"It has cleared up completely! Okay then, Mother, please watch over things today, too. I'm off!" Kurisuta Hikawa headed away from her tent.

Kuri had long straight hair with bits of hair framed inward towards her face. There was a split in the middle of her widow's peak and she let a streak of hair on both sides frame her face in front of her shoulders. Her eyes were blue and her skin was pale. Kuri wore the school uniform, a red medium dress, black stockings and brown boots. She wore a gold pentacle around her neck.

"Pleased to meet you. I'm Hikawa Kuri. I'm a miko. In May of this year, my mother, who had been raising me all alone, was killed by a demon. As a result, I am now secretly living in a tent. I can't say that it's an easy life, but that's okay. One of my virtues is that no matter the times, I will not be discouraged."

Kuri stopped at the Sohma house. "Huh? Mother, I've discovered something! There is a house standing here. It's has such a relaxed feel to it. How cute! Twelve ornaments, from the zodiac."

"Huh? How can it be that there is a girl here?" Shigure said.

"P- pardon me! I looked without asking first!" Kuri said.

"Go ahead, go ahead. I'm just drying them in the sun, after all. However, they couldn't

be that interesting for such a young person to look at." Shigure said.

"Not at all. They are very cute." Kuri said.

"Really? In that case, I'm happy. I like them too." Shigure said.

"Still, just as I thought, there is no cat, huh?" Kuri said.

"Cat? Ah..." Shigure said. "Could it be you're referring to the cat that appears in the tales of the zodiac?"

"Yes. My mother told them to me quite often." Kuri said.

Xxx

"A long time ago, God told the animals, "I invite you to come to the banquet that I shall hold tomorrow. Make sure not to be late." When he heard that, the rat, who liked to play pranks, lied to the cat who lived near him, saying that the banquet was the day after next. The next day, the rat rode upon the ox's back before the banquet hall, where he lightly jumped down. After him came the ox, the tiger, and so on. The banquet was delightful, and went on until morning. Only the cat, who had been tricked, was left out." Atsuko said to the child Kuri. "What are you crying about, Kuri?"

"I feel so sorry for him! I feel so sorry for cat-san! I've made up my mind! I'm giving up Dog-san, and I will become Cat-san!" Kuri said.

Xxx

"Oh, yeah? I wonder what kind of face he'll make when he hears that." Shigure said.

"He?" Kuri said.

"So, you're the year of the Dog, then? I'm feeling a sense of affinity. You see, I, too am a Dog-"

Yuki hit him on the head with a bag. "What are you flirting around here for? Are you okay, Hikawa-san? My cousin didn't do anything impolite, did he?"

"S- Sohma-kun!" Kuri said.

"Mother, it doesn't seem real! It's Sohma-kun! The prince of my school, Sohma Yuki, is standing before my eyes!" Kuri thought.

"-That's quite a heavy bag you've got." Shigure said.

"-Then this is Sohma Yuki-kun's house." Kuri thought.

"You have a dictionary or something in there?" Shigure said.

"Yeah, two of them." Yuki said.

"Oh? So you're Yuki-kun's classmate, then?" Shigure said. Then, from the top- I am Sohma

Shigure, Yuki-kuns cousin."

"Hikawa Kurisuta." Kuri said.

"Hikawa-san, what brings you to this area?" Yuki said.

"My house is, um, near." Kuri said.

"Near? To here?" Yuki said.

"Y- yes..." Kuri said. "W- well, with that, I should be-"

"Ah, Hikawa-san..." Yuki said.

"Yes?" Kuri said.

"Since you're already here, shall we go together?" Yuki said.

Kaibara High

"L - O - V- E, Lovely Yuki!" Yuki Fan Club said.

"Hikawa-san!" One said.

"What on earth was that about!?" Two said.

"Would you like to explain to us clearly how you came to school together with Sohma-kun?" Three said.

"I- It was an accident." Kuri said.

"If you could get away with accidents, we wouldn't need the police!" One said. "When it comes to Sohma-kun, of 1st Year, Section D, at Kaibara High School, there isn't a girl student around who doesn't know how he is so attractive-"

"-and clearheaded-" Two said.

"-both scholarly and athletic!" Three said.

