Fruits Basket Fan Fiction ❯ Seasons of Sorrow ❯ Embers of Summer's Glory = To Aggressively Disagree ( Chapter 38 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

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Embers of Summer's Glory
Chapter 38: To Aggressively Disagree
“Is this the right way, Yuki-sensei?”
“Himeka-chan, forget it. Yuki-sensei, this is boring…”
“Shinpachi-kun, that's not very nice.”
“Yeah, Shin, you're not supposed to question the Sensei.”
“Be quiet, Yubo!”
“That was mean, too, Shinpachi-kun! I agree with Yunosuke-kun…we should never question our Sensei. It says so here in this book...”
“Himeka-chan, you need to leave the karate books at home. It kinda defeats the purpose of taking this class.”
“Shin, leave her alone and apologize to Yuki-Sensei.”
“Apologize for what?”
“Hey, Yubo, you're related to the Sensei. Just tell him it's boring…I know you think so, too. I bet even your Nii-san would say so, too. He's a Senior here at the dojo, right? Maybe you can ask to have him teach us instead—”
The shrill sound of his sharp whistle was the only way Yuki could attain his students' attention and put an end to his mounting headache. After having left Tohru at her job, Kyo had been more subdued but still irritable. So for the most part, their walk to Kazuma's dojo consisted of Beethoven's concertos plus a side of mild profanity, compliments of his iPOD and Kyo's wide mouth respectively.
When they arrived at the dojo in record time, as hard as he tried, he couldn't avoid the sit-down with Kazuma. Apparently his devoted doctor had called the teacher to be certain Yuki would be free after the lessons were done for the day. Of course, trying to assuage the worried teacher that he was of good health to teach the class took time in and of itself, so yes, he made history on this fine day…he was late to his own class. As he stumbled into class from his dead-run, the students were quick to point it out with their innocent `oooh's' and `aaahhh's' plus the usual havoc children wreck when no adult is supervising them.
He wasn't upset with Kazuma for keeping him late—past experiences with his poor health have made the teacher overly-cautious when it came to him. And he did manage to bring order to the class with little fuss. No, his headache stemmed from the fact that this slip-up in his administration of his class, however minor, was going to be held against him by others at the dojo.
Not that he really cared what these others thought of him, but still, tension was ripe in the air for a confrontation between himself and these others. And he swore he wouldn't be a burden to Kazuma while taking care of his class for him. It's the one and only reason why he bore the brunt of their `displeasure' these past couple of months without complaint…
`No…I can't be bothered with that right now. Focus…' After taking a quick breather, Yuki turned to the squabbling students before him, having heard their argument all the way from the other end of the room where he was helping a small boy with his stances in these stretching exercises he had them practicing all morning.
“Now that I have your attention, please everyone, line up against the wall,” he replied calmly and quietly to the class, all traces of his kind demeanor that he normally showed now nonexistent.
He walked up and down the line of young faces, seeing his class stare at him in expectation of a well-deserved lecture. His class of ten students. Students that apparently were more than just confused at why they were only doing stretching exercises this past month after a month of breathing exercises.
“Keppei Shinpachi, come forward.” The single command drove all the expectant eyes to the student that had caused the disruption in the lesson. Small murmurs were rippling through the small crowd until Yuki held one hand up, wordlessly calling for silence.
The youth walked forward with an air of superiority, clearly not intimidated at being singled-out before the class. With a quick bow to Yuki, he primly replied, “Hai, Yuki-Sensei?”
Narrowing his gaze at the young child, Yuki kept his composure of stoicism. Instead he knelt down before the boy, startling him in the process. Holding the boy's quizzical gaze for a moment, he closed his eyes and deeply breathed in and out as per the exercises they had practiced.
“Strike me,” he commanded.
“Eh?!?” cried out Shinpachi in astonishment. The whole class could only gasp at the sudden command as well.
“Do not question the order given. Strike me.” Yuki once again deeply breathed in and out, keeping his eyes shut and his hands folded on his thighs with elbows out.
“But…eh…you can't see me,” blubbered the boy in confusion.
“Strike me,” stressed Yuki with a touch of annoyance, “use what you like…hands, feet, elbows…just strike me. (Sigh) I won't hurt you. Just do as I say.”
Biting his lip nervously, Shinpachi shook his head at his sensei, thinking how stupid this all appeared to be. Shrugging his shoulders to the class, he smirked at his teacher and lunged with a fist to the face, a move he learned well by playing his favorite video game consistently.
