Thank you to Mika Starlight, changeling17, Aerys Krystie, Sarah32138, lavillalover, MattFanGirl, Envious Yet, mousecat, llaelien, Kami-Sama334, Lazy Gaga, LightningStar 0.o, Samsal, invisiblelace, fan girl 666, Nicoliole, teddibear16, Khandalis, trickiwoooo, and yoru 32 for reviewing chapter eight. As well as everyone who added Tactics to favorites, and the many people who added it to alerts! Yay! ~ =)

I apologise profusely. It has taken me almost, if not an entire month to get this next chapter up. My sincerest apologies. Exams are over now, thank God, but there have been some issues in real life that meant I wasn't able to get down to typing much lately. Over half this chapter was typed this morning when I was really tired, and I didn't proof read it as carefully as I normally do, so I apologise for a possibly low standard.

I'll stop talking and let you read now.

DISCLAIMER- I do not own Fruits Basket.


"Welcome, gentlemen! Ladies that have their toes unplagued with corns will have a bout with you. Ah ha, my mistresses! Which of you all will now deny to dance? She that makes dainty, she, I'll swear, hath corns; am I come near ye now? … What the hell does that mean?"

Kyo gave his literacy book a scathing glare. Around him, other students continued their work quietly, although the occasional scrap of Shakespeare's quotes could be heard being muttered. Yes, just another day back at school... another day filled with frantic studying for the exams.

A flicker of grey to his right kept catching his attention. Annoyed, Kyo turned to look at the back of Yuki's noggin. His cousin's head moved up and down slightly as he wrote, and the motion of his hair was nagging at the edge of Kyo's vision. Just like the damn rat to annoy me without even realizing it.

He felt his cheeks warm slightly as he continued watching the rat. Ever since that little incident yesterday, he'd been avoiding Yuki, although he wasn't sure why. Dammit. It was just an accident, so why can't I just forget about it? He rubbed the back of his head, wincing slightly – a bruise had formed where he'd knocked his skull against the porch. And of course, the stupid rat wasn't injured at all in that fall. Typical. I always seem to cop it.

He noticed the teacher glaring at him, and quickly got back to work. Romeo and Juliet. Why Romeo and Juliet? Why would the teacher pick the most boring, soppy, romantic play to study? Why not... I dunno, Hamlet or something?

Not that Kyo particularly cared about Shakespeare. Everything he read seemed to go into his mind and straight back out again. I can't even understand the stupid fancy writing. What's with all the 'thee's and 'thou's, anyway? Pfah. Umm, so, where was I. Corns on peoples' toes. What the hell are corns? Isn't that a vegetable?

With a small sigh, he picked up his book and continued reading through the play, frowning every time he encountered a strange or difficult word. He felt his concentration drifting again and scowled. What is the point of this? It's not like we're going to need to know about Romeo and Juliet later on in life, so I don't see the point of learning it.

A small, spiteful part of his mind whispered that there was no point learning anything, as he would be going straight to the cage after graduation, but he beat down the thought. I'm not. I'm going to beat the damn rat, and I'll be free. I will beat him.

Glancing at the clock, he realized they only had five minutes left, and picked up his timetable to check what subject they had next. Oh. PE. Wonderful. He glared at Yuki's head for a moment before turning back to his book.

In a bored and slightly morbid mood, he decided to skip to the part where they committed suicide.

Yuki found himself dreading the upcoming period. For the remainder of last night, and all of this morning, he had noticed Kyo avoiding him, going so far as to look away immediately as soon as their eyes met. He himself had been finding it hard to be around the cat without feeling embarrassed.

For the love of humanity! Can't we just forget about it? He thought, frustrated. It's not like it's the first time I've been on top of him – I've pinned him down plenty of times when fighting...

...but that's the thing, we weren't fighting, we were dancing. The context makes it very different. He jumped slightly as the bell rang, jerking him out of his reverie. Standing along with the rest of the class, he gathered his materials and walked over to Tohru's desk to wait for her.

"Ahh... sorry I'm taking so long," Tohru apologized as she closed her books and gathered them into a pile, only to drop her pencil case and have to stoop to pick it up. She sneezed a few times, fumbling in her pocket for a tissue, before blowing her nose. "Sorry."

