Disclaimer: I, unfortunately, do not own Fruits Basket. Sorry, I know I got your hopes up.

A/N: I'm pretty sure this is slightly AU because Kyo gets sent to the cage.

It had been three years since Akito had died and five since Kyo was locked in a cage and he was uncovered only now. Kyo had been placed in a special cage, deep in the basement warren of the Main House and it was pure chance that he was found.

When the door was shoved open (it swung inward and dragged against the dirt floor) the room belched a putrid smell that burned its way up Yuki's nose into his brain. The sight of the foul darkness within stung at his eyes.

"Thank you," he said quietly to the burly man who had gotten him here without notifying the police. Sohma secrets were Sohma secrets, after all, and that was how they would stay forever and ever and ever.

It was so quiet. Heavy footsteps thudded in the distance, but they didn't shake the silence that settled over Yuki's world like a thick trembling blanket. The click of the flashlight as Yuki turned it on was obscenely loud and its beam of light seemed obscenely bright. Before he shook off the feeling, Yuki felt like he was desecrating some holy place – but what could be less holy than this hellhole?

This solemnity was getting to Yuki. He found himself getting into a strange trancelike mood like he was half-asleep as he gingerly stepped inside. The flashlight lit the whole room with white light and Yuki immediately saw the corpse.

It was the source of the smell, as the flesh was still rotting away. For a few moments, Yuki looked it over with a detached eye and then he realized it was Kyo and rushed outside to throw up. Several times. Thankfully he controlled himself before he got an asthma attack.

So with the smell of his own vomit added to the overall stench, Yuki took a deep breath (in two three, hold two three four five, out two three four) and stepped back inside. There was Kyo. Tucked in the corner were the boots that Kyo was so fond of wearing. They looked forlorn, dusty, tired, now that they had been set aside. The jacket looked the same, folded neatly at their toes. There was nothing else in the room. The floor was bare hard dirt. The walls, packed dirt as well, were plain – no, not quite.

Letters. Words. Yuki looked closer with a creeping fear. It was Kyo's handwriting, etched into the wall, maybe with a fingernail – no, a single tooth lay directly beneath the words – but Yuki didn't check to see if Kyo's skull was missing anything.

He was just delaying. He didn't really want to read what was written there. But he did have a duty to – he was the only one suitable to see this horror. Tohru was weak, cared too much. Kazuma – a father should never have to see his son in such a state. So Yuki was left when all the others were gone, and besides, he was the only one who knew of this place. He dragged his eyes to that wall.

I wonder when they'll come for me, read the first line, in strong handwriting. I'm hungry. I'd even eat leeks at this point, read the second.

The words got shakier with the sentence, It's been a while. Several vocabulary words (Yuki remembered the test) were written. Mellifluous: flowing like honey. Rambunctious: turbulently active and noisy.

They'll come, the next line read, written diagonally and with the letters not in a line. (Yuki imagined what the cat had been thinking then: maybe he had been imagining Tohru coming into this cage with a steaming plate of riceballs and Ayame frolicking in and Haru bursting through with one solid kick and – Yuki stopped himself before he could go too far and read on.)

When I get out, he read with difficulty, since the writing had suddenly deteriorated almost beyond recognition, I will bea hem al 'll ck r asses nt ground. Yuki almost smiled because this was the Kyo he remembered, and the Kyo he had slowly started to maybe care about. Maybe friends? Maybe.

The next line wasn't really a line at all. The letters were scattered but Yuki picked them out and slowly read they're fucking starving me burn my body and this whole damn place to the fucking ground I hate this family and everyone in it

It stopped. And then a foot lower there was tiny writing in English, nearly illegible, but Yuki recognized the quote as from Romeo and Juliet, even though it was garbled and mixed and not quite correct – I was hurt under your arm – A plague o' your house! They have made worm's meat of me – and underneath that was tinier writing in Japanese this time that said, just plainly, in clear lettering that must have taken such a weakened hand hours upon hours to perfect, it said, just plainly, I once was Kyo and below a tiny tiny little cat stared out at Yuki.

Yuki rocked back on his heels. He hadn't realized he had gotten so close to the wall in deciphering everything on it but now he discovered that his nose was practically touching the dirt.

Unconsciously, he fumbled out a slim digital camera and once he understood what his hands wanted him to do, he documented everything in the room with blinding flashes and harsh clicks; but he knew that he wouldn't need the pictures to see everything in here again because it was all burned into his mind and he kept seeing I was once Kyo like a sunspot in front of his eyes.

His hand closed convulsively around the flashlight and he stuck the camera in his pocket as he stumbled from the room. Luckily his feet knew where to go and they carried him back up to daylight. The sun was out and it was too bright on his dilated eyes.

"Sir?" Someone was speaking to him. Yuki shook off the concerned hand and bowed politely.

"Excuse me, but I am not myself…I will leave this place soon. You may go back to what you were doing before."

"Yes, Mr. Sohma," the someone (probably a minor lackey of the Sohma clan) said, and backed away. Realizing that he probably should get away, he dug out his cellphone, dropping the flashlight in the process, and pecked in Momiji's number with his thumb. The bright man was probably close by.

"Momiji," Yuki said tersely when Momiji answered. "Pick me up. I'm at the Main House in the yard with the east entrance to the basement."

"Why were you there? Are you all right? You don't sound so good…" Momiji fretted too much, Yuki decided.

"Come get me. Now. I'll explain later." Yuki hung up and went to slouch against the wall.

It seemed like an eternity before Momiji arrived with a smile that cheered everyone in the courtyard but Yuki. It only made Yuki pale as a ghost in the too-bright sun.

"Come on, Yuki! Let's get you home! I'm sure Machi is worried!" Momiji kept sending worried glances in Yuki's general direction as they walked toward the car.

Once enclosed in what seemed to Yuki a protective metal cocoon, Momiji rounded on Yuki.

"Cousin, what is wrong? You're crying, you look like a ghost, you smell disgusting, and it's just – it's just – " Here Momiji resorted to wild hand and arm gestures

"I found Kyo." Yuki's voice wasn't expressive. He was too busy feeling at the tears on his face with his fingers – when had he cried them?

Momiji's silence was rare indeed, because he tried to avoid it as much as possible. Now he was stunned into quiet and Yuki wished he would speak.

"Was – was he alive?" Momiji asked even though he knew what the answer would be.

"No," Yuki said sharply. "Why would be? He didn't get any food and I saw his corpse. Stupid rabbit."

Momiji subsided. Then Yuki could barely hear him speak over the starting car. But he just caught the last soft naïve question under the breath of air: "Did he die – happy?"

"No."

I once was Kyo.