AN: This is the end of my little tale. Right after I started this fic, I was lying in my six foot high lofted bed, staring at the ceiling (which I can reach out and touch), when this idea just smacked me right in the forehead. Had to use it, hope you enjoy it, cuz I worked really hard on getting this chapter just right. I don't own CCS, just my storyline and my one original character, Maya.
Tomoyo looked over her shoulder at her friend—for she had no trouble thinking of Maya as her friend—and smiled. "It's started. They just need a little push in the right direction."
"You've done well. You've done very well, my young friend," Maya moved around to stand beside Tomoyo. "I trust that you are pleased?"
"That they're starting to move on?" Blue-violet eyes clouded with confusion.
The angel laughed. "Well, that, and everything else."
Comprehension dawned, and Tomoyo nodded fervently. "Oh, yes!" Her eyes returned to the space beyond the clouds. That was Earth, often referred to as the Here-Below. It was growing darker down there, as the sun set; above the clouds, in the Here-Above, it was always bright, perpetual sunlight.
"Are you watching them as well, Tomoyo?"
The melodious voice was one Tomoyo had never heard before, and she spun around to see who the speaker was. It was a female voice, and whoever she was, she obviously knew Tomoyo.
The speaker did, indeed, prove to be a young woman. She was wearing green, and had dancing eyes and gray-brown hair for miles. And Tomoyo recognized her instantly.
"You're—" she started to gasp, but was stopped by a wave of the hand.
"Hai, hai," Nadeshiko said cheerily, moving to the other side of the dark-haired teen. "Maya, it has been a while."
"Always too long," Maya returned the greeting with a smile. They had known each other for most of Nadeshiko's time in the Here-Above, and were friends. "Your daughter is starting to heal."
"Sakura…" Nadeshiko's expression grew soft at the mention of the child she had barely known. Then she turned an unreadable Look on Tomoyo, who was still standing between the two adults, looking faintly poleaxed. "She misses you."
"I miss her, but…I think I scared her once already," Tomoyo sighed, remembering how she had appeared as a reflection in the park fountain only a couple days earlier. She had major misgivings about trying to help Sakura in that manner, given her best friend's intense fear of ghosts. So she had been as careful as possible, choosing the least menacing manner she could think of to contact her friend. Between broad daylight and having Syoaran right at her side, it had gone over quite well.
"And you seem to be doing quite well!" Nadeshiko said, turning suddenly; a sprinkle of gold tumbled from her snowy wings at her movement.
"And she made a special trip down to Earth to see a young man," Maya grinned. "He's a good-looking one, too. Let me show you which one he is…" She pointed towards Earth.
Tomoyo blushed. Honestly…
She had the feeling that eternity with those two was going to be very interesting indeed…
And on Earth below, night had finally fallen.
Syaoran wandered slowly down to the footbridge.
He had been a bit alarmed when she had called him and asked him to meet her there. Normally, if they were going somewhere, especially at night, he would come and pick her up, right from her door. Naturally, he was worried about her being out in the dark. But he got to the bridge, and she was standing right there waiting for him, eyes cast towards the heavens.
How many times had they walked over this little bridge, going to and from school? He knew she and Tomoyo had walked across this bridge countless times. This was where he had tried to thank Sakura for everything, right before he had gone back to Hong Kong.
And now she was here, studying the stars.
He moved up behind her, slowly, not wanting to startle her. "Sakura?"
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" she answered quietly, not looking down at him.
His gaze followed her. "Yes, it is."
At this point she dropped her eyes and turned to look at him. "I've been doing some thinking, since we saw that reflection in the fountain." She looked sad, but determined. "And Tomoyo's voice…" Her shell cracked a bit, but not much.
He took a step towards her, but was stopped by her next words.
Sakura reached out and gently touched his shoulder. "We need to try to go on. Nothing will come of holding onto the past." He looked like he was about to say something, but she continued. "It hurts. It really does. It hurts everyone," Sakura sighed, letting tears come to her eyes again. "But…I don't know. It doesn't hurt as much. Not since we heard that song. And then the fountain…"
Syaoran nodded. He knew what she meant.
"So I'm going to try!" she smiled, much to his surprise. It wasn't a feigned or forced smile, either. It was geniune, with only a touch of sadness. It was the first time she had really, truly smiled since the accident. And to his even greater surprise, Syaoran realized he was returning her grin with the same soft, sad little smile she wore.
