More Than Enough
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Disclaimer I do not own Cardcaptor Sakura, or any of the characters associated with CLAMP's work.
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Chapter 2: Coming to Terms
I burst out laughing. Syaoran had always been good with practical jokes, but this one – his acting was so good, I had almost believed it. The circumstances weren't the best – he had taken it just a little too far this time. Yelan looked at me, shocked. I could see she still hadn't caught on. I wasn't going to ruin it. Okay, I was. When no one said anything, my laugh changed. It sounded hollow to my ears, it sounded deranged in the otherwise silent room. I stopped.
"You idiot! That was the cruelest joke you could have played on us!" I said, trying to keep myself in control. "This was not the time for something like that." Syaoran was astonished. He looked at me, then down to the floor, avoiding my gaze. His mouth opened, then closed, then opened again. It was useless though. No words came out. I realized then what was going on. I forced myself to deny it, but I knew it was no use. Syaoran had actually done this.
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The absolute last thing I expected my father to do was laugh. I was ready for almost any other reaction. I was ready for anger, for tears, and I was almost prepared for a beating. I would have loved to expect acceptance, blessing, but that would have been pushing my luck. No other reaction in the world would have thrown me off as much as 'tou-san's laughter. Although I was not drunk, just in a dazed state, that laugh sobered me up immediately. I was afraid he was going mad. His laugh was strangled and his eyes were unreadable. I couldn't bring myself to make a sound long after he'd stopped.
"Engaged?" He whispered. His tone was pleading. I had half a heart to placate him. Grin, tell him this was all a joke I'd come up with. I would have done almost anything to get rid of that expression on his face. I swallowed my fear and opened my mouth. Unfortunately, that was the moment my brain chose to shut down. I nodded instead.
"Do you understand what you're saying? An engagement! Syaoran, you know you can't back out now!" 'kaa-san hissed angrily. I didn't understand why they were getting so emotional over this. It wasn't as if I had gotten married; just proposed in my …state. I finally regained control over my tongue.
"Okaa-san, Otou-san, what are you so upset about? If it makes you feel better, we didn't tell her father either. She comes from a good family though. Her father owns a knives and swords company. People love his work."
"Well, I own a bloody toy company! Why wouldn't you tell me!" my father snapped.
"You did say I should get married in preparation for taking over the company. That worked out, didn't it?" I said quietly, before I could lose my nerve.
"Yes, we did." Otou-san said in a low voice. He looked at me sadly, "but I thought you might … include us in the decision…we though you would at least plan it with us. I was hoping you wouldn't have skipped a meeting I had planned to …" He forced a smile. "So, who's the girl?" I tried to smile back, but mine must have looked even more artificial than his did. My mother wasn't looking at either of us, her eyes trained on the floor.
"She's …waiting outside." I said quickly. Both their faces turned towards me abruptly.
"She – she's outside?" My mother repeated. I realized then that I should have mentioned that earlier.
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I smiled sweetly at the people I was hoping to impress. The older couple just looked at me stonily. The man was dressed casually, in a finely woven shirt and dress pants. He was slim and had a kind face, but his eyes were cold. The woman beside him had made more of an effort on her appearance – all of it in vain. She was rather large, with too many pieces of jewelry. The haughty look on her face made me feel queasy. I was unnerved, but I knew I had to do this.
"Hello." I said respectfully. "I am Kinomoto Sakura. We spoke on the phone."
"Oh, yes." Mr. Koichiiwa exchanged a glance with his wife. "We thought you sounded somewhat…older over the phone." I tried not to let my gaze falter. I was so close to losing it. I forced a polite laugh.
"Oh really? That's –" I couldn't really decide what it was. Insulting? Infuriating? Even maddening? Thankfully, the Koichiiwas didn't even give me a chance to come up with a real adjective.
"You see," Mrs. Koichiiwa sent me a fake smile. Nothing annoyed me more than that weird falsely sympathetic smiles the older people loved to give me whenever I inquired about a room for lease, "we're not as young as you are, and we might find your…energy and your" she sniffed unappreciatively, "lifestyle a bit too loud for our taste. We also would not tolerate your male friends coming inside with you." I'd heard it all before, but I still flushed in spite of myself. I would have loved nothing more than to yell at those elderly citizens sitting before me. To tell them that they'd already promised me that room. That we'd settled on a price. That there were no other damn accommodations left for a college girl to rent with her …lack of money. I struggled to swallow my pride. Just secure the room, I told myself.
