New York City, The Plaza Hotel…
“Wow, this hotel is absolutely amazing!” Sakura exclaimed. Her eyes had bulged at the great massive Christmas tree at the center reaching the ceiling, which was still up since it was soon after Christmas, the extensive hallways and beautiful art and decoration, expensive furniture, the richly carpeted floor, and the romantic elegance.
After checking in, the bell-boy led them to their luxury suite, room 808. There were two massive rooms, one for the girls, one for the guys, adjoined in the center by a grand living room. Their jaws hung open, for it hardly seemed like a hotel room.
“Look at all the food in the refrigerator! And 3 television sets, one in each room. This living room is absolutely amazing! Look at the couches,” Meirin exclaimed.
“Did you see the bedrooms?” Erika asked enthusiastically.
“No… Wow… Look at the bathrooms… gold rimmed ivory tubs. And these fluffy, huge beds that bounce up and down!” Meirin jumped on the bed.
“Did you see the view?” Sakura drew aside the velvet curtains. “It’s the beautiful Central Park, frosted sugary with snow.”
“Wow, this is absolutely amazing!” Erika plopped down on a sofa.
Touya, Syaoran, and Eron sweat-dropped, muttering, “Girls…”
“It is a beautiful view,” Yukito reassured Sakura. “The snow is pretty…”
It was snowing on the day Clow Reed died. But Yukito-san won’t remember any of that stuff, now… Sakura gazed up at the person who she so blindly believed to like, years ago… And she almost lost… never mind… But if she wasn’t so blind…
“So, should we unpack first?” asked Tomoyo.
“Of course not! We’re starting the fun immediately!” Meirin exclaimed.
“The first thing on the agenda is a tour of the CompTech building and facilities and meeting the faculty,” Sakura read off the tour guide.
“This building is huge!” Sakura exclaimed. They walked into the massive doors of the CompTech main building.
“Oh it’s only one of the buildings. There’s more in New York, and internationally.” Miho lead them through the hallway, as they awed over the great technology, computer systems, and interesting gadgets. Great, she’s our guide, thought Sakura.
“Why do you keep doing that?” Erika asked, irritated.
“What?” Sakura asked.
“Twitching your head back like that, as if you’re looking behind you.”
“Oh sorry.” Biting her lip, Sakura had the feeling as if someone was shadowing her.
Eventually, they came to the film-making section of the building.
A man with a staff jacket exclaimed, “Why, you guys must be part of the CCS movie crew! Ah, Miss Tomoyo Daidouji, it’s a pleasure to meet such a talented young lady.”
“Thank you. But it wasn’t my talent. It’s ‘cause I had such a perfect cast!” Tomoyo gazed proudly at Syaoran and Sakura who looked down, blushing.
Another staff member peered at Syaoran and asked, “How did you ever learn such perfect martial arts and sword fighting? Was it a trick of the camera?”
The costume coordinator came out and started floundering Tomoyo with questions such as, “How in the world did you manage to create all those superb costumes? How about the costume for the cast members of the cards? How did you ever manage the flying scenes?”
Another man asked Touya, “Are you sure you don’t want to take on a modeling career? We’ll sign you on a contract, right away. You’re just perfect for the job, I mean, tall, well built, broad shoulders, not to mention a good looking face!”
“Err… It’s okay…” Touya sweat-dropped. “I have other things in mind.”
Sakura whispered behind him, “Don’t believe the compliments, onii-chan.”
“Kaijou!” Touya strangled Sakura.
Walking up to the gentle, smiling Yukito, a nosy staff member commented, “I don’t see how such a friendly, kind looking person can look so cold and distant as Yue.”
“Really?” Yukito asked coolly. For a split second, his face turned expressionless, his eyes half shut and cool, and he instantly looked like the different, arrogant, icy Yue.
“N-never mind. I think I understand now…” the man stammered, wiping sweat off his brows.
Blinking, Sakura checked to see if she saw Yukito-san right. How much about the Clow business did he remember? She was pretty sure he didn’t remember his Yue self any longer, but was she correct? Yet, when she looked again, he was back to his normal, smiling self.
“Are you two girls twins?” Yet another staff member exclaimed. Erika and Eron sweat dropped.
“I’m a guy!” Eron said.
“But you’re so pretty! Plus your hair’s tied back, so…”
Tomoyo giggled. “Poor Eron-kun. That’s what happens when you are so good-looking.”
“I say,” an elegant woman in a Chanel suit commented, peering at Sakura and Syaoran, “After being in such a dramatic movie together, don’t you two feel any… er, pure physical attractions toward each other. I mean, you two have been through a lot together, plus you’re older now and everything. There must be some bond between you two.”
