Tohru sighed heavily and scrutinized her reflection in the mirror. She tugged at the pearls around her neck, adjusting them. The pearls gleamed a warm pink in the light, matching the soft rose tones of her dress. Mom would have been so happy for me, she thought dully. She would tell me I looked beautiful and helped me put on the pearls….
The pearls. Mom’s pearls.
With one final glance at the mirror, Tohru left her room and shuffled down the stairs, down to the room where she knew Yuki was waiting. After what seemed like an eternity, the hallway opened into the main room. Yuki stood near the doorway, watching the hallway expectantly. He wore a dark suit with a crisp white shirt, looking every bit the gentleman he was. His face lit up as she walked into the room, and his excitement showed as he strode over to where she was standing.
“You look beautiful, Honda-san,” Yuki leaned over and whispered in her ear. “I’m so happy we are going to the prom together.” Leaning down, he took her hand in his and pressed his lips gently to it.
“Yes,” Tohru murmured distractedly, not looking at him. How could she focus on Yuki when he was in the room? He was dressed in a black suit as well, but he wore a gray shirt underneath with the collar undone, and he wasn’t wearing a tie. She stared at the top of his head, watching as he leaned over something she couldn’t see. His hair fell in his face, but he didn’t seem to notice. She longed to push it out of the way so she could see his deep brown eyes, eyes that held a gentleness that only she could see.
“Honda-san?” Yuki’s voice broke into her thoughts. “Are you ready to go? It’s almost time for the prom to start.”
“Oh…yes, I am. I’m coming.” Tohru forced a smile. Yuki smiled back and headed to the door. Within seconds, he was gone.
Tohru sighed heavily and made to follow him, even though she knew in her heart they shouldn't be going to the prom together. She knew they weren’t meant to be together, but she didn’t have the heart to tell him.
“Tohru?” A voice called out from behind her, and her heart leapt at the sound. “Before you go…”
“Yes!?” she squeaked, rushing over to his side. “What is it, Kyo-kun?” She gazed eagerly into his face.
“I…I, um,” he stammered, shuffling his feet. “Before we go to the prom, I…I wanted to…to give you something. “ He turned away again, and when he turned back around, she saw that his fist was clenched around a small object. He smiled at her, and she watched his nervousness melt away. “Close your eyes.”
She obliged, wondering what he could possibly want to give her. She heard him moving behind her, and she felt the soft stroke of his sleeve as he reached past her head. Then something cold slid around her neck, and she opened her eyes. A gold chain hung around her neck, and a small orange cat hung from it. The cat sat with its tail wrapped neatly around its paws, and to Tohru it looked happy and excited, waiting for a feast it would never attend.
“Shishou gave it to me,” Kyo said from behind her. “He said it belonged to his grandfather, as a symbol that not everything in the cat’s life has to be miserable, that the cat can find happiness, too. He thought I might want it. It made me think of you. Besides Shishou, you’re the only person who ever really believed in me. I wanted you to know that I’m not gonna give up fighting, I’m gonna prove myself to everyone, even Akito-san. I wanted to let you know how grateful I am that you believe in me, I wanted to say thank you for everything you’ve done for me, and I wanted to say…I wanted to say, I love you, Tohru.”
Slowly, Tohru turned around. I can’t believe he just said that to me. I’ve been waiting for so long, hoping, and he said he loves me. ME. I can’t believe it. Kyo stood looking at the ground, bright red, his face hopeful under his embarrassment. “Kyo-kun?” Tohru whispered. Kyo looked up, his eyes bright and gleaming as they met hers. “I…I’m so happy. You’ve made me so happy, Kyo-kun! I love you, too!” The confession burst forth from her, as naturally as breathing. The second she said it, she knew it was true. She knew that Kyo was meant to be her forever.
In an instant, Kyo was standing in front of her, just inches away. He put his hand on the back of her neck, warm against her skin. His head was angled down towards her, his chocolate eyes on hers, his bangs in his face. He was smiling at her, a happy smile she had never seen him give to anyone, not even his Shishou. “Tohru?” he said again. “Would you come to the prom with me?” And just like that, her fantasy crashed down around her.
She wanted nothing more than to say yes to Kyo. But how could she do that, with Yuki waiting outside for her? He was the Prince, and he could have any girl he wanted. But, he had chosen her. Tohru didn’t understand why he would ever choose her, but she knew in her heart that he loved her. She just didn’t know how to tell him that she didn’t love him in the same way.
“But…but what about Yuki-kun?” she cried, horrified.
“Damn rat,” he muttered. Kyo’s face hardened, and he looked away, anger and hurt swelling in his eyes. Even as he became angrier, Kyo’s grip on her neck never tightened, and he held Tohru as gently as ever. She mumbled, “I promised him I’d go with him! He’s been nothing but nice to me, and I’m going to break his heart. Oh, I’m such a terrible person!” Tohru put her face in her hands.
Kyo took her hands and pulled them away from her face, cradling them in one of his. With his other hand, he pulled her chin up, forcing her to meet his eyes. “Shhh, shhh,” he crooned. “You’re not a terrible person. You can’t control who he loves. It’s not your fault. Besides,” he whispered, “He has his whole life ahead of him, the whole world at his feet. I’m not going to let him take you away from me.”
“I…I know,” Tohru said. “But I don’t think I can do it. I don’t think I can break his heart. Of course Yuki is important to me,” a shadow passed over Kyo’s face, “but, I don’t love him, not the way I love you. Just give him one more night. He’s just so happy. I’ll tell him tomorrow. I…I promise.”
Kyo closed his eyes and leaned down, pressing his forehead to hers. “Okay,” he whispered. “I understand. I guess I don’t have a choice. I can tell see you aren’t ready to tell him.”
Tohru fought the urge to hug him, to let him hold her and keep her safe away from the world, if even just for a minute before he turned into a cat. Just for one minute, before she left him for the night and her world turned upside down…”I love you, Kyo-kun,” she whispered, unwilling to move.
He smiled, and his glee was evident. “I love you too, Tohru,” he whispered back.
A creak in the floorboard shocked Tohru and Kyo from their whispered confessions. Kyo’s head shot up, and she saw the faint glimmer of anger and disgust in his eyes that signified Yuki’s arrival. Slowly, she turned around, unwilling to face him just yet.
When she saw Yuki’s face, Tohru almost lost her composure. She let out a strangled sob, and she wished that he didn’t love her the way he did. Yuki looked lost, his eyes wide and empty except for the shock of what was in front of him. He opened and closed his mouth, gaping as he tried to put his feelings into words. After a minute he gave up and his face fell, defeated. His eyes closed and he hung his head. Tohru watched, and she wished for the umpteenth time that he didn’t love her, so he wouldn’t mind as much that she loved Kyo, loved him more than anything, loved him in a way she had never thought possible. Yuki didn’t deserve this kind of hurt. But she needed Kyo, and she had made her choice; there was no turning back now.
After an excruciating minute of an unbelievably loud and painful silence, Yuki looked up. He gazed into her troubled eyes, taking in the worry and the sadness she felt on his behalf. He forced a smile, but it did not reach his eyes, did not replace the love and hurt in his gaze. A single tear rolled down his cheek, falling to the floor. A puff of smoke concealed his figure, and Yuki was gone.
All that was left was a pile of clothes on the floor, and a small white rat, sobbing as he burrowed himself deeper into the empty clothes.