Beauty and the Wolf

Chapter 1

Hong Kong…

What do they want from me? It's my stupid birthday tomorrow. Sometimes, I wish I were just a normal boy. Not someone who was "The Chosen One," someone who held the promise of the whole Li clan. Then, maybe I'll be like the other guys my age, go out with friends, play around, and be with the girl that I like. I may have a normal birthday, hanging out at cafes or even have a special date at a 5 star restaurant. But, here I am, tracing documents from ancient China and chasing demons that existed centuries ago.

Yet, if I were not "the Chosen One" I would have never gone to Japan to find the Clow Cards to prevent destruction. Then I will never have met … Sakura.

In the 2 years I lived in Japan, I have learned much more than I have in all the 10 years that I have lived in Hong Kong. I learned to love. All I want to do is be with Sakura and protect her for the rest of my life. However, I have kept my idiotic family honor and came back to the Li household, under the orders of my mother and the Elders. They respect me though, for I have changed. I am no longer the silent, "frowning" boy that I used to be. For now, I have learned things I never knew. There is a meaning of life, something to struggle and work for. Even as I wade through all the work and "missions" while I manage school, and extracurricular activities, I have a hope. Someone to fight for.

"Li Syaoran! Hand in your test! It's time to go!" The math teacher said.

I gazed in horror at the empty white blank space of paper. Barely half the problems were solved.

My friends laughed at me. Strange. I had friends. Lots of them. I no longer avoided company and society. I joined in with school activities. Even now, I'm not a very talkative person, yet I have my share in a conversation. Of course, there are not many people that I completely trust. Unlike other guys, I don't have the time to hang out over the weekends and after school either. Once in a while I do, but not often. I have no time to waste. It's hard enough to keep up with my studies, training (which is endless,) as well as all the tasks that are to oblige the Li clan and the Elders. People just think I'm terribly busy or just weird. Right now, I'm in the middle of tracing a half burnt document of Clow Reed's to try and prevent demons and conjugations from escaping from a complicated magic contract. Sounds complicated, right? Right. I hardly know what I'm doing, but the Elders "trust me." And if I'll ever go back to Japan again, I will have to get things done. Of course, I didn't tell mother about the time that I messed up and blasted half of the study room. Nor the time that I caused a thunderstorm in my neighborhood. Not even yet the time that I burnt part of a priceless, ancient, treasured spell book. What they don't know won't hurt them. Or so I tell myself.

I unbuttoned the top of my white short sleeve collar shirt of my school's summer uniform, trying to cool myself from the summer heat. We had a research project in the library. In some ways, I never want to see a book again.

"Hey, what do you think about that girl you sit next to in Math class?" Yuujin, a friend asked. I knew him from before I left Hong Kong. He picked up a book.

"The one with long hair?" I asked back, raising an eyebrow.

"Yup, the gorgeous one. We're all crazy about her."

"She's okay, I guess. Why?"

"Sigh. You're as clueless as ever, aren't you, Syaoran? I thought that you got better, ever since you came back. She likes you."

"Why would she like me?"

"Well, you are okay looking, though not as good looking as me." It occurred to me, not for the first time, that my friend was a dreadful conceit. True, he changed girlfriends every week. I do dislike those sort of people.

"Is the only thing in your mind, looks?" I commented sourly.

He continued, "Plus girls. And you're pretty smart, most of the time, when your mind is not wondering off in another planet. You're athletic, you're taller than most of the guys in our grade. Also, everyone knows that the Li's are filthy rich, though they don't show it. So, it's fairly obvious that she should like you. Anyway, what does your family do, again?"

"Uh…" I can't exactly tell him that we are magicians. That is, most of us. There are doctors, lawyers, and businessmen among the Li's as well, but…

"Anyway," he continued, "You're one lucky man to have such a beautiful girl chasing you.

"She doesn't like me. I don't see why you are so girl crazy."

"Well, you are dead clueless in how much attraction you cause."

Some girls were chattering behind the bookshelves, including that girl in my math class. She waved at me and smiled a 100 watt "sickly sweet" smile. The kind that girls give to flirt, and the kind that gives me shivers. But, Yuujin was half drooling.

"Don't let your mind wonder!" Someone pounded on my head.

"Ouch," I shouted.

Meirin, with her jet black hair swinging came to sit next to me. "You have me. Don't get allured by long haired girls." In a half mutter, she said, "And what about Sakura?"

I shot her a warning look, but Yuujin asked curiously, "Who is this Sakura?"

