A/N: This is the last chapter! I can't believe it! I'm going to write some comments at the end of this chapter, if you're interested in reading my random thoughts about this story and it's ending.
The weather was almost intolerably hot, and Momiji languidly fanned himself with his hand as he lay in the sun next to Akito. These moments were so precious to him, but even Momiji could only put up with so much sentimentality. He had been silently lying there for some time since Akito had wanted to take a nap shortly after he arrived. Next to him, Akito was still breathing evenly in his sleep, and Momiji listened happily for another moment before rolling over and wrapping an arm around him.
"I'm bored," he whispered into Akito's ear before nuzzling him.
"Then go somewhere else," Akito mumbled harshly after a moment and turned over so his back was to the rabbit.
"Ohhh, you're no fun." Momiji pouted and poked Akito. "Do you really want me to go?"
"Would you leave if I said yes?"
"Hmmm, probably not. I'm here to stay! What else do I have to do? School's out for a couple days."
"I've been wondering why you always seem to be here."
Momiji sniffed dramatically. "If that's how you feel, then I'll just go find someone else to entertain me."
"Try one of those street artists…a mime perhaps? I believe it's their job to entertain."
"You're in a bad mood today," Momiji stated and sat up, rubbing his forehead with the back of his hand. He had no idea why Akito liked basking so much; he felt like he was in a tanning bed. It also made him wonder how Akito's skin was still nearly snow white and not sunburned like a lobster.
"I'm tired," Akito retorted before glancing at Momiji over his shoulder. He looked at the rabbit with hooded eyes. "You take a lot of energy."
"That's what Hatori says. I don't understand why, though. Just because I don't sit around all day…LET'S GO FOR A WALK!" Momiji bounced up and hopped from foot to foot in anticipation. "Come on!"
"I'm tired," Akito said again, as if repeating himself would make the rabbit understand. Of course, Momiji had heard him perfectly well the first time.
"You've been asleep for almost an hour!"
"You take a lot energy," Akito repeated with closed eyes and a relaxed smile as he rolled onto his back. Momiji flushed for an instant but wouldn't be sidetracked.
"Let's go for a walk. It's so nice outside."
"We are outside."
"I'm going by myself then," Momiji hopped off the porch and danced childishly for a moment in the sun. "Sure you don't want to cooome?" he sang to the sky with outstretched arms.
Akito looked at Momiji for a moment and then back down on the porch to which he had become so accustomed. He pretended to be torn between staying and wanting to go with the rabbit, when in fact his mind had been made up as soon as Momiji woke him. Momiji would not be denied, and Akito didn't want to try.
Akito sat up with a leisurely stretch of his arms.
"I think we should go for a walk," he said in a tone which implied it had been his idea all along.
"Okay!" Momiji clapped his hands.
The weather was perfect, and Kyo held Hatsuharu's hand as they lay in the shade together, speckled by the light falling through the leaves of the maple trees. They had stopped talking several minutes ago to simply enjoy the view of the sky through the canopy. After a bit, Kyo moved to put his free arm over his eyes.
Free. He was free, and it still overwhelmed him.
Hatsuharu glanced over.
"Are you crying?" he asked with just a trace of humor.
"Shut up," Kyo muttered, releasing Haru's hand and sitting up. "I was just thinking about how great everything has been recently."
"Yeah, I am pretty great," Haru agreed and nodded. "Can't argue with that."
"Would you shut up! I'm trying to be serious!" Kyo fumed. He tucked his knees under his chin and tried not to look at Hatsuharu.
"Who says I wasn't being serious?" Haru crawled in front of the cat and tried to catch his eye. "Hey, what's the matter? Sorry, blame Grey Haru, he's a weird one….Kytten?"
Kyo locked eyes with Haru for a moment, then suddenly lay back on the grass. He motioned for Haru to follow, and the cow tucked himself beside Kyo.
"You know when we were about to be fucked over by Akito?"
Haru agreed with a head nod against Kyo's chest.
"Well, I was just thinking…how you said you loved me."
"I implied it, yes."
Kyo smacked Haru's head lightly. "If you're going to be an ass about this, then forget it."
Haru only chuckled. "I'm sorry. I only get giddy when I'm really happy."
"Yeah, I know," Kyo sighed. He tried to regain his original train of thought. "See, the thing is, I...just wanted to say thanks, for everything."
