2: A Walk in the Park
Sakura sat alone on the swing, lost in memory…
<Julian doesn’t love me> she thought as he walked away, leaving
her with Li and Madison. She had
told him how she felt, at the festival, and he told her he wasn’t the one…. And then they had been attacked, and somehow Li had gotten
through maze and illusion to try to rescue her…
She turned to Li.
“I want to thank you, Li.” He looked upset, “Li?”
“Eeeh…” She was confused by his reaction, and even more so when he
“I’ll walk you home!” he said, a little too loudly.
Sakura ducked her head, “thank you… but first…”
Li turned to study her, “What is it?”
“Can we go to the park?”
He had agreed, so they went. She
didn’t know what she wanted - she just knew that she needed someone right now.
They sat on the swings in silence for a few moments.
She stared at the ground, gathering her courage.
<Why is this so hard? It’s just Li.> Li tried not to look at her;
he didn’t want to make her uncomfortable.
She took a deep, shuddering breath, “You know, today I told Julian that
I love him.”
Li looked surprised. “Oh, you did...?”
She nodded, tears forming in her eyes, “But.... But he said.... That
the one for me isn't him.”
“He said, ‘Your feelings for me, are they like those for your
father?’ and I thought about it, and I realized he was right. But there's
someone he loves, really loves, not like a father. The person Julian loves, I
love that person, too.... And I'm sure that person loves him. So it's all right
that he doesn't love me.... As long as Julian is with the person he loves, it's
Li noticed that she was crying.
“But.... It seems that.... For some reason.... I can't help but cry....
But I couldn't cry in front of him, because he'd know....” She sobbed. Li’s
eyes filled with pain and he seemed to struggle for a moment - conflicted. He
got up off his swing and came to stand in front of her.
“Why am I crying...? I understand what he said, but.... Really, I'm
glad that he's happy....”
“I know.” He reassured her. He
held out his handkerchief. “I
understand.” She took the
handkerchief and stood to face him. She clutched the handkerchief and leaned her
head on his shoulder. She just
She spoke, her voice muffled against him, “Julian said.... Someday I'd
find someone I really loved, and.... He'd love me as much as I loved him.”
Li smiled and placed his hands on her shoulders gently.
“I'm sure you'll find him.”
She nodded against his shoulder and he put his head against hers -
placing his arms around her in a comforting hug.
“It's all right. You'll find him.” He whispered.
<boy was I dense.
It’s so obvious now.>
hand touched her from behind, pulling her away from her thoughts, as a familiar
voice spoke her name.
smiled and reached up to take the hand now resting lightly on her shoulder.
She laid her cheek on it. “Hmm?”
smiled, “What were you thinking about?”
laughed softly, “No, really. What
really.” She squeezed his hand lightly, “I was thinking about that day I was
with you here. After I told Julian
how I felt about him and I cried in your arms.” She paused, “you already
loved me then – didn’t you.” It was really more of a statement than a
nodded, and then remembering that she couldn’t see him (as he was still behind
her) he spoke, “yes. I had been looking forward to some time alone with you, I was
planning to… to tell you. But
after you told me what happened I decided it would be best to wait.”
giggled, “Yeah, it was.” They stayed in silence a few moments, enjoying one
another’s company. “He was
right,” she said softly, breaking the silence.
Who was right?”
I really did love him like a brother, and love did find me.
So I guess… I guess that heartache was actually a good thing.”
hand tightened on hers, “A good thing?” he asked uncertainly.
nodded, then stood and faced him, taking both his hands in hers, “If I
hadn’t confronted him, I never would have analyzed those feelings.
I would have gone on thinking that I loved him and then my heart would
never have been free for you.”
smiled gently, “Then I guess it was a good thing after all.” He pulled her
into his arms.
pulled back to see a grinning
grinned slyly, “And without any encouragement.
I’m so proud, Li.”
grit his teeth; that smile really bugged him.
smiled, “Hi Madison! Eli!
What are you two doing here?”
you know, just hanging out. What
are you doing here?”
checking out the park. Want to join
us?” Neither girl noticed Li’s fallen face.
