Disclaimers: As much as I may want to claim ownership of these two productions, I can't because both Fruits Basket and Ranma ½ belong to a whole lot of different companies that I can't remember the names of at the moment. Any characters that appear in this fic that are not a part of either original series, belong to me so don't take them without asking first.

Author's Notes: Two things that everyone should know is that the new Yuki won't have that asthma problem that he had in the original series; I've heard about the latest news involving Akito really being a girl in the comic, but I'm leaving him as a guy, because I need male Akito for what I already have planned for this story, long before the latest info involving Akito's true gender came out, thus I'm not in the mood to change my well laid out plans because of a technicality that took the magna 97 chapters to reveal itself.

Summary: Seventeen years ago, a young widow ran away from the Sohma household, taking with her a secret that no one else in her family knew about. Traveling to China she died giving birth to a healthy baby boy with a curse, while staying in the village of the Joketsu Amazons.

" " Chinese
" " Japanese
italics Thoughts

Nezumi ½
Prologue: Far From Home
By: Princess Star Neko

China, 17 years ago

Nine more weeks little one, and I'll be holding you in my arms. Hikari Masaki-Sohma thought happily, as she sat underneath a tree, enjoying the feel of the sun as it beat down on her, as a gentle breeze blew through her hair, resting a hand on her stomach.

I haven't written in my journal today. Might as well start now while I have a moment of piece until it's time to go, Hikari thought after a few minutes she reached for her backpack and pulled out a leather bound book and pen, opened the book to a blank page and started writing about that days events.

...the tour bus stopped on the edge of a valley called Jusenkyo. It's a beautiful place from what I can see, with the springs. The guide who works here says that Jusenkyo is called the Land of Sorrow, supposedly because the springs are cursed...

At the mention of curses, Hikari got a faraway look in her eyes, as she glanced down at her enlarged stomach, as she rested a hand on it, feeling the life growing.

Hikari had been traveling to different countries for six and a half months since the death of her husband, traveling everywhere that she could, finally able to fulfill her life long dream of traveling the world, before she had married into the Sohma clan.

She had met Miroku Sohma in College, and it had been love at first sight for the two of them. Miroku had been the rebel in the Sohma family, as well as the younger brother to the current head of the family, Naraku Sohma, and knowing how his brother would react to him bringing an outsider into the family, so the two of them married in secret and returned to the Sohma household when Hikari was already two months pregnant with Ayame.

Being Naraku's younger brother, Miroku had been able to get away with anything, because Naraku had loved Miroku despite their differences. Like his predecessors, Naraku had been born with the Juunishi curse. But unlike the others who shared the curse, he didn't turn into an animal, but was cursed to be the 'god' of the Juunishi, leaving him constantly sick and weak and prone to anger at almost anything he took a disliking to, and also was cursed to die at an early age.

It was known by everyone in the household, that when Naraku died, Miroku would have become the new head of the family if Naraku had been unable to produce an heir, or be acting head until Naraku's child was old enough to take the role.

Despite how Naraku treated everyone else in the family, including their own mother, he treated Miroku nicer than the rest, and let him get away with everything including disobeying his commands without punishment.

Even when Miroku had brought her home that first time eleven years ago to introduce her to the family, Naraku had been all smiles when Miroku introduced her to the family, but Hikari could see the growing anger hidden deep in Naraku's eyes, as he stared directly at her, as if he were personally blaming her for his brothers actions.

If it hadn't been for Ayame's birth, she didn't know what would have happened. Even after discovering the family secret of the Juunishi curses, she hadn't turned away from Ayame at his birth when he was revealed to have the spirit of the snake in him.

Even after the past eleven years since she had married into the Sohma clan, she had felt like an outcast among them. Even though she had tried to fit in with the family, she had to always been too different in their eyes.

She wasn't willing to let anyone, especially the head of the family, Naraku Sohma, order her around, despite the fact that everyone else seemed to fear him. She had to watch her step around the head of the family or risk his wrath, and even before her son was born she hadn't been included in any of the family celebrations, having had to stay home alone while Miroku reluctantly attended the celebrations by himself.

She had been completely miserable living in the Sohma home, as everyone avoided her. The few people she had been able to befriend in the household, shunned her because Naraku said they had to because he considered her an outsider who couldn't be trusted, and would have been kicked out sooner if it wasn't for Miroku standing by her side.

Even after living with that family for the past ten years as she raised Ayame alongside with Miroku, and proving more than once that she could be trusted, she had still been shunned by the family. The few Souma's that she had managed to befriend during her first two years in the household had quickly abandoned her because they were afraid of making Naraku angry.

The last girl to disregard his orders concerning Hikari had been beaten within an inch of her life by Naraku himself when she had been found out, causing her to be sent to the hospital.

The last straw came at Miroku's funeral, when she heard Miroku's mother, talking about her with some other family members during the service...

Flashback, Seven months ago

Hikari Sohma sat in a lawn chair in the Sohma family cemetery as the pastor gave the last rights to her husband. It been over a week since the car accident that had taken the life of her beloved Miroku, and she felt more alone than ever now that he was gone.

I can't believe he's really gone. Hikari thought sadly to herself as she looked around at the rest of her husband's family, seeing the pitying looks they shot her way as they all paid their last respects to one of their own.

As she sat in silence, she couldn't help but overhear the conversation going on amongst the other members of the Sohma household as they talked about what they were going to do with her and Ayame now that Miroku was dead.

"...Look at her. Looking calm and serene as always. She didn't even cry during the funeral. I don't know what Miroku saw in a girl like her." A matronly woman said as she cast a dark look at Hikari's back. "For shame!"

Hikari stiffened at those words. She recognized the voice as belonging to her mother-in-law. The older woman had taken an instant dislike to her new daughter-in-law the since the day Miroku had brought her home.

Annoying old biddies aren't even waiting for Miroku-kun to be cold in his grave, Hikari thought angrily to herself, as she looked at the gossiping older women out of the corner of her eyes, as sadness filled her at the loneliness she felt in family gathering, I've been crying since Miroku's death, that I don't think I can cry anymore tears now even if I wanted to. she thought with an angry huff, as she tried to tune out the annoying voices of the gossiping women behind her, Before they start bad mouthing me behind my back about something they can't even understand...

"...Naraku-sama should have Katsuya or Shigure erase her memories and just send her away. I'm sure there will be someone willing to take in Ayame." Miroku's mother stated suddenly, breaking into Hikari's thoughts.

Hikari's entire body stiffened at that statement from her mother- in-law. She wouldn't?! She couldn't hate me that much that she'd suggest a thing to Naraku, would she?

"Yes, it's not like we need her anymore now that Miroku is gone." another woman piped in haughtily, as she shot a smug look at Hikari's turned back, before turning back to her companions, "Unless she's already breeding again with a child born with the Juunishi curse, what good is she except taking up space? Ayame is already old enough that he doesn't need her anymore..."

I can't believe this. Hikari thought angrily to herself, as she tuned out the older woman's voices out, Hikari tried to figure out what she was going to do now. Now that Miroku is gone, Naraku wouldn't hesitate at the chance to give the order to have my memories erased.

As the priest finally said the last rites over Miroku's coffin, he closed his bible, and stepped away to allow room for the men chosen to carry the coffin to the open grave.

Oh Miroku-kun, what am I going to do? Hikari wondered unhappily to herself, as she watched as Miroku's coffin was finally being lowered into the ground.

It looks like what you told me would happen if you died is really happening. she thought as she let her mind wonder back to a certain night a month ago, and the strange conversation she had with Miroku.

Flashback, One Month ago

"Hikari? Are you awake?" Miroku asked.

It was New Years Eve, and the couple was just lying together in bed, with their arms wrapped around each other after a long night of family festivities, and were just taking comfort in each other's company, as they just simply laid together holding one another, as they waited for sleep to claim them.

"Yes. I can't get any sleep after the excitement of last nights party," Hikari said sleepily, as she yawned, stretching a bit before wrapping her arms back around Miroku's body. "What is it, Miroku?"

"I was just thinking." Miroku said simply, as he smiled down at Hikari lovingly, as he placed his arms behind his head, as he looked up at the ceiling. "I haven't been able to get any sleep either."

"Ayame has been practicing his dance routine all year, waiting for this day to happen." Hikari said sleepily, as she smiled up at her husband, "He couldn't have been any happier than he was tonight to finally show his stuff to everyone."

"I know." Miroku said, his voice softening a bit as he reached up to touch her face with one hand, brushing aside a loose strand of gray hair from her eyes. "But I'm still worried that you'll be in danger here if something bad does happen to me."

"What could happen to me here? I know nobody likes me thanks to Naraku." Hikari said, as sadness filled her voice at the reminder, as she looked down into her husbands green eyes, "But they wouldn't try anything to me as long as you're here."

"That's my whole point. As long as I'm here they wouldn't do anything to displease you or else I'd take it to Naraku." Miroku said, as a low sigh escaped his lips as he looked a Hikari with a worried expression, "But I've seen how Naraku treats you too, when he thinks I don't know he's doing it."

"Ever since Akito was born, Naraku's spent all his time grooming Akito to take over when he's gone." Hikari said, as a slight smile appeared on her features as tried to reassure her husband as best as she could, "I think he's mellowed a bit."

"That's because he knows that his time is almost up, now that Akito's here." Miroku said, looking sad as he spoke, "Haven't you noticed?"

"Noticed what?" Hikari asked.

"Hikari, Naraku's dying."


"Remember his last 'attack' three weeks ago? We almost lost him then, if we hadn't gotten our family doctor to him in time." "I overheard his doctor tell him."

"They don't think that Naraku is going to live for much longer." Hikari asked, as she saw the pained look in her husbands' eyes, when he spoke of Naraku dying.

"We all knew that the moment the 'heir' was born, that Naraku would die." Miroku said in a quiet tone, refusing to look at Hikari as he spoke, "I remember once that my mother told me, that it happened with my grandfather and then our father who both shared the 'god' version of the Juunishi curse."

"I know all about the god curse, Miroku," Hikari said, as she looked up into her husband's worried eyes, "But what does this have to do with how Naraku is acting lately?"

"When Naraku was born, our father's health instantly started failing him. They said it took him four years after Naraku's birth to die. But he didn't die until after Naraku hit his fourth birthday. The same thing is now happening to my brother now that Akito has been born."

