Disclaimer: No, I don't own the Furuba characters. To some extent, I own the character that is 'Yuki Honda', but it's a very small extent.
Summary: He had wanted out. And so he ran. He hadn't wanted to go back. And so he hadn't. He had hoped never to see them again. But things spun out of his control, and now Sohma Yuki was dead.
Author's Note: Whoot. First full-length Furuba story. I've been planning something like this for, gosh, HOW long?!
Yuki had had enough. Enough ofAkito's harsh words; enough of his parents' rejection; enough of the stares, the indifference, the jealousy in the eyes of the others in the Zodiac. Enough of the darkness, the sickness, the fear that hung over the Sohma house, and especially him, like a dark cloud.
He wanted out. Now.
Yuki grabbed the hat, the one Kyo had refused to take back. It suited Kyo better, really, but he wore it anyway. He put on his shoes and hurried out the door. He didn't even glance over his shoulder.
Yuki didn't know where he was going. He didn't know when he'd be back, or if he would ever come back at all. He didn't care. He just wanted out.
Right after dawn, the streets were nearly empty. Yuki had long since lost track of where he was. His breathing came in harsh gasps, every lungful clawing its cruel way through his chest. It wasn't good for his asthma. Yuki knew that. He didn't care. Despite the painful burning of his lungs, his feet flew ever faster. Each step increased his momentum so that each had to fly more quickly than the step before it. Sweat, cold and clammy in the early morning chill, coated his face in a thin, grimy layer. Still, Yuki didn't stop. He wasn't sure he remembered how.
And then, he found something.
The wail came from nearby, hocking Yuki into stillness. He peered around a building and saw a woman, about his mother's age, and two men that he vaguely knew were policemen. The woman was bawling and the policemen tried in vain to comfort her.
"'Keep it down'?!" snapped the lady. "How can I keep it down when my only daughter is missing? Stop talking to me and go find my baby!" Her voice and she started crying again. Yuki stared. He felt very small, suddenly confronted with what he both longed for and feared. There was a strange, tingling feeling inside him, uncomfortable but not at all unpleasant. Yuki's throat felt tight as he continued to watch the mother and the policemen.
"We need more of a description," explained one of the men.
The woman dropped her head into her hands and sobbed without speaking. Then she regained composure with an almost audible snap and looked up, eyes blazing. "I already told you! She's an adorable little girl with an adorable face and voice wearing adorable clothes with adorable pom-poms in her hair! She's so fricken adorable that someone probably walked off with her!"
Pom-poms in her hair… the comment jogged something in his memory. He had seen a girl like that while he was running. How long ago had that been? His sense of time had been completely skewed, but the sky had been getting light. Still breathing hard, Yuki turned and walked back along his path.
Which way was the Sohma House? Yuki didn't know. He'd been skulking around the little girl's house for the past few hours, to make sure she was indeed alright, and no longer knew which way was which. He didn't know exactly why he hadn't left yet, as she was most definitely safe now. Perhaps it was the pull of a love he had never known that held such sway over him. Perhaps it was simple curiosity, simply wondering what would happen when he didn't return to his family home.
Well, Yuki was afraid to leave now. Even if he had wanted to go back, he would probably just get himself even more lost.
Whatever held him there, midmorning found Yuki sitting with his back against the wall and staring blankly sideways at the door. It opened suddenly. Yuki's head snapped forward, anxious not to be caught staring, and he tilted his head upward a little to watch a passing cloud.
"Ohayougozaimasu – good morning! Are you waiting for someone?" Yuki turned his head again to see the eyes of the girl peering at him. She was wearing Kyo's hat.
"Iie – no, I'm not." Yuki wanted to say more, to see if she recognized him. He lost his nerve and said nothing. He wanted to ask her, certainly, wanted her to recognize him, wanted to recreate the feeling of being needed, if only for a false moment. But he didn't. He was too afraid.
"Would you mind terribly if I asked what you were doing, then?" Normally the question would have sounded suspicious. From her, it was nothing but polite curiosity. Yuki felt obligated to answer. He shifted uncomfortably, a blush staining his pale cheeks.
"I was just making sure you got home alright," he mumbled, half lying.
"Ka?" the girl asked, tilting her head to one side. Her gaze swept him up and down and her eyes widened as she recognized his clothing. "Ah! You're the boy who helped me last night, is that right?"
Yuki gave a fractional nod. The girl immediately bowed.
"Arigatou gozaimasu – thank you very much! Please, come inside. I'll make lunch as a thank you!" She blushed and stuttered quickly, "T-that is, if you want me to!" She shyly held out a hand to help him up.
Yuki looked at her. A smile curled at the corners of his lips. "I'd like that very much.Arigatou – thank you." The girl helped him to his feet and let go of his hand. She led him back towards the apartment. They began to climb flights of stairs, the girl leading.
"My name is Tohru," she offered.
"Hajimemashita – I'm pleased to meet you, Tohru-san," he replied automatically. "I'm Yuki."
