PART ONE: The Despondent Dame
In a fallen place, the saving Grace was the feeling
That it was her heart that he was stealing
Oh he was ready to embrace, with the fierce excitement
The eyes are bright;
They couldn't wait to get away
It was a strange feeling to be the most important person at the funeral of someone she barely knew. It was stranger, still, that it was the funeral of her mother.
The past few weeks had rolled by in a muddled flurry, and the shock of her mother's death made way for dullness of mind and many nights without sleep. There were many things to regret and shed tears over- that she did not have enough time to learn all about her mother's childhood and adolescence, that she would never have another bi-weekly midnight dinner with her after long hours at the company, that she would never feel the stroke of her mother's hand through her hair once in a while- and there was also the multi-million-dollar corporation left behind in Tomoyo's lap, but she found her emotional detachment quite striking.
A sip (or more) of rum during the ride to the funeral helped to blur the edges and intensify the comfortable numbness in which she found a safe haven. She sat throughout the funeral with a stiff back and puffy face, but somehow managed to wobble to the lectern and murmur a few touching words about her departed mother. Her loss of balance due to her drunkenness was mistaken for overwhelming grief, and various attendees rushed to her side for the procession.
Everything flew by so quickly thereafter, and before she knew it the crowd had disbanded and she was left staring at the marble tombstone that honored her mother. Something tugged at her sleeve.
"Tomoyo, we should go back inside," a familiar voice spoke.
Tomoyo turned around to meet the pretty, rosy face of Sakura Kinomoto that had been the subject of her adoration for most of her life. She nodded and allowed her dear cousin to lead her to the temple.
"I'm sad that we haven't had the chance to see each other often, Tomoyo. I'm so sad that we had to reunite this way."
It had been two years and five months since they graduated from high school and matriculated into their respective universities- Tomoeda University for Sakura and Syaoran, Tokyo University for Tomoyo. Their phone conversations had shortened and were far and few in between. Yearly summer and winter reunions would always serve to catch up on fun college stories, but Tomoyo could feel the distance pulling Sakura away from her as the brown-haired vixen fell deeper into her prince's arms.
"Don't apologize about that." Tomoyo tried her best to abstain from slurring. "It's not something we could have controlled."
"I wasn't there for you. I was a terrible friend."
They made it across the field of wet grass to the temple entrance. It was clear, even with Tomoyo's diminished vision, that Sakura had been crying the whole day; her eyes were tinted red and she sniffled in between sentences. Tomoyo firmly held Sakura's cold hands and ran her thumb over her knuckles.
"You're here for me right now, Sakura. You're always with me."
Tomoyo put her lips against Sakura's and regretted it immediately. Sakura stepped back, looking down at her feet and taking her hands away.
Tomoyo shook her head, still feeling the slight warmth from the kiss and the regret creating a nauseating tug in her chest.
"I'm really sorry I did that. I had some rum on the way over and I'm a bit drunk right now." She mustered a weak smile, her eyes unfocused.
"I could tell." Sakura offered a brittle smile in return.
Syaoran, clad all in black, appeared from the doorway. He still had that dignified, modest air about him but his features were gloomy. Tomoyo begrudgingly learned to hate him over the years.
"Tomoyo, we're all really sad about your mother's death. Sakura and I will be here for you anytime you need us for anything."
Tomoyo offered a mere nod of the head to the young man and walked back into the temple to endure more trite condolences.
"Looks like that Japanese girl is going to be having a hell of a time claiming her share of the company."
A seminude young man stretched in his bed and tossed the newspaper aside. He looked over at a dark-haired man, wearing a bathrobe as he wiped his glasses.
"Oh? I thought the former CEO had renewed her will a month before the accident and put everything straight."
"She did, but the will apparently gives her daughter some time to choose whether or not she'll take over. If she takes over immediately, she has to leave her university studies. If she doesn't take over, then the next immediate heads of the company will take over and probably cut the company up for its shareholders."
The dark-haired man placed his glasses over his nose and sat down next to the other.
"I'm guessing the executives are your typical corporate sharks, biting their way through anything to get to the money. Looks like she's exactly our age, too. Gotta be tough." He handed the paper over to the bespectacled man. "Check the photo, Eriol. She's pretty good-looking, even for a woman."
Eriol chuckled as he observed the medium-sized photograph of the business section. The media truly knew how to capture people in their most aggravated states of mind; the girl in the photo, though charming in looks, looked absolutely exhausted with her black clothes indicating that she had just attended her mother's funeral and her band of bodyguards dutifully pushing away microphones and cameras.
"This girl is very attractive. She reminds me of someone I'd been with a long time ago. Japanese women are absolutely delicious in bed."
Linus turned over, mildly surprised.
"You've been with women before?"
Eriol ran his hand through his companion's sand-colored hair.
"Yes, I have, and who the hell cares."
Eriol grinned and kissed Linus's hand.
