Word count : 1 604 words
Status : One-shot, complete.
Rating : G.
Genre : General
Characters : Kou Reishin, Li chibi!Kouyuu
Warnings : None. Just inspired by something Shuuei said whilst riding in the woods in one of the later episodes of Season 1.
Summary : Your parent is your best teacher. Even when he happens to be Kou Reishin.
"Kou-dono. A messenger is here to see you."
Kou Reishin's brush stilled in mid-air, he recognized the young man standing at the entrance of his chamber as one of his postilions; he was not expecting any visit from any of the Kou household staff members, what business could the subordinate of his master horseman possibly have here, at the palace?
"Pardon the sudden intrusion, Your Excellency-" the young lad was all red-faced and short of breath, having obviously been exerting himself- "I was told to come get you quickly-"
Reishin blinked lazily. "Well, whatever it is, it must be important. You forget you cannot breathe and talk at the same time."
The rider's blood chilled. It was his first time conversing directly with the Master of the House ever. He'd better say what he had come to say quickly before he had time to think, in other words imagine what Kou Reishin's reaction would be like. Not that it would make it any less frightening.
"So what is it, boy?"
"I have been sent here from the riding grounds," he almost stammered in a rush. His lightning-speed ride to the palace was filled with images of unspeakable horror and trepidation, so much for practicing his speech on the way. "There has been a-an accident, with Kouyuu-bocchama-"
Reishin slowly put the brush drown.
"An accident." He echoed.
The rider was using a word which should never, ever be used concurrently with his ten-year-old son's name.
Today was the second day of the week. Kouyuu would be having his riding lessons right about now-
Did the lad not say riding grounds?
"What sort of an accident?" He snapped.
"If you could just come with me, Your Excellency-" Reishin needed not be told twice. He knew he probably had to explain to Ro Kanri later as to why he had had to abandon his tasks at the office so abruptly, but this he had to see to.
Just as they reached the Kou residence, from the window of his carriage, Reishin caught the sight of his stable master who was also the Kou family's master horseman alight from his horse at the gates. With the unmistakable form of his son slumped in his arms.
Reishin stormed across the grounds, and a young steward rushed forward to lead the mare away. He got close just in time to hear the horseman bark an order at the steward to get a physician ready and waiting in the Young Master's chamber.
"What in the world happened, Moroie?" He growled.
Kouyuu appeared conscious, but his eyes were dim and unfocused, his clothes mussed and torn in places, his face streaked with dirt. He was holding his left arm at a weird angle, and a closer look ascertained what he had caught sight of the first time around; there was a visible concave indentation where his shoulder joint was supposed to be.
Reishin felt his face burn. "I was not told he was this badly hurt."
Moroie shook his head in distress. "I was teaching Kouyuu-bocchama to gallop, and whilst showing him how to bridge the reins-"
"Later. Have a doctor see to that arm. Don't just stand there, bring him inside!"
Kou Reishin was not angry. Certainly not, when he had to stand outside his son's room because he could not bear to listen to Kouyuu scream one more time. He wondered if he had the right to behead the physician after he was done reducing the badly dislocated joint.
Kouyuu's lady-in-waiting chose that moment to walk out with a sick basin in her arms. Unconsciously, he gritted his teeth. The pain must be terrible if Kouyuu was still vomiting.
"Give me one good reason why I should not fire you right here and now," the purr had surreptitiously, yet surely thinned into an icy hiss.
Kou Reishin was not angry.
Yet he found his blood boiling when the man failed to find his tongue quick enough.
"Speak before I geld all your precious colts!" Which were all technically his, but there was nothing like threatening a man's livelihood to cower him into subservience.
"There is none, Danna-sama." Moroie had his head to the ground. Kou Reishin's words of wrath were not known to leave room for any contestation. "The gelding Kouyuu-bocchama was riding spooked into the path of a rabbit, and it tossed the young master onto the ground when it reared."
"When I enlisted your help as his riding tutor-" Reishin fought to keep his tone level. "I specifically instructed you to keep an eye on him at all times, did I not?"
