Disclaimer: Cardcaptor Sakura is copyrighted by CLAMP and is produced by TOKYOPOP. The fanfiction's plot and fancharacters are the only things that belong me, and no profit is being made through this story.
Author's Note: Part of this chapter was written for National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a.: NaNoWriMo) this past November 2006.
Weapons of Wisdom
A Burst of Wind
This was known as Tomoeda: a very quiet residential city right along the border between Tokyo and West Tokyo. It looked a lot more like a town than a city, to be precise, for there were mainly country houses rather than the usual apartment buildings that could be found in the really busy areas. Small shops resided in various places, but mostly around Downtown Tomoeda: a very serene neighborhood where not many automobiles roamed around.
Tomoeda had its own schools, too. One was the elementary school, which was very popular in its own right. Seijou High School right next door was also well liked, but mostly by those who preferred to be in a nice, quiet environment. There was also a college in the vicinity, but it was along the very edge of town.
There were many other attractions around the city, too, but that would be too irrelevant to talk about for the moment.
It all started with a one-hundred-foot tall house along the central part of the city. The facings were painted in bright yellow, about as bright as a beam of sunlight shining down upon the ground. Blue-gray shingles represented the roof and overhang (which was over the brown wooden door), complimenting the yellow walls perfectly, and a satellite embedded itself on the far end. Several windows were on the house's face: five curved bay windows (and a singular one on the left) on the bottom, three rectangular windows in the middle, and two squared ones in the attic. On the left side of the second landing was a window, and it was built in the roof. White-railing balconies were found on the right-hand side on both the second floor and the attic.
There was another part of the building, as well. Along the back of the house was what sort looked like an addition. It was two stories high, forty feet wide, and sixty feet long. The walls and roof were also painted in yellow and blue gray respectively. A window was found on both the front and back of the bottom landing, with one more on the left of the side. A rooftop window was located on the front of the second floor, and the side had one, to go with it.
The room on that second landing was dark and quiet. Nothing could be heard, not even a snore. Hey, it was the nighttime, so it was quite reasonable for a place to be so quiet.
In about one hour, however, the lights would flicker on—
—The room was virtually the same as it was several years ago. The bed was in the same place, as well as the desk, books, and television. The differences were that there was a new videogame console to go with the former, and there was a computer on her desk.
Furthermore, the girl sleeping in her bed was not some small child. She was seventeen as of the start of the school year, but was a tired seventeen-year-old (as of the moment, of course). Her hair was red-brown, long bangs running down each side of her face, and a three-pronged natural crown formed on the top of her fluffy head.
"Sakura," whispered a young boy's voice.
Hang on for a second – a boy's voice ringing in a girl's room? Was she roaming around town lately and hogging on other men…? Nah! It was just not in her character. She had much more dignity than that!
"Sakura, wake up."
There it went again. The same voice was calling out to her again. Only, this time, it was a little louder than before.
Suddenly, a small, tawny-colored creature flew right above her ear. It looked a lot like a small stuffed bear, but it was alive. Tiny black dots represented his eyes and triangular nose, but they were nevertheless noticeable. His ears were about twice the size of a usual plush toy, the inner ears looking like a dull tan. White, tiny, bird-like wings were flapping vigorously on both sides of his back while giving off some sort of high "zooming sound." Four short, stumpy feet hung from the sides of his underbelly, one on each corner. And a big, white, bushy ball represented the end of his long, golden, mouse-like tail.
Somehow, the little creature was able to grab onto the left earlobe and place his big head about an inch from traveling inside.
"SAKURA, WAKE UP!" he yelled into her ear. "YOU'LL BE LATE FOR SCHOOL!"
The teenaged girl responded absentmindedly by turning over, her face imprinted into the fluffy, white pillow. "Five more minutes," was her sleepy reply.
The "toy" groaned in frustration and slapped his forehead. When was she going to wake up? Unless something could be done, she was going to be late for school! What to do, what to do?
A slap on his head followed. Of course! He had his little gadget with him. It was the perfect device to wake anyone up, and he meant anyone.
Well, except those who were up.
With a wicked grin on his face, he zoomed to the other side of the room, went into hiding, and plastered a grin on his round face. It was time for her to wake up.
A button was pressed…
The flying "plush toy" grinned and turned the sound off, then returned to the main area of the bedroom once more.
Sakura Kinomoto (now on the floor in a crumpled heap) groaned and moaned from how much her back ached from the crash – and from how much her ears throbbed from the loud siren – and looked at him, a very cheeky smile on his bear-like face.
"Good morning, Sakura!" his voice chirped, his face looking overly cheerful.
Sakura groaned a little more as she staggered to her feet. "Good morning, Kero," she said and proceeded to swing the pink blanket back on the bed tidily.
"I hope you had a nice sleep," said Kero, his sneaky grin not fading the slightest.
Sakura nodded, then became extremely cross as her eyebrows furrowed downward. "Until YOU made that sound!"
"I had to," replied Kero and shrugged innocently, "but don't expect me to tell you where to find it, though."
"I wish you did," thought Sakura, annoyed, but she knew him very well. No matter how much she could egg him to making him find it, she had to figure it out herself, so she gave up on trying.
"Sakura! Breakfast is ready!" called a deep male voice from downstairs.
"Coming!" called Sakura and proceeded to first brush her teeth, then put on her Seijou High School summer uniform (which consisted of a white t-shirt and short black skirt).
Afterwards, they walked out of the room, zoomed down the stairs, and entered the dining room (which basically looked the same, too).
"Good morning!" called Sakura and Kero as they arrived into the living room.
"Morning, Sakura. Morning, Kero," greeted Fujitaka from the kitchen, a smile etched on his face.
"Morning, Dad," responded Sakura with a nod before going looking at the picture of her late mother, Nadeshiko, that sat on the shelf on the left side of the living room doorway.
While Sakura greeted her mother, Kero flew to the kitchen and noticed a tray full of Japanese food on the right side of the counter. On it was a small soup bowl, followed by grains of rice and a bit of pasta on the side.
"This smells great!" he exclaimed while hovering over it.
"I thought you would like its aroma," replied Fujitaka from Kero's right, before picking up something with his left hand and placing it on the tray, too.
Kero looked at it curiously. "What's that you put down?" he wondered, trying not to be very rude.
Fujitaka looked back at Kero with a gleam in his eyes that seemed to say, "It's a surprise."
Kero recognized it and remained quiet.
As for Sakura, after greeting the picture, she looked around with a bewildered look in her emerald eyes.
And she should; someone familiar was not there. Hmm… who could it be?
Oh, yeah. That person…
"Where's Big Brother?" The question was soft, but curious. An inquiring mind wanted to know.
"He went to work about twenty minutes ago," explained Fujitaka as he placed the tray on the table. "Today's his first day of work, and he didn't want to be late."
"Oh," Sakura responded, and she sat on a chair across him, a big smile on her face.
"It's time to eat now!" she announced and started eating her meal.
The moment she began devouring, Kero decided to find out about his little surprise, a surprise that was covered with gold-and-white wrapping paper. The moment of truth awaited him, and he was getting impatient. Something could be sensed within this small package, and from what he hypothesized, it was going to look good, really good, in pinpoint description. He could not wait at all. He had to find out… right… now!
As a result, he did like what a normally excited Kero would do: He ripped open the package like a mad criminal robbing a jewelry store.
All of a sudden, he gasped, and his mouth started watering. In the package was a cup of cold, fresh chocolate pudding.
"YES!!" cheered Kero and flew in circles above the cup, singing some sort of silly song about receiving pudding.
Both humans laughed and laughed upon witnessing Kero's reaction; his hyperactivity always brought some sort of cheerfulness in the household. Once everyone calmed down, breakfast – or, in Kero's case, "sweetness" – restarted. Or, if you were Fujitaka, he began eating.
The family meal was a quiet one, even Kero did not make that much noise. Calm serenity quickly filled the room; not one sound was heard, not even a chomp or a slurp. It was peaceful, it was tranquil, and it was still.
Unfortunately, nothing this silent ever lasted eternally, for Sakura had just finished her meal.
"I'm done," she announced, then piled up the dishes and brought them all back in the kitchen. If it was noticed by anyone, a gigantic grin was on her (already) cheery little face. She then quickly ran back upstairs, picked up her backpack, and ran back downstairs again.
Kero was still eating his pudding when he heard the ruckus and turned to the teenager. "You sure are eager for school, Sakura," he said observantly.
