The Bet: Deflowering of the Flower

Chapter: 34

By: Saori

Current Date: February 13th, Day 31 (Wednesday)

Bet ends at midnight.

[WARNING: Seeing as this is the last chapter, and the rating is M, make sure you're reading only if you're of a suitable age. Also, I don't remember the guidelines for ratings, so things may or may not get too raunchy. Enjoy!]

She couldn't remember a time she'd ever been so angry.

Sakura didn't know how she went to falling asleep the night before with puffy eyes and an aching heart to waking up this morning with an icy rage that made her whole body tremble. But it was like a fire was roaring through her and it was becoming harder and harder to contain.

How dare the Elders think she wasn't good enough? They didn't even know her!

And Syaoran! He was just going to get on a plane and take off without telling her anything. What kind of boy who claimed he loved her would do that? He was such an idiot. So Sakura decided she was going to march to school, find his stupid, smirking face and tell him what she thought of everything. Nothing would be left unsaid.

He'd know she loved him. And that she thought he was completely stupid.

She'd show him what she thought of the oh-so-mighty Elders. No, she wasn't Chinese. No, she didn't go to some prestigious private school. And no, she'd never been to an etiquette class in her life and she was terrified that being with Syaoran meant that she'd basically be endlessly judged by the Li clan and the Elders. But she was Sakura Kinomoto, and she was worth something.

It was with these thoughts that she grabbed her backpack and stomped downstairs, nearly knocking her father over. His eyes widened and blinked curiously at her. Just as he opened his mouth to say good morning, she barked, "Gotta go!"

She was a ticking time bomb and didn't want to explode until she was within range of Syaoran.

Normally, this would be a time that she would send a smile her dad's way. And then she'd go to school and be the cute, friendly girl her classmates had come to expect from her. She'd hide her feelings (maybe even cry because that was okay for "girls like her"). But not today.

She'd done the whole drifting through life nodding and smiling, and agreeing with the laws of society. Look where that had gotten her. She'd heard it somewhere before, you know the saying – Nice guys go nowhere. Well, fuck that. It was time to take life into her own hands. The only time she'd ever gotten anything truly good in her life, she'd acted how she felt. Snapping at and arguing with Syaoran, even resisting him had gotten her what she wanted (well, at first; now, she kind of wished she'd learned when to succumb to him).

Tomoyo and Meiling had made it clear they preferred true Sakura to fake happy Sakura. So what the hell was stopping her? Today she felt pissed.

Attention please, attention Tomeada High: My name is Sakura, but today – today, you may call me colossal bitch.

"What's gotten into Sakura?" Tomoyo asked in a whisper to Meiling, their heads ducked toward each other in the middle of third period. Sakura was currently ignoring the lecture to get out her colored pencils and copy on her assignment the scenery that could be seen from the nearby window. Which would've been fine, you know, if it hadn't been in the middle of Calculus.

"I don't know," Meiling said, glancing over to their subject of choice. They noticed the teacher start to head toward Sakura's desk, before returning to his own desk at Sakura's intimidating glare. "But I kind of like it." They tried to cover their giggles.

"You know, that glare oddly resembled Syaoran's, wouldn't you say?"

"Indeed." Meiling outright laughed, even to the obvious annoyance of the becoming quickly useless teacher. "I wonder what he's doing right now, anyway. I haven't really been to our apartment in a couple of days since I've been staying at your mansion. I know he went to Sakura's for a family dinner last night though. Wasn't that around the same time you sent that text to Sakura telling her he unrolled?"

"Yeah, she never replied back," Tomoyo said thoughtfully, peering once again at the (for now) docile Sakura. "You think she kicked his ass or something?"

"I don't think so; if she had, he would've called me like a little crybaby to heal help his wounds." Meiling laughed once again, but this time the teacher's look was interrupted by the sound of the bell. "Care to find out with me? You're more tactful than I am, Tomoyo, but sometimes being nosy has its advantages."

They went over to Sakura's desk (she was taking her time to put her pencils in perfect rainbow order – and she seemed in no rush to do so) with barely concealed grins, not an ounce terrified as everyone else seemed to be today. Meiling opened her mouth to weasel information as promised. "So, Sakura… I heard Syaoran came over last night." Nothing. "And that he un-enrolled here without telling anyone."

"You bet that bastard did," Sakura said, finally flouncing to her feet, her cheeks a surprisingly pinkish-red hue. It was a healthy color, a color akin to excitement and determination. "But that's old news – guess what I've decided, you guys."

They looked at her expectantly.

"I'm going to sleep with him. And not sleep with him in the take a nap in the sunshine kind… I'm talking down and dirty, naked, sweaty bodies-"

"Oh god, that's my cousin; please stop this torture." Meiling looked queasy, while on the opposite end of the spectrum, Tomoyo's face lit up.

"Anyway, here's what I've been thinking-" Sakura started again, but not before she was once again interrupted, this time by an angry Calculus teacher.

"Excuse me girls, sorry to interrupt your drastically important conversation," Sakura raised an eyebrow at his mocking tone. "But that was the bell that just rang; the bell that means it's time for you to get to fourth now." Tomoyo opened her mouth to sweetly apologize and usher her friends out, but she obviously wasn't prepared for the new Sakura.

"Is that what that bell means?" Two could play the mocking game, that's all Sakura was going to say. "I wasn't sure if it was to inform us to run along to our next oh-so-stimulating class or if it was simply the sound of an angel getting his wings. Thanks for clearing that confusion up; now, if only you were so good at teaching us things that actually mattered, but, eh, I guess there's only so much a math teacher can do, right?"

"Alright, got it, Mr. K, we're out." Meiling never thought she'd be the one to have to halt an escalating match between a teacher and someone other than herself. Well, except maybe Syaoran. When they were safely away, Meiling stopped dead to resume their conversation, trying not to look at Sakura with too much awe and amusement. "What exactly is going on?"

"I told you. I'm going to have sex with Syaoran so he knows how serious I am." Sakura said matter-of-factly, unintentionally stomping down the hall. "He thinks he can make all the decisions for our relationship, and I've decided I've had just about enough of that."

Sakura's dark-headed friends were speechless. Sakura, on the other hand, was only getting more and more riled up.

