Red Lily

Just Once (Part 06)

Written By | Series: Cardcaptor Sakura | Part of

Chapter 6

When you look in my eyes
Do you have faith like me
Love can heal the wounds
That cry us all to sleep?


“Mysteries We Understand” by Sophie B. Hawkins, from Tongues and Tails


 

Syaoran steeled himself for a moment, then rapped decisively on the door. He wasn’t even thinking about what he would say if Touya answered, if he didn’t want to let Syaoran in…his only thought was to get to Sakura.

The door opened quietly, and Yukito stood in the doorway, framed by the dim room behind him. Syaoran bit his lip for a moment, then opened his mouth.

But before he could say anything, Yukito said “Li-kun!” and smiled wonderfully at him, his expression lightening with gladness and what seemed to be relief. “I’m glad you came! We’ve been trying to reach you, but you must have already left…” He stood aside and ushered Li into the house.

“We?” asked Syaoran, unable to hold back the question.

“Touya and I,” replied Yukito, as though it was the most natural thing in the world.

“T-Touya, too?” Syaoran stammered out before he could stop himself, then blushed. He knew how it sounded, but he couldn’t help himself. For so long he’d thought of Touya as, well, not an enemy, exactly, but certainly not someone that was friendly to his cause, either. But Yukito just smiled a little, and looked at him with eyes that were startlingly perceptive.

“Yes, Touya, too.” He stopped. “Please wait in here for a moment while I go and see Sakura,” he said politely.

Sakura. Li’s heart clenched as the reason why he was here spun back to him full force. He sat down to wait, pressing his hands together against his impatience and forcing himself to breathe deeply and regularly. It was all he could do not to follow Yukito, he was so worried about Sakura.

Closing his eyes, he focused on his awareness of his surroundings, and when he opened them again, he looked around the room with interest. This was Yukito’s house, he knew. Apparently Yukito favored a more traditional style than the Kinomotos, the house was very plain, but the few decorations gave it a feel of antiquity, beauty, and tradition.

A cry shattered his concentration. “Leave me alone!” came a yell, almost a scream, from the other room. Syaoran froze with shock for a moment, quite unable to believe that it was Sakura he’d just heard. And in the next moment he was in the back of the house, pulling open the door of the room without a conscious thought.

“Sakura!”


 

Sakura appeared to be as shocked by her outburst as her brother and Yukito had been. “I-I’m sorry, I–” Whatever she was going to say next was lost as Syaoran burst into the room.

“Sakura!”

She just stared at him, her face reflecting happiness and pain at seeing him, the two of them combining to create confusion. Blinking at him through the turmoil, she whispered, broken and uncertain, “Syaoran?”

Neither of them noticed as Yukito quietly drew her brother out of the room, leaving the two of them alone. All of her attention was focused on the young man standing before her.

“What…what are you doing here?” she asked in a small voice.

“I…it’s a long story.” He hesitated. “Sakura…I’ve seen Tomoyo.”

Her next reaction was not quite what he’d expected, somehow. She sat straight up on the bed, her eyes burning, and asked, “Where?”

Syaoran blinked. After a second he stammered, “At…at my apartment. She came to see me-” Sakura was out of the bed, reaching for her sweater. “What-”

“I need to see her,” said Sakura determinedly. “I need to go to her-”

Li grabbed her by the shoulders. “Sakura, please, wait!” She stilled within his grasp and glared at him angrily. He faltered…he’d never seen that expression turned against him before. “She…she’s not going anywhere,” he said “I made her promise that she wouldn’t run away.” For one burning moment, Sakura locked eyes with him.

“Really?” she whispered.

“Really,” he said, trying to make his voice firm and reassuring. Slowly, Sakura sank back down on the edge of the bed. “Syaoran…I…” She trailed off, her expression troubled.

Carefully, Li sat down next to her, and gently took her hand in his own. “Sakura,” he said softly. “I…I know what happened…I understand…”

She looked at him again, her eyes hard and bright and a little angry. “Do you?” she said sharply. “Do you know that she said that she loved me? And that I realized…I realized…” She turned her face away from him and stared at the wall, her jaw tight. Syaoran felt the world beneath him tremble a little. He’d told Tomoyo that he would take Sakura any way that she would have him, and it was true. But…his stomach did a strange sort flip as he stared at Sakura’s back.

“Sakura,” he said, feeling an odd numbness coming over him, physically and emotionally, “If…if she…if that’s…what you want…” Sakura started and turned back to face him, very slowly. Syaoran swallowed. “If you love her so much that…” He stared into her eyes. “I want you to be happy more than anything. If…if it would make you happy…” He swallowed again, as the numb feeling spread out from his center to his fingertips. His voice was distant but clear in his own ears. “I would…I would let you go,” he whispered, almost choking on the words.

