Author: Sayuri (sayuri_tama@hotmail.com)

Title:  Seasons May Change

Part: 1 of 4?

Rating: PG-13 (may go up in later chapters)

Pairing: Kyou x Yuki

Spoilers: May contain spoilers regarding the pasts of Kyou and Yuki

Warnings: Shonen-ai; Language

Disclaimer: Fruits Basket isn't mine, of course.

Summary: After four years, Yuki returns to Japan to find things at home not as he expected, and a reluctant Kyou as his sole source of support.

Author's Notes:  This is something of a test-run for my first Fruits Basket fic, and I think it may turn into a semi-long one, about four or five parts.  But since it's being thrown into a pile with my other unfinished fics, the updates might be kind of slow...sorry!

***

Chapter One: Warm Days in Autumn

The letter had arrived only three days ago, yet that short span was long enough to have thrown the Sohma Shigure household into a wild state of disarray.

"Sohma-kun, Hatori-san is here!" Tohru called down the hall as she balanced a huge stack of Yuki's laundry, ironed, folded, and ready to be packed. She teetered her way up the stairs to Yuki's normally neat room that now looked as though it had been stirred with a large stick. Numerous packing boxes and a large trunk cluttered the floor, while every dresser drawer hung open, their contents spilling over.

In Shigure's study, Yuki stood facing off against his older cousin, arms crossed and patience growing thin.  "Hear that?" He cocked his head in the direction of Tohru's voice.  "Hatori's here to take me to the main house. I'm going."

"Yuki!" Shigure pleaded one last time, clutching the offending letter in his hand. "Think of me! What'll I do without you around here?"

Yuki sighed, tired of the game they had been playing for the past several days. Of all the people who he expected to attempt to hold him here, Shigure was last on the list. "Maybe you'll actually get some work done without having my affairs to but in on, ne?"

Shigure sensed that he was facing a losing battle, so he quickly switched tactics, hoping to gain some ground before Yuki headed out the door, once and for all. "What about Tohru-kun, then?" For a moment, Yuki's eyes clouded over, and Shigure knew he had fetched a sensitive spot. He continued, "But then, I'm sure she'll manage here with myself and Kyou to keep her company."

"Yes, I'm sure she will." Yuki replied softly, his mind drifting. Over the past year since Kyou's secret had been revealed to them, Yuki had watched Kyou and Tohru grow gradually closer. They had both become more confident and more at ease, their personalities naturally complimenting each other. As he pictured the pair laughing as they cooked together or as Kyou patiently tried to school Tohru in martial arts, Yuki had no doubts that they would be fine without him: in truth, that thought left him more sad than anything else.

"And Akito?"  Shigure prompted, going in for the kill.

Yuki let his head drop and his shoulders shook involuntarily before catching himself, and cursing under his breath. He tipped his head back up and met Shigure's eyes, defiant and determined, all his doubts gone.

"He knows I'm leaving. Just let him try to stop me." With that, Yuki padded down the hall, grabbed his coat, and ran out to meet Hatori.

"Yuki…" Shigure said to himself as he listened to Yuki shutting the main door behind him. "It's your choice. I just fear that it's the wrong one."

            "Wrong for who, Shigure?" Kyou questioned from the doorway behind Shigure where he stood.

"Kyou!" Shigure jumped.  "Hidoi na! You shouldn't sneak up on people!"

Kyou answered with a short laugh, uncrossed his arms, and entered the room. "What are you playing at Shigure? Are you thinking about Yuki, or Akito?"

Shigure shook his head and replied solemnly. "I'm thinking about all of us." Kyou, puzzled, watched as the older man slowly placed the acceptance letter on the smooth desktop. After a long moment, Shigure looked back up at Kyou, his genki demeanour seemingly instantly restored.

"What do you suppose Tohru's making us for dinner? And when do you think she'll invite Hanajima-san and Uuo-san over again? The sight of high school girls warms my gentle heart!"

"Baka."  Kyou shook his head.

***

"Thanks for driving me, Hatori." Yuki fastened his seat belt and tried not to notice how his fingers shook as he fumbled with the buckle. Hatori, however, was more observant. His voice was kind as he replied to his younger cousin.

"You don't have to do this, you know. None of us will think less of you if you don't."

Yuki smiled slightly as his gaze met Hatori's good eye. "I would think less of me, Hatori. I have to confront him. It's the only way I'm ever getting out of here."

Hatori nodded and put the car in drive.

***

Two days later, Yuki came back from the main house sporting a black eye, a split lip, and a victorious smile. Akito had given Yuki his passport and approved the release of his portion of the Sohma family trust. It was only Shigure who suspected what the true price of Yuki's freedom may have been, but it was a suspicion to which he never gave voice. For, no matter how it happened, the fact remained that for the first time in his life, Yuki was leaving the direct embrace of the Sohma family.

