When he wakes up with her wrapped around him, his brain’s first reaction is to panic.
His body stiffens instantly. His heart rate beats rapidly under his chest, and his vision becomes blurry. Her body is soft, warm, and tiny. There’s something damp below his collarbone and he’s pretty sure it’s her drool. And- Ohgodohgodohgod. He wants to crawl away from her. To peel her off of him, and escape as quick as he can before the worst starts to happen.
He remains motionless as she sleepily rolls away from him, her small back turned toward him, her head still cushioned in his arm. She’s wearing printed pajamas with little blue kitten doodles on them and they’re so ugly because they’re kitten doodles, but they’re also so adorable because of her.
Where did she learn this? To be this close to another person enough that it torments them in so many unimaginable ways? Has she curled up like this to someone else in the past?
Fuck, Kyou chides himself. Closes his eyes. Lets the smell of her hair and her cheap convenience store shampoo and the dust that’s gathered in her head after she helped shishou clean the dojo all day fill his lungs because this has never happened to him before.
And then she lets out a tiny snore.
And that’s when he discovers, in all honest to goodness, that Tohru snores when she sleeps. What the hell. It was goddamn cute. It was also freaking hilarious. And for some reason, it fills him with a wave of affection so gigantic, it shocks him. His lungs constrict and he is absolutely terrified.
She’ll be snoring beside him tomorrow. And the day after that. And all the infinite tomorrows that make up the future he is allowed to spend with her.
He won’t spend an eternity sleeping all alone. She will be there, snoring, drooling, mumbling beside him. Filling the emptiness of his life with her presence just because they’re finally allowed to be together.
“Good morning,” she smiles.
He spent so much time in silent, mindblowing introspection, he didn’t notice she’d already woken up. Her voice is croaky and nasally, nose still running from the random cold she caught a few nights ago after stubbornly running home from work under the July rainstorm even after he told her five times earlier that day not to do anything stupid.
They’re not at the “comfortably kissing each other” stage yet, mostly because hugs from Tohru already cause Kyou to have a mild panic attack for many reasons. And although they’ve kissed at least twice, he doesn’t think he can do it on a daily basis.
Shigure liked to joke that “comfortably kissing each other”, or even the mere idea of “comfortably kissing”, would at some point send Kyou to flatline and although the total number of kisses Kyou has ever had is at par with the total number of Shigure’s brain cells and capacity for empathy combined, the dog is never wrong about his observations.
Even if he spent the whole morning staring at her lips, it would take him an eternity, or maybe a life changing, near-death experience, to gather up the courage to kiss her again.
So he refrains.
“You look like crap,” he teases her softly instead, gently brushing her hair away from her face. Tohru is goddamn beautiful.
She glares at him in an un-Tohru-fashion, yanking her arm away from his grip with all of her strength in the wee hours of the morning—which is not a lot.
When he reaches out to grab her wrist and pull her back, there is a minute of hesitation. Like a grounding, electrifying jolt that warns him quickly of the danger he had always been reminded of around her, and around everyone else. His heart leaps into his throat. His brain diving into panic mode all over again.
It was involuntary. Kyou is not used to being touched by the opposite sex. He remembers the painful, traumatic experience of his human body compressing and constricting itself to a smaller, furrier, not-a-human body. It was weird. It was abnormal. It made him feel like the weirdest, ugliest, most disgusting thing in the face of the earth.
Most of all, it felt like a punishment.
Embracing a girl felt like a crime, the penalty of which was to turn into some disgusting thing in front of her and watch her, and everyone else look disgusted. Cats aren’t disgusting. But humans turning into cats was strange. It was weird. It made him feel less human. And if people found out about it, they would treat him like he wasn’t a human being at all. He knew all too well how that felt.
But before his brain could begin to comprehend what was happening, Tohru turns back, and buries herself deep against his chest, arms wrapping around him in a hug that convinces him she will never let go even if he turns into the worst most disgusting monster imaginable.
In the light of the 6am sunrise spilling through the thin, flower printed curtains of shishou’s dojo, with every part of Tohru’s soft body pressed up against every part of his, Kyou stayed human.
In Tohru’s arms, Kyou felt human.
And then he remembers: he’s finally human again.
“You meanie.” She mumbles into his chest. The feeling is addicting and he wants to keep it for all time.
“Sorry,” he whispers into her hair. His heart is beating rapidly, and he was starting to sweat pretty badly.
“Good morning.” He whispers into her hair, enveloping her head with his arms and pressing her as close to him as he possibly can. “How was your sleep?”
“Best I ever had,” she says into his shirt.
“Why’d you say that?”
“Because I slept beside you.”
They stay like this for a long time – embracing each other as if they were both at their last breath. Because he loves her. Because he’s finally allowed to love her.
Because he finally can.