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Making Nice

Chapter Text

The alarm blared. It ruined the peaceful stillness of a late autumn morning. Kyo groaned. Snaked his hand out from underneath the warm covers. Turned it off. Got out of bed. Made his way to the bathroom to brush his teeth.7:00 AM on a Saturday in November. Bright and early. Time for his morning run. But first: breakfast.

Not bothering to change out of his pajamas, he finished in the bathroom and padded down the stairs, stopping on the second to last step when he heard voices. An angry conversation. He recognized one of the voices as that damn formar rat’s, but couldn’t place the other one. It was a woman’s.

Who the Hell thought it was a good idea to come for a visit this early in the morning?

Whatever. He freaking lived here and if whoever it was couldn’t handle seeing him in his pajamas that was their problem. Also, again, who was rude enough to come for a visit this early on a weekend?

He turned the corner and saw Yuki and a woman who looked a whole lot like Yuki. Oh. Must have been his mom. He snickered to himself. What had Golden Boy done that was so bad that his perfect mother was angry at him? Might be worth it to stick around and watch. See Yuki be taken down a peg for once. He dismissed the appealing idea almost as soon as he had it. Not his problem. Not his business.

Yuki’s back stiffened. He must’ve heard him. He turned around and glared at him. Kyo was tempted- really tempted- to snap something at him. But he’d been trying to be nicer to the formar rat. Not start as many verbal matches with him. Only ‘cause Tohru had asked him and Yuki to be nicer to each other, of course. Apparently, she wished that they could be friends one day. They’d pretended like it could happen when she’d asked, but both of them knew deep down it was never going to happen.

He raised his arms in a pacifist gesture, murmured “just getting breakfast before my run,” and walked past them to the kitchen. Grabbed some ingredients and turned on the stove. Put the kettle on to make some tea for Tohru for when she woke up.

Behind him, Yuki and his mom continued their conversation. And it was getting kind of hard to ignore them. Yuki’s mother wasn’t bothering to keep her voice down. Which was incredibly inconsiderate of her. Whatever. As long as she didn’t wake Tohru, he didn’t care.

“Really Yuki- these are the colleges you’re thinking of applying to?” Yuki’s mother hissed. “They’re all second rate colleges. None of them are especially prestigious, have particularly mentally challenging classes, or are hard to get into. They’re not appropriate choices for somebody who is one day going to take a leadership position in the Sohma clan.”

“I don’t want a leadership position in the Sohma clan. I don’t want to work for the Sohma clan at all! Never have. And these are all great colleges!”

Kyo stopped what he was doing for a second. Wait. Really? The Golden Boy had no desire to take over? That was unexpected.

“Don’t be selfish Yuki. The Sohma clan is depending on you to take over certain operations in the future. That’s final. And as for your claim that these are good colleges-” She scoffed mockingly, “No Sohma member has ever attended any of these colleges. No Sohma clan member would ever consider going to one of these colleges. They’re embarrassing choices.”

“Just because no Sohma member has attended them doesn’t mean they’re bad choices. They have great agricultural, business, and marketing programs!”

Kyo turned the stove off, having finished making his breakfast. Slipped it onto a plate and leaned against the wall to eat. Took the whistling kettle off the stove and made a mug of Tohru’s favorite tea for her to find later. And as much as he tried to ignore the conversation happening in the room next to him, found that he couldn’t.

“Yet all of their engineering, technology, law, and medical programs are complete crap. Those are your four options.”

“But I’m not going into any of those fields!”

“Don’t be naive, Yuki. You’ve always known those are your options. And of course, like always, I’ll have to make the final decision for you. Because you can’t make good ones.” She paused and sighed. Kyo waited for Yuki to respond, but he didn’t and his mother continued. “If you’re going to insist upon having your own opinions you should make sure they aren’t horrible ones. You’d turn into a useless person if it weren’t for me making the ultimate decision.”

Well that was a little harsh.

“You- making the ultimate decision? What’s this about?” Yuki sputtered.

“Did you really think I was going to let you run your life completely on your own and not step in when needed? Sure, I was willing to hear you out. But I see that was wrong of me. No, you are not going to apply to any of these colleges. I’ll send you a proper list to choose from.” There was a note of finality in her tone that didn’t leave any room for debate.

Kyo waited for Yuki to respond. And waited. And waited. But he didn’t. In the meantime, his mother continued berating and insulting Yuki. His biological father’s words came back to him. It’s your fault your mother is dead. You killed her. Sure, Yuki’s mother weren’t the same as his biological father’s. But they weren’t entirely dissimilar either.

He put his plate down and glanced into the main room. Yuki’s mother’s back was to him, but Yuki faced him, head down and….was he curling into himself? He seemed to be. Yuki suddenly lifted his head, his eyes meeting Kyo’s. They were silently screaming “help me”, and it was obvious he was struggling to breathe.

Okay. Time to get involved.

He made his way back into the main room, holding his hands up in a peaceful gesture and approaching Yuki’s mom with his head tilted down, a pacifying smile on his face. He didn’t want to scare her. And he was determined to be polite about this.

“Ma’am could you please lower your voice? You could wake the other members of the household if you continue shouting like this.”

She laughed derisively, “Who do you think you’re talking to little boy? You’re nobody- just the formar cat monster- and you think you can ask me to leave? And who am I disturbing? The perverted writer? That mindless, simple girl without an important family name?”

Kyo’s temper flared. How dare she insult Tohru. Okay. He was done trying to be polite.

He stepped into her space, scowling and was satisfied when she took a step back, “It’s time for you to leave now. If you don’t I’ll contact the proper authorities and have them arrest you for trespassing and harassing the residents,” He hissed

Her back straightened as she recovered, glaring at him, “What makes you think you have the right to do that?”

“I live here. You don’t. Now LEAVE!”

He made a show of taking out his phone. Her face paled. She walked to the front door, making sure to bump his arm as she went. Kyo followed behind, making sure she was aware of his presence. She put on her shoes and opened the door. Then paused and turned back to Yuki.

“I hope you’re happy with what you’ve done to ruin your life. And you’d better hope you get a scholarship to whatever pathetic college you choose. Your father and I won’t be paying for it. Not like we can since we haven’t gotten paid by the Sohma family ever since the curse broke.”

Was this woman for real? Acting like the curse had been a good thing?

“Woman. Leave. Now. Don’t make me repeat myself again.”

She looked at him over her shoulder, yet still managing to look down her nose at him. “I’m going. Though I’m still not sure why the good-for-nothing formar cat thinks he has any right to tell me what to do.”

Kyo took a deep breath and somehow managed to keep a hold on his temper. She opened the door and left, but kept the door open behind her. Kyo made sure to slam it hard.

He turned to Yuki, “Hey dumb rat. You okay?”

Yuki nodded minutely. “Thank you,” He whispered.

“Don’t mention it. Having shitty parents really fucking sucks, doesn’t it?” Kyo replied, already making his way back up the stairs to finish getting ready for his run.

That little scene in the main room had been surprising. Apparently, Prince Yuki didn’t have the perfect life he’d always thought he’d had. Or at the very least, he didn’t have the perfect parents Kyo had assumed he had. He mulled it over. Was his father just as bad as his mother? Nah, couldn’t be. Maybe his mom was just grossed out by rats and had projected that onto Yuki. Yeah. That had to be it.

And having a shitty mother didn’t change the fact that Yuki was the favorite. The most beloved and the one held up as an example to everybody else. He was naturally gifted at everything and only had to work half as hard to get twice as far. That remained true even after the curse had broken.

He ignored the voice at the back of his head that suggested that maybe being the favorite had its drawbacks while checking in on a newly awakened Tohru and finally leaving for his run.

Chapter Text

Today was the day. Or at least today was supposed to be the day. But, judging by the look on Shigure’s face, it was being put off yet again. Who the hell had fought against it this time?

“Don’t give me that look Kyo. I’ve been doing everything I can to get this moving forward. Akito too.”

“It’s one stupid building. How hard can it be to destroy?”

“There’s been push-back against this from the moment Akito ordered it. You know this. It was bound to take a little extra time.”

Kyo clenched his teeth. There was taking a little extra time. And then there was this. Akito had ordered for the Cat’s Room to be destroyed in July. It was now the end of November and it still had yet to be torn down.

Person after person had petitioned, battled, argued, and fought against it. Each claiming to have their own reasons that it should stay standing. It was tradition. Removing it would destroy the soil of the ground under and around it, making the area useless. The buildings had been designed in a very specific architectural design and removing it would take away from the overall aesthetic of the Sohma estate. It should serve as a monument to the past sufferings of people born with the cat spirit. It would serve as a reminder to the Sohma family’s past sins. It would serve as a sign of how we mustn’t cling to harmful tradition. And- worst yet- to remove it would be an insult to the memories and the sufferings of the people who'd been born with the cat spirit and had lived and died there.

No matter what they claimed though, Kyo knew the real reason behind why all of them were disobeying and fighting Akito’s order, even some of the maids. They still saw him as lesser. As lesser than other people. As lesser than the other zodiacs. As lesser than themselves. He was still the cat-monster in their eyes. And that wouldn’t change.

“Who made the request this time?” Kyo demanded, his fist clenched so hard the tips of his fingers turned white.

Shigure hesitated and didn’t answer.

Kyo’s suspicions immediately rose, “Was my biological father behind it this time?”

“Was your biological father behind “what” this time?”

Kyo startled at the sound of Yuki’s voice. He turned his head to see Yuki and Tohru entering the house. They’d been outside, taking care of Yuki’s Secret Base, and Kyo hadn’t been expecting them to come inside so soon. Then again, it was pretty cold out. Too cold for either of them to be out for too long before they started to feel ill.

“None of your business,” Kyo snapped. He was on edge and Yuki's presence didn't make him feel any better. Strangely, nor did it make him feel worse.

Tohru seemed to assess the situation, her eyes going from Kyo to Shigure and back again. She huffed in what sounded like frustration. “Is Kyo’s biological dad still fighting against the destruction of the Cat’s Room?”

Kyo’s eyebrows rose at that, “What do you mean still fighting? He’s done this before? And you knew about it and didn’t tell me?” He asked her in a much softer tone than what he’d used with Yuki.

As soon as he asked the question though, he knew it was true. Nobody else had been as determined to see him locked up, or was as convinced that he deserved to be as much as his biological father did. Naturally, he’d fight against the destruction of the Cat’s Room hardest. Probably still hoping to see him in it one day, despite him having been freed of the Cat’s Spirit.

Tohru worried her lip between her teeth, “Please don’t be angry Kyo! Kazuma-san mentioned it when we visited last week, thinking I already knew. I didn't tell you because I was just trying to protect you.”

Well that explained it. He smiled at her and pulled her to him, wrapping his arms around her in a tight hug. “I could never be angry at you. You’re too adorable to get angry at.”

“Kyo’s the adorable one,” Tohru contradicted. He blushed at that and hid his face in her hair.

“If you two could stop flirting for two seconds, there’s something else you need to know,” Shigure said, interrupting their moment. Kyo and Tohru stopped hugging, but held tightly onto each other’s hands. Whatever it was, they’d face it together.

“Awwwww. Your guys' faces are sooooo red. Even after being together all this time!” Shigure cackled.

“Didn’t you say you had more information for me?” Kyo growled.

Shigure pouted. “You’re so mean to me Kyo. Why are you so mean to me?” Kyo glared at him until the former dog finally cleared his throat and his expression turned serious. “Right about that. Your sperm donor has requested- well more like demanded- an in person meeting with you and Akito to discuss the destruction of the Cat’s Room. He claims he merely wants to express his worries to the Head of the Family in person, as he believes that doing it in writing would allow Akito to ignore his concerns should she so choose to do so. He’s determined to be heard.”

“Firstly: Sperm Donor?”

“It seems like an appropriate title,” Shigure’s lips twitched in amusement, before he became serious once again. “Do you want me to call Kazuma? See if he can come?”

“No. This is something I have to handle on my own.”

And that mocking smirk was back…. “You’ve grown up so much! I’m so proud!” He wiped a fake tear away.

Kyo huffed at him. But he knew his decision was the right one. This was a conversation he sure as fuck didn’t want to have, but it was one that needed to happen. He’d believed his biological father’s and his relationship was over back when he’d confronted him about his mom and let him know that he was going to live on the “outside” from now on. Apparently not. That didn’t mean he was looking forward to his father blaming him for his mother’s death and everything that had gone wrong in his life for the thousandth time. Which was no doubt the real reason he'd insisted upon an in-person meeting. He was getting antsier just thinking about it.

“Would an extra voice of support be of any use in this situation?”

Kyo jumped at the sound of Yuki’s voice, and whipped his head around to see him casually leaning against the wall. He’d forgotten he was there.

“What do you mean by that?” He asked suspiciously.

Yuki rolled his eyes at his tone, “Exactly what it sounds like Stupid Cat. Would having the support of somebody else in the family, like me, be of any use? I could write a letter detailing why I think the Cat’s House should be destroyed. I can be very persuasive.”

“And why the hell would you do that?”

Yuki met his gaze. Kyo was surprised by the intensity in it. “Consider it my way of returning a favor.”

“What’s he talking about?” Tohru asked, hope sparkling in her eyes.

“Your stupid boyfriend helped me out of a tight spot a couple weeks ago. Nothing you need to worry about Miss Honda.” The look on his face made it perfectly clear he wasn't going to discuss the matter any further, and for once, Kyo had to agree with the former rat. The less people who knew about him “escorting” Yuki’s mom out of their house, the better.

