Oh., it's been a while since I've updated this. Ahahaha. Ha ha. But I do plan on finishing it someday and, wow, I was totally hit by inspiration a few hours ago! I've been recieving a lot of reviews from people asking me to continue lately, but what actually spurred me to sit down and pump out a chapter tonight was prodding from my dear friend Caily who is perhaps the first and biggest fan of this story. XD

Hopefully, this chapter is worth the wait (UNLIKELY, HAHAHA). It's a whopping 4971 words and contains resolution to this current story arc plus the long awaited confrontation between Eriol and Syaoran gaspu. This chapter finally ups the raiting from PG13 to R (yay), and I can't help but feel it's a little OOC considering I haven't touched this thing for over a year (WHOOPS).

Either way, I hope you all enjoy this! And I hope I won't take another two years to update!

Izzy Girl

XV Se languir, ébouli par duex yuex, seble un plaisir et n'est que torment

Syaoran was tired.

Not just physically, although that was part of it. He'd spent the night tossing and turning, haunted by all the things he didn't want to think about.

What Syaoran tired of was the battle. The battle with the cards, the battle with Clow's legacy, the battle with himself. He was a warrior- a valiant knight in search of honor, but with no Kingdom and no Queen to protect was there really any reason to continue fighting?

"You listenin' to me, Li? Because I get the feeling everything I just said went in one ear and out the other."

Syaoran sighed and nodded, burshing his wet bangs out of his eyes. The storm was showing no sign of clearing, and he could hardly see where Tomoyo stood in the center of the abandoned street, Mirror card by her side a perfect reflection.

"Hiiragizawa said he could buy you about three minutes, so you have to seal the card fast." Kero's voice boomed above the rain as he paced behind Syaoran, looking no less dignified with his golden fur dripping wet and his feathered wings ruffled.

Syaoran pressed his eyes shut and tried to still his breathing. Hiiragizawa was the last thing he wanted to think about when he was trying to concentrate. Unfortunately, all he could see against the blackness was Eriol's kohl gaze. Pale skin, midnight hair, the soft rustling of silk in the moonlight.

'I loved Sakura' Syaoran reminded himself firmly, 'Sakura was the love of my life. She was my soul mate and even in death no one will take her place. No one. Especially not him.' That's why he did it, afterall. Syaoran acknowledged, dully, that over half his life had been dictated by actions taken for the love of Sakura. There was no way he could betray her memory by turning to Hiiragizawa again.

'Am I really that lonely?' he wondered bitterly, disgusted at the way he shuddered everytime Eriol brushed by him in the hall, or gently laid a hand upon his shoulder.

"There you go, zoning out again. Dammnit, Syaoran, what the hell are you thinking about?"

Syaoran raised his shoulders defensively, 'You don't want to know.' he answered silently, fixing his gaze once again upon Tomoyo and her card. She turned her head slightly and met his gaze through the strom, dark eyes calm and calculating. Ruby stood at her side, looking unsure but ready to protect her should anything go awry.

"I'm ready." Syaoran stated firmly, striking a stance and drawing his sword. Kero sauntered to his side, exceedingly calm considering the situation and said:

"Well, kid, if you think-" whatever else he was about to say was cut out by the harsh howl of the wind changing direction and Ruby shouting: "Here it comes!" as she flung herself in front of Tomoyo's slender frame.

Syaoran was nearly flung backwards, but Kero's prescence at his back kept him from toppling over completely. He gathered himself quickly with a sharp inhale of breath and began scanning the dark sky for any sign of the sprite-like card spirit.

"How do you fight the wind," he muttered, sheilding his eyes.

"You ride it!" Kero shouted back, nuzzling his head into Syaoran's arm whilst simultaneously giving him a sour expression, "Jump on!"

Syaoran didn't think twice about the offer. Clumsily, he grabbed two handful's of the Guardian's fur (much to Kero;s chargin) and hoisted himself over his back. The take off was awkward and the wind made it difficult to hold on without yanking Kero's fur, but within half a minute they were hurtling through the sky.

"Don't you dare drop me!" Syaoran yelled, face almost pressed into Kero's fur for protection.

"Wouldn't dream of it!" and the Guardian almost laughed, "Keep your eyes peeled!"

Syaoran bit his lip and attempted to pull himself into an upright position. Most of his concentration was divided between remaining alive and keeping a grip on his sword whilst doing so. The sky was a whirling mass of gray and jagged, distant lightning. He was looking for a pale shadow against the clouds- he'd seen Sakura call upon the Storm card's power before, but it all seemed so far in the past now.

