L-chan's notes: Thanks to everyone who read my little story. I really appreciate all of the kind reviews. This is the last chapter.
Disclaimer: They're still not mine! Curses, foiled again.
Act Three -- The Truth
"Sakura, can I talk to you for a minute?"
Sakura turned around in her chair and saw Syaoran still sitting at his desk. Classes were out for the day, and they were the only two left in the classroom. His face was serious—but then, it was always serious. He looked into her eyes for a brief moment before he spoke. "I just wanted to tell you that I—"
"I love you, too!" She interrupted.
The blood drained out of his face. "What?"
"Oh, Syaoran, I've wanted to tell you for so long. I'm so glad you feel the same way."
He closed his eyes and shook his head. "Sakura, I'm sorry if I ever gave you any reason to think that. I was going to say that I'm leaving at the end of the school year."
"Meiling and I are going back to Hong Kong. We're getting married on my eighteenth birthday."
She stared at him. Tears formed in her eyes and began sliding down her cheeks. "It's not true," she said hoarsely. "It can't be true. I love you, and you love me. I won't let you leave! I won't give you up!"
"I don't love you, Sakura. I love Meiling."
Sakura bolted up in her bed as the telephone rang shrilly. A dream? A dream! Her heart was pounding as if she'd run a great distance, and she couldn't seem to catch her breath. She closed her eyes and put a hand over her heart, trying to calm down. She knew her dreams could be important, so she replayed the scene in her mind, remembering as much of it as she could. Syaoran said he was leaving to marry Meiling. I said he couldn't because I love him. I love him?
Kero pushed open his drawer. "Sakura! Answer the damn phone! It's driving me crazy."
Her eyes snapped open. "Sorry, Kero," she mumbled as she lifted the receiver. "Hello, Kinomoto residence."
"I was beginning to wonder if you ever came home last night," Tomoyo's voice said.
"Tomoyo!" Sakura had forgotten to call her when she got home from the restaurant. "It… it was late, and I didn't want to wake you," she fabricated, fingers crossed. "I thought we could talk at school."
"You must have had a good time with Eriol," Tomoyo said, her voice dripping with contempt. "Oh, but maybe you're still having a good time, and that's why you took so long to answer the phone."
Sakura stared at the phone, speechless. This wasn't Tomoyo. "What does that mean? Is something wrong, Tomoyo? You're not acting like yourself at all."
Tomoyo sighed. "No, I'm not. I must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. You're right. We can talk at school. See you then." She hung up without waiting for Sakura to reply.
"But—" The only response was a dial tone. Sakura hung up the phone and tried to figure out what had just happened. Is Tomoyo upset because I had dinner with Eriol? She remembered her conversation with Eriol about Tomoyo. I actually had the crazy idea that my being here with you would make her jealous, he'd said.
It made sense now. She was jealous. It was the only possible explanation. Sakura broke into a big smile as she retrieved the phone and punched in a number.
"Hello! You've reached Hiiragizawa, Akizuki, and Suppi," a perky voice answered, sounding more like a secretary for a law firm than the false form of a moon guardian.
"Nakuru! This is Sakura."
"Sakura! How wonderful! What's going on?"
"I need to talk to Eriol. Is he awake?"
"If he's not, I'll wake him up," Nakuru replied with a wicked giggle. Sakura could hear Nakuru's footsteps as she bounded up the stairs. "So, Sakura, how are you? No, how's Touya?"
"Still married," Sakura answered with a laugh.
"Damn. Let me know if that ever changes." Sakura heard Nakuru knock on a door. "Oh, Eriol," Nakuru's voice called sweetly. There was a creaking sound as the door opened, and more footsteps. "E—RI—OL!"
Sakura could hear Eriol's muffled cursing as he berated Nakuru for screaming in his ear. "What a lovely way to wake up," his sardonic voice said into the phone. She could picture him rolling his eyes. "Not that I don't enjoy talking to you, Sakura. What can I do for you?"
She quickly recounted her conversation with Tomoyo, and what she thought it meant. "She sounded so angry, and hurt, and almost… hateful. I've never known her to act like this."
There was silence. And then Eriol was laughing. It started off as a quiet chuckling, but it just got louder and louder until he was cackling like a madman. "Eriol?" Sakura was beginning to think that all of her friends were losing their minds.
He finally calmed down, but there was still laughter in his voice. "She's jealous. It worked. I'm just so relieved. Now I can tell her. Which means," he continued, "that you have to keep up your end of our deal, as well."
Syaoran. The dream. She'd almost forgotten about it. Should I ask him what it means? "Eriol," she began nervously, "how do I know if I've had a foretelling dream?"
"You mean, after all this time, you still can't tell? What's Kerberos been teaching you, anyway?"
"Never mind that. I dreamt that Syaoran told me he was going back to Hong Kong to marry Meiling." She purposely left out the part where she'd confessed her love for him. She still hadn't figured that part out herself.
