Kakeru liked to think he was an open-minded guy.
UFOs? Totally real, though he hadn’t decided if they were aliens or top-secret government projects yet. Ghosts? Almost certainly real, and he was determined to see one...though maybe at a distance. The Yeti? Kakeru would give up all the money stuffed under his mattress for it to be real.
But this? This was...more difficult to process.
When he first woke up in a strange room, Kakeru simply assumed he’d sleepwalked into the neighbor’s apartment again. But he knew Mr. Miyako used a futon, and Kakeru was definitely in a bed right now. A really nice bed. Had he been kidnapped by rich people?
Maybe Komaki was playing a prank, to get back at him for filling her locker with plastic cockroaches last week. In his defense, it had been really funny and she was definitely overreacting. If they had been real cockroaches, then he could believe that kidnapping was justified.
Before Kakeru could ponder further, his stomach growled loudly. He decided there was no use in hiding away in this (super comfortable) bed. It was morning and he was hungry.
Hauling himself upright, Kakeru cast a quick glance around the room. It was rather sparse, no posters or photographs or knick-knacks to liven it up, but there were books and clothes scattered across the floor, indicating that it was lived in. There was a sliding door that led out to a balcony, and Kakeru considered climbing out that way, but decided against it; if this was a prank, then Komaki was probably downstairs. Maybe she’d make him breakfast.
As quietly as he could, Kakeru tip-toed down out of the room and down the hall until he found a staircase. He crept to the first floor and paused on the landing, the sounds of voices and clanking cookware drifting from an open door. None of them sounded like Komaki, but Kakeru caught a whiff of mackerel and miso and his stomach growled again. Maybe his kidnappers would share.
With a healthy dose of caution, Kakeru peered into the room from which the voices came, and his heart skipped a beat. Tohru Honda, of all people, was serving breakfast to some older man, blushing as he praised her wifely prowess. Kakeru’s eyes widened in disbelief. Was Honda married to this guy? Did Yuki know about this?
“Oh, good morning, Kyo!” Tohru called as someone else entered the room from outside, wiping sweat from his forehead. “Breakfast is ready, if you’re hungry.”
Kyo Sohma grunted in response, plopping down next to Honda and taking the proffered rice she held out to him. Did Kyo...live here? With Honda and her sugar daddy? Maybe he was the guy’s brother? Son? Was he Honda’s step-son?
Surely, if Yuki knew this he would’ve told Kakeru, right?
“Ah! Yuki, good morning! You’re up early.”
Honda was looking right at him, eyes bright and cheery. Kakeru flinched, then turned to look for Yuki. If he was here, he’d be able to tell Kakeru just what was happening. Had Komaki enlisted him? She didn’t even know Yuki.
But there was no one behind Kakeru, and no one down the hall. He turned back to see Honda looking at him with concern, smile faltering. “Yuki?” She asked again. “Are you feeling okay?”
Kakeru frowned. “Who are you talking to?” Had Yuki turned invisible? Had Honda lost her mind? Had Kakeru lost his mind?
“Um, you?” Honda stepped closer, wringing her hands together. “Yuki, are you sick? Should we call Hatori?”
Kakeru took a step back, no longer finding any of this amusing. “What are you talking about, Honda? I’m not Yuki.”
Honda’s eyes went wide, and she looked back at the older man. The guy, to his credit, just raised his eyebrows in interest. Kyo didn’t seem to be paying attention at all.
“Yuki...what’s going on?” Honda asked, reaching out to grab Kakeru’s sleeve. He hadn’t noticed before, but he was wearing a silky nightshirt, far different than the ratty pajamas he fell asleep in. “Is this some sort of prank?”
“I should be asking you that!” Kakeru shook her off him, planting his hands on his hips. “Why do you keep calling me Yuki? Where am I? Did Komaki drag you all into this kidnapping prank? Are you married ?”
Honda sputtered in response, waving her hands around frantically. Her (possible) husband stood and came up behind her, tapping at his chin with a long, elegant finger. He studied Kakeru a moment, then asked, “What’s your name?”
Finally . “Kakeru Manabe,” he said, then added, “I’m Yuki’s VP.” He jabbed his thumb into his chest, smiling proudly.
“Oh!” Honda stopped her hysterical hand-waving. “You’re...Manabe? But you…”
“Have you looked in a mirror today?” The older guy asked.
Kakeru shook his head. Maybe Komaki had dyed his hair? Or drawn on his face? Ooh , she was so dead when he got his hands on her. He was going to find as many real, live cockroaches as he could and put them in her underwear drawer.
Honda and the old guy led Kakeru to the nearest bathroom, and even Kyo followed behind looking mildly interested. That, more than anything else, made Kakeru nervous.
Honda flipped on the bathroom light and moved aside for Kakeru to enter. She gave him a sweet smile, and guilt panged deep in his chest, dull, like an old wound that never quite healed. He’d been cruel to her, that day, and she probably didn’t realize he was the same boy who’d hated her so fiercely. Kakeru didn’t deserve her kindness.
With a deep breath, he entered the bathroom, expecting the worst. But nothing could have prepared him for this.
Because there, in the mirror, gazing back at Kakeru, was the face of Yuki Sohma. He raised a hand, and Yuki raised a hand. He touched the glass and so did Yuki. He ran his other hand through his hair and yanked hard , watching as Yuki yelped in pain as he did. Nervously, Kakeru glanced down at the hair he’d just pulled out.
It was gray.
“Well,” Kakeru said, looking over at Honda and the men behind her. “I think I’m gonna pass out now.”
The last thing he saw was Honda rushing toward him, arms outstretched, before everything went dark.