I don't even want to own it. Character death.

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Hatori tossed his glasses onto the papers littering his large desk and rubbed the bridge of his nose with one hand. Sighing with remorse, he sat back, staring sightlessly out the window. In the past couple of months the family had been through so much pain and anguish. There was no reason to it, other than to placate the head of the Sohma family.

He thought it had been bad when he'd had to erase Kana's memories, but it had been even worse when he was forced to remove Tohru's memories because she and Kyo had fallen in love and wanted to break the curse that the members of the zodiac suffered. It should have been unnecessary for him to do that since she had already known their secret, but Akito had insisted that everything be erased. Her knowledge of their secret, her memories of the time she had lived with Shigure and the others, and most painful of all, her memories of the love that she and Kyo had shared.

It had hurt everyone to see him do that to her, nearly as much as it had hurt him he would guess, but he'd had to do it, or risk her life and his own. And while it was painful for both to remove her memories, he would rather she remember nothing of them, than lose her life just because she fell in love.

Hatori was jolted out of his reverie as the solid wood of the office door crashed open.

"Hatori! You must come! He's done it again!"

"What? Who is it?" The doctor snapped to attention at the mixed emotions present in the messenger's voice. Anxiety, fear, unease, and worry all clouded the speech. It was easy for him to determine that Akito had gone on a rampage again.

"Hatsuharu! Oh God! I think he's killed him!"

"Take me to him." He ordered, hiding his own fears and worries.

XXXXX HATORI'S POV XXXXX

I ran in the door and stopped, frozen in my tracks at the sight that greeted my experienced eyes. Nothing, in all the years I've been the doctor for this family, has prepared me for this. I have seen many horrible things in my profession, but this one is bound to top my list.

Yuki sat hunched in one corner of the large room, the body of his deceased lover held tightly to his chest. There was no doubt in my mind that he could still be alive. There was too much blood.

Crimson splattering the walls, running down and streaking the beige paint a dulled red. Large pools of the dark – death color soaked into the hardwood flooring. Bright red still dripped from Akito's knuckles from when he had punched the bleeding boy, whatever other weapon he had used would stink of the crime committed with it for years afterwards.

Yuki himself was coated in the life force the dear ox had spilled. His hands, his clothes, and when he looked up at my entrance, I could see streaks of it running down his face with the salty water of his tears.

Rushing over to the despairing rat, I loosened his death grip, a bad description if there ever was one, but apt all the same. Dropping onto my knees next to him, I took him into my arms, and he clutched at me as if I were his life preserver in his ocean of sadness. His sobs increased as his face was pressed hard into my shirtfront, tears dampening it with salt and more of the blood that no one could escape. I found myself making those odd shushing sounds as I held him. Why people do that to ones in distress is far beyond my reasoning, but it seems to always have a calming affect.

And once again the noises proved their helpfulness, and Yuki-kun was reduced to whimpers and moans in a few moments. It was then that I heard something that chilled me to the very marrow of my bones.

Laughter. Pure, unbridled laughter. The insanity behind it was barely covered, and clearly evident in word and action.

Akito's deep, full laughter assaulted my ears worse than any explosive could have. He actually found some sort of perverse pleasure in what he'd done. I stared up at him, shocked that he could do this and then feel no remorse for killing another member of his family; that he found it amusing.

I released Yuki and slowly go to my feet. I drew as close to the manical man as I dared. "Akito-sama, was this necessary? Did you have to take his life?" I asked, wondering if he would have some sort of an answer.

He stops laughing abruptly and looks at me. I wince at what I see in his eyes. Nothing. Absolutely empty wells of darkness, anger, hatred, loathing, all directed towards Haru, who shall now be just a memory, and disgust at me that I should care so damn much about what happens to the ones I love.

"Of course it was necessary, Hatori. They broke the rules. Disobeyed strict orders. I had to punish them. Especially that insolent ox. How dare he think he could love my precious Yuki! How dare he think that he could make him happy! They didn't deserve to be happy!"

"Yes they did! How can you do this and feel no remorse?" I was incredulous. Why did this have to happen!