"And where the hell is that boy? I thought he'd come for his last day of school even if his paper work did go through already. I know he's never been much of a Tomeada High fan, but I at least thought he had the decency to come and say goodbye to his friends!"

Meiling was a little afraid to interrupt. "Maybe he has to… pack?"

Sakura scoffed loudly, and then turned blazing emerald eyes on her two closest girl friends. "I'll show him pack!" It didn't make any sense to Sakura either, but it certainly satisfied her need to yell. "In fact, I might as well go over to his place right now. I'd like to give him a piece of my mind about everything."

She turned on her heel, stomping toward the exit without a goodbye or a care for the rest of her classes. It was time she made some decisions on her own, just like she'd said she would.

"Good luck?" Tomoyo said, puzzled and amused by the freed version of her best friend.

It wasn't until Sakura was knocking on her door that she realized within the next hour she'd finally be giving her virginity away. She'd been so focused on the aggression and making a list of all the things she planned to yell at Syaoran, she'd forgotten she was finally going to have sex for the first time. Sex with Syaoran.

For a moment, she became self-conscious, and wondered desperately if she'd at least had the foresight to make sure she was wearing cute underwear. Maybe she should've planned for this a little better.

But then she remembered what he'd done, and her rage took over once more – especially since no one was answering his front door. "Syaoran!" She yelled, before angrily trying the front door knob. When it opened easily, she barged through, not caring in what state she might find the unruly-haired boy in. Her heart started pounding, just as it usually did when she was near Syaoran.

Clenching her fists next to her side, she prepared for battle as she walked through a boxed-up apartment. She all but kicked open his bedroom door, gathering breath for another angry shout, when she spotted him. The air whooshed out of her lungs and her chest hurt like it had the night before as she took in the sight before her.

Syaoran was sleeping, frowning, with his arms wrapped around his torso, and the covers twisted haphazardly around his feet. He looked tired and uncomfortable, clearly trying to get sleep from a night of restlessness. The blinds were shut, allowing the smallest shafts of light into a room that had only bed covers and boxes, a shell of its former self, just as the boy in the bed seemed to be. It was hard to hold on to her rage at the image, though it didn't stop her from trying.

Sakura faltered for a second until with a sigh, she allowed the exhaustion from her own restless night to overtake her. She crept closer, shedding her shirt then pausing to brush the bangs from his forward.

"I don't want you."

Her own words entered her mind unbidden, and she felt ashamed. Syaoran hadn't been the only idiot. They'd been pretty stupid together. Sure, she'd been hurt and had vaguely tried to do the right thing by letting him go, but those words she'd spoken last night were cruel. They really needed to work on their communication skills. She moved to the other side of the bed, shedding her pants (noticing while not her best underwear, still acceptable for seducing the love of your life), and crawled up next to him.

The weight of her on the bed signaled something subconsciously to Syaoran, who turned uneasily toward her warmth. Biting her lip, Sakura grabbed the sheet pooled at the bottom of the bed and pulled it over the two of them. She looked at Syaoran for a long time, regretting the dark circles under his eyes and marveling at the way the simple shape of his mouth caused something in her gut to twist in a not entirely unsettling way.

Lightly, she traced the shape of his cheek, enjoying the small amount of stubble and the firmness of his jaw, until she could see the subtle way the crease between his eyes disappeared. Satisfied, she allowed her eyes to close and sleep to take her.

Syaoran awoke with a start, blinking uncomprehendingly in the now dark room and slowly tightening his arms around the girl in his arms. A girl who smelled and looked remarkably like one who he'd thought he'd never see again. The girl who'd managed to ensnare his heart.

He was confused, not knowing how he'd gone to lie down for only a little bit to waking up and discovering Sakura had somehow managed to find him and curl up next to him in his bed. Enjoying her body next to his own, he tried not to wake her, content to just lie next to her for as long as she'd stay. He had a flight in the morning, but if she'd allow it, he'd spend every moment until then next to her. Smiling wryly to himself, he wondered when he'd become such a sap.

Her plump, pink mouth was too much to resist, so after very little hesitation he sweetly placed his mouth against hers. This, of course, roused her from her sleep. He watched nervously as her green eyes blinked open from next to him. He held his breath as he waited for her say something.

"Hi," she mumbled, glancing away and then back to him.

"Sakura," He breathed, his hand gripping her hip more firmly. He looked at her questioningly.

"I'm sorry," she whispered. At his look of protestation, she gave him a look that asked him to let her finish. "I shouldn't have given up on us. I shouldn't have let the Elders scare me away from being with you. But, but you're not exactly without fault either. You should've told me what was going on. You were scared, but I was weak. I couldn't believe you were going to leave without saying goodbye and I was – no, I am so angry about that. But I shouldn't have said those things to you."

His heart seized up and unconsciously moved closer to her, pushing her partially under him. "I'm so sorry –"

"I know; you were an idiot. But I have to say something else first." She felt her cheeks flush as she reveled in the feeling of his weight on top of her and his tender eyes upon her. Her hands cupped his face, making sure she had his full attention as she tried to keep her lungs working in proper order. Even knowing how he felt about her, she found it hard to confess her own feelings.

But she'd decided to stop being weak. Even though these feelings made her vulnerable, she'd never felt so strong when he was looking at her in this way. "I love you, Syaoran Li." His mouth met hers suddenly, both taken surprised by the abrupt movement. But kissing Syaoran was easy, unlike almost everything else in their relationship, so she kissed him without wavering.

He was at a loss of what to say, hardly believing this could be real. He had to be having a dream, surely. He'd always expressed himself better with actions, so with his kiss he gave her everything he had. Pouring out the regret, the aching, the absolute love and devotion in him, he was left with only a purely happy sensation in his chest. Kissing became harder when he couldn't stop the grin on his face.

"Really, we're so stupid." Sakura giggled after her statement, emotionally rejuvenated from Syaoran's reaction.

"Complete idiots."

She kissed him with her own grin, not minding when their teeth clanked together momentarily before they resumed kissing. They took turns interrupting their kisses with maniacal smiles, ignoring their ridiculousness because they'd both wanted this moment for so long, it didn't matter if they were making fools of themselves. For the first time, they were able to open up entirely to each other, without fear of rejection or an outsider's reaction.

"Syaoran, will you tell me again?" Sakura asked him when her mouth was free for a moment.

