It happened when Sakura was in class. The announcement on the intercom rang clear and loud throughout the university. It called all the students in the Sciences building down to the seminar hall. Looking around, she saw that her classmates were as confused as she was. The professor said nothing, but only called cleanup on the lab they were currently working on.
Taking off her lab coat and goggles, Sakura shook her hair free from the tight elastic that had been holding it back. Cleaning up her station and washing off all instruments, she grabbed her phone and joined some of the girls she knew, to walk down to the seminar hall. Whispering to each other, wondering what it was all about, they entered the vast room to see other students already filing in. A professor that Sakura was not familiar with was standing on top of the podium.
As soon as all the students were in, he cleared his throat. His voice was raspy with emotion.
"Today, we have unfortunate news," he muttered, straightening his tie. Sakura was all the way in the back, and she could not even see all the way to the front. She contended herself with merely listening to the voice. "It is in my immense sorrow to tell you this. However, I feel that all of you have a right to know. Last night, 22 year old Akira Tomogaki was found to have killed herself."
There was a gasp, and some girls were leaving the hall, overcome by sobs. Clearly, people that knew this girl were already informed of the situation. Sakura furrowed her eyebrows. She had no idea who this girl was, having never even heard her name before. She tuned back, when she heard the professor's voice talking again.
"If you have any information, or questions, please feel free to come up and talk to us. You may now go back to your lectures."
As people started walking out, some talking in hushed voices, some being led out by others with wet eyes. Sakura turned around and walked out, the world around her quiet. She didn't hear the sound of running footsteps around her, or the people that brushed past her and muttered a quick apology. Akira Tomogaki must have been a pretty depressed person. Sakura wondered this, and then wondered what had gone through the girl's head before she had decided to do it.
Sakura was a cheerful girl, always striving to see the light in everything. It was hard to believe, for someone like Sakura, that there were people that had just given up hope, especially so early on in life. She struggled to try and see from Akira's perspective, to 'walk a mile in her shoes' as her father would have said. But no matter how hard she thought, she couldn't see what reasons the girl could possibly have had.
Sakura then thought about Akira's family, and her friends. What would they be thinking right now? She hadn't even known the girl and this news was already impacting her. What did those that did know her go through? Biting her lip, and looking out of the window in the hallway, Sakura couldn't help thinking that this Akira must have been a fairly selfish person, to cause such misery to those she left behind, in order to carry out something so utterly useless.
Shaking her head and feeling horrible for thinking like that, Sakura closed her eyes. The sun was shining through, and she could feel its warm rays hitting her cheeks. She prayed for Akira's family, her friends, her teachers, and all the boys that may have had an interest in her. Opening her eyes and blinking in the bright light, Sakura smiled faintly to herself. She hoped she would never be driven to the point where the only way out would be suicide. Her brother had constantly reminded her that she always had people that loved her to talk to.
"Maybe Akira just wasn't trusting those that loved her." She whispered to herself. That thought, in itself, was much more miserable than the fact that Akira Tomogaki would no longer smile at anyone anymore.
Hungrily stuffing her mouth with food, Sakura didn't even bother to look at Tomoyo when she joined her at the lunch table. Swallowing hurriedly and washing it down with Pepsi, Sakura grinned at her best friend. Tomoyo sighed.
"You eat so much but manage to stay to petite," Sakura smacked her lips and patted her stomach. "Did you hear about Tomogaki-san? She was in your department right?" Sakura's happy expression faded, replaced by one of wonder.
"Yeah. I heard," She said, wiping her mouth on a paper towel. "I never knew her. Heck, I hadn't even seen her before. Ever. But I feel like, maybe if I had known her, we could've talked." Tomoyo smiled, as this was the answer she expected out of Sakura Kinomoto.
"I'm sure if she wanted to talk, she had plenty people to go to. I heard she had quite the friend circle."
"Then why? Why, if she was so loved, did she do it?" Sakura crossed her arms and stared at Tomoyo.
"Sometimes, it's just easier to put up a happy face," Sakura shook her head. "Sakura, we cannot understand. There is no way we can, unless we go through it ourselves. It's difficult to try and be Akira, and see her side of the story. You are happy, I am happy. We are both content. She wasn't. You cannot simply expect to understand what she was feeling."
"I wish I could. Help her, I mean." Sakura muttered, looking away. Tomoyo took Sakura's hand and grinned at her.
"I know, that if she had had some 'Extreme-Sakura-Therapy', she would have thought twice about her decision."
Sakura only laughed.
"I need you to model for me today," Tomoyo began. Sakura drew her hands away from Tomoyo's and stared at her friend in dread. "Please? It's not even my own designs, we will be going to the mall."
