The sensei droned on and on in the background.

On and on and on. . .

It was one of those interminable lessons where the subject matter just kept cramming on in, an endless tide of data.

It didn't help that it was poetry. . . not Touya's favourite subject. Poetry, music and drama. Possibly the three things he had the least talent for.

It didn't help that it was a sunny spring day, either, or that he was sat by the window in a stream of irritatingly hot and bright blinding sunlight. Touya tried to inconspicuously shuffle his chair backwards out of the beam, under the drone of the sensei's voice. Outside, the sky was a brilliant clear blue, cloudless and bright under the sun. Judging by the shuffles and groans of the rest of the class, he wasn't the only one who would prefer to be relaxing in it rather than sweltering in this stuffy classroom. Touya narrowed his eyes. . . sensei probably wouldn't notice if he cracked open the window a little.

". . . and the next chapter. . ."

And probably the next one after that. . . and from the tone of her voice, the next one as well. Touya closed his eyes. Was there no end to the stuff? Surely the poet *had* to have got tired at some point? The worst of it was, they'd be set an essay to write on the subject at the end of the class, just to make sure they were paying attention. . .

And he was. Sort of. Just because he'd missed the last few lines. . . phrases. . . paragraphs of the endless mush didn't mean he hadn't been paying attention.

Touya sighed and flicked over the page he'd missed, until his eye was caught by something moving outside the window.

Huh. Basketball team. Touya didn't play basketball, but he was captain of the football team. . .

Okay, focus Touya. What did sensei just say?

Who knew? And who cared? Everyone else had practically nodded off, anyway, one more person wouldn't matter.

Carefully, Touya inched the window down with a deafening squeak that defeated the object of being discreet in the first place, but it only earned him a long-suffering look from the sensei, who was acting like she was finding the lesson every bit as long as her students.

Ah, that was better. . . the breeze curled in, fresh and sweet-smelling. It always surprised him when the scent of the flowers, which were beginning to flourish after the dead of winter, changed the air.

He was staring out of the window again. His fingers unconsciously turned the page and he watched. . . why *was* he staring out of the window, anyway? People were moving about, bright and distant on the pitch, and there was the dull thud of basketballs hitting the ground, but it wasn't that intrusive. . . oh, wait.

Touya squinted and made out a familiar figure jauntily bouncing a ball in the shade near the edge of the pitch. Ah. Yukito-san. That would be the reason.

Touya frowned and looked back at the poetry, feeling uncomfortable. He was still looking, though, out of the corner of his eye. Yukito was dribbling the ball now, leaning forward slightly to give his run a little weight. Not that he needed it. Yukito, the one-man basketball team, shot forward. To the untrained eye a short, friendly and fairly ordinary-looking person, apart from the beautiful amber eyes and the sweet smile-

no, bad sign. Not the smile.

Touya was smiling now though, humour tugging at his lips. Some poor guy down there was pitted against Yukito, probably sweating with fear and the prescience of inevitable humiliation - not that Yuki would ever intentionally humiliate someone, datte. . .

Yup. In it went. Touya would swear blind that sometimes Yuki magnetised the ball. He stifled the grin of amusement that threatened to break out, and shifted sideways just a little-

"Kinomoto Touya?" Sensei rapped out lightly, making him jump. He'd been caught.

"Um, Hai?"

But the sensei smiled at him, looking relieved. Why was she looking relieved. . . ?

"I'm glad you're enjoying the poem. . . tell me, what do you find interesting about it?"

. . . enjoying. . . ?. . .


In her words was the earnest plea of a teacher who was being stretched to her very limits to make the subject interesting, and had seized on Touya's smile as a sign of enjoyment.

Touya sweatdropped and looked rapidly from side to side for an answer.

"Ano. . . ano. . . " he scanned the page for some random passage to read - and hoped that it was the right page.

" Ano. . . 'and under a blazing silken sky, the sun shone like. . . gold?'" Obviously not one of the more imaginative lines. Touya chanced a sidelong look at the sensei, who was positively beaming at this albeit completely expressionless display of 'enthusiasm'.

"Very good! And why do you like this passage?"

"It's. . . full of. . . life." Touya muttered and was aware that the rest of the class were giving him funny looks. He just knew his face was redder than a ripe tomato, something the sensei failed utterly to recognise. If anything, her beam grew wider.

"All right everybody!" She actually rubbed her hands together, "I think we've read enough for today, so . . . instead of giving you an essay, I think it would be better if you wrote your own versions of this poem."

Please no. . .

"You can base it on anything you like. . . but. . . something Springlike, ne? It's a lovely day out there, so. . . let's try out some ideas. . ." She began writing on the board.

Agh. Touya sat back and eyed the page in disbelief. He had to *write* a poem? Writing *about* a poem was easy. You analysed the language, you added a couple of opinions, you might stick on a conclusion, and you scribbled it down in paragraph-sized chunks. But *writing* a poem? About spring? Maybe he could work football into there somewhere. Or ask someone else for advice; the background was filled with the murmur of his classmates sharing ideas. Unfortunately, the problem was the person he'd usually be sharing ideas with was playing outside in a basketball match.

From the sound of it, probably single-handedly winning the basketball match. Yukito was a good writer, too, much better than Touya. He would be good at this.

Touya shook his head and defiantly set pen to paper.

Blue sky, warm sun. . .