Before he could even think of blinking, Shinpachi stared in awe at the hand that now held his wrist, his fist inches away from his sensei's nose. “Wha…how…but you were—”
Letting go of the boy's wrist, Yuki resumed his previous position. “Again…try something different this time.”
Shaking his wrist of the tingling sensation from a blocked hit, Shinpachi frowned and lunged again with his other hand.
Blocked yet again from reaching his target, Shinpachi growled in frustration, “This isn't possible!”
“Again.” Yuki never moved from his position on the floor, nor did he ever open his eyes.
Clenching his teeth in anger, Shinpachi finally went all out as he thrust his hands, feet, and yes, even elbows to his teacher, all meeting with the same result as before. Not one ever hit.
“This is pointless, Yuki-Sensei!” cried out finally Shinpachi as he stood back from his teacher, heaving heavy breaths from his exercise.
Finally opening his eyes to his disgruntled student, Yuki quirked an eyebrow as he replied, “Is that so? Class, tell me, is that what you saw in this exercise?”
Shinpachi turned to the class and glared at them, daring them to contradict him. Yet what he saw were astonished faces and a dawning of understanding lit their eyes.
“Yuki-Sensei, that was amazing,” replied in awe Himeka as she clutched her book to her chest, her large glasses slipping down her pixie nose.
Shinpachi gawked at his classmate. “What?! Himeka-chan…”
“Shin…hehehe…you were just schooled. Hehehe,” giggled another student.
The boy felt that he was being made fun of and was about to voice his anger when he heard the calm voice of his sensei overhead.
“Shinpachi-kun, did you not recognize anything in our exercise together?” asked Yuki gently as he placed a cool hand to his student's small shoulder.
“Eh? What do you mean?” The boy could recall what if anything was familiar about their exercise since he could only remember getting angry. “Um…no, Yuki-Sensei.”
“Could someone answer my question?” Looking over at the students that raised their hands, Yuki chose one student. “Yunosuke-kun.”
“He didn't do his breathing exercises like you had done. Is that right, Yuki-Sensei?” asked Yunosuke hopefully.
Nodding affirmatively, Yuki replied, “Yes, that is correct. Our breathing exercises clear the mind to free it of many distractions, allowing us to focus on what's before us. What else is there to be learned?”
“Hmmm…ano, Yuki-Sensei, those blocks you used to stop Shinpachi-kun's thrusts. Are they like some sort of copy of the stretching exercises we were practicing this morning?” asked Himeka unsurely yet still in awe of what happened before.
“Very observant, Himeka-chan.” Smiling down at his blushing female student, Yuki turned to the entire class as he looked at each in turn. “These stretching exercises serve two purposes…one, preparing your muscles and limbs for the physical activity planned ahead; two, to familiarize your mind and body with the different techniques we'll actually be using in the basic katas. Are there any further questions?”
Silence permeated the air as the words of experience from their sensei were absorbed. Shinpachi's lone voice was heard yet again. “Yuki-Sensei, will we all be able to do what you just did?”
Serenely Yuki smiled down at his eager student. “Of course…it just takes time and lots of practice beforehand. It won't do for you or your teammates to get hurt unnecessarily in the process, correct?”
Smiling in anticipation of what is to come in the next few weeks and months, Shinpachi bowed low to his sensei. “I apologize for my behavior, Yuki-Sensei. I won't question you ever again!”
`Heh, I doubt this is the last time he'll question me…' Turning his back on them now, Yuki squared his shoulders as he remarked, “Now, as far as your punishment goes…”
“I'm being punished?!” the boy squeaked in shock.
“This is a dojo and discipline must be held above everything we do.” With a sly smile, Yuki walked to the sliding doors of the dojo that lead outside and slid them open. Breathing in deeply, he called out over his shoulder. “Two laps…all around this dojo. And to keep you company, your classmates will join you as well.”
“What?! But they didn't do anything…” pointed out the distraught student while his classmates gasped in shock at first, then glared pointedly at the boy who started it all.
Sensing the mounting tension in the air, Yuki turned to his class and spoke out to direct their attention back to him. “This is a team-oriented environment. There is no `I' or `me' in this martial art. All work together…all win together…all lose together. And when one is down, the others must help to pick him back up…”
“Oh, like geese, ne Yuki-Sensei?” interrupted Himeka with an understanding attitude. “Birds of a feather flock together.”
“Yes, Himeka-chan, something like that. Shinpachi-kun, your punishment is only meant to reiterate these principles to you as well as to your classmates.” Giving the troubled child a reassuring smile, he turned to the rest of the class with a calm gaze. “Does anyone disagree?”
