At first, Kyou seemed angry that it came down to something so simple. Surviving in the Sohma family really was just a game and it depended on who could play it the best. He really couldn't blame Kyou for not knowing how it worked, seeing as he spent most of his life outside of it. He had plenty of time to learn, though, and Yuki was an excellent teacher. His role in the family and time spent in the main house meant that he had been able to see how each member played the game and how good they were are it.
Bright eyes shifted downwards at movement from Kyou, watching as he held his hand out for Yuki to take. It was a relief, it meant that he wanted to move forward with this plan and learn how the game was played. A faint smile touched his lips, the rat outstretching his hand and shaking Kyou's in agreement. Good, this truce could continue. He was growing quite fond of it.
[+purple "I assume you've played poker before, yes?"] he asked quietly, picking up the last non-breakable item in the drainer and trying it. Once it was dry, it was put away in the cabinet where it belonged. Yuki needed to be sure that Kyou would understand his terminology; if he had no idea how poker worked then another game would need to be used. It didn't matter if he was good at it or not, all he needed to know was if Kyou could pick up what he told him.
When the silence grew longer and longer between the two teens, the cat did chance a sideways glance to the rat. He wasn't sure if the other had listened to him or was choosing to ignore him. Something he could admit to being used to, though he also had to admit that in the moment it stung. The two of them had come along way in such a short time. He was even STARTING to let his guard down and to hope that maybe just maybe an understanding would have developed between them.
The water continued to run as he continued to wash the dishes. He was aware how Yuki seemed to avoid the finer china like the plague and so knew it would be left to him to finish up. [b "Are you eve---"] The cat began to ask if the rat was listening to him, but was cut off by aoft words as the other finally spoke. And so Kyou decided to keep quiet long enough to listen to what Yuki had just said and pointed out.
[b "So this all comes down to a damn poker game and whi can bluff their way through it the best?"] The cat muttered almost in disbelief. But then, the other had grown up mostly at the main house and was closer to the family that he was and so would know. And for a moment, Kyou fell into his own silence to tbink over the poker analysis that Yuki had just used. Really the best they could do and what did they have to lose?
[b "Fine, rat.. we'll play the game. But you're gonna have to teach me who has what hand if we want to get through this with as little injury as possible."] Kyou finally said, orangey-red gaze finally meeting violet and he held out a hand to shake. His own form of calling for their truce to continue.
Yuki quietly picked up a dishcloth and began to dry and put away non-fragile items when Kyou cleaned them. He briefly thought about doing the same with the china but quickly remembered the last time he had done so. An entire set of antique wares were destroyed by the rat's hand and he was forced to listen to Shigure complain about it for weeks. It was best not to repeat the offense and continued his work with the plastic ware and chopsticks.
He listened to Kyou's thoughts carefully as he worked, choosing to remain silent at first. The rat had given this a bit of thought already and Kyou had some points. If he thought the bruising on his side and chest were bad he could only imagine the hell that would be unleashed on him if Akito found out the two were getting along. The cat would receive punishment as well but both knew that Yuki would get it worse. It was the price he was forced to pay as the God's favorite. But he liked this peace between the two of them and didn't really want to go back to their old ways.
Luckily Yuki was one of the smartest in the family.
Amethyst eyes flickered over to Shigure's office, seeing the door closed and able to hear the radio playing in the next room. He left it on all the time, making it difficult to assess whether he was really home or not, but at least it provided some background noise to drown out their voices if he were, in fact, inside. [+purple "Each member of the family has at least one good hand in this messed up poker game we call a family,"] Yuki began quietly, turning his attention to the dishes he was currently working on. [+purple "Some of us have better hands than others, others of us bluff our way through the game, and some of us cheat to win. My time in the main house has given me a good insight into who has what hands."]
[+purple "The first obstacle is Shigure, first and foremost he's a bluffer. He wants you to think he holds more sway than he does. While he is powerful, he doesn't have the most influence. Unfortunately he does have a keen eye for detail. If we can keep up the charade of our angry selves when he's around, he'll never know the difference."]
He wasn't tired of the truce and their so called "cease fire" but he was shooting off his mouth. He was purposely saying things he knew that could get under his cousin's skin to start them on their normal paths. After all, hadn't that been their deal? Habe this temporary peace that gave them both solace long enough to get their grades up where it was needed? Or...had he understood that wrong? Because the quiet had been nice and a reprieve that had been long needed...for them both.
[b "Doesn't have to end? Are you crazy?"] Came muttered words. The rat knew as well as he did that they were always watched. Knew that EVERYTHING always got back to Akito and that if their god was unhappy retribution was sought after. So in their case, it would more than likely be another beating for Yuki because he was the golden boy and KNEW that Kyou was an outsider to the family for the most part.
