Heyla Minna-san! ^^ Here's chapter 4 of "Alone in the Woods". If you guys are having trouble with the big words, (like 'altruistic', which means to worry about others before yourself) then I won't use so many of them anymore. Gomen if they caused you any trouble, but I was just trying to use different words than the same ones over and over again. Anyway, I hope everyone is enjoying their summer! ^.^
THIS CHAPTER: It seems everyone figured out who the person lurking in the woods is (I think the red light gave it away). That's okay though, I was expecting a lot of people to figure it out (not that it was hard ^^). But if Tomoyo is here now, is she the only one? Or could there still be something out there? Guess you'll have to find out. ^.^
R&R please! Reviews help greatly! Arigato! ~Manda-chan
Disclaimer: Nothing in CCS belongs to me, only the plot and events of the story.
Arigatos: I'd like to thank ashley-chan, obiwankatie, Shirono, Jena-su Aquilla, ~*~Starlight Princess~*~, Emiri-chan, ^^, Otaku_Romance, Coral Meeden, Touya-chan, Katie Marie, michelle, Leeman, suppi-chan, SakuraAyanami, Mizzkitty9886, April, Yuki Akuma, DoubleOevin~*, Kyla, Geo, Jurei-chan, ~My Melody~, KC's Crush, E.B., Death, Gia, UnicornHime, Stars from Above, Scented Jade, Marie, andres, Anny, ~Snowflake Angel~, Angeljay, Angel, ~Cutie Blossom~, ying zero, devil, Prodigina, Amanda, Volcan of Dragonfire, ~Sakura Blossom~, and spinel_sun for reviewing chapter 3!! ^.^
Dedication: This chapter is dedicated to all the reviewers (especially S+S fans, 'cause there's something 'Special' in this chapter ^^)! Arigato to you all! You keep me writing and feeling good about my writing and I thank you ALL deeply and sincerely for that (I've never had a lot of self-confidence ^^;).
Alone in the Woods Chapter 4: A Simple Favor for the Savior
The teen Card Captors wasted away the entire morning just lounging around. The outdoors were nice enough, but they weren't very lively or exciting.
"I'm sooooooooooooooooo bored." Sakura whined, laying her back on the grass.
Syaoran was leaning against his favorite tree, looking out at the rushing river. "We could take a walk or something if you want." he suggested.
"Sounds like more fun than just laying here." she decided, carefully lifting herself up of the grassy earth, so as not to upset her injured leg.
He too got up and headed over to where she stood. "Anyplace in particular you want to go?"
She shook her head. "Not really. We could just explore the area or something, unless there's someplace you want to go."
"Nah. We'll just go look around."
"Okay." Sakura stepped a few feet, but winced from the slight pain that still inhabited her right leg.
Syaoran held out his hand to her. "Here. Hold my hand so you don't fall." he instructed, "And if your wound starts acting up, let me know and we'll go back."
She nodded with a smile, slowly taking hold of his waiting hand. "Arigato." she spoke softly, a shy blush painting her cheeks.
And so they headed off into the woods together, hand in hand.
A figure sat perched in a tree, silently watching as the Card Capting duo walked deeper into the forest. It chuckled to itself, making some strange movements with its hands, then it disappeared without a trace.
"Aren't these maple trees pretty, Syaoran-kun?" Sakura asked, pointing above her.
He looked up through the treetops. "Not as pretty as the Cherry blossoms in spring." 'Or anywhere near as pretty as the one I'm with right now.' he added mentally with a slight blush.
"You're right about that." Sakura agreed, "I just love seeing the Cherry trees bloom in spring."
A weird sound (almost like a snap) rang through the trees, startling the young sorceress and warrior.
All too suddenly, the branches of one of the maples came alive, snatching the lithe Mistress right from where she stood and carrying her up into the tree.
It all happened too quickly for Syaoran to be able to prevent anything, and he lost his protective clasp over her slender hand. But that wouldn't discourage him. With an amazing leap up to the first branch, he immediately began to climb the tree, in hopes of bringing back the lovely female Card Captor.
