Peacewish: Dearest readers, I apologize in advance for the sheer weirdness of this piece. In my mind last July, this was hilarious. When I began writing it, it became 'strange'. Now, having picked up after nearly three months on hiatus, it's degenerated fully into bizarre.
Li: So naturally, you're putting it up.
Peacewish: Well, I am a little nervous. But Odd World assures me that it is well-qualified for posting, so I'm trusting her advice. This is definitely for my mature readers, or older ones anyway, as this stupid one-shot contains rampant pairings, raunchy sex, and what politicians euphemistically term 'experimental' drug use.
Clinton: For the millionth time, I didn't inhale!
Bush: They were youthful indiscretions.
Peacewish: Whatever. Go back to the white house and keep pretending that you're morally superior to rest of us. And as for you, discriminating readers, enjoy, review, and be gentle.
'the wild card'
"Wake up, wake up, wake up!"
It was a typical sound, the sound that Sakura had woken up to every day for the past four years. Blearily she opened her eyes to Kero's fuzzy scowl and pushed him away.
"I wish you didn't have to get so close, Kero-chan," she yawned, and rolled over. "Have I ever mentioned how disconcerting it is to wake up to that every day?"
"I wouldn't have to get so close if you didn't insist on trying to sleep through my wake-up call every morning. Now get up, or you'll be late for school."
"Story of my life," she mumbled, and admitted defeat and sat up. It was just another spring day, another day of school. Another day of basic existence…quiet desperation –
Sakura blinked in surprise. Where had that come from? That was hardly the way she usually started a day.
Even if things were heartrendingly dull ever since the last of the transformations.
Sakura shook away the last of sleep as she crossed the room to open the window. Her mood lifted as she saw the bright pink blossoms on the tree, gently waving in the morning breeze.
"Good morning, you fat old sun," she murmured drowsily.
"Whadja say?" Kero inquired.
"Nothing. Just talking to myself. I better get changed - "
She broke off with a distracted look in her eyes.
"Huh? Oh, I don't know. I just had this weird feeling. But it's gone now." Sakura shrugged and started to pull on her school uniform.
It almost felt like – nah.
She shook her head determinedly. It couldn't have been. It was only wishful thinking.
"Morning!" she greeted cheerfully. Touya didn't bother to look up from the paper, but her father glanced up and smiled.
"Ohayo, Sakura-san. Looks like it's going to be a beautiful day, doesn't it?"
"Sure does!" Sakura inhaled deeply and gratefully as she plopped down in a chair. She always loved it when her father cooked in the morning. "It smells wonderful, Dad."
Fujitaka picked up a plate and set it on the table in front of her.
"Oh, it's nothing. Just a little of Sakura's psychedelic breakfast to get you going."
"Hmm?" Sakura looked up sharply, but her father had already moved back to the kitchen. "What did you say, Dad?"
"I didn't say anything," he replied calmly, not turning around. Sakura found herself blinking in confusion again, but Touya hadn't looked up. Maybe she had imagined it.
"Did you want to ride with me to school today, Touya-kun?" Her older brother glanced out the window and shook his head.
"Nah. It's too nice. I'll ride my bike. Besides, I don't have any late classes today." Touya took his dishes to the sink. It may be a longer bike ride to the college campus than his old high school, but he still enjoyed the exercise. And Yukito seemed to feel the same way. Speaking of which –
"I'm outta here. See ya later, squirt." She tried to lean out of his reach but he managed to ruffle her hair anyway.
"Mmmfff mmff mmfff!" she admonished through her food, to which he only grinned.
"What was that? Speak up, squirt."
"Mmmff - " At last she swallowed. "I said, don't call me sq - "
The front door slammed, and she groaned.
"There's something horribly comforting about how he still does that to me," she complained, which only made her father laugh.
"Just be patient, Sakura-san. He'll stop one day."
"I'm fourteen years old, Dad. If he was going to stop, he would have done it by now." She scowled slightly and stood to take her own dishes to the sink. She'd better get going, too.
Squirt, squirt, squirt. It never stops. Chalk one other thing up to daily routine. Wasting away…the moments that make up the –
"Have a good day!"
Sakura's blades ate up the sidewalk in long, smooth strides. Maybe Onii-chan and Yukito-san were no longer around to ride to school with her, but that was one change she rather welcomed. Now someone else was free to meet up with her. And there he was, at the intersection, looking her way and allowing himself a small smile in greeting.
This corner really wasn't on Li's way to school, but he managed to be there every morning anyway. He never made a big deal out of it, he just did it. One of the more wonderful benefits of having a boyfriend.
"Ohayo, Syaoran!" She circled around him once, pleasure in seeing him lighting up her features once more. Li found his cheeks reddening slightly, even though they'd been a couple for months now.
"Ohayo, Sakura." She settled into a slower pace, matching her stride to his walking as they started out for school. She didn't see Li's shoulders slump a little in defeat.
Today had been it. He was sure, when he woke up and saw the sun shining, that it would the day that he got up the nerve to try and kiss her. But on her skates she never even got close, and he wasn't sure how to reach out without looking awkward.
If only I could be sure if she wanted to. She might not be ready – she's not as old as I am. If she is ready…it would be wonderful. But if she's not, well then, I don't know what. She might get scared and back away from the relationship. She might complain to her brother.
He shuddered. It wasn't worth the risk. He didn't want to scare Sakura. But he did want to kiss her. Madly, truly wanted it. He was fifteen years old, and he had yet to kiss his girlfriend.
"It's time for my childhood's end," he muttered.
"Syaoran, watch out!" Sakura yanked on his arm just in time.
"You almost walked right into the wall," she laughed. "What were you thinking about? I thought I heard you say something just now."
Li flushed and backed away from the brick wall surrounding the courtyard. He could not meet her eyes and stammered an excuse before hurrying toward the school entrance.
Sakura was left standing in the yard, a little taken aback.
"I saw a pair of flaming cheeks," someone said by her side, "and knew that Li Syaoran must be somewhere near. And there he goes."
"What on earth is with him, Tomoyo? I thought things were great between us, but every now and then, especially lately, he stiffens and runs off." Sakura knelt on the steps to unlace her skates. "If I didn't know how fearless he was, I'd swear he was scared of something. What, I can't possibly imagine."
Her friend gave her an amused look.
"One of these days, Sakura," she said cryptically, and patted Sakura on the head. "One of these days."
"I wish everybody would stop patting me on the head today. Come on, we're going to be late."
Sakura opened her book to Chapter 24 and glanced over at the empty desk behind Tomoyo.
"I guess Eriol-kun isn't coming in today," she murmured softly. "I hope he's not sick."
Li snorted. Any effort of wishing Eriol H. well was a waste of time, in his opinion. But he knew better than to say anything out loud. Tomoyo only shrugged, her soft black hair falling down around her shoulders. It didn't particularly concern her one way or another. Class was all that mattered to her.