“Yes. A letter. That could be useful. But you know what would be better?” Shigure asked. Kyo and Yuki immediately stiffened. “If you went with him to the meeting instead. Seeing not only the former rat and cat get along, but the former rat advocate for the destruction of the Cat’s Room to the head of the family. Not THAT would have an impact. Should speed up the process nicely.”

Kyo’s and Yuki’s voices rang out simultaneously.

“No way in hell.”

“I’d really rather not.”

“Why not? It’d be a show of unity like the rest of the family and maids had never seen before. It’d be a visual, concrete sign that things are changing and have changed. Whether certain people like it or not.”

“I don’t need a babysitter. I can handle this on my own.”

“I’m not going back to the main house. Not when I don’t have to.”

“Nobody said you needed a babysitter Kyo. Just somebody there to show their support of Akito’s decision. And who better than Yuki, Akito’s former favorite?”

Kyo noticed how Shigure never addressed Yuki’s statement, and judging by the glare Yuki was currently leveling at Shigure, the former dog bastard had just hit a nerve. Kyo vaguely wondered what that was about. And Shigure was still a bastard, even though he wasn’t a dog anymore.

“I’m coming with you!” Tohru suddenly proclaimed as she clung closer to Kyo.

The three men all turned and looked at her. Yuki with surprise. Shigure with calculation. Kyo with resignation. Cause he knew that look. That was her stubborn and determined face. The one that made it obvious to anybody who knew her that she’d decided on a course of action and nothing and nobody was going to persuade her otherwise. Didn’t mean Kyo couldn’t try though.

“No. Tohru trust me. You don’t want to go. My biological father’s a mean person. Nobody should ever be around him. Least of all you.”

She gave him one of her fake smiles, “Don’t worry about me Kyo! I can handle mean people. And didn’t Shigure-san say it would be more impactful if somebody was physically there to show their support? I will be that somebody.”

“She’s right,” Shigure said and Kyo never wanted to punch him more than he did in that moment. “In fact, I couldn’t think of anything more effective than having somebody from outside the family show their support.”

“That’s settled then. I’m going with you.”

“Miss Honda. You should listen to Kyo. This isn’t something you want to do and it’ll only harm you in the long run. He can handle this on his own.”

“I’m going. Nothing bad will happen and Kyo will protect me if something does.”

God her faith in him was astounding. He just hoped he could live up to it.

The smell of something burning wafted through the air and Tohru jumped, her face becoming flustered and fearful. “Oh no the rice cooker! I completely forgot! I put rice in it before going out to help Yuki-kun with his garden!” She ran out of the room and into the kitchen, completely flustered.

“Has she always been this stubborn?” Yuki asked.

“Yes,” Shigure responded. “You two were just to blind to see it until recently.” Kyo glared at the manipulative bastard, silently daring him to say anything more. Shigure held up his hands in a gesture of surrender.

“I guess I have no choice then. I have to come. To protect her.”

“What? You think I can’t do it by myself?”

“If you were going to be there the whole time, sure. But do you really think Akito is going to allow Tohru in on a private meeting? She’s changed, but I don’t see that happening.”

Damn it. He had a point. “Fine. I’ll give you the details later. And you’re only coming to watch after Tohru.”

“Naturally. It’s not like I want to come.”

“I sure as Hell don’t want you there.”

“That’s settled then.”

“Good.”

“Ahhh, I’m so glad to see the two of you getting along so much better than you have in the past. Who knows? Someday you two might be the best of friends!” Shigure sing-songed with a beatific smile and a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. Kyo and Yuki shared a look. Then simultaneously turned their back on him and went to join Tohru in the kitchen, ignoring Shigure’s faux cries of “how dare you so cruelly leave me.”

They were done with his antics.

Chapter Text

Kyo breathed through his nose, staring at the door like it was his mortal enemy. He could do this. He could. It was just one simple conversation. That would no doubt be embarrassing as hell. And no doubt would be lorded over him for years to come. He turned away at that thought. Then remembered Tohru’s large as all get out grin when he’d originally told her what he was thinking of doing. Turned back around. No way could he disappoint her. Raised his fist. And knocked.

 

There was some shuffling from the otherside, before the door barely opened, Yuki sliding through the crack to come out into the hallway. He smirked when he saw Kyo.

 

“Well this is an unexpected surprise. What brings you to my room? Let me guess. You need tutoring in…..Japanese? No, physics? Or is it Calculus?”

 

“My calculus grades are better than yours and you know it!” Kyo snarled. “And my physics grade is good too!”

The smirk didn’t leave his face, “Yet I noticed how you didn’t say anything about your Japanese grade.”

 

“Screw this.” He turned away and began walking back to his room. “That’s what I get for trying to be nice to him,” He murmured under his breath.

 

He felt a hand grab his arm. He yanked it away, “Wait Kyo! I’m sorry. That was rude of me! I was just surprised to see you at my door.”

 

Yuki was apologizing….to him? That was enough to make him pause. Take another deep breath. Looked over his shoulder, “It doesn’t excuse your mocking.”

 

“It was more like friendly teasing.” Kyo’s eyes narrowed and Yuki held up his hands in a pacifist gesture. “Okay. Okay. But seriously. What did you want to say to me?”

 

Kyo swallowed the nervous lump in his throat. “I just wanted to say thank you. You know. For agreeing to come to the meeting with me tomorrow. For agreeing to look after Thoru while Akito, my biological father, and I talk. Also, for offering to write a supportive letter and use some of your status to help me.”

 

Yuki’s expression had softened while he’d spoken. He looked almost fond and Kyo knew it was because he’d brought up Tohru. They both had a lot of affection for her, even if Kyo didn’t really understand Yuki’s. All he knew was that it wasn’t romantic and that’s all he cared about.

 

“It’s no problem. I actually did write the letter, figuring it’d still might be useful to have something in writing. Want to see it?”

 

He reached a hand up to scratch at his neck This was awkward right? He wasn’t the only one who felt that, right? One look at Yuki’s face confirmed as much. But Yuki was reacting to his trying with some of his own trying. He should only react with even more of his own trying, shouldn’t he? If that even made sense…..

 

“Ahhh sure. I’ll come look it over,” He finally replied. 

 

Yuki smiled tentatively, “No comments about how my room is.”

 

Kyo snorted, but didn’t reply. He wasn’t making any promises. 

 

He followed Yuki into his room and looked around. Seriously- how did he live like this? There was an inch of dirt on every visible surface. That was, of the seeable surfaces that existed. There weren’t many, with almost everything being covered by clothes, books, pens, postures, notebooks, and….were those cups? 

 

The only thing not covered in filth were a couple of shelves that had been nailed to the wall and had framed pictures on them. Kyo studied the pictures while Yuki searched for the letter he’d written. There were pictures of Yuki with Tohru, with his girlfriend- what was her name? Maki or something like that?- with Haru, with his other student council friends, with Ayame, and even one with Kyo and Shigure in it. Granted that one also had Haru, Tohru, and Momiji in it. But still. It was a little surprising. None of his parents though. After learning more about what his mom actually was like, he wasn’t surprised there weren’t any pictures of her. But why weren’t there any of his dad? Surely, he had to have a good relationship with him, at least?

 

He was brought out of his thoughts by Yuki shoving something into his hand, “Here you go. Do you want to read it over to make sure there’s nothing in there your father will use against you?”

 

“My father would use it against me even if God herself said I was the perfect person. I’ll read it later just to make sure you didn’t give me a backhanded compliment somewhere in there though.” He took it anyway. No reason to look a gift horse in the mouth and all that shit.

 

“Awww don’t you trust me?” Yuki asked with a teasing smirk as they made their way out of his room.

 

“No,” Kyo replied bluntly, “Hey…. Yuki?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Where are the photos of your dad?”

 

Yuki’s face instantly darkend. Shit. He’d accidentally crossed a line he hadn’t known existed. “I don’t know Kyo. Why aren’t there any photos of your biological father in your room?”

 

He held up his hands, palms forward, in a gesture of surrender and peace. “Okay. Okay. Okay. Message received. Sorry. Didn’t know that was a sensitive topic for you. Won’t bring it up again.”

 

“You’ve seen how my mother is and you didn’t know that was a sensitive topic for me?”

 

“Yeah….well. Sometimes people only have one shitty parent, not two.” I thought that’s how it was with you went unspoken, but understood.

 

“Yes. Well. I wasn’t so fortunate to have that be the case.”

 

“Damn. That fucking sucks.”

 

“That would be an accurate assessment. Should we go downstairs? I think I hear Tohru calling us for dinner.”

 

Tohru hadn’t barely started dinner when he’d come up, so no way was it already ready. However, Kyo recognized the statement for what it was. A way to bring this very uncomfortable conversation to an end and a dismissal of his question. Normally, Kyo would be offended, but this time, he understood. Shitty parents suck.

 

“Yeah. Let’s go downstairs. After you princess.”

 

Here. This was familiar footing. A way to get them back to how it’d been in the past. 

 

Yuki’s huff of irritation let him know that he knew exactly what he was trying to do. But nonetheless, he started walking down the stairs, Kyo following a few steps behind. 

 

That short conversation had given him a few things to think about during dinner and he was sure the others noticed that he wasn’t paying attention. 

 

The Prince’s life was even less perfect than he’d realized. Shitty mom. Apparently shitty dad, or at least one that wasn’t around a lot and….didn’t his older brother only start connecting with him within the past eighteen months or so? Or maybe they were closer when they were younger, drifted apart, and then were slowly drifting together again? Yeah. That had to be it. He couldn’t see Ayame leaving Yuki to his own devices as a child. Not with how *overly* affectionate he was now. But that also left the question: who had Yuki stayed with during that period? And what had happened to him then? Was it something with Akito?

 

The thought of Akito re-reminded him that he had his own problem to think about. He needed to prepare for the meeting and facing his biological father tomorrow. Not consider what Yuki may or may have not gone through. His father was going to fight him and Akito every step of the way tomorrow and he had to be ready for that battle. Although it was nice he had a few allies on his side this time while facing his dad, unlike when he was a child.

 

Still weird as fuck to think of Yuki as an ally though. He’d never get used to that. 

Chapter Text

Kyo stared straight ahead, doing his best not to think about the coming confrontation and keep his anxiety at bay. Tohru walked beside him, her hand that was clenched in his a grounding and comforting presence. Yuki walked beside her, and instead of feeling irritated by him, Kyo was grateful for his presence. At least he’d be here to protect Tohru while Kyo went into the proverbial Lion’s Den with Akito.

He’d told himself that he was ready for this, but the closer the date of the meeting with his father and Akito had gotten, the more nervous he’d become. He’d been trying to hide it this past week, but he doubted he succeeded. Yuki had been giving him more nasty glares than usual so he guessed he’d been getting increasingly accidentally ruder to those around him. He was certainly snapping more at certain people. The idiots who called him Kyon-Kyon. Arisa and Hana whenever they'd teased him (which had gotten him into a little bit of trouble with Tohru, although she hadn't stayed angry at him long). The girls who flirted with him despite him being in a very happy relationship thank-you-very-much-seriously-what-were-they-thinking-going-after-a-taken-man? Teachers who'd been on his ass when he wasn't focusing in class (That had gotten him detention)

Also, Tohru had been kinder to him, if that was possible. She was a constant presence, bringing him down with just a look or a touch. Silently reminding him that he had somebody on his side. Every night this week, he’d slipped into her bed and they’d cuddled together the whole night, a solid and comforting reminder that they refused to be separated, no matter who might want them to be.

Haru and Momiji, surprisingly enough, had come up to him at school the other day and offered to come with him and vouch for him during the meeting. Haru had even volunteered to kick his bio father’s ass and give him a verbal lashing. He wasn’t surprised they knew about the meeting. It was currently the juiciest piece of gossip on the Sohma estate. He was surprised they actually cared though. When he said as much, Momiji looked genuinely confused and Haru declared that of course they did. They’d been his friend for years, after all.

Huh. So they’d actually liked him for all those years. They didn’t just look down on and pity him while silently being grateful that they weren’t him. That was a pleasant surprise.

Anyways, his day of reckoning was officially here and the walk towards the Main House on the Sohma Estate was occuring in complete silence. Kyo got the sense Yuki was nervous about going to the estate as well, but he didn’t have the time or emotional energy to worry about that. His showdown with his father was happening.

Now.

As in right now.

Cause they’d just arrived at the Main House's door.

“You ready?” Yuki asked him.

No.

“About as ready as I’ll ever be,” He responded instead and felt Tohru’s hand tighten around his. He shot her a reassuring smile. Let out one, deep long breath. Raised his hand. And knocked. The door opened almost instantaneously to reveal Akito on the other side, as if she’d been waiting for them. He noticed Yuki flinch in his peripheral vision. Huh. Interesting. But unimportant right now.

Akito stepped backwards and waved them inside, “Come on in. Let’s get this headache over with.”

“This meeting is just a headache to you?” Kyo snapped, anxiety rising. Why wasn’t she taking this seriously?

She raised an eyebrow at him, “I’m still the head of this family, even though I’m *just* Akito now. Watch your tone with me.”

“Sorry,” He mumbled, chastised.

“And yes. This meeting is merely a headache to me. Whether your biological father likes it or not- whether he realizes it or not- the Cat’s Room is being destroyed. Soon. By the end of the year, if I have my way. And you know how good I am at getting my way.”

There was a fierce determination in her eyes that had once terrified him. Now it felt reassuring, and a weight he hadn’t realized he’d been carrying lifted off him. On some level, he’d been worried that despite what Shigure claimed and Akito promised, she’d still been planning on actually hearing his bio dad out. On allowing herself to possibly be persuaded to keep the Cat’s Room standing. Or worse, put him in it to punish him for his crimes. Not anymore though.

