Title: Bittersweet Memories

Author: Phoenix Song

Disclaimer: Fruits Basket, Natsuki Takaya

Summary: Yuki and Kyo have been best friends since childhood and eventually their friendship becomes so much more. But happens when Akito finds out about the young lovers? Yuki, Kyo slash.

Author's Note: This story is mainly based on the anime, not the manga. The prologue takes place when Yuki and Kyo are seven-years-old. The subsequent chapters take place before either of them had met Tohru (S01E01) and they both still live in the main house. The epilogue takes place after the last episode of the anime (S01E26). I wrote this a while ago and recently came across it again, so I decided to edit the existing chapters and finish it :) Thanks to everyone who reviews!

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Prologue

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'Who's that, oniisan [1]?' seven-year-old Yuki asked his older brother. Since it was such a nice day outside, the pair had been sitting on their parent's porch and munching on some of their mother's famous umeboshi onigiri when an unfamiliar, red-haired child had walked by with a large bag in tow.

'He's the cat,' Ayame replied with no small amount of disgust, although his jovially waving hand took away from the seriousness of his tone.

'The cat?' the rat echoed.

'Yes,' the elder boy said impatiently. 'He is the cat from the Zodiac. He's around your age, I think.'

'What's his name?'

'Sohma Kyo.'

'And he's the cat?'

'That's what I said,' Ayame responded, popping the last bit of a riceball into his mouth.

'Why is he alone? Doesn't he have any friends?'

'No,' the snake easily replied. 'The cat is not allowed to have friends.'

'Why not?'

'Because he is the caaaaat,' he sang. 'And Akito won't let him have any friends,' he added as an afterthought.

'That is a silly rule, oniisan.' Yuki sighed and pushed his long, grey locks out of his eyes. 'If I didn't have any friends, I know that I would be very sad.'

'I suppose . . . Speaking of which, aren't you supposed to be meeting your friends now?' Ayame asked his little brother, glancing at his watch.

'Yes! Thank you for reminding me, oniisan!' Yuki exclaimed, jumping to his feet.

'You're welcome . . . Be careful, okay?'

'Okay.'

'Oh, and remember, Yuki,' Ayame said just as his brother had turned to leave, 'do not speak to the cat. It is not right.'

'Okay,' Yuki said. Then, after running back to give his brother a quick, departing hug, he ran towards the gardens to meet his friends.

'Bye, Yukiiiii!'

##

'You're late, Yuki,' Mikoto chided.

'Gomen [2],' he apologized, wiping the sweat from his brow. 'I lost track of the time.'

'Did you run all the way here?' Sakura asked.

'Hai [3],' Yuki replied proudly. 'I am a fast runner.'

'Let's see how fast you really are,' Takumi challenged. 'Let's play tag.'

'Yeah!' the other children agreed.

'We have to wait for the others first,' Akira reminded them.

'And you thought I was late,' Yuki pointed out to Mikoto; the latter shrugged.

'I wonder where they are . . .' Takumi said slowly, glancing into the distance. 'Oh! Who's he?'

'Huh?' the rat inquired, following his friend's gaze. His eyes widened when he saw Kyo again, still dragging his bag along behind him as he made his way to his destination.

'Hehe, his hair is orange,' Sakura giggled. 'I've never seen hair that colour before.'

'I think it looks more red,' Akira said. 'Anyway, do you think he would want to play with us?'

'No,' Yuki replied automatically.

'Why?' Mikoto asked. 'Do you know him, Yuki?'

'No, but he wouldn't want to play with us. He's a nobody,' the grey-hair boy responded.

'Why would you say that?'

'Oniisan told me - oniisan is always right.'

'Okay. I guess we won't ask him then,' Akira said with a shrug.

'We won't have to! Here come the others!' Sakura exclaimed excitedly.

Yuki smiled, although he was unable to shake the guilt nagging at the back of his mind. Although he was only seven-years-old, he had a strong feeling that ignoring Kyo was wrong. After all, if people ignored him, it would make him sad.

"I'm just doing as oniisan said," he reasoned with himself. "The cat isn't allowed to have friends."

'Hey!' Takumi called out to the children running towards them. 'Are you guys ready to play?'

'Yes!' they replied in unison.

'Good, because we decided that we should play tag,' Sakura informed them.

'Sounds good to me,' one of them responded.

The others nodded in agreement.

'Good,' Sakura said again.

'And we also decided that Yuki will be "it" first,' Mikoto said.

