AN: singing I wish you a Merry Christmas, I wish you a Merry Christmas…a little belated, but hey, who says you can't have Christmas year round? Heehee, I love this season!
And lookie, lookie, I posted! I had some free time over break, so I decided to try and get some nice updates ready for everybody! This one didn't quite get done, but hey, it's up now! Enjoy. I don't own Cardcaptor Sakura, and I don't own the title song of this fic. Well, la dee FREAKIN' dah! Isn't that SPECIAL!
Chapter Three—Kita"Where have you two been? I was worried sick—ohmigod!"
Eriol bit back a small chuckle at the reaction.
But it was pretty funny for Tomoyo—calm, collected, controlled Daidouji Tomoyo—to react like that to much of anything. It wasn't often he could surprise her like that.
But she did have every reason to be surprise. Her outburst had come the moment her eyes had fallen on the small figure lying unconscious in Touya's arms.
Tomoyo reached out and brushed away the girl's bangs with a shaking hand. "Oh my god…she looks exactly like…oh my god…"
Touya shook his head. "I know."
She looked up at him with a fierceness almost bordering on anger. "What the hell happened?"
"We found her," Eriol said; he sounded tired. "She ran into Touya, begging for help. The Slayers were after her. Long story short, we had to grab her and use magic to teleport out of the city. When we got out of town and let her go, she freaked. Wouldn't listen to anything we tried to tell her. So I used magic again, to put her out for a while so we could bring her back here."
"Eriol—" Tomoyo started in a warning tone.
He quickly spoke again to defer the situation; even after all this time and all they had been through, Tomoyo still had a power no one else had: she could scold him as much as she wanted. "She'll wake up soon, I promise! Nothing permanent. It's like she's just taking a nap."
He visibly quailed under her penetrating gaze, but breathed an immense sigh of relief when she nodded. "All right. Then let's put her in a bed, and then we can talk."
Touya brushed past them, and up the stairs. Their hiding place outside the city of Tomoeda was quite a piece of work: it was truthfully a fairly large house, but illusions had been cast so that anyone who didn't know better would simply see a run-down old hut, unworthy of even a second glance. But behind the walls of that old lean-to was a fairly comfortable home.
Everyone there knew exactly how much they really owed to Eriol. Basically, it was because of his magic that they were able to live as they did. Actually, it was pretty much due to Eriol's powers that they were still alive, period. And it had taken a lot out of him at first to put the illusions in place. He had slept for nearly an entire day after performing those spells, and he had eaten like a starving man once he had awakened, but fortunately for everyone (especially Eriol), those kinds of illusions were the sort of spell that, once in effect, took only a minute amount of magic to maintain. Once they were set, Eriol didn't really even have to think about them; they practically stayed up on their own.
Kinomoto breezed down a hall and into a room that he knew to be vacant. They had…lost a person two weeks earlier, and this room was now empty. Much as he shuddered at what could be considered an ill omen, he laid the girl out on the bed. He suddenly felt a strange pang at what had once been a familiar action. Especially during his sister's days as the Cardcaptor…she had always been so worn out then, trying to first catch and then change the Cards while still keeping up normal appearences…
He brushed away the brief feeling of reminiscence. Pushing memories like that aside was something he had become quite adept at doing in the past decade. Brushing them away for him was as easy as brushing dirt from one's clothes.
After making sure that she comfortable, he straightened. Hmmm… he paused for a moment, then carefully removed the scarlet cape still wrapped around her, stashing it in the closet. She would probably have a use for it again. Hopefully soon.
With one last glance at the girl, he stepped back out of the room, and pulled the door closed behind him. It shut with a click, seperating him from the small, unconscious form slumbering on the bed.
He stayed by the door for a moment, though he didn't quite know why. But he heard nothing, and had to conclude that he probably looked like an idiot standing there like that. And he dropped his hand from the doorknob and headed back towards the stairs. His friends and fellow rebels were most likely waiting for him. Tomoyo for sure would want the full story, and eventually, the rest of the team would want to know exactly how he and Eriol had happened upon a child who looked so much like one they had lost so many years ago…
But one thing still bothered him. He only realized this as he was descending the stairs. But it was an important something, and the more he thought about it, the more it troubled him.
