Chapter Nine

Sacrifices

Tohru woke. She was lying somewhere familiar. It was Hatori's room.

"Good morning, Honda-san," a familiar voice called out.

Tohru turned around, expecting it to be Hatori, but it wasn't.

Standing above her, was Akito.

Tohru's cheerful face immediately transformed to one of fear and anguish. Hatori was lying on the floor.

"Did you expect me to be asleep, Honda-san?" he said and laughed, "Hatori confiscated my whip, but that doesn't mean I can't hurt you…"

He lifted her head by pushing her chin up.

"Wondering what I did to poor Haa-san? Well, as you can see, my lovely assistant, Kureno here drugged Hatori's tea and well…the rest is pretty much self-explanatory, even for a dim-wit like you…"

"Kureno-san, why?"

"I'm sorry, Honda-san. Akito is my master. I must serve him. He freed me of the curse. I am in debt to him."

Akito laughed.

"Kureno, look for my whip. It might be in the other room."

Kureno walked off into the next room.

"You see Honda. The Jyuunishi all obey me! They all have to obey me. I hold the power. They're nothing but tools. Even your 'friend' Kyo betrayed you for me. You sicken me. You think you're some angel sent to help them or something. You think you can make them 'better'? Well, I'm sorry Honda-san, but it's not going to happen as long as I'm alive and well!"

"We can change that," a female voice said.

"Let go of Tohru-chan," another female voice said.

"Let her go!"

"You bastard!"

Tohru turned around. Standing at the door were Hana, Uo, Yuki and Kyo.

"We noticed that Tohru wasn't at school for two days in a row, and neither was the prince," said Hana.

"We thought something may have gone wrong so we called Carrot Top's house this morning. They said that Tohru would be at their house at nine, so we rushed over there," said Uo.

"Then the Yankee and the Psychic noticed that we were trying to sneak away to the main Sohma house because Hatori hadn't arrived with Tohru yet," said Kyo.

"We briefly explained what happened and that brings us to our current situation, " finished Yuki.

"I don't know who you are or who you may think you are, but that's our friend you've got in our hands and-"

"Arisa?"

"Kureno?"

"You-you're his accomplice? I can't believe this…"

"Arisa, I'm sorry. You don't understand. I am bound to him by blood. I can't break it without-"

"Dying?" Akito finished, "Yes, that would be most…tragic. I see this young lady is interested in you, Kureno. But she cannot take what is mine! You see...all the Jyuunishi are bound to me for as long as I live. And as long as they are bound to me, they will do my bidding. I must kill myself in order to break the bond and to end the curse, but I don't think that's going to happen any time soon. And if I die by their hand, the curse will never be lifted."

Then with a flick of his wrist, he pushed Tohru so that her head collided with the wall.

"Come, Kureno. I think it's time we went for a walk…"he said, glancing at a mirror and fixing his hair. He slowly walked towards the door, kicking Hatori as he passed him.

"Kureno! Stand up to him like Yuki and Kyo! You don't have to listen to him." Uo yelled as Kyo and Yuki held her back.

"Leaving so soon, Akito? You're a coward. You know that you're outnumbered so you run away!" Yuki yelled, struggling to retain Uo.

Akito stopped. He turned around.

"I'm a coward? You accuse me of being a coward?" he said as he turned around, eyes bright with malice.

Then he started walking towards Yuki in his usual slow snake-like manner.

"You can't talk," he said, his voice becoming raspy "You're no better. You're greedy, just like me."

SLAM!

Tohru leapt at Akito causing them both to fly out the room and onto the frozen pond in the garden. Akito raised his head, pupils appearing to shrink as he widened his eyes in fury.

"Don't interrupt me, girl! You don't know what you're doing!" he shouted, grip tightening on his whip.

"STOP IT!" she yelled, her face going red and tears flowing freely from her eyes, "You don't have to mistreat them! If you treated them a bit better, they would love you in return!"

Akito scoffed.

"Love? Love is a useless emotion. It has betrayed me numerous times. Betrayal and neglect hide under what you call 'love'."

