Disclaimer : I don't own Card Captor Sakura
Author's Rambling : I originally planned to post this after I finish my newest chaptered fanfic (which, hopefully will be posted soon). But I think I need to prioritize this one-shot first because I need to apologize for my last fic. I am not saying that this one shot will suffice, but I hope it may make it up. It may be painful to read a one-shot this long, but I reallyyy hooooopeeee you read it until the very end. Thank you.
Warning : Minor adult themes (mentions of sex, alcohol, drugs, etc). Minor cross-over with Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. Perhaps slightly rebellious plot from CLAMP's TRC's concept. And I'm also making changes to the real "Red Thread of Fate" concept. I'm sure you all are familiar with this concept, but in case you're not, it's a Chinese/Japanese legend where it is believed that there is an invincible red thread interlinking two peoples' little finger/ankle. People who are linked with this thread are destined to be together (soul mates) and will someday marry each other.
Treat? : This fanfic somehow affects me in queer way that I was lulled to create a cover fanart for this one-shot. If you're interested to look at my pathetic attempt of drawing, go check: (remove the space) http:/ indisch22. deviantart. com /#/ d40vclh
Summary : [One shot][Slight crossover with Tsubasa Chronicle] The red thread ties two people who are meant to be together. But the red thread doesn't tie us together, Dear.
The Red Thread
It sounded unromantic, the way their relationship began.
It would have been much cuter if they paired up due to an undeniable attraction, or due to love-at-first-sight, or due to that angst misery-loves-company scenario. Their relationship was nothing like those and perhaps at the same time, the combination of all those things.
Circumstances were what brought them together, where one day, their classmates just thought that they would make such a lovely couple and started to develop matchmaking plan. It didn't evolve instantly but it happened eventually. It began with the rumor, the questioning gazes, the teasing, and the more-radical matchmaking (where their classmates instigated their teachers to always pair them up together in projects, or where their classmates locked them both in the classroom together for one whole night, or other 'cruel' things). Their classmates had told them the reason behind their persistent urge to pair them up:
"Because you two are meant to be together!"
To one former-world's-strongest-Sorcerer and one Daidouji (the name itself spoke its worth), such answer was too trivial.
But they were so polite (simply too polite) and perhaps were careless in their own way that they let their classmates got drowned in their little fantasy. Besides, they enjoyed each other's presence pretty well, so let all the folks gossiped the way they wanted.
To Eriol, Tomoyo was a nice company. She always knew when to open her mouth and when not to. She always knew whether he was in the mood to play the role of the perfect, smiling, straight-A student or whether he was in the mood to be a foul-mood, cynical man. The gift to understand it was something he found rare in this Tomoeda Private High School (especially with the growing membership of his fans club). So, in the end, he kind of appreciated the way their classmates made sure the corner library section was reserved for the two of them only.
Tomoyo found Eriol's presence to be surprisingly pleasant. She wanted to describe him in flowery words or in rich description (and if it went on, she would say him as a contradiction, even in his existence: He was very gentle, but rather cruel at the same time. He was probably one of the most intelligent guys she had ever met, but on the other hand, he was prone to idiocy, et cetera). But in the end, she supposed that she came to one conclusion: that he was simply someone she did not mind spending her time with.
"They said we are soul mates because are both too similar," he commented lazily as intertwining his finger with the soft curls of her raven hair. They were by themselves in the Student Body Office. She was reading the Descartes' book he recommended, while he was busy determining whether she had changed her choice of shampoo or not. "If that's the case, then they should just pair Syaoran to Nakuru's hamster instead. Look at their similarities. Awkward in almost every situation."
Tomoyo casually flicked her hair off his finger and put down the book. He was in the mood for a talk, she knew. And although she could easily ignore him, but she admitted that reading philosophy didn't interest her that much at that point. "One cannot be other's soul mate because he already had one. And besides, Sakura and Syaoran are similar in some ways. It's not always the 'opposite-attracts' principle, is it?"
"Of course. Although people with opposite personalities tend to have more visible red thread, but those who have similarities have their own red thread too. Yuko-san also resembled Clow Reed in some way, but my dear Daidouji, no other pair resembled each other the way we do. We both are too…perfect," he finished, without any hint of arrogance. She knew it, because to people like her (and him), perfection was not something to be proud of.
"Please do not make an impression as if we are a real pair here," she pointed out. "You and I both know that the closest we could get is to be godparents of Sakura's and Syaoran's kids."
"Or to be active sexual partners, if only you allow it."
She gave him a sweet-saccharine smile. "My dear Hiiragizawa-san…that will only happen when you make me drunk enough."
"And you always know how to wound my heart. Soul mates don't do that, you know."
"And you know that we are never one to begin with," she chuckled.
He smiled and slowly entangled his finger between her hair again.
They graduated and went to college. She took business as the major and he chose law. With the absence of classmates who were obsessed with matchmaking, there existed distance between the two dark haired people. It was a good thing that they shared the same hobby of reading. Although their different classes and activities schedules prevented them for a more frequent meeting, Thursday afternoon was reserved for their book discussion, continued to a Thursday night drinking galore.
It had puzzled him at first, because Daidouji Tomoyo didn't look like one who was cut for drinking. But he soon proved himself wrong as that heiress could drink way better than any other guy he knew. Between them, she won their drinking game most of the time. In his defense, well, she didn't combine it with pot smoking like he did.
She drank even more wildly that night.
The four years of knowing her (technically, he knew her since they were 11. But he went to London and only returned back to Tomeoda when they were 16) gave him insight of what had happened. He knew she developed the drinking habit due to her Mother's death two years prior. However, other reason was what confirmed her presence there in the pub that night. Besides, the Card Captor herself told her just a couple hours earlier.
Eriol sighed. "It's not like you haven't expected it sooner, Daidouji-san."
Tomoyo didn't reply and only played with her empty glass.
"And I thought you have accepted it well," he continued, despite his personal belief that there was no way she could accept it well. He knew the girl would probably be forever (or at least for a long time) hurt, but he just didn't know what else to say.
"I am one disgusting girl," Tomoyo spoke in a drunken slur. "One that falls in love with her own cousin."
