Disclaimer: Cardcaptor Sakura is copyrighted and produced by CLAMP. The plot is all I own here, and no profit is being distributed in any way through this story.
Just a Hunch
For some reason, I feel very uncomfortable around Miss Kaho Mizuki. I don't understand why, but I am, and have been for a while. When this happened, I'm not exactly sure, and it didn't start when she returned to Japan. But nowadays, whenever I see her – whenever I think of her – I become very uncomfortable. If I can describe what this feeling is, I'd say so, but I can't. There's no way to describe it straightforwardly. But…
What am I thinking right now?
This discomfort is something I can't describe completely…but how can I compare it in a way that makes sense? Well, it's like whenever goose bumps race up my skin, and when this happens, I feel very tingly. I feel jumpy. I feel like I'm about to twitch in my muscles.
This is how I feel around Miss Mizuki today.
And the fact that this constantly happens does nothing to help me. And I've agreed to help her today, which worsens my mood.
"Hello? Earth to Sakura!"
My head shakes, and I stare blankly at Kero, who's sitting on the table.
"Sorry, Kero," I say and glance at the tray, which is full of steamed vegetables and a bowl of coconut soup with rice on the side. "I was out of it again."
"It's about Kaho again, isn't it?"
I look up again.
"How'd you know?"
Kero acts like I have a hollow head.
"You tell me all the time, and your mood's becoming predictable," he replies in a simple voice.
Heavens, don't I feel foolish right now. I should've remembered talking to Kero about my twinges before asking him, and now that I remember everything, it's basically an everyday conversation. Maybe, spacing out and constantly thinking about Miss Mizuki's interfering with me being able to think.
I snap out of it and look at Kero again.
"Sorry, Kero," I apologize once more and take a sip of the soup. "It's just that whenever I think of Miss Mizuki, I space out and constantly think about her."
Kero places his left paw on his right cheek and asks, "In what way?"
I stop and add some of slices of steamed carrots into my soup.
"I don't know, Kero," reply I and put the spoon down.
"Perhaps you should talk to her," suggests Kero, and my eyes widen in response.
"B-But how could I?" I ask. "I don't feel right seeing her, and I fear acting silly in front of her."
Kero chuckles and blinks. "Knowing her, she doesn't care if you make yourself stupid or not. She's open and loves cheering people up." He looks at me straight in my eyes. "Especially you, Sakura."
"Why me, Kero?" I ask, making a small hunch with my left shoulder.
"Because you both are very close friends, and she's always happy whenever seeing you. From what I've seen, you and Kaho are as much a tag-team as you are with Tomoyo."
I make a low hum, and I slurp up some more soup. Miss Mizuki and I a "tag team"? Just like Tomoyo and I? And despite not Kero saying that, he and I, too? When I gulp down rice, I think about it, much to the delight of Kero. The tingling and discomfort – quoting from "The Raven": nevermore. I must think about Kero's piece of his mind and ignore this discomfort, even though it's really hard.
Following sipping some water, now my mind's able to concentrate. Miss Mizuki and I as a "tag team"… Hmm, honestly, I've never thought of that, not even close. For some reason, it makes sense, a lot of it. Miss Mizuki has worked with me quite a bit some time ago and still does, and we're both very good friends today. As my eyes close in reminiscence, I can definitely remember the first time I met her. I sidestepped a cat and nearly fell down, when she grabbed my wrist. Then, the Maze: she helped me and my friends escape Maze's wrath. Follows was helping her clean the Tsukimine Shrine. And lastly, at the Final Judgment, she rung the bell, freeing me from Yue and helping me defeat him and become the Card Mistress. Time really flies, especially when no longer collecting Clow Cards or reincarnating them. She's really something, that's for sure.
Not more discomfort!
I don't want to have this feeling now!
I want it gone!
I shake my head violently, hoping to relax myself.
It works…sort of.
"Okay, I'll talk to her about it," I decide in a defeated tone, eyes open.
"I'm glad you are," says Kero firmly, his smile proud.
Once I finish my meal, I remove my nightclothes, replace them with a T-shirt and long skirt, and I skate away. Maybe Kero's right, furthering encouraging me to see Miss Mizuki. Now, I hope if it's a good idea to help her, after all.