Sakura nodded with a calm smile. "It's the first day of the second part of the trimester, so I don't want to slip up," she replied ironically and put on her backpack.
Kero scooped up some more of his pudding and swallowed it. "I'm surprised your brain hasn't melted from all that home and schoolwork you had to do."
"Sometimes, I feel like my brain is cramping up," stated Sakura and sat beside him, "but I try to perform my best."
Fujitaka swallowed some of the sticky rice that was on his plate and looked at a clock on the far wall, which read "7:20." "You better get ready to go. You don't want to be late."
Sakura looked at the clock before turning back to him. "Right!" She then turned to Kero and said to him, "Promise you'll be good, okay?"
Kero nodded, pudding stuffed in his mouth.
Afterwards, she said "goodbye," put on her skating equipment, and left the house.
The moment the doors closed, Fujitaka looked down at the pudding-eating Kero with a straightforward expression. "Is it okay if I ask you a question?"
Kero gobbled up more pudding. "Of course," he replied, his mouth full of the sweet cocoa that the dairy product contained.
"What was that noise that rung through the house this morning?"
Kero swallowed the rest of the pudding. "Sorry. It's a secret," he answered and flew to the kitchen to dispose of the container.
Fujitaka decided to end the query at that moment.
Sakura was determined to arrive on time.
The moment she walked out the door, she tore down the street like a hungry cheetah chasing a terrified gazelle. Every roll of her skates showed her want to just getting there. One roll here, one roll there. Then, she skated a little more as she turned right and down Sakura Lane, where hundreds of cheery trees showed off their green leaves above.
And even with all that urgency to show up at school, she still had the insubordination to look up and admire them. What kind of person who was worried about being late for school lag around at a time like this? Yes, there was an appropriate time to relax and gaze at the leaves that hung overhead, but now was not the time! She had to truck to Seijou now before she would get in major trouble.
Apparently, she was not listening. It did not matter, though, but it was not going to start for another half-hour, so no worries… yet.
That all changed once she looked at the pink watch on her left wrist.
"HOE! I'm gonna be late!" she cried out and took off again, leaving the green trees in her wake.
The female Kinomoto wound up arriving at the school entrance much quicker than expected, for her skating from her shriek took merely five minutes (fifteen minutes if counted from her exiting the house). It was hard work, but how? She merely acted like there was a jet on her back and zoomed to the school. It was not that much trouble, now was there?
Maybe, there was, as Sakura was panting hard as she entered the complex. Her legs felt extremely stiff from her long, quick run. She promised to not lose track like this ever again, but she was glad about one thing; it might help her in the end, perhaps making her legs stronger and more durable in the rush (hour).
Once she finished relaxing (which lasted for just a minute), she walked to the locker room and proceeded to the very end. There, she juggled with the combination until she was finally able to unlock it. Once opening the locker, she took off her skating equipment, placed them inside, brought out her pink slippers, and closed the locker once more.
The redhead blinked upon hearing that cheery call and turned to her left, where she noticed a bright girl of seventeen years old waving at her. Her height was about the same as Sakura's – about five feet, one inch. Dark indigo hair elegantly floated behind her, which really stood out from the Seijou High School sailor fuku she wore.
"Morning, Tomoyo," greeted Sakura as she put the slippers on her feet.
"Good morning, Sakura," replied Tomoyo with a smile. "You seem cheerful today."
Sakura sighed. "More of an overstatement," she said and told her about how she had to be quick to arrive at the school door.
Tomoyo chuckled upon hearing the story and opened her own locker that was located on Sakura's right.
"If I was there to see it, I would've been certain that would be a cute shot seeing that expression on your face."
Sakura blushed and shyly rubbed the back of her head with her right hand.
"Yeah," she said slowly, "I think it might've been a cute shot."
Yes, Sakura could tell; this was Tomoyo, all right – the one she knew and grew up being close friends with. Although it was like the same old conversation, through the shyness, she had to agree with her sub-conscious that it never got old at all. It always felt strange, yes, but it was always a lot of fun to be around with her.
As if being psychic, the Daidouji child understood Sakura's thoughts completely.
"Maybe, next time, I'll leave early in the morning and perhaps hope for you to come by, so I can have the chance to see that expression." She looked up at the white ceiling, her midnight blue eyes looking starry. "It'd be one CUTE event to witness!" And she closed her eyes with a content sigh.
Tomoyo snapped out of it upon hearing that crash; she opened her eyes and looked down, her mouth in the shape of a small "O."
Sakura was now on the floor, courtesy of a face-fault.
A couple of blank blinks followed as Tomoyo's eyes looked like they were about to pop out.
"Um… Sakura, are you okay?"
Everyone around her crashed to the ground, too.
Although Tomoyo was smart and talented, when it came to certain situations, everyone agreed that she occasionally acted just like Sakura in one way: being naïve!
Once all the chaos was sorted out, Sakura and Tomoyo walked to their classroom and sat in the back at the left-hand side. Sakura sat beside the window, with Tomoyo on her right. This was the way things were. Close friends sitting side-by-side gossiping with each other prior to the start of school.
The whispering was usual. For Tomoyo, it was about the costumes she was designing, including a surprise one that made Sakura very giddy (she was used to the costumes a long time now). Another part of the usual conversations on Tomoyo's side was not only working on singing, but various forms of technology, as well. The kind of technology she was studying was quite simple to answer, was it not?
"Wait, you're making your own camcorder?" Sakura hissed excitedly.
"Well, I'm planning to," Tomoyo corrected and reached in a shopping bag that she brought with her. She pulled out a sketchpad that included captions of equipment, which included an unfinished drawing in the center. "I'm still designing the prototype."
Sakura blinked blankly. "What's a prototype?"
"A prototype is sometimes considered a rough draft of a machine. The camcorder I'm currently designing is a prototype. Once I finished making it, I'll test it to see what parts I need to change, add, or omit."
"And once you got the combination you think is bet, then you will make the final draft?" finished Sakura.
Tomoyo nodded. "Most of the time, yes. Other times, there will either be more rough drafts or the design will be scraped and the project will start over."
"Start over?" Sakura gave her a bewildered look.
"Mm-hmm," nodded Tomoyo while looking at the blueprint. "Sometimes, projects will begin again if the product has too many faults in it." A frown suddenly appeared on her face. "And I'm not a very big fan of restarting projects at all."
"Why's that?" asked Sakura.
"Good morning, class!"
Both of them jumped after hearing a woman's voice enter the classroom, and Tomoyo hurriedly rolled up the blueprint and placed it back in her bag.
When they looked up, they noticed the classroom's main teacher, who was a slender woman of about five feet, nine. Long, slick black hair floated down her back and around her right arm, giving off some sort of elegance, and possibly an overuse of hairspray. A Prussian blue long-sleeve shirt extended to her torso, and her tawny skirt reached down to her ankles, its thin, brown hem blending in nicely.
"Morning, everyone," greeted the woman kindly.
"Good morning, Ms. Yakima!" responded the students in unison.
"I hope everyone has done their homework during the summer break," Ms. Hana Yakima advised.
A simultaneous "yes" from all the happy students followed.
"I'm glad you did," replied Ms. Yakima with a smile, and she looked down at her attendance sheet. Each time she called someone's name, everyone responded back, letting her know that he or she was there.
"Everyone's here," she announced as she put the attendance book down. "Now, I'd like to start the second trimester with something a little bit different the semesters before."
The classroom perked up upon hearing that, and a commotion filled the room. Did she say "something different"? Was what they were hearing true? Was it not some form of nasty, boring cliché that they read when they were children, and perhaps something a little more interesting? Was it something more interesting than just a little, possibly more original than before? If it was, what would it be about? What kind of topic would be chosen in this class, and what subject would be done?
Unfortunately, you would just have to guess what would they be talking about.
"We have to do a QUIZ?!"
On the other hand, maybe not…
"Unfortunately, we do, Meiya," sighed Sakura dejectedly and hung her head with her eyes shut.
Outrage roared once Ms. Yakima announced there would be a quiz coming the end of the week, and the controversy continued as Sakura and her friends (sans Tomoyo, who went off for lunch) were walking down the hall to the library. According to Ms. Yakima, the quiz was going to be fifty minutes long, and they would contain short essay questions. How many questions this quiz would contain were unknown; she did not tell them.
Why did she make this quiz? The answer was simple.
