Fandom: Fruits Basket
Publish Date: 6/14/2003
Disclaimer: I do not own Fruits Basket. But I'll happily take Ayame--so long as he doesn't transform and he lets me play with his pretty pretty hair!
Overhead, the sky was gray and overcast; charcoal colored clouds billowed like cotton candy across the heavens. Not a single beam of sunlight could crack through that thick shell of cumulonimbus. Every once in a while, a clap of thunder would rumble across the sky and a flash of lightning would momentarily brighten the firmament. Chances were that it would rain at some point.
Loose gravel scratched loudly against the concrete as it was ground between the pavement and the sole of a shoe. Even as ugly as the day was, someone was out and about, walking around, risking getting caught and soaked if the heavens should open up and let the drops fall.
His eyes were downcast, and as dark and gloomy as the sky above. They were so sad that one would almost wonder if they would let something fall, as the sky was threatening to. Those darkened eyes seemed intent on studying the tops of his shoes; he didn’t seem to feel any need to watch where he was going, as if his feet themselves knew where they were going. Or perhaps he just didn’t care.
There were few people out in this unkind weather. One or two shot questioning or sympathetic looks at this young man who looked so sad; then they went on their way.
He went around a corner, not lifting his gaze. But his heart was hammering within him, and his mind was racing furiously. This was something he’d been wrestling with himself over for quite some time, and finally, at the urging of a friend, here he was. He was finally making a pilgrimage to find something he so desperately needed, yet that seemed so far from his grasp.
A few feet over his head, the tree branches moved and rustled in a sudden breeze. The icy wind cut through his jacket and chilled him all the way through in an instant. He shivered, and unconsciously pulled his coat tighter around him in a vain attempt to stave off a bitter cold that was now emulating from deep inside, from within the very core of him.
He rounded another corner…
…and there she was.
It tumbles and pitches through space
I can remember when rain was soft
When you kissed the rain from my face
His shoes scraped against the ground as he all but skidded to a stop. He stared at her for what felt like a very long time, eyes wide, and mouth partially open in something similar to surprise. Silence hung heavily between them.
Finally, his expression relaxed into a soft, sad smile, slightly touched by awkwardness. The gentle grin seemed to spread throughout his entire posture; it even extended to his eyes. The cloud was partially lifted, and the tiniest of sparkles danced across the tired, blood-colored eyes. He held up a hand in an awkward gesture of greeting. "Hey, Tohru."
Once again, his gaze dropped to the ground to conduct an in-depth study of his scuffed sneakers. "I came to see you. It’s been a while." He sighed and looked back up at her again. "It’s been a really long time. Sorry I didn’t come to see you sooner."
"I really don’t understand why you left, Tohru. I really don’t. Everything’s gone straight to hell since you left. I mean, we’re all wrecks without you there, flitting around, keeping us sane. You were the glue keeping us all together, and with you gone, it’s all fallen apart. Everything’s just so…dead. Lifeless."
"It’s amazing. You’ve already been gone for a month. Everyone’s feeling it. You really don’t know how much of an impact you’ve made on all of us. Kisa hasn’t stopped crying, for one. She stopped talking again for a while, but Haru pulled her out of it. Don’t ask me how he did it. But then again, I guess he hasn’t really been himself lately either."
"Shigure picked up a pen for the first time yesterday. But he told me that every time he tried to write, it wouldn’t come out right. It would end up being about someone losing someone in some way—they left, they died, you get the idea. But I’m actually worried about him. He hadn’t made a joke. Not a single one since you left, Tohru. No teasing, no wisecracks, no nothing. It’s actually kinda creepy, ya know?"
"Hatori and Ayame have been alternating between throwing themselves into their work, and just sitting around doing nothing, staring off into space. Hatori said something about losing spring again. I don’t know what he meant, but he looked like he was going to cry when he said it. And Ayame hasn’t smiled at all. Not for a month. Talk about weird."
He paused for a moment and ran an awkward hand through his hair. This wasn’t going at all like he wanted. The silence still hung between them, as heavy and unyielding as an anvil in a blacksmith’s shop. He wished desperately that the silence would be broken by something other than his own voice.
The clouds above picked that moment to crack open; as the lightning flared and the wind picked up, the rain fell in a torrential downpour. He was soaked in a heartbeat, though he really didn’t care about that too terribly much. What he did care about was the fact that the weakness he’d been fighting off for most of the day was now flooding him, just as the rain was flooding the ground beneath his feet. Every ounce of energy he had seemed to run down his body, out his feet, and into the pavement. He knees were suddenly threatening to give out, but through an exercise of iron will, he managed to stay upright.
He glanced back at her. She was still silent, still looking at him, still listening to his every word.
With you, wind was silk on my skin
People in love walk inside the wind
Where nothing can hurt you
It holds you too close
But now I'm outside looking in
"Tohru, why did you leave us?" he asked, suddenly feeling something akin to anger rising painfully in the back of his throat. With a great deal of self control, he managed to fight the sharp, painful emotion back down. He didn’t want to get angry at her. Not here. Not now. It wouldn’t do any good; he knew that now. It felt like he had grown much wiser since that fateful day when she had walked out of his life. "Why did you leave us? Weren’t we all happy? All of us? Everyone’s going crazy without you. None of us are happy anymore."
