:: A/N It's not the usual syao cheery fluffy ficcie since this is an updated version of my early E+T works in my tattered notebooks. This is just to give you guys a different syao-chan E+T take, and well, I'm not sure if you'll accept it, but…

…er, just read on.

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"…So she drank those pills. Fortunately, she was quickly brought to the hospital, but the baby didn't make it," narrated Li Syaoran to Eriol Hiiragizawa as they walked towards Daidouji Tomoyo's private room.

"How is she doing?" asked Eriol.

Li shook his head. "Not too well, I'm afraid. She was terribly shaken up by the first incident already, but the death of the baby tore her apart."

Eriol cursed under his breath. The "first incident" Li was referring to was when Tomoyo was raped one fateful night in her house while her housemates were away. The primary suspect was her boyfriend, Hyoshi Akagi, but he was released de to lack of concrete proof. The rape, however, caused the pregnancy of Tomoyo, and she refused to have her child aborted.

"But why did she try to commit suicide? Tomoyo is a God-fearing person!" Li looked completely baffled.

Eriol had to agree with him. "Tomoyo is a lot stronger than that." In his mind flashed the memory of his former classmate in Tomoeda Elementary School. Cheerful, spirited Tomoyo who, in some ways, he had grown endeared to.

Syaoran looked at him quietly. "Maybe…maybe you can help us…get her back." Only he and the little wolf knew about Tomoyo's confession to him some years ago before he left for London.

He nodded. "I'll…do my very, very best."

They entered the next room and found Kinomoto Sakura fast asleep on the visitor's chair beside her best friend's bed. Tomoyo, on the other hand, was staring at the ceiling blankly, eyes swollen.

Li woke his girlfriend up. "Sakura, Hon, let's go home."

The emerald eyes of the girl darted to her friend first before rubbing her eyes sleepily. "Gee, I fell asleep." She grinned sheepishly.

He kissed the tip of her nose fondly. "You deserve some rest, Hon. You've been awake the whole night."

Eriol averted his eyes from the sweet display of affection of the couple. He instead walked towards the window and tied the curtains to let some sunlight in.

"What do you say if we take our breakfast downstairs, Hon?" continued Syaoran, glancing at him. "He has a lot to talk about with Tomoyo."

She glanced at Eriol with reluctance. "H-Hi." He gave her a nod to acknowledge her.

"Let's go, Hon." Li gently pulled her out of the room, but not without throwing the Englishman a look.

After gazing at her friend worriedly, Sakura followed her boyfriend out of the room.

~*~*~*~

           Tomoyo slowly turned her weary eyes at the tall, blue-haired man leaning by the window.

           Another investigator? She was tired of all their endless queries and coaxes.

           "Tell me what happened," said the policeman who first arrived in the scene.

           "Tell us what happened," said the paramedics.

           "Tell me what happened, baby," pleaded her mother, Sonomi.

           "Tomoyo-chan, what happened?" her best friend, Sakura, asked tearfully.

           She buried her head on her hands, wanting to shut out those persistent voices wanting to know what happened.

           "I don't want to remember!!!" her mind screamed. "God. I don't want to go back to that night again!!!" Tears spilled form her eyes painfully.

           Suddenly, she felt something warm touch her cheek, trace its path down to her jaw, and tip it up gently. She opened her eyes and found herself face-to-face with the person she least expected to see at this time and place.

"Why are you crying?" he asked inaudibly.

She froze, her heartbeat racing.

Why?

WHY?

Tell me what happened.

Tell ME what happened.

TELL ME!

WHY?

WHAT HAPPENED?

Almost instantly, her mind exploded with images of torn clothes and sounds of merciless laughter, then the excruciating pain that she knew symbolized the loss of one thing she could never get back again. Sobs escaped from her throat until she started losing herself in the terror and her own senseless wails.

~*~*~*~

Eriol turned his back on the sniffling woman as the nurse administered a tranquilizer on the patient. He berated himself fir causing Tomoyo's outage.

I should have been more sensitive. Oh, damn!

"She'll be fine, Atty. Hiiragizawa. She'll doze off for a few hours though," informed the nurse, batting her eyelashes at him.

"Thank you, nurse," he replied politely, pretending to not notice her not-so-subtle flirting.

"Oh, but you can call me Rui, Sir," she purred, placing her clipboard in front of her not-so-subtle chest.

"Very well, Rui. I think your duty to the patient is done. Your presence is not needed here anymore," he said quietly. He had no time to entertain these kinds of women—he needed to think. Now.

The nurse frowned, then turned her back on him proudly. "Gay," he heard her mutter.

If the situation was different, he could have relished that with a chuckle. His eyes then fell on Tomoyo, and he exhaled deeply.

Her eyes were shut, her breathing even. But peace of mind was far from her facial expression. Even in her sleep, it seemed that her nightmare still lingered.

He silently touched her cheeks with his finger, tracing the path of her tears. "Good God, why you, Daidouji-san? Why?" he murmured, compassion filling his soul. "You do not deserve this fate…not someone like you."

The woman before him was an empty shell of the eleven-year-old girl who would stare at him from faraway when she thought he wasn't aware. The girl who looked so alive, so sweet, so gentle. The girl who would carry a melody of kindness for anyone any given time. The flustered girl who, in an outburst, shouted out to him that she liked him a lot right before he boarded the bus that would take him and his companions to the airport.

"Daidouji-san…" His eyes softened. "It'll be OK. I'll make everything OK, I promise you that."

~*~*~*~

"What?!" Kaho Mizuki Kinomoto was shocked.

"You heard me," Eriol said calmly as they watched from afar the burial ceremony of the deceased child of Tomoyo. "I will re-open the case. This is the only way I could bring justice to the child's death and to help Tomoyo go on with her life."

Kaho looked very uncertain. "I don't know, Eriol. I saw firsthand how Tomoyo suffered from the court trials. The media men, the publicity, the gossips, and her personal pains of going over in detail again of what happened that night…everyday was a living nightmare to her."

He nodded. "I am well aware of that." He slipped his hands into the pocket of his black coat. "But the memories of that fateful night will haunt her forever all the same if she maintains her silence. Only she knows the truth, and it follows that only she can set herself free from her own ghosts."

The scarlet-haired woman eyed him curiously. "You do know that you're just looking for trouble, don't you? Her case us a difficult one because all the evidences point to sexual intercourse with consent. To make it worse, there are no witnesses aside from herself, and she still won't talk! Even her former lawyer – one of the best in Japan – gave up on her! Are you sure you're up to this?"

He fixed the bridge of his eyeglasses. "But of course. I will never fight a battle I know I can't win." He walked towards Tomoyo when he saw the crowd dissipating. Rain had fallen, and almost everyone was heading for their respective vehicles already.

~*~*~*~

Sakura embraced her second cousin sorrowfully. "T-Tomoyo-chan, let's go." When she got no reply, she turned to Li Syaoran. He shook his head as if saying "Let her be".

The brown-haired Sakura looked back at her friend. She was going to try just one more time. "Tomoyo-chan, I-it's raining. You might catch a flu."

Silence.

"Tomoyo…" Sakura began crying again. Li was about to put his hand on her shoulder when Tomoyo spoke up.

"Go home already. I'll just stay a little longer to pray for Reiji." Her broken voice barely registered in the chilly air. Her shaking hand touched the gravestone. Daidouji Reiji. He deserved no other surname but hers. He was her child alone. Hers.

Sakura was about to protest when Li touched her shoulder. "We'll see you tomorrow, Daidouji."

Tomoyo nodded gratefully as Li guided his girlfriend away. They passed by the blue-haired Englishman who was going the opposite way. They exchanged nods and went on their way.

~*~*~*~

Tomoyo knelt in front of her son's tomb, trembling. The wind was harsh and cold, but it was nothing compared to the coldness in her heart. The cold feeling of being alone. The cold feeling of guilt. The cold feeling of hopelessness.