"She wanted us to prove if we actually did our homework for the summer," replied a male student as he walked on Tomoyo's right. He, of course, wore the same male Seijou High School outfit as every other male in the school and was about the same height as Sakura. However, his hair was gray with the roots black. "I think this quiz was actually not such a bad idea, if you ask me."
"That's nothing new from you, Akiya," snorted Meiya. He was the runt of the group, no higher than four feet, five inches. His black hair was long and bushy, his bangs covering up parts of his amber eyes. Again, he wore the same usual outfit: a white short-sleeve shirt that had the shield logo on the left side of the shirt and long black pants. "You were the only person who didn't cry foul after hearing Ms. Yakima announce that quiz."
"Well…" Akiya looked down with some shyness, "I wasn't the only one who like the idea. I noticed a couple of others who enjoyed the idea, too."
"Count me out," grumbled Meiya to Akiya before looking ahead. His eyebrows under his head of hair furrowed even more to where his irises could barely be detected with the naked eye. "I don't believe this. This idea of a stupid quiz is RIDICULOUS!"
"You're not the only one who hates this idea, too," interrupted Sakura calmly, although feeling a little impatient from Meiya's tirade. "But the good thing about this is that it isn't officially graded."
Indeed, it was.
"But it's nevertheless the best to review the work, just to let her know that we've studied and we're prepared for your upcoming work during the period," advised Akiya.
Everyone nodded in reply as they continued their way towards the library.
Meiya also nodded, although he was still really ticked off at this idea of a quiz.
Unfortunately, he had to live with it.
The library was spacious, but crowded. One gigantic room filled up two floors above at the south end of the school. Bookshelves were all lined in rows, which extended from the carpeting floor to the white ceiling some thirty feet above. The shelves were filled with just about everything, from children's books, to arithmetic, to science— you named it, the library had it. Many students were all walking back and forth from one aisle to the next, looking very hard just to find their dream book or books.
If the students were not there, they were sitting in a cubicle right by a window at the very back of the library. Each cubicle consisted of sections; barriers were placed both in front and on the side to prevent any distractions that came form someone else. For a place to sit (per usual), there were chairs, wooden-framed with a fluffy black cushion on top.
Speaking of the cubicles, that was where Sakura, Meiya, and Akiya stationed themselves. There they were, studying through their notes, trying to memorize everything that they had covered during their August off. It was a shock that everyone had written so much during the course of one month. It was quite surprising that they covered a lot of work while not being exhausted, huh?
Meiya looked through his notes out of boredom. He would just lean on his left elbow, flip through the pages, blow the bans out of his eyes, and yawn. Studying was boring – boring, boring, boring. He would eat bugs rather than look over what he wrote down.
Akiya was the opposite; he was paying very close attention to what he jotted down during the summer; but he did it calmly and slowly, just so he did not accidentally skip over anything. It might be something that could be in the quiz, and it would be a disaster (not quite, but close) if he missed any information.
Sakura was just as concerned with both the quiz and notes herself, and she examined them with utmost care. But just like Meiya, she was also bored, as she eyed her book sleepily. Why did she have to go through this torture instead of spending quality time with Kero, Tomoyo, and her friends? If only someone else could do the job for her… No, that was silly, not to mention breaking character. It was ridiculous for her to think like that. She had to continue looking through her notes as much as possible.
In addition to Sakura, Akiya, and Meiya, a female sat at the very far end of the cubicle, hunched over. She was about five feet, two inches, and she wore the same female uniform as Sakura and every other female. The hair was black, flat, smooth, and semi-long (only reaching down to her shoulder blades). Her eyes behind a pair of wire-framed eyeglasses were in the shape of a perfect circle, her brilliant green irises reflecting off the light from outside. She was looking through both her notebook and textbooks, taking more information that she had deemed important and adding them to her notebook.
There was one more thing about her.
"Must work hard for this quiz," she murmured nervously to herself as she continued writing down notes and drawing mathematic diagrams. "I don't want to fail this quiz. I must do as much as I can so I pass it. I can't fail. I just can't."
With that, she continued adding more notes through her keen, but nervous outlook.
As she did that, Sakura – while studying – heard the muttering, and turned her attention from the notes to the hardworking girl. She could tell that the girl was tense; the stiff posture gave her just as much evidence as hearing Kero going bananas for some variation of dessert.
The female Kinomoto heard Meiya's voice and turned to him.
"What'cha lookin' at?" he asked curiously.
"It's nothing, Meiya," replied Sakura with a wave of her left hand.
Meiya gave her a suspicious look, but decided to shrug it off and continue reviewing his notes.
Sakura decided to do the same thing her comrade did and reviewed her notebook once more, but not without giving herself a mental reminder.
Unfortunately, Sakura was not going to have that obligation.
The moment the Card Mistress dove back to reading, the woman she had eyed had already completed all her note taking for the afternoon. After noticing the time by looking at her watch on her left wrist, she packed up her books and walked deep into the aisle. In it, there were many books, such as a copy of the one a friend of Sakura's borrowed several years ago.
Speaking of a fantasy novel, she was searching for something similar to one, and she looked high and low to find one that fit into that genre. Although it was her obligation – no, her duty – to pass the quiz, she felt like needing a break every once in a while.
"And I think I need it, too," she thought doubtfully and rubbed her temple with her free left hand, "because my brain's starting to cramp from all this work."
Like always, despite only working since leaving the classroom only a half-hour ago. Still, working straight through without having lunch may make it seem like it was such a drag, huh?
Well, she continued walking down the aisle, still looking for a fantasy book that caught her attention, when after walking about three-quarters down the aisle, she finally noticed a book that stood out from the others. The cover was white, and the spine stuck out a little further than the others. For her, this was the perfect book; it caught her eye directly, just because the cover was white (a bit of an illogical reason, but that was her reason nevertheless).
As she reached out for the book with her right hand, she felt something tingly. It was something that she did not notice before; it was new, and it was weird; she could not describe the sensation that slowly crept down her spine.
Then, before she could think properly and thoroughly, she caressed the book before grabbing it firmly and taking it out of the shelf. At that point, the feeling vanished, and a yelp out of shock made it clear to her. There was no odd feeling, no description of the tingle, no nothing. Everything was back to normal… if there was such a thing as "normal" after what she had just experienced.
Upon the gasp, she heard a collective hiss from both the students and the librarians, as they all stared at her with annoyance.
She blushed out of embarrassment.
"Sorry about that," she replied with minute nervousness and bowed down to show her apologetic gesture.
A bit of a silence dawned upon the facility (or the top floor, since it was still busy – albeit quiet – downstairs), but it was soon forgotten as everybody continued his or her usual errands.
The pupil unleashed a sigh, which was as ignored as a honk of a car through the loud chorus of cheers during a New Year's Eve party in New York City.
"If I screamed a little louder, I'd been thrown out," she thought, relieved, before looking at the cover of the novel with a slow but returning smile. "Now, it's time to borrow it and read it a little later tonight."
I could bet she was eager to read it, but first, she needed to officially borrow it. And that was what she did when the main librarian recognized the borrow a few minutes later.
"Return it two weeks from now," the black-haired woman dressed in dark crimson clothes warned.
"I promise," guaranteed the pupil, and she walked away.
However, if she were a little quicker, she would have noticed a couple of males and some smiling camera following a slow floatation of magic out of the library.
Once Sakura and her friends walked inside the classroom, they looked at the teacher's desk and noticed a clipboard lying there. On it was a schedule with both the subjects, times, and times separated in columns. When they examined it closely, what the next subject was going to be.
It was literature.
"Damn it," muttered Meiya under his breath. Thank heavens Ms. Yakima was not there; she would have punished him by forcing him to clean up the bathroom. "I was hoping it was math class that I was going to hear now." Arithmetic obsession – it was such a dangerous hobby, a crime in a "specific someone's" viewpoint.
And it was that "specific someone" who groaned out of misery following the mutter (a mutter that she wound up overhearing by accident).
Meiya looked back, a bewildered look that was evident from both his eyes – if it could be seen – and his awkward-positioned lips.
"Sorry, Meiya. No offense, but I'm just not a very huge fan of math," Sakura told him remorsefully.
Meiya shrugged, a nowadays-rare smile on his face. "None taken," he replied casually and walked to the front of the classroom, where his seat was located.
