Learning To Love and Learning From Love

A/N: Back with another chapter! I'm guessing that this chapter will be longer than my average chapter considering about a million different things are going to happen. I'm adequately satisfied with how this fanfic is progressing and I just hope everyone else is enjoying it. I thank all of you reviewers wholeheartedly! I've been busy too, as school has been a literal living hell. Eighth grade is hard work! Anyways, just note that I have no idea what day this chapter takes place, since the 5th chapter was [supposed] to be a Monday and I have no idea what day this chapter falls upon. For all I know, it could be a Saturday or Sunday. But then again, I don't know the Hong Kong school schedule. I'm just going to pretend that this day falls on a Thursday, supposedly the second to last day of the school week. Please read this chapter and continue to review! Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own any characters from CCS. I own this plot (in a way) and Fang-Fei. Heck, I don't even own Fang-Fei's name which was made up by my Chinese best friend of mine [Mei-Hua].

"..." = Dialogue

'...' = Thoughts

~*~ = Scene/time change

[...] = Italicized words

Chapter 12: Happiness or Whatnot

["Tomoyo..." a soothing voice said that sounded like a lullaby to Tomoyo. The figure walked up to her and kneeled in front of her, holding a small but beautiful teddy bear. Tomoyo couldn't help but feel happy about what was happening in front of her. But then again... she frowned. The figure wasn't Syaoran... it was someone else... She studied the person carefully, wondering ceaselessly in her mind about who would be in love with her.]

[She didn't have quite enough time to study and thoroughly think about who it was since the person had stood up and walked towards her silently. Tomoyo backed up in tiny steps, just little by little. She saw the person lift his hand out and stroked her cheeks gently, the tip of his fingers barely touching the surface of her skin. She froze at his touch, her brain not registering all that she wanted to do. He relocated his hand to under her chin and pushed it up just slightly. After a few seconds that seemed like an eternity, he leaned forward slowly, almost like slow torture to Tomoyo. Finally, his lips touched Tomoyo's, sending a shock up her spine. He pressed against hers harder, all the while, Tomoyo using every ounce of her energy to resist. It was difficult indeed.]

[Tomoyo tried to push away but felt her desire as well as her energy to deteriorating away. The person brought his arms up to her shoulders and pulled her in closer, their faces pushing against each others. She could feel the soft skin of his face gently caressing hers. She shivered slightly, a bittersweet sensation filling her. As they continued this bittersweet kiss, she could feel the edge of a hard object pressing into her upper cheek. It felt like... a considerably solid edge of... glasses...?]

A distinct ring made it's way through Tomoyo's ears, causing the images and sensations to distort, bringing her back to semi-consciousness. Instantly, as if a speeding train had collided into her, the pain did too. She felt her body on fire, but also, at the same time, uncannily cold. She could also feel a wonderfully refreshing spot of coolness on her forehead.

She struggled to open her eyes, the pain banging from her head all the way down to her toes. As her eyes finally succeeded in opening, she saw Sonomi sitting on her bed and Sakura standing by her bedside, still in her pajamas, both looking down worriedly at her. Tomoyo tried to sit up but lay back down instantaneously, reacting to the dizziness that plagued her when she attempted to sit up.

"Tomoyo, you just rest today." Sonomi told her in a tone that told Tomoyo just how worried she was about her. Then it hit her. All the memories of last night came back, so rapidly that her head pulsed with another big dose of pain. The rainy night and how she had ran out of the house... because of her father's return and how her mother had... lied to her. She bumped into Eriol and he took her to his home, giving her immense hospitality. She remembered crying on his shoulder for a good long time until... what had happened? She didn't remember anything after that. She concluded that she must have fallen asleep and Eriol had... Tomoyo blushed heavily. She had probably caught this dreadful cold by all that. And Sonomi and Sakura [had] reason to worry after the whole ordeal about last night.

Tomoyo simply nodded, avoiding Sonomi's eyes. She still was angry at her, after all. Sonomi left wordlessly, the fact that she was upset painfully obvious, even for Tomoyo. Sakura turned to Tomoyo after watching Sonomi silently and somberly walk out. "Tomoyo, I hope you feel better by the time I get home." Sakura told her, unsure of what else she could say. Tomoyo held her tongue for a while then spoke. Her voice came out raspy and quiet.

"Sakura, you don't have to come home right away just for me. If Meiling and Syaoran want to do something, just go with them. Don't worry about me." Tomoyo told Sakura, giving her a weak smile, the most she could manage up for now. Sakura just smiled back gratefully. "Thank you Tomoyo, but I will come home. Li and I can work on the song another day." Sakura stated that last part while a light red shading her cheeks. Tomoyo ignored it, although it was difficult to.

"No just go on Sakura. I'll be expecting you won't be home for a while." Tomoyo told her reassuringly. Sakura gave another smile that was in-character: caring and cheerful. "I hope you get better by later today. I'll bring your homework for you." Sakura informed her. Tomoyo nodded in consent as Sakura proceeded to walk out of the room to get ready for school. "See you later, Tomoyo!" Sakura said with a final wave. Tomoyo waved back weakly, a series of coughs exploding from her chest.

~*~

The sound of moderate footsteps made small echoes throughout the hallway as Syaoran walked sluggishly towards the front door of his mansion. He turned the doorknob and pulled it open to find Fang-Fei standing there unexpectedly. Syaoran nearly jumped back and guilt flooded his heart instantly. "Good morning Fang-Fei" he greeted quietly. "Good morning Syaoran." It wasn't the usual exuberant chirp she usually reserved for Syaoran and Syaoran only. Syaoran, noticing the change in her attitude, looked up and studied her.

He was surprised to find that instead of the usual bright hope and immense happiness at the mere sight of Syaoran was gone. In place of all that was a deep sadness no one could ever acknowledge. Syaoran immediately wondered what was wrong and debated with himself to decide if he would really tell her. He took a deep breath as he decided that he should tell. The sooner the better...

"Fang-Fei..." Fang-Fei looked up at Syaoran questioning yet knowing eyes. "Can I talk to you for a bit? We won't be late for school or anything." Syaoran told her and her heart became heavy with impeding realization. She nodded in a somber manner, almost throwing Syaoran back into debate. They walked into the Li garden and both sat down on the grass that covered a lot of the garden area, surrounded by various flowers, plants, and trees.

For an almost comfortable and according moment, the two sat in silence, watching butterflies moving gently and gracefully from one place to another or watching the small birds soar in the air. Fang-Fei sat there, preparing herself emotionally and mentally for she knew and had a distinct feeling that Syaoran would be telling her that he was in love with Sakura and wanted to break off the engagement or something composed of basically the same words, while Syaoran sat there, figuring out how to start telling her. After one more minute, Syaoran opened his mouth to speak.

"I'm in love with Kinomoto." he called out plainly and bluntly. Fang-Fei could feel something in her chest break. The tears teetered on the edge of her eye, each of them threatening to fall, and sobs and a lump got caught in her throat. She tried to suppress all of them and tried to smile encouragingly for Syaoran as he had lapsed into another silence, wondering about what to say next.

Syaoran wanted to kick himself. Why did he have to say it [that] blatantly? What would he say next? He didn't know. Nonetheless, he swallowed and continued. "I know that about two years ago, you and I made a promise that we would marry each other unless we found someone we truly loved..." Syaoran trailed off from there. It didn't take the smartest mathematician in the world to figure out the rest.

Fang-Fei put forth all her strength to keep from crying. "I see." she choked out, trying to sound as normal as possible. But Syaoran wasn't stupid. His heart flooded with guilt once again, wishing that he never had fallen in love with Sakura. "I'm so-" he was cut off by Fang-Fei. She had her finger pressed to his mouth and he turned his head to see what Fang-Fei was doing.

She had now turned to Syaoran, her body turned to him fully and opened her mouth to speak. "Now I, Iowa Fang-Fei, release you, Li Syaoran, to love whomever your heart desires." Fang-Fei declared with a smile but tears welling in her eyes. Syaoran stood there, dumbfounded. Fang-Fei had just broke off their engagement... now Syaoran would be free to confess his love to Sakura... but would it work out? He looked to Fang-Fei who returned an encouraging smile.

Slowly, but steadily, a smile lit Syaoran's face. He could feel the happiness radiating from himself. Fang-Fei continued to stand there smiling, although sadly. Syaoran reached out to enclose Fang-Fei in a tight embrace. He couldn't help but whisper out a quiet thank you. Fang-Fei nodded slightly, acknowledging what he had said. Syaoran kissed Fang-Fei's cheek, to her great surprise, but she knew that it was only in a sisterly way.

"I'll meet you at school." Fang-Fei told him weakly. He looked into the depths of her eyes and nodded, trying not to expose his happiness or relief very much at all. He walked ahead, taking quick, joyful steps. Once she heard that the sound of Syaoran's footsteps of the sidewalk had deteriorated and his figure had gone off into the distance, Fang-Fei broke. She broke down and cried for all she was worth, hoping with all her heart that the tears would stop at one point.

~*~

"You told her!" Meiling's enthusiastic shout full of disbelief reverberated throughout the hall, catching the stare of many other students. At this, Meiling slightly pinked at the cheeks and grinned sheepishly before turning back to Syaoran who seemed plainly numb with the whole situation. "Meiling, you didn't have to shout that out." he groaned quietly, eyeing her in an exasperated manner, hoping that all eyes were off them now, which they fortunately were.

Meiling was almost afraid of asking the next query. She slowly looked up at Syaoran and tentatively spoke. "How... How did she respond?" Meiling asked reluctantly, watching Syaoran twitch just a bit. "She accepted. She said she would break off the engagement." Syaoran responded quietly, his head looking down at the ground, his bangs casting a small curtain of shadow over his eyes. Meiling looked up, wide-eyed and surprised.

"Really?" Meiling asked in disbelief, checking to see if her ears were deceiving her. Syaoran nodded silently, guilt washing over him. All the guilt that he didn't feel back there just a bit ago was hitting him with full force now. Meiling, sensing this, stayed silent as well. The two stood there, an overwhelming yet comforting silence wrapping them in itself. "Meiling." She looked to him, a natural reaction taking over. "I'm ok. Don't worry. Things will heal in time." Syaoran reassured, giving her a genuine smile. Slowly and tentatively, but surely, Meiling smiled as well. She reached over and took a hold of her brother's hand.

"Syaoran, you know that I'll always be by you, right? And Tomoyo, Big Sister, Fang-Fei, Yukito, all of us. If you need consoling, we'll be there. If you want someone to lean on, we'll be there. If you need someone to give you a great kick in the ass to get your mind going again, we'll be there." Meiling told him, a smile adorning her face like the bright and beautiful moon decorating the endless dark blue sky. Syaoran cracked a smile at that last comment. Maybe he [would] confess to Sakura... even if it would take some time and every ounce of willpower he could summon.

~*~

Sakura sat there, wide-eyed and dazed, her eyes on Naoko who simply smiled back, proud that she had amazed yet another girl with [her] story. "Is that true?" Sakura asked in a whisper, half of her mind concentrated on what Naoko had just recited to her and the other half wondering why in all of hell she was so interested in it anyway. It [was] just a romance story which probably was nothing but a made-up story by a hopeless romantic. But then again, all Sakura could picture in her mind was Syaoran.

Naoko nodded, the smile still stretched out on her face bigger than ever. "So if you make a teddy bear and give it to someone and that person responds by giving you a teddy bear as well and you two name the bear they received by the giver's name, you'll be in love forever." Naoko summed up, pleasant with the reaction she got from Sakura. Sakura nodded in response, in deep thought.