Blushing furiously, they both shouted, “NO!”
With a pounding heart, Sakura looked sideways at Syaoran. So far, New York was driving her out of her mind. We have been through a lot, together, though.
As she glanced away again, Syaoran stared at her. We have been through a lot… And will we go through a lot more?
Their eyes met, however, Sakura looked away quickly, her emerald eyes downcast. Strange… I can’t look him straight in the eye anymore…
Sighing, Syaoran bent down to fiddle with
his shoelace. Strange… she doesn’t look into my eyes anymore… It seems
as if she can’t. I wonder why.
At that moment, the head of the department plopped down on a chair, exclaiming in despair, “I still don’t get how a young girl could actually think up such a complicated plot, let alone carry it out with a cast that is so believable, that you are drawn right into the video and everything seems so real! Miss Kinomoto, Mr. Li, I can’t understand how actresses and actors so young could be so convincing.”
“Oh ho ho…” Tomoyo laughed… Explanations would be hard to find. “Well… I just videotaped and the rest came naturally.”
“We felt as a part of the script!” Sakura stammered. “Yeah, the whole thing came alive for us.”
“Right,” Miho whispered out of the side of her mouth. “When the Clow Card Book was opened, everything unraveled and seemed unreal. Yet it was true, so true. And Clow Reed’s twisted minded drew up more and more trouble. No wonder the video seemed so real. It was real. Magic still exists in this world, as even Clow Reed does. This is one complicated world.”
Widening her eyes Sakura stared at the clear gray eyes of Miho Tanaka. She gazed around. No one else had heard. Who was this girl? Was she joking? No.
“Come, let’s continue looking around!” Miho exclaimed innocently. Everywhere she went, people greeted her respectively, since she was the niece of their boss.
“What? She said that?” Syaoran asked, surprised. “You must have heard wrong.”
“No, I heard right.” Sakura walked off, after telling him what Miho had said.
Pouting, she walked along the side. Miho
drew up her suspicion, while Syaoran… Didn’t Miho ask if they were still
a couple? As if we ever were a couple. Who cares about that stupid boy?
One precious day back into years gone by, she had wept into his arms, crying
because of Yukito-san’s refusal of her. What a foolish girl she had been
then. Yet, he had been so caring and… it was funny how stupid childhood
memories could be drawn back by a single video.
“It’s her!” Someone shouted.
“Hoe?” Sakura turned around. A young man carrying a camera ran up to her.
“You’re the one!” He twirled around her, observing her in all directions. “Yup. You’re just the right one.” He snapped some shots, blinding her with the light.
Another, older man came walking behind. “You mean her? She’s that girl in the video that won the Talented Young Director Contest. Except, she’s older now.” He stuffed a cigarette into his mouth. Sakura coughed at the smoke. “I’m not quite sure.”
“No! I’m sure she’ll do fine. Where can you find someone like this?” The young man replied, his eyes shining, rivaling with Tomoyo’s look of rapture.
“Well, she’s not exactly pretty, you know,” the older man replied. “The other girls are prettier.” For a moment, Sakura scowled. She knew she was not stunningly beautiful like some girls, but that didn’t mean that people had to rub it in.
“But doesn’t she resemble that girl in the painting, “The Smiling Angel?” The one exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Arts. There’s just something striking about this girl, something like an inner glow, which I know we must use for the ad.”
“Not really. They’re practically the opposites. Now, the model for that painting must have been a real beauty.” The man dropped his cigarette on the floor, and shuffled it out with his foot.
“Look at the eyes, those clear, laughing eyes! And the smile .The smile wins it all. I’ve got to use this girl!” The cameraman tried focusing his lens on Sakura, zooming in.
“Excuse me, but will you please tell me what you are talking me about?” Sakura interrupted.
“Ah, my apology, Miss Kinomoto, was it?” The handsome young cameraman placed out a smooth white hand. “My name is Mike Kant. As you can see, I’m a cameraman. That fat guy is Mr. Tweed, who I signed a contract with, for a commercial ad. We were just pondering over the possibilities of who to choose for our model, but this stupid oaf doesn’t have eyes.”
Fuming, Mr. Tweed said, “The stupid oaf happens to be the boss of a prominent commercial company, in alliance with CompTech.” Glaring at Mike, he said, “And if Mr. Mike Kant didn’t happen to be the most popular and skilled cameraman, young as he is, in the whole of New York City, I would not stand his impertinence and rudeness.”
“Please, Mr. Tweed, dear, I mean no harm. But I’m using Miss Kinomoto as my model, or no one else, and the contract will be off,” Mike stated, flicking back his blond hair.
