"I'll Be Standing There By You", A Fruits Basket Fan Fiction
Main Characters: Kyo Sohma, Yuki Sohma, Tohru Honda-Sohma
Summary: As Tohru Sohma loses her battle with terminal cancer, Yuki temporarily moves in with Tohru and Kyo to offer support. Tohru is Kyo's life, and Yuki fears what might become of his cousin after Tohru is gone. This story takes place 5 years after the end of the manga.
Warning: Main character death.
Disclaimer: If wishes were fishes my apartment would really stink.
"It's 4:03 and I can't sleep"—Shinedown.
Yuki Sohma was not a morning person, never had been, never would be, which was why a telephone ringing at 4:00 in the morning warranted attempted murder and rude greetings. Without opening his eyes, Yuki groped for the cell phone on the nightstand beside his Western style bed. It was really his own fault for forgetting to turn the ringer off; work be damned if they needed him before 7:00 am when he naturally rose.
Loose change rattled and he felt the links of his gold wrist watch with the side of his hand as he accidentally batted it off the stand with a muted thump. His hand closed around his skinny cell phone, clutching it as it vibrated in his palm. Slowly he brought it to his face and flipped it open. "What?"
He didn't bother opening his eyes to look at the caller ID. He'd be asleep again soon enough, so why waste the effort?
He was met with silence on the other end, then the sound of soft breathing.
"Hello?" He demanded. His voice sounded rough and aggravated. He coughed a few times to get the frog out of his throat. "This better not be a wrong number."
Damn. If it had been a wrong number, at least Yuki could hang up. "Yeah?"
He didn't recognize the voice. It was obviously male, and obviously a close associate for the person to have used his first name with no honorific. Only Ayame or Shigure were evil enough to call this early, but the meekness of that voice didn't match either one of theirs. Could it be Ritsu?
Oh, please spare him that.
"I… I shouldn't have called."
You got that right. Yuki sat up in bed, rubbing his free hand over his face. The voice still wasn't bringing a face to mind. The person was practically whispering, as if talking hurt. Slowly, Yuki cracked open his eyes, moaning inwardly at the familiar sting in them that came with waking too early. He pulled the phone away from his face with a yawn and glanced at the caller ID. He paused. It was Tohru's number.
It had been a year since Yuki had seen Tohru or Kyo in person. They had attended his university graduation and stayed with him for a week afterward, but then they'd taken the train back to Kyoto. They kept themselves pretty busy in Maizuru: Kyo opening his own dojo and Tohru, a burgeoning entrepreneur, working in, co-managing and then finally taking over a small bakery from an elderly couple with no children. Yuki sometimes wondered what it might have been like had he chosen to get a job immediately after high school instead of going to university. Kyo and Tohru were extremely happy and successful on their own without Kyo's Sohma funds to aid them. Though, Kyo had used the Sohma funds to purchase the cottage he and Tohru lived in, and to pay for their wedding three years ago.
"Kyo, what's the matter?"
Kyo had always been an early riser, but he wasn't one to make phone calls. Tohru usually called, and the phone was passed to Kyo so that he and Yuki could chat for a few minutes, before Tohru took over again. How long had it been since Yuki had talked to Tohru-a month, maybe two?
There was a choked sound on the other end, then another, then a soft sob.
Yuki's stomach clenched in fear. "Kyo? What's happened? Is Tohru all right? Why are you calling me from her phone?"
After several hitching sighs, Kyo spoke. His voice was still small; it wavered. "I'm not supposed to tell."
"Tell what?" Yuki kicked off his blankets and sheets and got out of bed. He hissed and hopped on one foot after the other foot crunched down on his fallen watch. "You're scaring me. Please, tell me what's wrong."
"I can't… but I need… someone to talk to that I don't… have to smile around all the time. But-she just-she never wants to worry or trouble anyone."
There was a short pause. Yuki listened to Kyo's breath hitch several more times, his gut pulsing in time with them. "She-she's dying on me, Yuki. She's dying."
Yuki nearly dropped the phone. He sank to his knees, resting his head on the side of the bed while Kyo sobbed brokenly. It seemed like hours before Kyo was able to speak again. Yuki sat, body numb, insides frozen, head reeling.