He was confused for a second before he realized what she was asking. "I love you." Her hands on his face moved to his hair, grasping on the locks delightfully so she could bring their mouths together once again. "I love you." He would say it a thousand more times if it meant he could keep her.

She laughed in such a carefree manner he was reminded of the girl she was before their bet started. Selfishly, he thought the pain they'd gone through was maybe worth it for him to be able to get her to laugh like that. Finally, finally, she seemed completely at ease with him. "We belong together, Syaoran."

His face hurt but even with effort, he couldn't control the joy on his face. He tried to cram it down because he knew they still had issues to talk about, but his next words were spoken with a smile and his lips on and off her mouth again. "I have a flight in the morning. Unless, you want me to stay. I wasn't lying about giving the clan up for you. I'd give anything for this, for us."

"No." And even though she'd kissed him a hundred times already, she kissed him once again for good measure. "I won't let you give up everything you've worked for. But I'm not going to let you leave me either. We're in this together; we're going to go to Hong Kong and show the Elders and your father you mean business."

As if he could get any happier. He'd never thought he'd feel like this.

"The Elders think you're no good for me, that you're going to destroy everything the Li clan stands for. But they've got it all wrong. You're perfect for me and you're perfect for the Li clan. It's up to us to prove them wrong. Like you said: together."

From underneath him, she wrapped her legs and arms around him to hug him tightly to her chest. "Sakura," He choked, not from lack of air or the way his chest felt tight from her previous words, but because he suddenly realized her lack of clothes. "Are you not wearing any clothes?"

"Nope," she giggled, nipping at his jaw as he stared down at her, his eyes darkening.

In a move that surprised her, he pushed her lightly down and flopped away from her so that he was lying next to her. With a groan, his arm raised to cover his face. "Stop tormenting me, Sakura."

In a move that surprised him, she rolled over to straddle him. "Syaoran, I like tormenting you," she said playfully. When he didn't remove his arm, she said more seriously, "I want this. I do. In fact, I came here for this."

He moved his arm so he could look at her. He paused to check out her chest in its enticing black, lace-trimmed push-up glory (couldn't help himself), before quirking an eyebrow up at her.

"Really," she said with a placating look. "I mean, the plan was yell, confess, make love. I've already done the first two, so…" She leaned down to kiss him, which he responded to, but then his hands cupped her face and she was forced to look at him.

"You don't have to do this. Not unless you really want to. Trust me when I say that I really, really would like to – but we can still wait –" She stopped his adorable rambling with a kiss on his neck, heading to that place she'd discovered was his weakness in the hollow below his ear. "Sak, wait, a-are you sure?"

"I want you," she whispered hotly next to his ear, her stomach flipping at the truth behind her words.

And really how was he supposed to resist that?

His hands found her hips, anchoring her to him briefly, before he pressed upward to create a delicious friction they were both now well aware of. Sakura moaned against his neck, feeling his erection against her center. She couldn't believe it was finally happening. Her heart was already beating fast, but she followed the rhythm he guided her to, and tried to focus on the hand that was now trailing from her hip to her back.

There was too much to focus on, and just as Syaoran's hand slipped underneath her bra strap near the clasp, she realized Syaoran was still completely clothed. She sat up from on top of him, grasping his shirt to help him sit up with her. He kissed her eagerly, his fingers quickly unhooking her bra and then running his hands down her silky soft back.

Sakura broke their kiss for a second so she could pull his shirt over his head. He pulled off her bra the rest of the way, then gave her another bruising kiss as she pressed herself tightly to him, relishing in the feel of their naked chests pressed together. Her stomach tightened in a way she had never experienced before, and she gasped as Syaoran's open-mouthed kisses moved from her mouth down to her collar bone.

Soon, his hands were on her breasts and she sighed delightfully. She'd missed that.

"You're so beautiful," he murmured from beneath her, his mouth now at the perfect level to take a pert nipple between his lips. Sakura gasped, one hand sliding to the back of his neck so her fingers could slide through his hair and the other hand gripping the top of the waistband of his khaki shorts. His mouth and hands were doing wonders and for a moment her body moved in a thoughtlessly primal way, shifting against his erection and pressing her chest to his mouth, undulating atop him until he moaned a deep, guttural sound.

Everything felt so different this time. Never mind the fact that it made his previous sexual encounters a dim blur, but even comparing it to the times with Sakura he'd had in the past, he knew it felt different. The air felt charged. Their connection was pure electric and Syaoran knew without a doubt that he was completely ruined for anybody else. Sakura was the only girl he'd ever want.

"Wait," Syaoran groaned, making Sakura squeal as he lifted her easily off him. "I think I have candles or something or maybe I could find some music…" He was muttering as he began trying to open the boxes lying around his room. Sakura found him cute, but she needed him to get back to the bed now.

"Syaoran," she said, getting his attention not with her voice, but by the way she'd managed to grab hold of his belt buckle as he'd try to pass by the edge of the bed. "What on earth are you doing?"

"Sakura, it's your first time. It should be special." His intense amber gaze set her body ablaze and she was just about ready to pounce on him.

Roughly, she pulled him forward, making surprisingly quick work of his belt and then his shorts. She stopped his protestation with a sly look up at him. "Syaoran, this is special. It's with you." At his incredulous look she got up on her knees to kiss him. "I know that sounds cliché or whatever, but I'm serious. I love you and I want this. Even if it is in a bedroom with only boxes and bed sheets."

"Wait," Syaoran said again with a grin, going straight for the box to the left of the bed labeled Misc. "Arata gave me these the night of the carnival." He pulled out a few glow bracelets that hadn't been broken yet. Cracking them until the chemicals reacted and they lit up blue, purple, and pink, he lined them up on the nightstand. He stared for a moment with a frown on his face. "That is utterly stupid."

"No." Sakura bit her lip as she tried not to laugh. It was a failing effort. "Just come back over here."

She kissed him until his pout left, which was about the same time she'd managed the courage to explore his erection through his boxers. Continuing their passionate kisses, he gently pushed her back until he was hovering over her, settled between her parted legs. Finding their rhythm once more, Syaoran returned his hand to her chest as she gripped her shoulders, liking the feel of his muscles under his skin.

