Disclaimer: I don't own Fruits Basket or any of its characters, and I am making no profit off this fanfic.
Shigure watched as Yuki and Kyou began their long walk to school. He glanced back at Tohru, who was still getting ready. She had woken up late because of her new bad habit of staying up until early morning writing, and she had told the boys to go ahead without her. It didn't matter anyway. Shigure was driving in to speak with the teachers, and he offered to give her a lift. Upon arriving at school, Shigure was met with many curious gazes from the other Sohmas and other students in the hallways. Momiji was the first to approach him about his unexpected presence.
"Hi, Shigure! What're you doing here?" he asked with his usual cheerful smile. Shigure just shrugged and nudged Tohru. She took the hint and began to lead him to the office. "Tohru? Shigure?"
"He's taking care of some business for me, Momiji," Tohru called over her shoulder as she practically skipped toward the principal's office leading her 'guardian' by the hand. Shigure didn't mind the bouncy, goofy grin she was wearing. In fact, seeing it, he couldn't refrain from grinning as well. As the entered the office, however, Tohru grew somber and nervous. The secretary looked up momentarily and notified the principal of his new guests. They were escorted into the office and seated in nice chairs across the desk from a burly, aged man that governed the school.
"Welcome," he said in a friendly, gruff voice. "I am Principal Kinamoto Takeshi." Mr. Kinamoto nodded to Shigure, who smiled in turn.
"It's nice to meet you, sir. I'm Sohma Shigure, Tohru's legal guardian at the moment," the novelist lied calmly. He wasn't really, technically, officially, exactly her legal guardian; illegal, maybe, but not really legal.
"Ah, I see. Well, Sohma-san, Honda-kun has been showing poor conduct as of late, and many of her teachers seem to think it is safe to say that we need to conduct an inspection of her study and living environment." Tohru paled visibly and glanced at Shigure's calm face. This was more serious than she had expected, and much worse than what he'd told her.
"I see. When should I schedule it? Tohru-chan and I were planning on going to a press conference this weekend for my latest novel, so I would prefer if we could work around that event. Tohru-chan really wanted to go, ne?" he said lightly, smiling at her. Tohru hesitantly nodded. Shigure just grinned and patted her on the back. "She's an aspiring novelist, you see. She's been working hard to finish her story so that I could edit it before this weekend. Sometimes, she gets carried away. I think it's genetic. I was the same way when I was her age, and she is my niece, after all." Tohru couldn't believe her ears. Shigure was creating a web of lies right in front of her. She definitely couldn't say anything anymore. She was a terrible liar. Shigure, on the other hand, looked like he was enjoying it. The principal, clearly buying the act, sighed.
"Yes, of course. I personally don't think it's necessary, but I suggest you have a firm talk with your niece about the consequences of poor high school grades," Kinamoto-san insisted. Shigure nodded obediently. "Well, sorry to take up your time over something trivial like this, Sohma-san." Shigure shrugged it off.
"It's no problem. I already finished the five hundred pages I needed to, so my editor won't mind. Besides, Tohru-chan is a matter of top priority to me, so naturally she comes before my work." Tohru blushed at the compliment, which did not go unnoticed by her principal. He just ignored it and excused them. Once they were in the hallway, Tohru turned to Shigure with starry eyes of admiration.
"That was amazing, Shigure-san! How can you stay so calm under pressure like that? I would have made so many contradictions if I had to do that!" she exclaimed. Shigure smiled nervously.
"I'm not sure it's a skill you'd want to learn. Lying isn't the best way to solve problems, Tohru-chan. But, it's a lot like coming up with a good storyline for a book. It's basically what I do for a living, so it was easy," he replied and looked at his watch. "You'd better get to class." Tohru nodded and sprinted off to her classroom. Shigure sighed and leaned against the wall exhaustedly. He'd been up all night creating all possible excuses for things that could go wrong during the meeting. He didn't want Tohru to know; she'd think he was pathetic and wasting his energy on her. Still, if it's spent on her, it's not wasted energy. He was just happy their book wasn't confiscated. Their book...yes, it was theirs. It was a combination of their pasts, hearts, words, thoughts, and futures on paper, and he desperately wanted to know how it ended. He preferred a happy ending, but it was really up to Tohru to finish the story...their story.
