Notes: CLAMP, NHK and Kodansha are the begettors, I am simply a parasite using the fruit of their labors for my own ends. If you enjoy this story or if you wish to consult me about stealing *your* characters, email me.
There is a little shounenai (that is love between boys) here, so if this offends, please stop reading. Thanks.
Four glasses were raised and four drinks downed. Sakura giggled at the champagne, as did Tomoyo, while Yukito grinned at them. Touya glowered, but he had to work at it.
Exams had come and gone and for one more year, they were safe. Tomoyo and Sakura would be passing into their last year of junior high school, and facing the big exams for high school, while Touya and Yukito had just finished their freshmen year of college. It was a relief, as always, to find exams behind them.
It was Sakura’s idea to have a party, not surprisingly. Tomoyo had brought the champagne, Yukito the cake, and Touya has coughed up enough money for a really nice steak dinner. They had all cooked, eaten and thoroughly enjoyed their evening. The only thing missing was their father, who still had exams to grade and who, as a result, was missing the celebration.
Sakura watched with mixed emotions as Yukito speared small morsels for Touya, while the taller boy acted so solicitously of his friend, one might be led to believe he was an invalid. Sakura scowled as yet another lingering look broke off between them as Touya stood abruptly and announced he would be making coffee.
“I think we’ll drink it in my room, if that’s okay.” Sakura commented, glancing at Tomoyo. Her friend nodded, brows slightly furrowed. She could see that something was bothering Sakura, but she had no idea what it was. When the coffee was ready, Sakura took the tray her brother offered her and she and Tomoyo left the living room.
As she turned the corner on the stairs, Sakura cast one last look towards the couple on the couch. Yukito glanced up and seeing her watching him, he waved pleasantly. She pasted a smile on her face and followed Tomoyo into her bedroom.
As the door closed behind her, her smile crumbled and fell. Sakura heaved a sigh and muttered, “It’s not fair.”
Tomoyo looked at her with concern etched into her face. “Sakura-chan?” Tomoyo’s high melodic voice was grave. “Are you okay?” She paused. “Is it Yukito-san?”
Sakura nodded, her eyes downcast. Tomoyo said nothing. She would have sworn that Sakura was over this crush long ago, but….
Sakura looked at her friend, angry now. “It’s just not fair!”
The look of surprise on Tomoyo’s face was so obvious, Sakura stopped and stared. At last the dark-haired girl found her voice. “Sakura – do you still like Yukito-san?”
“Well of course I do!” Sakura’s voice was indignant.
“But I thought you were…over him.” Tomoyo was hesitant to be so blunt.
“What?” Sakura looked startled at her friend’s question. “Me? Of course I am. I’ve been going out with Syaoran for a little over a year. What are you talking about, Tomoyo-chan?”
By now Tomoyo was completely confused. “Then, *what’s* unfair?”
Sakura stepped into the room, placed the coffee tray down on a table and knocked on the drawer where Kero-chan slept. The Seal-Beast opened the drawer, blinking against the light and seeing the coffee and cake, jumped up immediately, yelling “Cake!” as he did so.
“The fact that of all the people in the world Yukito could have fallen in love with, he picked my stupid brother, of course!”
Tomoyo’s brows furrowed again. “Are you jealous?”
Sakura stared at Tomoyo as if her hair had become snakes. “No. Why would I be? I just can’t stand the fact that gentle, sweet Yukito has to pick the most curmudgeonly, stubborn, grumpy person in the whole world!” Sakura had begun to rant and was feeling rather pleased about it. She began to pace as she spoke. “I mean, there they are, every day, spending about half of the day together, looking longingly at each other, practically cooing at each other and my stupid brother *still* hasn’t told Yukito how he feels. I mean, the entire world can *see* they make a cute couple. Sheesh!” Sakura blew her bangs out of her eyes in frustration as she came back around to face her bewildered friend.
Tomoyo’s face cleared, then abruptly, she began to laugh. “Is that all? Well, then, you’re the Mistress of the Cards…”
Kero-chan looked up from the dessert he was eating. “You should be able to bring them together…”
Sakura looked startled, then pleased, then a slow mischievous grin spread across her face. She smiled at Kero-chan and Tomoyo and headed for the phone. “I’m calling Syaoran. We’ll need his help.”
Tomoyo laughed and clapped her hands, as Sakura hit the AutoDial.
“Okay, so Float is out.” Sakura crossed the card name off her list.
“I still don’t understand why.” Kero-chan commented, from slightly above and behind her.
She didn’t even look up to respond. “You wouldn’t.” She ticked off some of the less likely cards, “Jump, no. Fly, no, Sword.” she chuckled, “no. Some of them really just don’t apply do they?”
“How about The Sweet?” Tomoyo asked, looking over Sakura’s shoulder. “You could make their lips sweet for each other.” She sighed at the image.
