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Curled and Closing

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Kyo straightens, pressing his hands against his spine, and the small pops of it cracking echo off the walls of the empty classroom. He has a headache, dull but persistent, and he knows he didn’t clean the classroom as well as he could have because of it, but he doesn’t really care. Tohru usually stays with him when it’s his turn to clean, but she had a shift scheduled right after school that day, so there’s not much incentive for Kyo to be that thorough. If Yuki wants to bitch at him for it later, fine. It’s not like he doesn’t have to deal with Yuki’s bitching about everything else anyway.

He gathers the mop and cleaning supplies and puts them back in the storage closet, heading out of the classroom without a second glance. It’s going to rain; he can feel it. His left temple throbs in time with his steps down the empty hall, and the diffused gray light coming in through the windows only serves for him to hurry even more. 

Soft laughter floating down the hall stops Kyo’s hurried shuffle. It’s late, but not that late—lots of clubs are still in session, so the voice itself isn’t what stops Kyo. What stops him is that it’s coming out of the student council room. And that the laughter sounds like it belongs to Yuki. 

Kyo’s not sure he’s ever heard Yuki laugh before. 

He doesn’t mean to peek, but the council room door is partially open, and he’s standing right in front of it now. Kyo leans forward a little, edging his vision around the doorframe.

Yuki is leaning against the conference table facing the door, but his eyes are on the vice president—Manabe? Kyo thinks that’s his name, anyway—who is standing in front of him. Well, not in front of him, exactly. He’s standing practically between Yuki’s parted legs, one hand pressed against the table, caging Yuki in, the other obscured from Kyo’s view by his torso. 

“We’re at school,” Yuki’s saying, but a smile quirks at the corner of his mouth. 

“So? Everyone’s gone,” Manabe retorts, before leaning in and—

Kyo’s seen some pretty weird shit in his life. Of course he has, all things considered. But never did he think he’d see something like this, Yuki’s pale fingers threading through dark hair, Manabe’s hand drifting from the table to Yuki’s waist, Yuki’s lips moving against Manabe’s.

Kyo makes a small noise of shock. He can’t help it. Yuki jerks away from Manabe at that, and his eyes go wide, then even wider, when he spots Kyo in the doorway.

“Sorry,” Kyo blurts before rushing off down the hall. 

Kyo’s face is burning. He doesn’t know why he’s so embarrassed; it’s not like he’s the one who got caught making out at school by his rival, but it’s just. 

It’s weird. It’s fucking weird. Kyo doesn’t like thinking about Yuki like that. Like a person who has a life and friends and relationships of his own outside of where Kyo can see them. 

He’s just the rat. He’s the dirty rat who mocks and belittles him every day, whose praises are sung by the family, the obstacle standing between Kyo and the clan’s acceptance. 

Kyo’s feet are barely in his outdoor shoes before he’s rushing out the door of the school. His embarrassment has morphed into anger, the image of Yuki’s smile and his small intake of breath the moment before Manabe closed the gap between them fueling it. He squeezes his eyes shut and he can feel the hair on the back of his neck standing on end in agitation. Yuki gets to do whatever he wants, and Kyo—

Fuck. He wants to punch something so bad. He wants his knuckles to be bruised and throbbing so he won’t think of Yuki’s clean white ones standing out starkly against Manabe’s hair.

“Hey,” calls a voice from behind Kyo. Yuki’s. Kyo’s fingernails dig half-moons into his palms. “Kyo!”

Yuki catches up to Kyo, a little out of breath. Kyo doesn’t look at him. 

“Going home?” Yuki asks.

Kyo gives a tight nod. 

“Me too.”

They walk in silence, the only sounds between them their shoes slapping on the damp pavement and the distant clack-clack of a train. Yuki keeps throwing furtive glances Kyo’s way, his lips parting and closing over and over again. He’s fidgeting too, fingers plucking at the cuff of his uniform sleeve, and he’s holding his eyebrows unnaturally straight over his clouded eyes. Kyo’s never seen Yuki like this before, and he hates it. 

“Kyo,” Yuki finally says. His voice is soft, like he’s trying to lure a stubborn pet from out under the fridge. “Can we talk about what just happened?”

“What’s there to talk about?” Kyo grumbles.

“It’s just that,” Yuki starts, then stops. Swallows. “We haven’t told anyone. And if Akito finds out, I am so—”

“I’m not gonna snitch,” Kyo growls. “What kind of person do you think I am?”

“Right.” Yuki nods a little, but his expression is starting to contort with anxiety. “Okay.”

