Tatshua .. T-Tatshua ..

Tatshua .. no .. n-no ..!

My l-love, the girl whispered, panting as she reached his body, sprawled on the bloody bedroom floor. Heavy tears poured from her terror-filled eyes as she took his bloody arm into her hand, searching franticly for a pulse that had not been there for hours.

N-No .. no .. please, she cried, kneeling into one of the two puddles of fresh blood, each under one of the boy's wrists. Her choked sobs filled the dark room as she screamed and cried his name, holding his cold body in her shaking arms.

she choked, cradling his head in her pale hands, Tatshua .. w-why .. tell me why ..

Blood began to stain her delicate silk kimono, stiffing it as it dried into a morbid black crust. The girl cried and screamed long into the night, never quieting, never leaving the boy's side.

She froze when she heard the bedroom door creak open, letting some shadowy light into the cursed room. She slowly turned her head, still cradling his. She gasped at the dark shadow that loomed there, covered from head to foot in long, black robes. He had no face, only a dark voice.

He is dead, the voice stated simply. Gone. Your tears do nothing for him.

Leave me be, the girl hissed, though her voice was trembling in fear. Go .. leave us alone ..

I can bring him back, the voice said hauntingly.

You ... you can?, the girl whispered, her hands still tangled in her lover's hair.

the voice said. You would do anything for him, wouldn't you, girl?

the girl said, trembling as fresh tears poured down her face.

the voice stated again, not questioning himself.

the girl affirmed, pulling his body closer to her stomach.

We will make a trade, the voice of the shadow said, still looming in the doorway. Your life ... for his.

The girl's eyes widened in fear as the bloody knife that had been laying abandoned on the floor near the boy suddenly began to levitate, moving slowly toward her.

Take it, the voice taunted. Join me, serve me, and I will give him back his life.

the girl whispered under her breath, shaking. She slowly untangled her hands from the boy's hair and lifted them, reaching her hand out toward the knife that was slowly drifting toward her, blood dripping off it onto the floor.

the voice said quietly. Yes ... yes ..

================================================================


You're such a fool, Syaoran,' Sakura thought numbly, pressing both of her hands against the warm, rough brick. You just can't see through your own pain ... not even for the truth, you refuse to open your eyes ...'

she whispered, resting her forehead too on the hard school wall.

I just can't believe you'd trust her over me. I've been nothing but kind to you from the beginning, but she ... she's been laughing at you for years ... I hate her so much ... for what she's done to you ... and for what she's doing now ... but why ... why ...'

Why now suddenly be kind to Syaoran? What is she playing at, setting me up to look as though I want to hurt him? Maybe ... maybe she wants him for herself ... but, no ... that doesn't make sense, she hated him before ...'

Sakura whispered, Why?! I don't understand this ...

It's simpler than you think, really.

Sakura's eyes shot open as she heard the voice. She gasped, spinning around to pin her back against the wall.

he said gently, running a transparent hand through his silky blue hair, It's just me. Eriol.

Sakura winced, panting. You scared me.

Eriol laughed gently, smiling at her with kind eyes. His body shimmered in the natural sunlight like a white shadow, transparent and thin in the open air.

How can you be here?, Sakura gasped, looking at him. You don't have a body, you're dead, you're ...

Only my old body is dead, Sakura, Eriol said serenely, unmoved by her fear. I had to come here. There is something that you ... should know.

What if someone sees you?!, she whimpered, looking around frantically. Students still crowded the picnic tables yards away, chatting happily, oblivious.

Only you can see or hear me, Eriol answered simply. Sakura. I haven't much time. Ahh ... we should have never sent a beginner on this assignment ...

she stuttered, swallowing the lump in her throat. What is it? Eriol, you're ... scaring me ... oh! Is it something about Syaoran? Do you know how to get through to him? He won't trust me, he-

He is protecting himself, Eriol said, his glimmering hair blowing in the wind. From the one person he is weak to, the one person who could most easily hurt him because they ... have his heart.

Sakura said softly. He ... he cares for me?

You know that he does, Eriol said, his smile slowly fading. I am sorry, but I cannot tell you how to reach him. That is for you to find out. That is your assignment- to open his heart to the love that will save him. But please, Sakura. There is something you must know. Let me speak.

The firm tone in his voice silenced any further questions Sakura had. She nodded timidly.

Thank you, Eriol sighed. There is another angel here, on assignment.

Sakura yelped. Really?! Why didn't you tell me that I had a partner? Oh, Eriol, I need all the help I can-

She is not on our side, the blue-haired angel spoke ominously, bowing his head slightly. She is not one of us. She is dark. She is ... fallen.

Sakura whispered. Do you mean ... she works with the Devil?

There is no Devil, Satan, whatever you might call it, as some believe, Eriol explained grimly. If you sin on Earth, you do not go to him. Rather, you are chosen by him to join his ranks. He tempts lost souls ... in the worst ways.

I don't understand, Sakura whispered, frowning. Why doesn't Heaven just ...

