Furuba/Jumanji fusion. "I'll go next!" Momiji scooped up the dice, shaking them. Letting go, the dice rolled to a stop. "Seven!" Momiji cheered, reaching for his rabbit. But before he touched it, t...
Chapter 1: Heaven’s Vault
It was one of those days, the kind where there just wasn’t anything to do. The dark clouds drifted gradually overhead, and Momiji found himself transfixed for a long time, watching them form into odd shapes. Today was suppose to be the day he would have fun with Hatori, but it turned out he had a lot of paper work to do. All Momiji could do now was sit on the deck with his legs sprawled out, feeling the slow elapse of time. Suddenly, Hatori coughed where he sat, standing up from his desk, and disappearing hastily into another room. The sound alerted Momiji, and his thoughts returned to what he should do around this dull, boring place. Before he knew it, his feet had balanced him to a stand, and his legs carried him around the Sohma estate. He wouldn't wander far of course, for Hari’s sake.
His legs continued to move him past the other houses, their doors shut, locking the occupants inside. The Sohma grounds once busy with activity, now sat in silence. No one came out to enjoy the day or the slight breeze that ruffled Momiji’s hair.
Slowing to a stop, Momiji’s eyes soaked in his surroundings. He wandered all the way across the estate and found himself standing in the shadow of one of the houses, the building looming over him, almost daring him to come closer. Tilting his head to the side, he placed a finger on his lips as his face scrunched up in contemplation. This house sat away from the others and was plain, unlike the homes that at least had some sort of personal flare to them - frilly curtains in the windows or flowers planted in the front yard. No floral arrangements graced this lawn; no little knickknacks adorned this deck. With curiosity biting at his heels, Momiji forgot all about Hatori and let his legs take control of him once again. After rounding the house once, Momiji’s interest increased despite the building’s dull appearance. He wanted to go inside.
As Momiji climbed the steps onto the deck, he glanced over his shoulder to see if anyone else was around. Finding no one, he reached his hand to the door and slowly slid it open. The outside sunlight sliced through the darkness, illuminating the small room. Poking his head inside, the Rabbit couldn’t see into any other rooms or corners - shadows stretched from wall to wall, and for the first time, Momiji realized metal bars lined this home’s only window.
Wavering by the door, Momiji took a hesitant step inside.
Hatori reclined in his chair, taking a long drag from his cigarette. Closing his eyes, he tried to push all thoughts of his paper work and the evening check-up on Akito out if his mind. Maybe, maybe if he concentrated hard enough, it would all disappear? Slowly opening his eyes, the amount of paper work still sat, waiting for him to complete it. Hatori shook his head, ridding himself of the ridiculous thought - he’d been spending too much time around Shigure and Ayame. His papers wouldn’t complete themselves and somebody had to take care of them. With a sigh, Hatori sat upright in his chair and eyed his papers - he could have sworn the pile grew larger while he wasn’t watching.
Suddenly, his door slid open revealing the hyperactive Rabbit.
“Hari! Hari! Look what I found!” Momiji pranced into the room, dumping a fairly large, rectangular box onto Hatori’s desk, knocking off a stack of papers in the process. “It’s a game! Play with me! Hari, Hari! Play with me, please!”
The Dragon stared dumbfounded at the intruding box, then to Momiji, then to the scattered papers covering his floor. Sighing, he rubbed his temples and replied, “Momiji, I don’t have time for this. I need to complete this paper work.”
Momiji’s enthusiastic expression melted into a frown in a matter of seconds. “But Hari, you said you’d spend time with me today...”
Ignoring the blonde’s hurt expression, Hatori asked, “Can’t you find Haru?”
“But he’s with Yuki today,” Momiji explained, pouting. Then, “Ah!” Momiji exclaimed, punching a fist into the air, his smile slapped back onto his face. “Hari, Hari, can you take me to Shigure’s? Please? I can see To-ru! And Kyo! And Haru and Yuki, too! Please, Hari?”
Reaching for his keys, Hatori muttered, “Get in the car.” At least now, he could work in peace.
Grabbing the box, Momiji raced out of the house, not bothering to wait for Hatori.
