AN: Have you ever had a story where you just have to be in a certain mood to write it? Well, that's what this story has become for me. I tried. I swear, I tried. But for whatever reason, nothing was working the way I wanted it to, so I simply set it aside until it went how I wanted it to go. And it finally worked out. That's my excuse—I haven't been able to find the right mood.
Someone asked me a while back how this could have ET in it if Tomoyo's dead. Well, here ya go, as promised. The big romance chapter!!! I sincerely hope I don't disappoint anyone. I worked really hard on this chapter! Originally it was going to just be ExT, but then I decided that there was something else I needed to do. So a nice, long chappie for y'all. I mean, loooooong. I don't own CLAMP, just my plotline.
Oh yeah, and the lyrics woven into the second half of this chapter are from a song called "How Could I Ever Know?" from the Broadway musical The SecretGarden. I can't remember who wrote it, and I'm too lazy to look it up, but whoever they are, they own it, not me!!!
It was a surprisingly pleasant day outside. It was the sort of day that could raise anybody's spirits, no matter what. For that reason, Sakura and Syaoran opted to go out walking. They headed to the park, where there were plenty of other people out enjoying the nice weather.
For the first time in quite some time, Sakura actually felt her spirits lightening. Maybe it was the sunshine, the brightness, or maybe it was even that time was going by and healing the wound, but she felt better than she had in quite some time. She still had a problem smiling, but she did feel better.
They didn't talk much as they wandered; Syaoran seemed to sense that she was mulling things over—namely, her increasingly improving mood. It almost felt like a betrayal, to be cheering up when her best friend was dead.
Finally, after they'd been walking around the park for a while, Sakura broke the silence to confess that worry. "I'm feeling better. It's getting easier to deal with. But it feels like I'm betraying her."
He actually stopped dead in his tracks. "Nani?!?"
She blushed a little. "She's dead," she said bluntly, "and I'm moving on." A pause while he processed this. "I don't want to forget her."
"Cheering up doesn't mean you're forgetting her!" Syaoran protested, finally knowing why she had been so quiet. "I mean, didn't she always say you were at your best when you were happy?" No response, so he went on. "If Tomoyo heard you, I think she'd probably have some words about that."
Sakura made a small sound that he interpreted as being agreement, or possibly an 'I'll think about that' grunt. He didn't say anything more, but let her lead the way. Finally, she ended up by the fountain in the middle of the park. She plopped down on the edge of the cement pool and absently looked down into the blue-white water, dotted all over with coins on the bottom from wishes past.
And she gasped.
"S-Syaoran…" Sakura whispered, gesturing with one hand for him to come closer.
He obeyed, inching nearer, and peered over her shoulder into the fountain.
There was Sakura's reflection, and his beside it…and a third one. A dark-haired one, wearing purple clothes and a big smile. He knew that face…quickly he turned and looked around; there was no one behind him. But when he looked down again, it was still there.
"T-T-Tomoyo?" he stammered. The reflection nodded; then Tomoyo's reflection turned and moved away, as though she had simply turned and wandered off, walking away from them.
"Don't worry so much," a cheerful voice said in his mind. Beside him, Sakura's head snapped up, so he assumed that she heard it as well. "Please. Don't be so sad. I'm fine. Sakura-chan, a smile will always suit you the best."
Sakura turned and looked at her boyfriend in wide-eyed shock; Syaoran wore the same expression.
For a moment, he was sure she was going to panic, given her intense and longstanding fear of ghosts, but instead, she actually smiled.
Something she hadn't done in a long time. Syaoran found himself smiling back.
And unbeknownst to both of them, nearby, there was someone else smiling, too.
The darkness was a longtime friend of Eriol's, and had become moreso as of late.
He kept his room plunged into pleasant, pleasing darkness. It was like a barrier, a shield to protect him from anyone and everyone. It didn't make sense to anyone else, nor did he expect it to.
