Disclaimer: I do not own Fruits Basket.

Chapter Posted: July 28, 2006
Brief Summary: Mitsuru realizes that she's attracted to her new friend.
Warnings: none
Story Notes: Sort of filler; exciting things coming up soon

A/N: A big thank you to everyone who's read this, and to everyone who has reviewed. I really appreciate it! This chapter sucks, but I hope that someone enjoys it. I sort of wrote it in a hurry, so... Yeah. R&R!


"Thank you again, Mitsu-san," he said quietly. "I had a very good time with you."

Flustered, I flashed another smile. "Oh, um... Y-you're welcome, Ritsu-kun. I only hope we can do it again."

And with one last slow smile, he was gone.

-Chapter Six: Discord

Things went well after that. For the next two or three weeks, I talked to Ritsu regularly and we even went out to eat together twice. He was still as apt to hysterical outbursts as ever, but I had grown used to it. I even found it rather endearing. Embarrassing as hell, yes, but... Endearing all the same.

There was something about him that I couldn't quite understand, and being naturally curious– and human– I wondered what it was he was hiding. Now how it's possible for a guy like Ritsu to hide anything I'm not sure, but there was something under the surface that he obviously didn't want me to know.

I wouldn't say anything, of course; our new friendship was still too fragile for me to be prying. Later on I almost wished that I had pried– I almost wished that I had made him tell me, almost wished that I had forced the truth out of him. I couldn't know how much pain his secret would cause later on; I couldn't know that his family was cursed.

But the past is the past. And though I'd like to think I'm a good, noble person, I'm glad I didn't test it. There was always the chance that, had I known, I would have left him. And considering what happened after, that just might have killed him.

I can't pinpoint the moment our relationship changed. I hadn't realized that I thought of him as something beyond a friend, and it never, ever occurred to me that he might be humoring me with his friendship because he was attracted to me. I had dealt with men, and they weren't attracted to me. Especially not after seeing one of my "moments"– those handy little breakdowns that just about insured I'd never have a social life.

I was a little bitter about it, naturally, but I guess it just took someone even more screwed up than I was to be able to take it in stride.

And as our friendship progressed, his confidence slowly increased as well. It was gradual, but the change was definitely there and for that I was honestly proud of him. I found that he had been prone to just accept his embarrassment, never really trying to change. That, naturally, made things a little difficult for him. But something in him strengthened– and he made the conscious decision to work on those aspects of himself he didn't like and to try and change for the better. He never said it, but I think he was pretty proud of himself, too.

Most of the relationship was still silly, though. We spent a lot of time getting used to each other. After a lunch once, I took him back to my apartment for a cup of tea. He met Fuu, my long-haired, fickle-tempered cat. I think he was absolutely terrified of her, but to my surprise she took to him immediately! I had warned him that she might be mean, but the initial meeting went well and then when we sat down she jumped straight into his lap. Ritsu was so surprised he spilled his tea all over himself. He was so embarrassed, but I thought it was funny. I guess he liked making me laugh, because he only tried to apologize for it twice.

We talked on the phone a lot, as well. I think that not actually being in person helped him open up a little. I learned so much about him from just those simple conversations, though I got the feeling that he had no idea just what all he was revealing.

Looking back on it all, I suppose it was rather obvious that he had feelings for me. I, of course, was oblivious to the signs. He was always so gentlemanly– he held doors open for me and even tried to curb his compulsion to apologize to the world when we went out. And the very fact that he sought out my company spoke volumes. He'd smile at me sometimes, and his eyes would sort of glow, and I'd wonder what in the world could make him look so happy. But even all that went over my head, and I thought that a "friend" was all I could ever be to him.

I remember the first time I realized that I was honestly attracted to him– not openly, of course, but at that point I sort of had to admit it to myself.

We were going to the movies. He offered to come pick me up, and then we'd take a little stroll to the theater– the evening was quite nice, and neither of us minded the tiny bit of exercise. I was ready a few minutes before he arrived and had started watching a random game show on television. Then I heard someone at the door and with an eager smile ran to answer it.

To my immense surprise– and trust me when I say it was a good sort of surprise– he was dressed, well... normally! Not for him, but for any other young man of that time. He wore a neatly tucked, button-down shirt with dark slacks. His hair was, predictably, tied back with a large piece of ribbon, but he was Ritsu, after all, and actually it was rather, er... fetching. Sort of.

I couldn't express my surprise, however, because I was still speechless. He looked nice. No, actually– he looked pretty damn good and I did not mind getting to spend the evening with him at all.

"H-hello, Mitsu-san," he said nervously, lowering his head in a gesture of greeting rather like a bow.

I smiled. "Good evening, Ritsu-kun. Ready to go? We don't want to be late for the movie."

He nodded and, albeit shyly, returned my smile. I felt a faint fluttering that was not at all familiar around him. Unwilling to interpret that, I merely squashed the merry little voice in the back of my mind that was celebrating my little venture into attraction and grabbed my jacket from the hook by the door.

"Well let's head off," I said, walking past him into the hall, pulling my door shut behind me. So we did.

We walked at a leisurely pace, enjoying the warm night air and the pleasure of the other's company. We talked a little, too, but not about anything important; I only knew a little about him, and when we talked about me, the conversation inevitably drifted towards my utter hatred of a certain Sohma novelist. So the safest thing was usually just to stick to topics of the mundane, everyday sort. And for us, that was fine. It took Ritsu a bit to loosen up anyway, so sticking to something nonthreatening was always a smart thing to do.

Once we got to the theater, we got popcorn and drinks and headed to our seats. We were both silent as the lights dimmed, though I could tell that Ritsu was actually enjoying himself.

At the risk of sounding clichéd and soppingly romantic, I have a confession: I watched him more than the movie. He just looked so handsome– and happy, too. He was smiling slightly, eyes fixed on the big screen in front of us. Occasionally he'd reach into the big bucket of popcorn or take a sip of his water. My insides were squirming around, quite unused to being near something that adorable.

And, as could be predicted, that's when I realized it. I didn't just want to be his friend. I wanted a great deal more. With a sigh, I sank down into my seat. But what did he want? How would I ever work up the courage to ask him?

He walked me back home, and I politely bid him goodnight. I was almost amazed I had made it through the evening.

"What am I going to do?" I asked my faithful feline companion. I let out a soft groan. "There's no way I'm going to ruin this with him– he's one of the best friends I have now, and I don't want him to feel awkward around me. But..." I frowned and headed into my bedroom, not keeping up the pretense of having a conversation with my cat. "Maybe it would make him feel better about himself to know that somebody cared about him. In that way." I sighed. "I just don't know."

So, unwilling to pursue that line of thought further, I slipped on some pajamas and hopped into bed. A good sleep had always helped clear my head.

End A/N: Yeah. Well, it was short, but it was something. Hopefully things will start going somewhere soon. I hope I'm not rushing their relationship. It's hard to get a grasp on their characters-- both of them play such small parts in the storyline. Ahh well. With any luck the next update shouldn't be too far away.

And one last note: I invite everyone who's reading this (and when I say "invite", I mean I'm just short of begging) to write their own Rii/Mii story. This is like the only one! We need more! Don't be shy; I bet it'll be great! Er... yeah. I really like this pairing (for whatever reason), but it's so hard to find!