Meirin looked up, her reddish amber eyes sorrowful. For a moment, she paused, as if hesitating to say something. Then she announced, “I’m going back to Hong Kong.”
Sakura and Syaoran both dropped their chopsticks.
“Why are you leaving to Hong Kong?” Sakura asked, the next day.
“Hmm?” Meirin fastened two ribbons around her buns. “SYAORAN~ We’ll be late for school again!”
“It’s so sudden.”
Turning around, Meirin faced Sakura. “When I was kidnapped by the Kaitou Magician, and attacked by the Joker, and was helpless to do anything when you and Syaoran were sucked into Princess Rosa’s mirror, I realized something. I’m so weak and incompetent to do anything but cause trouble. I don’t even have special powers.”
“That’s not true!”
“When I return to Hong Kong, I’m going to train harder than ever, and become stronger and more able to look after myself. I’m no help… to Syaoran.” She cast her amber eyes down bitterly.
“But, you like him. Don’t you want to be with him?”
“That’s exactly it. It’s better for me to be away from him.”
“Why, suddenly now, though? All those time together…” Sakura glanced up. “Does it have something to do with the Mirror?”
Considering the question, Meirin answered, “Yes, but not completely. Look, it’s not like I’m going away forever or anything. I’m just going away to clear my head.” She smiled brightly. “I know what I’m doing. I’ll come back, okay? Don’t worry about it.”
“Since, fellow classmate, Li Meirin, who
was in the role of Juliet in ‘Star-Crossed,’ will be leaving in one week,
there will be re-auditions for the role of Juliet,” Terada-sensei announced,
and a wave of whispering ran through the students.
“Meirin-chan! You’re going back to Hong Kong!” Chiharu exclaimed.
“Uh huh.” Meirin nodded. “I miss my home,
“So, Meirin-chan’s returning to Hong Kong,” mused Tomoyo.
Casting her deep forest green eyes down, Sakura said, “Yet, I feel guilty because…”
“You feel as if it’s because of you?”
Nodding, Sakura replied, “Yes. I feel bad. If I wasn’t staying at their house, actually, if I never met Syaoran-kun…”
“If you never met Syaoran-kun, there would always be an empty place in your heart,” Tomoyo informed her. “I don’t know much, but one thing certain is that Syaoran-kun makes all the difference in your life. For better or worse, I don’t know, but still, don’t put pressure on yourself.”
“Meirin really likes him.”
“That’s why she’s leaving. It’s completely her choice. Didn’t she say she wants to become stronger before she comes back?”
“Still…” Sakura gazed at the pretty green buds on the trees and the colorful flowers blooming on the school grounds. “I think I’ll like to do something nice for her. Let her know that she is appreciated.”
“I think that’s a great idea!”
That night, as Meirin, Syaoran, Tomoyo, and Sakura gathered in Tomoyo’s room, basically lazing around, listening to music, designing costumes for the musical (Tomoyo of course), or trying to get some homework done.
Meirin exclaimed, “Sakura-chan! We better get ready!”
“For what?” Sakura asked, munching on an apple.
“What do you think? The Juliet re-auditions of course! For the musical!” Meirin said proudly, “And the original, herself can help you.”
“Hoe-e~ Try out for Juliet?”
“Of course! Since, I’m going back to Hong Kong and there was no understudy for me, there has to be a new Juliet! We’ll get you the part!”
Nodding in agreement, Tomoyo added, “That’s a great idea! Who else would fit the role better? Anyway, you have a better grasp on the musical than anyone else, since you were always helping out ever since day 1.”
“And you know the lines better than I do since you helped me so much to memorize them! It was too bad you couldn’t try out last audition, but this time, you can get in! Right Syaoran?”
“Eh? Right.” Syaoran continued nonchalantly with his math equations.
For a moment, Sakura pouted. Then a new determination swelled in her to get it right this time. Was there a chance to get the role of Juliet?
“Besides,” Meirin added jokingly. “Most of the good people are already involved in other important roles in the musical, anyway, so I don’t think there’ll be that much competition.”
“Hoe~” Sakura sweat dropped. So that was that.
The next few days, Meirin patiently went over all the Juliet parts in “Star-Crossed” with her. Though it was tedious, Sakura felt greatly thankful towards her friend.
“Meirin-chan?” She asked. “Don’t you regret not being able to continue as the role of Juliet in the musical? You really liked it, didn’t you?”
“Kinda. With Syaoran as my Romeo and everything. But it’s okay. There’ll be other chances for my talent. I can sacrifice the role to you.” Meirin replied.
