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Discoveries Chapter 28 Never-Ending Afternoon

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  • merr0w
    Hey all! This chapter is super long, clocking in at over 60 pages. This is actually the third version of this chapter I wrote. I originally was about 20 pages
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 5, 2011
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      Hey all!

      This chapter is super long, clocking in at over 60 pages. This is actually the third version of this chapter I wrote. I originally was about 20 pages into another version of it, but it just wasn't working AT ALL, so I started over. Then this chapter just didn't want to end! I still feel like it's not quite "done" but am posting anyway because I felt at it was getting a bit ridiculous not to post with so much written and how long it's been since I've updated. I'm sorry if it disappoints. Please give me honest feedback, I've lost most of my betas/feedback buddies due to my glacially slow update schedule (no fault but my own) so sometimes I feel like I'm floundering a bit.

      This will be up on Fanfiction.net tomorrow.


      "Wow, I can hardly believe it's the same apartment!" Morikawa enthused. "It looks great!"

      Tooru smiled and reviewed the changes with fresh eyes. The boys had done their best to make the apartment come together just like she'd imagined. The white walls were pristine and smooth, the floor gleamed with the harsh cleaning and polish they'd worked into the wood. The curtains had been ironed and re-hung with care and now fluttered in the breeze. They'd secured their promised furniture and it had gotten the same treatment as the rest of the room, the table and desk shone. Both were decorated with cheap linen doilies and little white bud vases, each proudly displaying a little bit of greenery Yuki had bought from the corner drug store.

      Not to be outdone by him, Kyou had added his own touches, hanging a shelf on the wall for Tooru to put their dishes, teacups and teapot and another for whatever knick-knacks she wanted. Currently there was a pretty stone she'd found on their first trip to the local park, a feather Kyou found on their balcony, and a cherry tree sprig they'd found on the walk outside the complex. It rested in it's own little vase and continued to bloom against all predictions. They'd gotten a mat to hold their shoes by the door, and brought home the little refrigerator they'd put a deposit on. The table sat in the center of the room, under the ceiling lamp just as Tooru had planned.

      Under the table was a thick, woven rug, a happy circular thing of green and yellow with a border of cheerful white daisies. The boys both hated it and had looked at her like she was nuts when she'd asked if they could buy it. She knew they disliked it, and knew that it was as ugly as anything could possibly be. But the carpet had been buried in the back of the clearance section with it's tag marked down no less then five times, until it was dog-eared and nearly falling off. It looked lonely and unloved and she just had to bring it home and let it serve the purpose it was made for. It was warm, sturdy, would likely outlast their apartment stay. It was also cheap, and the boys couldn't come up with a reasonable excuse not to get it so Tooru had gotten her way again.

      She was being spoiled by them both, her every suggestion indulged. If only that was what she needed to make her happy. She glanced at the balcony where Yuki was currently trying to pretend he wasn't paying attention to their conversation as he filled a cheap plastic trough and a couple of pots with soil and seeds in an attempt to start a small window garden. Kyou was out looking for a job, and probably wouldn't be back for hours still. Except for when they crawled into bed each night, the boys didn't speak to each other and tried their best not to be in the same room.

      "Are you ready for school tomorrow?" Morikawa asked peering at the stone on the shelf bringing Tooru back to the present.

      "I think so," Tooru nodded. "Yuki-kun and I have gotten all our books and supplies. I washed and ironed our uniforms. I wish I could make a lunch to bring."

      "Sometimes the ladies in the cafeteria will let you use the kitchen if you ask nice," Morikawa said. "And you get up early enough not to get in the way of the breakfast rush."

      "Really?" Tooru bounced in place.

      "You have to bring your own food too, of course." Morikawa smiled. "But yes, Akane does it all the time... whenever she finds a new boy to fall in love with she makes them a bento."

      "Oh," Tooru frowned, wondering vaguely which Akane liked to make bentos, she still hadn't quite gotten them straight, "But since we thought we'd be buying, we don't have bento boxes."

      "We could go and pick out some from Bargain Fuji," Yuki said coming in from the porch. He shook his head to get his bangs out of his eyes. "We have plenty of time before dinner, and it's a nice day out." They were becoming well-known at the bargain store. They'd been in almost every day this week for some necessity or other.

      "Mmm," Tooru cast an eye outside. It was a sunny, cheerful day. The weather was starting to warm, and the spring rains were starting to become less frequent so it should stay clear the whole day through. That was why Kyou would likely stay out until dark trying hard to find a job.

      "Well, I'll let you two go then," Morikawa shuffled, nervously adjusting her glasses and glancing at the door.

      "Oh, you don't have to," Tooru hurried to protest.

      Morikawa had been stopping by to check on them and help get them settled. But Tooru had noticed that the moment either boy spoke the girl tended to retreat. Most of the other students were still regarding them as curiosities to be observed rather then potential friends. Somehow it had gotten around the dorms that they weren't brother and sister and that instead Tooru and Yuki were betrothed. Abe had cheerfully asked for confirmation at breakfast a few mornings ago.

      Yuki had figured Urishima had let it slip to someone and had probably done so on purpose. They weren't sure why everyone assumed it was Yuki and Tooru who were paired up instead of Tooru and Kyou. Yuki had been too startled by Abe's question to deny it, so it had stuck. The residents were scandalized, including Morikawa. She was fine with Tooru alone, but seemed embarrassed by Yuki. She seemed even less comfortable with Kyou. The cat had made a poor impression on the entire complex. Morikawa, like the rest, seemed to find him close to terrifying.

      Unlike the others, Morikawa at least tried to be friendly. She went out of her way to sit with them at breakfast and dinner and stopped by after school for little visits. Yuki didn't know if she was doing out of genuine friendliness or as a perceived duty as the floor's RA, but he was glad she came by. Tooru lit up during her visits.

      "Would you like to come with us?" Yuki asked, quirking his eyebrows hopefully.

      "No, no," Morikawa held up her hands and pushed at the air as if to propel herself backwards. "I have homework that I should get started on."

      Yuki was about to offer his tutoring help to get her to stay around when Tooru gave an understanding smile and let the other girl off the hook. "Of course," Tooru smiled, "we won't keep you then."

      Morikawa gave a small, tight smile and turned to leave. "I'll see you at dinner!" She hurried out the door, then paused for a moment. "I'll introduce you to the head cook, and you can ask about using the kitchen tomorrow."

      "Thank you!" Tooru said following her to close the door and peeking her head out. "I really appreciate everything Morikawa-san does for us."

      "It's no problem," Morikawa gave an awkward half-bow as she hurried up the hall.

      Tooru glanced down the hallway and saw one of the other doors quickly nudge shut and a couple of the curtains twitch. The moment any of them stepped out of the room, it felt like the entire complex was watching. She suppressed a sigh, turned to re-enter the apartment and close the door only to find Yuki was standing right next to her.

      "Oh!" she said with a start. "I didn't hear Yuki-kun."

