"So what did everybody think of the book I assigned last week?"

"Sohma-sensei, you're a perv!"

"Yeah, why'd you write such smut?"

I giggled from my seat in the corner. It was Shigure's last class of the day, and I was sitting in as I often did, waiting for his class to be over so that we could go home. Lately I worked as his assistant, grading some papers for him while he taught the class. Today was another review day, this time for one of his books.

"All right, get it out of your systems now so we can continue with the class. All right?" at that someone stood up, shouted "Everybody, one! Two! Three! PERVERT!!" the class all shouted the last word, and I couldn't help but start laughing as Shigure gave a bow. This class was always doing silly stuff like this that other teachers would never allow.

He smiled, and I could have sworn he glanced over at me, but I'm sure I was mistaken.

"Now, seriously. What were your opinions over writing technique, plot line, you know the drill."

A girl near the windows raised her hand. "It had a very flowing story, moving smoothly from scene to scene. You described things very well, it was easy to see them in the mind's eye. And the, ahem, love scene, was quite tastefully done."

Another girl piped in. "Yeah, and the twists to the story... wow! It's hard to imagine how you came up with some of those. How'd you come up with the immense family problems?"

"That is something you'll never know. Anybody else?" Shigure answered.

I raised my hand, when no one else did. "Maybe Sohma-sensei could ask if there were any problems in the book that left questions for the reader? I believe there was one left unanswered at the end."

His eyebrows raised as he looked at me bemusedly. "Miss Honda makes a good point. Did anybody question the ending?"

This time a guy spoke out, not bothering to raise his hand. "Yeah, I did. Why did the girl choose to leave her lover, when it would have hurt them both more than her staying? I mean, why cause yourself pain?"

"Tell me, Mr. Sakishima, did you read the book, or just the last chapter?"

"The book!" he said, in a whiny-ish voice.

"Then you wouldn't mind giving a quick summary of the whole book, now, would you?"

Mr. Sakishima jumped to his feet. He was the same guy who had gotten the class to call Shigure a pervert earlier. "It's about this girl who, uh, shags this guy, who's like her cousin, and uh... ditches him in the end." The class started snickering into their hands as Shigure smirked at him.

"Mr. Sakishima, I want an essay summary of the novel by Thursday, no less than five thousand words."

"You're kidding me!"

"No, I'm quite serious. That will give you plenty of time to read the book and get a thorough understanding of it before the final exam. Maybe for once you can get a passing grade in my class."

The class laughed again as the boy turned scarlet. "Yes, sir." he mumbled.

"As for the rest of you, I want a report of comparison on how the plot is similar and different to that of the last novel we read. Due tomorrow, at least one page in length." the class ended, and before he left, Shigure called Mr. Sakishima to his desk. When everyone had left, he spoke again.

"So what kept you from reading the book?" Shigure asked him.

"I had to work, my boss wouldn't let me off until closing, because one of the other cooks has been sick for the past week and a half. I'm sorry sir."

Shiure sighed. "I can understand work problems, but I can't let you slack off in your school work, either. You're paying too much just to attend this school, you don't want to have to take the course over. Talk to your boss, see if he'll try and let you leave at a certain time each night so that you can get your homework done, too. If he won't, maybe I could talk to him for you."

"Yes, sen-sei." he turned to leave, but Shigure stopped him again.

"Also, for that summary, don't worry about the word count. So long as you get the point across, it doesn't matter. All right?"

The boy smiled. "Thank you, sensei!" he left.

I walked over to Shigure. "You're a kind teacher, Shigure-san."

"Yeah... what's wrong with me, anyway?" he said, grinning as he turned to look at me.

"Absolutely nothing. It's a good thing to be kind."

He didn't say anything, merely gazed at me. I stared back as long as I could, before I started to feel self conscious under his watchful eyes. I turned, and headed for the door. "Shall we go?" I asked.

