Yuki woke with a start, panting hard and with a slight headache. But the pain between his brows was not nearly enough to distract him from the images racing through his head. He was eternally grateful that he had not been made to share a room tonight, for the poor rat didn't know if he could have faced anyone in his current condition. He was covered in sweat, his mind was reeling, and he had a very pointed problem that bordered on the painful. There was no denying it anymore, not even to himself. Yuki Sohma, prince of their high-school and best martial-artist around, had an undeniable attraction that refused to remain just physical… for a man.

The young rat shook his head to try and clear it of the images of strong arms and sweaty bodies, but to no real avail. So instead he sat in the most un-comfortable position he could manage, and searched his mind for the most disgusting thing he could come up with. Hmm, Kyo with a girl? Good, but not quite enough. Umm… Shigure looking up porn? Not at all unexpected, and just got him thinking of what he might be watching. No help there. Ayame in a mini-skirt. That did it. Nothing would have kept him up through that thought.

With his body back under his own control, Yuki got up and looked around to judge the time. It was a little earlier than he usually had to get up, but not by much. Tohru should be up already, and Kyo would be up on the roof again, but everyone else would likely be asleep. With that in mind, Yuki decided that a shower was in order. He picked up a clean set of clothes, and headed out into the hall, picking his way quietly so as not to wake anyone up. He needed some quiet time to think without people trying to ask him what was going on. He appreciated the fact that they cared, and were concerned, but this was something he had to work out for himself. He couldn't let anyone else try to decide this sort of thing for him; it just didn't work that way. Though it seemed as though his body had made its decision already, his mind just had to catch up.

As Yuki let the water wash away the worry and tension he had built up in the short trip down the hall, he reflected on what had happened the night before. He hadn't really had that much to drink, though he should have recognized that there was something funny about that so-called 'soda.' The young rat spared a moment of irritation at himself, but looking back, it was probably all for the better. If he hadn't had the drink to loosen his tongue and relax his mind, he might not have even admitted to himself what he wanted. He remembered in vivid detail just how much he enjoyed just having Haru's arms around him, supporting him and holding him. Yuki sighed, finally admitting that he would much rather have those strong arms and firm, flat chest holding him than the softest and most lovely lady in all the world. He had never really been interested in any of the girls around him, so why should this be so much of a jump?

Now clean, dressed, and relaxed, Yuki wandered out of the small room, only to run head-long into the object of his newly admitted affections. With a distinct flush to his cheeks, Yuki looked right at Haru for the first time in days. Aside from the little trip down loopy lane, the young rat had firmly avoided looking Haru in the eye. Only now did he realize that it was because it would be far too easy for him to get lost in their silvered depths.

"Hey Yuki, how are you feeling?" Haru's words snapped Yuki out of his semi-trance and reminded him that he had a lot of explaining to do.

"O-oh, I'm fine, thank you. Look, I want to – apologize – for my behavior last night." Yuki said, blushing redder in embarrassment for the blunt show he had put on. "I'm afraid I said and did much more than I probably should have, particularly with others around…"

"Don't worry, I don't mind at all. I was more worried about you. You don't have a headache do you? Nauseous?" Haru's brows gathered together in concern and he frowned in a way that was rather endearing to the young rat.

"No, no, I am quite all right. I just- I was hoping I could talk to you, perhaps somewhere away from curious ears and obnoxious family?" Yuki hoped he didn't sound too pathetic, but he really needed to get this off his chest. He knew Haru wouldn't judge him, and would probably be all too excited to hear his little revelation. He just wasn't sure he wanted anyone else around when he finally admitted to actually wanting their act to become a reality.

"Sure, it's not like we have anything to do today. Why don't we take a walk somewhere? I'm sure we can talk in the woods without anyone bothering us." Haru just smiled, completely relaxed, and content, now that he knew that Yuki wasn't suffering for the minor mix-up the night before.

"That sounds perfect, I know just the place." Yuki was relieved that he hadn't been asked any questions. He would much rather talk about this when and where he chose. It was hard enough for him to allow his emotions to take over, but he thought Haru understood this. He seemed perfectly willing to take as much time as needed, and Yuki was eternally grateful.

