Disclaimer: Fruits Basket and all its characters are properties of Takaya Natsuki-sensei and Hana to Yume comics. Everything else in this fanfic are figments of my imagination. Any similarities to name, places, yada yada yada are simply examples of the world's many coincidental mysteries.
October 23, 2002 (revised Dec. 7, 2002)
Hyouhyou Kodori : Prologue
Twelve years past was the first and last
Do you remember? When we danced together?
You were but a child, untamed and wild
So we practiced in advance, we danced and we danced
Completely unaware, for nothing could prepare
How the heart swayed when the actual music played
I stopped and turned around, trying hard to keep a serious face over my bubbling amusement with the situation before me. Tooru-kun stopped on her tracks, for the hundreth time since we left Shi-chan's house. She wrung her hands together and gave me that hopeless look of uncertainty she makes when she's anxious. I couldn't help but let out another exasperated sigh, "Tooru-kun, how many times do we have to go through this?"
"I'm sorry. But are you sure, it's really okay? Are you sure I won't be a bother? Won't he get mad?" She continued on nervously
"Tooru-kun," I sighed once again as I crossed my arms and tapped my foot in mock impatience, "You have been living in the same house as Yun-chan since you were sixteen years old. You know him as well as I do. Most specially now."
I couldn't help but make an amused smile as I saw her bow her head shyly, a faint blush lighting her cheeks. It's been roughly nine years since Tooru-kun came into our lives. So much has changed these past years. Yet at the same time, there were still some things which remained exactly the same.
"You said yourself, that you wanted to see him dance, right?" I reminded her
"But… Kagura-san…" Tooru continued hesitantly, as she regained her composure, "The Jyuunishi dance… no outsider has ever seen it, right?"
Akito-san had finally grudgingly accepted the fact that Tooru-kun will always be a part of all our lives. Nevertheless, there are still some boundaries that Tooru-kun cannot cross. Though she can't watch the actual Jyuunishi New Year's Party dance, there was no rule against her not being to able to watch us practice, "Isn't that the reason why this is your chance?"
"But… this is so important to Yuki-kun… I don't want to be a trouble to him."
Her statement rang in my head and I couldn't help but wonder at the irony of the situation. The old Yun-chan I know couldn't care less about what happened in the Jyuunishi party. For as long as I could remember, Yun-chan only came because he had no choice. Though he would let us drag him along, Yun-chan's participation with anything we did was always of relative passivity. Never initiating anything, but doing everything that was expected of him. So it was a big shock when Yun-chan approached me and asked if it were possible for the both of us to practice for the dance at Shihan's doujou after work.
In fact, I still remember the first and the last time Yun-chan and I danced together twelve years ago this coming year. He was thirteen, and it was his first dance. He had the usual first-time jitters. Then again, Yun-chan was a completely a different person back then. Because of circumstances beyond anyone's control, the Yun-chan of the past was literally a timid little mouse. He faced his first Jyuunishi dance like a person about to endure a death sentence.
There really was no need to practice for the Jyuunishi dance since there were no pre-drawn steps to practice in the first place. Shi-chan actually encouraged me to coax Yun-chan into practicing with me more to ease his anxiety.
In full honesty, until then, Yun-chan wasn't a real person to me. He was always known as the "special one" of the Jyuunishi. The cunning mouse which caused Kyou-kun's grief all those years. Even though he still lived in the main house back then, I didn't really have a chance to get to see Yun-chan other than in the Jyuunishi party. Perhaps the gap in our ages was one of the reasons. But I think it was mainly because of the fact that he was ill and isolated from us most of the time.
Then, twelve years ago, little by little, I started to understand the situation. Little by little, I started to understand Yun-chan. Those times we spent together practicing in Shihan's doujou after the day's classes were done… I'd like to think that it was around that time with me that Yun-chan started to change. Twelve years can bring a lot of changes in a person.
At the moment, Tooru-kun was looking at me with those big worried eyes.
Now that I think about it, Tooru-kun was the real reason why Yun-chan started to change. Twelve years ago, Yun-chan only learned to overcome his timidity. It wasn't until Tooru-kun came into our lives that he really started to change.
These nine years also made me close to Tooru-kun. Close enough to share a very important secret.
That secret was the reason why this Year's New Year dance is very important to Yun-chan… to the both of them. Depending on which path the set of circumstances they were about to pursue will go, it could very well mean that this dance would be his last.
Yes, twelve years can change a person a lot.
The Yun-chan I know now overcame his timidity and found the courage to do anything for the young woman standing before me.
A small twinge of pain throbbed in my chest at that thought. Various emotions have been plaguing me like demons the past few weeks since that secret they shared with me. Fear. Happiness. Anxiety. Guilt. Shame…
I tried to shake those awful and hateful feelings away. Push them away. Exorcise those demons… but no matter how many times. No matter what I do… these feelings simply won't go away. It's strange, isn't it? Feeling that way toward the people you care about the most in the world.
It's not fair!
Don't I deserve to be happy too?
Why can't the person I love the most do that for me?
Why can't the person I love the most not love me like he loves her?
Why her and not me?
Why not me?
Tooru-kun continued to look at me with those big worried eyes.
It was enough to give me enough strength to completely push those sentiments away. I forced a big smile and took her hands into mine, "Ne, Tooru-kun… you know Yun-chan isn't the only one dancing this year. I'm dancing too! And I want you to be here to watch me practice. So if Yun-chan doesn't like it for some reason, I'll simply kick his ass."
Tooru-kun let out a nervous smile despite the visible bead of sweat appearing on her forehead, but it was enough uproot her feet from the ground… at least for the next five minutes. I can only hope that we would reach the doujou before then. I'm beginning to run out of guilt trip tactics to force her to move forward.
So, like two excited schoolgirls, we giggled and walked the rest of the way, hand-in-hand. But seeing Shihan's doujou in the near distance, I see myself being forced once again to look deep inside of my self. The same twelve years that changed Yun-chan has changed me as well… But unlike the salvation that Yun-chan has achieved, I find myself with a small metaphorical box.
Something I don't know is struggling to get out of that box…
…and it's frightening me.
TO BE CONTINUED…