Li, clearing his throat slightly, muttered, “That doesn’t work.”
Tomoyo giggled as Sakura blushed adorably.
Tomoyo took up the refrain, “Wood, no, Shadow, no, Loop, no…”
“How about Illusion?” Li suggested, watching Sakura checking off the card names. “We could make them think the other was in danger…” He thought a moment longer, “Or that the other was trying to…umm, you know, seduce him.” His voice trailed off at the end of the sentence, his face pinking.
Sakura squeezed Li’s arm. “It’s a good idea, but I think we’ll stick with the original plan.” She put the end of her pen in her mouth, “I wish we could find a way to fit “Glow into it…its such a beautiful card.” They all stared into the middle distance, thinking about their respective experiences with that card. Like fireflies in late June, but with a warm sensation, like holding hands, Tomoyo had once described it. They all sighed softly, then turned their attention back to the paper.
Kero-chan took a turn, “Sand, Lock, Wave…”
“Song!” Sakura shouted with glee! “That’s it! That was what we needed!”
“Then that’s it!” Li smiled as Sakura and Tomoyo hugged, then even harder as they included him in the embrace.
“This will work, I know it!” Tomoyo was ecstatic. “I knew you could do it, Sakura-chan!”
Sakura laughed at her friend. “It’s a good thing it’s not me, or you’d want to videotape it.” Tomoyo laughed happily at the joke.
“Why don’t you invite Yukito-san over for dinner tonight?” Sakura asked Touya, as he served breakfast. “Father’s working late and it’s my turn to cook. I’ll even make his favorite!”
“What? Food?” Touya almost grinned at his little joke, then buried his face in the morning newspaper.
“I have a special recipe I want to try. It’s a fancy dinner though….” Sakura paused as if considering. “I’ll tell you what. Tell Yukito to dress up nice, and you and I will too – we can pretend we’re in a nice restaurant for the evening.”
Touya grunted without looking up from the paper. Sakura hid a grin behind her cup of tea. He was so easy to manipulate it was sick.
“Done.” Sakura confirmed at lunchtime. “Are we all ready?”
“Yes – I’ve made arrangements for dinner.” Tomoyo said, grinning. “We can eat it out in our garden after…well, afterwards.”
“Okay, then I expect to get a phone call from you at 6:30 sharp, Syaoran.” She smiled at Li who grinned back.
“On the dot.”
” ‘Operation Matchmaker’ begins tonight.” Sakura could not stop grinning.
The table was set with the finest china they had, Sakura had ironed the linen napkins herself. Dinner was almost done, and Touya, trying not to be pleasant, was loitering in the kitchen. Sakura had set the table with two settings, and left the makings for a third close to the edge. Candlesticks, unlit, with matches nearby, matched the flower arrangement perfectly.
She glanced at her brother from underneath lowered lids. Amazingly, he had played along, dressing in a nice suit jacket and tie for this dinner. She smirked internally at him. This was going to be so fun. She continued preparing the evening’s meal without comment, until the doorbell rang. She glanced at the clock – 6:15, on the dot.
“I’ll get it!” Sakura sprang from her place by the stove and cut across her brother’s path. Turning, she glowered at him. “Watch the pot, please?”
He looked at her with an odd expression but said nothing. Turning, he walked over to the stove and began to stir the sauce.
Sakura flew to the door, just as the bell rang again. She yanked it open, bowing as she did, and found herself face to face with Yukito, who was bending to pick something up from the ground. They both stood and smiled at each other. Yukito was stunning tonight, Sakura noticed. His suit was the same smoky gray as his hair, and was made from silk. She resisted the urge to stroke it, but only barely. Perfect.
She welcomed him in and showed him to the living room. Upon re-entering the kitchen, she shooed Touya away from the pot, and told him to go amuse his guest. Touya grumbled, but did as he was told. Sakura could hear the sound of drinks being poured.
She glanced at the clock once again…any moment now.
“Dinner will be served in a minute.” She popped her head into the living room, startling the two men, who spoke low, their heads close together.
“Sakura-chan, thank you for inviting me tonight.” Yukito lifted one lapel. “It’s not often I get a chance to wear this.” He grinned at the girl, and almost, she thought, he winked. Maybe it was her imagination.
“I thought it would be nice to be dressed up for dinner.” Sakura said, smiling at him. “And you do look very nice tonight, Yukito-san. Doesn’t he, Touya?” She asked her brother pointedly. He glanced at her sharply and agreed.
“You look lovely tonight too, Sakura-chan.” Yukito laughed, “Touya always looks good.” Sakura smiled back at the smaller man, and bowed once more.
As if on cue, the phone rang, Sakura answered it, stifled a giggle and held a short conversation with Syaoran.
