3: An Unexpected Arrival
had just ended and four friends were hanging out in the park.
Two girls, one with auburn hair the other with dark grayish hair, sat on
the swings. Leaning against the
swing set were their companions, a boy with black hair so pure it was almost
blue in the light, and a boy with brown hair and stunning amber eyes.
moved as a group of children came up to the swings.
They hadn’t been swinging anyways, just talking.
they sat beneath a large tree the girl with auburn hair laughed, her emerald
eyes sparkling brilliantly. The amber eyed boy grabbed her waist lightly and
more laughter was heard. The other
two teens smiled at the scene.
seemed like a perfectly normal day.
nothing was normal about it. If one
really knew the four teens he would wonder how they could be laughing when a day
before they had felt evil in the wind. Had they forgotten so quickly?
stop it!” Sakura made a half hearted attempt to get away.
doin’ Saku.” He lifted her from the ground and twirled her around rapidly.
She wasn’t unhappy with him.
smiled and stopped spinning causing them to fall to the ground dizzily.
They leaned against one another smiling.
Showrun, she’ll hurt you.” Eli smiled as he wrapped an arm around his own
girlfriend. It was good to be
isn’t this a touching scene.” An amused voice sounded behind them.
They all paused, that voice was familiar… very familiar.
No hello?” they could almost hear her smirk, “I expected more from you.”
She made a loud tsking sound.
Sakura bounced up happily turning to hug the other girl.
The others turned as well.
was the same old Meilin: long black hair still in it’s twin girlish ponytails
high atop her head, brown eyes sparkling with a fire matched only by her hot
temper and fierce loyalty, she was wearing a red baby T and white denim shorts,
and, of course, a wonderful smirk!
Sakura! Did you miss me?” She returned Sakura’s hug and then pulled back
with a laugh, “What am I saying, of course
you missed me. Who wouldn’t?
Right Li?” she eyed him slyly.
Meilin.” He too stood and gave her a hug.
“I thought you were in Beijing?” He said with a small frown.
anymore!” She said brightly.
obviously.” Li rolled his eyes, his smile returning.
Li.” She gave him a light shove, “You’d better keep your man in line
Avalon.” She said with mock severity.
Her eyes sparkled, “And yes, I was in Beijing.
But Dad didn’t need me anymore, and Wei said you had returned to
Tomoeda sooo…” she smiled brilliantly, “You didn’t honestly expect me to
sit at home in the boring old Li mansion knowing all of you were here did
smiled, “How long are you staying Meilin?”
dunno.” She shrugged carelessly. Then she grinned at Li, “As long as Li does
groaned. And everyone laughed.
is great!” Sakura stuck her arm through Meilin’s. “Hey! I know! Why
don’t you all come to my house for dinner tonight? I’m sure dad won’t
mind. I’m cooking anyway.”
agreed and she quickly made a phone call. It
evidently went well because when she hung up she was very happy.
This would be just like old times.
Tory dropped his notes on the coffee table and headed into the kitchen.
You want anything?” He called back to his best friend.
Julian’s customary smile was in place, his eyes almost closed. “Anything
you’ve got, thank you.”
Julian heard Tory moving things in the kitchen.
The fridge door closed and then, “Aww!” Julian blinked in surprise as
he heard his best friend swear.
“You okay in
there?” he asked uncertainly moving toward the kitchen.
He had just reached the entrance when he was forced to move back quickly. Well, he didn’t have to move back. He could have let Tory trample him. I think he made a wise choice don’t you?
this! Just look at this!” Tory waved a piece of paper in Julian’s face.
another step back and pushed his glasses up, laughing nervously.
“I would Tory, but um… it’s a little close.”
dropped his hand to his side. Julian
leaned in trying to see the note.
queried, “what does it say.”
having some friends over for dinner.” Tory groused.
great!” Julian’s smile faded as Tory shot him a glare, “Or not.”
not.” Tory nodded sharply, “That Li brat is coming over.
He’s been here almost every night since he got back to Japan.”
