“Hoe-e!” Sakura sweat dropped as Tomoyo videotaped her in her newest costume. It was a red velvet jumper with elaborate white lace trimmings. The wide velvet maroon ribbon tied at her chest was decorated with garlands to match the “Christmas Season.” Over that was a perfect fitting velvet jacket. Her hair was tied into two high pigtails at each side of her head, tied with matching ribbons to her dress. Kero had a matching ribbon around his neck.
“I hope you’re not cold, Sakura-chan. It’s really freezing, so there are many petticoats underneath the dress. And, velvet is pretty warm. Since you have such a nice figure, no one would notice that you are wearing 5 layers of underdresses. Besides, that makes the skirt more flouncy. Look there’s Syaoran-kun, in his winter battle outfit!” Tomoyo immediately brought out her video camera.
“Syaoran-kun! You’re battle outfits different today!” Sakura exclaimed.
“Eh? Yeah.” Syaoran’s outfit was similar in design, yet it was a darker forest green, made of thicker material, with navy blue trimmings. The Chinese clothes he wore under his battle outfit was black, instead of white. Also, he had on a navy blue cloak. “I don’t like getting cold.”
“Wow, it looks really nice! I wish you told me. Do you want me to make you battle outfits, too?” Tomoyo asked.
“No! This is the traditional Li clan attire. Uh… slightly altered to match the weather. Anyway, where is this new force?” He closed his eyes to feel for it.
Kero said, “Hmmm… Brat, what are you doing here? It’s not like you’ve even helped Sakura these days. In fact, you just watched last time.”
“So?” Syaoran said, and that was that. Kero glared at the Chinese boy. Considering that he likes Sakura, he sure doesn’t show it. Of maybe he changed his mind for good. Yet that video made me realize things I never knew about him. I even felt kindly towards the Brat at that time. He really cared for Sakura.
“Umm…” Sakura concentrated. “There! It’s there.” She pointed to the woods. They all proceeded in running.
“Yikes!” Syaoran slipped on the frozen ground and Sakura bumped into him, while Kero bumped into her. They all slid onto the icy ground with a CRASH!
“Oh dear!” said Tomoyo as she followed from behind. “This won’t do if you are going to catch the force. Here. Good thing I brought special ice skates for you two to be able to glide over the ice. Put them on.” She handed it to them
“I-ice skates?” Syaoran stared at the shiny blades.
“Hoe-e! Ice skates? I haven’t skated since that field trip back in elementary school, when we caught the Freeze!” Sakura exclaimed.
“Neither have I.”
“It’s okay, you’ll manage. Now put them on,” Tomoyo was completely confident.
Sakura and Syaoran tried to stand up with their new skates. They both crashed to the floor again.
“I don’t think that’s a very good idea… Hey! Watch out!” commented Kero.
A whipping rope appeared between them, entwining around Sakura. She managed to stand up and struggled against the rope. Getting the hang of her skates, she wobbled, then took a few glides to escape. She came to a frozen pond. Behind her, Syaoran was struggling to stay on his feet. Meanwhile the rope tried to ravel itself around Sakura. With her staff, she tried to push it back. Yet, it snaked around her bare throat again.
Sakura clenched her eyes as it tightened. I’m getting choked. I’ll die.
“Hey, you. Watch out.” Syaoran had managed to stagger to the pond as he got the hang of the ice skates. With a slash of his sword, he cut the rope off from Sakura’s neck.
She breathed in relief. The broken rope renewed itself and came back for another attack, aiming at Syaoran and Sakura’s feet. As it tangled their legs, they both collapsed to the hard ice.
“Ouch!” complained Sakura, rubbing her cold bottom. “Get off my dress!”
“I can’t. I can barely manage to sit on the ice, let alone stand and move. The weather is much better in Hong Kong. Ow. My back!” Syaoran grumbled.
By this time, the Rope had managed to entwine itself all around Syaoran and Sakura, tying them together.
“Look what happened! We’re all tied up,” Sakura exclaimed, as she observed the rope tied around her neck, waist, arms and leg. She was tied back to back with Syaoran. She tried to get up, then slid again, collapsing on top of Syaoran, who groaned.
