For his part, Kyo wasn’t planning on staring at a perfectly domestic Tohru, whirring away in the kitchen right after his run. For one, he’d made the mistake of going out in the afternoon, the sun out at its highest peak, and the blistering humidity was none too kind. Second, and most important, he wasn’t sure how to behave around Tohru. And that realization was a painful first. Instinctively, he wanted to spend every moment with her and that was nothing new. But another part of him wanted to kiss her until she was breathless and that part was not only new but horrifying. How was it that his curse had broken but he felt shackled by his own selfish desires?
But having her back at home, humming blissfully to herself was an image he’d never take for granted again. He loved her most like this, enraptured by her task, amidst a tornado of sickly sweet aromas that were incomparable to her own scent, the bit between her eyebrows furrowed signifying absolute concentration, her tongue tentatively darting out as she turned her wooden spoon just so. Kyo knew he could watch her like this for an eternity.
Eventually, perhaps feeling the phantom weight of his gaze, Tohru lifted her head to face the entrance of the kitchen where Kyo stood.
“Ah, Kyo-kun!” She smiled brilliantly, wiping her hands on her taupe apron, “How was your run?”
“It did the job,” He murmured absently, far to preoccupied with the sudden need to hold her. He pushed himself off the wall and walked lethargically over to where she stood. As he peered over her shoulder, he was met with the sight of nearly two dozen or so cupcakes covering the kitchen counter--several piping tips and icing bags, strawberries, every shade of pink humanly possible and an assortment of sprinkles that made his teeth ache.
She continued to hum quietly, appearing to be unperturbed by him leering over her shoulder. At least, he felt like he was leering. She seemed wholly focused on delicately balancing the icing bag with utmost concentration.
“You outdid yourself. One little girl can’t eat all these cupcakes,” Kyo declared.
Tohru snapped her head around, mouth gaping in shock, “How’d you know Kyo-kun? You really are a mind reader.”
He rolled his eyes affectionately. “Who else would eat strawberry, pink frosted cupcakes? Other than you, of course.”
Tohru giggled softly, a warm smile growing wider on her face, “Lots of people, Kyo-kun. Like Momiji-kun. Shigure-san. Yuki-kun but I know he prefers chocolate. Oh! Hatsuharu-kun I’m not too sure about--”
There really was no stopping her when she was single-mindedly determined to finish a thought so Kyo let her carry on as she dutifully ticked off her fingers, thinking of every friend or acquaintance-- Sohma or not.
He decided to get comfortable by leaning his back against the counter, getting a better view of her face. Her hair was tied into a messy bun, the fan of her sooty lashes hypnotising and her left cheek was adorably blemished by vanilla icing.
“Her birthday is coming up, right?” He finally clarified, raising an expectant eyebrow.
Tohru nodded enthusiastically. “I hope Kisa-chan likes it. She deserves more and…and turning thirteen is a big deal.”
It was times like these that Kyo felt the full weight of his duty to forever protect Tohru’s heart, even if he was sharing it with practically every person she’d ever met.
“Don’t worry. She’ll love anything you make.”
Her shoulders tensed and the reaction had Kyo baffled. Awkward as he was, his words were meant to be comforting.
Finally, with her cheeks dusted pink and her eyebrows furrowed: “Kyo-kun...you s-say that like it’s the truest thing in the world.”
“ ‘cause I mean it.”
Tohru stared pointedly at the bowl ahead of her, her lips shifting into a tiny smile and replied “I know. You always mean what you say.”
And as the silence stretched on Kyo was viscerally aware that Tohru had come to a Very Important realization and Kyo was chillingly awashed with the reality that he was too much of a dumbass to figure out what. Kyo stubbornly ignored his aching elbows leaning against the laminate counters, helplessly staring at her to find some clue. Out of all the mushy parts of love Kyo had to bear, this was certainly his least favourite.
In a clumsy attempt to ward off the unbearable awkwardness, Kyo surreptitiously stuck his finger in the bowl to his right, and deftly reached toward Tohru’s face. His forefinger was millimetres away from her quickly reddening cheeks, her eyes dancing everywhere but his offending finger. He wondered briefly if she ever felt the burning when he got close. The uncomfortable warmth that was a touch too hot to ignore. She eventually settled with staring at her fists, which were currently gripping the bottom of her apron like a life-line. She thinks I’m going to kiss her again.
Tentatively, with a sigh, he let his finger touch the apple of her left cheek. He would much rather cup her face, fully drink her all in--the ever-present sugar, detergent (or was it fabric softener?) and softness. But he would wait. Had to wait.
He had to be sure that what he felt, the sticky hot heat, wasn’t just anticipation.
I need to be---
“Now your cheeks match,” He murmured in a rush. She stared back at him, open-mouthed and both cheeks marred by dollops of vanilla icing. Eyes fixed ahead, just above her shoulder with a cursory view of the kitchen window, he let regret sink into his stomach and engulf his face.
Absently, he stuck his finger into his mouth, sucking the leftover vanilla with a wet pop. And then he heard it, the quietest of whimpers. He instinctively looked down and was met with Tohru’s widened eyes and face inflamed so impressively that her array of strawberries would be put to shame.
“I don’t know what the hell’s gotten into me,” He whispered hotly, “I’m sorr--
“Wait!” Tohru interrupted emphatically.
He steeled himself, frozen stiff at Tohru’s expression. She was breathing heavily, face still flushed and apron still fisted in her quickly whitening hands. She had that frantic look in her eye that meant cogs were whirring. It was clear Tohru was thinking. Hard.
After what felt like an eternity, she took two steps forward at a pace that would put Haru to shame and dunked both index fingers into the thoroughly assaulted icing bowl. She turned to him, fingers held up like pistols. He swallowed the urge to hold his hands up in surrender. It was the most menacing he’d seen Tohru. I’ll be in more shit if I laugh.
She walked towards him painfully slow, her bottom lip sufficiently gnawed by the time he could breathe her scent in again. She was far too close, a hair-breadth away. That new, incessant urge to constantly touch her echoed mercilessly in Kyo’s head.
Letting out a shaky breath, she reached forward, closer, closer and the teeniest part of Kyo believed that it was finally happening, that the waiting was finally over. By this point Kyo fully succumbed to the dominating thoughts in his mind, thoughts of painfully waiting for permission to hold her, touch her, kiss and that even though his feelings were miraculously reciprocated that didn’t mean she felt the same way about everything.
Twin, mildly cold sticky sensations on his cheeks jolted Kyo from his wallowing.
“N-now we match,” Tohru announced, her voice shaking with a new fragility that made him wonder.
He looked down at her, drinking in her triumphant beam and the comforting mahagony of her eyes. The look on her face was all the permission he needed in the world. He let his arms faintly touch her sides, his fingers feeling the rough denim of her shirt-dress just underneath the apron and let the magnetic pull lead the way, forward and forward until their chests lightly bumped and he could feel the thrumming of her heart. It dawned on her a beat or two later he was holding onto her waist, a shy giggle escaping her lips. The electric current between them was dizzying.
“Dork,” He breathed, unable to fight the slow grin taking over. She just always knew exactly what to do to make him feel better, to ward off the storm in his head and he hoped, shit he hoped she’d never tire of it.
“Please stay, Kyo-kun.” Her words had a lulling effect as he buried his nose in her hair. Fabric softener. His only reply was gripping her harder, nuzzling deeper into her warmth.