Beyond the Distant Star

The full moon stood out vibrantly against the blank vastness above. Tiny specks of dim diamonds peaked from the dark blankets, winking down at the content world below them. All was peaceful and midnight was still young. A serene silence drifted leisurely through the sleeping town of Tomoeda, Japan, but I stood alone on the pavement path, standing between a grove of cherry blossom trees. How long has it been since I last stood here? At this very spot? Seven years…? It seems like just yesterday, though.

It was a night like this one, where the blue moon beamed behind the cherry blossoms, making them glow an exotic silver pink color. A single petal loosened from the branch and fell gradually towards my outstretched hand where it settled at the center of my palm. It felt so soft against my skin; so gentle… so fragile. It reminded me of someone I once knew, of someone I once loved and continue to love to this very day. Her bright emerald eyes shimmered as clear as dawn in my mind's eye. I could still remember her smile. I could still hear her laughter ringing faintly in the background. Even after all these years… I still remember her. But who could ever forget Sakura Kinomoto?

I was only fifteen at the time, still young. But when it comes to love, you realize that age doesn't make a difference, and that it only comes once in a lifetime.

Glancing up at the star littered sky, I spotted a star twinkling in the far distance. It looked so… out there, but at the same time, it looked the most noticeable out of all those billions of stars. Closing my eyes, I reminisced on the last days I spent with the only woman I had ever grown to love…

Who can say for certain… Maybe you're still here.

I feel you all around me; Your memories so clear.

I was only four-years old at the time when I had first met her. My mother, along with my sisters, moved to small town Tomoeda, Japan after my father had died from an untreatable disease. We were foreigners upon foreign lands. I, personally, didn't know anyone since I had no friends in Japan. The house we lived in was fairly simple: a homely looking brick house with enough bedrooms for us, and a few guests. Vines were entangled around the building, rosebuds spotted along them, more growing from trees and the garden in our front courtyard. I remember leaning against the fence, tip-toeing to get a better view over it. Autumn was amongst us, the trees' leaves a rusty, golden red. A chilly breeze brushed through the small town, making its way to the unknown. I had to admit, compared to the busy town of Hong Kong, Tomoeda was a nice change.

A few weeks after we had finally settled in, I was enrolled into Tomoeda's Preschool. I didn't want to go because that would mean being around total strangers, but I didn't wish to argue against Muqin. Even though the school started a while ago, it was still into the first month, so I wasn't that late.

Even though the first day of preschool happened years and years ago, I could never forget my first encounter with Sakura Kinomoto.

Deep in the stillness, I can hear you speak.

You're still an inspiration… Can it be?

I was sitting alone, gazing out the window of my classroom. The noise of the other students buzzed in my ears, but I had managed to block them out. When class started, the teacher introduced me to everyone and once free time arrived, I was a bit surprised when some students tried to make friends with me. But, being the stubborn child that I was, I turned them down and isolated myself from everyone. Through all the chattering going on around me, I heard a soft humming, barely audible against the talking. Glancing from the corner of my eye, I spotted one of my classmates sitting alone… like me.

She had short auburn hair, some of it held up in two small pigtails. A grin was on her chubby face, and the first thing anyone ever took notice of her, was the fact she was in a wheelchair. It was small, made fit for a four-year old like her. But the first thing I noticed… were her eyes. They were a magnificent shade of green… my favorite color. 'Her eyes look like emeralds…' was the first thought that had crossed my mind when I had first taken the time to truly observe her. She looked happy, even though she was alone.

That you are mine; Forever love.

And you are watching me from up above.

As if sensing my gaze on her, she lifted her head up and flashed me a bright grin that brought the blood rushing to my face. Instantly looking away, I concentrated on the view outside, refusing to meet her stare. Chancing another glance at her, I saw her wheel her way towards me, careful as not to hit any other kid as she did so. Turning away once again, I waited for a while, and then I heard her voice. It was soft, but cheery and friendly.

                "Hallo! Aren't you tha new boy?"

I cast her a cool glance, not bothering to reply. But my silence didn't seem to bother her. She continued speaking anyway. "Watashi no name Kinomoto, Sakura desu." She smiled even wider. "O-namae wo kiite-mo iidesu-ka?"

At first, I considered not telling her my name, but… this girl was different, so I couldn't say no. "Hai. Watashi no name Li, Syaoran desu." Looking down at her, I stared into those emerald eyes of hers, blinking as she smiled at me.

                "Nice to meet'cha, Li-kun! I hope we can be friends."