"It's fine, Miss Honda," Yuki said, cautiously eying the members of the Prince Yuki Fan Club, who were hovering by the doorway watching him. He looked away as he noticed Kyo also standing by the door, giving them an impatient glance as he waited. "If you're ready, let's get going?"

"Ah, yes." Tohru quickly picked up her books and they headed out. "Thanks for waiting for us, Kyo! Umm, what do we have next?"

"PE." Kyo said shortly, not bothering to disguise the distaste in his voice.

A small frown appeared on Tohru's face. "Surely... you two will find it easier now, since you've been practicing your dancing! I'm sure you two are way ahead of the rest of the class!"

"...yeah," Kyo muttered. "Uh huh. Sure." He glanced at Yuki, and a mutual moment of embarrassment passed between them as their eyes met. The rat had no doubt that his cousin was also recalling their last practice session and its rather awkward ending.

"Well then!" Tohru chirped, adjusting her grip on her books. "Let's get going!"

Upon entering their PE class, Yuki chose a seat on the opposite side of the room to Kyo. He felt slightly guilty as he sat down and noticed Tohru looking torn between the two boys, obviously trying to decide who she should sit with. To the girl's evident relief, Uo and Hana chose that moment to enter and whisk her off to a completely different row of desks.

"Good morning, class!" the teacher greeted, marching into the room and slamming his folder down on the front desk. "Are we all here? Can someone please shut the door? Thank you. Now, it's been a while since we had a theory lesson... I know you're all eager to continue with the dancing part of the course-"

Oh yes. Very eager, Yuki thought drily, resting his chin on his hands.

"-but we need to get on with the personal education section as well. We'll spend the first half of this lesson doing some book work, and then you'll have the remaining half to get on with your practice. Does that sound alright?" Teacher raised his eyebrows and looked out at the class expectantly. There was a ripple of murmurs of assent, as well as nodding of heads.

"Alright then! Get your books out! Today we will cover self esteem and the factors that influence it." He turned and began writing notes on the board, pausing every now and then to glance down at the criteria in his folder.

Yuki sighed as he pulled out his books and began copying down the notes. This has got to be my least favorite class. Not only is it boring, it's rather pointless as well. He ground to a halt as his pen ran dry, and began scribbling in the margin, trying to get the ink flowing again.

"Sorry I'm late!" came a breathless voice from the doorway. "I had to stay back in my previous class..."

"Take a seat," the teacher answered. The next thing Yuki knew, there was a girl looming right in his face, staring at him.

"Is this seat taken?" she asked, gesturing at the desk beside him.

"No," Yuki replied politely, inwardly cursing. Of course, she has to come sit next to me, as opposed to any of the other empty seats in the classroom. He supposed he should be used to it – after all, fan girls were coming up to him all the time.

"Thank yooou!" the girl sat down, a whiff of her too-strong, flowery perfume wafting towards Yuki and making his nose twitch. He reached for the supply of tissues in his pocket and selected one that was less-used than the others, carefully blowing his nose.

Ugh. What's this girl's name again? He gave her a discreet sidelong glance, taking in her unbecoming, unnaturally pointy chin, her unbecoming, unnaturally broad forehead, and overall upside-down-triangle-shaped face. Miki, that's it. Her name's Miki. And... if I recall correctly, she's in the fan club. Just my luck.

Finally getting his pen to work, he continued copying the notes down from the board, trying his best to ignore the way Miki kept staring at him. Self esteem? What is this self esteem you speak of? I certainly don't have any.

He found his thoughts drifting towards the other members of the Sohma family – in particular Ayame. He probably has more self confidence than all the other Zodiac members put together. Not that that's saying much, considering Ritsu has none, Kisa has almost-none, I have almost-none...

"Prince Yuki?"

"Eh?" Yuki glanced up at the sound of the high-pitched voice. "Um, yes?"

Miki's face screwed into a concerned expression, leaning alarmingly close to Yuki. "Are you alright? You were just sort of staring into space."