"Oh, then that means Naraku doesn't have that much longer to live then?" Hikari asked, a saddened look appearing on her features, as she finally realized what might have been bothering Miroku. "Akito's only two years old now, so Naraku has two more years to live before the curse takes him."

"Yes." Miroku said.

The two remained silent for a few more minutes, before Miroku finally spoke up again.

"Hikari, promise that if anything happens to me, that you'll leave before things go too far." Miroku said as he lay down next to his wife in bed.

"Why should I leave?" Hikari asked as she looked at her husband in confusion, wondering about his strange request. "You're not going anywhere anytime soon."

"I know, but just in case something does happen to me, I'd feel better knowing that your all right." Miroku said, as he brushed her hair with one hand, as he looked down into he violet eyes. "I know how the rest of you treat you, when they think I don't know, that I can almost imagine what they'd do if I'm no longer here."

"Why are you bringing this up now? If I left here, I'd have to leave Ayame behind too." Hikari demanded as she pushed herself up and away from Miroku, positioning herself so that she had a better look at his face, and see's the worry etched in his features, "Are you hiding something from me? Your not dying are you?!"

"I'm not hiding anything, and I'm fine. I'm not dying." Miroku insisted, as a loud sigh of exasperation escaped his lips as he looked up at Hikari, "Just promise me that you'll leave if things get to tough, Hikari-chan. Even if it means having to leave Ayame behind."

Hikari remained silent as she stared back at her husband, biting her lower lip in indecision as she looked at Miroku. "Are you sure there's nothing wrong with you?"

"I'm sure." Miroku said, as he pleaded with her. "Hikari, promise me."

"Fine, if it means that much to you," Hikari said as she bent over to kiss her husband quickly on his lips, "I promise to leave here, if something happens to you in the future, Miroku."

Lying back down on her side of the bed and turned her back to him, as she cuddled up in the blankets, as he wrapped his arm around her, and soon they were both asleep.

End Flashback

Could I really just leave? Just leave Ayame alone to face these people without me? Hikari thought to herself, as she looked around at the other members of the Sohma family, Or do I stay and simply wait for them to bring me in to have my memories erased, and never see Ayame again. Or worse, be forced to forget about him completely because of them?

Sitting a few feet away next to his two friends, Hatori and Shigure Sohma, was her eldest child, Ayame, who looked remorseful as he kept his eyes on the ceremony, as the caretakers lowered his father's casket into the ground.

Shigure and Hatori while also trying to cheer up Ayame, currently had their hands full with taking care of the youngest members of the family during the ceremony, as the trio had been given the job of watching over an agitated, three year old Akito who was throwing a tantrum while Hatori was trying to calm him, while little Kagura, who was going to hit her first birthday in three months, sat quietly on Shigure's lap watching what the boys were doing while sucking on her thumb.

It's obvious that Akito's going to grow up to become the next head of the family just like his father was. Hikari thought to himself, as a small smile crept to her lips as she watched the little boy fight all of his cousins efforts to calm him down, He's acting just like Naraku even at such a young age.

Looking around the cemetery she noticed that a lot of the people attending the funeral were getting out of their chairs to head back to the main house, and she happened to glance over her shoulder at her mother-in-law in time to see her being helped up out of her seat by her companions.

Midori looked up in time to see Hikari looking her way, and gave her daughter-in-law a dark, contempt filled glare, before turning on her heal, marching back towards the main house with her companions right behind her.

Should I really just leave before it's too late, like Miroku told me to? Hikari thought to herself, as she stole one last glance at her husbands grave as the diggers started filling up the hole.

After a few minutes of careful thought, she finally came to a decision.

A few days later found Hikari packing a small suitcase in the middle of the night, as she prepared to sneak out of the Sohma compound before anyone realized that she was missing.

Finished with the last of her packing, she pulled the suitcase out of her room and down the hallways, stopping momentarily to peek into Ayame's bedroom to see that he was still fast asleep. Creeping quietly into the room, she bent down over her son, reaching out a hand as if to touch him one last time, but pulls back remembering what would happen if she did, and stared at his sleeping form, letting the tears fall down her cheeks as she stared down at him.

I hate the idea of leaving him behind, but what choice do I have? I can't stay here. Hikari thought to herself, as she brushed the tears away with one hand as she pulled out a sealed envelope and left it on the nightstand next to Ayame's head, If I take him with me, they'd track us down to bring him back, and it's obvious what they'd do to me once they caught us.

Taking one last look at Ayame, Hikari turned on her heel and crept out of the room as quietly as she had entered, stopping only long enough to glance back at her son's sleeping form before gently sliding the door shut behind her.

I won't lose my memories of my child or husband because of this family...

End Flashback

"Miss? Miss? Sorry to interrupt you, but we must go now please."

Hikari looked up in surprise as she turned her head to look at the bus driver, as he approached her, an anxious look on his features as he came closer.

"We must go now, quickly." The bus driver repeated, in broken Japanese as he started wringing his hands together, as he reached out a hand to help her up. "Is dangerous to stay here much longer."

"What's wrong?" Hikari asked as she grasped the offered hand, and got up with the drivers help keeping one hand on her stomach as she did so, before bending over to tuck her journal into the pack.

Before she could pick the pack up, the driver had beaten her to it and was hefting it over his shoulder, as he gestured towards the darkening sky. "Is going to rain soon. Once it does, roadway back up will be dangerous if stay here for much longer."

Looking upwards, Hikari could see gray storm clouds starting to form in the sky, and felt the slight chill in beginning to fill the area, and quickly followed after the driver as fast as she could.

"Excuse me, driver?" Hikari said as she followed the driver as quickly as she could. "Can I ask you a question?"

"What is it?" the driver demanded, impatience filling his voice as he glanced over his shoulder at the woman behind him.

"What is that village over there?" Hikari asked, as she pointed towards some lights that could be seen in the distance, that looked like burning torches. "Can't we stay there until the rain passes?"

"That is the village of the Joketsu Amazons." The driver said as he glanced over in the direction Hikari was pointing in, while not breaking his stride once. In fact, his pace seemed to have picked up once he had seen which village Hikari had been pointing at. "We are not stopping there for shelter."

"Amazons?" Hikari asked, surprise filling her voice as she stared at the drivers back, before glancing back towards the village, I've read about them in books, but I never thought there were real live Amazons in this day and age... "Why can't we just stay there for the night? Wouldn't they allow us to stay if we asked?"

"Everyone knows that the Joketsu Amazons are bad news." The driver stated firmly as he glanced over his shoulder at Hikari, giving the young woman an annoyed look as they made their way to the bus "They don't welcome outsiders that easily, or else I would have stop there to ask for shelter until the storm passed."

"But surely they wouldn't deny travelers in need of help," Hikari insisted as she looked worriedly up at the darkening cloud filled sky, just as a cold breeze blew over her causing her to shiver from the cold, "It couldn't..."

"Be waist of time, when we can make it back up the mountain." The driver insisted stubbornly, as they finally reached the bus, "Rain hasn't started yet. Is better that we try and make it back to last town visited."

Once they reached the bus, the driver quickly handed Hikari's pack to her as she boarded the bus and took a seat at the front and set her pack on the floor in front of her, and soon they were on their way.

As Hikari settled into her seat, she glanced out her window at the scenic view as the bus slowly chugged up the mountain road, as she looked wistfully at Jusenkyo as the bus rode higher up the mountain road, until the next turn on the road blocked it from view, and she finally settled back into her seat with a sigh.

I bet Ayame would have loved coming here if he had the chance, Hikari thought ruefully to herself, as she finally turned her gaze away from the window to glance at the seat across from her. If it wasn't for the pregnancy I could have at least risked visiting him while I was still in Japan.

Flashback, Four months ago

Hikari had just returned to Japan with every plan to visit the private boys school that Ayame attended with Hatori and Shigure, to at least visit Ayame before heading out on another trip.

For the past two months, before she had left, she had opened up a mailbox in her name at the local post office, leaving the key and box number for Ayame, so he could receive the letters and gifts she sent him without them being intercepted by someone in the house.

She had been corresponding with her son through letters containing pictures of the places she'd been to, and phone calls, and she had finally decided to stop home for a surprise visit.

She knew Ayame was getting her letters, because she always received replies back from him. The first batch of letters she received told her how everyone back at the main house had reacted to her unexpected departure. He also told her how he had kept the contents of the letter she had left him from everyone else in the household, including Shigure and Hatori, and kept the letters he received in a hidden wall section in his room.

One letter in particular had left Hikari seething anger, when Ayame told her how his grandmother had tried to 'convince' him that Hikari had abandoned him, by running away from the family. Even going so far as telling him all the mean things that she thought about Hikari, and how she had never fit in, and that her running away simply proved what everybody already thought about her.

Hikari had to smile when Ayame told her how he had truly become nasty towards his grandmother at that moment, and how he had started telling his grandmother off, getting her angry and now refused to have anything to do with him until he apologized.

He finished it saying as long as she didn't mind his lack of manners towards his grandmother under the circumstances, he wasn't going to apologize to the 'old bat' anytime soon unless she apologized first for everything she told him.

I didn't think Ayame-chan had it in him. Hikari thought silently to herself as her lips twitched in amusement as she reread the line again, He hides it, but he's a lot more like me than everyone thinks. as she penned her next letter to her son, telling him that she agreed with him a hundred percent on the matter.

Midori-san has gone too far this time. Hikari thought angrily to herself awhile later, as she slipped the completed letter into a postmarked envelope, and slipped it into her purse to mail later. She can say all she wants about me to my face. But going so far as to say those things about me to her own grandchild is another matter.

If it hadn't been for Ayame, I wouldn't have had anything further to do with the Sohma family. Hikari thought, as she stood up, when a sudden wave of dizziness hit her causing her to have to sit back down as she raised a hand to her forehead, and immediately regretted it.

Oh no! Hikari thought unhappily to herself, as the sudden motion caused a moan to escape her lips, as she suddenly stood back up to rush towards the bathroom and promptly emptied out last nights meal in the toilet.

Not again! What's wrong with me that's making me sick for the last three days?! Hikari moaned miserably a few minutes later as left the bathroom once she was sure her stomach was feeling better, as she used a dampened hotel towel to clean her face with.

Maybe it's time that I go see a doctor, and find out if there's something wrong with me... Hikari thought as she turned to sit on her bed, holding her churning stomach as lay down on the mattress. I just hope that whatever's causing me to throw up in the mornings isn't anything serious.