He went home and spent the rest of the day doing absolutely nothing productive. He ate, took a nap, read a book, napped again, made zodiac origami, took another nap, and slept a little more after that. The loud crash as someone slammed and broke the door woke him up, much to his dismay. Yuki and Kyou both made their way inside while Tohru picked up the remains of the door. Hana and Uotani both watched her, and Uo eventually bent down and helped.
Shigure saw the fake smile Tohru was wearing and felt his heart bleed for her. Hana sent him a protective death glare, clearly thinking he was going to just brush her off like the other Sohmas, and Shigure fought his instincts to bolt from the suspicious psychic. He somehow managed to hold his ground, sort of. He disappeared momentarily into the kitchen, hearing clearly the insults being thrown at him and the others, and reappeared with a roll of rice paper and tape for the door. Tohru's fake grin softened into a genuine smile, and she thanked the dog as he helped her repair the damages.
"I've definitely got to have a talk to them about breaking so many doors. The main house isn't going to give us any further financial support as of...well, as of last month, actually." Tohru looked up at him in surprise.
"Really? That seems sort of rude, considering you're family, ne?" she blushed when she heard her own bitter tone of voice. "I mean, Sohma-kun and Kyou-kun can't really help it. They have been fighting as long as the Nezumi and the Neko have hated each other. They can't very well go against their nature, and it's also the only way they communicate. If you say something, they might not acknowledge each other at all and that would be much worse...don't you agree, Shigure-san?" she asked in her usual sweet tone. Shigure nodded dumbly.
"I suppose, Tohru-chan, but it's also in their nature to use the people around them. They really don't care if they hurt other people because they have been hurt so deeply themselves, Yuki and Kyou in particular. Well, at least Yuki tried to remain civil as for as long as he could, but he's still hurting and afraid of his past. He and many of us Sohmas are cold and cruel, and we very rarely show others our true selves. After all, what's the point? We can never be close to our loved ones," he said, a said smile playing on his lips. He replaced the fixed door. Uo and Hana silently watched the exchange, and were caught off guard when Shigure addressed them directly, although his eyes never left Tohru's, and his expression grew firm and strict.
"Perhaps it would be best, Hanajima-san, Uotani-san, if Tohru stayed with one of you from now on. Albeit, it is her choice, but I think it would be the best thing for all of us." He winced visibly as Tohru shot him a look of betrayal and hurt. She rose to her feet and ran out of the house, slamming the door shut so fast that it fell off its path and broke again. Shigure sighed and hid his eyes behind his unruly locks of dark hair as he began to tape the broken cross-sections of the door in an attempt to salvage it. Uo had sprinted off after Tohru, wanting to protect her with a hug as always. Hana stayed behind and watched Shigure's futile attempts to save what was left of the paper door.
"It's a lot like Tohru-chan," the man mumbled distantly. His voice was shaky and his breathing equally unsteady. "It looks strong from a distance, but it's actually very fragile. It's been abused repeatedly, and now it's most likely broken beyond repair. All I can do is try to mend what little I can, even if I have to send it away to someone who is much better at it than I am. But...Tohru's much rarer than a paper door. No, unlike this door, she can never be replaced." Hana knelt down next to him and tried to assist him in his task, but only poked another hole in the rice paper. She sighed and just watched as the novelist fumbled around clumsily with a heavy heart.
"Tohru was hurt by the Sohmas, but she can also be healed by a Sohma," the gothic girl uttered mysteriously and sauntered out the door to meet Uo, who was waiting with a sniffling Tohru. Shigure told the girls he would deliver her things to her grandfather's house before the evening was through, so that she would have something to sleep in.
"Don't cry, Tohru-chan!" Shigure exclaimed with a smile plastered on his face. "You'll still see Yuki, Kyou and the others in school." She just sobbed quietly and refused to acknowledge his remarks. He nodded farewell and her two friends lead her away from the house. Shigure turned to go back inside, but halted when he heard her say something.
