Mariyako: The Ultimate Curse

Author's Note: This is a Fruit's Basket fic—which I have decided to put up here because I already have one on (which I should work on…) The show, the characters, the idea of it is not mine—my OCS are (of course) mine, and I have nothing more to say at the moment. I will later, but until then…

Chapter One: Home At Last

The cool, cruel wind whipped past my already raw pink cheeks, stinging me, hurting me, cleansing me and freeing me. I felt like a bird, a feathered animal of flight, a winged creature, free to do whatever I want, free to be free, to escape this world, to never look back, to never be controlled, to never again live in the torment within which I was raised. The wind, which had started as a soft, light, caressing breeze had turned into a raging, fiery whiplash of moving air, sending my hair flying up behind me, fluttering around and about and above my head, from which is originates. My hair: long, wavy, thick, soft. A blend of colors, more than I could ever count or even hope to contemplate, mixing together, swirling around, endless, restless—just like my eyes. Natural hair colors—white, silver, gray, black; brown, blonde, red—along with many more, more than you can even think or dream of, blended together perfectly, creating a single, solid color you can only tell is not solid if you look at it close enough. Then, there are my eyes; a mixture of colors to match my hair—or is it the other way around? All natural eye colors, and some that are a bit strange…Purple, blue, green, yellow, silver, gold, gray, red, brown, pink, orange…All normal colors—and not so normal colors—swirling, twirling, combining, blending…being

I am all.

I am everything.

I am Sohma.

I watched her, the embodiment of us all, as she stood there—on top of a tall hill—staring out over the city, into the sky. Her eyes were probably closed as she thought about how she wishes to be free more than anything. Poor, poor girl. A sad, lost, unfortunate, controlled little girl was she; and now she has grown up, grown into a sad, lost, unfortunate, imprisoned young woman—beautiful, yet tragic, for her curse is the worst of them all. Torn away from her parents to live abroad, moving around everywhere but her home; never being allowed to see her family, to be with the ones she loves. Unable to be raised by and around those who love her the most…At the tender age of ten she was taken away from all of us, all of this, which we took for granted, take for granted, never appreciate; not ever, not at all. She would've given anything to be here, with us, cursed and all. She would even rather be Kyo, the one who has it the worst of the rest of us, rather than be herself, trapped in an eternity of torment, cursed but removed from us all. She can't even see her family, much less be alienated by them. She is free, yet not, because she is still trapped—unable to escape.

Her cage may be large, but it's her home she is kept away from, making her cage—the entire world, the whole world but her own—the worst one of them all.

I lightly touched my pale, smooth, creamy, ivory colored skin—the skin that can never tan, can never burn, no matter how many Californias, Frances and Africas I go to, alienating me even from them, the only "homes" I have ever really been allowed—and sigh a deep, heavy sigh. I don't turn around, but I move my head slightly to one side. Everything is dark behind me, and I can barely make out the edge of a pitch-black figure I have know was there since its arrival. But I don't need to see in order to know.

"It's alright," I whisper, my voice carrying out through the empty, soundless night. "I know you're there."

The figure stood still for several moments before stepping up and slowly making its way towards me, taking slow steps that seemed to take forever. The figure—a man, taller than me by several inches—stopped right beside me, standing not five inches to my side, the sleeve of his gray robe teasing my exposed arm. He wore the same kimono he always wears when he was writing or just hanging around. He never really deviated from it because it was such a comfortable, casual yet proper, garment. He never really saw the need to wear much else—not then and, apparently, not now. A small, humorous smile was upon his lips, and the wisdom and weight of the world was in his intelligent, yet silly, brown eyes. So comforting, so lively, yet…so sad. So very, very sad.

"You always did suck at hiding," I whispered.

He laughed, the voice ringing out through the night air, unsettling the peace and calm, giving me a start. I calmed, and then I smiled. He always had that affect on me. "Yeah, well—it must be my warm and outgoing nature!"

I smiled again, a real smile, showing my teeth, straight, white and flawless…except for my elongated and sharp eyeteeth. My eyes shone with sadness, but—then again—they always do that. "You always were such a dog, Shigure."

He smiled, softer, kinder, more sympathetic this time and put a reassuring hand on my bare shoulder. "And you always did bring it out in me, Mariyako," he said, much softer and kinder—almost fatherly—this time. He was acting like a wise, old grandfather or a detached, caring uncle. I felt tears well up in my eyes and slide down my cheeks, but I did not cry, instead smiling and giving him a big, little sisterly hug. This caught him off guard but he quickly relaxed and hugged me back: my support, my pillar, my Uncle Shiggy.

After a little while I pulled away from him, the few tears that had come up now gone, as if they were never there. I turned back to the mostly-sleeping city before me. "Shigure…" I began, still softly.

He turned to me and cocked his head—so much like a dog that I had to laugh, which made him smile. "Yes?"

I turned back to him, my eyes those of a pleading, begging, worried, anxious child. "Are you…you…Are you gonna…y'know…tell on me?" I asked, my voice hardly more than a whisper, so worried was I about the answer.