“I can’t move.” Syaoran tried to take his arms out from the rope.
“Don’t move! If you do, the rope piece around my neck gets tighter.” Sakura felt it press tightly against her neck, and felt as if circulation would get cut off.
The Rope drew itself around the two even more tightly.
“Oh dear,” murmured Tomoyo.
“At the count of 3, let’s stand up, okay?” Syaoran told Sakura. She nodded since her bottom was freezing.
“1.2.3…” Bam! Crash! They both collapsed to the floor. “Again.” Once more they attempted. Pressing her back against Syaoran and vise versa, they struggled to their feet from their sitting position. Their ice skates begin to slip underneath them again. Then, Kerberus came to the rescue and supported them up.
“Hoe-e. Than you Kero-chan. But I still can’t get used to you in your big form” Sakura sighed in relief, now that they were on their feet.
“Hey, if you can bear it for one second, I think I can let my right hand free from this rope,” Syaoran said, trying to reach the bindings with his sword.
“Okay.” Sakura felt Syaoran tugging at the rope to take out his arm, while it choked her.
“There, got it.” Syaoran managed to slice the rope with his sword, then untangled himself. “Hurry Sakura, think of a counter attack, before it ties you up again!”
Nodding, Sakura drew out her cards. What can fight the rope? Even if she used the sword, the rope would repair itself. She could burn it, but then the frozen pond will melt as well, so that wasn’t wise. The Windy would have no effect, while the Watery would make situations worse. Fire for fire, ice for ice… rope for rope? What is stronger and more durable then a rope? She through out a card.
“Woody!” Immediately, the great vines of woody intertwined with that of the rope. Every curve that the rope twisted, the Woody trapped it.
“Good job, Sakura!” Kero congratulated. “See, she’s a lot smarter than you, brat!”
“Hmmph.” Still, Syaoran was impressed. Sakura really had improved.
The Rope was defeated. Sakura shouted, “Spirit of the dark forces. Return to your shape of contract! I, Sakura command you. Sakura Card!” The newly formed card floated to her hand.
“Good job!” Tomoyo and Kero said.
“Thanks! But I was so scared while it was choking me. Wow, I think I finally got the hand of these skates.” Sakura skated a little bit back, not noticing the thin crack that had formed on the frozen pond.
Yet, Syaoran saw it with keen eyes. “Hey! Watch out!”
It was too late. The ice gave away underneath Sakura’s weight, and collapsed. Sakura plunged into the icy water.
“Sakura!” Syaoran glided over to the crack to save her. To his surprise, the hole disappeared.
The weight of her soaked clothes and her ice skates dragged Sakura down to the bottom of the pond. The water seeping through her was icy and she shivered down to her bones. She couldn’t breathe as she sank down to the bottom. Wait. I can’t drown. I have to go up again. Kicking off her ice skates to get rid of excess weight she struggled up to the sheet of ice covering the top. She pounded. The crack that she had fallen through was gone. Her limbs felt numb from the cold, while her lungs felt like bursting. I can’t escape! HELP! I just want to sink to the bottom and rest. I can’t fight back anymore. So cold. I’m trapped beneath the ice.
* * * * * *
“Dammit! This ice doesn’t break. There’s a magical barrier. The crack in the ice was on purpose.” Syaoran pounded on the ice.
“Stand back. Let me try.” Kerberus let out a blast of flame. There was no effect.
Tomoyo frowned. “Then, she can’t get out! She’ll drown if she isn’t frostbitten, beneath! What can we do!”
Syaoran’s face contorted and he screamed in a cracked voice as he bent over the ice, “Sakura! Do you hear me? If you do, do something. I know you can. Break the barrier. If you don’t… If you give up, I’ll take your goddamn body and kill you over again. Sakuraaaaaaaaa!” He gave a desperate punch on the ice.
* * * * * *
Someone’s calling me. He is. Say my name again, Syaoran. He’s going to be mad if I don’t escape. I’m not dead yet. But I can’t move my arms, or my legs. I can’t see anything. It’s so dark. It’s so cold. I have to escape. I can’t just die! For Syaoran, I must break free. Strange. I didn’t drown, thought I’ve been down here for a while. Here. I’ll get out of here. I’ll break the barrier.