Naoko got up from the desk she was sitting at. "Well, bell's about to ring. Better get to my seat." she said to Sakura, who just nodded once again, paying half-attention to Naoko who then walked off. "Good morning." a voice directed the greeting towards her. Sakura turned around to see Hiiragizawa Eriol there, his eyebrows furrowed in worry.

"Good morning Hiiragizawa." Sakura greeted back, smiling cheerfully, drowning out all thoughts of teddy bears, love, and Syaoran in her head. Then her smile diminished slightly. "Is something wrong?" she asked courteously, eyeing his slight frown. He shook his head, his eyes getting rid of their obscureness. "I was just wondering... is Daidouji here today?" he asked almost hesitantly, eyeing the floor of the classroom.

Sakura shook her head innocently. "Tomoyo caught a cold from last night and this morning she had a burning fever and fits of coughing and sneezing." At this, Eriol blushed slightly, remembering what had happened last night. "Oh, I was just wondering. Thank you." he responded, courteous as always and turned to walk to his seat. Sakura nodded, her head clouded in confusion.

~*~

"This Tuesday?" Syaoran questioned, his eyebrows raised. Meiling nodded enthusiastically. "Tomoyo has to be better by then and the news report said it would be a really hot day for the autumn. It'll be a great time to go to the beach!" Sakura nodded in agreement. "It sounds good to me! I love swimming!" she exclaimed, eyes innocently shining like emeralds. Syaoran gave no retorts this time, just nodding in consent, a light shade of red spread across his cheeks and eyes on his shoes. Meiling caught this and smiled to herself, being as quick as she was.

The three shifted their gazes to Eriol, who stood there quietly, mouth shut and eyes showing that he was not listening to them at all. "Eriol?" Meiling broke his train of thought, causing him to look up at them. Meiling stood there, eyes on Eriol unsure of what to do. She knew that she didn't love Eriol... but the pain was still there.

"Do you like the idea?" Sakura offered, attempting to sweep away the tense silence that had been dominant. "What... idea?" he questioned slowly, confused. Syaoran's confused gaze immediately melted into an annoyed expression. "Count on Hiiragizawa to not listen when something important comes up." Syaoran muttered under his breath, earning a nudge from his sister.

Eriol narrowed his eyes a great deal towards Syaoran. It was usually a difficult task to get Eriol angry or even annoyed, Tomoyo as an exception, but today... he was just out of it. Maybe he just got up on the wrong side of the bed. Maybe it was just the shocking revelation that he was in love with his supposed worst enemy. Or maybe it was simply because his supposed worst enemy just wasn't here. It was an empty feeling, really, as if a piece of the day was just missing. He didn't like it.

"Do you want to go to the beach this Tuesday?" Sakura repeated for him, glancing at him worriedly. "Yes, that would be nice." he responded, his voice empty and a glazed look in his eyes. If any of them did notice this, they kept quiet. "Ok, then we'll go!" Meiling declared, the worry flickering away, replaced with her usual enthusiasm. Or so it seemed.

~*~

"Daidouji-sama! A gift for you was left outside the door!" the head maid's voice panted in fluent Japanese as she brought the bouquet of red roses. Sonomi looked up from her paperwork. "And what are these?" she queried, surprised about receiving a bouquet of beautiful red roses. "I don't know, Daidouji-sama. They were just there, perched on the porch. 'More like a flight of fancy stairs.' Sonomi thought with light amusement.

Anyhow, she picked up the mysterious gift as the maid stepped out of the door. Red roses? Who had sent these? Sonomi looked to the tag. It read "To: Dearest Sonomi From: Konoko." Sonomi's face burned crimson. Did he take her for a fool? She took the roses and threw them into the trash, scoffing as she walked off. But a little tug could be felt at her heart...

She let out a small 'hmph' as she shook off the unwanted feeling. She was not a fool, as her old acquaintance thought. Acquaintance. The word seemed hollow and meaningless to Sonomi, as if it wasn't the right choice of wording. She scoffed, reprimanding herself. He was just a small piece of the past, now lost and forgotten, but had somehow found its way back. She just prayed that it wouldn't become a piece of the present now.

~*~

Sakura, Syaoran, and Meiling stopped abruptly as they stepped into the classroom. "W-What happened?" Meiling spoke first, looking around the messy room. Papers and various items from the teacher's desk were scattered over the floor as was a few desks turned over. The sound of footsteps was heard from behind them and the trio turned to see Mr. Terada coming up behind them.

"Hello." Mr. Terada greeted the three, as he turned to go into the classroom. The three didn't bother to respond, knowing what was coming their way. Mr. Terada stopped short, mouth hanging open, and an angry look coming over his eyes. "You three did this?" he inquired harshly, eyes focused on them. "N-No, it wasn't us." Meiling answered for them, afraid of what would happen.

"School's finished and the three of you should be heading home by now. Then why would I believe your obvious lie?" he challenged, trapping them. "I don't know, but I [promise] Mr. Terada, we [didn't] do it." Meiling answered quietly, voice wavering. He stood there, staring disappointedly at the three of them. "I don't know what [possessed] you three to do this, but it's forgiven. Just clean it all up." he told them seriously. Meiling opened her mouth to protest once again, but shut herself up. It was no use. He would [never] believe them.

"Yes." they answered obediently in unison, bitterness in their voices. The three headed towards the middle of the room to pick up the items and papers that had been dropped. "And put it in order." Mr. Terada gave a final command as he walked off. Meiling glared after him and stuck her tongue out. Syaoran sighed. "We have no choice. Someone obviously pulled a prank and it happened to be [us] that was caught up in it. Meiling, why didn't you just return tomorrow to claim your notebook?" he groaned, bending down to grab more papers.

"How was I to know that the room would be like this? Plus, now the teacher won't trust in us anymore. This sucks." Meiling complained, angrily grabbing papers. She turned to Sakura. "Sakura, aren't you going to complain at least [once]?" Meiling inquired, ashamed that she had been complaining while Sakura just stayed quiet. Syaoran had always told Meiling that she needed a bit more maturity.

"No, I'm just kind of worried. I promised Tomoyo I'd come straight home, but I guess that's not going to be possible. Cleaning up all this [and] ordering the papers will take at least over an hour." And to make matters worse, things were written all over the blackboard. All of a sudden, Eriol walked in. "I was thinking you'd be in here-" Eriol stopped abruptly.

"Someone made a mess of the room and we had to come back here for my forgotten notebook." Meiling explained without looking up. "Oh." Eriol said, surprised by this. Then three laughing voices were heard. The four turned their heads to the door. Two boys and a girl were standing there, smirking at them. Syaoran and Meiling glared while Sakura and Eriol stared in disbelief.

"Look who got to 'fix' [our] prank. Aww, thanks Li. You're really nice." they laughed as they walked off, their giggles slowly fading away. "Who are they?" Sakura asked, once they were gone. Meiling glared as she continued picking papers up. "They're supposed to be in sixth grade right now, but they were held back by Mr. Terada last year. Now they're in a different fifth grade class, but they hold a grudge against Mr. Terada. And they hate me and Syaoran because we're more athletic than [they] are." Meiling continued, smiling proudly.

"Their athletic ability is their only talent since they aren't very talented in schoolwork. "They've always hated us as well." she finished, dropping the stack of papers she was holding, to suck on a paper cut she just got. Realizing what she had just done, she groaned. "Now I have to pick them up [all over] again!" she whined as she bent down once again. Syaoran simply rolled his eyes, not looking too happy. Sakura giggled, and then, all of a sudden, her eyes lit up.

"Hiiragizawa! Can you please go to my house for me and tell Tomoyo that I'll be late?" she asked, her eyes pleading. A feeling of dread and excitement came to Eriol. He stood there, contemplating whether he should do it or not. Finally, he nodded his head solemnly. "I'll give her the homework as well." he sighed dreadfully. Sakura grinned happily. "Thank you!" she thanked him enthusiastically. A flicker of jealousy entered Syaoran's eyes. But for what, he didn't know.

"You're welcome." Eriol responded, his voice empty once again. "Well I better get going." he told the three as he waved good-bye and exited the classroom. When Syaoran was sure he had left, he groaned. "I can't believe it. Hiiragizawa, going to [Tomoyo's] house?" he murmured, as Sakura turned to Syaoran with a apologizing look. "I just wanted to make sure Tomoyo wouldn't be worried." Sakura told him quietly, immediately making him helplessly guilty. He sighed, returning to his work. "It's okay." he said gruffly, hoping that the red tint on his cheeks wasn't too noticeable.

Sakura immediately smiled, and although Syaoran wasn't facing her, he could picture it in his mind. "You're a really great friend to Tomoyo, worrying for her and all. But I think it will go okay." she said, making the shade of red on his face go brighter. "Thank you." she said to him softly. 'For what?' Syaoran wanted to ask. But instead, he just responded with a quiet "you're welcome." Hiding the smile that formed on her face, Meiling simply listened.

~*~

Eriol's hand trembled as he reached out to buzz Tomoyo's house so the gate would be opened. But somehow, his hand wouldn't go any farther. He just stood there, every minute seeming like an hour. What was he doing? Seeing Tomoyo when she was ill and all... but Sakura had obligated him to. Using that as an excuse to his insecure self, he finally reached out and pressed the button. "Yes?" a maid's voice answered through the speaker. "I-I'm Daidouji's..." Eriol trailed off, lost on what to apply himself as. "... friend..." he finally replied after a long pause. "Yes sir." the maid responded, opening the gate to let Eriol through.

As Eriol walked through the beautiful garden, the sound of his voice when he had told the maid that he was Tomoyo's "friend" echoed throughout his mind. If she wasn't a friend... what was she? He knew her better than a plain and simple acquaintance. Hell, he could tell what she was feeling, even if she [was] mainly an introverted person. She [was] an enemy... but now... he shook his head. He was just fooling with himself. He was just someone Tomoyo knew. Not even a friend. Just a classmate, a colleague. Nothing more.

The door stood opened, awaiting Eriol's entrance. His pace quickened slightly, subconsciously taking note of the waiting maids. As he took the final and slightly decisive step through the entrance, one of the maids proceeded to lead him to Tomoyo's room. Eriol looked around the massive mansion. It seemed bigger than he had imagined when he had brought an exhausted Tomoyo to this door. Twice.

Before he knew it, he was standing in Tomoyo's room, steps away from the bed in which she rested in. A feeling of helplessness crossed his heart as the sound of the door quietly clicking shut as the maid left Eriol in the room alone. He just stood there, staring at her sleep with slightly heavy breathing. What did the maids expect him to do? Wake her up, just like that? He couldn't.

Every minute that passed seemed like an hour to Eriol who just continued standing there, drinking in every flawless detail on her face. He noticed a wisp of hair rested on her cheek, slightly distorting her perfect face. He unconsciously reached over to brush it away when he felt the high temperature on her face. On a reflex, he quickly placed his hand on her forehead which was burning hot. He winced. She really didn't deserve this...

The feeling of a cold hand penetrated Tomoyo's dreams. Now half-awake, Tomoyo wondered where this wonderful sensation was coming from. She started to stir, to Eriol's horror, and her eyes fluttered open. She just simply stared for a while, her eyes half-open and the feeling of the coolness that had fleeted away remaining in ghostly sensations. "H... Hiiragizawa...?" she finally spoke, confusion glazing her eyes.

"Aa, your homework." Eriol explained quickly, handing her papers and some books. She just stared at it for a second before taking it. "Thank you." she whispered, then turned her amethyst eyes back on Eriol. "Where's Sakura?" she inquired, now confused more than ever. "They were set up by three troublemakers and now they have to clean up our messy classroom. Sakura sent me to give you your homework and to tell you that she'll be a bit late today." he explained, staying as calm as possible.