"Oh Reiji…I love you so much…so very, very much, sweetheart…" she sobbed quietly. "I know you may never forgive me, but Reiji, I do love you. I didn't mean to kill you…never did…it's just that…my…my doctor told me of your problem. The irreparable hole in your heart…that you'll die even if I give birth to you. I was a coward…I would rather have the both of us die. But I lived."

"I lived…and it hurts me so much, baby…" She shut her eyes, hiccupping. "Oh baby, I want to die right now…please take me with you now…"

"Stop saying nonsense."

She felt someone kneel down with her, and something shield her above her head.

Eriol Hiiragizawa and his umbrella. Tomoyo shook her head slowly. She didn't need this one now.

"Go away," she hissed, her face hardening.

He didn't even turn her way. Instead, he made the sign of the cross and murmured a quick prayer. This silenced her for a while as she gazed tearfully at his solemn profile.

Ten long years, and all of a sudden, he was kneeling beside her, as if sharing her pain and burden. It was surreal.

Yet every feature of the matured version of the eleven-year-old boy who first introduced her to infatuation was real. Breathtakingly real.

She turned her eyes to her son's grave, cursing herself. This was not the proper venue for her to entertain these silly thoughts. She was silently thankful when he finally ended his prayer.

"Will you now go, Hiiragizawa-kun?" she asked.

He turned to her, forehead creased. "I came here as a civil person to express my condolences. I don't deserve to be treated so rudely."

"Look, I'm tired. What do you want?" she hissed, eyes crinkling in anger. He was invading her space, her moment, her thoughts. She hated him. HATED him.

"You ask me what I want?" he asked, shaking his head in disbelief. "I want you OUT OF HERE. It's raining like hell, and you're going to get a cold!"

"It's none of your busi—"

He held his hand up, motioning for her to shut up. "If you think killing yourself slowly in front of your child's grave will make things better, then you're wrong. Get up!"

She glared at him. "You don't understand, Hiiragizawa Eriol. You can never understand what a mother feels!"

"Because I'll never be a mother." Eriol shook his head. "I'll never understand, not in a million years. But I understand sadness. I understand losing someone I love dearly. And it hurts like hell, I know." His eyes mellowed. "But hurting myself will not bring things back, or even make the pain go away."

"I don't need a guidance counselor. I don't need YOU. Get out! Out!!!" she hollered, earning them looks from the crowd not too far from them. "You don't know anything…you have no right to tell me what to do…" she wept mournfully. "I didn't lose my Reiji…I killed him…" She collapsed against his waiting arms, fatigued. "I killed him…" she whispered wearily.

"Hush. God knows your heart, and Reiji does too. Be still, Daidouji-san." His gentle words were like balm to her wounded soul. And so, when she felt him help her up, she raised no protest anymore. She was tired, and for the first time in her life, she actually felt free to close her eyes and rest. In serenity.

~*~*~*~

"Here." Eriol handed her a steaming cup of coffee. She accepted it quietly, not knowing what to say.

They were quiet for a while, trying to gauge the tension. Finally, he cleared his throat.

"I had no milk, so the coffee had to be straight black."

"I-I don't mind."

"And my coffeemaker broke down too. That's instant coffee."

"I-It tastes fine."

"More sugar?"

"N-No, this is ok."

It was mundane a topic, but it was something to break the silence. She stirred the coffee pensively, wondering what to say next. Should they talk about brewed coffee? Three-in-one coffee? The better creamer between powdered milk and Coffemate?

She had never felt this stressed about maintaining conversations. She always had something to talk about, no matter the time and place.

But now that she needed that talent most, she found herself lacking. She glanced at Eriol Hiiragizawa again, who was gazing at his own drink somewhat distractedly.

He must have something in mind.

She blew softly on the cup and took a sip. It scorched her tongue, but she couldn't care less. She was anticipating Eriol's words. She waited for the inevitable question.

"While I was praying for Reiji awhile ago, I talked to him too," he suddenly said, making her look up.

"Y-You did?" she asked after she had recovered from his abrupt words.

"I promised him something very, very important." He turned to her, eyeing her earnestly. "I promised him that I would take over his job of making sure that his Mommy will be happy."

Her eyes widened.

"I also promised him justice for both of you. I will make that man who wronged you both pay dearly." His every word rung out with conviction, and with a sinking heart, she knew that this would lead to only one thing.

"I want to re-open the case, Daidouji-san."

She got up violently, breathing harshly. "Y-You can't do that! I-It's double jeopardy! The case was closed!" She knew that a man couldn't be sued for the same crime twice.

"Then we'll go to the higher court," he said calmly. "Listen, Daidouji-san. I met with the prosecutor of your case and had asked for his notes. The only reason he lost the case was you refused to say something to crush the circumstantial evidences!"

"I'm not going through it again!" she said firmly.

"Don't you want justice?"

"I want everyone to leave me alone!"

"And have you lived in this nightmare forever, huh? To have your son's ghost haunt you all your life? Is that how you want to live the rest of your life, Daidouji-san?"

She could feel her tears threatening to rush down again. "This is the price I have to pay for killing my son…"

"It doesn't have to be that way, Daidouji-san." He sighed. "You're right. Your life is not my business. You choose to be miserable, and I can do nothing about that." He looked at her intently. "But what I'm offering you is once in a lifetime. A chance to release yourself from your destructive grief. Just tell the truth, and leave the rest to me."

She fell silent.

He stirred his coffee wordlessly afterwards, giving her the time to think things over.

"Just the truth…and I'll be happy," she heard herself say. "Free."

He nodded.

"Free…" She placed her cup down and leaned back on the sofa. She had made her decision.

~*~*~*~

Sakura rushed into the main office of her aunt, desperate to find her. Syaoran just told her of Tomoyo's decision, and she wanted to stop her cousin from doing that.

No, never again would she stand by the sidelines as she watched her cousin live through the horror of the trial again.

She will listen to Aunt Sonomi. She's her mother.

"Good morning, Ms. Kinomoto," greeted the receptionist politely.

"I-Is Aunt Sonomi here?" she asked.

"Oh yes, she is. She's having a meeting with her people now though. Why don't you take your seat and wait for her—"

Just then, the door opened, and out came her aunt along with hurrying exhausted-looking people. She was still talking with her assistant and her bookkeeper though.

"Auntie!" she called before she could stop herself.

Daidouji Sonomi turned to her, surprised. She nodded, then turned to the two. "I'll talk to you both again tomorrow."

"I can't make it!" cried the assistant Sakura vaguely remembered as Kaoru. "I've got a date!"

"And it's my daughter's recital," said the bookkeeper shyly. Sakura recalled that she was Sagome Minako.

Both women used to be linked to her second cousin's boyfriend who was…well…one of the people who thinks of himself as God's gift to women. She sighed. She never liked Hyoshi Akagi for her best friend, even when he was polite to her and Li the first time they met, and the meetings that followed. Now she knew why.

"Alright, the day after tomorrow. Our topic is urgent. U-R-G-E-N-T." Sonomi excused herself and went to Sakura. "Hi dear! Is there anything I can do for you?"

"It's about Tomoyo. She's having the case revived."

~*~*~*~

DAIDOUJI RAPE CASE RE-OPENS.

Eriol rolled the tabloid and threw it back into the compartment. He turned to Tomoyo, who was looking at the court with raw fear in her eyes.

"Ready?" he asked.

She turned to him, her lilac eyes pleading him to assure her once more that everything would be fine. He obliged. He squeezed her shoulder reassuringly, then got out of the car. Tomoyo did the same.

The media immediately spotted her. The crowd began to race towards her excitedly.

Eriol immediately put his arms around his client, shielding her from the camera flashes and the persistent reporters.

"Ms. Daidouji, do you hope to win this case, this time with a new lawyer?"

"Ms. Daidouji, what do you feel right now?"

"They said you miscarried your child. Have you talked to Hyoshi about this?"

"No comment! Out of the way!" snapped Eriol, leading himself and Tomoyo into the courtroom. Fortunately, the Daidouji Bodyguards came in time to help him marshal the crowd of onlookers and media men.

