AN: I first heard this song a long time ago, and I've been dying to do a fic for it. I tried about five different things before this finally worked! Yay! It's a great song, too. I don't own FB, and I definitely don't own this amazing song. The song is the property of Alan Menken, Tim Rice, and the late, great Howard Ashman (the guys who did Beauty and the Beast, just in case you didn't know).
If I Can't Love Her
It was the darkest part of the night. Neither moon nor stars were visible beneath the layer of thick, black clouds that had been draped across the sky. From that layer of clouds fell the rain.
It had been raining for quite some time now. The floor of the forest, usually plain dirt, was now a thick mud stew, waiting for some unfortunate soul to try and walk through it. The small creek that ran through the woods had swelled from the falling rain, rising almost the level of the makeshift bride—a log, actually—that crossed it.
The trees, too, had fallen prey to the storm's merciless power. Branches had fallen, landing haphazardly thrown about the forest floor. Leaves were thrown all over the place, in some areas like a thick carpet over the mud. Add this to the dark and the night, and it becomes one of the most depressing places and atmospheres imaginable.
Surprisingly enough, there was someone sitting in this forest in the rain and the night.
Near a lake, an extremely small body of water that had also risen somewhat from the heavy precipitation, a hunched figure sat in the rain. This lake was in a small clearing, so there were no trees or anything to offer any sort of protection from the storm.
At first glance, it appeared that the figure was extremely tall and extremely thin. But then the person—or rather, it—moved. And anyone who may have happened across this small clearing in the woods would have gotten an extremely nasty shock.
It was hideous, to say the least. Extremely tall, with long, gangly arms and legs, ending in large hands and feet with dangerous claws. The skin was brown, rough, wrinkled, and only served to enhance the disgusting appearance of the thing. Atop the long neck sat a head with a face that not even a mother could love, with dagger-sharp teeth, large, luminous purple eyes, and ears that more resembled a rabbit's than anything else. At the moment, it sat on a rock with its head so low that its forehead was in the mud.
It was pathetic and horrifying, both at the same time.
But had anyone stumbled across this creature by chance, he or she probably never would have realized that within that monster were a mind and a heart that were all too human.
And that was perhaps the greatest shock, had anyone realized the truth, that inside the form of that hideous beast was a sad, tortured young man.
I can't believe he did that to me, Kyou thought. He was bitter, tired, angry, sad, betrayed, and a whole mess of other emotions he couldn't even begin to name or classify. I can't believe he did that.
It replayed over and over in his mind, like a movie perpetually rewinding itself to play again on the movie screen of his memory. They were outside. An argument, culminating when Kazuma had forcibly pulled the bracelet from Kyou's wrist.
This was the result. This hideous monster
He didn't want to think about that right now. He just couldn't.
A voice came from somewhere, deep inside his haunted memory. It was a voice he had not heard for a long time, but it was one he both missed and despised.
"Kyou," it said softly. "Kyou, did Akito say something to you again?"
He flinched against the caring, loving tone of the voice.
"It's all right," the gentle female voice went on. "It's all right because I love you."
Kyou would have almost sworn that if he had lifted his head at that moment, he would have been six years old again; she would be standing there, wearing her spotless apron, one hand extended to lovingly stroke his fiery hair. A concerned half-smile would be on her face, and a few strands of her brown hair would hang over her eyes, just so.
That was how it always was. That was the look she always wore when she told him he couldn't go outside or pulled him away from the windows or gave him what small amounts of comfort she could after he had gone through some particularly painful experience, usually at the hands of the Head of the Family.
"It's all right. I love you," she said again. "I don't want anyone to see you. That's why I can't let you go outside. You're so adorable, I just want to keep you all to myself! It's all right, Kyou. It's all right because I love you."
"STOP!" he roared with both mind and voice, clasping his clawed hands over his ears in an attempt to block out the ghost from his past. Unfortunately, it was only one of many ghosts, and he had the feeling that, more likely than not, more of these faces would arise to haunt him before this ordeal could come to an end.
Suddenly, his instincts sent up red flags, and his head snapped up. He peered through the rain towards the spot where he could have sworn he had sensed something. A physical being should have been standing there.
But there was nothing. Just the rain striking the ground.
He slumped back down, letting himself fall further into the darkness around him and within him. It was just easier that way.
Why did she do that? Why? Was she that ashamed of him?
No…it wasn't his fault.
Even his own father had blamed him, though…
"It's not my fault," he was startled to realize he was saying it out loud, even though the creature's voice sounded more like screeching than words. "It's not my fault…"
Kyou blocked his mother from his mind, just as he had done so many times in the past. It was easier that way. It was easier to make himself forget than to try and live with it. It was that way with a lot of things for him.
But with that memory gone, the memory of what had transpired only a short time before came back to the front, once again replaying itself over and over again inside his mind.
But this time, one thing was far more clear.
She was standing there, with her umbrella over her head, staring at him with those lively blue eyes of hers. Eyes that were wide and frozen in shock and (he assumed) horror.
But then again, she had every right to be horrified, didn't she? She had every right and every reason to be afraid, to be disgusted. After all, she had seen it, his true form.
Truth be told, he probably would have been surprised if she hadn't been shocked, afraid, and disgusted. How could anyone not be after seeing…that?
And now he had lost her. He had known it was too good to be true.
Now all he was left with was that image, forever burned into his mind. He would never be able to get rid of that picture of her, standing the rain, staring at him. He was stuck with that awful image forever.
He tried to imagine what the rest of the family was doing right now. Everyone at the main house was probably safe inside, warm and dry, enjoying the comfort of home and the company of their loved ones. He could see the happy, glowing room, filled with love and happiness.