Syaoran stopped on his current branch and narrowed his eyes. There was definitely something odd about this whole situation. Since when did trees have a mind of their own? He closed his eyes in concentration for a moment, taking in the surroundings. And that's when he felt it.
Magic. The tree was under the influence of a spell. But who was out here with them? Were they being watched by someone? Or was it even a person?
"AAIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEE!" Sakura screeched from somewhere up above.
Turning his attention back to his purpose, Syaoran leapt up to the next branch, following the voice of the cherry blossom higher and higher through the thick foliage of branches and leaves.
When at last he reached the crown of the tall maple, Sakura was no where in sight.
He looked around. "Nani?"
"Up here, Syaoran!" came an all too familiar voice from above.
He looked up, and sure enough, there was Kinomoto Sakura dangling in the air. She was suspended above the tree by a few long branches tightly snaked around her body, making it almost impossible for her to move.
Syaoran just stared up at her and the limbs for awhile, trying to decipher a plan or a way to get her down. After a few seconds he didn't really have a breakthrough, but he at least had an idea. "Sakura, are you alright up there?"
She struggled against the vine-like branches but was unable to free herself from their possessive clutch. "I'm okay, but I can't move. And it's got my leg!"
"Hold still, Sakura! I'm coming up!" Syaoran announced.
He released his sword from the pendant around his neck and began to steadily climb one of the branches as if it were a rope, being extra cautious not to accidentally chop it off with his steel blade.
Finally reaching to just below Sakura's feet, he took the sword and gently cut through the leafy branch that entwined around her ankle. It shriveled and fell off, plummeting toward the ground.
'That is some POWERFUL magic.' Syaoran thought, 'I'd better be careful, at least for Sakura's sake.'
The Li Clan's future leader took another swipe with his trusty blade, slicing through another limb that had taken hold of his beloved. It followed suit of the other dead branch and fell to the ground in a shriveled, decaying mess.
Syaoran was about to slash another limb, but was halted before he could complete the swing. Another one of the branches had seraped around his wrist, restraining any further movements of his right arm. He looked down below and spied a few more limbs coming up from the top of the tree. He quickly tried to free the captive arm with his other hand, ripping at the thin bark of limb in an attempt to get it to release him.
But there wasn't enough time.
Before he could free his wrist from the clutches of the animate limb, the other branches aided it, restraining the young warrior completely.
Sakura watched as Syaoran struggled relentlessly against the power of the vines, but without much luck. "Syaoran, what do we do now?" she questioned, hoping that he had come up with a few ideas.
Syaoran sighed. "I don't know."
But his spirits were revived at a sudden thought. 'Her legs are free!'
"Sakura!" he shouted, "Try to free yourself! Use your legs!"
Sakura blinked. "My legs?"
She looked down and noticed that her legs had been disjointed from the branches and were hanging freely. "Okay, but how am I supposed to free myself with just my legs?" she wondered aloud.
'I guess that wasn't such a wise idea.' he thought, a sweat-drop forming on his head.
"Nevermind, forget I said that. Let me see if I can get my arms free, then I think I have an idea!"
Sakura nodded and waited patiently as he tried to rip his arms and hands from the tight grasp of the limbs. Wriggling free seemed impossible, so she wondered exactly what he had planned for this.
Syaoran realized that his neck and head were free, so did the only thing he could think of. Taking a deep breath, he swung his head to the side and bit the branch as hard as he could.
To the Card Captors' astonishment, the limb let go of his right arm completely and began to flail and writhe in some weird sort of pain.
Syaoran smirked. "Bingo!"
With three quick slices of his sword, his entire body was freed from the viney prison. He let himself fall from his current altitude, and landed below on one of the top branches of the tree.
"Sakura! This is the crucial part of my plan!" he explained, "I need to stay perfectly STILL, you got that?"
Sakura nodded slowly. "Yeah, but what for?"
"Just don't move an inch!"
Syaoran grabbed an ofuda and threw it in the air. "GOD OF FIRE, DESCEND!" he commanded.
Right as the ofuda touched the blade, a stable stream of fire roared out from it, traveling up the branch that held the Card Mistress captive.