For Sakura, hearing his open-minded, optimistic persona was a breath of fresh air after listening to all the bitterness after hearing about the quiz at the end of the week. But she could not blame him, nor could she blame the rest of the class. It all came as a surprise; there was no notice, and after Ms. Yakima had told them that there was going to be a change.
Talk about being swindled!
At least Akiya was being positive, and he could tell Sakura's thoughts right away. "Still a little down about the quiz, I believe?"
Sakura looked at her left and faced the kind man. "Mm-hmm, I am," she replied with a small nod, "but I'm over the shock of it."
"I'm not surprised that the class was pretty mad, too," reasoned Akiya as he put his bag down and walked to the chair that was located in front of Tomoyo's. "I don't think anyone would want to take it after taking a month off of school."
As Sakura, Akiya, and Meiya walked ahead, Tomoyo Daidouji slowed her pace down so she could turn her camcorder off and put it away. Although the camera was her biggest treasure – second to her friends and Sakura Kinomoto, without a doubt – she still had to be careful with her tool (the camera, not Sakura; it would not be her to use Sakura as a tool).
Once she opened the door to the classroom, she heard Sakura and the others talk about the surprise quiz. Although the Daidouji child was glad that Meiya was over it… somewhat, the posture of Sakura made her feel down. "She's still unhappy about the quiz."
So, this was the consequence of friendship. So, this was the chain reaction that resulted in the bonding of Tomoyo and Sakura since they first met. It was obvious: Whenever one was sad, the other felt sad, too. The feelings were exact. And Tomoyo would not like it any other way.
Thank heavens that she arrived in time to hear Akiya's words to her as she headed to her chair.
"Yeah, and just like Meiya, I was one of those very unhappy with the quiz, too," she admitted as she arrived.
Sakura perked up upon hearing the dark-haired girl's voice and turned to her. "Hi, Tomoyo," she greeted cheerfully.
"Hi, Sakura," replied Tomoyo as she put her books on the desk and sat down.
"You didn't like the announcement, too?" asked Sakura curiously. "From how cheerful you usually act, you don't seem to get mad at anything." She waved her hand nervously upon saying that deemed tactless statement. "No offense."
Tomoyo laughed. "None taken, Sakura."
"So, Tomoyo, what were you doing on your way back here?" asked Akiya.
"Just the usual, Akiya," said Tomoyo. "One of them was putting the camera away."
"One of them?" wondered Akiya confusingly.
Tomoyo nodded sincerely. "The other one is a little bit too personal for me to answer."
"I see," pondered Akiya and proceeded to get his notebooks out for the upcoming class. If one of the reasons was personal for someone, he did not want to reveal it. There was more to "dignity" than just the word itself.
As said before, Sakura had dignity, too; she would not want to go into anyone's business, not even Tomoyo's. She was Sakura's closest friend, and she would not want to do anything to damage it; and eavesdropping might tarnish it. It might not occasionally, but it usually did, as peaking through private feelings had ended many relationships in the past. Thankfully, friendships between Sakura and everyone else were otherwise; they continued.
Like Akiya before, Tomoyo was able to "see" Sakura's training thoughts and merely smiled as a result.
But there was more. That was only a non-verbal response. The verbal response from Tomoyo was the result of a soft, delicate whisper: "I'll tell you later."
Sakura's responded were both a smile and nod. At least, there was nothing too personal regarding the Daidouji teenager's secret.
Sure enough, it was literature, as what the schedule said. During the class, a bushy black-haired woman in her thirties read them some form of horror novel… if you could call it horror. The chapter she read to her audience talked a lot about a person's encounter with some form of mind-controlling creature of darkness. It was speculated to be something familiar, but she did not mention who this mystery was.
The students' opinions varied, and the reactions stood out like a sore thumb. There were several people, most of them males, who were completely focused on the novel. It apparently gave them the sensation of the fright they saw and conveyed. Some thought it was boring, females mostly; there were showcases of them yawning or napping. It was nothing except child's play; a happy dream, but one so monotonous, the brightest and darkest of colors appeared to be in black and white.
For Sakura, she was not paying attention to the story at all. Her mind was very busy on a couple of thoughts. One was the usual, and Tomoyo recently told her what it was, or what she planned to say to her. The other was what she could see in front. Located in front of the class and on Meiya's right was the girl that Sakura saw in the library. She was still looking through her notebook, reviewing every note attentively.
"She's still nervous about the quiz," she thought, the stiff posture and concentration giving her clear evidence to her speculation.
If only it was not against the rules to walk to her and try to calm her down… No, it was not her business. She did not know the busy schoolchild, and it was rude for someone to hinder in her concentration. If only she could have spotted her in the library a while ago before she escaped down the aisles.
But her mind quickly made up.
"I did promise to meet up with her, and I will. I'd like to calm her down and tell her not to get nervous." She looked down at her own notebook and resisted to laugh at herself. "Although I can get worked up for the same thing sometimes."
The female Kinomoto looked up and to her left. Tomoyo was standing above her.
"W-What is it?" asked Sakura.
"Class just ended," replied Tomoyo, causing Sakura to gasp.
"S-Sorry," stammered the Card Mistress and proceeded to place her notebook in her backpack, although her mind remained on the overzealous girl that was located in front of the class.
I am sorry to say that, by the time she looked up at the doorway, the student had already disappeared in the giddy crowd.
Apparently, today was talking with Tomoyo and listening to her secret, and tomorrow was offering sympathy for the nervous pupil.
"I do hope she'll be okay."
Of course she was going to be okay; nervousness was normal when it came to preparing for quizzes. She was going to get over it.
The female was walking down a quiet street as the sun was setting. On one side of the street was a group of houses, while the other side contained a forest of tall trees with fluffy green leaves. The girl was walking on the side of the houses, and she was keeping her attention on the white book that she borrowed from the library. For the picture, it depicted a Phthalo Blue sky with three black cloaks in front of the sky and a brilliant sword in front of the center cloak.
The white covering was unique, since she had not seen anything like this. Usually, the cover was black, brown, or blue. It was anything dark. This was the first time she had ever seen a white-covered book before.
After looking at the cover and front picture, she looked at the title of the book.
"'The Wise of the Army,'" she iterated the title, and she looked down for a moment. "Interesting name for a book."
Upon returning her attention to the white book, she noticed bold, black kanji located at the bottom of the book.
She looked down again and pondered. "I haven't heard that name, either."
She soon stopped at an intersection and grasped the book a little more tightly, like it was her own possession.
"I'm curious as to what the book is about."
Not wanting to wait anymore, she proceeded to open the book.
As she read it, a car passed by, creating a soft, artificial breeze in the process.
As Sakura and Tomoyo walked back from school and down a nice, quiet residential area, they knew that arrangements had to made, since Tomoyo wanted to talk with her at the Kinomoto residence. Consequently, that meant calling Tomoyo's mother and asking for her permission.
Unfortunately for Tomoyo, she forgot to bring her trusty cellular phone.
"Oh," sighed Sakura and looked down glumly, but then… "Oh, I forgot!" She dug into the outside pocket of her backpack with her right hand and pulled out her pink cellular phone. "Here you go, Tomoyo."
"Thanks, Sakura," complimented Tomoyo and received the offering. She then dialed her house number and placed the phone next to her right ear. A long dial tone rang, then another, when she finally heard the phone being picked up.
"Daidouji Residence," said the woman on the other line.
"Hi, Mama," said Tomoyo kindly.
"Hi, Tomoyo!" replied the woman, known as Sonomi. "Everything doing well?"
The Daidouji child responded back positively before asking her if she could stay at Sakura's house for the night. "…If you don't mind."
"Mind? MIND!? Of course I don't mind," Sonomi told her daughter. The last phrase was a total shock to her, especially when it came to staying at Sakura's place. She had to wonder why Tomoyo was doubtful, but she decided to think about that later. "I hope that you two do well, and I hope you arrive safely."
Tomoyo smiled sincerely. "I promise, Mama. We'll arrive at the house safely."
"Better keep it," warned Sonomi semi-playfully, semi-seriously, although what she said resulted with laughter. "Arrive safely, Tomoyo… and tell Sakura 'hi' for me."
"Hi!" laughed Sakura, literally cutting into the conversation, resulting in more laughter from the trio.
"Okay, I have to get going," said Sonomi after the laughter died down. "Bye!"
"Bye, Mama," concluded Tomoyo and hung up before turning to Sakura on her left and giving her the telephone back. "Thanks for letting me talk to Mama, Sakura."
