A/N: This is the last chapter, thanks for reading in advance. If you're interested (or bored) enough, please read my author's note at the bottom. I'm done with wasting space here.

Edit: Corrected few spelling errors that managed to slip from me. Thanks to truest-of-true-loves for pointing those out. :)

Of Bets And Butterflies

by eishi © 2007

Chapter Six: About Butterflies and Kisses

The next few days went in a daze for Yuki. The days and his nightly dreams were pretty much the same, the only difference being that his dreams gave him a much more detailed version of Kyo. Being awake at days felt like torture, because Kyo was so close but still so far away – waking up at nights from his dreams felt worse, because he had to realise every time that he was indeed awake, that his bad dream refused to remain just as a bad dream. Reality and dreams merged in his mind, until he was completely confused about the real situation, and the only thing that kept him going was the routine.

His friends were worried about him, naturally, but no one could do a single thing for him. He actually turned down every helping hand and shut himself from the world, because he couldn't figure out what to do next. There was nothing he could do, and it felt worse than anything had ever felt in his whole life.

Kyo was still avoiding him, but occasionally broke the silence between them by commenting something so random that it made Yuki even more confused. Each and every time they were left alone – for example in the dinner table, when Honda-san went to fetch Shigure – Kyo would first look everywhere else but to him, and then say something about Honda-san's cooking or Shigure's dirty books. Yuki could never answer to these statements, because he was too busy trying to set his eyes to Kyo's nose or hair or even ears instead of his lips. Still, he found it irritating and at the same time heart-warming that Kyo tried to restore their relationship to the level it had been: being indifferent of each other and ganging up on Shigure and Ayame when needed. However, heart-warming or not, it made him irritated and sad to notice that Kyo was furiously trying to turn back time, not to go forward.

When it had been three days of The Incident (their kiss had actually earned that needlessly capitalized name at school) and Friday dawned, Yuki was pretty sure that he really needed a therapist. If it was torture seeing Kyo at school, how could he manage a whole weekend with the cat?

"Hey Prince, you alright?" Uotani-san asked him before the first lesson. Yuki had barely sat down and placed his bag on the ground, and they were already all over him. "You look tired."

"I am tired, thanks for asking," Yuki replied calmly. Smile. Smile. Keep smiling… keep smiling… They don't have to know…

Uotani-san and Hanajima-san shared a quick glance, then looked again to Yuki, who was pretending to be busy with his Math book. Hanajima-san coughed.

"Your book is upside down, Souma-san."

Yuki thanked the Lord above that he wasn't the type to blush. He turned the book quickly the right way and kept looking at it and hoped that they would understand to leave him alone. Uotani-san sighed.

"God, you are stubborn. Why won't you just admit that—"

"There is nothing to admit, Uotani-san."

"See! Seems like stubborn to me! You won't even discuss the fact that you and K—"

Yuki was barely saved by their teacher, who happened to walk in just as Uotani-san was beginning to shout. She closed her mouth faster than Yuki had ever seen, swung around and sat to her place. Hanajima-san disappeared too. For the first time, Yuki was actually glad that their horrible English lesson started: he didn't want to know what Uotani-san had attempted to say about him and… Kyo. Perhaps she was suggesting that he should beat the crap out of his poor cousin and then everything could go back to normal. That would be Uotani-san's style, really…

"Souma, the fifth question?"

Yuki returned back to reality and started to list the irregular verbs that were needed in forming the sentence.

Kyo was fed up with the situation. To be precise, he had had enough of himself and the stupid rat, who was clearly intimidated by him. He hated the fact that every time he tried to say something to the rat, the words would freeze on his tongue and something ridiculous came out – just the opposite of what he had tried to say. If he tried to be nice to the rat, the other would eye him suspiciously and then he would end up saying something even more confusing. If he tried to act normal, in other words shout and insult his cousin, the rude usual lines he used would suddenly disappear from his mind and he would end up shouting even harsher than he had intended.