"I won't be able to finish the last chapter," she mumbled. Shigure made a mental note to pack her book with her clothes. He looked up and saw Yuki staring out the second floor window with a forlorn expression on his feminine face. Shigure scowled. It was his own fault that Tohru had to leave, and yet he was going to sulk and blame Shigure and Kyou entirely. Sure, it was partially their fault, but Yuki wasn't innocent either. Yuki's slim frame disappeared from view and Shigure glared at where the boy had been standing long after he was gone.
Well, Tohru's gone now. I can't change that. But still...I feel horrible. I can still see the tears rolling down her cheeks as she was dragged away. I wish I could hold her in my arms just once. Perhaps I should visit Akito about having Tohru's memories erased. It might be less painful for her if she doesn't remember.
Shigure picked up the receiver of the phone and pressed the speed dial button. Hatori's voice answered, and Shigure sighed heavily.
"Hatori-san, how are you today?" Shigure asked. His voice was devoid of any of its usual playfulness and cheer.
"I'm fine, Shigure-san. Is there something you need to discuss with me?" the dragon replied darkly.
"What would I need to do to get you to erase Honda-san's memories of the Sohma family?" Hatori gasped. He hadn't been expecting something so extreme. He thought Tohru or one of the boys had gotten sick or something.
"Who suggested this? Did Tohru say she wanted to forget?"
"No..." the dog trailed off. "But I think it's for in her best interest that she has nothing to do with us from now on." Hatori shuddered at Shigure's tone. Akito called Hatori as cold as snow, but Shigure, when he was serious, was even more intense, and the dangerous gleam his eyes took on at such times was truly terrifying. Hatori was glad he wasn't there to see it.
"I'll come over right away, Shigure-san," Hatori said at length.
"No, I'll give you the address she is staying at. Come and retrieve her belongings first. Then go immediately there." It wasn't a request. Shigure was giving him a strict order. The moment the dog hung up the phone, Hatori packed a medical bag for appearance and headed over to the address he was given. Upon reaching the building, he was greeted by an elderly man he suspected was Tohru's grandfather. The man led him inside, worriedly questioning him about his daughter's health. Hatori just politely replied that Tohru was in good health and was just due for a checkup. It seemed to bring the old man some relief. Hatori was instructed to wait in the kitchen, where he was met with several curious stares from three other people he assumed were family members.
"So, were you one of the guys Tohru-chan got shacked up with?" the elder of the two ladies inquired bitingly. The younger one batted her eyelashes flirtatiously.
"She has good taste," she said, trying to catch his attention. Hatori just coldly ignored them. His cold glare softened when Tohru came out with a big smile on her face.
"Hatori-san! What brings you here?" she inquired happily, taking his had and slowly leading him away form the other members of the household.
"Shigure sent me," he began, and Tohru nervously stopped short. Her sudden change of attitude drew her grandfather's attention. She released his hand and stared at the floor as she swallowed heavily.
"Oh..." she murmured. "I see...so, it's not just a regular visit then..." A long pause followed, and Hatori didn't dare say anything. "I had a feeling he would decide to do that. How much will I remember?" Hatori frowned at the way she said that. Usually people would want to know how much they would forget. But, Tohru's different. She always views things in a different light, much like Kana did. She looks at the gloomy winter snow and sees the impending spring.
"Nothing about the Sohma family beyond what you'd know as a classmate to Yuki, Kyou, Momiji, and Hatsuharu. You will know nothing of Shigure, Ayame, me other than that I was your doctor, Ritsu, Hiro, Kisa, Rin, Kagura, Akito, or the curse." Tohru's nodded sadly and turned to face him, reluctant acceptance written all over her face.
"I can tell I don't have a choice about what memories I can keep, but can I ask you to wait just a little bit longer?" Hatori began to fumble with his answer and Tohru looked at him with pleading eyes. "Please, Hatori? Just one more day?" The doctor relented and Tohru tried to hug him, but he skillfully side-stepped her and she saw her grandfather watching them curiously. She blushed and showed Hatori to the door. "Thank you very much, Hatori, for everything. You've been a great doctor and friend. I'll see you tomorrow."
