The story of the Chinese Zodiac is fairly well known, as legends go. If you desire a detailed telling of the tale, you have only to seek it, so there is no real reason for me to recount it in its entirety. Suffice it to say that one day the mouse, for reasons known only to himself, tricked the cat into missing his chance to become part of the zodiac. The result is easily predicted: the mouse and the cat, at one time close friends, became bitter enemies.

There are many versions of this legend, passed down throughout the years. However, there is a second part to the tale that is never told. The story of how the cat finally regained his pride, found acceptance and love, and reconciled with the mouse is impossible to find. There is a very good reason for this.

This part of the tale has not happened yet.

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Cheshire Grin
A Fruits Basket Fanfic by Shay Caron
Fruits Basket and all characters therein belong to Natsuki Takaya

Warning: this story contains spoilers for the entire 26-episode run of the Fruits Basket anime and will incorporate plot elements from the Fruits Basket manga.

Chapter 1: The Light of Realization

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Consciousness. It wasn't as great as people made it sound. Kyo was occasionally knocked out after a defeat at Yuki's hands, and he pretty much preferred being out to waking up and realizing he'd lost once again. It was the embarrassment and frustration associated with loss that he minded, not the pain. After being beaten so often, pain was no longer much of a concern. Kyo was certain he was getting over-dramatic, but he couldn't make himself care.

Finally managing to open his eyes, he saw a sight that was familiar to him after all his fights with the rat: the ceiling. It was either the ceiling or the sky, usually, except that one time that his head had ended up buried in the dirt. He mentally took stock of his injuries. Nothing broken. Yuki never really tried to do any serious damage -- not that he could, Kyo hurried to reassure himself. Just bruises and a few cuts from colliding with a rock. 'And there's something tight around my leg.' Kyo pushed himself into a sitting position.

Tohru knelt next to him, brow furrowed, wrapping a length of gauze around a cut on his left calf. "Ah! Kyo-kun is awake!" she exclaimed. "You were asleep for a long time. I was worried about you."

Kyo couldn't help but be pleased that she'd worried over him, despite the sharp comments from the cynical part of his mind: 'Yeah, she'd be as worried about anybody else. Probably more.' 'Shut up,' he told himself. Out loud he said, "What time is it?"

"Almost 11 PM." Indeed, through the window, he could see that the sky was black and dotted with starlight.

"Great." Kyo shifted a bit. "You done with that bandage yet?"

"Not yet. You got a bad scrape when --" She stopped and turned away.

Kyo scowled. He wasn't in a good mood anyway, or he wouldn't have said it. "Go ahead and finish your sentence. 'When Yuki-kun kicked your butt,' right?"

"Oh, no!" Tohru hastened to reassure him. "I thought you did very well today --"

"Just forget it."

"Hai."

For a time, silence followed, and Kyo found himself ruminating on Tohru's attempt to restore his confidence. 'I wonder how you feel about our fights... Do you wince when I get hit by his spin kick? Do you cheer him on when he slides past my fist?' Before he noticed, he was speaking aloud. "Who do you root for?"

"What?" Tohru looked up from her careful bandaging with an adorably perplexed expression.

"When me an' the rat are fightin'. Which one of us do you wanna win?"

Tohru stared disbelievingly at him as if he'd asked her what color panties she was wearing. (Of course, such a question was probably more up Shigure's alley anyway.) "Kyo-kun! How could I take sides between two of my best friends? I don't want you or Yuki-kun to get hurt!"

Kyo rolled his eyes. Yeah, he could've seen that one coming. Ah, well --

"But... If you did win once... I'd be happy for you."

'Did she just...' Kyo stared at her shy smile for a moment before shaking himself out of the daze. "Thanks. That... That means a lot." He rewarded her with a rare smile of his own. The moment lasted until he scoffed and added, "At the rate I'm goin', it'll be a hundred years before I win. But I will win, someday." He clenched a fist to emphasize his point. "I'll beat that damned rat."

Tohru sighed as she tied the last bit of the bandage in place. "There. Sometimes I wish you wouldn't get so angry at Yuki-kun. Oh!" she gasped. "I'm sorry! It's not my business what --"

Kyo poked her in the side to stop her. "Hey, cut it out. Remember what I told ya? If ya wanna say somethin', then say it."

"Ah, hai."

"But it's not like that's gonna happen, 'course. I mean, if I wasn't angry at Yuki --" Kyo stopped in the middle of his sentence as he actually considered the idea. 'Hold on a minute. If I wasn't angry at Yuki...'

"Kyo-kun? Are you alright?"

'If I wasn't angry at Yuki... I'd fight better. I'd be able to pay attention to him. I wouldn't jump into the fight and get my butt kicked! I could win!'

"Kyo-kun? Eep!" Kyo abruptly wrapped his arms around Tohru's shoulders. Blood rushed to her face as she felt his warm body next to hers for the briefest of moments...

POOF Clothing dropped to the floor around the now-feline Kyo. "Tohru, you're a genius!" he enthused, with what could only be called a catty grin on his face. "I think I know what I gotta do! See you tomorrow!" The orange cat promptly bounded up the stairs to his bedroom.

"Ara?" Shigure leaned in from the kitchen. "Tohru-kun, whatever is the matter?" Tohru knelt frozen in front of Kyo's shirt and pants, still blushing hotly.

At the end of the hall, Yuki turned and calmly stepped outside, nothing whatsoever in his demeanor betraying his anger.

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It took the rest of the night and most of the morning to make sure he had everything figured out. The plan was surprisingly simple. Kyo had to get control of his temper. A difficult task, true, but he'd spent years training in martial arts with Kazuma. This would be a cakewalk in comparison. He'd keep working until he was certain Yuki couldn't make him mad any more, then he would issue his challenge. "And WIN!"

On the other side of the table, Shigure and Tohru stared at Kyo. He realized he'd said that last bit out loud. Bright red, he sat back down and turned to stare at the wall, chewing absently on his breakfast.

Yuki stepped into the room. "Morning," he mumbled. Kyo looked at him and felt -- nothing. Not the usual flare of fury when he so much as breathed. No resentment over his constant smugness or jealousy at his skills. Kyo was actually staying calm! Hah! It was going to be a breeze.

Kyo waved and said, "Mornin', Yuki." Tohru smiled at that, while Shigure looked quizzical.

"What's wrong with you, stupid cat?"

"What did you call me?!"

Leap. Wham.

Breeze? Scratch that. It was going to be a hurricane.

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Cheshire Grin, Chapter 1
1/14/2003 -- Completed
11/10/2003 -- Edited slightly