Title: The Banquet
Fandom: Fruits Basket
Characters: Honda Tohru, Souma Yuki, Souma Kyou, Souma Haru, Souma Akito, Souma Shigure, Souma Hatori
Summary: In the days before a banquet in celebration of Akito’s birthday that will bring together all the juunishi, Yuki becomes ill. In explaining Yuki’s illness to Tohru and Kyou (who is barred from the banquet because he is not an official member of the Zodiac), Haru reveals a dark side of the Souma family.
Disclaimer: I did not create these characters nor do they belong to me. I do not profit from this in any way.
Word Count: 2234
Rating: Mature, NC-17
Warnings: This is a very dark story that depicts the abuse and humiliation of a child. It includes depiction of execratory bodily functions and menstruation.
Author’s Note: This is the kind of story I am compelled to write, then wonder why the hell I write about stuff like this. Please be aware that I in no way intend to romanticize, glorify or eroticize child abuse. I in no way condone it, yet I still find myself writing about it.
Of course, Kyou was angry--even more angry than usual. Tohru expected that the moment Shigure first mentioned the upcoming banquet.
This banquet, Shigure explained to the girl, was an annual event held on Akito’s birthday. It was a recreation of the original banquet of lore, where God brought together all the animals to form the Zodiac (with Akito, of course, being God). Because the cat had not been a part of the original banquet, Kyou could not be a part of the recreation. He was excluded from Akito’s celebration each year, and each year he took it badly. It was a taunting reminder that he was an outsider, that he did not belong, that the rat had tricked the cat and deprived poor pussy cat of its place at the table.
So, Kyou was naturally seething as the banquet approached. Tohru understood. What she could not understand was how Yuki reacted to the news of the upcoming celebration.
Before her eyes, he seemed to fade and droop that evening Shigure first spoke of the banquet. In the days that followed, he was very quiet. He avoided the others in the house and spent all his time alone in his garden. His eyes were dull and downcast; his very hair, always a beautiful shade of silver lavender, seemed dull gray like an old man’s.
“You’re not eating, Yuki,” Tohru said at breakfast several days later. “You didn’t eat dinner last night. Am I doing something wrong? Am I making the wrong things?”
“No, please, Tohru,” he said quietly. His face was pale, drawn as if in pain. He was losing weight. “Don’t think it’s you. Your meals are lovely. They always are. I haven’t been feeling well.”
“Yeah? What’s wrong, Rat boy?” Kyou demanded. The bulk of the additional anger he had been bristling with lately, like the bulk of his day to day anger, was directed at Yuki.
“My stomach hurts,” Yuki said vacantly.
“Yuki, I understand Akito’s banquets are difficult for you,” Shigure cut in. His tone was cheerful but pointed. “But you will be going.”
If possible, Yuki wilted further, his narrow shoulders slumping.
“You’ll be fine,” Shigure assured him.
“That guy drives me crazy,” Kyou raged to Tohru as they walked to school the day before the banquet, ignoring the fact that Yuki trailed several steps behind. “What’s his problem? He gets included in everything, but he acts like it’s this huge ordeal.”
Kyou spun around abruptly, confronting his cousin.
“What’s your problem?” he snarled. “Are you afraid of Akito or something?”
“Yes,” Yuki said in the flat, dead voice he’d adopted over the past few weeks.
Kyou stopped short, not knowing what to say. For once even he was able to recognize that this was inappropriate.
“It’s just Akito,” Kyou finally said. Yuki didn’t answer. He clutched his stomach, doubling up, and collapsed to the ground, a small unconscious rat amidst his clothes. Tohru shrieked a little, but she could be remarkably levelheaded at times like these as she purposefully scooped up the little animal and carried him back to the house.
Shigure seemed uncharacteristically annoyed when Tohru and Kyou told him what had happened. His brow furled into a scowl, and when he called Hatori to come make sure Yuki was all right, his tone was sharp.
“There’s nothing wrong with him,” they overheard Shigure snap into the telephone. “He’s been intentionally making himself sick trying to get out of tomorrow.”