"London also has the most exquisite gay men in all the world. Dorian Grays in every corner, all susceptible to the tempting seduction of the evil oriental opium poppy. It's the perfect place for a man like me." Eriol stood up and began to collect his clothes.
Linus gazed at the tray of the opium bowl and the ceramic pipe they shared the night before. He couldn't tell if the intoxicating smell had dissipated yet.
"So you'll be leaving soon, then."
"Yes, my flight is scheduled for tonight." Eriol looked over and smiled apologetically. "You've got a great future ahead of you, and someone like me will only bog you down with disgusting habits." He gestured to the tray. "Don't become Dorian Gray, now. For a mortal being, hedonism is good only in moderation."
Linus began to stand up, taken aback by the sudden departure.
"I'll see you again, won't I? London's your home. You can't possibly stay away forever! You have to finish your education at the university."
"You'll probably see me again, but don't wait for me. Keep that opium and pipe as tokens of my appreciation for your friendship."
"May I at least drive you to the airport? It's the least I could do-"
Shaking his head, Eriol retorted, "My dear friend, you really ought to forget about me. It's for your own good."
Eriol gave him a handshake and walked out of the room, luggage and newspaper in hand.
Linus began to fall into a sluggish, lethargic state and collapsed in his bed. He woke up a few hours later, unsure of the events that had transpired the night before. Next to him was a tea tray with strange objects that did not belong to him.
Part of her was hysterically proud that she had gotten this far from her house and staff of maids, and another part of her was disgusted at how crazy she was. But the insane are marked by an ignorance of their condition, so she must have been in a solid state of mind.
She was just a little drunk and hopped up on pills.
She kept running, however, almost wheezing for breath through the mist and wisps of her condensed breath flying behind her. The skin under her coat and scarf was damp with perspiration, and her bangs began to uncomfortably stick to her forehead. The bridge was finally in sight.
Tomoyo slowed her pace into a halting gallop and grasped the railing of the bridge. She looked down at the water below rushing downstream past groups of dark, sharp rocks.
'They probably found out I'm not in the house. They're looking for me now.'
She moved her body over the railing, standing on the bare edge of the bridge and took out an old videotape from her bag. She threw the tape at the rocks below, smiling maniacally as she watched the black plastic fly apart and the film unravel into streaks on the water surface. She continued to destroy more tapes in that manner until a tangled mass of shiny black film began to form around the rocks, reflecting the moonlight.
The pollution she created was quite pretty.
"Hey! What the hell are you doing?"
The booming voice of a park ranger caused her already unstable heart to leap as she lost her footing.
She began to stumble off the bridge, scraping her legs against the concrete and trying to hold on to the bottom of the railing. It was like ice to her touch, and the humid air made it just as slippery.
This was how she was going to die- sweaty and bloody, with traces of alcohol and a cocktail of drugs in her system. With her death would come the death of the Daidouji Corporation, divided like a cake among her mother's former subordinates. She would never sing again, read another book again, see whatever friends she had again-
In a quick moment she felt a pair of hands around her wrists that pulled her up back onto the bridge. She rolled over onto the ground with another body, her scarf flying over and blocking her face and vision. She could barely breathe.
"Oh, my God! Wh-who are you," the park ranger stuttered. "Where the hell did you come from? I didn't see any car or anything drive this way!"
The person who had evidently saved her rose to his feet, helping Tomoyo stand while keeping her face concealed. She felt like vomiting.
"I'm terribly sorry for the trouble, officer! I've been looking for my sister for hours since I was told she escaped from the mental hospital."
"Yes, this poor girl's very ill. Surely you'll let us go with a simple warning? She's in enough trouble as it is."
The park ranger was temporarily speechless.
"I saw her throwing plastic waste into the stream, sir. I'm afraid I'll have to write a ticket-"
"Officer, please! I beg you, let's keep this off the books. Here, I'll leave sixty-three thousand yen in cash. It's all I'm carrying."
Tomoyo could feel him getting his wallet and pulling out some bills.
"Yes! All for your noble cause! Think of it as an anonymous donation to the park from yours truly."
They walked towards the park ranger, who shakily accepted the money and dumbfoundedly watched as the two walked hurriedly down the road.
Tomoyo's fear of dying had not passed on.
Before, she was seconds away from death by sharp boulders, and now she was possibly moments away from death by a psychotic serial rapist and killer. She remained silent, following her would-be murderer and trying to remember if she had her pepper spray. She quietly gasped when she felt a small army knife in one of her coat pockets.
"All right, let's take this scarf off you."
The moment she could see light, she drew all her strength and slammed her fist into the man's face. He groaned and stumbled to the ground.
"WHO ARE YOU?" she bellowed. "STAY ON THE GROUND!" She held the knife towards him.
He spit out some blood and turned his face towards Tomoyo. He smiled.
"It's me, Eriol Hiiragizawa. Good to see you again, Miss Daidouji."
The familiar name and face held her shocked. His facial features appeared similar from ten years before- he still wore glasses but sported a thin ponytail and a bloody lip.