His class enthusiastically shook their heads `no' for which he was personally thankful. He certainly still had his doubts if his mediocre teaching truly reached them, but Kazuma repeatedly assured him that he was doing fine. `Perhaps I'm not too hopeless with this after all…'
“Okay, everyone…the great outdoors await you.” He stood to the side of the doorway, seeing his class obediently file out of their small dojo into the bright outdoors. “Two laps. The sooner you start, the sooner you're done.”
“Hai,” called out Shinpachi a bit forlornly while hanging back behind the class. He then felt the small clasp of a hand on his shoulder. Seeing whom the hand belonged to, he asked, “Yubo? What are you doing back here with me? Aren't you mad at me?”
“Nah…it's cool. You're a loud-mouth, but at least we now know that our stretches will come in handy later. Come on—betcha I can beat you to the first lap!” With that declaration, Yunosuke quickly ran off ahead of the class.
“THAT'S CHEATING!! AND I AIN'T A LOUD-MOUTH!!!” cried out loudly Shinpachi as he lit the `fire' in his sprint and ran like mad after his best friend.
“HEY! DON'T LEAVE ME BEHIND!” called out Himeka as well as she set her book down by the entryway of the dojo. Setting her glasses firmly on her nose, she began running after them when she suddenly turned back and spoke out to the still-standing class, “HEY, WE'RE NOT DOING THIS ALONE, REMEMBER?!? COME ON…WE'RE A TEAM!”
Hearing those stirring words of encouragement, the remaining students fell into place behind Himeka, each doing their best to keep a good pace and catch up to the runaway students. It was no small trip to make one lap around the dojo, but they had plenty of shade and plenty of spirit to help them along the way. All together…as a team.
`Hm…one is eager to prove his worth despite knowing nothing. The other likes to be the supportive type but will push the other forward if he stops. And the last is sweet but tough enough to stand her ground with the other two. Heh…they do remind me of certain family members of mine…' Smiling wryly at his musings, Yuki turned peacefully back into the dojo, quickly retrieving stray articles from the floor. He had not expected to end his lesson for the day by making them run laps, but hopefully now they'll understand what he was teaching them all along.
“Still, I'll need to start getting them into their basic kata formations soon. They'll really love that.” Humming contentedly to himself, he finished tidying the room when he heard a booming voice from across the room.
“Shouldn't your students be the ones doing that, Junkyouin?”
`Somehow the way he says assistant teacher just doesn't give me a good feeling. That headache from earlier is definitely coming back.' Putting on his smile that was full of polite chagrin, he walked forward to the doorway that connected the dojo to the main part of the large building. He remarked tartly to the tall, well-built individual that was now staring down at him from the side of the doorway, “Shouldn't you be busy with your lessons with Shihan, Tenaka-san?”
Dark-brown eyes sneering at Yuki, he left the doorway and advanced on the smaller individual. “What right do you have to tell me my business, Junkyouin?”
“Hiko, relax. You don't want to sound disrespectful to the Junkyouin. He was Shihan's personal pick after all. Perhaps the word you're looking for is jakuhaisha…he does fit the description of a fledgling, ne?” was the response from out in the hallway.
`And village idiot number two makes his appearance.' Forcing another smile full of disdain, he walked towards the light-brown haired individual who stood out in the hallway. “Ohashi-san… Did class have a break, and that's why you and your friend are hanging around my dojo?”
“This dojo belongs to Shihan, not some little prick like you that just happens to be a Sohma with some martial arts training back when you were a kid!” interjected Hiko heatedly while glaring down at his `senior'. He quickly looked to his friend as he spoke through clenched teeth, “Well…tell him, Hajime. Tell him we know all about his so-called training!”
`I swear if he didn't bring this topic up at least once a week, it would have been weird to go on living my week in peace.' Normally he would have bypassed both idiots with little notice to their baiting (especially Hiko's), but dammit, he has been awake more or less since late last night (or early this morning, depending on how you look at it), has had to navigate the dark depths of his demolished room in the pouring rain and dark (in his cousin's arms no less!), has had to worry about injuries to himself by flying debris (well, kind of—he did have a good cut to the head to prove it), has had to endure Kyo through it all plus this morning, oh and yes, let's not forget his room that met its doom slowly and painfully by the very storm that started it all! All of his things…gone…just like that. Well not all of them, but hey, it felt like it. And now because of last night's volatile weather, he now has to put up with another visit to the doctor's.