Haru wrote a note to the rest of the house, telling them that he was taking Yuki in to town. No explanation, just that they were going; he'd let them come to their own conclusions. After all, they wouldn't think of much worse than what had actually been said last night. Yuki was always the 'proper' one…

The two of them walked out into the crisp morning air with an oddly comfortable silence falling between them. Yuki lead them down a path that he knew very well, but had only ever shared with one other person. Yes he was nervous, but at the same time, it just seemed like the right thing to do. So onward they went, until Yuki came up to his little garden patch, and sat down on the little bench that he had brought out here. Lately, he often wound up out here longer than it took to do what the garden needed, so he had put the bench here so he could sort out which vegetables had been ruined by insects or weather, and which were edible. Granted, there weren't many of the first, but it gave his hands something to do while his mind pondered his erratic life. For now though, it made a perfect place for the two of them to sit and talk.

Yuki motioned for Haru to sit down before he began, taking a deep, calming breath. Haru went ahead and sat down, a look of worry starting to cross his face. This was obviously something important to Yuki, so he'd do his best to understand, but he was worried that their little charade was putting too much pressure on the older boy. The rat already had so much to deal with that Haru was absolutely certain that he was going to be asked to stop the act.

"You know, you're only the second person I've ever brought here?" That one caught Haru completely off guard. Where was Yuki going with this? Haru just nodded, having figured that this was where Yuki spent a lot of his thinking time. It would make sense for him to not just show anyone.

"The other one is more like a sister, or even a mother to me. I think you can figure that one out." The small smile that crossed Yuki's face gave Haru a moment of hope that this might actually be something he wanted to hear.

"So, I guess you are wondering why I would bring you out here. I know I would be. Well, I've had a lot of things going through my mind lately, and you have been at the center of most of them." Yuki put up his hand to stall Haru's response. "Not in a bad way either. That's what's had me so confused actually. I've been thinking about our little – act – a lot lately, and the more I do, the less it feels like an act. What has been bothering me the most is the fact that that does not bother me at all. I- I think-" He took a shaky breath, "I think I might actually be gay."

That last was said in such quiet tones that Haru almost didn't hear it. The young rat's face was pointed down as if in shame, and his ears were bright red. For his part, Haru didn't know what to say. Yes, he had hoped that something like this might happen, but now that had, he could hardly believe what he was hearing. He knew that Yuki HATED feeling so different from the others at the school, and this would only make things worse. But then again, he'd been going along with it before, so it really wouldn't be too much of a change. For the moment though, it was clear that Yuki needed his support more than ever.

"I'll admit to liking this idea; but I want to know that you're absolutely sure about this. I don't want you doing something you're going to regret later. This is not something you chase blindly. I mean, you could be bi, like me. Or it could be just that I've been there for you, and not be attraction at all. I don't want to take advantage of you Yuki. In fact that's the LAST thing I would ever want to do." Haru said all this while putting one arm carefully over Yuki's shoulders in a gesture of support and caring. He didn't quite understand the flush that had come over Yuki's face in the midst of his words, but he had the feeling that all would be explained soon.

"Thank you Haru, but like I said, I have been doing a LOT of thinking lately. Most of it was inspecting myself and my responses to those around me. Every time one of the girls at school would ask me out, I would turn them down for obvious reasons, but there was also a sense of relief every time I did, as though I was escaping a trap of some kind. None of them have ever appealed to me. As for your argument about attraction…" The young rat's face turned about thirty shades of red in that one moment before he continued; "I would not be so quick to say that it was not there."

Haru looked at the young rat, now about the shade of a ripe tomato, and headed in the direction of a pickled beet. What was he supposed to say to that? Yuki very rarely let anyone see what was going on in his mind or hear, and such an out-pouring of emotion was almost overwhelming. Finally, the young ox decided on putting a light, chaste kiss on the top of Yuki's head.

"Yuki, you know I've always loved you, and I am completely thrilled that you think of me in the same light. I really don't know what to say, except that I don't want you to rush into anything. I'll be here as long as you need—" Haru suddenly found himself cut off by surprisingly fierce and hungry lips seeking his own. So caught off-guard by the bold move, the younger boy could do nothing but return that kiss with equal fervor, having longed for this day for years.

That precious moment passed all too soon for either of them, only ending when they were both suffering the effects of having closed off their airways. Haru could only sit and smile; cherishing the memory, and savoring the taste of Yuki on his lips. For his part, Yuki looked as though he had just run at full speed for a full mile: his whole face was flushed, and he was practically panting for air.
"I-I'm sorry for interrupting you, but I needed you to know just how much I meant what I said. I've waited long enough, and denied myself something that was standing right in front of my face. I allowed my fear to rule me. All I've ever wanted was to be normal; to be able to talk freely with people and let my heart rule like the people at school do. But with you I can talk, and my heart is telling me that this is a good thing. So I think I want to make this official. Hatsaharu Sohma, will you go out with me?"