An two hours later found Hikari lying down on a cold metal table, dressed in a hospital gown as she waited for the doctor to return with her test results.

I hope that all I have is a bad case of the flu, and not something really serious. Hikari thought to herself as she looked up at the bright overhead lights, before stretching to get the kinks out of her body, feeling more worn out than she had thought possible, I wonder what the boys are doing...

Just then, her doctor reentered the room, glancing through a clipboard, before glancing over at Hikari, smiling at her as he walked towards her bed.

"Hello Doctor Ichiouji. Are those my test results?" Hikari said, as she returned the doctor's smile as she pushed herself up into a sitting position, and saw the doctor nod his head in confirmation, "So what's the verdict? Do I just have a really bad case of the Flu or what?"

"It's good news actually, Mrs. Sohma. There's nothing for you to worry about." The doctor said kindly, as he pulled up a chair next to the bed, as he sat down. "What you have isn't anything serious to worry about. In fact if my calculations are right, what you are experiencing should clear up in about seven months or so."

Seeing the confused, blank stare on Hikari's face, the doctor reached forward and gently patted Hikari's hand reassuringly.

"What I'm trying to say is, congratulations, Mrs. Sohma," the doctor said warmly, as he smiled down at the shocked woman, "The tests came back positive. Your pregnant."

"Pregnant?!" Hikari cried out in alarm, as she stared at the doctor in open disbelief, as she stared at the doctor in shock.

"I'm sorry Mrs. Sohma, but the tests are accurate. You are approximately two months pregnant," The kindly doctor said as he gave Hikari a warm smile, "I'm guessing that you weren't expecting this pregnancy?"

"No I wasn't." Hikari said in a small voice, "It was a surprise but I'm glad to hear the news."

"Well I bet your husband will be glad to hear the news that he's going to be a father." Ichiouji-san said as he gave Hikari a reassuring smile, which quickly disappeared when he saw a pained look appear on Hikari's features at the mention of her husband, as tears started to well up in her eyes, "I'm sorry, Sohma-san, but did I say something wrong to distress you?"

"It's okay. You didn't upset. With the news of the baby, you just brought up some bad memories for me." Hikari said, her voice sounding dull as she spoke, as tears ran down her cheeks at the reminder of her loss, "I'm not married. Not anymore anyway. My husband has been dead for the past month, in a car accident. If he was still alive, he'd be thrilled at the idea of a baby."

"I'm sorry about your loss," the doctor said contritely, as he gave the young mother-to-be an apologetic look, as he went over to the cabinets and returned with some tissues, which he handed to her. "Do you have anyone who can help you during this time?"

Hikari didn't hesitate as she quickly shook her head in answer as she blew her nose on the tissues the doctor gave her, as she dabbed her eyes with the remaining clean tissues.

"Except for my son who's only ten, I don't have anyone else to rely on." Hikari said, as she looked down at the floor, not wanting to look the doctor in the eyes as she spoke.

"What about your husband's family?" the doctor asked, frowning a bit when he noticed her actually flinch at the mention of her husband's family, I wonder what's wrong? the doctor wondered, before continuing his questioning, "Can't they help you in your time of need?"

"My husbands family and I didn't get along that well even when he was still alive," Hikari said, shaking her head once more as she looked at the doctor with firm eyes, "So they are out too. I don't need their help raising this child. They will only make things worse for me if they knew."

The doctor nodded in understanding, deciding not to pursue the matter since it obviously looked to be a touchy subject with her, as he looked at his clipboard, as he had talked to her about prenatal care, and vitamins she should take.

This day can't get any better. I'm pregnant again with Miroku's child. At least I now have something else to remind me of him. Hikari thought happily as she stepped out of the hospital awhile later, as she practically skipped down the stairs in glee. I just wish Miroku was still here to share this with me.

As she waited at the crosswalk for the light to change so she could get to the parking lot across the street where she had left her car, her thoughts went to Ayame, and how he was going to take the news.

Ayame would be just as thrilled when he hears the news that he's going to be a big brother. Hikari thought, as she imagined the look on her son's face when she told him the news, He'll be so happy, that... Oh no!

Hikari stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, as she remembered what being pregnant would mean, especially if someone in the Sohma clan found out about it.

If they somehow find out I'm pregnant again with Miroku's child, they'll stop at nothing to find me and bring me back to the compound, Hikari thought as despair filled her, biting her lip as she weighed her options on whether or not she should continue her original plans, and keep me there until the child is born just to find out if it's one of the cursed. Then they'd probably take my baby away, and then erase my memories.

It's official then. Hikari sadly thought to herself as her shoulders drooped in resignation, as she realized there was no way she could go see Ayame now because of her pregnancy. I'm definitely not going back home anytime soon.

I really wanted to see Ayame again! she thought angrily as she walked back to her hotel from the hospital, If they find out about the baby, they might make me stay until its born to see if it might be cursed and try and take it away from me if it is...

Once she reached her hotel, she walked into the lobby and entered an empty elevator and rode up to her floor. As she waited for the elevator to stop, Hikari looked down at her flat stomach longingly, as she rested a hand on it, almost feeling the small life starting to form within her womb, just as the elevator finally came to a stop and the doors opened.

Looks like it's just you and me kiddo. Hikari thought, as a small smile appeared on her lips, as a faraway look appeared in her eyes, as she stepped out onto her floor and headed towards her door.

End Flashback

The bus was traveling slowly up the steep dirt pathway that would take them out of the valley, when the rain started coming down. It at first started as a small drizzle, then it steadily started coming down harder, causing Hikari's fellow passengers to look worriedly out the windows as the bus lurched on the slick road.

Reaching into her shirt she pulled out a gold heart shaped locket with silver lining on the lid, and flipped it open to reveal two what was inside. It was a birthday gift to her from the boys, who had all chipped in their allowances to pay for it and get the pictures mounted within.

In one frame it showed her and Miroku standing side by side with Ayame in front of them as they all smiled for the camera, and in the second frame was a picture similar to the first one, only now it just showed Shigure and Hatori posing for the camera with Ayame. Shigure and Ayame were making goofy faces at the camera, while Hatori tried to pretend that he didn't know them.

I can't believe how I miss the three of them. Hikari thought sadly to herself as she the locket and tucked it back under her shirt, as she rested a hand on her stomach, as she glanced outside the window just as a flash of lightning lit up the sky, quickly followed by the loud rumbling of thunder. You'll meet your brother and his friends one of these days when I get back to Japan.

I knew I should have stayed in bed this morning instead of going on this trip, Hikari thought crossly, as she tried to not think about how high the bus might be at that moment, and sent a silent prayer that they didn't fall.

Deciding to try and take her mind off of the rain, Hikari reached into her backpack and pulled out her journal to finish what she had started earlier when she had gotten distracted. Once she was finished, she started to close the journal, when the bus suddenly gave a lurch as the wheels slid in the mud, as they tried to regain purchase, causing the passengers to cry out in alarm.

Holding her breath for a few minutes, as she waited for a sign that the bus was about to fall over the side, Hikari released her breath in a rush when nothing happened. Noticing how her hands were tightly clutching the leather bound book in her hands, Hikari looked down at it once more, then flipped the journal open to start a new entry.

...What could the driver be thinking of insisting that we try making our way back up the mountain in this weather? I don't think it's safe to try going back up the mountain on this dirt road in the bus, especially now that the road is slick with mud. I wish the driver had listened to me and just stopped at that village to ask for shelter. The worst the villagers could have done was refuse, but the driver wouldn't even try and go ask them. Instead he insisted that we should try and get back up the mountain before the storm started. Now look where we are now. At this point, I don't think that the Amazons could be any worse than risking our lives on this road. I just hope that I make it off this road in one piece...

Just then the bus gave another sudden lurch, as the wheels gave off a loud slurping sound as it moved through the mud, before finally coming to a complete stop in the middle of the road.

The driver started cursing in Chinese, as he tried pushed and pulled on the levers, and stomped down on the gas pedal to try and get the bus moving again. Everyone could hear the loud grinding of the buses gears as they strained against the pressure being put on it, but it was no use. They were stuck.

Oh no, not now. Hikari thought to herself, as she instinctively clutched her stomach protectively, as she peered out her window worriedly, wondering just how high up from the ground they must be now, but only saw darkness outside. Please don't tell me we're stuck here in the middle of nowhere...

Some of the valley locals who had hitched a ride on the bus for the return trip up the mountain were grumbling to themselves, as they talked amongst each other.

"Oh my, this isn't a good thing, is it dear?" an elderly woman asked her husband worriedly, from the seat across from Hikari.

"I say, driver. Can't you get this bus moving again?" one of the passengers in the back of the bus called out.

"I no can go anywhere, if bus is stuck in mud!" the driver snapped angrily in broken Japanese, as he unhooked his seatbelt, and opened the doors so he could go out and see what was going on.

A few minutes later, he was back in, soaking wet, and cursing in Chinese, as he pulled the lever to shut the door behind him.

"What's going on?" Hikari asked, as she held her fumbled with her pack to in order to put her journal back, "How bad does it look out there?"

"We're stuck good and tight. The wheels look like they are deep in the mud." The driver said, "If anybody's willing to get out of the bus and push, maybe we can get out of the mud."

When nobody stood up to volunteer for the job, the driver cursed again as he glared at everyone, before he slumped back into his seat, and started the engine, stomping down on the gas pedal as he did, only to have the engine stall on him.

Just then, there was a sudden flash of lightning that completely lit up the sky, followed by the sound of thunder, which everyone ignored. But after a few seconds, everyone noticed a low rumbling sound coming from somewhere nearby, that didn't sound the least like thunder.

What's going on? What's making that rumbling sound? It doesn't sound like thunder... Hikari thought worriedly, as she out the window as she tried make out the source of the rumbling sound through the rain, with little success.

Finally giving up on trying to locate the source of the rumbling, Hikari finally sat back into her seat, pulling her backpack on her lap, as she clutched it protectively to her body, as she looked around at her fellow passengers, noticing that they also were looking worried as they too glanced out their own windows for the source of the rumbling.

The bus started to shake with each passing second as the rumbling became louder, as everyone became more scared than before.

Just then another flash of lightning lit up the sky once more, causing one of the female passengers on the left side of the bus who was looking out the window right at that moment, to scream in terror as she started pointing out the window, as she started talking in rapid Chinese.