“Fine, do what ever you want. You know best about advertising, and I’ve got to trust you. Just hurry up with it. You’ve been looking for a teen model for weeks. Since you found one, find a male counter model, as well. Quickly.” Shrugging his shoulder, he trotted down the hallway.
“So, Miss Kinomoto, are you interested in becoming the model for the new clothing advertisement?”
“M-me?” Sakura stammered, her head swirling. “A-are you serious? But I’m just staying here for a week, with my friends.”
“Oh, that will be no problem. Taking the photo would only take a few hours. I just need your consent and signature with this contract.” Mike handed out a form. “Of course, you would also get paid. Unfortunately, since you are new to this industry, you would only be paid several thousand dollars. But that’s okay! It’s a good beginning!”
“Several thousand dollars!” Sakura’s eyes bulged.
“Of course she will do it! I knew someone would discover her!” Out of nowhere popped Tomoyo. Evidently, her interview with the company executives ended.
“You are soooo lucky!” Squealed Meirin. “Can’t I be a model, too?”
“I’m quite sure I’m much prettier! Why not me?” asked Erika, tossing her head.
“Hoe-e. That’s right. Erika-chan is prettier,” Sakura said truthfully.
“Well, this may sound odd, but it’s not really you who attracted me,” Mike commented. “As I said, you remind me of one of my favorite paintings. You should go check it out at the Metropolitan Museum.”
“It’s on our schedule, I think,” Sakura said.
“But you also remind me of someone else. My older sister was a model in Japan. And at that time, she had a rival. And that rival was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my life. You don’t really resemble her at first appearance, but just something about the eyes and the smile. Oh I don’t know. But I remember her name was Nadeshiko Kinomoto. Do you know her by any chance? Same last name, isn’t it?”
Eyes turning misty, Sakura said, “She was my mother. But she’s dead now.”
Clucking his tongue, he muttered, “Good heavens, her mother? Dead?” Then he asked, “Deal, then?” Mike took out the contract papers.
“Ummm…” Sweatdropping, Sakura signed it, urged by Tomoyo.
“Great!” Buoyantly, Mike asked, “I’ll contact you for further advancement, later on. But for now, do you mind just standing under the light, for a moment. I just want to check out how you look under the camera.
Bashfully, Sakura was led under a set. She blinked at the glaring lights, feeling foolish and baffled.
Mike called out through his camera, “Wow,
with the using of lighting effects, the possible results will be dazzling.”
“WATCH OUT!” Someone called.
Surprised, Sakura gazed up. A heavy sand bag, a part of the set prop was crashing down, right above her. She had no chance to move.
Behind the backstage curtain, someone commanded, “Key that hides forces of darkness. Show your true self to me. I, Miho command you under contract. Release!”
At that moment, the sandbag froze in the air. This gave a second for Sakura to escape. Quickly, Sakura slipped away. Then she swerved around. Miho stood off in the corner, and as her gray eyes flickered, the sand bag crashed down once more, in the very spot that Sakura had been standing few seconds ago.
“Gosh, I’m so sorry, Miss. The ropes we used to hold that bad up were too old. I’m so sorry,” the set manager apologized.
Mike ran over to her. “Are you all right?
I almost lost my model! I can’t believe such a thing could happen!”
“It’s all right,” Sakura brushed it off. Then she narrowed her brilliant emerald eyes. She was pretty sure that Miho had saved her, a moment ago, by freezing the bag in the air for a second. How? Surely it could not be… How did she have the staff? The same as her. She only knew 2 people who had the staff. Herself, and Eriol, alias Clow Reed. Who exactly was Miho Tanaka? And was someone intentionally trying to kill her?
I’m watching you in New York…
“Meirin, Eron and I’m going to visit the costume department,” announced Erika. “We’ll meet you here in an hour. And how come you get to be a model? Not fair!”
“What are you going to do now, Sakura-chan?” Tomoyo asked. “Mike’s gonna contact you later, right? I just can’t believe someone at last agreed with me! Your mother was a model, after all.”
“He he... There’s so many things to do in this building.” Sakura said lightly. She hadn’t told anyone of her narrow escape. Not even Syaoran. She was pretty sure that someone had deliberately tried to injure her.
“Let’s just look around. Are you coming, too, Li-kun?” Tomoyo questioned.
“Eh? I guess.”
“Okay, where should we go next?” Sakura wondered aimlessly down the hallway. Then, she collided into someone, and toppled over onto her bottom.
“Ouch.” Rubbing her back, she tried to get up again and murmur an apology.
A smooth, gently voice asked, “Are you all right? Sorry for my mistake. Here, let me help you up.”