“You really like him, don’t you?” Sakura asked softly, leaning on Meirin’s desk chair.
“Yes, I do. In my strange little way.”
“But he really cares for you. He was so depressed when you were kidnapped. And he always looks after you with a soft eye. I can’t really describe it.” Sakura sighed. There was no doubt that Syaoran had a soft spot for Meirin.
Ruefully smiling, Meirin replied, “But that’s not the way that I want him to care for me. I’m always someone who needs to be looked after, like a child. I don’t want to be a little sister to him to take care of.” Brightly, she said, “But it’s okay. I’m fine with that; I accept it. I can’t change Syaoran’s heart just like that.”
“You know him really well. I really don’t get him.”
Giving a brief laughter, Meirin said, “You just don’t get it, do you?”
Playing with a doll on Meirin’s bed, she asked, “Get what?” Sakura sighed. After Meirin left, she wouldn’t want to be alone with Syaoran. I guess I’ll just go back living at my own house. Things are really cool between us ever since that afternoon I slammed the door on his face. That brief moment we were trapped in the Mirror of Truth, he was nice about finding me and all… But that’s because it was “business.” Strange, unlike for Yukito-san, I don’t feel hanyaan about Syaoran. There’s only a lonely feeling inside me. Wish I can go back to my little elementary days. When we were so innocent, naïve, and sincere. When we thought all there was to life was there.
“Never mind. Here, memorize the next lines.” Flipping through the script, Meirin sighed. Syaoran… It’s best for me to leave him and recollect my thoughts. Yet, I feel so wary about just leaving these to like this. What will they do without me to sort things out? Meirin pondered deeply.
As Sakura fiddled with something on Meirin’s desk, she asked, “What’s this?”
It was a pretty box of stale candies and a dried, withered peony on top. Gazing at the box, Meirin remembered how eagerly Syaoran had bought the candies on the day before White Day, and how he couldn’t give it. Angrily, Meirin said, “Syaoran was going to give you that on White Day. But you ruined it by taking that doll from Eron!”
“What do you mean? But he gave that rose bouquet and everything to Erika… There was a picture of it in the school newspaper. We all saw it.”
“Stupid! He was just doing it as a favor for a friend in the soccer team. He was trying to give you that all along.”
Sakura’s emerald green eyes widened. So, he hadn’t been avoiding her then, after all. A heavy burden in her heart lifted as she fingered the box. “Really? Do you mind if I keep this?”
“The musical rehearsals are so hectic these days because Meirin-chan’s leaving,” Tomoyo commented. “We’re going to start cleaning out and repairing the old school theater.”
“The old theater?” Sakura asked.
“Oh, it’s the old theater building, behind the main building. It’s really big, but kinda old, so there has to be lots of reparation. And “Star-crossed” final production will be held there so we’re starting to clean it out. The last production held in it was more than twenty years ago!”
“Really?” Meirin asked. “I’m glad I won’t be sticking around to clean out the big old mess.”
“Still, it’s a beautiful stage. It will be good as new in a few months, for the production. Oh, and it was that stage that Sakura-chan’s mother acted on.”
Emerald eyes turning round, Sakura commented, “I never knew that!”
“I found out few days ago. Your mother played the role of Christine Daae in the Seijou Junior High play, ‘The Phantom of the Opera.’ I found the old program for the play and everything, even a video clip!”
“The Phantom of the Opera? We saw the Broadway musical in New York! It was beautiful,” Meirin stated.
“I agree,” Tomoyo said. “See, I found pictures of the Seijou Junior High performance in Mother’s old photo album.”
In rapture, Sakura flipped through several pictures of Nadeshiko in an old fashioned dress, on stage, smiling. And I have the chance to act on the very stage that my mother did! I’ll take it!
Few days later…
“Sakura-chan! Congratulations! You got the part of Juliet!!!” All her friends congratulated after the day of the Juliet re-auditions.
A little dazed, Sakura thanked them. Her auditions had passed by in a blink. Thanks to Meirin and Tomoyo, she was fully prepared, and when she was on stage, she spoke her lines clearly and with power, while her sweet song rang with depth through the auditorium, her voice clear as a running river. If her mother had been in a school production, she wanted to have a try as well. Plus, the anger of Erika ruining her auditions on Valentines Day fueled energy, not to mention that Syaoran had planned on giving her a White Day present after all. During the auditions, she had a calm, cold fire trickle through her, as if she knew that she would get the part no matter what.
“Great job!” Eron exclaimed.
“Humph. You only got the part because there were no good people left to audition for the role of Juliet because they already have other parts,” Erika said scornfully.
