A Young Man's Fancy
Spring Has Come
Eriol shuffled desolately across the room and slouched in his favorite armchair. Spinel hovered behind him—a hanky stuffed between Spinel's paws. Sinking into the cushions, Eriol settled in for a proper brooding session. It was a fine spring day in Tomoeda. Sunlight filtered through the trees and flowed through the window to dance with motes of dust. The scent of the flowers and grass floated on a gentle breeze through the open window.
All was well. Sakura-san was growing into her role as Card Mistress so well. Eriol smiled slightly as he thought of his daughter of the next life. Sakura-san and Xiao Lang had finally admitted their feelings for each other, to the relief of all involved and the joy of the dentists of Tomoeda. Touya and Yukito had moved into an apartment together. A vision of a white bunny frolicking beneath a blooming peach tree seized Eriol and he sniggered. Fujitaka even had Nadesico's ghost wandering the halls of the Kinomoto house. So why then did he feel so achy and hollow? All was well, was it not?
Eriol sniffled and rubbed his nose absently. Turning his head to speak to Spinel, his gaze fell upon a branch of plum blossoms. Ah, of course, Tomoyo, how could he forget? Even in his own thoughts, he could not admit it. Yes, unrequited longing that had no chance of requiting; that would tend to make a fellow achy and hollow. But who could blame him? It was spring. And how did the saying go? Ah spring. When a young man's fancy turns to...
Spinel offered the hanky. "And now you see why you ought to ban water fighting in the house," Spinel said with only a hint of satisfaction.
"Spinel Sun," Eriol said after putting the hanky to good use, "I don't quite know what you mean."
Spinel shook his head as Eriol sneezed yet again. "At times, I wonder about the most powerful magician in the world…."
Eriol raised an eyebrow at Spinel.
"Well, half of the most powerful magician in the world. You can't see what is plain in front of your own nose!" Spinel snorted as he alit upon Eriol's lap, folding his legs beneath himself.
Blinking, Eriol considered Spinel's words. He crossed his arms and stared at Spinel with smoky blue eyes. "Spinel Sun, if it pleases you, kindly speak to your master in plain terms. My head is bothering me to no end and I promised I would discuss Daidouji-san with you later, did I not?"
Spinel peered at Eriol and flew up to place a paw against Eriol's forehead. Spinel tsked softly as he shook his head. Eriol quelled the desire to tell Spinel to stop shaking his head before it fell off. Spinel had taken on the role of parent in Eriol's odd family, but Spinel's false form was ill-suited for scolding—Spinel succeeding in looking more like one of those bobble-head toys all the vogue amongst sports fans than a authority figure.
"Hmm, it's worse than I thought. A fever! All that magic and you can't even tell when your own body is sick! Magicians!" Spinel frowned and sighed again. "Well, I suppose there isn't very much we can do until Nakuru comes home. In the meantime, I want you to rest—none of that fussing around. I'll make you some nice chicken soup. And when you're all better, we can speak of Tomoyo-san," Spinel crossed his arms and fixed Eriol with a look that brooked no nonsense and promised much.
There was no doubt in Eriol's mind that they would discuss Tomoyo later. Eriol instead opened his mouth to profusely attest the state of his health. This eloquent recital of his corporeal wellbeing was somewhat mitigated by a fit of sneezing that dominated the bulk of Eriol's expression. Spinel smirked and flew silently out of the room. Eriol rose out of his chair and would have gone after Spinel, but the stars in his eyes made him dizzy. Why did the room spin so? How was a body to cross a room if it wouldn't stay still? He sank back into his chair and gazed out at the plum blossoms, brooding in earnest now. Eriol hated being sick.
Nakuru flew out of the door, narrowly avoiding the pillow that sailed after her. Spinel dodged the pillow easily and stood a few feet away from Nakuru, in case she felt like "playing", as she liked to call it. In other words, Spinel's idea of playing did not include dunking in large bowls of sugar or being swung about by his tail. For once however, Nakuru looked almost serious. To be more precise, she looked concerned.