Sakura panicked. "Syaoran! THIS is your plan?!"
"Just stay still, Sakura!" he ordered, "I've got it under control!"
The fire set the branch aflame instantly, breaking it apart near the bottom of her feet. Sakura, still wrapped up in the branches above, began to plunge down from her height, screaming all the way.
Syaoran acted swiftly, pulling out another ofuda. "GOD OF WIND, DESCEND!" he ordered.
The wind came forth from his sword and rapidly left to retrieve the distressed Sakura before she reached the ground. In the meantime, Syaoran leapt down from the treetop, promptly making his way to the bottom.
When at last he reached the base of the tree, he was relieved to find that Sakura was okay, but just a little...tied up.
"Uh...need some help?" he asked, sweat-dropping.
"Get them off!" Sakura whined, rolling around on the ground.
Syaoran's sweat-drop grew a bit larger. "How am I supposed to get them off of you when you're pattering around like that?"
She ceased her wild frolicking. "G-Gomen. Onegai, just get them off of me!"
Syaoran gently swiped his metal blade across the top of the closest vine, detaching it from around her form. It fell off to the side, smoldering before it finally turned to black ash. The young warrior finished releasing his cherry blossom and helped her up of the forest floor.
He gave her a half-smile. "Well, you don't see that everyday."
Sakura shuddered. "What WAS that?"
Syaoran glanced at the tree. "It's pretty normal looking now, but it had some sort of magic cast upon it."
Sakura blinked. "Magic? But I didn't feel anything."
"You can't sense it unless you're fully focused on it." Syaoran explained, "I didn't notice it right away either."
"Familiar or Unfamiliar?" Sakura questioned.
Syaoran looked over to the tree again. "That's what's odd. I recognize that type of magic, but I can't remember from where."
Sakura turned to the tree and closed her eyes, focusing all of her thoughts on it. It was stained with blue, most likely by someone with a blue aura.
"It's blue." she reported, opening her eyes.
Syaoran nodded. "Yeah, that's what I felt too. Who do you suppose could have done it?"
Sakura stopped and thought for a moment. "Well, I only know of one person with a blue aura."
"And that would be?"
"My Ni-chan. Demo...he can only sense ghosts and things, I don't think he's capable of this high-power magic."
Syaoran grimaced. "You never know. He really hates me, so maybe he decided to pull something like this, but just never told you that he learned the magic."
Sakura shook her head. "No. Ni-chan would never harm me, Syaoran. And he doesn't hate you THAT much."
"Oh yes he does!" Syaoran countered, "Do you remember the 'shovel incident'?"
Sakura chuckled. "That was kind of funny."
"Maybe for you it was, but I was getting packed and pounded into a snowbank!" he argued, "And just because I rang your doorbell! He didn't give me time to say anything at all! He just chucked my into the snow and started pounding me down with your dad's metal shovel!"
Sakura waved him off. "Oh, you were fine. I pulled you out of the snowbank and treated the bump on your head for you. I even made you a cup of cocoa while you warmed up."
He flushed at the recollection. "Yeah, arigato. DEMO, that proves just how much your brother hates me!"
"Let's just go back to camp." Sakura suggested, not wishing to continue the argument any longer, "I think I've seen enough trees for awhile. And I'm getting sort of hungry too."
He sighed and took her hand in his, leading her out of the woods. "I'll keep my magic senses more alert this time." he vowed.
They made it safely out of the forest, though they were both thoroughly wiped out from their earlier fiasco with the maple tree.
"Does ramen sound okay for tonight?" Syaoran questioned, pulling two out from his backpack.
Sakura nodded in assurance. "Hai, that sounds good. Arigato."
The young Li Clan sorcerer made his way to the small circle of rocks and began striking shale pieces together over a pile of dead leaves and pine needles. However, unlike the night before, he couldn't get the rocks to light a spark.
"Kuso!" he cursed, accidentally jamming one of the sharp rocks along the side of his hand.
