A/N: I'm slow, SO SLOW, but this chapter gave me the WORST writer's block, and argh I deserve to be abused one hundred times over. If anyone is still reading this, I am SO SORRY. I have some plans now, and I'll try to write sooner. This year has been absolute insanity for me. Sorry, sorry!
Disclaimer: Natsuki Takaya is the genius.
There was no sign of that stupid cat. Why did he have to be so ignorant, anyway? Did he not realize how much Tohru would fret over him? All the ruckus he would cause? Had the girl seen him? Yuki felt like giving that ungrateful creature a good punch in the face, which was not how he wanted to feel.
When the last warning bell rang, Yuki was fed up, but also a little worried. Just how many people knew about the secret, now? He nibbled his bottom lip anxiously, wondering what he was going to tell Tohru. Or Akito.
Just when he thought all hope was lost, he saw an orange head bobbing behind a group of trees. Yuki halted, too shocked to believe it was actually Kyo. He took a step closer, and saw his cousin slumped down against a tree, resting his head in his hands. Yuki blinked. He was wearing his uniform again, so that must have meant Tohru found him. The thought made him feel slightly bitter.
"So," Yuki said, stepping lightly out of the bushes and standing in front of Kyo. He saw him stiffen, but he didn't look up. Didn't even reply. Yuki continued. "You finally got your clothes back on, then?" He heard an agitated growl emit deep from Kyo's throat, but that was all. "Did Honda-san find you?"
"Did anyone see you transform?" He felt his heartbeat speeding up at the thought that someone had.
"I—I don't know," he muttered, slumping his shoulders even more. His face was still clutched in his hands. Yuki bit back any more vicious remarks he could have said.
"You don't remember?" he asked icily.
"No—I mean, yea—well, I don't know!" Kyo finally cried, glaring up at Yuki angrily, eyes narrowed to just slits. "Could you just leave me the hell alone?! Call your buddy Hatori in to take care of it if you're so freaked out!"
"I'm just asking you a simple question," Yuki persisted, feeling his annoyance starting to rise. He had been doing so well lately, too. What with Tohru breaking up with him (he still couldn't really believe it), and Kyo being the obvious cause… "Yes, or no?" he continued.
Kyo unrelentingly glared up at him, scrutinizing him. But finally he had to look away, just like he always did when it came to anything with Yuki. "She didn't notice," he finally uttered quietly, rubbing his hands together almost anxiously. "Too distracted by the guy that was chasing her. Looking the other way. I ran off, sort of thing." He told him nothing about how frightened he had been, how mortified. How in his cat form he had stood—frozen—in the puddle of his uniform, only to leap into action and climb up the nearest tree, to the back of the giggling girl who had exclaimed she had tripped over a rock. Didn't even see the uniform.
Yuki didn't bother asking about this 'guy that was chasing her'. Shrugging, he gave Kyo one last gaze. "You better not be lying."
"Why the hell would I lie about something like that?" Kyo spat out, standing up abruptly. "You damn Rat," he snapped, and then whirled around and strode out of the bushes briskly. Yuki watched him tensely. It hurt to ask the question, but…what did Tohru see in him?
Kyo hated it when Yuki got like that. All uptight and high-and-mighty. As if Kyo couldn't figure out anything on his own! He curled his fists angrily, not even bothering to go back into school. Instead, he walked in the opposite direction, high-tailing it across the street, just trying to get away from that place.
What had happened to him back there? Kyo hadn't meant to go soft on Tohru. He wasn't supposed to hold her fingers like that, all curled up in his own palms. He wasn't supposed to get close to her. Not like that. Because now he would have scared her. Stupid, stupid, self! He berated himself constantly as he walked heatedly down the street, lost in thought.
But she hadn't exactly gotten angry. Or freaked out. She had just sat there, silently. And seeing that blood on her hands… Kyo shivered. He hadn't wanted to hurt her either! Dammit, was he just a giant ball of cursedness or something? He had thought going out the windows would be more fun—albeit not safer—than going out the door. Besides, he hated to admit it, but… he had just wanted to spend more time with Tohru, anyway. But look where that had gotten them! Another awkward stage. God dammit.