Tomoyo just nodded and murmured another "thank you." "You're welcome." Eriol answered, not knowing what to say to her next. Things between them were even more uncomfortable lately. Eriol found himself wishing that they could go back to the resentful relationship full of animosity. He'd be stepping out of that door right now without a care in the world, and he wouldn't be in love with her...

"I'd better get going." Eriol announced hurriedly, giving a small bow to Tomoyo and turning to hurry out. "Wait." Tomoyo's voice almost pleaded, stopping Eriol's procession and his heart as well. The two just stayed silent for a minute, Tomoyo gathering up the words she wanted to say. Eriol stayed patient, confusion swallowing him up. What would she want to tell him? 'Probably an insult of some sort.' Eriol thought, sinking the unwanted hope that had stirred in his heart.

Tomoyo finally took a deep breath. "I want to thank you, Hiiragizawa. For everything." Tomoyo spoke, surprised of her own words that were popping out of her mouth. That definitely took Eriol by surprise as well. They fell into another silence, but this one felt different. It was almost friendly. A smile curved at Eriol's lips. "My pleasure, Daidouji." he answered her, unsuccessfully hiding the real pleasure inside of him. What he didn't know was Tomoyo was smiling as well.

An uncomfortable tie between them now loosened, Eriol walked out, unexpectedly cheerful. Somehow those small words she had just said to him complemented him. As if something inside him had clicked. And now, maybe they weren't such enemies anymore. As he walked his way towards the door, several maids bowed to him. He didn't notice as he was drowning in thoughts, hopes, dreams, wishes, happiness, and love.

~*~

Meiling wiped her brow as she collapsed into a chair. "Finally done." she groaned, closing her eyes in exhaustion. "And we have homework to do." Syaoran reminded her gruffly, ordering the last of the papers. She groaned once again. "Syaoran! You [had] to remind me?!" Meiling whined, shooting a 'help me' look towards him. Sakura giggled at their playful fighting. "I was just reminding you of your duties." Syaoran told Meiling, going red in the ears. "Hmph." Meiling grunted, crossing her arms.

Sakura giggled once again, and put on her backpack. "I better get going home. Tomoyo's probably waiting." Sakura announced to them. Meiling nodded and gave Sakura a wave. "Bye Sakura! I'll see you later!" Meiling said to Sakura, smiling enthusiastically. "Bye Meiling!" Sakura responded, waving back as well. She then turned to Syaoran. "Bye Li!" she said to him as well, except there was a red hue colored on her face. "Bye." Syaoran grunted, trying with all his might to fight the blush. Unsuccessfully.

She stepped swiftly out the door, leaving a suspending atmosphere behind. Syaoran sighed as she disappeared from sight. The tricks she pulled on him were getting worse, and he had no idea what to do with them. "Syaoran, I'm going to go now. Are you coming?" Meiling informed him, putting on her backpack. She had a knowing smile on her face. "Meiling, you go ahead. I'll catch up." he murmured in response. He needed some time to clear up his head, to think things out. Luckily, his sister nodded in understanding as opposed to inquiring. "Then I'll see you later." she said as she stepped out the door, her brother sitting alone inside the room, his mind retreated in a deserted, foggy place.

~*~

["So if you make a teddy bear and give it to someone and that person responds by giving you a teddy bear as well and you two name the bear they received by the giver's name, you'll be in love forever."]

Those words rang through Sakura's head as she stood, implanted right in front of the craft shop. Why was she there anyhow? She herself wasn't sure either. She was just standing there, her eyes glued onto the shelves of teddy bear kits that were sitting temptingly inside the shop. Under some trance, Sakura started towards the door. What would it hurt to look just a little bit? There was probably a lot of other cute things as well.

However, her feet lead her straight to the teddy bear section and stopped right there. There was a variety of them, different colors and sizes. But again, why was she [here]? She was ignorant of the reason herself. She eyed one of the boxes with a picture of an adorable, flawless bear with brown-colored fur and beady black eyes. Her eyes, precedently glued onto the bear, moved to the other bears. [Which one was perfect?]

Sakura looked through the boxes. She didn't even know why she was here looking for a teddy bear. She didn't even love anyone... suddenly Syaoran came to her mind. Sakura shook her head furiously. 'He's engaged Sakura...' she told herself, but she knew it was too late. She wasn't always that dense. She was in love with Li Syaoran.

She abruptly stopped her mindless, fruitless search and returned the box she was currently holding. She was just being silly. It was just some romance-influenced story. A childish dream from someone's shaded, buried dreams from long ago. Nothing to behold with worthy regard. And her being in [love] with Li Syaoran? Yeah, maybe a childish crush... but it certainly wasn't love and that silly old legend... but...

Sakura shook her head. Of course, it was all in her head. She was only an eleven-year-old child. How could she [possibly] be in love? She'd never heard of a case like that, and people, the young and the old; the wise and the foolish, had all told her the exact same thing: she was impassibly childish at heart. She herself believed it as well, seeing to it that she nearly always felt cheerful. But then again, she's always had seemingly mature prospects on love, the kind that didn't require age for wisdom. An absolutely baffled Sakura trudged her way home. Possibly, her new life was just as difficult as her old, simple one.

~*~

"One... two... three..." Daidouji Tomoyo counted aloud, staring almost mindlessly up at he ceiling of her extravagant room, idly counting the cracks and things that were meant to have been fixed years ago. However, Tomoyo liked to have them up there so she had never wanted to tell her mother or any of her maids about it. Her mother. The thought of her sent a wave of flames through her body so Tomoyo decided not to get any further.

She rolled over onto her stomach, resting her chin upon her upturned hands. She knew she should have been working on her homework to turn in whenever she returned, but she just couldn't find the concentration to do just that. Lingering thoughts of Eriol haunted her. Excuse me, Hiiragizawa. When she had thanked him at that very moment, she couldn't help but feel an invisible connection between the two of them. It was a nice feeling, she had to admit, but it still scared her some.

However, it had been there, and she couldn't change that at all. She reached over and grabbed her book and a sheet of paper. A sudden wave of dizziness washed over her, instantly causing her to collapse down onto her soft, fluffy bed in reaction. She put her hands to her forehead to somehow cease the pain. In that instant, the sensation of Eriol's cool palm resting on her forehead came back to her. And to her ultimate surprise and horror, a smile found its way onto her face. Maybe Eriol wasn't such a bad person after all. Maybe.

~*~

Meiling pressed her hands upon the cool glass, peering in and smiling. A dress shop. She had watched these people thousands of times, girls picking dresses for parties, a little girl selecting one for a special visit to her grandparents, and occasionally, a young woman, beautiful and happy, going through the wedding dresses. Meiling was always such a little dreamer for romance, people would say. And it was true. Meiling had always been into dresses and weddings and just things like that.

She had always been one into romance, happily weeping over romance movies when she was younger and now starting to read love novels. Syaoran had always rolled his eyes and said "not [that] again" or some snide comment such as that. Meiling smiled at those precious memories, watching one lady in particular going through the expensive, fancy gowns. She had always wanted to be in love, to tell the truth. But now that she might be close, she was scaring herself. And Syaoran.

Touya was one that came close - too close. And he was an older person by seven years as well. She knew that many other people her age had crushes on people older than themselves, but love? She had never heard of a strange case such as that. Until her heart had chosen a path. She sighed heavily shifting her eyes from the fancy frills and laces to the solid gray pavement. Maybe she was mistaken. Maybe she was wrong. She only was eleven, after all, how would she know what love was supposed to be like? However, that didn't persuade her. A doubt was still miserably hanging over her.

She turned to leave, the forgotten dresses pushed to the very back of her mind, a cloud of worry filling up her heart. What would Syaoran think? Tomoyo? Sakura? Her [mother]? [Touya]? To think that a member of the Li clan was in love at the age of eleven with someone a bit too much older than mandatory no matter how much magic he possessed. She would cause them shame, her mother, Syaoran, and Fang-Fei as well. She would cause herself shame. And that was one thing Meiling did not like.

As these thoughts clouded her mind, she passed by a much deserted , walking by a small alley. All of a sudden, a hand came flying to cover her mouth to keep it impenetrable from any sound, and an arm was wrapped around her waist and she was pulled into the alley. She was screaming, she knew, her scream filling her own years, deafening her. However, no one else heard it. She looked to her surrounding and there stood two men, dirty-looking and quite frightening, glaring menacingly at her.

"This [is] the Li girl, right?" one of them asked the other who nodded affirmatively in response. To check if anyone was watching, they snuck out from their dark corner to slowly sneak away. However, Meiling had a few tricks up her sleeve. As the man's hand was covering her mouth, she bit it, a bit disgustedly, however, still bit it. And then screamed at the top of her lungs, catching much of the people's attentions.

Maybe it was a miracle, maybe a coincidence, or maybe just pure luck. However, Touya was passing by this particular area at that particular moment, his mind concentrated on the errand he was on right now. However, the scream reached his ears and his eyes lit up, his ears in complete recognition. And as a second instinct, he turned on his heels running at top speed towards the sound of the scream. And he prayed. Praying that it may not be Meiling, in fear that she may be hurt or worse. And also praying that it may be her, just to see her once more, the distinct face, those passionately burning eyes, and beautiful raven-dark hair.

He skidded to a stop right across from the alley, seeing the figure of Meiling being held tightly in one man's arms in company with another, both frozen in shock and terror, frantic about what they were to do next. Touya clenched his teeth and hands, wanting to wring his neck for causing Meiling pain, [his] Meiling pain. Their only option was to run for it. However, Touya was not up to that plan at all.

"What the hell are you doing! Get away from her!" Touya yelled at the top of his lungs, running at him at full speed. How could anyone think of kidnaping an innocent 11-year-old child? But to Touya, Meiling just wasn't a child. No, she held a higher spot in his heart... He pushed these thoughts away for just a moment. Right now his priority was to retrieve Meiling before anything too drastic happened and he lost her, all in his fault.

Luckily, Touya was a very speedy runner, a disadvantage for the two kidnappers who were also not very much into shape, causing Touya to catch up with them in a flash of light. "You're going to pay!" he yelled, every bit of anger evident in his very voice. And as soon as the duo had sensed Touya right behind, they turned, for a split second, threw Meiling towards Touya and continued running, hoping not to get caught.

Touya frantically caught her, as if trying to keep a fragile treasure from shattering into pieces. He glared at the kidnappers' retreating backs, a hate burning passionately within himself. And then all attention was diverted to Meiling, who lay in his arms, eyes closed shut, knocked out from the surprise and shock of it all. And he stood there, staring down upon her, noticing how much her fierce features softened when she was in rest. A smile found its way to his face, a smile of gentleness and love for this helpless little girl at the moment.

And when a clap rang out, that's when he realized all the people on the street was watching him with looks on their faces, waiting for him to look up so he would receive at least some sort of a reward. He blushed in embarrassment, realization that they were watching his every move dawned upon him. He bowed several times and then exited the scene with people staring confusedly at his receding back, hoping never to let something like that happen again.

~*~

Syaoran stood there, staring at the single cherry blossom that hand floated down onto his hand. His mind was pondering just how such a small little thing could hold so much beauty within itself. He mentally slapped himself and let the gentle breeze take the little blossom away, never to be seen again. He was thinking crazy, which he found himself doing a bountiful amount of times lately. He was engaged, future leader of the Li clan, and a son whose mother hung many hopes, dreams, and expectations upon. But to fall in love would cause those rising things to falter. And that was not a good thing of Li Syaoran.