The moment the door was closed, Tohru scurried over to the room she shared with her cousin, ignoring the curious stares of her relatives and the concerned one of her grandfather, and locked herself away. She only had one night left to decide how she wanted the story to end. She wrote for hours one end, blocking out everything outside her writing.
Tohru smiled at the ending. It left the rest up to the imagination of the reader. Somewhere deep down, though, she was frightened about what the reader might come up with. What would her reader think when he read it? With that thought in mind, Tohru fell into a restless sleep. The next morning, first thing, she was woken by a loud, furious pounding on her door. She paled, realizing that she had locked her roommate and cousin out. Oops...oh well. Nothing I can do about it now. I guess I should let her in. Teehee. She rose and opened the door, ignoring her cousin's annoying banter and walking into the kitchen, still in her pajamas. She tensed when she saw Hatori sitting on the couch speaking casually with her grandfather. He glanced up at her meaningfully and nodded a greeting. She bowed respectfully.
"Are you prepared?" he asked gently. She nodded, although her body language told him she wasn't.
"Will you give something to Shigure for me?" she asked calmly. Hatori was admittedly surprised at how at peace and composed she was. He led her into her room and she pointed to the package on the table. The door closed and Hatori covered her eyes with his hand and looked down at her sadly.
"I am glad to have known you, Honda Tohru, and I truly hope you can find peace and happiness after this is over." Those were his last words to her, and he didn't give her a chance to reply as he allowed his powers to suppress her memories of the Sohma family. He rose and walked out of the apartment, telling her family that he gave her some medication for an illness that would have side affects affecting her memory if she was allergic, but that it should be temporary. He also told him that she was mentally unstable and needed a lot of love and care.
Tohru slowly came to and sat up in her bed. She had no clue what happened to her. She stepped out of the room and rubbed her eyes. "Ohayo, grandfather," she mumbled sleepily. Her family all treated her nicely for the weeks that followed. They made sure she was comfortable and happy, and she smiled and told them she was. Still, she couldn't help but feel as though something had been missing. Uo and Hana weren't able to tell her anything [Hatori erased their memories as well]. She just shook it off, and focused on doing her best during the rest of the school year. She completed her poetry project on friendship, and the teacher gave her the highest grade in the class for her 'touching masterpiece' as the teacher liked to call it.
During the end of the year graduation ceremony, Tohru had gotten a chance to see all of her classmates' relatives. She was surprised at how many Sohmas there were. She noticed of them staring proudly at her as she stood with her class on stage. Her eyes connected with his and she felt her chest constrict painfully. Why was he smiling at her like that, with such forlorn longing? Why did he seem so familiar? An image flashed in her mind, a vivid picture of his tender smile. Where had that image come from? Why did it make her happy, make her want to smile back? She blushed when she realized that she was smiling, grinning from ear to ear, reaching her eyes and lighting up her face. She wanted to cheer him up. Tohru was called on to make a speech, as all students were at some time in the ceremony. She took a deep breath and began.
"My mother once told me that, to achieve any goal, I should start by being myself and taking things slowly. I held fast to that for many years, even more so after she died three years ago. But, at the time, I didn't understand who I was. Who was Tohru? Slowly, by growing with the people around me, I was able to discover the person inside me little by little. I was able to be myself because I had people there beside me, growing and finding themselves as well. I was never alone in my journey. I don't think I could have made it alone. I've been told that the strong survive in the world, but I'm not an animal. I am a person, a person who has weaknesses. And...That's okay. It's okay to be weak sometimes, because that's why you have friends and people who care about you. You are supposed to lean on each other and help each other.