Tohru didn't even hear the bell ring. She was still kneeling in that gravel, the rocks poking viciously at her flesh. Students rushed into the room at her back, and she didn't notice the small crowd gathering around the open windowpane, now missing a screen that sat neatly beside Tohru. No, she was still looking down at her scratched hands, still caressing her fingertips lightly, remembering Kyo's touch…
I'm being silly! She scolded, standing up and brushing the pebbles off of her knees. She glanced down at the window screen and then guiltily picked it up, handing it up to a student through the small bottom windowpane. "I'll fix it after school!" Tohru told the young girl, who only nodded hesitantly and passed the screen to someone else. Tohru turned around quickly and walked off, face pink with embarrassment.
"I wonder why Kyo ran off like that," she murmured to herself, heading around to the front of the school once again. "I hope I didn't do anything to annoy him!" She decided to listen to his advice though, and pay a visit to the school nurse.
As she walked into the school she noticed a few stray heads turning in her direction. Her face flamed, and she couldn't stop wondering what they must be thinking. Oh, she wished she still had no clue! It had been so much easier to ignore before. But now that she knew what they were all saying…
Ohhh, so what? Someone had spread nasty rumors around, but should she care? After all, they were about Kyo… and it wasn't like Tohru hated Kyo. In fact, it seemed to be the opposite…
"Ooh, but that doesn't make sense either!" Didn't I say I didn't want to be with him? Not yet… because Yuki and I just broke up. But maybe… maybe I only said that because I was… afraid. Of Kyo? Or Yuki?
Shaking her head, Tohru tapped lightly on the door of the nurse's office, wincing as the touch burned her hand. I'll try to figure it all out after I get my hands fixed, she thought determinedly.
It was the end of the day. Kyo had survived. No one had come up to him waving posters of cats in his face or anything. But there was nothing subtle, either. No quick glances, no fearful eyes. Well, there was the occasional whisper and people nudging each other as he walked by, but he could tell the difference. The latter was light and teasing due to the rumors. Anything about his transformation? Nothing. But he hadn't seen Tohru all afternoon either, and it was strange.
He set off down the hall toward his locker, wondering, just for a split second, why Tohru had gone back to the tree and spotted his uniform. But in a second the thought was gone, floating of his mind and into the breeze, light as a feather. He didn't think of it again.
He walked past a classroom; not even realizing it was the one he had been locked in earlier. But as he strode past he heard small squeaky noises through the door that was open a crack. Then a muffled bang as something fell. A muttered noise. Normally he would have kept walking. Whatever was going on wasn't any of his business. But he thought the squeaking voice was familiar.
Poking his head hesitantly through the door, Kyo spotted Tohru standing beside the window, trying desperately to fit the screen back into the window as she had promised earlier that day. But her hands were bandaged up and it was difficult for her to move her fingers deftly enough to handle the screen. Sighing, she propped it up against the wall and stood in the half-darkness of the room, lit only by the sunlight filtering through the windows once again.
Kyo quirked an eyebrow up in an exasperated way. "What're you doing?" he asked, taking a step inside, leaving the door open as it was before.
Tohru jumped, turning around. "Oh, Kyo-kun!" She smiled, which Kyo took as a good sign. He still felt strange about what he had done earlier. "I'm just trying to fix the window. I told a student I would after—after you left," she added hesitantly and with a burst of speed. She quickly spun around and tried to lift the medium-sized screen in her hands, but the bandages rubbed against her hands. She let out a breathe of air, trying not to drop it. "Aah, this is tricky!" she told Kyo, still facing the window and trying fruitlessly to stuff the screen in haphazardly.
"That's because your hands are all bandaged, stupid," Kyo scolded, dropping his bag on the ground with a thump. He walked over to Tohru, taking the screen lightly out of her hands. "You can't lift it when your hands are swollen."
Tohru tucked her hands into each other, fumbling with them and finally decided to clasp them together behind her back. "I promised," was all she whispered, and Kyo didn't reply right away.
"Doesn't mean you couldn't ask for help," he grunted, fiddling with the screen. Finally he knelt in front of the open space of the window, fitting the screen into place.
"I didn't know where you were." Like she had been looking for him. Kyo felt a sting of guilt that he would rather have not felt.
"Your boyfriend yelled at me today."
