Summary:

Syaoran must protect Sakura from a dangerous future they will share, but, at his current level he cannot do so properly. The solution? Send him to England for strict study under the ever confusing Eriol. Hopefully this won't end badly, but, judging by the way things are going…it just might.

Warning tags: E/Sy, swearing, angst, blood (tags will change with each chapter)

Author's note:

Wow, I take a three month break and what do I get? People begging for moar, is what. *ahem* like…uh…how I was in school and writing actual novels and how my roomie's computer crapped itself inside out, delaying further roleplay sessions. Still, I cannot deny that I was being a bit lazy in fixing up this chapter.

Also, I'll be posting an original story on AFF (adultfanfiction) and will be posting a link to that once enough chapters and up and pretty looking. It's yaoi for those curious, and plenty angsty...But first! I gotta write more than four chapters for the damn thing. Alright, enough shameless self-promotion.

Now for the wonderful reviews. I've probably responded to most of these in emails but I'll do it again here, because I'm just that cool.

Priestess Catatonia: I'm pretty sure I thanked you already, but I might as well do it again. You were our first reviewer and even reviewed again, threatening to 'rope people in'! XD Thanks for your continued support for our lonely little fic.

Flowing Distance: Haha, yea Eriol is a bastard. I hope I represent him well in roleplay. He's definitely one of the more complex ones, what with his hidden motives and all that. To Syaoran, he must seem like a colossal jerkoff. Oh well, we can't all read minds.

Lord Youko: Yes, it will be completed, come hell or high water. As for the lemons, yes, more are coming and details will not be spared. I just don't like two people having sex for no reason. PWP isn't much of my thing.

Ninor-san: Yes, angst and lemon seem to go well together. Much like tequila and lemon :3

Kuropie: Thank you and here you go! Update…engage!

Sorrow: Thank you! Yes, chapter six is defiantly one of my favorites. I loved the raw emotion there.

MoonlessRoad: WOAH! NO don't die! Oh God, Oh God! Hold on, I know CPR! Ha ha, yea chapter six seems to be pretty popular. It worries me, because I don't know if the other chapters will live up to it…oh well.

Disclaimer: This document is intended for public viewing and is solely for personal enjoyment. It should neither be considered an authoritative source nor an official publication of the creators and their affiliates.

If I owned CCS, I would be sailing on my yacht, right now.

Chapter 7 – The First Gate

Eriol sat, not too calmly, in a lounge chair, several books piled high next to him. He had tried forcing his way through several but only grew in anger as each failed to distract him long enough. Eventually, he threw slammed the last of them shut, a disgusted sigh escaping as he thought of what had transpired earlier.

Congratulations, Eriol. You won. You broke him completely.

"I already said it was necessary for moving ahead, didn't I? Silver cannot be beautiful if it is not thrust into the fire."

He is a boy, not jewelry—unless, of course, you want to view him that way. That's quite alright. You don't mind.

"I do mind."

Really?

Even his own inner voice sounded surprised. He did mind? The cold, heartless Eriol, did, in fact, have feelings?

What are you going to do now?

"Do what I planned in the beginning. I will build him up again."

He hates you.

The mage paused, feeling his chest tighten. "If that's what he wants, then fine. It will teach him not to open his mind so easily. That is his problem. He trusts people far too quickly."

Those are some fast excuses you pulled out. They must have been in reserve. Are they making you feel better about what you did?

Instead of answering, the bespectacled male sat in silence, willing all thought away.

Syaoran paced the veranda adjacent to his room, thoughts raging in his skull. It was tiring—all the thinking. He sighed heavily as he stopped and folded his arms on the railing. Nakuru and Spinel were still out, so he had no one to console after the abrupt…attack?...he had received from Eriol. "Bastard truly is heartless...Part of me wishes he would die…or at least feel an ounce of the pain he causes other people." Syaoran muttered to himself, pushing away from the metal bars and taking his leave of the bedroom to enter the music room. He hoped that some of the mage's tomes would ease his mind and at least distract him for a little while before having to face the man again. Something he was far from looking forward to. So with his nose buried in a book he reclined himself on the bench seat by the window, using moonlight and fireplace for lighting.

Sweeping down the staircase, Eriol felt himself slow toward the bottom. He had fled his study, hoping to avoid the voice that taunted him, although, deep down he knew it was fruitless to run from your own head. For his next actions, he was at a loss. He couldn't very well pursue Syaoran and continue their training. Could he? Perhaps if forced...Eriol could very easily force him into training. No. What he wanted to do could not be forced.

Glancing at a tall grandfather clock that marked, not hours and minutes, but days, years and centuries, his brows furrowed in concern. "Never mind if he hates me. We need to get moving." There was an overwhelming sense of dread he had carried recently as one of the twisted hands of the clock approached a dark patch on its face. Not even fate could answer what would happen then.

Eriol did not need to guess where his student was, and immediately headed for the music room, stopping only when he saw the boy, once again, buried in a weathered book.

Syaoran hadn't noticed Eriol's presence right then as he was very enveloped in the book he was reading. The mage felt his stomach clench when the boy shifted uncomfortably and rubbed at the nail marks left on his throat.

"Syaoran…"

The boy's eyes immediately snapped up from the text, darkening considerably. "What?" Short and full of as much anger as Syaoran could manage.

In turn, the mage, said nothing, and instead locked the door to the room and sat at the piano. He began a slow song, rather simple sounding, but deceptively complex. "Make yourself comfortable," he added absentmindedly. He still, was not angry, though it must have seemed that way. Despite knowing they couldn't avoid each other forever, he still didn't trust himself to maintain complete control. He had come close in the hallway, and that had caused the pain he could see in Syaoran's eyes.

There was an obvious sneer from said male as he stopped and glared heatedly at the door, irritation—anger—filling him with a sudden want to snap, and strangle the calm mage. He gritted his teeth, crossing his legs and resuming reading, though the song insisted upon intruding into his thoughts. Finally, he too slammed the text closed and placed it next to him.

The keys played through a mournful song, more slowly than the tempo called for, but, Eriol did not feel up to playing it at its true speed. He sighed as the music filled him, the one thing that could take away all worries, though the eyes boring into him distracted him from the soothing melodies. "Feel free to keep reading." He had no desire to be stared at by the angry brunette that accused him, rather rightly if his conscience had anything to do with it.

There was no verbal response from the Chinese youth as he continued to glower showing no intention of picking up a book so long as the magic-user was present. On the contrary he did exactly what Eriol found unnerving and simply watched him with contempt.

Eriol stopped playing quite suddenly when his statement was ignored by the youth. His mind told him firmly to stay put for now, and that the lesson he planned could wait, but at the same time, his inner voice was telling him to stand up, be a man and apologize. Feeling tempted to clear the air, he turned, inquisitively to his student. Upon seeing the dark eyes pinning him, only one thing leapt to the front of his mind.

Lust.

He swallowed. No. If he doesn't hate you now, he'll certainly hate you when you do that again. Eriol stood up from the piano bench and began to approach Syaoran. But still, there's just something about his rebellious nature that begs to be tamed. He was steps away now. You're strong enough to hold him down and take what you want. Eriol mentally shook away the dangerous thoughts as he closed the space between them.

"We have another lesson today."

He was instantly guarded and tensed when Eriol came towards him, his eyes hollowing further as his brows furrowed and the frown on his face deepened. "....Fine." it was the only word he uttered before standing, moving away from the pale teen and turned around, arms still being folded as he waited expectantly for the instructions, apparently not at all in the mood to deal with whatever else Eriol had on his mind. He just wanted to get the lesson done and over with so he wouldn't have to look at the sorcerer anymore.

The mage pointed firmly to a spot on the ground where he then sat, legs folded, fingers laced together. When Syaoran joined him, he changed the position of his hands so that he looked as though he were praying. "You do the same, Li-san. Now, I want you to clear you mind of all thought. Today we're going to open something that will enlighten you. I have already opened it, so it is quite easy for me to do so." He paused, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath.