His heart pounded as he wondered why he couldn’t ever just say what he meant.
"I never thought I’d say this, Tohru, but I’m worried about Yuki. Don’t ask me why, but for some reason we just aren’t fighting lately. Not even an argument. That damn rat can’t decide what he thinks. First he was just walking around in a daze, running into walls and stuff. Kinda like you do sometimes. It was really bizarre. He wasn’t in there, not at all. Then one day, he just woke up and said everything was fine. Smiling cheerfully, acting normally, the whole nine yards. He really did seem to be okay, ‘cept he didn’t eat, didn’t sleep. He got really sick, too. Hatori said it was all in his head. He wasn’t letting go. Ha’ri didn’t come right out and say it, but I think he’s really worried. I don’t know what they’re going to do, but I think it’s going to happen soon."
"And me?" he began, then paused. His chin dropped and struck his chest; his wet, red-orange bangs hung down, obscuring his closed eyes. He wanted to tell her the whole truth, right now, but the words stuck painfully in his throat.
He was so caught up in this conversation and his own tumultuous thoughts that he didn’t notice that there was someone standing nearby, watching him from beneath an umbrella, just close enough to overhear what was being said.
"Tohru, I…" his voice trailed off. And yet she stood there, silently, passing no judgments. But then again, she had never been one to judge or condemn people. That was one of the qualities he had always admired about her. "…I’m sorry. I’m sorry for so many things I can’t even think of them all. Damn it, I’m just no good at this…" He lifted his eyes slowly. "Damn, damn, damn…"
Millions of thoughts were racing through his emotion-clouded mind, so many and so jumbled that he couldn’t even remotely begin to sort through them or vocalize them. His tired shoulders sagged dejectedly, both from the weakness the rain brought, and his hatred over his own helplessness; he couldn’t do it. Even here, even now, he was helpless to speak what was on his mind.
Now that I move on without you
Nothing on earth is the same
It’s hopeless, he decided, spinning on his heel to flee…and running right into something solid that had conveniently moved behind him. The force of impact coupled with his weakness due to the rain nearly knocked him to the ground; he was saved by two strong hands gripping his shoulders and steadying him. When his vision cleared of stars, he found himself staring into a very familiar face, once that wore a very kind, if very tired, smile.
He blinked owlishly. "Master?"
"Shigure told me you’d finally come out here," Kazuma said kindly; his face and voice held no judgments or inflections.
"So…what are you doing?"
"Making sure you make it back in one piece," the martial arts master replied calmly. "Kyou, you know what the rain does to you, and yet you go running around in this weather."
The teenager shrugged noncommittally.
"So did you tell Tohru everything you needed to?" Kazuma queried. "I must admit that it didn’t really sound like it."
One orange eyebrow arched. "Eavesdropping?"
"In answer to your question, no, I didn’t."
"And you don’t have to. Not today. You can talk to her again when you get things straightened out for yourself. After all, she’ll still be here."
Kyou processed this for a moment, then nodded, once. Slowly, he turned back to her. Slowly, he reached out and let his fingers run over the engravings cut into the smooth stone. Engravings that formed characters which spelled out a name.
The rain continued to fall as his hand dropped back to his side. He stepped back. "I still can’t believe she’s gone. It just doesn’t seem real."
Kazuma made a sound, one that sounded like agreement.
Kyou studied the stone that had Tohru’s name engraved on it. It seemed so cold, so impersonal. Nothing at all like the Tohru he knew. Nothing at all like the girl who had done so much for him, even going so far as to accept him after having seen him in the zodiac Cat’s original form.
He could still hear the screech of the brakes and the scream—Tohru’s final scream. It had haunted him in his dreams at night, and echoed in his ears during the day. He could still see her lying on the pavement, broken and unconscious. There was blood everywhere…Tohru’s blood.
There was no escape from it.
The sound of it strumming the sky
People in love walk inside that song
But now when I listen, the melody's changed
The rain only whispers goodbye
For the first time since the accident, Kyou felt something hot stinging his eyes. He blinked rapidly, knowing full well what it was. Still, he felt something run between his eyelashes. But it was lost in the rain that had fallen on his face.
"Come on. Let’s go home," Kazuma put a comforting hand on the teenager’s shoulder. "It’s not going to do any good to stand here in the rain, beating yourself up over what happened."
Kyou nodded slowly, and let himself be lead away. He almost screamed, though. It wasn’t right—they couldn’t just leave her alone, out here in the rain. They couldn’t!
He glanced back over his shoulder one last time as they rounded a corner.
And for one all-too-brief moment, he could have sworn he saw a swirl of dark hair and a sparkle of blue eyes. And he was almost certain that he heard the sound of that wonderful laugh.
But he knew he was only imagining things.
Still, even with a glimpse of something he didn’t think he had really seen, something felt…different. His heart was still broken, but…it didn’t hurt as much.
More tears freed themselves from his eyes. Heartbroken tears that he was powerless to stop.
But they were all but invisible in the rain.
But now when the rain falls...I do