The Artist – Chapter 9
Yo. Back with Chapter 9. Thanks for all you guys' immense support! Also, I just started a new fic: The Higher You Aim. So check it out if you wanna. All right, without further delay, I bring you Chapter 9!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything in here that you recognize, but hey, you can let me dream.
Sakura sat at the end of the table with Tomoyo and Zinan again. It was sort of a silent agreement between the three that they could sit together without discussion of times before.
"So," said Tomoyo, "did you think about my offer?"
"About the kimonos? Yeah, I'll try it," replied Sakura.
"Awesome!" squealed Tomoyo. "Can you come over to my house today? Zinan's gonna be there too. We're gonna work on the project."
"Uh, sure. I'll bet Eriol can give me a ride," said Sakura slyly, pretending to let Tomoyo's blush go unseen.
Syaoran shot longing glances over at Tomoyo, Zinan, and Sakura, wishing he were sitting there instead of listening to the talk he now found so shallow. The topics: sports, the mall, Kinomoto, clothes, makeup, hot girls, hot guys. Syaoran had been mentally categorizing them, which in itself told him that it was time to leave.
"I'm gonna go and sit with them," said Syaoran, pointing to the others.
"Syaoran?" asked Takai incredulously. "You too? Jeez." He shook his head as Syaoran vaulted over the back of the seat, taking his lunch, and sat down next to Zinan.
"Hey, guys," muttered Syaoran.
"Decided to join us?" said Tomoyo, smiling.
"It's like a union," joked Zinan. "Against the shallowness of … of… of them."
The four of them chuckled.
"Sakura's gonna model my kimonos," said Tomoyo to Syaoran.
"Well, good for Sakura," said Syaoran. Then he made his mistake: pressing further. "What do they look like?"
Zinan slapped his forehead at the question. Tomoyo instantly started gushing about hem sizes and fabric types. Syaoran, mildly alarmed, opened his bento box and started to eat, keeping one eye on Tomoyo as if to convince her that he really was listening.
"Okay, so why did Syaoran just leave?" said Aiko.
"Must be to sit with 'moyo," suggested Meri. "They are, like, best friends."
"Best friends enough to stand Kinomoto?" said Takai.
Sakura had gone through another bout of Eriol's tutoring. He was so engaging that she hadn't wanted to fall asleep even once, which was more than Suzuki-sensei had ever achieved. She felt alert during math, raising her hand so often that a few students stared at her in surprise.
In Language Arts class, they handed in essays, and the teacher announced a new class project: a play. The whole class groaned in unison.
"A play?!" someone said, sounding outraged. The teacher rounded on him, and he shrank back in his seat, grinning sheepishly. "I mean, er, a play…"
"What play?" called Takai. The rest of the class murmured. For Sakura, Language Arts was easy. It always seemed to rush by, even with the whole of the Group there. Eriol was also in the class, and a couple of the skaters. Sakura knew almost everyone in the class.
"A love story," the teacher sighed happily. The class twitched.
"Wonderful," Sakura whispered to Eriol. "Can't we do something interesting?"
"I'm sure you heard from last year's seniors that the play would be one of Grimm's fairy tales, like Cinderella or something. Nope. We're doing a play called As You Like It, by William Shakespeare."
Sakura swore she could hear the crickets chirping in the silence.
"Shakespeare?" yelped Syaoran, to much mirth from the class.
"Yes, Mr. Li. It's a comedy, but unfortunately, the prose is rather complex. But I believe you can memorize it." She gave a thin-lipped smile, devoid of happiness, filled with something more like vengeance. "To find the parts, I have written the names of everyone in the class down and put them in two hats: One for the boys, and one for the girls. Here are the parts: Rosalind is the female lead, Orlando is the male lead." Without saying anything else, she chalked up the rest of the parts on the board, among which were Celia, Rosalind's best friend, Touchstone, a jester, and Oliver, Orlando's brother. There seemed to be, to the class's dismay, the perfect number of characters.
"Oh, and, by the way, I expect this play to be as professional as possible. And yes," she said, rolling her eyes, "that does mean real kissing." Someone wolf-whistled and she glared in the general direction of the noise.