The picture Shigure had given him was nowadays always with him – he had put it in his pocket and glanced at it whenever he was nervous or feeling upset. It would soothe his nerves, and yet, seconds later, turn his insides around. Stupid picture and his stupid thoughts just wouldn't let him alone.

He knew it was absolutely crazy to even think that somehow their relation would mature – they had been stuck in that childish, jealousy-filled state for too long. Even after Touru had convinced them to really look at each other and they had been able to admit that yes, they were jealous of other's abilities and that yes, they knew it was stupid, nothing had changed. People didn't just fall on each other's neck after sharing a rivalry for over twelve years. People didn't just have a change of heart in one day. People didn't just change like that, no matter how Touru had wished them to be the one and only exception. Real life just wasn't easy as that.

That thought made Kyo sad – he had been thinking for three days straight how to explain his feelings and sudden urges to his cousin ("you know, er, maybe, we could like, uh, you know, proceed from level one to level two…") but even his most detailed descriptions and explanations were nonsense that no one was able understand, not even him. His thoughts were running in circles: from happiness and determination to sadness and despair.

And being like that made him even more confused. He now realised that he had been utterly confused from the moment their lips had touched – no one had ever told him that life could sometimes offer so unexpected options that you wouldn't be able to choose.

Just when did I exactly turn into a psychoanalyst? Kyo growled in his mind. Concentrate, Souma! Concentrate! You have to learn this stupid vocabulary!

Kyo pushed his thoughts aside and looked at his English book. The chapter they were going through was, ironically, about social relations and basic human psychology. Kyo was even more convinced now that if there was a God, his only sense of humour was a sense of irony.

"Repeat after me," their teacher said, "'psychoanalysis'."

Kyo snorted, but obeyed. The classroom echoed with the word.


He must hate me.


Kyo stole a glance at his cousin, who was sitting by the window. The look on his face was blank.

"Synonyms: 'self-confidence', 'self-respect'."

He doesn't care at all.


The rat turned his head a bit, and their eyes met. There was a quick mixture of surprise, curiosity and something that Kyo couldn't apprehend before the look in Yuki's face changed to the same blankness it had been earlier. Kyo turned his gaze away.

"'Mental disorder'."

He hates me.

The terms the teacher was trying to insert into their brains turned into a mumble in his head, and the rustle of pens and papers disappeared from his mind. He stared at the one point on his desk, one painful thought hammering in his head:

Yuki hates me.


His notes, pens and scribbles flung into the air, the class went silent and their teacher let out an astonished sound. Kyo toppled his desk and ran to the window, opened it and jumped down. The class shrieked, but their cries disappeared soon from Kyo's ears. He looked around at the yard for a moment, and then, persecuted by the one sentence in his head, he ran away.

Yuki remembered Kyo's first day at Kaibara High: the cat had been so embarrassed because of the girls that kept looking at him and wondering his hair and features that had finally jumped out of the window and ran away. The only difference this time was that they were in the third floor, and Kyo could actually get hurt. Even if Kyo was possessed by the revengeful spirit of the cat, that didn't necessarily mean that he was a cat.

And being a human that had just jumped from the third floor meant that he could get hurt.

"Souma? Where do you think—"

"Student council meeting," Yuki snapped and slammed the door after him. He ran down the stairs and stopped when he reached the main entrance – why was he doing this, really? Why was he even trying to go after the cat? They would just end up fighting, as always. Nothing would ever change.

Yuki stood there for a moment, then made his decision and rushed after his cousin. He had a vague idea of where the cat might've been, but first there was something he wanted to confirm.

Souma Kazuma had been expecting a visit from a certain relative of his for a while, so when a troubled Souma Yuki appeared to his door, he didn't even try to act surprised. Yuki, on the other hand, was.

"You knew? I mean…"

"I've been wondering about when you would come here," Kazuma replied with a smile. "Come on in."