At this moment, he was sprawled in the comfort of his room, on the comfort of his bed. He pulled the pillow around his face as tightly as he could; he couldn't breathe very well like that, but he didn't care too much. With this arrangement, Nakuru and Spinel wouldn't be able to hear him. They already knew he wasn't himself.
Clow Reed had not been the kind of person who really cried. And for the longest time Hiiragiziwa Eriol had been the same way. But that had changed with the screeching of brakes.
Tears seeped from his eyes into the pillowcase; it wasn't very long before it was soaked. He didn't know how long he stayed like that, either. Not that it mattered too much…
"Shh…" a soft, familiar voice whispered soothingly; he felt a hand on his shoulder in a gesture of silent comfort. "It's okay. Go ahead." He wasn't sure who the voice belonged to—it was a female voice, but it wasn't Nakuru. He didn't argue, but obeyed, letting everything go in a way he hadn't been able to for a long time. And the owner of the voice kept a hand on his back, murmuring softly.
Where did he know that voice from? Why did his heart skip half a dozen beats when he heard it, whispering to him in the dark? He searched his memory. And finally, he put a face with the voice. And his heart shattered all over again with an audible sound, like a mirror dropped onto a stone floor, shards scattering everywhere.
His sore, tear-filled eyes snapped open, and he pushed himself up into a sitting position, whirling around to face the hitherto-unknown person in the room with him. His jaw dropped.
Sitting beside him on the bed, Tomoyo smiled gently, as though silently laughing at him. "Close your mouth before you swallow something you'll regret."
How could I know I would have to leave you?
How could I know I would hurt you so?
You were the one I was born to love
Oh, how could I ever know?
How could I ever know?
There was a soft click as his teeth hit together when his jaw snapped closed. "D-D-Daidouji-san?"
"So formal, old friend?" she asked calmly. "We've known each other for far too long, and I don't have time for formalities. So please call me Tomoyo, just like always."
Eriol still looked as though he was going to either faint or scream—or perhaps both.
She reached out and touched his hand. "Eriol-kun, please. It's all right."
He looked down at where her fingers were making contact with his; it was cold, like an icy wind had touched his skin. Then he looked back up into those midnight colored eyes. "It's really you?"
"Then what are you—"
She actually chuckled. Then her expression grew somber. "I've been watching everyone for a while now. Since it happened, actually. And I'm worried." She regarded him for a moment. "Okaasan, Sakura-chan, Syaoran-kun…and you."
"What do you mean?" he asked, looking down; for some reason, he couldn't quite meet her gaze.
"Eriol, don't be difficult," she sighed.
He looked up again and took a really good look at the beautiful wraith sitting beside him on his bed. She looked exactly as she had on the day of her death—that skirt and top were the outfit she had been wearing as she darted out into the street, her hair was hanging down her back, loose and free, and her eyes were shining. But he felt an unexpected surge of something, and he glared at her. He was being childish and he knew it, but he couldn't help it. He was angry. "You left. Why did you leave?"
She remained calm. "It wasn't by choice, Eriol-kun."
"You still left," he snapped; then he looked away.
"How could I have known?" she asked gently, and he felt guilty. It wasn't her fault. He was just being a spoiled brat, wanting someone to blame, and finding no other available scapegoat.
How can I say to go on without me?
How, when I know you still need me so?
How can I say not to dream about me?
How could I ever know?
How could I ever know?
Eriol looked down again, but not for long. One cool, pale hand reached out and touched his cheek, gently tilting his face upwards so that he had nowhere else to look except into her face, her eyes.
"Please," she said, pleadingly. He started. That was the last thing he had expected her to say. "Please, stop this. Stop doing this to yourself. There was nothing you could do, no matter how much you try to convince yourself that you could have saved me. It was too late. Let it go. Go on with your life."
"But—" It was amazing. He had centuries of experiences behind him; the wisdom of ages was stowed away in a memory that spanned two lifetimes. Yet this girl, Daidouji Tomoyo, could reduce his normally extensive vocabulary to absolutely nothing.