"All right. Let's start with the female characters. As Audrey, the simple-minded goatherd… Aiko Watanabe." The class chuckled. Aiko shot them glowers. "As Phoebe, a young shepherdess, Meriwether Sanders." Meri winced at her full name and scowled at the teacher. The two engaged in a ten-second staring contest that Meri won easily. "And, oh dear. Well. We seem to have more males by far in roles, so some girls will have to play men's parts. Ah well. Celia will be played by, ah, Tomoyo Daidouji, and Rosalind played by-" everyone held their breath- "Sakura Kinomoto." A sudden outburst of chatting broke out.
Chiharu and Naoko, as well as two other girls Sakura didn't know, had to play minor male characters. Sakura felt quite sorry for them. Yamazaki was cast as a professional wrestler, and Chiharu shot him a sympathetic glance. Oliver, Celia's love, was cast as… Eriol! Sakura sighed. It was a match made in heaven, she decided, just as Syaoran was cast as the jester, Touchstone.
"NANI!? I'M PLAYING THE WHAT?!" he screeched, livid.
"The jester, Mr. Li. Please, exert some self-control. Honestly. Let's see… As the antagonistic Duke Frederick, Zinan Kudo. And as Orlando…" She drew the last name out of the hat. "Takai Kudo."
Oh shit, Sakura thought. No. NOT HIM. Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh SHIT! She looked fearfully over to where Takai was sitting, dumbstruck. His expression bore utter shock. She closed her eyes. She looked instead at Syaoran, who caught her eye. They exchanged a tiny, secret smile that made her get a warm fuzzy feeling inside. But this was no fairy tale. And she'd have to play Rosalind, Orlando's true love.
"I mean, seriously! He hates me!" she raged, erasing a foot soldier furiously.
"Chill. I know. You can just quit."
"Didn't you hear her?! This thing counts three test grades! Kaboom goes my average!" she exploded.
"Erm. Okay… Let's just keep working, right?" said Syaoran. "How far are you, anyway?"
"I'm done with the first half on sword fighting. The, uh, second bit, about hand fighting, I've done most of the sketches, but nothing really, you know. Big," she said, calming down slightly.
"Well, I've done 25 pages of the report. Then I have to do the, ah, bibliography, EW, and the captions for all the pictures. And then we're done, I think."
"Well, that's cool. When's it due again?"
"Saturday," he said. (A/N: It's not uncommon for kids in Japan to go to school on Saturday, poor things.)
"Okay, cool. So should we work on it after school today? We need to, like, choreograph the sword stuff, too," Sakura said, finishing another small figure in the horse stance. "Wait, hang on. Tomorrow? I have something today."
"Yeah, that's cool," he said. "Your house or mine?"
"How about mine? I've already been to your house."
"Awesome," Syaoran said, and completed another paragraph.
The pair worked in contented silence until the bell rang gratingly, and Eriol hurried over.
"You said you needed a ride somewhere?" he asked.
"Uh, yeah. I'm going to Daidouji's house," she said, shooting him a grin. "But I don't know where it is, crap!" Her smile faded. "Um, I'll go and, uh, find her; I guess… bee are bee." (…brb…)
"Oh. Well. Actually, she gave me her address," said Eriol, blushing.
"Oh really?" smirked Sakura. "Well then. Let's go," she said, and they walked outside to the student parking lot and got in Eriol's beat-up old Subaru.
They drove down the street, looking for the house, but they couldn't see it. There was just a long wall all the way down the sidewalk.
"Hm, that's weird. It specifically says this street," mused Eriol.
"Ah, I think I just figured something out," said Sakura, yanking the address from his hands. She pointed to a large golden number on the huge wall. Eriol's eyes widened.
"That's her house?" he yelped shrilly.
"Yuh-huh," said Sakura lazily, and threw the address back at him. "Dude, your girlfriend's got some house. It's like Syaoran's."
"She's not my-" stuttered Eriol.
"Whatever," said Sakura, and opened the car door. She grinned at the blushing Eriol and rang the bell by the huge gates.
"Yes?" said a voice through a speaker.
"Sakura and Eriol Kinomoto for Daidouji Tomoyo, please," said Sakura.