"I'm fine, thank you." Yuki forced a polite smile, resisting the urge to snap 'none of your business' or something similar at her. What's up with my temper lately? I guess all these sleepless nights, along with the stress of exams, have been putting me in a foul mood...

"Umm..." Miki looked down, a sudden flush staining her cheeks. "You know, I was wondering... are you, um... are you..."

"Yes?" Yuki asked gently, as he inwardly thought, stop stuttering and get on with what you want to ask me! After a moment, he rather regretfully thought, That was uncharitable of me. I must not let my cool demeanor slide just because this poor girl seems to have lost her ability to talk coherently. … I really need more sleep.

"Well... are you... are you doing anything tomorrow afternoon?" Miki looked down, blushing furiously, but at the same time looking hopeful.

Yuki resisted the urge to sigh, instead placing a slightly regretful look on his face. "I'm sorry, but I'm afraid that for the rest of this week I'll have to spend my afternoons studying for the exams. My student council duties have been during some of my study lessons and I'm a little behind."

"Oh..." Miki gave a rather strained smile before turning back to her work. "Well, maybe we can meet up another time then."

"Perhaps." Yuki kept his face straight for a few more moments, then looked back down at his book, his hair hanging down to cover his expression. He then contorted his face into a frustrated snarl, letting his serene mask slip for a few moments.

I hardly know this girl and she's asking to spend time with me! It's always like this, girls asking me out when I barely even know their names! I guess I should be flattered, but it's getting so annoying! Taking a few deep breaths to calm himself down, he finished copying the notes off the board and leaned back. I need to stop getting so worked up. … I think I need a vacation. A long, peaceful vacation without the stupid cat or Shigure or any fangirls around to bother me.

"Umm, Prince Yuki?" Miki ventured again.

"Yes?" Yuki asked wearily, careful to keep his voice level. Why does this random girl keep talking to me?

"If it's not too blunt a question, are you going out with anyone right now?"

There was a hiss of anger from the back of the classroom, and Yuki turned in his seat to see other girls from the fan club muttering amongst themselves and shooting Miki angry glances. He had to fight to keep his eyebrows from furrowing. What is this? Have I no privacy? Are these girls always listening in on my conversations?

"Prince Yuki?" Miki persisted.

Yuki could feel himself slowly losing it. Why does she keep talking to me? And why do they all call me that? Prince Yuki this, Prince Yuki that... I'm no prince! I'm just a... a stupid rat!

a stupid, depressed rat with a very low self esteem. Yuki shook his head slowly, massaging his temples with one hand. He could feel the slight onset of a headache forming. I should stop thinking about things so much.

"Prince Yuki?"

Gaaaah stop talking to me! "Hm? Sorry, Miki, what were you saying? No, I'm not going out with any one right now." If she had any sense, she would realize that I haven't gone out with anyone, ever, in the year-and-a-bit I've been at this school.

"Ooh. Really?" Miki looked hopeful again for a second, then pouted slightly, chewing the end of her pen into a gnawed plastic mess. "Because, you see, people were saying that you and your cousin... well, because of the dancing and stuff."

"Really." Yuki said flatly. Me and Kyo…that is the last thing I need. A strange, almost nervous feeling surged up in his stomach, nearly making him double over. I don't want to think about this right now. Body over stressing. I don't think I can deal with this at the moment.

Yuki pushed his chair back and stood up, forcing a pained smile when Miki looked up at him worriedly. "Excuse me. I have a bit of a headache... I think I'll ask the teacher if I can go to sick bay."

"Are you okay?" Miki asked worriedly.

No. I just said I had a headache. Of course I'm not okay! … I sound like Kyo. That's not good. Maintain calm demeanor, maintain calm demeanor. "I think it's just the after effects of my flu." Yuki said, nodding, before heading towards the teacher's desk. As he walked off, he heard the fan club girl's rushing over to Miki and caught the words 'demotion' and 'being entirely too brash and familiar with the Prince!'

The mask stayed in place as he walked out of the room.

Kyo's eyes narrowed as Yuki left. Where's he going? And what are those girls muttering about? He shook his head. Suspicious. Well... if he's not here, then I can't exactly practice the dancing with him. Which is... good.