Everyone turned to look out the window in time to see a huge flood of mud and rocks cascading down the mountain straight towards them, just before the area became dark again!

Before anyone could one had any time to react before the mudslide hit the side of the bus head on, all of the passengers screamed as the bus was thrown off the road and fell down the side of the cliff.

As they fell, Hikari was thrown back against metal wall beside her seat, as her head hit the window with a loud crack, as pain filled her mind.

Oh kami, please don't let anything happen to my baby! were Hikari's last thoughts before her world became black.

Awhile later

Hikari awoke to searing pain shooting throughout her body, as a small gasp of pain escaped her lips when she tried to move. It felt like her entire body was on fire, and it hurt to breath. She could feel bandages covering her body.

I'm still alive? Hikari wondered to herself, as she became adjusted to the pain, she realized that she wasn't lying on the semi soft cushions in the bus, but was now lying flat on her back on what felt like a bed, and she could feel blankets on top of her, Where am I? What happened... In a sudden rush of insight, it all came rushing back to her. Oh kami.. The accident... Is my baby...

As she tried to move her arm to towards her stomach to check, she let out a small gasp of pain caused by the movement reminding her of her injuries, finally managing to place her hand on her stomach, and let out a loud sigh of relief when she felt the familiar swell in her stomach, and felt a reassuring kick from her baby as if it was letting her know that it was indeed still alive.

She suddenly gasped when she felt someone place a damp cloth on her forehead.

"Don't move." A kind, soothing voice told her in Chinese, as a hand touched her cheek in a comforting way, as Hikari's eyes opened to search for the search of the voice, "You've been injured in an accident, and straining yourself so soon will only hurt you more."

"What did you say?" Hikari asked her voice coming out in a barely audible croak as she looked up at the source of the voice, as she forced her eyes focus on who was tending to her, and saw a young woman close to her own age smiling down at her, as she balanced a one year old, purple haired toddler on her hip. "Who are you? Where am I?"

"Oh, you speak Japanese, sorry about that." the woman said, quickly switching to Japanese as she continued, "I said that you shouldn't be moving around so much. You're badly hurt, and it's not good for you or your baby in the condition your in. Is there anything I can get for you?"

"Water, please" Hikari croaked out, closing her eyes once more as she listened to the other woman's footsteps retreat, quickly followed by the sound of liquid being poured. A few seconds later she felt the cold rim of a cup touch her lips, and quickly opened her mouth as the cool liquid was poured in past her parched lips.

"Take small sips. That is enough for now. We don't want to make you sick again." The girl said, as she finally removed the cup from Hikari's mouth and placed it on a nearby table. "My Japanese is not that good. My name Lin Pu, and this is my daughter, Xian Pu."

"I'm Hikari." Hikari said, as she looked around the small room, taking in her surroundings for the first time since awakening. It was a small room, with colorful tapestries decorating the walls, a wooden table rested in the corner with a ceramic bowel on top. "Where am I?"

"Your in the village of the Joketsu Amazons, dearie." Another voice answered, causing Hikari's attention to instantly turn towards the open doorway to see a gnome sized old woman, hanging from a long staff standing there.

"The Joketsu Amazons?" Hikari croaked out, as her eyes widened in surprise at the news.

"I am Cologne, the Matriarch of this village. You've already met my granddaughter and great-granddaughter." Cologne said as she nodded her head towards the young woman as she pogoed over to the bed and lands gently on the bed with the staff resting at her side. "You had us worried for awhile now. We didn't think you would ever wake up."

"How long have I been unconscious?" Hikari asked.

"Nearly four days already. You had taken a nasty blow to the head during the crash." Lin said, as she took a seat across from her grandmother, as she placed her daughter onto her lap. "Plus you were also sick with a high fever. So we've been worried that you might never wake up."

"How did I get here?" Hikari took the information in stride, "What happened to everyone else on the bus? Did anyone else make it?"

"The Jusenkyo guide heard the crash, and came to see what was happening, then sent word to our village for help." Cologne said.

"You're quite lucky. The fall wasn't that serious, and the mud from the landslide cushioned most of the landing," Lin added in, "so not all of the passengers were killed."

"'Not all of the passengers'? Just how many is still alive?" Hikari asked, as a stunned look appeared on her features, as she listened to there explanations.

"Besides you, there were only four other who survived the crash, with serious injuries." Lin said, as a saddened look appeared on her features, "After they were treated here, we transported those who could be moved to the hospital, along with the bodies."

"Why wasn't I sent with the others? Was I really that bad off that I couldn't be moved." Hikari asked, confusion filling her as she looked around the small room, as she tried to sit up only to be gently pushed back down by Lin, "How bad off was I?"

"Nothing to worry about." Cologne said, said she reached out with one gnarled hand to gently pat her hand in a comforting way. "So we've been nursing you back to health."

"In your current condition we didn't think it was wise to try and send you back up the mountain with the others," Lin said as she came over to the bed and she removed the cloth on Hikari's forehead. "You have the child to think of to risk making the long journey back up the mountain until we're sure you are completely recovered."

"Thank you for taking care of me for so long when I needed it." Hikari said as she tried to sit back up, "But I have to leave here as soon as possible. I..."

"You won't be leaving anytime soon, dear." Cologne said, cutting off Hikari's words, as she reached out with one hand and managed to push Hikari back onto the bed with little effort, and nodded her head as if she was mentally confirming something, "You're still much too weak from your ordeal to go anywhere anytime soon."

"How long do you think it'll be before I can leave here?" Hikari asked, a defeated look appearing on her features as she realized that the older woman was right.

"Don't look so unhappy about remaining here," Cologne chided, laughing a bit at the expression she saw on Hikari's features, "Don't believe whatever you may have heard about us, dearie. Not all of it is true."

"Tell me, were you traveling alone on the bus, or was your husband with you on the bus?" Cologne asked a moment later, "Is there anyone we can contact to let them know where you are?"

"No, I'm traveling through China by myself, so there's no one who you can contact for me who's close by." Hikari said, shaking her head, as she looked at the other two women with a pained expression, "I have a son, but he's staying with relatives back in Japan, and my husband has been dead for the last six months."

It took another week of constant bed rest before Hikari was finally allowed to leave her bed for short periods of time under Lin's supervision, and was nearly recovered from the accident, though her hands and arms and legs were still wrapped in bandages.

During her short stay in the village, Hikari and Lin had become the closest of friends, as the two spent time with one another while she was stuck in bed, either talking about the things Lin had done that day with the other Amazons, or talking about Hikari's life before coming to the village.

One day, Lin came home from a hunting trip dragging a deer carcass behind her, to find her husband, Tao, already in the kitchen getting things ready for him to cook dinner. Giving him a slight smile, stopping long enough to drop off her kill in the kitchen for her husband to prepare for that days meal.

Leaving the kitchen, she walked into one of the backrooms, to find Hikari entertaining Shampoo on her bed, playing a game of peek-a-boo with the toddler when Lin came into the room.

"Thank you for taking care of Shampoo for Tao and I, Hikari-chan." Lin said cheerfully, as she walked over to the bed and picked up her daughter, who broke off into a fit of giggles as she hugged her mother. "We both appreciate it."

"It was a pleasure, Lin. She was a perfect angel for her auntie Hikari, weren't you, Shampoo?" Hikari said as she got off of the bed, as she gave her friend a small smile, "I loved every minute of it."

"Still you should have been resting you haven't fully recovered yet to be dealing with an energetic toddler, Hikari." Lin chided, as she helped Hikari up, "And so soon to your due date, too."

"I'm fine really." Hikari said, as she waved off Lin's comment, as she gave her friend a teasing smile as she placed a hand on her stomach, "I see it as practice for when my baby is born."

"Hm I would have thought you had a lot of practice with your first child, Hikari." Lin said, noticing how the other woman suddenly flinched at the mention of her eldest child, and found it strange.

During her stay in the Amazon's home Hikari had told her about her son, Ayame, and her deceased husband, Miroku, even showing her a family picture of the three together inside of her gold locket. When asked about why she hadn't brought Ayame with her on this trip, Hikari wouldn't answer, and clammed up.

"What's troubling you Hikari-chan?" Lin asked her friend worriedly, one day, after Lin had come back from a long day of hunting with her Amazon sisters.

"I may have to tell you something important about this child. It's a warning you might say," Hikari said as she looked from Lin to Cologne, with a panicked look on her face, as she rested a hand on her stomach protectively as she looked away, "I don't know if it may be necessary or not, but I want to make sure you know about it before he or she comes along."

"Whatever could be wrong that has you looking so worried, child?" Cologne asked immediately after seeing the stricken look on Hikari's features. "What kind of warning do you think we might need when your child comes?"

"To prevent whoever helps with my pregnancy from freaking out just in case." Hikari said softly, as she looked at the two women, before sighing. "My husband's family has a curse on it. One that may or may not reveal itself in my baby once it is born."

"What kind of curse?" Lin asked.

"In every new generation born into that family, there will always be thirteen children born cursed to turn into the thirteen animals of the Chinese Zodiac." Hikari said, as she looked away. "Before I left home, there were already four children that have the Juunishi curse. Three boys and one girl. My oldest son, Ayame, turns into the Snake, while his cousins turn into the Dog, Dragon, and the Pig"

"I had no choice. If I had stayed there, they would have found a reason to get rid of me." Hikari said, resentment filling her voice as spoke, as tears started to form in her eyes as the memories came back. "After my husband died, they didn't bother hiding how much they didn't want me around. Even at the funeral, my mother-in-law was talking about asking the head of our family to... to..."

Cologne reach out and place a small hand on Hikari's arm, "Take your time, dearie. What were they going to do to you that was so bad?"

"She was going to have my memories erased. If I had stayed, it would have been only a matter of time before I was called forward, and had my memories erased of possibly everything dealing with that family," The tears were starting to flow freely now down her cheeks, as she looked away, "including my own husband and child, and sent on my way with no idea of what I had lost..."

"Don't you think that you are overreacting a bit, Hikari," Cologne asked, "No one has the power to erase another's memory, unless they were skilled in magic."

"I've seen them do it before to people who accidentally find out about the family curse. It's a power that only those cursed to turn into the Dragon possess," Hikari said, as tears ran down her face, as she saw the stunned looks on the women's faces through the tears, "I couldn't risk the chance of staying there. I would have lost everything I held dear."

