I don't own CCS and Tsubasa Chronicles Reservoir, but I do own the story in this fic and things that are non-CCS and non-Tsubasa Chronicles Reservoir related. All the name of places, historical events and other things mentioned, which you don't seem to know IRL, are products of my imagination. Any similarities with the actual thing are purely coincidental.
From Previous Chapter:
Female Reporter: My oh my, ladies and gentlemen. Looks like the game InterVEST will hold more surprises. It gives one the feeling of getting thrown in the middle of a chaotic war…survival of the fittest…this deed of SkyLark had made us realized.
Male Reporter: This is no longer a game. This is another weapon given unconsciously to its players.
Female Reporter: And SkyLark had a head start widening its gap from the others.
Male Reporter: Will Li Syaoran go for the total kill?
Female Reporter: Well that is something…all of us must wait and see.
Syaoran's mouth dropped open. He can't believe what he just heard. Around him, the noisy café grew silent with all eyes fixed on him. He looked at them with bewildered eyes.
"I…I didn't do anything." His voice almost came out a whisper.
But he only got stares.
"Wei-san…" He slowly placed a hand around the old man's shoulders.
"I think…I need to borrow your laptop." He said.
"Of course, Sir."
He raked his fingers in his hair. "I really think I should go online…now."
Chapter Twenty-Two: "Someone Suspects"
The sound of a nearby drill rang throughout the construction site as its metal hands pounded against the cement. Its power vibrated against the earth causing the workers to find something to hold onto. The heat of the sun stung against their backs as they waited for the machine to correct their error. Yellow protection helmets glistened as heads started to nod. Amongst all, two tall figures stood out. It was apparent that they were wearing different kind of clothes, corporate type ones compared to the gray jumper worn by the construction workers.
"I hope this will do it right." The dark-haired one remarked.
"Don't worry, Touya. According to my calculations…it will." His companion answered.
Touya sighed. "I can't believe that you actually overlooked it, Yukito. This is the first time you actually made a mistake." He placed a hand on his hips as he examined the difference between the structure built before him and the one in his design.
The two friends were currently at the Kinomoto Developers Corp's most recent site. It was another hopeless-looking dump site being rehabilitated into a golf course. Yes, a golf course. Kinomoto Fujitaka stroke again with his outrageous plans. His son could only heave a sigh. Even so, everything seemed to be getting well until Yukito made a terrible and much unexpected error.
Yukito smiled apologetically as he scratched his head. "I'm really sorry, Touya. I didn't know why I slipped."
Touya smirked. "Forget it. It's not like you are always like this. If you screw up once every eight years, that's fine by me."
"Even so…" The silver-haired man glanced at the huge structure that was supposed to handle an underground water system to support Touya's luscious green landscape and steel artwork frame at the entrance. A tiny misassumption below deformed the thing on top, hence, making the difficult design of the unicorn trapped inside the mist-like formation of steel stuck out like some kind of sculpture detached from the wall instead of blending in. "…it did much damage to your beautiful design, Touya."
The taller man waved his hand. "No need for you to go all devastated about it. Like what I said…it is not everyday that you screw up."
Yukito's eyes traveled down the rough surface of the cement-clad ground. No matter what Touya said, he still felt bad about the whole thing, mainly because he knew that his mind really wasn't where it was supposed to be.
Then, where exactly was this mind of his?
A frown unconsciously crept on his forehead. It was rare for him to actually furrow his brows, but he could no longer contain the anxiousness that had grown inside him.
It has been three days…
…since InterVEST announced the so-called ultimate patch which rocked the whole business world.
It has been three days…
…since Li Syaoran was finally revealed as Helroi Damaski-is.
It has been three days…
…since the said player submitted his and Agatha's marriage contract which made them the very first citizens of the new virtual city of Arakkis; hence gave SkyLark, the corporation which was a result of their merge, a head start in the unending battle of stocks and trades online.
Yet…it has been merely two days…
…since Yulleses Grevor contacted me and dropped an offer of alliance to bring the great Li Syaoran aka Helroi Damaski-is down.
Yukito took a deep breath.
The older man suggested that they find Agatha's true identity and convince her to divorce Damaski-is using Section 41, which will make the tenacious player lose many real world assets considering that right from the start, he was betting on real money and not just game gold. He was given twenty-four hours to decide, but it only took him a couple of hours to come up with an answer.
He said 'NO' to Grevor.
And his answer still remained 'No' even when Skylark started acquiring ten companies simultaneously like a tiger in hiding and suddenly jumping at a group of antelopes; gnawing them down one by one. It was unexpected but entirely possible. People would have freaked out but instead they got angry since it was the abominable Li Syaoran that was behind it. Probably even pissed as to why they didn't even think of the strategy first.
Even so… Yukito thought. …it was no longer my problem.
He was not interested with the new city. He was not a businessman after all.
I'm an engineer. He reminded himself.
If his character once became affiliated with Damaski-is, all of those possibilities might have been an option, but everything went down the drain the moment he found out about the veteran player's true identity. Now, he played InterVEST only as a game and nothing more. This was what he kept telling himself all this time.
Then, how come…he felt uncomfortable inside?
"Ah, there you go!" Touya's voice interrupted his thoughts.
"Hmmm…?" Yukito murmured blankly.
The taller man arched a brow as he looked at him strangely. "You really are spacing out." He remarked then pointed at the dig before them. "I was commenting on the output the drill made which made it possible for the pipelines to form evenly underneath."
"Oh!" Yukito checked apologetically which erased the frown on his face.
"Eh?" Touya crossed his arms. "And here I was thinking that you were frowning because you were in deep thought in regards to the activities in front of you and might be planning ahead or meticulously watching over the worker's tasks…but it seems that your mind is far away." His friend glanced at him intently.
Yukito just smiled and slightly bowed his head. "I'm really sorry, Touya. I don't know what's happening to me lately." Inside, he silently wished that he wouldn't be this transparent to the other man who seemed to have a knack in pinpointing his troubled moments. Then again, he was glad that Touya couldn't read thoughts. Heaven knows what his reaction will be. He thought.
"Oh look!" He suddenly remarked cheerfully. "It seems like it is going as planned. I told you it's going to work." He followed his words with a light chuckle.
Touya looked like he was about to say something serious, but eventually closed his mouth and glanced towards the construction. He gave a small smirk. "That's what I've been trying to say to you all this time."
Yukito smiled once more. He was relieved that his friend didn't pursue the topic, but for this long that he had known Touya, it would probably be brought up again later.
"Okay, spill it. Tell me what's bothering you." Touya slumped back on his seat and tapped his fingers on the table as he waited for the silver-haired man to speak.
It was minutes after noon and the construction whistle had long past blew which indicated lunch break for every fellow at the project site. Both men decided to eat in a fairly-styled restaurant in a shopping centre a few kilometers from the construction area. Normally, they would dine somewhere along the vicinity of the site, but since things were looking up, they were done for that day and left the workers to do their job.
Yukito glanced outside the glass window and pretended to observe the shoppers who passed by. Internally, he was debating on what to tell his friend. He knew that sooner or later, the dark-haired man will reopen the subject.
"Well?" Touya asked once more. He eyed the man before him intently and expected for him to start narrating, but instead, the silver-haired man just smiled cheerfully at him. Any trace of troublesome marks on his face was extinguished.
"It's nothing, Touya." Yukito remarked with his voice full of its usual gentleness and ease. "Really…it is really nothing."
"Hum?" But his friend didn't look convinced.
Yukito tilted his head in an apologetic manner. "Perhaps I was just tired and stressed out. I've been doing a lot of things lately. Maybe, I just need some rest or something."
Touya's mouth was set in a grim line as he stared at the man before him. "I am aware that this is one of father's hard projects. It should be causing stress to both of us; then again…this isn't the toughest project he had laid upon us. We have tackled more difficult ones in the past." He pointed out.