"There's someone for everyone. Just because you've been unlucky in love a few times, it doesn't mean there isn't someone for you! There's always someone. There has to be…"

CRACK!

"Shut up!"

That was a very foolish thing to do on a pond that had only just frozen. There was a quiet cracking sound that definitely didn't come from whip. The ice beneath their feet was cracking. The pond was actually quite deep. It was a pond where the bigger fish lived (but they had all been taken out to a tank because it was winter). Akito fell, making a tremendously loud splash.

The Jyuunishi members looked surprised. It had finally happened. Akito died…by his own hand. He made the ice break. The curse would end.

What happened next surprised them too, but not in the same way…the ice continued to break. Tohru started running, but then she slipped and fell through.

"Honda-san!" Yuki cried out scrambling towards the edge of the pond, "Grab my hand!"

Tohru fumbled around, struggling to breath in the water. Her head had fallen under. She felt something warm. It must have been Yuki's hand. She grabbed onto it with all her might. Then she felt a tugging on her leg. It was Akito with an expression on his face that she had never seen before. The face was gentle, peaceful and desperate. She had to save him too…he was a human being. But he caused so much trouble for everyone…what would her mother say?

'Tohru, you should learn to protect all living things great and small no matter who or what they are. Learn to cherish them because all living things will die one day. That's why sometimes need to make sacrifices to save what you're protecting.'

She had to sacrifice the Jyuunishi member's freedom in order to save Akito…But that's all she ever wanted. For all her friends to be free…

With her free hand, she grabbed Akito's sleeve.

Yuki pulled her out of the freezing water. Tohru hyperventilated. Kyo brought out a towel and wrapped it around her. Hana and Uo put their warm arms around her. Still holding on to her ankle was Akito, the bottom half of his body still in the water.

"Akito-san" she said, her teeth chattering as she extended her hand out to him.

Akito smiled in an unusual way.

"You've shown me, Honda…" he said, "You've shown me…"

Those were the last words he spoke. He let go of Tohru's ankle and got swallowed by the pond. His face was ageless and gentle, almost like a baby's.

The curse had finally ended.

The nightmare was over.

"Akito…" Tohru whispered.

"Tohru…it's okay…" Yuki said, putting his arms around her.

Everyone stood there, astounded.

"Oh my" said Hana

"Do you know what this means" asked Kyo

"I understand now…the prince has got the hots for Tohru!" Uo shouted.

Everyone 'anime sweatdropped'. They had just remembered that Hana ad Uo didn't know about the Sohma curse.

Tohru put her own arms around Yuki, allowing her head to rest on his shoulder.

"Thank you" Yuki whispered in her ear so that only she could hear.

Tears welled up.

"Thank you so much" he said, leaning back a bit so that they could see each other.

Then Tohru started leaning closer to Yuki. So close that Tohru could see the tears in her eyes and that Yuki could feel her breath. Closer and closer until their lips met.

Warmth filled both of them. They could feel each others heart beat…

"Get a room" Kyo said causing them to break apart.

"Aw…is Kyonichi jealous?" a voice from the door asked.

It was Ayame.

"Aw, that was so cute, Yuki!" Shigure said, popping out from behind Ayame "Did you get any photos?"

"Of course!" Ayame said holding a digital camera.

"I'll be taking that," said Hatsuharu, snatching the camera as he walked past Ayame.

"You've still got me, Kyo," said Kagura, who was followed by the hand holding Hiro and Kisa.

"Whatever" said Rin as she rolled her eyes.

"Aw, don't be mean, Rin…" said Momiji who had just bumped into Ritsu.

"I'M SORRY I WAS IN YOUR WAY!" Ritsu yelled as he pleaded on his knees.

"What did I miss?" asked Hatori, who had just regained consciousness.

He turned towards Yuki and Tohru "Ah, I see when's the wedding?"

Yuki just realised that Tohru was just wearing a nightie. She must've been freezing cold.

"Tohru, how are you feeling?"

Tohru paused for a while, thinking about how to answer.

She took a deep breath of the cold winter air.

"Wonderful"

So that's it! The end of a compelling saga…I like to think of it as one…

Thanks for everyone who supported me!

There will a new fanfic coming your way soon!