"Once your mind is calm, collect your chi and imagine that you are standing before a great gate. The gate represents your mind, and your chi is what will open it. The door is hard, heavy and won't budge easily, but your chi will work against it to pry it open. Behind the door is a white light that pours through, filling you with wisdom." He paused once again. "Tell me, where is your gate? What surrounds it?"

Syaoran seemed to pause, not sure of how to answer. It was hard to clear his mind properly, and he was thankful for the chants that Wei taught him over the years. They helped him forget the contempt he felt for the man in front of him. "I see a dark forest labyrinth. There is a mirror at the entrance, in its reflection is the center where a gate stands encircled by ivy and thorns that I can't reach." he stated flatly.

"Good, you can see it. That's farther than a lot of people make it their first try. Now, Enter your labyrinth. Find a way to the center where the gate is. Use your chi to guide you there." Eriol had already opened his gate, knowing the way by heart. He felt Syaoran would make it through to the center just fine, given the years of discipline from his training in Hong Kong. At least they had worked well enough to dispel the anger the boy had been feeling, though Eriol knew that wouldn't last forever.

Syaoran didn't reply as he focused on the task-at-hand, finding himself staring at the entrance, now sealed by a stone, leaving him stuck there with no other option than to continue forward.

"Focus…" Eriol's words echoed in his mind.

Syaoran nodded, mentally, feeling the path through the darkness of the maze. It wasn't until he felt his chi split into two separate paths that he stopped. He found himself staring from one path to the other, when something ran across the path of the one to the left. "Who's there?" Whatever it was ran across his vision again and seemed to hide underneath a particularly dark patch of the labyrinth. Syaoran slowly approached, reeling back from the aura when he realized that it was terror, not wrath that seemed to permeate from it. He reached into the darkness and gripped it, pulling it to where he could see.

"What the…" It was a smaller version of himself, curled into a ball, scared and shaking as he pulled away from his grip. Syaoran opened his mouth to speak, but the child ran ahead before he could say anything, only pausing briefly to stare back at him, there being what looked to be silvery threads in his hand. "Wait!" Syaoran ran after him, finding himself chasing the boy through the labyrinth.

"Damn it..." He cursed, stopping when he lost sight of his younger self and sighing. He took a few deep breaths and glanced around. "Great, I think I'm lost now." he muttered. He began focusing again, trying to recall his chi when he felt tugging on his hand and glanced down to see a little girl who resembled Sakura. "Sakura?" She merely smiled up at him and pulled him along down another path. Without words he followed numbly, unsure of whether or not he could trust these 'beings' despite, or perhaps because they were in his own mind.

After pulling the brunette along for what he gathered to be about ten minutes, though it was impossible to tell, she let go and disappeared into the forest, leaving him alone once again. "What's going on..." he murmured in bewilderment. Again he found himself lost despite all of it seeming vaguely familiar. It was then that another child appeared, crying. It took Syaoran a few seconds of peering into the darkness before he recognized the figure. "Eriol?" he whispered as he stared at the crying boy who was clutching at his heart would with one hand, the other covering his eyes. With caution Syaoran approached him and knelt down, hesitantly pulling his arm away to look at him. "What's wrong?"

"I-It hurts..." the little boy replied as he sniffled.

Syaoran tilted his head in worry. "What hurts?" when asked the child shook his head and turned away, running away. "Eriol wait!" he shouted and bolted, keeping on his heels until the child stopped. "What the..." there before the boy was the gate surrounded by the ivy and thorns. The children seemed to have led him there, knowing it was what he sought.

"...P-Please...Make it go away...make the pain go away Syaoran..." the boy wept, looking up at him with stormy eyes.

Syaoran felt a pain in his own chest as he gazed down, but it changed to shock when he noticed the vines had started to crawl up Eriol's legs and wrap around him. "N-No let him go!" he heard himself scream as he grabbed at the vines. The thorns cut into his hands, tearning gashes as blood spilled, though he felt nothing but panic as they swallowed the smaller Eriol. One of the vines wrapped around and pulled the child in and with a gut-wrenching sound a splash of red now painted the ground where Eriol once stood. Syaoran stared blankly at first in shock before clenching his fist and shaking, eyes clamping shut as he refused to break.