Yet, nothing could disrupt Sakura’s joy. Personally, she thought she wasn’t wonderfully talented as Tomoyo, yet the practice and hard effort had ensured her the part. Plus, many students unanimously agreed that Sakura really deserved the role, especially since she worked hard and helped everyone during each rehearsal previously, not to mention that she had the athletic coordination for the role.
“Syaoran?” Sakura timidly entered his room for the first time in ages. Syaoran’s room was basically off limits. The first thing that caught her eye was the wolf embroidery she made him for Christmas. A warmth swelled in her. So, he liked it after all. He hung it right above his bed.
“Eh?” Syaoran looked up from wood shavings on the floor. He was carving something out of a block of wood.
“Wow, that’s pretty! You’re carving a flower. Is it for Meirin?”
“I don’t know. I guess. I’m used to having her around,” he admitted bashfully. “It’ll be strange without her.”
Clapping her hands together, Sakura said, “That’s why I have an idea! Let’s throw her a surprise party before she leaves on Sunday, to let her know that we all care for her and that we’ll miss her. We’ll invite everyone, all our friends.”
“That’s really a good idea.” Syaoran smiled, brushing wood shavings from his lap. “It’s a nice thought.”
“Tomoyo and I’ll plan everything, so don’t worry about it. And remember, keep it a secret from Meirin-chan.”
“Okay. If you need any help, tell me.” Before Sakura was about to leave his room, he said, “Hey!”
“Uh… Congratulations on getting the role.”
“Huh?” Sakura looked up in surprise, then smiled warmly. “Thanks.”
“The pretty Hong Kong girl is leaving,” Eron commented, lazily flipping through a book.
“I guess the Mirror of Truth really shocked her. After all, I think she really does care for the Little Wolf a lot… To see him turn like that…” Erika brushed her glossy hair in front of the bureau mirror. “The Cherry Blossom and the rest are throwing a surprise party for her tomorrow. Cute, ne? Should we cause a little disruption?”
For a moment, Eron paused to think it over, fingering his ponytail. “Nah. Don’t bother.”
“Huh?” Erika turned around to see her twin brother better. “Don’t tell me your getting soft, Eron.”
Laughing, Eron replied, “No. What I mean is that they’ll have plenty of trouble to face, anyway.”
Shuffling her foot, Meirin looked down disappointed. Syaoran showed no reaction about her leaving. Not that she was expecting any, but still… She was leaving tomorrow.
“Meirin-chan!” Sakura ran up to her. “Come, let’s go to Tomoyo’s house.”
When Sakura and Meirin reached Tomoyo’s
mansion, the maid led them to a grand room. When the door swung open, it
was dark at first. “Huh? Wha—“
Then, loud cracking noises popped and a chorus of people shouting, “SURPRISE!” sounded. The lights flooded on and Meirin stood baffled, with streamers hanging from her hair.
Immediately, dozens of friends clapped, and in the middle of the huge room, a grand banner saying “We’ll Miss You Meirin!” was spread across the walls. A stack of presents were piled on one side, while a home-baked five layer cake with pink rose icing was revealed, and long tables flooded with food.
Standing in front of everyone, Sakura held said in a clear voice, “We all wanted to show how much we care for you, and we through this party so that you will understand how we all care for you as a great friend. So, come back to us as soon as you can!” Sakura smiled. “Do you have anything to add, Syaoran?”
“Eh?” Turning red, Syaoran said, “Uh… Don’t change from who you are right now, Meirin. And keep safe and healthy… wait a minute…” Sweat-dropping, he commented, “That sounds so… dull.” He glanced hopelessly at Sakura. After all, it wasn’t his skill to give poetic farewell speeches. Still, Meirin was stirred in her heart… Syaoran did care for her, though it was not in the way she wanted.
“Well,” Sakura concluded, “Let’s all enjoy
the party, in honor of MEIRIN-CHAN!”
Everyone enjoyed themselves immensely, partying. Yet, Meirin seemed rather silent.
“Aren’t you having fun?” Sakura asked, concerned.
“Oh no, I really appreciate it all. I love it,” Meirin exclaimed. “It really makes me think twice about returning. Thank you so much.”
“Open the presents!” Shouted Chiharu, Naoko, and Rika.
“Giving presents originated from…” Yamazaki
When Meirin reached the last present, she saw that it was from Syaoran and Sakura. She unwrapped the paper and opened an elegantly carved and polished wooden box. Inside it was an intricately carved Chinese peony flower out of aromatic sandalwood. Peony was Syaoran’s favorite flower. And it was elaborately painted in the soft hues of rose pink and evergreen.
