The Artist

Hey everyone! I really don't know how I have time to even write this … I really don't. Our teachers are SLAVEDRIVERS!!!!! I HATE THEM! Well, actually, one's mediocre, one just sucks, and two of 'em rock… but they're ALL SLAVEDRIVERS! Anyway. Yeah. I'll start and shut up now. As always, I don't own this… and R&R! By the way: I'm discontinuing quite a few of my stories… so yeah. I'll see ya's.

Note: This chapter has undergone renovations!


She sat in-between the boughs of a large oak tree, her hair lightly tossed by the wind. Her simple gold wire hoop earrings swayed and chopped at the side of her face. Two eyes, glistening emeralds, were looking down at a blank, off-white square of canvas. She lightly caressed the material, an artist's soft pencil and charcoal loosely grasped in the other hand. She looked up slightly, eyes fixed on the gently waving branch in front of her that held a bird's nest. With a few lines, she sketched the essence of the scene.

It was spring. The cherry blossoms bloomed. The sweet scent of freshness and the sound of laughter drifted through Tomoeda. The lunchroom of Sakura's high school was outside, much to the delight of the students. Some lunch tables were occupied, others were empty, the students preferring to eat lunch on the wall, or on the sunlit field, or, in Sakura's case, in a tree.

She suddenly stopped drawing. Sighing, she glanced up at the cerulean heavens. It was a clear, balmy day. From her height, the raucous clanging of the school bells and the laughter of other students seemed distant. Glancing down at the ground, she smiled at a small squirrel slowly ascending her tree.

Without warning, she struck the image from the canvas and started anew, displeased with the angular structure of the bird's nest. She would draw. She would draw until the last rattling breath escaped her lips and her heart stopped.

Now, it was what she lived for.

She brushed back her honey-brown hair from her green gaze and suddenly saw a bird alight on the nest, mere feet from her. Her breath hitched for a mere second, and then she sketched it, hurriedly, like it was a last lifeline soon to leave her. She was pleased with the second rendition of the nest; the bird seemed to soften the twigs and make the scene brighter.

Fifteen minutes later, the same bird stood on the canvas, its head cocked as it observed its nest. The canvas was infinite. From such simple things as pencil or medium, life was created. Life that, for Sakura, no longer existed outside of her artwork.

Sakura leapt down from one bough to the next, leaving her safe cradle of meditation. Upon reaching the ground, she swarmed over the wall in a tumult of heavy bag, art materials hastily put away, and baggy jeans.

No one took notice of her as she sat at the end row of a lunch table, facing the wall of the schoolyard. She quietly removed a small sandwich from her bento box and began to eat it morsel by morsel.

As she stood up, tossing her sandwich bag into the trash can, she dropped her schoolbag. Her eyes widened as she froze, but she heard no tinkling shatter of her calligraphy ink and saw no spreading pool of spilt paint. Sighing in relief, she bent and sorted the items into their correct pockets once more.

As she looked up, she saw the kind blue eyes of Eriol Kinomoto, her brother and best friend. He helped her replace all her items.

"Hey, Eriol," she said with a small smile finally gracing her lips. "How was math?"

"What do you think?" he replied, grinning and helping her up. "You know I hate math."

"This is true," she agreed, nodding so her hoop earrings swayed slightly. Her black t-shirt sported a band no one knew and around her neck was a delicate necklace, with one small bead sporting a miniscule portrait. Her messy hair swung lightly as she stood up. She was tall, standing at five feet eight inches, but Eriol was taller, at six foot flat.

As they proceeded past the rest of the lunch tables, they observed the usual separation by clique. They traipsed past the people who were holding their calculators feverishly in front of them, programming furiously. They continued by those who discussed last night's game, past the ones who were listening to iPods blaring noisily. Strangely, as they got nearer the exit, the cliques became more and more exclusive. Finally Sakura stopped, almost out the door. In a large six-person booth right by the door were six of the most well-known people in Seijuu High. If there was a social hierarchy in Seijuu, these six were at the top of the pecking order.

To the far left sat Aiko Watanabe, a gorgeous blonde with a bank account balance higher than she could count. She was the moneybags of the group, all rolled up into one sexy lady that all the boys longed to have. Her hair was once jet black, but she had dyed it platinum, which accented her golden-tan skin. Her high cheekbones and arched eyebrows seemed to emanate disdain. Sakura had never seen her wear anything with more sleeve than a tank top, and it seemed that she was with a different guy every day. Her ruby-brown eyes always blinked slowly, and she licked her lips often, as if waiting for someone to kiss her. And hey, Sakura thought, it worked.

Next to Aiko was a redhead who was only known by Meri, instead of Meriwether, which she hated. She was an exchange student from America. Meri's appearance was startlingly different, with milky white skin with millions of freckles and bright blue eyes, contrasted with the flaming red of her short, choppily layered hair. Her mouth had an amazing capability for churning out almost sixty words per minute. She was fluent in English, Japanese, and gossip. She was taller than most of the Japanese girls at Seijuu High.

