Disclaimer: I do not own Fruits Basket or its characters. It belongs to Takaya Natsuki. Nor do I own the lyrics to "Haunt Me" they are property of Sade
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I LOVE YOU
Chapter Twenty: Haunt Me
EARLIER THAT DAY, SOMEWHERE DEEP IN THE WOODS...
"Kyo, dinner is ready." She said softly as she peeked into the small room, which served as both bedroom and, with the bed pushed aside, a makeshift dojo. "Oh, I'm sorry. I see that your training isn't finished yet. It's 6 o'clock, you're usually done by now, I didn't mean to interrupt."
"It's all right, Tohru." I told her with a smile and stared up from the spot on the floor where I had been meditating about her. "I'm almost done. I'll be there soon."
"Are you sure? I can keep your dinner warm if you need more time." She offered, and I shook my head and stood up.
"No, I'm coming." I told her and bent to shove the bed back into its proper place. "Let me wash my hands and I'll be right with you."
"Okay," she said, "then I'll wait to eat with you." Pulling away from the doorjamb she was leaning on, she smiled faintly and disappeared down the short hallway leading to our kitchen.
Walking to the bathroom, I turned on the tap, picked up a small bar of soap, and quickly washed my hands while staring into the cracked bathroom mirror and hating the person I saw staring back. 'You're worthless,' I told myself. 'You shouldn't have allowed this to happen, allowed her to be locked up like this... if you'd been thinking about someone besides yourself....' Shutting the bathroom door, I lowered myself down to sit on the yellowed edge of the ancient tub. "Tohru," I whispered, and closed my eyes. "I love you, why couldn't that just have been enough?"
The night that Kureno had pulled me from my bed and brought me here, to this tiny run down cottage in the woods, I hadn't fought him. The way I figured it, my life was shit anyway, so it didn't really matter if I spent what was left of it lying on Shigure's rooftop or locked up alone in the woods.
As it turned out, I wasn't going to be alone, a fact that I found at first confusing and later very comforting. Even when I learned that Tohru's single reason for being here was to protect Yuki, and not out of any particular fondness for me, I didn't mind. I was only glad that she was here. To me she was hope.
During those long, painful months that I had been apart from her, I had dreamed of this, of being alone with her somewhere that no one, not even the rat, could come between us. It was something that my master once said, "Dreams should stay as dreams. You should never wish them true, because the reality will never compare." I didn't understand at the time what he meant, but now I understand completely, because although Yuki can no longer physically come between us, his memory can....
In my dreams
If you please
Your breath is with me now and always
It's like a breeze
She was sitting at the table with her back to me when I entered the kitchen. I stood back for a moment, noticing the way she stared despondently straight ahead at nothing in particular. 'This is how she is when she thinks she's alone,' I realized without surprise and made a noisy show of clearing my throat. Snapping out of her daze, she turned her head towards me and smiled weakly.
"What's for dinner?" I asked as I dropped down in the empty seat across from her and stared into her vacant, dark rimmed eyes.
"Well, ah, I'm sorry but it's instant ramen again." She apologized, and I inwardly cursed Kureno for the chicken shit ass that he was.
"I thought he was supposed to bring some real food..." I started to complain then caught myself. It wasn't Tohru's fault that we didn't have decent food, and I sure in the hell shouldn't be taking it out on her. Me bitching about petty little things was the last thing that she needed right now.
"I'm sorry, Kyo. Kureno said he'd go to the market. He promised and I'm sure he will soon, but until then...." She said guiltily and turned away to hide the fact that her blue eyes were gradually filling with tears... again.
"You don't need to apologize," I told her while looking distastefully at the bowl of instant crap in front of me. "It isn't your fault. It's that bastard Kureno's."
"There are also some frozen meals, if you'd like I could make one of those for you instead," Tohru offered.
