Li: I don't believe this. I really don't believe this.
Peacewish: Now, Li, take it easy…
Li: You promised! You promised yourself and all of us that you would never do this!
Peacewish: I know, I know what I promised. But I can't help it. I need it for the plot. This is the best way.
Li: I'm angry at you, Peacewish. I refuse to speak to you.
Peacewish: Readers, what Li is so annoyed about is that I have rescinded a promise I made when I started writing fanfics. I promised myself that I would never, ever write a story where Li had still not confessed his love for Sakura (not counting my au fantasy fics, of course). So many writers have done it, and didn't want to cover the same territory again. (This does not constitute a general snub on those stories that rewrite Li's confession to Sakura, I've read many and they are quite well done. I simply feel like it's been done quite a bit.)
Li: It's been done to death! I hate it! They always make me look like a stuttering idiot!
Touya: I'm okay with that.
Peacewish: Pipe down, Li. So anyway, I am sorry to all my readers who are sick to death of that, but I swear I needed it for the plot line. And it's done a little differently than the other times you've seen it in the past. I hope you'll read the story anyway, set when Li and Sakura are sixteen and in high school together. Please just keep in mind that in this story, the events of the second movie never occurred.
Peacewish: Quiet on the set! The story is about to begin…
There was a soundless explosion, a bright flash that seared his eyes and burned into his brain.
And there was darkness.
The first sensation Li was aware of when his eyes fluttered open was of pain. It was everywhere, in his head, running down his body, all the way to his feet. He tried to move his hand, and had to bite his lip to keep from groaning.
Where am I?
The light was harsh, but he opened his eyes wider to take in his surroundings. He was lying in bed, but not his bed. The room was stark and white, and an acrid smell of cleaning solution assaulted his nose. He wrinkled it in distaste, then shifted to sit up a little. Even that tiny movement resulted in ripples of pain, and this time he gave a slight groan.
A woman he'd never seen before stuck her head in and saw him looking at her.
"Oh, you're up. Doctor! Doctor, he's awake!"
I'm in a hospital.
The realization came to him like a wave washing up against the beach, comforting and puzzling at the same time.
Why am I in a hospital?
A man in scrubs came striding through the door and smiled, obviously pleased that Li was awake.
"Good, good. You're up. That must have been some blow to your head, you were out for at least a couple of hours."
Blow to my head?
Li raised a hand, wincing just a little, and felt the texture of a bandage wrapped around his head. The doctor pulled his hand away.
"Don't move too much, now, we don't want to strain anything. You probably have a mild concussion, at the very least. Who knows how long you were out before you were found."
Someone found me? I was unconscious? What happened?
"Look straight at me now." The doctor shone a flashlight into each of his eyes and nodded thoughtfully to himself. "Not bad. Not bad. You must have a pretty healthy constitution. What's your name?"
Li frowned slightly, trying to clear his thoughts. What was his name? Oh, yes.
"Li. Li Syaoran."
"Good. And how old are you?"
"Um, sixteen." The doctor was checking his pulse.
"Go to school here?"
"Yes. Yes, I go to school here."
"Good. There's obviously no long-term memory loss to worry about. We were afraid of that when you came in, there was no wallet and nothing to identify you."
"My wallet. I keep it in my bookbag." There was flash in Li's eyes: himself, putting his keys and his wallet in his backpack that morning, on top of his books. "I put it in my backpack this morning. I had my backpack with me." He glanced around but couldn't see it. "Where is it?"
"Couldn't tell you, Li-san. A man walking his dog found you in the park, he didn't say anything about seeing a backpack with you. I guess they stole it."
"Whoever it was that mugged you. I can hardly believe it myself; I can't remember the last time we had a mugging in this town. And in a children's park…" The doctor shook his head regretfully.
"I wasn't mugged," Li said flatly.
"What? What happened?"
"I – I don't know. I don't remember anything." Li tried to concentrate and focus his thoughts, but the day was a blur. He couldn't remember anything that he'd done or said. He didn't even remember walking to the park. What had he been doing there? "But it couldn't have been a mugging. I would have fought them."
That reminded him to check for his sword, and quickly he reached to feel for the reassuring presence under his shirt. It was still there, fortunately.