He still didn't know this girl's name.
It didn't take terribly long to explain to Tomoyo exactly what had happened. And when they had finished, she was silent for a long, long time. She folded her arms, and let her eyes fall closed in thought.
Eriol and Touya both knew better than to try and disturb her. So they simply waited, and after a moment, her violet eyes opened, and she turned a measuring look on the two men in front of her. "So you basically kidnapped her, and you wondered why she wouldn't calm down to listen to you? You probably scared her half to death!" She rolled her eyes and harrumphed in exasperation.
The two young men actually looked meek. But that was Tomoyo for you—two of the most infamous and feared men alive in the world of the Slayers were squarely under her thumb.
"Gomen ne…" Touya murmured.
"Gomen nasai…" Eriol said sincerely.
The three aspects of the entire Resistance team were represented by the three sitting there. Eriol was the sorceror, Touya was the physical force, and Tomoyo was a good deal of the common sense, as well as a front. Daidouji Toys was still around. Certain aspects of life hadn't changed. Children still had the opportunity to play on rare and valuable occasions.
Daidouji Sonomi was still alive, though she had long since turned over control of her famous corporation to Tomoyo. Mother, daughter, and the family name were too well respected and too well known to be removed easily. This afforded them a certain amount of protection against the Slayers, and put Tomoyo in a unique and valuable position. As a fairly high ranked member of the strict society imposed by the Slayers, she had the opportunity to, on occasion, pick up tidbits of information here and there that she would then pass on to Eriol, Touya, and the other members of the Resistance.
Many a victory had been one for the Resistance because of the bits of knowledge Tomoyo had gathered for them. And being the master manipulator she was, no one had a clue. They knew that someone had to be passing intelligence onto the rebels, but it didn't appear that anyone had a clue as to who it might be, and no one seemed to harbor any suspicions about her activities with the Resistance.
"When will she wake up?" Tomoyo said suddenly.
Eriol replied, "Soon, if she hasn't woken up already."
Tomoyo stood. "If you don't mind, I think I should be the one to handle this. I'm fairly sure that she won't have a very strong desire to see either of you two right now. I'll try to explain things to her. Hopefully she won't hate you."
Though the words were somewhat jocular, there was an undertone to Tomoyo's voice that reflected that, to a certain extent, she was quite, quite serious. She turned and headed towards the stairs, leaving those uncertain words hanging in the air between them.
She was swimming. At least, that's what it felt like.
She tumbled and spun through a multi-colored void, filled with every shade of every color the mind could create. But she was not afraid. She had seen dreams like this many times before. She could only wonder what this one would bring.
As always happened, her feet touched something hard, and she landed easily. Her eyes opened, and the scene around her came into focus. She was outside, and it was dark, apparently night.
Noises nearby caught her attention. She ran towards them; her heart hammered inside her. There were often repeated dreams, but she had never seen this particular nighttime vision before. She skidded around a corner and came to a stop.
The scene in front of her was strange, but she had seen some even more bewildering than this in her dreams before. It was a structure of some kind, like a square arch, and there was a figure standing on top of it. She couldn't make the person out very clearly; all she could see was that it was a dark person.
There were other people on the ground, and even a couple of figures hovering in the air. They seemed to be arguing about something. Their words, loud and emotional, reached her ears, but her mind was incapable of deciphering the meaning behind the syllables. All she heard was a cacophonous jumble of sounds. But she could feel the heavy emotions weighing the air, and she could see the frantic movements and brights lights as some kind of a battle was waged.
The noise was almost unbearable; it joined with the bright colors and darkness and the movements, mixing and mingling until it was impossible to tell where one sense left off and another began. It was so terribly confusing…
And as always, she couldn't clearly see the people. She could see their clothing, but their faces were forever obscured, no matter how close she was. But she took in as manny details as she could, filing them away along with the dozens and dozens of other dreams she had seen in her life.
The dark figure on the arch-like structure was wearing dark clothes that billowed around him—for she could always tell gender, and she had an uncanny knack for reading things about these people. This one seemed extremely confident.
There were two people sitting on the ground, leaning against a tree. Sleeping. One, a male, was taller, and seemed to be far older than the other, a female. Another boy was on one knee, leaning his weight on what looked like a sword.