The slice started to bleed, but he ignored it for the time being. Instead of tending to his small injury, he snatched an ofuda from his pocket and lit the fire with it.
After placing the ramen to cook, he joined Sakura, who was sitting near the fire. She seemed lost in thought, so he tapped her shoulder. "Hey."
She blinked and turned to look at him. "Nani?"
"I got the ramen started."
"Oh, okay. Arigato again, for everything you did today."
He smiled sweetly. "No problem at all, Sakura. You'll never be a problem."
She flushed weakly, lowering her head. "I just feel like I'm such a burden to you." she spoke, discouraged, "You've already saved my life twice while we've been out here. I-I guess I feel like I owe you at least SOMETHING."
Syaoran's cheeks flushed and he raised his eyebrows. "Could you do me a very small favor?"
She grabbed his hands. "ANYTHING."
"Then could you-"
"Hold on! You hurt yourself, Syaoran!" Sakura exclaimed, "Wait here for a second, I'll be right back."
Sakura dashed to her knapsack and pulled out a small pink case from the front pocket. Then she quickly returned to where she was seated before and opened up the case. "I always carry this with me." she explained, pulling out a cloth and some clear liquid, "It's no good for large wounds, but it's perfect for the smaller ones."
"But this little knick is harmless." Syaoran argued.
She waved her finger back and forth reprimandingly. "Even the tiniest scratch could get infected, especially out here in this forest." she disputed.
Syaoran sighed and she took his hand and dabbed the cloth over it, removing the excess blood from the surface. Then she took the clear liquid and spattered it on the cloth, carefully caressing it across the wound. "That will keep it from getting infected." she informed, putting the watery substance away and pulling out a little container of gel, "And this stuff may sting a tiny bit, but it'll help your scrape heal."
She cautiously rubbed the gel over the cut, noting by his facial expression that it stung slightly. "Now I'll bandage it and you'll be all set." she said, taking some gauze-like cloth out of the pink case.
She tied it almost expertly around the area between his thumb and index finger, making sure that it was tight enough and that it would hold. When she was finished, she put the rest of the gauze back in the case and dusted her hands approvingly. "There, all done. Does it feel better?"
He tightened his hand into a fist and was amazed that he didn't feel even a tiny jolt of pain. His face reddened and he replied, "Hai, feels like new. Domo arigato, Sakura." 'She's really good at this kind of thing.' he thought, examining his hand.
Sakura smiled. "You're welcome. Now, you had some sort of favor you wanted from me, ne?"
His face turned crimson. "H-Hai, could you...uh...close your eyes?" he requested.
She raised a skeptic eyebrow. "What for?"
He smiled affectionately. "Please, Sakura?"
"Alright." she answered with a sigh, obediently closing her evergreen eyes, "I don't see how this is a favor but-"
Her speech was suddenly cut off as his lips claimed hers in a tender, yet fiery kiss. It took a moment for Sakura to realize what was happening, but when she did, she was shocked. Her eyes snapped open and broadened to the size of saucers. 'THIS is his favor?!' she thought, her heart soaring to the clouds, 'He wanted to kiss me?'
As if to reply to her silent inquisitions, he deepened the kiss and enveloped his arms around her waist, holding her closer to himself.
Sakura still had her eyes open wide in shock, unable to believe that this was really happening. 'Could this mean...? Syaoran doesn't feel THAT way about me, does he?'
Finally realizing that she'd been too stunned to return the gesture, Sakura leaned forward, kissing him back.
When at last the amorous liplock was broken, each managed a smile to the other. Sakura flushed almost magenta, still feeling his warmth upon her lips. "That was the favor you wanted?" she inticed, her voice small and soft.
He nodded with a blush of his own. "Hai. I-I hope you aren't angry or anything." he stuttered, "I know I should have asked you first."
"I'm not angry, not at all." she assured.
She cocked her head to the side with a cute smile. "Of course not, Syaoran."
He flushed beet red from head to toe. "R-Really?" he stammered.
"Hai." she confirmed. "Demo...I have a request, Syaoran..." Sakura started.
She faced the ground, avoiding eye contact with his amber pools. "I know it's not my place to be asking you favors, but...would you kiss me again?"