I walk along my shrine and begin sweeping across the ground, removing any leaves that fall off the trees and blow on the path. A beauty they are, both the trees and their colorful leaves. It reminds of my other home in England, where my friend Eriol and I sometimes watch the branches sway in our gardens. Whenever autumn hits, the trees eventually become barren, and I have to clean up. Sometimes, though, I may sweep the leaves, make a pile, and I fall on them. When I dive onto the leaves, I'm reminded of when I was a child, when I used to run around playgrounds and play in the autumn leaves all the time.
Memories. The memories of living in my shrine are about as vivid as I can imagine. One event I remember is being with Toya. My, oh, my, what times that was several years ago. Then, when I return, the Maze Card caused trouble for Sakura, Syaoran, Meilin, and Keroberos. It was the first event at my shrine since being with Toya. Finally, I recall the Final Judgment, with Sakura and Syaoran battling Yue, who transformed himself from Yukito Tsukishiro earlier. All of these memories are everlasting, and I never want to forget them.
Wafting by me is the cool, crisp wind, and my hair dances along. Feeling this wind makes me feel high, like I'm levitating off the ground for a moment. If only I can fly like the graceful eagles and falcons, then I'm free. Free of my body and my soul, like a feather gliding in the soft wind that I'm consumed in now.
But nothing makes me free or the most complete than my friends. From Eriol, Spinel Sun, and Ruby Moon back in England; to the Lis in Hong Kong; to Sakura and her friends here in Tomoeda. My friends are what make me whole, what make me happy. But Sakura is whom I've been thinking about the most, especially since returning here. Whenever I think of her now, I see her as someone who is really special. She is really kind, smart, innocent, sweet, and funny, like most children around here. For some reason, however, Sakura stands out above others. I don't know why, but her charm and innocence really appeal to me and what make me see her as not only a very close friend, but also a reflection of myself when I was her age.
At last, the wind dies down, but I then hear a noise similar. It sounds like it's scraping of the asphalt outside. I eye the entrance in response, and the noises become louder. Next comes soft, pleasant humming, one that is as free-spirited and content as a dream.
"Hi, Miss Mizuki!"
Miss Sakura Kinomoto arrives, and in a pleasant attire. From her crown on top of her head to her elegant pink shirt and knee-length skirt, her appearance really matches her impression: bright and cheerful.
"Hello, Sakura." I release my right hand from grasping the broom and wave.
With her skates on, she approaches me, a smile on her face. "I came to help you clean up the leaves, as promised."
I blink my eyes. "I thank you, Sakura," I reply. "The leaves are a hassle sometimes, and it's a pleasure to have some help."
Green eyes waver, and I follow the gazes with glances.
"Where can I take off my skates and put on my shoes?" she asks.
"Anywhere is fine," I answer.
I notice Sakura looking around, until she spots a staircase to a shrine. There, she runs and changes into her black shoes, the ones I see her wear whenever she is not in school. As I look at her, I sense her charm again. Her smile and spirit still roar within her, and I can really sense it. Without her will and occasional naivety, she is not the Sakura I know. And I never, ever want that.
However, for some reason, I sense something else. I've detected it before, and I've felt it even when she is afar. I don't know what it is, but it's apparently making Sakura minutely uncomfortable.
When she returns to my side, I have my chance to talk to her about it.
"Sakura, are you okay?" I ask her concernedly.
She looks at me with a befuddled expression and answers, "I'm fine, Miss Mizuki. Anything wrong?"
"I don't know, Sakura," answer I, "but I think I felt something within you that is making you uncomfortable."
Sakura shrugs. "Sorry, I don't know what you're talking about."
"It's okay," I say.
I really hate lying to her. She's someone who I'm really close to. Heck, she's like a role model to me, a mother figure, and I fib to her! And the fact that she notices my discomfort towards her makes me sicker. Kero's right one hundred percent: Telling her rather than hiding it definitely is the best idea. Now, the discomfort remains, and it'll very likely become stronger later now that I've done something foolish.
Hopefully, I can remedy it later on. Yeah, that's what I'll do. I'll tell her later. I just hope it won't be too late.