`Honestly, there should be a law limiting the number of times one has to visit the doctor in a given month…' Irritated as hell, Yuki willed away his growing headache as he kept his strained smile in place. “Why don't you both return to your class? I am busy tending to mine.”
“Making them run laps now, eh?” asked Hajime languidly as he `tactfully' ignored Yuki's last comments. “It kind of makes me wonder what happened to the martial art lessons. Don't you think so, too, Hiko?”
“This is a martial arts dojo, not some cross-country marathon, Junkyouin,” pressed on Hiko angrily.
Mentally counting the numbers, Yuki discreetly took in even breaths, his patience becoming a thin thread that only held firmly because of his promise to Kazuma to not become a burden while he taught there. Yet, that didn't mean he wouldn't become `forceful'…with tact, of course. He's had enough experiences in his life that dealt with this age-old method to know he can do it right.
Taking even steps, he reached Hajime's side, tightly remarking with a hard stare, “It isn't your place to question me or my methods. Now…move.”
“A meshita shouldn't speak to their superiors that way,” countered Hajime as the slick smile slipped off his placid face.
“And a member from my group should know better than to skip class. Just because Shihan isn't the one supervising us doesn't mean you skip out on Kunimitsu-Sensei's lesson plans. Besides, Shihan can be back anytime from his classes with the girls.”
Turning to look behind him, Hajime scowled at the newcomer. “Come on, Keisuke, even you have to admit that the lessons are a snore. We went through the same thing last month. Our competition isn't wasting their time on it. We need more training on the hard stuff, not meditation crap.”
“That `meditation crap' is supposed to help with your endurance, idiot. I don't want a teammate who'll be out of breath by the third round on the first day of the tournament.” Critically looking over at Yuki, Keisuke looked to the other guy in the dojo. “Hiko, you, too…stop messin' around and get back to class.”
Both grumbling lowly at their teammate who held seniority over them, they gave their last good glares to the small assistant teacher and walked off with a huff towards the main dojo hall. Keisuke watched them leave with an irritated glare of his own before directing the same glare to the Sohma youth.
“The only reason I'm actually putting up with your presence at this dojo is because you're family to Shihan and Tetsuya,” replied Keisuke, barely veiling his distaste of Yuki's relation to the elite family. “Whatever reason Shihan has for using you to teach the beginner's class instead of a senior member like Kyo or Tetsuya is beyond me, but I honestly don't care. So just do us all a favor and keep your comments to yourself. Junkyouin or not, they don't mean anything to any of us senior members.”
Taken slightly aback that the normally civil youth with whom he's had brief encounters in the locker rooms is now reiterating Hajime's last comment to him, Yuki felt the waves of anger seep through his body, his muscles tensing from the strenuous hold on his temper. `I am the adult here…sort of…by technicality terms anyway. Be the adult, just be the adult… (Mentally sighs) Yeah, easier thought than done.'
Instead of flying off the handle like he was tempted to do, he calmly tilted his head to the side and stoically replied, “Senior member or not, no matter how temporary the arrangement, you do answer to me. Live with it.
Dismissing him without so much as a second glance, Yuki walked past the taller student with an air of superiority that befits the position he held. He felt the piercing looks from Keisuke on his back, but he kept going forward, determined to put this latest dissention amongst the ranks behind him. Just as he was about to make a turn around the corner, he sensed an angered presence behind him, then a quick thrust to his blind spot, which was blocked, just not by him.
“What the HELL do you think you're doing?”
`It just never ends,' thought Yuki morosely as he watched the interchange of sparks between the two teammates, Haru still holding Keisuke's right hand tightly. Sighing heavily, he clasped Haru's shoulder gently, fully aware that his relative's `black' side was coming around in full mode. “Hey, let him go. It's not worth getting into trouble over. It's just a disagreement, that's all.”
“Pft, if you got disagreements,” growled back `Black' Haru lowly to Keisuke as he threw back the offending appendage to its owner, “then you damn well better keep your stinkin' hands to yourself!”
“Haru, enough,” softly spoke Yuki, eyes closed while massaging his temple, migraine in full swing by now.
“He's NOT a senior member in this dojo, Haru-san,” remarked Keisuke vehemently as he stood toe-to-toe with his angered teammate. “That meshita should know his pla—AGH!”
`Too much `black'… But…being called inferior constantly is really getting on my nerves. (Sigh) Still, I can't let Haru go on a rampage…Shihan will hear about it.' Massaging the bridge his petite nose, Yuki quietly called out to the riled Ox, “Haru…please.”
