Tied By Fate
Disclaimer: I don't own CCS or its characters. Please don't sue.
Chapter 19: Confrontations
A timid maid softly knocked on the boss's door, carrying a tray of breakfast. Li Syaoran had been in his office ever since four in the morning and now it was nearly nine o'clock! He must've had so much to do since he had been out for so long, the maid thought.
Waiting patiently for about a minute, she realized that her knock had been left unanswered. She knocked again, loud enough to hear. This time, she received an answer, but not one she expected...or particularly wanted.
"What do you want!" said a curt reply. The maid nearly jumped in surprise.
"I...I...uh...just have your breakfast, sir," she said, almost inaudible from inside. "Your sisters sent me."
At once she heard his rude reply. "I'm not hungry! I'm busy here, you know!"
"Y-Y-Yes, sir!" she squeaked before scurrying off with the uneaten tray in her hands. That man was scary...cute but scary.
Inside, Syaoran sighed as he wrote his signature on a stack of papers with his right hand and typed continuously on the computer's keyboard with his left hand. Other than that, the fax machine was going berserk. He had had to tell his secretary to hold off any phone calls that he received and just take messages. If he had to hear those annoying rings while doing all these things at once, he'd really go crazy.
Damn business. Damn clan. So much to do and so little time to do it. His sisters had done an okay job while he had been away, but there were still things that they weren't authorized to do. All in all, they left all the big, important stuff for their little brother to handle. What nice sisters.
It was so hard to concentrate on so many things at once.
And no...he wasn't exactly talking about the signing papers, the typing on the computer, or receiving things from the fax machine...
So many things to concentrate on...in his head.
So what if right now all he though about was only about one girl? Sakura wasn't any other kind of girl. Taking time to think about her was worth it. But it was different when he had to think about her emotions...the ones that still haunted him even now. She was anxious, lonely, determined, and excited all at the same time, for heaven's sake! Why so many different emotions? And most important of all...that feeling of love. Even before when he knew she liked Yukito, that feeling was no where as strong as the one she was emitting now. He knew that feeling of love all too well...
Okay, maybe she was deeply in love with Yukito now and she just noticed just how much she cared for him. Maybe that was it. It made Syaoran's heart bleed just thinking about it but maybe it truly was the answer. But then, that still wouldn't explain the other feelings. Especially the loneliness and the nervousness. If she was so happily in love with that damn Yuktio, then why would she be nervous and lonely at the same time?
Kinomoto Sakura was going to be the death of him just by plaguing his mind all the time. And the sad thing was...he didn't mind. Syaoran wouldn't mind thinking of Sakura until the moment he died. Damn...even if he did die, he'd still be thinking about her wherever death leads him to next. But why did she have to confuse him so much? The confusion was even making him go rather angry and frustrated, added to the work he was doing. A perfect example of this was his reaction to a simple maid who was simply trying to give him some breakfast.
But oh, Sakura. How he missed that girl. He would do anything just to see her right now–
Abruptly, he stopped typing and writing all at the same time and stared down at the name he had just written on the line in a very important business letter.
Last time he checked, his name was Syaoran, right?
Okay, so maybe doing all this office shit and thinking about her at the same time wasn't such a good idea. But he had to admit...the name sounded good. It sounded perfect. Li Sakura... Li Syaoran. It fit.
Jeez! Was he crazy? He was only seventeen and already he was thinking of marrying a girl he had met only a few months ago?
He sighed, pulling out his hair in frustration as he slumped in his leather chair, pausing all his tiring work. He couldn't keep working like this for long. Sure, he had expected this much to accumulate while he was gone and sure he had said he would take his responsibility instead of running away from them now. But...
...thinking about her just seemed to stop all else.
And now he couldn't get that name out of his head...
... Li Sakura...
A lost Card Mistress found herself stuck in the middle of a crowd which spoke an incoherent language. She didn't know what else to do except get swept away from the jumbled people, hoping that Meiling, her ride, would catch her somehow. She really wished she had at least learned from basic Chinese before she came. It was frustrating when you couldn't understand a thing anyone was saying. And now she had to get bruised and bumped along until she finally found a way to get out of this sea of bodies.
She grinned despite the situation. Syaoran...you're lucky I love you so much! I wouldn't be in this mess if I didn't!
And she truthfully did love him to the extent of her being. She had figured that out long before but now that she was on the same soil as he was, she simply didn't think she could hold in her love any longer.
But she wasn't getting anywhere in this mess.
Suddenly, as soon as the thought came to her, an arm grabbed her and pulled her from the crowd. She found herself face to face with a grinning Li Meiling.
"Meiling-chan!" she yelled in excitement as she threw her arms around the other girl. "Thank goodness, someone that understands what I say!"
The Chinese girl laughed and hugged Sakura back. "Yeah, yeah. Well come on...you're embarrassing me!"
Sakura laughed along and agreed to get going. While Meiling lead Sakura to the car where Wei was waiting, she couldn't help but recognize Sakura's giddy, happy manner as she chattered away, each of her steps light and carefree. Meiling smiled a little bit as she responded to Sakura's questions and statements.
