Disclaimer: I'm not part of CLAMP and they don't know I've done this.  I haven't made a dime and I'm not expecting to get sued.  I don't own any of the song lyrics you find quoted here, nor do I have permission to use them.  I don't suspect that they'd care.  Some of the bands, like Gravity Crush, Karma, Luckie Strike, and a few others can be heard here: http://www.stellarexpress.net –go to 'Cool Linx' and select the first link 'Voltage Razor'.   C'mon, take a listen, they're good.  Since it doesn't seem as though the hyperlinks work, head for my website and hit 'home' then head into Cool Linx.  Also, sometimes the words fit the situation, sometimes it's the melody.  Sometimes I just like the song/words/melody.  Any problems? 

Author's Note: Takes place roughly a week after the events in 'Haikei' and it's vitally important to read that first.  It won't hurt, dulcets, I promise.  Serious ExT coming, kittens, it includes 'adult themes'; ratings for that as well as the emotional aspects. 

Dedication: To Chelle-sama for being the best person ever.  Chelle-sama encourages me, entertains me and offers to kick my ass on a regular basis.  I couldn't live without her.  To the fanfic authors who entertain and inspire me.  To all of those wonderful people (Linda, I'm looking at you) who offered me mind-bending praise on 'Haikei' and won my adoration—I'm almost afraid to post this. (Chelle-sama: You've got to remember who you're writing for; Is it for them or for me? ^.^)  And to the readers, for being.

http://www.evolutionnyc.com/IBS/SimpleCat/Product/asp/product-id/227797.html  This will be important later on.  Have a look now. ^.~  Copy/paste sucks, I know, but open another window…it'll be funny in the upcoming parts.


Mizuki Kaho has heard the phone at Reed Manor ring millions of times. She's seen Eriol use it often. He's only called Tomoeda twice, and Kaho does not count the first time; that first time it was Sakura-chan and it was a very definitely an emergency. The phone has only rung once in the middle of the night with a caller who spoke Japanese.

She does not want to be on this airplane. She does not want to sit next to Akizuki-san and Eriol for the next twenty hours. She does not want to go to Tomoeda now. The only time was last night; this morning, actually. Very, very early this morning. She wishes she hadn't answered the phone. Doesn't know why it's even on her side of the bed. Her student's parents don't even call her at home; they call the school when they need to talk to her. But she had answered it.

"Hello?" She'd slapped the speaker button on the phone; too groggy and disoriented to pick up the receiver. There had been a very pronounced pause and the crackle of long distance static. Then…her voice had been older and choked with tears, but Kaho had recognized it at once; even before Eriol had lunged across the bed.


"Tomoyo-san?!" It had been the only time she'd heard him panicked.

He had been answered by a sudden sob from the phone. "Eriol-san!" He'd grabbed the receiver and slapped off the speaker. She'd only heard his portion of the conversation after that, while he'd paced the room shrugging clothes on over his pajamas.

"Tomoyo-san, are you alright? Are you hurt?" A pause. "You're sure? And everybody else?" A deep sigh and sudden relaxation to his tense shoulders. "Thank god. I thought…" Another pause and he'd tensed. "No, it's all right…it is…You did, but…" He'd been suddenly angry. "It is NOT 'nothing', Tomoyo-san! And I don't care WHAT time it must be here! I WANT you to 'bother' me with it!" A longer pause and his voice had been gentle. "I'm not angry. No. No. I do that when I'm worried…yes…I am, yes…I'm very worried about my friend Tomoyo-san." He'd slipped out of the room then, heading for the study Kaho was sure. His voice had been soft and sweet as he'd asked, "What's happened to my friend Tomoyo-san?" It was the last she had heard, but he hadn't come back to bed.

The worst part, she thinks now, is that he'd already had the plane tickets a week ago. He'd bought them the same day that he'd gotten a package full of small paintings from Daidouji-chan. A foolish, silly thing, she thinks, to pretend that Eriol is any different than what he is. But when she had said as much a wall had slammed down in his eyes and he'd walked very carefully to his study. He'd had new stationary then and she thinks that this is significant.

Is there somewhere else to be
Take me in
I want out
~~ Somewhere Else to Be; VAST, Visual Audio Sensory Theater

"Take the bags to the Tomoeda Towers Inn; the hotel staff will see them to the right rooms." Eriol told the taxi driver as he paid him. Kaho blinked at him.

"We're taking another taxi?" She asked, a bit snappish, and Eriol remembered that she hated traveling. He smiled outwardly, even as he winced inwardly.

"No, I've rented us a car. I thought it might be useful. And Spinel can come with us then. Comfortably." He widened his smile and hoped that she'd let it go. She didn't.

"I see. You know that I don't like to drive."

Nakuru smiled brightly, unnaturally perky after a twenty-hour flight. "I can drive. Or Eriol. I taught him!" Eriol sighed as Kaho winced. "I'm soooo glad to be back in Tomoeda! With all the pretty festivals and the flowers and the dresses and Touya-kun!"

"San." Spinel muttered from the depths of Eriol's coat. "Touya-san. He's too old, and too dignified, to be 'kun' to you."

Ruby Moon hugged Eriol tightly in an effort to squash Spinel. A gesture Eriol appreciated since pulling Spinel out of his pocket to pinch his cheeks would have drawn undue attention. "He'll always be my To-ya-kun, just like you'll always be my Suppi-chan!" She trilled. Eriol went to fetch the rental car, grateful for the quiet as he pulled it around to the front of the airport.

"Right. Let's get to the Inn then. I need a hot bath and a decent bed." Kaho declared once they'd all gotten into the car and Spinel had been released from the pocket. Ruby Moon stared openly at her, mouth agape. "What?!" Kaho snapped, and then visibly calmed herself. "Forgive me, Akizuki-san. What seems to trouble you?" She asked politely.

