Chapter 38: Identity Crisis
Daidouji Tomoyo¡¦ Poor thing¡¦ Uncared for, unloved, and ignored. All because of Kinomoto Sakura. It¡¯s all her fault. Your so-called best friend. What did she ever do for you, after all you did for her? The Phantom said.
¡°I¡¯m sorry Phantom-san, but you¡¯re mistaken about something,¡± Tomoyo replied out loud. Only Tomoyo would be so polite to a dark force. Though she could not see the Phantom, having no special powers, she could still hear its haunting voice. ¡°Sakura is my best friend.¡±
Come, pretty one. Surrender your soul to me, and you need no longer have any worries, the Phantom coaxed.
¡°I¡¯m sorry but please leave me alone,¡± Tomoyo said, keeping her voice level.
Stubborn one, aren¡¯t
you¡¦ Different that you look. In fact, much stronger
than your father though you¡¯re only a girl. I had less trouble controlling him.
Yet, I breed on human¡¯s darkest secrets and deepest fears. And I will be able
to control your mind and body.
Tilting her chin up, Tomoyo said in a firm tone, ¡°What do you think I am? I will never betray anyone, let alone Sakura. I¡¯m sorry Phantom-san, but I have to finish making the costumes for Star-Crossed.¡±
I admire the strength
and morality in your character. However, the stronger you are, the more fun it
is to break you. It¡¯s a pity you have such a compassionate, kind heart. Should
I have it frozen into a cold, emotionless crystal?
Nervously, Tomoyo swerved around to see a long arrow dart her way. No sound came from her mouth as it pierced through her heart, and she felt a chill sensation creep from inside out.
¡°Sakura must be hurt and much subdued, having her best friend betray her,¡± Eron commenting, toying with his crystal wine glass. It was one of his hobbies: collecting clear, crystal objects. Icy and translucent, beautiful to gaze upon, but cold as a glacier.
¡°I don¡¯t know. She¡¯s been putting up with it better than I expected,¡± Erika said. ¡°Boring. I would have liked to have seen Tomoyo and Sakura¡¯s confrontation. They¡¯re such a goody-goody twosome, that I would like to see them fight for once.¡± She flopped onto the velvet covered couch. ¡°So, what do you think about your name being connected with Sakura¡¯s? Gossip says that she dumped you. Ha ha! Imagine, the great Chang Eron being dumped by a girl. A stupid little Card Mistress.¡±
Narrowing his golden
hazel eyes, Eron glared at Erika.
¡°Okay, okay, don¡¯t
glare at me like that. I¡¯m sorry.¡± Laughing, Erika gently took the glass out of
Eron¡¯s hand and placed it back into the cabinet. Her twin had a nasty habit of
breaking things. ¡°Just in case you break it. That
one¡¯s expensive. Now, don¡¯t glare at me like that, onii-chan. I know you would
never be as senseless enough to go out with a girl like Sakura, let alone let
her dump you.¡±
Thoughtfully, Eron sat up on the couch. ¡°What if I do go out with her?¡±
¡°That would be very
nice. Very interesting¡¦ Wait a minute. What did you say?¡± Erika bolted
up in her seat.
¡°What if I do go out
with Kinomoto Sakura?¡± Eron replied, calmly.
¡°Ha ha¡¦ Good joke. I thought you were serious for a second.¡±
Laughing, Erika sank back down on the couch.
¡°I am serious,¡± Eron answered, not looking directly at his twin sister.
Without bothering to
reply, Erika stared at her twin with hard golden eyes.
Expertly changing the
subject, Eron said, ¡°The Phantom¡¯s having a harder time in controlling Daidouji
Tomoyo than we expected.¡±
¡°Well no wonder. We
all know the ¡®unbreakable¡¯ friendship those to have. Disgusting,¡± Erika said.
¡°A heart is a beautiful thing, but all the more beautiful if it¡¯s frozen into a
brittle crystal, cold and unfeeling.¡±
¡°Good. Are you learning from the Riddle?¡± Eron asked. ¡°A very nice piece of riddle, indeed. ¡®a heart is more beautiful if it¡¯s emotionless.¡¯ Ha ha.¡±
¡°No. I¡¯m speaking
from experience,¡± Erika said. ¡°With no emotions, you¡¯ll never get hurt.¡±
¡°What are you doing?¡± Kero demanded, floating out a flower basket in which he temporarily slept in while staying in Syaoran¡¯s apartment. It was the middle of the night.
Blinking, Sakura asked, ¡°You¡¯re awake? Shh¡¦ Don¡¯t wake Syaoran.¡± Tiptoeing, she crept across the hallway to Syaoran¡¯s room. ¡°Grr¡¦ Syaoran locked his door again.¡±
¡°So, what are you doing?¡± Kero asked again, while Sakura fumbled around for a hairpin and deftly slid it into the keyhole. With a click, the door unlocked.
¡°There!¡± Sakura carefully opened the door and crept in, without disturbing Syaoran, who was sleeping in his bed.
¡°Now, where did you learn how to do that?¡± Kero-chan asked in awe.
¡°Pick locks?¡± Sakura grinned sheepishly. ¡°Well, I don¡¯t live next to a former thief for no reason. I got Kai-kun to teach me last week. Now, shh¡¦ Syaoran¡¯s a light sleeper.¡±
Quietly, she walked up to Syaoran¡¯s desk and scanned the rows of book neatly aligned on the bookshelf with the help of the faint glow of the Light Card, so that she could read the letters. Sitting in Syaoran¡¯s chair, she spread the Five Force Scroll across the wooden desk and opened up his Chinese spell books.
¡°What are you doing in the Brat¡¯s room?¡± Kero-chan demanded for the last time. ¡°Hmm¡¦ the Brat actually looks cute when he¡¯s sleeping.¡±
Ignoring Kero-chan, Sakura fingered the scroll and murmured, ¡°The Phantom¡¦ related to the darkest of forces, has no visible weaknesses. Breeds on human fear and uncertainty¡¦¡± Turning to one of Syaoran¡¯s thick, old books, Sakura began flipping through the pages, carefully reading the Chinese text and thanking Syaoran again for casting the language spell on her ages ago. She read out loud, ¡°There is little evidence that the Phantom can be conquered. It has nothing to fear since its existence is fear¡¦ The only thing it may be afraid of is¡¦¡±
Stretching, she yawned. For the past days, ever since the beginning of her troubles at school from the gossips, she had slept. Now, the gossip had died down to hissing murmurs. And Tomoyo¡¦ Tomoyo hadn¡¯t been at school all week. Sakura murmured, ¡°Tomoyo-chan¡¦ I know that you¡¯re still there. Just wait. I¡¯ll find a way to save you. Now let¡¯s see¡¦ one of the most powerful of the dark forces¡¦ the Phantom¡¦¡±
¡°Silly¡¦ falling asleep on my desk again,¡± Syaoran murmured as he woke up the next morning to find Sakura hunched up over piles of books on his desk and sleeping with her head on top of them, breathing softly. Carefully, he took the opened books and put them back into the shelf. Sakura slightly stirred, but continued sleeping.
¡°What are you talking about?¡± Kero-chan asked, hovering above Sakura¡¯s head.
¡°Didn¡¯t you know? For the past week, she has been staying up all night researching books to find out more about the Dark Forces, especially the Phantom, so that she could find out how to seal it. For Tomoyo of course. Despite all the pain she has suffered at school, she¡¯s still determined to overcome it.¡± Syaoran stared outside his window. ¡°In the past few days, she came to my room at midnight to look through my books, fell asleep at the desk, and woke up at dawn to return to her room. But I guess today, she was too tired and overworked.¡±
¡°Oh!¡± Kero-chan finally understood. ¡°That¡¯s why she came into your room to look in your complex research books. And she tried to be all secretive about it because she didn¡¯t want to disturb anyone else. How like her.¡±
¡°She¡¯s going to get sick if she continues to pressure herself this much,¡± Syaoran said in a worried tone.
Staring at Syaoran with a strange look, Kero-chan commented, ¡°You know, not that I¡¯m any good at predicting, but I can almost swear that... there¡¯s something going on. Between you two.¡±
¡°What d¡¯you mean?¡± Syaoran asked, wearing his school jacket. ¡°Stupid stuffed animal.¡±
¡°Anyway, how did you know all this about Sakura? Weren¡¯t you supposed to be sleeping?¡± Kero-chan demanded.
¡°Do you really think I can sleep in peaceful bliss when she¡¯s in my room through the whole night?¡± Syaoran asked flatly.
¡°No¡¦ Then, why didn¡¯t you offer to help her?¡± Kero-chan demanded. Then, Kero-chan raised an eyebrow. Come to think of it, how come all the books related to Dark Magic were neatly arranged on the front shelf, where they were easy to locate? And why were their special bookmarks in these books, inserted presumably by Syaoran. To make the research easier for Sakura?
Shaking his head, Syaoran said, ¡°You have to respect a person¡¯s wishes at times. Sometimes, people prefer to do things alone, while others, they want someone to help them. Right now, Sakura feels like what happened to Tomoyo is her fault, so she wants to resolve it herself. It¡¯s not my place to interfere.¡±
¡°So, you help her in discreet ways¡¦ Like intentionally placing the books in order for her to find them easier,¡± Kero-chan muttered.
¡°Wha-what?! I didn¡¯t do anything like that!¡± Syaoran stammered, turning red.
¡°But why in the world did you lock your room if you want to help Sakura?¡± Kero-chan questioned.
Syaoran muttered, ¡°It¡¯s to protect myself¡¦¡±
BAM// BAM// CRASH!!!
¡°Ouch! Protect yourself from who?¡± Mizuki Kai, the notorious phantom thief Kaitou Magician¡¯s alter ego for the moment, stumbled in from Syaoran¡¯s room through the balcony window. ¡°Sheesh¡¦ When did you install these extra high-security locks? Even I had trouble unlocking these.¡± Carelessly, he tossed the remains of the thick steel lock into the trashcan.
¡°Ever since you moved in next doors,¡± Syaoran said dryly. ¡°Now, don¡¯t tell me you broke the fifth lock system I¡¯ve inserted on the window. Can¡¯t you enter the normal way?¡±
Shrugging, Kai replied, ¡°This is the normal way for me.¡±
¡°Shh¡¦ You¡¯re going to wake Sakura-chan,¡± Kero-chan scolded.