"You don't know them the way I do. I've lived with that family for ten years, and Miroku and Ayame were only things that made living there bearable." Hikari said. "Just the thought of not being able to remember Miroku or Ayame-kun was enough to make me run. And now with this new baby coming..."

"Did they know about the baby before you left?" Cologne asked.

"No. I didn't even know I was pregnant until a month after I left." Hikari said as she shook her head, as she sat back up and placed her hand, "If I had gone back even to visit, and they had found out about the baby, they would have kept me prisoner there until after it's born just to see whether or not it was one of the cursed."

"How does the Juunishi curse work exactly?" Lin cut in, as she sat down on the edge of the bed in front of Hikari, while Cologne took a seat on the other end of the bed. "Do you have a way of telling if the child is cursed before the child is born?"

"It's not until after the child is born," Hikari said, as she shook her head in answer to Lin's question as she spoke, "Nobody knows whether or not the newborn would be cursed to become which animal until after the child is born."

"How can you tell?" Cologne asked.

"There is only two ways to know if your newborn child is one of the cursed. If the child is a girl and held by a man, she'll change, into the animal she's been cursed to turn into," Hikari said, as she started describing exactly how the curse would work, as anger filled her voice but the sadness in her eyes could be seen as she spoke, "And if it's a boy and held by any woman, even if it's his own mother, he will change."

"Does the curse work all the time?" Cologne asked, curiosity filling her as she listened to Hikari's story, "Does it cause the curse child to transform into his or her animal form when anyone of the opposite gender touches them?"

"The only time the curse doesn't activate, is only when they're touched by someone who shares the Juunishi curse" Hikari said, a rueful look appearing on her features as she placed a hand on her stomach in thought, "They don't change despite whatever the others gender might be."

"Is there any way to know before hand if the child is cursed?" Lin asked, concern filling her as she listened to Hikari's story, as she finally came to realize exactly what was bothering the other woman during the past few weeks that she'd been staying with them. "Or a way to prevent the curse from happening?"

"That's not how the curse works." Hikari said, shaking her head once again, "As far as I can tell it's been that way in the family for generations. With each new generation of children born, there will always be thirteen children born with the Juunishi curse."

"There's something I wanted to ask you about." Cologne interrupted, "You kept mentioning that 'thirteen' children will be cursed to turn into the Chinese Zodiac animals. But there are twelve animals in the Zodiac."

"I know." Hikari said, as she looked at the elderly woman with a sad expression, "But with the curse there's thirteen animals. The thirteenth animal of the Zodiac is the Cat."

"The Cat?" Lin asked, confusion filling her.

"Have you ever heard of one old legend involving the Chinese Zodiac about how the cat almost became a part of the Chinese Zodiac," Hikari said as she did a quick rundown of the story, "if it hadn't been tricked by the rat into missing the party that they and the other chosen animals had been invited to by God..."

"I've heard of that old legend, but it's only a fairytale story told to children," Cologne said, interrupting Hikari's story, holding up a small hand to stop her, "But you are saying that one of the thirteen 'chosen' children will turn into the cat?"

"Yes. The worst thing about the cat curse, is that poor child is double cursed." Hikari said, in confirmation, her eyes becoming saddened as she thought about the curses, "Unless they wear a special bracelet at all times, they will transform into a monster."

"Any child born after the thirteen 'chosen' children will be born completely normal and uncursed," Hikari said a ruefull look appearing on her features, "never having to worry about changing when someone of the opposite gender touched them."

"That sounds like a horrible way for a child to go through life," Lin said, shaking her head in disbelief, as she listened to Hikari's story. "To never know what it's like to be touched or hugged by even their own mother or father, depending on what gender the child is."

"They learn to adapt and get whatever they can." Hikari said, shifting on the bed as she lay back onto the pillows that cushioned her back, and tried to get into a comfortable position, wincing at the sudden shift put pressure on her stomach.

"Are you all right, dear?" Cologne asked, her voice filled with concern as she noticed the wince immediately, "Is it the baby?"

"I'm fine, right now." Hikari said, waving off the elderly woman as she settled back into the pillows, resting a hand on her stomach as she looked between the two women. "There's one way to know for sure if it's cursed."

"What's that?" Lin asked, cocking her head to one side, confusion filling her as she wondered what brought this up now, "Is something else wrong that we should know about?"

"Yes. In my husbands family, unborn babies who possess the Junishi curse, always come two months early," Hikari said simply, "I was already six months pregnant when I first came here."

"And it's already been two weeks since the accident." Cologne said in understanding as she realized where this conversation was leading up to, "What your saying that is that if this child you carry is one of the cursed children, then it might come in the next week or so?!"

"What?" Lin exclaimed, disbelief filling her voice as she stared incredulously at Hikari.

"Maybe sooner than that." Hikari said, as she reached down to rub her stomach as she stared at the two woman, before looking away

"Are you in labor now is that it?" Cologne asked.

"I'm fine, I've just been feeling more tired than usual lately, and," Hikari said, as she shook her head in answer, "I've been having pains since this afternoon. It could be any day now."

"Why didn't you tell us sooner?!" Cologne demanded, as she looked at Hikari disapprovingly, "Are they serious pains?" "No. Their off and on. I've been taking it easy when the pains started." Hikari said, "I've been lying in bed all day, playing with Shampoo while Tao and Lin were busy."

Two days later, Lin was helping Hikari back to her bed after breakfast, when Hikari's water broke, and five hours later she gave birth to a healthy baby boy with violet eyes, and tuffs of dark gray hair on his head.

It had surprised the village midwife who attended the birth, when the newborn she held immediately transformed into a gray furred, violet eyed baby rat when he was held for the first time by her, causing everyone in the hut to come running when they heard her screams of fright.

Tao had been given the job of feeding the newborn with a bottle filled with milk, laced with a spoonful of honey to sweeten it, while Hikari watched on, as she sat up with her back propped up against some pillows as she finished writing a letter she had started when the labor pains began, while Lin and Cologne stayed in the other room talking about something concerning Hikari and the baby.

Hikari didn't know whether or not Lin and Cologne had been aware that she was awake when they were in her room earlier after the birth of her son, but she had been able to hear everything. It seemed that her body hadn't completely healed from the accident, and because of the long hours that it had taken to bring her son into the world had finally taken it's toll on her body, and now that it was done, she was still bleeding with no sign of it stopping anytime soon.

Lin had come into her room after talking to Cologne, with tears running down her face, to find Hikari awake, and relayed the message to her, telling her how sorry she was.

Who would have thought it would end like this. If I die hear, Ayame will never know what happened to me when my letters stop coming... Hikari thought as she nibbled on the end of her pen as she looked down at her letter before signing it and folding it up.

I don't know when or even if Ayame will ever see this letter, but at least he'll have an explanation for what happened to me... Hikari thought to herself after tucking the completed letter in a hidden section in the back of her journal.

Awhile after Tao had left the room once the feeding was done, and Hikari laid on her pallet while listening to the soft sounds of her newborn son's soft coo's in the little wicker basket next to her, lying on her side so she could look down into his small face, as she tried to ignore the pain coursing through her body with each movement she made.

Even after being one hour old, the little boy violet eyes were wide open and stared up at his mother, cooing happily at the strange woman looking down at him, as she reached out a hand to gently touch the small tuff of gray hair sticking out on top of his head, as the baby slowly drifted off to sleep.

He's so beautiful. I can tell he's going to grow up to look his father, with that hair and eyes. Hikari thought sadly to herself, as she looked down at her son, afraid that if she tried to hold him now, she might accidentally crush him if he transformed into his rat form.

Too bad I won't be able to see him grow up. I just wish I could hold you just once... With each passing hour, she could feel herself getting weaker by the minute, just then, a shudder wracked her body followed by a loud moan of pain escaping from her lips.

"Hikari-chan? How are you feeling now?" Lin's familiar voice called from across the room.

Hikari looked up to see Lin walk into her room carrying a small bowel, as an elderly woman pogoed inside on a long gnarled staff.

"Good afternoon, Lin, Cologne-san." Hikari said, as she looked up at the two women, as they entered the room, "I'm feeling a little better." Hikari said, as she pushed herself up with her elbows, as she smiled at her friend with tired eyes, as she eyed the bowel the other woman carried with her. "What's the bowel for?"

"We have a proposition, Hikari." Lin said, as she placed the bowel on a nearby table, and walked towards the bed to sit down at the foot, "I don't know if this might even work, but we decided that it couldn't hurt to try it out."

"Permission for what?" Hikari asked, confusion filling her voice as she looked at the two woman before her.

"You remember what we told you about the cursed valley of Jusenkyo, and it's cursed springs?" Cologne asked, continuing when Hikari nodded her head, "What we have in the bowel is water from the Pool of Drowned girl."

"Why did you bring the water here?" Hikari asked, confusion filling her, as she looked at the two women in confusion, as she tried to figure out what they were trying to tell her, "I thought you told me that Jusenkyo is dangerous, and why do you need my permission for what reason."

"We want to see if we can counteract the Juunishi curse," Lin said as walked over to where the baby basket was and picked it up, and placed it on the bed next to Hikari, "by giving your son the drowned girl curse, so that you may hold him without him changing into the rat."

"We want to give you the chance to hold him while you are still with us," Cologne said, as she smiled at Hikari, giving the younger woman a reassuring smile, "and Jusenkyo seems the most likely option that will give you this chance."

"But there is a warning. If you accept our offer, and it does work," Lin added in, "your baby will spend the rest of his life dealing with not just the Juunishi curse, but will also have to deal with the drowned girl curse."

"Is there a cure for Jusenkyo?" Hikari asked, as uncertainty filled her as she looked down at her baby as he slept peacefully inside of his basket, then back at the two women.

"There is no known cure for Jusenkyo's curses." Cologne said simply, as she looked at the younger woman with a sad look. "You don't have to rush it if you need time to think about it."

"But you might want to hurry on your decision." Lin added in quickly, as she looked at other woman. "There's no telling how much time you have left in this world."

Hikari sat there thinking on the pros and cons of giving her son the Drowned Girl curse, with one side of her wanting to immediately jump at the chance to be able to hold he newborn at least once before she died, while another part of argued that the Jusenkyo curse might not even affect the Juunishi curse at all.

What could it hurt? It might actually work. But then again, it might not work the way we hoped it would... Hikari thought silently, as she came to a decision, If it does, at least my son will have the chance to grow up without being afraid full time.

