Dark Reflections

CHAPTER 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…  

          Madison was saying goodbye now.  It was just her and Li. <I should thank him>

           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 blushed.

          “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 all right. Madison told me that when the person you love is happy, you should be happy, too. I ought to be happy that he's happy.”

          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 needed someone…

          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.>

A hand touched her from behind, pulling her away from her thoughts, as a familiar voice spoke her name.


She smiled and reached up to take the hand now resting lightly on her shoulder.  She laid her cheek on it. “Hmm?”

Li smiled, “What were you thinking about?”


He laughed softly, “No, really.  What was it?”

“You, 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 question.

Li 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.”

 Sakura 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.

 “Hm?  Who was right?”

 “Julian.  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.”

 Li’s hand tightened on hers, “A good thing?” he asked uncertainly.

 She 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.”

 Li smiled gently, “Then I guess it was a good thing after all.” He pulled her into his arms.

 “Sakura! Li!”

 They pulled back to see a grinning Madison with Eli in tow.

 Eli grinned slyly, “And without any encouragement.  I’m so proud, Li.”

 Li grit his teeth; that smile really bugged him.

 Sakura smiled, “Hi Madison!  Eli!  What are you two doing here?”

 “Oh, you know, just hanging out.   What are you doing here?” Madison eyed them knowingly.  Sakura didn’t notice.

 “Just checking out the park.  Want to join us?”  Neither girl noticed Li’s fallen face.


 “Great!” Sakura linked arms with Madison and began walking, chattering excitedly about all the things the four of them could do together – just like old times.

 Li 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.

 “What?” he snapped.

 Eli eyed him with an oddly sympathetic expression, “I’m sorry.  I really didn’t know you two were here.”

 Li shrugged, it wasn’t Eli’s fault after all.  The two men hurried to catch up with their girlfriends.

 Sakura 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 place.

 The 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.

 At 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>

 Sakura 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 Madison every day of the last four years.  But she hadn’t seen Li.  She turned to look at him and he smiled at her.  He was being such a good sport.  She glanced sideways at Madison .  Maybe she could find a way to get away later.


“Li,” Eli couldn’t keep this up any longer. 

Li barely glanced at him.

“Maybe I should go talk to Madison .  You and Sakura should have this time alone.”  He started to move toward the girls, but Li reached out a hand to stop him.

“Don’t.” he gave a small, but sincere smile, “they’re enjoying themselves.  Let’s not ruin it for them.”

Eli looked uncertain, but he gave in with a shrug, “have it your way, descendant.Li rolled his eyes, but didn’t make a retort.

For a few moments they walked in silence.

“Hey, Eli?”

Eli looked up, surprised, “Yes?”

Li 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.

Eli 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.


 “So, how about it?” Madison looked expectantly at Sakura.  They were sitting on the grass beneath a large tree; the boys had taken a seat a short distance away so they wouldn’t put a damper on the girls’ conversation.  Except that right now they weren’t really conversing.  “Sakura?” she waved a hand in front of Sakura’s face.  “Hey!” She snapped her fingers as she raised her voice slightly.

 Sakura jumped, “Hmm? Oh sorry.” She ducked her head sheepishly when she met Madison ’s expectant eyes.

  Madison smiled warmly, hugging her best friend.  “It’s okay.  I can see you’re thinking.”

 “I’m so sorry Madison .  I guess I got distracted.  What did you want?”

 Madison twisted a piece of grass between her fingers, “I asked if you thought you and Li would like to come to my house for dinner.”

 “Um,” 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 Madison .”

  Madison ’s eyes widened innocently, “Why not?”

 “Well, 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.

  Madison ’s gaze followed Sakura’s.  Her eyes widened briefly and then she clapped a hand over her mouth.  “Oh, Sakura!  I’m so sorry.  Why didn’t you say something?”

 “Well, I” Sakura shrugged.

 “I 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.

 Eli was confused, “We do? But I-” he glanced down at Li, “Right, I can’t believe I forgot!”

 “What? But you-” Li stopped when Eli glanced meaningfully at Sakura.  “Oh, right.” Li smiled.  <Thank you> he hoped his eyes communicated his gratitude.

