A/N: Hey everyone, I just want to share a few quick things before we jump in. To start, I feel I need to make it clear that, yes, I know Akito Sohma's true gender is female. In the Fruits Basket manga she is introduced as a man, but is revealed to actually be a woman much later on in the series. In the 2001 anime adaptation of Fruits Basket, however, Akito is quite obviously a guy. And also incredibly attractive...
...I didn't say that.
Jokes aside, this story is intended to be my rendition of the would-be second season of the original Fruits Basket anime. In other words, it's my take on how things would've played out for Tohru and the rest of the Sohmas if Akito had, in fact, been a man instead of a woman. Given what we know about Tohru and her uncanny ability to touch the heart of nearly every single person she encounters, I don't think it's a stretch for me to say that she likely would've succeeded in winning Akito over as well. Not right away, of course, but eventually. And that's what this story is all about.
Folks, you have no idea how much Fruits Basket means to me. To this day it continues to be one of my absolute favorite stories of all time. The characters are truly something to be treasured, each and every single one of them, and I hope that these feelings are reflected in the way that I portray them here.
And that's all I've got. So without any further ado...here you go. Enjoy!
Pointless Disclaimer: Fruits Basket isn't mine, neither the manga nor the anime. Akito isn't either, unfortunately. So don't sue me. I mean, I don't actually think you could, but...just in case.
Things were eerily at peace in the Sohma household late that afternoon. Kyo was in the living room watching TV, feeling bored but at a loss as to what he could be doing otherwise. His cousin Shigure was sitting behind him in a chair, scribbling away on a pad of lined notepaper. Yuki, Kyo's other cousin, was outside caring for the plants in their garden. Tohru Honda, the Sohma's dear friend and housemate, was upstairs in her bedroom, no doubt working diligently on that night's homework assignment.
It was calm. It was quiet.
Too quiet, Kyo thought as he leaned forward so that he could rest his chin against his fist. His eyes were still fixed dazedly on the television screen in front of him. He was beginning to wonder if hell had frozen over, when suddenly…
The telephone rang, and it appeared that was all that was needed to shatter the fragile illusion of tranquility in their home.
"Kyo," Shigure said in a tone so sickly sweet it was enough to make Kyo grit his teeth. "Would you be a dear and grab the phone for me? I'm a bit preoccupied at the moment."
Kyo stood and clenched his fists, glaring daggers at the dog's lazily reclining figure. "Why do I gotta do it?" he demanded. "Make that damn rat!"
"Kyo." Shigure sighed, though somehow managed to retain a pleasant tone as he said, "You know Yuki went outside. And I, as I already mentioned, am busy."
Kyo growled. "Busy doing what? Writing another one of your nasty romance novels?"
"Oh would someone get that pleeease?" Shigure sang, ignoring Kyo's derogatory comment. "Tohru-!"
"Coming!" Tohru shouted from upstairs. "Don't worry, Shigure, I've got it!" She pounded hurriedly down the steps. Once she'd reached the main floor she walked over to where the house phone was kept on a small table in the foyer.
The cat seethed as he watched Tohru pick up the phone. She needed to stop letting Shigure push her around! She should tell him off for once, show him that he wasn't the boss of her...
Kyo let the thought end there with a shake of his head. Because who was he kidding? Tohru would never talk back to Shigure, despite the fact that both he and Yuki regularly encouraged her to do so.
She's too nice for her own good, he thought. One of these days some sick bastard is gonna see how vulnerable and compliant she is and try to take advantage of her. Or worse.
The idea of such a thing happening was enough to make Kyo shudder. He was always worried about Tohru, and while he often found himself writing these overprotective feelings off as nothing more than concern for his friend's safety, deep down, he knew that there was a greater, much more significant reason for his unwavering desire to keep Tohru out of harm's way. He wasn't about to admit what that reason was, though.
Forget it, he told himself for probably the hundredth time since he'd met Tohru. It's not gonna happen. Not now, not tomorrow…not ever.
He glanced down at the black and white beads that encircled his left wrist. They were a constant reminder of what he was and of what he could never be. Of what he could never have.
All the better for her, he thought, sighing sadly to himself.
Tohru was grinning broadly, happy to have just finished the last of that night's homework. The phone had rang at the perfect moment, a mere seconds after she'd put away her books and supplies. Then again, even if she hadn't been finished, she still would have volunteered to answer the phone for Shigure. Ignoring him would have been inconsiderate, and Tohru Honda was never inconsiderate, least of all to the Sohmas, the people who had been so kind to her and given her so much. The last thing she wanted was to seem ungrateful for all they'd done for her, and besides, she didn't mind helping Shigure out by answering the phone for him every now and then.
"Hello?" she said cheerfully as she lifted the phone to her ear. "Sohma residence. Tohru speaking."
"Ah, Tohru Honda. I was so hoping you would be the one to answer."
Tohru's eyes widened at the sound of the razor sharp voice. She froze, her hands going slack, and she nearly dropped the phone before managing to whisper timidly into the receiver, "A-Akito? Is...is that you?"