Sakura...she was excited to see him. She was excited to finally see Syaoran again to tell her how much she loved him. Wasn't it only two days ago that Sakura had been moping and refused any conversation? Wasn't it two days ago when Meiling had had to pour out her feelings about the whole matter on the phone to try to make Sakura budge?
And Sakura did budge. Meiling was eternally grateful for that...for both Syaoran's and Sakura's sakes.
Wow...only a few days away and they were already so miserable without each other. They truly are tied by fate.
Sakura sat nervously in the leather limousine seat, wringing her hands and constantly looking at her watch.
She was going to see him soon.
As she sat amidst the comfortable silence between her and Meiling, she looked out the window, watching the city of Hong Kong pass by her in a flash. Cars, streets, buildings, people walking hurriedly from one place to another...it was way different than the small town of Tomoeda. But each stop sign, each traffic light, each little block brought her closer to him. She could feel it.
The shield on his emotions was cracking quickly, as if each little inch the limousine took broke off a piece of it. It was odd...after all, before he left Japan he still had that shield up and even if she was near him, practically touching shoulders with him, the shield simply wouldn't falter. Why was it breaking now?
No matter...she was going to see him...no matter what.
Her curious emerald eyes caught sight of trees down in the distance behind some tall skyscrapers. It surprised her, for she had never thought there would be any kind of foliage, much less a park in this industrialized city of Hong Kong.
For some strange reason she was drawn to it. It called to her, telling her to come. It looked strangely familiar to her even though she was sure she had never been in this city before. She didn't even have a good view of the park. All she could fathom about the park was that it seemed rather large. Other than that, it didn't seem special in any other way.
Did every Japanese person who came through Hong Kong feel drawn to that park?
Wait a minute...that aura...that feeling...coming from there?
"Hey, Meiling-chan," she said as the park moved out of her view, "are you sure Syaoran's at home?"
Sakura looked back to the place where the park disappeared, unable to get the strange feeling off her chest.
Her companion giggled and put a hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry, Sakura, he's there."
"What do you mean he's not here!"
The secretary bowed her head in fear as she trembled under the young, ill-tempered Li. It was bad luck that she had to work with these easily angered kids all day. First her boss, now his cousin. "I-I'm sorry, he suddenly left and didn't tell anyone where he was going."
Meiling threw her hands up in the air in frustration, letting out a string of curses in Chinese. "He told me he was going to lock himself in his office all day and work! This is important! Call his cell phone!"
The ignored Japanese girl behind Meiling watched the scene in confusion, uncomprehending the strange language. Obviously Meiling was upset about something. But what troubled Sakura even more was that Syaoran's aura didn't seem to be in the building at all. She cleared her throat a bit and Meiling turned to look at her. The Chinese girl gave her a look of pure annoyance. Sakura blinked in bafflement, thinking the look was directed to her.
"Meiling-chan? Did I do something wrong?"
She quickly shook her head and started pacing in front of the secretary desk. "No, no, no," she said, reverting back to Japanese, "Syaoran's not here. He seemed to have slipped out." Meiling sighed. "I'm so sorry, Sakura. We'll find him though. Don't worry about that." She paused, looking at the upset face of her friend's. She had been so close to getting them back together again. So damn close! At an attempt to cheer the girl up, she patted her back and grinned. "Don't worry... Hong Kong isn't that big. Besides, he's bound to come back soon."
Sakura nodded. So it was just as she had feared. Syaoran wasn't here. Yet, she could feel his aura from a distance, enticing her to follow. "Meiling-chan, call off the search."
The girl's ruby eyes blinked in deep shock. "NANI! No way! Are you crazy, Sakura? Have you given up? You just got here and I won't have you going back just because we-"
"No, no," Sakura insisted. She added a cheerful smile. "Call off the search because...I know where he is."
Working and thinking about Sakura wasn't going to amount to anything so he decided to try to keep his mind off things. He decided to take a little walk to calm his nerves.
So here he was, walking through a seemingly peaceful park. It seemed like the perfect place to sort out his thoughts. The only thing was that...it wasn't. Why he came here...he'd never figure out. But he guessed it was time to return here again. It had been his favorite place to go to when he was a kid and had always begged someone to take him there all the time. There was just something about the place, something about how the sunlight gently caressed your face from above and the birds constantly singing. But he hadn't been here for a long time.
He had already faced his father's grave so...
...this was the only place he had been avoiding.
Yes. It was the park where his father had been shot.
He had thought that it was no longer that painful to think of his death anymore. He had come to terms with it, had finally told himself that there was nothing he could have done about it.
But coming here...reliving the steps he had taken those years ago...
...they pained him. And he suffered from it again even though he was sure he wasn't blaming himself anymore.
No...it wasn't that. It wasn't guilt. He no longer felt blamed for his father's death. He no longer hated his father for leaving the clan and the business in his hands when he was only ten.
He was simply sad that he couldn't be with him anymore. His father was a great person, and will always be.
Now that he thought about it...Syaoran thought that it almost seemed as if he didn't care that a human being, his father, died. It seemed as if all he had cared about was the responsibility on his shoulders...that everyone blamed him for the death of a great person. He hadn't cared that his father...his own father...died.
The teen stopped in his tracks, hating himself. Selfish...that one of the many words to describe himself. A spoiled, rotten, selfish asshole.
His eyes scanned ahead, taking in the very familiar park path and a memory took over him.