"I am a bit worried about Eriol. He's not…well," she said, a wrinkle appearing between her eyebrows.
"Not well? What would make you say that? Is it the fact that he is completely incomprehensible? That he's demanded us to change the temperature 5 times? Hot, cold, hot cold and hot again? That he threw a pillow at you? What's not well about that?" Spinel snorted.
Nakuru nodded solemnly and added with a small, wicked grin.
"And when you say Tomoyo-chan, he gets this soppy look on his face and starts babbling about lavender and plum blossoms and irises and how really Tomoyo-chan just owns the colour purple in all its permutations."
Nakuru and Spinel shared a look and Nakuru tittered hysterically. Spinel merely smirked. After a bit, Nakuru wiped the tears from her eyes and Spinel shook his head, glaring at Nakuru.
"That's besides the point. What are we going to do about him?"
Nakuru frowned for a moment, the wrinkle between her eyebrows deepening. Then she giggled, seized Spinel by the tail and cuddled him close to her face.
"I know you're worried, Suppi, but we can call Sakura-chan and she can take care of it. She can do anything!"
Spinel squirmed and wriggled and managed to escape Nakuru's grasp.
"I admit your idea has merit, but Nakuru?"
Nakuru pouted slightly as Spinel escaped.
"My name is N.O.T. Suppi!"
"Awwww, Suppi-chaaaaaaaaan!" squealed Nakuru as she ran after the zooming black cat.
Sakura and Tomoyo walked up the stairs to Eriol's house while lugging a large basket. Kero-chan flew ahead and rang the doorbell.
"Poor Eriol-kun," Sakura remarked. "You know, in all the years we've known him, I don't think I remember Eriol-kun ever being sick."
"Clow rarely got sick. I only remember him having a cold once or twice, really, and well…." Kero-chan shuddered as he recalled some past memory of several pieces of very expensive and very heavy pottery being tossed at him. "Well, Sakura-chan, at least you're not quite so bad as he was."
"Kero-chan, being sick is no fun. You should be more considerate," chided Sakura.
Sakura paused and peered intently at Kero-chan.
"Not quite so bad? What's that supposed to mean?"
Tomoyo smiled at the two of them, zooming in to catch the look of terror on Kero-chan's face as Sakura attempted to throttle some sense into him. Some things never changed. She sighed contently while the two rallied on, her V8 humming as it taped.
Suddenly, the door opened and Nakuru sprung out.
"Sakura-chan! Kero-chan! Chicken soup for everyone!" Nakuru trilled on the top of her lungs. Then she paused on Tomoyo, as if seeing her for the first time. A wicked smile bloomed on her lips as she hollered more loudly, "Suuuuupiiii, Tomoyooooooo-chaaaaan is here too!"
The trio sweatdropped at Nakuru before following her into the foyer. Tomoyo smiled softly as she lowered her camera and bowed slightly.
"Akizuki-san, I hope you don't mind my presence. Sakura-chan told me that Hiiragizawa-kun was not feeling well, and I thought I should also come and help look after him."
"Oh, I don't think Eriol will mind at all if you're here, Tomoyo-chan, don't worry," Nakuru replied, sniggering under her breath. "Isn't that right, Suppi? And please, call me Nakuru. I hate it when you're so formal with me. All cute girls should call me by my name," Nakuru said, grasping Tomoyo's hands in hers.
"Are you sure Hiiragizawa-kun won't mind, Nakuru-san?" Tomoyo said, blushing demurely at Nakuru's compliment.
Spinel paused halfway down the staircase and smiled slightly at the group as they walked towards him.
"Oh, I'm sure Master won't mind at all, Tomoyo-san," added Spinel blandly.
"Master, Sakura-san, Tomoyo-san and Cerebeus are here to see you," Spinel called out up the stairs towards Eriol's room.
Eriol sat up quickly and shook his befuddled head. No, not like this! She couldn't see him like this. He groped for his glasses. No, better if he could not see her properly. In this state, there was no telling what he would do or say if he saw her. Perhaps he would drool. Yes, over her long dark curls, her mysterious, sweet eyes, her creamy skin, and her kind and gentle smi...mouth... Eriol shook his head sternly.
