PRE FIC RANTINGS AND A SPRINKLE OF DISCLAIMER: It seems all of a sudden, everyone is talking about Card Captor Sakura. Momo, of course, has been obsessed with it for about a year now. Caily is in love with Syaoran Li. Leslie has just started watching it. Kat and Jessica have always babbled about it. And even a couple of my internet friends have found a sudden obsession with it.
*falls to knees* I give up. I'm liking Card Captor Sakura. I'm liking it a lot. *sweatdrops* I've never seen a full ep of the anime, and I've read a fair bit of the manga, but not quite enough to really understand what was going on, which explains why this fic may be a little skewered and messed up plotwise. I called Momo about an hour ago and pounded some info out of him, but even at that, he's only ever seen the English dub, and not even the end of it. So don't sue me if this doesn't fit in with the actual CCS storyline. Anyways, it's AU. ^ ^
Um, the ages vary amongst the characters in such a confusing manner, that I'm just going to say that Syaoran is 16, and you can all work it out from that. So, four or five years after the ending of the series?
WARNINGS are pretty light for this one. Darkness, violence, blood, death, insanity/mind tripness and Shounen-ai (aside from Touya+Yukito/Yue, the Eriol-Syaoran undertones are pretty heavy as well even though there's a great deal of S+S mention). None of these things to a great extent... yet, that is. *evil grin*
I don't own CCS. Hell, I barely even know anything about the series!
ADDITIONAL: Due to formatting qualms on the new ff.n net, and mistakes I've been noticing in the original script, you are now reading: 'Cessation, the EDIT'. From this point on there will be no more pre-chapter rantings except in extreme cases. Sorry, but I doubt anyone will miss them. ^ ^;;

Izzy Girl

I "Not a big deal... just my sanity..."

"I think... that I am going insane."

The dying flame of a stubby, melted candle, the only light in the darkened hotel room, flickering across Eriol Hiiragizawa's face made the boy's expression all that more grave as he set his large hat on the rickety wooden table and stared intently at Syaoran Li through glinting spectacles.

Across the table's battered surface, Syaoran was seated only partly on his chair, leaning against the hilt of his sword, exhausted and still dressed in his ceremonial garbs. He shifted slightly, the bells at the end of his cuffs jingling heavily across the floor. He tilted his head and regarded the young magician opposite of him with very little emotion.

"And what does this have to do with me?" he asked finally.

Eriol sighed and slumped in his seat, massive folds of his cloak and cape ruffling as he did so. "Absolutely nothing, Xiao Lang. But you just asked me where I have been for the past two years."

"And that's your answer?" Syaoran straightened his neck and fixed a glare, "That's your excuse?"

"It is an answer, yes, but I don't feel I have to excuse anything."

Syaoran continued to glare, but getting no reaction from the other boy, as he might've well expected, hung his head with a defeated sigh.

"Well, you've picked a fine night to track me down..." he muttered bitterly.

"Ah. It's been exactly two years, then. The anniversary..."

Syaoran jumped and his sword clattered to the floor with a great deal more noise than it should've made for the sake of secrecy. He gazed at Eriol with wide, amber eyes, disgusted, "Anniversary!?" he demanded, his voice a threatening growl, "How can you call it an anniversary!? Two years ago this night, in three hours, Sakura..." he cut himself off quickly, turning his head away wearing a pained expression.

"I'm sorry." Eriol soothed, not sounding particularily apologetic, "I didn't intend the comment to be hurtful. I understand that you, especially, of all people would have a difficult time talking about the mistresses' death, Xiao Lang."

Syaoran winced at the word 'death' as he leaned over to pick up his sword, and nearly fell over in shock as the dim room suddenly went pitch dark. He snapped his head upwards, assuming that the candle had given up clinging to it's last threads of light, but saw instead the faint outline of Eriol's slender fingers pinching the wick as his eyes adjusted to the blackness. Eriol's head was turned towards the window on the far end of the room that ran across one whole wall, floor to ceiling. He seemed distracted.