Giving a wide eyed, innocent look, Meirin exclaimed, "You mean, you didn't know? Sakura's Syaoran's…"

"Ahem!" I glared at her.

"Anyway back in Japan, there's this girl and Syaoran loves her. Shame, he didn't say anything. But that doesn't change the fact that he's my fiancée," she said, jokingly.

"WHAT??! Syaoran has a lover in Japan, and a fiancée?" The girl in my math class exclaimed. I rubbed my sensitive ears. In a shrill voice she shouted, "But he's mine! I claimed him first!"

"Wrong! I claimed him when we were 5!" Meirin retorted.

"What? You guys like him, too?" A quiet girl that I didn't even know, exclaimed.

"Quiet! This is a library!" The piercing librarian shushed,

"So, who do you actually like?" Yuujin asked, flicking back his glossy highlighted hair.

I was just about to answer "That's not your business," but I remember how Sakura dislike it when I said that. So, I refrained just in time.

"Is Sakura as pretty as me? Or as popular?" The annoying math class girl asked.

"Yeah! What's so good about this Sakura girl? Do you have a picture of her?" Yuujin asked.

"I bet she's ugly. And stupid," the girl said. "She probably tricked Syaoran into liking her."

So little they know. "No," I replied. Squinting my amber eyes, I recollected every detail of her vivid face, her melting smile, golden brown tresses and melting smile. "She has a quality that no one else has. She has a smile, that makes others happy as well. She has a personality that shines out like the brightest night star. She has the eyes with the depth of an endless emerald ocean. But most of all, there's something about her so that I can't help loving her…"

"Earth to it Syaoran. You are spacing off as usual. You act like so old and wise. Enjoy life and youth while you can," Yuujin said, waving his hand in front of my face and laughing jokingly.

I picked up a thin book, flipped through it, then slammed it down. "Little you know. It doesn't matter anyway. Things won't work out with her."

Yuujin picked up the thin book. "Beauty and the Beast, and other Fairy Tales." Sitting down, he began to skim through it. "Hey, this is fun! And the Beast…"

"You know what I hate about fairytales? They always have happy endings."

"Well, isn't that why it is a fairy tale?"

"I guess happy endings just don't happen in real life." I took the book away, and put it back on the shelf.

"Don't get all melancholy, now." Yuujin laughed, slapping my back.

"Shhh! No noise in the library!" The librarian screeched. How annoying.

The problem is, I've been drifting apart from her. Long distance relationships just don't work out. I don't think that she even knows that it is my freaking birthday tomorrow. Not that it matters. Yet, deep within my heart, I know it does. I wish with all my heart that I could be with her. Still, maybe I'm living in a fantasy. Maybe things are not meant to work out. Maybe I should just face reality and give it up. There is no such thing as a happily ever after.

Chapter 2

BRINGGGGGGGGGG

Great, it's the beloved morning of the stupid day that I was born. July 13th. I slammed down on the alarm clock, then snuggled back into bed, pulling the blue sheets over my head. Just a little longer to sleep, to forget all my worries…

BRINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG

Moaning, I slammed down another alarm clock, knocking it down to the ground.

BRINGGGGGG. BRINGGGGGGGGGGG. BRINGGGGGGGGGGGG.

Three consecutive alarm bells rang. This time, I really got up. Sakura always said that it worked to have 5 or more alarm clocks when you couldn't wake up. It certainly helps these days even if it is annoying. Otherwise, I would simply not be able to finish the workload.

Stretching, I stepped out of the tangled bed sheets and stretched. I looked around my room. It was almost like a typical guy's room. It was much bigger than my apartment room in Japan. There was a desk with scattered homework, a laptop, stereo, and a television. Furniture and this and that adorned the room. Sure, the clothes that were scattered about were folded. Yet, what differed most from my other friend's room was the sword, lying inside the closet, and the ancient books and scrolls scattered about. After all, I lead a double life. One is that of a normal teenage boy. Another is that of one of the most powerful magician in my generation.

"Syaoran, how far have you gone in tracking down the document?" Li Fuutie, one of my 4 older sisters asked, butting her head into the door, untying a white apron from her pale pink Chinese silk dress.

As I stepped into my walk-in-closet to dress, I mumbled, "I told you to not come into my room without knocking."

"Ooo Touchy on the morning of his birthday! Well, come down later. Your big sis has baked a cake for you," added Fanren, another one of my annoying sisters.

