Obligatory Warnings: I'm one of those lunatics who's taken a happy-happy, rabu-rabu kids' anime and twisted it into something dark and sexy. Or at least, I'm aiming for dark and sexy. Anyway, there are a lot of objectionable themes and topics in this fic, and just because I write about them doesn't mean that I condone or accept them. The following controversial/difficult themes are present: severe depression, attempted suicide, obsessive lesbian relationships, alcoholism, marijuana use, gratuitous foul language, and promiscuous sex (without marriage or even love). In the second part of this fic, I cruise close to the lemon region, but it's mostly a heavy lime. If you're young, or innocent, or don't think you want to read a fic in which I do mean things to my favorite characters, I won't be offended if you don't read. If you couldn't get into an 'R'-rated movie in the theaters on your own, then you might be too young for this fic. Then again, maybe not. I'm not a good judge of my own work. Basically, if you get offended, then you can bite me. I've warned you several times over. I would love some comments on this, even flames. This is what I've been distracting myself with over the past few days, so enjoy. Or not.


After The Fall

Card Captor Sakura Fanfiction

by Kit


In a city of faces
That never look back
Where doors never open
And eyes never meet
Someone behind me was tracing my steps
As I ran
Through the fog down a cobblestone street

In a city of crossroads
That never lead home
Where secrets unravel
And fates intertwine
Someone was calling my name in the night
As I ran
From a voice that was echoing mine

The farther you run
The more you recall
The loss of your innocence
After the fall

The father you run
The more you recall
After the fall . . .


The man was obviously drunk, and just as obviously desperate.

"You look down, miss," he managed to say, his slurring barely noticeable.

Tomoyo was obviously not drunk. Her desperation was neither obvious, nor at all similar to the man's.

"I'm fine, thank you," Tomoyo chimed with a brilliant smile that didn't reach her eyes. The glitter in her hair caught the light and made the man blink.

"You . . . sure you don't want to dance?" the man added hopefully, his eyes aglow with admiration. At twenty-five, Tomoyo had the beauty of a pixie, mysterious and otherworldly. Hair the color of wood-smoke was piled elegantly atop her head and fixed with jeweled hairpins that matched the glitter of her silver-rimmed, violet eyes. She was undeniably beautiful, but if the man hadn't been quite so drunk, he'd have noticed that her smile was as brittle as fine-spun glass.

"No, thank you," Tomoyo replied. "I don't dance."

Tomoyo had danced two dances that evening. As maid of honor, she was required to dance first with the best man, a smiling, dark-haired young man she vaguely remembered from elementary and middle school. Then the groom himself had demanded a dance, and she hadn't had the heart to refuse an ecstatically beaming Li Syaoran. But after Syaoran had reclaimed Sakura for another bridal dance, Tomoyo had firmly removed herself from circulation and took up a position along the edge of the ballroom.

The inevitable parade of would-be dance partners came, as expected, but Tomoyo managed to turn them all down with her usual grace. Most of the young men (and a few not-so-young men) were dazzled by her cool, glittering presence, and intimidated by her aloof expression. Of course, as the evening wore on, her admirers became more persistent, less polite, and drunker. Fortunately, her current suitor was still coherent, and hadn't let the alcohol add to natural male belligerence, and he politely walked away. He looked very disappointed, but Tomoyo was beyond feeling any remorse.

The whole evening had been Hell, one proverbial Circle after another. Tomoyo had always felt that Dante's vision of eternal damnation had been fairly dull and prosaic. The real torment was still in the living. True pain was not only watching one's true love marry another, but being her smiling maid of honor, as well. Sakura had glowed, her smiles all aimed with devastating effect at Syaoran, who's grin threatened to split his face. Through the ceremony, Tomoyo had felt on the verge of collapse. At one point, she thought she might have fallen if not for the yards of silk, taffeta, tulle and synthetic boning supporting her painfully slender form. It was proof of her strength that her smile had not yet shattered.

Once the wedding was over, however, the true test had descended. The maid of honor was required to make a speech, which Tomoyo performed with her usual flair. Then she had to listen as half a dozen or so people seated around the long trestle tables made what could be loosely described as 'toasts.' Then the eating commenced. And the small-talk. And the music. The dancing. Then the final, hellish cap on the whole evening: Amidst good-natured cat-calls, Sakura and Syaoran had excused themselves and left for their bridal suite.

And by now, thought Tomoyo as she made a beeline for the sparsely populated bar at the edge of the ballroom, They'll have consummated their thrice-damned vows at least once, maybe more. Tomoyo paused before the bar, reconsidered, then decided. More than once, by now, I'd imagine. For Sakura, Syaoran would shift mountains. I'm sure he can convince Little Syaoran to come to attention for her.

"Another gin and tonic, miss?" The bartended asked Tomoyo. The bartender was an attractive man in his late-fifties, with salt-and-pepper hair, and a strong, clean-shaven jaw. Tomoyo was slowly growing fond of the bartender, since not only did he have a nice smile, he wasn't trying to get her to stop drinking. And he was rather quick with the gin and tonics.

"Yes," Tomoyo agreed, settling herself carefully down on one of the bar stools. She'd long since changed out of the flouncey, corseted, misty green confection from the ceremony, but the burgundy silk cocktail dress she wore now was, while quite comfortable, prone to wrinkle. "Another one, please."

"Have you thought about just leaving," the bartender suggested mildly after handing her the drink.

"Excuse me?" Tomoyo asked, not really understanding.

"Leaving," the older man repeated, gesturing vaguely to the slowly emptying ballroom. "I've been watching you fending off men for the past half-hour and you're starting to look tired. Why don't you just leave, miss?"

Tomoyo sipped her drink and then sucked on an ice cube for a moment. "Hmm," she murmured thoughtfully. "I suppose I could leave." She tucked the ice in between her teeth and her cheek. "Shit, no one else from the ceremony's still here. The last bridesmaid left almost an hour ago with one of the ushers." She shot the bartended a suspicious glance. "You've been watching me?"

The bartender laughed outright at her. "Don't worry about me, miss," he assured her with a wink. "I watch everyone. You remind me a bit of my youngest daughter, and I'd hate to see her as unhappy as you are."

"I'm happy," Tomoyo said unconvincingly. She drained her glass and began crunching the ice.

"Of course you are," the man said solemnly. "As happy as I was ten years ago when I tried to give up my habit cold turkey. You don't fool me, sweetheart."

"What habit?" Tomoyo asked curiously, momentarily forgetting her sullen mood.

"Crystal meth," the bartender told her in a matter-of-fact tone. "Not a fun ride, let me tell you that, honey."

Tomoyo winced. She knew someone who'd had a bad time with that stuff and was ready to believe the bartender. She nodded slowly. "My habit isn't of the chemical kind," she muttered.

"I didn't think so, but if you keep up with the drinking, it could become one," the bartender said, giving Tomoyo a significant look.

"Drinking's not the problem," Tomoyo said stiffly.

Perhaps sensing that he'd pushed too far, the bartender fell silent and poured Tomoyo another gin and tonic. "Sorry, kid."

Tomoyo gritted her teeth together. "Make up your mind, will you?" she half-snarled at him.

"Eh?" The bartender started idly wiping off a few freshly-washed glasses.

