Placed in the same class in their high school, Yuki and Tohru don't really have any significant interaction until Tohru moves onto Shigure's land and happens upon their residence. From the beginning, Tohru's impression of him is that he's so charming that he flusters her. Yuki, on the other hand, has little impression of her until she starts living with him and finds out about the curse, his only significant memory of her being their first when he gave her the cap.

Their relationship is, at both a surface and deeper level, incredibly positive and beneficial. Yuki is charming and kind and protective, calls her princess, is basically the most amazing guy ever, helps her with whatever schoolwork she struggles with, and Tohru provides the emotional support he always wanted. After she reveals some of her pain and struggle over her mother's death to him, he remarks that he never would have noticed because Tohru was always so happy at school. He's impressed because Tohru's so tough for not showing and pain, and for striking out on her own through sheer force of will - something that he always wanted to do, to get away from the Sohma family, but was unable to.

Later, as the news of Tohru trickles back to Akito and various members of the zodiac start visiting, including Hatori, resident memory-eraser, Yuki reveals to Tohru that they may have to erase her memory because she knows about the curse. She's very gracious about the whole ordeal, knowing that she stumbled on a major family secret, but at the same time, asks Yuki to continue being her friend even if her memory is erased. A groundbreaking moment for Yuki indeed as he had always believed, thanks to Akito, that no one would want to be close to him because of the curse, and yet here was someone asking him to be friends, knowing his biggest secret. Tohru recognizes that Yuki's got a lot of problems locked up, and from the very beginning, offers to lend an ear. This unconditional acceptance was something entirely new to him, and ultimately his salvation.

Yuki quickly becomes very protective, attached, and attentive towards her, much like Kyo. He plants strawberries in his garden (his "secret base") because he thought she would enjoy them. One time, Tohru leaves their residence to live with her grandfather again, but ends up returning once Yuki and Kyo fetch her. In this incident, Shigure remarks that it was the first time he'd ever seen Yuki so excited (agitated?), and Yuki's a little embarrassed to admit anything, but we all know that he and Kyo both became incredibly moody when she left. That first year she lives with them, they decide to stay with her on New Year's, breaking the Sohma tradition, much to Akito's rage. Later, at Hatsuharu's suggestion, Tohru, who had previously addressed Yuki exclusively as "Sohma-kun," finally calls him by his first name, upon which Yuki explodes in red-faced embarrassment and transforms into a rat. (He, on the other hand, doesn't make the change and calls her "Honda-san.")

Tohru's presence softens a lot of hard edges in Yuki's life - not only does her care for him help to absolve his self-esteem issues, but his relationship with Kyo becomes less intense and she even helps a little to patch up the relationship between him and Ayame. Yuki knows how important she is in his life, considering how much she'd helped him (sometimes unknowingly) in just a few months, but the most defining point in their relationship doesn't come until Tohru discovers Kyo's true form and runs out in pouring rain to reach out to him. It is at this time that Yuki truly realizes what Tohru means to him, and is at first a little repulsed by what he's discovered, sealing it "under a lid." He finds her to tell her a little of what he's feeling, and how he's changed because of her. Tohru never really seems to be aware of exactly what she's doing or why Yuki's telling her all this, but seems to appreciate his words all the same and envisions him as a great person in the future.

Yuki ~ Chapter 35 Honda-san. I ... I can tie my necktie faster than I used to. And I can somehow button my shirt better. And my vegetables don't die as often. And I think ... I'm more comfortable talking to people now. I know these are just little things ... but by doing them, I think I'm getting close to trying the things I couldn't stand before. Even if it's just a little bit at a time ... it's helping me to work through my issues. (Maybe I'll be able to open the lid I've closed so tightly without being swallowed up) ... But I still have a long way to go. I've worried you. I'm sorry. ... I'm still so pathetic. There's still a lot that I'm not ready to tell you, Honda-san. But ... I will. Little by little. (I'll gain the courage to tell you.) And this summer ... I think I'll go out more.

Yuki, going out more?!?! Stop the presses! This alone is a great marker of Tohru's effect on him, because he would have been reluctant to do so before. As their time progresses, Yuki does go out more. He gets more involved with the student council. Thanks to Tohru, he healed in a way that he once would never have even dreamed.

Yuki ~ Chapter 59 Thank you for always listening to me. Thank you for always accepting my weakness ... You don't know, do you? It was always me who was being saved. (You always shared your kindness, your warmth, your happiness ... sparing nothing. You continue to shower me with them.) That's why I won't lose. I'll keep going forward. I can go on believing. I'm sure of it.

At this point, Yuki's been able to come more to terms with his feelings for Tohru, and realized them clearly through a nasty meeting with Akito. Though he doesn't say anything outright and can't because the intensity of his feelings are too great, he kisses her on the forehead, much to her surprise. To himself, he realizes that he loves her (as Tokyopop's English translation says) - in Japanese, he says "君が愛しいから" (kimi ga itoshii kara), which basically means that she is very precious to him. Later, he discusses the incident with her, saying he won't apologize for it, though she could forget it if she wanted to. Tohru knows it must be something very important to him - how could she forget it? She continues to encourage and support him, through his struggles with his own family and in resolving to help break the curse.

Eventually, it finally comes out to us readers (and Manabe) how Yuki feels about Tohru: he sees her as a mother figure in his life. Never having truly known parental love thanks to a less-than-awesome relationship with his own biological mother, Tohru provided him with all that he had wanted. She listened to him unconditionally without judging him, but also acknolwedged his weakness. "Like a sleeping child. Going to bed filled with kindness and yet still showered with unconditional love. There was a place where I could surrender my mind and body. A place where I could give up and act like a little boy." He found the love he'd been missing in Tohru, even though she was a girl that he could have been attracted to. He saw it in her as she ran after Kyo the night he transformed.

Yuki ~ Chapter 86 I panicked. When I realized I was thinking of her that way, I got confused. Very confused, actually. The whole thing was embarrassing, and I didn't want to admit to it. I pretended not to realize. At first, anyway. I put a lid on my feelings. I told myself it wasn't like that. I tried to talk to her like boys do to girls. But I was wrong. That's not the way it is with us.

And thus the Yuki/Tohru ship sank just like the Titanic. Yuki reveals that while he's immensely grateful for Tohru's presence in his life, he really only sees her as a mother and not as a potential girlfriend who has a mothering nature. He sees that sort of romantic relationship between Kyo and Tohru, but as for himself, wants something different and steps out of that potential competition. In recognizing how much Tohru has given him, he believes that he hasn't given her anything in return. He wants someone on his own level who needs him just as much as he needs her, and Tohru gave him the strength that he'll need to find that person - his "proof" that he's alive, that he has a reason to live and a purpose.

Tohru throws a lifeline to Yuki in his great need. She reels him back to a ship of safety, but that final climb back into that boat is his own responsibility. Without her, though, Yuki would still be drowning in the open sea. And he could not be more thankful. She gave him the strength he needed to overcome his own issues and to reach out to others.

Yuki ~ Chapter 86 The person dear to me. The person I so admired ... she gave me exactly what I needed. She's precious to me. I want you to be happy. You more than anyone. I'm sure, one day, you can find your own proof. You'll do it in your own way. That place where we can sulk or get angry if we need to. One day. And when that day comes, I should be able to tell you. I’ll confess how I feel ... and finally, truly thank you.

Castles In Air is a fanwork © Chrissy 2012 - 2016. No infringement intended.