No one cares.
“-howers in the evening. It will continue to rain off and on through out the night and into early morning. Tomorrow will be a high of...”
Great, Kyo thought, his eyes narrowing at the television in annoyance. Rain. Closing his eyes momentarily, he let a sigh escape his lips. He had a feeling there would be an oncoming storm - everything seemed to move in slow motion today. Rising to his feet, Kyo turned off the television and leisurely walked towards the back deck. The sound of running water and the clinking of glasses bumping against each other reached his ears as he passed the kitchen triggering thoughts of Tohru in his mind. With a smile gracing his features, he slid open the door, greeted by a warm summer breeze as he stepped onto the porch. Sitting down, he adjusted himself until his back rested against the wall and he tilted his head up to watch the clouds slowly darken across the afternoon sky. Sure, he probably should have went to his room to lay down to prevent himself from having to sluggishly move there later, but Haru was visiting that damn Rat and he didn’t want to risk seeing them upstairs. He just didn’t feel like yelling at or fighting either of them right now.
Kyo snapped his eyes open. He didn’t remember closing them... “What do you want?” It came out harsher than he intended. Damn.
Tohru started, and wrung her hands together nervously. She was used to his sudden outbursts, but sometimes she was still caught off guard. “Well, I-I heard you walk by and I’m done with the dishes and I figured...” Tohru trailed off, catching Kyo staring at her, waiting for her to finish. She smiled her goofy smile and said, “Haru-kun is with Yuki-kun, so I thought I could sit with you.”
Kyo smiled softly at her, the one he only let her see. Tohru was just too damn cute. “Yeah, sure,” he replied, returning his gaze to the clouds as she seated herself next to him.
Time slowly crept by, and a calm silence fell between the two. Then, “Uhm, Kyo-kun?”
“Yeah?” Kyo shifted so he was looking at Tohru.
A small blush crept across Tohru’s face as she captured his attention. “I was thinking about the zodiac legend the other day... And Shigure-san was kind enough to let me use his computer to look it up online,” she smiled at this and asked, “Did you know that in Vietnam, the Cat replaces the Rabbit?”
Kyo’s eyes widened at this revelation. “Seriously? The Cat’s part of the zodiac and the Rabbit is the outcast?”
Tohru gave a quick nod. “Yep! And there was even a little biography about the Cat, like how there are ones about the other animals.” She felt a warmth inside her, by her heart, as she watched him smile at the thought of the Cat being part of the zodiac.
“Huh...born in the wrong country,” Kyo muttered. “So, what did it say? About the Cat?” He had to admit, this was interesting. He never knew the Cat was accepted elsewhere in the world.
Not missing a beat, Tohru babbled off, “Well, it said Cats are very talented and good with words and are very patient. It also said.. It also said...” Tohru could feel her face heating up, and she suddenly found the ground very interesting. “Uhm...”
Kyo sat up straighter, eager to hear the rest. So far, he didn’t think he qualified for most of those traits. He wasn’t good with words or very patient, but his talent in martial arts had to count for something, right? “Yeah? What else did it say?”
Tohru continued to fidget. “It, uh, it said that Cats are held dear to people and even, uhm, became a symbol for...uhh...” Tohru took a peek at Kyo from the corner of her eye and felt her blush deepen. He was waiting patiently for her to continue. She couldn’t stop now...and she didn’t want to lie to him either... Squeezing her eyes shut, she quickly rambled out the rest, slurring her words together.
He blinked. She spoke too fast; he didn’t understand her. Slightly tilting his head to the side, Kyo asked, “What’s that?”
“A symbol..for s-sex affaire..” she finished meekly.
Kyo’s eyes went wide and his face turned as red as his hair. What the hell was wrong with people? Saying things like that!
“And uhm...in Vietnamese...‘cat’ is supposed to mean, uhm, s-sex partner...” Tohru blushed, stumbling over that certain word.
Kyo buried his face in his hands. The Cat is finally included somewhere and they go and give it a title like that! Kyo sighed, wondering if it was, in fact, better to be left out completely.
