Brief summery: When Fujitaka gets a new job, the Kinomoto family must move from the hustle-bustle of Tokyo to the small, quiet town of Tomoeda. Little do they know that old house they move into already has an occupant: the ghost of a young boy named Syaoran. When he finds out that Sakura is fated to die sooner than she should, he agrees to sacrifice himself for the chance to save her. But what kind of sacrifice is involved when someone has nothing but his own being to give up in exchange? What are the limits of the human condition? And what, exactly, does it mean to be alive?
Disclaimer: All characters and locations of the CardCaptor Sakura series are property of CLAMP and related companies.
Syaoran glared at the people who were invading his home. The workers were noisy and obnoxious as they scuffled around the house kicking up the decades worth of dust that coated the hardwood floors. Syaoran had no idea what they were doing exactly, but they were being extremely rude while doing it.
Syaoran had inhabited the same house for as long as he could remember, and assumed it was where he had died. The house gave him a sense of comfort and familiarity, which was why he never wandered very far from the area. Sometimes he wondered if he was bound to the house in the way a fish was bound to water.
So naturally, he felt extremely offended and irritated when he suddenly found his home swarming with nearly two dozen mortals.
"What are all these Living doing here?" Syaoran asked no one in particular.
"They're called 'movers' Syaoran," a solemn male voice sounded beside the boy. Syaoran casually turned his head to look at the new arrival, but he didn't know why he bothered. There was only one person in the entire world who even knew that he existed.
Syaoran looked up to see a handsome young man dressed in white, flowing robes standing over him. His long white hair flowed down his back and blended in with his robes. He had piercing sky-blue eyes and large white wings that flared protectively over Syaoran, as if to shield him from the noise. In fact, the young man's appearance did seem to make the noise a bit more tolerable.
Along with Syaoran's memories of his home, Yue had also always been around. Syaoran found that whenever he needed him (whether it was a conscious or unconscious thought,) Yue appeared, always with an appropriate response. Syaoran had never questioned Yue's presence, since without him Syaoran would be doomed to wander his silent, lonely home without a soul to call company.
"Movers?" Syaoran asked, following a particularly fat one as he fiddled with the pipes in the kitchen sick. "What are they doing?"
"Making the house livable for mortal people," Yue said following closely behind Syaoran as the ghost wandered through the house. Syaoran stopped in every room to glare at the people working inside. "It seems that this house is up for sale."
Syaoran stopped moving and didn't even seem to notice when a group of workers passed right through him. He whirled around, looking as angry and threatening as a ghost possibly could.
"Someone is selling MY house!" Syaoran yelled, his aura flaring. "Who would dare!"
Yue had never seen Syaoran so angry, but couldn't say it was unjustified. Most ghosts resisted change; especially sudden, abrupt change. It seemed Syaoran was no different.
"This house belongs to the Living, Syaoran," Yue explained calmly, deftly sidestepping out of the path of a worker. "They don't recognize your presence, so it's no use getting angry and shouting at those who won't hear your voice. It's best to save your energy."
Syaoran nodded, although his aura was still blazing dangerously. He watched intently as a worker got on a ladder and began clearing the cobwebs that hung gracefully from the ceiling. Syaoran crossed his arms tightly over his chest as if to keep them from doing something he'd regret.
"I don't know how much longer I can take this," Syaoran said, his voice stained as if talking through gritted teeth. His ghostly hair was standing on end like an angry cat's. He glided over to where a man was cleaning the dust off the windowsills. "Look at what they're doing! I like that there!"
"Get used to it," Yue said in an offhand way. "There are many more changes where that came from."
Time passed (Syaoran had no idea how much time, since he never bothered to keep track,) and the Living continued to shatter his quiet existence by parading nosily around his home. Besides the workers, potential buyers would often take a tour of Syaoran's house. The ghost would follow them closely, as if he could somehow stop any potential sale with his presence alone.
Every time it was the same routine: an older man carrying a clipboard would lead one or two other people through each room, all the while giving them the identical speech.
"As you can see, the home comes unfurnished and is a bit of a fixer-upper, but even with the minimal repairs that have to be made after the crew is done here, it's a great bargain. The property totals 8,000 square feet with three baths, five bedrooms including the master, and a huge living area and kitchen. The neighborhood has a low crime rate and one of the best elementary schools in the county is located four blocks down the road."
"And how long did you say this place has been abandoned?" the other man would usually ask, eyeing the cobwebs on the ceiling.
"Well, the home has never actually been abandoned," the salesman would say defensively. "The city has kept up with the lawn and the exterior of the home to keep it up to code. Although the home's been vacant for a little over fifty years, it doesn't show as much wear as it should, due to the constant upkeep on the exterior."
The couple would then ask for a moment alone and they would spend a considerable amount of time murmuring to themselves. Eventually one of them would say something like, "Are there any other homes in the area that we could take a look at?" and the salesman would lead the people out of the house while muttering about how he would "never sell a piece of junk like this place."
This, of course, was perfectly fine with Syaoran. The last thing he wanted were noisy, disruptive mortals to go traipsing through his house at every moment of every day. He would be perfectly happy if all he had to put up with were these periodic interruptions.
"It's only a matter of time before the house is sold Syaoran," Yue said warningly, only to disappear as quickly as he had arrived.
To Syaoran's utter relief, one day all the people simply stopped coming. For some length of time, Syaoran was alone and content in his silent house, although he could sense that this was only the calm before the storm.
The workers had totally renovated the house, much to Syaoran's horror. The holes in the ceiling were gone, as were all the cobwebs that once hung gracefully in the corners. Most of the dust remained, although the careless construction workers had kicked up the flawless layers and spread them unevenly throughout the rooms. Several new lighting fixtures had been adhered to the walls in strategic locations, all with new bulbs in their sockets.