Syaoran finished retrieving his sword, and held it tensely. He wasn't sure why, but being alone in a dark room with Eriol made him feel uneasy. "Why did you..." he began, but stopped when Eriol held up a silencing finger.

"Firery." the dark haired boy whispered softly.

Syaoran's eyes widened and he sank into his seat, nearly flattening himself to the table surface in an attempt to lean close to Eriol.

"Here? Now?"

Eriol nodded.

"Is that what we've been chasing after all night then?"

Eriol nodded once more and there was a proignant silence, shattered rather violently only seconds later when the door burst open in an explosion of flames.

The magician boy moved quickly, grabbing his hat and materializing his sealing staff, swinging it in a wide arc around Syaoran and himself. It created a sheild of sorts, though not a very powerful one. The second blast of fire assualted the barrier unforgivingly. Syaoran was thrown backwards from the impact, but Eriol himself stood calmly in the center of the room, lingering traces of fire parting like water around the butt of his staff.

When the flames dissapated, Firery slowly uncurled itself from thin air, glowing red wings flowing behind it like sheets of heat and pure energy. It regarded Eriol with a quiet curiosity, raising one eyebrow as if it knew him from somewhere's, but could quite put it's finger on it.

"Why do you attack me?" Eriol asked of the sprite with contained fustration barely audiuble beneath layers of the usual, untouchable cool, "Why do you attack me when I am your creator!?" his voice raised slightly and he swung his staff again. A threat.

The Firery didn't answer, but gave only the barest of shrugs and dissapeared. Syaoran, having pulled himself to his feet, rushed to Eriol's side. "What... happened?" he asked breathlessly, "Why did it just...?"

The British boy shook his head slowly, "I do not know, Xiao Lang, but I do not think that we should let our gaurd down just yet. I still sense..."

As if to affirm Eriol's supicions, both boys were flung across the room by an exceedingly powerful blast of stinging wind. They crashed into the window, and Syaoran felt nothing but heavy pain on his back as their bodies broke through it, thick, clear shards of glass raining down beside them as they fell.

'The Windy card too?' he exclaimed to himself, 'Back then, it was hard enough for two of us to capture one card... how are Hiiragizawa and I supposed to...'

He allowed his thoughts to wander to more urgent issues as he noticed the asphalt rushing towards him with a ferocious impendingness. He fumbled through multiple pouches desperately searching for the Fly card, but it soon became apparent that there wasn't enough time. He closed his eyes, covered his face and began praying silently to himself.

There was a jolt, and presently Syaoran Li, prepared for death, realized he had ceased his descent. Had he hit the pavement? Was he dead?

The chinese boy dared to open his eyes and sighed in relief as he caught a glimpse of the sidewalk, no more than ten feet below him. He glanced upwards and saw Eriol, levitating solidly and holding his staff above his head, horizantally as The Windy glared down at them.

It was a face off, if there ever was one. Like a grand old American Western, where the sheriff and the villian stood back to back, and the onlookers didn't dare to breathe until one had made their move.

Syaoran held his breath, too, for he knew, whoever made the first move in this case, would most likely be the victor.

The Windy spread it's wings and Eriol twirled his staff. Syaoran wasn't a hundred percent sure who had done what first, or what exactly came of it, except that he was falling again. There was a blur of black and blue and a horrible sound like the earth ripping apart as the wind howled in fury between.

* * *

When he opened his eyes again, Syaoran saw only the vastness of stars and sky. For the second time that night, he wondered breifly if he was dead, but changed his mind when he pulled his head up to see Eriol smiling down at him. He shifted, and Eriol staggered, tightning his grasp on the smaller boy as he walked.

"Let me go." Syaoran whispered, placing a hand on the magician's chest and attempting to push himself away. "Let me go." he repeated, louder.

"I can't do that." Eriol replied softly, looking ahead at the rows of houses and trees, "You shouldn't be walking."