A young boy and his father walking down the streets holding hands, the boy bounding in mirth. It seemed so simple...so innocent...so ordinary. Why did it have to end up the way it did? His father was no longer here with him, no longer there to guide him, to smile encouragingly at his kids. He didn't get a chance to see his kids grow older and more mature. He didn't get the chance to grow old with his loving wife, to see his four young daughters grow up and get married...and he didn't have the chance to see Syaoran fall in love for the first time.
A tear fell. Followed by another. Then another. Then yet another.
Why the hell was he crying? Maybe it had to do with the selfishness. He hated himself because of it. First, it had been ignoring Sakura's emotions, thinking only about himself. Then there was the fact that it almost didn't seem like he cared that his father died...that he only cared about the pressure and blame on himself.
No...it was because his father was dead. He truly realized that now. Even though he had been gone for years already...it was the first time that it really hit him.
His father was really gone.
The wind pushed against her, almost as if trying to prevent her from nearing the park. But Sakura ignored it. All she knew was that she had to get to that park...no matter what happened. The Fly Card's wings were attached to her back as she soared way above the city buildings, spotting the thick trees in the distance. She didn't even care if anyone saw her anymore. She had a feeling that there was a problem.
She was nearing the park, hovering almost over it now. It was then that she felt it. The wave of sadness.
It struck like an unexpected tornado but it didn't pass on by. Her body felt as if it was drowning, trying to escape with no success. It was so intense that her flight was suddenly cut short and she fell downward clumsily, screaming and desperately trying to catch air again. But her body refused and her head was pounding so hard that she couldn't even see straight anymore. The Fly Card's wings had disappeared from her back due to her lack of concentration. Sakura was sure that she was going to fall to her death against the hard cement, but instead, stinging branches and leaves broke her fall and she landed on a grassy, leafy area.
A high-pitched scream. A collision with the trees and leaves.
What the hell was going on?
Then he felt it...the aura. Breaking into an anxious run, he followed the familiar pinkness, almost disbelievingly.
It couldn't be her...could it?
He strayed from the park's path and into the dense trees, trying to find her among them. He didn't notice the branches as they whipped against his face, of the bushes that seemed to claw at his body. Sakura was here.
Up ahead, he heard a groan of pain and immediately, he found a body lying in a pile of leaves and branches. Syaoran knew exactly who it was. Without thinking, he rushed to her side and helped her sit up. She was trembling in deep pain, her eyes closed, her body bruised and scratched.
Wait...He was doing this to her. He was doing this with his depressing thoughts about his father dying.
Damn...again he hurt her. Again!
He held her close to him protectively as she gripped onto his shirt, still trembling hard. But no matter what he did, he couldn't console her. He couldn't stop the pain. All because of his stupid thoughts. But he couldn't help it. He couldn't help feeling miserable.
First the revelation of his selfishness, the sadness of his father's death, and now with the thought that he was hurting the one person he truly loved.
Everything caught up with him. Every emotion, every thought, just everything. He couldn't take it. And little did he know that the shield he had obstructed around his emotions couldn't take it either.
It collapsed. And Sakura was the one who had to feel all the different, overwhelming feelings.
She let out a scream into Syaoran's shirt at the sudden burst of emotions. Syaoran realized what was happening and cursed at himself. His shield was broken. His emotions were pouring out and Sakura was the one who had to deal with it.
He held the girl closer to himself. He didn't know what the hell to do.
"S-Sakura...Sakura!" his frantic voice called. "Oh god...I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry..." He wanted to calm her down. He didn't want to hurt her anymore. Oh god...what the hell should he do?
Then in a desperate attempt, he did the thing which came to mind first.
He swooped down and brought his lips to her trembling ones.
The instant he did, her body seemed to relax. But he didn't appear to notice. All he knew was that here he was kissing her with all the love and passion he had been keeping inside all this time.
He deepened it, loving the feel of her luscious lips against his own, getting hungrier and hungrier for more. He felt her kissing him back and suddenly his mind went blank. The mere notion of stopping his current task completely vanished from his mind. His rough hands caressed her back and he felt hers running wildly through his hair. He felt completely calm except from the heat he was getting from kissing her. Pure elation. That's what it felt like.
When Sakura suddenly felt his lips pressing against hers, everything slowly just faded away from her mind. The pain, the emotions, her common sense...everything. It felt like heaven to be kissing him, to be so close to him again. She felt whole. This was what she wanted.
Suddenly, she realized what was happening and reluctantly pulled away, dizzy and feeling faint. Sakura looked at him and saw the shocked, pale expression on his face. He just realized what had just happened, too.
As the lightheadedness faded, he was brought back to reality with a bang of awareness and he felt the blood drain from his face. Syaoran's eyes wandered to her flushed face, her swollen lips. He had just kissed her. He had just forced himself on her. And he hadn't been able to stop. Who knows what he would've done to her if she didn't pull away.
He let out of a string of curses in Chinese. "I-I'm sorry...I shouldn't have...You were...I..."
Sakura let out a tiny smile at his apology and as she drew closer to him, his body tensed. Syaoran hadn't changed. Except now, she could freely sense the different emotions. He was no longer holding back.