Sakura just stared at him for a long moment, seeing him for the first time since he’d come into the room. Then, with a strange light in her eyes, she leaned forward aggressively and kissed him.

For a moment, Syaoran froze. Then, a great warmth flowered in him, filling him and washing away the numbness. A tidal wave of joy and love swept through him, and he wrapped his arms around his beloved, unable to do more than whisper her name over and over again, echoing every heartbeat.

Sakura….Sakura…Sakura…Sa…ku…ra…

Time held no meaning, but after awhile Sakura pulled back from him and looked at him, the strange light still in her eyes. “But I won’t let you go,” she said, her voice taut but resonating with love. “I’ve waited too long for us to be together. I love you too much. She caught his hands in her own. “I’ll never let you go!” she whispered. And she pulled his head down to rest against her breast, where he could hear her heartbeat, strong and steady.


 

Syaoran sat up and twined his fingers with Sakura’s. “What are we going to do about Tomoyo-chan?” he asked softly. Sakura’s expression crumbled in on itself a little as a terrible grief swept through her. But this time she did not break down completely. “I don’t know…I’m glad you came, or I don’t know what I might have done. Thank you for helping me get my…my balance back.” She smiled at him a little. “It’s always been that way, hasn’t it? You’ve always supported me when I was unhappy or struggling. It’s one of the reasons I love you so much.” Li blushed, but Sakura’s expression was turning unhappy again. “But I don’t know what to do about Tomoyo-chan.” She frowned, a sudden wave of anger rising within her. “It’s not fair!” she cried.

“What’s not?” prompted Li softly.

She turned her intense expression towards him, but he could see that she was looking backwards over all the years that she had been the Cardcaptor, and perhaps over all the years she had known Tomoyo. Sakura’s hands clenched into fists. “For me…for me everything is always supposed to be all right,” she said, struggling to make herself understood. “For me…everything probably will be all right, even if I…” She swallowed and sudden tears stung her eyes, but she brushed them away impatiently. Taking a deep breath, she went on, “Even if I were to lose Tomoyo-chan.” She squeezed his hand. “As long as you’re with me, I’ll be all right. But…what about her? Why can’t everything be all right for her, too?” She looked at Li with pleading, desperate eyes. “She’s been through so much already, Syaoran. I can’t bear to cause her any more pain! Surely she doesn’t deserve it! She’s never been anything but kind and gentle and sweet to anyone! Why is this happening to her, of all people?” Sakura shook her head hard. “It’s like the Maze card. No matter which way I turn, which path I try to take, there’s no way out. No way to keep from hurting someone.” She sighed and leaned against her fiancé. “What am I going to do, Syaoran?”

Syaoran did not answer her immediately. He was quiet for a long time, but Sakura knew that he was thinking about everything she’d said, turning it over in his mind. Finally, he said slowly, “Do you remember how we beat the Maze card?”

Sakura looked puzzled but nodded. “Mizuki-sensei beat it. She used the bell to-”

“-blast through the wall,” Li finished for her. “Breaking through the boundary, forging our own path…” Sakura turned her head on one side, looking at him thoughtfully, but didn’t say anything. “I think…” said Syaoran softly, “I don’t know if it will work, but I think…I have an idea.”


 

Tomoyo jumped and slithered on the slippery limo seat as her purse began to ring. She reached inside and pulled out her sleek little cell phone…then realized that it wasn’t the one ringing. Surprised, she reached in again and found it…the bulkier pink phone from her childhood. She had always kept it, as she knew Sakura, Li, and Kero-chan had kept theirs. Only one of them would be calling her on this phone.

She stared at it as it continued to ring.

It rang for a long time.

Finally, her hands trembling, she pressed the “Answer” button.

“Hello?”

“Tomoyo-chan?”

“Sakura.” Tomoyo’s voice cracked a little.

“Tomoyo-chan…please come back. Syaoran’s here, and…we want to talk to you. Please…”

Tomoyo was silent for a moment, then she heard Syaoran’s voice. “Please, Tomoyo. We need to see you.” She could picture the two of them, huddling closely, anxiously, together, awaiting her answer.

There was a moment of numbness, of distance…of space. Tomoyo saw, heard, felt nothing, was nothing…

and then…

Sakura’s voice came again, cutting through the stillness and silence and shattering her moment of suspended animation.

“Please.”