He lifted her chin, forcing her eyes to meet his. "I was about to ask you the same thing."
Their eyes closed and faces inched towards the other, closer and closer and closer and-
Syaoran growled and let go of Sakura, abruptly jumping to his feet and facing a flock of trees. "I KNOW I heard something out there." he hissed, scanning his glare over the area. "COME OUT AND FACE ME, YOU COWARD!!!" he demanded, releasing his sword from the sacred pendant around his neck.
Sakura looked at him and blinked in confusion. "Syaoran? Nanda?"
He kept surveying the surroundings suspiciously. "I'm not sure, but there was definitely something out there." he confirmed, "I heard it scream something and then run away."
Sakura shuddered involuntarily. "I-I-Is it a g-g-ghost?" she choked.
Syaoran shook his head regretfully. "I really couldn't tell you, Sakura. I doubt it was really a ghost though."
She instinctively wrapped her arms around her shoulders, trembling violently. "Maybe...Maybe we shouldn't have come out here, Syaoran." she near sobbed.
"Nonsense, Sakura. IF there's something out there, I'll take care of it."
Behind Syaoran and Sakura's backs, a wispy blue apparition floated out from the forest, bobbing toward Sakura's shivering form. Still unnoticed by the duo, it drifted silently through the air, coming to a rest directly behind the frightened Mistress of the Clow Cards.
"Brrr...the wind is cold." Sakura thought, shivering.
The ghostly figure reached and icy hand forward, placing it on Sakura's bare neck. She immediately felt the ice-cold chill, and stifled a scream just long enough to turn around and see the bluish specter give her an evil grin.
The apparition looked like a young man, but his face was shredded, clothes ripped, and deep gouges lined his arms. He looked like a ghost from some sort of horror movie.
Sakura's mouth was agape in pure fear, but words failed to leave her throat, leaving her scared stiff. The spirit brushed a faded, torn up hand across her face and that was about as much as the young female Card Captor could take.
"H-H-H-HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!" Sakura shrieked in pure terror (a sound that could probably be heard for miles...).
Syaoran whirled around, ready to battle whatever dared to hurt his cherry blossom. However, the sight that greeted him made him blink in disbelief. 'Is that...?' He looked closer. 'Can that thing really be a ghost?!'
Shaking the ridiculous thoughts from his head, he charged forward at full speed, ready to dice whatever it was to pieces. As he swung the blade down upon the blue being, the flashy steel went right through it.
Syaoran blinked, thoroughly perplexed. 'It's a REAL ghost?'
A blue-haired figure fell from the branch he was sitting on, roaring with laughter. He landed below with a soft thump, still chuckling lightly to himself.
"Alright, Eriol-kun. That's enough."
Eriol got to his feet and faced the direction from where he heard the voice. There stood Tomoyo Daidouji, camera in hand, frowning at the British boy.
"I was just having a little fun, Tomoyo-san." he replied, adjusting his glasses.
Tomoyo placed her hands on her hips. "Well your 'fun' sent my precious Sakura-chan into a fit of hysterics!" she complained. She pointed in the general vicinity of where Sakura's screams could still be clearly heard. "Go stop that nonsense NOW, Eriol-kun." she ordered, "And no more tricks on them!"
Eriol's face fell. "AWW! But it's so much fun, Tomoyo-san! And the magic ghost is completely harmless!"
Tomoyo glared at him. "And what about the tree?" she questioned.
Eriol sweat-dropped. "It was so perfect though! I couldn't pass up a chance like that."
Tomoyo sighed, allowing a small smile to cross her features. "You're impossible, Eriol-kun."
"And evil." he added with a grin, "Don't forget evil."
Tomoyo waved him off. "Just go and get rid of the ghost."
"No problem." Eriol snapped his fingers. "It's gone."
Tomoyo sighed again, shaking her head. "I still don't know why I bothered bringing you along."
Eriol smirked. "You know how upset I would have been if you left me in England only after one day's visit. And you know how much I hate to be left out of the fun."