That soft-spoken plea tinged with a bit of pain from the Rat snapped the rage out of the Ox's eyes. Letting go of the slim neck of his teammate as if it were on fire, Haru felt the rage seep out of him enough to turn around and stand somewhat calmly next to Yuki, wordlessly asking if he was okay. Seeing Yuki wave him off that he was fine, he kept silent, knowing how much the Rat hated being coddled in any way in front of non-family members. Rubbing his right arm absently, Haru looked off to the side, visibly disinterested in paying any further attention to his teammate.
This reaction on Haru's part caught Keisuke off guard and his confusion showed on his face. Normally Haru's level of skill was on par with his own, but when the young Sohma becomes enraged, that skill tilts highly into Haru's favor. However, he's also out of control.
Keisuke recalled that in all the times at the dojo that Haru went `off' or came close to it (those were few and far between), Kyo barely had any affect in calming him down, only to leave the rest to Kazuma, at times using physical force to subdue him when the time called for it. All the others, himself included, could only stand back as the `storm' known as Haru's hot temper tapered off to his laid-back self.
And yet…just the mere presence of this diminutive Sohma had the unstable teen like putty in a potter's hands. Witnessing that for the first time when Yuki was introduced as the temporary assistant teacher really threw him and many others for a loop. Honestly, the majority thought Yuki to be a girl, and that's how Haru became enthralled with the assistant teacher. That theory was ditched once they knew their relation with one another. And it was indeed a shock to learn Yuki was a guy who was just as skittish around the females as Kyo and Haru.
Haru's smile…it was soft and practically nonexistent most of the time for as long as he's known the troubled teen at the dojo, but again, with that Sohma, it came up often in his presence. Haru even volunteered to stick around more just to help the assistant teacher with his normal duties. That was not normal. Yet Kazuma was all too happy for the change and never complained with the lack of help from the teen.
He has never seen raw rage of that level from Haru. The behind-the-back thrust was only meant to test Yuki's reaction, nothing more. And the simple comment afterward was not meant as an insult, but as a fact, from his point of view anyway. What did they know of this mysterious Sohma that kept to himself most of the time? Nothing. Only that he's a Sohma and the temporary assistant teacher, a position Kunimitsu personally had to work hard for. And here this recently graduated Sohma was just given the position. And with just basic-level training from Kazuma years ago!
It couldn't have been a family-thing. First off, Kazuma is not like that. Anyone that knows him knows that he's extremely honest and kind-hearted and only demands dedication and hard work from anyone that comes to his dojo. Second, if it was a family-thing, then it would have made better sense to have Kyo or Tetsuya as the ideal choice for the position, both being of same-level in skills with years of training from Kazuma. Not someone that practically came off the streets.
The two top students of the dojo, both Sohma, worked so hard to get to their level of skill and position. However, Kazuma stuck with his decision despite some very vocal disagreements. Kyo knew the reason behind Kazuma's choice…displeased obviously, but he accepted his adopted father's decision (and loe to the idiot that spoke poorly of Kazuma because of it—Hiko and Hajime were such idiots). Keisuke knew that Tetsuya, being his best friend, wasn't so lucky to know the reason, but didn't raise any complaints, not even bothering to address the topic altogether. That gave him cause to worry…
And now…now… All it took to calm the bitter rage in his teammate was two words from him. No Kazuma, no Kyo, not physical force…just his words. And it made all his confusion all the more despised.
Blinking back to the present, Keisuke looked to the same individual that was the core of their confusion and the ever-present tension at the dojo. “Hai?”
“You may return to your class with Kunimitsu.” Again without another glance to Keisuke, Yuki walked away calmly, with Haru faithfully following, turning his head just enough to give his teammate a side-long glance that conveyed a parting warning.
As disappointed as he was that more questions were now raised relating to Yuki, Keisuke let the matter rest once more, knowing that a moment of clarity is not always easy to obtain, especially when dealing with the Sohma family. Hanging around Tetsuya for as long as he had gave him a good idea that this family, while honorable and elite and extremely well-off, kept to themselves and hardly were in the public eye anymore than what was necessary, which wasn't often. So for now, he'll concede defeat…for now.
“Hey, Yuki, are you sure your cut is fine?” asked Haru quietly while walking along the long corridors alongside the solemn Nezumi.
His fellow companion turned to him with a blank stare, obviously having not heard him. “Hm? What did you ask?”
“Cut…to the head…the storm…” trailed off Haru as he dropped clues to a distracted Nezumi.
“Oh…how did you know about that?” asked Yuki quizzically while making a last turn to go down a hallway leading him outside.
“I have good ears.” Looking down to his companion and still seeing the question in his eyes, Haru smiled serenely and looked ahead of them. “I was with Shihan when he had gotten the call earlier from Shigure-Sensei. Shihan is `vocal' when he's concerned about one of us.”
Shaking his head lightly, Yuki smiled wryly. “Yeah, he can get that way. I'm fine, just a headache. How about you…why weren't you in class as well? Was Kunimitsu's class that unimportant?”
“Hm? Oh…no. Shihan had finished his call with Shigure-Sensei when he had sent me to get some equipment from the storehouse for today's lessons,” calmly remarked Haru as he pondered over his instructions from earlier that day.
“Haru…that was…several hours ago, right?” asked Yuki warily. “So…did you get them to him?”
Haru's gaze looked blankly at no particular point. “I was having some difficulty finding my way out of the dojo before I ran into you…”
Fighting the urge to groan audibly, Yuki resigned himself to just softly pat his old friend's shoulder as small comfort. “Don't worry about it. I'm sure Shihan (`I need to remind him not to let Haru loose like that') got what he needed by now.”
They came to a clear hallway where sounds of a class were taking place where the students were clearly heard repeating the commands from their sensei. Yuki turned to Haru with a bright smile and said, “Here's your stop. Since Shihan isn't around, please tell Kunimitsu that I'll be taking off right after I dismiss my class. I want to get my visit to Hatori done and over with.”
Nodding affirmatively, Haru softly gazed at his stalwart friend. “Sure. You need me to go with you?”
“No,” remarked Yuki with a grin, “I'll be fine. I'll have…things…to do…after my appointment, so I won't see you until tomorrow.”
“Hm…be careful then,” replied Haru with a knowing gaze. Yuki merely kept his grin and waved him off, intent on reaching his students running outside.
Haru could only stare after his old friend, aware that no matter how much he wanted to help him, Yuki would never accept it. Despite the strain on his patience with having to deal with the smart-mouthing or the condescending attitudes, Yuki was adamant about handling it on his own. So the most he was allowed to do was worry…and crack a few skulls when the Nezumi isn't looking.
`He's always trying to keep as many burdens as he can to himself. If he'd only let me help him more often, those idiots wouldn't bother him so much.' Sighing lightly, he turned to the dojo where apparently the rest of his class is located when the whoosh of the sliding doors caused him to pause in his stride.
“Damn, Haru! How long does it take you to get to the storage shed and back?!?” growled irately Kyo upon seeing the calm façade of the missing teammate. Grasping him by the wrist, Kyo led him back down the other way from where Haru just came from. “Look, our lesson is just about over with, so let's get going to the other dojo. Kunimitsu wants us to help the second-years with their exercises and matches today.”
“I see,” replied idly Haru as he let himself be led. He noticed that his fellow teammate's foul mood hadn't lifted since having arrived earlier that morning, all the while grumbling lowly about old hags and conniving rats and wicked storms. Very confusing indeed; not that he paid much attention.
Kyo continued growling under his breath, “Pft, man we kept losing the audience all day! First you, then the other two that needed to practice their meditation the most, and then the other one that went to go after them. Damn, at this rate we'll be a fine mess at the competition!”
“You worry too much,” remarked Haru nonchalantly, gazing out the windows at Yuki's small class gathering around their sensei tiredly but with smiles on their faces.
“Fine…you take your time like you always do. Me, I have to get our team in top shape or there won't be much of a competition when we're beaten in the first round… Hey, are you listening?!?” cried out Kyo irritably. He abruptly stopped in his tracks and turned to see Haru in a daze staring outside. Letting go of Haru's wrist, he then turned his attention as well to the windows and saw that the Ox's object of affection was currently instructing his class outside.
“You know…” quietly replied Haru as he paused momentarily.
“Yeah?” Few were the times that Haru initiated a conversation with him, aside from challenging him on occasion, so Kyo waited patiently for Haru to voice his thoughts.
“A jerk.” That said, Haru calmly walked off in the direction they were heading.
`WHAT THE HELL?!?' Rounding on his parting companion, Kyo angrily lashed out, “What the…! HEY! You can't just say stuff like that and walk away like it was nothing! HEY, I'M TALKING TO YOU!!!”
Haru walked onward tranquilly ignoring the raging Neko behind him. Once he reached the door that led to the class they were going to supervise, he came to a halt. Without looking at Kyo, he quietly stated, “If you can't lead by example, then don't complain about the end result.”
“NOW WHAT THE HELL IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?!?” yelled Kyo as he quickly grabbed a hold of Haru's wrist once again. Seeing that Haru now looked back at him with a slight trace of irritation in his eyes, Kyo reluctantly let go to avoid bringing out the Ox's darker half. `Black' Haru would not explain anything.
Taking a deep breath, he carefully worded his confusion through gritted teeth, “Can't you stop twisting words and just tell me what you're talking about? Lead by example? I've been busting my ass trying to get everyone prepared!”
“That much is obvious,” commented Haru lowly as he leaned against the door, arms folded across his chest as he gazed down at his feet. “You're a jerk for not seeing what's really going on. You don't even see what you're doing…”
“Okay, so just…argh…just tell me! Tell me what am I not seeing,” pleaded Kyo while holding back his infamous temper.
Immediately Haru stood face to face with Kyo, hardly any difference in their stature with one another. Kyo could tell that he wasn't the only one holding back on their temper…it seemed that Haru's more volatile half was brimming with unspent anger. Almost as if he was already angry to begin with, and now this small confrontation was exactly what he wanted to let it all out.
“It's not his fault. He's just here to help Shihan, okay?” whispered Haru.
Well, that did the trick. Kyo narrowed his gaze to the youth before him and stalked off to the opposite wall. He knew well what Haru was referring to now. It always came down to him…the Rat. Why did he think that it had been about something else? He should have known that the Ox only cares to talk to him about how he's affecting his favorite Rat.
With fists clenched to the side, he bit out, “Not everyone will fall for the baka Nezumi's pretty looks and let him walk all over them! But I never said anything about it being his fault. If the idiot can't handle them—”
“He's handling them just fine! I'm the one that won't hold back anymore! I swear Kyo, if you keep up with this attitude of yours and they keep going along with it, I'll beat you good, I don't care how bad I end up or what Shihan does to me!” cried out Haru with `Black' Haru not too far off. Realizing this, Haru recalled Yuki's plea from before, how it echoed deep in his heart, letting him know how much it bothered his best friend to see him this way.
Keeping that memory close, he put the chains back onto his `black' side and replied somewhat serenely. “You're the Cat…he's the Rat…fine, I get that. If you want to keep that story alive, fine. But your rivalry is affecting the team. If you can't sense that by now, then you're a bigger jerk than I thought.”
Being put down by one who is his junior in more ways than one was always a humbling experience for Kyo since it didn't happen too often. He knew better than to act a bigger fool by denying what Haru just said, as much as he wanted to deny any and all accusations, implied or otherwise. Still, it did leave a bitter taste to the tongue, so before he let Haru open the door further as he was about to do, the Neko called out to him.
“That story tells the truth about one thing…the Cat is lied and betrayed by the Rat. It's the story of my life that you know nothing about. And that Rat won't know peace so long as he sticks around in my life. And even then it would never be enough for him to know the hell he's brought to my life. Period.” Feeling an ache from his jaw for clenching it so hard, Kyo rubbed it absently, his thoughts and emotions in turmoil. `Damn, it always get this way when I REALLY think about it all. Dammit…'
`Loved by many, hated by all…the ugly truth Yuki lives with.' Ruefully smiling, Haru fully slid open the door and softly replied, “You really are such a jerk. I can't understand why he bothers defending you if it always ends this way with you.”
Not truly understanding the cryptic remark, Kyo was set on voicing his protest when he heard a booming voice behind him.
“KYO! You're just standing there?!? Get going or so help me Kazuma will be the first to hear of it!” bellowed Kunimistu loudly from the other end of the corridor.
The loud clatter of students practicing and their greetings upon seeing Haru enter the dojo brought Kyo out of his wandering thoughts. He hurriedly walked into the dojo, solely focused on supervising this class. He'll be damned if he gives the Rat anymore thought than he deserves.
`Not today, not ever… This is my life, Nezumi. You stepped into it…deal with it.'
Author's Grumbles to the Wall (03-31-06):
Hello my dears! Glad I could finally put this puppy up! How is everyone faring? Well, I hope! I always wonder how you are when you read my fics…
Moving on, I'd like to first thank all readers and reviewers from before. You guys are too wonderful to me! I hoped I replied to each signed-review—if you haven't gotten a reply by now, PLEASE let me know! I was pretty sure I replied to all of them EXCEPT to Mediaminer (no one left me a review there ;_;) and to the one anonymous reviewer up on FFnet.
To my anonymous reviewer, I hope you can leave your email to me next time…I'd love to clarify your concerns/questions related to my fic. You mentioned something about my fic being `confusing' plus having too much Yuki. There's a reason to my mayhem, trust me, plus having too much Yuki is not possible…not for me anyway! I relate better to him, and I've made no secret that the fic centers around him. By this chapter, it's a good clue that I won't change my ways…however, if it's a true concern and if others agree, please let me know. I want to be sure the fic is well-balanced for all readers or at least try! Muchos thanks!
Okay, this fic is known as the `Bucket of OCs'. Yep, no-holds-barred chapter full of OCs who are here to help move the story along. I hope that they all came across as I had hoped…as a recap, here's the first half of OCs from Yuki's class: Yunosuke (his nickname Yubo); Himeka; Shinpachi Keppei (his nickname Shin). I hope I conveyed them to be of young age, and full of youthful vigor! I remember those days…many moons ago (v_v)… Anyway, as the scene progressed, I kind of had them be a parallel of some of our favorite Sohmas, more or less. Let me know if you can guess them!
My next bunch of OCs revolves around the senior group amongst Kazuma's students. These were a bit more difficult to put together since they represent the new circumstance in the overall storyline. No more school settings or anything related to that…it's all about the dojo and the home front. Once again, recap: Hiko Tenaka, Hajime Ohashi, Keisuke Miho, and Tetsuya Sohma (yet to appear). Whew! If you're wondering, I grabbed their names from the back of my anime DVDs and started pulling first/last names from the credits in no particular order!
It was a bit hard to bring their personalities to light without me having to offer a biography on them. The more vocal of the group is Hiko (kind of like Kyo, just more brawn than brain), who's close friend is Hajime (likes to put on the front of being nice, but not), and then there's Keisuke—the more civil and level-headed of the group, but has his loyalty to his team, the dojo, and his best friend Tetsuya (more on him in later chapters). All of them have a thing about seniority, which is a factor in the martial arts sport. It's little wonder they're angrier than a hornet's nest that someone who isn't one of them has taken a highly privileged position at the dojo. More light will be shed on this growing problem plus their `expressive' personalities as the story progresses—just don't expect chapters dedicated to any of them as individuals.
Please leave me any and all feedback regarding the portrayals of my OCs. To reiterate, their presence in the fic is to help move my story forward, not become the story. They will present different situations to the Sohmas that the Sohmas must deal with (good example with Yuki and the rejection from Kazuma's students). However, for the most part, it's all about the Sohmas with Tohru on the side plus few others! I just have more people to `play' with…yippee!
Okay, before I'm lynched, I confess to being very new to the world of martial arts. So don't take my word for it on certain styles/techniques, etc. that I present in the story! I did do research on the sport (not much, just basics), but I wanted to keep from getting too technical in the story, so I kept it very general. Hopefully my interpretation of the sport didn't offend, but if it did and you'd like to correct me ever so kindly, please do so! I always say that the little things keep my fic authentic, so please offer your input…it's much appreciated!
Certain phrases in Japanese in use here are real words—their translation is usually right before or after the phrase was mentioned. Please let me know if I misinterpret anything related to those!
Ah…the moment with Haru and Kyo was pretty tense, ne? A reviewer reminded me of Yuki's involvement with Kyo's dad a ways back, and I replied that it is important to remember that. To reiterate my point, I touched on it subtly toward the end. And Kyo's parting thoughts were rather…dark, I guess. In a sense, it's a warning of sorts, but more on the figurative level. Things will definitely turn interesting for our adorable bickering pair!
Well, overall, this chapter was just your basic `what is happening' kind of information. A snapshot of sorts that clue's you in on what's going on so far. Next chapter would continue where this left off and then take off from there. Hopefully this story is still worth your reading time!
Musical moments brought to you by Alanis Morissette's “Uninvited”. I can't remember if I've used this one before, but it fits for this chapter! It's not so much as for the lyrics, but more for the essence of the song. The part of the song that I like for this story is the part that talks of not being part of the 'norm'. Your basic `outside looking in'—Yuki fits this rather well since he's definitely in a tight spot at the dojo, clearly being the `uninvited' person. Poor thing…at least he has Haru to whip the others into line if need be!
All right…I will cease all babbling and get off this note page before I'm booted off! Do leave your comments/critiques/bashing of all sorts at the door. Don't slam the door! Hehe! Ja ne!