Author's notes: If you don't know of The Cherry Project a great page
to check out is: http://pqangels.com/cherryproject/

I've also written another Cherry Project fic called Silver Strings.
^^;; I would say it's a shameless self-plug but... ::shrug:: I didn't say
it was a _good_ fic. ::giggles:: It's a crossover with one of manga-
ka's Naoko Takeuchi's other manga, Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon. You can
check that out if you so desire, it gives a little more background.
It's here: http://www.crosswinds.net/~springlibrary/antigone.html

For TCP fans reference:

This takes place about two years after the Chieri and Tsuzuki started
skating together, and it actually places those years in between the
kiss and the final scene in New York City. I imagine there is a least a
long time frame between those scenes since the annoucer in New York
says something about them representing Japan in a championship.
The quotes about New York when Tsuzuki is talking to Cheri were adapted
from the last story in the mange, Dream Park de Mattete.

And btw, to all you New Yorkers who are going to write and tell me I
completely romanticized your city and its not like that, I know. ?
Right now I miss NYC so much that I feel like I'm allowed to
romanticize it a little. Besides, Naoko did. ^_^


Christmas Angels


A Cherry Project fanfiction/continuation
By Antigone

Part one: Wings

The jet plane rushed through the sun-washed clouds of the early
American morning, a flash of silver in the sky. The mountains and
plains of the nation below it was hidden by the billowy whiteness, but
two blue, wide eyes were still trained at the window in complete
amazement.

"Dad," the young teen whispered, hands pressed to the thick
glass, "that's Amerika down there!"

The older man beside her nodded, shifting the magazine in his
hands, "I know, Chieri-chan, I know."

"Cherry," a younger masculine voice added, "it's been 10 hours
already on the plane, you think you'd be sick it by now."

Twisting in her seat, the little blonde stuck her tongue out at
the thoughtful boy leaning on his crossed arms over the back of her
seat.

"Tsuzuki, it's just because you fly on planes like this all the
time," she complained, "it's not scary _or_ amazing to you."

His warm thin fingers threaded through hers before she could
blink, or glance toward her father, who was pretending to be very
interested indeed in the in-flight magazine.

"This one is different," the boy whispered.

"Why?" she whispered, even though she knew the answer.

"Because you are here. And we are going to New York City. New
York, Cherry!"

She smiled, "New York City. Your dream."

His hand pressed closer to hers.

"Half of it."
~~
Twelve hours before, the Tokyo airport was bustling with people,
chatter, coffee, books, magazines, passports and dreams. Chieri hardly
had time to take it all in. Her heart was pounding as hard as before
she went on the ice, her passport and ticket shaking in her head. This
was it. New York. Rockefeller Center. And her first time ever on an
airplane.

"Goodbye Cherry!" The soft material of Yuni's fleece jacket
engulfed the skinny girl as she laughed against her best friend's
shoulder.

"Yuni-chan!" Little hands pushed Yuni back a bit, "I'm only going
for a week!"

Beside her, the tall, slim Tsuzuki cracked a half-smile, "Hai,
Yuni-chan, we are just going to skate and fly home."

With a mock glare, Yuni turned to the famous Tsuzuki Masanori,
"Is that all you world-renowned figure skaters have time for? Be sure
you take time to see the sights! I mean, this is a once in a lifetime
chance!"

"I think you are thinking of the Olympics, Yuni-chan," lanky and
handsome Kouichi added, a lop-sided grin crossing his face.

"Um, that too," Yuni said, running a hand through her short, dark
hair, "but I'm talking about things that don't have to do with
skating!"

Blinking, Tsuzuki shrugged his black jacket over his
shoulders, "There are things besides skating?"

Chieri giggled, and Yuni rolled her eyes.

"Hey, good luck, man," Kouichi reached out and slapped Tsuzuki on
the shoulder, "skate your butts off guys!"

Sweat dropping they answered, "A-arigatou!"

"I'll be thinking of you," Hiroshi said, grinning. The
musician/composer/high-school student cocked a thumb at his blue and
white NY Yankees baseball cap.

"Cherry, you look so cute!" Yuni sighed, brushing some imaginary
lint off her friend's blue winter coat. Blonde hair was done up in
braids for convenience's sake, but with a blue snowflake patterned
scarf and a short white skirt, the effect was like someone had stolen a
snow angel from the display at Macy's.

Blushing, Chieri shook her head, turned to the figure at the
check-in point. The man turned, smiled at his daughter, and waved.

"Coming Dad!" She called, then turned back to her friends.

A chorus of good-byes and hugs circled the group, as Chieri, her
skating partner, and her father started placing their carry-ons on the
x-ray conveyer.

As they disappeared through the metal detectors, down to the
motorized walkway, Yuni sighed.

Looking at the two boys beside her, quiet, intelligent Hiroshi;
funny, sweet Kouichi, her brown eyes softened wistfully.

Taking their arms, causing the boys to jump, she smiled up at
them through strands of silky brown hair. "The Cherry Project
succeeded," she said softly.