I could only nod in response.

Fly me up to where you are, beyond the distant star.

I wish upon tonight, to see you smile.

And friends is what we became. Even though we were two different people, I had learned that we both had some things in common. For one thing, we both had lost one of our parents, me – my father – and Sakura – her mother. Also, we were both known to drive people away for totally different reasons. No one bothered to get to know her because she was in a wheelchair, and when it comes to me, I push people away because of my stubbornness. But other then that, we were totally different. I guess it was the fact that we weren't the same that made us get along.

Another fond memory I have with her was when we were both eight-years old. It was a nice summer night and both of us were sitting at the foot of a cherry blossom tree. Sakura had abandoned her seat on the wheel chair to sit on the cool, dark green grass. I was secretly studying her glowing expression as she watched the many fireflies that fluttered about, giving the place a fantasy look to it. We were both eating our own ice cream, mine being chocolate, hers strawberry. I was so caught up in staring at her, that I didn't notice the stains of stray chocolate on my face.

If only for awhile to know you're there…

 A breath away's not far to where you are.

She turned her head to me, blinking before falling into a fit of giggles. I creased my brows in confusion, flushing in embarrassment, but at the same time, not really knowing why she was laughing. But I was obvious to the fact that it had something to do with me.

                "Oi! You know… it's not nice to laugh at people…" I pointed out, pouting.

Sakura stared at me with those merry emerald eyes of hers, the glows of the fireflies making them shimmer more brilliantly… if that's even possible. "Gomen nasai, Syao-kun. It's just that…" She giggled again, her eyes dancing with mirth. "You have chocolate on your face."

I felt the temperature in my face rise heatedly. Oh how I hated how she always made me blush so… She handed me a napkin, and I gladly accepted it, grumpily rubbing away at the ice cream stained on my face. Sakura laughed again at the expression on my face, and I playfully pouted, but at the same time… I couldn't help but smile. Her laughter was contagious… Heck, everything about her was contagious. She'd make you want to do things you're not really use to doing. And at that moment, I shared my first laugh with Sakura.

                "You know, Syao-kun… You look really handsome when you smile!" I heard Sakura comment after our laughter died down.

I avoided looking at her, fighting to control the blush visible on my face. We fell into silence as we finished our ice cream, eating the cones. When we were done, we just sat there in peaceful silence, gazing up at the millions of stars twinkling down at us.

                "Hey, Syao-kun?" Sakura suddenly spoke up, shattering the silence.

I was leaning back against the trunk of the tree, my arms propped up behind my head. I didn't bother to face her. "Hm?"

                "Do you think there's another world farther than the stars? Like… even farther than the whole universe?" Sakura asked in her childish tone, sounding somewhat excited at the prospects of there being another world other than Earth.

I faced her with a slight grin tugging at my lips. My head moved up and down, nodding in agreement. "Hai. I think so."

A wide smile made its way on her features, alighting her face with a determined glow. "Well, one day… I'm going to go there, Syao-kun. Just you wait. I'm going to visit that world…"

And I never doubted her word.

Are you gently sleeping, here inside my dream?

And isn't faith believing, all powers can't be seen…

I was too caught up in the memory that it took me a while to realize that I was finally standing in the cemetery… having walked there while reminiscing in the past. The place itself held a gloomy atmosphere, even though the night was content and peaceful. So many people have gone through this place, that it left a trail of their aching and pain behind. I walked slowly, almost zombie-like, through the grove of tombstones and over the resting places of the dead buried beneath the earth. I came upon a certain sakura tree located in the cemetery, where a lone tombstone was at the feet of it. I crouched before the stone, trailing my fingers over the engraved writings:

Sakura A. Kinomoto –

1981-1996

Beloved Daughter. Beloved Sister. Beloved Friend.

She will always remain in the hearts of those that love her.

Rest in peace, Sakura.

I bowed my head. It was hard staring at the tomb of the only girl you had grown to actually love. I could feel the tears sting my eyes as my vision became blurred. The remembrance of the day she died resurfaced in my mind. I tried to forget that day… but I couldn't. "Sakura…"

As my heart holds you, just one beat away..
I cherish all you gave me everyday.

'Cause you are mine…Forever love
Watching me from up above

We were both fifteen, still best of friends. As years passed us by, I couldn't help but notice how Sakura looked sometimes when seeing people walk her by. She always had this depressed expression that she tried so hard to hide from me. And even though she'd be able to fool anyone… I could see right through her façade. I knew she wanted to stand; to walk and prove to the world that she was strong and that she could stand for herself. And one day, a determined urge took over me. I wanted to help her. I wanted to teach her to walk. So, that very day, I approached Sakura with my usual serious expression.

                "Sakura, give me your hands…" I stated, holding out a hand to her.

She looked at me questioningly. "Why, Syao-kun?"

                "Do you want to learn how to walk?" I asked directly, getting straight to the point.

Emotions flashed through those emerald pools of hers. Surprise… eagerness… and then determination. I felt one of her hand slide into mine as she flashed me a small grin. "Yes, Syaoran, I do."

I wrapped my fingers around her smaller hand. "Then I will teach you." I flashed her one of my "rare smiles," as Tomoyo usually calls it. Tomoyo's another of our close friends, and also Sakura's half cousin. I could instantly see her eagerness mirroring in her eyes, and I vowed then and there that I was going to keep on helping her till she walked.

And I believe, that angels breathe
And that love will live on and never leave

Thus, I kept that vow. Since that day, we'd go to a secluded flower field where I'd help her to stand and then she'd try to stand on her own without my support. My attempts to teach her, and her attempts to stand seemed to go in vein, for each time she tried, she'd collapse to the ground… breathing heavily. It was hard for her after all, since all her life she's been stuck in that wheel chair – her legs immobile. I was patient with her, but my patience would thin away each time she spoke about giving up. I wasn't going to give up on her, no matter how long it took for her to stand and walk, I wasn't about to give up. And I guess it was because of my determination that she pushed herself on.

What seemed after weeks and weeks of hopeless days… Sakura finally stood on her own. It only lasted for a few seconds though before her legs gave way. But she stood and that was all that mattered. I remember that day, too. She was in tears after her accomplishment, crying in rejoice as I held her in my arms so she wouldn't collapse onto the ground. I was smiling widely, more wide than I ever smiled before in my life. And since that day, our hopes for Sakura walking again was greater than it was when we first started this.

But maybe we shouldn't have continued? I shouldn't have pushed her so much… If we just gave up, maybe then her vein wouldn't have burst from the strain? Maybe then… she'd still be alive? So what if she was in a wheel chair… at least she'd have been alive to live out the days of her life…

Fly me up to where you are, beyond the distant star.

I wish upon tonight, to see you smile.

It was a night like this when it had happened… when Sakura died. I had seen her off to her house, waving good-bye as she wheeled her way to her house. I wasn't expecting the events that were to occur later on…

I was walking down the grove of cherry blossom trees when I had heard my name be called; when I heard my name fall from the lips of her.

                "Syaoran…!"

I glanced over my shoulder, then whipped around in absolute astonishment and surprise. There she was, there was Sakura, standing a few yards away from me. She was standing. She didn't have her wheel chair with her, so I knew she had most likely ran, or just walked very fast, to catch up with me. Tears were streaming from her eyes, a weak grin plastered on her face. She looked oddly pale, but the joy in her emerald eyes were obvious from the distance put between us.

The shock was most likely evident on my face also. I couldn't seem to move from surprise. I watched as she ran slowly to me, and I broke into a jog also. But then…

It happened.

She collapsed onto the ground, breaking into coughing fits. My heart twisted and turned, worry suddenly over coming me as I ran faster and dropped down to my knees. I gathered her into my arms, gently turning her around so I could see her face My eyes widened in horror when seeing that she was coughing out blood. Trails of red liquid came from the corner of her mouth, blood splattered on her clothes and leaking onto her neck. I began to dab away hastily at the blood… as if that would stop the bleeding… as if that would stop her from leaving…

Sakura coughed again and looked up at me with a soft expression. A weak, faint grin was plastered on her abnormally pale face. "Syaoran…" Her tone was shaky; strained.

                "Shh. Sakura. Don't speak… It'll just make things worse…" I replied, my own voice wavering a bit.