"Little descendant, what are you doing here?" Syaoran froze at the sound of that voice, his teeth clenching up and his fists balled up tight. "What do [you] want, Hiiragizawa?" Syaoran spat out coldly. Opposing the fact that Syaoran had wanted to put Eriol down, that just put a smile on his face. "Can't I worry about my descendant?" Eriol queried with his usual innocent slyness. Syaoran rolled his eyes heavenward. When will this guy ever learn? However, sighing heavily, Syaoran promised to himself to try and live through just one conversation with this glassy-eyed devil.

"So you went to visit Tomoyo?" Syaoran inquired, trying to start life into a random conversation. That suspiciously caught Eriol by surprise and Syaoran gave him a long, hard side-glance. "Um, yeah." Somehow, that answer had come out with an unusually high voice. Syaoran squinted a suspicious eye at Eriol. "So what happened there?" This shot Eriol badly, ice running through his body. "I just gave her the homework." he responded, trying to remain as calm as possible. He knew that as dense as Syaoran can be sometimes, he also sometimes had the eye of a wise man and the protectiveness of a mother bear. "That's all?" "That's all." Not another word was exchanged between the two for a while, Syaoran in deep suspicion and Eriol drowning in thought.

The lingering silence was ringing in Syaoran's ears and he couldn't take it much longer. So he finally picked a topic to bring up. "So, about you and Tomoyo. Why do you two hate each other so much?" That question caught Eriol off-guard as well, and Syaoran wondered what was wrong with the cool and calm Hiiragizawa today. Eriol gained his composure in a matter of moments and gave Syaoran that indecipherable look that he usually did. "It would be too complicated to explain." Eriol responded, the smallest of smirks smeared on his face. Syaoran gave a huff.

"And what do you mean by that?" Syaoran inquired carefully, warning alerts dripping off every word. However, Eriol just ignored that. "Oh, nothing. It's just that the circumstances in the reasons are just too hard to explain." Syaoran gave Eriol another warning glare. Eriol just continued to smirk, his eyes shining a message, one that said plainly and loudly 'challenge me.' The two held up a staring contest for the longest time - one side with a hateful glint and the other with shining amusement.

"I better get going," Syaoran said, immediately halting the silent competition and putting on his school bag once more. "Me too. Much pleasure for our little run-in today," Eriol called out after Syaoran's retreating back, instantly hearing a snort, acknowledging the sarcasm. Suddenly the smirk on Eriol's face dissolved away, and he ran a hand through his hair, a habit that he had picked up from Syaoran. "What am I going to do?" he asked himself helplessly, sighing heavily as another picture of Daidouji flashed through his mind for about the millionth time that day.

~*~

"I'm home!" Sakura called out and proceeded to make it up the stairs, two steps at a time. "Tomoyo!" Sakura called as she pushed open the door to Tomoyo's room. "Yes?" Tomoyo answered, turning from her math paper. "I'm sorry I couldn't make it today!" Sakura apologized, seeing as Tomoyo simply smiled. "It's fine, Sakura." "I see that Eriol gave you all the homework alright." Tomoyo nodded, her eyes empty and emotionless, concealing the strange, slight twitching of her heart. But to Tomoyo's relief, Sakura didn't notice any of it.

"Are you feeling better?" Sakura asked tentatively in lack of anything better to say. Tomoyo nodded slowly. "Yes, a lot." Sakura smiled brightly. "That's good. You think you'll be able to make it to school tomorrow?" she asked warmly, instantly working up a warm feeling in Tomoyo's heart. This time Tomoyo smiled in a real happy sort of way and nodded her head enthusiastically. "Okay, I'll leave you to rest now. I have to get started on my homework anyways. See you later Tomoyo!" Sakura announced as she made her way to the door. Tomoyo nodded, half-listening, her eyes holding a distant gleam, a gleam that shined confusion in the most wondrous form.

~*~

Syaoran slowly trudged through the dry, dying leaves that covered the dirt path that was so familiar to him. The 'crunch, crunch' sound that arose from the leaves that crumbled under his feet played a steady beat to the thoughts that ran through his head, the oh-so-familiar thoughts that had ran through his mind oh-so-many times, however, the thoughts never seemed to tire out. But it was becoming routine to him, and it was sending chills up his spine and bittersweet, almost painful, jolts to his heart every time.

His pace speed picked up as he unsuccessfully attempted to shift his train of thought. If he succeeded and he kept at it, maybe, just maybe he wouldn't have to bring such pain to Fang-Fei, such confusion and bittersweet aching to his heart, such dishonor to his own family. Just maybe. Simple thoughts would work. Yes, simple thoughts to replace those thoughts that sweetly poisoned his mind and enlightened his heart in a way that shouldn't. Thoughts such as 'is Tomoyo doing ok?', 'why is Meiling acting so strange lately?, and 'how should the training techniques be improved?'.

However, to his extreme distaste, the sweetly frustrating train of thought didn't cease to stick to his mind. In fact, it seemed to grip on even more tightly in fear that cold-hearted Syaoran would lose this new experience of bittersweet feeling flooding him, in fear that if this was released, Li Syaoran would cease to find true love ever again. As aware his heart was of this, his mind seemed to antagonize completely. "God dammit!" he cursed in a booming voice as his leg swung over to forcefully kick a tree. The thin tree gave a fairly large tremble of acknowledgment, acknowledgment of Syaoran's confusion, anger, and frustration, all that was packed into one and delivered in form of a kick to a defenseless tree.

Syaoran's chest rapidly puffed out forward and back then repeating the two simple steps again and again, showing his frustration in a simpler form of quick, blunt breaths. Why was this haunting him so much? This feeling that kept his heart almost at a barrier within a cage whenever he thought of her, reprimanding him harshly, sharply reminding him of his duties and limitations. Those bitter limitations of a warrior. However, whenever his presence was near hers, just looking at her into those shining emerald eyes, sent his tightly locked-up heart battering against the bars of the tight cage, sending a sharp ache in his chest, one that he ceased to get used to.

He sighed heavily. His breathing slowed down and the anger and frustration was slowly drained from his body, leaving behind an exhausted Syaoran. What was he to do? He couldn't go on like this, loving with limitations from afar, keeping his secret from his locked destination to a warrior. If he had explained this theory to any passing one on the street, they would stare and laugh, in amusement of a little boys silly theories and crazy ideas of love. "Just because you're destined to be a warrior, a leader of a powerful clan, your heart isn't free to love?" These words would exactly be what would pop out from the person's mouth.

But what they didn't understand was the understanding and feeling that was installed into his mind, programmed so that would be the rule he would live by, never to be violated or betrayed. The clan had put on him a lot of weight, weight that would discipline him and teach him from right and wrong for a person that had a tight destination, a high expectation. If he would betray all that with a funny emotion from the heart, wouldn't he let all that down, let all the weight pull him down and crush him, left helpless and hopeless for people to stare down and shake their heads in a sorry 'tsk, tsk' manner, something he wouldn't be able to tolerate, something he had to beat and not let something as weak as love.

As Syaoran was unaware that he had been wandering around that small area of dirt path for five minutes pondering his ever-so confusing love, Touya was walking up that very same path, Meiling resting in his arms, a peaceful look now settled onto her face as she had a special person's arms around her, holding her tight to his chest, willing to risk anything and everything to keep the precious being in his arms safe and secure. Syaoran stopped stepping around mindlessly, as he sensed somebody's presence, and he turned only to find Touya with his sister in his arms.

All thoughts seemed to try and scatter, in fear that Sakura's over-protective older brother would find out what complications were swimming around in Syaoran's head. However, on the outside, Syaoran's eyes seemed to narrow by a very large amount and his scowl darkened, wondering just why Meiling would be found unconscious in Touya's arms. Touya had stopped, completely lost on what exactly the younger boy would be thinking right now as he focused a severe look straight into his own eyes, making him even nervous.

"What happened?" Syaoran abruptly demanded after an almost eternal-like silence. Touya paused momentarily, attempting to find a way to explain the situation at hand without making it sound too imaginary or, to put it bluntly, insane. How in all of hell would he be able to explain to Meiling's over-protective twin brother that a couple of unruly men were about to kidnap his sister to put her on ransom or, if anything else, God-knows-what.

Syaoran stood there, his suspicious growing by the second. He wanted to know what had happened and every single detail. "Well, you see," Touya started, Syaoran staring on expectantly, "Meiling was nearly kidnaped, and I rescued her. I had planned to bring her straight home and let her rest away the trauma, but instead I bumped into you." The glare that Syaoran was boring into Touya was starting to annoy him. So, in a defensive response, Touya's eyes started to involuntarily narrow as well, ultimately starting a small staring contest.

A bit of Syaoran's guard was let down as he let out a small sigh. "Give Meiling here." Syaoran ordered gruffly, finally looking away. Touya kept a disliking eye on Syaoran as he handed him his twin sister. Syaoran proceeded to get Meiling onto his back as a piggy-back ride. Although Meiling was not that much shorter than Syaoran, she was held nice and easy as if it didn't take Syaoran any strength whatsoever. Touya released everything with a heavy sigh, and then slipped his hands into his pockets, trudging along the dirt path, the same condition Syaoran had been, the same, infamous problems clouding his mind and pulling his heart.

~*~

"I'm home." Eriol called out with a worn out voice, taking off his bag and making his way to his special red 'throne.' "Back, Eriol-sama? Dinner will be ready soon!" Nakuru called out to inform him. Spinel rolled his eyes at the thought of the other guardian. "I suggest you don't feast on her meal tonight. She's attempting to make orange chicken." Spinel said to Eriol, still rolling her eyes. "Geez, Suppi, I heard that!" Nakuru whined from the kitchen, obviously a simpler way to say that her orange chicken was just fine. Eriol gave a small chuckle although he wasn't all that amused. His mind was tired from thinking about [her] all day long, and his heart was heavy with confusion and frustration, just about the same condition that a few other people were in.

"Right, Eriol-sama?" This broke Eriol away from his thoughts and led him to turn his head. "Hm? Oh, yes, sure." Petty little arguments between Spinel and Nakuru and such weren't the top of the priority list, one would speculate. Eriol hurriedly answered them and took the chance to escape to his room where the calm air would allow him a chance to let the blood flow in his head normally. He let himself collapse onto his bed, leaving himself to stare up at the ceiling idly, his eyes holding a faraway look, a distant glow, a look that told the world that his head was tangled in situations too complicated for magic to solve.

He turned onto his stomach and gave a deep sigh. He was tired of this. Tired of his mind being cluttered with endless thoughts of [her], the one he was supposed to hate, supposed to loathe. On the contrary, here he was, lying face-down on his bed, wondering about how terrible life would be without her, yet at the same time would do him much good considering the fact that his brain wouldn't lose so many cells just simply pondering about any subject on her. He found himself sighing once more as he pushed himself back up into a sitting position.

[Tomoyo finally took a deep breath. "I want to thank you, Hiiragizawa. For everything."] As the memory was recalled onto his mind, Eriol couldn't help but smile, feeling the swelling happiness in his heart. He reached for his bag and took out the materials needed for his assignment that night. However, his heart was unexpectedly light and sweet, a complete contrast to the state it was in just seconds ago. Maybe love wasn't such a poison to your heart after all. However, it was a very peculiarly strange thing. Very strange indeed.

~*~

Tomoyo liked it. She liked the feeling of the cool wood against her forehead. After all, she was still sick with fever. She had insisted that she was feeling much better and that she should go to school. She [was] missing days of valuable lesson, and it was also giving her precious time away from her mother whom she was still pretty much frustrated with. And despite the high feeling of temperature that aroused on anyone's hand when it came in contact with her forehead, the maids were insisted that she was just fine. Sakura believed all that as well, as Tomoyo was a smart, honest girl that would know if she wasn't sick or not. However, what Kinomoto Sakura didn't understand was the reason why they had to come to school so friggin' early.

