Hey all!

This chapter is super long, clocking in at over 60 pages. This is actually the third version of this chapter I wrote. I originally was about 20 pages into another version of it, but it just wasn't working AT ALL, so I started over. Then this chapter just didn't want to end! I still feel like it's not quite "done" but am posting anyway because I felt at it was getting a bit ridiculous not to post with so much written and how long it's been since I've updated. I'm sorry if it disappoints. Please give me honest feedback, I've lost most of my betas/feedback buddies due to my glacially slow update schedule (no fault but my own) so sometimes I feel like I'm floundering a bit.


"Wow, I can hardly believe it's the same apartment!" Morikawa enthused. "It looks great!"

Tooru smiled and reviewed the changes with fresh eyes. The boys had done their best to make the apartment come together just like she'd imagined. The white walls were pristine and smooth, the floor gleamed with the harsh cleaning and polish they'd worked into the wood. The curtains had been ironed and re-hung with care and now fluttered in the breeze. They'd secured their promised furniture and it had gotten the same treatment as the rest of the room, the table and desk shone. Both were decorated with cheap linen doilies and little white bud vases, each proudly displaying a little bit of greenery Yuki had bought from the corner drug store.

Not to be outdone by him, Kyou had added his own touches, hanging a shelf on the wall for Tooru to put their dishes, teacups and teapot and another for whatever knick-knacks she wanted. Currently there was a pretty stone she'd found on their first trip to the local park, a feather Kyou found on their balcony, and a cherry tree sprig they'd found on the walk outside the complex. It rested in it's own little vase and continued to bloom against all predictions. They'd gotten a mat to hold their shoes by the door, and brought home the little refrigerator they'd put a deposit on. The table sat in the center of the room, under the ceiling lamp just as Tooru had planned.

Under the table was a thick, woven rug, a happy circular thing of green and yellow with a border of cheerful white daisies. The boys both hated it and had looked at her like she was nuts when she'd asked if they could buy it. She knew they disliked it, and knew that it was as ugly as anything could possibly be. But the carpet had been buried in the back of the clearance section with it's tag marked down no less then five times, until it was dog-eared and nearly falling off. It looked lonely and unloved and she just had to bring it home and let it serve the purpose it was made for. It was warm, sturdy, would likely outlast their apartment stay. It was also cheap, and the boys couldn't come up with a reasonable excuse not to get it so Tooru had gotten her way again.

She was being spoiled by them both, her every suggestion indulged. If only that was what she needed to make her happy. She glanced at the balcony where Yuki was currently trying to pretend he wasn't paying attention to their conversation as he filled a cheap plastic trough and a couple of pots with soil and seeds in an attempt to start a small window garden. Kyou was out looking for a job, and probably wouldn't be back for hours still. Except for when they crawled into bed each night, the boys didn't speak to each other and tried their best not to be in the same room.

"Are you ready for school tomorrow?" Morikawa asked peering at the stone on the shelf bringing Tooru back to the present.

"I think so," Tooru nodded. "Yuki-kun and I have gotten all our books and supplies. I washed and ironed our uniforms. I wish I could make a lunch to bring."

"Sometimes the ladies in the cafeteria will let you use the kitchen if you ask nice," Morikawa said. "And you get up early enough not to get in the way of the breakfast rush."

"Really?" Tooru bounced in place.

"You have to bring your own food too, of course." Morikawa smiled. "But yes, Akane does it all the time... whenever she finds a new boy to fall in love with she makes them a bento."

"Oh," Tooru frowned, wondering vaguely which Akane liked to make bentos, she still hadn't quite gotten them straight, "But since we thought we'd be buying, we don't have bento boxes."

"We could go and pick out some from Bargain Fuji," Yuki said coming in from the porch. He shook his head to get his bangs out of his eyes. "We have plenty of time before dinner, and it's a nice day out." They were becoming well-known at the bargain store. They'd been in almost every day this week for some necessity or other.

"Mmm," Tooru cast an eye outside. It was a sunny, cheerful day. The weather was starting to warm, and the spring rains were starting to become less frequent so it should stay clear the whole day through. That was why Kyou would likely stay out until dark trying hard to find a job.

"Well, I'll let you two go then," Morikawa shuffled, nervously adjusting her glasses and glancing at the door.

"Oh, you don't have to," Tooru hurried to protest.

Morikawa had been stopping by to check on them and help get them settled. But Tooru had noticed that the moment either boy spoke the girl tended to retreat. Most of the other students were still regarding them as curiosities to be observed rather then potential friends. Somehow it had gotten around the dorms that they weren't brother and sister and that instead Tooru and Yuki were betrothed. Abe had cheerfully asked for confirmation at breakfast a few mornings ago.

Yuki had figured Urishima had let it slip to someone and had probably done so on purpose. They weren't sure why everyone assumed it was Yuki and Tooru who were paired up instead of Tooru and Kyou. Yuki had been too startled by Abe's question to deny it, so it had stuck. The residents were scandalized, including Morikawa. She was fine with Tooru alone, but seemed embarrassed by Yuki. She seemed even less comfortable with Kyou. The cat had made a poor impression on the entire complex. Morikawa, like the rest, seemed to find him close to terrifying.

Unlike the others, Morikawa at least tried to be friendly. She went out of her way to sit with them at breakfast and dinner and stopped by after school for little visits. Yuki didn't know if she was doing out of genuine friendliness or as a perceived duty as the floor's RA, but he was glad she came by. Tooru lit up during her visits.

"Would you like to come with us?" Yuki asked, quirking his eyebrows hopefully.

"No, no," Morikawa held up her hands and pushed at the air as if to propel herself backwards. "I have homework that I should get started on."

Yuki was about to offer his tutoring help to get her to stay around when Tooru gave an understanding smile and let the other girl off the hook. "Of course," Tooru smiled, "we won't keep you then."

Morikawa gave a small, tight smile and turned to leave. "I'll see you at dinner!" She hurried out the door, then paused for a moment. "I'll introduce you to the head cook, and you can ask about using the kitchen tomorrow."

"Thank you!" Tooru said following her to close the door and peeking her head out. "I really appreciate everything Morikawa-san does for us."

"It's no problem," Morikawa gave an awkward half-bow as she hurried up the hall.

Tooru glanced down the hallway and saw one of the other doors quickly nudge shut and a couple of the curtains twitch. The moment any of them stepped out of the room, it felt like the entire complex was watching. She suppressed a sigh, turned to re-enter the apartment and close the door only to find Yuki was standing right next to her.

"Oh!" she said with a start. "I didn't hear Yuki-kun."

"I'm sure that once people get used to us..." Yuki smiled gently at her and smoothed a stray hair off the side of her face, "we'll all make lots of friends." He couldn't care less about finding friends. He had everything he needed in her, but friends were important to her. He leaned down and touched his forehead to hers. He knew once people got to know her their apartment would be crowded with people visiting, they just needed a little time for people to get comfortable.

Tooru's cheeks blossomed. "I...I know." She tilted her head up and he obliged with a quick kiss. She knew neither of the boys were comfortable as they had been before the mess earlier in the week, but at least when they were alone with her they were no longer shy about expressing their feelings, at least physically. She felt the door click behind her as Yuki pressed it completely closed. His arm blocked her from moving back into the room and his other hand had slid from her hair to the back of her neck where his fingers lightly caressed her skin.

His quick kiss became another, and then a longer one until she found her back flat against the door as he crowded closer. He leaned on his arm against the door, using it to keep him just far enough away so he wouldn't transform. She sighed when he let her up for air, and found her fingers tangled in the belt loops of his pants. She blinked, and looked back up just in time to receive another kiss. His hand had wandered from her neck to her hip. Her skin prickled as one finger worked it's way under her shirt and stroked at the skin on her hip.

Every moment alone with one of the boys was spent in soft touches and kisses. When Kyou was out on his run or looking for work Yuki was looking at her with needy eyes and invading her space. If Yuki went out to the store or was in his bath, Kyou would batter her scorching stares and burning kisses. When the three of them were together, silence reigned and the air turned stagnant.

Tooru knew that both boys were aware of what was happening when they were out of the room. When Kyou came back from a run he'd make a lot of noise as he entered and make a show of taking off his shoes before he'd look in the room. Yuki would rattle the bathroom door on its track before he exited and would keep his eyes down as he entered. It wasn't a secret, they just didn't talk about it... to each other, amongst each other, not at all. The situation kept their new rule of "no secrets," but just barely. It didn't make her feel any less guilty. But the guilt wasn't enough to make her want to stop.

Her mother had always been affectionate, and if Tooru hadn't been hanging off of her mother, her Mother had been hanging off of Tooru. She frequently surprising her daughter with tight hugs and ruffled hair. Uo-chan and Hana-chan had filled some of that void after her passing. Uo-chan frequently had slung an arm around Tooru's shoulders in a quick rough hug. Hana-chan used to treat her like a pet, grooming her hair and petting her. These months alone with just the boys had been nearly devoid of anything but fleeting hand-holds and occasional late night snuggling.

She hadn't realized how much she had been craving touch until she suddenly had a chance at it again. She was addicted. Any time they got in reach her skin started tingling. She wanted to brush her fingers through their hair. She loved the smooth skin on Yuki's arms and the broad, strong expanse of Kyou's back. And, when they were alone, they were anything but unresponsive. If it was this powerful for her after only a few months without any kind of casual intimacy she couldn't imagine how it was for them. Neither kept it at a "casual" level for more then a few minutes.

Yuki's hand was now on the small of her back, under the rim of her shirt. His fingers were splayed as if he wanted to touch as much of her as he could with that one hand. It felt cool to her burning hot skin.

He broke the kiss and looked down at her, and she could swear his eyes were glowing. "Maybe I should practice now," he said. His hand twitched on her skin, sliding over and pushing her shirt up just a bit more.

"Practice?" Tooru repeated, lost in the violet depths of his eyes. Yuki kept everything so close inside, she was never sure what he was thinking. But when he was like this it was like his feelings were being projected into her heart, making it beat fast. The air on sliver of skin he exposed made her shiver.

"Tooru," he whispered, practicing her name, "Tooru...Tooru...Tooru." He leaned closer and used the hand that had been braced against the door to tuck her hair out of the way. His fingers lingered, tracing the shell of her ear.

"Oh," she breathed.

"Tooru," he said again and pecked at her lips. Both his hands settled on her waist, once again nudging her shirt up so that he could feel her skin.

Her fingers were hopelessly caught in his beltloops, twisted up and clutching at his hips for support. Her legs had gone to jelly. When he dipped down again, she met him with parted lips.

She wasn't sure how much time they'd lost leaning against the door. But Yuki's hands had worked their way up from her hips to her waist, maybe just a bit further, leaving her stomach exposed. She could feel his hands moving, the air against her skin and she could feel herself trembling. She tried to hold herself still, but she couldn't and she pressed forward.

Yuki stepped back quickly, breaking the kiss. They both gasped for air and looked away from each other. Yuki turned away completely, facing back into the room.

"I...I'm sorry," Tooru whispered. Her whole body felt like it was on fire. If he hadn't moved she would have transformed him. She shuddered and rubbed her arms, feeling the heat seep out of her now that he wasn't penning her in.

Yuki scrubbed a hand through his hair, but didn't turn to her. Why was she always apologizing for such amazing things? "No, no... that was, uh..." He trailed off, they both knew there wasn't anything to say about it. "Um, we should get to the store."

"Yes," Tooru gasped. "Oh, yes, the store." She had to get out into public because she didn't know how much more time alone she could stand with Yuki. She'd shatter into pieces; a million ecstatic pieces. "I...um, need to freshen up." She had to wash her face. She didn't know if she could look at herself in the mirror. She'd promised no secrets, made them promise there would be no secrets.

"Mmm," Yuki agreed and moved further into the room without glancing at her.

She gingerly moved past him and into the bathroom, glancing back at his hunched shoulders. Guilt was thick in the room. Why did she feel like they were swimming in secrets?


"No reading. Buy it or put it back."

Kyou looked around and then at the register. He was the only one in the store so the clerk had to be talking to him. "Yeah." He muttered and walked up to the register. "Um, I'll take this." He put the employment guide on the counter and dug in his back pocket for some change to buy it. It was the third he'd gotten today, and he was sure the Rat would have something snide to say about it.

Or not, he thought wryly. The Rat hadn't said a word to him since the beginning of the week, he hadn't even given him a dirty look since that stupid fight over the curtains. He pushed that thought from his head and ignored the clerk's continuing stare as he exited the store.

He'd gone in thinking of asking if the store was hiring. He hadn't even bothered asking, the clerk had begun the stare-down the moment Kyou had entered the store. He recognized the look, he'd seen it a lot. It was the "I can tell you're trouble just by looking at you" look. Most of the Sohmas, outside the Junninshi, looked at him that way and just about everyone at Cherry Street complex. He missed Mai's restaurant and Enoki's crew. The whole town had taken Mai's lead and just treated him like regular person, and on Enoki's crew they didn't care what he looked like as long as he did his part. But that look was back and it hurt worse now and cut deeper.

He glanced at the sun and tried to figure out how much longer he should keep looking today. He had hours until dinner. He could go back to the apartment. If he stuck around long enough, the Rat would find an excuse to go out. Then he could lay on that horrible rug, the part that got warmed by the sun from the window. Tooru would laugh at him, and lay down next to him. And-

He stopped that thought in it's tracks. He sighed and decided to find a park to look through his guides. He needed to find a job. They'd be going back to school tomorrow and in just a couple of weeks they'd have to pay the first semester's tuition. They had it, and enough for a couple of months of rent maybe a bit more if they were very careful with their money. He hadn't expected the money from Mai and Enoki to go so quickly, but the bits and bobs they'd bought for the house, and continued to buy, had dug deep into their funds.

As soon as they'd stopped painting he'd gone out to try to find work. His choices were limited, not many people would hire someone so young, and without even a high school diploma he was stuck with jobs like cleaning, deliveries, or convenience store clerk. He'd tried first at some of the restaurants that had advertised dish-washing jobs, since they advertised decent pay. But, like Yuki had found when he'd tried looking for apartments, most of the jobs were taken withing a day of being published. Some of the restaurants wouldn't even let him in the door to talk to the owner, and the rest barely glanced at his reference letter from Enoki before saying no.

Today he was trying convenience stores, he figured with so many of them he was sure to find work. And as a plus, the new employment guides came out today so if he went to different neighborhoods he could get them all. He hoped with a fresh guide he'd have some hope of finding... something.

Kyou detoured down a street he hadn't been on before to get to the park, lost in a fog of worries. He glanced around and found another convenience store. "They're like mushrooms," he muttered. But this one had a help wanted sign.

He sighed and geared himself up. He looked at his reflection in the closest store window and straightened up as much as he could. Tooru had picked out his clothes, and trimmed his hair just yesterday. He was looking as good as he was going to. He took a deep breath and walked into the store.

The clerk didn't look up from the magazine he was reading when Kyou walked in. Kyou looked down at his hands, nervously clutched around the employment guides he purchased. He stuffed them in his back pocket and straightened out his shirt one last time.

"Um, excuse me," Kyou said, stepping up to the counter. "Um... your sign..."

"Yeah?" The guy finally looked up after turning another page, he was pudgy and had thick, busy black brows. Kyou tore his eyes away from them. The clerk frowned at Kyou. "What sign?"

"The help wanted sign," Kyou said, trying not to return the frown as he watched the clerk's eyes wander up and down him before raising again to settle on his hair. "Can I have an application?"

The man's frown deepened. "We aren't hiring."

Kyou glanced reflexively at the sign in the front window. "But-"

"We aren't hiring," the man repeated.

Kyou looked again at the sign, "But you have-"

"Forgot to take it down. Position's filled." The man closed his magazine, and his beetle brows tried to meet in the middle of his forehead.

"Oh," Kyou glanced at the sign again and back at the man who was still staring at him. He doubted the position was actually filled. "Um, can I get an application anyway? Just in case you get, uh, another opening?" He squared his shoulders, maybe he could come back when this clerk wasn't working. It wasn't like he didn't have the time. He might have better luck with a different employee.


"No?" Kyou repeated.

"Don't want to waste 'em," the clerk said shortly. He glanced at the door as a woman walked in. The woman shot them a quick look and nervously adjusted her purse on her shoulder, sensing the tension in the store. She glanced at the door like she was thinking of stepping right back out.

"Can I help you with something, Ma'am?" The clerk went from scowls to smiles and his beetle brows jumped to hide in his hairline.

"Juices?" She asked hopefully.

"Towards the back, Ma'am... on the left."

"Thank you," the woman nodded, giving a nervous smile before ducking down the isle.

The man kept his smile for a second longer, nodding to the woman before turning a scowl back at Kyou. "Look, we don't have any jobs. Even if we had any jobs we wouldn't have one for you. We can't have someone with hair like yours at the register. Are you going to buy anything?"

Kyou opened his mouth to protest that his hair was natural, but saw the woman who'd come in earlier out of the corner of his eye. She was lurking at the mouth of the isle like she was afraid to come out.

"No, thanks," Kyou muttered and left the store. He looked up at the sun again, it hadn't budged. The days were too long. He found the park near the complex and scaled a tree, ignoring the gasps and cheers of some kids playing in the nearby playground. He took out the guides before he settled into the yolk of a tree and pulled out a pen.

He breathed in the spring air for a few minutes, trying to release the pent up energy and anger that was flooding through him. The first few places he'd applied at, he'd gotten mad and loud. But that hadn't helped him get a job. All the lessons Shishou had given him about controlling his temper and why it was important were coming back to him, and he felt like he was just starting to understand them. Throwing his anger at every stupid clerk wasn't going to get him a job or help Tooru stay in school.

He forced the fingers that were clenched around the pen to relax. He shook his head and shoulders to relax. He looked at the guides in his hand, and frowned. He could do this. He had to!

Perhaps he should try for night jobs, they seemed to be more forgiving on appearances... or at least they didn't mention any in their ads. He took out a pen and crossed out some of the places that had a laundry list in the ads about types of clothes, tattoos and dyed hair. Even though he didn't have any of those things, they'd all have the same problem with his hair. He crossed out more that asked for 18 and over only. There were a couple for deliveries, maybe he should get to know the neighborhood better before going for those...?

He sagged against the tree and let the spring sun seep into him. He wanted to go back to the apartment. It was long past lunch time, hours before dinner, and he was hungry. Tooru had started to make some things, using a rice cooker and a little crockpot she'd bought. It wasn't much, but she would make him some riceballs or something if he went home. But the thought of the stifling air at home kept him in the tree ignoring his stomach.

He couldn't stand the quiet. Any time he moved the Rat would jump and if he spoke both Yuki and Tooru would flinch. Tooru and Yuki would exchange looks, and Kyou felt like they were always waiting for him to leave. The Rat especially got on his nerves, starting and skittering away any time he came anywhere close... like he was afraid to catch some sort of deadly disease just being in the same room. It made Kyou feel uncomfortable in his own skin and made the apartment the last place he wanted to be.

It had been marginally better when they'd been painting and hauling furniture around. Then he had something else to focus on and he could ignore how familiar this feeling was. It reminded him uncomfortably of the days after his mother had died, before Shishou had taken him off the compound. He felt like the Cat again... he'd almost forgotten what that'd felt like.