There was a soft, cruel chuckle on the other end. "That's right. Now tell me, Miss Tohru Honda: Is that hideous cat there with you?"
Tohru swallowed hard, gripping the phone as tightly as she could. "N-no."
"What about my darling Yuki?"
"And the mongrel?"
"No. Shigure and Kyo are both in the living room."
Tohru took a deep breath, trying to remain calm. If she were being honest, in that moment she wanted nothing more than to shout at Akito, to demand why he was calling and what he wanted. But she couldn't. She wouldn't. To do such a thing would be terribly impolite, and Tohru always did her best to be as cordial as possible, especially when she was speaking to someone who was as important and revered as Akito, the head of the Sohma family.
"Good." Akito sounded quite pleased at that bit of information. "Now I need you to listen very carefully, because I'm only going to say this once."
Tohru was grateful that no one was around to see how wobbly her head looked as she nodded. "Um. Okay."
There was a brief pause. Then Akito continued, his voice much lower than before, almost as though he was trying to avoid being overheard. "I must speak with you, Tohru Honda. At Sohma House. Alone. Do you understand what I'm asking?"
Tohru's heart began to pound as terror seized her. Just last week she'd called on Akito at Sohma House, and to say that their interaction had been unpleasant would've been a massive understatement. At one point during her visit Akito had become so furious with her that he'd reached out and grabbed her by the head. He'd pulled so hard that for a moment Tohru could've sworn he was going to rip her hair straight from its roots. She winced at the painful memory. She wouldn't endure that kind of treatment again. She wouldn't.
"Yes. I understand. What about Hatori, though?" she murmured hopefully. "Will he be there when I visit? I know he usually likes to-"
"No," Akito interrupted, his voice clipped. "I will make certain he is occupied so that we may speak privately."
Now Tohru was starting to feel light-headed. To see Akito was one thing, but to be left alone with him? That was something else entirely. "But...are you sure that he'll be okay with-"
"What's the matter, Miss Tohru Honda? Are you afraid to be alone with me?"
"No," she immediately denied. "I was only thinking-"
"Of the other day, when you were here?" Akito mused, his voice jeering. "Yes, I am sure that that incident was more than enough to frighten you away from me for a time. But it doesn't matter. As head of the Sohma family I am ordering you to come to the Main House tomorrow."
Tohru was shaking her head over and over again. "I…tomorrow?"
"Yes. Tomorrow at 4 o'clock. And make sure you are alone. Have I made myself quite clear?"
Tohru hesitated a moment. What, she wondered, would Yuki and Kyo say if they were here?
They would tell her not to go. Of course they would. They would tell her that Akito was too dangerous to be alone with. Kyo, being as hot-headed as he was, would likely proceed to declare that Akito had no right to be ordering her around in the first place. Tohru smiled at the thought of Kyo jumping so readily to her defense. He certainly wouldn't be wrong in making such a statement. After all, Tohru was not a member of the Sohma family, so technically, she didn't have to listen to a damn thing Akito said.
But I am slowly becoming a member of their family, she reasoned. Well, an adopted member, that is. But that means I have to have the same respect for Akito that they do, even if sometimes he can be a little...scary.
Tohru shook herself out of her daze. "Yes? I am so sorry! I'm still here! I—I only-"
"Silence. I hate mindless babbling. I also hate repeating myself, though by the sounds of it, I'm probably going to have to."
"No. I heard you. Main House tomorrow at 4 o'clock!"
"Tohru?" Shigure suddenly poked his head around the corner, making Tohru gasp in surprise. His eyes were gleaming with mischief as he asked her, "Who are you talking to, hmm? Such a serious expression! I wonder…" He tapped a finger to his chin, casting her a playful sidelong look. "Do you, perhaps, have a secret boyfriend that you've neglected to tell us about?"
Tohru blushed fiercely at the accusation, even though she knew that he was likely only teasing. "No! I…err…I am, uh, talking to Hana! We have a school project that we need to get a head start on!"
Shigure just stared at her, and with every passing second, Tohru's heart beat faster and faster, until she was almost certain that it would burst.
Did Shigure suspect she was lying? Was she really so obvious?
But just like that, the dog flashed her one of his trademark smiles. "Well, all right!" he said giddily, turning to go back into the living room. "Just don't stay on too late. There are dishes that still need to be done!"
He walked away humming merrily to himself.
The moment he was gone, Tohru breathed a sigh of relief. That was a close one!
"Is he gone?"
Tohru jumped. For a moment she had almost forgotten Akito was still on the phone with her. "Oh! Um, yes. He's gone."
"Finally. I thought he was never going to leave," Akito muttered. "Now then, that's all I needed from you, Miss Tohru Honda. Run along and go to bed. Oh, and don't tell anyone about our little discussion."
"Err, yes, but I have to do the dishes first and-"
Akito cut her off. "Whatever," he grumbled impatiently. "Just go on acting like this entire conversation never happened. I'll see you tomorrow afternoon at 4 o'clock."
Tohru managed a firm nod. "Right."