Few teachers were around and the sky wasn't absolutely lit just yet. And it was 6:00 in the morning. Sakura gave a yawn as she covered her mouth with her hand to avoid rudeness. "You're tired too, Tomoyo?" Sakura queried sleepily, her eyes half-open in a drowsy sort of look. Tomoyo didn't answer as she was half-asleep herself. However, the lack of response didn't stop Sakura with her inquiries. "Explain to me again Tomoyo, why did we have to come this early, please?" Sakura asked as she yawned another time, tears gathering at the corner of her eyes. This time Tomoyo spoke up.

"Because, Sakura, being in school early is a good thing. Don't you just [love] the feeling you get when you're sitting in your seat in your classroom?" Tomoyo responded drowsily with a voice out of the range of "normal". However, Sakura was just too tired to notice. "Oh yeah, huh." And with that Sakura let her head drop onto her desktop with a small "bang", and her half-open, sleepy emerald eyes finally closed to regain the lack of sleep she got from waking up much earlier than the right time she usually woke up to meet.

Tomoyo was trying her best not to doze off. If she did, Mr. Terada would walk in the classroom, finding the two of them asleep and pretty much out of it. And if any other classmates happened to come by earlier than the teacher as well, there they would be, sleeping away. Tomoyo lifted her head up and off from the wooden desk top only to have it come straight back down. Whenever she lifted up her head, the world would start spinning and she would no doubt feel sick to her stomach. She just couldn't seem to sit up, causing her to start regretting her decision.

The sound of the door sliding open sent Tomoyo's head shooting up. "Good morn-" Tomoyo was just about to greet the unknown person just when she saw exactly who it was. "H-Hiiragizawa-" she stuttered just before she slipped out of her seat and came crashing to the floor. Eriol, bewildered by the scene before him, came rushing to her side in anxious worry. "Are you alright? Are you hurt anywhere?" Eriol asked hurriedly as he pulled Tomoyo to her feet, and was surprised as Tomoyo fell forward, falling onto his chest. They simply stood there for a split second, Eriol's arms around her in support, both completely aware of the awkward position.

Tomoyo was the first to clear her throat as she managed to get out of his arms, looking down at her feet. 'What are you [doing], Tomoyo? Don't act like a fool!' she rebuked herself, forcing herself to lift her head so that her eyes were facing the other's fearlessly and with pride. "Thank you for the help-" but before she could finish the sentence she stopped her words abruptly and brought her hand to her face, closing her eyes to try and make the extreme dizziness flee away. "Are you alright?" Eriol queried again in worry. Tomoyo shook her head curtly and made her way for the door. This was getting to be too much for her.

"Ah, where are you going?" Eriol inquired again, trying with all his will to keep at least some of his worry from showing through his wretched voice. "I'm just going to the nurse to lie down." And this was when she tripped once again. Eriol, in a quick reaction, jumped to her side and caught her just in time. This time, their eyes locked for a split second, before Tomoyo averted them. "Are you alright?" Eriol asked just once more, this time in a soft whisper, almost as if the wrong words could shatter Tomoyo forever. She nodded, and then smiled while she got back into a standing position.

"I'm so clumsy. I'm sorry you had to see that Hiiragizawa." Tomoyo apologized while starting to walk, although quite crookedly. Eriol smiled to himself and followed her out. In this condition, dear Tomoyo needed someone to watch over her. And he might as well be one to do just that. And as they were walking the distance to the nurse, Tomoyo couldn't help but wonder how Hiiragizawa and herself just came to be like this. How funny, just yesterday, there she was loathing Hiiragizawa for all he's worth, and now... they were what you might call friends. However, Tomoyo thought almost differently. Almost differently.

~*~

The air was cold as far as Syaoran knew. His school uniform seemed very thin right about now and he wished that the school allowed uniform winter jackets to be worn in the fall as well. And as much as he wanted to get into the warm school, he didn't speed up his pace. 6:20. The members of his family gave him a strange look and inquired with his early timing. He simply had shrugged and walked out, trudging along the way. No thoughts of training lingering in his mind, what he usually did when he got up early in the morning. What he really wanted to do was think and sort out his feelings, if it even helped. So far, it didn't.

The school was starting to approach and he gave a heavy sigh. At least he would be warm now. As he stepped in the school, his thoughts averted to Tomoyo. He wondered, was she okay? After all, she was his one and only best friend despite all things. And he also worried. He had known for a pretty long time now. He had known her long enough to know that she did just about the craziest things to save her pride, do her best, and other such things. He hoped, hoped with all his heart, that today she wasn't crazy enough to show up.

He was approaching his classroom, hoping that Tomoyo wasn't there yet. He put his hand on the door handle and paused for a second in hope that he wouldn't see Tomoyo in there. He slid it open, peered in, and rather than seeing Tomoyo, he saw Sakura sleeping peacefully upon her desk. For a second, he just stood there, staring at her, afraid that if he dared to step in, her peaceful slumber would shatter. However, he stepped in, still rather quietly, and made his way towards his desk. He shook his head. This was the work of Tomoyo once again.

He kneeled down with eye level to Sakura's face, just simply staring. It brought peace to his heart, surprisingly, the same girl that caused him all his trouble. A small smile made its way to his face as he continued to stare at her, his face only inches away from hers and he was oh-so-terribly aware of the closeness. But there he was, stuck, his eyes never moving its gaze and rarely blinking. His breath involuntarily stopped, and there he was, holding his breath, staring at the girl that had unexpectedly taken his heart away with such professional innocence. He brought his hand to her face and brushed a stray strand away from her face. It was a sight to see indeed, the cold and aloof Syaoran being so tender and gentle with such an average little girl. And indeed, this sight Eriol did see.

"What are you doing there, my little descendant?" Eriol inquired with his usual sly and mischievous voice. Syaoran jumped back five feet, his heart giving a giant leap. He turned his eyes toward Eriol and narrowed them in a death glare. But still, that didn't scare Eriol. Rather, it just satisfied him. Eriol simply stood there with a steady smirk. However, inside, he was just glad that Tomoyo still wasn't here.

Sakura started to stir, and her emerald eyes opened. Her eyes were blank for a second, wondering where she was at the moment. Then it hit her. Her head shot up and she saw Syaoran and Eriol. She abruptly stood up and bowed in embarrassment. "I'm sorry! Was I sleeping long? Was I being rude?" Sakura asked in a jumble of words, completely embarrassed. Syaoran just shook his head, avoiding eye contact. He couldn't face her after Eriol caught him. "No, of course not. Let's just say someone enjoyed watching you sleep." Eriol said slyly, earning glares from Syaoran. Predictably, Sakura gave a small "hoe?".

~*~

Tomoyo closed her eyes as her head rested against the pillow of a bed in the nurse's office. She just knew about the scolding she would receive from all her maids and guards. "Miss Tomoyo, you shouldn't go around when you are sick. Please, don't be so stubborn and get your rest!" She could just hear their voices inside her head as if it wasn't aching and pounding enough. Anyways, her guards were on their way and soon enough, she would be back home in her bed. For now, the nurse had told her to rest, and as the last of her was drifting away to dream world, a memory from earlier appeared in her thoughts, carrying over to her dreams...

[As Tomoyo half-staggered to the designated place, Eriol followed her, ready at any time to catch her when she would stumble, trip, or plain collapse. Soon enough, the two made it to the office to find the nurse not exactly ready to work just yet. As they waited, silence had taken over them. Eriol kept glancing at her every now and then to see her in deep thought. About what, he wasn't sure at all.]

[Tomoyo had been pondering. Pondering about what exactly had caused this sudden and contrasting change in the bond between her and Eriol. Or if you would exactly call what they had a "bond". On the other hand, Eriol was getting uncomfortable with the surprisingly "loud" silence. "Um, Daidouji?" Eriol said with an unusually high voice and a very informal manner in which he reprimanded himself for. "Yes?" Tomoyo answered in a voice that most obviously sounded sick. However, to Eriol, it was unexplainably sweet, sweeter than he would imagine.]

["This coming Tuesday, Meiling wants to go to the beach as the forecasts say that day is going to be warm for a fall day. Would you like to go?" Eriol asked, smiling hopefully, a real smile, not a smirk as he usually gave Tomoyo. She turned her eyes on him, shaking off the oncoming thought that it sounded like an invitation to a date. For a second, she studied his face, absorbing in those sincere eyes and sweet smile, a smile she hadn't seen in a while. And then the corners of her mouth turned up as well. "Of course Hiiragizawa." she whispered in lack of strength. "Then you better rest up." he advised teasingly, winking at her. She nodded in agreement, and there they sat the rest of the time, not saying anything, but this time a peaceful silence had took over, a soothing one.]

"Ojou-sama, Ojou-sama, wake up." Tomoyo opened her eyes slowly to find one of her guards gently shaking her. She sat up, feeling a low, dull ache pounding in her head. "Let's get you going." her guard said, and helped Tomoyo up and start walking. Tomoyo held up a hand to her forehead, trying to disperse the pain away. While in the midst of all this, she wondered in the back of her mind, a small curious wonder, why in all of the earth was she dreaming about that particular conversation she had with Hiiragizawa?

She had to admit, after breaking the enemy crap, she was free from a lot of stress, but it was just all very strange and unfamiliar to her. To have her worst enemy, Hiiragizawa Eriol, be her [friend]. That was a strange thought, and she wondered just what [Syaoran] would think. He was also pretty much enemies with Hiiragizawa as well. But even as these thoughts ran through her head, she couldn't imagine being back into an enemy relationship with Eriol. It just didn't hit her as such a great idea - or feeling for that mater. She closed her eyes and put her head back onto the leather seats of her limo. She'd think about all of life's problems later. She couldn't think of such things, after all, she had a trip to look forward to and rest up for.

~*~

A soft breeze blew around a trio as they walked home from school, just like any group of friends. However, no chatter rose among them as it would among a gather children, talking about the day they had at school, complaining about the difficult assignment that was given to them that day in school, or just chatting about small life problems in their pre-teenage world. It appeared as each of them seemed to be in deep thought, a distant light glowing within their eyes, a light that reflected just a piece of what could have been going on within their young minds.

"So, my little descendants, how was school?" Eriol spoke up, trying to keep the thought of what had happened earlier off his mind and starting a conversation. Syaoran was interrupted from his thoughts, and then he turned to glare at Eriol. "You were there with us, remember?" he spat out bitterly, thinking distastefully of the comment Eriol had made to Sakura earlier. "Fine." Meiling replied, in a distant, monotonous voice. Syaoran and Eriol both put their gazes on her, wondering what could be troubling her so.

"Meiling, are you alright?" Eriol proceeded to ask in place of her brother, earning another glare from him. "Huh? Oh, I'm fine! Nothing to worry over!" Meiling exclaimed reassuringly, pasting on her face a smile, a fake one at that. Eriol studied her carefully while Syaoran rose an eyebrow. Meiling glanced at the two. "What?" she asked innocently, knowing that they had sensed her falseness. Before they would ask anymore, she turned around abruptly. "Um, I have something to do right now. I'll see you both later. Bye!" And from that instant, she broke out into a sprint, leaving the two staring after her quickly retreating back. As she ran away into the distance, Syaoran had a feeling that he knew exactly where she was going.