He asked her some questions about how the dream felt, how clear it was. Then he muttered to himself as he worked it out. It was an annoying habit, but she'd gotten used to it over the years. "No," he said finally. "I don't think this was prophetic. I think it was just your subconscious preparing you for a worst-case scenario. Try to forget about it. Sometimes a sealing staff is just a sealing staff, you know?"
Forget about it. Yeah, right. "Sakura, we'll talk more about this later. Otherwise, we'll be late for school."
"Hoe!" Sakura slammed the phone down. She jumped out of bed and scrambled around for her uniform. Blouse, skirt… where's my blazer?
"Sakura." She turned around to see Kero floating in the doorway, holding her blazer in his paws. "Did you just hang up on Eriol?"
She groaned. "Oh, no. I'll apologize when I get to school. Where's my backpack? Did I remember to make lunch? Is there anything for breakfast? I'm going to be late!" She shoved her arms into her blazer, grabbed her bag, and raced down the stairs.
Sakura spent the afternoon observing Tomoyo during class. They'd eaten lunch together, and Tomoyo had apologized for her bad mood, but she still seemed sullen. Sakura exchanged looks with Eriol, but he just winked at her. He had a plan. She needed to come up with one of her own.
She wished she could have watched Syaoran as well, but he sat behind her, the same as he had since the fourth grade. He often joked that if he ever had to sit anywhere else his grades would suffer. She brought him luck, he said. She could use a little of that luck herself.
She and Eriol had met during the morning recess and resolved to declare their feelings after school. They'd even linked pinkies on it, so she had to go through with it. But what am I going to say? Before she could come up with an answer to that question, the final bell rang, and the sensei dismissed the class.
Tomoyo sighed as she gathered up her books. She just wanted to go home and sink into a hot bath, to forget about the world for a few hours. As she stood up and slung her bag over her shoulder, she felt someone come up behind her. "Meet me in the music room," a voice whispered huskily in her ear.
She spun around. "Eriol?" He was grinning at her. "What? Why?"
He caught her off guard. Poor thing, he thought wickedly. I'm enjoying this way more than I should be. "Remember the vocal competition?" he asked. She looked at him blankly. "You're singing. I'm your accompanist. You wanted to rehearse today." He spoke slowly as if she were a small child.
She blinked. "Oh. Oh, of course. Well, then, I'll… I'll see you there in a few minutes." She bowed her head and brushed past him, hoping he hadn't noticed her reddening cheeks.
He had. He chuckled as he picked up his books and followed her out of the room.
Syaoran remained seated at his desk, staring at the honey-haired girl in front of him. She was bent over her notebook, frantically scribbling down the information written on the blackboard. They were the only two left in the classroom.
Now's as good a time as any, he thought. Besides, Meiling will kill me if I don't talk to her. They'd stayed up half the night talking, sitting on his bed in their pajamas and drinking hot chocolate, something they hadn't done in years. She'd finally convinced him to tell Sakura how he felt. No girl in her right mind would turn him down, she'd told him, and especially not for Hiiragizawa. He wasn't so sure, but he had to know.
"Sakura, can I talk to you for a minute?"
Sakura froze. Her pencil fell from her hand and rolled off of her desk. It's just like the dream, she thought. Eriol was wrong. Oh, God. She turned around slowly. Sure enough, Syaoran was regarding her with his trademark serious expression.
He looked into her emerald eyes. She's afraid of something? Why is she afraid? Whatever he thought he saw in her eyes vanished, and he wondered if he imagined it. Looking for a reason to back out? Your mother should have named you for a chicken, not a wolf, he chided himself. Say it. He took a deep breath and prepared to bare his soul. "I just wanted to tell you that I—"
"I lo—What?" He sat there with his mouth hanging open, trying to figure out what had just happened. "You… know," he repeated slowly. "You know?"
She nodded. "I'm happy for you." She didn't sound happy. She sounded wistful.
Of all the responses he'd imagined, that was not one of them. What the hell does that mean? "You're happy for me?" He was beginning to sound like a parrot. "What about you? How do you feel about it?"
Now she was confused. "What does it have to do with me?"
He knew that she could be oblivious at times, but this was ridiculous. "It has everything to do with you!"
What is he talking about? "Why? Am I invited?"
Syaoran suddenly had an urge to bang his head against the desk until he passed out. This was not going the way he thought it would. Not even in his nightmares did it go like this. He put his hands together in a T shape. "Okay, time out. What are we talking about?"
Sakura looked at him as if he'd gone crazy. He was beginning to think that himself. "We're talking about you and Meiling getting married."
"We are?" Then the meaning of her sentence hit him. "We are?"
"Because I saw you… with her… at the restaurant… and then the dream… it was just like this…" She babbled incoherently about prophecies and Eriol and Hong Kong. "…and you're getting married."
