"You didn't answer my question! Don't make me repeat myself!" threatened Kyo, still in cat-form.
"I believe that is lapsang souchong," noted Hatori.
"I said my question, not his!"
"The tea?" Shigure's dog nose took a second to confirm, "So it is!"
"Are you even listening to me anymore?"
"But why lapsang souchong? How odd."
"All this talk about tea is making me hungry! Come on, Tohru, let's go into the kitchen and make snacks!"
"Umm," Momiji had grabbed her by both arms and dragged her along, "Okay then, we'll be back soon?"
"Goddamnit! Answer me, dog!"
"I presume a cup was spilled. It may well be the cup you hold in your hand, Shigure."
"Why! I think you just may be right, Ha'ri."
"Oh, for the love of innocent, blossoming girls – put some clothes on, Kyo! Please!" Shigure covered his face with both hands, then peered at the boy from between his fingers, "Of all things to do when we have company!"
A few minutes later, they were all seated around the table, munching on delightful little snacks, courtesy of Tohru (and despite Momiji).
"So, what happened to bring you home so soon?" Tohru asked, handing him back the fruit platter.
"Ahh." Shigure tapped the side of his nose knowingly, "Well, once upon a time there was a handsomely rugged man named Shi–"
"Skip the bull and just get on with it!" Kyo lay further away, drying on the porch.
"There isn't actually much to get on with, ahah. I went to see Ayame, as I said, to reminisce about the good old times. We were remembering the days – and nights, haha! – of being young and hormonal, when suddenly it hit me." He scanned the room dramatically, and opened his hand palm-up to reveal a strawberry, "I remembered that Yuki mentioned something this morning about going somewhere and doing something, but I thought nothing of it, hah. Then I realised that the two of you –" nodding at Kyo and Tohru, "Well! You would be left alone. Together. And of course, you're also young and hormonal, as we were when we were at that age – and, frankly, I was worried about what might happen!"
Shigure popped the strawberry into his mouth and chewed, unaware of Kyo's expression. Swallowing like a good boy, he ploughed on blindly: a dreamy traveller cheerily skipping off a cliff and onto a tightrope, as Kyo wielded scissors. "So, understandably concerned, I left immediately – Ayame had to finish designing his latest outfit anyway, it's breath-taking, you must see it some time – and then Ha'ri appeared and kindly agreed to accompany me."
"He called me last minute and wouldn't be quiet unless I gave him a ride home."
"And even then I was still loud, ahaha! But of course, when Momiji here heard that we were going to see Tohru, well!"
"Oh yes!" Momiji beamed and adopted his story-telling voice, "Then, as we were walking along down the path, there it was! A little teacup came flying out of nowhere and landed right on Shigure's head! Hatori said it might've come from the house, so I ran ahead to protect Tohru from the pirates –"
"Dearie me, pirates!"
"– but then I found that the pirates were gone, and it was just you two, and – haha, you know the rest!"
"Young and… hormonal?" Kyo had darkened at earlier words, and hadn't budged since. But now he was pushing himself up, and focusing on Shigure.
"Precisely, my boy! Very hormonal, in your case."
"I'll give you something to match that bruise on your head, you dirty-minded dog!"
Before they knew it, it was dinner time.
Hatori had firmly but politely declined the invite, as his only purpose was to accompany Shigure. So, he had left with a slight bow, towing a wailing rabbit behind him. Yuki was still nowhere to be seen.
For now, the three of them sat. And chewed. And swallowed.
Shigure, Kyo and Tohru were well into a perfectly good meal – healthy, tasty, and completely leek-free – and yet not a word was being uttered about it. Not a single word about anything, for that matter, had managed to cut through the cold air that had seeped in (possibly through the still-present gap in the main door) and echoed nothingness throughout the house.
In that quiet – like the puddle on the otherwise dry porch, beneath the moonlight – they could not help but reflect: on their shame, on their shock, and on whatever got past the general oblivion that results from cheerfully incorrigible self-absorption.
