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Won't You Be My Neighbor?

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To be fair, Yuki and Kyo Sohma didn't plan on living on the same street. Kyo had chosen his house because it was close to the dojo, and had a spare bedroom he was able to convert into a workout space and stop annoying neighbors who thought that he had picked up being a stuntman in his spare time, and Yuki had chosen his for the garden. It was a small house on a decent size lot, and he preferred spending his time outside anyway, so when he found a house with a large enough garden space he didn't think twice. His days of illegally setting up hydroponic gardens in the basement of his apartment building were over, and if it meant living on the same street as Kyo... well, we all have our crosses to bear. 

Although the "cousins" - no one was entirely sure how closely they were related, just that they were - were civil with each other, no one could say they were close. When they did run into each other, once they got through the usual mundane small talk, they could both agree and disagree on exactly one thing each - they agreed that having one house between theirs was a saving grace ("I couldn't live next to you and your blaring alarm clock if you paid me," was always met with "Yeah, well at least my place is clean. Whoever moves in next to you will be dead within the week from the smell alone, you rat.") and they always disagreed on who had actually bought their house first, and therefore had the right to lord it over the other one. 

The few neighbors that ever saw their encounters on the sidewalk could agree that although they were the same age and really should be better friends, they were as different as oil and water. Those same neighbors would shake their heads and whisper sadly that whoever moved in between those two boys was surely in for an interesting neighborly experience. And the day that Tohru Honda moved in, not a few of them looked at her with pity and bewilderment - there was no way this girl would survive, and surely she would be renting out that house to someone else within the year. How was this small girl, they thought, who was so peaceful and unassuming, going to survive living between those two? 

The moving truck was small - so small that when Yuki looked out his front window, he assumed it would be followed by a larger truck. Surely that wasn't everything his new neighbor had as far as housewares, was it? It was followed by two small cars that appeared to have boxes in the backseat, and he took a slow sip of his coffee as he observed from his kitchen window. So far, no one had exited any of the vehicles, and Yuki imagined the kind of person or family that might move in next door to him. Maybe it was an older lady, someone who he imagined taught piano or violin lessons. For a brief moment he imagined a family with a small child, but winced at the thought of toys accidentally being thrown over the fence and ruining his plants, and immediately dismissed the idea when he realized there wasn't enough stuff for three people, even between the van and both vehicles. A recently divorced woman starting over maybe, or a young man who had done something like he had and set out, determined to prove that he could live on his own. They weren't close enough to the university to get college students, usually, so a partier was an unlikely option...

Before his imagination could carry him any further, a young man with dark hair got out of the truck and waved at the two vehicles behind him. The first car held a girl with long brown hair who appeared to be chattering on excitedly, and the second car contained a woman with dark hair - she appeared related to the man in the truck - and a tall blonde who gave off distinct Do Not Fuck With Me At All Costs vibes. Who among this cast of unusual characters would be his new neighbor? Yuki wasn't sure, and he also couldn't decide who he would want to live next to out of all of them. 

Two houses over, Kyo was participating in his own observation of the motorcade and it's inhabitants, a towel around his neck and water dripping from his hair, narrowly missing his mug of tea that he was nursing. The fact that he was getting a new neighbor wasn't a problem - people in general tended to avoid him (something he chalked up to always looking mad, and Yuki blamed on his noxious personality, that asshole). Still, he couldn't help but watch and wonder who among these people he would be living next to for the foreseeable future before he reminded himself that it didn't matter and besides, it wasn't like he actually cared. 

In a synchronicity that would have alarmed them if they were aware, they both settled on one conclusion - As long as they don't have any pets, it doesn't matter who moves in there. 

"Is it too late to ask you to reconsider?" Arisa asked wistfully. With a small stack of boxes in her arms, she couldn't hug her friend, but would have loved to wrap Tohru in a bear hug and convince her that this wasn't necessary to move out of the house they had shared for five months now. 

Suitcase in one hand and a grocery bag of miscellaneous things in the other, Tohru smiled sweetly up at her friend. "Of course it is, silly! I already bought the house, and besides, I would just get underfoot now that Saki isn't traveling for work and you two are getting settled. It's not like I've never lived on my own before, you know-"

The blonde laughed. "The tent doesn't count, you goofball. Besides, you know we love having you."

