Notes and Disclaimers: The characters in this story are the sole possession of CLAMP and all their corporate partners. No copyright infringement is intended. I hoped only to play around a little and have some fun. (Updated 11/20/03)
This story is dedicated to the Lady Murasaki, who wrote the world’s first novel, Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji.) It is pretty much a long shoujo soap opera about a bishounen, his clothes, and his women, but it has some delightfully sublime moments.
WSF is also a member of The Fanfic Revolution, because fanfic doesn’t have to suck.
Please let me know if you enjoy this at firstname.lastname@example.org
Scenes From a Spring Day
Yukito slid the screen open, then moved back into the room, settling himself lightly on the cushion. A slight breeze ruffled his hair and he closed his eyes, enjoying its fresh scent. Under the warm spring current, the passing cold of winter lay as a darker undertone, smelling of ice and pine. He relaxed his body, breathing deeply, and sought to think of nothing.
At last he felt ready and opened his eyes. He swiftly mixed some ink and dipped a delicate brush into the black pool. Again his eyes closed, but only for a brief moment. Without conscious effort he began to trace characters on the paper.
The mountain is strong
And proof against time’s onslaught
Is it as strong against love?
He sat back in surprise – this wasn’t at all what he had meant to write! He blew his bangs out of his eyes, closed his eyes once again and with a firm grip on the brush, placed in once again in the puddle of ink.
The wild goose calls for his mate
Is there an answer
Echoing over the lake?
He stared with fascination at the words that seemed to be flowing unbidden from his brush. Maybe a change of meter would help. He reached into his mind for a different verse.
The cherry blossom’s
Life is so short and bitter
But sweetness lasts no
Longer for the hardy pear
Phew! That was more like it! His teacher didn’t like the “sentimental trash” of love conflicting with the pure essence of his calligraphy. Yukito smiled wryly at Sensei’s often-heard opinions about modern poetry. Still smiling, he wrote again; the ink, now fading, left the words looking incomplete and truculent.
The boat on the waves
Is tossed by the stormy wind
No more than my heart
Is tossed by my thoughts of you
Gah. Sensei would kill him. Yukito stared out into the yard, watching a single sparrow collecting twigs from the bushes.
“I’d better get out there today and rake.” Yukito’s voice startled the bird, who flew away. He laughed, at the bird and his own flighty thoughts. Why couldn’t he settle down today?
The mandarin duck
Spreads his wings contentedly
Over his mate’s back
Who will I spread my wings for?
Yukito stared wide-eyed at the paper for a full minute, then burst out laughing. Obviously, today was not the day to practice calligraphy. He carefully cleaned his brushes, packed his inkstone and pen and put them all aside.
It was time to take a walk. “I wonder what To-ya is up to right now?” he said out loud, startling the same sparrow once again.
Sakura chewed on the end of the pen in frustration. Math was bad enough, but this assignment was impossible! What kind of teacher would make them stay in and write poetry when the weather was so nice out?
She stared down at the blank paper, depressed at its clean whiteness, so unmarred by words of any kind. Sheesh, Tomoyo probably had done this homework assignment already – and written three extra poems for the fun of it, too.
Kero-chan was playing a video game and the music was annoyingly intrusive. Sakura knew that if she yelled at him, it was only because she was annoyed with herself. She sighed heavily and glanced out the window at the sunlit day.
“Okay,” she spoke outloud to herself, “you write two poems now and I’ll let you go outside for a little while. Then tonight you can finish the other poem.” She nodded in agreement with herself and placed the pen on the paper.
Your eyes are lit up
With happiness and joy
I feel my heart warm
“Bleah!” She commented and quickly crossed out the haiku. Even if it did remind her of Tomoyo.
The hawk sweeps down
From the sky to catch its prey
With a single mind
That was a bit better – sounded a bit like Syaoran, actually, leaping down to join the battle against a difficult Clow Card. Sakura’s mind wandered a little, thinking over the past few weeks of quiet – now that she had become the Mistress of the Cards. Eventually she turned back to the task at hand. One more try, and then she’d go outside.
Moon setting over hills
The sun rising to greet me
Both fill me with joy
Sakura chewed on the pen end thoughtfully. They were all bad. Oh well. No help for it – she’d never be a poet. Time to go outside and play. With luck Tomoyo might be free – maybe they could go shopping together.