      "I'm sure that once people get used to us..." Yuki smiled gently at her and smoothed a stray hair off the side of her face, "we'll all make lots of friends." He couldn't care less about finding friends. He had everything he needed in her, but friends were important to her. He leaned down and touched his forehead to hers. He knew once people got to know her their apartment would be crowded with people visiting, they just needed a little time for people to get comfortable.

      Tooru's cheeks blossomed. "I...I know." She tilted her head up and he obliged with a quick kiss. She knew neither of the boys were comfortable as they had been before the mess earlier in the week, but at least when they were alone with her they were no longer shy about expressing their feelings, at least physically. She felt the door click behind her as Yuki pressed it completely closed. His arm blocked her from moving back into the room and his other hand had slid from her hair to the back of her neck where his fingers lightly caressed her skin.

      His quick kiss became another, and then a longer one until she found her back flat against the door as he crowded closer. He leaned on his arm against the door, using it to keep him just far enough away so he wouldn't transform. She sighed when he let her up for air, and found her fingers tangled in the belt loops of his pants. She blinked, and looked back up just in time to receive another kiss. His hand had wandered from her neck to her hip. Her skin prickled as one finger worked it's way under her shirt and stroked at the skin on her hip.

      Every moment alone with one of the boys was spent in soft touches and kisses. When Kyou was out on his run or looking for work Yuki was looking at her with needy eyes and invading her space. If Yuki went out to the store or was in his bath, Kyou would batter her scorching stares and burning kisses. When the three of them were together, silence reigned and the air turned stagnant.

      Tooru knew that both boys were aware of what was happening when they were out of the room. When Kyou came back from a run he'd make a lot of noise as he entered and make a show of taking off his shoes before he'd look in the room. Yuki would rattle the bathroom door on its track before he exited and would keep his eyes down as he entered. It wasn't a secret, they just didn't talk about it... to each other, amongst each other, not at all. The situation kept their new rule of "no secrets," but just barely. It didn't make her feel any less guilty. But the guilt wasn't enough to make her want to stop.

      Her mother had always been affectionate, and if Tooru hadn't been hanging off of her mother, her Mother had been hanging off of Tooru. She frequently surprising her daughter with tight hugs and ruffled hair. Uo-chan and Hana-chan had filled some of that void after her passing. Uo-chan frequently had slung an arm around Tooru's shoulders in a quick rough hug. Hana-chan used to treat her like a pet, grooming her hair and petting her. These months alone with just the boys had been nearly devoid of anything but fleeting hand-holds and occasional late night snuggling.

      She hadn't realized how much she had been craving touch until she suddenly had a chance at it again. She was addicted. Any time they got in reach her skin started tingling. She wanted to brush her fingers through their hair. She loved the smooth skin on Yuki's arms and the broad, strong expanse of Kyou's back. And, when they were alone, they were anything but unresponsive. If it was this powerful for her after only a few months without any kind of casual intimacy she couldn't imagine how it was for them. Neither kept it at a "casual" level for more then a few minutes.

      Yuki's hand was now on the small of her back, under the rim of her shirt. His fingers were splayed as if he wanted to touch as much of her as he could with that one hand. It felt cool to her burning hot skin.

      He broke the kiss and looked down at her, and she could swear his eyes were glowing. "Maybe I should practice now," he said. His hand twitched on her skin, sliding over and pushing her shirt up just a bit more.

      "Practice?" Tooru repeated, lost in the violet depths of his eyes. Yuki kept everything so close inside, she was never sure what he was thinking. But when he was like this it was like his feelings were being projected into her heart, making it beat fast. The air on sliver of skin he exposed made her shiver.

      "Tooru," he whispered, practicing her name, "Tooru...Tooru...Tooru." He leaned closer and used the hand that had been braced against the door to tuck her hair out of the way. His fingers lingered, tracing the shell of her ear.

      "Oh," she breathed.

      "Tooru," he said again and pecked at her lips. Both his hands settled on her waist, once again nudging her shirt up so that he could feel her skin.

      Her fingers were hopelessly caught in his beltloops, twisted up and clutching at his hips for support. Her legs had gone to jelly. When he dipped down again, she met him with parted lips.

      She wasn't sure how much time they'd lost leaning against the door. But Yuki's hands had worked their way up from her hips to her waist, maybe just a bit further, leaving her stomach exposed. She could feel his hands moving, the air against her skin and she could feel herself trembling. She tried to hold herself still, but she couldn't and she pressed forward.

      Yuki stepped back quickly, breaking the kiss. They both gasped for air and looked away from each other. Yuki turned away completely, facing back into the room.

      "I...I'm sorry," Tooru whispered. Her whole body felt like it was on fire. If he hadn't moved she would have transformed him. She shuddered and rubbed her arms, feeling the heat seep out of her now that he wasn't penning her in.

      Yuki scrubbed a hand through his hair, but didn't turn to her. Why was she always apologizing for such amazing things? "No, no... that was, uh..." He trailed off, they both knew there wasn't anything to say about it. "Um, we should get to the store."

      "Yes," Tooru gasped. "Oh, yes, the store." She had to get out into public because she didn't know how much more time alone she could stand with Yuki. She'd shatter into pieces; a million ecstatic pieces. "I...um, need to freshen up." She had to wash her face. She didn't know if she could look at herself in the mirror. She'd promised no secrets, made them promise there would be no secrets.

      "Mmm," Yuki agreed and moved further into the room without glancing at her.

      She gingerly moved past him and into the bathroom, glancing back at his hunched shoulders. Guilt was thick in the room. Why did she feel like they were swimming in secrets?


      "No reading. Buy it or put it back."

      Kyou looked around and then at the register. He was the only one in the store so the clerk had to be talking to him. "Yeah." He muttered and walked up to the register. "Um, I'll take this." He put the employment guide on the counter and dug in his back pocket for some change to buy it. It was the third he'd gotten today, and he was sure the Rat would have something snide to say about it.

      Or not, he thought wryly. The Rat hadn't said a word to him since the beginning of the week, he hadn't even given him a dirty look since that stupid fight over the curtains. He pushed that thought from his head and ignored the clerk's continuing stare as he exited the store.

      He'd gone in thinking of asking if the store was hiring. He hadn't even bothered asking, the clerk had begun the stare-down the moment Kyou had entered the store. He recognized the look, he'd seen it a lot. It was the "I can tell you're trouble just by looking at you" look. Most of the Sohmas, outside the Junninshi, looked at him that way and just about everyone at Cherry Street complex. He missed Mai's restaurant and Enoki's crew. The whole town had taken Mai's lead and just treated him like regular person, and on Enoki's crew they didn't care what he looked like as long as he did his part. But that look was back and it hurt worse now and cut deeper.

      He glanced at the sun and tried to figure out how much longer he should keep looking today. He had hours until dinner. He could go back to the apartment. If he stuck around long enough, the Rat would find an excuse to go out. Then he could lay on that horrible rug, the part that got warmed by the sun from the window. Tooru would laugh at him, and lay down next to him. And-

      He stopped that thought in it's tracks. He sighed and decided to find a park to look through his guides. He needed to find a job. They'd be going back to school tomorrow and in just a couple of weeks they'd have to pay the first semester's tuition. They had it, and enough for a couple of months of rent maybe a bit more if they were very careful with their money. He hadn't expected the money from Mai and Enoki to go so quickly, but the bits and bobs they'd bought for the house, and continued to buy, had dug deep into their funds.

