[h3 +] Amethyst eyes glanced towards a basket that was sitting next to Yuki, judging how many more strawberries it could hold. His garden was rather full this year, something that filled the rat with a bit of pride. Something grew, something excelled, because of his efforts. It was something the head of the family swore could never be done and that trying was pointless. Bright eyes narrowed faintly as he recalled this, reaching out and picking a rather large strawberry and carefully placing it in the basket.
Akito was one of the reasons he was out here, Yuki not wanting to face the family that he shared the small house with just yet. He had successfully managed to avoid everyone when he returned home from the main house, instantly going outside to check on his garden. It was easy to see just by first glance at the rat that Akito wasn't in such a great mood today as blood still dripped slowly from a split in Yuki's lip. Luckily, it wasn't deep enough to need stitches, Hatori saw to that. It still hurt, though, and the steady drip of blood was rather inconvenient. Quite a long time had passed since Akito caused visible damage to his favorite (many bruises and contusions were hidden under his clothes, sometimes strategically) and it hurt Yuki's pride a bit. He knew full well that as soon as Shigure caught wind of it from Hatori or saw it with his own eyes, questions would be coming....ones he wasn't sure if he wanted to answer. Kyou more than likely wouldn't care, the cat and rat never got along anyway. He just didn't want rumors to spread again.
Once he had filled the small basket, Yuki slowly rose to his feet and picked it up. The cut to his lip throbbed a bit, if the rat didn't know basic anatomy he would have sworn his heart had moved. He promised himself that once he cleaned the strawberries and put them away, he'd put some ice on it. Surely that would help. Quietly he went inside, sneaking into the kitchen, and began cleaning each berry slowly.
There was a sharp pain shooting up his arms, his knuckles beginning to feel raw as he continued to punch the bag in the dojo. He planted his feet, focused. He felt calm, at ease. He was in his element here, kicking the crap out of this fucking bag that he wished was Yuki’s face so damn much. With one last punch, he stepped away, hopping on the tips of his toes.
Kyo Sohma took a deep breath through his nostrils, savoring the heat of the setting sun through the wood framed windows. It was a good training day. Every session he felt stronger, rejuvenated and excited. He felt like he could run a thousand miles! No way Yuki was winning today!
The orange haired teen grabbed the water bottle on a small corner table and took the steps out of the dojo. Master wasn’t here today but that never kept him from coming. Martial arts was, of course, one of the very few things he was good at.
Kyo skipped over the steps of Shigure’s small house and threw open the door- a little too roughly. It smacked into the small sitting stool behind it, making a noticeable dent in the doorframe. He growled, slightly annoyed. Stupid poorly constructed house.
[b “Oh Kyo’s home,”] he heard Shigure say in a sing-song tone.
[#d89104 “Hope you have real food in this house,”] retorted Kyo, heading to his room.
[b “Of course! I was thinking Shuz’s Takeout.”]
The cat spirit groaned as he stripped and took a quick shower. [i Yuki should have been home by now], he mused through the soapy water. [i Damn rat thinks we’re going to wait to order food- well he’s got another thing coming.]
After the cleansing, he pulled on a comfortable long sleeve shirt and jeans, purring with delight. Clean clothes...
The cat made his way to the kitchen, only to stop dead in his tracks. Yuki was at the sink, cleaning strawberries. A dew of blood hovered on the other’s eyebrow. [#d89104 “What the hell? Did you let someone beat you up? You must have let him win,”] Kyo scoffed, hurt that it wasn’t his own victory.
[h3 +] The sweet smell of the strawberries blanketed the area that Yuki was working in, making the rat smile faintly. It was one of his favorite smells, as well as a favorite food, and he could never get enough of it. If heaven was a scent, this would most certainly be it. Nimble fingers cleaned each red berry as the cool water flowed over them, Yuki setting them aside on a towel to dry. If Shigure or Kyou didn't make anything for dinner then this would be more than enough to fill the rat's stomach. The dog had basically banned the quiet teen from using anything other than the fridge and the sink as his cooking was pretty terrible. He could probably burn water if he tried hard enough. After the latest disaster, Shigure booted him from the kitchen and forbade him cooking anything due to the repairs and replacements he caused. When the head of the house was responsible for feeding himself and his charges, he typically ordered out. He was rather lazy and, even though he could cook, most often chose not to and left that task to Kyou. The cat, unlike Yuki, was a culinary genius. Anything he made tasted good (at least to Yuki, as much as he hated to admit it) and seemed to have a knack for it.
At least he didn't suck at everything.
Yuki's gaze shifted as he heard the footsteps enter the kitchen, the cat's nosy questions filling the room. He remained silent as he returned to what he was doing, cleaning the last strawberry and setting it on the towel then turning the water off. Afterwards, he picked up the bloodied cloth sitting on the edge of the sink, wiping off the tickle of blood from his lip that appeared, and examined it before setting it down again. The flow was lighter, the wound beginning to clot. Good. Then he'd be able to clean it properly and put some medication on it.
[+purple "You're just jealous you had nothing to do with it,"] Yuki called him out quietly. He carefully dried the berries then set them in a bowl in order to hull them. Violet eyes flickered back over to Kyou for a moment before grabbing a paring knife and beginning his work. Carefully each green top was removed and thrown into the compost, leaving the strawberries ready to eat. [+purple "I'm willing to venture a guess that you're jealous also because you know you'd never get a hit like this in. You couldn't even hit the broad side of a barn standing two feet in front of it, let alone my face. I also don't believe I asked for your opinion."]
Oh how the rat lit a fire within him. Every time he was confident that Yuki did it on purpose. That the rat took extreme pleasure in seeing Kyo pissed the fuck off. It was annoying- frustrating!
[#d89104 “Hey!”] he glared, lifting a fist in the air. [#d89104 “I could take you on right here, right now! But I have a code of only fighting at your strongest! That way I’ll know when I win that it was a true victory!”]
[b “Children, keep it down,”] Shigure sighed from the dining room.
Kyo sneered as he took a step back, flustered. [#d89104 “And on that, who they hell landed you a hit?”]
The least the other zodiac could do was answer is his question. He wasn’t completely out of his league with the rat but Yuki sure did make him feel like he was. It took a lot of courage for the cat to even move here, let alone live here under the same roof. It seemed weird... to be on the same level as [i any] zodiac. He was always on the Outside.
He watched Yuki carefully chop up the strawberries as he had done a million times before. Strawberries always the rat’s favorite. Without thinking, the carrot top grabbed a large berry and popped it in his mouth. At least something sweet was being grown in this ugly house. [i You know what sounds good, though? A strawberry tart with cream cheese.]
[h3 +] Amethyst eyes flickered and briefly narrowed in Shigure's direction as he heard his comment. He had a lot of nerve to call them children as the dog was possibly the biggest child in the house. If Hatori wasn't around, he wondered if their guardian could even survive on his own. Yuki decided not to engage, however, and turned his attention back to his work. Fighting both Shigure and Kyou weren't worth it today, he'd save that for when he had more energy.
As Kyou stole one of his precious red berries, the thought briefly crossed Yuki's mind to stab his hand with the parring knife but thought better of it. That would also lead to a fight that he didn't want to deal with. Besides, Kyou typically made enough to share whenever he cooked so he supposed he could return the favor with the fruit. Once he was finished, he reached over and carefully set the knife in the sink before picking up one of the strawberries and munching on it.
How much should he tell Kyou? Yuki was aware that once he admitted who hit him, more questions would follow. If they didn't come from Kyou, they'd come from the other party in the house. Should he tell him that it came from the meeting with Akito? That he was in the room with Momiji when the leader of the family attacked the small rabbit? Should he tell him that he stepped in on Momji's behalf, to try to protect him, and got hit for it? Unfortunately he couldn't come up with a lie that would be believable, Akito was the only one brave enough (other than Kyou) to even raise his hand towards the rat without fear of being punched into the next galaxy. He wasn't that clumsy, either, preventing him from using that as an excuse. Yuki continued to mull these thoughts over as he finished the rest of the strawberry he was currently eating.
Kyou could be such a pain in the ass sometimes.
[+purple "If you must know, it was a parting gift from Akito this afternoon,"] Yuki answered quietly. The juice from the strawberry caused his lip to sting, the slender male reaching over and picking up the stained cloth to dab at it again. Only a few drops of blood appeared on its surface, the injury almost completely clotted. Before he ate another one he'd need to get some butterfly closures on it in order to keep the skin together and to prevent it from becoming dirty. The last thing he needed was an infection. His gaze then flickered over to Kyou for a moment, watching as he continued to eat the berry he had stolen from his cousin. [+purple "Luckily for you, it's not deep. You can go back to throwing sloppy punches at me tomorrow."]
[#d89104 “Tsk,”] Kyo scoffed, redirecting his anger to someone who deserved it more then Yuki, admittingly. Akito... that boy who thought he ran the whole damn Sohma household, had everyone under his finely filed thumb to bully and misdirect, tease and hurt. He thought he was a god.
The cat wasn’t even offended by the rat’s comment. In fact, he wasn’t even thinking about Yuki anymore. Anyone who thinks that they can push around whomever they damned like better be able to take the punches he could throw. Even if that meant he’d be thrown in that dark room...