Sakura linked arms with
sighed, <so much for a quiet day with Sakura.> he turned to follow them,
<oh well.> he had known it was too good to last.
He pasted on a smile which he nearly lost when he saw Eli watching him.
eyed him with an oddly sympathetic expression, “I’m sorry.
I really didn’t know you two were here.”
shrugged, it wasn’t Eli’s fault after all.
The two men hurried to catch up with their girlfriends.
and Madison roamed the park in easy camaraderie, giggling and whispering.
Li and Eli followed silently behind.
Occasionally Eli would turn to the man beside him as though to say
something, but he always turned back without a word passing through his lips.
Li had his hands deep in his pockets – his typical almost frown in
park was much as it had always been: the huge blue penguin slide in the center,
its crown shining in the sun; the smaller, multi-colored penguins surrounding
it. It was just as it had been when
Li had left – only without the dark magic.
least, that’s what Li kept telling himself.
Except that he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.
He glanced at Sakura, then Eli. They
seemed fine. <Just old memories>
could feel Li watching her. She
felt a pang of guilt. This was
supposed to be their day, their time together.
It wasn’t as though she hadn’t seen
Eli couldn’t keep this up any longer.
barely glanced at him.
I should go talk to
he gave a small, but sincere smile, “they’re enjoying themselves.
Let’s not ruin it for them.”
looked uncertain, but he gave in with a shrug, “have it your way, descendant."
Li rolled his eyes, but didn’t make a retort.
a few moments they walked in silence.
looked up, surprised, “Yes?”
stared down at his shoes, then set his face and lifted his gaze to Eli’s,
“Thank you. For being willing to
help.” The last part was a rush.
smiled and nodded. He was tempted to tease Li, but decided the other young man
had gone through enough this day. After
all, it had taken Li quite a bit of effort to thank him.
Eli smirked at the ground. So
maybe this day did have a bright spot – Li was learning manners.
how about it?”
jumped, “Hmm? Oh sorry.” She ducked her head sheepishly when she met
Sakura cast a covert glace at Li; at least he and Eli were trying to get along.
She felt so bad, “I don’t think so
you see, I, that is,” she cast a helpless glance at Li – who couldn’t
fathom what that look was for, but shifted as though to go help her anyway.
I” Sakura shrugged.
can’t believe I did that! I’m not usually so, so… well, I’m sorry.”
The dark haired girl gave Sakura a quick hug, before shooting to her feet
and over to Eli in the quickest motion Sakura had ever seen her make.
“Come on Eli. We have
somewhere to be.” She pulled him
unceremoniously to his feet.
was confused, “We do? But I-” he glanced down at Li, “Right, I can’t
believe I forgot!”
But you-” Li stopped when Eli glanced meaningfully at Sakura.
“Oh, right.” Li smiled. <Thank
you> he hoped his eyes communicated his gratitude.
slowly approached him as their two friends practically ran out of sight.
time they left.” Li grinned.
Sakura stopped a few feet from him. “I’m
stretched out a hand toward her. She
took it and he drew her closer, “For what?”
rested her head on his chest, and his arms encircled her waist, “For today.
I didn’t mean to but I-”
he pulled back and placed a finger on her lips to silence her.
“It’s okay. I
understand.” He grinned wickedly, “But I can’t say I’m sorry they
She punched him lightly, but giggled. She
couldn’t have agreed more. She
laid her head back on his chest and relaxed.
It just felt so right to be here, like coming home. <But does he still
feel the same?> She pushed the niggling thought to the farthest corner of her
mind. For now she would just enjoy this time. What happened tomorrow was tomorrow’s business.
was standing beneath the tree again. The
wind blew sweet sakura blossoms around her.
Funny that she thought they were sweet – she couldn’t actually smell
them. Squinting she looked at her
surroundings. She knew this
place… Why was she here?
walked noiselessly through the garden until she came to an area enclosed in a
stone wall. Wasn’t this where Clow Reed usually was?
But there was no sign of anyone.
wind shifted, blowing her hair into her eyes.