He really didn't want to dance with Yuki again after yesterday's incident. As many time as he told himself that it was just a stupid accident, he couldn't stop thinking about it, and he was certain that it would affect their ability to dance.

"Alright class! Once you've finished copying down this stuff from the board, come outside with your partner and you can practice your dancing for the rest of the lesson." The teacher grabbed his keys and opened the door, waving the class outside.

"Hey. My partner left," Kyo grunted, coming up to the teacher.

"Eh? Oh, Yuki went to sick bay!" Teacher replied. "Well... you can practice by yourself if you want, or I have a few errands you can run for me."

"I'll do your errands." I'm not gonna stand there dancing by myself and looking like a complete moron.

"Okay, can you go to the office and ask for a ream of paper? Bring it back here when you're done."

"Yeah, okay..." Shoving his hands in his pockets, Kyo marched down the hallway in the opposite direction to the class. He breathed a sigh of relief as he emerged from the building into the open air, making his way around the school block. He shivered sightly as a breeze blew past. There was no one around on the pathways, everyone being in class. The sky was grey, the world seemed empty, and any moment now he expected to see a desolate tumbleweed roll past... or something.

A cough from his right, shattering the silence, had him turning to see a figure leaning against the toilet block nearby. His eyes narrowed – Yuki? What's the damn rat doing over there? I thought he was in sick bay, the bludger.

He watched the rat for a few more moments, the other presumably not noticing his presence. After a while, curiosity overcame him and he marched over to his cousin.

"Hey, rat! I thought you were in sick bay!" Kyo scowled. "I didn't think you were one to skip out on class!"

"Shouldn't you be glad?" Yuki shot back. "The last time I checked, we hated dancing with one another."

The trace of doubt in Yuki's normally collected voice worried Kyo. A lot.

"Y-yeah, well... we'll get behind on our practice," he muttered, wondering why he suddenly found it hard to think of things to say.

"We practice enough at home, don't you think?" Yuki replied, and that, of course, brought up unwelcome memories of the incident.

Kyo developed a newfound fascination with his shoelaces as both boys stared at the ground for a few moments.

"Where are you going, anyway? Not that I really care," Yuki asked eventually.

"Teacher asked me to get some paper." Why the hell does he need a whole ream of paper anyway? Not like he's gonna use it, he's probably just gonna stand around watching us dance the rest of the lesson. He should get it himself.

"I'll come with you," Yuki said, completely unexpectedly.

Kyo's eyes narrowed. "Who says I want your company? Not everyone loves you, Prince Yuki!" An undefinable expression flickered across Yuki's usually impassive face for a moment, but Kyo ignored it. "Besides, the last time I checked, we hated spending time with one another. Stupid rat."

"It's a precaution," Yuki said coldly. "If a fangirl sees me standing here by myself, they're liable to come up and talk to me. Not so much if I'm with you."

"Why don't you just go to sick bay? Isn't that what you're meant to be doing? Pretending to be sick, you attention seeker?"

"Do shut up," Yuki snapped, now looking rather irritated. "I don't need advice from you on what to do."

"Whatever. Come if you want, I really couldn't care less about what you do." Shoving his hands in his pockets, Kyo continued on towards the office. After a moment, Yuki followed.

Ignore ignore, Kyo thought pointlessly.

Yuki cleared his throat. "About yesterday..."

So much for ignoring him. Why the hell would he bring that up? I thought we were both trying to forget about it! "What? Nothing happened yesterday, damn rat!" Kyo growled.

Yuki's eyebrows gracefully ascended and descended. "I was just going to say that maybe we shouldn't practice outside from now on! If Shigure saw something like what happened the other day... well, I'm sure you can imagine what sort of ideas he would get."

Kyo felt heat rising in his face and furiously returned to looking at his shoelaces, kicking a piece of discarded rubbish out of his way as he walked. "Y-yeah... well, who says we're even gonna practice at home again? If you ask me, we've done more than enough practice! Let's just leave the practice for school! And even if we did practice at home, nothing like what happened yesterday will happen again because what happened yesterday was a freaking accident and the same accident rarely happens twice in a row! And even if it did happen again-"

"You're rambling," Yuki interrupted with a sigh.

