Beautiful Goodbye

                                          By: Digidynasty

            This is Wish-chan's story "New Trials", but in a song fic.  The song is "Beautiful Goodbye" and it fits the mood of S+S

in New Trials perfectly.  Enjoy!

      Looking down, she said, "In the first place, you got hurt while saving me, and I want to do at least this in return.

Besides, you're my friend, or at least I count you so. It hurts me when you're hurt." At this, her voice cracked. I can't start

crying now. I'm not a baby. She continued, "You're always helping me. I want to help you, too." Sakura bit her tongue. She

would make no references to the past, though. The past is the past. Maybe because of exhaustion from that harsh day, or

maybe because of the injuries on Syaoran back, a tear plopped down, soaking through Syaoran bandages. What am I doing?

I'm so stupid. She quickly wiped her tears with the back of her hand.

      Syaoran turned around and looked concerned, trying to reach out a hand and say something. Instead, Sakura

interrupted, "No, I'm not going to cry and be weak. There are so many dangers out there, and somehow, I have wound up in

the middle of them. I ask, why me? Why not someone else? But, I have decided to accept my role and try my best. Sometimes

it's so hard that I wanted to give up, but no, I'm going to face whatever obstacles come along. Look how far I've come, with

the support of my friends. Even though there is a new enemy, even if there are days worse than this, I won't cry." She

swallowed a sob.

      Suddenly, Syaoran clasped her into a tight hug, squeezing his arms around her. She gasped. Then, he whispered into

her ears, "Why do you always try to exceed yourself? Crying doesn't make you weak. Though I don't want to admit this,

sometimes, I admire your persistence and ability to go on. So, cry hard as you want, when you are exhausted and tired from

all the hardships you face. It will make you feel better." Sakura's tears continued to well out. "But," Syaoran paused. . God, I

can't believe I almost lost you. Still, you are safe, here with me.  "Don't ever cry because you feel lonely, because you are

not alone, Sakura."

Leaning her head against his warm shoulder, Sakura wept until no tears were left. I am not alone. Syaoran… After a long

silence, she said, "Thank you. I don't even know why I'm crying. Now, look what I've done. I've got all your bandages wet."

Fed up with my destiny

This place of no return

Think I'll take another day

And slowly watch it burn

            A rough, yet smooth voice came from behind her. "Do you remember what this place is?" Before she could answer,

Syaoran said, "This is where I finally told you that I had 'special feelings' for you." He laughed mockingly. "Funny how we can

look back to yesterday and realize how silly it was. It seems like another life time."

       Facing the other way, Sakura answered softy, "Oh." She cringed at the mockery in the tone of his voice, and his

frankness as he talked in an uncaring way.

      "Here's the music book. You know, for the concert." He handed it to her, trying to continue with his real motive.

"While I'm at it, you probably figured it out, but…" Suddenly, Syaoran found it hard to continue. Both of them faced away

from each other, back to back.

      Sakura knew, but dreaded what was going to happen. She clenched her gloved fist.

      Changing the subject, Syaoran fiddled with his gray wool scarf. "Gosh, I've known you for practically 4 years now. I

can't believe that all the crazy card stuff is over…"

      "Yeah," she replied.

      "Right. We both know this, but I think it will be better if we just make this clear with each other… I hate it when things

are hanging in the air." Syaoran paused then continued, "You know that I don't have special feelings about you anymore, right?

All those things that happened back in those days before I left to Hong Kong is past."

      There was a terribly awkward silence, as a freezing gust of wind blew at them. Sakura's hair whipped across her face,

her ocean green eyes, expressionless.

      "Right," Sakura finally replied, her voice higher than usual, but calm.

      "Good. I'm glad that we sorted the things between us. I don't like it when things are uncomfortable... Don't feel

pressured about this, or anything. Nothing much has changed... Just now, we have things straight."

      "Right."

      "Okay. Well, I gotta go now. I have dinner duty tonight."

      "Me too."

      They shuffled around in the dirty snow, uncomfortably and refused to meet eyes.

      Syaoran fiddled with the zipper of jacket then said, "Good bye."

      "Bye, Sakura answered, automatically. She had not looked at him once since he came.

      Even after he left, she was stood motionlessly, with out any emotions or thoughts. A snowflake landed on her cheek.

More and more fell from the sky, swirling around in one motion with the gust. Her bare hands clutched the music book.

Eventually, a snowy pile formed on her hair and shoulders. She closed her eyes, as sugary frosts collected on her long lashes.

Doesn't really matter

How the time goes by

Cause I still remember you and I

And that beautiful goodbye

      "Sakura, stop!"

      She refused to listen to the voice. Who knew what it was, who knew what illusion it may be? Sprinting faster, Sakura

ran further and further away from the urgent voice. Her calves ached and her soft leather shoes pinched at her toes. At last, like

after a game of tag, Sakura slowed down, out of breath.

      "Baka! Are you stupid or what? What good is this game of chase going to do us? Get a grip. This is Li Syaoran,

you're Kinomoto Sakura. Calm down and let's think through this step by step." With a leap, Syaoran grabbed Sakura's wrist.

