Chapter 1

"Miss Honda? Miss Honda?"

Tohru Honda jumped slightly at the calling of her name. Looking up from her book, she saw Yuki Sohma looking directly at her from in front of her desk. Smiling, he held up a pack of cards. "Miss Honda, would you like to play Rich Man, Poor Man with us? Kyo, Miss Hanajima, and Ms. Uotani are playing as well."

She smiled at him sweetly, but shook her head. "I would really like to, but I've got to finish this for Literature class."

He took a glance at her book, his violet-colored eyes showed slight surprise. "You didn't finish it?"

She dropped her head, her cheeks flushing red. "Well, because of my heavy load of work, I've been getting kind of behind, but I'll catch up in no time! You'll see!"

He leaned his head in that charming, questioning way; trying to understand her. "I can stay with you, if you need some help studying."

She quickly shook her head, "Oh no! I couldn't! You go play cards, I'll be fine, really!"

Slowly, he walked away, "Well, if you need any help, anything at all, just ask."

She nodded, hoping that he wasn't worried about her. Yuki was always looking out for her. It was that princely charm in him.

Sighing, she went back into her book. Ok, I've got to get back into my studies. I can't fail any tests. I HAVE to graduate. I have to keep my promise. And I can disappoint Yuki and the others, not after all they've done for me! I'm going to do this.

It was after school, and she had the day offfrom work. She had to make this chance count! Tuning out all sound around her, she delved back into the world of her book, the world of the past! Nothing else around her mattered! Not Kyo and Uo's arguing. Not the sound of the Prince Yuki Fan Club chattering at the door as they spied. Not Hana as she sent out her electric, psychic signals. Nothing mattered! Nose to the grindstone! It was just this book and –


Shocked back into reality, she looked up at the intercom.


Sighing, she put down her book. Maybe she could get some studying in tonight.

Getting up, she made her way to the door. Turning, she was about to ask the others to pardon her absence, but could plainly see they were fine without her. Kyo and Uo-chan were at it again over some petty rule. Yuki and Hana-chan seemed to be enjoying the game, as well as seeing the two rivals argue.

Smiling, she was glad they were getting along so well. When she had first met them, Kyo and Yuki couldn't even sit in the same room with each other without fighting. Now, they were playing cards together. They might still be adversaries, but at least they weren't so bloodthirsty anymore.

Making her way down the empty halls, from the window, she noticed the dark clouds gathering outside. It looks like a storm's coming. I hope it doesn't rain before we get home, Kyo gets really weak when it rains.

As it fate would have it, Touru was right, a storm was coming—in more ways than one…

"Ms. Yosho?"

The kindly, middle-aged school secretary looked up. "Oh, Miss Honda, it's you. There is a strange, young man waiting for you in the conference room. He says he's a family friend and that he would like to speak to you about something, he wouldn't say what."

Tohru looked at her confused; she hadn't known about any family friends. Had she been so ungracious to forget about one that they had come down to check on her? "Um, what's his name?"

Ms. Yosho looked at the sign-in sheet, "His name? Let me see…yes, it's a Mr. Kuno, Sanyoshi Kuno."

As hard as she could, Tohru tried to remember that name. But as hard as she tried, all she could get was a headache.

The secretary pointed to the Conference Room, "Just go on in, honey. He's waiting for you."

Tohru shrugged her shoulders, well if she didn't remember his name, it would be okay, wouldn't it?

Opening the door carefully, she was surprised to see that the room was in pitch-black darkness.

Turning to Ms. Yosho, her face one big question mark. The woman just smiled back, "He's in there, honey. He requested the room dark. When I asked why, he didn't answer, so I just kept out of it. Just go on, it's fine."

Not so assured, Tohru had a strange feeling, like if she stepped over that threshold, something would happen. Something bad…

Taking a deep breath and putting a smile on her face, she walked in and closed the door behind her. Plunged in total darkness, she felt her self-assurance began to wane. "Um, Kuno-San? Kuno Sanyoshi-San? Are you there? It's me, Tohru Honda."