"Hajimemashita!" Tohru chirped. "This is my door," she added, pointing. The two children walked inside, Tohru cheerfully and Yuki cautiously. He hunched his shoulders, instinctively trying to make himself smaller.
"Okaa-san, tadaima" Tohru called. "I'm home, mom!"
"Okaeri!" came the cheerful reply. "Welcome home! You couldn't have gone all the way to the store, Tohru-chan!" A woman emerged into the front hall, where Tohru had neatly taken off her shoes and Yuki was doing the same. "Eh? Who is this?" the woman asked. Yuki mumbled that he was sorry for intruding and bowed his head briefly.
"This is Yuki-san! He brought me home last night," explained Tohru. "I thought I'd make him lunch as a thank you."
"That's a good idea," agreed the woman. "Tohru's cooking is very good, Yuki-kun. You'll enjoy it." Tohru went bright red.
"Please make yourself comfortable, Yuki-san!" the girl said, bowing. To her mother, she added, "I'm going to the store now!" She turned and hurried out the door. When it had closed, he turned shyly to the woman. She met his gaze and smiled.
"My name is Honda Kyoko."
"Come sit with me," Kyoko offered. She walked into another room. At the Sohma main house, the décor was very much in the traditional Japanese style. Here, Kyoko seemed to have gone for a Western style. There were two small couches on the carpeted floor. She sat on one, looking very much at home. He tentatively lowered himself onto the other.
"Where do you go to school, Yuki-san? My Tohru goes to Kawakami, just down the street."
Yuki named his private school aloud. He wished he could have gone to Kawakami, the public school for his part of Tokyo. Obviously he wasn't as far from home as he'd thought.
"Do you like going to school there?"
"Yes, ma'am, it's a nice school," Yuki answered dutifully. Truthfully, he hated it. Yuki was in the third grade now, and he had no friends. No one talked to him. And the homework was too hard, but his mother didn't care enough to help him with it.
Kyoko seemed to know all this, because she looked at him piercingly. Yuki fidgeted and wouldn't meet her eyes. After a moment, she changed the subject.
"Where do you live, Yuki-san? I'll drive you home after lunch."
Fear welled up in his chest and he felt his eyes go wide. When he went home, Akito would be angry with him. And when Akito was angry with him…
Yuki saw in his mind's eye the little black room, where Akito told him awful things, until he screamed and begged for him to stop. And he begged for someone to come and get him, but no one ever came.
"Oh, no, ma'am, please! Please don't take me back!" he blurted. Then he froze. "I mean, I can get home on my own. You don't have to go through the trouble." But the damage was done. Kyoko looked surprised, and then smiled gently.
"Do you want to talk about… anything?" she asked kindly. Yuki wanted to. But he looked down and shook his head no. "Sure? Strangers are always better to talk to."
Yuki glanced up quickly. He caught her eye, saw the sincere concern and kindness in her gaze, and was overcome by that feeling again. The warm, tingly feeling in his chest, the one that he couldn't recognize and didn't really like, but would give anything to keep. And the floodgates opened, and he talked.
Yuki spoke dully at first, hesitantly, telling her nothing about his last name, or family secrets, or the curse. But he told her that he had a brother more than twice his age, and that his brother had never spoken to him. He told her that his father was gone – not dead, not divorced from his mother, just… gone – and that his mother had practically sold him to the tyrannical head of the family. His shoulders began to shake.
Kyoko moved to sit on the couch with him, though safely on the other side. She edged toward him slowly but surely, and stopped when he showed any nervousness. But when he relaxed, she started again.
Soon, she sat very close to him, and very gently reached up to touch his shoulder. Her touch was very light, and he could hardly feel it, but the tingly feeling in his chest grew and he couldn't hold it in any more. He started crying while he talked. He hadn't cried in years. But he cried in front of her, an almost complete stranger, someone he had met only an hour ago. He should shut up. He should just shut up right now, get up and leave the apartment, run and never look back. But he didn't. He wanted to stay with Tohru and her mom forever.
Eventually, his words ran out and he was left curled up on the sofa cushion, sobbing into his knees. Kyoko had left her hand on his shoulder for a while, but now she was rubbing his back. She reached out with her other arm to hug him.
That was when Yuki regained his senses. Everything anyone had ever told him raced through his head. You're a freak. When people hug you, you turn into a rat. Freak. Freak. Freak. He rolled off the couch, landing hard on the floor, and scrambled away, muttering apologies all the while. They sat in complete and extremely awkward silence until Tohru returned.
During lunch, both Tohru and Kyoko tried to engage him in conversation, but Yuki ate in silence. He was nervous and just wanted to get out of there as fast as he could.
When lunch was finished, he stood and bowed. "Thank you very much for lunch," Yuki said. "I'll go now."
And without waiting for consent or acknowledgement, Yuki turned and fled the apartment. He hoped that he would never have to see Honda Kyoko, with her kind smile and genuine concern for him, or Honda Tohru, with her cheerful demeanor and over-polite gestures, again.
Fate laughed at that hope.