"Stop it," he told himself firmly. "This is not the time to list the finer points of Tomoyo-san, as fine as they are. Pull yourself together!"
He dragged a hand through his hair and grumbled. Didn't he tell Nakuru and Spinel Sun that he was Just Fine? He needed no nursing, from Tomoyo least of all. In his bedroom! Perhaps this was a fever dream. Eriol had read about them somewhere. The heat of a fever burns your brain, causing it to become befuddled and bemused. Logic is thrown out the window, and the invalid is plagued with strange and wondrous sights such as mocchi growing on a tree or the King Penguin come to life in the park. An image of Yamazaki-kun holding up one finger and smiling brightly popped into Eriol's head. No, Eriol had read it in a book, he had. Yes, this was clearly an impossible delusion. But before he knew it, Tomoyo was there. In his bedroom. Along with Sakura. And Cerberus. And Nakuru. And Spinel Sun. Surely not a dream. His dream would have been just him and Tomoyo. Eriol admitted he was a strange boy, but not quite that strange. Tomoyo lowered her V8 for a moment, a sweet smile on her lips, concern shining in her dark purple eyes. Eriol blinked. Not a dream. He blushed and felt his heart sink into his stomach, hoping no one would notice. The snickers from the far corner indicated someone had.
"Hoe! Eriol-kun! Your face is flushed! You do have a fever!" Sakura cried. She rushed over to his bed and placed her hand upon his forehead. "Don't worry. Tomoyo-chan and I will take care of you. Nakuru-san called us and we came over as soon as we could."
Eriol flashed a weak smile at Sakura and shook his head.
"Sakura-san, I am quite well. I don't know what all the fuss is about. You didn't have to come over. But thank you for coming; it was too kind."
Sakura frowned slightly as she shook her head. "Eriol-kun, you are burning hot! And don't be ridiculous; of course we had to come over. You're not well! He doesn't believe me, Tomoyo-chan. Feel his forehead and tell him how hot he is!" Sakura waved her hand at Tomoyo.
Tomoyo blinked and started to stammer politely, "Oh, Sakura-chan, I'm sure Hiiragizawa-kun is just being polite. He knows he's sick. Why would you lie? There is no reason to lie, is there?"
Sakura shook her head and smiled brightly at Tomoyo.
"Tomoyo-chan, you have to feel his forehead if you are to be his nurse. That's how it's done. Now, go on!"
Eriol said nothing and merely stared at Tomoyo, his eyes too bright and slightly glazed.
Tomoyo shook her head and sighed, handing her camera to Nakuru before she complied with Sakura's wish. She sat on the other side of the bed and placed one cool hand against his forehead, her other hand resting carelessly against his flushed cheek. After a moment, she frowned as she glared fiercely at Eriol.
"Hiiragizawa-kun, you are burning hot! Let's get you some damp towels and water. Would you like that?"
Eriol made a soft noise and nodded, his eyes growing more glazed as a goofy grin spread across his face. He fervently hoped this wasn't a dream. Her hands were so soft, and a lock of her hair brushed against his neck. He could smell her. Lavender and lilacs and…. All of a sudden, he heard a humming noise. Nakuru hovered over the bed with Tomoyo's V8 while Spinel rolled on the floor, convulsing with laughter. Sakura and Kero-chan sweatdropped. Tomoyo turned and glared at them. Tomoyo rose from the floor and crossed her arms fiercely across her chest.
"You heard him! Damp towels and water! Can't you see Hiiragizawa-kun is in pain?"
Eriol whimpered loudly and Tomoyo turned, her attention fully trained on Eriol.
"What's wrong, Hiiragizawa-kun? Does something hurt?"
Eriol shook his head and sighed softly. "No, Daidouji-san."
"Not a dream," he told himself fiercely. "You must remember that. You can't ask her to put her hands back on your face, if it pleases you, Daidouji-san."
Tomoyo nodded at Eriol's words while she glared at Nakuru and Spinel Sun.