Kyo glowered at him and marched into the office, emerging a few moments later with the paper."I'm going back to class now!" he announced, then stormed off, not bothering to wait and see what Yuki was going to do next.

Damn rat. Fucking damn rat. Bloody hell, he's so bloody pretentious. Just being near him makes me so bloody annoyed. I can't believe I even considered the possibility that I didn't hate him.

"Back from school, I see!" Shigure declared, looking up from where he had been scribbling on his notepad, standing hunched before his new heater.

"Obviously!" Kyo kicked his shoes off and stamped into the room, heading for the staircase. "And turn the damn heater off! Geez! If you leave it on all day, it'll overheat and burn the whole house down!"

"No! My lovely heater would never harm us!" Shigure tossed his notepad to the side and embraced the appliance, ignoring the fact that his clothing was starting to curl and smoke from the intense heat caused by his close proximity. "Don't listen to that nasty Kyo, my darling heater... I know you'd never burn us..."

Yuki sweat dropped as he stepped into the house. Talking to inanimate objects is a sure sign that he's going mad...

"Where's Tohru, then? The house feels so empty without that beautiful little flower-"

"She's over at her friend's house, studying," Yuki replied, watching as Kyo vanished up the stairs. The rat sat down on the couch, pulling off his jumper. "Much as I hate to agree with the stupid cat, I must say... Shigure, please turn off that heater. It's stifling in here."

"Ohh... well, only because you asked so nicely!" Shigure pouted, but flicked the heater off before plonking himself on the couch beside Yuki. The rat glared at him before shifting sideways slightly in an attempt to retain some personal space.

"Hey! Hey, Yuki!" Shigure piped up suddenly.


"Tomorrow I have to go to the main house for the night," Shigure said. "And I can't exactly leave you three alone, now can I?"

"I'm sure we're old enough to take care of ourselves for one night," Yuki sighed. "Besides, you've left us alone before."

"I don't trust you!" Shigure grinned, although Yuki noticed it looked slightly forced. "I can't leave my delicate little flower alone with two big, rough boys like yourself and Kyo-kun-"

"You are not one to talk," Yuki retorted.

"Besides, you two might destroy my walls and my doors- or worse, my new heater!" By now, obviously fake tears were streaming down Shigure's face. "I can't bear the thought of what will happen if I leave you all alone here for a whole niiiight...!"

"Geez, get to the point already," Kyo snapped, coming down the stairs.

"Ah... well, who shall I leave to babysit you three?" Shigure sat up straighter and wiped his eyes. "You have your pick of any babysitter you want! Aaya? Tori? Ooh, how about Rit-chan?"

"Moron," Kyo muttered, flopping down to sit cross legged near the table. "You know asking Ritsu to 'babysit' us will only end up causing more chaos in your precious house."

"So you'd prefer that I ask Ayame?"

"No," Yuki said firmly, giving the dog a black look.

"Well, it'll have to be Tori then!" Shigure jumped up from the couch and pranced across the room, almost tripping over the still-seated Kyo. "I'll call him right now and ask!"

"I doubt he'll be pleased," Kyo murmured.

"Nah! He's the one who's been pestering me to come to the main house anyway!" Shigure remarked. "Besides, he can't refuse a friend in need! Now, don't you two do anything bad while I'm not here to keep an eye on you!" Though his remark had a distinctly suggestive tone to it, Yuki noticed that his eyes were fixed on the scowling Kyo.

And, once again, Shigure and the stupid cat continue to keep me in the dark, Yuki thought sourly. Not wanting to wait around and hear Shigure blathering on the phone to Hatori, he picked up his school bag and headed upstairs to his room. And so begins the daily routine of life. Study, eat, sleep, school, study, eat, sleep, school...

Kyo was bored.

He couldn't be bothered studying. The words were starting to swim around in his head, and he was sure if he tried to load any more information into his brain, the whole thing would blow up. I have reached my maximum learning capacity for this day. Now what?

