Everyone has their own inner-demon to conquer. Some of them are just easier to see. Can Kyou overtake his past to start anew with Tohru?
whispered voices at my ear.
death before my eyes.
lying next to me, I fear.
she beckons me.
shall I give in?
upon my end, shall I begin
forsaking all I've fallen for?
I rise to meet my end.
save me from evil, save me from danger!
Maybe that was all that I wanted all along. Someone to save me from myself, that creature that lives inside of me. Someone to tell me, "Hey, Kyou, don't worry. It's not your fault." Right? It seems like such a simple thing, but being the shunned Cat, it's a little tough to get even that.
Whenever I'm at the dojo, I feel a little calmer. I just concentrate on sparring, deciding the pattern of my movements against my opponent until the pattern becomes engraved into my mind. The movements of my arms and legs become more than instinct as I study with Shishou. Still angry, but not as much.
I want to become strong. To beat the damn Rat, if that is even possible. Yeah, yeah, so the Cat always loses to the cunning Rat in the folklore of the Zodiac, but the life cycles of my family's life can't just be limited to happenings in a dumb old story. The Cat has just got to show that Rat up once, come out on top, and that would be that. The Cat would have its place in the Zodiac too, and who knows what else could happen after that.
I've been practising martial arts for as long as I can remember. I started when I was real young, and I was pretty good. I still am. But still not as good as that mousey Yuki. I remember, I got involved in martial arts first, since my 'father' is the teacher at the dojo, you know. Then, my cousin Haru got involved too. He's got anger issues that he still has to work out to this day. I had to help him all the time back then, 'cause he just wasn't good at the battle stances. He was a useless opponent until he was older, and instructing him was hard since he'd strangle you with rage if you pressed his buttons too much.
But of course, if it can get any worse, it does. And it did. If dealing with Haru wasn't enough, two other cousins also got involved. Kagura and Yuki. They both annoyed the hell out of me. Wait, they still do. Heh. Kagura is just so damn pushy; she's still convinced we're gunna get married one day. When I got partnered up with her, she always seemed to win by trying to kiss me, and then demolishing me to within an inch of my life when I don't respond the way she wants me to. It just wasn't fair, that's not martial arts! That's a foul way to win a fight, and she knows it. On the other hand, my enemy since birth, Yuki, was a formidable opponent. Why wouldn't he be? He's the perfect one, no one could compare him to anyone else, it was like apples and oranges. Actually, no, people did compare him to me! I was treated like dirt thanks to him and his princely merits.
I couldn't wait to be out of the main estate. It's hard to stay sane in a place where you know you don't belong, even if I did have Shishou who accepted me. If you were tricked out of going to a stupid banquet and you've got an abnormal condition where you morph into a cat every now and then, you'd know what I mean. It's like being stuck in a boat without any oars in the middle of the ocean. You just have to drift with the current, or swim against it and make your own waves, risking death. What a choice.
Sure, I got to 'escape' for a while, even if it was only temporary. I spent about four months out training in the mountains. That was the life, being your own person out in the middle of nowhere. You can talk out loud and know that there is nothing listening but worthless fuzzy squirrels who are too dumb to do anything but dig up and re-bury nuts all day. Although, I guess that I seemed just as dumb to them; I mean, I spent my days kicking and punching air, for God's sake.
It was kind of lonely, though it was great to get away from the stares of the people at the main house. There were so many expectations there.
'Course, it couldn't last forever. I skipped out on my lessons to train by myself, falling behind in my schoolwork. I thought that nothing mattered, so I didn't even check in with anyone to tell them where I had gone. I sure as hell didn't bump into any 'Sohma Search Parties' or anything like that, so I highly doubt that anyone really cared that I was gone. I'll bet they were glad to be rid of me, wondering if another child with the curse of the Cat would be born if I had somehow died fighting a big ol' bear or something. They all probably thought that at one point. But there was still that one little thing that I had to go back for. I still needed to fight the damn Rat, that was what all the training was for in the first place. To beat him, to gain my proper seat as a part of the family.
Even with my life dedicated to training, I couldn't do it. I came and found out that Yuki had moved in to Shigure's house; he couldn't handle being so close to the head of the family, Akito, either. At least he had that one weakness that could be exploited. Well, he had another weakness too, but I know I have the exact same flaw. Honda Tohru.
