Disclaimers: Standard disclaimers apply.


"You could have asked!"

"Would you have given it to me if I had?"

"So you decided to just ransack my room and take it without my permission, hoping I wouldn't notice?"

"I didn't ransack your room! And like I said, you've already left for school, what was I supposed to do?"

"I don't care what you were supposed to do! It's your own fault for misplacing your scientific calculator in the first place, and now you've gone and misplaced mine too, baka neko!"

"Yeah, yeah, spoken like a true egomaniac, the hoity toity Prince Yuki, like the true Mr Perfect who never does anything wrong-"

"Spoken like a true coward, twisting people's words around, putting the blame on someone else for his own carelessness and stupidity-"

"That's it!" Kyo slammed a fist into the wall, his eyes blazing with fury. "I'm going to teach you a lesson, and seal that smart-ass mouth of yours once and for all!"

"You put your fists where your mouth is and just try," Yuki sneered. "Would it kill you just to say you're sorry that you've lost something that belongs to someone else?"

Kyo balled his fists. "I didn't lose it! I know exactly where it is! It's in my desk-"

"At school," Yuki finished for him. "How do you expect me to finish my homework now, huh? Mental arithmetic?"

Kyo smirked. "Don't tell me you've forgotten how to count?"

Yuki's eyes narrowed to dangerous slits.

"Anou...Yuki-kun..." Tohru called out hesitantly. She was perched on top of the stairs where the two boys were standing, glaring daggers at each other, too caught up in their argument to realize they were blocking the way.

Yuki gave her a tight, apologetic smile. "Later, Honda-san. I'm kind of in the middle of something."

Tohru clasped her hands uncertainly across the front of her body, wringing her fingers anxiously. "Anou...if you need a calculator, I can lend you mine...I'm sure Kyo-kun didn't mean to steal yours...he only borrowed it for a little while-"

Kyo's face burned. "I don't need you to fight my fight for me-"

Yuki's head whipped around. "Leave her out of this." Keeping his eyes on Kyo, he continued. "It's not the borrowing that is bothering me, Honda-san. It's the principle behind it. He had plenty of opportunity to tell me about it at school, but he didn't, did he?"

"Kyo-kun...Yuki-kun..." Shigure poked his head through the door of his study. He pushed his glasses higher up his nose and peered at them with a frown. "If you're going to have a go at it, could you please take it elsewhere, and not do it there? You are awfully close to the stairs, don't you think? See, if you're planning to break your necks falling down, can you do it tomorrow at least? It's getting kind of late."

Yuki lifted a delicate eyebrow. "Does it really matter where we take it? It's the same loser everytime."

"Say that again!" Kyo marched forward, his fists held out in a fighting stance.

"L-O-" Yuki pressed in closer. "-S-E-R."

That's it. That is it.

"Tohru-kun, watch out!" Shigure yelled; he could see what was coming, but it was too late.

On reflex, Kyo's arms had shot out, his fist rushing forward as he launched a punch, but he felt the bony end of his elbow push against something soft instead; and even before the hit landed, he had turned his head to the side, his eyes widening in fear.

"Honda-san!" Yuki had seen Kyo's elbow hit Tohru in the small of her back. He leapt forward, but his fingers barely grazed the tips of Tohru's hair, and he found himself grasping empty air; watching in horror as Tohru lost her footing and started to fall.

And a long, loud scream shattered the silence of the night like breaking glass.


"Sorry, Ha-san," Shigure bowed his head a little. "I'm really sorry."

Hatori just glanced at him out the corner of one eye. Shigure had sounded so frantic over the phone, very much unlike his usual self that he really thought something serious had happened.

Well...it was serious, but-

He guessed a fall down the stairs would scare the wits out of everyone, even the calmest and most level-headed of people. Not that Shigure was remotely level-headed in any way, but he supposed with Honda-kun near tears with pain, cradling her broken wrist in her lap, it was understandable that all three men of the household were upset.