His arm itched again. It was hard to scratch it with the bandages in the way, and he idly wondered whether he could take them off yet. He found that he had started avoided looking at his arms, even when he had long sleeves on.

Shigure, sitting on the couch next to him and still scrawling away at his notebook, glanced over.

"Shouldn't you be studying, Kyo?"

"I've already studied."

"It never hurts to study more! The more you study, the more you learn! The more you learn, the more intelligent you will be! The more intelligent you are, the more people will look up to you! The more people look up to you, the more girls will think you are attractive! The more-"

"Okay, okay, I get the point!" Kyo interrupted. "I'm too tired to study right now."

"Gasp! Go take a nap then!" Shigure tapped the cat on the head with the end of his pen, drawing a flinch and a scowl. "In fact, you can sleep right here on the couch! This is a very comfortable couch, don't you think?"

"I know you just want to draw something on my face while I'm sleeping," Kyo snapped, waving Shigure's pen away from him. "Why are you talking to me? You're just using me as a distraction so you can stop working! Keep working!"

"Fiiine..." Shigure chewed on his pen for a moment, scanning his eyes over the notebook. "Wah! I can't do it! All the ideas I originally had have shriveled up, leaving my mind empty! This, Kyo, this lack of activity and pointless rambling, this is the horror that is writer's block!"

"Oh, the horror," Kyo said mildly, bored of Shigure's pointless prattle but too lazy to get off the couch and go somewhere else.

"Help me, Kyo! Save me from the writer's block!" Shigure threw the notepad at the cat, who caught it on instinct.

"Write something!" Shigure thrust the pen at Kyo, who took it, avoiding touching the area that the dog had been chewing.

"Umm, what? What am I meant to write?"

"Just continue on from the notes I've been making! I'm not sure what should happen next!" Shigure sighed and leaned back, folding his arms behind his head and crossing his legs. "I think I need a young mind to help me gain some inspiration for my work! You're closer to the age of the characters than I am, thus you will be able to think of new ideas!"

"Uhh." Kyo squinted at what Shigure had written so far, struggling to make out the looping handwriting.

Girl decides that she prefers boy's brother.

Boy still thinks girls is in love with him.

Brother thinks boy has broken up with girl.

While talking to brother, girl also gets idea that boy has broken up with her.

Girl decides to go out with brother instead.

Boy is paired with other boy (who shall be called boy#2 for now so that I don't get confused) for a school project involving dancing.

Kyo's brow furrowed, and he glared over at Shigure, who was whistling innocently while staring at the blank screen of the television.

Suspicious, Kyo turned back to the notepad.

Boy finds out about girl and brother.

Boy confides in boy#2 about his personal problems.

Boy#2 listens sympathetically and comforts him.

Boy finds himself falling for boy#2 and asks him out.

Boy#2 agrees.

Boy and boy#2 fall in love, go on a date and return to boy's house.

Boy and boy#2 have hot-


"Hee hee! Do you like it?" Shigure asked cheekily, shooting Kyo a sly sidelong glance. "I drew inspiration from nearby sources!"

Furiously clicking the pen, Kyo scribbling at the bottom of the notepad before throwing it back at the dog. "Pervert! I can't believe you... actually I can believe you wrote something as sickening as this because you are a corrupt, disgusting-"

"Hmm, let's see! Kyo, what language were you writing in?" Shigure peered at Kyo's addition to the notepad. "I can't decipher your handwriting! Does this say boy#2 thrusts-"

"Damn dog!" Kyo snatched the notepad from Shigure and tore out the page. "Since you have obviously lost your ability to read, let me tell you: it says boy#2 viciously murders his sicko cousin. Let me describe the death scene. First he impales said cousin's throat on the sharp nib of his own ballpoint pen. Then he-"

"Hi Yuki!" Shigure said, waving madly at the rat, who had just entered the room. "Kyo here can't take a joooke."

"I don't call this a joke!" Kyo growled.

"Why so touchy?" Shigure inquired. "Unless... it's all true! This is what has actually been happening between the two of you! Oh, this is marvelous-"

"What?" Yuki asked, confused. "Actually, on second thought, I'd rather not know."