"Make up your mind about me," Tomoyo rephrased. "First I'm a 'miss,' then I'm 'sweetheart' and 'honey,' and now I'm back to 'kid.' At this point it's hard to tell whether you want to lay me or give me a lollipop." Tomoyo rested her chin on her propped-up fist. "I'm not a child, you know."

The bartender began to laugh, his face lighting with genuine mirth. Tomoyo rolled her eyes in disgust. The only thing worse than a gabby bartender was one who made snide remarks. "Well, fuck you too," she told the bartender curtly before stomping off around the corner.

Once out of sight, she sagged back against the cool support of the white plaster wall, a large potted plant blocking her from sight. It was a tempting hiding place, but she knew that given time, the more desperate of the remaining men in the room would find her, even if they had to follow the scent of gin on her breath. Muttering a few choice obscenities about the male half of the species, she slipped through the shadows back towards the bar. The bartender may have been a nosy old bastard, but he had made one good suggestion. After sneaking up behind the busy bartender, she snagged a bottle of tequila, a highball glass full of ice, and a small bowl of limes cut for garnishes, and then trotted off out of the ballroom.

The long corridor that linked the formal ballroom to the rest of the hotel was almost entirely made of glass. Most of the windows were louvered open to allow the cool breezes of the June evening to air out the passage. Instead of being refreshed, Tomoyo felt nauseated by the fresh scent of newly-cut grass, and the chill raised goose-bumps on her bare arms and shoulders. "I hate this shit," she mumbled absently as she hurried down the hall.

Tomoyo briefly considered returning to her room before getting roaring drunk, but decided that she wasn't quite ready to face an empty hotel room yet. Instead, she found a vacant sitting room off to one end of the main lounge. The rooms were intended to be used for small parties and receptions, and each was decorated according to a different theme. The one Tomoyo found herself in was furnished like an old English drawing room, complete with drafty windows, a smokey fireplace, and uncomfortable chairs and couches.

"Perfect," Tomoyo decided before settling bonelessly on one of the stiff, hard, chaise lounges. The only light in the room was provided by the full moon, which glared down cold and uncaring through the glass dome overhead, and by the fitfully guttering fire. It was plenty of light for Tomoyo, who set down her glass, filled it with tequila, then selected a wedge of lime.

"To the bride and groom," she said quietly, raising her glass to the moon. She took a suck on the lime then downed a swallow of the tepid tequila. The lime burned her lips and tongue, the tequila burned her throat and stomach. Tomoyo smiled and closed her eyes.

Two faux margaritas later, Tomoyo rose unsteadily and walked over to the fireplace. The entire room reeked of smoke, and she decided that if she couldn't get the fire place to start venting better, she'd try and put the fire out.

"You'd think that a hotel as goddamned expensive as this one would at least be able to afford a decent fucking fireplace," she told the tastelessly decorated mantlepiece. The smoke was really odd-smelling too, not really like normal wood-smoke. It was sickly-sweet, not quite incense, more like . . .

Tomoyo sniffed the air delicately, then slowly turned to one of the other chaise lounges, one in deep shadow. The ruddy glow of the fire was reflected in a pair of spectacles, and a point of red light glowed in time with the watcher's inhalations. "Sorry, do you mind if I smoke?" asked a polite voice.

"Would you stop if I asked?" Tomoyo wondered curiously.

"Probably not," admitted the man in the shadows. He took another drag from his reefer.

"Didn't think so," Tomoyo told him before moving back to her seat and pouring more liquor. The tequila was growing smoother as she went, the lime sweeter. Warmth spread from her belly through her limbs, and she stretched languorously on the chaise lounge.

"Why don't you come sit closer to the fire," Tomoyo eventually suggested to the nameless smoker. "It's getting chilly in here and even the smoke from the fire's warmer than the dark."

"If you think, Daidouji-san," replied the man as he rose gracefully from his seat, unfolding his tall, thin frame. The light from the moon slanted across his pale face.

"Hiiragizawa Eriol," Tomoyo muttered, sipping her drink. "Why am I not surprised at all?"

"Good instincts, I suppose," Eriol replied mildly as he settled next to Tomoyo on the fire-lit chaise lounge, setting a ash-filled ceramic saucer down in front of him, along with a gaily cloisonnéed lighter and a plastic bag of neatly rolled joints.

"Great instincts," Tomoyo decided she topped off her glass and sucked idly on another lime wedge. "I've always had the best instincts," she announced. "Of course, I don't necessarily act on them."

"Are you acting on them now?" Eriol asked curiously as he finished the reefer he was smoking.

"No," Tomoyo said wearily. "If I'd been paying any attention whatsoever to my instincts, I would never have even come to this bloody wedding."

Eriol leaned back against the unresponsive frame of the chaise lounge. "As interesting as that is to know," he commented, "I was actually wondering whether your instincts were warning you about me." Eriol leered, but it ended up looking fairly goofy. He'd gone through too many joints to truly pull off a respectable leer.

"My instincts always warn me about you, moron," Tomoyo retorted before sipping daintily at her glass. She didn't spill too much on the carpet.

"A shame to waste some of that damn fine liquor," Eriol told her solemnly.

"Did you want some?" Tomoyo offered politely. Even when drunk, her manners never left her. Is that something to be proud of?

"No, thank you," Eriol replied. "I don't hold my liquor very well."

Tomoyo arched her delicate eyebrows.

"Really," Eriol said. "I'd probably throw up all over this lovely . . . er . . . couch thing." He paused and poked the stiff upholstery. "Shit, this is really uncomfortable isn't it?"

"Sure is," Tomoyo told him.

"Want to sit on the floor?" Eriol offered. "I'll give you a back-rub?" He flexed his long, slim fingers suggestively.

"Floor sounds nice," Tomoyo answered, patently ignoring the other offer.

"Did you want one?" Eriol asked her, holding out the bag of joints after they'd settled down on the plush carpet in front of the fire.

"No, thank you," Tomoyo declined. "Grass gives me hives."

Eriol snickered.

"Don't laugh," Tomoyo ordered, looking slightly offended. It didn't help that her lipstick was slowly migrating off the side of her mouth. "It's true. I break out in a horrible rash."

"Doesn't it bother you that I'm smoking, then?" It appeared that Eriol, while pleasantly blurred by his smoking, was still capable of rational thought.

"Nah, you'd have to start blowing smoke in my face for it to bug me," Tomoyo said.

"I could try that?" Eriol offered, leaning in close.

The smell of the marijuana was almost overpowering, but the tequila had mellowed her to the point where she was willing to put up with pretty much anything. By now the Wedding from Hell was fading into the realm of nightmares, and Tomoyo was finally relaxing after the Dance Gauntlet. She wasn't ready to rejoin the party any time soon, but at least she wasn't on the verge of tears, or a nervous breakdown, or a homicidal rage. In fact, Tomoyo realized once she thought about it, she was feeling pretty good. She sagged and leaned against Eriol. "It's nice to have someone to drink with," she mused.

"I'm not drinking anything," Eriol noted.

"Doesn't matter," Tomoyo said. "Same principle."