      As soon as they'd stopped painting he'd gone out to try to find work. His choices were limited, not many people would hire someone so young, and without even a high school diploma he was stuck with jobs like cleaning, deliveries, or convenience store clerk. He'd tried first at some of the restaurants that had advertised dish-washing jobs, since they advertised decent pay. But, like Yuki had found when he'd tried looking for apartments, most of the jobs were taken withing a day of being published. Some of the restaurants wouldn't even let him in the door to talk to the owner, and the rest barely glanced at his reference letter from Enoki before saying no.

      Today he was trying convenience stores, he figured with so many of them he was sure to find work. And as a plus, the new employment guides came out today so if he went to different neighborhoods he could get them all. He hoped with a fresh guide he'd have some hope of finding... something.

      Kyou detoured down a street he hadn't been on before to get to the park, lost in a fog of worries. He glanced around and found another convenience store. "They're like mushrooms," he muttered. But this one had a help wanted sign.

      He sighed and geared himself up. He looked at his reflection in the closest store window and straightened up as much as he could. Tooru had picked out his clothes, and trimmed his hair just yesterday. He was looking as good as he was going to. He took a deep breath and walked into the store.

      The clerk didn't look up from the magazine he was reading when Kyou walked in. Kyou looked down at his hands, nervously clutched around the employment guides he purchased. He stuffed them in his back pocket and straightened out his shirt one last time.

      "Um, excuse me," Kyou said, stepping up to the counter. "Um... your sign..."

      "Yeah?" The guy finally looked up after turning another page, he was pudgy and had thick, busy black brows. Kyou tore his eyes away from them. The clerk frowned at Kyou. "What sign?"

      "The help wanted sign," Kyou said, trying not to return the frown as he watched the clerk's eyes wander up and down him before raising again to settle on his hair. "Can I have an application?"

      The man's frown deepened. "We aren't hiring."

      Kyou glanced reflexively at the sign in the front window. "But-"

      "We aren't hiring," the man repeated.

      Kyou looked again at the sign, "But you have-"

      "Forgot to take it down. Position's filled." The man closed his magazine, and his beetle brows tried to meet in the middle of his forehead.

      "Oh," Kyou glanced at the sign again and back at the man who was still staring at him. He doubted the position was actually filled. "Um, can I get an application anyway? Just in case you get, uh, another opening?" He squared his shoulders, maybe he could come back when this clerk wasn't working. It wasn't like he didn't have the time. He might have better luck with a different employee.


      "No?" Kyou repeated.

      "Don't want to waste 'em," the clerk said shortly. He glanced at the door as a woman walked in. The woman shot them a quick look and nervously adjusted her purse on her shoulder, sensing the tension in the store. She glanced at the door like she was thinking of stepping right back out.

      "Can I help you with something, Ma'am?" The clerk went from scowls to smiles and his beetle brows jumped to hide in his hairline.

      "Juices?" She asked hopefully.

      "Towards the back, Ma'am... on the left."

      "Thank you," the woman nodded, giving a nervous smile before ducking down the isle.

      The man kept his smile for a second longer, nodding to the woman before turning a scowl back at Kyou. "Look, we don't have any jobs. Even if we had any jobs we wouldn't have one for you. We can't have someone with hair like yours at the register. Are you going to buy anything?"

      Kyou opened his mouth to protest that his hair was natural, but saw the woman who'd come in earlier out of the corner of his eye. She was lurking at the mouth of the isle like she was afraid to come out.

      "No, thanks," Kyou muttered and left the store. He looked up at the sun again, it hadn't budged. The days were too long. He found the park near the complex and scaled a tree, ignoring the gasps and cheers of some kids playing in the nearby playground. He took out the guides before he settled into the yolk of a tree and pulled out a pen.

      He breathed in the spring air for a few minutes, trying to release the pent up energy and anger that was flooding through him. The first few places he'd applied at, he'd gotten mad and loud. But that hadn't helped him get a job. All the lessons Shishou had given him about controlling his temper and why it was important were coming back to him, and he felt like he was just starting to understand them. Throwing his anger at every stupid clerk wasn't going to get him a job or help Tooru stay in school.

      He forced the fingers that were clenched around the pen to relax. He shook his head and shoulders to relax. He looked at the guides in his hand, and frowned. He could do this. He had to!

      Perhaps he should try for night jobs, they seemed to be more forgiving on appearances... or at least they didn't mention any in their ads. He took out a pen and crossed out some of the places that had a laundry list in the ads about types of clothes, tattoos and dyed hair. Even though he didn't have any of those things, they'd all have the same problem with his hair. He crossed out more that asked for 18 and over only. There were a couple for deliveries, maybe he should get to know the neighborhood better before going for those...?

      He sagged against the tree and let the spring sun seep into him. He wanted to go back to the apartment. It was long past lunch time, hours before dinner, and he was hungry. Tooru had started to make some things, using a rice cooker and a little crockpot she'd bought. It wasn't much, but she would make him some riceballs or something if he went home. But the thought of the stifling air at home kept him in the tree ignoring his stomach.

      He couldn't stand the quiet. Any time he moved the Rat would jump and if he spoke both Yuki and Tooru would flinch. Tooru and Yuki would exchange looks, and Kyou felt like they were always waiting for him to leave. The Rat especially got on his nerves, starting and skittering away any time he came anywhere close... like he was afraid to catch some sort of deadly disease just being in the same room. It made Kyou feel uncomfortable in his own skin and made the apartment the last place he wanted to be.

      It had been marginally better when they'd been painting and hauling furniture around. Then he had something else to focus on and he could ignore how familiar this feeling was. It reminded him uncomfortably of the days after his mother had died, before Shishou had taken him off the compound. He felt like the Cat again... he'd almost forgotten what that'd felt like.

      One of the kids below in the playground shrieked and Kyou glanced down at them, watching them chase each other around. It wasn't even him who'd freaked out. They were the ones making everything weird, Tooru acting angry and Yuki acting...weird about stuff. What, did they think it was his turn or something? The Rat freaked out, and Tooru freaked out... was he supposed to freak out now? Well, he wasn't. He was going to prove to both of them that he was stronger then they thought. They could moon at each other all they wanted, he wasn't going to crack.

      Those few and precious stolen moments he got when he was alone with Tooru were worth it. Every time he got taste those lips, and felt her skin, all the awkwardness faded away. He'd decided that he was going to take every bit of happiness he could while he could. Those moments were even more scarce now that he had to pretend to be just bystander every time they left the apartment. Tooru was suffering enough with the rumors about her and Yuki, he didn't need to add to it by being too affectionate for a brother of a fiancée.

      He loved waking up and finding her snuggled into his back and her breath on his neck. Yuki took forever to wake up and if he was lucky the Rat wouldn't be latched on for dear life. She'd tangle her feet up with his, which made his stomach twirl in such interesting ways, and tuck herself into his neck. But even if the Rat didn't let go, at least she was right there for him to torment and watch her blush. Yesterday he'd spent fifteen minutes stroking a finger up and down her collarbone (who knew collarbones could be so fascinating) and trading one long, hot kiss before the Rat had begun to stir.

