Chapter 59.5: Halloween Special
When the leaves turned orange and crimson and the weather grew crisp and cold in the town of Tomoeda, it was a sign that a very certain day was coming along. Pumpkins were carved and set out in front of stores and candy corn, caramel apples and chocolate was sold in masses. It was Kero-chan¡¯s favorite event of the year because he could fill his belly with candy to his heart content.
¡°Look at what I found in the mail,¡± said Kinomoto Sakura, carrying back a black and gold envelope from the Kinomoto residence postbox. ¡°Who can it be from?¡±
Touya took a sip of coffee. ¡°Open it up.¡±
Carefully, Sakura opened the envelope. Inside was a black card with fancy golden script. ¡°Kinomoto Touya-sama, you are invited to the Hoshi Enterprise sponsored Halloween Masquerade at the Hoshi Plaza Hotel, 7:00 p.m., October 31,¡± she read out loud
¡°Hoshi Enterprise sponsored?¡± Touya raised an eyebrow. ¡°I didn¡¯t know that Kinhoshi Hospital resident interns are invited to those sort of fancy events. I can¡¯t go anyway. I have shift on that day.¡±
¡°There¡¯s an invitation for me too!¡± exclaimed Sakura, holding up a second black card. ¡°It¡¯s says to Kinomoto Sakura-sama.¡±
Kinomoto Fujitaka frowned slightly, carrying out the hotcakes from the kitchen and setting the platter at the center of the dining table. ¡°Sakura-san, if you are not busy that day, you might want to attend.¡±
¡°Will you come with me, otou-san?¡± asked Sakura. ¡°Since onii-chan is busy.¡±
¡°I¡¯m too old for those kind of events,¡± replied Fujitaka. ¡°But why don¡¯t you check if Tomoyo-san can accompany you?¡±
¡°Kaijuu, you¡¯re late for school,¡± remarked Touya, chomping on his second hotcake. ¡°What do you do without me waking you up every morning, for heaven¡¯s sake?¡±
¡°Hoeee!!!¡± Sakura grabbed her book bag and bento and dashed out the front door, still chewing on her hotcake.
After his little sister left, Touya fingered the black envelope. ¡°Otou-san, why do you think grandfather suddenly invited Sakura and me to this event?¡± he asked, turning to his father. ¡°He never paid attention to us before.¡±
¡°I don¡¯t know,¡± replied Fujitaka gravely. ¡°But Sakura-san is now sixteen. And you have built up a certain reputation at the hospital—otou-sama, your grandfather, is very whimsical. It is like him to take interest all of a sudden.¡±
¡°You¡¯re certainly not going to let Sakura go to that event then?¡± Touya said. ¡°You don¡¯t know what he¡¯s planning.¡±
¡°But he¡¯s never taken interest in his grandchildren before¡¦ He has a right to see Sakura, and what a fine young lady she has grown into,¡± replied Fujitaka softly. ¡°You¡¯ve never told Sakura-san, have you?¡±
¡°No, I never mentioned anything about grandfather to her before¡¦ But she¡¯s a smart girl. She might have figured out everything already,¡± Touya said. ¡°Or perhaps, she knows even more than I do and is just keeping quiet.¡±
¡°Hoshi Enterprise Halloween Masquerade?¡± repeated Tomoyo. She slipped out from her pocket a black card. ¡°Actually, I¡¯ve been invited as well.¡±
¡°You too, Tomoyo-chan?¡± exclaimed Sakura.
Tomoyo nodded. ¡°Since I am the daughter of the president of Daidouji Enterprise.¡±
Aki popped his head between the two girls. ¡°Tomoyo-chan is invited too? Then I¡¯m definitely going this year!¡±
¡°Aki-kun got an invitation as well?¡± Meilin asked, blinking. ¡°What exactly is this Halloween Masquerade?¡±
¡°It¡¯s a social event for Japan¡¯s young elite—all the sons and daughters of important company heads, politicians and business moguls are invited.¡± Aki grinned crookedly. ¡°In other words, it¡¯s a mixer to introduce wealthy young men to young ladies to build connections for the future leaders of Japan.¡±
¡°Disgusting,¡± said Meilin, wrinkling her nose. ¡°How artificial.¡±
¡°The food is catered from the hotel and the chef was recruited from the Paris Culinary Insitute, so it¡¯s supposed to be delicious. And the décor is fantastical,¡± replied Aki. ¡°If you manage to obtain an invitation, you should jump at the chance. Supposedly, the guest list includes A-list celebrities and whatnot.¡±
¡°Humph, I wouldn¡¯t go if I was paid,¡± replied Meilin, crossing her arms.
¡°Meilin-chan, do you have any plans for Halloween?¡± asked Kai at dinnertime. Meilin had cooked pad Thai with peanuts and seafood that night. ¡°How would you like to go to a masked ball?¡±
¡°A masked ball?¡± Meilin repeated.
Kai held up a black invitation with gold letters. ¡°It¡¯s a Halloween Masquerade hosted by the Hoshi Enterprise. And I can bring a date.¡±
¡°How did you get that invitation? I heard it¡¯s really rare to come by,¡± exclaimed Meilin.
¡°Did I not mention before than I am a shareholder of the Hoshi Enterprise? We get VIP treatment and free parking,¡± replied Kai with a grin.
¡°After all you told me about the horrible atrocities of Hoshi Enterprise, I can¡¯t believe you are going to a social function hosted by that group,¡± replied Meilin.
¡°They¡¯ll have lobster rolls and chocolate soufflé,¡± said Kai. ¡°And sparkling champagne.¡±
¡°I don¡¯t have anything to wear,¡± Meilin mumbled. Even in Hong Kong, her cousins had always been invited to all the fancy balls and debutante events. Oftentimes Meilin had watched Syaoran¡¯s sisters get ready for the parties in envy. Poor Syaoran of course was busy heating the curling iron, fetching pantyhose and polishing shoes.
¡°Can you dress up like a bunny for me for Halloween?¡± Kai blinked.
¡°In your dreams.¡±
Li Leiyun fingered an envelope on his desk and looked up. ¡°Syaoran.¡±
¡°Yes?¡± Syaoran looked up from his biology textbook.
¡°I need you to run an errand for me,¡± said Leiyun, holding up a black envelope. ¡°As the representative of the Li Corporation in Japan, I have been invited to a social function hosted by the Hoshi Enterprise. As you should be aware of, Hoshi Enterprise is an important business partner to the Li Corporation, so it is vital that we show our respect by accepting their invitation.¡±
¡°So¡¦¡± Syaoran hated it when Leiyun did not get to the point.