As the morning lessons dragged on, Li found it difficult to tear his attention away from Sakura's hair, shorter and lighter than Tomoyo's, and how it just barely brushed the tops of her shoulders. It swished and swayed, it beckoned him. Right there in the classroom, he longed to reach out and touch it, lift it up so he could kiss her neck.
He found himself blushing at the thought of it and buried his face behind an open book. Wouldn't she be horrified if she knew what he was thinking? But it was becoming more and more difficult to think about anything else, and he knew that one of these days he was going to break down and do it, whether he had her permission or not.
Building a relationship is like burning bridges, he thought glumly. Every new step has to be thought out so carefully, and you can never go back. Who'd have ever thought it was so complicated?
"Hey Syaoran," Sakura whispered, leaning back slightly and turning her head. Li felt his face turn crimson again as he realized what he had been thinking about and hoped that she couldn't see him. "Have you felt anything strange today? Any kind of weird sensation?"
Oh yes, he thought, but I doubt it's the same one that you're thinking about.
"I don't think so, no," he said softly, and she shrugged and returned her attention to the teacher.
Weird sensation? Li rubbed the back of his head and glanced out the window. Some clouds were appearing on the horizon. Hmm.
"Goodbye, blue sky," Sakura announced dismally as the lunch bell rang. The capricious spring weather had turned faster than anyone would have thought, and now the sun was completely obscured by clouds. Rain looked inevitable, but it wasn't coming down just yet. They plunked their lunches down on the picnic table and prepared to dig in.
"Oh my!" Tomoyo clapped her hand over her mouth, and the other two looked up, surprised. It was so rare that the dark-haired girl showed any kind of disturbance at all, but her violet eyes were wide with shock as she looked over Sakura's shoulder.
"What?" Both turned, and both choked on their first bites of food.
"Rika?" Sakura spluttered. Her friend smiled innocently.
"You – you're…" She trailed off, unsure of how to come right out and ask why the hell Rika was holding hands with their old elementary teacher there in the courtyard. Both flashed grins, and Rika squeezed his hand.
"Yes, he came over to have lunch with me. Isn't it wonderful?"
"Only wonderful to be with you," Mr. Terada purred, and caressed Rika's cheek tenderly. She glowed, and Sakura had to remember to close her mouth. She'd known for a while about the crush, but the two of them eating together? In public?
"Um, Rika? Don't you think… some people might think this is strange?"
"Kinomoto," her old teacher chided. "I really expected more of you. It's so silly to hold yourself to such a narrow way of thinking. Can't a teacher love his student before the world?"
And then, to the astonishment of all three, he leaned down and captured Rika's mouth with his, enveloping her in an intense kiss.
Sakura turned bright red and hastily turned around.
"That did not just happen, did it?"
Tomoyo was having trouble tearing her eyes away from the pair, but finally she managed to direct her gaze firmly at the table.
"I think it did. Still is happening."
Li had to swallow and pull his school shirt a little away from his chest to allow for air, very much aware of the growing heat inside him. If Mr. Terada could do it to his old student right in the middle of school and everything, then why couldn't he –
"That's it," Sakura squeaked. "There is something going on here. I don't know what, but that was not normal."
"Is not normal," Tomoyo corrected, sneaking a glance up.
"Gomen." She pursed her lips in concentration and stared very hard at a crack in the wooden table. "What do you think it is?"
"I don't know, but people have been talking weird all day, including me. Something strange is gathering itself. Right, Syaoran?"
He nodded, still keeping his eyes before him. If she looked into his eyes, saw his face, she would know for sure what he'd been thinking.
"How can they breathe?" Tomoyo wondered. "Don't they have to come up for air?"
"Tomoyo!" they both hissed.
"Well, excuse me for being curious," she huffed. "To be honest, I think young lust is a beautiful thing."
The two across from her exchanged baffled glances.
"Yes," Li said. "People are saying strange things. I think I can feel something too, but it's so amorphous."
"Right. No concentration at all. As if it's just blowing through Tomoeda as quickly as possible."
The significance of what she'd just said struck them both a second later, and this time they shared a panicky look. As quickly as possible? The whole town?
"I think," Sakura declared, "we'd better go pay Eriol-kun a visit after school. This could get ugly."
"Oh sensei," Rika moaned behind them. "Not there! Oh – oh! Yes, please, right there!"
"I have to go." Syaoran scrambled off the bench and took off across the yard, on the run.
Things only seemed to get worse as the afternoon progressed. Students began getting glazed looks in their eyes, paying no attention to the class and doodling in their notebooks. It seemed to Sakura that the teachers should have been a little annoyed at that, but then the teachers themselves didn't seem to care whether anyone learned that day or not. The history teacher was mumbling as he read aloud from their textbook, not looking up to check if anyone was awake. Outside, Sakura could see that rain was beginning to fall. Her senses tingled again, and she wondered if the weather was connected to the strange feeling. It certainly wouldn't be the first time.
In the break between classes, Syaoran watched Yamazaki press Chiharu against the wall and plant kisses up and down her neck, murmuring another of his stories into her ear. The typical scowl she always wore when he spoke that way was gone, and instead there was a heady look of desire in her brown eyes.
"Oh, tell me more, Takashi," she whispered. "Speak to me forever that way. I just love it!"
It's so easy for everyone else, Syaoran thought bitterly. She's my girlfriend. I should go for it. It's just a kiss after all. Right?
"Syaoran." He jumped in the air and whirled around at the sound of her voice behind him.
"Things are breaking down. I think we need to go now. We can't afford to waste anymore time in class."
"What?" Tomoyo protested. "We can't skip class, Sakura, what are you thinking? We need our education!"
"No we don't," Syaoran grunted, in complete agreement with his girlfriend. He couldn't stand around to watch any more of this freak show – he'd break down. He grabbed a resisting Tomoyo by her wrist and followed Sakura to the doors of the school. No one seemed to mind that they were leaving; in fact, they couldn't see any teachers at all. What was going on?
"Son of a bitch," Touya muttered as he glared out the streaming window. The rain was coming down harder, and he knew his father wouldn't be ready to leave campus anytime soon. Why did the weather have to turn so nasty?
"Language, Toya," Yukito remonstrated, cracking open the lid of the cafeteria's boxed chocolate cake. "It's just water. You won't melt."
"But it's such a long ride back home," he complained, and by habit leaned forward to swipe a fingerful of frosting. Yukito rewarded him with a light slap across the hand.
"Get your filthy hands off my dessert."
"Someone's feeling territorial today," Touya mocked, then heaved another sigh as he looked out the window. It was going to be a long, wet ride home for the both of them if they couldn't hitch a lift from someone.
"Hey boys!" Reflexively Touya flinched, and glared at the party joining them.
"What do you want?"
"Can't a girl hang with her buddies at school?" Nakaru asked innocently, batting her eyes at Touya and ignoring Yukito. Yukito was ignoring them both anyway, digging into his slice of chocolate cake with enthusiasm.