"Don't worry about it, I like ramen," I lied. Turning to me, she stared skeptically into my eyes for a moment then shook her head while re-mustering that phony little smile to sit upon her weary lips.
"I know that isn't really true, Kyo." She informed me, and started to stand in order to prepare a second dinner for me.
"No, it is. It's true, really, so sit back down!" I insisted. Picking up the bowl of hot and overly salty ramen, I sipped it. "Mm, that's so good." I said unconvincingly and was happy when her eyes lit up momentarily.
"You're a terrible liar, Kyo." She told me, but dropped back down in the seat across from me.
"Let's just eat, okay." I said to her. Looking over at me, she nodded and picked up her chopsticks.
"To be honest, Kyo, I'm not really that hungry tonight. I guess I must still be full from lunch." She told me, stirring her soup briefly before placing the chopsticks back on the table and staring down at the warped wooden floor.
"You didn't really eat anything at lunch either, Tohru. I know because I watched." I admitted and she gazed over at me uneasily.
"I... didn't? I'm sorry, Kyo, I guess I forgot." She blatantly lied to me, and I frowned at her disapprovingly. "You're right, then, I'd better eat something," she decided. Picking up a single dried carrot with her chopsticks, she forced it to her lips and chewed slowly.
For the next fifteen minutes I sat, silently observing her as she picked uninterestedly at the bowl of ramen in front of her while staring into space. The simple truth was that as much as I adored her, I was finding it difficult to tolerate the withered, spiritless girl she had somehow become. Seeing her this way worried me greatly, but it also pissed me off. I was furious that she was lying to me, that she was keeping her pain hidden away. I wanted to help her, but I couldn't, because she wouldn't allow it.
Moreover, I felt as if she were treating me like a stranger, like someone who shouldn't be trusted. Didn't she understand that I was the person who loved her so wholly that he had turned his back on her to allow her the freedom to be with another? Not just another, my rival. "If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it's yours forever," my master's other favorite saying. The one I had listened to, had believed in, the reason I had backed down and allowed the fucking rat to have her... and now she's back, so she should be mine, but....
"This is bullshit!" I decided at last and stood up from the table. "You can't continue like this, Tohru. You've lost too much weight and you're not sleeping enough. I don't mean to sound cruel, but you look like shit."
"I... I don't know what you're talking about, Kyo." She said sweetly, and grinned up at me. "You don't need to worry about me. I'm fine."
"If you're fine, then why won't you eat?" I challenged her, and grinned back at her using the same fake ass smile that she was gracing me with.
"Um... I don't know. I guess, maybe, like you, I'm a little tired of convenience foods." She mumbled.
"Oh really?" I asked, and marched over to the silverware drawer where I pulled out a large serving spoon. Then I went to the refrigerator, pulled open the freezer door and grabbed a gallon of chocolate ice cream. Returning to the table, I pulled the top off the ice cream, tossing it like a Frisbee across the kitchen, and plopped the entire gallon on the table in front of Tohru, holding the serving spoon out to her.
"Use this, and eat!" I said firmly, and she stared up at me in shock. "I seem to remember that you love chocolate ice cream, so can the excuses."
"But that spoon, it's for serving...." She started, and I grabbed her by the hand and shoved the spoon between her fingers.
"Either you do it on your own, and eat every single bite, or so help me I will force it down your throat." I threatened, and watched as she lifted the large spoon and stared at it for a moment. "Besides, I hear ice cream is a good cure for a broken heart, and while you eat, we are going to talk."
"Talk?" She wondered as she used the giant spoon to scoop up a tiny bit of ice cream and place it on her tongue.
"Yes, talk," I said while returning to my seat. "We are locked up, Tohru. This place is basically a fucking prison, in case you haven't noticed."
"I've noticed." She said absentmindedly while taking another, larger bite of ice cream. "But once Kureno goes to the market, he'll get food and cleaning products, and we can make this place like a home... we can...."
"Stop it, Tohru... stop pretending this is normal. Do you think I'm stupid?" I asked.