"Yup," Kouichi, "I turned them into stars! With a little help
from you guys, of course." Yuni punched him lightly in the arm.

"Stars doesn't matter," she said sagely, "it's being in love that
changed them."

Kouichi slid green eyes to the girl beside him, then flicked them
back to watch the backs of the crowd that had swallowed the Asakas and
Tsuzuki. "Hai," he said, softly.

~~
"Cherry," a warm hand squeezed the sixteen-year-old's shoulder,
"are you okay?"

The pale-faced girl did not even turn around to look into the
beautiful, beautiful blue eyes she knew were watching her so lovingly,
so carefully.

"I'm scared," she whispered, eyes watching the planes taxi down
the runway through the window before them at the gate.

"Why?" he said softly, putting his chin lightly on her head,
hands clasping down across her waist, tightening to keep her from
trembling so much she fell over.

"I've never been on a plane before," her voice was wavery, weak.
Tsuzuki frowned, worry fluttering in his heart, this did not sound like
his Chieri, the incredibly strong girl who had wow'ed every adversary
with her skating talent, even when she thought everyone in the industry
was against her.

"It's not that bad," he said with equal softness, "I fly all the
time when my father takes me with on business." His voice took on a
sarcastic edge, "Trust me, the plane is the least painful part of those
trips."

She didn't answer, just reached up and squeezed his hand so hard
he almost winced.

"Mama died on a plane," her voice was almost not there, just air
across her lips.

"I know."

She shut her eyes, buried her face in his shoulder.

"I know." For a few moments they did not move, even though they
knew Chieri's father would be back soon with some coffee and muffins
for them.

"Cherry," he said into the soft wisps of blonde hair, her
shoulders were shaking.

"I miss her," she choked out, "I'm scared and I wish she was
here, but she's not because... because the plane she was on... because..."

"Chieri-chan," Asaka-san's voice sounded worried as he quickly
set down the food and started hurrying toward his little girl. He
stopped, though, when Tsuzuki's arms came tight around Chieri's thin
waist, pulling her close to him.

"In New York," he said softly, "the buildings tower over
everything. It's like Tokyo, but the buildings are older," he
murmured, "from the 20s, 30s, some of them. They have moldings along
the sides, flowers and swirls."

Chieri sighed, leaned her head on his shoulder, tears drying on
her face.

"The sidewalks glitter in the streetlamps and moonlight. There
is some sort of mica they use, everything sparkles, especially in the
winter when the air is clear."

"Tell me about the angels," she said, eyes shut.
Graceful hands stroked her hair.

"In a valley between two buildings, there is a place called
Rockefeller Center. In winter, there is a skating rink there, near a
golden statue, and at Christmas time there is a huge tree, lights like
little moonbeams. And there are angels, angels everywhere, in the
streets, surrounded by lights."

"I want to see it," she said, pulling away slightly.

He smiled warmly at her.
"We'll fly there together, Cherry," he said, "with our wings."

Asaka-san tilted his head slightly, brown eyes sad. Chieri
looked more like her mother every single day, and every single day she
was growing farther and farther away from him. One day he was the only
person she would skate with, in memory of his days as an Olympian
figure skater, and the next instant she was crashing into her hero:
singles skater Tsuzuki Masanori. And since that moment things had
never been the same.

She had grown wings, angel's wings. And they were beautiful, and
they were perfect, and she was using them to fly away from him.
~~

"Where are they now?" Yuni asked, leaning over the back of
Kouichi's desk chair as the computer screen's flickered to life.
Kouichi's house was huge, and filled with so much electronic
equipment that Yuni sometimes felt she was in a huge office building,
and not a home. But with both his parents overseeing the skating club
they owned, and his little sister Canty no doubt out buying the newest
fashions from Juuban's shopping district, Yuni realized she had never
felt more comfortable. Especially since Canty wasn't here in her
perfect sophisticated clothing to make Yuni's large white sweater and
leggings seems inferior. No, she really didn't like Kouichi's little
sister. But she liked him.

"Just a sec," Kouichi replied to her question, typing rapidly
into the keyboard, "They are flight JAL 234 and... they landed about an
hour ago."

"What time is there?" Yuni said, leaning closer, a few strands of
her dark hair mixing with Kouichi's long blonde ponytail.

A few more keys clicked.

"4 am."

"Wow! Jet-lag city!" Yuni exclaimed, falling backward onto the
black leather sofa.

He turned, and smiled, "Anything else, miss?" Long fingers poised
themselves over the keys.

She blinked, "Hmm... not now, thanks. You have so many computers
and stuff Kouichi. What do you _do_ with them all?"

"Well, this is where we found out about Chieri."

"Huh?" she sat up, confusion in her brown eyes.

"Yeah," he said, clicking some keys, "we had a data base of all
potential pair skaters for Tsuzuki. And her name came up. Of course,
fate might have had a hand in the fact that they ran into each other-
literally- at the rink."

"You mean- Tsuzuki-san intended to skate with her from the
start?!"

"Hai, that was his plan."

"But-but he let her go into singles skating! Why?! Why didn't
he just tell he-"

"Because," Kouichi interrupted, "she wanted to single skate, to
prove herself."