"Where can I find the brooms?" As silly as this sounds, I don't want to think about it much longer. Perhaps this can help me…for now.
Miss Mizuki points to a closet to the right. "They are found in there."
I bow and walk to the closet. It's a little one that's alone and not inside any of the other buildings. It's made out of wood tiles – and from the wood, pine tiles – and the door is eight feet high and four feet wide. The handle is metal and curvy, and from how shiny it looks, it's constantly given care so it never rusts.
I grasp it with my hand, turn the handle, and pull the door open. Inside the closet are many brooms. The handles are smooth, and the bristles look prickly and new, like they're recently bought. I grab one of them, close the door, and approach Miss Mizuki again.
There, she's sweeping the path away of the leaves. Very colorful they are, and so beautiful. It's a wonderful day today, and the leaves only add to it. And I sense some reminiscence in Miss Mizuki's face. It's like she loves the leaves, too, and something's triggering her memory. I wonder what it is.
And I want to tell her, too, but I can't muscle up the courage to ask. Why is that? And what's causing me to feel uncomfortable around her?
Mind, I want to know.
I curse under my breath, and I begin sweeping the leaves. All the yellows, reds, and oranges twirl and glide along with the sandy dirt mixed in.
"So nice," I murmur. "It's a shame we can't use it somehow."
I continue cleaning the grounds, and there, the colors twirl again, and I'm beginning to feel the cold wind rush by me. If only I'm a snake, then I can taste the air. No. That's a bit extreme. Maybe a cat's better. Yeah, that's more fitting. I can sniff the air or open my mouth to meow, and the air touches the end of my tongue.
"Cats are magnificent creatures."
I'm sure Eriol's going to agree. I don't know if Kero will, though: After all, his love/hate relationship with Spinel's a bit bitter, although it's now Kero wanting to stuff Spinel Sun with sweets or Spinel making quips about Kero's gluttony or rudeness. Still, Kero'll understand. Maybe.
"Now, where can the leaves go?"
For a moment, I forget saying these words. It's like they escape from me, and now it's too late to stop. Thankfully, these words aren't all that bad…unlike that fib.
Ugh! I can't think about that now. I must talk about it later.
If I can make it, that is.
Although she is talking very quietly, I can still hear her. But because of how soft it is, I'm not certain what she is saying. The volume is too low for me to understand, and her back is turned, so I can't read her lips. But from the tone, it seems like she is struggling. And the fact I might have heard her swear, too, isn't something that I remember of her. She's really troubled, and I like to know what.
Suddenly, I hear a rustle, and I turn my head. I see Sakura lying in a collection of leaves near a tree, and she is giggling and laughing. Maybe she is not letting whatever she is feeling get the best of her. Nevertheless, I can't help but remain concerned.
Yet, her with the happy innocence— So peaceful seeing her like this, and I love that she is playing with the leaves. She reminds of me that little child again. Perhaps, it isn't too late to try again.
"You really like playing with the fallen leaves, don't you, Sakura?" I ask.
She stops playing and looks up at me.
"I really do," she replies and pats the leaves like she is touching a cat's soft fur. "Playing with the leaves is something I love doing since I was very young. Whenever I come across a pile, I wanna play with them."
"That's something I used to do when I was a child, too," I say, and Sakura has the gaze of curiosity. "Whenever I clean up the leaves back in my home in England, I make a pile and relax in them, sometimes for hours."
"Oh, you do that, too?" gasps Sakura. "Because I do the same thing, as well."
I chuckle. The irony among us is astounding. "Sounds like we're really alike in some ways." Apparently, we're more alike than I once thought. Maybe Sakura believes the same, as well.
"Yeah. Maybe we are," says Sakura, and from her smile, I may be right.
This returns my impulse.
I put my broom down, and I let my body fall, a smile on my face. I hear a yelp from Sakura, and I crash onto the leaves, my hair landing on my chest. The water from the leaves touches my kimono, my arms, and my head, and a little chill runs down my spine. The cold of the air and leaves relax on me, and I sigh in relief. The pillow really makes me feel heavenly. And with Sakura loving the leaves, I can't help but feel happier at that.