Two figures were floating in the air. Like night and day, one was in black and the other was in white. By their sides were what looked like two large cats—one black, one gold.
And there was one other person—a girl. She seemed panicked, frightened, and a whole bunch of other emotions that had no real name. But there was an underlying emotion, a rock-hard determination that would take more than her opponent could throw at her to shake.
But before anything else could happen, the vision faded, and she was left alone in the night. It always happened this way as well. These dreams always cut off right before what was most likely to be the most important moment of the scene.
She carefully logged away each and every detail into what she thought of as her mental dream file of sorts, a special part of her mind that remembered everything about these dreams. Someday, perhaps, she would have someone to share her dreams with. Someone who would understand them.
And as always, she fell, fell, fell…
With a start, she woke up and sat straight up.
She looked around in confusion. This wasn't her room. She wasn't in her house.
She began to shake. She had never seen this place before. Where was she? Had the Slayers actually taken her? Had those two men, her rescuers—and kidnappers, she remembered—been a dream? And if they were merely a figment of her imagination, then the kidnapping must have been a dream as well.
Unless that had been real, and they had been the ones who had brought her here.
But it certainly didn't look like a room where kidnappers would keep a prisoner. It wasn't by any means a hugely opulent room, but it was nicer than the room she lived in at home. The bed was incredibly comfortable. There was a table, a comfortable-looking chair, and two doors, one of which she guessed led to a closet. And the whole room was done up in shades of pink and red—her favorite colors.
Carefully, she eased out of bed; the plush rug on the floor was very soft. Gingerly, she crept around, not yet daring to touch anything. Who knew what might happen if she accidentally broke something or some such other offense? She didn't know where she was, for what purpose she was here, or who had brought her here—though she strongly suspected that it was those two men from the city, whoever they were. But they had called her by a different name—Sakura. The Forbidden Name.
Glancing around, she noticed something laid out on the chair; it was a dress, a simple, blue, knee-length thing with long sleeves. She carefully picked it up and examined it before looking down at herself; she was a mess. Maybe changing was a good idea; she would feel a little more confident about her situation if she didn't look like one of those tramps she had seen lurking in alleyways, filthy and unkempt. And it seemed to be about the right size for her, as though it had been set there just for her.
Making a quick decision, she decided to take a risk, and changed, carefully folding her dirty clothing and, after waivering for a moment, set the folded laundry on the floor by the wall, where there was no rug to get dirty. Then she gave herself another once over, glancing in a mirror that hung on one wall for confirmation. Just as she had guessed, the blue dress fit perfectly. She ran her fingers through her layered hair, trying desperately to comb it into something that hopefully looked presentable. She doubted she was succeeding, but the effort, combined with the new outfit, made her feel a tiny bit more confident about her strange surroundings.
After all, whoever had brought her here probably wouldn't have gone to so much trouble over her if she was a prisoner. And if the Slayers had caught her, she probably wouldn't have woken up at all.
Moving around a bit more, curiousity got the best of her, and she opened one of the doors. As she had guessed, it was a small closet. Her red cloak was even hanging in there, as if waiting for her to take it to be worn again. Someone had gone to some trouble to make sure she was comfortable, she realized, as she pushed the door closed again.
The sudden voice made the little girl jump a mile and spin around, pressing her back flat against the now-closed closet door. She looked at the speaker with wide, frightened eyes.
But as soon as she laid eyes on the speaker, her instincts stopped screaming at her, and she actually felt herself relax a little. Not much, but more than she usually relaxed when in the presence of a total stranger. She didn't know why, though, and it unnerved her a little.
The person who had entered the room without her noticing was a woman. The first impression the girl got was that this was a beautiful person. Tall and slender, with flawless skin, wide violet-blue eyes that seemed tired, but still sparkled, and long, blue-black tresses that tumbled down her back in a veritable waterfall of gentle curls. She was standing just inside the other door, the door out of the room.
"Daijoubu," the woman smiled, as though reading the girl's mind. "I'm a friend. You might not believe me, but I'm telling the truth. No one here is going to harm you. You're safe here."