I'm not really sure how it happened, or how she was accepted into their home, but there she was. She was just the girl with no parents who lived in the spare bedroom upstairs in exchange for doing the housework for us. I didn't really get it. It seemed odd that a complete outsider was allowed to live there when I had a hard enough time staying around at the main estate as a relative. Maybe you could call that jealousy. But I learned something. She was an outsider too, her living family didn't want her to live with them, just like mine didn't want me. I grew protective of her; she was so dumb and oblivious to things going around her at times. I won't be surprised if someone does end up kidnapping her one of these days, and I'll have to go and bring her back home. I can do that, yeah. Just for her though, I wouldn't go to the trouble of saving anyone else. You and I both you that I wouldn't mind if someone would kidnap that Yuki.
I know one of these days Yuki's going to confess to her. I know he feels the same way I do about her. It's one of those unspoken challenges between us, we know there is a lot of tension building because of it. Though, I would rather lose a million fights than lose this prize. It would be worth it.
The bracelet around my wrist holds my true side back. I knew it was bound to happen again one day, the bracelet being removed, but I didn't think it would happen at the hands of my very own father! Kazuma-sensei. Shishou. Otou-san. I guess he thought it was for my own good.
Yeah, well. So much for that.
He's the reason I'm here today. Secluded in the solitude of the woods.
I'm alone now, running through the forest in this unfamiliar body. It's pretty much silent out here, except for the raindrops splattering against the trees and the ground and the frenzied thrashings of the wind.
What is there to do? Nothing but to trudge on in this dreary weather; rain always makes me feel like I'm in a daze and completely out of it. I can't concentrate on anything except for the thoughts of the fear I invoked in /her/. I know she saw me as Shishou took my bracelet. I just know it. She knows the real me, and she won't be able to see past it.
I'm a monster.
The forest is so deep and dense, I never really noticed it before. It's so foreign compared to the mountains where I stayed for so long, much darker. There is nothing here to distract me from my thoughts. Not even the annoying fluttering of bird wings. I miss it. I should be able to focus and will it all away, but I can't. I can't. I can't do it anymore!
I want someone to come and find me, for them to say, "Kyou, I'm here. It's all over now." I'm driving myself into madness, I can tell. There's nothing to do but scream.
I'm trying to run away and hide in these woods, but I'm not doing well. I can't escape. I can hear Tohru's voice calling out my name. She wouldn't be able to say the words I desperately wanted to hear, not after she sees what I've become. I'm a fool.
I can't run anymore, my legs won't take me any further. I collapse on the ground, breathing heavily in the clearing. I can hear footsteps but I don't make any movements to run. I just wait to see what is coming for me. Maybe Shishou realized I was doomed and was finally coming with my bracelet.
No, it isn't Shishou. I see her form coming towards me, the shock registering on her features. The person I love most, the fear showing in her moist eyes. She stops walking, standing among the drenched wildflowers, her hair sopping wet against her face. Somehow she is still beautiful in her own way, even in her state of distress. How does she always manage that?
I can't ignore the fright that is radiating from her every pore. She hates me, I know it. She's scared of me, she fears me.
I cover my eyes with my massive paw-like hands, I didn't want to face her questions caused that pity I know she must feel for me. I know she's still standing there, waiting for me to look up.
Through a gap between my clawed fingers, I watch her. She seems uncertain, taking small measured steps towards me, scrupulously watching her footing. My eyes lose their focus on her image; now all I can see is the form of my mother. I can feel my vision clouding over, my body feeling heavier with each passing second. My head is throbbing. I don't want my mother standing there in front of me smiling as if nothing has happened since -
- since /then/.
I remember her asking me about every hour to see my wrist. She had to see, to make sure that I was still in my normal form. Whenever she called me over, I knew what she wanted to see. She didn't trust me, she feared the monster contained within me would appear at any moment. I couldn't go outside, I always had to be in her sight, or at least be with someone who knew my true curse. I was her nightmare, and she became mine.
I came home from school one day feeling low after being made fun of for my hair colour. Again. It was always the same, but I still wasn't used to it. The house seemed empty; I was usually greeted with her automatically spewed demand: "Let me see your wrist." That day, to my surprise, there was no response to my announcement, "I'm home."
It was weird. I walked through the hallway and peeked my head into the common room. The television was left on. Black and white static flickered on the screen; she must have been watching a movie but didn't press the stop button on the remote control after it finished. I ignored it and continued my search.
I continued on into the kitchen and finally I had found her. She was slumped back in her chair, her eyes still open. Her unmoving pupils were haunting, I will never forget it. I stared, my mouth falling open. "Mom?" In front of her sat a box of tissues, a family photo album and a spilt cup of tea. I dipped a finger in the liquid which had spread over the table. It was still warm.