"Hey, loving Sakura doesn't make you a disgusting person. Because I certainly am not one," he tried to lighten up her mood. Inside, he knew that it was no use. The news of Sakura and Syaoran's engagement was something that anybody would expect to happen but something that one darling couldn't accept well. Eriol knew how deep her love was to Sakura and that even when it killed her, Tomoyo would forever wanted Sakura's happiness. But any heart-broken girl would always react the way Tomoyo did.
And any comrade of a heart-broken girl would always be left to feel helpless. He was one who could smoothly do the sweet talk. And if he wanted, he could tell Daidouji all those motivational, encouraging words. But since this was Daidouji Tomoyo he was talking to, he knew that sweet, empty talks wouldn't matter. Eriol just tried his best to avoid wasting himself.
So he just sat there beside her in the bar. Drinking his own cognac whilst still trying to be sober enough to make sure the drunken Tomoyo didn't do anything stupid. His perverted, equally drunken mind suggested how nice it would be if Tomoyo was drunken enough to do a little strip dance. But his rational mind told him to act like a gentleman in front of her (he is a gentleman, but he just didn't always be one in front of her) at that time.
"You can see the future, can't you?" Tomoyo questioned out of the blue. "Then tell me, will they live happily ever after? Will they love each other until deaths do their parts?"
"I am no fortune-teller, dear Daidouji-san."
"But you're the Sorcerer."
Her tone was sharp, but her bluntness was ignored. "I cannot see the future, Daidouji-san. But I can see what others can't see."
"And that is?"
He subconsciously glanced at his own fingers. "Their red thread, I told you this countless times. They are soul mates. Fate destined them to be together and nothing can separate their bond. Not a powerful heiress, not even a Sorcerer's reincarnation."
Tomoyo turned defensive upon hearing that statement. "I am not trying to cut that bond."
"I know you won't, Dear. I'm just re-emphasizing the truth that your heart never seems to accept."
"I w-want them to be happy… I love Sakura-chan and her happiness is my happiness. A-and I care for Syaoran-kun a lot. I honestly want them to be happy but I – I…"
The tears finally cascaded down from her violet eyes.
Eriol only took another sip of his drink.
Sakura Kinomoto officially became the wife of Syaoran Li on her 21st birthday. The wedding feast was nothing too extravagant; it was only a private garden party under the showering Cherry Blossom petals. But to both auburn-haired couple, ceremonial thing never mattered much and anybody could agree upon seeing the happy, loving looks they gave to each other.
Being a very perspective girl, Tomoyo could see it even faster than anyone. To begin with, she was perhaps the first to realize their love in the fifth grade.
It had been 10 years.
She would lie to herself if she said that it didn't sting her. The raven-haired girl was on the state where even the strongest alcohol couldn't numb her sense, where even her pretty face couldn't uphold her mask. Tomoyo cried in front of Sakura on that wedding day. She hated herself for it (and she genuinely thought that she was much tougher than this) but she couldn't stop the flowing tears. She just…simply couldn't.
Sakura dragged her to the shadowy corner under the Sakura tree, wiped her tears, hugged her, and told her, "Even now that I am married, even that I'm moving to Hong Kong, nothing will ever change our friendship, Tomoyo-chan. Not this wedding, not even Syaoran. You will always, always be my important person and I love you very much."
But Tomoyo knew the truth. She would never be the first or second or even the third to Sakura. And she could already imagined as how Sakura's new life unfolded, as how Sakura would be gifted with cute children, that Tomoyo would soon only be another sweet, memorable thing from Tomoeda. She knew it. She knew it from the very beginning.
She honestly still felt like crying until there were no tears left, but her heart told her to be strong and to be the altruistic Daidouji Tomoyo once again. So she took a deep breath and did the hardest thing she had ever done in her 20 years of life: letting Sakura go.
The emerald-eyed lady smiled, laid one kiss on her cousin's cheek, before she took her leave and walked back to her husband.
Tomoyo stared at the other girl's back sadly and told herself that it was the last time that she could ever dream a red thread existed between her and Sakura.
"…When the road looks rough ahead…And you're miles and miles from your nice warm bed…Just remember what your old pal said…Boy, you've got a friend in me…"
His deep voice truly sounded painful to her ears. And knowing him, Tomoyo didn't know whether the lyric was meant to soothe her soul or to cynically put salt to her heart wound. "Hiiragizawa, stop singing, please."
"It's a good song, Daidouji. You've Got a Friend in Me. Randy Newman, 1995. Soundtrack to my favorite animated movie too."
She smiled, one that still managed to look beautiful even when her eyes shone unhidden cynics. "Unfortunately you're not a good singer. Don't disgrace the song anymore than you already did."
Eriol chuckled. "But I could be a good friend. I could even be your new best friend."
"Nobody could ever be my new best friend. Sakura is irreplaceable and I never intend to replace her. Moreover with people like you, Hiiragizawa."
"Will you ever learn not to waste that pretty mouth of yours, Daidouji?"
"I will save my pretty mouth to someone more sincere. And you are certainly not one."
He laughed, even when she found nothing funny out of it. But trust Hiiragizawa with his queer sense of humor –it wasn't like she could complain much.
"We will see who will laugh at the end, Daidouji. I'll make sure to stay long enough to watch you regret your opinion about me."
Tomoyo bitterly thought that she would not. She supposed that in the end, perhaps until the end of her life, she would not be able to feel happiness. She would probably just die alone and people would leave her. Just like her mother. Just like Sakura.
"They will all just come and go…" she muttered to herself. "Just like you. You will eventually go too."
There was a dark chuckle. He drunkenly laughed and shook his head, "Dear Tomoyo…someday you will realize that the only one staying up with you until the very end is only this humble, old me."
Tomoyo knew that his words were something that he spoke only between the haziness of the alcohol. He probably couldn't remember how to operate his car at the moment, much less the words he had just said to her. "I don't believe you."
"Then, start to," he murmured in a slur.
She watched the drunken, sweet-mouth guy from the corner of her eyes and she sighed.
In such a lonely future, Tomoyo couldn't help how nice it would be if he truly kept his words.
Even when it was Hiiragizawa of all people…yes… it would still be nice.
For the next couple of years, somehow, he kept his words.
Tomoyo supposed that it was that quality of him that made him…trustable of some sort. It took years, but in cumulative results, she began to believe him.