"I can assure you, Mr. and Mrs. Koichiiwa that that will not be the case with me. I understand your concern, but if you would please just give me a chance."
"Hmmmmph." The sound that escaped from Mrs. Koichiiwa's mouth seemed to surprise her as well. She'd made it clear that she did not believe me.
"We had a deal…" I spoke softly. Mr. Koichiiwa's eyes softened and he opened his mouth to say something, but was cut off by his wife.
"Of course we did, and we are people of our word," She declared. I smiled gratefully, almost disbelievingly. "but we are not in the best of situations ourselves, and it seems like we won't be able to accept with the deposit we had formerly agreed on." My mouth fell open, and I felt as if it continued to fall. I couldn't believe this. It was just not happening. "If you could just raise your per monthly offer a little as well, I'm sure we could work things out." Mr. Koichiiwa looked at her sharply. The woman knew what my answer was going to be. She had known the problems I was facing since our last phone call.
"I don't have that kind of money." I said monotonously. "My last offer was the absolute highest I could go." I wasn't going to ask for another loan. I wasn't going to ask for an advance.
"Are you sure, darling." Mrs. Koichiiwa's expression was concerned, but her eyes were smug. She had won. She knew it too.
"I am sure." I said slowly. "I guess I'll just have to keep looking. Thank you for you time." I gave Mrs. Koichiiwa a cold glance before getting up and showing myself out.
I had fallen as low as I was willing to let myself go.
That woman wouldn't win. I'd find myself.
I'd be okay.
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"Syaoran?" I looked over at where my son was sitting contentedly on the couch, after coming down from his shower. His guest was discussing plans with my wife upstairs. He looked up at me slightly startled. He must have been practically asleep. "Why'd you marry her?"
"I didn't marry her, dad! I just proposed." Syaoran was quick to reply.
"Why her, Syaoran." The boy – no, young man – looked down and took a deep breath.
"Because – because I … I love her, dad." I gazed at him silently for a few moments. I turned around and walked away satisfied. I could hardly keep a pleased smile off of my face.
"Syaoran, be sure to get her a respectable ring."
It would be okay.
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It's funny how just when you think your day can't get any worse, it does. Oh yeah, it sounds totally cliché, but it was happening. To me.
My walk back from the Koichiiwas' was actually quite long. I'd bought a public transportation pass, but had forgotten to activate it after I'd bought it. Tomoeda was new to me, it was a small suburb, but it had close access to many of the best restaurants, shopping centers, and colleges. That's what I was here for. College.
I had been completely stunned when I had found out that I had been offered a scholarship to a great college for my art of all things. I hadn't known I had any artistic ability and I was only decent at all my other areas of study, but here I was.
I was relieved my school selection and tuition were taken care of. I had never imagined that finding a place to live while in Tomoeda would be my greatest challenge.
As a late admission, I was unable to secure lodging on campus. Every single dorm in the whole damn school was occupied. Every single apartment complex and condominium in the area was also unavailable, quickly snatched up by those who hadn't gotten a dormitory room. It wasn't as if I'd have been able to afford those any way. Instead I'd attempted to look for a privately leased place, but it hadn't worked out there either because I didn't have the money or the referrals for apartments, or I'd appeared to be too much of a brazen college girl (in my conservative pants and T-shirts) to be leased an unused room. I could have almost laughed. I'd never been much of a party-goer. Sure, I'd gone to the occasional birthday party, and gala event, but the other kinds of parties had never interested me as a high school student. I'd spent nearly all my time in extra-curriculars and sports. I wasn't even sure how I looked the part, but still every single deal I'd attempted to bring up was rejected, and things were not looking up for me.
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Rina smiled sweetly. She looked absolutely lovely, with her ivory skin and her delicate appearance. I couldn't help but loosen up around her immediately. She was beautiful, and had a very graceful personality. It was obvious she was born into a well-cultivated family. We'd talked about everything. About when she'd first met Syaoran to the night before when they'd gotten engaged. I could tell she was excited, but I wasn't sure why I was subconsciously keeping my heart distant from hers.
I'd left her feeling unsatisfied. I could see why my son liked her, but I couldn't understand how he loved her. She seemed so inconsistent. She was a carefree young woman, and I wasn't sure if she even understood the commitment involved in marriage. Syaoran acted so immartue; I doubted he knew the meaning of the words. I excused myself.
