Normal disclaimer applies.

Pebbles does not claim ownership of Furuba characters. But she does lay claim to the candy.

This idea came to me when looking through a Furuba gallery. I saw a few of the pictures and they looked like a distilled moment in time, so I started asking myself questions. "Why does Tohru have sunflowers in her hair?" "What is that book doing there?" "What in heaven's name is Ayame doing?!" Thus, this came to me.

Enjoy.

* at this point Momiji thinks and says some German. All you need to know is that, "Tohru is very heavenly". You'll understand what I mean when you read it.

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"Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures."
-Henry Ward Beecher

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It might take an alchemist
To turn your dust to gold
But it only takes a child to see
The diamonds in the coal
It's not so easy when a habit takes a hold
I never knew it would be so hard
To keep my simple soul

From "Simple Soul" by Eddie Reader


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Momiji burrowed into the picnic basket, pushing aside several plastic Tupperware containers that were filled to the brim with delicious food. "It's gotta be here somewhere!" He shoved aside the onigiri, the sushi and the fried squid. He even managed to ignore the still-steamy dumplings with the cheese filling. Still Momiji plunged deeper, digging past that which he could live without.

His golden hair shone from under his hat, a sailor's hat to match his school ensemble. Haru had told him, in a rather condescending tone, that the school didn't allow hats in class, but he had been so sure his teacher wouldn't mind. Much to his dismay, he had; poor Momiji spent a whole forty-five minutes trying to persuade Mr. Junco not to confiscate his precious hat, let alone allow him to wear it! Honestly, adults could be so whiny sometimes!

"Eureka! I found it!"

His face alit with glee, Momiji pulled from the deep dark depths of the basket a small ziploc bag full of candy.

During lunch, Tohru and her friends had proposed a small picnic after school. It was so sunny and so temperate that he couldn't resist. Such a perfect day must not be wasted! Inspired, he had burst into a song and dance-- with Tohru and her friends looking on fondly at him. Of course this had deeply annoyed Kyou, who promptly set out to stopping his fun.

"Ha! I'll see your fifty and raise you fifteen more!" Over in a nearby patch of grass Tohru's friend Uo and Kyou were playing a card game. Poker, if he had heard them correctly. By the looks of things, Kyou was winning. "You must think pretty highly of yourself Yankee! I'll see your sixty five and raise it to seventy!"

Momiji liked Uo. Not only did she buy him the candy, but also whenever Kyou hit him she hit him back! Not to say that Momiji liked seeing Kyou get hurt. Rather, it was the opposite. However, she hit him in such a playful, mocking way that he knew she didn't want to really harm his cousin. Besides, a knock upside the head every now and then was good for Kyou.

Maybe, if he were lucky, Kyou'd get some common sense from the experience! Oh, what a miracle that would be!

Dumping the candy bag into his upturned hat, Momiji surveyed his precious treasure. There was an array of choices to make here. Choosing which candy to eat first was not for the light of heart. Some people had to have a friend choose for them, but not Momiji! So what would it be- saltwater taffy? Caramel? Lollipop?

Shrugging, he closed his eyed and picked the first sweet that grazed his fingertips. Unwrapping and popping the apple-flavored soft chew into his mouth, Momiji surveyed the rest of his surroundings. Not too far across from Uo and Kyou's card game lay Haru, reclined in a sleeping position with an aloof expression set on his face. His arms were under his head, acting as a temporary pillow.

'Of course, Haru has nothing to fear about sleeping out in the sunshine,' noted Momiji. For some unknown reason the ox had gotten the lucky combination of genetics that allowed him to tan rather than to burn. His copper-brown skin, exposed at the nape where his shirt was unbuttoned, seemed golden under the afternoon sunlight as he softly snored, his chest rising and falling to the beat of its own music.

Momiji sighed in bliss as the cornstarch entered his bloodstream. Suddenly everything seemed brighter, sunnier. Was it just him, or did the sky seem to cast a lively glow upon the trees? Wait—that couldn't be right. "Skies don't glow," Momiji whispered airily. He giggled, wrapped up in the simple joy of it all. And so it was that he continued to watch his companions, content for a moment to be hushed and observant.

Hanajima was under a tree in the distance, the only one mildly separated from the group. She was reading a book of some sort, studying a textbook perhaps, that was cloaked in a green protector. Momiji looked around for another subject; Hana was boring him.

