My mother was always angry. Her eyes were cold and distant. I hated her. My father was so kind. He always smiled at me. I loved him. I was the “being” my father had wished for. I thought he loved me best.
We finally get to the root of the quarrel between Ren and Akito, and it is heartbreaking.
Ren: Why didn’t you call for me…? Why did you let Akira-san die alone?
Head Maid: […] He wasn’t alone. Akito-san watched over him in his final moments. And in accordance with Akira-san’s will, Akito-san is the new Head of the Family.
Ren: Head of the Family…? This thing!? It was just a toy to help Akira-san pass the time! Now that Akira-san is gone, there’s no need for toys! No one needs you!
Akito: You’re wrong. I’m a “special being.” I’ve been promised “eternity”. Everyone was waiting for me. I am needed. I know this because Father told me. You dare mock Father’s words? You’re the one who isn’t needed.
Ren: “Bond”…”Eternity”…go ahead. Cling to those silly delusions. They won’t last forever. At some point, those dreams will be broken, and you’ll realize that no one was ever waiting for you!
Akito took Ren’s words to heart, eventually using them against various Members of the Zodiac. Ren had just as powerful an influence on Akito as Akira did.
Back in the present, Kureno is obviously getting up the courage to have a serious talk with Akito, but Akito’s been doing plenty of contemplating on her own, and she’s not ready to yield the floor yet.
Akito: When I met Yuki, I was almost too happy for words, you know? Like me, like “God”, he hadn’t been reincarnated in a very long time. The first in the Zodiac, the closest to God – the Rat. So when we met, it meant I could show off in front of that woman. I could still do that back then. Even though she could still hurt me with her cutting words, back then, I could still…(internally) And he was kind…Shigure…kind like my father. When did my world start to break apart? Was it when Kureno was released? From that point on, did it just twist more and more each day? But I reached out desperately. I held them back. I forced them to stay. That’s right. They betrayed me again and again and again…and yet, it was only me who kept coming back.
Then we find the missing piece, Akito’s motivator at the beginning of the series, after Shigure took Yuki out of the Sohma compound: A bet.
Ren: You think they can go see the outside world, see all its charms and wonders, and then still agree to return, bound to your gloomy old self for “eternity”? Do you honestly believe that!? Then prove it! Prove that no one can destroy your delusional dreams, and you’ll beat me! However, if you lose, you will kneel before me and leave the Sohma family forever.
Akito: (internally) I had faith. I had faith that I would win. I had faith that no one could split us apart. Or – no. No, it was more like a prayer. A plea. Like a curse. As if I’d die if I didn’t say it. I would say the same words over and over. Over and over and over…(aloud) But it’s all over. They’ll…they’ll leave me…they’ll all leave me behind…
And now Ren just confronts Akito and demands the box. With a knife. Because crazy people aren’t scary enough with their bare hands.
Akito: (internally) I didn’t want to lose to this woman. I wanted to prove to her that I was right, any way I could. (aloud) If you want this so badly…then have it! This damn thing…!
Akira: Don’t be scared, Akito. I won’t abandon you. Even if you can’t see me, I’ll be with you. My special child…most of all, I wanted Ren to be happy. In the end, we all knew I was going to die an early death. But I was able to leave a child behind. And our child was a “special being”…that’s proof that the two of us were “special” too, isn’t it? I didn’t have the chance to make peace with you after all, Ren –
So Ren believed that Akira cared about their child more than her because he spent so much time with Akito…and Akito thought her father just saw her as a “thing”, some proof of the specialness of his relationship with Ren.
And then the maids stepped in.
Akito: But Father didn’t love me best…
Head Maid: That’s not true. Akira-san loved you more than anyone, Akito-san. Don’t let that woman deceive you. You must teach her that in the Sohma family, your role as the one who rules over the spirits is sacred. That is the duty Akira-san gave to you, the one he loved most of all. And, here…as long as you have this, Akira-san belongs to you alone! […] Akira-san’s soul…!
There’s a reason Akito describes her mother in the same terms as the maids do. They were literally using a child to further their own agenda, and so they turned Akito against her mother at a time when they should have been able to at least try to heal together from their mutual loss. Akito never learned what real love is.
Ren: [The box]’s empty…
Akito: That’s right. It’s empty. From the beginning…(internally) The one who didn’t belong was me. It was broken from the start. Yes. I knew. From the beginning, I was searching for something that didn’t exist.
Then she picks up another weapon her mother used against her…