Yuki stepped to the dojo, still seemingly confused and troubled that he was here. Kazuma lead him to a room that only contained only a few pieces of furniture – a kotatsu, a couple of pillows for sitting next to it and a lonely painting on the wall. They sat down, and then there was an awkward silence for a moment. Yuki was having trouble at finding something to settle his eyes on, and finally gave up and raised his head to meet Kazuma's gaze.

"Shigure mentioned that he visited you."

"Yes, he was here a few days ago." Kazuma gave him an assuring smile, but didn't push the boy. He would say whatever was in his mind on his own time.

Yuki played with a strand of his hair nervously, then stopped it suddenly and asked:

"What did he want?"

"Shigure?" When Yuki didn't say anything, Kazuma continued: "Nothing too perverted, if that's what you're worried about. He just inquired my son's health."

"Health?" Yuki repeated, disbelief written all over his face.

"And what I knew about that incident between you two."

Yuki bent his head, probably on purpose: his forelock was now covering his eyes. There was a brief silence between them.

"Do you… do you know… of… what—what he…"

"What Kyo is thinking about that?" Kazuma said helpfully. Yuki nodded. "I can't be too sure, but obviously he is confused. He was here that day, right after that incident."

Kazuma wasn't quite sure why he was avoiding the word 'kiss'; it just seemed somehow improper to link the two of them with such a strong term. He wasn't even sure was he relieved, surprised, happy or indifferent to notice that once the relation of these two cousins had been questioned, it had been forced to change. It wasn't a thing he should poke his nose into, but after all, it involved his son and his close relative.

So when Yuki came to ask for his advice, even if in such a clumsy way, he did his best to offer such.

"Yuki, it is obvious that he cares about you. Just like you care about him too. It's always been like that – you two have just been too stubborn to admit it."

Yuki still avoided his eyes, but murmured: "He hates me."

"'Hate' is such a strong word. In my opinion, 'dislike' is better… and besides, I think that that hatred is only directed at your zodiac." Upon hearing this, Yuki looked up, even more confused look on his face. "Talk with him. After all, I can't read his thoughts. I'm just repeating what I told Shigure earlier."

Yuki opened his mouth, but said nothing, and then closed it. They sat a moment there, before Yuki got up and bowed.

"Thank you, Kazuma-dono."

Kazuma bowed politely back and watched how Yuki walked out, knees shaking. Kazuma called after him:

"Yuki?" When he saw the boy stop, he continued: "Just… whatever you choose to do, do it because you want to. Not… not because you feel forced to do so."

Yuki didn't reply.

Kyo didn't notice the approaching figure until it was too late and he couldn't get away. Yuki sat down beside him.

"I had a feeling that I'd find you here," he said silently.

Kyo couldn't say anything: he had suddenly forgotten the art of talking. They shared a long silence.

"How?" Kyo finally asked.

"Because we've been here before."

Again a silence fell over them. Kyo looked at the restless river that was forming different curly shapes of waves. Yuki was right: he had come there because it held memories of them together. It was the spot where Touru had first met Haru, and where Yuki had once had an asthma attack. Such a dull place, and yet Kyo's subconscious mind had chosen it out of all possible places to come…

"You ran away again," the rat stated flatly. Kyo snorted.

"It was a stupid lesson. Who needs those synonyms anyway?"

"You, for instance. English still is the lingua franca nowadays."

Kyo didn't point out that he had no idea what "lingua franca" meant. That was irrelevant compared to the butterflies in his stomach.

The image that was actually very concretely in his pocket appeared to his mind, and suddenly the number of butterflies seemed to have doubled. He bit back a curse just in time. Even if he had been planning this particular moment for many days now, all of his excellent plans seemed to have disappeared from his mind. His usually infinite stock of sentences to use on the rat was suddenly down to two: "hey" and "um". Even Touru's constant training to human contact had not taught him how to open a discussion with someone so confusing character as Yuki.

"I visited Kazuma-dono," his cousin said before he could murmur his planned remark about how long their silence had been. He had to admit, Yuki's opening was a lot better.

"Yeah?" Kyo answered, because he couldn't invent anything else. Yuki coughed.

"He told me that… um… That… you were very confused about that… after that… kiss."