Hikari looked over at her son one last time, before nodding her head towards Lin, "Do it."

Taking the spoon that was hanging over the edge of the bowel, Lin carefully carried the spoon over the short distance to the baby basket, and poured a small amount of the cursed water on the sleeping baby, as Hikari watched silently.

After a few moments, Hikari began to look worried, because she hadn't seen anything out of the ordinary happen to her son after the water had been poured on him.

"Did it work?" She asked anxiously.

"Only one way to find out." Cologne said, "Lin would you do the honor's please?"

"Sure, great-grandmother, just give me a second." Lin said, as she quickly returned the spoon to the bowel, then walked back towards the basket.

Hikari held her breath, as she watched her friend bend over the basket, and her eyes widened in surprise, as Lin carefully lifted the sleeping baby from it's bed, blankets and all, with no loud POOF coming forth.

"There's a good baby," Lin said softly a small smile creeping to her lips as she looked down at the cherubic child, as she gently touched one of the baby's cheeks, before she turned towards Hikari, "Looks like our plan worked, Hikari-chan."

"Lin, is my baby?" Hikari said, as she pushed herself even further up and away from the pillows, as she stared at her friend in disbelief as Lin held her newborn son, in her arms. "He didn't change..."

"The water worked, Hikari." Lin said as she turned her gaze towards her friend, giving the other woman a warm smile as she sat down on the bed while cradling the newborn in her arms, "Your son is now a girl, and it looks like you can now touch him when he's in this body. Would you like to hold him?"

Hikari held out her arms for the baby, which was quickly deposited into her arms, as a small smile of relief filled her as she looked down at her son's sleeping form, as she shifted him gently in her arms to try and not wake him up, as tears started to form in her eyes.

"Hikari?" Lin asked worriedly, as she saw the tears started to fall down her friends' cheeks, as the other woman looked at the child she now held in her arms, "Is something wrong?"

"I'm just glad that I'm finally able to hold him, without being afraid of accidentally crushing him if he transformed." Hikari said, as she looked back towards Lin and Cologne gratefully, "Thank you Lin-san, Cologne-san for doing this for me."

"It was the least we could do for you under the circumstances, Hikari." Cologne said, as she gave the younger woman a small smile, as she gazed worriedly at Hikari, taking in the worn look in the young mother's appearance.

After years of experience in matters such as this, Cologne and knew that Hikari probably didn't have much longer for this world.

"What will you name him?" Lin suddenly asked, breaking the silence that had started to settle in the room. "Do you already have a name picked out?"

"I already have the perfect name for him," Hikari said, a hint of tiredness in her voice as she looked down her son-turned-daughter, as he/she now laid nestled in her arms, "One that will fit both of his forms. When he's a boy, he will simply be known as Yuki. And when he's a girl, she will be known as Yukina."

"That sounds like a perfect name for him." Lin said, smiling a bit as she stared at her friend as she looked at her baby lovingly.

Cologne and Lin smiled encouragingly as they watched the new mother hold her child, both glad that they were able to do this one thing for the outsider who they had come to consider a member of their own family in the short time she was with them.

The two Amazons watched as Hikari held her child in her arms for a minutes, watching as she rocked the baby in her arms while humming a small melody until the child finally fell asleep.

"Thank you for doing the for me. It's the best gift I could ever hope for." Hikari said as she glanced at the two woman with tear filled eyes, just as a sudden tiredness filled her, as she yawned, covering her mouth with a free hand.

As she looked at Lin and Cologne, she gave both women a happy smile, before turning her gaze back to her child, placing a kiss on the girl's forehead before holding the baby out so that Lin could take her.

"Hikari?" Lin asked, worry filling her as she watched the other woman's eyes start to close, "Are you all right?"

"I'm just tired right now," Hikari said, her voice sounding quieter as she spoke, as her eyes remained closed, "Lin, can you please hand me my locket? It's on that table behind you."

Hikari listened to Lin's soft footsteps as she walked away from her bedside, and heard the sound of a chair being moved out of the way, before the footsteps returned to the bedside.

A second later, she soon felt the cold, metal surface of her locket touch the back of her hand as they rested on her chest, and Hikari open her hand to let Lin drop it into her palm.

"Thank you, Lin." Hikari said, smiling as she opened her eyes, and smiled appreciatively at the Amazon woman.

"Your welcome, Hikari." Lin said returning the smile.

"We'll leave you to yourself for awhile." Cologne said as she nodded her head at Lin, at the elderly woman as she left the room, and "If you need anything, just call out, all right?"

"I'll take Yuki with me and watch him while you sleep," Lin said, as she picked up the basket, glancing back one last time at the bedridden woman before leaving, "I'll be back later with some food for you."

"All right." Hikari said, her voice sounding strained as she smiled weakly. "Thank you Lin."

"Your welcome." Lin said, as she glanced back once more before stepping through the doorway, shutting the door with a soft click. "I really hope you feel better when you get some rest, Hikari."

Once she was alone once more, she raised her hands up as she opened the clasp on the side, and looked at the familiar faces of her family staring back at her, as tears filled her eyes as she stared at the image of Ayame, Shigure and Hatori.

"You know I always I thought I would have time to go back and see my boys again," Hikari said softly, as she looked at the pictures, before lowering her hands and let lie on her stomach, "But now it looks like I stayed away too long."

As Hikari lay on her bed, she closed her eyes as a deep sense sudden wariness filled her, feeling too tired to keep her eyes open any longer and just wanted to sleep.

'Hikari-chan, wake up.' a familiar voice called from somewhere close by, 'Come on Hikari, wake up. It's time to go.'

That voice... It almost sounds like Miroku's, but... Hikari thought frowned in confusion, as she tried to place the voice she heard, didn't open her eyes, It couldn't be, he's dead. I have to be dreaming...

"It's no dream, love. I'm really here.' A soft chuckle could be heard from the foot of her bed, sounding both mildly amused and mischievous as she felt a cool hand touch her foot and give it a gentle shake. 'Now stop being such a stubborn lay-a-bed and wake up.'

That voice, belonging to the one man whom she'd ever love, whom she had missed these past seven months since his death, sounded so real, so close that Hikari immediately latched onto it, as she forced her eyes open to see if he was really there.

"Miroku?" Hikari whispered, her eyes widening in disbelief as she saw his ghostly transparent figure standing at the foot of her bed, "Is that really you?!"

Miroku stood at the foot of her bed grinning mischievously at her from his spot, green eyes twinkling as he ran a transparent hand through his black hair nervously as he stared at her. He was still wearing the same business suit he'd been wearing the day he died, though it now looked worse for wear on him.

'Of course it's me, who else would it be? I've been waiting a long time to talk to you again.' Miroku teased as he looked down at Hikari as she struggled to sit up in her bed, as he held out a hand to her, 'I've been waiting for you, Hikari. It's time for us to go.'

"Go? Go where?..." Hikari started to ask, but stopped when she realized what he must mean, "I'm dead, aren't I?"

'Not yet, but your getting there.' Miroku said, shaking his head in answer. 'I'm here to help you cross over to the other side, so you won't be alone when you die.'

"But what about Yuki? I can't leave him. He's too young." Hikari said, tears running down her face as she looked pleadingly at her husband as he reached out to touch her cheek comfortingly, "And Ayame..."

'It'll be okay, Hikari.' Miroku said soothingly as he climbed into the bed and wrapped his ghostly arms around his wife's body, feeling more solid as he held her while rubbing her back soothingly, 'He'll be okay. Lin and her family will take care of him just like you asked. You can't stay here anymore.'

Tears pooled into Hikari's eyes as she wrapped her arms around him, "I missed you so much, Miroku...

'I know. I've missed you too.' Miroku said as he pulled away from her and stood up, and held out his hand towards her, 'Are you ready to go?'

"I'm ready." Hikari said, smiling as she shook of the blanket covering her body, and swung her legs over the edge of the bed, and took Miroku's hand into her own, and stood up and allowed him to pull her into another hug..

'I'm not leaving you alone again, Hikari' Miroku said as he held her close, before pulling away to look into her violet eyes, as he bends his head down to kiss her on the lips, 'Not if I can help it.'

"You better not, Miroku or else I might never forgive you." Hikari said as she looked back at him giving him a tearful smile, as she bends her head back to accept the kiss.

As they shared a kiss between them the room was suddenly bathed in a bright blinding light, that seemed to envelope them.

When the light faded, the couple was gone.

Awhile later, Lin opened the door leading into Hikari's room to check on her, carrying a tray of food with her into the room, "Hikari are you awake? Do you want something to eat?"

When she didn't get an answer, Lin frowned as she set down the tray on the table and approached the bed, and stopped once she had a good view of the bed, and shook her head sadly as she stared at her friend, "Oh Hikari..."

Hikari still lay on her bed with her blanket covering her body, with her arms resting on top of the blanket. Her eyes were closed and she had a peaceful look on her features, looking like she was only sleeping, as a smile graced her lips as if she was having a nice dream.

But it was obvious from the lack of movement from underneath the blanket that should have indicated the rise and fall of her chest as she slept, that she wasn't breathing anymore.

Lin sat on the edge of the bed and reached a hand towards Hikari's throat to check for a pulse, already knowing what she would find there, but still wanted to make sure, and feels the chill coming from Hikari's skin.

Sighing a bit, Lin stood up, and pulled the blanket up to cover Hikari's face, and left the room to tell the others.

Cologne was sitting at the table with Tao as they waited for Lin to return so they could start dinner. Both looked up expectantly when they heard Lin's enter the room, and became silent when they saw the look on her face, as she took a seat at the table.

"She's gone, isn't she?" Tao asked, breaking the silence after a couple of minutes.

"It looks like she must have passed away almost as soon as grandmother and I had left the room." Lin said, nodded her head in agreement, "It doesn't look like she was in any pain when she died. She looked so peaceful when I found her."

"It was to be expected, her body couldn't handle the stress placed on her by the labor," Cologne said, as she stared at her granddaughter sympathetically, "when she was still recovering from the injuries that she sustained in that accident. If she could have had two more months to fully recover she may have survived the birth."

"So what are we going to do with Yuki? Do we keep him?" Tao asked, as he looked at the sleeping newborn, who had fallen asleep shortly after having another feeding and diaper change, completely oblivious of everything that was going on around him, "Did Hikari tell you where her family is?"

