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Staycation

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The first thing Kyou hears is humming, a little bit off-key, but it still sounds happy. He walks further into the kitchen and finds Tohru busy sweeping the floor.

“Kyou!” she says once she spots him, her voice as excited as if it had been months since they’d last seen each other instead of just this morning. With the broom in hand, she wraps him up in a hug. It’s a little uncomfortable as the wooden handle smacks the back of his head, but Kyou would never turn down a moment like this.

She hugs him every day without fail. At first it was a little unnerving because Kyou had never been used to physical contact like this, but over the last few months, he’s come to enjoy the feeling of her arms wrapped around him and the smell of her shampoo as she leans closer.

He thinks her hugs might be some sort of tangible reminder to herself of all the hardship the curse put them through and how much better everything was now that it was broken. They served as a reminder to himself anyway.

“How was the dojo today?” Tohru asks her usual question, and then takes a step back to continue her sweeping.

Kyou shrugs. “Same as always,” he answers, glancing around the kitchen to see if there’s anything he can do to help. But it looked like Tohru had beaten him home early enough to already fix something for dinner.

“I don’t have to work tomorrow,” Kyou adds. It had only been three months since they’d moved here, but he’d adjusted pretty well to the work as an assistant at Kazuma’s friend’s dojo. With Tohru by his side, the transition to a new environment and new job wasn’t as bad as he’d expected. He actually really loved the work, but he didn’t mind the opportunity for a break tomorrow either.

Tohru’s face lights up with excitement. “I have tomorrow off work too!”

Kyou listens as she launches into a long story about what she and her coworkers had done that day before concluding with the reason why she didn’t have to head back to the part-time job tomorrow. He listens, watches as she unconsciously moves to the rhythm of her own voice—the broom, somewhat forgotten, swinging useless in the air—and Kyou realizes these are the things that made him fall in love with her.

She’s always been so vibrant and full of energy.

“So what are we going to do tomorrow?” Kyou asks.

“Well, there’s so much cleaning I want to catch up on,” Tohru begins. “I couldn’t possibly go out knowing that there’s so much housework left undone.”

Kyou doesn’t find her assertion hard to believe since he’s been watching her seriously sweep a dirtless floor for the past few minutes. He’s told her over and over again that she doesn’t have to do everything around the house, that it’s okay to let dust settle for a day or two, but she still insists. He feels guilty that he doesn’t help out as much as he should.

“I’ll do the housework tomorrow,” he promises, knowing that he’ll probably regret not thinking this plan through later.

He knows this declaration will send her into a panic, and sure enough, after a few seconds, she’s waving her arms in the air like a frantic Ritsu, trying to insist that Kyou doesn’t have to work at all.

Luckily, Kyou has figured out a pretty effective way for silencing these silly kinds of protests.

He reaches for her arms, gently pushing them down for his own safety, before he leans forward and presses a light kiss to her lips. Every kiss like this still makes her blush like they haven’t been dating for the past few months, but it’s effective enough to get her attention.

“I’ll do the housework tomorrow,” he repeats, “and you can take a vacation. I promise I’ll clean everything you want.” He knows he’s going to regret using the word everything, but it’s worth it because Tohru deserves the time off more than he does.

Tohru reluctantly agrees after a little more coaxing, and once the matter is finally settled, they start eating dinner. Kyou focuses on their conversation and doesn’t think much about all the stuff he’ll have to do when he wakes up in the morning.

***

“Aren’t you going out?” Kyou asks as he looks up from the list of chores Tohru had written. He had no idea the tiny little house the dojo owner was letting them rent was big enough to need this much cleaning.

Tohru shakes her head as she gathers up the dirty laundry she wants washed first. “I’ve decided to take a… oh what’s the word for it…” She frowns in concentration as she tries to remember. “Ah! A ‘staycation’! I read that word in a book once,” she explains simply as she dumps the dirty laundry by the washing machine.

