Author's Notes:  Oi, another late chapter, but almost done, this fic is.  Just an epilogue to go.  Yatta!

Thanks to starquestor (well there's some mystery there too, just wait and see), Emi-hime (well, you're very right.  I started the story with a concept of having many non-related fantastical dreams), Meruru-chan, Blushing Sigh, cherryblossomsakura2111 (nope, no magic.  I wanted a plot with the impossible happening without logical reasoning), Lakshmi (I used turpentine once with pastels but I like benzene more cause it smells better…carcinogenic, but nice smelling), Riley S, Eclipse2 (the whole dream thing is kinda unexplained, but the murderer is revealed), silvershift, Lemon Parade (yep, in this chapter), Chena Pan, Light in the Darkness, Fylleth, Candyland, somnambulating.

Disclaimer:  CCS is not mine; this story is not intended to make me fabulously rich.  That's what my world-dominating monkey guided, lithium ion powered death ray is for.  Patent pending.

Dark Fantasy

Chapter 10:  Half Forgotten Nightmares

Syaoran awoke to the overpowering smell of disinfectant and the sight of sterile walls striped with pale sunlight.  Lingering about him was also a faint half there smell of smoke.  A strange lightness filled his head, hazy and spotted without the usual accompanying after nightmare nausea.  He felt restful, if that was word to describe it.  Or at least he felt restful until the dissociated light-headedness receded and he became acutely aware of how much his body ached.  Every joint felt like it had been bent and stretched and left to tighten and cramp up.  He tested his limbs and winced at their soreness; he wondered what he had been doing to garner such pain.  Half thoughts and pictures were drifting through his head but he couldn't hold onto any one of them long enough to put together a full picture.  Everything seemed so unreal at the moment, and the last definite thing he could remember was talking to Tomoyo after the CAT scan.  How long ago was that?

He winced as he moved an arm up to rub his eyes and even more as he opened his mouth to yawn.  He laid there for a bit, eyes drifting open and shut transiently, halfway to falling back asleep, when the door opened and a nurse stepped into the room.  He observed her through the corner of his eye as he half slept.  She picked up his chart and made a few marks, checked the monitor a few times and pushed something into the IV bag hanging at his side.  His eyes became weighted down even more and he closed them for longer periods of time, until he couldn't find the will to open them again.  He slept.

The next time Syoarn awoke, he was much more alert, and his body felt less tight and more pliable.  His vision fell into focus a little more readily this time around, and he swept his gaze fully over the room.  Standard hospital room, looked like he was alone, the other bed stood made but empty on his right.  Cautiously, still partly remembering the agony of trying to move however many hours ago it was, he pushed himself up the bed until he was in a sitting position, leaning against the pillows.  He found he wasn't particularly sore at all now.

He delayed calling the nurse; there were memories to sift through and categorize into reality, fantasy and nightmare.  He could dimly recall the Tokyo Tower, different as it was now, laid out in a strange new fashion but no definite details arose.  Sakura was there he knew, just because she always was.  It was strange that his other dreams left vivid, detailed impressions, but this one faded and refused to be caught.  He was still puzzling over the smoky taste in his mouth when Tomoyo entered the room.

"Syaoran, I'm so relieved you're up."  She drew a chair over to his side; she looked preoccupied with her hospital badge askew.  "I was afraid to let them give you any sedatives, because of the whole Kinomoto connection.  Who knows if you'd wake up?  But as usual you real doctors won out.  Besides, I knew you'd just as likely get out of bed against doctor's order, you stubborn ass."

Syaoran frowned at her small speech in confusion.  His mind was still a whir of real and false memories.  "Sedatives?  Why?" he asked, clearing his voice afterward for it was too rough and unused.

"Don't you remember?"  Tomoyo frowned along with him.  "You went up to see Kinomoto-san, and you just fainted.  And you're heart rate went up so much, we thought we were going to lose you.  You almost gave me and Terada a heart condition ourselves."  She smiled weakly at the memory.

Syaoran tried to recall what Tomoyo was talking about, but couldn't.  "No, I don't remember any of that.  Last thing I know, I was talking to you after that CAT scan."

