Crystallization

Semi-important ramblings before reading the story (you can skip it; no wait, don't):

A/N: This is purple snowflakes number two reporting to base! I present you the stupid (also first chapterly CCS fic) fic I've been talking about. I know the summary is, eh, weird, but it's supposed (note: SUPPOSED) to be intriguing. I think it made you puke instead, didn't it. ARGH. I'm no good at this kind of stuff. So, readers, please don't mind my disgusting writing because I'm still underage (shh, it's a secret; wait, now it isn't) and not really experienced.

P.S: BEFORE YOU WINCE IN DISGUST, THIS IS AN AU AND SS FIC. So, come, turn back around now to look at the nice, pwetty screen! I know I should shut up. Okay, I will.

Disclaimer: If CLAMP came out with such horrifying work, I think they would have gone bankrupt. So obviously, I don't own the characters in here, but I do own the puked up plot and writing.

Crystals, of no scratches, of no marks, of clarity, of pureness. From something dirty, something bad, if it's given one small chance and a few nudges, it could enter crystallization and emerge as something... completely different.

Met

The young girl hurtled into the opposite wall, slamming into the bricks with a sickening crunch. The thieves behind her were muttering, searching the bag they had wrenched from her. Finally, after a few moments, they stared incredulously at the measly ten-dollar notes they had found, and looked regretfully at her hand phone, which had been crushed. They emptied the rest of her bag on the ground, growling menacingly. One of them smashed the girl harder into the brick wall, her auburn bangs now matted with blood.

"Pathetic. What an idiot. She's poor, man. Let's go, before anyone finds us here."

Snarling irritably, the thieves left, stepping smoothly over the slim frame of the teenaged girl. Tears spilled out of her eyes, and a fat drop of blood seeped into her vision. She didn't bother wiping it away; she was too weak to use any more energy. It was pitch dark, and she could just see a faint glow in the distance. Probably a street lamp. She didn't know.

The tears mingled with the blood, and she felt sharp throbs of pain on her forehead, pounding ferociously. It was where her head had slammed into the wall; she might have had a concussion, or something. Determinedly, she sat upright, hearing her bones creak in protest. She looked bluntly at the pile of objects on the floor, and another drop of blood trickled down her nose. Didn't she remember to stuff a first-aid kit into her bag?

"Help," she said weakly in her own language. If only she knew how to speak Cantonese. Then she would be able to converse with the Hong Kong people around here. Another tear leaked out of her eye. It hurt; it really did! It was surprising that she wasn't bawling her eyes out. Onii-chan, also known as the meanest older brother in the entire world, Touya, would have been raising an eyebrow sceptically at her lack of sobs.

"Is anyone there? Help?" she said tentatively, as the blood flowed down her lips. She tasted it unwillingly; it was weird. And disgusting, too.

The faint glow of the faraway street lamp flickered suddenly. Sakura blinked. The next second, the movement in the light was gone.

"Anyone there?" she inquired loudly. "Help?"

Footsteps were approaching, and eagerly Sakura sat up.

"I'm covered in blood; can anyone hear me?" she asked stupidly. She winced as the jabs of pain came again, hurting terribly. More tears spilled out. The footsteps grew louder, and she could feel the ground vibrating very slightly as the person came closer.

"It hurts…" she whimpered to herself, running her fingers over her bleeding wound. She looked intently at her fingers; they were covered in the red liquid. She gave a half-hearted sob, trying her hardest to defy Onii-chan and make him feel defeated when he realized she didn't make any noise at all when she got slammed into the wall by some stupid thieves. If only she had her hand phone. She swivelled her eyes to the corner of the alley; there it was, crushed to smithereens.

Someone said something in Cantonese.

"Excuse me?" she said politely. "I can't understand you… can you speak Japanese?"

That person, presumably a guy (she could hardly see anything in the darkness), growled irritably.

"I can understand Japanese, but I can't speak it," he said frustratingly, still speaking in Cantonese.

Sakura flinched slightly. There was a cutting edge to the tone of the boy's voice, and he didn't sound fully matured yet. Probably a teenager, like her.

"I guess you can't, can you?" she said hesitantly. More blood welled up on her wound, and trickled silently down the bridge of her nose.

"I can understand it," he attempted slowly in Japanese. "I just cannot speak it."

