The insane musings of the authoress: I really, really hate you people. No, really. Really really really really really really (okay, I think you get the idea).
When I said give me titles, I didn't say give me titles so good that I was going to end up agonising over which one to choose!
God, I should have known this was going to be a bad idea! I really couldn't decide what to go for. Absolutely none of the titles were bad, so I couldn't immediately rule out any of them. (Which was just great /sarcasm )
But then I narrowed it down to these:
Yuri Sawamura's suggestion - Butterflies: Learning To Fly
Abombidal Boo's suggestion – Butterflies: Falling
LynnMinmay's suggestion – Butterflies: Sojourn
And Ciuline Ihmenjo's suggestion – Butterflies In Spring
(Although, a special mention has to go to T's suggestion – 'Butterflies: And Now For The Angsty, Sad Part' which made me laugh so hard. You have no idea how hard I had to resist using it! And I couldn't really use it because although it was extremely funny (in my opinion) it wouldn't really have fit. Sadly.)
So I looked over the four main contenders and thought and thought, then called Lily over to see them, and she thought and thought, and we both thought and thought, and then there were two:
Butterflies In Spring
And then we got stuck. The reason I'm so iffy is because I want 'Butterflies: Sojourn' because I like the word and it's a very creative title, but I also want 'Butterflies In Spring' because it's pretty and actually will tie in with the last chapter.
Then I considered a meld of the two, but I couldn't make it work. For example, the best I could do was – 'Butterflies: Sojourn In Spring', which meant we completely lost the meaning of both titles. Other possibilities, such as 'Butterflies: Spring Sojourn' don't really work either.
So I agonised and I agonised… Then I chickened out and decided to put up the first part of the second arc with a temporary title so I could have some more thinking time. (Cue me laughing sheepishly and nervously).
Another thing I could do would be to put something about a 'sojourn' in the summary and use the 'In Spring' title, but I really don't know… (sigh)
For now, just let me work with the temporary title.
Butterflies: The Temporarily Untitled Second Arc
Even after a week, living in the new house still felt very like living in a hotel to Sakura. She and Syaoran may have been living out of cardboard boxes as opposed to suitcases, but it was all much the same - the feeling that the space in which you slept was not your own and things like that.
Although, unlike when she was in a hotel, Sakura did not have the comfort of being able to think to herself 'it's only temporary, I'll be back in my own, old, familiar bed soon. I'll be back home soon.'
Because now, this was home, and the thought was vaguely unsettling. She missed stupid things – running around the house with Tomoyo in a panic in the mornings if they were running late, laughing over having to eat wholly unsuitable breakfasts because they had forgotten to do the shopping that week, borrowing pairs of tights and discussing E.R. over popcorn in their pajamas at night – things like that.
The sort of things that she would never have thought she'd miss – the everyday, mundane things.
Although, she had to admit that those sorts of things were slowly being replaced by other, definitely nice things – she missed going down to breakfast in the morning and seeing Tomoyo at the table, but she instead now got to see a rumpled, flushed and sleepy-looking Syaoran who always smiled at her over his cup of black coffee (the spit-it-out disgusting flavour of which he claimed startled him into waking up).
She had traded the many thoughtful little things that Tomoyo liked to do for a shy offering to cook dinner from Syaoran (which was very welcome in a week where Sakura had either joined Syaoran in some takeout, picked something up on her way home from work or eaten comfort food like ridiculous amounts of chocolate for dinner).
And she'd swapped nights watching E.R. in pajamas for an evening of helping Syaoran to prepare said dinner, then eating it off their laps and watching a movie in their sparsely-furnished living room.
So it wasn't that the changes were particularly awful, Sakura supposed that the changeover was just difficult.
That first week passed in a blur of trying to settle into a new way of life – Sakura and Syaoran looked at endless samples of carpet, colors of paint, couches and various other new things that they had to get for their home.
Also, the day came when they had to return to work after a very, very long absence…
"Yes, yes, Yuri-san, is that you?" Ueda massaged his forehead as he spoke down the phone to his secretary. His desk was filled with reports, but he couldn't concentrate for worrying.
"Yes, boss! What can I do for you?" she responded cheerily.
"K-kinomoto-san and Li-san," he said hesitantly. "Have you heard any –"
"Not since the last time you checked," Yuri interrupted in a voice soft and gentle with concern. Ueda sighed.