Then, something wants me to surprise her, and my smile turns devilish. Not something that completely catches her off guard, but one that inspires our close connection.
With a move of my left hand, the leaves jump in the air and fall on Sakura. She yelps once more, and when they stop floating, she was resting under the bed.
She pokes her head out and shakes her head. Alas, they've remained stuck in her beautiful tawny hair.
"Hey!" cries out Sakura, and I chuckle, my back remaining on top of the leaves.
"The leaves really look beautiful on you," I say.
She responds by making a small blush. It's really sweet seeing the shade of pink on her face; her charm remains inside her heart.
"Thanks, Miss Mizuki," Sakura says at last.
"You're welcome," I reply.
Then, her eyes glisten, and her lips widened into a smile. One of kindness yet is mixed with mischief. The next thing I realize, she throws her arms, and leaves that are once on her are tossed back at me.
I remain still, but I can't help but release a squeak of surprise as they float down on me. Nevertheless, I ought to have expected her doing that. A little payback is something she always loves, as long as it's friendly and won't hurt anyone.
Ah, the cold autumn leaves are now on me. They look and feel so lovely.
But it isn't as lovely as throwing the leaves back at her.
She reacts immediately, and we begin playing with the falling leaves with laughter.
For the first time in a while, I no longer feel so uncomfortable around Miss Mizuki. It feels so great being able to be near her without having the temptation to run away from her. Of course, I never did that. Running away like that is very inappropriate, in my opinion, and Miss Mizuki'll only suspect my behavior even more! I don't want that! Not yet…
But this leaf playing – it reminds me of a little fight between Tomoyo and I. That day, we saw the leaves in Penguin Park and relaxed on them. Then, I might've said something that perhaps caused Tomoyo to feel a little stung in her ego, and she responded by letting leaves fall on me. "Hey!" I cry out and push the leaves back. Afterwards, we giggled through our leaf playing. Miss Mizuki and I are doing the same thing, except no verbal comebacks are uttered. What fun!
Then, I make a wave of my hand, letting some more leaves fly at Miss Mizuki, but I lose my position and suddenly, I lunge myself at her. Crying out, I land harder than normal, causing the leaves to fly high in the sky.
"Ouch," I groan: My back spasms from the immediate pain. Why must I be so clumsy to lose my footing? And while sitting, no less? None of it makes sense! Then again, my life never makes sense, according to Big Brother. Well, that's life, I guess.
Around me, the leaves fall steadily down. Perhaps they definitely are beautiful, despite the crash.
I look down, and under me is Miss Mizuki, who is still giving me that small smile.
I yell out and back away. My cheeks blush feverishly, and I feel like banging my head on a pine trunk now. Gosh, why did I have to do that? Why do I want to humiliate myself in front of Miss Mizuki by being on top of her?
"S-S-Sorry about that, Miss Mizuki," I say quickly in a stammer, my pulse beating rapidly. "I didn't mean it, really."
"It's okay, Sakura," says Miss Mizuki, and she sits up for the first time since landing on the leaves. "You don't have to feel shy or upset."
I want to look up, but I'm still ashamed. Not being upset's easier said than done.
The next thing I hear is laughter. Miss Mizuki's laughing, and from the tone, it's content. It seems like nothing embarrasses her. Nothing. Oh, heavens, why can't I be like her sometimes, when I don't have to hang my head down over the simplest of things? But this isn't simple; it's silly. I fall on her, and she doesn't care!
It's now back!
Sakura blushing makes my heart soar. Like the innocent girl she is, she can't help but feel some pity for her mistake. I don't mind feeling sorry at times, but here, it's all harmless and fun. But she is still using her conscience, and that is one more thing I love that about her.
And love's something I've felt before, starting with my parents and grandparents. Then, I pass my love on to Toya, followed by Eriol, each briefly. But Sakura… Sakura is a great friend, and she's always been a great friend. She's one of the best friends I've had. The fact that I've known her for the past eight years or so brightens my life considerably. Now, as I've played with her in the leaves, and with my way of thinking towards her, perhaps my closeness to her is becoming different.
But, now, the presence is back. I sense it from in her own mind and posture, and it's the same behavior that she has possessed for the last several weeks.
