Missing Moment. What does Hatori do the night after learning of Kanna’s wedding?
She was careful as she made her way downstairs. Careful to go slowly and nearly silently. Careful not to trip. Careful not to wake anyone else. It really was very late and she certainly did not wish to wake anyone else. They all needed their rest.
In the kitchen, Tohru got a cup from the cupboard before getting a drink from the faucet. The house was dark and silent. As she sipped her water, she listened to the house softly creak and groan. She listened to the night noises as the bugs sang to each other and the frogs croaked. As she refilled her cup for a second drink, an owl hooted in the distance.
Then, she heard a strange noise. It was so soft that at first Tohru doubted that she had heard it at all. Still, she shut off the tap and held perfectly still, her cup of water forgotten in her hand, as she shifted all of her concentration to her ears. With every fiber of her being, Tohru listened to the night noises, listening for something out of place. She pushed the soft noises made by a house at night from her mind. She ignored the bugs and frogs. For long moments, nothing new filtered into her system. An owl hooted, much closer this time. Tohru jump, her heart racing.
The jump caused the cup in Tohru's hand to jerk violently, which in turn made the water slosh over the edge of the cup, down her hand, and onto the floor below. Even as her free hand pressed itself to her pounding heart, Tohru looked at the spilled water in dismay. For a moment, a very short moment, Tohru considered leaving the water as it was and going back to bed. Surely it would evaporate before anyone woke up in the morning. But/, whispered a tiny corner of her mind, /what if someone else wants water tonight? What if Kyo-kun wants a drink of milk? What if it isn't gone before morning and Yuki-kun doesn't see it? He isn't really awake in the morning... What if someone slips on the mess you've made and falls and hurts himself?
Just thinking about causing injury to one of the Sohmas made Tohru feel terribly guilty. Carefully she put her cup on the counter and went to get a rag from a drawer. As she was mopping the small puddle up, Tohru heard the small, indefinable noise again. This time, though, she was sure that it had come from the outside porch. For one, heart-stopping moment, she thought it was Jason the bear, come to eat her and the Sohmas.
Then, unbidden, from her memory rose two reassuring voices. True, they were raised and in the midst of arguing with each other, but to her, they were two of the most reassuring voices in the world.
"I'll tell you that Jason is not real but a character in a horror movie!"
"How would I know? What's the big deal about a bear that appears in a horror movie?"
Feeling reassured and safe, Tohru rose and moved to investigate the source of the noise. She made sure to be as quiet as she could. If it was a wild animal, she did not want to disturb it or scare it away.
It was even darker outside and it took a moment for her eyes to pick any details out but when she realized what she was looking at, Tohru gasped softly. Outside, sitting alone in the dark was Hatori, sobbing softly as if his world had ended. He was curled up in the corner between the side of the breakfast table, the railing of the porch, and the back of the bench, his knees against his chest, his arms around his shins, his head resting on his knees. He looked so much younger as he sat on the bench in the dark, trying to hold himself, trying to cry silently.
For a moment, Tohru stood stock still, gripped in indecision. Should she go outside and try to comfort Hatori? But Hatori was such a private person... perhaps he wished to be alone. Perhaps he would be angry or embarrassed to know that Tohru had seen him when he was vulnerable. He probably went outside so as not to wake anyone. Hatori was kind and thoughtful like that. But he looked so hurt...
Unbidden, a memory of herself, sobbing at the bedside of her dying mother rose in her mind. At first she had wanted to be alone. Her heart hurt so much, she thought she would die of it. But then, she had wanted someone to hold her, to love her and comfort her because it would never be better, it would never be okay, and she did not wish to be alone anymore. And she was about to become more alone than she could ever possibly have imagined... If Arisa and Saki had not ignored her wishes... If they had not come in because they loved her too much to leave her alone...
She opened the sliding glass door. It made a small noise as it slid by on its rollers. The wooden deck made a soft noise as she stepped onto it, her feet bare.
Hatori must have heard the door open and her footsteps on the deck. Raggedly he tried to swallow his sobs even as he roughly, angrily, swiped at his eyes. Hatori didn't bother to look up at his late night visitor.
"Hatori-san..." she breathed.
"Go back to bed Tohru-kun."
He had moved his face enough so that his voice would not be muffled. His voice was calm, cold even, and ruthlessly collected. It was a sharp contrast to his body language.
For a moment, Tohru wavered with indecision. Then, almost without her permission, her hand rose and closed the door to the porch, shutting herself and Hatori outside. Now she could not got back, even if she wanted to. Tohru prayed that she found the right thing to say, the right thing to do.
Her voice was tentative. Hatori interrupted her.
"I'm fine." He reassured her briskly. He put a special emphasis on his next three words. "Go back inside."
He still would not look at her. And he was still ensconced in the cold comfort of his corner. He shifted his head slightly and Tohru could see silent tears tracking down his face by the faint glow of the moon and stars. Her resolve hardened. She would not leave Hatori to cry alone in the dark.
