Disclaimer: I don't own Fruits Basket.


"And the right side of my head hurts and my stomach is killing me."

Her physician looked up once his patient stopped cataloguing her ailments.

"Oh, and I'm on my period." She grimaced, then expelled a hacking cough from her weak lungs. Her laugh carried the full weight of her illness: the cruel sound was periodically interrupted with tiny coughs and gulps of air. "It sure sucks to be a woman."

Hatori didn't offer a response. There was no need. Akito often listed her multitude of afflictions with no expectation of any remarks. Her eyes stung when she tried to focus on anything, her head whirled and twirled with dizzying fevers and agonizing headaches, her bones ached constantly. This didn't irk her doctor. She had every right to complain. Akito was sick, very sick, to the point of being on the edge of deathly ill. Witnessing huge beads of sweat string themselves into pearl necklaces on her pale brow, Hatori felt a deep sense of sadness for the head of the Sohma family.

"Hatori."

She had a cruel, sharp voice with the richness of a bell locked in a church steeple. But unlike the sweet, heavy melody, Akito's voice didn't impart a holy sentimentality. Rather, when one heard it, one felt as if they were being condemned and sent to hell.

Hatori reflected on his medical notes. Akito had been getting a little worse each day. Her appetite had been steadily decreasing for a week and her heartbeat was irregular. He gave Akito a cursory examination. She was pale, even paler than usual. This lack of pigment left her grape-colored eyes and hair with a demonic pitch-blackness. However, much could be said about her beauty. She had a slim, graceful figure, one that was partly attributed to her ill-ravaged body. The curve of her long neck, her flowing limbs, her cream-colored skin... Hatori could not deny that despite her illness, she was beautiful. But her appearance was warped. The actions she had committed in days of old and the things she was doing now, the words she yelled and continued to hiss had corrupted her so that she could never be completely attractive.

Akito bent the long arm that rested on her raised knee. Locking her eyes on his face, she brushed her bird wing hand to her ashen cheek. With a humorless smirk, she said, "You aren't listening to me, are you."

"I am," he assured her. He picked up a bottle of painkillers and poured two capsules into his hand. He had to give her the medication personally or he'd be potentially putting her health in jeopardy. More than once, Akito had attempted to swallow whole bottles of pills. Akito was an ocean of suffering and thought that all of the pills would ease her pain, but only Hatori knew how wrong she was. The night when he had to have her stomach pumped was enough of a testimonial.

"If I take the magic pills, will I get better?" she challenged with a derisiveness that didn't reach her eyes. On the contrary, he believed he witnessed a trace of sadness in her soulless orbs.

"Take these with water," he instructed even though she knew the procedure. He presented Akito with the white pills while pouring water from the pitcher into a cup. He offered her the cup of water. "It'll ease the pain."

"Bullshit." With an enraged, irritated flick of her bony wrist, Akito slapped his hands away. The cup of water rocked out of his hand and spilled on the hardwood floor. The pills landed softly on top of the puddle. "Gimme!" she roared, seizing the bottle of pills. Her hands fluttered furiously over the cap.

"Don't--"

"Don't what? Overdose? Knock myself out again?" She hurled the bottle of pills at Hatori's cheek. She had wrestled the cap from the lip-lock it was engaged in with the bottle's mouth. Pills scrambled on the floor around the water-logged twins. Akito threw her head back and laughed wildly. "How ironic! When my life's in peril is when I feel the most at ease. Being unconscious wasn't so bad, you know. Maybe I should do it again."

His heart throbbed nervously. If she really did go through with her plan... What if this time he wouldn't be able to stop her? He couldn't let any harm come to the head of the Sohma family. He had to protect her at all costs, even at the risk of her displeasure.

"You can't mean that," Hatori said.

Akito cocked a thin eyebrow. "You think I'm a coward? I'd do it again in a heartbeat. If being drugged up felt that good, imagine the bliss I'll feel at dying." She laughed dryly. "Dying doesn't scare me. Everyone would be happier if I were dead. Especially you. You pray for me to die every night."

"No."

"You want me to die so that you can do whatever you want. All of you ingrates do."

"That's not true."

A flash of surprise lightened her demonic eyes. The frantic look in Hatori's eyes, the bead of sweat falling down his temple next to his ear... Hatori, the man with the calmness of a brook, was now a tide of emotion. This was a rare sight indeed. But the sick woman covered her shock quickly and efficiently.

"I'm not some fucking drug addict," Akito summarized stubbornly.

"I know," he said quietly, eyes downcast. The pills were beginning to dissolve in the water on the floor instead of in her blood system. Akito's medication never truly starved her body of the poisonous pain, but maybe those discarded pills would've worked this time. Maybe... Akito was flowing with maybes. Maybe she's afflicted with this disease, maybe this medication will ease her pain, maybe this is the cure she's been yearning for. But maybe wasn't enough. It never was enough. Maybe was an indefinite answer, teetering on the border between yes and no, and lately, that maybe had been leaning toward a negative response.

Akito turned away from him in disgust. The display of emotion was too much for her. "You don't know what it's like, Hatori. Really, you don't."

"I know. I know I can never understand how it's like to be you. It's just... when you say you want to die and talk about overdosing, it worries me."

She faced him, letting a thin hand float to her ring-shaped mouth, distaste flouncing in the gesture. "So now I must refrain from saying unpleasant things lest I damage fragile little Hatori's heart?"

"I'm just scared for you."

Instead of a mocking, harsh word, Hatori's injured cheek received her cold, clammy hand. "I don't need your pity, silly boy," she said softly. Her fingers went up into his bangs. She touched arctic fingertips to his wounded eye. He flinched.

"Don't like it when I touch you?" Akito cooed. Her fingers pressed it harder. His eye began to sing an aching ballad. "I'm being nice, aren't I?"

"Yes." He knelt beside his master, the picture of blind obedience.

Akito smiled. Her midnight eyes shrank into thin crescents. "You pity me, but you shouldn't feel sorry for me. Instead, you should pity... why, yourself for example. You lost someone very important to you. Oh, but Hatori, it was all for you. For all of us. You merely went astray and I brought you back. I saved you from horrid dreams so that you could come back to our lovely reality. I brought you back to me and your family. My family. Family should come before even yourself, especially me. After all, I am carrying the brunt of this curse for all of you and all I ask for in return is for my family to respect me. Is that wrong?"

"No."

"Hatori, you must hate me. Do you hate me?"

"No."

Her fingernails feasted on the stretch of skin just under his eye. A trickle of blood fell down his face.

"We have each other and that's all we need. No one else. No one else." Her eyes sizzled into his. "Hatori. Oh, Hatori." A smile of elation lit up her face, a smile so wide, her eyes vanished even more. She looked like she was in the euphoric world of morphine. "Hatori, aren't we all so fortunate?"

He closed his eyes. One burned more than the other. When he regained his sight, he witnessed a single drop of blood fall. It stood out in the clear liquid, then assimilated into the water. The drop of blood's vibrant color was lost forever, just as the pills were now running through the water's veins. It was remarkable. The blood was acting as the tears he couldn't cry. He stared at the floor in fascination.

Blackness again.

"Yes."