"You know," Haru said mildly. "You saying 'thank you' to a confession of love is not really what I was hoping for." Haru considered for a moment. "But I guess it will do for now." He sat up and looked down at the cat. "Unless you just wanted to say thanks for my many sexual favors."
"God, Haru!" Kyo turned crimson and put his face in his hands in embarrassment. After a few moments spent letting his face return to a normal color, Kyo looked back up at Haru through a crack in his fingers. Haru took the opportunity to pull Kyo's hands away and kiss him. Kyo purred into Haru's mouth before the taller boy pulled back suddenly. Kyo frowned, but then he heard the crunch of approaching footsteps.
"They're early," Haru muttered and glanced down at the other boy, who did not look pleased at the sudden inclusion of more people. Haru smiled endearingly as he leaned down to nip Kyo's ear, and Kyo had to ignore the desire to punch the cow for keeping secrets.
"We're having company," Haru said, the smile never leaving his face.
"I thought this was your secret spot." Kyo quickly brushed grass off his back.
"Well, after Kagura, the secret's kinda out. Plus Rin already knew about it, so it was never really a total secret."
Kyo decided to let the mention of Rin be as meaningless as Haru had intended it to be. He finished cleaning himself off and waited for Haru to explain further, but further conversation was cut off as the branches to the right of him were pulled back and Momiji crawled underneath them. The rabbit stood up, brushed himself off, smiled at Kyo, and then helped Akito enter the grove.
Kyo blanched, but he could tell Hatsuharu was not fazed at all. He silently called the cow a number of names he would not say aloud in the presence of the clan leader. Then Kyo fully registered Akito's presence as dangerous, and he almost made an attempt at running. Haru placed a hand on his shoulder.
"You're early," the cow announced calmly and took his hand off of Kyo to ruffle Momiji's hair and kiss him on the cheek. "Hello," Haru said to Akito, and Kyo thought he had a mini-heart attack when the cow kissed Akito's cheek in greeting. That accomplished, Haru moved back to Kyo and sat down next to him, patting the ground for the other two to join them.
"So, what're you up to?" Momiji asked as he bounded over. Akito slowly followed but remained silent. Kyo thought Akito would lose it any second, but the leader's face barely looked angry. It was more confused.
"Just enjoying the scenery," Haru answered.
"I guess you didn't tell Kyo?" Momiji questioned.
"I guess you didn't tell Akito?" Haru countered.
Momiji sighed and turned to Akito as Haru did the same with Kyo.
"We want us to be friends," they said at the same time. Kyo thought this seemed very planned, and a quick glance to Akito proved he thought the same. Akito met Kyo's eyes for a moment, and the leader actually rolled his eyes and shrugged with a smile.
Kyo swallowed and nodded.
"Okay," Kyo whispered.
"Actually, Hatsuharu," Akito said evenly. "I have a present for you. I was simply going to give it to Momiji to give it to you, but I suppose this will work." Momiji looked over at him in surprise.
"Really?" Haru took it in stride.
Akito reached into an inner pocket of his robe and pulled out a red and white beaded bracelet. He held it in front of Haru.
"This is for you. I thought you might like a matching set."
"Where did you get that!" Kyo yelled and compulsively checked his wrist to make sure his own bracelet was still there.
Momiji gave Akito a measuring look before speaking. Akito nodded slightly to the rabbit as Haru took his gift.
"Yours isn't the only bracelet, Kyo," Momiji said. "Haru there is something I've been meaning to tell you about Akito."
Both Kyo and Haru looked at Momiji with interest, and although Kyo thought it was a little rude to be speaking like this with Akito here, he soon became captivated by Momiji's story.
Shigure, Hatori, and Ayame sat in a row on the edge of the doctor's porch. Ayame held his parasol over himself and Hatori, leaving Shigure to bake in the sun.
"Did you see them?" Ayame asked excitedly.
"Who?" Hatori focused on lighting his cigarette.
"Momiji and Akito. They just walked by," Shigure answered and reached over for a cigarette of his own.
"Didn't they look adorable?" Ayame asked with a romantic sigh. "I can't believe I missed the excitement."
"Yes, it was very exciting…" Hatori muttered. "As exciting as a car crash."
Shigure raised his eyebrows. "Sarcasm from the doctor!"
