By Bex Drake
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by CLAMP, various publishers including but not limited to TOKYOPOP, Kodansha, and Madhouse. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. The name Chase I got from Kitten- thanks for your help!
Sakura wants to be is a ballet dancer, to follow in the footsteps of
her elder sister Ayame who tragically died when Sakura was five but
her dreams are ruined because of one night of stupidity.
Syaoran is a player. He thinks nothing of using girls and enjoys the bets he and his friends about who can sleep with the most girls, and the challenges that they challenge each other with. This all changes when his parents force him to face the consequences of his actions.
(Please find the Author's Note at the bottom of the page)
Sakura sat on a large wooden chair swinging her legs back and forth waiting for her elder sister Ayame to finish her ballet lesson. Ayame was six years older than Sakura and was going Grade 4 ballet. She was very good at ballet, everyone thought that she was good enough to be in the English Royal Ballet and that was her ambition, but she didn't want to leave Sakura alone in the care of their aunt Uta and her many boyfriends, so Ayame was putting her career on hold- not that she let any of this on to Sakura.
Even at age eleven you could see the beautiful woman that Ayame would grow up into. She had flawless porcelain skin and large chocolate brown eyes that always seemed to be sparkling with laughter and life. Her mahogany hair already reached to just above her bottom and when it caught the light you could see rivers of red and gold within it. She was small for her age, petit, but even though she was so small she looked perfectly proportioned. She was the kind of girl that anyone felt that they could talk to. You could tell her any secrets and you knew that she would take them to the grave with her. When you were with her you never felt like you were walking in her shadow; she would laugh and talk with you about anything and everything. She was just full of life.
Ayame and Sakura were orphans. Their parents had died in a car crash when Ayame was eight and Sakura was just two. Ever since that day they had lived with their aunt Uta, who resented having to look after them but as she was the children's guardian she had no choice. Their only other live relatives were their uncle Fujitaka, their father's twin brother, and his son Toya. Fujitaka's wife Nadeshiko died in the car crash with Ayame and Sakura's parents. From day one Uta treated them badly, she made it perfectly obvious to Ayame and Sakura that she didn't want them and she wished that they had died in the car crash because they ruined her life. With them around she couldn't go out every night on the pull but it didn't stop her having a new boyfriend every other week. Seeing the way Uta treated Ayame and Sakura the boyfriends treated them with the same disdain, although they soon came to realise that both nieces would be more beautiful than the aunt. No matter how badly they were treated Ayame and Sakura were both always polite, which incensed their aunt. She couldn't understand why they didn't misbehave so she could chuck them out. So instead of chucking them out Uta forced them to do jobs around the house and when they were old enough she forced them to do jobs. Ayame taught lessons at the dancing school she and Sakura went to as well as doing a paper round. Sakura was forced to clean the house and to do the cooking with Ayame. Neither girl had an easy life. The only time that they could ever relax was when they danced, this was the only pastime that Uta let them have because the lessons were relatively inexpensive and it kept them out of the house. It was at the dancing school that Sakura met her two best friends: Tomoyo, and Rika. They were all in the same dance class and in the same class at school.
The door opened and Sakura looked up, watching as people left the classroom but there was no sign of her sister. She spotted Miyoko getting changed near by. "Hey Miyoko, where's Ayame?" She asked. Miyoko looked up startled.
"Oh yeah, I was supposed to tell you that Ayame will be a couple of minutes late she's talking to Miss Nariko." She replied slipping her ballet shoes into her bag, Sakura smiled her thanks at Ayame's best friend who chucked a bag of sweets at her grinning. "Don't eat them all at once." She advised slinging her bag over her shoulder and leaving the room.
"Yeah, I'll teach Sakura how to do pas de chats but isn't it a little early for her to learn them?" She asked confused. Miss Nariko nodded.
"It is a bit." She replied. "But Sakura seems to have picked up the basics of how to do them from you and I just thought she might like to learn how to do them properly." Miss Nariko smiled. "She seems just as enthusiastic as you were when you first joined. How are things at home?" Ayame looked down at the floor.
"Aunt Uta has a new boyfriend, but apart from that everything is how it usually is." She replied pulling a face. Miss Nariko looked at her sympathetically.
"If you want to go to England I'll look after Sakura." She offered knowing that Uta would let her without a fight. Ayame shook her head.