[#d89104 “Aaah, forget about that greasy black haired creep, Yuke. He can go rot in his fancy house without you ever seeing him again.”] Kyo could care less about why the rat was there in the first place. Right now, it was about being home and being safe. Safety was most important priority. Was that ironic for him to think? Even hypocritical? How the fuck should he know?
The carrot top moved around Yuki to throw open the cabinet and looked through the boxed meals. [#d89104 “Hey, how does rice and curry sound? I don’t want that take-out crap that Shigure loves so much.”] He tried too hard to make it sound casual that it didn’t sound normal to come out of his mouth at all. His cheeks began to warm up with embarrassment. [#d89104 “Not that eating out is stupid or anything. I just think we should make something.”] He should shut up.
[h3 +] Some of the male's weight fell against the counter, the rat reaching out to push the bowl of strawberries from the edge to prevent it from falling. He had to admit that he was a bit surprised that Kyou didn't jump on his comment about his fighting and that he was being so....nice. It wasn't that the cat couldn't be kind once in a while, he'd seen it already, but it wasn't directed towards Yuki. He couldn't keep the slight look of confusion from slipping on his face as he watched Kyou, either, the male moving around him in order to look through the cupboards and even going as far to ask the rat what he thought about the cat's choice for dinner. Did something else happen while he was away? Had Kazuma landed a good kick in the cat's head and caused this behavior? He felt a bit as if he were in another dimension with another Kyou, it certainly made more sense that this.
[+purple "I have no complaints with that,"] he answered quietly, agreeing with Kyou's dinner decision. The rat wasn't in the mood for take out, or any food really, but the cat did have a way of making regular food taste amazing. Yuki was convinced he could make an old shoe taste good. [+purple "We can have the rest of the strawberries for dessert."]
The slender male moved to one of the far cabinets, sorting through the first aid supplies and medicine until he found the butterfly strips he was looking for. It was a bit strange having to be the one to need things from this cabinet, typically it was Kyou especially after a pretty bad fight between the two of them. Everything seemed to be backwards today. Yuki moved over to a mirror on a nearby wall in order to see the cut and couldn't help but frown a bit at it. It sat along the left corner of his mouth, stretching down over his lip and a few centimeters below it. The bleeding was basically nonexistent, much different than when he was on his way home, but still looked a bit angry. He made a mental note to give it a good cleaning as he bathed tonight.
As he put two small strips on one end of the wound, he couldn't help but think about Kyou's words. He was wrong, the rat would have to see him again at some point. It wasn't a secret that Yuki was his favorite and he would do anything to make it known. If Akito called, the rat was required to show up and in a timely manner. Should he decide against it, there would be hell to pay. Kyou was lucky as he was able to fly under the radar and do as he pleased, he didn't need to check in like the rest of them did. Yuki let out a quiet sigh as he pulled the strips tight and secured them on the other side of the cut to pull the skin together and encourage it to heal. Once finished, he returned to the kitchen and cleaned up his mess in front of the cabinet.
[+purple "Do you think you can make that bread you baked with it last time?"] Yuki asked quietly, glancing over at his cousin before putting the last supply away and closing the door gently. [+purple "It went really well with the dinner."]
Kyo grumbled slightly about not needing Yuki’s homegrown strawberries but decided to let it go. As the rat stepped out of the room to patch himself up, the cat continued to think, letting his hands do the work almost absentmindedly. He was used to cooking. Master at the Dojo was terrible at it and someone had to keep them from starving to death. Might as well be him.
He frowned slightly as he stirred the finely cut vegetables into the curry. He thought about his words and how wrong he probably- most likely was. Yuki and the others always went back. It was their duty and calling. The cat was never like them, but he’d be damned if Akito ever showed his smug little porcelain face anywhere near this house. He imagined Akito looking much like his punching bag back at the dojo. Unlike Yuki, he wouldn’t mind playing dirty with the Sohma God.
When the rat returned, the rice was just beginning to boil. [#d89104 “Yeah, sure, why not. As long as Shigure still has dried yeast we should be ready to eat in a half hour.”] Kyo was calm, only seeming to able to focus on one event at a time. Something that Yuki would call ‘simple-minded’... but he didn’t care. They just needed something on that table. Something that brought people to together.
Kyo’s cheeks felt hot again with embarrassment. Akito... always seeming to bring out sentimentality within him. Damn it.
His hands flew across the kitchen like he was training for a fight. He was precise and quick that, in just a half hour as promised, the food was ready and laid out on the table.
[b “Why Kyo, you shouldn’t have,”] Shigure cooed. [b “Look Yuki, we’ve been blessed today.”]
[#d89104 “Tsk, shut up and just eat it,”] he snapped, cleaning his hands on a wet dish cloth. [#d89104 “And just so you guys know, we need more yeast and vegetables. I cleaned us out.”]
With a grunt, he sat down at the table across from Yuki and pretended that nothing unusual was happening.
[h3 +] The rat watched quietly as Kyou moved around the kitchen, able to focus on only one thing at a time. It wasn't an efficient practice but he supposed that was why the redhead excelled at cooking and baking while Yuki couldn't. He was like that with many things, actually, Yuki noticing that if his cousin tried to juggle a lot of things at one time, he would easily lose track of what he was doing and wind up doing something completely different. Perhaps that was why he didn't care for school so much, the cat unable to focus on all of the different things around him.
He enjoyed watching Kyou move around the kitchen, each move fluid and effortless. It was one of the activities Yuki had no skill in, the rat causing so much damage that he was basically banned from using anything in the kitchen other than the sink, and liked to watch others who had a knack for it. He still disliked Kyou and the two fought constantly but he did enjoy seeing him at work. The cat seemed to like his work, getting lost in it, and seemed satisfied with almost every dish that came out. It was no wonder he was put in charge of feeding the three Sohmas.
Amethyst eyes rolled a bit at Shigure's antics, Yuki slowly sitting down at the table and letting his gaze fall on their guardian. He sometimes wondered how the dog of the family could have guardianship over anyone as he was the biggest child in the house most of the time. Kyou may have a bad attitude but he could be more mature than Shigure could most days. He was sure that if it weren't for Hatori, Shigure might not have gotten this far.
[+purple "I'm sure Shigure won't mind going to the store,"] Yuki responded quietly while picking up a piece of bread. It was still warm, the smell of the baked treat combining beautifully with the curry. He ripped a piece off, dipping it into the bowl and chewing on it slowly. It was just as tasty as the last time Kyou made it. The substance stung the cut to his lip a bit but he expected that to happen, it just caused the rat to eat a bit slower and be more careful. [+purple "It's about time he contributed something to the house other than messes and bad jokes."]
[b “Eh, I’ll just have some groceries delivered,”] Shigure dismissed as he eagerly dove into his meal. [b “And, by the way, Yuki,”] he said through a mouth full of curry, [b “I take full offense. My bad jokes are what keep life in this place.”]
Kyo stayed silent for most of the meal, minding his own thoughts from the Sohma family to training thoughts to school. He had so much homework to do. The pressures and socialization of life were just too complicated. It frustrated him to be so weak. But... Master did say that being with people and being comfortable around them takes practice. Just like martial arts.
Kyo let his chopsticks clatter against the ceramic bowl, disrupting the silence between them all. He gathered to his feet, picking up his dishes and taking Yuki’s as well- since it was empty and all. The cat crossed the small space into the kitchen, piling three small bowls with homegrown strawberries. He didn’t serve them but left them in the kitchen for the rat to find. He sprinkled each of them with white powdered sugar before taking his own up to his room to be alone.
Kyo closed his bedroom with a heavy sigh. He crouched beside his text books, looking at the assignments briefly. Math he was decent at sure, but language, literature, science- all useless information as far as he was concerned.
Within minutes, he had finished his dessert and his math he finished in about twenty. Kyo shoved everything else beside the twin bed and threw on a hoodie. It was cool out tonight but he was sure it was a full moon.
The house was quiet as he left his bedroom, not much of a surprise. They all seemed to go their own ways whenever there was down time. A little lonely if you asked him. He took his usual path up to the rooftop where he laid back and watched the stars and city from afar. It felt peaceful and not as lonely up there. Vaguely, he wondered if the rat was doing alright. Yuki always seemed to have his shit together. What a gift.
[h3 +] Yuki couldn't stop the eyeroll from taking place, directed at Shigure's comment. Honestly, he could live without much of the dog's input as it seemed to only stir the pot instead of providing a solution to the problem it was directed at. He stayed silent, though, and ate his dinner in silence. He was a bit surprised to see that Kyou remembered how much (or little, really) the rat ate and had given him a portion size that was perfect. He was able to finish it all, bread included, and relaxed a bit under the kotatsu as the others worked on their meal. He was almost always done first due to how little he consumed so this wasn't a first for Yuki. Kyou seemed to finish shortly afterwards, the male rising and collecting both of the teen's empty dishes.
Once he grew tired of Shigure's presence, he rose and passed through the kitchen in order to head upstairs. He noticed two bowls sitting on the counter, out of place on the clean surface, and moved over to investigate. Inside were the strawberries Yuki had grown, dusted with some sugar, and it made him smile faintly. Carefully he picked up one of the bowls and made his way upstairs to his bedroom in order to finish his homework.