The girl stared blankly. Safe? No. Safe was a word almost without meaning under the rule of the Slayers. There was no such thing as safe. It was an obsolete term that people occasionally used to try and comfort themselves in their dire situation. Still, every ounce of her being was telling her to trust this unknown woman, who claimed to be her friend, while everything she had ever learned or experienced was sounding off red alerts at the very idea of trusting a stranger.
Trust or tradition? It was an internal battle that reflected itself on the girl's face, and Tomoyo didn't miss a beat of it. Best to move on, then.
"Would you tell me your name?" the dark haired woman asked.
The girl hesitated a moment. She had never met this person before, never even laid eyes on her. Yet for some reason, she felt a strong connection to her, like a bond between them that had been forged the instant they set eyes on each other. And because of that connection, she felt compelled to answer.
"Kita," she said finally. "Hikari Kita." Then she looked up. "And who are you?"
She chuckled as the girl's eyes widened. "Daidouji Tomoyo?" The girl, Kita, vaulted away from the closet door and halfway across the room. "The Daidouji Tomoyo?"
"Unless there's someone else out there with my name," Tomoyo replied easily.
"G-gomen nasai, Daidouji-san," Kita said hurried; she looked flat-out terrified.
Tomoyo's skill at reading people hadn't diminished at all over the years, and she immediately took pity on her. "Daijoubu, daijoubi," she said, trying her best to sound soothing. "We're all friends here, so onegai, call me Tomoyo." Kita looked extremely doubtful, and Tomoyo smiled. "Please. No one here is going to hurt you. You don't have to be afraid."
"H-hai," Kita finally murmured after a long pause, though she was still watching Tomoyo warily.
"May I call you Kita?" Tomoyo was at her most cheerful.
The girl nodded. "If you want…Tomoyo-san."
"Kita-chan," Tomoyo desperately hoped the use of the first name would perhaps drive home the fact that no one here was going to hurt her, "Eriol-kun and the others would like to meet you. We should go down and see them now. All right?"
She was silent.
"Come on, it's all right," Tomoyo continued to tell her that. Eventually, she would start to believe it. "They're very nice people, and they were worried about you. So let's go tell them you're okay."
"Ano…" Kita mumbled something she couldn't quite catch.
"Will…will you be there?" Kita asked in a voice just above a whisper.
Tomoyo almost laughed. "Of course! Where would I go?"
Feeling a tiny bit more confident, Kita nodded. She reached out and carefully put her hand in Tomoyo's proffered one. She didn't know why she felt so strongly compelled to trust this person, this stranger, but she did. It was as if they had known each other for a very long time; there was just that kind of instant connection.
"You can smile, you know," Tomoyo said as they moved out of the room and into a hallway. "A smile is a girl's best feature, after all. Would you smile? Onegai?"
Something about the simple way she asked made that compulsion rise again, and Kita found her face beginning to pull back into her happiest smile, something she didn't have much occasion to display.
Tomoyo nodded approvingly. "I was right, as usual." Kita actually giggled at that comment. "A smile does suit you the best. You should wear one more often."
But the minute they got to the stairs, Kita's smile had disappeared, to be replaced by a more familiar expression of mild apprehension. She was already certain that Dai—Tomoyo-san was safe, but who were these other people? Eriol-kun? Others?
They reached the bottom of the stairs, Tomoyo leading the way. She strolled into what looked like a study or a den of some kind. Perhaps a library. There seemed to be an awful lot of books there. And there was a desk, and a fireplace. It all looked older, and perhaps a little worn, but strangely cozy. And Kita decided that she could come to like this room a lot if given enough time.
Kita jumped a mile and let out a yelp; she instinctively grabbed Tomoyo's arm in both hands and positioned herself behind the older woman, like a human shield for protection.
A rich chuckle met her ears. "My goodness, you're jumpy."
She followed the sound, and her eyes finally came to rest on the speaker. "You!" she yelped without even thinking, jabbing a finger in the speaker's direction.
Hiiragiziwa Eriol was seated comfortably in his fabled 'Throne of Evil.' His fingers were steepled in front of his face, and his eyes were dancing behind his spectacles. "You do remember me."
Kita unconsciously inched a little closer to Tomoyo, figuring the older woman to be protection.