"Very well then, Yuri-san," Ueda said, and made to say a hurried 'goodbye' and put down the phone, when he heard a panicked, insistent "wait!" from the other end.
"Yes?" he asked calmly. There was a hesitation from the secretary.
"Ueda-san, I know it's not my place to say such things, but I really would like to tell you to try to not think about Kinomoto-san and Li-san's disappearance," she began, twisting the phone cord through her fingers as she spoke.
"I can't help it, Yuri-san," Ueda said instantly, a little defensively, "I mean, nobody knows what happened and where they are. They could be missing, for all we know – I haven't seen them since they left for their convention."
"Boss, did you ever consider that everything might be fine?" Yuri asked, voice still soft. She paused, then suggested in a voice so timid that it almost wasn't there at all, "did you consider the possibility that they may have eloped? I mean, they shouldn't have done it on company time, but I think it would be rather romantic…"
"Actually, I thought the same thing myself," he admitted as he ran a hand through his blond hair.
"Well, Ueda-san," she finished, voice still oh-so-soft, "do… Do try not to run yourself down by worrying, okay? I-"
She was immensely glad that she wasn't face to face with her boss, for her cheeks were flaming red as she said the next part, "I'm worried about you."
The words were practically a whisper, gone almost as suddenly as they had appeared, and immediately Yuri cursed her stupidity. Panicking, she put the phone down and prayed that her boss hadn't heard.
And he couldn't describe the warm feeling spreading through his chest at the words.
(A.N. This is terribly bad fic writing, but did I ever say that Ueda was married? I have a horrible feeling I did at one point, and if I did, he's not anymore. (sweatdrop) I hate having to do something like this, but, in my defense, 'Butterflies' is well over novel-length now and if this was a real novel then I would have been able to go back and edit that in the end, but since this isn't a novel, I can't and you'll just have to bear with me (smile))
"I am so nervous about this," Sakura admitted as she sat with Syaoran in the cark park outside the company building.
"And I know it's stupid to worry, because it's only Ueda-san, but I can't help it!" she continued, smiling sheepishly and wringing her hands.
"We probably have good reason to worry," Syaoran admitted, "we just stopped coming to work for… What was it? Something like three weeks? Longer? Ueda-san'll probably fire us!"
"Well," Sakura said, bravely unbuckling her seatbelt as she spoke, "there's only one way to find out what fate has in store for us."
"Yuri-san," Ueda said experimentally as he knocked the door to his secretary's office. Yuri panicked and stayed silent, hoping that she could sneak off into a toilet or something. Because, oh God, what if he knew, what if that small slip-up on her part had ruined everything?
However, Ueda was not dismayed by the lack of answer and, after knocking and calling her name a second time, came right in.
"Ah, Yuri-san," he said, brightening immediately when he saw that she was actually there. Fortunately for Yuri, he did not appear to notice that she was sitting very stiffly in her seat, like she was close to bolting or had been caught red-handed, and that her smile was decidedly terrified.
"I just came to say thank you," he continued, and he walked ever-closer to Yuri's desk. He was a mite perplexed when she shifted almost imperceptibly away from him, but he ploughed gamely on.
"Thanks for telling me not to worry," he clarified, "because I was stupid to get so wound up."
He paused, and he and Yuri looked at each other.
Ueda cleared his throat.
"They came back," he said, "came into my office thirty minutes ago."
At that, Yuri forgot her stiffness and leaned forward, suddenly animated.
"Really? They did? Oh, Boss, that's great! Why were they away so long?" she paused to smile knowingly. "They eloped, didn't they? Ah, how romantic!"
Ueda chuckled softly.
"Really, Yuri-san, I think you're getting a little carried away. Although," he admitted, "the elopement theory was pretty close. They actually got married, but it was a big, planned ceremony. Then they moved house, and…"
"Let's just say that they were busy for those weeks they were away."
Yuri leaned back in her seat, satisfied that there was at least some sort of wedding, even if it wasn't of the wildly romantic elopement sort.
"I must say, I thought they were…" Ueda began, then trailed off, unsure of how to finish.
"Destined for each other?" Yuri suggested dramatically, clasping her hands under her chin and sighing dreamily.