Since school was something he excelled at and took pride in that fact, finishing his homework was an easy task. The complicated math lesson was finished in virtually no time and his essay took a mere ten minutes to write up from scratch. Slender hands shut the last book and set it into his back pack, wondering how long it took Kyou to work on his homework and actually finish it. Or did he leave some of it uncompleted? Did he put an effort into it or did he simply write down some answers and hoped he got lucky? Honestly, Yuki was a bit jealous that Kyou could basically do as he wished and not having so much scrutiny. He wished he could allow things to slip and put minimal effort into some things but Akito would never allow him to live it down. He could only imagine what he would receive from the head of the family if he came home with anything less than straight A's. Yuki sighed faintly, choosing to forget about such disturbing thoughts for the time being, and ate his dessert instead. It didn't take him long to finish the fruit and he decided to use some of the last daylight left to check on the rest of his garden.
Yuki pulled out a light jacket from his closet and slipped it over his shoulders before heading down the stairs and outside. Even though he didn't plan on staying out long, he knew better than to tempt fate. The rat had a tendency to fall ill easier than the others and the last thing he wanted was a cold. Quietly he headed across the property and to his small garden in the corner in order to check his plants. This was one place Yuki found true joy, he loved the feeling of bringing something to life and helping it thrive. Kneeling down onto the cold ground, he inspected the progress of his plants while pulling out a few weeds as he went along.
Kyo inhaled deeply, taking in the night air, his mind clear of thoughts. He was driven back to reality by the sliding door and light footsteps. He recognised Yuki without even getting up and listened as the rat descended the few stairs.
The cat sat up, looking down as Yuki walked the path leading into the forest where everyone knew his garden was. He was only slightly curious but knew Yuki preferred it was his personal sanctuary so no one ever interfered. He frowned, feeling useless again. At least the rat had something he needed to take care of.
Frustrated, Kyo stood up and walked to the roof’s edge. As times before, he jumped down, landing in front of the porch. His figure casted a shadow across the ground as he stared at the path Yuki took. He waited awkwardly. What exactly for? He wasn’t sure. Maybe it was to fight. Yeah, that was it.
Kyo took a seat on the steps and crossed his arms against the cold. He didn’t know how long he’d been sitting there but when Yuki finally showed up, he was feeling the fatigue of sleep. [#d89104 “Took you long enough,”] he yawned.
[h3 +] The last beams of daylight stretched over the property and slowly faded out, leaving Yuki in the growing dark to tend to his plants. He didn't need a lot of light to see what he was doing as he knew the layout pretty well and what he should be looking for. There weren't many weeds to eradicate as he was usually on top of it, checking on his garden at least every other day. He was happy to see the plants doing well, growing strongly in their recently-turned soil and their regular waterings. Many of them would be ready to harvest in the coming months which would give Kyou and Shigure items to experiment with, though he was a bit envious at the thought of the cat using them. It wasn't because he didn't have a hand in growing them but because he had natural skill in the kitchen. Kyou could easily come up with something everyone could enjoy, especially with fresh ingredients, and Yuki was stuck on the sidelines to watch. He hated the fact that, one day, Kyou could possibly survive outside of the Sohma cage while Yuki would forever be trapped inside; Yuki lacked even the most basic of survival skills.
It was frustrating.
Once he was fully satisfied with his garden's progress, he rose from the cold ground and pulled his jacket a bit tighter around his frame. The sun's dying light had taken the warmth with it, leaving chilled air behind. It was best to return now while he was still relatively healthy as he didn't wish to catch a cold nor hear Hatori's lecture with it. Quietly he made his way back to the house and ascended the stairs only to run into Kyou. His presence surprised the rat, causing Yuki to pause in his steps, and look over him carefully. He seemed fine, nothing out of place, which left him wondering just what exactly his cousin was doing outside...and on the ground. Normally if the cat was outdoors and still on the property, he was lounging on the roof watching the world pass by. It was a bit strange and Yuki wasn't fond of it.
[+purple "I wasn't aware that I was supposed to be following your set schedule,"] Yuki retorted quietly. He noticed the cat's slow and lethargic movements, indicating his sleepiness. Kyou should probably be in bed instead of instigating. [+purple "I suggest you go up to bed soon before you fall over; I'm not carrying you upstairs and Shigure will most likely leave you here as well. A cold circulating around the house is the last thing we need right now."]
Kyo supposed Yuki was right. He was cold, agitated and tired. This wouldn’t be a fair fight. Maybe... maybe he’ll feel more like himself in the morning. This evening had been so strange for the pair of them it almost seemed out of character.
The cat stood and led the way back into the house. [#d89104 “Night,”] he grumbled as he made his way back into his room. He closed the door quickly and the moment his head hit the pillow, he was fast asleep.
There was chirping outside his window and Kyo hated it. Fucking birds always waking up too damn early. He rolled over and eyed the clock. 7:47... He squinted, trying to remember why that was important.
[i Shit! I’m going to be late for school!]
The cat threw the blanket off and stumbled to his closet to get dressed. He tossed everything into his bag in a haphazard manner before angrily stomping out of his room to grab one of last night’s rolls with some butter. The guardian was sitting in the kotatsu and looked up at Kyo’s entrance.
[b “Running late are we?”] Shigure started, looking over his glasses and lowering his paper.
[#d89104 “Forgot to set my alarm, dog,”] he snapped, shoving a piece of bread into his mouth.
Shigure smiled. [b “If you leave now, you might be able to catch up to Yuki.”]
[#d89104 “Like I care.”] Kyo crossed the small house to the front door and hurried down the street towards the school. They didn’t live especially close to the institution but he wasn’t about to have Yuki talk down to him about always being late. He had trouble keeping time, so what? As long as he gets there, it really shouldn’t matter what god-damn time it is.
Thinking about what Yuki was going to say got his blood boiling and convinced him to turn his hurried walk into a sprint. He’ll show him! [i I’ll get there before he does!]
[h3 +] Shigure's home was strangely quiet as Yuki got ready for school. Normally the cat was up and making ungodly amounts of noise while Shigure encouraged it but this morning was different. No sounds from Kyou, minimal noise from Shigure. He wondered if his cousin was even awake yet but decided against checking while he pulled his uniform out from his closet. Why ruin the peace and quiet? Besides, if he did Kyou would simply be unappreciative and do nothing but run his face the entire morning. It was best to allow the cat to learn his lesson.
Once the rat was dressed and the cut to his lip re-taped, he organized his books and notebooks into his bag before snapping it closed. A last look around the room reassured Yuki that he was ready for school. He headed down the hall quietly, giving Kyou's room a glance as he passed it, and headed down the stairs to the kitchen in order to grab something to eat. Shigure had prepared an incredibly easy breakfast, rice and egg, which he appreciated as it gave him something to start his morning with. He greeted the dog quietly before eating, then threw a quick bento together before gathering his things and leaving.
The house was still quiet.
His walk to school was relatively quiet and gave him a chance to think and review materials he would need for the day's tests. It didn't stay too quiet, however, as Momiji and Haru caught up with him on the last stretch and one of them began to talk his ear off. He didn't mind it, Momiji was a sweet kid and just wanted to be accepted by those he loved. Haru didn't seem to mind, either, the ox remaining quiet as they made their way to school. Another sound caught Yuki's attention, able to pick it up under the rabbit's voice, and caused his gaze to shift faintly. It was Kyou, he could distinguish his sounds almost anywhere.
He must've overslept again, lazy cat.
[+goldenrod "...Haru helped me paint it, which was good because I got it everywhere and Tori said-"] While the rabbit continued to speak, Yuki stuck his foot out slightly in order to trip the cat when he was almost on them, waiting to see if Kyou crashed into the ground because he wasn't paying attention.
The group in the distance became clearer has he approached, keeping his pace fast and determined. He could make out Haru, Momiji and Yuki. That Yuki who thought he was better at everything! That dirty son of a-
Kyo planted face first into the concrete sidewalk, groaning as his temper bubbled to its boiling point. [#d89104 “You rat! How dare you trip me when you knew you were about to lose!”] He scrambled quickly to his feet and brushed the dirt off his now ruined uniform.
[#d89104 “And you guys!”] he pointed at the other two zodiac members, [#d89104 “Why didn’t you stop him? Don’t you two have any respect for a fair match?”] [i Pssh, all a bunch of idiots.] The cat adjusted himself awkwardly as they continued to make their way towards the school.
[h3 +] Yuki watched silently as his cousin face planted into the sidewalk and jumped up angrily shortly after. It had certainly awakened his fighting spirit this morning, that was for sure. He was positive that if there weren't so many students around to see it that Kyou would have taken a few swings at the rat only to be roundhouse kicked into a wall shortly after. Until he learned not to attack so blindly, Yuki would always see right through his moves.
[+purple "It was a simple test to see if you were observing your surroundings,"] Yuki retorted quietly as he watched the cat try to dust off his unifom before the small group of Sohmas made their way closer to the school. [+purple "Obviously, you failed. If you had awoken on time like the rest of us, you wouldn't be rushing to get here before the final bell."]
Momiji reached up, taking Haru's hand lightly and looked up at Yuki. [+goldenrod "Kyou-kun doesn't want to get detention for being late again!"]