I stepped back from my mother, I couldn't look at her anymore. Why wasn't she moving? Living people move and breathe. I ran to the neighbours' house, also members of the Sohma family, and they took care of the rest.
She was dead, they told me. She had taken something with her tea, an overdose of prescription medication that take her life away. I was a burden to her, her dreams of having a wonderful child destroyed the moment she held me in her arms for the first time. I transformed into the Cat. I can't say I'm sorry for being me, I can't help being cursed! It hurts. Mom didn't want to stay with me forever.
"Why don't you cry, Kyou-san?"
'Mom always said to be strong whenever I feel down. I've got to be strong now. Prove my strength...'
"What a ghastly child, doesn't he even mourn his mother's death? A devil..."
'Shut up! You don't know what I'm feeling inside! Go away!'
"They say she took her own life to escape from him. Why would anyone ever take him in? They'd be a fool to adopt that cursed little one. He should be put into confinement straightaway like in the old days, rather than waiting for him to be a man. Why do they give him this tempting taste of freedom?"
'Why do you all talk so much? All I can do now is walk away. Must be strong. I must be powerful, forceful, furious. Whatever it'll take to rid my senses of all this madness -'
"Kyou-kun?" The voice still has a sweet edge to it, even though she is deathly afraid. My eyes clench closed for a minute, and when I open them, Mom is still standing there. A crystalline vision of Tohru flutters in her place every couple of seconds, but all I can see is Mom. My mind is confusing me. It hurts.
"Kyou-kun, let's go home, okay?" The unsure voice implores, coming closer. She reaches out on arm towards me, and I immediately swat it away, hard. All I can think about is the one time I went to my ''home', when the person waiting for me was dead, leaving me alone in the world. Damn her, she wasn't coming close to me again. It was too late, and I would never forgive her. I can't let it go.
"It's alright now. I don't care what you look like, because I know that Kyou-kun is still inside." She held onto her arm, covering a bruise forming where I had hit her. The words seem to change their form as they enter my ears: "I love Kyou-chan the most. I'm proud to have him as my son. I'll never let anyone take you away from me. I don't want to have to share you!"
My hands leave my eyes again and a grumble sounds from within me. Mom always said that, I know. That she doesn't care if there is another side to me, but she always had to check. That's why...I am doing this now.
I didn't want to see her! I turn away, taking a few steps in the direction of safety, those gnarled trees where she would never find me again. I can't let mother haunt me any longer; I start to run.
That voice of Tohru's again, sounding so anguished, like she'd been crying or something, "Please, Kyou-kun! Don't run away!" Why did her voice come out of Mom's body? "I...I don't want you to go...please? Please stay with me, no matter what. Ne, Kyou-kun?" But following Tohru's prepossessing voice, I can hear a strange echoed distortion. "Please, get away from the windows, Kyou-chan! Kyou, get away from that door! You're not allowed to go out there! Why don't you see what you're putting me through? I...I don't want you to go...please? Please, Kyou-chan!" Back to that calming voice again, "I'm here now, Kyou. It's over. Just take my hand, don't run away."
Over and over. Repeating endlessly. I want that one reverberating voice to stop its echo, right away. Again, that image of my mother is coming closer and closer to me, trying to make me lose my mind so I'll give her the forgiveness she craves. I know that she wanted one that one thing, I've been told many times by so many people who think that they know everything about our 'situation.' She wanted to be seen as a good mother. I will never give her that satisfaction! Surely, Mom must be using Tohru's voice to try to fool me. That must be it, because Tohru would never come to me like this...I just know it would never happen.
I hear her footsteps racing alongside mine, somehow catching up to me. I am supposed to be stronger, more stable, and even more agile in this form; what is happening to me? Those sheltering trees somehow seem to be so far away, the sky is looming so low to the ground, and the short grasses blanketing the ground look so tall against my legs. My head hurt, and I realize that it is because of the rain. The rain was the Cat's destruction. Of course, it was that damn curse that always led me to my downfall! I am so much weaker and disoriented in the rain, it makes me so moody. I can't let Mom catch me. Keep running, keep running.
Some sort of low growing plant twisted on my foot and I fell clumsily to the ground, face first in the muck.
"Kyou-kun! Are you alr - ah!" I cut off her words right away, not wanting to hear one more word leave that woman's mouth. I swipe my paw across her, my nails scrape against the side of her face.
