Chapter 16: Running Out of Time

The beginning of the long waited New York adventure… One day before the airplane flight at Meirin’s house (MY HOUSE! … says Syaoran) with Erika, Sakura, and Meirin…

“Seriously, Tomoyo, you are absolutely amazing. I can’t believe you planned out our entire wardrobe.” Meirin swerved around in her new outfit, complete to the preppy red coat.

Sakura, Tomoyo, and Erika were visiting Meirin’s house that day. Satisfied, Tomoyo plopped down onto Meirin’s bed. “You see, the first impression we make after we get off the airplane is most important. (*star eyed*) That’s why I stayed up all night making final touches on the outfits. I can’t believe you insisted on a short skirt, Erika-chan. In this weather. But, I’m really satisfied with how everyone’s outfit turned out, and I finalized what everyone’s packing. Too bad I couldn’t arrange your brother’s airport outfit, too, Sakura-chan.” Her eyes were starry.

“But Tomoyo-chan, I thought you will be shopping in New York,” Sakura commented, browsing through Meirin’s bulging suitcase. Hoe… Is Meirin really planning to take 10 pairs of shoes? We’re only staying for a week…

“Oh ho ho! Of course! But that doesn’t mean that I won’t be prepared, as well!” Tomoyo analyzed Meirin’s outfit critically. “Good thing your outfit’s the last one to finalize. I need to adjust the sleeves a little.”

“Oh guess what? Did you see at your Christmas gathering? Erika was going nuts over Sakura’s brother! Won’t it be so funny?” Meirin laughed.

“Hey!” Erika pushed Meirin off the bed and flipped back her glossy hair fastened by two red ribbons.

“It reminded me of Akizuki Nakuru-san. She was onii-chan’s classmate several years ago,” Sakura added.

“Who is this person? She has a good taste,” Erika asked.

“Oh yeah, this is the schedule for the week in New York.” Tomoyo handed over a booklet packet to each person.

“OHMYGOSH!!!!!” Meirin shrieked as she scanned over the contents. “We’re staying in the Plaza Hotel? First class airplane tickets! And look at this schedule! Fancy dinner receptions, parties, Broadway tickets, CompTech tour, New York guidance in a limousine…I really can’t believe we’re leaving tomorrow!”

“WILL YOU GIRLS PLEASE BE QUIET? I’M TRYING TO DO SOMETHING HERE!” Syaoran called from the living room.

“Oh yeah! Syaoran-kun lives here too!” Sakura exclaimed. “Why is he so touchy?”

Meirin laughed. “You’ll see.”


Meirin’s flashback…

Ring ring!

“Hello?” Syaoran got the phone. “Wha—Mother? How are you doing? Fine, thank you… Did you have a nice Christmas? Yes. Meirin’s fine… Yes, I’ll be going to New York during Winter Break. Yes. A friend won the prize. WHAT? Mother, please. I’m sorry I used so much money. You know… for Christmas… I’ll pay back the credit card bills, just don’t—Mother? Mother?” Syaoran turned super deformed, pacing up and down the room, sweat dropping.

From the other side of the phone, Li Fanren picked it up and shouted enthusiastically, “Merry Christmas, little bro! So what’s up? Ha ha, someone’s in trouble! But mother would have made you do it, even if you passed the credit card limit.”

“Sister, please let me talk to Mother! I have no intention of— Hello? Hello?“ Syaoran slammed the receiver down, his face turning ghastly. “Great! So much for my vacation!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“So, what did Li-kun’s mother say to do?” Tomoyo asked.

“It’s a long story,” Meirin replied, sighing.

“Anyway, I better adjust this coat.” Tomoyo took out her sewing kit. “Oh, Sakura-chan, sorry but can you take this sketch and that bag to Li-kun? It’s his airport outfit. And the New York schedule too.”

“Sure.” Sakura picked it up and walked to the living room. There, she stood a moment to marvel the grand Christmas tree. It was hard to believe Syaoran arranged it. Then, her eyes wandered to Syaoran’s back, sitting at the kitchen table, typing away at something on his laptop. Quietly, she crept behind him.

Grinning wickedly Sakura pushed the unsuspecting Syaoran’s back shouting “BOO!”

“GAHHHHHHHHHH!” Syaoran jumped off his chair. Panting, he glared at her. “What’d’you do that for? Don’t bother me. I’m busy.” Posing his fingers over the keyboard, Syaoran started typing again, sighing.

Watching the laptop screen, Sakura asked looking over his shoulder, “What are you doing?”

“None of your business.”

“The implementation of the five genres of theological sorcery, according to documentary text of the forgotten generation reiterates the emphasis on the categorization of the elements before the ingenious solution to which the Eastern and Western magic was coherently combined; furthermore withstanding that chaos refers back to time before the greatest magician in the world, Clow Reed…” Turning placid and sweat-dropping heavily, Sakura trailed off from reading what Syaoran was typing with spiral eyes. “What in the world is that?”

“I’m writing a document. A stupid analytical document about the five forces before Clow Reed, and how he combined them to one, the improvement and the draw backs, and the results, blah blah blah…” Syaoran sighed heavily again.

“You’re crazy,” Sakura murmured.

“It’s not me. It’s my family. Hey, can you get the fax over there?” Syaoran indicated to the fax machine.

Walking over to the fax machine, Sakura picked up the papers that were emerging from the machine. As the stack grew larger, the rounder her eyes got. “What in the world is all this?”

Groaning, Syaoran answered, “Don’t. Ask. Me. There’s a whole list of things that Mother wants me to do in New York, as well as visiting all these people.”

“But why?”

