Did I hate him, then? Indeed, I believe so. A love like that can grow to be nine-tenths hatred and still call itself love.

C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

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Something cried out from the depths of my heart. I wanted to meet him. I didn’t want to meet him. I want to embrace him. I want to run away. I love him. I hate him.

It took a long time for me to be able to wrap my head around this concept that love and hatred can be so deeply entwined.  It’s not healthy, but it’s certainly possible, especially in cases of abuse.  Deep feelings can be channeled in many directions, and depth of feeling is one thing the Members of the Zodiac never lack.

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When I was very young, my world consisted only of Akito, my mother, and whatever I could glimpse through the sliding paper door. […] My earliest memories all involve Akito.

Yuki was Akito’s designated “playmate”, so he spent all his time with him.  He did have some memories of Akito being legitimately nice as a little kid (like actually complimenting Yuki), even if he was never the pleasantest person to be around.

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I was still very young then. I tended to accept things as they were without questioning them. Akito would have temper tantrums back then, but he was nothing like he is now. Come to think of it, I think he even cried back then. I often witnessed Shigure comforting him. What was he sad about? Why was he frustrated?

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And then, it just happened without warning. One day, Akito lost his mind.

He started painting his room black, and all of a sudden he’s much more keen to instill a sense of inferiority in Yuki when once he had been happy to treat him as an equal.

Akito: This world…my world…is pitch-black. So I have to make this room pitch-black to match! You too, Yuki. You’re pitch-black too. You and I are always together, so you have to be pitch-black as well. It’s not fair otherwise, right? No, that’s not right. No. We can’t be the same…there’s no way I’m useless…I’m the chosen one! Everyone needs me! I exist because you need me! So you and I aren’t the same at all! You’re just my toy! Your mother gave you to me! You know she basically threw you away! It’s high time you realized, idiot! Everyone hates the Rat! Nobody gives a damn about you! If you didn’t have me, if I didn’t look after you, your life would be worthless!

Yuki’s so young, and Akito’s such a huge presence in his little world, that it’s all too easy for him to believe these things.

It finally hit me that I’d never spoken to the other Members of the Zodiac. I was always with Akito. I had never even talked to the person I’d been told was my older brother.

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Perhaps Akito had ordered them not to speak to Yuki, or maybe it was just because he was never really allowed to do anything without Akito (and he would’ve been offended if someone addressed his “toy” instead of himself).  Either way, the first one he actually gets to speak with is Kyo…a Kyo who had evidently already lost his mother.

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Kyo: You’re the Rat, aren’t you?

Yuki: Yeah.

Kyo: You…I’ll never forgive you. You hear me!? I’ll never, ever forgive you. It’s all the Rat’s fault! It’s all your fault! It’s all because of you. Someone like you…I wish you’d drop off the face of the earth!

After that frankly traumatizing experience, he naturally runs to his mother for comfort and reassurance.

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Mother: Where on Earth have you been!? Get back to the Head of the Family this instant! I won’t stand for you embarrassing me!

He has literally no one to turn to, nobody to counteract the poison Akito feeds him.

Akito: […] Don’t get the wrong idea…don’t think “I’ll be saved someday.”

Day after day, Akito would etch those negative words into my heart. Those pitch-black words…at some point, those words became my truth. Of course they did. ”Nobody gives a damn about me. Nobody needs me. I’m worthless.” How could they not? After all, when I’d try to reach out for help – I was afraid.

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I was afraid of being stared down by eyes filled with apathy or hatred.

For Yuki, apathy was just as bad as flat-out hatred.  It still left him isolated and at the mercy of his abusers.

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Elementary school was very difficult for me. I did everything I could to avoid other people. After all, I had no idea how to interact with my peers. I didn’t want to be hated by even more people.

Then some classmates actually reached out to him and befriend him…which leads him to the whole ordeal with his friends’ memories being erased.

Akito: Of course it’s strange that a little boy can transform into a rat. Any normal person would be repulsed if they knew. They’d run away from you. This is why I told you not to get the wrong idea.

Akito’s now successfully cut Yuki off from the Outside world, on top of being cut off from the rest of the Zodiac and his own family (not that Akito had much to do with the family issue).  Yuki thinks himself worthless, with no possibility of hope.  He couldn’t possibly sink much deeper.

Then a baseball cap blows into his path…

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It belongs to Kyo, but he refuses to take it back from Yuki.  And that’s the final straw, the last ounce of rejection.

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There was something I wanted. A parent who would hold me close, a home I wanted to return to, a place where I could laugh with everyone…a Yuki Sohma that no one would run away from. That’s what I wanted. That’s all I wanted.

This part of the story hits real close to home for me.  As I’ve mentioned before, I dealt with a lot of similar feelings to Yuki (even if they arose from very different situations), namely the isolation and self-hatred.  And much like Yuki, I didn’t even realize what was wrong until many years later.  But Yuki will have to square with his feelings in some fashion very soon just to survive his childhood.

Next time: A turning point…

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