"Sugoi! You spoke it! Anyway, I'm, um, bleeding lots, so if it's of no trouble, um, can you help me up, please?" she said, trying to sound happy and casual as she pointed at her wound. The boy stared at it.

"That looks bad," he breathed. Sakura watched him questioningly.

"What?" she asked. More blood spilled down her face, and she winced. "Painful."

The boy nodded wordlessly.

"Can you stand?" he asked.

"What?" Sakura said quizzically. Her eyes were filled with tears from the pain, but of course, the boy couldn't see so.

"Stand, you know?" he said impatiently, squatting down and standing up again.

"Squat? Move up and down?" she said blankly. The boy slapped his head.

"Can you stand up?" he asked, gesturing upwards with his hand. Sakura stared at it.

"Huh?" she said, whimpering. She couldn't understand anything the boy was doing. "You can speak Japanese just fine; why don't you speak in Japanese?"

"I'm bad at it," he said, now in Japanese. "I hate Japanese."

Sakura looked at him, hurt.

"You hate Japanese? Japanese people like me?" she said, sounding upset.

"The language. I don't like the language; it's very hard to learn."

"Were you asking me to stand?" she finally guessed. The boy nodded. Her muscles and bones ached from the impact of the bricks, and when she tried, she just toppled over aimlessly.

"I can't stand," she said tearfully. "It hurts!"

Sighing, the boy crouched down reluctantly and heaved her into his arms. Sakura gulped; her blood was seeping into his sleeve. Still utterly determined not to wail, she bit her tongue and held back her tears. The boy gazed at the pile of objects on the ground.

"You were robbed?" he grunted. Sakura nodded. The boy crouched down again and shoved everything into the torn bag, before zipping it up and handing it to her.

"Arigatou," she whispered and clutched the bag. It was already an effort holding on to the bag, but she held on to it as well as she could. The boy walked out of the alley, Sakura in his arms.

Instantly, they were doused in the streetlight; Sakura cringed from the sudden brightness.

"Where are you going?" she asked nervously.

"My house, it's closer than the hospital," he said tonelessly. Sakura gave a tiny nod. The guy was freaky; the sooner she could get to a phone, the better.

And then, she realized she didn't know the hotel number. And Touya and Otou-san didn't have any hand phones. She groaned.

"Are you staying in a hotel?" asked the boy keenly. "I can bring you there instead; damn, maybe not, my house is still the closest..."

Sakura swallowed hard. The boy didn't seem to welcome Sakura's presence very much.

What was the hotel called, anyway? Onii-chan, Otou-san and she had been making their way to the hotel in the taxi – Otou-san mentioned its name, but she had not been listening. She was too busy exclaiming about the pretty shops whizzing past, and Otou-san decided to stop to browse around and have a bite. They piled out of the taxi and were running around in all directions when Sakura saw it.

The brooch.

It was simply made, with an ornamental cherry blossom melded into the thin strip of gold. Sakura felt attracted to it; it had been so pretty, gleaming in the light. There was a tiny ruby attached at the side, barely noticeable, but it was it that intrigued Sakura so. It glowed ever so mysteriously, and Sakura kept staring at it, until she realized Onii-chan and Otou-san were gone.

She had wanted to keep staring at the brooch, but finally she tore her gaze from it and glanced around. Otou-san and Onii-chan were nowhere to be seen.

After that, she wandered around pointlessly, almost crying but not wanting to. Onii-chan would definitely tease her for crying at the age of sixteen. And why didn't they have hand phones, when her best friend Tomoyo had given her one?

And then those stupid thieves came and practically murdered her, until this weird guy came.

"So, what's your hotel?"

Sakura laughed nervously.

"Um… I don't… uh… know?" she said, trying to smile but stopping when she felt more blood spew out.

"What, how can you not know?" he said forcefully. Sakura felt tears prick the corners of her eyes, and she blinked them away hastily.

"Um, I wasn't listening to my Otou-san – HOEEE!"

A massive mansion loomed in front of her, towering to the velvety night sky, which was dotted with stars. The wrought iron gates swung open immediately, and the boy stalked in, looking irritated with his load. A girl with light brown hair and dark eyes cocked her head to one side as the boy entered the room.

"Oh, Syaoran, bad boy," she reproved, shaking her finger. "Out late again."

The boy ground his teeth and walked right past her. Sakura looked inquisitively at the girl.

"Is that your sister?"