Tomoyo suddenly felt claustrophobic as memories of the past trial flooded her mind. The looks of pity, mockery, and suspicion from the people in the court. The smirk of Hyoshi. The confusing, intimidating interrogation of the lawyers that nearly made her break down helplessly in tears.

Why did I let myself go through this again?

"Daidouji-san," she heard him murmur. "We're in the courtroom now."

She opened her eyes, and indeed, they were. He assisted her into her seat as they waited for the start of the trial.

~*~*~*~

"Not guilty," said Hyoshi Akagi.

Tomoyo clenched her fists as she controlled her tears.

~*~*~*~

"Court session is adjourned until eight am next Monday," said the judge before pounding on the gravel.

Eriol got up and fixed his briefcase. Tomoyo observed the many pieces of legal pad paper that he had written on, and she couldn't help but hope that maybe, just maybe, he would win her the case.

"Atty. Hiiragizawa, Ms. Daidouji?"

The two turned around and found the defense lawyer smiling at them.

"Yes, Atty. Makoto?" He paused from his work.

"My client heard about your client's miscarriage, and he expresses his condolences. He says that he wishes your child to bear his family name in the death certificate…"

"Reiji is MY son ALONE. His father died the day Reiji was created." Tomoyo unclasped her hands.

"Which we all know is not true. As his living biological father, he has the right to make claim on the child."

"He is not a father. He is a rapist!" Her breathing started to turn violent. "He ruined my future. He ruined Reiji."

The lawyer gazed at her for a while, then shrugged. "Well then, I'll let my client know that. Good day." Atty. Makoto headed for the exit, where Hyoshi was waiting.

~*~*~*~

"Still upset?" The voice of Hiiragizawa Eriol snapped her from her trance. They were seated in the car, waiting for the media to dissipate.

She paused, then sighed audibly.

"What was that for?" he asked.

"You know what? I hate you. I hate you for making me go through this again," she said, looking at him straight in the eye. He didn't flinch. She continued. "Awhile ago in the court, it was like a replay of the past trial. Without new evidences, the case will go nowhere."

"I still have the best evidence, Daidouji-san. You."

She bit her lip. "I'm so tired with all these things. And it's only for today. What about the coming days?"

"Battles worth fighting for are never easy. We get wounded, but that should only make us braver." He played with his car key. "This is not your fight alone. This is for your child too. This is for the other women who are victims like you. This is for the people who cares for you."

She laughed a little. "When you talk like that…I remember my transferee classmate from London back in elementary. The boy who always talks in riddles."

"That boy was your first crush," he stated matter-of-factly.

This made her blush hotly. "Ah…we were just kids then. We do the silliest of things…"

"Yeah."

"That boy remains in my hard-profiled lawyer," she said after awhile. "You're so idealistic, and so sure that the world will revolve your way. That good will always overcome evil, and that the world can live happily ever after."

"Is that wrong?" he asked gently.

"It's not real."

"You've lost faith, Daidouji-san," he said quietly. "Just because some things go wrong doesn't mean that generally, life is wrong. A noble and great person once said that a few drops of dirty water doesn't make the whole ocean dirty." He smiled. "There are still reasons to believe, like Sakura-san, Daidouji-sama, my ever-so-delightful descendant…" And me.

She blinked, then shook her head smilingly. "That's another reason why I hate you. Your riddles can shake my convictions up so easily."

He chuckled as well. "Don't worry, Daidouji-san. We'll take the court battle day at a time. Don't think of tomorrow and yesterday—they don't mean a thing. Just hold on, alright?"

"Will you be there for me?" she asked quietly.

"I'll be there…and I'm here too," he replied smilingly.

"OK." Tomoyo shut her eyes, and Eriol proceeded to start the engine.

"Hey Hiiragizawa-kun, you…you never told me why you took up Law."

"It was meant to be." He shifted gears as he drove away from the parking lot. "And it was the only college department in our university that has not closed its enrollment yet."

~*~*~*~

Eriol loosened his necktie as he went over his notes again. The facts were: a) Daidouji Tomoyo and Hyoshi Akagi were a couple; b) the night of the crime at nine in the evening, a phone call was recorded in the Akagi residence. The call came from the Daidouji residence; c) neighbors saw Akagi enter the Daidouji mansion at nine thirty pm the same night; e) no screams, sounds and signs of struggles were heard.

So far, Tomoyo hadn't said anything else other than her former statements in the first trial. He was frustrated—he knew Tomoyo was holding back, and thus, making it impossible for him to present new angles and motivations for the crime.

He sighed. He knew that recounting incidents of crime was painful, but the truth was the only way out of this nightmare. Now if only he could make Daidouji Tomoyo understand that…

Heck, if he failed to do that, he could have just thrown his future in Law out of the proverbial window, but then…

The very moment Li phoned him about her suicide attempt, he caught the next plane to Japan. He resigned from his job as a corporate lawyer in one of the fastest growing lending companies in the country and flew back to Tomoeda, and it was only there that he was filled in with the details. The incident, the disastrous first trial, and her suicide attempt.

It was absurd for a corporate lawyer to suddenly become a criminal lawyer, but when he learned about the injustice to his friend and how she took it, he was moved into reopening the case. He was warned by Tomoyo's former lawyer how difficult a client she was, but he didn't care.

She was more than a client—she was a friend. A very dear friend at that.

And he would move heaven and hell to secure justice for her and for Reiji, even at the risk of his own career.

Suddenly, his cellphone rang. He promptly answered the call.

"Hi Master!" greeted Nakuru.

Eriol groaned. "Good evening, Nakuru."

"Suppi's here with me too!"

"Then give my greeting to Spinel too."

"You're going OT again?" she asked.

"Overtimes are inevitable in a lawyer's work, Nakuru." He stretched lazily. "Ah well, how are you two today?"

"Well, this morning, Suppi, Yuki, and I went to the park for a picnic. Naturally, the food was not enough."

 "Naturally," agreed Eriol.

"Yuki-chan and I reached for the same slice of cake at the same time, and I could see the raw HUNGER in his eyes. He really, REALLY wanted the last piece, but being the gentleman he was, he gave way to me. It was lots and lots of fun! There was a pretty, pretty sun, and frolicking we did with so much—"

Wrong question, thought Eriol wryly. "I'm glad to hear that. Oh but hey, have you checked on his background already?"

"Hyoshi's? Oh yes, job's done, Master. I'll email you his bio later."

He grinned. Nakuru was his most reliable researcher to date. A sneaky woman, she had ways of obtaining information that even he, her master, could not fathom. "Thank you, Nakuru. I'll bring you ice cream tonight."

"Make it choco marble!" Busy tone ensued.

~*~*~*~

"You'll never find anything incriminating in Hyoshi's background," said Tomoyo dryly when she was informed by him of the latest development in his investigation. She played with her car keys. "He's got a spotless bio."

Eriol couldn't argue with that as he went through the documents Nakuru had just sent him. The guy was every inch a good citizen—responsible worker, amiable son, and a good taxpayer. He seemed so harmless and meek, especially in the 2x2 picture clipped to his files.

Tomoyo was looking at his documents too, her eyes hinting sadness he knew she was trying so hard to repress ever since the trial started. "Who would believe that someone like him would do such thing?"

"Like they always say: don't judge a book by its cover," he grinned. "Because you are not a judge."

Tomoyo blinked, then laughed quietly. "That was lame, Hiiragizawa-kun."

His eyes softened. "Sorry. Do you know that this is the first time I ever tried to make a girl laugh?"

She shook her head slowly, smile still on her face. "Really, huh?"

"And this won't be the last time I'll try." He gazed at her intently. "Your laughter is one of the two loveliest I've ever heard in my whole life."

"Whose laughter is the other one?"

"Sakura-san's, of course." He laughed. "For as far as I'm concerned, you two were the only girls close to me in my life."

She was quick to protest. "But Mizuki-sensei is—"

He fell silent.

"I'm sorry…" she heard herself say. "I didn't mean to intrude upon your private affairs…"

"She's beautiful when she smiles," he said, a tone of wistfulness in his voice. "But the one person who brings out her innermost laughter is not…me."