"He's not my boyfriend," Tohru replied softly, almost tiredly. Kyo felt guilty again, but this time he was irritated too. "And he was probably just anxious because I asked him to help find you, but I didn't tell him I found you… in time," she added lamely.
Kyo shrugged. "It wasn't anything big. The usual." He was taking his sweet time with this screen, popping it back into place when it didn't seem to fit right. Kyo knew he was just stretching the time with Tohru, but he didn't care.
"He seems tired lately, huh?"
"Whatever," Kyo replied, sick of talking about Yuki. It was all they seemed to have in common these days. With a final noise of frustration Kyo snapped the screen into place, sliding the glass of the window in front of it from the inside. He was still kneeling. Tohru was silent.
Kyo stood up slowly, turning around. "Well, your screen's fixed," he told her unnecessarily.
"Thanks," Tohru said graciously, and them smiled a wobbly little smile. "It's silly, that I can't even do that. It's the bandages more than my hands. They really don't hurt, but the nurse was so insistent!" Tohru held up her hands, the tightly wound bandages bulging her hands to a large size.
"I'm sure you don't need that many bandages," Kyo agreed in his own way, tempted to grab her hands. To wrap the bandages off, because that was what she wanted and he could tell. But he didn't want to touch her; afraid he might act out of impulse and do something that was strictly forbidden between them. For now.
"I'm just glad the nurse cared so much," said Tohru lightly, but Kyo saw something was wrong in her eyes.
"What's up?" he asked casually, leaning against the wall. Trying to act normal was difficult.
Tohru blinked over at him. "Oh, I'm fine!" Tohru told him, nodding firmly. "Nothing's wrong at all."
Kyo let a quiet sigh escape his lips. He cocked his head to the side, watching her through half-closed lids. He saw her glancing at him anxiously and then looking away to the other side of the room.
"I… have… some errands…" Her protest to their quiet meeting was meek and feeble. Kyo paid it no attention.
"Why can't you just tell me what's wrong?" Silence. He lifted his head up, resting his hands against the ledge of the window. "I remember when we used to talk about all that stuff over soumen." He felt a small smile tugging at his lips, remembering the time she had gotten so anxious she had started to cry. His silly Tohru, always overanalysing. Always feeling the weight of the world on her shoulders.
A tiny smile tickled at the corners of Tohru's lips. "I remember," she softly replied. "But things were…" Silence.
"Does it matter that it was different then?" Kyo asked, reading her thoughts as usual. He stood up straighter now, although he had yet to take a step closer to Tohru. She glanced up at him. "We're still the same people," he continued stubbornly. "I don't think it matters. We should still be able to talk about what's bugging us."
He was serious about it, too. And Kyo hadn't actually said anything serious to Tohru for a while. So he was hoping she would be serious in return, spilling her secrets to him or something. But instead, she giggled. Softly, but it was still a giggle.
"I—what?" Kyo asked, perplexed. Tohru covered her grinning mouth with a smile.
"I'm not laughing at you, Kyo-kun," she reassured him with a muffled voice between giggles, "It's just that you're so serious about it!" She laughed a little, and Kyo felt his face burning red. Tohru pulled her hand away, her mouth still tilted up in a smile. "It's nice," was all she said, and Kyo didn't feel so embarrassed anymore.
"But you're right." She stayed where she was standing, fiddling with her bandages but making no difference to them. "It's just… I don't know what's wrong with me lately," she mumbled.
Kyo felt like they were dancing over dangerous territory. Did he care? Not anymore. "Why d'you think that?" Kyo asked. Tohru grimaced, thinking hard.
"It might be… um…" Her voice grew softer and softer. Kyo waited patiently. He wasn't going to be the one pushing things, even though he was so tempted. Tohru's expression looked like she was thinking very hard.
"I guess… it might be…" Her voice surprised Kyo. "I might… feel… guilty?" She wasn't looking at Kyo, but down at the floor beneath them.
Kyo felt a ripple up his spine. Guilty? That was better than he had been hoping for. But sadly, he didn't know exactly what he should say. "Oh," he decided on, which he soon realized was completely insufficient.
Tohru hung her head, and even oblivious Kyo could see the huge blush raging on her cheeks. "Hey, it's nothing to freak out about," he added, and then decided he was very bad at this comforting thing.
