Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters, only the plot.

Desert Cherry Blossom

I sat at the window, looking out across miles of deserted land. The sun burned, sandy desert looked as if it had swallowed the world. Everything seemed so peaceful, but I knew what lurked hungrily just under the sand and the enemies that gathered beyond the horizon. A knock at the door startled me out of my silent observations. I turned towards the door and called "Come in!" The small wooden door opened and Fai, my guard and greatest friend, came into my relatively bare room. I always kept what few belongings I have neat and organized.

"My lady, the men should be ready to go hunting in a few minutes and the women are tending to the wounded from the last fight," Fai reported.

"Good," I replied, "I will be down in a moment to see them off." As head of the clan and leader of the dreamseers, it is my job to wish luck to the hunters and pray they have a successful hunt with no injuries. After passing many doorless rooms in the long hallways, we reached the ground floor and what used to be the foyer, although now it was a large area cluttered with broken arrows and blood. My clan had recently fought a battle against our enemy clan and a few of our warriors were injured. After I watched the hunters leave and blessed them as was customary, I went to help heal those that were injured.

I stood and contemplated what had happened since the acid rain had come. A long time ago, after the world grew hot because of global warming, and the oceans dried up, acid rain started to fall. Trees and plants shriveled up and died because of the lack of water and the buildings were worn away until they crumbled and fell to the ground. The cracked earth turned to sand and the hills to dunes as fighting broke out for water all over the world until almost everyone and everything was dead. The few people that were left starving and thirsty formed clans of people who protected each other against creatures and other clans. The biggest clan was my clan, but then a new clan was formed that rivaled my own causing centuries of fighting over water between the two clans.

I am told the first leader of my clan and the other clan were brothers who turned against one another and that is why the clans have been fighting for generations since then. Now I am the leader of this clan, because the former leader was killed by one of the mutated poisonous creatures. I have a responsibility to my clan to find water and food for my people and I am determined to do that no matter what the costs. With this in mind the boy strode off to make plans, for his next fight with the enemy, with his warriors.

When the hurt men were bandaged I stood up and suddenly felt dizzy. Something ominous seemed to be coming, and I learned at a young age to trust my instincts because I had magic that increased my sense of danger. I found the hunters had yet to come back, so I gathered what was left of the men and told the women to hide the children. I handed the men spears, staffs, and short bows and arrows before telling them to crouch behind the rocks that overlooked the open entrance to the building.

Then, in the distance, I saw a cloud of dust moving closer, so I pointed it out to the men. Soon three men and three women showed up behind Kurogane on high powered hovering mopeds. Kurogane was a strongly built man with spiky black hair who protected the leader and trained people from the enemy clan. Although I had never seen the leader of my enemy I have seen Kurogane often enough during fights. I jumped down from my hiding place and aimed my bow carefully at Kurogane as my men jumped down behind me defensively.

"We want the water," Kurogane said in a gruff voice as he pointed his weapon at me.

"I'm aware of that," I stated calmly. "But you know you will never get it, so leave."

"Not without what we came for," he said loudly, taking a step closer to me. Before I could reply I noticed Kurogane scowl as a tall shadow appeared on the ground beside me. Fai and the hunters must be back I thought gratefully.

"You're not looking very happy Kuro." Fai commented in a teasing voice from his place at my shoulder.

"It's because you are here." Kurogane responded with a snarl. I never knew much about Fai and Kurogane beyond what others have told me but I have noticed Kurogane seems to hate everything about Fai while Fai loves to tease Kurogane by giving him nicknames and taunting him. Just before the battle was about to get physical, one of Kurogane's men shouted that their base was being attacked by another clan. Kurogane shot at me, which Fai easily blocked with one of his magic barriers, and reluctantly drove off into the acid rain with protective cloaks on.

"So how was your hunt?" I asked Fai conversationally.

I ran my hand through my short brown hair. I had just had to stop some robbers from stealing from my clan, but they took some cloth and most of them got away. If I had just been more alert I could have stopped them before they even got into the building but lately I had been distracted by the current food shortage. I paced my room trying to think of a way to get the stolen goods back.

"Syaoran," I looked up at the sound of my name to see a man standing in the doorway. "The men you fought were definitely from the snake clan. I heard from our ally clan that the robbers are going to trade supplies to another clan for food. If we're quick we can intercept them and steal back the cloth and supplies." I stared thoughtfully at the sandy wall in front of me then thanked the man. After thinking of possible strategies I went in search of Kurogane to finalize the plans for the next day.