“Ah! Ah! Kyo-kun!” Tohru hovered over him, waving her arms frantically. “I-I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable! I just wanted to make you happy by telling you that the Cat isn’t always left out!”
Kyo slowly slid his hands away from his face, revealing that soft smile reserved just for her. “How many times have I told you to stop saying sorry when it isn’t necessary?” he lightly scolded her. “And,” he paused, watching her calm down, “Thanks. I appreciate that...knowing that somewhere, the Cat is accepted.”
Tohru smiled at him and scooted a little bit closer. If Yuki-kun was right about anything, Kyo-kun was easy to rile up, but Tohru found it just as easy to calm him down. She felt something stirring inside of her, an unfamiliar feeling...
Tohru’s thoughts were ripped from her as she heard the sound of a car door banging shut. “Oh! Someone’s here!” Standing up, she rushed inside, leaving Kyo to himself.
“To-ru!” Momiji squealed, diving onto the girl.
“Eh? Ah! Momiji-kun!” Tohru exclaimed, holding onto the little bunny. “It’s very nice of you to visit!” Looking over the Rabbit’s head, Tohru saw Hatori step into the house as well. “Hatori-san!” Tohru gave a quick bow.
Hatori spared her a nod as he walked further into the house and set Momiji’s game onto the table. “I just came to drop him off,” he explained. Turning his attention to Momiji, he spoke, “Call when you and Haru want to come back. Try not to stay too late, though. I have to check on Akito tonight, and he won’t want any interruptions.” Momiji nodded, and before Hatori could escape, a certain Dog popped out of his study.
“Haa-san! I thought I heard you come in!” Shigure beamed. Then, catching Tohru showing Hatori to the door, he gasped, playfully covering his mouth. “Hari! You’re trying to steal our flower! For shame! I’m hurt, Hari, I really am! She was to become my bride and you didn’t even ask!”
“Keep yappin’ and I’ll hurt you for real,” Kyo emerged, glaring at the Dog, one hand curled into a fist.
Shigure backed away nervously, holding up his hands, “Now, now, Kyo, no need for violence. Fighting only leads to my house breaking...or in this case, maybe even me breaking. You wouldn’t want our little flower to worry, now would you?”
Before Kyo could respond, Momiji changed back, causing Tohru to squeal and turn around.
Hatori shook his head. “Remember to call,” he reminded Momiji. Opening the door, he stepped out into a light rain and into his car. The engine started, the window wipers coming on. Hatori pulled away, returning to the Main House.
“Well now, what a pleasant visit,” Shigure’s smile contrasting against Kyo’s glare.
Pleasant? Kyo snorted, crossing his arms and leaning against the wall. Hatori only came to drop off an unwanted annoyance, who Kyo noted still had yet to finish dressing. “Put some clothes on, Rabbit.” Sighing, Kyo muttered under his breath, and straightened himself out, mind set on his room. It was drizzling and Kyo felt a nap coming on. But before he took his first step, Yuki and Haru emerged from the stairwell, blocking his path. Great, Kyo thought bitterly, more unwanted annoyances.
Shigure observed the crowded hallway and sensed it was time to leave. “I’m going to return to my study, go play and do whatever you kids do - just don’t break anything.” And with that, the Dog walked himself into his study and shut the door. As a habit, he paused and listened for the sound of anything breaking. Hearing nothing, he nodded his head with a smile and sat himself back down in front of his computer.
With Momiji fully clothed, Tohru turned back around. “So, Momiji-kun! What brings you here?”
Momiji blinked his eyes, then all at once his face grew bright as he exclaimed, “Oh yeah!” Bounding into the main room, he called over his shoulder, “I brought over a board game! Will you play with me Tohru?”
Tohru smiled at the blonde’s excitement. “Of course!” Quickly, she followed Momiji while listening intently to all of his chattering.
“A game, huh?” Haru said, then turned to Yuki. “Wanna play?”
Yuki shrugged, not knowing what else to do. “I guess so.”
“What about you, Kyo?” Haru asked.
“Nah,” the Cat waved a hand. “I’m not going to play anything that damn Rat’s playing. Besides, I’m tired. I’m going to lie down.”