Bashfully, Sakura commented, “Syaoran made it, and I just painted it. Don’t forget your good friends.”
“It’s beautiful! Thank you, both of you, so much.” Meirin’s eyes blurred. She really didn’t want to leave now. The wood flower smelled the sweetness of sandalwood, and she held it close to her heart. Her friends were the most important to her.
At the airport…
“You have all your luggage right? And your passport, don’t lose it. The boarding ticket’s in your pocket. Remember, don’t talk to strangers, be careful of smugglers…” Syaoran continued on.
“Okay, you don’t have to worry about me. I’ve been on airplanes before. “ Meirin smiled brightly. “Wei’s picking me off once I land.”
“Meirin?” Syaoran said, looking up. “I’ll really miss you, you know that right? You can come back any time.”
“I know. It was my own choice to leave.” Meirin smiled. Then, with starry bright amber eyes, she said, “Syaoran? I’ll always like you. Don’t you change from who you are inside… And remember when you told me that you no longer have feelings for Sakura? Is it really true?”
This left Syaoran speechless.
She continued, “If it’s true, that’s your choice. I don’t see any reason why you still can’t remain good, trustworthy friends. Yet, if it isn’t true…”
“Meirin-chan! It’s boarding time!” Sakura called, running up to them with Tomoyo.
Sakura tripped right over someone, falling flat on her face. Everyone had to stifle their giggles. The person she tripped over peered down at her, looking out over his dark silver framed sunglasses.
Then, he exclaimed, “You again!”
Sakura looked up at the young man with the spiked hair and dangling fang earring in his left ear. Dressed in stark black, he looked somber, yet mischievous. Timidly, Sakura asked, “Kaitou-kun?”
“Don’t call me that,” the thief scowled. “Don’t tell me it’s just a coincidence you guys turn up where ever I go.”
“Look who’s talking. What are you doing here?” Syaoran demanded, defensively.
“Hey, you still have this bracelet on me! Take it off!” Meirin exclaimed, holding out her wrist.
“Sorry, I’m a busy man,” Kaitou Magician said.
“You’re leaving Japan?” Sakura asked.
“Yeah, I’m done with my business here, on to my next destination. But remember, I’m coming back for the necklace and ring of the Five Froce Treasures. I just think it’s safer leaving it here on you two, so keep it safe till I come back. Then it’ll be mine.” Kaitou grinned.
“Well, that’s a relief for everybody,” Syaoran said sarcastically. “Wait, how will you leave the country? The government allows you to have a passport?”
“Nah. Stole someone’s.” Smiling at Syaoran, he commented, “Eww… I can’t believe you used to like this when you were little.” Kaitou Magician held up a passport.
Staring at the passport picture of a somber looking ten-year old boy, Syaoran guffawed. “Hey! Give that back! That’s my passport! What do you mean by taking it? When the hell did you steal it?”
“It’s my occupation, being a thief. Disguise is the key,” he stated in a matter of fact way. “Bye, you four!” The Kaitou Magician said, dissolving into the crowd with the grace of a true born magician.
They were sure that they hadn’t seen the
last of him.
“We always bump into him! I can’t believe the police still didn’t catch him yet. Well, I’m leaving now,” Meirin said, finally. “Thanks for the wonderful party and the presents.”
“We’ll miss you,” Tomoyo said, while video taping. “Keep in touch.”
“Come back soon,” Sakura said.
“Don’t worry about that!” Meirin winked, flipping back her jet black pigtails. “And I’ll be more determined than ever to bother Syaoran.”
“Eh?” Syaoran sweat dropped.
“Sakura-chan. Take care of Syaoran for me. He acts all mature, but he’s still a kid inside,” Meirin said.
“Me?” Sakura pointed to herself.
“There’s no one else to look after him. And he has a horrible time waking up in the morning. Make sure he gets enough sleep. He’s still a growing boy.”
“Hey!” he protested.
Then she said softly to Sakura, “Don’t forget, just be who you are inside, Sakura.”
“Meirin, are you leaving because of Syaoran?” Sakura asked back in a quiet tone. ‘Cause if its because of your feelings for him, you should know that…”
“Sakura? To tell you the truth, I don’t really understand what Syaoran’s feeling in his heart… But I know what my feelings are. At least you have the satisfaction of knowing that he did like you, once. Maybe he will again… Me, it will never be the same. Years ago, I realized that he cared for you since he called you by your name. Until that time, he never said a girl’s name, except for me and his sisters. When I broke our engagement, I asked, is it Kinomoto Sakura. He said yes. And I knew. I was beaten, that I had lost in my game. Yet, there was nothing to do about it. Then, he returned to Japan again. When I followed him, I thought maybe I had another chance. But once more, I realized that I don’t.”