"Honda-san, what are you doing?" He looked up to the top of a nearby hill; well, in all honesty it wasn't even that—nothing but a dirt mound secured by flourishing turf. Still, the bump it created in the scenery was nice to fantasize as a hill. Thus, Tohru and Yuki stood upon this mound, this hill, or whatever it was.

Tohru lay strewn on the ground in a very… odd position. She looked as if she had just fallen to her feet for the emperor, unexpectedly. Her arms were in front of her head, covered in dirt and blades of grass, debris stuck in her hair and green stains on her elbows. Although Momiji couldn't see her knees he had had enough experience with falling down to know that they were probably smeared green too.

Picking herself up, Tohru scratched her head as she began to laugh nervously. "I'm sorry Sohma-san, but I was having so much fun and the grass felt so springy that I wanted to try a cartwheel—oh but that probably sounded silly! I'm sorry I fell and I'm sorry for worrying Sohma-san! I'm okay, I'm just a bit dizzy and--."

Helping her up Yuki quieted her frazzled nerves, soothing her conscious by explaining that yes he had been worried but since she was okay now there was nothing to worry about and no it wasn't silly at all to want to do a cartwheel. Momiji could faintly hear Kyou hissing underneath his breath in the background, an unconscious signal of predatory possessiveness, but poor bunny-boy was already too out of it to acknowledge it any more than as a repetitive asset to the cat's personality.

"Springy?" This new word intrigued Momiji. It tickled his ears and made his tongue shimmer with the luster of a newfound happiness. He turned his attention to the dew mottled grass, running his fingers across the slender shoots and examining it with intensity best bespoken of an artist.

'Springy means… to be spring?'

Momiji thought about Kana, Hatori's old girlfriend. At the time he hadn't been quite old enough to understand what was going on, but looking back on the dim shadow that her figure cast in his mind the usagi vehemently decided that she had been a very springy person.

But that was in the past, in gloomier days. Momiji felt cheery, uplifted, and downright springy—he decided to see what other words he could find that he liked. They did, after all, have such a nice effect on his mood.

"Damn it!" Kyou had lost at cards again, vehemently throwing his cards into the cushiony turf. Beside him sat Uo who was, rather exaggeratedly, inspecting the three-day-old fissured paint that covered her nails. Her victorious grin grew wider with every second that "Orange Top" fumed, self-satisfaction and feminine pride practically oozing from the gaps separating her teeth.

"Noble," Momiji whispered. Yes, Uotani was noble. He liked this word a lot, because of what it meant. He had learned it from Tohru, who had described Yuki as such; And although she was nothing like his stately cousin, Momiji thought that she could be noble too, just a different kind. Kyou threw a particularly vibrant stream of words at Uo, who by now was struggling to retain her mirth. It showed by her quaking shoulders and trembling hands.

'But what word fits Kyou, if Uo is noble?' Momiji glanced back and forth between the neko's orange hair, pepper-red eyes and his mouth (which was letting loose upon the ex-gangster). "Ah-ha!" Momiji knew the perfect word for Kyou! "Spicy." Kyou reminded him of teriyaki, one of the few Japanese foods that his mother had taken to. It was sweet and delicious, but it still burned your tongue with every bite.

Haru hadn't changed position yet. His snowy white bangs flapped over his fluttering eyelids, moving every now and then as the breeze caught them. His button-up uniform top was open all the way, revealing a vibrant crimson shirt and three different necklaces (the likes of which he had been forced to mask under the skeptical eyes of the student-body president).

Momiji smiled warmly as the breeze blew Haru's bangs again, agitating his nose into emitting a sneeze. "Balmy." In his Social Studies class his teacher, Mizuno-sensei, had showed them books about other places in the world. He had rifled through an old and beaten book, the newer, shinier ones taken by his fellow classmates. In it he had seen a picture of a woman sleeping on a beach. The caption had read, "The balmy atmosphere of Jamaica can be very relaxing for tourists." As she lay there sleeping, Momiji had seen something of the ox in the serene expression on her face and placid surroundings.

He also decided that he especially liked this word simply because 'balm' was especially fun to say.

'Balm-balm-balm-balm-balm-balm!'