"We have to go to Tomoyo-chan's first." She told her. "I asked Eriol about it on the plane."

"No. First, we're going to the hotel. Eriol will see Daidouji-san after school tomorrow."

Eriol cleared his throat, reluctant to add to the discord. "I'm sorry, Kaho. But I do need to see Tomoyo-san first. She was very upset last night."

"I can't see why." Kaho admitted. "So her mother is getting married. Kinomoto-sensei is a good man, a great father. Daidouji-san should be happy."

"And she is." Eriol agreed and wished that he'd taken time to get some aspirin. "But it was a rather large shock for her, especially since Sakura-san and Fujitaka-sensei told her about it by accident before he mother finished telling her." He smiled soothingly at Kaho. "I just want to be sure that she's alright."

"I'm sure she's fine. I'm tired, I'm sure that you are too, Eriol. Let's go to the hotel first." Her voice was calming, but it grated. This was important, not just some whim, and he didn't like her to treat it as such. He needed to explain that somehow.

"We'll go to the Inn after I see Tomoyo-san." His voice was softened iron. "Kaho, I told you about her mother's relationship to Sakura-san's mother, right? And the way she felt toward Sakura-san's father?" He waited for Kaho's silent nod. "It's a very big change to go from the one to the other, Kaho, and I haven't been home to answer the phone if she tried to call again. I need to make sure that Tomoyo-san is okay."

"It's a moot point," Spinel pointed out. "As we're already here."  He nodded at the gates.  "I suppose we need to ring to get in?"

"I'll do it!" Ruby Moon bounced out of the car and slapped her hand over the intercom button. "Tomoyo-chaaaaaan!" She called into the speaker. "Come let us in, Tomoyo-chan!"

"Akizuki-san, really." Kaho snapped. "Do be more polite about it, they certainly weren't expecting us."

"Ruby Moon," Eriol murmured. "I think you need to let up on the button so that they can talk to us."

"To-mo-yo-cha-n!" Ruby Moon trilled. "We came all the way from England and I'm going to pass-out, I'm so sleepy!" In the backseat, Spinel snorted. "Suppi is here too! You'll let Suppi in, won't you Tomoyo-chan?"

"Ruby Moon."




The gate swung open. "Suppi said the magic word!" Ruby Moon squealed jumping back into the car and scooping Spinel off the seat. "Good job, Suppi!" Spinel submitted, as he had no choice in the matter, to a rather enthusiastic hug.

"We won't be staying long." Eriol warned suddenly. "Tomoyo-san has Choir competition in Tokyo tonight." He winced at the wail of protest Nakuru released. Next time, he thought, he'd bring aspirin.

"So," He felt Kaho's stare as a physical thing. "We came all this way, after all that time on the plane, for a five minute visit?"

Eriol parked the car in front of the house without a word. This was not the time for a petty argument. He'd made his plans, and his reasons, clear on the drive. "You can stay in the car, if you'd like." He told her, striving for calm. Kaho returned his offer with a withering glare. He didn't really notice it, because Tomoyo-san had just emerged from the door, dressed in her Choir uniform.

"Konbanha" He offered hopefully, suddenly uncertain of himself. Perhaps this was one large shock to add to the shock she'd gotten the day before. And really, she hadn't been expecting them…

"Bonsowa-ru" Tomoyo replied absently, staring at them and blinking hard, as though uncertain that they were really what she was seeing. Eriol felt his stomach sink.

"I did say, in my last letter, that there was a surprise coming." He opened his arms to indicate himself and Ruby Moon and Spinel, who'd just emerged from the car and hoped that she'd actually received his letter. "Surprise?"

Tomoyo blinked and was most likely, Eriol reflected, about to answer him or at least say something to him when Ruby Moon pounced. "Tomoyo-chan, Tomoyo-chan, Tomoyo-chan!" She squealed, gathering Tomoyo in a hug normally reserved for Eriol himself when he'd had a long trip abroad. "Tomoyo-chaaaaaaan!" Tomoyo patted her back gently.

"Hello, Ruby Moon." Was all she managed before being thrown aside in favor of somebody else.

"Fujitaka-sensei!" The sensei in question braced himself as he was scaled.

Eriol caught Tomoyo before she could do more than stumble a few steps. "Ruby Moon," he told the laughing girl that was suddenly in his arms "is happy to see you."

"I think she's very happy to see everybody." Tomoyo smiled.

"Did you miss me, Fujitaka-sensei? Did you? I missed you!"

"Ruby Moon-no baka." Spinel sighed, hovering. "Kinomoto-sensei barely knows you." Ruby Moon glared at Spinel from where she was perched nearly on Kinomoto-sensei's shoulder.

"That, Spinel, doesn't mean that he didn't miss me." She nuzzled her cheek along Fujitaka's and gazed meaningfully into his eyes. "Did To-ya-kun miss me lots and lots and lots?"

Fujitaka, with the unfailing patience of a saint and the ease of somebody long accustomed to dealing with hyper-active guardians, peeled Ruby Moon off of him and set her gently on her feet. "I've heard Touya-kun mention your name many times." He smiled pleasantly. Eriol snorted; and people thought Fujitaka-sensei was innocent and pure.

"Touya-san has been teasing him about Mother." Tomoyo murmured impishly. "Payback is what it is, ne?"

"It is." Daidouji Sonomi appeared, quite possibly, out of thin air. "And you are Hiiragizawa Eriol-san, right?"