"No. She didn't want Yuki to be sent back to her husbands family." Lin said, as she frowned at her husband for daring to even suggest such a thing, "She didn't want him to grow up having to be afraid like everyone else in that family is because of the curse."

"So what do you think we should do then?" Tao asked.

"Keep him of course!" Lin exclaimed, as she bent down to pick up Yuki's basket, and placed it on her lap, as she looked down at the baby as he slept on, "I want to keep him, Tao. We could give him a loving family, and Shampoo could do with a sibling I would think."

Tao stared at his wife thoughtfully, as he watched her look at the baby so lovingly; realizing that Lin had grown attached to the newborn already and wouldn't give him up. He knew perfectly well that once Lin made up her mind about something, there was no changing it.

"I think it would be a grand idea for you to take him, Lin." Cologne said before Tao could say anything more, as she stared at her granddaughter's face when she looked up at her, "He'll need help adjusting to his Jusenkyo curse as he grows older, something his father's family wouldn't be able to do if we managed to find a way to send him to them."

"What do you think, husband?" Lin said, as she glanced over at Tao, the look on her face almost daring him to say disagree with her on this, "We are going to keep him whether you agree or not."

"I agree with both of you about taking him in. We could provide him with a loving family right here in the village." Tao said, sighing as he got out of his seat and moved to kneel at his wife's side so he could look at into the basket at the sleeping baby, "I liked Hikari also, and I feel that we should do this one last thing for her."

"I'm so glad that you agree with me," Lin said, as she grinned at her husband."

"I'll be leaving the two of you now," Cologne said as she got onto her staff and started pogoing towards the front door, "I'll go start making preparations for Hikari's burial."

"All right grandmother," Lin called as she waved the older woman off, before turning back towards her husband and the baby, "We can put him in Shampoo's room until we can make room for him in Hikari's old room, all right?"

"Fine with me." Tao said, as he stood up and started gathering the dirty dishes to take them to the kitchen and wash them.

Lin looked back down at the baby a moment, as she reached out a hand to touch the gray colored fuzz sticking out of his head, "Welcome to our family, Yuki Pu."

Eleven years later

Two young girls carrying bo staffs ran through the forest, as they rushed to get back to their village in time for lunch, before their great grandmother got angry with them.

The oldest of the two looked to be no older than ten years old, with bright purple hair that went down to just above her knees. The other girl looked to be nine, with violet eyes and medium length gray hair tied back into a ponytail.

"Shampoo wait up!" the younger girl cried out, lagging behind as she stopped to catch her breath, leaning against a nearby tree as she took out a canteen and took a long drink. "I need to stop for a minute."

"Yukina come on! Don't be such a slowpoke!" an irritated chibi Shampoo cried, as she glared at her younger 'sister' as she trudged along. "You won't be able to become a good warrior if you can't keep up."

"Sorry big sister," the girl, Yukina, said as she looked at her older sister resignedly, as she finally caught up Shampoo, stopping to catch her breath as she did so as Shampoo waited patiently. "But I've been training with you all day and I'm too tired to be running through the woods like this..."

"You just don't want to go back to the village yet, seeing how this is supposed to be your last day as a girl for the next month." Shampoo said teasingly, as she rested a hand on top of her siblings' head for.

"I still can't see why elders make me stay one month in both forms." Yukina said with a slight pout as she looked at her sister sadly. "Being a girl is more fun."

"You only say that because you don't have to do any of the chores the men have to do when you're a girl." Shampoo scolded, as she walked towards "The elders just want you to know what it's like to live as both a boy and a girl and get used to your other curse in both forms. Since you really are a boy..."

"'I should learn what boys do or else if I spend my whole life in my girl form, I'll never be able fully understand both of my forms,'" Yukina piped in, cutting into her sisters words, as she mimicked what the village elders had told her the day they had given the punishment to her.

"Well you deserved it for pushing Tam Pon's grandsons into one of the Jusenkyo pools," Shampoo said, reminding her 'sister' of a certain incident the younger girl that had led to her current situation. "If you hadn't done that you wouldn't have to go through all of this, you know."

After an incident involving 'accidentally' knocking two of the local village boys into the pool of drowned skunk because they were constantly teasing her about her two curses, when 'Yukina' had hit her eighth birthday a year ago, the village elders had voted that Yukina should spend more time in both her forms as she grew older.

For one month she had to stay in one of her girl form learning the way the women of her village, then spend the following month in her boy form as 'Yuki', and learning the ways of the boys in the village.

Even if she accidentally changed into her other gender during the one of the months, she had to immediately change back to the proper gender or else she'd be punished, and it was starting to irritate the young aqua-transsexual.

"I stay in my male form plenty of times," Yukina whined, as she looked at her sister angrily, as a small pout appeared on her features. "Just because I don't stay in it full time doesn't mean I should be punished if I'm in the wrong body during certain months."

"But not enough, since you barely stay in that form, just so you can get out of doing the chores the other boys usually have to do all the time." Shampoo scolded as she reached over towards her sister and put her arm around Yukina's neck in a hug, "Your just lucky great-grandmother stepped in to save your butt."

"Some save..." Yuki muttered under her breath, earning herself a sharp whap on the head from Shampoo's bo as the older girl frowned at her. "OW! What was that for?!" Yukina exclaimed as she rubbed her aching head while glaring at her sister.

"Be more respectful, Yukina!" Shampoo reprimand, as she glared at her sibling, "I think your punishment would have been a lot worse if great grandmother hadn't suggested this to the council."

"I know, I know." Yukina said, as she continued following Shampoo up the road to their village in silence.

The two girls were almost to the gates leading into their village when they heard the familiar cry of one of the village boys shouting at them.


Looking up both girls saw a young boy dressed in flowing white robes, with a pair of thick eyeglasses perched on his nose running straight towards them with arms wide.

"You're boyfriends here, sis." Yukina teased, as she smirked at her sister.

"Oh no." Shampoo moaned simultaneously, as she glared at Mousse angrily, as she stepped aside. "Stupid Mousse."

Both girls moved to get out of the way of Mousse's onward charge, but the blind boys excitement at being near his love made him speed up towards the nearest blurred figure that, latching onto her as soon as he felt his hands touch the soft cloth of her outfit, believing that it was Shampoo, until...


The next thing Mousse knew he was now clutching a small pile of empty clothes. Looking down at the clothes, he could see the blurry image of a tiny gray mouse climbing out of the clothes, and was now glowering up at him from on top of the pile.

"Mousse!!! Put your glasses on!" Yukina exclaimed as she glared up at her closest friend in irritation, as she tapped her tiny foot angrily, "This is the fifth time this time this week that you mistook me for Shampoo."

"Oops..." Mousse said, a sheepish note entering his voice, as he adjusted his glasses onto his nose, and looked down at the fuming girl- turned-rodent. "Sorry Yukina. I thought you were..."

"Shampoo, I know. It would be a lot better if you kept your glasses on at all time." Yukina snapped with a small sigh, her small ears flattening against her skull as she gave the blind boy a rat's version of a frown, "Do you mind putting me down, and going away before I change back to normal?"

"I said I was sorry," Mousse protested as he quickly put Yukina down on the ground, "It was an honest mistake."

"One which you seem to be making, Mousse," Shampoo said as she quickly bent over to pick up Yukina along with her discarded clothes and started walking away heading towards the hut she lived in with her parents, before Yukina changed back in the streets, and quickly dumped the rat in her room before along with her clothes before she changed back to normal.

"Shampoo I'm really sorry. You must know that it was you that I meant to hug and not Yukina." Mousse followed after the two girls, quickly adjusting his glasses on the bridge of his nose, as he squinted at the semi blurred image in front of him, just making out the purple hair. "If she hadn't gotten in my way I would have..."

"What do you mean 'Gotten in your way'?!" Yukina's squeaky voice cried out indignantly out from behind her closed door, "I was in the way?! If you had your glasses on your nose where they belonged this wouldn't have happened!"

"You'd think that after all the times blind boy has grabbed unto you, 'mistaking' you for me', that he's doing it on purpose just to grope you in your female form, Yukina."

"Shampoo! That... That's not true! You're the only girl I want. You know Yuki and I are just friends..." Mousse started sputtering in dismay, as a faint blush appeared in his cheeks at Shampoo's words, as he quickly denied what the purple haired girl had just said. "Yuki- chan's not even my type! She's not even that cute."

"Stupid Mouse. Who are you calling uncute?" Yukina cried from inside of her room, just as a loud POOF!! was heard, and the two children could hear the sound of rustling clothes as Yukina hurried to get dressed.

"Don't think you can wait until I turn back into a boy, goggle eyes, for that 'not cute' crack." Seconds later a flustered Yukina emerged from inside of her room, fastening the last of the buttons on her outfit, as she shot Mousse a dark look, as she wielded one of her practice bonbori's in her hands.

"Yuki-chan, come on. You know I didn't mean anything by that...ACK!!" Mousse immediately backed away from the advancing girl, holding up his hands defensively, and quickly ducked a flying projectile, running out the front door with the two girls right behind him. "You've already made it a point of beating up all of the boys who try showing interest in you, and... Yipe!"

Where did she get those things from? Mousse thought as he barely managed to dodge in time to avoid a mace, a bat, two bowling balls, as he ran around the village with Yukina right on behind him, before he quickly ducked behind a laughing Shampoo, earning himself a sharp thump on the head from Shampoo for his stunt.

Okay, Note to self. No more insulting teaching Yuki dangerous techniques like the Hidden Weapon's move. Mousse thought, rubbing his head as he squinted up at Shampoo's blurry frowning figure.

"Hey no fair hiding behind Shampoo!" Yukina cried out, pouting a bit as she scowled at the other boy, as she stopped short of hitting her elder sister with one of the bowling balls she had pulled out of nowhere.

"Shampoo! Please protect me from your little sister!" Mousse said, as he ducked back behind Shampoo, getting to his hands and knees.

"Mousse be man and take medicine." Shampoo scolded, while glaring over her shoulder at the bespectacled boy as he hid behind her, "You know that if you dare to insult Yuki-chan's 'cuteness' and must pay consequences, until you apologize."

"I'm sorry, Yuki!" Mousse cried out as he dodged another thrown projectile, though a grin was plastered on his face that mirrored the two girls, as he spent ten minutes running around outside the hut with Yukina right behind him until the silver haired 'girl' finally tackled him to the ground, and kept him pinned to the ground with her legs on his arms to keep him from moving, as she started tickling him.