Sakura managed to draw out the fire and pleaded in her mind, Please, Fiery! Melt the ice barrier above me. Help me escape.
The Fiery nodded and spread her warmth over the ice. First, her power reflected back. Slowly, it spread. Too late. I can’t breathe anymore. Sakura fell unconscious.
* * * * * *
“Look, the frozen barrier is starting to weaken,” Kero exclaimed.
“Sakura! Is she all right, then?” Asked Tomoyo.
Syaoran saw the weakening ice, and with his fist, brought down full force over the ice. It held, then with a CRACK, it split over in every direction. He ignored the throbbing pain that etched itself up his muscles. With his ward paper, Sakura floated back to the top, collapsing in Syaoran’s arm. Her eyes were closed and her whole body temperature had dropped low, with her skin a deadly pale color. She was dripping with icy water.
He screamed, shaking her limp body, “Sakura! Wake up! Get up now, of I’ll bash your head! Don’t die now! You can’t after all that trouble to escape. Wake up!”
Kero said, “You’re going to kill her, even if she’s alive, if you shake her like that. Why don’t you feel her pulse?”
“Pulse?” Syaoran placed two fingers on her slender wrist. At first, he felt nothing. Then, he felt slight, weak throbs. He sighed in relief. Then he dropped her hand and muttered, “So that’s that,” in disgust, for he was ashamed for his display of over reaction.
Tomoyo hovered worriedly over the unconscious Sakura.
“Take off her outer stuff,” Syaoran said.
“Huh?” Tomoyo’s eyes turned round.
“Take off her wet dress, for she’ll catch a serious cold if you leave those dripping wet stuff on her in this cold weather. And cover her up with as many warm things as possible, to prevent frostbite,” Syaoran said, and he proceeded in taking off his cloak and his outer green battle wear. “Put this on her to keep her warm.”
Tomoyo nodded, taking the clothes. Then she stared at him.
“What?” He asked, crossly.
“Turn around, please.”
Syaoran turned red, and stuttered, “I-I was j-j-just a-about to!”
Kero commented, “Hentai (perverted)-boy!”
“It’s nothing like that. I--”
“Oh stop bickering. Sakura-chan almost died, here.” Tomoyo proceeded in taking off Sakura’s outer velvet dress, leaving her underdress on. She slipped Syaoran’s battle outfit over Sakura’s head, and wrapped her in the warm cloak. “Finished!” She said. Syaoran turned around again.
“I guess we better take her home,” Kero said.
“Are you crazy? In that state?” Syaoran exclaimed. “Her brother will literally kill me. We better let her gain consciousness, make sure her body temperature’s normal, make sure she doesn’t catch a cold, and dress her properly, before we go anywhere near her house.”
“But we can’t stay out here, where it’s cold,” Kero said.
“I think it will take a while for my bodyguards to come in the van, in this icy roads. And even if we take her to my house, my mother would freak out, and we would need some good explanation,” Tomoyo said.
“Fine. Take her to my apartment then. It’s just across the street, anyway,” Syaoran said.
“Then, why didn’t you say so?” Kero demanded.
“How are we going to take her there…” Tomoyo trailed off.
Deftly, Syaoran scooped Sakura up in his arms, and she dangled lifelessly, like a doll, swaddled in an overlarge cloak.
Tomoyo sighed haplessly. “So romantic. The hero carrying his lover in a caress. So gentle, so sweet!”
He carried Sakura without a word. Yet he felt the dampness of her tangled hair on his chest, the nearness made his heart wring.
“Is she heavy?” Tomoyo asked.
“I really think you look cool in all black. It’s very sweet of you to give all your outer stuff to keep Sakura-chan warm. You must be cold.”
There was no response to that. “Well, I could tell that you were really worried for Sakura.” Tomoyo was desperately trying to stir up the conversation. (Even as she was aiming her video camera at their direction.)
“More like he was getting hysterical, yet all in all, it was pretty touching,” Kero added.