She led them to her office, but paused before they went in and turned to Kyo. “Your bio dad’s already here. He’s requested that this meeting be just between you, me, and him. I’ve agreed, just so that he feels like he actually has some say in all this. He doesn’t, but he doesn’t need to be made aware of that. Come in when you’re ready, but don’t be long.” She opened her office door and strode inside.

Kyo nodded curtly. Forced himself to let go of Tohru’s hand and pulled her into a hug, burying his face in her hair for a few seconds while she clung to him. Pulled back just enough to give her a short, but sweet kiss before finally letting go of her. She continued to cling to his arm though.

He turned towards Yuki, “Thanks for the support I guess. And for coming to look after her.”

Yuki studied him, “You look like you’re about to go to war.”

He felt like he was about to go to war. But he wasn’t going to say that in front of Tohru. It’d only worry her more. “Nah. I’ll be fine. Just gotta get this over with.” Yuki’s expression made it clear he hadn’t convinced him. He glanced at Tohru. She looked terrified. He took her face in his hands. “I’ll be fine,” He assured her. “It’ll suck, but you heard Akito. Nothing’s changing. He’s not going to take me away from you.”

She nodded determinedly, “See you when you’re done.”

He let go of her face and bopped her head. “See you when I’m done.”

He took one last deep breath, opened the door, and entered Akito’s office. He closed the door behind him. His bio father, as he’d expected, had taken the chair to the right side, across from Akito. He preferred it. Called it “the place of power” once when he thought Kyo wasn’t listening. Kyo took the remaining chair on the left and leaned forward. His bio dad was also, just as Kyo suspected he would, practically vibrating with excess energy- tense and geared up and ready for a fight, a twisted smile on his lips.

“Ahhh so the monster finally shows himself. Have you been enjoying your time outside? It won’t last much longer!”

Resisting the severe temptation to snap back, Kyo instead ignored him and addressed Akito, “Did you receive the letter of support from Yuki?”

“I did. I also got ones from Momiji, Kisa, Rin, Kagura, and Haru. You have quite a few allies, Kyo.” Surprise and relief flooded through him, but before his bio dad, or “sperm donor” in Shigure’s words, quickly interrupted that.

“These “allies” of his still doesn’t change the fact that he’s a monster that needs to be locked away. He killed his mother- my wife- or are you forgetting that?” He snarled.

“I am NOT a monster!” Kyo exclaimed at the same time that Akito calmly said, “From what I recall, your wife’s death was ruled a suicide.”

Kyo flinched at that, the memory of his mother throwing herself in front of the train resurfacing, her body falling through the air like a puppet whose strings had been cut when she'd stepped in front of it. The bloody, tangled, unrecognizable mess that was her body once the coroners had retrieved it from the tracks. The horror, hopelessness, helplessness, grief, and guilt he’d felt back then cause he’d known, even before they’d found her letter, that it was his fault.

“A suicide caused by HIM! And how did you get these “allies” anyway? Did you threaten them?!? I bet you threatened them!”

THAT brought him back to the present, “No. I didn’t even know they were writing letters of support for me.” He hadn't known they'd cared that much.

He scoffed, “A likely story! I bet you told them exactly what to say. I bet you threatened their families if they didn’t comply!”

He stared him down, “I didn’t. Because unlike you, people actually like me. I actually have friends instead of only having enemies and people I blame for all my problems!” And he was actually, finally starting to believe that.

“So you admit it? It’s YOUR fault. It’s YOUR fault my wife died. You killed her and you feel no remorse for it! It’s YOUR fault my life is ruined. You took EVERYTHING from me. YOU did it! Admit it!”

Kyo flinched again, but held his ground. “I was a child! Not even six years old. How was I capable of doing those things?”

He laughed maniacally, “I don’t know how a monster’s mind works! But the last time we met you THREATENED me!” He turned to Akito, “HE THREATENED MY LIFE LAST TIME!! WHY IS HE STILL ALLOWED TO WALK FREE?? WHY HAVEN’T YOU LOCKED HIM UP YET??”

Akito looked almost bored, “I agreed to this meeting because you said you had logical, unbiased reasons for why the Cat’s Room should remain. So far, I’ve heard nothing but hysterical screaming and unfounded accusations. If you actually have a real case, then please present it now. But if you’re only going to continue with your shouting and angry words that have no basis in reality, then leave and stop wasting my time.”

His bio dad’s jaw dropped, “You-you-you! You can’t!”

Akito’s eyes flashed dangerously, reminiscent of the old Akito. Kyo instinctively scooted his chair backwards, to get away from the danger. When she spoke next her tone was deathly quiet, “I suggest you pick your next words very carefully. I am the head of this clan. Unlike Kyo, I can and will make you regret being born if you dare to disrespect me or further disrespect Kyo. Understand?”

His bio dad gulped. Nodded. “Yes-yes. Very much so. But logical reasons! I have them! There are many reasons the Cat’s Room should stay up!”

“Such as?”

“What if somebody else does something horrible and you need to punish them?” He glanced towards Kyo. “Would you really so stupid as to take down your one prison?”

“I’ve warned you before and I’ll warn you only once more: I’m still the head of this clan. It would be in your best interest not to speak so disrespectfully to me,” Akito’s tone was flat. Dangerous. “Do it again and I’ll ensure that you never see the inside of this estate again and that you lose all privilege that comes with being a Sohma. Is that understood?”

Kyo’s dad turned on him, his face twisted in anger, “This is you. It’s all your fault!! You’re the reason why I’ve lost everything in life and I’m going to lose what few things I have!”

Kyo clenched his fists and gritted his teeth. Reminded himself not to talk back. It’d just make the situation worse.

“Let me amend my statement: If you dare to speak disrespectfully to me, Kyo, or anybody else who enters this room again, I will have you banned from the Sohma estate, disowned from the Sohma family, and prevented from accessing any current or future help- financial, legal, or otherwise- from the Sohmas. Is. That. Understood?” His bio dad finally looked cowed. He nodded weekly. “Good. Now. Do you have any other reasons why the Cat’s Room should stay standing?”

“It should- it should serve as a reminder to what we’ve done. A memorial. So that we know not to do it again,” He stuttered.

Kyo snorted. Did he really expect them to believe that? When not even five minutes ago, he’d been spouting off how Kyo deserved to be locked up in it? He glanced at Akito. She didn’t look convinced either.

“Denied. That’s not enough of a reason. Which I said last month,” She held up a hand. “Before you go any further, may I remind you that you also tried to say that removing it would ruin the ground around it six weeks ago, that it should remain as a way to remind us not to cling to harmful traditions two months ago, that removing it would destroy the foundation of the buildings around it three months ago, and that removing it would ruin the overall aesthetic of the Sohma skyline four months ago? Two of those things I brought in experts to disprove, and all of things I don’t find to be valid enough reasons to keep it around. So unless you have any additional points to make, this meeting is over,” She stared into his eyes, a threat lurking in them.

Kyo twitched. Even though he wasn’t the one she was looking at like that, it still made him nervous.

Kyo’s bio dad flustered. He reddened. He sputtered. But just when Kyo thought he was about to give up, he straightened his back and seemed to find himself. He turned on Kyo, “You claim the former Rat gave you a recommendation of his own violation. Well? I want proof. I want to hear why he thinks you should be allowed to stay outside.”

Akito tilted her head, “You make a fair point. Why not? I’ll go let him in now.”

His bio dad’s expression became smug and he opened his mouth. Akito sent him a warning look. He quickly shut it.

Akito came from around her desk. She paused by Kyo and whispered, “Don’t worry. He’s not getting what he wants. I just want to watch Yuki take him down a notch or two. It’ll be amusing.”

Kyo’s lips twitched involuntarily, “Shigure’s been rubbing off on you.”

She shrugged languidly, “Perhaps.”

She strode to the door, opened it, closing it most of the way behind her. There was a hushed conversation behind him and though Kyo didn’t catch any of it, he noticed how Yuki’s tone had started off surprised, then became confused, then amused and finally determined.

Tohru interjected at the end and though he heard both Akito and Yuki protest there was a stubborn, determined undertone to her words that Kyo meant knew there was no stopping her from getting what she wanted. He had a sinking suspicion of what that was about. Sure enough, when Akito came back both Yuki and Tohru joined her. Kyo shook his head. That was Tohru for you. The rare times she decided she wanted something, she was going to get it. Especially when it came to anything involving caring for her loved ones.

She came straight up to Kyo, but didn’t move to touch him. Instead, she stared down his father as she stood beside the chair Kyo was in, her back ramrod straight, body angled slightly in front of his. They were in this as one, her body language seemed to suggest. And if he wanted to attack Kyo, he’d have to go through her first

“So. Has the temper tantruming child finally left?” Yuki asked as he entered. Then seemed to just notice Kyo’s dad. He looked down his nose on him, “Guess not.”

Oh, Yuki was in pure “I’m better than you” mode. Kyo had gotten to know him well-enough to know that it was just a mask he weaponized against people who annoyed or angered him. He couldn’t help but feel a little touched that he was using it for him instead of against him for once.

Kyo’s dad gaped at him, “How dare you speak to me that way! I’m your elder!!”

“Are you really? Cause all I see here is a toddler who is mad he hasn’t gotten his way.”

He turned to Akito, “Did you see how he just spoke to me? The disrespect he’s shown me?!?”

“Yes. I’ve also seen the disrespect you’ve shown me, Kyo, and various other members of this clan, including Yuki. I think a little bit of rudeness from him is allowable.”

Kyo’s dad gaped at her. And it finally, finally seemed to sink in for him that this meeting wasn’t going to go his way. That he wasn’t going to get what he wanted. But Kyo recognized the glint in his eye. It had to be fueled by the same fire and determination and anger and stubbornness that he felt when he knew he wasn’t going to win a fight, but was determined to make it hurt as much as he possibly could for the person he was fighting.

They were going to win this war, but it was going to be a rough battle.

Chapter Text

Standing outside the door during Akito’s and Kyo’s meeting with Kyo’s biological father had proved to be…...illuminating. In a variety of ways.

For instance, he was quite certain he’d never seen Miss Honda get angry before. However, as Kyo’s bio dad’s harsh words repeatedly broke through the barrier of the door, her face had become redder and redder, scrunching up while her muscles tensed up. It’d taken him a second to recognize it for what it was, but he couldn’t say he was surprised that was her reaction once he’d realized what was going on.

After all, while even a moron could easily figure out that Kyo and his bio dad didn’t have the best relationship (and Yuki was far from being a moron), he had no idea it was this bad. The man’s abusive words, repeatedly blaming him for his wife’s death and referring to him as a monster made him wince in sympathy. He almost felt himself losing his voice again, and he wasn’t the one being verbally attacked. No wonder Kyo had treated him so harshly and blamed him for everything wrong in his life when they’d first met. It was how he’d been taught to treat anybody he’d perceived as wronging him, whether or not that perception was accurate.

He learned that he could feel anger, genuine anger, on behalf of the formar cat. How dare his father blame him for what must’ve been one of the most traumatic events of his life? How dare he demand that his son be locked up when he’d done nothing wrong? How dare he claim that Kyo had threatened him when Yuki knew for a fact that no such thing had happened?

So when Akito came out and asked him if he’d mind coming in and explaining his letter- and maybe, perhaps- also put Kyo’s father in his place by pretending to be disgusted by him- Yuki ignored everything in him that told him to stay far far away from Akito’s office and agreed. He wouldn’t have to pretend to be disgusted after all, so it should be easy.

“I’m coming in too!” Tohru declared with a look in her eyes that Yuki had never seen before.

“You really shouldn’t Miss Honda. You’ve heard what he’s been spouting towards Kyo. What if he turns that vitriol on you?”

“I can handle it! You’ve met my family Yuki-kun. They’re not always nice either.”

That was a massive understatement. It was also the harshest thing he’d ever heard her say about anybody else. But she had a point and he figured it was time to switch tactics.

“Miss Honda, if you go in there Kyo’s biological father might say something incredibly rude to you, and Kyo will automatically jump to your defense. Which, while admirable and exactly what he should do, could get him in some serious trouble.”

“No it won’t,” Akito contradicted. “I won’t allow that.”

Yuki turned towards Akito, hiding his surprise. Why was she on Tohru’s side? Was she really okay with seeing Tohru hurt? Apparently she hadn’t changed as much as he’d believed. Well... as much as he’d hoped would be a better way to put it.

Akito met his eyes, “Don’t give me that look Yuki. I want this man out of my estate as quickly as possible. If he happens to do something that gets him banned, even better. She’ll have the three of us there to protect her. Nothing will happen to her.”

“Yeah, and I can take care of myself too! Kyo showed me!”

Tohru then punched his arm, but the punch was so weak he barely felt it. He’d have to talk with Kyo later about how to properly teach somebody how to throw a punch. Once this disaster of a day was over.

“That’s settled then,” Akito declared, her tone leaving no room for arguments. “Come on in.”

Yuki sighed, defeated and did as he was told. As the door shut behind him, he decided to express to Kyo’s bio dad exactly what he thought of him, making sure to do so in his snottiest tone.

“So. Has the temper tantruming child finally left?” He looked around and then down, as if just noticing him. “Apparently not.”

Kyo’s father’s face got, if possible, even redder than it’d already been. “How dare you speak to me that way!! I’m your elder!”

Well he certainly wasn’t acting like it. “Are you really? Cause all I see here is a toddler who hasn’t gotten his way.”

As well as an explanation as to where Kyo had gotten his habit of lashing out at everybody and everything from. No wonder the former cat was such a hothead.

The man twisted his body towards Akito, but his face still leaned towards Kyo, as if he were ready to verbally attack him again at any time. “Did you see how he just spoke to me? The disrespect he’s shown me?!?”

