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Syaoran frowned miserably as he tucked the new keys in his pocket. He had given a satisfying hollering at the school secretary in the office downstairs. What kind of dimwits ran this place anyways? Couldn't even keep track of returning student genders.
"Oh hello Mr. Li…didn't know I'd be seeing you in the office so soon?"
He mocked inside his head…sometimes he wished he could be home schooled by his clan teachers…they were ten times more brilliant than these brainless chickens.
He walked in to the elevator stormily for the second time and slammed his palm flat across the button to shut the doors just as a voice rang out.
"Wait Li! Wait!"
Syaoran had the mind to ignore him and continue up but then he'd be venting his anger on somebody else, so he reluctantly held the door open for the heavily breathing man that entered.
"Li! How you been! 'Been looking all over for you – just came back from the garage," The man said breathlessly as the doors slid shut obediently behind him. Syaoran leaned back against the wall and folded his arms across his chest.
"What do you want?" He interrupted, fixing his cold gaze to the shifting numbers.
The boy looked up and his eyes were nearly closed as he smiled, "Glad to see you again too – its not like you to be late – we were expecting you to be the earliest here in the morning – what kept you?"
"Traffic," Syaoran replied irritably. No hesitation, no pause, so what if he was lying through his teeth?
The man gestured with his hand, "What are you doing with a purse?"
Syaoran wished the wall pressed against his back would suddenly disappear so he could fall far far away.
"It's Meiling's," Syaoran self consciously moved it to his side and the boy's eyebrows arched in response.
"Come to think of it – where is Meiling? Isn't she always with you?" The boy glanced between the four walls and looked puzzled.
"She'll be late."
"Eh? Why? I thought you two drove here together."
Syaoran let out an annoyed breath and was relieved when the doors slid open. Syaoran swept out so quickly that the boy was sent scrambling after him.
"Eriol's on this level – did you know? I'm just five doors down – I think the rest is crammed with freshman." The boy said as he tried to keep up with Syaoran's long strides.
He was ignored, "Which room is it this time?"
Syaoran clenched his jaw and swerved the corner, the boy followed restlessly, "Eriol and I were planning on having dinner tonight – care to join us?"
"Yeah – sure," Syaoran scowled, anything to get rid of him. He screeched to a halt in front of a door and fumbled for his keys that rested at the bottom of his pocket.
The boy spoke again, "Man you're lucky – that's Hiiragizawa's room."
Syaoran jerked his head up, "What?"
And as if answering the question for him the door was pulled open and there under the frame hovered a very familiar dark haired man pulling on a jacket. He glanced up at the two startled looks and his eyes immediately lit up, "Syaoran! You're finally here! What's going on?"
He clapped a hand on Syaoran's shoulder who winced at the contact, "Hiiragizawa – this your room?"
"Um yeah – it is," Eriol replied, looking past Syaoran's shoulder to see another boy there, "Hey Takashi…"
Syaoran cut him off with a deep loud breath and shut his eyes, "Well I guess we're going to be seeing a lot of each other Hiiragizawa," He gritted.
Eriol dropped his arm and looked Syaoran up and down, his face cracked an infamous grin, "We're roommates aren't we? That's great! What are you still doing outside – I was just about to leave but I guess I could stay a while and get you comfortable "
"No that's fine" He said a bit too brutally, "You can go – I can take care of it."
Eriol looked slightly disappointed but shrugged and slid his left arm inside a flailing sleeve, "Alright – if you say so – I won't be back for a while so you might want to eat lunch without me – if you need anything just ask Tomoyo – she's right across from us."
Takashi swerved away as Eriol moved past Syaoran's shoulder and in to the hallway, "Well – we're leaving to town – and oh yeah," Eriol turned back towards the frowning man, "It's nice to see you again – really." After that strange remark Eriol started walking.
Fuming, Syaoran stormed in to the room and slammed the door behind him.
Sakura was startled before the telephone even rang. Sweeping away her anxiety, she picked it off its receiver and answered hastily, "Hello?"
