AN: Whee, one-shot!!! Yay rah. This is just for a cuteness factor. I don't own CCS or any of the characters below. They belong to CLAMP, the manga goddesses.
This will be the first time I've ever dedicated a fic before! Well, Saiyachick wrote me a fic as a birthday present. It's a CCS story, entitled "Tattooed Dreams." READ IT!!! Anyway, I like to say thank-you when people do nice things for me, so I hereby dedicate this fic to Saiyachick. Enjoy ^-^
Man to Man
An explosion of noise and the popping of champagne bottles echoed from inside the nice yellow house on the pleasant middle class street. The cheering sounds echoed out into the darkening evening.
And there was every cause for the celebration taking place at the Kinomoto residence. It had started out simply as a celebration, hosted by Fujitaka in honor of his daughter's twenty-first birthday, had erupted into something no one had expected.
It had been a shock to everyone, including Sakura. She had been opening the gifts given to her by the plethora of family and friends attending the party. As the last gift wrapping had been torn away and dropped to the floor and the last box lid had been lifted, a momentary hush had fallen, as the guests had realized that one person at the party had not bestowed a gift upon the new adult. Namely, her long-time boyfriend, Li Syaoran.
After nearly ten years together—ever since they were children—it was impossible that he could have forgotten her birthday. And he proved them quite right, when he stood up and walked over to the birthday girl. He had produced a small, white box from his pocket and dropped to one knee.
"Will you make me the luckiest man in the world?"
Needless to say, Sakura said yes. And the birthday party had erupted into a full-blown celebration not only of a birthday, but of a new engagement. Everyone was overjoyed.
Everyone, except for one person.
One person, who was standing alone, outside on the porch. He leaned heavily on the porch railing, looking up at the star-dotted sky overhead.
Kinomoto Touya had left the party mere minutes after the proposal. He hadn't even offered up a congratulations to his imouto. He had simply brushed off Yukito and headed for the porch, where he now stood, trying to block out the sounds of celebration that seemed determined to follow him.
No one seemed to notice that the older brother was no longer at the party. He knew that he was missed—Yukito, his otou-san, and probably a few others—but that wasn't a problem. He just needed to get out of there for a minute and clear his head.
This wasn't happening. His sister wasn't engaged, and even if she was engaged, it wasn't to the Chinese brat. Truthfully, Touya didn't know which was worse—her engagement, or the fact that the gaki had anything to do with it.
But at least he was alone, to sort out what exactly he was feeling and thinking. No one to interrupt his thoughts out here, since everyone was in at the party.
He stiffened ever so slightly, but he was sure that she saw it. She could be too damn perceptible when she decided to be, especially around him. Slowly, he half-turned.
Sakura was standing there, just outside the door, watching him intently. Her head was cocked to one side, and she seemed to be regarding him with a great deal of concern. "What's wrong, onii-chan?"
He hesitated, then sighed. "I don't like it."
"The engagement, you mean?"
"That's what I figured was wrong," she sighed as well. "I was looking for you, but I couldn't find you in there. Yukito-san told me you'd gone out here, and he said you were upset." She took a step towards him. "Onii-chan, why are you against it?"
Touya frowned. "I don't like that gaki," he half-growled, turning back to the sky.
She rolled her eyes skyward. "Onii-chan, after all this time, why don't you like him? Why can't you accept that he's not as bad as you want to think he is?" She walked over to the railing and leaned against it, looking pointedly at her brother. "I love him, and he loves me, and we're getting married."
"He doesn't deserve you."
"Talk to him. Try to find a truce or something."
"I don't like him. Nothing's going to change that."
"Onii-chan, please," she pleaded, clasping one of his hands in one of hers. He paused for a moment to marvel at that. It seemed like it hadn't been that long ago when it had taken both of her hands to hold one of his like that. Now their hands fit perfectly together; one of hers was the perfect size to fit into one of his. Yet another sign that his imouto was growing up. Even worse, she was using her left hand—the diamond ring was more than visible, sparkling in the faint light. "Please. Just talk to him. I want your blessing for this, Touya. Please."