“That’s not true… Last winter, he told me… he told me that he… didn’t have any feelings… for me. You still have a chance—”
“So do you,” Meirin replied, gulping back a lump in her throat. To everyone, Meirin called out, “Well, bye!” Meirin quickly turned around, hiding the tears in her eyes. I love you Syaoran! I’m going to come back though. And by then, I won’t love you anymore. By then, I’ll have become a stronger person, inside and outside, and I won’t be a nuisance to you. You’ll be proud of your cousin… The Mirror of Truth showed painful details of the future. I don’t want to be a burden on you, Syaoran. I want to by his side and help him. That’s why I’m going back to Hong Kong to learn all that I can… before the Final Revelation.
“Bye Meirin!” They all waved. Each of them felt a rueful twang to see their friend go. At first, Meirin may have seemed nagging and clinging, yet she really was a good-hearted sensitive person inside.
At least I have the satisfaction of knowing that he cared for me once? How much, to what extent, I don’t know. And things are changed now… Yet, he did and that makes all the difference, Sakura thought.
It was nighttime, after Meirin’s departure. Syaoran was at a soccer game, so Sakura was by herself in the apartment. For a moment, Sakura fingered the embroidery of the wolf she had made. Why had Syaoran hung it on the wall, above the head of the bed? She had a guilty feeling that she wasn’t supposed to be in that room. Then her eyes wondered to his wooden desk. There was a dry rose on it. She frowned, suddenly remembering Valentines Day. That day, when her auditions went wrong, and she couldn’t give Syaoran the rose… Why did she have a feeling that she saw this rose before? Somehow, it felt like it belonged to her. Good riddance! Then, her fingers wandered to a pretty emerald green ribbon, which matched her eye color. It was tied loosely around the dried rose. With trembling fingers, she untied it. Wasn’t this her ribbon, the one she lost months ago at Syaoran’s house? What was it doing in his room?
“What are you doing in there?” A cold voice came from behind. Crossing his arms, Syaoran leaned against the doorway. Though he looked pretty calm on the outside, he was frantic, wondering if Sakura saw her ribbon, or the teddy bear she gave him long ago. For heaven's sake, why didn't he put it in a better hiding place? And why did he hang up her Christmas present on his bedroom wall? Plus that dried rose on his table... she might get the wrong idea!
With a fluttering in her stomach, Sakura dropped the rose and ribbon and turned around. “He he… Ah… I lost my pencil, and I was just looking for it…” Caught red-handed! Sakura looked down guiltily. She had only meant to go in and look at her embroidery. “So, did our school win the soccer game?”
“Yeah. 4 to 0.”
“Wow! I bet you won many goals!”
“Ah… well…” Syaoran looked down bashfully.
He had shot three, Eron had shot one.
“It seems really empty without Meirin-chan,” Sakura commented, as she set the dinner table at the Li’s apartment. She was all alone with Syaoran now. That was an unnerving thought.
“Yeah. I hope she gets there fine,” Syaoran replied.
“I can’t believe we saw the Kaitou Magician again.”
“He won’t be causing anymore trouble here. I have to register a new passport because he stole mine, that cheapsake.”
“Yet, I feel there’s something more we should know about him.”
“Who cares about a thief?” He shrugged off. After washing the dishes, he said, “Well, I’m going to bed early, all right? Do what ever you want, watch TV, listen to music, or do your homework or something.”
“Okay.” Sakura entered the guest room, sighing. If Meirin was there, they’d be laughing and talking. Slowly, she took out her math homework and groaned. When was the last time she studied? Life had been so hectic these days… her brother would kill her if he saw her grades. Well, back to school work!
Throwing the alarm clock to the floor, Sakura turned over to her side and continued sleeping. An hour later, she bolted up awake.
“HOEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! I’M LATE FOR SCHOOL!”
Quickly slipping on her skirt, short sleeved blouse, vest, school tie, and knee socks, she grabbed her bag and bolted out of the room. “SYAORAN!!! WAKE UP! WE’RE LATE!”
Yawning, Syaoran asked in a dazed state, “Eh?” Then he picked up his alarm clock from his bedroom floor and shouted, “WHAT?!”
In a matter of seconds, Syaoran and Sakura ran out of the apartment complex, while Syaoran was busy buttoning up his uniform shirt and hanging onto his tie, trying to run with his shoes half on.
“How could you sleep in?” Sakura shouted, as they ran to the school.
“What about you? You slept right through the alarm!” He tried to straighten his tie while running.