"We have a call for your room from out of town – name's Yue and he's requested for Sakura Kinomoto – would you like for us to pull him through?"
A warm relief washed over her, "Yes thank you."
The phone went silent for a minute and it crackled to life once more, "Mistress Sakura?" came a smooth voice, flawless of any emotion.
Sakura recognized it all too well, "Yes! This is Sakura – how did it go? Where is it?"
"Your car's been repaired and moved to your requested garage – without informing any of your family members of course."
Sakura breathed once more and relaxed her grip on the phone.
"Oh Thank you so much Yue! You don't know how grateful I am for all you've done," Sakura said, she felt as if an entire weight had been lifted right off her shoulders. If it weren't for gravity, she might as well be lifted straight off the floor.
"It is my duty to do so – you don't need to thank me,"
"But I want to, I will pay for the expenses as soon as I can." Sakura argued as she stood up from the bed and started around the room, Tomoyo had left to get some lunch so Sakura was alone in the empty dorm.
The man sighed loudly, "How many times do I have to tell you Mistress, it is my duty and the fortune belongs to you not me."
"But I'm going to pay you back," Sakura said stubbornly, whipping around so she faced the window and whispered, "How is father and brother doing? If you know…"
"I haven't heard from them in a while but I do have an imposing question for you Mistress."
Sakura turned on her toes, "Anything Yue…you know how much I owe you."
"I would like to know how you got to Tomoeda without your car."
Sakura tripped over a nonexistent bulge in the carpeted floor and grabbed the windowsill before she could hit her head.
The voice rang dully in to the cold plastic covering her ear, "Mistress."
"I'm fine – it's okay I just tripped." Sakura said nervously as she soothed the burning sore in her ankle. What am I supposed to say? I can't tell him I've been traveling around with a stranger! No! What if he tells father? Or worse? Brother?
The man on the line coughed, voicing his mild amusement that such an idea of his Mistress tripping was absurd.
"Sakura-chan!" A voice ringed out down the corridor, "Sakura-chan! I got pizza!"
"Oh I'm sorry Yue – apparently my roommate is back now – I'll talk to you later okay?" Sakura said in a rush and hung up before the man could protest. Flushed and nervous she swiveled to see Tomoyo taking off her shoes, a box balanced in one hand.
"Who was that?" Tomoyo said as her shoes went flying off in to a corner and she hopped over to the desk.
"Um – my dad – wanted to see how I was doing." Sakura lied, her palms slick with sweat as they rested against the table.
"Oh! Well, it's not exactly healthy but it's the closest thing there is to lunch around here – I hope you like vegetarian." Tomoyo dropped the box on to the flat counter and opened the lid as if she did this daily.
Sakura could complain less, she was hungry and pizza was fine.
"I'm going to see if Eriol wants some – I'll be right back!" Tomoyo hollered as her voice disappeared behind the door. Sakura bit in to the warm cheese and tomato and sighed with content. I'll call Yue later and explain it to him – he deserves to know.
Outside in the hallway, Tomoyo rapped her knuckles on the door impatiently. Surely Eriol wouldn't have gone out on such short notice.
Behind the door she could hear rustling and grumbling. Than it flew straight off its hinges with an incredible crash.
"What do you want?" Came a cold voice that didn't belong to Eriol. Tomoyo took a surprised step back.
She blinked, "Um – is Eriol there?"
The boy relaxed considerably when he caught site of who it was, "No – he just left."
She blinked again as realization dawned across her features, "Syaoran!" She squealed, clapping her hands, "You're here!"
Syaoran nervously backed up, one hand still resting on the door.
"How are you? I wanted to come by to see if Eriol wanted some lunch – but since he's not – why don't you have pizza with us?"
"I don't think that's a great – "
"Oh don't act all tough – you had such a long trip – I'm sure you're too tired to make your own lunch and I just went down to buy pizza so its hot and fresh – you can tell me all about you're adventures and what happened with – " Tomoyo paused, "That's right – I haven't seen Meiling – isn't she with you?"
Syaoran bristled at the name and snapped, "She's going to be late. Why does everyone expect me to know?"