"No need to apologize. I haven't gone to bed," Hatori said, inspecting Tohru's wrist with an expert hand. "Even if I have, by all means, go ahead and call me anyway." He fingered the base of her thumb lightly, where there was already some swelling and bruising. And from the look on her face, he could tell it was very sore.

"And you two. What did you think you were doing?" Hatori asked sharply. "Honda-kun could have been seriously hurt."

Yuki's jaw clenched, refusing to meet his eyes. Kyo, sitting cross-legged at the far corner of the room, only stared down at his lap.

Shigure knelt down next to Hatori, looking anxious. "Is it broken?"

"Ah..." The Dragon had a strong feeling that it was. A fall onto outstretched hands...especially from such a height...the scaphoid bone in the wrist would almost always be bruised, if not fractured. "She needs to go to the hospital and get an X-ray of her wrist. If we're lucky, it could just be a simple fracture that can be fixed with a cast. Or else an orthopaedic surgeon needs to take a look at it, she might need a minor operation to insert a wire to stabilise the fracture as the bone heals."

Shigure breathed in deeply. Hatori noticed his cousin still had his glasses on; he must have been working when the accident happened.

"I suppose you need me to go with you, Ha-san?" Shigure rose to his full height. "To sign the medical papers and whatnot?"

Hatori nodded. "You are her legal guardian, are you not?"

Shigure nodded, but his eyes were on the two sullen boys sitting so quietly far, far away from everyone. "I'll go get our coats Tohru-kun, and then we can go. We don't want to freeze out in the cold, do we?"

"I'm sorry, Shigure-san..." Tohru whispered tearfully, bowing her head in misery.

"Oh dear..." Shigure just gave her good hand a little pat. "You shouldn't apologize, Tohru-kun...I can assure you, out of everyone in this room, you are the most deserving of an apology." He smiled gently.

"Yuki-kun...Kyo-kun...an early night sounds good, doesn't it? Why don't you two go to your room and get some rest? I think we've all had enough excitement for one night, ne? The last time you didn't listen to me, I assume you two were there to see what had happened?"

Shigure's face was smiling, but his eyes were hard. Hatori had never seen so many question marks strung in just one breath. Anyone who knew Shigure well could see that he meant every word, and that he expected them to obey him this time.

Yuki rose to his feet, but his gaze had settled on the cat who had long since curled up into a tight ball in the corner of the living room. "I hope you're happy now, Kyo. Maybe you can finally see that your presence here brings nothing but pain and penury to everyone who's had the misfortune of ever having known you."

With that, he brushed past Shigure at the door, and stalked out without so much as a word.

"Yuki-kun..." Shigure called his name softly, but Yuki ignored him completely; the dog could only stare at his retreating back as he disappeared up the stairs.

Even Tohru and Hatori had looked up, clearly surprised at what Yuki had said. In panic, Tohru temporarily forgot all about her painful wrist and stared at Kyo's hunched form. She couldn't see his face; he had buried it in his arms. Had he heard every single word? Her heart pounded crazily. Of course he had! How could he have not? She understood why Yuki was angry but still...

"Kyo-kun..." She pulled away from Hatori's grasp and reached out a hand toward the cat, but with an agility natural only to felines, Kyo leapt to his feet and ran soundlessly out onto the open porch, before disappearing in the night. Hatori exchanged knowing glances with Shigure, who could only shake his head in regret.

This is not good, he thought. Not good at all.

"Tohru-kun..."

Tohru's face had gone pale, and she looked as if she was on the verge of tears. Shigure bent down and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Tohru-kun, come. We have to go." He hesitated a little, before adding, "Don't you worry about them. Everything will be alright, you'll see."

He straightened up. "You'll see," he repeated softly, more to himself than to anyone in particular.

"But..." Her voice trailed off, still staring off into the night. She could not believe this was happening.

Hatori nodded. "Shigure's right. Let's go."

"Y-yes." But her eyes were downcast, cloudy; hiding none of the turbulence she was currently feeling inside. Yuki's harsh words played over and over again in her mind. Kyo-kun was so hurt...she could feel it. He must be...the words were not even directed at her but she felt them all the same. And as she let the two older Sohmas lead her toward the car waiting outside, she couldn't help but wonder if things were really going to be alright like Shigure-san had said.