“Well, the Li clan is a prominent, powerful family. Not that I’m proud to say that. Let’s just say, we have strong connections, internationally. All over the world. And mother wants me to visit some people in New York and discuss some complicated issues, as well as come up with a document for the Elders to look at. She’s faxing me a whole list of things I have to do. Close your mouth. It’s worse than you think it is.”

Obediently, Sakura shut her jaws. What is wrong with that family? Or is it that they really do come from a strong, powerful lineage? After all, their line is Clow Reed… “Poor Syaoran-kun…”

“I don’t deserve pity. Mother’s mad at me again. But oh well. I’ll just buy her an extra nice present from New York. I certainly have no intention of ruining my vacation.” Snapping his laptop shut, Syaoran spun around and ended his rant, out of words. Looking up at Sakura, he asked surprised, “Oh, when did you get here?”

Sakura turned head over heels. “YOU WERE JUST TALKING TO ME FOR THE PAST 10 MINUTES!”

Ignoring her, Syaoran shuffled through several documents. Finally he slipped out a piece of yellowed paper. “Good, you’re here. There might be some evidence to be found. You said you wanted to find out more about the past, right? Look at this date.”

Sakura observed the paper. “Why, it’s about 20 years ago!”

“Exactly. What does that signify?”

Furrowing her eyebrows, Sakura thought. “What?” Then she remembered. “That’s when your father left to Hong Kong and my mom married my dad.”

“Exactly. Around that time she sent a parcel, a box with some things in it to Hong Kong, where my father lived. And he forwarded that box to this address.”

Reading the highlighted address on the paper, Sakura exclaimed, “It’s in New York! But what’s so strange about that?”

“Remember? When we read my father’s diary, he left Japan, God knows why, but if I interpreted correctly, their relationship wasn’t all too good by that time . So, why did Nadeshiko-san send that parcel to Hong Kong? It must have been something important. And after he received it, he sent it to an address in New York. Why New York out of all places?”

“New York… Is it just me, but do you have an uneasy feeling about this trip?” Furrowing her eyebrows she stared at the paper. Then, Sakura held out the bag. “Oh yeah. Tomoyo-chan said to give this to you.”

“What is this?” He peeked into the bag. “No, let me guess; it’s probably not a Halloween costume, and not a concert uniform. Christmas is past,” Syaoran commented with exaggerated enthusiasm. “So I guess it must be airport wear!”

“How didja know?”

Flipping over his chair, Syaoran asked unbelievingly, “You mean it’s true! God, help me.” Sakura patted his back sympathetically. Sighing, he unfolded the contents, from shoes to coat out onto the table.

“Hoe-e! That outfit’s so kawaii (cute)!” Sakura exclaimed.

“I’m not a doll, you know.”


At the busy Narjita Airport, Tokyo…

“Tell me again. Why in the world do I need sunglasses? It’s winter, not to mention indoors, inside the airport.” Syaoran had been grumbling all the way to the airport in Tomoyo’s van.

Sakura, Meirin, Tomoyo, Syaoran, Eron, Erika, Touya, and Yukito were standing inside the shiny floors of the airport in Tokyo, Japan. Finally, they sent off their luggage, and had an hour to wait before boarding time.

“Oh ho ho ho. I just that the sunglasses look so cool and mysterious, you know, in movies, the handsome, dashing protagonists lands from the airport dressed in black with hair slicked back and sunglasses,” she said, hugging herself in delight. Tomoyo had insisted on handing sunglasses out to everyone.

Slapping his forehead, Syaoran muttered, “Stupid of me to ask.”

“Come on, you guys. I’m in charge, with Yukito, okay? Now we’ll stay at the Japan Airlines (JAL) First Class lounge until boarding time. We board at 11:30,” Touya said, taking charge.

“Right, Touya-san,” Erika chirped. Taking Syaoran’s arm, she added, “Come, Syaoran-kun.”

Eron muttered, “I can’t believe I’m related to her.” He picked up Erika’s handbag.

“Tomoyo-chan, don’t tell me you’re video-taping again! Not in the airport; everyone’s staring.” Sakura backed away, trying to hide.

“It’s okay; they’ll think we’re celebrities.” Tomoyo zoomed to Sakura’s face.


In the side, Meirin whispered, “I’m sure glad that Syaoran cast his language spell on us, so that we could speak English fluently when we get to America.”

“I know!” Sakura agreed. “I was dreading to pour over my English books.”

“It’s a good thing that Li-kun knows such a spell. After all, Eron and Erika both traveled so they know several different languages, while your brother and Tsukiro-san both are in college, so they know English, but us,” Tomoyo sighed contentedly. “It’s really handy to have a magician as a your friend.”

“Absolutely!” Meirin agreed.

Laughing, they headed to the lounge. At that moment, Sakura brushed against someone. A piece of white paper landed on her. She swerved around, but the black figure had dissolved into the crowd.

With a pounding heart, Sakura unfolded the paper. She had an uneasy feeling that someone was watching her.

—There is a bomb installed in this airport. It will explode in exactly 1 hour from now. Beware, or else this whole airport and all the people in it will be reduced to ashes. One more thing. No simple magic means would work this time… Good luck…
There was no signature, but at the foot of the note was an imprint of a black skeleton mask. A shudder ran down her spine. This wasn’t a joke, was it? Certainly, someone didn’t do this to be funny. Someone was serious. Her heart began thumping. A bomb? What did this mean? She had to take precaution. One hour, was that enough? Swerving around, she glanced around warily. Was someone watching her?

“Wait, okay? I’ll be back. I need to do something important,” Sakura exclaimed.

“Sakura! Wait, where are you going?” Tomoyo asked.

“Don’t go off by your self!” Touya called out.