Captivated by all the wonderful sounding words Momiji stood up, happy to stretch his sleepy legs. He smiled, an idea tugging at the nape of his mind. Flapping his arms about he began to skip around, laughing at the feel of the springy grass under his toes. The candy filled sailor hat that lay at his feet was long since forgotten. "Tohru, look! I'm a bee, see? Do you see me?" Running around in circles Momiji didn't expect the sudden tug to come out and stop his frolicking fun; just as he made ready to pivot on his heel for another go-around Kyou's callused hand on his flaxen head made him stumble, causing him to splatter into a rather undignified heap on the ground.

"God damn it Momiji! Do you know how annoying your voice is?!" For emphasis (which was greatly unneeded, and furthermore unwanted on Momiji's part) Kyou ground his heel into young Momiji's back. Still, it should be noted that he was careful only to bruise and not to break.

"Oh my!" Tohru at once worried for the small child and rushed over to the bunny's side. "Please Kyou-kun, Momiji didn't do anything wrong! Please leave him be!" Kyou frowned. He was angry with himself for making Tohru upset but he was also stubborn; the devil that sat on his shoulder strictly forbade any kind of apologies. His angel would have counterattacked said devil were he not strapped up to an IV needle.

Feh. So what if he'd only have one voice in his head from now on? He could live.

"Waaah! Kyou hurt me!" Tears sprung forth from Momiji's eyes as she struggled under Kyou's insistent foot. Yuki narrowed his eyes at his rival but was slow to make his way over. "Baka neko, let Momiji go." This only served to further infuriate the cat. Momiji winced as Kyou's foot ground harder into his spine. 'Ow-ow-ow.' "Why should I let him up, eh? He's just gonna start dancing around like a sissy again! Damn it, that bugs me!"

As he lay in agony Momiji tried to distract his mind from the pain by keeping up with his game. If he craned his neck a bit he could see the underside of Yuki's face. He was rather miffed, frustrated that his sunny day with Tohru had been interrupted so rudely.

Although Momiji knew that his cousin was pretty (in a male sort of way) he didn't want to call him that; it would seem shallow. He watched as emotions flickered across the boys' faces whilst they argued. 'Yuki is… is… civilized! That's it!' Momiji giggled. Every time he made the "v" sound his bottom lip felt all tickly-prickly and funny.

"Damn it, what are you laughing about runt?!" Momiji couldn't help it. His mouth felt so weird! He continued to laugh, completely absorbed in his fun. Tohru smiled weakly, glad that her friend was feeling happy but slightly anxious about Kyou's still-present foot. "Please Kyou-kun, will you let Momiji go now?" The arrogant neko huffed, trying to hide his unease as he lifted his appendage from its painful resting-place. "There. Happy now?" Tohru looked up at him fondly, her smile warm and forgiving. "Uh-huh. Thank you very much Kyou-kun." Kyou blushed, walking back to a smirking Uotani (who promptly smacked him upside the head in regards to his actions).

Momiji, filled with energy stirred by his happy attitude and the remnants of the sugary apple chew, buoyantly stood up. He clasped his hands up to his chest zealously, his smiling face peering down on a stunned Tohru. She hadn't expected him to recuperate so quickly. "Thank you so very much Tohru-chan! I felt like Kyou was gonna squish me!" Her face broke into a relieved grin, her ocean-blue eyes lighting up with affection. Momiji loved making people happy, but Tohru most of all. "It's alright Momiji-kun! I'm just glad that you're not too hurt!"

Suddenly, he had an idea. Grabbing her by the wrist (But gently-- he didn't want to hurt her.) Momiji began to pull her up the hill (mound, bump, whatever). She frowned, confused by his actions. "Momiji-kun, what are we doing?" The usagi, his face flushed and glowing, continued to ascend. He turned his head to look up at her; he was no longer looming over her, as she was taller standing. "I want to show my thanks to Tohru-chan, so I'm going to teach you how to do a cartwheel!" Her face broke into a starry smile, joy and benevolence oozing out of her eyes and mouth.

Momiji was hit with a memory. It was hazy in his mind, the details cloaked by age. He was younger and sitting in a metal chair. He was in a hospital waiting room, swinging his feet anxiously over the edge of the seat as one last scream permeated the hallway. He smiled, jumping off of the chair in a hurry. As he counted the doors down the hallway his steps quieted, the need for stealth and some primitive instinct urging him to keep quiet. Finally he reached his destination: room #263.

