The Dream Chaser
By Ekai Ungson
DISCLAIMER: Card Captor Sakura copyright CLAMP/Kodansha. Characters used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended and no money is being made.
This is for Chelle-sama and Ciircee-sama, the best pair of sisters any girl could call her own.
Let me know if I'm doing this right.
Let me know if my grip's too tight.
Let me know if I can stay all of my life.
Let me know if dreams can come true.
Let me know if this one's yours, too.
- "Gemini"; Spongecola
V: It's called love at first, and doesn't hurt
"You've been very… what the word… somber tonight, Eriol," Tomoyo said with some concern. "You haven't said anything but monosyllables since you picked me up today."
"Huh?" Eriol articulated.
"You just did it again!" Tomoyo said, laughing. "What's going on? Is there something wrong?" She frowned. "Was it me?"
He shook his head vigorously. "No, no, of course not." He looked away. "I'm just preoccupied."
"With what?" she asked. "I'll wheedle."
He turned to smile at her then, a bittersweet smile that didn't tell her anything at all. Or maybe it told her too many things at once? She shook her head lightly as if it would rid her of the thoughts. She moved to hold his hand. His response was immediate: he entwined his fingers with hers as if he'd been doing it forever.
His eyes had been clouded over the entire day. And he was acting so strangely. When he looked at her… Tomoyo shuddered suddenly. It caused him to look at her. "You're cold?"
"A little," she said. He removed his coat and placed it around her shoulders with a mild smile on his face.
"Is that better?"
"Yes, thank you."
He took her hand again and resumed walking. With every step Tomoyo took a thousand questions filled her head. The chatter she'd put up to mask the quiet of the day seemed to have extinguished itself inside of her.
Suddenly he stopped, and she looked up. They were in front of a little gazebo by a lake. She turned to him with a question on her lips, but he only tugged at her to follow.
She was fascinated by the moonlight playing on his face, the shadows the light formed against his features. There was something he wanted to say, she knew. What it was… well, she had an idea, but she really hoped that—
Suddenly he held her to him. Tightly. Her sharp intake of breath made him bury his face in her hair. They stayed that way for several minutes, for eternity.
"Am I holding you too tight, Tomoyo?"
Her name on his lips seemed staggered, strained. "Eriol, what's wrong?"
"You're a thousand wishes that came true," he said. "A thousand of my hopes and dreams."
He smelled like snow, she thought. And he was warm as the sunshine. "I…"
"No, don't talk yet. Let me listen to you breathe. Do you know that I watch you when you sleep? You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, ever held. What day is it? What month is it? I feel like I've held you forever. I feel like I've waited for you forever, wanted you for so long. I want to be where you dream, Tomoyo. I want to be inside your heart."
"You are inside my heart," she said, still a little confused. "Eriol, I don't understand." But the truth was she understood perfectly.
When he kissed her she was surprised to taste tears. Her own? He pulled away and she saw the world in his eyes. She saw herself.
"Please marry me, Tomoyo."
He felt her stiffen, and then struggle out of his grasp.
"No. Oh, God, no."
She looked at him with eyes swimming with tears. "Eriol, I'm sorry."
And then he watched her as she ran.
One would have thought that after a rejection like that, Hiiragizawa Eriol would sulk in his parlor, sit in the darkness, and brood about where he had gone wrong. At least, that was what his Guardians had thought, when they 'felt' their Master's emotions that very night.
But something had changed in Eriol's eyes when they came to fetch him from the park, hours after Tomoyo's flight from him at the gazebo. Nakuru and Spinel found their master sitting by the water, watching it glitter.
"… Eriol?" was Spinel's cautious greeting.
" … He's… not crying," Ruby Moon observed, in a stage whisper.
Suddenly, Eriol stood up. Ruby Moon and Spinel Sun blinked, wary of his next move.
Eriol was weighing the things in his heart. And realized that some things were worth chasing after.
So he went, off and running.
"Eriol!" Ruby Moon called out. She turned to Spinel in a panic. "Where is he going?"
"He's chasing his dream."
Tomoyo looked around the sunlit little cottage and smiled. From the window she could see a small lake, with a dock and a little boat. There was a rose garden out front, called the "Queen Anne"; and another flower garden at the back, called a "Mary Anne". She thought it was like living in the dollhouse Grandfather had made her as a child.
The birds were chirping out an early morning song. Tomoyo leaned in to listen as her mother signed for the house and turned to her.
"Well, it's official. This is our house now," Sonomi announced. She looked around. "Are you sure this is what you want? I could get us both something bigger in the area—"
"Okaasama, there's only going to be two of us now," she said. "I honestly don't see the need for a large, cavernous manor."
Sonomi pursed her lips. "I'm just worried that it's not exactly the kind of thing you're used to—"
"I think it's cute," Tomoyo said with a smile. "And you and I, I think we're ready to live in the country."