“Sorry, I can’t explain right now!” Sakura began pushing through the crowds. Where? Where? In this big airport, where could the bomb be? This was no joke. One could search for weeks in a place like this and not find it. This was not a matter of a little damage, but one whole big airport with all the people in it.

“Hey, you, wait stupid!” Syaoran ran after her.

Emerging from the crowd, Sakura glanced around her. Where? Time was ticking away. Syaoran caught up with her, panting, and grabbed her arm to prevent her from escaping. Sakura tossed him the note, which he read, frowning.

Gulping Syaoran stammered, “W-where’d’you get this? Could this be a joke?”

“Do you think someone would be dirty enough to joke about something like this? No. It has something to do with us, and I won’t let whoever is our enemy get away with even attempting to harm innocent people! If that person has something against me, face me, but I won’t allow the involvement of anyone else.”

“But I don’t get why,” Syaoran started pondered. But Sakura already began running off through the crowds. “WAIT!”

Where? Why? Where can it be? So many people. I want to push them all away. I wish I can stop time, but somehow, I know that the Time card won’t work in this kind of situation. Someone knocked her aside. For a moment, Sakura sank down to the ground, with the sick reality that the clock was ticking away. She stared at her watch. 15 minutes had past. Was 45 enough? Pools of sweat had formed underneath her coat, as her head spun round and round.

“You! Wait a moment! What do you mean by running off like that?” Syaoran came panting next to her. “Get up now. We can’t waste time like this. It’s impossible to search the airport like this, with no clue. This will be pure luck, and also keeping a level head. So you search this side, I’ll go search the other wing. Meet in the lobby in 25 minutes, if we can’t find it. That will leave 20 minutes to come up with a desperate plan. If you find it contact my handphone. Now, hurry. Run!” Syaoran sped off, his black coat sailing behind him.


“I wonder where they went,” Meirin commented.

“Well, they seem to disappear pretty much all the time, together,” Eron commented.

“What do you mean by that?” Touya asked sharply.

“Anyway, we still have plenty of time. One hour before boarding. I’m sure they had some urgent business,” Yukito said. “You can’t really get lost in an airport, after all.”


Great, I think I’m completely lost. Well, it’s not my fault that I hardly ever traveled. Sakura wiped stood and looked around, gazing up at the signs. Where? What was an obvious place? She looked under benches, in the stores and restaurants, and even inside bathroom. Her legs were aching, and her coat felt heavy. Everywhere she went, people stared at her nastily, as if she were crazy. Maybe I am crazy. I know that if I go to the officials and tell them there is a bomb installed in this building, they will probably laugh at me at the best, or lock me up in the mental hospital. This is impossible!

“Little girl, are you lost?” a man in a blue uniform, clearly a guard, asked her.

“Umm, no, no!”

“Well, please don’t run around then. You are disturbing others.”

“Er—Yes sir. Sorry.” Sakura felt like hiding underneath a shell. 5 more minutes till meeting up with Syaoran again. I hope he had better luck. And then, 20 more minutes to come up with a desperate plan.


“Sorry, sorry.” Syaoran dodged people, knocking into others.

“Hey, watch it, boy! Youth’s these days, they’re insane!” an old man cackled.

Feeling his ears turn red, Syaoran swerved around. Where now? Time was ticking away, as fast as his heart was pounding. His sweat soaked sweater clung to his back, and beads of perspiration rolled down his forehead. Where, where? Time was running out. Bolting out running again, he checked the information desk, the lounges, and even behinds plants. More than half the time, guards chased him off.

“You! Stop creating chaos!” Someone screamed after him. He wanted to cover up his face. Sighing, he took out his sunglasses from his coat pocket and slipped it on. Who thought that he would actually listen to Tomoyo? But better sunglasses and hide his face than to have people stare and remember his face.

His shoes felt heavy on his feet and every where he swerved, he felt wary and nervous.

“Look! That boy looks like he’s from a movie!” A little girl pointed.

“Maybe he’s an actor,” her mother replied. “Young and cute.”

“Cool! It looks like a scene from a movie when the handsome actor learns that there is a bomb installed in the building, and he must save everyone!”

“Now dear, don’t get too imaginative.”

Syaoran sighed, his keen amber eyes flickering here and there through his tinted sunglasses.

Now, 25 more minutes till the bomb went off. He didn’t even want to imagine the result. A gigantic explosion… Shuddering, Syaoran desperately racked his brain for a possible place. Now, 22 more minutes. Think calmly, Syaoran, where is the least likely place that I would search?


WHERE!? Sakura plopped down in frustration. Her leg muscles ached and she had a stick across her side, while her stomach cramped. Flicking away her hair, she wiped the sweat from her clammy forehead. 21 more minutes till the bomb went off. Inside her mouth and throat was dry and her breath came rapidly. Where would be the last place she would look for the bomb? Where would they put it, so that it was the most obvious, yet unthinkable.

Stay calm. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes. Tick tick…

Where must it be…

Sakura bolted off to the first floor of the airport, dodging people and snaking her way through the crowd.

From her pocket, she wrestled out her handphone (given by Tomoyo,) punching in the numbers.


Placing his silver handphone to his ears, Syaoran immediately shouted, “Did you find it?”

“No,” she replied. “But …” Her words came out in pants. “The… least likely place… There must be another way to find it…”

“The least likely place?”

At that moment, Sakura and Syaoran collided into each other, their handphones flying to the side.

“We only have 20 more minutes left!” Sakura said, catching up with Syaoran.

“There’s so many people. What is the least likely place?” Syaoran leaped around someone coming his way.