'Okay, Syaoran. Remember you mother's lessons. Channel the elements, channel your chakra and see with your soul, not your eyes.' green, white, blue on gray and a surge of natural energy to the- "It's there!" he shouted, yanking urgently on Kero's neck fur, "Left, left! It's to the left!"

Kero growled deep in the back of his throat and mumered something that sounded suspiciously like: "Hold on, kid." before dipping into a not-so-graceful barrel roll U-turn. Syaoran couldn't help but exclaim: "What the hell do you think you're-" before he was hit hard in the side by a rather malicious gust of wind. Without really registering what had happened, his grip loosened and he felt himself fall.


There was a lot of inexplicable pain in his side and he could hear Kero screaming his name above the wind. His sword dived uselessly towards the earth and all around him was a vortex-void of sound, water and wind and somehow, suddenly, it didn't matter.

'Ow,' his brain registered, 'That shouldn't have hurt that much.'

Syaoran Li.

He blinked once and then snapped back to attention, immediately doubling over from the intense throbbing in his side.

Doubling over... standing up... wait.

Syaoran's eyes widened as he realized that, no, he was not on the ground and no, he was not falling either but rather he was floating, mid-air impossible face to face with a rather displeased looking Storm Card. 'Where's my sword?' he thought, but all he managed to say was: "Yes, that's my name."

The card scoffed and it's glowing hair danced, That was a nasty trick you played with the Mirror Card and Clow's Shadow.

Syaoran frowned, "It was a nasty trick you played putting the entire city out of comission for a week."

Don't condescend to me, Syaoran Li, when none of you know the situation. Especially not you. Not when all of this is your fault?

Well, that one was new, "My fault?" he repeated incredelously, "How could any of this possibly be my fault?"

You are ignorant of the situation. If you knew the truth, you would not fault us.

"Right now I don't care about fault." Syaoran hissed, "I'm going to seal you."

The card raised one eyebrow and aquired a mischevious sort of smirk Syaoran hadn't even known the cards capable of, And what makes you think you have the right to seal me?

"I am the descendant of Clow." Syaoran replied simply, "You need no other reason to yeild to me."

Clow's blood means nothing now. You of all people should know that.

"I was the close companion of your master, Sakura Kinomoto!" Syaoran shouted in frustration, "And I seal you by the light of the Kinimoto star, with the blood of Clow!"

Not good enough, I'm afraid. the card swayed closer and reached out to press two cool fingers to Syaoran's cheek, However, I am one of the faithful cards. Perhaps not to any human master, but I listen always to the wise words of the light and dark ones. They have told us that the time is coming soon and I choose to listen to them. the card's finger's tipped his head back until he could faintly see the clouds clearing above the turbulance. The first hints of sunlight in ten days, Say the words, Syaoran Li, and I will surrender.

Syaoran was feeling dizzy again, but he mouthed the words: "By the light of the Kinomoto star, I seal-"

When he opened his eyes, there was so much sunlight he had to close them again. When his eyes finally adjusted to the light, he opened them again to see Tomoyo, Ruby and a stuffed Kero staring down, varying degrees of concern on their faces.

"You have all the dumb luck in the world." Kero shook his head in something between mocking disgust and quiet approval.

"That one was almost approaching unsalvagable." Ruby agreed with a slight nod.

Tomoyo smiled and brushed her hair behind her ears, "What did she say to you?" she asked quietly, pointing to the card clenched between Syaoran's thumb and forefinger. Slowly, Syaoran lifted it to examine the inticrite designs framing a now familiar face. He narrowed his eyes.

"She... she said," a pause and he lowered the card, "She said that it was all my fault."

Syaoran stared absently at his ceiling, fingers nervously working along the edging and seams of his sheets. The night closed in around him and all he could hear were the Storm card's words echoing in the back of him mind again and again. His fault? Sakura was the magician, not him. He'd only been the loyal sidekick, standing on the sidelines uselessly as Sakura... as Sakura...

... how could she have possibly failed? That was what the card had been implying, surely. That there had been a fault in Sakura's methods, something lacking in her technique. But how could that... how did that...

'Sakura's dead' Syaoran assured himself, 'And that's that. But... could her death have been influenced by... could it have been because of...'