"I am." Eriol was about to bow when he realized that he still had a firm hold on Tomoyo. He felt his ears heat. "Oh, gomen, Tomoyo-san!" He released her and turned back to her mother. Sonomi had one eyebrow arched ever so slightly, mouth quirked up in a tiny, tiny smile. Eriol felt like he was under a dissecting microscope. "I was helping her to her feet… Ruby Moon was…"

"Excited. I've seen." Sonomi's smile widened. "She's still attacking Fujitaka-sensei." She tilted her head, watching. "He handles her well." Her eyes narrowed. "I know that manner." Eriol had the sudden impulse to cringe away from her. Fujitaka must have felt it, or caught Sonomi's look, because he smiled cheerfully.

"Akizuki-san!" Kaho spoke for the first time since they'd exited the car. "Stop pestering Kinomoto-sensei!" Nakuru stopped and stilled. Kaho turned to Sonomi. "I must apologize for the intrusion, Daidouji-sama."

"It's no bother." Sonomi waved the apology away. "I did tell Hiiragizawa-san to come to see us the next time he was in Japan. And I'm looking forward to meeting the other guardians. Tomoyo tells me, and I can see that it's very obvious, that Ruby Moon-san and Spinel Sun-san are very different from Yue-san and Kero-kun. You'll all stay for lunch, won't you please?"

Tomoyo frowned. "When did you invite Eriol-san to visit?"

Eriol and Sonomi shared one, quick, slightly horrified look before being saved by the bell. Or rather, by the bodyguard. "Tomoyo-sama? It's nearly time to leave for the competition. Are you ready to go, please?"

"Just a moment, Kinuye-san!" She turned with an apologetic smile on her face. "I've got to finish getting ready; perhaps I'll see you tomorrow?" Eriol was nodding when a question suddenly sparked in Tomoyo's eyes. "Eriol-san? What are you doing here? You didn't come all this way because of my phone call, did you? Because I was fine after I talked to you…It was just a shock that was all and I…"

"I bought the tickets last week." Eriol smiled, cutting her off before she could apologize. "I thought…" His felt his smile become something slow and sweet and utterly happy. "I thought that my father would have wanted me to visit my friends in Japan more often."

Tomoyo beamed, ducking her head slightly as a blush lit her features. "I'm sure he would have wanted that." She agreed softly. "I'm glad that you came, Eriol-san, I…

"Tomoyo-sama!" And Tomoyo grinned ruefully, turned on her heel, and darted across the lawn.

Sonomi had a look of great speculation as she glanced after Tomoyo. "Hmm. The competition is only for a few hours. Would you like to come back for dinner?"

"It's been a long flight, Daidouji-sama." Kaho stated firmly above Ruby Moon's happy acceptance. "With the exception of Akizuki-san, we're all very tired."

"I understand; it was rude of me to ask you to stay without considering your traveling." Sonomi apologized. She turned an innocent smile that Eriol didn't trust for more than a second, on him. "Perhaps another time, then?"

Kaho was already sliding back into the car, having pulled Ruby Moon away from the newest object of her affection. Eriol smiled hopefully at her baleful look before turning back to Sonomi. "Most definitely."

Looking all around the room
I see the clutter in the gloom
I'm not only back
I'm not only numb
~~ Not Only Numb; Gin Blossoms, Congratulations I'm Sorry

"Eriol, what are you doing?" She asks, even though she's aware that what he's doing is perfectly obvious. He finishes knotting the school tie and grins broadly at himself, and her, in the mirror.

"Tomoyo-san has it on good authority that every year Yamazaki-san makes a New Years wish for me to come back to school in Tomoeda." He grins again and grabs his school satchel up from the dresser. She feels herself frown slightly; he's kept it? All this time? She wonders why she didn't see it when they were packing or, for that matter, when they moved to Reed Manor in the first place.

"It's a nice thought, Eriol, but you can't stay after the bell. I thought we'd visit my parents this morning." She tells him, smiling and wondering where he got the uniform to begin with.

"I've got permission to stay for Homeroom and the morning classes." His smile is utterly charming. She wonders, vaguely, why she doesn't feel charmed. "I spoke with the school when I bought the plane tickets."

"Ah." She frowns, following him as he makes his way to the common room of their suite. "This afternoon then. We can have dinner with them."

"Do I look like a University student?" Akizuki-san has bounded out of her room, dressed rather outrageously as usual. "I'm going to go with To-ya-kun and Yukito-san to all their classes and then they're going to buy me mochachinos at Café Piffle Princess and then we're going to see a movie! And get lunch and dinner and popcorn together. Just the three of us. Until I can get rid of Yukito-san and have Touya-kun all to myself."

"Ruby Moon," Spinel sighs. "Murder and kidnap are still illegal here." Akizuki laughs and looks amused and only mildly affronted. It's a grating sound, irritating and out of place.

"Suppi!" Scandalized giggles. "Touya-kun and Yukito-san missed me! Fujitaka-sensei said so. They talk about me, he said." She swats at the hovering cat; Akizuki, Kaho muses, probably thinks it's affectionate and cute. "Besides, I want to see their apartment." A smile. "We've never lived in an apartment, Suppi. Do you think it's fun? Eriol, is living in an apartment fun? Did Xiao-Lang say?"

"I'm sorry, Kaho." He ignores his creations, kisses her fingers briefly, more of an afterthought, she thinks, then real affection. "I made plans with Fujitaka-sensei to see him this afternoon."

"Ohhh," Akizuki trills and Kaho has the sudden urge to slap her. "But Suppi will be lonely all by himself! I mean…"

Eriol breaks in before Akizuki-san can bother to apologize to her for thinking that she's not suitable company for Spinel Sun. "Spinel is coming with me. He and Cerberus have some catching up of their own to do." Spinel snorts. "What? You like Cerberus."