I think now is the time to tell her again, and I'm not taking no for an answer.
"Sakura," I say, my face towards her, "is everything okay?"
Sakura turns back. "I'm fine. Just…a little embarrassed now."
I shake my head. "It's not that, Sakura," I say. "Earlier today, I think you were feeling a little uncomfortable, but I think you were afraid to tell me. Weren't you?"
She looks down, and her cheeks tint again. However, from the sad state she is in, it's more out of shame than embarrassment.
But the silence soon prolongs, and my expression turns into concern.
"It's okay, Sakura," I reassure, letting go of my momentary sternness. "You can tell me."
She makes no attempt for one minute.
At last, she turns to me, a worried look on her face.
"For the past few months, I've become uncomfortable around you. Whenever I see you, I want to look away. I didn't want to speak with you," she begins and makes a small gulp. "Sometimes, I really want to run away from you as fast as I can and hide in my room. But I can't get myself to do any of this, especially run away. You're a great friend, and I hate hurting other's feelings, especially someone's like yours."
I make a low "Oh," and she continues onward.
"But that isn't all. I constantly think about you, even when I'm not seeing you, and it makes me even more uncomfortable. I've talked to Kero about it, even earlier this morning, and he suggested that I'd talk to you." Guilt is added as an emotion. "And I'm really sorry for lying to you earlier today."
I see her head looking down, and I frown. She really is pained by her emotions, and I shake my head out of remorse.
"After lying to you, I felt guilty, even though us playing with the leaves helped me cope," says Sakura, looking at me again. "Still, it isn't enough, and I'm regretting not telling you before."
In comes a period of silence.
"And what's worse, Miss Mizuki, is that…" she sighs, "…I have no idea why I feel this way. I've got no clue why I feel uncomfortable around you. So, I ask you, Miss Mizuki…what's causing me to act this way whenever I see or think about you? Can you please tell me why?"
I look at her more deeply, and her green eyes scream, "Help me" vividly. It's like she is mentally tormented by it, despite being able to cope with her everyday life. From her expression and sad eyes, she really has no clue why she feels like that about me. She is desperate for an answer, and I think she wants one now. Not a throwaway answer. Not one that will confuse anyone or put her in a worse situation. But one that is clear, one that I hope will make her feel better.
And I think I've one.
"Maybe, you're in love with me," I say simply, but kindly.
Sakura's eyes widen, and her eyes enlarge.
"W-What did you say?" she stammers.
"I think you may be in love with me," I reply, my smile remaining small while remaining concerned for her.
After, she becomes silent. Her eyes gaze towards the torii to start, and then she looks at the main building of our shrine. It's like she wants to escape, or she is very confused. Her expression is not giving me any leeway other than making me guess. I think it's both, though. And she may be shocked, too. Possibly really shocked to where I can't comprehend. Now I hope if she is okay with what I've said.
After looking around, she turns to me again. Her face looks soft as a pillow, and her eyes are relaxed. I don't know what she is thinking, however.
…Wait a minute.
There's something forming on her face…
It's another smile…
But there's something different about it…
It doesn't look forced. It looks like one that is calm and sincere. It's like she is happy that I said my thoughts to her. There's no sign of fakeness or nervousness there. It looks genuine, and it feels genuine. If I can sigh in relief, I'd do so, but her face is one worthy of being the Sun. And the cheeks… Her tint is gone. The skin on her cheeks is of normal color. Any pinkness or redness on the cheeks has since disappeared, and they look shiny and as tender as a mother's love.
I now feel like I'm moving closer to her, but it's very slow, like time is slowing down just for us. But when I look down, I notice Sakura slowly scooting a little closer to me.
Then, her lips become small, forming a circle, and her eyes are closing.
I want to move closer to her, too. Closer than I've previously been with her. And with my gaze remaining at her precious face, I scoot a little to the left, wondering what is happening. Upon thinking more, there is something coming from her. It may be temptation, but there is an ounce of sincerity, too.
I think her feelings are now genuine…
And I think mine are, too.
Our eyes finally close, and I feel my lips touch hers.
I am in love with Miss Mizuki? She says that all this discomfort is because I'm in love with her? There's no way that can be true. It can't be true. It's impossible. She has to be wrong. She must only be doing it so I feel better. Yeah, that has to be it. It must be it.
