Li-kun was waiting for her, leaning against the gate, when she left for school. He held two steaming travel cups and offered her one as he fell into step beside her. "It's tea. It's supposed to be good for muscle aches and stuff." He muttered, handing it to her. Tomoyo arched one eyebrow and his ears went scarlet. "I was training yesterday. Wei made it! Anyway, I had extra. You look thirsty." He refused to look at her and Tomoyo smiled as she sipped from her cup.
"I've had this before, I think. Didn't your mother make this last time I visited?" It had been right around the wedding of Syaoran's eldest sister, if memory held. "She gave the recipe to Sakura-chan, I think." What she said was certainly true enough, though she only said it in order to watch Li-kun's face go crimson as he nearly spit tea onto the sidewalk. She took another sip and took pity on him. "I'm surprised to see you waiting for me."
He looked down at the sidewalk and bit his lip. "You were upset." He shrugged.
"Yesterday?" She asked and watched as fresh color surged into his cheeks.
He shook his head, embarrassed, but apparently he felt strongly enough on the subject to tackle it directly. "You were fine last night, as far as I could tell. You were…" He coughed. "I saw a lot of red and yellow. This morning, while I was meditating, you were blue." She saw the fingers of his free hand tighten into a fist and relax. "Blue mixed with white. I thought I'd come by."
She thought about what he said as they walked. Blue and white, the Chinese colors of mourning and death; she could see why he'd have been upset. "I spent last night with Eriol." She told him softly. "His plane leaves this morning. I sent him home an hour ago."
Li-kun nodded. "I see." His voice was ominous and that caring made Tomoyo smile.
"You angry with him," She sounded just a little pleased with the idea. "On my behalf."
"Of course I am." He sighed and looked upward. "It's a matter of honor; if you were Mei-Ling, I'd have to kill him. I might have to anyhow."
"I invited him. It was my decision." She tipped her head back to look at the sky with him.
Syaoran snorted. "Somehow, Daidouji, I knew that. If you'd wanted him stopped he'd be in a hospital right now instead of getting ready to get on a plane." He turned his head to share a smile with her but she didn't look at him. He didn't need to see her with tears in her eyes. He must have seen them anyway. "Damn it, I didn't think he'd be so much of a bastard. He should have just kept his big, clumsy, stupid, wandering hands to himself. I should have hit him harder."
"Hit him…" Tomoyo stopped. "Li-kun! You hit him because of me?" Li kept walking and she was forced to run to catch up to him. "Li-kun?"
"Of course I did!" He was boiling with anger. "But then he was so clueless and so concerned about you and I thought that maybe he was just stupid. I thought that if he could see how much you love him, he'd come around. And last night you out and out told him, I know you, you told him flat out, and he's…he's…I should hit him again. Heck, I promised I would anyhow."
"You'll do no such thing." Tomoyo sighed, "I knew he didn't return my feelings, I always knew that. But he loves me as a friend. It's enough." She wondered if she'd believe it someday soon. Syaoran didn't seem to believe it any more than she did.
"Daidouji," his voice was incredulous, "Daidouji, we're friends, right?"
She nodded. "We're more than friends, Li-kun." She was the only person aside from Sakura and his family whose emotions he could read; though mentioning that fact was a sure way to make him blush; even alluding to it made him glow pink. She smiled.
"Well, if I asked you to do with me what you did with him last night, would you?" He caught her satchel before it could hit the ground when she dropped it and kept walking. "If I asked you right now, today, with everything the way it is now, would you?" He glanced at her and shook his head. "You wouldn't. You don't have those kinds of feelings for me and I don't feel like that for you."
Tomoyo gaped for a moment until she found her voice. "It's different. The situation isn't the same. You have Sakura-chan."
He shrugged and took a sip of tea. "He has that Teacher. It's not different at all, except he's an idiot and I'm not." He paused, thinking, and shook his head. "I should be saying he's a bastard, but idiot seems to be stuck in my head."
"Li-kun, don't." She was mortally afraid that she'd cry again. It would be so much easier to let loose her tears if he offered her hope.
"The thing is, part of Hiiragizawa was Clow Reed and Clow was an idiot. He didn't have a clue about that water mage. I had to read all his journals and he kept talking about her and he never even realized that he'd fallen for her. As for the fact that she loved him…it went so far over his head it might as well have been a rocket to the moon." Tomoyo took a shaky drink as she listened to him. "And who knows if Kinomoto-sensei would have ever come around to the fact that your mother had feelings for him? And, well, maybe he's just really thick, Daidouji."
"You like him." It was surprising how not-surprising a revelation that was. Her mother liked Eriol, her Sakura-chan liked him, and now, so did Li-kun.
He rolled his eyes and pulled open the doors to the school. It was early, very early; in the quiet she hadn't noticed that they'd even reached their destination, though she might not have noticed it anyhow. "He grows on you, I guess. He's so stupid it's hard to hate him." He put a hand on her shoulder as they reached their lockers. "My point is: he knows how you feel and even if he's an idiot he's got to know how special that is. He'll have to see, sooner or later, how he feels."
