One year

Chapter four: Helping

Disclaimer: I do not own Tsubasa or any of the characters affiliated with said story... Affiliated... hehe big word

Side note: I now know I do not act my age at all... I am 19 and I act like I am 5... isn't great?

OK... on with the serious story thing... while listening to the crazy frog soundtrack... peppy typing music...

By the way, I hope you peoples appreciate this fic... its hard to do what I did... Kurogane's Tomoyo is called Tomoyo-hime and Piffle Tomoyo is just Tomoyo, so please don't get confused!

Soma stood at attendance as Tomoyo-hime sat in her rooms and ate her breakfast. The young woman was almost three years older than when her greatest shinobi was sent away and all the more beautiful for that time. A deep sadness around her eyes enhanced her regal bearing and made her look like a tragic heroine from a Noh play. Soma held back a soft sigh as she watched her princess leafing through a large dusty tome of ancient magics. In the past years Soma watched Tomoyo go from a cheerful girl to a somber woman with a need for secrecy. Her thoughts were interrupted as Tomoyo voiced her thoughts out loud.

"Soma-san, come look at this spell. You might find it useful." Tomoyo-hime's fingers drifted to her hair absently, fingering the short locks without thinking. Just another thing that had changed in the time Kurogane had been gone. Soma shifted uncomfortably and bit her lip sadly. "It is a spell that keeps everyone from hearing you. I think it would be very useful for a ninja, wouldn't you Soma-san?"

Soma stood up straighter. "With all do respect, Tomoyo-hime, it would cause more harm than helping." At Tomoyo-hime's questioning look, she continued. "As a ninja, we are best known for strict discipline and rigorous training that allows us to reach this level of skill. If one was to have this spell, it would encourage one to rely on it completely and if that spell failed, there would be no skill to fall back on."

Tomoyo-hime considered this quietly. "I believe you are right, Soma-san." She went back to her studies, periodically writing on a piece of paper beside her. For a time, silence reigned in the small room. It had gotten so quiet in the room, Soma almost jumped when Tomoyo-hime spoke again.

"I wonder, Soma-san, if it's possible to contact my other self through her dreams." Tomoyo-hime mused out loud, doodling on her paper. Absently she turned the page and copied down a spell. "This one could be of great use to me."

Soma cast a quick glance at the page from her place by the table. The spell was written in a deep red; the color sent shivers down her spine. The words were written in some strange language and Tomoyo-hime's notes were written in English as usual. Deep inside her heart, Soma felt a great fear awaken.

"Hime-sama! These magics aren't safe at all!" Soma cried out. "You must stop this."

"My, my, Soma-san. You are becoming more and more like Kurogane every day." Tomoyo-hime chuckled softly. "So outspoken these days. What would your trainees think?"

Soma ground her teeth together. "Pardon, Hime-sama, but someone needs to tell you when you've gone too far and has to be here to help pull you back."

Tomoyo-hime's smile faded from her face. "You really do want to protect me, don't you?"

Soma knelt on the floor. "Always, till the stars flee the sky, Hime-sama."

"Send in my handmaids. I shall spend the day in court, listening to appeals." Tomoyo-hime dismissed Soma with a wave and a gentle smile.

The spell to enter the dreams of a familiar person was difficult to cast. To enter the dreams of an unknown person was nearer impossible. After chanting the spell to enter the realm of dreams, Tomoyo-hime looked around her for anything familiar.

All around her was a world of swirling mists and half seen things. It was in here where the greatest power for magic lay. Slowly she let her eyes close and turned her senses towards the traces of powers crossing between the worlds. One particular thread glowed the brightest, a thread made of five strands woven into one cord. The path was indefinite, wandering between worlds at random and lighting for only a short amount of time anywhere. The next destination was a technologically advanced world, home to a country called Piffle.

Tomoyo-hime opened her eyes with a sigh. With a few whispered words, she formed spell on the tip of one finger. "I need to find the Tomoyo of the world called Piffle." With that, the spell darted off into the mists, lighting a path to follow. Tomoyo chased after it into the mists, praying for the spell to find the target.

After a short time, the spell stopped bouncing through the mists and came to rest a little ahead of her. It hung above a smooth orb that absorbed all light from the small spell and reflected none back. As she came closer, Tomoyo-hime saw a young woman curled up in a bubble of a dream. Placing a hand on the smooth surface, she mouthed the incantation she had found that morning.

The dream opened up to her like a door, enveloping her in the imagined reality within. Tomoyo-hime stood on the glassy surface of a black lake. Her shorthaired reflection stared back at her silently. She was still dressed in her nightclothes and her wig wasn't on. She shook her head at her own appearance and focused her will to change her clothing into a more proper outfit. Her garments changed to her royal robes and her hair grew out to the original length. When she was finished, the reflection was better dressed but no happier for it. A soft sound behind her shook her from her trance.