“So did you! I always thought you were an early riser!” Sakura winced as her right ankle strained at the impact from running so fast.
“I used to be! Not anymore; I just don’t get enough sleep!” Maybe Syaoran was also showing strains from using so much powers these days.
Just remember, Sakura shouted, “Hoe! I forgot to bring my math homework.”
“That doesn’t make a difference. You never to it in the first place. Wait, we turn this way!” They swerved around the lane. ”Watch out for the motorcycle!’
“AHHH!!!” Sakura leaped out of the way. “I almost got run over by a motorcycle ‘cause of you!”
“Why is that my fault? You weren’t looking where you were going.”
“HOE!!! We have 1 minute left!” They approached Seijou Junior High.
Together they shouted, “RUN FOR OUR LIVES!!!” They raced across the school grounds to their class.
“I will not be late for class. I will not be late for class. I will not be late for class… Hoe-e…” Sakura’s head was drooped as she wrote “I will not be late for class” a hundred times on the chalkboard during lunch time. Her stomach grumbled. She blushed as Syaoran raised an eyebrow from the board next to hers. He had also been punished for being late to school.
Defiantly, Sakura said, “Well, I didn’t have breakfast, and now I’m missing out on lunch!”
“I never said anything,” he replied. In disgust, he threw down the chalk. He was not even half way through.
Then brightening up, Sakura whipped out a card and said, “Twin! Duplicate this sentence a hundred times. The letters “I will not be late for class multiplied, and appeared a hundred times on the boards. Brushing her hands, she stepped back, satisfied. Then, glancing at Syaoran’s wobbling writing on the boards, she pointed towards his chalkboard, and the Twin wrote the sentence out a hundred times on the board.
Syaoran gazed up in surprise at the board. He commented, “It’s kinda cheap.”
With pretended offense, Sakura replied crossing her arms, “Shouldn’t you be more grateful to someone who saved you from writing that out a hundred times?”
“Still, it feels rather… dishonest. We’re not taking our punishment dutifully.”
“Fine, if you feel that way, I’ll erase—“
“No, it’s fine!” Syaoran interrupted, shaking his head rapidly.
“Well, we can go eat lunch now!”
“You forgot. We were late so we didn’t bring any lunch, nor any money, so we have nothing to eat” Syaoran reminded.
At that moment, Erika burst into the classroom with a pretty pink and white lunch box. “Syaoran-kun! Do you want to share my lunch with me?” She opened it up to reveal a delicious looking row of ham, cheese, egg salad, and tuna salad sandwiches, and for desert, chocolate and vanilla pudding with fresh strawberries.
Syaoran’s eyes bulged at the scrumptious looking lunch. Then, he saw Sakura watching. “Uh—Sakura… um…”
“It’s okay. Go eat with Erika. I don’t care what you do!” Stomping out of the classroom, Sakura slammed the door shut.
Blinking Syaoran said, “I was only trying to ask if she wanted to eat as well… She must be hungry.”
Tossing back her wavy shoulder length hair, Erika commented, “What’s wrong with her? Here, try these sandwiches. I made them. See, aren’t they good?”
“Huh? Oh yeah. Right. Thanks…” Syaoran
craned his neck to see outside the window. Sakura was talking to Akagi
Aki, that captain of basketball dunce head who had been the third Magician
for the Circus Carnival and had asked Sakura to dance at the Winter Wonderland.
After school, Syaoran caught up with Sakura. “Hey, did you have anything to eat?”
“Yeah, Tomoyo-chan shared her lunch with me,” Sakura replied, refusing to turn to his direction.
“Oh. Since school is over, I was wondering if you want to—“
“Syaoran-kun!” Erika ran up to Syaoran, flinging her arms around him. “There you are.” Her golden hazel eyes gleamed mischievously. “Did you like my lunch?” Twiddling her thumbs, she looked up innocently and said, “Actually, I’m kind of having trouble with math right now… It’s really difficult and I don’t get the stuff about functions and all.” She tossed her reddish glossy hair prettily. “You’re really smart and everything… So I was just wondering if you have time, of course if you’re busy, I understand, but would you teach me math after school?”
“Sure,” Syaoran replied.
“Great!” Erika looked up brightly. “Then, do you want to do it right now? We can go to the library... or you can come to my house!"”
“Okay. I’m not busy today.” Syaoran turned to Sakura. “Oh yeah—“
“I’m going home!” Sakura walked outside the gate and turned the sidewalk.
“Wait! The apartment’s the other direction!” Syaoran called out.
