AN: I love my reviewers!! You all rule!!! Honestly, reviews like the ones I've been getting are the reason I keep writing this fic. It's all because of you guys *applauds wildly* So here you are, a brand new chapter for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!!! I don't own CCS—CLAMP does. On the other hand, CLAMP doesn't own my plotline—I do. WHEE!!! I OWN SOMETHING!!!!
This chapter and the next one are centered around Tomoyo's friends (Eriol is not this chapter, but the next one!), and then I intend to do a Tomoyo and Maya centered chappie. Maya's fun. I like having a character who knows just about everything. Okay, enough of my hopeless prattling, on with the fic.
It had been three days. Three days since the accident that had stolen Tomoyo away from the world. And three days since a few specific people had been in school.
Today they were going back. Sakura, Syaoran, and Eriol all walked together, deciding it would be easier to face everything when united. The accident had been all over the news—Daidouji Tomoyo, daughter of Daidouji Sonomi, president of the Daidouji Toy Company, one of the wealthiest women in the world, had been killed in a car accident by a couple of idiot kids out on a dare.
They already knew that everyone in the school would know about what had happened. What they weren't quite sure of was how everyone would react to it, and what kind of questions might be asked.
Sakura's hand unconsciously reached out, and she was surprised when she found Syaoran's hand seeking hers. Their fingers interlocked; she shot him a sidways glance, and he gave her the weakest of smiles. It wasn't much, but the comfort was there.
Eriol's eyes were focused straight ahead, as though he was conducting an in-depth study of the leaves on the sidewalk. His hands were shoved deep into the pockets of his jacket.
The school gate loomed above them all too soon. The dark iron-wrought gate seemed strangely foreboding. It even managed to creak menacingly on its hinges as they pushed it open. They were running a little bit late, but they each had a note excusing their tardiness.
After changing shoes and depositing jackets in the locker room, they made a stop in the front office to get their passes to class and headed up the stairs towards their classroom. The moment of truth.
The three teens stopped outside the closed classroom door and stared at it for a very long time. None of them wanted to go in, and it somehow helped to just prolong the inevitable for a while.
But finally, Syaoran took a deep breath and slid the door open.
Mioko-sensei, who had been lecturing at the front of the room over some major historical event, stopped talking; he looked mildly irritated at the interruption, but at the same time, he looked sympathetic. Every eye in the room turned to look at the three late arrivals.
They each murmured something that vaguely sounded like 'gomen nasai' before trudging to their seats at the back of the room. Most of their classmates stared after them. So their three day absence hadn't gone unnoticed, and judging by certain stares, word had gotten around that they knew about the accident.
The classes seemed to drag on for eternities, and yet they were over far too soon. Not many people were even really paying attention. The big news of the moment was still the most prevalent thing on everyone's mind, and that's where the majority of their attention was, much to the displeasure of their teachers, who were trying to carry on normally, and getting very little cooperation for their efforts.
Finally, Mayo-sensei smashed her book covers together and slammed the aforementioned book down on her desk. The two very sudden, very loud sounds made the entire class—who had been quite nicely zoning out—jump a mile. One student actually fell out of his chair and stared up at her from the floor with the same wide eyes as the rest of the class.
The teacher looked back at them. "Well, this is the first time I've had your attention in the past three days. It appears that you have far more important things on your minds than this algebra lesson." Her expression softened a little. "I know you're all upset over what happened to Daidouji-san, but we have to try and go on normally. I don't think it's going to happen today, so take the rest of the period and get it out of your system now." She gathered her notes. "Tomorrow, it's down to work."
Once they were certain that she wasn't joking, the class burst into a flurry of whispers that steadily grew louder until they were far past what their kindergarten teachers had referred to as their 'indoor voices.' It was a surprise that none of the other teachers had come in to see what the commotion was all about, they were making so much noise.
And the axe finally fell.