Run, fun. . . what else rhymed with sun? Under the sun I like to run. . . it's fun to run beneath the sun- Touya snorted; this really wasn't working. He tuned back into the sensei, advising them on how to start writing.

". . . try to think of something that reminds you of spring, rather than just the obvious. . . the weather, the longer days, the smell of the flowers . . . Something that sums the. . . the *feeling* of spring up for you. . ."

Well, that was helpful . . . tapping away with his pen, Touya felt a thought bubble up, and froze. Not a chance. Not the chance of a snowflake in a frying pan after the frying pan was filled with boiling oil, set alight and melted down for scrap metal afterwards.

Boiling oil?

Food. Food would be good to write about. If he could think of something particularly springlike to eat. What was he going to be cooking tonight? It was his turn to do the meal today. . . not Sakura's, thankfully. Touya smiled at the thought of his little sister frantically brandishing her last offering, stuck to the tray it was cooked on, trying to waft away the smoke with a tea towel, which had promptly got charcoaled by the hot food. He grinned mentally, so as not to attract the attention of the sensei; Sakura was a reasonable cook - not that he'd ever tell her that it - but, well, she tended to panic a little when things got out of hand, and since most of the time, things *did* get out of hand while she was thinking about something else - probably Yukito. . . .

Yukito was always eating, and he would eat just about anything - including Sakura's latest culinary catastrophe. It was frankly incredible the amount the short, slender, completely normal-looking guy could put away in just one sitting. And yet he never put on any weight at all, no matter how much he ate-

. . . drats, he was worse than Sakura.

But maybe it was excusable. This lesson was unbelievably boring. . . casually, Touya tilted his chair sideways and peered out again. The match was still going on down there. Everyone was looking parched, exhausted or was yawning from standing around in the heat. Well, one exception of course . . . Touya shrugged mentally. It must be the food. Where else was Yukito getting all that energy from? Unless. . .

He'd always known there was something different about Yukito. He had talked to him, more than once, about his encounters with ghosts. No-one else he knew could see them, not even Sakura, and he could sense that she had quite strong magical powers. They differed from his, though, in that she could sense but not actually *see* the presence of ghosts - which was just as well, given her fear of them. It was hard to explain what *he* saw and felt when one was near, but his visions of ghosts were quite clear, and around Yukito, ever-present and sometimes pale, sometimes strong, waxing and waning like the phases of the moon, there was. . . something. . . a power, a magic. It wasn't Yukito's, exactly, although they were linked. But the more he thought about it, the more he was convinced that it wasn't a magical power precisely. It was more like a ghost, a personality, an unrestful spirit. . .

Unrestful spirit, indeed. Touya dismissed his concerns about it. Yukito had never seemed to suffer any ill effects from his mysterious aura, and he had been this way since they'd met.

That had been in springtime, like today. . .

By this time, Touya had dropped all pretence of trying to write, and sat with his chin cupped by his hand, watching the progress of the game. Yukito was *still* running around the pitch while most of the others flopped down to watch the remaining few gamely struggling on. Touya concealed his amusement behind his hand, although there wasn't really any need.

Yuki jumped up to score another basket, soft hair flopping over his face, and time seemed to slow slightly as he arced upward, dropped the ball through the hoop, landed again. Sound carried well today in the calm air; a fraction of a second after he hit the ground, Touya heard the thud. It echoed a little, but flatly, the way sounds do in warm air.

//he knows I'm watching.//

That was ridiculous. Paranoid, onnichan, paranoid. It wouldn't mean anything, anyway - of course he was watching: he was interested in sport and not particularly interested in writing. But he couldn't shake the feeling. . . of himself being watched.

Realisation slowly dawned on Touya. That shadow. . . over his desk. . . that shadow which was not cast by the wall. Slowly, he turned. Quickly, he jerked back from the wryly smiling face of his sensei.

"Ohayo, Touya Kinomoto. . . welcome back to the class."

A couple of students snickered good-naturedly, but most of them were absorbed in their work. As he should have been. Fortunately, this sensei was somewhat more tolerant and helpful than, for instance, his math tutor, and indicated he should show her what he'd done so far by seating herself opposite and saying "Come on, let's see what you've got so far. . ."

Reluctantly, Touya handed over the paper he'd started on.

Then he blinked. He could have sworn he hadn't written that much the last time he'd concentrated on the actual work he was meant to be doing.

He read the words.


Sensei read the words and raised an eyebrow.

"Well, I'm impressed. . . quite an unusual approach, for you. . ." Sensei re-read a passage. "So, tell me, what inspired this one?"

Touya scanned her question for sarcasm. . . . she seemed to be genuinely interested.

"Ano, I was. . ." He shrugged "looking outside. I don't know, really."

Sensei's eyes crinkled up at the corners. "Ah, right, well, don't make a habit out of it, ne? Good work, Touya," she sounded surprised. She didn't *have* to sound so surprised. Still, Touya watched her departure with relief and quickly stuffed the page in his bag where no-one else could get hold of it.

He'd better make sure Yukito never saw it.

Time to close the window and put a barrier between him and any more distractions. He reached up, and then paused. Yukito had finally given up beating the basketball club at basketball and was talking to the coach, who was in all likelihood begging him to join the team again. Then Yukito glanced up, casually, and waved at Touya.

//Drats. I *knew* he was watching.//

Secretly pleased, Touya waved back.

Well, maybe. . . almost never.

Blue sky, bright eyes like the sun

Dancing smile when you run

Springtime when the sky glows blue

Is reborn in you.