      Tooru had jumped out of bed as quick as lightening and cast them both scared looks before ducking into the side room. Yuki had stared at him in sleepy confusion until he'd woken up enough to realize who he was looking at. Kyou had almost laughed at the way Yuki's eyes had widened to comical proportions. In a panic the Rat had been gone as quick as Tooru, only he'd disappeared into the bathroom. It was almost funny, except it sucked being the one left behind to fold up the futon.

      Kyou leaned back on the branch and stared up through the branches. The sun was struggling to fight it's way through the spring clouds. He could feel in his bones that it was going to rain tomorrow. Tooru's first day back at school would be a wet one. Did they have umbrellas? He turned his head and looked around the park.

      A group of middle school kids had started up an impromptu game of soccer, and a group of senior citizens were doing some sort of group exercise off to the side. Kyou felt his throat close up, thinking of Mai's restaurant. Kazuya, the little brat he'd hardly noticed when they were there, was probably playing soccer in the park right now. Ginta would be banging his spatulas on his grill and calling for clean plates and chopped vegetables, because the dinner rush would be starting soon. Hiroki would be making bad jokes and Mai would be fussing in somebody's life.

      And if they were still there, instead of here... they, the three of them, might be upstairs. Maybe Tooru and Yuki be studying. Or maybe Tooru would be working on mending, even though they were clothes they would probably never wear again. Meanwhile Yuki would be going over their finances again even though he'd memorized how much money they had down to how it broke down by bills and change.

      These little fantasies, both of what had happened in the past, and what would happen in the future, always broke down there. Because Kyou didn't see a place for himself in that picture. What had he been doing when they'd done that? Doing dishes in the kitchen? Out on a job with Watanuki or Enoki? Not exactly with them. And now? Tomorrow they'd be going to school, and he'd probably stay home in the apartment if it rained.

      But maybe, a secret part of Kyou whispered, if we were back at Mai's... we'd be upstairs doing katas...


      "Your clothes!"

      Kyou froze on the bottom of the stairs to their apartment and turned around. He frowned, "Oi! What are you carrying!"

      "Kyou-kun!" Tooru repeated, "Your clothes! Your new clothes!" She jogged up to him and turned him away from her and began to brush at his back and the seat of his pants. "There's marks! Black marks! What is this? It's sticky!"

      "Oi, never mind that!" Kyou said trying to look over his shoulder at Yuki. "What's the Rat carrying?"

      Yuki started at being addressed. "N-nothing." He looked down at the budging Bargain Fuji bags. Tooru had gone a bit nuts over the bento supplies, but they were all plastic and light. Even he could handle them.

      "Kyou-kun! Your new clothes!" Tooru repeated.

      "They're fine!" Kyou said jerking his arm out of her hand. "What're you doing letting the Rat carry anything?!"

      "They're not fine!" Tooru said darting around to examine his back again. "Is this sap?" He felt her hands press against his back as she pulled the fabric taunt to examine it. "There is bark ground in!"

      "The Rat-"

      "It's nothing, just some bento boxes and light things," Yuki said darting a quick glance between them. He could feel heat rising in his cheeks producing an embarrassing blush. It was the longest conversation they'd had all week.

      Kyou frowned, realizing the same.

      "Was Kyou-kun climbing trees?" Tooru asked plaintively. "In his new clothes?" It felt like she was picking at something on his back.

      "Oi," Kyou tried to look over his shoulder at her. "Is it that bad?"

      "Kyou-kun..." Tooru sighed, she walked around inspecting him for other flaws before looking up at him with sad disappointment. "I'll have to scrub at it..." They had been his nicest clothes! Sap was so hard to get out. It might not even be possible.

      "'mSorry," Kyou hung his head. Now he was wondering just how bad it was, and it explained a few snickers that had followed him out of the last few places he'd applied at.

      "Let's go upstairs and start soaking it..." She took his hand and started up the stairs, mind roving through options to clean it off. Hot water might melt it, but it would set in the stains from the bark... Maybe if she froze it, the sap would peel off...? Did they have any rubbing alcohol?

      "Baka Neko."

      Kyou started and looked back at Yuki. The Rat didn't look at him, keeping his eyes on the packages in his hands. He could see the tips of the Rat's ears poking through his hair, and they were beet red. Yuki's head started to lift and Kyou quickly turned forward, feeling his own neck heat.

      "Sorry for not being a priss like you, " Kyou muttered, and he heard the Rat stumble a bit behind him. Kyou resisted turning around and looking at him.

      Tooru watched the boys from the doorway of the apartment. She'd almost missed the quiet exchange, nearly the first words either boy had spoken to each other for a week. She looked at Kyou with wide eyes as he passed her as she held the door, but he didn't look at her and neither did Yuki.


      Kyou sat at the edge of the long cafeteria table. Tooru was by his elbow, with Yuki opposite her. The cat kept his focus on the plate. Morikawa was across from him, and he knew if he looked up at her she'd flinch or maybe even leave, and that would upset Tooru.

      He glanced off to the side, glad they'd been able to get a seat at the edge. If they sat in the middle, it was uncomfortably clear they were being avoided by the circle of empty seats around them. They'd learned not to sit all together on one side, because that left just Morikawa on the other which seemed to make the girl short circuit.

      It doesn't take much, he thought, to get her all flustered. He resisted glancing at the girl. He couldn't figure her out. She didn't seem to dislike Tooru, but she didn't seem to like being around them. He knew she didn't like him, and she seemed to have the typical crush on the Rat. The kind of crush that made girls go all gooey and stupid. Why does she bother sitting with us if she hates it so much? Maybe she just wanted to be near the Rat, even if he was "engaged."

      He concentrated eating the food on his plate. If he got done quick enough he could head back to the apartment and take a bath while Tooru and Yuki finished up. They usually liked to hang out in the cafeteria trying to mix with people, and that would go better if he weren't there. Then he could pull out a futon and have it ready. As awkward as things had become, it was still his favorite part of every day...

      A shiver coiled down his back and Kyou closed his eyes. Crap. The weather he'd sensed earlier was on its way a little sooner then he'd expected. He thought he'd had until morning at least, but it felt like it'd be raining before then. It wasn't going to be a bad storm, but it seemed like he felt the weather more since the typhoon.


      Kyou gave his head a little shake and looked over at Tooru. Had she asked him something?

      "Are you feeling well? You look pale."

      He couldn't resist looking at the girl across from him as he decided how to answer that. Morikawa jumped at his glance and he sighed. He was tired of being treated like a monster by everyone around him. He didn't have the patience for tact. He almost said what he was really feeling, that he felt like crap and his bones were starting to ache.

      But Tooru's big worried eyes made him curb his tongue. "It's gonna rain."

      Tooru's lips made a little "o," and she gave a quick glance at Yuki and Morikawa before putting a hand on his arm. "Is is going to be...bad?"