“Yes. I’ve also seen the disrespect you’ve shown me, Kyo, and various other members of this clan, including Yuki. I think a little bit of rudeness from him is allowable.” There was a dark and dangerous look in Akito’s eyes that Yuki recognized all too well, having had it directed at him too many times to count. He wasn’t surprised when the man recoiled, becoming smaller in his chair.

Yuki repressed a shiver, instead turning to Akito and lifting his chin regally. “I mean no disrespect, but was there a reason I was called into here?”
“Yes. This man apparently believes that you were forced to write a recommendation and would like to hear it from you directly that you did so of your own violation.”

Yuki snickered, “As if Kyo could make me do anything.”

“I don’t believe that! What other possible reason could you have to say nice things about him?!?” Kyo’s bio dad pointed an accusatory finger at his son.

“I don’t know. Maybe because I genuinely believe the things I put into that letter?” Yuki snarked.

Kyo’s bio dad gasped and then recovered. “I thought you were different- a better person- but it seems like you’re quite similar to him,” He snarled.

“Thank you. I consider that to be quite the compliment. Your son’s a decent person- despite being a dumb-ass at times.”

“Hey!” Kyo interjected.

He spared him a look, “I’m teasing. You should know that by now.”

“Doesn’t mean I have to like it,” He grumbled back.

Akito watched the exchange between them with growing interest, clearly not having realized their relationship had started to get better. Luckily, she didn’t look unhappy about it. Kyo’s bio was another matter entirely. He was fuming- his fists clenched his face, his face red, and his body shaking. It was clear it’d only take one more wrong, or right depending on the way you looked at it, word for him to lose his temper and completely go off on them. Which Yuki was only too happy to goad him into doing.

“Yeah? And what is it about him that makes him so great?”

“Let’s see,” Yuki began ticking them off his fingers, “Despite everything, he does work to become a better person- even if it takes him longer than most to realize the obvious.” Kyo huffed under his breath at that. Yuki smirked, “He sticks up for people- even people he doesn’t like. He’ll do anything to make the people he loves smile- even when it annoys him to do so. He’s weirdly good with kids, probably ‘cause he’s similar to them. Kind in his own way. He’s funny- often unintentionally so. In short, locking him up would be to do a disservice to the world,” He said that last bit while staring directly into the man’s eyes, challenging him to counter anything he’d said.

“No matter what a tiger can’t change their stripes.”

“I’ve lived with him for two years. I’ve watched it happen. The Kyo of two years ago would’ve bodily thrown you out of the room after the first insult you threw at him. Yet here you remain, unscathed. Which is quite lucky for you.”

He flinched at that, but his face remained angry. Although he finally seemed to realize he wouldn’t get anywhere by attacking Kyo, doubting Yuki’s words, or saying anything against Akito. His eyes searched the room and Yuki knew the instant he realized who was the only person left that he could go after. His eyes lit up.

You do that and you’re dead, Yuki vowed silently. And your son won’t be the one delivering the fatal blow.

“You!” He barked at Tohru, “What do you think about the possibility of the Cat’s Room being destroyed?”

“Don’t talk to her,” Kyo and Yuki growled simultaneously.

“It’s fine Kyo-kun and Yuki-kun! I don’t mind answering the question.” She looked him in the eye, “I think that the fact that the Cat’s Room was even built in the first place is a horrible thing. Nobody should’ve been locked because they were born with the wrong zodiac spirit. I’m glad it’s being destroyed.”

“It isn’t just a fluffy cat that the room contains. The people born with the Cat Spirit have another, much more terrifying second form. Their true form,” He smirked, seeming to get his feet back under him.

“I know. I’ve seen it. That doesn’t change my answer. Because that doesn’t change that Kyo-kun is still kind and smart and protective and caring and giving. He’s amazing!”

Kyo blushed at the compliment, but his bio dad’s eyes turned steely. He looked between the two of them, as if he were just now figuring something out. Yuki knew the moment he realized what was going on, his eyes lightening up evilly.

“This? This is the woman you fell in love with?” He demanded.

Kyo stiffened, “Yeah? What about it?”

Oh shit. The man was about to make a very big mistake. Yuki could see it in the almost maniacal grin he had. Kyo was going to kill him after he said whatever he said next and nobody was going to stop him from doing so. Indeed, Yuki would probably help him.

He looked at her with deranged eyes. Yuki resisted the impulse to stand in front of her protectively. “So you’re the one who claims to be in love with the former cat. Why? Is it because you pity him? Because you realize how sad his life was? Or….is it something else? Are you faking your feelings? Why? Because you know that you’d get access to his funds, provided by the Sohma estate, if you married him? It wouldn’t be much, but you could easily live off it for a couple years. That must be awefully tempting to an orphaned girl with no exceptional skills of her own. That’s it right?? You’re nothing more than a gold digging whore!”

Kyo and Yuki reacted simultaneously.

“You BASTARD! YOU don’t know ANYTHING about her! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO ACCUSE HER OF THAT!!”

“How DARE you speak to her that way! You’re not worth the dirt beneath her feet!”

She met his steely gaze with her own, “I fell in love with love with Kyo-kun because he’s an amazing person. It’s a shame you can’t see that.”

“Yet you didn’t contradict my accusation of you wanting the Sohma money. That’s because it’s true isn’t it?” Kyo’s bio dad looked smug for just a split second before he glanced over at Akito. His face instantly paled.

Yuki glanced over and took an instinctive step backwards. He knew that look. That was the look that typically preceded a temper tantrum and somebody getting hurt. At least it had in the past.
When she spoke, her voice was low and deadly,“I warned you what would happen if you dared to speak disrespectfully to anybody else in this room. Leave! Now!”

“No! Not until you hear me out.”

“Did you REALLY just tell me “no”?” She stood up and walked over to him. Bent down. Dug her nails into his arm. Further. Further. He winced. Only then did she drag him by the arm to the door, his feet sliding on the ground behind him. Kyo got up and opened the door for her. She pulled him outside of her office. Then turned to Kyo and Yuki, “Would you two mind taking this piece of human trash out to the front of the estate? I have some calls to make.”

“Gladly.”

“I’d be happy to.”

They each picked up one of his arms and pulled him through the main house, out the door, down the path, and out to the outside doors. He struggled and complained the entire time, but they ignored him and he was no match for Yuki’s and Kyo’s combined strength. Then again, considering how Yuki felt no muscle in his arms, he thought one of them might be able to easily escort him out here by themselves. Once at the outside doors, they shared a look, nodded, and literally threw him out, slamming the doors behind him. They strode back to the main house in silence, where Akito and Tohru were waiting for them.

“The Cat’s Room is being destroyed within the next two weeks,” Akito informed them without preamble the moment they arrived. “I’ve just set the appointment for a consultation with a demolition company. And that man will no longer be allowed anywhere near any Sohma land. If he dares to enter any place a Sohma owns or has property at, I’ll be informed and he’ll face….consequences.” Yuki shuddered. “Anyways, now that this whole mess has finally been dealt with, you’re free to leave. I hope to see you again at some point.”

Yuki understood perfectly what she wasn’t saying: Though I understand if you never want to see me again.

He didn’t comment on that and instead turned to leave,“I’ll wait for you at the main house doors,” He told Kyo and Tohru as he left. There was the murmur of Kyo’s and Tohru’s voices, but he couldn’t hear what they were saying, focused as he was on leaving the Main House. Now that all of the excitement had passed by some of his instinctive panic around Akito had begun to resurface. He could already feel himself struggling to breathe and barely made it to the front door.

The first breath of fresh air was a welcome respite, bringing him back closer to earth. But he knew he wouldn’t be completely fine until they left the estate entirely. Luckily, whatever conversation Kyo and Tohru were having with Akito didn’t last long and they soon joined him outside. He started walking towards the main gate as soon as he saw them and soon they were outside of the estate. Kyo’s bio dad was nowhere to be found, fortunately enough.

“Well! This has been quite the eventful day hasn’t it?” Tohru chimed, but he could feel her worried eyes on him. “Are you okay Yuki-kun? You don’t look well.”

“I’m fine Miss Honda. But thank you for worrying about me.”

“But your face is sweaty and you’re-”

“Let it go. Whatever it is, he clearly doesn’t want to talk about it,” Kyo interrupted and Yuki shot him a grateful look over Miss Honda’s head.

“Oh!I’m SO sorry. I made you think about something that’s clearly distressing! I apologize!”

“It’s fine. You didn’t do anything wrong. I appreciate you worrying about me,” He gave her one of his charming, princely smiles, hoping she’d be fooled by it.

She seemed to be. But while Kyo and Tohru lapsed into cheerful chatter beside him, Yuki stayed silent. No matter how much he’d healed and how much he knew she’d changed, something about being in close proximity to Akito for a prolonged period of time always caused him to lose his voice afterwards. At least for an hour or two.

Chapter Text

It was a little over a week after the meeting with his bio dad and every day that passed he became more worried that something else had come up to prevent the destruction of the Cat’s Room. Or worse yet, that Akito would go back on her word.

Kyo stepped into the house and slipped off his shoes, never letting go of Tohru’s hand while absently listening to her chatter on about what Uo and Hana and her had talked about during lunch. They’d banned him from eating lunch with them today, claiming they needed their own “Tohru time”, so he’d spent the lunch break up on the roof, sulking. After school though, they’d gotten to walk home together by themselves, since Yuki had Student Council stuff he had to take care of.

He furrowed his brow. Something was off. Then he looked down at the shoe pile again. There was an extra pair of shoes, one he didn’t recognize the style of. Who else was here? He grabbed Tohru’s arm, immediately ready to defend her from an intruder.

“We’re home!” Tohru called out.

There was a rustling sound from Shigure’s room and then out stepped….Akito?

“What are you doing here?” He asked her unthinkingly.

“Now now Kyo, don’t be rude,” Shigure admonished him, also stepping out from his room. “I know this might seem a bit unexpected to an uncivilized mind such as yourself, but Akito is here as our guest. You should treat her as such.”

“That’s not what I meant,” He growled. “She’s never visited before. I just wanted to know why she is now.”

She smiled at him tentatively, “I come bearing good news.”

Instead of responding to that, he raised an eyebrow at her. Why the hell was she speaking so formally?

“Right. Right. The Cat’s Room is being destroyed in one week. I thought you might want to know. Maybe come by the estate to watch it happen.”

“That’s wonderful news!” Tohru exclaimed. “We’ll be there!”

Kyo had a question in mind, “Is it going to be during the school day?”

Tohru immediately became flustered, “Oh no! I didn’t even think about that! And exams are right around the corner! I was just so lost in my own joy and relief about the situation! I’m so sorry! Akito, you planned this amazing event and we might not even be able to”-

Kyo gently bonked her head, diverting her attention back to him, “Hey! Don’t freak out about it. If it is, we’ll figure something out. But we should know one way or another.”

She beamed up at him and he felt the telltale heat of a blush on his cheeks, “You’re right! I’m sorry for freaking out.”

He rolled his eyes, “It’s fine. You’re allowed your feelings.” He turned to Akito, “So? Is the demolition going to happen during school hours?”

She didn’t respond. Almost seemed hesitant to do so. Uncertain even. Which wasn’t like her at all and seemed really strange to Kyo. “The demolition team hasn’t confirmed an exact time yet. They said sometime in the afternoon to early evening.”

“Which means?”

“Que sera, sera,” Shigure suddenly chimed in. “It means we don’t know right now. But even if you do have to miss one day of school, how bad would that be?”

He scowled at him while Tohru suddenly began to freak again, “Exams are soon! Missing one day could mean missing important information. We could fail them!”

Shigure shrugged, “In which case, you’ll make them up. No biggie.” Kyo continued to glare at him, while rubbing soothing circles on Tohru’s back. “All right. Fine. If it’ll make you happy, I’ll see if I can get special permission from the school for you to miss one day. Shouldn’t be too hard. After all, I know your teacher quite well! She’ll be glad to hear from me!”

Kyo didn’t trust his too wide grin and suspected that part of that was a lie.

Tohru murmured, “But...the ice crystals.”

“Tohru you’re not making any sense! Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it right now!” He pulled out his phone and began texting someone. “Meanwhile, don’t you two have homework to do?”

Tohru flushed, “Oh no! I completely forgot! We have that essay Kyo-kun!” She grabbed his hand and pulled him up the stairs and away from the other two. The last thing Kyo heard before they were out of earshot was Akito asking Shigure “So….how much does this particular teacher hate you?” and Shigure’s responding laugh.

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For once, Shigure wasn’t a complete idiot. While the demolition was, in fact, occuring during school hours, it ended up being pretty easy for them to get out of going to school that day.Yuki had insisted upon coming as well, but considering how their relationship was slowly changing that wasn’t the shocker it once would’ve been.

But he hadn’t expected Momiji and Haru to announce that they were coming as well the day beforehand. Or to come at all. After all, whether or not the Cat’s Room was destroyed didn’t affect them or their lives at all. It wouldn’t have even if the curse had never broken. So why did they even care?

A tiny, nasty, stubborn voice in the back of his head suggested that it was because they felt guilty for the way they viewed him when they were zodiac members and were only doing it to atone. Another nastier, louder one suggested that they actually didn’t care and were just using this as a way to get out of going to school for a few hours. Problem was he couldn’t actually see that actually occurring to either of them as something to do. Not unless Haru had gotten angry recently and he seemed like his normal chill self the past week.