Syaoran sighed and nodded, dumping Sakura very unceremoniously onto the sofa.

"Who's she, Syaoran? Hey, hey, be a good little brother and tell Fuutie!" pleaded the girl, trailing after him. Syaoran gritted his teeth and stomped on the ground rather unnecessarily.

"Shut up," he snapped, flinging the cupboard open a tad hard and wrenching out some bandages and ointment.

"Is she Japanese? She was speaking Japanese, Syaoran-chan!"

"It's 'kun'. Chan is for girls," he informed her tersely.

"I know. But Syaoran-chan sounds cute, doesn't it? Come on, Syaoran-chan, tell me who she is!"

"I'm not a girl," he said through clenched teeth, trying to put as much distance as possible between his sister and himself. Fuutie followed after him.

"Well, Syaoran-chan, why does she have blood all over her face? Should I get Mother? Huh? Huh, Syao-chan?"

"No, stop it, Fuutie, go away," he said angrily, pulling away from his sister's arm. Fuutie pouted, flipping her long hair from one shoulder to the other.

"Syaoran-chan… tell me!" she pleaded, just as Syaoran walked into the room. Sakura's eyes widened at the use of 'chan'. She stared at Syaoran, who looked away pointedly.

"Your name is Syaoran?" she asked, trying it out in a Japanese accent. Syaoran, surprised at how quickly she managed to say his name in Japanese, nodded.

"You want me to help? Syaoran-chan, I can help, you know! Lemme help! Come on! Or I'll call Mother! You're not supposed to be wandering around at midnight! You're real lucky you got a nice, big sister like me! Lemme help, Syao-eee!"

Syaoran, his eye twitching dangerously, crouched down beside Sakura and ignored his older sister. Fuutie turned her attention upon Sakura.

"Syaoran-chan fits him so well, doesn't it? What's your name, anyway? I'm Li Fuutie, the older sister of little wittle eensy weensy tiny shrimpy Syaorannie," claimed Fuutie in fluent Japanese (excluding all her made up words), pointing at Syaoran. Syaoran dabbed rather fiercely at Sakura's wound, and she grimaced.

"Ano... I'm Kinomoto Sakura."

Fuutie glared at her brother and snatched the cotton out of his hand.

"Syaoran! You're being too rough!" she cried, dabbing a lot lighter at the wound than Syaoran had been doing. Syaoran scowled heavily. Sakura noticed that unlike his sister, his eyes were a unique hue of amber-brown, penetrating with their gaze, and his hair was a big sticky-outy mess of dark chestnut brown.

"I. Am. Not. Little," he snarled. Fuutie gave a high, tinkling laugh.

"Oh, don't act humble, little bro! You're the youngest, the sweetest, the tiniest, the most important, the littlest, the shrimpiest, and being the youngest out of five children proves that!"

Sakura was amazed that Syaoran could scowl even heavier.

"Five children?" she asked, while Fuutie cleared the dried blood off her face with a towel.

"Yep! Wonderful Syao-ee here is the heir to the Li Clan. We other four older sisters," she paused, glancing at Syaoran, who was frowning so deeply it seemed as if the wrinkles on his face would remain there even after he stopped scowling, "are nothing. Fortunately, we are older than our beloved Syao-chan, so we can tease him all day long. Unfortunately, although he's living with a family of females, he hasn't turned sissy."

Sakura didn't know whether or not to laugh; Syaoran was looking stony-faced and Fuutie was beaming widely. Mutely, Syaoran walked over and yanked the towel from Fuutie's hand.

"I think I'd better do that," he growled portentously, glowering at his sister. Fuutie pouted.

"Orh, Syao-chan is angry," she said. Sakura shivered. If she were Fuutie, she would have been running into the nearest room. And locking the door. Plus throwing the key away.

"You can go to SLEEP now, Fuutie," said Syaoran meaningfully, shooting daggers at his sister. Fuutie faked a yawn.

"Oh, but Syao-chan, I'm not sleepy!" she whined.

"Quit calling me Syao-chan!" he hissed, now bandaging Sakura's head up extremely vigorously.

"Fine then. How about Ran-chan? Actually, it sounds worse. FINE, be that way... I'll tell the others about your new nickname...Syao-chan... Goodnight, Sakura..." she added sleepily, trudging off to her room.