"Oh, okay." Eriol lit another cigarette. Silence reigned for a several minutes, broken only by the periodic clink of the tequila bottle against Tomoyo's glass. She'd finished the limes and was downing the tequila straight now.

"Should I even bother asking what's got you so upset?" Eriol finally spoke up.

Tomoyo hesitated. Drunken confessions usually got her in trouble, but as long as she could remember that Eriol had that secret stash of marijuana, she'd probably be able to blackmail herself out of any difficulties. With a shrug, she explained. "Probably not, but it's too late to take back your curiosity."

The explanation was short and bitter. It was surprisingly easy to fill Eriol in on the events of the past five years. Eriol had been in England, and had missed the escalating tension between Sonomi and her daughter, the tension that finally erupted in a fight that had yet to be concluded. Tomoyo now lived in her own apartment, conveniently close to where Sakura and Syaoran were co-habitating. Sonomi, after realizing that her big, beautiful house was rather empty and lonely, ended up taking Kinomoto Fujitaka in after Sakura left home. It was an oddly comfortable situation for the widow and the widower, and they were happy with it.

Tomoyo began drinking after hearing that Syaoran had proposed. The long engagement merely allowed Tomoyo more time to brood and despair. Sakura knew something was wrong, but her attempts to bring Tomoyo out of her self-imposed isolation had failed spectacularly. In the end, it was only Syaoran's intervention that allowed Sakura and Tomoyo to remain on speaking terms. It isolated Tomoyo, and effectively cut her off from all of her friends. All of her friends were Sakura's friends and Tomoyo couldn't bear the contact. Years faded away. Tomoyo grew thin and hard, sharp and strong, like a well-tempered blade. Sakura finally set a date for the wedding, Tomoyo couldn't refuse her, and ended up as the maid of honor. It was a painful inevitability, and she knew Eriol would realize it as well.

By the time Tomoyo had finished her monologue, she was half-reclining against Eriol, inhaling the intense scent of his cologne that mingled strangely with the smell of his smoke. It wasn't a terribly comfortable position for either of them, considering how thin and bony they both were, but neither seemed inclined to move. Eriol sucked hard on his joint.

"So," Eriol began, licking his lips, "The years have honed sweet little Tomoyo-chan into the budding alcoholic we see before us now, eh?" He bent and idly rubbed his cheek against her forehead.

"I'm not an alcoholic," Tomoyo declared stubbornly, instinctively leaning into Eriol. He'd grown even taller since she'd last seen him, or maybe it was the weight he'd lost. He was on the verge of looking skeletal, but his blue eyes, huge behind their lenses, were as intense as she remembered.

"Of course not, darling," Eriol said, his hand coming up to caress her hair. "I'm not an addict either." He began pulling out her hairpins, one by one. Tomoyo's hair, dusky silver in the wan light, tumbled slowly to pool around her shoulders, spilling over onto Eriol's chest.

"My hair's going to get tangled," Tomoyo noted absently, her eyes closing as Eriol's fingers slid along her neck.

"Good," Eriol told her, bringing his mouth closer to her ear.

"You're just as much of a bastard as I remember," Tomoyo decided.

"True," agreed Eriol. "And the grass makes me horny." His teeth grazed her ear.

"When did you pick up that particular habit," Tomoyo asked curiously, flicking the bag of hand-rolled cigarettes with her fingertip.

"Another long story," Eriol murmured into her hair.

Tomoyo gently pulled her neck away from Eriol's mouth. "Indulge me," she ordered, holding herself carefully out of reach.

Eriol sighed and gave Tomoyo a piteous look. Tomoyo smiled back maliciously. "You're no fun," Eriol accused with a pout.

"None at all," Tomoyo agreed. She hooked her hand around the back of joints and pulled them toward her. "So why the weed?" she asked.

"It's the most effective block for psychic powers that I've found, aside from belladonna which comes with an assortment of fun side-effects, like hallucinations, heart palpitations, and seizures." Eriol closed his eyes and settled back against the carpet.

"And why do you need that?" Tomoyo began, taking a drink of tequila straight from the bottle. With the lime and the ice long gone, the glass was merely an inconvenience. "Aren't you the great and powerful Clow Reed, gifted with skills beyond my mortal imagination? Why would you need to smoke that shit?"

"To keep from eavesdropping," Eriol explained cryptically. He reached for Tomoyo once more.

"Eavesdropping?" Tomoyo prompted, remaining out of reach.

"I have certain . . . bonds with some people," Eriol said, throwing Tomoyo another smoldering pout. "It's something that Clow arranged all those years ago. He wanted to be sure he kept an eye on the important people in his life, and he wanted to make sure that his reincarnated self did the same. So I've always been able to watch certain people. And it's getting harder and harder to ignore them."

"You . . . watch people?" Tomoyo was torn between horror and fascination. "The great Hiiragizawa Eriol is some kind of magical voyeur."

"It's not funny," Eriol said, without a hint to laughter in his voice. "Can you imagine what it would be like if you were forced to watch what Sakura and her new husband are doing right now? Would you like me to describe exactly how things are progressing up in their honeymoon suite? I can give you a play-by-play account if you like . . ."

Horror won over fascination, and Tomoyo paled. Even through the pleasantly numb warmth of the tequila, it hurt like a sword wound. "You're watching them?" she asked, her voice a hoarse whisper, her eyes glinting with pain.

"I'm trying not to," Eriol said as he pulled out another joint.

Tomoyo snatched the beautiful lighter before Eriol could pick it up. "But you've always been watching them, haven't you?"

Eriol nodded and reached out for the lighter. "I don't have any choice. Since Sakura's my heir and Syaoran's my distant relative, they're both firmly embedded in my magical consciousness. They aren't the worst of it, though . . ."

Tomoyo kept the lighter out of reach, fingers tracing the cool, enameled surface. "Watching Sakura would probably come close to killing me, but she doesn't mean the same thing to you, does she? Actually, I'd imagine that you'd be sick enough to enjoy watching them. So why are you hiding?"

Eriol glared at her, his earlier flirting forgotten completely. "As I said, Sakura's not the worst. The worst is Kaho."

Tomoyo was momentarily distracted by Eriol's revelation, and that provided all the opening he needed. He tackled her and after a brief wrestling match, he took back the lighter, returned to his spot on the carpet, and lit his joint.

"Kaho?" Tomoyo repeated softly.

"Kaho," Eriol mimicked Tomoyo's quiet utterance. "You did hear that she left me last year, right?"

Tomoyo shook her head. A year ago, she'd been in no condition to listen to gossip from England.

"Well, she did," Eriol said before taking a hard, angry pull on the cigarette.

"But . . . she loved you . . . I thought you . . ." Tomoyo was startled into the semblance of sobriety.

"She did, I did, we did," Eriol summarized. He was furious, but the anger wasn't directed at Tomoyo, or even at Kaho, it seemed. Tomoyo recognized self-loathing when she saw it. She should. It had been her constant companion for nearly the past decade.

"Love wasn't enough," Eriol realized aloud. "We were together since I was a child, and we'd been lovers since I was fifteen, but in the end, she couldn't commit. I was too old for her, if you can believe it." His laughter was bitter.

"I believe it," Tomoyo said, reaching for the lighter once more. It was far too pretty to use, she thought, but toyed with the mechanism anyway. While not a pyromaniac, the grating spark followed by liquid flame was mesmerizing, and she kept flicking the lighter on and off.