So a week later saw the five of them being let out of school after their third period, waiting in front of the building for a car that somebody on the estate had sent. Kyo was purposefully ignoring the curious looks they were being given by their classmates. As well as the chatter of his cousins around him. For once, he was being weirdly subdued, not saying anything to anybody. He knew he was worrying Tohru with the way he was acting. Even the dumb former rat was giving him strange looks, as if wondering what was going on.

But he couldn’t help but continue to wonder. Why was it that everybody was coming with him? Was it pity? Guilt? Had somebody else coaxed them into it? He didn’t know. And not knowing was making him feel very uncomfortable. While normally, he’d lash out, he didn’t feel like that would be the appropriate thing to do this time. Not when they were all taking time out of their day to come to his thing to support him

Finally, a car pulled up and they all piled in. The chatter around him never ceased. But the thoughts in his head only increased. And as the car drove down the familiar path to the Sohma estate, he found he couldn’t take all the unanswered questions anymore.

“Why are you guys coming to this thing?” His voice rang through the air, silencing everybody. All eyes immediately turned to him, making him twitchy. “Why do you even care that the Cat’s Room is being destroyed? It wouldn’t have affected you one way or another if it wasn’t. What’s in it for you?”

Maybe that was a little blunt, but well. He didn’t have the patience for niecities right now. Nobody looked offended though. Tohru seemed relieved. Yuki confused. Haru and Momiji understanding. Like they understood what he was really asking.

Momiji and Haru responded simultaneously.

“Because you’re our friend and we love you!”

“Because I care about you baka neko.”

“Don’t call me that!” He snapped.

Haru looked guilty, “Sorry. I wasn’t thinking. Gotta unlearn that shit, huh?”

“Things have changed Kyo,” Momiji informed him seriously. “I’ve always considered you my friend. We both did.”

Yeah, a friend who they pitied and looked down upon and viewed as lesser than were grateful that they weren’t. A little bit of bitterness still clawed at his throat. He looked down at the floor.

“There are others coming. Rin. Kisa. Hiro. All of them want to watch the Cat’s Room be destroyed,” Haru revealed.

“But….why?”

Haru shrugged, “Cause they care about you. Same as we do.”

“There’s a lot of people who love you Kyo-kun! They know how amazing you are!” Tohru chimed in.

He still didn’t get it. He really freaking didn’t. Nor did he completely believe Haru. He scowled, unsure of how to feel about all this….affection he supposed it was. A show of solidarity without the curse hanging over them.

“We’re here,” Yuki suddenly announced, looking out the window.

They climbed out of the car and made their way up to the estate. He kept hold of Tohru’s hand, refusing to let it go, but knocked with his other one. The doors opened to reveal Shigure on the other side, a rare serious expression on his face. The five of them walked through the door.

“This way.”

Shigure led them to the Cat’s Room. As if they couldn’t have found it on their own. As if everybody didn’t already know exactly where it was and they’d spent years pretending it didn’t exist. Just like they tried to act like Kyo’s ultimate fate didn’t exist for all those years.

“Akito-san said to send her regards. She’s disappointed she couldn’t make it.”

“Why couldn’t she come?” Kyo asked.

“She got caught up with some urgent family business that she couldn’t get out of and nobody else could take care of. Therefore, I’m stepping in as her subsistatue,” Shigure replied, but Kyo didn’t miss the significant look he gave Yuki and Haru. “The demolition team hasn’t arrived yet, but they’ll be here within the hour. In the meantime, you should enjoy your free half day.

They turned a corner and there it was. The Cat’s Room. Looking weirdly small despite the power it’d held over his fate for almost his entire life. Right by it were Hiro, Kisa, and Rin- just like Haru had said. As well as Kagura and Kazuma. And….Hatori? What was he doing here? They’d never been close.

“Everybody loves you Kyo-kun! Look at how many people came out to celebrate the Cat’s Room being destroyed,” Tohru said softly to him, picking up on his thoughts.

“Yeah, this is just a bit….unexpected.”

Kazuma walked up to him, a smile on his face. “I never thought I’d live to see the day, but here it is! I’m so happy for you son. I’m proud of you!”

He rolled his eyes, “What’s there to be proud of? I didn’t do anything! Akito was the one who ordered its destruction.”

“Yet there were obstacles in the way that you had to face. Ones you faced with strength and dignity and without losing your temper, if what I heard from Yuki is true.”

He blushed, “It was nothing. I just knew if I lost my temper, he’d use that as an excuse to try to get me to be locked up.”

“Yes. He would’ve. Miserable man that he is,” He ruffled Kyo’s hair. Kyo scowled and ducked away from his hand, not wanting the others to see. “Now, I heard that the maids are serving saki to celebrate the occasion. I think I’ll go get myself a glass. Tohru, would you join me?”

“I’d be honored to Kazuma Sensi!”

She glanced over at Kyo and he smiled at her, silently letting her know he’d be fine. They untangled their hands from each other and off she went, following Kazuma to a side house.
Kyo began to meander, watching his cousins interact and talk with each other. He saw Kagura and figured he should say something to her, but before he could, Rin stepped in front of him, blocking his path.

“What the Hell are you doing?” He exclaimed.

“I wanted to talk to you.”

“Okay. So talk.”

She looked around them, at all the watching eyes, “Away from the others.”

He rolled his eyes. So this was why Kazuma had asked Tohru to join him. He thought it was to have a private conversation with her. Apparently not.

“Fine. But it’s not like we’re going to be able to find any privacy with this bunch around.”

She gestured for him to follow her. He looked skyward, annoyed, but did so. She strode towards the Cat’s Room before making a sharp turn just before they got there, avoiding the others with ease. From there, she led him past a few houses into some bamboo woods on the edges of the prosperity that he’d never known were there. Finally, she stopped and turned to him.

“When I first learned that Tohru was in love with you, I didn’t get it. What the Hell did she see in you? You were the cat. Meant to be pitied and hated- nothing more.”

His hackles rose, “Yeah, well our relationship is really none of your fucking business. We don’t need your approval. And I sure as fuck don’t want it.”

She silenced him with a glare, “Calm down Cat Boy. You’re going to like what I have to say.”

He highly doubted that.

“When I first met Tohru, during her visit to me in the hospital, I asked her what was the most important thing to her-”

“Her mother,” Kyo interrupted her.”Back then, at least.”

She gave him another look, “Let me speak. I asked her what was the most important thing to her and she didn’t reply. More like, she couldn’t reply. She almost did, but then faltered. I took back the question, not wanting to pressure her. That’s when I noticed that she was quietly breaking inside. Pretending like everything was fine and putting on a smile and a cherry attitude while shoving down unimaginable pain and hurting deeply on the inside. Just to keep those around her at ease. Putting everybody’s needs above her own and not thinking about herself at all.”

She paused.
Kyo spoke into the silence, “That’s Tohru for you. It’s one of the things I love and hate most about her. She never considers her own needs or wants. She should.”

“I agree. I don’t know if you know this, but I’m not great at looking out for myself. Haru’s always been the one to take care of me when I’ve pushed myself too far. The one to reassure me that I’m not a burden. The one person who sees beneath the mask of indifference I put on when I’m breaking inside and will take care of me like nobody else will, or even can, in those moments.The one person who can convince me to accept help when I need it, even if I really fucking don’t want it.” She paused again.

“Why are you telling me this?”

“I’m getting there. After Tohru left, I hoped to myself that she’d find somebody to do for her what Haru does for me. She deserves it.” She paused yet again, but seemed to be choosing her next words carefully rather than waiting for him to reply, “Do you remember that day I visited after Tohru got home from the hospital? The one during which the three of us, Haru, and Yuki played Kingdom Hearts for hours on end?”

“Vaguely.”

“Do you remember what I said when you sat down in the main room to join us?”

He wracked his brain, trying to remember. To come up with something. “No, I don’t. My attention was elsewhere.”

She honest-to-God smiled at him. It was small, but it was there, “I know. I said “oh I understand now. You and Yuki thought it was in reference to the game and I didn’t correct you.

“I’d gotten to Shigure’s before you four did and when you’d arrived, Tohru immediately started talking about how she needed to prepare snacks for us and how sorry she was that she hadn’t done so earlier and made to go into the kitchen. She seemed a little off, so I didn’t think that was wise. Before I could say anything though, you, who had been watching her like a hawk, reached out and gently grabbed her by her uninjured arm and pulled her to you. You declared something like “Nope, school was rough on you today. You need to take a break.” When she protested, you responded back with, “You’re barely able to stand right now. Go. Sit down. Before you work yourself into exhaustion.” She tried once more, saying that she needed to make snacks for your guests, which you countered with, “What? Like I don’t know how to cook? I’ll make them!” Finally, she agreed. But before you left, you made sure she got situated comfortably on the floor with an extra pillow for her arm.”

He was blushing. He was seriously blushing now. “How the fuck do you remember all that?”

“It made an impression. After you left, I made a comment about Tohru turning Kyo into a doting boyfriend. Tohru quickly corrected me, letting me know that you’ve always taken care of her- even making her soup and letting her vent once when she was sick not long after you entered your second year. That’s when I realized.”

“Realized what?”

“That Tohru already had somebody in her life that takes care of her the way Haru takes care of me for a while. You.” She looked down at the ground, took a deep breathe, and looked him directly in the eye. Kyo took a step back from the intensity in her eyes. “I owe you an apology Kyo. I’d completely misjudged you for years, letting the curse dictate how I’d thought of you and what I viewed you as. Despite knowing how fucked up it was. I don’t expect you to forgive me, but I’m sorry. You’re good for Tohru. She deserves to have somebody like you by her side. She needs somebody to look after her and you will,” She said it like a challenge.

“Of course I will. I already do.”

“I know that now. Anyways,” she let out a long breath of air, “that’s all I had to say.”

She turned around and made to leave. Before he was fully aware of what he was doing, he reached out and grabbed her arm before she could. She paused, but didn’t turn her head.

“Thank you. For apologizing. And for being honest. And I forgive you for all that shit. The curse fucked us all over and you weren’t the only one who viewed me that way.”

“You’re nicer than you seem Kyo.”

He huffed, “I’ve been told that before. Let’s get back to the party.”

They’d probably never be close, they were too similar for that. But at least now they could be somewhat friendly towards each other. They walked side by side back to the main area, an understanding between them. Kazuma smiled when he saw them and Kyo’s earlier suspicions were confirmed. He pointed towards them and Tohru turned around so that she was facing them. She beamed when she saw him and ran up to him and grabbed him by the hand.

“The demolition company arrived while you were gone Kyo-kun!” He saw the silent questions in her eyes. He shook his head. “Shigure was waiting for you before he gave the order to have it destroyed.”

He interlaced their fingers, “Well then. Let’s get this show on the road!”

Shigure looked over at him from where he was with the demolition team, a question in his eyes. He nodded silently. Shigure tilted his head and smirked before saying a few words to them before stepping back. The men got into the demolition thingy and started it up, making their way to the Cat’s Room.

“Exciting, isn’t it?” Kazuma whispered to him.

“That’s one word for it.”

He knew he was supposed to feel excited as he watched the wrecking ball swing back and forth, creating a large hole in the Cat’s Room. Ecstatic even. But he didn’t. Couldn’t. Even as all of his cousins cheered or watched with large grins. Even Hatori.

Yet as the Cat’s Room continued to be destroyed, the main thing he felt was relief. As well as a few other emotions he couldn’t identify. Here it was. The one thing that had been held over his head for his whole life- what was for years his inevitable fate- being destroyed. He was actually, finally, fully free to live his life how he wanted to. On his own terms. Without the threat of confinement hanging over his head.

It was a little overwhelming, if he was being honest with himself.

Tohru squeezed his hand, directing his attention to her. She looked up at him with worry. He smiled gently at her, removed his hand from her left one, slung his arm around her shoulders, and grabbed her right hand, pulling her closer to him. The future was scary, but he had Tohru beside him to face whatever challenges came his way and Kazuma to help him through them. They’d be okay. He’d be okay.

For once, he actually believed that last part.

Chapter Text

“New Year’s is coming up in a couple weeks,” Shigure remarked casually one evening a couple of weeks later. Too casually.

“Yeah, and?” Kyo asked, not really wanting to know where he was going with this, but getting the sense that Shigure wouldn’t drop the topic until he said whatever it was he wanted to say. He was already twitchy anyways. Tohru was working today and wouldn’t be home until later. He missed her.

“Well that means New Year’s Celebration at the Main House, doesn’t it? Even if things are going to look a bit….different this year.”

“How so?” Yuki asked in a would-be casual way.

“Well the dance won’t be happening of course! How sad I’ll be to miss that! Especially since Hatori and Ayame were supposed to be dancing this year!” He wiped a fake tear from his eye. “Also, my dear Akito has decided not to participate in this year’s festivities. How sad I’ll be not to see her there!”

Well that last part Kyo actually believed. Even though he didn’t trust anything else coming out of the former dog’s mouth.

“Doesn’t Akito have to be there?” Yuki suddenly asked. “As head of the family isn’t it one of her responsibilities to plan, oversee, and attend all New Year’s festivities?”

“Plan and oversee- yes! But nowhere does it say she has to attend them. Not if she doesn’t wish to. And she’s decided she doesn’t wish to.”

“The maids must be overjoyed about that,” Yuki muttered sarcastically, though Kyo noticed a hint of relief in his tone.

Shigure shrugged, “They’ll get over it. Also! She’s decided to open up the festivities a bit.”

Now Kyo was weary, “What does that mean?”

“Exactly what it sounds like! She’s going to allow more people to attend them!” But there was a gleefulness in his eyes, as if he were hiding a secret, that made Kyo’s uneasiness grow.

“Which people?” He barked.

