The Forgotten Zodiac: Chapter 12

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"Lyra..." Shigure stood next to the plush red chair, his eyes searching the apartment for any signs of life. Aside from the chair, which looked as if it had been unused for many, many years, and the television, there was nothing. The kitchen, which was visible from his spot, was pristine.

"I..." Lyra stammered, her one hand going viciously at the broken cuticles on her other hand. "My mother..." Shigure looked up at Lyra, a pool of tears forming in her eyes as she tried her hardest to form a complete sentence. "She's... She died."

".. How?" Shigure prompted, running his hand across the dull red fabric on the back of the chair and getting a palm full of dust almost immediately.

"She was always sick," Lyra cried. "I worked. Oh, did I work. B-but the medicine," her hands traveled to her face, cupping the porcelain flesh roughly. "The medicine just got more and more expensive..!" Her words were muffled behind her hands, but Shigure could hear the echoes off the picture-devoid walls.

Her knees buckled, leaving her crouched down on the floor near the door, her cries becoming more hysteric. After a moment, a hard sob racked her body, leaving her whimpering and curling into herself and closer to the floor. Shigure knew an embrace would not help her any, and instead walked his way slowly into the kitchen.

"I-I knew there was only one way I could m-make the money to pay for it," she sobbed. Shigure stopped dead in his tracks, looking towards the wretched girl crying on the floor. "M-mom forbade me. She valued my 'innocence' above herself. Her life! Me..!"

"You..." Shigure was at a loss for words. How would he ask if this poor girl had escorted men to save her mother? "Did..."

"I tried," she spoke softly. "I tried, and I tried." Her hands wiped away the sticky tears miserably, leaving her puffy red face streaked with liquid. "I always thought they knew," she inhaled raggedly; "they knew my mom had forbade me. But... no, no. Akito..."

Shigure had pieced it together himself by this point. That's why Akito's conversation with Lyra had shaken her so much. She had tried to save her mother, in her desperation she had offered herself to make money. It was not her mother that stopped the men from accepting her...

"Akito beat those who considered me," Lyra puffed. "Beat them so severely that word spread that a white-haired girl was the indirect cause of these crimes." Shigure could not help but let out a sigh of relief, to which he got a miserable look for in return from Lyra. "She died because Akito decided to interfere! I couldn't afford the medicine, and I didn't know what I was supposed to do!"

His eyes traveled back towards the kitchen, a small towel that had 'kiss the cook' embroidered on the front of it in bright pink. Though, the towel looked like it was collecting as much dust as the chair in the living room was.

"I came home one day and she was just... gone. She must have died while I was at school. I knew I shouldn't have gone that day. I knew it. That was the day that I first turned to the fox. That I was called a monster..." She sighed. "There was a note on her arm rest when I got home." Lyra remembered that day vividly, her heart aching at the sign of her lifeless mother sitting in her favorite chair.

The note she had left for Lyra was explaining what it meant now that she was gone. She hadn't read it until the morning after her mother's death, since she had crawled up into her lap and fallen asleep. It explained what the zodiac curse was, and how she was the first to receive the curse. It explained that the Sohma's were her distant relatives and it gave a single address on the back; Shigure's home address.

Shigure stood silently, watching Lyra pick herself off the ground and smooth the dust off her leggings. It was a lot of information to take in, and he was unsure of what to do with it all. Though... there were a few questions that stuck out in his mind.

".. How are you the first to be cursed with the fox?"

"I don't think I was," she admitted, "if the fox was around at the beginning of time... I can't be the first." Lyra looked mystified, her eyes holding on to the chair sitting in front of the television.

"What of your father?" He inquired softly, knowing that Lyra was already close to the mental breakdown.

"He's a Sohma," she tore her eyes from the chair to look at Shigure. "I just don't know which one he is."

"The Sohma's are many, though," Shigure sighed. "And who's to say he's even still with us?" Lyra simply shrugged, wrapped her arms around her torso and shivering. "Lyra," he spoke after a moment. Her eyes met his, a deep loneliness stirring within the blue pools. "Would you like to stay with us for a while?"

-

"That was wonderful tea, thank you, Tohru." Yuki smiled at the girl sitting across from him, sipping her tea slowly.

"Oh, it was nothing," she smiled. Kyo had chugged his tea within a minute of having it, leaving him quietly tending to his tongue burn. Though, Yuki was secretly thankful for the burn; as it left him with more than a few seconds of silence to think over the situation.

Akito having Lyra was terrifying in its own sense, but Yuki knew Akito's specialty was mental games. He had not known Lyra for very long, but he knew she was a sensitive and caring girl. Being the fox was probably hard enough on her... He sighed.

"... dinner tonight!" Tohru was talking quiet animatedly to Kyo, who sat in wonderful silence beside her. Yuki had completely missed what she had planned for dinner, but he knew it would be delicious nonetheless. Tohru collected the cups, stacking them and carrying them off towards the kitchen.

"Shigure is taking his sweet time," Kyo muttered as Tohru walked away.

"Shigure is probably undoing whatever damage that Akito did," Yuki snapped. As if on cue, Shigure's car drove up towards the house, the high beams shining through the poorly patched together screen. The car's engine turned over, but neither of the doors opened.

"Is she in there?" Kyo inched his way towards the door, peering out and smiling. The smile disappeared as soon as he realized he was doing it, looking over to Yuki.

"Stupid cat," Yuki muttered, smiling to himself. "Just give them a minute; they can't stay out there all night." Kyo looked as if he was going to protest, but instead resumed looking out the door, looking as if he was arguing with himself mentally.

-

"You're not going to tell them... right?" Lyra spoke after a few minutes of silence in the quickly-cooling car. Shigure held back a sign of relief, he did not want to push her, but idling in the driveway to stay warm in the car was not ideal.

"Hadn't planned on it," Shigure withdrew the keys from the ignition, placing them on the dash. "You can tell them when you are ready, and you're welcome to stay here as long as you want." Lyra nodded, clearly holding back tears.

"Thank you," she huffed, reaching for the door handle and pulling, stepping out into the chilled night air.

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