Chapter 18

Kyomi slowly walked across the parking lot to her car. She had finished a day of teaching music classes at her preschool and had a massive headache. She got in her car and laid her bag in the seat next to her. She rubbed her temples and laid her head against the back of the seat.

"No more drums and triangles for a few weeks…" She swore to herself. She stayed like this for a minute, soothing her head with the quiet warmth of her car. The passenger door next to her opened and a something landed in the seat next to her. She opened her eyes to a yelp as her brother landed on the slide whistle in her bag. She tried to glare at him, but only started laughing at the red blossoming on his cheeks.

"What are you doing in my car anyway?" She asked as her laughter finally died away.

"I saw you here and I decided to hide." He said shortly.

"Hide from who?" Kyomi asked. Just then, she heard the person he was hiding from call his name. She started the car and pulled out of the parking lot before Kagura noticed where they were.

"That girl is sweet, but she's a little nuts too." Kyomi said to her brother.

"I don't know about sweet, but she's definitely crazy." Kyo said as he settled into the seat next to her.

"Luc is spending the night with Mine so I'll run you over to Shigure's." Kyomi said driving in that direction.

"Sure, thanks. Tohru is visiting her grandpa so she will be late." He said staring out the window.

"Ah, I'll swing by the store and pick up some things for dinner then, so she won't have to." Kyomi said, turning on the next street to redirect herself. They were almost there when Kyo sat up straight in his seat.

"Ane! Stop and let me out!" He said urgently.

"What's wrong?" Kyomi asked as she pulled over. She had barely managed to stop the car when he bounded out and she saw what had caught his attention. She watched her little brother kneel in front of the girl she was pretty sure he was in love with. Kyomi just sat and watched their interactions with a slight smile on her face. Kyo waved her on when they were both back on their feet and they walked on towards home. Kyomi swung by and grabbed a few things for a simple American dinner since that was all she knew how to make. She still got to Shigure's home before any of the rest of the school teens.

She didn't even knock when she came in knowing Shi wouldn't mind even if he did tease her.

"Mi-chan! To what do we owe this honor?" Shigure said as he walked around the corner. He spotted the bags in her hand and took them from her so she could finish taking off the boots she wore to school. She had worn flats before, but dancing and running around with preschoolers had made her lose her shoes to often as well as get mulch lodged in her toes so her riding boots, leggings, and a short dress were her school attire these days.

"Moving in?" Shigure asked her as she set her boots near the step. She glared at his bespectacled face over her own glasses.

"I'm making you all dinner so you're welcome." She stopped right in front of him and tilted her head to the side inspecting his face. She took his face in her hands and moved it side to side.

"You look good with glasses, Shi. I'd never seen you in them before." Kyomi said before realizing what she was doing. She blushed furiously and grabbed the bags back from him before hurrying into the kitchen. Shigure stood frozen in the hallway. His cheeks were still warm from where she had grabbed him, and his cheeks were turning pink as well.

In the kitchen, Kyomi was mentally haranguing herself a little, but also very confused as to why she was reacting the way she was. They'd been very close like that before and had never had that reaction. It was just Shigure after all. She heard him go back into his office and pull the door. She thought she had closed it so she turned on some music to cook to. Ed Sheeran was the first artist that came up on her app as she pulled out the speaker she used at school and connected them. Nancy Mulligan came on first and she smiled at the Irish jig feel of the song. She had to stop herself from trying to remember the dances her grandmother had taught her as a child.

She pulled out the rotisserie chicken and started separating meat from the bones. She put the bones in a stock pot and the meat in a bowl to the side. Somewhere in there the song had moved on and she barely paid attention as she worked. She was making two things at once; a chicken buffalo mac and cheese and a chicken bone stock with some roughly chopped carrots, celery, and onion for some extra flavor. Tohru could use that for whatever she wanted, and the mac and cheese would be good for tonight. She had just started whisking the roux to thicken the cheese sauce when Castle on the Hill came on. She sang a harmony that was in her range and honestly was just more comfortable to sing than the melody as she whisked. The water for the pasta was heating, the stock was already simmering so all she needed to think about now was making sure the flour in the roux didn't clump. She had forgotten Shigure was in his room.

He was sitting in his room at his desk. Listening to his childhood friend cook and sing was doing odd things to him. He was starting to think he could get used to this. He had begun noticing his old friend in a different way ever since the beach. He wasn't sure what to think of it, but he knew it certainly wasn't in his plans. It was also making him blush at the most inopportune times. Ayame had noticed when he had stopped by to check on Yuki after their beach trip. Ayame had taken on a serious big brother tone with him and told him to treat Kyomi well. Hatori had done almost the same except he had told Shigure to not be stupid and to not hurt Kyomi. That had been easier to joke away than Ayame's comments.