Yukito scratched the back of his head in another apologetic gesture. "It was just really one of those days when everything goes wrong, Touya. Again, I am sorry."
By this time, a frown became evident on Touya's forehead. It was acceptable that Yukito was also capable of making mistakes. He was just a human after all. What was troubling him was the way his friend furrowed his brows back at the site and started drifting away at the matter at hand. Yukito having such expression was very rare…really, really rare. He had known the man for many years now and he had only seen him doing that twice, excluding the event earlier. And for both occasions, it was either due to unpleasant things or troublesome thoughts. So now, as he looked at his friend, Touya wondered which it was. Then again, Yukito was keeping a solid wall this time. He had kept on denying what it was that was troubling him, unlike before, he had openly consulted Touya.
"Oh…food's here." Yukito's light voice broke Touya's trail of thought.
"Yeah…" Touya gestured thanks to the waiter who brought it and watched as Yukito dug into his plate. Well, at least he still hasn't lost his appetite. He thought. Maybe, I shouldn't worry and wait till he is comfortable enough to tell me.
Yukito glanced up as he sensed an intense stare from the other man. "Hmmm?" He blinked at him.
But Touya only smiled side wards. "Nothing." And with that he started eating the food that was placed in front of him.
"I can't believe that she actually did this!" Syaoran exclaimed exasperatingly to his lawyer as he threw a stack of papers on top of his desk.
It had been a couple of days since SkyLark started acquiring ten known companies within an hour's time span. It had been a couple of days since SkyLark made the news…
…together with his name up in front as the notorious cold-blooded businessman.
The young Li ruffled his chestnut hair briskly and slumped down on the leather executive chair with traces of desperation on his eyes.
"Everyone thought it was me, Eriol! When all this time it was that blasted Kinomoto's doing!" He gestured his arms on the air; obviously troubled with the whole scenario, but the other man just sighed and remained calmly seated on a chair in front of the president's table.
"Yes…yes…you've been shouting that over and over again for two days now." The blue-haired lawyer remarked as he took his glasses off and started wiping it with a piece of white cloth.
"Ha!" Syaoran suddenly perked up from his chair and pointed a finger at his friend. "You can't fool me with that composed attitude of yours. I know deep inside you are also highly bothered as well due to the fact that you are doing that thing you always do with your glasses in such situations." He pertained to Eriol's habit of cleaning his glasses out of no where.
But the man denied. "Nonsense. There was just a little dirt in my spectacles that I needed to this."
Syaoran sank back on his chair with a look of disdain on his face. "Yeah right." He said sarcastically. "Liar." He hissed.
The other man seemed surprised with this sudden childish behavior from the alleged businessman. "Oh? You are really this troubled then?" He arched an inquiring brow. "It is rare for your mood to slipped this much." He laughed and wore his glasses once more.
"This is not a funny thing, Eriol!" Syaoran snapped. This time, anger flashed across his eyes.
"Hey," The lawyer placed his hands in front of him defensively. "It's not like I didn't warn you. I've asked you many times before…if you really are sure in forging an alliance with Agatha. I told you right from the start that she wasn't even your ally in InterVEST, so don't look that angry with me."
The younger man had his mouth set in a grim line, but nevertheless he riveted back into a less hostile demeanor. "Yeah…you are right." He murmured as he dropped his head on his oak desk and buried his face on his hands to continue his gloomy atmosphere.
Upon seeing this, Eriol sighed and crossed his legs. "I don't see why you are being so down. I mean…it's not like you have a good sweet reputation anyway. People called you worse in the past. I don't get it as to why you are very bothered this time." He pointed out.
"Because I didn't do it!" The Li exclaimed once more as he banged his palms on the table which made some papers scatter.
"Ho-hum?" Eriol looked at Syaoran slyly. "Is that a plead of innocence?"
"Of course, it is! What else would it be?" The younger man replied.
"Oh…I don't know…" The lawyer lingered. "…that statement of yours can also imply a 'Why didn't I think of that?' or 'Why does she has to be the one to get to do such a entertaining thing first?'"
Syaoran's mouth dropped open. "Are you actually saying that I am acting this way because I'm envious of her for being wittier than I am in executing such a bold task before I can even think about it?"
Eriol smiled tauntingly. "Yes."
Syaoran threw his hands on the air. "I can't believe this! I can't believe that you are actually taking her side on this one."
"I'm not taking her side." The lawyer said firmly. "I'm just pointing out a possible source of that frustrated emotion of yours."
"How many times do I have to tell you not to use that psychology thing you often use in court on me?" He gritted his teeth. "That is so irritating."
"It is only irritating when the reason is true." Eriol pointed out matter-of-factly.
"Well it is NOT true." Syaoran stressed. His patience was obviously going to snap.
But the other man continued his taunting. "Or was it perhaps because she is a Kinomoto? It would only mean that a Kinomoto beat you to it?" Eriol remarked while rubbing his chin.
Syaoran gritted his teeth at the mention of the alleged name. He clutched the papers under his hand hard. "Damn. I wouldn't be in this kind of situation if you just arrived on time!"
The lawyer blinked. "It wasn't my fault that our only means of communication bailed out on us. If I was only in my own car, I would have been more equipped. Besides…I thought we had all things planned out? How should I know that you are going to change your mind the very last minute?" Then, he eyed the younger man more closely. "I wonder what kind of argument the two of you had to make such a brisk decision on your side. You seem so sure of yourself before we parted ways that day. Correct me if I am wrong, but you looked very happy that you are going to spend one whole day with her."
"Yes. You are wrong. I am not happy at all." Syaoran looked away. "Why should a Li be happy in spending time with a long-time family enemy like her-a Kinomoto?" His voice came out unexpectedly weak despite the promise of strong argument of his words.
"It didn't seem to bother you before." Eriol, once again, pointed out.
"How can you say that? Didn't the truth shock me before?" Syaoran replied.
"Indeed it shocked you, but you also recovered quite fast. It only took you a few hours that night in the launch to decide the next course of action. And may I remind you that you didn't mind at all…that you are dealing with a Kinomoto. All you were thinking of back then was that it is Agatha and Agatha only."
The younger man was silent for a moment. He seemed to be in deep thought. Memories of that day with Kinomoto Sakura flashed inside his mind from her words which stung him while in the car to the rebuttal she threw at him in Café Alberta.
"Is that what had been pissing you inside? You just say you weren't affected because you don't really want to accept the truth that your decisions were indeed influenced by a Kinomoto. Who are you trying to convince, Li? Me or yourself?"
Her voice echoed inside his head.
"I don't see any Kinomoto or Li inside the game."
Syaoran closed his eyes.
"InterVEST, as much as I hate to admit it, had been real for me."
It had been real for him, as well.
"I won't have you…" She said shakily. "…insult InterVEST that way!"
Had he not been angry with his sister when she called InterVEST, 'kid's stuff'?
"…call me Agatha if that suits you. I shall call you Damaski-is if you want me to. So you will be reminded that our families do not exist inside the game!
"They might have attended the launch but it was for formality and social sake only."
Society…can be unfair.
"So as far as I am concerned…there is no Kinomoto Sakura and Li Syaoran inside the game. There is only Agatha and Helroi Damaski-is."
If one threw other details away and focus only in what happened inside the game, it will make her point…right.
"You…you told me last night that whether you like it or not…I've become a part of your dreams."
Syaoran swallowed hard. He never really thought the impact of his own words before, but now that she mentioned it…
"I…I don't exactly know what that means, Li. To be a part of someone else's dream…but…I am certain about something…"
He felt something warm swimming inside him.
"…all this time that I've been involved with you…all this time…without even realizing it…your dreams… became my dreams as well."
He was so shocked with her statements that he couldn't utter a word during that time. What exactly should you say if someone told you that your dreams became their dreams as well?
