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A Fruits Basket fanfic by Sakura
Standard disclaimers apply.
Slightly OOC, perhaps.
I think I went overboard with my empathy.
Slightly edited version up 2002.9.4.
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The light from the bedside lamp was dim, and the story told by her cousin Shigure was marred by the occasional yawn and leg stretching. Still Kagura lay awake, listening carefully, watching her cousin's face as he spoke.
/Once upon a time,/ Shigure intoned, /there was a girl who loved too much. She had small, delicate-looking hands, but whenever she tried to touch something dear to her, she ended up destroying it. She reached for her favorite doll and effortlessly broke the arm into pieces. She plucked a lovely flower and ended up crushing it in her palm. She hugged a cat and was surprised to hear it scream as if in pain. Her hands tore robes, broke mirrors, mashed paper cranes instead of folding them, ruined cup after cup. Her parents brushed it all off as childish clumsiness and consoled themselves with the thought that she would outgrow it someday./
Kagura blinked. /And she did?/
/No, the years didn't change her. Whenever she tried to embrace her poor mother and father, they felt as if their lives were being wrung out of them. They were desperate; they had their daughter see doctors, but nobody was able to help her. What cure was there for loving too much? All seemed hopeless until finally, the girl volunteered her own solution./
There was a pause while her cousin gazed at her from his perch on her mattress.
/What...did she say?/ Kagura timidly asked.
/The girl said, if it will make everyone happy, I will cease to Love./
"Go away." The boy kept his head bent over his bowl, pretending to busy himself with his meal. He had orange hair that turned pale gold in the sunlight, and Kagura stood fascinated by it, momentarily forgetting why she had come all the way to the back of the house just to see him.
A slight breeze blew, and there came the rustle of leaves. The back of the main house was shady and quiet --- perfect for the Cat, Akito often said, with a hint of malice in his eyes. Kagura always wondered why the Cat did not have a place at the dinner table, why it always had to take its meals alone. She dared ask Akito once, and only got a soft but cold reprieve in return. Be quiet, silly girl.
The orange head snapped up, and a pair of narrowed brown eyes stared at her. "What?"
"Oh, nothing." She shifted her feet. "Can I sit here with you?"
"You're not allowed to."
"Don't worry, Akito wouldn't know."
"I'm not talking about Akito, I'm talking about me." His tone turned haughty. "I don't give you permission to stay."
She pouted. "Is that so?"
"Yes, that is so." He put down the empty bowl on his tray, rubbed at his mouth, and quickly jumped up to his feet. His movements were startingly graceful, almost unexpected for a rough mannered boy like him. He flexed his arms above his head and let out a little yawn.
She giggled. "You really are such a Cat."
The boy only lifted his hands higher and closed his eyes.
/I will cease to Love, said the girl. And if I am far away from everything I have grown to love, maybe it will be easier for me to forget. So off she went in search of a place far away from her parents and everything she held dear.
After days and nights of travelling, she found herself in a deep dark forest where no birds sang, no flowers bloomed, no sunshine filtered through the trees. The girl thought it was probably the perfect place to stay, and decided to venture deep into the woods. But the forest had surprises in store for her --- the dark winding trail unexpectedly led her to a clearing, and in that clearing, the girl found a sight that was even more unexpected.
There was a boy, sitting under a tree, watching her with wide dark eyes./
"Don't come near me!" He howled, clutching the broken bracelet on his wrist as if it pained him. Black and white beads scattered around the floor in a frenzy as he backed into the wall. "Go away!"
"But why?" She cried. Somebody gripped her arm and held her back as the boy let out a pained scream and clutched at his head. She watched in horror as his flesh slowly morphed into something else, something terrible, and she suddenly lost all the strength in her arms, feeling them fall limply at her sides.
/This is my forest,/ said the boy. /I came here because I wanted to be alone./
/But why do you want to be alone?/ asked the girl, curiously.