And among the various feelings, there was that definitely emotion of love. There were no excuses. He loved her.
Oh the joy she was feeling! He loved her! He truly loved her!
Sakura brought her face to level with his, bringing it close so that they were almost touching. "But you helped me. I should be thanking you, Syaoran-kun..." she said softly.
Ah, the sound of his name from her lips. He felt woozy again from the tingling feeling of being so close to her. "N-No...I caused it." He felt disgusted with himself again and turned away from her. "You shouldn't be here, Sakura. I only hurt you. You'd be happier in Japan with your family, Daidouji, Hiiragazawa and..." He paused for a second as he remembered the guy Sakura had first liked. But Syaoran felt confused. Wasn't it that she was pouring her love out for him while they were kissing just a second ago? Wasn't it that she had felt alone and sad without him? "And Tsukishiro..." he finished uneasily.
Sakura instantly felt the pain of rejection from him and shook her head. He misunderstood. He thought she loved Yukito. She grabbed his hands in her own and forced him to look straight at her.
Amber caught emerald once again after a long time. It calmed them both.
"Syaoran, it's true that I thought I had feelings for Yukito-san." She saw him visibly wince and felt the slight pain strengthen. "Wait! Listen to me," she said before he could look away again. "I thought I did. But I realized that I truly didn't. That day when I was with him...all I could think about was you!"
Syaoran looked at her questionably. So it was true then? So she loved him back?
Sakura saw this look and smiled at his perplexed amber eyes. "Yes, Syaoran," she said with a slight giggle. "I love y-"
She was cut off as he suddenly pushed his lips against hers once again for a quick yet passion-filled kiss. Sakura felt the clear joy from him and couldn't help but feel the same.
He pulled away slightly, their faces still touching, their lips only a centimeter apart. "I love you, Sakura," he breathed. "I love you and I don't want to be away from you anymore. Dear god..." He said as he breathed in her familiar scent of cherry blossoms. "You don't know how much I missed you."
Sakura laughed, her heart brimming with happiness. "Actually," she said with a bright smile, "I heard you calling...I heard you say you missed me. And I came running."
She saw his lips turn upwards in one of his pure, rare, handsome smiles and felt her breath taken away.
He brought a hand up to her smooth cheek, caressing it lightly as he looked into her deep emerald pools. "I...I'm glad you did." She loved him. This was what he had been wanting for weeks. This was how he wanted to caress her softly, how he wanted to show his love.
This was how it was supposed to be.
"Syaoran, why did you run away?"
He looked at her questioning face and felt a bit guilty for leaving her. "I...I thought you loved..." his voice broke away before he could finish.
Sakura only smiled understandingly, holding his hands in hers. "It's okay."
"But..." he started, looking honestly at her. "I'm kind of glad I came back to Hong Kong. Don't get me wrong...I was completely miserable without you. But I got a lot sorted out here with my...family and situation."
She looked at him proudly, her smile radiating on her face. "I'm glad." She truly was. In fact, she could feel how light the load on his shoulders was now, as if all his problems seemed to be solved.
It was then that they felt tiny drops of water fall on their faces.
"Come on," Syaoran said, looking at the sky that was blocked by tons of leaves, "We better get out of here before the rain gets stronger."
Ignoring the bruises she had received from her fall from the sky, she lifted her aching body with the help of Syaoran, leaning her body against his. When he saw how painful it would be for her to walk, he gave an encouraging smile and leaned forward a bit, bending his knees at the same time.
"Get on my back," he said gently. "I don't want you to trip and fall."
Giving him an apologetic look, she climbed onto his warm back, slightly damp from the rain. It was starting to pour down on them harder, and she was glad that the trees blocked most of the drops from coming in contact with them. Once she was set on his back, she placed her face near his ear as she wrapped her arms loosely around his neck. "Are you sure, Syaoran-kun? I don't want to be a burden."
Her hot breath on his ear made his skin tingle as he nodded at her question. "I don't mind. Don't worry." After a second of readying himself, he said, "Okay, let's go," and set off on his way to find the park path again.
Touched by his sudden sweetness, Sakura gave a smile and nestled herself into a comfortable position on his back. Glancing at his face from her angle, she couldn't help but feel so safe at the moment.
She had found him. She had told him.
And now they had confessed.
It was the happiest day of her life. Suddenly all the doubt and fear of rejection had gone away in just a matter of those seconds where he had kissed her.
She closed her eyes, reminiscing about it. Ah...that kiss. It was so heavenly. Sakura could tell that Syaoran had wanted to do that for a while now, seeing that it had been rather forceful in the beginning. But it had immediately turned into a gentle, passionate one and Sakura had felt herself returning it.
It was amazing as she thought about it now. That simple kiss, the way he held her...it had calmed her nerves and her painful body without hesitation.
To be in love and to be loved back was a very remarkable feeling.
Underneath her, Syaoran had stopped his walk and she wondered if he had found the path yet. Then, she suddenly felt his tenseness, not only in his emotions, but also in his body. Her eyes fluttered open and she looked ahead, trying to see what the problem was.
They had indeed escaped the trees and had now found the path again. But this place seemed familiar and she felt as if she had been here before.
Then it came to her.
The position of the trees. The thickness of the bushes along the sides. The way the path slightly curved to the left.