"No it's okay. We'll be okay." Then she lent forward and hugged the closest thing to a mother she had. "Bye Miss Nariko, see you tomorrow." Turning she left the room and headed down the stairs to the dressing room where her younger sister Sakura was waiting. As she descended down the last few steps she caught sight of her younger sister who had large emerald eyes that portrayed her emotions and her light mahogany hair that swept just below her shoulders. They looked very alike except that Ayame knew that her younger sister would grow up to be breathtakingly beautiful but she would always carry a sadness in the depths of her emerald eyes. Ayame had foreseen this in a dream but the dream had never told her why Sakura would be so sad. "Hey squirt!" She yelled teasingly as she got off the final step, Sakura looked up and glared at her. "Let's go home." Ayame suggested with a sigh, 'home' was the last place that she wanted to be.
Sakura got up out of her chair and walked over to her elder sister and offered her a sweet. "Miyoko gave them to me." She remarked Ayame frowned but said nothing. She didn't want hand outs from her friends. They all knew how the situation at home was but she felt bad taking things from them. This was the one place where she refused to swallow her pride. Taking her younger sisters hand she guided her out of the room and onto the street heading homewards.
From the corner of their street they could see their house. Outside of the house a black ford was parked, the car belonged to their aunt Uta's latest conquest Chase. Chase was ten years older than Ayame making him twenty-one, ten years Uta's junior not that she cared. He had blonde curtains and blue child-like eyes. Uta thought that he was a real catch. Ayame and Sakura knew better he was a drunk and he had tried to feel up Ayame more than once but thankfully something had always happened to distract him. Ayame frowned noticing that their aunt's car wasn't in so she wasn't home yet. "What's wrong Aya?" Sakura asked curious. Ayame smiled at her.
"I forgot my dancing bag. Could you nip back and get it for me?" She begged, not wanting Sakura to step foot in the house until their aunt was back.
"But…" Sakura began frowning.
"Please will you do me this huge favour?" She asked. "Get Miss Nariko to drop you back here, okay?" She said firmly. Sakura nodded frowning and not looking at all happy but set off back to the dance school to get her elder sister's bag. With a sigh of relief Ayame faced the house. Never before had it looked so bleak and uninviting- and that was saying something. With an uneasy heart Ayame walked up to the house and undid the front door walking inside.
Sitting on the bottom step with a bottle of whiskey next to him was 'uncle' Chase. He looked up and grinned seeing her enter the house alone. "Hello sweet heart, where's Sakura?" He asked in a honey-toned voice Ayame shuddered knowing instantly that he was very, very, drunk.
"She had to go back to the dance school…" She murmured trembling slightly looking into his blue eyes. Within the blink of an eye he was standing ahead of her gently caressing her jaw.
"You're real beautiful…" He purred tipping her chin up, then he lent down and kissed her. This wasn't the first time he had kissed her and Ayame knew better than to struggle. This was why she didn't want her younger sister home. She wanted to protect her from their aunt's latest monster of a boyfriend. The kiss made her feel uncomfortable and it tasted of whiskey. When he finally broke it she backed up against the door, in an attempt to keep away from him but it was in vain because he was still holding firmly onto her chin. "Seeing as we're alone let's take this upstairs…" He purred smiling seductively at her. Ayame whimpered but didn't have the strength to break out of his grasp or to even try and fight him. He held out his hand and she took it, not understanding what he meant to do by taking it upstairs.
She led him up the stairs and then paused uncertainly on the landing. With a grin he led her into her room and closed the door pushing her onto the bed. She landed on the bed on her back and he knelt over her pinning her down. "Get off!" She pleaded; he was too heavy for her. He slapped her hard across the face, she screamed and tried to struggle but this only caused him to groan. She froze like a frightened cat seeing the predatory look in his eyes and the pressure against her lower abdomen. He leaned down and kissed her, pulling down the straps of her leotard at the same time. 'Oh God! He's going to rape me!' She thought frightened comprehending the situation at last and instantly began to struggle.
She didn't understand why Ayame had sent her back to the dancing school to get her bag because Ayame very rarely bought her bag home and she had only brought it back today. Also she felt that she shouldn't have left her sisters side, that they both should have gone back to get the bag. She looked up at the old church hall where the dancing school was and walked inside. The lights were still on, which was a good thing she hated the dark. The dark was when all her aunt's men came and that was scary.
"Sakura?" Someone called from behind her. She jumped and spun around, only to find that it was Miss Nariko. "What are you doing back here?" She asked. "You're lucky you caught me, I was just about to go home." She explained.