"Well – you are engaged,"
"That's changed!" Syaoran said furiously then almost slapped himself for yelling. It never felt too good to be screaming at someone he'd known for half his life. Tomoyo had been an old friend; he took a deep breath, "How's the baby?"
Tomoyo looked taken back at the sudden change of conversation and hesitated to answer.
"Well…I just got a check up last Saturday – the doctor says its doing fine so far – says I'm eating all the right stuff," Tomoyo flushed, "Well – the pizza's only once in a while thing – "
"That's good to hear," Syaoran interrupted, looking down the hallway to see if anyone was hovering at their doors, "Look I'm sorry for yelling but something…something happened between Meiling – "
"What happened?" Tomoyo's eyes lowered in concern.
"Never mind – just…never mind…" Syaoran twisted his face in to a nasty scowl, "– Hiiragizawa hasn't been a bastard has he?"
"No, of course not! How can you say that about – "
"Forget it…" Syaoran interupted, his hard gaze refusing to meet Tomoyo's no matter how much she glared at him.
Tomoyo sighed. Eriol and Li weren't what you would call best friends. Grown up together, they were rather close, but Syaoran had always held a mysterious grudge once they hit that certain point in life.
Tomoyo waved her hands irritably, "Oh - just look at me – hovering over your door – the pizza's probably already cold and my roommate's waiting for me inside – "
"Then I'm not keeping you – I'll figure out something for lunch - I'll see you on Monday," And without another word Syaoran shut the door just as Tomoyo was collecting herself.
"Hmph – still as stubborn as always," Tomoyo said, her lips curled in to an amused smirk.
It was dark when Syaoran opened his eyes. Which was strange. Unless his internal clock had been completely scrambled, it wasn't possible that he would wake up so early in the morning. He groaned and lifted his hands to clear his thoughts. Must've fallen asleep…Syaoran scanned the dimly lit room and his eyes fell upon the back of his roommate, suddenly he wished he was still asleep.
Eriol stirred at the sound and looked over his shoulder, his face breaking in to a small grin, "Morning sunshine."
Syaoran darted his eyes in his direction for a fleeting second, "What time is it?" He said angrily and got slowly to his feet. He cringed when his warm toes brushed against the freezing texture of the carpet that sprawled across the floor.
"Time for dinner – we're eating downtown at Ryui's," Eriol finished putting his wallet away and made over to Syaoran, "Since you're awake now – care to join?"
Syaoran thought for a moment. He hadn't had any lunch, thanks to his brilliant decision to refuse Tomoyo's offer, there didn't seem to be any other better choice, "Alright – I'll go."
"Great! Tomoyo and her roommate's over at Chiharu's having a girls' night get together so its just us guys I'm sure you're fine with that," Eriol laughed and started for the door.
Without anything else to retort or ask about, Syaoran begrudgingly dragged himself out of bed.
"So…has Tomoyo made you try on anything yet?" A girl asked curiously, her lips lifting in to a mischievous grin as she spoke, "Anything from her new designs? The ones that get men to crawl on their hands and knees – "
"Chiharu!" Tomoyo cut in as she placed a bowl of salsa on to the small table, "That's not true." But there was an unmistakable smile playing at the corner of her lips.
Sakura shook her head, "Nope – not yet." She laughed.
Chiharu picked up a chip and eyed it, "Trust me – Tomoyo's never let any of her roommates get away without being her doll – not that it's a bad thing – I would know – I was her roomie in freshman year." She popped the tortilla chip in to her mouth and chewed, "Guys thought I was a junior – I had seniors crawling after me like I was some kind of goddess."
Tomoyo collapsed on to the sofa besides Sakura and rolled her eyes, "Oh stop it – you always looked older than the rest of us anyways."
Chiharu reached for the plate again just as another girl emerged through the door, "Hi guys! I brought cookies."
"Hey!" Tomoyo called as the girl joined them at the table, "When did you get here?"
"This morning – but I stayed at the apartment for the afternoon – got bored so I baked these." She lifted the tray in her hands and set it down on the table. She gathered herself and cocked her head at Sakura, "Whose this?"