'Aw, Yuki,' Mika complained. 'But he's so fast!'

'I can't help it,' Yuki said sheepishly.

'How about if we blindfold him?' Kei suggested.

'Blindfold?' Yuki repeated.

'Yes.'

'That's a great idea!' Mikoto said.

'I think so, too,' Rei added.

'Okay, I'll do it,' Yuki said half-heartedly. 'But only if you guys do it when you're "it", too.'

'Okay!' they agreed.

'But you have to catch us first,' Rei reminded him.

'I know,' Yuki replied.

'Now . . . what are we going to use as a blindfold?' Takumi asked.

'We can use this!' Mika said, pulling off the scarf that had been holding her hair back.

'That's perfect!' Kei exclaimed. 'Here, I'll do it.' He took the scarf from his friend and tied it over the rat's eyes.

And so the game began.

Despite their efforts, however, Yuki managed to catch someone within a few minutes' time.

'Aw,' Sakura pouted, having had her arm caught.

'You're "it" now,' Yuki said triumphantly, pulling off the scarf and carefully tying it over the girl's eyes.

'I'll get you back, Yuki,' Sakura warned, giving him a moment before starting her chase.

Yet she didn't catch him.

Instead, she had caught Mika.

'My turn already?' the latter exclaimed in disbelief.

'Yes,' Sakura said, hastily helping her friend with the scarf before running away to join Takumi standing by a tree.

'Come on, Mika,' Akira taunted. 'I'm over here.'

'Ooh, I'll get you, Akira!' she called out. Just as the others had, Mika held out her arms in front of her and began to give chase.

'That was close, Mika!' Yuki commended her, having seen her hand swipe the air just inches away from Akira's back.

'Yuki? Is that you?' she asked, following the sound of his voice.

'Hai, I'm over here. Come and get me.' Having grown confident in his running ability, Yuki allowed her to wander quite close to him before he finally dashed away. 'Now I'm over here. Come and get me!' He repeated the sequence . . .

Only, this time, he wasn't so lucky.

Having had her vision obscured, Mika had not seen the stray rock in front of her and had abruptly tripped over it, causing her to stumble into Yuki. Her clumsiness and his overconfidence had cost him dearly - he transformed.

Yuki heard his friends gasp in shock from his appearance, but he could do nothing about it. He stood there helplessly.

'AHH!' Sakura screamed first, her voice reaching its highest pitch.

The other children did not take long to join in.

'Huh? What's going on?' Mika asked blindly before finally tearing off her makeshift blindfold. She glanced back at her friends; then she looked at Yuki.

'A-a-a rat!' she stuttered, staring at the grey-furred rodent before her.

'AHH!' Sakura screamed again.

The children started suddenly when they heard approaching footsteps.

'What's going on here?' Shigure demanded, haphazardly waving a pile of papers (most likely his homework) about. 'I heard a scream.'

'AHH!' Sakura screamed.

'That was not an invitation to do so again,' the teen said impatiently. 'Now, what seems to be the trouble?'

'It's Yuki,' Takumi explained. 'He . . . turned into a rat!' He hesitated as if he was uncertain that Shigure would believe him.

'I see,' the elder boy said slowly, as if contemplating his next move. 'And where is this "rat" now?' he asked.

'He's over . . . there . . .' Akira finished lamely, seeing nothing but a pile of clothing since Yuki had had the sense to bury himself in his clothes. 'I swear that he was there!'

'Me, too!' Kei agreed, punching his fist in the air.

'Relax,' Shigure said soothingly. 'Just relax for a bit.'

The children breathed deeply to calm themselves, even Sakura restrained herself from screaming again.

'Good,' the dog said, slightly more upbeat. 'Now . . . Come with me. Then you can tell me the whole story.'

'Where are we going?' Mika asked, nervously glancing behind her before she followed along with her friends.

'To Hatori's house,' Shigure explained.

'Why?'

After a moment of hesitation, he finally responded, 'It's the most comfortable.'

The children trustingly followed the teen to Hatori's house.

They may not have known what awaited them there, but the rat who was silently watching them certainly did. When he changed back a moment later, tears marred his smooth face.

'Why are you crying?' someone suddenly asked.

The nude child started in shock and half-heartedly attempted to hide his naked body.

'Because Hatori is going to erase their memories,' Yuki explained without looking up, ashamed to be found in such a predicament.

'Why?'

'Because they saw me in my rat form.'