It was useless. The tears started despite her best efforts. "He already knows. He promised that we'd always be friends. Nothing would change, he said." She was horrified by the hot streaks of wetness covering her face. "I told myself that was what I wanted! But when he said…" And she couldn't speak as the boy beside her folded her into a hug.
"I should kill him for breaking your heart, but that'd probably just make it worse." He told her as she cried against him.
"I broke my own heart." She hiccupped. He wasn't who she wanted, but he was comforting and familiar and wonderful just the same.
She could feel him heave a sigh. "I'd marry you tomorrow, Daidouji, if I thought it would make things better."
"I don't think it would make Oniichan any happier if you married Tomoyo-chan instead of dating me." Sakura's voice was serene. "When Daddy told him that he was going to marry Sonomi-obasan, that's the first thing Oniichan said. 'Now there's another one to keep the boys away from.' It was very sweet." Tomoyo stepped out of Syaoran's arms and pasted on a smile. Sakura titled her head and smiled gently. "Ohayou, Tomoyo-chan." She said before hugging her.
Tomoyo sighed and laid her head against Sakura's shoulder. "I love you, Sakura-chan."
She received a soft kiss on the temple. "I love you too, Tomoyo-chan. Everything will be absolutely all right. I'm certain."
Li-kun held out a handkerchief. "Sakura, do you happen to know Hiiragizawa's room number?" He asked pleasantly. "I forgot to tell him goodbye when I spoke to him yesterday."
Tomoyo gave a watery laugh and dried her face. "You can't go and hit him, Li-kun, no matter what you promised him you'd do." She admonished "And you can't go and kill him, either." She looked down at her hands and turned to tuck his hankie into her locker to be laundered and returned later. "Things will be all right."
Sakura nodded. "Of course they will." She held out a piece of paper to Tomoyo. "I ran into Eriol-kun on my way here this morning." She explained. "He wanted me to give you this." She smiled and placed the paper into hands that had gone suddenly numb. "Syaoran-kun, what did you promise to do to Eriol-kun?" She scowled. "Does this have to do with the day you hit him behind the school?"
Li looked at the letter in Tomoyo's hands, smiled at her and then began leading his girlfriend toward their classroom. "I promised to hit him for being a bastard. But he's just an idiot, so I won't." Tomoyo watched to door close behind them before she unfolded to the message Eriol had sent to her.
Don't worry, Tomoyo. I love you. Everything will be okay, for sure. Sakura-chan's unbeatable spell seemed to wink at her from the page. If it hadn't been for the handwriting and the familiar paper, Tomoyo would have doubted the authenticity of it. Her heart thudded painfully inside her as she held the letter close, absorbing the words. The few times she'd witnessed Sakura's spell in action amazing, powerful things had happened; and seeing it now, she could believe and she could hope. It was magic enough.
It carried her through her morning classes and the sympathetic looks and the quiet whispers. The entire class, Tomoyo realized, must have know how she felt and when Eriol had arrived out of the blue to visit they must have thought it meant more than it did. She was lucky, she thought, to have been sent to the office just before lunch on a mindless errand to find out about the in-coming student, it enabled her to avoid everybody. Or maybe it wasn't so much luck as caring; Terada's eyes when full of compassion as he thanked her. "Rika-san asked for me to tell you that she and the others will be eating by the statues today, if you want to join them." He murmured as she handed him the file.
She nodded, not really listening, and left. She knew he must be concerned for her when she heard him swear softly and drop the file on his desk. Tomoyo ducked out one of the side doors and headed for a small stand of trees. She didn't want to talk to Rika and Chiharu who were happily married and engaged. She didn't need Yamazaki to tell her stories to try to cheer her up. She didn't want Naoko to tell her that there were plenty of other deserving boys around the school. She'd said all she could bear to say to Sakura-chan and Li-kun before school had started; she wanted quiet and stillness if she couldn't have peace. She sat down in the shade and watched the sun and tree cast shadows across the ground.
"I'm an idiot, Tomoyo-san." The voice startled her; shocked her and she looked up to see Eriol, his shadow trailing behind him, standing not more than a yard away from her. He was wearing his school uniform and a wry smile. "I'm such an idiot."
"Eriol-san!" She shook her head. "You're supposed to be on the plane to England." It was a stupid thing to say when she hadn't wanted him to leave in the first place.
He smiled gently. "Xiao-Lang says I'm not that much of an idiot." He knelt down in front of her and drew her into a hug, sighing. "He's right, but just barely."
"What are you doing here?" Tomoyo leaned into him, into his warmth and his scent and into her own dreams. She hoped.