¡°Since I am unfortunately occupied this evening, I will like you to go in my stead and pay respect to Chairman Kinomoto,¡± Leiyun continued. ¡°Here is the invitation. Kara will accompany you.¡±
¡°Why can¡¯t you go yourself? You¡¯re not doing anything,¡± replied Syaoran glumly.
¡°Yes I am,¡± Leiyun said, flicking back his silver hair. ¡°I am a very very busy person.¡±
¡°You¡¯re reading Shounen Jump—catching up with the latest manga chapters hardly constitutes busy,¡± Syaoran stated flatly.
¡°I need to find out what happens in the next chapter of XXXholic,¡± said Leiyun, the history cover slipping and revealing the comic magazine he was reading. ¡°And I need to find out if Ichigo saves Orihime-chan in Hueco Mundo—¡°
¡°All right, I¡¯ll go,¡± said Syaoran, taking the invitation.
¡°By the way, it¡¯s a costume ball,¡± said Leiyun, blinking his turquoise eyes. ¡°Kara and I prepared a costume for you.¡± He pointed to the penguin suit hanging on the coat hanger.
¡°I refuse to dress up,¡± Syaoran said firmly.
¡°It¡¯ll look so adorable on you,¡± said Kara, stepping out in a tight-fitting red number. ¡°It¡¯s a pity. Do you think we can get Jin to wear it?¡±
¡°He¡¯ll probably slash it up with his knife and then feed it down your throat if you try,¡± replied Leiyun with a chuckle.
¡°Are you ready yet?¡± Meilin demanded, opening Kai¡¯s door. Perro-chan, wearing a handcraft Venetian mask, flew out and landed on Meilin¡¯s shoulder. ¡°Hello Perro-chan. Happy Halloween.¡±
¡°Halloween! Halloween!¡± squawked Perro-chan.
Mizuki Kai stepped out of the room, tossing back a long black cloak.
When Meilin caught sight of Kai¡¯s costume, her mouth dropped. ¡°Are you an idiot?¡± she demanded, arms akimbo.
He patted his spiked hair—it was almost like the old Kai was back. Then, Kai held up two masks. He handed Meilin a crimson feathered bird mask with garnet sequins while tying a black one with silver bias around his eyes. ¡°Believe me, it¡¯s Halloween night. This is the one day I can pull off this costume.¡± He sighed a little ruefully, placing a top hat on his head. ¡°I sort of missed this outfit.¡±
¡°I swear, I think you enjoyed dressing up as Kaitou Magician more than stealing,¡± Meilin muttered.
¡°Of course,¡± replied Kai with a laugh. He presented Meilin a rose drawn from midair and tucked it behind her ear. ¡°And you look lovely, my flaming phoenix.¡± Meilin¡¯s dress was Tomoyo¡¯s special creation, a crimson sequined dress with a floor-length skirt trimmed with red and gold feathers, like a long fiery phoenix tail. Meilin¡¯s long black hair was let loose for a change, and she had woven in red feathers and golden ribbons that glimmered whenever her hair moved. He wrapped his arm around her waist and murmured into her ear, ¡°Tomoyo-chan has outdone herself—you¡¯ll be the most beautiful girl at the party.¡±
Sure enough, when Meilin and Kai arrived at the ballroom, there were at least twenty other Kaitou Magicians running about.
¡°See, I blend right in!¡± stated Kai, adjusting his top hat.
Meilin sighed. ¡°You¡¯d think people would have more pride than to dress up like some delinquent, arrogant thief who thinks it¡¯s more important to make a fashion statement than to do something remotely constructive to society.¡±
Kai laughed, staring at the ballroom. ¡°Oh, the irony of the situation. Hosting a party where his guests unwittingly choose to dress up like his greatest nemesis.¡±
¡°Who are you talking about?¡± asked Meilin.
¡°Kinomoto Fujishika,¡± said Kai in a low voice. ¡°Him.¡±
A middle-aged man with gray streaked man, dressed in a dignified black suit, stepped up to the podium. The guests turned quiet as he cleared his throat. He spoke into the microphone. ¡°I welcome you all to the annual Hoshi Enterprise Masquerade Ball. All of you here are precious guests for the future of Hoshi Enterprise.¡± He held up his wine glass and the guests followed suit. ¡°Please enjoy yourselves and let the party begin!¡±
¡°That¡¯s Kinomoto Fujishika, successor to the Hoshi Enterprise,¡± said Kai. And he nodded his head to an older man, near seventy, in a seat near the podium. ¡°And that¡¯s the C.E.O. of the Hoshi Enterprise. Kinomoto Fujishinto.¡±
A frightening look came over Kai¡¯s steel grey eyes, fixed upon Kinomoto Fujishinto, and Meilin was not sure if she liked it.
¡°I can¡¯t believe I caught a cold on my most favorite event of the year,¡± bemoaned Tomoyo in a hoarse voice.
¡°Oh, Tomoyo-chan. I¡¯m so sorry.¡± Sakura handed Tomoyo the box of Kleenex. ¡°Why don¡¯t I stay with you? We can stay at home and watch a movie together.¡±
Tomoyo shook her head furiously, pointing at the costume cover laid out on her bed. ¡°You have to wear the costume I stayed up all night making for you!¡±
¡°Tomoyo-chan, you were sick and you stayed up all night making a costume for me?¡± Sakura opened up the cover and fingered the shimmery white dress made out of the softest chiffon that sparkled in the light and glowed in the dark. The front skirt was short and ruffled whereas the back fanned out into a long train woven with white feathers.
¡°The theme is ¡®Swan Lake,¡¯¡± said Tomoyo. ¡°I got the costume inspiration from Swan Princess Odette.¡± She showed Sakura white satin slippers with wide ribbons that would lace up her legs.
¡°Wow, it¡¯s breathtaking,¡± said Sakura, holding the dress up to her. ¡°But I can wear this next time—I want to stay with you.¡±
¡°I want you to wear that dress today,¡± croaked Tomoyo. ¡°And Eron-kun will be going with you—I gave him my invitation. I¡¯ll feel better if I rest at home tonight. Don¡¯t worry about me at all.¡±
¡°Eron-kun?¡± squeaked Sakura.
