Disclaimer: Fruits Basket and all its characters are properties of Takaya Natsuki-sensei and Hana to Yume comics. Everything else in this fanfic are figments of my imagination. Any similarities to name, places, yada yada yada are simply examples of the world's many coincidental mysteries.
November 22, 2002 (revised Dec. 8, 2002)
Hyouhyou Kodori : Epilogue
The beat slows down to a halt
'Till finally it ceases
We take a bow and start to depart
Despite our hearts' true wishes
Still it's just a matter of whim
For another music to begin
And we'll dance a brand new dance
It was the perfect day. That day in June, when spring was giving its final bow before making way for summer's grand entrance. The blue sky was clear, the cheerful sun gave its blessing with a pleasant smile, the cool breeze stirred playfully, causing the late spring flowers of the temple gardens to gracefully dance along with the silent song of nature.
Tooru-kun once mentioned that her mother dreamt of having traditional Shinto wedding ceremony on a day like this. Unfortunately, the circumstances of her parents' romance didn't allow for such a fantasy to become a reality. So it was only natural for a child to secretly aspire for her mother's unfulfilled dream as her own.
At first, the circumstances of Tooru-kun's own romance seemed to parallel that of her mother's… Nevertheless, Tooru-kun's two friends were determined to fulfill that dream of hers at all costs… and her loving husband is just as determined to comply. To think that even right until the last moment, the threat of waking from that dream was a harsh reality...
My heart almost stopped at the sight of Akito-san walking on the temple path with Kureno-san and Ha-niichan at tow. I'll never forget the uneasy feeling I felt those moments when we all stood and waited outside while Akito-san talked with Yun-chan. Not even Ha-niichan's reassuring glance gave any twinge of comfort.
I stood beside Momi-chan, who was leaning on the wall opposite the door to the room with a cheerful smile, despite the worry in his eyes. Haru-chan stood on the opposite side of him, arms crossed with an impassive expression on his face. We were probably hoping that Momi-chan's cheer would rub off on us. Though what we felt would probably be nothing compared to what Aya-chan was feeling.
Aya-chan stood waiting, purposely standing away from us, emitting a familiar 'don't come near me' aura that we would normally sense around Yun-chan. It was the first time I saw Aya-chan stay perfectly still in one spot, waiting with a dead serious expression on his face. Even Shi-chan couldn't get close to him. In the end, Shi-chan disappeared to somewhere.
When Akito-san and his entourage left without incident, my own sigh of relief must have been the loudest. I was ashamed to admit that… despite our collective decision to disregard whatever Akito-san orders regarding the Jyuunishi circle members' attendance to this ceremony… despite the fact that the order to maintain our absence was never given… I still bowed my head in fear, afraid to meet the reprimanding eyes of the Master of the Souma Family.
As soon as Akito-san was safely out of sight, we rushed into the waiting room to find Yun-chan still seated on the floor with his head bowed and his eyes hidden. Aya-chan was already inside, sitting beside his brother. We all stood in the room silently, waiting for one of us to ask that question that was obviously in all our minds, which remained sealed by our lips for fear of hearing the answer.
I swallowed the painful lump in my throat and gathered my courage to move my lips.
"What did he say?" Momi-chan's voice filtered through the room before I can get my own voice to obey my commands
"He said," Yun-chan began in his quiet voice, "Do whatever you want, but don't come crawling back to me when you regret it in the end."
I clenched my fists upon hearing that vague reply. Akito-san may have acknowledged Yun-chan and Tooru-kun's marriage, but it was obvious that he still hasn't accepted it.
"Does that mean, Yuki won't be dancing with me next year," Haru-chan's monotone verbalized exactly what was in my thoughts
"No, that's not it," Aya-chan's voice boomed clearly, causing all of us to jump back in surprise, "That was just Akito's way of admitting defeat," His voice toned down as he reached out to give his younger brother a reassuring hand on the shoulder, "Don't worry Yuki, no matter what Akito decides after this, everything will turn out alright."
Yun-chan simply sat there and gave us a small sad smile.
Despite that one blemish, it was still a perfect day in June. Under the clear blue sky and the sun's joyous blessing, close friends and members of the Souma and Honda family gathered together to witness and take part in the joining of their children in a quiet and solemn Shinto ceremony.