      Kyou shook his head. "No, not that bad." Her worried look lessened a little and he glanced at Morikawa to see what the other girl was making of this conversation. She looked confused, but if she had questions she was keeping them to herself. He couldn't help himself and his eyes slid over to Yuki.

      The Rat wasn't looking at him, his eyes were on Tooru and he was frowning. Kyou looked down before the Rat could catch him looking and get weird about it again. He felt his frustration rise, he just knew that Yuki was blaming him for getting Tooru all worried.

      "Do..." He looked up and Morikawa seemed to choke on her question, "erm... Do... do you have an injury or something?"

      He just looked at her wordlessly, wondering where that had come from. She seemed to shrink under his gaze. She glanced at Yuki and Tooru before rallying and explaining. "My Gran broke her leg when she was a little girl and she could always tell when it was going to storm. She said she could feel it in her knee."

      Kyou scratched the back of his head. "Something like that," he said finally.

      "Kyou is very sensitive to weather, it gives him migraines," Yuki said.

      "O-oh, really?" Morikawa adjusted her glasses as her cheeks flamed. "I've heard o-of that happening before. The pressure systems effect people that way. That must be hard." She glanced quickly at Kyou, then down to her hands before peeping at Yuki through her lashes as if to see if he approved.

      Kyou looked at Tooru and she was beaming at the Rat like he'd saved the day again. "I'm gonna go upstairs and take a bath."

      "Do-" Tooru started to stand.

      "Nah, I'm fine," Kyou cut off her offer to help. He just wanted to get cleaned up and lay down. When the weather hit, he wouldn't get any real rest. Not that I have anything to do tomorrow...

      "If you're sure..." Tooru said looking at his back as he left the room. He just waved a hand at her without looking back.

      "Will he be okay?" Morikawa asked. "He seemed...really irritated."

      Tooru bit her lip, wishing there was a window so she could see outside. It had rained only a few times after the typhoon, but it had been mild enough not to give him much problem. If he was feeling it already, was it going to storm? She shivered at the thought, she hadn't been through a real storm since the typhoon and was unnerved by how frightened she was at just the thought of it.

      "He was out for most of the day looking for work," Yuki said. "I'm sure he'll be fine after he takes his bath and lays down. Don't you think so?" Yuki looked at Tooru.

      Tooru blinked and nodded. "Yes," She said trying to make herself sound normal and confident. " Of course. We should let him rest."

      "Are you done with dinner?" Morikawa asked. "Do you want me to introduce you to the kitchen staff?"

      "Oh, yes!" Tooru looked at her plate, "Let me finish up." Kyou hadn't eaten well tonight, and if it was raining in the morning he might not come down to breakfast. If she could use the kitchen she could make something he liked for lunch. Perhaps some fried fish balls...

      Yuki smiled at her and concentrated on finishing his food though he wasn't hungry any longer. The Cat hadn't looked well. He wondered how much of that was the weather and how much was due to his job hunt. He hadn't said anything about it. If he'd found work he would have, to Tooru at least. Yuki wondered if he should hope the Cat got a job or not. If he didn't he might be convinced to come back to school.

      Yuki frowned, but if the Cat didn't get a job how were they going to pay their rent? Tooru and he hadn't gotten jobs yet either and their funds were dwindling. He didn't even know what kind of jobs he was qualified for... He wasn't like the Cat or Tooru, he didn't know how to do anything useful. He hadn't even thought about what he might do for a job. He still wasn't at his best physically, Kitagawa had told him to take it easy for the next couple of weeks, and he'd seen how counter-productive it was to push it.

      The Cat had bought some employment guides, maybe he should ask to look through them. Just to get an idea of what was out there. Or he could ask Tooru...


      Kyou's leg was cold. He grumbled to himself and shifted in the tub, bringing his leg back in. He huffed under is breath and squirmed to get comfortable again. It was just too cramped, he thrust his other leg out of the water so he could sink deeper into the tub. He longed for Shigure's house and its big tub that he'd taken for granted. Now his other leg was cold!

      He sighed and heaved himself out of the tub. It was just no use. He couldn't sink in deep enough for the heat to seep into him without feeling cramped. He toweled himself off and got into his striped night shirt and pants. He walked back into the empty apartment. He glanced around with a frown. Tooru had left her bento stuff all over the table. He muttered complaints as he picked them up and put them back in their bag. He looked around and decided to leave it on top of the fridge, where it would be in plain sight but put away. He picked up the light table and leaned it against the wall so he could bring out the futon.

      He got annoyed with the sound of his breathing when he was alone in the apartment. It always sounded so loud! He could hear his blood rushing and his breath huffing as he pulled out the oversized futon. He threw it down and then grabbed the bedding. He hated how loud every movement he made sounded when the others weren't there.

      Not that it was any better when they were there. Then he could only wait to see how fast he could get out of their presence or how fast they escaped his.

      The door rattled and he froze in the act of laying down the pillows, comforter still in his arms. Tooru looked at him and gave him a tentative smile.

      "Does Kyou-kun feel better now?" She asked

      "Yeah," he said glancing over her shoulder to see if Yuki was following her. Sometimes he'd stay downstairs for a few minutes, talking to Morikawa. The Rat seemed to care a lot what the RA thought of them. He was too dense to realize the RA was freaked out by his presence and he was probably just making it worse.

      "Kyou-kun still looks pale." Tooru stepped closer and brushed her fingers through his bangs before resting it against his cheek. "Is it going to storm tonight? Will you be okay?"

      "It's just going to rain a lot." Kyou sighed and leaned into her hand. He glanced to the open door, Yuki was hesitating on the threshold. Kyou looked back at Tooru. "You guys got umbrellas? It's probably going to still be raining in the morning when you go to school." His eyes slid shut and he nuzzled into her palm. She felt nice and cool.

      Tooru looked at Yuki, brow furrowing. "I don't think we do... do we?"

      "No." Yuki patted his hip. "I still have our money." He looked at his watch. "Bargain Fuji is closed but there convenience store is open. They'll have cheap ones..."

      "Do you want me to go with you?" Tooru asked. She looked back up at Kyou as he lifted his head from her hand. She felt his hands settle on her waist and he shifted to put his head on the crown of her head in an almost-hug.

      Kyou opened his eyes a slit and peered at the Rat, wondering if he'd take Tooru away. He really wanted just a few minutes with her. The Rat had her all day... He closed his eyes again and nuzzled into her hair.

      "N-no," Yuki said, swallowing nervously. He stepped back into his shoes and put his hand on the door ready to flee Kyou being so openly affectionate. It was obvious that the Cat didn't want her to go. "It's fine, I'll only be gone a few minutes." He hurried out the door before Tooru could say anything else.

      He practically ran down the stairs, feeling his cheeks burning. Kyou had been practically wrapped around Tooru! Did the Cat have no shame? He bet that the minute the door had closed they had started kissing...

      His mind painted him a vivid picture of what the Cat and Tooru could be doing at this very instant. His face felt like it could ignite even in the cold air. Yuki shuddered, hating his body's reaction. It was disgusting that he got so... excited by just a glance and some dirty thoughts. He felt like he was doing a disservice to Tooru, imagining her doing things with the Cat but he couldn't stop his mind from racing.

