AUTHOR'S NOTE: Tell me what you think. A little dry, I reckon.

Fruits Basket © Natsuki Takaya.

She glanced at her watch, brow furrowing.

He's late.

Rigid in her seat, Machi tried to make out a familiar figure trudging through the snow, hunched over against the harsh blows of the wind. A soft sigh, but to no avail. Her fingers closed around her drink as she took another sip, only to realize that it was empty. She set the glass back down, placing clasped hands in her lap, taking in the odd decor of the café that they had agreed to meet at.

Wait a minute.

Was this the correct meeting place? Had she misheard? What if she was at the wrong cafe?

Her heart pounded in her chest.

The contents of her bag hit the table with a loud clatter. Ignoring raised heads about her, Machi searched frantically for the slip of paper that she had written the address onto, sending objects proven immaterial in her quest skidding off the table.

Here it is.

Paper crinkled in her hands, on the verge of tearing as she glared at her own scratchy writing.

This is the right place.

Releasing a breath she hadn't realised she'd been holding, Machi pressed her hands against her warmth tinted cheeks and looked at her watch again.

Maybe something came up.

Or there was an accident.

Being unused to these sorts of things—a date, to be specific—she felt that she should go home while she still had a chance. But as soon as the thought popped up in her mind, Machi shook her head.

I won't run away.

Just—Just ten more minutes.

As she waited she couldn't help but scowl at the snow piling up outside. It drifted into an endless path of white—just the kind of perfection she despised. Machi turned away from the window, and stared at her empty glass, at her empty bag, its contents scattered over the table and around her feet.

She wasn't quite sure what to do.

Bring, bring.

Machi gasped loudly, not noticing turned heads as she wildly swam through the items on the table and at her feet, desperately searching for her mobile phone. A sound of triumph. She gripped the ringing mobile tightly, knuckles turning white.

Yes. It must be Y—

She froze, staring blankly at the Caller ID.


Bring, bring.

Machi turned pink, embarrassed at herself for being so convinced that it was him calling her. Sighing, she hit the 'Receive Call' button, and spoke tentatively, "Hello?"

"Machi? Where are you? Are you out? I phoned your apartment and no one answered."

"I'm at a café."

"A café? Alone?"

Machi paused, glancing out the window once again before finally answering, "Yes."

A heavy sigh. "I have to say, Machi, that doesn't come to me as a surprise."

The abrupt splashing sound of glass shattering cut through the piano's light melody. Machi winced, her head jerked up involuntarily to find the source. She didn't seem to notice the shards of broken glass at her feet.

"Machi? Hello? Why are you so quiet?"


Another sigh. "Why do I even bother?"



Her expression remained passive as she gazed down at her phone, at two words in particular.

'Call Ended.'

Just as the waitress came to clean up the glass Machi had knocked over, she sprung up from her seat and marched out the door, bell jingling after her. Eyes followed, all bewildered by her actions.

Standing outside the café, Machi took a deep icy breath, feeling her head clear a little. Her eyes trailed up and down the street. Not a soul in sight. She squinted at the dingy street lamp, digging her hands deep in her pockets, finding herself drawn to the snow at her feet. White, pure, perfect.

No. She shouldn't. She couldn't. She wouldn't.

Yuki had helped her through that. She was over it. There was no need for it. There was no need for destroying it.

But she did anyway.

It started off with simply scattering footprints but it didn't satisfy. And so Machi settled for violent stomping.

Her thoughts churned, all pounding against her skull painfully. Nothing had changed. She hadn't changed. It was still—

Nothing outstanding.


No personality.




A mistake.



Machi kicked a slight bump in the snow, only to curse at the curb she had just bruised her toes with. She stopped. Bent over, breathing ragged, she glared daggers at the craters she had made in the snow. There was a prickling sensation forming in her eyes. Tears. Hot and angry. A muted and mangled scream of frustration escaped the back of her throat.

Most people walking by would probably think of her as insane or mentally unstable, standing outside the café with her hands entangled in her own hair, tear tracks running from swollen red eyes and down flushed cheeks. Maybe she was. Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder—it was a hesitant movement, a gentle touch.

"Machi? Are you alright?"

A quick intake of breath.

Whipping around instantly, she recognised the cocked head, the concerned tone, the comforting presence. "Machi?" Yuki squeezed her shoulder. "I'm sorry, I'm really la—" Not letting him finish his apology, she wrapped her arms around his waist, blood rushing to her face.

"You're here."