Again, Ueda was forced to chuckle.
"Something like that," he nodded, smiling. "Though, I'm not certain I would have been so dramatic about it."
Yuri rolled her eyes good-naturedly and shook her head teasingly.
"Typical man," she teased, grinning.
Ueda readily returned her grin.
"No, I think you just read too many romance novels, Yuri-san," he said, blue eyes twinkling.
"I think you're right," she said softly, and as she looked at him, the look on her face was achingly sad.
"We are," Sakura said cheerfully as she sat down at her desk and zoomed up and down in her adjustable chair, "the luckiest people in the history of this company."
"Absolutely," Syaoran agreed, equally as chipper. "We were really lucky not to have got fired – they should really have fired us."
Then Sakura caught sight of what was on Syaoran's screen and she gave him a look.
"So don't you owe it to them to be doing something more productive than solitaire!"
Email from headseamstress(at)daidoujidesigns(dot)com (Sorry the address is all garbled – it's just that F F . N e t strips anything that looks like a link – hope everyone can read it!)
I was thinking that maybe we should go over to dinner at Sakura and Syaoran's – I figured we could bring some of the lasagne I spent hours making last night (from what Sakura has said, they are in desperate need of some good meals – they've only eaten proper food once this week).
Plus I figured we could be referees in the whole fight over décor.
"I can't believe I've actually missed this place!" Sakura exclaimed as she stood up in the middle of the office, flung out her arms and took a deep breath.
Syaoran watched her, smiling.
"You really do look very comical," he said, smiling. She turned to him and pouted.
"Thanks, Syaoran," she said sarcastically as she flopped back down into her seat.
"Anytime," he grinned.
Email from: himitsudesu(at)hotmail(dot)com
I have a couple of disagreements with your email. Firstly, I'm not sure I'd call that lasagne good food (of course, I'm only judging it by the large clouds of black smoke you managed to create while cooking it). Secondly, if Sakura-san and Syaoran-san didn't invite us over for dinner, then it would be very rude of us to just barge in (whether we come bearing (questionable) gifts or not.)
And thirdly, I love you, but I am not willing to referee a fight between those two about anything.
"And home again," Sakura sighed as she unwound her scarf from her neck. Syaoran gently closed the front door of their home behind him, and the noise echoed in the hall, which still had several boxes on the floor – needless to say, Sakura had been avoiding fully unpacking like the plague.
"It's cold out there, isn't it?" Syaoran asked her brightly as he took her coat for her. Sakura giggled.
"What?" he asked, smiling already.
"You're all flushed with the cold," she said fondly, clasping her hands to his freezing cheeks.
"God, your hands are lovely and warm," he murmured and closed his eyes.
"Your face is shockingly cold! Is it numb?" Sakura demanded, rubbing his face in an effort to try to generate some heat.
"It was, but it's getting better," he answered honestly.
Suddenly Sakura whipped her hands from his face, and Syaoran, startled, felt his eyes fly open.
"I'm going to do turn the heating on," she said decisively, nodding. "That's the best course of action."
And with that, she raced down the hall.
Syaoran watched her go.
"Actually," he murmured, "I think the former course of action was working just fine."
Sakura and Syaoran were sprawled on the sofa an hour later, revelling in their home's efficient heating system, when they heard a knock at the door.
Sakura checked her watch, ready to say something about 'callers at an ungodly hour', when she realised that it was only seven P.M. Damn it, she was pretty tired – in fact, she was so tired she had assumed it had to be about eleven.
The knocking occurred again, and she and Syaoran looked at each other, playing a game of 'you get it' 'no, you get it!' without words. Eventually, the knocking happened again and Sakura decided that if the caller was so insistent about getting in, it had to be important.
So she glared at Syaoran for being able to ignore the knocking and heaved herself off the couch. Syaoran grinned innocently at her in return.
She opened the door, fully prepared to yell at whoever had dared get her out of her seat, when she saw that it was Tomoyo and Eriol standing on the doorstep.
Tomoyo was grinning and holding a couple of plastic, Chinese takeaway-style containers. Eriol gave her an apologetic look over his containers, and he looked distinctly as though he had been dragged there.
"Tomoyo-chan! Eriol-san!" she exclaimed, her temporary and probably irrational anger instantly abating. "Hello!"