"And yet he will not deign to let us, the "Prince Yuki" fan club, come near him!" One said.

"-Hey!" Reiko said.

"-What!?" One said.

"Kuri said it was by accident, didn't she? Don't go attaching any idiotic pretexts to it, you hear?" Rei said.

Rei had red hair, green eyes, and tanned skin. She wore her hair in a high ponytail with a big bow.

"Why, you! You Yankees think that if you threaten enough, you can get away with anything!" One said.

"I will make you - with harmful vibes." Kumiko said.

Kumiko was often described as a very beautiful woman. She had flawless alabaster-white skin and long, rich black hair that fell past her slim waist, which was often tied into a loose ponytail with a ribbon and had big, brown eyes.

"Rei-chan, Kumi-chan, you saved me!" Kuri said.

"That was a disaster, huh Kuri? There, there...Kumiko, don't seriously send out any vibes." Rei said.

Cooking Room

"Sohma-kun is overly attractive, and just looking at him standing next to me made me nervous. I couldn't make any conversation with him worth calling conversation, either." Kuri said.

"I sense an unusual vibe from him..." Kumi said.

"Here it comes- Kumiko's Vibe Report." Rei said.

"Unusual, you say?" Kuri said.

"I'm not quite sure about it." Kumi said. "Well, there certainly is an unusual feeling about him."

"I hear he doesn't talk much about himself. Earlier, there was this 2nd-year girl...who after declaring herself, tried to embrace him. He thrust her away as hard as he could, and looked terrified himself. Odd for a student to do these days." Rei said.

"Tohru, do you have work today?" Kumi said.

"Yes, I do." Kuri said.

"That's rough. You're still staying with your grandma on your mom's side, right?" Rei said.

"Y- yes..." Kuri said.

"You promised you'd pay your own tuition, didn't you?" Rei said.

"Y- yes." Kuri said.

"Still, since this is a prefecture-run school, I wouldn't think you would have to work so much just to cover tuition." Kumi said.

"W- well, it's..." Kuri said.

"You're getting him to feed you decent, right?" Kumi said.

"You're not getting swindled out of everything from your paycheck, right?" Rei said.

"R- right..." Kuri said.

"Really? Fine, then. If anything like that happens, tell me right away." Rei said. "I'll see that they don't get away with it."

"O- okay." Kuri said.

"I couldn't tell them. I couldn't tell Rei-chan and Kumi-chan that I was living in a tent."

Xxx

"Kuri, Mama sure would like some Sukiyaki today." Atsuko said to young Kuri.

"My mother, who worked and worked after my father left us in order to support us..." Kuri thought.

"-Hooray! Meat, meat!" Atsuko said.

"-My mother, who was always so powerful and cheerful..." Kuri said. "I never would have thought she would be killed by a demon. There was some amount of squabbling over who would take care of me...But in the end, it was decided I would go to the house of my grandmother, on my father''s side. I promised to pay my own tuition, so as not to be a burden to my grandmother who was wealthy, but estranged. That was in May. However, Grandmother came to live together with her son and his new wife, and as it happened, their house needed remodeling. I was asked if I could stay with one of my friends or something during that time. Rei-chan lives in a one-room apartment, and there are five people in Kumi-chan's family. I couldn't very well make trouble for them. However...I've got it! I was going to live by

myself at some point I was going to live by myself at some point. This will be a good chance!"

Xxx

"Sohma-kun, about this morning, I beg your pardon." Kuri said.

"The same goes even more for me. Shigure must have given you trouble." Yuki said.

"No, he is a very fine person. He let me see his ornaments of the zodiac." Kuri said.

"You said something about being of the year of the Cat, didn't you?" Yuki said.

"I was a bit off-kilter as a child." Kuri said.

"Cats are fools. They have a bad nature. Hikawa-san, did you know...that the zodiac is really part of a timekeeping system of tens and twelves?" Yuki said.

"N- no..." Kuri said.

"Originally, they were used as numerals, or as timepieces. Afterward, they got adopted into

Yin-yang cosmology and divination, and they were used in fortune-telling." Yuki said.

"Did the animals have anything to do with it?" Kuri said.