I look all over Tsukimine Shrine, from the entrance to one of the buildings, finding a way out or a thinking of a portal to create some sense into Miss Mizuki's words and my own conscience. My internal discomfort's really grown, and my heart's pounding hard. I'm panicking my mind out: It's impossible that I'm in love with her. No way I can be in love with Miss Mizuki. There's no way I can be in love with her! There's no way!
"Maybe you are in love with her."
My mind rings a small sentence. It's simple and to the point. How funny to believe what Miss Mizuki's said if it's true. I must be going crazy…am I?
"It's going to be all right, Sakura."
I hope it's all right, the other of my mind believes. I turn to her, and suddenly, I find myself no longer nervous. I don't feel myself forcing a smile, and the nervousness within me has vanished. And my blushing's no longer here. It's gone. Vanished. Like a light going out by its switch…
Miss Mizuki may be right.
Maybe I am in love with her. Maybe I do love her, and more than a friend, too.
My mind wants me to approach her now. It wants me to scoot closer to her. It wants me to be near her. And I cannot stop myself.I move over very slowly, my eyes looking at hers. All this time, Miss Mizuki retains her smile, one that's so kind and so gentle. She'd never harm anyone, and her smile proves it. And those eyes. They're like orbs; they're so gorgeous, and with the sunlight reflecting off them, they seem to twinkle and brighten. I remember a famous poet writing in a famous love sonnet that, in the first line, says that who the speaker loves has eyes that are not like the Sun. As clichéd as it is, Miss Mizuki's eyes are the Sun: They're vibrant and lovely.
My eyes begin to close, and my mouth tightens, waiting for the moment to arrive.
And I now realize it.
I now want to be near her.
I now want to be with her.
Finally, we lock into a soft kiss.
Our contact is so warm. The cold air around us no longer exists; I cannot feel the autumn air anymore. Only the warmth of the both of us combines into one soft cocoon, something that didn't happen before. It has only started, and I already want to continue our kiss.
I let my arms wander, and they wrap around Miss Mizuki. Soon, I feel her arms wrap around me, and I'm within a comfortable embrace with whom I love. We are together, we are one, we are not separating. I'm with Miss Mizuki, and it feels wonderful!
I don't want it to end, but our lips do separate, and we're now looking at each other lovingly. The embrace that we're in tightens, like we want to remain locked in each other's arms forever.
"That was wonderful, Miss Mizuki," I say at last.
"Thanks, Sakura," Miss Mizuki replies kindly. "And you can call me Kaho."
"Okay," I chuckle, "Kaho."
Our brief laughter begins.
"I want to ask a question, Kaho," I say once the laughter dies down. "What made you believe that I was in love with you?"
Kaho closes her eyes.
"It was just a hunch."
Well, I'm glad it is a hunch.
I have an idea.
"Kaho," I resume speaking and clasp around her a little more, making sure she doesn't escape my grasp; and from her happy expression, she doesn't even want to leave. At all. "Can we go on a date soon?"
Kaho nods her head, and I ask, "Is tomorrow night okay?"
Kaho hums happily in response.
Following my cheer, we look at each other with prolonged silence. I let my left arm go and caress Kaho's long red hair, and she touches my crown in return. As we do so, I feel another sense of tingling within me. It's riding through my limbs and is climbing into my mind again. However, something about it feels very different. The sensation…it's not discomfort. It doesn't have the willpower for me to run away nor make me feel shy. In fact…it's the opposite. It's one of warmth, one of comfort…and one of love.
And I don't want it to end.
"I love you, Kaho," I say and wrap my arm around her again.
"I love you, too, Sakura," Kaho replies.
We close our eyes, and our lips press on each other for another long, soothing kiss.
This time, we are not letting go.
Author's Note: After looking through the search engine and character filter, I think I can say that this is the first finished Sakura/Kaho fic on FFnet. If it isn't not the first one, I'm still very proud writing this, and I really hope to make a further contribution to the now small Saho fanbase by providing more fanfics involving this couple in the future.
As for the story, what do you think? Review to tell me your thoughts on the fic.