Those thoughts always put him in a bad mood. Worse than was his usual. And it was again soft words to bring him out of his thoughts and to turn to Yuki who had spoken them. [b "And if I don't?"] He was asking what if he didn't want it to end. [b "What the hell could we even do about it?"] He hissed as he stood and went the short distance and to the kitchen himself to wash the dishes so that everything was cleaned up and the dog couldn't "yap" at them for not cleaning up after themselves.
[b "But not that wouldn't want to..."] He muttered quietly. It was an after thought for sure. But the cat didn't want to have the rat thinking he had COMPLETELY hated their truce. In fact, he had liked it probably more than he should have.
Yuki simply watched the other as he spoke, his form remaining still. Had Kyou really grown tired of this peace between them already or was he simply blowing smoke? He really believed it was the latter as this miniature truce seemed to give a relaxing air about him. This was something the cat didn't realize he needed until it was already upon him and had grown to find comfort in the calm. Yuki wasn't one to judge as he was in the same position, though he was willing to admit that he enjoyed the break and wished it could continue.
But could it really?
Yuki took notice of the empty bowls and and cups, glancing up at Kyou again before slowly rising. [+purple "It doesn't have to end, you know,"] he spoke softly as he began to stack the bowls then gathering the chopsticks. Once everything was neatly stacked he lifted them and carried them the short distance to the kitchen counter. He was about to start dishes but stopped short as he moved in front of the sink. After the catastrophe of broken dishes and clogged drains the last time, perhaps it was better to leave it to someone else. The last thing he wanted was to hear Shigure run his mouth again. Instead he took the plastic containers from the drainer and began to put them away after stealing another glance at Kyou.
[+purple "But that's entirely up to you."]
With silence that had fallen, Kyou almost did not expect for Yuki to answer him. In truth, he was surprised when an answer had come at all. Because it had in a way meant to be a trick question. Or one that he hoped would help him to better understand the motives that the rat had. Because they had both gotten what they wanted and needed from the other. Yuki needed the cooking grade...and he had in his other classes. Now though, they had that. Their report cards proved that.
Orangey-red gaze slipped over to the bright eyes that had come to glance his way. The words spoken took him by surprise and it took a moment to take them in. He didn't know how sincere Yuki was. But there was something in the tone that told Kyou it was true.
[b "Yeah, but even if did admit that what good would it do us? Pretty much damn us both because of this stupid curse that we have always been under. So...we should go back to it before the others get suspicious."] He muttered as he took a couple more bites of his rice and chicken. Ironically, the worry was more for the rat than it was for himself. Not that he would EVER admit that. As far as he would let Yuki believe, Kyou was tired of their truce, though he would miss it. Miss the sense of having a friend, even if temporary.
A nimble hand lifted the glass of water, the substance cold against his skin. Yuki held it for a little while as he listened to Kyou speak before taking a drink and setting it down again. There was truth to his words as he really did believe the cat would be a marvelous fit at the dojo. He had studied their far longer than any of the other zodiac had and even had a special relationship with Sensei. It was easy to see that Kyou enjoyed martial arts and was quite skilled at it, this was what made the rat suggest it in the first place.
Bright eyes lifted towards Kyou again, listening to his question but remaining silent for a moment afterwards. He didn't exactly have a direct answer to give which caused the rat to think long and hard about it himself. He wasn't sure why he was still being kind, in honestly the two should have parted ways by now. Each had received what they needed from the other so why continue this strange truce? Slender shoulders shrugged after a moment, allowing silence to fill the air for a few moments longer before answering.
[+purple "Perhaps because I'm tired,"] he responded softly, his form leaning back a bit. [+purple "Arguing and fighting with you all the time is exhausting, even you can't deny that. It's nice to take a break once in a while."]
They all wanted the freedom from the curse. Some he assumed more than others. Yuki because of being the favourite and going through what he did. But he knew the dragon, Hatori had had his share of pain too. All of them have. But at least even in not getting along and having their trials they could at least accept one another. He one the other hand was the oddman looking in. The one who was cursed to forever be the outcast. It had been that way for generations. Not them specifically but the curse had been a part of the family for as far back as any of them knew. And he was wanting it to FINALLY be broken. Wishful thinking and he knew that.
[b "When finishing this damn school then I will. But I can't until then."] He muttered as he took another bite. Another excuse to fall back into some kind of silence. But it was Yuki's next words that had the cat nearly choke on his rice. [b "You really think that? Why being so nice all of a sudden, rat?"] Just because they seemed to be getting along, didn't mean he fully trusted the kindness. Or had expected it to continue on.