The profile of my mother seems to shatter before my eyes, pieces of her diminishing into thin air. In her stead was the girl I had vowed to not hurt.
The girl I had vowed to protect.
The girl who I love, my most important person.
I grow into a panic as I watch her crumble before me. She falls to her hands and knees, her eyes shut, tears gather and spill over.
I had vowed that I would never be the cause of her crying.
She lifted a hand to her face, then looked at her hand again, her eyes growing wide with shock. Her fingers dripped with her own blood. "Kyou-kun, I'm sorry," she mumbles to me, shaking her head. "I wasn't enough, I'm so sorry."
'Don't apologize, it's not your fault!' I want to yell, but of course I don't. The sound of her voice instilled something in me, I don't know. But whatever it was, it is making me more alert, more aware, more alive. I step forward and reach out to her.
Now I can see my arm is flesh coloured, human. I had returned to my own form, even without the bracelet.... "Tohru," I know I won't have much time. "We're going to go home, I'll take you home."
She's crying softly, her eyes are still closed. "Home..." Probably still in shock. "I'd love to go there with you," she tells me in a whisper, barely coherent. I lift her gingerly, guardedly taking her through the forest towards Shigure's house.
catch me as I fall. say you're here and it's all over now.
speaking to the atmosphere.
no one's here and I fall into myself.
this truth drive me into madness.
I know I can stop the pain if I will it all away.
don't turn away (don't give in to the pain).
don't try to hide (though they're screaming your name).
don't close your eyes (God knows what lies behind them).
don't turn out the light (never sleep, never die).
I'm frightened by what I see.
but somehow I know that there's much more to come.
immobilized by my fear and soon to be blinded by tears.
I can stop the pain if I will it all away.
she's saved him from evil, he'll saved her from danger! perhaps they could live happily ever after one day?
It was a gorgeously sunny day. But Kyou had no time to contemplate how wonderful the sun felt upon his skin as he briskly walked home from school. It was a Monday, only one day since the fated day had occurred. He wanted to get home as soon as possible. Tohru hadn't been able to come to school that day. Of course, he was all set to stay home with her (maybe even make her some leek soup, despite his scorn for the 'uncivilized' vegetable), but both he and Yuki had been convinced, after a long spiel by the ever so thoughtful Tohru, that they needed to go to school as much as possible so they'd be sure to graduate with high averages. They hadn't been persuaded too quickly, since Shigure would be the only one to take care of her. Both were still leery of leaving her alone with him, you know. Nevertheless, Kyou and Yuki were both eventually defeated and had gone to school like well-mannered little schoolboys.
Well, actually, they were quite the opposite of well-mannered at first; a fight had erupted between the two not far from the house, close enough for Shigure to yell that his little flower's life-threatening damages would worsen due to their negative behaviour. It had been quite a sight to see, both the rambunctious and polished youths coming to an unwilling truce.
It wasn't her injuries (or her, ahem, 'life-threatening damages') that worried Kyou at that moment. Hatori had come and examined Tohru the previous night, and he declared she was going to heal just fine.
So susceptible to colds, Tohru was, the little dear. She had acquired it from running out into the pouring rain after Kyou, without any suitable rain garments or proper shoes! Tut, tut.
As he made his way towards the house, he looked around quickly but carefully. There was no sign of Yuki, so that meant The Mission could be fulfilled. He crept towards the secret base, and quickly pulled out the plants of his nightmares: those horrendous leeks. As swiftly as he had infiltrated the base, he darted back to the house.
"I'm home," Kyou called out quietly, knowing that Tohru must still be asleep. As he entered, he noted the sweet smell of baked goods lingering in the air - had some miracle occurred enabling Shigure to cook? That couldn't be possible, it was just about as predictable as Ritsu becoming as confident as Ayame - it simply won't happen. He walked into the kitchen and ended up dropping his pile of leeks on the floor. "Tohru! What the hell are you doing?!"
Yes indeed, the supposedly sleeping Tohru was quite awake! There she was, kneeling by the table in thick winter pajamas, serving a piece of cake to a non-objecting Shigure. Being the poetic flirt Shigure was, he had been prattling lines of complementary prose from his perpetually creative mind.
"Ah, Kyou-kun! Welcome home!" She smiled, completely ignoring his less-then-happy entrance; she had grown so accustomed to his mood swings. "Would you like some cake? It's freshly baked."
"It's good, Kyou-kun," Shigure chimed, an exaggerated smile growing as he watched Kyou trying to control his temper. It was always so uproarious. He turned the page of the newspaper he was reading, now pretending not to be paying any attention to them.