Sakura's voice caught in her throat, her emerald eyes widening. "S-Syaoran..." she choked out.
Syaoran had heard her whisper and he nodded his head ever so slightly, not taking his eyes away from the path.
In front of him was the exact spot where his father had died.
Rain pelted on them, the wind blew into his face, but suddenly he had grown numb. The only thing that kept him sane right now was knowing that Sakura was right there, resting on his back. Her touch seemed to calm him, preventing him from feeling anything.
He felt her worry seeping into him and hoped he wasn't causing her pain from his own emotions right now. He wasn't even sure what he was feeling right now. He had thought that maybe he would feel a deep sadness, seeing that he had had his little revelation on his selfishness minutes before he found Sakura. But no. He just felt absolutely numb.
It just felt so awkward as he stood there in the rain, carrying a hurt Sakura on his back.
Sakura swallowed, getting rid of her dry throat. Her arms around Syaoran's neck tightened a bit as she drew closer to his face. With her cheek, she rubbed against his, trying to comfort him. She knew how uncomfortable he was feeling, and she knew that he wasn't trying to get away from the area because his legs were probably frozen in place. If only there was something she could do, something she could say. But as she thought, the rain pelting against her back and face, she could think of nothing that would seem to affect him.
"I-It's okay," she heard his voice croak. "Y-You don't have to feel sorry for me."
"Syaoran..." She gave a sigh as she got down from his back. Syaoran allowed her to, making sure she didn't hurt herself in the process. Sakura looked up at him and saw the emotionless expression on his face. But she understood how he felt.
No. She didn't want to see him like this anymore.
She hugged him tightly, burying her head into his shoulder. "Syaoran..."
Immediately, she felt his arms wrapping around her, too as he slightly trembled. "I...He..."
"You just miss him, neh?" she said, completing his sentence.
She felt him nod and only hugged him closer, both their clothes now soaked with rain.
"It's okay," he heard her say in the softest most comforting tone ever. "He misses you, too," she continued. He saw her look up at him once again, her eyes comforting and peaceful. "But you know...he never left you. Remember what we talked about before? As long as it's from the heart, the person who you want to talk to will hear you..."
Yes, he remembered that conversation with her. And she was right. His father didn't leave. As long as there were memories of him, he's just as alive as any living human being. Just because he was no longer physically present, didn't mean that his spirit had gone too. Syaoran could still talk to his father whenever he wanted.
Syaoran felt his heart lighten and suddenly the world felt bright even though it was pouring. He hugged the small teen in his arms even more, burying his head in her hair.
"Thanks..." he whispered into her honey brown hair. "Thank you for everything..."
She had changed him to be a better person. She had made him smile and laugh. She had lightened his stress. She had even made it feel as if his father were standing next to him this very second.
Sakura brightened every aspect of his world.
One month later...
It had been weeks since they had last heard from Sakura. Though she had called when she had first arrived, saying that she had found Syaoran, she didn't give any other clue to what might have happened between them. So whether she and Syaoran was a couple, no one in Japan knew. Since then, the Card Mistress hadn't called home and though the Kinomoto family and her friends tried to call her, they could never seem to get in touch. Calling her cell phone was no use, most probably because she was in another country, and calling the Li house didn't seem to work either. The only people who seemed to pick up were secretaries and they all told them the same thing: They're not available.
The breaking news on the television about Syaoran had died down in about a few days. Seemingly, as soon as he returned, his business was no longer in peril. Furthermore, his mother had gotten out of the hospital sooner than they had all expected. She had seemed to perk right up when her only son returned home.
But any day now, they were hoping that Sakura would return, hopefully with Syaoran. Her father and brother were especially anxious. When Eriol and Tomoyo told the father who was expecting to see his cheerful daughter when he arrived home from work, he had paled terribly. Yet, being as trusting and understanding as he was, he didn't protest. He knew how much Sakura had loved Syaoran. It had been apparent by her gloomy actions when he had left to go back to Hong Kong.
Even though Touya and Yukito had left for their student exchange program for London, Fujitaka had called them right away to let them know what happened. He had had to witness a lot of yelling from the other side of the phone call and he and Yukito had tried to calmly convince him not to jump on a plane that very second and find her.
As for Kero, he was on the verge of exploding into a pile of guardian guts. He had been found punching his arms against a poorly drawn Syaoran he had pinned up on the wall. Yukito had said that Yue felt uneasily disturbed to not know how his mistress was doing and threatened to transform to fly over to Hong Kong. And finally, Spinel Sun and Ruby Moon were equally as worried. However they were also very amused by the whole ordeal. Suppi was predicting what exactly had happened and had finally concluded that the Card Mistress and the Li leader had eloped and were now living in a quaint little Chinese town. When Eriol had found out his guardian's opinion, he suspected that Spinel had been reading Nakuru's romance novels a bit too much and had promised himself never to mention that story to the worried Kinomoto men. As for Nakuru...well...as you could already expect, she was endlessly proclaiming how romantic and sweet the life of a teenager was.
All in all, the last few weeks have been tedious and had an atmosphere full of uneasiness.