"Tonight," Eriol continued, tapping a long ash from his reefer into his makeshift ashtray, "I might have been tempted to watch the happy couple upstairs, but I'm already distracted by my former lady-love." His eyes grew unfocused for a moment as he stared at the fire, his face a mask of poorly-disguised pain. "She's with her latest boyfriend tonight."

The lighter sparked to life again in Tomoyo's hand. "Poor Eriol," she muttered with a small amount of pity.

"He's older than she is," Eriol added, ignoring Tomoyo. "Almost old enough to be her father. But still younger than me. Always younger than me . . ."

Tomoyo tossed the lighter back onto the coffee table and glanced sideways at the man next to her. The years hadn't been kind to him, but he was still beautiful, in an untouchable, unattainable way. She reached out and pulled his hand toward her, settling it palm-up in her lap. Her gaze was intense as she examined it.

"And I loved her," Eriol said, his voice on the verge of breaking. "Even Clow never found someone as perfect as Kaho. I had her and we were happy, so happy together."

Tomoyo traced the creases on Eriol's palm with cool fingers, then settled her thumb against the pulse-point on his wrist. "Happiness isn't for everyone," Tomoyo stated philosophically. She was beyond feeling sympathy for Eriol.

"Not for me, I guess," Eriol concluded. The last stub of his joint burned down far enough to singe his fingers before he tossed it in the ashtray. "Or for you," he added, glancing once more at Tomoyo.

Dark hair shifted like mist and veiled Tomoyo's face from him, but he knew she was staring at the inside of his wrist. He imagined the horror of her expression as he felt her trace the slim scar she found there, imagined the pity or the disgust or the fear she must feel. Then slowly, she brought his hand up and kissed his wrist, her tongue moist and hot against his scarred veins. "You too," she murmured.

"Yes, I suppose so," Eriol said as he pulled Tomoyo's hand over to him. The scars on her wrist were older, but just as visible. She'd hidden them under a cascade of silver bracelets, but Eriol saw and recognized. "We're closer than I originally thought," he added in an undertone before kissing her wrist in return.

Tomoyo wondered briefly whether he was alluding to the fact that they'd both attempted suicide, or to the fact that they'd both failed. Perhaps it was both. Or neither.

"Do you want to know what they're doing now," Eriol suddenly asked, a terrible sort of desperation in his voice.

"What?" Tomoyo couldn't quite keep up with his train of thought.

"Sakura. And Syaoran." Eriol's mouth curved into a terribly parody of a smile.

"No," Tomoyo said quickly.

"Too bad," Eriol said harshly. "You're going to find out."

Tomoyo moved to cover her ears, to block out what she knew was coming, but Eriol caught her in an embrace that was as yielding as steel. "Their love fills the room," Eriol began, his voice low and seductive in Tomoyo's ear. "It's golden and green, to the second-sight. They're resting between rounds. Sakura is sprawled across Syaoran's chest, running her fingers along his collarbone."

Eriol's voice was dark and persuasive and his breath was warm against Tomoyo's neck. His lips occasionally brushed across her earlobe, eliciting shivers. "They're talking now," Eriol continued. "They're whispering endearments to each other, and then they slide into another kiss. Then another." Eriol pushed Tomoyo back against the carpet, his weight and words holding her still. "His mouth is everywhere." Eriol's lips grazed Tomoyo's ear again, then he kissed her neck. "Everywhere," he repeated before trailing his mouth down the smooth column of her throat.

"Sakura," Tomoyo whispered in despair. She bit her lip hard enough to draw blood. A single crimson droplet caught at the corner of her mouth, and Eriol licked it off.

"Yes, Sakura," Eriol said, before kissing Tomoyo's mouth with a sort of ungentle thoroughness that would leave bruises. The coppery taste of her blood remained in his mouth, mingling with the tears he didn't know he was shedding.

"I want . . ." Tomoyo began, wrenching her mouth away from Eriol's. His hands slid around her neck, as though to choke her, then slipped down over her collarbone. "I . . . want . . ."

"Her," Eriol concluded. "I know, darling, I know." His fingers dug into the softness of her small, round breasts.

"Yes," Tomoyo confirmed. "Her, her, her, her." Her legs, of their own volition, wrapped around Eriol's waist.

"I can't have Her either," Eriol moaned. "We, neither of us, are built for love."

"Not love," Tomoyo echoed softly, hands tangling in Eriol's shock of dark hair. "Not loved." Her deft fingers unwound his bow-tie, pulled it off, and began work on the buttons of his shirt.

They fell silent for a few minutes, their hands and mouths busy. Tomoyo was beyond caring about anything but the moment, and Eriol seemed in a similar state. The night air was cool on bare skin, an almost painful contrast to the searing heat of their contact. Tomoyo's meticulously manicured fingernails dug into Eriol's flesh, and he bit her shoulder in retaliation. It was only as Tomoyo was grinding her mostly-nude body against Eriol's partly-clad one that she realized what was soon to come.

"Not here," she demanded.

"Shut up," Eriol said before returning his mouth to her breasts.

"Not here," Tomoyo repeated. "My room's upstairs."

Eriol growled, but realized that she did have a point. Quickly, they both pulled their clothes back on and darted quietly through the silent halls of the elegant hotel. They had to double back twice, once when Eriol realized he'd forgotten his stash and lighter, again as Tomoyo realized she'd not only left her tequila behind, but also her shoes, slip, purse, and hairpins. By the time they reached Tomoyo's room, they were both dizzy from the frantic walk, but still intent on each other.

As one, they fell onto the bed, shedding their clothing as they descended.

"You're beautiful," Eriol commented as he pulled slightly back to stare at Tomoyo's pale form.

"Of course," Tomoyo agreed without a hint of modestly. The moon streamed in the window next to the bed, bathing them both in silver, leeching the color from their bodies. Eriol's chest was warm and smooth beneath her cool fingers. "As are you," she murmured against his throat.

"What a lovely thing to say, Daidouji-san," Eriol said as he began to trail kisses down Tomoyo's torso.

"I say lovely things all the time, Hiiragizawa-san," Tomoyo replied. She was busily walking her toes up the back of Eriol's leg. Through the tequila-flavored haze, she was startled by how warm he was in comparison to her. Warm and soft. And he smelled nice. Like sweat. And expensive cologne. And marijuana. And magic and pain . . .

It was only after Eriol had gradually worked his way down to the subtle curve of Tomoyo's belly that he realized she was terribly unresponsive to his ministrations. "Daidouji?" he queried curiously.

Her only reply was a soft, musical sigh. Then she started to snore.

Eriol rolled his eyes and kissed her slowly on the lips. Still no response. He could taste the alcohol in her mouth and decided that as long as she didn't start convulsing, it was probably safe to assume that she'd just passed out.

He slumped back against the pillows and thanked the gods that Tomoyo had managed to secure a room with a king size bed. It allowed his long limbs plenty of room to sprawl. Of course, Eriol's own hotel room also had a king size bed, but he found he rather preferred Tomoyo's. Or perhaps he preferred sharing it with her. He wasn't sure. There was no question that he could have found someone to sleep with tonight. He'd had half a dozen offers, both male and female, but for some reason, even the marijuana hadn't induced him to take anyone up on it. Tomoyo was an unexpected bonus.