Nodding, he grabbed his bag. Together we walked in companionable silence to the entrance of the college, and out to his car. The drive was silent, until I realized we weren't heading home.

"Where are we going, Shigure-san?"

He didn't say anything at first, but soon he glanced over at me. "To see another of my cousins, Ayame."

"Oh! I can't wait to meet him." I told him. "Are we just visiting, or do you have some business to do with him? Oh, please don't answer if you don't want to. I was being nosy, sorry." my voice got quieter as I carried on, my head drooping in shame.

"It's kind of business, but he asked me for a favor, actually. I've told him about you, and he wanted to meet you." he was hiding something, but I didn't ask him what.

"That's very kind of him. But why would he want to meet me?" I wondered aloud.

Shigure glanced at me again. "Just a warning, his assistant Mine will probably surprise you."

"That's fine, I'm sure I'll like her," I beamed.

He gave a nervous laugh. What was wrong with him? He seemed uneasy about my meeting his cousin, I wonder why...

* * * * * Shigure's POV * * * * *

"That's fine, I'm sure I'll like her," she smiled at me. I couldn't help but laugh a little worriedly. Ayame was helping me in my little plan, but I didn't want Tohru to feel like she owed me even more, especially since I was fixing to give her a new wardrobe.

We arrived at the small shop my cousin ran, and I gave a deep breath. Here goes...

I opened the door for Tohru, and she got out of the car, smiling brightly. I cared so much for the girl... My entire personality seemed to change around her, and it felt more free to me to be like this. Tomorrow we will have lived together for a full month, and I wanted to make it special, by taking her some place fancy. Unfortunately, she didn't have the type of clothing needed for the restaurant I had reservations for.

Upon opening the shop door she squealed in delight. "It's such a cute shop!" she exclaimed, turning to me with a wide smile on her face.

"I'm sorry, but we're closed to- oh! Shigure-chan! It's you! Ayame's in the back, waiting for you two." Mine was coming towards us, her maid uniform on, as usual.

Tohru bowed. "Are you Mine-san?" she asked politely.

Mine nodded. "I am. And you must be Tohru-chan. I've heard so much about you, Ayame and I have been looking forward to meeting you for such a long time now. I'm happy to finally meet you!"

Tohru smiled. "Thank you very much, I'm sure we'll be great friends!"

"Girls, how about we go and talk to Ayame now? You'll have plenty of time to get to know each other later in the evening."

They giggled. "Sorry, Shigure-chan. Follow me, then." She led the way to the back room, chatting with Tohru along the way.

Ayame popped his head out of a room as we approached. "Ah! You're here!" he came walking out in his usual splendor, long silver hair swishing about as he walked.

"Tohru, this is Ayame. Ayame, Tohru." I introduced, sighing in relief. So far everything was going smoothly.

"I'm very pleased to meet you, Ayame-san."

"As am I, you, Tohru-kun. Now, let's get started, shall we?" he beamed.

"Huh?" she squeaked, as Mine grabbed her hands, leading her to another room.

I laughed nervously again. "Sorry, Tohru. They needed a model, and I, well, you'll see soon enough." I hated to do this to her, but Tohru would never have agreed to it otherwise.

She looked a little scared as she was whisked into the dressing room with Mine.

"Do not worry, Gure-san, she'll be fine. Mine knows what to do, and will make sure everything works perfectly on her."

"Thanks, Ayame, for all your help."

"Think nothing of it. The only thing I regret is that I am no longer number one in your life." he pretended to sob as I reached out to him. Laying my hand on his shoulder, he looked up. Smiling, we did our usual thumbs up before settling down on the couch. "So tell me Gure, what is it you have planned for tomorrow?"

I grinned. "Dinner at the fanciest restaurant in Tokyo, dancing, and..." I trailed off, theatrically.

"And what, Gure, tell me already!"

"And I'm revealing to her the family secret." Ayame stared at me in shock, joking around forgotten.

"Do you really think that wise, Shigure?"