"Ayame asked me to come back for her bag and she told me to ask you if you would give me a ride home, please?" She added, unsure why she knew that she needed to have Miss Nariko go with her. The teacher smiled at her.
"Of course, Sakura. Do you know where Ayame keeps her bag?" She asked. Sakura nodded. "Well I'll wait here for you, whilst you get it." The teacher said smiling; Sakura nodded again then sprinted off down the hallway to where she knew her sister's bag would be. Miss Nariko frowned watching Sakura dash off down the corridor. She knew that Ayame would only send Sakura to fetch her if she was worried about something.
She was still thinking about this when Sakura returned. "Who was home?" She asked curious.
"Er… I think Uncle Chad was." Sakura replied thoughtfully. "Or at least his car was outside." Miss Nariko nodded thoughtfully smiling at the way Sakura was clutching at her sister's bag. It was almost like the five-year-old knew that something was wrong.
"Come on, I'll drive you home." Miss Nariko said taking Sakura's free hand and leading her out of the old church hall and towards her car. "What do you think of your uncle Chad?" She asked curious, watching Sakura's face darken.
"I don't like him." She said firmly. "He tries to make Ayame do things she doesn't want to and aunt Uta always believes him when he denies that he did anything." She sulked. "It's not fair!" She complained. Miss Nariko hugged her.
"Life isn't sweetie." She replied truthfully.
After this comment the journey to the car, then to the house was travelled in silence. As the car pulled up outside the house Sakura noticed that all the rooms were dark, which was odd because Ayame always turned all the lights on when she was home. "Thanks for the lift home Miss Nariko." She said politely opening the door hesitantly.
"Would you like me to come in with you, I want to talk to Ayame anyway." Miss Nariko offered noticing Sakura's hesitancy. Sakura nodded gratefully and they both climbed out the car. Sakura waited patiently whilst Miss Nariko locked her car and then together they walked to the front door.
Sakura removed the key from a nearby plant pot and opened the door, turning the hallway light on as she walked inside followed by Miss Nariko. The house was deathly silent, even more so than usual.
An ear-piercing scream tore through the air. Then stony silence descended once again. Sakura froze where she was then ran full pelt up the stairs to her elder sister's room; somehow she knew that this was where the scream had come from. Without a second thought she flung open the door to the room. The sight she saw inside would forever give her nightmares.
Crumpled, naked, in a heap on the floor was her elder sister Ayame. She was lying in the middle of a puddle of ruby liquid. Sakura edged forward carefully and noticed uncle Chuck passed out on the floor nearby naked with a knife in his hand. Shaking Sakura tore her eyes away from her 'uncle' and took hesitant steps towards her sister. Without warning her knees gave and she ended up kneeling in the ruby liquid. Timidly she moved her sister onto her back. Ayame's eyes focused on her and she tried to smile. "I love you Sakura…" She whispered her voice breaking.
"Oh my God!" Miss Nariko yelled when she stepped into the room. Sakura looked up from Ayame and realised absently that she was crying.
"Miss Nariko!" She pleaded, causing the teacher to look at her. Miss Nariko rushed forward and placed her hand on Ayame's blood covered neck. Then she pulled it back and scooped Sakura up in her arms protectively. "Oh God!" She whispered again tears streaming down her cheeks as she hugged Sakura tightly.
It was then that Sakura realised that her elder sister was dead and she was all alone in the world.
Sakura smiled at her grade three students. Ever since her sister's death Miss Nariko bought her up and teaching the younger girls ballet for free was Sakura's way of paying her back. She didn't realise that her uncle Fujitaka, a millionaire, sent Miss Nariko enough money every month to look after her and put some of it aside for her future. There was a very good reason why Sakura didn't know this; it was because both adults knew that seventeen-year-old Sakura would not be at all happy with the arrangement even though it was for her benefit.
"Okay who can tell me what pas de chat translates as?" She asked, a nearby red heads hand shot up in the air. "Yes Lita?" She said smiling encouragingly at the ten-year-old, who like Sakura was small for her age.
"St…step of the ca…cat." Lita said going bright red and ducking her head. Sakura ruffled her hair affectionately as she walked past.
