8/15/2004: This fic has been revised so that it fits a little better (at least, in my mind) with the characters and the situation. I'd like to thank everybody who thought through this fic with me when it was first written; you guys were a big help.

CREDITS: The idea for this fic sprung from Miraii's KyouHana story "Your Denpa" at . The idea of KyouHana at had never occurred to me before I saw her story, and it caused me to start wondering what things one character could do for the other. So if you like, thank her, and if you don't, blame me.

DISCLAIMERS: I'm not a manga artist, and the premise for Furuba would never have occurred to me even if I were. I'm not making any money and I don't own anybody.

IMPORTANT POINT: Onigiri is a type of riceball that is ubiquitous in Japan. Umeboshi is a pickled-plum paste (well, it doesn't strictly have to be paste) that often gets put in onigiri. Tohru's theory about people being like riceballs is a central theme, so if you don't remember it you may be in trouble.

NOTES: If you're reading/watching the English release, denpa is probably translated as "waves" or "vibes." If you don't know Hanajima's backstory (it's in the manga, but I don't think it's in the anime), this might not make much sense. --; Sorry. (But I'm sure there must be an explanation of it out there somewhere on the big, wide 'Net. . . .) I've slightly rewritten the little two-line conversation between Yuki and Hanajima that happens in vol. 5 of the manga/episode 18 (I think?) of the anime. I've also extended it past the point where the series goes to a scene break. The beautiful thing about fanfiction is, I can do stuff like that. Heh heh. Oh, and I've not rewritten the conversation between Kyou and Hana in the graveyard, but I've used the manga version, which is much more extended than the "significant look" they share in the anime.

Done babbling. Here's the fic!


Perhaps Payback, of a Sort

Tohru had a theory about umeboshi. She had once explained it to them all in the school backyard over lunch, smiling happily and exclaiming, "Yesterday I was making onigiri rice balls with Kyou-kun and--"

Hanajima knew she hadn't meant anything by it except that she wanted to share her excitement at thinking about how everyone had their own special talent. Her denpa were pure, simple like that. Tohru thought that Souma Kyou was wonderful because he could cook, and that Souma Yuki was wonderful because he could study. That they were kind.

Hanajima had brought this up with Prince Yuki himself once. When she had spoken to him that time in the classroom, telling him that she was sorry. "Your 'umeboshi'. . .maybe it's like Tohru says. Maybe you just have so much that people can't stop looking. It must be hard on you, too."

He hadn't understood what she was talking about; she saw that. But, surprising her, he'd answered. "Maybe. . .Honda-san's talent is that she can see those individual characteristics in everyone, but. . .maybe she doesn't always recognize them for what they are." He said it almost as if to himself.

It was perhaps this unusual insight that caused Hanajima to ask the fateful question one May morning.

"Uo-chan. . . ."

"Yeah?" They were sitting, once again, in the schoolyard, playing a game with Tohru and Yuki. The Yankee was in the middle of what appeared to be a complicated decision about which card to play next.

"If Tohru is right about people being like onigiri, I wonder what kind of umeboshi we have?"

"Well, yours is obvious," replied Uotani, not paying overmuch attention. "You're protective." She finally selected the Jack of Clubs, and threw it down on the pile. "Hah! Take that, Prince!"

Tohru clapped her hands together, looking excited. "That's right! Hana-chan is very considerate of others, isn't she? Like when we first met!"

"Actually, I was rude to you when we first met," Hanajima said in her calm voice.

Yuki played a Queen of Clubs, making Uotani swear revenge in the next hand. To be polite, he asked, "How did you first meet?"

And that was how, before Hanajima knew it, her two best friends came to be telling the whole story; how she transferred schools, how she rejected their advances but they refused to give up.

"Until. . . ." Tohru suddenly trailed off, looking uncomfortable.

Her friends' denpa radiated worry. They worried that she didn't want to talk about it, they wondered if it would be painful.

Of course it was painful.

Yuki began to look sorry he'd asked.