¡°He¡¯ll be at the ball. Hurry and get dressed,¡± said Tomoyo. ¡°Eron-kun is all right, right? It was between him and Aki-kun to be your escort. Everybody already had plans for Halloween night.¡±
¡°Tomoyo-chan, what will I do without you though?¡± Sakura asked. ¡°I¡¯ve never been to a party without you—I won¡¯t enjoy it one bit.¡±
¡°I gave Eron-kun my camera—he better fill the film with many lovely images of Sakura-chan having a good time,¡± replied Tomoyo. ¡°Now go, or else you¡¯ll be late.¡±
Sakura felt very small and unimportant as she entered the Hoshi Plaza Hotel. She let her long white train float out behind her and then walked up the steps. The luxury hotel was the tallest building in the neighborhood and had been built in honor of the birth of Kinomoto Fujishinto¡¯s first son. The interior was completely in gold and marble and her steps made a loud hollow sound as she walked towards the Imperial Ballroom; she already missed Tomoyo. Tomoyo always was at ease where ever she went and could carry herself like a princess in any situation. But Sakura knew that Eron, Aki, Kai and Meilin would be there as well, so that was a relieving thought. She tied the white feathered mask around her head and walked into the ballroom.
Eron¡¯s golden eyes were transfixed upon Sakura as she walked—no floated—into the ballroom like a graceful swan princess. He walked over to her and took her gloved hand, gently kissing its tip. ¡°You look beautiful tonight, just like the angel of my dreams.¡±
Sakura blushed. ¡°What are you dressed up as, Eron-kun?¡± Eron was wearing a brilliantly cream-white tuxedo, and an ivory mask decorated with white feathers.
¡°I wonder,¡± replied Eron with a lopsided grin. ¡°Tomoyo prepared the costume for me—she said she¡¯s sick.¡±
¡°I¡¯m sorry Eron-kun, having to come to this sort of event,¡± said Sakura.
¡°No worries. It actually worked out well—I can keep an eye on Erika now.¡± Eron nodded his head towards a flamboyantly dressed girl. Erika had her curls piled high on her head, and she wore a luxurious beribboned sky-blue dress with belled sleeves. Foams of turquoise lace peeked from her sleeves and skirt. She held a turquoise peacock mask up with a stick.
¡°What a costume,¡± murmured Sakura. For once, she felt she blended in with the crowd in one of Tomoyo¡¯s elaborate outfits because everybody in the ballroom was bedecked in dazzling jewels and outrageous costumes in every color and shape imaginable.
¡°Right. She was inspired by Marie Antoinette,¡± said Eron. ¡°And that Mike Kant is Count Fersen. Of course he¡¯s a big-shot or whatnot from America, so he was invited.¡±
¡°Kant-san looks very handsome as a count,¡± remarked Sakura, admiring Mike¡¯s long wig and brocaded tailcoat. ¡°Tomoyo-chan would have loved to see all the costumes.¡±
¡°You didn¡¯t come here by choice though,¡± remarked Eron.
¡°No¡¦¡± Sakura glanced at the head of the room where she recognized her grandfather and uncle, engaged in conversation with the older crowd in the room. To the corner, she saw a beautiful woman wearing a long-sleeved beige gown, her hair pulled back in a tight bun. Kinomoto Fujishika¡¯s wife and her aunt. ¡°I came because I think my father wanted me to.¡±
¡°Do you ever wonder if you father ever regrets giving up¡¦ all this?¡± Eron motioned his hand to the luxurious ball room.
Sakura was not particularly surprised that Eron knew about her father¡¯s lineage. She shook her head. ¡°He¡¯s happy right now. Otou-san¡¯s not the type of person to regret anything. He makes the best of the present rather than dwell upon his past. That¡¯s how he got over okaa-san¡¯s death.¡±
¡°You could have been an heiress,¡± remarked Eron. ¡°Of course, Fujishika-san¡¯s children would hold larger shares, but you and your brother could have been very rich nonetheless.¡±
¡°What would I do with the money?¡± said Sakura. ¡°I don¡¯t need wealth.¡±
¡°Of course you wouldn¡¯t.¡± Eron smiled crookedly. ¡°I¡¯m afraid I¡¯m not as pure-hearted as you though. I¡¯ve experienced what it¡¯s like having nothing. Doctors cost a lot. Nobody would operate on Erika because we couldn¡¯t pay. I realized from very early on that money can buy everything. That¡¯s why people are so materialistic and greedy.¡± He watched Erika, laughing and throwing her arms around Mike Kant.
¡°You think¡¦ Erika likes Mike-san because he¡¯s rich?¡± asked Sakura, looking up at Eron.
Eron¡¯s eyes were narrowed. ¡°There¡¯s a trend. Erika only dates people who are wealthy or has potential to become wealthy. She likes being showered with gifts, eating at fancy restaurants and having only the best. It¡¯s not her fault. When we were growing up, we had nothing. I couldn¡¯t even afford to buy her a doll. That¡¯s why she wants to be pampered now, and she deserves to be.¡±
Sakura sighed. ¡°And on the other hand, there are those like my father, who had everything, but the one thing money couldn¡¯t buy him, freedom. And he chose freedom.¡±
¡°Your mother also chose love over her inheritance,¡± remarked Eron with a wry smile. ¡°I guess the two were meant for each other.¡±
Perhaps Sakura felt uncomfortable at the unusual tone of envy in Eron¡¯s voice, and she exclaimed, ¡°I wonder where Meilin-chan is.¡± She caught sight of Aki, dressed as Apollo, and waved. ¡°Aki-kun!¡±
¡°Is Tomoyo-chan not here?¡± asked Aki, looking around. He was wearing a golden waistcoat and a golden crown.
¡°She¡¯s sick,¡± replied Sakura. Aki looked so crush, and his crown fell lopsided on his head, and Sakura could not help feeling sorry for him.
¡°Tomoaki-san, come here. Let me introduce you to the daughter of my good friend Watanabe-san—she is a first year at Eitoukou High and winner of the Tokyo Ballet Concours,¡± called out a man in a blue pin-striped suit whom Sakura assumed was Aki¡¯s father.
¡°I¡¯m sorry, I will talk to you guys later,¡± said Aki, hurrying to his father.