"Easily!" He shouted, then dived to attack Yuki. I moved myself into his path, blocking Yuki from more harm that what he'd already been dealt.

"No!" I shouted, bracing myself, as Yuki cringed further into the shadows of the room. "Don't touch him!"

Three large guards stormed in at that moment, prying him from my clutches. They dragged him screaming and fighting back to his rooms, where they would restrain and possibly even sedate him. I would have to go to him later, but that was not my concern at the present moment.

Going back over to where the rat was huddled, I helped him to stand and leave the room. He paused at the door, and looked back at his lover's body laid out o n the floor. Tears filled his eyes again, and he quickly turned away, walking out into the hall. A few members of the family stood around, wanting to know what happened. I quickly explained to a couple people, and gave directions for the removal of his body.

Seeing that my orders were becoming actions, I guided Yuki away to my office. Sitting him down, I waited until he was calmed and had collected his thoughts before asking how everything had happened.

They had come to terms with the fact that they would have to tell Akito that they were in love. To the other members of the family who had been closer to the two, it had been quite apparent and we enjoyed watching the young love blossom. Of course everyone - including myself - knew it would be short-lived, but that disturbing thought had been pushed to the back of everyone's minds.

They knew that there would be some sort of a punishment, but thought that they could survive anything that Akito threw at them (literally), and that they would just keep their relationship a deeper secret afterwards. As Akito is known to do when he is told of the love his cursed family members have for each other, he became enraged. He blamed it entirely on Haru, saying that he had tainted his precious Yuki with his foul love. They argued verbally for a long time, Yuki defending Haru; Haru telling him that Yuki deserved to be loved by someone, someone better than Akito.

That had been the last straw. The man went into a wild rage; a fit of anger unlike any he'd had before. Snatching up a paperweight, he brought it crashing down onto the ox's skull. Haru fell to the floor, trying still to protect himself and Yuki as Akito grabbed up a penknife from the desk, brandishing the weapon wildly before slicing into Haru's arm, as it was crossed over his chest. Hiding his pain in rough grunts, showing his strength as best he could, he dragged himself upwards, standing defiantly before the 'leader' of the family.

"I won't let you hurt him. You can do whatever you want to me, but I'll never let you hurt my love." Were his bold words before Akito struck him again, harder and with more force than previously. Falling again to the wood, the pain searing his head must have been blinding. He didn't have time to bring up a protective arm again, as this time Akito hit his mark, thrusting the small knife between his ribs.

Yuki himself had cried out, and attempted to stop further attacks by putting himself between the two men. Far beyond ever caring, Akito flung the small teen away, knocking him into a wall, leaving him seeing stars for a moment or two. When his vision cleared, the man had knocked Haru into unconsciousness, and now randomly attacked him, using the knife and his fists. Once more trying to save his lover, Yuki threw himself on top of the other teen, only to have the blade go through his shirt sleeve and into the heart still beating below it.

Withdrawing the knife, the dark man stepped back, the weapon now falling from his loosened grasp to clatter to the floor and spin to a stop a few feet away.

Horrified, Yuki turned to look at his beloved, blood freely flowing in streaming rivers around the lifeless body. Pressing his hand over the bleeding heart, he uselessly tried to staunch the flow. 'No. No. Not Haru.' Was all he could think. 'This should be me!' He hugged the other teen to his chest, sobs now shaking his lithe frame.

Which brings us to where I came running in, and led him away. My heart sank further and further as I listened to him explain everything. I did the only thing I could do for him at that moment. Gave him a couple sleeping pills and set him up on a futon in my office, so I could watch him and keep him safe.

Then I made a plan.

XXXXX

Walking silently down the dark hallway, I made my way to Akito's rooms, under the guise that I was checking on him after his earlier 'activities'.

Entering the room like a shadow, blending in with the others already enshrouding it, I crept up to the bed. He was sleeping there, knocked out from whatever they had given him to stop the ranting and raving.