But today, it was a seemingly quiet Saturday. A day for rest and relaxation from work and school. Fujitaka was asleep on the couch, the sunlight streaming in from the open window with the open newspaper on his lap. Kero had also fallen asleep and was currently resting on Sakura's father's chest which heaved with each breath. The considerate guardian had grown attached to the man over the weeks seeing that both Sakura and Touya were gone. He had thought that Fujitaka must've felt alone and worried for both of his children since they were in different countries. Besides, Fujitaka had barely worked overtime this month, frightful that his daughter would return one night and he would not even know. Anyway, Kero had never really spent time with the man before, except of course when he cooked meals. But now the two felt close, for they both felt alone and worried.
Unknowing to them, the front door creaked open and two voices would have been heard in the hallway. The honey brown haired girl led a boy her age to the living room where she had noticed a large snore was erupting from.
"Better not wake them," Syaoran whispered. His hand lovingly enclosed hers.
She nodded in agreement. It was a shame. She had wanted to see them first out of all people and to let them know she was okay. Nevertheless, she smiled as she saw how close the two had gotten. Now the only thing she had to do to make her family really complete was make Kero and Touya get along. But she highly doubted that would happen.
Sakura knelt in front of the couch and gently patted Kero's furry head. Then her hand went to her father's face. Carefully, she removed his glasses and placed them on the nearby coffee table. "Otou-san, Kero-chan," she whispered with a smile as bright as the afternoon sun, "I'm home." After a pause, she looked to the boy watching from behind her and her eyes glittered as he returned the smile. "We're home."
Tomoyo stretched her tired arms and lay down on top of the grass. Next to her sat Eriol. He gave a slight, unnoticeable smirked and suddenly swooped down, tickling her sides with fervor. Laughing out loud, she bolted right up again, coiling, trying to get those hands away from her sides. "E-E-Eriol!" she cried between fits of laughter. "Stop! A-Anything but the t-t-t-tickling!"
His eyes glinting slyly, he gave yet another impish grin. "As you wish." His hands left her sides and had suddenly wrapped themselves around her waist as he pulled himself towards her. Planting a long, passionate kiss on her lips, the moment of innocent flirting had been replaced. It took quite a while before they parted, panting for air.
Eriol shook himself out of the daze and adjusted his glasses straight on his nose again, trying to fix his disheveled hair. "Well...I think we're getting pretty good at that."
Tomoyo laughed heartily. "I think so, too."
Their voices and slight laughs subsided for a quiet moment as they sat on the comfy grass, shaded by the trees. They were in Sakura's favorite park with the cherry blossom trees. Unfortunately, the beautiful pink blossoms were gone and were replaced by ordinary looking leaves. Yet the place still had that sense of romance in it, especially since they were alone...something they both enjoyed very much.
"Eriol..." Tomoyo whispered, glancing at him. "I feel like something's going to happen today..."
He nodded in agreement. "I've had that feeling, too. Yet nothing seems out of the ordinary."
"Except Sakura-chan and Syaoran-kun still aren't home..."
Eriol frowned at the sadness of her voice and slung an arm around her, giving her comfort. "Don't give up, Tomoyo," he persisted. "It's not like Sakura-san would just stay there without telling us. Maybe they're coming home today."
She gave him a smile, knowing that he was trying to make her feel better. "That's what you've been saying ever since she left."
He chuckled at her response. "So I have." He had only wanted to cheer up his Tomoyo. Maybe he was doing it for himself too. He greatly missed the energetic Sakura and the sarcastic Syaoran. Eriol especially missed teasing the little wolf.
"You think they're together, Eriol? Can't you feel their auras and see if they're together?" the girl asked hopefully.
"Well," he started, "They're auras certainly feel different. I think Syaoran had put down that shield around his emotions which is a good thing. But I don't know if they're together."
Tomoyo sighed and placed her head comfortingly against his shoulder. "I hope they are. I hope everything was sorted out." She looked up at him, her amethyst eyes gleaming. "That way they'd experience the purity of love."
Eriol chuckled, drawing closer to her. "Well, well, well...since when have you become a romance poet?"
It was Tomoyo's turn to wear an impish smirk. Her face grew closer to his and he felt his body heat up as usual. Gently pulling his glasses from the bridge of his nose, she answered, "Since I was able to do this."
Their lips closed on the other's once again. However, this one was much more passionate, held much more meaning. Their tongues wrestling inside their mouths, they couldn't help but think how each kiss seemed so different. Each one was as special as the next one.
Nothing seemed comprehensible. It was as if they were in a wonderful void, free of worries and interruptions.
However that soon changed. Someone cleared their throat from behind them and the two lovebirds scrambled apart, standing up clumsily. They had never kissed that passionately in the presence of other people. It was supposed to be an intimate, special thing between them. Besides, it felt embarrassing to be caught making out like that.
"E-Excuse us," Tomoyo said with an evident blush on her face. She smoothed her hair and clothes as Eriol did the same. "I'm sorry...I'm afraid that-"
Her eyes widened as her voice caught in her throat. A familiar teenage boy and girl stood before her, each smiling immaculately.
"Tomoyo-chan, you little devil!" Sakura exclaimed with a wink.
The other girl shrieked in delight as she ran and hugged the heck out of her best friend. Meanwhile, Eriol had picked up his glasses which had been put aside while they were kissing. Putting them on, the fuzzy figures cleared and he saw Sakura and Syaoran. Only now, Tomoyo was smothering the poor girl with her killer hug.