I nodded solemnly. "She'll find out eventually, and I'd rather it was sooner rather than later."

Ayame nodded. "Before you fall completely in love with her, correct?"

"Yes."

My friend nodded. "She's really something else, isn't she? Hatori told me he was fond of the girl, too, though not in the same way of course. She drops into your life and completely changes things around, doesn't she?"

"Yeah, and I'm still deciding whether that's a good thing or not."

"Do not worry, it is a wonderful thing."

The door Tohru had disappeared behind opened, and Mine popped her head out. "Presenting, for the first time in heels, Tohru Honda!" she stepped out of the way, and Tohru appeared. My jaw dropped.

* * * * * Tohru's POV * * * * *

"Ah! You're here!" A head popped out from the room we were approaching.

"Tohru, this is Ayame. Ayame, Tohru." Shigure introduced us, sighing in relief.

"I'm very pleased to meet you, Ayame-san." I told him. He was a very beautiful man, with very long silver hair.

"As am I, you, Tohru-kun. Now, let's get started, shall we?" he beamed.

"Huh?" I squeaked, as Mine grabbed me hands, leading me to another room.

Before I could do anything, Shigure was out of sight, and I was face to face with Mine, who was grinning wickedly. The last thing I heard from him was "Sorry, Tohru. They needed a model, and I, well, you'll see soon enough." the last words were muffled by the shutting door.

"Now the men can talk, and so can we!" Mine beamed. She was walking to the back of the small room we were shut up in. Clothes were lined up all along the back wall, ranging from dresses to shirt and skirt sets. One gown stood out amongst the others, a silky evening gown that faded from black to a deep cerulean blue, with sparkling silver flowers flowing down the side. It had spaghetti straps, with a lowish neck line. (A.N. I have a dress like this, which gave me the idea. Can't really design anything so spectacular myself, so I used that for the story, though instead of silk, it's velvet. Wish I was skinny enough to wear it!)

"That gown is gorgeous..." I breathed.

Mine smiled. "It's yours."

"What? I can't accept a gift like that, it's too much!"

Mine took my hand and led me over to the wall of clothes. "Tohru-chan, Sigure asked Ayame and me to make all of these for you, as a thank you for all you've done for him. He's really grown fond of you, and wants to do something special for you. This dress is for tomorrow night, when you'll need something like this for what he has planned for you."

"But why would he do all this for me? He has no reason-"

"Yes he does. Tohru, have you not seen the way he looks at you? I've only just met you, but I've known Shigure-chan for a very long time, thanks to Ayame. He's falling for you."

I didn't know what to say. Shigure was falling for me? But... why would he? What made me so special that I stood out to him in such a way? Sure I cared for him, too, but could it be love?

Mine was watching me carefully. Finally, she spoke again. "Even if you don't love him yet, why don't you just accept everything he's done for you? It would make him happy, and Ayame and me, too."

I thought about it, and nodded, smiling. "Thank you, Mine-chan, for everything youv'e done for us."

She smiled again, before a mischievous glint passed through her eyes. "So, shall we get you dressed?"

"Eh?! Dressed? You mean I'm going to be putting the dress on now??"

"Of course! You need to know how to put it on, don't you?"

I blushed, but couldn't help agreeing with her. I'd never worn something so splendid before, and would need all the help I could get.

"All right, first off, have you ever worn heels before?" she asked me while I undressed.

"No, never." she was helping me pull the dress on now. It was so low I couldn't wear a bra with it, but it had padding in the chest to hide the fact.

"You'll need to practice walking in some before we show you to the guys, then." While I adjusted the form fitting material she fetched some shoes for me. When she returned, I gulped. The heel itself was very thin, and about three inches high.

"Here we go..." she muttered, "these are perfect for the dress. And with Shigure's height you can get away with wearing them!"