By the time Hatori arrived, Yuki had transformed back to human form and regained consciousness. The doctor sent Kyou and Tohru out of the room, but through the folding doors, they caught glimpses of Hatori examining Yuki where he lay, huddled naked on the bathroom floor while Shigure looked on, smoking a cigarette. And there was no way they could not hear the conversation of the two men.
“What are you thinking, Shigure?” Hatori said harshly to his cousin. “Yuki’s eating himself up with anxiety. I gave him his monthly check-up three weeks ago, and he’s lost at least five kilograms since then. He’s not sleeping or eating, and he’s been suffering from severe colitis. How did you miss this? Why didn’t you call me sooner?”
“He’s always like this before the banquet,” Shigure answered with exasperation. “We go through this every year.”
“Then he shouldn’t be made to come. You can’t turn a blind eye to what he goes through because it might endanger your position with Akito.”
Shigure laughed and there was a cruelty in his laugh that chilled Tohru. “You’re accusing me of turning a blind eye?” he said. “If I’m not mistaken, Hatori-chan…”
The front door suddenly flew open, and Haru barreled in, white hair disheveled.
“Where’s Yuki?” he demanded.
“Why don’t you knock?” Kyou yelled. “You don’t live here. You can’t just barge in.”
“Where is Yuki?” Haru yelled back.
“Yuki’s sick so both of you are going to keep your voices down and try not to break anything,” Shigure said. He and Hatori had appeared in the doorway, their previous argument suspended for the sake for presenting a unified front of adults to the over-excited young men.
“How did you get here, Haru?” Hatori asked.
“I heard you telling your receptionist that Yuki was sick, and you were coming to see him,” Haru said. “I followed you on my bike. Is he okay? Can I see him?”
“He’ll be all right,” Hatori said. “He was dehydrated, so he’s getting fluids intravenously. I gave him some anti-inflammatory medication and a sedative. He’s been very anxious.”
“Yeah, I know why,” Haru fumed. Shigure frowned and raised an eyebrow as if to caution the boy from going further.
“You can see him,” Hatori said. “Afterwards, I’ll take you back to the main house.”
“You two may as well go along with him to Yuki’s room,” Shigure said to Tohru and Kyou. “I’d like to speak to the doctor without an audience.”
Yuki lay in bed, waxy pale and motionless. The thin tube of an IV drip bandaged to one thin arm. Haru took his cousin’s hand, fiercely kissing it.
“I’ll be with you tomorrow, Yuki,” he whispered. “I’ll try and protect you. It didn’t work before, but I’m not a little kid anymore. I’m strong now; I won’t let anything happen to you.”
Yuki half opened his violet eyes.
“Haru,” he said. “Don’t. Please don’t. Don’t look at me like that.”
“What is his problem?” Kyou shouted. “Why are you being such a baby about this, Rat?”
“You shut up,” Haru ordered, “or I’ll put you through the wall.”
“Try it, Cow.”
But, for once, Haru couldn’t be coaxed into turning dark or fighting. He ignored Kyou, focusing on Yuki. Tenderly, he stroked the older boy’s hair as he drifted away into unconsciousness again.
“What’s going on?” Kyou demanded. Haru glared coolly at him, still grasping Yuki’s hand.
“He wouldn’t want me to tell you,” Haru said. “He’s ashamed of it. He wouldn’t want either of you to know, but you should shut your mouth, Cat. There are a lot of things you don’t know about that come with being in the Zodiac. You might be mad because you can’t come to the banquet, but Yuki would change places with you in a minute.”
“Please, Haru,” Tohru begged. “Tell us what’s wrong with Yuki. Why is he sick? What’s going to happen at this banquet?”
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Haru admitted. “You never know. That’s the way Akito works. Sometimes the banquet is just a regular family birthday party, but sometimes Akito is in a mood … then anything can happen. Sometimes… Sometimes Akito does horrible things,” Haru said, his voice dropping to a whisper.
“Akito hates women the most, so usually it’s the girls who get it the worst,” he said. His cheeks flushed deep red in embarrassment. “Two years ago, Kagura had her period on the day of the banquet, and Akito found out and made her take out the tampon she was wearing. Kagura was wearing a light colored dress and the banquet goes on all evening. After a while, there was a big red stain on her dress, and Akito laughed at her and made all these comments to everyone about how it smelled like pig’s blood.”