"I'm more than welcome, Tomoyo," Sakura replied and received the offering.
It was official. Kinomoto residence had to be prepared, because both Tomoyo and Sakura were crashing in tonight!
The moment Sakura opened the door, a thundering crash quaked the house violently, nearly causing them to fall backwards.
They wondered what the crash was, but they had a feeling where it came from… A quick sprint to the kitchen followed, and what they noticed was a shock. Metallic trays, a bowl, and a Bundt cake pan were cluttered all over the floor, and chocolate was smudged all over the tiles like an amoeba preparing to reproduce.
Chocolate – they knew who loved the chocolate more than anyone, and a rumble from within the mess made it more evident.
Kero quickly zoomed out from the mess and hovered above, a sad look on his face.
"Kero, are you okay?" exclaimed Sakura.
"I'm fine…" Kero said melancholically, "but my surprise is RUINED!"
The two humans looked at each other confusingly before turning their attention back to Kero.
"What surprise, Kero?" wondered Tomoyo, her right index finger touching her chin.
Kero, who had his head down, looked up with a tear clogged in his left eye and told the story.
"When everybody was gone, I started to think about what kind of treatment I wanted to give the whole family. I wanted to create something for all of us, and the only thing in my mind was chocolate in a series of cakes, so I brought out the ingredients and prepared for the cakes. And just as I was ready to place them in the oven…" He could not hold it longer, and a tear fell down his cheek.
Expressions of remorse formed on the faces of the two humans. Poor Kero – all that hard work he made just to make the cakes for the entire family literally came crashing down on him in a quick snap. What were they going to do to cheer the Beast of the Seal up?
Aha! The idea was the perfect remedy for a cuddly monster's sweet tooth. Just a nod from both Tomoyo and Sakura were needed to put the plan into action.
The duo did just that.
"What you two doing?" asked a depressed Kero. He was curled up in Sakura's palms as they approached her bedroom
"We have an idea to cheer you up, Kero," said Sakura kindly as she grabbed the door with her right hand and pulled it open. "But it's gonna be a surprise."
"A sur…prise?" questioned Kero slowly as he was carefully placed on the pillow that resided on the far side of Sakura's bed. He was still feeling very glum, and he should. Who would not cry after working so hard only for your gift to be ruined?
Tomoyo nodded for Sakura. "Just wait here, Kero, and we'll be preparing it," she told him compassionately and gave him a small pat on the head. Kind Tomoyo: a friend who would always help someone in need.
Sakura gently released her hold of the small bear-like figure. "We will be back in a few minutes, and we'll be comforting you," she said before Kero could respond, and she looked left at Tomoyo. "C'mon, we have something to take care of."
Tomoyo obliged, and she followed Sakura towards the door.
"Wait!" he complained, causing both girls to stop walking through the door. "What am I going to do all alone?"
"Just relax, Kero," replied Sakura reassuringly. She had to keep Kero away from the potential surprise they were going to make. "Again, we'll be back momentarily. Just be patient."
Before Kero had a chance to call them back again, the humans left the room, closing the door behind them.
"That was close," sighed Sakura as they walked down the stairwell. "I don't want him to look at our surprise."
"Knowing Kero," said Tomoyo as she glanced behind, "he'd like the surprise that we plan to make."
"Very likely," said Sakura before looking down sadly.
Tomoyo flashed a look of concern for Sakura. There went the chain reaction again. "What's wrong, Sakura?"
Sakura looked up at her comrade once again. "It's nothing much, Tomoyo, but I feel a little worried for someone."
"Someone?" queried Tomoyo.
Sakura nodded. "I noticed a young girl acting very nervous while Meiya, Akiya, and I were in the library. She was taking notes while sporting a very nervous pose, and I heard her saying that she could not fail the quiz. I'd like to cheer her up and plan to do so tomorrow, but I'm starting to have a dilemma morally." They stopped at the platform located at the bottom of the stairs. "She isn't one of my friends, and my conscience is saying that it isn't my business butting into her." A sigh followed. "Now, I don't know what to do."
Tomoyo smiled sympathetically and patted Sakura's right shoulder. "If I was concern, I'd talk to the person. Although she has a right to be nervous, being worked up doesn't usually work when it comes to preparing for something."
Sakura made a tiny smile. "Maybe, I should talk to the person. I just hope I don't mess up my words."
Tomoyo chuckled. "Trust me, you won't."
Sakura's smile was now a stain on her face, but one that she would not dare try to wash off. "Come on, Tomoyo. Let's clean up the kitchen, and cheer Kero up."
"Right," Tomoyo replied and continued walking into the kitchen.
It turned out no cleaning was needed, after all.
When they arrived in the kitchen, they gasped, and their eyes bulged.
The kitchen, which was splattered with chocolate and cluttered with dirty equipment, was clean! The pots, pans, and trays were no longer lying in an untidy pile on a pile and were lying flat in the kitchen sink, and every drop of chocolate was washed off the floor with the remnants of some lemon-smelling cleaner.
The shocked stare controlled every sense of movement the children was supposed to have. All common sense and logic was zipped out of them. Nothing. It was all gone.
"Hi, Sakura and Tomoyo," said a fine man's voice.
Sakura and Tomoyo snapped out of their "state of shock" turned their heads to the right. It was Fujitaka in the clothing he wore to the college. The only thing missing, however, was the apron.
"Hi, Dad," greeted Sakura.
"Good evening, Mr. Fujitaka," Tomoyo followed and bowed out of respect to greet him.
"Good evening to you, too," Fujitaka responded as he was wiping off his sweaty face with a damp washcloth.
Sakura looked around her and noticed the usual missing part of the package. "Where's Big Brother? I thought he would be back by now."
"I had a call from him an hour ago. He said he should be back either tomorrow morning or tomorrow night, Sakura," replied Fujitaka. "The business he's in requires a lot of traveling, so it'll take more time than usual for him to return home."
"Oh." Sakura's slow reply was worth noted: She looked towards the entrance. It was quiet – no creaking of the door at all. "Big Brother," she thought sadly. It was the first time in a long time that her brother was not inside during the night, and she was starting to miss him, even though it was only a day.
Thank goodness he was returning on the morrow.
The Card Mistress snapped out of it upon hearing Tomoyo's voice and looked back. "Sorry. I was thinking about Big Brother."
"What about him?" wondered Fujitaka before noticing Sakura's glum expression. "You're starting to miss him."
"A bit," replied Sakura. "It's just that things can be awkward without him around the house, especially when he's a no-show for a entire day."
Fujitaka looked concerned, too, and he kindly patted her on the left shoulder with his right hand. "I bet he misses you, too, Sakura."
Sakura nodded in reply, understanding what her father meant, and she soon started to break into a tiny smile. "But I'll be definitely seeing him tomorrow," she answered confidently.
"Trust me, you will, and Toya promises that," Fujitaka replied kindly. Then, he looked at both Sakura herself as well as Tomoyo, who was quiet, yet watching it all unfold before her. "Now, let's have something to eat."
The two girls nodded in delight.
Fujitaka went back into the kitchen and as he was setting up meals, while looking down, he told them in a rather stern voice, "And can you please bring Kero down here, too?"
The two girls looked at each other with confused faces. The voice from Sakura's father was just not normal from such a nice, caring, lenient person as him. It actually gave them a bit of a scare. What was he up to? What did he want? And why did he want Kero?
Nevertheless, they did what Fujitaka asked them, and they (uncomfortably) responded with a rather nervous "yes," and they walked up the stairs to Sakura's bedroom, where they found him lying stomach first on the bed. Although he was no longer crying, he was still very upset over everything that had happened.
"Um, Kero…" Sakura began slowly, yet nervously.
Kero stayed sad, but that did not deter him from the following words, "What is it?" while still looking away from him. Apparently, he was still unobservant of the shaky, but brief statement that the Card Mistress uttered to him.
The wavy vocality was contagious.
"I don't want to upset you or anything," said Tomoyo slowly, "but Mr. Kinomoto requested you to come down, and…" she looked down, as if she became scared for Kero's sake, "he didn't sound all that happy, either."
Upon hearing the slow revelation, Kero slowly raised his head up and allowed it to hang to where he was staring at the blanket, and he sadly uttered, "Oh," in reply.