"I thought as much. Victims of physical trauma to the head sometimes have difficulty recalling the attack, and up to several hours beforehand as well. Hopefully it will come back to you in time. Meanwhile, I think we should probably keep you here overnight. Can I call your parents?"
"Um." Li had to drag his attention back to the doctor, pushing aside the question of what had happened in the park. "Um, no. My mother is in Hong Kong. I live with a servant in my apartment. You can call him."
Li recited the phone number, and the doctor stood to leave.
"Good. I'll just call this, and hopefully we can get a guardian up here to give us your insurance number. He must be worried by now." The man patted his arm in a friendly manner and turned to leave.
Patted my arm…she patted my arm and she smiled –
"Yes?" Li struggled to sit up even more, anxiety crawling in his stomach.
"What about Sakura?"
"Sakura. Is she here too? Short brown hair, green eyes?" Li couldn't remember if she'd been with him in the park or not, his memory was a blank. What if she'd been there too?
"You were the only one that the pedestrian found, Li-san. It doesn't sound like anyone else was there."
"Oh." Li relaxed and reclined against the pillows again. The relief was overwhelming. Whatever had happened to him, Sakura was all right. It was such a comforting thought that he closed his eyes and allowed himself to slip into sleep again. His head hurt terribly, and all he wanted was some relief from the pain.
Darkness fell on his world.
The sun was setting when he woke up again, and the nurse was setting a tray on his bedside table.
"Oh, you're up. Good, you can get some food into you." She smiled and swiveled the little bed tray to put his dinner directly in front of him.
"Hmm?" She gave him a confused look, and he realized that he'd lapsed into his native tongue.
"Arigatou," he said again, this time in Japanese, and she smiled.
"I'm glad you're awake; there's been a problem trying to contact your guardian."
"He's not my - " Li started to speak, then stopped. "What kind of problem?"
"Well, I've been calling the number you gave to the doctor, but nobody's answering."
"We have an answering machine."
"Well, it's not picking up." She held up a notepad with his home number scribbled across it. "Are you sure this is the right number?"
"Of course I'm sure," he snapped.
"It's just, that was a nasty knock you got on your head. You could be a little confused, maybe gave us an old phone number, or the phone number of a friend - "
"That's my number," Li said firmly. What's more, Wei should have been home at this hour, fixing dinner. Why wasn't he picking up?
"Let me call. Maybe he'll answer now, he's always home at sunset." He started to push himself up, but she pushed him back down against the pillows.
"Oh no. Doctor's orders. You're to stay in bed for at least one night; we don't want a relapse. And you need to eat. I'll try again, if you're sure that this is the right number."
Reluctantly Li subsided and tried to eat his dinner. He was starving, but the hospital food was awful. And a prickle of worry was beginning to run up and down the back of his mind. Where was Wei?
I remember getting up this morning. He fixed breakfast, like always. It was early…he said it was unusually early for today. Because – because today is a Saturday. That's it. I was up early today to have breakfast so I could go to the library and study. We have a test next week, and I was going to spend the day studying. I put my books, my wallet, and my keys in my backpack, and then –
And then nothing. He shook his head in frustration, but after that it was a total blank. Another nurse came in and changed the dressing on his head, switching to a smaller bandage that just covered the scar on his forehead. And still he could not remember.
"Nobody's picking up, still," the woman announced upon returning.
"That's crazy. Why would he not be home?"
"I'm sorry. Maybe he's out looking for you?"
"No way. He's used to me keeping odd hours. He wouldn't even be worried yet."
Maybe that's it, maybe he chose tonight to go out and do something. But why wouldn't the answering machine be picking up? Weird. "Let me call one of my friends, at least. I need to tell somebody that I'm in the hospital."
"Well…" She hesitated. "You're supposed to stay in bed, but I suppose you really should call someone. I'll go get my cell phone, how about that? I'll be right back."
"Thank you." She took the dinner tray with her when she left, and a few minutes later reappeared with her cell phone.
Li wished he had his, but it had been in his backpack. He'd grown used to just pressing the autodial keys for Tomoyo and Sakura over the years, he wasn't even sure if he knew their numbers anymore. What was it?
He couldn't immediately recall Sakura's cell, but Tomoyo's home number had an easy-to-remember sequence of numbers. He dialed, but nobody was picking up there either. He would have tried her cell phone if he could remember the number, but he couldn't. Finally he tried Sakura's home.
