~Chapter Sixteen: Stars Of Remembrance
"I'll get it!" Syaoran called out, bursting out of his room as soon as he heard the doorbell. Skidding to a halt at the front door, he took a breath and tried to calm himself down. It was so hard to keep that jittery feeling in his stomach away, even now.
He was grinning even before the door swung open. "Hey," he said, unable to take his eyes off those breathtaking green eyes.
"Hi," smiled Sakura. Her gaze washed over him like sun-warmed ocean waves.
"You look beautiful," Syaoran murmured.
"I look the same as I did when you saw me an hour ago!" she laughed. "And maybe even worse, since the wind blew my hair all over the place on my walk here."
"So what. I have the right to tell you how incredibly beautiful you are. So I will. Whenever I feel like it." He stuck his tongue out at her, but Sakura only giggled and shoved him out of the way so she could enter the house. Following closely at her back, Syaoran slyly gave her hair a yank.
But Sakura's reflexes were quick. Dashing out in an instant, her hand caught his, and she whirled around to face him. "If you like my hair so much, why don't you grow out your own," she suggested. "Then you'll have nice long silky hair to play with, and then we can go to Tomoyo's and get you a makeover..."
Her voice trailed off as Syaoran leaned over and kissed her hair. He wasn't sure if completely disregarding her words would annoy her or not, but he just couldn't resist. "Nah...it's okay. It wouldn't be as fun." Smiling into her hair as he felt her arms wind around his neck, Syaoran gave her a gentle squeeze. After a month of being together, it was still amazing to him. Who knew love could be so warm?
They broke apart hurriedly at the voice. Standing in the doorway was a tall young man with dark hair and a less than happy expression on his face. "Oh, Touya!" said Sakura. "What are you doing here? I told you not to follow me!"
"Well, I did," he growled. "And I don't see any HOMEWORK going on here. So this must be the little brat?"
"Hey!" exclaimed Syaoran, bristling with anger. "Who do you think you are?"
"It's okay, Syaoran, it's just my brother." She rolled her eyes. "Touya, please. You can go home now."
Touya didn't move from his position at the door. His piercing eyes were fixed on Syaoran, who glared evenly back.
"Um, guys?" Sakura asked, looking positively exasperatedly.
"Fine, I'm leaving!" Touya finally said. "Listen, you, don't you dare hurt my sister. If you ever make her cry-" He held up his fist and shook it threateningly.
"Never," Syaoran promised, his eyes burning.
"You'd better not, for your own sake," replied Touya. He punched Syaoran in the arm, making him wince. "Be home by dinner, Sakura, and have that homework finished. Or else we're not going tomorrow."
"Stupid brother," grumbled Sakura as she closed the door behind him. "He came home from college today because they don't have school next Monday, so he's spending the long weekend with us. I told him not to come here because he's so overly protective, as you saw, but I guess he came along without me knowing. Sorry about that."
"No problem," said Syaoran. "Um, did he say you guys are going somewhere tomorrow?"
"Oh yeah!" Her eyes brightened. "Since it'll be Saturday, and the cold season is coming soon, and Touya is home, I managed to convince my dad to let us go to the beach!"
"Oh...cool," he said, trying to sound happy for her. But he had hoped to spend some time with her tomorrow.
"Stupid, you're coming with us!" exclaimed Sakura, grabbing his arm and yanking him toward his room. On second thought, she left him standing bewildered in the hall and disappeared for a moment in the other direction. "Hi Mrs. Li! Thanks for having me over!" he heard her cheerful voice float out from the living room where his mother was working.
Smiling, he shook his head and began to pull out binders and papers from his backpack. He turned as Sakura bounded into his room and tossed her backpack on his bed. "Are you sure it's okay for me to come along? I mean, I don't want to ruin a family thing..."
"It's fine," Sakura confirmed, flipping to the right page in her math book. "And it's not just you. Your mom's coming too."
"WHAT? But that's-"
"And Tomoyo's mom," she continued. "It's a three-family outing, plus Eriol since his parents are overseas somewhere. This way, me, you, Tomo, and Eriol get to hang out together, the parents get to hang out together, and Touya has some friends he's gonna meet there."