She felt small in a way that didn't make her feel inferior, but made her feel protected. Besides, as she arched her hips upwards into his and he had to break away from her mouth to gasp, there was no way she could feel like anything but loved and wanted and sexy and absolutely powerful.

"I want to see it," Sakura muttered with a red face as she began sliding down his boxers. Syaoran was caught between a smirk and an open mouth. He was extremely nervous for someone who'd done this before, but seeing this side of Sakura was doing funny things to him. She was innocent and sexy – a complete contradiction of perfection and god, he wanted her so badly. Especially when she had one hand on his shoulder to push him to sit back and the other wrapping around him there with that delightfully small, wonderful hand of hers.

It was Sakura's first experience with the male anatomy and she found herself pushing aside her embarrassment because to be honest she was fascinated. He was smooth and hard and okay, maybe a little funny looking, and Christ, how was that thing ever going to fit inside of her? But the way his body trembled, the way the moan in the back of his throat made her feel like a goddess, and the way he was looking at her with those hooded amber eyes made absolutely every muscle inside of her clench in the most delicious way.

Her hand started gently at the base, tightening slowly as she tried not to hurt anything, pulling upward until she reached a swollen head that she experimentally rolled her thumb over. She was sure he somehow became even harder and the moan she'd gotten out of him was enough to make her smirk.

"Okay," Syaoran said more to himself than her, pushing her back down, so that he could kiss her hungrily on the mouth and then start his trek lower.

"Wait, I wasn't finished…" Despite her pout, he continued with a lick on her collar bone, a kiss on her left nipple, and nibble near the right of her navel, and soon she wasn't pouting anymore because then his face was down there. "W-wait, what are you-"

"Relax," Syaoran whispered with a soft kiss on her hip bone, his fingers sliding up the outside of her thighs until they could twist around the fabric of her panties. "I'm more than ready, but we still need to work on you a bit first." She looked down at him and he looked up at her with the same smirk that used to infuriate her (actually still did for the most part), but at the moment all she could think was how hot it was. Then he was pulling down her panties off and his mouth was doing something other than smirking.

Sakura really didn't have a chance to be nervous because everything just felt so damn good. She felt his hand part her folds, a lick at her clit that just about made her buck him off, before he was sliding a finger into her, then another, and it was harder and harder to focus on precisely how he was accomplishing everything with those hands, lips, and tongue of his. "Fuck."

Hearing her expletive almost made him laugh, but the sexiness of Sakura's sweet, innocent mouth saying that made him realize he was witnessing a true, passionate woman who loved him and was now in over her head with pleasure. Pleasure that he was bringing her. He enjoyed her loss of control, from the way he had to hold down her hips and the way he could feel her hand unknowingly grasping hard at the hair on the left side of his head.

She was so hot, wet, and tight.

He could tell her release was building, her muscles were clenching his pumping fingers and he could feel her thigh muscles quivering under his other hand. Curling the fingers inside her in just the right way, he delighted in her startled gasp and then long drawn-out moan as she fell apart below him. She was gorgeous.

"Holy…" Sakura couldn't even finish her thought as she dragged Syaoran up to kiss him full on the mouth. Ignoring the taste of herself and the flush on her cheeks, she pulled back to stare into his dark eyes. They were both naked and she was beyond a doubt ready. "See now, if you'd shown me how freaking amazing an orgasm was, we wouldn't have spent so long beating around the bush."

Laughing, Syaoran kissed her again. "Hey, don't say I didn't try to tell you." His hands were roaming over every inch of her, helpless when it came to a glowing, naked Sakura. When she wrapped her legs firmly around his waist, he was sure his eyes rolled back into his head. Managing to open them and look into her mischievous green eyes, he leaned his forehead against hers. "So, I've never done this with a virgin before."

Sakura had never heard him sound so nervous. It was kind of making her heart melt.

"And I want you to tell me if I hurt you. I m-mean, I think it'll hurt regardless even though I've tried to get you ready…" He trailed off when Sakura used her legs to shift him closer so she could feel his hardness right there. They both groaned. "And I've never done this without a c-condom but I know you're on the pill… And I'll g-go slow, but…shit, you gotta stop doing that."

Sakura had been rocking against him, ready for him to stop talking and to get to the taking her virginity. She was a little scared, but more so, she was ready to give him everything;all of her. "Syaoran, I love you."

He kissed her for a long time, consuming her and giving his whole self back in the promise of his kiss. "I love you."

Cautiously, he aligned himself at her entrance and began to enter her, pausing when he felt her involuntarily clench. Kissing her until she relaxed, he held his breath and then pushed suddenly and fully into her, all the way to the hilt. Her cry tore from her mouth, more out of surprise than anything. His kisses peppered her face, clearly worried about the pain she was experiencing, but she was preoccupied by how much it hadn't really hurt as much as she'd been expecting.

Mostly, she felt uncomfortable. It was so evasive and absolutely huge and the longer he stayed still filling her the more she felt the ache. "Move," she said and then resumed biting her hip. She unconsciously began squirming under him until she felt him shudder lightly. She caught his gaze with her own.

They both stopped and time seemed to shrink and then expand. It was just the two of them and everything suddenly seemed incandescently perfect. With Syaoran's hands on her face, and her arms wrapped around his neck, they were at first terrified by the emotion in their chest and then comforted because they knew.

They knew they were in this together. That they both felt this same big, scary feeling. And it was exciting.

"You have to move," Sakura laughed lightly, clumsily kissing his mouth because she wanted to keep watching his eyes. Syaoran laughed himself and then slowly began to pull out, before pushing back in.

"It's… really hard," he grunted, laughing shortly before his chuckle turned into a groan. Sakura's responding giggle was cut short as she responded to his new rhythm. Now, this, this was something different. Her body followed his tempo effortlessly, picking up at the same pace he was, as if their bodies were communicating on their own level.

Their laughter died down and soon they could only focus on the complete and total ecstasy of the sensations. With every thrust, her toes curled and her inner muscles clenched, building in the way she had only just been introduced to. With every squeeze, his hand gripped her hip and he moved deeper, climbing closer and closer to a release he was trying to delay with every effort he possessed.

The cherry blossom scent of her, the sight of her enraptured face, the soft silky feel of her, all of her made him a man on the brink, struggling to give her everything and for once in his life, leave nothing hidden. She belonged to him, but more so, he belonged to her in a way that he could only keep trying to show her with this very physical, passionate expression.