"Haven't we been over this before? We're not buddies, and I don't think you're technically a girl." She didn't bother to deny it, he noticed, and just giggled. He had to swallow. Eriol and Sakura had explained it to him, sort of, though he still didn't quite understand the whole story. He only knew that Nakaru was something different, and the thought made his skin crawl. "So if you don't have anything earth-shatteringly significant to say, I suggest you get lost."
"Fine, be that way. And I was going to offer you a ride home in my car."
"Since when do you have wheels?"
"Since Eriol said I could… this morning." She shrugged indifferently. "He was acting awfully strange, if you ask me, but it's not like I'm going to argue. So you guys want a lift or not?"
Yukito was polishing off his cake now, and Touya watched him lick the frosting off one of his fingers, feeling that familiar ache again. He did not want to spend time with that witch, not when she was so good at interfering with that soon-to-be relationship that Touya was sure was just around the corner. But the prospect of riding home in the cold rain was worse still.
"I say we should do it, Toya," Yukito said aloud, finishing up his train of thought. "What's the worse that could happen?"
"Uh… yeah, I guess it'll be okay. It's just a ride home."
What could possibly happen?
The three of them had to run like hell outside, in a mad dash across the parking lot.
"Wow," Touya said, before he could stop himself. "Cherry ride."
"Isn't it? One of the handy benefits of working for a sorcerer. Welcome to the machine." She pulled open the left door before running over to the driver's side to unlock it. It was an old classic, no doubt, but wonderfully preserved. The candy-apple paint gleamed like new, even in the dreary weather, and both boys couldn't help but hold back to admire it just a little more before squeezing into the passenger seat. It was an oldie, and just a two-seater.
"Comfortable?" Nakaru teased with a merciless grin on her face. Yukito shifted slightly on Touya's lap and beamed at her.
"We'll be fine. It's just a short ride, after all. You're okay, right Toya?"
Touya managed to whimper an affirmative, busy doing calculus equations in his mind to distract his body. It had just better be a short ride, he thought darkly. Or I may not last.
Nakaru turned the key in the ignition, and the throaty V8 revved to life.
"What a hum," she sighed. "Eriol designed it to have a little more kick than your average set of wheels." She shifted gears and they peeled out of the parking lot with a loud squeal. Touya and Yukito clutched at each other nervously.
"How, exactly, much more kick?" Touya inquired. Nakaru giggled as she reached to turn on the radio.
"When I really step on the gas, I can put this baby into interstellar overdrive."
The two young men exchanged a look, and then by tacit understanding, squeezed their eyes shut and held onto each other for all they were worth. Nakaru didn't seem to notice, but turned a tight corner and accelerated madly.
"Whose idea was it to walk all the way?" Syaoran grouched, shaking an excess pint of water out of his shoes as they paused by the forbidding gate. Above them, Eriol's British mansion loomed menacingly. "We're all going to catch colds."
"We could hardly call my bodyguards," Tomoyo said pointedly. "I think it might have been difficult to explain why I was leaving school in the middle of the afternoon!"
"There should have been a bus, though," Sakura pointed out. "In fact, there really weren't a lot of cars on the road, now that I think about it."
A bright red Mustang zoomed past them, splashing a wave of water onto their legs before jerking sharply into the driveway.
"And now we know why," Syaoran muttered, before shrugging and following in the car's path. They trudged up the gentle slope, reaching the front door just in time to see Nakaru and two very pale men emerging from the car.
"Onii-chan?" Touya stumbled to the shelter of the porch, looking a little dizzy, then shook his head to clear it.
"Sakura? What are you doing here?" Then his eyes narrowed. "Shouldn't you be in school right now?"
Sakura gulped, and any number of lame excuses caught in her throat.
"Touya! Stop being such a stick in the mud!" Nakaru opened the door and grabbed his jacket collar, throwing him headlong into the house. "Can't you see they're all soaked? Come on, kiddos, inside."
"Call me that again and you lose a wing," Syaoran promised, stomping past her. Bemused, Yukito followed the girls inside, and the door slammed shut. Indoors, the hallway was steamy and close as everyone paused to kick off their shoes. Syaoran tried to wring out his shirt, then shook his hair viciously and sprayed water over Sakura. "Now where's that deranged boss of yours?"
"I dunno. It's a pretty big house, you know." She flicked her hair over her shoulder, catching Touya full in the face. "Check by the fireplace. He spends such an inordinate amount of time there."
The tone in her voice implied pity for such a boring life, and then she turned to the others and smiled again.
"Anyone want cocoa? I'm gonna make cocoa. Come on!" She grabbed both men's wrists and yanked them through a doorway.
Syaoran and Sakura shrugged and began to traverse the long hallway.
"Eriol-kun? Are you here?"
"Hello?" Syaoran tried, not liking this. He couldn't quite explain it, but there was something odd here. More than usual, even. Something that was –
"Do you guys smell anything?" Tomoyo asked, wrinkling her nose distastefully. Sakura nodded, then coughed.
"It's awfully strong. What is it; is something on fire?"
Tomoyo shrugged, and the three of them paused outside the door. On the other side, Sakura thought she could hear some music playing, though it wasn't any song she knew.
"Eriol-kun? Hello?" She pushed the door open, and immediately coughed again. "Gosh, it's smoky in here. Eriol-kun, I think there's something wrong with the fireplace."
"I don't think so at all," Eriol replied dreamily. "The flaming picture is quite beautiful, in its own way. Don't you agree?"
He rolled to a sitting position and directed that last part right at Tomoyo, who looked a little taken aback.
Syaoran crossed his arms.
"Well, if it isn't Lucifer Eriol. You wanna explain what the hell is going on today?"
"Tsk, tsk. Those paranoid eyes are not flattering to you, cute descendent." He patted the blanket underneath him invitingly. "None of you look very comfortable. Take a seat."
Sakura did as she was told, grateful for the warmth of the fire, but still feeling that something was different here. That strange smell was in the air, and her throat hurt with the smoke.
"Eriol-kun, where's your chair?"
That was it, that was what was so different. The throne of evil was nowhere to be seen, having been replaced by a thick quilt and piles of cushions. Eriol relaxed against one large fluffy one and smiled.
"That chair is so hideously uncomfortable, you know that? It's such a drag to sit in and contemplate mischief, when the blanket is so much cozier."
Such a drag?
Sakura was getting more confused by the second, and she hugged her knees to her chest and looked around. The lounge under the window was conspicuously bare.
Eriol waved a negligent hand.
"Dunno. He said some long words and droned on for while, and then he flew away." A goofy grin spread across his face. "He's such a square."
"Eriol-kun, listen to me. Something really weird is going on today. It's affecting our school, and I think my family too."
For a brief second those blue eyes focused on her, and she thought she saw a flash of calculating intelligence there. Then it was gone, fogged over again.
"Wots… uh, the deal?" he managed, and she blew her bangs out of her eyes in frustration. Was it her imagination, or was his English accent becoming more pronounced?