I slipped a hand into the pocket of my white doctors' coat that glowed eerily in the moonlight pouring through the un-shaded window. Removing it, I brought out the syringe I had brought along with me. Holding it up into the light shining through the window, I drew the serum into the tube and replaced the small bottle in my pocket. Flicking it experimentally to remove the air bubbles, I then pushed up his sleeve and slowly pushed the sharp needle into his wrist. It was nearly undetectable, and no one would even bother checking that thoroughly. If any member of the family cared enough to request that he have an autopsy, I would be the one to do it, and would simply proclaim it a heart attack. One as evil as he, it would be easy to believe that. Not that he has a heart. Or by now - had.

Satisfied with a job immensely well done, I left as silently as I had come. Going back to my office, I stood over Yuki-kun, watching as his chest rose and fell; the tears stopped only because of the freedom brought on by the drugs.

Turning away, I lay down on the couch in the opposite corner, waiting until they came to get me – to tell me what I already knew.

XXXXX

The sun shone warmly on my face, the signal of a new day. A new beginning. Hope for the world that life would continue and proof that problems do look better after a good night's sleep.

It was the same person from yesterday that came to shake me awake, loudly proclaiming:

"Hatori-san! Hatori-san! Hurry! Aktio is dead!"

I was up in seconds, and Yuki was sitting up in bed, the effects of the sleeping pills worn off as he came into full realization of the man's words.

"Akito's dead?" He asked, pain still lingering in his eyes, but now I could see a new emotion, hope.

"Yes! I saw his body myself when they discovered it. Looks like it could've been a heart attack, or just dropped dead from being so goddamn evil!" The messenger from the day before proclaimed.

"Hatori?" Yuki turned to me, looking for verification of the man's words.

"I'll go. I need to pronounce it anyway. Everything will be fine." I reassured him.

He just nodded, and I left, the messenger following behind.

XXXXX

I did as I was expected to, checking for vitals, proclaiming him deceased, searching the body for any sort of outside markings, pleased to see that the needle mark I had made wasn't visible; and determined that he had most likely died of a heart attack. Everyone accepted this explanation, they were to glad he was gone to question means or methods.

I left them buzzing about how wonderful life would be without him, and wondering who the next head of the Sohma family would be. I had other matters to attend to at the moment.

Yuki glanced up as I came in. I knew without looking what he wanted to know, and told him that it was true. Akito was dead. We were free.

He broke into sobs again, relief, happiness, grief and sadness all staining the emotion of his tears. I went over to comfort him, offer reassurance that this all wasn't a dream, and that he would be able to be happy now.

"No. I can't be happy. Not without Haru." He told me.

"I think he would want you to be happy for him. Even without him, you know he would always want you to be happy."

He thought about that for a minute or two, while I got him a couple more sleeping pills. He took them gratefully, and settled back down to escape from the harsh reality for a few more hours.

XXXXX

There were many things to do, and I was busy for much of the day. I phoned Shigure and Ayame, telling them what had happened the day before. They guessed that I had something to do with it, but I denied it and they had no proof. Still, I'm sure they know what really happened, but they will keep everything silent.

All the members of the Sohma family gathered in the afternoon. A funeral pyre had been erected and Akito's body was placed on top of it, as the priest lit the bottom of the structure, flames quickly engulfing it. Many of us thought it was just like seeing him burn in hell.

The buddist priest performed the funeral rites, and once the ceremony was over, we all departed. There were celebrations to be performed.

XXXXX

The Juunishi had their own special celebration, almost like New Year's. Everyone came wearing the costume of their year, and partied like it was New Year's. Except this time they had more to be happy about.

Yuki was awake for the party, dressed not in his ceremonial robes, but a black kimono, showing that he was in mourning for different reasons.

Late in the celebration, about midnight, they called a halt to the festivities. It was time to announce the new head of the family.

"It has been decided that the new head of the Sohma family shall be Sohma Hatori-san."

I stood from my spot and walked to the centre of the room where they stood. Bowing formally to me, they presented me with the Sohma dagger, the symbol that was always kept safe by the head of the family.

Accepting it, I unsheathed it. It was truly a beautiful knife, the Sohma seal pressed into the hilt, the blade smooth and shining in the brilliant light of the room.

My family broke into cheers, and shouts of joy, recognizing that it was really true. That they had new hope.

And that hope was me.

XXXXX OWARI XXXXX