Syaoran stayed silent. He refused to look at the girl he was carrying in his arms. Before they entered the building, he stopped. Then he said in a cut up voice, “I think that you are mistaken about something.”
Tomoyo tilted her head questioningly.
“You still seem to think that I still like her, that she’s why I returned to Japan…” Syaoran entered the building. “Well, you’re wrong about that. My feelings for her has… changed.”
With her eyes round in surprise, Tomoyo followed him in. “Did you tell her that?”
“Do you plan to?”
“I think that you are making a terrible mistake. I don’t know what has changed you, but…”
At that moment, Sakura’s eyes fluttered. Tomoyo cried out, “Sakura-chan. Are you all right?”
Sakura’s whole body felt numb and icy. Her limbs dangled helplessly, while her throat burned. She shivered as a gust of winter wind blew and her damp underdress dripped. Something warm is covering me up, though. It feels cozy and slightly scratchy, but comfortable. And it smells like someone I like. Slightly musty, but sweet, like clean soap. Is it oniichan? My father? No. Strange. I have the sensation than I am being carried, like I am a child. So cozy. Someone’s arms are so strong, that I feel like I’m a little baby again.
“Sakura-chan!” Tomoyo called again.
“I’m fine. Don’t worry. I just feel so tired…” Sakura murmured, without opening her eyes.
“Here, ring the doorbell. Meirin’s inside,” Syaoran said.
* * * * * *
“What in the world happened?!” exclaimed Meirin, as Syaoran carried Sakura in and placed her in an extra guest room bed.
“Long story,” Tomoyo said.
As she lay on the bed, Sakura’s eyes were blurred, then focused again. “Where am I?” She asked in wonder, at the strange surroundings.
“You’re in my house,” Meirin said.
“My house,” muttered Syaoran.
“Wow, that was a close call. Here’s some clothes. Put them on, and call us back,” Meirin said, handing Sakura some warm home wear.
They all walked out.
“You better call the Kinomoto residence and tell her father or brother that Sakura’s at your house, Tomoyo,” Kero said.
“Right.” Tomoyo took out her handphone.
“Why not say she’s at my house?” Meirin asked.
“Err… that’s not a good idea,” Kero answered.
“Tomoyo-chan, don’t you need to go back home?” Meirin asked after Tomoyo finished the phone call.
“Nah. It’s more important to look after Sakura.”
Sakura walked out of the room, in Meirin’s clothes. “It’s okay. I’m fine now.”
“No, no. Go back to bed,” urged Meirin. “Syaoran will bring you some medicine.”
“And honey milk. Like your brother always does,” Tomoyo added.
They technically dragged her back to the bed, and tucked her in. Obediently, Sakura drank the warm honey milk, and all the nasty medicine that was forced down her throat. “Really this is not necessary… I’m not sick…” But Sakura was cut off by Tomoyo and Meirin and Kero, all nursing her.
Syaoran sat nonchalantly at a couch, reading a Chinese spell book. Meirin called out, “Bring in the extra blanket.”
Syaoran replied, “There is no extra blanket.”
“Then, bring in yours, silly.”
Sighing, Syaoran stripped his bed of the thick green blanket and dragged it to the room next doors, to cover Sakura up.
“Come on. Let’s let her sleep.” Tomoyo and the others went out of the room, turning off the lights.
Before Syaoran left, Sakura opened her eyes in the dark and grabbed the sleeve of Syaoran’s beige sweater. “Syaoran?”
“Because I heard you calling me. You said you’ll kill me if I don’t do something. That made me more determined, to not let you down. And when my power failed, you punched open the ice.”
“Maybe. Still it means a lot to me.” Sakura sighed and gazed around the room. “Sometimes I wonder, what will happen if I really do die, one of these days.”
“Don’t talk nonsense.”
“Then I think of all the people that I care for, and I think everything will turn out all right. Syaoran, no one understands, but you might. What might happen if you lost all your powers? If I had no power, and all my cards were gone, I will not be able to protect the ones I love. Then, the destruction might occur after all. I hate feeling helpless. Yet, what will happen if I can’t do anything? Sometimes, I’m so scared of what might happen.”