She doubted, though, he remembered ever saying those words. But the fact that he was there and remained there made her silently grateful. It wasn't that he could replace Sakura. He was simply being the wrong guy in the right time and place. It wasn't that she used him for comfort (because his presence sometimes agitated her) but the fact that he was there was simply enough. Even when they were not dating, or befriending, or even when he was dating other girls, for simply still being a part of her life, she was grateful.
"Thank you," she told him. She was moving out from the Daidouji manor to her own apartment that she rented from her part-time job. It was a small, nice apartment that she intended to buy once she graduated college. Eriol was the one helping with the moving out.
"No problem. It's not as if you have heavy stuffs to carry anyway."
"Not just for this moving out thing," she smiled. "Thank you for being there for me."
Eriol realized what she meant (although perhaps she said it in the most unlikely place and time), about the bond that had been slowly created throughout their companionship these years. The raven haired girl didn't need a friend, she just needed a reassurance. Her loved ones had left her. Although he was positive he wasn't categorized as 'her loved ones', but coincidentally (couldn't blame that they went to the same college together, couldn't blame the fact that they met at least once a week in a silent drinking contest), he was the only one there. He knew that if his position was exchanged by Yamazaki or Rika or any other of their old mates, she would say the same word to them.
Eriol, however, was pretty glad himself that it was him that fate chose to coincidentally put beside her all these times.
She was not the only one having issues and needing a trash bin. He had his own problems as well and he was simply too embarrassed to share them with Spinel Sun or Ruby Moon. They understood him very well, but at the same time, they also idolized him. As shallow as he was, he didn't want them to know the weak side of him.
Daidouji Tomoyo never idolized him. Daidouji Tomoyo never thought of him as someone great. Plus she was a great drinking buddy and it was only the matter of time before she became his own trash bin –the person whom he threw out every of his darkest thoughts and darkest secrets.
So he supposed, an equal gratitude was in order.
"No. Thank you, Daidouji-san."
She looked sincerely puzzled. "What for?"
The indigo-eyed guy grinned and just ruffled her usually neat hair.
When it finally happened, neither was too shocked, and neither considered it important enough.
They were walking together to their each respective home after another Thursday night drinking session –the first one that they had since they graduated from college. The night air felt refreshingly cool, the vacant street was just so tranquil, the street lights were playing eerie shadows of them, and the moment just felt… good.
5 minutes' walk away from her apartment, Eriol grabbed her wrist and kissed her.
She kissed him back.
Both completely knew that this had nothing to do with feeling or even chemistry. It was only about a good moment, and perhaps only happened due to the heavy infuse of alcohol.
"I am never this drunk," she commented once they broke the kiss for air.
"Bullshit. You look sober enough," he murmured and kissed her again before she could come up with another debate.
She pulled her head away and gave another point, "You do remember that you're still someone else's boyfriend, don't you?"
"It doesn't matter. I have already planned to break up with her soon anyway."
"I'm not going to be your next girlfriend, you know."
He rolled his eyes. "Hey, don't exaggerate. Who ask you to be one?"
She smiled sweetly. "Thank goodness you don't."
They didn't call it friendship, because friends did not try to outsmart the others. And perhaps mostly, because friends did not use each other.
Eriol's voice sounded hollow when he spoke. "She looked so fucking calm, so fucking happy when she greeted me. Her arm was linked with him and she couldn't even properly hide that big engagement ring around her finger…"
Tomoyo calmly watched the man who hovered above her as his hands lustfully grazed her thighs, as his eyes desperately screamed for help. She wondered whether this was how depressed she looked like when she found out about Sakura's engagement. That time, that painful time, she had used alcohol to blind her senses. Alcohol and marijuana didn't work well on him though. Tomoyo presumed that maybe because he was Clow's reincarnation and his history with Mizuki Kaho was longer than her history with Sakura that he needed more distraction than mere drink and drugs.
Sex was the answer.
She knew he did it occasionally with his previous ex girl friends, but she could imagine how he never went this angry, this hurt, this emotional whenever he did sex with those girls.
It wasn't as if Tomoyo considered herself to be special. No, that was not the case. He was only wounded, he was only scared, and he only greatly needed something to numb his senses. Plus point was that she was the only girl (besides Nakuru –but he just couldn't have sex with the genderless creature – and obviously besides Kaho –who was being the object of his frustration) who knew his heart's darkest secret. He could fuck her and let out all those angry emotion. It definitely was not something special, but it was something he needed the most at that time.
After their first kiss that they shared a year ago, there was nothing much changed between them other than the more frequent physical contact and sexual contact.
To other people, it might look exceptional, that they were definitely more than friends.
They were not friends. They were not a couple.
They were only something less, and sometimes, something more than all of those labels.
Eriol's visits to her apartment became more frequent, or at least, as frequent as he could manage during his heavy workloads as a new associate in a law firm. He came to talk, he came to have sex, he came to avoid the loud Ruby in his manor, he came to taste her pasta, and sometimes he came just out of habit. There were times when he came and just sat in her living room to work on his laptop, while she equally, silently just worked on her tasks given as the newbie.
Eriol supposed he liked her apartment very much (and he had often bribed her to sell it to him instead –to which she always declined), but above that, he just enjoyed her company. He wouldn't call her his best friend or his lover. No matter how many people told him (and her) how much they were in denial, they would just smile in almost synchronic motion and shrugged it off. They knew the facts, they knew their feelings. It didn't matter what the others thought.
"She is enjoying her honeymoon in Germany now," Eriol told Tomoyo, referring about his former lover. He stalked Mizuki Kaho much, especially after the pain of her wedding. He leaned on the heiress' lap and told her to play with his hair, because he loved the feeling of her cool fingers on his scalp. The nightingale obliged only because she knew he wouldn't stop nagging her to do so if she didn't. Besides, she always owed it to him –the way that he stayed by her side post Sakura's engagement. And sometimes, to talk about his pain helped her to ease her own pain. Tomoyo might not think of Sakura as much as she had done couple years backward. Perhaps it was due to her busy life, perhaps it was a healed heart, or perhaps it was time. Any other way, Eriol contributed in it.
Her finger continued to feel his smooth hair. "Marriage won't sever real soul mate ties, will it? You told me that the one in the end of Kaho's red thread is you. Not that I wish her divorce, but at least, you both are soul mates," she sighed and couldn't help to erase the image of Sakura that suddenly appeared. "You two will be together again eventually."
