Like Strawberries.

A small Fruits Basket ficlet by Oddzilla Productions. We apologize for the....

No, we don't. This is unapologetic fluff.

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I hate this curse.

The sudden vehemence of his own thought surprised Yuki. Of course he hated the curse. It was inconvenient at best, and at worst...well, it was hard to figure out what the worst part of it was. Having to erase memories when it was triggered in front of the wrong people, having to isolate himself (and not just himself, the whole family did it to at least some degree) from others, having to live with the fact that he couldn't....

"Yuki-kun? Is something wrong?"

Tohru's voice (she sounded like an angel) shook him out of his reverie. Yuki blinked, saw the spade in his hand that he'd been uselessly holding like an idiot for the past few minutes, then looked up to see her concerned face looking at him.

"No, no...my mind wandered for a few moments." He smiled in a reassuring manner, something that he was rather good at, and resumed digging a small hole in order to transplant a seedling to the edge of the garden.

They were trying some fruit trees--apple, in this case. It would take some time before it bore fruit, of course, but if anything, Yuki was a patient man.

Very patient.

I really hate this curse.

He stabbed the spade into the ground with uncharacteristic viciousness. Which was to say, it was only slightly vicious, as he wasn't very vicious at all to start with, and there's only a certain degree of viciousness that one can display when on your knees, wearing gardening gloves and a straw hat to block out the brightly shining sun overhead, while shoving a small and unthreatening spade into the earth.

"That should do," he announced, as he took off the hat to wipe his brow. The hat had been dug out of Shigure's closet, and was a bit battered. The Love Me Yuki Fanclub would have a collective aneurysm to see their elegant Prince wearing something so uncouth, so common as that. Well, it hadn't been his idea, anyway. No one would have dared to root around Shigure's closet other than Shigure himself, who insisted that his younger cousin would certainly get sunburn or heatstroke without some protection from the glaring rays.

"Oh! Here you go, Yuki-kun." Tohru was already gathering up one of the seedlings from the tray next to her and shuffling over to his side with it. She also wore a straw hat, the sibling to his own. The difference was, it looked good on her, just as much as his looked silly on him.

"Thank you, Honda-san." He accepted the seedling, eyed it critically. The tiny leaves were pale green, the branches pliable. Good. Then, with a master's skill, he lowered the seedling into place, and proceeded to pack the sides of the hole, then the top, over the roots, with dirt. "Is that all the apple seedlings?"

"Ah...yes. All five of them. I was starting on one for the cherry seedlings." She indicated the hole back where she had been just earlier. "I'm not nearly as skilled as Yuki-kun, though...."

The hole was a little larger than necessary, and somewhat ragged. But he smiled. "Practice makes perfect, Honda-san. Keep at it. I'll start the next one." He lifted the hat onto his head again, and walked over to the next mark, and started digging.

I hate this curse because I can't hold her.

"Yuki-kun! Are you all right?"

"...ah. Yes, Honda-san; don't worry, my grip wasn't good." He reached over and picked up the spade, which he'd accidentally flung away.

"Your face is a little flushed, though...maybe we should rest for a little?"

She's very observant.

"A break would be nice." He ducked his head quickly, removed the hat, and fanned himself with it a bit as he stood up. "It's getting warmer these days."

"Spring is almost over. I wonder how hot the summer will be."

They sat down beneath the shade of a tall tree on the edge of the clearing, and gazed at the garden together.

"It's growing very well, Yuki-kun."

"Yes. I think we should harvest some of the vegetables when we're done with the trees. Make sure the later crops have some room to grow."

Tohru clapped her hands together. "I'll make some salad for dinner tonight. A fresh garden salad!"

This inspired a light chuckle in him. "That would be very good, Honda-san." He looked at the garden again. "And the strawberries will be ripe soon."

"Oh, I can't wait! I love strawberries."

And there was that smile again.

He knew he shouldn't stare, but he couldn't help it. She was not, perhaps, a supermodel. She wouldn't grace the cover of a fashion magazine anytime soon. But she was, nevertheless, very pretty. Very pretty indeed, because he also knew that she was a pretty person inside. And that, he knew, was very rare indeed.

"Um...is there something on my face, Yuki-kun?"

Oops.

