The Forgotten Zodiac: Chapter 5

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The two approached the house at a leisurely pace, Kyo's hand hovering near Lyra, being withdrawn, then returning to its place near her. After another moment's hesitation, his hand returned to his side, simply watching Lyra slowly following him.

"Oh my, Kyo! Bringing a woman home? And during school hours, no less!" Lyra looked up, meeting the eyes of a black haired man standing on the front porch of the house. "Such a lovely one, at that!" He smiled, a pen pressed firmly against his lips.

"It's not what you think," Kyo replied crossly. He watched the sobbing mess behind him wipe her eyes once more with her mud-covered hands.

"Oh, then maybe I-"

"No way," Kyo cut him off, slapping the palm of his hand against his forehead roughly. "What's wrong with you?"

"I kid, of course!" The man replied, moving the pen further away from his lips, "but perhaps you'd like to introduce us?"

"My name's Lyra," Lyra spoke from next to Kyo. Looking back, he saw that the flow of tears had almost completely stopped, but the streaks of mud across the underside of her eyes gave her away.

"Hello... Lyra," the man spoke gently, giving Kyo a suspicious glance while Lyra wiped her eyes. "I'm Shigure," Shigure held his hand out, but awkwardly withdrew it when he noticed that Lyra wasn't paying attention.

"Yeah, yeah, you know who she is now so beat it," Lyra looked from Kyo to Shigure. Shigure's seemed incredibly amused, but Kyo looked mildly annoyed.

"Do you live here?" Lyra inquired, suddenly conscious of her muddied clothing and face.

"Why yes I do," he smiled. He stared directly into Lyra's crystal blue eyes as he spoke.

"Coming in?" Kyo asked loudly, his voice no longer next to Lyra, but up on the porch.

"When did you..." Without waiting for Lyra to follow, Kyo opened the door and stepped in, leaving the door wide open behind him.

"Boy, he is just a bundle of sunshine, isn't he?" Shigure sighed, running a hand through his hair and giving Lyra a gentle smile. "Come on in, I'll get some tea started."

"That sounds great," Lyra murmured. She wiped her hands off on her skirt and followed Shigure into the house, instantly being greeted by the scent of lemons. After gently kicking off her shoes and stepping into the hallway, she felt her feet slipping on the surprisingly clean flooring.

"What kind of tea would you like?" Shigure inquired from the kitchen, hearing Lyra stumbling through the halls trying to find him.

"Uh, green tea if you have it," she called back. A door shut from upstairs and Kyo slowly descended the stairs, nearly whacking his head of the doorway when he looked to Lyra.

"Actually that seems to be the only type we have!" Shigure chuckled, filling the kettle with water and placing it on the stove, a soft hiss coming from it after a moment of warming.

"The bathrooms at the end of the hall," Kyo walked past Lyra, the smell of freshly washed clothing tickling Lyra's nostrils. "Get washed up," he ordered, side-stepping into the kitchen without waiting for Lyra to respond.

"Bossy little... ugh," Lyra sighed. Angrily following Kyo's orders, she stomped to the bathroom, carefully opening the door to avoid getting mud on it. Turning to face the sink, she let the water run until it was steaming and splashed it on her face, ignoring the burning sensation and rubbing at the mud.

"Hey," Kyo cleared his throat. In his hand were a fresh set of clothes, "put these on, they're clean...er."

"Holy cow, could you make noise when you move?" Lyra sighed, peeling a piece of mud from her cheek and shivering. "Are those women's clothes?"

"Just put them on," Kyo shoved his hands outward, turning around and leaving when Lyra took them from him. "You talk too much," he muttered crossly, turning into the kitchen as the kettle began hissing furiously.

"Infuriating," Lyra smiled to herself, rubbing the water from her face with a dark blue tower. "He is absolutely infuriating."

 -

After changing, she followed the voices of Shigure and Kyo into the dinning room, finding the two of them sitting at the kotatsu. Kyo's legs were crossed with his hands on his knees, ignoring Lyra's entrance, while Shigure smiled politely and gave the pillow next to him a pat.

"So, it seems we have a bit of time to talk before the others get home," Shigure sipped his tea, giving Lyra a narrow glance as she sat down.

"What animal are you?" Kyo piped up from across Lyra, slapping his hands on the table.

"Kyo, please," Shigure scolded, shaking his head, "You really shouldn't just ask that..."

"Oh come on, like you weren't dying to know," Kyo watched Shigure shift uncomfortably, avoiding looking over to Lyra.

"I'm the fox," Lyra spoke, staring down at her cup of tea and giving it a gentle shake to stir it up. "I'm the zodiac that was... 'lost to time', so to speak."

"How is that possible?" Kyo's elbow hit the table loudly, his chin settling into the palm of his hand curiously.

"The snake kept it from the world, and God," Lyra sneered, her hand tightening around the cups' handle. "Let the bastard do it," she looked up, meeting Kyo's eyes. "The cat is the only one that could... relate to how I am."

"How is that?" Shigure asked, giving Kyo a quickly glance, silently praying he wouldn't just blurt out that he was the cat.

"My grandmother was the fox Zodiac before me," Lyra's hand tightened around her replacement shirt, the distinct outline beads pushing against the fabric. "Right before she passed, she touched my mother's stomach and whispered 'I'm so sorry'. I was born less than a week after she passed, two months premature, as the new fox Zodiac." Lyra's voice quivered, but she drew in a deep breath in order to continue, "when a new zodiac is born, God visits to insure that the family knows their place in his kingdom, but I was the first fox to be visited."

"Akito..." Kyo mumbled, looking over to Shigure, then back to Lyra, who was still looking angrily into her tea.

"He told my mom 'this fox will suffer for your insolence', and wrapped this necklace around my neck." She wiped away the tear sneaking its way out her eye, placing her hand on the table and giving the cup a quick tap. "When I take it off I turn into..." Lyra's hand moved back to her face, shading her eyes and holding back an angry sob.

"... A monster?" Kyo completed, holding his hand outward and revealing his black and white bracelet, his eyes connecting with Lyra's and something deep within him lurching.

"How about more tea?" Shigure broke the connection, "Kyo, come." He ordered, giving Lyra a quick smile before standing and exiting the room, Kyo following him hesitantly into the kitchen.

"What was that about?" Kyo snapped, reaching for Shigure's shoulder, but missing when Shigure spun around to face him.

"You know what Akito will do if you get close to his girl." Shigure warned, keeping his voice low. "You can't endanger her like that-"

"She's already in danger," Kyo hissed, motioning towards the dining room angrily. "She-" They both stopped as the sound of the front door shutting rang through the house. "Lyra?" Kyo called, getting no response. "Hey-" He poked his head into the dining room, her cup, still filled to the brim, sitting on the table, but Lyra was nowhere to be seen.

"Maybe it's for the best," Shigure comforted, leaning against the doorway and watching Kyo struggle to decide whether or not to go after her.

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