"You have changed me by your love."
- Egyptian love poem

"Who can say what eternal truths are preserved in the mysteries of the ancient faith?
'I am yesterday, today, and tomorrow,
for I am born again and again.
I am he who comes forth as one who breaks through the door;
and everlasting is the daylight which His will has created.'"
- Amelia, The Ape Who Guards the Balance

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15
Everlasting is the Daylight
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It was a nice day. The air was clear and neither too cool nor too hot. His birds came to him, eager for his caress, and Souma Akito eagerly anticipated the return of others who would grovel for his attention. It seemed it had been a long time since the one called Harakhte had taken his family from him. Akito frowned. Too long… But he had promised to teach them. That would be most interesting, and though he had been loath to let his Yuki go with them Harakhte had seemed very desirous of his presence. And maybe the boy would learn something…

A commotion outside the door called his attention away from such contemplations. He stood, prepared to go and see what it was, to punish whoever dared disturb him, when the door opened. Hatori entered. "Akito-san," he said, bowing.

"Ha… Hatori?" Akito stammered, taken aback. Occasionally Hatori would come to him without being called, but there was a look in his eyes… one that Akito had never seen before. "I see you have returned," he continued in an attempt to maintain the upper hand. "Where is…" But he didn't need to ask, because Shigure and Ayame entered just behind Hatori, bowed also and stepped to the side.

Kagura entered then, bowed, murmured her respectful, "Akito-san," before also moving to the side, the performance then repeated by Hatsuharu and Momiji. The six of them stood flanking the doorway, three to each side.

Akito stood watching them, speechless.

Kyou was next.

Akito's lip curled at the site of him, but Kyou walked forward and raised his hand imperiously; Akito, shocked, remained silent.

The cat's eyes flashed. "I am Horus," he intoned, his voice level. "I come to avenge thee, O Osiris." He held Akito's gaze but his chin rose and he gritted his teeth. "Osiris, whose word is truth." He turned then to Yuki, who stood now in the doorway. "I am thy kinsman Horus; I have fought on thy behalf."

Yuki met Kyou's gaze, nodded, and then locked eyes with Akito. "Stand up, O Horus," he said firmly, "for thou art counted among the gods." He walked forward and Kyou stepped to the side to let him pass. "I am thy kinsman Osiris." He held Akito's eyes. "I lie down in death. I am born, I become new, I renew my youth every day." His head came up. "I shall be master of him that would subject me to restraint."

"What is this nonsense you speak?" Akito snarled at them, his anger a bluff to cover the very real fear he suddenly felt.

Yuki cocked his head. "You sent us to be instructed, did you not? Hara-san taught us many things; this is only a part of what he taught."

Damn that Harakhte, Akito thought, but suddenly the falcon was driven from his mind as Yuki walked nearer to him. Akito retreated from him, until his back came up against the wall and he stood watching with belligerent trepidation as Yuki advanced on him. There was a look on the rat's face… the same thing Akito had seen in Hatori's eyes… or the lack of something… It was fear… There was no fear in Yuki as he approached the head of the family, continuing until he was mere inches away. Akito's breath quickened in anxiety, but Yuki only took the other man's face in his hands and leaned up to kiss his forehead.

Akito jerked away, staring at Yuki in absolute shock. Yuki took a step back and returned Akito's stare levelly. "It is a heavy burden," he said softly. He held Akito's eyes as he continued but he seemed to be talking to himself, or to someone who was not there. "Beasts have no right to choose. But people choose whom they serve; it is their right. Their choices may not be correct, or wise, but they choose." He blinked, as if returning to the present place and time from a great distance. "They choose," he repeated, and, lowering his eyes from Akito's, he slowly dropped to his knees before his god.

Behind him, the others knelt as well; Kyou also. Akito stared at them, dumbfounded and dazed. He started shaking uncontrollably, falling back against the wall behind him as his legs went out form under him. "Get out," he hissed at them. He struck out wildly at Yuki, a glancing blow to the shoulder. "Get out!" he screamed, curling up on himself. "Hatori!" he cried softly.

Yuki stood and stepped to the side as Hatori came forward, then joined the others as they left.

Kyou was the first one out the door. In an odd twist on another day not so long ago, Tohru was the one waiting for them at the gate; they had decided that she did not need to be present today.

Tohru… Kyou felt his heart contract.

A hand came down on his shoulder, and he turned without thinking to level a punch at the person.

Yuki caught it and turned it away easily. He narrowed his eyes at Kyou. "That was weak, even for you."

"You damn rat!" Kyou's eyes blazed and he threw another punch followed by a kick.