She stared at Syaoran, and then started laughing. “Hey, good idea,” Sakura said in gasps as she almost got knocked over by a burly man.

“What?” Syaoran scowled. “How can you laugh in a situation like this?”

“Those sunglasses had some use. You look so queer! But, it’s a good idea. I’ll hate to be recognized in this airport.” Sakura slipped on her sunglasses. “There! Now we both look like crazy jerks wearing sunglasses inside an airport.”

“Oh shut up. Can you really joke when the bomb will go up in 17 minutes? Come, let’s think calmly now.” (While he, himself was pacing up and down.)

“The least likely place…” Sakura frowned, her emerald eye troubled. The ticking of the clock seemed clear to her.

Suddenly, Syaoran bolted up.

“What?!” Sakura jumped up also.

“The…  airport computer system…” he croaked, choking his words out. “They are designed to pick out those kinda things. Bombs, guns, drugs… dangerous weapons…”

“So, if we can access one of the computers…”

“We can decode where the bomb is,” Syaoran finished off.

“Why didn’t we think about that before? We wasted so much time!”  Sakura paused.
They ran off to the nearest computer system, full speed.


“Mommy! Look! It’s the handsome actor! I guess that girl must be his girlfriend in the movie! They both have sunglasses!” The same little girl pointed.

“My, they are young, but they are really good at acting,” the mother commented. “They positively look scared. But, I wonder where the camera crewmen are…”

“Come, we’re gonna burst through the guards and get to the system!” Syaoran shouted.

“HEY YOU KIDS!” A guard shouted. “You come back here! Where do you think you are going? These systems are off limits! Get lost!”

“Shut up!” Syaoran slammed his fist up the man’s stomach. The guard toppled over with a moan.
“Syaoran!” Sakura stared in horror.

“Here! I’ll keep the guards away, you find out the system and where the bomb is! Hurry! I didn’t kill the guard. He only fainted. Now! More guards are coming!”

Quickly, Sakura ran to a computer. Muttering a silent apology, she used the Sleep card on the woman working on it. Sitting before the blue screen, Sakura stared at it in dismay. “I don’t know how to do this!”

“Figure it out!” Syaoran knocked over more guards with his fist.

Another man in blue uniform approached him. “You, kid! Tell the truth! You are a spy from another country, right?”

Sweatdropping, Syaoran pointed to himself and muttered, “Me! A spy? Ha ha… Very funny.”

“What the hell do you think you are doing then? What’s with the sunglasses? Well, there’s no vital information on the hard drive. Don’t you dare think that you will shut down this airport, either! I have back up forces.” The guard took out his walkie-talkie and shouted into it, “This is Guard A194! Reinforcements needed! Attack in the computer system in wing D4! I repeat, reinforcements need in wing D4!”

Frantically, Sakura was typing in words. “Syaoran! I don’t know the password! Quick!”

The guard shouted, “Ha! You won’t get away with this. Back up forces are coming up soon. And you don’t know how to enter our computer system.”

With quick reflexes, Syaoran snatched out a pocket knife from underneath his coat and swerved around, pressing it to the guards neck. In a deadly low voice, he whispered, “I knocked all those men, single-handed.” Shaking, the guard gazed around him, where several big men were sprawled across the airport floor. “Now, tell me the password to the system. It’s important.” Pressing the cool knife to the guard’s throat, he added quietly, “And your life will be saved.”

“Syaoran! What do you think you’re doing?” Sakura called out as she received another <<<ERROR IN DATA INPUT. ACCESS DENIED>>> on the computer screen.

“N-no!” The guard stammered. “I’ll never tell! I’ll lose my job, my whole reputation! I work for one of the most important facilities in Tokyo!”

Syaoran glanced at his watch. Time was running out. Sakura desperately tried typing in more words. <ERROR><ERROR> In a dangerously low tone, Syaoran threatened, “I’ve killed before, and I’ll kill again. Tell me the password. I swear it is for nothing to harm anyone. It is rather to save all your stupid lives. NOW!” Syaoran jerked the man to the ground.

“H-hamburger,” the guard stuttered.

Puzzled, Syaoran retorted, “What?!”

“Hamburger. That’s the password.”

In disbelief, Syaoran muttered, “What kind of password is that?” But Sakura wasted no time in typing it in <HAMBURGER>

“My boss made it. Ask him,” mumbled the guard. Yet, already, Syaoran had placed a ward paper on his forehead, and the man fell to the ground, asleep.

Quickly, Sakura clicked on the mouse, and started searching.

“Did you find it?” Syaoran asked.

“Wait.” Typing in another word, Sakura continued to wander through the files.

“Hurry! We only have 12 minutes left. I can hear more guards coming.”

“I’m almost finished. Here.” Gathering her wits, Sakura pressed <ENTER> “Found it! I’m pretty sure it’s this red blinking light!”

Squinting, they stared at the blueprint of the airport on the computer screen with the blinking red spot in the corner.

“Where is that?” Sakura asked.

In the background, she could here shouting of guards, “Where are they? It must bet there! Catch them!”
Clicking the mouse on the spot, Syaoran scanned over the data that emerged. “That must be the furnace! In the basement!” Bolting, up, they began to run for the exit back stairway. Syaoran snatched the keys from the sleeping guard’s belt.

“It’s them! They’re escaping! Catch them!” One of the guards shouted.

“Hurry! Run! Only 10 minutes left!” Syaoran dodged one of the guards who made a grab for him. “For the exit stairway!”

Heart thumping, Sakura ran, her muscles straining from exhaustion. Was it enough time? Will they reach in time? The seconds, minutes ticked away. 9 minutes left. She stumbled. A harsh hand made a grab for her arm.