Kyo felt his cheeks burning. "And you weren't?"

"I didn't say that."

Kyo restrained from mocking his cousin – saying that it was unbelievable to hear that even the rat could be confused at times would just ruin their attempts to talk in a mature way. He shifted uncomfortably and tried to find a good position while laying his back on the ground.

"I was confused," Kyo finally said, trying to keep his voice calm but failing miserably. "And I still am."

Yuki glanced at him, but Kyo kept his eyes on the river and the wild greenness on the opposite riverbank. The waves let out sighs of dissatisfaction as they disappeared two second after being born.

"I have been a long, long time."

They fell back to silence, and this time the butterflies in Kyo's stomach seemed to have tripled. He opened his mouth to say something, anything, but nothing came out. Yuki glanced at him again, and he quickly closed his mouth. Silence prolonged.



"You know that I don't hate you, don't you?"

Kyo closed his eyes. "I know, and vice versa, stupid rat."

He heard the grass crackle when his cousin switched position. Kyo remained eyes closed, reluctant to open them because the sun would dazzle him otherwise. A warm breath on his forehead startled him and he opened his eyes just in time to catch a glimpse of Yuki's violet eyes before they closed. For the second time in his life, the stunning scent of lavender, earth and plants in harmony caught his whole attention and he almost forgot about the weight that was on his lips.

The kiss lasted only for few seconds, so Kyo had barely time to register that he had been kissed by none else but his cousin and he had actually let him do that. When Yuki pulled away, Kyo sat up.

"Why… why did you do that?" he asked, dumbfounded. He was blushing heavily, and the familiar butterflies in his stomach had suddenly gone wild. Yuki smiled.

"Because I wanted to."

"You're too cocky for you own good, damn rat. Do you think you can always get what you want?" Kyo tried to conceal the painfully loud pounding of his heart by his own voice, but failed – his insides were still spinning and he was feeling very light-headed. Yuki gave a laugh.

"No. I know that I always get what I want." Kyo snorted loudly.

"Stupid rat."

"Damn cat," Yuki added, still smiling. They looked at each other right in the eye, unable to turn their gazes away. A second stretched to a minute in their minds, and after a moment that felt like an eternity, Kyo coughed:

"Do you—you want to… er… you know… I mean—if you want to…"

Yuki looked the other way. "Well… It might be worth a shot."

They were silent after that. Neither knew what to do; their feelings were still so insecure that saying them aloud might've destroyed that entire frail bond they were sharing. Instead of speaking, they chose the silence – this time it felt both comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time.

Kyo spotted Yuki's hand from the corner of his eye, and without hesitation took it into his own. Yuki looked at him confused, but then smiled. They watched the waves arise from the formless mass of water until the sight lost its meaning.

"You know that there will be a lot of trouble to arise?"

"I'm not stupid," Kyo snorted. "Take Kagura for instance…"

"Or Haru."

"Don't worry about him. He's got a girl nowadays."

"Huh?" Yuki blinked. "Is that why—"

"Why he stopped chasing after you, yeah."

Yuki smiled softly. "Why were you spending so much time with him, anyway?"

"Because of the bet, stupid." Kyo coughed. "He… he was training me."

Yuki stared at Kyo – then he started to laugh. "You're so stupid sometimes."

"I know," Kyo grumbled, but he was smiling as well. "What about your fan club?"

"They've already switched over to the Yaoi Club, I'm pretty sure about that," Yuki smirked. "Besides, it's not like you couldn't defend yourself…"

"You're flattering me."

"No, I mean it. Fan girls can be terrifying."

Kyo smiled. Now that they had actually started talking, the words were flowing out without having to plan every syllable and thinking how to pronounce them. It was actually much easier to talk with Yuki than he had anticipated.

"Shigure's going to shout for joy when he finds out. We've offered him a lifetime supply of gay jokes on a silver platter."

"Stop creeping me out, rat! I'm not gay!"

"Apparently, you are."

"I'm not! It's only you, and you're more feminine than most girls!"