¡°Arf arf!¡± Wolfie-chan agreed.
¡°AH! I hate dogs!¡± Kai screamed, jumping onto Syaoran¡¯s desk.
¡°Already awake,¡± Sakura said, rubbing her eyes. Then Sakura said wryly, ¡°Now Kaitou-kun, I heard you were suspended from school again.¡±
¡°Oh. I wanted a break from school anyway,¡± Kai shrugged, helping himself to a bag of chips on Syaoran¡¯s table. Sheesh¡¦ When did Sakura hear that he was suspended¡¦ Now he would never hear the end of it. Kero-chan eyed the chips wistfully.
Sakura shook her head disapprovingly. ¡°Well, if you¡¯re planning on reforming, I think you should do it properly. Or go back to your old ways.¡± She then walked out the room to get ready for school. Another one of her worries these days was Kaitou Magician, alias Mizuki Kai¡¦ A person full of enigma and mystery, and one who caused plenty of headache. Yet, a good person inside, or so she believed.
After she changed and packed her bag, she called, ¡°Syaoran, I¡¯m going to school first! I have classroom duty this morning!¡±
¡°Wait! You have to eat breakfast!¡± Syaoran shouted. Then he sighed.
¡°Haha¡¦ You sound like a mother or something. Hmm¡¦ What should I do today?¡± Kai pondered. ¡°Oh! I know! We can finish up that videogame match today, pal!¡± He slapped Kero-chan¡¯s back. Those two had become tight ¡®friends¡¯ in no time, challenging each other in all varieties of videogames. In fact Kero-chan spent more time over at Kai¡¯s house that at Syaoran¡¯s, except during meal times.
¡°I¡¯ll beat you this time!¡± Kero-chan stated.
¡°Never!¡± Kai replied. Then, adjusting his sunglasses, he asked Syaoran innocently, ¡°Now, what was Sakura doing in your room again? Hmm?¡±
¡°Kai,¡± Syaoran said quietly.
¡°Are you two going out? Or playing ¡®married couple¡¯ game? Oh, I know, you¡¯re just playing ¡®guardian¡¯ while her brother and father are away. Or so you would say¡¦¡±
¡°Eh? What¡¯s with that serious tone all of a sudden?¡± Kai asked, freaking out.
¡°Isn¡¯t it hard keeping back so many secrets?¡± Syaoran asked.
¡°What secrets?¡± Kai asked lightly.
¡°I don¡¯t know about you, but it¡¯s really hard for me. Really hard.¡± Syaoran fingered the patched up wolf embroidery that Sakura had made him last Christmas.
Gravely Kai said, ¡°I know I shouldn¡¯t be talking¡¦ But I think it¡¯s better to just do what you want to and what you can at the moment and stop thinking about the future. As a thief, my life was a matter of survival; each night, it was a game of stealing one painting, jewelry, or precious treasure successfully. What awaited the next night was a matter to think of then. My motto was simply to seize the day.¡±
This left Syaoran silent for a moment. Then he commented, ¡°You know, you actually have some smart things to say once in a while.¡±
Since Sakura left for school early because she had class duties, and Kai was suspended for that day, Syaoran was on his own. It was rare for him to walk to school alone. The autumn air was cool, giving him a refreshing feeling. Leaves of amber, golden, and red were falling from the trees. It carpeted the road and crunched underneath his feet as he walked.
For a moment, he halted on the King Penguin park bridge and gazed down at the creek below. A lot of crazy things had happened since he returned to Japan one autumn day. The craziest of all was when Sakura somehow ended up staying at his house. It had been a funny occurrence. It caused plenty of squabbling and a chance to break into each other¡¯s weaknesses. He had learned how Sakura stomped around the apartment when in a hurry, neglected watching the oven and blowing up whatever she was baking, hummed when she was in a good mood, spent one hour trying to solve a single math problem, and took forever while taking a bath. Every so often, if there was a loud thump in the middle of the night, it was because she had fallen off the bed. During the past few months, he had learned all about her other sides, the good and bad. There was still so much to know about Sakura and her different faces.
Sighing, Syaoran stared up at the crisp blue sky. For some reason, his head felt clearer and more focused than it had in a while, and he felt peaceful and calm.
¡°Li Syaoran, take the Sword of the Li clan. It has been handed down for many generations, through your great ancestors. Use it well, to fight off any foes that may prevent your mission. Remember, accomplish your mission faithfully and hold honor to your name. You are a ¡®chosen one.¡¯ Take that liberty to excel your powers,¡± the Great Elder had told him at age ten. At that time, he had just been an angry, determined boy. After his mission, which he failed in, had been completed, he had dutifully returned to Hong Kong. Because his mother and elders desired him to.
Last year, when he felt a ripple of new dark powers emerge, Syaoran had returned to Japan, running away from home and leaving a note of apology to his mother, who had been in her own way understanding. He still remembered vividly a phone call around late fall, early winter from his eldest uncle who was the second most prominent member of the Li Clan, next to his Great Uncle, who was the Head of the Li Clan and the Great Elder of the Li Council.
¡°Li Syaoran, I command you to come back, as the eldest brother of your dead father. That is what Li Ryuuren would have wanted,¡± his great Uncle said.
¡°I¡¯m sorry, Uncle. I
can¡¯t. I have obligations here,¡± Syaoran replied politely.
¡°You have obligations
to your family,¡± his
uncle replied harshly. ¡°You are the Chosen One. There are yet many duties
you have to accomplish for the Li Clan. I know what. You think you love that
new Card Mistress. You think you should be in Japan to be with her. Well, I¡¯ll
tell you want thing. As you know, the Li clan is specialized in
prophesy-making. And one thing for sure is things are never meant to work for
you two. That¡¯s the order of the stars and the universe. So
now, before you get further involved into this foolishness, return. You
are too young and unwise yet to waste your life with wrong decisions.¡±
Trying to keep his
voice from shaking, Syaoran said, ¡°You¡¯re mistaken Elder Uncle. I do not
have any special feelings toward Kinomoto, other than as a comrade in past
battles.¡± He clenched his teeth, hoping that he sounded calm and
convincing. It took all of his guts to stand up to his eldest uncle.
¡°That¡¯s good to hear.
I¡¯m glad to have such a wise nephew.¡±
¡°But, I still can¡¯t
return to Hong Kong yet. While I¡¯m here, I can gain new powers. And the Dark
Ones are fatal foes to our family as well, and I will like to fight them and
Clucking, his uncle
replied, ¡°I still believe you¡¯re making a terrible mistake Syaoran. But do
as you wish. I hold nothing over you and can¡¯t force you to come back yet. I
have no choice but to let you stay in Japan.¡±
¡°Thank you, uncle.¡± Syaoran sighed in relief.
¡°Yet that is on one condition. You may not, and listen carefully, you may not involve yourself in any frivolous relationship with that girl. Don¡¯t take my words lightly, Syaoran. I know you¡¯re wise enough. Remember my warning. If you don¡¯t want to hurt yourself or that girl, do not to lose your head. Keep some pride at least, as a Li. Your stay in Japan will be as long as you are working towards becoming a Level One Magician. If I, or any other person finds out that you have been wasting time doing something else, you will at once be ordered to return to Hong Kong, and you will not dare defy the will of the Elder.¡±
The thing Syaoran
regretted most in life was not failing in becoming the Clow Card Master, not
returning to Japan, nor not being able to be more than
a friend to Sakura. He didn¡¯t regret the times he argued with Sakura, nor yet
the times she shouted at him angrily for one reason or another.
What he regretted most was listening to his stern uncle¡¯s words, and actually letting him control his life. He most regretted a certain day last winter. That cold, snowy day, when Sakura gazed at him with luminous emerald eyes¡¦ The veiled hurt in her eyes as he said with a strained voice, ¡°You know that I don¡¯t have special feelings about you anymore, right? All those things that happened back in those days before I left to Hong Kong is past.¡±
Her face was frozen in an expressionless mask
as she replied, ¡°Right.¡±
It had taken every
bit of effort to say to her in an emotionless voice, ¡°Good. I¡¯m glad that we
sorted the things between us. I don¡¯t like it when things are uncomfortable...
Don¡¯t feel pressured about this, or anything. Nothing much has changed
between... Just now, we have things straight.¡± Because,
everything had changed. He had lied to her, and himself. If she hated
him forever, he really didn¡¯t blame her. If she lost all faith and trust in
him, it was his fault. Yet, he had no choice. It was the only way he could
force the reality on himself, the only way he could continue on living in Japan
and look over Sakura.
That summer, she told
him with sorrowful eyes, ¡°I was so confused, I wanted you to explain to me
why you fought by my side and acted so kind at times, yet always turned that
cold face on me. Tell me, did you hurt me because you are my rival and enemy?
Then why do you help me? Is it to hurt me again? I want to trust you, yet how
can I trust you when you make my heart hurt so much? Are you lying to me again?¡±
Syaoran gripped the
bridge railings tightly. Say one thing, act another. Assert something, then contradict later on. What kind of person was he? He
stated that he was a hypocrite. He was just a cowardly person—not that wasn¡¯t the right word. He wasn¡¯t afraid of physical
pain or death. But he was afraid to confront his feelings, afraid of what might
happen, afraid of facing any more pain in his life. Though he was ashamed of
it, he had to admit that his family could control him under their will. He
couldn¡¯t even stand up to his uncle. Father, what did you feel like having
an older brother like my uncle?
Then, Syaoran remembered the soft glow in Sakura¡¯s eyes that summer in the train to Kusakou as she said, ¡°Who says I hate you? Syaoran¡¦ I do trust you. I do believe in you.¡±
She thought of him as a friend. A good, trustworthy friend. Yet, was that all?
¡°I still don¡¯t accept you as Card Captor,¡± he said to roughly her when they first met, more than five years ago.
Smiling, Sakura replied, ¡°It¡¯s okay. I¡¯ll keep trying!¡± Her emerald green eyes seemed to see straight inside him.
A gust of cool wind blew, and Syaoran felt the wind sweep back his chestnut brown hair from his face. For the first time, he realized that he was no longer scared, no longer apprehensive about the future. Carpedigm. To seize the day. He smiled. He finally knew what he wanted. No once could control his life, except himself.
