Disclaimer: Furuba does not belong to me
So, this is the last chapter everyone...
"Honda-san, wake up!"
Tohru blinked as sunlight poured through the shoji doors. Matsui-san was hurriedly pulling out a yukata from the chest. Tohru found her futon covers being whipped off and herself being firmly lifted and pulled towards the bathroom.
Tohru spluttered as a toothbrush was popped into her mouth by the elderly servant, who was now running a comb through her sleep-knotted hair.
"Matsui-san, what's going on? Sumimasen, did I oversleep?"
"You're late for bidding the master farewell. He's getting ready to leave as we speak."
Matsui-san pushed a basin of cold water towards her and made frantic motions for Tohru to hurry.
"But...what do you mean by 'farewell'?"
Tohru finished up and found herself being dressed in a frenzy. At times like these, she sent up a grateful thanks for the elderly lady. "Akito-san never told me he was leaving. Where is he going?"
The woman looked scandalized.
"The master does not have to explain his whereabouts to us. You can ask him yourself when you see him." She gave a final yank to the obi and stood back to survey her handiwork. "You are too pale; Souma-sama will not be pleased." She gave Tohru's cheeks a light pinch to bring the colour to her face and waved her out into the hallway.
"Hurry now...at the front entrance. You mustn't keep him waiting."
Tohru set off at as quick a pace she could manage in the gown. The house was even more quiet than usual; the servants were probably gathered at the gate to see Akito-san off. Making her way through the set of corridors she was finally getting familiar with, Tohru tried to recollect if Akito-san had mentioned leaving. Drawing a blank, she started to fret: did I do something to offend him? Kiiiaaa…am I such a horrible companion that I've driven him from his own house? Thinking back to last night, she blushed furiously.
Is his leaving the reason why he had taken her so many times?
Akito glared at the rows of bowing servants and tapped his foot impatiently. True, he didn't remember actually telling her that he was leaving, but it was her job to keep herself informed. Even an idiot would have noticed the servants making preparations for his trip and could have deduced what was going on.
The cold winter air nipped at his neck and the collective heads of the servants sank even lower at Akito's growl. He barked at Kureno to open the car door and slid in. Once again, he'd given her too much credit and forgotten that she was a super-idiot. The car started and Akito took out his unsettling frustration by kicking the back of the driver seat and glowered at Kureno through the rear-view mirror.
He couldn't believe it; Kureno was actually daring to complain! What was going on with everyone today?
"Is there something you wanted to say?"
The hiss didn't produce the humbled silence expected.
"Akito-san, I believe that's Tohru-san running after us."
Akito whipped around. Sure enough, the stupid girl was chasing the car in only her yukata. Was she so blind that she couldn't see it was snowing outside?
"Stop the car."
The order was given quietly. Kureno recognized the tone: Akito was building himself into a tantrum, an increasingly rare occasion since Tohru moved in, but a scenario with which the Juunishi were well-acquainted. His apprehension grew when Akito pressed the button that enabled the divider between the front and back seats to go up. Given the pointed message to stay out of their conversation, Kureno could only hope that Tohru had learnt how to manage Akito.
Tohru reached the car and stopped, panting to catch her breath. The servants had gasped when she bolted down the front steps but now that she was here, she realized she didn't really have much to say except 'have a nice trip.'
The backseat window rolled down and Tohru found herself blinking into a pair of dark eyes. Eyes that were, at the moment, bright with anger and some other unidentifiable emotion.
"So," his voice was low and controlled "Honda Tohru-san has finally decided to grace us with her presence. What brings you out here at this ungodly hour?"
Tohru drew in a deep breath and bowed.
"Sumimasen...I didn't know that Akito-san was leaving and only just woke up. If I had known, I would have prepared something for you to eat...and have seen you off properly..."
"Are you saying that it's my fault I didn't inform you I was leaving?"
Tohru waved her hands emphatically and stared earnestly into the pale, inscrutable face she had grown to care for.
"I'm such a baka...I should have realized that the Souma estate is very large and of course, Akito-san needs to tend to many family affairs..."
She was cut off as she sneezed.
The pale face suddenly flushed as Akito exploded.
"Yes, you're an idiot! If I hadn't known it before, you've just proven it to me! You're a baka who wears a yukata outside in the middle of winter but apparently that doesn't matter because you're also a busu whose skin is so tough that she doesn't feel the cold even when her lips are turning blue!"
Tohru blinked again. That wasn't the outburst she had been bracing for. She had expected him to yell at her for being late but somehow, his concern for her was not...unexpected either. Over the past year, she had seen more and more of this side of Akito-san and she smiled, shivering at the same time.
Akito's eyes narrowed and there was an angry rustling in the car as he whipped off his own haori and threw it out the window at her.
"Put that on."
"But, Akito-san will be cold..."
"Did you think I only brought one jacket? Now put it on."
Tohru shrugged into the lined jacket. It was still warm and carried a slight scent she recognized as Akito. Wrapping it tighter around her, she moved closer to the car and bent down to the window.
"How long will Akito-san be gone for?"
"A week...two weeks at the most."
His voice was calm again, as Akito found himself surprisingly appeased at seeing her bundled up properly.
"You can visit your friends or do whatever you like, but I expect...," he frowned and rephrased it, "but when I return, it would be nice to see you here to greet me."
"Of course I will be here to greet Akito-san when you return! If you like, I'm planning on preparing a special 'welcome home' meal for you. I'm not sure whether you'll be back for lunch or dinner, but if it's lunch, I was thinking chazuke with gyoza and nigrimeshi. For dinner, we can have..."
Akito tuned out as she happily prattled on. He watched as she crinkled her forehead in thought, her long hair blowing around her and glistening with snow. His face softened.
She stopped talking as a pale hand reached out and caught a few tendrils of her hair. He tugged gently until her head was inside the car. Dark eyes met hers and she felt his lips warming her own. His tongue traced her lips before easing into her mouth hungrily. Tohru leaned her arms against the window sill and eagerly reciprocated as he deepened the kiss, sighing as the hand in her hair slid around to clasp the back of her head. Akito nipped her bottom lip before he drew back and ran his fingers down her cheek, pausing to caress her swollen lips thoughtfully.
"You taste like toothpaste."
Tohru was startled as he rubbed his nose against hers in an uncharacteristically affectionate manner. A slight smile curved his mouth as he gave her a final, firm kiss before gesturing her to move her head back out.
"I'll remember that."
Akito signalled to Kureno to drive away. At the front gate, he allowed himself a glance back towards the house. In the middle of the driveway, a slim, coated figure was waving goodbye enthusiastically, her smile as open and bright as the morning sunlight. He chuckled softly and leaned his head back against the seat.
Don't blame me if you end up with a cold again...baka.
A/N: I really hope you enjoyed this fic and hopefully you'll check out some of my other ones as well. Thank you so much for all your support and suggestions - I had no idea writing fan fics would be so amazing and enjoyable.
Please do continue to review...it's great hearing from everyone, regardless of whether or not they liked this story!