Sakura-chan had never been able to refuse Tomoyo anything that she’d truly wanted. No matter what, she’d always given in, and never asked for anything in return but Tomoyo’s friendship and support.

How could Tomoyo fail to give her the only thing she’d ever asked from her?

“I’m coming, Sakura-chan,” she whispered; and then pressed the “Off” button. Turning to the driver she said softly, “Please take me back to Tsukishiro-san’s house.” Then she lay back against the seat, drained and empty, as the car accelerated smoothly.


 

Somehow she’d expected that Touya would be the one to answer the door again, so it was a bit of a shock when the door slid open in response to her knock and Syaoran stood there. He smiled at her warmly, and reached out to her, taking her hand and drawing her inside. “Thank you for coming,” he said quietly.

He led her into the living room area, its traditional decor offset by a few pieces of modern furniture. Ensconced in a corner of the couch next to a small table was Sakura, holding a glass of what appeared to be milk in her hand.

Honey milk, thought Tomoyo. Touya-san always makes it for her when she’s sick…or especially upset, I guess… The thought was distant, detached.

Sakura looked up at her and smiled.

Tomoyo felt something, a tremor in that numbness that enveloped her.

“I’m glad you came, Tomoyo-chan,” said Sakura, softly but sincerely.

Something, a sharp splinter of feeling, needled through her walls of apathy.

“Please sit down,” continued Sakura, indicating the spot next to her on the couch. “Would you like some tea?”

Tomoyo slowly shook her head, thinking how surreal all of this was. Just a short time ago Sakura had been sobbing, overwrought…now she seemed calm. Tomoyo looked at her more closely as Sakura reached out and began to pour her some tea anyway. No, Sakura wasn’t quite calm…her hand trembled a little as she lifted the teapot, and there was an indefinable tension, a sort of anticipation about her. But for all that, she no longer seemed unhappy.

Syaoran sat down on the other side of Tomoyo, and she turned to look at him. She knew he was responsible for Sakura’s regained stability. He had always balanced her…the two of them were…perfect…together. A small shattering within her at the thought, a stone breaking the clear reflection in a small pond, and then it was swallowed up into her apathy. And, in spite of everything, she could still be happy for them, in a distant sort of way.

Sakura reached out and took her hand. “Tomoyo-chan, Syaoran and I have been talking,” she began. “And…” she paused and blushed. “And…I don’t know how to say this, but…” She stopped, took a deep breath, and blurted out, “We want you to come live with us!”

Tomoyo blinked. She stared at Sakura…surely she couldn’t have just said what Tomoyo thought she’d said? Was she…was she offering what Tomoyo thought she was offering? Tomoyo turned to Syaoran, who was smiling at her. “But-” she began.

“It was my idea,” said Syaoran simply. Tomoyo’s mouth fell open. “But…” she began again. Abruptly she stood up and turned to the two of them. “Sakura-chan, Li-kun…I…why…?”

Sakura smiled at her friend’s bewilderment. “Because we want to,” she said.

Tomoyo shook her head in wonder. How could she sit there and so blithely offer something so enormous? Surely she didn’t see, she didn’t understand…it made Tomoyo’s head hurt just trying to figure out the logistics of such a thing. Sakura wasn’t aware of the difficulties, the potential disagreements, all the problems that could come of an arrangement like that. Syaoran could see, a little, thought Tomoyo, but even he was being blind and naive, thinking that it would be enough if they…

A horrible thought struck her. “This isn’t out of…out of pity?” she said in a small voice.

Sakura leapt up from the couch, Syaoran just behind her. “No! Out of love, of course.”

Tomoyo’s eyes were very wide and grey.

“Love?”

Sakura took a step forward and took Tomoyo’s hands in her own. “Yes,” she said, her face bright with joy. “Ai shiteru, Tomoyo-chan.” Tomoyo couldn’t move or speak, could only stare into Sakura’s bright, emerald eyes, sparkling with joy, sincerity…and love. “Sakura-chan…loves me?” It was a dream, it couldn’t be real. But Sakura’s arms were suddenly around her, and they were warm, and she could feel the texture of the fabric beneath her cheek as she leaned her head on Sakura’s shoulder. “Sakura-chan…loves me!” Tears stung her eyes, and her apathy cracked wide open, and suddenly she was sobbing, clinging to Sakura for dear life.


 

Syaoran smiled as Tomoyo broke down in Sakura’s arms, and stood awkwardly to the side. But before he even had time to feel a pang of jealousy, Sakura had turned her head to him and reached out with one hand, drawing the three of them together in warmth, and joy…and love.


 

Owari