A/N: Last year, I asked birthday girl Kyte-chan to scream "Yoh-kun ROCKS!" and "Hao-sama is a god!" even if she had nary an idea yet of those Shaman King characters. This year, I want Kyte-chan to scream "Naruto-kun ROCKS!" and "Kakashi-sensei is a god!" even if she is clueless when it comes to Naruto. Girl, my birthday wish for you is that you get to watch/read the anime/manga of Naruto so Sir James and I will get to crack Naruto jokes with you (and he has plenty of that ).

Happy Eightieth Birthday, Kyte! Sorry if I revealed your age [wicked grin]. The baby is now a lady…a very old lady, with an NC-17 mind. [hugs her friend] You are now Ate Kyte! Ha ha! And kyte-chan, I know this is pointless mush, but Sir James asked me to try to infect you with romance. Ain't too much to ask from my favorite chatmate eh? {Plus it's not angsty he he he)

[ Signed. Your Hime-chan]


"So you won't be able to make it in my birthday then?" asked Tomoyo as Eriol pushed her swing seat for her.

The boy shook his head. "But if you tell me now what you want for your birthday, then perhaps I can make a way to get it for you now."

She had to smile at his confidence. He was not the reincarnation of the powerful Clow Reed for nothing. Had she asked for the moon, she knew he could find a way to make the night queen kiss her good night. Nothing less was to be expected from Hiiragizawa Eriol.

That was exactly what was on her mind when she gave him his request.

"For my fourteenth birthday, I want to get married." Her lilac eyes softened. "To you."


The first thing her eyes went to was the silver band on her right hand, and then at the empty living room. She groaned audibly.

She had grown used to the hollow silence of the mansion. She had accepted the shadows and the emptiness as her only companion. Ironic, for she—the one and only heiress of the Daidouji business empire her mother had built almost single-handedly—had no options in her hand. Beggars couldn't be choosers, so they say.

After her mother had passed away, she had went on a voluntary recluse way of living. She sent the multitude of maids and househelpers away, sold her company and used the proceeds to support her almost Spartan way of living, and closed the doors of the Daidouji gates from the rest of the world. She had chosen this life as a means of unpainful existence—she was neither sad nor happy. But she existed in contentment, and that was enough.

Yet fate had a funny way of getting in one's plans, and in her case, changing everything she outlined for herself in her months of isolation.

It all began when she heard small taps and scratches on her usually closed window. This puzzled her so—the garden of the Daidouji mansion was some distances away from the main gate, so it couldn't be anyone who was just passing by and had decided to throw something against the window. Besides, people knew better than to do that—along with her seclusion came the severance of the once regal Daidouji compound from the rest of the neighborhood. High grasses and vines had covered the whole vicinity, making the place seem like a haunted house straight out of horror movies. Not one of the town folks had dared to enter her barriers, smugness aside.

So how in the world could something be scratching outside her window after her seven months of perfect silence?

She calmed herself down. It could have just been a stray cat toying with the frosted glass window, or a bird lodging itself in its hinges, hoping to find a space to rest for a moment. Nevertheless, curiosity overwhelmed her, so she quietly went to the window and carefully pushed it open, peeking in held breath for whatever was behind the casement.

The first thing she saw was black fur. She pushed the window some more, and the next thing she heard was something dropping down the ground in a dull thud. Tying her shawl over her shoulders, she hurried outside the house to check on whatever fell down.

But the moment she arrived there, she realized what a big mistake she did, leaving the safety of her cocoon.

For in the ground laid the body of an unconscious man with familiar dark azure hair and even more familiar facial features that had aroused the first frightened excitement she ever felt in her life.

Hiiragizawa Eriol-kun. Her husband.

After four years, here he was right in front of her again, just like she secretly wished before in countless nights in the past.

"You have to help him." Spinel floated quietly to meet her startled gaze. "I think he fell unconscious."

Fighting the trembling in her body, she knelt before the man and checked his temperature. She withdrew it quickly, shaking her head. "A fever." Now she was left with no choice but to take him in. Testing her strength and his weight, she draped his arm around her shoulders and heaved him up. She looked at the mansion, and then sighed quietly. This was going to be a long, long way up to her room.


She was busy cooking dinner when she heard a throat being cleared behind her. She turned around and found her patient standing by the doorway, an uncertain smile on his face.

Her gaze went back to the soup she was stirring, not bothering to contribute anything to break the awkward silence.

"So what Sakura-san said was right…you were keeping yourself imprisoned in this barred enclosure," he said, taking his seat at the dining table.

"You still have fever, Hiiragizawa-kun. It's best that you stay in your room," she said, satisfied by the nonchalant release of her words that belied her rampaging heartbeat. Four years wasn't enough to overcome his peculiar effect on her.

He didn't seem to get the hint at once, or more probably, he chose to ignore her allusion. "I nearly did not recognize your mansion…I didn't know that it was turned into a rainforest already. That, or this is a shooting place for Rapunzel or something."

She eyed him warily. "This is my idea of a landscape. Do you have a problem with that?"