¡°Everyone! Practice! You should have memorized your lines by now!¡± the teacher organizing the production barked at the students. The school theater was chaotic these days, everyone busy with the final touches to the production. There were heaps of things to yet get ready. Not all of the scenery was painted yet; the orchestra, which was provided by Seijou High was unorganized; the major costumes were not ready; the lighting and technician crew was a mess; some students still didn¡¯t know their lines.
¡°Li Syaoran! Where is Li-san?¡± the teacher demanded.
¡°Sensei, Li Syaoran didn¡¯t come to school today,¡± Chiharu said.
Syaoran didn¡¯t come to school? I wonder why. He was fine this morning. Sighing, Sakura walked to the vending machine to buy a drink. The whole production was turning into a mess. And it was because Tomoyo was no longer taking charge in running it. Sakura¡¯s heart leaped. A girl with long wavy hair pulled back by a blue ribbon was standing by the staircase. Tomoyo¡¦
¡°What are you staring at?¡± Tomoyo asked, staring at Sakura with blank violet eyes. Abruptly, she brushed past her.
Taking a deep breath, Sakura tried not to look behind to see Tomoyo walk off, back into the auditorium. I thought we¡¯ll always be together, no matter what. Yes, I always took our friendship for granted. I never realized how much I treasured it until I lost it.
¡°Want me to buy you a drink?¡± A smooth voice came from beside her.
¡°Hoe?¡± Sakura turned around to face Eron¡¯s bright gold-hazel eyes.
Without waiting for an answer, Eron inserted the coins into the machine and pressed the button for Coke twice. Opening one can, he handed it to Sakura and took the other for himself.
¡°T-thank you.¡± Sakura took a gulp of the drink, trying to keep her face from turning red. Eron must also have heard all the rumors about her.
¡°I don¡¯t get to see you around a lot these days,¡± Eron commented. ¡°You¡¯re always busy, running here and there.¡±
¡°Y-yeah. You¡¯re busy too. You were away for the soccer tournament and we¡¯re all busy preparing for the school production¡¦¡± Sakura didn¡¯t add that she was avoiding most people ever since all the rumors started.
¡°You seemed really troubled,¡± Eron said, staring at the soda can.
¡°I¡¯m not,¡± Sakura lied. ¡°What makes you think so?¡±
¡°By that look on your face.¡± Eron smiled kindly. ¡°But I¡¯m sure things would work out fine.¡±
Sakura stared at Eron with pensive emerald eyes. She always had mixed feelings about Eron. In one way, he seemed nice and fun to be with. Yet, at the same time, she was always wary around him, wondering if she could trust him.
Leaning against the wall, Eron crossed his arms and stared out of the window. ¡°We meet many people in our lifetime. Yet, they say that you will only find one really true friend in that short period called ¡®life.¡¯ And you and Tomoyo-san have that inseparable, true friendship, one that I envy sometimes. It¡¯s not easy to find that kind of loyal friend, so it¡¯s important to keep that friendship precious, no matter what. So, I know things will be fine with you and Tomoyo-san.¡±
¡°Thank you Eron. For understanding.¡± Sakura smiled brightly. Maybe he really was a nice person after all.
¡°There. You¡¯re smiling now. I hope that is a special smile reserved only for me, right?¡± Eron said. ¡°You know, love is the same. It¡¯s a one in a million search. Well, I hear the music teacher calling for ¡®Paris.¡¯ That¡¯s me. See you around.¡± Quietly, before walking past her, Eron murmured, ¡°Everyone possesses a dark, phantom side in themselves. There¡¯s no way to vanquish it unless you see the truth.¡±
Startled, Sakura spun around, only to see the flick of Eron¡¯s long purple-black pony tail. Why was her heart pounding faster?
There¡¯s no one to talk to, Sakura thought as she entered the auditorium. No one to joke with. No one to whisper secrets to. It seemed funny that the only people who were talking to her in normal terms was the three that her name had been linked to in the nasty gossips. Syaoran, Eron, and Kai (who was suspended from school anyway for that day.)
¡°Did you hear? Mizuki Kai-san from class 3-2 was suspended from school!¡± one girl whispered.
¡°I heard that it was because he was carrying a lighter to school,¡± someone replied. ¡°A solid gold lighter.¡±
¡°Really? I heard that it was because he was carrying a knife to school,¡± another girl added. ¡°Isn¡¯t that so fascinating?¡±
¡°Wrong, it¡¯s because he got into a fist fight with some high schoolers. You know. That bad gang everyone¡¯s scared of,¡± one of the guys interjected with thrill.
Shaking her head, Sakura noted how fast idle rumors at school. It wasn¡¯t like this before; the whole school seemed to be polluted. Then frowning, she swerved around. Why did she get the feeling that someone was watching her? Then her mind clicked; she should know by now. It was Clow Reed¡¯s power¡¦ which meant, Eriol was in Japan. Hoe? No way¡¦
¡°Why are you just standing there?¡± Suppi-chan asked from his hiding position in a tree.
Leaning against the tree, with his arms folded, Eriol replied, ¡°I¡¯m thinking.¡±
¡°Aren¡¯t you going to go to school? We¡¯re practically across the street from Seijou Junior High,¡± Suppi-chan commented. ¡°Ah ha, I know. You¡¯re wondering how to make your entrance. Whether you should shock everyone as a new transfer student from England¡¦¡±
¡°Too worn out and overused by everyone,¡± Eriol commented blandly.
¡°Or create some new trouble for Sakura. Make the sun disappear, or create a big storm¡¦¡±
¡°Already done before.¡±
¡°Or just wait and see what happens¡¦¡± Suppi-chan suggested.
¡°Maybe¡¦¡± Eriol said, with a thoughtful look in his midnight blue eyes.
¡°Mommy, look! That guy¡¯s been standing on King Penguin Park Bridge for four hours!¡± A little boy pointed.
Startled, Syaoran lifted up his stiff arm to see his watch, to find that he wasn¡¯t wearing one. Seeing that the sun was high in the sky, it was past noon. ¡°Shoot, I¡¯m really late for school!¡±
Quickly, he began running to Seijou Junior High. Suddenly, he halted inside the school gates. Was he losing his mind, or did he just feel Clow Reed¡¯s power lurking around somewhere. Since there was no one around, he drew out his sword and tip-toed toward the trees.
¡°Hey, do you feel someone creeping up our back, Suppi?¡± an amused male voice asked. ¡°Don¡¯t tell me the fun is already over.¡±
¡°I guess that last option really worked quickly. ¡®Wait and see.¡¯ Too bad you¡¯re caught already Eriol,¡± Suppi-chan replied.
With his hands on his hips, Syaoran was about to demand what Eriol was doing in Japan, but instead he calmly said, ¡°Good morning Hiiragizawa Eriol.¡±
Suppi-chan and Eriol sweatdropped.
¡°He actually said a civil thing to you,¡± Suppi-chan whispered. ¡°First time!¡±
¡°He must be in a really good mood,¡± Eriol whispered back. Then smiling politely, he greeted, ¡°Good afternoon, Li Syaoran. It¡¯s after twelve now¡¦ I would have expected you to be in class though.¡±
¡°I would have expected you to be in London,¡± Syaoran said flatly.
¡°Well, I¡¯ve returned. I need to look after Miho. Kaho is in Paris right now. Sakura¡¯s brother and Yue are returning in a week,¡± Eriol said.
¡°What kind of answer is that?¡± puzzled Syaoran. ¡°Isn¡¯t your point merely, ¡®I¡¯m bored, there¡¯s more interesting things happening in Japan; here I am?¡¯¡±
¡°Well, you can put it that way,¡± Eriol replied.
¡°ERRRIOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLL!¡± came a high, loud screech. Tanaka Miho came running out of the school building. ¡°Why didn¡¯t you tell me you were coming back to Japan? I thought I felt your aura in Japan earlier this week, but I thought I was mistaken.¡±
Sweat-dropping, Suppi-chan said, ¡°So much for your surprise entrance, Eriol. I think Clow Reed¡¯s powers are too distinct for people to not recognize.¡±
Looking on the bright side, Eriol replied, ¡°Well, I can at least surprise Sakura-san!¡±
¡°Eriol-kun!¡± Sakura jumped out of the classroom window, which was luckily in the first floor. ¡°You¡¯ve come back? I thought I felt Clow Reed¡¯s power.¡±
Sighing, Eriol said, ¡°So much for my grand entrance. So, how has things been lately?¡±
¡°Hey guys! Hiiragizawa Eriol-kun, who transferred back to England in fifth grade is back!¡± Naoko called. It was lunch break and everyone was streaming out of their classes.
¡°Really? Where?!¡± A whole bunch of students most of them who knew Eriol from elementary, and others merely attracted by the crowd, came rushing out gathering around Eriol.
¡°How is England?¡±
¡°Are you transferring to our school?¡±
¡°Do you have a girlfriend?¡±
¡°You didn¡¯t change! You¡¯re still kakkoi (cool)~¡±
¡°Your glasses make you look sexy!¡±
¡°Hey, Hiiragizawa-kun! Remember me!¡± Yamazaki Takashi waved. ¡°Remember that story about chocolates?¡±
¡°Of course I do!¡± Eriol replied smiling. ¡°Hey did you hear that one story about candy?¡±
¡°Yup! Ages ago¡¦ But then, there is another story about¡¦¡±
¡°Takashi, you come here!¡± Chiharu grabbed Takashi¡¯s ear and dragged him back into the building. ¡°Sorry Hiiragizawa-kun. See you around!¡±
Sweat-dropping, Miho commented to Eriol, ¡°Well, seems like you¡¯re pretty popular around here, anyway. I must note that people around here have peculiar taste. First they drool over people like Chang Eron and Akagi Aki, both who are big flirts and have a prince syndrome. Then, they think ¡®tough¡¯ guys like Mizuki Kai are cool. Now, this weird, strange person, Eriol, is actually considered cool.¡±
¡°Humph¡¦ Just because you heard me talking to myself this summer, you think I¡¯m weird,¡± Eron mumbled.
Scowling, Aki, who had overheard Miho¡¯s comment demanded, ¡°Why don¡¯t you say anything about the girls drooling over Li Syaoran? He¡¯s popular among the girls, too.¡±
Shrugging, Miho said, ¡°Now, I don¡¯t blame them for liking Syaoran-kun~¡±
Aki gaped. ¡°What kind of bias is that?¡±
¡°Think about it. What kind of retarded girl would drool over some punk-dude juvenile delinquent like Mizuki-senpai? (senpai = upperclassman.) Let alone a shallow, player like you, Aki. Right Eriol?¡± Miho blinked innocently at Eriol with round smoke gray eyes.
