Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters presented here and am not making any profit off of this whatsoever.
Title: Unplanned Lesson
Rated: G
Word Count: 2,130
Focus: Professor Cobra, Martin Kanou
Notes: This takes place between episodes 107 and 108. The transfer students and Professor Cobra have been at Duel Academia for two weeks, and the school term itself has been going on for three weeks. Comments and criticism gratefully accepted.
Summary: As Cobra observes the duelists, he finds himself drawn to one student in particular.

Today would have been Rick's birthday. He would have been fifteen. He would have been starting Duel Academia that year. Cobra was certain of it. His son had loved to duel, after all, and despite not having a proper deck when the accident had happened, he'd been good at the game.

A rampaging truck had robbed his son of that, and had robbed Cobra of the chance of seeing so much of a future hadn't happened. But it would happen. He had no doubts of that. It wouldn't take much longer, either. Another couple of weeks, maybe a month or two at the latest.

He looked down at the monitors thoughtfully. He could feel Yubel's attention on the back of his neck but paid no attention to it for the moment. Their partnership was not based on talking, but on actions.

Everything is going well. The students were doing just as they'd been told, dueling on a daily basis. Some of them even dueled two or three times a day, though those were few and far between, and were usually the more enthusiastic and skilled students anyway. He watched them all on the monitors, not so much interested in how they dueled, as he was in the fact that they did.

All of that energy, gathered by the dis-belts and delivered directly to Yubel, preparing her for the day when it would restore her body. And then she would restore Rick. That was the mantra that had rippled through his mind over and over since this had begun.

As the images of the students flickered across the screen, Cobra watched thoughtfully. He recognized many of them, though not all. The students from the other schools, for the most part, as well as Yuuki Juudai and some of his friends. None of them suspected anything, nor would they.

One particular image caught his attention, though he wasn't certain of why at first. There was really nothing about this boy that stood out. But his appearance caught Cobra's eyes anyway. He sat and watched for a few moments, trying to think of why this particular boy was getting his attention.

A few keystrokes gave him a little information, at least. He was Martin Kanou, a first year student in Ra Yellow. His deck was listed as being mostly plant-based, with a few other odds and ends thrown in. Nothing unusual or out of the ordinary at all. But still, Cobra did not want to stop watching.

Perhaps…he reminds me of Rick? There was no physical similarities between them. Everything was different about them. Rick had always been a healthy boy, and Cobra had firmly believed that his son would soon have a growth spurt. This Martin boy appeared to be doomed to be short.

The more he watched, the more he realized that Yubel was also watching over his shoulder. Of course, there was very little else she could do at the moment but watch anything, being little more than an eye and a arm.

"What is it about him?" Cobra was not precisely asking Yubel, but he wasn't not asking, either. If she had seen something that he hadn't, perhaps it could be useful to their plans.

"Darkness…" Yubel whispered. It wasn't often that she could get her attention off of her precious Juudai, but this appeared to have done it. He looked back at the boy, who was sitting on the beach, staring out at the waves. A couple of other students, both Obelisks, came up to him, and Cobra turned a switch in order to hear what they were saying.

"Come on, Kanou, let's have a duel! We need to, anyway!" One of them, a brunet second year, insisted. "You're not scared of losing, are you?"

Martin didn't make a verbal reply, but he did pull himself to his feet and activate his duel disk. Cobra checked the monitors and adjusted so that he would keep an eye on the duel energy produced by this particular duel directly.

When he did speak, Martin's voice was soft and with the faintest of French accents. His Japanese itself was all but perfect, however. Cobra wondered where he had learned to speak it so well. There was also a bit of a quaver to his tone as he played, his confidence obviously lacking.

His opponent was much different, not just being taller and older, but obviously convinced from the start that he was going to win this duel. He played, of all things, a fairy type deck, and he was demolishing Martin with very little effort whatsoever. In the end, his Wingweaver blew the last of the young Ra students life points away completely, with his friend cheering him the whole time.

"Come on, let's go find another duel. I'm liking this new deck of mine." The second year grinned at his friend, and the two of them walked off talking animatedly, leaving Martin behind, sunk to the ground.

Cobra checked the monitors and frowned. There'd hardly been any duel energy at all gathered from that duel. Martin himself had scarcely produced enough to register at all. He looked back at the camera that showed the boy, who was now gathering his cards up from where they'd fallen when he'd lost the duel. His shoulders were slumped and he picked the cards up as if he didn't even want to touch them.

He glanced back at Yubel, whose attention had not moved away from the monitor for a moment. She wasn't going to tell him anything else, he knew. It was up to him to solve this mystery.

We need more energy. We can't get energy if that boy is a sample of what we have to work with here. Yuuki Juudai and Johan Andersen had the energy that they wanted and needed, but they couldn't be relied on to produce all of it.

He set everything to keep monitoring while he was gone, then slipped out of his base. He didn't want anyone to notice that he was there; he didn't think that anyone was suspicious of him, but he didn't want to get into any bad habits. The most brilliant plans had failed because someone hadn't taken something into account.