He shook his head and stood up. He walked around to her desk and knelt down in front of her. "Why would I marry Meiling when I'm in love with you?" he asked her softly.
Her breath caught in her throat. "You are?" she whispered hoarsely. He nodded, and she could see it in his beautiful brown eyes. They shone with warmth and tenderness. And love. What if my dream had come true? What if I'd lost him? Everything she'd been feeling for the past two days finally caught up with her. She put her hands over her eyes and began to cry.
Now, this is more like what I expected, he thought wryly. He pulled her hands away from her face and held them in his own. "Sakura."
She sniffled and opened her eyes. The dream was right about one thing. She knew it now. "I'm sorry," she said with a tremulous smile. "I thought you were going away. I was just so afraid that you would leave me before I could tell you that I… I love you, too."
She nodded. "For so long. I just didn't know how much."
"Me too," he said. He pulled his handkerchief out of his pocket and gently wiped away her tears. "Don't cry anymore. You know crying never does any good."
She laughed. "How many times have you told me that?"
"Apparently not enough," he answered with a grin. He stood up and offered her his hand. "Come on. I'll walk you home, and we can talk some more." When she took his hand and stood up, he pulled her close and lightly brushed his lips against hers. She wrapped her arms around him and returned the sweet caress of his kiss.
She looked up at him and smiled coyly. "Can we do that some more, too?"
The final note reverberated in the music room, and Eriol lifted his hands from the piano's keyboard. "That was lovely, Tomoyo."
She didn't look at him and instead shuffled through her music. "You were slow," she grumbled.
"Was I? Maybe you were fast." Actually, the song was perfectly fine, but if she wanted to pick a fight with him, he'd let her. He knew what her real problem was, and it had nothing to do with the piece.
"It's my song. I should know what the tempo is. If you can't keep up, I'll find someone else to accompany me. I'd hate to lose because my pianist had his thumb in his ear."
He grinned, but she didn't see it. "If you lose, it'll be because you can't hit the high A," he goaded. Her performance was flawless, but she was particularly sensitive about that note.
She spun around and glared at him. "Don't take it out on me because your plan didn't work."
His grin disappeared. She knew? It didn't? "What do you mean by that?"
"Sakura is in love with Li," she said haughtily.
"I know that," he answered slowly. What does that have to do with us?
"So, your little stunt was all for nothing." Tomoyo went back to studying her music, unnecessarily noting the troublesome A.
Eriol stood up from the piano bench and walked over to her. He grabbed her arm and forced her to look at him. "Are we speaking the same language here? Because I don't know what you're talking about."
She jerked her arm away from his grasp. "I saw you," she hissed. "You and your little Clow tricks. Did you think no one noticed?"
He was hearing the words, but she still wasn't making any sense. "You'll have to be more specific. I'm always pulling my 'little Clow tricks.'"
I don't believe him, Tomoyo thought, seething. What gall! "You fixed the auction so Sakura would win."
Aha! Now we're getting somewhere. "You're right. I did."
"But she loves Li."
"Yes, I believe we've established that. What's your point, Tomoyo?" Say it, he silently pleaded. Tell me.
"Not only did you cheat, but you wasted your time."
"No, I didn't." I'm going to have to draw her a diagram, aren't I? "Why do you think I cheated?"
"Because you wanted to go out with Sakura." She said it as if it were obvious.
She closed her eyes. "Because you love her," she whispered sadly.
"Wrong! But thanks for playing." Her eyes snapped open. He crossed his arms and looked at her intently. "I swear, for someone so emotionally intuitive, you are completely blind to what's right in front of you."
She couldn't describe what she saw in his blue eyes. He's mocking me. But he's serious, too. And there's something else…
"I saw you, too, you know," he said, interrupting her thoughts. He could see that she was confused, but he continued before she could speak. "I think you wanted to go out with me, but you were afraid. And so was I. But not anymore." He stepped closer to her. "You see, my plan did work," he whispered. "Now I know that you feel for me what I feel for you." He gently rested his hands on her shoulders. "I love you, Tomoyo."
She gasped, but the sound was lost as he covered her mouth with his. She resisted at first, but then her arms snaked around his back and she opened her mouth to him. He kissed her until it was absolutely necessary to stop for air.
"I'm sorry," he said, his lips moving against her dark hair as he held her close. "It was a dirty trick. I had to see if you cared. The only thing I could think of was to try to make you jealous. And you, my dear, were positively green."
"I was not," she replied indignantly. He choked back a laugh. "Okay, I was, and if I didn't love you, I'd kill you for what you did. You're very lucky."
"Yes, I am." He stroked her hair tenderly. "I'm very lucky."
She let out a long sigh and felt the tension of the past few days flow out of her body. She'd behaved horribly, and she owed everyone an apology. But she'd worry about that later. Right now she had more important things to think about. She pulled away and looked up at him with a wicked smile.
"But you're still playing the song too slowly."