Of Things Unexpected

by A Pinch of Salt

Chapter One: Seven Years Later

Tomoeda, Japan...

It was February 27th, and the students of Seijuu High School were reveling in fresh snowfall. At least, the foolish ones were, in Sakura Kinomoto's opinion. It was almost the end of the horridly cold winter of her graduating year, and she was cuddled up in multiple blankets in front of the fire, sipping cocoa, and reading the day's mail.

And there IT was. The letter, postmarked Hong Kong, which she had been anticipating for what seemed like an eternity. The sound of paper ripping was heard, and then the ringing of a phone.

"Hello?"

"Did you get it?"

"Yeah, just now."

"And?"

"Yup, got in. You?"

"Same."

Even over the phone, Sakura could picture Tomoyo's cheeky grin.

"Sakura, you do know where it is, don't you?"

"Yes, Tomoyo, even I know that Hong Kong University is in Hong Kong."

"I wonder..." mused Tomoyo, with exaggerated innocence. "If your brother knows yet..."

"Are you crazy?! Of course not! He'd have conniptions!!"

"And you aren't going to be around when your dad tells him, hmm?"

Sakura grinned. "Aww, you found out my evil plan."

"Do you know, Sakura, who might just possibly be going to university with us?"

"Syaoran," mumbled Sakura, blushing.

"What was that, Sakura?"

"Syaoran..." A fraction louder.

"Who?" asked Tomoyo, in sing-song voice.

"Syaoran Li," said Sakura, in her normal voice.

"I can't hear you..." piped Tomoyo, tauntingly.

"Syaoran Li!!" yelled Sakura into the phone. "And yes, I'm bloody well incredibly happy about it!"

"Sakura! I'm surprised at you," admonished Tomoyo, pressing the 'stop' button on the tape recorder she had been holding to the phone, and smirking. "I was going to say that Eriol and Sayau will be going with us."

Sakura's face turned crimson, and Tomoyo, who had a sixth sense about these things, started giggling.

--

On the blissfully warm day of August 27th, the entire graduating class of Seijuu High School assembled at the Tokyo International Airport to bid a fond farewell to some of Tomoeda's brightest. Bear in mind, of course, that the entire graduating class of Seijuu High consisted of some 36 students. Yes, Tomoeda was a small town. Even so, time must take its course everywhere, and the little city had changed somewhat over the years.

Chiharu Mihara and Takashi Yamazaki were exactly the same as ever, but they were now engaged, as everyone knew they would someday be.

Kaho Mizuki had left when they were in grade ten for England. Rika Sasaki and Yoshiyuki Tereda had left for the same not long after.

Naoko Yanagisawa was still the avid bookworm and writer, though it is probably safe to say that none of her stories had come to life since the advent of the Create card.

Touya Kinomoto split his time between work, hanging out with Yukito, and cowering under his bed. This was a common occurrence since Nakuru had taken up residence in the apartment building across the street from the Kinomoto house.

Tomoyo Daidouji had begun, and was still, dating Eriol Hiirgizawa, and it had been heard through the grapevine that Eriol had composed a special song for their upcoming eight year anniversary (to which is was finally Sakura's turn to squeal "kawaii!!!").

Sakura Kinomoto had grown up a little, and was now dating Sayau Yamamoto, the newest addition to their little group. Sayau, with blue-green eyes and neat black hair, had come to Tomoeda on the exact one year anniversary of the last time that anyone of them had seen Syaoran Li. Sakura and he had been dating for almost a year, but it wasn't a very close, lovey-dovey sort of relationship, and, as Sakura was still very much in love with Syaoran, it wasn't a very stable relationship either. No doubt this leads to late angst-filled nights on both parts...

Meiling Li had not been seen since her grandmother had fallen sick, back in the fifth grade, when she was summoned back to Hong Kong. Syaoran, too, had left soon after the infamous battle against Eriol, and only the occasional, negligible letter had been received from the two of them (that is to say, they all ran like this: "Hi, how are all of you and your families. We are doing well, and hope you are the same. Nice to hear from you. Goodbye." They suspected that neither Syaoran nor Meiling ever got to see, let alone write, these letters.)

But back at the airport on that August morning, another change was about to take place. Sakura, Tomoyo, Eriol, and Sayau were about to depart for Hong Kong University.

Hong Kong, China...

Slash...sidestep...lunge...step...jab...duck...

Sounds of metal clashing against metal filled the empty corridor for an instant, and then all fell silent.

"Good match, Xiao Lang." The man with blond hair bowed in a show of respect.

"Yes, better luck next time, Shin Re." The voice was serene, with a touch of casual condescension.

