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."]
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.”]
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 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 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.”]
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..."]
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.
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."]
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,]
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.
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 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.”]
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.
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.
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.
He hated being the center of attention.
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.]
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 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.
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