“I’m going to my house!” Sakura
left Syaoran speechless. Well, who cares! Stupid Erika. Stupid Syaoran.
It’s better living alone at my house rather than facing Syaoran everyday.
Who cares if I’m scared of ghosts, thieves, thunderstorms, dark nights,
being home alone…
As Sakura entered her long abandoned house, she coughed because of the dust. She’d only left for less than two weeks, yet it seemed ages ago since she fell off the stairs. The kitchen window that Syaoran broke through had been fixed. Yet, scorch marks still remained on the wall paper, and there was a dent at the bottom of the stairs, where she had landed. Wistfully, she fingered the dent on the wall… Did he make all this mess because he was angry at the Joker for hurting her? Or was it just to get rid of another evil force. Oh well.
Living alone was worse than twice her imagination. Not only did she have a greater problem waking up in the morning, yet often, she skipped meals, had a dreadful time doing chores, not to mention school work. Meirin, Syaoran, and she had always done their homework together, helping each other out in weakness. Plus, her closet was literally empty. All her warmer weather clothes were at Syaoran’s apartment, and she was too embarrassed to go and get it. Yet, the worst thing was, the house felt so empty. At least when she was with Syaoran, she had the comfort of feeling his presence in the next door room.
“You can stay at my house if you want to,” Tomoyo said, as she saw a spiral-eyed Sakura sit on a bench during lunch time at school. Sakura was having sleepless nights by herself in her empty house.
“Thanks, but it’s okay.” Sakura didn’t
want to be a nuisance, and also, she knew that Tomoyo was having troubles
with her family at the moment, though she chose not to talk about it.
During the “Star-Crossed” rehearsal, the directing-sensei announced, “Okay, let’s practice the next act. Romeo, Juliet, make your entrance. It’s our first time practicing this scene, so don’t worry about the minor details.”
Most of the act ran smoothly until it came to the final scene. Sakura lay on the floor and shut her eyes. For a second, Syaoran’s eyes bulged as he looked at the script. It seemed like forever that she had to lie still.
“Li, get on with it,” the sensei ordered.
Then Syaoran stammered, “N-nobody ever told me that I have to kiss her!”
“It’s in the script, Li,” the teacher replied impatiently. “You’re a third year at Seijou Junior High. Just do so lightly on her cheek or something for now, and let’s go on with the act.”
Ears flaming red, Syaoran hung his head down. Slowly, he bent over Sakura’s head. Sakura’s eyes fluttered, and she squirmed. Suddenly, she felt a sneeze coming, and sat up. “Achoo.” It was at that moment that Syaoran bent over to kiss her cheek. His lips landed smack on the floor.
Everyone roared with laughter and the sensei groaned in despair. Syaoran glared at Sakura for making a fool of him.
“Well, I had to sneeze,” Sakura retorted. “You’re the one who took so long that dust got in my throat.”
“Why don’t we move to Act 3?” the teacher interrupted.
They practiced a dancing scene between Juliet and Count Paris. Chang Eron and Sakura practiced their act together while Syaoran endured the whole cast nudging him and asking, “So, did you like kissing the floor?”
“Was it dusty? Was it smelly? Was it enchanting?”
“SHUT UP!” Syaoran felt like hiding under
Meanwhile, Eron commented to Sakura, “Wow, you already memorized all your lines! It’s only been less than a week since you got your part!”
“It’s not that amazing,” Sakura replied, smiling.
“Hey, do you want to do something together after school today? I know a really good movies on at the theaters,” Eron said, his golden eyes bright.
“Sure! That’ll be great!” Sakura answered.
From the other side of the stage, as he practiced a sword fighting scene, Syaoran’s ears pricked.
Girls were squealing, “Kinomoto Sakura has a date with Chang-kun today! Really? Oh my gosh! She’s so lucky!”
“Ouch! Li-kun, watch where you’re pointing your sword at!” Aki complained as he rubbed his arm.
“Wow, it’s been ages since I’ve been out to watch movies,” Sakura commented as they entered the movie theater early evening.
“Me too. Here, I’ll get the popcorns and the drinks.” Eron moved towards the food stand. He winked. “Oh yeah! That outfit looks really nice on you; makes you look like the spring sky.”
“Thank you.” Sakura blushed. She had chosen
to wear a smooth bluish skirt with a nice aquamarine top with short sleeves
under a thin white cardigan with sleeves coming right below her elbows.
Two turquoise ribbons were tied on each side of her hair.
From behind a corner, Tomoyo held out her video camera in rapture. “Sakura’s Date!” Too bad there were so many people at the theater. It was impossible to keep track. There, I’ll move behind this wall, and…
“Ouch!” She collided into someone.
