Note: Possible spoilers up to Vol. 10.
Well, here we were again.
We had just finished having dinner, and as always, Hatori insisted on dropping me off at my apartment, even though I told him that he needn't bother. To be truthful, my place was a long walk away from the restaurant he had chosen for our date, but I was more than willing to risk blisters on my feet if it meant I could avoid the Front Door Goodbye.
In my mind, the words were always capitalized in regards to Hatori, an event so absolutely mortifying that no other stylistic device could convey the true horror of that single moment at the end of the date when a man was theoretically supposed to kiss his girlfriend goodnight.
Why "theoretically"? Because as of yet, Hatori had never kissed me. He never even tried.
The first couple of times it happened -- or in this case, didn't happen -- I thought it was actually rather refreshing. I had gone on my fair share of dates over the years, many of them blind dates set up by my parents who were positively obsessed with the idea of finding their poor spinster daughter a husband, and about 80 of the guys could hardly wait for the end of the night when they would then proceed to jam their tongues down my throat. The fact that Hatori was one of the 20 willing to wait endeared him to me even more than he already had. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word.
(Come to think of it, Shigure never kissed me either during the single month we dated, but then again, our relationship was never really…traditional. Shigure and I weren't so much a couple as we were two friends who happened to like to read and drink a lot when we got together, which admittedly wasn't often. Actually, considering how many of our so-called "dates" ended with the two of us drunk out of our minds, his restraint was impressive. I expected a pervert like him would take advantage of an inebriated woman, but, like Hatori, Shigure was always the perfect gentlemen.
Ha! "Shigure" and "gentleman" in the same sentence -- who would have thought it possible?)
But there was a difference between being a gentleman and being a prude.
I wanted him to kiss me, more than I ever wanted anything else in my entire life. I dreamed of us sharing the perfect liplock outside my apartment door, his strong arms holding me close as my legs turned to jelly…
Just the thought of those secret dreams made me go flush.
Hatori, bless his heart, never seemed to get the hints I threw at him, though, and I wasn't about to make the first move. Mama may have thought I wasn't feminine enough to attract a husband, but kissing was one area in which I was perfectly content to play the girl, if only because I was mortified over what would happen if it turned out the guy didn't want to kiss me.
At least I was reasonably sure that Hatori wasn't one of them. He wouldn't keep asking me out whenever he managed to slip away from the main Sohma house if he wasn't at least moderately attracted to me, would he?
So what prevented him from taking the next step? I could understand him not wanting to kiss me in public, as Hatori never struck me as the type of guy to engage in public displays of affection, but why not in front of my apartment door, when the halls were quiet and nobody else was around?
By the time we reached said door, I could feel the familiar butterflies beginning to flutter in my stomach in anticipation. No matter how many times he disappointed me, I still couldn't completely give up hope that tonight would be the night that it finally happened.
"I had a really great time tonight, Hatori-kun," I said after I took a deep breath to calm my nerves, initiating the same tired dialogue we always went through after one of our dates.
"I'm glad. Did you like the restaurant?"
I nodded. "It was wonderful. The food was delicious."
"Perhaps we could go again the next time Akito-san gives me the night off," he suggested.
"I'd like that," I replied with a smile, tilting my chin up slightly -- I was almost as tall as Hatori, so I couldn't be too obvious without looking ridiculous -- and mentally encouraging him to bridge the small gap between our lips.
Again, however, Hatori refused to take the hint, turning his head away from mine to glance down at his watch and loudly clearing his throat. "Speaking of Akito-san, I really should head back to the main house. The head of our family gets anxious whenever I'm gone too long."
I sighed, my hopes for the perfect goodnight kiss deflated once again like an untied balloon. "Right…" I only knew the head of the Sohma family by reputation, but from what I managed to infer from Hatori, Shigure, and the Sohma kids I taught, he seemed a very fearful person. I often wondered why Hatori put up with having to take care of him all the time when he could simply refer Akito to another doctor. "I guess I'll see you later, then."