“Ha! Caught you!” The guard shouted. “Funny, a little girl like you turned out to be a spy on Japan!”

“Spy? What are you talking about Let me go! There’s a bomb installed in this airport. It’s going off in less than 10 minutes!” Sakura squirmed.

“Don’t think you’ll get away with that! I’ve learned not to judge people by looks! Just cause you’re a little girl doesn’t mean you’ll get away with this.”

Frustrated, Syaoran kicked the man’s side. “I know you’re stupid, but can’t you tell when someone’s urgent?”

“What do you think you are doing?” The man snatched Syaoran’s arm.

“Run! Go first! Time! 8 more minutes!” Syaoran shouted, tossing Sakura the keys.

Catching it deftly, Sakura called, “Hurry, come fast!”

“Catch the girl!” The head guards shouted. With agility, Sakura slipped through the whole stampede of guards.

“FOOLS! Can’t you even catch one girl! Chase her!”

“Oh no you don’t!“ Sighing, Syaoran wished that he could just use his magic. But, it would be too conspicuous, in such a big place as an airport. Would Sakura find it in time?


Taking great heaves of breath, Sakura fumbled with the jumble of keys to the furnace door, which was shut. Which key was it? Forcing another key into the lock, she frantically twisted and heard the click. She bolted in. Immediately, she could feel the heat radiation and the cranking of the furnaces. Looking around, she sank to the floor, looking for the explosive. 7 more minutes. On the side, she spotted a box. Marked on it was a black skeleton mask outline. Her heart skipped a beat. With trembling hands, Sakura struggled to open the box.

Just then, the furnace door her opened. She jumped.

Warily, she swerved around.

From the shadows of the furnace room emerged a figure.

“Who is it?” Sakura demanded. Could it be…

“Don’t jump. It’s me.” Syaoran said, locking the door. “They’ll come chasing soon. The airport’s havoc right now. Did you find it?”

Nodding Sakura showed the box. Inside, there was an explosive with a timer attached to it. 6 minutes left.

There was a note attached to it with the black skeleton mask in the bottom right hand corner.

So, you’ve actually found the bomb, have you? Didn’t expect you’d get this far. Well, well, it’s just the beginning. Read the following instructions and decipher the code to figure out how to turn the timer on the bomb off. It will go off at exactly 11:20, 5 minutes from now. Just a nice little warning; make a wrong move, and the bomb goes off anyway… ha ha…
Very funny. Hastily, Syaoran grabbed the paper with the instructions to turn off the timer. In dismay, Sakura stared at the hopeless garble of numbers and words. Without wasting a moment, Syaoran swept out a piece of paper and a pen and started scribbling notes and equations. Observing the structure of the bomb, he dislocated one of the complex twisting of wire in it. He stared at the instructions and mumbled to himself, I134… Desperately, he peered at the tiny labels of the wires of different colors and size, entwining with each other, connecting the bomb to the timer.

4 minutes left…

Snatching away the bomb, Sakura said, “Here, I’ll do the circuit dislocation. You decipher the code.” When she found the wire I134, she snapped it off the explosive system. “Can’t we just break all of the wire?”

“Are you crazy? One false move, and the whole bomb would explode. We have to do it in the order.” Tick tock. Tick tock… The seconds ticked away quicker than ever. Syaoran’s voice wavered as cool sweat formed on his brows. “A28, M38, W1933.”

With shaking fingers, Sakura dislocated the following wire lines. To her horror, it seemed as if hundreds of wires still remained. Yet, she knew better than to tell Syaoran to hurry. He was already trying his best.

“A202, T423, C97, H3209, I390, N423, G902.” Sakura nodded and searched for the wires.

3 minutes…

“We’re running out of time.” Sakura stared at the mass of dislocated wires.

“Wait. These last few ones don’t make much sense.”

“What’ll happen if we don’t finish in time?”

“Don’t even think about it.” Syaoran crossed out something and then circled his result. “Y822.”

Sakura could feel blisters forming on her fingers from snapping out the wire attachments from the bomb. The dislocated wires hung uselessly like narrow snakes from the circuit.

Outside, there was a shouting of guards. “They’re in there!” “Open the door!” “Can’t! It’s locked from the inside.”

“If you two are in there, come out right this second!” a man, clearly the head of the department, shouted from the other side of the door.

Tick tick tick… 2 minutes 30 seconds…

“O242, U023, I73, N63643.” Syaoran called out.

Where was it? Sakura started to lose focus and fumbled with the cords. Time. Time was running out. There were still at least 9 connected wires left.

“Stay calm. We have plenty of time. “N23532, E23, W134.” Despite his reassuring words, Syaoran’s voice reflected tension. The clues to decipher the code to cancel the timer of the bomb were getting even more difficult to comprehend. He scribbled out another formula. There was banging on the door.

2 more minutes left…

Sakura was unnerved to see the paleness of Syaoran face, despite the fact that sunglasses shaded his eyes. Maybe it was for the better, because she would have lost all hope if she could see his eyes at that moment. Only 6 more of the complex wire structure of the bomb remained, while the others were dislocated and pulled from their sockets.

I minute and 45 seconds left.

“Syaoran, we don’t have anymore time!” Each ticking of the second hand bore a stake through Sakura’s heart.

1 minute, 30 seconds…

“Come out!” Guards outside the furnace room shouted.

“Syaoran! Is this the end? Do something! See, I think these two go together.” Sakura pointed out some wires.

Syaoran gazed over the hints, frowning. He licked his dry lips and swallowed the gulp in his throat. By this time, he had lost the cool composure of his face, and he fumbled with the equations, crossing out all his work. The knuckles of his hand gripping his pen were white. Then it dawned upon him. He scribbled out some more letters. “Y324, O322, R9032, K09324,” he called our clearly.