Yuki smiled faintly at this, pulling open the door of the school and stepping inside. He stopped at his locker as the rest of them did to change his shoes and prepare for his day. He glanced at Haru and Momiji as they passed by in order to get to their classroom on time then shifted his gaze to Kyou. He was still probably a bit sore from the rat's action but that didn't surprise him. Kyou could hold onto grudges for quite some time.
[+purple "Why didn't you leave on time?"] Yuki asked his cousin quietly, curious to see if he would get an answer.
Deep breaths. He just had to take deep breaths to keep his anger to a less destructive state, As Master taught him, he must keep level headed if he wanted to achieve his goal of defeating Yuki. Pssh... even as the rat spewed mockery. He had not failed. It was simply a tie!
The bell rang across the school grounds, signalling the warning before the start of classes. Kyo might have thought he was running too late but he had enough time, The little brat was right. He didn’t want detention again.
The cat slammed open his locker, slipping off his shoes and throwing a few things he didn’t need inside. If it weren’t for Kyo’s cat sense of hearing, he might not have heard Yuki’s low tone question. He turned slightly, looking at the rats elegant silhouette. [#d89104 “I just forgot to set the alarm. I must have been just out of it waiting for you to come home that it just slipped my mind.”] He slammed the locker closed and threw his bag over his shoulder. [#d89104 “Not like you care.”]
Kyo took a couple steps pass the other, leaning in slightly. [#d89104 “Just go back to ignoring me like you always do.”]
[h3 +] Amethyst eyes flickered over to the cat as he began to pass, giving his final statement after (surprisingly) answering Yuki's question. If anything, he expected Kyou to ignore it. Why did he care? Was it simple curiosity? That was the only logical answer seeing as the cat and the rat would always hate each other. It was their destiny. He quietly shut his locker and picked his bag back up, tucking it under his arm, before following Kyou to their classroom.
Most of their classmates had already arrived; it was clear that if Kyou hadn't have run most of the way that he would have been late; serving detention would certainly have been in his future. An eerie silence fell upon the students as Yuki entered, followed by light whispering, taking him a moment to realize they were gossiping about him. He had nearly forgotten about the cut that was taped shut along his lip but, clearly, the others found it conversation worthy as they began to chat among themselves quietly about what could have happened. His hearing was pretty good and he heard quite a few variations of what caused it as he silently made his way back to his seat. One did bring a faint smile to his lips, hearing that Kyou had finally snapped and landed a good punch.
Yuki ignored his classmates as much as he could during the school day which was rather easy as they were focused on their classes. Lunch was a different story, however, as it gave them time to talk among themselves. Yuki chose to stay quiet and picked up his bag, taking notice of his bento and wondering if Kyou had remembered to grab his from the kotatsu on the way out. He doubted it, seeing as Kyou had a one track mind and was most likely focused on getting out the door and to school on time. He sighed quietly, separating the layers of the box and using his chopsticks to split his lunch in half. Yuki grabbed a spare set of takeout chopsticks from his desk (he had forgotten his lunch once or twice and learned to keep spare utensils when students wished to share) as well as one the bento layers and moved quietly over to Kyou's desk. He watched him for a moment before setting the objects down and returning to his own seat.
The moment Kyo took his seat in the classroom, he knew it was going to be a horrible day. Not doing all his homework, meant his grades and understanding fell behind. Sometimes he felt that the effort he put into school was a waste of time. He could try to focus, learn it then struggle to keep track of what they were covering next. Why did everything have to go so fast? At least with mathematics, it was all about systems and steps. That was easy.
And, of course, all anyone was talking about was how the pretty boy got a bandage on his lip. [i Oh, boo hoo, his gorgeous face has been marked! Who could possibly do such a thing to such an innocent creature!] He wanted to barf. Just a bunch of frivolous girls and envious boys fussing over a false idol. All of them idiots.
When everyone was released for lunch, Kyo banged his orange topped head against the desk, startling the classmates beside him. Of course he’d forgotten to grab his lunch as well. All because he forgot to set that stupid alarm last night. Fuck food! Who needs it anyway?!
Instead of eating like the rest of his classmates, the cat decided to get out his textbook from the previous lesson and attempt to understand what the hell they just covered. He didn’t feel like talking to anyone anyway... and from the looks of it, neither did Yuki. [i Look at him. Sulking like he has something to sulk about.]
[h3 +] Mindless noise filled the classroom as the teenagers grouped off into small clusters to eat their lunch. They were at that age where friends were incredibly important and boys and girls alike needed to maintain their social circles. Yuki was excluded from that custom; the rat was popular but he wouldn't say he had friends. There wasn't anyone he had grown close to and shared secrets with, he didn't have anyone to go on weekend excursions with and have lunch dates. Yuki wasn't good at making friends, not the way Kyou, Momiji, and the other zodiac were. Honestly, he was jealous of that ability in Kyou. The cat could walk into a room and instantly connect with the people around him while Yuki couldn't. He would be noticed, sure, but that was really it. There was no correlation. What made Yuki the most envious was the fact that his cousin had developed skills that would help him survive outside of the Sohma cage which gave him an opportunity to escape. The rat, the god's favorite, would never be able to leave. He wouldn't be able to prevail outside of those walls.
Amethyst eyes glanced back at the cat, watching him as he was nose-deep in the material they had just covered before turning back around. It was strange to see him actually studying and not mouthing off to the person closest to him. Was Kyou falling behind again? It wouldn't surprise him seeing as how he rarely completed his homework.
Yuki let out a quiet sigh as lunch ended, students returning to their desks in order to prepare for the next class. The afternoon carried on as usual, teachers giving their lessons while students payed attention and took notes. Well, most of them. Bright eyes stared unseeing down at his open notebook during the final class, a pen in one hand while the non-dominant one picked absently at the tape on his lip. For some reason, his thoughts had drifted to Akito and the incident the previous day. Momiji had been upset but surprisingly bounced back rather quickly judging by the morning's behavior. What had caused the head of the house to snap? Was it Momiji or Yuki?
A loud snap in front of him caused the rat to jump and return to earth, lifting his eyes to see the teacher standing in front of his desk with a raised eyebrow and ruler in hand. It was clear she didn't approve of her student's behavior, Yuki's cheeks began to turn a light shade of red when he realized this and that the rest of the class was staring at him. He murmured an apology which seemed to satisfy her, watching as she returned to the front of the class to resume her job. Once the excitement of the class president being reprimanded wore off, attention began to turn away from Yuki and back to the teacher which he was eternally grateful for.
The cat figured it was enough studying when a headache started to form, perfectly as the bell rang to end lunch. He was disappointed. Even with the effort he put into it, it seemed it wouldn’t be enough to stick. He’d have to go over it again which definitely had no appeal.
The next class started as usual, picking up a new lesson continued from yesterday. Kyo was only beginning to zone out until the teacher moved from her usual spot to the front of Yuki's desk. Slightly surprised, she snapped the ruler on his desk startling Yuki and everyone else in the classroom. The rats lack of attention in class quickly had him muttering apologies to the teachers satisfaction.
The spectacle made Kyo smile, only vaguely wondering the cause. It brought him special amusement to see the prince falter. In fact, it almost made his day.
The last class ended and the school day came to a close much to Kyos relief. While every day was a little easier, it was still hard getting used to being in school after those few months in the mountains. No one in the house would admit it but at least none of them were on the ‘inside’ anymore.
The cat was just stopping at his locker when he overheard a couple of guys talking about you Yuki's unusual princely behavior. The rat may not have had too many close friends but he had a plethora of admirers. Who needs friends when you had people to take care of you from a distance? Speaking of the rodent...
[#d89104 “Hey,”] he started once Yuki was close enough to hear, [#d89104 “Did that love tap make it harder for you to pay attention in class or are you just slow today?”] The longer the statement lingered the more he pondered how unnecessarily rude it was. Too late. He couldn’t take it back now.
[h3 +] The final bell couldn't come quickly enough. Normally Yuki enjoyed school and found himself busy with after school activities, but not today. Not after everyone was staring at him and now they were whispering to each other about his lack of attention. Eyes would shift over to him for the briefest of moments before they flickered back to the person they were talking to, the rat able to hear his name among those whispers. The falter in his normal, perfect behavior in class combined with his classmates talking about him made his anxiety rise; that wasn't him, he didn't make mistakes like this. He couldn't think. He couldn't breathe.
He had to get out of there.
Quickly Yuk gathered his books and materials into his bag before rising from his chair and putting it on top of his desk just as quickly. Luckily it wasn't his week to help clean, giving him an easy escape. He silently exited the room and headed straight to his locker, avoiding eye contact with anyone on the way there. Now that he was out in the open without all of those judging eyes on him, he was beginning to feel better and his chest was opening up again. Nimble fingers opened the door to his locker, the rat pulling off his inside shoes and changing into his normal ones. It was at this moment that the cat decided to voice his opinion.
Kyou's voice caused him to jump, amethyst eyes quickly flickering over to the cat while his pulse escalated. That was the second near-heart attack within the past thirty minutes; Yuki wondered if he would even make it home alive at that rate. He didn't want to admit it but Kyou was right: the small scuffle with Akito had his thoughts jumbled and preoccupied with things they shouldn't have been. He didn't really blame Kyou as he didn't know the full extent of what happened in that house nor did he really want to explain it. He couldn't hold the cat accountable for something he knew nothing about. Once his pulse finally began to return to a normal pace, Yuki closed his locker door quietly and shrugged his shoulders.