She stepped back into the living room. “I’m afraid that I won’t be eating with you after all…” she began. The two men looked at her with some surprise. “Syaoran just called and frankly, it’s a better offer, so I’m abandoning the two of you for the evening. Dinner is all ready to be served, so you should be fine.”
Touya scowled, completely unconvinced by her performance, but Yukito was smiling. “A dinner date with Li-kun? I can completely understand why you are standing us up. Have fun!” He called after her, as she ran over the table and scooped up the final place setting.
“It’s a good thing I never finished setting the table.” She commented solemnly. “Will you two be alright without me?” She could barely keep the laughter out of her voice. But she took their assurances with good grace, and took her leave of them.
As soon as she stepped out of the house, she took a deep breath and sighed.
She could see Tomoyo, Li and Kero-chan waiting for her across the road.
She gave them a thumbs-up signal. “Phase 1 complete!” She said as she joined them.
Dinner had been very good, Touya thought, as he cleared the last remnants from the table. He should tell Sakura…eventually. He poured more champagne into their glasses with a flourish. Seated across from Yukito, he had a hard time not staring openly at the smaller man. Smiling, as he always was, but tonight he seemed different. More confident, or maybe more radiant than usual.
Touya swallowed the sentiment as fast as it arose. He would never lead Yukito on, no matter how much he wanted to. The occasional touch, a smile, every once in a while, a caress. That was enough. Yuki was his in every way but one. And that, Touya, reminded himself, was not his to have.
Yukito looked at the candlesticks for a moment, then picked up the matches. Turning them over in his hand, he looked up at Touya.
“Would you mind if I lit them? Candles are so cheerful.”
“Just like you.” Touya said, as he nodded.
Yukito struck the match and leaned forward to light the candles.
Outside 4 figures sighed with relief.
“I didn’t think they’d *ever* light them!” Kero-chan cried with exasperation.
“My brother…” Sakura mumbled.
“I think,” Tomoyo said slowly, “Yukito knows.”
“What?” Li and Sakura turned towards the dark-haired girl.
“Or maybe he just knows a good chance when he sees one.” Tomoyo continued.
Three figures heaved a heavy sigh.
“Let me have the binoculars, Kero-chan.” Sakura said.
Inside, the table was clear, and the two men sat in companionable silence, each lost in his own thoughts.
A rumble of thunder was heard from outside, then another. Neither looked out the window.
“So,” Touya began, but his voice petered out. He tried again a moment later, but a louder rumble of thunder caused him to stop.
“Sounds like a storm is coming.” Yukito commented. More thunder. No clouds, he noticed, but plenty of thunder…
“Mmmmm.” Touya stared into his glass. “Yuki…” Incredibly loud thunder erupted above them and they both turned towards the window. Thick black clouds were racing in towards them, carrying a heavy rain, which immediately began pelting down upon the roof.
“Weird storm.” Yukito commented, grinning.
“Mmmm.” Touya agreed. “You look really nice tonight, Yuki. Thanks for coming over, playing along with Sakura’s little idea. Even if she isn’t here.” He smiled a little at his friend, who grinned back. The wind and rain outside were harsh now.
“It’s always a pleasure to have dinner here. You have a nice family.” Yukito’s grin was implacable. “And you look good too, To-ya. You should dress up more often.”
Touya looked up and met Yukito’s eyes and completely forgot the violence of the storm outside.
Which was a good thing, since at that moment, the lights went out.
“Okay, whose idea was Storm?” Sakura said, and shivered. Her dress was nice, but it wasn’t meant to brave heavy rains. Her legs were bare and it was only April after all.
“Yours.” Three voices informed her. They huddled under their umbrellas, determined to see this through, but wondering if maybe they could have planned this better.
“I told you we should have used Illusion.” Li grumbled.
The candles cast a cheerful glow, as candles do, in the darkened room. At Yukito’s suggestion the two men had moved over to the sofa. The candles now sat on the table, a nexus of warmth and light in the room. Yuki shifted slightly, bringing himself a little closer to Touya.
He looked past the taller man, and could see little pools of light refracted in the raindrops that still pounded the window. They were the only house that seemed to have lost power…he shrugged internally.
Touya didn’t move away from Yukito, nor did he move closer. It was as if he was creating a zone of denial so strong that it was impossible to even acknowledge the other man’s actions. Yukito grinned at him.
“This is kind of nice, isn’t it. To-ya?”
“Hmm?” The dark-haired man looked surprised.
“The rain outside, the dark inside…it reminds me of my childhood.” Yukito’s voice became soft, forcing Touya to lean closer to hear him.
Yukito’s eyes closed. “Don’t you remember nights like that? When you were young and there was a storm outside? You’d lay in bed, and pull the blankets up around you and feel warm and dry, and think about the cold wet outside.”