"Hi!" Tomoyo replied brightly as she walked straight into the house. She stepped into the hall and removed her coat, scarf, hat and gloves (Tomoyo always had been the sort to feel the cold), then paused and looked worried.
"You took a long time to answer the door, Sakura-chan," she said, and although she tried to maintain a strictly apologetic expression, the corners of her mouth were twitching in another grin, "I do hope we didn't interrupt anything."
There used to be a time when Sakura would have blushed to the extreme at a comment like that, but she had learned to simply roll her eyes.
"I'm sorry for the intrusion, but we do come bearing gifts," Eriol said, holding up his containers of lasagne.
Sakura waved a hand and smiled.
"Don't talk nonsense! Of course I'm delighted to have you here!" she assured him. Then she heard a 'hello' from behind her, and she turned to see Syaoran in the doorway.
"Hello, Syaoran-san!" Tomoyo greeted happily. "We brought dinner!"
Syaoran smiled and moved slowly from the doorway towards Tomoyo.
"Well now," he said, smiling, "wasn't that considerate of you? What is it?"
"Lasagne," Tomoyo informed him. "I made it myself," she concluded proudly. Syaoran made a face.
"You know, I've suddenly lost my appetite," he joked, and Sakura punched him playfully in mock-punishment, after which he pouted and let out a little 'ow!'
Sakura smiled as she looked around at her friends. This was exactly what she wanted – all of them together.
"No, seriously, thanks very much for bringing dinner along," Syaoran said sincerely to Tomoyo.
"My pleasure," she said.
"Now," she grinned, "what's all this I've been hearing about couches and paint colors?"
Sakura and Syaoran groaned.
"See, now I really think that this shade of lemon would be lovely for the living room."
Sakura, Syaoran, Eriol and Tomoyo were eating their lasagne off their laps on the floor of the living room, and Sakura was pointing out to Tomoyo a color sample in a paint brochure.
"Yuck," Syaoran said succinctly.
"I actually quite like the lemon –" Tomoyo began, and Syaoran pulled a revolted face, so she hastily added – "but I know that Syaoran-san doesn't, so I'm sure we can reach some sort of compromise to suit everyone."
"Thanks again for dinner," Syaoran said to Tomoyo and Eriol as he and Sakura saw them off at the door a few hours later.
"No problem," Tomoyo said breezily.
"Glad we could help," Eriol said with a shrug.
"And thanks for helping decide our décor," he thanked Tomoyo. Again, she grinned, and replied that it was no problem.
"I'm not sure you're going to have the most color-coordinated house ever, but at least we managed to satisfy both of you in some way," she continued.
"And we'll be more than happy to assist with the painting," Eriol promised.
"Thanks. You two are turning out to be real lifesavers!" Sakura exclaimed.
And they said goodbye, and were gone.
And Sakura was okay with watching them leave.
Sakura and Syaoran slept in separate rooms. Each was a fair size, containing a single bed. They were actually guest bedrooms, but the master bedroom, with its huge bed, was unoccupied.
Sakura and Syaoran's plan was, if anyone came to visit who didn't know about the short-term nature of Sakura and Syaoran's marriage then the two of them would just move into the master bedroom. Simple.
Sakura climbed into bed that night feeling exhausted and yet, strangely buoyant.
She really felt like her life was getting back to normal – she was back at work, and still seeing Tomoyo and Eriol every day. All the madness of the past few weeks, with business trips, drunken marriage, planning and executing a massive church wedding and now, moving in with Syaoran, seemed to truly be past her.
All she had to do now was make it through the next six months without incident, and things could back to the way they were. Everything would be fine, the way it was before.
So why, when she heard Syaoran call "good night!" in to her, did she feel like her life had changed, and would never be the same?
And all because of him.
A.N. This is quite a busy chapter, with me trying to communicate an awful lot of information, still keep the fic moving along, and introduce a new romantic subplot in the form of Ueda/Yuri! (Yes, you will be seeing more of them!)
Of course, I have to pile extra work on myself just because I couldn't resist not pairing Ueda (who I have grown strangely attached to) with somebody -)
Oh well, it's worth it!
Anyway, I'll see you all next chapter, by which time I hopefully will have decided on a title.
Shattered Midnight Dreams…zzz…
Because life's like that sometimes…