"What…what does that mean?" He grabbed at his hair. "What does it mean?"

Syaoran opened his eyes again, seeing the vines slither out to grab him around the legs and arms, the thorns once again resuming their damage. He steeled his determination, however, and glared at the vegetation, his jaw tightening. "This is my mind! You will not defeat me here!" he shouted and with all the strength he had he ripped the plants from the ground, pulling them off himself. Though he felt the pain in his limbs and the trickle of blood, he stepped forward as the plants died away, leaving the gate accessible. "...I've reached the gate."

"Calm yourself. Whatever is blocking you is yourself and nothing else." Eriol's voice rang through the darkness, calm as ever.

Syaoran murmured to himself as he stared at the gate, his attention growing more focused, an aura having started to glow about him, seeping off his form to crawl up the doors of the gate. Only when the light completely covered the doors did he close his eyes and concentrate. There was difficulty as the door felt like it was being pushed from the other side, preventing him entry.

"Whatever is blocking you is yourself and nothing else…"

Syaoran felt his body tense in determination as the doors began to move a little. It was that determination that forced the aura between the seams of the doors and broke them free of the force holding the gate shut. When he got it open he became enveloped in a white light, its warm illumination caressing him gently.

There was a warmth and voice on the other side that completely enveloped him. He was confused, almost infantile in its presence. It was like being in near a god. He felt himself being held in a great hand. His brain was melting—all thoughts molding together in one. Staring into the blinding light, he closed his eyes and nodded. "I understand." The light faded as the real world came spinning back at an almost sickening pace.

Eriol reached out, holding the young man up, keeping him from feeling too woozy. "Well, done, Li-san. That's very good for your first try. Now memorize that path so you can open it easily from now on." He cursed as the closeness of their contact made his heart speed up.

He should be damn grateful for you showing him that. Look at his contented face. Imagine, still hating someone who showed you the path to enlightenment.

He shook his head, physically this time, allowing one hand to fall while the other rested on Syaoran's shoulder. "Wake up, Li-san. We're done for today."

Syaoran's eyes snapped open and narrowed at the sound of Eriol's voice and the unwanted touch, but he said nothing of it and observed the other with a scrutinizing gleam in his deep amber orbs. Within those same eyes, however, there was the reflection of something else, a mixture of confusion and somewhere in there an understanding though very faint.

Eriol stared into the scrutinizing eyes, finally sighing in defeat and standing up. "I understand," he stated quietly before exiting the room, choosing solitude of blame. In the end, he would call himself weak, but, staring at the clock hand reassured him that he was at least moving forward at a good pace. If he kept this up, they could finish before the spot of uncertainty was reached. "That woman...maybe telling her this will get her to leave me alone for a bit." He whispered, smiling sadly as he ascended the stairs. "Or perhaps it will make things worse. Who knows?"

Syaoran, having stayed behind in the music room watched small dark spots appear on the carpet whilst the soft patter of teardrops was heard. He felt his lips thin in a concentrated expression. The tears were not of sadness for himself— the time for crying like a child was over—they were tears of pity and confusion. "Why...of all things...Those children...Eriol..." he trailed off before hauling himself off the floor, returning to his spot where he'd been reading and picked up where he left off. His thoughts, however, were muddled as he continued to dwell on why there were children crying for help in his mind. If the texts were correct, then everything had a purpose.

But what was his?

Ending Note: Another toughie. Man, that sounds confusing, doesn't it? The whole…mind thing and the kids and all that. It will make sense in time.

As for what the hell the boys were doing…they were opening the first of eight gates of enlightenment, a common practice among Buddhists. Basically, you meditate until you unblock or open a gate, letting chi flow freely. In this story, the gates allow magic and understanding out, increasing the person's wisdom and power abilities. The way I've written it, is that magic is like math. Once you understand it, it becomes much easier to wield.

Final notes: Feel free to critique as always.

R&R my little hentai bunnies!

-Sniffits & Toy