"Like fun, I do." Spinel retorts, climbing nimbly into the school bag that Eriol is holding open. "Let me out at the wood at the back of the school. If I have to see Idiot-san today then I'm not spending my morning crammed in with your books." They are, the three of them, heading out the door without a word to her. She is stung.

"Eriol!" He backtracks quickly at the hurt and indignation in her voice. Hugs her briefly.

"We'll go see your parents soon. Tomorrow, perhaps. Okay?" A light kiss on her cheek and he is gone. And why didn't he see what is really bothering her?

These notes are marked return to sender
I'll save this letter for myself
I wish you only knew
How good it is to see you
~~ See You; Foo Fighters, The Colour and the Shape

"Tomoyo-chan? Why did you bring your video camera to school?" Sakura asked as she dropped her book bag onto her desk.

"Shhh, Sakura-chan." Tomoyo heard herself giggle quietly. "I don't want Yamazaki-san to hear you."

Behind Sakura, Syaoran studied Tomoyo carefully. "What's happening with Yamazaki-kun?"

"Shh." She reminded him and trained her camera on the door, widened the view to get a better angle. "I'm so glad we sit in the back, I've got a really great shot." She murmured. "It should be soon." Out of the corner of her eye she caught Sakura-chan and Li-kun trading 'looks' with each other and wished she had another camera. She heard herself giggle again. "I should just move to the front of the room—it's going to be pandemonium anyway."

"Tomoyo-chan, did Eriol-san call again?" Sakura asked, looking from the front of the room to the video camera.

"No, Sakura-chan. He didn't call at all." Which was true. Mostly.  Or at least, not in the sense that Sakura meant. "I just thought that something might happen today." Tomoyo didn't take her eyes off of the view presented by her camera. When she'd asked Kinomoto-sensei to not tell Sakura-chan about Eriol-san's visit she hadn't had this moment in mind, but it was turning out to be an unexpected bonus.

"Take your seats, class." Terada-sensei strolled to the front of the room. "The bell is going to ring in a moment."

"It's weird having Terada-sensei teaching homeroom again." Li-kun whispered, leaning forward so that both she and Sakura-chan could hear him. "What are the odds, really, that they'd get him to fill in for Iwao-sensei while she teaches in Hong Kong?"

"I think it's weirder for Rika-chan." Sakura whispered, leaning back. "Rika-chan said that she and Terada-sensei had to always hide what they felt before. Now they're married and don't have to hide and he's our teacher again."

"Shhh." Tomoyo whispered. "It's soon."

"We'll be having a special visitor, class." Terada-sensei said, after taking roll. "Yamazaki-san, sit down." He sighed as Yamazaki tensed and half rose out of his seat, eyes whipping over to the door.

"He never really got over Hiiragizawa, huh?" Syaoran muttered.

"It was worse when you were gone." Sakura told him.

"It was." Tomoyo agreed, lowering the camera to smile at her friends. "The only time we got a transfer student, and the door opened to reveal a girl, he cried. Chiharu-chan had to take him to the infirmary to calm down."

"Really?" He sounded impressed.

"Well, mostly." Sakura flashed a dimpled grin. "But we thought for sure he would cry. Terada-sensei sent him out to get a drink of water."

"He sent Chiharu-chan after him." Tomoyo added. "And then we didn't get another new student until you came back." She cocked her head, listening as Terada explained about the 'special visitor'. "Soon." She muttered, bringing her camera back up. "Li-kun, get ready."

"Get ready for what?" He asked, but it was drowned out by the sound of the door sliding open and the words:

"Ohayougozaimasu, Hiiragizawa Eriol desu." Yamazaki vaulting out of his desk, screaming incoherently and throwing his arms around Eriol overlaid most of what he said.

"You came back!" Yamazaki shouted, hugging him madly. "You came back too!" He whipped around, still clutching Eriol. His eyes lighted on the very astonished Syaoran. "You're both back!" Tomoyo stifled her giggles as she filmed Yamazaki dragging Eriol down the aisle and pulling Syaoran up out of his seat.

"Ow!" They said as Yamazaki trust them together so hard that they knocked heads. He stepped back, beaming, and stared at them. Then he hugged them both. Eriol-san hugged him back, briefly, as Li-kun patted his back.

Tomoyo panned around the room, catching helpless laughter on most faces, Chiharu clapping, glowing at Yamazaki's happiness. Terada-sensei's quiet "Yamazaki…" and his sigh and smile as Rika placed a gentle hand over his, smiling up at him and then back at the class.   "Give him a minute." She murmured. Tomoyo smiled and turned in her seat to catch Yamazaki-san shoving both boys into their seats.

"Sit down. In your seats! Your seats!" He beamed at Terada-sensei. "Is it time for class? We're all in our seats, now." Terada shook his head, smiling. Yamazaki continued to beam as he darted back to his desk, reaching out across the aisle to catch Chiharu's hand in his own for a long moment. Tomoyo felt a soft tap at her shoulder and turned again, Eriol's face filling the viewfinder of her camera. She felt her breath catch at the warmth of his smile.

"You could have warned me." He told her, his gray-violet eyes twinkling brightly. He gestured vaguely at the front of the room.

She shut off her camera with an answering smile. "And miss that?" She shook her head. "You know me better, Eriol-san." She turned to face the front of the room, still smiling, as the class settled into their normal routine. Eriol-san was a warm presence behind her. Tomoyo found that she'd missed this, this having Eriol sitting behind her, quiet and studious and there. And she wished, suddenly, that she could pretend that everything and nothing had changed. That he hadn't left, not with Mizuki-sensei; that he didn't love Mizuki-sensei, that he loved her, the way that she'd found she loved him. She wished she could pretend that he wasn't leaving in two weeks.