Next in line was Tomoyo Daidouji. With waves of dark hair cascading down her back and dark purple eyes to match, she looked kind. She dressed like a slut, wearing clothes that no one recognized as designer. They didn't seem to have labels. She had all the connections, as her mother was a corporate genius, and she was the head of the little gang. Sakura had known Tomoyo, and it pained her sometimes to see Tomoyo sitting in the same spot, every day, far away from she, who was once her good friend.

Across from the girls' side was the first male, Takai Kudo. A complete pervert, he was the most popular guy in the school, not to mention he had to-die-for looks, with brush-over sandy hair. His slanted eyes were a startling light blue, and his tall, muscled frame sported splashy designer labels. His fraternal twin brother, Zinan Kudo, had a soft, kind gold-eyed gaze and dirty blond hair with natural brown highlights. He was as tall as Takai, but seemed smaller. His frame, in contrast, was delicate. He was the only introvert in the group, but didn't always agree with his brother. He always seemed resentful that 'Zinan' meant 'second son'.

And the last sitting in the male row casually slumped against the wall as Sakura surveyed them, arm over the back of the seat.

Yep, you guessed it. Syaoran Li. Cheerful, dark, and a total playboy, he was the symbol of what Seijuu was supposed to be filled with: beings of physical perfection, with perfect grades and popular friends. His hair, always messy and slung over in the perfect fashion, ending in a triangle at the nape of his neck, was gorgeous and shaggy. His amber eyes were deep enough to drown in, so filled with sensuality one could drink of them and be drunk with lust after just one sip.

Sakura just stood there, observing the group.

What do they have that I don't?

She had more talent than all of them put together, except maybe Syaoran, who she knew, from personal experience, was quite gifted in many areas. Was it because she was not rich, not dressed like a slut, not particularly well-kept that she didn't know them? What petty reasons kept these people from knowing each other?

Slowly, the one on the end—Li—looked at her, lifting his gaze and staring through his chocolate bangs. Just as the three girls were about to turn to look at her, she paid heed to Eriol's insistent tugs on her arm and strode out the door. Once outside, she took a few deep breaths. He had seen her look at their group. This was strange.

Eriol waved goodbye to her as she turned the corner into her PE classroom. The mile run test was that day, and she felt as breezy and bright as if she had just gone through a rejuvenation machine. She was athletic, perfectly fit, her muscles toned. This was yet another item to add to her list of what she had, that some of the little group lacked. She saw how the three girls groaned, dragging their feet pathetically around the track.

Sakura started at the line. Right next to her were Syaoran, Takai, and Zinan, exchanging competitive glances. They loved running as well. Sakura felt her breath come hot as the silence of concentration before the start of the run engulfed the four of them.

As soon as the gun was fired, she set off at an impossible pace. She thought she heard Takai chuckle softly. He obviously thought she wouldn't be able to keep going at that speed. He was soon to be surprised.

Can't go this pace, huh? she thought. This is barely plodding.

Four laps later, on the final lap, Sakura was still feeling fresh. Glancing behind her, she saw the amazed faces of two of the boys – Zinan still had his usual calm expression on his face as he surveyed her.

As they started to speed up wearily, she poured on the tempo, beating the soft ground rhythmically. She ran, and then sprinted the last half lap, which took all she had left. When she finished, panting, she recorded on a sheet the time on the tiny yellow timer hanging around her neck.

Syaoran, Takai, and Zinan peered at her time nosily as soon as she was out of sight. Their jaws dropped as they saw that 4:58 was scrawled in her messy handwriting. Smiling, she set off to the hard tennis courts.

Half an hour later, however, all energy she had previously felt was impossibly drained. It was halfway into Sakura's math class, and she was quietly sketching a random face on the side of her math notebook, her mouth open. She could practically feel her senses shutting down, wanting to go to sleep behind the droning lecture of Suzuki-sensei. As the face she was drawing assembled a shape and features, she noticed it looked just like Syaoran Li. Angrily, she erased it.

Syaoran Li and Sakura Kinomoto had not had very happy past experiences with each other. He had not liked her artistic ability in comparison with his lopsided stick figures, to begin with. She always beat him in, well, everything, it seemed. Athletics, arts, and even academics.

So he got Tomoyo to help him. She seemed uneasy at the beginning, but Syaoran convinced her that if they didn't do something about Sakura, she'd become a total slut because of overconfidence. Tomoyo and Syaoran were dating at the time. They spread rumors that began as muttered "I think"s.

I think she broke up with that guy she's dating from that other school.

Yeah, I think she's got a new boyfriend now.

I heard that she dated three guys at the same time! I know, I thought she was nice, too… I guess I was wrong.

And no one ever bothered to ask Sakura if it was true, if she really did any of these things.