Her smile waivered a tiny bit then, and she moved forward, melting into his arms, and crying softy into his jacket. He didn't say anything; he just let her go. It didn't last long; she cried herself out fairly quickly, and she pulled away, looking more than a little embarassed after her passionate speech about trying to be happy again. "Gomen."
He shook his head. "Nothing to be sorry for," he told her. "You have every right to be upset."
But when she looked him straight in the eye again, there was almost no sign of the tears. She looked contained, collected, and calm, the most calm she had been since the accident. It was as though that last burst of tears had washed something away, and she at last had herself back under control.
"Tomoyo's gone, Syaoran-kun. Nothing's going to change that, and nothing's going to bring her back. I understand that," she almost sighed the words, as though she had been dying to get them off her chest. "And I am upset. I'll always be sad when I think about it. I might even cry more. But…Tomoyo-chan always said that a smile suited me the best. She would want me to smile. She would want all of us to smile, and she would want us to go on with our lives. I owe it to her to keep being cheerful. That's how she liked me the best, after all."
"And you know what? You owe it to her too. You owe it to her to keep stomping around, arguing with Kero-chan, glaring at my brother—all the things that make you you. That's how Tomoyo-chan knew us, that's how she loved us, and if she can see us right now, wherever she is, that's how I want her to see all of us." Syaoran half-expected the tears to start falling again, but to his surprise, there were none. Sakura was completely under control. He would have almost said she looked peaceful.
"That was beautiful, Sakura-san."
She whirled around. Eriol had come up behind them at some point during her speech. She almost did a double-take, though, to make sure that it was really Eriol. He looked so frail, so tired…older, even. Nothing like the energetic, mischievious Eriol they all knew, loved, and, in Syaoron's case, occasionally wanted to strangle.
He noticed her studying him, and managed the weakest of smiles. "I'm fine. Don't worry."
"I always worry," Sakura replied. "You know, I don't think Tomoyo-chan would be too happy if you stopped eating and sleeping and went up there after her."
His eyes widened a tiny bit before he gave her that fragile smile again. "You sound exactly like Nakuru, you know that? She's been telling me that ever since…" His voice trailed off. It still hurt. God dammit, it still hurt! It didn't help any that he could still feel that surprisingly warm touch on his lips…
It was so strange, to see Eriol without that trademark smirk of his—the one smile that made Syaoran clench his fists and start seeing red. But at that moment, Syaoran actually wished for that little gleeful half-grin. It would have meant that things were normal again.
Then again, sometimes he also half-expected Tomoyo to come bounding out from behind a tree and shove her video camera right in Sakura's face, squealing 'Kawaii!' every other word and babbling like a hyperactive child about some new costume she had just designed for her best friend to model.
It wasn't going to happen. He knew that, though.
His eyes drifted towards the heavens. No real reason. He had always liked looking at the stars. Especially now. They were strangely comforting to him. The stars were constant. Some would eventually burn out and disappear, but there would always be stars overhead.
And that meant something.
As he watched, he saw a flash of movement. "Look!" he said quickly.
Two other pairs of eyes—one sapphire, one emerald—joined the amber pair in gazing upwards.
Something silver and gold streaked across the sky overhead.
Sakura stared at the path it had followed, where it had been. Beside her, both Syaoran and Eriol's eyes also remained skyward, even after the shooting star or whatever it was had long since disappeared.
Then something touched Sakura's hand. She looked down and saw Syaoran's fingers interlocked with hers. She lifted her eyes and met his. His warm amber eyes were shimmering with unshed tears, but at the same time, they were shining with the promise of hope. The promise of the future.
She smiled gently; he smiled back.
Then Sakura turned her head, and worry crossed her face. She let go of Syaoran's hand and walked over to stand by Eriol's shoulder. He was still watching the sky, as though hypnotized by the stars.
"Eriol-kun?" she said softly.
He didn't jump, as she feared he might. Finally, he sighed; his cloudy gray-blue eyes fell closed, and his head dropped. "I'm all right. It's just…" He wanted desperately to tell them what he had seen—or thought he had seen—the night before. He wanted so much to tell them what he knew—that Tomoyo was fine and happy, in a better place.
Sakura was silent, but he could sense that she was thinking. Her magic had been growing steadily stronger, and she was already able to control greater magic at sixteen than Clow Reed himself had been able to use at the time of his death. And with that power came abilities of almost uncanny perception.
"Eriol-kun," she finally said, slowly, "is there something you're not telling us?"