He cut himself off before the thought could finish forming. Those were dark, unecessary thoughts. Clow's magic was good. Syaoran knew that much- his mother made sure he had known the tenants and rules of Clow's magic inside and out and if he knew anything, he knew that Clow was a good man who only thought of and made good things.

'Although,' he noted bitterly, 'That hardly explains what's going on now. It doesn't explain Clow's anger or Eriol's madness. Or Eriol in general, really.'

Eriol who hadn't bothered to show his face since the battle. There should have been a rattling of the doorknob, the sound of the mage pacing. Things were too silent and Syaoran didn't know what he would do if the idiot had gotten himself killed (which would, these days, be a rather characteristic thing for him to do).

'I'm worried only because...' he told himself resolutely, 'I do not trust him.' he closed his eyes finally, but didn't stop listening.

His mother had always stressed meditation as being one of the most important aspects of magical discipline. Syaoran was the last person to admit he wasn't very good at it, but he knew that if he were in a true trance, he would not have been disturbed by the slight rustling of air above his face.

His eyes snapped open and he found himself staring into two wide, silver eyes, clear and crisp beneath tilted glasses.

"Hii-Hiiragizawa?" he stuttered.

Eriol was sitting on the edge of his bed, wearing the same neutral expression he always did when dealing with Syaoran these days. His cloaks were a deep blue trimmed only in gold, chinese lining (when had he had the time to change?). He was wearing no hat and took his glasses off for a moment to polish them on his sleeve.

Syaoran sat up, "Where the hell were you?"

Eriol didn't even look at him, "It is very uncharacteristic of you to be so concerned, Li-kun. My doings are none of your business."

The chinese boy grimaced and moved forwards, suddenly very determined to have the mage look at him, "You must have been hurt in that battle. What, you think you're too good to even bother checking in on us after something like that?" Eriol was impassive, "Where the hell were you?" Syaoran repeated, voice dipping down into a dangerous, impatient tone.

Eriol shrugged nochalantly and placed his glasses back on the bridge of his nose, "I had some... business to attend to." That's when Syaoran noticed the slash down the side of his tunic, obscured by the darkness, with reddened skin beneath it.

"You're hurt." Syaoran's voice was anything but concerned. Oh no, he was unimpressed bordering on angry.

Once again, Eriol shrugged and stood, turning only the barest of glances in Syaoran's direction. "I only wanted you to know that I was her. I'll be going to bed."

Syaoran was about to yell, about to do something irrational. He really was, but something about the picture caused Syaoran's heart to stop and, for a moment, everything was magnifyed and intensified to eternity. Eriol's cloak swayed like dark water and his pale skin was illuminated by the faintest glimmer of moonlight. He was wrapped in shadows, a sad and solitary figure with gray, sinking eyes like dying rose petals. He looked like a phantom in the night, so suited to his midnight element and tragic and romantic in every way. Syaoran didn't know why, but all of a sudden he loved everything about this strange, sad creature.

Or perhaps love wasn't the correct terminology for what Syaoran was feeling. He WANTED everything about Eriol with that sort of all-consuming desire characteristic of lonliness and repressed emotions. Not so many emotions towards Eriol himself, as Syaoran had spent a lifetime repressing. What the mage had said that night in Clow manor was true- Syaoran wanted something to satiate his feelings, those gaping holes in his imperfect personality and he didn't seem to particularily care who or what it was. But oh, he would be happy if Eriol- beautiful, delicate, dark and complicated Eriol would be the one to try to satisfy his pathetic needs.

And if this was what an epiphany was like, Syaoran sure as hell never wanted to experience another one. When he looked at Sakura that day and realized that he loved everything about her it was something quiet and deep rooted. Painfully unrequited, of course, but oh- he felt like he was floating and flying and eating all manner of sweet candy when he realized that all he wanted for the rest of his life was to see her smile and hear her voice singing in his ears.

This was anything but sweet surrender. Syaoran wanted to kiss Eriol in the dark right now and never turn the lights on.

'What are you doing, Xiao Lang?' the rational part of his brian pordded as he moved, as slow as his daze would allow, 'You'll regret this. Maybe not tonight and maybe not tommorow, but someday you'll regret this.'

Nevertheless, he moved his hand to catch Eriol's wrist and with the barely audible whisper (no more than an exhale) of someone about to admit their own insecurities and weaknesses to someone they once considered an enemy, he said: "Hiiragizawa, wait."