Eriol reached out and gently pulled Tomoyo's body toward his, tucking her smaller form up against his chest. Her skin was very soft and very pale, even paler than his own. Her hair was already tangled beyond belief, but it still smelled faintly of some sort of citrus, grapefruit perhaps. It seemed odd to Eriol's drug-fuddled mind that someone who practically reeked of sorrow, someone whose waist-length tangle of shadow-colored hair pooled around a face paler than death, could smell of something as innocent and fresh as grapefruit.

With a quiet sigh, Eriol folded himself around Tomoyo, legs twining with hers, arms wrapped around her torso, hands cupping her rib-cage. It had been a very long time since Eriol had seen Tomoyo; several years, at least. But now, as he held Tomoyo against his bare skin, he realized that he wasn't the only one who had made terrible mistakes.

For the first time since infancy, Eriol fell asleep with his face nestled between the breasts of a heartbreakingly beautiful woman.


The windows of the hotel room faced full-east. It was knowledge that came to Eriol quite early in the morning, and quite suddenly. Brilliant shafts of sunlight slanted in through the windows, spiking through his closed eyes, and ricocheting around the inside of his skull. It was like waking up in the middle of a pinball machine.

There was a dull thud, followed by the muffled curse and then the sound of shattering porcelain. "Fuck!" wheezed a familiar voice. To Eriol, the expletive was very, very loud.

It even sounded a bit like the inside of a pinball machine, complete with sound-effects and the ambient cursing. "Shut up," Eriol managed to hiss out, his mouth tasting rather like it had been stuffed with wood shavings.

"Shut up, yourself," Tomoyo muttered, hobbling around the room. Eriol still refused to open his eyes, but imagined the irate expression on her face. The first thud he'd heard had sounded rather like a foot striking solid oak.

"Stupid bastard," Tomoyo added for good measure. Eriol heard the clink of glass on glass and the quiet gurgle of liquid being poured. He wondered if she was crazy enough to resume drinking so soon after waking. Eriol himself felt like he'd been flattened by a herd of wild horses, and he could only assume that Tomoyo was at least as hung-over as he was.

"You're insane," Eriol told her, cracking open one eye to glare balefully at the dark haired young woman.

Tomoyo was looking rather more alive than Eriol had expected, and she tossed her hair over her shoulder disdainfully. She hadn't managed to find clothing yet, and Eriol was treated to an enticing view of her posterior as she bent over the wet bar in the corner of the hotel room. "I was making you a cure for your hangover, but if you're going to be suck a prick about it, I may just toss it down the sink."

"I'm not hung-over," Eriol said weakly.

Tomoyo paused and turned to eye him. Her hair was a mess and she looked like she was about to pass out, but she still managed to give him a scathing glance. "Of course you're not," she muttered sarcastically. "I'm sure your eyes are always that bloodshot when you wake up." Tomoyo turned back to her concoction. "I'm not a complete moron, Hiiragizawa. I do have other friends who are just as stupid as you are about their grass."

"Thanks," Eriol said wryly. He managed to lever himself up into a sitting position and peered over at what Tomoyo was doing. The shifting shadows of her hair blocked his view. "What on earth are you making, Daidouji? It reeks." The smell was making his stomach lurch unsteadily, and if the air didn't clear soon, he'd probably need to dash for the bathroom soon.

"Hangover cure," Tomoyo replied.

"What's in it?" Eriol asked.

"You don't want to know." Tomoyo stirred briskly with a handful of coffee stirs. "I learned the recipe from this old Maori I met when I was in New Zealand last year. He told me the Maori name for the stuff, but I couldn't pronounce it and don't remember it anyway." Tomoyo turned around and sauntered back toward the bed with a small tumbler of mud-colored liquid in her hand.

"I'm not drinking that," Eriol announced. Now that the light from the window was becoming bearable, he was finding that thinking wasn't so difficult after all.

"You should," Tomoyo said. "It'll make you feel better."

"I feel fine." Eriol attempted a smile.

"Bullshit," Tomoyo responded, holding out the glass.

"Why don't you drink it?" Eriol asked, eying the 'cure' nervously.

"I already drank one," Tomoyo said. "That's the only reason I can walk right now."

"I'm still not going to drink that," Eriol repeated.

There was a long silence.

"If you don't, then I'll pour it down your throat," Tomoyo threatened.

Eriol snorted derisively.

"And if you do drink it," Tomoyo offered in a honey-sweet voice, "I'll let you have the shower first . . ." She waggled her eyebrows suggestively.

"Tempting offer," Eriol murmured.

"Not tempting enough?" Tomoyo smiled slightly. "Hmm, if you drink this, I'll share the shower with you . . ."

Eriol reached for the glass and tossed back the liquid in a single gulp.

Then he screamed.

Tomoyo had a head-start, and made it into the bathroom before Eriol recovered enough to dive after her. She locked the door securely behind her and laughed at Eriol, who began pounding on the door with his fist.

"What the hell was that swill?!" he bellowed at the bathroom door. "It tasted like donkey piss and smelled twice as bad. Come out of that bathroom at once, you conniving little bitch!"

Tomoyo giggled again. "La la la," she sang gaily as she turned the shower on. "I can't hear you!"

After about a minute of continued door-pummeling and increasingly obscene expletives, Eriol staggered back over to the bed. He collapsed in a shivering heap on the mattress, and closed his eyes again. Whatever Tomoyo had forced him to drink was busily burning a hole in his stomach lining. He felt awful. Truly awful. Still clutching his abdomen and muttering vile imprecations, he fell asleep again.

Eriol awoke to the sound of someone trying to sneak around the hotel room. He'd lived long enough, both as Clow Reed and as Hiiragizawa Eriol, to recognize the sound of an amateur sneak. He cracked an eye open.

Not surprisingly, Tomoyo had finally emerged from the shower, her hair wrapped in one towel, her torso wrapped in another. She appeared to be searching for clothing.

"What did you do to me, Daidouji?" Eriol asked. His voice was startlingly strong.

Tomoyo squeaked in surprise and spun to stare at Eriol. "Oh, you're awake," she said with a bright smile. "I'm generally out for a bit longer after I drink that Maori shit." She was beginning to edge toward the bathroom door again.

Eriol sprung from the bed, moving faster than even he expected. "You said I'd get the shower first," he said in a low, warning voice. Tomoyo was effectively pinned to the wall by his proximity.

"You fell asleep," Tomoyo noted nervously. She couldn't quite tell what to make of the slightly manic glint in Eriol's eyes.

Eriol's grin was almost feral. "I didn't fall asleep until after you were in the shower," he reminded her, hooking his index finger down between her breasts and deliberately pulling the towel loose. "That means you reneged on your promise."

"Oops," Tomoyo murmured as she watched the towel drop to the floor.

"You reneged on both your promises actually," Eriol added in a conversational voice. "You didn't let me have the shower first, and you also didn't let me in there with you."

"Oh," Tomoyo said. "Sorry." She batted her eyelashes at Eriol. "You really needed to drink that stuff and then sleep. You feel better now, don't you?"