Across the lake, a dark haired young woman was dancing on the water. Her movements were graceful and easy, never faltering or falling foul of her partner's. He was tall and dark, with a strong lanky frame. All across the water they danced, matching stride and pace perfectly. They circled as if nothing else could ever matter anymore than this dance, than this minute together. At the end, he slipped gracefully onto one knee before her.

Tomoyo-hime cleared her throat gently to get her attention. The woman gasped in shock and her partner disappeared into the darkness all around. Tomoyo-hime chuckled softly. The other woman walked cautiously up to Tomoyo-hime. Her eyes widened when she saw Tomoyo-hime's face.

"Who are you?" Tomoyo of Piffle breathed softly.

Tomoyo-hime answered directly. "I am the crown princess of Japan, Tomoyo. I am pleased to meet you, Daitoji Tomoyo-san." She bowed a little, keeping her eyes on Tomoyo's face.

Her amazement was not diminished by the fact she knew about multiple dimensions and the fact people were often in more than one world, in more than one form. The other Tomoyo was exactly like Tomoyo-hime, from the length of her night black hair to her large dark eyes. She even managed to look bewildered with the same expression as the princess. Her nose wrinkled as she tried to make sense of what she had been told.

"But that's my name too..." Tomoyo murmured, glancing down at the dark water. Their reflections stared back like twins, alike as two halves. "We look just alike."

Tomoyo-hime reached out and took the other's hands. "We are just alike, Daitoji-san. We share the same soul, but in different worlds and times."

"But how?" Tomoyo pleaded. "What do you mean?"

"The world you know is just a layer in the universe, a part of many parts. There are many, many different dimensions and many different versions of the same person." Tomoyo-hime's face darkened. "But they are not always the same on the inside."

Tomoyo leaned over to look at the other's face. "What's the matter?"

Tomoyo-hime shook her head and smiled. "Nothing, nothing. Tell me, who were you dancing with before?"

Tomoyo hid her face as she blushed a brilliant shade of red. Mentally, Tomoyo-hime wondered if she looked as awkward when she blushed. "Ano... To tell you the truth, I don't know who he is. I haven't even seen him in real life. Only dreams." She sighed. "But I do know he is very important and dear to me. He is very tall with black hair, and red eyes." She blushed again, glancing at Tomoyo-hime. "It sounds so silly, doesn't it?"

Tomoyo-hime's smile was understanding. "I am sure he will be wonderful." The smile faded from her face. "There is someone I care about very much as well. But he is in trouble and will need help soon." She stared straight into Tomoyo's eyes. "Can you help me help him, Tomoyo of Piffle?"

"How can I help?" Tomoyo gasped her eyes wide.

"Just listen and I will explain." Tomoyo-hime promised. She told Tomoyo everything she knew about Fai, Sakura, Syaoran, and the feathers, telling her about the journey, where they had been and what they had seen. Then she spoke of Kurogane. She told of all his triumphs and victories. She told of his prowess in battle and his skills with swords. Finally, with a frown, she spoke of his tendency to shed blood.

"He is strong, but ruthless. Nothing in the universe will stop him in his goals. Not even the loss of a life." Tomoyo-hime clenched her fists in her lap. She continued, almost to herself. "But he will come to know true strength one day. I am sure of it."

Tomoyo of Piffle felt a strong tug at her body. Slowly she was pulled into the air and mist began to fill the lake. She cried out. "What's going on?"

Still standing firmly on the water, Tomoyo-hime smiled encouragingly. "You are only waking up, so it's nothing to worry about at all. I pray you remember this dream, Daitoji Tomoyo-san." She bowed low as Tomoyo was carried away.

It was just over 6 months later Tomoyo-hime entered the young businesswoman's dreams again. As before, they met on the glass lake, but unlike before, Tomoyo did most of the talking instead of the princess.

"Ooohh, Sakura-chan was just sooo cute! She was a dream come true for my designs! I wish you could have seen the clothes I had made for her!" Tomoyo spun on the lake, releasing pent energy and stress from the past few days. Fai-san was just too silly to be real, but he was so kind to Sakura-chan and Syaoran-kun. I think Syaoran will be able to gather all the feathers, I really do. He seems like the determined type to me."

She turned to Tomoyo-hime and smiled gently. "Kurogane-san is everything you told me he was. You are very fortunate to have someone like him." She reached out and squeezed her hand gently. "Very stubborn, but very kind."

Tomoyo-hime wiped her eyes hastily and nodded through her tears. "I know, truly I do."

