A/N: Hey, folks. For those of you who know me from the HiME fandom...ahaha...my deepest apologies? I meant to work on Wind, really I did, but this is a plotbunny that just wouldn't let go no matter how hard I shook my foot, so I wrote it all out this morning.

Please tell me if they're too OOC here- and keep in mind that what Himiko thinks Kaon's feeling isn't necessarily true. But, erm, constructive criticism would be nice. Please review? I'll probably write more either way, but it's definitely nice to know at least someone's enjoying it. (also, my writing style ate itself again. pray ignore...oddness) Lastly, this is bound to be full of typos (despite my read-over), but if one factors in my lack of sleep and/or caffeine I think I did a fair job. If anyone spots one, could they let me know? Anyhow, hah...enjoy?

Disclaimer: Not owning any bit of Kyoshiro, folks. But if I did, that idiot of a main character would have been run over by a steamroller. Multiple times.


Mid-afternoon on a Thursday finds Himiko contently secluded in a seldom-used training room on Mika-sama's campus, sketchbook spread on her lap, pencil idly shading the leaf on her rendition of a tree that grows outside. It isn't very good –she has never quite been able to draw branches– but it passes the time nicely, and it's only the five chimes of the bell that jolt her out of her half-daydream when she realises it's already nearly evening.

Mika-sama will be done watching her train by now- has probably been done for a good five minutes, and if Himiko isn't there when she's wanted there's bound to be unpleasantness. In order to avoid this, she jumps hastily to her feet and rushes for the door, catching herself just before she exits –mustn't run on campus, Mika-sama hates that– and walking casually through. Still lost in a world of pencil strokes and imagined brushes on canvas, she collides with another person with a gasp and the faintest caught scent of rain and gardenias.

As a pair of arms steadies her, she looks up while preparing to apologise to who's sure to be one of Mika-sama's handmaidens- and is staggered by the unblinking girl who is currently supporting her while looking...hurt.

What…?

Second glance reveals a vastly different Murakumo than she usually glimpses in passing; the girl's dark hair is in partial disarray, her eyes more weary than Himiko has ever seen them, and a bruise is forming on the left side of her face. Her first instinct is to ask if the girl is alright, but then she remembers that this is Ka- Murakumo-sama, and oh gods has she really just walked into

She stumbles back frantically, even while noticing that the girl seems to be favouring her right side.

All this just from sparring?

But Mika-sama spares nothing, she knows this, so it really shouldn't be so startling, yet…

It must be painful…

It takes her a moment more to realise she's been staring for far longer than she should, and her mouth struggles to form an adequate apology.

"Ah, K-Kaon-ch- Murakumo-sama! I- I'm so sorry, I- wasn't thinking and you- I didn't mean-"

But instead of snapping or raising a hand for her clumsiness and slip –the latter must have gone unnoticed, must have– the other girl bends down –gods, but Himiko has never seen such a simple action look so graceful– and lifts the sketchbook she wasn't aware she'd dropped with a long-fingered hand. As she raises it to face-height and flips to the first page in cool disinterest, Himiko's body goes rigid. Because if the girl looks- if she sees–

But after the fifth page the book is handed to her almost casually, those dark eyes giving nothing away. Himiko thanks whatever gods may be listening, because surely the punishment for presuming to capture –Kaon-chan– Mika-sama's sword on paper is death, or near it.

"This belongs to you, does it not?" the girl asks with just the right amount of polite disinterest that is only slightly tempered by the unusually hoarse tone of her voice. Her eyes, though…they almost convey a sense of being contrite, or perhaps…shy? She gives a minute shake of her head- this is beginning to seem like a dream.

Himiko eyes the girl's side, remembers the gasp that was more pain than surprise when they collided, and wonders that she can walk when her rib must be cracked if not broken. Still, all her injuries are said to heal quickly- it's probably nothing to her, so why is Himiko suddenly filled with worry?

Suddenly she remembers she's meant to be answering, and nearly squeaks the words out in her haste as she almost grabs her sketchbook back.

"Y-Yes, thank you very much, I- I'm really grateful for-"

It belatedly occurs to her that she sounds like a babbling idiot, and to make up for it she opens her mouth and says the last thing she would ever have considered had she not been in such a daze.