Yuki hit Kyo on the head, but there was no force in his punch. "Quit avoiding the subject. I know very well that you've hidden a pretty good collection of gay-doujinshi behind your bookshelf."

Kyo blushed. "How'd you find out?"

"Honda-san told me. She does clean your room, after all."

Damn Touru, Kyo thought. He got distracted from blaming Touru by Yuki's laugher.

"You know that we have at least one thing in common?"

"And, pray tell, what is that?"

"We both have a copy of that Naruto doujinshi… and in both cases, it's hidden behind a bookshelf."

"You sneaky little bastard! You have that one too?"

"Of course!"

They both burst out laughing, just because of the absurdity of the situation. The laughter died slowly, and they were left again in silence, but this time it wasn't uncomfortable by any means. Kyo clutched Yuki's hand – he had a vague feeling that if he let go, the wonderful dream might disappear.

He stole a glance at his cousin, who was happily following the movements of the grass on the other side of the river. When the look on Yuki's face suddenly turned to sad, Kyo barked a rude:

"What?" Yuki shook his head.

"I… I just thought… what if Akito finds out? No—when he finds out—"

"Is that all you're worried about?"

Yuki shot a confused look at him. "Well… yeah."

"Don't you worry about Akito. He's given his blessing to us."

It was Yuki's turn to bark a hasty "what". Kyo smirked.

"Well, Hatori sort of drugged him and then Shigure manipulated him to believe that the romance between the cat and the rat had been his own planning the whole time…"

(He could imagine Akito laughing evilly right now: "They'll be so miserable in that abusive relationship! This is so much better than torturing them on their own!")

Yuki's confusion turned into laughter. "Idiot cat! Who's a sneaky bastard now?"

"What? I was just playing it safe!"

"So you asked them to—"

"Actually, Shigure offered that option himself."

"Really?" Yuki snorted. "Probably because he felt guilty about selling those pictures to the Yaoi Club…"

"What?" Kyo was now clutching Yuki's hand so tight that it hurt. "I'm going to kill him."

Yuki gave out a short laugh, and Kyo noticed that he had lost his aggression upon hearing that rare sound. They glanced at each other, but turned their eyes elsewhere when their gazes met. It still felt too weird to be able to look the other in the eye without having to snarl something rude to maintain the image. Once again, a silence fell over them.

"You want… you want to… um… stay here?" Kyo stuttered after a time that felt like an eternity. Yuki smiled sheepishly.

"Sure," he replied. After that there was no need to talk for a long, long time. They watched the waves in peace, both enjoying the chilly breeze that made the silence even more comfortable by talking in their place. Kyo stole a glance at his cousin, who had apparently just done the same, since he turned quickly his eyes back to the river. A smile fought its way again to Kyo's face. There was still much left unsaid and much left overcome, including the same old things that had hurt and made them jealous for years, but right now… right now all he wanted was to enjoy the wonderful butterflies that filled his stomach every time he saw that Yuki was looking at him, and him alone.

There were few things that Souma Shigure had pictured in his mind so many times that when they actually happened, he had hard time believing his own eyes. Watching his ever-arguing younger cousins approach the house side by side in silence, hands joined and slight blushes on their faces was something that he had been hoping to see but had never really believed in. He clasped his hands together.

"It was about time, you two love-sick fools! About time!"

"Shut up!" Kyo snapped. Yuki just shook his head.

"Kyo-kun! Yuki-kun!" Touru rushed from the kitchen to the living room when the cousins entered. Shigure hid his smirk by turning slightly away: the looks on his cousins' faces were something that he would treasure for long. Poor things must have really thought that they would be rejected by darling Touru-kun…

"I'm so happy for you! You've finally made up, haven't you?"

"I think you need to change that preposition, Touru-kun…" Shigure couldn't resist the chance. "The right verb might be 'made out'…"

"SHUT UP!" both boys exclaimed. Shigure and Touru snickered.

"Now, seriously, what happened? Touru-kun told me that you both played hooky for half the day!"