“Oh you know! She’s going to allow you to attend if you so wish. And all the family members of the zodiacs.” He paused, as if for dramatic effect. Kyo and Yuki both glared at him, knowing he wasn’t finished. “Oh! And their partners- provided they know about the zodiac. Isn’t that wonderful news?”

And it was. He and Tohru would be able to attend. He knew she’d love to see all of his family members and they, her. She’d probably also try to insist that it was too much and she couldn’t intrude.

But….there was another reason Shigure had brought this up. Something he was trying to accomplish. Kyo couldn’t figure out what though. He gritted his teeth with frustration.

“I wonder if Manabe will want to come. I’ll ask him when I see him next,” Yuki said off-handedly and then froze, as if he’d realized what he’d just revealed.

Kyo was confused though. They all knew he was dating one of the members of his student council. A girl by the name of Machi. But he thought her last name was Kuragi. Guess he was wrong. Wait….he’d just referred to Manabe as a “he”. What the hell? But he knew this had to be handled delicately. Yuki clearly hadn’t meant to reveal that and he didn’t want to ruin whatever peace had risen between them.

“I thought you were dating that Kuragi chick! Are you gay now?” He blurted out.

Great going Kyo, he thought sarcastically.

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Yuki knew the moment Kyo put it together and braced himself for the impact. Sure enough….

“I thought you were dating that Kuragi chick! Are you gay now?”

He took a moment to compose himself, “Yes, I was dating Machi. However, it didn’t take long for either of us to realize that neither of us were really romantically interested in each other and would work better as friends.”

“And now you’re dating her brother?” Yuki could see almost Kyo’s brain working overtime, trying to process this information.

“Yes. Before you ask the other question you’re so clearly going to ask: we got drunk one night after the Student Council Meeting and I let slip a few things. Including how we used to be cursed.”

Kyo chuckled at that, “You got drunk? I wish I could’ve seen that!”

Yuki was most sincerely happy that he hadn’t. He’d never live it down if Kyo knew how cuddly, needy, and talkative he got while drunk. He was also a little surprised at the lack of judgement, but he wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

“I’m sure you do. Unfortunately for you, that’s something you’ll never see.”

“Ahhh never say never Yuki,” Shigure interrupted. “After all, this year you’ll be old enough to drink at the New Year’s Eve banquet. I’m sure you’ll want to indulge a few with your dear older brother!”

Yuki blanched at that idea, “No thank you.”

“Awwww why not? Watching you and Ayame drunk together would be so much fun! And he’d enjoy it!” There was mischief in his eyes again.

“That’s exactly what I don’t want to happen.”

His older brother’s idea of fun was drastically different from his own. And he’d already seen his older brother drunk once before at an impromptu party he and Shigure had set up right after the curse had broken. He shuddered at the memory. Once was more than enough, thank you very much. He’d barely escaped with his sanity as it was.

“But it’d be such a great bonding time! You and Aya could compare notes! You’re already aware he’s a bottom and-”

“That sentence is over!” Yuki hissed, standing up and heading towards the stairs. He was done with Shigure, please and thank you very much. Before he started up the stairs though, he had to ask an important question. “Is it actually okay for us to invite our significant others? I know Akito is allowing it, but aren’t others protesting against it?”

The face of an old, higher-up maid- one who’d enforced everything Akito said for years on end and followed her everywhere, but hadn’t been around any of the last few times he’d been at the main estate-flashed in his mind.

Shigure smirked, “Oh there are those who are against it. But they’ll have to deal. After all, some of the former zodiac member’s have already stated they’re bringing their loved ones. You and Kyo shouldn’t have any issues!”

It was Kyo’s turn to flash Shigure a skeptical look, “Who?”

“I’m not sure I understand what you mean by that!”

Kyo huffed, “Who has already stated they’re bringing somebody with them?”

“Really Kyo you should make your questions clearer so that there’s not this type of confusion!” Shigure scolded jokingly

“Just answer the question!”

“Oh! Well Ayame’s bringing Mine of course! Ritsu is bringing Mit-chan. She found out by accident when they first started dating apparently. Kagura is thinking of bringing her parents. And Hatori is bringing Mayu-san!” He smiled gleefully at that last one.

Poor Mayu-sensei. Shigure looked ready to torment her.

“Shiraki-sensei knows about the curse?” Kyo blurted.

“Well I assume so since Hatori said he’s bringing her.” He looked over at Yuki, “You really should bring Kakeru. It would be good for both of you for him to meet the rest of your family.”

“I’ll consider it.”

Shigure seemed to accept that and finally went back to the book he’d been perusing before starting the conversation. And Yuki was going to consider it. But he’d have to think it over carefully before making a decision one way or another. Kakeru in that environment would end up ending either excellently or horribly and he wasn’t sure he was ready to take that risk with him yet.

He was halfway up the staircase when he heard quiet footsteps behind him. “What do you want Kyo?” He asked without turning around.

“I just wanted to let you know I’ve got your back. You know. In case anybody decides to act like a dick about you bringing Kakeru at New Year’s,” Kyo mumbled.

Warmth welled up in his chest at Kyo’s unexpected promise. “I appreciate that.” He continued up the stairs, but still felt Kyo’s eyes on him. “Was there something else?”

“I was just wondering how you….ya know….knew you weren’t straight I guess?”

Yuki whirled around, “Why do you want to know?”

Did Kyo think he…? No. It wasn’t possible. Kyo was the straightest person Yuki knew. Then again, Yuki thought the same of himself not even three months ago.

Kyo shrugged, “Just curious, I guess.” Yuki gave him a skeptical look. “Oh don’t give me that look! I’m straight. Far as I know. Just wondering how someone realizes something like that.”

Yuki relaxed infitensemely, “I’m not sure. It took a lot of self-reflection and realizing that I’d been lying to myself about certain things, including how I felt about women and men in a more general sense.” More specifically about how he’d felt about Kakeru specifically and why he couldn’t stop staring at his lips during some of their conversations. “I’ve always been different from those around me because of the curse. I didn’t want to be different for other reasons too. So a large part of it was finally becoming okay with the possibility that I might be gay. Once I became okay with it, the rest of the pieces revealed themselves to me, like a puzzle. I figured it out about two months ago. Tonight was the first time I’ve told somebody else besides Kakeru and Machi,” He admitted.

“Okay. But why didn’t you tell anybody else? No judgement. Just wondering.”

“To be perfectly honest, I was worried about how the other members of our family would take it. If they’d look at me differently. You yourself already indicated that you think some of them might be assholes about it.”

Kyo’s brow furrowed, “True. But what about Haru? Your brother? Why didn’t you tell them? They’ve always been open about who they are. And they love you.”

“Yes, but that’s them. They’ve always been pretty unapologetic about who they are, uncaring of what others think about them.”

“But you do care?”

“Perhaps.”

This conversation was getting more personal than Yuki was planning on and while he was more comfortable with the other boy, he wasn’t about to let Kyo know just how desperately he needed everybody around him to like him at all times for the longest time and was only recently starting to care less about what those around him thought about him. They weren’t there yet. Although he sincerely hoped that somebody they would be.

Kyo huffed, but didn’t push the issue. “Yeah. Well. Thanks for answering my questions.”

“It was no problem. I actually quite enjoyed our conversation. You know, you’re not as much of a dick as you used to be.”

“Yeah, well you’re not as much of a condescending asshole as you used to be. Doesn’t mean we’re friends or anything.”

“Of course not. But, perhaps, we don’t have to be rivals anymore?” Yuki breached tentatively.

Kyo considered, “Yeah why not? Isn’t like we’ve actually been enemies in a while. At least not since the curse broke. What the fuck are we then?”

“I believe the appropriate term would be “friendly acquaintances.” Also, technically cousins.”

Kyo mauled it over, “Works for me. You really going to bed or was that an excuse to escape Shigure?”

“I’m really going to bed. I have an early Student Council Meeting tomorrow. Why? Do you wish to join me?” He smirked.

“Oh fuck you!” But there wasn’t any bite to it. Kyo turned around and stomped down the stairs while Yuki chuckled at his back.

This had been….an interesting development. But not one he minded. In fact, he quite liked getting along with Kyo and he was certain Miss Honda would be happy when she found out that they were getting along better than ever. Perhaps they could eventually actually become friends like he’d wanted them to back when he was a child. That would make him happy.

Kyo would have to stop being a stubborn bastard for that to happen though and he wasn’t sure he saw that happening anytime soon.

Chapter Text

“Who’s this?”

Hiro stared up at Yuki and Kakeru with a combative expression. Things had been going well during the New Year’s Eve celebration at the Sohma estate. Nobody had said anything before now, even though it was obvious the maids highly disproved of him bringing a male as his date, despite not having said anything about it. They'd been treating Kakeru somewhat coldly all night. The other zodiac members had welcomed his boyfriend without any questions and Ayame had been downright delighted to see him, immediately engaging him in conversation and, most likely, plotting things with him that would spell serious trouble for Yuki later on.

Oh well. It had to end sometime he supposed. And, judging by the look on Hiro’s face, that time was now.

“This is Kakeru Manabe. He’s my boyfriend. Kakeru, this is my cousin Hiro.”

“Sup shorty?” Kakeru greeted with a two-finger salute.

Hiro scowled, “I'm not short! I’m a first year middle student. Are you really so stupid that you can’t understand that?”

“You’ve got a temper there don’t you short stuff?”

Hiro’s scowl deepened, “Since when are you gay Yuki? Aren’t you against….all that?”

Yuki froze, but before he had to respond another sweeter, but determined voice spoke up. “Hiro! Don't insult Yuki Nii-san by putting words into his mouth!And why would you ask something so personal? Maybe he didn’t want us to know before now! You shouldn’t pry into others lives! ” Hiro blushed, sputtered, and began to apologize as Kisa strode into view and bowed to Kakeru. “I’m so happy to meet you! I’m Kisa Sohma!”

Yuki watched as Kakeru positively melted, “I’m Kakeru Manabe. It’s a pleasure to meet you, little one. How are you on this fine holiday?”

She beamed at him, “I’m great! I’m so happy I get to celebrate New Year’s with my family!”

“And I’m sure they’re just as excited to celebrate it with you,” He replied with complete sincerity. Not that Yuki was surprised. That was the effect Kisa had on people.

She beamed at him, “I’m going to go sit with Tohru Onee-chan! Would you like to join us?”

Before they had to awkwardly deny her request since Kakeru still felt a little uncomfortable around Tohru because of their past, a voice rang through the room and saved them.

“Yuki! My beloved younger brother! What are you doing all the way over there? Have you abandoned me so? Oh no! And just when I thought our precious brotherly bond was growing exponentially! No, that can’t be it! I refuse to believe it! Come, come sit next to me so that we may share our joys and sorrows and deepen our love for each other! Also, be sure to bring that lovely man of yours with you! I wish to get to know him better!” Ayame cried out dramatically.

For once, Yuki was grateful for his older brother’s over-the-top antics. Kisa giggled and Yuki smiled gently at her, “I’m sorry, but we can’t. Next time, though,”

“Next time,” She agreed and they parted.

“She seems sweet,” Kakeru commented.

“She is. She’s also the only one who can fully control Hiro. Although he’s getting better at not being a little shit.”

He smirked, “Not unlike orangey and Tohru-chan, huh?”

“Exactly like Kyo and Honda-san,” Yuki confirmed, sitting down beside his brother.

Along with the three of them, Mine, Hatori, Shigure, Haru, and Mayu-Sensei were also in this little cluster. It was a bit weird seeing Mayu-Sensei outside of school, but he knew he'd get used to it. Across the room, Kyo, Tohru, Kisa, Hiro, Momiji, Momo, and Rin had gathered, talking among themselves, although Momo seemed to be observing more than anything else. And near them, Mit-chan, Ritsu, and Kagura were clustered into a small corner, chatting while Kagura braided Ritsu’s hair. It was a bit weird not seeing Kureno or Akito anywhere, but he supposed that was going to be the new normal from now on. Best get used to it. Although, he figured it was something that wouldn't take long to get used to.

The next couple of hours went by surprisingly fast, with everybody chatting, joking, eating, playing, and occasionally moving around to hang out with other people. Although Yuki noticed that Kagura stayed away from Tohru, Ayame never left Hatori’s side, and surprisingly, Rin stayed far away from Shigure to the point of leaving if he approached the group she was in. Eventually, however, it all got to be a bit too much, and Yuki started to feel overwhelmed. “I’m going to go get some air,” He murmured to Kakeru.

Kakeru gave him a worried look, “You doing okay?”

“I'm a little drained, but otherwise fine. I need to get away from everybody, but will be back soon,” He squeezed Kakeru's hand reassuringly.

“I understand. Promise to come back to me when you’re done, my beloved President?” He fluttered his lashes dramatically.

Yuki rolled his eyes at his antics, but couldn’t prevent a small smile from escaping. “Yeah. I shouldn’t be too long.”

“Okay my love,” Kakeru squeezed Yuki’s hand and rejoined the animated conversation that Ayame and Shigure were having. Whatever it was, it was causing Hatori to face palm. Which was to be expected.....

He strode out of the Main Room, down the hall, and out of Akito’s house/office/the main place for all major zodiac get togethers. From there, he passed by a couple other houses, turned and continued walking until he felt like he was far enough away that nobody would bug him. He picked a house at random, walked around to the side of it, and leaned against it, letting out a breath. After a second, he slid down to the ground. Nobody could see him here. Therefore, nobody could judge him.

The last few weeks had been….overwhelming. Exciting and good, but overwhelming. First that situation with his mom. Then there was the mess with the Cat’s Room before it was finally destroyed. And now it was New Year’s Eve and Kakeru had met his family, who seemed to be getting along with everybody. Even Rin and Hiro had warmed up to him a little over the past couple of hours. Probably due to the jokes he made at Yuki’s and his own expense. Not that Yuki minded it that much if it meant people accepted his boyfriend.