I sat down in the chair she led me to, putting the shoes on. The straps were thin and crossed over my toes and behind my heel, helping to keep the shoe on. Mine helped me to stand, and it took me a moment to adjust to the odd arch my foot was now settled in. When I thought I would be able, I took a step, steadying myself with Mine's help. For a few minutes I just walked slowly around the room before Mine let go of my hand. I took a few more steps, and announced I was ready.

Mine took her position at the door, waiting for me to cross over to her. When I was there she opened the door, popping her head out to announce it to the men. "Presenting, for the first time in heels, Tohru Honda!" I stepped around her and out the door.

As soon as Shigure came in sight, I blushed, remembering what Mine had said to me about him, but even more so by the reaction he gave me. His jaw dropped.

Slowly he stood up, and took a small step towards me. "Tohru..." he whispered. I noticed Ayame was gone, and so was Mine. We had been left alone in the room, and I had no idea what was going to happen. The look in his eyes was such that I couldn't meet his gaze, embarrassed.

"Mine said this was going to be for tomorrow night, and... and that it was all your idea. Thank you." I was still looking sideways at the ground. Shigure was standing so close to me that I couldn't see my feet, and instead merely saw his stomach, covered still by what he'd worn today. The only difference was his shirt was unbuttoned at the top, and his tie lay undone across his shoulders.

He brought his hand to my chin, tilting my face up to meet his. I didn't know what to do, so I merely forced my eyes to meet his. Soon I found I couldn't tear my eyes away from his.

"Tohru..." he whispered again. His hand cupped my cheek, thumb caressing my chin. The appendage rose just slightly, and he was stroking my lips. My breathing was becoming ragged as he did this, my mouth opening slightly while he traced his thumb over my lips. Our eyes were still glued to the others, and it seemed to me like he was getting closer to me. His other hand was resting on my hip, and my own had risen to his chest, distancing us just slightly, but it didn't matter. He breathed my name again, and his thumb moved from my lips, replaced soon enough as his mouth covered mine. He stroked my cheek lovingly as our mouths molded themselves to each other. Our eyes had shut as soon as our lips touched. My head was spinning and soon I felt something tracing my lower lip. A moment later and my tongue was dancing with his, our mouths silently eating at each others. I'd never been kissed before, yet I somehow knew what to do, and it felt so right to be kissing him like this.

When he slowly broke the kiss, we just stared again into each other's eyes. My lips felt slightly swollen, and we both breathed heavily. "Shigure..." I whispered.

"Aww... how sweet!" we turned, and there stood Mine and Ayame, both with their arms crossed and big grins proudly displayed on their faces. Immediately we separated, a blush evident on both our faces, more so on mine.

"I think the dress is successful, don't you, Ayame?" Mine asked.

"Yes, quite successful Mine. I can only wonder how our other creations shall be greeted when seen on the lovely Tohru."

"I should think quite likely in the same way as this dress, wouldn't you, Ayame?"

"One can only hope, neh, Mine?"

"Yes, one can only hope. Shall I take Tohru back to make certain it all fits, Ayame?"

"That would be best, Mine, and I shall take Shigure back to be fitted for his own clothing."

At once both plunged forward, and I was dragged back into the other room while Shigure was taken to another part of the store. The last thing I heard was Ayame shouting "Make the last that one, dear Mine!"

"Yes, sir!" she shouted.

Soon I was being dressed in all of the outfits lining the back wall. No sooner would I have one on that it would be stripped off again and replaced by another. For half an hour this went on until all of the outfits had been tried on, and Mine was at last dressing me in what they had referred to as that one.

The dress was a frilly white dress with long sleeves and skirt. It was the sort of dress a proper lady would have worn years ago, complete with gloves, flat shoes, and ribbons in my hair.

"You're so cute, Tohru, it's fun to dress you up!" Mine was saying, as she attached the final ribbon to its proper place.

I blushed. "All these clothes are so beautiful, I feel out of place wearing them."