"Are you comfortable?" Hatori asked. Shigure handed him a small pillow and he tucked it under Tohru's wrist, elevating it to a more comfortable position. She was lucky she only needed a plaster cast; the scaphoid had been merely cracked, and it would heal in a matter of weeks. Just so long as she stayed away from any household chores for the time being.

Tohru nodded and merely smiled. She was already lying in bed, ready to go to sleep. The trip to the emergency room had been quite an exhausting experience, not just for her, but Shigure too. In fact, everything that happened that night had been draining.

"I'm going to leave you with some painkillers. And don't worry, they're quite mild, so they won't make you drowsy." Hatori placed a small bottle filled with round white capsules by her bed.

"Thank you, Hatori-san." But her eyes clouded over. "I didn't mean to be so much trouble, making Hatori-san come all the way here in the middle of the night...I'm sorry."

"It's alright, Honda-kun." Hatori's lips thinned into a rare smile. "Just get some rest. You'll feel much better in the morning."

"Okay." Tohru closed her eyes obediently but Shigure had known her long enough to know that her mind must be whirring like crazy; it was obvious she was still upset, and worried too, and he had a feeling why, and whom she was worried about.

Shigure reached down and patted her head gently, much to Hatori's amusement. It wasn't everyday he got to see his devil-may-care, 'the-world-is-my-oyster' cousin acting all fatherly with any of his charges.

Shigure whispered in her ear. "Shh, don't think about it anymore," he admonished gently. "Bad things happen sometimes. Ne?"

Tohru's lower lip trembled slightly, but her eyes remained closed. She simply nodded.

Satisfied, Shigure straightened up and switched on the bedside lamp. "Good night, Tohru-kun."

"Good night," she whispered softly.

Hatori followed Shigure out the door, and hit the light switch off on the way out. He closed the door behind them carefully, and nearly crashed into Shigure's back. The dog was staring at the other end of the upper hallway, in the general direction of Yuki's room.

Hatori breathed in deeply. "I'll go make us some tea." Shigure nodded absently, letting him pass. But his feet were already moving.

Yuki's light was still on, he noted, noticing the stray ray of fluorescent escaping through the slit of his door. Shigure pulled it open with one hand.

"I hope you've got him packing and ready to leave on the first bus out of here tomorrow."

Shigure kept his arms crossed, wrapping the huge sleeves of his robe tightly around himself. Yuki was sitting at his desk with an open book in front of him, but his eyes weren't moving. He wasn't reading.

"You're not being fair, Yuki-kun."

"What isn't fair is you taking this so lightly." Yuki's grip around his pen tightened. "That stupid cat is lucky Honda-san only hurt her wrist; if it had been worse-"

"What do you think you would have done then, Yuki? Would you have punched his lights out? Beaten him to a pulp till he couldn't fight back?"

Yuki sighed. It was hopeless expecting more from Shigure, he just wasn't that type of person. "Well, someone needs to teach him a lesson. I don't see you doing it."

Shigure's lips tightened, and underneath his yukata, he gripped his elbows with whitening knuckles. "A lesson in discipline is taught through experience and observation, not fists. You of all people should know that. I hope you realize that it could have easily been you who had thrown that first punch instead of Kyo."

Yuki shook his head. "No. Something like this wouldn't have happened if he hadn't been here to begin with. I was against the idea of him living with us in the first place, remember?"

"Ah...but you did provoke him, Yuki," Shigure reminded him gently.

"That is hardly the point. Honda-san could have been seriously hurt tonight, and you act like you don't even care. Defending the stupid cat who started this whole mess in the first place!"

"Tohru-kun is fine, and that's all that matters," Shigure said a little heatedly, quite angered by Yuki's accusations. "Now, if you please, I suggest you two stop all this nonsense and be at least civil too each other. This is not why I brought the two of you into this house. "

"You're all bark, Shigure. You brought us into this house because Akito told you to. "

If Yuki could only look past Shigure's sad, kind smile, he would have caught the sudden clenching of his jaw.