He chuckled and reached for a chair. She felt her eyes automatically go to his right hand. The glittering silver band was placed on his ring finger proudly. When she looked up, she saw his eyes laughing at her. She turned her back on him wordlessly and continued to eat.

"Thank you for taking care of me." He watched as she drew towards him and placed a porcelain bowl and silver spoon before him, and then went back to her place in front of the stove. "I had already felt the signs of a sickness before I left London, but I refused to be stopped by anything. I had to come here."

She turned her gaze at him coolly. "I appreciate the efforts, Hiiragizawa-kun, but I must tell you that a social call is the last thing I want to entertain right now." She used her kitchen padded mittens to lift the pot and transfer its contents to a standby glass bowl on the countertop. "After your fever subsides, you are free to walk out of the front doors already."

He chuckled silently. "This is the first time that a woman had been so forthright in making me go away. I had no idea how it wreaks havoc on one's ego…until now." He quietly accepted the serving of beef soup that she provided him mechanically. "And a woman who happens to be my wife…"

She pretended to ignore his last statement. "I'm sorry if I had to be rude, Hiiragizawa-kun," she said stiffly, serving him a pitcher of orange juice. "But in the first place, I shouldn't be doing this. You are anything but a visitor…you are a trespasser, mind you. But I keep in consideration your sickness, that is why you are being treated to a free dinner even if this is the last thing an intruder should have."

"Ouch," he said smilingly. "Indeed, you have changed. You are a far cry from the friendly, ever-smiling best friend of the clow mistress. The Daidouji-san I know would never say that to me even in her worst of moods."

"Unfortunately, that Daidouji-san you know is gone." She untied the strings of her apron and folded it neatly. "Dead."

"Why?" he asked, dabbing the corner of his mouth with the table napkin placed conveniently near him. "Why did you dispose of my Daidouji-san?"

"Watch your tongue, Mister. You don't own an inch of me," she hissed.

"That is open to discussion, I believe," he shrugged, his eyes darting towards her own silver ring. She clenched her fists in embarrassment. "Nevertheless, please answer my question."

She composed herself quietly before she proceeded to reply. "Because the Daidouji-san you know will die in loneliness with the way of my existence now."

He frowned. "Things don't have to be this way. You were the one who closed the doors—"

"Because that is the only way I can protect myself, Hiiragizawa-kun," she explained. "After Mother died, I had no one anymore." She tried to ease the tension in her voice with a quick sip of orange juice. "I will never want to live those nights again when I cried alone, wishing for Mother's presence." She leaned back on her seat, exhausted. "She was never really there, but she was tangible. Do you understand? With her loss, my worst fear had been confirmed. I'm all alone."

"So why are you living in your fear?" Eriol wanted to know.

"I've accepted it. If I can't fight it—"

He detected the resignation in her voice. "But you CAN fight it—and that fact is what really frightens you, Daidouji Tomoyo."

Her cheeks reddened. "Out. Get OUT of my house!"

Smiling, the man got up. "I'm leaving, but I'll be back."


She collapsed back at her seat as the whistling male left her house, the black feline trailing after him. She wanted to say, "Good Riddance!", if she was not dazed by what he said.

What right did he have telling her what to do with her life?


When she woke up the next day, she already knew that something was wrong. Nothing seemed as constant as it used to be in her seven months of solitary life. This was confirmed by the unwashed plates in the sink—she had skipped her evening chore last night because she was still upset by the visit of the enigmatic Hiiragizawa Eriol.

She found herself cursing him silently. All because of his unexpected arrival in her house, in her territory, IN HER LIFE, her whole system had been disturbed. She decided to channel out her irritation at him through the plates and the rest of the house chores that keep her busy and sane in her confinement in the mansion.

But deep within her she knew that she was just making a fool out of herself. Nothing would ever be the same again—the moment she willingly brought him inside her house, she knew the primary walls of her desolate world had collapsed into dust.


That night, after finishing her chores and reading the books she had bought in one of her rare trips downtown, she decided to get started on dinner. She went to the rice dispenser and before she could realize it, she pushed 2 instead of 1. She slapped herself mentally, and then shrugged. She would just have to reheat the excess rice tomorrow so she won't have to cook again. She readied the rice, and then turned her attention at the canned goods that were usually her meal. She found herself heading for the refrigerator and getting the meat out to be thawed. She was jotting down the ingredients of her special beef casserole when she stopped, blushing faintly. Why did she suddenly decide to cook something tonight? It wasn't like her, since she preferred eating heavily at lunch.

Pushing the thought away, she got started on preparing the dishes.

An hour and a half later, she had brought out two sets of plates, silverware, and glasses. She smiled wryly. Now she had no excuse for that.

She headed for her room and took a quick evening shower, as her routine usually asks. However, when she stepped into her favorite pale blue night gown with French lace and silk ribbons, she knew that she was definitely out of her mind.