Eriol grinned at the happy sight and walked over to them, waiting until the Kodak moment between the two girls stopped.
Sakura and Tomoyo pulled away and both smiled brightly. "Tomoyo-chan! I've missed you so much! You can't even imagine how much!" Her eyes caught sight of the smiling teen standing behind Tomoyo and Sakura's eyes brightened. It was so wonderful how her two close friends loved each other so. "Eriol-kun!" she yelled in mock anger as she put her hands on her hips. "You better not have hurt her while I was away!"
Tomoyo grinned. "Oh no...believe me. He hasn't."
The guy laughed in response as he scratched the back of his head sheepishly with a blush on his cheeks.
Sakura's smile widened as she extended her arms. "Well, where's my hug you big doof?"
He smiled and hugged the girl, surprised at how much happier she seemed now. It must've the happiest he had ever seen her.
So things must have gone well judging that Syaoran was awkwardly standing behind the Card Mistress, unsure of how to handle the cheery situation except with a slight smile on his face.
Tomoyo squealed upon seeing him and jumped on him, hugging him to his death.
"N-Nice to see you, too, Daidouji-san," he said between breaths as he laughed.
She shook her head as she pulled away. "No Daidouji-san. It's Tomoyo to you...Syaoran-kun."
The Chinese boy smiled at the first name basis. She was the second girl who wasn't family who had ever called him by his first name, Sakura being the first girl. But he didn't even think about it. He barely noticed it, in fact. It felt right. "Hai...Tomoyo."
Suddenly, stars gleamed in her amethyst eyes as she whipped a camera out in a split second. It focused it on Syaoran's face which now held a bemused look. "WAI! You're smiling so freely, Syaoran-kun!" she shrieked. The camera zoomed out to view both Syaoran and Sakura looking at each other in bewilderment. "You two! I'm going to plan your wedding, you hear? Ah, it'll be wonderful! I'll be Sakura-chan's maid of honor, Eriol can be Syaoran-kun's best man, the guys will wear tuxedos, Sakura will be wearing the most beautiful wedding dress ever created...hand made by yours truly of course and-"
Eriol sweat dropped and placed a hand on Tomoyo's shoulder so she'd stop rambling. "There'll be plenty of time to plan their wedding, Tomoyo." He suddenly looked up, a small look of panic in his azure orbs. "That is...if you two are..."
"Of course they're together, dummy!" Tomoyo exclaimed. Her camera focused on the two once again. "...Right?"
Sakura's smile widened even more and she held on to Syaoran's arm, lovingly. "Of course! Happily in love!"
Syaoran, furiously blushing from head to toe, nodded stiffly. He wasn't used to showing his affection for her with other people around. Back in Hong Kong, his sisters and Meiling and teased him constantly when they'd catch them share a small kiss or hold hands. He would always burst out in blushes. "H-Hai."
Tomoyo squealed in excitement, glad to capture the precious moment on her camera. "Kawaii! Syaoran-kun, you still blush!"
Her statement only made him turn a shade redder.
Eriol smirked and crossed his arms in front of himself. "Well, well, well my cute little descendant. I see you have finally obtained what you have been whining about the whole time you were here."
Syaoran gave the guy a trademark glare and grunted in response. "Sh-Shut up! I was not whining!"
Meanwhile, the other guy was glad that Syaoran hadn't changed in his temper...it was easier to irritate him that way. "I could distinctly remember when-"
Laughing nervously, Sakura interrupted the argument. "Well," she said in a loud voice, "how's Japan? Any exciting news?"
Momentarily forgetting the quarrel, Eriol shrugged. "Everything's pretty much the same. Everyone was more on an edge since you two were gone for a long time though. We were afraid you'd never return."
"What took you guys so long anyway?" Tomoyo asked from behind the camera.
Eriol's eyebrows rose. "You guys were gone for a month." A smile arose on his lips. "Was Spinel right then? Did you guys elope?" He broke into a fit of laughter.
Tomoyo squealed as the other couple blushed. Eloping? Wh-What an absurd idea! They were only teenagers! They had only been a couple for only less than a month!
"You and your stupid imagination, Eriol." As soon as he said it, everyone became rather quiet. Syaoran could hardly believe it. He had just blurted out that guy's first name without thinking. He had never called him Eriol. Never...
He saw the look of shock on his friend's face slowly melt into a slight smile.
"Since when were we on first name basis, Syaoran?" Eriol asked quietly and hopefully. Had Syaoran finally forgiven him for leaving him alone with his responsibilities all those years ago? Did Eriol no longer have to feel guilty for leaving him friendless and with no one to turn to? Did Syaoran finally think of him as at least a pleasant acquaintance instead of an irritable reincarnation of Clow who was a horrible person?
Did Syaoran no longer hate him?
The brown haired teen sighed as he ran a hand through his hair. He knew that Eriol was sorry for leaving him by himself and friendless. Eriol had always apologized and Syaoran had never accepted it. He used to be filled with contempt for the stupid sorcerer...but now...honestly...
Syaoran let out a chuckle. The whole thing was ironic and he felt stupid just thinking about it but he had to say it. "Since we became best friends, Eriol."