"Tohru, what are you doing out of bed?" He repeated his concern. "You should be sleeping off your cold!"
"You don't need worry about me, I'm perfectly fine now!" she assured him, making a peace sign with her hand. Though she did look a lot healthier than this morning, you never knew with Tohru - she wouldn't want to worry everyone, and she always felt obligated to be taking care of the household and its occupants.
"I can't help worrying - and you know you shouldn't have made us a cake when you're supposed to be resting!" Kyou sat down at the table in front of any empty plate as she starting cutting him a piece, leaving the forgotten leeks on the floor for the moment. "And you, Shigure, letting her cook for you, jeez."
"I see you're not objecting that she's personally serving you eat a piece right now," Shigure huffed dramatically before stuffing another chunk of cake in his mouth.
"No, no, Shigure-san didn't ask me to do it. I just couldn't lie around in bed all day when you and Yuki-kun were working so hard. I only have a slight cough and the sniffles, so it's okay."
Kyou watched as she sliced one more piece of cake, placed it on a plate, and covered it with plastic wrap - it must have been set aside for Yuki, he deducted. She took it and the remaining portion of the cake to the refrigerator. He studied her for a moment. Something as simple as a cake made such an impact with Tohru - she created it with all that she had in order to share it with the ones she cared about. If that had been his mother, he was sure that she would have wanted to keep the cake a secret so that she could savour its delight on her own. Yes, Tohru wasn't like his mother at all. She truly cared about those around her.
Tohru stood up and pulled out a teacup from the cupboard and made a motion towards it for Kyou to see. After a wordless exchange between the two, she nodded and took out a second cup for him and busily started boiling some water. "And besides," she stated softly, "I wanted to make Kyou-kun something for coming home with me." Kyou looked up at her as she settled back down at the table as the water started to heat up. "I was very happy."
"Please stay with me, no matter what."
"You know... I was glad you came." He looked away, feeling suddenly self-conscious. How could he ever say what he wanted? He glanced at Shigure for a second, whose face was concealed behind his newspaper. "Thanks," he finally said, turning to meet Tohru's gaze.
"Please Kyou-kun, don't run away!"
His eyes must have conveyed more than his words, for she smiled brilliantly, her face almost overflowing with radiance. She was never more beautiful than right then, he decided, even with the bandages on her cheek and the strange fleece pajamas adorned with a rice ball design she was wearing. It didn't matter, because she was Tohru.
"I don't care what you look like, because I know that Kyou-kun is still inside."
Shigure lowered his newspaper, peeking over its edges to look at the two teenagers sitting across beside each other. They weren't saying a word, they were lost in their thoughts. Shigure returned the paper to its original position, a quirky grin hidden from the other members of the table. 'Ah, l'amour, l'amour!'
Tohru jumped up at the shrill sound of the teakettle, scurrying to fill her and Kyou's cups with the steaming hot liquid.
"Just take my hand, don't run away. It's all over."
Underneath the bandages Hatori had applied to her cheek, Tohru bore a scar that would be a constant reminder of what had happened that night, but she would never complain, because in gaining it, she had helped Kyou become free from himself and his past. Even if she had not been able to free the family from the curse that night, she knew that she had done something to help, and that in itself was enough to make her happy. She smiled at her reflection as she idly stirred her spoon in the tea she was preparing for Kyou. Her Kyou.
Yuki's voice shattered the starry-eyed atmosphere in the room. "My leeks!"
The colour faded from Kyou's face. 'Oh yeah, those damn leeks! There's always gotta be /something/, isn't there?'
Random Author Notes
1. This fan fiction was inspired by the song "Whisper" by Evanescence (hence why the lyrics were inserted as the prologue/interlude for the story. It is a truly enchanting song, so you should be sure to listen to it if you like that type of music.
2. The piece was separated into two halves, first with Kyou's personal reflection of his past and his encounter with Tohru after his transformation, and second with the story teller sort of feel to it. I tried really hard to make it dark, but then lightened the mood at the end. The huge contrast between the writing styles is completely intentional for effect. =D
3. This is the sort of feeling I was trying to accomplish in an older Fruits Basket piece. I really don't feel that I portrayed him very well in the first of the sixteen mini-chapters, so this would be an attempt to redeem myself.
4. And there was cake and boiling water symbolism. I like symbolism. XD Notice that I did not mention the water cooling, so we hopefully we won't have an end to their relationship in the future.