One of the kids below in the playground shrieked and Kyou glanced down at them, watching them chase each other around. It wasn't even him who'd freaked out. They were the ones making everything weird, Tooru acting angry and Yuki acting...weird about stuff. What, did they think it was his turn or something? The Rat freaked out, and Tooru freaked out... was he supposed to freak out now? Well, he wasn't. He was going to prove to both of them that he was stronger then they thought. They could moon at each other all they wanted, he wasn't going to crack.

Those few and precious stolen moments he got when he was alone with Tooru were worth it. Every time he got taste those lips, and felt her skin, all the awkwardness faded away. He'd decided that he was going to take every bit of happiness he could while he could. Those moments were even more scarce now that he had to pretend to be just bystander every time they left the apartment. Tooru was suffering enough with the rumors about her and Yuki, he didn't need to add to it by being too affectionate for a brother of a fiancée.

He loved waking up and finding her snuggled into his back and her breath on his neck. Yuki took forever to wake up and if he was lucky the Rat wouldn't be latched on for dear life. She'd tangle her feet up with his, which made his stomach twirl in such interesting ways, and tuck herself into his neck. But even if the Rat didn't let go, at least she was right there for him to torment and watch her blush. Yesterday he'd spent fifteen minutes stroking a finger up and down her collarbone (who knew collarbones could be so fascinating) and trading one long, hot kiss before the Rat had begun to stir.

Tooru had jumped out of bed as quick as lightening and cast them both scared looks before ducking into the side room. Yuki had stared at him in sleepy confusion until he'd woken up enough to realize who he was looking at. Kyou had almost laughed at the way Yuki's eyes had widened to comical proportions. In a panic the Rat had been gone as quick as Tooru, only he'd disappeared into the bathroom. It was almost funny, except it sucked being the one left behind to fold up the futon.

Kyou leaned back on the branch and stared up through the branches. The sun was struggling to fight it's way through the spring clouds. He could feel in his bones that it was going to rain tomorrow. Tooru's first day back at school would be a wet one. Did they have umbrellas? He turned his head and looked around the park.

A group of middle school kids had started up an impromptu game of soccer, and a group of senior citizens were doing some sort of group exercise off to the side. Kyou felt his throat close up, thinking of Mai's restaurant. Kazuya, the little brat he'd hardly noticed when they were there, was probably playing soccer in the park right now. Ginta would be banging his spatulas on his grill and calling for clean plates and chopped vegetables, because the dinner rush would be starting soon. Hiroki would be making bad jokes and Mai would be fussing in somebody's life.

And if they were still there, instead of here... they, the three of them, might be upstairs. Maybe Tooru and Yuki be studying. Or maybe Tooru would be working on mending, even though they were clothes they would probably never wear again. Meanwhile Yuki would be going over their finances again even though he'd memorized how much money they had down to how it broke down by bills and change.

These little fantasies, both of what had happened in the past, and what would happen in the future, always broke down there. Because Kyou didn't see a place for himself in that picture. What had he been doing when they'd done that? Doing dishes in the kitchen? Out on a job with Watanuki or Enoki? Not exactly with them. And now? Tomorrow they'd be going to school, and he'd probably stay home in the apartment if it rained.

But maybe, a secret part of Kyou whispered, if we were back at Mai's... we'd be upstairs doing katas...


"Your clothes!"

Kyou froze on the bottom of the stairs to their apartment and turned around. He frowned, "Oi! What are you carrying!"

"Kyou-kun!" Tooru repeated, "Your clothes! Your new clothes!" She jogged up to him and turned him away from her and began to brush at his back and the seat of his pants. "There's marks! Black marks! What is this? It's sticky!"

"Oi, never mind that!" Kyou said trying to look over his shoulder at Yuki. "What's the Rat carrying?"

Yuki started at being addressed. "N-nothing." He looked down at the budging Bargain Fuji bags. Tooru had gone a bit nuts over the bento supplies, but they were all plastic and light. Even he could handle them.

"Kyou-kun! Your new clothes!" Tooru repeated.

"They're fine!" Kyou said jerking his arm out of her hand. "What're you doing letting the Rat carry anything?"

"They're not fine!" Tooru said darting around to examine his back again. "Is this sap?" He felt her hands press against his back as she pulled the fabric taunt to examine it. "There is bark ground in!"

"The Rat-"

"It's nothing, just some bento boxes and light things," Yuki said darting a quick glance between them. He could feel heat rising in his cheeks producing an embarrassing blush. It was the longest conversation they'd had all week.

Kyou frowned, realizing the same.

"Was Kyou-kun climbing trees?" Tooru asked plaintively. "In his new clothes?" It felt like she was picking at something on his back.

"Oi," Kyou tried to look over his shoulder at her. "Is it that bad?"

"Kyou-kun..." Tooru sighed, she walked around inspecting him for other flaws before looking up at him with sad disappointment. "I'll have to scrub at it..." They had been his nicest clothes! Sap was so hard to get out. It might not even be possible.

"'mSorry," Kyou hung his head. Now he was wondering just how bad it was, and it explained a few snickers that had followed him out of the last few places he'd applied at.

"Let's go upstairs and start soaking it..." She took his hand and started up the stairs, mind roving through options to clean it off. Hot water might melt it, but it would set in the stains from the bark... Maybe if she froze it, the sap would peel off...? Did they have any rubbing alcohol?

"Baka Neko."

Kyou started and looked back at Yuki. The Rat didn't look at him, keeping his eyes on the packages in his hands. He could see the tips of the Rat's ears poking through his hair, and they were beet red. Yuki's head started to lift and Kyou quickly turned forward, feeling his own neck heat.

"Sorry for not being a priss like you, " Kyou muttered, and he heard the Rat stumble a bit behind him. Kyou resisted turning around and looking at him.

Tooru watched the boys from the doorway of the apartment. She'd almost missed the quiet exchange, nearly the first words either boy had spoken to each other for a week. She looked at Kyou with wide eyes as he passed her as she held the door, but he didn't look at her and neither did Yuki.


Kyou sat at the edge of the long cafeteria table. Tooru was by his elbow, with Yuki opposite her. The cat kept his focus on the plate. Morikawa was across from him, and he knew if he looked up at her she'd flinch or maybe even leave, and that would upset Tooru.

He glanced off to the side, glad they'd been able to get a seat at the edge. If they sat in the middle, it was uncomfortably clear they were being avoided by the circle of empty seats around them. They'd learned not to sit all together on one side, because that left just Morikawa on the other which seemed to make the girl short circuit.

It doesn't take much, he thought, to get her all flustered. He resisted glancing at the girl. He couldn't figure her out. She didn't seem to dislike Tooru, but she didn't seem to like being around them. He knew she didn't like him, and she seemed to have the typical crush on the Rat. The kind of crush that made girls go all gooey and stupid. Why does she bother sitting with us if she hates it so much? Maybe she just wanted to be near the Rat, even if he was "engaged."

He concentrated eating the food on his plate. If he got done quick enough he could head back to the apartment and take a bath while Tooru and Yuki finished up. They usually liked to hang out in the cafeteria trying to mix with people, and that would go better if he weren't there. Then he could pull out a futon and have it ready. As awkward as things had become, it was still his favorite part of every day...

A shiver coiled down his back and Kyou closed his eyes. Crap. The weather he'd sensed earlier was on its way a little sooner then he'd expected. He thought he'd had until morning at least, but it felt like it'd be raining before then. It wasn't going to be a bad storm, but it seemed like he felt the weather more since the typhoon.


Kyou gave his head a little shake and looked over at Tooru. Had she asked him something?

"Are you feeling well? You look pale."

He couldn't resist looking at the girl across from him as he decided how to answer that. Morikawa jumped at his glance and he sighed. He was tired of being treated like a monster by everyone around him. He didn't have the patience for tact. He almost said what he was really feeling, that he felt like crap and his bones were starting to ache.

But Tooru's big worried eyes made him curb his tongue. "It's gonna rain."

Tooru's lips made a little "o," and she gave a quick glance at Yuki and Morikawa before putting a hand on his arm. "Is is going to be...bad?"

Kyou shook his head. "No, not that bad." Her worried look lessened a little and he glanced at Morikawa to see what the other girl was making of this conversation. She looked confused, but if she had questions she was keeping them to herself. He couldn't help himself and his eyes slid over to Yuki.

The Rat wasn't looking at him, his eyes were on Tooru and he was frowning. Kyou looked down before the Rat could catch him looking and get weird about it again. He felt his frustration rise, he just knew that Yuki was blaming him for getting Tooru all worried.

"Do..." He looked up and Morikawa seemed to choke on her question, "erm... Do... do you have an injury or something?"

He just looked at her wordlessly, wondering where that had come from. She seemed to shrink under his gaze. She glanced at Yuki and Tooru before rallying and explaining. "My Gran broke her leg when she was a little girl and she could always tell when it was going to storm. She said she could feel it in her knee."

Kyou scratched the back of his head. "Something like that," he said finally.

"Kyou is very sensitive to weather, it gives him migraines," Yuki said.

"O-oh, really?" Morikawa adjusted her glasses as her cheeks flamed. "I've heard o-of that happening before. The pressure systems effect people that way. That must be hard." She glanced quickly at Kyou, then down to her hands before peeping at Yuki through her lashes as if to see if he approved.

Kyou looked at Tooru and she was beaming at the Rat like he'd saved the day again. "I'm gonna go upstairs and take a bath."

"Do-" Tooru started to stand.

"Nah, I'm fine," Kyou cut off her offer to help. He just wanted to get cleaned up and lay down. When the weather hit, he wouldn't get any real rest. Not that I have anything to do tomorrow...

"If you're sure..." Tooru said looking at his back as he left the room. He just waved a hand at her without looking back.

"Will he be okay?" Morikawa asked. "He seemed...really irritated."

Tooru bit her lip, wishing there was a window so she could see outside. It had rained only a few times after the typhoon, but it had been mild enough not to give him much problem. If he was feeling it already, was it going to storm? She shivered at the thought, she hadn't been through a real storm since the typhoon and was unnerved by how frightened she was at just the thought of it.

"He was out for most of the day looking for work," Yuki said. "I'm sure he'll be fine after he takes his bath and lays down. Don't you think so?" Yuki looked at Tooru.

Tooru blinked and nodded. "Yes," She said trying to make herself sound normal and confident. " Of course. We should let him rest."

"Are you done with dinner?" Morikawa asked. "Do you want me to introduce you to the kitchen staff?"

"Oh, yes!" Tooru looked at her plate, "Let me finish up." Kyou hadn't eaten well tonight, and if it was raining in the morning he might not come down to breakfast. If she could use the kitchen she could make something he liked for lunch. Perhaps some fried fish balls...

Yuki smiled at her and concentrated on finishing his food though he wasn't hungry any longer. The Cat hadn't looked well. He wondered how much of that was the weather and how much was due to his job hunt. He hadn't said anything about it. If he'd found work he would have, to Tooru at least. Yuki wondered if he should hope the Cat got a job or not. If he didn't he might be convinced to come back to school.

Yuki frowned, but if the Cat didn't get a job how were they going to pay their rent? Tooru and he hadn't gotten jobs yet either and their funds were dwindling. He didn't even know what kind of jobs he was qualified for... He wasn't like the Cat or Tooru, he didn't know how to do anything useful. He hadn't even thought about what he might do for a job. He still wasn't at his best physically, Kitagawa had told him to take it easy for the next couple of weeks, and he'd seen how counter-productive it was to push it.

The Cat had bought some employment guides, maybe he should ask to look through them. Just to get an idea of what was out there. Or he could ask Tooru...


Kyou's leg was cold. He grumbled to himself and shifted in the tub, bringing his leg back in. He huffed under is breath and squirmed to get comfortable again. It was just too cramped, he thrust his other leg out of the water so he could sink deeper into the tub. He longed for Shigure's house and its big tub that he'd taken for granted. Now his other leg was cold!

He sighed and heaved himself out of the tub. It was just no use. He couldn't sink in deep enough for the heat to seep into him without feeling cramped. He toweled himself off and got into his striped night shirt and pants. He walked back into the empty apartment. He glanced around with a frown. Tooru had left her bento stuff all over the table. He muttered complaints as he picked them up and put them back in their bag. He looked around and decided to leave it on top of the fridge, where it would be in plain sight but put away. He picked up the light table and leaned it against the wall so he could bring out the futon.

He got annoyed with the sound of his breathing when he was alone in the apartment. It always sounded so loud! He could hear his blood rushing and his breath huffing as he pulled out the oversized futon. He threw it down and then grabbed the bedding. He hated how loud every movement he made sounded when the others weren't there.

Not that it was any better when they were there. Then he could only wait to see how fast he could get out of their presence or how fast they escaped his.

The door rattled and he froze in the act of laying down the pillows, comforter still in his arms. Tooru looked at him and gave him a tentative smile.

"Does Kyou-kun feel better now?" She asked

"Yeah," he said glancing over her shoulder to see if Yuki was following her. Sometimes he'd stay downstairs for a few minutes, talking to Morikawa. The Rat seemed to care a lot what the RA thought of them. He was too dense to realize the RA was freaked out by his presence and he was probably just making it worse.

"Kyou-kun still looks pale." Tooru stepped closer and brushed her fingers through his bangs before resting it against his cheek. "Is it going to storm tonight? Will you be okay?"

"It's just going to rain a lot." Kyou sighed and leaned into her hand. He glanced to the open door, Yuki was hesitating on the threshold. Kyou looked back at Tooru. "You guys got umbrellas? It's probably going to still be raining in the morning when you go to school." His eyes slid shut and he nuzzled into her palm. She felt nice and cool.

Tooru looked at Yuki, brow furrowing. "I don't think we do... do we?"

"No." Yuki patted his hip. "I still have our money." He looked at his watch. "Bargain Fuji is closed but there convenience store is open. They'll have cheap ones..."

"Do you want me to go with you?" Tooru asked. She looked back up at Kyou as he lifted his head from her hand. She felt his hands settle on her waist and he shifted to put his head on the crown of her head in an almost-hug.

Kyou opened his eyes a slit and peered at the Rat, wondering if he'd take Tooru away. He really wanted just a few minutes with her. The Rat had her all day... He closed his eyes again and nuzzled into her hair.

"N-no," Yuki said, swallowing nervously. He stepped back into his shoes and put his hand on the door ready to flee Kyou being so openly affectionate. It was obvious that the Cat didn't want her to go. "It's fine, I'll only be gone a few minutes." He hurried out the door before Tooru could say anything else.

He practically ran down the stairs, feeling his cheeks burning. Kyou had been practically wrapped around Tooru! Did the Cat have no shame? He bet that the minute the door had closed they had started kissing...

His mind painted him a vivid picture of what the Cat and Tooru could be doing at this very instant. His face felt like it could ignite even in the cold air. Yuki shuddered, hating his body's reaction. It was disgusting that he got so... excited by just a glance and some dirty thoughts. He felt like he was doing a disservice to Tooru, imagining her doing things with the Cat but he couldn't stop his mind from racing.

He wondered if Kyou had gotten further then he had... Tooru had let him touch her skin, did she let the Cat do the same? Did he like the smooth skin on the small of her back... Did she like the feel of his callused hands? She made so much noise when Kyou kissed her, he could hear it from the bathroom when he was in his bath. Yuki bet she squirmed under him-

"Stop it, stop it," Yuki muttered to himself as he stopped in front of the convenience store. He was breathing as heavy as if he'd run the whole way. Had he? He wiped his forehead. He might have... he'd gotten here so quickly, his mind lost in wrong thoughts and feelings. He shuddered and wondered what was going on in his head and body. His body was running away with him and his mind was swirling around things he shouldn't be imagining.

He spread a hand over his chest, feeling it contract painfully. Breathe, breathe... he thought to himself. He hadn't had an attack for so long. He knew why it was happening now. Hatori had said it was mostly mental at this point, it happened when he was stressed and worked up. He just had to calm himself down. His mind flashed to Kyou burying his nose in Tooru's hair and he lost his breath again. Don't think about it, don't think at all.

He concentrated on counting and doing math equations in his head as he stared at the pavement and ignored the passersbys. Slowly his chest loosened and he was able to breathe freely again. He smoothed out his hair and straightened his clothes. He took a look around and found himself right outside the convenience store. There was a help wanted sign out side and he wondered if Kyou had applied here with his bark covered clothes.

Yuki walked inside and found a rack of dollar umbrellas. "Baka neko," he muttered as he picked out three. He got a pink one for Tooru and a blue for himself, that left the bright red one for Kyou. He paid for the umbrellas and stepped back out into the night.

He'd better take his time getting home. He knew what they'd be doing, and he knew that if he was careful he wouldn't have to see or hear any more of it. His mind supplied enough of a show for him, he didn't need to see it to confirm it.


Tooru opened her eyes when the door rattled and opened. Glancing over her shoulder at the sleeping Cat she gently slid forward until she was sitting up. "Yuki-kun?"

"Hon...er, yes, it's me," Yuki still slipped now and then with her name. He had a hard time calling her Tooru and was finding all sorts of inventive ways to avoid it. "I got the umbrellas."

"The bath is ready," Tooru put her fingers to her lips. "Kyou-kun is already sleeping."

"Already?" Yuki looked back over his shoulder at the darkening sky. It wasn't even raining yet. It wasn't like the Cat to lose and opportunity to have Tooru to himself. He wasn't even facing her, instead Kyou was curled up facing the window and had the comforter nearly up over his head.

"He has a fever," Tooru said. "I got him to take some medicine."

"Is it bad?" Yuki quickly closed the door and stepped inside.

Tooru shook her head, but her brow was wrinkled in concern. "Not too bad... but... do you think the medicine will help if it's because of the rain?"

"He's never gotten a fever just from weather before," Yuki said shucking off his coat. "Not even during the typhoon." At least, not that he knew of. He'd never really taken much notice of Kyou's aversion to rain before.

"Do you think he's very sick?" Tooru put her hand on the Cat's back, and gazed at the shock of hair on the pillow. She bit her lip.

"Kyou is strong," Yuki assured her. "He's just been working really hard the past couple of days. I'm sure that he'll be fine once the rain passes."

He knelt down next to her. "He's been really pushing himself since we left Mai-san's. If anything I think it's good that something is finally making him slow down."

Tooru ducked her head and let her bangs fall into her face. "We haven't been doing a very good job at watching over him." She flopped onto her side and looked up at Yuki. "He spends so much time looking after us." He was always pointing out when Yuki was working too hard or trying to do too much and stopping her when she got worked up or too enthusiastic.

"I don't think he likes being looked after," Yuki said, getting up and putting some distance between them, uncomfortable with the implication that he had somehow failed them. It was too close to the truth. He'd been much more concerned with his own feelings about everything then how Kyou was handling things. Just like at Mai's; Kyou had thrown himself into working on the apartment. No wonder he'd worked himself into a fever. He probably should of said something, but that would have meant talking to Kyou. He found himself stroking the inside of his finger again. He grimaced and shook out his hands.

"Everyone wants someone to look after them," Tooru said softly, rolling onto her stomach and watching as Yuki retreated towards the bathroom. Yuki looked back at her. She couldn't see his features, the room was dark and the light was on in the bathroom, casting him in shadow. "Everyone wants to know that someone cares," she added.

