First up, may I announce that I'm revising For Keeps for the last time, since I realized that making the heroine of the story OOC is a mistake, because apparently, I'm not yet ready to write her that way.
Next, my many thanks to a reviewer who still didn't give up on the fanfic. I might disappoint you for the inconsistency of this story, but this is the only way I can continue For Keeps.
Lastly, I hear all your reviews and constructive criticisms so don't worry! ^^ I thank you for giving your precious time to give me your insights into the fic.
Sohma Shigure read the paper, whistling. "Ei, Yuki-kun, look at today's news! Seventeen year old girl inherits a 100 million yen business empire. Geez, some people have all the luck."
Sohma Yuki looked bored. "So? We have our own house. We eat three times a day. I can go to school. I think I have luck too."
But his cousin ignored him. "I wonder where she lives. Her address was not disclosed here for safety reasons. There wasn't even a picture!"
"And what are you going to do, rob her house?" asked Yuki.
"I'll court her! Then I can marry her and be stinking rich for my entire life! Maybe even two lifetimes!" said Shigure, starry-eyed.
"Idiot," muttered the young boy before mounting on his bike to go to his part-time job in the public library.
Honda Tohru, aged seventeen, sighed as her maid, Hanajima Saki combed her hair. She was on her way to her school, an exclusive school for girls who can afford the very expensive tuition worth the monthly budget of the national government.
"You were in the papers this morning, Ms. Honda," said the maid politely. "TV stations want you to be interviewed, all wanting to see who's the richest teenager in Japan today. You're the talk of the town."
"Stop calling me that way, Hana-chan!" she said, laughing. Her eyes then saddened. "I can't believe that people will only think about my inheritance when in fact, one of the society's kindest philanthropists, Grandpa, died."
"It's kinda romantic, Ms. Honda," said Uotani Arisa, her personal driver. "A beautiful heiress at the prime of her beauty…what guy wouldn't want you?"
"Uo-chan, not you too!" she said, sweatdropping. Hana and Uo had been her friends since elementary, so she wasn't used to them treating her that way.
"I opened your inbox for you this morning, and I found overflowing emails from potential suitors," continued Uo.
Tohru sighed. "But half of them I do not even know!"
"That's how popular you are already to the society," asserted the driver.
"But it's not only those persistent men that you must worry about," said Hana, suddenly looking concerned.
"Eh?" asked the heiress. "I don't understand…"
"Some may want to kill you. A sole heiress like you is an easy target for your grandfather's associates who didn't make it to his last will of testament. They will surely go after you," said Hana, looking deeply concerned.
Tohru freaked out. "A-Ah! Y-You really think so?"
"I'm not worried," said Uo breezily. "All we have to do is beef up the security and-"
Suddenly, a gunshot startled them, just as a bullet pierced the window glass, barely missing Tohru by inches.
"Ambush!" cried Uo as she struggled to avoid the simultaneous sounds of gun. Hana, on the other hand, hugged her mistress and held her down so she won't get hit by the bullets.
The car swerved to the right, crashing down the forest nearby.
Tohru shut her eyes tight.
Am I going to die?
She looked at Hana and Uo. Kami-sama, if I am to die, please find a way to save my friends!
As the car slowed down, Hana opened the car door. "You must live, Tohru!" And with that, the maid threw her out of the car.
"Hana! Uo!" she cried as she watched the car disappear in the foliage. Behind her, she could hear the cars chasing them. She quickly ran away from the scene, fighting the urge to cry.
I have to get help!
Yuki was biking on the rocky path leading out of the forest when he nearly ran over a girl who suddenly came out of nowhere.
"Watch out!" he yelled. The girl became alert and stepped back seconds before the bike's front wheel hit the space.
Her eyes snapped out of trance. "W-What…"
He stopped, quizzical gaze on her. "Are you trying to commit suicide or something?"
Her eyes lit up. She clasped his hands. "Y-You have to help me!"
"What?! Help you commit suicide?" he yelped. "D-Did you escape from a mental ward or something?"
"N-No!" she sputtered. In broken speech, she told him about her plight.
"If that is so, then there is more reason for me not to involve myself in your situation." He bowed. "Good day, and good luck."
"A-Are you really going to leave me?" she sputtered, her heart sinking. She could hear the menacing cars coming her way.
He looked at her, pondering on what to do.
"Please," she begged softly, on the verge of tears.
He wasn't able to reply because suddenly, cars were heading for their direction already.
Tohru looked at him in appeal. "P-Please…"
His common sense told him that it was better to avoid her – women always bring trouble. But then again…
"You have enchanting eyes that can bring any man down to his knees. Don't use them too often," he whispered huskily, stepping down from his bike.
"H-Huh?" But before she could ask what he meant, she felt him grasp her roughly and shove her against the bark of the tree. He then covered her mouth with his before she could react.
Just then, the cars arrived.
"Hey you two there, have you seen a girl pass by here?" one voice asked as several cars stopped beside them. The stranger was taller than her, so he covered her tiny figure adequately.
Tohru's heart was racing. Was it fear? Or was it the mixed sensation his mouth was giving her?
Anyhow, neither he or she replied.
"Boss, the two looks busy," another thug said. "They might not have noticed the brat anyway."