"…by now, Tooru-kun should know the little quirks that come along with Yuki-kun's hypersomnia, if there is anything you want to ask Yuki-kun of anything, THAT would be the perfect time to ask him. He's sure to say 'yes' to anything," Shi-chan teased
"Just make sure you don't imitate Kyou's style in approaching him, of Yuki will just throw or pin you on the ground," Haru-chan warned helpfully
"Sou, sou…" Aya-chan agreed as he nodded solemnly with his arms folded in front of him, "But given the circumstances, that could actually be a good thing," he suddenly added impishly as he turned to Tooru to give her a mischievous wink
"Eh?" Tooru-kun cried out in surprise as a telltale embarrassed flush started to cover her face
"NIISAN!" Yun-chan's indignant reprimand rose above the hearty laughter within our group in the reception hall, as an identical flush appeared on his face
It would be redundant to say that the western-style wedding reception that Aya-chan organized was anything but solemn. Yun-chan would probably prefer to die than admit it aloud, but Aya-chan did a wonderful job. Aya-chan arranged everything from the flowers, right to even every detail of Tooru-kun's pristine silk wedding kimono for the ceremony and the exquisite western-style gown for the wedding reception… all of it in secret, for obvious reasons. In fact, Yun-chan and Tooru-kun didn't even know about the surprise reception until only two days before their originally planned simple ceremony.
With some help with his co-conspirators, namely Shi-chan, Momi-chan and Tooru-kun's friends, and myself, we managed to get almost everyone to come. Tooru-kun's friends were able to get Tooru-kun's family. Her grandfather seemed like a nice old man, though he seemed a little confused. For some strange reason, he kept on calling Tooru-kun and Yun-chan, ' Kyoko-san and Katsuya'.
As for our side, with the exception of Kureno-san, we managed to get all the Jyuunishi to come. Ha-niisan missed the ceremony, but he arrived to the reception. Just in time to save Aya-chan from getting strangled when he started to get carried away with his public speech for the groom about the different techniques on how to keep a woman 'happy'. For some miracle, Isuzu allowed Haru-chan drag her to come without much resistance. Even Kyou-kun showed his face in both the ceremony and the early part of the reception, before practicing a new technique he probably mastered in his recent training… the uncanny ability to completely disappear out of thin air.
Amidst the gaiety of the occasion, somehow, I still couldn't get myself to join in with the festivities. It was because of a lot of things. Kyou-kun… the fatigue from the preparations… the anxiety caused by Akito-san's visit... It would also be a big lie to say that I didn't feel a tiny hint of envy. It was simply too suffocating to stay in that room full of happy people. So I made my way through one of the hall's sliding glass doors and to escape to the adjoining patio. I leaned on the railing and took in the cool late spring breeze as it blew against my face and it helped clear away the heaviness in my head.
"Are you okay?"
I turned around, startled. Yun-chan was standing by the door, he obviously followed me upon seeing my retreat. I gave him a weak smile before nodded, "Yeah… It was getting a little too wild in there."
He stepped forward and leaned on the railing beside me, "Are you sure that's all that's really bothering you?"
"Well… There's Akito-san's visit too…" I replied hastily, "He didn't really say anything today, but he could still… I'm sure you're worrying about it as well."
He slowly shook his head, "I'm not worried about that."
There was no trace of defeat or fear reflected in his eyes. It was just a simple undeniable calm sea of grey. It was definitely a far cry from the Yun-chan of the past who trembled at the sound of Akito-san's name. To the contrary, the twinges of anxiety I sensed from him now were not because of fears for own being.
"Stupid! You don't have to worry about anything," I stated huffily as I crossed my arms over my chest. This time, it was Yun-chan's turn to put on a surprised expression. I met his gaze and give him a comforting grin, "No matter what Akito-san tells us or orders us to do, you don't have to worry about it at all."
With that, Yun-chan finally gave me a smile.
"Ah, I almost forgot!" I exclaimed as I fumbled with the folds of my dress and held out the small perfectly preserved leather-bound booklet to him, "I thought this would be the perfect time to return this to you."
Yun-chan blinked at the item, before recognition hit him. He quickly turned his astounded eyes to me as he cautiously took the book from my hands, "You… kept this?"
"Of course!" I replied with a huge grin, "After all, you still need to give that to the woman you will love forever." He continued to stare at the small book in his hands in shocked disbelief, so I cleared my throat and I motioned him to open the journal, "I… uh… kinda scribbled something at the end. Think of that as my wedding present to you."
Yun-chan raised an eyebrow and opened the book to read the bottom of the page that held my hasty scribble and read it aloud, "After reading this poem, let me suggest page 113." He gave me a quizzical look, "What's that supposed to mean?"