¡°Grr¡¦ Show more respect to your elders,¡± Aki grumbled.
Squinting her eyes, Sakura gazed up at the roof of the school. She saw someone leaning against the wire fencing and looking down at the crowd. His black sunglasses glinted in the sunlight. Their voices carries all the way up there through the wind. Wait¡¦ wasn¡¯t he suspended for school that day?
The next day¡¦
¡°You know, the other classes complain that only our class gets all the cool new students,¡± Naoko said, during the Star-Crossed rehearsal hour.
¡°All the cool knew guys you mean,¡± another girl added, giggling and eyeing Eriol, looking sharp in the Seijou Junior High uniform, his blue-black hair perfectly parted. ¡°We got Mizuki Kai, as well. Now, he¡¯s really cool too, even though he always get into trouble with the teachers.¡±
¡°Thank you, my ladies,¡± Kai bowed, plucking a rose from the air and handing it out to the gaping girls.
¡°You¡¯re such a big flirt,¡± Miho criticized, crossing her arms.
¡°Not particularly,¡± Kai replied. ¡°It¡¯s just my policy that it never hurts to bribe people. You never know when you can use them. Life is all about charm and illusion.¡± With a flick of his wrist, he drew out an aqua blue silk scarf from an empty closed fist. Then a red scarf appeared, then a green, then a pink. He snapped his fingers and the scarves turned into a bouquet of flowers. Then, he snapped again and the flowers caught a flame and burned up into ashes.
¡°Mizuki-san, if you¡¯re not going to be useful, please go away. You¡¯re not even in the musical, why are you hanging around here?¡± Aki said. He held a special grudge against Kai because his popularity with the girls had fallen ever since Kai appeared. It had fallen even more since Eriol transferred, also.
¡°A musical? That sounds interesting,¡± Eriol commented, as he watched the bustling students in amusement.
¡°Don¡¯t you want to join in it?¡± Sakura asked.
¡°Isn¡¯t it too late?¡± Eriol said.
¡°There¡¯s plenty to do still¡¦ Scenery painting, prop making¡¦ Oh, you¡¯re good at piano. You can join the orchestra,¡± Sakura suggested.
¡°I think I¡¯ll just sit back and watch this time,¡± Eriol replied.
¡°Well, at least you would be useful if you did help, unlike somebody,¡± Miho commented, eying Kai critically.
¡°Thank you very much,¡± Kai replied. Taking a deck of cards from his pocket, he absent-mindedly began doing tricks with it. He didn¡¯t notice the looks of awe as he made the cards appear, disappear, and shuffle them in unique ways with his sleight of hand. Only Eriol noticed that Kai had dropped several cards on the floor, a mistake that no magician would ever make.
¡°Humph, I can do that too!¡± Miho stated, taking the deck of cards and doing an elaborate shuffle.
¡°Wow, Miho-chan, that¡¯s great!¡± People awed. ¡°Can you do anything else?¡±
¡°Umm¡¦¡± Miho turned red. ¡°Ah¡¦¡±
¡°You can¡¯t,¡± Kai said flatly, and took back his deck of cards.
¡°Here. You dropped these,¡± Eriol said, picking up a few cards and handing it to Kai with a smile. In return, Kai glared at Eriol.
¡°One more person to the Eriol hate-list,¡± Suppi-chan, hidden inside Eriol¡¯s bag, muttered.
When they had a chance to be alone, Eriol quietly asked Sakura, ¡°I hope that you don¡¯t mind me asking, Sakura-san¡¦ but there seems to be something troubling you. About Tomoyo-san.¡±
Sakura looked up in surprised. Eriol hadn¡¯t been in school for even a day yet.
¡°Did someone tell you?¡±
Shaking his head, Eriol replied, ¡°I noticed on my own.¡±
¡°You¡¯re as observant as ever, Eriol-kun,¡± Sakura said wryly.
¡°Juliet! Oh Juliet! You have to enter now!¡± the teacher called.
¡°Sorry sensei! Coming!¡± Sakura quickly ran up to the front stage. ¡°See you around, Eriol-kun!¡±
¡°You¡¯re Juliet Capulet?¡± Eriol asked. ¡°The lead female protagonist?¡±
¡°Hoe¡¦ I guess it turned out that way,¡± Sakura said, before disappearing behind the stage.
¡°Then I wonder who Romeo Montague is,¡± Eriol murmured.
¡°Li Syaoran, of course,¡± Miho said. ¡°Who would make a better Romeo?¡±
¡°Me,¡± Aki grumbled.
¡°Tomoyo herself was the one who trained Syaoran in singing, and there is no one more perfect for the part,¡± Miho said. ¡°Thinking about it though, Tomoyo¡¯s been acting strange lately. I hardly ever see her, even if I¡¯m staying in her house.¡±
¡°I better thank Tomoyo for looking after you until now,¡± Eriol said. ¡°And you can stay at my house now. I think I¡¯m going to stay in Japan for quite a while this time.¡±
¡°Humph. I don¡¯t see why you treat me like a baby. I don¡¯t need anyone to look after me anymore. I¡¯m a big girl now. I¡¯m only like a year or two younger than all the rest of you,¡± Miho complained. ¡°Maybe I should rent my own apartment. Like Syaoran-kun.¡±
When Eriol smiled as an answer, it made Miho even more exasperated.
¡°Look! There¡¯s Tomoyo. Tomoyo!¡± Miho waved. ¡°I memorized all my lines as narrator! I¡¯m so proud of myself.¡±
Tomoyo looked up, not at Miho but at Eriol. Her pale face was expressionless.
¡°You know, she did change a lot,¡± Miho commented. ¡°She seems so cold these days.¡±
¡°Amazing. Miho still didn¡¯t figure out that Tomoyo is being controlled by a dark force,¡± Syaoran muttered.
¡°Really? She is? Is that why¡¦¡± Miho asked with round gray eyes. ¡°No wonder I heard all these strange things about Sakura these days! Hmm¡¦ But I didn¡¯t notice anything particularly wrong¡¦¡±
¡°It¡¯s because your magic power level is not fully develop yet,¡± Eriol replied.
Sticking out her tongue at Eriol, Miho slumped into a chair.
Then, Syaoran and Eriol bolted up. Syaoran frowned. ¡°Do you smell something burning?¡±
There was shriek, and a voice calling out ¡°FIRE!!!¡±
¡°It¡¯s backstage!¡± Syaoran shouted, running to the stage.
He heard Sakura¡¯s voice from backstage. ¡°People, get out! Don¡¯t push each other! Exit the door in a single file line!¡±
¡°Students! Students! Calm down! I¡¯m going to get the fire extinguisher!¡± the music teacher said. ¡°Li Syaoran, don¡¯t go backstage! Exit the auditorium at once! We have to call the fire fighters! Kinomoto Sakura, come out of there now!¡±
Pushing past the teacher, Syaoran entered the backstage. He was immediately greeted with the heat of the flames at the farthest backside. It hadn¡¯t spread too much yet. Taking off his jacket he began beating it down on the flames.
¡°Syaoran, where¡¯s Tomoyo?¡± Sakura asked.
¡°I don¡¯t know. She wasn¡¯t with the bunch of students exiting the auditorium,¡± Syaoran replied. ¡°Hey, Kai, don¡¯t just stand there watching the fire.¡±
¡°Where is she then? We have to find her!¡± Sakura exclaimed.
¡°What¡¯s happening back here?¡± Miho asked, stepping into the backstage. Her eyes widened as she saw the flames flickering across the backstage. ¡°Fire¡¦¡± She slumped down on her knees, shaking uncontrollably, and buried her face in her hands. She still remembered distinctly the heat of the blazing fire when her house burned down.
Recalling the story of Miho¡¯s past that Eriol had told her last winter in New York, Sakura¡¯s eyes saddened. Poor Miho¡¦ ¡°Miho-chan, I¡¯ll put out the fire. You go outside and wait with the other people. Kai-kun, take her outside and tell the teacher that she doesn¡¯t need to call the fire department; everything¡¯s under control.¡±
¡°All right.¡± More gently than usual, Kai said, taking Miho¡¯s arm, ¡°C¡¯mon, Tanaka. Let¡¯s go outside. Sakura has things under control.¡±
¡°No one¡¯s watching, right?¡± Sakura said. ¡°Key that hides the power of stars. Show your true self to me. I, Sakura command you! Release!¡± Throwing out the Watery, she struck down the pink staff. ¡°Watery! Vanquish the fire!¡±
Immediately, the Watery drenched the backstage with a shower of water.
¡°Phantom! Come out and face me!¡± Sakura demanded.
¡°Sakura-chan!¡± Tomoyo¡¯s voice called out. ¡°Help! The Phantom trapped me here!¡±
Swerving around, Sakura stared at the door that Tomoyo¡¯s voice was coming from. Fire surrounded it. Jumping over the flames, Sakura kicked open the door. ¡°Tomoyo-chan!¡±
¡°Silly, you fell for my trap,¡± Tomoyo laughed. ¡°Why would I ask for help from you? Hmm¡¦ It would hurt everyone very much if I burn down this stage. The production would be ruined, and all the hard effort for nothing.¡±
¡°Don¡¯t you dare try to ruin this stage. Do you know how hard Tomoyo worked to put together this whole production? I¡¯ll never let you, the Phantom destroy it,¡± Sakura said, with the disturbing knowledge that she was surrounded by fire.
¡°Sakura¡¦ I am Tomoyo,¡± Tomoyo replied, smiling. ¡°I am the true Tomoyo, that has been hidden inside me. And I am doing exactly what I want. I will destroy this stage¡¦ Huh?¡± Staring around the backstage, Tomoyo blinked.
Some time in between, the fire had been put out. In a far off corner, Eriol stood holding his sun staff in one hand.
¡°You look pleased with yourself,¡± Suppi-chan commented.
¡°Not really,¡± Eriol said. ¡°What a change. I¡¯m trying to control the strange things happening, not creating them. Next time, I won¡¯t intervene¡¦¡±
¡°Tell me the truth Eriol. You just didn¡¯t want to see the stage burned down because you really want to watch the final production Star-Crossed,¡± Suppi-chan said.