Two apologies began at once, his and Tohru's. They both stopped at the same time, and then both insisted the other go first. Hanajima cut through the ensuing confusion with her quiet voice.

She told them everything.

She wasn't sure why--perhaps she just didn't want to deal with their anxious denpa tripping over each other. Perhaps she wanted to scare the Souma boy, just a little.

Perhaps she just wanted someone to tell.

Whichever impulse led her to it, Hanajima found herself rarely enthralled in her recounting, so that the sounds of their classmates' chattering voices and their footfalls on the walkway didn't bother her; ceased to even register. She told of her parents, of the first school, of the. . .the accidents, of how in the end she'd refused friendship with Uo-chan and Tohru because of the crime in her past. How they had saved her by wanting her anyway. She did not notice the world around her even when one set of footfalls slowed to a stop a little distance behind her.

"You see?" Tohru said when she had finished. "Hana-chan never wants anyone to be hurt. Her kindness is beautiful umeboshi."

As usual for Tohru, half exactly what you needed and half completely missing the point.

"It's a good story," Yuki agreed, smiling. But Hanajima could tell he was a little afraid.

Well, that wasn't unusual either, was it.

"Hah! What part of that was a good story?" said a new voice from behind Hanajima. She froze, a little startled. Yuki almost imperceptibly slipped into a ready fighting stance.


He slid out of the shadow of the building he'd been leaning against, eyes slitted and unreadable.

"Carrots! What are you doing sneaking around behind people and eavesdropping on them?!"

Souma Kyou ignored all of this, his eyes fixed on Hanajima. Like a cat. . ., she found herself thinking. Like a cat stalking its prey.

"So you think you hurt some people just by not liking them? Is that it? That's what you've been afraid of all this time? Ch'. Don't make me laugh."

"Jerk," spat his cousin. "What gives you the right to barge in and make fun of Hanajima-san like that? Back off or I'll--"

"I'm don't have time for you right now, damn rodent," said Kyou, cutting him off.

Yuki fell back a little as if shocked.

Tohru's eyes bounced back and forth between all of them, uncertain.

"What are you trying to say?" Hanajima asked.

"I'm saying, why have you been afraid for years about something so stupid? That was why you didn't wanna become friends with Tohru and that Yankee, right? Because you were afraid you'd hurt them. Do you really think you can do that? Do you really have so much power you can make everything your fault?"

Kyou's own eyes widened at that, and he paused for a moment, finally muttering under his breath, "maybe that's why Tohru gets along with you. . . ."

There was a beat of silence in their little patch of grass and sun. Whizzing around Hanajima's head were suddenly complicated denpa, coming from everyone, crashing into each other. Denpa, and an echo in her own mind: "Can you make everything your fault? Can you make everything your fault?"

"You think that even now, don't you?" continued Kyou after that tiny pause. He looked as if he were realizing something, figuring it out even as he said it. "You said you found the trick to turning off people's waves if you didn't want to listen to them--you were looking for that the whole time, weren't you. You wanted to find that trick, so you wouldn't have to listen to how people were always afraid of you; that's what you told those two"--he jerked a thumb at Uotani and Tohru without taking his eyes off of Hanajima--"but it wasn't really that. Really you hoped if you found that, you could find the trick to seal your own power in your mind. Because you're afraid someday you'll really hurt someone, maybe even hurt them. You're still afraid of that, even now."

"Stop it. . . ."said a tiny voice. Hanajima realized with a little start that it was her own.

She looked at Tohru, afraid of what she would see. Tohru's eyes were wide and wet. She could feel the question radiating off of her friend: "Are you really? Are you really afraid of hurting us, even now?"

That horrible sympathetic suffering.

"Stop it." Her voice was cold. She didn't want Tohru to feel like that. She wouldn't forgive someone who made Tohru feel like that.

A tiny sound, and she was looking at Yuki. He looked stricken. His eyes were pained and his denpa said so many things at the same time that Hanajima couldn't even begin to interpret them all. Why, the loudest denpa was saying. Why does he always do this?

Kyou's arms were crossed, waiting.