Immediately, Sakura pulled out the wires, in that order. Two more wires attached the explosive system. One was blue, and the other one was violet. Those two were the only ones that remained in tact to the timer. Then, then, they would be safe.

“Sakura…” Syaoran said in a cracked voice. “There’s no way to figure out the last two circuit codes.”

“What do you mean?’

“It says here, ‘when you reach the last two wires, it will be pure luck. If you cut the wrong line, the bomb will explode, anyway. Is it the purple coated wire, or the blue?’” Syaoran stared at the mess before them of tangled wires with frayed ends, while the timer clock continued to tick away merrily.

“God help me. “ Turning placid, Sakura gazed at the two wires that connected the bomb system, while all the others hung dangling uselessly in a jumble.

1 minute left…

“Which one is it?” Sakura asked. “Which one? Choose the wrong one, and the bomb will explode, kill all the people, damage this whole airport, my friends, brother.” Her eyes blurred… I’ll lose you, too… This was a no win situation. Leave the bomb for one more minute, and it will explode, but cut the wrong wire, it would also explode. This is too sudden, too unexpected.

45 seconds…

Placing her hand over her heart, Sakura took a deep breath. Her hand covered where her crystal star necklace, Syaoran’s Christmas present, lay underneath her shirt. Syaoran… he didn’t even say thank you for the embroidery of the wolf she gave him. She had worked on it for month, dropped blood for it, spent whole nights, so much time and anguish. He didn’t even acknowledge that he received it. I guess he didn’t like it…
“Well, let’s get over with it.” Syaoran reached for the blue wire.


“What?” We have 30 seconds left now.” Syaoran buried his head in his hands. “We have no choice.

Just 30 more seconds left…

Can things end like this? So many things to say, so many things I want to do. Syaoran… Sakura took a breath. “Syaoran? I’ll cut the wire.”

“If you insist,” Syaoran muttered, shrugging his shoulders. He clenched his fist tight, his knuckles turning paler.

“Do you seriously think we’ll let this bomb explode?” Sakura asked.

“Clow Reed said that there was no such thing as chance, that everything is already planned out by fate.”

Smiling slightly, Sakura said, “Yet, all the same, I do believe in luck and chance. I believe I am the one that makes my decisions…”

15 seconds left…


“I—never mind. It’s nothing. I just felt like calling your name…” Maybe for the last time… no… I know we’ll survive this. Syaoran, I just want to say your name in my head a million times. There was an empty aching feeling in my heart for so long, when you were gone, in Hong Kong. I didn’t want to accept what it was… I should think that feeling should be gone, but it’s still in me. I should be content with all that I have, but there’s always something that I want more, that is out of my reach. I can’t help it. But, why? Why do I wish you would reassure me like you used to, be by my side and help me be strong?

10 seconds…

“It’s my turn to say ‘trust me.’” Sakura closed her eyes shut tightly. “Trust me to make the right choice.”

“You’re not planning to do it with your eyes closed, are you?” Syaoran asked in shock.


“Yes. It’s either the blue one, or the purple one.” Sakura placed the bomb on her lap. I’m glad it’s Syaoran beside me, not anyone else.

7, 6,

“Hurry! 5 seconds left.” Syaoran turned his head away.

Heaving a deep breath, Sakura gripping a wire; whether it was the blue or purple one, she did not know. Okay, this is it. What if? What if it wasn’t the right one?

5, 4, 3, 2… 1

“NOW!” As Syaoran shouted, Sakura pulled out the wire. 0.

A loud BANG of explosion was heard. Syaoran threw his body and Sakura’s to the floor.

Sakura clenched her eyes shut. It exploded. The bomb exploded. She waited for the rippling fire, the explosion to shake through her body. But nothing came.

She held her breath and waited. But nothing came.

Cautiously, she peeked up. But nothing came. Colorful rainbow streamers were floating down. Along with it was a note.

Well, how did you like my little surprise? Yes, scared you, didn’t it? Well, you chose the right line. If you cut the other one, there really would have been a real nasty explosions. It’s a good thing that you survived, though it was pure luck, because I won’t be able to have fun if everything was destroyed under the explosive. For the fun is just about to begin! Next time, will be much bigger and fancier.

 For a moment, Syaoran and Sakura sat there, in the furnace room of the airport, breathless and stunned.

“You can breathe, now.” Sakura said, giving a sigh of relief.

Collecting the scribble of notes and equations he wrote down to decipher the bomb code, he said, “Look at this. The wire number coding.”

“I134, A28, M38, W1933, A202, T423, C97, H3209, I390, N423, G902 Y822, O242, U023, I73, N63643, N23532, E23, W134, Y324, O322, R9032, K09324,” Sakura listed off. “So, what about that?”

“Look at it carefully. The alphabet letter in the beginning of each code. See?”

I134 A28 M38 W1933 A202 T423 C97 H3209 I390 N423 G902 Y822 O242 U023 I73 N63643 N23532 E23 W134 Y324 O322 R9032 K09324. Now do you get it?”

For a moment, Sakura pondered over it. Then she exclaimed, “I AM WATCHING YOU IN NEW YORK! That’s what the wire numbering code spells out!”


“Which means this is just the beginning. We will be followed in New York, too.” Sakura frowned. Who would be watching her? In New York. A shiver ran down her spine. Now, the uneasiness she felt about the trip doubled.

Bang! Bang! “YOU TWO KIDS! COME OUT THIS INSTANCE!” A guard called from outside, banging on the door.

“Oh dear, there they go again.” Sakura sighed.