The blond man bowed once again, and left the room.

The great silver sword turned into a black onyx pedant, in the hands of its master. He was tall, 5'9" to be exact, with eyes of amber-gold, suggestive of barely subdued fire, and chestnut-brown hair falling untidily over a solemn face. He was of the Li Clan, named Xiao Lang, the Wolf Cub. First of sons, the successor, the leader, the heir.

He was well known as a martial arts expert and great duelist. One that the Li Clan record books would remember. Fresh out of a minor victory, he now wore a glint of satisfaction in his eyes. He was unbeatable, his expertise and magical power far exceeding expectations. He had been trained to be devoid of emotion. A neutral expression was always on his face, and no one had ever seen him smile. That was until he met one Sakura Kinomoto.

Seven long years ago, he was Syaoran Li. The boy who had learnt the meaning of love. And Syaoran had made a promise. A promise to the one person he had ever really cared about. The one person he loved. A promise that they would meet again. That one day he would come back. And Xiao Lang Li always kept his word.

He assumed fighting stance again, limbs thrashing against invisible adversaries. He would not, could not, think of her now. That would be lunge, smack the ruin of him.

"Xiao Lang!" A feminine voice admonished him, with something between affection and aggravation. "What are you doing here? Training ended ages ago."

"Oh, hey Meiling," and his tone softened, as he glanced up at his favorite cousin.

"You train way too much."

"Go away, Meiling."

"Xiao Lang?" She, too, had fallen into the habit of addressing him by his Chinese name.

He stopped. "What?"

"Aunt Yelan wants to see you."

"Huh? Doushite?"

She smiled. He always let Japanese words escape when he thought of Sakura.

"I don't know, but you better hurry."

"You're not lying to get me to stop training, are you?"

"No!" she exclaimed with mock indignation. "How could you suspect me of such a thing?"

"Well, there was the time you said Elder Tehchow wanted to see me urgently, and I burst in on him having a shower..."

Meiling giggled. "Okay, okay, but that was just once."

Syaoran smirked at her. "I won't mention the other forty seven times then."

"Hey! Do you think that every single one of those horribly tasteless pranks were my idea?"

"Couldn't have said it better myself."

Meiling stalked over, and shoved him out the door, and into the hallway. "Go, damn you! Before I hurt you!" She added threateningly.

"You couldn't possibly."

"Oh, I so could, and you know it."

"Of course," Syaoran said, smiling amiably. "But to the best of my knowledge, Hell has yet to freeze over."

Meiling slammed the door in his face.

The Airport...

"Well, we're here," said Sakura, glancing around the unfamiliar city in trepidation.

"Yup. We're here." Tomoyo took out her camera, shrugging.

"We're not supposed to be here, are we?" asked Sayau.

"Of course we're supposed to be here," Eriol deadpanned. "Everyone knows that Hong Kong University is in Calcutta."

The Li Clan Mansion...

Syaoran made his way, reluctantly, through the huge mansion, up to his mother's study. The study he would inherit when he became the Leader of the Li Clan. More reluctantly still, he knocked.

"Xiao Lang, enter please." The commanding voice of his mother was heard. He opened the door. Yelan Li was beautiful. She had dark hair of pure ebony, and dusky eyes that could be piercing, commanding, or soothing at will.

"You wished to see me, mother?" Syaoran couldn't help his voice from hardening. He loved his mother, truly he did, but the last time she had taken him away from the girl he loved.

"Yes, Xiao Lang, my son. As you know, you will soon be entering university."

Syaoran nodded. 'Obviously'

"The courses you take are entirely up to you, as you will not be needing any of them, when you take your position as Leader of the Li Clan."

'Oh, the irony,' was his embittered thought.

"However..."

'There was always a catch'

"To further your training..."

'Ah yes, the phrase that spelt certain doom'

"We have decided that you will co-teach the Martial Arts course here at Hong Kong University."

"WHAT?!" he exploded.

His mother arched an eyebrow and Syaoran subsided immediately.

"But, Mother---"

"No 'buts', Xiao Lang. You will do so, unless you can give me a good reason why you should give up this excellent opportunity."

Syaoran stayed silent, but cursed himself mentally. All his reasons had to do with Sakura, and he knew that they would never stand for that. The Clan had refused to let him speak to her, other than the occasional letter or present they shared, and he wished, oh how he wished, he could hear her voice just once more.

His plan had been to escape to Tokyo University, and contact her from his position in Japan. His marks were certainly good enough, and he could have continued training there. He could have even remained in China if they insisted. But being forced to stay in Hong Kong? Under the watchful eye of his mother, and the elders... That was too much!

