Stay Close, Don't Go
By: DEVILZ CHIK
Summary: One night, she accidentally managed to open up his heart. He didn't understand that he was talking to a ghost.
Waah, my first one-shot. Be nice. Please review, in the end.
I don't own CCS.
Li Syaoran was currently sitting at their table alone. He decided last week that he had better things to do than to attend his Senior Prom but his friend, Eriol, would not just leave him alone at the house. Syaoran knew he was meant to enjoy the night and make unforgettable memories with his friends but he could not bring himself to even smile.
Something was missing.
Dressed in a neat tuxedo, he looked absolutely charming. He had attracted so much attention from the female population when he entered the ballroom as a third wheel for Eriol and his girlfriend, Tomoyo.
Everyone wondered why Syaoran went alone and why he did not even bother to ask someone to go to the Prom with him. Well, he was not the coldest (yet hottest) guy in school for no reason. Some actually thought that he was going to give this night a chance but they were wrong.
Actually… at least he showed up, right?
Eriol just left the table with Tomoyo for a slow dance. Yamazaki and Chiharu disappeared half an hour to who-knows-where. Naoko and Rika were on the other side of the room with their dates. As Syaoran continued his roll call in his head where his friends were all currently located, he remembered Sakura.
Tomoyo's here so she should be here, he thought, not really dwelling on the matter.
Don't get him wrong – he cared for his friends and he was, in fairness, a good friend. But he was the type of friend who would respond when one of his friends are clearly in trouble or in need of his help. When he is convinced his friends are okay and contented, he would sit back and relax.
Just like right now – he knew everyone was here so there is nothing to worry about, right?
Except, he had not really seen Sakura all night. Well, it had only been an hour. Maybe she was at the other side of the room with her date.
Who's her date again? A soccer player or something?
Don't blame him for not really knowing. He did not really pay much attention on Sakura's life specifically through the years they have known each other and besides, he had already lost track of Sakura's admirers throughout high school.
He was not sure whom she had said yes to for tonight.
Syaoran stared at his empty glass and decided to get a refill of his cocktail. Walking up to the bar, he ignored the random hellos strangers were sending his way. When he finally reached the bar, he sat on a bar stool and ordered his drink.
While waiting, he turned his head and faced the dance floor. He watched as the couples dance the night away. Syaoran felt awkward as he knew he should be feeling something as the scene unfolds in front of him but he felt nothing. Another person would be moved by the pleasant scene but he was different.
Why was that?
It was as if he had gone numb over the years. He was not that insensitive, right? Is it wrong to not care about everything? I don't have to, right?
In his mind, they were only dancing couples, nothing special about it. So maybe for some of them, it was a dance of true love — a shared moment, but not really for everyone. Not all of the people out there are truly in love, so what was the point?
A sigh broke him out of his reverie. He turned to the person who made the sound and he found Sakura right there beside him, watching the people as well.
She seemed dazed at the sight in front of her. How does she do that? She could easily show what she was feeling inside and not be scared to let anyone see it.
"I knew you were around here somewhere," it was out before he could stop it.
Sakura looked up at him and smiled as she recognized him in his formal attire. As soon as they locked eyes, Syaoran noticed the enticing beauty that her admirers had been after. So this must be what they like most about you – your eyes.
Confused emerald eyes blinked up at him as he continued to study her face. She had light make-up on, and due to their close proximity, Syaoran could smell the hint of strawberry scent of her lips that she always wears.
"Why? Were you looking for me?" Sakura asked him, her voice slightly louder as a fast song was played, ruining the serene atmosphere.
"Not really," he replied, not really wanting to prolong the conversation as it was not supposed to start in the first place but he could not help it so he continued, "well, I assumed you were with you date so yeah…"
Sakura only smiled at his response. "I don't have a date tonight," she revealed.
"What?" he asked as he did not catch her words.
The exploding music coming out of the speakers were not helping conversations to run smoothly.
Sakura moved closer to Syaoran's ear and repeated, "I don't have a date tonight."