If she was going to do this, she couldn't allow herself to be afraid of Akito. He was just a man, after all, albeit a seriously troubled one, but who knew? Maybe soon she would discover that he wasn't such a bad person, deep down.
Everyone has some good in them, after all! Tohru reminded herself.
But even as she thought the words, a part of her had to confess that they sounded much more like her mother's than her own.
"Okay." Tohru could almost hear Akito smirking through the phone as he told her, "Sleep tight, Tohru Honda."
Then the line went dead.
Akito was still chuckling to himself long after he'd ended the call.
She's clearly terrified of me, he thought. She could barely find the sense to form words. I wouldn't be surprised if she's up all night, wondering what I have in store for her tomorrow.
Sleep tight? Akito snorted. Those had been nothing but words of mockery. He knew very well that she wouldn't be able to sleep. In fact, she probably wouldn't be able to think about anything but him for the rest of the night. And that was precisely what Akito wanted, to plague Tohru Honda's thoughts day and night so that tomorrow, when she stood before him, she would whimper and cower like a helpless little girl. He wanted her to fear him, to tremble in his shadow, just like his zodiac did.
I will show her once and for all that I am in control of this family. She may have won the hearts of those filthy animals, but compared to me she has no power over them.
Akito dug his sharp fingernails into one of the cracks in the hardwood floor beneath him, frowning discontentedly to himself all the while. Because even in his mind the words had rang untrue. Tohru Honda did have power over his zodiac. Quite a lot, in fact. Akito felt his scowl deepen.
What is it, he wondered, that they all love so much about that stupid woman?
He took a moment to consider her general appearance. Was it the innocent, doe-eyed look she always wore? Her nauseatingly cheerful grin? He simply didn't understand-
There was a soft knock on the bedroom door, and the zodiac god hissed as the familiar figure of a tall, thin man in a white doctor's coat filled the entryway.
"What is it now, Hatori?" Akito snapped.
Hatori stepped forward, surveying the room carefully before replying. "You haven't taken your medicine yet," he said, only to trail off when he noticed where, precisely, Akito was seated. The doctor cast a short, questioning glance at the large four poster bed that sat in the far right corner of the room before promptly returning his gaze back down to the zodiac god. "Akito," he said warily, "why are you sitting on the floor?"
Akito let his head roll back until it rested against the wall, sighing irritably. There the dragon was, going on about medicine again. As if it would help. No, the entire Sohma family was very much aware of the zodiac god's impending death. No amount of medical care could alter his fate, so why not just leave him to it? It wasn't as though anyone was truly interested in the prospect of prolonging his life anyway.
Oh, his family said they cared for him. They claimed that they were grieved by the knowledge that he was destined to live a short, miserable life. But Akito knew that their words were nothing more than lies. They only ever came to see him because they were bound to him by the curse. Even Hatori only looked after him because he was the official Sohma family doctor. Because it was his job.
None of them are going to miss me when I'm gone, Akito thought grimly to himself. They're all just waiting for it to happen. Then they can dance on my grave and get on with their pathetic lives without me standing in the way.
Akito flexed his fingers, suppressing the desire to wince at the instant ache he could feel in his joints afterward. There wasn't a doubt in his mind that the hour of his death was drawing near. He grew weaker with each passing day, and still his family members could not seem to find so much as a single shred of genuine care for him in their hearts. Which was why it vexed Akito all the more to watch as they practically tripped over themselves to worship Tohru Honda. Even the cursed cat had developed a soft spot for her. The thought was almost enough to make Akito wretch.
As far as he could see, there was nothing about the girl that set her apart from any other average person. All she ever seemed to do was smile and stutter like a damn fool. There was no denying that she looked cute while doing it—a fact that Akito would sooner bash his own head in before ever admitting to aloud—but what, aside from her moderately attractive physical features, did the rest of the Sohmas find to be so appealing about her?
Could it be that they were touched by the idiotic sentimental crap she was always spewing? Like the other day. What was it she'd said to him?
"When you pass away, Akito, we will be very sad. We will be very sad to lose you."
The memory itself was enough to make Akito's hands quiver with rage. Those words...they were nothing but another lie. She'd been lying to him, just like his zodiac always did.
She'll pay for that, Akito promised himself. I may have agreed to let her exist within our inner circle, but no one lies to my face and goes unpunished.
The zodiac god returned his attention to Hatori. "Very well." He waved for the doctor to leave. "Go and fetch my medicine, if you insist."
Hatori watched him for a moment, his face betraying no emotion. "All right," he said finally. "I'll return in a few minutes. Wait right here."
"Like I have anywhere else to go, Hatori," Akito snapped.
Honestly. Stupid dragon.
Stupid zodiac. Stupid animals. They ought to have been grateful for all that he did for them! For bearing the full weight of the curse, for being the one to suffer the most under it! And yet there they were, loving a girl more than they did him. An outsider. An inferior. A nobody.
Tomorrow I'll find out, Akito promised himself. I'll find out once and for all what is so special about Tohru Honda, if anything.
And if she dared disobey any of the orders he had given her, he would find a way to ensure that she suffered just as much as his zodiac did. Possibly even more.