Please, please, please let this be the right number.
"Hello, this is the Kinomoto residence…"
Thank goodness. Even if it's just a machine, I finally remembered someone's number.
"…and I will call you back." Sakura's father stopped speaking, and Li hesitated when he heard the beep. He had no phone number to leave for Sakura to call, and what was he supposed to say? That he was in the hospital, recovering nicely from a mysterious blow to the head?
"Um, hi," he said lamely. "It's me. I'm, uh, doing all right. In case you were worried. I'll call back."
Obviously she didn't know, or otherwise she and Tomoyo would already be at the hospital. He hung up, feeling discouraged, and gave the nurse her phone.
"I hope you get a hold of someone soon," she replied cheerfully. "And now it's time for you to be sleeping."
"I'm not sleepy."
"Tough. You need your rest. Why don't you change out of those dirty clothes and into a hospital gown? The hospital can wash them tonight."
For the first time, Li noticed he was still in his clothes. His shoes had been removed, but he was still wearing his black cotton shirt and the khakis he'd put on that morning. A few dark stains of blood were on his shirt, barely noticeable.
"I don't want to."
"You should, you know. We didn't want to do it when you first came in because we afraid of hemorrhage. But it isn't hygienic."
He shook his head. He couldn't explain it, precisely, but he didn't want these clothes washed in the sterile environment of the hospital. They were the last links he had to a day that he didn't even remember. They were clues.
"I don't want to. You can't make me."
She hmphed a little at that, but it was nearing the end of her shift. She was tired and wanted to go home. If this kid wanted to sleep in his clothes, it wasn't that much of an issue. She'd let it slide.
"Well, if you change your mind, press that button over there. A nurse will attend to you. And try to get some sleep." She stood and left the room, shutting the door behind her.
Sleep, thought Li crossly. I don't want anymore sleep; I've been sleeping all afternoon. I want to know what happened today, in the park.
He felt restless, and sat up, swinging his legs over to one side of the bed. His muscles protested, but the pain wasn't as bad as it had been earlier. His head throbbed with the movement, but he was fairly sure he could stand. Carefully he slid off the bed, keeping a grip on the bedside railing, and waited for the dizziness to subside.
Okay, Syaoran. One step at a time. You can do this.
Taking his time about it, he crossed the little room to stand in front of the window. It was probably against the rules to open it, but he really needed some fresh air. Unlocking and pushing it open made his head swim with the effort, but it was worth it. Leaning against the sill and inhaling the evening breeze, he tried again to take himself through the morning.
I woke up. I did some push-ups in my bedroom, then I showered. I dressed…I put on these clothes that I'm wearing. I remember digging through the closet to find these khakis. I wanted to have something comfortable on when I was studying. Wei made breakfast, I ate, and I gathered the books that I wanted.
History. That's what the test is on. I wanted my history book and my notes. I put them in my backpack, and I stuck my wallet and my keys in. I zipped it up. I was heading for the front door, and – and –
Somewhere outside his room, the phone rang at the nurse's desk.
The phone rang!
This revelation burst upon him with a startling intensity, making him gasp and slump against the wall. Coming on top of the walk across the room and opening the window, the mental strain had been too much. He collapsed.
There was a soundless explosion, a bright flash that seared his eyes and burned into his brain.
And there was darkness.
Li jerked awake, startled.
Where am I?
It was utterly black around him, he could barely see his own hand in front of his face. He was stiff and sore, and realized that he was not in his bed. He was crumpled up against the wall, lying on a cold and hard floor.
This isn't my bedroom. Where am I?
Uncertainly he stood up, and put a hand on the windowsill to steady himself. That's when the memories came flooding back. He was in the hospital, with a head trauma wound.
That's right. I was trying to remember what happened today. Or is yesterday now? I have no idea what time it is. I got dressed, I packed up some books for the library, and I was heading for the front door when the phone rang.
He felt pleased that he'd remembered something else, and strained his brain to recover more, but there was nothing. He couldn't even remember if he was the one to pick it up or not. He only remembered the phone ringing.
Turning to look outside the window again, he could see now that the moon had almost reached the western horizon. It must be fairly late into the night. He couldn't believe he'd slept so long on the hard floor.