Kero-chan yawned and stretched, then set aside the game console. That had been a good one – very challenging and fun. He floated contemplatively towards the window, noting that Sakura had left her notebook open to her school project. He glanced down at her writing and made a face. Those poems were terrible!
He landed lightly on the desk, and smiled. He’d had a lot of practice at poetry over the years – well, at least, he’d *heard* a lot of it.
“I’ll help Sakura with her homework! That’ll make her happy!” he said, satisfied with the plan. Kero-chan turned the page in the notebook, took up the pencil and looked complacently at the page, which would soon be filled with fabulous poetry that Sakura could use.
Later that afternoon, Sakura returned from her outing with Tomoyo. They’d gone to town and bought some ribbon for Tomoyo-chan’s hair. It had been a good day and Sakura felt ready to attack her assingment once again.
She sat at the desk, thankful that Kero-chan appeared to be taking a nap. Maybe with some peace and quiet she could get some decent poems written!
Sakura walked up to her desk and found herself staring with shock at her notebook. Whole pages had been ripped out and lay scattered around the desk. Unintelligible scribbles covered the sheets of paper, the notebook cover and even the desk itself. She picked up one sheet and was barely able to make out some characters that had been crossed out:
Chocolate is my
Favorite thing in this world
It tastes so very good
“KERO-CHAN!!!!” Sakura yelled, as she yanked the drawer of her desk open.
Tomoyo held the silk gently over the incense, quietly humming to herself as she did so.
Sonomi peeked through the slightly opened door, watched in silence for a moment, then turned away, shaking her head. It wasn’t that her daughter was melancholic, not even a little. A sweeter, more pleasant girl she had never met. But her idea of fun was so…odd. She walked down the hall, wondering if she would ever understand her child.
Tomoyo finished perfuming the silk, and set it aside gently. Taking a brush, she slowly began to loosen her hair from its braid and brush it out. She looked at it with some disappointment. True Heian women would have had hair at least down to their ankles by now. She frowned a bit at the waves that formed as she brushed it, as well. Oh well. There was nothing for it – she’d wear it loose and hope it didn’t curl up too much – that would ruin the flow of the costume.
Slowly, methodically, Tomoyo put on a loose silk chemise, and flowing white silk trousers. Over that went layers of delicately colored and perfumed robes – each placed precisely to allow the right effect of the contrasting colors. She glanced at herself in the mirror, and arranged her skirts to show the overlapping robes, then rearranged her sleeves; holding one briefly up to her face, obscuring all but her eyes.
Next came the makeup. She couldn’t really blacken her teeth – it would last for days – wax would have to do. At last, after the final shading on her lips had been made, Tomoyo glanced once again at the figure that now sat in her room. She looked, if she was honest, more like a doll than like a Heian lady, but that wasn’t the point. The point was, today she was Murasaki Shikibu, and she was beautiful. She hid her smile behind a fan and glanced towards her desk.
Placed conveniently on the low table were brush and paper, a flower arrangement, and a painting that had been done by the young Nadesico. Next to that was a photograph of Sakura, which she had taken at the last sports day. That should be plenty of inspiration.
Tomoyo rose slowly and opened the window to allow the fresh air into her room. Spring was always a great time to play dress-up. Everything was so new and exciting.
Settling herself artistically at her table, Tomoyo reached for inkstone and brush. She could feel her heart speed up at the idea of writing poetry like Lady Murasaki did. The Tale of Genji was a great classic – she wondered if she’d ever be that famous for making a film.
She sighed wistfully. Time to get in character. She dipped the brush into the ink and scribbled a few characters on the paper. Genji, Kaoru, Murasaki, The Orange Blossom Lady; various characters from Genjihad had their names written down when her first poem came to her.
A picture is worth
A thousand words, but your
Words live through time
No, she thought, and crossed out “your,” substituting “my.”
“If I’m Murasaki, then those are *my* words,” she stated firmly to herself. She wondered what it might be like to be a lady in the Heian court, then decided it would be boring. “Unless Sakura-chan was with me.” She smiled again and looked at her friend’s photo. “Then I’d never be bored.”
The scent of peaches
Lingers in the air after
You have left the room
Suitable for a child, but Murasaki wouldn’t have written it. She fanned herself – the silk robes were warm, even in the breeze. In fact, Murasaki wouldn’t be writing Haiku at all. She smiled at herself. But that’s what the teacher wants, so Murasaki is writing Haiku today.