That voice. To her embarrassment, the person gently took her hands and supported her up. “Ah, it’s nice to meet you again, Sakura-san. As radiant as ever, aren’t you?”
“Do you know me…” Sakura gazed up at the soft midnight blue eyes, the dark glossy hair perfectly parted in the middle, and graceful manner. It took her another second to recognize him. “Eriol-kun!”
Sitting in a lounging room, Sakura took another big gulp of tea. “I can’t believe I didn’t recognize you at first! But what in the world are you doing in New York? Aren’t you supposed to be in England?”
“Well, actually, it’s a long story. But what brings you to New York, out of all places, Sakura-san? It was a pleasant surprise!”
“Oh come on. I bet you see everything that will happen the next day in your dreams, in your sleep,” Syaoran said dryly.
“I used to, but I mostly gave up on my magic, recently.” Eriol took a sip of tea, also, hiding a smile.
“He’s trying to live a normal life of a boy,” Suppi-chan said, emerging from behind the coach.
“Suppi-chan!” Sakura exclaimed. “You’re here, too?”
“Reading as usual, too,” Eriol added. “But now, he reads shoujo mangas, too.”
“Do not!” Suppi retorted.
Turning pale, Tomoyo commented, “Which reminds me… Sakura-chan, your bag!”
“My bag?” Then, Sakura remembered. Fuddling to the bottom of her bag, she removed all the junk, the books and paper, drawing out… Kero-chan! “Kero-chan, are you okay!”
Spiral eyed, Kero-chan fluttered his wings and collapsed on the table.
“Oh dear,” Tomoyo said. “We totally forgot about him.”
“Just feed him some junk food,” Eriol suggested.
After being fed, Kero-chan was completely revived. “SAKURA-CHAN~ How could you forget me? I nearly suffocated! I nearly died because…” Then suddenly, Kero-chan flew over to Eriol and asked, “What are you doing here?”
Suppi-chan replied, “As he was saying, it’s a long story.”
“Yuki! Yuki! What’s the matter?” Touya asked, widening his blue eyes.
Yukito’s eyes narrowed. Suddenly, he fell unconscious and was surrounded by a glowing light. Levitating off the ground, vast feathery wings enveloped him. When he emerged, he gave a toss of his long silvery hair and his slit eyes flickered. The metallic earring clipped to his left earlobe glistened.
“Yue! You again?” Touya exclaimed. “What happened? Is anything wrong with my sister? I thought…”
In his cool light tenor voice, Yue replied, “I have reawakened because of strong powers calling all around of me. Follow me.”
Touya had to run to catch up with Yue, who floated lightly over the hallway. Luckily, no one ran into them.
“You can hear my story later,” Eriol said, crossing his legs. “So, how have you been doing for the past, let’s see… 2, 3 years? Sakura-san, you grew prettier than ever. I like your new hairstyle. Please don’t glare at me, Li-san. It gives me a headache. Are things all nice an peaceful, now, Card Mistress?”
At that moment, Yue burst into the lounging room. Tomoyo, Sakura, Syaoran, Eriol, Kero-chan, and Suppi-chan all swerved around.
“Yue!” They all exclaimed. Sakura frowned. Yue was revived? But wasn’t he supposed to be… Well, at that moment, Yue looked a trifle bothered and annoyed. Behind him followed Touya. “Onii-chan!” Immediately, Kero resumed his doll position.
“Why are you here?” Yue asked as the first thing.
In surprise, Touya exclaimed upon seeing Eriol, “You, you are…”
“Ahh, pleased to see you all,” Eriol said, bowing slightly.
“Wait a second.” Touya started to turn placid. “If you are here,” Touya stared at Eriol. “That can only mean that…”
There was a loud patter of footsteps and a loud voice shouting, “Do I smell something delicious? Can it be after so long… TOUYA-KUN!” Out of the doorway, Nakuru jumped out, flinging her arms around Touya and hanging off the floor, her maroon hair swishing into his face. “I missed you sooooooooooooo much, Touya-kun! I never have any fun these days.”
Sighing, Touya said, “Of course, it is Nakuru. Oh dear.”
“Did you miss me? Do you want to kiss me? But please don’t diss me!” Nakuru sang, refusing to let go of Touya’s neck. “Let’s have some fun, Touya-kun.” Narrowing her ruby eyes, Nakuru commented to Yue, “Still can’t get over the fact that Clow ditched you? Well face the fact. You’re dumped and no longer needed. Ho ho ho!”
“As imposing as ever, aren’t you, Ruby Moon,” Yue commented placidly. “Well, nothing much worth talking about, today. I’m going back.”