Mixed emotions danced around his amber eyes. As much as he wanted to deny it, he was cursing his roots. Being a Li had often benefited him. It had given much privilege anywhere. But now, it had become the number one hindrance for him in doing what he truly wanted to accomplish. If there was a prescription on how to forget then he would gladly take it so he will forget that he was a Li and runaway with Agatha.
Runaway with Agatha? Egad! Agatha is a Kinomoto. Why would a Li runaway with a Kinomoto? Syaoran asked himself inwardly. He shouldn't be thinking like this. How can he harbor such thoughts?
Even so, he felt happy; confused but happy. A gentle smile crept on his lips.
"You seemed to have calmed down." Eriol's voice interrupted his thoughts.
Syaoran blinked. He almost forgot that he wasn't alone. He looked up and saw his friend studying him closely. Eriol's navy eyes were serious and intense. He had one hand propped up the resting arm of the chair as it supported the weight of his chin. Eriol looked dark and mysterious unlike his teasing and taunting demeanor earlier. This was the first time Syaoran saw him like this. Eriol's aura was completely different.
Syaoran narrowed his eyes. "Anything wrong?" He asked.
"Hmmm? What do you mean?" His friend replied.
"You are looking at me strangely." The younger man said in a flat tone.
Eriol broke his gaze, yet he gave a small smile. "I consider you as someone wiser beyond your years due to your abundant achievements, but there are moments wherein you look like a lost child."
Syaoran was lost for words. He was surprised to hear such a thing from Eriol. There and there, he realized that all these years that they had been together; he had often regarded the other man as an equal and of the same level of maturity. But now, with those words and manner of speaking…it reminded him of the fact that the lawyer was older than him; an age gap of seven years. By saying something like that to him, Eriol sounded like someone of higher stature. Syaoran felt like a child in front of a parent.
"A lost child?" He asked.
"Yes." The other man answered calmly.
"What a funny thing to say." Syaoran gave a small smirk.
"Is it?" Eriol leaned forward. "Tell me, Syaoran, when did you grow up?"
"When did you grow up?" Eriol repeated.
Uninvited memories flashed back inside Syaoran's mind. In an instant, he remembered the day he looked at his own reflection in that old mirror at his family's main house. It was that day wherein his younger self of ten received the heirloom passed down for generations. It was that day wherein his younger self ceased to play outside and was trained according to their tradition. It was that day wherein the image which always gazed back could only look at him with sad amber eyes.
Both men grew quiet for a moment; Syaoran left with his thoughts and heaven knew what the lawyer was thinking. But eventually, it was the older man who broke the silence.
"Well, then…" Eriol suddenly said in a rather cheerful and casual tone. The seriousness aura he had earlier seemed to have dissipated. "…whether who did that bold action in InterVEST doesn't matter." He stirred the conversation back to the original topic. "The fact remains that it gave SkyLark a boost...one huge boost and contributed in upholding your fearsome reputation. I don't see any losing end here. Everything is a win-win situation. I suggest that you grab this opportunity. Weren't you the one who wanted industry-wide monopoly? Such a thing might be difficult to attain in real life, but through this game, it would be very much within your reach. If you play your cards right, that is. And may I remind you that there are other players entering the new virtual city as we speak."
Syaoran was pulled back to the matter at hand. Whatever it was that surrounded them earlier, he was willing to make it slide. Things that happened in InterVEST were the important things right now.
The chestnut-haired man took a deep breath and slumped back on his seat. "I know about that." He said weakly.
"Then, what's the problem?"
"The problem is that I was about to break it with her! I was about to make our lives simple again…but…Nooooooooo…she has to do this." Syaoran gestured with his voice starting to rise again. "She made things complicated."
"Eh? May I remind you that you're the one who first made it complicated. You were the one who dragged her into this." Eriol pointed out. "I can't believe that the situation became reversed."
"Don't tell me that you are taking her side." Syaoran growled.
But the lawyer countered. "Don't tell me that you are going to abandon the player whom you respected the most, after she took yours."
Syaoran's mouth opened then closed. It was apparent that the other man's words sank into him.
She took my side…
He gazed at the computer on his right. He was still online in InterVEST while having this conversation with Eriol. The display on the screen was focused on SkyLark's status and value in the stock market. For the past couple of days each share only went one direction—up.
Maybe he really did act irrationally? He wasn't expecting for himself to get so hurt at something she said. Maybe he was hoping too much from her?
It wasn't because she is a Kinomoto… He pondered.
It was because she is Agatha.
It was Agatha…the very person he thought that will understand him and will support him. Yet that Agatha said something like that to him. He recalled that incident in the car which made him want to pull the plug for SkyLark.
Agatha was someone…
…I valued so much even though it was only a game.
Loosing her would take a huge chunk of the life he had grown accustomed with. That was it. That was the real reason. He was unprepared and acted drastically.
Like child who lost his candy.
Like a child…
Soon after, Syaoran started to chuckle then eventually laughed out loud. It startled the man in front of him.
"Eriol…" Syaoran began to say when his laughs modulated down.
"?" His friend looked at him strangely.
"You…are really good…really…really good." Excited amber eyes met confused navy ones. "I'm so glad that I have you. I am amazed at your power to pull sense back to me and even making me realize things that I wouldn't have found out on my own."
Eriol gave him a thoughtful gaze, and then eventually smiled. "That's why friends exist. They are the ones that describe the back which you cannot see."
Syaoran, once again, slumped back unto his seat. But this time, no sigh escaped his lips. Instead, he looked from the monitor to the scattered papers on his desk with a happy face. "Well, then…shall we go over these steps and legalities in which my beloved rival outdid herself?" He was obviously referring to the massive take-over done by Sakura.
"With pleasure." Eriol replied and laid more stack of printed out documents in front of Syaoran with a mysterious smile adorned on his fair face.
It was after lunch and people at the mall were starting to disperse. As the hustle and bustle died down, Yukito and Touya decided to stroll around for a while. The taller man suggested that it might be good to rest Yukito's nerves or whatever it was that had been bothering him lately. Touya excused himself to call someone, thus, the silver-haired man was left alone…
…left alone once more with his thoughts.
One might find it strange. Normally, he would be regarded as a gentle person; someone who wouldn't go aggressive about something. Then how come, despite this image of his, Grevor called hip up and made such an offer?
Because he has a different standing inside InterVEST. Probably the very same attitude which made Helroi Damaski-is notice him in the first place. His character, Tavenzouh, never smiled. He was serious and spoke only of great sense; cold in a way which fitted his abilities to conjure ice during in-game battle; cold and strict. It was lethal. He defeated many players with it which enabled him to earn gold and in time entered the exchange in InterVEST. Soon, he acquired a city for himself and was appointed a Viscount. Social structure inside this game was truly interesting. Come to think of it, it wasn't that surprising that the people behind InterVEST implemented a conjugal role-playing in the new patch. It would strengthen the existing society within the game.
Another sigh escaped Yukito's lips. No matter how he thought of these things, it was all in the past now. He should be thinking of the future and put InterVEST aside. A game was still just a game after all. Well, for him anyway, because there was no chance that his character would be crossing over to reality.
As he continued with his self-absorbed pace, the silver-haired man barely noticed the direction his feet had taken him. He found himself standing in front of a distinctive window display. His own reflection was forgotten as the stones within the glass sparkled like broken shards of light.
Yukito soon realized that he was in front of a jewelry store.
Impressive. He deduced to himself as his gaze roamed about the elegant display. Soon after, his eyes fell on a beautiful silver ring. Its center was given life by a single diamond adorned with what seemed like three petals of a flower. It was not too big nor too small; just the right size for a lady with slender fingers. He was quiet for a moment as he stared at the lovely thing.
"Hmmmm…? I see now." Someone spoke from behind.
"Touya!" Yukito exclaimed; startled and caught off-guard at the other man's sudden appearance. "How long have you been standing there? I didn't notice you." He eventually smiled and gave another one of his apologetic gestures.