"You can always stay with me, Tohru."

The soft voice came from behind the pair, and Tohru turned around to see Megumi Hanajima looking at her with dark, thoughtful eyes. She had always adored Saki's little brother, and although he was living on his own, she knew that the offer wasn't serious. It couldn't be - there was hardly enough room for him in that apartment, and they would be tripping over each other within minutes if she accepted his offer.

"Oh Megumi," she crooned. "I would love to, but your apartment wouldn't fit the two of us! I was already sleeping on the living room floor with my futon at Arisa and Saki's, there's no way I could stay with you. Where would I sleep? Besides - like I told Arisa. I already bought the place. And since I have a spare bedroom here, you know any of you are welcome to stay with me. Just... maybe not all at once?"

Whatever answer he may have given was lost as Tohru turned to look up at the house that she now owned - well, the bank mostly owned, but was still hers. Behind her, Arisa and Saki exchanged glances, their silent conversation about what they had just observed lost on the brunette standing further up the front walk. 

The quartet made their way to the front door and opened it, stepping into the small entryway and stopped. Even empty, the house simply seemed as though it was made for Tohru. The kitchen could be seen from where they were standing, a window above the sink looking into the picturesque yard, a hallway and stairs off to one side, and a large open living area just beyond the genkan, which had a low bench and a row of hooks. In the corner of the living space was a small pile of cleaning supplies, mop, and broom - evidence that Tohru had been here recently. 

"Alright," Tohru said brightly. "I've already cleaned the living area, so we should just put everything here. I'll move the boxes around once I have a chance to clean everything else. There's no sense in filling up a room before I can dust it! As much as I love bunnies, the dust variety just aren't as nice as the fuzzy kind."

The cars were unloaded first, bags of items that were too oddly shaped to go in boxes, a bag of shoes, her bathroom necessities and a few other odds and ends piled in one corner, and small boxes from the trunks of the vehicles in another. Then the moving truck was unloaded, her bedroll (still rolled up tightly) piled in a corner on top of a box containing a small dresser that still needed to be assembled, the rolling kitchen island cart she had bought as a splurge in another box, waiting to be put together and used, followed her favorite cushions from her grandfather and the low kotatsu table with heater and blanket. 

The bulk of what Tohru owned was meant for the kitchen. She had collected various appliances over the years, as well as gadgets, tea cups, recipe books, and general miscellaneous doo-dads. Arisa had reassured her that of course she could take all of her kitchen things (Arisa was the proud owner of a rice cooker and a toaster oven. For the last five months they had used Tohru's appliances and gadgets.) and that she would survive just fine without them - it was an excuse for her and Saki to go shopping anyway. 

Four trips later, the group was still unloading boxes meant for the kitchen when Yuki finally left the house to brave the outside world for the day. The bus line that he took to work each day was on the corner just past Kyo's house, and although he wanted to avoid social interaction before he was awake enough for it (even though it was 9 in the morning, the point where even the sleepiest of people managed civil interactions with other human beings), he managed to nearly run into Megumi as he was carrying a box of plates, which caused Tohru to bump into him, her arms full of her standing mixer with little jars of spices held in the bowl. 

Luckily, the only casualty to the incident was Yuki's cup of coffee, which he stared at despondently as it lay on the ground in front of him. It didn't matter if it was his first cup (it wasn't) or his fifth (it was), coffee was still his lifeblood and the lack of it made him grimace. 

"I'm so sorry!" Tohru said frantically. "This isn't at all how I wanted to introduce myself to my neighbors. Are you okay? Can I get you something? Megumi, where are the towels? I owe you a coffee..."

"It's alright," he answered soothingly. "I do have to be going though, so perhaps a rain check?"

Yuki kept walking and shook his head slightly, wondering at what kind of disaster had moved in next door. 

"I'm Tohru!" she called after him. "Nice to meet you!"

Yuki waved over his shoulder without stopping, still heading to catch his bus.