“Come now, let’s get along, we’re past the enmity stage,” Eriol said, smiling. “Oh yes, what happened to your face, Li-san?”
Immediately, Syaoran dropped the immense scowl that had been building up on his face. Out of all people, why Eriol? And why in New York, instead of back in England, where he belonged. “What?”
“Well, I just thought that you learned to smile more in Japan. Of course, things might have changed ever since you went back to Hong Kong.” Blandly, Eriol added, his blue eyes twinkling, “I do wonder what brought you back to Japan, though. I thought all your business was finished.”
Laughing, Tomoyo added, “As sharp as ever, aren’t you? But, let’s say that things have been pretty disappointing as far as progress and bonds.”
“Ah, is that so?” Eriol asked, with a comprehending nod.
“Hoe? I don’t get it,” Sakura said, eyes wide.
“Neither do I,” backed Syaoran. Then, they remembered that they were mad at each other and looked away.
“Oh dear. I see what you mean,” Eriol added. “Well, I might have some fun after so long! Time to get to action.” A sly, cunning smile masked his face for the first time in months.
That night, Sakura tossed and turned in her immense, soft bed in the Plaza hotel. Tomoyo was asleep in the bed beside her, as well as Meirin and Erika on the further end. They seemed to have no side effects from jet-lag. So many things happened that day, so that her mind swam. Miho, with her strange powers. There was something behind those innocent gray eyes. Plus, she reminded her of someone… who? Then, there was that modeling contract with Mike Kant. She couldn’t believe it! In New York, too! Then, Eriol. Strange. She never got around to asking him what he was doing in New York. Plus, Yue was revived. In a way, she was glad, since she would need all the help she could get in the future. Yet, she wanted Yukito-san at least to have some peace of mind. Then, there was Touya onii-chan, with his problem over Nakuru-san, not to mention Erika. Meanwhile, Eron puzzled her as much as ever. Most of all, who sent the bomb, and who was the person, if a person, that was watching her. And she was pretty sure that Miho had saved her from the falling sand bag, or had she? And how did she know so much? Of course, she was the president of the company’s niece, and she knew all about the CCS video. Yet, she said that she knew everything. How much did she know? Syaoran… it didn’t help that they were not on speaking terms. By then, Sakura couldn’t even remember what they fought over, just that she had been furious with him.
At last, Sakura bolted up out of the drowning softness of the sheets and pillows and slipped on her soft rose nightgown. Putting one her slippers, she walked to the door to the adjoining living room. Maybe drink of water would make her fall asleep better. She missed talking to Kero-chan at night, since he had agreed to stay with Suppi-chan and Eriol, since it would be difficult to hide in a hotel room shared with 7 other people. Wearily, she plunked down on a couch in the adjoining living room. To her surprise, someone was sitting on the other sofa.
Solemnly, Syaoran was staring out the window from his chair. His profile was lit by the fluorescent lamp lights from outside, though it was past midnight. If he was aware that she was there, he ignored it, and instead, was drowned by his grave thoughts.
Overcome with curiosity, Sakura asked at last, “What are you doing, here? It’s past midnight.”
For a time he didn’t answer, his eyes closed. He didn’t answer for so long, that she figured that he was sleeping, sitting up. Sakura hugged her knees and drew her nightgown around her, tightly. She had just realized that they were alone together in the living room, past midnight. As random thoughts flung through her mind, she also realized how uncomfortable it was to face someone you had fought with in pajamas. Not that he noticed.
“Isn’t it strange?” Syaoran said, all of a sudden.
Bolting up, Sakura asked, “What?”
“In the middle of the night, I always have so many thoughts fly through my head.”
“Me too. I couldn’t sleep because of it.” Sakura stared outside, where it was dark except for the iridescent light of the street lamps.
“Why do you think he’s here?”
Laughing slightly, Sakura asked, “You can’t sleep because you’re wondering why Eriol-kun’s in New York?”
“Well, doesn’t it strike you odd, then? Till now, I never believed the saying ‘it’s a small world after all.’ Out of all places, New York, at the same time as us!”
“Well, I’m worried about Miho’s identity. She’s no ordinary girl.” Hotly, she added, “And it’s not that I’m jealous of her, either!”
Blandly, Syaoran answered, “I never said anything.”
“She used some strange power to stop a sand bag from falling on me. I think she’s very suspicious.”
“Took you long to figure out.”
“Well, I noticed her aura the first the time at the airport. Didn’t you?” Syaoran raised an eyebrow.
“Why! Oh just stop it. We’ll just end up waking the others.”
“Go to sleep then.”
“Because I have so many worries.”