Kyou scratches his head. “You’re really just going to spend your day watching me clean?”

Tohru nods as if that was the most exciting idea in the world.

And maybe to her, it was.

Although after ten minutes of him trying to figure out what settings to use on the washing machine only to have Tohru finally take pity and whisper the directions like she was trying to be sneaky, Kyou realizes that Tohru probably decided to stick around as supervision more than anything else.

He vows to get through the housework as quickly as possible so that he could at least take her out to dinner later. She deserves something nice on this “staycation.”

The next task on his list is window washing, which doesn’t seem fun or exciting at all, but Tohru sits there and watches him anyway as he wipes down the dirt and grime from each window pane. There are somehow many more cobwebs than he expected to find, and now he’s sort of glad he took this task away from Tohru, lest a stray spider or two scared her.

“How many windows does this house have?” Kyou mutters to himself, wiping sweat away from his forehead while the sudden ringing of Tohru’s cellphone keeps her from hearing his complaint.

The phone had been a present from Shigure (“to call in case that pervert Kyou does something indecent” he’d said, to which Kyou had given Shigure a good kick in return). Whatever the reason had been, having an easy way to contact everyone made the move away a bit easier for Tohru.

“How are the college classes so far? Have you settled in well? Are you eating properly?” he hears Tohru ask with the tone of a worried mother. It’s not hard to figure out Yuki is the one who called.

From the corner of his eye, he sneaks a glance at Tohru. She’s listening intently, making all the facial expressions and nods she would make as if they were having the conversation in person. It’s pretty adorable, he thinks, and then he can feel his face blushing a bit, so he goes back to window washing.

Their conversation lasts a while which means Kyou can get the window washing done without having to be self-conscious about Tohru staring at him. It makes the work go a bit faster. By the time he flops down at the kitchen table to take a break, Tohru is already finished with her phone call.

“What did that damn rat Yuki have to say?” Kyou asks, pretending to not be very interested. He used the old nickname out of habit more than any animosity he still had bottled up. With the curse broken, it was somehow easier to let grudges go.

Tohru looks shocked for half a second before deciding not to ask how he knew who she was talking to. Instead, she just updates him about Yuki’s college life and how things are with Machi and how Kakeru calls often to bug him.

“Oh, and he said Hatsuharu was going to come visit us but he got lost on the way to train station and Rin had to track him down,” Tohru adds casually, as if she was merely talking about something as normal as the weather. “Rin promised to bring him to visit during his next school break though.”

Kyou laughs. That seemed pretty typical for Hatsuharu. Either way, it would be nice to have some visitors and also get a chance to spar against someone. He would love the opportunity to gauge how much he’d improved since he’d moved.

He could feel it in his bones. All the little ways he’d started to change and mature.

Kyou had gotten so lost in his thoughts about martial arts training that he didn’t realize Tohru had started giggling at him. “What’s so funny?” he grumbles, wondering what he’d done.

She points to his forehead. “You’ve smeared dirt all over your face.”

His hands automatically fly to his nose and cheeks as if that would help matters instead of making it worse. While his fingers find the grainy specks spread out all over his forehead, Tohru has already grabbed a handkerchief to help.

“I’ll get it,” she says with a kind laugh. “Now we’re even. I got to clean something after all.”

Kyou almost wants to roll his eyes at the cheesiness of her joke, but it’s just endearing when she says it.

After a quick lunch of riceballs he and Tohru made together, Kyou gets back to cleaning. The afternoon goes by in a blur as Kyou checks off everything on his list. He might have said a few choice words when he had to chase half the laundry across the yard once a large gust of wind blew them off the drying line, but seeing Tohru frantically running after them too, he simply laughs as all his annoyance drains away.

“Thank you for doing all this work,” Tohru says, on her knees as she helps him scrub the last bit of the kitchen floor.