He inwardly winced. Since starting high school, she had started alternating between calling him 'onii-chan,' as she had always done, and 'Touya,' his given name. While he knew that it was simply another sign that his beloved little sister wasn't quite so little anymore, it still almost stung a little whenever she called him 'Touya.'
He had always been a sap when it came to his sister. Though he had always teased her almost mercilessly, if she was upset or sad, he would jump through whatever hoops necessary to make sure that she would be cheerful again. He didn't tolerate anyone hurting her. Even his old nickname for her, 'kaijuu,' was more a term of endearment than anything else, just another way of subtly showing that he cared.
And now, here she was, holding his hand and looking up at him pleadingly with those enormous emerald eyes of her. He almost grinned. She had grown, but in comparison to him, she was still so tiny! The top of her head just barely matched his shoulder, and she had somehow retained that childlike innocence and awe of everything. Sometimes, he could close his eyes, and it wasn't difficult to see her as a twelve year old again, rather than the twenty one year old she had blossomed into.
"Please, onii-chan," she said, a bare hint above a whisper. "Please. Just talk to him."
Touya looked down at her; finally, he sighed, and his expression softened. "All right. But only because you asked me to. Besides," he grinned in spite of himself, "I should probably make sure that the gaki knows what he'll be getting into, marrying a kaijuu."
Sakura gave him a mock shove. "I'm not a monster," she said automatically. Then she grinned. "You'll really talk to him, onii-chan?"
To his surprise, she threw her arms around him and gave him a tight hug. "Arigatou, onii-chan. You don't know how much that means to me," she said softly. "I really want your blessing when I get married." She looked up at him, and he once again had a flashback to when she was ten years old. "You know I love him, Touya. And I love you. It would make me so happy if you two could get along."
She released him and skipped towards the door. Even at twenty-one, she retained that childlike energy and mannerisms that would have been immaturity in anyone else, but in Sakura, it was almost irresistibly charming. She paused by the door. "I'll send him out, okay? Please make an effort. For me."
He nodded, and she disappeared into the house on a mission to find her new fiancé.
Touya turned away from the house, leaned on the railing again, and stared off into the night. It was a lovely evening, pleasantly cool, with stars twinkling in a blue-black sky overhead. The moon was nearly full, and it shone a vivid silver, casting its glow on the sleepy world below. He studied the sky carefully, reminiscing. When Sakura was young, she had always been fascinated by the heavens—the sun, the moon, and the stars. He now knew that the stars were the source of her magical power, and the moon and sun represented her two Guardians.
But he remembered telling her a story once, about how the sky was a city. The stars were all people who lived in the city, and the moon was their leader. They all followed the moon. But every once in a while, the moon-leader needed a break, and went on vacation—hence, the new moon. She had delighted in the story, and he couldn't count the number of times he had told her of the sky-city and its inhabitants.
And she had loved to look for constellations. The only one she had ever been able to find on her own was Orion, but she had always tried all the same. When she had asked how the constellations fit in with the story of the city in the sky, he had simply told her that they were dancing, and the figures in the stars were their formations.
A slight sound behind him brought him back from the heavens and the past. He didn't turn around right away, though; he didn't have to turn around to see who was standing behind him.
For a moment, there was silence between them—thick, heavy, awkward silence. Then Touya took a deep breath and spoke flatly. "Li."
"Kinomoto," Syaoran replied in an equally monotone voice. Truthfully, though, he was trying very hard to hide his anxiety. He didn't know what was going to come of this little conference.
"You're marrying my sister," Touya said with a hint of accusation coloring his voice.
"Hai," Syaoran answered truthfully. "I asked her to marry me, and she said yes. You were there."
Another moment of silence descended.