Syaoran glared at him defiantly and struggled with firm resolve. Eriol shrugged and let the boy go. The moment Syaoran's feet touched the sidewalk, his legs crumpled beneath him and refused to work when he tried to lift himself into a standing position. Eriol's shadow was over him, and he glowered as the taller boy slid supportive arms beneath his knees and behind his shoulders, lifting him with only the slightest effort.

"You're as stubborn as ever, Xiao Lang." Eriol grunted, betraying exactly how much physical strength he was using to lift the young Card Captor.

Syaoran didn't answer. It wasn't a question, although it was a statement that required a reply. Instead he concentrated on correcting the limpness of his legs. Were they broken? Or just stunned? Either way, why wouldn't Eriol heal him? "Hiiragizawa." Syaoran began in a curt voice, "My legs..."

Eriol cut into his question before he could finish. His voice was distant and his tone severe. "It's eleven twenty-five." he said, as if the time held some signifigance. Which it did.

"Four minutes!" Syaoran rasped, "In four minutes it will be exactly two years since Sakura..."

He gulped deepy, and noticed that Eriol had stopped walking. The chinese boy glanced around him and noticed that they were at the Kinomoto residence. Sakura's house.

Syaoran blinked, "How did we..."

"I carried you." Eriol answered quickly, "You've been out cold for the past two and a half hours. And I thought you might like to be among friends when the clock struck eleven thirty."

Syaoran stared at him blankly observant, noticing details like the unusual incresed paleness of Eriol's skin, the sweat beaded on his forehead, the ruffle in his normally silk-smooth hair and the strained look in his lavender eyes.

'He carried me... all this way....'

"You should be able to walk now." Eriol said evenly, loosing his arms and allowing Syaoran to scramble out of them hastily, but grabbing the boy's shoulder the moment he was standing. He pulled Syaoran towards him gracefully, locking his arm behind the bewildered boy's neck. Their noses were nearly touching, and Eriol smiled. "A gift for you, little wolf." he said slyly, producing a handful of cards. Syaoran grabbed them and lowered his head to examine them with a bewildered expression.

Windy. Firery. And... Watery? He glanced back up at Eriol wordlessly, but the boy simply kept smiling as if it were nothing out of the ordinary.

"As I said, Xiao Lang, you were unconcious for a long time. You missed quite a battle." And without another word, the reincarnation of Clow Reed spun, multi layered cloaks twirling with him, and began limping down the quiet sidewalk and dissapearing into the night.

Syaoran shook his head in puzzlement and started up the walk that led to the door of the Kinomoto house. Without even knocking he entered, took off his shoes, and padded his way softly to the living room.

"Syaoran!" Tomoyo was the first one to notice him, but as soon as she uttered his name, Touya, Yukito and Kero glanced up and gave him surprise looks. Miss Daidouji herself had sprung up from the coach and flung herself at Syaoran with such power that the boy's joints began aching all over again.

"Tomoyo..." he gasped.

"Syao-chan..." she sobbed into his shoulder, "Syao-chan, it's eleven twenty-nine..."

* * *

11:25pm, June 22nd, two years earlier

"Tomo! Syao-chan! Kero! Hurry up!"

Sakura skidded to a stop, bending down to tighten the buckles on her roller blades. She then placed her hands on her hips and twisted her face into a dissaproving pout. "You three are so slow!"

"I have to change the battery on my camera!" Tomoyo called from further down the street, "Kero's helping me!"

"Besides," Syaoran joined in on the long distance conversation, "You're the one on roller skates! We're all walking!"

Sakura sighed dramatically, then pouted again, realizing her sigh went unnoticed. "Okay!" she called back, "I'll just go on ahead and you guys can meet me! You know where we're going anyways!" She spun happily and rolled down the smooth road, humming a random tune to herself.

Behind her, Tomoyo fiddled with the latch on her video camera while Kero struggled to keep in the air while supporting the girl's extra battery case. Syaoran watched after Sakura worridly, "Do you guys really think it's safe for her to go alone like that at this time of night?"