Tohru was hurt…ill…? When? "Kyo… when? How?" I'm sorry.
"It's… it's cancer. L—last year… she…there was a tumor in her breast and—and the doctor did a biopsy and said it was cancer. But… but we caught it early and it was supposed to be fine." Kyo spoke quickly, his voice breaking every few words. Yuki clutched the phone so hard his hand ached.
"But…it spread; it went everywhere. Th—there's nothing else-the doctors say there's nothing else they can do. We did everything they said. We did everything…" Kyo began to cry again and Yuki closed his eyes, feeling tears roll down his own cheeks.
"Is she- in the hospital?"
"She comes home this week. She—she wants to be home."
She'd gotten sick last year. Had Tohru been ill at his graduation and Yuki hadn't noticed a thing? How could she keep it from him? How could she never say anything when she called him? That Tohru, always thinking of the welfare of others; she never wanted to be a bother, not even when it was justified.
"What about Hatori? Has Hatori seen her?" Yuki demanded. Hope surged in his chest. Hatori was a brilliant doctor. He always made Yuki better. He could help Tohru.
"Hatori doesn't specialize in oncology. He couldn't—he wasn't able to help."
It was as if someone had punched him and thrown him in cold water. It was getting hard to breathe; he heard his breath begin to whistle. Yuki staggered to his feet and thudded clumsily to the bathroom. He kept an emergency inhaler in the medicine cabinet. His asthma had been mild to non-existent since he'd started college, and he didn't always carry his inhaler. Hatori told him he was being stupid, but Yuki liked not having the medicine in his back pocket. It was a constant reminder of how weak he used to be.
The bathroom light was bright and he squinted as he opened the medicine cabinet and pulled out his inhaler. Kyo was quiet on his end. Yuki gave himself a dose of medicated mist and waited for his breathing to ease, before daring to speak again.
"Kyo, who's been with you this entire time?" Surely Miss Uotani or Miss Hanajima had been called to be at Tohru's side.
"Tohru," Kyo said softly. "It's just been Tohru and me. We were going to beat it, Yuki. We were supposed to win. Tohru was going to tell you all when it was over, when she was better. She just didn't get better."
And they'd been alone that whole time. Kyo was alone, watching Tohru die.
"Kyo…" Yuki put the cap on his inhaler and slid it back onto its shelf. "I'm going to catch the early train to Kyoto this afternoon, and I'll get a taxi to your house. Do you still keep a spare key in the flower pot by the back door?"
"Y…. Ah…. Y—yes."
"I'll call you when I'm there, then."
Yuki stopped moving, leaning on the bathroom sink and waiting for Kyo's explosion of protests. Tohru didn't want anyone to worry. Tohru might not want him there. Kyo needed to ask Tohru first.
What came next shocked him.
"Kyo?" Yuki swallowed hard. "Are you all right?"
"I don't know," Kyo said. "You can call me on Tohru's phone. I've been carrying it lately. Have-have a safe trip."
Yuki almost protested when Kyo disconnected. His chest ached, but it wasn't asthma this time. He didn't like to think about Kyo crying alone. He didn't want to think about Tohru in a hospital asking to be allowed to die at home.
He needed to call work, he needed to pack, and he needed to call Machi. His fiancé wasn't the most eloquent, especially when it came to emotional matters, but she made him feel better. She wouldn't be able to come with him, she still had a year of university left and classes and exams to take, nor would she have felt all that comfortable coming with him.
Who would feel comfortable coming to watch someone die?
Yuki set his phone down next to the sink and sank to the cold floor tiles. He covered his face with his hands even with no one there to see him weep. His shoulders shook slightly, bumping against the drawers beneath his sink.
He was going to watch Tohru die.
Adams, Bryan. "Heaven." Reckless. A&M, 1990. CD.
Shinedown. "If You Only Knew." Sounds of Madness. Atlantic, 2008. CD.
Author's Note: I know, I know, what a morbid story for such an optimistic, silver-lining manga series. Well, maybe there is a silver-lining to this plot, too. :). So, what's the verdict? Like it? Hate it? Don't care either way? Well, anyway you liked it, let me know. Please review!