"You're thinking about the Cardmistress, are you not, my son?"

He looked up, face red.

"Well, I-"

"It is alright, Xiao Lang. The elders have come to the conclusion that she would be a good match for you. Her magic is strong and pure, and she possesses the cards." Her voice grew almost... impish? "She would bear powerful children."

Syaoran blinked.

"You may go."

And he blinked again.

"Er... that means anytime you want to, just..." She motioned "away" with her hands.

He bowed awkwardly and left the room, mind reeling. 'I can't believe my mother just said that!' he thought to himself, ears going pink at the recollection. Imagine! Him and Sakura ---but Syaoran would not think of it.

"So...she told you?" asked Meiling, catching up to him in the hallway.

"Hai," he answered, absently. Syaoran had the high-developed skill of being able to focus his brain on something else and still carry on a semi-coherent conversation. This was truly an accomplishment, since most men don't manage it until at least the second year of marriage.

Meiling giggled. "You really have to be more careful. That's the second time today you've switched to Japanese."

"I know..."

"Would you stop it with that? It feels as if you're not listening to me at all!" complained Meiling, futilely.

"Yes, I understand..."

"Xiao Lang, are you even listening to me?"

"Of course..."

"Communists squirrels are running a debate team in our basement, and need to borrow all your furniture for their tournament."

"Yeah, tell them to return it in the morning..." mumbled Syaoran. 'I wonder if Sakura remembers me?'

"The future most brilliant research scientist in the world thinks we should kill all the homeless people. "

"Well, if he's brilliant, that's alright then..." 'I'm prepared to fight for her love... if that's what it takes. Um... sort of...if I don't completely chicken out again...'

"Er... some kids in Canada were bombarded with nuclear weapons for saying the letters L and H too often."

"Yes, um... terrible what happens, eh?" 'Right, of course, I won't, of course. Because I love her, and she possibly maybe might love me too. My sweet cherry blossom...' And here he blushed.

Meiling facefaulted. "Lost in Sakura-dreamland again, are we?"

Syaoran grinned sheepishly and denied nothing.

Pounding footsteps were heard in the corridor. A tall boy, with light-brown hair, and eyes of dark aquamarine raced up to them.. He looked a little like Syaoran, though exactly how was quite a mystery. Their facial shapes, and hair and eye color was different, but there was something about both of them that was unmistakably "Li". His name was Ryusuke, Ryu for short.

Ryu had grown up training with Syaoran and Meiling. The three of them had never been close, but that changed when they came back from Tomoeda. He had been Meiling's best friend in those months after she came back, when she desperately needed comforting. For a while, she had been too blinded by her 'love' for Syaoran, to realize what she felt for him. When Syaoran came back from Japan, and the engagement was negated, Meiling and Ryu finally had the chance to realize what they felt for each other. They had been dating for the last 5 years, and the Clan approved their marriage in the future (a rather redundant approval, because Ryu and Meiling were stubborn enough to run away and elope, but nevertheless, one of the few things that the elders had done to make life easier).

"Did they tell him?" inquired Ryu, when he had finally caught his breath. Syaoran muttered something almost inaudible. If swearwords could kill, Earth would be a barren, deserted planet.

"Yeah, they told him," Meiling answered, weaving her hand with Ryu's. "And, boy, is he pissed."

"Why can't I just be a normal kid?" protested Syaoran.

"Because then you wouldn't have magic," answered Meiling, cleverly.

"Yeah, thanks, never would've figured that one out."

"You're welcome," she chirped, smiling at him.

--

Syaoran opened his closet and picked two items of clothing without looking at them. They always matched, if only because all his shirts were green and all his pants were black.

He ran his fingers through his hair, and was ready to go. Syaoran had stopped trying to fix his hair with gel after that embarrassing incident when a lock of his hair that had been ceremoniously tossed into the fire and the resulting explosion had burned the eyebrows off the most respected Clan elder.

Suddenly, his head shot up. An aura of immense power had just crossed his consciousness. Two auras actually. Could it be that... but he shook his head. What would they be doing in Hong Kong? As Syaoran headed down to the main hallway he felt the auras again. Deep blue and bright pink. It couldn't be!

And yet he knew, in his heart of hearts, that it was. A goofy grin appeared on Syaoran's face for a moment, and was then replaced by a look of utmost horror. He bounded down the corridor, up three flights of stairs, into his room, wrenched open the door to his closet, and stared at the contents. The girl he loved was in town, and Syaoran faced the legendary problem that has tormented the souls of otherwise sane men ever since Adam couldn't decide between a fig leaf and a palm leaf.

What was he going to WEAR?!?!?