Ayame turned to the dog. "And," he said, "You could have at least told me about Yuki and Tohru."
"You would have been making a wedding dress as soon as the words came out of my mouth," Shigure laughed. "Perhaps for each of them."
"So?" Ayame pouted. "Nothing wrong with being prepared."
The group fell into silence. Shigure flicked some ash off of his cigarette.
"I…should probably tell you something."
"What?" Ayame asked a bit sulkily.
"I'm the one who told some of the cleaning staff about Akito and Momiji."
Silence overcame them again before Ayame let out a shaky laugh. "Whatever for?"
Hatori kept his eyes on the smoke he breathed out. Shigure felt the doctor tense beside him.
"Yes, Shigure, whatever for."
"It was the perfect plan really," Shigure started and edged a little further away from Hatori. "With the truth out, Akito was forced to figure out his true feelings for Momiji. Of course he would choose to keep the little guy around. Who wouldn't?" Shigure paused. "I also kicked Hatsuharu and Kyo out of the house when they were together," he whispered with a guilty look at Ayame. Hatori refused to look at him.
"My, my, and what did that accomplish?" Ayame asked with a smile.
"I figured that those two idiots would get caught eventually, but with Momiji by Akito's side nothing would happen to them." He touched Hatori's arm. "I just didn't think they would get caught before Akito had made up his mind."
Ayame watched the other two. He felt the tension in the air but decided to let them work it out. He could only soothe things over to a point. Hatori would have to make up his own mind about how to react.
"Well, Shigure." Hatori's voice was eerily calm. "What are you going to do to entertain yourself now?"
Ayame sighed in relief.
"We could start a book club," he offered brightly.
"How about a quilting circle," Hatori added with a perfectly straight face.
Shigure looked at the two juunishi sitting next to him and sidled next to Hatori again.
"You bring the needles and fabric," he said with a gesture to Ayame, "and I'll bring the smutty novels!"
Akito and Momiji walked back to his porch. Akito could barely believe he had just spent time with the cat and the cow and not lost his temper in the least, not gotten jealous, not cared about the blatant slap in the face that Kyo was even there. He didn't care anymore. He felt that he could tell them about his death, and they had taken it well. They had been silent, but at least there had also been no pity in the juunishi.
He realized something inside of him had died, and Akito was glad it was dead.
"Akito, I was thinking about something while we were with Haru and Kyo," Momiji said, stopping in the middle of the path. Akito paused beside him and followed Momiji's gaze to the canopy above them. "The leaves are so pretty aren't they?"
"I suppose." Akito had never really admired a leaf before. It was another thing he took for granted, and he was fairly certain most normal people did too. But he wanted to humor Momiji a little. "They're very lovely."
"I was just thinking," Momiji began uncertainly. "How, as soon as fall comes, the leaves become even prettier."
"Yes, that's true." Akito's neck began to hurt from looking up. He turned to Momiji, whose focus was still above them.
"And, then, they just die," Momiji whispered, and Akito quirked an eyebrow.
"The leaves keep the tree alive, are so important to its survival, and then they fall to the ground…I love that time of year. Hatori always rakes, and I'll jump in the piles to ruin them." Momiji smiled a little and finally met Akito's eyes.
"Autumn is my favorite time of year, but I always get a little sad."
"It's not autumn yet," Akito replied with a small smile. "The leaves are still here, and you can enjoy them until they're gone."
"Do you mind if we just sit here for a little bit?" Momiji asked uncertainly and reached for Akito's hand.
"No, I don't mind at all."
They moved off that path and lay down on the grass next to each other.
"Haru taught me how to enjoy just looking up sometimes. It's a view we don't really think about."
Akito stayed silent and put his head on Momiji's shoulder. It really was a lovely view, watching the leaves move in the wind above them; a view they would never see again, in quite the same way.
Akito decided to just enjoy the moment and not think too far ahead.
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A/N: I can't believe it's over! Actually…I'm already plotting out the short sequel (which will make life happy for everyone!). Madgicai, my beloved beta-reader, told me this was far too sad. And, I'd really like to continue this story…it has been in my life for way too long. It was the first thing of such quality and length I've ever written.
Thank you for all of the beautiful reviews you've written. I loved writing this story, and I'm so glad you enjoyed it too! I