I'd decided to sort through revenues. To go through some paperwork that was lying around. I just needed something to keep my mind off of what was happening. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I knew that. I just couldn't help my feeling of foreboding. It was then I found out something else had gone amiss as well.
Syaoran was a good student. Me and Kei struggled for a while to find him something more challenging. He was acing courses with minimum effort, and we wanted him to pursue his talents to the extent of his abilities. Because of this we'd never worried about his grades. We never had long family discussions about it. It was clear: we expected Syaoran to get top marks in whatever subject he chose to take. So, of course, it was a surprise when I saw his grade in a course he had to excel in to take over Li Enterprises.
Li Syaoran had failed economics.
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I scanned the newspaper ads one more time. To my dismay, it read the same as it had read twenty-five minutes ago. I slumped back, disappointed. I had run out of options.
I had come so far. I couldn't believe such a trivial thing would send me back.
Dad and Touya were very hard workers. Touya had gone on to medical school after college and was working at a hospital to pay back his student loan. He had moved into and apartment near our house and lived there with a colleague. Dad still went to work at the University, and on a rare occasion he would go out of town to aid his students on an archaeological dig. They were both elated when they heard of my scholarship, although I'd had my doubts about leaving the two of them. Dad wouldn't let me pass up such a great opportunity. Touya convinced me that I couldn't turn my back on a once-in-a-lifetime chance like this. I knew that they had to sacrifice a lot to have me sent there, and I didn't know how I could ask them for any more.
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I didn't know how Rina had convinced me to come out with her that night. I probably would've refused if I hadn't felt that I absolutely had to get out of the house. She also convinced me it was a special occasion – our engagement and my birthday which would be the coming week. "It'll be great!" she had told me. It would be just me and her. For the rest of our lives.
I drove her to a favorite restaurant of my family's. It was an expensive place: really fancy. We had dinner there, with wine. We'd talked, laughed, danced, and drank. I really wasn't much of a drinker, but it was utter bliss. I didn't realize exactly when I began to lose control over myself. When we left the restaurant, I was staggering, finding it hard to keep myself upright. The cool night air felt good on my flushed face.
I remember kissing Rina. I remember her kissing back. I remember letting Rina drive. I remember embracing her, the smell of her hair. I remember loud music, and people around us in the crowd laughing and dancing. I remember dark blue, almost black eyes. I don't remember what happened next. I only do know that it changed my life.
It was almost three weeks later that I finally learned the details of what happened that night. I've never forgiven myself for that.
Okaa-san had been acting differently since I came back really late that night with my fiancée – I was completely drunk. I wonder, sometimes, if she somehow knew the entire time. Mom I mean. If she did, I really hated her for not bringing it up earlier. I actually didn't remember anything that happened, except for the horrible hangover I had the next day. It was pretty bad, I can say that.
I'll admit I made it worse. The situation. Of course, I didn't realize it then.
Me and Rina spent a lot of time together those weeks. Looking back, I guess I should have noticed something was up back then. She was acting…weird. She was too giggly. Too romantic. Too…edgy – as if she was waiting for something big to happen. I only wish I had known what.
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Yelan had been very quiet lately. Caught up in all the engagement preparations, I wondered if she was just anxious about the wedding as well. I'll admit I was. I wondered if Rina wasn't too immature for Syaoran. She was girlish and filled with dreamy ideas about marriage and love. She still acted like a teenager – whining when there was no one around to take her shopping and pouting miserably when something went wrong. Syaoran was also in some sort of strange dreamlike state. He didn't seem to notice the annoyance both his and his fiancée's presence was causing me. I guess I was just waiting to snap – looking for any excuse to vent out all the thoughts that had been running through my head for the last three weeks. Syaoran's birthday was soon too. His twenty-first, when he would officially inherit the company. My personal wish come true.
Of course I wanted to get everyone together for the event. The various friends and enemies I'd made in all my years of business were to be there. Syaoran's friends from travel and college were coming. Rina's family and friends were to be there as well, as we were officially announcing their engagement that night. I was going to be quite a gathering. I discussed the party plans enthusiastically with Syaoran, but he didn't seem to be very into it. He forced a smile and listened to what I had to say, but his heart wasn't in it. It was probably because so much was happening. I was worried he wouldn't be able to deal with it.
