Go to Chapter one for all the DISCLAIMER fun!
Author's Note: Yep, there's a sequel. It's 'Kitaku', which you might have heard me whining about. It's big. I'm working on it. It's almost done. This fic and that one have taken over seven months of work. I've loved almost all of it. BUT...it will be a bit of time before Kitaku is done. Check the end of the story for links to more ExT loveliness.
Dedicated: To Chelle-sama, for beta and laughs.
* * * (The Fourth Year After Leaving Tomoeda) * * *
"Thank you for inviting me over to make Valentines chocolates, Sonomi-obasan." Sakura greeted as she stepped into the door of the Daidouji mansion.
"I'm very glad you could come, Sakura-chan." Sonomi smiled. "Tomoyo and I have a lot of chocolates to make, and it's much more fun to do this with friends."
"You're going to make chocolates, too? For who?" Sakura was mystified.
"Oh, you know, grandfather." Sonomi said airily.
"Her boyfriend." Tomoyo added, grinning down into her mixing bowl. "Come and get an apron, Sakura-chan." She padded her way back to the kitchen. "Mother has been dating and she wants to make her boyfriend chocolates."
"So that's why we're here and not at my house!" Sakura chirped. "Because Daddy is at my house and he would probably tease you about a boyfriend." She shook her head. "Daddy is weird sometimes."
"Oh, he'd probably say something. Men are funny creatures." Sonomi agreed, coloring slightly. "Tomoyo is also making chocolates for her boyfriend." She stated amicably. Tomoyo whirled on her.
"Mother! I am making chocolates for Eriol-kun and Ruby Moon. I'm sending a gift to Spinel as well. Cheese and crackers." She added, before Sakura could ask. Tomoyo turned back to her mixing bowl, cheeks scarlet. "Besides, Valentines Day is different in England. It's a time for friends."
Sakura blinked at the exchange. "Mou, it's still strange to know that you know about the Cards and the Guardians." She said to Sonomi, apparently willing to ignore the Eriol-issue. "I can't believe you found Tomoyo-chan's tapes." She beamed, "It's nice having somebody else know the secret." Sonomi made a noncommittal sound but said no more as a flare of pinkish light erupted from Sakura's handbag.
"Daidouji-sama," Mirror said, "please may I be allowed to make chocolates with you today?" She bowed slightly. Sonomi stared openly, having never met one of the cards before.
"It wouldn't be the same without you, Mirror-san." Tomoyo smiled. "If you would take a form, I'll get you an apron." She towed her mother toward the closet. "That is Mirror-san." She whispered. "She's one of the Sakura Cards. Every year she makes an angel chocolate for Touya-san." She opened the closet door. "Be glad it isn't Kero-chan. He'd eat all the candies as soon as we finished. Mirror-san is very nice. She's helped Sakura a lot, before her family knew about the Cards." Tomoyo grabbed the blue apron from its hook. "She's probably going to take Sakura-chan's form. It's what she normally does. Okay?"
Sonomi shook herself. "Alright." She said brightly to her daughter and the two Sakura's in her kitchen. "Let's get to work on our Valentines."
* * *
Happy birthday! I suppose it should be 'Eriol-san' now shouldn't it? Enclosed is your present from Ruby Moon and Spinel, and me. There are two versions, the second was Ruby Moon's idea, but most of the words are from Spinel.
Eriol set aside the letter and lifted out a videocassette. Ruby Moon, he noted, bounced with glee.
"Tomoyo-chan finished it!" She ran for the TV room. "Come on! SUPPI! Tomoyo-chan finished the video in time! It's HERE!" She shrieked.
Spinel opened the door just in time to prevent Ruby Moon from slamming into it. "I know. I've gotten everything ready."
"It was Suppi's idea and then I taped you in secret and I think Tomoyo-chan's mom taped her, not in secret, and Tomoyo-chan did the editing on her computer. And she came up with the words because she said that's what you looked like you were thinking about and that's what the music made her think of and she even said that you write beautiful music and last time was…"
"Ruby Moon, try to breathe. Can I at least see what's on the tape before you tell me the entire history behind it?"
"A good idea, Akizuki-san. Let's see what the three of you have given Eriol for his birthday." Kaho set a pillow in her lap and if she crushed it to her chest a little harder than normal, nobody noticed. "I do wonder that nobody let me in on the surprise…I might have been able to help."
Ruby Moon grabbed Eriol in a hug suddenly as the video started. "I hope you love it. We worked really hard and thought for a long time about what to get for you. We wanted you to like it. Sixteen is special."