Mouths met over and over, bodies tightened, sweat made their bodies slicker, emerald met amber, until finally, fuck, finally they reached the crest of their climax. It was hers that triggered his, his name on her lips which caused hers to fall from his.

Heavily, he fell on top of her, every coil within him now released and his breathing harsh in time with hers. Her lips moved across the side of his face and then he remembered to push slightly away so his full weight wouldn't crush her. Sakura lie beneath him boneless, content to have him stay inside her and above her for now.

With the sexiest smile he'd ever seen, she lazily looked up at him. "We have to do that again."

He couldn't even smirk for how exhausted and exhilarated he felt. "Give me a minute." But he could already feel the stirring within him and he knew he'd satisfy her again and again until she couldn't possibly take anymore if she asked him to. He laughed at the twinkle in her eyes and managed the energy to roll them over so she was sitting astride him, his growing length still seated securely inside of her.

She laughed until her mouth became busy kissing him instead.

Sakura had woke him up twice in the night, apparently insatiable with her favorite newfound activity, but the third time, it was him waking her up. That time it was slow, and sweet, and almost past the point of suffocating for how intense it was. Then he was drawing a bath for her even though it was before dawn had begun its lightening off the world around them.

Sitting in the hot water, she realized she was sore, and she was grateful for the care he'd taken to think of her and for the comfort of his chest against her back as he soothingly massaged her shoulders and neck. He'd already packed up the body wash, not planning on showering again before his flight, but Sakura was entirely content with just the water and him.

It wasn't long before they had to get out and get ready for the plane ride to Hong Kong.

"I found this extra shirt, but the rest of my clothes have already been sent." Syaoran explained to a dripping Sakura in his bathroom. Neither of them had towels, and Syaoran had been reluctant to leave her side for even the tiniest amount of time, but he'd brought his planned change of clothes for the plane and the shirt he'd apparently managed to find. "Sorry."

"It's okay," she smiled up at him, kissing him quickly on the lips. "Do we have time to stop by my house?"

"Just a bit, yeah," he said, fascinated as she leaned over the tub to wring out the excess water from her hair. "Did you tell your dad about our, er, departure?"

"No." She frowned, easily slipping his shirt over her head and starting toward where she remembered she'd left her cell phone. She was oddly warmed when Syaoran followed close by and wrapped an arm around her waist as she checked the messages. "He called, but Tomoyo sent me a text telling me she covered for me when he called. Ah, but, he, um, he sent me a text after hers telling me he knew where I was and to be safe… so, I think he knows she was lying."

"Have I mentioned how odd it is that your dad is so cool about everything?" Syaoran laughed and was secretly pleased that even after everything the two of them had just done, Sakura could still blush so brightly.

"Yeah, yeah," Sakura grumbled. "Grab your stuff and come on." She paused in the bedroom, and he watched as she walked over to the nightstand, grabbed the fading pink glow bracelet, and slipped it around her wrist. "If you don't behave I might be forced to tell everyone what a softie you are."

In spite of her joke, Sakura knew she'd never get rid of the bracelet now around her wrist. It was one of the sweetest things he'd ever done for her, even if it was a tad ridiculous. It was proof of the way he felt about her.

"Go ahead," he smirked as he tugged her form against his, "my lips, however, will stay sealed no matter how much the world should really know what a wildcat you are in bed."

"Nervous?" Sakura asked, squeezing his hand gently.

"No, of course not," Syaoran said. But his mouth tightened and he hardly acknowledged her at his side. His mask was back on, just in time for their arrival at the Li Estate. A part of her felt unsettled, not liking a Syaoran that shut her out and refused to allow any emotion show, but she desperately tried to remind herself that this was what he had to do. This was how he stayed strong.

"Right," Sakura nodded assuredly. "They won't know what hit 'em."

Then he did look at her, and amber melted to emerald as he gave her a tender look. Before continuing up the final steps to the front door, he paused and brought their entwined hands to his mouth, placing the smallest of kisses on the back of her hand. "I'm glad you're here."

It wasn't exactly the sweet, charming boy who'd been with her before embarking on their flight from Japan, but she could almost make out that boy just beneath the surface. It was weird how drastically he was back to the emotionless Syaoran, especially after everything they'd been through in the last twenty-four hours.

When he started walking towards his home again, Sakura followed. She was worried. And nervous, and anxious, and scared, and altogether unsure of what exactly she was getting into. Though it was easy to be angry with Syaoran, it was a whole different matter to face her insecurities when it came to the Li family in general. Feeling good enough didn't suddenly come to her just because her and Syaoran had found a good place in their relationship.

Especially when he wasn't even acting like her Syaoran anymore.

She pushed down her weakness and hoped she would be strong enough for whatever was to come next. They were lead into Syaoran's home and were quickly found by Yelan. Who, after smiling warmly at Sakura, adopted her own passive mask and followed by Syaoran's other side. Sakura stiffly followed them into a part of the mansion she'd never been to before. It wasn't long before the three of them stopped outside two huge oak doors.

"You'll…" Yelan paused, considering her words carefully. "You'll do right by the Li clan." Her gaze stayed forward, but Sakura noticed his mother's left hand clench the bit of fabric at her thigh. Sakura could now only see the back of Syaoran's unruly head, which nodded quickly once.

He lifted his hand to solidly connect his knuckles in one hard, loud beat. Oddly enough, Sakura felt herself almost laugh for absurd and formal this entire situation was. But smiling took too much effort currently, and she found it hard enough just to breathe when the doors swung open. A tall man in an expensive-looking suit immediately stepped to the entrance and bowed to Syaoran. "Xiao Lang," he murmured.

Syaoran bowed back, about half the distance the man before him had. "Has Xiao Riu arrived?"

"He waits," the man said, holding out his arm in a gesture for Syaoran to move into the room. Sakura felt herself pulled along as Syaoran started forward; she stumbled slightly not realizing she would be finally face to face with the Elders. "No. Not her."

Then again, maybe not.

Syaoran paused a moment, frozen by the coldness of the man's voice. Sakura untangled her hand from Syaoran's, despite the quick glance he sent her way. "No, she comes in, Guo," Syaoran addressed the man, now looking irritated and impatient. She'd never heard his voice sound so authoritative either. This additional side that she knew nothing about was making Sakura nervous in a way she couldn't explain.