Shigure bit down the squeal that was about to escape from his lips when the boys glanced at each other. How cute could young love get?

"Sorry to disappoint you, Shigure, but nothing dirty… by your standards, anyway," Yuki smirked. Shigure let out a sigh.

"Aw! I am disappointed!"

"Pervert," Kyo grumbled. "I'll be in my room."

"You're running away – again, Kyo-kun!" Shigure pouted when Kyo rushed away. Yuki sighed, and began to take off his shoes. When Shigure had gazed at him long enough, Yuki finally gave in and shrugged.

"It's… Nothing happened, really…"

"I think the truth's exactly the opposite," Shigure smiled. Touru-kun nodded firmly, grasping her apron tightly as if to use it as a substitute for a mother's hand. Shigure had to resist the urge to offer her his own hand – Yuki would have found that highly unacceptable.

"Shigure, I'm serious. Nothing happened… I guess." The confused look in Yuki's eyes told Shigure not to push the matter; maybe the boys had yet to find out what the whole thing meant for them before spreading the word. (Well, that wouldn't keep Shigure from planning a call on Aya… and Haa-san… and Kazuma-dono… and countless of other relatives…)

"You'll find it out in your own time," Shigure winked. "I'm sure about that."

"I'm so happy for you two, Yuki-kun!" Touru cried in such a high-pitched voice that it would have made their ears ache had they not been used to it. "So happy!"

"Thank you, Honda-san," Yuki murmured. He clearly didn't know what to make of Touru's overreaction. "Er, I'll be in my room, too…"

"The dinner! I almost forgot about the dinner! Excuse me, Shigure-san, Yuki-kun!" She disappeared to the kitchen, and the usual sounds of cooking were soon filling the air. Yuki turned to the stairs, walked to them, then stopped. Shigure waited patiently.

"You… How did you… I mean—"

"We've all seen it from the start, Yuki," Shigure smiled. "From the very start."

Yuki looked at him suspiciously, then smiled suddenly. After giving a short nod he climbed up and went to his room. Shigure sighed. Three years of hard work, and they had only proceeded to the level of holding hands… This meant more work for him and dear Aya. (Well, at least he had been able to create a perverted Touru as a by-product, and that had taken less than two weeks.)

Smiling, Shigure turned on his heel and ran to his room.

"Aya! Aya! Guess what! Our genius plan to pair up the villains up has finally born fruit!" he shouted to the phone even before the snake had answered. After all, his shy younger cousins would just try to silence him in approximately three seconds or so…

Even if there had been a weekend to split the routine of school for few days, the moment the Souma cousins (or, as they were usually called, the Gay Cousins) walked in the school gates, the rumours had already reached each and every student's ears. Touru was walking in between them, they were avoiding each other's gazes and everything looked normal…

"So how did they find out?" Kyo-kun pouted during the lunch break. He, Yuki-kun and Touru were on the rooftop, which was blissfully empty of other students, and fighting to keep their voice down. For Kyo, it was extremely hard. His hand shook in rage as he continued: "Two guys missing at the same time and they are already drawing conclusions out of it!"

"Kyo-kun, don't be mad at them!" Touru tried to calm him down. Yuki-kun was still eating his miso soup, undisturbed. "Th-they are just happy for you!"

"Happy my ass! Perverts they are, each and every one of them!"

"Don't you dare play a saint, you," Yuki snorted, "when you have one of the most largest collection of Naruto yaoi-doujinshi in whole Japan…"

"Sh-shut up, rat!" Kyo-kun blushed, but there was a hint of amusement in his eyes, and Touru didn't miss that. She smiled as she watched her two friends engage in a trade of insults concerning their sexual orientations, zodiac forms and Naruto. Even if they hadn't realised it yet, the base for a romantic relationship between them had always been there. Always. Their verbal shout contests, martial arts' fights, shared glares and non-verbal insults… all those things had been done in a half-joking way, but that had always been in the shadow of the other half: jealousy. She sighed. It was a bit rich of them to call her an idiot, when it had taken her three days and them three years to realise that they didn't hate each other.