“Well, we’ll handle them all right, as usual.” Syaoran cracked his knuckles.

Suddenly, Sakura drew back from him, her emerald eyes widened.

“What?” Syaoran asked, baffled.

Shaking her head, Sakura tried to head towards the door.

“Why are you looking at me like that? Did I do something bad?”

At last, Sakura stammered, “D-did you really kill a person before?”

Brightly, he replied with ease, “Sure I did! In Hong Kong, I was in a clan and we slit the throats of people who betrayed us.

Blood turning cold, Sakura tried to back off from him.

Coolly, he asked, “Why? What’s the matter?”

“Y-you, you murdered people and you can speak so easily like that? You…”

At that moment, Syaoran’s eyes bulged and he doubled over. After a while, Sakura figured out that he was laughing his head off.

“Hoe! What are you laughing? What’s so funny?” Sakura placed her hands on her hips.

Gasping for breath, Syaoran answered, “You are so funny, Sakura. I don’t know what I’ll do without you to cheer me up.”

Scowling, she muttered, “So? I don’t see what’s so funny about me, or about murdering.”

“Do you really think that I would really kill a person?”

“But you told the guard at the computers that you’ve killed before and will kill again.”

“Well, I had to do something to find out the password. And it worked.”

“But, the knife…” Sakura trailed off.

“This?” From his coat pocket, he drew out an elegantly designed pocketknife with a gold handle, engraved with a dragon with an eye of emerald.

Sakura drew back at the sight of the knife. Syaoran flicked the silver blade out, and thrust it out in front of her face; she skipped a breath.

“This knife used to be my father’s,” Syaoran said. Dryly, he added, “And the blade is so blunt, it can’t even cut a piece of paper, let alone slit someone’s throat. I just held it out to the guard to give him a good scare.”

“So, you’ve never killed anyone before?”

“No, I’ve never killed anything. Really, you are so gullible. How can you believe that I will actually harm something, let alone kill? No wonder your friends always make fun of you.”

Furiously, Sakura pounded on Syaoran’s arm and retorted, “Look who’s talking! I hate you! You are so mean. What? Gullible? Fine, I believe things when I hear them. I’m stupid, okay?”

“Now, you’re lying. You know that you aren’t stupid. There’s no need to get offended.” On the side, he muttered, “Ow, that hurts.”

“I’m not talking to you! You know how much you scared me? I’d hate to think someone I thought as a good person to be crooked, a murderer. Now, you laugh it off, saying it’s a joke? Humph. Don’t even stay within a 1 meter radius to me!”

“Fine! Can’t you even take a joke! Relax, for god’s sake.”

“Relax after being threatened by a bomb? What a nice thing to say! Guess you, who are so well-trained, skilled and marvelous wouldn’t have felt nervous. Well, I’m stupid, so I get scared over little things. I’m scared of ghosts, thunder storms, airplanes, bombs…” She trailed off, biting back the urge to kick him all of a sudden. Then she glanced at her watch, temporarily forgetting her fury. “Oh no! 11:25! It’s 5 minutes left till our plane flight. Onii-chan would kill me. Hurry, let’s burst through the guards.”

Adjusting their sunglasses, they bolted the door open, and ran out.

“CATCH THEM!” The guards shouted, chasing after them.

Running up the exit stair way, Syaoran asked, “What gate are we?”

“Gate 15.”

“Okay, it’s to the left, then.”

They emerged into the crowd of people in the airport. The footsteps of the guards echoed behind them. 3 minutes till the airplane departure.

“Will they put us in jail if they catch us?” Sakura asked.

“Yes, and we’ll be accused of treason and be handed over to government officials,” Syaoran answered.

“Really? Are you serious?”

“I’m kidding. Jeez, you believe everything. Ha. Did I really murder a person? Yeah, really.”

Biting back her anger, Sakura retorted nastily, “Well, sorry. After all, you grew up in a different background, different lifestyle. Of course I would expect you to have strange styles. It’s not like I know much about you, not that either of us care. You’re so different from me, that’s why!”

You’re so different from me… A pang ran through him. Syaoran clenched his fists, and sprinted ahead.

Trying to catch up, Sakura thought, Uh oh, he’s really mad now. I shouldn’t have said that. I think it hurt him, very much. It was very nasty of me. The sign the Syaoran didn’t answer her and that his face was cool and expressionless signified that he was really mad, not the kind of joking mad after a little squabble.

“Syaoran? Where do we go now?” Sakura asked after a silence.

He didn’t answer, but walked slower through the hallway.

Well, it’s not like he’s faultless either. How can he mock me like that? He thinks I’m a toy that he can play with! He once said that same thing himself, that he’s different from me. He never cares about my feelings, and always thinks he’s the best and he’s right. A tiny voice in the back of her reminded her, Sakura, you’re not being truthful to yourself, either. I hate him. No. But I know I’m lying.

“Flight number 082. Flight number 082, Tokyo to New York will be departing. All on board, now,” came the voice on the intercom.

Great. 2 minutes left. They shoved their way through the crowd. The guards were no longer chasing them, losing them in the bustling of people. 1 minute left…

“We’re really gonna miss this flight!” Sakura exclaimed.

“It won’t be my fault.”

“Look, Gate 15, head straight down this hallway!”

They burst into a full speed race down the airplane corridor.

“Sakura-chan! Li-kun! Here!” Tomoyo waved her hand. “I knew you would come on time!”

“Sakura! Where in the world have you been? How can you run off like that, you little…” Touya was cut off by Yukito.

“Well, just in time. We better board now. We’re the very last passengers.”

“Oh ho ho! Guess you two took my advise!” Tomoyo whipped out her video camera. Syaoran and Sakura stared back, puzzled.