~*~

As Touya sat, attempting to give full concentration to his assignment that night, he found that doing just that was an impossible task. His mind couldn't help but wander away, away to the girl that he had rescued just yesterday. He tapped the desk with his pencil ceaselessly as if it would bring him to concentration, but to no avail. It was a little girl, for Heaven's sake! A girl his own [sister's] age! Heaven [dare] him to believe that he could possibly be in love with a girl that was so forbiddenly young. He laughed at himself. How could he even think that? However, his laughter died and so did his smile and all the amusement that could be squeezed out of this serious situation. Serious, even if Touya wished the world that it wasn't.

Suddenly, he heard a knock at his door and his head snapped up. "Come in." he called, and then the knob of the door slowly and tentatively turned. The door was pushed open, and there stood Meiling, the most unreadable look he had ever seen set on her face. "May I help you?" he asked, ignoring the slow-rising feeling of contentment in his stomach. Meiling stepped into the room just a bit further. "I just never got to properly thank you for yesterday. If it wasn't for you... who knows where I would be right now?" Touya stared as she spoke while fidgeting with her hands and staring down at her feet. And, at that moment, everything seemed to be perfect and just right.

Touya reached a hand over and rested it on Meiling's shoulder. She looked up, a bright blush spread evenly across the middle of her face. "You don't need to thank me. I'd do anything for you, after all, your brother would surely kill me if I didn't." Touya winked as he said the last part, the pace of his heartbeat quickening up by the second. Meiling smiled, happiness radiating from it, which looked absolutely the most beautiful thing Touya had ever come across in his life. "Now, you better get going and do your homework before it gets late." Meiling nodded in response before giving a small bow and then turning to leave the room, the biggest of smiles on her face and on his as well.

~*~

Syaoran glanced at the clock. 12:30. He yawned and looked down at the piece of paper down before him. It was Sunday night, and there was school tomorrow. Excuse me. There was school today, as it was early Monday morning. The pen in his hand awaited, waited for his hand to use it to write a song, a song that was due in less then a week. For, you see, the contest would be held on the Friday of that week. Sakura had been waiting all that time to for him to write a simple song. All due to his languidness. But he just couldn't seem to write a song. All the words that came to his mind revolved around ...

"What's wrong with me? God dammit!" he whispered fiercely, letting his head slam onto his desk. He let it stay there for a while, until the throbbing in his head went away. He lifted his head and stared down at the clean white sheet of paper. There it lay, almost challenging him to write just what was on his mind. He sighed. He had no choice but to do just that. As he set his pen down on the sheet, words poured out from his mind, actually rather his heart, and he worked there 'til dawn.

~*~

What Syaoran hadn't known was that while he was writing his own song, his best friend was sitting in her room as well, late into the night. Her cold had died down completely, and she was pretty content. But what to write, what to write? Unaware of Syaoran's similar situation, all that was filling her mind were lyrics that had to do with her unrequited love. Her mind traced back and thought about the way her "friendship" with Hiiragizawa was going. No, she was certain he wouldn't tease her. Certain. With lack of anything else to write about, she sat there, writing, editing, and re-editing her song. It had to be perfect, absolutely perfect.

And as soon as she added the finishing touches, she fell asleep right then and there, Syaoran filling her thoughts and dreams. He appeared, giving her the smile she had always dreamed that he would, and she was happy, absolutely happy. The only problem was that she was only dreaming. Only dreaming. That morning, she woke up to the sound of the maids pleading her to wake up. That day was the first day that she was nearly late to school.

~*~

"Syaoran, you okay?" Syaoran turned his head and saw Meiling staring at him worriedly. He groggily shook his head and then put his head back down. "What time did you sleep last night?" she prodded again, curious to see what was wrong with her brother. "Huh? Oh, I [didn't] sleep." Meiling cocked her head curiously, her eyes shining with question. "You see, I was writing the song. Apparently, it took all night." Syaoran replied, yawning audaciously for his usual behavior.

"Ooh, let me see! Please Syaoran?" Meiling pleaded, jumping up from her seat, attaining quite a bit of attention. Syaoran handed the lyric sheet to her, his head down all the while. Her eyes scanned the paper, shining. "Aww, Syaoran, it's wonderful!" she squealed, crushing the rather poor sheet of paper to her chest. "How did you come up with it?" she asked curiously. At times like these, Syaoran wished that his sister wasn't so curious all the time. He blushed heavily. "I don't know." he answered unconvincingly, immediately lighting a sly smile to Meiling's face.

"Oh, I see, Syaoran." she spoke, her voice dripping with sweet slyness, spreading the paper out in front of her, ready to read the lyrics. Suddenly, a sound of pounding footsteps was followed by the sound of the door sliding open. "We made it!" Sakura shouted in victory, panting all the while. Tomoyo was next to her, her breathing labored as well. Syaoran had never moved so fast in his life as he jumped out of his seat and snatched the piece of paper away from Meiling, and sat back down, stuffing the paper into his bag.

Sakura and Tomoyo dragged themselves to their seats and sat down, letting themselves fall into it. "Good morning." Sakura mumbled, getting a response from Meiling. However, Syaoran just sat there, his face color completely red. Tomoyo looked behind her, and saw that the usual person wasn't sitting there today. Eriol's desk stood empty, lighting an instinctual worry in Tomoyo's mind. "Where's Hiiragizawa?" she inquired, turning to Meiling. "I'm right here, Daidouji." a familiar and much-wanted voice spoke. She snapped around and saw Eriol's face smiling or smirking back at hers - either one fit. "That worried I see." he teased, earning a scowl from her.

Tomoyo blushed a tiny, tiny amount - to her ultimate horror - and she snapped back around. "Don't be an idiot, Hiiragizawa. Of course it was only because we have to practice for the duet today, remember?" Tomoyo reasoned pridefully, extinguishing the very unwanted blush away immediately. Eriol smiled again. "Whatever you say Daidouji." Eriol teased. "Whatever you say." And not much attention was paid to the little scenario as Syaoran was blushing away and Sakura sat there, still to the very moment, trying to catch her breath. However, Meiling heard every word, caught every double-meaning implication, sensed the emotions that were betraying every word, every expression. And she wondered, just what the heck was going on between these two former enemies?

~*~

Meiling sighed, bored. Very bored. Sakura and Syaoran had gone off to work on the duet, and same with Tomoyo and Eriol, leaving Meiling alone with no one to play with, talk to. It seemed as if everyone was in pairs but her. If she hadn't heard wrong from Touya, Yukito and Nakuru, the "weird kid's" guardian were happily bounded in love, and also, her sister Feimei was "together" with a classmate of theirs. Of course, Meiling wouldn't have heard it from her sister directly. Feimei never told Meiling anything about her personal school life.

Meiling sighed. The thought of the small talk she had with Touya yesterday returning to her mind. Every minute, every second seemed special to her. She was happy even when she just caught sight of him. It was actually very unnerving and she didn't know what to do about it. "What are you doing just standing there?" an all-too-familiar voice called out to her. She snapped around to find Touya standing behind her. She stumbled a few steps back. "Ah, um nothing. Just trying to find something to do cause, you see... everyone else is busy and I have no homework so..." she trailed off, feeling awkward.

"So you're in the same situation as me, huh? Then, let's just go take a walk, shall we?" Touya suggested, smiling easily. Meiling stared wide-eyed. Spending a walk with Touya, alone? Things just couldn't get any sweeter! Meiling nodded in agreement. "Shall we?" he asked charismatically, smiling at Meiling. Her cheeks colored brightly and she nodded, smiling happily and following his lead.

As they walked together, at first they found that conversation was just beyond there reach. If only they could strike up an interesting conversation in which both could engage. "So, you do know who's chaperoning you to the beach tomorrow, right?" Touya asked casually in lack of anything better to say. "Tomoyo's bodyguards, I believe." Meiling responded, twiddling her fingers in nervousness. "They can't go, so their sending," Touya paused and sighed before continuing. "me, Yuki, and Akizuki." he groaned, thinking about all the trouble that would strike up the following day. Meiling's heart gave a little jump.

"But I [really] do wish that Akizuki wasn't going. If only that little weird kid wasn't going..." Touya mumbled, trailing off at the last part. Meiling laughed heartily and looked up at him. "Hey, don't tease Eriol! He's really nice!" she protested jokingly, her laughter fading from the intense look that had crossed his face. "What's wrong?" she queried in a curious voice. "Ah, oh nothing." he shook it off, also trying to shake off the jealous pang he got when she mentioned Eriol. He side-glanced at Meiling, who walked alongside him, her pace fast to keep up with his long strides, a confused look pasted onto her face, a rare, a very rare blush crossing his face.

Meiling was confused. Very confused. The suddenly serious look that Touya had gotten was almost frightening, and Meiling wanted to know why he looked so damn unhappy all of a sudden. She tried to clear her head of these thoughts, trying to think up of more conversations to bring up. There were many things that they still didn't know about each other, and she was curious. Curious about him, Touya. In the back of her mind, however, a small existing flame burned. The happiness that she couldn't help but feel when he had told her that he would be chaperoning them. And that was all to make Meiling happy.

~*~

Fang-Fei kicked a pebble and watched it roll down the street. She sighed wistfully as the scene of earlier had come back to her mind. It was no doubt what Syaoran had written in his lyrics. It was written all over his face. Of course, she hadn't said anything. She wasn't affected, she wasn't supposed to care anymore, remember? But still, slowly, very slowly, a tear made its way down her cheek, dropping onto the ground in one, neat drop of crystal. But still. It hurt so much. So, so, [so] much.

~*~

Eriol knew it. He had just known it. An unappreciated feeling of envy and sorrow came over him as he read the lyrics that Tomoyo had slaved over so last night. Tomoyo spoke nothing, and Eriol felt like he knew why. "They're very good, Daidouji. Very... beautiful." he complimented barely above a whisper, handing the sheet of paper back to Tomoyo. "Thank you." she answered in the same volume of voice, keeping her eyes glued to the glossy, wooden floor of Eriol's house. It was smooth and polished, very kempt and orderly. It made her wonder if it was magic.

"How about we put the song together now?" he suggested, and was responded with a curt nod. They made way to his music room, both unusually silent with surprisingly heavy hearts. Not a word was exchanged, and Eriol took a seat at his piano, playing the music one last time before she would sing to it. As they practiced, edited, and practiced some more, both couldn't help but feel sorrow, a bitter emotion of blueness. The reasons were also ambiguous and obscure, especially for Tomoyo. Why did she feel such guilt as she had looked upon the look on Eriol's face. But the tears clearly stung as she sang the song, the song that seemed to cry out to Syaoran, "just notice me once, just once ... please ... ?"

~*~

Sakura's delicate face was colored red, very much a dark scarlet color. The lyrics that Syaoran had written were so ... familiar. It was almost as if the words were calling out to her, saying "this is how you feel, don't you?", mocking her, challenging her. "Th-they're [really] nice!" she emphasized, nervously handing back the sheet. "Eh, thanks." Syaoran responded as monotonous and indifferent as he could to keep the exuberance from spilling over in his voice. She had complimented him after all.

"I think we should work on the whole song now." Sakura said, Syaoran nodding in agreement. "I think you should sing the lyrics. You've probably got a better singing voice than mine, and this is obviously something a girl would sing ..." Syaoran trailed off, awkwardly trapped. Sakura smiled and nodded. "Sure." she agreed, reaching back for the sheet. She stopped and turned an inquisitive look towards Syaoran. "But what are you going to use for the music?" Syaoran sighed and looked away, blushing. "I have an old guitar I used to play..."