"Yes it is," Tohru mumbled. "And it's not even because of Yuki-kun!" she burst out suddenly, her head whipping up so she could look earnestly into Kyo's face. "It's because I told you that I didn't want a relationship, and now I'm not so sure! And it's all very confusing, and I guess that's… why…"
Kyo could feel his own face flaming up, but at that moment he honestly didn't care. "It's still not anything to get freaked out about," he said quietly, taking a step closer; he stopped, scared of going any further.
Tohru didn't even twitch. "But—But I…" She looked away now, at a loss for words.
"So what, then?" Kyo asked, his voice getting softer and softer. He took another step closer.
Tohru blinked. "I… I don't know."
Kyo did something rash. He knew he shouldn't have, but he did. He took both of her bandaged hands in his. She jumped, but looked up at him all the same. Once their eyes locked neither of them looked away. "Do you still… want to be alone?" he asked seriously. Tohru blushed even darker.
"I don't…" She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, and then opened them again. "No," she whispered delicately. Kyo felt his heart speed up.
"Okay," he replied steadily, but he heard his own voice trembling as much as he tried to still it. He took a deep breath in through his nose, looking down at her again. He could feel her trying to avoid his eyes, but her gaze flickered up to his until it stayed. "What do you want then?" he asked, so quietly he could barely hear himself. Tohru seemed to be able to hear him fine, though.
"Maybe—um…" He knew she was having troubles. "I don't…" She looked down at her hands, and then back up at him. Something was different in her eyes. "Today, you grabbed my hands outside," she informed him. Kyo felt his face grow pink.
"Yea," he replied. "And?"
"And—" She seemed to falter, "—I couldn't stop thinking about it all day. Actually, I couldn't stop thinking about you at all since… a long time," she told him, her face now flaming red. Kyo felt a smile grow on his face, and he didn't even try to hide it.
"Really?" he asked, hopefully.
Tohru could only nod; she seemed to have lost the ability to speak.
"Oh, that's—well—I haven't been able to stop thinking about…" He trailed off, completely unable to finish his sentence. But they both knew what he was going to say anyway, because both of them could feel each other looking at the floor in embarrassment. Kyo didn't know how to act in a situation like this! The last time they had impulsively kissed, it had led to disaster. And yet, there was nothing he wanted to do more than just that.
"Tohru—" he began.
They both stopped, finally having made eye contact, but now unable to rip their gazes apart. Silence settled on them; until Kyo was finally brave enough to lean his head just an inch closer, so his bangs swept across the top of Tohru's head. She stiffened, and he saw it, and he almost pulled away. But something had taken over his body, a strange feeling that burned through his veins and made his head throb. He stooped lower, catching her lips in his before she could step away.
He heard her audibly gasp, but instead clutched her hands tighter and leaned in further, his hunger for her overpowering everything else.
She pulled away only a hair's width away, murmuring something like, "in a school…"
Kyo barely heard the words, because a strange buzzing was ringing in his ears. With only a second's hesitation he slipped his hand onto the back of her neck, supporting her head as he caught her lips in his own again. Behind his thoughts of, 'Holy crap, I'm actually kissing her!' was the ever-present reminder that he couldn't get too close to Tohru, the girl he just wanted to hold tightly to his chest, to just grasp her and feel her heart thudding against his chest, and to press his face into her hair and kiss her more and more and never stop. The feeling was overpowering him, and Tohru didn't seem to be very much against it, although she wriggled uncomfortably occasionally, but Kyo was just too lost in the moment, too lost in what this was what he was supposed to be doing. Not running away from her, dodging around corners to escape her gaze.
"I want to be with you," he finally breathed into her hair, resting his lips against the top of her head. His voice was ragged, but he didn't care. He felt Tohru's shoulder lifting heavily as she breathed.
"I want… to be with you too," she murmured, and he could even tell from her wobbly voice that she was no doubted blushing insanely. Kyo felt his own face radiating heat, but just pressed his face closer into her hair, smelling and noticed her shampoo was fruity. It was nice, and natural.
They stood like this for a moment, the safe distance of inches between them, Kyo resting his face in her head. Tohru's arms hung nervously at her sides, but she slowly raised them to grasp Kyo's hands again. He let her, and he felt an overwhelming joy in him he hadn't known was possible. Was it all right for a monster to feel like this?
