Title: On A Prison Ship
Fandom: Fruits Basket
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Shigure/Akito
Words: 640
Summary: Nervous, messed-up marionettes.
Author's Notes: For my beloved Quirkyslayer, who rocks my world constantly.

On A Prison Ship

("Do you hate me?" she asks, as if she doesn't know what hate is.

"Never," he tells her, as if he does.)

..o..

She is full of dark and sullen knots, born of frenetic desperation -

- this one was (the day she first understood) a jerk of the hand -

- this one (when he, she, almost left, passed into the place she could never go) a twitch of the finger -

- this one, the thunder of a famished heart -

( - when he - )

- each moment of fear and fury is caught forever in her tangled net, and she doesn't even realize they are there.

Everyone else can see them, but none are brave enough to do anything about it.

..o..

So he takes it upon himself to unravel her.

..o..

Nimble fingers, sharp teeth, and each knot undone frees him a little more. He can move and stretch, reach places he could not before, but she holds all the cards, each string wound around her fingers, all of him, all of them, at her beck and call. And still he toils away, careful, careful.

Sometimes, he loosens it enough that a little light seeps in, and she lets him, because she doesn't have to.

Sometimes, she makes him dance, and he lets her, because he does.

..o..

They are a well-known secret.

I know what I am doing, he reassures them.

She never has to reassure anyone, because where there are no questions, there are no answers.

She pretends this doesn't bother her.

..o..

And, I know what you are doing, too, she tells him.

You know I cannot hide from you, he replies

They talk circles around each other, until neither can tell who is the hunter and who is the prey. But they like it like that. She likes turning the world on its head in their own private moments because she knows she can turn it back, and he likes it because when she turns it back, it is never the same as when they started.

The universe shifts each time. Some things are gained, and some lost forever.

Both pretend not to notice.

..o..

She owns him. He is hers to use. They all are, and it is her right. She takes the burden for them - it is only right they bow beneath a little of it for her sake.

He is owned by her, and she uses him, but he knows she never asks herself if he can use her back. Or perhaps the question frightens her. Either way, it makes no difference in the end.

And so with their treacherous bodies, their little prisons, they brand each other, tug and maneuver, rearrange each other's hearts.

Sometimes, he wonders if she can see right through him, but she can't, or she wouldn't let him do this.

He only feels guilty when he is inside her.

Sometimes, she wonders if he can see right through her, but he can't, or he wouldn't let her do this.

She never feels guilty at all.

..o..

Her movements are crude, bombastic and obscenely obvious, but the puppeteer should never be seen. She yanks on his strings, and subtly he pulls back. For each action, there is an equal but opposite reaction, no matter how small or how seemingly insignificant.

Sometimes, she makes him laugh, and she asks him why he is hiding his smirk behind his hand. And one day he will tell her the truth, and pretend that it is a lie.

But she probably already knows.

Puppet strings go both ways.

..o..

And then one day, she appears.

Too wrapped up in themselves, caught in their web of puppet strings, neither of them really see it coming...

..o..

("Am I cruel?" Akito whispers, as if she knows what cruelty is.

"Very," Shigure whispers back, as if he doesn't.)

..o..

...and in the morning sun her smile flashes bright as a blade.