"He knows you care," Yuki said and disappeared into the bathroom before she could say anything else.

On his side, Kyou closed his eyes and continued to pretend he was asleep. He felt Tooru shift back under the blankets and roll close to his back. She laid a hand gently on his back and he felt her cheek press between his shoulder blades. She gave a soft, sad sigh and cuddled into his sweatshirt.

"We both care," Tooru whispered, clutching at his shirt, and Kyou wondered if she was telling him or trying to convince herself.


Kyou woke up when he felt a draft chasing down his back. He looked around muzzily, he must have fallen asleep before Yuki had finished his bath. He rolled on his back and pressed the heel of his hands into his eye sockets trying to clear out his mind by clearing his vision. His head felt like it was stuffed with cotton and confusion. He frowned and squinted at the window. It wasn't light out yet, or if it was the rain was keeping it from shining.

He felt a cool hand on his forehead and looked up. "Oi, what are you doing up?" Tooru was kneeling above his head, fully dressed in her new school uniform.

"Shhh," Tooru glanced to the side. "Yuki-kun is still sleeping. He didn't fall asleep until late last night." He'd kept her up with his tossing and turning.

"Like I could wake 'im," Kyou grumbled. "Get off," he brushed her hand away from his forehead.

Tooru ignored his muttering and placed her hand on his cheek. "Kyou-kun's fever is much lower today. He only feels a little warm. But you should stay in bed today."

"I was gonna," Kyou said turning on his side away from her and the lightly snoring Rat. He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. He slept better when she was next to him, he didn't like the feeling of an empty space next to him. "Why are you up already?"

"I'm going to go make some bentos," Tooru said gesturing to the shopping bag full of lunch gear. "Morikawa-san introduced me to the head cook downstairs. She said I can make them if I come in before the breakfast. Do you want me to bring you breakfast back?"

Kyou didn't feel like being stared at by the nosy kids in the cafeteria or having to stare at his plate to avoid scaring Morikawa. And he got the feeling that she and the Rat didn't like how he acted around the others. Excuse me for not liking being treated like a delinquent. "Yeah, I just want some fruit or something."

Tooru nodded. "I won't be long." She picked up the shopping bag and a pink umbrella Yuki must have bought the night before.

Kyou rolled back on his side and closed his eyes, trying to relax enough to fall back to sleep. He could hear the downpour going on outside. The rain dragged him back into sleep easily, the sound was soothing and the fatigue that came along with the curse only made it easier to let go.

He'd almost drifted off to sleep when he heard a rustling in the blankets to his side. He glanced over his shoulder with a frown. The Rat was on his side, facing Kyou with a scrunched up expression. His eyes were shut and he was obviously missing Tooru's presence. His hands had reached out into the empty space and he'd grabbed onto her pillow. He'd be wrapped around it in a minute, pulling him closer to Kyou.

"Crap," Kyou said under his breath. He couldn't deal with the Rat's sleep squirming today. He edged to the far edge of the futon, putting as much distance as possible between them. He had almost drifted off again when he felt something push into his back of his legs. "Oh, come on!"

He sat up and pushed the comforter down, looking at Tooru's space on the futon. The Rat had Tooru's pillow in a death grip, soundly asleep with his face pressed into it. "How can you even breathe, stupid?" Kyou grimaced as he watched the Rat's legs twitched and kicked forward, looking for body heat. Kyou lifted his leg out of the way. To escape he had to shift his legs off the futon and onto the cold wooden floor.

He was being forced from the futon. He frowned and scrubbed a hand through his hair. All he wanted to do was to get a little unmolested sleep. He glanced down at the far side of the futon, the portion Yuki had abandoned. He grabbed his pillow and escaped from the Rat who was starting to inch into the warm valley Kyou's body had left.

Kyou walked around the futon and slid into Yuki's place. It felt weird to sleep on the right side of the futon, he'd been sleeping on the left now for months. He squirmed in place and tried to get comfortable. Yuki's side was cool, and it gave his skin a chill. He snuggled into his pillow and tried to release his irritation. He slowly drifted into a light doze, one ear cocked for Tooru's return.

He'd drifted deep enough back into slumber that he missed the warning signs that Yuki had realized the only body warmth was now on the opposite side of the futon. He'd abandoned Tooru's pillow, and rolled on his other side. This time he lead with his arms and Kyou started awake when a hand grabbed onto the back of his sweatshirt. He looked over his shoulder and cursed. Yuki tried to tug him closer and tossed a leg forward trying to trap his lower half.

"Cold," Yuki muttered and the sweatshirt of Kyou's collar started to choke him as he persistently tried to tug the other boy closer.

"Then get another blanket!" Kyou growled and pulled himself out of the other boy's grip. Apparently he'd tried to escape in his sleep and was already as far as he could go to the right. With a growl he pushed himself all the way out of the futon, rolling onto the floor with a huff. This reminded him of a stupid song from kindergarten... something about monkeys on the bed, rolling off until only one was left. He considered just staying on the floor, he was mostly on that ugly carpet this time instead of the icy floorboards, but it was still too cold.

He got up, dragging his pillow on the ground and glaring at the boy left on the bed. Yuki was squirming closer to the edge again, seeking the warmth he knew should be there. Kyou glanced at the clock. Tooru should be back soon with breakfast and to get the Rat up for their first day of school. He should be able to reclaim his regular position and maybe catch a few more seconds of sleep before she got back.

His bones felt like they were throbbing, and the room felt freezing. He pressed a hand to his forehead, Tooru had said his fever was down... but he felt uncomfortably warm and chilled at the same time. He frowned at the Rat, it was like he was trying to torment him. Yuki was winding the blanket around himself in the absence of body heat to chase.

Kyou stomped around the futon and climbed back into his spot. Yuki had stolen all of the blankets and he resisted the urge to try and tug them back. It would only alert the greedy Rat to his presence. Laying on the futon was still better then laying on the floorboards. He curled up into a ball, trying to tuck his feet under himself and burrowing back into his pillow. If it hadn't been raining he probably wouldn't have been able to drift back to sleep, but his body was too exhausted to let minor annoyances keep it up. He shivered and wished they had bought extra blankets like they'd intended.

When Yuki attacked again, his body was too happy to finally have a little warmth to wake him. When Kyou finally woke, the Rat had already pressed himself to his back and wrapped an arm around his waist. The only reason he woke was because Yuki's elbow was digging into his spine.

Kyou gave a sobbing curse into his pillow. "Shit! Crap!" All he wanted to do was sleep. He tried to squirm forward, but found that Yuki had trapped his legs under his. The arm around his waist tightened and he felt Yuki press a cheek to his back.

"Dun move..." Yuki said nuzzling him between his shoulder blades in a Tooru-like move. "Warm."

"Get your elbow out of my back!" Kyou growled, mindful to keep his voice low because of the thin walls. Did Tooru have to deal with thatevery night? How did she sleep at all? "Off, off! Kuso Nezumi! I'm not her."

"Sorry, sorry..." Yuki muttered and rolled forward so that his elbow wasn't jabbing Kyou so hard. It had the uncomfortable side effect of pressing more of the Rat up against his back, sealing the Yuki's right side all along the length of him.

"Erg..." Kyou pressed his face deeper into his pillow. "Craaaap." He banged on hand into a pillow, ready to sob out of frustration. The Rat was going to freak out when he woke up, and this was going to be his fault somehow. He just knew it. But the warmth of the Rat's body was relaxing his aching bones and muscles. The rain was coming down in droves and he felt like his fever had returned full force. He just couldn't fight anymore. He couldn't keep his eyes open any longer.


Tooru hurried to the apartment, glad she'd carried everything down in the shopping bag. She wouldn't have been able to manage bringing everything back otherwise. Lunch had taken longer to prepare then she'd thought it would. She'd wanted more time to get Yuki up and presentable, he could take forever in the mornings. To try to make up for some of the lost time she'd gotten all of their breakfasts to go, she could eat while he dressed. She'd made him a sandwich so he could eat along the way if he had to.

She shook out her umbrella, it was pouring out now and she knew that Kyou couldn't be comfortable in this weather. She bit her lip and looked at the sky. She wanted to make sure his fever was still down, if not she could stay home from school one more day and make sure he ate when he should and stayed in bed. She left the umbrella on the walkway outside the door and stepped inside. She took off her shoes and stepped into the apartment, the heavy shopping bag dangling from an elbow.

She glanced at the bed and froze. Her arm dropped and the bag of food dropped to the floor with a smack. She glanced at it only long enough to determine that nothing had spilled before her eyes were dragged back to the futon as if by magnetic force. On the bed the blankets had been completely pushed to one side, exposing the figures on the bed to the wan and fitful morning light fighting its way through the clouds. Yuki had wrapped himself around Kyou the same way he'd often wrapped himself around her. His legs entwined over the top of Kyou's and he had one arm clutching his waist while the other hand fisted in the sweatshirt at his shoulder. If the Cat moved at all he'd probably choke.

Tooru covered her mouth with one hand, her shock starting to change into something else. She circled the futon wishing desperately for a camera. Yuki had his mouth wide open and was lightly snoring.

"Oh no," she giggled. Yuki was drooling on Kyou's back. There as a small wet spot where Yuki's cheek met his sweatshirt. The mouse looked so content, the cat on the other hand, had a scowl even in sleep. Oh, why didn't she have a camera?

Yuki murmured as her shadow fell across them, feeling something different. His face scrunched up and he turned his face into Kyou's back and squirmed, pressing himself even closer and blocking out the rest of the world.

"Oh... my," Tooru pressed a hand to her stomach. She was torn between wanting to release a belly laugh and wanting to crawl into bed with them. There was something about the mixture of Yuki's hair twining with Kyou's on the pillow that made her knees a little weak. She noted that Yuki had a death grip on Kyou's wrist, holding the Cat's arm tight against his body. Had Kyou tried to escape Yuki's sleep-snuggling? She could have told him that didn't work, it only made him cling tighter.

"Oi," Kyou cracked an eye at her, "It's not funny."

"Oh, Kyou-kun!" Tooru breathed and dropped to her knees. "Is his elbow in your back?"

"Not anymore," Kyou grumbled, cheeks burning. "Does he do that every morning?"

"Mostly." Tooru giggled. "Is your back very wet?"

"What? Why?" Kyou tried to look over his shoulder. "Oh, eww! He's drooling!" He gave a half hearted squirm, trying to put a little distance between the two of them. Yuki just tightened his grip on his arm and plastered himself even tighter.

"Don't do that!" Tooru said, and put a calming hand on Kyou's shoulder. "Sometimes he grips too tight if you try to get away."

Kyou gave her a pitiful, pleading look. "Get him off me, please." He ducked his chin down into his chest. "He's gonna freak if he wakes up like this." If Yuki couldn't handle a little brush of the finger tips, there was no way he'd would be able to handle full contact cuddling. The truth was he could have broken the Rat's grip if he wanted to startle the boy awake. It was hard to do, but not impossible.

But Kyou was tired of being treated like a filthy monster just because his fingers brushed Yuki's once or twice. How much worse would it be after this? If he could just get loose before Yuki really woke... He could pretend this embarrassing, annoying event had never happened without being treated like more of a pariah then he already was.

Tooru patted his shoulder, sensing his turmoil. She slid into bed behind Yuki. She pressed herself up to his back and slid her hand down the arm that was over Kyou's waist and had a death grip on his wrist. She smoothed her fingers over the skin of Yuki's arm and for a moment enjoyed that it was again the three of them wound together, albeit in a different configuration then usual. She reached forward and stroked Yuki's fingers where they clutched around Kyou's wrist. She kissed the back of his neck.

Yuki made a pleased noise in the back of his throat and turned slightly towards her. His grip on Kyou slackened. Kyou held his breath, afraid that Yuki was about to wake while he was still in a compromising position. Instead the boy turned towards the person who was initiating the close contact he craved. Tooru moved her hand up his arm in a slow, soft stroke before lifting her fingers to trail across his cheek. She pecked his lips. Yuki gave a happy sigh and fell to his back on the futon, releasing Kyou.

Tooru kissed him again and he turned to her to continue it. She watched as Kyou gave them long look before sliding out of the futon and heading into the bathroom. She couldn't interpret what feeling had been behind the look, relief? Longing? Hurt? She had seen a little of everything in it.

"Honda-san?" Yuki asked with a yawn. "What are you doing over there?" She was on the wrong side. How did he get in the middle? He looked around in confusion, where was Kyou? He blinked again at the room before lighting on her school uniform. "Why are you dressed?"

"We have school, did you forget? Yuki-kun is running late," Tooru whispered, pecking him quickly on the side of his mouth. "You have to get up and get dressed. I brought up breakfast and our lunches."

"What?" Yuki's eyebrows drew together and he sat up quickly and looked around the room for the clock. "Ah! It's late!"

"She just said that, Kuso Nezumi."

Yuki started and looked back over his shoulder at Kyou. He'd gotten used to Kyou ignoring him. He didn't know what to say, and Kyou wasn't even looking at him so he continued on into the side room where his uniform was waiting.

"Kyou-kun, breakfast." Tooru sat on the floor with her own takeout breakfast, a light salad and some thin omelet rolls.

"I'm not hungry," he muttered flopping back on the futon. Now that it was empty it seemed awfully big and cold. He curled up in its center and upside down, deliberately placing his feet on the Rat's pillow. He deserved it for bothering him all morning and not remembering it.

"Please eat something," Tooru crawled over to the bed with the take out box. "Just an roll? It's salty, not sweet..." She reached forward to feel his forehead. "Did your fever come back? Maybe I should stay home from school..."

"What?" Kyou sat up too fast and his head swam. "No way! It's your first day! You can't skip!"

"I'm sure they'd understand-" Tooru started.

"I said no!" Kyou said, putting a hand to his head. He wouldn't be the reason she missed school. "It's just the rain, I'll be fine!"

Tooru frowned and sat up on her knees and reached out to feel his forehead. She sat back on her ankles and looked at him doubtfully. "Well, Kyou-kun's fever is down..." She looked at the meal in her hands. "But if his appetite is gone..."

"It's fine," Kyou snatched the food out of her hands and started stuffing it into his mouth. "Eat yours! You've got to have energy for school, don't you?"

"Yes!" Tooru said and went back to her own meal. She watched Yuki as he ran from the side room to the bathroom and back again, in only his uniform pants. The bruises on his back and side had faded from the deep black and purple to an ugly brown and green.

"Do we have our schoolbags packed?" Yuki panted as he ran back into the side room after brushing his teeth. "We have to leave in just a few minutes!"

"Yes, I packed them yesterday." Tooru finished up her breakfast and then dug into the shopping bag, pulling out a baby blue cloth bag that held Yuki's lunch. "I have your lunch here, and mine." She looked at Kyou who was looking a little green after wolfing down his breakfast. "I've got Kyou-kun's lunch here." She'd found a bright orange box that just screamed it was for him.

"Yeah, okay."

"Are you ready, Honda-san?" Yuki said coming to a stop in front of her, frantically trying to button the last button on his jacket.

"Yuki-kun is slipping again," Tooru sighed as she stood up and batted his hands away from the button, so she could fix it. "You have to remember to call me by name at school." She smoothed down his shoulders and straightened him up. "Yuki-kun should tie back his hair."

"Ah!" Yuki grabbed at his hair. He still wasn't used to thinking of his hair as long. Tooru ducked into the side room and came out with one of her ribbons and their schoolbags. She dropped the bags by their feet and gave him a calming smile.

"Let me," Tooru smiled and stepped around his back and tied back his hair. She smoothed his shoulders again.

Yuki looked over his shoulder at her. "Thank you." He took a deep breath, closed his eyes and exhaled. He opened his eyes again, calmer and more collected. "Sorry."

"You guys are going to be late if you don't leave," Kyou reminded from the futon. He'd flopped back on to his pillow in the center of the futon as if he was determined to take up as much space as possible.

"Okay, we're going." Tooru handed Yuki his bag and lunch before picking up hers. She took her own calming breath. "I'm ready," she said.

Yuki nodded. He glanced at Kyou and then away, unsure of what he should say.

Tooru caught the glance and looked at the body on the futon. He was carefully not looking at them. She really wished he was coming along. "Kyou-kun will really be okay by himself?"

"I just wanna sleep," Kyou said ducking down into the covers. "Go on already! Don't blame me if you're late!"

Tooru carefully stepped over and knelt down next to him. "Sleep well, Kyou-kun. We'll be home right after school. Don't forget to eat your lunch."

He looked up at her, about to harangue her about leaving and she bent to kiss him quickly on the forehead. She whispered into his ear, "I still wish you were coming with us."

Kyou's eyes slid to the coverlet and he pulled it up to cover his burning cheeks. "Don't forget your umbrellas."

"Come," Yuki held out a hand, "Morikawa-san said she would be waiting for us. We don't want to make her late."

Tooru nodded, stood and walked over to Yuki. She took his hand and followed him to the door. She glanced back only once at Kyou. Hidden under his blankets, the boy didn't look up until after he heard the door shut.


Tooru nervously shifted as she waited outside the classroom. As expected, she and Yuki were in different classes. This school separated out students based on their entrance exam scores, with higher ranking students in classes A, second rank students in B and so on down to D. Yuki had of course made it into the A class. Tooru had surprised herself into making it in to B class. She'd thought she'd rank in D, or when she was more hopeful, in C. She credited Yuki's dedicated coaching to her windfall.

Still, even though it was expected, it was sad to think she'd spend the bulk of the day without seeing either of them. I can't be pleased, she thought to herself. At home I can't wait to get some distance... now I just want to cling to them.

"Sato-kun?" The teacher called and waved her in. According to the slip the office gave her, his name was Nagashima.

Tooru lifted her chin and squared her shoulders. It was time to grow up and start facing the world again. This was just the start. How would she ever face the rest of the Soumas if she couldn't face a class of high school students? She walked into the classroom and turned to the class. She looked at the teacher, a man who was just getting past the age where someone could call him "young." He smiled at her, and the crinkles around his eyes indicated he did that a lot.

"Sato-kun took a leave of absence from school following her mother's death and has just moved to our community." Nagashima explained, not with out some sympathy. His voice was matter-of-fact, but he gave an encouraging nod to Tooru. "So she will need all of your help adjusting, please be kind to her. Sato-kun, why don't you introduce yourself?"

Tooru gave the teacher a little nod, and quickly scanned the class. She relaxed a little when she spotted Morikawa, Abe and one of the girls from the dorms sitting in the classroom. At least it wasn't a group of complete strangers, even if she couldn't honestly call any of them friends.

"I'm Sato Tooru," she said with a little bow. "Pleased to meet everyone. It was my mother's last wish that I complete high school, so I'm very excited to be back. I will work very hard to to keep my grades up." She looked up at her new homeroom teacher, expecting to be directed to a desk.

The teacher nodded approvingly at her, rocking back and forth on his feet with his hands in his pockets. "Why don't you tell them some of your interests?"

"Interests?" Tooru repeated. She hadn't expected it to go any further then a basic introduction.

"Most of our students have been together since preschool," The teacher said genially, jingling some change in his pocket. "Give them a chance to get to know you."

"Oh, well... that is... I like cooking, and, um, gardening..." she paused, "oh, and um... martial arts." She smiled brightly to hide her nervousness. Couldn't she just sit down now? Everyone was looking at her.