Eriol patted her back. "I'm sure I'll lo…" He trailed off as a swell of music filled the room and an image filled the screen. He was seated at the piano, playing a song he'd been tinkering with for months. He'd been thinking of getting Tomoyo's help with the words…but he didn't need to now. Tomoyo, through the magic of digital editing, had appeared to stand in the curve of the piano. A place she had stood in the few times that they had performed together. She smiled in his direction and he smiled down at the keys. She turned to smile into the screen, at him, and began to sing.
Even a small butterfly
can cross an ocean.
"Someday, for sure," is all I can tell you,
but that is so frustrating to me.
It's OK to believe; a rainbow is coming
to the tips of your toes.
It's OK to believe; your time will come
soon, in the middle of
a new breeze.
Eriol closed his eyes to mere slits, turning his head slightly to listen. 'Like this' he thought to himself, 'like this and it's like watching in the mirror at the other end of the music room. We could be practicing together...' Kaho nudged him and nodded to the screen.
So yes, your dreams are definitely coming.
Spread your arms open wide.
Without a doubt, your tears know that;
they came from tomorrow
to tell you.
He watched Tomoyo's face, serene as she sang. He squinted again, imagining, as she moved into the last lines.
It's OK to believe; your dreams are coming
Just for you.
It's OK to cry; any kind of sadness
will turn into wings
for your heart.
The notes died away and Eriol found himself watching the picture change with blurry eyes. Tomoyo standing in her living room replaced his music room. "And now," She said, "a very special Ruby Moon and Spinel version of the song." The image shifted back into his piano room and this was one of the experimental versions, much faster and with a different tone. Tomoyo began to sing again.
"I want a pony and I want cake…jeez, hurry up—how long can it take? It's my birthday and I want it now. Candies and presents, pretty new clothes. I want everything. I want it all. It's MY birthday, time to do what I want…It's my BIRTHDAY and what I say GOES! Where's my new car and fancy new boat? Where's my castle and its doublewide moat? TODAY is my BIRTHDAY! Mine, all mine! Today is my birthday if you don't like it…FINE!"
And he began to laugh.
* * *
It's nothing compared to the birthday gift that you gave me, but I'm sending it anyway as a most inadequate 'thank you'. It's the Author's copy of 'Facts of True Fiction'. I want you to have it, please.
Tomoyo stroked the cover of the book. He shouldn't have given her this; this was his copy, the first copy. It was something special, it meant something.
"Something from England, Tomoyo?" Sonomi smiled into her teacup.
"Yes. Eriol-san has sent me a copy of the book he and Yamazaki-san have written." She slid the book, carefully, across the table to her mother.
"He's written you a message, too, Tomoyo." Sonomi said handing it back and moving to rinse out her cup—there were some things that required a bit of tact and privacy.
Tomoyo flipped to the flyleaf and stopped, staring. "For the best friend and unofficial editor I could have ever dreamed of. Thank you for everything, Tomoyo-san. Love, Eriol-san." She read in a whisper.
"That was quite a sweet of…Tomoyo?" Sonomi had turned to address her daughter and found that she'd left. Sonomi smiled at nothing in particular. "Honto ne, very sweet."
* * *
A funny thing happened today. Mother and I were cleaning things out of her closet; Mother is donating some of her business suits (and her time) to a new charity to help people dress for interviews and things like that...anyway we came across a box of old photographs from when I was very little. One of the pictures was from a day in the King Penguin Park. I don't remember going, my mother was very careful about letting me out of the house when I was young. The lady in the picture next to Sakura-chan and me is her mother, Nadeshiko-san; my mother is holding her hand. Mother said that this picture was taken only a few weeks before Nadeshiko-san died. Then she got very quiet and said that she was going to have a copy made for Kinomoto-sensei.
The reason I'm giving you a copy is because, aside from Sakura-chan and me, you can see many of our other friends from Tomoeda. Rika-san is the girl on the swings. I remember her from that time because her father still worked at Daidouji Toys then and he often came over for dinner with my father. Naoko-chan is also on the swings; she is the girl who has twisted her swing around. She liked to spin around in circles very fast, in fact, she was going to show me at school one day in first grade until my bodyguards came over and scared her away.