"Ah, quit yer worryin'!" Kero exclaimed, gasping for breath, "Sakura's mistress of the cards, not to mention she's a big girl now. She can take care of herself just fine. Or do you need to be reminded just how many times she's pulled your fat out of the fire, clan boy."

Syaoran furrowed his brow, and continued glaring a hole into the place on the horizen where Sakura had dissapeared. He was oblivious to the grunts and commotion behind him as Tomoyo and Kero finally suceeded in changing the camera's battery. Tomoyo tapped Syaoran's shoulder, causing him to jump.

"Come on, we should catch up to Sakura! We've gotta be home by midnight."

Before they chased after her, Syaoran remembered checking his watch absentmindedly at Tomoya's mention of the time. The hands read eleven twenty nine.

And it was the last time anyone saw Sakura Kinomoto, Mistress of the Cards. Fourteen years old. Her body had never been found, and no one ever found any clues as to what exactly happened to her, but Eriol's arrival just two days later confirmed that, indeed, she was dead.

* * *

Seven hundred and thirty days later, that very minute was observed with a tense and tearful silence. When the large, european style grandfather clock began ringing eleven thirty, the residents of the Kinomoto living room took a collective breath, and Syaoran detatched the still sobbing Tomoyo from him, hobbling over to take a seat on the coach.

He noticed Touya give him the scantest of glares over the head of the cushioned chair Yukito was seated on, but ignored this. It was to be expected. The two had buried the hatchet long ago and formed somewhat a friendship of convienience, but it was no secret that Sakura's older brother still didn't care much for the Li clan descendant, nor was it a secret he placed a great deal of blame for his sister's death upon the boy's already burdened shoulders.

"Where have you been?" Tomoyo demanded, drying her eyes and sitting close to him on the couch, "We were beginning to worry!"

Syaoran raised an eyebrow at her skeptically, "And you wouldn't assume I was just out chasing a card like on any other night?"

"On some level we did..." Yukito sighed softly, "But Syaoran, this isn't just any other night."

Syaoran blushed and shrugged, reaching into the pocket where he had stored the cards Eriol had given to him. He layed them out on the table and watched with satisfaction as his audience's eyes widened abruptly.

Kero glided down onto the coffee table and inspected the cards, tapping the Firery cautiously. The card jumped, and the little guardian flew backwards. He then fluttered so that he was nose and nose with Syaoran and stared dangerously.


Syaoran sweatdropped and pushed Kero away from his face, "I didn't do this on my own... I didn't even do it."

The eyes got wider.

"The how..."

"Eriol captured them."


Syaoran jumped in shock as Ruby popped up from behind the couch, shreiking her former master's name. He landed in a rather uncomfortable position, but was yanked off the floor by the guardian, her voice still set in a near shreik, "Li, did you say ERIOL captured these cards!?"

Syaoran nodded deftly, and grabbed his forehead painfully as Ruby let him fall back into his seat.

"It's been a long time since Master has shown his face..." Spinel stated simply from his seat admist Ruby's mess of crimson hair. Everyone murmered in agreement.

"How is he?" Ruby demanded, her voice at a reasonable decible.

Syaoran paused, not quite sure how how to answer. The magician's initial words momentarily flashed through his mind: 'I think... that I am going insane...'

"Uhmmm... Eriol's... good, I guess..." his tone was transparent, and the shudder in his voice gave away just how insincere the comment was.

Ruby titled her head and narrowed her eyes, obviously sensing there was something more Syaoran meant to say, but she decided to be satisfyed with his answer.

The cards on the table jumped randomly, earning supicious glares from everyone in the room and causing the topic of covnersation to change abruptly.

"That doesn't make any sense." Spinel commented on the cards sudden movement, "Those cards aren't sealed soundly..."

"So?" Touya snorted, "No card we've sealed so far has been sealed soundly. A few of them have even escaped."

"Yes, but... Eriol sealed these ones..." Yukito gasped, catching on to what Spinel had been trying to say, "Eriol is the reincarnation, so in all respects IS, Clow himself. The cards are not yeilding to their creator."

