Author: everstar (everstar3)
Characters: Sohma Kyou and Honda Tohru (pairing)
Rating: PG, if that
Notes: Set shortly after they return from the beach house, before Tohru goes to see Kazuma (i.e., the beginning of volume 12). Title and epigraph from "When You Say Nothing at All", by Alison Krauss and Union Station, from the album Now That I've Found You: A Collection.
The smile on your face lets me know that you need me
There’s a truth in your eyes saying you’ll never leave me
The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me if ever I fall
You say it best when you say nothing at all
Part the First: Honda Tohru
1. Often during the day, she'll feel a tingle along her skin, as if someone is watching her. She doesn't know how she knows it's Kyou-kun, or why he does it, and she doesn't quite have the courage to ask. Instead, when the hair on the back of her neck prickles, she smiles a little more brightly, doing her best to shine in in his eyes.
2. She saw Kyou-kun with his shirt off a few times over the summer: flawless tawny skin stretched over shoulders that are still too narrow to be a man's, but are no longer a boy's. Her fingers tingled with the urge to reach out and touch, to see if he would lean into her hand in the manner of the Cat he is.
3. She does not have the words for how angry she is at the Sohmas. Not the Juunishi -- she loves them, all of them, even nervous Ritchan-san and enigmatical Shigure-san -- but the Sohmas. The ones who refused to let Shishou-san's grandfather be buried in Sohma land. The ones who refused to take in a disowned, orphaned, cursed little boy. The ones who will take Kyou-kun away from her.
4. The future has become something she cannot contemplate. She knows she will have a job, and friends, and that life will continue. She knows she should be content with these things. But when she tries to tell herself, Kyou-kun will not be there, Kyou-kun will be gone, the pain is so intense that she cannot breathe.
5. She's grateful to Yuki-kun for coming to pick her up from work. It's almost begun to amuse her: the small crowd of onlookers that gather at the building's entrance to catch a glimpse of him, and Yuki-kun, patient, long-suffering, smiling politely even though she knows he desperately wishes they weren't staring so much. But just once, she wishes for hair made gaudy by the streetlight and a quick sidelong smile. Kyou-kun would be annoyed by the people staring, she knows, and would never believe her when she tried to tell him that they weren't staring only because of his hair.
6. It strikes her as funny, sometimes, that Kyou-kun should be the one to whom she is so drawn. After all, she spends much more time with Yuki-kun: eating, studying, talking, walking. And in the beginning, it might have been so, that her heart inclined towards the twilight and not the dawn. She thinks the change may have been as simple, and as ridiculous, as the realization that Kyou-kun touches her, and Yuki-kun does not. Yuki-kun forever maintains his courtly, arms' length boundary. Kyou-kun grabs her hand, smacks her on the head, tugs her hair, taps her shoulder. And the unforgivable sin: he hugged her.
7. When she does think about that dizzying, terrifying, exhilarating night she saw Kyou-kun's other form -- she refuses to call that other shape his true form, Kyou-kun's true form has orange hair and scarlet eyes and a smile steadily becoming less shy -- she remembers only two things clearly. One is the sharp slash of pain from Kyou-kun's claws catching her across the collar bone. The other is the smell of his skin as he held her tight in trembling arms the instant before he transformed: rain and dirt and home.
8. When she wakes up trembling and sweating from the renewed nightmare of her mother's death, one of the things that comforts her is studying the faintly discolored patch on the ceiling of her room. Some nights, if she holds her breath, she can hear the occasional faint footstep from above, and she falls back to sleep smiling.
9. She's given Kyou-kun chocolate every Valentine's Day she's lived with the Sohmas. Once when she was putting clothes away in his dresser, she found the wrappings from the candy she'd given him tucked away under his shirts. She carefully took off the hair ribbon she was wearing and added it to the collection. The ribbons and paper were gone the next time she looked, and she has never found them again.
10. Tohru cannot tell you when she fell in love with Kyou-kun, or when she realized it. But she can tell you she knows wanting Kyou-kun with her now and for the rest of her life is selfish, and beyond selfish. She can tell you that she knows heaven and the God may never forgive her for interfering. But she doesn't care. Losing Kyou-kun is too much. She cannot bear it. She refuses.
Part the Second: Sohma Kyou
1. One of his habits is watching Tohru. "Stalking," Haru called it the one time he caught Kyou at it. Kyou calls it memorizing, trying to store up a lifetime's worth of smiles and puzzled looks and panicky gestures and thoughtful faces in the span of a year and a half. Sometimes he quizzes himself, seeing if he can remember exactly how the wind plays with her hair, or the way her throat flows into the line of her shoulders. He never gets it quite right.
2. He makes a concerted effort not to imagine kissing Tohru or holding Tohru or doing anything of That Nature with Tohru, but his body tries to turn traitor on him at the most inconvenient times. (He considers the fact that he got through an entire summer of laughing, swimsuit-clad Tohru without humiliating himself or her to be a personal triumph, although one of which he can never boast.)
3. He knows if he were truly selfless, he would be honest with her and tell her about the cage that waits for him in the heart of the main house. He wants to tell her it's not her fault he's not strong enough to defy Akito. He wants to tell her that he'll always love her. But the only thing he hates more than Akito is her tears, and all his confessing would do is make her cry.
4. He builds Tohru great gorgeous airy palaces in his mind. The houses always have enough bedrooms to house all the Juunishi as well as the Yankee and the psychic, and hell, even her grandpa if she wants. It's a purely intellectual exercise, since he can't contemplate actually living with both Ritsu and Momiji without getting an enormous headache. Living with Shigure is bad enough. That said, he's careful to make the kitchen just the right size: neither too big for her to manage nor too small for her to cook properly in. And he always adds a ladder to the roof.
5. He wants, just once, to walk her home from work. He'd like to be outside when she's finished, to see the look of surprise and pleasure on her face. He'd take her bag from her, ignoring her protestations, because she carries enough as it is. Perhaps he'd be able to cajole her into letting him buy her noodles from a vendor. They'd walk together, and he'd listen to her chatter about the day, and somehow the world would seem serene and calm and happy.
6. It is with bitter satisfaction that he knows the person in whose hands he will leave her when the time comes is the one person he has not ever been able to defeat. Take care of her, he wants to say to Yuki. Take care of her, because I can't. But that would mean admitting to the Rat that he has given up, and he can't quite bring himself to do that. Not yet.
7. He has nearly forgiven himself for bloody scratches in ivory skin, and her look of shock and pain. He has nearly forgiven himself for the crack of half a table against her forehead, and blood trickling down her face. He has nearly forgiven himself for all the tears she's cried over the years when he hasn't been there to take care of her. He has nearly forgiven himself for all the tears she's cried when he has. Nearly.
8. His favorite spot on the roof is right over her room, on the spot where he broke through to confront Yuki all those months ago. They're separated only by wood, tile, and air, and some nights he pretends that they're just sitting together, quietly, no words needed.
9. He has never given her a White Day present. It is one of the last things he plans to do.
10. Kyou cannot tell you when he fell in love with Tohru, but he can tell you to the day and hour when he realized it. He can also tell you that it will not stop when the door closes behind him, or when he forgets what the sky looks like. He will love her for the rest of his life, and when they come to take the beads for the next Cat, it will still be true.