"Yuki-kun...all those years of martial arts training-" Shigure shook his head. "You didn't actually need them. Your words...are far more hurtful."

The boy froze, involuntarily dropping his pen onto the open pages of his book.

With an apologetic bow of his head, Shigure threw the rat one last look before turning his back to leave. "I'll leave you alone."

"Shigu-" Yuki reached out a hand, but his older cousin had already shut the door. "-re." He balled his fist and let it drop with a whack on the table. I didn't-mean-

Yuki sighed, and leaned forward slowly, resting his forehead against the edge of his desk, letting the stray strands of his silver hair prick his cheeks. He had a feeling he should apologize somehow. Was I...over-reacting? What's come over me? I'm not usually like this.

Damn it...

Seeing Honda-san hurt like that...he had felt something inside him snap. And he wasn't sure if he liked it.


Hatori didn't look up as Shigure took a seat next to him at the kotatsu. With the heel of one hand, he silently pushed Shigure's tea across the table, and a pack of cigarettes with the other.

"Wallpaper."

"Hmm?" Hatori tapped off the ash from the tip of his cigarette against the ashtray.

Eyes downcast, Shigure wrapped his fingers around the mug, letting the warmth of the tea suffuse into his cold hands. A sad smile. "That's all I am to him. Wallpaper."

A long, questioning gaze. No words were needed. He often said it best that way anyway.

"Am I-" Shigure's fingers curled tensely. "Have I been too...easy?"

"Easy?"

"On them?" The lines on Shigure's forehead deepened.

Hatori's eyes narrowed. "What exactly did Yuki say to you?"

His cousin's only answer was a soft, low chuckle. But the sadness in his eyes was something Hatori did not see often.

"He's right about one thing, though," Shigure said finally. "Maybe I should be more...responsible. Somehow."

Hatori frowned, not quite following.

Shigure laughed again, his eyes fixed at the ripples on the surface of his tea. "Less bark. More bite."

The Dragon held his breath. And let it out slowly. Obviously Kyo's not the only who's been hurt by Yuki's sharp tongue tonight, he thought.

"A strict code and punishments...if that's what Yuki means by responsibility, then he should have just stayed at the Main House." Hatori stubbed his smoke out and clasped his fingers in front of him. "This is your house. You run it the way you want to run it."

"Ah...you're not saying I should be a tyrant now, are you, Ha-san?"

"Come now. I know you're only half as stupid as you look," Hatori said. Shigure smirked.

Hatori knew his cousin had been trying. He was there when Shigure first moved into the house, his first step toward independence, adulthood. He was there when Yuki moved in, how having someone else he needed to look after had changed Shigure. The dog might not see it himself. But deep down, Hatori admired him for it; taking care of three teenagers was not the easiest thing in the world, and here was Shigure, the day-dreamer of the family, doing it without complaint.

Well, most of the time, anyway.

The sensei had written and sold more books than most other struggling authors in Japan, and was highly-regarded by many; but what he really wished for, that little something which he couldn't quite describe in words (ironic, really) was missing in his own home.

"There's just...so many things I can't do for them, you know?" Shigure sounded frustrated. "I tried so hard to keep everything together, to not make it fall apart...to make it work...but maybe I'm not doing enough."

Shigure managed a small smile. "Tohru-kun...has been a big help so far. I don't know how she does it, she must have some kind of magic powers or something, but whenever she's around, things get less tense in the house. She makes things bearable."

"And now this." Shigure raked a hand through his unruly black hair and sighed. "I suppose I am partly to blame. I depended on her too much."

"And now I can't even take control...of what Akito-san's entrusted in my hands." Shigure stared dully at the shining lacquer of the table top.

Hatori felt a mild rush of anger wash over him. Whatever Yuki had said, it was affecting his friend hard. Shigure had never been this talkative about himself. But he wasn't going to insult Shigure's intelligence and dignity so as to suggest letting Hatori have a talk with Yuki himself. So he made do with what he always did best.