"Daijoubu," Tomoyo smiled down at her. "Eriol-kun just likes to scare people. But you don't have to be afraid of him. He's actually quite harmless."
One blue eyebrow arched; Eriol looked half amused, half bemused at being described as 'harmless,' considering his record with the Slayers. But he held his tongue. No good would come from pointing that out and further scaring an already terrified child. And her eyes had widened a little as she seemed to realize exactly who 'Eriol-kun' was—Hiiragizawa Eriol, one of the two most wanted men in the world! The Slayers had phenomenal prices on his head, dead or alive.
Instead, he simply said, "I would like to apologize for what happened earlier today."
Kita half-glared at him, still standing half behind Tomoyo. "You kidnapped me."
"That's what I'd like to apologize for," he actually felt compelled to smile at the way she was watching him, like two wild animals staring at each other. Predator and prey, although in this situation, it was impossible to discern which was which. "Touya and I panicked, and we didn't think."
Tomoyo rolled her eyes. "You and Touya-san never think."
Something about the exapserated way she said that made Kita want to giggle again, but she didn't dare. Not in front of this strange man who had snatched her from her home city. Still…he was apologizing. And kidnappers usually didn't apologize to their victims. She was sure the Slayers didn't.
"My…okaa-san," there was a slight pause between the two words, one that neither Tomoyo nor Eriol missed, though neither made a comment, "told me that only the Slayers kidnap people."
Before she could ask, Eriol interrupted. "We're not Slayers, since I'm pretty sure that's what you're going to ask. We are as against the Slayers as is humanly possible."
Kita didn't know why she believed him, but she did. Especially when she remembered the way the brown-haired man had fought them in the alley. That hadn't been simply fighting—that had been the force of anger, of seething hatred, things that had probably been boiling for years.
"Is it all right if I just tell him your name?" Tomoyo asked. This little girl, who looked so much like her long-deceased friend, brought out all of her protective maternal instincts. She got a nod in response, and turned back to Eriol. "Hikari Kita."
"That's a nice name," Eriol nodded. He could already sense that this girl was starting to warm up, but by no means did she trust him. So best to keep things formal for now. "Do you live in Tomoeda?"
"Hai," she nodded.
"How old are you?"
The right age. But she certainly wasn't eager to make conversation.
"Can you tell us anything else about yourself?" Eriol prodded a little further, trying to see exactly how far he could go before she clammed up.
"Ano…" Kita unconsciously twisted the hem of her shirt in between her hands.
Tomoyo cut in suddenly. "You're still scared to death, aren't you?"
The little girl nodded; she looked miserable, and very nearly ready to burst into tears.
"You don't have to be scared," Eriol was suddenly kneeling in front of her, at her eye level. "No one here is going to hurt you. We want to help you. You can trust us."
Kita didn't know why, but she desperately wanted to believe the truth in those dark blue eyes. He was telling the truth, she knew that much. And she somehow knew instinctively that she was indeed safe within these walls, with these people. But instinct couldn't override years of experience. Trust was a gift to be given with Kita, and it was one she was very, very reluctant to bestow.
And she felt that connection, the same kind of thing she had felt with Tomoyo. She had really noticed it the first time she had met him, back in the alleyway when he and his friend had saved her from certain death at the hands of the Slayers. And the more she tried to analyze that strange feeling, the instinctive trust and liking she had for these strangers, the more it frightened her.
Suddenly, she realized they were waiting for her to say something.
She finally gave in to those instincts, and nodded once.
Eriol smiled, and she decided he had a very nice smile. "We welcome you."
Swallowing hard, Kita managed a very soft, "Arigatou."
"Welcome back," a new voice said.
Another woman entered. She had short, dark hair, curled neatly to frame her face, and fairly happy, if tired, brown eyes. "So what's all the fuss about? Touya-san seemed upset about something…" The woman's voice trailed off into nothing as she took a good look at the small figure standing between Tomoyo and Eriol. But…it couldn't be…
"Rika-san, this is Hikari Kita. She'll be staying with us for a while," Eriol said cheerfully, while sending her a look that read 'we'll all talk about this later.' Then he turned down to the girl. "This is Sasaki Rika, another friend of ours."