Eriol flashed a sad smile and only pulled her down for another chaste kiss. "Unfortunately, that's not always the way it works, dear."
Tomoyo frowned. "Why not? You are her soul mate, aren't you?"
The dark-haired guy stole a secret glance to his fingers –a glance that the Daidouji managed to catch. "There was once the red thread between Kaho and I. But I cut it."
There came silence and he didn't blame her.
"Why?" she resumed finally.
"What Kaho wanted was not a destined bonding. What she wanted was reality."
"Why would people want to avoid happiness?" Tomoyo questioned. She would do anything to have her own red thread. She couldn't understand people who didn't want it.
"Her happiness is not your happiness, Daidouji. What she wants is not what you want, and unfortunately I can't give her what she wants. So I have to do it. I have to sever the red thread between us. Only for her to find and tie her own red thread to the person she really wants to."
"You can…tie it back if you want to."
"It was already cut. I have lost my red thread. There is no turning back."
He looked frustrated and she could sense self-loathing when she saw one. Her hands carefully massaged his temples and she questioned silently. "Do you regret cutting that red thread?"
Eriol chuckled sinisterly and Tomoyo already knew the answer.
"Well, at least I'm not the only one who doesn't own the red thread," his finger traced her palm as he slowly got up from her lap. "Not that I want to be happy over your sadness. But in the end, misery loves company," he said.
It was Tomoyo's turn to glance at her fingers. "Do you really see no red thread linked to my finger? Or do you only like to be more superior than me?"
He grabbed her finger and kissed it. "I'm always honest to you, you know that. It's not there, Tomoyo."
She sighed. "I'm really not meant to taste my own happiness, am I?"
"Don't be so pessimistic. People can still live happily without soul mates. And not owning it doesn't mean that you will never get marry, dear. A woman as beautiful as you would tie the knot someday, perhaps to an old, masochistic guy who had this fetish of–"
Tomoyo playfully slapped him. "You are a forever bastard, Hiiragizawa-san."
He only smiled before leaning back to her lap again. "And if this can make you feel more secure, if until you're old and you turn ugly there is still no one who wants to marry you, I will always be the reluctant candidate."
The amethyst-eyed woman widened her eyes slightly before the honest gratitude rolled out of her mouth.
"Thank you. That means a lot."
One morning, he was staying over in her apartment. He was snuggling close to her on her bed when he saw it:
The faint red thread around her finger.
He blinked to make sure. He touched the red thread that only his eyes could see to make sure it was real.
It was faint and fragile, and it could possibly snap if he used force (if he cut it just like years ago when he did it to Kaho).
But it was there.
Instinctively, he raised his own hand to look at his own fingers.
He found no red thread around his finger.
And it puzzled him how troubled it made him feel.
Eriol was always good in seeing red thread. When he saw one, there was no way he could be mistaken. He had seen it between him and Kaho once, he had seen it between Sakura and Syaoran, Yamazaki and Chiharu, Rika and Terada, Yukito and Touya, Fujitaka and Nadeshiko.
He saw the red thread now, linking Tomoyo's finger with that man's finger.
His name was Kurogane, a tall, begrudging-looking guy with one of the strongest heart he had ever seen. He met Tomoyo in one fateful afternoon in the Tsukimine Shrine. He looked tough, but was actually easy to tease (although anybody was easy to tease when faced with one Daidouji Tomoyo). He was feared by many (something about his old past as a blood-thirsty ex-yakuza) but one woman could see deeper than all those rough surfaces.
One woman, the woman who was destined to be his soul mate.
"I coincidentally ran into Kurogane-san again this morning. He immediately cringed at the sight of me, perhaps it has something to do with that ghost story I told him in our last meeting," said Tomoyo when she and Eriol had lunch together in one of the classy restaurant in Tomoeda.
Eriol took a sip of his white wine. He suddenly felt the urge to savor stronger alcohol. "There is no such thing as coincidence, Daidouji-san. What is there, is only fate."
She chuckled. "Fate?"
He thought that it was too late for everything now. That at least, Daidouji Tomoyo deserved to know. He felt like he couldn't hide it any longer –or else he might vomit –, although he knew that perhaps he would forever do a terrible mistake if he told her now.
But the inquiring violet eyes looked up at him and he knew he had no choice.
"That guy is your soul mate."
She slowly put down the fork she was holding. "What?"
"Kurogane. There is a red thread intertwining you and him," he drank his wine and cast another smile. "You really should go out with him. He doesn't seem like the type who will initiate the relationship. You need to be more aggressive to court him."
"W-wait, Hiiragizawa-san. Y-you just told me that I had…a soulmate?"
"Congratulation. You will get that happiness you've always dreamed of. I also suggest that –"
"But…what about us?"
Eriol felt like something was gripping his chest all so sudden. It agitated him, but he knew he had a situation to control. "There's never 'us' to begin with, Daidouji-san. We're just…partners for benefit."
He refused to see her eyes and at the same time, she was grateful for that decision.
"You think I should go out with him?" Tomoyo questioned slowly.
"It's not about what I think. It's what fate destines," he smiled. "Although I have to admit that I will miss our sessions together. Couldn't do anything that would make Kurogane think that you and I are more than what we actually are."
He caught the disoriented look on her face. "Hey, this is what you want. You should look happier about it."
Eriol might be good in putting on his masks, but sometimes he forgot that the girl in front of her was another pro.
With a grin that reached her eyes, Tomoyo nodded, "Of course."
Once two people were destined to be together, there was no need to push it.
Like how the river flowed, like how Syaoran fell in love with Sakura, like how what it was supposed to be, Tomoyo's relationship with Kurogane took a steady yet promising turn. Kurogane was bashful (or in denial) in their relationship most of the time, but Tomoyo always knew how to react. He opened up to her and soon, anybody could see that she was his everything: his master (after all, who could deny one Daidouji Tomoyo?), his savior, his best friend, and his lover.
There was awkwardness at first, but Tomoyo thought that she began to see what Eriol meant. It was really easy to bond up with people destined to be with her. She felt he was someone irreplaceable, someone she held dear, someone she cherished, someone she cared about more than most things…
…She thought that maybe, she was falling in love with him.
Most people didn't really approve her relationship with Kurogane, simply because they all thought that she was born to be with Hiiragizawa. But those people couldn't see the red thread. Hiiragizawa could. And perhaps…more than anything, she trusted Eriol the most.