"I just told you! Everyone is acting strange today and neither of us have any idea what's going on! Do you know anything?"
"I know a lot of things," he assured her, and Li snorted. Then his eyes fell upon a small ashtray near the fireplace, with what looked like some twists of paper inside.
"What are those?" he asked suspiciously.
"Why, cute descendent? Wont some?" He laughed gleefully and took one, placing it to his lips. "Hit, anyone?"
Sakura and Tomoyo both gasped as he inhaled, then blew out a light cloud of smoke.
"Eriol-kun, what do you think you're doing?"
"Having fun. Wot does it look like I'm doing?"
"But, but, but," Sakura sputtered. "That's illegal."
"Can't help it, not today," Eriol said smoothly. "It's all coming back, just like he said it would. Curse that British half of me! It's got so many weaknesses!"
Syaoran leaned forward, eyes snapping.
"What's all coming back? What weakness?"
"Not socially acceptable?" he said. "As if I care! I'm doin' it anyway. Think how much fun it'll be!"
"How much fun what will be?" Sakura tried again, beginning to feel frustrated. Eriol was inhaling again, eyes closed with delight.
Syaoran groaned and stood up.
"We're not getting anywhere here, Sakura. He's totally gone."
"I guess you're right." Sakura rose to her feet, still eyeing Eriol warily. "I think we need to go find Spinel."
"I think that's a good idea. Come on."
He took her hand and started to pull her back toward the door, and Tomoyo began to stand up.
"Oh, don't." Eriol reached out and snagged her elbow, pulling her back down onto a cushion. "You're still shivering. Why don't you stay near the fire? It'll warm you up."
"It's okay, Tomoyo," Sakura said over her shoulder. "We'll be back in a few minutes. Get warm."
"Exactly," Eriol murmured, leaning in close. "Get warm, Tomoyo. You need it."
The rain had settled into a light but persistent drizzle by the time Fujitaka was finished with his last class. It had been his intention to make some headway into grading some term papers in his office, but looking out at the weather, he couldn't bring himself to do it. Instead all he could think of was going straight home and making something hot to drink. And so he drove home and let himself in, surprised by the quiet inside. He would have thought both his children had made it home by now, and hoped that Touya wasn't still stuck back at the campus. Perhaps Sakura had gone to Syaoran's apartment or Tomoyo's home. Touya must be at Yukito's.
He shrugged and set his briefcase down, stripping off his overcoat and turning up the heat a little. Everything was just so gloomy today, such a contrast to the beautiful morning. The rain always made him a little moody, and he paused by his wife's photo to caress the frame a little tenderly.
"Wish you were here."
As newlyweds, they had spent many a rainy afternoon curled up together and listening to music. Those quiet days were among his fondest memories. But that time was over now, and there was nothing to be done about it. He padded upstairs to change.
Kero heard the footsteps, and quickly turned down the volume. He was right in the thick of battle, and the screams and cries of his victims were a little loud in the quiet house. He didn't know where Sakura was; it seemed she should have been home by now.
So where was she?
"Where's my sister?"
"Isn't the cocoa yummy?" Touya drained his mug and set it down on the coffee table.
"Yes, but where did Sakura go? She was here with that kid, and looking for that other weird kid. That's not a good situation."
Touya thought carefully, and decided he should stand up. This he attempted, only to find Nakaru pulling him back down beside her on the couch.
"She'll be fine. You should just sit tight, relax. Days like today were made for relaxing. Don't you think?"
The couch was very comfortable, now that she mentioned it. Touya had a vague feeling that something was not right about this, insomuch that he hated this girl. Girl-being. Whatever.
Her hand was creeping up his shirt now, lightly ticking his chest.
"Not a very good reason. Doesn't it feel good?" She was nestling up to him now, purring slightly. That lazy music was playing in the background, lulling him into drowsiness. It was becoming very difficult, and mildly he wondered if there had been something in that hot chocolate. He really wouldn't put it past her. It. Whatever.
Her lips were brushing over his cheek now.
"How does it feel?" she whispered, the tickle of her lips making him smile.
"It feels… groovy."
"Aah!" Kero was too annoyed to worry about secrecy, and he wailed his disappointment as the screen blinked the dreaded Game Over, again and again. He'd been so close that time! It wasn't fair, it was a gyp. The stupid company probably designed it so that no one could win their ridiculous war games.
"War's a waste of time anyway," he muttered, and hit the power switch with a vicious thump. "Sakura, where are you?"
She better not be off having something to eat without him. Irritably he hovered to the window and looked at the rain outside. He should really go look for her. But first…
Fujitaka paused with his hand on the doorknob of his bedroom, certain that he had heard someone cry out in dismay from his daughter's bedroom. Hardly audible over the rain, but then, it wasn't the first time he'd thought he heard some strange Osakan accent in this house. Part of him wanted to go check it out, but the more insistent part of him convinced him to just turn the knob and walk into his bedroom.
And there in the doorway he stood, hands on his tie in preparation to loosen it.
"Well," he managed after a long silence. "This is a surprise."
Nadeshiko tucked a stray curl behind her ear and smiled.
"Uh… because I didn't think you were here anymore." She giggled at that, and Fujitaka found himself smiling automatically in response.
"Can't a person come back and visit once in a while?"
Her tone was so reasonable that he could only shrug, and slowly pulled his tie off.
"Well, I suppose they could. But it's been such a long time. And you still look the same as when you left. How do you do that?"
Though he was normally quite neat, he dropped the tie in a puddle by his feet. She placed a finger over her soft pink lips.
"So, what did you want to do while you were here?"
"Hmm…" She tapped her chin and looked thoughtful as she made herself comfortable on the bed. "Let me think. Oh, I know. How about 'be with my husband'?"
Fujitaka could feel the goofy grin spread across his face, and knew that she had seen it too. Well, what was the point in trying to hide it? It had been such a long time. It seemed she was never in the mood after Sakura was born.
"Rainy day," he murmured. "Just like old times." She smiled and lay full back on the blanket, her beautiful thick hair falling across the bed like a wedding veil. He straddled her, careful to keep most of the weight on his knees, and began to undo his first button.
"Remember the summer of '68?"
"How could I forget? Happiest days of our lives."
"I've missed you so much…"
"Shh, don't waste time talking."
Impatiently he shed his shirt, hardly able to believe how lucky he was. She was so beautiful, and so wonderful, and she loved him so much. He could hardly wait to be with her.
"Very well. No more talking." He lowered his head and brushed his lips over the thin silk of her dress, right on her stomach. Predictably ticklish, she giggled hysterically, and he smiled. Everything was still the same. This was going to be wonderful.
Nakaru's body pressed against Touya's until there was no air left between them, making little humming noises as the two continued to make out. Yukito decided he couldn't watch anymore and pushed open the nearest door that he could see, which happened to lead to some balcony. The rain had subsided into a mist, and it was growing darker by the minute, though there was no sunset to be seen.