I woke up early the next morning before the sun rose over the dusty horizon. I dressed in a simple white shirt and baggy pants before swinging a long cloak around my shoulders and covering my emerald green eyes with a pair of dark sunglasses. I walked quietly through the halls and met Fai outside his room. We walked in silence until we arrived at the foyer and saw three men double checking two crates of material. "Is everything ready for the trade with the snake clan?" I asked the men.

"Yes my lady. We're ready when you are," one answered. I watched Fai use his magic to lift the crates onto the back of a moped. I walked over to my motorcycle, sat in the seat with my cloak billowing behind me, and turned it on. It lifted up and hovered above the ground as I flipped my hood up and gestured for my men to move out. About two miles into the desert we stopped and saw people coming closer to our position. Soon eight men stopped in front of us and unloaded two boxes to trade.

Nodding respectfully to the leader of the snake clan, I walked over to the boxes and lifted the top of one of them to inspect the goods. Inside were square scraps of cloth and a few bags of sharp arrows. I nodded to my men in satisfaction and they brought over our crates. Then as I looked back I saw the leader of the snake clan pointing the sharp end of his spear in my face. I froze and in that instant knew that we were being double crossed and that my men and I might not get out unscathed.

Driving across the shifting sands, I looked up at the sky and knew a sand storm was coming. The sun was a couple inches above the horizon and my fifteen warriors and I were almost at the suspected trading spot. "Get ready to win this fight and take back our supplies!" I shouted to the men behind me, snatched by the wind and eliciting battle cries. In the distance I saw heat rising off of hazy black shapes.

As I got closer, I caught a glimpse of a beautiful young girl standing tall in the middle of two clans. It felt as if time had stopped as she slowly turned to look in my direction. Her piercing green eyes seemed to burn a hole through me as her short wavy red-orange haired blew in the hot sandy wind. Then as I got closer I realized that someone from the snake clan was pointing a spear at the pretty red-head. I made a split-second decision to try and save the girl, so I let go of my moped handles to raise my cross bow. I took a second to aim at her attacker then let loose the arrow.

I turned cautiously to watch as a group of people rode towards us, kicking up clouds of dust. As they came closer I saw a boy about my age leading the group. He had ruffled, brown hair and dark, brown eyes and with the sun shining at his back he looked like a god. As I looked out of the corner of my eye I saw Fai's hands begin to glow blue with magic as the snake clan was distracted by the new comers, but before he could do anything I heard something whizz past me. I whipped around to see the man who had been threatening me with the spear was now clutching his leg which had a short arrow protruding from it.

A strong wind suddenly blew in and it looked as if the sandstorm had come early as it whipped at my cloak and pulled at the clothes of others. I noticed the injured man was trying to pick up the spear again and he was about to hit me. I suddenly felt regret because I was not strong enough to protect and lead my clan and because I did not have a weapon to defend myself with. I had always been a good negotiator, being a good people person came in handy when trading but I was not fit to be a warrior. I closed my eyes and waited for the impact. Then I felt a strong arm around my waist and I was lifted off the ground and deposited on the back of a moped. I tried to open my eyes, but the wind was too strong so I closed my eyes tightly and clung to the person sitting in front of me.

I'm trying my best to see through the sudden sandstorm, but I can't see more than a foot in front of my face due to the searing winds and dust scratching at my eyes and face. Then, popping out of nowhere, I saw the girl. I grabbed her around the waist and lifted her up behind me as I tried to find a way out of the haze without hitting any unsuspecting clan members. Finally, I burst out of the swirling winds with the girl clinging to me, and I headed back for the base, knowing that the rest of my men would return on their own. When we reached there I stopped just inside the building and turned to look at my passenger. She looked up at me with her bright green eyes in relief, and I was very glad I had saved this gorgeous girl.

Before I could say anything to her, a man and woman came up to me and gave me a report of what had happened while I was gone. I ordered the woman to take the girl up to my room and check her for injuries while I waited for the other men from my party to return. When ten of the fifteen men returned they told me five of the men had been captured, and they had not been able to retrieve any supplies because of the sudden storm. I ordered them to take a break and get cleaned up as I turned to look out across the desert. This day just keeps getting worse and worse I thought to myself. Five of my men are captured, I have a mysterious girl, no cargo, and clouds were rolling across the sky signaling impending acid rain. "What will I do?" I moaned softly.