'I am so damn stupid.'
'Oh. My. God. Oh-my-godohmygodohmygod!'
'Wow, this fish is so delicious!'
'How could I smell her hair? Bet she thinks I'm just like Shigure now!'
'I can't believe he reached out like that!'
'I really must get the recipe. So that I know which one to ask Tohru to cook later!'
'It smelled so good, though. God, so good…'
'We were so close together! Imagine if he had turned back right– eeep!'
'Hmm. Might taste a bit better if there were some leeks. Mm, leeks.'
'Oh, you perverted bastard! Stop thinking about Tohru's hair!'
'Seriously, did he almost…? Was he going to finally…?'
'Wait…is that a fishbone stuck in my teeth?'
'Damn it! Now I can't not think of her! And all that damn hair…'
'Wait wait hold on, did I want something to happen? Think, Tohru!'
'Eww! I am a gentleman! Must get bone out without looking conspicuous!'
'Hell, I love Tohru too much not to think about her…'
'Would I really… Would I really have kissed him?'
Shigure growled aloud by unconscious mistake, and Tohru and Kyo looked up. Their glances met suddenly, and with minimal fumbling of mouths they jerked back to stare at their food.
'Idiot! She must have seen me blushing…'
'Oh my god! I think he saw me blushing!'
'Hah! Got it out. I don't even think they noticed. Good boy!'
Dinner had ended, but the silence loitered on. Shigure casually scratched the back of his head and yawned. Tohru glanced at his wide mouth, and took it as incentive to try.
"So," Her voice came out slightly squeaky; she cleared her throat. Shigure looked at her expectantly, while Kyo seemed to develop a polite interest in the air next to her head. "Umm. The moon! Yes, it's out… now. Outside." She looked down once more, as if to hide her embarrassment in her empty bowl.
With Tohru looking away, it was Kyo's take a punch at the stale atmosphere. He took a deep breath and aimed.
"Well, that was –" He had aimed too high, "dinner…" – and missed by a long shot.
'You stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid cat! Man, don't you even know any other adjectives? Oh god, shut up!'
Tohru hadn't even looked up. Kyo lowered his head and closed his eyes, as if waiting for execution. Slowly, Shigure looked from bowed head to bowed head, wondering – as he was known to do – how best to raise them up once more. And thus began the rambling.
"Ahh… Well now, yes that was a simply stupendous dinner! The stuff of fantasies, I tell you, especially with a moon like that to hover over us, burning bright! Like Kisa, haha!"
"Though I suppose one need not look through the window when there is a perfectly good view through the front door! Isn't that right, Tohru? Right, Kyo? And yet, what a shame!"
Nothing. Which was quite odd, considering that his voice had slowly gained volume. But Shigure always – expect for that one time – rose to the challenge.
"But alas, my unfortunate, defenceless house!" A wail. "As I have asked before, yes, time and time again, what have I done to deserve such maltreatment?" Cue the arm wriggling. "Oh, for shame, for shame! Woe is me, I tell you, woe!" Sob. "At this rate, I shall die homeless, like the dog I am!" Up with the dog ears. "And who would buy this dog in the window? Must I waggle my tail like –"
But before Shigure could sing the strangest medley, the door creaked.
It took its time, actually – a rather elongated creak, considering how short creaks can be – as if whatever was causing the creak was having some difficulty making the door creak all.
Then, a long shadow fell across the wooden floor – and Shigure gasped.
In a parallel universe, Shigure managed to finish his little song:
"Must I waggle my tail like you just don't care,
Oo-ooh, oo-oh! There's a party over here,
Oo-ooh, oo-oh! There's a party over there, in the window,
The one with the waggly tail!
How much is that doggie in the window?
Oh I do hope that Tina's doing her dance,
Jon's looking for romance,
Paul's getting down on the floor,
While Hannah's screaming out for sale!"
[Disclaimer: Not my songs. And no, I don't know why I did it.]