"Well done Lita. Pas de chat is 'step of the chat'. Does anyone know how to do it?" She asked and watched as the entire class shook their heads. "Well that's good because then everyone is on an equal footing. A pas de chat is a jump. To do a pas de chat you leap off the left leg, starting from a plié and raising the right leg into retiré. In mid-air, raise the left leg into retiré, too, so your legs form a diamond shape in the air. Land on your right leg with the left leg still in retiré; then bring it down, landing in another plié. This move is used in Swan Lake when the four cygnets dance with interlaced arms; they do sixteen pas de chats." She smiled at the class. "And this is what one looks like." She said positioning herself correctly, and then she demonstrated the move perfectly for the class. She had just landed when the bell, signifying end of lessons, went and the class started to move forward. "Wait." She said simply and everyone froze. "Everyone curtsey, and then you can go." She said, watching as they curtsied and then ran down the stairs. Grinning she started stretching and walked to a nearby mirror. She put her hands lightly on the bar and placed her feet in first position. "Plié and rise…" She murmured doing a full plié and then rising back into first before rising onto the balls of her feet, then lowering back to first. She moved into second position and repeated this exercise again but in second position.
She had just finished doing this exercise in fifth position when she heard clapping behind her. She looked in the mirror and saw Tomoyo and Rika behind her. She turned to face them. "When did you guys get here?" She asked starting to get changed and removing her leotard.
"When you had just started the third position one, but we didn't want to disturb you." Tomoyo said smiling.
"And of course she wanted to catch you on film." Rika added wickedly. Sakura groaned.
"You better have got my good side." She grumbled grinning knowing that Tomoyo and Rika knew that she was teasing.
"What other side of you is there?" Tomoyo teased. Sakura opened her mouth to retort in kind but thought better of it.
"Thanks." She said smiling, and then laughed at Tomoyo's expression.
"She's learning." Rika said, giving her a thumbs up.
"So what brings you guys here?" Sakura asked. "I thought we were meeting at Club 9 for rehearsals for tonight's performance Rika." Rika nodded.
"We came to pick you up." She explained. "Well… that and the fact I wanted the latest gossip from Tomoyo. She's found herself a boyfriend." She added by way of explanation. Sakura laughed watching Tomoyo blush.
"So… what's he like?" She asked curious. Tomoyo smiled.
"He's the bomb!" She said laughing as Sakura and Rika sweat dropped. "Seriously, he's got blue hair…
Sakura continued to get changed as she listened to Tomoyo describe her boyfriend. Apparently she had met the guy at one of the bar shows where Sakura and Rika performed nightly- and okay it wasn't ballet dancing but it kept her limber and her judo teacher was pleased with this, although annoyed that she point blank refused every time to take part in any competitions. He couldn't understand why someone who was so good at it refused to compete.
Sakura pulled on her black trousers over her ballet tights and stuck her feet in her sneakers; the top she wore was a light/baby pink T-shirt with Tinkerbelle from Peter Pan over her left-hand side. She pulled her hair out of its bun and brushed it. "I'm thinking about getting pink streaks in it, what do you guys think?" She asked. Tomoyo looked at her thoughtfully.
"Hot pink?" She questioned; Sakura nodded in agreement then winced at Tomoyo's squeal of delight. "That would suit you perfectly, bring out your emerald eyes more."
"I hate to be the bearer of bad news but what about when you audition for the Royal Ballet?" Rika questioned seriously.
"I'll dye it back." Sakura replied grinning. "I just feel like a change. I did tell you guys that I was going to the hairdressers before practise right?" She questioned frowning as she tried to remember if she had or not.
"Yep, that's why we came. We couldn't have you being late." Rika replied grinning evilly as Sakura ran her fingers through her red-brown hair. Hearing Rika's comment Sakura sweat dropped.
"You guys are the best, ya know?" She remarked grabbing her bag and swinging it over her shoulder.
"Of course." Tomoyo retorted smiling. "Are you ready?"
"Yep." Was Sakura's cheerful reply as she walked over to the door that linked the room to the one next door. She opened the door and stuck her head through. "Hey Miss Nariko, sorry to interrupt, but I wanted to tell you I'm going now." She yelled.
"What time will you be home?" Was Miss Nariko's response.
"About ten-ish, the last show's at half nine. If I'm going to be late I'll call you." Sakura remarked. "Bye!" Then she shut the door and walked back to her friends and held open the door for them as they headed off to the hairdressers so that Sakura could get her new look.
Syaoran looked around the group thoughtfully. The group comprised of himself, his cousin Hiiragizawa Eriol, and their best friends Kemp Matty and Marek Hiroshi. They had all been bought up together and were considered 'rich kids'. The 'kids' terminology was laughable- if only their parents knew what they got up to, although Syaoran had the feeling that his mother and father knew exactly what was going on and they were only tolerating his actions, waiting for him to slip up. Well he wasn't going to do that!