But instead of answering, the dark-haired man just closed his eyes and folded his arms. A small 'knowing' smile was etched on his face. "Is this the reason why you've been loosing your concentration these past couple of days?" He remarked.
"A-re?" Yukito blinked.
Touya peered in one eye. "I think I understand now as to why you can't even tell me about it." Then, he tilted his head snottily. "I bet you are even scared with what my reaction will be."
But Yukito's confused expression never left his face.
"There is not need to deny it." Touya remarked as he gazed directly at the silver-haired man. When Yukito remained silent, Touya just gave a small laugh and diverted his gaze towards what the other man was looking at earlier…
…the petal-shaped diamond ring.
Yukito followed his best friend's gaze and finally realization dawned at him.
"Oh…" His voice almost came out as a whisper.
Touya looked back at him with an arched brow. Yukito blinked many times before speaking again. "It's…it's not…that…" He stammered, but Touya cut him off.
"Yukito," He stepped closer and placed a hand on the engineer's shoulder. "It's alright. Like what I said earlier…I understand."
"Eh?" The other man wasn't expecting such a gentle demeanor.
Touya smiled calmly. "I admit that it slightly bothered me before when I found out that you have secretly developed feelings for my baby sister. Yes, I still consider Sakura as my 'baby' sister, no matter how lady-like she is now. But, I've also known you for a very long time. If there is anyone I would trust my life with, then it would probably be you. So, I guess…if I can think of such a thing, then I can safely say that I can also trust you with my sister's life."
"Touya…" Yukito could only look up at his friend.
"That is why, it is alright. Go ahead. Don't let me hold you guys back. If you want to finally settle down with Sakura, then by all means, do."
Yukito stared; wide-eyed. Touya continued. "She is in the right age now, and you are not getting any younger. You are not exactly jobless either. You can give her the luxury she deserves. And on top of it all," He smiled sincerely. "I think you love her the most." (A/N: I would like to object to what he just said, but ei…that is from Touya's point of you. Let him think what he wants to. :p )
"Touya…" Yukito murmured once again.
The taller man lifted his hand and started walking away. As his back turned which hid his face, he raised an arm in polite gesture. "Just…take care of her and make her happy. You have my blessing." He grinned inwardly. "And don't worry about me. I'll find something else to fill that empty space in my heart." Then, he thoughtfully rubbed his chin. "Perhaps, a cute little chipmunk will do." And with that, he laughed and strode towards the parking lot. He didn't even give the other man a chance to reply to him.
As Yukito watched his friend's profile grew farther and farther away, the impact of his words hammered inside him.
"Sakura…" His eyes glistened. "Have I been forgetting about you lately?" Strong emotions filled his silver orbs. Stillness overcame him as his hair shadowed his face which made it unreadable. For a moment, he just stood there, drowned with his own thoughts as he kept glancing back at the elegant ring in display.
Finally, he smiled and stepped closer to the shop. He ran the tip of his fingers on the cold window which imprisoned the precious object, as if there was no glass between him and the ring.
"Who cares about Li Syaoran and InterVEST. There are more important things in life…in my life." He spoke with determination.
The most valuable thing for him now was to live for the future.
For their future…
…for Sakura and his future.
Simultaneous clicks of a mouse can be heard all throughout the spacious library of the Kinomoto mansion. The invigorating sound was followed by series of melodic hum from a lovely creature seated at the center with her legs tucked beneath her. It was a steady summer afternoon and the thick drapes were drawn to let in a hefty amount of sunshine inside the room. Tall shelves filled with different kinds of books rested silently against the walls. Cushioned seats and comfortable cream sofas adorned the vast light carpeted floor.
"Yah zeem very hapi." A ghoul-like voice sliced in the air.
The beautiful creature looked up and smiled. Her emerald eyes sparkled. "Hello, George." Sakura chirped.
The butler moved closer until he was behind his mistress. He leaned forward to see what the lady was doing.
"Yah still log-d in. Enzoyin' zeh new zity?"
"Hai!" Sakura answered cheerfully.
"Vut obviously avoiding zomeone." The older man pointed out.
The auburn-haired girl made a pouting face but eventually giggled. "Right again." She cooed sweetly.
"Mmmmm? Yah can vee evil zometimes."
Sakura giggled once more. "Well, serves him right. It's his little punishment."
"Zo…yah haven't spoken zoo him zince den?"
She shook her head. "But he did try contacting me."
"Online or on zee fone?" The butler inquired as he remained unmoving like a floating lifeless being.
"Both." Sakura focused her attention back to the 3D environment inside her laptop, but nevertheless, continued with her conversation with the loyal elderly. "That is why I've tossed my cellphone aside and told everyone that it is broken but in truth I just turned it off. And online…well…as you can see…" She pointed on her screen. "I am wearing my hooded cloak. It will hide my online status and shall remain invisible to everyone…even to him together with my inbox blocking any in-game messages."
"Oh yez, ovcourse. How can I vorget avout zat rare arzifact ov yourz? Vat given SkyLark'z statuz, ain't zit more reazonable zoo zalk to yer partner? Pluz, ain't zer a minimum time fer a couple zoo spend time zogether inside zeh game?"
Sakura looked thoughtful for a minute. "There is a minimum time…actually it's not the right term. It is more of a minimum requirement that the players must follow or else we get penalized." She placed her laptop on top of a side table nearby as she searched her mind for the exact details. "Every couple registered in Arakkis must login together at least once a week and role-play as the married players that they were supposed to be inside the game or else there would be a tax penalty. While the other rule is more of an individual rule which states that a player must also login within the span of twelve days or else his/her license as a registered InterVEST player as a whole shall be revoked and his/her assets automatically goes to the government."
"Zuch strict rulez. Izn't zee last wan too much?"
But the emerald-eyed girl just shook her head. "Ii-e. I think the first one is easy to be done. I mean, we just have to appear in public within the new city once a week. And if for some reason, both of us can't be together then we can still submit a notice beforehand, informing the admins as to why we won't be able to role-play, then we will be off the hook."
"Vat avout zee second wan?"
"George, I don't think I have to worry about the second one. Although, its penalty is the largest amongst all due to the fact that one can loose everything, it is very understandable why they have this kind of rule." Sakura started to explain. "The government made a bold move in accepting InterVEST proposal in linking together real life business with in-game assets. So, in this area, InterVEST is no longer just a game. It is a living. If you have these kinds of commitments, would you rather not oversee what is happening? A normal person shall go to work everyday. It is just the same in InterVEST. Actually, I think twelve days is quite a long time. I mean, not logging in for a day will greatly affect your business inside, much more something that will reach more than a week. Such a thing can be considered as 'Inactivity' and players like that are often booted out in a normal game, what's more in a thing like InterVEST? And besides, if for some reason you will absent for that long, the notice still exists. You can always fill that up and submit it like the one for the first rule. Do you get what I am saying, George?"
"Yez. Vut…" Her butler bent over slightly that she can almost hear his bones cracking. "…yah an' zeh mastre…haven't ap-pear'd az a couple yet inzide zee game. Won't yah get pena-liz'd?"
Sakura grinned. "I understand your point, but there is nothing to worry. It only had been a mere three days. We still have four more days to make such an appearance. I will contact him on the sixth day." She said with a touch of mischief in her voice. The butler could only sigh.
"Very vell, Mis." It seemed as if the elder man was about to leave the room when Sakura called out.
"George…" She stated to say.
"I am glad that everything went fine two days ago." Sakura remarked in recollection of the time she called him while Li Syaoran was sleeping. "I was not sure if my idea will work, but I'm glad it did."
"I vust admit. It vas kind ov…vold." George replied.
Sakura continued to giggle. She seemed to be doing this a lot for the past couple of days. "Well, it is his problem now. I'll leave the rest to him."
"Vat do yah mean?"