It had been awkward to be partially away from Eriol (as much as he denied it, yes, he was still a big part of her life and vice versa). It was not that they cut all the connections. Truth be told, he kept his promise and remained there. Aside the sexual activities and heated physical contacts, everything remained the same. They still hung out a lot, they still talked about the darkest and silliest things, they still laughed together, they still remained what they had been for the last 10 years.
She was glad he stayed.
2 years and 7 months since she began her relationship with Kurogane, he finally proposed.
Tomoyo answered 'yes' and she genuinely thought that for the first time, she was gifted again with happiness.
Time flew afterwards as they only had 3 months to prepare the wedding. At such time, Hiiragizawa Eriol could be such a dear. Sakura had once said that a girl didn't need a wedding planner if she had Daidouji Tomoyo as a best friend. Tomoyo supposed that saying should go to Eriol. He was a very supportive friend (with fortunately good fashion sense to make her finally decide on which wedding gown to buy) who helped her with the catering, the building reservation, the guest list, the decoration, the wedding cake, et cetera.
"You must be a girl once, Hiiragizawa Eriol," she told him jokingly. "A guy wouldn't want to do all these things."
He snorted. "I am once a very powerful wizard who could make you go bald in a flick of finger, Daidouji. Careful with what you're saying. You surely don't want to look ugly on your wedding day."
"Alright, alright," the heiress laughed. "But thank you."
"What? You're grateful of the possibility looking like a bald bride?"
Tomoyo smiled. "No, seriously, Eriol…thank you. For everything. For every single thing."
He exhaled a long sigh and stared at the girl before he spoke again, "…You are welcome, Tomoyo."
Days passed even faster, and before she knew it, she would get married the day after, just in the next couple of hours.
Tomoyo knew that sleeping late on the night before her wedding was a fatal mistake. The eye concealer product she owned would hopefully do the magic, but she couldn't risk anything. Sadly, her eyes just couldn't flutter close. Perhaps it was what every bride-to-be experienced: the jitters, the excitement, the unease –
She couldn't understand herself for thinking that way. Meeting and marrying her own soul mate –it had been her dream for a long time. Ever since Eriol explained to her the red thread concept, ever since the pain (perhaps it was envy) of Sakura and Syaoran relationship, this was what she kept wishing for. She was not going to be an ungrateful bitch after those years of waiting, but she might turn into one if she kept thinking about it. That was the last thing she wanted Kurogane to see her as.
She gave up trying to sleep, walked out of her room, and went to the kitchen to make some warm milk. She turned on the light on her apartment's living room and almost had a heart attack upon seeing the figure.
"Eriol! What are you doing here at such hour? Why are you –" she paused upon studying his feature. He was a pale man, but that moment, he looked ghostly, ethereal, almost like he was not the creature from this world. She let out a concerned sigh and touched his arm. "Are you alright? Are you sick?"
He shook his head and she wasn't sure whether he meant he wasn't sick or he wasn't alright. She admitted that this was yet another enigmatic side of him. She realized that 10 years of knowing him more since their high school would never truly unveil the secrets he carried since he was reincarnated (God knew how long). Tomoyo wouldn't claim that she knew the part of him prior to their meeting, but she supposed (hoped) that his personality after their meeting wouldn't be such a foreign thing.
Right then, looking at him that way, it was foreign yet somehow familiar at the same time.
She didn't know him.
But he still had her full trust.
The clear blue eyes slowly shifted their gazes to her and she flinched at the turmoil of emotions the eyes portrayed. "Tomoyo…"
He just needed to look at her and that moment everything was puzzlingly blurry and clear at the same time.
There was no naming of their feeling, of their relationship. They didn't know the boundaries between love or trust or friendship or hatred or manipulation or other status. He was the way he was and just as she was.
But that was the moment she realized everything.
And the same moment when she understood her fate.
He looked at the woman's eyes, the woman whom he learned to care about a lot, the woman he wanted to hold and kiss, the woman he would want to be with every single day in his life...
If he could be a selfish man just for once, he knew what he wanted to wish for.
"Tomoyo… don't –"
The words died on his tongue.
It wasn't that he didn't know her feeling or his own feeling. Tomoyo was hard to read, but he could read her when he wanted to. And they might share the same wish…
…but the world was not about their wishes, their silly feelings.
World was about what was destined to be.
He didn't need to be the reincarnation of the world's once strongest sorcerer to understand this principle well.
Reluctantly, he turned away from her and walked to her door. "I'm sorry having to disturb you at such hour. You should go get your sleep. Your wedding –"
"I believe you, you know," her voice broke the hollowness of the room and echoed in the darkest corner of his heart. "Anything you say, how absurd it is, I will believe you."
"Even when it is against the world, even when it's against fate…if it's your words, I will believe it."
Her voice was strong and calm, but a drop of silent tear fell from her violet eyes.
He sighed, equally as frustrated. "What do you want me to say, damnit?" he snapped. Eriol knew it was never his place to snap at Tomoyo, to be angry at her. He couldn't loathe destiny, he couldn't loathe the world, but that fucking destiny just hated him. He felt like he had enough with fate playing with him. "He is your soul mate! He is the one you are born to love your entire life! He will be the one making you happy, he will be the only one in your heart! He is the one at the end of your red thread –"
"I wouldn't mind cutting my own red thread if you want me to."
There was honest determination in her voice and he was lulled to say it, to request it, to go against the destiny –just once…
…but he couldn't do it.
They couldn't do it.
"I'm sorry," he murmured and walked out of her door. "But what I believe is that red thread."
She stared at the closed door for hours, until morning came, until Sakura came to help her with the wedding preparation. Sakura immediately noticed the look on Tomoyo's eyes, but before the jade-eyed girl could express her concern, her soon-to-be-married cousin flashed her a smile.
Sakura was forever clueless, but she always knew not to press on a subject someone didn't want to talk about.
Eriol didn't show up in her wedding.
Her violet eyes were closed momentarily as Kurogane spoke his solemn vow.
"What I believe is that red thread."
Tomoyo believed in Eriol.
So she would believe what he believed.
"Tomoyo Daioduji, do you take Kurogane as your lawfully wedded husband?"
She opened her eyes.
Tomoyo supposed she could never regret believing in Eriol's words.