The last words by Tomoyo made the mystical, yet cuddly creature sick to his stomach. Whenever Fujitaka was perceived to sound extremely disappointed, whenever Fujitaka sounded this mad (in his view, at least), Kero's mind clicked immediately. Sakura's father was gentle, and only something would make him change his attitude like that… But why did he want Kero to come down to see him?
"Oh, yeah. That." He was beginning to really dread attempting to make that present for the Kinomoto family. The word "dread" could be emphasized right now, and Kero now wished that word was wiped away from existence.
The response from Sakura snapped him out of it, and he prematurely, inwardly sighed. "Thank you, Sakura." Maybe, he would allow her them both to travel coast-to-coast one day… if that chance ever came.
"Are you okay?" asked Sakura tenderly once she walked up to him.
Kero did not look away much longer and finally turned to her. "I'm fine," he replied, then looked down curiously, "but I wonder what is going on in your father's mind now."
"We're wondering, too," replied Tomoyo as she followed Sakura and stopped at her right. Then, something clicked into her mind. "Kero, do you think that it had something to do with your accident?"
Kero flopped his chin upon hearing that. "I was just thinking about that," he replied crossly.
"Oh," Tomoyo said and looked down guiltily. "Sorry about what I said, Kero."
Kero raised his head up again. "I understand, Tomoyo," he replied compassionately.
"Sakura, Tomoyo, Kero, can you come down, please?" called Fujitaka sternly from downstairs.
The trio looked at each other, a mixture of both doubt and a bit of fright in their expressions. Silence then fell upon them. It was time for all of them to come down. It was time for (quite likely) not only having dinner with Fujitaka, but it was time for Kero to face the music, too. The question was what was Fujitaka going to do.
"Well, there's only one way to find out," sighed Kero, breaking the brief stillness. "This is going to be tough, but it looks like I'm going to have to face him one way or another."
Sakura and Tomoyo looked at each other and nodded morbidly. This was not going to be so easy, particularly on Kero's behalf. Then, they returned their attention to Kero.
"We're ready when you are," answered Sakura.
Tomoyo nodded in agreement.
Kero was right with them, and with calm eyes, he flew towards the door, the humans right behind him. This was the moment. This was the moment to where he would see his fate.
This was the moment of jubilance?
Why, of course it was. Kero was now jumping for joy, yelling in delight, bouncing off both the walls, and flying in circles above the table. All sadness, fear, and worry disappeared instantly.
Why did he react like this right now when just a few minutes ago he was a second away from throwing up?
On the table was a big chocolate cake containing fluffy whipped cream on the corners and a big face of Kero in the center!
In the background, Fujitaka was grinning while the two girls had huge sweat-drops on their heads.
"Well, I guess that takes care of the suspense," blinked Sakura.
The speechless Tomoyo could only nod in reply.
Suddenly, something popped into Sakura's mind, and all shock and irony went away as she looked at his father. "Dad, is it okay to ask you why were you so serious before?"
All logic and common sense returned to the Daidouji child, too, as she turned to Fujitaka.
"Of course," replied Fujitaka, his smile not giving way, and he told them why.
When it was over, both of the teenagers understood the logic of his reaction.
"Now, I understand why," said Sakura and sighed in relief. "For a minute, we all thought it was otherwise."
"I see," said Fujitaka with a remorseful expression. He never liked confusing anybody, especially to those who were so close to him. "Sorry for getting you both worried there."
"It's all right," replied Tomoyo kindly, breaking into a smile. "We don't blame you for acting like that."
Sakura could not blame him, either. She understood why he was so frustrated. Although she was worried of any possible consequences from Fujitaka for his serious tone, she could not keep away for long. This was her father, and she was definitely going to forgive him and forget about this incident, no matter what.
After a few minutes, the joyous chaos finally died down, and everyone gathered to the table to eat some dinner.
Tomoyo had her favorite meal for dinner: soba with a bowl of rice on the side. It was a long time since Tomoyo had some of that tasty wheat pasta to gobble on, and she enjoyed every ounce of it.
Kero ate a gigantic slice of the chocolate cake that Fujitaka gave Kero as a little present… if it could be called little. Like the excited bear he was, he continually chomped down on the desert that sat before him. At least, he ate slices of the cake. Little greedy, energetic Kero – who could not resist him? Well, certainly not the Kinomoto family and Tomoyo, as well as anyone else that knew him… almost.
For Sakura, she was eating chicken teriyaki with a small touch of soy sauce on both the meat and the side. Although she always loved this meal, she carefully ate the meal so she would not receive any heartburn or any other nasty reaction from her healthy, strong frame. After all, what good would it do to eat everything whole?
Kake udon was what Fujitaka had this evening, and he too ate carefully. The warm soup that slid down his throat really healed all the aches and pains that persisted with him during his days at work, even if it was temporary. Nevertheless, it was nice to not be physically stiff for once.
The meal was peaceful and quiet – the clattering of chopsticks, the chewing of food, the greedy gobbling of cake by Kero, and the soft slurping of soup being the only noises to float the dinner table. The sounds seemed to be the only ones that occurred throughout this dinner party. Then again, after not having lunch for about four to six hours, they were bound to be quite hungry.
Conversation began as the dinner wound down.
"So, Sakura," began Kero after swallowing some whipped cream, "how was your first day back at high school?"
Sakura swallowed some of her teriyaki and looked at the Beast of the Seal at her left. "It was fine, actually," she replied before looking down, "although Ms. Yakima told the entire class that we will be having to take a quiz at the end of the week."
Kero flinched. "Ouch."
"You said it," agreed Sakura and took another bite of teriyaki. "Meiya wasn't very happy about it, but Akiya didn't seem to mind it."
Kero lightly tapped the side of his right head with his fork. "Quite frankly, from how you described them, I'm not surprised that both reacted the way they did," he interjected and placed another scoop of cake in his mouth.
"I wasn't surprised, either," said Sakura. "Thankfully, the quiz doesn't officially count as part of the grade."
Kero swallowed the "dinner." "So, that's one worry out of the way."
"It sure is," replied Sakura.
"Nevertheless," interrupted Fujitaka in a caring, yet father-like manner, and he put down the empty bowl that contained the kake udon, "it is best that you study in case any quiz or exam does count as part of the grade. If there's one thing I don't like, it's witnessing anyone fall behind in class."
"Yeah, I suppose so," sighed Sakura before taking another bite of the teriyaki. "That's my father all right. Caring, yet wanting the people he loves progress in life." A small smile broke out, and she closed her eyes for a second. She was not going to let her father down. Not now, not ever.
One her eyes reopened, she turned to her right and noticed a glum Tomoyo looking down at her plate. "Are you okay, Tomoyo?"
The words immediately sparked Kero's interest as he too examined the Daidouji child's face. "Tomoyo?"
Tomoyo made no answer as she continued to gaze at her own plate.
"Tomoyo?" Sakura wondered bewilderedly. "Is there anything wrong?"
The camerawoman looked up for a moment and turned to Sakura and Kero. "There is, but…"
Sakura and Kero looked at each other before back at Tomoyo. "But what?" they asked together.
Tomoyo continued to stare at them, but said nothing. Instead, she returned to playing with her plate, remaining glum.
"I think I know what the problem is."
Everyone minus Tomoyo quickly turned to the smiling Fujitaka, who resided comfortably in a chair from the other side of the table.
The confused stares did not seem to faze Fujitaka at all. In fact, it seemed to enhance his hypothesis as to what was going on in Tomoyo's conscience. He seemed to be the quiet one in the household, the one where he would just enjoy Toya and Sakura squabble after he would call him a "monster." Sometimes, he did not want to stop the arguments between the siblings (an argument that in his view ended in a draw), but he did what he had to do and prevent anything from escalating.
A right index finger caressed his chin as he mentally examined Tomoyo, who was now fiddling with the rim of the ceramic plate. "I'm not sure if this is completely true, Tomoyo, but I believe that you're reminiscing about something."
As if his words attracted to her like a magnet, Tomoyo nodded.
Sakura and Kero's thoughts began to spin, and they seemed to be thinking the same things. But what was she thinking they did not know.
Fujitaka continued examining Tomoyo's mind, his finger tapping his chin rhythmically. Her posture and then some would quite likely make an easy guess for him. And easy would it be, too. "It may be me, but I think that you miss the action that you and Sakura had."
Sakura and Kero were now certain what she was thinking now, and Fujitaka made it pinpoint.