'Oh? I only saw you change back, so I didn't know which animal you are. So you're the rat, ne [4]?'

Yuki's eyes widened. Too late had he realized that he had let loose his secret! But the damage was done. There was naught else to do but lead this stranger to Hatori as well.

'I-' he began, but stopped himself in mid-sentence when he realized who it was. 'You're Kyo!' he exclaimed.

'You know me?' the red-haired boy asked, uncertain whether to smile or frown.

The rat was about to reply when he recalled what his brother had told him not an hour before.

##

'Oh, and remember, Yuki, do not speak to the cat. It is not right.'

##

'Gomen, I have to go,' Yuki muttered, hastily wiping the tears from his face and reaching for his clothes.

'Oh, I see,' Kyo said disappointedly. 'That's okay. I'm used to that

by now.'

'Used to what?' the other boy asked in spite of himself.

'To people avoiding me,' the cat continued. 'You know, because they know I'm the cat.'

'I'm sorry,' he apologized, pulling his sleeves on. 'I'm very sorry. I don't really want to go, but if oniisan sees me talking to you, I'm going to get into trouble.'

'That's okay,' Kyo said again. Then, seeing Yuki struggling with his kimono, he said, 'Will you at least let me help you get dressed?'

'Huh?' Yuki glanced from the clothing to Kyo, then to the clothing once more.

"Well, it is hard for me to put on by myself," he reminded himself.

'Okay,' he said.

So Kyo helped him. He kneeled on the ground and helped Yuki with his kimono, pausing every now and then to fix a fold or smooth a crease out. In next to no time, the rat was properly dressed.

'Arigato [5],' he said gratefully. 'I'm just wondering, though - what are you doing around here?'

'I was moving my stuff, but the last bag I moved was already too heavy, so I had to move the rest separately. That's when I saw you and your friends.'

'Moving your stuff?'

'Yes, from my home to Shishou's,' Kyo said.

'Shishou?'

'Sohma Kazumi.'

'Ah, Sensei [6],' Yuki said in recognition. 'But why?'

'I moved in with Shishou a while ago, but it wasn't until today that I picked up the rest of my stuff from home.'

'Why did you move in with him?'

'Because I'm the cat,' Kyo said simply, although it was anything but simple. 'People always look down on me because I'm the cat, even though it's not my fault. I didn't ask to be this way. I never wanted to be the cat - but I am. Shishou took me in when no one else would.'

'What's so bad about being the cat?' Yuki asked. 'I don't really know anything about the cat except for what other people tell me and what I've heard from the zodiac story.'

'And what have people told you about me?' Kyo questioned in turn.

The rat shrugged.

'Nothing really - just that I'm not supposed to talk to you.'

'Then you better stop talking to me,' the cat said in resignation. 'Like you said before, you'll get into trouble if you don't.' He turned to leave.

'Wait,' Yuki said, grabbing a hold of his arm.

Kyo stopped, but he did not turn around.

'Before you go,' the grey-haired boy said hesitantly, 'can you just tell me, what's so bad about the cat? You would know better than anybody else, so please, tell me.'

Kyo unconsciously fingered the black and white bracelet around his wrist before answering.

'The cat,' he said slowly, 'is a monster.'

Silence passed between them. Kyo felt very tempted to leave, but Yuki still had a firm grip on his arm.

'I don't think you're a monster,' Yuki said softly.

The cat finally turned his red gaze upon him.

'What did you say?'

'I don't think you're a monster,' Yuki repeated seriously. 'Even though you found out that I'm the rat from the Juunishi, you didn't scream like the others did.'

'That's because your form is nowhere near as scary as mine,' Kyo muttered.

'Still, you didn't scream or run away. You even helped me!' Yuki exclaimed, glancing at his kimono pointedly. 'I don't know about any monsters that would do that. The bogeyman definitely wouldn't have helped me.'

Kyo remained silent, although a small smile appeared on his face.

'After today,' the rat said, 'oniisan probably won't let me see my other friends anymore, but if you want, we can be friends.'

'Friends?' Kyo echoed. 'I've never had a friend before.'

A resounding scream in the distance interrupted their conversation and Yuki felt as if his heart had broken in two.

"That's Sakura . . ." he realized.

'And I've never needed one as much as I do now,' the grey-haired boy said tearfully.

##

[1] Oniisan: Brother

[2] Gomen: Sorry

[3] Hai: Yes

[4] Ne: Eh

[5] Arigato: Thank you

[6] Sensei: Teacher