Yuki watched the cat quietly for a moment or two, leaning back a bit as he did so. Being free of the dreaded curse was all any of them really wanted, to live a normal life with the people around them. He tried to remain hopeful, that one day the right person would come along and break it. Realistically, it didn't seem plausible. Generations upon generations of Sohmas had suffered under the weight of the zodiac and he was certain it would continue for generations more. Hearing that Kyou wanted to leave the family was a bit surprising, however. Even though it was never voiced to him, the rat knew that the cat wanted to be accepted by the others. It was part of his curse. To just abandon that...
[+purple "Perhaps you can go back with Kazuma-sensei,"] Yuki responded softly after a bit. He finished the rest of his dinner, setting the chopsticks on top of the bowl before bringing his gaze back up to Kyou again. [+purple "He'll need someone to take over the dojo at some point, I'm sure. I think it would be a good fit for you."]
Yuki was the smart one. Practical and could handle numbers, organization, and simple house running. A talent the cat would kill for. He himself was lucky if he could keep track of the food in the house OR his school work. But unlike his cousin, Kyou could manage social aspects of life. He could cook and he could clean. Even make bargains and wasn't "shy". Useful he supposed in the real world.
Together, the cat and rat had what it took to make it outside their cursed family. Could probably make it in the world. And he HAD to stop right there. They HATED the other. They were only getting along now because of their deal. Yuki needed all A's to not get a beating..and he needed to get his grades up to keep his lessons with Kazuma. A mere means to each get what they wanted and nothing more. Even he wasn't stupid enough to hope this so called truce could stay.
Red gaze went to the other male as he seemed to deliberate the question that Kyou himself had posed. It took longer than the cat thought it should, but an answer was soon given. And he was silent as he listened. The part that surprised him was having the question asked of him as well. Now it was his turn to take a couple bites of his own chicken and rice to try and find an answer. Of course he had thought about it..but knew it wasn't likely to happen.
[b "Be free of this damn curse and the family ties. To live my own life and maybe even become a martial arts master. The college life isn't for me. Maybe even get away from here and start again. That is if..."] But the cat shut down right there and began to eat again. He had opened his mouth too much. Said too much.
The talent of being practical. Was it really a talent or was it a set of skills that were forced onto him by family roles? He was smart, yes, which meant account balances were no problem for him and keeping track of food items in the house to keep them from running out was a breeze. He could organize a person's routine for more efficiency like nobody's business and could even work a laptop pretty well. Unfortunately he didn't have the social skills to back all of that up, not like Kyou, and would probably starve to death within the first month.
Either that or burn up in an electrical fire.
If the two zodiac were to work together as a single unit then none of this would be a problem. Yuki could handle the technical aspect of like while Kyou could handle the social and basic living. That was something, though, he didn't see in their immediate future as the two hardly got along.
Except for right now.
Amethyst eyes raised a bit as Kyou returned to the table, Yuki carefully setting the last bowl on his side of the table before sitting down at it. It was a question the rat had never thought about before, not in great detail. It was hard to do when he was constantly reminded of the Sohma chain he was attached to. Nimble fingers picked up the chopsticks beside his bowl before plunging them into the rice and carefully pulling out some. It smelled amazing, especially combined with the chicken, and tasted even better. Once he chewed and swallowed, he brought his eyes back up the cat once again.
[+purple "I just want to be free, I think, to live a normal life,"] he responded quietly after a moment. [+purple "I want to go to college, one that I choose, and maybe even leave Kyoto for a while. What about you?"]
The cooking was something he didn't mind. Besides it kept him busy and was a good distraction from the thoughts that began to enter his head. The thoughts of the past and of their family. Kyou had never been much liked and it was made a point to keep the cat on the outside. His mother and Kazuma had been the ones to pretty much raise him and to teach him. How he knew how to cook the chicken like he was doing now. Well how he learned almost ALL the pratical things he knew how to do. It was because he knew that he would have nearly no one. And Kazuma wanted to make sure he would be able to take care of himself.
It was only the soft words from the rat that brought Kyou out of his thoughts. Which as much as he hated to admit, he was thankful for it. The past was not where he wanted to live. But it haunted him. [b "Neither of us are lucky, rat. You have the place expected of you. And I have mine.."] He tried to have the usual bite to his words, but they just didn't come. The tone was more sad, and even he noticed that. [b "You have the talent of being pracgical..maybe not like house work. But listening and problem solving."] It was his own way to say he admired those traits.