Sakura thought that the mall improved the situation a little. Tomoyo's original designs were always a little sparkly, frilly, and revealed a little too much skin. Tomoyo's expression was so earnest, that Sakura couldn't say no, and she shrugged. Tomoyo whooped in joy. Sakura could only smile meekly in return.
After they were done their classes, Tomoyo shoved Sakura into her car. Grinning from ear to ear at her friend's enthusiasm, Sakura belted herself in, as Tomoyo started up the vehicle. It did not take them long to reach the mall where they sold the Daidouji line for fashion. Tomoyo's mother was very successful in what she did, and her daughter had inherited all of those talents. Jumping out of the car, Sakura fixed the straps on her backpack. Following Tomoyo into the store, Sakura felt the cool air wash over her as the air conditioning hit her square in the face.
Tomoyo made a beeline for her mother's store and Sakura had a tough time following Tomoyo's long stride. Once they were in, the workers recognized Tomoyo Daidouji at once. Greeting her with utmost respect, and smiling at Sakura as well, they led the two girls to the back of the store. Tomoyo pulled dresses off the rack at top speed and shoved them into Sakura's arms.
"My mother is working from a vintage angle," she told Sakura, who was too used to dresses being thrown at her. "She designed some dresses that go with Victorian England, mixed with a modern touch, and I offered my support. They are not exactly for sale, but with the annual dance coming up, you need a dress." Sakura did not even bother arguing. Years of experience had taught her to not argue with Tomoyo when it came to clothes, multimedia and baking.
Pulling Sakura along, Tomoyo pushed her into the fitting rooms. Sighing to herself, Sakura stared at the six dresses with a glum look on her face, and began to try them on.
Meanwhile, Tomoyo searched the other sections and her eye caught a top that was perfect. Pulling it off the rack, she stared at it. It was white, and the sleeves were transparent, and laced with roses. A thin green vein ran through the lace and the material was chiffon. Grinning to herself, she looked up and saw a familiar face walking past the shop.
Sakura stared in the mirror. This was the fourth dress and it had taken her breath away the minute she had put it on. The pale pink color complimented her skin tone and it looked as if it was the only dress that was not remotely Victorian. The top was strapless and looked as if it was made out of flowers. It fit snugly on her chest and flowed freely waist down. Grinning to herself, she decided this was the one. Opening the door of the room to peek out, she could not see Tomoyo anywhere. However, she did see a white shirt sitting neatly on top of the pile of dresses she had already tried on. Grabbing it quickly, she pulled off the dress and pulled on her jeans. Squeezing into the shirt, she wanted to kill Tomoyo. The shirt was decisively too low cut and the lace was slightly itchy.
Walking out of the fitting room, she paused to see Tomoyo talking to someone. Making her way down to her friend, she realized a bit too late whom Tomoyo was talking to. She found herself looking into the brown eyes of Syaoran Li. His face pulled into a teasing grin, as he looked her up and down.
"Sakura! It looks beautiful! Let's get it!" Tomoyo said. Sakura was still staring at Syaoran who had a large cup of coke in his hand and was sipping on it, watching her. He was wearing khaki pants that ended above his ankles, lime green flip-flops and a 'TOKYO UNIVERSITY' shirt. Lime green sunglasses were tucked onto his shirt.
"Yeah," he added. "You should get it," he looked at Tomoyo and nodded to her. "I must get going. Yuuko must be done shopping by now, so I'm going to go meet up with her." The two girls nodded and he walked out of the shop and disappearing into the crowd.
"I wonder who Yuuko is." Tomoyo muttered.
Walking out of the shop, with a big shopping bag clasped in her hand, Sakura and Tomoyo shopped at a few more shops. They bought shoes for the dress and hair accessories for Sakura. Passing the ear-piercing studio, Sakura stopped in her tracks.
"I want a second piercing." Sakura said suddenly. Tomoyo stared at her. This was out of the blue.
"Not now. I've just been wondering about it for a while, and I've decided that I will ignore the pain that it will most likely bring me, and go forward with it!"
"Oh my! Well if you insist. I can accompany you, if you want." Sakura smiled and squeezed Tomoyo's hand.
"Thanks Tomoyo!" Tomoyo grinned back and returned the squeeze. "Where to next?" At that moment, Sakura's stomach gave a loud grumble. Tomoyo giggled.
"I'm guessing we are going to get some food."
Once they were in the food court, Sakura told Tomoyo the kind of sandwich she wanted from Subway. Tomoyo made her way through the large court and Sakura watched her make her way to the Subway. Sakura looked around for an empty seat and decided to pick a small table with two seats near the big palm tree. Putting down her shopping bags and stretching her legs as she sat down. She saw Tomoyo hurrying toward her with a huge tray in her hands. As she sat down across from Sakura, she handed Sakura a foot long sub stuffed with teriyaki chicken. Taking it, and grabbing one of the two drinks from the tray, Sakura unwrapped her food and took a large bite.