"Mmhmmm…" said the voice, and the gates creaked open. Sakura walked onto the crunchy gravel, and they slowly made their way up the long, curved driveway to the large house – no, not house, villa – and knocked the lion's head knocker. Tomoyo answered.
"Oh, hey, Kinomoto. And Eriol. Can I call you Sakura, by the way?" she asked.
"Uh, sure," said Sakura.
"Well, come in, come in," enthused Tomoyo, ushering the pair in. "Okay, I've totally got this all set up. Me and Eriol are gonna sit in my room as you try on the kimonos."
"Hm? That's it?" asked Sakura. "No measurements or things?"
"Ah, well, hehehe, I kinda made them before measuring anyone, but they're supposed to be really loose and fit anyone anyway. Except one, which I'm custom making like for geishas, so yeah, we will have to take some measurements! Yay!" she squealed alarmingly.
"Uh, you're happy about taking measurements?" inquired Sakura, their heels clicking on the hardwood polished floors. Tomoyo guided them up a marble staircase with red carpet on it.
"Yeah, it's always fun taking measurements," said Tomoyo, as if this was totally obvious. "Okay, in here." She opened a door and Sakura gasped. It was obviously Tomoyo's bedroom, but it was amazing. It was about twice the size of Sakura's kitchen, with a ceiling about fifteen feet high. The bed had a huge, soft, snowy-colored comforter piled on top of it, with more throw pillows than Sakura could count without moving around to consider a different angle. There was a huge yin-yang rug, redundantly placed on the dense white carpet. The whole room was either white or black.
"You like the colors?" said Tomoyo. "Black and white looks so clean, even when it's all messed up."
"Uh, of course!" said Sakura. In truth, it did look clean, but she had never seen such luxury in black and white. There was a sofa along the wall with huge Victorian windows behind it, letting in huge columns of light that illuminated the white stereo system, the white laptop sitting on the black-tinted glass table, and the white iPod plugged into the wall, charging. The TV in the corner was at least five feet across, and in a white cabinet. Along the far wall was a row of shutter-doors.
"What's in those doors?" asked Sakura.
"Oh. Clothes, mostly. Also some other stuff, but mostly clothes. Mostly clothes." She walked over to one of the doors and pulled it open. The rest automatically opened. There were rows upon rows of clothes of every type. Sakura's jaw dropped.
"Why do you need so many… clothes?" she said incredulously.
"Oh. Well, I want to be a designer, so I take a cute design from here, a style from there. I don't actually wear all that. Anyway, let's move into the room off my room. It's better for stuff like this."
They walked into the next room, which wasn't all white and black. It was full of beige and cream tones instead. Sakura got a start when Tomoyo snapped her fingers and a sofa swiveled across the ground on grooves scored into the wood. She turned on the rest of the lights.
"Okay, remind me what your mom does again?" Eriol said, as a large runway on the other side of the room was illuminated.
"She's a designer too. Modeling industry, clothing designs, you name it, she does it," said Tomoyo happily. "Anyway. Let's get you into these, Sakura."
She pressed a button on the wall and a panel slid back, revealing a line of kimonos, with all sorts of vibrant, intricate designs and varied cuts.
"Wow, you made those?" asked Eriol.
"Yep," she said proudly. "I like the dark ones best, but the pink's nice too. You can just change in that little room over there, Sakura." She indicated yet another door next to the runway. Sakura nodded, took one of the kimonos, and disappeared into the room.
"So, do you want to go to college?" asked Eriol.
"I don't know. I mean, it looks good on applications, but with this kinda job, ah, you don't really need to go to college, just a good eye. It's like music. Speaking of which, Sakura told me you played electric guitar," she said.
"Oh, yeah. I want to go professional, but I don't have anyone else to play with. No back-up singers or anything. I mean, Sakura sometimes plays drums or keyboard for me, but a two-person band isn't really. Well."
"Yeah," Tomoyo laughed. "Hey, my dad used to be a pro musician. We have a recording studio downstairs, actually. He and my mom bought this house. Maybe you wanna go down there after we finish with Sakura's stuff?"
"Yeah," Eriol said, his blue eyes twinkling. "I'd like that." He pretended not to notice her move closer to him as Sakura walked in.
"Oh, my, GOSH! That looks so ADORABLE!" squealed Tomoyo. "Tie it tighter." She got up and adjusted the tie on the pink kimono until it was practically skintight. "There. That is so cute. I actually made all of them on this exact pattern, so they'll all fit! That is so awesome. Here, try on the dark blue next."
Sakura nodded meekly and exited once more.
"Your sister is so pretty," Tomoyo sighed. "I mean, seriously. She should model or something."
"Yeah, she just doesn't like clothes that show her as feminine in any way, I dunno. She just, ah. Well." He coughed and pushed his glasses further up his brow.
Sakura walked back in. "I don't know if it's my color," she mused, looking down.
"Yeah, you're right. You're more an earth tone. Let's try this black one with the stars."
"So Eriol, how long have you played guitar?"
"Uh, guitar? Ten years, maybe a little longer."
"Really? That's so cool! I don't play instruments. I sing, though. Do you play anything else?"
"Let's see. I play, hm, saxophone, keyboard, guitar, flute, clarinet some, and drums. Oh. And I sing. But I only really practice guitar and keyboard, the rest are just like hobbies."
"That's amazing!" Tomoyo gushed. "You must be really musical! Do you write music?"
"Yeah, I've written a few songs," said Eriol modestly. He had, in fact, written two binders full of music, but preferred to play others' music. Sakura walked onto the runway.
The black made Sakura look beautiful and exotic, and the bright stars looked like diamonds, matching her smile.
"Totally. You are so wearing that. Okay, so let's see. Definitely this one and the pink. Hm… Try on the green; I think that three's enough."
"Only three?" asked Eriol. "But you made like ten!"
"Yeah, but it was mainly for the fun of it. Oh, there's the bell! It's probably Zinan. Hold up a second." She hurried out, muttering something to herself.
Moments later, Zinan walked into the room. "Oh, hey," he said. "Where's Tomoyo?"
"Uh, didn't she just answer the door?"
"But I never ring the doorbell, she knows that. I just kinda come in. Hm."
A minute later, Tomoyo reentered the room, accompanied by Syaoran.
"Oh, Zinan. There you are. Syaoran decided to come over and hang out. Syao, Sakura should be coming out soon." Just as she said it, Sakura walked out onto the brightly lit runway.
The other two kimonos had been nice, but this one outdid both of them. The kimono's soft green made Sakura's eyes stand out fiercely, and the light brown accented her tanned skin perfectly. She looked like a vision of perfection.
"Oh, hey, Syaoran!" she called, and hopped down from the runway. "I didn't know you were coming."
"Yeah, I…" he said, looking her up and down. "You look really nice. Who made that?"
"I did!" piped Tomoyo. "Oh, that looks fabulous! What do you think, Zinan?"
"Yeah, it looks good," said Zinan. "Like the one I researched in 300 B.C. about-"
"Okay, okay, okay," said Tomoyo hurriedly. "He's almost as bad with history as I am with clothes. Now, shoes!"
"Er, all right," said Sakura. How many can there be to try? she thought.
Ah. That many. Sakura was stunned. There was a whole cupboard full of shoes, some with four-inch heels that Sakura gawped at.
"Let's see. With the black, wear these," said Tomoyo, fishing out a pair of rhinestone-studded black sandals with, Sakura was glad to see, low heels. "And the green, these." Sakura marveled at the ease with which Tomoyo sorted through the shoes, passing pair upon pair upon pair speedily and immediately identifying those that would look good. These were heels with small straps, light brown in color. She chose a pair of silver high-heels for the pink. Sakura winced as she slipped her feet into the three-inchers, almost feeling her feet's arches screaming in protest.
"All right! We are so done! I'll do your makeup on the day, don't worry," Tomoyo reassured.
They walked back over to the guys, who were talking comfortably.
"Dude, Sakura! You didn't tell me Syaoran plays the keyboard!"
"Piano, actually," Syaoran corrected.
"Yeah, that. Would you play with me, downstairs?"
"Sure, that'd be fun. Do you have stuff for me to read?"
Eriol fished through his backpack and came up with one of his music binders. He handed it to Syaoran, who opened it. He frowned, sat down, put the binder on his lap, and started fingering in mid-air, humming softly. He looked up.
