Yuki confronts one of his greatest antagonists: His mother.
My mother’s voice over the phone was as cold as ever. It made the feelings from that time well up in my throat. The feeling of sinking, of falling, of the colors being leeched out of my world…
(remembering) Yuki: Mom. I wanna go home too! I hate that room! Akito says scary things to me! I hate it! I wanna go home! Take me too! Mom! Mom, please! Help me!
Mother: Isn’t it great, Yuki? The head of the family doesn’t take a liking to everyone. Be sure to stay on his good side. Have fun.
Yep. This is gonna hurt.
Mother: Well, shall we get down to business? There’s no sense in wasting time with small talk. Although, to be honest, there’s really nothing to talk about. […] He’s going on to college. A decent university, of course. I have it all arranged. There are many people in the Sohma family, but Yuki is one who will be a leader in the future. It would be undignified if he didn’t have the academic background to measure up to such a position.
Yuki: Wait, wait! What…? How could you just…? Mother. Don’t decide my future without asking me…!
Mother: It’s for your own good. […] After all, isn’t that right? You wouldn’t be able to decide anything on your own. When you had the chance, you chose this obscure school. Be honest, Yuki. Even when you were little, you never could think for yourself. If you’re only looking to rebel, then keep your mouth shut. It’s time to get with the program. You’re on the verge of causing me problems as well.
I have to say something. I have to put what I feel into words. Put it in words, hurry.
Then his mother claims he “pouted” and wouldn’t speak to her when they were arguing about high school…but that was clearly the time he stopped talking altogether.
(remembering) Yuki: That’s not it. All I’m saying is, I want to go to school on the “Outside”. That’s what I want. No one put me up to it.
Mother: What do you expect me to think? You bring this up out of the blue.
Yuki: It’s not out of the blue. I hate it here at the compound. I’ve always, always…and even now I hate it…
Mother: Ever since you were a child, you’ve never said you “hated” it here.
Yuki: …Am I just a tool to you?
Mother: So what if you are?
When I talk to her, words have no meaning. They’re powerless. Before they even reach her, they die. If it’s always going to be like that, I’ll never even try to talk again, is what I thought.
This is something of an inversion of Kisa’s situation – there were clearly plenty of other people in Yuki’s life at that point (including Haru), but because one person who really mattered to him refused to listen to him, he gave up trying to communicate with anyone. I’ve never had it nearly as bad as Yuki, but I know what it’s like when people would discount my views when they contradicted their own, saying that they couldn’t really be what I thought (happily that was a very brief part of my life). Still, these feelings of helplessness are achingly familiar to me.
I’ve never been more happy to see Ayame in my life.
Seriously, this was the point when I first read the manga where I finally realized that there’s more to Ayame than meets the eye. It’s so cathartic seeing their mom in the same kind of frenzy that Yuki was driven to when Aaya first showed up.
Mother: As far as Yuki is concerned, you have no business butting in! You suddenly care, after all this time!? You never paid him any attention before! If I let you hang around him, Yuki is sure to become another good-for-nothing!
Yuki: Nii-san is someone I can rely on. Sometimes that means I can rely on him to wreak havoc in any given situation, but he’s definitely not a good-for-nothing.
Ayame: […] Haven’t you realized? Yuki gave me a chance to do things over. And for you too, something that didn’t exist before is starting to take shape. Still don’t get it? You’re like I was back then. Not realizing what a precious thing you’ve been trampling on all these years.
Mother: Wha…!? How do you talk to your own mother like that!? I have never been so insulted in my life! You don’t know what I’ve been through! If I’d known you two would turn out this way, I never would’ve had you!
Aaya makes so much more sense now. He just took his mother’s tendency to ignore anything she didn’t want to hear up to eleven (and naturally that irritates her to no end).
Ayame: I congratulate you on surviving the experience. Our mother is quite a curious person, isn’t she? She possesses an unholy affinity for money and social status. It’s unfortunate that she never learned how to deal with my innate royal temperament. That’s why she’s poured all her hopes into Yuki. Ah, well…no use crying over spilled milk.
Mayu: Still, he did say he can rely on you.
Yuki: I should tell you – at this rate, you’re going to throw your life away. (internally) Has she always been this small? Her shoulder is so thin. She seemed larger than life when I was a child. […] (aloud) I’m living…I’m living in this world. I want to be a part of it. And to do that, I need to make an effort. I want to make that effort. The result may be something you don’t agree with, but it will be something I can be proud of. So I don’t want you deciding things for me without asking. I don’t want you to control my life. I will go on to college. But as for where I’ll apply, I’ll find the one that’s right for me on my own.
With his big brother around to back him up (and Tohru rooting for him in the background), he finally manages to speak his mind to his mother. He’s still growing up, step by step. And as he’s dragged off for more Student Council shenanigans, it’s nice to remember that he’s managed to find a place for himself in the Outside world.
Even after it stops raining, the wind still has a little autumn chill. It lets us know that winter is on its way. But the warmth in our hearts is proof that there is light. It’s so small that it seems like even a tiny wind might blow it out, but the light is definitely there.
Ever the reliable brother, Aaya.
Until next time…