Disclaimer: I do not own Fruits Basket or anything that went into the making of Fruits Basket. Natsuki Takaya is its creator and its owner, I am merely playing with her characters.
Closed Drawer Feeling
It was some time after Akito's death that Yuki took out the letters that he had written him during their seperation. Akito had been in the ground how long? Two weeks… Yuki sat on his bed holding the bundle of unread letters to his chest. He wasn't ready for this. God knew he wasn't ready for this… But…what if he never was?
Yuki sighed as he closed his eyes. He'd always had a tendency to over-think things. That had gotten him into trouble as a child countless times. With Akito. With everyone. And now, when his feelings should be guiding him most of all perhaps, he couldn't stop the conflict in his mind.
The feel and smell of the old paper in his hands was soothing. As long as he didn't have to read them… Akito had been writing to him ever since they--ever since Yuki moved out. He'd gotten used to receiving letters in the mail every other week. For three years. Letters that he always opened but never read. He couldn't bring himself to read them. Living with Akito, hearing his words in person, had been painful enough. Why torment himself by reading them as well? The curiosity was always there. What if the letters weren't vindictive? What if Akito was simply recounting the events of each new day, trying to rebuild the bridge between them that had been gradually torn down? That was what Ayame wanted--to make things better, even if he never came out and admitted that he'd been wrong. Even if he never said he was sorry. Maybe Akito wanted that too.
Yuki had grown up in that house with Akito. He knew every ache and pain that had ever troubled him, every tear that he had tried to hide. He knew Akito's moods, his preferences, his routines, fears, and passions. These things had been revealed to him over the years--through playing together, eating together, talking and laughing and bathing and walking and sleeping together--just as all of Yuki's little quirks and habits had been revealed to Akito in the same way. They knew each other inside and out, like the beat of their own hearts. And in a way, that was what made the Accidents so terrible. It made them hurt more because…Akito did love him and he did love Akito. And…he hated him more for what happened because they did love each other so much. It was impossible to forget. And…he couldn't go back. Because if he were ever to look into those so-familiar eyes once again and allow himself to enjoy it…he might die the next time It happened. It would be too much.
And then that day came.
The day when Yuki no longer had a choice as to whether or not he would forgive Akito, and whether or not he would continue to run from what they'd had. What had they had? A universe. A nightmare and a dream, an ocean of pain and love that he never wanted to drown in. He couldn't go back. And then…he really really couldn't because Akito just wasn't there anymore.
It happened while Yuki was in school--very similar to how Tohru had heard about her mother's accident (he'd started calling her that now; it seemed easier than holding her at arm's length by her surname)--an office monitor stepped into his classroom and asked to speak to him. In the hallway right outside that room where he could still hear his classmates laughing and whispering together as their indifferent Calculus teacher droned on and on about solving problems, Tomiko-san looked down at him (he was a very tall man) and said with heartfelt sympathy that there had been a death in Yuki's family.
Yuki still told himself that he hadn't felt it. That he hadn't known instantly, upon hearing those words, who it was that had left him. The tightness in his lungs, feeling a kick to his stomach, watching the hallway spin around him as he suddenly felt dizzy… He told himself he was making it up so that he wouldn't have to think about it.
He didn't remember what happened next. But suddenly he was standing in the Honke, in the room Akito had died in--his bedroom; a room they had once played cards in together--looking down on Akito's small, crumpled white body; lifeless--and not believing it.
"This isn't happening." He'd said. And somebody's hand was on his shoulder.
He remembered the funeral like he remembered some dreams; foggy, obscure, fading in and out. Someone was crying. Someone else was screaming. Most people were quiet and hunched over and still.
He was Akito's first cousin; it should have been his duty to help carry the casket bearing his body. But they left him sitting there on the pew, staring straight ahead, as other men, more aware and functioning than he, went forward and carried out that task.
The next thing he remembered was crawling into his own bed at Shigure's house, where he was still living although he was in college now, because it was the only place he felt safe--the only place where he had no memories of Akito but could still feel the closeness of his protection--and closing his eyes and taking a deep breath that seemed to go on and on. He fell into the emptiness and awoke far too early--a full day later, Shigure said, his dark eyes dry and tired and haunted.
A full day. Funny how those turn into years.
He thought about this while he held the letters over his heart--letters that probably held traces of his cousin's cruelty, reminders of their violent past together; and mockery that Yuki would never be able to leave him behind. How could Akito enjoy his suffering so much? How could he still claim to love him?