"Martial arts?" The teacher gave her a skeptical look, cocking an eyebrow before shaking his head. "Does anyone have any questions for Sato-kun?"

"Oh! Oh! Me! Me!" Abe said thrusting his hand up into the air and waving it about.

"Tanaka-kun," The teacher said wearily, knowing he probably wasn't going to like what came out of the boy's mouth.

"Isn't it true that you have a fiancée? And that you live with him?" Abe asked. The whole class hooted and hollered. Morikawa covered eyes with her hand, shaking her head.

"You just love causing trouble," Morikawa hissed, glaring at the boy.

Abe just gave her a monkey-like grin. "Like they wouldn't have found out."

"Yes," Tooru said to the noisy class, and the class hushed. Her cheeks burned bright red. She'd hoped that she'd have a chance to get to know people before that bit of information came to light. The whole class gaped at her.


"She lives with her fiancée?"

"Really? O-M-G!"

Abe sat back in his chair, obviously pleased with the chaos he'd sowed.

"I do have a fiancée, we live in the dorms-" Tooru started to answer but the teacher held up his hand.

"Alone-" Abe added, rolling his eyes dramatically at the class.

"That's enough Tanaka-kun! Sit down!" He gave a stern glare at the students. They quieted down quickly. "Perhaps you all missed the portion where I explained that Sato-kun's mother had passed away earlier this year, if you find her living arrangements strange you might consider what prompted them." The class hushed and looked guiltily at each other. Tooru looked down at her clasped hands, and the winking butterfly charm there. Her mother would be so ashamed that she was hiding behind her death. "Sato-kun, you can go sit behind Morikawa. Morikawa-kun, raise your hand."

Not waiting for Morikawa, Tooru hustled down the isle to her seat. Morikawa gave her a concerned glance as she passed, but Tooru ignored it as hung her book bag on the side of the desk and pulled out her notebook. She looked at the teacher and tried to look studious. She could hear the other students whispering about her. It was only normal to be curious, she reminded herself and she tried not let it bother her. It's just like Mai's restaurant, she thought. It'll die down once everyone had satisfied their curiosity. She just wished Yuki or Kyou were with her.

"Settle down. Settle down," the teacher said. "The lesson begins now."

Tooru felt her heart start to beat faster and couldn't help a small smile from escaping. Mother, it's really happening! I'm back in school! I'll be able to keep my promise!


Yuki escaped his classroom at the earliest convenience. The moment lunch was announced he'd grabbed his bento and went in search of Tooru's classroom. He held his lunch in front of his chest, carefully maneuvering around the knots of students and ignoring their whispers.

He was beginning to regret coming back to school. His teacher had gone on and on about his entrance exam and how the other students should take warning now that they had greater competition. He expected to see changes in the ranking and if they didn't want to see themselves fall they should work harder. It felt like the teacher had painted a giant target on his back. Not surprisingly, the guy with eyeglasses who'd been so upset at the thought of them working (and breaking the rules!) was in his class. His was the only familiar face. Unlike Tooru, school had never been a sanctuary or a place where he was surrounded by friends, but he felt like he was treading on dangerous ground now.

I should have gotten some answers wrong on my entrance exam. Then I could have been in Tooru's class, he thought.

He found Tooru's classroom, and was about to enter when it opened. He quickly stepped back to avoid the boy exiting running into him.

Abe's monkey-face split into a wide grin. He looked over his shoulder, "Too-ru-san," He sing-songed. "You have a vis-it-or!"

"I do?" Tooru stood up at her desk. She'd just pulled out her lunch.

"Oh!" One of the girls in the class said in an excited whisper. "It's class A's transfer! Didn't I tell you he was too cute?"

"A total prince!"

Tooru felt her smile widen at the overheard compliments. "Yuki-kun!"

Yuki gave her a smile. "I thought we could eat together," he said raising his lunch. He looked at the girls clustered around their desks, all agog at the cute boy.

"Yes!" Tooru said eagerly, looking around for an abandoned chair for him.

"Man, you guys must be so in loooove," Abe said, eyes twinkling with mischief. He jabbed Yuki with an elbow. "Gotta eat every meal with your cute bride."

Yuki gave the boy a flat look.

"This is your fiancée?" One of the girls in class gasped. "The one you live with?"

Tooru blushed prettily. "I don't just live with Yuki-kun alone. We live with his...um...brother, Kyou-kun." She saw Morikawa starting to leave the room. "Ah, Morikawa-san! Shall we eat lunch together?"

"What? Oh, ano..." Morikawa didn't look at her and clutched at her bento. "Um, thank you...but I usually eat in the art room and work during lunch."

"Oh," Tooru had hoped she could foster a friendship with the RA, but she felt like she was constantly being rebuffed.

"Don't worry about it." Tooru looked up to see the of the girl from their dorm smiling at her. One of the Akanes she thought... she wondered if she was the one who liked to make bentos. "Morikawa always eats in the alone. Come eat with us!" She gestured to herself and a small group of girls clustered around some desks.

Tooru looked at Yuki and he nodded encouragingly. "Thank you," Tooru said trying to give a bright smile. She dragged her chair over and Yuki took Morikawa's vacated seat.

"Don't mind if I do!" Abe said, and started to drag his desk over.

"We didn't invite you!" One of the other girls said, kicking at his desk. "Back off, Monkey-boy!" She pointed a manicured fingernail at him. "Back! Back!"

"Aww, you suck, Akane Number Two!" Abe said pulling his desk back over to his corner among a grinning group of boys.

"I'm Akane Number One," she said jerking a thumb at herself. "And don't you forget it." She flipped her short curly hair and grinned at the girls giving them a wink. "Accept no imitations!"Akane from the dorms, who had long hair, gave her a weak smile and nodded. The new Akane turned to Tooru with a smile. "Come on, sit down." She patted her desk.

Tooru gave an uncertain smile and sat down, opening her bento.

"Akane seems to be a popular name around here," Yuki said, "There are three in our dorm, counting Morikawa-san. It must get confusing sometimes."

"But I'm the most important Akane," Akane said fluttering her lashes at him. "The others are all just pale imitations."

Yuki didn't respond to that, unsure of how it was meant. It sounded rude to him, but perhaps she was trying to be funny?

"It's not so bad in this classroom," long-haired Akane said. "Everyone calls Morikawa by her last name. So it's just Akane and I-"

"Which means if you hear someone saying something about Akane, they're usually talking about me." Short-haired Akane grinned. "Most people call her Number Two."

"Well, because my name is Nishihura," the other girl quickly explained, "You get it? Ni-shihura?" She said emphasizing the Ni sound in her name, just like the Japanese word for the number two.

"That's cute," Tooru said smiling at Number Two.

The girl smiled back at her. Tooru missed the self-proclaimed Akane Number One frowning. She turned to the girl next to her and kicked her under the table.

"Ow!" She gave a startled look at Akane, the girl flicked her eyes at towards Yuki. "I'm Tsubaki," The last girl at the table said suddenly, "Nice to meet you."

"Sato Yuki. Nice to meet you," Yuki replied, starting in on his lunch. He looked at Tooru, "How has your day been going?"

"Fine-" Tooru started.

"So you're in class A," Akane interrupted, ignoring the rest of the table and fluttering her eyes at him. "Too bad for you... There are no cute girls in that class, just a bunch of nerdy brainiacs."

"Morikawa should be in that class, she'd fit in better," Tsubaki said snidely.

Akane laughed and twirled piece of her short hair around a finger, showing off her nails.

"I don't really pay attention to things like that in class," Yuki said shortly and turned to Tooru to prompt her into finishing her sentence.

"So how did you get to know our Tooru-chan?" Akane asked, placing her hand over his wrist to get his attention and giving Tooru a warning look before he turned back to her. "Kinda sucks to be tied down by family obligations already. Your family must be super traditional."

Yuki gently extricated his hand and shared a look with Tooru, not sure how to explain their relationship. He certainly didn't like the way he was implying that they were together out of coercion. Tooru ducked her head and ate a couple small bites of her lunch. She wasn't used to being such the center of attention. No one had hardly paid attention to her at her last school, outside Hana, Uo and Yuki's fanclub.

"It doesn't feel like an obligation," Yuki said finally when Tooru didn't speak. "We've known each other since childhood."

"Ha-ha..." Number Two laughed uncomfortably and tried to change the subject. "So how are you guys getting around? It's a small school so you shouldn't have too much trouble finding things and getting to know people."

"Everyone has been very friendly." Tooru smiled, but Yuki could tell it was forced.

"Really? To be engaged just because your family wanted it that way?" Akane sniffed, ignoring the conversation between Number Two and Tooru. "I wouldn't want to trap a boyfriend that way."

Tooru's head came up fast. Trap?

Yuki's narrowed. "After Tooru-san's mother passed away, she came to live with my family," Yuki said nonchalantly. "She was added to the family register, so her name was changed. Our relationship has nothing to do with that."

Tooru looked around and realized how quiet the room had gotten. Everyone was straining their ears to hear.

"Yuki-kun is my boyfriend," Tooru said, and then couldn't help a huge smile from breaking out and spreading out across her face. That was the first time she'd gotten to say it out loud, to someone other then Kyou or Yuki. She glanced at him shyly wondering if he'd noticed. Yuki gave her a sweet smile back, usually the kind he only shared in private. He noticed. "He's my boyfriend because we care for each other, not because he has to be." There were times when she wasn't sure of that, but she hoped it was true.

"I can't believe your family is okay with you living together if they aren't the ones who decided," Akane said, looking sour.

"Not alone," Yuki said. "My brother lives with us, as a chaperone." He looked serious. "Don't misunderstand, Tooru-san has her own room and we're rarely alone." He looked at Tooru, "Lunch will be over soon, don't forget to eat. Kitagawa-sensei said you need to keep eating your vegetables." He couldn't believe how nosy these people were.

"Yuki-kun too," Tooru said looking at his mostly untouched box.

"Hey, hey..." Abe said from his desk, "So, hey-"

"Omigod," Akane said, "You are so annoying, Tanaka. What do you want?"

"Did you guys run away together?" Abe asked. "'Cause at the dorm you said you didn't have anyone, like your parents were dead too, but now that I recall only Tooru-chan said that. So, what... did you run away?"

Tooru choked on a fishball from her lunch. How could he have gotten so close to the truth?

"You like to make things dramatic," Yuki scoffed. "You have some imagination! My parents have no problem with our relationship." Which was completely true. They couldn't have a problem with what they didn't know about. "Who's ever heard of someone running away with their boyfriend...and his brother?"

"Oh, yeah," Abe said, leaning on his hand and looking disappointed. "I forgot about Mr. Sourpuss. Shoot! That would have been so cool!"

Tooru and Yuki exchanged glances again. They'd discovered the hard way that being runaways was definitely not cool.

"Our families were close for a long time." Yuki said. Tooru marveled at how he could speak such a bald-faced lie while looking so earnest. "My brother and I were living with a cousin to be closer to our school. After Tooru-san's mother passed away, it made the most sense for her to come live with us, since we had plenty of room."

"So your parents are alive?" Number Two asked. "I thought you said you were on your own here."

"We are, but not because my parents died," Yuki said. Tooru was so glad he was there to explain. She would have been a gibbering mess if this had come up while she was alone. "There was a lot of damage to our home, and my parents-"

"Their roof flew off in the typhoon," Abe supplied to the listening audience. There was an answering oooh from the listening students.

"Yes, among other damage," Yuki nodded allowing Abe to re-interpret the crumbs they'd revealed so far however he wanted. "Part of the reason we moved here was to be less of a burden our family while they rebuild. Kyou is supporting us while we're here, so I guess you could say we're not exactly on our own."

"Kyou-kun has given up a lot for us," Tooru said stirring her lunch around in her box. She just wished there was a way she could declare her relationship with Kyou the same way she'd declared her feelings for Yuki. She hated that she had to tell these half-truths, but having to pretend that he wasn't her boyfriend too and that she didn't care for him as much as Yuki was the worst.

"No wonder he's always in such a bad mood." Abe grinned.

"He's not always in a bad mood," Tooru said sharply.

"Could have fooled me," Abe shrugged. Something had bothered Yuki about Abe from the beginning, and now he was really getting on his nerves. It was like he existed to just instigate trouble.

"Wow," long-haired Akane-Number-Two said, "It must have been so hard but you never said anything all this time."

All this time? They'd only known her a week, they hadn't even known for sure her name was Akane until today.

"I'm sorry." Tooru apologized, for lack of anything better to say. She bit her lip and looked at Yuki. She was afraid to elaborate on anything, she was losing track of the lies they'd told. She was never going to remember all of this! "With getting the apartment together we've had so little time to really get to know anyone here." And no one had really made any sort of effort to get to know them once they'd found out about her and Yuki's 'engagement.'

"We thought everyone knew," Yuki explained putting on his best "polite but confused" face. If Tooru hasn't known better she would have thought he was telling the truth. "Urishima-san knows, and the school officials. After Tanaka-san asked us about our relationship at the dorm, everyone there seemed to know." He reached out and Tooru put her hand in his. He gave her fingers a squeeze before releasing her. "We've been together for so long, and everyone knows us back home. It's easy to forget that we have to explain things."

"Yuki-kun's family is really well known back home," Tooru said, which was the complete and utter truth.

"Oh yeah?" Tsubaki perked up. "Why? Are you rich?"

"If they were rich would they leave home to be less of burden?" Short-haired Akane gave her a dirty look.

"Oh," Tsubaki pouted.

"Yuki-kun's family is really large," Tooru explained and Yuki gave her an approving look.

Short-haired Akane gave Yuki a simpering look. "I think it's sweet that you worry about your family so much."

"That's what families do," Tooru said. "Yuki-kun, lunch will be over soon. You should hurry and finish."


By the end of the day Tooru was completely frazzled. She couldn't get a moment alone. Any break between classes and the girls all swarmed around her asking about Yuki. They were full of questions about how romantic it was, how exciting to be all on their own and how sweet Yuki seemed. They wanted to know what it was like to be a young bride-to-be, and what their plans were and wasn't Yuki just so cute? If she was in the bathroom, girls from other classes would stand behind her and whisper that how she was the girl living with her boyfriend, or worse rumors as if she was deaf and couldn't hear them.

With the friendly girls, the girls who wanted to believe that her situation was the most romantic thing ever, she wished she could join in and happily gush about just how romantic and sweet Yuki could be. She wanted to share how he was always working hard to help and support her. She wanted to tell them all how he'd risked his life to keep her safe in that terrible storm. She wanted to tell them how achingly beautiful he'd been when he'd come back from foraging in the woods when they'd been living in a shack together. Wearing his patched, stained clothes, and his fingers raw and chapped from digging in the dirt, he'd never looked better wreathed in a proud smile when he found something useful. How he was so modest and never noticed that every one of the old ladies regulars at Mai's restaurant had a crush on him and ordered twice as many desserts when he was taking orders just so he'd smile at them more.

She wanted to tell them how, even though she now had a permanent bruise in the small of her back where he liked to jab her with his elbow, she loved that he snuggled in his sleep. She wanted to tell someone, anyone, how wonderful his slow kisses were. She wanted to share how Yuki was always calculating and planning and trying to make their life a little bit better.

But she couldn't. Because doing that would have meant she couldn't share that Kyou was always making sure that Yuki didn't press himself too hard. She couldn't laugh about how while Yuki clutched her tight like a teddy bear in his sleep, Kyou would stroke her cheek and tease her. She couldn't tell them how she'd never seen Kyou smile bigger then when he caught a fish, or how proud he'd been when he'd brought his first pay home from his repair work. All the men on Enoki's crew would crowd into Mai's after a workday and would be full of teasing compliments, and Kyou would go so very red. It was so cute! He'd try so hard not to smile, but it had hung around the edges of his lips just waiting for him to let down his guard.

She couldn't tell anyone how Kyou was giving up everything just to keep them in school, and in an apartment that had its own bathroom. She loved the work he'd done on the apartment, the paint was pristine and the little floating shelves were more then she'd even dreamed of. When she'd asked for that ugly, ugly rug he'd tried so hard not to show how much he hated it, and he'd carried it home over his shoulders glaring at anyone who dared look at them strange.

She wanted to share all the sweet, dear things both of them did for her and she couldn't.

"Are you tired?"

Tooru looked up at Yuki. "Yes, a little." She gave a little smile. She had been so excited about starting school, now she was just glad she was going home.

He brushed her hand with his fingers and she took the invitation to take his hand. The rain had stopped late in the afternoon, leaving the ground wet and clean. She nudged a little closer brushing his arm with hers. She was just about to wrap her arm around his when a low wolf-whistle behind them startled her into dropping his hand.

"Look'it the lovebirds!" Abe crowed and jogged past them.

Tooru looked at her feet. Abe Tanaka had been making comments all day long. She heard a group of girls start to whisper behind them. She glanced behind them and the girls started to giggle and pointedly looked away from them. As soon as she faced forward they started laughing outright.

"We're almost home," Yuki said. He brushed her fingers again, but she didn't take his hand.

They turned onto the walkway leading into the Cherry Street Complex. The girls who'd been walking behind them laughed loudly again. Yuki looked back and they gasped and ran out of sight, still giggling.

"Are you okay?" Yuki asked.

Tooru nodded. "Do you think we should look for work today?" She asked mostly to distract him from worrying about her. It wasn't anyone's fault that she'd had a bad day at school. She should have expected the rumors from the dorm to follow them to school and been better prepared.

She'd just thought that once they went to school it would be like school back home. But there was no Uo-chan or Hana-chan waiting with a smile after she passed the school gates. There was no Kyou-kun getting riled up by his classmates until he exploded, and no gentle Yuki-kun sitting a few seats ahead to chat with between classes. She'd been dreaming of going back to school, but she'd been really dreaming of going back home to the time before everything went tilted and strange. That wasn't anyone's fault but her own.

"Not today," Yuki said, starting up the stairs to their apartment. "We're both tired. Kyou bought some employment guides, maybe we can look at them after dinner. Do you have homework?"

"Some," Tooru nodded, "Nagashima-sensei gave me some notes to review to help get on track with the rest of the class. He said I should just try my best with my homework this week, so he can see where I am."

Yuki's teacher had pulled him aside and told him that as he'd scored so high he was sure he wouldn't need any remedial work. His work was expected to be on par with the rest of the students in class. "I'll help you if you need it."

Tooru gave him a sweet smile as the stopped in front of their door. "I know." She almost tipped up on her toes to give him a kiss, but at the last second remembered that someone might be watching. She glanced around.

Yuki didn't notice, turning to open the door and let her enter first.

The apartment was dark and for a moment Yuki thought that Kyou had gone out. The futon was put away and the table in its place. But there were feet sticking out past it.

"Kyou-kun?" Tooru stepped around the table. The cat was sprawled in front of the window with his pillow and a blanket. He lay on the edge of the carpet and had the curtains open wide to get any bit of light left in the sky. "Kyou-kun shouldn't be laying on the floor... he should have left the futon out and stayed in bed."

Kyou sat up, his hair sticking out in all directions. He yawned and shrugged. "I didn't want to stay in bed all day." He'd put the futon away when the rain had stopped. Once he'd put the futon away he'd been hit with another wave of fatigue and had ended up crashing again on the floor.

"Did you eat your lunch?" Tooru asked, peeping in his lunch box. Half of the food was still there.

"Some of it, I liked the fish balls." Kyou put his hands in his lap, "I wasn't very hungry."

Tooru frowned and knelt next to him. She put her forehead to his. "You don't feel warm anymore. Do you still not feel well?"

"I felt better once the rain stopped." Kyou assured her, pulling back to look at her, more awake now. There was something off about her. "Don't worry about me, how was school?"

"Fine!" Tooru said brightly. She couldn't tell Kyou how disappointing it had been. "It was fun. I like my teacher, his name is Nagashima." She moved back and stood. "I'd better put away these left overs and wash out the box. I'm going to make lunch again tomorrow... We'll have to go grocery shopping now that I know we can use the kitchens downstairs. We can save a lot of money by making lunch."

"Oi-" Kyou said watching her bustle around the room with his box and taking hers out of her bag.

"I'll be back in just a minute. Yuki-kun, can I have your box? I will be easier if I wash them all at once."

"Sure," Yuki said and handed it to her. She took it and disappeared into the bathroom.

Kyou watched her with a wrinkled brow. He cast a look at Yuki who was just sitting down at the other side of the table. He wanted to ask him what was up, because the Rat had been there most of the day.

Yuki took his books out of his bag, and flipped open his notebook. He could feel Kyou's eyes on him and looked up. Kyou was glaring; he quickly looked away and then felt stupid for doing so.

"She have a bad day?" Kyou asked. The Rat was pissing him off more and more. He'd said himself that they had to work as a team and take care of her. Maybe now that everyone was pairing them up the Rat didn't see a need to keep him in the loop.

"Mm... I … um," Yuki stuttered. This was getting ridiculous. He should be able to manage one simple exchange with Kyou. But the longer they'd gone without speaking the more the thought of it overwhelmed him. Now it was like he didn't know how to be normal around Kyou anymore, he kept second-guessing his words and he couldn't get anything out.

"Do Kyou-kun or Yuki-kun want anything special for lunch?" Tooru asked coming out of the bathroom with a stack of freshly washed and dried bento boxes. "I'll have to start watching the stores and see when things go on sale."

"Anything is fine," Yuki said quickly, thankful she'd returned.

"Oi!" Kyou slammed his hand down on the table and the both of them jumped. "You were the one who said no secrets!" He was tired of being left out. "What the hell happened today?"

"I don't-" Tooru started, and nervously put the bento boxes on top of the fridge while giving him a wary look.

"Something is wrong," Kyou said eyes flicking over her face as if cataloging the secrets written there. "You're upset. What happened?"

Tooru looked down. "I'm sorry," she apologized, "I didn't want to upset Kyou-kun, because he already wasn't feeling well and has been doing so much..." She gave him an agonized look. "I really am happy to be back at school. It's just..."

"C'mere," Kyou said gesturing her over. Tooru sat down next to him, twisting her hands in the skirt above her knees. "Here," he pulled her close in one of their special hugs, holding her to his shoulder smoothing a hand down her back in a soothing gesture. "Just tell me."

"Tanaka-san told everyone about Yuki and I and kept making jokes," Tooru said into his shoulder. "All the girls keep giggling and whispering, and some asked really embarrassing questions." The boys in school just stared and whispered. She really didn't like the way that some of them looked at her. She nuzzled into Kyou's shoulder. "And I missed Kyou-kun." He would have glared at them and made them stop.

"Yeah, well, that's stupid," Kyou muttered into her hair. "I was right here waiting for you."

Tooru nodded into his shoulder. "I know... but..."

"I'm sorry it wasn't as good as you wanted," Kyou soothed, he drew back a little and tilted her head up so he could look at her eyes. "You gonna be okay?"

"Yes," Tooru said truthfully and rested her hands on his hips, leaning forward just a smidgen so that she could rest more of herself against his arm. "It just wasn't what I expected."

Kyou snorted, brushing his fingers through her hair. Tooru shifted so that she was sitting more by his side then in front and put her arms around his neck resting all of her weight on him. She put her head back on his shoulder, liking that she was able to snuggle with him this way. Kyou blushed to feel her chest press into his arm and ducked his chin into her hair, and kissed the shell of her ear.

Tooru closed her eyes and sighed.

"Honda-san made a shopping list for groceries, didn't she?" Yuki stood and grabbed up her backpack, searching for her notebook. He found the page he'd seen her write out at lunch and tore it out. "Why don't I go pick up these things while you're...um... resting."

"That can wait-" Tooru started lifting her head to look at him, brow furrowed.

"But you wanted to make lunch tomorrow, didn't you? This will make it easier." Yuki was already backing towards the door with the notepaper in his hand.

"But-" Tooru started again, glancing at Kyou.

"I won't be long. I'll be back before dinner," Yuki said and escaped from their intimacy.

Tooru sighed and rested her head back on Kyou's shoulder. She peeked up at him and he was watching her. His eyes had lit with a slow burn and Tooru ducked her chin. She wasn't surprised when he lifted her chin again, this time to give her an insistent kiss.

Her eyes fluttered closed, and she tried not to wish for more then she had or more then they'd generously given her.


"Tooru-chan, you aren't going to eat with us?"

Tooru looked at Yuki, trying to get him to read her mind and suggest they eat outside. It was a beautiful spring day, dry and warm enough to enjoy. As an added bonus, she wouldn't have to deal with Akane-Number-One and her group of girls.

"I don't mind." Yuki smiled and gestured for her to take a seat among the arranged desks.

"Thank you," Tooru said and took a seat, trying not to sigh. Yuki sat next to her and they both took out their lunch boxes.

"Wow," Akane said twirling a curl around one finger. "Just onigiri and pickles again?" she asked peering into Yuki's lunch box. "Here, why don't you take one of my hot dogs? That can't be very filling." She held up a little wiener dog shaped to look like an octopus.

"Tooru-san's rice balls are one of my favorites," Yuki demurred with a shake of his head. He looked at Tooru and smiled. "What is the filling today?"

"I tried the carrot salad that Yuki-kun liked so much," Tooru nibbled at her own rice ball. Tomorrow she'd make them something different. It would mean having to take a trip to the grocery store, but tomorrow Yuki's lunch would be lavish.

"Yuki-kun, would you mind looking over my math homework?" Akane asked, pulling out a notebook. She gave a flutter of her lashes. "I'm just hopeless at math. And you're so smart, I'm sure I'd understand it if you explain it to me."

"Of course," Yuki nodded and leaned over to look at the notebook. Akane leaned forward and put her hand on the back of his chair, leaning over until their shoulders nearly brushed. Yuki glanced at her, face flitting quickly through a frown before smoothing out again.

"Is that today's homework?" Tooru said starting to lean forward too. Yuki had gone over it with her last night, but she could always use more math review.

"Tooru-chan!" Tsubaki interrupted after a quick look from Akane. "Do you want to go shopping with us after class?"

"Shopping?" Tooru blinked.

"Yeah!" The long haired Akane, Number Two, chimed in when Tsubaki kicked her under the desk. "We were going clothes shopping, and maybe get something to eat. You should totally come!"

"Oh, but I-" Tooru glanced at Yuki, she hadn't gone anywhere without one of the boys since they'd moved here. And she didn't need any clothes, and eating out seemed like such an extravagance. Plus, that also meant there was a good chance that Yuki and Kyou would left alone in the apartment, and dinner. They still weren't talking, so she wasn't sure if that was a good idea.

"Don't be so boring, Tooru-chan," Tsubaki scolded. "You never do anything but go straight home! The dorms can't be that interesting."

"They aren't," Number Two snorted.

"Don't you like us?" Akane drummed manicured nails against the table. "You never come out when we invite you." She pouted at Yuki and leaned into whisper in his ear, loud enough for the whole group to hear. "Isn't she awfully clingy?"

Tooru knew she wasn't the smartest girl, but she was aware of what Akane was doing. She wasn't particularly threatened by the girl's advances on Yuki, knowing with certainty that they would never be returned. But the girl wouldn't stop trying, and even when Yuki wasn't around often tried to make Tooru seem flawed. She didn't want to spend a single moment in her presence more than she needed to.

"I think it sounds like fun," Yuki said, completely missing Tooru's quick, shocked look. She bit back a frown, covering it with her onigiri. Yuki smiled at Tooru, and she took another bite. She hated, hated, hated his fake smile! "You should go."

"Come on," Number Two smiled. "I promise it'll be fun. Live a little!" She was the friendliest out of Akane's little bunch of girls. "The cafe we go to has the yummiest desserts, and you'll get to meet some of the girls from the other classes. Everyone's coming."

"Everyone who's anyone is coming," Tsubaki corrected.

"I'll think about it," Tooru hedged, hoping to come up with a way to wiggle out of it before the end of the day. She sat back in her chair and let Akane monopolize Yuki's attention, which had been the girl's main goal.

She munched on her pickles and let her mind wander. She planned what she would do for tomorrow's lunch and what she would need to buy. Perhaps she could use grocery shopping to excuse her from the shopping trip. They'd decided that since Urishima had already expressed her dislike for them, that they wouldn't risk breaking any of the rules by getting a hotplate. Being allowed to use the dorm kitchen was an unexpected boon. She felt ready to stretch her cooking wings. She was getting used to getting up early and the cafeteria ladies were being very nice, though they mostly ignored her.

"Sato-kun, time to head back to your classroom," Nagashima said, striding back into his podium. "You don't want to be late."

"Yes, sir." Yuki stood and quickly gathered his bento together. Akane pouted and closed her notebook. Tooru stood and followed him, ignoring Abe's now standard wolf-whistle.

"I'll see Yuki-kun after school," Tooru said, wishing she could at least grip his hand.

"I really think you should try going out with Akane and the others," Yuki said. He glanced at the girl who gave a little wave. Little gems on the tips of her nails winked at them. Tooru looked up at him in askance. "I just think that you should meet more people. Number Two said there would be others there." Seeing he wasn't convincing her he bent down to whisper in her ear. "Didn't Honda-san say that her mother wanted her to go to school because of the relationships people build there?"

She'd only spoken about it a million times; her mother's views on school. Having it thrown back in her face now just made her feel guilty. She ducked her head and stroked her bracelet. Her mother had wanted her to be the kind of person who believed in the goodness of others. She sighed, perhaps she hadn't really given Akane and her friends a chance. They just seemed so shallow.

"Okay," Tooru nodded. "But I want to say goodbye to Yuki-kun after school."

"Sato-kun, I don't want to hear from Yamato that you were late to class," Nagashima called. "And Tooru-kun, you'll have plenty of time to talk to Sato later, back to your seat now."

"Yes, Sensei." Tooru gave Yuki a little wave and trotted back to her seat. Morikawa slid in the door just after Yuki left. Tooru smiled at her as she passed her desk, but the girl just gave her a glance and acted as if she didn't see it.

Tooru liked when class was in session. She hadn't lied when she said that she liked her homeroom teacher. He taught history and was passionate about it. He made it all seem like a grand adventure, even the boring bits. It was also easy to forget her worries when she was in class, even the science classes at least kept her mind off Kyou and Yuki's silent fight, what was going on back at the Sohma complex, the girls in class and Morikawa's strange distance. She opened her notebook and let the day drift away, class by class.

"Focus, Miss Sato, you need this review."

Tooru looked up at Yamato-sensei, the chemistry teacher. She thought she had been focusing. She just didn't understand this part.

"Yes, sir." Tooru stopped flipping her books pages where she'd been trying to find the formula he had written up on the board. She didn't understand why they called it chemistry if all they ever seemed to do were math problems.

"Stand please, Miss Sato." Tooru stood and Yamato stalked quickly over to her. He looked her up and down, and didn't look pleased. "Are you feeling lost, Miss Sato?"

Tooru ducked her head and then glanced at the teacher. The mustard yellow sweater vest he was wearing made him look sallow and ill, and he deep frown on his face wasn't helping either. She didn't especially like the way he emphasized the Miss he added when he called her name. It felt strange, like was implying something she wasn't catching.

"Yes, sir," she said, trying to sound confident. "I was just trying to find this formula in the book."

"Page 57, Miss Sato." Yamato tapped his book. "This should be basic!"

"I'm sorry, Sensei." When in doubt, Tooru apologized. She wasn't sure what the teacher wanted or had him so upset.

"I understand you distract Yuki with your remedial studies, expecting him to explain everything to you." The curl of his lip showed clearly what he thought of that.

"Yuki-kun does help me," Tooru confirmed hesitantly, wondering how he knew about that and getting more and more confused by this conversation. She glanced at the rest of the class. There was a mixture of reactions, sympathy, confusion and in a couple of cases, ill-concealed amusement.

"I don't want to see you dragging down my best student," Yamato snapped. "Yuki has great potential, and will go far if he isn't held back by unfortunate circumstances."

Tooru didn't respond. She didn't know what to say to something like that.

"Do you understand?" Yamato snapped.

Tooru glanced around quickly, licking her lips nervously. "Yes?" she said finally.

The man huffed. "Is that a question or an answer, Miss Sato?"

"An answer." Tooru had to fight to make her voice sound confident since she was completely lost about what the man was trying to say.

"Glad we understand each other," Yamato sneered. He looked around the rest of the room. "Morikawa!"

"Yes sir!" Morikawa jumped up from her seat.

"The packets," he sniffed and gestured with his chin to a stack of papers by the teacher's desk. "Please distribute them."

"Yes sir." Morikawa hustled down the isle, and Tooru gratefully sank into her seat.

"I expect every page of this packet to be filled in by tomorrow," Yamato said stalking through the isles.

There was a hearty groan as the students looked at the booklet, a the pages were crowded with tiny type and two columns of questions, at least five pages worth.

"No complaining!" Yamato barked. "This should all be review!"


"Morikawa-san!" Tooru rushed out of her seat to help the girl get up. She'd stumbled and half the classes packets were now scattered across the floor. "Are you okay?"

Morikawa gave an unsteady look behind her, looking for what had caused her to stumble but without her glasses it was obvious she couldn't really see. Tooru picked them up before the other girl could step on them. "I'm fine," Morikawa said putting her glasses on. She started to scrabble for the packets nearest her.

"It's this kind of careless lack of attention that got you dropped from my class," Yamato said looking down his nose at Morikawa.

"I'm sorry sir." Morikawa gave a little bow as she stood, taking the rest of the papers from Tooru. "It won't happen again."

"See that it doesn't." Yamato turned to the front and Morikawa started back down the isle with the packets while Tooru sat back in her seat.

"Oh, careful," Tooru said, noticing Tsubaki's foot had edged out into the row and Morikawa was too flustered to notice.

Morikawa followed her gaze and looked up at Tsubaki.

"Oh, sorry, my bad... I have long legs," she made a show of adjusting her seat so that her feet poked into the isle on the other side.

A couple of girls giggled, and Tooru's brow furrowed. She wasn't getting the joke.

"It's okay," Morikawa mumbled and handed Tsubaki a packet. She finished giving out the packets without incident and slid back into her seat. Tooru tried to catch her eye, but the other girl didn't look up for the rest of the class.

At the end of class Number Two quickly hopped over to Tooru's desk. "So you're coming right? Right?"

"Of course she's coming!" Akane said with a wiggle of her fingers. Tsubaki and a couple of some girls trailed her, looking at Tooru expectantly.

Tooru glanced around, almost all the girls in class seemed to be coming. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all. She saw Morikawa starting for the door and called out.

"Morikawa-san, are you coming too?"

Morikawa froze like a deer in headlights. She pushed her glasses up and gave a quick look between Tooru and Akane. "Um, oh, I, uh... have homework."

"Tooru-chan," Tsubaki said, sharing a glance with Akane, "I said everybody who's anybody would be coming. Why would we want a nobody like her around?"

"That's not very-" Tooru started, distressed to see that Morikawa had already left.

"Oh, Morikawa never wants to come along on these kind of things," Number Two interrupted. "You wouldn't want to make her uncomfortable, would you?"

"Well, no... but-" Tooru hesitated.

"Isn't Yuki-kun waiting for you?" Number Two reminded. "Come, let's go say goodbye..." She practically dragged Tooru out of the classroom. "We'll meet you guys at the gate!" She called over her shoulder at the other girls.

"Tooru-chan!" Number Two hissed as they hit the hallway. "Don't you get it? Akane and Morikawa don't get along! You'll just make trouble for Morikawa if you keep bugging her like that!"

"Trouble?" Tooru repeated.

"Are you going?" Yuki asked, standing by the door of his classroom.

"Yes," Tooru said resignedly. She looked up and gave him a faint smile. "It looks like it will be fun." If she could keep herself away from Akane and Tsubaki, there was a possibility. The other girls seemed so much friendlier when they weren't there.

"Ah, then you'll need some money," Yuki said, digging into his back pocket. Since he'd been doing a lot of the shopping for errands, he'd taken to carrying the money wallet. He pulled out some bills. "Is this enough?"

"Plenty!" Tooru said, trying to hand some back. "I'm sure I won't need this much."

"Keep it until you get home," Yuki demurred. "You don't know, you might see something you want. And you may be eating out."

"Come on, Tooru-chan!" Number Two said impatiently. "We don't want to miss everybody!" She danced a little in place and then started down the hallway. "I'll make sure they don't go without us."

"Yes!" Tooru called and started to follow Number Two before she changed her mind and decided to cling to Yuki and refuse to leave. "Ah!" She called over her shoulder. "Since I might not be back for dinner, please make sure that Kyou-kun goes down to dinner tonight. He skipped yesterday!"

She missed the pole-axed look on Yuki's face as she chased Number Two through the hallway.


Kyou glanced out the front window. The walkway was almost clear of returning students. He tried to peer as far down the path as he could without pressing his face to the glass.

He frowned. Where were Tooru and the Rat? They always came right back after class. He huffed. It wasn't like they had plans or anything, but usually they'd come home and the Rat'd make himself scarce for a couple of hours while Tooru told him about her day.

He felt his ears start to burn and a slight smile touched his lips. He didn't really let her talk for very long though. He figured he deserved it. He left her alone with the Rat plenty of times, it was only fair. He sat back at the table and tried to relax the muscles between his shoulder blades.

He really wanted to see her today. He'd had another round of washouts today looking for work. He'd concentrated on dish-washing and night jobs and still couldn't find anything. This time it was his age that was working against him. Most of the people who worked the kind of jobs he was qualified for were older. And he'd been right in choosing places that didn't have a lot of dress-code requirements not having a problem with his hair, but that meant that a lot scarier people then him showed up for the jobs too.

He'd been chased away from two potential jobs just by the evil stares, another had looked so shady he hadn't even gone in. The few respectable places had already hired someone or wanted someone older, bigger, stronger looking or some other quality that he didn't have.

"Argh!" Kyou grimaced and stood again, and walked back to the window. He twitched the curtain aside and looked down the path. "Dammit, where are they?"

There were a couple of times the Rat had let her come down the path on her own, and gone straight out looking for work himself. But at least she should be home by now. He paced away from the window and then back again, checking one more time. He'd thought for just a second as he turned that he might have seen something.

After another pace around the room he decided to walk down the path and look down the street. It wasn't like was worried or desperate, or anything. At least, that's what he told himself. He just wanted to stretch his legs. He'd been sitting around the apartment for two hours now waiting for them and he was just antsy. That was all!

