Disclaimer: No, I don't own the Furuba characters. To some extent, I own the character that is 'Yuki Honda', but it's a very small extent.
Author's Note: My gosh, guys! I DID NOT mean to leave you hanging there! I honestly didn't! I wanted to have the next chapter up within a few days but – well – school started getting crazy and one thing led to another and now I feel super guilty… I'm sorry!
For an instant, Yuki looked down at his sister. She glanced up at him. He noticed that his arms were wrapped loosely around her, and that she was clinging to him. Panic shot through him and then –
Everything seemed so much bigger. Why was that? He put a hand to his head, which ached, but it felt strange.
Yuki reeled back. Another puff of smoke, this one orange instead of gray, and Yuki squeaked. The same orange cat he'd seen with Kyoko was standing in front of him – only it was giant! He clamped his hands over his mouth, disgusted at the squeak, but missed somehow.
The cat reached out an orange paw and batted at him. Yuki ducked and jumped to the side. Or, well, he tried to jump. He tripped over his tail.
"Relax, Yuki, you're fine," purred the cat, sounding rather amused. His voice, however, only served to make Yuki more confused. Something warm wrapped around him and his paws (paws?!) left the ground.
"Nii-chan?" said Tohru's voice, and he was looking into her face. It was ten times bigger than it had been just a minute ago. She looked down at the cat. "K-kyo-san?"
Yuki realized that he was sitting in her cupped hands. He was also shaking rather violently.
"I think I'll sit out this time," Hatsuharu mused. He picked up the cat – was it really Kyo? – and turned back to the Honda siblings. "Kyo, I'm not sure this was a good idea. Yuki doesn't look so good… Has he had any attacks lately?"
"You stupid cow! It was your idea in the first place!" Kyo bristled. "He's fine, never had any attacks… so far as I know…" Sohma trailed off uncertainly, looking at Yuki.
Yuki clung to Tohru's thumb. "I shrunk," he mumbled to himself. "But – no – that's… I passed out, that's it… I was on my way to meet Kyo with Tohru and I passed out and this is all some bizarre dream…"
"Yo! Rat-boy!" Kyo hissed, effectively snapping Yuki out of his mutterings. "You want me to explain or not?"
"Yes, Kyo-san, please." Tohru sounded as faint as Yuki felt.
The cat took a deep breath. He looked like a balloon being blown up.
Then he let it out, deflated, and hung limply in Hatsuharu's arms. "It's the Zodiac," he said finally. "The twelve animals of the Zodiac – plus me. The Cat." He spat out the last two words in the same way that Kyoko always spat out Yuki's cooking. Yuki felt a surge of dislike that he had never, ever felt before. "There's thirteen of us, altogether. Haru is the ox. And you're the Rat," he added quietly, looking at Yuki. Yuki felt strange. He felt like he should have heard hatred in Kyo's voice. As if he had heard the hatred before. But he never had. What was going on?
"I came here to have my questions answered, but I only get more questions," he murmured to himself. Shaking his head, Yuki peered over Tohru's fingers at Kyo. "Who are the others?"
"All Sohmas," was the reply. "All members of my family."
"But…" This was confusing. "I'm not a Sohma. Kaa-chan isn't, and no one in Too-san's family, either…"
"You're – " Hatsuharu began eagerly. Yuki noticed Kyo's claws slipping out, digging into his cousin's skin. Hatsuharu stopped there.
"You're the exception. We don't know why."
"How long have you known that I'm…?"
Sohma and Hatsuharu looked at each other. "I knew you before the car crash," Hatsuharu said. "We were friends at school. But I transferred…"
"We've always known," Sohma elaborated, "And you used to… but then, well." He paused, squirming in Hatsuharu's grip. "Uh-oh. Tohru, put Yuki down and close your eyes. Don't look until I say it's alright."
"Why?" Tohru lowered Yuki to the ground and he tumbled ungracefully from her palm. She squeezed her eyes shut.
"Rats and cats don't wear clothes," Kyo answered.
Yuki coughed on the smoke that appeared. He couldn't see anything… which was probably just as well, because it meant that no one could see him. He wasn't wearing anything. As if in answer to this thought, his shirt and pants sailed through the smoke cloud and Sohma's voice instructed him to 'get dressed, don't just sit there, rat-boy! Tohru, don't look yet.'