"Oh. Okay, that's cool," Syaoran grinned, relieved.
Setting down her math book, Sakura wandered over to the birdcage. "How've you been, my widdle Xiao Ying poo?" she said, opening the door for the bird.
"Hey, don't spoil my budgie like that!" complained Syaoran, holding up a hand. Xiao Ying flitted to him immediately and started up his arm to chew on his hair. "You're a big grown-up birdie now, aren't you, Ying?"
"Sakura!" Ying squeaked in response, evoking a squeal of delight from Sakura.
"You really taught him to say my name!" she cried, dashing over and giving Syaoran a big hug.
"Nah, he's just a really smart bird," he replied modestly. "And he loves you a lot."
"Aww...thank you, Xiao Ying!" said Sakura. She kissed him quickly on the beak and paused for a moment. "What?" she said to Syaoran, who was gazing at her expectantly.
"Oh, so you give the bird a kiss and not me?" he huffed, pretending to be outraged. "Is it my looks? I see, Xiao Ying is just too handsome for me to compare, huh. Fine." Frowning at her, he let the bird back into its home and flopped heavily down on his back on the bed. When Sakura peered curiously down at his face, he grabbed a pillow and covered his head.
"Go away," he said, his voice muffled against the pillow. "I'm feeling hurt and depressed."
Syaoran heard a giggle, then felt a warm hand reach under the pillow and caress his cheek. "Mmm..wah," came Sakura's voice, along with a slight pressure on the pillow against his face. "There. I kissed you."
"That doesn't count! You kissed the pillow!" remarked Syaoran, reaching out for another pillow. "Here, this-" He bonked her on the head. "-is for liking the bird better than me, and this-" He smacked her gently with the other pillow. "-is for being such an amazing person."
"What kind of logic is that??" she cried. She struggled to reach one of the pillows in vain, since he was holding them above her head.
"My logic," he replied, tossing both pillows at her and running for his life.
"AAHH Syaoran, you idiot! You are so dead!" shouted Sakura. Grabbing the pillows, she chased after him into the living room and bombarded his back with pillow blows while his mother watched amusedly.
"Okay...okay..." he gasped, laughter broken with a quick glance at his mother. "Let's go do homework now."
"Butthead," Sakura growled. She slapped him one last time with a pillow before he yanked it from her and ushered her back into his room. At their backs, he could hear Yelan chuckle.
"All right," said Syaoran, taking a breath. "Math. Need help on any problems...? Sakura!"
Paying no attention to him, she was halfway across the room, examining a long sword on the wall. "That's awesome," she breathed. "Can I see it?"
With a sigh, he took it down and drew the gleaming sword out. "Wow..." Sakura gingerly touched the cold metal. "Do you know how to use it?"
"Well, I do, but I don't use this one anymore. It's too small, and it's only a practice sword," he explained. "It was my first sword ever. There were some valuable lessons and reminders that go with this sword...as well as certain memories..." The little girl. His heart thumped as he remembered. She had once grasped this sword, and he had helped her lift it. He shook his head. It didn't matter now. He had Sakura.
"Mmm." She nodded slowly, with a strange expression on her face. As though there was something on her mind she was trying to remember, but couldn't. Her gaze met his, and it cleared again as they smiled at each other. "Okay, let's work. Or else we'll never get to go to the beach," she said, reaching for her pencil.
Two hours later, as they were just finishing up the last few math problems, Sakura's pencil ran out of lead. "Darn it," she muttered, furiously clicking the eraser end. "Syaoran, you have some spare lead lying around?"
"Yeah, over there. That drawer under the desk," he said, pointing. "Should be in there somewhere, under all those papers and other stuff."
"'Kay, I found it," replied Sakura.
Syaoran went back to his math problem, expecting Sakura to come back to his side. But she didn't, and there was only silence. After a second, he looked up.
She was still there at the shelf, staring inside with an odd look on her face. The same expression Syaoran had seen when she had looked at the sword. "Hey, what is it?" he asked.