"Sir, the Elders have only requested the future and past leaders of the Li clan." Guo gave an intimidating look but Syaoran seemed unfazed.

"Yes, which is why I'll be going in." Syaoran gestured to himself as if the older man was an idiot. "Which is also why Yelan Li will be going in," he continued, despite Guo's intention to interrupt, "as the current Li leader. And Sakura will be coming in as my future bride, and the other half to your future clan leadership."

"But-" Guo sputtered. Sakura felt almost as ill as the older man now looked. She might've been about to faint. Now they were engaged? Had she missed his proposal?

"You're wasting our time," Yelan said, hiding a smile that Sakura wouldn't have noticed if it weren't for the way her eyes almost seemed to twinkle. Syaoran's mother moved forward into the room. Sakura felt herself still hesitating, unsure when she'd suddenly reemerged as a stickler for rules. She didn't think it was right for her to go into this discussion.

"Sakura?" Syaoran finally looked at her, his eyes relaying no emotion.

Still, she felt herself falter, biting her lip as she tried to get herself back in control. Of course, the split second was enough for Guo to jump back in. "Sir, the Elders are waiting."

"I'll just – you go ahead – it's not…" She couldn't find the words and Guo was already moving forward into the room and Syaoran was getting distracted from his real mission and she couldn't meet the Elders like this and where was Syaoran – her Syaoran?

He frowned at her; the hand she just realized was outstretched dropped to his side. He turned and the doors shut behind him from the inside, leaving her alone in the hallway to stare with watery eyes.

She'd couldn't help but feel like she'd already made a huge mistake.

"I tried to do this the easy way. Get you to leave the clan that rightfully belongs to me," his father hissed, glaring not at Syaoran, but straight ahead. Syaoran breathed out his nose, barely managing the tight grip he'd had on his temper for the entire conversation. He took comfort in the form of his mother standing at the side, but that was one against an entire table of Elders who all seemed to be behind his father, the despicable Xiao Riu Li.

He didn't even deserve the surname.

"He shouldn't even be in this room." Syaoran spoke clearly, meeting the eyes of each and every elder. His mother had taught him a long time ago that he was not to look at the Elders until he felt their equal. He now felt ready to show them he was no longer the child who had left for Japan. However, a part of him knew this was just a step in the act, in the manipulation of not losing the clan. He'd do anything before letting his father take back a company (and a family) that he'd given up a long time ago.

He wished Sakura had come in with him. Why didn't she – no, no time for that.

"He's just a kid," Xiao Riu said. "He's not even close to ready to lead. I have come back as a pledge for redemption for my previous actions. I am willing to give up everything for the Li clan. I promise myself, my freedom, my life, everything to this family."

"Yes, he promises now that he has run out of his stolen money from the Li clan. How long do you think he'll stay before he takes off again? Enough time to fill his bank accounts? Enough time to ensure Li Corporation loses its profits mysteriously? Enough time leave the Li's helpless for a second time?" He balled his fists at his side, reminding himself to calm down.

"This is a pointless argument. Being head of the Li clan is my rightful place. I've only held this meeting as a diplomatic gesture. You may be the eventual future, but you have no more right to the clan than your mother does. She's playing dress up and parading as a placeholder – she's only slightly less equipped to take charge than the eighteen-year-old boy you see in front of you." Syaoran could see some of the Elders beginning to nod.

How could they do this? Turn against him – okay, he was just barely a legal adult – but his mother? She'd saved them from debt, saved them from appearing weak to the other Chinese families. She'd also worked to keep the company from falling under once a large portion of investments had suddenly disappeared with the man now standing in front of them. The man who'd left.

How could he have ever loved such a monster? Mourned his departure? Wallowed for the following years? And the worst, begun to think his father had it right about the cages of the Li clan? What was Syaoran even doing here fighting if he didn't believe the Li's needed him? Beyond these walls was his family and a company, that meant more than the old, stiff men in business suits before him, still prestigiously calling themselves the 'Elders' instead of just his company's board.

"I propose a test," the oldest man at the table announced after a time of silence. Oddly, the first thought Syaoran had was that he wished it was a trial of swords. He was about ready to hurt someone.

Oh, god, she'd completely screwed this entire situation. Less than twenty-four hours since she'd told Syaoran she loved him and then she goes and basically turns her back on him the first chance she gets. The whole purpose of coming to Hong Kong had been to show her support against the Elders. Even if she'd thought that support was going to happen without her actually meeting the Elders.

"Sakura!" It was Tomoyo's voice that startled her out of her self-pity, and she could only blink as she saw Tomoyo's approaching figure next to that of Wei's and Eriol's. "Hey! We're here with Meiling. She heard everything that was happening and decided it was in the interest of the Rei side of the Li family to show up. I had no idea Syaoran's father was trying to take back the clan. This is all so crazy. And Meiling has gone to get her father so that they can come for the outcome of who is to take over the clan. Oh, is Syaoran and his dad in there now?"

Tomoyo was obviously excited by everything that was happening, her cheeks bright in a way that for some reason made Sakura want to fall into her best friend's arms and cry. "Tomoyo," she cleared her throat and it was then that Tomoyo realized the state of Sakura. "Tomoyo, I've already messing everything up."

"What do you mean?" She asked, pulling closer to Sakura so that the two men could pretend to give the girls some semblance of privacy.

"I should've gone in there. But," Sakura's throat felt tight, so she swallowed, forcing herself not to cry. "It was suddenly like I realized that this was what it was going to be. Syaoran's going to be leader and he's going to be cold and emotionless and distant. And- it's just a lot to kind of figure out moments before he announces that the two of us are going to be spending the rest of our lives together. Which, I mean, I want that. But I'm just a kid, we're not supposed to make those kind of plans at this age. Not when we've been together for less than a month. Not when I can't even really define 'together' because are we even going out? Is he my boyfriend? I cannot be introduced to the Li Elders as his lover."

"Wow," Tomoyo did her best to hold in her laugh, involuntarily amused by Sakura's mini rant. "Okay, so, you didn't go in there at first because you were scared. And now?"

"Huh?" Sakura asked eloquently.

