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Tohru Honda is a high school girl living in a tent after her mother's passing. Her grandfather and best friends, Arisa Uotani and Saki Hanajima, love her dearly, but she is determined to take care of herself. She comes into contact with the Sohmas, Yuki, Shigure, and Kyo. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Tohru inadvertently hugs Kyo, transforming him into a cat.
The chapter opens with Tohru leaving her makeshift home (a tent in the woods) in the care of a photograph of her mother. She reveals that her mother, who was her sole caretaker, had passed away sometime in May which is why she is living in a tent in secret.
As she takes time to walk around the woods before heading to school, she stumbles upon a nice looking two story house. While admiring some Chinese Zodiac ornaments left on the patio, Shigure finds her. She notes that he does not have the Cat, which surprises him. Tohru says her mother used to tell her the story of how the Chinese Zodiac was made when she was a child. The panels transition to a memory of a long-haired Kyoko laying beside Tohru as she tells the legend.
The legend goes that God invited all the animals to a fantastic banquet to be hosted the next day. The Rat decided to play a joke on the Cat, telling him that the party was the day after tomorrow. The Rat on the day of the banquet, riding upon the back of the Ox, jumped off and ran into the celebration with everyone following behind him. The Cat, however, did not go as he had been deceived.
A young Tohru cries and tells her mother that she no longer wants her sign to be the Dog and instead would like it to be the sign of the Cat, which a present-day Shigure finds funny. He wonders vaguely how "he" might react to that, but quickly changes the subject when Tohru is confused, instead trying to flirt with her. Another person intervenes, smacking Shigure over the head with a book bag. This person is revealed to be Yuki, much to Tohru's shock, as he is her classmate. Yuki tells Tohru that he and Shigure are cousins.
There is an abrupt cut where Tohru is being questioned by the Prince Yuki Fan Club because she was seen walking with him to school. They harass Tohru, accusing her of thinking highly of herself because Yuki was kind to her, but flee when Uo and Hana come to her rescue.
Tohru recounts her morning to her friends, revealing in her memory that Shigure and Yuki are both surprised when she says that she "lives nearby". Hana talks about Yuki's "strange electric waves" while Uo talks about a rumor that Yuki pushed away a girl who tried to hug him. During this time, it is shown that Tohru is an excellent cook and even has a part-time job she does after school. Tohru's living situation is a secret from even Hana and Uo, with Tohru not wanting to worry them.
As school ends, Tohru meets up with Yuki again, thanking him for walking with her that morning. He apologizes for Shigure, but then goes on to talk about the animals of the Zodiac. He is adamant about the Cat never being included making Tohru ask if he hates cats, something he answers with only a cryptic smile. Before she can question him further, she has to leave for work, but not before Yuki comments that she is looking unwell.
As she works as a janitor in an office building, she remembers her history. Her father died when she was only three and her mother died in a tragic car accident. Tohru's adoption was messy with no one wanting to take her in so she ended up with her grandfather on her father's side. However, sometime later is when she begins to live in the tent, choosing to live independently while her grandfather's house gets renovated to allow his daughter to move in with him instead of troubling Hana, who has a large family already, and Uo, who lives in a one bedroom apartment. She is not upset by this, instead taking it as an opportunity to learn how to live on her own.
The panels transition to later in the night with Yuki and Shigure walking in the woods, complaining about their poor dinner. Shigure talks about needing a woman in the house since neither of them cook or clean and they happen to see Tohru walking in the woods with them. Yuki comments on how it is strange for her to be living so close as none of the land had been rented. Meanwhile, Tohru greets her mother's photo, complaining about tiredness and dizziness, but instead opting to wash up in the stream to wake herself up enough to complete her homework. As she exits her tent, however, she is met by a bewildered Yuki and Shigure, the latter bursting into laughter.
They take her back to their house, explaining that the hill is Sohma property, and Tohru asks to pay rent so that she might continue to stay in her tent. Shigure protests, citing dangers, but Tohru waves them off. However, her sudden burst of energy quickly drains her and Yuki tells her she has a fever. While Shigure is trying to get something to ease Tohru's temperature from within their messy kitchen, he senses a landslide nearby, that is revealed to have swallowed up Tohru's tent. She becomes more hysterical, but is soothed by Shigure and coaxed back to the house to rest.
As Tohru is resting, she tells Shigure why she is so determined to work so hard. Her mother insisted on her finishing school since she never got the chance to. She also says that she did not tell her mother to "be safe" before she left, blaming herself and regretting not being able to get the chance to tell her before the accident. She drifts asleep and Yuki comments on how much he admires her, saying that he wishes he was able to do things independently like Tohru. He asks Shigure to watch over Tohru since he will be going out to retrieve her things. When Shigure offers to go with him so he is not "alone", Yuki mysteriously reveals hundreds of rats behind him in the kitchen, saying the will not be.
The next morning, Yuki arrives with Tohru's belongings, though he refuses to tell her how he did it on his own. Instead, he asks her to stay with them, with Shigure adding the stipulation that she cook and clean for them as payment. She begrudgingly accepts after much objection. Privately, Shigure worries about a girl living in the same house as them, but Yuki says it will not be a problem so long as they do not get hugged by her.
When Yuki is showing Tohru her new room, a red-haired boy comes bursting through the ceiling, ready to fight with Yuki. Tohru, in trying to intervene, trips and accidentally embraces the boy. Shigure asks Yuki if it is Kyo, but both of them are shocked at the sight before them. As Tohru is frantically apologizing, she suddenly realizes she is holding an orange cat in her hands. The narration continues on about the Cat of the Zodiac and how he was angry at the Rat, continuing to chase after him.
- Tohru Honda
- Shigure Sohma
- Yuki Sohma
- Prince Yuki Fan Club
- Arisa Uotani
- Saki Hanajima
- Kyoko Honda
- Tohru's Grandfather
- Kyo Sohma
- Premiered in the July 1998 issue of Hana to Yume.
- Has the one-shot manga strip "Shigure's fault..." preceding it. This strip takes place before Tohru shows up in the story, showing how messy the house is. Yuki considers cleaning up, but, despite being considered to be "like a handsome prince", he is actually quite lazy. Instead, he opts to add more trash to the growing pile.
- Has the one-shot manga strip "This is where your charm is (maybe)." after it. This strip takes place after it is revealed that Kyo will be attending the same school as Yuki and Tohru. Kyo complains about this, but Yuki asks him why he did not just fail the entrance exam to prevent it. Kyo has no answer, instead asking himself why he did not think of that.