When they were little, on the very first day of every April, Sakura would take Syaoran to the top of the palace towers where the doves flew out every morning in a flurry of white feathers. Sakura would always stand and laugh and hold out her hands as if she expected the flying birds to carry her away with them.

She always was reckless. If Sakura could have flown, she would never have given a second thought to how far away the ground was, or that the fall could kill her.

Syaoran knew, intellectually, that there was no way to say how much time had passed back in Clow, but they had been in this world (a rather technological one, with 'cars' and 'planes' and buildings over one hundred stories tall - an architectural feat Syaoran yearned to understand) for three weeks now and their 'April 1st' was tomorrow.

He fingered the little box in his pocket as he came home ('home' being a small apartment owned by a generous man named Seiichirou) and hoped Sakura would like her birthday present. He wished he could give Sakura a better present - like a feather - but that would have to wait until it turned up in this world. For the meantime, he hoped this would do.

"I'm home," he called as he opened the door, and instantly he had a face-full of Mokona. "Wah!"

"Syaoran is home!" Mokona cheered, and the little creature migrated from Syaoran's face to the top of his head. "We can have dinner now!"

Syaoran blinked owlishly at the apartment - humbly furnished, but it was lucky it was furnished at all. Seiichirou-san was very generous indeed. Fye emerged from the kitchen with a ladle in one hand. "The breadwinner is home! Where's Kuroppi?" he glowed.

"Uh, he was checking the construction site again," Syaoran explained earnestly, shedding his jacket and hanging it in the closet. "My break was over so I had to go back to work." 'Work' being a coffee shop next to the construction site that Mokona was sensing power from. While the clothes they had brought from the last country had fetched a pretty price, they needed money to buy new clothes and food. And presents. "I want to go back after dinner, so-"

"Syaoran-kun!" Sakura poked her head out of the kitchen with a bright smile. "Welcome home! Fye-san and I are making pancakes!"

"With chocolate chips!" Mokona added from atop Syaoran's head.

Syaoran smiled - Sakura cooked quite well, actually, and together with Fye they could have - in fact, already had - run a popular bakery. And chocolate … it was another weak spot for Syaoran. In Clow chocolate had been a rare treat, but in some of the worlds they had traveled to it was a regular commodity. If Syaoran tended towards chocolate sweets when he went grocery shopping, no one was complaining. "I can't wait to try them," he said, fingers finding the little package in his pocket again. He felt his cheeks warm up. "Ah, Princess, can I …?" He started forward, pulling out the box. "It's your birthday today. I don't know if you remember that yet, but I wanted to er, here." He took her hand gently and pressed the box into her palm.

Sakura didn't look away from him for a long moment, then dropped her eyes to the box in her hands. "Thank you," she said softly, and opened it. "Ah … barrettes!"

Even if Syaoran had been attempting secrecy it wouldn't have lasted long, but as it was Fye hung over her shoulder eagerly as Sakura took the two hair clips out of the box. "Hyuu! They're lovely! How come you didn't tell us it was Sakura-chan's birthday, Syaoran-kun?" Fye accused.

"I didn't-" Syaoran began, unsure of what to say. It hadn't really crossed his mind to really celebrate everything since they were so busy; he just wanted to give her something nice …

"Here, let me put them in your hair for you," Fye offered, and with that he knelt in front of Sakura and clipped the barrettes to her bangs, while Mokona hopped from Syaoran's head to Fye's shoulder.

"Pretty, pretty!" Mokona announced - and Syaoran smiled to see that Mokona was right. The barrettes were decorated with pink flowers, and they suited her as well as he'd hoped.

Sakura was smiling too, a little shyly; her eyes were on Syaoran, and Syaoran blushed yet again. "They're lovely. Thank you, Syaoran-kun."

"You're welcome, Princess," Syaoran started, but then the door banged back open to admit one slightly damp Kurogane. "Argh, it started to rain and I had to come home. What's burning?" he demanded.

"The pancakes!" Sakura gasped, and she rushed back into the kitchen. "Ah, there's smoke!"

Kurogane watched with raised eyebrows as Fye followed her at a somewhat more sedate pace. "We can always make more!" he sing-songed.

