Title: Courage, A Fruits Basket Drabble
Spoilers: Some hints gleaned from the manga, nothing specific.
Disclaimer: Fruits Basket and respective characters are ©Natsuki Takaya, Hakusensha, Studio Deen, Funimation, etc. I am making no profit from this work of fanfiction.
To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage. -Lao-Tzu BC 600-, Chinese Philosopher, Founder of Taoism, Author of the ''Tao Te Ching''
He could feel the damp in his bones, as though he were an old man. It weighed on him, stripping his defenses, leaving him bare. He hated the rain. But there was nothing for it. All he could do was curl up somewhere dry and warm to wait out the storm.
He was hovering between sleep and consciousness, suspended in the ether, when the rattling of his bedroom door sliding open brought him back into the rainy day world. He blinked and looked over at the door, prepared to yell at whoever had dared breach his sanctuary on such a dreary day, but he saw long brown hair and a sweet smile and instantly relaxed.
"Kyou-kun? I'm sorry…I thought you were awake." Tohru hovered at his door, a black lacquered tray balanced in one hand, sweet concern on her face. She was genuinely distressed at the idea that she might have woken him up. "I'm sorry, I can come back later…I was just…"
"No, it's fine." He snapped, instantly regretting the tone of his words even as he said them. He just hated it when she apologized so much. "That is…it's okay, Tohru. I wasn't really asleep."
"Oh, good. I was worried about you." She stepped, hesitantly, into the room. "You missed lunch. I thought you might be hungry." She held up the tray, offering proof that she had only altruistic motives for disturbing his rest.
"Thanks." He sat up and gestured for her to put the tray on the bedside table. She set it down and fussed over it for a moment before stepping back towards the door. "Hey, Tohru…"
She tilted her head and smiled at him, patiently waiting for him to finish his sentence.
"Keep me company, will you?" He focused on the tray as he spoke, too embarrassed to look at her. He didn't want her to see the need in his eyes, the pain. His days with her were winding down and he grasped greedily at every straw, desperate to have something, anything, to keep with him during the long, lonely days of his imprisonment. Every memory of her was to be cherished, to be taken out and examined like the treasures they were when he was at his lowest ebb. Even if Akito had his way and kept Kyou locked away for the rest of his natural life, the red-head's memories of Tohru would remain his own. Akito could not take that away from him.
"Of course, Kyou-kun." She replied softly.
He surreptitiously watched her move away towards his desk, watched her pull out his desk chair and sit, primly arranging her skirt. He wondered if she had any sense of what was going to happen. She had been acting strange lately; she was quiet, more thoughtful. Sometimes, when she thought she was alone, she would drop the cheerful mask she wore and she would look sad or bothered. Did she know? Or was she simply picking up on the tension in the air?
"H…how was your morning?" he asked awkwardly as he picked at the rice balls she had brought him.
"Well, the laundry almost got rained on, but Sohma-kun and Shigure-san helped me bring it all in before it started raining. And Sohma-kun tried to help me with lunch and ended up catching his sleeve on fire, but luckily, Shigure-san poured his tea on Sohma-kun before he got burned. I don't think I can save Sohma-kun's shirt, though. It's missing a sleeve now."
The image of the dratted rodent flopping around with a flaming sleeve was enough to get a chuckle from the moody cat, which, in turn, brought out a gentle smile and laugh from Tohru.
"Now that I think about it, it was rather funny." She said pressing a hand against her cheek.
Kyou grinned and popped the last bit of a rice ball into his mouth. "Where's the rat now? Sulking?" He looked up at her, eyes crinkling around the edges, a genuine smile.
"He said he had a student council meeting to attend." She frowned. "It's Sunday, though. I wish Sohma-kun would take a break before he exhausts himself. He's still not quite well from that cold he had last week and Hatori-san said he should be careful…" she was fretting, her fingers unconsciously curling around the ribbon in her hair, toying with it.
"Don't worry about him. He knows his limits." Kyou said gruffly, his smile gone; he was annoyed that Yuki dominated the room even when he wasn't there.
She dropped her hand and smiled at him. "You're probably right, Kyou-kun. He's always careful."
Kyou snorted and flicked a grain of rice across the tray.
They were silent for a moment, but he didn't want her to leave yet, so he groped around for another topic of conversation. Inevitably, it fell to their other housemate. "Where's Shigure?"
Tohru looked troubled again. "His editor came by during lunch and he disappeared. She was very upset. I wish Shigure-san would be kinder to her, she really is a nice lady."
They were alone in the house together.
Alone in the house with the object of his affection? It sounded like the beginning of one of Shigure's smutty books. But he wasn't simply a normal teenage boy with normal teenage hormones and Tohru was so much more than a simple swooning high school girl. Hell, he couldn't even hug her. He wished he could. He wished he could touch her and imprint her on his memory, like she was already imprinted on his soul.
He blinked and realized that he had been staring at her. A frisson of fear went down his spine. Had she seen the longing in his eyes? She could always read him like a book, that's why he was so careful around her. He looked down at the tray, the familiar scowl etching itself onto his face.
She stood and walked towards him. He expected her to pick up the tray and leave. If she had read his expression, no doubt she'd want to get the hell out of his room. She would leave. She would.
But she didn't. Instead of his tray, her hand reached out for his face; her fingers ran along his chin and tilted up his face so she could see him. She didn't say a word, didn't ask him any questions or demand answers. All she did was smile. Softly, sweetly, she smiled and it rocked him straight down to his core.
"Tohru…" he whispered, his eyes widening.
She leaned down, pausing a moment to tuck some of her long hair behind her ear before it swung between them, and brushed her lips across his. "Don't look so sad, Kyou-kun." She murmured, pulling back a little so that her mouth was only inches away from his. "Nothing is as hopeless as it seems."
Downstairs, a door slammed open and someone stomped in. "Tohru-chaaaan! Tohru-chaaan! Are you here? I got rained on! Could I have some tea to warm up my old bones before I get sick? Please?" Shigure's exaggerated whine rang through the house, effectively destroying the moment.
Tohru straightened and reached for Kyou's tray. "I'll be right there, Shigure-san! I'll bring you some dry clothes, too!" She called as she stepped towards the door.
"You're an angel! A beautiful, nubile angel!" Shigure called back, making Kyou's hands clench reflexively into fists.
Tohru only smiled and shook her head, her attention returning to the red-head. "I'm making beef stew for dinner, Kyou-kun. With fresh baked bread, too. You'll join us, right?"
He nodded, bemused. Did he just imagine their exchange? She didn't seem as though she had just kissed him. He was shaken down to his very marrow; surely she would be similarly affected if she had actually kissed him, right? It must have been a very strong case of wishful thinking on his part.
She paused at the door, her back to him. "I meant what I said, Kyou-kun. I don't want you looking so sad. You're more handsome when you smile." Only the slight blush across her cheeks signaled that she wasn't as comfortable as she wanted to seem.
Her words threw him into further confusion but before he could drag himself back into the world of intelligent conversation, she was gone. He slumped back against the wall, completely shocked. His eyes flickered across the ceiling and towards the window, where he noticed that the sun had finally beaten back the rain clouds and was shining brightly down at the world, warming it. Like Tohru.
He took a deep breath and released it, the melancholy that had been affecting him dissipating somewhat. All was not lost just yet. He was still free and she was still in his life and he still had time to get stronger and beat Yuki. He smiled a small smile. He wondered if Tohru knew how much she meant to him, he wondered if she knew that she gave him the courage to fight. And then he recalled the words that she had whispered and the look in her eyes and he knew that she did. His smile broadened.
A/N: Oh, I don't know where this came from! Three unfinished stories and here I am babbling on about Fruits Basket! I blame last night's reading of Chapter 99. The plot bunnies took over, beat me and forced me to write this. Now perhaps I will settle down and work on my Rurouni Kenshin fic, my Bleach lemon, vol. 2 and my poor neglected Gundam Wing AU.
Argh! Ooh, and random author plug! Speaking of unfinished stories, I have posted a link in my profile to my Spooooky Fanfiction Graveyard, the home of unfinished and orphaned stories I started but never finished. So far there's a Naruto, a Rurouni Kenshin and another Fruits Basket. I'm hoping that posting them might lead to inspiration. Or not. Anyway, thanks for reading!