"It will make more sense later… but you have to make sure that Tooru-kun opens my wedding present for her first," I stated cryptically, trying to maintain a serious expression
Yun-chan closed his eyes and rubbed his right temple, "I certainly hope this is not a conspiracy between you and Niisan…"
"Heeeeh!? How can you suspect your Neechan of that?" I retorted in mock injury, "I can assure you, Aya-chan and I are working independently!"
Yun-chan opened his eyes to give me a look of disbelief before letting out a jovial laugh. Without warning, I suddenly found myself engulfed in Yun-chan's arms in a tight bear hug, "Thank you for putting up with me… back then… and for all these years…"
Tears threatened to spill from my eyes as I returned his hug. We stayed like that for a long time before I playfully pushed him away when the fluid threatening to spill down my face became too unbearable to hold back. I quickly motioned inside, where Tooru-kun was currently dancing with Shi-chan. "Hey! You better go back. Shi-chan was really upset that you stole his housekeeper… he could be plotting to steal her back from you right this moment."
Yun-chan let out another laugh at that, though he continued to hesitate from leaving me alone, "Are you sure you're okay?"
"I promise, that incident when I spent the night in your apartment will never happen again," I playfully raised my left hand and placed my right hand over my heart before giving him a more serious look
He reached out to loop an errant strand of hair behind my ear before bending down to give me an affectionate peck on the cheek, "It'll be alright," Yun-chan echoed the reassuring words said to him earlier, "You're ten times more stubborn than me, so I'm sure it's just a matter of time. Everything will turn out all right."
With that, he retreated back into the hall, leaving me once again with my thoughts.
"What the hell was that all about?"
I jumped back in surprise and followed the sound of that familiar voice to the branches of a nearby tree, "K…Kyou-kun?"
"What is this about you in Yuki's apartment?" The owner of the voice demanded, ignoring my surprise
"So that's where you've been hiding all this time," I crossed my arms and frowned in annoyance to meet the pair of disapproving scarlet eyes glaring down at me, "How long have you been eavesdropping?"
"It's not like I did it on purpose," Kyou-kun countered hotly as he jumped down from the tree branch and gracefully landed beside me, "I was here first, you know."
"Hai, hai…" I simply gave in, not really in the mood for petty arguments, "So why are you running away from the party?"
"Why are YOU?" Kyou-kun retorted
I raised an eyebrow at him, "Kyou-kun… are you're trying to pick a fight with me."
"WHAT KIND OF STU---…" He stopped at mid-sentence and took a deep breath as he ran his fingers through his hair, "… I… It's just that you haven't been acting like yourself lately."
"And what made you come to that conclusion?" I asked innocently, trying hard not to let a wayward smirk from touching my lips
"You haven't been…" He paused, looking uncomfortably flustered, "… around… much… since New Year."
With everything that happened, I simply didn't have the energy to actively pursue Kyou-kun like before. "I just wanted to help out Aya-chan as much as I could."
"Haru mentioned that…" Kyou-kun cleared his throat and let out a nervous cough, "…that you had a… nervous breakdown…."
"Eh?" I frowned and turned to face him, "EH!?"
He put up his arms defensively, "I'm just repeating what I heard! If you showed up and forced yourself in other people's business' like you used to, I would have gotten the right information sooner."
Now THAT was just ridiculous. I crossed my arms again and turned away from him, "If you really cared to know the truth that much, you didn't have to wait for me to come to you."
I didn't have to turn to see the stunned expression on his face upon hearing my words. The long awkward pause silence was evidence enough, before his equally awkward stammering that followed, "W…wha… I… WHAT GAVE YOU THAT IDEA THAT I CARE!?!?"
Another long pause followed before he let out a long defeated sigh as he stepped forward to stand beside me. He leaned on the patio railing, looking far ahead, and still refusing to meet my eyes, "Sorry... That was a lie… I do… care… And you're right… I should have to come to you."
Upon hearing his say that, I finally allowed a small smile to touch my lips and relished the moment. I leaned on the railing as well, imitating his position, "I guess it was somewhat a nervous breakdown… though Yun-chan was the one who ended up getting hurt more."
"Yuki?" I could see the frown quickly lining his forehead from the corner of my eye
"It was that time when I spent the night at his apartment," I replied quietly
"THE HELL!?!?" Kyou-kun suddenly exploded as he grabbed me by the shoulders to force me to look at him, "WHAT HAPPENED!? DID HE TRY TO DO SOMETHING TO YOU!?!? WHY THAT DAMNED MOUSE!!! I'LL---"
"ITTE! DAMMIT! WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO THAT FOR!?!?"
"Saving you from making a fool of yourself," I calmly shook the sting from my palm as Kyou-kun nursed the back of his head. I let out a long sigh before tuning down to a more serious tone, "Personally, I'm actually thankful that it happened."