Whatever Haru had been expecting, it wasn't that. He was so caught off-guard that at first, all he could do was stare at the man looking pleadingly at him. It wasn't until that face started to fall, looking hurt and confused, that the young ox was able to break his trance and pull Yuki into a tight hug, then backing up so that he could look at the young man that had just made his biggest dream come true.

"Absolutely. I wouldn't dream of saying no to you, not if this is something you really want. I've been hoping you would say that for years. " Haru smiled at Yuki, letting all his joy and love transform his face until he practically glowed.

That look of pure joy was enough to give Yuki the courage to do what he'd only managed while drunk so far. Yuki kissed the young ox, letting all of his pent-up emotions go in one torrential storm. The force of this kiss was enough to knock Haru off balance and off of the bench, taking Yuki with him. They were now covered in dirt and dust, but neither seemed to care; the raw emotions carrying them to a tight embrace that, even with their clothing fully in place, left no doubt as to what they would both rather be doing. Haru even dared enough to slide his hand under Yuki's shirt, letting the silky skin slide beneath his fingertips. This alone was enough to cause the rat to gasp and shudder with pleasure. Never had he felt anything quite so exquisite, and he didn't want it to stop.


That one syllable was enough to snap the two young men out of their explorations to turn towards the intruder. There stood a frozen Tohru with basket in hand, looking thoroughly embarrassed and surprised. Yuki, for his part, was even redder in the face than she was, while Haru would do no more than look far too content. After a few moments, Yuki decided that it was up to him to break this awkward silence.

"Um, Miss Honda. I am, uh, very sorry you had to see that little… um, display." With each pause, his face grew redder and redder, until Haru was seriously afraid that the poor rat would pass out.

"Oh, no, don't be! I guess I wasn't thinking! I mean I know you come out here to be alone, so bringing you a lunch wasn't that smart anyway, and you've got your vegetables so that isn't really a problem, but it's my fault that I came out here. It's your secret base, not mine, so I really shouldn't have been here without asking you first, and I know you've had a lot to think about, so I shouldn't have tried to—"

"It's all right Tohru, this was a little unexpected for us as well" Haru said, cutting of the lightning-fast flood of words. As he spoke, he began disentangling himself from his new boyfriend. "I too apologize for any discomfort, we had simply fallen that way and, well, you saw the result of that. I would ask that you not say anything until Yuki here is ready to say it himself."

Tohru for her part blinked for a moment before beginning on another torrent of words and assurances that she could be counted upon. Haru really didn't care much past the fact that she wasn't going to out-right tell anyone that it wasn't a ruse anymore. Goodness knows that cat was likely to spit a hairball, but the only one he was really worried about was Yuki. The young rat was currently looking at him with a look of mixed gratitude and embarrassment that was extremely endearing. The next words that came out of Yuki's mouth were what stunned Haru the most though.

"Breathe Miss Honda. There is no need for so much assurance. As it stands, I have finally decided to be honest with myself, and I think it will not be too long before I decide to be honest with the rest of the household. I simply ask that you hold off until I have gathered my courage again. I am sure you understand if this is difficult for me to say to the others, even if I have been deceiving the school until this point with just this scenario. It is different when it is truly how you feel."

Tohru's reply was simple enough to surprise the young couple into complete stunned silence once again. All she said before turning to go back to the house was "Even if you don't want to tell anyone, just promise not to hurt each other, ok?"

As Tohru left the little garden, the two boys just stared at her retreating back, unsure what to say next. As the silence stretched, Yuki finally heaved a sigh, deliberately releasing all the tension he had been building since Tohru walked up on them.

"Well, I suppose it had to come out sooner or later." The young rat's simple statement didn't come with the resignation that Haru had expected, but rather a peace, and a relief that it was somewhat out of his hands.

"You know, she is able to keep a secret, obviously. You could probably hold off for a while." Haru didn't want to push his new boyfriend into anything he wasn't ready to do, so he offered this out, but it was fairly obvious that he would be perfectly happy to spread the word that it was official to the rest of the world if he could.

"No," Yuki responded. "This is something I need to do. If I cannot be honest with the ones that rescued me from the main house, then why am I even here? There is more than enough secrecy in my life. I refuse to force you to hide behind my lies too."

And there really wasn't anything that could be said to that.