Under Different Circumstances
Chapter One – Something Lurks in the Basement
By Crow Skywalker
Disclaimer – I do not own Card Captor Sakura, nor do I claim to. The show and manga belongs to its respective owners, and I am making no profit out of borrowing the storyline and characters for this fanfic. It's purely for fun.
Author's Notes – Hey! I don't know if any of you remember me, but I wrote a couple of CCS fanfics back in the day. I currently bought the manga and started reading it, and I started re-watching the anime again and now I'm really obsessed with it again. Which lead to me thinking up this idea. So, after a long period of time without CCS fanfic from me, I bring you this new fic. Also, if you're an old fan of my other CCS fanfics, you just might find some updates soon.
Warnings/Pairings – Sakura/Syaoran, of course. What else would I write? Maybe be rated R later on, who knows.
Summary – Under different circumstances, an eighteen year old Sakura finds the Clow Book. The Cards do not get scattered, Nadeshiko is alive, and Sakura and Syaoran are perfect strangers. In a life different from the one we know so well, an entirely different story is about to begin.
It was a beautiful day out; the sun was warm and the sky was clear. People were out and about, the streets full of people walking or riding their bikes on this glorious day. It had rained for the past week after all, and everyone was quite glad to finally see the sun. In the park, beneath a cherry blossom tree, a young lady slept though all of the excitement, the branches and flowers above making shadows dance across her face.
Dressed in her high school uniform with her hair done up to either side of her head using red ties, Sakura Kinomoto smiled sleepily as the breeze blew her hair across her face. With a tired hand, she reached up and brushed it behind her ears, her eyes slowly opening to greet the sunny day. Above her, cherry blossom petals fell like snow, and she rolled to her side to face the park she knew all too well from her childhood days.
Sakura was eighteen years old, a high school student in her last year of high school. Soon, she would be headed off to University, though she was still undecided exactly what she wanted to do. Until then, she planned on taking it easy, taking it one step at a time and passing the school and courses that she was in now.
"Hey, sleepy head!" A voice woke her out of her sleepy gaze. She's been watching the children play in the park, though her mind was still hazy and elsewhere. She turned her head downward to see her older brother walking towards her, and she wrinkled her nose slightly.
Touya Kinomoto was twenty five years old and currently working at different locations as a substitute teacher. Having finished school, he has decided to follow in his father's footsteps. However, that wasn't what displeased the young sleepy girl. What was displeasing was, her brother was her tormenter and had been since they were little kids. Now he was headed in her direction and she felt the need to groan and cover her head.
"What do you want?" She finally asked, peeking up at him from under her arms.
Standing in the sun with a suit on and a briefcase in hand, Touya grinned drown at her. "Dad's been looking for you. You didn't come home after school…"
Sakura, now fully awake, suddenly realized why she wasn't at home; why she'd fallen asleep in the park instead of going straight home after school. Letting out a small sigh of failure, she winced as she looked up at her brother, raising an arm to block then sun from her eyes "Touya, I failed another math test."
There was silence for a minute, and then Touya spoke. "Dad's not going to be happy."
"I know," was all she could manage. She winced, knowing there was a lecture coming, and she wasn't even home yet. This was exactly what she was trying to escape by not going home. However, it seemed to have found her.
Touya looked exasperated. "Sakura, if you were struggling with math then you should have come to me. I could have helped you study. You won't pass high school with the grades you're getting in math right now...how do you expect to-"
"Go to University?" She snapped, finishing for him. Sitting up, she let her arms fall to her sides as she glared up at him. "What if I decided I didn't want to go?" She saw him open his mouth to say something, but she cut him off. "Listen, I'm going to get enough lecturing when I go home. I don't need to hear this from you."
"Fine," he replied, giving in. He shifted his briefcase to his other hand. "Would you like to walk home with me?"
Sakura stood up, brushing any stray cherry blossoms or grass off of her uniform as she did so. Once she was on her feet and steady, she faced her brother and gave him an odd look. They hadn't walked home together since they were children. When Sakura had been ten, Touya had walked her to and from school every day. Now, since they were older and there was no distance between them than there had been all those years ago, Sakura usually walked home with friends or she walked alone.
"You done with your after school teacher stuff?" She asked, raising a brow.
"Sure am," he smiled, reaching up and ruffling her hair like he used to do when she was a small kid. With a small pout, she swiped at his hand, making him ruffle her hair even more just to spite her. With a low chuckle, he pushed her gently in the direction they would need to start heading in if they were to make it home.
The journey to the Kinomoto house was a short one; they didn't live very far away from the park, after all, and they'd lived there long enough to know all of the shortcuts. Through the park, across the bridge, and to the right just past the local corner store and down the nearest street, sat their house. It took them about ten minutes, in which Touya made small talk and Sakura simply answered curtly with one or two words.
From under her bangs of hair, Sakura watched him with emerald eyes, wondering what had happened to them to make them grow so far apart. She could never quite understand, but she put it down for them being adults now, both of them grown up and living their own lives.