And Eriol stopped. The grip on his wrist was hardly firm, but it was persistant. He spun slowly and blinked at Syaoran, his expression caught somewhere between bemusment and confusion.

"Li-kun, what..."

"Please, Hiiragizawa... just... wait..."

They stared at each other in the darkness and Syaoran bit his lip and held on tighter. He could feel the rational part of his mind pounding a symphony of protest against the wall of his brain, but for once he didn't care. Body and soul on autopilot, anything to make him forg-

Eriol sighed and leaned forwards, bringing with him those shadows and dark angles and wrapping them around Syaoran as well. He nudged one finger beneath the chinese boy's chin and tipped it upwards, studying his face for a few moments.

"Say it." he commanded softly.

Syaoran bristled and turned his face slightly, "You're very cruel, Hiiragizawa." he considered the request a moment, but, "No."

Eriol pulled his wrist from Syaoran's weak grip and moved his hand down the boy's face, tracing careful, delicate patterns along his neck, "Please, Xiao Lang, it's very important to me."

Syaoran shook his head and Eriol settled himself on the edge of the bed, tenatively pressing himself against Syaoran's ridgid body. His hands danced lower, touching and teasing but not really making any sort of physical commitment. They stopped at his stomach before ghosting their way up his spine. Syaoran shivered and Eriol brought one hand up to cup the other boy's cheek, then kissed his neck, murmuring heavily into his ear: "E-r-i-o-l. My name is not Hiiragizawa, Xiao Lang, just as you are not Li-kun." he chuckled throatily, "I will have you say it."

He leaned Syaoran back into the matress, the two of them all tangled up in Eriol cloaks and the sheets around them. Syaoran was trembling and Eriol's hands and lips found far too many sensitive spots; too many places to prod and stroke until Syaoran's breathing grew heavy and laboured and he was flushed and he was hating this but he asked for it, oh he asked for it..

Eriol laughed into his collarbone. "This is what you want, isn't it? A physical substitution for the emotional void? Why aren't you fighting back, Little Wolf? Is thisyou really want me?" He dropped kisses and light nibbles along Syaoran's neck and shoulders. The buttons on the nightshirt came undone easily (too easily), and Eriol was granted full reign over Syaoran's exposed chest and stomach with his mouth- lips, tounge and teeth. Syaoran's body rose and fell noticably with each breath and his eyes were wide open, staring above listlessly, arms limp at either side. Eriol slid down further, his hands firm at Syaoran's hips, fingers dipping beneath the loose seams of his pants and it wasn't quite there, but it was close enough and-

- Syaoran gasped and suddenly, came to life.

With a feral growl, he threw Eriol off of him and easily pinned the mage against the bed. He hovered above Eriol angrily, his hair all tussled, his shirt hanging open and his pants pushed down just enough that they revealed the curve of his hipbones. "I'll call you whatever the hell I want to call you." he hissed.

Eriol smirked and placed on pale hand (cool and soft as silk) on the small of Syaoran's chest, "Now I know why I call you Little Wolf. You certainly look the part at times."

"Stop it with the fucking control issues. I am so sick of your mind games."

"Look who's speaking." Eriol retorted hopelessly, "Considering our current position, I would hardly say I am the one with control issues."

Syaoran growled, something animal and instictive in him having been released, and grabbed the mage's wrists violently. Eriol winced slightly as his long, graceful arms were folded up behind his head in such a way that he could tell that Syaoran meant for them to stay there.

"Xiao Lang, what do you think..." Eriol words were cut off as Syaoran dived forwards, pressing their mouths together in a hard, rough kiss that forced his tounge past the mage's lips. It was like a strange dance of sorts, but Syaoran was not being careful. He pushed forwards so hungrily that Eriol could feel his lips bruise. He moaned slightly beneath the pressure, and Syaoran grinned into his mouth.

Syaoran broke the kiss hastily and went about removing Eriol's tunic with vigor. He ripped at the clasp, breaking the delicate metal, and ripped away the navy blue fabric until every inch of Eriol's beautiful, pale shoulders were exposed. He then paused, taking a moment to trace a long, torturous trail of kisses and sharp nibbles from the mage's collar bone to his naval. For a split second of hesitation, considered going lower but instead worked his way back up, the light kisses becoming deeper and the nibbles deepining into something akin to bites.

And Eriol twisted and moaned and was miserable below him and oh, Syaoran delighted in it.

"Aie... now, now Xiao Lang. You're hurting me."

