Well would you look at who's not dead.

I have many excuses but all of them are pretty lame. I'll just say that I hit the bitchiest writer's block I've ever had and lost my mojo for a while. But, I guess now!

Anywhore, it would appear that we have passed the 500 review mark, despite various roadblocks and misdemeanors. So, go us! And a Super Special Awesome Thanks goes out to the lucky 500th reviewer herself: PinkLikeCool! (I'm assuming, from the profile page, that you are in fact a girl. If not, my apologies.) You're prize is whatever the hell you want that's within reason (cameo, creative input, whatever). Send me a PM and we'll talk!

Disclaimer: I disclaim.

Chapter 31 – The Perils of Yuki (or, The Filler Chapter!)

Time, Yuki had found, calmed people. Tamed them. Filed down their claws and teeth, taught them not to destroy the curtains. Lowered the temperature on that simmering self-control of theirs. It was a rather pleasant notion, actually: Father Time, slowly but surely turning down the dial of Life and covering everyone in mellow yellow. It was happening to Kyo, practically right before Yuki's eyes, as well as to Yuki himself. The two of them were becoming less and less antagonistic towards each other. They were now more of a tired, resigned politeness, which felt like an improvement.

Time was doing this, Yuki noted; time and Tohru.

Sometimes he wondered if she was doing it on purpose, if she was actively trying to smooth out their rough edges. It was hard to picture Tohru as the chess master type, orchestrating an intricate Sohma-healing over the course of...what was it, two years by now? (That was time again, changing Yuki without letting him know he was getting any older.) Either way, it was almost laughable to think of sweet Tohru manipulating anyone, even to help them.

Well...maybe Kyo. But it wasn't as if it was that hard to pull one past the stupid Cat anyway.

Speaking of the stupid Cat, Tohru was spending more and more time with him lately. At home and at school, it felt like if she wasn't near him, she was clearly thinking about him. Yuki could see it just by looking at the girl: her big blue eyes were plainly clouded over with Kyo. It made Yuki a little sad, in a resigned sort of way.

It wasn't like they all didn't know she would gladly stay by his side for the rest of time. It didn't mean it didn't still hurt.

That being said, though, the actual watching them together was not altogether horrible. Sure, Yuki wasn't thrilled at the thought of the lovely Honda-san – unconscious bearer of all his vulnerability and maternal yearning – lowering herself to be with the stupid Cat, whom, to this day, Yuki had not had a single honest conversation with. (For some reason, that last bit bothered him greatly.) Sure, he wasn't planning on eating while those two were – he didn't know – making their various googly eyes at each other. But the very thought didn't make him sick to his stomach, or, say, want to break Kyo's nose at an onsen.

He figured he had more time and Tohru to thank for that.

Sick or not sick, though, murderous or otherwise...it was kind of sweet. Those two. Yuki decided to think of it ultimately as his mother with her new boyfriend – he wasn't super comfortable with the whole situation, but if the guy made her happy and treated her right, then that was okay. All the power to them.

Yuki was coming to these conclusions on a day in mid-March. The weather was just looking up recently – the last of the snow had been stubborn, but finally melted from the yard. They were nearly done with exams, just a few left for Math. Yuki wasn't worried – why should he have been? – so he sat in the dining room, next to the open side porch, and tried to catch up on some reading. He'd been going over the same sentence for about five minutes while thinking about the whole Tohru-Kyo thing. The pitter-patter footsteps were easily recognizable when they padded up in front of him, and a very welcome distraction.

"Um...Yuki-kun?" came that soft, warm voice.

Yuki put the book down and smiled genuinely; she was just what he needed right now. "Yes, Honda-san?" he asked, wishing not for the first time that he had the courage to call her by her name after two years. He'd really only done it a few times, but she felt comfortable calling him by his first name. Once or twice, when he'd found himself alone, he'd tried swishing the name around in his mouth, seeing if it fit to say. After about a minute of (admittedly creepy-sounding) muttered Tohrus, he decided it did. Just not when the girl in question was standing in front of him, clutching a Math book and wearing a smudge of confusion smeared across her face.

She bit her lip. Yuki nodded at the Math text and notebook she gripped against her chest. "Well, I was wondering...that is, if you're not busy..."

"Would you like me to study with you, Honda-san?" he said.

Tohru nodded enthusiastically, babbling, "If you're sure you're not busy! Did I interrupt your reading? I'm sorry, I'll go if you want, I can study on my own."

He chuckled and told her sit down. "Show me where you need help."

Things were nice and peaceful for a while as they worked, almost like old times. Like the first few months she had been living with them, before all the sexual tension and meddling cousins and especially Izi. It all felt like so long ago, even though he remembered that it wasn't even a year yet since Izi arrived or since Tohru...saw Kyo's true form. It was actually about a month or two away, the anniversary of Izi's arrival. That couldn't be right...that was much longer ago...wasn't it?