"Well, why not go in now?"

Oh. Sakura turned to face the door, her gut twisting uncomfortably. She'd said she was done being scared. Done being weak. Mostly, done being stupid. And yet, here she was having made yet another mistake. Syaoran was still Syaoran; it was her who had changed. For the first time since she'd first met Syaoran, they'd finally managed to both connect together on an equal level.

Sakura looked down at the bracelet around her wrist. It no longer glowed, but it was still a reminder of them. It was a reminder of the true Syaoran, the one only she was luckily enough to see. No, that wasn't quite right – because it wasn't just that side, but all his sides she got to see. All the pieces that made up a whole Syaoran. There was no good versus bad Syaoran, only a Syaoran that was complete with flaws and perfection. A Syaoran she saw and understood completely. A Syaoran that had opened up himself for her.

"Tomoyo, have I told you you're an absolute genius?"

"Not today," Tomoyo laughed, watching her friend with new eyes. This was a strong Sakura, one who didn't just stubbornly stick to her first decisions, but one who allowed herself to acknowledge her mistakes. They all really were growing up.

Sakura smiled and turned back to the huge oak doors. Without pausing, she pushed them open and entered, her heart pounding, but really, in the best way possible.

"A business plan?" The suggestion was murmured across the table, one of many as the Elders decided upon the best way to determine who would take over as leader. Finally, it was decided, "A game of sacrifice…A test of pain to ensure our leader is willing and determined to go through anything for the benefit of the Li clan."

"Yes, and the first to give up will therefore give up his right to Li leader." Syaoran managed to appear unfazed, though frantically he was trying to think through his old training. He'd always had a somewhat high tolerance for pain, but he honestly couldn't remember the protocol for this type of situation – what methods would they allow?

He also remembered stories from past leader trials: whispered rumors about the horrors of the men who had failed and the injuries received in these 'tests'. Those deaths and mutilations had to be pure fiction, right?

"I accept," Xiao Riu said, bending to one knee.

"I accept," Syaoran said quickly, almost to a knee when a voice cried out. For a moment, he was in shock, because he thought it'd been his mother finally speaking up for him, even though she'd managed to keep her silence during her own degradation earlier. But it wasn't his mother.

"No! I'll take his place," Sakura said fiercely, stepping to his other side, staring each and every member of the Elders in the eye. The room stood still. "You can't hurt him… You don't want to injure your leader – but me, I-I'll take his place." The thought of anything happening to him was unbearable.

"No," Syaoran said before any of the Elders could formulate a response. He stood, turning his back on the Elders so Sakura was forced to look at him. "Absolutely not, Sakura." He was gritting his teeth and looked downright deadly, but Sakura realized she knew this Syaoran. This wasn't scary or threatening, because this was simply Syaoran being protective. She almost laughed at the absurdity of the mistake she'd made earlier.

"You'd let this Japanese whore into a meeting with the Li Elders?" Xiao Riu asked snidely, his gaze moving from the Elders to Syaoran.

Syaoran, who would've finally landed that punch on his father's face he'd been asking for if it hadn't been for not wanting to leave Sakura's side for a minute. As if moving too far meant the Elders would instantly take her up on her offer and begin the torture as soon as he was out of range. "You say one more word and I will show you the power of a true Li."

It was silent again as it seemed his father and the Elders were reevaluating their earlier assessments of their 'young, weak' Xiao Lang.

"This test is not a physical sacrifice," one of the Elders said eventually. "It is a sacrifice of the thing that means most to you. For Xiao Riu, it means you'd have no access to the Li accounts. It would be your wife, Madame Yelan, who would be in charge of the spending to ensure you had what you needed, but nothing to fund your… extravagant and superfluous lifestyle."

His father looked half outraged, half desperate.

"For Xiao Lang, it means you'd give up the girl. You'd never be allowed to see Sakura Kinomoto."

He actually felt as if his heart stopped. His mind was trying to go over and over the words he'd just heard and fit them in a way that made remotely any sense. He looked at Sakura, who reached out her hand and gave him a sad smile. And he'd seen this smile before; it was a smile of acceptance, it was smile he'd gotten the last time he was on Sakura's porch, when she was letting him go. It was her way of telling him that this was half her test too, and she'd sacrifice as well if it meant he'd get everything he wanted. But she was also willing to stand by him if he didn't want it, that she'd accept him denying his birth right. Regardless, she'd wholeheartedly accept any decision he made.

Syaoran took Sakura's hand in his, ignoring his father's "I accept" and not even bothering to look at him kneeling on the floor. His father hardly mattered now. Because the truth of the matter was that he didn't want to be leader. Honestly, it was with Sakura's help that he'd realized it wasn't a matter of desire or even need.

What felt like a lifetime ago, he'd watched his father turn his back on the Li's, and he'd followed in those footsteps. He'd decided he didn't want it. But then he'd watched the good his mother had done and decided he wouldn't leave the Li clan to struggle on its own. Not because he wanted to, but because he had a duty to. Sakura never allowed him to be his father, to be less.

Sakura made him better – made him his best.

"No," Syaoran stepped forward, and this time Sakura moved with him, toward the table of Li Elders who effortlessly upheld their emotionless masks. "No, that's not the way things are going to work. It's not up to any of you. I'm the leader of the Li clan and this scoundrel on the floor has no authority here. He's not a leader candidate – he gave that up a long time ago. You really want this sniveling man on his knees to lead you?"

His voice felt so strong, but Syaoran really wasn't entirely sure what he was trying was going to work. He was sure that the Elders were going to throw him out for not following their rules and he'd be made a fool of. He was sure of all of this, until the oldest elder cracked the tiniest of smiles. Trying not to grin in response, he waited for the rest of the Elders responses.

But it was not the Elders who would respond next. "I follow Xiao Lang, the leader of the Li clan," Yelan said, moving slightly forward and positioning herself into a bow. If Syaoran found this surprising, he had no time to register it because nine more people had joined his mother in bowing, each a powerful member of the Li family, including Meiling and her father, each also pledging, "I follow Xiao Lang, the leader of the Li clan."

For a second he felt like a little boy, dangerously close to fucking crying, but that was ridiculous, stop. Instead, he looked at each of the Elders, staring impassively, unable to resist the way his hand tightened around Sakura's. Shit, all of this seemed so surreal.