"I love you. I think the entire town knew that I loved you before I did. Terada-sensei told me it was about time." He laughed and she absorbed the sound. "I don't know why I didn't know that I love you." He told her, leaning back to look into her eyes. "And now I'm hoping that you love me enough to forgive me for being unbearably dense and for breaking two hearts today." He bit his lip, looking suddenly shy. "I've got this diamond ring in my pocket." He said and took her hands in his. "And a ring set with amethyst, because it reminded me of your eyes, and one with pearl because it's like your skin; I think I've got a ring with every type of stone imaginable." She laughed and he kissed her fingers. "Some of them are being ordered in; all told, I have nearly twenty different rings for you. If I asked you to marry me, would you say yes to one of them?"
She threw her arms around him and buried her face in his shoulder. "Yes."
You are to me, unbelievable
I think of you and I just lose control
Everyday you show me what I already knowYou'll always be, be my wonderful ~~My Wonderful; LENA, Since Then…
Her eyes haven't left the window since she boarded the plane and Akizuki-san has been reading Spinel's book with him, though it probably bothers Spinel to have to read so slowly. She's watching the sun glint off the ocean when the book is snapped shut. She looks away from the window to see that Akizuki-san's eyes have gone unfocused in the way they do when she is listening to a far-away Eriol.
"So sweet…" Her voice is soft, barely even audible, but she hears every word. "Oh, Eriol, Tomoyo-chan." And listening to Akizuki say this, knowing what it means takes away what little control she has managed to hold onto. She can't help but put her head back against the seat, turning blind eyes to the ocean view; she whispers, against her will, 'I love him, I love him,' until Akizuki-san's eyes fill with tears.
Spinel is hissing instructions and Akizuki-san is soon handing her a pillow and a blanket to hide herself away under. It is that unexpected, gracious comfort that calms her. This is how things must be, she knows. This is the way things will be now. She can see the future spreading out before her. In England she will have movers come and she will have an apartment by the end of the day because there is always something for rent in London. The Guardians will leave two days later but not without stopping by this new place that she lives and she will not open the door to them; Akizuki and Spinel will leave after calling 'goodbye' through the door. When Eriol's new stationary, the one with the evening primroses, arrives she won't open it. She won't read the letter that comes from To-ya the week after that, nor will she read the letters from her former students because she doesn't wish to hear about Eriol and Daidouji's happy news. She'll read Sakura-chan's letter, the one that tells her how happy Tomoyo and Eriol are with the plans they are making, how sad Sakura is that she is so unhappy and how one day things will be okay again; even if she doesn't know when. And she'll cry again, but she'll believe it.
And all the things that won't be
Someday I know, I have all that I want, and all that I need
Everyday is better than my last darkest day
~~Darkest Day; Gravity Crush, Gravity Crush
* * *
Glossary of sorts:
Kitaku: returning home
Udon: Thick Japanese noodles, Tanuki is one way of preparing them.
Umeboshi is pickled Ume—Japanese plums (well, they're more like apricots). But nobody eats Ume raw, they're very sour and so umeboshi is the traditional way to eat them.
Syaoran's sisters: Da-jie etcetera are a way of calling them 'first sister' 'second sister' and so on. I got it from Ina-chan's lovely 'Rite of Passage' because I know nothing about Cantonese. Go read it! Go! Right now! Read 'Rite of Passage'! And now a HUGE THANK YOU to Jo-chan, who was kind enough to correct my stinking Chinese. You rock, Jo-chan. ^.^
The song in this fic is called 'Winter Wish' and it's from the Love Hina Christmas special. If you like CCS, you'll probably like Love Hina too. ^.^ Check it out.
Ah, the Yuki joke! I love that joke. Yue is Chinese for 'moon'. Yukito's last name Tsukishiro means 'moon castle'. Tsuki-moon, shiro-shrine/castle. Yukito can be read as 'snow rabbit'. Yuki-snow, Kato-rabbit. Kero often calls Yukito 'snow bunny', or 'Yuki-rabbit' it's a pun. The large joke is this (and remember, Clow most likely had a serious Chinese education due to his mom) There is, in Chinese legend, a Goddess who lives on the moon, Chang-O is her name. She's there in contemplation over life's mysteries. She's alone, except for her companion. A white rabbit. ^.^ Hence the 'if I didn't know better…" Yue is in Yukito. The moon is hidden in the mooncastle. With a white-rabbit for company. And Yue seems like a broody sort of guy. It's also the reason behind Yue being the white rabbit in the Alice in Wonderland episode. Goddamn, I love that. It's so pun-ishly clever.
Author's NOTE: Please, do go check out the bands listed in the first author's note. I love their music. Also, do go check out Chelle-sama's works to keep yourself entertained (Do it! Do it now!) while I work on more of the Third Arc series. For more information regarding this story, head to my website (check out the music while you're there!) I'll be posting an 'introspective' on writing Haikei and Kitaku. Somehow being this fic's bitch for seven months entitles it to make me have talk therapy with myself. Go figure.
And apparently information got left out of 'Haikei's notes. The fact is that these stories are cannon to neither the anime nor the manga. Not entirely. I've mashed the two worlds together as much as possible. Hence Fujitaka being Eriol's other half and still having Meiling around. Silverlight pointed it out to me and so all of you say a nice thank you to Silverlight. ^.^