He knew he should be angry, or depressed, or something. Watching his friend make out with that strange girl, right in front of him even, should have provoked some kind of reaction. Right?
"But what's the point of it all?" he sighed, and leaned against the balcony. The mist was fogging over his glasses, making it difficult to see. He didn't bother to wipe them clean; there was no reason to. "I should feel… something. But what good is that, when I'm not even here? Not really, anyway."
He propped his elbows on the railing and looked up. There would be no sign of the moon above, not tonight. Too many clouds.
"Spinel," Sakura cooed as persuasively as she could. "Come on out. We know you're in there. Why don't you come out and talk to us?"
She could just barely see the light reflecting off his feline eyes in the darkness behind the desk. Both she and Syaoran were sprawled across the floor on their stomachs, peeking into the tiny space as best they could.
"Nobody home," the beast answered sulkily, and Syaoran thumped an impatient fist against the drawers.
"Hey you! I don't know why you're so freaked out, but you need to get your act together and get out here. You're the only one not acting overly bizarre in this house!"
"Exactly," Spinel sniffed. "And it's going to stay that way. I'll hide, where it can't find me, and it'll be all right. I will not be dragged into that man's perverted sense of humor! I have too much dignity for that!"
"What man?" Sakura tried. "What are you talking about?"
"Who do you think?" came the dry response. "Master Clow, of course. Can't you see his devious fingerprints all over this? Silly, immature, ridiculous humor…"
"What? What did he do?"
"Hilarious', he said. 'It will be priceless when it wakes. And it will be good for keeping them on their toes.'"
"WHAT?" both Sakura and Syaoran said, for the last time.
"He called it the Wild Card," Spinel growled. "Just for fun. One last Card that wasn't to be included in the Book, but would be allowed to remain free."
"Clow left a Card out of the Book? Unguarded?"
"He placed a spell on it that it would only wake at the appropriate time. 'When they need it,' he said."
Sakura wilted slightly, and began to wish she'd brought her Cards with her that day. But things had been so quiet for so long, she'd long ago stopped carrying them wherever she went. At least she still wore the key.
"Well, do you know what the Card is?" Syaoran prevailed, and was answered by yet another indignant sniff.
"Certainly not. It was the most ludicrous concept I ever heard of, and he was manipulating time and acoustics and everything else to pull it off. Such a waste of magic, for a nonsensical prank. I would have nothing to do with it, and told him so. He just called me a philistine and waved me out of the room."
Syaoran grunted and pushed himself off the dusty floor to sit up. Sakura did the same.
"Well, that answers some questions, anyway. Whatever it is, it's putting Tomoeda into a tailspin, not to mention getting Eriol baked beyond comprehension. We need to seal it before he moves on to LSD."
"But where to find it? It covered the whole town so quickly; who knows where it's moved on to."
"Not to worry. We'll swing by my apartment and get the compass."
"You still have that?"
"Of course I still have that. Why wouldn't I?"
Sakura felt a little abashed. Sometimes her boyfriend was so level-headed, she felt like a silly child next to him. It made her wonder what he even saw in her.
"Come on. Let's go."
"But what about Tomoyo and Onii-chan?"
"They'll be fine here. We need to move fast."
"Sure you don't want a drag?" Eriol offered again, and Tomoyo shook her head firmly.
"Eriol-kun, you should know better. I would never do a thing like that. It's illegal, and it's bad for you."
"Sure," he acknowledged cheerfully. "But it makes you feel awfully good. How often do you get a chance to feel good?"
"Every chance I make a perfect grade, sing a song, or make a beautiful costume for Sakura," she answered without missing a beat. He laughed, and draped a casual arm around her shoulders. She stiffened, but he didn't seem to notice.
"Boring!" he declared. "Tomoyo, I'm not sure if anyone's ever told you this or not, but you are an insufferable goody-goody."
"What?" she gasped.
"Oh sure, you're nice and pretty and all, but don't you ever just relax and have fun? Do something bad, even?"
"Of course not! Now, do you mind?" She wriggled her shoulders in an attempt to politely disengage from Eriol's arm, but he wasn't taking the hint.
"Yes, I was in the rain, remember? So if you don't like it, I suggest you take your arm off me."
"No, I mean you're wet. And cold. That's not good. You should get out of those wet clothes."
"I'll be fine."
"Are you sure?" Unexpectedly he leaned in and closed his lips over the lobe of her ear. She inhaled sharply, but did not pull away. What was wrong with her? Why wasn't she pulling away?
"The Card," he said in answer to her unspoken question. "It's in charge now. You put up admirable resistance, it's true, thanks to your dedication to the proper things in life, but the magic always wins. Now it's time to give sex, drugs, and rock n'roll a chance."
"But I don't want to- mmf." She couldn't quite finish before his mouth was on hers, gentle but firm, parting her lips with his tongue. Deep inside her mind, the rational part of her screamed that this was not right, but even that grew distant and unreal and she pushed up to meet him in the force of the kiss.
"Now that's more like it. Sure you don't want to get out of those wet clothes?"
"Well…" He was pushing her down against the cushions, and the warmth of the fire was pleasant on her side. His warmth on top of her was nice, as he traced a path with his tongue down the side of her neck. He paused at her damp collar and traced his fingertips across her blouse. "I suppose it would be more comfortable…"
"Is there anybody out there?" There was a light rap on the door, and then Touya pushed it open. "Yuki. There you are."
"In the flesh. What are you doing out here, getting wet?"
"I don't know. Hoping the moon will show up, I guess. What about you?" He tried to keep the bitterness out of his voice, but knew he was failing quite miserably at it. "Weren't you getting along with Nakaru?"
"Um." Touya raked his fingers through his hair, looking a little confused. "I think I was, but she's gone now. Something about getting more drinks, but she's been gone for a while now."
"You were kissing her."
"Yeah. I know." Touya leaned against the balcony rail next to him, looking out into the moist darkness.
"Did you like it?"
"I don't know. It was all right, I guess. It didn't mean anything."
"How could it not mean anything?"
Touya shrugged negligently.
"Don't know. I think that's what they call free love. No consequences, you know?"
Yukito turned his head sharply at that. There could be no doubt about it, something was definitely not right with his friend.
"Toya, are you feeling all right?"
"I'm just fine. It's you I'm worried about."
"Me? Why me?"
"Again, I don't know. But yes, I recognize that something weird is going on today. I'm not acting like myself, and neither are you. Where's that famous Yuki-grin? What's with the moodiness?"
"I… was thinking. About me, and Yue. About not being human."
"Uh-huh." Touya leaned in close, curious. "What's it like?"
The dress came off so easily, without the least amount of fuss or resistance. Fujitaka watched it float softly to the floor of his bedroom, then turned his attention back to his wife. She was even more lovely than he remembered, if that were possible, and he was disappointed when she reached forward to slide the glasses off his face. But amazingly enough, she did not become the slightest bit fuzzy once they were gone. Every detail of her face was etched in sharp relief, including the excitement and desire in her crystal green eyes.
