Author's notes: Chapter 1 is just a short prologue, to give the reader background for the story which continues in more detail in Chapter 2.
There are no original characters in this story - Akito's elderly maid was a familiar character in the manga; and I chose to give her the name of Tanaka Miyoko, which is a fairly generic Japanese name, as it was easier for me to write about her if she had a name.
Comments, constructive criticism, and praise, however faint, are all greatly desired and will be appreciated.
Fruits Basket belongs to Takaya Natsuki and Hakusensha; English-language versions by FUNimation (anime) and Tokyopop (manga). This piece of fiction is in no way approved or endorsed by any of the copyright holders.
Prologue – The night before
Their quarrel was both unexpected and vicious.
Akito had been asked to peruse the list detailing housing arrangements for the wedding, which was still several months away. Pacing the room, she remarked, with some surprise, that someone had seen fit to house Kureno and Arisa in Kureno's old rooms.
Shigure, who was sitting close by reading his book, said quite mildly, with only a slight edge to his voice, "How convenient."
It could have easily been taken as a joke if either one of them had been in the mood to defuse the tension. However, Akito was tired and her nerves were already on edge from the seemingly unending wedding preparations, and she recognized that tone only too well. She became prickly and defensive. In turn, Shigure became nastily, bitingly, sarcastic. The argument escalated quickly.
The thing that drove Akito over the edge – the thing that triggered the blind rage, the desire to hurt, which she had not felt in many months, and which she had been trying so hard to keep in check – was when Shigure said, "Well now, Akito-san, if you're planning on sleeping with Kureno before or after the wedding, do you think it would be possible to reserve the wedding night for me?"
Akito lunged for his face, claws out. He was ready for her this time, and he dropped his book and grabbed her wrists before she made contact. He didn't really hurt her, of course, but she struggled, and he said, "Stop it, Akito!" in a tone that made her feel like a naughty child as he tightened his grip on her. When he finally let her go, she collapsed in a heap on the floor, sobbing in humiliation. He walked across the room, and then turned in the doorway and said in the mocking tone that he often used, "How unfortunate that Kureno isn't here to clean up the mess on the floor," and left. He did not return that night.
Hearing her sobs, her maids rushed to her rooms to see what was wrong. Akito, who was in full temper by now, screamed at them to stay away from her, threw the book that Shigure had dropped, and refused to let anyone in the room, even old Miyoko.
In the end, Miyoko went to Hatori, and begged him to come, saying that Akito-san was "upset" and that she needed him. And of course, Hatori came. He picked Akito up off the floor, and hugged her; and sat her down on her futon and wiped away her tears. He sat down next to her and told that he was going to give her something to calm her, and demanded, quite sternly, that she take it. He rubbed her back until she calmed a bit and then asked her what had happened, and when she told him, he sighed.
He looked at her very seriously and said, "Shigure may be, at times, difficult to deal with, Akito, but if you intend to make a life with him, you'll have to learn how. You'll never find anyone who will love you more steadfastly and with more passion than he will; that's for certain. We've all indulged you far too much for far too long; you need to grow up and stop acting like a spoiled child." Akito looked at him in surprise. Hatori hadn't scolded her since she was a child, and at the unexpected harshness of his words, she felt tears well up in her eyes again. This must have given him pause, as he continued, in a much kinder tone, "Perhaps I should have said that both of you need to grow up. I know that you have good reason to be upset by what Shigure said to you, but there's no need to make yourself sick over it, Akito. Throwing things and screaming at people isn't going to solve anything. You haven't indulged in that kind of behavior for a long time, and you don't need to now. I'm sure that you realize that, now that you've calmed down."
Then Akito cried again, and hugged Hatori; and he said that what he had given her would help her to sleep. He gently told her that she was to lie down and he would stay with her until she fell asleep, and then he would leave. She never woke until the next morning, and while she was picking at her breakfast, she heard one of the maids tell Miyoko that Shigure was back and having breakfast with Hatori.