Eriol frowned. It was true that his head was no longer throbbing. The nausea had also faded to a minor stomach irritation. Even his eyes seemed to be functioning correctly again. "That's not the point, Daidouji," he replied primly. "It still tasted like shit, and you still went back on our deal."

Tomoyo smiled wickedly. "I did, didn't I?" She moved quicker than Eriol would have imagined, darting toward the bathroom. He grabbed for her, managed to capture the towel from her head, and then chased after her.

Tomoyo didn't quite make it inside before Eriol caught her, and an impromptu wrestling match commenced. Eriol was larger and stronger, but Tomoyo had been awake longer, and was therefore more alert, and the contest was almost evenly matched. After several minutes of shrieking, squealing, and wet smacking, the two combatants came to an abrupt halt. Eriol had managed to pin Tomoyo up against the rim of the huge bathtub, his weight holding her to the cool porcelain. But the two were effectively deadlocked, since Tomoyo had slipped her hand down between her body and Eriol's and now had her fingers wrapped around a particularly sensitive portion of his anatomy. Tomoyo couldn't move with Eriol practically sitting on her, but Eriol didn't really want to risk moving either.

"Stalemate," Tomoyo announced cheerfully.

"Wench," Eriol muttered sulkily.

Tomoyo laughed. "Did you ever doubt me, oh wise one?" She sniffed and then wrinkled her nose slightly. "You stink, Hiiragizawa. Get off of me."

"It's your fault that you didn't let me shower first," Eriol pointed out, not moving yet. Tomoyo's grip on his manhood was still firm enough that he wasn't quite sure escape was an option.

"Then shower now," Tomoyo said, releasing her grip on Eriol and wriggling out from under him.

"Only if you join me, darling," Eriol said, grabbing Tomoyo and kissing the side of her neck.

Tomoyo threw him an arch look. "Have you been smoking again?"

"Nope." Eriol grinned and wound his fingers in Tomoyo's hair. "But grass isn't the only thing that makes me horny, you know . . ."

"Beast," Tomoyo said, a smile in her voice.

"Mmm," Eriol agreed amiably, his face pressed to Tomoyo's breasts.

"But you should really go take a shower," Tomoyo insisted. "You really do smell bad."

Eriol gave her a piteous pout and fluttered his eyelashes cutely at her.

Even Tomoyo wasn't quite chilly enough to withstand the look. "Well . . . if you go take a shower, I'll get this enormous bathtub filled up and I'll wash your back . . ."

"You've got a deal," Eriol said with a leer. "But if you try to run away this time, you'll really regret it." Eriol pulled away from her and winked before heading toward the glass-enclosed shower stall. "If you run this time, I'll punish you."

Tomoyo licked her lips like a cat. "And that's supposed to deter me?"

Eriol laughed as he stepped into the shower.

Tomoyo settled into the huge bath and turned the water on. Steam slid around her face as the tub slowly filled with hot water. Tomoyo preferred her baths on the verge of boiling, and the water was comfortably scalding to her skin as she soaked. From where she rested her head against the rim of the tub, she could watch the misty shadow of Eriol's body through the steam-encased shower. He was even more attractive now that she was sober. For the first time, she wondered why she'd never tried having a fling with him before.

Well, the answer's obvious, she realized with a hollow smile. He's been in England for a long time, and I've been too busy drinking my way through the liquor store below my apartment.

It wasn't something Tomoyo really wanted to dwell upon right at that moment, so she simply sunk lower into the steaming water and ignored disruptive thoughts. Idly, she reached out to the assortment of bath oils that were neatly lined up next to the tub, each in a delicate crystal decanter. After sniffing several, she finally selected one that she couldn't quite identify, but which reminded her of Eriol, for some reason. Tomoyo liberally dosed the bath-water with the oil, then settled back to soak once more.

Tomoyo was on the verge of dozing off when she felt the water shift around her, wavelets lapping against her collarbone. She cracked an eye open in time to see Eriol slide into the water, a small, smug smile on his face. "You look entirely too pleased with yourself, Hiiragizawa," Tomoyo told him, her quiet voice echoing strangely in the tile-lined bathroom.

"Why shouldn't I look pleased?" Eriol asked blandly. He seemed much younger without his glasses, and the dark, wet hair that straggled down his forehead into his eyes made him look like a slightly naughty child.

Tomoyo felt a foot trace its way along her calf. Definitely a naughty child, she confirmed, smiling at him.

"Did you put perfume in the water, Daidouji-san?" Eriol asked after a moment.

"Bath oil," Tomoyo responded. She shifted over to Eriol's side of the tub, settling herself next to him, thigh to thigh, shoulder to shoulder. "Do you mind?"

"Not at all," Eriol replied, looking a little dazed as he watched Tomoyo eye him through the dark veil of her thick lashes. It was very difficult to resist her when she looked at him that way.

"Correct answer," Tomoyo murmured into his ear. Then she bit his earlobe.

Eriol shivered. "Was that supposed to be the reward for a correct answer?" he wondered aloud, his hands sliding around Tomoyo's waist and shifting her onto his lap. "Because if it was," he continued in a conversational tone, "Then I must say I'm a bit disappointed. You promised to wash my back for me, not chew on my ear."

"I'm terribly sorry," Tomoyo said, managing to almost sound contrite. "I thought you might like it. Is this any better?" This time, she bent and kissed him on the mouth. This lasted for several seconds before she gave his lower lip a sharp nip and pulled away.

Eriol's breath caught in his throat. "Um," he said brilliantly.

Tomoyo's answering smile was anything but innocent. Her slim-fingered hands ran up Eriol's chest, pausing here and there to trace the smooth planes of bone and muscle. "That's one of the things I like about you, Hiiragizawa," Tomoyo commented mildly. "You're incredibly articulate."

"Um," Eriol said again before following Tomoyo's lead and beginning his own anatomical explorations. Tomoyo's hips particularly fascinated his wandering hands. The way the sharp line of her hipbone gradually sloped into the softness of her belly was incredibly beautiful, even though the water was veiling it from his eyes. As his hands stroked upward, fingers sliding over each rib, her felt Tomoyo sigh and settle herself comfortably against his chest, chin tucking in along his neck.

It's been far too long, Eriol realized with a sort of dreamy unease. Tomoyo's skin was even hotter than the water beneath his hands, but as his fingers rose to cup her breasts, the chill of the air bit into his own flesh. Eriol leaned forward and kissed Tomoyo's hair. Far too long since the last time.

"Your skin's very soft," Tomoyo said suddenly, her thumb briefly digging into the hollow beneath his collarbone.

"I was just thinking the same about yours," Eriol replied, hands still curled around her breasts. "Softer than Kaho's."

"Kaho," Tomoyo echoed softly. She dipped her head to kiss the tip of his nose. "Is she the only woman you've been with?"

Eriol sighed. It was positively uncanny the way Tomoyo could figure him out so easily. "Yes, the only one," he answered. His smile widened and he brushed his thumbs across the tips of her breasts, eliciting a sharp gasp. "But we had lots of practice. Kaho was a good teacher." He paused and kissed Tomoyo again. "Though her breasts are bigger than yours."