On that sunny day in late November when the family of four gathered at the airport to see Yuki off, it was Shigure who issued the dark and prophetic-sounding statement that rang in Yuki's ears as he boarded his flight.

"Don't think about coming back unless you are prepared to stay, Yuki. I can't believe that Akito is finished with you."

"But I'm finished with him." Yuki whispered to himself as the plane took flight and he watched the coast of Japan disappear behind him.

~~~`~,~@

The sun shone bright on the garden, and the birds chirped among the bushes and trees. Kyou brushed the hair out of his eyes as he surveyed the grounds of the house and, somewhat resignedly, picked up the rake. The sun made it not a bad day for outdoor work, really, and the longer he put it off, the larger the job would get – so best to get it over with.

It was an unusually warm day for late fall; a day not unlike when *he * had left four years before, Kyou mused as he raked. Well, he couldn't really blame himself for thinking about it once in a while, could he? After all, it was the day that changed everything. If he just closed his eyes, he could picture everything about it so clearly: the bright look of accomplishment and excitement on Yuki's face and the naked hope in his eyes; the fishy way Shigure fought to convince Yuki to reconsider; the brave mask Tohru wore to keep Yuki from guessing how much she wanted him to stay.

He could even remember convincing himself that Yuki's leaving had no effect on him whatsoever, that he didn't give one whit where the kuso nezumi chose to go to college. Kyou had determined to not let it bother him, and so he merely sat back, detached from the events unfolding around him, and watched as Yuki went through the motions of tearing their safe world apart.

He remembered how he had held Tohru's hand tight in the backseat of Hatori's car on the ride home from the airport, whispering to her as she silently cried and tried to cover up how she was feeling with false optimism. "I'm being so selfish, really, and so stupid, it's only for a few years, and he's coming back, and really Sohma-kun will be so happy and he'll make so many friends…"

What perhaps what hurt most of all was over a month later, as the pair sat on the roof and watched the sunrise on their first New Year's Day together without Yuki.  Kyou had held her as close as he dared, wiping the small tears that rolled down her cheeks and ignored the odd empty feeling in the pit of his own stomach. It seemed the right thing to do, at the time, to lean over and gently kiss away the tears on her cheeks and softly tell her that she was his most important person.

Kyou shook his head to clear the distant memory, instead focussing on his task of sweeping the piles of reddish leaves that cluttered the pebbled paths that wound through the gardens in Shigure's yard. Dwelling on those memories would bring him nothing but sadness, and there was no reason why he should ruin a perfectly good day working over things that couldn't be changed.

The four years since high school had been good to Kyou: he worked part-time with Shishou, training kids in martial arts while he took cooking classes at the local college. Oddly enough, in the past few years his natural talent with food* had begun to shape into something of which even he was proud, and he decided that being a chef would at least mean he'd eat well. His education still had several years to go, however, so continuing to live with Shigure had seemed like the most sensible choice.

As he swept, the everyday training was evident in his arms and shoulders that were now much more defined than they were as a teenager. His height, however, hadn't changed, and he was almost stocky. His hair had grown to an unruly orange mop, often obstructing his vision, much to the chagrin of his teachers. What remained constant about his appearance, however, was the aloof look he often held in his eyes, and the small black and white beaded bracelet that continued to hang around his left wrist.

            Of course, there had been other changes over the past years, some more welcome than others. Akito had grown weaker, and his hold on the younger members of the Juunishi was slipping. Hatsuharu, Momiji, even Ritsu and Kagura had all gone, deciding to seek opportunities in other parts of the country and the world. Shigure himself had left three months ago to be at the ailing clan head's side in this last days, and showed no signs of returning anytime soon.

            Despite how everything was changing for the family, losing Tohru on top of everyone else was something that Kyou had never expected.

            And so, for three months Kyou had been alone, unhappy in the home he had once shared with his surrogate family. Three months of no one to come home to, of no one to cook for and eat with, of no one to share stories with after dinner and no one to say goodnight to. On top of which, every corner of the house bore the stamp of a memory of happier days, when the four of them filled the large rooms with their laughter and their arguments. He could clearly see Tohru hanging clothes on the line or hear her apologizing needlessly for some scant oversight; he could feel the adrenaline that would pump through his veins when he would challenge Yuki, and later, the feel of the smooth floorboards as he undoubtedly lost. 

