(A/N): GAH! I'm a horrible, terrible person who deserves all kinds of bad karma for not updating this in so long. I feel horrible but I just wanted this chapter to be prefect and I didn't know what to do! I had the first bit written for over a month now, I just didn't' know where to go with it. But know I have figured it out!

Albeit is a lot shorter than normal and for that I am so very sorry, but I'm sure you'll understand why when you finish reading it.

Konekoko, I hope I didn't' miss your birthday! If I did then this is a belated present, and if not then it's early. This chapter is all yours sweetie!

I hope you all will forgive the long wait but as I said I just couldn't' figure out what I needed to do with this chapter. I hope this will tide you over until I get the next one out, but that's putting the cart before the horse. I hope you all like this one!

Disclaimer: Jaden is mine and so is her curse, aside from that and my Hetalia/Dr. Who shirt, I got nada.

And away we go…

14

Tohru and I stayed out at the bridge until the sun was only just beginning to fall from its zenith. After wards my stomach growled, much to Tohru's amusement, so we decided to find food.

"Where do you want to eat? It'll take too long to go home for food." I looked up at her swinging our arms between us haphazardly as we walked through the streets. She glanced around for a minute before pointing to a random restaurant. "That looks pretty good. Do you think it's okay?" I nodded along, not really caring where we ate so long as I was fed. And so long as I don't have to go home yet…I think it's best we let Yuki break them in for a bit before I face them anyways…

We stepped into the shop, settling in on a pair of stools as the owner piddled around behind the counter, waving to us to show he'd be with us in a minute. Tohru hummed as she flipped through the menu, deciding on a simple pot-sticker plate. I leaned on the counter and played with the ends of my sleeves as I watched the people who were walking outside. "What do you think will happen?" Tohru twisted around to look where I was, her hair flipping out as she did so. "What do you mean Jaden?"

A pair of little girls went flying buy, their laughing loud enough to be heard even from inside. "Now that I am a part of it all," I lilted out, spinning around to look at the menu only to decide I was too hungry to care what I got. "I belong to that Akito guy as much as any of the boys do now don't I?" Tohru slumped into her seat, leaning her arms on the counter as the thought sank in its entirety.

"I…I don't know. I honestly don't know a lot about Akito, the boys don't like to talk about him." She whispered after the man took our orders. I nodded to myself, picking up my chop sticks and twirling them in my hand lazily. We ate in silence, not exactly an awkward one, but it definitely not the kind that leaves you refreshed and relaxed after sitting in for any length of time.

Just as I was finishing off my plate Tohru shot upwards, her shoulders being firmly set as she spun towards me. "We may not know what is going to happen, but I'm sure it will be fine. Or you know…not bad. At least, it can't be worse. Oh dear but it might…but…but." By now she was stuttering, her fingers stuttering as she tried to piece together whatever thoughts were running through her head and consequently falling from her mouth in no particular order.

I bonked her on the head with my chopsticks, raising an eyebrow playfully at her as I did so. "I think you had a point in there somewhere?" Her face was set in determination as she clapped. "Right! What I was trying to say was," She grabbed my hand in both of hers making me look at her a little more closely. "Whatever happens, this time you have me and all of the Sohmas here to help you!" The way her eyes glistened as she said this made me sigh, how in the world someone can be that earnest still amazes me. "You got it." I chuckled as I paid for lunch and we headed out side. "Remind me never to ever let you and Momiji team up for anything. Got it? I don't think I can handle the two of you trying to make me do something." She giggled and saluted before beginning to make her way down the road. I made to follow but stopped when I caught sight of a sign in a window.

I guess it's time for my new beginning to really start. Might as well run with it… "Hey Tohru, let's go in there." I pointed, only glancing back for a second to see her following me. The bell above the door tinkled melodically as we entered, a small homey atmosphere filling the shop. "Can I help you ladies?" An elderly woman asked from behind the counter, smiling sweetly as she re arranged the magazines in front of her.

I glanced back at Tohru to see her giving me her signature smile. "Go for it." She giggled out. I nodded, more to myself than anything and proceeded to allow myself a grin as I talked to the woman. A brand new Jaden.

When Tohru and I finally made it back to the house, it was well on its way towards dusk, the sky a light pink as the sun began to settle into the horizon behind us. We giggled as we headed up the walk, but as soon as we reached the door our glee was stifled by the overwhelming seriousness that seemed to fill the atmosphere of the normally relaxed and free Sohma house. Tohru twiddled her fingers as she looked at me, smiling widely as she tried to lighten the mood. "At least no one's yelling? That means they aren't fighting, right?"

I tried to laugh, but it came out as more of a weak cough as I steeled myself. Like taking off a band-aid, I twitched the door open quickly and waltzed in, calling out a quick greeting as I tried to act as if nothing had changed, as if I was still just an adopted family member, and not an actual part of their oppressive curse.

"Oi! We're back! What do ya'll want for dinner?" I tried to slip into the kitchen without looking at them, my hat low over my eyes. But as I stepped into the room where we always met, they were sitting at the table, all so still and solemn I stopped mid step and took in a breath.