The girls immediately let out the breaths they were holding and Eriol stood there in shock. He had been expecting maybe "pals" or "buddies" or "acquaintance" but never best friend. Syaoran really thought that?
It made sense when Eriol thought about it. Syaoran knew no other guy their age very well except Eriol and every guy needed a best friend, neh?
Eriol gave a fake, teary cry and crushed the other teen with a not-so-manly hug. He gave a girly sob as he felt Syaoran pushing him off. "Ah, Syao-chan! At last you and I are finally friends!"
"You baka!" the Chinese boy yelled as he pried the annoying guy off. "I'll take it back!"
Yes...Eriol was his best friend. He had been with him when he had fallen in love with Sakura and had given Syaoran advice and comfort. And about all those years ago...Syaoran knew there was nothing Eriol could have done. And if that hadn't happened, he was very aware that Eriol would've probably become his best friend anyway.
Yes...an annoying, irritating, frustration, stupid best friend...but a best friend none the least.
Eriol laughed as he parted from the enraged Li. "My dear descendant," he said, "you better not treat Sakura-san as forcefully as you do with me." He wiggled his eyebrows. "You probably do. Tsk, tsk. Forcing a lady to do intimate things is not very polite, Syaoran!"
Syaoran's amber eyes flashed. "Why you-!"
Before he could jump at him and claw the poor guy's eyes out, Sakura held him back by touching his arm. She sweat dropped. She guessed even if they were best friends, they would still act this way. But she was glad that Eriol and Syaoran were friends. And even it didn't seem like it, they really did respect each other. This was just their weird way of showing it.
Guys are weird...
"So what did you guys do for a whole month?" Tomoyo asked curiously. "You could have at least called us back."
Eriol nodded. "We called a hundred times."
Sakura and Syaoran glanced at each other with a smile on their faces. "Well, we waited until Yelan-san got completely better and spent time with Meiling-chan and Syaoran's sisters," Sakura explained.
"And..." Syaoran paused, looking at them happily. "I took care of some important business."
The camera zoomed in on his face. "What sort of important business?"
The Li grinned widely, giving them the happiest smile they had ever seen. "I live here now. I opened a branch of the company in Tomoeda."
Tomoyo squealed in excitement once again as Eriol broke into a smile. "That's great, Syaoran-kun!" the raven haired girl said, giving him a small hug.
"Now he won't ever have to leave home again," Sakura said, beaming. She hugged him tightly, loving the way he gently hugged back.
Syaoran was here to stay.
Eriol cleared his throat and led the camera-crazed girl away while she protested loudly. "We'll meet up with you guys later. Maybe we could go to the movies or something. Right now, I gotta pry this little lady away before she starts naming all your future children."
Walking away from the couple, Tomoyo pouted as Eriol pulled her gently along by her arm, her camera still recording. "Aw, but Eriol!"
He smiled and looked down at her giving her a brief kiss on the lips to shut her up. "We have to leave the couple alone for now, Tomoyo. You can record them all you want later."
She sighed in response and turned off the camera in her hands. "Alright...But did you see how happy they were, Eriol? They're both glowing!"
He nodded as they walked, a proud, slight smile on his face. "They sure are." He was glad that things had worked out. He and Syaoran were friends, he and Tomoyo were in love, Syaoran and Sakura had found each other and it felt as if Syaoran no longer had those internal problems inside himself anymore.
Everything seemed perfect.
Tomoyo looked up at her boyfriend's joyful expression and smiled. "You were right all along, Eriol. They are perfect. It's fate, I tell ya!"
Eriol grinned wider and nodded. Yes. Fate. This whole thing was fate. Him and Tomoyo...Syaoran and Sakura.
This was how it was supposed to be.
And it felt great.
Sakura and Syaoran stood, embracing each other as Eriol and Tomoyo walked away. Sakura looked around her surroundings and laughed. "What's with us and parks?"
He chuckled, looking into her delighted emerald eyes. "That's true." Every time something important had happened between them, it had always been in a park. "But anywhere's fine with me really," he said huskily, closing in on her lips.
She immediately felt that familiar spark of joy as their lips touched for a brief minute. Pulling away, she looked at him, smiling vibrantly. "So what shall we do on our first day back, hm?"
Syaoran blushed a deep crimson. "S-Sakura...you make it sound like we're a married couple."
She smiled slyly, loving how he never seemed to get over the habit of blushing, and whispered in his ear. "Well, that's the next step..."
"Sakura! We're only in high school!" But man...getting married with this girl...he could only imagine how happy he would feel. And the name still replayed in his mind: Li Sakura, Li Sakura, Li Sakura. Furthermore, with her as his wife he could do many, many things –
Sakura giggled loudly, a red tint showing up on her face. "Syaoran! You have a dirty mind."
He chuckled deeply. So she had felt what he was feeling again, eh? Well...he didn't mind. Sometimes it seemed like they didn't need the whole bond thing anymore. They already understood each other completely just by looking into each other's eyes. "So how does it feel to be back home?"
She looked up at him cheerily, her face radiating. "I should be asking you the same question."
Home. In Tomoeda, Japan. With Sakura. With Eriol and Tomoyo. With all their other friends...
He kissed her feverishly while he responded.