            Kyou's thoughts were interrupted when he spied a figure approaching the house on foot through the trees. He tensed, put down the rake, and crouched behind a high bush, trying to inconspicuously get a better look at the stranger. It was a man; and a fairly tall one at that, the long thin legs encased in tight faded blue jeans, a casual yet stylish suede hanging jacket open over a pale blue button-down shirt. Long wisps of the man's greyish hair hung around his face and down past his shoulders, the bulk of it held back in a long ponytail. As he drew closer, Kyou could make out small silver-rimmed glasses perched atop his nose and a silver hoop earring in the left ear.

Eyeing the hefty backpack the man carried slung over one shoulder, Kyou shook his head and muttered to himself, "Probably some lazy drifter wanting food or a place to crash." As Kyou stood, his ankle got caught in a length of garden hose, and he went flying, landing face-first on the path, only a few meters in front of the stranger. The force of the impact jolted the nozzle, and water sprayed out, soaking his head and clothes. He struggled on the ground with the hose for a moment, his anger rising with the sound of laughter coming from above him.

"It's good to see that some things never change, baka neko." The stranger laughed, putting his backpack down and offering the fallen boy a hand.

"Yu—Yuki?!" Kyou sputtered, clamouring to his feet.

"Of course. Who did you think it was? The mailman?" Yuki shook his head at his cousin. "You're a mess."

Kyou stood stock-still, unbelieving and unsure of what to say. He looked at Yuki for a long, hard moment, and finally settled on a simple, "You've changed."

Yuki tilted his head to the side for a moment and looked Kyou over.  "So have you."

"Well, *you* look even more like Ayame than ever." Kyou goaded. It was true, but it was also intended to be a surefire way to get a rise out of his effeminate-looking cousin. Sometimes, it was too easy to fall back onto old habits.

Yuki shook his head as he replied, refusing to rise to the bait. "That won't work, Kyou."

            Kyou quickly looked down, knowing that he was being childish, and tried to stamp down the feelings which gripped him at seeing Yuki again. He was angry, yes, but it wasn't exactly the same kind of old anger that he used to feel at the mouse. Rather, it was something else…something unknown, and scary.

"Is Shigure here?" Yuki continued, seemingly undaunted by seeing his cousin and old home again.

"Try the Main House, if you're looking for him. He moved back in three months ago." Kyou replied flatly.

"Why?" Yuki asked, surprised. He wracked his brain trying to think of why his older cousin would abandon his home, especially when he could remember the pride Shigure had at living way from the main Sohma compound. 

"Akito."

"Ahh." Yuki didn't press the issue, as he didn't really want to deal with the clan head at this point.  "And Tohru?" He smiled. Tohru, on the other hand, would be a welcome piece of his past. It was his one regret about deciding to break contact with the Sohma's that he had drifted apart from her, too, but he was eagerly looking forward to getting to know her again.

Kyou stiffened, almost feeling the hairs on the back of his neck bristle. "She hasn't been here in over a year, kuso nezumi. If you ever wrote or opened your mail you might know that."

            Yuki looked as if someone had poured a bucket of cold water over his head.  Kyou didn't even try to keep the bitterness out of his eyes or voice; this development was something that he strictly blamed on Yuki. The more rational part of his brain asked him how would the mouse of known? How could he have guess what his leaving would do to their family, how could he understand the hole that would have been left behind? Kyou had done his best to fill that hole, but it hadn't been enough. Eventually, even Tohru's mask had begun to crack, and she had seemingly withered around the house without Yuki. Eventually, she relented and took Shigure up on his offer to sponsor her through college.

"She's…gone? Did something happen to her? Where is she?" Yuki continued, his voice starting to sound panicked.

"School, baka, where else? She's going to be a kindergarten teacher."

Yuki's eyes softened. "That's…that's good. She'll be great at it."

Kyou simply nodded in agreement and reached down, picking up the rake. As far as he was concerned, this conversation was over. Yuki, however, didn't seem to get the hint, as he stubbornly stood still, staring at Kyou.

"Look, I told you Shigure isn't here. You'll have to go to the main house to see him." Kyou growled, hoping Yuki would get the hint and leave. After all, he didn't seem to have a problem with leaving, or staying away, for that matter. What in hell was he doing here, anyway?

"I don't want to see Shigure. I came here hoping that I might have my old room back." Yuki asked, somewhat timidly.

Kyou stopped in mid-sweep, jerking his head up to look at Yuki in open shock. "What did you say?"

"I'm saying I'm home, Kyou. I'm staying. For good."  Yuki smiled. "If you'll have me, that is. Gods know I'm a terrible cook."

~~~`~,~@

*I'm not making this up: in the anime, Tohru comments on how well Kyou is able to throw together rice balls, and in another episode Kyou whips up a delicious (according to Tohru) green onion soup ^_^