"What are you looking at, silly?" she chided. "Can't you see I'm waiting?"
"What? Oh, right." He grinned bashfully and attempted to make up for it by lowering his head and dropping light kisses on her creamy skin. By the way she was moaning, it sounded as though it were working, and he decided to go lower.
"Yes! Oh, don't hold back, darling. Harder, please!" His kisses became more aggressive, and she wrapped her legs around his waist and pressed herself into him. "I can't wait for you any longer…"
He rolled slightly so that he was on top of her once more, and attacked her mouth with another kiss. She was running her fingers through his hair now, then raking them down his back, making him wince with combined pain and pleasure. She was right; it had been far too long since they had done this. He was sure that he wouldn't be able to last much longer.
She whimpered with delight as he entered her, gently and slowly as he always had, but increasing the tempo to push faster and faster.
"Oh Nadeshiko," he choked, tasting the skin of her neck over and over again. He bit, he sucked, she did not complain. "I love you so much, and I've missed you…"
"I love you too," she panted. "Please don't hold back. Please fulfill this moment. It will be so wonderful!"
And it was.
Both Syaoran and Sakura froze in shock. Wei glanced up and beamed.
"Ah, hello, Syaoran-sama. Sakura-sama. How do you do?"
"Wei," Syaoran gasped. "What are you doing to our apartment?"
"Lovely, isn't it? These flowers will brighten up the place a bit. I've been thinking for a while that these walls are quite dull."
"Brighten up the place?" Syaoran repeated. They brightened, all right. Indeed, the giant neon daisies Wei was painting over the walls were so bright that they were easily visible through closed eyes. The venerable old man dipped his paintbrush into Psychedelic Pink and continued to fill in one of the petals. "Er… never mind that just now. I need to get to my -"
He took a step forward and promptly fell over, smacking his nose into a foreign material.
"Wei, what the hell is this all over our floor?" What had once been tasteful hardwood was now concealed under some ghastly orange fabric, so knotted that it had tripped him up.
"It's called shag carpeting, Syaoran-sama. Simply heavenly for sitting on the floor. One should escape that confining furniture, don't you think?"
"Syaoran, daijobu?" Sakura inquired, kneeling down to offer a hand.
"Fine. But we really need to hurry. This is getting out of hand."
He treaded carefully into his bedroom while Sakura waited in the front room. Wei hummed contentedly as he finished one giant daisy and began another. What Card could this possibly be?
"Sakura!" The familiar voice made her sag with relief, and she hurried to open a window. "There you are, I've been looking all over for you!"
"Kero-chan! What – what are you wearing?"
"Like it? Groovy, huh? I went to Tomoyo's to look for you, but when I couldn't find anyone I raided her costumes chest and came over here." Kero twirled for her benefit, showing off his brightly patched vest and tinted glasses. "Hey, like the paint job in here. It's out there."
"Got it, Sakura," Syaoran announced upon returning to the room. "Let's go – Kero?" He was so surprised that he even forgot to address him as stuffed animal, but Kero didn't seem to notice anything amiss.
"What's happenin', kid? I was hoping I'd find you two. You know where the action is?"
"Well not yet, but Syaoran has his compass now so we can pinpoint the Card -"
"Card?" Kero repeated blankly. "Who said anything about a stupid card? I'm looking for the protest!"
Sakura's eyes widened, a little.
"Yeah. I'm so tired of all the war, you know, it's time to end it. It really is. Why can't the higher-ups just see that?"
"It's time to bring the boys back home! I'm in search of the post-war dream, my lovin' friends!"
"But Kero-chan," Sakura tried again. "Japan isn't at war with anyone!"
"That's what THEY want you to believe. It's us, and them. Don't forget that, Sakura." And with that he sailed out of the window and disappeared into the darkness.
"Good," Syaoran muttered. "That's got rid of him, at least. Let's go."
"It's like…" Yukito groped for the words as Touya watched him intently. "Sometimes I wonder if I'm the real one, or if he is. Because I figure, if I can think and feel, then I must be real, right? But then I wonder, what if that's just his thoughts and feelings that I'm experiencing? And it's totally weird, and there's really no one that could understand it, you know?
"Sometimes we talk, inside my mind. That makes me feel more real, like we're two separate beings that just so happen to share the same body. But that weirds me out too, knowing how's he's got access to everything in my mind and everything that goes on in my life. There's someone in my head, and it's not me."
He looked so bummed out. Touya slid his hand along the railing until it was tickling lightly over the back of Yukito's hand.
"So, both of you are experiencing that, right now?"
"Yeah. It's like, all that I touch -"
"And all that you see."
"All that I taste -"
"All that you feel."
Tomoyo gripped the thick material of the quilt in both hands and moaned out loud again, drowning herself in the delight as Eriol closed his mouth over her nipple and began to suck. Every touch was so loving and so pleasurable, how could she say no?
"And the feelings? All that you love?"
"And all that I hate." It was such a crazy topic of conversation, and he wondered how this had begun. He never wanted to bring it up to his friend, he wanted Touya to forget about the unworldy dichotomy that existed within Yukito. He wanted his friend to see him as someone normal, someone likeable, someone kissable. But Touya seemed fascinated.
"All you create. All you destroy."
It was the second round – or maybe the third. Fujitaka had lost count. It didn't matter. Nothing seemed to matter as Nadeshiko gripped him hard and began panting again. Her tiny whimpers were in rhythm with his movements, and this time he was taking it a little more slowly. It was less urgent now, more loving.
"All that I do," Yukito continued. "All that I say. All that I eat."
"And everyone you meet." Touya's hand was stroking the back of his hand now, in light and gentle brushes. Yukito swallowed. It was just the back of his hand. How could an insignificant part of his body be suddenly filled with such longing?
To his surprise, Eriol found himself being rolled over, until Tomoyo was on top of him on the blanket.
"I'm no goody-goody," she declared, moving her mouth lower.
"Absolutely not," Eriol agreed.
"I'll show them. I know how to have fun. And this is fun! It feels good!"
"Like you wouldn't believe," he assured her. She was unbuttoning his pants now, and he groaned out loud.
"All that you slight, and everyone you fight."
"Ready?" Fujitaka murmured, and she was silent, nodding a frantic yes. And then her slim body beneath him stiffened as she opened her mouth in a noiseless scream.
"All that is now… all that is gone…"
Eriol was gritting his teeth now to hold back the moans, thrusting his hips, wondering how she could be so good with no experience. She didn't seem to need a breath, even, but enclosed his length within her mouth and rubbed it with her tongue.
"All that's to come…"
For a moment it was pure bliss, and then Nadeshiko collapsed back against the pillows with a tired but contented sigh. Fujitaka fell atop her, and both were still.
Eriol could resist no longer but released, his body jerking slightly as he felt the heat erupt from within. Tomoyo sat up, shot him a wicked smile, and licked her lips before nestling up beside him to bask in the firelight.