"You heard Nurse Daidouji, water and damp towels everyone!" Sakura chirped as she ushered everyone out of the room, leaving Tomoyo and Eriol alone. "I'll even make you some honey milk, Eriol-kun!" Sakura beamed innocently at the two of them as she shut the door.
Eriol made a strangled noise that sounded like a dying badger. Sakura had all the subtlety of a grand piano tossed off a cliff to crush an acorn.
Tomoyo smiled gently, murmuring softly while she straightened out his sheets.
"Don't worry, Hiiragizawa-kun, they'll be back shortly, I'm sure. Is there anything I can do for you right now?"
Tomoyo pulled up a chair next to Eriol's bed. She sat down and began rummaging through the contents of the basket Sakura had been carrying.
"Perhaps I could read a book. I have a newspaper as well. Which would you prefer?"
She paused, giving Eriol an inquiring smile.
Eriol shook his head and smiled gently at Tomoyo.
"No, thank you for your concern, Daidouji-san. After Nakuru's chatter and Spinel's scolding, silence is quite soothing. We can just sit here and wait for them to return from the kitchen. I'm sure they won't be long."
Unless they decided to take a detour through the many hidden passageways the manor had. Or perhaps they were making chicken soup. From scratch. Nakuru might even be inspired to raise the chickens from the eggs. In short, they would not return soon enough to save him. Eriol's thoughts swirled about, crafting dark conspiracies. A curl of dark gray hair tickled his nose and he was lost again, inhaling the intoxicating scent of freesia? Gardenias? He was too befuddled to know or to care. Eriol savored the moment before shaking himself out of this reverie that threatened to overwhelm his reason.
"I'm really quite well, Daidouji-san. You don't have to do this…." Eriol protested weakly, propping himself with one hand as he attempted to rise from his bed.
Tomoyo placed a hand firmly on Eriol's chest and pressed him back into his bed.
"Hiiragizawa-kun, haven't you an ounce of sense? You are burning with fever. This is no time to play the good host and rise out of bed. You're sick!" Tomoyo chided him fiercely, her eyes flashing, her hand firmly lodging Eriol in place.
Eriol blinked. "Yes, Daidouji-san."
It was merely concern—a contained, polite emotion. Were flashing amethysts polite? No, her eyes were more like shining violets. Eriol sighed. Tomoyo re-arranged his sheets carefully, still keeping her hand firmly upon his chest. He smiled innocently at Tomoyo, as if to say, "Don't worry, Daidouji-san, I shan't be going anywhere, but you can't know that for sure now, can you? So you must keep that hand right where it is." This of course was exactly what he wanted her to think.
Tomoyo sniffed gently and shook her head, a knowing smile on her face.
"Hiiragizawa-kun, you may be the reincarnation of Clow Read, but I wonder if you have an ounce of sense in your body." Tomoyo kept her hand upon Eriol's chest as she continued to cluck over him.
Eriol shrugged, trying to fight the goopy smile that seemed to threaten permanent residence upon his face. Tomoyo did have such nice hands. He had never noticed until now. Everything about Tomoyo was perfect, wasn't it?
"I'm sorry I can't have more sense, Daidouji-san. But I will try, for your sake," Eriol promised, his eyes feverishly bright.
Tomoyo hid her smile behind her hair as she shook her head.
"If you don't behave, perhaps I should get Spinel-san to come and sit on you. Or Kero-chan. I'm sure they would enjoy that very much."
Eriol blinked at Tomoyo, envisioning the two giant cats sitting on his chest; a smirking Spinel and a gleeful Cereberus. He shuddered.
"Daidouji-san, you wound me," Eriol pouted cutely, placing his hand on top of hers. "There, is that proof enough that I will be the perfect patient? By my own hand, I remain where I am."
Tomoyo laughed merrily at Eriol, no longer able to keep a straight face.
Eriol pouted some more. "If I had chains, I'd chain myself, I swear it." Eriol tightened his grip on Tomoyo's hand.
Tomoyo could not answer. She was too busy biting her lip to stop her giggles.