"I've done my part. It's up to him to continue it or not." The auburn-haired girl suddenly bent her head down. A sad expression replaced the cheerful one. "I've…" She started to say in a small voice. "…told him what I thought of our situation. I've given him my side. I was able to say such words to him out loud." She recalled the things she said to the man back in Alberta Café. "This time…it was me who stubbornly persisted. I've provided an opening for SkyLark to spread its wings further. If he is still the Damaski-is that I've grown to know in InterVEST, then he wouldn't miss the opening I've left for him. If not…if he is still down there then…" Sakura clutched her skirt. "…I would also pull the plug."
She shook her head. "George…you weren't there when he suddenly changed and broke apart from the image I had of this great player. So everything will depend on his actions for the next few days. If he grabs the opportunity then I shall personally contact him as soon as possible. But if not, then my conversation with him on the sixth day will be our last." Sakura leaned forward to reach for a folder tucked underneath the sofa and placed it on her lap.
"Oh…zat is…?" The butler remarked in recognition of the documents.
"These…" She touched the compiled papers. "…are print outs of all agreements both he and I should sign. The initial contract of the merge had already been dealt with. Now these things shall fortify everything and even contained the information on the steps I made during the massive take-over. George, you even took care of this personally, didn't you? You were the one who sought the right documents in InterVEST main legal council. Thank you for doing such a painstaking task." She smiled at the elderly.
"Zink nothing ov it." George nodded.
Sakura continued. "I've signed everything that is needed to be signed and sent Damaski-is his copy. All he needed to do now is to put his own signature on those documents then submit it InterVEST. It would be the last set of documents that shall finalize our partnership, plus the key for him to act on SkyLark's next steps with my permission." She inhaled and exhaled. "All of those I've signed are only for SkyLark's continued existence. I didn't sign anything that shall break it apart. But…like what I said earlier…if he still didn't catch the opportunity then I shall agree on whatever it was he was suggesting earlier in regards to putting an end to the merge." She bent her head. "…And…both of us shall go back to each of our lives and shall never speak of what happened…ever." Though, she still had no idea on how the other man was planning to end all of it.
"Yah…seemed…zad." The butler's observant eyes never left his young mistress.
"I am George…I am." She replied softly. "As much as I hate to admit it…I am going to be sad if my connection to that man ends." Her emerald-eyes glistened with unknown emotions. "He had grown deeply within me even though he is…" She stammered. "…even though, he is a Li." It came out in almost a whisper.
"Yah ar…willin' zoo forget avout zat zetail?" George asked. "He iz not an orzinary Li. He iz…Li Syaoran, suppozedly…an heir to zee Li legazy."
"I know." Was the only thing Sakura was able to say.
"Zen, I zhall no longer vring zat matter up zoo yah." The butler nodded.
The auburn-haired lady stood up and gave the zombie-like man a huge bear hug. This time, she looked up with a cheerful face. "Thank you, George. What will I do without you?"
"Yah wud zoo just fine, Mis." The elder man remarked.
A soft laugh escaped Sakura's lips. "I don't think so."
For the next set of minutes, silence overcame them once more.
"Wud yah pleaz let go ov meh now?" The butler's pale face was unreadable but it was obvious that he was uncomfortable in receiving such warm gestures.
"Hoe!" Sakura sweat-dropped. "Oh George…you are still not used to it even after all these years that you've been with us."
"I zon't zink I will ever vill." He shifted from one foot to another.
The emerald-eyed lady smiled lovingly. "You're so cute."
"Mis…I zink yah have a confused zee definition ov 'cute' vid zomethin' else."
But Sakura just giggled, then eventually let go of her beloved butler. "Whatever you say, George….whatever you say."
"I'll go get the plans in my study." Touya remarked. "But I think I still have to look for the supporting drawings. It had been really messy these days with all of father's new projects. So, it may take a while."
Both men just arrived at the Kinomoto mansion. Apparently, there was no talk regarding that 'matter' in the mall after their departure from the said place. It was back to work conversations for the two of them.
"It's okay. I think I'll just visit Sakura while you look for those plans. It has been a while since I've seen her." Yukito said with a smile.
Touya gave a side smirk. "Yes…you do that." After that, he disappeared towards the east wing of the vast house.
The silver-haired man looked up in time to see a maid pass by. The young girl bowed to him in greeting.
"Have you seen, Sakura?" He inquired.
"I'm not sure where she is currently, Sir." The maid bent her head apologetically. "It is hard to keep track of young Miss' whereabouts these days. Plus, this huge place doesn't help either. I think Mr. George will have more idea. He seemed to have a knack of raking the whole estate to find her."
Yukito chuckled. "That he does. I understand. I sometimes roamed for almost an hour before I find her."
The maid smiled. "But if it helps, Sir. I saw her in her room before lunch. Perhaps, she is still there."
Yukito nodded. "I will check her room first. Thank you very much."
The petite girl bowed once more and excused herself. As she walked away, Yukito started walking towards the flight of stairs. With fast easy steps, he reached the second floor and made his way towards Sakura's room. It didn't take for him to get a view of the familiar pink door. But before knocking, he reached inside his jacket only to retrieve a small blue velvet box. He flipped it open to reveal the elegant petal-shaped diamond ring inside. He smiled gently and gazed at it for a moment.
If opportunity strikes…I will ask her. He said to himself. Even as soon as today.
It was about time for him to bring their relationship a step forward. It was not good to get distracted any more. That conversation with Touya gave him a renewed strength and determination. It will ease his troubled self and focus on things which mattered. So with one deep breath, he knocked on her door.
--insert knocking sound here--
But there was no answer.
Is she taking an afternoon nap perhaps? He thought then decided to try the knob. It turned and the door opened with a light creak. He peered inside but there was no one there.
"Cherry blossom?" He called out to her as he walked inside the room. He strode towards the far end to see if she might, by any chance, had fallen asleep in the terrace, but there was no one there.
"She is not here." Yukito scratched his head. "It means I have to do a full search of the estate again." He chuckled and was about to leave the room when something caught his eye.
There was something resting inside the Sakura's printer's tray on top of her glass table. Her desk was clear. She might have taken her laptop with her. He was amazed on how 'techy' his cherry blossom had been. At least, in that area…he guessed, she wouldn't mind given his background in InterVEST. He knew that he shouldn't be meddling with her things but the familiarity of the paper at printer aroused his curiosity greatly.
He bent down and looked at the piece of document closely. His eyes grew wide at the sight of the words printed out on the paper.
"This is…" Yukito's hand began to shake.
In an instant, images of the documents sent to him by Grevor flashed before him…
…images of Section 41.
He clasped the piece of paper hard and stared at it. It was only one leaf of an entire package. It didn't even contain a whole page context. It looked like it was just a cover or an ending page…
…but he was sure of it.
The edge notes, header and footer were of the same format as that of the documents sent to him by the scheming man.
It was a piece of Section 41.
Yukito gasped. Why does Sakura have this?
Section 41 was strictly for veteran players. Even he was not informed about it if not for Grevor.
Did Grevor…somehow…got Sakura involved? He shook his head. No…how can he go so far?
Yukito's eyes started roaming around Sakura's desk. This wasn't an ordinary thing. Should I look further for more explanation? He would be invading his cherry blossom's privacy but the situation required for it. He glanced back at the opened door. The hallway seemed silent. It was evident that no one was there. He was tempted…very much tempted.
Without any second thought, Yukito's hand started exploring the glass desk. Everything seemed normal; the stack of blank papers and stationeries, expensive-looking pen, mirror, picture frames, and a few novels. Even her drawers only held cosmetic items.
He took a deep breath. This is insane. I shouldn't be doing this. But the Tavenzouh inside him was pounding hard against him that soon after his eyes landed on a small thing inside Sakura's open bag…
Yukito closed his eyes and debated himself. Should he or should he not? For two days now, Sakura claimed that her phone was broken and was lazy to go have it repaired. She said that she will eventually send it out.