"Shut up." Syaoran mumbled into his skin, releasing his arms, but pressing down on his shoulders so that the arms remained pinned. He stradled Eriol's body heavily and dug his fingernails into the mage's upper arms as he concentrated on tracing the exposed veins beneath the jugular. Eriol shifted and Syaoran just dug his nails in deeper, watching the various shades of pain flicker across the mage's face with a sick sense of accomplishment.

'If Sakura were alive, she would hate me.' a voice nagged.

'If Sakura were alive,' he answered himself silently, 'I wouldn't be here in the first place.'

"Li Xiao Lang," Eriol hissed through gritted teeth, "What, exactly, sort of game are you playing at?"

"Your game," Syaoran answered.

"If I were still Clow, I would have put you in your place by now."

"It's that kind of attitude that absolutely pisses me off about you in the first place, Hiiragizawa."

Eriol's eyes went uncharacteristically wild for a moment and he pulled away from Syaoran's grasp violently, his flesh tearing beneath Syaoran's fingernails as he did so. Eriol grunted quietly and Syaoran fell back into a sitting position, staring blankly at the blood. The mage quickly began to redo his cloak- or what was left of it- wincing as he shrugged it over the wounded shoulder.

Both were breathing raggedly.

The silence was oppresive and Syaoran felt as if were being crushed, but Eriol didn't move from the edge of the bed, even when he was finished buttoning his tunic. "I... I'm sorry, Hiiragizawa. I..." Syaoran tried quietly, but the words sounded insincere in his mouth, and so very bitter that he wanted to spit them out after he said them. He wasn't sorry. He really, really wasn't.

"Xiao Lang." Eriol began slowly, his voice more serious than Syaoran had heard it in quite a while. There was a barely contained tremble in his undertone that was grave and so dangerous that it sent chills down Syaoran's spine. It reminded him of... of Clow, "I want to explain something very important to you, because it seems as if I haven't made myself clear." his back was turned, but the anger in his manner was still apparent from the way his shoulders rose and fell and the fact that he was clenching the bedsheets between his long fingers so tightly that his knuckles were turning white, "I am... very fond of you, Li Xiao Lang. I don't know when this happened or exactly how to explain it, but I do know one important thing. This is not another one of Clow's ridiculous infatuations. I, Eriol Hiiragizawa, desire you." he paused and sucked in a deep breath. His voice was small when he began again, "That... happens to be special to me."

Syaoran watched Eriol's back thoughtfully and soaked in the words, not really thinking about them, just listening. The words were important, but they flew past him without meaning or substance. He looked at his hands and noticed that the blood was beginning to dry beneath his fingernails.

"I cannot help that I have a desire to be close to you, Xiao Lang, and trust me, if I had a choice right now I would be as far away from you as possible because..." he stopped and turned his head, brow furrowed thicky and eyes gleaming madly beneath his glasses. His voice dropped and gained conviction, "This is just shameful. I already told you that I would leave you alone unless your feelings had changed. But this isn't what I meant, Xiao Lang... this... this is emotional rape."

Those last few words hit Syaoran like a punch in the stomach and he jumped to the defense "This is emotional rape, Hiiragizawa?" and he laughed, it was so ridiculous he couldn't believe Eriol had said it, "What about that night in the manor? Was that emotional rape as well?"

Eriol scoffed, "That was entirely different. You're---"

"Oh, I see." Syaoran narrowed his eyes and leaned forwards, his voice raising with his temper, "Well, that's convinient, isn't it? We always play this game by your rules, Hiiragizawa, but I don't think I even care anymore. Afterall... it's not like you even have a soul."

Eriol's eyes widened and he stuttered, "W-what?"

Syaoran jabbed Eriol in the chest, "Ever since you expelled Clow from your body, you've been nothing but an empty shell playing at being human. You think you're in love and you think that you want to help us, but in reality you're just another one of Clow's puppets. Worth even less because the only thing that keeps your body going is the lingering traces of the old man's magic." the chinese boy chuckled coarsely, "You're nothing."

The slap was so sudden Syaoran nearly tumbled off the bed. He regained his balance quickly and made a fist to punch back, but Eriol caught his wrist a little too roughly and bent his arm backwards. Syaoran didn't vocalize the pain, but he winced and clenched his teeth and turned his face away when Eriol tried meet his gaze,

"You simply do not understand, do you?" the mage said slowly, voice firm but barely audible, "You have been through so much and somehow, you do not understand. I can hardly believe that I have wasted so much time and energy on an incompetent fool like you."