[+purple "I don't suppose it really matters at this point, now does it?"] Yuki answered quietly, picking up his bag in the process. He waited for Kyou to finish before starting out the door and beginning the trek home.
Kyo was almost happy that Yuki deflected his comment with such coolness. [#d89104 “You darn right it doesn’t.”] He awkwardly watched Yuki walk away before grabbing the rest of his things and following suit. The cat knew he could definitely be insensitive sometimes especially when he knew god-damn well that Akito was just a pain in everyone’s ass, more to some than others. He just didn’t understand the feelings he got when he heard about things like that. He was supposed to hate Yuki with every fiber in his being but sometimes he thought he hated Akito more.
The walk home was peaceful since neither of them wanted to talk and Haru and Momiji didn’t join them. Maybe they knew more than Kyo did to leave the rat alone. It’s too bad he had to fucking live with him then! He would give all the rat the peace and quiet he needed. In fact, that’s what he planned anyway. The cat needed to run. He needed to get all these stupid thoughts out of his head and let his body take control for a couple hours.
But when they got home, there were two men standing on the porch. Shigure and Hatori, speaking in low voices till they approached. [b “Welcome home, children! Look who decided to drop by. Your good old ojisan.”]
[#d89104 “We’re not your children!”] Kyo snapped, gripping his bag tighter out of nervousness. The only reasons Hatori left Akito’s side was to deliver messages. Rarely did the doctor go out on leisure visits, the god-child made sure of that. [#d89104 “What are you doing here?”] he asked, eyeing Hatori with a hard gaze.
[b “Don’t be rude, Kyo,”] Shigure sighed, fanning himself with his paper fan. [b “He was just dropping off a letter from our dearest Head of the House.”]
[h3 +] Yuki walked home with Kyou in silence, his gaze towards the ground as his thoughts began to scatter in a multitude of directions. None of them were particularly pleasant as a number of them included Akito in some fashion, but some were more tolerable than others. For some reason he couldn't get the incident from yesterday out of his head, revisiting it every couple hours. Yuki remembered everything about it from the way Akito's fragile body moved from the feelings he kept trapped inside. He wasn't a stranger to Akito's behaviors, both verbal and physical, in any manner as the rat had been trapped in that hell with him for years. He experienced things that still haunted his dreams and affected his every day life. It had paused when he moved into Shigure's home, giving him a slight reprieve, but still followed him.
His footsteps slowed as he noticed not one, but two, figures on the front porch, talking softly to each other. Automatically he knew it was Hatori, Yuki able to recognize him almost anywhere, and kept his eyes on him as he approached the house and made his way up the steps. The doctor had been there for a little while, apparently, as his jacket had been shed and the white sleeves were rolled up a bit to combat the warm air. The brunette took a final drag of his cigarette, exhaling a steady stream of smoke as he stamped out the butt in a nearby ashtray, and looked over at them as Shigure announced their arrival. Honestly, Yuki's stomach churned a bit as the dog mentioned them as family so casually and was grateful that Kyou burst in and basically told the perverted male to stuff it. Thank god Shigure couldn't have children, the last thing he needed was another one of [i him] running around. One was bad enough.
Hatori delivered a good whack to Shigure's side with his forearm before stepping away from him and down to the two teenagers who stood in relatively close proximity to each other. [+teal "I've also come to take a look at your lip, Yuki,"] he informed them quietly while taking a sealed envelope out of his vest and holding it out to them. [+teal "I want to be sure it's healing properly."]
Yuki glanced at the envelope, noticing both of their names on it, before taking it and handing it to Kyou. His stomach was beginning to churn a bit violently, the last thing he wanted was to read something Akito had a part in. [+purple "It's fine, you don't have to concern yourself."]
The hard look Hatori was currently giving him made him cave, Yuki letting out a quiet sigh and holding his head up a bit. The older Sohma carefully pulled the tape off, examining the cut carefully, before replacing the white strips with new ones. [+teal "You probably should have gotten stitches for it but it looks like it's healing well,"] he told him softly. [+teal "Be sure to keep it clean to prevent infection. You also seem a bit pale, go inside and Shigure will make you some tea. It's about time he did some actual work today."]
Kyo shouldn’t have been surprised on how blatantly he was ignored. Of course, he knew very well that the rat was more precious to the Head of the House and honestly found it sickening that one person actually thought he ruled a handful of cursed individuals. Urg, he wanted to puke.
The cat took the letter that was passed to him and raised an eyebrow in suspicion. Both their names were on it. His name was never on anything. He was so sure that if Akito ever had the opportunity to wipe him off the face of the earth, he would. This was a trap and he damn well knew it.
He scoffed as he stomped past the doctor and his patient. [#d89104 “Yeah, Shigure. Make sure our delicate Yuki is taken care of. Stir his fucking tea with cream too.”]
The dog spirit sighed as Kyo pushed by to walk into the house, leaving the important zodiac members to their talking. The letter was still in his hand as he threw his bag into a corner and laid back on his bed. A message just for him and Yuki...
With an easy tug, the envelope popped open and he pulled out the handwritten note.
[i Dearest Yuki and Kyo,]
[i I formally invite you two to the main estate for a spot of dinner and dessert this evening. I’ve missed you immensely and I know you’ll love to share a table with me.]
[i Yours truly,] [i Akito.]
He flipped the note over and then back again. That was it? That’s all it had to say? Almost seemed like a waste of energy to have Hatori personally deliver it. What was wrong with a good ol’ fashioned phone call? Pssh. Akito probably thought he was above that.
Kyo was pretty dead set he didn’t want to go but he knew he would if Yuki decided to, he would. There was no way he was letting Yuke sit around with Akito by himself again. Not after yesterday. That greasy black haired kid wasn’t one of them and for all it was worth, it would weigh heavy on his conscience. The cat knew he possessed to power to fight back, might as well put it to good use.
When Yuki finally appeared in his doorway, he tossed the letter over, letting the words sink in before speaking. [#d89104 “What do you think?”] he asked, hoping the rat would make the smart decision to ignore it.
[h3 +] Yuki watched as Kyou moved past them into the house, spewing his dark words as he went. He had long grown used to the way the cat thought of and spoke to him, not allowing his words to get under his skin. Clearly Shigure thought the same. The dragon, though, was harder to read as his face hadn't changed since he moved over to the rat to assess the damage. It was typical Hatori behavior, the man rather stoic and quiet. [+purple "I don't require tea,"] he spoke quietly to his doctor, beginning to move around him to get into the house. Honestly, after the day he was having, he just wanted to be left alone for a while to gather his thoughts. It was still hard to focus for long on one particular thing and he hoped he could get it out of his system in order to complete his homework assignments.
[+teal "Just be careful, Yuki,"] Hatori advised softly, following the rat up to the porch but branched off to return to the older cousin to enjoy another smoke with him before leaving. [+teal "You wouldn't want to catch anything."]
Amethyst eyes glanced over at him before he headed back into the house and took off his shoes. His stomach still ached though he wasn't sure if it was because of Akito's sudden letter or the events of the day. Normally he grabbed something from the kitchen to take upstairs with him to give him energy to complete his homework but, due to his stomach, decided to skip that ritual for the day. Who knew what kind of effect it would have on him. Yuki made his way up the stairs and began to pass Kyou's room, turning his gaze to see the cat stretched out on his bed. Their eyes met briefly, Kyou tossing him the letter in order for him to read it.
Akito was up to something.
The teen's stomach dropped, the paper vibrating faintly in his hands as they shook. The sick feeling he had before had intensified, his stomach threatening to revolt at that very spot. Nothing good ever came from an invitation from the head of the house, especially after he had been so violent the previous day. Even worse, Kyou was included in this. If at any point their cousin had thought of murdering them both, this was probably his time to do it. What scared Yuki the most was the fact that he would probably get away with it.
It took Yuki longer than he would have liked to recompose himself to at least get a few sentences out, holding the sheet of paper in a death grip. It was no secret that Akito terrified him, especially after all the time he had spent in the main house with him, and it was beginning to show already. [+purple "I can't say no,"] Yuki answered after a very long period of silence. Honestly, he would have loved to tell the head of the family to piss off and spend the evening in bed. Too bad that wasn't an option. [+purple "I have to go. Whether you do or not is your decision."]
The cat spirit watched Yuki carefully read the note, taking no time for the curse’s sickness to sink in. He knew the effect it had on everyone when Akito’s name was mentioned, even worse when the god-child was near but he wanted to think that he himself was above that. His ears perked up when the rat started to speak, revealing his plan to go tonight.
Kyo’s eyes flashed with anger, frustrated that Yuki didn’t do the smart thing by turning down the invitation. He growled in annoyance, stretching out across his bed further. [#d89104 “Fine. If you want to walk right into his trap, then we’ll walk in- but I’m warning you, this is obviously a bad idea.”]
He gathered to his feet and yanked the letter out of the rat’s grip. [#d89104 “Tsk, arrogant ass couldn’t even bother to put a time. He’s testing us. For a laugh, knowing him.”] Kyo could already feel his blood boiling at the thought of what Akito might say or even do. Just for his sick entertainment.
He crumpled the letter into a tiny ball of paper, throwing it into the far corner of his room. [#d89104 “Guess we better get ready,”] he grumbled, turning his back to pull off his shirt.
[h3 +] The rat was fully aware of what a terrible idea it was, walking straight into Akito's hand. Yuki was certain there was some kind of horror that awaited them as the head of the family didn't have family gatherings simply to have them. There was always an ulterior motive, some kind of mental torture that would happen. Any gathering that the cat was invited to was bound to be a nightmare, not because of Kyou's presence but because of how much Akito hated him.
Nothing good would come from this.
Amethyst eyes continued to stare at the paper as he became lost in his thoughts, his form jumping as the letter was ripped from his hands by an irritated Kyou. His gaze lifted, silently watching Kyou crumple up the paper and tossing it away before grumbling about getting ready. He simply watched as his cousin's back was turned, pulling his shirt off, and dropping it to be cleaned later. Yuki wanted to go probably as much as Kyou did but he didn't have the option to say no. At some point he would have to face Akito again and he feared he would leave with more than a busted lip after that. The small frame turned and quietly left the room to head to his own in order to change into better clothes.
Yuki sorted through his closet, finding a suitable outfit and began to change out of his uniform. His hands still shook a bit which made it difficult to undo the buttons of his shirt and even worse to button his other one closed. Each passing minute made his anxiety grow, within the hour the rat imagined he'd be as stiff as a board. He couldn't wait to get this hell over with and return to the safety of his home where he didn't have to be worried about being locked into his room overnight. Once he found himself presentable, he went back to the cat's room to check on his cousin and see if he was ready.
He doubted he'd ever be fully ready for this.
[+purple "Are...are you ready?"] he asked quietly. His voice shook a bit, no matter how hard he tried to hide it, and deep breaths exhaled more in a faint stutter than a steady stream. It would seem that his nerves were already shot and they hadn't even left home yet. [+purple "I...I just want to get this over with..."]
Kyo wouldn’t let himself be bothered by the silence that followed when Yuki left the room... the time that occured between the peace of home and meeting Akito again. As he moved around the room, he practiced a meditation that his Master taught him to do before he did something that was uncomfortable. He relaxed his muscles and mind, dressing without care and not thinking about the dinner.
Time passed rather quickly and before he knew it, he was done and sitting quietly on the bed. The cat spirit was only brought back to reality by the sound of his cousin’s quivering voice. He opened his eyes, his feline pupils landing on Yuki instantly.
[#d89104 “Yeah,”] he answered, gathering to his feet. [#d89104 “Trust me, I want it over more than you do.”] Kyo crossed the room and gave him a slight smile. [#d89104 “Which is funny because you decided to go in the first place.”]
The carrot top led the way down the hall and outside where a family car was waiting. [#d89104 “Just remember, rat. I wouldn’t let anything happen to us.”]
[h3 +] Yuki followed the cat out to the waiting car quietly, waiting for Kyou to enter before sliding into the back seat beside him. He wouldn't say he [i decided] to attend this dinner, it was more of a demand in a polite disguise. The price for refusing Akito's request would be far more severe than anything he would face at this dinner tonight, the only fact that caused the rat to muster up any courage he had and get into the car.
He wondered, though, how Kyou planned to keep them both safe.
Kyou was certainly more brave than Yuki when it came to facing the head of their family. He could voice his thoughts to the head of the family much easier than Yuki ever could, even when it came to his anger. Whatever self-esteem the rat had was destroyed by Akito a long time ago which turned him into the quiet and partially depressed teenager that he was now. Those feelings became worse in the male's presence, Yuki afraid to speak for fear of being punished. Whatever light that had been inside the younger Sohma had been snuffed out, certainly there was no way it could get worse. But still, he wondered exactly what plans were running through the cat's head. Did he plan on a physical altercation or simply trying to cut him down with words?
They were about to find out.
Yuki stepped out of the car once it stopped, waiting for Kyou to do the same before walking up to the old, dark house with him. Their shoes were removed in the entry way before Yuki expertly walked the quiet halls to the dining room. He wasn't sure if he was ready for this, his hand shook a bit as he reached out to slide open the shoji screen door and his breath came out in a deep and long exhale. Before he could turn and run (which he desperately wanted to do) he pushed the door open and quickly looked around the room. It was already set up for them, a tea set in the center of the table, while two cups sat on one side and a single one on the other. Slowly he stepped in, his eyes darting all around just to make sure Akito wasn't lurking in the corners, before stepping up to the table.
[+purple "You didn't have to come,"] he told Kyou quietly while keeping his gaze averted from him. [+purple "I could have handled this on my own."]
Kyo took his seat in the awaiting car and stared absentmindedly out the window. The drive seemed relatively short for neither wanted to reach their destination and the space between them became heavy. They pulled to a stop in front of a dark, shadowed house, a small light luminating in one window. With a deep, meditative breath, Kyo stepped out of the car.
At the entrance, they removed their shoes and the cat spirit followed Yuki into the softly lit dining room. The rat stood their almost frozen in the doorway of the fairly plain room before taking cautious steps inside. He was a scared creature in the predators cage. Luckily, the monster was nowhere to be seen.
Kyo scoffed at Yuki’s quiet words, almost finding it funny. [#d89104 “Silly thing to say since we’re literally standing here anyway.”] He lowered himself to his spot near the table and reached over for the tea cup, helping himself to the pot. It was his tactic to make it seem like Akito didn’t get under his skin... as if this was just another boring dinner. He mustn't show weakness especially when Yuki was around. He wondered if the other would indulge in tea with him even at the absence of their host.
With a smirk, he pushed the teapot towards his cousin. [#d89104 “We don’t need to start with the dinner with the Almighty.”]
[h3 +] Yuki watched quietly as Kyou moved further into the room, taking his seat at the table. Akito had yet to arrive, something that wasn't uncommon as he remembered waiting for fifteen to twenty minutes on the head of the family before, and for the rat it made his anxiety worse. It was precisely why Akito did it as he wanted to build their anxiety and deepest fears. After a good look around the room to be sure the sickly male wasn't hiding in the corners somewhere, he slowly made his way further inside and took his spot next to Kyou. Any other time he would have grumbled about being so close to the cat but, right now, it was strangely comforting. Like he didn't have to endure this hell alone.
It didn't take long for Kyou to behave in true Kyou-fashion, picking up the tea pot and helping himself to the piping hot liquid. Polite dinner etiquette required all party members to be present before such actions, main house etiquette meant not touching anything until Akito arrived and gave permission to do so. After living there for so many years Yuki knew the rules inside and out, watching Kyou deliberately break them nearly caused the rat's chest to tighten.
[+purple "He's going to skin you alive,"] Yuki murmured quietly, watching as Kyou set the delicate china down on the table. The pot was pushed towards him, Yuki shaking his head faintly to deny his request, before letting his gaze flicker up to the cat. The smirk he held told him that his cousin wasn't taking this as seriously as he should, his rebelliousness was going to get them into trouble. [+purple "I'm not scrubbing your blood off of the floor."]
Moments after the last sentence was uttered, the shoji door across from them slid open and Akito slipped through. The kimono he wore nearly swallowed his thin form, the fabric slipping a bit from one shoulder as his frame was too narrow to hold it up. It wasn't properly folded and tied, either, which told Yuki he had been somewhat active before he arrived to dinner.
[+red "It's so good of you to join me,"] he greeted them softly, slowly making his way towards the table. [+red "It's been so long since we've had time to talk."]
Well if Yuki wouldn’t relax then how could he? He could fake it for a while but he knew his temper would eventually get the better of him...
His breath caught as the shoji door slid open, catching Akito’s eye as he came through. It was a piercing gaze and Kyo felt his senses heighten like an animal in the presence of a predator. The kimono dragged across the floor behind the god-child as he made his way over to his seat... beside Yuki.
Akito reached over the table to grab his tea cup from the spot he was supposed to sit and dragged it across the wood, running a chill up the cat’s spine. Kyo gripped his own tea cup tighter in his hand, trying to find some stability in the warmth of the glass.
[#FF0000 “It seems you’ve already made yourself comfortable, Kyo,”] he spoke, nodding towards the cat as he poured his own tea. [#FF0000 “My favorite knows how to behave. Would you like some Gyokuro, Yuki dear?”] Akito presented the rat with a smile, twisting Kyo’s stomach that he almost felt sick.
[h3 +] Yuki's breath nearly stopped completely as Akito entered, his pulse beginning to escalate. He felt as if he were in one of those American horror films where the killer picked off his victims one by one. Yuki's gaze remained fixed on the surface of the table as the head of the family moved closer, taking the open spot beside him and greeted them with that soft, cold voice. A bit of color dropped from his face and he didn't remember to begin breathing again until his chest became dangerously tight. He hated that Akito still had this effect on him; he liked to think he was stronger than this. It was evident that the dark-haired male still had the rat firmly in his grip and he wouldn't be letting go any time soon.
Such was the curse of being the favorite.
[+purple "....Yes, Akito,"] Yuki whispered, unable to really find his voice. His gaze remained locked on the table, not daring to bring it up just yet for fear of repercussions. The male could get particularly nasty when he wished to, leaving scars and broken bones in his wake. His hands rested in his lap as was customary in Akito's presence; presentation was everything. He could see his hand move over and grab the last empty cup, pulling it closer to him in order to fill it with the hot liquid. He could hear it as it hit the cup and it slide across the table moments later.
