry. (Sniffle) I'm so sorry.”
Sniffling slightly, he looked around helplessly at the empty room full of inanimate objects. Objects that did nothing to help him… `Someone, please…PLEASE… Help me…please…'
He no sooner heard the stairwell door slam that he lifted himself and Akito up off the floor. Cold relief washed him over as he started to make his way through the displays, cradling his load close to his chest. Then there was no further need as the individual fairly burst into the main room, frantically searching for them.
Kagura had begun going up the stairwell calmly, with no rush as she knew the two on the sixth floor prized privacy above all else. Yet when she felt the sharp pain in her bond…a pain unlike any other she's ever felt… She had never flown through so many steps so fast. And when she reached the top floor and fairly knocked the door down, it was by sheer miracle she had enough voice left to call out. She didn't stop her charge through the hallway as she rounded a corner and came across the familiar room. And she finally found them…too late, it seemed.
“OH MY GOD!!!” she screeched as she saw the apparently lifeless body in Yuki's arms, her hands clamped to her throat. “SHE'S DE—”
“She's breathing…I think.”
His voice was soft and faint yet Kagura heard him clearly as cold relief washed over her as well. But now her attention was drawn to his face…so clammy and pale, visibly straining to catch his breath. His face still glittered with his tears of desperation…he had been up here alone to face this unexpected ordeal. And his eyes that were so expressive and intense in their beauty that would render her breathless…those large gray-violet jewels were looking to her in silent plea.
She would answer his call.
Swiftly she brought herself to his side and gently took Akito's slack body from Yuki's quivering arms. Kneeling down, she checked the unconscious woman's vitals, years of hard training at Kazuma's dojo ingrained into her brain on how to administer first aid and then some. She remained focused on her task, never allowing her attention to divert to the visibly distraught and likely ill Nezumi.
She completely missed his quiet retreat.
“Yun-chan, her pulse is slow but steady and her breathing is doing much better…” She had looked up to assuage his fears further, but he was no longer standing over them. She looked around her, wondering where he had wandered off to. `Ah, there he is…over by the elevator. Why's he staring at it? Oh, that's right…'
“Don't worry, Yun-chan. I have a phone here. I'll just call Hatori-niichan to…meet us…up here—ano, Yun-chan?” Yuki was obviously ignoring her, strangely transfixed with the elevator doors. Sighing heavily, she lifted Akito with ease and made her way to an available couch that was close to the elevator.
She laid Akito down carefully, unsure of what injuries the clan head might have sustained that had prompted her current condition. Checking that she was still stable, Kagura walked over to the still form of the Nezumi. He was so still, hardly breathing…
It was only then that she felt the sudden shift in their bond. The blood bond that tied them all together was now suddenly audible in her ears…loud and screeching, much like metal scraping against each other at a high pitch. She had never realized before that their bond was far from being silent…it had thrummed in her blood, soothing and tranquil as the Nezumi—
“Yun-chan, what's the ma—?!”
She dared not take a step further or speak another word. The look from the Nezumi that he pinned on her as he calmly turned to face her…the stare… It was dark, cold, and foreboding as Akito's aura had never been. His stricken face from before was now a marble perfection of splendor that betrayed nothing but his rage.
His rage that she felt in the blood of her bond…piercing her spirit in its potency with that frigid stare…eyes aglow with a call her spirit heard loud and clear.
— “…You are more than they'll ever imagine you to be. If they can't understand this or accept the truth, they are fools…”—
He had gone over to Akito's side, leaning down and whispering softly in her ear. Kagura heard nothing but knew it was important for her to try to reach the Nezumi. Yet again, though, he held her in place with just a mere shadow of his stare from before…it left her spirit trembling and cowering in fear.
She didn't know when Yuki had ceased to pin her on the spot.
She didn't know when he had walked away.
She didn't know when he had taken the spear from the statue's hand.
But she did know that he was now in front of the display cases against the wall, eyeing one case in particular. His reflection against the glass revealed nothing she hadn't already seen before.
He was too quick for her to react.
— …shall we not revenge? —
His mighty swing with the ancient spear against the display brought down the secure glass with no trouble. She screamed in shock as she crouched and turned away from the flying debris. Loud sirens blared against her eardrums, almost drowning out the still-screeching voice of her bond. Heavy scraping of another metal reached her ears as the security bars came down the wall displays with a heavy clang.
Shaking herself off slightly, she quickly went to Yuki's side, gingerly tip-toeing on the shattered glass all across the floor.
“YUN-CHAN!” Worried that he might have injured himself, she pushed off questions of why he did it for later. “Did you cut yourself, Yun-chan?! Yun-chan, answer me!”
She was once again stilled in her actions and voice as the Nezumi once again pinned her with his stare that was sending shivers through her. He then looked with disinterest to the bars that barred further intrusion into the valuable display cases. Throwing the spear to the floor with disdain, it now came to her attention that he was holding an item that had to have come from the display case. She saw his grip on it tighten, his stare now aimed at the elevator.
“Yu-Yun-chan…” she was fairly certain he could hear her above the blaring sirens, “the elevator has been locked down now. It's the security protocol…” Her comment trailed off as he stared down at the item in his hand, to the elevator, then back to his hand. `Finally, he's listening to me—'
He abruptly left her side and turned to face behind them. He stared long and hard at the tempered thick glass that made up the wall to the interior atrium of the building.
He slowly went forward, never acknowledging her…merely obsessed with staring at the glass wall as he finally reached it. He laid his left hand against the thick glass, seemingly staring at the tapestries hanging outside.
“Yun-chan…please answer me. Wha—”
He acknowledged her then…and she sincerely wished he hadn't. Not with that look of crumpled sadness and utter remorse.
“I'm sorry…I cannot keep my promise to you.”
So quiet was his response amidst the loud alarm bells. Yet it was enough to reach her ears, to reach the wheels of her mind. But she processed this all too late.
“…You're my best friend…my Nezumi.”
“Hm…then I'm your Nezumi.”
Words from one Nezumi to his `god' drifted on the unseen wind. “Let us pay our respects to the Neko, Akito.”
And…another chapter bites the dust…(07-13-09):
Many thanks go to Shakespeare for thinking up words that I could use in this fic. Very early in my story development I realized how perfect the playwright's words would help in my fic. Really and truly, many thanks!
Okay, so this chapter came out a little later than I hoped. And it's longer than the usual fare. I am so VERY sorry. I really was stuck on the chapter that follows this and of course I couldn't release this chapter (that also took me forever and a day) until I was sure the other was close to being finished, which it is. These two chapters were pretty much the cornerstone of `no return' so they had to be just right! Hopefully you'll agree.
Well, I have to say that Akito dishes it nice and…cruelly. Yep, she holds nothing back when she's pissed. And Kyo was very accommodating.Plus Yuki pretty much at the breaking point is just going to make this all come to a splendid smash. I hope that my interpretation on character reactions and such was believable.
And of course, here's my song on this chapter…Enya's “Boadicea”…pretty ominous tune if you ask me!
Wow, I've had quite the number of reviewers, fave lists and alerts, and all I can say is…THANKS! So many thanks from me to you for being supportive on this fic of mine. For all the time everyone dedicates to reading what I write, I am so very humbled and thankful!I hope to continue to be worthy of your critique and kind words. Many thanks and hope to see you soon in my next release!