"Xiao Lang Li, you have passed the test." One of them spoke and then he encountered the strangest sight of his life thus far: the Elders each looked…happy. With them smiling the way they were, they looked like simple grandfathers, really. On a level, it was disturbing. They'd held so much power over him his whole life. But it was the kind of power the Wizard had in Oz; the power of illusion given only by each individual willing to believe they were somehow inferior to another.

Today, Syaoran had taken back that power. Holy crap.

Sakura snuggled under the covers, cold from the air circulating the guest room she currently resided in, waiting for Syaoran to sneak out to her. They hadn't a moment alone since their plane ride earlier that morning. She couldn't believe how tired she was until she factored in everything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours. Contemplating the last month, she realized it always felt like a whirlwind when it came to her and Syaoran.

It was passionate and crazy – and jeez, would he just get here already?

Being forced to finish up dealings with the Elders (not to mention an embarrassing 'exile' of Syaoran's father who ended up getting punched when he rushed Syaoran), spending time with their friends who had made an impromptu visit (though she was grateful for Tomoyo's needed sensible words, and Syaoran was grateful to Meiling because it had been her who convinced the other prominent Li family members to disrupt the elder meeting), and the necessary things like showering, eating, and calling her father (he was disapproving of a daughter who'd left the country without asking), Sakura hadn't even managed to kiss the boy she was now (possibly?) engaged to.

"Saku?" Her boyfriend(?) – ack, fiancé(?) – whispered from the dark. With the nickname, it was oddly like they'd come full circle. His form appeared next to her, and she welcomed him with a lift of the bed spread and a smile. He smiled back, one hand wrapping around the no-longer glowing bracelet and her wrist and the other sliding across her collarbone to grasp her shoulder gently.

She shivered in delight and then he was pulling her and their mouths met. She sighed into his mouth as his tongue thoroughly explored its missed territory. And really, with the wonders that mouth did, her mouth was all his for the taking. "I missed you," she said when there was a free moment.

"Mm," he agreed, slipping into the bed with her. He wrapped his arm around her, enjoying the way they were both half naked. In fact, it brought up certain memories that were only made possible between the two of them just recently. But first: "Hey, so…about the whole future wife thing."

She laughed, powerless to stop it from bubbling past her lips. "Take it easy, Li. I think we got to start with boyfriend/girlfriend first."

Earlier, he'd been beyond embarrassed that he'd let such a thing as marriage come out of his mouth. But now, with her refusal, he felt marginally offended. Playfully, he pinned her under him and pouted at her. And then he remembered. "You know, technically I could command you…"

"To marry you?" Sakura laughed incredulously, trying to comprehend what he was talking about when his mouth was attached deliciously to her neck. "And why exactly would I do it just because your highness commanded? I don't have to follow the Li clan leader's every wish and command."

He didn't say anything, continuing his mouth along her jaw and then back down to her collar bone, as if he couldn't decide if his destination was her mouth or lower. And then she remembered.

"Now wait a minute," she said, grabbing the sides of his face so that they were face to face. "You don't think you won the bet, do you?"

Just as she laughed, he snorted, uncertain if she was just playing with him or serious. Looking into her eyes, he could see she was sticking to her story. "Um, Sakura. We had sex last night. So… I mean, you were there, right?" He asked jokingly, planting a quick kiss on her irresistible pink mouth.

"Well, yeah, but that was after midnight," she said so matter-of-factly he had to stop for a moment.

"No…" He said slowly, trying for the life of him to get some kind of grasp on the timing of everything. He'd fallen asleep a little after noon, and woken up, well it was after sunset, but surely he didn't sleep that long. How long had he watched her before waking up? How long had they talked before actually…? Looking at her self-assured smirk, he tried not to be swayed by her without-a-doubt attitude. "No, it was definitely before midnight. The bet was still on."

Sakura bit her lip and smoothed her hands down his bare back, liking the way he responded unconsciously and moved closer. She couldn't remember if there was a clock or not on his nightstand last night. "Nope, the bet was off."

Making quick work of her bra, he laughed. "Is this going to be one of those things we fight about till we're old and in a nursing home?"

"Ah, no," she whimpered in response to his ministrations on her chest. "This is going to be something we fight about until you realize being my slave is actually going to prove to be quite enjoyable." Her hands were already teasing the elastic of his boxers.

"It's not lost on me that when this whole thing started I tried to argue for a week's privilege of a personal sex slave and someone was adamantly against it." His chuckle was stopped in his throat when Sakura's hips pressed upward against him in exactly the right spot. "Uh, yeah, I'm starting to think you might be right about it being after midnight…"

Kissing and laughing, she enjoyed the weight of him as he enjoyed the feel of her all around him. The moment was passion, and intimacy, and so, so much love.

It was strangely understandable that the bet had amounted to this end. At first something that used to consume their every thought in a competitive game of being right and not being wrong. Instead, by the ending, a maybe yes, maybe no, utterly irrelevant outcome.

And if we're being honest here, since the beginning, this was never about a bet.

Author's Note:

Oh my god. I am happy and sad in equal measures about the ending. It's hard to give everyone a good end and it's hard to say goodbye. I've done my best.

I can't believe I started this when I was only 13. That's crazy to me (also way too young if I really think about the subject matter I was writing about – but really there's no sex until now haha). This will always hold a special place in my heart because I really worked on my writing throughout Sakura's and Syaoran's journey. The first (really almost all) of the chapters are embarrassing for how they're written, and I cringe every time I see a stupid error. And then I think of how far I've come and all the different emotions I got to explore with this twisty-twervy plot I thought of when I was just a kid bored in study hall, and I know I could never go back and edit or rewrite because it's a true testament to my progression.

I haven't written for this story since I was about 17, but I always thought about it (I hate not finishing things). Finally, I knew I just had to sit down and give these versions of S+S an ending that they deserved. Mostly, I knew that all of the readers and reviewers deserved an ending though. After about a four year break, I'm finally, yes finally, glad to say that I've completed this story. This thing was such a blast to write. Love and gratitude to everyone who invested time in reading, who sent their support, and who found something to identify with in my fic. It really meant so much to me; each of you can never realize how much.

Your reviews have (always) inspired me to keep writing.