"Shall, we, dance! Dum dum dum!" Shigure hummed, waltzing up from the couch and into the kitchen with an imaginary partner. Kyo glared after him, crumpling the torn page in his clenched fist.

"What the hell are you staring at, damn rat?" he demanded as Yuki gave him a curious glance.

"I'm going out!" Shigure declared suddenly, walking out of the kitchen and pulled open the front door. "Tori agreed to take care of you, but only if I finished my manuscript... wah... Actually I finished it a while ago, I was just hiding it from my editor. But I'm gonna go hand it in to her right now!"

"I don't care what you're doing..." Kyo mumbled. I don't care about this. I don't care about that. What do I care about?


"Bye bye! Be good while I'm gone! Although if you wish to re-enact a scene from that novel I was planning-"

"Get out!" Kyo looked frantically around for something to throw at the insufferable dog, but by the time his fingers closed around an abandoned mug of tea on the nearby table, Shigure had already left.

There was a moment of silence after the dog's departure. These random moments of silence were really starting to wear on Kyo's nerves, and his skin prickled slightly. Yuki was just... standing there. Looking puzzled, as he hadn't been present for the revealing of Shigure's 'new novel idea'. After a minute or so, the puzzled look vanished and was replaced by the mask.

"...?" Kyo glared up at the ceiling, occasionally glancing at Yuki from the corner of his eye.

...his expression... always the same...'s so blank...


"Show some expression, you damn rat! Otherwise your face muscles will freeze and they'll be stuck like that forever!" Kyo yelled finally, jumping up from the couch and facing Yuki with a glare.

The eyebrows rose slowly. "And if you continue scowling like that, your face muscles will freeze into that ugly scowl," the rat replied calmly.

"Gah! I can't stand you."

"The feeling is mutual."

"Damn rat."

"Stupid cat."

Reciprocated scowling.

"I hate you," Kyo muttered eventually, and he was so used to saying those three words that they had lost all meaning for him. I hate you more than I hate my life.

"I hate you more."

"I hate you the most!"

"I still hate you more," Yuki said. "Now, if you have nothing more important to say to me, I will return to studying."

"Teacher's pet."

"Unlike you, I care about my grades," the rat uttered, and for some reason, it seemed to Kyo as though he was taunting him. Unlike you, I have a future. Unlike you, I'm not a disgusting monster that's going to be locked up after graduation. You can't beat me. You're not good enough. You'll never be good enough.

"Damn... rat..."

"I'm starting to think your vocabulary consists of only those two words."

I'm smarter than you. I'm better than you. Everybody loves me more than you. Nobody loves you. Everyone hates you. I hate you the most.

"Why are you just standing there? Stupid cat."

Everyone hates the cat.

No one cares about the cat.

The cat should just die.

No one would care.


Kyo flinched as a light blow landed on the side of his face, knocking him out of his reverie. He glared at Yuki, confused – the rat could hit way harder than that... what, is he holding back on me or something? Am I not worth his time?

Of course not... I'm the cat.

"-zoning out?"

"Eh?" Kyo looked up again, the glare still on his face. Yuki was frowning slightly, his blank expression replaced by a hint of something that sort-of-vaguely resembled concern.

It's not concern. No one cares about the cat.

It's contempt.

I hate him.

"Damn rat! I hate you!" And the next thing he knew, he was letting the rage take over, throwing punch after punch at Yuki, blood roaring in his ears and not thinking about anything except hitting the rat, beating the rat.

Every punch was neatly blocked or deflected, and that just made him angrier, and he swung another blow, almost missed, then suddenly felt it connect with Yuki's shoulder, and for a moment he was stunned.

I hit Yuki.

I hit the damn rat.

And that one moment that he stood, slightly surprised that he had managed to land a blow (albeit a slightly-retarded, almost-miss one), that one short moment was enough for Yuki to knock him off his feet and send him skidding backwards, sprawled on the floor in a rather undignified manner.

He blinked up at Yuki as the rat crouched over him, and this time the look in his cousin's eyes was very clearly contempt.