Syaoran only nodded and hid his questioning look and burning curiosity. His drink was finally ready but before drinking, he glanced at Sakura.
"Do you want a drink?" he asked her.
"No, thanks," she said politely and looked forward.
Syaoran just shrugged and drank his cocktail. He was tapping his foot along with the music. He was amused as Sakura was doing the same and was also rocking her head with the music.
After moments of silence between the two and after finishing his drink, Syaoran decided to open up a conversation as well. He did not mean to, yet again. But it was unusual even for him to see Sakura so silent.
"Aren't you going to dance?" Syaoran asked him.
Sakura had to ask him to repeat the question again as the music was getting louder. When she finally heard him, she shook her head.
"I'm not really into dancing," she said, loud enough for him to hear.
He only nodded and welcomed the tense silence between them again.
He let out a sigh and gave up trying to talk to her. They were not mostly alone and he had never been really close to her. Sakura barely asked him for any favors – just mostly math homework (which he did not mind giving to her and it did not require much effort from him) but that was it. He could even say that he was closer to Tomoyo than Sakura since Eriol talks a lot about his girlfriend.
Besides, only one thing was hovering in his mind, a question he was reserving to ask Tomoyo later but maybe it was better to ask Sakura herself.
"Sakura, if you don't mind me asking…" he trailed on, putting her attention all on him instead of the dance floor. Her lost expression, though, was telling him that she knew he told her something but did not quite hear the words he said.
Okay, loud music and conversations are the worst combination.
Syaoran looked around for a moment. He could still feel Sakura's gaze on him, expecting him to repeat what he said. He finally spotted a peaceful spot for them to talk quietly and he stood up and turned to her.
He was not even sure why he was doing this.
"You want to go out there?" he asked her, pointing to the garden just outside the ballroom.
He could tell she understood perfectly well and that she did not get any ideas from his request. Sakura only nodded and smiled and followed after him.
Not many people turned when the sliding doors of the ballroom were opened and shut close again. It was a tended, well-kept garden to say the least. Sakura's heels clucked on the stoned pathway to the benches. Syaoran kept his hands inside his pockets and as soon as they settled down on a bench near a tall tree, he opened up his coat and loosened his tie.
Sakura gave out a chuckle as she watched his actions. She knew he was going to drop the formal attire soon.
"What's so funny?" he asked. He was not offended he was being laughed at. He very much knew that Sakura almost laughed at everything.
"You're so casual," she replied, a smile playing on her lips. "I mean, this is a night to be glamorous and a chance for you to enjoy with your friends. Throughout high school, I have never seen you make efforts to participate in any school events whole-heartedly and well, make friends with other people." She paused, realizing that it was not her place to say anything like that.
She looked down in embarrassment and muttered, "Sorry. Forget I said that."
Silence fell upon the two again and what Sakura said got Syaoran thinking about his actions.
He did not really mean to appear as cold-hearted as people saw him to be. It just happened that way. He was more satisfied with being alone and had quite gotten used to it that he did not bother to even try and change it. He was actually lucky to even have friends. He opened up enough to let them in and be considered as his friends but that was about it.
He never talked to them about anything, really. He would go to the mall with them, sometimes laugh and join in when it was joking time but he would always be the quiet person in the group. Being the observant that he was, he would always just be watching, quietly analyzing why people behave the way they do and why their actions were so different.
"Sakura," he said, out of the blue.
Sakura jumped at the sound of his voice, surprised he was even talking to her after what she said.
"If you don't mind me asking," he started. He chose to go back to the question he had in mind than to ponder on his other thoughts further. "Why don't you have a date tonight?"
She didn't reply at first.
"I knew you were asked by a lot of guys, so why go alone?" he continued.
She sighed and looked up at the sky for a moment before replying. "I wanted to go alone," she said sincerely. "I can't tell you the real reason for it. Well, not now, anyway."
Syaoran smirked at her mysteriousness. "So you'll tell me by the end of tonight?"
Sakura turned to look at him and flashed her usual smile at him. "Maybe," she answered. "If you still want to know."