"Hatori-san" she said for the third time, her voice firm yet very gentle.
"Please Tohru!" There was a soft note of desperation underlying the harshness of his voice. Tohru flinched from the tone of his voice. He never looked at her but he must have somehow sensed her movement because he tried to moderate his tone for her. He was not particularly successful. "Please... Please go inside. I'll... I'll be fine."
She studied him for a long moment. Despite everything, he still had not moved anything except for his head. And he still refused to so much as look in her direction. Finally she spoke; her voice was soft and warm with love and compassion. All of it was directed toward Hatori.
"I cannot leave Hatori-san alone in the dark. I care too much about him to leave him alone when he seems so sad. If he would let me, I would hold him against his sorrow. Hatori-san would not have to tell me what has happened. I would be content to be near him."
Hatori's head jerked up, longing and pain, desperate hope and denial mixing on his face.
"The curse, Tohru-kun."
His voice was dull.
Tohru's heart constricted even as she took the few remaining steps until she was standing at the foot of the bench.
"I could hold you without setting off the curse, Hatori-san."
He was still for a moment more. Then he unfolded himself from his corner and slowly, clumsily, crawled down the length of the bench, towards Tohru. Tendrils of his long hair hung in his face; his good eye was fixed on her despite the locks of his hair. As he drew nearer, Tohru saw the silvery tracks on his face. He had never truly stopped crying. Not even while they spoke to one another.
When he reached the edge of the bench, he sat on his knees, looking unsure. Tohru leaned closer and tugged at his knees, wordlessly telling him to sit facing her. Sliding around on the bench, he moved so that he sat on the end of it, his feet planted on the deck. On one side was the side of the table, on the other, the back of the bench. And in front of him was Tohru.
Tohru who opened her arms and pulled him close to her. Tohru who's abdomen he found his face pressed into, her arms around his shoulders. He sagged against her, his arms coming up and around her hips. His lower legs were all but twined with hers they were so close together. And yet, his upper body was safely out of contact with hers. He would remain in his human form.
Tohru felt him stiffen against her as his harsh sobs began once again, this time muffled against her body instead of his knees.
"Shhhhhh... It's all right to cry Hatori-san. Don't be afraid. Everyone cries and everyone needs to be held. It doesn't make you any less than you are, or any weaker, that you want to be held while you cry. You are still Hatori-san. I will always like you, just the way you are. I will always hold you when you need to be held."
He began to cry again in earnest, his arms tightening almost painfully around her. Tohru made no complaint. Instead, she tightened her arms around his shoulders and soothingly ran the fingers of one hand through the hair at the back of his head.
Hatori cried for a long time. Even after he stopped crying, he stayed where he was, his face pressed into her abdomen, his arms tightly wrapped around her hips. Tohru never let go of him.
Finally, in the wee hours of the day, as the world began to sleepily shift in anticipation of a new day and the darkness became just a little less dark, Hatori shifted slightly, his arms loosening just a bit. Following his silent lead, Tohru loosened her grip on him. She looked down at him, searching his tear-ravaged face. But Hatori caught her gaze for less than a fraction of a second before he looked away, his gaze skittering from the wet spot on her pajamas to the deck beneath his feet. His arms dropped from her hips completely.
Tohru let go of his shoulders. Instead she moved her hands so that they captured his. Hatori gave a tiny start of surprise. Tohru tugged on his hands and obediently he stood. When she shifted her grip so that she only held one hand in his, he took the opportunity to swipe certain photos off of the table. Tohru pretended not to see the movement as she led him into the house. She never let go of his hand as she led him to the kitchen. With her free hand, she gestured for him to sit down in a chair in the kitchen. Then she left him, moving about the kitchen with a quiet confidence. Soon, she presented him with a mug of hot chocolate complete with tiny marshmallows.
They sat in silence as they drank their respective hot chocolates. Then she put the mugs in the sink along with her used water cup, forgotten on the counter a lifetime ago, and returned to take Hatori's hand again. Tohru tugged him out of his seat, then walked him upstairs and to his bedroom door.
"We should brush our teeth" Hatori said at last, his voice low and hoarse. "That hot chocolate will be bad for them."
Tohru smiled gently. "We could skip it. Just this once."
Hatori was silent again for a moment. Then nodded.
"Just this once."
He seemed reluctant to let go of her hand, lingering in the hallway for long moments. Then, with a soft sigh, he let her go as he opened the door to his room. He gave her a serious look from the doorway to his bedroom.
"Tohru I -"
But this time, she interrupted him.
"Good night, Hatori-san."
And with that, she turned and walked away, headed down the hallway towards her own room. She felt his eyes watching her until she slipped into her own room; heard the soft click of Hatori's door shutting only after she was out of his line of sight.
Tohru carefully rearranged her covers then slipped into bed.
She slept late the next day.
Hatori slept even later.