Tomoyo closed her eyes on a soft sigh. It was two weeks; plenty of time to spend with friends. Wishing for more, more of anything, would be pointless and stupid.

But that hole inside
never really leaves
When I went away, what I really left
Left behind was me
~~ Million Miles Away; Offspring, Conspiracy of One

Lunch, Eriol thought, was a calm affair when compared with his arrival in homeroom. Yamazaki seemed content to sit close to Chiharu and watch him and Xiao-Lang. Sakura told him the story of the girl transfer student--to Yamazaki's denials--and about how exciting it was to have almost everybody back. She and Xiao-Lang had actually gotten into a discussion of how to best bring Mei-Ling to Tomoeda. And Tomoyo had been warm and smiling at his side. He hadn't realized, until the day before, how very much he'd missed seeing her in person. It hadn't really hit him until he'd seen her, just how much time had passed. Until he'd listened to her speak in soft, amused tones he hadn't realized just how fierce an ache that missing was inside him. It had been odd.

He'd missed all of it though, Eriol realized as he left Seijou High, Spinel having already been collected by Cerberus if the note for help scrawled in the dirt was any indication. It wasn't just Tomoyo-san he had missed. He'd missed the polite, formal manners and the orderly way of life in Japan. He'd missed hearing Japanese spoken all around him, hearing Sakura-san and Xiao-Lang whispering to each other during the morning announcements. He'd missed Tomoyo-san's hair drifting across the front of his desk; the light playing on the dark strands that seemed to move on their own, though he'd never really itched to touch it before today. That was new.

"An ice-cream while you think deep thoughts, Eriol-san?" Kinomoto-sensei asked, handing him a banana crème pop.

"Thank you. But they're not really deep thoughts, Sensei." Eriol said.

Fujitaka smiled. "Sometimes they are, even when they're not."

Eriol blinked. "I'm not that obscure am I?" He seated himself on the low stone wall next to Fujitaka. He'd been intending to meet with the older man at the Kinomoto house, however a knowledge and certainty that existed only when dealing with the other half of Clow Reed's incarnation had lead him to the ice-cream bar near the University.

Fujitaka continued to smile and ate the bottom of his ice-cream cone. "I wouldn't know. We haven't talked to each other very often. And he certainly didn't have meaningful conversations with himself before." Eriol tilted his head and considered.

"True; we didn't." He paused. "Damn, I am that obscure." He chuckled. "That explains why only Tomoyo-san caught on to me."

"Tomoyo-san is very observant in most matters." Fujitaka nodded. "Sometimes, when it's unexpected, she needs a little time to see what was not there before."

"That's very cryptic." Eriol said, taking a bite off the bottom of his ice cream. "And not very accurate. You and Daidouji-sama certainly managed to hide your relationship from everybody."

"Something tells me that Touya-kun managed to guess." Fujitaka smiled a wry smile. "And Kero-kun most certainly was aware of it."

Eriol took another bite from the bottom. "And Nadeshiko-san?"

"Ah." Kinomoto-sensei managed to pop his scoop of ice-cream into his mouth without touching it. "Actually, it was Nadeshiko-san's idea."

"To date Daidouji Sonomi?" He nearly suffocated on a mouthful of banana crème, and was thankful he hadn't yet reached the top of his ice-pop; heaven knew he would have ended up choking himself on the stick. Eriol knew that Clow's love-for-the-next-life had been a romance-loving, freethinking woman, but that was a bit much.

Fujitaka laughed. "No. Not Sonomi-kun. To take my own advice." He laughed again. "And that day Sonomi-kun came by the office with words of advice from your letter.  So yes."

"I don't…" 'get it' he was about to say, until it struck him. "She meant you should take my advice?"

Fujitaka nodded. "She seemed to think she was being very clever." He smiled. "It was actually very funny."

Eriol blinked. He went to buy them both more ice cream. And, handing Fujitaka his, blinked again. "Wow."

"That's mostly what I said." Fujitaka admitted. He looked down suddenly, studying his lemon ice. "Nadeshiko told me it was time for her to move on. We would meet again, but for now she wanted me to live and be happy. There was something, she said, that my heart had been ignoring for several years."

Eriol found himself blinking back sudden tears. The part of him that had once been Clow Reed, the part that was still connected to Fujitaka, had loved her, and he himself had liked her. He'd enjoyed looking into her life with his counterpart. "She was wonderful, wasn't she?" He murmured. Fujitaka nodded.

"One of the most amazing people I've ever met." He agreed. "And I've known a lot." He smiled suddenly. "Most of them are Amamiya women. Or related to them. Isn't that a fun coincidence?"

Eriol snorted. "There's no such thing as coincidence. Not where women are concerned."

"Madoushi." They chorused, shaking their heads.

"Cerberus probably doesn't like Daidouji-sama any better than he liked Madoushi." Eriol laughed.

Fujitaka winced. "He likes her a lot less, actually." Something about the way he said it tickled in Eriol's mind.

"Daidouji-sama didn't just find Tomoyo-san's tapes…did she?"

Fujitaka flushed. "Well, she did. After a while…and some…advice."

"Cerberus spilled the beans, didn't he?" Eriol watched as Fujitaka fidgeted nervously.

"Not entirely."

"You?" He was stunned.  Even Clow had been able to keep the cards a secret from non-magic users and Clow had tended towards 'braggart', most especially where women were concerned. Eriol was certain that, of all of Clow Reed's traits, that one had been balanced between them, so that neither would ever be as bad as their former self.