/Because I like being alone./ The boy looked at her with contempt, but she saw the sadness that lurked deep in his eyes. He turned away as if to shield himself from her gaze. /Now leave and find another forest to live in./
/I want to stay,/ the girl found herself saying. /Here. With you./
"Look." His voice sounded more gruff than usual. Or maybe that was because she had never talked to him on the telephone before. It was a very pleasant surprise, answering the phone and hearing his voice for the first time in what seemed like years. She cradled the receiver gently against her ear as he spoke. "Look, Kagura, I'm not calling you because I wanted to, got it?"
"Not because you wanted to," she giggled, "but because you really really wanted to, right?"
He snorted. "Say what you want."
She smiled and leaned against the counter. "Well, how have you been?"
"Fine." He coughed. "I'll make this quick. The class…I mean, we've been given tickets to a museum---"
Her heart leapt. "And you want me to come along."
"It was her suggestion, okay. Don't get any funny ideas. She said it'd be a shame if I didn't use the extra ticket on someone else, and I'm not stupid enough to ask Shigure---"
"`She'? You mean Tohru-san?"
"Yeah." A note of impatience crept into his voice. "So are you coming or not? Because if you're not, I'm giving this ticket to someone else."
"I'll come." She felt so happy, she couldn't breathe. "Thanks for asking me. Just tell me when and where we---"
"Come to school on Tuesday at eight in the morning."
"Eight in the morning, okay, I'll see y---"
He hung up without saying goodbye. Kagura stared at the receiver for a moment before carefully setting it down on the cradle.
/The girl's heart was stirred.
What better match was there for the girl who had so much love to give than the one boy who needed all the love in the world?
She smiled at him, held out her arms, offered him her hand to hold, tried to soothe him with her words. But the boy pushed her away, screaming, get away from me, leave me alone./
"Look, Kyou-kun," Kagura tugged on his hand for attention, "isn't that a lovely painting?"
"Mmm" was all he said. For the rest of the afternoon he had finally stopped pulling away from her grasp, even stopped denying stories that Kagura was his fiancee and that they had been engaged to marry ever since they were born, and had resigned himself to being tugged around the museum. Kagura was in heaven.
"Look at the water lilies. Aren't they pretty? Aren't they as pretty as the ones we used to play with at the main house?"
She glanced at him. His brown eyes were absently regarding something else in the room. She followed his gaze and saw what had been on his mind right from the start --- a dark-haired girl and a slight, pale boy, smiling and talking in front of a painting of sunflowers.
"Tohru-san and Yun-chan look happy."
Kyou's expression darkened. His hand went stiff in hers, and she suddenly tightened her grip. "It was just a simple observation, Kyou-kun."
"Then don't say anything, idiot."
"What, can't I say what I want to?"
"Just shut up."
"Do you really expect to get Tohru-san to like you if you're always crabby like that?" The words flew out of her mouth before she could stop herself.
Kyou's mouth fell open in shock.
"Girls don't like crabby guys, for your information. And we don't like guys who don't listen to a thing we say, either." She gave his hand a little shake. "Now, are you going to listen to me?"
He was still staring at her. "Kagura…"
/The girl did her best to make the boy open up to her, but all that caring for him and receiving nothing but his scorn in return had soon taken its toll on her. In the end she realized that he was like everyone else --- easily broken under the weight of her affection, not strong enough to bear her ardor.
If I cease to Love you, will you be happy? asked the girl.
Just leave, said the boy, not looking at her.
Farewell, said the girl, and she left the forest./
She gently but firmly turned Kyou around so they were facing the painting. "Now, what do you think?"
"Think of what?"
He still seemed shocked. "It's…nice."
"Not good enough. Keep thinking."
"Just what is this about?" He was about to turn around and face her, but she would not let him. "Just look at the painting and tell me what you see."
He sighed in defeat. "Water lilies."