Reaching up to turn the knob, he peeked through the door crack at the scene that lay before him.

The nurses were starting to clean up, relieved that there had been no complications with the birth. They couldn't possibly imagine the relief that his father felt. How horrifying it would have been for his second child to be cursed as well! Momiji took a sharp breath, catching sight of his mother as the nurses began to move away. Her golden hair was matted with sweat; her eyes slack with fatigue. Even so, she looked radiant to Momiji.

Suddenly a nurse came over, a small pink bundle in her arms. She smiled kindly, gently handing the bundle over to his mother. She took in a breath (it was now that he realized he had been holding his) as she pulled back the blanket to kiss her daughter's head. "*Oh- mein Gott, ist sie himmlisch! Mein vollkommener kleiner Engel!" His father bent over, brushing his mother's bangs from her forehead where he gave her a soft kiss. "Our daughter, our Momo." Momiji had left then. They had looked so much like a family, like an exquisite painting of the perfect moment between parents and child.

He didn't belong in that painting anymore.

"Momiji-kun?"

Startled out of his reverie, Momiji turned his attention to Tohru. He hadn't realized that they had reached the top of the hill, let alone that they had stopped. Tohru gazed at him worriedly, recognizing the weary sadness that had soaked his expression. She gently placed her hand in his, giving it a soft squeeze for comfort. Momiji smiled, thankful for her presence. He leaned over close, his breath tickling her ear.

"*Tohru ist sehr himmlisch."

Stunned, all she could do was stand there as Momiji smiled and began to show her the proper position for a perfect cartwheel. She shook her head, forcing her mind to come back into the real world. "-- and then you spread your fingers like this, see?" He showed her his hand, his fingers wiggling in anticipation of the grass. She copied his instructions, listening intently as he lectured about balance.

Multiple crashes, near successes and grass stains later, Momiji sat patiently at the top of the hill as Tohru huffed determinedly back up. Although she her uniform was speckled with dirt and her hair littered with grass blades her expression was one of blissful persistence. "You almost made it that time Tohru-chan! You just need to keep your feet a little straighter this time, okay? Remember to balance yourself!" He smiled at his prodigy as she wordlessly set her stature up for another attempt.

Down below them, he noticed, things were becoming interesting. Kyou, Uo and Hana were engaged in a game of cards. This wouldn't have seemed odd at all if Haru's head were not residing in Hana's lap. This position was reached through a rather comedic exchange of dialogue. Haru had woken up at some point, engaging Yuki in conversation. However, their noisy cousin was constantly interrupting them.

As Kyou repetitively lost in cards he became riled up, vehemently cursing out the oft-laughing Yankee. At one point he had gotten too hotheaded, angrily throwing down his cards as he stood. However just as he began shaking his fist he shrieked, grabbing his nose. This only further grabbed Yuki and Haru's attentions.

Hana had shocked him.

(It was around this time that Momiji had dubbed Hana's word to be, 'sparkly', mainly because of her electric signals.)

The girl in question had slowly stood up, brushing away any dirt that was on her navy skirt. Momiji found it incredibly amusing how Kyou had avoided getting near her as she abandoned her tree and approached him, her gaze aloof and apathetic. Although he didn't know Hanajima half as well as Tohru or Uo, she had done nothing to him to instigate in him any sense of foreboding. Her electric talents, as far as Momiji had seen, were merely used to ward off Yuki's disturbing fan club.

Hana had chastised Kyou (it had been so hard to keep his giggles in!), complaining about how loud his voice would rise and how sensitive he was to losing. This had hurt the neko's pride, a great source of power to Kyou. He had retaliated, challenging her to a game of cards. ("If you're so picky, than you play! Whoever wins gets two thousand yen!") But Hana had been unimpressed. Momentarily taking the time to offer Yuki her book, she had joined a fuming Kyou and a hysterical Uo (she had stopped trying to hold in her laughter a long time ago) in their game.

And she had beaten him. Six times in a row.

"OOMPH!" Tohru lay in a jumble at the foot of the hill, her hair in disarray. Momiji quickly looked her over, searching for any injuries. When he came to the conclusion that she had nothing but a new stain on her knee, he sighed in relief. She climbed up to him, ready to try again.

As Yuki emerged himself within the words of Hana's book (he'd have to find out what she had been reading. It looked interesting!) Haru had been disgruntled and at a loss of a conversational partner. So, in a fashion typical of the ox, he opted to return to his slumber. However something had drawn him to the three card players; something in their interaction, Momiji supposed, had interested Haru.

"That was better than your last one Tohru! Don't lift your head this time; trust yourself to stay balanced. You can do it!"

Next thing he knew his drowsy cousin was standing over Hana, talking to her in slow, quiet tones (he was complaining about how hard the ground was on his arms and head). She had smiled at him at some point, wordlessly giving him permission, as the next thing Momiji knew when he looked up at them his head was in her lap, her fingers idly brushing through his hair.

This didn't phase Yuki and Uotani in the least. It seemed that being around Hatsuharu had conditioned them to his personality, finding the gesture harmless. (He had noted, however, Uo's smirk as she noticed Hana playing with his hair.) Kyou, however, was another story altogether.

Already peeved at losing to the pensive denpa his eye had twitched a bit before he sped off in another verbal argument, launching off in a lengthy vendetta towards the dark girl. Haru, lulled by the rhythmic feel of Hana's fingers and the spring breeze, had opened an eye just in time to see her signature sparks dance on Kyou's already burnt nose. He smirked as Kyou howled, closing his eyes to return to blissful reverie. And so there they were, the three of them playing cards with Yuki reading not too far away.

It took Tohru a moment to realize that she hadn't crashed at the bottom like she had done countless times before. As realization sank in, she began to dance around, her face glowing with her victory. Momiji leapt up to join her. They danced in a circle, spinning around innocently until they fell to the ground quite dizzy.

"Hey Tohru, way to go! You finally got it!" Uo saluted her friend, pride and self-satisfaction lighting up her face. Yuki put down his book to walk over to them, helping them to stand. "Congratulations Honda-san. I'm proud of you." Tohru blushed, stumbling over her words. "Th-thank you Sohma-san! I'm very happy; I thought I'd never get that right!"

Kyou folded his arms over his chest, stubborn against any public display of affection. However Momiji spotted a few sparks near his nose as he curtly yelped with pain. "Yeah… good job and-- stuff." His cheeks turned red with his blush as he hung his head. Hana lay her cards down, whispering something in Haru's ear. The ox sighed and lifted himself from her lap as she stood, walking over to the long since forgotten picnic basket. "Oh, Tohru--," he turned, his eyelids already falling, "nice cartwheel."

Tohru blushed, unused to all the attention she was getting as Haru lay back down, close enough to the group as to retain a good ear of the conversations.

Momiji snuck away from them for a moment, looking around in the grass suspiciously. Suddenly the item of his desire came into view; digging furiously through his hat the usagi was relieved to find that none of his candy had been eaten. A swell of victory puffed up the boy's chest as he unwrapped a caramel, the sweet sticky substance delighting his tongue.

"Tohru, please come with me." Hana had returned, a clean shirt draped over her arm. She and Tohru retreated to the tree for a moment, sparkles flying furiously over Hana's head as she kept any wandering eyes at bay (or rather, threatened them, as none of their eyes would have wandered regardless). When they returned Tohru's shirt was clean, her first top (grass stained into laundry oblivion) being rustled into the picnic basket by Hana.

While she had the lid open, Hana also pulled forth a hairbrush. As Tohru immersed herself into conversation with Yuki (who had put down the book in favor of her company) the denpa gracefully brushed her long Prussian skirt under her knees, sitting beside her friend as she proceeded to return to the chocolate-brown strands some sort of order. Grass blades fluttered down to meet their thriving brethren as her steady strokes pulled at tangles.

More than once did Momiji catch the napping Haru crack a lazy eye, his wistful gaze resting on the gentle denpa.

"Damn it! That's the twenty-second time!" Kyou threw his cards to the ground, cursing a lucid streak at his luck (or rather his lack of it). Uo reached out, pocketing the paper yen with an air of triumph as she gathered the cards to her again. "Come on Orange Top, don't quit now! I've got to reach my goal of thirty!" She laughed as she ducked an angry punch from her opponent, hastily standing to run off with Kyou in pursuit. Her laughter could be heard even as they ran over and around the hill, exchanging petty blows. Hana sighed in content. "Such lovely electrical waves."

Momiji, who was waiting near Tohru for his turn to have his hair brushed, smiled in happiness.

Oh yeah. Life, for now, was good.