Thinking of Kakeru made him think of Kyo which made him remember the conversation that Kyo, Momiji, and Haru had had in the car the day the Cat’s Room was destroyed. Kyo genuinely seemed to doubt that Momiji, Haru, and the others had liked him before. Which made no sense whatsoever. He’d always had a great relationship with the others and had been friends with them years before Yuki and even Haru had started to hang out. Not to mention that he didn’t really know the others before Tohru had come into their lives and shaken everything up. He’d only known them in passing. Why had Kyo doubted that they’d really liked him? Unless there was something he was missing?

Oh. Speak of the devil. A familiar orange head came into view, rounding the corner of one of the houses he was in between and heading straight towards him.

“Oh shit,” Kyo murmured, “Sorry. Didn’t know you were here. I’ll find somewhere else to go.”

“It’s all right. Are you trying to get away from the chaos as well?”

He grimaced, “Yeah. No offense, but your brother and your boyfriend are a lot. Throw Shigure, Kagura, and Ritsu in the mix...”

Yuki winced, “That does sound unpleasant.” He hesitated, but then continued, “You don’t have to leave if you don’t want to. There’s plenty of wall here for both of us.”

“Uhh. Yeah. Sure. I guess. Long as you don’t mind silence.”

“I’d quite prefer it actually.”

“Good.”

Kyo slid down the wall of the house opposite of Yuki and they sat in- well, it wasn’t quite companionable, but nor was it antagonistic or indifferent- silence. Rather it was something in between. Something awkward and tentative and fragile and fierce. Yuki was scared of breaking it and so, it appeared, was Kyo. It was a sort of the beginning of an understanding with the knowledge that they weren’t completely there yet.

The atmosphere of calm lasted for the entirety of ten minutes. Kyo started to twitch, opened his mouth to say something, and then closed it again. Lapsed back into stillness. But it wasn’t long before he started to move again. Shifting his body and his eyes. Looking uncomfortable. It was amusing at first, but not for long.

“Did you want to say something?” Yuki finally asked him, when it got to be too much.

“I’ve just been thinking. It’s been a bit of a chaotic year, hasn’t it?”

“That’s an understatement, to say the least.”

“Yeah, I know. But think about it. Everything that’s happened. Who could’ve predicted it?”

Yuki considered it. The former cat did have a point. The curse breaking in the spring had only been the beginning. And the things he’d been thinking about earlier only the most recent. Finding out that Akito and Shigure were together- now that had been a shock. Yuki had never suspected it. Then again, nobody really knew Shigure. Kureno had seemingly disappeared. Nobody in their family at least had heard from him since that past Summer. Everybody else who'd lived on the estate had moved off it, although some of them stayed nearby. Hatori and Mayu-Sensai had gotten together (with a little help from Yuki, Haru, and Momiji). And from the gossip he'd heard from Shigure, Akito had been making big changes in the family structure and how it worked, often having to fight against many of the maids to do so. He’d himself had appointed his successor as president. The fangirl club had gotten a little….extra passionate in the last few weeks. Not to mention the Cultural Festival and all that involved. And now they were planning their graduation and moving away in just a couple of short months. Speaking of, he'd overheard Kyo and Kazuma-Sensei talking the other day and.....

“You’re going to take Honda-san away from us aren’t you?”

Kyo winced, “It’s going to be her decision. I won’t force her to move away if she doesn’t want to. People have made long-distance relationships work in the past.”

“As if she would say “no” to you.”

“It’s been known to happen once or twice.” Yuki wondered when that was. He scratched at his head, “You remember our first meeting?” Kyo suddenly asked.

As if he could forget it. Kyo had blamed him for everything that’d gone wrong in his life and yelled at him while he’d been struck by how beautiful Kyo’s hair was and how much he’d wanted to be his friend.

“Vividly,” He responded coolly.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot. And I figured. I dunno. That I owe you an apology or something. I judged you without knowing you. I blamed you for shit that wasn’t your fault. Even though I fucking hated it when everybody else did it to me”

Yuki was taken aback and deeply touched, “Thank you. However, weren’t you also a kid suffering from your own problems?” He replied, giving Kyo an out.

He didn’t take it, “Doesn’t justify my behavior back then. It’s not like you killed my mom or made my dad hate me.”

“Well. Then I appreciate the apology and you should know that I forgave you long ago. For what it’s worth- your dad’s a dick and you didn’t deserve that.”

“Yeah, well, so’s your mom and you didn’t deserve whatever shit she gave you.” Yuki startled. “What? You going to pretend like the scene I saw in the kitchen was the first time she’d pulled something like that?”

“No. It wasn’t. She’s done it before. Quite a few times, to be frank. She actually did it at my parent-teacher meeting last year.”

Kyo winced again, “How’d that go?”

“Surprisingly well actually. Ayame showed up in the middle of it and took over. First time I was ever relieved to see him. It also showed me that my mother literally cannot handle him.”

“Dude, nobody can handle your brother. Except for Hatori and Shigure and Mine and maybe Mayu-Sensei. Is it just me or is it a bit weird to see her outside of school?”

“It is. However, she makes Hatori happy so I’m willing to put up the awkwardness.”

“Guess you’re right. While we’re showing each other our scars, did you know that a lot of people speculated that Kazuma only took me in to get the Sohma money? Others outright stated that I was nothing only a burden to him.”

“Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me. People are assholes.”

“You said it.” He studied Yuki for a moment. “You’ve changed. You’re not a stuck-up, arrogant, condescending prick anymore.” There was genuine affection in his tone under the insults though though, so Yuki didn't get mad at him for them.

“So have you. You’re not the trigger happy, idiotic, hotheaded asshole I re-met that first day at Shigure’s house,” He replied with a smile.

Kyo huffed, “Yeah, we’ve both changed. A lot. For the better I think.”

“It’s been a long time coming.”

They sat there in silence for a few minutes and Yuki knew that Kyo was reminiscing about that past. About everything that had happened since one Tohru Honda came into their lives and shaken everything up while worming her way into the hearts of everyone in their family. Including it’s most hardened and vicious members. Those early months had been rough, but eventually things had gotten easier. Something occurred to Yuki. A question he’d always had, but never asked, knowing he’d get punched if he voiced it. Maybe not anymore though.

“Is it all right if I ask you something?”

“You just did.”

Yuki rolled his eyes, “Can I ask you something else smart-ass?”

“I guess.”

“I never understood why you wanted to join the Zodiac so badly. I was desperate to get out, I couldn’t fathom ever wanting in.”

“Was there a question in there somewhere?”

“Well I ask my question is - Why? What appealed to you so much about it?”

Kyo tensed, his face scrunched up and his fists balled and he began to breathe deeply through his nose. Yuki wondered if he’d crossed a line- was about to take the question back- when Kyo answered.

“You know how the other zodiac members saw me. How they treated me. Yet they pretended like we were friends. I thought….maybe if I became a full fledged member of the zodiac that might change.”

Yuki got the sense that Kyo was holding something back, was still hiding something, but he wouldn’t push. It had been a rather personal question after all. There was something that bothered him though.

“What do you mean how the other members saw you? They were your friends. Long before I was ever friends with any of them.”

Kyo rolled his eyes and his voice became harsh, “You know what I’m talking about. Don’t pretend like you don’t.”

“Kyo, I’m not pretending. I promise,” He let some of the confusion he felt show in his voice,“I feel like I’m missing something and I’d like to know what it is. I honestly don’t know how they viewed you. Please tell me.”

“They pitied me!” Kyo barked harshly. “Kagura admitted that the only reason she played with me as kids was because of it. But the others felt it too. That and hatred. They just never said it. At least Kagura was honest about it. They were glad that I was born with the Cat Spirit. It helped them to feel better about themselves. Knowing they’d never have to live in isolation, already hated by the rest of the zodiac just because of which zodiac spirit they born with. Not to mention how they refused to look at me when I was in my true form. Those friendships you saw were born of pity and a secret twisted, joy that they weren't me. Don’t pretend you didn’t feel the same way.”

“I didn’t,” Yuki replied honestly.

He was starting to realize that he and Kyo had more in common than he'd previously thought. How many times had Akito told him that the other zodiac members hated him? How many times had one of them proved it, either directly or indirectly? At least before him and Haru had become friends. Even then, the others mostly stayed away from him until he’d gone to live with Shigure.

“You….didn’t?”

“No. If anything, I was envious of your freedom. You got to live on the outside while I was stuck on the inside, having to be by Akito’s side every day.”

Shit. He hadn’t meant to reveal that. He hoped Kyo hadn’t picked up on that but, judging by the look on his face, he wasn’t that lucky.

“What do you mean by that?”

“We were discussing you.”

Kyo gave him a look, “Uh-uh. Nope. Tit for tat. Not looking for all your secrets, but you gotta give me a little.”

Before Yuki could decide whether or not to respond, a figure glided into view. A woman with long, black hair and Akito’s sharp features. Shit. Ren. Akito’s mother. Yuki didn’t know much about the woman, but what he’d heard wasn’t good. Apparently, she'd been a large part of the reason Akito had been the way she was for so long.

“Ahhhh two of the Sohma boys. Yuki and..." she struggled for a moment, "Kyo, was it?”

Kyo didn’t respond, which Yuki thought was probably wise.

“Tell me- are the two of you here for the New Year’s Eve celebration?”

They nodded simultaneously.

She chuckled ominously and when she spoke her tone was falsely sympathetic, “Ahhh yes. The New Year’s Eve Celebration. You know that celebration was once very important to Akito. She was convinced it was some of the most important proof of the oh-so-important bond she had with the jyunnshi. Because no, matter what, you all always came back to her during these few days. Even you Kyo, even though you weren’t allowed in, having been born with the monstrous Cat Spirit.”

Kyo flinched. Yuki moved to go sit by him, but then thought better of it.

“Was that cruel? I apologize.” She didn’t sound sorry. “Anyways, as I was saying, Akito was convinced that this was the some of the most significant proof of your bond to her. I tried to tell her she was wrong, but alas, she wouldn’t listen to me. Now look!” She cackled and her voice took on a mocking edge, “The curse broke, proving that I was right all along! And she’s not even allowed to celebrate the New Year’s with her precious zodiac. And you two! You’re all out here by yourself! Talking civilly! Everything she believed was wrong. And I was right! The bond she had with you was nothing! The only important bond was the one between me and Akira!”

Yuki looked over at Kyo who had a real “what the fuck” expression on his face. Yuki suspected his face was showing something similar.

She paused. Came over to Yuki and bent down, gently cupping his face. Yuki tensed. “You know I remember how much she adored you. Not as a person, oh no. Rather as a tool to be used to prove her point. That’s why she kept you locked away, you know. Day in and day out, never allowed to see anybody else. I used to sneak out of my room and come visit you at night after you fell asleep, you know. I almost miss seeing you all the time. Yet, I’m so proud of you. Of how you managed to escape from her. Of how you managed to prove my point rather than hers. Of how you've helped destroy that pathetic bond.”

Yuki could feel his eyes widen in fear and his vision became blurry. His chest constricted and his breathing became shallow, struggling to get air in. His mind had gone blank, panic taking over as he struggled to tune her words out. To speak up and defend himself, but he couldn’t. There was a more important task right now. He needed to stay alive.

He was vaguely aware of people exchanging words. Somebody was getting terse. Impatient. Then Kyo’s voice came through loud and clear.

“You need to leave NOW! Before I make you leave!”

That somehow got through to him. His vision cleared to see Kyo standing over Ren, his fists clenched, but she looked unamused. “Oh look! The monster is proving he’s exactly whom everybody believes him to be. Just as the rat is proving to be just as pathetic as everybody says he is.”

Kyo reached to grab her but she easily dodged him. Yuki got shakily to his feet, determined to help in any way he could.

“Kyo? Yuki? Where are you guys?” Mayu-Sensei’s voice broke through the tension from somewhere to his right.

Yuki cleared his throat, “Over here. Between two of the houses.”

She came into view and sprinted towards them, “Hatori! Hatori! I found them!” She turned to them, “You two idiots have been missing for almost an hour. Everybody was worried.”

They smiled sheepishly and spoke at the same time.

“Sorry. Just needed some air.”

“I apologize Mayu-Sensai. I needed some fresh air.”

“Yeah, well you’ve both certainly got enough of that. And who are you?” She asked Ren as Hatori turned a corner and came into view. He paled and immediately rushed over to them, stepping in front of them as if to protect them from Ren.

“Ren-san,” He said coolly.

“Hatori,” She responded flirtatiously. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you. Too long, wouldn’t you agree?”

“I wouldn’t say so, no. What are you doing outside of your room?”

“What? Can’t I go for a walk on New Year’s Eve?”

“It’s cold out. You shouldn’t be outside for too long. Especially not while wearing something like that,” He gestured towards her outfit, which Yuki noticed for the first time. It was little more than a satin nightgown.

She smiled at him and lifted her fingers to caress his cheek, “Always so caring Hatori. I like that in a man,” she purred. Mayu- Sensei scowled at her.

Hatori grabbed her wrist and gently pushed it, and the hand attached to it, away from him. “I’ve been told. If I may be a tad arrogant, it might be part of the reason I’ve been lucky enough to capture the heart of this amazing woman right beside me. Ren-san meet my girlfriend, Mayuko Shiraki. Mayu, this is Sohma Ren. She's Akito's mother.”

Ren pouted, “Fine. Take me to my room.”

