by Ekai Ungson
disclaimer: CLAMP owns it. characters used without permission.
what: all RIGHT! so i wanted it to be NOT a sequel to 'Beautiful Alone'. (because essentially i never wanted to touch 'beautiful alone' ever again. i think it's fine the way it is.) but it morphed! and it did become a pseudo-sequel. pseudo because no issues or actions were resolved. it's just an epilogue, if you may. this is the event after Sakura totally breaks it off with Syaoran and it takes place some five months after. questions, leave a review, email me, whatever. i'll answer anything you're not clear on. rants (and i'm sure there will be plenty) are welcomed. the title is a song lifted off the Weiss Kreuz soundtrack. download it if you can, and then take a listen while you read. it's fun.
for: Sakura-oneesama. ^-^
It's a bar, but it's not exactly a bar. It's an Italian restaurant, but she goes to the bar more often. She cares nothing for the pizza or the pasta. She goes to the bar, orders a tequila. One tequila she nurses until the restaurant closes.
The air is filled with the scent of roses. She doesn't understand this until she happens to come into the restaurant early and she finds so many couples, so many couples, and the men present roses to their dates. Red roses. Flowers of love and undying devotion. The tension, the romance. Once, during her brooding, she heard a very empathic "yes!" from a far corner of the establishment and immediately violin music was playing and people were applauding. She applauded, too, for politeness' sake, but it was all just bullshit to her, really.
Tonight she finished her one tequila earlier than usual, which was off considering that she never actually finished the drink. Ever. Sometimes when she was caught at closing she just gulped all the contents down, but tonight, tonight she finished it. Earlier. Strange.
She thanked Tomoyo-chan for having so many cocktail dresses in her closet. Then again Tomoyo-chan was Daidouji so she'd naturally have lots of formal outfits. It wasn't really because she liked to mingle with the upper class that she spent most evenings here, basically she was just scared of anywhere else and besides, if her brother caught on that she was spending nights drinking strong alcohol he'd probably cart her straight off to Tomoeda. She did not want to be in Tomoeda. Too many painful things there. At the very least, Tokyo was a big city. A big city she could hide in.
Another shot of tequila appeared in front of her suddenly, and she looked up, startled, to see the bartender nod to the far side of the bar. There, a rather old man raised his glass to her in a toast, and she raised her new glass as well. Thanks very much.
She set the glass down and stared at the scene in front of her. Dinner by candlelight, with pasta and oregano. Perfect night, perfect date, perfect ambiance for romance. Why was she here? This was a place for lovers. And she had no one. She took a tiny sip of tequila, determined to save it until later, much later. She didn't want to go home to Tomoyo-chan's condominium where either comfort and hugs and sympathy or absolute nothingess awaited her. Tomoyo-chan went out on dates with Eriol-kun. They were happy. That was good.
She brushed absently on a piece of non-existent lint on her dress. Candles. Candlelight smoke. And love.
The piano-man began to play a melody. It was a pretty melody, a slow melody, not exactly a sad melody, maybe even a happy melody. But it had an underlying sorrow to it. Strange she was thinking these things-- why was she so sad? She wasn't sad. But everything was so, so sad, and she couldn't stop herself from taking a large gulp from her drink. Drown it down, she heard someone say. Or maybe that was her mind telling her to do it. She didn't know and largely she didn't care much. Not now.
"You've been here long, dear," the bartender told her. "You've been coming every night. This isn't the answer to your problems."
"Then why was it created in the first place?" she asked softly. "I don't have a problem. I just like it here. The candles are pretty."
"Look at them. They flicker. I like candles."
"Dear, I hope you're really as all right as you think you are," the bartender said, and he walked away to attend to someone else's order.
Her tequila was finished again. Something was wrong with her tonight, that was two tequilas in a row and she was drinking too much. She wondered if she would be able to drive at all, and hoped she would. She wanted another one. She wanted to wait here until later, much later, she wanted to finish the song the piano-man was playing. It was such a nice song. A beautiful song. She waved the bartender down and got herself another tequila-- her last one, she promised. Her last. And if she wouldn't be able to drive she'd use Mirror or Move. Something. Anything.
The bartender poured her another shot, and the door from just a few meters beside her opened.
She heard voices, familiar. Familiar voices.
"Reservation for two. The name is Li," said the man. She stiffened.
"Oh, Syaoran, this place is beautiful! How did you manage to find it?" a female voice asked. "Is tonight special?"
"Very," the man replied. "Come, Hanano." She heard footsteps neariong and she heard someone's breath catch. They had seen her. How wonderful.
/'Hoe! Syaoran-kun, this place is... is... why are we here?'
'Tonight is a very special night, Sakura. Very special.'/
"Sa-- Ki-Kinomoto?" he asked. "Is that you?"
She turned to him. He looked very nice, dressed up to the nines. She always loved him best when he dressed up like that. But he was wearing a somehow obscure expression. "Hello, Li-kun. Hi, Nainiji-san."
His eyes clearly asked, 'what are you doing here?' Quite frankly she didn't know what to answer him with. She liked candles. The candles were why she came here night after night after night. And she never, ever thought he would find her here.
Nainiji-san smiled at her. The waiter was leading them to their seat. Syaoran nodded to her once, quickly, and he left with Nainiji-san, following the waiter. She watched. She kept watching until they were seated and handed menus. She knew he'd order the carbonara. It was his favorite Italian dish. Hers, too. And he'd order red wine. Because tonight was a very special night. And that was a ring box in his pocket. Just like that one night long long ago, in this same restaurant.
Three months, four, five? She'd known him years. He was getting engaged tonight. Engaged to that girl with blue, blue eyes the color of the sky. And there was nothing she could do, nothing she wanted to do.
She reached for her tequila shot and gulped it all down. The strength of it caused her eyes to sting and produce tears. Then she held up her right hand to the light and stared at the ring on her finger, the sole diamond embedded in its platinum depths. Watched it sparkle once, twice, thrice. She forgot to give him back his ring. She forgot to return it to him. They weren't engaged. He was getting engaged to someone else tonight, to that girl with blue eyes who wasn't her. She pulled out a small piece of paper from her purse and scribbled something down. The tears weren't stopping. That tequila was damned strong.
The girl sitting in the corner was gone, and all that was left in her place was her empty shot glass and a piece of paper.
The bartender unfolded the piece of paper and a glittering object fell out of it to the bar.
'Please give this back to the man named Li. He's in the table near the bay windows.'
The bartender looked up and saw the couple at the table near the windows. The girl with the man was laughing. And the man was smiling. And he turned to look at what it was he was to give back.
It was a platinum engagement ring.
And it looked lonely indeed lying alone with a tequila glass, and a ring of moisture, against the darkness of the bar.