"Something tells me that you miss adventure, Tomoyo." Concentration was key; he did not want to falter when he was so close to answering correctly. "You want to ask Sakura, Kero, and me if you three can go to the forest and have Sakura resume practicing her magical fighting abilities." His chin tapping became slower as he dove deeper into her conscience. "But recently, you weren't so sure if didn't want to tell her or not, because you don't want Sakura falling behind in class."
Now, she knew why Tomoyo was secretive earlier today, Sakura thought. She wanted to see some action again; she wanted to see some adventure again. It must have been boring in the household. No more Clow Cards to capture. No more Eriol Hiiragizawa to scheme against them. No nothing. It was a normal lifestyle for both of them… if it could ever be normal.
Honestly, Sakura was missing it, too. It was really nice having adventures and taking chances as a pre-teen. It was fun, although a bit dangerous, being Cardcaptor Sakura. While she made some new friends and retained her old ones, she had to admit one thing.
"It wasn't what it was like four years ago."
Nostalgia… such a common trait anyone could obtain, and Sakura Kinomoto was one of those people. They had fun back then, and such events could bring back memories. She loved recollecting the days as cardcaptor, yet they could be a bit painful. If only she could rewind time and capture the Cards all over again. Alas, no one could, and neither Return nor Time could reset adventures, as well. Out with the old and in with the new, perhaps.
Kero was impacted with nostalgia, too. He too had to admit to himself that he had a lot of fun capturing the Cards, although he had to semi-blame himself for causing all of this—
"If this is the case," pondered Fujitaka in a serious manner, interrupting Sakura's and Kero's thoughts, "although I believe you should study for the quiz, Sakura," he flashed a smile, "I think it's okay if you three can go to the park and train yourselves to battle again."
A collective cheer from the girls and Kero reverberated off the walls and ceiling, causing the house to shake, but just for a second.
Fujitaka was not fazed from the small quake. He merely wanted Sakura and her comrades to be happy and cheerful, and their reactions only made him more satisfied with the decision.
Still, he could not resist laughing heartily from watching their joy.
It was a crispy summer night tonight in Tomoeda, where tranquility settled itself. The stars brightened the midnight blue sky. There they were, sparkles of red, blue, green, yellow, and white twinkled brilliantly. No clouds were in sight and were not going to be there. Not while the citizens of the Tokyo ward were going to have their way with. Nature was theirs, and they were not letting anyone else take it from them, not even one little cumulus cloud.
A quiet click of a camcorder flickered, as Tomoyo gazed in awe at a fancily dressed Sakura Kinomoto before her.
The female Kinomoto wore mostly white tonight, which stood out from the dark background of the park. Although she did not have any headwear, her body and legs were fully clothed. Her arms had long white sleeves that stretched from her humerus to halfway down her forearm. A thin, opaque, white, sleeveless shirt covered her neck, chest, and torso. Black shoulder blades stuck out, giving her the appearance that she was bigger than she actually was. White pants ran down from her belly all the way down to her ankles. Covering her feet were black leather boots. Small metal accents were on the top of each foot, the long sleeves extending halfway up her lower-leg. Finally, around her neck was the usual Star Key, which danced in the wind.
"It's been a while since we've done this," said Sakura with a faint red tint on her cheeks.
"And you're still just as cute with the costumes I make for you!" exclaimed Tomoyo giddily. She was dying to jump up and down upon witnessing this "historic moment," but she had to keep her composure. This camerawoman here was not in a mood to making a joke out of herself and ruin this video by shaking the camera.
As for her clothes, she was now in a different uniform. Like Sakura's, she also wore clothes that stood out from the darkness, but it was all in brilliant shades of green rather than white (except in a few places). A long-sleeve lime green shirt with navy blue trimmings extended down to both her wrists and waist. A long wintergreen skirt with an aqua hem floated down to her ankles, covering her black pantyhose and lime green shoes. Finally, a thick leather belt was buckled around the waist, keeping the skirt in place.
"Uh, thanks for the compliment, Tomoyo," stammered Sakura as she began to fiddle with the Star Key.
"It's an honor exclusively for you," chortled Tomoyo and made her sinister "Oh, ho-ho-ho" in the process.
"Hoe…!" A sweat drop suspended on one of Sakura's side-bangs. This was Tomoyo, all right, she thought subconsciously.
But her seemingly childish characteristics vanished in an instant, replaced with reminiscence. "This was like this four years ago," she said quietly.
"Yeah," said Sakura as she looked up at the stars. "It really is. I can't believe time went that fast." She took the Star Key off her neck and stared at it. "And I almost neglected my job, and that was paying attention to my magic." A sigh interrupted the stillness. "Normality can really make you fall back on what you really love, huh?"
"Well, that's not gonna happen anymore," replied Kero, who hovered on Tomoyo's right.
Sakura nodded while she was not looking at them. "And I'm making sure I don't do it again."
"I'll be sure of that," promised Tomoyo.
The trio shared a brief chuckle.
When it died down, Tomoyo gave her the cue. "We're ready when you are."
Sakura gave her a thumbs-up with her right hand. "Let's see if I remember everything," she thought nervously as she both closed her eyes and extended her right hand, which contained her key.
It was quiet, as Tomoyo and Kero watched, anticipating the moment. This was it – all or nothing. They wanted to see the old again, and "no" would not be taken for an answer.
Then, the magic woke up; the key start to float out of Sakura's hands and in front of her face.
Sakura could feel it. She could feel her powers waking up; she could feel her memories coming back.
"The Key that hides the power of the Stars…"
The tingly sensation of magic was rushing through her blood again as a soft gust of wind blew by her.
"…Show your true form before me!"
Underneath her feet, the Magic Circle of the Sakura Cards began rotating counterclockwise. On one side was the symbol of the sun with the symbol of the moon on the other side. Under her feet were two stars overlapping each other, the one underneath having all five arms sticking out from behind the furthermost star.
The tingly sensation of magic was rushing through her blood again. It was becoming lively. It was close to reviving; she could sense it.
"I, Sakura, command you under our contract!"
The key rose above her head, creating a bright blue aura around it. Sakura could sense the magic within it, ready to burst into life, and she was ready to wake that contained magic up.
The key started to spin erratically, and a huge gust of wind followed, whipping her clothing across. Once the key lay flat on its side, it enlarged like a helium-filled balloon.
Sakura opened her eyes. The magic was reborn, and all she needed now was to touch it. With an eager look in her emerald eyes, she reached her right arm out, snatched the Star Staff out from the air, twirled it like a cheerleader twirling a baton, and made her traditional pose.
The magic seceded, and Sakura turned back to Tomoyo and Kero with a proud smile on her face. "I never thought I'd say this, but it really feels great to be Cardcaptor Sakura once again."
Tomoyo could not help but grin at the reaction. "I am, too."
"And you should!" yelled Kero joyously and pumped his fist in delight.
Sakura's smile soon stained her face, but something popped into her mind with it. "Kero, do you think you can still change back into your original form?"
Kero chuckled both semi-proudly and semi-pompously. "Don't ya think I can't? Of course I can!"
It was Tomoyo's cue to back up about seven feet, her camera now focusing him. "I'm ready to see it, Kero, whenever you are," she told him.
"Aren't I always ready?" laughed Kero before calming down and closing his eyes.
His body subsequently glowed gold, and a Magic Circle appeared from where he was standing on. Gigantic, golden, feathery wings protracted out from his back, releasing some old, molted feathers to fly away; and the wings wrapped him like a cocoon. After a few seconds, the wings retracted and collapsed on his sides.
Once the transformation ended, in the "toy's" place was a large tawny lion. His orange face was white with yellow slanted eyes and black nose. A metal helmet was on his head and wrapped around his round hears, a chest harness was on his shoulders, flattening his golden mane. On each side of his spine were three-yard white wings similar to an angel's wings. Strong frontal legs implanted themselves on the dirt, sunk in like a rock in quicksand. A muscular body represented his agility, and was supported by hind paws. His tawny tail was about as long as his slender body, a fluffy golden ball located at the tip.
"See? Told ya so," he gloated and made a pose of his own,
Sakura shook her head with a giggle. "Big boy, same personality," she teased before clearing her throat. "I think it's time we do a little training to see how much rust I have or don't have."
Kero – now in his usual Cerberus transformation – could not agree more.
"I'm curious myself," interjected Tomoyo, "but I believe that your fighting skills have not decreased any less than four years ago."
