City of Angels

By Ekai Ungson

Disclaimer: Card Captor Sakura copyright CLAMP and related enterprises. Characters used without permission.

For Maia, and that boy who might make me normal.

Once, it was said, you will come to love a being with all of your heart and even more of your soul. Once, you will be defined solely by this love, such that you are not yourself any longer. You are an embodiment of love, and love alone. You exist from day to day for the purpose of loving. You are devoid of purpose, of meaning, except that of loving. Once in your life, you will smile though you are sad, cry though you are happy. All this will happen to you when you are faced with that one great love, that comes only once, in your entire life.

Once, it was said, you shall love one being and he shall mean the world to you. Once, you will fall in love, lose your own identity, because you are defined by that love and that alone. Once, you shall shed tears though you are happy, and once, only once in your whole life shall you have this for yourself.

Once, she had loved, and today her love was taken away by matters she could not control. Once, she had lived, defined wholely, solely by that love, in such that she existed for the purpose of that love. She was no longer loving, she was embodied by that love. Possessed with it so. And not only once did she cry though she was happy: she cried many times because she led herself to believe that there was this love, and nothing else.

Today, once again, she cries, because she is happy. She is happy for the one she loves is happy, she is happy for them.

But she could be sad for herself, couldn't she?

There were none of the clichés that went with the heartbreak. There was no rain, no snow, the sky was not dark. It was not night but day, it was not gloomy or cloudy. She was not wearing a black dress and walking under the rain; She was sitting on a chair watching couples dance to Strauss at one in the afternoon. It was not cold, she was not chilly. She was not drinking alcohol-- in fact, her hands were occupied with a sedate glass of juice. Her heart was not squeezing in her chest painfully.

She only knew the truth because her surroundings indicated a wedding had taken place, and everywhere she looked she saw people still clad in gowns she herself had designed. She only knew the truth because a couple on her far right were being cooed on and congratulated by anyone within a five-meter radius, she knew the truth because she saw the smiles on the couple's faces.

There was no foreboding nor symbolisms of pain. There was, quite frankly, nothing. But she knew it was there. Her heart was there, and it was broken.

"Dance, Daidouji-san?"

She looked up and stared into unfamiliar eyes of an irrecognizable color. Slowly the rest of the face revealed itself to her.

"Sorry, Hiiragizawa-kun—I'm not up for dancing today. Thanks but—"

Eriol shook his head. "I'm not taking no for an answer today, Daidouji-san. I know you haven't danced with anyone yet so you can't give me the 'I'm tired' excuse." He grinned mischievously.

"Have you been watching me?" she asked. This was an attempt to make her smile. Sometimes Eriol was so easy to read. Eriol tried his very best to make people happy when he could, which, she supposed, was not much different from her.

"All right, it seems you want to be especially stubborn today," she replied lightly as she took his hand. He led her to the middle of the dance floor.

It was Strauss filling her senses, and before her eyes everything was merely a pleasant blur. She wondered if she could stay this way, whirling around without direction or purpose, in an absence of time and space. But a little thought dashed the dream—she had no magic to speak of and these sorts of things were impossibilities.

Her thoughts were then cut short when her partner spoke:

"How do you feel, Daidouji-san?"

She stared at him, and loathed him and loved him at the same time for knowing everything. "I am happy," she said with a small smile on her face.

"Yes, but for who?" he asked.

She didn't even have to think about her answer. "For Sakura-chan, of course," she said. "I am happy because Sakura-chan is happy."

His next query surprised her. "Tell me, Daidouji-san," he said. "Have you ever been selfish?"

She stopped short, this she didn't quite expect from him. Then she tried to remember one instance, any at all, where she put herself before others. There had to be at least one time—

"Never, have you?"

"What is the point to this, Hiiragizawa-kun?" she asked, annoyed. "If you're wondering, I AM happy. I AM all right. And you need not worry about me."

"Yes, you are happy, you are all right. Happy for Sakura-san, happy because she is. Do you know, Daidouji-san," he said, "that other people would've killed for a bit of happiness they can have to themselves alone?"

"I don't want to… complicate matters," she replied.

"Telling people exactly how you feel will not complicate things," he answered. "In fact, I imagine it will clarify quite a lot of things."