"No... of course not," she answered through a mouthful of ice cream.
"You're depressed, Tohru, I know this for a fact. I know, because I've been there. You rarely eat, you hardly sleep, and when you do you have nightmares. So what? You want me to pretend like you're all right... like that bastard Yuki hasn't broken your heart into bits? Well guess what, Tohru, I refuse. So cut it the fuck out!"
"Don't call him that!" Tohru said defensively while her blue eyes sparked angrily and her hand pulled back like she wanted to punch me, only she didn't have the guts. 'Good!' I thought to myself. 'Get mad and take it out on me. Hit me, beat the crap out of me if you want, but get it the hell out of your system before this it destroys you completely!'
"As far as I'm concerned, Yuki is the worst type of bastard for causing you this pain." I continued, trying to egg her on. "He's just a selfish little son of a bitch, and you're too damn good for him."
"You're wrong, Kyo." She said irritably, and threw the ice cream covered spoon across the table at me. It smacked me in the shoulder, dropped down into my lap, and landed on the floor. "You don't even know what you're talking about."
"And another thing, Tohru," I went on, ignoring the feel of cold, wet ice cream soaking into my crotch. "You don't have to keep the fact that you're hurting over that damn rat a secret anymore, because I'm not blind, I know!" Reaching down, I pulled the spoon up off the floor, wiped it off on a napkin, filled it with ice cream, and held it to her lips.
"This isn't Yuki's fault!" She said and smacked the spoon away, covering the table with chocolate ice cream.
"I didn't say it was." I told her, more gently this time. "I'm just saying that I'm here for you. Damn it, Tohru, I understand, I know that you love that damn Yuki, and I also know that being apart from him is ruining you, you don't need to hide it anymore." Refilling the spoon, I lifted it to her lips and waited until she opened her mouth and allowed some ice cream inside. "And another thing, last summer, that thing between us, I was an asshole. You didn't deserve that. I should never have treated you that way."
"Kyo, you weren't an asshole!" She insisted, and then pulled the spoon from my fingers, scooped up some ice cream, and held it out towards me, offering me some.
"Yeah, Tohru, I was, but that isn't what's important right now." I said, taking the bite of ice cream she offered and savoring its sweetness momentarily before moving on. "What is important is that no matter how I've acted in the past, I'm still your friend. You can talk to me about it, about Yuki, if you want. Ah... actually, even if you don't, I'd like to talk about it, okay? I need to know what's going on with you, and why you're really here. Why in the hell did Akito lock you up, anyway? I need to hear the truth because it's driving me crazy. I can't stand being unable to help you feel better, especially after all the times that you've helped me... please Tohru, I really need to know."
'I think that must be more than I've ever said, at one time, in my entire life.' I thought to myself uncomfortably as I took another bite of ice cream while waiting for Tohru to be ready to speak.
"I'm the one to blame." She said quietly, and then leaned over the table as far as she could without falling into my soup and added in the tiniest whisper, "It's my fault that you were locked up here, and it's my fault that Yuki is with that... that... monster."
"That's not true, Tohru. If anything it's my fault that I'm here," I assured her. "Akito has been threatening to lock me up for years, but he allowed me my freedom on the condition that I stayed in school and behaved myself... but I stopped behaving."
"No, Kyo." Tohru whispered, while shaking her head aggressively from side to side. "It wasn't you who stopped behaving, it was me. Akito warned me. Over and over again for the last nine months he's warned me. He told me if I ever went against him again, he would lock you up and he would make Yuki move back to the main house. That he would... Kyo, Yuki's in danger, and it's all because of me!" Standing up so quickly that it knocked the tub of ice cream off the table, she rushed out of the kitchen and down the hall to the bedroom.
"TOHRU!" I called after her, "YUKI CAN FUCKING TAKE CARE OF HIMSELF! It's you that I'm worried about."