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I went on with my life as usual. I didn't say anything about the terrible bit of news I had learned quite by accident. It disappointed me beyond words that Syaoran wasn't planning on telling us. I was disappointed that Syaoran had any bad news to give. Especially about this. With his birthday celebration looming near and his inheritance of the corporation within the next week, I was nervous – to put it lightly. I hated that I couldn't say anything. I hated that Syaoran wouldn't say anything.
And as if I didn't have enough to do, I had to go over our records and assets. I had to pay all our bills, settle any debts, maintain our properties, order routine checks, renew leases and find new tenants while planning one of the biggest parties I had ever thrown. It was going to be long going. It wasn't going to be easy.
For the first time ever, I hated my life.
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I moaned , burying my face in the papers I was going through.
The word was taunting me. The four lines after it stared at me blankly. I could almost see the paper smirk. I was losing it. I had to get a grip. I still hadn't found a place to stay. The girl who had volunteered to host me for a few days was polite and didn't say anything to me directly about my failure in securing residence, but I could tell she clearly felt that I had overstayed my visit. By almost a month.
I felt embarrassed to come back to the college girl's apartment everyday and report bad news. I had managed to find a part time job, but still no place to live. The girl could not possibly host me during the standard year because her roommate would be returning soon.
A letter had arrived for me from the college insisting I give them a fixed address and confirmed my attendance to the college. If not, it asked that I "kindly let the Academic Dean know so we can offer the position to someone else."
I dejectedly stared at the numerous local daily newspapers strewn on the table in front of me. I glared and pounded one fist on the table. Some of the other customers in the coffee shop looked up suddenly. The couple sitting closest to my table actually moved to a farther one.
I breathed in deeply and tried to calm myself. It was no use getting frustrated for something so trivial. And acting up in public wasn't going to get me anywhere. I sighed again.
"Hey," A cheerful voice broke through my trouble thoughts. My head snapped up. My eyes instantly met violent ones. "If you expect to get anywhere, I suggest you look through today's paper." Her eyes twinkled. I accepted the classifieds she was holding out.
"Thanks." I muttered, still embarrassed. Sure enough, they were from today's paper. The one's I had been looking at were from a few weeks ago.
"No problem," the girl smiled, sitting down across from me. "I'm Tomoyo." She said sweetly. "I mean Daidouji Tomoyo, but, please, call me Tomoyo." I shifted uncomfortably at her forwardness. This girl seemed nice enough.
"Kinomoto Sakura." I said in answer to her unasked question. I grasped the hand she offered me from across the table. She smiled again. She was a pretty, ivory-skinned girl with dark wavy hair. I looked around the café and saw plenty of unoccupied tables, but didn't say anything. "Call me Sakura." I said politely.
"Wow! That's such a pretty name!" I glanced at my hands awkwardly. As if sensing my discomfort, Tomoyo changed the subject. "So are you looking for a place to live?" She said conversationally. This I could talk about. Maybe because I was so disappointed with it right now, I could talk about it with no hesitation.
"Yes, and I can tell you it's not going well." I think she could tell I was opening up. She could read me like a book.
"Maybe your luck will change." She glanced pointedly at the papers. I laughed, warming up to her a little.
"We'll find out." I immediately noticed the difference between the paper I had been looking at and the more recent one. For one thing, there were different listings. I chided myself for not checking the date and wasting so much time (and dignity). I picked up my highlighter and looked for ads for places I hadn't noticed in the older ads. I was so consumed with the paper, I forgot Tomoyo sitting there. She waited patiently until I was through scanning the contents and looked up at her happily.
"Anything?" She smiled kindly at me. I grinned at her, and held up one finger. With the newspaper ads in hand, I rushed over to the nearest pay phone and dialed the listed number. After a few minutes I returned to the table. I must have been glowing with hope, because Tomoyo realized my success immediately. I don't know which of us was more overjoyed by the news.
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My life was falling apart. Everything I had ever hoped for Syaoran to become was slipping through my grasp. First the grade now…
I hated that I was the one to first find out. I felt like the villain. Turning my own son in. But it was for his own good. I hoped he'd understand.
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Yelan wordlessly handed me an older newspaper. There was a blown of picture of Syaoran on the cover, smiling lazily and holding a drink in one hand.