"But we should have picked something closer to the city, closer to the—"
Tomoyo's stare silenced Sonomi, whose worried eyes suddenly softened. "This makes me happy, Okaasama. Really. Thank you."
Sonomi smiled, then began chattering about unpacking, shopping for warmer clothes, the wonderful fresh air, the incredible view. Tomoyo didn't lie to her mother. She was happy, truly happy.
Just not… completely happy.
Tomoyo was asleep when she heard a soft, but sharp, ratatatatat on her windowpane. Her first instinct was to stare at the digital clock on her sidetable. It glowed, very clearly: 4:30 am.
The sound repeated itself. Ratatatatat.
She rubbed her eyes open to see a… tiny, glowing person—entity—Tomoyo's brow furrowed. "Okay. What?" She shook her head vigorously to make sure she wasn't dreaming. The entity looked pixie-like, much like a fairy from the picture books she used to love as a child.
For a moment, Tomoyo was tempted, very tempted, to believe that she was losing her mind. Either that or believe the stories of faeries and such from the storybooks. But the little pixie was waving at her, motioning her to come closer. Tomoyo went to the window and raised the windowsill. The pixie went willingly to her open palm and sat there, looking very pleased. She stared at it, then out into the darkness. Her eyes adjusted, and—
Eriol. She couldn't help but smile. She really should have known.
The pixie smiled in her hand, gave a little wave, and disappeared into a shower of sparkling glitter.
"Did you like my trick?" Eriol called out to her.
"I think you're insane!" she called back.
"Shall I come up?"
Tomoyo paused. She almost asked, "how?". Granted, there was a trellis leading up to her window, and he could climb that—but in this… mood that Eriol was in, she wouldn't put flying past him. "No, I'll go down there. You wait," she told him sternly. He flashed her a cheerful smile.
When she opened the front door, Eriol was sitting on the swing on the porch. "How did you know where I was?" she asked.
"Information is easy to get, if you know who to pay for it," he told her easily. "This is a very nice house," he said conversationally.
"Thank you. What are you doing here?"
He grinned at her. "Tomoyo, I'm hurt. It's four in the morning, it's cold, aren't you going to invite me in? I am, after all, your boyfriend."
Tomoyo was torn between utter confusion and exasperation. She would have thought that after what had happened the other night, he would never want to see her or speak to her again. She had, after all, broken his heart.
But he didn't look like he had his heart broken. She eyed him warily. "Eriol—"
"First of all, I don't believe for a second that you don't love me."
Tomoyo put a hand to her lips. To think that-- why would he think that? "Eriol, I never said that I didn't love you."
"Exactly, that's why I don't believe it." His grin was Cheshire. "So I am forced to wonder why you don't want to marry me. I thought about it. Really, really thought hard." He looked at her. "And I still don't know. So—" He took two steps towards her. Suddenly, he seemed so tall, even if he were only really a few inches taller than her. Tomoyo took a step back instinctively.
"So, what?" she said. "You want an answer? Eriol, I don't have an answer. It's just so complica—hmmph."
She was cut off midsentence by the very insistent pressure of his lips on hers. First, she fought, hitting him, trying to evade. But Eriol was awfully persistent, and Tomoyo had to give in.
When he released her, his eyes were very, very blue. "See, Tomoyo-san, it's not very complicated at all."
She averted her eyes. "There's more to it than what you know," she said softly.
"All I know is that you love me," he said. "You love me so much, it shows in everything you do, in everything you say. I don't know why you don't want to marry me when you really want to—"
"Well, now, that's just being cocky—"
"—but I'm going to find out, don't you worry." He cupped her chin, raised her eyes to his. "I'm not going to stand around here and watch you walk away from me."
Tomoyo released an exasperated sigh. "Eriol. Please don't push it."
"Oh, I'll push it. I'll keep pushing it until I get to the truth, to what you're hiding from me. You were hiding, weren't you? In this little house, away from the city, away from me."
"I was not hiding."
"So give me the simple answer to the simple question; why won't you marry me? And you can't tell me that you don't love me. You do."
"I do. Love you."
"See, you're already saying your 'I do'. What would be so hard about saying that in front of a minister?"
"You're being awfully annoying."
He smiled at her. "The fact that you love me is enough for me to want to push it. Please tell me what's wrong."
"Can't a girl just say 'no'!" cried Tomoyo.
"Give me one good reason why, Tomoyo. Just one single good reason why you won't marry me."
She had a hundred reasons. A thousand reasons. The trouble was, they were all excuses. Some of them weren't even true. The one reason, the one, only reason why she didn't want to marry this man, the man she had loved all her life, was—
"Fine. I won't push you. Not right now, anyway." He released her from his grip. Tomoyo staggered backwards, suddenly cold.
Eriol walked down the porch, towards her roses. Unable to stop herself, she stepped forward and gripped the porch rail.
He turned to look back at her. "I love you too much to let you go."
As she watched him get into his car and drive away, Tomoyo felt her heart sink.
That's what I was afraid of.