Yuki laughed, prompting another confused look on Tohru's face. He waved his hand, like Never mind.

As they continued their studying, Yuki started to feel the familiar feeling of foreboding. The feeling he'd become much too acquainted with over the years of Sohma life. The feeling that things were just a little too peaceful and pleasant. Something bad would have to happen, and soon.

He decided to be foolish and ignore it. Turning to answer Tohru's last question, he smiled, as if to ward off the bad feeling. "You know this part, Honda-san," he said. "We went over it in class just a few weeks ago. You just take the x, and..."

Tohru wasn't paying a lick of attention when he looked up. She had an almost dazed look on her face and she was staring at something behind Yuki. A bit bemused, he turned and nearly rolled his eyes: Kyo was standing in the doorway, not paying attention to either of them, fiddling with the cap of his water bottle.

So much for ignoring my instincts, Yuki thought dryly. Out loud, he said, "Honda-san, about this equation..."

She appeared not to hear him. Tohru's eyes stayed glued to the stupid Cat, until she managed to say, "Good morning, Kyo-kun!"

The orange-haired fool looked surprised, like he hadn't noticed either of them. Maybe he hadn't. The stupid Cat seemed to be in a different world lately.

"Hey," Kyo mumbled, nodding absently at Tohru. To Yuki, he glared in a half-baked type way, which was not that unusual these days. "You mind if I practice outside?"

"Go ahead!" she replied in a voice just slightly too loud for the space. Yuki cringed a bit, but Kyo walked through the room without another look at either of them. Tohru stared at her notebook like she wanted to bang her head against it.

"...Right, well, back to work then," Yuki said amicably, causing them both to throw on tight smiles.

"Sorry, Yuki-kun."

Things were almost normal again, at least for about ten more minutes. Tohru would glance up at the open side porch every so often, then look back at her work with a silly smile on her face. Yuki would pretend he didn't see her doing so, then say something vague about paying attention to math. They repeated this almost regularly until he heard her suck in a sharp breath. When he looked up, Yuki saw her eyes wide and focused decidedly not on math.

Kyo, the ignorant ass that he was, had removed his shirt under the warm spring sun. He still paid Tohru no mind, and seemed completely lost in whatever world he was in as he lifted his water bottle to his mouth and drank. The way the water was spilling down his chin and onto his chest looked like a fucking cologne ad. He looked utterly ridiculous.

Yuki rolled his eyes. He was ready to tell the stupid Cat to put his damn shirt back on when he glanced at Tohru again. Her wide eyes had turned wistful, almost sad, and Yuki felt ashamed to be witnessing them. He averted his eyes from Tohru's longing and Kyo's obliviousness, intent on memorizing the equations and algorithms in front of him.

When he heard the girl next to him heave a sigh, he silently slipped away from the table and fled to the kitchen. This wasn't something he could handle after all, he decided. Them being together, fine. But not this. It wasn't even an exaggeration anymore to say that everyone knew, everyone could see it, everyone was rooting for them (well, maybe not that last one). This was physically painful to witness, their dancing around the elephant in the room.

He couldn't watch them flounder like this when they were so close.

"Sick of them yet?"

After his heart just about leaped out of his chest, Yuki turned to see Izi leaning against the fridge, smiling dryly. He nearly glared a hole right through her.

"I'm really not in the mood for your meddling this morning, Izi," he managed to say in a halfway-civil voice, "so you can go ahead and save it." It took significant effort not to replace save with a stronger word.

She shrugged, pushing off the fridge and peeking through the doorway at the idiots. "He looks like a cologne ad," she mused.

Yuki refused to lift his eyes from the counter. The stubborn, childish part of him swore that he wouldn't go back into the living room for the rest of the day. He was making the final decision that he would spend the whole weekend out of the house when it hit him.

Tohru's laughter.

He was by Izi's side in an instant, peeking at the couple with a sick mixture of excitement and anxiety bubbling within him. Tohru had moved to the edge of the porch, where the Cat had ceased his exercise and was sitting next to her. Yuki watched as they talked. Tohru let out another laugh and even Kyo looked softened up.

He could feel Izi's gaze on him. "What's taking them so long?" he asked, half to the girl and half to himself. The audible crack in his voice was simply pitiful, but he just couldn't find the room to care.

Izi didn't answer, so he kept looking at the pair. Star-crossed, that was the word.

A hand settled on his shoulder, and Yuki finally turned. His cousin stared unblinkingly, not a smirk in sight. "Are you going to help?" she said. He knew she knew he understood.

It didn't take him a second to answer, "Of course."

Holy SHIT it's been like a year huh. Woooops.

Well if anyone is still paying attention to this pile of you-know-what, you're encouraged to review. It helps the brittle old authoress remember that this writing thing is going okay. Also give Yuki a bro-fist, I always forget that he's a cool dude and end up making him Spear Carrier #2.

Reviews are good for the soul.