[+purple "It's...it's kind of you to invite us for dinner...."] Yuki spoke quietly. His voice wavered a bit in the beginning, indicating just how nervous he was. No doubt the head of the house was eating it up.
Kyo kept his gaze fixed at Akito’s kimono collar, careful not to make eye contact with the young master. He wasn’t weak. He was just cautious- yes. That’s what good fighters do! They analyze their opponents and wait for them to make the first move. Akito made no such hesitations.
[#FF0000 “The pleasure is all mine since neither of you seem to [i want] to make the trip out to the Main Estate to see me.”] The black haired teen leaned closer to Yuki, like a boy trying to flirt. [#FF0000 “Careful, it might seem like you don’t like me.”]
The cat spirit cleared his throat almost instinctively seeing how uncomfortable his table companion was becoming. He was here for that rat after all. [#d89104 “We don’t need to talk about specifics here. Aren’t we gonna eat or something?”]
Akito’s smile grew slightly wider, narrowing his eyes at him. [#FF0000 “Always so quick to be on with the events. Is it in your nature to be so instinctively rude or is it just in your deformed genes?”]
[h3 +] Yuki's body wanted to tense even more as Akito drew closer but it was physically impossible. He could already feel muscles begin to ache and cramp from how tight they were on his frame, one wrong punch could probably shatter him into a thousand pieces. Every time he saw Akito he was reminded of all the horrific acts he had to endure throughout his life at the main house, each one killing him a bit inside. He remembered how hollow he was when he finally came to live with Shigure and how it took him weeks to find the courage to leave his bedroom. It all came rushing back like water bursting though a dam.
[+purple "I...I could never hate you,"] Yuki lied quietly, trying to force his voice to remain stable. In fact it was quite the opposite: he hated every fiber of Akito's being. If he wanted to preserve the current arrangement of his face and keep his other bones in tact, he had to pretend the head of the house was the most precious thing on earth. It was difficult to do but he had quite a bit of experience in it. [+purple "It's just...I've been busy with school since midterms are next month. I want to make sure I'm prepared...."]
His eyes lifted once Kyou spoke, looking over at him and allowing his voice to fade. Yuki couldn't figure out if Kyou was simply not bright enough to keep his mouth shut or if he was trying to draw the focus to himself. Whatever it was, it caught Akito's attention and earned him a sickening smile. A chill ran up the rat's tense spine at that.
The cat spirit held his tongue which came with a lot of concentration. [i Don’t say anything. Don’t say anything,] he repeated, trying not to feel the heat of frustration growing in his chest. An eyebrow twitched in an almost comical way as he took a sip of his tea. The dinner in no way enjoyable.
[#FF0000 “Now nothing to say?’] Akito mocked, tipping his cup to the point that it spilled a little onto his saucer, creating a small puddle. [#FF0000 “Come now, that’s not any way to entertain your host. Didn’t your mother ever teach you any manners?”] Kyo instantly tensed up, his shoulders tight. [#FF0000 “Oh that’s right... She’s dead.”]
He lifted his gaze, his eyes thin slits looking straight into Akito’s amused features. How dare that fucking child say a damn thing about her! [#d89104 “You keep her out of this,”] he muttered through gritted teeth.
[#FF0000 “Such filth at the table, it’s almost as if he shouldn’t be eating here with us elites. Isn’t that right, Yuki? Wouldn’t you rather have him elsewhere? Maybe eating on the floor perhaps?”]
Kyo’s chest tightened more as he in turn looked at the rat for his response. He hoped to god that Yuki would man up and take his side for once. It wasn’t fair to be the cat. Often he felt he would be better dead. A burden lifted off people’s minds. But... he hoped regardless.
[h3 +] Yuki's eyes closed at Akito's words, not able to look at the cat as his mother was spoken about. He knew very well how he felt about her and how special she was; it was almost like if he didn't look over at his cousin, he wouldn't feel the pain and anger in the tan frame. It was easy for Yuki to brush off his own parents, they dumped him in this house when he was a small child. He could barely remember their faces. But Kyou, he had a parent that loved him and cared for his well being. He often wondered what that was like.
The amethyst eyes shot open as the conversation was directed towards him, landing on Kyou first before flickering over towards Akito. Such an asshole, no wonder everyone hated him. If he didn't have such control over all of their lives, no doubt they would have rebelled long before now. Unfortunately he dealt out some rather brutal beatings which made everyone, especially Yuki, step right back into line.
[+purple "I...I don't see the point it in, Akito-san,"] Yuki murmured quietly, his gaze dropping down to the table. If he was going to be given a glare that would churn his stomach, he didn't want to see it then. Even though the two didn't get along and hated each other's existence, he didn't want to see his cousin suffer for no reason. [+purple "Can't we just....ignore him?"]
Kyo could feel the rage building deep in his chest. What was anxiety was replaced by anger and spite. [i He couldn’t do it! He couldn’t man up for one fucking second! That damned Yuki is going to treat me like the fucking rat always does! Like I’m nothing.] [i ...like I’m nothing.]
[#FF0000 “You don’t see the point in it,”] Akito repeated, not making eye contact with either of them. [#FF0000 “You don’t see that he doesn’t belong here? He’s so loud it’s impossible to ignore him.”] The head of the family lifted his fist suddenly and slammed it on the table, making all the dishes rattle and Kyo’s hairs stand on end. [#FF0000 “And you’re so damn quiet that you don’t know how to act when you know you’re better.”]
[i On the contrary, he does.] Kyo fumed. [i Yuki’s just a bully when you’re not around to see it.]
[#FF0000 “And you do know better, don’t you?”] Akito poured more tea into his cup, the question directed at Yuki. [#FF0000 “Or do we need to go into another of our lessons right here in front of [i it.]?”]
Yuki was aware he had said the wrong thing the moment it left his lips. In a desperate attempt to keep Kyou from eating off of the floor he had moved the target from the cat's chest to his own. There was no way Akito would have accepted anything less than an "of course that's where he belongs" and the rat was well aware of that. Still, he thought if he worded it differently and took the path of ignoring Kyou (one of Akito's favorite things to do) it would at least make this visit a bit more civilized.
The hit to the table caused Yuki to jump and tense, closing his eyes for a moment afterwards. He half expected it to connect to some part of his body even though he had seen the male's fist connect with the table. The rat had always been paranoid and on edge around the head of their family, especially since he spent quite a few years in the main house under his care.
Well, "care" was a very loose definition.
The years he spent with Akito were focused on psychological torture and mental abuse. He hardly left the male's sight and, when he did, was forced to check in constantly. The rat was so damaged by the time he had fallen into Shigure's care that he refused to speak to anyone for months. Akito knew full well the effect he had on Yuki and used it as a weapon as often as he could.
[+purple "No, Akito-san,"] Yuki whispered, his voice beginning to falter. [+purple "Please....don't. At least wait....until we're alone."]
Flashes of yesterday crossed his mind like a blatant reminder of what was really going on here. Akito’s game had always been to pin one on the other. That’s what he did. That’s what he enjoyed. The god-child thought he had everyone wrapped around his finger. Well if Akito thought Kyo was going to sit here for one more god-damn second treating them like this, he had another thing coming-
Akito wrapped his fingers around the tea cup and the cat’s eyes widened. It was almost like he was seeing in slow motion. Years of training have taught him to be aware of his surroundings and the sudden movements of other people. That’s what honestly made the cat spirit so skittish. And in this moment, the black haired asshole was lifting his hand with the overly expensive cup of imported green tea and swinging it in an arch, right towards Yuki.
Kyo would have bet that he had never moved so fast in his life then in that moment. He was across the chabudai table and over Yuki before he even knew what he was doing.
Kyo inhaled sharply, staring down at Yuki’s face surrounded by silver hair as he felt the searing of tea dripping through his shirt. The rat must have been as surprised as he was, bending over him so close like they were intimate or some crap like that... but his embarrassment would have to wait.
[#FF0000 “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”] he heard Akito say over his shoulder. [#FF0000 “Get off of him you filthy animal!”]
Everything felt like instinct. Like he didn’t have to think. He just moved, grabbing the rat spirit off the floor and pulling him out of the room. It was as if he was just watching himself from someplace else. Even when Akito tried to pull Yuki back, he just grabbed that god-child’s kimono collar and shoved, a ruffled thump heavy to the ground.
That’s when things started to get blurry. He somehow found his way through to the door, ignoring the call of a housemaid, and out into the darkness outside where the rain had started again. Somewhere he thought that he may have been holding his cousin’s arm too tight. Somewhere he thought that he didn’t know where he was going. Somewhere he knew he was feeling extremely weak and should have stopped.
But he didn’t. Kyo dragged Yuki as far as he could before the blurs of wavering shapes and colors became black spots in his eyes. He dropped his grip on the other and crumpled to his knees, trying to focus on controlling his transformation with little avail. He blinked slowly, too hard to stay awake... so he closed his eyes...
[h3 +] Yuki was fully aware some form of punishment was coming but he was unable to put his finger on it. He had refused Akito's wishes, no doubt making him angry, and he would have to pay for that. No one stood up against the male and made it out unscathed. Amethyst eyes focused on the table top and tried to watch the dark-haired male out of the corner of his eye, wanting to prepare for whatever would come next. Would Akito attack him now or would he wait until Yuki least expected it? That answer was soon given as he noticed the slender fingers wrap around the small cup and lift it, a bit too quickly, and his arm pull back. This was it. The rat shut his eyes tightly as he didn't want to see it, nor did he want porcelain shards to hit his eyes if he was aiming for his head, and tensed his frame to prepare for impact.