"Earth to Syaoran!" Eriol said waving his hand in front of his cousin's face. Syaoran's amber eyes narrowed in annoyance.
"What?!" He snapped.
"It's your turn." Matty said calmly. Matty was the youngest of the group having yet to turn eighteen, not that that stopped him having as much fun as everyone else. He had Californian surfer looks, with sandy blonde hair that was cut in the curtain style, a bronzed skin and sea blue eyes. He was the calmest of the group; or rather he appeared to be the calmest of the group. In fact he was perhaps the most 'wild'. He didn't do drugs, no one in the group did, it was the people he knew. They weren't exactly the 'nicest' people that you could come across.
Syaoran sighed, then picked up a card from the pile, glanced at it and then put it on the discard pile. He watched as Hiroshi picked up a card and discarded it also. Hiroshi was the eldest of the group being nearly nineteen; he had red hair and sky blue eyes. Hiroshi enjoyed having a laugh; he didn't care what price someone paid for his jokes, just as long as the jokes were amusing.
"What are we doing tonight?" Hiroshi asked as Eriol took his turn.
"We're meeting some of my friends." Matty reminded him. "I think you'll like them, they're part of an elite group…"
"What more elite than the Li clan?" Eriol said pretending to be offended. "I didn't think there was a group more elite than our clan, did you Syaoran?" Matty rolled his eyes.
"It's a gang, not a clan. I thought you guys might like it because they're… interesting." If Matty said a group was interesting, it meant that they were interesting. Although Syaoran and Eriol had never managed to work out if this was a good or bad thing. "Come on, you're not going to be chicken are you?" He laughed watching their reactions; he knew how to bait them.
"We said we'd go Matty." Syaoran remarked, smirking. "Who knows it may be the excitement that we are looking for." He drawled frowning as Matty picked up a card and placed three twos down and four aces before placing down his extra card.
"It looks like I won." Matty said cheerfully. Hiroshi raised an eyebrow, not believing that Matty had won without cheating.
She and Rika waited impatiently at the front of the salon for Sakura to appear. Somehow Tomoyo knew that Sakura was going to look fantastic with the hot pink streaks in her hair. She smiled absently seeing Rika look out the window eyeing up any cute guy that walked past.
"Don't you think that he's got a good butt?" She asked pointing to a guy who was obviously with his girlfriend.
"I guess…" Tomoyo replied uncertainly, seeing the glare that the girl was sending them. Rika was, of course, oblivious to it.
"You guess what?" Sakura asked walking out from behind the screen that separated the waiting area from the salon. Tomoyo turned to look at her and yelped causing Rika to turn quickly and look at her. Sakura's cheeks turned red. "Well, what do you think?" She asked uncertainly.
Instead of having just streaks of hot pink Sakura had died her whole hair hot pink and had had darker and lighter shades added to make it look like it was her natural hair colour and funnily enough the effect worked brilliantly. If you didn't know her you would think that she had been born with pink hair- if having pink hair naturally was possible.
"You look…" Rika began.
"Wonderful, amazing, extraordinary, awesome," Tomoyo finished for her grinning. "It's certainly a change and it suits you." She said watching Sakura's eyes dance with happiness.
Eriol looked up from the book he was reading; well re-reading he had read 'The Lord of the Rings' a couple odd times before Matty had wanted to see if books could swim. This was his latest copy and he was determined to keep it away from Matty who seemed to be anti Tolkien, for some unknown reason. Syaoran had entered the room, and he was curious as to why. It was an unspoken rule that of the four of them Syaoran was the leader.
"I see Matty has yet to have found that copy." Syaoran remarked gesturing at the book. "What did he do to the last one… oh I remember," He said grinning, amused at the memory.
"Matty give me the goddamn book, already!" Eriol snapped, scowling as he watched Matty attach the book to a rocket. "What are you doing?" He demanded as Matty lit the rocket and moved back. Eriol's scowl deepened.
The rocket launched itself into the sky and burst into blue and green sparks.
END FLASH BACK
Eriol sighed. "Precisely why I am going to keep it away from him. To what do I owe the pleasure of your company for, cousin?" He asked. Syaoran sat in an empty chair.
"What do you think of Matty's plan for tonight?" He asked. Eriol shrugged.
"It seems okay, but then so do a lot of Matty's ideas." Eriol looked thoughtfully. "Usually the ones that get us into the most trouble." Syaoran nodded.