Well, she thought with a sniff, turning her attention away. At least Touya is.
Touya Kinomoto had moved out of the family house about a year ago. Now that he had a steady job, he's sought out a place of his own. Of course, he didn't live alone. He'd asked his best friend Yukito to move in with him. Yukito was currently still in school finishing off his degree, but had agreed to move out anyway. He kept a steady job at the local diner while he wasn't at school.
That might have been it, she decided with a nod to herself. Touya moved. I had to move on without him…things changed.
That decided, she pushed all thoughts of her brother out of her head as she realized they were heading up the steps to her house, and Touya had just asked her a question. Confused, having not heard him, she opened her mouth to ask him to repeat what he'd just asked, but he seemed to have known she wasn't paying attention.
"How's mom?" He asked again.
Brushing her hair out of her face, Sakura looked towards the front door of her house and then back to her brother. "She's been kind of weak recently, but besides that, she's been fine. Dad's been taking good care of her, and when he's not following her around asking if she needs help with anything, mom's usually out doing her own thing. She's taken up gardening, you know. She's really good at it. Dad says she has a green thumb."
Touya nodded taking in all the information.
When the two siblings had been younger, Nadeshiko Kinomoto had been very sick. There had been times when she had been kept in the hospital under strict surveillance, and times when the doctors had said that she might not even make it through the night. She had made it, though. She'd fought through the sickness, and although she was still frail and weak, she loved every day of the life that she had almost lost.
Opening the door, Sakura yelled, "I'm home!"
The sounds of someone doing dishes were coming from the kitchen. Suddenly someone turned off the running tap, answering, "I'm in here, Sakura!"
Taking off her shoes and shooting Touya a glance, she made her way in the direction of the kitchen. He followed close behind, and upon entering the kitchen they found their mother bent over the sink, her hands submerged in soapy water. She finished the last dish before acknowledging them and turning around.
"Saku-" She stopped, realizing her daughter wasn't the only one standing in the doorway. "Touya! What a nice surprise! It feels like you haven't come to visit us in forever." She wiped her hands in her apron, moving towards her son to give him a hug. He hugged her back in return with a laugh.
"Mom, I was over just last weekend for supper," she told her, her long curly hair tickling his mouth as it moved.
She let go, looking him up and down with her hands on her hips. "Well, you should visit more often, is all I'm saying!"
Touya grinned at her. "I know you're sad that I moved out, mom, but the birds have to leave the nest at some point to start their own lives."
Nadeshiko shook her head, long hair flowing gracefully. "Nonsense!"
Tuning out their playful banter, Sakura's attention turned to the odd feeling that had been nagging at her since she entered the house. To Sakura, odd occurrences were nothing out of the normal – she did have the ability to feel ghosts, and her brother somehow had the ability to see them. That was a secret they'd both discovered when they were young. The stories Touya used to tell her about the ghosts he'd seen were what made Sakura frightened to death of ghosts when she was younger.
Now that she was older, they both still had their strange power. Sakura had gotten that eerie feeling of walking past someone who wasn't quite there quite a few times in her life. She liked to describe it as a cold, tingling sensation that made goose bumps appear on your arms and shivers trail up your spine. It wasn't a pleasant sensation, but she'd grown used to it.
But this – whatever she had sensed upon entering her house – this was something different altogether. A nagging feeling in the back of her head, almost electric, almost magical…
"How did your test go, Sakura?"
All thoughts flew out of her head and her heart all but stopped as she realized her mother was standing in front of her waiting for a reply. Sakura returned her gaze guiltily before looking away. Suddenly the door to the basement was very interesting to look at. In the back of her mind it registered that the odd feeling she was trying to ignore was coming from the basement, and she stored that information away for later.
With a sigh, Nadeshiko frowned at her only daughter. Sakura winced, knowing what was coming next. Lecture time.
"Sakura, your math grade needs to pick up, otherwise you'll never get into University. If you have to repeat the course you're not going to be too happy – all your other friends are gonna have moved on without you," she paused, bringing one hand up to her hip. "And it's a long wait to turn twenty one to enter as a mature student. Did you study at all?"
Sakura nodded, though somewhat sheepishly. "I tried to," she mumbled.
Nadeshiko pretended to look stern for another minute, and then laughed and ruffled Sakura's hair. "Just try harder next time, okay? I didn't do very well in math when I was in high school either," she'd leaned in to tell Sakura that last part. "And if your dad asks, I already gave you the 'talk', okay?"
Sakura nodded gratefully. Her mom was a whole lot more easier on her that her dad was.
"However!" Nadeshiko put up a finger. "No phone or computer for a week, got it?" She said with a wink.
Sakura felt like protesting, but then decided not to. It wasn't like she used the computer a whole lot anyway besides when there was school work to be done. As for the phone – that was another story. She liked to stay up late some nights talking to Tomoyo and her other girl friends, but she guessed she could go a week without the latest gossip. They'd just have to wait and tell her all of the news at school.