"Ha?" He could only give me a bewildered look at that
"It forced me to do a lot of thinking," I simply replied.
Yun-chan succeeded because he made a great gamble betting his happiness by facing his ultimate fear. I, on the other hand, was too frightened of taking such a gamble. So I took the safe way and tried to cling and hold on tightly rather than taking a risk by letting go. So in the end, I only succeeded in suffocating and driving Kyou-kun away… thereby making my greatest fear into a mere self-fulfilling prophesy.
I turned to face the party happening on the other side of the glass door. It's participants completely oblivious to what's happening outside. I unconsciously clutched my collar as a familiar ache started to throb in my chest. My eyes wandered, and I saw that Yun-chan was successful in reclaiming his bride and was now moving with her on the dance floor. He turned on a step and in a split second met my eyes.
In that short moment, it was almost as if we were children again. It was as if I was staring at his thirteen-year-old self… a little shy and insecure, but completely full of trust, as he sent a warm smile of encouragement to the older sister he never had but always looked up to.
/Ganbatte, Kagura-neechan! Do your best!/
That's right. It was also time for me to stop running away. To reach that ultimate goal that I longed for the longest time means I had to face and overcome my greatest fear.
"Ne, Kyou-kun…" I began, before my courage faltered, "I guess I've been acting stupid about this from the start."
"All this time, I set myself into narrow-mindedly chasing one dream," I closed my eyes and clasped my hands over my chest, "Because of that… I ended up purposely ignoring and taking for granted another form of happiness. I always thought I'd never regret letting that go, as long as I pursued that one dream… until I saw that happiness being offered to someone else…"
"What exactly are you babbling about?"
I opened my eyes and turned to face him, "Some people can't wait forever, Kyou-kun. I just hope you don't end up regretting what you chose to sacrifice in order to chase a dream."
His reply was to stare at me silently, with an unreadable expression on his face before turning away. I knew that he perfectly understood what I meant… so my heart sank at his reaction, and all at once, the courage I managed to gather quickly dissolved into nothingness.
He was going to say 'no, thank you'…
He was going to refuse…
I knew this was a big gamble to take… I knew it was a big risk. I prepared myself for the worst. But still… but still, I don't think my heart can bear to hear the words from his mouth… So I choked back the pain in my throat and wiped the tears that managed to escape down my face as I forced myself to give him the sweetest smile that I can muster, "Ah! My favourite song is playing! I think I'll go inside and see if Momi-chan needs a dancing partner. I'll see you later, Kyou-kun."
I quickly reached put to open the sliding glass door, when I suddenly felt a firm grasp around my free wrist, pulling me back and forcing me to turn around.
"Idiot! How do you expect to catch up to your dream if you're giving up halfway in the race?" He muttered in annoyance, still looking far ahead, refusing to meet my gaze. His grasp loosened as the tone of his voice softened on the words that followed next, "I'm sorry… it's still too early… for this… but I… I don't want to regret anything in the end either… So if it's all right with that person… If it isn't too much to ask… Can I ask that person…"
I could only watch him intently in stunned silence as he finally turned around to look at me with an intense, almost pleading expression in his gentle crimson eyes, "Can that person wait just a little bit longer?"
"Yes," I managed to whisper against the constriction in my throat. This time, I didn't even try to stop the clear warm liquid from brimming over from my eyes as I held on to his hand to give it a gentle reassuring squeeze
"Idiot, " He frowned, "That's nothing to cry over about."
"Yes… yes… yes…" I laughed, saying the words over and over almost like a mantra.
"Idiot," He repeated half-heartedly, turning his gaze away again, looking slightly embarrassed but making no attempt to unlatch his hand from mine
Together, we looked up at the colourful palette caused by the sleepy sun on the evening sky. The party inside has shown no indication of slowing down. Though it was still too early to see the them in the evening sky, I'm sure the excited stars and the mysterious pale moon were getting ready to make own their appearance to create a perfect late-spring June night. After all, what better way is it to end the perfect day?
are the light of my soul
the purity of its brightness
clears my eyes and my mind
from all shadows of doubt
are the will of my heart
the song that it beats to
that gives me courage
to continue moving on
are the air that I breathe
which fills my lungs
and the sole true reason
why I continue to live
Deprive me of your light
I shall only lose my way
Mute your song
I shall only loose my will
Cut yourself away
I shall only face my death
In your hands I entrust
my heart, my mind, my soul
[untitled poem by Souma Yuki
(as interpreted by Ina-chan)]