Like a thawing of winter’s snow, the curse that had befallen generations of the Sohma family was broken. The year after graduating high school led to other, more exciting milestones for Tohru and all of her loved ones. Arisa Uotani and Saki Hanajima anxiously awaited a visit with their best friend, and were eager to jump at a chance to see an unfamiliar city. As they stepped out of the bullet train and onto the concourse, the pair searched through the crowd for their beloved friend.
Saki Hanajima raised her arm, having sensed the girl’s psychic wave pattern, and propelled herself forward in a tackling embrace. Uo was catching up, carrying both sets of luggage, “Hana, no fair!” Tohru was encompassed with love from her friends, as she stood in the center of a group hug. Kyo stood awkwardly aside, waiting for the display to end. “So, Carrot Top, you’ve been good to our Tohru, haven’t you?” Uotani asked, smirking. With a jerk, Kyo idly scratched the back of his head, “Yea, of course, I mean, it’s not like I’m holding her hostage.”
Hana raised an eyebrow at him, “Oh, really? Is that right?” “All right, you two,” Tohru said, holding her hands up in defense. “I hope you can all get along; after all, you’re here to visit with us, right?” Both girls nodded in gentle agreement. “Yes, of course.” Saki held Tohru’s hand. Uo wrapped her arm around Tohru’s shoulders, “Yea, but it’s not a real vacation if I can’t lay into Orange Top here a little bit.” Kyo sighed, reaching out to take the luggage that was now resting by their feet.
“Look, Arisa, Kyo’s taking our bags.” Hana said.
“Wow, you’ve become a real gentleman since high school, haven’t you?” Uo asked.
Kyo started walking to their car, (which he got after learning to drive in the new city), muttering things under his breath as he loaded the bags into the trunk. “I don’t know if I can take a whole week of this.” “Here.” Kyo’s heart rate soared, and he yelped at the sudden voice in his ear. The raven haired girl was holding out an unmarked envelope. “What’s this?” He asked, surprised. Hana smiled, “Arisa and I wanted to thank you properly for your hospitality.” Upon opening the envelope, Kyo saw money was folded neatly inside. “Oh, listen, really, I appreciate it, but Tohru wouldn’t--” At that moment, Uo stepped into the conversation. “Hey, it’s no big deal, Kyon-Kyon. Honestly, don’t worry about it.”
Uncertain, he glanced at Tohru, who was holding the passenger door open and glancing back at him with a smile. “You guys, thank you, but we can’t let her know. I don’t like to worry her over finances.” Kyo decided that it would help with the groceries for feeding two extra people, as well as any fluctuation with additional use of electricity and water. Uo made a locking motion in front of her closed lips. Hanajima nodded, “Thank you for letting us stay with you.” She bowed and the two friends went to situate themselves in the backseat.
“Tohru, come sit with us!” Uo said, gesturing to the middle seat. Kyo shook his head, “Maybe this week won’t be a total disaster after all.”
Yuki was sitting in his university’s courtyard, by a water fountain, where he was waiting for Machi. The past year had been good to them, he thought, as he reminisced about their relationship. Machi was flawed, and openly so, which captured Yuki’s interest. Their childhoods were so achingly similar that he couldn’t imagine anyone ever understanding him in the same ways that she did. A brief memory of Miss Honda flashed in his mind, and he smiled as he remembered how one unsuspecting girl was able to teach him so much about himself, and how to love. Here he was, in love with another woman, he didn’t ever have to be afraid of. What a freedom that was!
He saw Machi as she approached, and watched her face light up at the sight of him. How he loved that! “Did your class get out early?” She asked, still smiling. Yuki nodded, “Just by a couple of minutes though, probably because of mid terms.” He leaned down to kiss her on the lips, and still she blushed. “Are you ready to go get groceries?” She said, taking his hand. “Sure.” Yuki replied, and they headed down the block towards the local store.
“Oh, Tohru, this apartment is so adorable.” Hana said in her quiet, yet excited way.