Sakura watched Aki bow to a middle-aged man and then offer his hand to a plain girl wearing a lovely pink gown. She had never seen him act so formerly and stiff—Aki at school was always active, always animated. Today, his expression was rigid, and he glanced at his father every few seconds as if checking for approval. Her gaze lingered over to the crowd. She recognized quite a few faces from TV, and some more from the Eitoukou sports teams but she couldn¡¯t quite tell because they were all wearing masks. There was a golden haired woman, holding up a mask and wearing a long golden lacquer down that Sakura thought looked vaguely familiar. She walked up and bowed to Kinomoto Fujishinto.
she used to be a top-rated actress,¡± Eron remarked. ¡°Ishikawa Nanase.¡±
¡°That¡¯s right—I think onii-chan used to be a fan,¡± said Sakura. ¡°I haven¡¯t seen her in any recent movies though.¡±
¡±Well, aging female actresses have remarkably short careers in this industry,¡± remarked a woman in a silver mask from behind her.
Sakura spun around. ¡°Arima-san!¡±
¡°Shh¡¦ I showed my face so I¡¯m sneaking out now,¡± said Arima, glancing around. ¡°Good, otou-san is greeting Kinomoto-san now. Have a fun time, darling. You look very lovely.¡± Arima gave Sakura a quick hug and then exited out the ballroom. The man wearing a full mask beside her gave Sakura a little wave also.
¡°Bye, Asuma-san,¡± said Sakura, also waving.
¡°I wonder how he feels placing second for the Sydney Cup,¡± remarked Eron. ¡°Tamemura Asuma-san is used to being the champion.¡±
¡°Second place is still great,¡± replied Sakura. She turned to Eron with a little frown. ¡°Do you think I need to greet my grandfather? I met him before and all, but it¡¯s sort of awkward walking up to him with all this people.¡±
¡°He would probably call you over if he wants to speak to you,¡± Eron said. ¡°That¡¯s how old people work. Everything is at their own pace.¡±
¡°I wonder if my grandfather will ever forgive otou-san,¡± murmured Sakura. ¡°It¡¯s sad, if your parent is no longer in this world. But it¡¯s even sadder when your parent is still there, yet does not speak to you.¡±
¡°I can¡¯t believe you¡¯re actually enjoying this,¡± grumbled Syaoran to Rido Kara, who fussed with the black bat wings attached to her back. She was a devil reincarnate.
¡°You¡¯re such a poor sport, refusing to dress up on Halloween night,¡± replied Kara, holding up the party invitation to her chest. ¡°I can¡¯t believe I have to escort such a grouch instead of a dashing prince.¡±
¡°Well, it¡¯s not my choice that I came here. We can just greet the host and leave, right?¡± said Syaoran.
¡°You can do what you want. I¡¯m going to enjoy the masquerade,¡± replied Kara, fastening a black and red mask to her eyes.
¡°You¡¯re supposed to watch me,¡± reminded Syaoran, holding the bottle of import Chardonnay, gift to Kinomoto Fujishinto, courtesy of Li Leiyun.
¡°What do you take me for, Jinyu?¡± Kara rolled her eyes. ¡°I¡¯ve never been to this sort of fancy party before—I¡¯m not going to waste my time with some self-absorbed brat like you.¡± She entered the ballroom, eyes wide like a little girl entering a fairytale for one night.
¡°Fine with me.¡± But even Syaoran was agape as he was greeted by an array of fantastic costumes ranging from historical to mythical, everyone wearing masks of all fabric, jewels, sequins and feathers. The first person he saw in the midst of the crowded grand ballroom decorated with lit jack-o¡¯-lanterns suspended from the ceiling was Sakura. She was wearing a Venetian half-mask decorated with crystals and feathers, but he could recognize her lithe frame anywhere. Her white feather dress seemed to just float about her, defying all gravity, and little clusters of crystal and feathers were woven into her short golden-brown hair. Instantly, he spun around before she could see him.
¡°What are you doing?¡± asked Kara.
¡°I¡¯m going to the restroom,¡± he stammered.
¡°I knew you were constipated,¡± Kara remarked. ¡°You always rush off to the restroom whenever you go anywhere. Wait, you can¡¯t take the bottle of wine to the bathroom.¡±
Syaoran grabbed a waiter by the shoulder and thrust the wine bottle into his hand. ¡°Please deliver this to Chairman Kinomoto, courtesy of the Li Clan.¡±
The battled waiter stared down at the wine bottle wrapped in emerald tissue paper and the card which had the Li Clan seal on it. ¡°Y-yes sir.¡±
Then, Syaoran dashed towards the door, but not before taking another glimpse at Sakura, who looked lovelier than he had recalled. Then, he saw that a boy with his hair pulled back in a violet-blue ponytail, dressed in a white tuxedo, approach her. She took his hand, and he led her towards the dance floor. As they swirled around, they became a white blur.
¡°Ugh, someone spilled their drink on me,¡± said Meilin, wiping her dress with a napkin. ¡°I¡¯m going to try to get the stain out—it¡¯s a dress Tomoyo lent me; I can¡¯t get it dirty.¡±
¡°All right—I¡¯ll be by the refreshments table,¡± said Kai. Meilin ran off, grumbling to herself, and Kai helped himself to the little spicy chicken wings and meatballs in marinara sauce. And he glimpsed a tall girl walk through the crowd, standing out amidst the flowing dresses and glittery accessories in a form-fitting short lace dress and thigh-high boots with red laces.
¡°Fancy seeing you here,¡± remarked Kai, handing his cocktail glass to the waiter. ¡°Kara.¡±
Kara had her hair pulled back in little golden ringlets. Heavy black kohl outlined her eyes which made her lavender eyes pop underneath the red-accented mask. The black bat wings attached to her back swayed when she moved. The music drifted on. ¡°Dance with me?¡± She led him to the dance floor.
¡°I thought you hated social events,¡± murmured Kai into her ears.
¡°About as much as you love them,¡± replied Kara, the corner of her red lips curving up as she reached up and tapped his top hat. ¡°How bold you are, my handsome thief I can¡¯t believe you have the nerve to masquerade around as Kaitou Magician in a public even like this.¡±
¡°Said Meilin also,¡± Kai said.
¡°Where is she?¡± Kara asked, lacing her fingers into his. Long, magician¡¯s hands, she had once told him.
¡°Around,¡± said Kai. ¡°So I can¡¯t dance with you.¡±
¡°Just one song?¡± Kara said.
¡°Did you come alone?¡± Kai asked, twirling Kara around.
