Fruits Basket, Shigure/Akito, 863 words.
Rating: R for profanity and thematic elements
Summary: Shigure loves Akito. Akito loves Shigure. But nobody's expecting a happily ever after here.
Notes: A challenge for 20_fruits. Spoilers through manga chapter 101, and I should probably note that I haven't read more than a chapter beyond there myself, so if there's anything here that gets wildly contradicted further in, just smile, nod, and slap me with an AU sticker. This is my first Furuba fic, so here's hoping it doesn't suck.
1. One day when Akito is seven and Shigure is fourteen, she asks him if he loves him and he tells her that he does, and somewhere between the words on his lips and his lips on her cheek, he realizes that it's the first time he's ever used that word to describe it, even to himself.
2. Over a decade later, he still doesn't use that word to describe it very often, even to himself. To do so strikes him as lacking in confidence. He does not need to justify it, rationalize it, define it in words. The feeling exists, and for him, that is enough. (Shigure has never been lacking in confidence.)
3. Sometimes he realizes there's a certain degree of irony there, that he should make his living writing smutty romances with perfect fairytale endings (his more serious literary efforts might earn more prestige, but they never sell as well). He knows that the ending of his own romance will in all likelihood be anything but perfect, that it will certainly not be a picturesque tale of pure love conquering over all.
He doesn't really care.
4. Shigure thinks Akito is more beautiful when she's angry, that somehow her looks are only enhanced when rage darkens her features and her words are full of venom.
5. He thinks she is most beautiful, however, when she cries, and perhaps that makes it a bit easier for him to be cruel.
6. He also thinks she is a much better fuck than her mother; Ren is far from tame in bed, but Akito has an angry, desperate passion that Shigure has never seen any other woman come close to matching.
7. Sometimes, he wonders if she shows that same passion when she's fucking Kureno, and he can't help but feel jealous.
8. He used to wonder if his feelings would change, were he not the dog, paragon of loyalty and faithfulness. He used to wonder how much of that devotion is genuinely from his own heart, and how much of it would never have developed were he the dragon, the snake, the tiger - anything but the dog.
He doesn't think about it anymore, not since he decided that entertaining such thoughts did nothing to further his goals.
9. Instead, he has simply acknowledged that perhaps he is the most cursed of them all, and he is fine with that.
10. Maybe someday he will apologize to her for all the times he has been cruel to her...but then again, quite likely he will not. He's doing it all because he loves her, after all.
11. Akito has never forgotten what Shigure said to her that day when she asked him if he loved her, and she knows she never will. Some part of her, however, wishes she could.
12. Some part of her also wants to hate Shigure, hate him for affecting her so much. And perhaps some part of her really does hate him, but that part cannot silence the part of her that loves him more than anyone else.
13. She does not care much for flowers, but since that day, she does have a soft spot for camellias.
14. It still makes her angry that he didn't protest when she told him to leave the main house. Akito expects obedience from her juunishi, but she also expects them to do what she wants, even when she doesn't come right out and say it. And what she wanted was for him to beg forgiveness.
15. She wants him to beg, period. But Shigure has that annoying way of masking obvious defiance under a surface of deference, and for all her efforts to train him out of it, he still does not quite seem to recognize who is the master and who is the servant.
16. Sometimes when she sleeps with Kureno, she takes great pleasure in keeping her eyes open and focusing on his face, as though to remind herself just how little Shigure is to her. But far more often, she closes her eyes and tries to believe that it's not really Kureno she's fucking at all.
17. At those times, she realizes that perhaps Shigure recognizes who is the master all too well. She finds it easier to hate him then.
18. Akito is not happy and has perhaps never been truly happy, but she takes comfort in knowing that she can make her juunishi share in her unhappiness. But Shigure always seems happy, and seeing him so whenever he visits frustrates her terribly. He is not supposed to be happy, not unless she is happy as well.
19. Sometimes, in those moments, she turns to sex as a distraction. She never exerts herself with Kureno the way she does with Shigure.
She has nothing to prove to Kureno.
20. Though her feelings for Shigure are complicated and confusing and a continual source of frustration, they are a constant in Akito's life, and no matter how much she does not want to admit it to herself, she is quite sure they will never fade. She thinks of him more than anyone, and that is a definite truth.