The next thing she knew, the cars left them already.
However his lips lingered on hers a little more before pulling away from her abruptly. "Damn," he cursed over and over. He knew it. Women are synonymous to jinxes.
Tohru, on the other hand, was speechless. It was her first kiss…and from a stranger, at that!
"There! I've helped you enough. " He started to bike away.
"W-Where are you going?" she asked.
"To my job."
"Y-You're going to leave me here alone?"
Her eyes shook. "B-But…" She was on the verge of despair. "P-Please, have mercy! Y-You can't leave me alone here!"
"I can, and I will." He turned to her. "I wasted enough precious minutes already trying to save a what could be a criminal."
She bit her lip. "I am not a criminal," she said softly.
"Whatever," he said, his purple eyes averting hers. His resolution to keep away from women was slowly crumbling away.
"V-Very well, I thank you for helping me anyway." With that, she ran back into the woods, fighting the urge to cry.
I'm all alone.
The desire to cry grew even more when she found only the wreckage of the car and no Hana and Uo, but she firmly shook her head.
I'll find Hana and Uo.
She started to walk deep into the forest.
Yuki looked back at the foliage guiltily.
Maybe I'm being too harsh on her. I better help her.
He made a u-turn and went back to the woods.
But he didn't find the mysterious girl anywhere.
His heart fell.
That night, Yuki biked back home quickly. If he was lucky enough, he might just be able to catch Kagura in the main house and ask her to cook the dinner again. Neither he nor Shigure was much of a cook.
But to his surprise, he discovered that he wasn't alone. He could hear footsteps coming near. He fished out his pocket flashlight and shone it on the bush.
Tohru was losing hope. She still couldn't find the way out of the foliage. Hunger and fatigue were starting to overwhelm her.
What if I die out here?
She nearly jumped when a beam of light hit her face.
It was too dark for her to see who was holding the light, but when the clouds rolled away, just as the half moon was revealed, his face was revealed.
"It's you," she murmured, relieved to see a familiar face again.
He did a double take. "Miss?"
Without thinking, she rushed towards him and hugged him joyfully.
A mouse! A mouse!
"I'm sorry. You see, you didn't give me a chance to warn you about my biological make-up," he said.
She was still in a daze. "Y-You're not human?"
A short laugh. "Of course I am. But me and my family were cursed to have a Juunishi form, triggered by unbalanced emotions and of course, physical female contact. That is why when I kissed you back there, I took care not to be too close to you."
There. Another reminder of what happened between them awhile ago. She felt colors rise to her cheeks.
Apparently, he hadn't noticed her reaction. "Anyway, I know that you have nowhere else to go, so if you want, you can stay with us."
"R-Really?" she asked. "B-But…" She looked down. "I-I might be a burden…"
"You already turned my life upside down awhile ago, lady," he muttered.
"W-What?" she asked, blinking.
He shook his head vehemently. "N-Nothing."
Shigure did a double take when he saw a beautiful girl riding towards the house using Yuki's bike.
What's this? The lad eloped already?
"K-Konbanwa!" the girl said, bowing. "A-Are you Sohma Shigure-san?"
"I'm flattered that young girls like you know me," he said, flashing a sexy grin.
She sweatdropped. "Um…"
"Shigure!" said the voice warningly.
He stiffened. "Yuki? Where are you?"
"I'm here," said the mouse flatly, jumping down from Tohru's shoulders. "How dare you get perverted again, and on someone young enough to be your daughter!"
"Who is she anyway?" asked Shigure. "How did you meet her?"
The mouse rolled his eyes. "I saved her from a bunch of thugs who are planning to kill her."
"You're pulling my leg!" said the writer, laughing as the two sweatdropped.
"Anyway, Shigure, she will be living with us for the meantime. She just needs to keep a low profile for a while," said Yuki.
"Fine by me," shrugged the writer.
"Ah, thank you for your warm and generous hospitality!" she gushed, bowing.
Shigure chuckled. "Don't thank me yet. I didn't say that the board and lodging will come for free."
"Shigure!" said the nezumi warningly.
"You will have to pay us by providing services," said the inu, smirking shrewdly.
Yuki fumed. If only he was in his human form, he could have pummeled his cousin already. "You perverted-"
"Do you mind if you do the household chores here?" asked Shigure.
Tohru's eyes widened. Back home, it was a grave sin for her to lift even a finger. Either Hana or Uo would do for her what she wishes to do.But if this is the only way I can repay their kindness…
She bowed. "Y-Yes! Of course I don't mind!"
"What's your name by the way?" asked the mouse.
"Honda Tohru," she said.
Shigure's brow raised. "Your name sounds familiar…I just can't remember why."
Tohru paused, wondering whether she should tell them why. In the end, she decided against it. It would be ungrateful of her to involve the people who helped her into her own mess. The less they know, the better, so that their lives wouldn't be endangered too.
Yuki shrugged, then his eyes widened.
Shigure sweatdropped. "Uh-oh."
Tohru was clueless.
Suddenly right in front of her eyes, the mouse transformed back into human.
Tohru's scream filled the whole house.
This would be the start of a brand new life in the Sohma house. I can feel it.