Eriol smiled. Tomoyo looked so lovely when she laughed. She should really laugh more.
"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: rough winds do shake the darling buds of May," murmured Eriol under his breath.
Tomoyo paused and tilted her head as she regarded Eriol.
"Hiiragizawa-kun, my English is not so good. Something about the lovely weather? If you want something, just ask me in Japanese and perhaps I can help you?"
Eriol blushed deeply and attempted to sink into his sheets.
"It, it is nothing, Daidouji-san. The lovely weather has inspired me to recite some poetry. That is all. The plum blossoms are looking lovely, aren't they? My, I wonder where Sakura-san is. I'm really getting terribly thirsty."
Before Tomoyo could ask for a translation, someone knocked at the door.
"Come in!" Eriol yelled out, wiping the nervous sweat off his forehead.
He would speak to Nakuru, Spinel and Sakura later. For now, he was glad for their presence and the buffer they would put between him and Tomoyo. Sakura walked into the room, holding a mug of honey milk in her hands. Nakuru balanced a tray holding a glass of water, hot tea and soup. Spinel Sun and Kero-chan hovered behind them, carrying some damp towels.
"Tomoyo-chan, did you take good care of Eriol-kun while we were gone?" Sakura asked as she helped Eriol drink his honey milk, smiling oh-so innocently at Eriol.
Eriol glared at Sakura over the rim of the mug as Tomoyo nodded.
"Of course, Sakura-chan. But Hiiragizawa-kun was most stubborn and I had to be quite firm about him staying in bed." Tomoyo's gaze turned steely for a moment. Then she patted Eriol's hand. "But he was good for the most part. He even recited poetry."
Eriol finished his milk and cleared his throat. "Sakura-san, Daidouji-san, I must thank you again for coming, but I'm afraid all the excitement of your visit has made me quite tired. So I think I will take a nap now."
Sakura and Tomoyo stood up and began gathering up their things. Nakuru shut off Tomoyo's V8 and handed it to the younger girl.
"Could I possibly get a copy of that tape, Tomoyo-chan? It's not often one gets to see Eriol...sick," Nakuru replied, glancing Spinel, who stared innocently at the ceiling.
Eriol seethed. It was bad enough that Sakura was throwing Tomoyo at him. But his own creations! Abandoning him like that and then taping him! To laugh at their own leisure! At him! The world was a cruel, cruel place. So Eriol did the only sensible thing a sick person could do. He threw his pillow at Nakuru.
"Out!" he ordered, glaring at Nakuru, but voicing the command to all.
Everyone obliged and ran out of the room.
Sakura blinked. "My, he does get a little cranky when he's sick, doesn't he?"
Nakuru sighed and shook her head. "Yes, but don't mind him, Sakura-chan. It's just the cold talking."
Spinel just barely muffled his snigger.
Eriol snuggled into his sheets and glared at the door. If they didn't insist on throwing Tomoyo-san at him when he was barely able to think straight, perhaps he would not be so cranky. And why bother wasting the effort when it was clear Tomoyo thought of him as only Hiiragizawa-kun. Oh, but it had been so nice, the laughter in her voice, the touch of her soft hands, her sweet scent still lingering on his sheets, in the very air of this room. He drifted off, Tomoyo filling his dreams.
A few days later...
Eriol sprung down the stairs, dressed in a neatly pressed uniform.
"Good morning, Spinel Sun! Good morning, Nakuru! We need some air in this dusty old place! Come, help me open this window."
Eriol walked over to the nearest window, flinging it open all the way. He leaned out, throwing his arms wide open.
"Ahhh, spring. When a young man's fancy turns to..."
Eriol rubbed his watery eyes and sneezed again. What was wrong now?
Spinel shook his head and handed a hanky to Eriol.
"Serves you right. I realize it's been a year, and a busy year at that, but really... Remember, Master, it's allergy season? And you've forgotten to fill out your prescription?" Spinel smirked at his last few sentences, licking imaginary cream from his lips. "Even Clow Read himself could not visit a better revenge."
Eriol sighed as he wiped his nose. Spring was not turning out to be his season this year.