Rika nodded. "Nice to meet you."
"Rika-chan," Tomoyo took one of Kita's hands, "I think our young friend here is hungry." She glanced down. "Am I right, Kita-chan?"
A nod. Good.
"If you go with Rika-chan, I'm sure she can find you something," Tomoyo said gently, hoping and praying that the child would go willingly. She needed a moment to converse with Eriol privately. "I'll be there in a minute. I need to talk to Eriol-kun for a little while."
Kita looked up at Rika, the apprehension returning to her face. But Rika was one of those people who it was almost impossible to be frightened off, and Kita was no exception. She nodded again, and gingerly grasped the hand that Rika offered her. "Okay…"
She followed Rika to the door, but paused in the doorway and looked back over her shoulder. Rika stopped and looked back as well. "What do I call you?" The question was directed at the sorceror.
"Eriol is fine," he replied, looking a little surprised by the question.
She pondered that for a moment, then nodded. "Call me Kita."
And then she was gone, following Rika to a different room in search of food.
"What do you think?" Eriol said quietly a few seconds after the girl had left.
"She's scared, but I think she trusts me," Tomoyo replied, slowly moving her eyes away from the door through which Kita had exited. "I don't know why, but it didn't take much prodding before she started to open up to me." She chuckled. "But I think you and Touya-san dragging her out of the city like you did might make her a little less than inclined to trust either of you very easily."
He chuckled dryly. "I think we both just panicked. But I think she knows she can trust all of us. She just doesn't quite want to let herself yet. It goes against most things she's probably experienced. So for the time being, it'll have to be you, Tomoyo-san. You'll have to be the one to really reach her. Tap back into those famous people skills of yours."
"I could con, prod, and manipulate Li-kun into actually admitting his feelings to Sakura-chan," Tomoyo boasted a little. "I'm pretty sure I can bring her out of her shell." She paused. "She smiled for me before we came down here. I just asked her to, and she did."
"Interesting…" Eriol murmured.
Tomoyo dropped into the large red chair Eriol so favored, and put one hand to her forehead. "Kita smiles like her, I swear! It's the most unnerving thing I've ever seen. This is coming from someone who lost her voice to a Clow Card, mind you. I saw most of the Card captures, I saw most of the Card changes, I've seen the work of the Slayers, and I've seen you first thing in the morning. I've seen a lot. And this takes the cake, the pie, and whatever other pastries you may have prepared."
"Hmmm…" Eriol murmured, obviously mulling over something. Finally, he spoke again. "It'll have to be you, then, Tomoyo-san. If she trusts you, work with it. We need to find out if she is…"
"I'll talk you and Touya-san up a little bit," she teased. "I think eventually she'll realize you're not really that bad. But it will take time. Until then, you might want to avoid pulling a stunt like you just did. Honestly, are you trying to scare the poor girl to death?"
"Gomen ne, Tomoyo-san," he sighed. Then he rose from his chair and strolled to his desk. "I leave her in your most capable hands."
They hadn't been friends for as long as they had without learning how to read each other. Tomoyo saw the statement for what it was, and absented herself, most likely heading for the kitchen to join Rika-chan and Kita-chan. Eriol was left alone.
His expression remained thoughtful for a moment, and then he smiled. He moved behind the desk and slid open a drawer; one hand disappeared inside and withdrew a large book with a decorative pink cover, and a latch keeping it closed. "It has begun."
With one finger, he gently traced letters marked across a gold banner on the front of the book.
Tomoyo pushed open the door to the kitchen and strolled in. Rika and Kita were sitting at the table; the girl was busily making short work of what looked like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but she looked up when Tomoyo entered, and smiled a little shyly.
"I'm back," the dark-haired woman sat down opposite Rika. "I know you missed me."
The shy smile broadened a tiny bit.
"That looks good," Tomoyo nodded. "Rika-chan taking good care of you?"
Kita nodded, happily chewing another mouthful.
"I told you I was always right," Tomoyo laughed. "But anyway, now that it's just us girls, we can really talk. Would you tell us about yourself, Kita-chan?" The prodding was as gentle as possible; overbearing questions were a bad idea with someone this shy. Rika nodded, looking equally interested in whatever this child might have to say.
