L-chan's notes: Written for the Games challenge on livejournal. I don't usually write S&S fluff, so I hope it's worthy. I'm sure you'll let me know. ^_^
Disclaimer: Card Captor Sakura is the property of CLAMP, of course, of course.
Sakura replayed Tomoyo's message as she waited in front of the university library.
"Meet me by the library at noon. I have something for you."
"Well, that's vague," Sakura mumbled, staring at her pink phone as if it held the key to Tomoyo's cryptic words. She checked her watch again and saw that it was two minutes past twelve. Tomoyo was usually quite punctual, and Sakura was surprised to have beaten her here, especially considering that she'd had to meet with her literature professor after her last class.
What a way to spend a birthday. Her father, brother, and guardians had all remembered, but so far, no one else had said a word. She assumed her best friend's message had something to do with it, and maybe she was going to be treated to a birthday lunch out. But it seemed like her own boyfriend had forgotten. She hadn't seen him much this week, and his phone call last night had been brief and distracted. Maybe he was planning a special surprise for her. That has to be it.
Tomoyo still hadn't showed. "I didn't miss her, did I?" she wondered aloud, ignoring the curious glances of her fellow students. Like I'm the only one who talks to herself. She was about to dial Tomoyo's number when a familiar, powerful aura brushed cozily against hers. It sent tingles along her spine, which would normally result in a glowing complexion and an adoring smile. But she wasn't ready to forgive him for ignoring her birthday just yet.
"Sakura?" Syaoran said, rushing up to her. "Where's Daidouji?"
"Well, hello to you, too," she replied, icicles dangling from each word.
"Sorry. Hi," he said with an apologetic grin. "It's just... I was expecting Daidouji. She left a message for me to meet her here."
"You too?" Sakura asked. "That's strange."
He shrugged. "That's Daidouji. What do you think she—?" Sakura noticed his brown eyes shift to something behind her. "What's that?"
Sakura turned around and saw a purple envelope taped to one of the library doors. She was surprised that it had stayed put, considering the number of students who passed through here. "It has my name on it," she said. "And that looks like...."
Sure enough, it was Tomoyo's handwriting. Sakura opened the envelope and read the letter inside.
Happy Birthday, Sakura!
Expecting a treat?
Well, you'll have to work for it
With some help from your sweet.
"Oh, God," she heard Syaoran say as he read the words over her shoulder. "It's your birthday. I can't believe I forgot."
"It's okay," Sakura assured him, though it really wasn't.
"No, I'm an idiot. I've just been so busy. I've got this impossible history paper due—you know how your father is—and—"
"Don't worry about it."
He slid his arms around her waist and hugged her from behind, enveloping her in warmth. "Happy birthday," he whispered near her ear.
"Thanks," she answered softly. She couldn't stay mad at him when he was holding her like this. It felt too good.
There was more to Tomoyo's note.
Your first clue is where two children first met
On one fateful day
Where something that brought them together
Was almost taken away.
"Geez, don't quit your day job, Daidouji," Syaoran muttered. "That's the worst poetry ever."
"At least she tried," she said pointedly.
"I know. I'm sorry. Honestly. In fact, I'm going to skip the rest of my classes today so I can be with you."
"Only because Tomoyo said you have to help me." But secretly, she didn't care why, as long as he did.
"Because I want to," Syaoran corrected her. He took the note from her and read the words again. "So, this is some sort of clue. We're supposed to go somewhere."
Sakura had already figured out that much. "I'm assuming that we are the two children. And we first met...."
"In elementary school," they said together.
As they rode the bus over to their old school, they tried to figure out the rest of the riddle. "What brought us together?" Sakura mused.
"The cards, of course. And I'm the one who tried to take them away." He sounded guilty and ashamed. "I'm sorry."
"I know. You've apologized for that a thousand times. You had a duty to your family, and I understand that," Sakura replied. She'd forgiven him a long time ago.
"But the way I treated you...."
She didn't care about that anymore. They were together, and that was all that mattered. "It's in the past." They stepped off the bus and regarded the familiar school grounds. "Now what?"
"I think I know," Syaoran said. He took her hand and led her to the fence at the edge of the schoolyard. "This is where it happened."
"This is where it all began," she corrected him.
There was another purple envelope tied to the chainlink fence, containing another poorly written poetic clue. The note directed them to the shrine, where Syaoran had first told Sakura that he loved her. Then to the ice cream shop where they'd ended their first date. Then to the amusement park, where they'd shared their first kiss at the top of the ferris wheel. Each stop led to reminiscing, filling Sakura with happiness as she and Syaoran shared things they hadn't thought about in some time. So many memories, so many wonderful days they'd had together. She'd almost forgotten about the ice cream parlor. But she hadn't forgotten the ferris wheel.
"Our first meeting, our first date.... I'm sensing a pattern here," Sakura joked as they climbed into the carriage. A purple envelope was waiting for them on the bench. "I wonder what this one will say."
A girl always remembers
The place that comes next
The first time true love
Led to passionate—
"Oh, my God."
"What?" Syaoran asked, turning away from the window. He read the poem as Sakura flushed crimson. "Oh, my God. How does she know about that?"
"I told her," Sakura admitted sheepishly. "You know, girl talk."
"But that's pretty personal, don't you think?"
"You told Eriol," she countered.