“Yea, I mean, you need some more pictures, but I can understand not wanting to plaster this guy’s face all over your walls.” Uo said, pointing with her thumb to Kyo who was dragging in the bags from the car. “Hey, if you’re gonna insult me, I can leave your damn stuff on the curb!” He said, annoyed. Tohru giggled, “Actually, we didn’t want to cause too much wall damage since we’re only renting and we don’t plan on staying here long.” Hana patted Tohru’s shoulder, “Of course not.” “Absolutely, that’s so smart,” Uo chimed in, tussling the girl’s brown hair.
Kyo took a deep breath, as he’d been practicing his patience in anticipation of this visit. “All right, well, if you guys are gonna be catching up, I’m just gonna get dinner started.” He announced, heading out of the room. “Let me show you where the guest room is,” Tohru said, leading them into the hallway. There was a futon set up in the middle of a small office space adjacent to the bathroom. A closet had empty hangers, and a few shelves for storage of personal items. “Tohru, this is too much! Thank you.” Hana squeezed her friend. Uo smiled, “Thank you for the cute toiletries, too!” She held up a travel-sized shampoo bottle, “You’re like one of those bread and breakfasts!” The girls laughed, “Arisa,” Hana corrected, “It’s called a bed and breakfast.” The blond raked her fingers through her long mane, “Yea, once I said it, I knew it couldn’t be right.” She laughed even harder.
Downstairs, Kyo was bringing water to a boil to make rice to go with a salmon dish he was preparing. He could hear his love enjoying herself a couple rooms down, and a weight lifted from his chest. “As long as she’s happy,” he whispered, smiling. In his heart, he knew there was nothing more that he needed than for Tohru to be happy, but he always felt guilty for taking her away from the people she cared most about. Even Tohru’s remaining close relative, her grandfather, has been apart from her for a year. Though they didn’t see each other often before, the fact that Kyo was the reason they currently could not ate away at him sometimes.
Snap out of it, Kyo thought to himself. You got her a cell phone just before you made the move out here, so that she could still have constant contact with her friends and family. His conscience eased up a little as he recalled how happy she was; that she even teared up as she made that first phone call to her grandfather. Now, it wasn’t as fancy as some other phones out there, but it was able to text and make phone calls and receive emails, which was already more than Tohru would even need. He put the salmon in the oven and turned off the burner for the water.
Yea, and I’ll be finishing my training out here in a couple of years so we won’t be away from her friends much longer, he reminded himself. He had resolved his negative thoughts, for the time being, and set the timer until when the fish would likely be done cooking. Satisfied, Kyo sat down at the kotatsu, which currently was left unheated due to the springtime weather. He turned on the television, and suddenly a door burst open. “Hey, Kyo-kun,” Tohru said meekly, as her friends stood on either side of her. He shook his head, wondering what shenanigans the yankee and psychic were trying to get away with. “Yea, what is it?” He asked, gritting his teeth.
“Aw, Kyon-Kyon, don’t be like that,” Uo said, hugging her friend from behind. Kyo rolled his eyes, “Damn Yankee, you’re manipulating Tohru into asking me for something I’m probably not gonna like, so I’m gonna have an attitude.” Tohru shook her head, “Actually, it’s not like that, Kyo-kun!” She waved her hands frantically, “I, um, I was going to ask if it’d be okay with you if tomorrow Uo-chan and Hana-chan go shopping with me.” Kyo threw his head back and sighed with relief, “Of course not, why would I have a problem with that?” His tone was milder than before, but still snappy.
“Tohru needs new bras,” Hana said flatly.
Rin was clutching her cell phone, staring at the written message she hadn’t dared to send. Hatsuharu stroked her long hair, “Well, have you sent it?” She shook her head and shoved the screen in his face, so that he could approve of the text. With one swift motion, he pressed the “Send” button. “What?” Rin asked, her face turning crimson. She pulled the phone back into her lap and gaped at the “Message Sent” notification. “Haru, how could you?” She yelled, pushing his bare chest. He took hold of her wrist and brought her hand to his face, where he rested it on his cheek. “You’ve looked so worried lately, I knew it was for the best.”
She threw herself onto the futon in frustration, “Now I’m going to look like the kind of friend who doesn’t stop thinking about you-- or, in this case, Tohru.” He looked at her half-naked form sprawled out on the blanket, “Um, but you are exactly that kind of friend.” Rin whipped a stray pillow at his face, and missed. “You bastard!”