 Sakura slowly approached him as their two friends practically ran out of sight. 

 “About time they left.”  Li grinned.

 “Li,” Sakura stopped a few feet from him.  “I’m sorry.”

 Li stretched out a hand toward her.  She took it and he drew her closer, “For what?”

 She rested her head on his chest, and his arms encircled her waist, “For today.  I didn’t mean to but I-”

 “Shh,” 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 left.”

 “Li!” 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.


 She 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?

 Sakura 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.

 The 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.


 Li stared at her for a moment as though trying to decide if she were real.  Then he moved toward her.

 At 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.

 <So evil.  And so powerful> Sakura shuddered.

 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?

 But 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 dream…

 The 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 night.



 Li 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.

 He saw her back stiffen as she stifled a yawn.  She turned to meet his eyes briefly.  She looked so worried.

 <Did she have the dream too?>

 He smiled at her and she smiled back before turning around in her seat again.


 “Hey guys!” Madison smiled brightly as she approached her friends.  “So, how did yesterday go? You know, after Eli and I had to go.” She winked at Sakura, “Did you two have fun?”

 Li and Sakura didn’t move; it was as though they hadn’t heard her.

 “Uh, guys?” Madison was puzzled.  She glanced at Eli who had walked up beside her.  “What’s up with them?”  Eli didn’t answer her either – which made her a little irritated.  She whirled to face him placing her hands on her hips; he just stared at Li and Sakura.  “Hey! Don’t you ignore me!  I asked you a question Eli Moon!”

“Did 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 nodded solemnly.

 “I think so.”

 “What is it?” Sakura gripped Li’s hand and he rubbed his thumb along the back of her hand, offering comfort.

 Eli shook his head, “I don’t know, the feeling was very fleeting… but it was definitely dark.”

  Madison was looking back and forth between her three friends, completely at a loss.  She knew they must be talking about magic – like when they were all chasing the cards – but she had thought they were through with that.  It had been four years. 

 The 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.

 “Nothing.” Eli and Sakura let out a sigh of relief as Li said what they had all felt.  This, at least, was only normal wind.

 “But something was definitely there earlier.” Sakura said, “And then there was the dream.”

 Li’s eyes shot to hers, “I was going to ask you about that.  You had the dream last night?”

 Sakura nodded, “yes.  The one I used to have before, with Clow Reed. Only this time… he wasn’t there.  But… You were there Li.”

 “I know.  I had the dream also.” Sakura’s eyes widened at this statement.


  Eli looked troubled by this proclamation, “This cannot be good.  Shared dreams often foreshadow great evils.” 

 “Um, guys.” The three turned to look at the gray haired girl who interrupted them.

 “Oh, Madison.  How long have you been standing here?” Sakura tried to sound normal, but failed.

 “Since before the wind. I tried to talk to you, but you didn’t hear me.”

 “Sorry.” Eli wrapped an arm around her shoulder.

 “So, 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.  What happened?”

 “We aren’t really sure.” Li said quietly.  “And that’s what frightens us.”

 “But when did it happen?  What did you sense?”  Li seemed disinclined to answer that one, so Madison turned to her boyfriend.  He was looking expectantly at Sakura.

 “Sakura.” He spoke her name as a gentle command.

 Sakura 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.”

 “Is it a card?” Madison asked uncertainly <I thought we caught all of those.  Wasn’t Void...>

 “No,” Eli’s hair fell in his eyes as he made a negative motion, “Void was definitely the last Clow Card.”

 “Still,” Sakura spoke quietly, almost as though speaking to herself, “It felt so familiar.”

 Li agreed with her, but Eli hadn’t felt anything familiar at all.

 “Well, if Eli didn’t recognize it, it must not be Clow magic. Right?”

 “Yeah,” Li couldn’t argue with Madison ’s logic, “But what else could there be that is familiar to both Sakura and myself?”

 “That is the question, isn’t it?”

  Madison clutched Eli’s arm, pondering his almost question.  Something was definitely wrong.

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