Tomoyo slung an arm affectionately over Sakura's shoulder and smiled, "Her name's Sakura Kinomoto – she's my roommate – cute isn't she?" Tomoyo made to pinch her cheeks but Sakura pulled away, laughing.
"You can call me Rika – I bet Tomoyo's been – "
"Already told her about Tomoyo's fashion obsession," Chiharu cut in, chewing on a mouthful of chips and dodged a pillow thrown in her direction.
"Pleased to meet you," Sakura replied cheerfully and asked Chiharu, "Um – can you tell me where the restroom is?"
Chiharu pointed around the corner, "Take that hallway and it's the first door to the right – don't' mind the mess – I think I left some lingerie in there." Chiharu giggled just as Sakura mumbled a small "thanks" and left the sofa.
Rika sat to the side besides Chiharu and leaned forward to look carefully over at Tomoyo.
"So…how's the little one?"
Tomoyo dropped her arm and placed it over her stomach, "Healthy – I couldn't be happier."
Rika smiled, "That's great – Eriol should be pretty relieved – haven't seen him at all during the summer – how is he?"
Tomoyo looked up at the ceiling and settled for an annoyed look, "The same as ever – just not chasing after other women."
"Hey! Speaking of which – I heard Li got here this morning too!" Chiharu yelped, pulling the entire bowl on to her lap, "God – I haven't seen him since forever!"
"He's engaged – geez woman – lay off." Rika said scornfully.
Tomoyo looked up at the table distantly and said, "He didn't come by this morning with Meiling though – didn't tell me what happened."
The two girls gasped. Chiharu stopped eating, "Why! What happened?"
Tomoyo looked over at them, "I just told you – I don't know what happened," Than when the two didn't shut their gaping mouths she groaned and swiveled her body around to face them, "Look you two – don't go about and ask him about it okay? I think he's already been through too much of that."
Chiharu and Rika nodded enthusiastically, dropping the topic like a boulder, "So – Chiharu – how was your trip here?"
Chiharu leaned comfortably back in to the sofa and sighed, "I missed the train that was supposed to leave on Wednesday morning – so I ended up getting here late Wednesday night – on top of that – the man sitting next to me couldn't stop snoring – I slept all Thursday to make up for that."
Rika laughed warmly and picked up one of her own cookies.
Tomoyo followed suit and said, "Well Rika – we don't have those kind of problems."
"Yeah – we live here." Rika grinned and took a careful bite out of the cookie, "Though I understand that Tomoyo would still want to room just to be with Eriol."
Chiharu rolled her eyes at them both and immediately brightened when Sakura came towards them, "I bet Sakura will have a more exciting adventure than your boring lives – so Sakura – how was your trip here?"
Sakura gave them all a quizzical look before settling besides Tomoyo, "My car broke down in the middle of the road – so I wouldn't call it very exciting."
"No! Did you take the Two Ninety? How did you get your car towed – that country phone line's been dead for years." Rika exclaimed.
Sakura smiled, "Well – this guy did stop and offer me a spare tire – but he was some kind of drunk thief and tried to rob me."
The three girls all shared identical looks of horror. Sakura jumped back in alarm, "Oh no! He didn't do anything – I know how to defend myself."
Tomoyo let out a relieved sigh, "So? Than what happened? How did you get here?"
"Well…this other guy stopped and offered me a ride."
"A stranger? And you let him?" Chiharu said, frowning, "That's very brave."
Sakura sighed, "I know – but I didn't have much of a choice did I?"
"Was he hot?" Rika jumped in suddenly.
"Rika!" Tomoyo cried, "Let the girl finish her story."
Rika shrugged and popped the remainder bit of her cookie in her mouth.
"But really Sakura – was he sweet? Handsome? Cute? Romantic?" Chiharu chanted dreamily, her eyes off in space. Tomoyo let out an annoyed groan.
"I'm sure he was nice enough to offer such a long ride for a complete stranger."