For the following years, her marriage with Kurogane was probably the most fortunate thing that ever occurred in her life. There was never one as loyal, as dedicated to her the way her husband did. Their marriage life had been awkward at first (and perhaps until now), but Kurogane's stiff antic was something that Tomoyo learned to accept and to soon love. He respected her very much and didn't even initiate sex until the 6th month of their marriage.
Tomoyo began her new life and quickly adapted herself in it. She locked away the painful memories and treasured a happier one. Admittedly, there wasn't much in her past that she could really treasure (because anything happy turned bitter in the end for her), but Kurogane helped her fill her days with happiness. She thought she would never be able to heal her heart wound, but Kurogane was more patient than anyone. Sometimes, she wondered whether she could ever repay her husband's kindness. Fortunately, her opportunity came. When she gave birth to the twin boy and girl, Tomoyo felt satisfied and proud because finally she could see Kurogane's eyes shimmered in happiness…and gratitude.
She felt the hours of labor worth it. The pain was worth to see the wrinkle around his eyes that he made when he grinned, it worth the loud crying of her newborn babies, it worth her tears, it worth everything.
"Thank you," Kurogane whispered to her as he kissed her slightly sweaty forehead. "Thank you very much."
Tomoyo smiled. "You are welcome, Kurogane. You are very welcome."
Her marriage life had been more colorful since the birth of their twin babies.
The heiress quitted her job in the and decided to dedicate her life as a mother (besides, her stocks in the still could fulfill her family need…and so much more) because it was the least she could do to Kurogane, to her new family. They named their baby girl 'Aoi' and their baby boy 'Itsuki'. The babies grew up too fast –or perhaps that was only the insight of a children-complex mother she was. Aoi and Itsuki both resembled her very much, Kurogane and the others had said. Tomoyo gazed up both her children in pride. Without sounding too narcistic (after all, they all said how much her kids look like her), her children were truly beautiful, cute creature, with naivety that would turn into cleaver mischievousness –if they really inherited her personality.
Her life was perfect and soon people started to believe that perhaps Kurogane was really the one meant to be with Tomoyo.
Soon people forgot one beautiful, dark-haired magician –whose whereabouts were hard to be tracked down until now. It wasn't that he vanished from the society (or world) that way. True, he had been quite a traveler himself, but Tomoyo still frequently received e-mail from him. Eriol told her about his life, how he was in the self-journey not to waste any moment in life. His words were poetic and beautiful in the e-mail, but knowing him, Tomoyo could tell that he was probably only venturing from one red light district in one country to another one in a different country.
She was glad he sounded well. She thought that perhaps living that way was probably the best for him. He was the poor man who was trapped inside destiny, trapped inside the life someone inherited to him. Being free, being one Hiiragizawa Eriol and not the reincarnation of Clow Reed was probably the right path. Sure, he might get the bad reputation as the infamous Casanova. But he seemed tranquil in his own way, he seemed happy.
For her, that was all that mattered.
She wouldn't forgive herself if she was the only one leading a happy life.
But his letters stopped eventually. Soon, what she knew about him was only what other people in Tomoeda knew –only rumors, only whispers in the air. She was never the primary source of information again, and she thought that maybe he considered her to be just another insignificant folks from Tomoeda.
She could, if she wanted to, track him down easily. Sorcerer or not, Daidouji bodyguards (who were always in stand-by mode all the time) could easily hunt him down throughout the end of the world. Or easier, she could even ask Sakura to find his whereabouts. Tomoyo, however, didn't do any of those. She believed that there was reason behind his disappearance. It was nothing dramatic like he was caught by a mafia in Italy or resting ill in one of a cottage in Auckland. He disappeared because he wanted to be. He didn't want her to find him out.
She hoped that it was the proof that he had finally found his own peace. Perhaps she was too full of herself, but sometimes she felt that she was the one holding him back. Tomoyo detested it, because she cared a lot about Eriol and she wanted him to be free. He promised to be by her side years ago. But for the sake of him, she wanted that promise to be broken.
When he broke the promise (or when she wished he did), a part of her felt relief.
There was a sudden empty, cold gap.
But on top of everything, on top of that gap, she wished for his freedom.
And perhaps for her own freedom.
Time flowed without mercy.
Tomoyo was forever in pride upon watching her two kids grow. She enjoyed the life of being a normal wife and mother. She took pride in letting her kids off in the first day of the elementary school life, she continued to support her husband's business in its downfall and upraise (Kurogane strictly refused her financial help though), she tried to be Aoi's best girl friend and Itsuki's eternal ally, she dedicated her life for her family.
She kept her family intact; she protected her family while still giving them freedom. She was once a perfect daughter, a perfect friend, a perfect companion –it was not difficult for her to be the perfect wife to Kurogane and the perfect mother to her children.
Her family smiled a lot (save Kurogane) and in return, they made her smile equally just as lot.
The cycle went on for years. But there was only one fine afternoon when the perfect smile trembled.
"Good afternoon, Tomoyo."
The heiress could not believe what her eyes saw. Every inch of Hiiragizawa Eriol still resembled the image that was buried deep inside her memory, but to actually see him again surprised her a lot. It had been more than 15 years since she last saw him on the night before her wedding day. She had never expected that he would come to her life again.
His smirk was present. "You don't look happy to see me."
The violet-eyed lady blinked before saying the truth. "You know it's never the case. It's just… you. You're here. After 15 years… How am I supposed to react?"
Eriol's smile was the mixture of hollowness and warmth. For the umpteenth time, she thought of him as the most contradictive man she had ever known.
"Well, I won't be able to stay for long anyway." He shrugged. "I am just in the neighborhood and I thought that I should see you."
"Oh." She smiled uneasily. "Well, you see me now."
He chuckled. "We've never really been this awkward before."
"Yes. We weren't." She mirrored his action and just shrugged. "Come inside, Eriol. I'll make you tea and –"
"Thank you, but there's no need to. I'll be going soon anyway. I just…wanted to see how you're doing. That's…all."
If she thought that years had enveloped her heart with newborn strength, she supposed that she was wrong. Tomoyo dared herself to ask the question, "Are you happy, Eriol?'
The guy only smiled and questioned back. "Are you?"
If any other people asked her that question, she could answer without doubt. She could just remember her perfect family and her perfect life and she would proudly say the affirmative.