"I have been a broncobuster for years, and yet my competence has failed in choosing the right horse that matches Kouyuu-bocchama's skills-"
"He has no skills!!! That's why I trusted him with you! What did you use on him, a rabid stallion???" Reishin hollered.
The stable master dared neither move nor speak, let alone raise his head.
"I, your humble servant, begs forgiveness," Moroie whispered. "Danna-sama."
Reishin curled his fist into a ball. He stared at the back of his horseman's head for a long, long time.
He had spent a good two months debating whether to keep Kouyuu locked in the safety of the archives forever, or to start teaching Kouyuu the ways of the Kou, (he was not even considering the art of sword-fighting, definitely not going there) but the son of a nobleman should at least know how to ride. And now this.
A rap of the fan against a flexed palm a tense ten minutes later signaled the end of Reishin's outburst, at least for now.
"Be thankful he did not break his neck. It has just saved yours," Reishin hissed.
"Yes, Danna-sama," the horseman whispered.
Really. No one seemed to be reliable enough to do anything these days. "Now be gone. Before I change my mind."
After a long, deep bow, the horseman took his leave, overwhelmed with relief that his head was not to be separated from his body anytime soon.
Reishin stifled a derisive snort with his fan. Everyone around him proved useless time and time again. How hard could it be to teach a boy how to ride a bloody horse? Surely there was a way that did not involve breaking any bones! What amateurs.
Guess it was up to him to do all the work, as always, Reishin cursed as he walked off in a huff in the direction of the archives.
Kouyuu hugged the blanket to his chest with his good hand, trying not to cry again. He had already cried once in front of the good doctor.
But the pain in his shoulder was so bad…
Tears welled up in his eyes.
He had been so excited when Reishin-sama told him to learn horse-riding. He had been trying so hard too…and was progressing much faster than any beginner would. Moroie-san told him that himself.
The thought of riding alongside Reishin-sama…
He pressed the heel of his good hand against his eyes to suppress the stinging hotness.
Now he had gone off and done an absolutely stupid thing. He had fallen and dislocated his arm.
There was no way Reishin-sama would ever let him on a horse again.
Startled, he squeaked a gasp, and blinked. His blurry vision cleared just enough to make out a tall, imposing figure standing at the door.
His adoptive father was looking at him strangely, his forehead contorted in a thousand fine creases, making him appear almost thoughtful.
"Were you crying, boy?"
Kouyuu's eyes widened. In panic, he sniffed and swallowed multiple times to get rid of all the salt clogging the back of his nose and throat. He turned his head slightly to the side so Reishin-sama would not see him blink away the dust, frantic.
"No," he answered sullenly.
Strange. Isn't Reishin-sama supposed to be at work right now?
Reishin resisted the urge to curl his lips lest he wanted Kouyuu to mistake it for a smile. But it was amusing, this situation.
The way Kouyuu was holding onto his injured arm raised a sense of alarm in him, however. He wanted terribly to ask if it was hurting, but decided against it.
Of course it was. Reishin knew exactly how painful it was. He would not ask questions he already knew the answer to.
What he really wanted to know…was how badly the accident had spooked Kouyuu; coping with the injury was one thing, recovering the mental strength after such an accident was totally independent of the body's physiological healing process.
Like Kouyuu he had fallen many times. Of course, he was not going to tell him that.
And obviously since he was the only one capable of doing it, considering how he was surrounded by idiots who could not even domesticate a pony…
He took a seat by his son's bed. The boy immediately tensed under the covers.
Perhaps if Reishin made it sound simple enough…
"Kouyuu, sometimes horses spook at things…" Reishin started, his mind already racing as he tried to recall all the lessons the previous Horse Master of his clan had taught him back in the days when he was a child, as well as what little he managed to look up in the library just now.
Kouyuu would get back on the horse again, just like he did, on his own-
"-when a horse is afraid of something, it really only has two choices: to run, or to freeze," he said slowly. "Do you understand me so far?"
And never fall again.
The boy gave a small nod, his expression one of awe and rapture.
That, he promised.
Glossary: Bocchama – Young Master
Danna-sama (旦那さま) – Master of the House
AN: There endeth my muse. ; Hope you've enjoyed it even if just a little.