      "Let go of me!" Sakura commanded, trying to snatch out her wrist. She no longer had the endurance to run on.

      With a sick realization, Syaoran knew that Sakura could not see him, nor see herself, even if he could see the her

outlines and features perfectly clearly, down to the fear and dread in her clouded emerald eyes. She was under complete

control of the Invisible. Realizing that the black cloaked skeleton was aiming for Sakura, Syaoran quickly dragged her and ran

to another abandoned street in New York. Though she struggled, Syaoran made sure that Sakura could not escape from him,

and be devoured by the evil force. Finally, he stopped in a relatively undisturbed area and let got of Sakura, who no longer had

the strength to run off again.

      Desperately, Syaoran said in a cracked voice, "Why won't you trust me?"

      Angrily, she retorted between breaths, "Trust you? What have you ever done to let me trust you? Anyway, I don't

even know who you are. How can I trust a stranger?"

      "I've been with you all through. I was your rival, you said you hated me. We've been through a lot. Get it?"

      Ruefully, she asked, "How can I believe you?" Yet, something in her eyes flickered. Could she actually she a faint

outline of a tall boy now? Her own hands started to appear again. Was she not going blind or crazy after all?

      Suddenly, she realized that Syaoran was standing right behind her. She could feel his gentle breath on her neck. He

was the real Syaoran, after all.  Unable to hold back any longer, Syaoran hugged her from the back and whispered in a broken

voice into her ear, "Trust me, Sakura. God, I don't know how things got so crazy, but believe in me once more." Drawing her

tighter to him, he continued, "I'm tired of playing tag with you and chasing you blindly. I don't know if this makes a difference

anymore but you asked me once, 'what of the lone wolf?' You're right. I'm not gonna let you fight this alone. I don't care what

happens afterwards, but don't think of escaping from me, Sakura."

      Syaoran realized that Sakura had been trembling. Who ever told her to run out in the middle of a New York winter in a

sleeveless summer dress? "You're cold."

      "No," she replied softly. Evergreen eyes were glistening.

      "Liar. You're shivering as if you're getting electrocuted or something." Ignoring her retorts, he continued, "I wish I had

the warmest fur coat to wrap around you but—" he broke off. He had nothing to offer. "I don't have anything, Sakura." But

me. Instinctively, he refused to let his arms drop from around her.

      Relaxing, Sakura leaned back against Syaoran's firm chest. No one could exactly call her name in that same way. And

no one had the same effect in rousing her anger, and calming her down so easily. The tenderness in his voice was rich with

emotion that she thought was incapable of him having. No longer did she have any doubt or suspicion. Syaoran's warm, strong

arms wrapped around her quenched the shivering. I don't care if it's a dream or an illusion… I wish this moment can last

forever… His outline was as clear and bright as the day. No longer did the Invisible hold its ghostly power over her. The real

Sakura was back. How could she ever go so crazy and suspect Syaoran out of all people? That skull. It had that much

dominance over her sensibility and mind.

Staggering through these empty streets

Laughing on and off

And I had made a mess of me

Your confessions kept me warm

      Gazing at her, Syaoran blushed slightly in the dark.

      "Thanks for the great dinner. And also thanks for always being here for me and supporting me. I don't know what I

would have done without you. I think I'm really lucky that you're here by my side. I often wonder why you're helping me since

you have no reason to, but…"

      "Isn't it obvious?" Syaoran asked, carefully looking into her eyes. "You're a special person to me."

      "It's a easy thing to say, isn't it? Yet, don't say stuff you don't mean from your heart. Don't say things like that which

will only hurt me later on." Stepping back, Sakura said sadly, "I'm glad you've been the best of friends to me so far. Yet, get it

straight. That's all."

      Gripping her wrist, Syaoran replied, gazing at her with the most serious amber eyes twinkling with the lights reflected

from the river. A firm resolution formed in his heart. He wanted to set things right. "I've been a coward, always trying to run

from the truth. But Sakura, I vowed I would always tell you the truth from now on. I do care for you." Then, he drew her

nearer to him and closed his eyes, bending over to kiss her. For a moment, they were a breath apart.

      Sakura, I do care for you… His words stirred a deep warmth in her heart, which had ached for years in loneliness that

never surfaced. It was a loneliness that was unconscious to her except in the deepest center of her heart, where she yearned for

something, she knew not what.

      The bitter coldness which she had felt that winter, when he told her he had no feelings for her slowly melted as a tingling

ran down her spine. Then, she froze again. She still remembered his cold words. 'Do you remember what this place is? This

is where I finally told you that I had 'special feelings' for you. Funny how we can look back to yesterday and realize

how silly it was. It seems like another lifetime.' Abruptly, she stepped, back at the last moment. Her forest green eyes

hardened. "How can I believe in you? You hurt me before. I gave you my full trust; then you told me that you didn't care for

me. How do I know that you won't do it again? You always change and stay inconsistent.  How do I know if you're sincere

right now, that you aren't just playing with me?"

