A/N: Do not own. Never will. This was originally a songfic to "Pinball Wizard" by The Who. I suggest you read the lyrics, and have fun with the odd parallels – I did.

Pinball Wizard

I spent today watching Honda-san.

Well, I suppose that's not really an unusual activity. I have to admit that when she's around I pay attention. She's just like that.

But today I watched – really watched – and somehow, it was a little surprising. I don't know why.

Before we left for school, she almost fell down the stairs. I heard her make an odd noise, halfway between a squeak and a shriek, and ran out of my room. However, the idiotic Cat was already there, and seemingly had yanked her back by the wrist. (That's a very stupid way to catch someone. Honda-san was rubbing it for a while afterwards.)

"Are you all right?" I asked.

"Wha – oh, yes!" she replied. "I'm sorry for disturbing you."

"Just be more careful," the Idiot said. "You're gonna hurt yourself some day."

"I'm sorry!" she cried, bowing vigorously. "I don't want to worry you! And thank you very much, Kyo-kun!"

"Sure," he muttered irritably, and thudded down the stairs. I glared after him; Honda-san was obviously a bit shaken, and he was not helping the situation.

"I'm sorry, Yuki-kun," she said softly.

"Not at all." I smiled in what I hoped was a calm, reassuring manner. "I'm just glad you're all right."

On the way to school – we were all walking together – the fan club members were performing their horrible routine. I closed my eyes in pain and kept walking.

"We love Yuki – Yuki – Yuki!

L-O-V-E - "

I gritted my teeth. The Cat snickered.

"You know, Yuki-kun," Honda-san said, quite out of the blue, "Kinomoto-san and the others are very dedicated."

I blinked. "I suppose they are. Overly so, actually."

"Hey!" Uotani-san caught up, hearing the tail end of the conversation. "The Prince doesn't like his fans, huh? How sad."

"Indeed," a soft voice agreed. Hanajima-san had once again appeared in an uncanny and inexplicable manner. "I know it causes them much pain."

I winced. Uotani-san laughed. "I didn't ask them to become obsessed," I said. I knew I sounded irritable, but really, this was not shaping up to be a good day.

I wasn't quite recovered from my older brother's visit a few days before. He was almost – well, close – an actual brothersomeone I could care about and turn too. In his insane, egomaniac way he tried to help. I let him. And then he whipped out that infernal cell phone and called Hatori. The bit of family that I could relate to was gone. And I had that idiotic vow embroidered on one of my favorite shirts. I couldn't very well wear it now, but ripping it all out would take a really long time. And as much as it annoyed me, I wasn't quite able to bring myself to, well, erase it. Perhaps…

Never mind.

I hadn't slept well, the stupid Cat that been there for Honda-san instead of me, and now the shriek of "Prince Yuki!" was grating on my brain.


"Eh?" I snapped out of my gloomy string of thoughts.

"Are you all right?"

"Yes. And…thank you, Honda-san."

Pay attention to her, I told myself. Stop being self-obsessed. She doesn't normally come that close to actually injuring herself. You need to keep an eye on her.

In the hallway, I noticed more than ever that she didn't really seem to be paying attention to where she was going. Uotani-san and Hanajima-san were always next to her.

And yet, she never, ever, seems feeble or dependent. Honda-san has to be the strongest person I know. But it's as if she's meant for something else. This school, full of cliques and stupidity and silly fights and immature romances - and fangirls – (perish the thought) isn't really where she belongs. She's too, well, nice. She's gentle and understanding and kind and – I have to admit – a little dense sometimes.

I glanced over at her periodically during the first class. All seemed normal. Once I caught the Cat's eye, and I realized that he was worried about her too. Of course, we exchanged glares, and only went back to taking notes when the teacher coughed pointedly.

Stupid Cat.

At lunchtime, I excited the classroom after most of the other students had streamed out. Lo and behold, Minegawa-san was standing – well, lurking, really – outside. I swallowed. My last encounter with her had been a little unnerving. I hoped I could avoid hurting or offending her, but, if it was at all possible, I wanted to get away.

She started over purposefully. I looked for an escape route.

There wasn't one.

This is very, very stupid! I thought. Heaven knows where Honda-san's gotten to, probably with only the Cat to look out for her, if he's even there…and Uotani-san…and Hanajima-san…

Face it. You're just following her like a lovesick puppy for absolutely no reason.

"Yuki," she started, "I have been wanting to tell you that - "

"Yuki-kun, are you – oh, I'm sorry." Honda-san appeared around the corner. "Good afternoon, Minegawa-san," she continued, bowing.

Some interesting expressions crossed Minegawa-san's face. Finally, with an effort, she said "Hello, Honda-san."

She smiled, her expression perfectly warm and open. "Yuki-kun, since it was so nice to have everyone together for lunch the other day, we are trying to do it again. Can you come?"

I nodded.

"Would you like to join us?" she asked the other girl. The question was completely innocent, not intended to be a barb or a condescension, but Minegawa-san flinched.

"No," she answered. "I…I…I think I'd better not. Other plans. Thank you, Honda-san. Goodbye, Yuki."

She swept away, her long hair trailing behind her.

"Umm...Yuki-kun?" Honda-san said. "Did I offended Minegawa-san somehow?"

"No. I don't think so."

"Good." She smiled again, relieved.

During lunch, Honda-san seemed fairly happy, asking everyone how their classes had been, even Haru, who noncommittally murmured "Okay, I suppose." Momiji laughed, chattered, and bounced as usual.

"It was wonderful, Tohru!" he exclaimed. "Everyone was really nice today! Even if they are kind of scared of Haru right now."

"Yep," said Haru mildly, gazing at the clouds.

"Still freaked out by the rampage, are they?" Uotani-san inquired cheerfully.

"You could say that," Haru answered.

"I am not surprised," Hanajima-san whispered.

"Well, yeah," the stupid Cat said. "Haru gets pretty weird once he snaps. I'd be staying away."

"Well, why aren't you?" I asked irritably. "I think we'd all be relieved."

"You - "

"EH!" Honda-san interrupted, and blushed when we all looked at her. "Umm, well, since we have some time before the bell, let's all play cards or something."

"Awesome!" Uotani-san cracked her knuckles. "You're gonna die yet again, Orangey."

When the bell rang Uotani and the Cat were still going at it, complete with yelling and death threats. They kept at it on the way to class. Honda-san watched them a little worriedly, but smiling. And I realized that she's tripping and stumbling beautifully through life, and not knowing at all.

She brings out the best in people. (Except, perhaps, Shigure and my brother.)

Since I was younger, ever since I started going to school, I've worked on being polite and well-liked. Though that did backfire. I'm just now starting to be able to act simply as myself.

But all the same, I try to tolerate, understand, cooperate with the people around me. And I'm learning to talk to them, too. But she, she just knows.

We're all drawn to her, the Juunishi. No, she doesn't know what it's like, but she's ready to listen, console. She's maybe the first truly compassionate person I've ever known. But she's blind.

Even look at her friends. There's Uotani-san: loud and rough and violent – and to her, startlingly gentle. And Hanajima-san, so utterly mysterious and impassive, but always, underneath, looking out for Honda-san.

Maybe she needs them, maybe she doesn't. Though she loves them. But they need her. For all their protectiveness, without her they'd be lost.

Us, too.

Even the Cat is a little better around her, I have to admit.

And yet, she doesn't know a thing.

Coming home late from school, I saw her shadow through the paper wall, and smiled.


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