Tomoyo gave Eriol a haughty stare. "Hey, more than a handful's a waste," she quoted piously.

Eriol chuckled. "Of course, dear one." His hands slid back under the water, down to her belly and beyond. "You're enough of a handful for me . . ."

"Good," Tomoyo muttered before firmly silencing Eriol's mouth with hers. The time for words had passed.

After a night of drug-laden sorrows, the pleasures of the flesh were more poignant, aching in the slow build and fall. There was no love in their joining, just water lapping against steam-clad skin. Yet they were gentle and considerate and found a sort of comfort in each other that went beyond mere pleasure. There was a sharing of pain and pleasure and existence that let them both forget for a few, brief moments who they were, where they were, and most importantly, why they'd found each other.

"Sakura . . ." Eriol didn't hear Tomoyo's quiet cry, muffled as it was in his hair.

Tomoyo, likewise, didn't hear Eriol's repeated gasps as he quickly joined her over the edge. "Kaho . . Kaho . . Kaho . . ."

They rested together afterwards, still intertwined in the cooling bath-water, Tomoyo's head tucked under Eriol's chin, his breath stirring her drying hair. "We should go shower," Eriol eventually commented.

"Yes," agreed Tomoyo.

There was a long pause.

"You aren't moving, though," Eriol pointed out. He ran a finger up her spine, trailing water. "If you want to take a shower, you should start getting up."

"Yes," Tomoyo said again, snuggling closer once more.

Eriol finally managed to haul the stubbornly unresponsive Tomoyo into the shower. Tomoyo yawned, stretched luxuriously, then ordered Eriol to clean her off.

"Why me?" Eriol asked, a little snippy.

"You're the only one here," Tomoyo replied in a voice that suggested Eriol was a complete idiot to have asked in the first place.

"Why can't you wash yourself?" Eriol returned.

"Because I'm washing you," Tomoyo explained as she began to soap up Eriol's front side.

"Ah," Eriol said. "I understand now."

They managed to clean each other off sufficiently and then made it out of the shower before they were inspired to do an encore performance of the bout in the bathtub. There were matching robes in the hotel room's closed, and after drying off, they each slid into one.

"I'm hungry," Tomoyo said as she ran a comb through her tangled hair. The teeth caught on a particularly stubborn snarl and she winced.

"Here," Eriol said, pulling Tomoyo closer. "Let me get that for you."

Tomoyo relinquished control of the comb and let Eriol work on her hair. "Thank you," she murmured. "That's really lovely of you."

"Of course it is," Eriol said smugly.

Tomoyo chuckled and asked, "Did Kaho make you comb her hair after sex?"

"Not exactly," Eriol replied. Somehow, speaking of Kaho didn't cause the same sharp crackle of pain. If bedding Tomoyo had that sort of numbing effect on his emotions, then he should have tried it months ago.

"Well, it's still nice to have someone else deal with my hair for a change," Tomoyo added, leaning back against Eriol. It felt almost sinfully good to have him pampering her like this. He was gentle with the comb, and his fingers occasionally brushed lightly against her neck. It was almost as good as the sex. But not quite.

"I'm still hungry," Tomoyo said again after a while.

"Me too," Eriol replied.

"Maybe we can order room service," she suggested.

There was a tentative knock at the door. Tomoyo and Eriol blinked at each other.

"Room service!" called a subdued voice from beyond the door.

Tomoyo shot Eriol a suspicious glance. "Is this your doing?"

Eriol shook his head and padded over to open the door. "Can I help you?" he asked curiously, eying the young man in gold-trimmed livery who was standing there.

The man smiled hesitantly. "Complimentary breakfast for the bride and groom," he announced, gesturing toward the food-laden cart behind him.

Eriol and Tomoyo exchanged a long, significant glance.

"How kind of you," Tomoyo finally replied, stepping forward to throw a devastating smile at the busboy. "You can wheel the cart right in."

The young man blushed deeply and obeyed, pushing the cart into the room and quickly setting up a romantic, bridal breakfast. The linen napkins were whiter than new-fallen snow, and there was even a small, tasteful arrangement of deep crimson roses on the center of the breakfast table.

Eriol stood behind Tomoyo and slid an arm around her waist. "You don't think Sakura-san will mind that we're stealing her free breakfast?" he murmured into her ear.

"She'll never know, will she?" Tomoyo's smile was beatific.

"There you go," the waiter said once he'd arranged the meal to his satisfaction. "Enjoy your breakfast, Mr. and Mrs. Li." He bowed once, admiring eyes still on Tomoyo, then backed out of the door, closing it behind him.

Tomoyo sauntered over to the neatly-laid table. She popped a fresh strawberry into her mouth. "I knew I had a reason for insisting that Sakura-chan have her wedding at this hotel," she said with a wicked little smile.

"And what would that be?" Eriol prompted, following Tomoyo over to the table.

"They have excellent complimentary breakfasts for newly-wedded couples," Tomoyo continued. "But they have a terrible tendency to mix up room assignments."

Eriol and Tomoyo sat down to a sumptuous breakfast, courtesy of the mis-managed hotel staff. The meal was an odd combination of Eastern and Western traditions; scones with Devonshire cream and strawberry preserves sat alongside subtly-seasoned grilled fish over rice. Eriol amused Tomoyo by recounting breakfasts from centuries ago, when Clow had forced an entire pot of apricot preserves down Yue's throat. Tomoyo countered with slightly-embellished story about Sakura's first encounter with authentic British crumpets, which Daidouji Sonomi had procured for her daughter's birthday celebration.

After a night of painful realizations and a morning of languid lovemaking, breakfast was a surprisingly sedate affair. Tomoyo was no longer trying to drown her sorrows in a bottle of tequila, and Eriol was no longer trying to blindly seduce Tomoyo. They acted like lovers, not merely sexual partners. It was a comfortable situation that neither had enjoyed for a long, long time.

Eventually, they ended up back in bed, curled up against each other.

"You're too thin," Eriol commented after a long silence.

"So are you," Tomoyo replied, skimming her finger over the clearly-defined edges of Eriol's ribs.

Eriol rested his hand over the sharp protrusion of Tomoyo's hipbone. "Yet somehow, we ate that entire breakfast."

"Over-active metabolisms, I suppose," Tomoyo murmured, winding herself more closely around Eriol. "Or perhaps we just needed to restore our energy," she added with a tiny, smug smile.

"Hey, my energy's more than restored, babe," Eriol returned with a haughty look.

Tomoyo chuckled, her hand sliding lower to tease about his narrow hips. "Of course it is," she said, clearly unbelieving.

"Do you require proof, my lady?" Eriol asked politely.

"Mmm," Tomoyo said, her lips already seeking Eriol's pale neck.

"You smell nice," Eriol told her after a long while.

"Thank you," Tomoyo said. "It's probably the bath oil."

"No, it's more than that," Eriol continued. "It's not mere perfume. It's something deeper, subtle. Your skin exudes some sort of primeval scent that I find absolutely irresistible."

"You're waxing poetic again, Hiiragizawa-kun," Tomoyo reminded him gently. She sat up in bed and gazed down at him through half-lidded eyes. "You've probably just forgotten what a woman smells like."

"Kaho smelled nothing like you," Eriol said sharply.