"Hiiragizawa-kun…"

"Ah, must we talk about these things?" He shook his head, sighing.

"Well, a lawyer talking to his client about his love life is a welcome novelty," she said impishly.

He groaned.

"Well, I think I'll see you tomorrow—"

"Wait!"

She paused expectantly.

His grip on the brown envelope tightened. He should tell her now what his real intention was in taking her out to lunch. That he had to get her story already on the incident because it would soon be her turn on the stand, and that they must both prepare.

"Hiiragizawa-kun, what is it?"

He gazed at her for what seemed like eternity before he spoke up.

"How about one round of table hockey?"

~*~*~*~

They ended up in the amusement center of the mall. After purchasing tokens, they went straight to the table hockey booth.

Eriol slid his coat off and rolled his sleeves up. "Nakuru introduced me to this exciting sport some weeks ago. The adrenalin rush it gives me when I run after the disk is incomparable."

She giggled. "My, you're hooked to this game!"

He inserted the tokens and took his mouse-like pan. "Alright, let's see how good your reflexes are."

She did the same as she got ready to serve the disk.

With a graceful flick of her wrist, she sent the disk sliding like a bullet in the corners of the smooth tabletop before plunging into the pocket holes at the corner of Eriol's side in the table.

He blinked. "OK, beginner's luck."

She laughed. "Right."

~*~*~*~

As he watched the laughing woman in front of him, he found his resolve to continue his legal counsel duty faithfully melt.

No, he didn't have the heart to ask her about the incident—to force her to narrate again what happened that night. No, he had worked so hard to make her smile this way again.

He couldn't stand to see her anguish and silent sufferings again. He had somehow caught a glimpse of the old Daidouji Tomoyo back, and he would be damned if she would revert to her coldness.

What the hell should I do?

"Hiiragizawa-kun?"

"Y-Yes?"

"We should do this again some other time," she said shyly. "It feels good."

He smiled back. Indeed, it did feel good. It was a good thing he asked her out to lunch today.

~*~*~*~

Eriol stopped the car in front of the gates of the Daidouji mansion.

"Thanks again for the free lunch…and the eight table hockey victories you gave me," she said smilingly.

"The lunch is fine, but those wins…" he kidded.

She laughed, then bowed. "Thank you so much, Hiiragizawa-kun. You…you gave back a part of me that I thought I had lost already."

"Daidouji-san…"

Her eyes glistened with tears. "But you know, you shouldn't be this kind." She forced a smile. "I'm warning you, I might start depending on you too much, and when the time comes for you to go away…" She buried her head on his shoulder, trembling. "… I might have difficulties taking that well."

He didn't know what to say or do. He just stared at her, helpless. The last thing he would do was to push her away, but he couldn't hold her close either. The invisible wall still stood between them—he was a lawyer who was out to do his job no matter what, and she was his client.

But good Lord, he wanted to reach out to her and take her pains and ease her burdens and kiss those tears away.

"I-I'm sorry. I-I didn't mean to sound like a brat." Her eyes roved around the glove compartment. He wordlessly handed her a box of tissues. She took it gratefully.

"Don't mind me," she continued when she had recovered her composure. "You know how sentimental I could get…"

"Daidouji-san, listen—"

"Y-You need my account on the crime, right?" she asked. "They told me that I was next on the hot seat." She leaned back on the car seat, lilac eyes pensive.

"You must tell them what really happened, Daidouji-san," he said gently.

"Nobody would believe me. Hyoshi and I were dating—"

"Did you really love the guy?" he asked.

She blinked. "Will that be asked when I get cross-examined?"

He felt colors flood his face. "N-No…I mean, yes! M-Maybe…" He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. "I'm just curious," he said out of having no alibi to present.

She looked puzzled, but she didn't ask anymore. "He was a good friend. He was fun to be with."

"I see."

She took a deep breath before she shakily launched on her narration of what happened that night.

Her mother was at a meeting with her people, and one of her mom's assistants dropped by to tell her that she should just go over to Sakura's house for the night. She decided to just stay in the house and finish the book she was reading. She was about to sleep then when she heard the door open.

A light switched off.

Her racing heartbeat.

No, it wasn't supposed to be happening. She was all alone in the house that night. No maids, no Daidouji Sonomi.

Then a chain of events startled her. The sudden weight on top of her, the capsule that was forced into her mouth, the feeling of weakness, the helplessness that washed all over her as she heard the sound of ripped clothes and felt unwelcomed hands violating her body.

And the excruciating pain of something forcing itself into her. She could never forget how she was torn apart by that moment when she felt she lost something she would never get back again.

She then realized as she slowly broke from her trance that she was sobbing…but not out of sadness. She was angry…angry at herself for not facing this pain sooner, or for knowing the truth and suppressing it out of cowardice.

Then she felt his hand touch her shoulders lightly, uncertainly. She met his gaze and saw so much compassion in them that she knew he was not just a lawyer anymore.

He cared.

Really cared.

"I can't make everything alright, Daidouji-san," he said quietly. "Even the highest form of my magic couldn't."

She nodded.

"But you should know that I do intend to stand behind you in all your decisions…in front of you to protect you from foreseeable pain…and beside you to share all your burdens." He smiled. "Whether you like it or not, I have laid claim to all of the three dimensions you possess."

She knew his words rung true.

Just when she thought she had found the last piece of brick on her wall around her life, he had found a hole and crept through it, catching her off-guard.

Naked with emotions she masked so well.

Stark naked.

Damn him.

And damn her heart too, for it wouldn't stay still.

~*~*~*~

The next day, Eriol watched his client intently as she stood in front of the people, retelling the incident on her account. Beside her, the defense counsel paced back and forth, alert for any implicating statements from her.

"I see," he commented at last when she finished. "Now tell me, Miss Daidouji, is it true that you have problems…ah…sleeping?"

"Sleeping?"

"What I mean to say is, you have a case of insomnia, am I correct?"

"Yes."

"Good, because I have talked to your physician and had verified that." He showed the court a piece of paper bearing the logo of the Daidouji family's physician. "In fact, your doctor also said you are taking medication when the need arises."

"And awhile ago, you also said something about a pill that weakened you." He picked up some foils of used medicine. "This is an example of her medicines. Upon closer inspection, we can see that the property of the medicine contains anti-depressant."

"Anti-depressant?" Eriol's forehead creased. Was Tomoyo suffering from emotional issues so serious that her health was being affected too?

"Your medicine also states that this can induce sleep. Heavy sleep, in fact." He nodded. "And from the sample taken from your body in your examination, it was found out that a trace of this chemical was found. Could it be that you had taken this medicine voluntarily and not by force? That you took this before you went to bed with him?"

"Objection!" yelled Eriol, on his feet at once. "He is jumping to conclusions!"

"Objection sustained. Rephrase your questions, Counsel Makoto," ordered the judge.

"Very well." He faced Tomoyo once more. "Let's leave the pill part. Police said there was no sign of struggle in the room. You said there were torn clothes, but the police found none, and you said in your affidavit that no one touched your room until the authorities arrived. What do you think that means, Miss Daidouji?"

"Do you really want to know what I think of it?" she asked back.

"Objection! He is leading my client!" called Eriol once more.

"The witness had already answered," said the judge. "Proceed, Miss Daidouji."

"I think this is all a piece of bull—"

"Recess, Your Honor," interrupted Eriol, eyeing his client warningly. She looked away, but it was evident that she was angry. Very, very angry.

"Alright. Ten minutes, then all should be back in here," said the judge warily.

~*~*~*~

"Daidouji-san, don't do this," Eriol pleaded as he watched her stony profile leaning on the glass window of the hallway. "You'll only make the other side happy."

"As if they aren't already," she said sourly. "I don't think I can have any more of these endless questions. And how dare they reveal my medical records!" Tears welled up her eyes. "I was just using those anti-depressants while I was going through something difficult. I was really hurt when I learned that my boyfriend was seeing another woman behind my back while people were laughing at me."