"Not by choice." Fujitaka protested mildly. "But there was baking involved…"

"And Kero-chan is certainly fond of sweets, isn't he?" A sweet voice said behind them. They turned to find Tomoyo smiling at them, holding her own ice cream. "I had wondered how Mother managed to 'stumbled across' those tapes."

"Tomoyo-san!" Eriol felt the smile spread across his face. "What are you doing here? School can't be out yet." Fujitaka said something about finding a table inside and left. Tomoyo sat down in his place, her feet not quite touching the sidewalk. "Don't tell me you skipped school just because you missed me!" He couldn't resist teasing.

She flushed and smiled down at her ice cream. "I did miss you." She aimed that smile up at him and Eriol felt the sudden urge to give his treat his full attention. "But Kinomoto-sensei and I had arranged to have a talk here today. And I have last period free, so I just left early."

"Last period free? I'd have walked you over, if I'd known." Eriol told her, earning another smile. He couldn't help smiling back at her.

"But then we'd never have…"

Never have what, Eriol didn't know. "Eriol." Kaho's voice cut across whatever it was Tomoyo had been about to say. "I didn't know that you and Daidouji-san were both going to be meeting with Kinomoto-sensei." She frowned slightly. "If I'd have known it wasn't going to be a private talk, I would have liked to come along." Her frowned deepened. "Where is Kinomoto?"

Tomoyo slipped easily to her feet. "Sensei is inside, finding a table."

"It was a private talk, mostly." Eriol said, at the same time. Kaho raised one eyebrow. Eriol winced. He hated that look…like he was a small child caught in the midst of telling tall tales.

"I didn't know that Eriol-san would be here." Tomoyo said, drawing Kaho's arched look to herself. "Sensei and I also arranged to meet today. I came early."  She explained. Eriol frowned. What did it matter if she'd known he would be there or not?

Apparently it did mean something because Kaho's look sharpened and then relaxed. "I imagine that you and Kinomoto-sensei have many things to talk about, with everything that's gone on recently." Her voice was gentle and friendly and Eriol released a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. A tap on the window behind them interrupted before Tomoyo could say a word. Fujitaka was waving and smiling inside. He had more ice cream, a lot of it. He looked as though he was expecting Yukito instead of the girl who would be his stepdaughter. Tomoyo laughed, waving back.

"I should go inside." Tomoyo said, still smiling, the laugh still in her voice. Eriol had the odd notion that he was grinning like an idiot. Today was a good, good day.

"We should be going as well." Kaho's hand alighted on his shoulder. "We've got dinner reservations to prepare for. To celebrate our trip." She smiled as Eriol turned to ask her about the plans he didn't remember making. "I thought we should make tonight special." She told him.

"I'm going in. It was good to see you, Mizuki-sensei." Tomoyo said quietly. Her smile had faded. As she turned to go Eriol found himself reaching out to touch her arm.

"I'll see you in school tomorrow, Tomoyo-san." He smiled, hoping she would smile back. She glanced quickly at Kaho before giving him a tiny smile and a nod. Eriol was confused as Kaho draped an arm around his shoulder and drew him with her to the car. She hated driving.

We crossed the line
who pushed who over?
It doesn't matter to you
It matters to me
~~ So Cruel; U2, Achtung Baby

Tomoyo walked into the seating area of the ice-cream bar with a sigh and a sad twist of her lips that she knew didn't quite qualify as a smile. Kinomoto-sensei waved at her from his table by the window. She forced a smile and reprimanded herself sharply. There was no hope in trying to pretend things away.

"Ah, Tomoyo-san!" Sakura's father smiled at her sweetly. "You're just in time for your cake!" A waiter appeared as though summoned and deposited a six-layer vanilla ice-cream and chocolate cake on the table. Kinomoto-sensei beamed. Tomoyo stared, blinked and tried to find a response until he burst into laughter. "I ordered most of this for Kero-kun and Yukito-san. The delivery boy is going to take it to my house soon." He started in on a chocolate sundae. "You're my proof." He told her. "If, for some reason, one of them doesn't get any ice-cream you can tell them that I definitely sent enough home for both—no matter what one of them might think."

She couldn't help the laughter that shook her shoulders. "No wonder Mother's been so happy lately, if you always act like this."

He smiled gently. "I only act this way for her. And now, you. You looked like you needed a smile." He said as the waiters began to clear away the ice-cream to be sent home. "So, Sonomi-kun's been happy. How have you been?"

Tomoyo plucked a cherry off one of the sundaes, rolling the stem between her fingers. "It was just a shock, Sensei." She murmured. "I'm very sorry that I ran away like that, you and Mother and Sakura-chan must have been very upset and worried."  She sighed.  "I just needed time to think about it; to think it out."

"I'm glad." He told her. "Your Great-Grandfather was ready to have me hoisted up on a pig-pole when I told him how upset you were."

"You spoke to Great-Grandfather?" Tomoyo felt her jaw drop. "Even after..." She stopped abruptly, loath to bring up the subject of her mother's cousin. Fujitaka, however, beamed brightly at her again.

"Apparently your mother and I both did." His eyes twinkled. "I told Grandfather that the only person who could talk me out of marrying your mother was you, because you were so heartbreakingly upset. Your mother told him that nobody on the planet was talking her out of her decision, disowning her out of it, or haunting her out of it, if it came to that. You know," He continued on looking puzzled, "I rather think that Grandfather approved. How novel."

Tomoyo dropped her head into her hands, thinking hard. "You can be very confusing, Sensei." She muttered. "Let me think. Again." She listened to the clink of his spoon against the glass of his dish and the chatter of the other patrons. "Mother knows about Nadeshiko-san?" She asked finally. "That she's been...around?"