It took several minutes for him to reach where Martin was, and there was always the chance that the boy would have left before he could arrive. But he hadn't. He sat cross-legged about where he had been before, his deck and duel disk set to the side, and staring out at the ocean once more, as if the duel itself hadn't even happened.

"What are you doing here?" Cobra asked, his deep voice rumbling. Martin jumped, staring up at him with round shocked eyes. "Why aren't you down with your friends?"

He did not mean to actually scare the boy, but some things were inevitable. He was not very much of a sociable type, and starting conversations was nothing he was very good at, when he wasn't trying to manipulate someone else.

"I don't…I mean…they're busy right now, sir," Martin replied, dropping his gaze. There was even more of a shake to his voice than there had been before. "And I like to be up here. It's quiet."

Cobra grunted a little as he turned to face the ocean himself, his hands clasped firmly behind his back. He was not good with people, much less children, but he could hear what the other was not saying. His friends were not busy: he had none. "You are Martin Kanou, first year Ra student, are you not?"

"Yes, sir." That voice was completely unlike Rick's. Rick had been eager and full of life and vigor, ready to do anything and everything as soon as it was suggested. Martin's voice indicated if breathing were both offensive and optional, he would opt not to do it.

"How many duels have you won since this term has begun?" He already knew the answer. That was one of the bits of information available when he'd looked up the other's name. A student's dueling record was openly available to any teacher

"Three, sir." From the lower pitch, Martin had bent his head down. Cobra nodded ever so slightly. One of those had been against the proctor that had granted him entry into the Academia in the first place.

"And you've dueled twenty-three times." It was not the most spectacular win-loss record. Martin did not reply this time. Cobra considered thoughtfully. "You have a talent. There are not many who play a plant deck such as yours."

Martin said something, or at least appeared to be trying to do so. Cobra suspected that being told he had a talent wasn't something he'd heard very often. He had seen plant decks before, and they could be extraordinarily effective, in the right hands. "I am certain that you do not wish to disappoint your family by failing, correct?"

"No. Yes. Sir. I don't want to." Martin still barely spoke above a whisper. If Cobra wasn't used to listening for students who scarcely wanted to speak in his presence, he might not have heard it at all. Perhaps this was something of what Yubel had meant when she'd said 'darkness'. He was slowly becoming aware that there was darkness in this boy. And it had become more evident when he'd mentioned the boy's family.

Cobra turned and before Martin had a chance to move, had settled down beside him. He picked up his deck and began to sort through it, laying the spells, monsters, and traps out neatly. There was the basis for a very powerful deck here, but several key cards were missing. He turned a stern gaze onto the student. "These are several cards that you could use."

He listed them off, brusquely demanding that Martin repeat the list once he was done. Over and over, until he had it perfectly memorized. There was no chance that the boy would move an inch during this impromptu lesson. "I want to see those in your deck the next time that you duel," he commanded. This reminded him so much of times when he'd instructed Rick in the art of dueling. Rick had memorized his suggestions much more quickly, if only because he had grown up doing this. Martin, on the other hand, looked slightly dazed, as if his head would explode if someone tried to put so much as one more piece of information in it.

"Yes, sir," he murmured. "I'll go to Tome-san's store right away." He hesitated a little, peeking up at Cobra. "If that's all right, sir?"

Cobra nodded briefly. There was no way that he could tell the boy to put more heart into his duels, to get them more energy. But perhaps if he had a better deck, he would start to do so, especially if he began to win. It might be within his interests to arrange a few duels that would give Martin a better chance of winning, for that matter. There were a few other students whose decks would be quite weak against a well prepared plant deck.

This really did remind him so much of times that he had had with Rick. Perhaps once his son was restored and was ready to have friends again, he could introduce the two of them. A faint smile flickered across his granite-like features. "Kanou. Would you like to meet my son?"

Martin tilted his head a bit. "I didn't know you had one, sir? Is he here?" Such innocence. He couldn't destroy it. Not right now.

"No. He's…he can't come right now, but I'm making the arrangements. He should be here in a few months." Perhaps sooner. He could hope, at least.

"If you'd like, sir." Martin replied, dropping his head again a little. He brought it up more quickly when a girl's voice sounded, calling his name.

"Marucchi! Marucchi, where are you?" A girl wearing red ran up to them and bent over to catch her breath. "Marucchi, I've been looking all over for you. I made you lunch. Come on, let's go eat!"

Martin turned a faint shade of red as he started to reach for his deck, then paused, looking over at Cobra. The teacher nodded a bit; he'd done what he could for the moment. The two of them left, the girl talking a mile a minute, while Martin followed quietly. Cobra watched them leave and smiled briefly.

He would have to speed up operations. The sooner Yubel was restored, the sooner he would be reunited with Rick, and the sooner he would one day watch his son being pulled away from him by a pretty young girl.

Someday, Rick. I'll see you again soon.

After all…Yubel had promised.

The End