Eating from Subway was never something that Sakura completely mastered. As usual, the hot sauce dripped down from the other end, and she had too much lettuce in her mouth. Putting her sandwich down, Sakura leaned back in her chair to slowly chew the food that was stuffed inside her mouth. Looking around, Sakura could not believe her bad luck. Right in front of her was, once again, Syaoran Li. He was talking to a girl sitting across from him with a small smile on his face. He had a plate of onion rings in front of him and he was tossing one into his mouth every 30 seconds.
As though he had realized that he was being stared at, he looked up, past the girl's shoulder, and looked right at her. Sakura could see him choke slightly on his onion rings and scowled. Swallowing all of her food with a gasp and taking a big sip of her coke, she struck up a conversation with Tomoyo. She could still feel Syaoran looking at her. The girl he was with was dressed in denim short shorts and a black tank top and designer heels. She, on the other hand, was in capris and a full-sleeved T-Shirt. Trying hard to wipe the heat that was filling her face, she ate her sandwich at full speed, and waited for Tomoyo to be done.
Soon after, Tomoyo was done, and Sakura got up and tossed the tray out. Tomoyo stood up and picked up her bag and called to Sakura to follow her out. Catching up, Sakura did not bother to look back at her neighbor as the two girls walked out of the food court.
As they left the mall together, the sun was finally setting. They drove down to Tomoyo's house where they both had cake, while watching old videos that Tomoyo had filmed of Sakura. At around 9, Sakura got up to leave. Tomoyo decided to drive Sakura to the block on where she lived.
Tomoyo dropped Sakura off at her block, and Sakura said she could walk from there. Jumping out of Tomoyo's car, and waving goodbye to her and turning around and walking down to her home. As she climbed the stairs tiredly, the shopping bags weighing her down, she heard noises on her floor. She arrived just in time to see Syaoran with the girl from the mall, and they were clearly locked in a deep kiss, too busy to notice her. Rolling her eyes, she continued to climb up and up to her apartment. The girl patted Syaoran on the shoulder and climbed down the stairs.
"Going home so early?" Sakura grinned in Syaoran's direction. Syaoran returned it with a smirk of his own.
"She has to go see her mother tomorrow early morning," Sakura made and 'o' face and fumbled through her purse for her keys. "Listen, do you want to come in for tea?" Sakura turned around and stared.
"You're inviting me for tea?"
"Well I have coffee, if you prefer that." Sakura wanted to laugh. She nodded; she had nothing better to do anyway, and followed Syaoran into his apartment.
Sakura didn't know what it was she expected of Syaoran's apartment, but she was slightly surprised as soon as she walked in. It was the same layout as hers. Dirty dishes were lying in the sink, as if he'd just had dinner. His leather jacket was lying on the couch and his green flip-flops were sitting right by the door.
Not to mention, it was a lot cleaner than hers.
"Sit," Syaoran instructed as he walked over to the kitchen and turned the kettle on and joined Sakura on the couch. "Did you buy the shirt?" It took Sakura a while to realize what he was talking about.
"What? Oh yeah! I did," Sakura didn't know what else to say. Even Syaoran seemed to be at a loss of words. "S-So," Sakura stammered. "Your girlfriend, huh?" Syaoran grinned.
"Curious, aren't we? That's Yuuko. Her mother knows mine," The kettle started ringing and Syaoran got up to pour the water into mugs. "She's not really my girlfriend."
"Oh sure! So you just stick your tongue down random girls' throats."
"You seriously think I'm a slut, don't you?"
"You have never given me reason to prove otherwise."
"My mom thinks I've been single for too long, so she decided to hook me up with someone. Happy?"
"You weren't single that first time you saw me?"
"What? Oh that was only for that night," Sakura could not believe this guy. "Believe it or not, I've never been in a serious relationship."
"What surprises me is the fact that I believe you." He handed Sakura a red mug with dark coffee in it.
"Is Black okay?" he asked. Sakura nodded. It was just the way she liked it. "My mother makes it her hobby to take up an active role in my life." Sakura laughed at that.
"You're lucky. My mother passed away when I was three," Syaoran didn't say anything, and Sakura didn't know why she had just blurted that out. "B-But, I don't really remember her. So how can you miss somebody you never knew? I mean, I have my dad, and Toya. I didn't miss anything. W-What?" Syaoran was staring at her over the rim of his mug.
"Nothing, nothing." Was all that he had said.
After that, they steered the conversation away from family, and talked more about school. Syaoran did not know who Akira was and his department had been called down, just like Sakura. Surprisingly, Syaoran did not have an ounce of sympathy for the girl.