It was like a grave, their heads hung low and their eyes glued to the table. Shigure didn't even attempt to fake his normal amount of obnoxious spirit, his eyes just as dark as the others. It wasn't until Tohru finally entered the room that they finally raised their heads to look at me. "Oh, it's so quiet…" Tohru stuttered out as she shuffled around me to the kitchen, trying not to make it look like she was escaping.

"I noticed…" I hummed to myself as Kyo sat up from his napping position on the floor. "You're back late." He rumbled out, being the only on to speak. He waltzed over to us and I crossed my arms. "Do we have a curfew now oh 'golden' one?" I mocked, smirking up at him. He scowled and clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. "Shut up you little thief." He growled half heartedly as he pulled me into a forceful hug, crushing my face against his chest with one arm.

My hat fell from my head with the sudden force of his tug, as well as the sudden springing up of the feline's features on my head. I laughed, glad someone wasn't acting like I'd died, but then he noticed….

"What happened to your hair?" He asked puzzled? One eyebrow shooting up under his mess of orange. I lifted a hand to run my fingers through it, the short length still feeling foreign around my fingers. "I didn't think it looked that bad?" I muttered hesitantly. Tohru rushed forward clapping me on the shoulder. "Oh! No it looks really cute Jaden! Don't worry, he didn't' mean it like that!"

My face fell even further. "You know, apologizing like that only makes it seem like it really is bad…" I muttered under my breath as Kyo slapped my hand off of my head so he could mess with my hair. I had asked the woman to give something different, and had basically left it at that. She had listened to Tohru and I talk to one another for a while as she tried to come up with something, and then she'd had a ball with my excessively long and for the most part un-styled hair. The end results I thought looked pretty good.

It was much shorter and honestly somewhat boyish. It wasn't until Tohru had pointed out did I realize it kind of looked like Kyo's hair. It was short like his, a similar cut I'll admit. Mine was spiked out (on purpose unlike the cat's), and the top was fluffed more, but that was only because the stylist had insisted upon gelling it out and on me taking a bottle with me free of charge. If I hadn't spiked it though...

"You have my hair." He finally stated, his lips twitching at the sides as he mussed my newly trimmed locks. I tried to smack his hands away but he simply growled as he continued to mess with me. "It's my hair. I didn't ask for this, she just gave it too me. I look better in it anyways." I stuck my tongue out at him and he grabbed it.

Glaring at him I held up three fingers. "Oo av ee econds oo et o." I stated calmly, the effect ruined by my having to talk around his grip. He stopped trying to hide his smile and was full on smirking. I put down one finger and he pulled on my tongue, stretching it as his smirk widened. "What are you going to do?"

Two.

He snickered and began to twist my tongue and the last finger dropped.

Three.

Grabbing his shoulders I shoved him to the floor, knocking him backwards as he wasn't expecting it. Which honestly, was stupid. We'd lived together for how many months and he didn't expect me to actually do something about it? Moron.

He let go of my tongue in exchange for fisting a hand in my hair. I returned the favor and we rolled on the floor, both screaming at each other in pain.

"Let go!" He howled at me and I hissed in response. "You first!"

"I mean it Runt quit it!"

"Take it back!"

"Let go and I'll take it back!"

"I'll let go when you take it back!"

We ended in an odd position, him practically straddling me on the floor while I pinned him down with an elbow behind his back. We were still growling at each other when the laughing started.

Pausing in our antics we shift to look, never actually letting go, to see that not the hyena of a dog laughing, but the Prince himself in near tears as he watched us wrestle. Tohru wasn't far behind, and soon all of the room's occupants were laughing, even Haru was snickering himself in his seat as he tried to remain solemn.

"What's so funny?" Kyo and I harmonized, snapping back to glare at each other as it was too soon in our fight to be agreeing on something.

"You…This…Nothing's changed at all has it?" Yuki chuckled out, trying hard to catch his breath and compose himself. Tohru snapped her fingers in recognition and managed to stop giggling, "Oh! It's just like the first day of school! When they were playing tag in the hallways, and then they ended up fighting over who won or something? I can't even remember how it started…" She covered her mouth with a dainty hand, trying to mimic the Rat and control herself.

Shigure of course was a lost cause. He had yet to cease barking and had thrown his head back, effectively falling to the ground as he guffawed. Kyo and I looked at one another and in a silent agreement counted down to three before letting go at the same time. Falling back we moved to circle the dog on the ground, before I pounced on his chest, grabbing his kimono by the shoulders.

"What's so funny?" I muttered darkly again, just to see him squirm as Kyo crossed his arms above me, his eyes narrowed into slits. He gulped and began rambling, the syllables not quite forming words as he tried to take around his choking laughter and fear. Just as I was about to find a way to mess with him I was forcibly lifted into the air.

Kicking out I jerked around, suspended by none other than Hatsuharu. He shook his head at me; the most serious I'd ever seen him so I stopped trying to make Shigure wet himself.

