A/N: Cardcaptors is not owned by me. sigh
Syaoran sighed and dropped his head, staring at the pure white snow as he trudged up the mountain. Beside him, and slightly behind, a female teenager kept pace, panting only slightly. His eyes wandered until he was looking over his shoulder at her, and he raised an eyebrow.
"Remind me again why I agreed to come with you, Sakura?" he demanded, shifting the hiking backpack on his shoulders.
The teenage girl beamed at him, "Because, you don't trust me going alone."
Syaoran couldn't argue with that. When Sakura had told him that she decided to go hiking up Mount Fuji during winter break, he thought she was joking. As it turned out, his girlfriend had been completely serious. As an eleventh grader, she was old enough to go on trips alone, but there was no way in hell Syaoran would let her climb a mountain by herself. So, they packed up some gear and went together.
Since it was winter, just after Christmas, a thick blanket of snow had covered the mountain, slowing their progress considerably. None of the stations along the peak were open during the winter, as it was assumed that no one would be stupid enough to try and ascend with snow and wind fighting against them. Therefore, the two teens were forced to bring a tent and sleeping bags to camp out on the mountainside. The climb was supposed to take anywhere from three to eight hours, but they were only three quarters of the way up the mountain after a good twelve hours of hiking.
Syaoran glanced at the setting sun and frowned, turning back to Sakura, "It's going to get dark soon. Let's set up camp for the night. We'll finish this tomorrow, and be back down before evening."
Sakura hesitated, glancing up at the peak, squinting through the bright light reflecting off of the snow. It seemed so close… "Are you sure we can't finish it tonight?"
"Yes," he responded, slowing his steady walk to a halt. "Don't worry. We'll get there."
She sent him a grateful smile, and they started to set up camp. Syaoran was forced to put the tent up, being as Sakura couldn't figure out that the blue post went with the blue string, and so on. Instead, the seventeen year old focused on her strong point: fixing dinner. Within a half hour, the sun had almost disappeared below the horizon, and Sakura was merrily heating up canned stew over a warm fire.
Syaoran approached it, massaging his shoulder as he fell into one of the two collapsible seats (he hadn't wanted to bring the chairs—extra luggage, he said—but Sakura refused to sit on the snow and get wet, so he relented). He took a deep breath and rubbed his hands together for warmth, holding them out towards the fire.
"See?" Sakura asked. "Isn't it nice up here?"
"I suppose," he responded, but he couldn't keep the smile off of his face. "Are you having a good time?"
She nodded fiercely, "Yes! But, I wish that Tomoyo could have come with us…"
Syaoran laughed, "Let's see. It was either she come hiking up a god-forsaken mountain with her best friend, or go to lovely England with her boyfriend. Hmm, which would she choose?"
"Well, when you say it like that!" Sakura punched her own boyfriend lightly in the arm, grinning. Tomoyo and Eriol had started going out about two years ago, when the reincarnate of Clow had come back to Japan for high school. England had nothing more to offer him, apparently, but Sakura still secretly believed that he came back purely for her best friend. After all, why else would he ask Tomoyo out on a date less than a week after arriving in Japan?
"Either way, it's a good thing that I didn't let you go alone. You would have gotten lost." Syaoran remarked, leaning back and inhaling deeply, breathing in the appetizing fumes of the stew.
Sakura rolled her eyes, "How could I have gotten lost? All you do is head up! Besides, Kero would have been here, but he backed out when you agreed to come," she thought for a moment. "And I do have the Sakura Cards!"
"Yes, that's good," he agreed easily, sarcasm lacing his voice. "I'm going to put my girlfriend's fate in the hands of a bunch ofcards."
"Powerful cards," she corrected him, holding up one gloved finger. "And I'm not helpless, you know. I could kick your butt with those 'cards'."
Syaoran scoffed, but he was laughing inside. He wouldn't deny that fact, because Sakura probably could defeat him using her Cards. She wasn't a rookie anymore; her power had grown tremendously in the last few years, and even Eriol had admitted that she rivaled Clow Reed. Plus, all of the Cards loved her dearly, and she loved them back, thus increasing their power tenfold. Sometimes he would joke about how one day he would get dumped because she decides that 'The Thunder' Card would be more her type.