"I cannot--," she said. "I cannot—"

"You cannot," he repeated flatly. And there was nothing after that.

He whirled her around, and they were silent for a few moments. He appeared to be weighing what to say next.

"Once," he began. "Once I fell in love, with all of my heart and all of my soul. I was so consumed with that love that I convinced my heart to believe that her happiness was mine, and I was all right with that. Even if I knew it to be a lie, my heart never knew. It had become true, in that sense, because I believed in it so much.

"Kaho," she whispered, but he placed a finger to her lips and she could speak no further.

"And in that, I watched her from afar, watched as she tried to walk alone; and I realized that she wasn't much different from me. She, also, derived her happiness from the happiness of the people she loved. And I wondered about her, wondered about her strength as I wondered about my own and sometimes, I wanted to protect her.

"But there was nothing to protect her from, because she was, after all, only loving, and love was most precious, and good."

He smiled at her, a smile that didn't seem to reach his eyes.

"You are happy, happy because you take your happiness from the depths of Sakura's smile. Happy because you do what you always want to do, that is, to love Sakura with all of your heart.

"You are happy, even though you keep your truth to yourself because you do not want to step on other people's toes. You do not wish to be the one to make other people sad. Happy though your own wants are never satisfied. Happy.

"It is not a lie, your happiness. But sometimes, Tomoyo-san, don't you want to wish for something more?"

She breathed. "All the time, Hiiragizawa-kun," she answered, glancing at her best friend, sharing a slice of cake with the man she had married. "All the time."

"Tomoyo-san, why don't you let her go?"

"She was never mine to begin with," Tomoyo replied with a sigh. "And you, why did you stay like that for Kaho-sensei for so long?"

He smiled his smile again, that smile that didn't go to the deepest depths of his eyes. "Not Kaho, Tomoyo-san," he said. "Not Kaho."

For a moment, her confusion reigned, until realization dawned. Her jaw dropped. "You do not mean—?"

He did not answer the question in her eyes. Instead, he whirled her around, still stepping to the chords of the music.

"You live in a city of angels where none do you wrong," he began. "That is what you are, innocence under malice, grace under fire. You do not cry though you are sad, you do not get mad though you are seething inside. That is because you have mastered the art of loving without exchange, and happiness in the face of all adversity.

"I envy your strength, your patience. I watched you from afar, knowing that you were much the same as me, only I was alone, and you weren't—and in that, I loved you.

"You tell yourself you cannot, Tomoyo-san. Cannot what? Cannot let her go, cannot walk alone, cannot be alone?"

She tried to speak but he silenced her, as if he could not continue if he was interrupted.

"I loved you, Tomoyo-san. Loved you for so long that I convinced myself that I was happy where you were happy, but even though your happiness is true, as it makes my happiness true, can we both bear to stay like this forever?"

The music stopped and they stopped, two beings in the center of the floor, still holding each other.

"Let her go, Tomoyo-san. Let her go and be truly happy."

"I am truly happy," she protested. "Was truly happy."

"Then, would you," his voice broke here, "would you be happy with me?"

The reception was ending, and the garden was nearly empty. The people were spilling out onto the front foyer, watching as the newly-married couple entered their bridal car. Eriol and Tomoyo both turned as Sakura and Syaoran waved.

Sakura was waving at her, yelling "Tomoyo-chan!! Shiawase!!"

I am happy, Tomoyo-chan!

Tomoyo felt the tears come to her eyes and tried hard to fight them back. Sakura-chan wouldn't want to see her upset.

"Arigatou, Tomoyo-chan~!" Sakura yelled as she rode in the car. It drove away, and the crowd began to disperse. Tomoyo watched as it disappeared into the horizon. Sakura-chan had a new life now. Sakura-chan needed her no longer—no, maybe it was the other way around.

She didn't need Sakura-chan to define her any longer.

She felt Eriol's hand still holding hers and she felt happiness so immense it threatened to consume her. This happiness was hers to keep, hers alone. Selfishly, she held on to the feeling, wanting it to last, wanting it to be everything. She leaned into him and he breathed, knowing now she had opened her eyes.

She let Eriol lead her away.

Because maybe now she could live a new life, too.

~owari