Upclose and Personal
with China's up-and-coming multimillion enterprise heir
Tomoeda, Japan – Li Syaoran, heir to one of China and Japan's most successful enterprises has declared that he will have none of it – less than a month before he is intended to inherit the entire business. In an interview, Li unofficially rejected his claim to the Li empire, telling us that he "just wasn't interested in the toy industry" and that he was "aiming for bigger and better dreams." Although he wouldn't expand, it is clear that the heir's dissatisfaction will be a problem in the inheritance scheduled for his twenty-first birthday on July 13 this year. Li and his – Continued A4
No. No. No.
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When Rina looked at me the way she often did, there was nothing I could refuse her. Her frequent, yet attractive, pout was her way into my conscience. We spent more and more time away from the house. I felt guilty that I wasn't around to help plan a party in my favor, but I assumed love did that to people. I didn't think about it much
I didn't think to expect to be attacked the moment I got home (quite late, I admit.)
I didn't think. And the worst part of it was that I didn't find anything wrong with that at the time.
About a week before my birthday, I arrived home late…with a police escort.
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"Li Syaoran!" Keijii hissed. I had never seen him so angry before in my life. "Where the hell have you been?" I winced inwardly. I'd never heard him speak that way before either. Syaoran seemed to finally notice something was amiss.
"What's up?" he said groggily. Ignoring him and an uncomfortable Rina completely, I focused my attention on the wary, but dutiful officer. He acknowledged me, tipping a finger to his hat before speaking.
"Sorry to disturb you Mrs. Li. We caught your son before he could begin driving." He paused, and realized he must have not been making much sense. "He appears sober, but he's got some alcohol in his system. He got into something of a fight at the bar they were at. I drove them both home to be on the safe side." I finally recognized the officer. He was an old friend of ours.
"Of course, Dae" I said graciously, trying not to draw attention to the absolutely livid expression on my husband's face. "Thank you very much." The officer smiled.
"Just doing my job." He said. He dismissed himself with another tip of his hat, and then disappeared into the night. "Watch it, Syaoran." I heard him mutter.
"Syaoran." I cut Keijii off before he could make a sound. "What is this about? Haven't we taught you better?"
"What are you talking about?" Syaoran muttered. "Everything is fine."
"No, Syaoran, it's not. Nothing is perfectly fine." I turned to look at Kei, forcing his voice steady with practiced discipline. "What were you doing? In a bar," slight pause to check watch, "at three in the morning? In a fight?" He took a deep breath. "Why haven't you been around the house lately? Sleeping until past noon doesn't count.
"Why haven't you been helping us prepare for your birthday? Why haven't you been speaking with us, lately." He paused, fists clenched. "Why," he spat, "haven't you told us about this." Syaoran didn't answer when he saw the magazine. His eyes scanned the picture quickly.
"Is that about me?" he asked lightly. "When was it released?" I saw Kei's mouth drop in disbelief.
"This is it, Syaoran." He hissed. "Your games won't get you out of this. Don't even try to change the subject." I noticed that the boy looked genuinely confused and decided to speak for myself.
"What of this, then?" I said stiffly, holding up his school transcript. At this, Syaoran's eyes widened and he visibly paled.
Keijii coughed suddenly and his shoulders drooped forward as he fell back on the seat behind him. Rubbing his temples, with his back hunched over, he'd never looked so old before, so sick. "Why didn't you just tell us first?" he asked tiredly, his anger spent. There was grief laced into his voice, emotion that could not be masked. "Couldn't you at least talk to me?" He looked up, his eyes filling with tears. "I would have worked something out." He insisted, before overcome by another coughing fit. Syaoran rushed forward, his face taught with worry. He froze when Keijii held up a commanding hand. "It's too late though. We can't change our plans now."
"No, Syaoran. Now is the time for everything to come out in the open."
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"The fundamental things apply/As time goes by." - Herman Hupfeld
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Author Okay, so instead of adding a new chapter, I decided to extend this one instead (by about five pages.) It works better with what I have planned later on. Sorry for any inconveniences. Now that I've got this better planned out, I'll try to make faster updates. Longer ones as well.
And, yes. This story is loosely based on Waqt, the Race Against Time. I'll be incorporating a lot of my own ideas along with the main plot from the movie. If you're wondering why Syaoran's parents are making such a big deal about this (the engagement. I mean.)…I'm basing this on a rather traditional family, where the parents inquire about marriage. Here it is unacceptable for someone to get engaged without the consent of the parents (if there are any.)
Well, Sakura's here and looks like she's coping. Can't wait until…well, I'll leave that for you to find out.
I want to thank you all for your reviews. They mean a lot to me.