~*~

Meiling sighed. A stroll around the park and dinner. Almost like... a date. Meiling blushed heavily and shook away those thoughts. A date? She figured she had finally flipped out. But she was happy, nonetheless. Finishing the day with a walk home alongside Touya was perfect, absolutely perfect. Somehow it seemed that even though the lived under the same roof, they didn't spend enough time. But every moment spent with Touya was sweet and perfect and was golden. And what she didn't know was that it was just the same for Touya. Just the same.

~*~

"You think it's done?" Tomoyo asked, glancing at Eriol. He nodded solemnly, mindlessly pressing a few bars of the piano in a random tune. An awkward silence had come over the two of them as Eriol continued playing the unidentified melody and Tomoyo standing there, waiting for the other to make a gesture, say a word. "Well, I better get going." Tomoyo said, breaking the silence. Eriol gave an acknowledging nod and got up from his spot on the piano. Tomoyo gave him an inquisitive eye. "I'll walk you home." he explained shortly and led her to the door.

The two stepped out into the fresh, cool night air. Every time a breath was released, a cloud would momentarily appear in the air and then just vanish. Eriol looked over at Tomoyo, who was walking with her head down. He averted his eye before she would catch him. Eriol cleared his throat, catching Tomoyo's attention. "So, what do you think about our song?" he asked, trying to start up a casual conversation. "I think it's fine." Tomoyo answered nonchalantly, not looking back up at him. "Er, that's good." Eriol responded back devoid of a better response.

They stayed that way for the rest of the way to her house, silent and speechless. Soon enough, Tomoyo's house, or rather mansion, appeared into view, and Eriol felt a strange mixed emotion of gladness and disappointment. They had nothing to say which was apparently rather uncomfortable. But it was still almost sweet just walking alongside Tomoyo. But it was also bitter knowing that here Tomoyo was, walking by his side while wishing that another was by her side. Very, very painful. Before he knew it, they had stopped in front of her house.

For a moment, they stood there, not knowing what to say. "Practice a lot for the competition. I will with my piano." Eriol started, fortunately. Tomoyo nodded in agreement. "I'll see you tomorrow at the beach." Tomoyo spoke albeit awkwardly. "Okay." he answered contemplating to turn and walk away. He backed up just a bit and started to walk towards his home. Then he heard a "Wait, Hiiragizawa." He looked over his shoulder, one of his eyebrows raised. "Good night and thank you." Tomoyo nearly whispered. But still, Eriol heard every word. He smiled, a small but genuine smile. "You too, Daidouji. Good night." he answered and waited to see Tomoyo get past her gate. That was enough to bring a smile to a depressed Eriol's face. But, what in all of hell did she thank him for?

~*~

Sakura hummed their completed song as she skipped home. It had a catchy tune and the words were just... applicable to herself. Syaoran gave a sideways glance, almost humiliated with the ardently ridiculous lyrics he had come up with. However, Sakura seemed to like them. And that was enough, he supposed. It was strange, Syaoran mused as he thought about the practice time he had spent with them mysterious girl. It seemed as if he had no negative feelings towards her, no matter what she does. Of course, the revelation that he was in love with her was already pretty damn clear to him, but to feel this much affection for someone was just frightening. For Li Syaoran, of course.

"You're [really] good at playing the guitar!" Sakura commented in the sudden moment, turning towards Syaoran with sparkling eyes and colored cheeks. Syaoran's face colored as well, and he abruptly turned his head. "Aa. Thank you." he responded almost nonchalantly, his mind telling him to do so while his heart telling him to do the exact opposite. "I really hope that we do well! I'll try my best!" Sakura exclaimed in her common way, her requisite way of words. Syaoran nodded quietly, savoring the little time left he had with Sakura as her home approached. Why he savored, he didn't know, but it just seemed to set itself in that way instinctively, as if he'd been accustomed to his love for Sakura since long ago.

Despite the chill in the night air, Sakura felt just as cheerful and happy as she usually did, just standing there, next to Syaoran. It was a warm feeling, an attraction that didn't match up to anything she faced back in the orphanage. Yes, she had silly crushes, and other boys had silly crushes on her, but nothing like this. Like as if a piece of Heaven had landed on Earth and the only way to savor its perfect sweetness was to be with Syaoran, the first boy she had ever fallen in love with. The only boy she felt she would ever fall in love with. The Syaoran who had stolen her heart unexpectedly, without a tactic or a strategy. Just like that. Strange, really.

She took a deep breath. "Thank you for walking me home. That's really nice and thoughtful of you, Li. A lot nicer than my brother could ever be to me." Sakura thanked gladly, her voice radiating with gratitude and slow, sweet happiness. Like a sweet cherry soda on a rainy day. Or an ice cream cone on a summer night. That summed up the sweetness that was emitted. Syaoran gave a slow and small, but still genuine smile. "You're welcome." he said quietly yet clearly. Sakura smiled another time before turning to the gate. "I'll practice hard! And I'll see you tomorrow! Have a good night!" she used her ambiguously charming cheerfulness once more before turning and skipping a half-sort of way. Syaoran smiled contentedly at her retreating back. 'You have a good night too.' he thought before turning back and returning home, head and up and looking the world in its eyes.

~*~

It was pretty. Really pretty. Sakura's head popped out of the clear, ocean water. The weather that day was apparently wonderful, as Meiling had expected, and Sakura just loved the ocean. Below the surface, a different world would appear, one that many people were afraid of. Fish swam gracefully, families of coral grew in a broad band of colors, and the seaweed danced back and forth. Sakura loved this world, during the daytime at least. During the nighttime... Sakura was just a bit afraid that a ghost would rise up from the dead souls of the ocean to haunt her. She shivered at the thought.

Her head broke through the surface and she looked towards the shore, waiting a second for the blur in her eyes to clear. "Sakura! We're going to play beach volleyball!" Sakura saw Meiling waving her hand wildly in the distance, looking excited and alive. Sakura smiled and went on swimming towards the shore. As soon as she stepped on the surfacing sand, Meiling had already grabbed Sakura's arm, whining in an excited sort of way that she had taken way too long. Sakura laughed along and smiled with her as well. Little did she know that Syaoran was watching her from a short distance away.

"Tomoyo are you going to play?" Sakura queried hopefully, turning to Tomoyo who was distantly staring into space. "Huh? Oh, no. I-I'm just going to go for a swim." Meiling blinked once, twice. "Um, ok Tomoyo." Confusion shrouded her. "If you ever want to play, we'll be glad to bring you in." Meiling added, almost to cover up for Tomoyo. She smiled. Not too big, but still a smile. "Thank you." she said barely above a whisper before going towards the water. "Fang-Fei?" She looked up to see Meiling, looking at her tentatively.

Meiling had a feeling - no, she knew - that this would be a mistake, but she nonetheless held out the ball towards Fang-Fei and offered "Do you want to play with us?" Fang-Fei's cerulean eyes pierced her own, searching, almost searching. For what, she didn't know. Could've been sincerity, trust, friendliness, anything. Then, a smile slowly crept up to her face. "Sure, Meiling, I'd love to." she answered, almost shyly but very pleasantly. And, most surprisingly, sincerely. That one smile seemed addicting as one came on each Sakura and Meiling's face.

Meanwhile, Tomoyo stared down into the water which was currently right at her ankles. It was very clear, sparkling as the sunlight reflected off it. Very pretty. "Mind if I join you?" Tomoyo's ears perked up and her eyes traveled slowly to the eyes of the beholding speaker. A bright, unique amber shone back. Tomoyo shook her head, happily and almost blissfully. "No, I don't mind." Syaoran smiled tentatively before walking out into the water. "I remember how we used to come to beaches at least three times a summer. It was such fun. Those were where we learned to swim, got those painful sunburns-" "became best friends." Tomoyo added, interrupting him. He smiled again, making her heart flutter just a bit.

"Let's go out and swim." Syaoran suggested, abruptly after a few minutes of silence had crawled by. Tomoyo nodded in agreement, a sweet smile on her face. She couldn't be any happier at this moment. Before Syaoran jumped in, he felt odd, as if the balance of [something] had gone wrong. He shook it off ignoring it. However, he couldn't help but feel as if something bad was going to happen. And oddly enough, even with the lack of magical ability, Tomoyo had the same feeling. But both was shaken off fairly quickly - it was a perfect day. What could ruin it?

For about half-an-hour, Tomoyo and Syaoran swam around in the clear blue sea, enjoying each other's company and the aura of familiarity and friendship all around them. Eriol observed all this, with almost bitter eyes. They reflected an almost gray color, stone-hard and cold. And full of sorrow. His eyes were an extraordinary thing, really. They changed shades of color, sometimes a light blue happiness shining within them, other times a sad dark blue glow resided, and yet other times, such as now, a gray showed up. A bitter, hard-cold gray.

~*~

"Are you having fun?" Meiling raised her head to the voice and saw Touya's dark eyes staring back at hers. She jumped back a little, startled. As soon as her over-anxious brain took in the information, she nodded tentatively, feeling the noticeable raise of speed in her heartbeat. "How about you?" she responded, for the sake of keeping her hold on sanity. He nodded but cast an annoyed look towards Nakuru. "But [she's] been in my hair all day, screaming about this, screaming about that. Makes it a bit difficult to keep sane." Meiling giggled at his comments towards Nakuru who was now playing ball with Sakura and Fang-Fei. "Nakuru will always be Nakuru." Meiling commented, warmth spreading throughout her heart. Touya nodded curtly in agreement.

The wind picked up. Syaoran subtly noticed but took no note of it. What could a minuscule rise in the wind speed do? However, as the wind picked up, so did the speed and force of the waves. But not so much as to be noted. They were both having so much fun, swimming around and splashing each other. Both were full of smiles which was rare in Syaoran. The only other times were occasionally with his family when something amusing or happy was taking place, or the other times when he was happy... like with Sakura. He blushed slightly at the thought.

After a while, Syaoran began to tire as he had swam earlier, training and practicing. Intensely. After he explained this, Tomoyo nodded him off with a content smile and a small happy shine in her eyes. He swam away, leaving her to venture off further in the water. Although she had a negative foreboding about it, she shook it off. What could happen on such a perfect, happy day? This left her careless and free, setting her soul flying off into the sky. She just couldn't imagine what could happen on a day such as this. Nothing could possibly be ruined. Nothing.

~*~

Eriol had a bad feeling, a very bad feeling. His eyes scanned the whole beach, looking towards where Sakura, Syaoran, Meiling, and Fang-Fei were chatting away and where Touya, Yukito, and Nakuru sat, eating a small snack. Where was Tomoyo? His eyes frantically searched the scenery before him and saw her swimming in the ocean, contentedly, peacefully. He didn't know what was going to happen, but his predictive mind warned him to keep his eye out for anything. Anything that could possibly happen, and he had the instinctive feeling to keep the closest eye on Tomoyo.

At that moment, the wind speed picked up a notch, reaching the point where the wave could wash over Tomoyo's head. Her eyes widened slightly as she ducked in the water to avoid the force of the wave. However, she was pushed around slightly underwater as well. Her head popped back up and wondered what had happened just now. As she turned her head back around, a wave jumped on her, surprising her and sending her mind spinning. She forced her head back up to cough and get a fresh breath of air only to be plummeted down once again by another wave - except this one was bigger, a lot bigger.

What was [wrong] with her? When she thought a good day was coming up, something always had to go wrong. Except this time, her life was on the line. Thoughts of death ran through her head and she felt like mumbling, if she could, "I'm going to die, I'm going to die", quite frankly, other than that, not much crossed her mind. Except the fact that she couldn't apologize to her mother or even get to see and absorb everything of her father that she had missed for eleven years. Or the fact that all her close friends and her cousin, Sakura, would be in sorrow until the death of a person finally overrides. Or the fact that she couldn't even tell Syaoran how much she actually loved him... or savor the great times she thought she would have in the near future with Hiiragizawa. But all was about to end, or as she thought anyhow.