He threw the door open with a frustrated bang and stepped out into the hallway. He froze when he realized he wasn't alone."Ah."

"Sato-san..." Morikawa looked at him with wide eyes from the top of the stairs, startled by crash of his door and his dramatic exit. "Good afternoon," she said after a second.

"Ah, yeah," Kyou felt his ears and the back of his neck start to burn in embarrassment. "Good afternoon."

She hesitated a minute more, seeming just as surprised that he'd greeted her politely as she had been by his exit. She glanced around then nodded to him and started down the hall to her room. Kyou started towards the stairs, but hesitated at the top. The girl was in Tooru's class wasn't she?

"Oi." He watched as the girl's steps hesitated a moment, but she didn't glance back. "Morikawa...san." he added the honorific to try to forestall any meltdown that would prevent him from getting the answers he wanted.

Morikawa stopped and seemed to take a deep breath before she turned around. She gave a very forced smile. "Is there something you need, Sato-san?"

"Uh, Tooru... and the Ra...er, Yuki... um," he tried to figure out how to ask about Tooru. Would it be weird if he was asking just about his supposed brother's girlfriend?

"Ah, Sato-kun hasn't come home yet either?" Morikawa seemed to be able to interpret his gibberish to his relief. "Tooru-kun was going to go out shopping with some girls from class. I'm not sure where Sato-kun went." She tugged on her hair.

"Shopping?" Kyou repeated.

"Tooru-kun did, yes," Morikawa said, adjusting her glasses. "But Sato-kun didn't go with them." She gave a longing look over her shoulder at her door, before looking back at him. "Um, w-was there anything else you needed Sato-san?"

"Oi, that's pretty confusing with the "Sato-san" and "Sato-kun" stuff," Kyou said. "Nobody calls me "san." Just cut it out and call me Kyou."

"I'm sorry if I've been bothering you-" Morikawa said quickly.

"Man, you're just like her," Kyou said, scratching at his head and avoiding her gaze. He hoped he hadn't scared the girl off completely. If she didn't turn up at meals anymore it'd be his fault. "Its not about being bothered, its just about making things simpler."

"Her...?" Morikawa asked.

"Tooru, she did the same thing when I told her to call me by my name." The corner of his mouth quirked up as he gave a little grin at the memory. He put his hands on his hips and rocked a bit in place. "Then she made an idiot of herself by trying it out for no reason."

"Trying it out?" Morikawa said. She'd never seen the elder Sato smile before. It really changed him.

"Yeah, she called it out a bunch of times." Kyou looked out over the courtyard. A couple of people were wandering across to the non-dorm section. "She can be really weird."

"But she's very sweet," Morikawa said. "She's nice to everyone."

"Yeah." Kyou crossed his arms, then slanted a look back at her. "Thanks, by the way."

"Aa-ah!" She frantically waved a hand from side to side, ducking her head in a slight bow. "It was nothing, I wasn't even able to tell you where your brother went."

"No, not for that." Kyou looked directly at her and Morikawa swallowed. When he wasn't glaring, but just looking at you with those unusual eyes, it was startling. "For eating with us and stuff. I know there are a lot of rumors going around, and she's been really upset. Its meant a lot to her."

"It... really wasn't anything," Morikawa said, trying not to goggle. She couldn't recall if Kyou had said more then two words to anyone since his family moved in two weeks ago. She never thought he even noticed her, much less that she'd been putting in an effort.

"I know I ain't the easiest person to be around," Kyou shrugged. "And the Rat can be hard to take in his own way."

"R-rat?" Morikawa repeated, adjusting her glasses.

"Oh, uh," Kyou's cheeks colored slightly, looking away from her and scratching at his hair. "It's kind of a family nickname for my brother." He could just hear Hiroki's laughter all the way from Mai's restaurant. Was it strange to have nicknames for a brother? The Rat's real brother called him names, didn't he? But then, the snake was absolutely not who he wanted to emulate.

"That's so strange," Morikawa blurted with a giggle. "It doesn't suit him at all!"

"You think so?" Kyou said, startled by her laughter. He looked out across the yard again, the sun was going to set soon. "It feels like the perfect name for him to me."

"Does Tooru-kun call him that too?" Morikawa hadn't heard her, and she couldn't imagine it. Tooru was just too polite. "And his mother?" A mother calling her son "Rat," it just wasn't cute at all! And for such a handsome, delicate person!

"Ah, no," Kyou felt his cheeks burning. "I, uh, guess it's just a name I have for him really."

"I guess it's an older brother's prerogative to tease their younger siblings." Morikawa smiled. "I won't share the nicknames mine has for me."

"You have an older brother?" Kyou said, mostly to be polite. He was pretty sure this was the longest conversation he'd had with someone besides Tooru since he'd left the Mai's... maybe before that too. It was kind of nice.

"And a younger one," Morikawa nodded. "It gives me an interesting perspective. Don't tease your brother too much, it can be rough if nicknames get picked up by the wrong people." She gave a sigh.

"Sounds like-" Kyou started.

"Help! Oh, God! Oh, Man! Morikawa! Morikawa! Help!"

Morikawa and Kyou turned towards the stairs, a soaking wet girl came up the stairs, her bellbottom jeans slapping at her legs.

"Maya? What's wrong?" Morikawa stepped around Kyou to run over to the girl.

"The sink! The sink! The faucet broke! There is water everywhere!" The girl sobbed, she pushed her sopping wet short hair out of her face.

"Again! I've told you before, if it's something mechanical you have to go to Urishima! I can't do anything." She grabbed the girl's hand, "Come on, I'll come with you and explain-"

The girl tugged her hand out of Morikawa's grip. "I tried that! She wasn't there! What do I do!"

"Ahh," Morikawa danced in place, "Um, oh," She looked around, "uh- her emergency number! I have it in my room!"

"Oi! Oi!" Kyou snapped. The girls froze and stared at him. He put his hands on his hips and stared the girls down. "Before that we should get the water shut off!"

"But I don't know how!" Wailed Maya.

"You have to use the stop tap!" Kyou stamped his foot.

"The what?" Maya sniffled.

"It's under the sink-" Seeing the girl's eyes widen he growled, "Never mind! Just show me!" Kyou pointed down the stairs.

"Yes!" Maya bolted down the steps and Kyou followed her. He glanced behind him just enough to see Morikawa was following.

When they stepped on the second landing they immediately stepped into a puddle of water. It was immediately obvious where the problem was by the stream of water tricking out the door of the communal girl's bathroom.

"Maya! I can't believe you did it again!" A girl stood outside the apartment door next to the leaking bathroom. "It's all coming in my room!"

"I'm sorry!" Maya cried. "Its not like I meant to do it!"

"Oh! I better check with Manase-kun below you!" Morikawa whirled and started down the last flight of stairs. "I'll be back in a minute."

"This way!" Maya said waving Kyou forward.

Kyou hesitated on the threshold, this was a girl's bathroom after all. "There ain't anyone in there, is there?"

"No, no!" Maya said quickly looking around. "It's clear, please hurry."

Kyou sloshed his way through the water, which was almost an inch deep in the recessed floor of the bathroom. There was a line of sinks and shower heads for rinsing off along one wall, and couple of the soup pots this building liked to call baths along the other side. The toilet stalls were separated by a short waist high wall and were enclosed in individual stalls. The set up was about as strange as the one in their apartment, and Kyou figured it had been shoehorned into the building years after it had been built.

"See!" Maya ran over to a sink and pointed to a faucet that was merrily spraying water where the cold tap handle should be. She gestured to the handle sitting in the bowl of the sink under water. "It just fell off and everything started spraying!"

Grimacing at the thought of getting wetter in the icy water, Kyou dropped to his knees by the sink. It was dark underneath and he couldn't see what he was looking for. "Hey, got a cellphone?"

"Yes?" The girl dug it out and held it to him.

Kyou flipped it open and held it under the sink, out of the stream of water illuminating the workings of the sink. "Dammit!"

"What? Can't you turn it off?" Maya had tears pouring down her face. "Oh, god, what am I going to do? Urishima is going to kick me out of the building for this!"

"Calm down!" Kyou barked, scowling. He hated the feeling of his pants soaking up the moisture on the floor and drawing it up his legs. "I can turn it off! It's just in a bad spot, so I have to lay down in the water to get to it."

"So you won't?" the girl sniffled.

"I didn't say I wouldn't!" Kyou yelled, and regretted it when the girl jumped. He sighed and groused, "Doesn't mean I have to be happy about it though. Here, make yourself useful and hold the phone, here- so I can see."

The girl reluctantly dropped to her knees and held the phone were he directed, keeping the screen bright so he could see the knob he needed. Kyou made another face and then lay on his back in the water and pushed himself along the floor under the sink until he had a good angle on the knob. It was awkward, but he got a good grip started to turn. In minutes the water was slowing, until it became just a trickle and then was gone.

"Oh, you got it off!" Morikawa sloshed her way into the bathroom. "Thank goodness!

Maya stood and got out of the way and then Kyou slid himself out and got quickly out of the water. He gave himself a shake, muttering foul things under his breath.

"Maya," Morikawa fished the tap handle out of the sink, "how did this happen, again? This is the second sink you broke!"

"I didn't do anything!" Maya cried. "Honest!" She sat on the edge of a tub and wrung her hands, looked up at Kyou and Morikawa with big, pleading eyes. "I used the sink to wash my hands, and then turned it off. But the cold water was dripping around the handle a bit so I tried to tighten it. Then it just-Woosh!" She gestured a spray of water, "Water everywhere!"

She buried her head in her hands. "What am I going to do? Urishima is going to make me pay for the plumber again! But I'm broke, there's no way I can pay! She'll kick me out!"

"Gimme that," Kyou muttered, taking the tap handle from Morikawa "This just threads on..." he muttered. He hadn't done much plumbing work with Enoki, but this he knew some from when he lived with Shishou. They'd maintained the dojo themselves, and with a bunch of rough men things tended to get broken.

He looked at the sink handle brushing where the handle usually would have sat with a finger. "I see what's wrong," he said under his breath. "Oi, I can fix this for you." He called to Maya. "If you can get the water cleared up, I don't see why the old bat has to know."

"R-really?" Maya stuttered, jumping up and splashing the water. "Seriously?"

"How?" Morikawa asked. "We can't just do a temporary fix, then it'll just break for the next person and they'll be blamed instead. That's not fair."

"No, see.. here..." he picked off a thick fleck of black something. "This is a piece of a rubber washer. It goes between the handle and the water. It's what makes a seal, and keeps water from leaking around the edges. But they don't last forever, this one just wore out and crumbled to pieces." He wiped his hands together to brush them off. "They cost next to nothing. We put a new one on and re-thread the handle on, it'll be good as new." He cast a critical eye at the line of sinks. "You should probably get new ones for all the handles, if that one's gone the rest are probably close to going too."

He looked at Maya and thrust his hands in his pockets. "You buy the washers, I'll install 'em."

"That sounds like a good plan," Morikawa said. "Now, some of this water has probably caused problems for the other tenants. But if we offer to help them clean it up I'm sure they'll keep their complaints to themselves, I'll go around with you an explain. They all know what Urishima is like."

"Thank you so much!" Maya sniffled to them both. "How do I know what washers to buy?"

Kyou looked at the sink he'd shut the water off to. Shrugging he pulled gave the hot water tap a hard twist, and then completely un-threaded it. He flipped it over and carefully pried a torn and crumbling washer out of the handle. "Just tell 'em to get you ones like this." He looked around the bathroom. "I'd clean up the water first." He shivered, his whole back was dripping and his clothes were soaked. He glanced at the floor, there were drains but they looked clogged with bits of paper and hair. "This should be draining more... clear the drains and most of it will go away on its own."

"We can handle that," Morikawa said. "Maya? Why don't you go get some mops from the cleaning closet?" The girl nodded and took off. Morikawa looked up at Kyou. "You've done plenty. Why don't you go clean up? This is going to take us until at least after dinner." She sighed. "We might have to wait until tomorrow to get the washers... and have you put them in then." She smoothed back some hair that had escaped from her ponytail. "I don't know how we're going to clean this all up, especially the water in people's apartments."

"Ask Tooru when she gets back," Kyou suggested, wringing out a tail of his shirt of the excess water. "She's really good at this kind of stuff. She helped clean up a bunch of people's houses back in our old town, after the typhoon. She can save almost anything."

"You don't think she'd mind?" Morikawa asked.

"She likes to help." Kyou shrugged, plucking at his clothes trying to keep the sodden clothes from dripping. He had a sudden thought and tried to look at his back, craning over his shoulder. The communal bathroom floor couldn't be too clean judging by the drains. Had he ruined another set of clothes? He shuffled over a bit to try to get a look in one of the mirrors over the sink. "Oh crap!"

"Erm, Kyou-kun?" Morikawa wondered at the boy's sudden panic.

"My shirt! Oh man, she's going to be so pissed." He looked down his reflection, "My pants too! Crap!"

"Who is?" Morikawa asked craning a bit to look at his back. His his whole back was streaked with faint brackish marks where he'd rubbed against the tile floor.

"Tooru! This is is the second set of new clothes I've ruined!"

"I can't imagine Tooru-chan getting mad," Morikawa's brows wrinkled in confusion.

Kyou sighed and ran his hands through his hair, the dampness of them making his hair stand on end. "Well, not mad... but she just gets really, really quiet and kind of...sad..." He sighed. Could this day get any worse? "Crap."

"I don't think they're ruined," Morikawa said reassuringly. "I'll wash them for you, to return the favor for helping Maya and I out. She wouldn't even have to know."

"Really?" Kyou asked, and his face lit with hope. "Do you think you could get this stuff out?"

Tooru had spent hours scrubbing at his other shirt trying to get the sap out, and had finally given up. She hadn't gotten mad like the night Yuki had stressed his back. She'd just gotten really depressed and kept casting disappointed looks at porch where the clothes were soaking in a bucket. Then she had apologized to him for not being able to save them.

"Go change," Morikawa said adjusting her glasses and waving to Maya who was coming in with the bucket. "Just leave them outside my room." She avoided looking back up at him, he was really disarming when he wasn't being angry.

"Thanks." Kyou looked at Maya, "Just let me know when you've got the washers, it'll only take me a few minutes to get them in."

"O-okay..." Maya looked up at Kyou, blushing. "Um, your hair... you've... you've got a little-" She gestured with her fingers around her head.

Kyou looked at himself in the mirror. His hair was sticking up in all directions like a porcupine. He smoothed down his hair, as his cheeks burning. "Thanks," he muttered and escaped the bathroom.


Most of the girls were clustered around the jewelry tables looking at the sparkling bracelets, necklaces, earrings and hair accessories. They were giggling and trying to convince each other to splurge on this trinket or that trinket.

Tooru smiled. She was glad she came. It was fun to watch the other girls have fun. It felt normal. She looked back at the clothing rack. She was the only one who'd wandered over to the menswear section, so she was keeping an eye on the group to make sure she didn't get separated. She at least had to keep an eye on Number Two, she wasn't sure if she'd be able to find her way back to the dorm alone.

She didn't need anything for herself, but after his tree-climbing incident Kyou needed at least one new shirt. If she was going to shop she'd shop for something useful.

"What are you doing all the way over here, Tooru-chan?" Akane grinned.

"Oh, just looking," Tooru said, and moved a few more shirts around.

"Something for your hubby-to-be?" Akane plucked at one of the shirt sleeves. "So not Yuki's style."

How would she know what his style was? She'd never seen him in anything but a school uniform. "Oh, no, not for Yuki," Tooru smiled. "Kyou-kun needs a new shirt."

"The brother?" Tooru didn't like the curl on her lip. "He makes you do his shopping?"

"He doesn't make me," Tooru explained. "I want to." She wanted to say more but stopped, worried that she'd say too much. She wasn't good with lies, and if she made up something new she was afraid she'd forget to tell Yuki and Kyou later on.

"You're just little miss home-maker!" Akane said with false cheer and a shake of her curls. "Doesn't it get boring?"

"Boring?" Tooru repeated. If there was one way to describe her life, boring would not be it. "No, not really," she said with a genuine smile.

"Find anything?" Number Two skipped over. "The girls were talking about going over Kimi's."

"Who's Kimi?" Tooru asked, happy to squirm out of a conversation with Akane. She'd taken every opportunity to express her sympathy in Tooru's status as being "trapped." Since Yuki wasn't responding to her charms, she was now trying to convince Tooru that she didn't want to be engaged at seventeen. Of course, her mother had been both married and a mother at her age so she didn't think she was doing too badly.

"Kimi isn't a who, it's a where. Kimi's Home Cafe. " Number Two grinned. "Best. Cake. Ever."

"I'm up for Kimi's," Akane said with a shrug and started off towards the other girls. "Shopping is getting boring. No one has anything new."

"I got this really cute hairclip." Number Two produced a little paper bag. "I'll show you at Kimi's."

"Is it very expensive?" Tooru asked.

"The clip?" Number Two looked at the bag. "Not really."

"No! Oh No!" Tooru blushed, she'd never ask what someone spent on something. "I meant Kimi's."

"If it was, do you think us poor dorm students would be going?" Number Two laughed, and threaded her arm around Tooru's.

The gaggle of girls had shrunk before they got to Kimi's with some girls heading off to homes and others to other burger joints or shopping destinations. The party still had to be broken off into three tables at the little western-style family eatery and Tooru was relieved not to be seated with Akane or Tsubaki, though disappointed that Number Two went to sit with them.

Akane seemed to be the queen bee of the grade, with Tsubaki a close second. Number Two was among three or four others who seemed to make up the most powerful girl clique in school and they all sat at the same table. One of the other girls from Tooru's class gestured her over when she saw she didn't have a place to sit.

"I don't think we had a chance to officially meet before," the girl said with a smile. She had pretty chocolate hair that fell down in waves across her back. Tooru wished her hair could be that thick. "I'm Eiko, we're in the same class."

"Yes, I remember." Tooru nodded. "You sit near the front." She admired her hair everyday. She looked at the other girl. Her face was broad and square, and she had a wide mouth that looked best when she was smiling. Tooru thought she'd probably be prettier if she wore her hair down instead of in the tight small ponytail she had it in. But she like the flower on the hairband.

"I'm Umi," the other girl at the table said. "You're the class B transfer everyone is talking about. You really live with your boyfriend?"

Tooru felt her cheeks begin to heat. "Oh, well-"

"That's so rude Umi!" Eiko interrupted. She giggled, "Especially since I told you that already."

"Yeah, but I don't believe you." Umi shrugged. "You get things wrong all the time."

"I do," Tooru said and the girls looked back at her. "With him and his brother, in the dorms." With a sigh she answered a lot of the questions she got most often before Umi could ask them. "Yuki-kun is the class A transfer. Kyou-kun works." Or would soon, but that took too long to explain. "I have my own room. My mother passed away last year, and that's when I moved in with Yuki-kun's family, but we dated before that. We-"

"I'm sorry," Umi interrupted. "You've been getting this a lot, huh? Questions and stuff?"

"Yes," Tooru said with a smile. "But my situation is unusual. Yuki-kun keeps telling me people will get used to us after a while, and Kyou-kun said that once they saw how boring I was people would stop gossiping."

"It's not very nice to call you boring," Eiko frowned. "I've heard Yuki-kun's brother is kind of a jerk, sounds like that rumor was right."