Asks the iris bow its head
And make way for rose
She eyed that last poem critically – it almost worked. Her robes were lilac, lavender, violet and rose. And it had a spring-y feel…yes, that one would do. She sighed. Being Murasaki was difficult. It’s a good thing that impromptu poetry wasn’t one of the requirements for being a lady these days.
Tomoyo sat and stared out the window, letting time pass in quiet contemplation. When her phone rang, she forgot her role-playing entirely and jumped up to get it.
“Sakura-chan!” She smiled with pleasure at hearing her friend’s voice. “Of course – I’ll meet you in half an hour!” She quickly wiped the brush clean, set the writing tools aside and stripped, changing into a more acceptable spring dress. As she took off the makeup on her face, she glanced at the silk robes she had laid aside and had a brief thought of getting Sakura to try them on… she’d bring it up later. She left the house smiling at the thought.
Li tried not to let his frustration show in his form. Keep relaxed, he told himself, as he executed a quick series of long punches, followed up by a foot slap and jump, landing on a single foot.
Li could feel his breath coming a little faster and he smiled grimly. Now! He yelled in his mind, and whirled around to face the invisible enemy, advancing and retreating in a flurry of strikes and complex footwork. Li was now sweating freely and he reveled in the shadow boxing that forced him to concentrate on what he was doing. It was better than thinking about…other things.
He wrapped up the form with a high jump that combined with a pattern of arm work and landed in a low guard. Pulling his outstretched leg towards himself, Li stood, then settled his weight evenly on both feet, bowed and breathed deeply. He shook himself to feel the new energy that coursed through his limbs and stood staring out over the skyline.
He loved coming up to the roof and practicing. He could watch the people below as if he were the Jade Emperor watching from Heaven. Li smiled at his own joke. Some Emperor he’d make – he couldn’t even get his homework done. Not like it was a fair assignment –it was all he could do to speak and understand this language, much less write archaic forms of poetry in it! He didn’t even write poetry in Chinese…except for copying the Analects and stuff like that.
Li shook himself again and walked over to the rail. Life below him buzzed briskly. The wind was cool without being cold and Li could smell someone cooking rice. He began to feel a little hungry. The sun was low in the sky and clouds obscured it and were gilded by it. Orange streaks turned chestnut and Li watched, with his hands under his chin.
Looks just like her hair, when the sun hits it. He startled himself with the thought and immediately looked around to see if anyone else noticed his odd behavior. He was alone, but no longer at ease. Why couldn’t he put her out of his mind? This was ridiculous. She was his friend, nothing more. Nothing special.
But an image of her smiling at him in thanks came to his mind and he simply couldn’t shake it. Green eyes, hair fanned out like an oriflamme…. Li blushed at his own thoughts. He wasn’t poetic even when he was thinking about someone he…what *did* he feel about her? It always made him feel good when she thanked him, but that was all, it wasn’t anything else.
He pushed himself away from the rail and headed back down to his apartment. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. His thoughts had been disturbed all day. That was why he had gone up to the roof in the first place – to try and distract himself with a workout.
Li sat down at his desk and immediately began staring out the window. He twirled the pen through his fingers, sighed and stared at the notebook on the desk. One verse. It would be terrible and then he could move on. He fidgeted a bit and thought about calling Mei-lin for some help. But her Japanese was worse than his and he was pretty sure her poetry was too. But she *was* a girl, after all, and would know how to write a …he stopped in his thoughts. A what? He blushed fiercely, knowing perfectly well he had been thinking “love poem.” He cursed a bit under his breath.
“That’s not it!” he cried out loud and startled himself into dropping the pen. He scooped it up from the floor and placed it too hard on the paper, causing it to skid across the page. He cursed some more then simply flung it away in frustration. Li moved to the window and watched the thin clouds turning into sticks of cinnamon and ochre.
Sticks of cinnamon? Li stood gaping at his own thought. That fit a line! He ran for the desk, as if he might forget the precious words. All other thoughts were banished as he carefully traced the characters onto the paper, then sighed heavily with relief. He thought once more of green eyes and chestnut hair, then blushing fiercely wrote a verse.
Sticks of cinnamon
Same color as the clouds and
The sun in your hair
Li stared at the page torn between pride and horror. He could just imagine the look on Mei-lin’s face if he handed this in. Li buried his face in his hands and contemplated calling in sick for the next week.