Yuki got dressed as quickly as he could and stood up.
"That," he gasped, wide-eyed and looking quite ridiculous, "is something that I never want to do again. Ever."
Kyo, fully dressed and standing arrogantly with his fists on his hips, laughed humorlessly. "We know the feeling," he assured the trembling Yuki. Tohru bustled up, taking Yuki's hand with a concerned expression and clutching it for all she was worth. She was shaking, too, but not as badly as him.
"Baa-chan knows, too," Sohma admitted quietly. "I told her just a bit ago. She knew about me already."
Hearing Sohma refer to Kyoko as baa-chan had never failed to bring on a certain warmth in Yuki but now when he said there was nothing. He felt his heart beat quicken and he swallowed. This day was getting stranger and stranger all the time. He just wanted to go back to yesterday, when everything was relatively simple.
"Can… can we meet them? The others, I mean?" he asked squeakily, voice unsteady.
Hatsuharu and Sohma exchanged panicked glances. "Yes," Hatsuharu answered, "But not today. And not any time soon. There's… there's someone that… would love to meet you… which is not a good thing." He spoke like he was trying to tiptoe around an angry lion in hopes that it would bite him in the butt.
This only made Yuki more curious, but he acquiesced.
"My dad runs a dojo," Sohma offered. "It's more out of the way than the one you go to, but Shishou is a good teacher. And I could convince the others that they want to come to a tournament or something."
Sohma's father taught martial arts? No wonder he was so good!
"What belt are you?" he asked eagerly, having never found out before.
Sohma grinned. "I'm working toward my judan," he admitted. Yuki's eyebrows shot up. The judan black belt was the highest belt to be obtained in any form of martial arts. He himself had only just achieved his yodan, the fourth degree black belt. While he was no slouch, Sohma was the same age and six degrees ahead. How had Sohma ever lost against him?!
"And you learned everything from your father?" he asked in awe. "I'll definitely ask Kaa-chan if I can transfer, then!"
With that, the two groups happily went their separate ways. Yuki and Tohru were very quiet on the way home.
The back room in Shishou's dojo was fast becoming a favorite place for Kyo and Haru to talk.
"You've met him now. What do you think?" Kyo prompted after Haru had been silent for a long time.
"He's… different," Haru said quietly. "I knew he was going to be, but I didn't expect…"
"Yeah," said Kyo. "It was like that for me, too."
"He's so open!"
"So happy," Haru added. "Did you see how Tohru-san took his hand? They've got to be really close."
"They are. Hardly ever go anywhere without each other."
Haru smiled. "If Yuki's going to learn from Shishou now, do you want me to quietly spread the word?"
Kyo shrugged. "To some people." Momiji couldn't keep his mouth shut; it'd be all over the complex in an hour that Yuki was alive and learning martial arts at Kazuma's dojo. Hiro would probably tell someone just to spite Kyo. Kisa had stopped talking a year before. She hadn't spoken a word, let alone a secret. Rin probably wouldn't care enough to tell anyone. Kagura wouldn't tell if Kyo asked her not to…
A nod from the Ox. He knew exactly what Kyo was thinking without anymore words needed.
As tended to happen during their talks, the door was suddenly thrown open and light filled the room. They both flinched, turned, and flinched again upon realizing who was standing there.
"My, my, my, two handsome young boys alone together in a small, dark room? If this doesn't give me an idea for a new novel, hmmm…"
"Shigure!" snapped Kyo, "What are you doing here?" He got to his feet, for once not caring about the perverted Dog's perverted comments. He was just glad Shigure hadn't overheard them talking about Yuki.
"Oh, nothing," sang Sohma Shigure. "Just popped by to drop off some of my books for Kazuma-saaan!"
"I'll burn them!" Kyo roared, charging Shigure. Laughing, the latter sprinted from the house. Kyo didn't try to chase after him.
Shigure smirked to himself, slowing down to a more dignified walk and glancing over his shoulder at Kazuma's house, and more specifically the orange-haired ward glaring at him from the window. So, Yuki-chan was alive again after all these years of being missing, was he? The Dog chuckled. He would keep the information to himself. It could offer him some valuable leverage should he ever get into trouble with Akito-sama… What a delicious fact to stumble over!