Tomoyo nodded contemplatively.  "Hmm, as a psychiatrist, I can probably say that you're subconscious is sheltering you from the trauma of the incident.  I think there's harm letting the memories rest undisturbed."

"Yeah, that's probably best.  I think I had another dream, but I can't remember that either…"

"A dream?  As in with her?"

"I think so; I'm not sure.  There's no change in her status I suppose?"

Tomoyo laid a gentle hand on his shoulder.  She shook her head and let out a long sigh.  "Well, you don't remember, but she had her own scare.  Coded for a few minutes, and just as miraculously as you, recovered all of a sudden.  I can't even begin to tell you the chaos around here when both of you were trying to beat each other to the grave."

Syaoran laughed at the black humour.  "Believe me, I didn't plan it that way.  Is she alright though?"  He felt a subdued alarm stir in his stomach; he could see Sakura in his head, draped across some sofa with the flames leaping and flicking all around her.  And the overwhelming smoke…

"Syaoran?"

He stirred out of the thought to find Tomoyo looking worriedly at him.  He knew the look; it was one that said she was going to bribe the orderlies and nurses to keep him in bed for days to come. "Sorry, I blanked out for a moment."

"Tell me about it; I thought you had dropped right off into sleep with your eyes open."

"I was just thinking of something.  What were you saying?"

"I was telling you the good news.  Kinomoto-san woke up in the middle of the night.  Just opened her eyes and sat up.  I'm telling you she scared the hell out of her family and the night nurses.  They could've sworn they gave her enough sedative to knock a person out for at least a day."

"She's awake?"  Syaoran digested the information with some doubt, but he was also very relieved at the prospect.  Something told him, her awakening was a sign that they were both out of danger.

"Oh yes, they've checked her over and everything, many times in fact.  They can't find a single thing wrong; her tests are coming back normal, just like when she was in the coma I hear."

"Hm."  Syaoran nodded, having another half remembrance of flipping through Sakura's chart and taking note of the many blood panels and neurological exams.  "Another mysterious occurrence right?"

Tomoyo laughed a little at Syaoran's half embittered frown.  "Well, I think of it as a miracle, but you being Mr. Realist, I suppose we can call it an inexplicable mystery."  Syaoran's stomach grumbled and she laughed more assuredly this time.  "I guess it is time for a late lunch, ne?  Although from what they're serving, I think you're better off starving."

"Maybe you could sneak me in something from the cafeteria?"  Syaoran thought of the many mashed and sickly green things they loaded onto trays and passed off as food in the hospital.  It could've been the stuff of nightmares in its own right.

"Well, it is against doctor's orders, but seeing as how the hospital food is much more likely to off you than a sandwich from upstairs…  I'll get you something light.  Soup okay?"

"Sure, thanks."  Syoaran watched Tomoyo leave the room and looked at the clock again.  One on the dot.  The line was sure to be long enough that he might be able to slip out and tie up some loose ends before she came back and discovered him gone.  He felt a strong compulsion to talk to Sakura; she held some of the answers he was looking for, he was sure.

The ward was like it always was: silent and empty.  Syoaran hoped that they hadn't moved Sakura yet, or else he'd have to look around for her and Tomoyo was sure to find him gone and have him locked in a room so he could 'recover.'  The door to Sakura's room was open and a few voices drifted through.  Syaoran stepped through and spotted Sakura almost immediately.  She was sitting up in bed, looking alert and talking to the two men by her side.  For a person who was in a coma for months, she looked refreshed and in high spirits.  She chatted excitedly with her brother and father, switching her attention from one to the other.  She was a new person in Syaoran's eyes, the person he never got to meet.  He didn't feel the dread that he used to when he looked upon her, the subtle touch of fear that her image brought up in his mind.  There could be nothing more innocuous than the sight of her here now, talking and laughing.  Even when she first spotted him at the doorway and fell quiet, he couldn't feel the same undercurrent of danger.