"Oh, he's not at all!" Tooru protested. "Kyou-kun is very sweet. He's always trying his hardest to make me feel better. He looks after Yuki-kun even when they're fighting and he even gave up going to school just to make sure I could finish. He's a very hard worker-"

"He's just a little rough around the edges," Number Two said coming up and she squatting down next to the table with her arms crossed across the surface. "He's got bright red hair!" She smiled at Tooru and tilted her head to the side, displaying a heart-shaped enameled clip she'd pinned in her hair. "What do you think? Is it me?"

"It's very cute," Tooru agreed. "I like the color." It was a pretty iridescent blue.

"Don't wear it in Yamato's class," Umi said. "He'll confiscate it."

"Pfft, I don't want to talk about school," Number Two tossed her hair over her shoulder.

"Yes, let's talk more about Yuki's rough-edged brother. He dyes his hair? I think boy's with dyed hair can be cute, kinda idol-ish," Eiko grinned, "if they do it right."

"It's not dyed," Tooru corrected. "His hair is natural."

"Natural? Is he a half?" Eiko sat forward. "That would make Yuki a half too, wouldn't it?"

"Does he look like Yuki?" Umi asked, talking over Eiko, much to Tooru's relief. "I can't imagine living with two such cute guys."

"There is a family resemblance," Tooru grinned, happy to talk about both her guys. "Though their eyes and hair aren't anything alike. Kyou-kun is taller and his shoulders are broader. His hair isn't as long as Yuki's. All the So-... er...Sato family are really beautiful people. Yuki-kun's older brother is as beautiful as a-" Tooru stopped, she'd almost slipped about Ayame being almost as beautiful as woman. She'd almost slipped about Ayame!

"An idol?" Eiko said excitedly.

"The bad-boy type maybe," Number Two admitted. "I could totally see him in a drama as the "cute but evil" guy who tries to steal the "noble and cute" guy's girl as a part of a revenge scheme."

"So that makes Yuki the noble and cute guy and Tooru the girl," Umi pointed out. "So has he ever tried to "steal" you?" she teased.

"What? No!" Tooru covered her mouth. She wasn't going to say another word about Kyou. She was only going to get herself in trouble.

"You're so easy to tease!" Number Two laughed.

"I want to meet this older brother," Umi said, rubbing her hands and grinning. "Beautiful bad-boy idol type? Yum!"

Eiko smiled and inclined her head towards her friend. "Plus, bonus, he's single!" She furrowed her brow. She looked at Tooru, "Well, I'm assuming..."

"No he's not!" Tooru burst, incensed. She quickly got a hold of herself, and hoped her outburst hadn't seemed too suspicious.

"He's not single?" Number Two, apparently not too concerned. She stood as the waitress came up to the table. "He's not dating anyone in the dorms, I haven't seen him talk to anyone."

"Have you been waaaaatching hiiiiim?" Umi's wide mouth took on a teasing lilt along with her voice. "Do you liiiiiike the baaaad boy?"

Number Two flipped her hair back and forth, posing. "Me? Go after a bad boy? Nevaaar!"

"No, never." Eiko rolled her eyes and took her dinner from the waitress. "Your last one was a real winner. Is he out of jail yet?"

"Don't be silly, the charges were dropped!" Number Two waved a hand. She caught a look of Tooru's shocked face. "We're joking, Tooru-chan! Joking! I've never had an ex-con boyfriend." She winked "A couple who've gotten detention, but nothing that extreme. Ah," she looked back at her table. "My food is here too. Talk to you later!"

"But she does like them on the rough side," Umi winked. "Better tell your brother-in-law to watch out."

"Eh-heh-heh-heh..." Tooru weakly laughed. "Brother-in-law" was almost as bad as "brother," but it was the story she'd have to stick with it. She wondered if there would ever be a time when she wouldn't have to lie anymore.

"Don't be selfish now, Tooru-chan," Eiko waved a finger. "You can't keep all the cute boys to yourself."

"Give some other girls a shot," Umi agreed. She picked up her club sandwich and took a bite. "Though I'd like to see said mythical cute boy before deciding if he's worth the chase."

"You should totally have us over," Eiko ate a fry of her plate. "Akane-" Umi gave her a quick look and Eiko quickly corrected herself with a quick glance towards the Akane's table. "Number Two is always going over to Tsubaki's house, so we haven't been to the dorms in forever."

"Then we could meet your cute brother-in-law," Umi stole one of Eiko's fries. "And meet your cute boyfriend, I've only seen him in the halls."

"You're so lucky," Eiko slapped Umi's hand away from her plate. "He's super cute, and he must be smart if he made it into A class."

Tooru quickly swallowed a bite of her meatloaf. "Yuki-kun is very smart!" she agreed. "It's because of his help that I tested well enough to get into B class."

"Do you think he'd tutor me?" Umi asked eagerly. "If I can get my grades up I can get into B class next semester." At Tooru's look of confusion, she quickly explained. "In a couple of months, after midterms, everyone's grades are ranked and the classes are reorganized." She sighed. "I need to get out of C class."

"It hasn't gotten any better?" Eiko asked, sipping on her soda and looking concerned.

"Better?" Tooru asked, pushing her food around her plate. It was pretty good, and she bet that Kyou would like it. She planned to eat half and bring the rest of him, there was more than enough. She doubted he'd go down to dinner. She felt a little guilty about asking Yuki to make sure Kyou ate. But ever since that short exchange, that little bit of normal bickering in the doorway, she couldn't help thinking that if the two of them just talked maybe this strangeness would go away.

"Umi was B class last year, but-"

"I kind of tanked my finals." Umi frowned into her dinner. "My parents are still mad about it. This is one of the first times I've been allowed out."

"I'm sure Yuki-kun wouldn't mind looking over your homework," Tooru said, thinking she wouldn't mind if Umi was in her class. Then maybe she could eat with Umi and Eiko at lunch instead of Akane. In fact..."He usually does some review at lunch if you want to eat with us tomorrow."

Umi laughed, "Sorry, no thanks." She cast a glance at the Akane's table. "I'm not going up against Akane for a cute boy's attention." She smiled over her sandwich, looking devilish. "Buuuut, if you invite me oooover..."

"I'll ask," Tooru smiled. "I'm sure Yuki-kun and Kyou-kun won't mind." She looked around. "Excuse me," she said and gestured to the hall with the bathroom sign and escaped.

She pushed her way into a stall, put the toilet cover down and sat. She just needed a minute to herself. She was sure that Yuki wouldn't mind if she put together a study group. And Kyou would let himself get stared at by a few girls if she asked. She smiled to herself, he'd probably tolerate it for all of five minutes before he'd escape the apartment and climb up a tree.

No, the boys would be fine with her inviting friends over. She wasn't sure if she was okay with it. Inside her apartment was her sanctuary, even now with things so confused. In there she didn't have to pretend that Kyou wasn't her boyfriend, or be careful how affectionate she was with Yuki. She just wanted to preserve that one spot for herself. Was that so wrong?

She looked down at her hands, clasped together tightly. A glimmer of red caught her eye and she stroked her bracelet, letting the butterfly clink softly against her fingernails. "Mother, things are so complicated." She tapped the butterfly and brought it to her cheek. "What would you have done?"

She felt like she hadn't a real conversation with her mother in months. She used to talk to her every day, and even though she knew her mother was gone, she'd always felt like she could hear her advice in her heart. That voice was silent now, and she felt the loss keenly.

"You would have known what to do, wouldn't you?"

She stood and flushed the toilet for show. She took a deep breath and prepared to go face the scary high school girls that were waiting for her. She was ashamed of herself, she was sure that her mother's voice was silent because she'd become so far from the person she wanted her to be.

She was selfish, she didn't want to share Yuki and Kyou with anyone. She was judging everyone by standards they shouldn't have to live up to. She shouldn't blame high school girls for being high school girls. She would have been those girls if she had stayed at Shigure's house and hadn't run away. Hatori would have taken her memories, and she'd probably be living happily (though obliviously) just like the girls in her class. The most important thing in her life would be midterms and if she'd be in class with Hana and Uo again. She might have even found a boy to dream about, just one boy, like everyone else.

She walked out of the stall and washed her hands.

But she didn't regret any of her decisions. If she had stayed, and let herself be mind-wiped into forgetting all about her boys, then while she was dreaming of some other boy, Yuki would have been trapped back in the darkness by Akito's side. What would be happening to Kyou didn't even bear thinking about. And there weren't enough high schoolgirls to make her want to give up the feeling she got laying between them in the morning, or the fire of Kyou's kiss or the feel of Yuki's hand as it inched along her skin.

I'll figure this out, she thought. I'll make this work.

She'd invite those girls over and make friends like Yuki kept encouraging her to. She'd figure out how to get Kyou and Yuki talking again, or at least fighting out loud instead of the silence they shared now.

She pushed her way out of the bathroom, full of determination. A flutter of paper caught her eye at the end of the hall and she paused for a moment.

"Excuse me," she said to a passing waitress. "About this..."


Kyou laid on the rug and thought about eating something.

He rolled over and twitched the curtains on the sliding door to the side. He peeked up at the sky. The last bit of color was now gone. One of them should be home by now. He looked up at the ceiling lamp, still off even though the room was now dark. He could stand up and pull it on now that it was dark out, but that would require getting up.

His stomach growled. He patted it and let the curtains fall closed. He was hungry but he didn't feel like going downstairs by himself. He could take some of the money the Rat had stashed in the bottom drawer and go get something from one of the convenience stores around the area. But he'd been to most of the stores looking for work, and didn't really feel like spending money at places that had brushed him off. Eating at one of the restaurants alone was too lonely to think about.

He looked at the fridge. Tooru probably had something he could eat in there. But he didn't know what she needed to make lunches tomorrow. He didn't want to eat something he shouldn't and then see her make that scrunched up "I'm trying not to look disappointed" face.

There was a knock at the door. Kyou hefted himself off the floor and reached up to turn on the light. Finally, he thought, Bet the Rat forgot to give the key to Tooru... "Lock yourself out?" He asked as he opened the door. He blinked when he realized it was Morikawa. "Oh, uh..."

"I figured I'd get these back to you before Tooru got home," she ducked her head and handed him his clothes. He'd left them by her door earlier.

"You cleaned them already?" Kyou said taking them back. She had them nicely folded, but he couldn't resist shaking them out to see if the muck was gone from the back of his clothes.

"It's easier to clean things if you do it right away," the girl smiled, and pushed her glasses up. She gestured to the clothes. "Everything came out pretty easily. I didn't even have to scrub."

"Thanks," Kyou said bringing them over to the light so he could see them better. There wasn't a speck left. "They look perfect."

"You should put them away so that Tooru-kun doesn't find out." Morikawa suggested, stepping inside the door.

"No, it's okay," Kyou said, and started to fold them up. "She'll be okay with it... it was just, I'd already ruined one set..."

"Right, well, I just wanted to thank you again for helping out with Maya's accident. Urishima would have found a way to blame me too. It's always the RA's fault."

"Old bag just enjoys being angry." Kyou snorted.

"She just likes money," Morikawa corrected. "It would have meant fines for everyone."

"How is the cleanup going?" Kyou ducked into the side room and put the clothes away in the drawer.

"We got most of the water out of the bathroom, it's about as dry as its going to get," Morikawa ticked off the facts on her fingers. "There were three rooms effected, and one only slightly. If Tooru-chan can help us clean up the water stains, we can pretend it never happened."

"I'm sure she'll be able to do it."

Morikawa nodded, and looked over her shoulder. "We even got it cleaned up in time to catch the end of dinner." She shrugged a shoulder. "I was thinking... if you hadn't eaten yet..."

"Dinner?" Kyou was surprised she'd come by. Usually when they ate together it was by meeting downstairs on an agreed time. She didn't seek them out.

"Maya is waiting downstairs, too." Morikawa looked at her watch. "If we don't go soon..."

"Y-yeah, sure." Kyou said, nervously smoothing his clothes down. He gave a shy smile, "Why not?"

Morikawa responded with the most natural smile he'd seen so far. "Great, lets go."


When Yuki finally returned to the room. He was surprised to see the room dark. He opened the door and peeked his head inside.

"I'm home," he said to the empty apartment.

He looked around. Tooru hadn't been back, her school bag was missing from it's spot. He looked at his watch. He didn't think she'd be out this late. And where was Kyou? He never kept looking for work after the sun went down.

He turned the light on and went to change out of his school uniform. It was odd being in the apartment alone. He'd never been here when one of the others weren't. He stepped back into the main room and scratched his head. He looked at his watch again. Dinner was just about over, he didn't think it'd be worth it to go downstairs.

At least this way he could say honestly that he hadn't seen Kyou to remind him to eat. He found himself tiptoeing around the room, the quiet felt strange and stifling. He heard a something in English faintly playing from the room next door. Peter was home, and probably hosting some of the other exchange students in his room again... watching one of the DVDs his parents sent of movies that hadn't even been released yet here in Japan.

He sat at the desk and opened up his bag. He should get started on his homework before they got home. If he could finish his work he'd be able to go over Tooru's when she got in. He pulled out his papers and spread them out. He was finding his own coursework to be easier then he thought it would be, for all that the other students in class A liked to trumpet about how hard they were worked. He got up and got a bottle of water and an apple from the little fridge.

He stopped to fiddle with the clock. There was a radio on it, and he really needed some sort of noise other then the faint chatter of English from the next room. He got it playing something forgettable and soft and set down to work.

It was a relief to let the cool figures and equations of math roll over him. He followed it up with some translation, Japanese to English and some English to Japanese. Homework was simple, you just found the right formula to apply to the problem and it was solved. There was a definite right and wrong answer to every question. And he was good and finding the right answer.

There were no shades of gray to chemistry question, or uncertainty in a historical facts. Things were either true or false, choices were a, b, or c. It was relaxing to have things so tidy, neat and easy to organize. This, at least, he could control.

He knew that he wasn't winning any friends by falling so easily back into school work. The other students in his class felt threatened by him. The teachers, especially Yamato, played it up. They saw it as an opportunity to get the other students fired up. Yuki didn't care. They could all scramble about, jockeying for position in class, and they could hate him. It wasn't anything new. He had everything he needed in the simple routine of doing homework. He could lose himself in it and not have to think about anything else.

He'd gone on a job hunt after school. He'd never had the courage to ask Kyou for his employment guides, so he'd wasted a little money and gotten one of his own. He'd had a friendly reception at a couple of places he'd applied at, but those receptions had quickly cooled. Once they found that he couldn't heft, lift or strain himself at least not for a few weeks yet, the convenience store and delivery jobs had turned him away. He wasn't sure what else he could apply for... Nothing else seemed to pay a reasonable rate for the work they expected you to do or he didn't have the skills for.

Perhaps he could make some money tutoring... There had been fliers in the library and in the dorm cafeteria. He could make up his own, and there wasn't a subject that he couldn't figure out well enough to teach it. But could he make enough money doing that?

He glanced at the clock and wondered again where Kyou was. Tooru would ask when she got home, and look disappointed when he didn't have an answer. He didn't like the strangeness and awkwardness that had begun to grow between them. It was stupid to the extreme, and he knew it. Kyou hadn't meant anything with those little touches, and it was his own traitorous mind that was ascribing deeper meaning to them.

He shouldn't blame Kyou for his own freaky reactions. Despite learning what had happened back at the Sohmas, everything had been going well since the typhoon. Tooru had been getting better. They'd figured out, with some help, how to get everything they needed to get back on track. IF anything, Kunimitsu coming to Mai's restaurant could actually be seen as a blessing as it pushed them to actually move and take steps they needed to re-establish themselves in the real world.

Yuki sat back at his desk, out of homework to do and mind full of thoughts. He'd always known they couldn't stay up in the shack forever, but it had taken a typhoon to finally chase them out. He'd nearly let Tooru starve to death waiting for the "perfect" opportunity to arise to rescue them. At Mai's he'd tried his hardest to step up and be the pillar they needed to get themselves established, but it wasn't until the Sohma's had come knocking that things had finally moved, for all his careful planning things only seemed to happen after a disaster.

Now everything was in pieces. None of them were as happy as they had been at Mai's, and it felt like his fault. He could feel Kyou silently blaming him, and he didn't feel that Kyou was wrong for doing so. Tooru didn't blame him, but he could feel her worrying about him all the time which was worse. He'd started to feel better physically, but now he was going to pieces emotionally. And it wasn't as if he didn't know how to fix it.

He had to talk to Kyou. His brain shut down right about there and just wouldn't go any further.

A knock on the door roused him from his thoughts and he went over to see who it was.

"Dropping off one girlfriend!" Number Two said cheerfully, standing behind Tooru. "You should really get another key made."

"Ah, yes," Yuki agreed. "It hasn't been much of an issue so far."

"It wouldn't be," Number Two grinned, "the way you two are joined at the hip. But you'll be apart sometimes you know!"

"We keep forgetting," Tooru said over her shoulder to Number Two. "Usually we remember after we get home."

The girl waved a hand to indicate her understanding. "You're going to stop by tomorrow morning, right? We'll make lunches together." She was already heading towards the stairs.

"Yes, I'll come get you on my way down. Thanks for stopping at the grocery store with me." Tooru hefted one of her bags as she scooted indoors.

She waited until Yuki shut the door before she tipped up and gave him a peck on the cheek. He smiled at her and a slice of tension left his shoulders. He took her bags, and let her into the room proper. "Did you have fun?"

"Yes," Tooru looked up at him, "I did. I met a couple of nice girls, one is in my class, Eiko-chan. She and her friend Umi-chan want to come over and study."

"Anytime," Yuki said, though he dreaded having more girls like Akane hanging around. He set the bag on the table and spread his hands. "Just let me know when to be here."

Tooru took his hands and stood on tiptoe for another quick kiss, this one on the lips. He was startled at her being so affectionate, and she gave him another just for looking surprised. "They want to meet my cute boyfriend," she explained, she grinned as he blushed at the compliment. Oh, she had missed him and it had only been a few hours! Tooru looked around, "Where is Kyou-kun?"

They also wanted to meet her cute "brother-in-law." She started to unpack her groceries, she had news to share but she wanted to give it when they were together. She looked at her bag in consternation. She hadn't realized she'd bought so much, she wasn't sure if she could fit it all in the fridge.

"He wasn't home when I got here," Yuki said. He liked these little quick kisses, he was ready for more of them. He came up behind her put his hands on her hips. The sailor uniform was perfect for sliding his hands under so he could feel the soft skin of her stomach.

Tooru shivered at the feel of his fingers and turned in his grip to look up at him. He returned one of her quick kisses, then released her so she could face him. When she took the initiative to settle back into his hands he smiled at her. "I'm glad you had a good day."

"It was better then I thought it would be," Tooru amended and then wished she hadn't when Yuki's sweet smile dipped. "It was good," she assured him.

"Is there anything I can do?" Yuki asked. "Honda-san hasn't seemed too happy the past couple of days." He smoothed a thread of hair out of her face.

Tooru shook her head, disappointed she'd been so obviously discontent. "I've just been angry at myself," she admitted. "I don't like how I've been behaving." At his look of disbelief she tucked herself close, leaning carefully against his arm and resting her head on his shoulder. Her cheeks burned, "I've been selfish and mean in my thoughts about others. Mother would be so ashamed."