      "I—" Syaoran was cut off. The words from his dream echoed in his ears. 'Why should I trust you? You're my

enemy! Stop lying to me! Stop hurting me! I don't need someone like you!'

      "When you came back from Hong Kong, you don't know how glad I was… Yet, winter came and thrust me into pain,

pain from my soul. Someone I counted on hurt me so much." Sakura looked with the same sorrowful eyes as in his dream. "I

was so confused, I wanted you to explain to me why you fought by my side and acted so kind at times, yet always turned that

cold face on me. Tell me, did you hurt me because you are my rival and enemy? Then why do you help me? Is it to hurt me

again? I want to trust you, yet how can I trust you when you make my heart hurt so much? Are you lying to me again?"

      "Sakura, you're mistaken about something! I'm not just playing with you. I—"

      Already, Sakura had run off to the farther edge of the bank.

      Burying his hand in his hair, Syaoran murmured, "You're mistaken. I didn't say I didn't care for you last winter

because I didn't like you." Then he asked quietly, "What can I do to make you trust me? I've already made a mistake, I don't

want to make another one."

I don't really miss you

I just need to know

Do you ever think of you and I?

And that beautiful goodbye?

      "Sakura, I've come," Syaoran said, leaning his weight against the compartment door. His chestnut brown hair was

tussled by the wind and his black clothes had various rips and tears in it.

      "Syaoran…" Sakura stood up. Her emerald ocean green eyes were luminous and glistening. He walked over to her

and held out his arms.

      Sakura buried her head into his chest. She could still here his heart beating rapidly from running all night. He was

slightly trembling from fatigue, despite his calm exterior.

      After a while, Syaoran asked, "Sakura? Are you… crying? I'm all right. I promised I'd come back before dawn,

didn't I? I didn't want to keep you waiting like yesterday, but I'm still late. The sun has already risen. Sorry." When he didn't

hear any reply, he tilted up her chin. "Sakura?"

      Looking up with tear brimmed eyes, Sakura replied, "Silly, I don't care whether you keep me waiting or not. All I care

is that you are here and safe. Do you know how much I worried? Don't ever leave me like that again."

      "You were worried… for me?" Syaoran asked, greatly surprised.

      "Yes, stupid," Sakura said, without being able to control the tears from flowing from her eyes. She fingered a streak of

      blood running down the side of his smooth forehead. "You're hurt?"

      "It's just a scratch. I scraped my head when I jumped off the other train. Stupid mistake; I lost control of my magic

when I tried to make a safe landing."

      "You call that a scratch? You made me worry, and now you're even injured." She sniffled.

      Slowly, Syaoran said, "Now you're making me feel bad. I made you cry again. I made you hurt again, when I vowed

never to make you feel pain because of me. No wonder you hate me and distrust me."

      "Who says I hate you. Syaoran… I do trust you. I do believe in you."

      "You… believe in me?" Syaoran whispered, as if unbelieving in the words, himself. Her angry words from the previous

night still shot shards into his heart.

      "Of course I do. I always have, in the depths of my heart." Sakura swallowed the lump in her throat and smiled. "I

believed in you when we overcame Eriol. I believed that you will come back to Japan. I believed in you last night, when you

said you'll come back by dawn."

      The corners of Syaoran's amber eyes softened as it did only for Sakura and only in rare occasions. "Of course I came

back to you, Sakura. You are my sunrise, the hope in each day."

      Brilliant amber eyes met emerald eyes with a new clearness and sincerity as never before. Holding Sakura tightly with

his hand, Syaoran bent over to kiss Sakura. This time, she did not draw back. When their lips touched, Sakura's eyes widened

for a second then shut tightly.

      For the first time since last winter, the brilliant rays of the dazzling golden sun seeped into her body and warmed her

heart.

When I see you now

I wonder how

I could've watch you walk away

      A warning throb rang in Syaoran's mind. Too late did Syaoran realize what the Phantom's real target was. It wasn't

Tomoyo's father, nor Tomoyo, nor himself. The Phantom's actual target was Sakura. It had manipulated the people around

Sakura to hurt her, and now, it was taking its final step. His amber eyes widened in horror as he saw the Crystal grin wickedly,

throwing its arrow towards Sakura's heart. "SAKURA!"

      Without even having the time to realize what had happened, Sakura staggered back in shock as the crystal arrow

pierced through the center of her heart. There was pain, a different kind of pain than any other thing she had experienced. A

cold, numbing sensations crept in her heart, starting from the outside to the deep center. She realized that her heart was no

longer beating, now an impenetrable diamond crystal. She was just a living shell with no feeling whatsoever in her. Her whole

body was trembling uncontrollably. With a sense of unreality, Syaoran saw Sakura's face turn pale and a shadow cast over her

dull emerald eyes.

      A black shadow lurked behind Tomoyo. The Phantom was preparing to enter Sakura's soul, now, with a solid frozen

heart, vulnerable and weak.

      "At last, the great Card Captor is beaten," the Phantom said.