"I think I'll do," saying his thoughts out loud.
"What about you?" it was her turn to ask. "Why are you alone?"
Syaoran only gave her a look which she could read pretty well.
"Right…" she said, nodding. "You didn't ask anyone. You couldn't be bothered to even think about asking anyone."
He shook his head. "If you put it that way, I sound like an uncaring person," he said and Sakura was quite taken aback for a moment. That was not a Syaoran thing to say. "I did think about asking someone, if you must know, okay?" he pointed out.
Her smile widened and she shook her head. "If you mean thinking as in… 'hhmm, should I go with someone' and deciding against it, that does not count," she told him.
"Well, then my thinking still counts because my thought-processing did not stop at that," Syaoran pointed out.
Sakura looked impressed that Syaoran did think about tonight.
"So you actually thought of asking someone?" she asked him, her curiosity taking over.
It took him a moment to reply. "Yeah, believe or not," he finally answered.
"Who?" the question was out before she could stop it.
Syaoran did not know what to answer. Should he tell her the truth? Why did he even share with her that little information that he actually thought of asking someone? He would not have been in this situation if he had not said anything in the first place. What would he gain from all of this? By the end of the night, Sakura would walk away knowing a secret of his.
But then again, he did not really mind. It was Sakura, after all.
If there was one thing he was known for, it was bringing out the best out of his friends in his own, unique way. He knew that if he did not answer, Sakura would beat herself up for it and tell herself that she made him uncomfortable. Well, he would not let it happen since she was not making him uncomfortable at all.
Before he saw her, the night for him was the most boring night ever.
"I thought of asking one of my friends," he said discreetly.
Sakura cocked her head on one side and thought for a moment. "One of your friends?" she repeated.
"Yeah," he said. "I think asking a friend is better than asking a stranger, you know? At least you would have 'remember when' conversations. Besides, it's not like I have a crush or anything like that so yeah…"
Sakura continued looking at him, expecting him to continue.
He took in a deep breath before continuing. By then, he had avoided her eyes.
"As you may know, I only have a few friends who are girls," he began. "Actually, they are only you, Tomoyo, Chiharu, Naoko and Rika. I can't ask Tomoyo and Chiharu since they're taken and I don't want to get beaten up by Eriol and Yamazaki, although they're not going to create such damage on me," Sakura chuckled at this.
"So it's only you, Naoko and Rika," he continued. "I decided not to ask Rika as I overheard that the guy she likes is going to ask her. Naoko… as much as I respect her, I think she'll give me that look when I ask her and I can't handle receiving that look from her, you know. So it only left you."
It was a wonder how he could talk to her in such a light manner and was not even worried to see her reaction.
"You were planning to ask me?" she was shocked beyond being shocked.
"Yeah," he said sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly as well. "But I assumed you already said yes to one of your admirers."
"What makes you think that?"
"I don't know. I figured you would end up liking one of them back sooner or later."
"And what if I never?"
It went on and on. Sakura asked a question and Syaoran would quickly answer, forgetting to think what to respond. He did not notice the growing smile on her face as he went on with his answers.
She actually did not expect him to answer all of her questions. He did not need to, but she was quite happy she was getting answers.
After a few more questions, Syaoran had looked back at Sakura and finally met her eyes. From that moment on, he had no control of the words he was saying. Sakura was looking straight into his eyes and drawing him out.
She was trying to see his soul through his eyes. She was slightly succeeding until Syaoran finally gathered up the courage to look away from her mesmerizing eyes.
"Li, why did you really go here?" she asked in a more serious tone.
"It's a night to enjoy with my friends, right?" he smirked, repeating what she said earlier. "I believe you have the same reason?"
Sakura nodded. "And… Tomoyo's performing."
As if on cue, they heard the DJ introduce Tomoyo. The two ran back inside and joined he crowd. Tomoyo had not started yet. She was anxiously holding the microphone and was frantically looking around with her eyes for someone.