"That didn't really hurt," Yuki informed him. "But I suppose you should be congratulated. After what, ten years? You've finally managed to touch me. I guess miracles really do happen."

"Shut up, damn rat," Kyo snapped. Of course he'd put me down. Everyone does.

He still won.

He always wins, dammit.

Then he snapped back to attention at a sigh from Yuki, and realized that the rat had been saying something that he hadn't heard, being too wrapped up in his own thoughts. What's with me lately? I don't normally have my head in the clouds like this...

"You're bleeding," Yuki repeated, saying it quite slowly, as though he was repeating it for the second time around (presumably, Kyo hadn't heard it the first time).

"Ah. Crap." Kyo lifted one arm carefully. And that was my favorite shirt, too. And here I was thinking that they were healing.

Getting to his feet and wincing as a newly-forming bruise on his hip twinged, he marched past Yuki, stomped upstairs to the bathroom and flung open the cupboard door.

No first aid kit.

"Confounded dog. Why the hell would he hide it?" Kyo slammed the door shut and strode angrily out of the room, glancing up and down the hall. ...I don't have any left in my room, either. Dammit.

He swung around and marched towards the stairs, bumping straight into Yuki, who was coming up.

There was a precarious moment as they teetered on the edge of the top step, quite literally hanging in the balance.

Then they toppled backwards, hitting a few steps on the way down and desperately clutching for something to break their fall, ending up sprawled on the landing with more than a few bruises.

Kyo coughed a few times, the wind knocked out of him. Shit. Damn. Fuck. Shit. Shit.

The mental swearing increased tenfold as he realized that he and the rat – that damned rat – were in almost the exact same position they had been in near twenty-four hours ago.

Kyo groaned and let his head fall back to thump against the floor, wincing slightly as a bruise on his skull protested. Yuki looked kind of disoriented – as would any one who had suddenly fallen down a flight of stairs – but it wouldn't be long before he realized their situation.

Kill me now, Kyo thought, and wasn't too surprised to find that he actually meant it. I really, really hate my life...

A cough and a groan from Yuki caught his attention, and he felt his face starting to blush furiously. No. No. Must control facial temperature. Just tell him to get the hell off you already!

"Damn rat, get- !"

He caught a quick flash of Yuki's eyes, once again with no discernible expression- contempt?/concern?/horror/hatred/want?

The next thing he knew, their faces were much closer together.

Much closer.

So close, in fact, that their lips were practically pressed together.

No, Kyo thought, in a frozen state of mixed horror and what-the-hell-is-happening.

We are totally not kissing, we're just... so close together that our lips are touching. What the fuck, Yuki! What the bloody fuck are you-?

"Egah!" Yuki pulled back suddenly, eyes impossibly wide. Apparently just noticing the fact that he had just pressed his lips very close against the lips of his cousin.

Kyo's mouth opened and shut in a rather realistic imitation of a fish, a thousand thoughts (most of them curses) welling up in his mind but no words actually making it out of his throat.

Yuki jumped backwards, stumbling slightly before straightening up. He stared at his hand before bringing it up to his mouth, touching his lips disbelievingly.

Kyo started to sit up, still unable to speak, when suddenly the rat dashed past him and flung open the front door, running out.

...fuck, Kyo thought, no other thought coherent in his mind.

What the hell just happened?

Sorry about the random Shakespeare at the start ^^ my friend and I have been arguing over Hamlet (or something) and I just saw that quote and was like corn... cause I had corn for lunch that day. Only I think it's a different sort of corn. Anyway, I'll stop rambling and be CONCISE!

- Out of character Yuki. I apologise for this. I have suffered terrible writer's block and do not like how this chapter came out.

- Is it moving along too fast? We've had about nine chapters building up to the kiss, and I thought this was a good spot... cliched fall-and-kiss, sorry about that. Tell me if this was too sudden.

- Not really related to the story, but I got a formspring account. The link's on my profile. You can ask me anything, (related or unrelated to Tactics, I don't mind!) and you can do it anonymously if you want. Feel free to suggest ideas up there as well.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it. Reviews and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated. I can't promise a speedy update, but I will try my hardest!

Thanks again.