Syaoran was certain that, with enough time, he could adjust to the situation. He could only hope that no one bought the house for at least a few more years.
All too quickly, however, the "for sale" sign disappeared from the lawn. Syaoran wasn't stupid; he knew that it meant the house had been sold. His heart sank. How long would it be before some noisy, messy Living took up residency in his house 24-7?
His question was answered when a car suddenly ("suddenly" to Syaoran means "a few days later") pulled into the driveway and three Living climbed out. Syaoran couldn't see them too well in the overwhelming afternoon sunlight, but he could tell that there was one middle-aged man, a boy in his late teens, and girl who looked about fifteen. After a few minutes, a huge moving truck pulled into the driveway behind them and the movers began to unload pieces of furniture onto the lawn.
"Great…" Syaoran said, glaring menacingly at the new arrivals. He savored his last few moments alone before the family unlocked the door to his home and let themselves inside.
"Wow!" a cheerful, girlish voice exclaimed. Unlike Syaoran and Yue's voices, hers echoed off the bare walls. It was strange to hear a voice that was so energetic. "It's so big!"
Syaoran continued to glower as he caught sight of his tormentors for the first time. The first one he noticed was the girl who seemed to be about the same age Syaoran's ghostly body was locked into. She had short, stylish auburn hair and bright emerald eyes that were currently dashing around the house, taking in every square inch.
"Yeah…" said the teenager. He seemed on the verge of turning 20, but not quite. He had very dark brown hair, so dark that was almost black, serious eyes, and an extremely pointed face. "It's still really dusty in here though."
"Yes, well, the workers only renovated the house," the older man said – obviously the father. "It's our job to clean it."
"Then we should start cleaning up, right?" the girl said. She had somehow already obtained a rag and cleaning solution.
The father smiled softly and put a hand on her daughter's shoulder. "I don't know about you Sakura, but I'm hungry. We should get some lunch first."
"Yeah, calm down kaijuu," the teenager said playfully. "We just waked in the door."
"Don't call me kaijuu!" Sakura yelled, stamping her foot down hard on her brother's.
Syaoran rolled his eyes and sighed heavily as he watched Sakura and the teenager chase each other around the house. Syaoran had been hoping for some Living who were a little more quiet.
"This is going to take some getting used to," Syaoran mumbled sulkily to himself.
The family ordered out, ate quickly, and then set to work cleaning the house from top to bottom. Syaoran groaned frustratingly as the dust was slowly cleared away, revealing the hardwood underneath. After they were done sweeping, they mopped the floor until it shined.
Syaoran was impressed with how diligently the family worked, even though he was extremely unhappy with the end result. In little less than an hour, the room had been transformed from a dreary, barren cave into a bright, comfortable living space. The movers had set up the couch, coffee table, and television set in a suitable arrangement.
By nighttime, the entire house had been cleaned and the rooms were full of furniture. Even though he could simply walk right through the furniture, Syaoran still found them to be annoying obstructions. He wasn't used to having objects in his path all the time.
Syaoran was even more irritated when the girl chose his favorite room in the house as her bedroom. There was a small balcony outside and a wonderful view of the quiet neighborhood below. Syaoran had enjoyed watching the townspeople go about their business from the window, but now that a Living had taken up residency in the room, he figured those days were mostly over.
"This is the most horrible thing that's ever happened," Syaoran said as he watched Sakura unpack all her little girlish trinkets from the boxes that littered the floor.
"You'll get used to it," Yue said, placing a comforting hand on Syaoran's shoulder. He disappeared quickly again, knowing that Syaoran would rather not have too much company at the moment.
The teenager suddenly poked his head into the room, a suspicious expression on his face.
"Were you talking to someone?" he asked, his eyes darting around the room. "I heard voices."
Sakura looked at him quizzically. "Who would I talk to? There's no one here but me."
For a moment, Touya's eyes seemed to linger around the location where Syaoran was present. Then he shrugged and left the room.
"Someday I'll crush him under my foot!" Sakura whispered passionately as she continued to deface Syaoran's property with a set of bright pink curtains and a pastel bedspread.
Syaoran was hoping for some peace and quiet once the family fell asleep, but found Living to be noisy even while they slept. The teenager snored like a foghorn and the girl tended to mumble in her sleep as if she were having bad dreams. Syaoran found both to be horribly distracting and eventually made his way onto the roof to escape the racket.
The full moon hung low in the sky, bathing the sleeping town in a blue-white haze. The moonlight seemed to fill Syaoran's being and renew his energy. He hypothesized that, as a Living's body was sustained on vitamins and minerals, his "body" needed moonlight to function. This hypothesis was further validated by the fact that he always felt weak and sluggish on the days when a new moon was approaching.
Syaoran sighed heavily, which didn't involve breathing because he wasn't able to breathe. For a ghost, sighing was a release of pent-up energy rather than a release of air.
"I hate them," Syaoran said quietly, glaring at his memories of the day.
"You hardly know them," Yue said rationally, appearing on the roof as if he'd always been there. "Give yourself some time to adjust."
"It's unfair that I'm the one who has to adjust to them," Syaoran said, getting up and pacing around the roof restlessly. "I was here first."
"They seem like nice enough people," Yue said, draping an arm casually over his knee. "It could be worse."
"It couldn't get much better, though," Syaoran said bitterly.
"Who knows," Yue said, a strange tone in his voice. "Maybe you could even grow to enjoy their presence."
For the first time since they had known each other, Syaoran turned his potent glare on Yue.