He seemed taken back. "Mariyako…you know I would never do that!" he finally managed to exclaim, unable to keep the shock from his voice.

I could hardly keep the shock from my look; nor could I contain the overwhelming sense of bliss and joy I felt spreading through me. "You won't?! Oh, Shigure!" I threw myself into his arms again, nearly knocking us both off the hill, the demeanor of mine that resembles that of a little, emotional girl taking me over yet again.

Shigure smiled, but frowned as he did so. "Why…How…Did you really think that I would ever do such a thing?"

I didn't want to let go of him, so I turned my head and replied, "I just thought that since you are so close to Akito, then you might…y'know…tell him…y'know…'bout me…"

Shigure sighed an unsettling, disturbed, mournful sigh and began to stroke my head like you would a niece—or a pet's—hair—or fur. He played with my thick waves, fiddling, nervous, fidgety, worrying. "That would be a problem, wouldn't it? A good issue to raise, if not a good one to have to deal with. Yes, Akito…He is a bit of a nuisance in this case, is he not? Well, you see, the thing about him is…I don't think you'll be able to avoid him for long. He will find out that you have gone missing before long, and he will begin searching. Where you were last seen and such. Sohma allies all over the world will be alerted. Places you've been and that you've known will be told to look for you. Your main advantage is that he will not think to look here."

"Why not?"

"…This is hard to explain, Mariyako…The simplest answer is because his mind does not work like ours. He does not understand love, attachment—to a place or a person, or even to a thing—he will not be able to identify with you; you, who is his opposite. Eventually, yes, he may figure it out—you won't be able to hide here long, little one."

I sighed. "I know, Shigure, I know. But I'm not here to hide. If my goal was to hide I'd be on the move, as far away from him as possible. I wouldn't be here, so close to him, so close to other Sohmas. The truth is, Shigure, that I am sick of running—I may not have been running by my own choice, but I was still running. I'm sick of that. I want to be free; it won't last long, I know, but nothing ever does, and I know that if I don't do it now, I never will, and I will never be whole. Unless I live what time I can as free as I can, I will never find peace. I will stay here, whether I am wanted or not, until he finds me. It may be tomorrow, it may be next month, but—no matter what—I am going to finally be home."

Shigure smiled. So stubborn—but so wise. So young—but so sad. She doesn't deserve this—none of us do. I do believe that she's a lot smarter than any of us can ever hope to be—even Hatori cannot match her wisdom born of grief, despair and living. It hurts my heart to know that all she wants is some of the life all of us have; the life we scorn and curse and sneer at…How much she resembles a miserable, forlorn little girl whose greatest wish is to have happiness, no matter how brief or fleeting it may—will—prove to be…

"You can identify with me, huh, Shigure—that's how you found me?" I added, not really asking—I already know the answer.

Shigure paid my statement no visible mind—I didn't expect him to, because there was nothing to say about it that can be put into words.

"Well then, I suppose we'll have to find you a place to stay."

I looked up at him, shocked. That had caught me off-guard. My heart seemed to stop.

"You'll…You'll…help…me?"

"I'll do more than that," Shigure promised, leaving me at a cliffhanger of a moment.

The poor thing…As I was walking away she regained her composure and turned back to the city—away from me. Such a beautiful creature, so smart, wise, strong…So desperate for love and care and happiness that she even loves me—the perverted old mutt of a writer. Oh how the mighty have fallen…Mariyako has the mind of an old wise woman; the heart of a lost, abused, lonely child; the body of a young lady; the spirit of a teenager; the soul of a timeless beauty. The life of a great matriarch, all condensed into one teenage girl. She possesses the only shapely, strong body in this world that I do not feel attracted to, for she is practically my child. With me, Hatori and Ayame she is a young girl—we are like her uncles, her only father figures. With the world she is a rebellious teenager: cold, distant, lonely. With the others she is herself…although depending on the person, even that differs. I note how she now is wearing black bellbottom jeans, black steel-toed boots, a sleeveless black shirt…Right now she is the night: dark, cold, warm, dangerous, safe, mysterious, predictable, new, old, knowing, prepared, waiting, anticipant…

Tomorrow she shall be the day, and that is all I know…

This one is a bit short—enjoy it while it lasts (because it won't for much longer…)…

JUST SO YA KNOW: ALL OF THE ZODIAC MEMBERS OF FURUBA:

Rat-Yuki Sohma

Ox-Hatsuharu "Haru" Sohma

Tiger-Kisa Sohma

Rabbit-Momiji Sohma

Dragon-Hatori Sohma

Snake-Ayame "Aaya" Sohma

Horse-Isuzu "Rin" Sohma

Ram-Hiro Sohma

Monkey-Ritsu "Ritchan" Sohma

Rooster-Kureno Sohma

Dog-Shigure Sohma

Boar-Kagura Sohma

Cat-Kyo "Kyon-Kyon" Sohma