Disclaimer – I do not own or profit from Fruits Basket. Rated PG-13 for yaoi (slash) and dark themes. A one-shot.

Author's Note – Contains SPOILERS for the manga, & the end of the anime (the last three episodes). I'd be more specific in terms of chapters in the manga, but it contains spoilers for chapters that have yet to be released in English. If you don't know why Kyo fights Yuki every chance he gets, and you don't wanna know, then don't read this.

And I know about chapter 96 of the manga, but as I don't know enough about it to process the information, I'm pretending it didn't happen. If you don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry – there be no spoilers for that here.

On a personal note, I've never written in this particular tense before, I don't even usually enjoy reading stories written like this, but I hope you all like what I did with it. It took twenty minutes, & I don't know why I wrote it.

Anyway, enjoy. Peace, all.

What I'm Giving Up

by Ghost Helwig

"I've still got the poem you wrote to me. I didn't keep it because you're a good poet – you're not. I can feel you glaring at me, stupid cat, but you can keep your comments to yourself. You were a good man, a good fighter, and a good friend to everyone but me – but you sucked as a poet.

"You sucked at a lot of things.

"Like waiting. Why couldn't you wait? If you had, you would've beaten me. You would've given it your all, and been rewarded.

"Or, more likely, with the deadline so close, Hatori would've spilled the beans, and I would've gladly let you beat me.

"Anything to keep you from being locked up. None of us would've let that happen.

"I would never have let that happen.

"But you didn't trust us. You didn't trust me. You panicked. You stupid, stupid cat. I hate you for that.

"I hate you for keeping this from me. Do you know how I found out? Akito told me. Akito gloated while telling me on the day you left us, of all days.

"And I hate you for lying to me all these years, for hiding your pain and your fear behind so much hatred. I hate that that makes you so much like me.

"And I really, really hate you for running. For giving up. For quitting. For letting Akito beat us again. Stupid cat. If you'd just held on, spoken up, let it out, we would've lied to Akito, we could've saved you. It didn't have to be this way. But you took all our choices away.

"And you... you didn't even say goodbye.

"You can say that you would never have bothered to say goodbye to me anyway, but we both know that isn't true. The poem proves it.

"You didn't think I'd ever find it, did you? Well, if you must know, I didn't – Miss Honda did. She was moping in your room, fingering your bedspread, with the sunlight falling all around her...

"No, I'm not making it up, stupid cat. I was there, with her. Moping. Fingering your bedspread, sunlight falling all around me...

"She's strong, Miss Honda is, but even she has her breaking points – we both know that, don't we? We've seen them before, in small but unmistakable ways...

"But on this day she just broke. Kind of like she did the day she saw your true form – what is it about you that brings out such strong emotion in her?

"...I think I know, actually. But you never would. You never could.

"Anyway, she broke. She started weeping, and all I could do was stare at her, awkwardly pat her shoulder. I couldn't pull her against me and hug her like she needed. I was useless and helpless in the face of her pain.

"I'm sure you know the feeling, cat.

"To calm her, I went downstairs and made her tea. It was all I could think of to do. And when I finally got back upstairs, she immediately began apologizing – at first I couldn't even see why.

"But then I saw it. A piece of crumpled paper that Miss Honda would later tell me she found stuffed in the tissue box on your nightstand. It was just lying on the floor where she'd dropped it in her nervous haste, and even from my position I could read my own name scrawled across the top of the paper in large, jagged strokes.

"I remember that my hands shook as I bent to pick it up. The paper was filled with your untidy, angry-looking writing – even on paper you look furious. And it took me the longest time to read what you had to say. Part of me didn't want to know. Part of me was afraid that this was a... well, that it was bad.

"I thought maybe... I thought maybe it was just more blame.

"That you'd blame me for... for everything. Everything that happened.

"But Miss Honda encouraged me, told me one of her uplifting stories about her mother. I wish I could've met that remarkable woman – and yet, through Miss Honda, I feel I already have.

"So I let my eyes drift down, let myself believe your words as I never could while you were here. And do you know what I read? A badly rhymed poem saying everything you could never tell me.

"Akito's bet and how you hated it, hated him. His sick hold over you, how he dangled your freedom before your eyes just as he'd always done to me.

"How you made yourself hate me because it made having to beat me that much easier. And how you regretted it, because you knew in your heart we were the same.

"And worst of all...

"How you didn't really hate me. How, in the end, you hated me least of all.

"And throughout the poem, just as in that first huge line, you called me by name.

"And that was when I realized that I really hated you.

"Because you left, and I never got to hear your real voice say my name.

"And I never will, will I, stupid cat? I'll never hear you call me 'damn rat' and insult me in the stupidest ways imaginable anymore.

"I'll never hear you say anything at all, again.

"It's all over now. You made sure of that.

"Which was just stupid, Kyo. Because if you'd ever said aloud that last line of your poem, I would've told you-

"'I love you, too.'

"Stupid cat."

Yuki stood up, brushing his hands off on his pants. They floated back together afterwards, rubbing briefly, pale white against the stark backdrop that was the black of his clothes.

Wind ruffled his gray hair, blew and blew ice into his veins, making him shiver. Needing contact, he blindly reached out, resting his hands on the cool, gray marble tombstone.

"I wish you'd waited," he whispered.