Sakura smiled, "Yeah, he was pretty nice. I feel as if I owe him much more than what I gave him in return for it." She drifted off and looked away. That's right. I didn't do anything besides buying breakfast to thank him…and its too late to do anything now…
Eriol mused, grinning at Syaoran from across the table, "It's a start – was it because she was pretty?"
"No!" Syaoran started despite his passive look, "It was – stupid – I wasn't thinking – "
Takashi interrupted through a mouthful of chicken, "What did happen to you and Meiling? I thought you two were happily engaged."
"They were engaged?" Another boy commented, "Damn, that sucks..."
Syaoran shot the boy a threatening look, "Nothing happened."
"But you would have to kick her out of the car – knowing Meiling – she couldn't live to be in the same car as another girl with you."
Syaoran hated Eriol for his brains; he was always quick to figure something out.
Every boy gathered at the table collected a heavy breath when Syaoran refused to answer, then slowly one by one, their eyes settled in disbelief.
"Wow…kicked her out of the car…"
"Meiling? She didn't go kicking and screaming?"
"That's incredible – isn't that illegal or something?"
"So…how is she going to get here?"
"That's brave, real brave."
A vein noticeably twitched in Syaoran's temple. The guys gawked and oohed as if he had just jumped in to a pool filled with man eating moose and got out of it alive. As ridiculous at that may seem, Syaoran wanted to be in a pool filled with man-eating anything rather then sitting at a table with his so called friends.
So he compromised.
The table silenced so quickly that it was as if all sound had been sucked right out of everyone's mouths. Those killer eyes flashed across every single one of them, marking them with imposing death if they opened their mouths another time.
"So…Arin? How was your summer?" Takashi said nervously, and everyone changed the subject like a hurricane.
Syaoran shut his eyes and leaned back in his chair, aware of Eriol's contemplating eyes on his passive complexion.
"Welcome to Tomoeda!" Tomoyo announced happily and threw herself across her bed. Sakura sat down on hers and watched as the many pillows were tossed aside in to random corners of the room.
Tomoyo crawled on to her slightly bulging belly and propped her chin on top her hands, looking at Sakura with wide eyes, "Now you won't go to school unprepared – Chiharu and Rika will help you with all your troubles."
Sakura stretched her arms and yawned, "As long as we don't stay up till one talking every night."
Tomoyo giggled, "Once you're in Tomoeda you will learn to pick up incredible sleep-deprived study habits."
"Beautiful," Sakura said aloud and collapsed on to her bed.
Her eyes fluttered open, she had just seen amber.
Oh right…that morning…
was it just this morning?
He told me I was beautiful…
"You're right – life is just beautiful." Tomoyo said from the opposite side. Her voice muffled in what seemed like her pillow. Sakura took a second to realize her roommate was talking to her but then again the statement didn't really need a response.
She could just drift right off to sleep right here. In her clothes, and nobody would care. Not Yue, not her Brother, not her Father, and certainly not some amber-eyed boy.
Syaoran opened his eyes slowly; he had sworn he'd heard someone say something. Where was Eriol? He shook his head; didn't he just leave the room?
The frustrated boy turned on his side and buried his face in to his covers, why can't I sleep?
Annoyed and tired, Syaoran shoved the blankets down his chest and leaned against the bedpost. A bright pink illuminated the table across him. His eyes dipped and he stared back at it, challenging it to come alive and strangle him to immediate death. First thing tomorrow morning. First thing. He would find that Kinomoto girl.
The pink bag chuckled back at him; impossible…that's an impossible idea.
Syaoran's eyebrows dipped further, you don't know what you're talking about …I'm not keeping you with me the rest of the year.
It chuckled again, an irritating chuckle, it sounded like Eriol. Foolish…
Who's foolish anyways? You're the stupid one
who decided not to go along with Kinomoto…damn you…now I'm
stuck with this problem.
It bickered you had problems anyways...big big problems...
"Shut up," Syaoran spat in to the empty room and was surprised that it had left his lips so loudly. He groaned and sunk back down, the cold headboard pressed deep in to his bare back but he ignored the pain, "That's right – you're going crazy – talking to pink bags...damn you Kinomoto."