"Don't. They fit you perfectly, and if you think the reaction Shigure gave you to the evening gown was nice, wait til you see what he does with this one!" she exclaimed, giggling happily. "How was it, anyway?"

"Oh," I sighed, "that was amazing! I've never been kissed like that before... or kissed! He invokes in me feelings I don't understand, but it felt so wonderful, I just melted into it. Was that... the right thing to do?"

Mine just stared at me for a moment before giving me a kind smile. "Of course it was, Tohru-chan. Just be yourself, and everything will turn out fine." she gave me an encouraging hug before softly pushing me out into the room where Shigure would soon be joining me. I sat and waited. When he came in, I was reminded of just how incredibly handsome the man was.

* * * * * Shigure's POV * * * * *

She was gorgeous, absolutely breath taking. All I could do was stare in wonder as the goddess looked around embarrassingly, trying very hard not to meet my gaze. I breathed her name, and each time her cheeks grew just a little more flushed.

"Mine said this was going to be for tomorrow night, and... and that it was all your idea. Thank you." I was standing so close to her now, her stare went from her feet to only seeing my stomach, which only caused her to turn an even darker shade of red before quickly averting her eyes.

Tilting her face up to meet mine and I was lost in her eyes, drinking in the beautiful orbs' light. "Tohru..." I breathed again, lips parting and staying open just slightly. I was losing control, and the softness of the skin beneath my hand insured I was certainly not getting it back soon. I was caressing her face, my thumb going from her chin to tracing her lips. My unoccupied hand had found her waist, and both of her small ones had somehow landed on my chest, keeping us from embracing. She doesn't even know yet that we couldn't embrace, had we wanted to. From her own ragged breathing I could tell she did, but was a little frightened.

My tracing of her lips stopped when they slowly parted, and soon her beautiful eyes closed as mine did as well, a new connection being made. Our mouths were perfectly molded, moving against each other with such familiarity even though we'd never kissed before, scarcely even touched the other. I couldn't help myself for wanting to deepen the kiss, to taste even more of her than I had already partaken of. She joined me, passionately, in a little war of our tongues, before I slowly ended the kiss. She would need to breathe soon, and it would be bad if she fell against me. Any closer and she would soon know my terrible secret, and the moment would be lost, as would probably she.

For the first time, she breathed my own name, and I could have kissed her again, which I almost did.

"Aww, how sweet!" a voice behind us chimed. We broke apart, quickly, both with flaming faces, no matter how unusual that was for me.

"I think the dress is successful, don't you, Ayame?" Mine asked..

"Yes, quite successful Mine. I can only wonder how our other creations shall be greeted when seen on the lovely Tohru."

"I should think quite likely in the same way as this dress, wouldn't you, Ayame?"

"One can only hope, neh, Mine?"

"Yes, one can only hope. Shall I take Tohru back to make certain it all fits, Ayame?"

"That would be best, Mine, and I shall take Shigure back to be fitted for his own clothing."

No sooner had their conversation ended than I was being dragged out by my best friend and Mine was forcing Tohru back through the dressing room door. "Make the last that one, dear Mine!" Ayame called out.

"Yes, sir!" the girl shouted to him in response. I had absolutely no idea what was going on. I'd asked for clothing for Tohru, not me!

"Ayame, what on earth are you doing?!" I half screamed at him. He'd just interrupted my moment with Tohru, for Pete's sake!

"Now, now, Gure, don't be angry. That was for your own good." he said calmly, slowing down as we reached the unknown destination. It was another back room, one I'd never been in before.

I grumbled. "How, exactly, was that for my own good?"

"You almost embraced the girl, and as such would have frightened her away! Honestly, dear cousin, use some tact!"

He released the grip he'd had on my arm and had turned to face me, all joking aside. It was a look he rarely showed to anyone, least of all me, considering all the joking we did.

"Shigure, you have got to control yourself better. One more second with Tohru and you would have kissed her again, never letting her go. Her arms would have wound themselves around your neck, and then she'd be busy kissing a dog!"