"Mm-mm. Apparently, it's not clearly known at what time animals were adapted in, or what source they were established from, but since the beginning, there was never a time when the

Cat was a member of the zodiac. Still, since it has come to be associated with the zodiac, whatever they say goes. Cats really are fools, you know." Yuki said.

"So, in short, Sohma-kun, do you hate cats?" Kuri sad.

"I was thinking this morning, as well, that your color doesn't look too good." Yuki said. "You should take better care of yourself. Well, see you tomorrow."

"He really is mysterious. Even so, Sohma-kun, I'll pretend I didn't hear that. I'm sure Mother had it much, much harder!" Kuri thought.

Xxx

"Ladies, hurry and take care of this garbage here!" Boss said.

"Okay!" Kuri said.

"I can't get discouraged!"Never give up!" Kuri thought.

Xxx

"I'm getting tired of eating out every day like this." Shigure said.

"Well, Shigure, cook something." Yuki said.

"When I cook, you complain, don't you?" Shigure said.

"If there are pickled radishes in my curry, you bet I want to complain a little." Yuki said.

"Yuki-kun, you're a smart one, but you're completely hopeless when it comes to housework in general. Say, how about we hire a housekeeper?" Shigure said.

"A woman would be trouble." Yuki said.

"Huh?" They stopped at her tent.

"Hikawa-san..." Yuki said.

"I'm home, mother. I'm sleepy, but I still have to do these printouts today. I'll go wash my face in the water of the stream." Kuri said.

Shigure started to laugh.

"Shigure, you're laughing too much." Yuki said.

Xxx

"I see. So that's why you're living in a tent." Yuki said.

"Yes..." Kuri said.

"Since when?" Yuki said.

"Since one week ago." Kuri said.

"I thought it was strange. This whole area is Sohma land, and none of it has been leased or sold." Shigure said.

"Um, if you would, please let me borrow that spot temporarily. Once the remodeling is complete, I will leave immediately. I don't have much money, but I will pay you. Please." Kuri said.

"It's dangerous over there. The dirt in those cliffs is loose, and every once in a while,

molesters may come around. And it's unreasonable to have a girl spend so many months living in a tent in the first place, isn't it?" Shigure said.

"Are you finished laughing?" Yuki said.

"Mm-hm." Shigure said.

"It's all right! I've gotten used to the slugs, and I have plenty of stamina and drive..." Kuri passed out.

"Hikawa-san!" Yuki said. "She has a fever."

"Let's see... Ice, ice! I- it's the Sea of Corruption..." Shigure said.

"That's a good analogy!" Kuri said.

"There. Just now, it appears there was a landslide somewhere." Shigure said.

"U- um, how can you tell?" Kuri said.

"Something of an intuition of the wild, I suppose!" Shigure said.

"Is it nearby?" Kuri said.

"Close to the tent... or maybe not!" Shigure said.

"This is terrible! Mother was...There was a picture of Mother inside the tent!" Kuri said.

Xxx

Kuri started to dig in the landslide.

"Mother!" Kuri said.

"Hikawa-san, calm down. You have a fever." Yuki said.

"But, Mother is...What should I do? If I don't get her out of there quickly, Mother will suffer..." Kuri said.

"Once it gets brighter, we'll come here again." Yuki said.

Xxx

"If a second calamity was to occur and you got hurt, it would hurt your mother even more. Okay? Yuki-kun is looking for some ice now. " Shigure said.

"You'll have to excuse me." Yuki said.

"It's probably exhaustion. The strain on you could be piling up." Shigure said.

"I've lost my home again..." Kuri said.

"Is that hard on you?" Shigure said.

"No...I know something that's even harder..." Kuri said.

"What's that?" Shigure said.

"I didn't say... "Come back soon." The morning of the day Mother died in the accident. I had a short test... so I studied into the morning... and then couldn't get up. It was only that morning that I didn't say it... even though I always said it... It was only that morning... I... didn't want to go to high school... I thought instead I would work... However, Mother said...'I only graduated from middle school myself. But I still would have liked to see what being a high school girl is like, you know? That's why you're going to enjoy the high school life in my place.' I understood... that all that time, she was working for me... And yet, I couldn't say

"Come back soon" to Mother. I wasn't even able to see her back as she left to work. And so, I want to at least... I want to safely graduate from high school, which Mother wanted me to attend. That is my... goal... This is... no time...to be outdone by... a fever..." Kuri passed out.