He didn't feel a blow to his side where Akito was sitting, instead feeling a hit to his shoulders. Yuki snapped his eyes open immediately to see Kyou in front of him, both hands on his shoulders and pushing him onto his back while the cat knelt over him. His eyes widened at this, his heart beginning to beat quicker, and stared up at Kyou in shock. What in the hell was he thinking?! What would ever possess him to act like this?! Before Yuki could react, he felt his cousin's hand wrap around his forearm and pull him up to his feet. Instantly Akito was on him trying to stop them but Kyou shoved him back rather hard while gripping Yuki's arm tighter and bolted out of the house.
Yuki couldn't say how far the two of them ran through the woods but, by the time Kyou had finally slowed down, his chest was hurting. His breath came out in shallow bursts, his form bending over a bit as his cousin's firm grip finally left his arm. He imagined he'd have a bruise there tomorrow, he tended to bruise rather easy. Once he finally caught his breath and his heart rate had slowed, Yuki slowly picked up his head and looked around for Kyou. He lay on the damp, forest floor in cat form while his uniform lay in a pile nearby. The orange belly rose and fell quickly, the cat recovering from his sudden run. Yuki sighed, going over and collecting the male's clothes then wrapping them around the wet animal to keep him warm. Once he was properly bundled, Yuki picked him up and began the trek back to the house. Even though they didn't see eye to eye, it would be cruel to leave him there. It had grown colder due to the rain and the dark, causing the rat to shiver now and then, but kept going in order to make it back to their home. The quiet gave him plenty of time to think, however.
Why did Kyou save him like that? If anything he should have been happy to see the rat get what he so rightfully deserved, if nothing else a black eye to match the cut to his lip. Did the cat know something he didn't? Or did he simply lose his damn mind? These questions and more swam through Yuki's brain as he carried his cousin home and silently entered the house. He set Kyou's shoes on the rack beside the door before doing the same with his own then carried the cat up to his bedroom. Carefully he set him down on the bed, picking up one of the blankets and wrapping him up in it, before going down to his own room to change out of his wet clothes.
The teen pulled his body together into a fetal position, comforted by the warmth of the blankets. With a groan, he pushed his head into the pillow and subtly noticed how wet it was. He laid there for a few more seconds before bolting straight up, the rush making his headache worsen.
[i The dinner. Akito. We left. How did I get here and not remember it?!] A quick glance down and red brushed his cheeks. Naked. He must have transformed sometime last night. He vaguely recalled it raining so that must have been it. Fucking embarrassing. Yuki must have brought him home. [i Yuke...]
The more he thought about last night, the more he was relieved that they left. Kyo did the right thing, for that he was sure. He might have disliked the rat but he hated Akito more. He pulled his knees up to his chest and hugged himself, feeling a bit emotional just thinking about it. Sometimes the tough guy act was exhausting. He missed Master... He missed his mother...
Kyo glanced over at the window, noticing it was still dark. It must have been late at night or early morning. He wondered if Yuki was still awake.
He pulled himself out of bed, quickly getting dressed in warm sweats and a hoodie. He poked his head out into the hall, a warm glow coming from under the rat’s door. Staying up late. His cousin wasn’t going to be very pleasant tomorrow morning.
The cat spirit stepped into the hall, stopping to grab pain pills and a glass of water before heading over to Yuki’s closed door and knocking lightly. He knew this was a little out of character for him but Yuki couldn’t possibly think he was that heartless.
[h3 +] The bedroom door shut softly behind Yuki, the teenager moving across the room and over to his bed. His clothes were just as wet as Kyou's and would need changed; the longer he stayed in the damp cloth the greater his risk of getting sick became. It was another curse the rat had to deal with as he fell ill rather easily and needed to be extra careful in wet and cold conditions. Slowly Yuki peeled off the wet clothes and allowed them to drop onto the floor before changing into his pajamas, carrying the damp items over to his desk and draping them over his chair to allow them to dry. As he did so, his thoughts were occupied by the dinner they had fled from and Kyou himself. What the cat did was impulsive and probably not that smart as it meant they would have Hell to answer for later, but he wasn't mad about his actions. Yuki already had a split in his lip from the other day, he could only imagine what the tea cup would have done.
But why did he do it? Yuki and Kyou had never gotten along, just yesterday the cat had been cussing him out. What caused the sudden change? It was a question he couldn't answer and was debating on whether or not he should ask. He doubted he'd receive an honest answer, anyway. The rat headed back over to his bed, picking up a book from his desk on the way, and crawled under the warm blankets. Luckily they didn't have school the next day so he could use tonight and tomorrow to try to unwind. Thank God for holidays.
Yuki had devoured a few pages of the book before he heard a quiet knock at his door followed by the familiar voice. Kyou must have transformed back; it was good to know his cousin was back in the waking world and not laying in a coma. Amethyst eyes lifted to the door for a moment before back down at the pages, Yuki reaching beside him and picking up the bookmark.
[+purple "It's open,"] he answered quietly, setting the strip of plastic in between the pages. Afterwards he closed the book but left it in his lap.
Kyo pushed the door open, spotting Yuki in the corner in bed and closing a book. From what he could tell, the other looked fine. A little frizzy in the hair but fine otherwise. [#d89104 “How are you doing?”] Yet... he asked anyway... [i Way to be awkward, Kyo.]
He closed the door behind him softly to not wake Shigure and took the medicine. It was strange standing here in Yuki’s room but feeling absolutely no hostility so he took a moment to glance around the room. It was similar to his but obviously more studious. Yuki was probably the type to want to go to university.
[#d89104 “Did you, you know, wanna talk or something?”] he asked, placing his water cup on the dresser closest to him.
[h3 +] Yuki leaned back against the headboard as he watched Kyou, pulling his legs up into his chest a bit. It was strange having the other in his room without a shouting match but he wasn't about to protest it. He appeared to be in better shape now that he was awake, if not a bit sore, but he expected some discomfort. That was a staple of any visit with Akito. The wounds that inflicted weren't always visible as some were internal but there was always pain inflicted. The degree of it was always a surprise.
A lot of thought had been given to the words that Akito spoke to him while Kyou had been asleep. Never before had the head of the family threatened to humiliate the rat in front Kyou, nor really anyone his own age, and it left an unsettled feeling in his stomach. He had always known that the sickly male wasn't above it as he had seen it done plenty of times, but this felt different. Perhaps he had fully realized that, no matter what he did, it would never be good enough for their God.
[+purple "...I..."] Yuki's voice started quiet and trailed off, the bright eyes shifting from the cat over to his closet nearby. Honestly he felt a bit selfish in his feelings as he knew the cat always had it worse....that was the curse of being who he was. Knowing that didn't lessen his feelings in the least.
The cat watched carefully as Yuki trailed off with his words, looking from side to side like he actually didn’t want to talk to him... which wouldn’t be a surprise. Kyo was often disregarded and usually that didn’t bother him. But today...
He wasn’t about to be nothing again.
And it bugged him that Yuki was going to pull that bullshit anyway. [#d89104 “I asked,”] he started, holding back any frustration that was threatening to spill over in his tone, [#d89104 “So I would like if you told me what was on your mind.”] Even if it is stupid, Kyo was sure that he had said stupider shit in his lifetime.
[h3 +] For once, Kyou didn't sound angry or upset. It surprised Yuki to hear that as normally the two were itching to get away from each other. Bright eyes moved back towards Kyou, studying him for a minute as he remained near the door, and wondered why he cared so much. Perhaps he didn't care at all and this was simply a distraction from his life. Either way the two of them were here and having a surprisingly calm talk.
[+purple "It's just....upsetting, I guess. What happened at the main house,"] Yuki stated quietly after a long minute of silence. It was more than upsetting to the rat but he didn't know if he should share that with Kyou. He probably wouldn't care. It was best to keep his feelings to the bare minimum. [+purple "I can't stop thinking about what he said and what happened. But....thank you for doing what you did. You didn't have to."]
There was a long pause before Yuki spoke again and Kyo listened. He hovered on those words, almost too shy to admit that it wasn’t really him in that moment that the rat appreciated. Or maybe it was- he didn’t know.
The cat felt his features soften, not making eye contact with his cousin. Unfortunately Yuki had a piercing gaze that made it difficult for Kyo to be fully comfortable in his presence as most of the zodiac members did. Yuki’s just felt more powerful than others. [#d89104 “Yeah, it’s no problem. Neither of us wanted to be there anyway.”]
He glanced over and tried to make a reassuring smile but felt it looked too stupid so he returned to a scowl. [#d89104 “Look, don’t think too much about what Akito said. He is just a lonely person in a lonely house who likes to pick on the zodiac because, god forbid, we might actually have a life worth living. Also, just ‘cause I didn’t have to doesn’t mean I’m a horrible person all the time. I’m not okay?”]
Kyo could feel himself getting defensive and trying to bottle that was difficult. He wasn’t a fan of feeling vulnerable, especially in front of someone who hated him.
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