Eriol jumped up. Something was wrong, definitely wrong. His eyes turned to his right. No, nothing wrong with the other seven currently lazing around on the beach, completely unaware. Well, except for Syaoran who looked as if he would probe it in not much time. However, Eriol ran up a small cliff overlooking the sea, only several feet above the surface of the water. Where was Tomoyo? Where the [hell] was she? He took in deep breaths. Eriol couldn't panic [now] as he never even did. And suddenly, he spotted her, gasping for breath right above the surface of the water... and then she was submerged and then disappeared.

Eriol's eyes rapidly moved back and forth over the water to find Tomoyo. No sign of her. 'The wave must have been pretty hard...' Eriol thought, still scanning the surface of the water. Then he saw something. Tomoyo's head was floating above the surface just a tiny bit then she started to sink. Terror petrified Eriol's mind. This couldn't be happening... Eriol opened his mouth and said something he wouldn't have dared to say a few days before. "TOMOYO!!!" he shouted loud and clear, tears stinging his eyes. Eriol then jumped into the ocean. He had to find her.

He moved his arms and legs frantically, trying to keep above the strong current as best as possible. It was very difficult, but he managed. It was very beneficial thing that he had practiced swimming all those years. He heard desperate shouts of Tomoyo's and his own name being called, frantic and shocked. He couldn't stop, though, until he found her and got her back to shore safe and sound. When he about reached the level of where Tomoyo was when she sunk, he took a deep breath and ducked underwater before the wave could get him.

His eyes scanned the whole area around him, his eyes concentrated. Thank the Lord it was day out. Otherwise, Eriol wouldn't have been able to find her. In the distance, a figure floated. Could it be Tomoyo? It had to be. He started to swim towards it, discovering that it [was] Tomoyo herself. He wrapped an arm around her waist and used thrice the effort, dragging Tomoyo along. They broke through the surface, and from there on, Eriol struggled even harder to try and get Tomoyo back to safety. He couldn't fail. He couldn't. He had to get her back. He couldn't just let her die. Or he'd die as well.

As Touya, Yukito, and Syaoran were ready to jump in and help at any moment, it didn't seem as if Eriol needed much at all. Yes, he was struggling very much which was very obvious, but the concentration on his face was what kept them glued to the spot. They knew he would bring her safely. It was written all over his face and was clear and unambiguous, that he would bring her back no matter what. No matter what, for one reason or another, they couldn't quite tell, he'd bring her back. Whether his life was hanging or not.

Soon enough, as Eriol was rushing anxiously, Tomoyo was on the shore of the beach, on her back. Some of the tight stress gripping his heart was released as he absorbed the fact that she was on shore and rather not in the water, drowning. Everyone else was crowded around, most obviously very worried about Tomoyo and anxious to see if she would survive. On instinct, he leaned to perform CPR. Quite frankly, although it wasn't his first time using CPR as a life device, it was awkward and strange, as if he was in a dream. Of course he wouldn't call it a kiss. But still, his lips were to her soft ones. However, he reverted his focus to the situation at hand - to save Tomoyo.

~*~

Eriol sat there in a chair within the health office of the beach, relevantly exhausted. He needed the rest too, seeing to it that he [had] used much energy to rescue Tomoyo. Not that many people would have done that, no matter how much they loved Tomoyo. He let his head hang in his hands. That was a close one. Very close. In the bed lay Tomoyo, who had apparently fainted after she had been revived of the drowning. She must have used large amounts of energy as well. Eriol sighed and just watched her sleeping peacefully. 'Daidouji, you get into too much trouble, do you know? Although you don't deserve it...' a voice in his head rang annoyingly. What good was [any] of this doing?

His head reverted back to the scene earlier. [Tomoyo]. He had actually yelled her name, not her last name, the honorable way to refer to someone not very close. It showed manners, a good presentment, and the definition of 'distance' in their 'bond.' He just hoped that no one had heard what he had called her, much less let [Daidouji] herself know. His mind averted the subject - he didn't want to ponder upon his foolish and, to put it bluntly, downright humiliating, He wouldn't be able to live seeing Tomoyo's face ever again - and yet, right now, he couldn't live without either.

Next thing he knew, he was staring down at Tomoyo, not any particular subjects or memories, just the appearance of Tomoyo's face in his. Drinking in every detail from the curve of her chin to every eyelash. He blushed heavily and reached out to wipe a few strands of her out of her eyes. No, he wasn't supposed to blush. He was the great reincarnation of Clow Reed. He couldn't waste much-needed time on foolish games like love. But pretty sure enough, it didn't sound much like a game at all. The more he knew it, the better he seemed to know the way things go and the realism involved in all of it. It wasn't all that pretty.

As he was lost in his thoughts, he had mindlessly reach over to tuck another strand of hair behind her ear. The skin of forehead was so soft and smooth. Before he realized what he was doing, his hand had slipped down to stroke her cheek, his fingers leaving a trail on her cheek, barely touched but tingling with the feeling of the slight touch. Tomoyo started to stir, movement rising in her body after a pretty long while. Her mouth opened, almost as if to speak. 'Is she awake?' Eriol wondered continuing to stare at her, to drink her in. And what he heard next sent a spark through his spinal chord.

"Eriol..." Tomoyo mumbled, almost as if she was speaking out for help. His face turned a queer tomato color, and he was looking down at Tomoyo in shock. What the [hell] was just happening? Suddenly, Tomoyo's eyes fluttered open and she sat straight up - and her face ended up just inches away from Eriol's. "H-H-Hiiragizawa!" she shrieked in a panicked manner, falling back onto the bed. She looked up at him with humiliated eyes, pleading. Pleading for what, he didn't know, but he was just utterly confused. Just like he was thinking just minute's ago.

"Did I just..." Tomoyo trailed off, not wanting to say it. Eriol nodded solemnly, still in shock, his mouth clamped tight. "I'm so sorry..." Tomoyo whispered, pulling her sheets off. "I better-" she was cut off as she tripped off of the bed. Eriol reached out and caught her in his arms. "Are you alright?" Deja vu returned to them both. It was getting stranger and stranger every time, but it wasn't [bad] or anything of that. It was almost... pleasant. Tomoyo nodded and let herself be pushed onto the bed in a sitting position. Her eyes were cast down, afraid to look up.

"You're still out of energy. Rest some more." A compassionate, caring voice. No revenge, no plans of possession, no evil intentions. She looked up to find Eriol's eyes shining back at her. She gave a tiny smile before reverting her gaze. A few minutes passed and none spoke. "But, was it that," Tomoyo started. "you had called me by [my] real name?" Eriol swallowed hard before keeping his mouth shut. It was better than lying or telling the blunt and revealed truth, especially in a friend. Eriol nodded slowly, feeling an oncoming foreboding. 'It's over, it's over, we're over.' he seemed to think, waiting for a harsh response. Rather than that, he got a giggle, a giggle that sounded like bells.

"Oh, so I see." Tomoyo teased, winking playfully. Eriol smiled along. No, it was [not] over. "How about we just do this, Daidouji." Eriol suggested in a friendly matter, receiving an inquisitive eye from Tomoyo. Eriol continued. "How about we just call each other informally... like each other's first names." He waited for the reply, anxious to see if it would be a negative or a positive one, or in other words, the unwanted or the desired. Relief spread throughout his heart as he saw the corners of Tomoyo's mouth tugging upwards.

"I think I'd like that. I think I'd truly like that... Eriol." Tomoyo spoke each word clearly and cleanly, enunciating perfectly, sweet savory rolling off her voice. "I think I'll like it as well, Tomoyo." That very moment or whatnot, Eriol was happy, truly happy as a new bond was formed, the two just looking across at each other, smiling for happiness's sake.

~End of Chapter

A/N: [Finally the chapter is DONE!] It took [months], I know. I just hope I didn't lose any readers ^^; That was a long chapter if you ask me, the longest ever written by me *sweatdrop*. So, I hope you enjoyed, if it was enjoyable at all, and I [promise] that I'll [try] to get chapters out faster. If I don't [try] then you could smack me upside the head. You know, school, homework, and those usual excuses, hehe. I hope E+T fans liked the little scene at the end. I enjoyed writing it ^__^. If I'm not wrong, wouldn't you say that this fiction is just a [bit] E+T oriented? If that's so, I'll try to make it rounded a bit better next time. For the meanwhile, read the previews:

[Syaoran's face paled. You and Hiiragizawa... nothing's... going on, is there?" Tomoyo smiled at Syaoran's antics. "Of course not, Syaoran. Why would you say?" His face was serious and unrevealing. "No, it's nothing." He cast a suspicious eye at Eriol. Whatever he was up to couldn't be good... "Are you sure Hiiragizawa's up to no good?" Tomoyo gave Syaoran a strange eye. "Syaoran, he's not that bad."]

[Sakura's knees buckled as she stood in front of the hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people. The day had finally arrived. They had practiced much over the last few days, and Sakura hoped it wasn't going to be in vain. The music started playing, Syaoran playing the guitar. Sakura smiled, feeling his near presence right there. That gave her the bit of courage necessary. As her cue came up, she opened her mouth and took a deep breath.]

["Hiiragizawa." a familiar voice rang out. Eriol turned to find Syaoran staring harshly. "Oh, my little descendant. What's wrong?" Eriol spoke in that sugary sweet voice Syaoran loathed so much. However, Syaoran walked straight towards Eriol and kept Eriol against the wall by trapping Eriol's neck with his hand. "Break her heart, and I'll break your head." Eriol found that amusing, very amusing. "I'd rather say the same to you." And with that, he walked away, leaving behind a confused Syaoran.]

["You're a great girl, Meiling." She stopped dead in her tracks. He had just called her Meiling. He had always called her "kid" or "girl" before... "What's wrong?" he inquired, looking back at her. "Ayah, nothing, Touya." He colored scarlet and turned around. He felt her slip her hand into his, and it never changed. It may have seemed as if it was a brother and a little sister, holding hands and walking, however, it sure didn't feel that way.]

["SAKURA!" Sakura turned shocked to find Syaoran charging at her and pushing her rather forcefully out of the way of a speeding car. They both lay there on the end of the crosswalk, Syaoran's arms locked around Sakura as he winced in pain. Sakura just lay there, an oddly mixed emotion in her heart. He had just saved her life, and the shout of her name still rang in her ears like a bell. Tears filled her eyes. What the hell had she just done?]

["I think it's about high time you actually meet your daughter and niece." Sonomi suggested coldly, glancing at Konoko. "I think so too. Tonight, I will." Sonomi scoffed. "Don't think that Tomoyo will love you just because you're her father. She is very angry about all the lies, all the hurt of thinking she had no faster." Sonomi smirked almost triumphantly. "I know, dearest, I fear she has your fire." he grinned, attaining an unappreciative glare.]

["A new student has joined our class. His name is Satoshi Yogami. Everyone welcome him warmly." Sakura's attention seemed to be caught as soon as she heard the name. Could it be? Was it him? Yes, it apparently was as a boy with black hair and deep green eyes strode into the room. His eyes seemed to be locked on Sakura. Syaoran couldn't help but feel contempt for this stranger boy. Much contempt.]

End of Previews

Lots of fun next time! I'm estimating that chapter will be long as well so keep your eyes out! Please review 'cause I want to see just how much you like it! The more reviews, the more fuel [hopefully] burns. So review away, please? 'Til next chapter! Ja ne!