At that moment, Touya looked at a pot that was cooking on the stove. Effectively changing the subject, he lifted the lid and took a deep breath through his nose. "Smells good, what are the chances of having some before I leave?" He looked up at his mother with a grin. "I don't get many home cooked meals anymore."
"Do you have time to stay for supper?" Nadeshiko asked, one brow raised at her son.
"Of course I have time for supper, Touya replied. Then he winked, "Besides, why do you think I still visit?"
Nadeshiko laughed and Sakura rolled her eyes, silently leaving the room to let them catch up.
Supper came and went, and Touya had long since gone home to his own apartment. He's taken a share of food home for his roommate Yukito who, to Sakura's knowledge, was a bottomless pit when it came to food. She smiled, remembering the old days when Yukito used to join them for supper. Oh, how she'd crushed on him when she was a kid. She'd leave early for school each day with her brother just for one chance to see the older man. Now those days were long past.
Lying on her bed, she was sprawled out on her stomach with a pen in hand and a notebook lying in front of her. Thoughtfully, she was looking up at the ceiling, the end of the pen in her mouth as she tried to start her English essay that was due after the weekend. Most girls her age were out enjoying their Friday night, partying and celebrating the weekend with some underage drinking. However, Sakura had opted to stay home and finally get a head start on the essay she had been putting off writing.
Beside her, the phone rang shrilly, startling the poor girl. Sakura's hand snatched it off the bed before it could ring again.
"Kinomoto residence," she answered.
"Sakura!" A voice gushed on the other end, "What are you doing? It's Friday, and I'm having people over!"
Holding the phone between her shoulder and her face, Sakura kicked her legs in the air as she looked at her blank essay. "Sorry Tomoyo, I'm busy writing that dumb essay that's due in on Monday. I'm not supposed to be on the phone, you know," she added hurriedly as she heard someone pass her door. "I lost phone and computer privileges because of that mark I got in math."
Tomoyo didn't seem to hear her. "Why don't you leave the essay until tomorrow, and we can head over to the library and work on it together?"
Sakura bit her lip, furrowing her eyes as she glanced at her clock. It was well past nine o'clock, and she really wasn't in the mood to get dressed and head out. She was, after all, quite comfortable lying on her bed with a tank top on and flannel pajama bottoms. She had the heat turned on, and the room was warm and she was feeling quite lazy.
"Nah, I wanna get this thing started," she told her best friend. "But if you wanna meet up," she hesitated, something prickling at the back of her brain. Nervously, her eyes searched the room as a chill went up her spine. It was that same odd feeling she'd felt earlier, only this time it was stronger. Slowly, she finished, "I'll meet you at the library…tomorrow…"
Sitting up in bed, she rubbed her arms as if she were cold. Something was off – she didn't know what she felt within the house, but it was definitely different from anything she'd ever experienced before. It felt like something was calling out to her, something down in the basement…
"Earth to Sakura!" Tomoyo all but yelled in her ear, and she suddenly realized she hadn't been listening to a word she'd said. "Earth to Sakura! Where are you?"
Almost dropping the phone, Sakura pulled her legs over the bed and made to get up. "I'm still here," she replied as she stood and stretched her legs. "My mind kinda drifted off for a minute. What were you saying? I didn't hear…"
There was a sigh on the other end of the line, but Sakura knew Tomoyo wasn't mad. In fact, she could picture Tomoyo home at her house, shaking her head and smiling into the phone. "I said did you see the new student that came into our chemistry class today?"
Sakura felt a small smile tug at her lips. Ah, here came the latest gossip. She laughed, "I'm pretty sure everyone in the class looked up at him and stared."
"He was a cutie, wasn't he?" Tomoyo purred. "What was his name again?"
Sakura only half paid attention as she put her bunny slippers on, walking across the room. "I don't remember," she admitted. "I do remember the part about him being from England, though." Quickly, before Tomoyo could finish, Sakura added, "Listen, Tomoyo…I'm not really supposed to be on the phone right now, so I should probably go. If mom catches me I'm sure I'll be in trouble."
Tomoyo made a tsking noise with her tongue. "All right, all right. Is your dad home tonight, or just your mom?"
"Dad's working late," said Sakura, slowly opening her door and peering out into the dark hallway. It seemed her mother had gone to bed. "He'll probably be home really late, and I'll be in even more trouble if he catches me disobeying mom."
"Okay then, well, I'll see you tomorrow?" Tomoyo asked hopefully.
"I'll call you in the morning," Sakura replied, the nagging sensation in her head growing as she took a single step into the hallway. Whatever it was, it was a hell of a lot stronger than it had been earlier that day. It begged at her to follow, to find the source of her current torment. It wanted her to go to the basement, and she knew she would not be satisfied until she knew what was down there that was causing her body to react this way.
"G'night," Said Tomoyo, and Sakura simply pushed the off button and threw the phone back into her room onto the bed.
Taking her first step into the darkness of her hallway, she headed towards the basement.
To be Continued…