"I suppose." Tomoyo said casually, "I guess I need you for the plan to work out."
Eriol smiled. "Ah yes, tell me of your brilliant plan, Tomoyo-san."
"Quite simple." Tomoyo replied, "First of all, I had to explain to Sakura-chan that I wouldn't be able to go camping with her like we had planned. So I told her that I already promised to visit you in England."
Eriol rolled his eyes. "That was a pleasant one-day visit." he cut in.
"Anyway," Tomoyo continued, ignoring his comment, "I had to contact Rika, Chiharu, and Naoko, and request that they turn down Sakura-chan's offer to go camping."
"What did you have to do for them to agree?"
Tomoyo smiled brightly. "Just mention that it had to do with Sakura-chan and Li-kun. Then they happily agreed."
"Knowing you, Tomoyo-san, I thought you would've bribed them with money."
"No need." Tomoyo explained, "Money is a last resort."
"And how did you manage to bribe Li-kun into your plan?" Eriol asked curiously.
"No bribe was needed for that. I knew Sakura-chan would turn to him as her last hope, and I knew that Li-kun wouldn't turn her down."
Eriol raised and eyebrow. "How so? I've known my dear descendant to be a chicken when it comes to Sakura-san."
Tomoyo shook her head. "He may stutter, stammer, and turn beet red, but he's head over heels for her. I can tell. And I knew there was no way he would turn down the chance to be alone with Sakura-chan, ever."
Eriol fiddled with his glasses. "You're very informed, Tomoyo-san. So, how did the rest of it work out?"
Tomoyo went into her 'starry eyes' mode. "I could never miss the opportunity to film my kawaii Sakura-chan, so I came back from England immediately. As it was, I missed almost an ENTIRE DAY of Sakura-chan and Li-kun together!" Her eyes returned to their normal luster. "Demo...Li-kun is definitely catching on to me."
Eriol sweat-dropped. "Maybe because you were taping Sakura-chan in her sleep, therefore the light on your camera could be seen. And besides that, you shouted 'Kawaii' loud enough for the world to hear."
Tomoyo clasped her hands in front of her. "But it was SO kawaii!" she slurred, "The two of them sharing such a kawaii kiss! And I got it on tape!"
"I may never understand the way your mind works, Tomoyo-san." Eriol muttered, shaking his head back and forth.
Syaoran tried to shake the stupid thoughts from his mind. 'Ghosts aren't magical.' he reasoned with himself, sensing the phantom's aura, 'So it can't be a real ghost.'
He raised his sword and charged at the specter-like magical being again, preparing to slash it down the middle. Just before his sword came in contact with the apparition, it vanished into thin air.
Syaoran blinked twice. "It's gone."
He looked around the area, picking up traces of a familiar blue aura. As he was contemplating where it came from, two slim arms glomped his right leg.
He gazed downward, only to meet the teary emerald eyes of his heart's desire. "Are you okay, Sakura?"
She nodded languidly, shutting her eyes tightly. "I'm so scared." she sobbed.
The young warrior bent down and enveloped his arms around her trembling form. "Daijoubu, Sakura." he assured, "It wasn't a real ghost."
She blinked back a fresh wave of tears and pulled back from him to meet his amber eyes. "It wasn't?"
"It was created by magic." Syaoran explained, "By the same person who cast magic upon the maple tree."
Sakura leaned her head against his shoulder. "Arigato for protecting me, Syaoran."
He held her closer to himself. "You know I won't let anything hurt you."
He peered out toward where he had heard the strangely familiar voice. He furrowed his dark eyebrows. 'Whoever you are, you're going to regret your little tricks. And you're going to pay for atogonizing Sakura.' he vowed.
That's the end of chapter four, Minna-san! Sorry that it took so long for me to get this out. It gets really hot in this room in the summer and it's hard to spend a lot of time in here writing. Demo, I'm still surviving, at least for now. I need some motivation though. I'm gonna die in this room...
Arigato for reading! ^.^ Spare a review, ONEGAI (please)!!! I'll try to write when I can, so please be patient! Thanks again for your time! ~Manda-chan