"Not really. That freak just knows everything," Syaoran muttered. "All the way in England, and he still can't mind his own damn business." He shook his head in exasperation and concentrated on the riddle instead. "So, the first time. That was...?"
"Oh, you've got to be kidding," Sakura said, rolling her eyes at his blank expression. "It wasn't even a year ago. Remember, it started raining—"
"And my place was closer, so we decided to wait out the storm there. We went upstairs, and you wanted to make coffee," he said softly. She relaxed now that she knew he'd been kidding. "You were all puckered and shivering, and your hair was dripping in your face, and your makeup was streaked, and the green blouse I'd brought you from Hong Kong was ruined." His hand gently brushed aside her auburn hair. "But the rain-soaked color matched your eyes perfectly. I thought that you were the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen." His voice dropped to a hoarse whisper as he continued. "And I was so in love with you, so much that it scared me, but the way you were looking at me—"
She stopped him by putting a finger to his lips. "You remember all that?"
"Of course." He took her hand in both of his and squeezed it tightly. "I swear I'm going to make today up to you."
"I think you just did." The carriage stopped at the top of the ferris wheel, and like that first time years ago, they kissed as the world stood still below them. And he kept kissing her until she felt dizzy, like the wheel had been spinning around and around forever. So dizzy that she didn't even notice when the wheel did finally begin moving again.
The ride attendant had to knock on the glass door to break them apart.
When they arrived at Syaoran's apartment, yet another purple envelope was waiting for them. "You know, we could just go inside and forget this whole wild goose chase," he said, sliding an arm around her waist and giving her a suggestive smile.
Sakura was afraid to let on just how much she liked that idea. "But Tomoyo went to so much trouble. I'd hate to disappoint her."
"Well, we can't go disappointing Daidouji."
She ignored him as she read the last clue.
You're almost there
Just one more stop
But the tricky thing is
You both have to walk.
"That doesn't even rhyme," Syaoran groaned.
At the bottom of the note was a comically drawn map, featuring caricatures of a smiling Sakura and a scowling Syaoran. The giant arrows pointed to a familiar building on a familiar street. "That's my house," Sakura said.
"Then we could have avoided this whole thing and just gone there in the first place."
"I thought it was fun. Didn't you think it was fun?" She'd loved remembering the things they'd been through together, the way their relationship had grown and evolved since they were ten years old. That made it eleven years they'd known each other, but she felt like she'd known him forever. And at the same time, it didn't seem like it could possibly have been so long.
"Yeah, I did," he agreed, and he kissed her again, making her almost reconsider his offer to go inside.
They walked the short distance to her house hand in hand, silently enjoying the early evening calm and each other's comforting presence. "I know why she did this," Sakura said suddenly.
She nodded. "Tomoyo wanted to keep me away from the house all afternoon so she could throw a surprise party for me. That's what this is all about."
Syaoran gave her a measured look. "I don't think so. Wouldn't she have told me?"
"You can't keep a secret."
"Oh, really?" he asked, raising an eyebrow at her. "I bet I could."
"No, you couldn't."
"Still, I don't think there's a party."
"Good. Because I don't want one anyway."
"Good. I'm glad that's been cleared up."
The front door of the Kinomoto house was festooned with a large, colorful banner.
Congratulations, Sakura! Come inside and collect your prize!
"We're about to find out who is right, and who is you," Sakura teased as she opened the door. Syaoran followed her inside with uncharacteristic caution.
The house was empty and silent. Sakura tried to feel around for familiar auras, but Syaoran's was flaring loudly, drowning out anything more than the general feelings she always had. She couldn't tell if anyone was in the house or not. With Syaoran so close to her, and with his aura projecting like that, she couldn't focus. "I don't see anything," she said sadly. Had this been a wild goose chase after all?
"Let's check in here," Syaoran said, pulling her into the living room. But nothing was happening there, either.
"Where's my prize?" Sakura asked with a nervous giggle. "I followed all the clues. I made it to the end. Don't tell me Tomoyo forgot to leave my present."
"Oh, wait!" Syaoran said a bit too loudly. He started frantically searching through his pockets and finally pulled out a small velvet box. "Looks like I had it all along." He handed it to her, almost forcing her to take it when her shock froze her in place. "Happy birthday, Sakura."
She tentatively opened the box, and a perfect diamond glinted back at her, winking mischievously from its perch on a delicate gold band. She looked up at him curiously and saw his brown eyes regarding her so seriously, but filled with love and hope.
That was what this day had been about. All the time they'd had together, all the memories, all the million little reasons she loved him so much... those were more precious than any gift. And now, there was a magical future waiting for them, ready to begin this very second.
As Syaoran took her left hand, she knew her answer was already shining in her eyes.
Tomoyo watched silently from the kitchen, letting her camcorder capture Sakura's joyful squeal and Syaoran's relieved laughter. She smiled as she fondly looked at the gold band on her own finger and hoped Touya wouldn't be too upset with her for helping Syaoran with his elaborate plan. And if he was, he would just have to get over it.
Everyone would be coming over soon for the party, and she had some final preparations to make, but Tomoyo let the camera run a few moments more before announcing her presence to the couple. This was the last tape she'd ever make. But once edited together with scenes from the places they'd visited today and some fitting music, it would make a wonderful wedding gift.