"Words won't work this time, Hiiragizawa." Syaoran growled, "I know all your tricks, I won't get caught in the web again."

Eriol twisted Syaoran's arm a little further and squeezed his wrist until the bones ached, "Listen to yourself, Xiao Lang! Just stop talking and stop moving and listen for once in you bloody, godcursed life!" Syaoran glowered and tried to fight the agony bleeding into his expression. Eriol continued, his manner almost calm, "You fight and you fight and you fight, and whenever you see a chance for peace or solace, you find some reason to turn away and distrust. Most of the time, you cause it to turn away from you before you even have a chance to reject it."

Syaoran's expression became incredelous, "Are you trying to imply that you're some sort of solace for me?"

"I'm quite the opposite, apparently. Actually, I was referring to your friends and your family. I was referring to all the options presented to you in order to make your life bearable since the Mistress' disapperance, and yet you've chosen to walk the futile warrior's path, fighting and dwelling until it's whittled you down and eaten away at you and here you are, a bitter and angry person chasing the empty memory of a princess's ghost." "Well, it's a damn good thing I kept fighting, considering the situation we've gotten ourselves into!"

"That is not what I am trying to say!" Eriol snapped.

"Then just say what you want to say and get it over with!" Syaoran realized that he was yelling now, but he didn't care. Didn't care because Eriol was probably speaking the truth and he was so damn calm about it and one of them needed to be yelling.

"What I am trying to say, Xiao Lang, is that you have distanced yourself from everyone who has ever cared about you. They stand by you out of duty, but when is the last time you've ever asked for help? Tomoyo-san and the Guardians; your own beloved cousin, Meiling. And let's not forget, of course, Sakura."

Syaoran's eyes went wide and glassy at the mention of the former Mistress's name, "What are you talking about." he muttered, "Sakura died."

Eriol blinked, "Right. And you are incapable of letting go."

Syaoran's face set into icy fury once again, "And why the hell should I? I loved her!"

"And she loved you, so do you really believe that this is what she would have wanted? For you to have become this? All hollowed out by sorrow and silent rage. Trying to say that it is for her sake?"

"Who cares." Syaoran snorted, "That's bit irrelevant. She's gone so it doesn't really matter." the words come out so easily and he regrets them immediately because it does matter but he could never admit that Eriol was right. Never.

Eriol's grip on Syaoran's wrist loosened and his face fell. He shook his head slowly, "You are honestly the most pathetic person I have ever met in all my lives."

"Yeah." Syaoran retorted dully, "But you're in love with me, so who's truly pathetic?"

Eriol dropped Syaoran's arm listlessly and turned, rising and crossing the length of the bedroom towards the door. Syaoran rubbed his arm gently-

- and suddenly, without warning, felt himself snap.

Perhaps it was the sight of Eriol's blood on his fingers, or the new ache in his arm, or the memory of Sakura's ghost once again dancing out his dreams and nightmares in the back, front and middle of his subconcious mind. Whatever it was, his old scars began to burn and he felt dizzy and hot and cold all at once. Somewhere deep inside, something broke and he began to cry. He fought it every step of the way because if there was one thing his mother ever taught him above all else, it was that a warrior of the Li clan did not cry, and especially did not cry in the prescence of another and on top of that, especially, especially did not cry in front of an equal or, worse, a superior. But, before he knew what was happening the tears were burning at the edges of his eyes and dry, broken sobs wracked his body. He collapsed face first into his bed and hit his pillow trying to fight out and smother the tears before they could manifest themselves, but he only succeeded in producing a loud choke that made it seem rather like he was dying.

He shuddered and sniffled and tried his very best not to cry for what seemed like an eternity, but was more likely ten minutes, until he couldn't breathe anymore and he shot up, gasping for breath and sobbing louder. When he opened his damp, itchy eyes he saw, to his horror, that Eriol was standing over him with an understanding, but none the less condescending gaze. He froze, body still shaking with repressed tears, afraid that Eriol would hit him again. Or afraid that he would laugh. Or afraid that he would just walk away and say nothing, but he wasn't sure which of these would be the worst.

Instead, Eriol dipped down gracefully and sat along the ridge of the bed. He gently wrapped an arm around Syaoran's shoulder and forced him to lie down, gathering the boy up in his lap. He rested one pale hand in Syaoran's hair and murmered: "Shameful, Xiao Lang. What would your mother think?"