"Murakumo-sama, do…you paint?"

She realises what she's said a second after the words leave her mouth, immediately casting her eyes downwards, arms stiff at her sides. If no punishment came before, surely there must be one now. But when she hasn't been rebuked or thrown through the wall, she chances a glance upwards and is met with eyes as shocked as hers- shocked but not angry.

Her face must be red –she can feel it– but something makes her hold that curious gaze for all of three seconds, and then the other girl's eyes seem to change somehow. It's as if, for a moment, she's being looked back at, not simply looked at.

"I do not," the girl replies, and for an oddly disappointing moment Himiko thinks that's all, but then she continues, almost apologetically, "Mika-sama thinks it an inadequate use of time outside of classes."

She has to fight the urge to blink, because if she doesn't know better she'd say the other girl sounds…hesitant.

'And what do you think?' she'd ask if she dared. But it's not the kind of thing she'd say even under normal circumstances, and these are anything but that.

"I see," she mumbles, her eyes staring desperately to the side again. This whole conversation, if it could be called that, has taken on a tinge of unreality. But she looks back in time to see those blue eyes shift again and, unfathomably, it drives a spike through her chest. As the girl's head starts to turn she realises she may be about to lose something unnameable but nonetheless precious, so she reaches forward with her hand and blurts out the first thing that comes to mind.

"If- if you wanted to learn, I could- teach…you…sometime?" It becomes more whispered question than offer, and once the stunned feeling wears off she flinches, horrified, wondering how she could ever have dared to–

"I am-" she hears, and lifts her head so quickly it feels like whiplash. The girl is the one looking away now, her face so carefully impassive that Himiko somehow knows it is not. "I do not think…I am suited for it–"

Her heart, unreasonably –what else were you expecting, silly girl?–, drops into her stomach.

"–but if you…would consent to me watching, then…"

It takes a moment for Himiko to realise that this is also an offer; partly because it is the last thing she expected, and also because the question is hidden under so many veils that it is barely discernable as such; she suddenly feels a strong urge to hug this girl, who must be so lonely without even knowing it.

But when deep blue flicks up to stare at her she wonders if she's imagined the whole thing, because that gaze is made up of ice and poorly concealed –affected?– scorn. Could all this have been a ruse? She feels more than a bit sick at the thought- but no, this girl…can be kind, she's sure of it. And if she lets this chance go now…

"Yes! I mean, of course- if that's alright, I- my room is near Mika-sama's quarters, below- it's complicated- I'll wait outside? So- so you won't get lost, or- and then we could…I'll choose something, and you can…watch…"

She really, really doesn't know why she's babbling this much. Or perhaps she does- because this is a conversation now, if not a bit one-sided, and she's giddy and terrified all at once. No matter that no one said anything about going to her room, or that it's highly unlikely the girl would get lost in the place she's spent nearly half her life in- all she can think of now is that she agreed.

When Himiko is able to make herself look up again she is being regarded with something that might be amusement- but not scornful amusement, and she's struck by a vast sense of relief. She was right- this girl can be kind. It strikes her that she can also be cruel, and that scares her a bit, but right now there is nothing but perplexed laughter hidden in those eyes.

She blinks, lavender eyes wide with embarrassment, and is about to apologise profusely for babbling when the other girl speaks again.

"Does tomorrow suit you? In the late afternoon, as I would be occupied until then."

The way the simple plan of arrangement is worded, so formally, makes Himiko slightly sad again, but this is overshadowed by excitement. "Whatever you like!" she says perhaps a bit too enthusiastically, but again there is no rebuke, only the slight softening of dark, engaging blue.

"Tomorrow, then."

The girl turns, blue-black hair waving, and strides around the side of the house with the same manner with which she always carries herself. And yet Himiko wonders, with a small smile, if she could make her look like that –maskless, startled, her age– again, for just a moment. If, that is, she could work up the courage.

As she stands there, hand still loosely gripping her sketchbook, the full weight of what's just happened hits her. Murakumo no Kaon, Mika-sama's sword, is going to be in her room. Tomorrow. To watch her sketch. She wonders if she's ever been more nervous, more happy.