CARETAKER KYOUThe first time we see Kyou take care of Tohru is when he falls through the ceiling into her room in order to attack Yuki. He was unaware of Tohru's presence, so it was clear that he didn't mean to ruin the ceiling, but he ended up doing so. Although he didn't want her to know that he was fixing it, she stumbled in the room. She thanked him for fixing it for her. Normally in the story we see Tohru cleaning up after other people's messes. For example, when Kagura destroys the sliding shoji doors (paper doors) in Shigure's house, Tohru is the first one to fix it up. People just assume that Tohru is willing to take care of it, so they leave the mess for her. Although she did offer to be the chef and clean the home, it is kind of rude that Shigure and Yuki actually leave it to her to do, especially when 99.9% of the time she didn't make the mess. I think it is significant to point out that Kyou is willing to fix the ceiling for her without even really knowing her yet.
When Tohru finds out from her grandfather that the renovations on their home is fixed, Tohru leaves unwillingly, but feels like she must because she has already imposed long enough of the Sohma family. However, she doesn't express her feelings to Kyou, Shigure, or Yuki. While she is at her grandfathers, she is made fun of by her uncle and aunt, stating that she was probably up to no good basically in a house filled with all men. Kyou and Yuki come through the door and state that they have come to take Tohru back home with them. Kyou tells Tohru he isn't exactly sure why he came for her, but he states that he is unable to calm down without her there. He also pokes fun at the fact that he willingly came all that way with Yuki for her, which is showing his determination to bring her back to the Shigure's home. Kyou tells her he overheard her speaking about how she never wanted to leave, and Kyou scolds her for not saying anything. He demands that next time she speaks up about what she wants and desires. Tohru blushes and tells Kyou she wants to come back and live with everyone. Kyou grabs her hand and tells her to hurry up back home! This is important because no one really ever asks Tohru what she wants to do. People rely heavily on her to do what they need, but very little do they help her get what she wants. Tohru is timid in the beginning with expressing her feelings, especially because she doesn't want to trouble anyone. Kyou slowly brings her out of her shell and teaches her its okay to speak her mind, at least with him.
Tohru tends to space out a lot, especially when she has a lot on her mind. This left her open to creepy guys at her school who were about to approach her. Kyou over heard the guys talking about Tohru, and quickly steps up beside her and puts his arm against the wall, making it look like they were together. This scares the two upperclassmen, and they quickly walk away. He scolds Tohru for spacing out so much, telling her to become more aware and alert when she is out and about. Tohru stiffens up and looks around, acting alert. Kyou gets embarrassed and tells her that she can relax when she is with him, and is free to daydream as much as she wants. Kyou basically is telling Tohru that when she is by his side, she can be carefree because he will be there to protect her. However, if he is not there, she needs to keep her guard up because he can't protect her in those situations. I think this is significant because after Kyoko dies, Tohru is all alone. She no longer had anyone to stay by her side and protect her. Kyou is letting her know that when she is with him, he will protect her from the world. This is showing how much he cares for her, and is willing to go out of his way to make sure she is safe and happy, just like her mother once did.
Tohru ends up failing one of her exams, and it bothers her so much because she let Yuki and her mother down. Kyou is about to tell her to lighten up, when she collapses against his back. He tells her to not be so sad about it, otherwise she might catch a cold. She ends up falling to the ground, and Kyou panics because she actually has a fever. Kyou sends Tohru to a hot bath and to her room, and refuses to let her do any cooking or cleaning that day. He ends up making her leek soup, which he hates leeks, because he knows the medicinal purposes behind them. He brings them up to her in bed, and she smiles big and tells him she is so happy that he made her food all by himself. He tells her to leave the dishes when she is done because he is going to clean up. She apologizes for always causing trouble for him, and he states "If you really feel that way, don't get sick!" Tohru, who clearly feels comfortable around Kyou at this point, starts to cry. She tells him about how she let her mother down by failing the test because she promised to pass high school. Kyou tells her that she doesn't need to worry so much, at least not by herself. He tells her to get better, at least enough that she can walk around the house, smile, and laugh, otherwise it will be weird. This is the first time we see anyone cook for, and take care of, Tohru. He also explains to her that worrying alone is pointless, and next time she should talk to him about whatever is bothering her. Although he is a bit rough, he promises to comfort her and take on some of the burden as well.