Wei would be worried by now. If I call, he's sure to be home, even if he's not awake. The phone will wake him up, though.
Gingerly he crept across the floor and felt for his shoes, then put them on. He knew the staff wouldn't like it if they saw him up and moving, so he pushed open the door a crack and peeked outside. It was the still hours of pre-dawn, and outside everything was quiet. The nurse's desk was unmanned, at least for the moment. He slipped out of the room and tiptoed down the corridor until he saw a phone against the wall.
Li let it ring thirty times before finally giving up. Who knew Wei could be such a sound sleeper?
He thought about trying Sakura's home again, but ruled that out. The last thing he needed was to wake up Mr. Kinomoto. He'd try Tomoyo's phone instead; she had her own private line.
"Hello?" murmured a sleepy voice.
"Tomoyo? Tomoyo, it's me. You'll never believe what happened - "
"Who is this?"
"It's me, Li, I - "
"Wrong number," she slurred, and there was a click, followed by a dial tone.
Li scowled at the phone. He was sure he'd had the number right that time, and it had sounded like her. But it could have been anybody. Even if it was Tomoyo, she might have been too sleepy to recognize his voice. Li decided he couldn't take sitting here anymore, and that it was time to go.
I'm going home. I need to tell Wei I'm all right. He can come back tomorrow and pay the hospital, and I can figure out what the hell happened to me.
He'd barely reached his decision before he was already walking down the length of the corridor. The Emergency Room was sleepy, the nurses busy with patients, and it was easy enough to slip through and exit the hospital. Outside, the night air was chilly, and he shivered in his thin cotton shirt. Although the days in spring were as warm as summer, it was still cold at night.
I have no money for a cab fare, even if cabs were operating at this hour. I guess I have no option but to walk.
Li shrugged to himself and started moving. He was feeling much better now, his healthy young body was already asserting itself, beginning to heal from his mysterious attack. His head still hurt, but even that pain was fading. He fell into a stride, and covered the town at a good and steady pace.
The sun was rising by the time he'd arrived at his apartment building. His keys were gone and the door locked, so impatiently he knocked.
"Wei? Are you up? Come on, I'm locked out. Wei? Wei!"
"Stop it!" snapped an angry woman, throwing open the door as she tied her bathrobe about her. She and Li traded shocked looks.
"Who are you?" they both asked at the same time. She brushed her hair back from her sleepy face.
"I'm sorry, I thought you were my ex-boyfriend. He's been calling and calling all night, he won't leave me alone. Who are you?"
Li was gaping as he checked the number on the apartment door.
This is it. I've lived in this apartment for years…I know my own number. Don't I?
"I – I'm sorry. This is where I live." He felt a little stupid saying it, and she raised her eyebrows. "I mean, I thought it was where I lived. I – this is my number. I've lived in this apartment for years."
"Sorry, kid, but this is my place. Has been for three years." She was looking at the bandage on his head now. "Are you sure you're not a little confused? Maybe you should come in, I could call the hospital - "
"No," Li snapped. "I'm not confused. This is my home! I know my own home!"
"But - " She broke off when he brushed past her. The apartment was surely his. But the furnishings were totally unfamiliar. There were flowered landscapes on the wall and velvety drapes on the windows, feminine touches that had been conspicuously absent when two men were living here.
"This isn't my home," he said softly. He felt stunned.
"Yes, I said that, remember? Now why don't you sit down and let me call the hospital - "
"No. No, they'll just take me back. I have to figure out what's going on. I need to find Sakura and solve this."
"Huh?" He ignored her blank look and spun on his heels to leave the apartment. He could feel her gaze on him as he stomped toward the elevators, then he heard the door finally shut.
I hope she doesn't call the police. I really don't feel like dealing with them right now. Something's happened to Wei, and I'm not going to rest until I figure out what. It must be connected to the head injury from yesterday, but how? What would anybody want with him? And why would they take my backpack? There wasn't anything important in there.
He reached to rake his fingers through his hair, something he always did when he was feeling frustrated. He could feel the bandage on his forehead, and he felt a cold resolve settle deep within him. Something had happened to him. Something had happened to his servant. And he would not rest until he figured out what.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters