A series of Fruits Basket vignettes by Sakura
Standard disclaimers apply.
It was a little past midnight, and the last train of the day was a yellow streak in the dark, merrily making its way through town. Its cars were nearly empty save for some couples snuggled in window seats, weary salarymen snoring away under their hats --- and in one particular car, a girl and a boy standing rather stiffly by the window.
There was nothing out of the ordinary about the two; they looked like any other teenage couple on their way home. But if one looked closely, the boy appeared to be studying the scenery outside the window with unusually intense fascination, while the girl sighed from time to time and occasionally stared down at her feet.
The boy, you see, was not supposed to be on the train in the first place.
"Shigure-san will kill me," the girl moaned. In her distress she would have raised hands to cover her face, but she was holding on to the pole to keep her balance and would rather die than let go. "Shigure-san told me he didn't mind us arriving late, just as long as we stayed away from the train---"
The boy was staring at the sky.
"A real crowded, packed-with-females-of-all-ages-and-sizes train." The girl sighed again. "And I said yes, of course, and now here we are, on a train, at my suggestion---"
The boy's eyes softened as he spoke. "Don't worry about it too much, Honda-san. It'll take us too long to get home if we walked."
"Shigure won't know if we don't tell him anything, right?"
"Yuki-kun," the girl's brown eyes were wide with worry, "Shigure-san sniffs things out!"
The boy grinned, but the girl was too distraught to share his amusement. "One time he asked me where you kept sneaking off to before dinner, and I did my best to not tell him you were at the secret base taking care of the vegetables, but somehow he managed to get that out of me and now your secret base isn't secret anymore!"
"I told you, that's all right."
"And another time he managed to make me tell him what his birthday present was before we were even about to go out and buy it!"
"And what about the time he---"
"Honda-san." The boy reached out to close fingers around the girl's slender wrist to calm her down, and she instantly colored and sputtered into silence.
The train entered a tunnel, engulfing them in shadow. The fluorescent lights on the ceiling flickered as the boy finally sighed and shifted his hold on the girl's wrist, letting it fall a little so his thumb now grazed the inside of her palm. "I like the train, I think."
The girl blinked.
In their reflection in the train window, the boy's gaze met the girl's own. "I've never been on one before."
The girl's eyes widened.
"And I probably won't be able to ride again for a while. Maybe never." His tone turned a bit wistful. "But I'm glad I was able to find out what it's like, just this once."
Whoosh, went the train, emerging from the dusky tunnel. The pale slip of a moon finally appeared in the sky, but neither the boy nor the girl looked up at it. They were staring at each other in the window --- he slightly red-faced after his confession, and she looking surprised, then thoughtful, then determined.
"Let's ride again, then."
"We'll take the train again." Slowly, her fingers laced with his. "We'll take the train as often as you want, Yuki-kun."
The boy watched her for a while, then finally bowed his head in shy acquiescence. "…Un."
"However," the worried look returned to the girl's face, "if Shigure-san finds out, he'll be really really really angry with me, so we'll have to be very careful."
The boy's eyes shone with gratitude, even though she had given him nothing but the prospect of future train rides --- something trivial, something most people would not look forward to, but something real. A step closer to that world of normal, everyday people. His family would probably think him reckless --- and he was probably being very foolish about it, but she made him a promise.
And it was everything.
He gave her hand a little squeeze and she returned the favor, and they both smiled at their reflection in the glass.
[ 01 - O.Wa.Ri. ]