"That's what I thought." He admitted. "What's worrying me is that we don't even know the gangs name." He pointed out. "They could be anyone, and it's not as if we couldn't be used to get ransom money." He sighed.
There was a knock on the door and Hiroshi walked into the room shutting the door behind him. "I thought I saw you come in here Li." He said. "I just overheard Matty on the phone and I think that the gang he's taking us to see is…"
Waving goodbye to Tomoyo, who had just received a call from her mother, Rika and Sakura walked into the club so that they could practise their dance routines. The club was, as usual, very silent because there were no punters inside as it didn't open until eight. So it shocked Rika and Sakura when they walked into the main area and found the front two tables occupied. Shrugging they walked through the stage door to their changing area and changed into their leotards and put on their jazz boots- a special, soft leather, flexible boot that dancers use.
"Lady Marmalade first?" Rika asked sticking the CD into the stereo. Sakura nodded in agreement. It was their favourite track to dance to, the audience always seemed to agree because it was the one they got the most applause to, so it was always the last one that they did.
The music started and Sakura and Rika walked onto the stage. 'Where's all my soul sisters/ Let me hear y'all flow sisters/ Hey sister, go sister, soul sister, flow sister' Sakura slipped down into the splits as Rika went down in a crab and then pushed herself up so she was doing a hand stand. Sakura brought her back leg to the front and stood up, whilst Rika came down from her handstand. They then began dancing; using moves that they both knew by heart because they had danced to the song so many times before.
As the last notes of the song faded away Sakura and Rika heard their audience clapping, as one they smiled and bowed before walking off of the stage and turning the stereo off. "That felt good." Rika said beaming. "Tonight should be our best performance if that rehearsal was anything to go by." Sakura shook her head amused.
"Excuse me." Said a man in the shadows. Rika and Sakura span around to face him. "But is one of you Kinomoto Sakura?" He asked.
"I am." Sakura replied frowning. "But you shouldn't be back here."
"Sorry." The guy apologised. "But Amodeus Lars told me to come and get you; he wants to talk to you." Sakura sighed. Lars was her mother's younger brother; she wondered why he wanted to talk to you.
"It's okay Rika; I'll meet you back here in five, ok?" She asked following after the guy not giving her friend a chance to reply. The guy led her to one of the two tables that she and Rika had noticed were occupied earlier. Her Uncle Lars was lounging across the table watching her approach. He had emerald eyes like her but he had blonde hair. He smiled in welcome at her. "Hi Lars." She said in greeting standing opposite him, so her back was to the stage.
"Sit down." He commanded gesturing to a chair one of the men had placed behind her. Obediently Sakura sat down. "Have you heard of the panthers?" He asked and raised an eyebrow when Sakura shook her head. He had thought that Uta might have mentioned it but then he remembered that Sakura had lived with the ballet teacher since she was five. "The panthers are a gang." He replied studying Sakura to see what her reaction to this was. "But they aren't just any gang," He continued. "They are my gang. At the moment I am The Panther." He smirked.
"What has this got to do with me?" Sakura asked curious. He had never brought up the fact that he was leader of a gang before, why was he bringing it up now? Lars sighed, he didn't want to bring his young niece into his world but he had no choice. He had to ask her, it was the law of the gang. Nadeshiko and Uta had both been asked but they had both refused. But unlike her mother Sakura wouldn't have a choice; he needed her in the gang.
"Since you are seventeen I have to ask you if you want to join the Panthers because you are close family." 'The closest I have' he added silently. "I would have asked Ayame if she was alive, but she isn't. Therefore you, my little niece, have to fore fill your family duty and join the Panthers. You have no choice." He added, looking at her sorrowfully brushing his golden locks out of his eyes.
Sakura sighed, thinking about what he had just said. "Why do I have to join?" She asked her emerald eyes narrowing. "You can at least tell me why, seeing as it looks like I have no choice." Looking into her emerald eyes Lars could tell that she was less than happy; he knew that she deserved an answer.
"You may have heard that there have been a lot of gang wars." He began; she nodded having seen a news report about it. "I need to unite this gang with another, and you are the only way that I can do this as I have no children of my own. If I do not unite this gang then we shall be destroyed, we are not powerful enough to withhold the Ravens on our own." He sighed. Sakura reached across the table and squeezed his hand; he looked up at her surprised.
"I will join the gang for you, but you will need to explain everything to me." She said smiling wryly; Lars didn't miss the sadness in her eyes. He knew that she was only doing this because it was her duty. "What do I have to do?"
