There's a real dearth of post-canon AkiGure fanfiction; I felt compelled to fill in the gap. This takes place about eighteen months after the end of the series. As far as rating goes, this is probably the mildest M-rating you'll ever see since it's mainly due to precaution; some younger readers might be offended and/or scarred. This story contains references that some people may find disturbing, so if you don't want to read it on those premises…well, you probably shouldn't have gone into an M rated fic, then.
I don't own Furuba, however much I want to.
The Akito I Know
Akito had never been more scared in her life. Not even the day when she was five and witnessed her father's death. Not even the day when she was thirteen and woke up with blood all over her sheets and a horrible cramp in her stomach. Not even the day when she was nineteen and freed the Zodiac from all obligations to her.
She supposed that being afraid wasn't something solely connected to the spirit that once possessed her, though the fears before the curse was broken were mainly felt by that part of her. This was the first time she felt real fear all on her own, and that in itself was frightening. She had felt what she supposed was real trepidation, nervousness, on her wedding day six months ago, but nerves and fear are distinct feelings, as she just learned.
She could hear and identify the voice as the one person—well, the one of approximately fifty people—that she most definitely did not want to talk to at this moment. She couldn't see him from where she sat kneeling on the grass behind her favorite red camellia bush (it was her favorite probably because it was the farthest from her mother's old rooms), and she hoped rather than thought it likely that this particular person wouldn't try to find her.
Drawing from her very vague memories of playing hide-and-go-seek with her five older cousins while she was young, she supposed that, if she did not wish to be found, she shouldn't be hiding in such a familiar spot. However, there was a certain level of comfort that she needed from hiding behind that bush as she had so many times when she was a little girl.
He was a lot closer now; close enough for her to hear him as he walked. She debated moving once again, but rejected the idea on the same grounds. Plus, if she were to move now, he would spot her instantly. The bright red flowers on her yukata would only blend in with the bright red of the camellias. Her only hope of not being discovered was if he changed course. She hugged her knees to her chest and prayed for the best.
"There you are!" Akito cringed once she heard his voice from behind her, clear as a bell.
"Go away, Shigure," she said, her voice muffled by the fabric of her yukata. "I want to be alone right now."
"No you don't want to be left alone," he said as he sat down in front of her.
"I do want to be left alone. Now please leave me," she insisted.
"You don't want to be left alone," he repeated. "I can tell."
"What makes you think that?" she said sulkily, looking up just enough so she could see his expression.
"With you, there's being left alone and being really left alone. When you say you want someone to go away, you usually want them to stay. When you tell someone to come back later, you actually want them to leave. In addition, if you really didn't want to see me in the first place, you would have found a hiding spot with which I wasn't extremely familiar."
Damn. He knew her too well.
"So why are you sitting down on the ground behind the camellia bush? It usually means you're scared of something. Want to share?"
Damn him. He knew absolutely everything. Well, almost everything.
"Why'd you come out to find me?" she asked back, hoping at least for a short time to gather her thoughts, at most for the subject to die.
"I had just finished talking to Ayame about his plans for his shop expansion and had gone to find you to pass on the news. I came by your office and you weren't there, so I asked one of the maids where you were. She said you had run out of the office after your daily meeting with the head of the staff and your personal maid as if the hounds of hell were chasing you. I was worried, so I came to find you to ask you what the matter was."
"Didn't you ask the head of staff first?" Akito asked, her nerves beginning to feel raw.
"She said she was not at liberty to tell me, and I assumed your maid would tell me the exact same thing, only she'd whack me across the knuckles for asking such a question. Rather than brave pain and not get an answer, I decided to take the easy way out and ask you directly. So now I'm asking—what spooked you so much you felt like you had to run and hide?"
Akito buried her face in her knees again. She did not want to talk to him. She did not want to talk at all. But Shigure was in one of his stubborn moods. She was willing to bet almost anything that, if she were to stand up at this moment, Shigure would pull her right back down and make her explain.
"Shigure," she said carefully, "do you love me enough to forgive me for almost anything?"
He took in a breath sharply. This was a very difficult question for him to answer. She had done some things in the past that were absolutely unforgivable, and he had repaid her transgressions in kind. Those were forgotten, to a certain extent, but not forgiven. "I believe I could," he finally answered, "except for one thing. And you know precisely what that is."
"I swear to you I have been faithful to you from the day I released the Jyuunishi," she said anxiously, uncurling herself as quickly as she could. "I swear on my father's memory that I am not guilty of infidelity."
"And I believe you," he replied seriously. That, she knew, was his greatest fear: that she desert him. She knew that he still hated Kureno for what happened so many years ago and that he probably would never stop hating his cousin for it.
"Will you then promise to forgive me?" she asked, the anxiety and raw desperation that she so desperately tried to hide creeping into her voice.
"I swear. Now tell me what bothers you. If it helps, start at the beginning of the day and say everything that happened between then and now."