The fact that Yuki blocked them all, with increasing ease, only angered him more, until Yuki grabbed him, spun him around so that he was facing the gate and Tohru, and hissed in his ear, "Talk to her." He shoved Kyou away from him and the cat, stumbling, turned to stare at him incredulously. Yuki crossed his arms uncomfortably. "What you saw…" He cleared his throat. "That was Isis. Not Tohru." He glared at Kyou. "Talk to her." With that he turned and left.

Hatori shut the door behind him and leaned against it, sighing deeply. He glanced up to see Ayame waiting for him at the end of the hallway, and he made his way soft footed toward the snake.

They retreated to Hatori's rooms where Shigure was waiting, sitting on the porch smoking. Hatori sat down beside him and, gladly taking the offered cigarette, raised it to his lips for a long pull. He sighed again and seemed to relax further.

"How is he?" Shigure asked softly.

Hatori shrugged. "About as we expected. I don't think he's realized yet exactly what Yuki meant, and when he does I think it will unnerve him even more." He sighed.

"Well, you'll never be out of a job," Shigure said darkly, and Hatori glared at him. Shigure grinned. "Sorry, I can't help it. The gallows humor seems to be a lasting side effect."

A sudden silence descended around them.

"Do you think…" An uncharacteristically quiet Ayame hesitated before continuing, "that there will be… lasting effects?" He glanced at Shigure, then Hatori.

They were quiet for a minute, before Shigure turned and smiled broadly at Ayame. "Ne Aaya, I made it up!"

Hatori snorted. "Yes, don't you remember? He's always been like that."

"Tori-san! What a horrible thing to say!" Ayame gazed at Shigure appraisingly. "Is it true, though," he added thoughtfully.

"You too Aaya? I'm crushed!"

"Oh Gure-san!" Ayame, restored to a more normal level of buoyancy, wrapped Shigure in a hug. "I'm on your side," he whispered loudly. "Come now, let us plan a way to help Tori-san feel better!"

Hatori raised an eyebrow at the pair. "I am fine Ayame," he said, ignoring the fact that he wasn't supposed to have heard that comment.

"You are not fine Tori-san." Ayame turned from Shigure to look worriedly at the dragon. "You haven't been the same since we got back. So, Gure-san?" he poked the dog. "Is it not true?"

"It is true," Shigure said, eyeing Hatori knowingly. "He's been even more glowery than usual." Hatori glowered at him, causing Shigure to make a "see what I mean?" gesture. "But I think I know what Haa-san's problem is."

"Oh yes? What is it Gure-san?" Ayame prompted him.

Hatori met Shigure's eyes. "You need to talk to him about it," the dog said to him cryptically.

Hatori paled. "I don't think that's necessary."

Shigure frowned. "It is necessary Haa-san."

"I don't want to think about it," Hatori said softly.

"Why not?" They both jumped at Yuki's voice, turning to look at him, standing, arms crossed, in the doorway behind them.

"I asked Yuki to join us," Ayame said with a grin as he observed Shigure's surprise and Hatori's discomfort.

"Yuki, I," Hatori began, but Yuki cut him off.

"It wasn't you."

"I could have stopped him!" Hatori protested in a rare show of emotion.

"How?" Yuki demanded. "Did you know he was going to do that? He took you by surprise just as much as the rest of us. And, Hatori-san," he dropped to his knees beside the seated man, "I'm fine." He smiled. Turning his gaze out over the garden, he continued. "Apep probably saved the day actually. If he hadn't killed me, Seth would have done it." Ayame flinched. Yuki turned to him. "And I know Nii-san wouldn't want that." He looked at Hatori piercingly. "It was better the way it happened," he said, and Hatori nodded, seeing what he meant.

"I see," the dragon said softly. If Ayame had killed Yuki… He couldn't even think of how that would affect his friend.

Yuki nodded. The four of them sat for a moment in comfortable silence, the Yuki, with a glance at Shigure, rose and left.

Shigure sighed, but glancing at his two friends he grinned. "Well, I'd better be taking the kids home." He touched Hatori's shoulder. "If you need anything…" Hatori nodded. It was very likely that the unique influence Shigure had over Akito would become incredibly important in getting Akito to understand how this experience had changed them. Shigure returned the nod and left.

Ayame took a deep breath. "Tori-san," he said questioningly, but Hatori turned and smiled at him- an uncommon display of emotion from the one he admired, and Ayame returned it wholeheartedly before also departing with a lighter heart.

Hatori sat for awhile, looking out over the garden, long after the cigarette in his hand was nothing but ash. Lasting effects… They might have jested about it in an effort to make Ayame feel better, but the truth was that they had all been undeniably altered by the experience they had had. How much so and how thoroughly it would affect their lives remained to be seen.

"Kyou-kun?"

He couldn't look at her. "Tohru…" he managed, but then there seemed to be cotton filling his mouth.