Well…he couldn't anymore; Yuki's mouth twisted into a bitter smirk. Tears stung his eyes. They'd been waiting to fall. He didn't quite know how to let them go.
"One step at a time." That was something that Ayame had told him once when they were kids; one of the few things he could remember from their stolen childhood together. They'd been in his mother's bedroom trying on her clothes; at the time Yuki hadn't thought it odd--he was only three years old and he didn't know that men weren't supposed to wear high heels and dresses and three-inch-thick layers of makeup.
Ayame was thirteen and apparently he didn't know that cross-dressing was wrong, either. For he was wearing their mother's long, slinky evening gown with sequins all over, and a pair of matching high-heeled sandals that he seemed to get around in fine--he'd probably had a lot of practice before introducing Yuki to it.
Yuki, short even for three, was drowning in one of his mother's shiny silk blouses, and his feet were immersed in a pair of shocking red stilletos that he later thought looked like something a hooker might wear--if he could even rely on his memory to provide a clear image of something that had happened fifteen years ago, that is.
"I can't walk in these." Yuki had complained as Ayame stood over him grinning; amused, probably, by his efforts and amused certainly by getting away with something so forbidden.
Ayame's eager, vicious smile had become gentle for just a moment. "It's not hard if you know how. One step at a time, Yuki. Try it--just try."
And walking when he couldn't find his balance suddenly became just a little bit easier.
"One step at a time. One word…" Yuki breathed. And he unfolded the first letter of the bunch--the first letter Akito had written him since Yuki had left the Main House and moved in with Shigure--he set the others aside and placed the open letter on his lap, smoothing the wrinkles out.
The first line said. "Oh God." Yuki whimpered, folding it again and tossing it beside him. He leaned forward, elbows on knees and hands on face, trembling and chanting, "I can't do it, I can't."
He swallowed the lump in his throat and tried to breathe. Maybe in a few more years…a few more years and he could do this.
Akito was dead. He wasn't coming back.
"You can't hurt me…anymore." Yuki picked up the letter again, unfolded it and started reading again.
It has now been four months since you left home. I miss you so much. But I know this is the best thing for both of us. I'm so happy that I let you go.
He was…happy? Akito, who had called and left messages on his answering maching, messages that were cruel and calculated and designed to hurt him so deeply he'd never be able to get rid of that pain. Akito who had driven him to change his number and then, to throw his phone away altogether…to ignore Shigure when he came home from school because he didn't want to hear it through him. Akito who had never ever said he was sorry about anything and never ever would?
I'm happy and I'm sad, and the singing rain that clings to my window tells me that the drought is ending. Our prayers are answered. Sweet, darling Yuki I will always think of you and when you are ready we will be together again. Consider this the last chapter of a book that should not have been written. The Crowd-pleaser, the Verse-Thief. It's over and we can go on. Remember for me…I forget sometimes…that this was the best thing.
Keep in touch. Please, please do. I will be here if you need me. I'll be in the garden; I'll be in our bed. I'm always next to you. I am always for you. I won't forgive disobedience…but I will do my best to prevent you from straying in the first place. You won't forget me, I know. And maybe…someday you will be able to forgive me for loving you with so much abandon.
I'm not one to say I'm sorry. But this time I really, really am. I'm not one to beg. But…I hope that someday you will read this letter and know… I tried so hard.
Yours alone. Akito.
His hands shaking, his mind numb, he turned to the next letter. This couldn't be happening.
Yuki, my love,
Why haven't you written me back? Are you still so angry? Of course you are. I understand. Anger is what I feel best in the black of night and the harsh bright of day. Anger is what I feel as I lie here, dying, alone, waiting for a reason that will seem like justice.
I understand your anger. But I don't understand your rudeness. Why must you always defy me? Why must you ignore my every effort to make this better? I went to your house to visit and you weren't there. I call you every night and you never pick up. I extend invitations that go ignored, and I start to feel that you have truly forgotten me as I feared for so long that you would.
I am God, right? I am your master. Can I order you to love me? Can I order you to close your eyes on the sight of my weakness? This heart beats only to fail. These hands are rough with days of idleness and emptiness…where your hands used to hold them and require love. You aren't here anymore and the silence where there used to be peace is something I find myself screaming to interrupt.
I'm a god that screwed up. I get that. Will you ever understand that I'm human?
Still Forever. Akito.
The next letter was crumpled, as though he'd never meant to send it.
I know you won't read this. I know that you can't. I was too harsh in my last letter. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I made you stay inside on such a nice day. I'm sorry that I over-reacted when you spillt the milk. I'm sorry that I made you lick it from the floor.