That person ignored her and continued to peer through the popcorn stand at a girl dressed in blue green, while pretending to be waiting in line. He shoved a black Nike cap lower down his forehead, and tried to hide his face.
Hesitantly, Tomoyo asked, “Syaoran-kun? Is that you? What are you doing here?”
“Eh?” Syaoran’s hair stood at its ends as he whipped his cap off. So much for his disguise. “I’m not spying on her!”
“Ho ho ho. I never said you were. Of course you aren’t jealous! I mean, you don’t have special feelings for her. Plus, Eron is so charming. Don’t you think they look so cute together?” Tomoyo’s violet eyes gleamed mischievously.
Throughout the entire movie, Sakura kept on murmuring, “Hoe~ I feel as if the back of my neck is crawling, as if someone’s watching me!”
“More popcorn?” Eron asked. They reached for a handful and their hands brushed against each others. Sakura’s ears turned red.
From two seats behind Syaoran glared at
Eron. He was very tempted to spill a large cup of Coke down Eron’s back.
Yet, Tomoyo refrained him… Just in time.
At the end of the movie, as they walked out, Eron said, “That was a very nice movie, wasn’t it Sakura?”
“Huh? Yeah.” She sweat-dropped. Throughout
the movie, she had been so nervous and frittery, she had no idea what the
plot was about. Actually, she hadn’t enjoyed herself one bit. Maybe, she
had thought spending an evening with Eron would take her mind off other
matters. Yet, it didn’t.
From the other side of the crowd, Tomoyo sighed.
“Why?” Syaoran asked. “Didn’t you get enough shots of Eron and Sakura sitting next to each other watching a stupid, silly romance movie?”
“Yes… but, I was expecting, well more.” She looked up with star eyes. “I mean, it was the perfect setting, dark, romantic, quiet… And they didn’t even hold hands once, let alone do anything— Oh, sorry. I now you must feel…”
“I told you. I don’t care. If she likes that bastard, it’s none of my business. We’re just allies against an evil force,” Syaoran stated.
“Hi Tomoyo-chan! I didn’t know you came to see the movie as well,” Sakura said as walked to her friend. She had heard Syaoran’s last remark. Now she knew… They were just “allies against an evil force.” Always, it was about the Dark Ones and special powers. Did he ever care for her in the first place? Or was it just because they had been through so much together, fighting against the Clow Cards, that he had imagined that he cared for her? Then, when he came back to Japan, he realized that it was childhood immature foolishness.
“Oh ho ho… Syaoran-kun and I really wanted to see this movie. Right?” Tomoyo nudged Syaoran who mumbled some sort of answer.
“I’ll walk you home, Sakura,” Eron said,
taking her arm. His golden eyes met Syaoran’s amber ones. They glared at
As Tomoyo watched Sakura and Eron walk out she commented, "Poor Syaoran-kun... You'll really be missing out on your chance if you're not becareful."
"What do you mean?" Syaoran plunked the black cap back on his head.
"Eron-kun plays his game to get what he wants." Tomoyo fingered her lavender ribbon.
"Well, he can do what he wants," Syaoran said. "But just because he's like that doesn't mean that I have to be like that."
Tomoyo dissolved the information, her violet eyes grave. "If you mean, you'd rather care for Sakura's happiness, you better watch out because she won't be happy unless the person she most cares for returns her love. And people like Eron can easily push soft hearted people like Sakura."
"Sakura's not stupid. She knows what she's doing. Out of all people, Eron can never be the right person," Syaoran said darkly. Then he slammed his fist into the wall, betraying his cool words.
Tomoyo cringed as people stared at the crack that had formed on the theater wall. Syaoran bent over. Concerned she asked, "Syaoran-kun, what's the matter?"
Looking up with puppy eyes, Syaoran held out his red hand. "Ouch... That hurt... Didn't know the wall was marble stone."
"Ho ho ho..." Tomoyo sweat-dropped.
Wish-chan: Well... Meirin's gone now... poor Meirin-chan. I told you I had a soft spot for people who have to give up their love. And I warn, you haven't seen the last of Kaitou Magician. Umm... I had to divide this chapter up because it was too long. Oh yeah, some people questioned me about the spelling of Meirin's name. Meiling, Meilin... uh... I think "Meilin" looks the best, but then, I don't know. When I began the story, somehow, Meirin stuck. I guess it's cuz I saw it spelled that form first. Also, Syaoran has many versions, such as Shaolan, Xiaolang, etc. Since I spelt Syaoran with an 'r' I thought of consistancy and splet Meirin with a 'r.'
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