As I was led through crumbling hallways I saw rooms surprisingly similar to the ones in my own clan's building. When we reached the only room with a door the woman gently pushed me inside, told me to stay, and closed the wooden door behind me. As I looked around the room, I saw bare white walls and a small mattress on the floor in a corner. There was what looked like a clay chest with a few sets of boy's clothes I noticed as I discreetly rummaged around. Eventually I sat on the mattress with my cloak spread out around me. I went over what had happened in my mind and tried to think what would happen next and when my clan would mount a rescue for me once they realized I was gone. I am unsure as to whether I am a hostage or a guest but I do owe the boy my life so it is best to stay until I find out more, I thought to myself.

An hour later, I heard a knock on the door before in walked the boy that had saved me from the snake clan. He walked over and sat in front of me staring intently at me. I gave my hair a self-conscious pat and looked back at him. "What is your name?" He asked me, breaking the silence without breaking eye contact. I thought about whether I should trust him but he had not given me any reason to distrust him so I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

"My name is Sakura," I answered, "and yours?"

"Syaoran," he said before puffing out his chest and adding "leader of this clan." I smiled at his attempted self-important manner and asked how old he was. "Seventeen," he replied. Well at least he is only one year older than me I thought to myself as I looked at his attractive figure. I then realized how late it must be and imagined Fai and the men out looking for me in the desert as the sun quickly sank across the sky.

"Am I a prisoner?" I asked Syaoran.

"No," he said quickly so I calmly stated I needed to leave. "No!" he said louder this time. "You can't leave yet. Why not stay the night then we can talk about you leaving in the morning." He suggested. I looked at him and almost flinched when I saw how worried and desperate he looked. He must really like me, and I know how dangerous it can be when crossing the desert at night.

"Okay, I'll stay the night," she promised much to my relief. I didn't want her to be in danger again if I could help it, something about her just made me desperate to keep her safe. I told her to wait in the room as I ran to get her some food to eat. I came back and set down a plate with a hunk of bread and small slab of cheese in front of her. She must have been ravenous because she practically inhaled the food and yet she still managed to look graceful doing it. The rest of the night we spent talking to each other in soft, comfortable tones. I learned she was also the leader of her own clan like me though I had never heard of a clan leader being as young as sixteen. As we talked we found we had much in common about our personalities and the way we commanded our respective people. Before I said goodnight we agreed that in the morning we would try to combine our two clans so we could share our resources and live together.

"Good night," I said kissing the back of her hand.

"Good night," she echoed.

The next morning I woke up and looked around, but I didn't see Syaoran. I got up and looked out into the hall while rubbing the sleep from my eyes and pushing my wavy hair out of my face. I didn't see anyone, so I walked down towards where I heard a loud commotion. Just as I reached the bottom of the steps a whole group of hooded people pulled up into the entrance of the building. One very tall skinny man stood up and pushed back his hood letting his blonde hair fall to his shoulders. Fai! He came to get me I thought silently with joy. "Not you," I heard a familiar gruff voice groan.

"The one and only," Fai replied spreading his hands out in mock happiness. I turned to see Kurogane standing almost behind me causing me to jump away from him.

"Kurogane?" I asked in disbelief. Why would one of the enemy clan be here? I thought to myself in surprise.

"Sakura?" Syaoran said just noticing I was standing there.

"My lady!" Fai said joyfully as he caught sight of me.

As I moved towards Fai and some of the members of my clan, Syaoran asked "You're with him?"

"And you're the leader of the enemy group?" I asked without answering his question. I could hardly believe I hadn't noticed where I was, now that I looked around I could see some of the warriors I fought weekly standing around the edges of the large room. I couldn't believe I had so much in common with the leader of the clan my clan had been fighting against since the acid rain first began to fall centuries ago.

I didn't want to believe Sakura was from the other clan. When I thought of Sakura leaving, my heart constricted in my chest. I finally acknowledged that in such a short time I had fallen in love with the girl standing in front of me, and I ached to know if she felt the same way about me.

"You can't break your promise," Sakura said suddenly. I stared at her in confusion trying to think of what she was talking about. "You promised last night that we would join our clans," she clarified to me. I suddenly realized I had and that if the two clans learned to work together, there would be more warriors to protect the clan and hunters to find food. But most of all I would be able to live with and love Sakura.

"Yes. Would you like to combine your clan with mine?" I asked Sakura, ignoring the glare Kurogane was giving me and the shocked look on Fai's face.

"Are you sure? Think carefully, my lady." Fai advised her. I held my breath as Sakura pretended to make a decision and look thoughtful.

"Yes!" She answered as a grin broke out on her face. I was so happy that before I realized it I had picked her up and spun her around. Then I placed my lips firmly against hers and knew that we were going to live happily ever after together.