"H-He was seeing another woman? Oh damn…"

"But now everyone thinks I'm a screwed-up woman who depend on drugs to keep me sane…" She clenched her fists. "Good Lord, what will they think of digging up next? My mother? My father? My Sakura videotape collection?"

"It's a mudfight, Daidouji-san," he said slowly. "The lawyer must have been desperate already, so he resorted to eroding your credibility. Don't let him get into you." He clasped her hand gently and leaned towards her ear. "He's a grade-A asshole, I'm afraid. But you are better than that. Much, much better than him, so don't stoop to his level."

Her eyes widened, and she laughed quietly. "That sounded good," she whispered back. "I think I'm ok now."

"Good." He grinned. "Let's go back in there. Hyoshi's next in the line of fire." He winked conspiratorially at her. "And I'm holding the rifle."

~*~*~*~

"At about nine, Tomoyo called me up, saying she was alone and that she needed company," began Hyoshi.

"At exactly what time did she make that call?" asked Eriol, his steely blue eyes searching the man intently.

"I'm not sure. It's nine something. I don't exactly have the most timezone-correct watch, you know," replied Hyoshi cheekily.

"Mr. Hyoshi, was that night your first inter course with her?" he asked. From the audience, he could clearly hear Tomoyo's stifled gasp.

Akagi didn't expect that question so he threw a panicked look at his lawyer, who gestured something to him. "W-Well, yes."

"The first time. THE first intercourse, which you insist is CONSENTED. Tell me, Mr. Hyoshi, how did you IMMEDIATELY know that when she called you up, saying she was alone and that she needed company meant that she wanted to get laid?"

The man hesitated, then spoke. "A guy always knows."

The defense lawyer winced. Eriol smiled in satisfaction. The rule of the thumb for any untruthful witness – NEVER talk in extremes.

He proceeded with his examination. "Was that the first time she called you up, asking for company?"

"Ah…" His eyes averted the Londoner's.

"Answer my question, Mr. Hyoshi. Was that the first time she phoned you, wanting some company?"

Hyoshi shrugged. "No. But it was the first time she called me at night. That should mean something."

"She doesn't usually call you at night. So when you received that call, the first thing that came into your mind was she wants you in her bed, is that it?" he asked testily.

"N-No!"

"Then what, Mr. Hyoshi?"

Now the man looked confused. "I…I don't know…"

"What?" Eriol eyed him mockingly. "But a guy ALWAYS knows, doesn't he, Mr. Hyoshi?"

When the guy didn't answer, he continued his interrogation. "Awhile ago, you told us here that this wasn't the first time she called you up, wanting your presence. So when you do show up, what kind of comforting do you do? Was it sexual in nature?"

Akagi shook his head.

"Yes or no, Mr. Hyoshi."

"N-No."

"Alright. So that night, if both of you weren't into a sexual relationship, how did you end up in bed?"

"Well, a guy's gotta start somewhere, right?" he asked sheepishly, eliciting mumbles of laughter from the spectators.

"A more elaborated answer shall be appreciated by the court, Mr. Hyoshi," replied Eriol coldly. "And please, your coyness is not cute."

"Tell your client to answer the questions properly, Counsel Makoto, or the court will file Contempt against him," agreed the judge.

The defense lawyer nodded curtly and turned to Hyoshi. The latter nodded in meek comprehension.

"I repeat the question, Mr. Hyoshi. How did you and Miss Daidouji end up in bed?"

"She seduced me," said the man matter-of-factly.

Tomoyo's face turned pink, then an angry shade of red. "How dare you!" She got up on her feet, breathing heavily. "You're a liar!!!"

"Order in the court!" The judge pounded on his gravel. "Be seated, woman, or the court will be forced to discipline you!"

Eriol turned to her, eyes ordering her to be still and trust him on this. Tomoyo reluctantly obeyed him.

"Now, was she a virgin?" Eriol asked.

"Objection, Your Honor! The question is too personal, and I see no reason how it would be relevant to the case!" protested Atty. Makoto.

"Your Honor, this is part of a string of questions that would serve as my last. I shall establish my position shortly," explained Eriol.

"Objection overruled. Hasten the interrogation though, Atty. Hiiragizawa."

"Yes, Your Honor." He faced Akagi again. "So, was she a virgin?"

"Y-Yes."

"I see." He paced back and forth. "Now let me get this straight—a VIRGIN seduced you?"

The man was caught off-guard by the statement. "S-She was depressed…maybe drunk…"

"Intoxication is definitely out of the possibilities, Mr. Hyoshi. Nothing but a sleep-inducing chemical was found in her blood," countered the lawyer. "So that makes her a sleepy AND depressed virgin who SEDUCED you. Now that makes me wonder about your lexicographical understanding about the word seduction."

"Objection! Objection!" yelled the defense, but Eriol had stepped down already.

"No more questions, Your Honor."

~*~*~*~

Eriol sat down on the driver's seat, exhausted from the session. Tomoyo refused to meet his gaze.

"We still have one more session before the decision is made," he informed her. "Then it'll be over."

Silence.

"I'll take you home now, Daidouji-san—"

A slap landed on his face. Tomoyo withdrew her hand, eyes devoid of emotion.

He touched his cheek. "What is wrong?"

"That was for asking about my virginity in public." A small smile formed in her face. "But you scored well there, Attorney."

He smiled back. "Thanks for the compliment, Daidouji-san. But do you think you could get away easily with slapping me?"

"I know I could."

"Cocky." He leaned out towards her, bridging the gap between the driver's seat and the front passenger seat with one quick move. In slow deliberation, his face tilted down towards her face.

And for the life of her, she couldn't move a muscle. She could only gaze at him, eyes wide, as he diminished the distance between their faces.

Inches before their lips touched, he paused and smiled. "I'm inviting myself to dinner in your house tonight, Daidouji-san."

"W-Wha—"

"And don't say no." He retreated, but not without her catching a glimpse of a rueful smile on his lips. "I'm grouchy when not fed."

"Just like your relatives in the zoo," she whispered, laughing.

His eyes twinkled. "Roar."

~*~*~*~

"Just as I thought. No Mom to join us in dinner." Tomoyo shook her head in exasperation. "When will a workaholic ever decide to settle down and just…stay still?" She turned to her lawyer who was helping himself with the main course. "Hiiragizawa-kun, why don't you people ever think of NOT working?"

"Because thinking means work too?" he guessed, pausing from his bites on the broiled piece of chicken meat.

"Silly." Her eyes softened. "Tell me, is Clow Reed a workaholic too?"

He frowned thoughtfully. "Well, we have to consider that he was a very powerful man who balanced the forces of the supernatural with his own judgment. He has to work all the time and keep watch over his creations."

"Just like what you used to do?"

"I still do."

"Will the Sakura cards be on the loose again?"

"I hope not. We're too old for costumes and staffs."

"How about you? Do you consider yourself a workaholic?"

He wiped his mouth with the table napkin. "I'm not obsessed with work. I can stop when I want to."

"What are the circumstances that can make you stop?" she asked curiously. "When do you know that you want to stop already?"

"When someone I…ah… when someone tells me that I should stop." His cheeks turned red, to her delight.

"Someone you…?" she couldn't help but press.

"This chicken is good. Really good." He continued with his meal. The colors in his face had subsided gradually.

"If you get married, will you stop with your job already?" she asked inquisitively.

He choked, and he reached for the glass of water hurriedly. "Really now, Daidouji-san, should you pursue the topic so eagerly?"

She laughed. "Ah, but indulge this curious young woman, will you?"

He unbuttoned his collar uncomfortably. "You know, we can talk about something else. Something relevant. Something meaningful."

"Your lovelife is neither of those?"

"Daidouji-san, PLEASE—"

She giggled. She liked teasing him. Who would have thought that someone like Hiiragizawa Eriol would squirm like this when asked with these types of questions?

He recovered from his initial embarrassment. "Now Daidouji-san, you're starting to get a bit too interested with my private affairs. Do you want me to obtain a reason from you?"