I'm sorry that I said you were boring and that I was the only one who could ever love you--I was frustrated, you see. I didn't know how our interests could be so different when we seemed made for each other in every other way. It didn't seem right.
I'm sorry that I whipped you when you disobeyed me. All I could think about was how you chose them over me, although you said you weren't going to meet friends, you just wanted to check on the flowers we'd planted together. I found your footprints there later. I knew I'd been wrong and I couldn't bring myself to say I was sorry. I'm saying it now.
I'm sorry that I kicked you when you crawled into bed with me because your feet were so cold--I was in such a foul mood that day. The pneumonia made it painful to breathe--you'll understand that--and I just couldn't get warm no matter how many blankets I huddled under. People kept on calling me and asking me to set up appointmens, and to read their stupid proposals and apply my signature, and complaining about how other family members had wronged them. I was so tired from dealing with it. And your feet were so cold.
I'm sorry you had to sleep on the floor that night and that you had a cold the next morning when you woke up.
I'm sorry that I made you choose between me and your other friends, and that I still wasn't satisfied when you chose me. I'm sorry that I said you were too serious, and boring for thinking about grown-up affairs--I didn't want you turn out like me, worrying when you shouldn't have to, doing everyone else's work, drowning in paperwork that gave you migraines and dried you up inside with bitter.
I'm sorry that I let Shigure kiss me and that I flirted with Hatori when he leaned over me to listen to my heartbeat, even when I knew you were standing right there watching. I'm sorry that I wanted you to see it, that I wanted you to be jealous--I never could believe that you loved me enough.
I'm sorry that I pushed you away when you were crying, and that I wouldn't let you drink soda pop on your birthday, and that I made you wear that stupid dress and then laughed about it. It really did look very nice on you; I was surprised by how that made me feel. I shouldn't have laughed to cover it up. I shouldn't have called you a girl.
I'm sorry that I slapped you when you broke my favorite statue--it was something Mother left me after she died. One of the few things I had left to remember her by. But I never told you that. I didn't tell you anything, ever, when I hit you, except how stupid and clumsy and useless you were.
You're not stupid. You're the most clever person I ever met. Sometimes you say something so profound that I have to walk away and not speak to anyone and be alone for hours. Because your words shake me up inside. They make me feel like crying, because the world isn't always so dark; sometimes it's so damn beautiful, and I feel like I'll never be a part of it.
You're not clumsy. You're so, so graceful and when I watch you dance my breath is taken away. I realize that it's not because you're the rat of the zodiac but because you are yourself, and you were born to move like a wave over water, endless and soft and singing.
You're not useless. You give me a reason to live. I fucked up with you every single day but when the sun went down every single time, and I looked next to me and saw your beautiful face I remembered why I wasn't dead yet--because you give me a reason to hold on. Your uses are sacred, and what I've used you for is unforgivable.
I never meant to hit you. To bruise you, to knock out your perfect white teeth so that you had to get a bridge, to pull your hair out in clumps so that you were ashamed to be seen in public without a hat. I didn't mean to burn you, to stab you, to do any of those things that I did and that I can barely remember because I was so angry at the time. How do I explain what rage feels like? You know anger, I understand that; but do you know what it's like to feel your heart skip beats because you can't stop shaking because you want to kill something so, so badly, because it's all so unfair and wrong and unbearably hideous? I feel it every day. All I can think about is hurting the world that has condemned me.
I'm sorry I lose it when I see red, I'm sorry that my hand lashes out when maybe if I tried a little bit harder I could make it be still. I'm sorry that I refused to go to counseling when it was offered; maybe then I could have hurt you a little less. But…that would mean talking to a stranger. It would mean opening up to someone who's not you. It would mean admitting out loud all the terrible things that I've done and that I don't know how to change, and that sometimes I don't even want to because it feels good to pretend I'm in control.
I'm sorry about that.
I'm sorry that I made you bundle up on cold days until you looked like a ridiculous lump on the sidewalk and all the other children stared at you. I told you to ignore them, I told you to think about what was important. I'd just gotten over the flu and it was still going around and I was so scared that you'd catch it and spend days puking and hurting all over. I didn't think that much about what it felt like to look stupid in front of your peers. I never had any.
I'm sorry I left you when you needed me. I'm sorry I didn't respond to your touch. I'm sorry that I accused you of having thoughts that you would never have, and that I didn't trust you to cross the road on your own and not get hit by a car. I'm sorry I made you recite my favorite poems for hours and told you it was to help your memory develop--the sound of your voice was so beautiful. I'm sorry I made you memorize the entire Book of Souma when you had other homework to do--somehow I thought I could make you into the perfect Souma, the perfect human being. I realize now that perfect is a robot. I realize that when you're gone.