Fujitaka nodded. "She, your mother I mean, brought me some very nice Valentine chocolates this year. At my office." He winced slightly. "We had a nice, long talk about a lot of things."

"Sakura-chan once said that you told her you'd love her mother forever, for over a thousand life-times." Tomoyo bit her lip and decided that she might as well say it all now. "Mother deserves to be loved for herself. Not because of someone being lonely." She looked away and was surprised when Kinomoto-sensei got up from the table and crouched down in front of her, ducking down to peer into her face.

"I love Sonomi-kun with all my heart, Tomoyo-san." He smiled, handing her a wet napkin to blot at her eyes. "She's very special. I thought Eriol-san had mentioned to you the possibility of loving more than one person in life." He said softly. "And he is very right. Tomoyo-san, suppose you lived one-thousand lives after this one. Who, from this time, would you want to see again, in those lives?" He asked.

"Anou," her brow furled. "Sakura-chan. Eriol-san, Mother, Great-Grandfather, Li-kun." She paused. "I...I think I would want to see Yamazaki-san and Chiharu-chan and Rika-chan." Fujitaka held up a hand to stop her.

"Would you be happy, do you think, if you never saw Sakura-san or Great-Grandfather again?" He asked her.

She shook her head automatically. "I'd miss them!" He smiled and sat back on his heels.

"So." He nodded. "If you didn't have them, you'd be sad. So what are you to do but look for them and love them again? Maybe Nadeshiko-san and I were fated to be together and maybe your mother and I weren't." Tomoyo felt her shoulders relax as Sakura's father smiled into her eyes and took her two hands in his. "But sometimes, Tomoyo-san, sometimes what isn't so important is fate. Sometimes nothing is fate.  Sometimes love and hard work and wanting are just as important. Remember that, that once fate has had its say, it's okay to have your own too."

Tomoyo sat back in her chair as she watched him make his way back to his side of the table. "Sensei?" She asked slowly, biting absently into her abused cherry. "Do you remember being Clow Reed?"

He rolled his eyes cheerfully. "I do. I think that's why I have such a charming, attractive son. So that I could have Yue-san back and shovel three tons of food into his false form and Kero-kun every week. Life wouldn't be nearly so much fun without it."

"And he, Clow-san, I mean, wanted a daughter, to find Kero-chan and have magic." She smiled. "And Sakura-chan is a wonderful daughter. Just as he always wanted. And you too. Is that work or fate?"

Kinomoto shrugged. "It's both. Sakura-san is more than he expected; different as well. Me, I always wanted more children." He looked up at the ceiling. "I like having little girls call me papa."

It sounded like an invitation if ever she'd heard one. "I have to go home." Tomoyo murmured, standing. "I have a lot of homework for tonight."

"I'm sorry I've kept you." Fujitaka apologized instantly, coming to his feet. "I'll wait with you until your bodyguards arrive, if you'd like." He offered.

"Maybe you could walk me home, if you have time, Kinomoto-papa." She felt her smile tremble just a little as he offered her his arm with a flourish.

"I'd like that very much."

I'm trying to keep my feet on the ground
I'm getting to like this feeling I've found
I'm getting to love the thought of having you around
And I will never let you down
~~ Never Let You Down; Verve Pipe, Never Let You Down

She spends her mornings, as she has the last three mornings, doing chores at the shrine.  Her parents, as much as she doesn't like to admit it, are aging.  Soon, she thinks, she will have to take over the shrine or see to hiring a new priest or priestess.  Eriol comes in the very early afternoon, though she thinks that he mightn't come at all if the school would allow him to stay the entire day.  He is rosy and glowing when he arrives, always with a smile.  Quite handsome, she muses, as she finishes sweeping the courtyard.  Her parents do not see him as she does.  His smile grows polite and distant as he enters this place and the laughter leaves his eyes.

In fact, to her memory, he's only worn a real smile inside these walls a handful of times.  The last time, which was the first day that they had come, it was because her father had asked him to sign his copy of that ridiculous book. Eriol had beamed and signed with a laugh and a flourish over his picture.  Oh, and her face had burned with shame.  It flushes even now when she thinks of it.  She'd been quick, but not quick enough she thinks, to explain how that picture came to be on the book-jacket.  Papa had waved it away, remembering Ruby Moon's false form as 'the cheerful youjo' who would come to make tea while his own daughter had been away in England.   Eriol had smiled then as well. 

Spinel and Ruby Moon's false forms had visited constantly.  Eriol had as well.  And so she doesn't understand why he and her parents are so very distant with each other now.  When she watches them together…it's very confusing.   Eriol doesn't stay long at these visits; he leaves to go have ice-creams with the other students, to see a new film with Takashi-kun, to have a visit with Kinomoto-sensei.  She leaves with him often.  She sees her former students, shops in the stores while Eriol and Takashi spin their lies to each other, talks business with Kinomoto while he and Eriol say vague half-phrases to each other and laugh or sigh or shake their heads in confusion.

Today he is late.  She wonders if he means not to come at all today when she sees him walking slowly, pushing a wheelchair and talking brightly to a young woman who is walking with him.  It takes a moment for her to identify the girl as Terada-sensei's wife, Sasaki-chan. 

"Hiiragizawa-san mentioned that he would be visiting with your family today."  Sasaki-chan smiles politely.  "I'm very sorry to intrude upon you all, but today is Great-Grandmother's day to visit the Bird Pond.  She's come every week since Hiiragizawa-san was last a student with us."  She smiles, fondly now, at him.  Inexplicably, he seems shyly embarrassed by this comment.