Shampoo joined in on the tickling and soon the two girls had Mousse shrieking with laughter as he tried to break away from their combined assault until...

Just then the sudden sound of someone clearing their throat caused the trio to look up in surprise to see her Cologne standing in the doorway leading into the house, and Shampoo and Yukina quickly jumped off of their 'victim', looking innocent while Mousse quickly got to his feet.

"I see you youngsters are enjoying yourselves," Cologne said, a wry tone in her voice, as she stared at the three children.

"We're just having some fun, great-grandmother," Shampoo said, not looking at the elder as she dusted off her clothes.

"I can see that." Cologne said, a slight chuckle escaping her lips as she smiled at the trio, before turning his full attention on Yukina, "Yukina I want to speak to you in private before you go do anything else.." "What is it great grandmother?" Yukina asked, perking up at the elderly woman's words.

"You'll have to come with me to find out," Cologne simply said, as she looked Yukina directly in the eyes, before turning around and started pogoing back towards her own hut, "Your 'parents' and I believe that you are now old enough to receive this."

"What do you think that was all about?" Mousse asked, as he watched Cologne's blurry image hop off.

"It must be important if she wants to show it to Yuki by himself." Shampoo said, a slow pout forming on her features at the thought of being left out of whatever was happening.

"I don't know but I'm going to find out" Yukina said to Mousse and Shampoo, waving at them as she hurried off after her grandmother "I'll catch up with you guys later."

Later that evening, it was almost time for dinner, and Yuki had run off to be alone, leaving Shampoo and Mousse the job of hunting down the youngest member in their little group.

Awhile later, Shampoo and Mousse found Yuki sitting on the edge of a nearby pond watching the sun set in the horizon, just staring off into space as he looked down at something he clutched in his hands.

Yuki was now in his male body, and was now dressed in dark blue robes, that fit his small form perfectly, as a pair of black sandals adorned his feet. His gray hair was pulled back into a long ponytail.

"Yuki! There you are! Everyone is waiting for you so we can start eating dinner." Shampoo shouted as she ran towards her sibling, and stopped.

The younger boy didn't answer Shampoo's call, until Mousse smacked him upside the back of his head to get his attention.

"OW!!!" Yuki cried out in pain as he swung around to face his assailant. "Mousse! What did you do that for?!"

"Mousse! Don't hit my little brother's head!" Shampoo cried out as she reached out to return the favor to the bespectacled boy, hitting him hard enough to have him winding up eating dirt.

"Great grandmother gave it to me." Yuki said simply, as he reached into a nearby basket that Shampoo hadn't noticed until just now, and pulled out what looked to be a thick book, "She told me that this stuff belonged to my real mother."

"Your real mother?" Mousse asked, confusion filling his voice as he stared at Yuki, "I thought Lin-san was your real mother. How come I never heard about it?"

"Silly Mousse. This shows that you don't know anything." Shampoo reprimand as she gave the boy next to her an annoyed look. "My parents adopted Yuki when he was a baby, after his mother died."

"Mom and dad told us this last year." Yuki said as he opened up the book he had pulled out, and started flipping through the pages, trying to make out the words written in it, "They thought we were old enough to understand the truth after all this time."

"Oh that makes sense," Mousse said, as he took a seat on Yuki's left side, while Shampoo sat on his right.

"Even I know that Yuki not Shampoo's brother/sister by blood, but that doesn't mean anything." Shampoo quickly countered, sticking out her tongue at the youth as she spoke, "Why do you think Yuki only one in our family who change into a Rat when she get touched by boy or girl depending on which form he's in?"

As the two children argued back and forth with one another, they stopped when Yuki suddenly let out a sound of frustration, as he tossed the book back into the box.

"What's wrong, Yuki?" Shampoo asked, concern filling her voice as she watched Yuki sulk.

"I can't read the book." Yuki replied, as he sat with his chin resting on his knees, "It's written in Japanese, and I'm not that good at it yet. I can barely make out some of the words on the pages."

"This shows what your goofing off has come to, Yuki," Shampoo said teasingly, as she smirked at her younger sibling, being careful not to touch him as she settled down next to him, "Tien-san would be so disappointed in you."

"At least I can speak it better than you do, Shampoo," Yuki said countered with a small huff, "It's the reading part that's hard."

"That's only because you haven't been paying attention to your studies, it would be easier to read." Mousse said as he reached into the box and pulled out the book, adjusting his glasses onto the bridge of his nose, as he opened it, "Since I'm better at reading Japanese, I could read it to you if you want until you finally master the language."

"I don't want you to read it to me! My birth mother left it for me, and I'll read it myself." Yuki exclaimed as he quickly snatched the book out Mousse's hands, and held out of reach, "I'll learn to read it myself, even if it kills me while trying."

"Oh this is pretty, can I have it, Yuki?" shampoo suddenly asked, causing the two boys to turn towards her to see that she had been looking through the box, and was now holding up the locket Yuki had tossed back in a few minutes ago.

"No!" Yuki exclaimed as he reached towards her to try and grab the locket from his sisters' hands, with little success as she held it out of his reach. "Hand it over Shampoo! I plan on wearing that myself."

"Why not?" Shampoo asked, as a small pout appeared on her features as she glanced longingly first at the locket then back at Yuki with disappointed eyes, as he manages to snatch it out of her hands, "It's not like your going to be using it. You don't even like jewelry, Yuki."

"That's besides the point, Shampoo. I want to keep it for myself," Yuki said, as he ignored the look he was now getting from his sister, as he clutched it in his hand from it's chain, "It has my birth mother's picture inside of it."

"Her picture? " Mousse asked, as he got closer towards Yuki, interest showing in his face as he does so, "Could we see what she looks like?"

"Yeah lets see what your real mom looks like!" Shampoo exclaimed as she reached for the locket and tried to take it from Yuki's hands, but the gray haired youth refused to let go.

"Quit it Shampoo." Yuki said, as he held the locket away from Shampoo, and gently pushed her away with his free hand, "You'll only break it if I let you open it."

Shampoo exclaimed indignantly as she glared at her brother, pouting all the while, "I will not break it!"

"Yeah right." Yuki said with a slight shrug of his shoulders as he grinned at Shampoo, before turning his attention back to the locket, "I'll show you guys the picture."

As the two children waited, Yuki brought both his hands over the locket, working his fingers over the clasp on the side of the lid, before finally flipping it over, and held it out so the others could see it's contents.

"Oh she's pretty," Shampoo cooed as she looked at the woman that looked resembled Yuki's female form, her eyes drifting from the image of the woman to the man and boy with her, "She looks just like you, Yuki- chan. And that must be your dad with her. But who's that boy with them?"

"How would I know who he is? I'm just seeing his picture now." Yuki said with a slight shrug of his shoulders, as he looked longingly at the picture, "There's another picture of him with two other boys."

"It says 'To Mom/Auntie, love Ayame, Shigure and Hatori'." Mousse said, after adjusting his glasses on his nose and squinted down at the inscription on the locket.

"'Mom'?" Yuki asked, his eyes widening as he heard what the writing said, wonder filling his voice as he stared in shock at Mousse, as he took the necklace away from the blind boy and looked down at the image of the three boys, "Does this mean I have a brother?"

"And a couple of cousins it looks like," Mousse said as he glanced back at Yuki, "One of these three boys must be your brother."

"It could be this boy here with the white hair who's sitting in front of your mother and father," Shampoo said, taking the necklace away, and looked at the two boys in front of her, "Who else could it be but him? He looks just like you. And he looks like he's my age. But this picture's so old now, he might be older by now."

"I don't care about a brother I never met." Yuki said, as he shut the locket tightly and stuck it into his pockets as he stood up, "I'm more interested in who my mom was."

"But Yuki, think about it." Mousse said, as he also stood up, dusting off grass from his clothes as he looked at the other boy, "If you have a brother out there somewhere, it means you still have a real family."

"I don't care. I don't need another family, when I have one right here. It's not like I'm ever going to meet the guy." Yuki said stubbornly, as he glared at Mousse over his shoulder as he bent to pick up the box, loading the journal back inside, "It wouldn't matter anyway. He's living who knows where in Japan, while I'm living right here in the village in China."

"That's true, but..." Mousse began, only to be cut off.

"Just drop it Mousse!" Yuki exclaimed as he glared at the bespectacled boy, as he turned on his heel still clutching the box in his hands as he started walking back to the village, "Come on, didn't you say we were late for dinner? Our moms are going to be mad if we're stay out any later while our food gets cold."

As the two children watched Yuki walk back to the village, they both shared a glance.

"Seems to me that he's taking the news that he's has a brother somewhere a little hard, Shampoo," Mousse said, as he removed his glasses and cleaned them on his robes, and put them back on.

"He was always asking our parents about who his real mother was once they had finally told us last year," Shampoo said as she got up and dusted off her own clothes, "I guess hearing that he's also has a brother somewhere is a bit much for him to take in right now..."

"I guess so..." Mousse said, looking thoughtful for a moment, when they both suddenly heard Yuki's voice shouting at them from the village.

"You guys! Come on!" Yuki shouted back.

"Hold on a second Yuki." Shampoo shouted as she started up the pathway towards the hill, and see's Yuki's outline being illuminated by the torchlight's that were now burning outside the village.

"We're coming!" Mousse added, as he followed after Shampoo, tripping a couple of times over objects in his way.

To Be Continued...

Author's Notes:

I came up with this idea a long time ago, and it wouldn't go away, until I finally gave in and wrote it down. What do you guys think of it so far? Hate it? Like it? Loathe it? What? And should I continue it?

looks sheepish I never saw got the last two Fruits Baskets dvds, so I don't know how the series ends yet, so bear with me please. But I saw the preview of the episode coming up on the third dvd, and saw how Akito looks.

The story will basically go by the Ranma ½ storyline, with 'Yukina' following Shampoo to Japan when she goes after girl type Ranma, and she might run into some of the Sohma clan later on. Another note is that Yuki won't have that asthma problem that he had in the original series.

Quick question. Can anyone tell me the name of the city/district plus the name of the High School that the Fruits Basket gang go to?

Has anyone else noticed how much Akito looks like Yuki, only with darker hair and black eyes?

Would anyone be willing to do a picture for me of Yuki, in both forms, standing/sitting back to back with one another?