"And everything under the sun is in tune…"
Yukito could hardly believe it, but Touya's nose was just molecules away from his. Both had been so caught up in the eerie chant that neither noticed, but both knew there could be no backing out at this point.
"But…" Touya prompted, and Yukito forced his mouth to function.
"But the sun is eclipsed by the moon."
"Not everything is eclipsed by the moon."
"Really." And then his lips were on Yuki's, and neither were thinking about Yue or anything else in the world.
"Got it," Syaoran declared, watching the thin blue line streak out into the darkness.
"It's the school," Sakura observed, surprised when they finally reached their destination. "Wasn't it already here? Why would it come back?"
"Dunno. Guess there's something about this place that it likes." The beam of his compass was wavering now, and he guessed that the Card was still too formless to pinpoint exactly. "What do you think? Outside the wall or in?"
Sakura closed her eyes and held her hand out. The rain had stopped completely, but there was still a lingering moisture in the air, a faint and clingy mist that obscured their vision. A strand of wet hair was plastered to her cheek, and Syaoran resisted the urge to comb it back.
"In, I think. And right on the other side. Come on, let's climb." She didn't bother to wait for a reply, but immediately started scrambling up the slick barrier. He followed, slipped, and struck his knee hard. He bit back a yelp, then slipped still further and banged the exact same knee. This time there was no question of keeping quiet.
"Fine, fine," he groaned, clambering up to the top to join her. "Just hit another brick in the wall. I'm sick of getting injured; we need to capture this Card now."
"Just so long as there's no brain damage," she said sweetly, and smiled. "But I don't see anything. Do you?"
There was more mist in the school courtyard, but nothing so thick that they wouldn't be able to see a mischief-making Card.
"No. But I can definitely feel it. It's just refusing to take its true form."
"How are we going to make it do that when we don't even know what it is?"
Syaoran sighed, loud and long.
"You got me."
Reluctantly, Touya pulled away. For another long moment, there was nothing but silence on the balcony.
"How was that?"
"It was… good," Yukito said, a little dazed. It had been more than good, it had been fabulous, but he didn't have the words at his disposal just then. He was too busy wondering how it had happened.
"The only 'why' is why this hasn't happened before now, Yuki. It's always been just the two of us, you know that. What's been holding us apart?"
Yukito opened his mouth to say that he didn't know – then he remembered.
"I was unsure."
"I have this – situation. And it's a rather odd situation, and I've spent the past few years just trying to keep a mental grasp on it. Sometimes I feel like I'm walking on thin ice over insanity, having this other being in my mind. And to bring you into that rather delicate situation… didn't seem fair to you. I didn't know if you'd want to get involved in that."
Touya startled him with a chuckle.
"What's so funny?"
"You! Or rather, nothing. Yuki, Yuki, don't you get what little time we have on this planet? It goes so quick." He snapped his fingers, and sent a regretful look up towards the sky. "To sit around and agonize over whether you're ready for a relationship that you know is right for you is just… a total bummer, man. How many of us ever go into a relationship as perfect? How could you not think I'd want to be there for you and help you?"
Yukito felt a little taken aback at his friend's impromptu speech, but he sensed the rightness of it immediately. How sensible it was to want to trust Touya and allow him in. Because there was no one he loved more on this earth.
Touya could see the agreement in his eyes and was already leaning in for another kiss.
"But – but what about Yue?"
"He's not bothering me. Why should he bother you?"
"But…" Yukito's words were lost in the kiss, and after Touya pulled back a second time he gave his friend a stern look.
"Hey man. It's free love."
Fujitaka shifted slightly, trying to keep his weight off his wife's slim body.
"Am I too heavy?"
"No." She adjusted her position slightly and pecked him quickly on the nose. "I would describe this as comfortably numb."
He laughed, and rested his head on her chest.
"You have no idea how much I've missed you. It's so wonderful that you're back."
"It isn't going to last, you know."
"What?" He propped himself up on his elbows to look her more directly in the eye. "What are you talking about?"
"Darling, you know I have to leave soon."
"But – but you just got back!"
"I know. But I have to go."
"No. Stay. Don't leave again; you're my wife, you're a mother. We need you here." There was a sympathetic but unyielding look in her eyes that made him quail inwardly. "Don't leave me now."
"Believe me when I tell you I don't want to, my love. But I don't exactly have a choice. This is just the way things are."
He dropped his eyes at that, unable to bear looking at her beautiful face any longer.
"I think it's the mist itself," Syaoran declared, reaching out and touching it gingerly. "That must be the source."
"Maybe." Sakura swiped at it, but there was no effect. "But how to contain it? I don't have the Cards; they're at home. And I'm afraid if I go back to get them, we'll lose it. This is what I get for wishing for some excitement. I am so unprepared!"
"I could use wind."
"But what if that just scatters it? We'll never find it again."
Yukito moaned aloud as Touya pressed him against the balcony railing and began to move his kisses lower down his chest. It wasn't exactly warm out, but he didn't protest when he felt his buttons being loosened.
"This… will change things, you know."
"I should hope so."
"We can never go back."
"You know it."
"Careful with that sword, Syaoran!" Sakura warned, jumping back as her boyfriend swiped ineffectually at the mist. "What if you just scare it into running again?"
"It's not going anywhere," he grunted in reply. "It's playing with us. It knows we don't know how to seal it."
"Well, you're not helping by slashing at it. Help me think. What kind of Card are we dealing with?"
"The empty spaces in your closet were what hurt the most, I think. After I finally forced myself to pack up your dresses, it hurt so much to look at those bare shelves. I really wasn't sure which was worse, at first. But after a time I just sort of stopped seeing them."
Nadeshiko caressed his face tenderly, an inexpressible sadness in her eyes.
"It was the only way to stop the pain. To just absorb myself in the daily routine of life. Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day… to fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way."
Yukito gripped the railing on each side with a vengeance, gritting his teeth.
"Does it feel good?"
"Yes," he gasped. "But – but he feels it too…"
"Good. Double the pleasure. We've put this off too long, Yuki. There's no reason to hold back anymore."
And then a warm wetness enclosed Yukito once more, and he couldn't have protested if he'd wanted to.
"And then the one day I found ten years had got behind me." Fujitaka sighed as he stroked a hand over Nadeshiko's perfect skin. "My children grew up in a heartbeat, it was so fast. I was just slogging away at my job, the only thing that I loved, determined not to pay any attention to anything else. No one told me when to run. I missed the starting gun."
They were pacing in a circle now, aimlessly wandering, Sakura moving slightly faster until she'd come up behind him again.
"A Wild Card. To awaken when the time is right. How is it right? What time was Clow talking about?"
"You were right," Tomoyo stated, and blew out a light cloud of smoke. "It does feel good."
Eriol grinned as he took the joint back from her fingertips.
"Aren't I always right?"
"This is so not me," she laughed.
"But it's fun." She laughed and fell into his arms as they snuggled against the cushions once more.