She shook her head. "You once said it yourself, Eriol-kun. Even Clow Reed had his limits. There was nothing anyone could do. Not Syaoran, not Sakura, and not you."
"But—I…" he tried to stammer out the truth, at long last, but she shook her head.
He blinked owlishly at her. For all of his centuries of knowledge, experience, and worldly learning, words deserted him as he stared at her. She looked radiant, serene, sitting calmly beside him, one hand cupping his face.
She leaned forward then, and brushed her lips against his.
Forgive me, can you forgive me?
And hold me in your heart
And find some new way to love me
Now that we're apart
Eriol was so surprised he nearly pulled away, not only that she was here, kissing him, but that she was warm now. The hand on his face, the hand that a moment ago had been like an ice cube touching his cheek, was warm; the warmth flooded through his entire being. Suddenly, his broken heart didn't ache quite so much.
One hand cautiously reached up and touched her cheek; it was warm as well. He let his fingers slid through her hair, just like he had always wanted to do but had never dared except for one time, one time he would much rather have forgotten. For a moment, he could forget that she was gone. For that all too fleeting moment, he could have easily believed that she was alive and well.
He was only vaguely aware of rolling onto his back and pulling her down on top of him.
"Sleep now," she whispered against his lips. "Aishiteru."
And he tumbled, spiralling downwards into some vague place, without time or limitations. Only warm, comfortable darkness, and pure, unabridled emotions that had been denied for far too long…
When Eriol next opened his eyes, sunlight was pouring into the room. Someone had opened the curtains, allowing the golden rays into what had recently become his refuge of darkness.
Suddenly, the events of the night came rushing back to him. He sat up straight, all sleepiness gone. He looked down at himself. He was still in the jeans and dark blue sweater he had been wearing the night before, now rumpled from being slept in.
He glanced around the room. Other than the fact that it was now almost painfully bright because of the open drapes and the morning sun, everything was as it was supposed to be. There was no sign that anyone had been there except him.
Eriol sighed. It had been a dream after all. He had imagined seeing her. He had imagined that she was here, comforting him. And he had definitely imagined that she had kissed him.
With a groan, he flipped over and flopped down onto his stomach on the bed with his eyes closed, taking in the feel of the soft comforter against his cheek. But suddenly, he became aware of something. A sweet fragrance, slowly filling the room around him. He opened his eyes and blinked.
On the pillow was a small sprig of cherry blossoms. They were fresh, as if they had just been cut from the tree. Eriol crawled forward a few inches and picked them up, regarding the white-pink flowers with a certain fascination. They smelled wonderful. The perfume of them assailed his senses, and he breathed it in deeply. It was quite a heady draught.
How could I know I would never hold you
Never again in this world, but oh
Sure as you breathe, I am there inside you
How could I ever know?
How could I ever know?
He closed his eyes again…and slowly, he smiled.
His heart was broken, but somehow, it continued to beat.
It was all going to be all right. After all, he had someone watching over him.
In the sky, above the clouds, two young women smiled.
"He'll be fine now," Tomoyo said, relieved. "But if he doesn't start eating and taking better care of himself, I'll go back down there and haunt him!" She made the mock-threat with a shake of her fist to accent her words, and her companion laughed.
"He will be fine. After all, he's a survivor. They all are," Maya replied. The angel paused, then glanced at her young friend with a raised eyebrow. "So what's his name? He's a looker!"
Tomoyo blushed and stuck her tongue out.
Maya laughed again, then stopped. "Oh, that reminds me, Tomoyo. I have something to give you."
"Nani?" Tomoyo looked at her friend quizzically for a moment. Then her eyes widened first in surprise, then in the utmost delight.
AN: Voila! Told ya there'd be ExT kissy kissy!!! Teehee, that was about the maturity level of a five year old. Oh well. I'm in college. I can still get away with that stuff. I hope. Anyway, one chapter after this. Yes, I know, it's almost over. And I think you'll like the ending. I pretty much wrote the last chapter first, lol. There's an order to my chaos…sometimes…later!