"The first time I ever laid eyes on you," Touya said softly; there was no inflection in his voice to reflect emotion or judgment, "you had Sakura pinned against a chain-link fence in an effort to steal her Cards, if I remember right. I was ready to pound you into the ground."
Syaoran wisely remained silent, sensing that Kinomoto was almost talking to himself, thinking out loud. It was as if the older man had forgotten that there was anyone there.
"I hated you for hurting my sister," Touya went on, truthfully only vaguely aware that there was anyone within hearing distance. "And then imagine how mad it made me when you started hanging around her. And then when you two started being friends—I was furious. Then you have the nerve to fall in love with her. Can you imagine how that makes me feel?"
"I think I can guess," Syaoran said softly.
"I don't think you can," Touya half-turned, though he didn't look right at Li just yet. "Because you know what? It wasn't all anger." He shook his head. "You stole something away from me. Something that I've spent a long time protecting and treasuring. You snapped it right out from under my nose. How am I supposed to react to that?"
Touya turned suddenly, and his coffee colored eyes locked with Syaoran's amber ones; the younger man met his gaze squarely, unflinching. The older man took a moment to marvel at the fact that Sakura wasn't really the only one that had grown. Li Syaoran wasn't ten years old anymore either. He still had the dark, unruly hair and the wide eyes. But he looked older, and he was taller—almost as tall as Touya himself. Yet one more reflection of how much time really had gone by.
"I love my sister more than anything," Touya murmured; his face and voice were unreadable. "I swore to my mother on her deathbed that I would protect Sakura, no matter what. And for a long time, it was all great. Then you came along." He paused and sighed, then his gaze hardened. "Tell me something. Why about you? Why do you have to love my sister?"
Syaoran looked a little surprised at the question. "I really didn't know what was happening at first. I mean, I denied it for as long as I could, and then one day, boom, I liked her. Spent the next couple of months trying to tell her, always got interrupted," Li chuckled a little at the memories—interrupted by everything from Kero to Touya to one of Eriol's little pranks. "I know why I fell in love with her, though. I fell in love with her spirit. I fell in love with her smile. I fell in love with the way she never gives up, no matter how hopeless it looks. And she won me over early on because she never seemed to give up on me. She always said she knew I was a nice person, but that I just didn't want anyone to see it. And that wore me down—even though I wouldn't tell her that right away."
One chocolate-brown eyebrow quirked; Touya looked almost amused.
"What I'm saying is, I love Sakura because she's Sakura," Li finished after grappling with his words for a moment. "I love everything about her. I—I can't say it any more simply than that." He fell silent and watched the older man carefully, as though waiting for a reaction.
For a long moment, there was silence.
"I don't doubt that you love her. I really don't. But if anything happens to her," Touya said, menace rising in his voice. He took a step forward, his hands unconsciously clenching into fists at his sides. "If you hurt her. If you manage to make her unhappy…you do not want to know what I will do to you. You can run, but you can't hide from me, Li Syaoran. There will be nowhere in this world that is safe for you. Do we have an understanding?"
Syaoran nodded. "You'll never have to make good on that promise, Kinomoto-san. You probably don't believe me, but that's the truth." He hesitated, then added, gently, "I hate to see her cry."
There was a pause, and then, to Li's surprise, Touya actually chuckled. "You do know what you're getting into, don't you?" He gave the younger man a look. "She's a kaijuu."
Syaoran hesitated for a moment, then tilted his head to one side. "A monster? Really? She didn't tell me that!" He frowned thoughtfully. "What do they eat?"
"Everything," Touya said firmly, falling into the dialogue. It was almost reminiscent of the famous lies Yamazaki always told. "If you're not careful, she'll eat the plate, the table—everything."
"Hmm…I might have to be careful, then," Li commented seriously, though his eyes were dancing. He knew the old joke, and was perfectly willing to play along.