I'm sorry I bossed you around all of the time, and made you clean when there were servants to do the cleaning. I'm sorry I'd drop something for the pleasure of watching you bend and pick it up. I'm sorry I yelled if you didn't do it fast enough.
I'm sorry that I was emotionally unavailable. I'm sorry that I was difficult, and impossible, and demanding. I'm sorry that we only played the games that I wanted to play and that I made you walk around the room naked so that I could see your scars. I'm sorry that I made you say out loud that you were worthless and irresponsible and ugly on the inside. I'm sorry that I made you say it every day.
I'm sorry that I was never satisfied with the A's you got in school. I'm sorry I made you study without a break so that they would become A+'s, all the time. I'm sorry that I gave you extra homework and that I made you do research on universities that you didn't want to attend. I'm sorry that the hours of your life were spent bent over a desk with writer's cramp and bleary eyes.
I'm sorry that I pushed you into having sex when you weren't ready. I'm sorry that I turned it into a punishment, when you'd loved it so much before. I'm sorry that you grew to dread our intimacy, and to feign illness because you couldn't become aroused when you were so frightened. I valued our love and I ruined it. I ruined everything. And then, I shared it with everyone. I told them how you were inattentive to my needs. They started talking about you. They called you names that I would not have permitted in my house under different circumstances. I'm sorry that you were trying to kill yourself when you should have been happy enough to celebrate the New Year with everyone else; I made those scars on your wrist, just like I made all the others.
I'm sorry that I refused your help. That I pushed you away; how could you think of me when you were feeling so much pain yourself? You always were so kind that way--putting others first. Putting me above everyone else. You weren't lying when you said you loved me, right? I should have believed you.
I'm sorry I gave up. I'm sorry I made the move permanent. I'm sorry that I crushed the flowers you sent me for Valentine's Day--I guess you didn't know about that. How could you, when we never speak to one another? When you never return my calls and ask me how my day has been? When you don't call to ask if I liked the flowers, if I even wanted them to begin with.
Maybe I want you to be here. What's your problem?! I have been so forgiving, for so long, of every stupid thing that you ever did. I took you in when your mother didn't want you. I played with you after all of your other friends forgot you, because you were stupid enough to play a game with them that you shouldn't have played, because it was dangerous and they did end up finding out the Secret and having to get their memories erased. And then you cried. When it was your own damn fault. Blaming me, like everyone else always has, for doing the right thing for this family. So that the government doesn't come to kill us all for being freaks!
I would do anything for you. I always have. Please forgive me, Yuki. Please don't be mad anymore. I'll change if I can. I know I can't. I'll be this way forever. I'll hate everyone. But I love you, don't you know that? Can you see with my eyes, can you hear with my ears and know how everything, absolutely everything, hurts me to the point that it kills?
I wish you were here. I wish you'd read this. I wish that I had a little more patience and that I hadn't written you a freaking book when I meant to write you a letter. You probably won't read it now, because it's too long, and there are things you don't want to hear.
You've probably forgotten.
He had to stop. He didn't know when he'd started crying, but now he couldn't see to read the next letter. It was several minutes before he could go on. And when he started reading again, he knew he was doing it just to torture himself. He already knew what all of the letters said. He already knew that he should have read them sooner--instead of running away, like he'd claimed he didn't want to do anymore. Why did he have to find out this way? Why did it have to be like this?
Dear, sweet Yuki,
I think about you all the time. Maybe that's not healthy. But I can't forget the way our hands fit together, and how good your arms felt when they were around me.
I've tried to leave you alone. I know that you need your space, that you need time to think about this. It's been six months since you left me. Is that long enough? Long enough to start talking again, I mean. I really hope it is. I know it's still early, but would you please think about moving back in with me? I've thought about it, and although I'm scared, I would like to try getting some help. I need to have better control over my temper, and I need to learn to let things go. I don't know how to do that. I still find myself plotting against those who've hurt me, trying to think of ways that I can ruin their lives. I know that sounds bizarre to you--even inhuman, maybe--but it's my only source of comfort. I need to feel like I'm in control. There's too much happening to me, without my permission, to give up everything. Maybe I could learn a better way to deal with the pain if I talked to somebody who knows about these things. But I need your help, Yuki. I can't do it without you.