In answer, she reached into the drawer, scooped something up from the bottom, and came slowly over to him. She held out her hand, and it took a moment for Syaoran to realize what it was.
A small pile of slightly crumpled, fading paper stars, layered with dust.
"Her stars!" he uttered, before he could stop himself.
Sakura's eyes rose to meet his. "Who?"
Reddening, Syaoran was silent as he went over to the drawer and rooted around before coming up with a small, rectangular glass box. He held it to Sakura, and she let the stars fall into their rightful place. But her eyes never left his.
"Whose stars, Syaoran? Who is it?" Her voice trembled a little. Syaoran tried to shove those cursed stars back into the drawer, but she stopped his hand. Oh great, she must think they're from another girl now. How can I explain?
"Look, I don't exactly know who she is-" he began, but Sakura cut him off by pouncing on his neck.
"Where's your shell necklace?" she demanded, her voice rising.
"It's...uh...on the bookshelf," said Syaoran, confused. Did she think his necklace was from another girl too? He blushed. Well, technically, it was, but it was so long ago...
Snatching it off the shelf, Sakura held it gently in her hands as thought it might break any moment, like a fragile egg. Her eyes flew from the shell to the stars in Syaoran's hand. A look of dawning realization flitted across her face.
"You're the one..." she whispered wonderingly. "You're...him. It wasn't just a dream..."
"What?" asked Syaoran, staring at her.
"Come on," she said simply. She took off down the hall and to the front door, with Syaoran steps behind her.
"W-wait, where are we going?" he stumbled, following her outside. He was barely able to keep up with her fast-paced walking, so he jogged next to her instead.
"My house," replied Sakura. She was focused on the sidewalk ahead with a look of strict determination.
"You'll see when we get there."
It was silent for the rest of the walk, until Sakura reached her house, threw open the door, and raced upstairs without a word. Syaoran came in more hesitantly, closing the door behind him. Fujitaka and Touya both stared at him, and he wanted to sink into a hole in the floor.
"Did you do something to her already, you brat?" Touya glared at him menacingly.
"N-no! I didn't do anything!" protested Syaoran, his face turning pink. "She just made me come with her here and-"
"SYAORAN!" shouted Sakura from upstairs. At once, he bolted up the stairs and followed her voice into her room. The clomping of feet behind him could be heard as Touya and Fujitaka followed.
An open box was sitting on her bed, and around it was littered small clothes and mementos from her childhood. Syaoran could tell that this box hadn't been opened for a long time.
"Look," she said breathlessly, holding out an open palm. "Look. I found them. I told you I'd keep them forever."
A small handful of yellowing, clumsily-made paper stars. Syaoran couldn't rip his eyes away from them. Those stars...the stars he had made...
The auburn-haired little girl's voice echoed into his mind. "I'll keep 'em, and I'll never lose them, ever!"
"I'll never lose your shell either. I'll always keep it close to me." His lips slowly traced the words he had said so long ago, in reply.
Syaoran looked at the shell necklace Sakura was clutching, then into her quivering emerald eyes, filled with tears.
"I never did...I never lost it," he whispered, putting his hand over hers, the one holding the shell. "I never lost the memories, they had just been inside me, waiting...waiting to be let out. I..."
"I remember you now," she smiled happily through her tears. "I've finally found you...my amber-eyed little boy..."
She threw her arms around him and buried her face in his shoulder, tears of happiness spilling down like sparkling raindrops.
"Oh my gosh, you should have called me!" gushed Tomoyo. She slammed a fist down on Eriol's knee for emphasis, and he grimaced in pain. "Imagine what a tape it would've made...how emotional...ugh, I can't believe I missed it!!"
"Oh sure, call you over, and then have us do a reenactment of the scene?" said Syaoran wryly. He eyed Sakura, who was sitting next to him, and she giggled.
"Yeah! Could you?" Tomoyo asked hopefully, twisting around in her seat to look back at the two.
"No!" They both bursted out at the same time. Their hearty laughter was joined with Fujitaka's from the driver's seat.