“Thanks for helping,” he grumbles, more embarrassed that she’d had to help him after all when she was supposed to be relaxing. But as always, Tohru never seems to truly mind. And if he’s being honest, he likes spending all this extra time with her today, even if it’s just for mundane tasks like housework.

It makes him feel like their relationship is definitely more than just a high school fling.

Tohru looks content as she finishes cleaning the last spot on the kitchen floor and then leans back to a more relaxed position. Kyou can see a few beads of sweat dotting her forehead and neck—he knows he’s a sweatier mess himself—and suddenly he gets a terribly mischievous idea.

While she’s spacing out, he dips his fingers into the bucket of water they’d been using, and then he flicks the water at her.

“Is the roof leaking?” she exclaims with concern, eyes flying open to stare at the ceiling, clearly shocked by the sudden feeling of water on her face.

“No, silly,” Kyou says. “It’s just me.” He decides not to ask why she thought the roof would be leaking on a day when it wasn’t raining.

“Oh. Well. In that case…” Tohru trails off as if she’s considering something very important. But Kyou is pretty sure she’s just trying to figure out if it’s rude for her to splash him with water in return.

Instead of waiting, Kyou just flicks a few more water droplets at her, which is all the motivation Tohru needs to join in. It becomes a full-blown water fight after another minute or two. Kyou feels like he should be annoyed about the mess ruining all their hard work, but he’s having too much fun.

In the end, they both are lying on the kitchen floor, clothes soaked with water while their laughter fills up the entire room.

***

“Are you absolutely certain this is what you want for dinner?” Kyou asks.

“Absolutely!” Tohru chimes back, happily waving her 300 yen ticket for udon in the air before she skips inside the restaurant to find a place to sit.

Kyou doesn’t mind eating at this cheap noodle restaurant where you purchase the ticket for your food from the vending machine out front, but he really had expected Tohru to pick some place nice to eat. He’d told her when they left the house she could pick anywhere and not to worry about the price.

He navigates the crowded restaurant mostly full of businessmen, and then squeezes into his seat beside Tohru with their elbows knocking together. If Uo and Hana could see them right now, they’d probably threaten him for not treating Tohru like a princess or something.

“I would have bought you fancy Kobe beef for dinner tonight, but this is really what you wanted?” Kyou asks.

Tohru smiles.

“I don’t want anything fancy,” she explains. “Simple is better. And really… the food isn’t as important as sharing it together with you is. That’s the best part of any staycation.”

Kyou reaches over to hold her hand, locking fingers together before they’re too busy occupied with the task of eating. “I don’t say this enough,” he begins quietly, “but I really admire the way you view life.”

He can feel his face begin to blush, but he’s past the point of caring about embarrassment anymore. There’s no reason to not be honest about what he thinks and feels.

When the steaming bowls of noodles are finally placed in front of them, they take their time, savoring each bite of food. Tohru looks content, eyes shining bright even as she gets too excited and almost knocks over her glass of water.

Kyou thinks, perhaps, that this might be the best bowl of udon he’s ever had.

***

Even from his spot on the roof, Kyou can hear her humming. The stars are shining bright in the sky, and he’s taking a moment to relax for the last little bit of his day off. Tohru’s humming gets closer and closer until she’s managed to climb up on the roof beside him. It’s just like their days at Shigure’s house.

“Today was wonderful,” Tohru says, looking up at the twinkling stars. “Thanks for helping with the cleaning. And I loved dinner too. It was the best staycation I’ve ever had.”

Kyou chuckles. “It’s the only staycation you’ve ever had, right?”

Laughing, Tohru lightly punches his shoulder.

Tomorrow they’ll go back to their routines of breakfast, work, dinner. Life as usual. But for now, they’re free to enjoy the last few minutes of peacefulness before they go to sleep. Kyou reaches out to hold Tohru’s hand while she leans closer to rest her head on his shoulder.

Kyou hopes—no, he knows—their future holds many more days like this.