I'm trying to change. To become someone gentle and kind. Someone like you. I always wanted to be like you, you know that? In every way possible. I never met a person more loving. They don't exist.
Changing means biting my tongue to stop the nasty words. It means clenching my fists until my nails tear open the tender skin of my palms, breathing deep and rocking back and forth so that I don't race forward to hurt someone. It means putting away every hard or sharp object so that it's not within throwing distance, and writing down a nice response to every question, and reciting it by memory when I feel like screaming insults and condemnation. It is very hard and I find myself becoming sicker than ever. I don't know how long I can keep this monster in. I'm afraid it will be worse when it emerges again. People are talking. They're expecting me to lose it again any day now. How do you win against something like that? No one believes I can do it. Be a good person. It is hard. I want to give up.
Sometimes it helps when I think about how soft and yielding your mouth was as I kissed you. It helps to think of how amazing it felt when we made love. The sound of your voice on a cool autumn day as we walked beneath trees with falling leaves…how the red and gold and brown looked against your silver hair. Your slender fingers interlaced with mine.
I'm running out of memories to distract. Isn't that funny? We shared a childhood together, and I'm already running out of memories. It's been six months. I miss you so much. Please call if you can bear to. I need you now more than ever.
Always, forever, with endless love for you. Akito.
I lost my temper today. It's been three days since I started trying to hold it in, and I've already lost. I suppose you're not interested in calling me later, are you? I'd like to hear from you. Your soft voice is being carried away on the wind…I've nearly forgotten what it sounds like. Call me, okay?
I'll be waiting.
Love you. Akito.
He read every single letter, with tears overflowing, and hands so shaky that he could barely hold the letters to read them. When he reached the last one he hesitated, the sinking feeling in his stomach growing.
He began to read.
I think I really am dying this time. I feel that my time is near. I don't have a lot of energy to write this--I'm sorry that I can't say everything that I need to say. I've apologized so much already and it doesn't begin to make up the list of things I'm sorry for. It doesn't begin to make things better.
I understand why you never answered any of my other letters. If anyone can hold a grudge, it's me. So I understand. Really. But please, do you think you could come and see me now? I need to see you face to face. I need to tell you in person how sorry I am. That won't change what happened between us. But…I'd like to die with some semblance of peace. I'm realizing now what's important. And that is that I love you and you loved me and the memory of that will live forever…even after the scars on your body have begun to fade, and the harsh words that I said to you are buried beneath the confidence that comes with your success. And of course you will succeed. You will survive, in spite of the things I did to you. All things that are broken begin to heal.
Please do this for me. Please come to the Main House so that I can tell you I love you. I need that to be the last thing you ever heard from me. I need it to erase everything else, as much as it can.
I'll say this plainly: I'm sorry. I was pathetic; I was a terrible person. I wronged you and I don't deserve to be forgiven. Please forgive me anyways. Please find it in your heart to do so--if anyone can, it's you.
I love you. Even after I'm gone, even after our last chance dies…I will love you forever.
Yours alone, Akito.
It was a long time before Yuki could pick himself up. The words were scattered around him. Everything was on the floor. He thought perhaps he'd been sick. It was barely in his mind. All he could see was the unopened letters shut away inside that closed drawer. It was all he could feel and feel.
He left his room, he walked downstairs, he went outside and entered the forest. It lay between them…the forest, between Shigure's house and Akito.
When he reached the spot, he sank to his knees and put his hand on the stone, and breathed in the musk of the old, old ground. He'd never seen such beautiful characters before--he could feel them inscribed beneath his palm.
"I forgive you." He gasped. "I love you."
It's never too late. It's never too hard. It's never undeserved.
He believed that now. And all was at peace. The world could turn again.
are you still mad I
kicked you out of bed?
are you still mad I gave you ultimatums?
are you still mad I compared you to all
my forty year old male friends?
are you still mad I shared our problems
are you still mad I had an
are you still mad I tried to mold you into
who I wanted you to be?
are you still mad I didn't trust your intentions?
of course you are
of course you are
still mad that I flirted wildly?
are you still mad I had a tendency to mother you?
are you still mad that I had one foot out of the door?
are you still mad that we slept together even after
we had ended it?
of course you are
of course you are
are you still mad I wore the pants most of the
are you still mad that I seemed to focus
only on your potential?
are you still mad that I threw in the towel?
are you still mad that I gave up long before you did?
of course you are
of course you are
Alanis Morisette, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, Are You Still Mad?
Do not let the sun go down on your anger.
Ephesians 4:26, New American Standard Bible, God
Read and review please. Thank you.