It was quite obvious not one of the small gathering wanted to touch that unsettling thought with a ten foot pole. It was Tomoyo who change the subject once again, standing up and stretching her arms with a yawn.

"I'd better get home before Mama worries too much." she flashed a smile at Syaoran, "Are we still on for tommorow morning?"

"Mmm-Hmm." Syaoran affirmed, not looking at Tomoyo, but rather focusing intently on the rebellious elementals laid across the table.

"Ruby? Spinel? You guys coming?" The two gaurdians followed quickly after the violet haired girl, having taken up residence in her house since Eriol dissapeared without telling them where he had gone. When they had left, Syaoran began gathering up his things in preperation to head home himself, but Yukito stopped him as he headed for the hallway.

"Syaoran, wait." Syaoran turned to look the older boy in his eyes, slightly confused.

"What, Yuki-san?"

"How was Eriol... really?"

Syaoran shifted uncomfortably. Yue was once a gaurdian and close friend of Clow Reed. Just how close the two were was a matter of great speculation, but it was natural Yukito would share Yue's concearn, after all, they shared the same body, and most likely, mind and soul.

"Uhhh... not as great as I made it out to be to Ruby and Spinel."

"Well no der, Einstein." Kero drawled.

Syaoran shrugged, "I don't know, honestly... he didn't look to lively last I saw of him, but that's more likely because he had just fought and captured three cards at once and carried me a two and a half hour walk home... but..." he pasued, the hesitation causing his voice to become shaky, "Aside from that... he said he was going, uh, insane...."

Kero and Yukito glanced at each other with surprised expressions, and Touya just looked confused.

"Look, guys, I really have to be getting home." Syaoran ran down the hallway and slipped into his shoes and out the door before anyone could ask him another question.

The last thing he needed were anymore complications in his life, especially complications that had anything at all to do with Eriol Hiiragizawa.

* * *

Eriol gazed out at the city lights below him from his perch at the edge of an apartment building roof.

It probably hadn't been a wise idea coming back to Japan at such a time of the year, when he could be sure everyone would be gathered. It also probably hadn't been a very wise idea to meet with Syaoran Li, especially on the night of the Mistresses' death. And probably the least wise idea he had acted on all night had been to capture the three elemental cards and give them to the very same Syaoran Li. The sealing wasn't secure, and Eriol was almost certain that they'd break themselves free within a week.

Maybe he was trying to test his descendant and his friends, just like old times.

Eriol laughed, old times indeed.

Perhaps, it was lingering traces of his fading childhood and his love of messing around with Syaoran's adorable head.

He laughed again.

'Childhood? You've never had a childhood! You're thousands of years old, remember?'

'Ah, you, Clow Reed, my dear dear friend, brother in body and soul, but I, Eriol Hiiragizawa am indeed a child on the brink of manhood!'

"Ah, Xiao Lang..." he said aloud, "Affaliable, mournful and ever loyal Xiao Lang. Did I not tell you I was going insane? Did you believe me? And what will you tell Ruby and Spinel? My faithful family? What will you tell Kaho when she asks? What will she think of me then?"

His laughter was almost maddened giggling, but the part of him that was still clam, collected and eerily icy Eriol gained control hastily, silencing the rebellious giddyness of his father gone half.

The laughter cut off abruptly, and the magician galred down at the busy streets. Black and noisy with angry streaks of red, yellow and white painted across it's glistening canvas. He mush rather preferred the natural starlight of the sky, but it was a rare occurance in Japanese cities to see the snight sky, stars in all their twinkling glory.

He breifly thought of the veiw earlier that night, carrying the unconcious lump of boy that was Syaoran to the Kinamoto residence. The stars were visiable from Sakura's house....

Eriol shook his head, 'Foolish. Sentimental fool. You have more important matters at hand than admiring the beauty of nature.'

He sighed heavily and stood up, staff appearing in outstretched hand instantly. A bright skeletal outline of a magical rune-circle appeared beneath him, and slowly, he melted into the night.

* * *