Hanajima didn't know what else to say.

"Give me a break. Obviously you're not that powerful."

She said nothing.

"Oh, please. One kid faints while you happen to be pissed at him, and you think you're some kind of comic book supervillain."

"You know nothing. You weren't even there."

"Oh, and you think you know why that kid collapsed? All right. If you think that, fine. Curse me."

There was a silence.

". . .what?"

"Curse me. Hate me. Wish I was dead. Whatever. Attack me with your denpa. Then we'll see."

His denpa. She couldn't read them. She couldn't read him at all.

"Kyou-kun," Tohru started hesitantly. "Hana-chan is--"

"Will you do it?" he said, eyes fixed on her. Cutting off even Tohru? His eyes were so strange.

". . .you may want to die," she replied, finally, "but I'm not interested in killing you."

Kyou's face clouded, but cleared almost immediately. "Read my denpa, Psychic Girl. You know that isn't what this is about."

Hanajima felt herself starting to break. Why was he doing this? Did he want her to be in pain like this?

Suddenly her mind flashed back to a clear day and a picnic blanket spread out over a grave. Can you see ghosts? he had asked her. And her reply: Of course I can't see them. And: But you. . .your denpa are echoing cruelly right now. Why are you standing in front of that grave and regretting?

And his eyes looking like he'd been slapped.

"Oh," she said. "Is that it."

"Is what it?" Kyou snapped, sounding briefly like his everyday impatient self.

"Is this payback for that time in the graveyard?"

"Who knows? Let's get this over with. Do it."

"No." I won't I won't I won't.

"Do it," said Kyou, inflexible. Like a different person. Or, no, not like a different person--like she were a different person. It wasn't that Kyou didn't concentrate; it was that he only did so on rare occasions. She had felt him this way before, with Tohru. Inflexible.

Hanajima found herself casting around for support. "I--"

"Oh, I don't know, Hana-chan." Uotani had been strangely, uncharacteristically silent up to that point. "Why not?"

'Why not?'!? You know why not! "Uo-cha--"

"He's asking you to," her friend pointed out calmly. She watched as Kyou and the Yankee shared a look that seemed to communicate something. Perhaps, a wild voice said in the swirling panic that her mind was becoming, Uo-chan and Kyou-kun had always understood each other. "Besides, if anyone can take it, he probably can."

Uo-chan grinned then, her manner almost offhanded. "He's always been the won't-die-even-if-you-kill-him type."

Hanajima couldn't even talk.

And then, Kyou leaned towards her slightly, murmuring something.

". . .what?"

"A brother," he said. "Didn't you have a brother named 'Megumi'? What does he think of all this?"

That blew the lid off.

Suddenly, it was just like it had been, back before she'd learned the trick to it, back when she'd heard everything. Voices were pressing in on her from all sides; Uo-chan's voice curiously in favor of the operation, and Tohru's worried "Mother, I don't understand what's happening. . .please protect Hana-chan and Kyou-kun and Yuki-kun and. . . ."

Tohru's voice was always too confusing, too innocent not to burn you. Focus on something else. Voices coming in from everywhere, too many, voices she didn't want to hear, crowding in on her.

Prince Yuki. "That's Kyou's umeboshi," he was thinking to himself. "His talent. He can pick apart any life but his own." For someone usually so polished, his denpa were very raw. "He doesn't even have to know you."


". . .doesn't even have to know you. . .doesn't even know me. . .pick apart anyone's life but his own. . .cruel. . .doesn't think about how it hurts you. . .but he forgave Kazuma-shihan that time, forgave him--I wouldn't have forgiven him (couldn't have forgiven him?), so maybe it's. . .?"

His thoughts were going in circles, hard to follow, making no sense.

"Go ahead, Hanajima-san," he said out loud. "Even if something happened, it's not like it would matter."

Hanajima wondered vaguely how his thoughts could be so jumbled and his words so lucid and cool-sounding.

"He's already the most cursed of all of us."

And then, Kyou.

"Come on, Psychic Girl. You want to do it, don't you? You don't want me to keep talking about Megumi, do you?Are you still worried about what he thinks? Do you seriously think your own mother and father and brother think you're a criminal? Or is it that you're still afraid they're just being nice to you because they have to?"


Give it up. I know. I've known ever since that time in the graveyard. You're like me.

He was.

You smell like me.

He was thinking at her on purpose.

"What do you want?!" she screamed. She couldn't remember screaming since she'd come to this school, ever. She couldn't remember ever losing it like this.

The other three stared at her, shocked.

"You're angry, aren't you?"

Yes. Yes, she was angry.

"Are you seeing red yet?"

Of course she was angry.

"Because it hurts that I'm wrong or because you're afraid of what it would mean if I'm right?"

She was being irrational. He didn't know what he was talking about. Of course he didn't. She was responsible for that boy. He was just picking on her because he was angry at her for reading his denpa in the graveyard that time. But. But.

"You're angry, aren't you?"


"Angrier than you've been in a long time?"

Why wouldn't he stop thinking at her?!

"Then do it. No one will blame you."

She was angry. She was angry.

She hated Souma Kyou.

"I'm not afraid of you."

She hated him.

"I'm not afraid of you at all."

She did it.

He grinned at her.

". . .what?"

Hanajima felt as if she were coming out of a dream.

"Hana-chan. Hana-chan! Open your eyes! Please, open your eyes!"

". . .they are open," she murmured.

She was very tired.

Tohru threw thin arms around her, crying. "Oh, Hana-chan, I'm so glad."


"Hanajima." She looked up, blinking. It was Uo-chan. She was grinning. Why was she grinning? "Look at him, silly." Uotani knocked a fist lightly against her head and pointed in Kyou's direction.

Souma Kyou. Souma Kyou.

"See? He's fine."

. . .fine?

She craned her neck slightly, trying to take in her surroundings.

"Yes! Hana-chan! He's totally fine!" Tohru was smiling even as tears were streaming down her face. A look to Souma Yuki told her that he was in shock, sort of vacant-faced, as if he were trying to make himself not there by pretending not to be there. There was an old pain in his eyes.

And finally, turning her head a little more, Souma Kyou.

There was a tiny smile still hanging about the corner of his mouth.

She could barely breathe.

She was terrified.

"Are you satisfied now?" said the mouth with the smile.

If she dared to believe, it might break her. It might break everything.

Hanajima took a teetering step forward.

And suddenly he was there, catching her gently by the shoulders to keep her from falling against him, an expression on his face that was supposed to be cool and indifferent but wasn't.

"See?" he said, and she realized that she was mere centimeters away from him and her hand was resting lightly on his chest, above his heart. "Still beating. You could hurt me more than that by throwing a book at me."

"Especially if it were her science book," Uotani agreed.

Her friends were smiling at her, and Kyou's heart was still beating and he was standing up and she managed a tiny smile and then a real one.

And then she joined Tohru, bursting into tears.

Both Souma boys immediately looked horrified, and everything seemed to snap back to normal.

"Gyah!" screeched Kyou, jumping away. "What the hell are you crying for? I swear I'm never gonna understand girls!"

Yuki stood and walked up to Tohru. "Honda-san, here, a tissue. . . ."

Through the faint remaining open channel she heard both their denpa in unison: "Psychic Girl cries?!"

"Kyou-kun. . .I. . . ."

He grumbled something, averting his eyes to a point on the ground slightly to her left. "Just stop being afraid of stupid things, then! Stupid girl."

Yes, everything was back to normal.

But. . .but somehow, she couldn't stop smiling.

If you're like me, then I know what you want, Carrots.

"Souma Kyou," she intoned, gathering all her power around her and adopting her most frightening tone. "This debt will be repaid. Oh, yes. Prepare yourself."

She saw him immediately go pale, and laughed softly to herself.

If I'm like you, then you'd better watch out.

Souma Kyou, standing before her, mouth still with a smile at the corner and now quaking in his boots.

"Umeboshi, huh?"