She looked hard at him, face drawn in concentration and remembrance.  She whispered something to her family and they whispered back, but she shook her head and they slowly and reluctantly got up and headed towards the door. 

The black haired man stopped at his side before passing through.  "About what I said yesterday…I apologize."  His voice was hard, strained, impersonal. 

Syaoran just stared.  He had no idea who that man was, and what he had said to him yesterday.  He shook off the questions in his head and walked gingerly to Sakura's bed, as if a wrong step might plunge him back into a nightmare.  He took the chair that the brown haired man had abandoned and sat down.

Sakura was the first to break the silence.  "Tou-san told me that you saved my life down in the emergency room.  Thank you."

Syoaran almost sighed in relief.  For a moment, he could have sworn she was going to say something creepy and disappear.  "You're welcome, though I wish I could've done something to help you during the coma…"

"I'm sure you did your best; the other doctors couldn't find an answer either."  Sakura sighed and fingered a long strand of hair, holding it out in front of her to see.  "I can't believe it's been five months; it's winter already.  Yesterday I was jogging along the beach."  She shivered.  "I didn't think Haruka-san…"  She trailed off, looking a little haunted.  "I don't think I have any real memories these past few months, but I-I get the feeling I owe you a lot."  She looked to Syaoran, grateful and confused at the same time.  "I feel like you've been helping me and…saving me?"  She laughed then, a comfortable amused laugh.  "I'm probably just imagining things; I've been told I can get carried away sometimes."

Syaoran laughed with her for a bit; it was a very natural and easy thing to do.  She was a likeable person in real life.  He turned a little solemn recalling the dreams.  "Sakura, I can't really explain what's been happening, but I can't help but believe that you might have experienced it too.  I've been having these strange dreams.  You were in them, and Haruka too.  They didn't make much sense, but they were very real."

Sakura nodded quietly with a faraway look on her face.  "I do remember, I think.  It's all blurry; I mean I just know I've seen you before.  There was a lake, and…some kind of restaurant?"  She shook her head in frustrated concentration.  "Sorry, I can't think straight.  But I somehow know you were there, really there and you were keeping me safe.  I actually asked Touya if I had a boyfriend that I couldn't remember; he looked like he was going to kill someone."  She laughed at the thought, and Syaoran guessed that Touya was that black haired man who had apologized to him, without seeming to mean it at all.  "But I think I was asking about you."  She avoided his eyes.  "Uh, I mean, we're not…right?"

Syaoran had a mad urge to blush and he squashed his own embarrassment down.  "N-no, we aren't."

"Yeah, that's what I thought.  I would've remembered you more if that was the case."  She dared to meet his eyes again.  "But um, I wanted to really thank you.  I'm being released today, and Touya and Tou-san are going to have a little welcoming home party thing tonight.  I'd like it if you came.  We could, uh, get to know each other better?"

Syaoran surrendered to the flush that was creeping up his neck and his face pinked considerably.  "Y-yeah, I'd love to come." 

He found himself outside Sakura's room five minutes later with her home address and Touya's suspicious and slightly menacing glare directed toward his back.  Another five minutes later and he was on the receiving end of a Tomoyo speech on his need to stop being a reckless idiot and take care of himself.  This said as she ominously waved around a pair of padded restraints.

It was half an hour later into his enforced rest that Terada stopped in to visit him.  The chief of staff threw himself into the chair at Syaoran's side, looking hassled and grateful for a cushioned seat.  "You're looking much better, Syaoran, considering everything you went through yesterday."

Syaoran sat up a little, leaning into the pillows.  "Really, I haven't felt this good for a few months.  And…thanks.  For saving my life, I mean."

Terada brushed it aside with a hand gesture.  "It's not as if I did anything.  You recovered on your own.  Still damn strange, but I'm not complaining.  After all, I'm assuming in another few days, I'll have you back on staff?"

Syaoran nodded, surprised at how much he really did miss his job.  "I can be back tomorrow; I'm feeling very rested.  I can't say the same for you."

Terada sighed angrily and slunk deeper in the seat.  "A few pesky reporters keep hounding me."  At Syaoran's surprised look, he tossed the newspaper he had in his hand up onto the bed.  "Apparently our local artist was that nutcase killing girls at the beach."

