Yuki is shocked to realize that he hasn’t really been struggling that much with Tohru’s absence.

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I thought I’d be having a harder time with this, but this chain of events didn’t even get me down. To be honest, I’m a little proud of myself. I may be as weak as ever, but something must be changing. And of course, that’s not all because of me alone. There are a lot of people supporting me. People like Kakeru. And…

I’m proud of you, too, Yuki!  You’ve discovered the wonders of a supportive network of friends (and a not-girlfriend).

When Kimi hears about Tohru’s hospital stay, she (quite understandably) asks about her relationship with Yuki.

Kakeru: She’s his mama.

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Leave it to Manabe to make everything more confusing and awkward.

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But he has a good heart.  Goofy and a little crass, but good.

I’m grateful to have someone who worries about me and supports me. That’s why, even if I am weak, I want to be someone who doesn’t wallow in their weakness. There were times when I wondered how many people would notice if I disappeared in a crowded place like this. But now, I’m a little different.

One thing that’s harder to notice (since it’s so gradual) is how self-aware Yuki’s become.  In the first few volumes, his development typically happened by “hijacking” another character’s growth.  Now he’s starting to branch out and do his share of private reflection – not that it’s bad to learn from or with others, but you can’t be always relying on other people to learn things for you.

Then Machi calls him up out of the blue for a little impromptu gift exchange.

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Actually, I don’t care “how many” people would notice if I disappeared. If just “one person” noticed, that’s all I’d need. Having “one person” is an incredible thing. After all, it’s totally different than “zero.” I was happy then too. I was so happy, it was almost embarrassing. Out of all the people, she found me. Me alone. And now too, someone other than myself is thinking about me. She’s looking for me. That’s not something I’ll ever take for granted.

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Machi actually got him some fertilizer.

Yuki: Thank you. It’s exactly what I wanted…this means a lot to me.

And Yuki got her a Mogeta.

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These two are adorable. And Machi also got a little get-well present for Tohru!

Machi: I wanted to thank Honda-senpai. I know it’s none of my business, and I know I’m butting in, but…I’m just so happy that someone like you exists in this world. So if she’s been protecting you, then I’m grateful. After all, even if you really are weak, like a fawn, I think that’s why you were able to notice someone like me. That’s why you talked to me. You’ve been there for me, President. You have no idea how much that means to me…!

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“I think your weakness and kindness are both invaluable.”

This is why I ultimately found Yuki’s relationship with Machi satisfying: Not only do they recognize one another’s weaknesses, but they would never have connected apart from them.  They know they can be vulnerable together, so they can also be strong together.

Machi: It kind of feels like we’re crying at the edge of the world.

Yuki: Well, shall we go? (internally) Let’s get a little closer to the center. This time, we’ll be together.

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Until next time…

 

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