A twig snapped. <The wind?> She turned toward the sound.
In the shadows of the wall stood a figure in green and white.
stared at her for a moment as though trying to decide if she were real. Then he moved toward her.
that moment a chill entered the wind and a darkness crept across the sky,
lending an eerie,
purplish light to the landscape. The
two young people froze as the chill took hold of their souls.
evil. And so powerful> Sakura
awoke with a start. The dream. She
hadn’t had the dream in years. <Wh-
why?> she closed her eyes tightly. <Why
now?> Was it simply because of Li? Had
his returned caused the old memories to resurface?
this had felt different. In the
past the dream had been a place of refuge.
Mysterious yes, but here she had been shown bits of the past and inklings
of the future. It had been Clow
Reed’s gift to her. But this
setting had been the same, but the dream felt… sinister.
She shuddered and pulled her knees to her chest, wrapping her arms about
herself. She closed her eyes, but doubted she would sleep again this
scrunched his eyes closed tightly then opened them as wide as he could.
He ran the back of his hand across his face.
He hadn’t gotten much sleep last night.
He glanced at Sakura – she didn’t look as though she’d had much
sleep either. She’d hardly said a
word to him on their walk to school that morning.
saw her back stiffen as she stifled a yawn.
She turned to meet his eyes briefly.
She looked so worried.
she have the dream too?>
smiled at her and she smiled back before turning around in her seat again.
and Sakura didn’t move; it was as though they hadn’t heard her.
you sense it?” Li’s eyes were hidden by the shadow of his hair, he raised
his head slightly to meet Eli’s gaze. Eli
is it?” Sakura gripped Li’s hand and he rubbed his thumb along the back of
her hand, offering comfort.
shook his head, “I don’t know, the feeling was very fleeting… but it was
wind picked up, whipping her uniform skirt around her legs and causing even her
braid to sway slightly. Li, Sakura,
and Eli’s hair blew in a flurry around their faces, making her glad she kept
her hair confined. As one the other
three young people tilted their faces in the direction from which the wind came.
Eli and Li narrowed their eyes, as though searching for something at a
great distance; Sakura closed her eyes completely, her brows twitched as she
drew them together in concentration.
Eli and Sakura let out a sigh of relief as Li said what they had all felt.
This, at least, was only normal wind.
something was definitely there earlier.” Sakura said, “And then there was
eyes shot to hers, “I was going to ask you about that.
You had the dream last night?”
nodded, “yes. The one I used to have before, with Clow Reed. Only this
time… he wasn’t there. But…
You were there Li.”
know. I had the dream also.”
Sakura’s eyes widened at this statement.
looked troubled by this proclamation, “This cannot be good.
Shared dreams often foreshadow great evils.”
guys.” The three turned to look at the gray haired girl who interrupted them.
Madison. How long have you been standing
here?” Sakura tried to sound normal, but failed.
before the wind. I tried to talk to you, but you didn’t hear me.”
Eli wrapped an arm around her shoulder.
what’s wrong?” She looked from
Sakura to Li (both of whom avoided her gaze) and then to Eli.
Eli held her gaze, but said nothing.
She was shocked at the depth of concern she saw there.
“You can’t pretend nothing is wrong.
I’ve always been a part of this, I can handle it.
aren’t really sure.” Li said quietly. “And
that’s what frightens us.”
when did it happen? What did you sense?” Li
seemed disinclined to answer that one, so
He spoke her name as a gentle command.
sighed and shifted uneasily, tucking a strand of hair behind her right ear.
“During third period. And
nothing happened really, it was just… I felt as though something evil had
entered the room and was watching us. Then
it was gone, before I could really get a lock on it.
Li felt the same thing.”
it a card?”
Eli’s hair fell in his eyes as he made a negative motion, “Void was
definitely the last Clow Card.”
Sakura spoke quietly, almost as though speaking to herself, “It felt so
agreed with her, but Eli hadn’t felt anything familiar at all.
if Eli didn’t recognize it, it must not be Clow magic. Right?”
Li couldn’t argue with
is the question, isn’t it?”