"And a whole lot of pink in a pool."
"That's all." There was a pause. "I don't think water should be that pink. It should have more blue and green."
Kagura peeked over his shoulder. "Hmm, that's right. Remember that little creek at the back of the main house? The one where we used to catch fish all the time? That one was kind of blue and green and a bit silvery."
"Only when the sun was out," Kyou corrected her. "And we didn't catch fish, we caught twigs." A scornful smile lifted his lips. "Damn Yuki was bad at catching them."
"That's because Yun-chan didn't get to do that very often, not like us. We were always out there, playing."
A comfortable silence ensued. For a moment, Kagura leaned her forehead against the small of his back and closed her eyes. It was magic. For once he did not cringe at the contact, for once he did not try to move away or yell at her. He just stood there, letting her lean against him, and it was sheer magic.
And the moment ended.
She moved away and beamed at him. "Kyou-kun."
He turned around, still looking at her strangely.
"You have the rest of the afternoon."
His brown eyes searched hers for a moment before darting back to the corner where Tohru and Yuki still stood talking, then strayed back to her face.
"What are you waiting for?" she asked.
Slowly, his eyes softened.
/The girl stopped at the edge of the forest, looking back at where she had come from.
I guess I made another person very happy, she said. She turned on her heel and continued her journey./
"I'm so glad you came along with us today, Kagura-san." Tohru smiled. Kagura thought it was a very lovely, sweet smile, and could not help but grin back. "No, Tohru-san, thank you for telling Kyou-kun to invite me. I had lots of fun."
The dark-haired girl shook her head vehemently. "Oh no, Kagura-san, Kyou-kun did that all on his own."
"Stupid cat rarely makes his own decisions though," Yuki quipped. Kagura laughed.
"Shut up, damn Yuki!"
"You two, please don't fight…"
"They're not fighting," Kagura airily said, "they're getting along very well."
Kyou scoffed. "Yeah, like salt and water."
"You mean oil and water. Stupid cat."
"I wasn't talking to you!"
"Kyou-kun, Yuki-kun, please…"
Kagura smiled, and gave the strap of her backpack a little tug. "Well, I'd better be going now. See you."
"W-W-Wait, Kagura-san, you're leaving?" Tohru's gaze darted from her face to Kyou, who had leaned against a post and was now impatiently tapping his foot against the pavement.
"See you." Yuki smiled.
"Bye-bye, Yun-chan, Tohru-san." Then, more quietly, "Kyou-kun." Without waiting for the latter to speak up and ignoring Tohru's feeble protests, Kagura gave a small wave, turned on her heel, and walked away.
/The journey took her far away to places she had never known before, and the girl thought she was happy as she could ever be. But at night, when she sat alone under the stars, her thoughts trailed back to her mother and father, to the little things she had treasured, to the one boy she thought would welcome her affection.
They are happy because I have ceased to Love them, she thought. Then she remembered all of them and the boy and his dark sad eyes, and she would throw her arms about herself and cry and cry and cry./
Then Shigure leaned over and tucked the covers under her chin. /The end./
/I don't like that story./ Kagura struggled to keep her eyes open. /I think the girl was very foolish./
/Was she?/ Shigure smiled.
/She still loved them very much, even in the end./
/Yes, she did./ Her cousin yawned, shifting. The mattress creaked slightly.
/And the boy, he was also foolish; he really wanted to be loved./
/But he couldn't handle her love because he was afraid./ Shigure chuckled. /But who knows? I only said the story ends there, but it could go on and on and on. For all we know the boy might summon his courage and leave the forest to look for the girl. Or maybe…/
His voice trailed off. Kagura's eyes were closed, and there was a small smile on her lips.
/Or maybe, Kagura-chan,/ Shigure murmured, /the girl will bravely go on her journey, and live her life knowing she had loved with all her heart, and she will never ever regret having done so./
Saying thus, he reached over and turned the lamp off.