"So sorry," Tomoyo said, a note of bitterness creeping into her voice.

Eriol watched her for a moment, then pulled her firmly back down onto the bed. "Nothing to be sorry about, my dear Tomoyo. I don't really want to smell Kaho right now. You smell better than she did, anyway." He ran the back of his hand down from the hollow of her throat, pausing between her breasts, then continuing down to her navel.

"You still love Kaho," Tomoyo accused faintly, trying to follow Eriol's convoluted train of thought. It was too early in the morning to be faced with such deeply philosophical questions.

"Yes, I do," Eriol agreed solemnly. "Probably almost as much as you still love Sakura-san."

Tomoyo frowned. "Thin ice, lover-boy," she said warningly. "Thin ice . . ."

"You're too sensitive," Eriol declared with a roll of his eyes.

"Yes, I'm too sensitive," Tomoyo confirmed, still frowning. "Do you have something to say about it?" Her tone was challenging.

Eriol eyed her for a moment. His lips twitched. "You should smile more often," he decided.

Tomoyo blinked, and then began to chuckle.

Eriol looked smug, which of course prompted Tomoyo to retaliate. An impromptu wrestling match commenced, which eventually segued into massages. After realizing that it was impossible to massage each other at the same time, Eriol forced Tomoyo to lie belly-down on the bed while he straddled her hips. His hands worked with professional ease on her shoulders and back.

"How long are you planning on staying in Japan?" Tomoyo mumbled, her words muffled against the sheets. What Eriol could see of her expression was nearly blank with bliss.

"Just long enough to see the happy couple off on their honeymoon," he replied, his fingers digging into a particularly tense spot below Tomoyo's shoulder blade. "I do have work to do back home in England."

"If it's just work, then blow it off," Tomoyo commanded muzzily. "Come live with me for a while."

"Why, Daidouji-san!" Eriol feigned shock. "Are you trying to take advantage of poor little me?" His hands slid down to her lower back. "Are you suggesting that we live together? In sin?"

"Yep," Tomoyo agreed cheerfully.

"You just want me for a certain portion of my anatomy," Eriol accused with a pitiful little sob.

"Of course," Tomoyo said with an enticing waggle of her eyebrows. "I want you for your hands, my dear. This is quite possibly the best massage I've ever had."

"My hands are good for more than just massages," Eriol commented blandly. He allowed his fingers to skim down to the base of Tomoyo's spine, where they wove fascinating patterns across the pale flesh of her hips and buttocks.

"Mmm," Tomoyo agreed dreamily.

Eriol proceeded to prove just how clever his hands were, much to Tomoyo's delight. The massage segued into something infinitely more satisfying for them both.

Afterwards, as Tomoyo lay sprawled atop Eriol's chest, she gave him a long, serious stare.

"What is it?" he asked mildly.

"You've got lovely eyes," Tomoyo commented softly, her thumb tracing across his dark eyebrow.

"Thank you," Eriol replied politely. He waited for her to speak again.

"And I was thinking again," Tomoyo continued.

"That could be dangerous," Eriol said with an absolutely straight face.

Tomoyo ignored him. "I was thinking," she began again, "That I really would like it if you came to stay with me for a while."

Eriol quirked a single eyebrow.

"Do you really have work that you can't avoid back in England?" Tomoyo asked curiously. "My apartment's plenty big enough for the both of us, if you want to move in. It would make me very . . . happy . . . if you'd come home with me . . . ." she added honestly, her dark eyes fixed on his.

"My work isn't terribly pressing back home," Eriol admitted eventually, his brow creased in thought.

Tomoyo's smile was slow, sweet, and heartbreakingly hopeful.

"But I'm not sure I could stand to stay here in Japan," Eriol concluded.

Tomoyo's breath caught in her throat, her smile growing weak. "Oh," she sighed.

"Japan holds a host of painful memories for both of us, darling," Eriol explained sadly.

Kaho, Tomoyo thought with a pang of vaguely jealous hurt. Kaho's still holding him. Her eyes drifted closed. She certainly didn't love Eriol, but he was so much like her that it was a comfort merely being close to him. The facts that he was wonderful in bed and a whiz of a masseuse were mere bonuses. She would need to rethink her tiny world after Eriol left again . . .

". . . about New Zealand?" Eriol was saying. He cocked his head to the side thoughtfully. "I suppose if you wanted to wait a few more months until summer, Alaska's also a possibility. Or somewhere in Africa, maybe?"

Tomoyo had completely lost track of the conversation. "What?" she asked blankly.

"I was wondering if New Zealand sounded alright to you," Eriol repeated cheerfully.

Tomoyo continued to stare dumbly at her new lover.

"I can't stand to remain in Japan, lover," Eriol explained carefully. "But I'd love to spend more time with you. So I'll say it again, how does New Zealand sound? I could rent a house down in the Milford Sound area and we could watch summer come to the glaciers . . ."

"You never asked if I had any pressing business here in Japan," Tomoyo chided, regaining her composure. "What makes you think I can just go gallivanting around the world with you?"

"Weren't you the one proposing we hole up in your apartment and have mad sex for a few weeks?" Eriol suggested mildly, trying to suppress his smile.

"That's different," Tomoyo informed him, her cheeks flushing slightly.

"We could still have mad sex in a rented vacation house in the Southern Alps, you know . . ." he began enticingly.

Tomoyo sighed thoughtfully. "Only if you cook for me," she decided suddenly.

Eriol chuckled. "That was rather quick, dearest."

"I may be easy," Tomoyo said with a wicked grin, "But I'm certainly not cheap."

"You can say that again," Eriol muttered.

Tomoyo giggled at him, running her fingers through his thick, dark hair. He really was irresistible, she decided as she impishly stuck her tongue out at him. "I may be easy," she repeated, "But I'm certainly --"

Eriol cut off her words, silencing her with his lips. Tomoyo was completely adorable, he thought, but she had a distressing tendency to develop a clever mouth at the most inopportune moments. But as a counter to that, she was wonderfully easy to seduce. Eriol paused and rethought that. Maybe I'm the one who's easy to seduce, Eriol thought as he felt Tomoyo's hands slide down his chest and abdomen. Mad sex in New Zealand would be wonderful, but for now, they could still enjoy mad sex in a free hotel room.


In a city of magic
That spins out of time
Where God has no image
And Man finds no grace
Something inside me was seeking itself
As I ran
From a shadow who's stolen my face

The farther you run
The more you recall
The loss of your innocence
After the fall


End Notes -- 5/27/01

Yeah, this was weird. I acknowledge it and take full responsibility. There are parts of this that I'm very pleased with, and parts that I think are heinous. Comments are welcome and thoroughly appreciated. Basically, this was originally intended to show a Eriol-Tomoyo pairing that wasn't quite as sappy-sweet as the usual. So the story started out very dark, but my usual quasi-humorous style took over in the end. *sighs* Perhaps someday I'll rework this and try to get it to make more sense. But probably not any time soon. I've still got to drag 'A Cappella' kicking and screaming into completion, and I've promised to finish 'Nadesico's Daughter' before Armageddon. *bangs head against desk*

Oh, and the lyrics I included are for the song, 'After The Fall,' by October Project. It's a great song. Go listen to it. Now.