Somehow the tension between them is even worse now. Kyo’s head pounds; his thoughts are swirling. Yuki doesn’t have the right to be acting so weird about this. Yuki, privileged Yuki, who is apparently willing to cozy up with another boy to circumvent the curse, gets to date freely without fucking up someone else’s life. The thought of him getting to have normal dating experiences without the threat of confinement looming over his head makes Kyo sick. His stomach roils. All he wants is to be curled up on his futon and far away from Yuki. Instead, they walk together in silence, Yuki’s eyes still flitting up to Kyo’s face. 

“Kyo,” Yuki says.

“What?” Kyo spits. 

“Aren’t you tired of doing this?” Yuki asks. There’s a small waver in his voice that makes Kyo want to punch his lights out. 

“Listen, rat,” Kyo forces out, gruff. “I don’t give a shit if you’re messing around with Manabe.”

“That’s not what I’m talking about,” Yuki says, his words taking on an icy sheen that Kyo is all too familiar with. It’s almost a relief that Kyo’s pissed him off enough for him to start acting like himself again. “I meant. Us. This. Aren’t you exhausted?” 

Kyo stops walking, and so does Yuki. Kyo’s hands are starting to shake and his teeth are grinding together, but he breathes, five seconds in and five seconds out, like Shishou taught him. He’s too old to be picking fights with Yuki, especially out on the street.

“The fuck are you talking about?” He says, finally.

“This!” Yuki cries. “The way you’re acting now! Can’t we just talk like normal people?”

“We’re not normal people,” Kyo snaps. He starts walking again, faster this time, and Yuki follows him towards the entrance of the shortcut through the woods. They’re not too far now—only a few minutes before he can slam his bedroom door in Yuki’s face and sulk until dinner. 

“Well we could at least try to be,” Yuki says, a little breathless from trying to keep up with Kyo. “At least for Miss Honda’s sake—”

“Don’t you dare bring her into this,” Kyo growls. “She has nothing to do with—us.”

“She wants us to get along,” Yuki insists. 

“I don’t give a shit!” Kyo yells. “It’s not about her.” 

“Do it for yourself, then! I don’t care, I’m just—” Yuki jogs a little to get in front of Kyo, stopping him in his tracks. “I’m tired, Kyo. I’m tired of spending my energy fighting with you. I never wanted this—none of us did.”

“Do it for myself?” Kyo sneers. “What is this? I catch you making out with your boyfriend, and now all of a sudden you wanna be friends?”

“Not—” Yuki sighs. “Things are changing, Kyo. Can’t you feel it?”

“No,” Kyo says. Reflex.

“Have you considered there’s more to life than just the Sohmas?” Yuki snaps, real anger seeping into his voice.

Kyo’s body goes cold. “For you, maybe.”

Yuki gapes at him. Kyo swallows the knot in his throat and moves past Yuki, their shoulders bumping as they do. 

“I didn’t mean—” Yuki starts.

“Shut up!” Kyo whirls around to face him, heat exploding behind his cheeks, every muscle in his shoulders tensed and ready to release. “Just shut the fuck up. Don’t fucking talk to me about this shit anymore.”

“Okay.”

“I’m not interested in being your friend. I’m only near you because I have to be,” Kyo continues. “You’re a piece of shit and you always will be. Just go play house with your boyfriend and leave me the fuck alone.” 

Yuki’s face is turned away from Kyo now, his hands balled into fists at his side. Kyo can tell he’s upset—he’s spent enough time around Yuki by now to be able to read his mood—but he doesn’t give a shit. Whatever pain Kyo just inflicted on him, he deserves.

“Okay,” Yuki says again, softer this time. “I’ll leave you alone, then.”

“Finally,” Kyo spits. Bile sears the back of his throat as he turns away and rushes down the path without Yuki. He feels like a caged animal, like he wants to throw himself against a hard surface, like he wants to run far, far away from here. The image of Yuki’s fingers curling neatly into his palm as Kyo screamed at him plays on repeat in his mind, the bamboo shoots around him too monotonous to distract him from it. 

He forcefully slides open the door to the house, but quickly realizes that he can’t be here right now. It smells like home, like the life Yuki takes for granted because it won’t be ripped away from him. Images superimpose themselves onto the house—here, in the genkan, where Tohru tripped and dropped a whole tub of ice cream, making a sticky mess that the two of them cleaned up together; in the living room, where Kyo had had a weirdly candid conversation with Hanajima about how she’s unsure of her future after high school; in the hall, where Shishou had pulled Kyo into a hug for no reason at all, his kimono smelling of incense and peat.

A knot forms in Kyo’s throat. His jaw aches with how hard he’s clenching his teeth.

He leaves his school bag in the genkan, turns around, and runs.