It was eight in the evening, an hour past her supposed dinner time. She had no choice but to eat too, trying not to glance at the empty seat beside her. An hour later, she was resting in the recliner near the front door, a book she couldn't concentrate on sitting on her chest. The calming herbal tea she made for herself was untouched, and her eyes were on the silver wall clock hanging by the doorway. It was a minute to go before her bedtime.

She shut her heavy lids and allowed her consciousness to drift away, willing herself not to feel the disappointment within her.


"By the power bestowed upon me, I now pronounce you man and wife." Kinomoto Fujitaka smiled down at his niece and the Londoner boy who seemed to be uncomfortable in the situation.

Tomoyo beamed at her uncle gratefully. It took some time to convince him to do the ceremony, but the university professor reluctantly gave in when she said that this was Eriol's parting gift for her.

She felt him tug at her hand. After waving goodbye at Sakura's father, she held her husband's hand and pulled him towards the swing set again. "There! At least I have something to hold on even if you go."

"I was surprised that Mr. Kinomoto agreed with the ceremony," he said, amused. "Anyway, I can never understand what went to your mind to ask of me something as that but…"

"But…?" she prompted, enjoying how the ring seemed to shimmer when a ray of the setting sun hits it.

"At least I know you will always remember my birthday gift," he said, chuckling. "Although why you picked me is beyond my knowledge. Is it because I was the person who you were with when that idea hit you?"

"Sometimes, there are just things that even powerful reincarnations of mages shouldn't have to know," she said, feeling her cheeks warm pleasantly. "But Hiiragizawa-kun, if you must know, it is only you whom I am most comfortable with to offer marriage to."

Silence passed, and then Eriol chuckled.

"That means a lot to me, Daidouji-san," he said softly.


She was awakened by something caressing her cheek. She opened her eyes and found Eriol's smiling face looking down at her, the familiar amused smile that endeared her to him years ago placed prominently on his handsome face. He allowed his hand to drop by his sides, but his gaze was unwavering.

"You waited for me," he said, not hiding his delight at that fact.

She felt her cheeks redden. Her eyes went to the bags by his feet. "And those are…?"

"My things," he shrugged. "If I am to intrude upon your privacy, I might as well do it completely."

"Y-You're going to live here?!" she cried.

"Uh-huh." He nodded cheerfully. "I've decided to take my vacation in Tomoeda, and since I have no place to stay in…"

"You're out of your mind, Mister," she snapped. "No way will you live here!"

"You would rather leave me shivering in the streets, Daidouji-san?" He scratched his temple. "Hey, we did become friends back in elementary… and close friends in high school…" His eyes twinkled knowingly. "Really, really, close, if my memory serves me right…"

"Don't remind me!" she snapped, getting up. Her abrupt movement caused her book to fall, and by instinct, they both reached for it at the same time.

She ignored the skipping of her heartbeat, or the electrifying touch of his hand. She played dumb when his breath fanned her ears, making goosebumps rise all over her body. But her restraint broke when she felt his hand cup her face tenderly.

"Look at me, Daidouji-san," he commanded softly, stirring her heartbeat even more. "Never once did I stop thinking of the wife I left here."

Liar!" she hissed, willing herself not to look at his hypnotizing blue eyes. "You never wrote back! You promised to keep in touch!"

"Ssh." He pressed his forehead on hers gently. "I'm sorry, my Daidouji-san. I'm so sorry. I merely respected the wishes of your mother."

"M-My mother?" She looked up, startled. How did her ever-too-busy parent get involved here?

"Mr. Kinomoto told Daidouji-sama about my little present," he said, grinning sheepishly. "And your mother nearly suffered a heart attack, or so I was told. She had barely recovered from Nadeshiko-san's disappearance, and now her daughter is being threatened to be taken away from her for the same reason. I guess she reacted violently, and the next think I know, I received a visit from Daidouji-sama." He smoothed her cheek with the back of his palm. "She told me to give you more years to enjoy your childhood, and for her, more years to be with her almost estranged daughter. At first, I was thinking of telling her that it was all in the name of a birthday whim by her daughter." He smiled at the change of her facial expression. "But when she started talking, I decided that when I married my Daidouji-san and professed my undying love for her, I actually meant everything I said."

"E-Everything?" she whispered, almost in disbelief.

"Everything," he affirmed. "Especially that one part: that I will love you and cherish you, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. How can I not mean them, when the first time I ever saw you, I knew that you were the only one to arouse in me a protective instinct I hadn't felt for anyone else in my entire life."

"Because there was no one else," she pointed out dryly.

"Exactly," he nodded. "It was only you. I was born again not to meet someone like you, but exactly you."

She shook her head. "H-How can I believe you…for four years you were gone and suddenly you're back…"

"Listen to your heart," he ordered. "What does it say?"

She closed her eyes tightly, and then smiled slowly as she slowly opened her eyes. "You're home, husband dear."

He smiled and lowered his face down towards her. "Hello, wife."

At the night of her eighteenth birthday, her dreams came true. She finally was complete. The mansion was no longer so big and empty and hollow…

The man of the house was home.


(the end)