Kyo decided that for now, it was right. It felt perfect, and that was all that mattered.
They walked home together, hand in hand. It was the first time, and it was undeniably awkward and a little sweaty, too. But both of them were too happy, and both of them tried to fill the silence with chatter, because even though they were comfortable with each other, it was still a bit nerve-wracking after such an intense confession… and of course, an intense kiss.
At home, the air was peaceful. Both of them knew, silently, that Yuki wasn't present. Tohru wouldn't have minded, although it would have been strained. Kyo was just damn glad the Rat wasn't there, because his only goal would have been to irritate Kyo, and right now he just wanted to spend time with Tohru.
Tohru couldn't get the feeling of Kyo's kiss out of her mind. Oh sure, she talked about whatever Kyo had wanted on the walk home, but that surge of emotion and heat had yet to leave her body. She felt it shiver through her occasionally when she thought about it too much. Now all she wanted was to have that feeling back, but to kiss Kyo out of nowhere? Tohru blushed at the thought of it, wondering just how far it was possible to go if you weren't even technically dating. After all, how could they be when both of them were in such danger enough as it was?
"Tohru?" She jumped at Kyo's voice as he peeked his head around the corner of the hall. It seemed that he had left the entrance room, and he had probably given Tohru a reason, but here she was, too lost in her thoughts to even be listening!
"Hm? What?" she asked, perking up a little as she slid out of her shoes and padded along the floor in her socks.
"I was just asking you what we should do, because I just checked and Shigure's not here…" A silence drifted around them, and Tohru felt her face heating up even though she was struggling so hard to stay calm. Okay, was Kyo suggesting something? What could they even do without hugging? Well, she knew that answer plainly enough; the kiss was a vivid enough memory to serve as an adequate answer. But was he really insinuating that, or was he just innocently curious as to what they should do? Laundry? Cook? Tohru didn't know how this worked! She had heard from girls in her class that boys didn't think about much else other than kissing and making out after it happened. But Tohru realized with horror that it was she that was thinking about the kiss non-stop! Oh no, was she the really hormonal one in this relationship… thing?
All of these thoughts flew through her head in less than a second. She hesitated before replying, "Um… I—I don't know." She fiddled anxiously with her hands, which didn't hurt any more.
Kyo quirked an eyebrow at her. "All right." He turned around toward the kitchen, but Tohru reached out and grabbed his sleeve before he could take a step. Kyo glanced back at her.
"What's up?" he asked, stepping close to her. Tohru stared at his hair—that beautiful, orange hair—before coming back to her senses.
"Oh, just—um—well… will it be strange? Living in the same house now." She was serious about this, and was glad that no embarrassed blush could be felt creeping along her cheeks. Because really, would it be a serious problem? She didn't know whom she was talking about when she spoke, either. Who knew what she could become? It was a strange thought, completely alien to Tohru. But she wanted to be sure things would be okay.
"I… think so." Kyo looked rather self-conscious at Tohru's issue. "I mean, it's fine with me. After all…" He paused, and then brushed a bit of Tohru's hair behind her ear. She blinked up at him, squeezing her hands together tightly. "…It won't be so bad, right?" His smirk was a bit too feline for Tohru, but she had to giggle.
"Right." A silence followed, and Tohru realized Kyo's hand was still behind her ear, just cupping it lightly. "Um." It was all she could muster, and finally she just took a step toward Kyo and kissed him lightly on the lips before she could stop. She pulled herself away just as quickly, and then looked almost ashamed of herself.
"Er—sorry." Blushing, blushing.
"No, don't be," Kyo, argued quietly. He was smiling, and it was a smile Tohru wasn't used to. It looked peaceful… calm. She was so surprised she couldn't reply. Kyo only ruffled her hair before turning down the hall toward the kitchen again. "I'm going to go train," he told her, but not in a cold way, not in a 'get-out-of-my-face' way, which had basically been their conversations as of late. Tohru grinned to herself, clutching her hands together tightly; they were trembling under the bandages. This was a different sort of excitement. It wasn't about awkward glances between them; it wasn't about those brushes of their arms when they were in the kitchen. It was something new… something better. Because they were together now, and whatever it was they were going to embark on… it would be daunting, but Tohru knew it would be well worth it.