"Someday they'll realise it, you know. And someday you'll realise it too."

"Realise what?" Shigure asked, unsure if he really wanted to know.

"That they respect you more than they think they do."

Shigure gazed at him steadily.

Hatori lit another stick and took a long, heavy drag. To others, Shigure was a figure of mystery; always smiling on the outside, but never showing his actual feelings and thoughts. To him however, he was an open book. "They depend on you. They might not like it, but they do."

"Most Sohma men are arrogant bastards, so I doubt you'll ever get a thank-you-" Hatori drawled. "But...seeing them healthy, and happy, and well, knowing that you've done a good job looking after them, that's thank-you enough, I should think."

"You think they don't appreciate you. But I think, deep down, they do." Hatori shrugged. "To a greater or lesser degree, anyway."

He glanced at his cousin out the corner of one eye. "So cheer up already, will you?"

Shigure could only stare at his friend in awe, his eyes shining. "Ha-san...I think that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me. Ever."

Hatori snorted, but he was smiling inside. He congratulated himself on being able to say exactly what Shigure wanted and needed to hear. Of course, part of it was made-up, but who cared, as long as Shigure was himself again. "Don't get too used to it."

"I won't!" Shigure happily took a sip from his tea, his face much brighter now than it had been just a few minutes ago. "Are you staying the night?"

Hatori shook his head. "Akito's doing poorly at the moment. I have to go back and see if he's had any bowel movements at all today." He winced.

Shigure knew he should sympathize. But it was Hatori's own fault thathis good spirits were restored anyway, so he might as well have himself some fun. "Ha-san...that's your idea of a good time, isn't it? Doing rectal exams?" He grinned. "See, you should just quit and be a writer, like me! At least none of my body parts will ever be in another person's body where it's not supposed to be!"

"Keep it up and I'll give you a rectal right here and now," Hatori warned, half-serious. "With the prized Mont Blanc fountain pen Ayame gave you for your birthday last year."

"Ha-san, you're so mean! To think that you were so nice to me just a few minutes ago!" But Shigure inched away from him anyway, his face brightening at the mention of their other best friend. "Aya! The missing piece to the Mabudachi Trio Jigsaw Puzzle! Ne, Ha-san, when is he coming back again?"

"Day after tomorrow." Hatori rose. "I should probably go. It's getting very late." He regarded his sitting cousin calculatively. "Are you still feeling suicidal?"

Shigure gave him a thumbs-up sign, and grinned sheepishly. "I'm A-okay now! Sorry for making you worry. But it makes me feel all warm and good inside, knowing that you cared! I am so lucky to have such a-"

"If Honda-kun starts to feel itchy underneath the cast tomorrow, tell her it's normal," Hatori interrupted, grabbing his coat and bag from off the floor. "And tell her not to get it wet when she takes a bath."

"I will!" Shigure showed him out.

"Get some sleep Shigure. I understand your sleeping schedule is a bit off nowadays. It's starting to show."

Shigure shooed him out. "Don't you worry about me Ha-san...I put cucumber slices on my eyes every morning! Or every evening, depending when I actually wake up-but it really works! See, no eyebags!"

Hatori sighed. Maybe a depressed Shigure wasn't such a bad idea after all.

He started the engine of his car. "Don't tell me you're going to do more writing tonight?"

"No, I'll do it tomorrow. And besides I have somewhere to go." Shigure shrugged.

Hatori leaned an elbow out the window, and looked at him questioningly.

Shigure pointed his index finger heavenward and gave him a knowing smile.


"What the hell are you doing here?" He barked.

"It's my roof," Shigure said simply, shrugging his shoulders.

"Okay.." Kyo should rephrase. "What the hell do you want?"

"Do I have to want something, Kyo-kun?"

"Oi! Stop messing around!" He grabbed Shigure's collar and gave the dog a shake. "You got something to say to me, just say it!"