      He wondered if Kyou had gotten further then he had... Tooru had let him touch her skin, did she let the Cat do the same? Did he like the smooth skin on the small of her back... Did she like the feel of his callused hands? She made so much noise when Kyou kissed her, he could hear it from the bathroom when he was in his bath. Yuki bet she squirmed under him-

      "Stop it, stop it," Yuki muttered to himself as he stopped in front of the convenience store. He was breathing as heavy as if he'd run the whole way. Had he? He wiped his forehead. He might have... he'd gotten here so quickly, his mind lost in wrong thoughts and feelings. He shuddered and wondered what was going on in his head and body. His body was running away with him and his mind was swirling around things he shouldn't be imagining.

      He spread a hand over his chest, feeling it contract painfully. Breathe, breathe... he thought to himself. He hadn't had an attack for so long. He knew why it was happening now. Hatori had said it was mostly mental at this point, it happened when he was stressed and worked up. He just had to calm himself down. His mind flashed to Kyou burying his nose in Tooru's hair and he lost his breath again. Don't think about it, don't think at all.

      He concentrated on counting and doing math equations in his head as he stared at the pavement and ignored the passersbys. Slowly his chest loosened and he was able to breathe freely again. He smoothed out his hair and straightened his clothes. He took a look around and found himself right outside the convenience store. There was a help wanted sign out side and he wondered if Kyou had applied here with his bark covered clothes.

      Yuki walked inside and found a rack of dollar umbrellas. "Baka neko," he muttered as he picked out three. He got a pink one for Tooru and a blue for himself, that left the bright red one for Kyou. He paid for the umbrellas and stepped back out into the night.

      He'd better take his time getting home. He knew what they'd be doing, and he knew that if he was careful he wouldn't have to see or hear any more of it. His mind supplied enough of a show for him, he didn't need to see it to confirm it.


      Tooru opened her eyes when the door rattled and opened. Glancing over her shoulder at the sleeping Cat she gently slid forward until she was sitting up. "Yuki-kun?"

      "Hon...er, yes, it's me," Yuki still slipped now and then with her name. He had a hard time calling her Tooru and was finding all sorts of inventive ways to avoid it. "I got the umbrellas."

      "The bath is ready," Tooru put her fingers to her lips. "Kyou-kun is already sleeping."

      "Already?" Yuki looked back over his shoulder at the darkening sky. It wasn't even raining yet. It wasn't like the Cat to lose and opportunity to have Tooru to himself. He wasn't even facing her, instead Kyou was curled up facing the window and had the comforter nearly up over his head.

      "He has a fever," Tooru said. "I got him to take some medicine."

      "Is it bad?" Yuki quickly closed the door and stepped inside.

      Tooru shook her head, but her brow was wrinkled in concern. "Not too bad... but... do you think the medicine will help if it's because of the rain?"

      "He's never gotten a fever just from weather before," Yuki said shucking off his coat. "Not even during the typhoon." At least, not that he knew of. He'd never really taken much notice of Kyou's aversion to rain before.

      "Do you think he's very sick?" Tooru put her hand on the Cat's back, and gazed at the shock of hair on the pillow. She bit her lip.

      "Kyou is strong," Yuki assured her. "He's just been working really hard the past couple of days. I'm sure that he'll be fine once the rain passes."

      He knelt down next to her. "He's been really pushing himself since we left Mai-san's. If anything I think it's good that something is finally making him slow down."

      Tooru ducked her head and let her bangs fall into her face. "We haven't been doing a very good job at watching over him." She flopped onto her side and looked up at Yuki. "He spends so much time looking after us." He was always pointing out when Yuki was working too hard or trying to do too much and stopping her when she got worked up or too enthusiastic.

      "I don't think he likes being looked after," Yuki said, getting up and putting some distance between them, uncomfortable with the implication that he had somehow failed them. It was too close to the truth. He'd been much more concerned with his own feelings about everything then how Kyou was handling things. Just like at Mai's; Kyou had thrown himself into working on the apartment. No wonder he'd worked himself into a fever. He probably should of said something, but that would have meant talking to Kyou. He found himself stroking the inside of his finger again. He grimaced and shook out his hands.

      "Everyone wants someone to look after them," Tooru said softly, rolling onto her stomach and watching as Yuki retreated towards the bathroom. Yuki looked back at her. She couldn't see his features, the room was dark and the light was on in the bathroom, casting him in shadow. "Everyone wants to know that someone cares," she added.

      "He knows you care," Yuki said and disappeared into the bathroom before she could say anything else.

      On his side, Kyou closed his eyes and continued to pretend he was asleep. He felt Tooru shift back under the blankets and roll close to his back. She laid a hand gently on his back and he felt her cheek press between his shoulder blades. She gave a soft, sad sigh and cuddled into his sweatshirt.

      "We both care," Tooru whispered, clutching at his shirt, and Kyou wondered if she was telling him or trying to convince herself.


      Kyou woke up when he felt a draft chasing down his back. He looked around muzzily, he must have fallen asleep before Yuki had finished his bath. He rolled on his back and pressed the heel of his hands into his eye sockets trying to clear out his mind by clearing his vision. His head felt like it was stuffed with cotton and confusion. He frowned and squinted at the window. It wasn't light out yet, or if it was the rain was keeping it from shining.

      He felt a cool hand on his forehead and looked up. "Oi, what are you doing up?" Tooru was kneeling above his head, fully dressed in her new school uniform.

      "Shhh," Tooru glanced to the side. "Yuki-kun is still sleeping. He didn't fall asleep until late last night." He'd kept her up with his tossing and turning.

      "Like I could wake 'im," Kyou grumbled. "Get off," he brushed her hand away from his forehead.

      Tooru ignored his muttering and placed her hand on his cheek. "Kyou-kun's fever is much lower today. He only feels a little warm. But you should stay in bed today."

      "I was gonna," Kyou said turning on his side away from her and the lightly snoring Rat. He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. He slept better when she was next to him, he didn't like the feeling of an empty space next to him. "Why are you up already?"

      "I'm going to go make some bentos," Tooru said gesturing to the shopping bag full of lunch gear. "Morikawa-san introduced me to the head cook downstairs. She said I can make them if I come in before the breakfast. Do you want me to bring you breakfast back?"

      Kyou didn't feel like being stared at by the nosy kids in the cafeteria or having to stare at his plate to avoid scaring Morikawa. And he got the feeling that she and the Rat didn't like how he acted around the others. Excuse me for not liking being treated like a delinquent. "Yeah, I just want some fruit or something."

      Tooru nodded. "I won't be long." She picked up the shopping bag and a pink umbrella Yuki must have bought the night before.

      Kyou rolled back on his side and closed his eyes, trying to relax enough to fall back to sleep. He could hear the downpour going on outside. The rain dragged him back into sleep easily, the sound was soothing and the fatigue that came along with the curse only made it easier to let go.

      He'd almost drifted off to sleep when he heard a rustling in the blankets to his side. He glanced over his shoulder with a frown. The Rat was on his side, facing Kyou with a scrunched up expression. His eyes were shut and he was obviously missing Tooru's presence. His hands had reached out into the empty space and he'd grabbed onto her pillow. He'd be wrapped around it in a minute, pulling him closer to Kyou.

      "Crap," Kyou said under his breath. He couldn't deal with the Rat's sleep squirming today. He edged to the far edge of the futon, putting as much distance as possible between them. He had almost drifted off again when he felt something push into his back of his legs. "Oh, come on!"

      He sat up and pushed the comforter down, looking at Tooru's space on the futon. The Rat had Tooru's pillow in a death grip, soundly asleep with his face pressed into it. "How can you even breathe, stupid?" Kyou grimaced as he watched the Rat's legs twitched and kicked forward, looking for body heat. Kyou lifted his leg out of the way. To escape he had to shift his legs off the futon and onto the cold wooden floor.

      He was being forced from the futon. He frowned and scrubbed a hand through his hair. All he wanted to do was to get a little unmolested sleep. He glanced down at the far side of the futon, the portion Yuki had abandoned. He grabbed his pillow and escaped from the Rat who was starting to inch into the warm valley Kyou's body had left.

      Kyou walked around the futon and slid into Yuki's place. It felt weird to sleep on the right side of the futon, he'd been sleeping on the left now for months. He squirmed in place and tried to get comfortable. Yuki's side was cool, and it gave his skin a chill. He snuggled into his pillow and tried to release his irritation. He slowly drifted into a light doze, one ear cocked for Tooru's return.

      He'd drifted deep enough back into slumber that he missed the warning signs that Yuki had realized the only body warmth was now on the opposite side of the futon. He'd abandoned Tooru's pillow, and rolled on his other side. This time he lead with his arms and Kyou started awake when a hand grabbed onto the back of his sweatshirt. He looked over his shoulder and cursed. Yuki tried to tug him closer and tossed a leg forward trying to trap his lower half.

      "Cold," Yuki muttered and the sweatshirt of Kyou's collar started to choke him as he persistently tried to tug the other boy closer.

      "Then get another blanket!" Kyou growled and pulled himself out of the other boy's grip. Apparently he'd tried to escape in his sleep and was already as far as he could go to the right. With a growl he pushed himself all the way out of the futon, rolling onto the floor with a huff. This reminded him of a stupid song from kindergarten... something about monkeys on the bed, rolling off until only one was left. He considered just staying on the floor, he was mostly on that ugly carpet this time instead of the icy floorboards, but it was still too cold.

      He got up, dragging his pillow on the ground and glaring at the boy left on the bed. Yuki was squirming closer to the edge again, seeking the warmth he knew should be there. Kyou glanced at the clock. Tooru should be back soon with breakfast and to get the Rat up for their first day of school. He should be able to reclaim his regular position and maybe catch a few more seconds of sleep before she got back.

      His bones felt like they were throbbing, and the room felt freezing. He pressed a hand to his forehead, Tooru had said his fever was down... but he felt uncomfortably warm and chilled at the same time. He frowned at the Rat, it was like he was trying to torment him. Yuki was winding the blanket around himself in the absence of body heat to chase.

      Kyou stomped around the futon and climbed back into his spot. Yuki had stolen all of the blankets and he resisted the urge to try and tug them back. It would only alert the greedy Rat to his presence. Laying on the futon was still better then laying on the floorboards. He curled up into a ball, trying to tuck his feet under himself and burrowing back into his pillow. If it hadn't been raining he probably wouldn't have been able to drift back to sleep, but his body was too exhausted to let minor annoyances keep it up. He shivered and wished they had bought extra blankets like they'd intended.

      When Yuki attacked again, his body was too happy to finally have a little warmth to wake him. When Kyou finally woke, the Rat had already pressed himself to his back and wrapped an arm around his waist. The only reason he woke was because Yuki's elbow was digging into his spine.

      Kyou gave a sobbing curse into his pillow. "Shit! Crap!" All he wanted to do was sleep. He tried to squirm forward, but found that Yuki had trapped his legs under his. The arm around his waist tightened and he felt Yuki press a cheek to his back.

      "Dun move..." Yuki said nuzzling him between his shoulder blades in a Tooru-like move. "Warm."

      "Get your elbow out of my back!" Kyou growled, mindful to keep his voice low because of the thin walls. Did Tooru have to deal with that every night? How did she sleep at all? "Off, off! Kuso Nezumi! I'm not her."

      "Sorry, sorry..." Yuki muttered and rolled forward so that his elbow wasn't jabbing Kyou so hard. It had the uncomfortable side effect of pressing more of the Rat up against his back, sealing the Yuki's right side all along the length of him.

      "Erg..." Kyou pressed his face deeper into his pillow. "Craaaap." He banged on hand into a pillow, ready to sob out of frustration. The Rat was going to freak out when he woke up, and this was going to be his fault somehow. He just knew it. But the warmth of the Rat's body was relaxing his aching bones and muscles. The rain was coming down in droves and he felt like his fever had returned full force. He just couldn't fight anymore. He couldn't keep his eyes open any longer.


      Tooru hurried to the apartment, glad she'd carried everything down in the shopping bag. She wouldn't have been able to manage bringing everything back otherwise. Lunch had taken longer to prepare then she'd thought it would. She'd wanted more time to get Yuki up and presentable, he could take forever in the mornings. To try to make up for some of the lost time she'd gotten all of their breakfasts to go, she could eat while he dressed. She'd made him a sandwich so he could eat along the way if he had to.

      She shook out her umbrella, it was pouring out now and she knew that Kyou couldn't be comfortable in this weather. She bit her lip and looked at the sky. She wanted to make sure his fever was still down, if not she could stay home from school one more day and make sure he ate when he should and stayed in bed. She left the umbrella on the walkway outside the door and stepped inside. She took off her shoes and stepped into the apartment, the heavy shopping bag dangling from an elbow.

      She glanced at the bed and froze. Her arm dropped and the bag of food dropped to the floor with a smack. She glanced at it only long enough to determine that nothing had spilled before her eyes were dragged back to the futon as if by magnetic force. On the bed the blankets had been completely pushed to one side, exposing the figures on the bed to the wan and fitful morning light fighting its way through the clouds. Yuki had wrapped himself around Kyou the same way he'd often wrapped himself around her. His legs entwined over the top of Kyou's and he had one arm clutching his waist while the other hand fisted in the sweatshirt at his shoulder. If the Cat moved at all he'd probably choke.

      Tooru covered her mouth with one hand, her shock starting to change into something else. She circled the futon wishing desperately for a camera. Yuki had his mouth wide open and was lightly snoring.

      "Oh no," she giggled. Yuki was drooling on Kyou's back. There as a small wet spot where Yuki's cheek met his sweatshirt. The mouse looked so content, the cat on the other hand, had a scowl even in sleep. Oh, why didn't she have a camera?!

      Yuki murmured as her shadow fell across them, feeling something different. His face scrunched up and he turned his face into Kyou's back and squirmed, pressing himself even closer and blocking out the rest of the world.