"He reminded me of my dream, only a little to old. And his hair was too long." Tomoyo sighed dramatically. "Now if I could only find someone to care that much about me."

The princess grinned. "Oh, he might not be so far in the future as you think."

She turned away, mouthing the spell to return to her world. Slowly the mists gathered around her and she turned to wave goodbye. Tomoyo Daitoji had a mischievous smile on her face as she curtsied to the princess. "I forgot to tell you, Hime-sama, that Kurogane gave me a message for you."

Tomoyo-hime's heart caught in her throat.

"He said he would return, no matter what."

"President Ojo-sama, its time to wake up." Tomoyo felt her servant shake her shoulder gently.

"Mmmgh. Five more minutes." She rolled over into bed again.

"You have several important clients arriving soon, Ojo-sama. Your clothing is lying on your chair." With that, the servant exited.

The day started out uneventful. Many reporters still swamped her for interviews about the exiting dragonfly race and her mysterious favorite, Sakura. Several mergers were finalized and by the end of the day, Tomoyo's hand was aching from contract signing. She sat at her desk, massaging her hand when Asagi knocked tentatively on the door.

"Tomoyo-sama. I have the newest guards for you. In light of the recent events, we decided round the clock guards were necessary. These two will be your new personal body guards." He glanced at her weary face. "Would you like to do this another time?"

"No, no. Please bring them in." Tomoyo forced a smile. "I would like to meet them."

As Asagi called them in, Tomoyo organized her desk and herself. Tomoyo-hime had said the man from her dreams wasn't far, but when would she meet him?

"Tomoyo-sama, This is Kuniobi Soma. She was top in her class of defensive theory and martial arts. Her instructor recommended her very highly." Asagi nodded to the tall woman beside him. She was standing at attention.

"Tomoyo-ojo-sama. I am honored to be in your service." Soma bowed.

Tomoyo talked to Soma for a time, inquiring about family, friends, hobbies and the like. While she was occupied, Asagi was speaking tersely outside the door. Finally he gestured for d a figure to follow him.

Asagi nodded at Tomoyo when he had her attention. "And this is Ginryu Kurogamaru."

Tomoyo's mind struggled to remember the man before her. Something about his posture and his face was very familiar. He was tall, wearing a black sweater with the hood up. From what she could see of his form, his stance was easy, but ready to spring into action.

"He is a top ranked marksman, martial artist, and swords master." Asagi glanced at his clipboard and handed it to Tomoyo. "I believe they are going to be very useful to us."

Tomoyo looked down the clipboard idly. She flipped past a couple of pages and read down the list. "Both of you seem to have very impressive skills. Ginryu-san, it says here you are a master of the shadow arts. Would that be ninjutsu?"

Through the hood, Tomoyo saw his jaw set. "It is one of many, but yes, it is a ninjutsu in the strictest sense." Asagi sputtered behind him, trying to hide his laughter. "Wanna make something of it, blondie?" When Asagi did not answer, he slouched back into his jacket. "Thought not."

Soma elbowed him in the side. "Stand up straight. And take off that hood. It's not respectful." Kurogamaru went to retort, but caught the murderous gleam in Soma's eyes. With a snort, he stood up straight and pulled back his hood.

Tomoyo's heart stopped for a moment. His face sent shivers down her spine. He had short black hair and his crimson eyes were hard.

"Oh, my." Tomoyo gasped.

"What are you looking at?" Kurogamaru sneered at the woman.


Soma continued to yell at Kurogamaru about his lack of manners and good breeding.

Deep inside, Tomoyo heard a princess chuckle. With a giggle, she held up her hand for silence. Soma stood up straight and stared ahead.

Tomoyo smiled at them both. "I am sure this will be... entertaining for us all."

Soma shook her mistress with growing dread. Tomoyo-hime had become harder and harder to wake every time she used the spell. When she did not wake at her usual time, Soma rushed into the room. The spells were still laid out all across the floor, but now they were dim with the coming of the sun. Soma shook her shoulder a little harder. Tomoyo-hime groaned in her sleep and opened her eyes with effort.

"Soma-san. Oh, did I sleep in again?" She murmured blearily, rubbing her eyes like a small child. "What did you tell the courtiers?"

"I told them you took ill during the night, Hime-sama." Soma replied, immensely relieved. Without truly thinking about it, she began to rearrange her mistress's hair.

When her fingers came to the ragged ends, Soma was struck by the odd fear from earlier. With a swift prayer to Buddha, she hoped it was unbased.

Don't you just hate me? This is my first time writing an angsty dramaish thing, so tell me how it is... I am finished with chapter four... I am never really pleased with the outcome, but oh well... I made Tomoyo from piffle happy!