"You mind if we go talk?" He asked, a lilt in his voice making it apparent that eh didn't just want to go discuss what was going to be for dinner, or what we were supposed to be working on for school. I looked at everyone else, in various states of composure as they came down from our laughing high. Laughter really does solve everything huh? When we had walked in it had been a grave, now it was home again.

Nodding to him I allowed him to lead me outside, sweeping my hat from the floor and placing it on my head as we did so. Tohru waved good-bye before heading into the kitchen, a hungry Kyo following behind her, and we head out the back door.

"Hey Haru, where are we going?" I finally asked. We had been wandering for almost an hour, going off somewhere in the woods far from the main road. He hadn't said anything at all during that time, but I'd decided to leave him alone. Though it was really kind of scaring me.

This wasn't my Haru. This seemed more like the White Haru that everyone talked about before, the one that was quiet and restrained to a point of needing to explode with Black Haru, who only Yuki seemed able to manage. My Haru knew when to speak his mind and wouldn't leave me hanging for a whole hour when it was clear something was bothering him. He would have joined in more when the whole family was laughing, would have helped Kyo and I beat the crap out of Shigure. This just wasn't like him at all. This was a Haru before we'd met. Before he'd become my friend, my best friend. He wasn't supposed to be White or Black with me, just Gray. Just Haru.

He still hadn't answered my question and it was beginning to get really dark outside. I finally gave up and tugged on his hand sharply, causing him to turn around to look at me. "Enough. Tell me what's on your mind Slick, this isn't like you." I huffed, catching his eyes for a moment before looking at the sky.

The tree's were thick where we were, so I could only faintly see the purple color that was above us, the leafy braches effectively blocking my view. It was silent except for a trill or a cricket as I waited for a response.

Nothing. I gave up and tugged again, this time locking his gaze with mine out of the corner of my eye. "Well? What's up?"

I'd meant for it to be rougher, more laid back and more…Jaden. But instead it came out very worried and dare I say it girlish. I was about to take it back when he let go of my hand leaving me feeling unnaturally cold. I furrowed my brows and was about to open my mouth to protest when he snatched me up into a hug, falling backwards against a tree as he did so.

I didn't' even have time to exclaim, the force knocking the breath right out of me as we slid down to the forest floor. I sat on my knees, wrapped in his arms and he pulled one leg up, caging me in with his limbs.

"Haru?" I breathed out pulling away to look at his face. This wasn't' a normal hug, this was far to tight and much to strong for his normal hug. He wasn't teasing me and he wasn't being inappropriate. He was clinging to me as if I'd slip away. I felt him flinch as I said his name, nuzzling my neck with his nose, but still not saying a word. Not knowing what else to do I let myself fall into him, resting my ear against his chest and hesitantly pulling him closer to me. He needs this…but why?

"Shhh…shhhh. I-I'm here Haru." I stuttered out, trying to comfort him but really feeling like I was failing.

His heart beat felt off to me, wild and erratic as I leaned against him, so I tried to hum a tune, but nothing would stay put long enough in my head to make any sense. "Ha- Haru dang it! How the heck am I supposed to help you? Tell me what to do!" I growled at him, and I felt him shudder with silent laughter.

"I want to help you…" I grumbled out, feeling utterly useless. Slowly he relinquished me, his eyes red as if he's been crying, not that I had noticed. Stupid Jaden! I was allowed to sit back, but his grip never lessened as he looked down at me. "You're a part of our curse." He muttered out, sounding very tired. Opening my mouth to comment he raised a hand to stop me, letting his fingers rest on my lips as he waited for me to close them.

"You're a member of our curse. You are subject to Akito's wrath. Which means…" He sighed, closing his eyes as he let his head fall back against the tree. "Which means that the odds of keeping you safe now really suck." His head falling to the side in absolute defeat, "I don't know if I can protect you like I promised."

He sighed once more and I let my hands fall back to his arms, resting at his elbows as he lazily opened an eye waiting for my response. I could see the fear on his face though, so I knew he meant everything he said despite his abnormal lack of enthusiasm.

"Hatsuharu Sohma." I began shaking my head. "You are such an idiot." He jerked up now and before I could continue my rant on his lack of thought I shut up.

Not because I saw something in his eyes, or because I was tired of lying about how wonderful it made me feel that he promised he'd protect me. No, I shut up, because his lips were on mine.

Hatsuharu Sohma was kissing me.

My eyes slid shut and I gripped his arms, completely confused. What was going on? Why was he kissing me? All that time he wasn't just teasing me? Did he actually care? What if this was just a new way for him to shut me up?

So many thoughts were running through my head, a great big jumbled mess that wasn't making any sense. I could barely hear it over the pounding sound my heart was making. My fingers slid on their own accord up to his shoulders, my left hand running through his hair and his own lifted to grip my face on either side. The feeling of his calloused hands so unusual against my cheeks, yet strangely comforting.

I, Jaden Eaves, kissed him back.

(A/N): Alright lovelies, there ya go! I cant' believe to tell you how horrible I feel for not updating like I should be, but 'such is life'. We all know I'm horrible with updates, I'm just hopping that you all will stay forgiving.

Until next time darlings!

Lots of Love,

-Rat