Title: Pink Elephants Warping Time and
Fandom: Fruits Basket
Summary: Momiji's Illicit Love!!
Warnings: Spoilers for Momiji's back story.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, nor do I have permission to use them. Sorry. They were just so nifty.
"No, no, Shigure," Momiji said, grinning secretly. "I can't come to dinner. I have a date."
"Could it be... high school girls?" his older cousin asked.
"An older woman! Momiji, you surprise me - well, not really. Aya and I had a bet..."
"No!" said Momiji, his secret grin widening. "Not even." He could almost smell his older cousin's surmise, rich and earthy as a fox's musk, rising from the receiver of his phone as the warped mind of a professional romance writer ticked over the possibilities.
"Then I won't keep you," said Shigure, finally. "I'll give your best to dear Tohru. And Kyo and Yuki of course. Good luck! Don't do anything I would do!" He hung up.
There was spiced bread in the oven, and pretty blue bows tying back the curtains. The floor was vacuumed and the bathroom had been scrubbed with this lemony stuff. He was hunched over a cut-crystal bowl gently teasing colour-chips of pot pourri into a big flower pattern when the ringing doorbell made him knock the bowl and scatter it back to chaos. He dived for the door, almost bashing his head, but yanked it open fiercely.
But the girl at the door almost took his breath away. "Oh my, little cousin," murmured Momiji. "You got tall." And then his grin wasn't secret anymore but open and bright as suns and lemons and butterscotch drops.
The girl was fully his height, golden-haired and blue-eyed, with long, long legs descending from the short pleated skirt of her school uniform. She had a black eye, and a plaster adorned one knee. A hockey stick and violin case jostled for space in the awkward bundle held in her arms. She dimpled.
"It was all the German food, big cousin," said Momo. "It puts meat on a young fraulein's bones."
"Come on in, little cousin!" exclaimed Momiji. "But... I can't call you little anymore." His blue eyes brimmed with tears.
Momo looked alarmed, and took a half step off the welcome mat, as if wishing she could rewrite history and make the time she'd spent away never have happened.
Momiji grinned, caught the girl in a lock around her neck and noogied her with his free hand. "Ow!" she cried. "Wah! Momiji's picking on me! Wah! Wah!"
When they'd worked through that part of saying hello and were inside eating the spicy bread with butter and hot tea she explained, somewhat breathlessly, "I told Papa that I was having a violin lesson and then a sleepover with a friend which is all true because you will be teaching me and you're a friend, so it's alright and I didn't lie to Papa and Mama at all."
"Exactly so," said Momiji approvingly.
"And I learned how to play hockey in Germany and it's very fun but sometimes the ball doesn't go where you expect it to."
"And you have an owie?"
"It's alright," she said, rubbing her eye a little. "But please don't talk so cutesy, because it sounds a bit weird now I'm as tall as you."
"And can I have the next part of the Pink Elephants Warping Time and Space story, pretty please?"
"Okay! But after violin practice."
So they played "When You Wish Upon a Star" and "In the Pale Moonlight" and "Suo Gan" together and, when the sunset was glowing red and gold through the pretty curtains, they ate scrambled eggs with toast and watched Bride of Frankenstein on Momiji's old television set. By that time, Momo was half asleep, which was just right for this kind of story, so Momiji tugged a blanket over her as she curled up with her head on his lap, and began:
"You know, it's not only pink elephants that warp time and space. Everything has weight; every moment stretches time; every person changes the world just by existing, which is what Penelope the Perspicaceous Pink Elephant found out when she was in stuck in the mud and met a tiny little hedgehog called Hammy.
"Now Hammy wasn't quite an orphan and he wasn't quite not an orphan. And he wasn't quite a hedgehog or not a hedgehog, either. His mama was a human princess, with long golden hair and blue eyes, who lived in a house in the woods by a river, with three sheep and two pigs and a partridge for company. But she stood on a horse chestnut just before Hammy was born - you know, the spiny ones? - and the shock of it did something strange to her, so that the baby she carried under her heart grew long sharp spines.
" 'What's this?' she said, when he was born. 'My baby should be warm and pink and soft. This thing has spines and I bleed when I touch it. This isn't my baby.' "
"That was mean," mumbled Momo.
"I think the hedgehog must have hurt her. He didn't want to but there it is, it happened."
"It was still mean."
Momiji shrugged. "Because she thought Hammy wasn't hers, she wrapped him up as best she could and sent him floating down the river to find his own family, and then she forgot that she'd ever had him. But her arms ached and her heart yearned and she set about getting another baby just as soon as she could. This one was a daughter, with golden hair and eyes as blue as the sky.
"Meanwhile, the last thing Hammy heard his mama say was, 'Find your family!' So he decided to grow up as soon as he could, to do that. On the first day he could lift a pebble. On the second day, a boulder. Within a year, he could lift just exactly the weight of a pink elephant stuck in sticky mud, which is good because that is when he met Penelope..."
Momiji continued his story, winding it through the bounds of fact and fable. There was Elephant Kung Fu, which was very mighty, and an articulated kite, because he quite liked kites. He stopped when he realised Momo was all the way asleep and smiled, secretly.
He tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear and watched her breathe, slow and calm and serene. "Sometimes we have happy endings, little sister. We make them with our hands."