In the Universe, everything must balance, Eriol continued, his eyes darkening. Where there is light, there is also darkness. While we exist, so does our compliment: evil.

I .. I see, Sakura said, her voice trembling. So there is an .. evil .. angel .. here?

You could say that, yes, Eriol affirmed without emotion.

Sakura asked, tears swelling in her emerald eyes. What does she want? What does she want with ... with Syaoran?

The opposite of what we want, Eriol said calmly. To see him die by his own hand, so that in death, he could be ... chosen.

Sakura cried, the tears flowing freely down her cheeks. NO! I won't let that happen! I won't let Syaoran die! Never! I ...

I know, Eriol said, narrowing his eyes. I have confidence in you. Just know that you are being opposed. Someone here is working against your efforts. I believe you know already who she is.

Sakura questioned. A girl .. ahh ... ahh.

She narrowed her eyes as well, clenching her hand into a fist.

I know, she whispered angrily.

Be wary of her, Eriol warned. Her heart has been blackened and deceived. She will stop at nothing to see you fail at your mission.

Don't worry, Sakura said. I won't lose to her.

Remember, Sakura, Eriol said darkly, This is not a game. In just a few days, Syaoran will either live or die. His life is at stake.

I know, Sakura whispered. I know. I won't let anything happen to him, because I .. I ..

I must leave you now, Eriol said suddenly. Take care, young Sakura.

Sakura cried, lifting her eyes suddenly, Wait, don't go! I need your-

Eriol said simply, vanishing.

Sakura felt her fist loosening as she stared out into the empty air, tears still burning at her eyes.

I won't let anything happen to you, Syaoran, she whispered quietly. I promise you that ...

I won't let anything happen to you, darling, a sharp voice mocked, whispering into her ear. I promise you, I'll save you from yourself, my love ...

Sakura froze, her emerald eyes widening.

It's you, she whispered, not turning her head to look.

Yes, it's me, Meiling whispered back, her scarlet eyes flashing. I heard the entire thing ... yes ... so now you finally know about me.

I thought no one could see Eri-

Only the dead can see the dead, Meiling hissed, stepping from Sakura's side to the her front, just inches away from her face. I was wondering when you would figure it out.

You lied to him, Sakura whispered, staring into her ruby eyes.

Of course I lied, Meiling said simply, licking her lips. And he's so gullible, too. The only thing he trusts in is the fact that everything will fall apart. It was all too easy to make him think you were just a whore that was playing with him ... he's so ... weak ...

Don't talk about him like that, Sakura snapped, narrowing her eyes.

Oh, I forgot, Meiling mocked, You love him, don't you? You get so personal with your assignments ... you shouldn't, really ... you're an angel now, you'll have so many. You won't even remember him in a few hundred years. You're so fresh from life, mmm ... still so human in spirit ...

I won't forget him, Sakura said softly, her eyes dangerous.

So new, Meiling continued, smirking as she reached up her hand and grabbed Sakura's chin, sinking sharp fingernails into skin. Sakura winced, struggling to shake herself free.

Look at me, Meiling commanded, holding Sakura's jaw firmly in place. You really think that you can defeat me in this, don't you? You, barely dead and yet so sure of yourself? How many lives have you saved, angel? How many? Tell me!

Sakura whispered, crying out as Meiling's nails dug in further.

Meiling purred. And how many have I lost, you might wonder? Hundreds, oh, hundreds. I've been dead for so long that just being in this disgusting human shell sickens me. You are no match for me.

I'll never let you-

Now be a good girl and hold still, Meiling hissed, bowing her head to Sakura's neck. She parted her lips slowly, smiling as Sakura cried out with pain when her teeth sunk into her throat.

She pulled away smirking, licking her pale lips.

W-Why did y-you, Sakura stuttered as Meiling released her chin.

See? Just a little bruise, she purred, running her pale, cold fingers over the pulsing circle of purple and black, the mark of her teeth red and shining with saliva. Syaoran will ... surely ... never even noticed. Oh, Sakura, you naughty little girl ...

Ahh ... ahh, Sakura panted, tears coming to her eyes.

Tsk tsk, Meiling purred. You're so helpless, angel ... they should have never sent a new one to go against me.

Sakura panted, groping at her neck. When she opened her eyes, Meiling had vanished.

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That was more of a plot-setting-up chapter than anything, but mmm, I guess I liked it. The next chapter is when Sakura actually confronts Syaoran. Will he trust her, and how will Sakura get him to open his heart and listen to her? I don't know yet ... heh. ^_^

The tempting lost souls bit is going to be very important near the end of the story ...I have it all planned out, and I can't wait. Hehe. Anyways, the traditional end of the chapter message:

Thank you very much for reading, minna-chan, and thank you for the lovely reviews! We're at over 200 now! Yatta! =D You're all so nice to me ... uhm, as usual, please review if you have any comments or questions or suggestions! Thank you muchly!

Oh, and yes ... BLESSED YULE to everyone! ^_^ I hope you all get good presents!