She didn't know why it wasn't the case with Eriol.
"…I am happy," she slowly answered.
"Then so am I."
Tomoyo watched him and she felt like she saw the image of herself years ago.
And her heart broke. Her heart broke because she knew how it felt.
"Liar…" she murmured.
Eriol only smiled and held her hands. "Hey, you still believe me, don't you?"
Even when she knew the truth behind it, even if the world disagreed, she knew she could never lose faith on him.
Slowly, brokenly, Tomoyo nodded.
"And that's all you need to believe," he murmured as he slowly laid a soft kiss on her hand. "Good bye, Tomoyo."
He let go of her hands and turned around.
He heard her sobs broke, but he resumed his walk away.
Her kids turned to be adults she was proud of, Kurogane remained Kurogane (someone she was forever grateful of), and her life was content and happy. Her life was perfect. There were times when she cried for unknown reasons, but whenever she did that, she remembered a certain bespectacled man and tried to strengthen herself.
It was her faith to him that kept her sane.
After years and years of oblivious living, Tomoyo finally found out about the tumor in Kurogane's brain.
Her husband had been hiding the fact from her and their children for years. She thought she knew Kurogane in and out. But even she had to admit that in the end, nothing could work fully according to her will.
"You are mad at me," spoke Kurogane weakly when his wife came to visit his hospital room. There was only her in the room. Aoi and Itsuki were out to talk with the doctors, but apparently, the hospital room became their new home then.
Tomoyo stared at her husband for a long time before replying, "Of course I am. You hide such thing from me and –"
"It's the best I can do," his coarse voice cut her. "I want to protect our family."
"By not letting us know?" Tomoyo's voice raised an octave. "You seriously think you're protecting your family that way?"
"…I am sorry. I just want us…to live as normal as we can. I don't want you all to treat me like an ill person. I just wish for what I think is the best. I'm sorry if it doesn't turn out that way in the end."
Tears prickled on her eyes. Perhaps happiness was truly short-lived. She owned 30 years of happiness, which was a long time. But she wanted more. She wanted a happy ever after. She wanted them all to be happy until the end of their lives. She couldn't imagine that it had to stop in one of their ends of life. "If you are sorry then live, Kurogane. Please. For Aoi and Itsuki. For me. For yourself…"
His big hand weakly ruffled her dark hair that hadn't yet turned grayish despite her age. "I will try. But even if I fail to, you go chase your own happiness, promise me."
"My happiness is when I have my family. My happiness is when you live."
Kurogane chuckled. "Of course. But you can even be happy without destiny."
She realized what he was trying to imply. In anger, she told him, "I love you, you know. You still don't believe me for that?"
"I know," he sighed. "But love takes many forms. I've never doubted your love and your loyalty to me. And for that, I forever thank you."
"Call our kids," he told her. And she flinched because she knew what this meant. Whenever he went on a business trip, the two persons he always bid the last farewell was his kids. Whenever he went away, Aoi and Itsuki were always the last he whispered his words to.
Her tears fell uncontrollably and she hugged him for a long, long time, before she walked out to call her twins.
Kurogane died at the age of 59, only a couple of weeks from his birthday, leaving his son, his daughter, his wife.
Tomoyo stared at her husband's tomb and slowly shifted her gaze to her fingers.
Her red thread.
She clenched her hand slowly and held it dear to her chest.
Her kids stayed with her most of the times, but Tomoyo always hated to be a burden. One day, a year or two after Kurogane's death, she told her children to live their lives.
Both Aoi and Itsuki had insisted that she was never a burden; that they loved being with her. But as much as she wanted to be with them too, she knew she would be too selfish if she insisted to do so. And above all people, she just never wanted to be selfish to her own children. Aoi had been delaying her fiancée's proposal for more than 3 years, and Itsuki had also been rejecting the promotion his boss had offered him. Tomoyo knew that she was keeping them away from their dreams, and she hated herself each day for that.
Her kids refused at first, as she expected. Stubbornness truly ran in blood. But even without a young age, Tomoyo was still the master of all persuading. In the end, she managed to let go and to make them let her go.
"Promise us you will be happy," spoke the twins.
Sometimes she did not understand why people kept pestering her to be happy. To her, happiness was never an absolute concept and she could say that generally, yes, she was happy.
But for the sake of her kids, Tomoyo would save the debate for herself and she assured them, "I will."
Several spring passed.
The 63-year-old lady walked below the showering Sakura petals and she remembered her cousin, her first love. It had been a year since Kinomoto Sakura passed away and her heart still wept for the loss. But years and pain and countless loss had made Tomoyo stronger. She learned that world would never go the way she wanted it to, but she could always just cherish what life had given her. Her loved ones had left her one by one. Some by deaths, some by fate, one by marriage, another one by dream.
She remained there.
Perhaps destiny decided it was her role.
To be the one left staying. To be the one who remembered.
Tomoyo didn't hate her fate. Fate had given her life an upside-down turn, but she was happy, she was content. There was nothing more she could ask from life.
When he appeared before her again, she was not too surprised.
It wasn't that she expected his presence or anything. Truth be told, she took his 'goodbye' years ago to be serious. Tomoyo never thought that she would meet him ever again. Despite that reasoning though, she still did not express any aghast. There were too many things that had surprised her, thus his presence (albeit more than 25 years since she last saw him), didn't startle her that much. She supposed she had passed the age where a mere guy's existence could flutter her heart. Her time for fairytale and destined romance had ended. What was left for her was just mild curiosity and well-trained politeness.
"Long time no see, Eriol."
The man smiled his usual smile and seated himself beside her. Tomoeda Park was pretty vacant that day –just like it had been for the past 5 or 10 years. He could actually choose any other bench for both of their comfort, but he chose to sit next to her. "It's been a while eh, Tomoyo?"
Unlike the last time they saw each other, their conversation flowed smoother. Regardless of their lost times and years, awkwardness was not present. Tomoyo found it funny how time seemed to reverse it all back to what they were supposed to be. He had once been (and probably still was) her dear friend. They enjoyed the cool afternoon reminiscing their youth, reminiscing what they had been, and what they were.
She found out how he had spent his years since she had last seen him (although it was not a new knowledge). Eriol travelled a lot; visiting perhaps almost all cities and towns in the world (save one –his own hometown). He never got married, but he adopted a son to inherit his fortune, his name, and his remaining magic. She told him that she somehow was not surprised with all these stories. In an unintentional exchange, he equally told her how he also had already guessed the way she had lived her life.
