The last time that I had made a cat-and-dog plot for E+T was when I wrote Picture Perfect. Since then, I have been making E+T fics portraying them as friends. Someone emailed me, asking for a Bijin-like story with lots of verbal jousts.
So here it is, a new fic. This is dedicated to birthday girl Choco-chan and also to Alex-chan. ^^ This would be 10 chapters at the most, because I'm afraid that it might go on hiatus. ^^;;
Wide-eyed, twenty-two year old Kinomoto Sakura watched her second cousin cross the cozy coffee house, not without earning admiring glances from the majority of the male population.
But Daidouji Tomoyo did not take notice of any of the ogling men. She marched straight to the usual table she and her best friend shares every afternoon. Grumpily, she pulled out the seat and slammed her shoulder bag on the vinyl finish of the counter top.
"Easy," said Sakura laughingly. "Is it your monthly period today, Tomoyo-chan?"
Her angelic face was wrinkled delicately in distaste. "Worse. I'll tell you more about it after we order."
Sakura shrugged, then ushered the waiter from the corner.
She looked at Tomoyo once more, then decided to order for her cousin. Tomoyo was not in the best of her moods. She rarely gets upset, but once she does, she tends to go a little over the edge.
When the waiter hurried away, Sakura turned to her once again. "Well, Tomoyo-chan, spill it out. What's the matter?"
Tomoyo sighed, then flipped her hair over her shoulders. "It's my mother. She wants me to stop working in the boutique so I can learn the ropes in maintaining the toy company."
"Aaah," nodded Sakura in comprehension. Now she understood. She knew how Tomoyo loves the business she built for herself some six or seven months ago. Madison Tailoring was her baby, her source of pride and joy. Her line houses her creations for cute and outrageous outfits for little girls—reminiscent of what she used to do for her card-capturing cousin back in elementary.
Old habits are hard to die, I guess, mused Sakura as she watched Tomoyo take the coffee from the waiter.
"But I thought you and Aunt Sonomi have settled everything already?" she asked, taking her own cup of coffee from the waiter. "I thought she would allow you to have your own business as long as you would keep your post as one of the executives in the PR branch of the company?"
"And I am handling that job very well, in fact," said Tomoyo, sipping her drink delicately. "But apparently, some meddling busybody told my mother that merging her company with my clothesline would be a big boost for the toy company, since so many competitors are starting to mushroom everywhere."
"Oh." Sakura frowned. "Now why would your mother listen just to anybody? That person must be very knowledgeable—"
"Not to mention meddlesome." Tomoyo blew her bangs off her forehead. "Never would I drop the boutique's exclusivity just because some guy told my mother so."
"It's not just about the boutique, isn't it?" the cherry blossom asked uncertainly.
Tomoyo's lilac eyes burned. "That's right. I was also snooping around the office for evidences."
Some weeks ago, someone anonymously tipped her that some guy was starting to get too close for comfort to her mother. That was when a theory suddenly clicked in her mind, something he mother wouldn't like once she learns about it.
"You shouldn't be like that, Tomoyo-chan," said Sakura, shaking her head. "You know, you weren't like that before."
"Things and people change, or else the world will not go round," said Tomoyo breezily. But she felt a raw nerve touched by her best friend's comment.
Against her will, she found herself remembering the most embarrassing day in her whole life back in high school… the day that changed her whole life completely, when for the first time ever, she hated someone with all her heart…
Stop it, she admonished herself sternly. You have gotten over that incident already, haven't you? No need to walk down the memory lane…
"I heard that the guy was a newcomer in the company, and he's working as an intern there," she told Sakura. "I didn't read his bio-data, but Mother's secretary told me that the guy graduated from a European university or something. I guess that impressed her, knowing how she likes those people good in Logic." She shrugged. "I guess it makes up for the fact that her daughter has no logic."
"Tomoyo…" Sakura's voice trailed off. It was only recently after Fujitaka Kinomoto's death that Sonomi Daidouji revealed to them that she was madly in love with the college professor even before Nadeshiko got married to him. It somehow hurt the relationship between mother and daughter.
Tomoyo smiled at her. "Oh no, don't give me that look again, Sakura. I'm sorry for worrying you. I'm just…well, a bit upset. I love my boutique, and there will be no way in the world that I would give away my only identity just like that."
She hated being known as "the daughter of the Daidouji", or "the heiress of the Daidouji business empire". No, she wanted to be known for her own work. Thus, she put aside her ambitions in the field of singing and concentrated on making it big with her own business. Within six months, Madison was still in its incubation period, making do with walk-in customers and a few clients.
She smiled bitterly. She was never good with anything related to numbers anyway. But she had gone too far in her endeavor to back down. Especially now that some prying guy was starting to figure in her mother's life…
My mother's boyfriend, she thought wryly. Her mother was still attractive, even with her age. And her wealth didn't hurt too. Despite her misunderstandings with her mother, she still cared for her as a daughter, and would never allow anyone to hurt her or use her.
She sipped her drink some more to calm herself. She swore to herself that she would get to the bottom of things. She would talk with the fellow personally, in fact, once she learns who the character was.
Sakura watched her wanly. "Oh Tomoyo-chan, I hope you're not thinking of anything impulsive to do."
She had to laugh. "Now that's a switch. Some time ago, I should have been the one to say such thing."
Sakura's eyes saddened. "You said it yourself. People and things and circumstances change, or else, the world will not go round. But I still wish to see the old Tomoyo-chan back."
She didn't reply.
After the coffee break, Tomoyo watched her cousin bike her way home. Through all the years, Sakura remained the simple and naïve Sakura-chan she loved dearly.
I guess she is one of the constant things I have to be thankful of. Tomoyo looked at her slim silver wristwatch. She had asked the secretary earlier her mother's schedule, and by now, she was sure her mother's meeting with the finance department would be over.
Now was her chance to talk to her one last time about letting her keep the boutique.
Half an hour later, she was walking in the hotel-like lobby of the main office of the Daidouji toy company. The receptionist, immediately recognizing her, smiled readily and dialed for an escort. She shook her head smilingly and gestured that she could make do on her own.
"Coffee, Daidouji-sama?" tried the receptionist.
"No, no. I need to see my mother now." With that, she headed for the elevators. It was empty, and she figured out that the workers might be out in a break or something. She hurried towards the elevator when she saw the doors were about to close.
Just as she made it to the doors, the heel of her shoes gave way, and she ended up falling on the lush, carpeted floor.
"God!" Tomoyo slapped her forehead and took her shoe. "Why now?" She had been using this for more than two years already, thanks to its quality-made leather. Now why in the world would have it to break now?
But she was somewhat relieved to see that no one noticed her fumble. Quickly, she sought sanctuary in the elevator and shut the door. She pushed the top floor button and settled against the wall. She decided to make use of the time to try to fix her shoes.
She had already reached the eleventh floor, but her shoe was hopeless. Groaning, she took off her other shoe and decided to walk to the office barefooted.
It was embarrassing, but it was the only way she could reach her mother's office.
Eriol Hiiragizawa paused to wipe a sweat off his brow with his handkerchief. The meeting awhile ago was particularly intense, with the suspicion that someone from inside the finance department was diverting funds illegally. There were ghost expenses that he uncovered when he went over the books last week, expenditures he revealed to the president of the company. This caused quite a stir in the department, and he wouldn't be surprised anymore when he would start receiving death threats for what he did.
He was on his way to the fourteenth floor to pick up some of the things Daidouji-sama asked him to get for her. The whole floor was hers alone, and only a few privileged people were allowed to go there.
And he was one of them.
This was one of the sources of the gossips circulating around about him and the special favor that Mrs. President had bestowed upon him.
He just shrugged it off. Anyway, he was only too glad to be back in Tomoeda after so many years of living abroad. This was where he belonged anyway.
And here I am, walking down the hall like an ordinary person…an ordinary employee. He had to smile at the thought as he stopped by the elevator. I, the reincarnation of who used to be the most powerful mage in the world...
He pushed the button and waited for the elevator ride.
Tomoyo froze when she felt the elevator stop. Her heart panicked. She was only on the twelfth floor, right? Did she push the wrong button?
Her question was answered when the door opened, revealing a tall, broad-shouldered man with azure eyes and dark blue hair gazing down at her in surprise.
She didn't have the time to pick herself up from the floor of the elevator where she was seated yoga style, fixing the broken sole of her shoe. Instead, she fixed an apologetic smile on her pretty face.
"I hope you don't mind if I take more space here than needed," she said, shrugging casually.
The man said nothing, but he went into the elevator anyway. The door shut, and the elevator commenced its ascent once more.
She decided to take her attention back to twisting the sole of her shoe, but somehow, she couldn't fight the urge to look at the man beside her again. Giving up, she decided to look at him again.
He was wearing a dark no-nonsense double-breasted business suit, emphasizing the somber look on his handsome face. His eyes were cast straight on the elevator door, as if she didn't exist at all.
She frowned. Funny, but he looked a little familiar. No, scratch that. He looked very familiar. Her mind refused to acknowledge it, but something was telling her that he looked really familiar…
The door opened, to her surprise. She had almost forgotten her own circumstance! She got up when she saw that she was on the fourteenth floor already. Casually, she took her other shoe off, and with her bare feet, she walked down the polished marble floor of the hallway leading to her mother's office. All the while, she could feel his gaze on her.
Despite herself, she could feel her cheeks warm. She turned to the elevator once again and was astounded to see that the door had not closed yet. He was watching her intently.
When their eyes met, she felt her cheeks turn even hotter. She quickly turned her back on him and doubled her pace.
God, she had not been stared at by any man like that! It was so piercing, so intense…
His stare was enough to melt all her bones within her body.
Eriol watched as the woman disappeared into the main office of the president. Now he was no more in doubt as to who the mysterious lady was.
With his first look at the raven-haired young woman dressed in white cotton long-sleeved polo shirt and black denim jeans seated on the elevator floor, fixing her shoe, he had felt the achingly familiar emotion that only one person managed to bring out in him.
The corners of his mouth twitched. Daidouji Tomoyo, his former classmate in elementary and in his first year in high school.
Also, the young girl who made him a demigod in every page of her high school diary.