"Ah-ah-ah!" Shigure waggled his finger. "Before you shove me off the edge, I should tell you that I might just decide to take the roof down, you know, renovate the house, make it open-air, with just the twinkling blanket of stars over our heads, and you won't have anywhere to hang anymore, how does that sound?"

"Grrr!" Kyo grinded his teeth together. He let go of the dog. "Stupid inu."

"You're so cute."

"What did you just say!"

"Calm down, Kyo-kun. You'll wake up Tohru-kun! Although-" Shigure tipped his head precariously down the edge of the roof to take a look. "I do find it interesting why you always choose this spot to hang. Do you find it easier to sulk if you're sitting on top of Tohru-kun's room? Or have you been a Peeping Tom, you naughty, naughty boy? Spying on our little flower like that?"

"I hope you fall and break your neck," Kyo said viciously.

"Aw, your compassion for others is really quite touching-" Shigure drew his head back. "I'm...not so sure if you really wanted to wish that on me though."

Kyo watched as the dog spirit stretch his long legs out over the edge and wiggle his toes. "Wishing for someone else's misfortune would just be another insult to your already burdened conscience if it came true, would it not?"

Kyo frowned. Shigure was always so wordy. What the hell does that mean anyw-

Oh.

Shigure caught the sudden stiffening of his body and knew he'd hit a nerve.

"How..is she?"

Shigure smiled softly. "She's alright. Just a small fracture. Although we will be fending for ourselves for the next couple of weeks, give or take a few days."

Kyo bowed his head.

"He's wrong, you know."

Kyo lifted his head to the sky; all the fight seemed to have left him, and his silence was only indicative of his turbulent emotions and mixed-up feelings.

"Yuki was...upset. You shouldn't take it to heart...what he said, I mean."

"He was right."

"No, he wasn't."

"Yes, he was!" Kyo cried out. "Ever since the first day she came, I've been saying the wrong things...doing the wrong things...and now this."

"But you've been learning. How to get along with people." Shigure glanced at him. "I've seen you try."

"It wasn't enough," Kyo retorted bitterly. "I...I hurt her anyway." It was a hard confession to make. But he just had to say it. Had to get it off his chest. Even if it was just to Shigure.

"It was an accident, Kyo."

"Baka inu," he muttered. "There's no such thing as accidents. Just my stupid-" He punched a fist against the tiles. "-stupid temper."

Shigure climbed to his feet and rose to his full height. He didn't know how Kyo could do it, but the biting cold was seeping through the thin protective layer of his skin, and piercing into his bones.

"Kyo-kun..."

The cat spirit stared unwaveringly into the night.

"I know." Shigure tilted his head, studying the boy's sullen profile in the light of the moon. "I know...guilt is the worst feeling in the world. But it will eat you alive, if you don't let it go."

Kyo swallowed hard. Every single thing Shigure said was true. But that didn't change anything one damn bit.

Yuki was still right. He was still bad luck.

"Don't stay out too long. You're going to catch a cold." With that, Shigure scrambled back inside, throwing him one last look, before finally disappearing into the warm depth of the house.

But Kyo stayed out all night anyway.

To be continued...

Author's notes:

This is NOT good. My third Furuba fic in a month? I must be more stressed than I thought I was. Sorry if Yuki was a bit OOC but honestly, it does lead somewhere, I promise. And besides, that's how I pictured how he'd behave if Tohru had just narrowly missed her death after being shoved down the stairs, by Kyo, of all people, accident or no accident!

Kizuna literally means 'bond'; and that's what this fic is all about! Bonds! It's non-yaoi; I'm just trying to explore the different sorts of relationship they've got going on with each other. It's quite fun, really. Although I've only ever seen the anime, so pardon any OOC-ness and uncanonness.

I edited the previous version, made it longer, it's more satisfying this way, yes?

-S-E-L-E-A-R-W-E-V-P-I-E-

Jumble that around what do you get?

P-L-E-A-S-E R-E-V-I-E-W!

ps: As you can probably guess, I'm kind of stoned at the moment. Nyahaha.