“You?” Syaoran asked in such an over exaggerated tone.
“Aren’t you worried?”
“What do you think?”
“When I first met you, I always thought you were so self-assured.”
“Well, what do you think now?”
“I don’t know,” she replied truthfully.
After a while Sakura asked, “Are you sleeping?”
“What are you doing?”
“What are you thinking of?”
“None of your business,” he said abrubtly.
“You always say that.”
And another while later, Sakura asked, “Now, are you sleeping?”
“Aren’t you tired?”
“Then why don’t you sleep?”
“Why don’t you?” Syaoran retorted. Yet, he never asked her to go back to her room.
After a long silence, Sakura asked, “Syaoran?”
And so on, it went until near dawn, when they finally fell asleep.
Sometime, the next morning, Tomoyo awoke. Brushing aside her long violet hair, she blinked around her at the unfamiliar setting of the Plaza Hotel, New York. Sakura’s bed was empty. Changed into a fresh lavender dress, she went to the living room. To her amusement, Syaoran lay sprawled on one coach, one arm dangling off the edge, while Sakura was sleeping soundly on the other. Someone had clumsily draped a blanket around her.
“Wake up!” she said.
Groggily, Sakura muttered, “It’s already morning? I just fell asleep.” Tomoyo’s usually beautiful voice sounded like a hammer on her head.
“Yup! Today’s another full agenda. Wake up Li-kun!” Tomoyo shook Syaoran, who refused to budge. “Oh dear. I better take this opportunity to videotape you sleeping! You look so cute! And won’t Miho, Meirin, and Erika be pleased?”
Immediately, Syaoran bolted up. He felt groggy sleeping in his clothes, which were all mussed and wrinkled by now. Half asleep, he asked crossly, “How can you be so happy and bouncy in the morning?”
“Didn’t you hear? Just look at this newspaper!” Tomoyo held out an international Japanese newspaper. The front page headline stated, “TWO TEENS HACKED THE TOKYO NARJITA AIRPORT COMPUTER SYSTEM. SAID TO BE SPIES.”
Both Sakura and Syaoran sweat-dropped.
“Do you know anything about this?” Tomoyo persisted. She held up the headline front page picture, with two blurry people, with their coats sailing behind them.
“One guard stated, ‘For the honor of my country and occupation, I fought to protect our computer system. I was threatened with my life, and the unidentified boy held a gun to my head, but thanks to me, no apparent damage has been done to the computer system!’” Tomoyo sighed. “Doesn’t this sound so enthralling? But Li-kun, where’d’you get a gun? Isn’t in illegal?”
“Eh? It was only a knife.”
“ONLY A KNIFE?” Sakura shouted. “Now look what you’ve done. Great, it’s all over the newspaper now.”
“Well it’s not like we had a choice, did we?” Syaoran crossed his arms, and they glared at each other.
“YOU GUYS ARE IN THE NEWSPAPER?” Erika asked.
“REALLY?” Meirin added. “Oh my gosh! A gun? COOL! It’s like the movies!”
“Oh dear.” Sakura sighed. It was going to be a long day.
ZAP ZAP. Humph! Sakura and Syaoran stuck their tongue out at each other when they grabbed for the salt at the same time.
Eriol, who had joined them for breakfast smiled. He stayed in room 805 in the Plaza Hotel.
“You’re enjoying this very much, aren’t you?” Tomoyo asked softly.
“Ah, you may say that.” Eriol smiled, placing his hand on his chin.
In the background, they could hear Touya shouting, “Get off of me! People are staring. Don’t touch me!” Guests in the hotel lobby started to stare at Nakuru and Touya.
“You’re no fun. Didn’t you miss me!” Nakuru slipped her arms around Touya’s arm, leaning her head against his shoulder. “Of course you did!”
Yukito sighed. It was going to be a long day.
Eriol’s Action Plan #1…
“You see, his weakness is jealousy,” Eriol informed Tomoyo. “So…”
“What are we going to do this morning?” asked Erika everyone.
“Let’s go to the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Arts!” Sakura and Syaoran said together. Then they eyed each other hotly. Sakura bit her lips. She really wanted to see the painting that photographer Mike Kant had mentioned.
Syaoran glanced at Eriol. He didn’t like the mysterious gleam in his eyes. The previous night, a photographer called Mike Kant had offered him some stupid modeling contract for some new ad. Of course, Syaoran had protested, but somehow he had signed on because at that moment, he saw Eriol pass by with Sakura, so he wanted to spy… no who said spy? Follow them. (A black thought told him that following was spying… but he pushed it away.) Anyway, Mike Kant had said that he resembled some person in a painting in that Museum, so… there he was, stuck with a stupid modeling contract.