¡°Of course,¡± Eriol replied, smiling.
Surprisingly, there was far less damage in the backstage than had been expected.
¡°I think it must have been Tomoyo¡¯s will which had prevented the Phantom from destroying the stage too much,¡± Sakura commented. ¡°Considering there was a fire, pretty much everything can be repaired in one or two days.¡±
¡°Hmm¡¦ It¡¯s good that there¡¯s little damage¡¦ But how are we going to explain to everyone? Especially about how our teacher ran off and left two students to put out the fire.¡±
¡°We can just say that it was a little fire and it went out on its own because of the lack of oxygen back here,¡± Sakura replied. She was becoming an expert in excuses by now. Then she giggled.
¡°You have an ash smudge on your face. You look like a chimney sweep,¡± Sakura said.
¡°Where?¡± Syaoran rubbed his face with the back of his hands.
¡°Not there. Here.¡± Taking out a handkerchief from the pocket, Sakura wiped the smudge off his right cheek. ¡°You know, I¡¯ve been thinking about a way to seal the Phantom.¡±
¡°And even if our parents couldn¡¯t seal it completely, I know we can,¡± Sakura said. ¡°By the way, why were you late for school yesterday, Syaoran?¡±
¡°I was thinking,¡± Syaoran replied.
¡°For more than four hours?¡± Sakura asked, smothering laughter. ¡°About what?¡±
¡°Many things,¡± Syaoran said. ¡°I¡¦¡±
¡°Tell me later,¡± Sakura said. ¡°If it took you four hours to think it out, maybe it will take even longer to say it. Everyone will be coming back now.¡±
Sighing, Syaoran noted that it was really hard to show Sakura his real self. Really hard.
¡°Wai~¡± Miho shot off the arrow, and completely missed the target. Her class (2-2) combined with Sakura¡¯s (3-2), were doing archery for PE. Everyone had calmed down from the little fire incident.
¡°It was the theater¡¯s ghost!¡± Naoko stated.
¡°I bet it¡¯s because someone dropped a cigarette onto the floor,¡± Aki said. ¡°Many fires are caused that way.¡±
¡°No, didn¡¯t you hear the teacher? It¡¯s just because the backstage got overheated because of the lighting effects,¡± Chiharu said.
¡°No, I know it¡¯s the ghost!¡± Naoko insisted.
¡°Ahh!!! I missed another arrow!¡± Miho wailed.
¡°It¡¯s okay,¡± Syaoran said. ¡°There¡¯s worse people than you. At least you hit the board.¡±
They all eyed Kai, who was not only missing the target but completely missing the board and shooting in the wrong direction. He was clearly the worst in the class, which was no surprise. He had shown little coordination in the sports they had in PE so far. Basketball, soccer, volleyball¡¦
¡°Mizuki-san, maybe it would help if you take off those sunglasses. It¡¯s inside and everything,¡± the PE teacher suggested to Kai, keeping a respectful distance.
¡°Well, I can, but then I won¡¯t be able to see the bull¡¯s eye because of my poor eyesight,¡± Kai replied. ¡°Which probably won¡¯t make a difference¡¦ Ha ha.¡± He shot off another arrow with awful posture, barely missing the teacher.
¡°Here, it would help if you hold the bow at this angle,¡± Sakura suggested to Miho. She and Syaoran were one of the better archers in the class. So was Eriol.
Sighing, Miho said, ¡°I should be better in archery you know.¡± She walked off to the side and sat on the bench to take a break. Her arms were aching for holding up the bow for so long.
¡°Why? It¡¯s really a difficult sport,¡± Sakura said, adjusting the arrow to the bow.
¡°My family, especially on my mother¡¯s side are really good at archery,¡± Miho explained.
¡°Hmm¡¦ Thinking about it, Mizuki-sensei, your cousin, was really good at archery,¡± Sakura recalled.
¡°My brother was a really good at archer also. He was always best at individual sports. He was captain of the archery club back in our old school, you know. And he won the National Youth Archery Competition too,¡± Miho said smiling wistfully.
They were interrupted by the teacher screeching, ¡°Mizuki Kai! This is the tenth time that you almost hit me! If you can¡¯t aim properly, you can sit down and watch Hiiragizawa Eriol and learn.¡±
¡°Really, I can¡¯t believe there is someone worse in archery than me,¡± Naoko awed, who was usually the worst in sports in her class.
With a careless smile curved on his lips and his head tilted in an arrogant manner, Kai told the teacher, ¡°I don¡¯t really see the point of standing still and aiming the arrow at a tiny dot in the other side of the room.¡±
¡°Mizuki-san, you¡¯re completely missing the whole objective of sports,¡± the teacher tried to explain. ¡°And I must once again comment on your dress code. As I said before, earrings are strictly forbidden on guys during PE, and why aren¡¯t you dressed in the same gym clothes like the rest of the students? That black shirt is not acceptable. And please, can¡¯t you do anything about your hair? You can¡¯t convince me that it grew that way—all spiky. Mizuki Kai, are you listening to me? Do you want to get sent to the principal¡¯s office again?¡±
Luckily, Kai was rescued because a shriek came from outside the gym.
¡°A dark force,¡± Sakura murmured. ¡°But somehow, it feels different from the Phantom¡¦¡± Tomoyo was nowhere to be seen. She ran outside, then gasped in shock. The whole school campus was frozen into a solid, clear crystal. The various students around the school were frozen as well. Quickly, she ran back into the gym. The gym was also frozen by now. All her classmates except for the ones with special powers, Syaoran, Miho, Eriol, and Kai, and herself, were frozen stiff.
¡°What happened?¡± Miho asked, staring at the gym in horror.
Bending over and examining the frozen bench, Syaoran replied, ¡°Just as I expected. It¡¯s not ice. It¡¯s solid crystal. Hard as diamond.¡±
¡°What¡¯s the point of this?¡± Sakura asked.
Entering the gym doorway, Tomoyo said, ¡°Doesn¡¯t the school look very pretty now? Pure crystal, brittle and unbreakable.¡±
¡°The Crystal¡¦¡± Sakura murmured. I have to seal the Phantom, before it¡¯s too late. It¡¯s now or never. Yet, what is this other force? ¡°That¡¯s it! I knew it. Those with strong wills can usually resist the Phantom, as I read in one of Syaoran¡¯s books. Tomoyo-chan has a strong will, so she should have been able to resist the Phantom. So, to control her, the Dark Ones have frozen her heart into crystal so that she can no longer have any emotions. That way, she would be vulnerable to the Phantom¡¯s manipulation.¡±
¡°That makes sense,¡± Syaoran murmured, thoughtfully. ¡°But we don¡¯t have any proof.¡±
¡°You¡¯re not implying that Tomoyo herself yielded to the Phantom, are you? I don¡¯t know about you, but I have faith in Tomoyo,¡± Sakura asserted.
¡°Hmm¡¦ Very pretty. How much do you think I can sell this for at the auctions?¡± Kai asked, observing a round crystal object, which had once been a soccer ball.
¡°Hmm¡¦ At least 50,000 yen?¡± Syaoran said. ¡°No, wait a second¡¦ We have to seal the Crystal. Don¡¯t say stupid things!¡±
¡°Sorry, sorry,¡± Kai apologized. ¡°Oh, look! This is Aki frozen into a crystal statue¡¦ I think I can sell him in the black market for 100,000 yen, if anyone would buy him.¡±
¡°Mizuki Kai!¡± Sakura and Syaoran exclaimed.
¡°Okay, okay, go ahead and seal the card. It¡¯s none of my business,¡± Kai said, walking off too the side.
¡°Well, time for the game to start,¡± Tomoyo stated, snapping her fingers.
Immediately, from several different directions, shards of what looked like crystal arrows shot down at them.
¡°Ahh!!!¡± Kai made a show of ducking out of the way.
¡°Kai, get out of the way if you¡¯re not going to help,¡± Syaoran grumbled, as he held out his sword.
¡°You guys, watch out!¡± Sakura exclaimed as another series of crystal shards headed their way. One of the barbs hit the gym window. The whole window immediately turned into a frosty clear crystal.
¡°We have to make the Crystal show it¡¯s true form!¡± Syaoran shouted as the sharp crystal arrow whizzed barely past his head.
¡°Release!¡± Sakura twirled her staff around her fingers, then leaped up onto the bench. Flipping out a card, she called, ¡°Sugary!¡±
¡°What are you doing?¡± Kai asked, looking over the brim of his sunglasses.
¡°Sugar is made out of crystals, so I¡¯m pretty sure that the Crystal would be attracted to it,¡± Sakura replied. Sure enough, as the cute little Sugary card began sprinkling sugar, a figure materialized in the air. It was a little blue fairy creature holding a quiver full of what looked like solid crystal arrows with sharp heads and instead of feathers at the end, there was a crystal bolt. It was rather a pretty force with silver-white hair and sparkling blue diamond eyes. Yet, with viciousness, the Crystal aimed another crystal shard at Sakura.
¡°Shield!¡± Sakura made a protecting wall around her.
Jumping up on the bench also, Miho stated, ¡°Miho-chan to the rescue! I¡¯ll help! Key that hides the forces of the¡¦¡±
¡°Hey, watch out stupid!¡± Kai shouted. Miho was open for direct target. He jumped up and dragged her down, just in time to hear the thud of the arrow piercing through the bench.
Without hesitation, the Crystal sent two more arrows in their directions. One pierced through Miho¡¯s back, and immediately, she stiffened, then froze into a crystal statue.
¡°Miho-chan!¡± Sakura shouted in horror. It was uncanny to see Miho¡¯s body completely cold and smooth like a statue. Unlike the Freeze, which only froze you on the outside, the Crystal turned you completely into a new substance.
¡°Shoot.¡± Kai rolled over just in time, the second arrow piercing through his sunglasses. They fell on the ground, turning into pure quartz crystal also. With shaking hands, he picked up the crystal sunglasses and examined it. He wiped the sweat off his brows and stood up.
The Crystal changed its target and began aiming at Syaoran. With a slash of his sword, he sliced the upcoming arrows into two. Yet, it was too late. His sword had turned into crystal, also.