And that’s bad.” Julian looked at Tory with genuine curiosity. He didn’t really know Li, but he’d always struck him as a
good kid. Yue seemed fond of the
it’s bad!” Tory yelled, causing Julian to blink once more. Tory stormed over
to the sofa and began shuffling his notes, not really paying attention.
approached him, sitting near him and trying to catch his gaze.
“I don’t get it. He
seems like a nice guy to me. I
mean, granted I haven’t seen him in a few years, but...” he trailed off,
“What’s your problem with him?”
shot up, his eyes wide with disbelief. “Uh, he tried to beat up my sister!”
one time.” Julian reminded him.
his arms and looked away, “Yeah, well, first impressions are lasting.”
his head, “Uh uh. I don’t think that’s it at all.”
Tory tensed and
turned to face him once more. “Oh,” he raised a brow, trying to look
superior and disinterested, but failing miserable. “And what do you
think my problem is?”
considered this for a moment, “I’m not sure.” He finally said, “but it
definitely isn’t that.”
Tory rolled his
eyes, “Whatever.” He reached for his psychology notes and couldn’t find
them, “Now where did I put those-”
the desired notes up off the corner of the table, and out from underneath a
book, where Tory had placed them in his agitated fit or reorganization, and
handed them to his best friend.
them from him, not meeting his eyes, “Uh, thanks.”
cheerfully as she walked around the kitchen.
Her hair was pulled back and she was wearing a pink, frilly, apron over
her green dress. The dress was new;
Madison had made it for her and had given it to her this afternoon.
Green was Li’s favorite color. She
was trying to make cake for dessert, but it was hard to stay focused.
She wiped the back of a hand against her sweaty face, leaving flour on
It was awfully
hot for autumn. She wondered if she should open a window.
Maybe it was the heat from the oven.
squirt?” Tory leaned against the doorway with his arms crossed over his chest,
and his ankles crossed at the base. He
She smiled as she breezed by him headed for the cupboard.
On her way back she trod on his foot.
“And I am not a squirt.”
She said brightly.
<that hurt> and then smiled again. “So,
the Chinese gaki is coming over for dinner again?” He asked casually.
but didn’t look up from her mixing. “He’s
not a gaki Tory. He’s my
boyfriend,” <is he?> the thought nagged, but she pushed it away, right
now she had to deal with Tory or Li would never
be her boyfriend, “and sooner or later you’re just going to have to accept
“I know. And… I wanted to apologize.” He grimaced, there, he’d said it.
That ought to make Julian proud.
gave up and she blinked in surprise. “Really
eyes proved he was serious. He and
Julian had had a long talk about this after their study session that afternoon.
He’d decided that Julian was right, he had no real reason to dislike
Li. His eyes narrowed as he
observed his sister – yet. But if
that gaki hurt his Sakura…
lightly and pushed himself off the door frame, approaching his sister.
His smile widened as he saw the flour on her face.
Reaching out he wiped it away gently. Her eyes flew to his, “But he had
better take good care of you.” He warned softly.
and took his hand in hers, squeezing it gently before dropping it.
She turned back to her cooking and he turned back toward the living room.
Sakura,” he stopped in the entry way, “who else is coming?”
“Madison, Eli,” she paused, anticipating his reaction to the last name,
His shout reverberated through the house.
Sakura answered cheerfully, as if he had not just attempted to bring the whole
house down on their heads.
Tory drew in a
breath, attempting to calm himself. “That girl is annoying.” He muttered,
leaving the room.
It would be an interesting evening - if they all survived.
As it turned
out they all did survive, though Meilin and Tory exchanged smart remarks all
evening. As they left Tory
couldn’t resist one final remark.
“That girl is
annoying.” He muttered under his breath.
him on the shoulder, “Yeah, she kinda reminds me of you.” Julian smiled
Julian.” Tory managed to grind out before literally pushing his best friend
out the door and slamming it behind him. Okay,
so maybe he didn’t slam it, but he closed it firmly.