“Eww! Why would we want to go to a museum today?” Meirin asked.
“Yeah! We should go sight seeing and shopping!” Erika added. They grinned at each other.
“Well, it’s on the schedule anyway. Don’t you girls feel the need for some enlightenment?” Eron asked.
“Sakura-san, I will guide you to the Metropolitan if you want me to. I’m quite familiar with this area,” Eriol said, offering her a hand. Blushing, Sakura took it.
“I’ll go too. I go where ever Sakura-chan will go. Plus, I want to see the painting that Mr. Kant talked about,” Tomoyo said.
“What about me…” Syaoran muttered.
“Where you go, I go!” Miho exclaimed, tossing back her preppy auburn hair.
“When did you come?” Sakura asked, narrowing her eyes.
“If you haven’t noticed, I’m staying at this hotel, too.”
The whole group headed off in the limousine.
Peering at the gallery map, Tomoyo stated, “I think the exhibit’s in the F Wing… We’re here!”
They all entered the “Angel and Warrior,” exhibit room. So far, they had been in awe of the great Renaissance, Baroque, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Modern Art that had been presented. From Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Picasso, to Degas, Rembrant, Renoir, and Warhall, they were completely stunned at the immense museum.
“What else do you expect? It’s New York,” Miho stated when they were so surprised.
The first painting that caught their eye when they entered was a soft pastel canvas of a girl with wind tossed violet hair, emphasizing her bright emerald eyes. On the background were blowing flower petal, and her white silken dress fluttered in the wind. Yet, the greatest charm was her slow, melting smile, which each person felt was meant for them. They found it impossible to tear away from “The Smiling Angel.”
Softly, Touya murmured, “Mother…”
“But it can’t be! Why would a famous artist have painted mother?” Sakura asked, crumpling the brochure in her hands.
“But it looks exactly like her,” Tomoyo added.
“I don’t see why that photographer said you resembled her,” Erika commented.
“Anyway, we have no proof that is Nadeshiko-san,” Syaoran said.
Meirin said slyly, “Can’t you see the family resemblance? You should compare your watercolor painting back in Hong Kong to this one. You’ll definitely see some resemblance.”
“Oh shut up.” Syaoran scowled. “Strange that there is someone who resembles exactly like your mother.”
Staring at the painting, Sakura replied, “That is mother. Don’t you see? That ring on her finger?”
Syaoran’s eyes diverted to the pale, slender finger. His eyes widened. “But why… How…”On her fourth finger was a star sapphire ring.
“Let’s look at the rest of the exhibit.”
Sakura walked over to the next painting. Immediately, she started choking.
This was an immense painting, almost the size of a wall. The background was a radiant sunset with rich tones of fiery red, amber, orange, and yellow. On the right corner was a girl dressed in a long, flowing dress of twinkling lavender, her glossy violet hair unbound and floating around her. On the left land corner was a lean, tall young man, his dark chestnut hair tied back and whipping in wind. And they were facing away from each other, tinted by the dramatic crimson of the sun.
The next painting was smaller and less dramatic. The design was simply the same young man leaning against a majestic tree with swaying branches. His face was overcast with the tree’s shadow, yet his eyes were the truest blue sapphire, matching with the star sapphire ring, around a chain on his neck. His dark nut brown hair was held back in an elegant horse tail. In his strong looking hands was a frail, limp peony flower, which glowed a pale rose color. In one way, he looked slightly sad and wistful, though a self-confident smile dimpled on his face. The same smile which made Seijou High girls flip over for him, and also the smirk which masked his angriest or saddest moments. Yet, Sakura wondered why he looked so lonely.
As they walked over to the next painting, they heard other viewers whispering, “Wow, these are the masterpieces of the artist, Shing. I heard that he studied art all over the world and is internationally renowned.”
“Just look at the lighting effect and the rich tones, not to mention the expression and emotions expressed. The design is ingenious.”
“I heard that the people in the paintings were based on real life models that left a great impression in his mind, so he only uses them. Shing said so on an interview. That smile of the girl from ‘Smiling Angel’ rivals with the fame of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Except, this smile makes you feel good.”
“The young man in the painting leaves a strong impact on me, though. Never saw eyes like those, with those strange, compelling feeling. As if anyone exists like that nowadays. Maybe in the medieval ages, but now? What a hunk he might have been.” They laughed.