Tomoyo-chan¡¦ Can you hear me? Are you scared? Sakura closed her eyes, searching for Tomoyo¡¯s aura¡¦ She couldn¡¯t feel it¡¦ Only a faintly familiar aura, except, it felt all wrong¡¦ Cold, bitter, and dark. She definitely felt the presence of both the Crystal and the Phantom inside Tomoyo, which could only mean that the Crystal had frozen her soul, so that the Phantom could have easy control over an empty body. She said out loud, ¡°The Phantom, though it breeds on other people¡¯s fear is itself a cowardly force.¡±
¡°Is that so?¡± Tomoyo asked, in a dangerously calm voice. ¡°Isn¡¯t I funny? That you, Kinomoto Sakura, would be conquered by a cowardly dark force, the Phantom?¡±
A warning throb rang in Syaoran¡¯s mind. Too late did Syaoran realize what the Phantom¡¯s real target was. It wasn¡¯t Tomoyo¡¯s father, nor Tomoyo, nor himself. The Phantom¡¯s actual target was Sakura. It had manipulated the people around Sakura to hurt her, and now, it was taking its final step. His amber eyes widened in horror as he saw the Crystal grin wickedly, throwing its arrow towards Sakura¡¯s heart. ¡°SAKURA!¡±
Without even having the time to realize what had happened, Sakura staggered back in shock as the crystal arrow pierced through the center of her heart. There was pain, a different kind of pain than any other thing she had experienced. A cold, numbing sensations crept in her heart, starting from the outside to the deep center. She realized that her heart was no longer beating, now an impenetrable diamond crystal. She was just a living shell with no feeling whatsoever in her. Her whole body was trembling uncontrollably. With a sense of unreality, Syaoran saw Sakura¡¯s face turn pale and a shadow cast over her dull emerald eyes.
A black shadow lurked behind Tomoyo. The Phantom was preparing to enter Sakura¡¯s soul, now, with a solid frozen heart, vulnerable and weak.
¡°At last, the great Card Captor is beaten,¡± the Phantom said.
Before the last spark went out of her eyes, Sakura said through clenched teeth, ¡°I will never let a dark force such as you dirty my soul. I will never fall under your control.¡± With shaking hands she slid her staff, which had turned back into a key towards Syaoran. Then with strained effort, she picked up a crystal arrow that had fallen on the ground and pierced her arm with it. Slowly, her whole body now hardened into a crystal. The last words she whispered were, ¡°Syaoran¡¦ I will save Tomoyo¡¦¡±
For a while, Syaoran was too stunned to move.
¡°Idiot!¡± Kai exclaimed. ¡°The Crystal only froze her heart. Why did she stab herself with that arrow and turn her entire self into a crystal statue. She can¡¯t do anything now!¡±
¡°You¡¯re wrong,¡± Syaoran replied quietly. Bending down, he picked up the sealing key that Sakura had slid over to him. It radiated her power. ¡°It¡¯s amazing that Sakura still had control left over even after her heart was frozen by the Crystal. She turned her whole body into a crystal intentionally because that way, the Phantom can¡¯t enter it and control her, causing more harm.¡±
¡°You mean, if she didn¡¯t stab herself with that arrow, the Phantom would have entered her body and manipulated her?¡± Kai asked in surprise.
¡°Yes. Her heart was already frozen into crystal, and it would have been a matter of time before she turned into Tomoyo¡¯s state. We all know what a good person Tomoyo was. Yet, she was poisoned by the Phantom. Sakura destroyed herself before she could get even more destroyed by the Phantom,¡± Syaoran said, staring at the graceful crystal stature of Sakura. Her face was pained, yet smiling encouragingly. Syaoran reached out and placed his hands on her icy smooth cheek.
¡°Stupid. She destroyed herself,¡± Tomoyo said, laughing harshly. ¡°Only two left now, and one more lurking around somewhere.¡± She meant Eriol, who had disappeared as soon as the Crystal appeared. ¡°Now, what will you two do? Sakura¡¯s the only one who can seal the cards, and you two would tire yourselves out fighting the Crystal and get no where.¡± She sauntered over to Miho¡¯s crystal form and placed a hand on Miho¡¯s lifeless head. ¡°Poor little Miho-chan, never learning where her brother is.¡± Then, she paused in front of Sakura¡¯s figure. ¡°Card Captor Sakura will no longer exist, and crumble away as a pretty crystal figurine, with that pained expression on her face for the rest of her life.¡±
Smiling crookedly, Syaoran stared up with blazing fire-amber eyes. ¡°You¡¯re mistaken about something. I¡¯m going to fight till the end.¡± He was gripping Sakura¡¯s key so hard that the star shape embedded in his palms.
¡°What are you planning to do?¡± Kai demanded.
¡°Give all I¡¯ve got, what else? Didn¡¯t you hear Sakura¡¯s last words? ¡®I will save Tomoyo.¡¯ She has a plan in mind. She trusts me. She trusts you, as well, God knows why. So, I¡¯ll do anything, even the impossible.¡± With a new sense of confidence and authority in his voice, Syaoran threw the key up into the air and commanded, ¡°Key that hides the power of stars. Show your true self to me. For one time I seal the power of the moon with you. I, Syaoran, command you under Sakura¡¯s name! Release!¡±
He poured all of his energy into key, praying for his experiment to work. He felt Sakura¡¯s powers intertwine with his, and a flash of light enveloped him. The key trembled, and then radiated an explosion of powers, as the power of the stars and the moon combined. After hesitating, the key elongated into a long staff. Syaoran gripped the burning hot staff in his hands, and the blazing light faded away. Now he noticed that instead of the usual pink which matched Sakura so well, the staff was a rich green-black. It was slightly longer and heavier than usual, fitting Syaoran¡¯s build, and at the head of the staff was a complex gold emblem of a star and a moon intertwined.
Kai stared at the staff in surprise. ¡°I thought only Sakura could wield that staff.¡±
¡°It¡¯s a one time exception,¡± Syaoran replied. ¡°Just to seal the Crystal. She vested power in this staff before she threw it over to me. She knew what was the right thing to do. After all, besides herself, I guess there is no one who is as experienced in the who Card Captor business.¡±
Noting the new purpose and nobleness cloaking Syaoran, Kai grinned. ¡°Well, I¡¯ll make myself useful for once. Let¡¯s see now. First of all, the Crystal is a quick moving force. However, it has one major flaw. It¡¯s powerless without its weapon.¡±
¡°Therefore, we must get rid of the arrows. That¡¯ll be a problem,¡± Syaroan said.
¡°An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, arrow for an arrow! Hammurabi¡¯s Code~ ¡± Kai stated, swiping up a sturdy long bow from archery class and gathering up the various crystal arrows dropped on the ground by the Crystal when it missed its target. ¡°You stand behind the Crystal and wait for the right moment to seal it. I¡¯m not sure if you even know how to use that staff properly, but¡¦¡±
¡°Wait, can you even shoot that thing properly?¡± Syaoran asked, pointing at the bow. ¡°It would be bad if you missed and hit me instead¡¦ And didn¡¯t you say you can¡¯t see without your sunglasses?¡±
Sighing in exaggeration, Kai commented, ¡°No wonder Meilin said you¡¯re so gullible. Trust me. I haven¡¯t been the most wanted thief in Japan for no reason.¡± With easy grace in form, Kai swung up the bow and strung the crystal arrow to it, completely different from the clumsy, fumbling form he had shown during PE class.
The Crystal, with more vigor than ever, sent out a hail of arrows. Without hesitation, Kai sent off counteracting arrows consecutively, hitting every single arrow heading towards him. In surprise, the Crystal drew back. Then scowling, it drew more arrows from its quiver and began throwing it at Kai.
A mischievous smile curved on Kai¡¯s lips and the laziness and boredom present in him ever since he had become Mizuki Kai disappeared. His eyes had a reckless and bright keenness as he shot another arrow off aiming at the Crystal¡¯s hand.
Letting out a squeal as an arrow embedded in its hand, the Crystal dropped its quiver holding all of its arrows. In dismay, the Crystal bent over to retrieve it.
Blasting a ball of fire at the Crystal, Syaoran kicked the remaining arrows out of the Crystal¡¯s reach.
Meanwhile, Kai shot off his last arrow with equal precision as before, and pinned the Crystal to the gym wall by the nape of its white robe. The Crystal struggled in vain, and gave up, finally subdued. Cracking his knuckles, Kai asserted, ¡°Hmm¡¦ Not bad¡¦ Don¡¯t you say? So, do you think it will work for you to seal it?¡±
¡°I¡¯ll have to try, ¡° Syaoran replied, frowning heavily. It was one thing to release the staff. It was another to seal a card. He would just have to have faith in his powers. And Sakura¡¯s. He was not the chosen Card Captor¡¦ Clow Reed did not give the staff to him¡¦ Yet, there must be exceptions. There was no one to seal the card because Sakura was frozen into a Crystal. He was the only one left. ¡°Spirit of the dark forces. I, Syaoran, command you under Sakura¡¯s name. Grant me the power for one time. Return to a new shape of contract! Sakura Card!¡±
His grip on the black emerald staff trembled. For a moment, he was afraid as nothing happened. Then, the magic contract circle appeared at his feet and the Crystal evaporated into mist, materializing into a new card. The Crystal Card. Syaoran¡¯s knees buckled and he sank down onto the wooden gym floor in relief.
Gradually, people all around them were returning to their normal state and the whiteness was replaced by its original vivid colors.
¡°Sakura!¡± Syaoran ran over to Sakura. Her crystal body melted into the warm, living Sakura. ¡°You¡¯re back!¡±
¡°Did I ever go anywhere?¡± Sakura smiled weakly. ¡°I knew you would manage things fine, Syaoran.¡±
¡°Here.¡± Syaoran handed over the key to Sakura. Then he held out the new Sakura card, the Crystal.
¡°You sealed it. I knew I could trust you,¡± Sakura said. ¡°Even though I was so scared and numb to everything, all I could think of was that I had to give my key to you before I turned into a crystal statue. Even if I was vanquished, I could trust you to handle everything. Thank you Syaoran.¡±
¡°No, thank you. You helped me realize that nothing is impossible. True, the staff worked for me only this time, to help its true mistress, but for the first time, I realized that I didn¡¯t have to be helpless.¡± Syaoran smiled back at Sakura. ¡°And, I had the help of Kai, surprisingly. Here, this is your card.¡±
¡°No, you keep it. You sealed it.¡± Sakura pressed the card back into Syaoran¡¯s hands. ¡°Wait, Tomoyo-chan¡¦ Her heart must be unfrozen because the Crystal is sealed now.¡±
Groaning, Tomoyo placed her head in her hands, as if awakening from a nightmare.