"I'm sorry!" Tohru said suddenly, bowing before him, her hands clenched together.

"For what?" Kyou asked, looking up, confused enough to find his voice.

"I'm not sure," she said looking at him. "But you seemed upset about something Kyou-kun, so I'm sorry for whatever I did!"

"Idiot," he mumbled, turning away and kicking at a stone on the ground.

"Eh?" Tohru exclaimed.

He looked up hurriedly. "I didn't…" But he looked at her, and looked at her, and the words seemed to come out of him, even though he wanted to fight them. "You… and Yuki…" And that seemed to be enough, because she turned bright red and threw her hands over her face.

"I… I'm sorry!" she said, reaching out to him, since he seemed about to leave.

"It's okay," he growled softly, not really seeing her, turned away. "If you want…" He couldn't finish the sentence. He swallowed and tried again. "If you want to… be with him," his voice fell to a whisper, "I… I guess I…" he sighed and finished with, "If that's what you want."

"Kyou-kun?" She sounded confused, but he couldn't look at her. "Kyou-kun, I care about Souma-kun very much," she admitted, and added, with a smile in her voice, "I care about all of you very much! But… but…" He risked a glance; she was blushing again. "But… when I…" She was a fascinating shade of red, but managed to squeak out, "When Isis-sama kissed Osiris-sama it wasn't what I wanted!"

His head came up and he stared at her. She looked at him, embarrassment the primary emotion in her expression, but slowly overtaken with a cautious love. They looked at each other for what felt like a very long time; until Tohru whispered an anxious, "Kyou-kun?"

He swallowed. Took a deep breath. He raised his hand and touched the side of her face- dear gods… her beautiful face… She was watching him, wide-eyed. He slid his fingers along her soft skin until he cupped her chin gently. He tilted her head back slightly, and then leaned in close to her. He paused, close enough to feel her breath on his face- close enough for shivers to run all through him- and whispered, "Tohru." She sighed, the soft expulsion of breath like fire against his skin, and he kissed her. She relaxed into the kiss, her head tilting back slightly more, to more perfectly match the angle with his, and she raised a hand to run it though his hair.

Kissing Tohru was like… nothing he had ever done before in his life. There was nothing he could compare it to. Nothing at all… Except he broke it off to try to look at her, see what she was thinking, and she kissed him, and suddenly he could compare it because this was even better than the first kiss…

"Oh ho, I think we're interrupting something!" Shigure's gleeful voice intruded on his consciousness and Kyou jumped slightly, turning to glare at the dog, and notice that Yuki was standing right behind him.

"Shigure-san!" Tohru jumped also and looked self-conscious as she straightened her clothing, her actions doing more to soothe her nerves than her clothes.

Yuki returned Kyou's glare. "You might've picked a more private place than the middle of the street," he murmured as he moved passed Kyou and the cat blushed. Growling obscenities under his breath, Kyou pushed past Yuki as the rat smiled politely at Tohru, who was still blushing as she stammered out a greeting. Kyou seized her hand possessively, glaring at Yuki again. Yuki raised an eyebrow as Tohru mumbled an apology and followed Kyou as he pulled her to walk with him ahead of the other two as they went home.

Tohru looked at Kyou's hand in hers, then tightened her fingers in his. He turned slightly to look at her and she smiled at him. Her smile… She was like sunshine, eternal, constant- she was the fire that fed his heart. His fingers closed more tightly around hers and he walked slower, moving closer to her. For the first time, the future didn't seem like a dark, sunless place.

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-End-

-O-
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End Notes: Once again, I do not own Fruits Basket. No infringement on the rights of those who do is intended by this nonprofit fanwork. All quotes labeled The Book of the Dead are from E. A. Wallis Budge's translation of The Papyrus of Ani: The Egyptian Book of the Dead. They are taken out of context to support this story and should not be construed as actually representing the contents of said document. All other quotes, except for the love poem in this chapter, are taken from the books of Elizabeth Peters, which include Seeing a Large Cat, The Ape Who Guards the Balance, He Shall Thunder in the Sky, and The Golden One. These books are part of Peters' Amelia Peabody series and reading them is highly recommended to any fans of Egypt, archaeology, or a good mystery. Again, the quotes used are taken out of context to support this story and no infringement upon the rights of Ms. Peters is intended. Kyou and Yuki's lines in the scene with Akito in this chapter are taken from The Book of the Dead. The opening quote of this chapterlabeled "Egyptian love poem" was found on the internet credited to George A. Barton from his book Archaeology and the Bible. Wow… It took me exactly eleven months to write this story and post it. It's been quite a ride. There are currently no plans for a sequel. Sorry. Thank you to everyone who took the time to review. Your words are greatly appreciated- more than you know. I hope you enjoyed the story, and thanks for reading!