He nodded. Glanced over at Yuki and Kyo. “You’ll find the main path by walking behind these houses, turning left, walking past three more houses, and then turning right. I trust you’ll be back at the main house shortly. Mayu- if you would join me in escorting Ren back to her room.”

“With pleasure.”

The three of them left, leaving Kyo and Yuki by themselves again. The latter of whom tried to ignore the curious and worried looks he was getting from the other as they began to walk back.

“You okay?”

“I’m perfectly fine,” He lied. Then thought better of it, “Actually, no. Would you mind distracting me for a bit?”

“Uhhh sure.” He scratched at the back of his head. “When I see your brother and boyfriend again there’s a halfway decent chance one of them might try to kill me?”

Yuki started at that, “Why?”

“About ten minutes after you left, they started getting worried. Somehow they decided that I would be the best person to come find you,” He scowled.

“Yet you came searching for me anyways?”

“Yeah. I only agreed cause I did actually need some air. Figured the same was true of you and I’d find you, then leave you alone. And it was the only way to get those two idiots off my back.”

“Yet you stayed there with me. Why?”

“I dunno. Area seemed peaceful. And you weren’t in a chatty mood. Figured I could keep an eye on you to pacify those overprotective hawks while getting my head back on straight.”

“Why did it take them almost an hour to send Hatori and Mayu-Sensei out after you then?”

It was a rhetorical question, but Kyo answered anyway. “No clue. Maybe they thought we’d killed each other or something and wanted to make sure they had an alibi for when the police came crawling around.”

Yuki snorted, “As if you could kill me.”

Kyo glared at him, but there wasn’t any real anger in his eyes. “Watch it rat boy! Unlike you, I’ve been keeping up with my training. I’d kick your ass!”

“You could try.”

Kyo huffed at him, but didn’t respond. They lapsed into silence as they found the Main Road and began walking back towards the Main House. As was typical for tonight though, it didn’t last long.

“Hey Yuki? Can I ask you a question?” Kyo’s voice was unusually hesitant and Yuki had a sneaking suspicion what this was about. That didn’t mean he had to like it though.

“You just did,” He echoed Kyo's earlier answer, buying some time.

“Smartass. But no- I have a legit question for you. And you don’t have to answer if you don’t wanna. I get that it might be kinda personal.”

Yuki sighed and got straight to the point, “Is this about what Ren said back there?”

Kyo nodded.

“Did you want to know what she meant by that?”

Another nod.

He let out a long breath while deciding what, if anything, to tell Kyo. It was clear on his face he’d let it go if Yuki asked him too, but Kyo had showed him some of his scars tonight. It was only fair he did the same. Then again, Kyo had only showed him part of those scars, not letting him know how deep they ran. Couldn’t he do the same?

“She was telling the truth. I spent a lot of time here as a kid. Sometimes for days or weeks on end.” His whole childhood really, but what did that matter? “My parents were both really busy and didn’t have a lot of time to take care of me. My dad worked a lot and my mom was a part of a lot of big name charity groups.” Only to make herself look good, but that was irrelevant to this conversation. “Anytime I was here, I was expected to be Akito’s playmate for the duration of my stay. I wasn’t allowed outside that room except for school and martial arts classes when I was visiting Akito,” He kept his tone carefully calmed as he revealed all this.

Kyo stopped in his tracks, his expression going through a myriad of expressions as he took that all in, “Wait. You weren’t allowed outside at all when you were visiting Akito?”

“That’s correct, yet,” He replied, also stopping.

“What about our first meeting?”

“I’d sneaked out. I got reprimanded for it once I was back inside.”

“Jesus Christ. Wait…..what happened when you were visiting and Akito had one of her tantrums?”

Yuki couldn’t help it. He flinched.

“Wait seriously? You were expected to stay beside her even when she was attacking people? That’s messed up.”

“She was God. I was the rat. It was my duty as the one closest to her to stay beside her, no matter what.”

Kyo stared at him incredulously and Yuki turned away. He couldn’t handle seeing the pity in his eyes. “That’s so fucked up. And knowing her, she probably put you through some shit as well.” Yuki flinched again. “Fuck. Sorry. Didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.”

“I know you didn’t….It’s just…..not something I don’t like to talk about.”

“I don’t fuckin’ blame you. But hey, at least it was only part of the time, right? At least you weren’t anywhere near her and her bullshit most of the time, right?” He started walking again and Yuki did as well.

“Yes, I suppose that’s true.” Even though it wasn’t at all.

“Damn dude. I’m sorry you had to go through that shit. You didn’t deserve it.”

“Thank you,” Yuki replied as the Main House finally came into view. Yuki groaned as he looked through the windows. Ayame and Kakeru both had their noses pressed up to the glass, clearly waiting for him to get back. He knew the moment they spotted him because they both began to rush outside. “They’re going to be more bothersome than normal, aren't they?”

Kyo smirked, “That’s what you get for disappearing on them for over an hour.”

“Weren’t you with me for most of that time?”

“True. But Tohru and the others know I can take care of myself. Unlike your weak, fragile ass,” Kyo teased.

Before Yuki could respond, Ayame and Kakeru both threw themselves on him and Kakeru began smothering him with kisses while they both over dramatically expressed how worried they’d been about him and tried to make him swear he’d never worry them like that again and said whatever other drivel nonsense crossed their mind, and he was forced to reassure them over and over that he was okay while also re-assassing his life choices in allowing Ayame back into his life and choosing Kakeru as his boyfriend. Or Haru as one of his closest friends, as he wasn’t far behind the other two. And although he was currently staying back and watching the whole thing unfold with amusement in his eyes, Yuki knew he’d give him his own brand of over dramatic affection later on.

Despite his outward annoyance though, he was secretly elated. He had finally found the love and connection and family he’d so desperately wanted as a child, and somehow these three insane men had become a part of that family. He was happy in a way he’d hadn’t thought was possible for him when he'd been a child.

Once he managed to untangle himself from Ayame and Kakeru, he looked around for Kyo. He was unsurprised, but a little disappointed to realize that he wasn’t anywhere he could see him anymore. Ahhhh well. He’d probably gone inside to reunite with Tohru and the others. He was sincerely happy for him. After all, the former cat deserved his own happy ending just as much as he did.

And it appeared as if they’d both finally gotten it.

Chapter Text

“Hey Kyo?” Tohru’s voice rang out, breaking the comfortable silence between them.

“Hmmmmm?” He responded.

She began to fidget, twirling her fingers through his. They were currently in her room, doing the first bit of homework they’d been assigned after coming back from winter break. Or at least, that’s what they were supposed to be doing. Somehow, their homework had been discarded somewhere else on the floor, and they’d laid down and began cuddling. He thinks it started with Tohru oh-so-conveniently mentioning how she’d missed having his arms around him all day while they’d been at school, forced to behave “properly” while there. And Kyo, naturally, could never not give Tohru something she’d wanted, not when she so rarely asked for things, that he’d just slid his arms around her and…..hadn’t let go. Not that he was complaining. He’d never once imagined that he could have this. The girl he loved, who loved him back, in his arms without the threat of the Cat’s Cage looming over him.

It was bliss.

“Can I ask you something? And you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to!! Not if it’s too personal,” She squeeked out, flustered.

Kyo gently tilted her chin so that their eyes met, staring into them lovingly. “Hey! Don’t worry about offending me or crossing a boundary. I’ll almost always answer your questions, dummy. And if I ever don’t, it won’t be because of you or something you did. Got it?”

She nodded minutely, beaming up at him.

“Now what was it that you wanted to ask?”

“It just seems like things between you and Yuki-kun are changing. Are you guys friends now?” She looked so hopeful at the idea.

Kyo carefully considered the question. Were they friends now? It didn’t seem that way. “It’s more like….we’re starting to understand each other better now. Realizing we misjudged the other.” He barked out a bitter laugh, “Rat Boy’s life wasn’t as perfect as I thought it was. But no, we’re not friends.”

“But you could be?”

He almost instinctively said “no.” But then he considered the question more carefully. Were he and Yuki becoming friends? Was that even a possibility for them? After everything? Perhaps it was, but he wasn’t completely convinced of that.

“Maybe. I don’t know. At the very least, we’re no longer enemies and I don’t think we ever will be again. We're friendly acquaintances,” He allowed.

She beamed up at him, “That makes me so happy! I always wished you guys could be friends!”

He stared at her lovingly, “I know you did. Do. But nothing’s certain.”

“Still! Just the fact that you think it’s possible!”

Her eyes are filled with so much love and adoration as she looks at him, and Kyo can’t help but think, not for the first time and certainly not for the last time, just how lucky he is that she loves him. That this amazing, selfless, and incredibly wise girl cares for him. He knows that if he were to say this out loud though, she would just claim that she’s the lucky one, with how he takes care of her and how kind and strong he is. Which would start a mini-fake fight that eventually ended with both of them admitting that maybe, just maybe, they’re both incredibly lucky to have found each other.

He moved his arm around, trying to get them back to a comfortable cuddling position, and in doing so, accidentally poked her in her ribs.

Tohru squealed.

Wait….what was that? He looked down at her, to see that she’d hidden her face. But that couldn’t hide the red that was spreading across it. He poked her again, this time deliberately, and she squealed again.

“Tohru….are you ticklish?”

“No- no,” She sputtered unconvincingly.

Oh this was great.

“So then you won’t mind me doing this!” He replied, tapping his fingers against her ribs, while moving his hands up and down them. She burst into laughter and instinctively kicked at him. He dodged her, but then got back to what he’d been doing until she was completely red in the face and out of air. Then, and only then, did he let up.

She glared up at him ineffectively, “You tickled me!” She accused him, but there was laughter in her voice.

“Yes, and I’m going to do it again!” He threatened playfully.

“You wouldn’t dare!”

“Wouldn’t I?” He held up his hands and moved them slowly towards her. Before he could do anything though, she jumped on top of him, pressing her lips to his. He kissed her back automatically, all thoughts of tickling her having fled his brain. All thoughts in general having left his brain actually. He grabbed the back of her head and pulled her closer to him until she laid on top of him.

Her lips tasted so sweet, and oh god, he could do this all day. She pulled back for a second to breathe, but he attached his lips to her neck, alternating between nipping and sucking gently. She gasped and he felt her hands tug in his hair. He pulled back and she dove in for another kiss, biting at his lips before caressing his lips with her own. She pried his mouth open with her lips and he slipped his tongue into her mouth with a gentle thrust before pulling back out again. His hands began to roam underneath her shirt and he felt hers on his chest. One of them gasped. He didn’t know who.

He pulled back again and reattached his lips to her neck while his hands came up to cup her breasts. They’d done this before, but each time it was a revelation, new and beautiful in its own way. He slipped his hand under her bra and she moaned as his thumb repeatedly slid across her nipple, teasing her. Not that he was being any quieter as she grinded against him, her center against his growing erection driving him crazy with want.

Suddenly, a very loud knock rang through the room interrupting them. He ignored it, instead taking off her bra and then her shirt. Her beautiful breasts were revealed to him and he leaned forward, gently licking at one of her buds while caressing the other one with his hand. She moaned loudly.

There was another knock, this one louder and longer. He ignored it again, instead focusing on driving Tohru crazy with his tongue, lips, mouth, and hands. He could live off of the sounds she was making right now, he swore he could.

There was yet another knock, this one even louder and it didn’t stop this time. Kyo finally pulled himself away, grumbling about how people couldn’t mind their own business and leave them be. He walked to the door, opening it just enough to see Yuki’s scowling face, but not enough for him to see anything that he shouldn’t.

“What?” He hissed.

“As happy as I am that you finally got your head out of your ass and are now with Miss Honda, can you please restrain yourself from…..doing certain activities while I’m home? These walls are quite thin.”

Kyo felt heat on his face, “We thought you had a Student Council Meeting! And then were hanging out with Manabe after!”

“Clearly, I’m not,” His reply was terse.

“Well, it’s not like we’re going to do anything now anyways! Your incessant knocking ruined the mood.”

“I did not need to know that.”

“That’s what you get for interrupting us,” Kyo smirked.

Yuki just glared at him, not having a comeback for once, and eventually turned around headed for his room. Before he entered it though, he turned his head back around, “These walls are very thin. If you’re too loud again, I’ll be nice enough to come and let you know,” he said with a “princely” smile that Kyo thought was more of a threat than anything else.

Kyo slammed the door and turned back to Tohru, closing his eyes in frustration. Hit his head against it. Once. Twice. Then opened them back up again to see that Tohru had sat up, put her clothes back on, and spread their Japanese, Physics, and Calculus homework out in front of where the two of them had previously been laying down.

“We really should get back to doing our homework Kyo-Kun!” She said brightly, but he saw the frustration in the tension around eyes, her smile that wasn’t as wide as it normally was. and the way she’d minutely tensed her body up. “And now that Yuki-kun is home, maybe he can help us out with math!”

Ugh. Calculus. The one subject they both weren’t great at. He walked over to her and sat down gracefully, “Maybe. Let’s leave that for later. I’m not sure Yuki would be too happy to see either of us right now after what he just heard.”

Instead of blushing and sputtering like he’d been expecting, Tohru instead smiled serenely, a glint of mischievousness in her eyes.Was she saying this on purpose?

“All right! Let’s finish Japanese first and then I’ll go grab him! He can come here to help us!”

Oh she was definitely doing this on purpose. Kyo wholeheartedly approved. He dragged the book they were currently reading and analyzing in Japanese in front of him and opened it to the chapter they were on, already starting to mentally prepare his outline for the short essay they’d have to write on this chapter.

Oh and plot his revenge on Yuki when Tohru dragged him in here. He was thinking about that that too, an evil smile on his face as he did so.