¡°Would you believe me if I said I came with Jinyu?¡± Kara giggled at the thought of the Black Dragon at a masquerade ball. ¡°No, my date is darling Syaoran.¡±
Kai¡¯s eyes widened. ¡°Why in the world is he here?¡±
¡°Why, he shouldn¡¯t be?¡± Kara raised a silvery-gold eyebrow.
¡°No, he shouldn¡¯t!¡± exclaimed Kai, glancing around the ballroom. ¡°Sakura¡¯s here.¡± Then he gazed back at Kara. ¡°Wait, you didn¡¯t know, did you? That doesn¡¯t matter. Where is Syaoran?¡±
¡°Somewhere,¡± replied Kara.
¡°I¡¯ve got to warn him,¡± said Kai.
¡°You¡¯re awfully protective of Syao-chan, aren¡¯t you?¡± remarked Kara with a pout.
Kai grinned and lifted her chin up towards him. ¡°Why, jealous? You know him and I are tight.¡±
¡°So, this will be my first and last dance with you, Mikai-ouji-sama?¡± Kara asked softly.
Gently, Kai brushed a gold tendril away from Kara¡¯s face. ¡°Yes, princess.¡±
Kai wove his way through the crowd, trying to avoid dancing couples left and right. He caught glimpse of an out-of-place boy, not masked and not wearing a costume like the rest of the guests, standing at the door entrance.
¡°Syaoran, what do you think you are doing here?¡± demanded Kai, grabbing Syaoran by the arm. ¡°Sakura¡¯s here—you can¡¯t be here!¡±
¡°Perfect timing,¡± said Syaoran, turning to face Kaitou Magician. ¡°Give me your mask.¡±
¡°And your cloak while you¡¯re at it—I can¡¯t be recognized here.¡± Syaoran took Kai¡¯s mask and fastened it around his head.
With a sigh, Kai unclasped his cloak and flung it over Syaoran¡¯s shoulder. ¡°Just admit it—you like dressing up like Kaitou Magician, don¡¯t you?¡±
Syaoran rolled his eyes. ¡°Yeah, me and every other male in this room.¡± Luckily, it made good disguise.
Kai fumbled in his pocket and opened a mini tube of hair gel. He squeezed the gel onto his palm and then fussed with Syaoran¡¯s hair, stylizing it.
¡°What are you doing?¡± said Syaoran, wrinkling his nose. ¡°You¡¯re worse than Tomoyo.¡±
¡°Do you think I have perfect hair for no reason?¡± replied Kai with a smirk. ¡°There. Now go in there and be the best Kaitou Magician of the bunch.¡± He pulled off his white kid gloves and passed them to Syaoran.
¡°Ha ha¡¦¡± Syaoran pulled the glove over his bandaged right hand.
¡°Go steal Sakura-chan away for one night, Prince Charming,¡± murmured Kai with a smile, watching Syaoran dive into the crowd.
¡°What happened to your mask and cape?¡± asked Meilin, walking up next to Kai.
Kai shrugged. ¡°Got rid of it—I hate being unoriginal you know. Besides, it¡¯s a pity to cover up my handsome face, nee?¡±
Meilin rolled her eyes. ¡°Show off.¡±
¡°Well, should we give our greetings to our esteemed host?¡± asked Kai. He took Meilin¡¯s hand and led her to the head of the room.
Kinomoto Fujishika, engaged in a conversation with an elder man, a member of the Congress, glanced at Kai then returned to conversation. Kai waited.
When Fujishika finally turned to Kai, he gave a tight smile. ¡°You must remind me of your name again, young man.¡±
¡°Mizuki Kai,¡± said Kai, with an elaborate bow. Meilin thought that Kai looked remarkably handsome in a crisp black tuxedo, now revealed because he had for some reason lost his cape.
¡°Ah yes, Mizuki-san. Thank you for the wonderful security system software you sent the company—it has revolutionized our headquarters¡¯ security,¡± said Fujishika. He then glanced at Meilin. ¡°And who may this lovely young lady be?¡±
¡°Li Meilin of the Li Clan,¡± replied Kai, and Meilin curtsied clumsily.
Fujishika¡¯s expression turned stiff, and he actually bowed his head to Meilin. ¡°I welcome you to Japan and if there is anything within my power to ease your stay here, please feel free to let me know. Secretary Yamada—name card for this young lady.¡±
The man in a suit beside him walked forward and presented Meilin a white name card.
Still with a tight smile, Fujishika said, ¡°Please let Li Leiyun-san know that we appreciate the wine and would like to extend our greetings to Li Wutai-sama.¡±
¡°Y-yes,¡± squeaked Meilin, very puzzled.
¡°Well then, you are very occupied so we will take our leave,¡± said Kai, taking Meilin by the arm again.
¡°My pleasure meeting you, Mizuki-san, Li-san,¡± said Fujishika. He watched Kai for a moment. ¡°Mizuki-san, I heard you have grown up abroad, but have we met before?¡±
Kai¡¯s cool gaze met the older man¡¯s. ¡°I have heard I resemble my father a lot—perhaps you met him.¡±
Tomoyo lay on her while lace-curtained canopy bed. Her eyes were too bleary to sew, and she had put her television on silent. She drew her cardigan sweater around her shoulder and sneezed, then picked up her sewing kit again.
A maid knocked on the door. ¡°Tomoyo-ojou-sama, you have a visitor.¡±
¡°Who is it?¡± Tomoyo asked, glancing at the door. There should be no one visiting at this hour.
¡°It¡¯s a gentleman by the name of Hiiragizawa-san,¡± replied the maid, bowing her head and letting a young man with glasses enter.
¡°Eriol-kun!¡± exclaimed Tomoyo, trying to hide her box of Kleenex under her blanket and smooth out her hair. ¡°What are you doing here?¡±
¡°It¡¯s a pity you caught a cold on your favorite holiday of the year,¡± remarked Eriol, walking up to Tomoyo¡¯s bedside and drawing up a chair.
¡°How did you know?¡± Tomoyo asked.
¡°I though your voice sounded hoarse yesterday during choir practice,¡± replied Eriol. He carried a shopping bag and produced a thermostat. ¡°Did you have medicine?¡±
Tomoyo shook her head. ¡°It¡¯s just a head cold. It¡¯ll get better if I rest well.¡± She coughed into a handkerchief. Her throat was so sore that her chest felt like it was going to rip when she breathed in too deeply.