"I think people that give up like that are not worth it. I've known people like Tomogaki who have fought through and pulled out of whatever it was that was bringing them down. And that is true strength." He said. Sakura only agreed partially.
"There is always a way out," he said. "And more often than not, it does not involve suicide."
After about an hour of talking, Sakura got up to leave. Gathering all her shopping bags and pulling her keys out of her purse, she bid a goodnight to Syaoran and entered her own apartment. Dropping her bags on the couch Sakura headed to the bedroom and fell asleep on her bed, not even bothering to change her clothes. The day's events had had an effect on her, and not even the caffeine in black coffee was about to stop them from taking its toll.
The weeks flew by, and soon, the city of Tokyo had entered into winter. Although the temperatures never really dropped below zero, Sakura could still feel the cold air every morning hit her face. It had always been colder by a couple degrees where she had come from, but spending so much time in Tokyo had lowered her tolerance to cold. Christmas holidays were fast approaching, and Sakura and Tomoyo were making plans to return to their home village, Mikurajima.
Sakura and Syaoran had made a habit of hanging out together almost every day after school. Sometimes Syaoran would drive Sakura home, if their classes ended around the same time. Sakura discovered that Syaoran was actually from Hong Kong, China, and that he'd be returning there for the holidays. It turned out, that he was the heir to the famous Li Corporations, and Sakura's jaw had dropped when Syaoran had confessed that his mother was indeed the infamous Yelan Li.
"You didn't guess by hearing my last name?" he had joked.
"Li's a common name!" Sakura had argued.
Syaoran was scheduled to go back to China on the first day of winter holidays, where he would temporarily take over the family company, and relieve his mother of the stress.
Syaoran on the other hand, found Sakura strange and extremely unpredictable. She acted like a 12-year-old boy on most days. She ate twice as much as him and had "five pounds of tummy fat", something she was completely and utterly proud of. It felt good to have another friend that wasn't Yamazaki Takashi, and a friend that didn't want to get in his pants all the time. Syaoran found himself cancelling plans with Yuuko every time Sakura called asking to see him.
And the weirdest thing was, he felt himself feeling increasingly frustrated when Sakura sometimes turned down his occasional offers for Tomoyo or her boyfriend. Friendships were foreign ground to Syaoran Li, who had been brought up under a strict mother and nobody to keep him company but five older sisters. Sakura, in particular, had a vast reaction to this.
"You have five sisters? No wonder you're good with women!" she had claimed, with a big grin on her face. Syaoran hadn't even bothered to argue. He had discovered that picking fights with Sakura Kinomoto led nowhere and usually ended with her throwing him out of his own apartment.
Soon the day came for Syaoran to leave for China. He stood outside his building with a small suitcase. The cab was already waiting to take him to the airport. Sakura and Tomoyo were standing with him to say goodbye. Sakura was wearing an oversized plaid shirt because she had packed the rest of her clothes, as she was going back home as well. Apparently the shirt had once belonged to her brother and she had accidentally packed it when she had moved to Tokyo.
"Well I'll see you when you get back yeah?" Sakura was saying. Syaoran nodded, and to his immense surprise Sakura pulled him into a huge hug. Syaoran, holding onto his luggage could barely hug her back. She smelled of peonies and sunshine and laundry. "Bye!" Syaoran got into the car and waved awkwardly. As the cab drove off, Tomoyo turned to Sakura.
"You two seem close," she said slyly.
"Well he seems lonely, and he is a moron most of the time, but one can get used to it." Tomoyo wanted to laugh, but she only allowed a small smile on her face.
"And only a month ago, I knew of a special girl that called Li Syaoran 'indecorous'." Sakura poked Tomoyo.
How was that? I know things are moving a little fast for Syaoran and Sakura, I realize that. However, I believe Sakura's character to be easy going and one that makes friends with little to no difficulty. Syaoran, although being a player, is internally shy and believe me, he's VERY good at one-night stands ;) but he's not very good with bonding, and the entire experience is new for him.
I don't want this fic to be a particularly long one, so there will be a lot of time skips, as there are in this chapter.
I also wanted to address the suicide issue (I seriously hope some of you guys read this). A girl in my school killed herself a couple weeks ago. I did not know her, similar to how Sakura does not know Akira. I think I portrayed some of my feelings through Sakura here. Although I did not know her, she haunted my thoughts for quite some time. And I still wonder why she didn't talk.
Okay, on a happier note, this chapter was slightly filler-y, but it's still important. Because of (drum-roll): CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. And believe me, you guys rather it happen now, than when we're into the thick of the climax.
Also, the mall scene is totally ripped off of real life event, so I own all rights to it.
OKAY I'M GOING TO SHUT UP AND GO TO BED NOW.
Update: March 27, 2013
I do not own CCS
PLEASE REVIEW. IT HELPS KEEP ME GOING