The little boy by Emperor Penguin and the little girl on the ground are Yamazaki-san and Chiharu-chan. I don't know why she is crying, but those are her brothers heading towards them, looking very mean. When I asked Chiharu-chan about it, she said that was the first day that she and Yamazaki-san became friends. The woman on the other side of Takashi is his mother. She was already beginning to get gray hairs from her son even then, but she is not much older than my mother is; I bet that you made your mother gray early as well.I have to go. I will probably not write to you for a little while, the end-of-term exams are coming up and I need to study.
Eriol smiled at the picture in his hand. Even as very little girl, Tomoyo still looked exactly like Tomoyo. They all looked like he remembered them, mostly. "Spinel?"
"Yes?" Spinel was perched on top of the bookshelves, dusting. "Something important?"
"To me. I need a picture frame." Spinel gave him an arched look that said 'so?' before leaping down to sit on the desk. "Tomoyo-san sent me a picture. See, almost everybody is in it." Spinel nodded, then looked thoughtful.
"I think we might have a picture frame around someplace. Ruby Moon made one for handicrafts in school. You would have to ask her where it might be."
"Ask who where what might be?" Ruby Moon asked, tossing her book-bag onto the floor by her desk. "I have Maths today. And cooking for tomorrow. Shall we make tarts, Suppi?"
"Don't call me Suppi." Spinel sighed. Eriol smiled and pushed the picture across his desk for Ruby Moon to see.
"I need a frame." He said. "Spinel thinks you might let me use the one you made." The idea pleased him, for some reason.
Ruby Moon snatched the picture up and studied it. "The frame is on the table by my bed. Ooooo! They all look like babies!" She squealed. "Look how little they are! And to think that Yamazaki-kun and Chiharu-chan are engaged! And that he and you have a book coming out in a few months! And little Rika-chan already got married!" Ruby Moon hauled out a hankie. "Oh, how sweet."
Spinel hovered back into the room with the frame, followed by Kaho. "Really, Ruby Moon, you're taking the 'girl' thing a bit too far." He informed her, and brought the frame to Eriol. The frame was bright green, with yellow daisies growing up the sides and along the top. It was he thought, quite perfectly fitting.
"Suppi! Let me have a moment! We haven't seen anybody in FOUR years." Ruby Moon snipped. "Really."
Kaho studied the picture as Eriol slid it into the frame. "I wouldn't say that, Akizuki-san. Eriol's written to Tomoeda often enough." Something in her tone made Eriol look at her. "And he's had a letter a week from Daidouji-chan."
"It's not the same as seeing them." Nakuru protested. "I bet they all look different now." A dreamy look crossed her face. "I bet little Tomoyo-chan grew up into a beautiful young lady, oh and Sakura-chaaaaan."
Eriol felt a quiet smile drift over his face. "It's hard to imagine them looking different from how I remember them, it's been so long." He trailed one finger along the frame. "Only Li Xiao-Lang and Li Mei-Ling are missing."
"They weren't in Tomoeda as children." Kaho reminded them, as Spinel and Nakuru nodded in ascent with Eriol. "They only came a year before you did."
"But in my heart, I think that they were there." Eriol told her, trying to explain something. "It feels right, that they should have been there. Like I should have been there too." His smile went wistful. "I would have liked to grow up with all of them. Kaho, don't you ever feel like things could be different if you imagined it hard enough?" He asked her, when it looked as though she was going to disagree.
Instead, she sighed. "I'm going to start dinner." She told him, leaving the study. Eriol watched after her until she was out of sight. There was something, he thought, something going on that he didn't quite understand despite Tomoyo's insistence that Kaho was not upset with him. "It'll be ready in an hour, so finish up in there." She called from the kitchen. Eriol grabbed some paper from Ruby Moon's desk and began to write. As he wrote, he caught site of something beneath his edited manuscript. Something, he smirked, that would be a perfect 'thank-you' for the picture.
* * *
Tomoyo giggled at the picture that fell into her lap. Poor Ruby Moon. She doubted that Eriol had had her permission to send such a picture. Still smiling, she turned her attention to the letter that had come with the picture. She slowly lost her smile as she read.
Thanks very much for the picture! I will have to contact Li Yelan and see if there are any pictures of Li Syaoran and Li Meiling that I might have. Then I will have pictures of all my friends from when they were children. If I get any pictures (and I will, the Li Clan is a little frightened of me because I was once part of Clow Reed) I will make copies for you.
Unfortunately I cannot give you any pictures of myself from when I was little. When I first came into being, I was as you first met me—already eleven years old. I waited, with Spinel and Ruby Moon, for Sakura-san to be born so that she could collect the cards and break Clow Reed's power. I only began to age when that happened.
Since I don't have any pictures of myself to give to you, please accept this photo of Ruby Moon. She has promised that if anybody other than she, Spinel, or I saw it that she would very cheerfully break both my legs and all of my fingers. Please show it to whomever you'd like. Especially Kinomoto-san and Yue-san.
Good luck on your exams, though I don't believe you'll need it,
She'd forgotten. He didn't have a mother or a father. Like Kinomoto-sensei, he had simply come into being as he was, with no family at all. With only what Clow had left behind for him. It was very sad. Very sad, because she could see him so clearly as a child, as he must have been.
"And," she mused aloud, "He sounds very lonely when he talks about that." She remembered his response to the family in the park that she'd written about. He'd been sad then, because he'd never had any kind of family save Ruby Moon and Spinel, she just hadn't noticed it. She wondered if he'd always wanted that kind of family. She was willing to bet that he had, since he had professed wanting it now. "I know what that's like." She murmured.
Thoughtfully, Tomoyo went to the desk with her art supplies. She couldn't undo Clow's work, but she could fix the gaps as best she could. She picked up a charcoal and sketched a rectangle, just slightly larger than the picture she'd carried from the bed to the desk. From the edges of the rectangle she began to draw Penguin Park after the rain. And Eriol-san and Li-kun and Yamazaki-kun, because little boys usually got into trouble together. Reaching for a pastel stick she coated Syaoran and Yamazaki in mud and grass. But not Eriol-san, she thought. Oh no, his clothes would be spotless. But his hands, and his face and his hair…one wouldn't have to wonder what the boys had gotten into. She tucked a flower in with the leaves and sticks in Syaoran's hair, and put a frog into Eriol's outstretched hands. Yamazaki, soaked to the skin, would have had a pocketful of smooth stones from the bottom of whatever brook he'd fallen into.
She drew back and looked at the memory she'd created. It seemed so real, like it had happened somewhen. She could see it all so clearly. A time and a place when Li-kun and Meiling-chan and Eriol-kun had been a part of growing up in Tomoeda, a time when Sakura-chan hadn't moved into town, but had been born there as Tomoyo had. It wasn't real but it was slightly more than a dream, now. It was a nice dream to have. Humming, Tomoyo selected a pair of decorative pinking shears. "It's a nice dream to give." She said softly.
* * *
You will forgive me for the lateness of this letter, but you told me a very foolish lie in your last letter. Of course there are pictures of you from when you were young. Taken here in Tomoeda, when your father brought you to visit his family here. Your father and mine were once very good friends, and so you stayed with us. You came to visit several times, actually. I am surprised that you don't remember.
I have many pictures from that time, though it took me days to find them all. There are even other pictures of you and your family that your father left with mine. Mother kept them even after Father left because she said that you and I were very good friends and were both very sad when you had to return to England.
I have sent as many of the pictures from your time here that I could find. Perhaps since you have no pictures that is why you didn't remember coming to stay before.
They spilled across his lap, several dozen of them; thick, square pieces of art paper, their edges cut by pinking shears. Watercolors, pastels, oils, charcoals—all neatly labeled with the month and year, names and ages. Some had captions: 'Eriol-kun's first black eye' proclaimed one picture of he, Yamazaki and Xiao-Lang. They looked all of six or seven.
One, a large oil, bigger than the rest and neatly matted, showed him as he was at—he checked the date—three years old. He had freckles across the bridge of his nose and no glasses and a grin that could only be called 'impish'.
Rika-san, Chiharu-san, Naoko-san, all gathered around a crying four year old Sakura-san while tiny Tomoyo-san menaced a four year-old Eriol and Yamazaki-kun and four year-old Xiao-Lang ran away from an angry Mei-Ling.
A pair of dark-haired two-year olds with flushed, rosy cheeks curled together under a rosebush in a lush garden, sleeping in the shade. Daidouji Sonomi smiling tenderly down at the two, brushing Tomoyo's hair away from her eyes.
A watercolor of Ruby Moon hosting a tea party for just the girls, Kero and Yue-san. A hand-lettered sign announced that 'No Boys or Suppi-chans were allowed. A charcoal of he, Yamazaki, Syaoran and Touya crashing the tea party and stealing the cakes. Feeding the sweets to a protesting Spinel; Spinel blasting all of them.