So should you ever doubt me
If it's help that you need
Never dare to doubt me
She was laying face down on our bed, bawling her eyes out, when I entered the room. 'Well, at least she isn't hiding it anymore,' I thought to myself while walking over and sitting beside her.
"It isn't your fault that I got locked up, Tohru," I told her gently. "And even if it was, I've already forgiven you, I'd always forgive you."
"But Yuki," she wept into her pillow.
"And I know that Yuki will too, because he loves you, Tohru. Yuki loves you."
"No, Kyo, you don't know what I've done. You have no idea." She cried softly while pulling herself up to sit beside me, and continuing in a low voice. "Akito told me last summer that if I ever slept with Yuki, he would know, and Yuki would be punished just as I was punished. He claimed that Yuki was born to be his lover, that their souls were connected, and that Yuki belonged only to him, but do you know what, Kyo? I didn't care... I wanted Yuki, and I didn't care. I knew that Akito would feel it, would feel every moment of it, but I did it anyway. I was so stupid, Kyo, and reckless, and now... and now Yuki...."
"Yuki will be all right, Tohru." I assured her while my mind and my heart digested everything I had just heard.
"You can't know that, Kyo." Tohru hissed into my ear. "You have no idea what that animal is capable of, what he did to me... what he could be doing to Yuki right now!"
"Then tell me." I said too loudly, and then chastised myself for my temper. Inside of me, it was all starting to come together... 'Akito told me, last summer'....
"Please, Tohru, tell me what happened, what did that bastard Akito do?" I asked calmly, although my insides were churning with rage. ...'It wasn't you who stopped behaving, it was me'....
"I can't." She whispered while mindlessly digging her fingernails into my arm. "If I tell you, he'll know." ...'Yuki would be punished, just as I was punished.'....
"It's okay, Tohru." I said, while placing my hand over hers and squeezing it tenderly. "You don't need to say it, I think I already know. It was that time last summer, wasn't it? You said you got hurt at work, but I felt certain that you were lying about that. I can't believe we were all too stupid to figure it out. Akito did that to you, didn't he?"
"Yes." She whispered, and my body exploded with fury as I remembered how she looked back then. He had beaten her up so badly, both her body and her face... and scared; she was scared too, wasn't she? She must have been scared out of her mind, and I didn't know... that was exactly when I stopped being her friend.... How could I be such a moron?
"I'll kill that bastard." I vowed, and stood up.
"Don't, Kyo," she whispered. Grabbing my hand, she pulled me back down. "Please stay here with me.... Stay by my side tonight. I wish that you could hold m-" and then she stopped and shook that notion from her head. "I'm sorry." She said softly, and gently squeezed my hand.
Without thinking, without caring, I reached down and pulled her into my arms. For a second I was immersed in the feeling of her, in her warmth, her scent, and her pain, and then, of course, I transformed, but I wasn't about to let her go. I held her, my paws wrapped tightly around her neck, my tongue licking soft kisses at the tears, which were falling unchecked down her cheeks. After a while, she laid back on the bed, cuddling me tightly to her chest and closing her eyes. Laying my head against her shoulder, I listened carefully to the sound of her heart.
And if you want to sleep
I'll be quiet
Like an angel
As quiet as your soul could be
If you only knew
You had a friend like me
So should you ever doubt me
If it's help that you need
Never dare to doubt me
"Kyo," she said sleepily, just as I was about to drift off.
"Huh?" I mumbled wearily back.
"Do you think he's safe? Kyo, you don't think that Akito will... rape Yuki, too, do you?"
"What?" I screamed myself awake, and she opened her eyes and looked at me in confusion. 'I couldn't have heard her right... sure Akito was a psychopath, he was a pervert and a sadistic prick... but a rapist?'
"Tohru? Did you just say rape? That Akito raped you?"
"Kyo?" She whispered, still on the verge of sleep, but waking quickly. "But I thought you said that you knew?"
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