¡°Tomoyo-chan!¡± Sakura eagerly ran up to her. Was she back to normal now?
Looking up with sad violet eyes, Tomoyo whispered, ¡°Sakura-chan¡¦¡± Then, she moaned as the Phantom exerted more darkness into her body. Amidst all the people awakening from the spell of the Crystal, Tomoyo vanished into the air.
They heard the Phantom¡¯s voice. ¡°Meet at the rooftop.¡±
¡°Tomoyo-chan! No!¡± The Phantom still was not sealed. Yet¡¦ ¡°Yet, Tomoyo-chan was back for a split second after the Crystal was sealed. She called my name.¡± Sakura smiled wistfully. ¡°I¡¯ll get Tomoyo back completely.¡±
¡°Everyone, what are you standing around for? Continue practicing shooting,¡± the teacher called out.
Blinking, Miho asked, ¡°What happened? The Crystal is sealed?¡±
¡°Yeah,¡± Sakura said. ¡°Thanks to Syaoran, and Kai-kun.¡±
¡°Mizuki-senpai?¡± Miho frowned. ¡°Does he have special powers too? Him?¡±
¡°Kind of¡¦ I¡¯m not really sure exactly,¡± Sakura replied.
¡°Mizuki Kai! Try holding the bow straight,¡± the PE teacher scolded. ¡°Then maybe you¡¯ll be able to get the arrow at least within an one meter radius of the bull¡¯s eye.¡±
¡°Kai-kun¡¯s left lens is cracked,¡± Sakura commented. Indeed, Kai¡¯s sunglasses had spidery lines going through them, probably from when it was hit by the Crystal¡¯s arrow. She would have liked to see him closely without those glasses. Yet, once again, she missed the chance.
¡°It¡¯s strange,¡± Syaoran murmured. ¡°Why does he hide so many things? For one things, he¡¯s one of the best archers I¡¯ve ever seen in my life, and for another, he has paranormal eyesight.¡±
¡°Something to wonder about later on, I guess, but we have more immediate worries,¡± Sakura replied. Then raising her hand, she asked, ¡°Sensei, may I got to the bathroom please?¡±
¡°Yes, Kinomoto-san,¡± the teacher replied, still keeping a watchful eye Kai.
¡°Sensei, may I go get a drink of water?¡± Syaoran asked slipping out of the gym after Sakura.
¡°May I go to the nurse? I sprained my wrist,¡± Miho said, following Syaoran.
¡°I decided I am totally off dress code. May I go to the principal¡¯s office to be punished?¡± Kai asked, slipping out of the gym also.
¡°Yes, yes, yes,¡± the PE teacher replied. Then, blinking, the teacher looked around and asked, ¡°Now, why does my class feel so empty?¡±
Panting, Sakura swung open the door and stepped onto the school rooftop, followed by Syaoran, Miho, and Kai. She blinked at the sunrays overhead.
¡°So, this would be our final confrontation,¡± Tomoyo said. Her long dark hair blew in the wind. Raising her hand, she let out a blast of black power.
Dodging, Sakura commanded, ¡°Key that hides the power of stars. Show your true self to me. I, Sakura command you! Release!¡±
Standing beside her, Syaoran held out his sword. From behind her, Miho was holding out her red staff, which Eriol had made her. Kai leaned against the doorway.
¡°Hmm¡¦ I¡¯ll handle the ardent bodyguard first,¡± Tomoyo said, facing Syaoran. She held out her hand and immediately a black sword, which resembled the Five Force Sword appeared. Wildly, she struck down on Syaoran.
With expert form, Syaoran blocked, and then swung down. Spinning around, Tomoyo regained posture, then sliced down her sword at Syaoran with lightening speed. Quickly, Syaoran held up his sword in defense.
To Syaoran¡¯s horror, his sword sliced into two. His whole arm vibrated from the impact. Keeping his hands steady, he stared at the sharp blade which landed on the floor, sliced off its hilt.
¡°Wait, none of you harm Tomoyo-chan,¡± Sakura said in panic.
Immediately, Syaoran dropped his sword hit. For a second, he had forgotten that it was Tomoyo that they were now facing. Not anyone else, but Tomoyo.
Taking a deep breath, Sakura struggled to keep calm. There was no mistake that the Phantom¡¯s power was uncanny. She knew best how strong Syaoran was¡¦ yet the Phantom sliced his sword in half. Her mind quickly organized all the information that she had gathered from all of Syaoran¡¯s spell books over the past sleepless nights. Then, she recalled Eron¡¯s haunting words. ¡°Everyone possesses a dark, phantom side in themselves. There¡¯s no way to vanquish it unless you see the truth.¡±
Then Sakura¡¯s mind clicked. ¡°I know!¡± She clasped her hands together.
¡°What?¡± Miho asked.
Dragging Kai to the corner, Sakura demanded, ¡°Do you still have the Mirror of Truth?¡±
In an innocent voice, Kai asked, ¡°What Mirror of Truth?¡±
¡°The one you stole! You have it, right?¡±
¡°Well¡¦ Yeah¡¦¡± Kai replied reluctantly.
¡°Good. Where is it?¡± Sakura asked.
¡°I can¡¯t tell you. It¡¯s a secret,¡± Kai mumbled. Then, he saw the raging fire in Sakura¡¯s emerald eyes. ¡°Okay, okay¡¦ I¡¯ll tell you. It¡¯s in the vault in the secret passage in my room, which is behind the third poster from the front.¡±
Quickly, Sakura dialed Kero-chan. She tapped her foot impatiently. Why wasn¡¯t Kero-chan answering?
¡°Yay! That Kaitou Magician has good taste,¡± Kero-chan stated, as he ended yet another enthralling videogame in Kai¡¯s apartment. He was unaware that the handphone which Tomoyo had given to him as a present was ringing.
¡°Stupid stuffed animal! Stupid stuffed animal,¡± Kai¡¯s white parrot squawked.
¡°WHAT?!¡± Kero-chan swerved around in anger. He really hated that bird.
¡°Phone ringing, idiot! Phone ringing, idiot,¡± the parrot continued.
¡°Humph. I wonder where you got your bad mouth from. I guess it¡¯s true that pets follow their owners,¡± Kero-chan grumbled, picking up the handphone. ¡°¡¯lo?¡±
¡°Kero-chan! You have to do me a favor!¡± Sakura exclaimed. ¡°Go to Kai-kun¡¯s bedroom¡¦¡±
¡°Eh? Why?¡± Kero asked, munching on a chocolate chip muffin.
¡°Do as I say. Okay, you see the third poster from the entrance? Yeah, the one with the map of the underground passages of Tokyo. Behind it, you¡¯ll find a secret door. Okay, open it,¡± Sakura said.
Kero-chan, with the phone hanging around his neck hovered into Kai¡¯s room. It was open. One thing he found very interesting was that Kai was very lenient with the security system in his home. True enough, behind the third poster, there was a secret door. He opened it.
¡°You see the vault now, right? The combination is¡¦¡± Sakura paused, looking questioningly at Kai.
Taking the phone, Kai whispered, ¡°It¡¯s 00-06-03¡¦ My criminal number, he he~¡±
¡°Got it!¡± Kero-chan opened the vault.
¡°Now, you see an object covered with black cloth right? Bring it over right now to the Seijou Junior High rooftop,¡± Sakura said.
¡°Eh?¡± Kero-chan was even more puzzled, but he followed Sakura¡¯s orders, noting the urgency in her voice.
¡°Are you sure that this is going to work?¡± Kai asked, uncertainly.
¡°It has to,¡± Sakura replied.
¡°What has to work?¡± Miho inquired. ¡°I don¡¯t get it.¡±
¡°Are you guys cowards? Why are you all hiding behind the door?¡± Tomoyo demanded. This time, holding a black staff which resembled Sakura¡¯s, she blasted another beam of power, which made a hole right through the fence surrounding the roof. Another blast of power created a hole right through the steel door leading to the rooftop.
Kero-chan¡¦ Hurry¡¦ I will never be able to use force against Tomoyo-chan, even if the Phantom is controlling her¡¦ Sakura stared at the distance. At first, she saw only a yellow speck, but it came closer. ¡°Kero-chan! Here!¡±
¡°Sheesh¡¦ Asking the great Cerberus-sama to do these kinda chores. Bring this, bring that¡¦ This is so heavy,¡± Kero-chan grumbled, with the covered mirror hung around his neck by a ribbon. He wobbled unsteadily towards Sakura.
¡°Hey, stuffed animal, handle it carefully; it¡¯s priceless,¡± Kai said. He took the mirror and handled it with extreme care, as he removed the black cloth from it. Sakura noted that he took caution not to look directly into it.
¡°Thanks Kero-chan!¡± Sakura said. ¡°Thanks Kaitou-kun!¡±
¡°Huh?¡± Tomoyo asked.
Sakura was smiling mercilessly. ¡°The Phantom. You¡¯re now beaten. See yourself as you are!¡± She held out the Mirror of Truth in front of her. ¡°Now, come out of Tomoyo¡¯s body!¡±
With wide violet eyes, Tomoyo stared into it. The mirror reflected not Tomoyo¡¯s soul but the Phantom¡¯s grotesque self, a terrifying image, one that no mortal has seen. Immediately, the Phantom escaped hold of Tomoyo¡¯s body and she dropped limply to the ground as the Phantom wailed and materialized in its original form in front of them.
¡°Tomoyo-chan!¡± Sakura exclaimed, with tears of relief flooding in her eyes. She ran over to Tomoyo and squeezed her into a tight hug. ¡°Tomoyo-chan! You¡¯re back!¡±
¡°Sakura-chan?¡± Tomoyo blinked. Then she smiled softly. ¡°Don¡¯t cry, Sakura-chan. I¡¯m okay.¡±
Nodding, Sakura smiled back. Yet, it was not over. ¡°Eriol-kun! Look after her while I fight the Phantom!¡±
Then she returned her full attention on the Phantom, who was much weakened.
¡°Wait, when did Eriol appear?¡± Syaoran puzzled.