The girl looked up from her sandwich and blushed a vibrant crimson, looking quite embarassed at so much attention. Just like…her… It was quite obvious, though, that Kita wasn't used to people paying this amount of attention to her, and she seemed flustered by it.
"Ano…" Kita began slowly. "We think my parents were killed by the Slayers when I was little because I don't remember them at all. I was found just walking around when I was about four. The family that took me in gave me a name and a home. They took care of me until this morning."
"What exactly happened this morning?"
"I was out running an errand for my…okaa-san," there was a slight pause before she dictated the woman who had taken her in as her mother, "and there were the Guards on the streets. I tried to stay away from them, but one of them looked at me and got this really funny look on his face. Then he got some of his friends and they started chasing me down. I don't know why. Maybe I did something wrong…" Her already small voice trailed off into nothingness.
There was a moment of silence, which Tomoyo took it upon herself to break. "You said that a family took you in. Would you tell us about your adopted family then?"
"The Hikari family," Kita murmured. "They had two kids of their own, two boys. They're older than me. I guess you could say they were my brothers. They called me their sister, anyway. And I had my…parents. I called them otou-san and okaa-san, but it was always hard to think of them as my real parents, because we all knew they weren't. But they were good to me. They took care of me. I mean, it's not like I hated them or anything. I really liked them. But they weren't my real family." She looked up at them. "Does that make any sense?"
"Quite a bit of sense, actually," Rika nodded. "So you don't know anything about your birth family? Not even a clue about them?"
Kita shook her head. "I don't know anything. I don't even know where I was born. I've just lived in Tomoeda my whole life. I can't remember anything before I was four and they took me in."
Tomoyo nodded sympathetically as Kita swallowed the last bite of her PB and J sandwich. "Dai—Tomoyo-san, could I go back to—that room where I was before, onegai? I just need…I need a little time."
"Of course," Tomoyo stood up and led the girl to the door. "You've probably got a lot of things to think about. A lot to happen in one afternoon."
Kita paused at the door and turned. She bobbed up and down in a polite bow. "Arigatou, Rika-san. Thank you for the sandwich."
"Of course," Rika smiled back as the two left. Then her smile faded and a look of pained confusion crept onto her face. What was going on here?
"So what did you and Rika-chan talk about?" Tomoyo said conversationally as they reached the top of the stairs.
Kita seemed to be in fairly good spirits at the moment, because she answered. "Stuff. Lots of stuff. She's really nice, like you!"
Tomoyo laughed. Then she noticed that Kita had stopped smiling. The girl was staring straight ahead through wide emerald eyes. She looked like she had gone at least two shades lighter. Both her hands clutched at the front of her dress, at her heart.
Tomoyo followed her stare to find the object of her sudden fixation.
At the other end of the hallway was Kinomoto Touya. He had changed out of the clothes he had been wearing during the scuffle in the alleyway, as they had ended up dirty and ripped from the fight. He now looked far more presentable, dressed in black—it was a color he wore a lot of. His expression was one of carefully contained shock. And his eyes were locked with the girl's.
For what felt like centuries, nobody moved. Touya at one end of the hall, Kita at the other. Their eyes looked nowhere but at each other. His gaze was stunned, but almost contemplative. Hers was far more apprehensive, almost a little suspicious. But there was something there that even Tomoyo could sense. A broken connection being rejoined, like the final stake being driven into a railroad. And slowly, the look on Kita's face changed from apprehensive to more thoughtful.
Finally, Kita spoke, breaking the burdensome silence. "Kinomoto-san?"
Something flickered across Touya's eyes, but it was gone so quickly that it was impossible to tell if it was even there. He nodded once, and looked as if he wanted to say something, but he seemed to think twice about it, and decided against it.
"I'm Hikari Kita," she continued softly, her gaze shifting downwards towards the floor. "You can call me Kita, if you want."
Touya seemed incapable of speaking. He nodded again.
Tomoyo stepped in, seeing that this wasn't going anywhere. "Touya-san, I think Eriol-kun wanted to talk to you downstairs. Said it was important."
He looked at her, and she gave him a conspiratorial wink so that he'd understand. He half-smiled, nodded, and brushed past, heading down the stairs.
