Disclaimer: I don't own Fruits Basket.

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"Don't reserve your best behavior for special occasions…You must be the same to all people."
- Lillian Eichler Watson

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He drummed his thumbs against his thighs to pass the time. He hoped she didn't mind. The winter air made their breath white as they sat apart, waiting. When he couldn't take it anymore, he dug his fist into his pocket, groping for something- anything- to keep him from freezing.

Yuki withdrew his fingers, slowly uncurling his hand from around a tiny collection of odds and ends: a long piece of yarn, a broken lollipop, some lint and a dead watch battery. Sighing, he shifted some so that he could plunk the lint and battery into the trash.

The mouse glanced at his companion. Saki's dark hair was coming loose; strands of it framed her face and neck. She was looking at something far away, her eyes turning the corner between Fifth and Sixth St. as she waited for the bus with the confidence of someone who has waited many times before. He sighed and scrubbed his eye-sockets with the palms of his hands.

Silence hung like linen on a line between them. He wondered whether or not she'd forgotten his pressence; she just kept staring.

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He touched her shoulder and she turned. A spring of deep-rooted awkwardness rose within him; it threatened to swallow what remained of his charm, but he refused to let it. Yuki chocked on a lump and, with fresh resolve, forced himself to make conversation.

"Miss Hanajima, would you like a lollipop?"

Her stare flickered to the shattered candy.

"I know it's broken, but it's safe to eat. (I think.) Look- it's still in the plastic."

One heartbeat.

Two heartbeats.

Three heartbeats.

The left side of her mouth twitched upwards (just a little) before she opened a gloved hand.

"Watermelon- I'd like that. Thank you."

He let it fall from his fingers to hers. With a whisper of fabric, she turned again to her vigilant watching. Yuki heard rather than saw her tuck the wrapper into her cloak. The trash can was sitting on his side of the bench.

The strand of yarn was green and weathered from traveling in his pocket, but it was not unusable. With able fingers, the mouse began to wind it into some semblance of a cat's cradle. Unfortunately, he was long out of practice with these games and, before he knew it, his fingers were locked together.

A slender hand plucked a piece of the knot. The yarn released him.

"You're doing it wrong. Here, like this."

She drew the crumpled mess to her lap and began to make sense of it, but he wasn't watching. Instead, he took a look at her. Her cheeks were a raw pink from the cold, but her eyes were steady and focused on her hands. The curve of her ear was hidden behind loose wisps of hair. The rest was pulled back in a braid, safe and secure- spun squid's ink made plum colored in the twilight.

"Do you see now?"

Startled, he looked down; sure enough, her fingers supported a perfect cat's cradle.

"Yes, I see. Thank you."

"Here. Slip your fingers in where mine are."

The wary Sohma paused before holding his hands out for the tangled green contraption; the fabric of her lace gloves brushed against his skin, a spark of something shooting up his arm and shaking him out of his reverie. Saki smiled.

"Just keep trying. You'll get it eventually."

They sat in silence for the rest of the wait. taking seperate seats on the bus when it arrived (ten minutes late). Yuki continued playing with the yarn, fiddling with it after dinner, but he found that he couldn't remember the steps the young Hanajima had shown him. Her words, however, seemed branded into his conscience. They glowed a fierce purple color against his mind's eye, even as he slipped into sleep.

Just keep trying.

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fin

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