"Oh save me…" I muttered as I drew on a loose t-shirt from inside. For a moment, I gazed at the mirror. To my surprise, my face didn't reflect. Instead, someone with a silver mask, in the shape of a wolf stared straight back at me with sad, bitter amber eyes. A nerve wrecking shiver ran down my spine. My heart skipped a beat, and I shook my head, and walked to the door.

"Ingratitude," Fanren muttered. "The others are waiting downstairs."

"Yeah. I'll come down."

"By the way, this is a package for you. It came in FedEx this morning." She tossed me a white parcel. She left, closing the door.

I looked at it eagerly at first. Then I frowned. There was no returning address, nor any name. Closing my eyes, I felt for the power. Someone had put a spell on it.

Gingerly, I opened the package, with a rip. A leather bound book tumbled out. On the top, there was a note with fancy script was attached to it.

"So, you're back in Hong Kong. Things have went as I planned, while other things have gone differently. Overall, I am pleased, though I would change a few things."

How contradictory. This sounds very familiar…

"Well, everybody knows my twisted mind. I have sent you a little token of my esteem. Enjoy the book well. It may be a once in a life time experience. Even though it is your birthday gift, it offers me some good amusement. Yes, things have been too peaceful and boring, here in England. Now, the fun is about to begin."

It wasn't signed, except for the sealed magic circle with the sun in the center. I sighed. That sounded very typical of Eriol, aka Clow Reed. So, it's fun, huh? I fingered the green leather bound book one more time. There was no title on it. Opening to the first page, I could feel that it reeked out the power of Clow Reed. On the first page was written in fancy script:

Beauty and the Wolf

Stroking my chin, I sighed another deep sigh. Does he think I am some preschooler? It dangerously sounded like a fairytale. I had at least been expecting some difficult spell book of some sort.

"Once upon a time…"

Oh god. Please help me.

"There was a boy who didn't know love, who didn't care about other people's feelings. He was cold and frowning. When others were nice to him, he brushed it off. He ignored and shunned everyone. Though he didn't know it, he was lonely.

Then one rainy evening, a powerful magician, Clow Reed, came to this boy, who was often called Little Wolf. Clow Reed noted the his distant, aloof ways.

"Syaoran, do you know the meaning of love?" the great magician asked.

"Love? What is love? I don't accept anyone to my trust. All I care about is collecting the Clow Cards," Syaoran retorted, burrowing his dark eyebrows.

"Don't you even want to learn?"

"No. I don't need or want anyone."

"Then, I will curse on so that you will have to wear this wolf mask." With these words, he waved his staff, with a great sun on the top.

To his horror a mask covered Syaoran's face. It was a silver gray, like a wolf, and covered the upper half of his face, like the animal masks of the Masque Balls in the medieval days. When he tried to take it off, it wouldn't come off. It wouldn't even come off with the help of his magic.

"Let that mask cover your face; let it cover who you are, for the better or the worse. Suffer beneath a face that isn't yours. Hide away, cower from company. No one will want to befriend a wolf boy. You won't be able to escape from that mask, until you learn to love someone…" Clow Reed hesitated. "And that person must admit her love back to you. You won't be able to smile, or express emotions, or captivate her by your good looks. You are behind a mask that conceals who you are. She has to love you for your ugly masked face; she'll never know that handsome face underneath. For all she knows, you may be the most repulsive thing on earth. The only thing you can do is let her love you for who you are inside, whoever you are inside."

Syaoran collapsed to the floor, with his hand covering his masked face. His amber eyes were pained as he shouted, "What do you mean by love? How will I love a girl when I don't know such an emotion? Why are you punishing me?"

"That's what you have to find out. Your mind has created your mask. Find out who you are inside." Then, the black cloaked man smiled wickedly as his glasses glinted. "The hard part is…" A white light flared, and a single branch of cherry blossom appeared. "This is your time span. You must learn to love and have that person love you back… before the last petal falls from the branch. When it falls, your life span is over."

Holding the cherry blossoms, Syaoran's golden brown eyes widened. "But! Who are you? Why are you doing this to me?"

"That's not important, but people may call me Clow Reed. Farewell for now. If you are not careful, you may be stuck in that form, that life, forever. There is no other escape. That mask will haunt you till you find a way out."

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!" Syaoran screamed in despair as Clow Reed disappeared. He leaned his head against his palm, with his glossy chestnut brown hair clamped with sweat, dreading the wolf mask, he was forced to wear.

That was how the Wolf came to be.

Continued part 2