Hatori gave me a small smile, which was about as affectionate as he allowed himself to be around me, then started down the hall. He only made it as far as three doors down, however, before I couldn't take it any longer.
I had to know.
"Are you ever going to kiss me, or have you taken some super-
strict vow of celibacy you forgot to tell me about that prevents you from even touching me in any remotely sexual way?"
There, I said it. The cat was out of the bag.
Hatori, having stopped when I called to him, turned back around. "What?"
"Kiss me, Hatori-kun," I repeated, my heart pounding. "We've been going out for how long now? A few months? And yet you haven't made a single move on me. Most guys I know would be trying to get in my pants by now. Either you're incredibly old-fashioned in your ideas of romance, which I know you're not because Kana-chan told me plenty, or else…"
My voice drifted off, and I brought a hand up to my mouth. Why hadn't I realized it before? The answer was so obvious, even Honda Tohru -- without a doubt, my most naïve student -- could have seen it.
The reason why Hatori never kissed me was…was…
"Oh, I am such a world-class fool!" Not believing I could be so stupid, I hit the back of my head against the door. "Here I thought there was something special between us, but this whole time you've only thought of me as a friend, haven't you?"
"No, no, no. You don't need to explain," I interrupted, shaking my head. "I should have known. You're still not over what happened with Kana-chan, and why should be? You two were going to spend the rest of your lives together until…the incident. Just because Kana-chan's memories of you have been erased and she's married doesn't mean you stopped loving her."
Embarrassed, I turned to face the door and began digging in my purse for my keys -- anything to distract me from the sympathetic look that had appeared in Hatori's usually expressionless eyes. I didn't want his pity, not when it was he who deserved it more. He had been through so much over the past couple of years, and it was foolish for me to think a person like me could make him happy again.
"Even if you were over her," I continued, fully aware I was babbling, "it was silly of me to think you would ever be interested in someone like me. I'm nothing like Kana-chan. She's so much kinder, smarter, and prettier than I'll ever be. You were always way out of my league."
"Mayu! Will you please--"
"Dammit! Where are my keys? I know I put them… Wait a minute." I had finally found the elusive keys, but they slipped from my fingers to the floor as soon as what he had just said sunk in. "Did you just call me Mayu?" I asked, turning back around to face him.
Hatori actually smirked, something I had never seen him do before. "Several times, I believe."
"But you haven't called me that since…"
"…before I erased Kana's memories. I know."
I saw a brief flicker of sadness in his eyes as he mentioned Kana's name, but it wasn't as pronounced as I thought it would be. He spoke of her as a dear friend who had moved far away, someone who would always hold a place in his heart, yet who he knew he would never see again.
"Why do you think, Mayu?" he asked, surprising me when he placed his hands firmly, yet without malice, on my upper arms.
"Hatori-kun?" I breathed.
"Do you want me to kiss you or not?"
And then it finally happened, the moment I had been dreaming about ever since the day Kana introduced me to the handsome doctor. Hatori pressed his warm lips against mine, and it seemed as if everything around us had disappeared. Even though his grip on my arms prevented me from moving too close to him, somehow I got the feeling he was being more intimate with me than if we were naked in my bed, making love. I never wanted it to end.
When it finally did, however, we were both breathless, and I thought I saw the faintest hint of a blush on Hatori's cheeks, which he tried to hide by bending down to pick up the keys I had dropped earlier.
"Here, I believe these are yours," he said, handing them back to me when he was once again upright.
There was yet another awkward silence, but for once, I didn't mind in the least. We stood there, smiling, for what seemed like an eternity, before I finally turned around to unlock the door.
"Well... Goodnight, Hatori."
My name had never sounded so sweet.
DISCLAIMER: "Fruits Basket" is the property of Takaya Natsuki.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I hope you enjoyed my first attempt at a "Fruits Basket" fic. Happy Valentine's Day!