Another painting was a tense Gothic style with the young man and girl facing each other, and ironically, the man was pointing his gleaming silver sword at the girl’s neck. What was strange was that both of them had silver tears glistening in their eyes, emerald and sapphire gazing at each other with hate, love, and anger. Behind them was a mosaic of bits and pieces of the world falling apart and torn with spidery cracks. There was a bleeding long gash on the man’s muscular back, and blood, dark pigeon’s blood ruby colored splattered all around them. In all, it was the most disturbing painting that Sakura had ever seen. She could not face the painting, “The Destruction.”
Yet, Syaoran gazed at it, standing absolutely still. Eventually, his eyes wandered back to the small portrait of the teenage boy with hard to decipher sapphire eyes, shaded by the willow tree’s swaying branches. For a moment, he trembled and clenched his eyes shut, fighting back the urge to break down. Father… He did not have a single decent picture of his father. The few at home were blurred and unfocused. The only time he had really seen him was in his dreams and prophesies of the past. After all, Li Ryuuren died when Syaoran was three. Dead!
He bolted out of the gallery. Sakura was soon to follow, her eyes cast darkly. “I wonder who the artist Shing is. How…” Sakura stopped midway.
Miho had come out also, followed by Eriol. Pelting him on the back, she protested, “Why does that young man look like Syaoran? Hmm?”
“Oh dear, my eyes are hurting again.” Eriol squinted. “Sakura-san, you seemed greatly disturbed by the paintings. I hope you are feeling well. Should I get you a drink? You must be thirsty.”
Syaoran clenched his fists. Now, he knew how to control his temper… He hoped.
“I just realized, you’re not wearing you’re glasses anymore. In fact, you look different from as you used. But you look good,” Sakura reassured. It was true that no one had quite the same bluish indigo eyes and thick glossy hair that many girls would love to have. There was a steadiness about him that she liked, but somehow, something about him changed. Maybe it was because he was no longer weighed by deep responsibilities. Especially without glasses, he looked less like Clow Reed and more like a teenage boy. She would have laughed at anyone who said that they saw Eriol wearing jeans. But things seemed to have changed. She stared at Eriol questioningly.
“I told him that he looks like a grandpa with glasses,” Miho stated, teasingly. “But, I couldn’t get him to cut his glossy hair off and spike it with gel. Don’t you think he would look cute that way?”
They all imagined Eriol with spiked up hair and sweat-dropped.
Eriol sighed, “I don’t know where you get your crazy ideas from.”
“Certainly from you. I always now you are very queer inside.” Miho laughed, slipping her arms into Eriol’s in a childish way. “’Nii-chan is very, very weird, my cousin said. But he means well… sometimes. Right?”
Nakuru jumped up and down, holding hands with Miho, “Exactly!”
Puzzled, Sakura said looking from Miho to Eriol, “Waitaminute. Do you two know each other well?”
“Of course! Eriol’s my guardian!” Miho declared.
Shuffling uncomfortably, Eriol said, “Well, as a matter of fact, Miho Tanaka is Kaho Mizuki’s cousin.”
“Kaho’s cousin?” Touya exclaimed from the hallway, his face turning pale.
“Yes. Miho’s the niece of CompTech’s president, but she is also cousin to Kaho-san. She asked me to look after Miho while she stays in New York for winter vacation.”
“Mizuki-sensei’s cousin?” Sakura’s eyes widened… No wonder she knew… And her powers…
“I knew she looked familiar,” muttered Touya. The luxurious auburn hair and the shape of face and eyes were similar. Yet, that was where the resemblance ended. Kaho had a grace and maturity about her, while Miho was full of mischief and youth.
Sakura shuddered. Everything was twisting and twining so rapidly, that she found it hard to grasp. Who was she to suspect now?
And what had the artist Shing have to do with her mother and Syaoran’s father?
“Syaoran! Syaoran!” She clenched her
fists. No matter where she ran, she couldn’t find him. Suddenly, she was
facing a darkly cloaked figure. And that person was pointing a gleaming
golden-hilted knife straight at her throat.
Wish-chan: Oh dear... I think that I'm moving at an awfully slow pace. (People rip out their hair w/frustration.) He he... ^_*... BUT in the end, it pays out. Ohmygosh! Why is Eriol in New York? Man, isn't he so cool? But not as cute as Syaoran. And Miho is Mizuki-sensei's cousin (on the mother's side.) That explains her strange powers. Plus, Sakura has a modeling contract... lucky girl... and with Syaoran... (but they don't know it's w/each other yet.) He he... wouldn't you like to know their reaction when they find out? Oh and Yue is back. Man, Yue is sooo cool. The problem is, every singe guy in CCS is perfect, and I mean it. Except, Syaoran is the coolest of all! Oh yeah, and the "Angel and Warrior" series by the artist Shing. Keep that in mind. This chapter was all the intro stuff. More action in following chapters!