Eriol and Syaoran looked at each other digesting the news that Hiroshi had just given them; Matty wanted them to meet the Ravens. That was not good. The Li clan was part of the Wolves; the major driving force behind it and Syaoran's father was The Wolf making Syaoran next in line for the title. They both knew that as soon as they walked into the Raven's lair they would be captured. Neither of them wore the tattoo that signified them as a Wolf because they had not yet joined but they knew that they would be recognised.
The phone rang making both Syaoran and Eriol jump. Syaoran leaned over and picked it up. "Hello?" He began.
"Syaoran." Li Ieran replied.
"Hello Mother." He replied, looking at Eriol he wondered what his Mother wanted. He heard his Mother swallow. "What's wrong?" He asked concerned.
"Your father was attacked by the Raven's earlier." She replied her voice wavering. "He requests that you and Eriol return immediately to our house so that you can be initiated into the Wolves." Syaoran frowned, he didn't miss the fear in his Mother's voice, he knew that it was unlikely that his father would live the night.
"We're on our way." He replied placing the receiver down then he turned to Eriol. "We need to go to my parents' house." He said standing up and leaving the room, wondering what on earth was going on Eriol followed after his cousin.
Sakura decided that having a tattoo was definitely one of the most physically painful things to have happened to her- it came a close second to breaking her arm. She looked in the mirror at her shoulder blade. On it was a Black Panther with golden claws outstretched and a golden crown over its head. As the guy who had done the tattoo but some gauze over it to protect it Sakura sort out her Uncle Lars' eyes. "What exactly does the tattoo mean?" She enquired.
Lars ran a hand through his hair absently. "The Black Panther in mid leap signifies the gang." He remarked and watched as Sakura nodded in understanding. "The golden claws signify that you are high up in the gang, maybe a leader or the partner of a leader." Sakura looked at him startled but didn't say anything. "The golden crown tells everyone that knows that you are a member of the first Panther family, that you are royalty." He grinned wryly. "You will meet our people at a party on Saturday." Sakura nodded glad that it was on her day off.
"Lars? I'd rather that I had a pseudonym than everyone knew my real name, at least until I have to meet the gang." She swallowed. "And I'd like to use this party so that I can mingle in the crowds so that I can understand our people better." Lars looked at her with respect; it looked like she actually wanted to make a proper go of this.
"Alright, little one. What shall we call you though?" He mused.
"Cherry Blossom." Sakura replied with a wicked grin. Lars laughed.
"Okay little Cherry Blossom, I'll see you later in the week." He added standing up.
"Goodbye Uncle Lars." She said hugging him and then she turned and walked backstage to where she knew Rika was waiting for her. As Sakura pushed open the door a very annoyed looking Rika looked up.
"Where have you been?!" She demanded looking absolutely furious. "You've been gone almost two hours! You could have told me, I've been sitting back here worrying." She hissed causing Sakura to flinch.
"Rika I'm…" She began but Rika rushed up to her and hugged her crying. "I'm so sorry." She finished hugging Rika back tightly. "I didn't realise what the time was."
Syaoran looked through the glass window that separated him from his father's bedside. His father was surrounded by machines and covered in tubes that were doing Lord knows what to him. A doctor walked out of the room and headed towards Syaoran and his mother. "Mr Li's condition has stabilised." He informed them. "The next forty eight hours are critical." A nurse walked up to the doctor and whispered something to him then they both walked back into the room shutting the door firmly behind them. Syaoran turned to his mother.
"Syaoran, your father asked that we initiate you tonight in case he does not survive." Li Ieran said frankly putting aside her worry for her husband. "Even if he does live, which I hope he does, you still need to become a member and fulfil your duty." Syaoran frowned.
"What duty?" He demanded as Eriol rounded the corner with three cups of coffee. "What duty, mother?" Ieran looked at her son; he was getting more like his father every day. She gratefully took the coffee from Eriol.
"Thank you." She said taking a sip from the cup then she looked at her youngest child and eldest son. "The clans need to unite," She said seriously. "The Ravens have become too much of a threat for any clan to stand alone against them, if we did we would all be destroyed. Apart we are weak, together we are strong."
"What have I got to do with this?" Syaoran inquired his voice deceptively calm. Eriol looked at Ieran.
"To unite the clans the blood of the royal families is supposed to combine, therefore the only way would be marriage." Eriol said ignoring Syaoran and focusing on his aunt who nodded.