“Yes.” Touya’s voice was soft, contemplative. “And you’d be even warmer and drier, thinking about it.”
“I feel a little like that now.”
Yukito opened his eyes and found Touya watching him, his dark eyes glittering in the candlelight. Yukito’s hand found Touya’s, and boldly folded himself into the crook of Touya’s shoulder.
Yukito could hear Touya sigh just a little as he did.
“Now?” Sakura bounced up and down on cold feet. “Come on, Kero-chan! Let one of us have the binoculars!”
Kero-chan looked down from where he hovered, then passed the binoculars to Tomoyo.
She spent a moment focusing the instrument, then giggled. “I think now would be very appropriate.” She took the binoculars away from her eyes and handed them over to Li, who stared at them for a moment, blushed then handed them directly to Sakura without looking.
Sakura took them, focused them and grinned. “Okay, let’s call off the Storm first.”
She picked up her Key from where it lay and commanded the Storm to dissipate. Dark she told to remain fixed in the house. Tomoyo laughed at this use of the powerful card.
Originally they had thought about a real power outage, but decided against it. The Power Company would go crazy trying to fix a magical outage. The Dark it was.
“Flower!” Sakura was finishing her invocation, as Tomoyo turned to watch. She cursed herself for not bringing her video camera. Sakura was so *cute* as Mistress of the Cards.
“Flower, send in the scent of peach flowers! ” Sakura paused, “Nice and subtle, though, don’t overpower them.” Sakura grinned as the other three giggled once again. Okay, they were cold and wet, but dammit, this had to work!
Yukito watched Touya as he leaned back into the sofa, his arm curled around his friend. Touya’s dark hair and dark eyes were not at all mysterious or unreadable. Yukito was sure he could hear the other man’s thoughts, or maybe they were his own. His eyes closed and he breathed softly, smelling the faint scent of peach flowers. Early in the season, but he knew they were Touya’s favorite.
Touya stared at the candles, his body both relaxed and tense to the point of snapping. He could smell a faint scent coming from Yukito, of a light cologne and a slight scent of flowers. Before he could stop himself, Touya turned to look at the smaller man, and found his face just brushing the soft hair, with his lips. When Yukito did not pull away, Touya leaned into the motion just a little more. Yukito sighed slightly, and pressed back into Touya.
“NOW!” Li yelled, as he dropped the binoculars, scandalized at himself for watching this.
“Song!” Sakura cried out and called the card. A voice, soft and sweet came faintly to their ears, singing a old song about love.
Sakura leaned into Tomoyo and grabbed her arm. “If this doesn’t work, I’m going to kill my older brother….” She muttered.
It was so soft, he thought it must be in his head. Touya could hear a simple song, one he remembered from his childhood, about love, and about beauty.
He looked down at Yukito, who chose that moment to look up at him. They were not even an inch apart. Touya found himself torn between pulling away and moving forward. What to do? What if Yuki…?
Yukito’s hand lifted and slowly cupped Touya’s chin. Drawing himself forward, Yukito leaned up to brush Touya’s lips with his own. Touya had just about enough presence of mind to breathe in, inhaling Yuki’s scent, the scent of peach flowers, and cologne.
Yukito’s lips moved closer, covering Touya’s, and his one hand was joined by a second. Cupping Touya’s face, Yukito poured himself into the kiss. Touya found himself melting, melting into Yukito’s eyes, his lips, his touch…what a fool he had been. Touya closed his arms around the smaller man, and drew him in close, embracing him tightly, as they kissed.
Across the street, safely out of earshot, four figures cheered, gave each other high-fives, low-fives, Seal-Beast fives and other forms of celebration.
Sakura gathered up her things, reduced the Key to its portable size and smiled. Turning back to the house one last time, she lifted the binoculars to her face, paused, then dropped them slowly, a puzzled look on her face.
Tomoyo stopped where she was, and watched her friend. “What’s the matter Sakura-chan?”
Li immediately grabbed Sakura’s arm and watched her face intently. “Nothing bad’s happening, is it?”
Sakura shook her head, her puzzled expression fixed upon her face. Shaking her head again slowly, she seemed to return to the present. Looking up at Li she smiled, squeezed his hand. “No, nothing bad. It’s just that…well…”
“Well?” Kero-chan was frantically spinning above her head.
Sakura grinned and shrugged. “They were kissing okay. It’s just that, I could have sworn that…that Yukito gave us a thumbs up.”
“Ehhhh?” Three voices said in unison.
“That’s what it looked like.” Sakura admitted.
They all paused, shook their heads and headed over to Tomoyo’s for a nice warm dinner.
Inside the house, Yukito dropped his hand back from its position of “thumbs up” and let it trail its way through Touya’s dark locks. He smiled against Touya’s lips, silently thanking Sakura and her friends, for such a nice evening.