Akito took a deep breath, trying to control the shaking that threatened to take her over. "I started this morning with some rice and juice, because I thought that I'd be able to keep it down regardless of what stomach bug I have. Then I went to my office to review the reports on the condition of the leased property and to read Tohru's latest letter. Then it was time for my meeting."
She could no longer hold back the tremors of fear, shaking like an autumn leaf in the wind. Shigure put his arm around her slender shoulders. "Continue. You usually talk about the pantry, correct?"
"We talked about the pantry and the condition of some of the paintings in the Main House. Some of them may need to be refurbished or moved into darker lighting. There's also the matter of the hole in the outer wall, which the head of staff insists must be closed up. I still believe that a gate should be placed in front of it so it can be closed off at night, but that it needs to be kept open during the day. Too many people use that entrance for it to be closed off. Oh, and the roof in part of the servant's quarters is leaking, and I gave permission to start the repairs. And then…we discussed my health."
She felt him stiffen at that. Her health was not ideal; she was not gifted with a strong immune system, and he was well aware of it. "Go on."
"My stomach virus was going on for quite some time. Hatori, of course, hasn't been around to check on it because of his honeymoon, but he suggested some things to my maid."
"What kind of things? General cures?" he asked.
"No. Explanations for why it is going on so long." Akito sighed; this was the hard part. "My maid talked to the head of staff about some of the suggestions, and these they discussed with me. It's probably not ulcers because that's the only problem I seem to never have had. It's not due to a weakened immune system because I would be sick with something worse than a stomach bug."
"What about food poisoning?"
"Unlikely. My symptoms…matched something else." She could feel her face turn as red as the camellias she sat next to.
"My maid pointed out some other…irregularities. My fluctuating temperature, for example. The fact I'm only sick in the morning. The fact I've missed my last two monthly courses," she added in a whisper.
"Akito…" He has to know by now! Akito thought. The man writes romance novels, for goodness's sake!
"Shigure, there's still a chance it might be a false alarm, but if I do end up being pregnant, please forgive me for it!" She clutched at his sleeve desperately. "I honestly am sorry—"
"Akito." He cut her off, placing two fingers over her mouth. "I'm not angry at you. Far from it."
She moved her head away from his hand so she could speak. "Then forgive me!" She was failing miserably at holding back the tears that wanted to pour from her eyes.
"Akito, why do you think you need forgiveness?" He sounds truly puzzled, Akito thought incredulously. How can he understand and not realize what this means?
She took a shaky breath. "You don't like children at all; I remember. You used to avoid all of our younger cousins until they turned five. If you don't like children, there's no way you'd want one of your own. Shigure," she continued uneasily, "if it turns out I am pregnant and you really don't want a child, something can be done so—"
"Don't you dare." He grabbed her forearms roughly, the force silencing her instantly. "Don't you even think about it, you hear? Can't you understand I'm not furious with you about the possibility of a child, that I'm glad for this, that I want this?"
"Wh-what?" Akito finally stammered. He's insane, he has to be insane…
"I am not angry. I am not disappointed. And, contrary to popular belief, I do not hate children. Maybe it looked like I did when I was nineteen and Hiro was four, but all nineteen-year-old males are scared of children to some extent. However, I never hated children, and I most definitely won't hate a child of ours."
"You don't know what you're saying," Akito shook her head furiously. "There's a very high probability I'm going to have a child. A child!" Akito broke down into sobs. "I can't believe I let this happen."
"Akito, you didn't let this happen; it just happened. It's the natural result of what we've been doing for the past six months. And I do know what I'm saying about children. Will you believe me if I swear it? Write it in blood? I will if you ask it of me, though I'm hoping you have enough faith in me to believe me without that. Can you at least pretend you believe me for a moment?"
Akito had learned that it was very, very hard to resist Shigure when he seriously asked something of one, especially when one wasn't currently possessed by the spirit of a mythical Emperor. She sighed and closed her eyes. Suppose he actually did want a child like her father apparently had wanted her. That child would be loved and protected ferociously as she had been—possibly even more so by the remaining Dog instincts. Shigure would be a good father regardless of what type of mother she would be, though she swore she would be better than her own mother had been; she would be hard pressed to be worse. The thought passed through her mind briefly that Shigure might withdraw his affection from her once the child was born and lavish all of his attention on it, but she immediately dismissed the notion. Of all the things her mother told her, she could not believe that a man could not love both his child and its mother; the love was just of two different kinds.
"You see?" His question interrupted her thoughts. "I love you and have always loved you, and a child isn't going to make that love go away. He or she will grow up happy and healthy and loved by both parents; you'll see."
"Healthy if it gets your immune system," Akito muttered. Somehow it was harder to keep ahold of her panic and fear than to let it go.
"Well, as long as he or she has your hair. Black is so much more pleasant a color than dark grey." He stroked her head as if to prove his point. "People think I'm nearly fifty when they see my hair."
"Stop fishing for compliments," she said, swatting his hand away. "If you're that sensitive about the color, you should dye it. I'm not stopping you."
Shigure laughed heartily, the sound ringing through the garden.
"That's the Akito I know."