“Silly, why are you talking about so serious things? Don’t worry so much. Are you running a fever?” Syaoran said this in a teasing yet gentle way.
“No.” Sakura let go of his sleeve. “Nevermind. I guess you don’t understand, either.”
But I do understand. I know what it feels like to be so helpless, that I can’t do anything. I hate that feeling. That’s why… With somber eyes, Syaoran started saying, “I know this is kind of sudden, but I think I should tell you this.”
“What is it?”
“It’s hard for me to say this, but…”
“Li Syaoran!” Meirin called out from the kitchen. “You leave Sakura-chan alone and come out here. She needs to rest, or else, she will catch a flu. Sheesh, lovers. You can’t do anything about them.”
Frowning, Syaoran said to Sakura, “Go to sleep.”
“But what were you going to say?”
“Sleep.” Syaoran left the room, closing shut the door.
* * * * * *
“You’ll hurt her terribly,” Tomoyo said.
“Why?” Syaoran asked, as he sat down on the couch.
“Whether you tell her, or not tell her, you’re going to hurt her.”
“Eh? What are you talking about?”
“Your feelings for Sakura. It only took you so long to figure it out. You left Japan, telling her that you loved her. She loved you back. Now, you come and say that you don’t love her anymore, though you didn’t tell her yet. Yet, your actions and words are completely different. You save her and protect her. You keep her warm with your clothes. You get hysterical when you are about to lose her. You hold her in your arms. You look at her with gentle eyes.”
“So, get on with your point.”
“Are you sure about your feelings. You shouldn’t run away from them. Face it like a man.”
“I am. That’s why I realized that I must sort things out with her. It’s not like I hate her or anything. It’s just that I don’t have that special feeling for her anymore.” Syaoran gazed down at his cup of tea. “I’m still what you call ‘young.’ It’s too early for me to decide that I want to dedicate my life to someone. There are plenty of people out there that I haven’t met, or gotten to know. There is no reason why I have to like Sakura, just because I used to like her when I was a child.”
“You still are a child…” mumbled Kero, from the cupboard, as he raided the Li food supply.
“So, you think its all right to like someone else, like Meirin… or Erika…” Tomoyo trailed off.
“That’s not exactly my point. I’m just saying that it’s not a big deal not liking her anymore. We have moved on with our old lives, you know. I can like Meirin, Erika, or even you,” Tomoyo’s eyes turned round, “But that doesn’t matter. There is no point in liking someone so seriously. I’m over with such childish silliness. Yeah, I used to get flustered, I used to be confused. I used to run off. That’s then.”
Tomoyo fingered her long purple hair and sighed, “Well, do what you want to. Just, don’t make a mistake. One wrong move can ruin a lifetime. Think carefully.”
Syaoran stretched, “Man, why are you so serious over such a trivial matter as this. C’mon. Get a life. This is not some medieval times sworn love or anything. It’s the hard knock modern world, where we face reality.”
He’s changed. I thought he didn’t, but he’s not an innocent boy anymore. I wonder what made him this way… Tomoyo cast her violet eyes down, troubled. Sakura…
* * * * * *
Don’t leave me! Sakura ran, chasing a shadowed figure, who walked further and further into the mist. NOOOOOOOOOOO! She stumbled and fell onto the damp ground. He’s gone. He left me. A black silhouette came and overwhelmed her.
You can’t escape. You can’t run to him anymore. He’s not for you. Let him go. He doesn’t want you. Give it up.
No, it can’t be true! Tell me this is a lie! Sakura struggled to escape. Then, she saw someone with glossy brown hair and golden brown eyes. He stared at her for a moment, then gave an evil smirk, turning his back on him, and walking far away from her. Leaving her. NO! An icy barrier formed between him and her.
Sakura woke up, drenched in clammy sweat.
Her mussed hair came down tangled to her back. “It’s only a nightmare.
Nothing real. Nothing like that will happen. Strange… what did it mean?”
Wish-chan: Ha ha… Don’t kill me
because of Syaoran… No comment…
I’m so glad! I possess half of the CCS manga now… What sucks is that all those little details bother me now. Poor Sakura. This is just the beginning of the winter… Comments welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org