"Sakura-chan!" Naoko grabbed Sakura's shoulders. "Is it true? You were there when it happened?" No one had to ask what 'it' was. They all knew.
Sakura nodded mutely.
"I'm sorry," Naoko said softly. "I know you're upset. It's just that no one really seems to know what actually happened. We just want to know the truth." By this time, the old group had joined her around Sakura's desk. In addition to Naoko, there was now also Rika, Chiharu, and Yamazaki, who was looking exceptionally subdued. According to Chiharu, he hadn't told a single whopper since hearing of the accident. Not even a small lie.
Syaoran shot a glance over his shoulder at his girlfriend. She was looking extremely pale, and there was a slight, almost invisible quiver to her chin that said that if something wasn't done, she was going to lose what scraps of self-control she had managed to scrounge together.
He made a quick decision and stepped in. "I'll tell you," he volunteered, knowing he would pay for it himself later. "I was there too."
The attention immediately zoomed in on him.
"We don't want anyone to get upset," Rika pointed out; always the mature one, she had apparently noticed Sakura's distress, as she had one hand on Sakura's back in a caring maternal gesture. "But Tomoyo-chan was our friend too."
Syaoran gestured towards a vacant corner in the front of the room, deciding it would be wise not to tell the story with Sakura within hearing range. They moved away, and Sakura had to visibly fight to get herself back under tight control.
Throughout this whole exchange, Eriol had been silent, still, not volunteering anything. He was almost hoping that they wouldn't notice he was there.
Then a hand came to rest on his shoulder. "Hey."
"Hey," Eriol murmured back.
"You're not okay." It was a question phrased as a statement.
"No, I'm not."
"Anything I can do?"
"I don't know."
Yamazaki patted his shoulder; his usual goofy smile, the one he wore when telling one of his famous lies, was absent from his face. This was a side of him almost no one had ever seen. He was being serious. "Let me know if I can help."
"Okay," Eriol nodded, not sure if there was anything anyone could do to help, but appreciating the gesture of one of his good friends. Yamazaki moved to the front of the room to join his girlfriend and crew to get the scoop from Li, who looked like he would rather swallow a live tarantula than recount the tale.
But better him than Sakura. She looked ready to break.
Lunch wasn't much better. No one smiled or said much. It was almost boring without Tomoyo jumping around, trusty video camera in hand. Or, as Syaoran had once referred to it, the Eye of Satan. They had laughed and tolerated their friend's hobby. Now, they would have given anything to have that dark, glassy, mechanical eye shoved in their faces again.
The rest of their classes weren't any better. But the end of the day finally came, to the relief of everyone, teachers included. They had no one's attention at all.
Sakura bolted from the classroom the instant the bell rang, and was gone before Syaoran could even move. She'd been waiting for that bell to sound since she had arrived, and finally, they were all free from this torture.
Eriol moved slowly, lagging behind everyone else. He even shooed Syaoran out of the room with instructions to find Sakura before she had a breakdown. He gathered his belongings and waited at his desk until the crowds had cleared from the hallway before making his way down the stairs and out of the school.
Meanwhile, Syaoran found Sakura slumped against a tree behind the school, safe enough from prying eyes. She was crying again. He didn't say anything; he just put his arms around her and let her cry.
It was a touching moment with only one witness.
Hiiragiziwa Eriol watched Syaoran comfort Sakura for a moment, then turned away from the scene and began the trek towards his home.
AN: Not my best…ugh. I based this part mostly on the kind of thing that would happen at my high school if/when stuff like this happened. Big news=lots of gossip and questions, and not much attention being paid in class. My school was just freakin' nosy.
I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to review, offer feedback, comments, suggestions, etc. I love you all!!! I think this story has pretty much jumped to the top of my priority list, right next to "Nightingale" so I should be updating kind of frequently. I'd love it if everyone stopped in for the next chapter—Eriol!!!! Oh yes, Hiiragiziwa-kun was a ton o' fun, heehee.