"Eriol is right." She agreed. "Your father has already arranged it. The Wolves are to unite permanently with the Panthers." She sighed. "I'm sorry Syaoran but…"
"But I have no other choice." Syaoran finished for her, looking at his father lying on the bed. "What must I do?"
Syaoran was taking it rather better than he thought that he would, but then again Syaoran always was big family duty- the whole Li clan was, including Eriol.
"Are you going to join Eriol?" Aunt Ieran asked turning to look at him as she led Syaoran away. Syaoran stopped and turned his amber eyes towards him. Eriol swallowed.
"Sure, Aunty Ieran." He replied. "Mother will expect me to."
"Then you can join now, with Li." She said beckoning him to follow after her.
Ieran led Syaoran and Eriol to a nearby room inside of which stood two men who stood up respectfully when Ieran entered the room. This more than anything Ieran had said confirmed to them that she was telling the truth. "These are the two I was talking about." She said. "This is Syaoran and Eriol" She continued gesturing to them in turn. The guys nodded and Eriol noticed them shooting occasional glances at Syaoran, who was of course ignoring them. She smiled at them and left the room, Eriol glanced to Syaoran slightly concerned that was the only visible sign either of them gave to their ill ease.
She had left Sakura and Rika a couple of hours ago and now she was bored, she knew that they both would still be there practising so she made her way over to the club. She walked into the dark club and was slightly perturbed noticing that there was no sign of either of her friends. So she went around to there changing room where she found both of them sitting in silence and Sakura looking close to tears. "Hi guys." She said smiling. "What's wrong?"
"I'm not allowed to work here anymore, tonight's my last show." Sakura said at last, breaking the silence. "Uncle Lars said so."
"You're nearly eighteen." Rika pointed out. "I don't see why he's suddenly being so over protective." Tomoyo watched with interest as Sakura's shoulders sagged.
"He just is, that's all." Was her reply, although Tomoyo could tell that there was something that her friend wasn't saying. "I'm really sorry Rika but I have no choice." Sakura swallowed. "Are we still friends?"
Rika looked at her startled. "Of course we are!" She replied smiling.
"Good." Sakura whispered getting up and hugging her.
"Well we've got to make sure you go out with a bang tonight then." Tomoyo said grinning.
"You only have that look when you want us to wear one of your dresses." Sakura murmured trading a quick glance with Rika.
"Oh, but you'll both like these ones." Tomoyo retorted smiling secretively. Sakura sighed and looked at her best friend, then smiled.
"I'm sure we will." She replied. "You always do design fantastic dresses." Tomoyo blushed and her eyes went starry.
"You really think so?" She demanded. Rika nodded.
"Come on Tomoyo, this is Sakura we're talking about!" She said in a teasing tone, earning herself a slap on the shoulder from Sakura. She smiled innocently at Sakura, who rolled her eyes.
"So when are we going to meet the boyfriend of yours?" Sakura asked in the hope that they would give her some peace. Tomoyo shrugged.
"How about Friday?" She asked and watched as Rika and Sakura nodded in turn. "Friday night it is then." She said grinning.
Syaoran looked at the wolf tattoo on his right arm amused. If you didn't know better you would think that it was an ordinary white wolf tattoo but if you looked closely you could see that the wolf was outlines in silver and had silver fangs. Only the 'royal' family were allowed to have white wolves and the silver signified that you were a leader. Even if he did say so himself the tattoo was impressive. When he became The Wolf the tattoo would also be outlined in gold, like his fathers was.
He turned to see Eriol looking at him. Eriol too supported a white wolf tattoo outlined in silver; he was after all Syaoran's cousin and therefore deserved such honour. "Do you want to go home?" Eriol asked and then smiled seeing the look in Syaoran's eyes. "Let's go to a club and then home." He suggested. "But remember you're the only single one." Syaoran laughed.
"She's got you wrapped around her little finger already Eriol, what are we going to do?" He teased.
To be continued…
Author's Note: 29/01/08 Hi, in case you are because the story has been updated – it hasn't – I've just gone through this chapter and edited a bit, because frankly some of the mistakes were embarrassing. To be truthful I am not happy with this story at all, and I have recently started editing the piece. So you will hopefully end up with a better and more conclusive ending – the current one is rather abrupt. In order to do this I will probably be removing this story from FanFiction [dot net so that it will be easier to replace chapters, in the meantime please fell free to continue reading and enjoying what is up here.