“Ha ha ha!” Meirin pointed at them. “What’s with the sunglasses?”

“What?!” They both whipped if off, embarrassed.

“It looks cool! Leave it on!” Tomoyo exclaimed.

“We’re really going to miss the flight,” Touya said.

In the background, guards were shouting, “Did you find them! No, they disappeared!”

“Umm… Let’s board now,” Sakura said, pushing everyone along.

Finally, Sakura, Syaoran, Tomoyo, Meirin, Eron, Erika, Touya, and Yukito all boarded the Japan Airlines safely, heading towards John F. Kennedy Airport, New York.

Needless to say, Sakura and Syaoran slept through the whole 12 hour trip.

I’m never going to speak to Syaoran again! Sakura thought, resolutely. Oh dear… this is just the beginning of a great trip, and I’m already not on speaking terms with Syaoran… When are those good old childhood days when I never felt ticked off and angry?


“We’re finally in New York!!!” Sakura exclaimed, dragging her suitcase along.

“Right! New York, where anything may await!” Tomoyo scanned the large John F. Kennedy Airport, New York, as they stepped out of the luggage claiming area.

“A limousine’s supposed to pick us up, right?” Meirin swerved around, nearly knocking off Syaoran’s head.

“Wow, there’s even more people than in Tokyo!” Erika commented, awed.

“Do you want me to carry your bag for you Sakura?” Eron asked.

“Umm, I’m fine. Thanks!” Sakura smiled. Touya eyed the pretty boy with perfect manners, but with something suspicious about his eyes, his grace.

“OH MY GOSH YOU MUST BE LI SYAORAN!!!” Out of the mass of people, a striking girl with short chin length auburn hair framing her pretty heart shaped face emerged. She threw her arms around him and squeezed him in a friendly hug. “I’ve wanted to meet you so much!”

Everybody was baffled. “Do you know her?” asked Eron.

“No,” Syaoran replied.

“What is she doing?” Sakura shouted in rage.

“Who are you? Get off of my fiancee!” Meirin shrieked.

The new girl looked up at Meirin and said, “Not anymore. You broke the engagement several years ago, remember? ‘Cause he didn’t love you back the way you wanted him to.’”

As Meirin was about to fume, Sakura placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder.

Critically swerving around to Sakura, the flighty short-haired girl declared, “You’re not that pretty, you know. Not even as cute as the movie about you made out. You look older, now, too. In some ways, I still was expecting a 10 year old. Oh well. But Syaoran-san is completely amazing! He looks even better now. He’s tall, too, and handsome. I completely fell for his marvelous martial arts skill, sword fighting skill, his lovely scowl…”

Syaoran choked and Meirin sympathetically patted his back. Sakura stifled a giggle… lovely scowl… poor Syaoran. But what an annoying girl… Hope I don’t have to put up with her through the whole trip.

“Who are you? Do you even know us?” asked Meirin.

“Oh dear! I know everything about you! From the video that Tomoyo-san directed. Oh, I guess I forgot to introduce myself.” The girl stepped back, grinning. She was evidently one or two years younger that Sakura and the rest and had mischievous clear grayish eyes, setting off a very pretty face, her rich reddish-tinted auburn hair glossily brushing her chin. Somehow, she look familiar in some ways, though Sakura could not place how. “My name is Miho Tanaka. Please call my Miho! The president of CompTech is my uncle.

“President of CompTech?!” Everyone exclaimed.

“Right. I came here to meet you all, since I was so curious to find out more about the talented cast of from the video Card Captor Sakura and Friends. Of course, I escaped my bodyguards, but oh well.”

Turning to Tomoyo, Miho commented, “I think that you are the prettiest out of all the girls. Probably the nicest and talented, too.”

“Oh ho ho, thank you Miho-san,” Tomoyo smiled. Erika, Meirin, and Sakura all glared at Miho.

Then, observing Eron, Miho commented peering at him with her wide gray eyes, she commented, “Wow, you’re the most prettiest boy I’ve ever seen. I love your hair! Hope to get to know you well!” Then to Touya, she commented, “Are you really her sister?” She pointed at Sakura. ”Wow, how can such a handsome, perfect brother have a little sister like that?”

“What? You…” Sakura struggled against Tomoyo, who tried to settle her.

Before a dispute occurred, to Sakura and Syaoran, Miho asked, “So, are you two still going out? You don’t really match with each other, you know.”

“What do you mean still going out…” Touya muttered.

Syaoran and Sakura glared at each other, then turned their heads around, crossing their arms.

“Err… I guess not,” concluded Miho. “Well, I’ll be your guide, and hope you enjoy your stay in New York.” She smiled beautifully, looking like a sweet girl for once.

“Well, I think I understand what she meant, now,” Miho murmured passing by Touya.

For a moment, Touya narrowed his eyes and stared at the auburn headed, spunky girl. Then he tossed his suspicion aside.

They rode the long black limousine to the Plaza Hotel…

I am watching you in New York… Sakura swerved around in the car, as if someone was trailing her. Who was watching her? Was that person, if a person, following her at that moment? And that Miho girl got on her nerves, and she stifled by her presence. I can’t believe she is so familiar about us, when it’s none of her business. And it doesn’t help that Syaoran and I are mad at each other. What will now await this trip?

I’ll be watching you in New York… Who and why?

Wish-chan: Well, this is just another beginning... Gee I wonder who... Actually things get pretty complicated from now on... Now, who is Miho? Find out next chapter. Poor Sakura and Syaoran are not talking to each other again. I wonder how long it will last this time. ^_^. Oh, and remember the golden hilted knife.