      "Oh... my," Tooru pressed a hand to her stomach. She was torn between wanting to release a belly laugh and wanting to crawl into bed with them. There was something about the mixture of Yuki's hair twining with Kyou's on the pillow that made her knees a little weak. She noted that Yuki had a death grip on Kyou's wrist, holding the Cat's arm tight against his body. Had Kyou tried to escape Yuki's sleep-snuggling? She could have told him that didn't work, it only made him cling tighter.

      "Oi," Kyou cracked an eye at her, "It's not funny."

      "Oh, Kyou-kun!" Tooru breathed and dropped to her knees. "Is his elbow in your back?"

      "Not anymore," Kyou grumbled, cheeks burning. "Does he do that every morning?"

      "Mostly." Tooru giggled. "Is your back very wet?"

      "What? Why?" Kyou tried to look over his shoulder. "Oh, eww! He's drooling!" He gave a half hearted squirm, trying to put a little distance between the two of them. Yuki just tightened his grip on his arm and plastered himself even tighter.

      "Don't do that!" Tooru said, and put a calming hand on Kyou's shoulder. "Sometimes he grips too tight if you try to get away."

      Kyou gave her a pitiful, pleading look. "Get him off me, please." He ducked his chin down into his chest. "He's gonna freak if he wakes up like this." If Yuki couldn't handle a little brush of the finger tips, there was no way he'd would be able to handle full contact cuddling. The truth was he could have broken the Rat's grip if he wanted to startle the boy awake. It was hard to do, but not impossible.

      But Kyou was tired of being treated like a filthy monster just because his fingers brushed Yuki's once or twice. How much worse would it be after this? If he could just get loose before Yuki really woke... He could pretend this embarrassing, annoying event had never happened without being treated like more of a pariah then he already was.

      Tooru patted his shoulder, sensing his turmoil. She slid into bed behind Yuki. She pressed herself up to his back and slid her hand down the arm that was over Kyou's waist and had a death grip on his wrist. She smoothed her fingers over the skin of Yuki's arm and for a moment enjoyed that it was again the three of them wound together, albeit in a different configuration then usual. She reached forward and stroked Yuki's fingers where they clutched around Kyou's wrist. She kissed the back of his neck.

      Yuki made a pleased noise in the back of his throat and turned slightly towards her. His grip on Kyou slackened. Kyou held his breath, afraid that Yuki was about to wake while he was still in a compromising position. Instead the boy turned towards the person who was initiating the close contact he craved. Tooru moved her hand up his arm in a slow, soft stroke before lifting her fingers to trail across his cheek. She pecked his lips. Yuki gave a happy sigh and fell to his back on the futon, releasing Kyou.

      Tooru kissed him again and he turned to her to continue it. She watched as Kyou gave them long look before sliding out of the futon and heading into the bathroom. She couldn't interpret what feeling had been behind the look, relief? Longing? Hurt? She had seen a little of everything in it.

      "Honda-san?" Yuki asked with a yawn. "What are you doing over there?" She was on the wrong side. How did he get in the middle? He looked around in confusion, where was Kyou? He blinked again at the room before lighting on her school uniform. "Why are you dressed?"

      "We have school, did you forget? Yuki-kun is running late," Tooru whispered, pecking him quickly on the side of his mouth. "You have to get up and get dressed. I brought up breakfast and our lunches."

      "What?" Yuki's eyebrows drew together and he sat up quickly and looked around the room for the clock. "Ah! It's late!"

      "She just said that, Kuso Nezumi."

      Yuki started and looked back over his shoulder at Kyou. He'd gotten used to Kyou ignoring him. He didn't know what to say, and Kyou wasn't even looking at him so he continued on into the side room where his uniform was waiting.

      "Kyou-kun, breakfast." Tooru sat on the floor with her own takeout breakfast, a light salad and some thin omelet rolls.

      "I'm not hungry," he muttered flopping back on the futon. Now that it was empty it seemed awfully big and cold. He curled up in its center and upside down, deliberately placing his feet on the Rat's pillow. He deserved it for bothering him all morning and not remembering it.

      "Please eat something," Tooru crawled over to the bed with the take out box. "Just an roll? It's salty, not sweet..." She reached forward to feel his forehead. "Did your fever come back? Maybe I should stay home from school..."

      "What?!" Kyou sat up too fast and his head swam. "No way! It's your first day! You can't skip!"

      "I'm sure they'd understand-" Tooru started.

      "I said no!" Kyou said, putting a hand to his head. He wouldn't be the reason she missed school. "It's just the rain, I'll be fine!"

      Tooru frowned and sat up on her knees and reached out to feel his forehead. She sat back on her ankles and looked at him doubtfully. "Well, Kyou-kun's fever is down..." She looked at the meal in her hands. "But if his appetite is gone..."

      "It's fine," Kyou snatched the food out of her hands and started stuffing it into his mouth. "Eat yours! You've got to have energy for school, don't you?"

      "Yes!" Tooru said and went back to her own meal. She watched Yuki as he ran from the side room to the bathroom and back again, in only his uniform pants. The bruises on his back and side had faded from the deep black and purple to an ugly brown and green.

      "Do we have our schoolbags packed?" Yuki panted as he ran back into the side room after brushing his teeth. "We have to leave in just a few minutes!"

      "Yes, I packed them yesterday." Tooru finished up her breakfast and then dug into the shopping bag, pulling out a baby blue cloth bag that held Yuki's lunch. "I have your lunch here, and mine." She looked at Kyou who was looking a little green after wolfing down his breakfast. "I've got Kyou-kun's lunch here." She'd found a bright orange box that just screamed it was for him.

      "Yeah, okay."

      "Are you ready, Honda-san?" Yuki said coming to a stop in front of her, frantically trying to button the last button on his jacket.

      "Yuki-kun is slipping again," Tooru sighed as she stood up and batted his hands away from the button, so she could fix it. "You have to remember to call me by name at school." She smoothed down his shoulders and straightened him up. "Yuki-kun should tie back his hair."

      "Ah!" Yuki grabbed at his hair. He still wasn't used to thinking of his hair as long. Tooru ducked into the side room and came out with one of her ribbons and their schoolbags. She dropped the bags by their feet and gave him a calming smile.

      "Let me," Tooru smiled and stepped around his back and tied back his hair. She smoothed his shoulders again.

      Yuki looked over his shoulder at her. "Thank you." He took a deep breath, closed his eyes and exhaled. He opened his eyes again, calmer and more collected. "Sorry."

      "You guys are going to be late if you don't leave," Kyou reminded from the futon. He'd flopped back on to his pillow in the center of the futon as if he was determined to take up as much space as possible.

      "Okay, we're going." Tooru handed Yuki his bag and lunch before picking up hers. She took her own calming breath. "I'm ready," she said.

      Yuki nodded. He glanced at Kyou and then away, unsure of what he should say.

      Tooru caught the glance and looked at the body on the futon. He was carefully not looking at them. She really wished he was coming along. "Kyou-kun will really be okay by himself?"

      "I just wanna sleep<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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