"Predictable much?" she questioned when he expressed his lack of surprise.
He smiled and answered in neither the affirmative nor the negative. "Your life just goes according to destiny."
"Is it a bad thing?"
"No," Eriol shook his head slowly. "Not really."
They avoided the grim subject and talked about other things instead. Time flew rather fast. The sun was setting up and they decided it was time to leave the park. He helped her stand up and walked her home, like the perfect gentleman he always was. The dark-haired man and woman finally arrived at her house. It was a small yet comfortable home –one that didn't really speak the grandness of her real wealth.
"I apologize for not coming sooner," he said as he opened her house's door for her. "Had I known that you had sent your twins away, I would have come earlier."
"Why would you?"
"To keep my promise."
"To be the one that stays with you until the very end."
"Someday you will realize that the only one staying up with you until the very end is only this humble, old me."
There had been things that her younger self would cherish, things that she could only wish she had. But her heart and soul were tired, and they wanted nothing more than just mere serenity.
Tomoyo gazed at the man before her eyes and exhaled a sigh. "We are not young, Eriol. What do you expect?"
"My dear Tomoyo, it's not as if I'm asking you to do it the conventional way. What? You expect me to kneel and propose you?"
His cynicism remained within him after all these years. She did not know whether to relish it or not. But in the end, she just offered him a warm smile and spoke, "Would you like to have a cup of tea inside, Eriol? I will make it especially for you."
He returned the smile. "You know I can never say no to that."
In the end, life just worked out in the funny way.
Once, in her mid twenties, she had envisioned spending her old time with Eriol. Tomoyo just did not think that this would be the way it turned out to be.
After their reunion, he moved to a small house next to her house. They shared perhaps most of their times together: they jogged together in the morning, they had breakfast, lunch, and dinner together, and they even went to the market or library together. Some new neighbors had expressed their envies of how romantic the old couple was and how they wished they could spend their old time like them. Almost like in the past, like when they were still in high school, Eriol and Tomoyo just reacted with polite smiles. Rumors just passed by and did not disrupt their tranquility. They both knew their relationships, they both knew their boundaries.
Eriol was not trying to be her husband; as such role would forever be Kurogane's. And despite how welcoming Tomoyo's kids were to him, Eriol never intended to replace the role of their father. Being a father to his own foster son, he understood perfectly well that such roles were never to be substituted.
He stayed, even when it was not part of his role, just to fulfill his promise.
Perhaps it was just justification on his part.
Eriol thought that sometimes, his aging life gave him less wisdom and more recklessness. Like that time, it was way past dinner time (normally, he should have been back to his own house), but he chose to accompany her in her little inquiry of star-gazing from her house's porch. The night breeze was slightly colder that night. He covered her thin body with a warm blanket and offered her the hot tea before he got back to his position next to her chair.
"You don't have to stay, you know," Tomoyo suddenly muttered.
Her statement was meant to tell him to go back to his own home, but he took it in a farther context. "I choose to stay. I promised," he replied calmly, firmly.
She took a deep breath. "Then you don't have to fulfill the promise. Don't let an insignificant, childish promise ruins your –"
"It's the only thing that keeps me sane, all these years," he interrupted. "That promise. It's the only thing that makes me feel like my life is worth it."
Tomoyo gazed up at him for a long time and smiled sadly. She was afraid she had wasted her late's husband life, she was afraid she had wasted her children' times, but most of all, she was afraid she would forever be in debt to this bespectacled man. She needed him, yes. But she wished to set him free too.
"…You're not the person at the end of my red thread," she finally said the words that had been choking her throat for the past 6 months since he moved next to her house.
His answer was still as clear, as honest. "I don't need the red thread to keep my promise."
She felt like a hand was offered to her, but the ground was crumbling below her. There was contradiction in his words, in him. She felt like he was showing her the way, yet on the other hand, he was the same person who made her lost in the first place. "That's not the way it works. You believe in that red thread. You made me believe in that red thread. And there is no, there is never, the red thread between us. We are not –"
"Then I'll tie it," Eriol cut her words.
"Something I had been too afraid to do back then. But if you need it, I can tie up our red threads together for you."
"You're a liar."
"Don't you believe me?"
She hoped he was acting. She hoped he was lying, because truth could hurt her more. She wasn't scared of going against destiny, or time, or fate, or whatever. But she was scared in how much she always, always trusted him.
How she always believed him.
Their souls were old and soon memories would probably leave them so. And there was so many to pick up, so many fragments of stories, so many things to rebuild. She didn't know whether she would go against her husband and her kids' wishes or not. She didn't know whether she loved Hiiragizawa Erol or not. She wasn't even sure whether Eriol truly loved her or did his heart simply only yearn for something he once couldn't acquire. She didn't know whether this was happiness or this would just lead to an endless destruction.
But her faith in him exceeded everything: her future, her past, her dream, her fate, her red thread…
In the end, the answer she gave him could not differ from what she had stated years and years prior.
"Even when it is against the world, even when it's against fate…if it's your words, I will believe it."
Because the Red Thread only intertwined those who believed it.
Finished: January 13, 2011. 3 58 PM
Edited : March 13, 2011. 11. 28 PM
2nd edit: June 8, 2011. 5.32 PM.
Author Notes :
Thank you for reading until the very end! Oh my, this has to be the longest one shot I've ever done. 19 (yes, NINETEEN) pages long in Microsoft Word.
To a certain someone, the names of Tomoyo's kids aren't entirely coincidental, you know. Sorry for not asking your permission, I was hoping this could be a surprise. ^-^ Thank you for all your help and patience in beta-ing my last story!
To all who read this one-shot… thank you very much. This one shot is special to me somehow. I have written plenty of ET fanfics, but truthfully this is perhaps the first time when I personally can feel their...connection. Is it love? Is it something less? Is it something more? I'll leave it to you to decide on your own preference. I was a little afraid to portray Eriol and Tomoyo as old people, but now I don't regret it (although perhaps some of you disagree). Oh my, I really, really hope that Eriol and Tomoyo will be together in the end.
I'm going to post my newest chaptered fanfic soon. I'm back to my usual comedy-romance genre, hope you are willing to read it out!