"The sun is the same in a relative way," he sighed. "But I'm older. And shorter of breath, and one day closer to death. How did I become this way, Nadeshiko? Why am I so afraid to wake up, feel life again? I'm afraid I'll only dwell on the pain of losing you."
"There are no easy answers to loss, Fujitaka. Only time."
"Time," he snorted. "Time is the enemy. Time was what did this to me, wrapping me in a coma of non-emotion, hanging on in quiet desperation. That's no way to live."
"Then live," she appealed to him. "Live for me, and our children. There's no need to feel guilty for me. I loved the time I had with you; every moment was precious to me. You have nothing to be afraid of. That's all I came back to tell you."
She stroked her fingers through his hair, taking his head in her hands.
"Our time is running out. It's almost time for me to go."
"Almost…" Yuki managed to choke out, and the rhythm increased, becoming more frenzied. The second before it happened, he could feel it begin to move, and he shuddered in delight. There was no question of marshalling his vocal chords to warn Touya, but his new lover didn't seem to mind. He simply stood and spat it out over the railing, where it disappeared into the darkness.
"I'm sorry, I -"
"For what? I thought it was great. Next time, though, it's your turn." Touya encircled him in his powerful arms, and Yukito couldn't stop himself from melting in them. "And there's going to be a lot of next times. We've got our whole life ahead of us. My very own dark side of the moon."
"Stop that." She wiped away a solitary tear that trickled down his cheek. "You promised, remember?"
"I know. I'm sorry. I just don't want you to leave me again in this life…"
"When you are sad for me," she lectured him firmly. "Remember a day. It doesn't matter which. Remember a day that we were happy and together and having fun. And know that we have an infinity of that waiting for us when it's time for us to be together again."
"Yes, really. I mean that more than anything else in my life." She giggled. "Well, you know what I mean. Now give me a last kiss. This one has to keep."
And so he kissed her, deeply, lovingly, gratefully. He had to make this moment last for the rest of his life.
Syaoran jerked to a halt, and Sakura almost bumped into him.
"Time," he said.
"What about it?"
"Sakura, don't you get it? The Card was arranged to wake when it was just the right time. Something that's supposed to happen needs to happen, before anymore time gets wasted."
"Our time is so quick, it can go so fast. What's the point in hanging around, waiting for something or someone to show you the way?"
"Syaoran, I think the Card is getting to you too -"
"No, Sakura, I get it. I finally get it. There's too much to be lost by waiting for nothing at all. Damn the consequences. I love you!"
And with that he placed both hands on each side of her face and leaned in for the kiss. And he kissed her, deeply, lovingly, gratefully. It was ridiculous that he hadn't done this earlier. But there was no point in moping about that. All he could do was kiss her.
She didn't respond at first, frozen in shock as he placed his lips on hers. But when his tongue parted them and began to explore her mouth, she hummed slightly and pressed up to meet him, molding herself into his arms as they traveled down her body and rested on the small of her back. Forever is not measured in minutes but in heartbeats, and forever they kissed until he finally pulled away to rest his forehead against hers.
Shallow breathing was all they could do for a moment.
"Wow," Sakura finally panted. "What took you so long?"
That struck him as terribly ironic, and funny in a humorless sort of way, and he chuckled. She did too, and both of them were so busy laughing that they almost missed it when the Card assumed its true form. Syaoran spotted it first.
"Sakura, look! The Card!"
She turned slightly to see a huge prism of crystal, in the shape of a pyramid and hovering gently over the brick wall of their school.
"What is it?"
"Heck if I know, but you better seal it quick."
She pulled off her necklace and began to chant the familiar phrases, wondering if her star staff was capable of even sealing a Card. But it must, Clow had planned for this.
Soon it was in her hand and she pointed it right at the glittering object.
"Return to the guise you were meant to be in. Clow Card!"
It hesitated only a moment before dissipating in a haze of magic, flowing toward the spinning star. And there the newly-formed Card floated for a moment before finally wafting to Syaoran's hand. Right away she noticed that it was not pink or red, but black, and bore the image of the crystal pyramid on its face. A rainbow was refracting from the many facets, and she could see the colors flash as Syaroan held it up to read the name.
"The Pink Floyd Card?" she said aloud. "What's that?"
"Not really sure. I think it's some old British rock band or something. Whatever. All that matters is, it's over."
"No," Sakura stated flatly, and he gave her a startled look.
"No, Syaoran, it's not over. We're only just beginning."
And with that she pulled him close and began to kiss him again.
Peacewish: Tada! There were 46 song titles (or slightly adjusted versions thereof) in there. Did you spot them all?
All: (stunned silence)
Peacewish: Okay, it was stupid. Is that what you want me to say?
Li: It's a start.
Touya: Where in god's name did you ever come up with such a zany idea?
Peacewish: If you must know, 'twas inspired by an episode of Power Puff girls. So you can blame them if you must. They did something similar with the Beatles, and I got the brilliant idea for this.
Li: She said 'brilliant.'
Touya: Yes, I definitely heard her say 'brilliant'. I must be hearing things.
Peacewish: I didn't use every song that Pink Floyd ever wrote, although that was my original intention. But hey, you try working "Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict" into conversation.
Eriol: I coulda done it. (passes out)
Li: Well, hey, that's an improvement.
Touya: You had me making out with Nakaru! Are you insane?
Peacewish: No, just deliciously sadistic. And that was why I decided to try this. I'm not a dedicated fan of the group, but Pink Floyd is so delightfully weird that I figured Clow probably was.
Clow: Groovy, baby. It was like, fun to manipulate the space/time continuum just so I could hear their psychedelic music. (takes a drag) Spinel, want a hit?
Spinel: You can't drag me into this! I have too much dignity for that!
Clow: Fine, I'll just share with Yue.
Yue: I'll show you my dark side of the moon.
Peacewish: Ahem. Yes, the subject matter between all our characters was a trifle raunchy and definitely immoral, but so was the sixties.
Clow: It was a groovy time, baby.
Touya: A trip.
Kero: Out there.
Peacewish: Whatever. I will now promptly get back to working on that Meilin piece that I promised you all. I have made it well into chapter four and am progressing nicely, working diligently on it every day and that has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Meilin has nicked Syaoran's sword and is smacking it impatiently against her leg.
Meilin: Nothing at all. Now get back to work!
Peacewish: Yes ma'am, coming ma'am. Won't be long, another month at the most.
Meilin: That's too long!
Peacewish: You can't rush art! Writers are so unappreciated!
Clow: Poor baby. Wanna drag?
Peacewish: Oh, and that reminds me. As a libertarian, I am a staunch advocate for drug legalization. However, not for fourteen year-olds. THIS STORY WAS IN NO WAY ANY KIND OF SUGGESTION THAT YOU SHOULD 'EXPERIMENT' IN DRUG USE – LIKE BUSH AND CLINTON DID.
Peacewish: Aw, stuff it. I'm getting back to my Meilin story. See you all in a month – for real this time.