"And he just let her go off by herself?!"

"Hai," Kouichi's face had a sad little half-smile across it as
the colors from the screen showed little Asaka Chieri skating with her
father at the city's rink, "because he loved her."

"Kouichi-san," Yuni murmured to herself, mouth slightly open and
eyes focused on his profile.

He turned and smiled at her, eyes slowly clearing.
"So, what can we expect of their costumes for this special
American Christmas Show at Rockefeller Center?"

Yuni grinned, "Perfection of course!"

"Modest, aren't we?"

A small leather pillow hit the 16-year-old boy in the face, and
as an irritated Kouichi lifted it to retaliate, he found the sound of
Yuni's bubbling laughter erasing any annoyance at all.

~~

"This is amazing," Chieri breathed, white clouds billowing from
her lips. She pressed her palms against the cool metal of the balcony
outside Tsuzuki's presidential suite room at the hotel. The city
spread before her, glittering and pulsing in the night like a gem come
to life.

Sighing, Tsuzuki dropped an extra winter jacket around the
blonde's shoulders, "Cherry, it's freezing."

She tugged to jacket closer to her shoulders and watched as her
boyfriend's face softened as he looked at the lights below him. Poker-
faced as always, she thought, reaching up with numb fingers to brush a
lock of soft hair away from his forehead.
"Then warm me up," she whispered.

~~

The door closed behind Canty with a resounding bang, causing the
girl to jump a little. "It's cold outside," she murmured to herself,
shaking out her perfect hair, "it might snow." Smiling slightly, she
let herself remember how much she and her brother had waited for the
first frost, the first snowfall when they were small.

To her the crisp air of winter had meant everything wonderful:
snow, sledding, ice-skating... Tsuzuki Masanori. Eye-lids lowered
slightly, dark lashes smudging against porcelain cheeks. She couldn't
remember when she fell in love with him. It was long before anyone
thought it possible for a little girl to be in love. Hiroshi and
Kouichi would be laughing, throwing snowballs, and Tsuzuki would be
watching them, smiling slightly. Then he'd turn to her.

"Canty," his young eyes were always so subdued. Looking back,
she realized that he had been burdened already, with his father's ill
attempts at raising him alone, with his expected future running a huge
corporation. And with the amazing fame that ice-skating, his one love,
had betrayed him with.

"Hai?" So happy when he noticed her. Heart- pounding. Her
brother's best friend, the love of her life. So grown up for a little
boy, that was when she promised she would grow up too. They could be
adult little children together, and love like the grown-ups in movies.

"Want to ice-skate?"

It was what he always asked her, was what he loved, what she was famous for. And she
always said yes, yes I'll skate with you, meaning so much more than he ever heard.
They were always skating, on the same ice but never together. She became what she
wanted, a child-adult at eight years old, but no matter how much she matured, she
could never reach him.

Her jacket hung heavy from her thin fingers.

After all, he had the angel's wings. And Asaka-san must have had
wings that matched his. And she was left alone, too grown up for girls her own age,
too isolated to meet someone new. Only Kouichi said he could see the wings on his
little sister's shoulders. He was all she had.

"Oniisan?" she called, walking into the main living room.
Her brother lay fast asleep on the sofa, sandy-colored hair
falling across the shoulder of Nishimura Yuni, who was curled by his
side. One of Tsuzuki and Chieri's tapes whirred in the VCR, the only
other sound the slumbering teen's breathing.

The jacket fluttered from her hand, pooling on the floor where
the housekeeper would find it long after Canty fled the Akiyama house.
~~

Asaka-san sighed as he pushed the suitcases, his and Chieri's,
deeper into the mirror-lined closet. The hotel room was small, two
beds, a bathroom, and a beautiful view of the city, which was, like
him, caught between restless sleep and restless wake.
Walking to the window, he leaned his arm on the window pane and
tried to forget that his only daughter was at the moment five stories
above him alone in a huge hotel room with her boyfriend. He knew he
should trust her enough to allow Tsuzuki-san to show her the view from
the balcony, but he remembered being young, too.

Sighing, he shut his eyes against the city Christmas lights. He
remembered. The Olympics were when he was seventeen and twenty-one,
but if he had to chose a best memory the gold metal wouldn't be it.
And while he knew Chieri had a shot at the same glory, he knew
something much more important would change her heart forever, something
that might be glowing behind Tsuzuki Masanori's youthful eyes.

"Sakura," he whispered, "I wish you could see how she's grown."
Angels danced below him, lining the streets of fifth avenue,
blurring through his watery eyes.

"She looks just like an angel."
Wind fluttered the man's thinning hair and he smiled into the
cool city air.

"She looks like you."
~~

Stars glistened in the sky, dawn bloomed over the city buildings,
and Chieri slept, curled on the bed, her father's snoring blending with
the morning city sounds.

From the balcony far above the girl, a young man watched the sun
rise, his thoughts filled with her, and only her.


Please email me, guys! antigone@lunap.com. I promise I'll
finish this by Xmas. ^^ hee hee.