Running into Akito's room and seeing Akito attacking Kyomi who was laying on the floor unconscious, had broken something in Shigure. He had thought nothing would change his feelings for Akito, but now it felt like they had just snapped. He heard Kyomi singing quietly through the crack in his door.

Found my heart and broke it here
Made friends and lost them through the years
And I've not seen the roaring fields in so long
I know I've grown, but I can't wait to go home

I'm on my way
Driving at 90 down those country lanes
Singing to Tiny Dancer
And I miss the way you make me feel, and it's real
When we watched the sunset over the castle on the hill

"Shi, I'm making tea, you want any?" Kyomi had remembered her friend and had realized his door was open. She was standing in his doorway, Tohru's apron on, dish towel in hand drying her hands. The emerald green of her dress contrasted so well with the red tinge in her hair and on her cheeks from embarrassment and standing over the hot stove. She had also pulled her long hair into a loose side braid to keep it out of her face.

"Sure, I'd love some. I'm not accomplishing anything here though, so I'll come out there if you keep singing." Shigure had stood as he spoke and was right in front of her by the end so he was clearly able to see the blush rush back across her face. He poked her cheek with a finger. Kyomi blushed even redder, swatted his hand away and spun around to go back to the kitchen. She whacked him in the chest with her braid as she went.

He followed her chuckling. "You know most women your age cut their hair short, not use them as weapons." He quipped at her as he sat at the table.

"You should know by now I'm not most women Shigure Sohma." She said as she sat the tray with the tea down on the table and plopped herself down with a huff next to him. She poured them cups and leaned her elbows on the table. "Besides, who do I have to impress with my hair styles? Luc likes playing with my braids and I like my hair long so that's the way it's going to stay." She said taking a sip of her tea.

"I didn't say it needed changed. And what do you mean you have no one to impress?" Shigure asked curious.

Kyomi shrugged. "Just what I said. It's not like I have men tripping over themselves to try to date a widow with a young child. Besides, I'm not looking for casual dating or just sex. I can't do that to my son or my own heart." She said staring at her mug.

"You've already lost more than most people do in their whole lifetimes. Caution is advisable. Just don't discount someone just because you are afraid. Love requires courage." Shigure said taking out his cigarettes and lighter.

"I thought you had quit that habit." Kyomi said eyeing him out of the corner of her eye.

"I mostly have. I just save it for special occasions now." He said and paused. "And also, for when Luc isn't here." He admitted.

Kyomi smiled at her friend. "That's very thoughtful of you. Thank you." Kyomi studied the man next to her. "You have grown up, haven't you?" She asked with a soft smile on her face.

Shigure was about to respond when they heard the front door open and Kyo and Tohru come in. Kyomi blushed and wondered why she felt like a teenager being caught alone with a boy by her parents. She got up quickly to go check on dinner. Shigure just watched her go as the two teens went to go change out of their school clothes after convincing Kyomi to stay the night.

Kyomi came downstairs after everyone had gone to bed. She hadn't been able to fall asleep so she brought her school papers down. She needed to plan the next few weeks and make a few revisions to her curriculum. Her students this year were a little more advanced than last years so she was moving more quickly through her planned activities. She needed to come up with a few ways to stretch each activity out so she could get them singing the songs more. The more they sing, the more comfortable and confident they will be.

"Damn, I really need my piano for this." She whispered to herself. She was learning a few Japanese folk songs to add to her lessons. It's important to know the music of your home and since she hadn't learned any, she was trying to make up for that now. Music has a way of connecting people and speaking what's in your heart that words alone can not convey. Kyomi found the piano app on her phone, so she was able to plink out the melody at least to familiarize herself with it. She put her phone down to continue writing and she hit a button turning her music back on. She shrugged and turned the volume down so it wouldn't be too loud and continued her work. She froze however when she heard the song that was playing. She had been singing it softly and suddenly found she couldn't. Her throat had closed up. Only one face was appearing in her minds eye. One that was very dear to her and she was now realizing just how dear she considered him.

"'Cause we were just kids when we fell in love
Not knowing what it was
I will not give you up this time
But darling, just kiss me slow, your heart is all I own
And in your eyes, you're holding mine"

Kyomi's thoughts were flying everywhere. The words of the song hit her like a ton of bricks and the truth of them rung in her mind like a bell. Really? Shi? Why Shi? She thought back over their times together and the ease of their banter always struck her as siblings, but she realized there was more to it than that. They were always able to see more into the other person than anyone else, even Hatori and Ayame. He had always had a special place in her heart. She remembered when she had first remembered the first sixteen years of her life and how it didn't seem real to her until Shigure had shown up. He had accepted her back with less hesitation than even Ayame and Ayame had spent more time around her to that point.

"Kyo is going to kill me…" Kyomi whispered to herself.

"Why is Kyo going to... oof!" She heard the words whispered directly into her ear and she flung herself backwards in surprise. She collided with a solid chest that vanished as soon as she realized what it was. The human was replaced by soft black dog who narrowly avoided Kyomi's falling form. Kyomi landed on a pile of clothes that smelled comfortingly familiar and found herself looking up into the laughing eyes of a dog.

"Do you make it a habit to throw yourself at every dog that you meet?" Shigure asked her laughingly.

Kyomi blushed heavily, grateful she was just working by a soft lamp so it wouldn't be as noticeable. She swatted at his head which he easily avoided.

"You know it doesn't matter if its night or day, I can see you blush just as easily either way, right?" Shigure laughed aloud this time as her blush deepened. "What are you doing up at this hour?" He asked her. She was still lying on the floor, her hands covering her face so she could regain a semblance of composure.

"I couldn't sleep so I was working on my curriculum and lesson plans." She said finally removing her hands to see the same eyes staring down at her. Their eyes locked and Shigure asked quietly, "Made any progress?"

"I have actually. More than I bargained for…" Shigure was pressing his black nose to hers, their eyes hadn't strayed. Suddenly a poof sounded, and human eyes locked once again and human noses were touching. This time both sets of cheeks got very red and Kyomi scrambled up off Shigure's clothes so he could change. He grabbed them and escaped to his room to redress.

Kyomi sat at the table, her hands covering her cheeks slightly in shock. She had barely been able to make out the intense red on her best friend's face before he turned away from her. She was trying to figure out the significance of that when he opened the door and returned. She hadn't moved from her position and just stared at him. Kyomi decided they had always been ale to talk to each other about everything before so why should this be any different?

"I've never seen you blush so much before. What's going on?" Kyomi asked sounding both confident and a little confused.

Shigure sighed and sat down next to her and put his face in his hands. "I don't know. I feel like I'm in elementary school mooning after you again…" He said.

Kyomi couldn't believe he was being this honest with her. "I didn't actually expect that honest of an answer…" She said staring at him.

"Why would I lie to you? I never have before so of course I'm not going to start now." He glared at her for a minute before his gaze softened into a slight smile. "I think you are the only person who I can say that about."

Kyomi made a face at him and rolled her eyes, "I'm not sure that's something you should be telling me…" She couldn't help but laugh a little at him though. "I have to say though, I've never doubted your honesty with me. Other people, yes, constantly. But I've only ever wondered whether you were telling me all of the story, never if the story itself was false." She said with wonder in her voice, just realizing the truth of what she was saying. She steeled herself for the next question she had to ask him. "Are you in love with Akito?"

Silence stretched as Shigure was first shocked, but then Kyomi saw his eyes harden and steel glint through them. She started to stand up because she didn't think she wanted to know the answer now, "Never mind, you don't have to answer…" She was cut off by Shigure grabbing her wrist and pulling her down right next to him. He turned her face to look at him with his other hand. "I thought I did. But ever since I saw what she did to you…" the hardness was back in his eyes, "My carefully laid plans are all for naught now." He sighed as he gazed at her.

She was sure her intense curiosity was showing on her face, but he didn't respond to it. He only kissed her forehead lightly and pulled them both to standing. "Leave your books here til morning, it's time you get some rest." And he directed her to the stairs. As she walked up, she glared back at him over her shoulder.

"I will get you to explain it all to me eventually you know."

"You always do. I just need to figure out for myself what it is I actually need to explain to you." He said as she continued up the stairs.

"Just don't take too long." She commented as she disappeared over the top.

Shigure turned back towards his own room. "I don't intend to my dear. I'm just as curious as you."

Maybe I've been watching too much shoujo recently? Is that even a thing? Either way, let me know what you think of these most recent developments! I had thought this would go another way, but now I just don't see it working out that way. Oh well! We will see what happens next! I have a cold this weekend so homebound me might end up writing more in the next day or so. Time will tell!