      Before the last spark went out of her eyes, Sakura said through clenched teeth, "I will never let a dark force such as

you dirty my soul. I will never fall under your control." With shaking hands she slid her staff, which had turned back into a key

towards Syaoran. Then with strained effort, she picked up a crystal arrow that had fallen on the ground and pierced her arm

with it. Slowly, her whole body now hardened into a crystal. The last words she whispered were, "Syaoran! I will save

Tomoyo!"

      For a while, Syaoran was too stunned to move.

If I let you down

Please forgive me now

For that beautiful goodbye

      The audience remained motionless, staring intensely at the softly lit stage were Juliet lay in the arms of her Romeo. They

gulped down the clenched feeling in their throats.

      "I promise you your wish will come true," Syaoran whispered, holding back a choking feeling in his throat. "Juliet?" His

voice broke. "I love you. I love you so much, I think my heart will stop. I promise you that our story shall be told, and so it will

be, so that nobody would have to suffer as much as we did. But do you think we suffered that much? I don't know, I think the

times I spent with you were the happiest moments of my life—I was so happy, that all the hardships in between when we were

apart, seemed trivial. All the while I was in exile, far from family, friends, and home, I kept on thinking, I have to see Juliet

again, so with that hope, I lived on. Juliet? Juliet…" Sakura's eyes shut, and she grew limp in his arms. He continued with his

voice quivering the slightest bit, "You're smiling… We found short, but true happiness in our lifetime—some people never do."

Gently, he brushed back a light brown curl from her forehead, his eyes shining.

      One by one, the audience members who had been holding back tears throughout the entire second half of production

began to sniffle and dab handkerchiefs to their eyes.

      Though she was supposed to be dead, Sakura couldn't help the corners of her closed eyes from misting; never had she

thought that Syaoran would be capable of putting so much emotion into his acting and make her heart wring like this. During

rehearsals, she had always thought that the last act was the most comic of all, though it was supposed to be the most touching.

Then, she felt a rustle of clothes as Syaoran bent down, over her head.

       Her heart from pounding loudly. How could she have forgotten? For the first time, she snapped back to plain old

Sakura Kinomoto, not Juliet Capulet. The heat from the bright stage lights, and Syaoran's arms was suffocating. Why isn't

Syaoran hurrying up? I'm pretty sure he's about as embarrassed about this as I am, if not more. She clenched her

fluttering eyes tighter, expecting a quick peck on her forehead, as Tomoyo had informed Syaoran to do. A lock of Syaoran's

soft hair brushed against her forehead, and his warm breath tickled her cheek. Though she had an urge to sit up, she scolded

herself, I can't open my eyes now! But it was taking so long. Sakura felt a gentle touch on her brows. He had finished with it,

and she had hardly noticed. What a relief! It wasn't as awkward and embarrassing as she expected it to be! How she could

relax.

      At that moment, she felt a softness press on her lips. She had been caught off guard—her first instinct was to open her

eyes and look right up at Syaoran, barely a hair breath away from her, before she recalled once more that she was supposed

to be dead and shut them quickly. To her greatest discomfort, she felt her face heat up into a deep blush; she hoped neither

Syaoran nor the audience could see how red she was. The kiss seemed to have stopped time. Suddenly, she recalled the

fleetingly brief kiss on the train that summer—she had come to the conclusion that she had dreamed it up. At that time, it

seemed Syaoran hadn't been Syaoran; that incident had been so momentous and so instantaneous. Neither of them had acted

like anything changed. Yet, it also gave her some sense of relief that her first kiss wasn't on stage, in front of hundreds of

people. But it had been with the same person. Having so many thoughts run through her head, then made her realize that it

might signify that the kiss had been extraordinarily long; she could hardly breathe. It seemed as if Syaoran realized this as well.

Slowly, his lips parted hers.

      Softly, he said, "I love you Juliet." Sakura's heart lurched. If his words were for real… But it was only a school play.

Yet Syaoran said it so seriously and devotedly, any girl who heard it would believe him. Then, carefully, he lay her on the

ground, with her hands clasped on her chest.

In these days of no regrets

I keep mine to myself

And all the things we never said

I can say for someone else

      She stared at the store clock. It was past five. Carefully, she tucked the ribbon into her pocket. She had given her

other favorite green ribbon to Syaoran as a good luck charm. Thinking about it, she had lost it last autumn. Where and when

did she lose it? And how did she find it again? Something told her that she had lost it at Syaoran's apartment, the night they had

discovered his father's diary. Why did I give it to Syaoran? It was my favorite ribbon. Then, she asked her self why it had

been her favorite ribbon. Because it was Syaoran's favorite color.

      A rueful voice flickered in her ears. "Maybe I'm not a very good person yet, but I'm trying hard to become a

better one."

      Suddenly, a wrenching hollowness lurched in her stomach. The intensity of Syaoran's golden amber eyes, the color of

the autumn leaves appearing on the trees these days, played in her mind. His quiet, sincere words, "I'll be waiting there,

whether you come or not"; it was true, Syaoran never broke his words. He had never broken a promise to her and always

came to her side without question, yet what could she say about herself? She had to go check if he did come or not—Syaoran

at least deserved that much. It would be better if he completely forgot about the meeting, and didn't come at all, she told

herself. Not after I kept him waiting this long. But something in her heart told her that Syaoran had remembered, and that he

was waiting, that he had been waiting all the while in King Penguin Park all along. Her heart lurched.