Eriol, arms crossed, eyed the fabric and thread spread across her bed. ¡°Can you seriously think of sewing when you¡¯re in such a condition?¡± Carefully gathering up the material, Eriol moved it over to another table. Then, he opened up the steaming thermostat and poured a creamy white concoction into a mug.
¡°What is that?¡± croaked Tomoyo as Eriol handed her the mug.
¡°Drink it—it¡¯ll sooth your throat.¡±
Breathing in the steam, Tomoyo sipped on the drink. ¡°It¡¯s warm milk and honey.¡± Her throat choked up and her violet eyes turned misty.
¡°What¡¯s wrong? Is the recipe not right?¡± Eriol¡¯s brows were slightly creased.
¡°No¡¦ It¡¯s delicious,¡± replied Tomoyo. ¡°It¡¯s just¡¦ No one has ever made me milk and honey before.¡±
¡°Okaa-san gets so worried when I¡¯m ill—I don¡¯t like to tell her that I¡¯m sick. And when she finds out, she would panic and call upon at least three doctors who would prescribe all sorts of antibiotics.¡± Tomoyo smiled ruefully, taking another sip of the sweet milk. ¡°I was always envious of Sakura-chan when she told me her brother or father made her this drink when she¡¯s sick.¡±
¡°You didn¡¯t tell your mother that you¡¯re sick?¡± Eriol asked, sitting back on the chair next to the bed.
¡°She had an important business dinner to attend—I didn¡¯t want her to worry about me,¡± said Tomoyo.
¡°I see.¡± Eriol was silent for a moment. He picked up a dressed-up doll by Tomoyo¡¯s windowsill. It looked like a chibi-Sakura, dressed in a pink cloak and complete with a pink star staff.
¡°I¡¯m feeling better now, Eriol-kun,¡± said Tomoyo, setting down her mug. ¡°You can go back now—Miho-chan and Nakuru-san must be waiting.¡±
¡°No, they all went trick-or-treating with Miara-san,¡± replied Eriol-kun. ¡°I told them I was going to stay home and do the laundry. There¡¯s quite a lot of laundry with three women in the house.¡±
¡°Then, don¡¯t you need to be doing the laundry then?¡± Tomoyo asked with a smile.
Eriol glanced at the clock. ¡°Oh, they should be self-folding at this moment.¡±
¡°If I had magic, I¡¯d be able to make a hundred more dresses for Sakura-chan,¡± sighed Tomoyo.
¡°Goodness, and when would Sakura-san find the time to wear them all?¡± Eriol remarked. ¡°The dresses you make our so beautiful because of the time and dedication you put into each detail. Your magic, Tomoyo-san is your creativity, and that cannot be replicated by any amount of spells or training.¡±
¡°Eriol-kun, you never say anything to hurt anyone, do you? You¡¯re so nice.¡± Tomoyo played with the end of her loosely braided hair. ¡°You¡¯re nice to the point where I wish you weren¡¯t so nice.¡±
And Eriol¡¯s smile dropped from his face. ¡°Clow Reed spent a lifetime of hurting people, intentionally and unintentionally. If I can remedy that in the slightest bit¡¦¡±
¡°Eriol-kun. I am a person who likes seeing beauty in the world. I like to see only the best in the people, the nice aspects of life. I turn a blind eye towards anything ugly, anything malicious, anything painful.¡± Tomoyo looked up with her violet eyes. ¡°I have fabricated a dollhouse where I can replicate beauty through my camera lens, where I can dress up the world I want in pretty things through my designs. But lately, I realized that the surface level beauty is so fragile. When my camera lens breaks, when my film runs out, when my dresses are torn and soaked in blood, then were do I stand?¡±
¡°In the same place,¡± replied Eriol slowly. ¡°You will mend the dresses and buy yourself a new camcorder.¡±
¡°Is that so?¡± Tomoyo¡¯s glanced at the white sheets.
¡°You don¡¯t seem to like my response?¡± Eriol said. ¡°If you don¡¯t, maybe you should take up Akagi Aki-kun¡¯s confession.¡±
Tomoyo turned red. ¡°How do you know about that?¡±
¡°It¡¯s the hottest gossip at school,¡± replied Eriol with a smug smile. ¡°But he¡¯s the type of boy perfectly suited for you, Tomoyo-san. You¡¯re such an enigma, you need a guy who is simple and straightforward, like Aki-kun, to counterbalance your complexness.¡±
¡°I don¡¯t want to hear about Aki-kun from you out of all people,¡± said Tomoyo, sinking into her bed and turning her head away from Eriol.
Eriol, taken aback, peered at her over her covers. ¡°Are you angry, Tomoyo-san?¡± He seemed mildly amused.
¡°I¡¯m not,¡± replied Tomoyo, voiced muffled into her pillows. Her fever was burning high, and it was unsettling being in the same room as Eriol when her head throbbed too much to think clearly—especially since it took all of her wits to match Eriol in a conversation. Why, why did he always insist on being so nice when she was feeling most vulnerable?
A cool hand reached over and touched her burning forehead. ¡°Shhh¡¦ You should sleep now—your fever will go down by the morning. I¡¯ll stay by your side till you are sleeping.¡±
Nobody had stroked her head like this, not since her father had left. Her eyes were watering from her cold, but her throat felt better from the honey milk. In a bare whisper, she said, ¡°Thank you, Eriol-kun.¡±
¡°Don¡¯t talk. Sleep,¡± he said in his lulling voice, a gentler tone than he had ever used on her before.
And she fell into deep slumber. In her dreams, a man in glasses sat by the windowsill, flipping through books of sketches with a half-smile illuminated by the moon.
A pretty waltz floated through the grand ballroom. Sakura¡¯s feet flew about—it was exhilarating to dance in such a beautiful room, and Eron was a fun dance partner. She had stopped worrying about her grandfather and decided it was best to just enjoy the party.
¡°Now, change your partners!¡± called out the MC from the podium.
Sakura twirled around, away from Eron¡¯s grasp. A tall boy wearing a black mask extended a hand out to her.
The new waltz began, and she found herself facing her new partner. She curtsied with a shy smile, and he bowed, left arm forward. He had a long black cloak over black clothes, so she figured that he might be dressed as Kaitou Magician, which seemed to be the popular choice of costume that night.