"But she's my kaijuu. Has been for a very long time," Touya's smile softened into something akin to fondness as he talked of his sister. "You know, I'm not sure what bothered me more. The fact that you're marrying my sister, or the fact that she's getting married, period. She's my sister, and I'm not really sure how I feel about anyone marrying her. I mean, every time I look at her lately, I blink, and suddenly, I see her as a ten year old again. And all I want to do is protect her. But I can't protect her forever. And—I guess if she has to get married…I want her to marry someone who loves her, and someone who can take care of her. And you're the person she chose. That means you make her happy. So…" he paused. This was harder to say than he had thought it would be. "…if you take care of Sakura for me, then…we might be able to reach some kind of an understanding. You have my blessing." He held out a hand.
There. He'd said it.
Syaoran let out a breath that he didn't realize he'd been holding, and smiled with what looked like relief. "Arigatou, Kinomoto-san. That really means a lot to me…and I know it means a lot to Sakura too." Li grasped Touya's outstretched hand for a moment. Then they let go.
"You should probably go back inside to the party," Touya said. "It's your party now, too. But could you send Sakura back out here? I need to talk to her a second."
"Hai." The door closed as Syaoran went back inside, and Touya looked back towards the sky. Much as he hated to admit it, the gaki wasn't really that bad. He closed his eyes for a moment and thought about the conversation that had just transpired.
He whirled back around; his imouto was watching him. "Sakura."
"Syaoran seemed pretty happy when he came back inside," she looked at him knowingly, arms folded. "So what did you two talk about?"
"Oh, I warned him that if he wasn't careful, you'd eat everything," Touya said offhandedly, earning a glare from his sister.
"Touya, tell me the truth!" she demanded.
He sighed. This was so hard to do. "He loves you, Sakura. And you love him. I've never seen you as happy as you are when you two are together. I want you to be happy. And if marrying him makes you happy…" He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and said it. "I give you my blessing for it. And my congratulations." He watched her carefully.
There was a certain glow that surrounded Sakura when she was at her happiest. It was impossible to miss, because it would brighten any room she was in. Anyone around her when that glow hit would find it almost impossible to be in a bad mood. Syaoran had been the exception for a long time, but even he had been worn down, losing first his stoic demeanor , and later his heart, to Sakura's charms.
When Touya offered his blessing for her marriage, any glow she may have had before seemed like a candle compared to a searchlight. The glow was blinding, as bright as the dawn itself. She was sparkling, as though she had released the GLOW Card around her.
In two steps, she crossed the short distance between them and threw her arms around him so tightly that she nearly cut off his oxygen supply. "Onii-chan, arigatou! Arigatou! You don't know how much that means to me! Arigatou, onii-chan!"
He hugged her back, a little more gently, and sighed. They stayed like that for a long time before he finally let her go. "So…let me take a better look at the rock."
She giggled and held out her left hand. He took her hand and studied the ring carefully; a simple gold ring with diamonds arranged in the shape of a tiny flower. Simple and beautiful—a lot like Sakura, he thought with a twinge of sadness. "It's nice. That's really nice, kaijuu."
She rolled her eyes, but otherwise didn't comment on the nickname. Then her smile faded, and her expression became more thoughtful. "Touya? Are you really okay?"
"Hai," he murmured, smiling sadly. She was startled to see the beginnings of tears in his eyes. "But do me a favor when you marry that kid."
"Don't forget about your poor, abused, suffering older brother, okay?" he looked back out towards the night sky. "And if you have kids, may they put you through everything you put me through."
"What did I put you through?" she growled, then hugged him again.
"Doesn't matter. As long as you're happy."
She smiled into his shoulder. "Arigatou, onii-chan."
AN: *pant* *pant* Whew, that didn't come out exactly how I thought it would, but overall, I'm pretty happy with it. Yay! Another finished fic! I hope you enjoyed it. October 30th is my 18th birthday, so make it a happy birthday for me—review, please!!!