Syaoran suppressed an eerie sense of paranoia and hastily flicked open the paper.  The headlines screamed from the front page:  'LOCAL ARTIST REVEALED AS SERIAL KILLER!'.  He found the article and began to avidly read, devouring the words.

'Police announced this morning that the beach serial killer has been identified as local artist Haruka Toru.  This is confirmed after the police had received a positive identification from Haruka's last and only surviving victim, Kinomoto Sakura early this morning.  It appears that Haruka made acquaintance with his victims before he struck.  The motive for his killings remains unknown, and the police have begun a search through his apartment and possessions in hopes of finding answers.  Haruka was rushed to Tomoeda hospital yesterday after he collapsed during an art show at the docks.  Witness report seeing flames on the man's clothes, but the reports are unsubstantiated.  Haruka was pronounced dead at 12:45, half an hour after his arrival.  The cause of his death is still unknown but unofficial sources say that death was most likely due a heart attack.  The Tomoeda Reporter has received confirmation that the hospital will release a statement about Haruka's death this afternoon…'

Syaoran stopped reading as the article went on to conjecture the reasons behind Haruka's madness.  He had the feeling he probably knew why, if only he could remember some more details of his last dream.  As it was, he refolded the newspaper and handed it back to Terada.  "It seems straightforward enough; why are the reporters still bothering you?"

Terada scowled.  "You know reporters, always looking for gossip and drama.  They keep asking if Haruka said anything as he died, like some kind of deathbed confession.  They just can't accept the fact that I was wasn't the attending doctor, and I hadn't even seen Haruka until he was long gone."  He rolled his eyes and made a sound of disgust.  "And then some of the nutjob tabloid journalists keep pestering me about whether Haruka arrived with any burns.  As if someone set him on fire or he went into spontaneous combustion.  I just don't know these days who's more insane, the serial killers or the media."

Syaoran's smile froze at the mention of fire.  Something stirred in his mind and he could see Haruka in front of a backdrop of flames, the fire eating away the background and jumping onto the painter's clothes, engulfing him.  The scene left as quickly as it came, and he shivered as a coldness gripped his bones.  "He was on fire?"

Terada stopped mid rant and sighed in harried exasperation.  "No, that's what I've been trying to tell you.  I went over him at the morgue.  No burns, no welts, in fact his clothes had no signs of having caught on fire at all.  It's all just hysterical witness testimonies and badly thought out tabloid journalism."  Terada frowned a little.  "And yet, it was strange while I was checking him over, I could swear there was a smell of smoke, like something was burning."  He shook his head in dismissal.  "Hell, those reporters are getting to me. The smell could've been his art chemicals for all I know.  He died of heart failure, simple.  Why can't they just leave it there?"

Syaoran nodded stiffly and yawned.  He found he was suddenly rather tired.  Terada noticed too and got up onto his feet, tucking the newspaper under his arm.  "I'll leave you to rest.  When you wake, you can call the nurse to get some check out forms, but only if you agree to take the rest of the week off."

"Alright, alright.  It's already bad enough Tomoyo's on my case."  Syaoran settled onto his back and watched Terada leave.  Alone, his small bout of humour fell away and he let his mind wander a little.  Haruka was gone.  Sakura was back.  He was back.  Relief flooded him and he felt strangely at peace.  He breathed out a deep breath and settled back into the mattress gratefully.  He would put everything behind him.  He didn't even care that so many things were let unexplained.  All he looked forward to was a dreamless sleep and simple ordinary things like talking to Sakura a little more tonight.  He yawned and closed his eyes.  When Tomoyo came in to check on him five minutes later, he was in a deep, restful sleep.

________________________________________

Author's Notes:  Epilogue to go.  Also, sorry to those who were hoping to get an explanation of why and how Syaoran, Sakura and Haruka were able to share dreams.  Besides the fact that I don't know, I never intended to explain it.  It's meant to be one of those things that happens without a logical reason, like those unexplainable mysteries/miracles out there.