¡°My name is Kinomoto Sakura,¡± said Sakura, peering up at the black mask, wondering what kind of eyes her partner had. He guided her with his left hand—he must be left-handed, which made dancing a little awkward. Nonetheless, he was a superb dancer who seemed to lead her as if they had waltzed together before. Her step fell in unison with his. The pressure of right hand resting on her waist was light, yet she felt more aware of his touch than she had of any other partner that night. Her hand gently rested on his left hand. The cloth of his white glove was soft against her fingertips. She liked the way loose locks of his chestnut brown fell onto his forehead as if he had brushed his hair with his hands. He still hadn¡¯t spoken a word. Carefully, he swung her out and then she twirled back into his arms.
¡°Are you not going to tell me your name?¡± asked Sakura with a slight smile. ¡°Or are you somebody I know, and you¡¯re just not telling me?¡±
The waltz drifted to an end, and the partners bowed to each other. The violins of a familiar tune drifted on.
¡°Now, switch partners again!¡± called out the MC. ¡°This one is a popular tune that most of you might be familiar with—the Star-Crossed Medley!¡±
The circle of dancers moved, and Sakura curtsied to the boy in the black cloak. But instead of extending his hand out to the next girl as was customary, he didn¡¯t let go of Sakura¡¯s hand.
¡°Ah—my friend is looking for me,¡± said Sakura, glancing up to see Eron, who tilted his head. Sighing, Eron faced a masked girl with straight dark hair who timidly took Eron¡¯s hand.
Sakura looked up into the twinkling eyes beneath the black mask of her own silent partner. The violins struck out their chord and the tune began. Her body moved without her own awareness. It was as if they had both been holding back in the previous dance. His hand on her waist was firmer, and he stared straight into her eyes as he danced, never taking his eyes off for a moment. The light from the hanging crystal chandeliers was brilliant and the ballroom swirled round and round her. It was as if no one was in the room, and she could dance with this person all night long. White feathers scattered around her from her dress and his black cloak billowed out behind him like the midnight sky. She wished the waltz would never end.
The lights suddenly switched off. There was a buzz of voices. The spotlight fell on the podium and the MC ripped off his Batman mask. ¡°It is now midnight! You may remove your masks!¡±
In the darkness, Sakura peered up at her partner. She removed the carefully beaded mask that Tomoyo had crafted for her. She blinked up at him with emerald eyes, her heart pounding hard. ¡°Aren¡¯t you removing your mask?¡± she asked him.
He stared back at her, his eyes gleaming behind his mask. Tentatively, Sakura reached up to lift his mask.
And did something strange. He reached out with his left hand and cupped her right cheek. His fingers were trembling as his fingers brushed against the wetness on her cheek.
It was too dark to see his face, but Sakura stood there, letting this stranger wipe the tears from her cheek. She did not know why she cried, because she was happier at this moment than she could recall being in a long time, but tears flowed from her eyes. His hand caressed her cheek so tenderly, as if he was trying to send her a message without words.
Are you trying to tell me something? What is it?
The MC now called out, clapping his hands, ¡°And now, the lights will come back on!¡±
Because it was so instantaneous, she might have imagined it, but she thought she felt a softness brush against her forehead. When the lights came back on, she was standing alone, holding a black mask in her hand.
Syaoran hurried his way through the crowds before the lights were switched on again, pushing through couples. His cloak kept getting caught in between people and was too much of a hassle.
¡°Wait, Kai—are you leaving?¡± called out a female voice behind him. ¡°I came here today because I knew you would be here.¡± She paused for a second. ¡°Kai, you and I have both changed, it seems. But all this time, I¡¯ve never forgotten you. Do you know that? Thank your for the dance. I guess your ballroom dancing classes in elementary school paid off. I think I miss the old you though. You¡¯ve become a frightening person, someone I barely recognize. Though you think you can disguise yourself and look like the same person.¡±
The lights switched back on and Syaoran tore through the ballroom, leaving Kara standing alone.
¡°How was the party?¡± asked Tomoyo at school the next day.
¡°Ah, you sound much better,¡± said Sakura. ¡°What a relief.¡±
Tomoyo smiled furtively. It must have been Eriol¡¯s honey milk. ¡°Aki-kun told me you were dancing with a certain Kaitou Magician?¡±
¡°It was a boy dressed like Kaitou Magician,¡± Sakura said.
¡°From our school? Or Eitoukou?¡± Tomoyo asked. ¡°I¡¯m assuming he was a high schooler?¡±
¡°I don¡¯t know. He didn¡¯t say a single word.¡±
¡°What if he was some creepy old man?¡± asked Meilin.
¡°No, I took his mask off—it was too dark to see clearly, but he was our age,¡± replied Sakura. She pulled out the black mask from her pocket.
¡°Hey, that¡¯s Kai¡¯s mask,¡± Meilin said.
¡°There were so many Kaitou Magicians at the party though,¡± said Sakura.
¡°No, his mask has K.M. embroidered on the back. See, there.¡± Meilin pointed out the gold embroidery.
¡°You were dancing with Kai-kun at midnight then?¡± Tomoyo raised an eyebrow.
¡°No!¡± exclaimed Sakura.
¡°It couldn¡¯t have been since I was with Kai at midnight,¡± said Meilin. ¡°Now that I think of it, he got rid of his mask and cloak after I came back from the bathroom.¡±
¡°Then, we can find out the owner of the mask if we ask Kai-kun who he gave his mask to,¡± Tomoyo said.
The three girls ran towards Class 2-1, where Kai sat at his desk, reading. His hair had been combed down again, and there was no trace of the mischievous thief in him from the previous night.
¡°Kai-kun. Who did you give this mask to yesterday?¡± demanded Sakura, holding up the black mask.
¡°I don¡¯t know. That¡¯s not my mask,¡± replied Kai.
¡°This is your mask,¡± Meilin said. ¡°It has K.M. embroidered on the back.¡±
¡°Yeah, well, my mask is here,¡± said Kai, taking out a black mask from his pocket. ¡°Don¡¯t you know they mass-produce those Kaitou Magician masks and cloaks these days with high attention for detail?¡±
A certain smile came over Kai¡¯s lips. ¡°Why are you so intent on finding who your masked prince was? Isn¡¯t the mystery the fun part?¡±
¡°Do you ever have a dream when everything is clouded and you can¡¯t see the faces? But you can feel everything, so vividly. Your eyes can¡¯t see but your heart and body seems to remember?¡± Sakura said.
