Disclaimer: Fruits Basket belongs to Natsuki Tatsuya and Kodansha and a whole slew of other people who are unfortunately not me. This is a nonprofit fanwork.
Author's Notes: A side story for "Colour of Kyou." This was originally part of "Colour of Kyou," but it made the whole thing too unwieldy so I cut it and made this incident a standalone.
"An excess of movement," I said calmly, watching him, "is a waste."
He stopped mid-kick, lowered his leg, turned, and scowled at me. "Sorry, Shisho."
He had cheek all right. I studied those eyes for a moment set in that familiar face. Rebellious brown eyes framed by that fall of silver hair. I wondered if the attitude was Haru's or his true father's? Maybe a bit of both.
"Let's see how Kochi fares, all right, Kousetsu?"
He scowled but nodded obediently. The obedience he got from his mother. Even if he, himself, did not know it.
The older boy stepped onto the mat, bowed formally to me, then went through the series of moves. I watched him with a critical eye. His form was perfect, but there was something missing in him that was present in over-abundance in the younger boy.
That deep-seated love of the martial arts that I had felt at his age, that I still carried locked tightly within me.
"Watch him closely, Kousetsu," I murmured in a low voice, my eyes still on Kochi. "Learn all you can from him. And one day you will surpass him."
He nodded, his eyes also fixed on Kochi's movements. I knew he was already memorizing the exact form of each move. He was quick-witted if ill-tempered. And no matter how aloof he tried to be, the other children teased him and played with him good-naturedly, because he did, after all, belong.
And I knew he was grateful for that. For belonging in a household that shouldn't have even been his own, but who had taken him in with no reservations and loved him as best they could.
I wondered if he would ever learn the truth that we had all kept so carefully from him?
My heart ached.
He should have been my son.
I should have been the one to raise him, not Hatsuharu. I should have been the one standing by Tohru's side watching him grow up. I should have been his father, not a man who was nothing more than a shattered fragment of his previous self. A man who didn't even know he had a son.
Damn you, Yuki.
Can't you open your eyes enough to see all the precious things in your life? Enough to be grateful for everything you've gained in place of everything you've lost?
Kochi finished and bowed properly. I bowed back.
Kousetsu turned to me in a flurry of excitement. "I can do it someday, can't I, Shisho? I can be better than that!"
"Oi," Kochi said, frowning. "Don't get ahead of yourself!"
Kousetsu stubbornly refused to acknowledge his older "brother." "Can't I, Shisho??"
"Practice your movements again," I told him calmly. I nodded at the older boy. "You too, Kochi. Demonstrations are over. The other students need the space to practice. Belt tests are coming up."
"Yes!" they chimed, turning to take their respective positions amongst the group of children.
Kousetsu was watching me.
I knew what he was thinking without bothering to look in his direction to confirm it. Yes, belt tests were coming up. And if you were good enough, you would advance.
It's a challenge, Kousetsu.
Across the length of the dojo he straightened, then bowed precisely in my direction, and I knew he understood the unspoken words, even as I would have understood them at his age.
Again, that dull ache. Did it never end? You should have been my son.
All I can do is guide you now. Please succeed where we have failed.
You can surpass your rivals. You, unmarked, if not untouched by the curse, can become something that we could not.
Endeavour, won't you?