They never suspected Syaoran Li of lying. Not the flawless prince of the school. Not the captain of the soccer team. Not the soon-to-be valedictorian. Not even the person, hidden behind Syaoran Li, made of the sickly shade of green that caused Sakura to become completely untouchable.

Sakura sank quickly to the bottom of the social ladder, and Syaoran remained where he was, feeling only a slight tinge of guilt taint his 'victory' as he saw her sit alone. As the years went by, he became steadily more popular. Sakura's reputation lasted, the leper who no one except her brother would talk to. Sometimes, for reasons unknown to both of them, Syaoran would reinforce her mental dejection with hissed comments at her neck in math class.

"Slutty bitch," he whispered into the back of her head. She stiffened, and pretending to scratch her neck, jabbed the point of her pencil right into his cheek. He recoiled slightly, cursing.

Despite their relationship, Sakura surveyed his group every day, trying to see what they were really like from snatches of whisked conversation. Every so often, her sad, jade gaze would drift to him. She would tear her eyes away from his idyllic face like duct tape from a wound, reopening all the things she knew he had said about her, from mere jealousy. She had nothing against the Kudo twins. She barely even minded Meri. Tomoyo was a surprisingly horrible person, but Sakura supposed that she had only helped her boyfriend in "getting rid" of Sakura. Aiko, admittedly, bothered her, with her airheadedness and pouts, but they were all nothing compared to Syaoran.

And now her eyelids snapped back open unwillingly to copy down another set of notes. "Damn whore," Syaoran sneered. She clenched her fists and continued working on a seemingly impossible problem. Vector calculus? She just didn't see how that would help her in life. She scribbled down a reply. Freaking test.

She laid her head in her arms, and closed her eyes. Visions of a blood-red harvest moon shone in front of her eyes.

Syaoran, first checking the teacher's obliviousness, suddenly tugged Sakura's bra strap in the back, causing a small snap. Again, no one noticed, but Sakura turned right around. She smiled sweetly at him, and scribbled all over his test paper. Syaoran's eyes widened. He frantically began erasing, without time even to curse at her.

After math class, luckily the final period, Syaoran grabbed Sakura and slammed her up against a wall as the class streamed by.

"What was that for, bitch?" he growled at her.

"Hm, I'm sure you can think of something," she hissed back.

"No one cares about you, freak. Just stop."

"Wait, hang on. Me, stop? You're asking me to stop? Everything I do, you trigger! It's like shooting yourself in the head or something equally moronic! Like engaging in this conversation with me. No matter how much you curse, I'm not gonna care. You can take your reputation and your insults, and your little fabricated rumors, and shove it," she said, voice strained with anger.

Syaoran glared at her.

"Hey, did you hear about your twenty-first boyfriend, Akira? You just broke up with him to go out with someone else. What a slut you are," he snarled, repeating the rumor he had started just the day before.

Sakura looked at him, as she leaned against the wall. She suddenly leant over and tugged out her calligraphy pen from inside her bag. Without warning, without thought, she stabbed him, right in the forearm. Then she spoke,

"You can call me a slut. But you can think again if you think I'll ever forgive you for convincing people that I am one." Syaoran's eyes were watering. Sakura yanked out the tool and shoved it back into her bag, blood welling in one ugly dot from his forearm.

Eriol hurried from around the corner, and seeing Sakura standing next to a very pissed-off Li Syaoran, decided to intrude.

"Sakura! What did you do?"

"You know what I did. And you also know what he still does. Every, fucking, day!" She kicked Syaoran hard, with every word, but Syaoran just stared coldly back at her.

"Jeez, Sakura. You're always so quiet. Why does he bring out the worst in you?" Eriol said softly, totally ignoring Syaoran and lifting her bag.

"Cause he exists," she replied softly, her tone wispy and hushed again. Syaoran gave a small cry of outrage, and, unable to restrain himself, raised his hand and slapped her, hard, on the cheek.

She turned and stared at him silently, and that, more than anything that had just occurred, affected Syaoran. He saw a deep and incredible well of sadness in her eyes.

"Why did you do it? I used to know you. What happened?" she whispered, shaking her head, and before he could see the solitary tear drip from her eyelashes, he walked away.

After school, Eriol drove them home. She shoved open the door and stomped in, eyes narrowed. Eriol walked up to his room and started blasting Linkin Park at a sound unheard by man. Except Eriol, who was, in fact, hearing the sound quite clearly.

Sakura walked outside and, again, sat in a tree, her art supplies in a small holder she had carved into every tree there. She removed the calligraphy pen, still crusted with blood, and started to sketch a blood-red harvest moon above a darkened wheat field. Every line came out red with Syaoran's blood, until it dried a mottled brown color and the ink died.


Admittedly, this is a new style for me… High school. But anyway.

How ya like? I thought it was okay, and that's by my horribly stringent standards… but if it sucks, tell me, kay?

Bye!

RentPhreakGollum

Again, a few renovations. If you have any further ones you'd like to suggest, hit me! I'm open for ideas.