"Hey, I wonder how your mom and Tomoyo's mom are doing in the other car," mused Sakura as she snuggled a bit closer to Syaoran, squishing him against the car door.
"With your brother and his friend?" Syaoran scoffed. "They can't be having nearly as much fun as we are."
"Sakura, who was that hot guy with Touya anyway?" said Tomoyo slyly.
Laughing at Eriol's consternation, Sakura replied, "He's Yukito, a friend of Touya's from college. Isn't he cute, though? Whaddya think, Syaoran?" She grinned and poked him in the side.
"Yeah, sure, he's so hot, blah blah blah..." his voice trailed off as he suddenly stuck his nose in her hair. "Mmm...your hair smells like flowers," he murmured absently, playing with a reddish-brown strand.
"Do you have no PRIDE, Syaoran?" cried Eriol. "I think that you girls need to stop being so mean to us."
"Well, no one cares what you think," Tomoyo teased him. At his crestfallen expression, she leaned her head on his shoulder and gave a contented sigh, at which he immediately melted.
From the front, Fujitaka heaved an exaggerated sigh. "You kids make me feel old and gray," he lamented, glancing up at the couples from the mirror.
"Aww, Mr. Kinomoto, we need to find you a girlfriend," said Eriol, with a grin that indicated he was plotting evilly. "How about...Yelan?"
"Ewww no!!" screamed Sakura, staring at Eriol with horror. "Then Syaoran will be my brother!"
"Oh yeah...forgot. Okay then. Sonomi?"
"Yes, that'd be cool!" exclaimed Tomoyo, her eyes lighting up. "Then we could be sisters, Sakura!"
"As much as I appreciate the thoughts, Eriol, I'm quite all right the way I am," Fujitaka chuckled. "I'm not completely alone, anyway. Nadeshiko is always here beside me."
Sakura smiled. "If I was ever gone, would you say the same thing, Syaoran?"
"Of course," he answered at once, resting his head against hers. "But I won't ever have to, because you'll never be gone. You'll always be here with me."
*A/N – Yup, that's it! Everything's all tied up (mostly)! The....END! ^_^
Okay, I'm extremely sorry for taking...nearly two months on this chapter? Geez, has it really been that long? O_O Wow...well anyway, if I had been reading this story and the author took so long, I'd probably be: 1) really mad that she took so freakin long, and 2) having no idea what the heck she's talkin about in this chapter because I'd forget everything that happened before... So once again, sorry, and feel free to read the entire story over again to get a better ending effect! I did. ^_^
Now that this story is FINALLY over with, once I find the time somewhere underneath these humongous piles of schoolwork and SAT prep and all that fun stuff, I'll start a new one. I can't wait! :-D Maybe I'll have to wait until summer again, when I actually disciplined myself to update once or twice a week... -_-;; But no, don't worry, I'll be back soon! Please watch for the new story when it comes! ^^
Reviewers and readers:
A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL!! You're part of what kept me going, provided me loads of inspiration, and made me smile and feel it was all worthwhile. As always, I'm extremely glad to know that you like my story even a tiny lil bit! Even the shortest comment, like "Nice story.", is awesome. ^_____^ I wish I could take the time to thank each and every one of you individually, but as you can see from above, I'm finally getting into the true meaning of BUSY in high school. So just remember how much every word you put in, every minute you spent reading about Saku and Syaoran, means to me! (LOTS!!) ^__^
You can always AIM me at Fantasiimaker if I'm ever online, or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions, comments, anything. If you personally email me, I always reply!
Oh, and I'll be compiling a last "Q&A" chapter to answer in detail any questions (Why is the story called "Spilling Stars"?), clear up fuzzy parts of the story, or to laugh at where the authoress was dumb and made a big glaring mistake. (Example: Ch14, Tomoyo had her camera at the beginning of the dance, but in Ch15, her camera somehow ceased to exist...-_-;;) So in your reviews or emails, be SURE to point any mistakes/questions you want answered out to me!!! If your question is unique, I'll put your name next to it in the Q&A chappie. ^_~
Ok, that's it! Hope you enjoyed your journey through Spilling Stars, and please come back and read again sometime!