"… Pancakes?" Kurogane asked Syaoran.

"Dinner," Syaoran explained distractedly, his hair sticking out in odd directions.

&&

The pancakes were just as delicious as Syaoran had suspected they would be. Mokona and Kurogane fought over Kurogane's share of the pancakes; Fye laughed at everything, and Sakura beamed at everyone.

"I didn't remember which day was my birthday, but I knew it was in spring," Sakura told Syaoran as they gathered the plates afterwards to clean them. "How did you know?"

They were treading dangerous ground with this line of questioning. Syaoran bit his lip. "Er … I … " he struggled for a safe answer. It was hard to determine what would trigger the Time-Space Witch's conditions.

Sakura looked down. "It's okay if you can't tell me," she said slowly, placing her share of the dishes in the sink. "I know you can't tell me everything, even though I don't know why."

"… Princess …"

But before Syaoran could find a suitable reply, she smiled again, looking up at him. "So when is Syaoran-kun's birthday?" she asked.

Syaoran smiled at her, and promised himself he wouldn't be upset because she didn't remember taking his hand and offering to share her birthday with him. Kurogane was right; he didn't have time to look down. "It's April first, just like yours," he said.

"What a coincidence!" Sakura laughed. "Happy birthday, Syaoran-kun!"

"Thank you," Syaoran said warmly, and he turned on the water. "I'll clean the plates if you'll dry them, Princess."

She agreed, and it was all right.

&&

He hadn't counted on waking up the next morning to so much poking and prodding. "So you and Sakura-chan share a birthday?"

"… Fye-san …?" Syaoran blinked blearily at the smiling face over his head.

Poke. "How old are you? Is Sakura-chan the same age?" Poke.

"I-I'm not really sure … Princess Sakura would be sixteen now, though. Why?" Syaoran sat up in his bed, supporting his weight on his elbow as he rubbed his eyes with a fist.

"Because we want to celebrate it, of course! Don't we, Kuro-tan?" Fye looked up at the ninja, who was raising his eyebrows at the magician.

"Of course!" Kurogane replied brightly.

"WHO'S KUROTAN?" Kurogane demanded as he found Mokona hiding in his shirt.

"Er …" said Syaoran uncertainly.

"Get up, get up!" Mokona chanted from where he hung from Kurogane's fist. "Don't forget work!"

Syaoran glanced at the clock. "I'm late!" He scrambled out from under the covers.

"Don't worry, everything will be ready when you get home!" Fye called after Syaoran as he raced to the shower.

&&

Fye wasn't kidding. When Syaoran opened the door that evening, he found that the ceiling of the entire sitting room was covered with balloons, and a multicolored banner that said "Happy Birthday Syaoran and Sakura!" hung across the far wall.

The cake was gigantic, and no matter how good at cooking Fye and Sakura were, they could not possibly have made it. Syaoran wondered just how much it had cost.

"I'm home?" he said hesitantly.

"Syaoran-kun!" Fye popped out from behind the couch and Sakura crawled out from under the coffee table. "Happy birthday!" Mokona bounced up and down on Fye's shoulder, and was it holding a balloon string?

"Er, thank you," Syaoran said, blinking and smiling embarrassedly. "Happy Birthday to you too, Princess."

"Thank you," Sakura answered. She turned to the cake. "Do you like it? It's chocolate since that's your favorite."

"I-It's nice," Syaoran stammered. They'd picked out chocolate for him? And just how much had that thing cost? "It seems kind of-"

"Hey, hey," Kurogane interrupted. Syaoran startled and turned to his right to see the taller man holding a cake knife in a rather threatening fashion, and he stepped back a little. He was getting better at sensing things on his blind side, but Kurogane was more silent than a desert snake. "Just take a piece and enjoy it already." He began to slice into the top layer of the cake, drawing a cheer from Fye and Mokona.

"Okay," Syaoran agreed.

"And guess what else I bought for this very special occasion," Fye crowed.

Syaoran paled slightly. "Alcohol?" he guessed.

"Yes!"

"Good guess!" Mokona added.

Oh boy, thought Syaoran.

It was an entertaining night, and all in all, Syaoran supposed, it wasn't a bad birthday at all.

fin