He felt his breath catch in his throat and had to blink rapidly in order to breath again. Another large picture, also matted, this one a pastel. A baby with dark hair and solemn gray-violet eyes, being held by a very excited eight-year old Ruby Moon. An infant Spinel, with tiny, tiny wings, lay curled and asleep on the baby's lap, one of Ruby Moon's hands brushing against his fur, twisting the straight tail into a cute, miniature curl.
Another, he, Spinel, Ruby Moon. Older now, Eriol nearing nine and Ruby Moon at least sixteen and Spinel Sun's wings were their full size. A mother and a father in this one, who looked nothing so much like Fujitaka and an English version of Yamazaki's mother, with gray hairs showing at her temples. He was missing a tooth, Ruby Moon had braces. A family portrait. His family. Nearly sobbing Eriol clutched the pictures to his chest, rocking slightly. He didn't hear the low, keening sound that brought Spinel Sun and Ruby Moon rushing to his side.
"Eriol? What's wrong? Eriol?!" Ruby Moon even went so far as to shake him, lightly, by the shoulders. He turned a dazzling smile to her, and a tear-streaked face.
"Nothing is wrong." His smile widened. "Everything is fine."
"…?" Said Ruby Moon, in disbelief.
"I was just looking at some old photos. I was…I was remembering when we were children." He closed his eyes slightly and ran a thumb along the edge of one of the photos he clutched.
"Photos? Children?! Eriol, maybe...?" She shot a helpless glance at Spinel Sun that clearly said 'Eriol's finally made it the rest of the way around the bend'.
Spinel didn't say anything; he was too concerned with something on the floor--a square with rippled edges that he flipped gently with a paw. One of the precious photos had fallen to the floor. A man who looked like Kinomoto-sensei, a woman with graying hair, reading to a small boy, a young girl and a small, winged cat.
"It's alright, Ruby Moon." He soothed, shifting into his small form. "Eriol was just looking at his photos."
Ruby Moon shifted to her false form as well, and plucked a picture from the pile. "Tomoyo-chan made these?" A young version of her was lifting Eriol towards a flower-patterned cookie-jar while Suppi hovered as lookout.
"Yes" Eriol muttered thickly. "I'm not sure how she knew...she knew that I wanted, I wanted..." He trailed off, blinking rapidly, heart full.
Spinel butted against his jaw affectionately. "Everybody has dreams."
Ruby Moon settled onto the arm of his chair. "Just, not everybody has somebody who understands those dreams and tries to give them."
"Yes." He traced his features in one picture, an angry Eriol on his first day at school. "We need to get a photo album for these."
"Kaho-sensei won't be back for hours yet." Spinel informed him. "And the shopping center is too busy to use the Move."
"Ruby Moon can drive us." Eriol grinned as Ruby Moon, excited, yelped and darted off to find the car keys. "I want to do this like normal people do."
"Ruby Moon isn't normal."
"Sure she is." An evil chuckle. "She had braces."
"Yes." A sweet, slow smile. "I lost a tooth."
Spinel aimed a measuring look at Eriol. "Should we stop at the Stationary store?"
"Yes. Yes, we should. I want to get special paper. I need to tell Tomoyo-san thank you. I…to tell her what this means…but…it just seems….It's too big."
"Shall we stop at the travel agency before or after the Stationary?"
Eriol blinked. He considered. He smiled. "After."
"Eriol, Suppi! I'm ready to Go-oooooo!"
* * *
Honto ne: Really or truly.
Otanjoubiomedetougozaimasu: Happy Birthday (as you probably guessed)
Nakayoshi: Dear friend, close friend (interesting note: Also the name of the magazine which published CCS)
Osananajimi: Childhood friend
Obasan: Aunt. Something you would call a woman the same age as your mother as a polite form of address.
-no baka: It's how you call somebody (in particular) an idiot.
The songs, from this fic (all chapters), are: Mata Ashita (See You Tomorrow), the ending theme from Maho Tsukai Tai!; Scarlet is the opening theme from Ayashi no Ceres, and 'Namida wa Shitte iru' (Tears Know) the end theme from Rurouni Kenshin. They've all got something in common...see if you can guess what it is. Nothing big and if you e-mail me I'll tell you. ^.^
Full lyrics for all (plus some translations and MIDI files) can be found at http://www.animelyrics.com/anime/ It's fun!
It'll be a while before the sequel, Kitaku, is out. Until then why don't you go here: http://www.fanfiction.net/profile.php?userid=121874 and read some other good stuff and leave Chelle-sama (my twin, my muse, my beta) some nice reviews.