      "Onii-chan, Yukito-san… I'm sorry; I just remembered I had an important appointment. I need to go now. Thank you

for the wonderful day—I really am glad to spend the day with you. Onii-chan, I'll see you at home. Sorry I'm leaving so

suddenly," Sakura explained quickly, before bursting out of the store in full sprint.

      Touya was left speechless. What had come over Sakura? Shaking his head when Touya tried to follow, Yukito said,

"Let her be."

      I'm sorry Syaoran, I'm sorry for ever doubting you. Her eyes blurred. Sakura ignored the cramps in her stomach as

she ran down the street, dodging various people. She headed straight to King Penguin Park, running at full speed, something

she had not done for quite a while, excluding her sprint through the maze-like reality that the Fate had set up for her last

Saturday. Before long, she was out of breath and her lungs ached, yet all she could think was to get to King Penguin Park no

later than she already was. It seemed so far away, as if she would never reach it. Syaoran, please wait a few minutes longer.

I'm sorry for keeping you waiting so long. Please be there.

      Sakura could now view the park, with its large blue penguin slide—and the benches were empty. She stopped, placing

her hands on her knees and panting. He wasn't there after all. He hadn't waited. She didn't know whether to be relieved or

disappointed, so disappointed. With her sleeves, she wiped the water from her face; whether it was sweat or tears, she did not

know. How could she have been such a fool?

And nothing lasts forever

But we always try

And I just can't help but wonder why

We let it pass us by

      Slowly, they walked down the street. It took three steps to match one of Syaoran's, but Syaoran was careful to match

his pace with little Sakura's, slowed even more by the long dress trailing behind her.

      "Why did you wait for that person for so long?" Sakura finally asked, unable to hold off any longer. It was a mistake to

talk—her voice high and babyish, and unable to pronounce all her consonants clearly.

      "Because I knew that she would eventually come," Syaroan replied, as if talking to an equal. After a second thought,

he gazed down at her queerly and added, "And she did."

      At this, Sakura halted, slipping her hand from his hold. Her blood ran chill. He certainly didn't mean…

      Gazing straight ahead, Syaoran said, "I'm really glad that you came, Sakura. I was afraid that you might not, but I still

waited. I trusted you wouldn't forget to come, and I was right."

      Slowly, Sakura stared up at Syaoran, which was a hard feat because her height wasn't anywhere near his waist. He

had recognized her, despite her small form. Quietly, she asked, "How long did you know that I was Sakura?"

      "Since the beginning, when I picked you off the ground," Syaoran replied, still not looking at her. "The dark force got

to you before I did."

      At this, Sakura was stunned. She had assumed that Syaoran had told her all the things he did because he assumed that

she was a stranger. She couldn't imagine him actually telling her such private thoughts to her face.

      "I kind of wish that you came so late because you were held up by a dark force, but I know that isn't true. You

weren't planning to come in the first place, right?"

      Guiltily, Sakura stared at the ground.

      Then brightly, Syaoran assured, "But that doesn't matter; what's important is that you came, Sakura. It was worth the

wait."

      "What would you have done if I didn't come, after all?" little Sakura asked, curious.

      "I would have waited all night, until you did," Syaoran replied grimly.

      At this, Sakura's stomach fluttered. Hanging her head down, Sakura stared at the ground. No matter what, she

wouldn't cry. Not when Syaoran could simply forgive her like this. Why couldn't he be mad at her; that would have felt more

comfortable than him being so forgiving and understanding. It made her feel nasty, mean, and callous. "Why did you pretend

that you didn't know I was Sakura?" she asked, holding back the tightness in her throat.

      "I was waiting for you to tell me yourself," Syaoran answered. "I was waiting for you to tell me why you were late and

why you were trying to avoid me. But you don't have to give any explanations if you don't want to. Hurry now—let's return to

my place and we can think of a way to return you to your normal age. That's most important now."

When I see you now

I wonder how

I could've watch you walk away

      "You disappoint me, Chang Eron," Sakura said, standing up and stepping away from Eron. "I thought you had some

morals left in you."

      Since Eron's eyes were downcast, Sakura couldn't see that momentary change over his face that had been triggered

by her reproving words.

      Eron stood also. "Well it's about time that you get the notion out of your head that I am a nice guy, that you can

befriend me by throwing bones at a stray puppy. I'm not as simple as Li Syaoran."

      Once more, Eron's words were mocking and derisive, and his chin was tilted up so that he could look down at Sakura

with half-shut eyes, in that arrogant manner of his. He then stepped up closer to Sakura.

      "Syaoran is not!" Sakura was cut off.

      Gripping her shoulders tightly so that she couldn't squirm away from him, Eron said in a dangerously pleasant tone, "If I

were you, I would be more on guard. There's no knowing what I might do from now on."