"We'll see," concluded Sakura and took out a pink tarot card that had the design on one side and the Magic Circle on the other.
Like a whip, she flicked the card into the air.
"Unleash your imagination and let your creativity run wild!"
As the card spun in the air, Sakura extended her arm and pointed above her.
The wings on the tip of her wand expanded and fluttered, and the star began to spin. The card unleashed a burst of wind, causing her clothes to whip around.
When the wind subsided, the card slowly vanished, and Sakura brought her wand down.
"Better get ready, Sakura," cautioned Cerberus. "Create can create anything it wishes."
"I will be," replied Sakura and motioned Tomoyo to stand back in case anything disastrous happened.
The Daidouji child was way ahead of her, for she backed up even further.
Sakura and Kero looked around to see what Create had in store for them. So far, nothing was there, but they felt it would come shortly. They could sense it through the magic in their blood.
A small ball of fire dropped down and exploded about a yard away, creating a cloud of hot smoke.
Cerberus and Sakura coughed and choked at the smoke and dust that mixed in it. They could not open their eyes, as the dust forced them not to.
Kero had to think of something and quickly. And he made excellent timing by expanding his wings and flapping them violently.
Moments later, the dust cleared.
"Thanks, Kero," sighed Sakura.
"Don't mention it," answered Kero.
A whirring sound occurred overhead. It was soft, but it was detectable nonetheless.
Sakura and Kero quickly shot their heads up. Above was a flock of pterodactyl-like birds. There were about ten in the group, and they squawked loudly.
One of them decided to take a chance by opening his beak widely and tugging his neck a bit. Out from his mouth was a large fireball, and it nosedived at them.
Cerberus and Sakura responded by quickly scooting a few yards away; Cerberus flew a few yards from the scene, while Sakura used the Dash Card to transfer herself to where Cerberus now sat. They looked up again and before they knew it, the pterodactyls were eying them again. This time, there was a different look in their eyes. Those eyes were going to make them commit to their actions, namely one of them: They were hungry.
Another loud squawk echoed in the nighttime sky, and one of them fired another fireball at their direction.
Again, Sakura and Cerberus were ready, especially Sakura, for she quickly took out another Sakura Card.
"WAVE!" The wand made contact with the Sakura Card, and a huge hose of water shot at the upcoming fireball.
As if it was expected, the water made direct contact with the fireball, dousing it at once, replacing it with feint, transparent smoke that disappeared into nothing.
The pterodactyls growled. No way would they be humiliated by some troublemakers and be pushed around like rag dolls. Not only did they remain hungry, they were now after their heads!
A swoop from one of Create's creations immediately followed their repelling, and he squawked loudly at their direction. He stopped flapping his wings and made them fixed. On the tips of their scaly wings looked a lot like razor-sharp spikes, and they were coming right at them.
"Dash!" cried Sakura as the card made contacted with the wand, and she quickly zoomed out of the way.
Cerberus did not do any running this time. Instead, he violently flapped his wings, creating a burst of wind.
The pterodactyl struggled with the draft as he tried to fly through it, but that resulted in him wildly somersaulting away from the Beast. Only when the wind relaxed again was he able to regain control of flight.
All right, that was enough! No more mister nice dinosaurs now!
They opened their beaks, but this time, there was no war cry. This time, they just went for the attack; fireballs exited their mouths and aimed at both Sakura and Cerberus (who were now together again).
Sakura and Cerberus did not expect that. They thought they would hear their squawk, but not this case, and possibly further cases, too. For defense, Sakura had to think of something, and she did by diving behind Cerberus. Cerberus then took advantage of Sakura being safe by crouching and cocooning themselves. Although they could not see, they could hear the attacks thump off the wings and explode. Wanting to take no chances, the Beast of the Seal started flapping his left wing violently, and only did he stop when the smoke vanished.
"These beasts are very stubborn, aren't they?" growled Cerberus as he and Sakura stood upright and faced the squawking reptiles.
Sakura nodded. "Create definitely gave us a challenge tonight," she replied and dusted her right shoulder blade off. "Apparently, he wasn't too happy that we didn't use him tonight."
"I'm pretty certain that's the case, Sakura," replied the Beast of the Seal. After seeing their wings fix, he got into a crouch and told her, "Get prepared to counterattack, here they come!"
Indeed, they were; they started darting at their direction.
They gasped and scooted out of the way. Sakura rolled herself out of harm's way, while Cerberus flew into the sky.
Sakura soon got to her feet and noticed no pterodactyls trying to have her for lunch. But when she looked up, she noticed something else. The pterodactyls were after new dinner, and that dinner was Cerberus!
"Pieces of scum," growled Cerberus and made a sharp curve towards the right.
The reptiles were fooled by the quick turn, and they could not halt that quickly to keep following Cerberus, so they went the long way, and was making a long, looping curve and follow him from there.
It gave Cerberus a little more room for flight, because now, the reptiles scooted "off the track," so to speak. Now, he needed a plan to end this fight.
"And I have just the idea to do so."
Even when thinking seriously, he could not stop grinning widely.
She caught his attention and looked at his face, although she was a long ways from where he was flying.
"Use the card that erases everything away!"
"Huh?" Sakura wondered, eyes blinking.
"Use the card to makes them disappear! That's the way to defeat these beasts!"
Sakura did not understand it at first, but a past memory came into her mind; and she nodded in reply. She hoped Cerberus would detect it from afar.
He did, and he looked at the pterodactyls behind him. A raspberry from him got not only their attention, but also even more ire.
"Catch me if you can!" he taunted and started flying at Sakura's direction.
So, he would just make a joke out of them, would he? Well, he had no idea what he was in for. After he was through, they were going to Sakura and make mince meat out of her. Then, they would stir her up in a nice bowl of soup while Cerberus would be roasted in a nice little campfire. That would be a lot of fun, and, boy, were they now turning hungry. So, let them just get it over with, okay?
You bet they would, and they flew after Cerberus without any more thought whatsoever.
Cerberus continued diving towards Sakura, and on the way, both the beast and cardcaptor saw each other eye to eye, their faces exposing a huge amount of determination. This was their plan, and they were not going to let it falter.
"I need to fly a little closer," thought Cerberus as he continued his descent. "I'm still a little out of range."
Sakura was already waiting for the moment to come. "Just a little more," she thought as he tapped the facedown card with her right index finger.
Carberus and Sakura were closing on each other very fast. One reason was the high speed Cerberus was flying towards her. The other was that Create's monsters were flying right behind him.
They flew a little closer, then closer, then closer, then closer!
A simultaneous shout followed, and Cerberus veered to the right, leaving the pterodactyls only one prey to currently face.
"Sorry, pterodactyls, I've already eaten," she thought and tossed her card in the sky.
"Return things to normal and allow me to call it a night!"
She aimed her wand at the spinning card.
A gust of wind whipped around her, and from the card came a female jester.
The Erase Card seemed to be ready tonight. After a nice, long vacation, she was already starving and yearned for a nice breakfast. Well, how about a "scaly" breakfast?
She seemed to agree, as blue tentacles wrapped themselves around the pterodactyls. The mythical creatures then collectively squawked one last "caw" before being swallowed up via the magic of Erase.
Once every scale was erased from existence, Erase returned into its card form and reappeared into her right hand. Then, as if she was not planning to do so, she fanned the cards and noticed that Create was in her hand, too.
"Finally, the 'training' is over," sighed Sakura.
"You said it," grumbled Cerberus and growled upon seeing the Create Card. "Create was one troublemaker tonight."
"And I've already received my dose of punishment from him tonight," finished Sakura and put the cards away.
The duo looked up and noticed Tomoyo running towards them.
"Are you two okay?" she asked once she arrived and stopped the camcorder from recording.
Sakura rubbed the back of her neck with her right hand. "I've felt better," she groaned. "That second-to-last dive gave me a belated twinge of pain in my neck."
Tomoyo gave her a look of sympathy. "I suggest taking a nice hot bath once we both arrive home."
Sakura collapsed her right arm and retracted her wand. "Maybe, I should," she replied as she placed the key around her neck.
Cerberus looked up at the nighttime sky. "Nevertheless, we better get home right now," he advised and returned his gaze to the humans. "It's getting late, and we don't want your father worrying."
Both humans nodded in reply, and they all walked home.
As they disappeared, a feint, undetectable mood lurked within the shadows of the forest, eyeing the weary trio very keenly.