It was also merely two days since Grevor contacted me. He reminded himself. If the older player tried getting Sakura involved then he might as well tried stalking her. It would be reasonable for her to get rid of her phone where he can contact her privately.
Yes, I must take a look. If Grevor is giving Sakura a hard time in my behalf then it is only right for me to protect her. She might be scared to tell me.
So without any more hesitation, Yukito grabbed Sakura's cell phone and turned the power on. It took a while for the small thing to find a signal but it did eventually. Yukito was about to check for call logs when messages came swarming in.
"What that…" He exclaimed.
The tiny cell phone kept beeping as it received queued messages one after another.
"I didn't know that she got these lots of friends." Yukito murmured. "She probably wasn't able to inform all of them about her broken phone."
Then, he realized something.
Broken…phone? Yukito glanced down at the small object. The gadget in his hands seemed fine and working. A frown began to burrow on his brows. So is she….really hiding from someone?
"Grevor…you better not be stalking Sakura." Anger was starting to rise within him. With no second sooner, he pressed the read button to reveal the messages received and their sender.
Yukito gasped and almost dropped the phone. What met his eyes was beyond anything he ever anticipated.
There was only one sole sender of all the text messages…and no…it was not Grevor.
The screen was filled by one single phrase listed over and over again.
'Message received from Damaski-is'
Yukito was dumbfounded. He suddenly felt weak on his knees that he found himself close to the floor as he stared at the display on Sakura's phone.
How? He started questioning himself. Why? What's going on?
He looked at the document which he returned to the printer's tray, then back to the phone on his hand. His mind started calculating things. Recollections of the launch started invading his thoughts. He could almost hear their conversation again.
Sakura's mouth dropped open. "You're playing InterVEST!"
Yukito cleared his throat. "Well, yeah...I didn't know it mattered to you that much."
…she was so surprised. He thought it may just very well be a normal reaction, but now that he recalled it…could there be something more from that reaction?
"Ne...Yukito-san..." Tomoyo suddenly interrupted. "Do you know someone by the name of 'Dama'...umm...'Damask-'...something?" she asked casually.
Even Tomoyo was…
Yukito frowned at Tomoyo's inquiry. "You mean, 'Damaski-is'? Helroi Damaski-is?"
"Yeah! That's right!" Tomoyo confirmed cheerfully. "I didn't quite catch his full name."
…asking about him. Sakura's bestfriend was asking about him. And he even…
"Cherry Blossom...you did mention that you play InterVEST every now and then. Any chance of letting me know your handle?"
"Hoe!" Sakura blinked. She was too deep in her thoughts that she fumbled for an answer. "The truth is..." She searched her mind. "...I forgot." She finally blurted out.
"You forgot?" Yukito looked confused.
"Umm, you see, Yukito...unlike you, I am only a rogue. And like what I said earlier... I only play whenever I feel like it. When I do play, I use different names that I loose track of them." Sakura said apologetically.
Sakura refused to give me her name in InterVEST. He recalled. And… A shocking possibility suddenly came across his mind.
"Umm, you see, Yukito...unlike you, I am only a rogue…
Yukito grasped the phone hard as his eyes tried absorbing the name 'Damaski-is' displayed on the screen once again with hope that he could have read wrong. But he was in vain. Instead…
Could it be?
Then, another scene flashed in his mind.
"What do you think you are doing with my sister!" Touya's voice boomed in the hallway.
It was the night of the launch before they all went to the welcome drinks area. They've found Sakura alone with Li Syaoran.
Li Syaoran said. "There are other things more important." He faced Yukito squarely; only inches away from the older man. "I can't believe you wouldn't fight me straight out. You needed to use her..."
A puzzled frown crept on Yukito's face. "Use her...?"
But then, Sakura stepped forward.
"Mr. Li...are you by any chance...drunk?" she asked him out of the blue.
The man blinked. "Drunk?"
"You see..." She cleared her throat. "...you are saying things we honestly don't know of. Yup..." Sakura made a nodding gesture. "No one knows about it."
No one…knows about it. Confusion filled Yukito's eyes. He found it odd back then and thought that something was amiss, but never really pondered it more.
Was this what she meant about that? It can't be. How can she…?
This time, images of news flash and report swam before him. All of them were about a certain rogue who had finally registered as a half-player. That very same rogue who agreed to merge her assets with Helroi Damaski-is.
That rogue…which married Li Syaoran inside InterVEST.
That particular rogue…
...can't possibly be…Sakura?
"This is a very risky thing to do." Eriol commented as he skimmed the documents sent by Kinomoto Sakura aka Agatha.
"Yeah…she is either incredibly brave or completely stupid for doing such a thing." Syaoran replied.
For the past hour, they had been studying what exactly the girl did in order to take over such number of companies in a short span of time. Apparently, it started out by just battle betting these companies about a rare asset that can benefit all. She actually betted her ruby mine during the game. Okay, correction…their ruby mine; SkyLark's rare asset. Being greedy, all stockholders of each company agreed to the betting game. She made it look like winning end for them, but in truth, it was just a mere distraction and they got easily lured into her trap. Behind the curtain, she was buying and selling stocks simultaneously and most of them were from these ten companies. In real life, it can be considered as money laundering, but since things were done within InterVEST, the act itself can be considered as a game strategy, hence, it was legal. She used her competitors' greed to turn against each other's throat that soon after all of them became weak and she exposed her cards. They were pushed down the stocks ladder that they had no choice but to completely sell their shares. And since, she already bought some behind their backs, SkyLark's percentage on the totality of the assets of these ten corporations became larger than the original owners, hence…
SkyLark acquired everything.
"If someone noticed what was going on behind their backs, she could have been in a very tight spot." The lawyer concluded.
"That's why she did it in an hour's time." Syaoran remarked. "That girl never ceases to amaze me."
"Hmmm?" Eriol shot him one of his famous teasing looks. "I'm so glad that you are back to normal."
"Oh really?" Syaoran said as he continued to skim on piece of paper from another while he drank from his coffee cup.
"Yes." His lawyer smiled. "I'm so glad you are back in loving your rogue."
The chestnut-haired man almost choked from the liquid he just sipped which made his friend laugh.
"Don't you dare start with me again, Eriol!" Syaoran shouted.
"Eh? You're no fun. But I have to admit, it is rare for you to blush."
"I am not blushing!" The other growled at him.
"Okay fine …fine…I don't want to go into that sort of argument with you again." Eriol brushed that whole thing off.
"Yes, don't." Syaoran said firmly. "Those things are for young people only."
"Oh but we are still young." The lawyer pointed out thoughtfully.
"I mean…younger." Amber eyes glared at the other which made the man raise his hands in defeat.
Contented that Eriol was not pursuing any more taunting ways, Syaoran focused his attention back to the documents. "She seemed to have polished it. All that is left to do was for me to counter sign these and it shall fortify our merge. Plus…" He pulled another type documents included in the folder. "…this suggests my next course of action."
"That's nice. She tried waking you up by doing such a phenomenal thing, yet even left more room for your own decisions. How diplomatic of her." The lawyer commented with an approving nod.
Syaoran smirked. "You are only saying that because you know she saved you that painstaking task of raking about InterVEST's legal council for all these documents."
"Haha…and that, too!"
The chestnut-haired man shook his head. "Well, then…it seems there is only one thing left for me to do." He reached for his pen and started signing each paper.
At the sight of this, the lawyer exhaled in relief. "Great. Because I'm tired of acting as your psychiatrist."
Syaoran didn't answer his friend this time. He just snorted and continued placing his signature in each document.
This is it. There is no turning back. He thought.
He was going about in a steady pace when he suddenly halted. The tip of his pen laid still in preparation of writing his signature, yet his hand stopped and stared wide-eyed at the current piece of paper in front of him.
"Eriol!" He gasped.