At first, there was only silence in response, but life with the Sohmas, had taught her to be aware of her surroundings. She could feel a presence around her, even in this darkness. Someone was here…

In the corner of her eye, she could barely see a flicker of movement to her left. "Ms. Honda? Is that really you?"

Turning to where the voice and the movement had come from, she gasped at what she saw.

In the darkness, blazed two golden viper-like eyes, set as if they were suspended in the air by supernatural means!

A ghost! She backed up, struggling to find the door. What did it want with her?

Suddenly, the eyes arose and took a step near her. (How do eyes take a step?) An anguished voice reached out to her from the disembodied eyes. "Please, don't go! I don't mean to frighten you, I'm sorry. Please—please stay. I am no one for you to be afraid of. You may turn the light on if you wish…just, please stay."

Something about the suffering in his voice caused her to stop in her tracks. He wasn't just asking her to stay, he was pleading with her.

Feeling around the door, she flipped the light switch. The rush of luminosity temporarily blinding her, she stood awhile before turning around to face—whatever. However what she saw was nothing like what she surmised.

Standing before her, stood a young man in his early twenties, about the same age as Shigure-san. Looking over him, all she could think of was: No wonder I couldn't see the rest of him in the dark! He was dressed in almost all black. Heavy, black, biker boots, black leather gloves, black leather pants, black collared shirt, and a black onyx cross hung from a black chocker on his neck. On top of all that, he wore a long black trench coat, which—when she thought about it—was almost identical to the one Mom had given Uo-chan. The only differences were that the gold characters were replaced by silver ones with the characters for T. S., and that instead of a red butterfly outline on the back, there was a white outline of a hawk.

Maybe he's one of Mom's friends from her gang days, yet, I thought Mom's gang was all girls. Looking at the rest of him, she saw that he was almost deathly pale. He reminded her of a vampire, except she didn't think he was one. His hair was silvery white, like Ayame-san, but much longer than even his. It almost glowed when it was in the shadows, and reached down to his upper thighs. His eyes, in the light, were not as elliptical (viper-like) than they were before, but they were still yellow. (Again, not like Ayame's, but more of an amber-ish, gold yellow) He quickly hid them behind a pair of reflective, chic sunglasses. On his forehead, underneath his bangs, a cerulean four-pointed star was tattooed, small and inconspicuous, but enough to see.

She could tell his fingers were long and tapered underneath those gloves, strong and steady, ready for anything. But for some reason right now, they trembled violently! "Is something wrong?" she asked, suddenly very worried about the man's wellbeing.

He smiled a charming but roguish smile at her, putting his hands behind his back; he stepped back, away from the light. "Nothing for you to worry about, Ms. Honda. I'm just not comfortable with light, but I'll be alright."

He went to sit down, motioning for her to do the same. "I've wanted to meet you face-to face for quite some time, Tohru."

She blushed ashamedly, "Mr. Kuno, I know you said you're a friend of the family, but…I can't remember you at all! I'm so sorry! I couldn't even remember your name! I-I'm just really, really sorry."

She expected him to be angry or uncomfortable, or at the very least, tell her to not worry about it. But instead of all that—he laughed. "What is it? Oh, I've upset you haven't I? You must think me really stupid."

He stopped laughing gradually, while shaking his head. "No, it's not you, not at all."

Sitting up, she asked relieved, "Oh, that's a relief!"

The strange man gathered himself together, looking around as if he wasn't used to letting himself go like that. Crossing his legs, he suddenly became very serious, in body and voice. "Tohru, the thing is, I am NOT a family friend. My name is NOT Sanyoshi Kuno. But I WOULD like to talk to you."

All she could say was, "Well then, who are you?"

The man steepled his fingers under his chin and nodded. "A very straightforward question, which—for you—I'd be glad to answer. I don't share my real name with strangers. Most know me as White Hawk, Taka no Shiro, or by many other aliases. However, you are no stranger, which gives you access to information only a handful of people know. My real name is Sessho Karai."

Tohru could only blink, "Thank you, even though I don't really understand—"

She stopped abruptly, realizing what the man had said. "Did you just say your name was Karai? That was my mom's maiden name."

He smiled at her and nodded, "Yes, Tohru, I'm your cousin, the son of your mother's elder brother, and I want to talk to you about your mother."