      Struggling to loosen his grip, Sakura demanded, "Let go of me!" For the first time, she realized that despite being

light-boned for a guy, Eron was remarkably strong too, his fingers digging into her flesh and grinding into her bones.

      "And if I don't want to?" Eron asked quietly, face close enough so that Sakura could clearly distinguish the golden

flecks in his hazel eyes. This was the second time they were this intimately close—the first time was that summer, as she came

out of the old theater, and she thought that he was going to kiss her then. "What, do you too think that I am but a mere pawn of

Chang Ruichi-sama, that I can't do as I please?"

      "What are you talking about?" Sakura tried to throw off Eron's balance but failed, wincing as Eron's grip tightened,

and he slammed her into a lamppost behind her. The iron of the long pole collided into her left shoulder blade and spine.

"Ouch! L-let go! You're hurting me." 

      Sakura stared up at Eron furiously. This was not the Eron that she had seen at the orphanage, the one who had asked

her to save him so piteously. This was not the charming, charismatic person who smiled and offered her idle compliments. This

was not the person who she thought she had been slowly getting to know over the past months. The person standing before her

was brutal, aggressive, cruel. Indeed, he was like a cobra, waiting for the perfect opportunity to crush her.

      "Does it? Does it hurt?" Eron scoffed, purposefully jabbing his nails into her skin. "Tell me, is it the love that you always

preach about when I sometimes feel like breaking every bone of your body and hear you writhe in pain?"

      Once more, Sakura lunged forward to escape, but Eron again threw her back against the lamppost with ease, as if she

were a mere rag doll, and Sakura felt something snap as an excruciating pain etched down her back. "You can't escape from

me," he whispered in a coldly threatening tone.

      Bending over even closer, without loosening his hold on her arms, he asked, "You wouldn't mind this if I were

Syaoran, would you?" he asked.

      This time he really would have kissed her but Sakura turned her head away sharply and his lips landed on her left

eyelid. To his surprise, he tasted salty wetness on his lips. Then he realized that Sakura's eyes were glistening with tears of pure

terror.

      "Please let me go, Eron-kun. I know you're usually not like this," Sakura said, chin trembling as she looked straight up

at Eron.

      Blinking, Eron stared down at Sakura, realizing that his knuckles were white from digging his fingers into Sakura's skin

so forcefully. Gradually, he loosened his grip, breathing hard. The wildness and passion contorted on to his face was replaced

with one of remorse and concern.  "Sakura! I'm sorry. I didn't mean to!" Her realized that Sakura wasn't listening to him, that

he might have made a fatal mistake.

      Stumbling away from Eron, Sakura ran, ran as hard as could away from that frightening figure. Just take me away

from him. I don't think I can face him again. For the first time, I'm really scared of him. I've never been scared of a

person like this before; it's not simply being scared, it's terrified. I'm terrified because I know Eron was not lying

about anything he said.

      Once again, a sense of helplessness washed over her; she was numb to the increasing pain on her shoulders, back, and

arms, the result from Eron's aggression and flouting Syaoran's warning.

If I let you down

Please forgive me now

For that beautiful goodbye

      Syaoran's eyes widened. He brushed aside her long hair to reveal the nape of her neck and her upper back. There

were more bruises on her backside—surely it didn't cover her entire back also? Carefully, he lifted up her top enough to see

two or three broad, swollen red streaks striping her back, as if she had been whacked my a metal rod.

      "What are you doing?" Sakura asked, startled out of sleep, pushing aside Syaoran's hand, her heart pounding. She

straightened her pajama top nervously.

      "Sakura, where did you get those bruises?" Syaoran demanded.

      Sakura bolted up, moving away from Syaoran and trying to use the blanket to cover herself. She had completely

forgotten about the bruises once she came to the Fantasy Kingdom. Maybe the magic of the air had made them cease aching.

Now, Syaoran had just triggered unpleasant memories.

      "Answer me Sakura," Syaoran said, gravely.

      "Nowhere—cheerleading practice. I fell down from the top of the pyramid," Sakura lied glibly.

      "Cheerleading season didn't start yet," Syaoran reminded. " Here, let me take a closer look."

      "NO!" Sakura slapped away Syaoran's hand, astounding him with her quick retreat. "I mean!  It's nothing. It doesn't

hurt or anything." That was true, but only because they were inside the Fantasy.

      "What are you talking about? These are fresh bruises, a day old at the most,¡± Syaoran said, frustrated. "Who did this

to you?"

      "I told you it's nothing!" Sakura snapped, afraid that Syaoran might figure out with his probing mind. She had been

trying so hard to forget about it. Eron's cruel words echoed in her ears. "Well, it's about time that you get the notion out of

your head that I am a nice guy, that you can befriend me by throwing bones at a stray puppy. I'm not as simple as Li

Syaoran."

      "Then why are you backing off like that?" Syaoran snatched away the pillow she was hiding behind. "Sakura, look at

me!"

      "No!" I can never let Syaoran know! But it was too late—Sakura realized that she was recalling Sunday's incident so

vividly when she had vowed to delete it from her memory.