"Great-Grandmother, why don't I take you back to the pond?"  He asks quickly and she is surprised to see both his and Sasaki's hands make identical movements.  Sign language.  She didn't know he knew it.  Eriol signs something else and Sasaki-chan shakes her head.  The old woman, however, is delighted; she barks out a laugh as Rika kneels and signs swiftly.  Eriol laughs at whatever it is and promises not to run away with the old woman until he's spoken to Sasaki-chan's father.  The old woman continues to laugh as Eriol wheels her out of sight.

Sasaki-chan is still smiling as she stands again.  "I'm very sorry."  She murmurs and Kaho wonders what the girl has seen on her face to cause her to say this. 

"It's nothing, Terada-san."  She tells her.  "This is why the Tsukimine Shrine is here.  I'm sure my parents are grateful to be able to allow your Great-Grandmother use of the mineral baths."

The girl frowns slightly.  "I didn't mean to intrude on your family's time to visit with Hiiragizawa-san." She repeats.  "But he said that he missed seeing Great-Grandmother, and he did offer to walk with me today.  It seems as though he spends all of his time with us at school or after school.  He must not have had much time to visit your family.  And he seems to be such a good friend to all of you."  She pauses, and then smiles suddenly.  "I know!  We're all going skating on Sunday.  If you don't have any chores, why don't you join us?  Hiiragizawa-san has already been invited and said he would come; so you could have a very fun visit with him at the skating rink, to make up for our intrusion.  I will write down the time and bring it here tomorrow for you, if you'd like."  Sasaki-chan smiles brightly again before making her way to the Bird Pond. 

She wonders why Sasaki-chan feels the need to bring the times to her here, at her parents, instead of simply leaving them with Eriol.  And she wonders, as she turns to see Eriol watching her with a guarded face, if he would have extended the invitation.  She dismisses the notion almost immediately.  Of course he would have told her.  He would have invited her straight away.  She knows he would have.

I watched the world float to the dark side of the moon
After all I knew it had to be something to do with you

I really don't mind what happens now and then

As long as you'll be my friend at the end

~~Kryptonite; 3 Doors Down, The Better Life'

"Why don't you sit down and read, Eriol.  You brought along your research materials."  Kaho murmured.  Eriol could see her reflection behind him in the glass.  He shook his head mutely, feeling the press and roll of his forehead against the cool window.

"Is something wrong, Eriol?"  Spinel hovered into view.  Eriol felt a smile curve his mouth.  Spinel was currently a bright, fluffy pink, owing to a run-in with something-or-other and Cerberus. 


"You're awfully weird tonight."  Ruby Moon chimed in around her toothbrush.  "Even for you you're weird."

"Now really, Akizuki-san."  Kaho sighed. 

"What?"  Ruby Moon brushed vigorously, affronted.  "He is."

Eriol sighed.  "Did you ever wish you could…just…fly?"  He asked the room at large.  Spinel snorted.   Eriol ignored him.  "I feel…a little trapped, like there's something I forgot to do.  Or something I should be doing.  I don't know."  Unbidden, an image of Tomoyo's smile as it had been outside the ice-cream bar, before she'd gone in, popped into his head.

"Maybe you forgot to get the time to meet Tomoyo-chan and the others at the Aquarium tomorrow."  Ruby Moon suggested helpfully.   "Or to find out what you're all doing on Saturday.  Or when to meet for skating.  I need to spit."

"Maybe it's the fact that I'm still the wrong color."  Spinel said archly as Ruby Moon wandered away.

"I'm going to go work on my music down in the ballroom.  I shouldn't be gone long, but if I am, don't wait up."  Eriol said suddenly and left before any of them could say a word.  As it turned out, he spent most of the night there, falling asleep in the grimy pre-dawn hours and waking only when Ruby Moon hefted him into her arms to carry him back to their suite.  "You shouldn't be out like this..."  He mumbled, heavy-eyed and half fascinated, as always, by the way her wings fluttered slightly as she walked.

 "Neither should you, but you don't hear me harping on it."  She muttered.   She refused to explain herself when he roused himself enough to ask what she meant. Which was why later that morning, after an hour or two's worth of sleep, Eriol knew he was being taxing.  He was cranky and out of sorts and inflicting it upon everybody within his general vicinity. 

"Geez, go to school already!"  Ruby Moon was packing his books for him and shoving his bag over his shoulder.  "You've been a real mister-crabby-pants since last night.  Even before you feel asleep on the piano you were all ratty."

"Mister what?"  Spinel coughed up his tea.  "The language you use, Ruby Moon."  He shook his head.

"Oh, just because you sit in Fujitaka-sensei's office all day and use big words all the time."  She waved Spinel off.  "Yukito-san thought it was appropriate when I called Touya-kun that."

"You called him that?"  Eriol felt a small laugh bubble up.  "I can't believe you're still here."

Kaho glared at her.  "I can't believe you were so rude."  She muttered darkly and Eriol felt his smile fall away.

"Yukito-san said it was accurate.  And Touya-kun said I had a remarkable turn of phrase!"  Ruby Moon protested.  Kaho shook her head and for some reason the sight of her red hair swinging made Eriol wince.

"I'm going."  He announced and, again, left before anybody could speak to him.  He paused outside the door, listening as Spinel and Ruby Moon bickered about how exactly Spinel would be getting to the University.  Kaho had apparently left the room.  He sighed and pushed away from the door.  He only hoped that school would ease his mood.

Anna why you think that I would never be there
I watched you sleepin curled up you looked so scared
But Anna don't care what I say
~~Please Anna; Karma, Standing in the Light

* * *

Author's Note: Expect part two soon!  I'm just doing basic proofs and edits.  Please let me know if you find any mistakes (be specific!) as I'm incapable of considering a story finished.  See you all soon!