His head snapped, and he stared at her with wide, startled eyes. Then his expression softened. Sakura really had gotten a little too perceptive for comfort. "Hai, Sakura-san. But if it's all right, I'd rather not tell you. Not now, anyway."
"Some other time?" she ventured.
She nodded. Then she tilted her head to one side and regarded him with a knowing look. "You really cared about Tomoyo-chan a lot, didn't you?" The stunned look returned to his face, and she smiled a little. "I could tell. Just some little things."
The surprised expression changed to something akin to pain; Eriol averted his eyes and quickly spun his head so that his face was turned away from her. But not before Sakura saw something glittering wetly on his eyelashes.
She made a move, as though to comfort him, but he straightened up and gently waved her away. "It's all right. I'm fine." His eyes were damp, but nothing was falling from them. "I'll be just fine. I promise." She reached out anyway and gave his hand a squeeze, and he smiled sadly at her. They had all been through so much together. "Arigatou…" he murmured. It was a word spoken straight from the heart, she knew. "Shall we go?"
Sakura nodded, and behind her, Syaoran looked calm, the calmest Eriol had ever seen him. Sakura kept her hold on Eriol's hand, and reached out and grabbed one of Syaoran's hands as well.
It would never be the same again. The hurt would probably never go away. Perhaps broken hearts could never fully be healed—and those that could be fixed could take a long time to do so. And the loss of a friend at such a young age could shatter some hearts almost beyond hope of repair.
But nothing could change what had happened. It was all right to hang onto the memories, but they needed to let go of the past, and stop berating themselves for what couldn't be changed. All they could do was look forward, to the future and what was still to come, be it good or bad. No matter how bad it might get, they had in each other a crying shoulder, someone who understood. And sometimes, that's all a person needs to begin healing.
The three teenagers were silent; no words were really needed. They looked up at the sky one last time. Then, hand in hand, Sakura, Eriol, and Syaoran began walking through the dark, headed for home.
If one of those three teenagers, all gifted with magic, had looked back at that moment, they might have caught a glimpse of someone standing beside a tree at the end of the footbridge. A person who looked to be about their age, eyes of molten amethyst and long, dark hair that fell around her like a waterfall of blue-black silk. The person—a young woman of remarkable beauty for her age—was wearing a kimono of royal purple, with golden accents.
But as she watched, something in her face changed. It was subtle, unless one looked closely. If one looked hard enough, it was possible to see that her eyes were no longer a deep blue-violet, but instead had gone dark, nearly black. The glowing amethysts that had once been her eyes were replaced by the very heavens themselves.
A smile crossed the young woman's face. It was a smile that any of the three teenagers would have known all too well, and had it been seen, it may very well have been the cause for further heartbreak. Or perhaps it would have helped to heal. She didn't know, and she didn't really care to know. They hadn't seen her, and they weren't going to see her for a long time, unless they were in serious trouble. Then she would be at their sides in a heartbeat.
After all, she had been appointed to them and them alone, for as long as they needed her. A guardian angel for three of the people she had loved most in life.
Her work here was truly done now. They had each other. They would be fine. She would go now. Perhaps they would need her again someday, but until that time came, she would return to a place where she could watch over all of them until they were finally together again.
She turned to leave, satisfied with what she had seen and done.
And if, by chance, someone had looked at her at that second, when her back was turned, they would have seen two large, silver-white wings extending from the girl's back, releasing a shower of gold in their wake as she moved them.
But they only would have been able to see it for a split second. Then the young woman faded from sight and vanished, leaving only the starry night sky above, and one other thing.
Music. A sweet voice, a voice that had a sound reminscient of silver bells, singing a song that a knowledgable listener may have recognized as a musical piece commonly used for choirs of young voices.
The melody drifted along on the sweet breeze for a moment, lingering and melding with the air itself, before also fading into the silence of the night, like a lost memory from a long forgotten dream.
Those happy hours I spent with you
That lovely afterglow
Most of all, I miss you so
Your sweet caresses each rendevous
Your voice so soft and low
Most of all, I miss you so
You once filled my heart
No regrets, no fears
Now you'll find my heart
Filled to the top with tears
I'll always love you
And want you too
How much, you'll never know
Most of all, I miss you so
I'll always love you
And want you too
How much you'll never know
Most of all, I miss you so
I'll always love you
I miss you so
-"I Miss You So," by Diana Krall
AN: I thank everyone who hung in here with me until the end, and I want to offer my double thanks to everyone who took a few seconds of their time to review. I hope you enjoyed my angst fest. Arigatou, and sayonara until next time.