      Breaking into Sakura's mind, Syaoran suddenly caught glimpses of Eron grabbing Sakura's arm and then thrusting her

back onto a lamppost, him grinding his fingers into Sakura's tender skin, hurting her, him trying to kiss her, his words, "If I

were you, I would be more on guard. There's no knowing what I might do from now on." Sakura's terror-stricken eyes."

      "Stop it!" Sakura exclaimed, clenching her eyes shut. "Stop looking into my mind!"

      The flashes of image were cut off, and Syaoran stared at Sakura, breathing hard, trembling in fury. Never did he think

that the simple ability to mind-read could hurt him so much. His teeth were clenched as he uttered vehemently, "That bastard"

That son of a beast" Wait till I get my hands on him!"

      "No, Syaoran, you're wrong—Eron didn't do this," Sakura said, shaking her head rapidly.

      "Didn't I tell you to be cautious of that guy?" Syaoran demanded. "And yet, you'd never listen to me. Oh, just wait till

we get back."

      "No, Syaoran, it's not that big of a deal," Sakura protested, wary that Syaoran would be likely to scold her as she fully

deserved for failing to heed his warnings.

      Instead, he had an extremely pained, sad expression. "He dared do this to you?" Syaoran whispered, reaching out and

gently touching the bruise over her collarbone. Sakura winced. The swollen red streaks on her back pained him the most—it

reminded him of the encounter with the Whip for some reason. He knew what it was like, not being able to lie down properly,

sit up straight, having to be careful not to bump into anything. Eron. Never had he felt such a strong urge to punch someone's

face and smash out his brains.

      At this, Sakura remained silent, secretly touched at the plain concern written over Syaoran's face, and forgave him for

intruding into her mind.

Baby what can I do?

All I can't prove to you?

And sometimes I cry!

It's a fool's lullaby

      "The last contestant on the violin is…" the teacher announced. "Li Syaoran, in his third year at Seijou Junior High, who

will be playing his own alteration of Pachabel's Canon." 

      There came a loud scream from the female audience members—half of them from rival schools also—for Syaoran's

fame had spread since the "Star-Crossed" production.

      Dropping her program, Sakura, jaws dropped, asked, "Did anyone know that Syaoran was participating in the

contest?" Suddenly, it became clear why Syaoran so often disappeared in between breaks and missed journalism club

meetings.

      "Look, his name is printed in the program list of contestants," Naoko pointed out, holding out the program cover. "Li

Syaoran, Seijou Junior High, Class 3-2, Violin, Canon Alteration."

      "You didn't know?" Sakura asked, Meilin, who looked equally as clueless to Sakura's secret satisfaction.

      "No! I was staying at Kai's and also, he was rarely home," Meilin said, staring at Syaoran calmly standing on the stage,

violin and bow in one hand and extending the microphone to his height, looking tall and handsome in the Seijou Junior High

uniform, a split image of his father. 

      "How come he didn't tell anyone?" Chiharu asked. "We were only cheering for Tomoyo-chan, but I guess we should

be cheering for Li-kun too; he's our classmate, after all."

      The students had finally hushed and Syaoran stepped up to the microphone and said, "I would like to dedicate this

performance to one who I have hurt terribly almost a year ago and apologize to her for saying words that I did not truly mean.

For those of you who wonder why we live, I ask, don't we live to create memories, for memories are the only lasting gift

bestowed upon the humankind, and when all else fails, we can look back to our favorite memories fondly." Syaoran paused,

looking through the audience straight at Sakura, who was sitting in the center front row.

      Everyone was taken back since no on else had given such an introductory comment before.

      Syaoran continued, "For this person I have chosen this song to ask for forgiveness so that we can look back at

yesteryears without any grudge. So that I can seek redemption for past mistakes."

      A fleeting image of snow fluttering down and a bitter, mocking, hurting voice replayed in Sakura's mind as vivid as it

really was yesterday. Funny how we can look back to yesterday and realize how silly it was. It seems like another

lifetime.

      Yes, despite it all, the mere memory still hurt like an icicle embedded deep in her heart, unbeknownst to her. She

looked up to see Syaoran was still looking at her as he adjusted his father's violin to his chin. This was the second time she saw

Syaoran on stage and watched him as an audience—the first time was back during the Star-Crossed auditions, when he had

sang "It's So Hard to Say Good-bye to Yesterday."

      "Oh, he's talking to me," said one girl, blushing. "How sweet of Li-kun. He didn't have to."

      "Don't be an idiot!" her friend scoffed. "He's referring to me!"

      Sakura did not know how the next few minutes were spent, as the familiar chords of Canon in an unfamiliar rhythm and

variation caressed her body and whispered the song of a distant day to her soul. It was not a piece which could sound

complete with just a single violin, but Syaoran pulled it off. The tune started slowly, yearning, the sound of loneliness common in

all of Syaoran and Ryuuren¡¯s performances. Then, the rhythm grew faster and faster, till Sakura felt exhilarated, lifted up to

golden clouds, and when Syaoran ended on a long, lingering note, Sakura found herself trembling, tears in her eyes. It was not

the tune—though it had always been one of her favorites—it was the soul which Syaoran put into his performance, for as he

brought his bow down, his head was damp from being drenched in sweat, his breath like that of someone who ran a marathon,

his face flushed. And he was still staring only at Sakura. Sakura was staring straight back half up from her seat—luckily she

didn't stand out because the rest of the audience was standing, applauding like they had during the Star-Crossed performance.