When the music started playing, she had no choice but to be ready. Turning towards her boyfriend, she breathed in deeply and started singing. Sing like no one's listening, Sakura's words ran to her mind as she sang the song. Her best friend would always tell her that before a performance and she wondered why Sakura did not this time.
Couples started dancing again on the dance floor as Tomoyo sang. Syaoran turned to his side, expecting to see Sakura there but she was not. He was planning to ask her to dance – he did not even know why. But thinking she must have went somewhere closer to watch her best friend, the thought was gone as soon as he came up with it.
Thunders of applause welcomed Tomoyo's last word to the song. She smiled at her audience and bowed gratefully. Eriol walked up to her to give her a bouquet of roses and she hugged him thankfully.
Tomoyo was fighting hard not to worry but she could not take it any longer.
"Eriol, have you seen Sakura all night?" she asked him as they pulled apart from the hug.
Eriol thought for a moment and frowned. "Actually… no, I haven't seen her," he replied.
Tomoyo paled and ran to their table for her purse. Their table was currently empty as Syaoran had gone back to the bar. She had seven missed calls but did not bother to check who it was. She speed-dialed Sakura.
The number you have dialed is out of coverage area. Please try again later.
"Oh God," she whimpered and checked her missed calls. It was from Sakura's dad. She returned his call and after two rings, he picked up.
"Tomoyo!" came Fujitaka's voice on the other line.
"Uncle! Did Sakura leave the house yet?" she asked, imagining a well-tucked Sakura on her bed.
"Tomoyo, I don't know how to tell you this," Fujitaka's voice was suddenly shaky and full of sorrow. "Touya gave Sakura a ride to the hotel for her Prom but on their way there, they had an accident."
"What! Are they okay?" Tomoyo had run out of the ballroom and was currently outside the garden where Syaoran had previously been, followed closely by Eriol. "Tell me they're okay!"
She was close to hyperventilating and her heart was close to jumping out of her chest.
"Touya's stable now. Sakura…" Fujitaka's voice broke. "Sakura… She didn't make it."
Hearing those words clearly, Tomoyo dropped her phone and dropped to her knees, not minding if her dress would be stained. Eriol ran to her and picked up her phone from the ground as he could hear Fujitaka's calls.
"Mr. Kinomoto?" he said politely.
"Eriol? Is that you?" Fujitaka's voice was hoarser. "Is Tomoyo alright?"
"Yes, sir, she's just… uhm, shocked," Eriol said as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders. "What happened, sir?"
"I don't want to say it again," Fujitaka was close to tears. "Come to the General Hospital, please. Take uhm, Li Syaoran with you."
Without any more questions, Eriol hung up the phone and checked on Tomoyo.
"Tomoyo, he said we should go to the hospital," he said softly to her. "Can you stand up?"
She sniffed, her tears flowing freely down her cheeks. She only nodded and let herself be pulled up by Eriol. When they entered the ballroom, no one saw Tomoyo in such a depressing state. Eriol, with an arm wrapped around her waist walked towards their table to gather up their things and went to their car.
Eriol safely put on her seatbelt for her as she was still staring blankly into space. He got in and sat himself on the driver's seat to start the ignition and to turn on the AC of the car.
He flipped his phone open and dialed Syaoran's number. He was not answering. He turned to Tomoyo. "Can you stay here for a while?" he didn't receive an answer. "I need to call Syaoran. Mr. Kinomoto said we should bring him along as well. I'll be back soon."
He ran back to the ballroom of the hotel and looked for Syaoran. Syaoran was still at the bar silently watching the dance floor. When he saw Eriol approaching him, he stood up and greeted his friend, "Where's Tomoyo? I need to congratulate her for an awesome performance."
Eriol was panting and when he finally caught his breath, "she's in the car. We need to go to the hospital," he paused, taking in a deep breath. "Something bad must have happened to Sakura."
Syaoran looked at him crossly. "That's not a good joke, man!" he said. "I was just with Sakura!"
"What!" Eriol almost screamed. "Tomoyo and I haven't seen her! And anyway, I think we should really go to the hospital. Tomoyo's in shock, man."
Hearing Tomoyo in a bad condition, Syaoran quickly followed Eriol back to the car.
It was a silent ride all in all. Syaoran had never seen Tomoyo in such a state. Eriol was giving her constant glances as he sped up to the hospital. Still no change on her condition.
When they finally arrived at the hospital though and as soon as Eriol parked the car, Tomoyo was the first one out of the car. Eriol and Syaoran had to run to catch up to her.
"No! Uncle! That cannot be true!" they heard Tomoyo's scream echo down the hall. They followed the sound of the voice and finally saw Tomoyo with Fujitaka. Tomoyo was holding on to Fujitaka's shirt while the old man only held her shoulders, looking away from her.
Eriol tried his best to make Tomoyo let go of Fujitaka and to calm her down. When the two sat down, Tomoyo cried on Eriol's chest endlessly and the only thing Eriol could do was to hug her and comfort her from something he was not sure of.
"What happened, sir?" Syaoran asked Fujitaka quietly.
"Sakura…" his voice broke just like he did when he told Tomoyo on the phone. "Sakura… passed away."
Syaoran huffed and looked at the man in front of him incredulously. He did not believe him but he could not control the fast beating of his heart and the sudden heaviness of his chest.
"That's ridiculous!" he bellowed. "I was with Sakura all night!" Hearing this, Tomoyo's head perked up to listen to him, tears shining in her eyes. "I talked to her. We talked! She even said she went to the Prom to watch Tomoyo."
Fujitaka listened to him quietly but sat down eventually to hold his head that was now in pain.
"Sakura never made it to her Prom," he mumbled but the teenagers heard it.
"No!" Syaoran rambled on. "She was there! I… saw her! She asked me questions and I was answering her non-stop. She was… smiling and happy. She… she… She can't be gone!"
Silence followed. Tomoyo was crying silently now and Eriol just could not believe what he just heard. He held on to Tomoyo and shared the pain she was feeling.
"What's the number of the hotel?" Syaoran asked Eriol.
"What do you need it for?" Eriol asked him back.
"I'm going to call the bartender," Syaoran replied, tears starting to gather up his eyes but he refused to let it fall. "I saw Sakura at the bar. He must have seen her too."
"Let me call," Fujitaka offered and stood up. "By the way, there were letters in Sakura's purse for all of you." He reached to his pocket and handed each letter to them.
Tomoyo received it with shaking hands. It was a short letter and she burst into tears after reading it.
Dance, like no one's watching
Sing, like no one's listening
Love, like you've never been hurt
Live, like it's heaven on earth
Eriol's letter was short as well and only contained one sentence. He had to smile after reading it, imagining Sakura's face as if she'd said it to him personally.
Always take care of Tomoyo or else…
Syaoran's letter, though, was pretty long. He dropped to the ground and rested his back on the wall as he read the letter and kept wondering if the night had been real. If he had really been with Sakura.
I can't even call you by your first name! What great friends we are.
Well, just want to thank you for being the way you are and for staying true to others. You haven't been known to lie, ne? You're always the blunt and straight-forward guy. It makes me wonder why you haven't called me 'stupid' for always borrowing your math homework.
Who knows what will exactly happen after we all graduate? Well, we all promised to keep in touch but how long will it last? No one knows, right? I want us to go to our separate ways without me regretting not telling you what I'm about to tell you in this letter.
And you know I'm not much of a writer. I'm more confident delivering my words personally but when it comes to this kind of thing, I don't think so. I've tried walking up to you and telling you all of this but I always find me backing away and not doing it. Well, I hope this will make sense.
When I face you, I face a wall – hard and cold yet strong and dependable. Your stare is intense and I don't even think that you are aware of it. The cold and rough attitude you keep everyday does not fool me, though. You're a mystery and I'd like to solve it. But I shouldn't have tried… if I didn't I wouldn't have failed.
I can't keep up with you. You don't let anyone in. Believe it or not – one of my life goals includes making you smile and cry at the same time but is it even possible? We haven't been the closest friends but I hope we were. Actually, I don't even think it would have mattered because in the long run, I'd loved you. I'm in love with you.
I love you.
I hope that's okay.
The letter ended with Sakura's signature on the bottom. He touched the part where her name was.
"What dress was she wearing when you saw her?" Tomoyo suddenly asked him, noticing that he had finished reading the letter.
He thought about it. He recalled the night's events quickly and he found himself going back seeing Sakura's undying smile.
"It was white," he replied. "Her hair was half-tied up and her bangs were curled on the sides of her face. She looked… really pretty."
Fresh tears came to Tomoyo's eyes as she listened. "Li," she said softly, not letting the tears fall. "Her dress was pink."
"What!" he shouted and stood up abruptly. "NO! How would you know? You didn't even see her!"
"I designed her dress for tonight," Tomoyo explained.
Just in time, Fujitaka appeared at the hallway. "The bartender said he only saw you," the man told Syaoran. "And that… you were talking to yourself for a while and then, you went to the garden."
"That's not true!" Syaoran shouted again, forgetting the fact that he was talking to an older man. "I was with Sakura!"
"Xiao Lang," Eriol said softly to his distant cousin and friend. "You must have just–"
Syaoran cut him off. "Must have just what? Imagined her? NO!" he said stubbornly, his grip on the letter tightening. "Kinomoto-san, what dress was Sakura wearing?"
"It was pink," Fujitaka replied. "She looked adorable," the man said in a daze. "She said Tomoyo designed it for her – I guess, that's why she really liked it."
Tomoyo sobbed again in Eriol's chest. Syaoran merely looked at her and mumbled a soft apology. She looked up at him to say it was okay and went back to Eriol's embrace.
Fujitaka was then called inside Touya's room, informing him his son was awake and wished to talk to him. Syaoran just sat there and read the letter over and over again.
You're a mystery and I'd like to solve it.
Why didn't he notice? Wasn't he supposed to always be watching? He was supposed to observe everything that goes around him and yet, he missed the fact that one of his friends was trying to figure him out.
Minutes later, Fujitaka went out of the room. "Touya wishes to speak with you," he told Syaoran.
Syaoran looked at him, definitely confused but went inside the room nonetheless. He never knew Sakura's brother. He met him, yes, and had the privilege of having a glaring contest with him. It was when he and Sakura accidentally switched Math notebooks and Syaoran was kind enough to deliver it back to Sakura's house.
When he entered the room, he could feel the sadness around Touya.
"Sit down, kid," Touya said gruffly. "I have something to tell you."
Syaoran sat down.
"Do you want to know why Sakura didn't have a date tonight?" Touya asked.
Instead of answering, he remembered that Sakura told him that she was going to tell him the reason by the end of tonight. If he was with Sakura's ghost earlier, did she mean that he was going to know through Touya?
Syaoran only nodded.
"She told me that it didn't matter if she didn't have a date," Touya said, recalling the words of her sister while they were in the car. "She said she was going to spend it with you anyway. She said she would feel happy if she gets to spend the night with you." Touya said no more and from across the bed, Syaoran saw Sakura looking down at Touya.
Syaoran turned to Touya to see if he'd noticed her but he didn't make a move. Sakura turned to look at Syaoran.
"I guess you found out the reason," she said softly and winked at him. She was slowly disappearing. "Tell Tomoyo she sang really well tonight and that I apologize for not being physically there." She was then less than a blur. "I'll always be with you."
Her last sentence sounded like the wind. He stood up to try and reach out to her but he suddenly remembered the other person in the room. He gave up and politely excused himself.
Syaoran went his way outside the hospital. It was slightly raining so he stayed at the parking lot, by their car. With the little light in the parking lot, he reread the letter again.
I love you.
I hope that's okay.
Without knowing, a tear slid off his cheek. He felt it and wiped it away but more tears followed. His lips then cracked into a small smile.
"Yeah, it's okay," he whispered to the wind as he saw Sakura appear in front of him.
Thanks for reading!
xx DEVILZ CHIK