She ignored me and took hold of one of my hands. "Thank you, Syaoran. For teaching me to walk; for everything… You don't know how much you mean to me…"

I stared at her helplessly, a sickening feeling gradually welling at the pit of my stomach. I knew what was coming. I knew she was going to leave. But I didn't want to accept it. I winced when hearing her harsh cough. She was looking up at the stars now, the same weak smile on her face. "I guess I'll finally get to see that world beyond the stars, huh, Syao-kun? I always told you I was going to go…"

                "No, Sakura. You're not going to go. You can't go yet! We… we can go there together! Just wait… Just stay with me longer… Please…" I sounded pleading. I was going to hold onto her for as long as I can. No… I wasn't about to let Kami-sama take her away from me so soon. And hold her is what I did as I held her tightly to me. "I don't want you to leave me, Sakura…"

                "I'm not going to leave you, Syao-kun…" she tried to reassure me in a soothing whisper, but that terrified feeling in me grew more. "I'll always be with you." I looked down at her to find her eyes glazed over with tears that she fought to hold back. I was having a hard time also to fight back the tears. "And I want you to also know, Syaoran, that…" She coughed again, her eyelids half closed. The fear in me increased till the point I thought I'd loose it. "…I love you."

And then she closed her eyes.

Since that day, I was never able to see her smile…

To see her open her eyes…

To hear her laugh.

To hear her voice.

And that was the final day I held her close to me, allowing myself to drop my barriers just that once; allowing myself to release the tears. I don't know how much time passed as I sat there crying, holding my cherry blossom tightly. All I knew was that she was gone… and never coming back.

If only for awhile to know you're there…

 A breath away's not far to where you are.

And now, here I was – knelt before Sakura's tomb, hugging it as if it were her. Tears were cascading down my face, silently landing against the top of the stone. I knew I was the only living person in that cemetery, so it didn't matter to me that I was crying right now. I couldn't help it though… I miss her, and there's no way to bring her back. I could feel my whole body being racked by sobs as I allowed the pain and aching I've held for years to flow out. Ever since she died, I've had years and years of restless nights… unable to go to sleep and rest peacefully. How many times have I thought about taking my life so I could finally rest? Too many. The only reason why I never went through with it was because I knew Sakura wouldn't be too happy with me.

I rested my forehead against the top of the tombstone, a tear trickling down my nose before gently landing against the blades of grass. I picked up a stray cherry blossom and studied it softly. "Sakura… What I wouldn't give to see your face at least one last time; to hear your voice…" I closed my eyes tightly, creasing my brows. "I miss you so much. Why'd ya have to go? Why'd ya have to come after me that one night? You should've stayed home… But no… You're so damn stubborn…" I wiped hastily at my tears, sitting up and craning my neck back so I could see the sky. "If you can hear me, Sakura… I've been meaning to tell you something, but I never got the chance. I wish I could've told you then that… I love you, too."

I sat there for a while, just staring up the sky, greeted by silence. All I could hear were the quiet whispers of nature; the distant songs of chirping crickets. I sighed, but then that's when I felt it… That's when I felt her presence. It was faint, but I knew she was there. So she was watching me after all…

I forced myself to stand up, slowly looking around the graveyard. I knew she was dead, and that she wasn't here physically, but still… I can hope, can't I? When it became obvious to me that I wouldn't be able to see her, I heaved a defeated sigh. Reaching into my pockets, I pulled out a single white rose and placed it on the top of Sakura's tombstone.

                "I never doubted you for a second when you said you were going to see that world beyond the stars, Sakura… I just wish we could've gone together." I felt tears sting my eyes once more, but I continued to speak, "But one day, Sakura, I'll join you… Just you wait. We'll be together again. And when that day comes, I'll finally be able to tell you that… I love you, Sakura Kinomoto. You may not have known this, but you taught me something, Sakura, you taught me to love. And never will I forget you… Seven years have passed and I haven't forgotten you… I know I never will. But for now, Sakura, I'll say bye… but we'll meet again…" I allowed a single tear to slide down my face before turning around and walking away. 'One day, Sakura…'

I know you're there
A breath away's not far
To where you are.

A faded figure sat at the top of the tombstone, clad in a loose, flowing white gown. The white rose could be seen, perched on her thigh as she clasped it in her hand. A small, sad grin crossed her pale face, a crystalline tear cascading down her cheek before landing against a petal of the rose. Her emerald eyes shimmered brightly from the soft glow of the moon. "I know, Syaoran, and till then… I'll be waiting."

Fin

Author's Note: ^^; Sorry if her death seemed rather rushed… It's just that… her vein burst and she collapsed, so she couldn't just die like… ten minutes later. That'd be odd. ._. Anyway, This fic was inspired off of 'The Scarlet Ibis,' by James Hurst. I got the whole plot thing (Sakura being crippled Syaoran teaching her to walk, and Sakura's vein bursting ) off of it, but for those of you who has read TSI, can tell I totally altered it… in plenty of ways. ^_^ Weeelll… do tell me what'cha think of it. So RxR, please and thank you. =)