"Oops, sorry." She cleared her throat. "Awhile ago…the person you were thinking of when you said that you could stop working…she's Mizuki-sensei, isn't she?"

He gaped at her. Openly.

She started to feel silly, like she openly proclaimed to the world that one is an odd number and a kid pointed out that it wasn't odd, or even for that matter, but a prime number.

"Well?" she asked.

"Well what?" he asked back. The bridge of his eyeglasses dropped down to the tip of his nose, and she found herself drowning in the infinity of his cerulean eyes.

She then realized that she had been leaning too far out towards him. She cleared her throat self-consciously and drew back, feeling her face's increased temperature.

He looked back at his meal. "It's not Kaho," he said softly, yet not soft enough to bypass her auditory senses.

"T-Then…"

"Don't ask," he said quietly.

Her eyes lit up. "There IS someone, eh, Hi-kun?"

He groaned and rolled his eyes heavenwards, as if she was a stubborn kid who wouldn't stop asking why the sun wouldn't show up at night.

She smiled triumphantly. "I knew I was right!"

"Bask on it." He placed his spoon and fork in the four o'clock position.

"So who's she?" she asked excitedly.

He didn't reply.

"He? It?" she guessed.

"Wrong pronouns." Eriol looked up at the clock. "I better get going—"

"Wait a minute!"

"Hmm?"

"I mentioned all the third person pronouns, and they are all wrong…"

"Don't make a fuss out of it."

"They?" she tried again.

He let out a sigh of exasperation. "You. YOU."

"M-Me?" She felt her throat turn dry. Now she didn't expect THAT one.

Alright, she did. A little. But it was the nagging voice inside her heart that said that. And when it comes to things like these, she ignores it more often than not,

"Good evening, Daidouji-san. Rest, and I'll see you tomorrow." He bowed slightly and disappeared from the dining room before she could say anything.

~*~*~*~

Stupid, STUPID!

Eriol cursed himself repeatedly as he made his way to the car parked in the spacious Daidouji driveway. He just gave away something he held so secretly within him.

How could he, Hiiragizawa Eriol, had allowed himself to make a mistake as absurd as that? It was an unspoken dogma that lawyers shouldn't be emotionally attached to their clients.

But then again, Daidouji Tomoyo had never been really a client from the start.

Never really was.

He shut his eyes tight, leaning against the car door. What happened back there anyway? Just this afternoon, he was feeling fine. He mildly flirted with her as any good sane and virile man usually does. She good-naturedly responded.

Two hours later, he ran out of her house madly because he practically admitted to her that he was starting to feel for her. Feel something more than that necessary of his lawyer persona, or even friend persona.

He opened the door and laid his head back on the car seat's headrest. Maybe he was just especially vulnerable now because he was tired from today's trial. Or maybe it was the scent and feel of home in the Daidouji kitchen that did it. The chicken did taste good—Daidouji Tomoyo did it justice. (What did they say? That the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach or something to that effect?)

That, and hundreds of other random thoughts crashed into his mental system.

It was a new experience for him, feeling this panicky, this confused, this out of control…

Ergo, he was…

The ringing of the phone interrupted his flow of thoughts.

"What?" he snapped.

"Hi Master! You sound like dinner wasn't fun," said Nakuru on the other end of the line.

"It wasn't. Anyway, I'm not in the mood to talk right now—"

"Then I'll be the one to talk. Just listen." He heard the ruffling of pages. "Master, I just found out something about the Daidouji inheritance. And if my guess is right, I think we might have stumbled on something really, REALLY important."

Suddenly, he felt his exhaustion wear off. "Talk," he commanded, ready to listen again.

:: finale out soon ::

***************************************************

Syao's Free Talk a.k.a. skip this part because you'll get bored

Part I = DEDICATION and THANK YOUs

           I dedicate my E+T stories first of all, to the authors who inspired me to write them. My number one PHR pocketbook idol, Ms. Rose Tan, as well as to the author of the first E+T story I've read (I'll Always Be By You is the title, if my memory serves me right), Hikari (I think Megori is her pen name now, I'm not sure ) ^^. She created the E+T FanStation (changed to Only Dreams) which, believe it or not, I flamed ^^;;. (The proud S+S fan I was, I supported canon couples only. I dunno if she still remembers me though. I wrote her a "polite flame", only to realize months later that her site…um…ROCKS!). Her fic and site warmed me up to the pairing.

           I also thank the author of the rib-tickling heartwarming Icebreakers. No words could describe how awesome this fic is. Just go read it if you haven't (though I doubt it if you don't know that one!) That fic inspired me to incorporate humor into my E+Ts and not be afraid of it.

           My thanks also to Ate Ekai (Ate is Big Sister in my language; I did NOT eat Ekai Ungson-sama). Just for writing lovely pieces of E+T and setting standards for how E+T should be written, I thank you. Idol kita, Ate Ekai!

           TY 'Te Kaye, my bratty sis whose E+T fanaticism converted me into a believer of this pairing too. She became my beta-reader for my early works, and my industrious reader as time passed. Syet na malagket, tenks kiks!

           Arigatou to Kyte-chan, my favorite chatmate who has better memory regarding my fics than I do. More than that though, she was a very cool friend who wouldn't mind my utter senselessness in chats, and would love to listen to my own lovelife tales as if they were fanfics themselves ^^. Mwah! Thanks, from me and your favorite Asakura Hao-san!

           Maraming Salamat to Omi and Meggy, my two pals whom I rarely get to chat because SOMEBODY introduced me to playing Ragnarok and now I basically come online just to play Ragna! :p Anyway, thank you guys for reading some of my earlier E+T works that well...um…suck, and still you enjoyed. *sob* Salamaaaaaat!!!!!!

           Thanks to Fireblaze too, for sharing my E+T, Inu Yasha, and Shaman King obsession. Thanks also for the story dedications in your Yoh/Anna works. ^^ Miss ya, friend!

           I don't know if she will read this or she will still remember me, but Olga, my "drug", (friend in her language) if you're reading this, I guess I want to say thanks for the emails and for being my online pal, as well as reading my works. Thanks so very much!

           To the webmistress of cardcapt 1 Li and Sakura as well as the other sites that hosted my fics before I learned about FF.net, thank you so very much! Your wonderful comments and encouragements inspired me to continue publishing my works online and sharing my E+T obsession. More than that, just for being wonderful email pals. Thank you!

           The kind webmistress of  this S+S site in geocities with the URL of sakuraandlieforever, thank you too. You taught me how to upload in FF.net, and with that, you gave me one of the most wonderful happenings in my seventeen years of existence. Arigatou gozaimasu!

           To those who send me individual emails, signed my guestbook in my site, tagged me, Imed me, reviewed my fics, etc. etc., THANK YOU! Your mails cheered me up all the time, and help me out when I'm suffering from mental blocks.

           And finally, to all those who spent their time reading my works, though I don't know your names personally, you must know that I made it this far because of you guys. THANK YOU!!!

PART II = My Writer's Profile

           This has 100 questions and I considered it a feat when I finished the list. If you are in the mood, you can try answering the questions too. It's fun! ^^

01. This was taken from and is used by the Japanese folks for their own blogs. Those in capital letters are comments made by my imouto-chan (little sister).

02. Tell us your pen name. My pen name is Syaoran no Hime. But people call me Syao-chan too. Or Syaowee, Syaotot (it's mostly the pinoy writers who call me that), Syao, Hime-chan (it's only kyte who calls me that though), and Ate Syao.

03. Describe [your pen name] as if he/she were a character in a story. (self-introduction) I am a 17 year old college freshman that loves animes, money, ragnarok and the Internet. A loner, a liar, and a lunatic…that's who I am.

04. What is your job? Ragna player, netcafe assistant (unpaid though ^^;;), writer for the school paper, ff.net author, mother to her two pet cats, "tanker" to her friends' novice characters in pRO, and avid fan of Naruto in our country.