Silence fell between them again and out of the corner of his eye, the cat saw that the rat was getting water and dishes out. It helped since he was finishing the chicken annd the rice would be done soon. Or more like just finished. And both of them had filled the bowls, Yuki taking both to the table while Kyou quickly washed out the pan before joining him.
[b "Know stupid to ask..but what do you actually want? Not this whole family crap. But personally?"] Why not ask the question? Gave them something else to talk about and the meal wouldn't be spent in silence.
Yuki continued to rest against the counter as the rice began to cook. This job was a mindless one, as soon as the lid was closed and the settings pressed the rice wouldn't need to be touched again until it was finished. This compared to the chicken was a task better suited for the rat as it guaranteed he wouldn't give them all food poisoning.
He listened quietly as Kyou spoke, observing him from his position across the small kitchen. Yuki imagined a small Kyou holding onto his mother's skirt as he watched her cook, the same child sitting on the counter trying to crack an egg and, when he got frustrated as he failed, the gentle woman coming over to help him with a smile. It was something Yuki couldn't relate to, he drew a rather short stick when it came to caring family members. He didn't remember his parents all that well, he was hardly around them as a child. They made certain he became friends with Akito which meant a lot of time at the main house while they continued to live their lives. After that, they more or less dumped him there to be cared for by the adults at the estate and give the head of the family an eternal plaything. This was one of the reasons he felt jealousy towards Kyou: he never had someone to unconditionally love him. The cat had his mother and, when she passed, he had Kazuma. Yuki literally had no one.
The rat straightened himself up to move to one of the counters after a while, reaching up into it and pulling down some bowls. Both elements of their meal would be finished soon and they would need something to put them into. Afterwards he headed over to the fridge and knelt down to pull out a pitcher of water. [+purple "I had always wished I was good at something practical,"] Yuki murmured quietly, slowly rising with the pitcher and taking it to an empty spot on the counter. A slender hand reached up to take down two glasses and set them nearby, then picked up a lemon and carefully quartered it. [+purple "You're lucky, even if you don't think you are. As for Kazuma, you deserve someone to look up to and who takes care of you. It's nice to have someone to lean on."]
As the chicken and rice both finished cooking, Yuki added water to the glasses with lemon inside then scooped out enough rice to fill each bowl. When Kyou had finished diving the chicken between them Yuki set both bowls on the table and carried the glasses over as well.
The directions had been easy enough and he knew that the rat would follow no problem. It always amazed the cat how well Yuki could do when guided through a task in the kitchen, but left alone how it could go to hell. Not that he could fault the rat. He had NEVER been taught and it was a well known fact that the others, Akito especially did not want the family's golden boy to know how to take care of himself. If he could, then he could leave.
His mind was wandering as he cooked the chicken. A task he had learned from early on. And for a little while, Kyou had actually forgot that his cousin was there. Or he had until the other male spoke up from his place by the counter. Orangey-red orbs came up from the pan and fell on the other.
[b "When I was allowed to be with her...or more like before...My mom taught me. She knew would have to know this stuff. Kazuma taught me more after and continued."] Kyou's words were actually soft as he spoke them. Not exactly memories he liked to think about. The part that had surprised him was that he had actually told Yuki and NOT told him to go to hell. Looked like their little truce was still in play. Or at least it seemed to be for the moment.
Yuki listened quietly as Kyou began to instruct him how to use the steamer and to measure out the rice correctly. He hated how easy it sounded, knowing full well that if the cat weren't here to help that the kitchen would be on fire by now. How he managed to screw up the easiest task in a kitchen was beyond him; if he were doing anything else it would be flawless.
Once Kyou finished explaining, Yuki took out the inner chamber of the steamer and filled it with to the line that the cat had shown him then measured out the correct amount of rice. He rinsed the small grains with Kyou's supervision then dumped them into the chamber, once finished setting it inside the steamer and closing the lid. The correct settings were pressed by the cat before he moved away and began to start the chicken.
Yuki was still very insecure when it came to cooking meat as he had a hard time gauging how cooked the inside was. When he felt he was finished it was either still raw on the inside or it was burned pretty badly. Not wanting to give the two of them food poisoning, he allowed the cat to take over that part of dinner and began to get dishes down instead. Quietly he pulled down two bowls from a nearby cabinet and found two pairs of chopsticks, setting them down on the counter and out of the way. He couldn't help but wonder who, exactly, taught the cat to cook. His father was ruled out immediately as the two didn't get along, leaving either his mother or Kazuma. He didn't want to bring up bad memories but he was curious and it would give the two of them something to do other than stare at a wall.
[+purple "Where did you learn how to cook?"] Yuki asked quietly, leaning against the counter nearby and folding his arms over his chest.
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