"Terrific, huh? At school, she always seems so cheerful. It seemed like she had never known

hardship or anything of the sort. I had planned on running away from the House of Sohma... but in the end, here I am, still among the Sohma... If I really didn't like it, I could have done like Honda-san, and carried away a tent, and gone off to either somewhere unexplored, or to the back country, or someplace. I've had it easy, huh?" Yuki said.

"It would be rude to Kuri-san to call it terrific." Shigure said.

"You're right." Yuki said. "Can I leave her up to you? I'm going to go out."

"Where to? Don't tell me you're going to go dig that stuff out. Should I go with you? It'll be tough all alone, right?" Shigure said.

"Alone? Who do you think you're talking to?" Yuki said.

"Come back soon." Shigure said.

Xxx

"Kuri! Kuri? You've gotten a fever again. There's no need for you to overdo it helping with the housework. Kuri, you can just be yourself, and take things slowly. You'll overtake them sometime." Atsuko said.

"But..." Kuri said.

"Kuri, be yourself..." Atsuko said.

Xxx

"Mother...How come..." Kuri said.

"Morning! How are you feeling? I think I was able to dig out all of your belongings. Could you check them?" Yuki said.

"Sohma-kun, did you go through all that dirt by yourself?" Kuri said.

"Don't be silly!" Yuki said.

"Then, how did you...?" Kuri said.

"It's a secret." Yuki sadl

"It's a dirty house, and all...and there are only guys here, but right there on the second floor, there is one room available. Until the remodeling is finished, you can stay in this house." Shigure said.

"T- that won't do! I must object to that!" Kuri said.

"The room does have a lock on it." Shigure said.

"That's not what I meant! How shall I say this...?" Kuri said.

"Kuri-san, do you like housework? For example, cleaning, and cooking, and so on?" Shigure said.

"Um... yes, I do like that." Kuri said.

"Welcome to the House of Sohma! I'll carry your things up too. Ah, Yuki-kun, let her

borrow a change of clothes." Shigure said.

"Y- you can't! Not only did you tend to me, you're giving me a room now? I'm putting you to too much trouble!" Kuri said.

"Hikawa-san, we're suggesting this because we want to, so don't think you're being any

trouble, and take us up on it. Besides, you have nowhere else to go, right?" Yuki said.

"Right...Um, in that case, if I'm going to put you out, then please tell me

about whatever rules and customs the House of Sohma has, and everything-" Kuri said.

"Don't worry about that sort of thing. Hikawa-san, you can just be yourself,

and take things slowly... in this house." Yuki said.

Xxx

"Tohru, you can just be yourself, and take things slowly..." Atsuko said.

Xxx

"So, are you sure this is okay? Having a girl live together with us?" Shigure said.

"What's this? Up until now you were utterly overjoyed." Yuki said.

"It's all right. Just as long as neither of us get hugged." Shigure said.

Xxx

"Before I knew what was happening, the matter had gone forward. It feels like I'm having a dream. But then again, I was even borrowing clothes." Kuri thought.

"Sure enough, because it's been closed up, it has become moldy. It would be best to open a

window for some ventilation." Yuki said.

Kyo blew through the roof.

"Yo! Are you ready for me to break your neck? Prince of Rats..." Kyo said.

"Why don't you give it up already? You're weak, after all." Yuki said.

"Look, you! If you look on me as being the same as I was just a while ago, then you're in for some pain! Today is the day when I smash that egotistical nose of yours!" Kyo said.

"Please, wait a moment!" Kuri said, smacking into Kyo and turning him into a cat.

"Yuki-kun, I just heard a terrific noise. By any chance has Kyo come by?" Shigure said.

"Forgive me! Are you all right!? Ah! He turned into a cat! A cat! It's all because I bumped into him!" Kuri said.

"-No... um... look..." Yuki said.

"-I hit him wrong, and turned him into a cat! In any case, to the hospital! We have to get him treated by a doctor!" Kuri said.

"-Hikawa-san!" Yuki said.

"Kuri-san!" Shigure said.

They both ran into her and transformed.

"Mother, this is terrible! Everyone is turning into animals!" Kuri thought.