"Hmmm?" The lawyer peered at him lazily. "What?"
"This page…" Syaoran suddenly stood up and clasped the paper with such intensity that it startled the other man. Eriol looked at him questioningly.
"This page!" His voice started to rise. "This page isn't supposed to be here!"
"What?" The lawyer walked behind his desk and took the document from him. "Let me see that."
"It had the same format like our normal contracts but…look at this…" Syaoran pointed at the border. "…where have you seen that kind of printing?"
Eriol frowned and adjusted his glasses to study the piece of paper.
Syaoran continued. "It may look like the other documents but this kind of typesetting…"
Eriol cut him. "…it can't be."
"That's from Section 41!" Syaoran burst out loud.
"But how?" The lawyer frowned.
The amber-eyed businessman ran his finger into his chestnut hair. "I can't believe she already knows about Section 41. What did she do to have it in her possession?…how the hell…" But once, again the other man interrupted him.
"This isn't an ordinary page of Section 41!" Eriol exclaimed.
"Huh? What do you mean?"
The lawyer flashed the paper in front of Syaoran. "Come on, Syaoran. Think. Which particular part of Section 41 have you seen this?"
Syaoran frowned and examined the piece of paper once again. As he did so, Eriol continued pointing out some distinguishable markers. "This kind of small page header…" He pointed. "...this kind of font…this kind of words…"
Syaoran stared at the lawyer in disbelief.
"Well don't just stand there," Eriol barked. "Open your copy of Section 41!"
In an impulse, Syaoran went to his computer and loaded his soft copy of the said secret document of the Conjugal Code. He immediately scrolled towards the particular article in which he and Eriol seemed to be thinking.
Section 41's most controversial article flashed in the screen. Syaoran scrolled down to the last part of the particular article while Eriol placed the paper in question beside the LCD monitor.
"It can't be." Syaoran whispered.
"This…" Eriol referred to the paper he was holding. "…is that article's last page. It didn't contain any details about the article since it only held closing statements and signature area, but it is…no doubt about...the last page."
"And she signed it?" Syaoran asked in bewilderment. "Did she?" He stared at the hanging document.
Eriol nodded. "I'm afraid so. That's her signature down there."
Indeed, Agatha's signature was neatly written on top of Kinomoto Sakura's printed name. Syaoran's mouth dropped open.
"She…" He started to say. "…she just signed Section 41's main article."
"Article XI: The Crossing to Reality Legality Rule." Eriol stated with emphasis.
For a moment, both men stared at each other. Both were surprised and didn't expect for something like this to happen. Finally, it was Syaoran who broke the silence.
"WHAT WAS SHE THINKING!" He exclaimed in panic. "WHY WOULD SHE SIGN SUCH AN ARTICLE! IS THIS SOME KIND OF PAYBACK TO ME OR WHAT!"
"Oi…calm down." The lawyer motioned for the other man to lower his voice, but to no avail.
"CALM DOWN? CALM DOWN? "Syaoran grabbed the other man's shoulders and began shaking him. "You're the lawyer here! You of all people should know what that article of Section 41 was all about! THAT THING IS PROBABLY THE FATHER OF ALL LEGALITIES IN INTERVEST!"
"Article XI of Section 41 states that in the advent if both players decided that it was no longer just a game for them, they are allowed to take their conjugal unity in real life. In doing so, their assets will be more protected and their matrimony…real. All of these empowered by the judges of the supreme court given InterVEST's agreement with the government." Eriol stated casually. "It has a longer explanation but I think that summarizes the important parts.
"THAT THING WILL MAKE HER LEGALLY MARRIED TO ME IN REAL LIFE!" Syaoran exclaimed on top of his lungs. "AND SHE JUST SIGNED IT!"
"I understand your little predicament, but I would like to remind you that in order for this document to be plausible, your signature is needed as well." Eriol stressed and pointed to the blank space on top of Syaoran's printed name. "…and it needed to be submitted officially to InterVEST."
As the chestnut-haired man saw this, his panicky demeanor started to subside. "Yes…yes…my signature." He remarked and took the paper from Eriol. He slowly sat down on his seat. "My signature. Thank heavens I noticed the difference before I went on ahead in signing this paper."
"Right." Eriol nodded.
"And to think, I almost signed it." Syaoran brushed a hand on his face. Eriol smiled and nodded once more.
"But why…why did she do such a thing?" The confused Li wondered.
"Did you tell her about Section 41?" The lawyer asked.
Syaoran shook his head. "No. I didn't even mention the divorce article within it. I just said fragments on what may happen if we pull the plug…but I didn't specifically say how."
"Then, she might have learned it from someone else?"
"Still…" Syaoran frowned. "…what was she thinking? Does she seriously want to be married to me? Won't that make her…a Kinomoto…married to a Li."
"Li Sakura." Eriol rubbed his chin. "It has good ring to it." Then, he laughed. "Eh? She must have liked you more than you thought."
"That is not funny, Eriol!" Syaoran once again exclaimed.
"Oh look! Both of you will get 'L.S.' as initials!" His friend pointed out.
But the lawyer just continued laughing which led for a nerve to pop out of Syaoran's head. "This is not a laughing matter! Do you understand how grave this matter is? For her, to have such a document…for her to have knowledge to these things…what are her intentions? Just what it is was she planning to do?"
"Aren't you getting a bit paranoid about this?" Eriol asked with his laugh subsiding.
"Call it paranoia…but yes…maybe…" Syaoran sighed. "…I don't know."
"There is only one thing you can do. You can always ask her directly."
"I've been trying to reach her for the past couple of days." Syaoran gritted his teeth.
"Well, try it again."
The chestnut-haired man exhaled. "Right." He fetched his cell phone and did what Eriol just said.
He started calling her.
Yukito was still bent on the floor. Realization was still eating his consciousness that he couldn't move or utter a word. He can't even make himself push that 'read' button to read one text message to another. He closed his eyes as he tried to order his body to just do it.
Unfortunately, his body didn't obey. He covered his face with his hands and was about to be drawn to another hurtful thought when Sakura's phone started to ring.
The display read.
"Well?" Eriol curiously inquired.
"It's ringing." Syaoran replied.
"Ah see…Good thing you tried." The lawyer nodded. "Maybe she isn't angry with you any more."
"I'm supposed to be the one that should be angry with her!" Syaoran countered.
"Damn. She isn't answering." Syaoran impatiently tapped his foot.
Yukito just stared at the little thing as it lit up and indicated an incoming call.
Helroi Damaski-is…no…Li Syaoran…is personally…calling Sakura. His eyes were wide in shock.
The cellphone kept ringing. Its melodic tune played over and over again. Yukito's silver eyes were unreadable. The shock he felt a while was staring to dissipate. It was slowly getting replaced with another strong feeling.
"Still no answer?" Eriol asked again.
Syaoran shook his head. "I'm going to try again. This is something that the two of us should discuss as soon as possible."
He pushed the redial button on his phone.
Just as Yukito thought, Li Syaoran had given up, Sakura's phone started to ring again. The display informed him that the same person was calling. He took a deep breath.
Shall he answer it? But what should he say?
Everything was swimming inside his mind that he doesn't think he can confront anyone right now. The impact of these newly found information was too massive for him to handle.
But the caller was persistent as the ring drilled against his ears.
I can't handle this at the moment. He thought. So without any further due, he picked up Sakura's phone, rejected the call and turned the power off with his fingers tightly clasped hard around it.
"She rejected it!" Syaoran cursed in irritation as his ear met the hanged-up tone.
"Hmmmm…that's bad." Eriol casually said.
"What game does she think she was pulling with me?" The younger man gritted his teeth.
"A game called InterVEST." The lawyer answered with a grin, but he only received another glare from the other man.
Syaoran redialed once again. A familiar recorded tone answered instead.
'The subscriber cannot be reached. Please try again later.' It said.
"Damn!" And he threw his cellphone on the table.