      It was the same tune they had played last winter for the Winter Concert, yet Syaoran seemed to be playing a different

piece, for he spoke to her through the music. It was as if he was saying, I am sorry for hurting you and abandoning you.

Can you give me another chance?

Sometimes I cry!

It's just a fool's lullaby!

      "It's a relief to see that she recovered quicker than any of us expected, isn't it?" Eron asked, coming from the opposite

end of the hallway.

      Jumping back, Sakura stared warily at Eron—only two days had passed since Sunday; she could have done without

facing him for the next couple of weeks. Quickly, she spun around and tried to walk away.

      "Look, Sakura," Eron called out, grabbing her wrist. "I know you're trying to avoid me, but I have something to say."

      "I'm sorry, I don't have anything to say to you," Sakura said, shaking away Eron's grasp, wincing from the sharp

movement—her bruised body, though better than yesterday—still would take another week or two to heal completely.

Probably the ones across her back, longer. Yet, more than the hurt of her body, her dignity was hurt; she felt so stupid for so

blindly trusting Eron, thinking he might be a decent person after all.

      "I'm really sorry about Sunday," Eron continued. "I don't know what came over me then—I didn't mean to hurt you at

all."

      "It's okay," Sakura said, wishing that someone would appear and interrupt the conversation.

      "I'm not just saying this for the sake of it," Eron said. "I wish you would give me a chance to show that I am truly

regretful—"

      "I said it's okay," Sakura repeated, in short of snapping at Eron.

      "You're still angry, and you have every right to be," Eron said. "But—"

      "Don¡¯t you dare get near Sakura," Syaoran called out, coming down the stairway to see Eron grabbing onto Sakura's

wrist, and Sakura trying to squirm away. A terrible fury crept over Syaoran once again, the blood rushing to his brains so that

he saw white spots in front of his eyes. 

      "It's none of your business, Li Syaoran,"Eron retorted, seconds before Syaoran, setting his golden trophy and violin

case on the floor, leaped off the steps and knocked Eron over to the ground.

      "Oh is it not?" Syaoran demanded.

      Sakura and Miho, who had come out of the auditorium with Aki, shrieked.

      "How can you even think of approaching Sakura after what you did to her?" Syaoran hissed, his hands strangling

Eron's throat.

      Eron knocked Syaoran aside and rolled on top of him. "I was apologizing, if that means anything to you."

      With his hands clenched into a tight fist, Syaoran asked, "You think it's just a simple matter of apologizing?" before

punching Eron's cheek with full force.

      Glaring at Syaoran vehemently and wiping the trickle of blood from his lips, Eron replied, "Better than you; when have

you ever apologized on you own impulse, you who's full of too much stinking Li Clan pride and so little common sense." Eron

ducked when Syaoran sent off another full-blown punch.

      Once more, they struggled on the floor and Syaoran, having more body mass, pinned Eron down again.

      A student passing down the hallway saw the two wrestling on the floor and shouted, "FIGHT!!! FIGHT IN THE

FIRST FLOOR HALLWAY!" Immediately, a large group of spectators gathered from each end of the hallway and from the

stairway also.

      "I! Should! Have!  Done this the first time!  I set eyes on you,!" Syaoran uttered, words broken with each punch. He

clearly had the advantage now, and was beating Eron to pulp.

      Miho covered her eyes at the bloodshed—but couldn't resist saying, "Kai-sempai, remember to take pictures."

      "Oh, Kai, don't," Meilin said, horrified at the savagery in Syaoran's eyes as he continued to punch Eron over and over

again—Eron, clearly overpowered, his lips bleeding profusely and his left eye swollen, only sent out occasional thrusts at

Syaraon. "Someone stop them!"

      "Syaoran, stop it now!" Sakura exclaimed.

      "I'm! going! To kill him,!" Syaoran said, teeth clenched.

      "No! You're really going to kill him if you continue," Sakura shouted, kneeling and throwing her body in between Eron

and Syaoran.

      Syaoran held back his fist, narrowly missing hitting Sakura. With all her might, Sakura tried to force Syaoran off Eron.

"Stop it."

      "Get out of the way, Sakura," Syaoran said through gritted teeth. "I'm going to beat the living light out of him as I've

always intended to do."

      "Someone come help me!" Sakura exclaimed, pushing Syaoran back before he could lunge at Eron again.

      Kai, probably the strongest in the school aside from Syaoran, came forward and grabbed Syaoran's arms from behind,

dragging him off Eron. "Don't be such an ass," Kai said as Syaoran struggled to lunge forward again. His sunglasses were

knocked askew. "Calm down, Li Syaoran, everyone's watching."

Oh I!

I try!  Yeah!

~*~*~*~*~

            How was that?  Did everyone like it!  I know I did!  Review!  Review!