Syaoran turned back to Sakura, who was looking innocently up at him, her emerald eyes unnervingly vivid. Hastily, he turned back to his bandaging, and his heart sank as he remembered his sister's words about telling his other sisters about 'Syao-chan'.

"Oh, Kami-sama," he muttered. "Not another nickname."

Sakura blinked.

"Another nickname?"

Syaoran nodded, tightening the bandage. Sakura fingered it worriedly.

"Li," she said. She wasn't supposed to call strangers by their first names; for Japanese, it was rude. "How are you going to explain to your mother about me?"

He shrugged carelessly.

"She won't mind. She'll just kill me when she realizes I went out again," he said. For the first time, Sakura detected a tiny tinge of respect in his voice as he said this.

"Oh, um, okay. Thanks a million for everything, Li-kun, I could have died," she said, smiling gratefully at Syaoran. Syaoran ran his fingers through his bangs and stared in another direction.

"I didn't do much," he said. "You don't need to thank me."

Sakura beamed happily, her face shining.

"Yes, I do, Li-kun! You're letting me stay the night and stuff. I promise you, Li, I'll probably be on the news tomorrow; Onii-chan and Otou-san would have told the police! And I definitely will be leaving tomorrow! So don't bother about me, I'm sure Onii-chan and Otou-san will be looking for me," said Sakura enthusiastically. Syaoran shrugged nonchalantly.

"I guess. Well, we'd better get you upstairs; there's an extra bedroom somewhere," he muttered, slipping his arms underneath Sakura, causing her to squeak in surprise.

"Um, thanks," she murmured embarrassedly. Syaoran gave no response, his face completely expressionless as he picked her up. Sakura had no choice but to look at the underneath of his face. His long dark brown hair bounced slightly as he walked, and his eyes were piercing, seemingly searing through every wall, every door that came in his path.

Finally, after what seemed like an uncomfortable eternity, Syaoran kicked a door open casually and paced in, dropping Sakura onto her bed and causing her to bounce around a few times before coming to a halt.

"Thanks," she said, clutching her head as it started throbbing even harder. Syaoran glanced at her.

"You sure you're all right?" he asked. Sakura glanced at him curiously. Was he concerned? She couldn't hear any trace of concern in his voice, though.

"Yeah, I think so," she said thickly, while doubling over with her hands still holding her head. "Thanks for worrying about me." She gave him a weak smile.

"You don't look too good, Kinomoto," he said warily. "I think I'd better take you to the hospital tomorrow."

Sakura's eyes widened in fear.

"No, no, not the hospital! I'm fine, I really am. Don't worry, Li, I'm perfectly all right!" she said frantically, putting on a blank face as she ignored the pain in her head. It was as if a porcupine had forced its way in and was scurrying all over the inside of her skull, its spines piercing every cubic centimetre of her brain and jabbing particularly viciously at her forehead.

"Well," he said hesitantly. "I think you really need the hospital."

"Why?" she asked wildly, looking afraid. "I hate hospitals; lots of people die there and one of my friends kept telling me ghost stories about hospitals! Ghosts leave their hosts and float around haunting people! In the hospital! Especially at night!" She shook her head frenziedly, her auburn tresses flying in all directions. "No hospitals for me!"

"There are no ghosts in hospitals," he said, his voice tinged with amusement. Sakura's head jerked towards him disbelievingly. Strange. Humour coming from the coldest guy on earth. "I'll bring you in the morning, and after that we can pack you off with your family. Is that okay?"

"I guess... Oh, thanks, Li, for being concerned," she said happily, the fat porcupine still squashing its spines contentedly on Sakura's forehead. Syaoran looked away again, raking his hair with his fingers.

"Um, okay," he said gruffly, turning his back on Sakura and placing his hand on the handle of the door. "If anything happens in the night, come to my room; two doors from your left. Don't go to the first one on your left; my stupid sisters are residing there. They'll pounce on you the moment you step in."

"Okay, Li-kun. Goodnight," she said. Syaoran looked back. The only thing visible in the darkness of the room was the scintillating gleam of those sparkling emerald eyes. Regardless of all the pain she had to endure in her head, her eyes still looked blissful and contented, shimmering brightly in the dim starlight streaming in from the window.

"Goodnight," he said, looking back at the wooden panes of the door and slipping out. Sakura stared at the closed door, and turned over.

Syaoran was different; between his sister and him, his presence felt different. She couldn't explain it; there was something very unusual about him.

Very, very unusual.