Kyo started to push past the Ox, when Haru smirked. “Look at that, Yuki. A forfeit. Free win for you.”
Kyo instantly snapped back around. “Who said I forfeited?” Shoving a finger in Yuki’s direction, he shouted, “I’ll beat you!”
Yuki sighed, walking into the next room. “I do tire of that line...”
“Shut up! This time I will win!”
“Just like last time?”
“Last time...! Last time...was a fluke!”
Haru chuckled to himself as he followed the bickering pair to the table. Momiji was already seated next to Tohru. Placing himself down next to Yuki, Kyo was left with the end.
The Cat slumped onto the table, burying his head into his arms. That stupid argument zapped his energy, and now he felt worse than before. Raising his head just a little, he saw Yuki reaching for the box. Across from the Rat sat Tohru, and Kyo smiled into his arms. He wasn’t playing to beat Yuki; he was playing just to spend more time with her, to watch her smile and laugh. That’s what he decided to do, wasn’t it? To quit fighting and to just enjoy the rest of his time with her... And his time was running out quick.
Yuki peered at the plain, rectangular wooden box. It had a few words carved onto the surface. “Heaven’s Vault,” Yuki read aloud. The top of the box slid off easily enough, and once Yuki discarded the lid, he examined the contents inside: one game board, a piece of paper, and a drawstring bag. Carefully, Yuki pulled out the rectangular board and handed it off to Haru, who unfolded it and laid it on the center of the table. Yuki then took out the small velvet pouch in one hand and the paper he assumed to be the instructions in the other.
Yuki ran a hand over the smooth board, his eyes soaking in the detailed drawing. The game board was drawn carefully in pen and ink, the color faded from over time. In one corner laid a sketch of a town, and from the town stretched a path, leading through a field and forest until reaching a great river. On the other side of the river sat another town, one that looked in much better condition than the first. The path was divided up into squares for the game pieces to sit in, and a raised, glass oval sat in the very center of the board.
His hand slid from the board to the small pouch and loosened the strings. Turning the bag upside down, a pair of dice rolled out, mixed together with many tiny, silver figurines. Picking a miniature rat out of the pile, Yuki held it near his eyes for a closer look. Scanning the other pieces, Yuki realized with surprise that they were all animals, and the animals of the zodiac no less. “Momiji,” Yuki’s attention locked onto the Rabbit. “Where did you find this?”
Momiji’s eyes darted from Yuki to Kyo’s now sleeping form. “Around.” Reaching for the figurines, he selected the rabbit.
“Never mind where he found it,” Haru said, fishing through the pile of animals until he found the ox. “This is cool. It’s like someone made a game about us.”
Tohru’s eyes searched through the remaining animals. Sheep..boar..
“Hey!” Momiji pointed. “Look! Hari’s dragon isn’t a seahorse!”
“Ah! You’re right, Momiji-kun!” The dragon was shaped like a Chinese dragon and not a seahorse. Tohru smiled as she continued to hunt through the animals. Monkey...tiger...snake... Ah! There it is! Tohru’s smile widened. “Look, Kyo-kun! There’s a cat, too!”
Kyo started, his eyes snapping open. “Wha?” His head buzzed as he looked at the table. Oh yeah...Momiji’s game... The little animals laid in a pile. Following Tohru’s finger, he saw the miniature cat. It rolled away from the others when Yuki dumped them out of the bag. Kyo sighed, even in a board game, the cat was still separated.
Tohru reached for the dog, when her eyes suddenly lit up. “Oh!” Standing, she dashed away from the table and disappeared down the hall, leaving four stunned boys at the table. Yuki glanced at Haru, who shrugged.
Without hesitating, Tohru knocked on the door, and softly called, “Shigure-san?”
The door slid open, revealing the Dog, a pencil tucked behind his ear. “Yes, my little flower?”
“I’m sorry to bother you,” she started, “but Momiji’s game, the pieces are animals and there is a dog. Would you like to play?”
Shigure gently patted her head. “Oh no,” he smiled. “That’s okay. I have to finish this manuscript before Mit-chan comes, then I need to think of a good hiding spot for it,” he winked. “Go have fun. Thanks for the offer.”