Despite the fact that he knew she could hold her own, he always felt better when he could keep an eye on her. If he could hold Sakura in his arms to protect her from the cold, he would, even if Firey could do a better job. If he found an opponent who challenged Sakura, he would battle for her, even if she had Fight on her side. She often called him 'overprotective', but he considered her too precious to lighten up on that attitude. Upon seeing this defensive outlook, Sakura's brother had even come to accept Syaoran, clearly satisfied with the fact that he would protect her to the death.
"Here, have some stew," Sakura stated, interrupting Syaoran's thoughts as she thrust a bowl of the steaming food in front of him. He took the bowl, giving her a thankful smile before picking up a spoon and beginning to eat. Silence descended on them as they enjoyed their meal and each other's company.
Syaoran looked up at the sky and blinked in surprise. Stars littered the black abyss, going as far in every direction as the eye could see. Up here, away from the city lights and noise, he could appreciate it much more than any other time. He glanced at Sakura, noticing that she was looking up as well.
"It's beautiful, huh?" she murmured, taking another bite of her stew.
He could only stare at her, "Yeah, it is."
She met his gaze, and smirked, "Did you just call me an it?"
"W-what?" he stuttered. That was what he loved about Sakura. The minute he let his guard down, she pounced, demanding an answer to an indignant question and watching him squirm to find it. Her personal favorite was 'Are you calling me fat?'. No matter how he answered, she always found a way to link it into him accusing her of being overweight.
"I'm joking." She assured him. Her intelligent emerald eyes softened. "Thanks for coming with me, Syaoran. I really appreciate it."
He rubbed the back of his neck, "You know it's no problem. Can I ask one question, though?"
She waited expectantly.
"Why the hell would you choose to climb a freakin mountain in the middle of winter?"
She laughed, "You'll find out when we get to the top!"
He sighed in frustration, knowing that he'd get no other answer out of her that night. He put his empty bowl in the snow beside his chair and stretched, standing up, "We should probably get to bed. We'll have to get up early tomorrow to finish this climb and start our descent."
"Okay," she stood as well, cleaning out both of their bowls in the snow while Syaoran put out the fire. They didn't bother changing out of their clothes: it was much too cold to sleep in pajamas anyway. Instead, they both tucked inside their sleeping bags, less than two feet away from each other, protected from the wind by their tent. Sakura was asleep almost instantly, but Syaoran stayed up for a while longer, watching her sleep soundly. He smiled gently.
I may complain, but you know there's no place I'd rather be than with you, Sakura.
The girl in question lazily opened one eye, snuggling deeper into her bedding, "Go away… It's too cold and too early…" she closed her eye and started dozing off again.
Syaoran huffed in frustration, gently shaking her shoulders, "Come on, get up. We have to finish hiking the mountain. This was your idea, remember."
She frowned slightly but sat up anyway, realizing that Syaoran was right, "Okay, I'm up."
"I see that," he chuckled softly. "I'm going to go fix breakfast. We're packing up in a half hour, so meet me outside as quickly as you can."
Sakura nodded, waiting until Syaoran left before starting to fix her hair and change clothes for that day. When she finally emerged from the tent, she only had ten minutes to eat the eggs that Syaoran had cooked before they took down the camp and started off once more. It was a bright and sunny day, but the weather forecast was calling for storms later that afternoon. Syaoran planned to be back at the base of the mountain before they hit.
The going was slow, but it was a beautiful hike, with pure snow and a blue sky all around them. Sakura held her own during the rough spots where Syaoran offered a hand, and he was once again amazed with her durability and strength. Other girls he had met would have stopped mere hours into the hike, but clearly Sakura intended to see it through. And Syaoran would be damned if he didn't get her to the summit after she told him her secret reason to climb Mount Fuji would be revealed there.
"You better have a good reason for wanting to do this, Sakura," he warned, trying to sound stern.
She saw right through his act, "I do have a good reason for wanting to do this, Syaoran," she responded in the same strict tone he had used. He sighed in defeat as she giggled.