"Well…you can always contact her in another way." Eriol remarked thoughtfully.
"You can try calling her in her landline." The other man suggested with a grin.
"Landline? You mean call her in the Kinomoto mansion?" Syaoran's face cannot be painted.
The lawyer nodded.
"What! Are you crazy? I can't call her there! Are you forgetting who I am!"
"Then are you willing to wait until she contacts you?"
"No, I can't wait." Syaoran stressed.
"I rest my case." Eriol turned the executive phone towards the businessman. "I'm sure their number can be found in the yellow pages."
Syaoran's mouth was set in a grim line but he eventually obliged.
Moments later, he was speaking to a female voice in the other line. He assumed that she must have been a maid.
"Kinomoto's Residence. Good afternoon, how may I help you?" The girl on the other end said.
Syaoran cleared his throat. "Ah…yes…may I speak to Kinomoto Sakura, please."
"Who's on the line, Sir?"
"I am a…" Syaoran searched his thoughts. He can't tell who he really was. Then, he remembered Sakura's excuse before when he called her for the first time. "…I am someone from the phone company. This is in regards to our services for her phone plan. We seemed to be a having a difficulty reaching her via her cellphone, we figured there must have been something wrong with the line. I would like to inquire to her as part of our maintenance services."
Eriol gave him a thumbs-up sign.
"I understand, Sir. Please hold for a while."
Syaoran waited patiently even though it seemed that it was indeed taking a while.
"Hello?" Finally, a familiar cherry voice filled his ears.
"You! How could you avoid reject my calls!" Syaoran growled.
"Hoe!" There was a static in the other end. She must have almost dropped the phone. "Li?" She whispered.
"Who else!" He roared.
There was a sharp intake of breath from her end. "Are you insane?" She whispered sharply. "How can you call me here? In this phone?"
"Well, you didn't give me any options! I did try calling you just now in your cellphone, but you rejected it many times before finally turning it off."
"Hoe? But I left my cellphone in my room upstairs. I'm here in the library. As far as I recall, it had been turned off for the past couple of days. I haven't even touched it for quite some time now." She explained. "Are you sure that you were calling the right person?"
"Of course, I am! Your number is in my speed dial list!" He blurted out.
"Really?" She asked in soft tone.
"Err…yeah…it is…well anyway, it is not my main purpose of calling you."
"If it's about what happened two days ago, then I already sent you the documents, didn't I?"
"Yes, you did. And that is precisely what I want to discuss with you." Syaoran said with growing exhilaration in his voice.
"Aren't those papers as clear as crystal? Don't tell me that you had gone dull as well."
This time, Syaoran let her taunting remarks slide and went straight to the point. "Where did you get Section 41?" He asked with much intense.
"Section 41?" Sakura's voice was full of questions as well.
"Yes, Section 41. I can't believe you are cunning enough to actually have a means to get a copy." Syaoran accused.
"Huh? But, I don't know what you are talking about." Her voice was sincerely filled with innocence and bewilderment. "What is this Section 41?"
Fujitaka eased his body as he swung his golf club in one graceful motion. It was a nice summer afternoon and he was enjoying the outdoors in a private driving range at the far side of his estate. From where he stood, the mansion looked like something out of a crystal ornament. He inhaled deeply in content.
"Zat waz a nice shot." A familiar accent filled his ears in indication that he was no longer alone.
Fujitaka smiled gently. "Oh hello, George. It has been a while since I've talked to you."
"Yez…it haz." The butler remarked.
"Hmmm?" Fujitaka noticed something different about the old man. "Is anything wrong?"
"I am zorry." The butler replied and bowed low. "I wud lyk zoo apologiz."
Fujitaka blinked. "Apologize about what?"
"I…" George's lifeless eyes looked directly at Fujitaka's. "…I…zid zomethin' vad 'nd imper-tinent."
A sudden gust of wind rustled the branches of the trees nearby. The sun was starting to walk towards the west as hours of that afternoon went pass by. The old butler's words were drowned from a far and can only be heard by the man near him. As he spoke the explanation of his apology, Fujitaka's mouth dropped open. Mixed emotions danced inside his fatherly eyes. No sooner that later, the older man finished his statements and bent his head once more.
"You didn't…" Fujitaka's voice almost came out as a whisper. "…God please…tell me you didn't."
"Why?...why did you do that?" Fujitaka's asked in a wavering tone. "How can you do that to my daughter…"
(Up NEXT Chapter Twenty-Three: "A Bind for Real")
Go George! Lolz.
I feel bad once again that I haven't updated this fic. I was supposed to upload 3 updates last week but I ended up having a marathon in watching a Korean drama series that my updates went down the drain. Anyway, why 3 updates? First was chapter 22 of 'inc'. Second will be an edited version of the 'inc's prologue and lastly the first chapter of a new fic of mine. Not CCS. It is a Bleach fiction, something that swarmed inside my head when I was in the hospital a month ago. I've taken green aura's advice and actually wrote down the story using the conventional pen and paper. I found it effective. I even wrote half of 'inc's update during that time.
As for the edited version of the prologue, you guys might be wondering why I am doing so. It is because I tried reading 'inc' from the start a few weeks ago and I was mortified and greatly bothered on how my grammar sounded back then if I am to compare it with this fic's later chapters. Hence, I decided that every time I upload an update, I shall also include an edited/proofread replacement of the early chapters. I'm not going to do everything all at once. I'm going to do it one at a time until I would be able to catch up with my current manner of writing. So, yeah, for now, I've edited the prologue and chapter one. A new look would also be evident. You can all check it out. It would be much better this way especially now that I realized that this fic is growing popular. I kept receiving reviews even though it's been a while since the last chapter was up. Thank you very much to all of you for being there for more than a year now. (I just hope that it won't take me 2 years to finish this fic. I doubt it would take that long since I've started unleashing the second climax in this chapter. FYI…do you guys remember the excerpts before? They would be included in the next chapter. Hehehe)
I am very happy. I pray that none of you will change.
BTW, a reviewer gave me a long review and relayed some points in regards to 'inc's business concept compared to reality. I completely understand what you are saying that if Sakura took over ten companies, then it would be possible for others to do the same. Yes, this is correct and was mentioned that it can happen but for it to be done just like that is virtually unreal. But I would like to stress out that the point of the scene was that Sakura isn't your average player. It would be something normal for Li to do coz that is his reputation. By making such a scene possible, I would just like to emphasize her power as well, which made her different from the usual players. Another point will be about a CEO owning many businesses, yes, I am aware that this can happen in real life but the thing is, in this story…Li declines to take over the family business because he wanted to prove something to himself and not because he will be too busy or can't handle both InterVEST business and family business. He wanted to start something on his own and not something handed down to him. I thought I stressed this many times already in their conversations and inner thoughts. Hmmm…it seems that I've lacked still?
To be honest, there are many business rules in real life that I've violated in this fic. I did this because well…this is only a fanfiction after all. If I am writing a real novel, I would have probably wrote down the process of the stock exchange itself and that Li and Sakura aren't the only two owners of SkyLark since it is a corporation, there should have been other shares. Plus, monopoly is against the law. Lolz. As you can see, I just made this as it is to make things simple and easier to comprehend. If I use to actual terms in real life, then I should have written a real novel. (This is why this story is set not in Tokyo but another world) Actually, I also received a review asking if I can tone down a little with all those business stuffs coz it's hard to understand. So, here I am torn…whether to make it more realistic or to decrease the usage of the terms for those that had difficulty understanding it. This is one of the cross roads I've found myself facing.
But in the end, I've made up my mind. I would just continue as it is. If I lessen things anymore then this fic will lose its edge. Also, it would destroy the flow if I suddenly become technical with real life business rules. So, as it is…it would be as it is. I hope you all understand. Plus, give me a break. This is my very first fic! Lolz
Sorry for the long Author's note. I feel like I should at least explain it.