"When I was a little girl, my class would always play Fruits Basket, a game where everyone would be given a fruits. When their fruit was called, they were allowed to join in the fun. I was always given the onigiri, the rice ball, by my classmates. I guess, looking back on it, that was their way of teasing me, as children often do. I just remember smiling and waiting, hoping for someone to call out 'onigiri' so that I could join the group. I didn't really understand then. A rice ball doesn't belong in a Fruits Basket. But now, I realize that a rice ball doesn't need to be in a fruits basket. It can shine well enough with other rice balls, each with their own, unique pickled plums, or good qualities, stuck on their backs for the entire world to see. Sometimes, the rice ball cannot see their own pickled plum, but that's why others are there to point it out.
"Those people are important to me. They helped me overcome the memories of my past. I want to keep my memories with me until one day, they won't be painful anymore. But, because they still are, those closest to me, my friends and family, are still here to help me bear those memories and pains. I don't ever want to lose that. Despite the joy I feel at being able to go my own way, I still want to stay together with those people. I want to stay together, and eat our meals together, and listen to their problems, hear what's on their mind, talk to them about me, laugh with them, cry with them, and remember with them, live with them... I want to hold onto that love...because that love is the only thing that keeps me from giving up. It's the only thing that's truly important to me. Even if we have to start all over again, love and those memories are the only things worth holding onto." She replaced the microphone, stepped down from the podium, and wiped the tears from her eyes. People applauded politely, and there were several exceptional cheers from her classmates. Tohru allowed her teary eyes to drift over to the young man she had seen in the crowd. He was staring at her with wide eyes, filled to the brim with tears of revelation. It's as if her speech had shone a light onto an unclear, dark area of his life that he hadn't understood before.
Her grandfather offered to take Tohru, Uotani, and Hanajima out to celebrate, to treat them to an expensive meal or drop them off somewhere, and they gladly accepted. "Hey, let's ask the Sohma boys to join us," Hana suggested. Uo gave her a mocking smirk and shook her head.
"Why would you ever want to invite those guys? Hana, sometimes I question your sanity."
"Ano..." Three pairs of eyes turned to Tohru, who was already standing before a large group of Sohmas. Her grandfather and friends were surprised when she just blushed and began to murmur nonsense. It wasn't like her. Usually, especially in the past year, she was very articulate and expressive. "I'd like...well, would you mind if...you see...I'm...we've never spoken much before, but...umm...ano ne...Tohru ne..." Yuki, Kyou, Hatori, Momiji, Hatsuharu, and Ayame just stared at her blankly.
"Dammit woman, use words!" Kyou yelled. Yuki glared at him before smiling at Tohru as charmingly as possible.
"Is there something we can do for you, Honda-san?" the prince of their high school asked gently. Tohru's face just grew redder and she shook her head. She had the intention of leaving the room as quickly as possible; mentally cursing herself for being a coward, but someone bounced up to the group and greeted the others, seemingly oblivious to her presence at first.
Shigure stared at the familiar girl in awe. She was even cuter than he remembered. But, that didn't explain why she was standing next to the Sohmas and sputtering like an idiot. She was embarrassed about something, and Shigure felt the need to comfort her rise up within him.
"Hi there! I'm Sohma Shigure. Nice to meet you!" he exclaimed in his happy-go-lucky tone, which he had rarely used since Tohru left. Everyone was clearly surprised how quickly he reverted back to his old self, but said nothing. "And what would your name be?"
"T-T-Tohru," she stuttered, and chanced a quick peek at his face. The easygoing grin on his face helped her relax for some reason, and she found herself smiling right back at him. He reminded her of the main character in a story she helped write a while back. He was very kind and hid his problems with a smile. He lost his first love and tried to escape from the world. He gave up all hope.
However, she hadn't liked that ending. She had decided that the main character deserved a second chance at love and life, and had brought another young foreign girl into his life. She was full of life, but not elegant or beautiful like the first lady to capture his heart...
"Would you care to join my friends and me for lunch to celebrate the end of the year?" she inquired innocently. They all exchanged opinionated looks and nodded. Tohru smiled, introduced them to her friends and family, and they all got into two separate cars heading to the same restaurant. At the restaurant, they all ate and chatted happily, as if they had known each other for years. Uo and Momiji picked on Kyou, Hana watched Shigure suspiciously, Haru clung to an annoyed Yuki as the rat spoke to Tohru, Hatori exchanged casual information with Tohru's grandfather while Ayame laughed loudly and tried to keep up with their extensive vocabulary, and Shigure silently watched Tohru eat and converse with Yuki.