As Tohru reentered the room, Yuki was reading the instructions.
“Okay,” Yuki said, looking up from the paper. “We start here,” he placed his rat at the first town in the corner. “Our main objective is to follow the path and be the first to reach the other town across the river. Use the dice to roll for movement.”
“That’s it?” Haru asked.
“Yeah, basically,” Yuki responded.
Kyo cracked his knuckles. “Sounds easy enough. You’re going down, Rat-boy.”
“Uhm, Yuki-kun?” Tohru interrupted the beginning stages of the verbal fight. “What’s the glass oval for in the center?”
“I’m not sure, Honda-san,” Yuki said, scanning the instructions again. “I guess it’s just for decoration.”
Momiji grabbed the dice off of the table. “Okay, okay, let’s start already!” Handing them to Tohru, he said, “You can go first, Tohru!”
Tohru took the dice from the hyperactive Rabbit. “O-okay...” Clasping the dice in both hands, she shook them before breaking her hands apart, letting the dice hit the board until they rolled to a stop. Adding the two numbers together, Tohru moved her dog six spaces.
“I’ll go next!” Momiji scooped the dice into his hands. Shaking them up, he let go, the dice rolling to a stop. “Seven!” Momiji cheered, reaching for his rabbit. But before he touched it, the little figurine slowly slid across the path, moving seven spaces on its own. Momiji instantly recoiled his hand, springing back in surprise, “Wh-what’s happening?” Everyone gasped, their eyes widening, watching the rabbit complete its move. Once it reached it’s seventh square, it sat still.
“No way...” Kyo breathed. “Did that thing just move on its own?”
Momiji and Tohru exchanged glances, Momiji asking, “How’d it do that?”
Haru stared at the little bunny, intrigued. “A game piece moving by itself... A mystery...”
“No,” Yuki said, getting over the shock and racking his brain for a logical answer. Everyone saw it, so that meant he wasn’t seeing things... “It’s not a mystery, it has to be something. Maybe there’s magnets?”
Kyo snorted. “And you call me stupid. That’s no magnet! Tohru’s dog didn’t move on its own!” he pointed out.
Yuki glared at him, not in the mood to hear his idiot cousin’s voice. “Then what is it if you’re so smart?”
“I don’t know!”
“Then shut up,” Yuki growled, ending the argument. Kyo, however was still seething, his teeth clenched together.
Tohru nervously looked back and forth between the two. She didn’t like it when they fought. Hesitantly, she started, “Uhm, Yuki-kun, Kyo-kun...”
“What!” Kyo turned on her. As soon as he saw her cringe, he desperately wanted to take it back. He lifted his hand to reach for her, but drew back in shame.
Tohru shrunk back, and Yuki used all of his will power to keep from smacking Kyo. “You stupid Cat! You can’t even be nice to anyone!”
Kyo flushed, pissed off at Yuki and embarrassed that he yelled at Tohru. He opened his mouth to retort when Haru spoke, “Hey guys, the rabbit won’t come off.”
All eyes turned to Hatsuharu who was trying to pull the rabbit off of the game board. Then suddenly, the glass oval in the center of the board flashed with light, momentarily blinding all five players. Haru snatched his hand back in a futile attempt to cover his eyes. As the light dimmed, the circle filled with a gray fog and inside, words started to glow...
“Now what’s happening?” Momiji clutched Tohru’s hand. “Tohru, I don’t wanna play anymore,” he whined.
“Hush,” Yuki commanded, reading the words within the oval. “Thirteen animals for only twelve seats. Race now, the Jade Emperor you shall greet.” He looked at the others gathered around the table. “What do you suppose that means? Obviously this deals with the Zodiac...”
Instantly Kyo stood up, his mouth running dry. Swallowing, he licked his lips, trying to re-wet his mouth. With eyes glued to the game board, he softly muttered to himself, “This is stupid.” He didn’t want to play a game where he knew he’d lose. There’s a river drawn on the board. Didn’t one of the legends say the rat pushed the cat in? Red eyes drifted to Yuki, who was leaning over the game.