"You wrote this? It's got a really nice melody!" he exclaimed. Eriol blushed and stammered some.
"All right, shall we voyage downstairs, then?" suggested Tomoyo. Everyone nodded. Sakura and Eriol slung their bags onto their backs, and they walked back downstairs. They went down a short hall and opened a door. Sakura gasped. It was a high-tech recording studio. A microphone hung from the ceiling. Eriol touched it slightly, as if afraid to. Tomoyo opened a closet and took out music stands.
The ceiling was angled. Sakura assumed it was for acoustic reasons.
"You wanna record something?" asked Tomoyo. "I'm not really sure how it works, but I can set the microphone to hear the whole room. There's a ton of other instruments in the next room."
"Seriously?" said Eriol. She nodded. She opened the door, and they filed out. When they returned, Eriol had in his hands a six-string Fender electric guitar he'd found. Syaoran was wheeling a sleek keyboard, Sakura was grunting to shove a drum set in the door, and Zinan, bizarrely, was holding an antique-looking ukulele.
"Er, do you actually play the ukulele?!" asked Syaoran.
"Yeah," said Zinan. "I started when I was eight. Why?"
"Isn't that kinda like a guitar?" said Eriol
"Sorta…" said Zinan. "Why?"
"Could you maybe play the bass guitar?"
"Uh, maybe… Why?"
"Because we need a bass line, stupid," said Sakura, and shoved a bass guitar into his hands. "Look, it's not that hard, the bass line never really has a hard part."
Eriol shifted through his songs, and let out a small 'ah' as he turned to a specific page. He took out the folder containing all the different parts and placed the handwritten sheets in front of each of them.
"You said you sing, right?" he asked Tomoyo. "Are you good at sight reading?"
"I'm fair," she said. "Lemme see that."
Sakura quietly tapped on the different drums, Syaoran traced the song on the keyboard, and Zinan squinted at the music. "Uh, what's this?" he asked Eriol. "Is that a G?" he said, putting his hands on the large guitar.
"Yeah," said Eriol. "That's that fingering." He moved Zinan's hands to the right position. "See, that's basically what you do the whole time." Zinan nodded.
Tomoyo softly sang her part, with Eriol tapping on his knees and fingering on his guitar furiously.
"Okay, guys, are we about ready?" said Eriol after about ten minutes.
They all nodded and looked around. Eriol took a shaky breath. "You wanna record this, Tomoyo?"
"Let's just try it out first, see if we need a new song or something."
"Okay, cool," Eriol said, and nodded at Sakura to start drumming. Slowly she beat out the steady rhythm. Syaoran's right hand started the harmony as Zinan's G set in. Eriol played the melody with his guitar, and as he hit the last high note, Sakura smashed the cymbals. Then Eriol started singing.
I smiled when I saw her
What do you think? I said.
You just smiled back at me, and
Slowly nodded your head.
I don't know how I missed it,
That glimmer in your eye
As I turned to walk towards her
And slowly waved goodbye.
I thought she was the one
Who would always make me smile
I thought she was the only one
Who would be worth my while.
And I never saw you.
I never saw you standing there,
With that slightly sad expression
And with teardrops in your hair.
I never saw you,
I never saw you next to me.
And I never saw how much more
You and I could be.
You know, she's gone now,
And I never saw your tears,
And I find myself wanting to see you,
Even after all these years.
I wish that I could see you,
But I really don't know why,
I wish that I could see your face
And that twinkle in your eye.
And I realize that it's unfair
To be asking for rebound
When you're the one who I left
And not the other way around.
Cause I never saw you.
I never saw you standing there,
At our picnic on the hilltop
With the sunshine in your hair.
I never saw you,
I never saw you next to me.
And I never saw how much more
You and I could be.
And if by chance, I see you,
See your face when I'm walking down the way,
I'll tell you that I missed you
And bless every single day.
I remember when you stood outside for hours in the rain
And I never came
If I'd known then what I know now
I'd never let you leave
And we'd dance for hours in the rain
And we'd finally believe.
Cause now I see you
I finally see you standing there
With your eyes closed and your smile shining
And the breeze drifting in your hair.
And now I see you,
I can see you next to me.