"Does he talk much?" Kita asked as they stepped back into the room where the girl had awoken.
"Sometimes," Tomoyo confided. "It depends. You…" She paused. "You look a lot like someone very dear to all of us. A girl. She died right at the beginning of the war with the Slayers."
Kita perched on the edge of the bed and looked up at Tomoyo with those wide emerald eyes. "I do? Who was she?"
Tomoyo sat down beside her. "You look like Touya-san's sister. His younger sister. She was one of the first casualties of the war. He was always something of an overprotective brother, and it really hit him hard that she was gone. He loved her more than almost anything else. She died ten years ago, and sometimes it seems like he's still reeling from it." Another pause. "Sometimes I think we all are, actually."
To her surprise, a pair of small arms wrapped around in a tight hug. She looked down at the mane of auburn hair resting against her arm. "I'm sorry if I make you sad."
Tomoyo shook her head. "You don't. It was just kind of a surprise for everyone, that's all."
"Is that why he kidnapped me?" Kita said suddenly, turning her head so she could look up at Tomoyo. "Did he and Eriol-san take me because I look like that girl, his sister?"
Tomoyo had to fight to keep from showing her shock. How in the name of the seven mad gods had she already figured that out? It was unnerving. One minute, she was too frightened and too shy to even tell another human being her own name, and now she was drawing frighteningly accurate conclusions from the barest of information. So this girl was a whole lot quicker than she was really letting on.
After waivering for a split second, Tomoyo decided to be honest. "That might be it. But I'll tell you something—his sister's death at the hands of the Slayers is one of the main reasons Touya-san joined this fight against them. He'll never forgive them for what happened, and he's earned quite a reputation, which I'm sure you've heard of. He'll die fighting them, if he has to."
Kita nodded, but didn't say anything else.
Tomoyo took that as her cue to leave. "Well, you have a lot to think about for one day. I'll give you a little privacy." She paused at the door, though. "You are welcome to go almost anywhere you like here in the house. You'll know if it's somewhere you shouldn't go. But if you ever want to be alone, come back to this room and close the door. No one will disturb you unless it's important."
The girl smiled. "Hai. Arigatou." The door closed, and Tomoyo was gone.
Kita fell back, laying across the bed, staring at the ceiling. Her head was fairly well spinning from everything that had happened in the past few hours. She had gone from living with an adoptive family, using a name that wasn't truly hers, to being in a house with some of the fabled names of the Resistance—Hiiragizawa Eriol, Kinomoto Touya…and they were welcoming her cheerfully into their home, or hideout, or whatever it was. All because she bore a resemblance to Kinomoto-san's long-dead sister, a girl killed at the hands of the barbarians known as the Slayers.
Somehow, to Kita's ten-year-old mind, that didn't seem quite right.
Kita's forest-green eyes fell closed, dropping her into the darkness that lay behind her eyelids. She found comfort in that darkness at the moment, when so much seemed to be up in the air. Life was always in flux, and things were never the same two days in a row. When things got really weird, like they were now, she usually retreated into that darkness. It wasn't necessarily safe, but it was hers.
One thing dominated her thoughts beyond all others at the moment. Why did she trust these people? These were the people who had prices on theirs heads. They were wanted, violent, fighters, and if the rumors were true, some of them could use real magic. By all accounts, she should have been fleeing for her life, but she wasn't. She had been taught that trust was not something you just give to a stranger. Yet she felt connected to these people, even moreso when she had been told of the death of the mysterious girl that she so resembled.
"Kinomoto-san's sister…" she murmured to the empty room. "I wonder what her name was…"
AN: Whew, another chapter done. Weird place to end it, but that's okay. I'm enjoying writing this story, but I'm not used to typing this kind of long chapter. But anyway, yay rah, it's done and posted. Whoopee!
Just a quick translation. 'Hikari' means 'light,' and 'Kita' means 'north,' so Kita's name basically translates to 'northern light.' I think it's pretty. But I'm weird.
Also, something interesting: with two chapters posted, I had 13131 words, and 13 reviews. Bizarre…but anyway, thanks for reading/reviewing/whatever! I love you all! Laters!