He blinked rapidly, trying to salvage the situation--and was saved. "Actually, yes...you have a smudge of dirt on your cheek." He pointed at said smudge, then to the same spot on his own face to show her where exactly, glad for the excuse and hoping that she wouldn't notice that the flush was back on his face.

"Oh!" She reached up to wipe the dirt off. Unfortunately, she hadn't taken off her gloves, and this only succeeded in putting more dirt on.

He laughed again; this, too, he couldn't help. "Best take your gloves off before trying that, Honda-san." And before he knew it, he'd reached out with his (de-gloved) hand and brushed the mark off her face.

When his brain caught up with his body, it was actually not too difficult for him not to panic. The motion had come so naturally, and she hadn't drawn away. Perhaps her eyes had widened slightly, and there was definitely a bit of heat beneath his fingers as her cheeks now reddened slightly. Still, he withdrew the hand swiftly and sat back. "That's better."

"Thank you, Yuki-kun." And she gave a slightly nervous-sounding giggle.

Her lips are like strawberries.

"Let's finish getting the cherry trees planted, shall we?" he said, quickly standing up. She blinked up at him, looking a bit nonplussed at the abruptness of his motion. He smiled broadly down at her, then looked back toward the heart of the clearing. "I'm feeling much better now."

"Oh...all right!"

The next ten minutes were spent largely in silence that was actually rather companionable, though Yuki felt slightly awkward at first. Tohru appeared at ease, though, as she hummed a tune quietly--probably something her mother had taught her--so that let him relax.

This didn't last for him, unfortunately. Strawberries. Why did he think of that? Her lips weren't quite that red; almost no person's were without the aid of lipstick. But when she smiled earlier, he couldn't help but think of strawberries, like the ones now growing in the garden, though they wouldn't be that bright red color for a little while longer.

I wonder if they would taste as sweet--

Yuki took a deep breath and pressed a few fingers to his forehead, eyes tightly closed. This wasn't helping, this really wasn't helping. He had to push it out of his mind. He sighed, shook his head. There, that was better.

"Okay, I've finished the last one!" She smiled (don't look don't look) again, kneeling proudly over the seedling.

"Very good. That's all the planting for today, then. Let's gather up a harvest for tonight's dinner."

She nodded, started toward the far corner of the garden where the choicest crop was, then stopped. "Oh! Yuki-kun has some dirt on his face now." Tohru laughed, took off her gloves, and reached over to wipe off the dirt on his forehead, partially obscured by his hair.

No moment of panic, not this time either, but something else. He held still for her as she brushed off the marks on his face. Then, as she withdrew her hand, he caught it in his own. Somewhere along the way, he'd taken off his gloves, though he didn't even realize it. Her skin was warm and soft, even with all the dishwashing and housework and gardening.

"...Yuki-kun?"

No alarm in her eyes, but a faint bit of surprise. This was, after all, a little unexpected. He couldn't blame her; he wasn't quite expecting to do this himself. Why had he done this?

"Honda-san, I...."

She only looked back at him inquisitively.

Those wide, innocent eyes, ones that he'd get lost in if he wasn't careful...framed by her long brown hair, hair that looked so very soft and shiny...there was that pert, cute nose of hers, set above those lips that were like strawberries in some indescribable manner that he couldn't quite understand, and he was still holding her hand, and now he was stepping closer to her, but she wasn't moving back, only standing there, and maybe she was stepping closer too, and leaning forward, and he was leaning forward, and then her face was obscured because this gray mist had come out of nowhere, obscuring his vision, damned mist, why was it hiding his angel from him and why was there this falling sensation now and--

Yuki squinted up from the heap of his clothing, now lying on the grass of the forest clearing. Tohru was crouching down now, looking apologetic and embarrassed and extremely nervous at the moment.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I...um, I...."

"It's all right, Honda-san. I just...mmm, I'm fine. Don't worry about it."

I really, really hate this curse.

But there was something about the way she was nervous, and he was nervous too, that made him feel a little better about the whole situation.

"It shouldn't take too long for me to change back, I think. And then we can gather up some vegetables."

"Okay, Yuki-kun."

Like strawberries, her smile was.

End.

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He'll manage to kiss her eventually. I'm sure of it.

Yuki and Tohru forever! Ha ha ha!