Tohru begins to feel selfish for always talking about her mom, Kyoko, especially when many of the Sohma's don't have good relationships with their parents, and she realizes she doesn't ask them much about them. This is hard for her to do, especially because her mother means the world to her. When Kyou begins to notice, he tells her that the "watermelon story" happened with her mother, and he didn't know why she didn't just say that. He tells her it "pisses him off" that she is mindful of things that don't matter, because the Sohma family and her mother are two different issues. He tells her to always talk about her mother with him, especially because he knows how important Kyoko is to Tohru. He reminds her that Tohru has free range to talk about anything she wants with him, and he is always there to listen to her stories. This reassures Tohru that she does have freedom of speech with Kyou. She is reminded that she doesn't need to feel guilty talking about things she is passionate about with him, because he is interested in whatever she has to say. Most of the Sohma's use Tohru as a therapist; they tell Tohru what is wrong and she tries to help them, or cries for them. Kyou is giving her the same back, allowing her to vent, get excited, and talk about whatever she wants to talk about in the moment. This shows that Kyou is excited to just be with Tohru, and he wants her to feel comfortable with him.
Tohru is really sensitive to Kyou's mood-changes, therefore she tends to worry when he acts different. Kyou promised her in the past that he would make a conscious effort to not let her worry about him, especially when its usually just him deep in thought, and nothing to do with her. Tohru notices him acting strange again, and as Kyou begins to walk away from the classroom, she runs behind him, reaching out for him. Kyou turns around suddenly and grabs onto her hand tightly, asking whats wrong? She just states she was worried when he started leaving, so she wanted to follow him. He tells her that she doesn't need to worry, and asks her if she wants to kill time together for the rest of the day. She smiles big and accepts the invitation. Kyou begins to make sure Tohru constantly feels comfortable with him, and doesn't want her to worry over little things. By grabbing onto her hand, he comforts her anxious thoughts, and also physically shows the school that she is kind of "his," marking their relationship progression. It is common for girls in anime series to get excited and happy over the boy they like being protective and touchy with them, and I think this is also true for Tohru. The reassurance of his feelings for her makes her excited as well. Kyou is clearly going out of his way to make sure Tohru doesn't have to second guess how he feels, although his emotions have not yet been fully stated.
Kyou finally realizes that he can't hide or pretend that his love for Tohru isn't real. She gets nervous because of his previous rejection of her, and she asks him if they can really be together from that point on. He smiles at her and says, "We're already holding hands!" Tohru runs at him and hugs him tightly, thinking that he will turn into a cat, but is willing to do so because she loves him so much. They both cry together, and express their love for one another. This is when Kyou officially takes on the responsibility of taking care, and loving, Tohru for the rest of his life. Tohru is finally humanized by someone other than her mother in the story. Tohru is used to being the person who is always there for others, and gets little in return. However, Tohru is too selfless to ask for help, or someone to listen to her, or wipe away her tears. Kyou, who is often hot-headed when Tohru doesn't open up to him, is the main reason she finally did open up. She was able to trust him and know that he was genuinely interested in what she had to say. She had a shoulder to lean on, and in the end, someone to love her unconditionally, the same way she loved him. I added this page because during my first few read throughs, I was kind of blinded by all of the benefit that Kyou got from Tohru that I kind of looked past the benefits that Kyou brought for her. He gave her a voice, a purpose, and someone to look forward to seeing every day. To find out more specifics on what Tohru did to help Kyou, feel free to check out the timeline of self-love, which will have some examples!