¡°How did she know I was here?¡± Eriol murmured, appearing for the first time to the other people on the roof. He had been watching the whole time in an invisible state.
¡°You mean you¡¯ve been here, watching the whole time?¡± Miho demanded, hands on hips. ¡°Big help you are!¡±
¡°Here, Tomoyo-san. Drink this,¡± Eriol said, holding a cup to her lips and supporting her head with his hand. ¡°It¡¯ll make you feel better.¡±
¡°Eriol-kun?¡± Tomoyo sipping the drink. Then, she fell into deep sleep.
¡°I will not be beaten by a weak little girl like you,¡± the Phantom said. ¡°Your mother couldn¡¯t beat me. She could only seal me away, into a little basement of the school theater. But I did not die.¡±
¡°Well, it¡¯s about time that you¡¯re sealed,¡± Sakura said firmly, holding out her staff in front of her. There was nothing vulnerable or weak about her.
¡°What makes you so confident?¡± the Phantom asked, amused. ¡°I am yet powerful.¡±
¡°What is the Phantom most scared of?¡± Sakura questioned. ¡°Nothing else¡¦ except itself!¡± As she exclaimed this, she called out ¡°Mirror! Twin!¡±
Immediately, the Mirror appeared, and the Twin duplicated the Mirror until a row of mirrors surrounded the Phantom with the Mirror of Truth in the center.
¡°Look all around you and be horrified by your hideous self. Phantom, you breed on human fear. You say you are afraid of nothing. Yet, there is one thing you are afraid of,¡± Sakura asserted.
The Phantom stepped back, trying to escape, only to be greeted by its reflection in the many mirrors.
¡°Yes, and that is yourself, the most unloved, hated, and feared being on earth,¡± Sakura stated.
Then, Sakura¡¯s tone softened, ¡°But don¡¯t have hate or fear anymore, after I seal you. I¡¯ll love you like all my cards. Become a power under the guidance of light, and no longer breed on human fear. Instead, sleep in eternal bliss without the dark nightmares of your existence so far.¡±
The Phantom faded in despair, letting out a low, pitiful moan.
¡°Spirit of the dark forces. I, Sakura command you. Return to a new shape of contract! Sakura Card!¡± Sakura struck down her staff and the Phantom evaporated into dark wisps, formulating a new card. Quietly, she prayed, ¡°And bless the Phantom with peace evermore, for I shall never have to call you.¡±
A single drop of her tear fell on the Phantom card and she could hear a fading voice: The heavens have not forsaken me yet, Card Mistress.
Closing her eyes, Sakura clutched the Phantom card to her heart. I¡¯ve done it¡¦ The Phantom is finally sealed. Everything¡¯s back to normal¡¦ Well, at least Tomoyo, my dearest friend is back. She says she doesn¡¯t remember a thing that happened while the Phantom controlled her body. Which is better for me. I¡¯m really relieved. Nothing has harmed our true friendship. In fact, it¡¯s grown even deeper because of what has happened.
¡°Oh no!¡± Tomoyo let out a groan, furrowing her eyebrows.
¡°Tomoyo-chan! What¡¯s wrong?¡± Sakura asked, supporting Tomoyo with her arms. Was it a possible side effect from the Phantom?
Looking up with tragic eyes, Tomoyo stated, ¡°I didn¡¯t video-tape Sakura-chan capturing two new cards! And I had so many new outfits made!¡±
Everyone sweat-dropped. So that was that. Sakura grinned happily. Tomoyo was definitely back.
¡°Hey, wait? That Mirror of Truth thingy¡¦¡± Miho began. ¡°Wasn¡¯t that stolen by the Kaitou Magician from the museum it was being exhibited in this spring? It made headline news all the way to England. ¡®Princess Eliza¡¯s priceless Mirror of Truth stolen by the notorious Kaitou Magician.¡¯¡±
¡°Huh? He he he¡¦¡± Kai sweat-dropped, looking another direction and sending warning signals to everyone. Only a few people knew his alter ego had been Kaitou Magician, and he wanted to keep it that way. ¡°Err¡¦ umm¡¦ This isn¡¯t that Mirror of Truth¡¦ It¡¯s another one!¡±
Miho eyed Kai suspiciously. ¡°There is only one Mirror of Truth in the world.¡±
Later on, all six of them, Sakura, Syaoran, Miho, Kai, Tomoyo, and even Eriol were awarded with extra cleaning duty for ditching PE class. Yet, they didn¡¯t mind.
After cleaning the entire classroom and setting down the mop, Sakura turned to face Tomoyo. ¡°Umm¡¦ Tomoyo-chan?¡±
¡°Yes, Sakura-chan?¡± Tomoyo smiled her usual kind smile. ¡°If it¡¯s about anything that happened in the past few weeks, I don¡¯t remember anything¡¦ If I hurt Sakura-chan, I¡¯m really sorry.¡±
¡°No, I¡¯m really sorry. It¡¯s all my fault. And I¡¯m really relieved you don¡¯t remember anything. You didn¡¯t do anything bad to me, but I don¡¯t want you to worry over those little things. I¡¯m really sorry. It¡¯s because I¡¯m Card Captor, and because you¡¯re my friend that the Phantom entered your body,¡± Sakura said, hanging her head down.
¡°No, don¡¯t be sorry. I was your friend even before you were Card Captor Sakura, and I¡¯m your friend now. There¡¯s nothing I love more than to make battles costumes, videotape scenes of action, and be part of this new, exciting world which I¡¯ve never known before and I would never have had a chance to see unless you were a Card Captor. But then, what is important is that I would still have been your friend whether or not you have special powers. What is important is you. Kinomto Sakura, who is my best friend, who I will stick by no matter what,¡± Tomoyo said.
¡°Tomoyo-chan!¡± Sakura said, squeezing her friend into a tight hug again. ¡°You¡¯re a once in a lifetime kind of friend. I know I¡¯ll still be your friend even when I¡¯m an old grandmother. And I want you to know, though I know that you¡¯re so much more mature and poised than me, but you can always turn to me, no matter what. I¡¯m hear to listen and support you.¡±
¡°Well, people can say our type of friendship¡¯s a one in a million type,¡± Tomoyo replied, her eyes sparkling. ¡°We¡¯re very lucky, you know, that we have each other. When all else fails, a true friend will not.¡±
¡°That was a nice little lie you told there,¡± Eriol commented, his midnight blue eyes amused.
¡°What do you mean, Eriol-kun?¡± Tomoyo asked, as they walked out from the school together, not particularly defending herself.
¡°You told Sakura-san that you don¡¯t remember anything that happened while the Phantom controlled you,¡± Eriol replied.
For a split second, Tomoyo¡¯s eyes were pained, then she brightened. ¡°I¡¯d rather tell Sakura-chan a little white lie and save her from the pain and worry. This way, she won¡¯t have to worry that I might feel bad for all the things I¡¯ve done to her while the Phantom controlled me. This way, we can continue on like nothing happened. Eriol-kun¡¦ The worst thing that can happen in a friendship is betrayal.¡±
¡°That¡¯s true,¡± Eriol said quietly.
¡°And while the Phantom controlled me, it expertly used betrayal to hurt Sakura-chan. I had no power to fight the Phantom¡¯s will because my heart was a solid crystal, unable to feel any emotions. I was so trapped, helpless, miserable. I¡¯ve never been more terrified in my life because I had no control over my body. I felt guilty because I had no control over all the horrible things that the Phantom was doing to Sakura under my name. I don¡¯t want Sakura to know about all that, that I was hurting all the while the Phantom was controlling me. I want her to simply think that my mind was sleeping through that time, and that I can¡¯t remember anything.¡±
¡°You¡¯re a real caring person, Tomoyo-san,¡± Eriol commented.
¡°You¡¯ve said that before,¡± Tomoyo replied, smiling. ¡°I can say the same for you, yet again.¡±
¡°I am a nice person, but I have a crooked soul,¡± Eriol replied.
¡°Hey Syaoran, full of energy, aren¡¯t you?¡± one of the guys in the soccer team commented as Syaoran leaped into the air and shot a goal during after school soccer practice. ¡°You have a date with a girl or something?¡±
Of course he was full of energy. Syaoran bent over to tie his shoelaces. The Phantom was sealed, Tomoyo was back to normal, and Sakura was happy again. What more could he ask? Plus, he was going to tell Sakura everything and hold back nothing more. He would tell her about the condition in which he was staying in Japan. And if she still didn¡¯t forgive him for what he did to her last winter, he¡¯ll have to just try twice as hard to make up for it. Even if his uncle found out that he wasn¡¯t obeying his orders, Syaoran would not go back to Hong Kong.
¡°He¡¯s not denying it. He must have a date~ With who? Is it Kinomoto-san?¡±
Syaoran knew that he had been stupid to feel so many obligations to his family. So what if is his uncle told him that things would be impossible with Sakura? Unlike Eriol, who believed that there was no such thing as chance, Syaoran believed that there might be. There had to be.
¡°He¡¯s not denying that either,¡± his teammate continued. ¡°It must be Kinomoto Sakura.¡±
¡°Nah, it can¡¯t be. Isn¡¯t she going out with Eron-kun?¡± another teammate asked. ¡°I see them in the hallways together often.¡±
For the first time, Syaoran focused on what his friends were talking about.
¡°Hey, Eron-kun, do you wanna go play pool with us after soccer practice?¡± one the guys asked.
¡°Nah. I¡¯m walking Sakura home today,¡± Eron replied as he headed the soccer ball.
¡°Ooh~ So you are going out with her.¡±
¡°Not yet,¡± Eron replied, grinning.
¡°What¡¯s that smile, hmm?¡± the soccer guys asked. ¡°Does she like you too, Eron-kun?¡±
Syaoran and Eron¡¯s eyes met.
¡°I see¡¦ There¡¯ll be a fight soon,¡± the first teammate concluded.
Wish-chan: Well, the Phantom¡¯s finally conquered! Yay! And you finally know why Syaoran had to do this and that last winter.. ^_^¡¦ Poor guy¡¦ I finally saw the CCS first movie¡¦ His house is HUGE!!! Oh, and Syaoran¡¯s very very intimidated by his mother. Oh, and I thought it would be cool to let Syaoran take responsibility for once¡¦ Hehe¡¦ E-mails welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org