Tohru felt Shigure's eyes constantly on her. He didn't say anything to her, but he just kept watching her every move. It was a little unnerving.
"Umm...Shigure-san?" she began uncertainly. He turned and looked at her somberly. "What do you do for a living?" She didn't care what was said, just as long as he was speaking and not staring at her silently.
"I'm a novelist," he replied briefly.
Another silence passed and Tohru shifted uncomfortably.
"Why?" he asked at length.
"I see..." he trailed off.
"I wrote a story once," she told him. Shigure raised a curious eyebrow, and silent hope filled his insides. The story she's referring to...was it...?
"Well, it wasn't really my story. All I can remember about it is that it was my friend's story and my friend couldn't decide how to end it and gave it to me. I don't think I did it justice."
"What was it about?" he questioned eagerly. Tohru was a little surprised at his tone, but said nothing.
"I called it For Fruits Basket because of a short passage I put near the end that came from one of my own past experiences. It was about a young man who had everything he cared about taken from him because of familial circumstances. The woman he loved was killed for wanting to be with him. He lost his family, his home, and his life as he knew it. He escaped to a small isolated house far from all people who could hurt him and gave up all hope. That was where my friend left off." By this time all other conversations had ceased and everyone was listening to what Tohru was saying.
"But, I decided that he deserved a second chance, and so he met a young foreign girl. She was full of life, but not elegant or beautiful like the first lady to capture his heart. Slowly, he began to trust her and open up more and more. She was much younger than him, but it didn't matter. They went from acquaintances to friends, from friends to something between friends and lovers, and then, one day, the girl was in an accident and lost her memories of him. Even so, he wasn't discouraged. He marched right up to her on the street and introduced himself. It didn't matter to him if they had to start all over again. What mattered was that it was worth the effort, and that, perchance, she might one day be able to return his forever undying, unspoken love and devotion to her."
She blushed at the tense scrutiny she was brought under by her listeners as she finished. Shigure began to search his coat, pulled out a long, narrative book, and handed it to her. Tohru stared at the front cover in awe. The title was written in decorative English lettering For Fruits Basket. Directly beneath it in Japanese characters was 'By Honda Tohru.' It was nominated for and won a best-selling novel of the year award, too. Tohru just stared at the cover, amazed beyond words. She opened the book to the first page and saw the dedication inscribed. 'Dedicated to the Sohmas, who I hope are free and healed of their past scars, and also to all those who have yet to live.' Beneath it was a drawing of the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac.
"This..." she began. She didn't remember anything about this dedication. She didn't remember giving it to anyone. But, something deep inside, a small repressed part of her heart knew that this was how it was meant to be. This was exactly what she had intended at the time she wrote the words on that page. Somewhere alone the line, she had lost something very precious to her, and she desperately wanted it back. "I can't remember...but...the zodiac...I think..." she trailed off once more and looked up at Shigure pensively, as if deciding something. Then, without warning, in front of the entire private table, she threw herself at him and embraced him. He transformed into the dog of the zodiac and froze in shock. Everyone stared in horror at the scene before them. Tohru pulled back slightly and looked down at the animal in her arms. She smiled at him, not a trace repulsion in it at all, just a genuine accepting smile that somehow made everything okay again. "I think we can start again." Shigure smiled up at her.
"I'd like that," he answered. "I'd like that a lot, koibito."
A/n: This will probably be the last chapter of A Writer's Tale. I know this was a super corny way of ending it, but I didn't want to continue it anymore. If anyone actually read this far, I'm impressed. I wouldn't have been able to read this much of my writing. Congratulations! You made it! Here, have a candy bar and a Shigure plushy! Btw, koibito means sweetheart or love in case anyone actually wondered (at least that's what my Japanese-English dictionary's telling me). Ja!