“How cruel,” Tohru gasped.
“No way would Kagura put up with that,” Kyou said. “Kagura would go ballistic. She’d rip Akito’s head off.”
Haru gave him a look.
“You know it doesn’t work that way,” he said. “Akito is God. It doesn’t matter how strong we are or how good we can fight. Kagura could take both of us any day, but when it comes to Akito, we have to do as we’re told. You know that. You feel it, too.”
“Yeah, I guess,” Kyou admitted grudgingly. “But what’s Yuki so freaked about? He’s not going to be getting his period.”
“He’s ashamed of it; he wouldn’t want you to know,” Haru said nervously. “But you should know. Maybe then you’d stop being so jealous of him, Kyou. I used to hate him, too, you know. I was wrong, just like you’re wrong. When I stopped believing old legends and saw who Yuki really was, I stopped hating him.” He caressed his sleeping cousin’s face with reverent care.
“Four years ago,” Haru said, “when Yuki was twelve and I was eleven, Akito was on a rampage around the time of the banquet. Everybody was in trouble. There had just been that whole thing with Hatori and his girlfriend; he was still wearing an eye patch. And something was going on with Akito and Shigure; it was right around when he started living outside the main house. That night though, Akito really fixed on Yuki. Hovered over him, making him drink wine. He was a little kid, it was making him sick, but Akito wouldn’t let him leave his place at the table even to get up and go to the bathroom.”
“Hours went by,” he continued. “I was so tired. Akito was really circling the room, lashing into everyone--not just with words, with this little whip. Tearing into everyone, but always coming back to Yuki, taunting him, touching him in a really scary way, but never really crossing the line… I don’t even like to think about it, but it’s all I can think of near these banquets. Yuki was doubled up; his stomach was sensitive even then to stress and to the alcohol. Drinking … it makes you need to go to the bathroom both ways and he couldn’t leave his chair and it was late, really late like one or two in the morning, and it had been hours and finally he couldn’t hold it any more. He peed himself … but it wasn’t just that. He also shit in his pants; he had diarrhea.”
Haru’s cheeks were flushed deep crimson again. He couldn’t meet the eyes of either of his friends.
“Akito started screeching at him, calling him disgusting, saying he was worse than a baby, laughing at him. Akito pushed him off the chair and pulled down his pants so everyone could see, then started beating him with the whip. Yuki was trying to disappear. That was the scariest thing about it. The scariest thing I’ve ever seen. Yuki was covering his face, and I could tell he was trying to just not exist anymore. It made me so mad, crazy mad, I actually turned into Black Haru, and I tried to attack Akito. I tried to attack God, and it felt like the worst pain I could imagine, but I wouldn’t stop. I would have killed Akito, even if it killed me first, for making Yuki want to disappear.”
“But where were the adults?” Tohru asked. “Wasn’t Shigure there? Or Hatori? They never would have let Akito do a thing like that. You said the whole Zodiac was at the banquet. What about Ayame? Ayame would have protected his brother.”
“Ayame was at his place at the table,” Haru said. “He looked disgusted. Hatori was there too. He wouldn’t watch. He turned away. Shigure was holding me back, so I wouldn’t get to Akito.”
Tohru gasped in shock, and even Kyou looked a little queasy.
“I can’t even hate them for it,” Haru said. “I’m just as bad. I love Yuki so I tried to stand up to Akito, but when it was Kagura, I didn’t do a thing and neither did Yuki. We were just relieved it wasn’t our turn.”
“The Zodiac isn’t so special,” the white haired boy said quietly. “The Soumas aren’t so different from other families. Our darkest secret doesn’t have anything to do with ancient curses. It’s that we fail to protect each other and won’t admit that anything’s wrong.”
Kyou and Tohru stayed beside Yuki after Hatori came and took Haru back to the main house. After he left, neither said a word. They were both rendered speechless by what they had heard. Tohru could not articulate the grief it caused her to know those she loved were in such pain, and Kyou could not say that he was sorry or that he had been wrong. Though, when Tohru had fallen asleep curled in her chair beside Yuki’s bed. Kyou took his sleeping cousin’s hand as Haru had and silently held it.