"Wha-what? What are you here for?" she fumbled with her words.
"I'd like to ask you the same thing."
"I'm visiting Japan from London. You just happened to be the first person I reunited with."
"Bullshit! Just by coincidence, you just happen to be at the same random bridge at four in the morning?"
"There's no such thing as a coincidence in this universe, Daidouji. I'm sure fate led us to each other for a very good reason."
Tomoyo grew angry. Dealing with magical men was an extremely frustrating task, and the mental frustration combined with the effects of alcohol sent a sharp pain through her head. She could feel a surge of a cold sweat overcoming her body.
"What were you planning to do with me?" she asked.
"Take you home, I suppose."
Tomoyo huffed. "My bodyguards would have killed you on the spot!"
"Bullshit," Eriol smiled. "You've dismissed your regular bodyguards since your mother died. Guns don't really scare me too much, anyway. Drunken women with a blade, however, are quite formidable creatures."
She tried to reply, or plunge the knife into his smug face, but she couldn't. The booze and pills began to take their toll. An incredibly sickening pain lurched through her abdomen and she collapsed to her knees. She held onto her knife as her vision grew dark...
A pillow under her head. Soft cotton sheets over her body. Not naked.
Tomoyo opened her eyes, immediately recognizing the confines of her own bedroom. She still felt groggy, the nausea over a small hangover evidently taking place. She climbed out of her bed and opened her bedroom door.
"Miss Tomoyo! You're awake! Are you feeling well?" a concerned maid approached Tomoyo.
"Yes, yes I'm all right... how did I get back in my room?"
"W-well, Miss Sakura claimed to have found you passed out at her door. She was concerned that taking you to the hospital might cause a media frenzy so she brought you home immediately and we had you checked up with an on-call doctor. Miss Tomoyo, please do not alarm us like that!"
Tomoyo was quite sure that had not happened. Before she could reply, Sakura leaped into her sight and ran towards her.
"Tomoyo! I've never seen you so sick before! I thought I was going to get a heart attack when I saw you last night." Sakura hugged her. Tomoyo was not sure if she had really woken up, but Sakura felt real and so did the sweet smell of her hair. There was no mistake in that. She pulled away from the embrace and looked inquisitively at the girl's face.
"Sakura, I was never in your neighborhood last night. How would I have gotten there by myself?"
"I could only assume you walked and fainted right after you rang the intercom. Thank god you're okay..."
No. Something was wrong. Hiiragizawa had been with her, she remembered that much. He must have taken her to Sakura's apartment and left her there.
"Sakura! Wasn't Eriol Hiiragizawa with me last night? I swear he was with me."
Sakura looked surprised at the mention of the name.
"Eriol? He's back in Tomoeda? I haven't talked to him in years."
Sakura looked more worried, and exchanged glances with the maid.
Tomoyo shook her head. "Sorry, I probably had a weird dream. I need some hangover medicine..." The sickening headache was making its wave across her brain again.
"Yes Miss, please just sit down with Miss Sakura. You also have a conference at three in the afternoon with the company directors."
"Don't worry Tomoyo." Sakura held her hand and smiled. "I'll be with you until the meeting is over and we can spend the day together. We have to."
Her grin was almost contagious, and there was no way Tomoyo could ever deny the brilliant sparkle of those lovely green eyes. Tomoyo smiled back, not sure if spending the day with her cousin would be the best thing to do.
She wanted another drink.
End Note: I always feel obliged to put a note on all my fics... or, all three of them. This is the Tomoyo/Eriol fanfiction I've been wanting to write for about seven years. I've supported this pairing since I was in middle school, and now I'm in my second year of college. My love for this pairing has not withered away but rather stronger and more refined. I have obviously not written fanfiction for a long time. I feel awkward when writing dialogue, and I am sorry that there was so much of it in this part of the story. I find it boring to read, but I hope I made up for it with other parts as well.
I don't want to say so much, but I thank you for reading/skimming this story. It's not over yet! I plan to make it a three-part story type of thing.
I hope nobody was offended by the usage of drugs and alcohol or the casual sexuality of this story, but I had a hell lot of fun breaking past the prim, proper, gentle exteriors of Tomoyo and Eriol and showing them as the freaks they would become in the real world. I do not personally support the abuse of drugs and alcohol. It just makes for interesting fanfics. Seriously, Tomoyo was bound to crack some time and once I pictured Eriol as a sort of sexual connoisseur I couldn't look back.
I do my best to stick to the events of the original CCS story and address the elements of the characters' personalities that I thought would most likely change within a decade. And in keeping up with the maths, if anyone is interested, I meant for the kids to be about 20 years old here- closer to my age so I'd know how to write for them.
The song-spiration for this part of the story was "Only Ones Who Know" by the Arctic Monkeys. I altered the lyrics to what I had originally -thought- they were before I looked them up. I liked my misheard version a bit better, but the song is just so beautiful and I thought it somehow encaptured the fragility of [my version of] Tomoyo and Eriol.
More awaits next time!