But when my eyes are shut and I'm alone
Is the only time I can see.
Tomoyo's high, complex vocalization trailed off and Eriol started attacking his guitar with a solo. Sakura raised an eyebrow surreptitiously at him, but his eyes were closed. He hit the last high note, and then cut off the guitar's noise. Syaoran peered closely at his music and played a speedy, intricate passage of 32nd notes. Then he slowed back down to the simple harmony, Sakura broke off the drums, and they stopped.
"Wow, I can't believe you wrote that. Dude," said Zinan. Eriol blushed.
"I recorded it. Wanna listen?" asked Tomoyo. They all eagerly nodded. It was a short song, not longer than two and a half minutes, but the recording didn't sound bad.
"That wasn't bad!" said Sakura. "I'm impressed, brother dear." Eriol scowled.
"I don't know. It lacks a certain… je ne sais pas…" he said.
"You got synthesizers?" asked Syaoran.
"That's right! I did make a special effects part!" he said, shuffling through the binder and pulling out a sheet. "And a xylophone part and a strings part, but you know, that's kinda optional."
"Anyway, that sounded really good, guys," said Zinan. "And you lied. It wasn't just Gs. There was also an A."
"Oops, sorry," said Eriol sarcastically, and they laughed. "Oh, gosh! It's six o'clock! We've gotta go, guys."
"All right. Well, thanks SO much, Sakura! And Eriol, maybe you wanna come over and do it again sometime?"
"Yeah, sure! Thanks, this was awesome."
"All right. Guess I'll go too. See you tomorrow," said Zinan.
"Yeah, bye," said Syaoran, waving. Tomoyo, Eriol, and Sakura wheeled the instruments back out and put them away as the other two left.
"Oh, er, Daidouji,"
"It's Tomoyo, Sakura."
"Ah, Tomoyo… is there, like, a bathroom anywhere?" she asked.
"Oh, sure. Straight down that hallway, right at the end."
Sakura started to walk down the hallway as the other two went back inside the studio.
"So, Tomoyo, I was wondering, if maybe… you wanted to, uh, get dinner tomorrow?" blurted Eriol, turning to face Tomoyo.
"I would love to," said Tomoyo. She looked up into his cobalt eyes and brushed away a bit of his hair from between his eyes. Slowly he put an arm around her waist. She moved closer to him and tilted her head up.
The two broke apart swiftly.
"Oh, sorry, did I interrupt anything?" said Sakura apologetically.
"No, we were just, uh, getting his music binder," stuttered Tomoyo.
Sakura had not gone to the bathroom. She'd gone to say goodbye to Syaoran, but Eriol didn't need to know that, seeing as he didn't know that she'd kissed him, either.
Syaoran stopped in his tracks outside Tomoyo's door. "Sakura?" He turned around, and Sakura stood on her tiptoes and placed a kiss on his lips.
"Goodnight," she said. He leaned down and pressed his lips to hers.
"Sweet dreams," he responded, smiling. She waved and dashed back inside. She entered the music room and Eriol and Tomoyo abruptly stepped apart. Oops…
Eriol seemed to be bouncing on the balls of his feet as they stepped into the car.
"What're you so happy about?" Sakura said.
"I have a date with Tomoyo tomorrow," he said cheerily, slinging his bag into the back seat.
"Really?! Where are you gonna take her?"
"Uh, I don't know…" he said. "Wacdonald's?"
"You can't take Daidouji – I mean, Tomoyo, to Wacdonald's!"
"Oh. I knew that," he said, pulling into the driveway.
Sakura ran inside. Eriol dumped the keys on the table and Sakura slammed the telephone directory down in front of him, making him jump.
"Look for somewhere, idiot!" she said. "How about here?" She pointed at a restaurant.
"House of Stars? How is that a restaurant?" he said.
"It's under the restaurants section, dolt. It sounds nice. Take her there."
"Uh, okay," said Eriol, and wrote down the address on his hand.
Sakura looked up at the ceiling, and as she did so, mused that life, too, was looking up.
Hope you liked it. :3 Haha, sorry about the slightly cheesy song, but I actually made up a tune that goes with it, haha. Too bad you can't hear it... (:(
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