¡°No¡¦¡± Kai twirled a pencil around his finger. ¡°But continue.¡±
¡°Well, yesterday, I thought I met the person from my dreams that I never could see, but I knew it was him.¡±
Kai shrugged. ¡°Love at first sight? Very Juliet-esque.¡±
¡°No, it wasn¡¯t love at first sight. It was a sense of familiarity,¡± Sakura said. ¡°He danced this complex waltz that the director choreographed for us for the musical production that I didn¡¯t even know I remembered.¡± She laughed shortly. ¡°It was fun!¡±
Kai smiled softly when he saw Kara sitting on the floor of the library, reading glasses perched on her nose, dozing over an open book.
Waking up with a start, Kara hurriedly took off her glasses and pretended to be absorbed in her book. Without glancing up, she remarked, ¡°I guess you¡¯re back to ¡®Mikai-mode¡¯ today.¡±
Slowly, Kai knelt down beside her. ¡°What are you reading?¡±
¡°Houdini,¡± replied Kara. ¡°I saw you talking to Kinomoto Fujishika yesterday.¡±
¡°He didn¡¯t recognize me.¡± Kai smiled ruefully.
¡°You gave your mask to Syaoran,¡± said Kara.
¡°You found out? Well, I¡¯m done with disguises, I guess.¡± Kai let out a short laugh.
¡°It was lucky that I was there, not Jinyu,¡± Kara remarked. ¡°Such reckless behavior from that boy would not be passed off easily by the Li Clan.¡±
¡°Why were you there at the party, anyway, Kara?¡± Kai asked.
Kara stared at Kai with softened lavender eyes. ¡°To baby-sit that silly wolf-boy of course. And why were you there? To flaunt your Li girlfriend? Or to exact your revenge?¡±
¡°A criminal always returns to the scene of crime,¡± murmured Kai, a shadow coming over his eyes.
¡°You¡¯ve really changed,¡± sighed Kara.
¡°No, I haven¡¯t, Kara. I¡¯ve always been like this,¡± said Kai.
¡°Kai, I¡¯ve seen that look on your eyes before. You¡¯re plotting something big,¡± Kara said. ¡°I¡¯m worried for you.¡±
Kinomoto Fujishinto, CEO of the great zaibatsu Hoshi Enterprise, a conglomerate that had rose during the Meiji Era and had been succeeded by generation upon generation of Kinomoto first sons, sat in his grand office in the Hoshi headquarters in metropolitan Tokyo. From his drawer, he opened up a waded leather wallet. Inside was a blurry picture of two boys and a young golden-haired girl. He sighed when there was a knock on the door, and he slipped the picture back into his drawer.
¡°Otou-sama, about the board meeting on Tuesday—¡° began Kinomoto Fujishika, his eldest son and successor.
¡°She¡¯s grown up quite a bit since last summer,¡± remarked Fujishinto.
¡°Whom may you be speaking of, Father?¡± asked Fujishika.
¡°Sakura. She resembles Fujiko more every day.¡±
Fujishika¡¯s face turned to stone. ¡°I really don¡¯t know what you were thinking inviting that person¡¯s children to such an event—if this leaked out to the press—¡°
¡°I heard Touya is the most promising resident intern at Kinhoshi Hospital. Doctor Kimura speaks nothing but praises of him. And I think my dear Sakura was the loveliest young lady at the ball, don¡¯t you think?¡± Fujishinto smiled. ¡°It¡¯s like Fujitaka to raise such wonderful children.¡±
¡°Father, Fujitaka took advantage of you and betrayed you. Such blood also flows in the vein of his children. It is best for you to not involve yourself in the matters of Touya and Sakura anymore,¡± said Fujishika.
¡°You are right my son.¡± Fujishinto sighed, fingering a black mask on his desk.
¡°Excuse me, may I ask otou-sama, what exactly is that?¡± Fujishika asked, clearing his throat.
The elderly man picked up the black mask and put it to his face. ¡°It¡¯s the Kaitou Magician mask—our most popular toy line includes the Kaitou Magician costume and a magical tricks kit. They were handing it out as party favors at the masquerade yesterday. How does it look?¡±
¡°Otou-sama! Kaitou Magician is an international criminal! It is not healthy for our company¡¯s image to be promoting merchandise centered around a thief!¡± Fujishika stated. ¡°Really, father, even after what he stole from us!¡±
¡°But the Kaitou Magician merchandize is so profitable,¡± said Fujishinto with a sigh, taking off his mask. ¡°Besides, he has style.
Wish-chan: February 14, 2009 – HAPPY VALENTINE¡¯S DAY!!!
Yeah, a Halloween chapter for Valentine¡¯s Day. How ironic. This is relatively a fluff chapter (as fluffy as it would get in the midst of all the angst going on in Arc 4 and the fact that Sakura has lost her memory of Li Syaoran). Lol¡¦ This chapter was inspired by Maaya Sakamoto¡¯s song 24, the B-side track to the Card Captor Sakura Opening 3 single Platina. The song basically plays out like a Cinderella story, 24 meaning 24¡¯o¡¯clock aka midnight. The lyrics are in English too:
what happened to the girl
'Round the midnight
When she lost a crystal shoe
I don't need no spell on me
Or bell to tell me
You better go, you better say good bye
Of course I was also influence by the CCS Movie 2, the dancing scene which is animated so beautifully. Anyhow, this chapter is slightly more plot-relevant than some other specials were. You might want to check out Kaitou Magicians¡¯ side story if you haven¡¯t already for more on his background: http://wishluv.revolutionhosting.net/kaitoumagicianspecial.htm
Sakura danced round and round the ballroom with the young man in a black mask. The lights suddenly switched off. She took off her mask.
¡°Can you take off your mask?¡± she said to him.
He shook his head.
¡°Please?¡± Gently, she reached out and took off his mask.
The lights switched back on, and Sakura stared at the boy with chestnut brown hair and amber eyes. Her eyes blurred. ¡°I knew it was you. I knew it was Syaoran.¡±
His hand caressed her cheek so tenderly, as if he was trying to send her a message without words.
¡°Are you trying to tell me something? What is it?¡± A trickle of tear flowed from her eyes. ¡°I won¡¯t forget you. I won¡¯t forget you when I wake up in the morning.¡±
The clock rang midnight, and he smiled at her sadly. He bent over and kissed her forehead. Then, he turned around and walked away.
I promise I won¡¯t forget you when I wake up¡¦