Not paying any attention to the Cat, Haru examined the board with Yuki. “Electronic?” he suggested.
Yuki flipped the board over, to see if any wires were on the bottom. Tohru’s dog fell, landing on the floor. All the other animals stayed in place. There were no wires, no batteries, nothing.
“Momiji,” Yuki started, looking to the Rabbit. Locking eyes with the boy, he asked, voice serious, “Where did you find this game?”
Momiji held Tohru’s hand tighter. “The Main House.”
“Where in the Main House?” Yuki pressed.
Momiji swallowed nervously. “It...it was in one of the houses,” then in a whisper, “away from all the other houses...”
The room fell silent. No one looked at each other, save for Yuki still staring at Momiji. A house away from all others...
Kyo’s hands gripped the edge of the table, his knuckles white, arms slightly shaking. That house... His head was bowed, his hair covering his eyes, which were having trouble focusing. Then suddenly he snapped his head up. “Look you,” Kyo’s voice cracked, breaking the uneasy silence. “You had no reason to be in any of the houses except your own.” Stronger now, with each word, “That was someone else’s house. You were trespassing. You stole this game!” he accused.
“I didn’t steal it!” Momiji claimed, staring at Kyo, then to Tohru. “You believe me, don’t you Tohru? I didn’t steal the game! The house was empty! This game was the only thing in it! No one could have lived there!” Momiji defended.
Kyo started to pace the room nervously. “You shouldn’t have been in there, you shouldn’t have been around there!”
“I’m sorry!” Momiji wailed, feeling his heart beat faster. “I was bored! I had nothing to do!”
“That doesn’t mean you can go wherever you please!” Kyo hissed.
Without thinking, Tohru suddenly rose from her seat and grabbed Kyo’s arm. He turned to her in shock. “Kyo-kun, Kyo-kun, calm down. Momiji-kun didn’t mean it... Please, Kyo-kun...”
Kyo yanked his arm away, irritated at the game, at the weather, and at his future. “Leave me alone,” he growled, leaving the room and going upstairs.
Yuki sighed, rubbing his forehead. This wasn’t good. It...it was just a game. “Maybe we should just play something else?” Collecting the extra pieces and Tohru’s dog, he placed them back into the bag along with the dice. He placed the instructions and the bag into the box and looked at the game board. The oval was still flashing that message. He tried pulling the four animals off of the board, but they wouldn’t come off. Giving up, he tried to fold the board back up, but it refused to fold. He could hardly bend it. Even with Haru’s help, the board was stuck laying open with the rat, cat, ox, and rabbit on its surface. Why wouldn’t it fold?
“No,” Yuki whispered, “No!” He tried with all his strength to fold the board, but with arms shaking and muscles straining, he gave up, slumping back onto the floor. He felt sweat starting to bead his brow. Why was this game getting to him? That’s all it was...a game... He had no reason to get upset over it... But games don’t move on their own or refuse to be put away.
Yuki turned his head away from the game, trying to ignore its existence, but for some reason, he didn’t want to actually quit playing... It, it was almost calling to him in a way, like, a whisper in his mind. Suddenly, he pulled the dice out of the bag again.
Tohru watched him with concerned eyes. “But I thought-”
“I’m going to roll,” Yuki interrupted her. “This is a game. It can’t hurt us. Let’s just finish it without that stupid Cat.”
No one wanted to point out that the cat figurine was still stuck to the board.
Ignoring everyone’s stares, Yuki shook the dice in one hand before tossing them onto the table. Eleven. Even though he half expected the little rat to slide on its own, he wasn’t the only one to jump. Then just like last time, the glass oval flashed, blinding everyone until the light dimmed and words started to appear through the fog...
“The rat’s second to leave town. But the fields are dark, and in the distance thunder pounds.”
Yuki leaned back on his hands and smiled despite the heavy air looming in the room. He felt better now, that he rolled and took part in the game, like a burden was lifted off his shoulders. “See? It’s just a silly rhyme telling a story,” he reassured everyone.
But suddenly, the rain outside fell faster and harder, and with a loud clap of thunder and a flash of lightning, the teens found themselves shrouded in darkness as the power failed.