"Honda-san," he tipped her chin up to look at him, and Tooru was struck again how much he'd grown when she wasn't looking, "Your mother would never be ashamed of you. I can't even imagine you thinking mean things about people."

"I don't like Akane-san," Tooru confessed. "She's always trying to get Yuki-kun's attention. And she's not nice to the other girls." Or me, she thought.

"Akane doesn't make herself very likable, I don't think that's any reflection on you." Yuki smiled, inordinately pleased that she was jealous over him. Tooru! JEALOUS. "If it makes you feel better, we won't have lunch with her anymore. I just wanted you to join in with some of the other girls."

"Number Two is nice," Tooru allowed, dropping her eyes from his. "And I did get to meet some nice girls today." She sighed and stepped back from him, just a hair. "I think we should keep eating lunch with them, for a little while." She pouted at her own decision. "I think it would cause trouble if we didn't."

"Trouble?" Yuki frowned.

"Let's just keep things as they are for now," Tooru said, girl politics were too hard to explain.

"But-" Yuki bit off what he was going to say when a familiar voice sounded from the hallway outside the apartment.

"Well, someone's back," Kyou's voice said from outside. "We can ask-"

"It's late, if she doesn't want too-" an unfamiliar voice argued him. "Don't make her feel pressured-"

"Like I would!" Kyou said as he cracked the door open. He saw Tooru and Yuki in one of their semi-embraces through the slim opening and said loudly, "We've got company."

Yuki and Tooru broke apart quickly. Kyou opened the door once they'd gotten far enough apart and stepped inside. He kicked off his shoes and walked into the room, followed by Morikawa and another girl. Tooru thought it was the one who'd mentioned being in the art club the first day.

"Morikawa and Maya want to ask you something," Kyou said to Tooru.

"I'm Maya," the girl said shooting Kyou a look for not introducing them, he just shrugged.

"Kyou-kun helped us out with an emergency earlier," Morikawa explained. "Maya-chan had a problem with the downstairs bathroom sink."

"She broke the handle off and flooded the room," Kyou said.

"Kyou-kun fixed it!" Maya said excitedly. "Well, he got the water off and after I buy the washers, it'll be fixed-"

"But there was some water damage," Morikawa interrupted. "Kyou-kun said that you know a lot about cleaning up water and, well," the girl paused and looked up at Kyou, twisting her hands together. "I hope it's not too much of an imposition-"

"They want you to help clean it up so that the Old Bag won't charge 'em fees," Kyou interrupted, tired of the pussy-footing around. "I said you'd be able to help."

"Kyou-kun!" Morikawa's face burned bright red. "I was trying to ask nicely."

"Yeah, well, you were taking forever and it's already late." Kyou shrugged.

"Of course I'll help!" Tooru said, looking back and forth between Morikawa and Kyou, amazed that how comfortable they were together. "Is it too late to show me?"

"No, there were only three rooms effected, the rooms either side of the bathroom and one below it. The residents all know we might be coming by. We talked to them at dinner."

"I'm going to help too," Maya piped up. "'cause it's sort of my fault that it happened. Only, its not really, because Kyou said it happened because the washers are old-" She caught the glance Morikawa sent her way and settled down. "Just tell me what to do."

"She has to see what she's dealing with first." Kyou snorted. "Idiot."

"Bully!" Maya retorted. "Meanie!"

"Brat!" Kyou countered.

"Kyou-kun!" Tooru protested, shocked.

"Don't mind them." Morikawa said, "They've been teasing each other all through dinner. Let me show you the rooms." She gestured to the door.

"Yes, lets." Tooru said, shaking her head. She decided she would have to stay out more often if this was how Kyou responded. He'd somehow gotten Morikawa to act like she had when they'd first moved in, and had apparently made friends with Maya enough that he was comfortable enough to speak his mind.

"I'll go too, just in case the water damaged anything structural," Kyou said letting the girls walk in front of him.

"Structural?" Tooru asked, looking at him over her shoulder.

"Water can weaken drywall and plaster," Kyou shrugged, "stuff like that."

"Ah." Tooru nodded. "Oh, did Yuki-kun eat dinner?"

Still standing by the table, Yuki shook his head.

"I brought home leftovers," Tooru gestured to the styrofoam box. "Please eat while I go take a look."

Yuki nodded and watched Kyou leave with the gaggle of girls. Watching the door shut get felt vaguely guilty for every time he left for school with Tooru. It really didn't feel nice to be the one left behind.


Tooru snuggled happily into bed that night. "I'm so proud of Kyou-kun," she whispered under the blankets to his back.

Kyou looked over his shoulder at her. "What? Why? Because I can turn a knob? Don't be stupid." He turned back and laid his head down.

"Because Kyou-kun showed everyone what I see," Tooru said plucking at his sweatshirt.

Rolling over, he grinned down at her. "Oh, yeah? And what do you see?"

"That Kyou-kun is a generous, kind, hard-working person." Tooru gave him a light tap on the nose with her finger, and when he while he was still cross-eyed from trying to follow it, kissed him. It was light and he could feel her smiling against her lips.

She drew back and smiled up at him, stroking his cheek. "I'm glad they got to see that side of Kyou-kun, and that you seemed happy today." She hadn't missed that he'd been feeling down, and she'd felt his frustration building. Some of that was gone now.

"Yeah, you too." Kyou put his hand over hers on his cheek. He pulled the hand away and gave her a kiss on her palm. "Have a good day?" He didn't relinquish her hand.

"Better then I expected," she said glancing back at Yuki. He wasn't watching them, he just stared into his pillow. "It was good."

She felt Yuki shift to his side, and snuggle a little closer like he did when he was preparing to go to sleep. She relaxed a little more when she felt him begin to play with the ends of her hair. He hadn't said much since she'd come back from helping Morikawa and Maya, but she figured they would have time to talk tomorrow on the way to school. He hadn't slept well last night so she figured his quiet now was just due to exhaustion. If he was playing with her hair, he'd be asleep soon.

"Tell me about it," Kyou said softly, drawing her attention back. He hadn't gotten his time alone with her today. When they'd come up from fixing the dorm's problems, the Rat had reminded her right away about her homework. "Everything."

Tooru chattered at him about the girls in her class, painting a rosier view of school than she actually experienced. She let him in a little on Akane and her general dislike about the girl, though it was harder to explain with Kyou never having met her. It was difficult to explain how mean her comments came across, because taken alone and out of context they didn't sound as ill-tempered or cruel as she'd felt them. She told him about her teachers, the ones she liked. She told him about the shopping trip in detail, the stores they visited and the things other girls bought.

Kyou watched her talk, liking to watch the expressions chase across her face. She'd had two modes for so long, worried and sad, that it was good see her perk up. He didn't pay too much attention to what she was actually saying. Tooru had such a garbled way of telling stories that they were practically impossible to follow. He was just happy to see her smiling for real for a change.

She gasped, and then dissolved into giggles.

"Oi, what's so funny?" Kyou asked.

"Yuki-kun fell asleep," Tooru said, and buried her face in her hands.

"So?" Kyou looked over her shoulder at the Rat. "Oh."

The Rat had burrowed his face into the girl's back and his hair was tickling the back of her neck. As Kyou watched the other boy nuzzled her, setting off a fresh set of giggles. "I don't know how you stand him doing that every night." Yuki shifted and brought his arm up in front of his chest and then slung the other over her stomach.

Kyou had a fresh appreciation for how difficult the sleep-snuggling Rat made it for her to rest. Now when she got up in the morning to go make bentos, if not blocked, the Rat would slide over and snuggle up to him like he had a couple of times at Mai's. It wasn't comfortable. Kyou dreaded the morning that Yuki would wake up in a compromising position and freak out. It hadn't happened yet, either Kyou managed to escape or Tooru got the Rat off before waking him up, but it seemed only a matter of time. He figured he might have to start getting up when Tooru did...

Tooru's face softened and she looked back at Yuki. "I like it."

"What's to like about it?" Kyou snorted. He knew that Yuki's elbow had to be jabbing into her back as they were talking.

"I like to feel him close," Tooru said, still gazing at Yuki's sleeping face. "I like hearing his breath in my ear, and the weight of his legs on mine." She looked up at Kyou. "I like it when both of you are close. It makes me feel safe."

"Close?" Kyou's voice dropped a little as he rolled closer to her, putting his forehead against hers. "This close?"

He was so close it was hard to look in his eyes. She could feel his breath on her lips. "Closer," she whispered, eyes fluttering closed. He didn't move and she added a soft encouragement, "please."

She felt his lips on hers and then his hand on her hip. His kiss was insistent and she felt her lips forced apart to accommodate him. His fingers dug into her hip through her sweatshirt, bunching the fabric up. She gave a little gasp when she felt another hand stroke at the newly exposed skin.

Kyou didn't know the reason for her gasp, and didn't care. He used it as an excuse to explore her deeper. He moaned and rolled forward a little with the rest of his body, wanting more contact. He pulled her hips to his and tangled his legs with hers. He was vaguely aware of his toes brushing up against Yuki's, and made sure to keep their contact minimal.

"Mmmm," Tooru moaned into his mouth and Kyou felt her hand clench on his elbow. She arched forward a little bit, but Yuki had her trapped in place and she couldn't move enough to transform Kyou. Yuki shifted a little, his legs unthreading from hers as he spooned closer to her form. His hand splayed on her stomach, exerting pressure to keep her still and close to him.

Kyou's hand on her hip slid up to tangle in her hair. He pressed on the back of her head, forcing her to change her angle and lift her chin to meet him. She felt like he was trying to devour her whole. There was raw need in Kyou's kiss, and the giving part of Tooru felt compelled to fulfill it. Her fingers on his arm clenched and unclenched.

For his part, Kyou felt like he was pouring out every ounce of frustration he'd felt the past week. She tasted so good and everything felt magnificent. He could feel her tongue against his and she was making these wonderful little noises. They broke apart, gasping for air and he got even closer, kissing her cheek, the underside of her jaw, her neck as she arched. Today had been awful, but if he got to end it like this Kyou didn't care if every day was like that.

Somehow one of his legs had got between hers and she clutched it tight with her thighs. She was moving slightly, squirming against him and he realized he was moving too, rhythmically, his hips against her.

"Kyou, Kyou, Kyou, Kyou-" She was chanting under her breath as he panted against the skin of her neck, kissing and nibbling. She lifted her head trying to see what he was doing and he slipped an arm underneath her, propping her head up higher and giving him a good angle on her ear. She gasped and moaned when he nibbled on her earlobe. "Ohh... what-" She wasn't forming coherent thoughts so she didn't mind when Kyou moved back to her lips and started another breath-stealing kiss. "Mmmm," she moaned.

Yuki clutched her back, eyes locked into the fist of his hand grabbing her sweatshirt. He'd woken up spooned to Tooru's back, one arm crossing his chest and holding on to her shirt while the other was under it on the skin of her stomach. She was moving, gently, against the leg that was threaded through hers. Kyou's knee was poking him in the thigh every time he moved, but worse was that when she moved, she moved along the whole length of Yuki's body. Her rear shifting steadily against his hips and thighs and he could feel her shoulder blades move against his cheek.

He was afraid to move his hand against her stomach, afraid they'd discover he was awake. But he could feel her stomach muscles contract and undulate as she and Kyou tried to live with out air.

He couldn't see what they were doing, afraid to lift his head, but he could feel it in every squirm she made. He could hear it in every pleased rumble in Kyou's throat and every wet noise where they connected. Every time they broke apart for air Tooru made little pleas that sunk right into his blood and lit it aflame.

"Oh, mmm, yes, please, K-kyou...d-don't-mmmm-" Tooru started to arch forward again and instinctively Yuki tightened his grip around her middle, keeping her in place. His fingers scraped against her skin as he clenched the hand at her stomach into a fist, and his arm became a band of steel as it kept her hips from leaving his. Her only response was to quicken her rhythmic squirming, and Yuki couldn't keep his hips from answering hers as he bumped against her.

Kyou was giving strange little hums of appreciation and encouragement as they shifted and squirmed against each other, and the little noises seemed to electrify Tooru who was shaking under their fingers.

"Mmn," Kyou hummed in a deep rumble, "oh, mmn...like that-"

Yuki gave a little whimper in his throat, he hoped drowned in the deep noises Kyou was making or the constant stream that was coming from Tooru. His body was moving in concert with theirs if he wanted it to or not. This was so wrong, they shouldn't be doing this with him here and he shouldn't be letting them while he was awake.

But if he admitted he wasn't sleeping, they'd break apart. Tooru would feel the evidence of his excitement pressing against her. How didn't she feel it now? He could feel her against it every time she pressed back. Her skin was fire under his arm. When he felt her stop trying to pull away, his muscles relaxed. He could feel something brushing against his knuckles under her shirt. In trying to keep her from moving his hand and shifted so that it fisted just under her rib cage. He splayed his fingers again and could feel against the tips of his fingers her breasts moving under her shirt as she gasped, squirmed and moaned.

Kyou could feel Tooru tugging on his sleeve, trying to get him to come closer then he dared. He could feel her moving and was shocked at how primed his own body was to her rhythm. When her other hand fisted in his hair, not letting him move from her lips he was shocked at how demanding she could be. Usually she let him lead in their kissing, letting him decide how to eat her up. Tonight she was just as insistent to decide where they were going to go.

He really liked it.

Sometimes he thought she let him kiss her just because she thought she ought to, because the Rat had said girlfriends do things with their boyfriends. This proved it was something she wanted, desired, as much as he did. God, he felt like he was stifling in his shirt. He had to get it off.

"Wai-" he said against her lips, and she swallowed his protest. "Wait!" He said insistently and backed off, slightly sitting up."I have to-"

"Kyou-kun," she breathed and looked up at him with glazed eyes, tracing her lips with her fingers.

"Oh, Jeeze..." Kyou started to reach for her, forgetting his shirt and she held out an arm to him to bring him back to her. But there was something off. He glanced at the hand on her stomach, and then over her shoulder. The Rat...

"Wait," he said again, his voice firmer. He took a deep breath and ran a hand through his hair.

"Kyou-kun?" Tooru said, sounding forlorn and confused.

"Oi, uh... Rat?" Kyou said, trying not to sound nervous.

Yuki didn't answer, but he did stop breathing. Damn Kyou! How did he know?

Tooru looked up at Kyou and then over shoulder. Once Kyou had said something she realized that Yuki wasn't breathing deep and easy any more. She thought she could feel him trembling, even as he clutched her tight. "Yuki-kun?"

His arm on her waist tightened as Kyou watched.

"Rat?" Kyou said again, propping himself up higher to try to see over Tooru's shoulder, certain now the Yuki was awake.

Tooru looked up at Kyou and shook her head. Yuki was shaking, and she was afraid of what he might do if pressed. He might end up hiding in the bathroom again.

"I'm sorry we woke you, Yuki-kun," Tooru said. "We didn't mean to."

"It just kind of happened," Kyou muttered, sliding back under the covers feeling both cheated and ashamed. "Sorry."

Sorry they'd woken him, or sorry they'd been doing that while he was there? Yuki just released her and rolled to face the other way. "I'm tired," he said and proceeded to ignore them both. His body was still excited, and he was disgusted at himself for reacting to them. What was wrong with him? Shouldn't his first reaction have been hurt or anger or repulsion?

Tooru shot a dismayed look at Kyou, but he just shrugged a shoulder. He was tired of trying to talk to the Rat and just getting a strained look or silence. He felt a little guilty for starting something while Yuki was right there, but not enough to get past the cold shoulder he'd been getting the past week. He was probably just pissed off that he was kissing her after her bath. Maybe the Rat was afraid he might get Cat germs if he tried something with her in the morning.

Tooru slid back into her place, staring at the ceiling with heart still thudding in her chest. She hated this feeling, like she'd done something she oughtn't. There hadn't been any sort of formal agreement that they wouldn't "do things" when the three of them were in the same room, but she felt like she'd broken some sort of rule anyway.

She turned her head on her pillow, looking at Yuki's back. His shoulders were hunched and she knew he wasn't sleeping now. She looked back at Kyou and he just gave another one-shouldered shrug. She supposed it was wrong to wish that he could fix whatever had just happened, especially since it was her fault as much as his, but...

At her pleading look Kyou sighed. He couldn't refuse her anything. "Just snuggle up to him," he whispered softly, more mouthing the words then speaking them. Tooru frowned and ducked her chin, staring into her pillow. She usually waited for one of the boys to come to her. Every time she'd followed her instinct to show her affection to them it seemed to go wrong, like now. She was starting to feel that her feelings were like sharp-edged weapons that she didn't know how to wield properly. She just injured herself and everyone around her instead of protecting and helping them.

"Go on," Kyou hissed. He couldn't believe he was pushing her at the damn Rat. It was the Rat's fault everything was going all weird and pear-shaped.

Tooru nodded and rolled over. She hesitated a moment more and then moved close to Yuki's back. His shoulders tensed, becoming even tighter when she placed a hand between his shoulder blades. She bit her lip, uncertain. Was it normal to want to touch like this all the time? It seemed to make Yuki so uncomfortable. No, she wanted even more than this. Feeling a swell of determination she pushed herself forward and laid her cheek on his shoulder.

"What..." Yuki said softly.

"I can't sleep if Yuki-kun isn't close," Tooru said. "I want him here, like this... like always." She pressed close, spooning him. She crossed her chest with an arm and slung the other over Yuki's hip like he usually did to her. Instead of relaxing into her touch he just tensed further, and for a moment she thought he'd break out of her embrace completely.

"Please don't run away from me," Tooru whispered. "I know Yuki can't always say what is in his heart. But let me feel it, and please... please feel what is in my heart." She pressed up closer. She had a secret love of Yuki and Kyou's backs. She could touch so much of their backs without being afraid of transforming them. She nuzzled into his back and let her hand on his hip slide under his pajama top to feel his skin.

It was hot to the touch and she felt his stomach muscles clench. He shifted and for a moment she thought he'd throw her off completely. Then she felt fingers over her hand. She lifted her hand a little and let him thread his fingers through hers. He sighed and a lot of tension melted out of his frame. Tooru smiled and tucked herself as close as she could.

"I had Yuki-kun all wrapped around me, and I wanted to feel Kyou-kun this close too," Tooru explained. "I like it best when both are close to me."

Yuki closed his eyes. "I understand," he whispered. He wasn't enough for her.

Tooru didn't think he did so she tightened her grip and tried to melt into his back, moving her arm in his back, since she didn't need to worry about transforming him. She couldn't explain her own feelings, so she wasn't too surprised that he couldn't understand them either.

She glanced over her shoulder at Kyou, and sent him another pleading glance. He scooted over and mimicked Yuki's usual pose, even bringing an arm up between them to dig into her back.

"Like this is best," Tooru sighed, she wished she could get the both of them to understand. Maybe if they were the one in the middle, feeling warmth from either side, they'd understand. She couldn't see Yuki or Kyou consenting to such a thing. A memory of their hair mixed on the pillow yesterday morning made her smile. She felt Kyou tug the blankets over them, they'd fallen down a bit and her hands were occupied.

Yuki felt Kyou pat the blanket into place, and shrunk a back into Tooru's embrace. He wanted things to go back to normal between them. Like it had been at Mai's... was that even possible any more?