05. Please list your history of part time jobs (if you've had any). I used to be the Internet researcher in an internet café, but I'm basically a lazy fellow, and ficcating & site making takes up most of my time.

06. Your history of writing stories? I began ficcating when I discovered CCS fandom some 2 years ago, and my first fanfic is an S+S one. I later moved on to E+T, and I think this is where my writing began to mature. I wrote for the E+T fandom for 1 year before moving on to Furuba. I was only able to last for a few months before my interest on it waned. I also did the Mankin fandom, specializing on non-canon straight couplings. Now I work on other series too, like DBZ, HxH, Inu Yasha, and YYH. Maybe Naruto in the future ^^

07. Please tell us any interests you have besides writing. My interests besides writing are working on my websites, playing scrabble, drawing manga style, reading manga, playing PS II, watching animes, and singing Japanese style. I also love playing Ragnarok and hanging out in National Bookstore to buy the latest Rose Tan PHR novels and reading books there ^^;;

08. What genre of novels do you like? I often go for the romance genre of novels because I'm a hopeless romantic by heart. Of course it has to be dashed with some humor too!   

09. Who are your favorite authors? I'm not very particular, but there is this one PHR novelist that I adore…Miss. Rose Tan, simply because of her unexpected and brilliant sparkling wit when it comes to coming up with dialogues and situations for her characters. She is a breath of fresh air from your stereotype romance novelists.

10. What authors do you respect? The authors that I respect are those who can make original plots and understand the grave sin of plagiarism.  

11. What are your favorite novels? I like novels that have romance and humor. I enjoy mostly the tales of Rose Tan in Precious Heart Romances.

12. And your favorite movies? Yeah, I watch any movie with ANIMES!          

13. Your favorite manga and anime? I have lots of favorite animes but my most favorite is Shaman King. I'm warming up to Naruto now. Manga? Furuba, I think.

14. Your favorite drama (tv show)? I don't like soap operas very much but I like this one soap "Kung Mawawala Ka" (If You Will Go). It just doesn't center on the you- and- me- against- the- world  lover but also on the political climate of the country (Nothing beats the Pinoy traditional politics)  Actually, just don't give me reality TV. There's overkill of it in our country already.   

15. What music do you often listen to? Anime music and J-pop music is my soul's solace. Weiss, Mai Kuraki, Utada Hikaru, Mankin, CCS, YYH and RK themes. I also like BoA, and the songs from those Chinese soaps…Lavender ^_^. I also like Parokya ni Edgar.

16. What are some famous lines that have made an impact on you, and what work are they from? One line that made quite an impact on me is "Women tend to act like men, but they still want to be treated like women." I forgot already who said that line, but I can say with all honesty that it is correct, because I act that way too.   

I also like the line from Jerry Maguire… "You complete me". Short, but very deep.         

17. About how many books do you read in a month? I don't read books much anymore because I'm too busy but I am a bibliophile, and I read anything from pamphlets to encyclopedias.      

18. What kinds of books do you read besides novels? Besides novels, I read Japanese comic books, PHR, any book I find interesting in the bookstore, and the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Oh, and Culture Crash, Funny Komiks and random FF.net fics.     

19. Would you consider yourself a fast or slow writer? I'm a SLOW fast writer nowadays. I can make a lot of plots, but can take a lot of time to make a follow-up chapter for it. Blame it on Ragna.

20. Would you consider yourself a book junkie? Yes, I can be a book junkie. ^^

21. What software do you use to write? I use MS Word 2000 right now in fic typing, but I still prefer to use MS Word 97.   When I was starting to ficcate, I use Notepad. However, that won't allow me to spellcheck, so…

22. Tell us the title and story of the first story you wrote. Like I said, my first fic is from CCS ,  and  it's S+S. Entitled The Song of the Waves, it's an AU (although at that time, I didn't have an idea yet of what it is!) about Sakura and Li going on a vacation and getting haunted by a spirit called Nami. The story first came out in an S+S site called Sakura and Li's Palace, and the first compliment I received was "Nicely written".           

23. How do you come up with titles for your stories? I come up with titles for my stories by listening to the lyrics of love songs, browsing the dictionary, and looking at pocketbooks.    

24.  What genre do you write? I usually write for the romance genre, because that's the only one that agrees to my style, but I can do a humor too, and some angst.    

25. Do you write more in first or third person? I can do first and third POVs, but I go for the latter, because I have more freedom to write the inner thoughts of both characters.  

26. Do you write more short or long works? I write short stories because I can be pretty impatient in reaching the climax. That's my writing peeve, I guess. 

27. At what pace do you write novels? Really brisk. I want to write romantic scenes as soon as possible!  

28. Do you come up with characters or a story idea first? I come up with story ideas first, because the characters I use in my stories are already established. 

29. When do you come up with story ideas? I come up with story ideas all the time! Just by observing people, I can already get ideas on what scenes should I write in my fic next.

30. How much of a story do you know before you begin writing? When I begin writing, I can already see the ending but I can't make out the middle part. Sometimes, I know how to begin a fic but I can't see the middle part. It varies.  

31. How do you decide on names for your characters? I don't decide on names for my characters, and I rarely do OC. But if ever I do, I base them mostly in English names that have a "ring" : Ace, Swordbreaker, Silk, Rain, China, etc. If I can't think of good names, I go for the basic Japanese names.

32. How much data do you collect before beginning to write? It's not my hobby to do great research on my fic, but I do decent amount of data gathering – those that will be important to some of the details of the chapters.  

33. Is there anything you try to be careful of while writing? I try to be careful of writing lemon scenes. I try to paint the scene in a way that it comes out to be beautiful and sacred. I'm careful with my Japanese terms too.

34. How do you hone your writing skills? I hone my writing skills by reading the works of Rose Tan…and well…practice makes perfect.

35. What do you do when you have no ideas? When I have no ideas, I just sleep. What's the use of staying awake if my mind is idle? Perhaps, the next day, I'll be able to think of better plots.

36.  Have you ever been affected by the stories you write? Sometimes, I get affected by the stories I write too. I cried when I made my first Angst fic, Always Faithful. I also mourned with Tomoyo when she lost Eriol in First Time I Love Forever.

37. What sorts of things do you notice (unintentionally) while reading other people's writing? When I read others' works, the first thing I usually unintentionally notice is the humor (or the lack of it). Grammar comes in close second.

38. What kinds of themes would you like to write about in the future? Perhaps, in the future, I can make good lemon fics. ^^

39. What kind of feedback do you get? The feedbacks I get from my fics are not bad. Although I get flamed once in a while for writing too cheerfully, in general, the readers like how I write.

40. Do you mind being criticized? Accepting criticisms is always the hard part for the writer, but I don't mind if people do. It simply means that they do read my work.

41. What do you imagine the 22nd century will be like? By that time, I'm dead already, so I don't bother to imagine.

42. What do you think about human cloning? can they clone me too? My class sked won't allow me to watch the new animes in our local channels! I need a clone to go to school while I watch TV!

43, Do you believe in super powers and UFO's? as long as bishounens are involed, like Kamui Shirou and Kanata. *wink*                                                                

44. What do you think the end of the world will be like? The dragons of earth and the dragons of the heaven will make Earth its battle place, and in the end, the world will collapse into total exhaustion….what kind of questions are these? They're starting to get really morbid!

45. Will there ever be world peace? I think we need gundams to do that.

46. What do you think about recent atrocious crimes? Uh, that they are atrocious and that they happened recently?

47. Say something to a politician! HEY! I'M GETTING POORER AND POORER EVERYDAY. DO SOMETHING QUICK. - well said, imouto-chan!

48. What do you think about religion? *shrugs* Suffering from LACK of it.

49. There are 24 hours in a day, but how many do you wish there were? 12. I'll spend all of them in front of the PC.

50. Are you happy having been born in this age? Would you rather have been in a different time? (past or future) Actually, I want to try living in an era where people have powers…does that count? I want the power to read minds. It would come handy in exams.

51. Define "Fantasy." SQUALL LEONHEART!

52, If you were going to move somewhere, where would you move? SOMEWHERE WHERE NO ONE WILL BE ABLE TO FIND ME.

