together, not alone

Kyoko and Katsuya married — without wedding ceremony due to Kyoko’s protests, and without anyone’s blessing as both their families objected to their relationship. The exception to that was Katsuya’s father; his relationship with his son had greatly improved (in contrast to their early years before Katsuya met Kyoko), and he was supportive of the two. They moved close to the sea, spending their days peacefully without requiring much but each other’s presence to be happy.

When Kyoko became pregnant, she went to see the doctor on her own, keeping it from Katsuya at first. When he confronted her, she broke down crying.

I can’t do it. I don’t trust myself to do it! It makes me happy to carry your child, but a child is a human being. Am… Am I even fit to give birth to a human? Whatever you say, my life can’t be described as something positive! How can I give birth to a child? How can I raise a child? Am I even capable of raising a child? What would I do if it becomes unhappy because of me? What if it is bullied because of me, or if it gets hurt, or cries, what would I do then? What if it wishes it had never been born? Kyoko

If you asked me about my favourite Kyoko scene, I think this might be it (though the adolescence chapter as a whole is my favourite). It’s not just a matter of being able to relate on a personal level, and the fear of giving birth to something that won’t be human due to how messed up you think you were. It’s because Fruits Basket is full of bad parents (which you may have noticed while reading this shrine, even without knowing the series itself), especially parents who do not treat their children as human beings, much less as their own person. Kyoko, however, worried precisely about that before the child was even born, which is something a parent ought to do. And it mattered to her so much, especially due to how she had been treated by her own parents, that it led to a breakdown.

At the same time, this is when Kyoko realized just how horrible her own words towards her mother had been, back when she said she had never asked to be born during an argument. That realization shook her deeply. “If my child said that to me, I’d want to die. I said something horrible. Something that would have hurt me tremendously. And it rolled off my tongue so easily.”

It’s… remarkable that Kyoko managed to feel for her mother in this moment, and felt so horrible about something she herself had said in the past. If you recall something Tohru said to Ayame in volume 4, the adult Kyoko told her daughter that it wasn’t until she became a parent herself that she understood what a parent felt like. I think that the narrative is somewhat too forgiving towards Kyoko’s parents in that scene and in this one, but it’s important to grasp that that might be an unintentional side effect — the side effect of Kyoko having grown so much that she no longer reproached anyone, and the narrative focusing entirely on her own growth.

And again, Katsuya came through for her:

You have understood that the child you’ll give birth to is its own person. Don’t be afraid. Your child will be a human being just like us. Just remember the things that made you happy and the things that made you sad so that you’ll be there for your child. We’ll often hold it in our arms, touch it, and listen to it. And when it does something wrong, we’ll make sure to teach it why those things are bad. And if, and only if, we happen to lose control of ourselves and wrong that child, we’ll apologize, and hold it in our arms again. The two of us, together. Not alone. We’ll raise it together. Katsuya

What followed after Tohru’s birth was a peaceful time full of bliss. As promised, they raised her together. When visiting Katsuya’s father with the child, he told Kyoko about what a suffocating father he had been to Katsuya, and how grateful he was to her for making the formerly aloof Katsuya happy. “Humans are wonderful beings. When two people meet, all sorts of possibilities are born, good ones and bad ones.”

Kyoko was a very protective and cautious mother, fainting when she’d accidentally hurt Tohru. They did a lot of things together as a family, and the affection she felt at Katsuya’s gentle smile whenever he held Tohru would move Kyoko to tears.

One day, when Tohru was three years old, Katsuya caught a cold on his business trip. The day after his last phone call to Kyoko, he passed away without any chance of saying goodbye. At his funeral, their relatives who had been against the marriage gossiped viciously about Kyoko in front of her and her daughter, accusing her of having neglected her husband when he was sick, amusing herself elsewhere or even cheating on him, and saying that they should have never married in the first place.

As in Kyoko’s late adolescence, Kyoko accepted all of the blame, wanting to take all the punishment and for it to bury her. But there was neither rage to act as her shield, nor Katsuya to defend her from the viciousness, and a helpless Tohru stood by and watched her mother crumble.

After the cremation of Katsuya’s body, Kyoko went to retrieve his belongings from the office. Things had gone far too quickly up to that point, and it was only in that moment of quiet that she finally and truly understood that Katsuya wasn’t there anymore. That she’d never see him again.

Whenever I’d read Kyoko’s story and reach this point where she breaks down crying and begs for him not to leave her behind, I’d be overcome with feelings. It’s not “just” a fictional character’s death, or about how likeable Katsuya was — it’s knowing Kyoko’s entire story up to this point and understanding just how much Katsuya meant to her, just how much it means for anyone to find the one person who accepts them for who they are when nobody else would, and losing that person so soon. Katsuya was the only person to acknowledge Kyoko as a person, Katsuya was the only one who listened to her, the one who opened her eyes and convinced her to breathe, to live again, and Katsuya promised to be there for her.

No matter how much Kyoko had grown, there was still residue of the damage others had done to her, and all that self-loathing would resurface under pressure. Katsuya was Kyoko’s pillar of support, so when he left, Kyoko had nothing to hold on to anymore.