"Don't be an ass, rat! You know just as well as me that Orochimaru never lusted after Kabuto! He's always been head over heels with his stupid Sasuke-kun!"

"You're not just looking hard enough! Didn't you see that episode where he said that Kabuto had been 'such a loyal servant'? And, besides, imagine all the things he could do with his tongue…"

"You freak!"


"Stupid rat!"

Touru sighed. Perhaps it would take a little more time from them both to become terms with the fact that they no longer needed to fake hate…

"Hey, Gay Cousins!"

Kyo and Yuki, who had been trying to strangle each other, stopped abruptly when they saw the strange group approach. Touru stood up.

"Uo-chan! Hana-chan! And Momiji-kun… and Hatsuharu-san, too! Have you eaten your lunch yet?"

"Nope, that's what we're here for," Uo grinned. "And, of course, to watch the interesting show you two will put up." She nodded at Kyo-kun and Yuki-kun, who suddenly realised that they were still pretty close, gripping each other's collars.

"We're not a freak show, Yankee!" Kyo shouted and pushed Yuki away from him. Uo laughed.

"Oh, of course not. Just the hottest couple in the whole school."

"Uotani-san…" Yuki warned. Hana-chan coughed.

"Such wonderful brain waves… And no longer trapped."

"I agree," Hatsuharu-san said nonchalantly, even though he clearly had no idea what was Hana-chan's true meaning. (Although, that didn't bother Hana at all. She was just happy that someone would finally comment her observations.) He directed a look at Yuki: "Told you it would all end happily."

Yuki-kun glared at him, still unable to understand Hatsuharu-san's odd statement. Kyo-kun, on the other hand, seemed to catch to cow's meaning well, because he blushed.

"You've been watching too much romantic comedies again, Haru."

"So have you, since you remember that line."


Uo tilted her head. "Whoa, someone's been practising big words. Did you invent that all by yourself?"

"Shut up, Yankee!"

"Uotani-san, please try not to provoke him—" Yuki-kun tried to interrupt, but his sentence was cut when Momiji-kun ran forward and took Kyo-kun into a tight embrace.

"Yay! Will you two get married? Will there be a wedding? When? When?"

"Momiji, let go of him," Hatsuharu-san warned. Touru had to suppress the laughter that was about to erupt: the scene was just too comical. The jealous look on Yuki-kun's face, the sly smile on Hatsuharu-san's lips, the half-amused and half-irritated look Kyo-kun shot at Momiji-kun, who was clinging to his back and smiling and shouting happily, the small smile that was slowly occupying Hana-chan's lips, the rarely seen true smile of Uo-chan, and the prettiest blue sky in ages as a background for the whole scene…

Perhaps life wasn't perfect, and it never was easy, and it was complicated, filled with irrational obstacles and prejudices of people, and optimism was highly underrated, but sometimes, as a refreshing ray of hope, there were perfect moments between the continuity of dullness.

It was so easy to smile.

A/N: Here we are! Congratulations, you've just made it through my whole fic without any noticeable brain damage! The author does not take responsibility for any kind of side effects caused by this fic (e.g. gagging because of the yucky happiness, clichés or Touru's ever-optimistic thoughts).

... Ahem. Onto the more pressing issues.

Thanks to all of you. It made me very happy — if not confused at the same time — that so many read, reviewed, alerted and/or favourited this fic with a dead horse as a plot line and a sad attempt as humour. Now that we've reached the very ending, I'd like to ask you to take two irreplaceable minutes of your lives to use on a feedback. Just tell me if you liked my fic as a whole, and if you did/didn't, why and what parts especially. (Grammatical corrections and suggestions about idioms and such are greatly appreciated, since English isn't unfortunately my native language!) It's not that hard — I'm not expecting essays, few lines will just be fine. :)

I don't know what else to say except for thanking you. Guess I'm off to writing my next fic, then.

Hugs to all of you,
-- eishi