Something caught her eye, and Sakura glanced around, curiosity teeming from her eyes. When she met Syaoran's gaze, he knew she would be asking a question. He waited until she spoke before cutting her off. Now it was his turn to play games.
"Hey, Syaoran, is it true th—"
"Do you always have to be so damn nosy?" he snapped, paused, then burst out laughing at her surprised—and slightly scared—expression. Once she realized that he was toying with her as she so often did with him, she clenched her fists, acknowledging the challenge.
"Are you calling me fat?" she shot right back, grinning in triumph as Syaoran abruptly stopped cackling and began stuttering a response. She wondered how long it would take before he countered with 'yes, I am calling you fat!'. She assumed years more. She had been playing this game with him since they started going out, and it still caught him every time.
This banter between them continued for another hour and a half, until Sakura looked up and noticed how close they were to the top. She squealed happily and picked up her pace, quickly passing Syaoran in her effort to fulfill her quest. He restrained from rolling his eyes, but began climbing faster as well to catch up. Even so, by the time he reached the summit of Mount Fuji, Sakura was enjoying the fact that she had gotten there first.
"I beat you!" she panted, pointing a finger at Syaoran.
He walked up to her, dark brown eyes concerned, "Take deep breaths," he ordered. "The oxygen is thinner here, and you could easily pass out if you keep running around like that."
She obeyed his command, slowly inhaling and exhaling until her pants slowed to normal breathing. Then she flashed him a smile to reassure him that she was okay. Syaoran smiled back, taking off his backpack and dropping it on the untouched snow. Sakura followed suit.
"Okay, now. We're up here. Tell me why you wanted to do this," he folded his arms.
Sakura beamed, "You'll see!" she reached into her pocket and pulled out the Sakura Cards, choosing six of them before putting the rest away. Fingering her necklace, she chanted the command to release the wand. After winking at Syaoran—who stood watching her with a confused expression—she called out the spirits of those six cards. Windy, Earthy, Freeze, Snow, Storm, and Cloud filled the air around Sakura, each watching her curiously.
Syaoran mimicked their faces, staring at his girlfriend, "What are you doing with them?"
She held up a finger, addressing the Cards, "Okay, you guys. I brought you up here as requested, so please go and have fun. Syaoran and I are going to eat lunch, and I'll call you back when we're done. That gives you about a half hour to do what you want."
The Cards nodded in sync, and floated down, each wrapping Sakura in their own element as a thank you. Once they had done so, they shot off in different directions. Windy disappeared, becoming one with the wind around the mountain's peak. Snow sunk into the floor, along with Earthy and Freeze, clearly happy to be in their particular domain. Storm and Cloud headed towards the dark clouds in the south, the first signs of the oncoming storm. Sakura smiled as they disappeared.
When they had all gone, Syaoran fixed his gaze on her once more, "So you came up here…"
"To bring those six cards," she answered. "A while ago, Kero told them about a documentary he had seen on TV, one about climbing Mount Fuji. They described the elements in detail, and he relayed the information to those six, getting them all riled up. I just had to take them up here after that."
Syaoran stared at her in disbelief. She continued to beam at him, and he blinked twice, "So… you came up here for them?"
"Wow," he shook his head. "Now I know why you were the new Cardcaptor instead of me. I wouldn't have even considered doing something like this. The Cards would have hated me…"
Sakura frowned, "Don't say that! You would have loved them in your own special way. Besides, I asked, and all the Cards tell me that they like you a lot."
He laughed, "Good to know."
She smirked at him, shivering slightly as a gust of wind swept over the summit of the dormant volcano. He closed the distance between them, wrapping her in a hug to keep her warm. She snuggled closer to him, and he put his chin on the top of her head.
"You're amazing, you know that?" he murmured.
Sakura shrugged, "I'm not the only one. I sure got lucky with you, though. I mean, what other boyfriend would climb a mountain in the middle of winter just to make sure that I was safe?"
"I wouldn't want anything to happen to you," he squeezed her lightly, and she pulled back, looking into his eyes.
"Thank you," she told him sincerely, standing on her tiptoes. He met her halfway, and they kissed under the midday sun on top of Mount Fuji.
A/N: Reviews are greatly appreciated!