53. Do you enjoy traveling? Where would you like to go?   I don't like traveling. I just want to stay beside my beloved PC 1.

54. What is your view on having characters die in stories? THOSE WHO DIE ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE THE ROLE WITH SENSE. - Right again, imouto-chan.

55. When you write email or on message boards, do you use emoticons or LOL, LMAO, OMG? (or internet shorthand, 1337, etc) Yeah I use internet shorthands & txting shorthands. In fact, in one of my Pinoy fics, Ragnaking, I used shorthand all throughout the fic! On emoticons, these are my faves:

^^

^^;;

^-^

-.-

-.-;;

0.o

XD

56. What do you think about the recent corruption of the English language? Not my problem. I'm more concerned with REAL corruption here in our country ^^;;

57. Are you dissatisfied by anything in society? When do you feel this way? The division of wealth in my country is unfair! Whoever thought of the subject Economics is too much of an idealist. People can never be equal financially.

58. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? STINKING RICH

59. Please tell us your life plan. I ONLY THINK ABOUT THE PRESENT.

60. What's the weather like outside? Please describe it, including the scenery. The windows in my house are made of frosted glass so I can't really see. I'm too lazy to get up and check outside if the weather is fine.

61. Are you good at writing your impressions on other works of fiction? The authors of the stories I reviewed shall be the judges for that.

62. Do you enjoy English class? What subjects do you like? I love English class! It's the only subject that I can afford to relax in.

63. Do you enjoy school? NO. I JUST GET MY ALLOWANCE AND RUN OFF TO SOME PLACE FAR FROM SCHOOL. - My imouto-chan is saying that I go hooky. *smiles woefully* The place I run off to is the internet café.

64. Are you good at sports? IF YOU CALL SCRABBLE A SPORT.

65. Do you hold writing utensils correctly? No. I don't use the correct hand position in the keyboard, and I don't hold my Pilot pen correctly.

66. Has anything in your life made you think, "I really am a writer...?" What makes you think this? When I get reviews saying how I inspired them to start writing themselves…it gives me the most wonderful feeling! In a way, I was also able to share to others how fun it is to write.

67. How much of the newspaper do you read? Entertainment section first, then Comics, then opinion, then sports page. Never the front page. I hate reading about politics or senseless crimes or seeing those stupid faces of those stupid politicians.

68. Are there any magazines you subscribe to (or buy regularly)? FUNNY KOMIKS, a 15-peso comics written in our native language and drawn in Japanese style.

69. Do you buy books at the bookstore, used bookstore, or do you prefer libraries? I don't read much anymore (at least compared to what I was two years ago), but I would pick the bookstore. I don't buy the books though. I get the book/s that I want, hide in the corner, and read them there. lolz

70. Do you write poems or draw pictures, or do creative work besides writing stories? I DRAW ANIME GIRLS WHEN I'M RESTING FROM BRAINSTORMING FOR A PLOT. my imouto-chan does know me very well! Actually, I also make websites (that's creative work too, right?) and I used to edit the school paper for four years back when I was in high school. I brainstorm manga ideas for my cousin too.

71. Are you dating anyone? TELL ME ONE GOOD REASON IF LOVE EXISTS IN THE REAL WORLD. Um, don't mind my imouto-chan. She's just saying that because she is a baka. I'm not dating anyone, because I end up comparing guys to my favorite anime guys.

72. When are you happiest? When I'm in front of the PC, making websites or surfing the net.

73. Where do you look for support in life? MAMA Right, all the way!

74. Have you ever entered a story-writing contest? What were the results? Hmm, I tried thrice. For the Meiling fic contest, I brought home the first place with the OC story, X Chapter: the Himitsu Ikaru saga. For the MM.org contest, I lost. *grins* Understandable, because I was still a beginner in ficcating, so I didn't ask for help from beta readers. ^^;; The third time is the most recent one. I won a oneshot fanfic contest and I got a lovely layout as an award ^___^

75. Do you keep a diary? YUP, BUT I DO NOT UPDATE EVERYDAY. my imouto-chan knows. She reads my diary all the time. I also keep a blog. ^^

76. What has had the most impact on you in your life so far? WHEN I GOT MY BELOVED COMPUTER. Right again!

77. About how long do you sleep every day? Lemme see…I sleep at roughly 11pm and I wake up at 8:30am to catch my fave meisaku shows on ABS-CBN. On Saturdays and Sundays, I sleep at 5 am and wake up at 2pm. (Those two days are usually when I write fics or make desktop themes and wallpapers ^^)

78. What do you think about under the blankets at night before you fall asleep? my fave anime loveteams, my fic plots, and my characters in Ragnarok

79. What do you do when you have to ride the train (or do similar activities) for long periods of time? READ Or I stare at the sights outside the window until I fall asleep.

80. Please share a real life experience that you think you could make into a story. Hee hee…confidential?

81. Why do you write stories? TO PLEASE MY MASTER, MY SISTER. I ALSO WRITE TO PUT INTO WORDS SCENES THAT I LIKE TO HAPPEN BUT THE CREATOR OF THE ANIME DIDN'T DO. *sigh*

82. When do you feel like it is fun to write? At night, when the whole neighborhood is quiet. I then play my MP3s really loud, then I munch on some Tortillos Barbecue Flavor then drink lots of water. I'll stay up the whole night then.

83. What else do you work at besides writing? DRAWING ANIME GIRLS. *rolls eyes* You're making me sound like a lesbian! Actually, I work on my websites.

84. Under what conditions do you usually write? (place, time, background music, etc) refer to #82

85. Do your friends and family know that you write stories? YES. I ASK MY SISTER'S APPROVAL FIRST BEFORE I UPLOAD A FIC. Not always true. That only happens in E+T stories. Actually, my mother knows that I write stories, but she doesn't know up to what extent do I write. ^^             

86. Are there any other writers near you? How many? Not much. In fact, I can't remember one right now. I'm the only writing freak in our neighborhood.

87. Have you ever been in a slump? How did you get out of it? Few months back, someone broke the news on the real Fruits Basket coupling. I've recovered, thanks to Anna x Yoh, but I never got my groove back in writing Yukiru fics. I have moved on to Mankin fandom. My problem right now is that I have gotten a Yoh/Anna/Hao overdose, and now am concentrating on the other non-canon couples…and a little E+T on one side.

88. Do your eyes get tired from staring at a computer screen for long periods of time? I'M USED TO IT ALREADY. How do you deal with it? I BLINK THRICE. Stupid imouto-chan. *mutters*

89. Lately, there are many writers who use words that are difficult to understand, do you like to use them? I use them when needed.

90. What type of story can you not stand? SAPPY STORIES. If the stories are sappier than mine, I'll puke.

91. Are you satisfied with your stories? *shrugs* as long as there are still people who read them, I can say that I'm satisfied.

92. How many other online stories do you read? I don't usually read, because I do not have the time to do that. I pay the internet per minute in the internet café.

93. Have you ever worked on a doujinshi (fan-published work based around the characters/setting from a published work)? I'M PLANNING TO.

94. Would you like to be a professional novelist in the future? YEP

95. Why is that? THAT'S THE ONLY JOB I CAN DO. Um, I want to be a web designer too.

96. Recommend one of the stories you've written. BIJIN TO OBAKE my imouto-chan likes that story so much, but I don't know why, so I won't elaborate anymore. Personally though, I can recommend Riceball in Wonderland. It's a Yukiru fic (Furuba), and AU-ish, but fun to read and re-read.

97. Please tell us about one of the ideas you're working on (as much as you can tell). No more future fic projects for me until I finish my roughly 18 ongoing ficcies ^^

98. How long will you continue writing novels? As long as I have the inspiration and people continue to read my works.  

99. A word for your readers Arigatou!

100. There! I had successfully finished the 100 questions! I hope you were able to get a closer insight to what kind of a person lies beneath the pen name Syaoran no Hime.Thanks for reading up to here. I commend you for your patience! ^^