Groaning, I rested my head on his shoulder. "That's how Mine found out, isn't it?" I asked him, calmly.

"Yes, indeed. She ran away screaming as she realized her tongue was grazing a snake's fangs, but to my relief she returned the next day. I told her about the family's curse, and thanked the gods when she hugged me, holding my smaller form to her chest."

I stood up, facing away from him. "Akito... he doesn't know about that yet, does he?"

"No. Only you and Tori-san do."

"As only you and Hatori will know about Tohru. He doesn't even know she lives with me, yet."

"Dangerous life style, my friend."

I could only nod, before grinning again. "It seems the mighty canine has been tamed, doesn't he?"

Ayame smiled. "No, Gure, not yet. The mighty canine still has a ways to go before he's completely under the power of his small lover."

We did our thumbs up before he suddenly turned mischievous again.

"I do believe I have a mission to accomplish in here, now, dear friend..." he whispered evilly.

"Should I be worried?"

"Not yet. Before I'm finished with you, you shall be though."

My eyes rolled, and soon my tie and shirt was being thrown across the room. "Ayame, what the hell are you doing?!"

"You need some new suits, and a tuxedo for tomorrow night, Gure. I will not be insulted again by your wearing another designers fashions in front of me." He was busy running a tape measure across my chest and arms, no sooner laying it across some skin before it was whipped away again

I sighed. "Sorry, Ayame, but since when do you make men's suits?"

"Since last week, when you first commissioned the young lady's wardrobe. I learned how to make them and have already finished. I just needed to get your measurements for the tuxedo's jacket. It will need to be adjusted." while he spoke he was dragging out a rolling clothes rack, filled with button up shirts, slacks, and my usual yukatas. In front of them all were two dry cleaning bags, with two tuxedos visible through the clear wrapping. One was the black I was going to rent from somewhere tomorrow, the other a white.

He gave me a knowing look. "The white is not yours to keep. Mine and I just want you to match Tohru in a few moments."

"Let me guess: now is when I need to be worried."

He gave me a sadistic smile. "Very, Gure."

Ten minutes later, both Tuxedos had been fitted to my body, and I was being pushed into the same room as earlier. There sat Tohru, positively shining in a white dress covered in frills and bows. She looked like a proper lady of years long gone, and was pale except for her apparent blush upon my entrance.

Ayame, the fast worker, had me dressed in a pure white tuxedo, with matching shoes, gloves, and top hat.

"Well," I smiled, "It seems we have both been surprised tonight."

The girl went from gorgeous to positively adorable. She stood, slowly, coming towards me. Her eyes never left mine. "Pleasantly so. I still have yet to thank you, Shigure."

She rarely called me by my name without the honorific. I liked it better that way. "Have you decided just how you are going to do that?" I teased.

"Almost. I'm just deciding when to do so, now."

"Well, shall we dance while you do?"

"Gladly." I bent low in a sweeping bow, while she did a curtsy in response. Still bent low, I gazed up into her eyes, while reaching for her hand and giving the top a slow, lingering kiss. Straightening, I kept my grip on her hand and led her to the middle of the room, just a step or two away. I turned her to face me, placing her unoccupied hand on my shoulder, before placing mine on her small waist again. We stepped off, and I twirled her around the room, our feet keeping perfect rhythm with the others'.

This personality I seemed to have developed from meeting her is so unlike me, yet I like it better. Before I never would have admitted to her power over me, nor to the feelings she aroused from somewhere deep inside. Before I never would have danced with her. If anything, she'd have been mine for a night, and gone from my life the next. Why I helped her that first day, I still don't understand. but it would content me to be like this with her for the rest of my life. Ayame was right. I've fallen for her, and I've fallen hard.

* * * * *

Wow... that took me forever to get written. Sorry guys! Hope you liked it, the next chapter will hopefully begin to get this plot moving!