And just like always, he was outside, looking in.
Then he tried to imagine what was happening with the people currently residing at Shigure's house. Shigure, the damn rat, Kagura, Master…and Tohru.
They had to know what had happened. There was no way they could have NOT known. Well, the gods knew that all of them were probably inside, nice and dry. Shigure might be concerned, and only Heaven knew what Kazuma was thinking. Kagura would be waiting for him to come back so she could jump all over him, he assumed. And who cared about Yuki? The damn rat…
Kyou sighed. Why did it have to be like this? Everyone acted like it was his own fault that he had been born under the Curse of the Cat. How was it his fault? Had he chosen to take up the role of family scapegoat and general outcast? Had he been given a choice, it was definitely not a part he would have chosen to play.
But by comparison, he supposed he was lucky as far as the Cats went. He had been blessed to have someone in his life who actually gave a damn, a father figure. Kazuma. His sensei. He had grown up with a positive role model who cared. That was a million times more than others of the Zodiac curse had ever gotten, regardless of sign.
And what did he have to look forward to? A cage. Just one more aspect of the curse of the Zodiac Cat. It was to be his eighteenth birthday present—a nice room with bars.
Cats were never meant to be caged. They were meant to roam free, to explore, to stalk like the predators they were. And that was one respect in which Kyou was a complete fit to his cursed form. He didn't like walls and windows and ceilings. He needed fresh air, sunshine, wide spaces. He needed to move around and climb on things.
He needed to be free.
It wasn't fair. It just wasn't fair. But hey, that was life.
You live, you get screwed over in every possible way, maybe you get a chance at something good (if you're really, really lucky), and in the end, you die. You die alone and forgotten, locked up in a cage somewhere. That was what Kyou had learned of life.
He wondered where he could go. He could run away, far away, and live somewhere alone, where no one could ever find him and no one would ever see him. He could be free.
Wouldn't that be one in Akito's eye? he thought with just the barest hint of grim satisfaction. The Head of the Sohma family seemed to take a special delight in tormenting both Kyou and, strangely enough, Yuki. Of course, nearly every member of the Sohma family had fallen prey to Akito's sadistic whims at some point or another, but the Cat and the Rat, for some reason, seemed to be his favorite targets.
After all, hadn't it been such a shock when Tohru had been permitted to remain among the Sohmas in the first place?
His mind wandered back to her yet again. This time, though, he managed to keep that final image from his mind. Instead, he thought back to the…well, he loosely called them the better times. Some had been better, others had been more of the same.
That first meeting, when she had so gracefully tripped and fallen into him. He couldn't even remember if he had been angry or not. The way she always took care of everyone as though they were her own family. No matter how many new Sohmas showed up on the doorstep, transforming left and right, she barely flinched anymore. No matter how many times they transformed, she always went to get their clothes (and hurriedly turned her back when they would change back, blushing like crazy). No matter how many fights there were, she was always there to repair the door.
But that was Tohru Honda for you.
Kyou groaned and put his face in his hands. It really was hopeless.
She had actually given a damn. She had cared about him, for him, through his angry outbursts, his fights with Yuki, everything. Tohru had become the constant in his life, a life that was more often than not in flux. He had found someone, other than his Master, who he could find it in his bitter, broken heart to truly care about.
And now he had lost her. She had seen him for what he really was—or rather, what he thought he was. His true form. She was gone. He had lost her forever.
She would probably leave, and never come back. Not that he would blame her, of course. And that would be his fault. Everyone would blame him if Tohru left.
It was over. It had been a nice thing while it lasted, but to find acceptance was still a dream. He had been an idiot to dare to hope. It had been a lie, perhaps even an honest lie, but a lie nonetheless.
Hope was gone.
Kyou hadn't thought that his heart could break anymore than it already had in his life. But it shattered inside him yet again, this time not over betrayal or cruelty, but over loss. The loss of love.
His enormous ears—which were now even more sensitive to even the softest sounds—perked up suddenly. Ever fiber of his body went onto highest alert as his head snapped up and looked in the direction of the slight noise. His violet eyes stared through the rain, having absolutely no trouble seeing.
Someone was coming towards him in the rain.
He didn't even have to get a good look to know who it was.
Tohru was staggering towards him, head down, face hidden behind a curtain of long, chocolate-brown hair. Her skirt and top were soaked, and clung to her like a second skin. She was, surprisingly enough, not wearing shoes, and her socks, legs, and clothes were mud covered. This was another surprise, because he knew how much she disliked being dirty.
But the biggest surprise, for Kyou, was that she was here at all.
She had come after him.
Did that mean she…cared?
Wait. His mother had come after him before, pretending to care.
That's what this was.
Pretending to care.
Tohru didn't give a damn.
No one gave a damn.
He was the Cat, the freak, the outcast.
No one cared.
You too, he thought bitterly, digging his claws into the defenseless muddy ground. You, too.
With that unspoken accusation left hanging in the air, he spun to leave.
Better to flee than to hold onto false hope.
Better to leave than to have faith in a foolish dream.
Better to run away than continue living the lie.
AN: This is a one-shot. I am NOT doing another chapter. Everyone else knows what happened next. This was just an introspective Kyou fic.
I'm a terrible judge of my own work, so I really have no idea if this is any good or not. Feel free to tell me, but don't worry—I won't beg you to review. I may lock you up in my basement (yeah, right, I live in a freakin' dorm, I don't have a basement), tie you down, and tickle your feet by way of torture, and then leave you to a pack of rabid warthogs unless you agree to review. But I would never, ever beg.