He went to the
kitchen and started cleaning up.
and stopped in surprise. “What
are you doing Tory? I’ll clean it up.”
Tory looked up
from the dishes he was washing. “Nah, I can do it.”
were my friends.”
“Look, if you want to stay and help, go ahead. But it’s fine.”
uncertain. Slowly she started
putting left over food away. Tory observed her out of the corner of his eye as
he continued washing pans.
tried to sound nonchalant, “I think it went well tonight.”
She laughed, “I especially liked the part where you told Meilin she looked
nice… for a goat!”
laughed and turned to face her, leaning against the sink. “You liked that
huh?” Sparkling eyes met
huh.” Mirth spilled from Sakura’s every movement. “Tory, you are such a
huh?” he pushed off from the sink and came towards her slowly, as though
She gave a pert nod. He simply held
her gaze and came closer, “Um, Tory, what are you doing?” She backed up
until she hit the wall. He grinned.
“Tory?” she squealed.
grabbed her, tickling her. She
squirmed to get away. Finally succeeding she grabbed a spoon and flailed it at
back you!” she commanded.
he chased her. She dropped the spoon with a yelp and ran into the living
room. He followed.
can’t escape me squirt!”
Aiden came out they were in the middle of a full on pillow fight.
Aiden stared wide-eyed before shaking his head and returning to his
kids were definitely strange.
practically skipped into the classroom. Today
would be Meilin’s first day in
school! If only they didn’t have math first today everything would be perfect.
Sakura still hated math; she really wasn’t very good at it.
The only teacher who had ever been able to make it understandable to her
Mackenzie!” She gasped, coming to an abrupt halt.
red headed woman smiled brightly at Sakura. “Hello Sakura. You remembered
just blinked at her, her mind fumbling, trying to sort out what she saw.
Here was the teacher she had just been thinking about right before her
eyes, but Ms. Mackenzie was gone, right? She
had left when the ordeal with the cards was over.
Suddenly Sakura realized Ms. Mackenzie was staring at her.
What had she just said? Oh
yeah, “Um, of course I remember you!” Sakura said cheerily.
Then she ducked her head and turned to her seat.
As she slid into it Li tried to make eye contact, but she was too
it awesome?” Madison smiled as she stopped at Sakura’s desk.
“Meilin and Ms. Mackenzie are back! It’s just like old
A deep and troubled voice sounded behind her.
she turned around to give the young man a kiss on the cheek. “Hello Eli.”
She pulled back and noticed his frown, “What’s wrong?”
just… find it odd, that’s all.” He held Li’s eyes as he spoke.
Li looked equally worried.
odd?” Meilin approached the group with curiosity.
you think it’s strange that we’re all back together again?” He asked,
lowering his voice and casting a furtive glance at Ms. Mackenzie.
laughed, “Oh, Eli, you worry too much.”
guess you’re right.” Eli smiled and hugged his girlfriend briefly.
But his eyes, locked with Li’s, were still filled with concern.
cleared his throat in warning (as he was the only one able to see Ms. Mackenzie
clearly) and they all hurried to their seats.
Madison and Meilin still chattering happily, Eli still a little moody,
and Sakura turned to meet Li’s gaze. They
stared at each other uncertainly. It
really was too much of a coincidence.
Meilin linked her arm through Madison’s, “Our mystical brethren seem a
little out of it. Li will hardly
talk to me. What’s up?”
cast a glance behind them at their three lagging companions, she spoke quietly,
“They sensed something a few days ago. Something
evil. I think Sakura had the dream
again too, and Ms. Mackenzie showing up has reminded them of it all over again.
It’s all a little weird, you know?”
nodded, “Yeah, I guess. But
it’s probably nothing.” She pushed her bangs up off her sweaty forehead and
cast a glance at the sky. Not a
cloud, and it was really hot for autumn. She shrugged <Indian summer?> she
wondered. <In November?>
shiver passed through her and she wrapped her arms around herself. <Wait!
Wasn’t it too hot a second ago?>
are you cold?”
shook her head, “No, why?”
Meilin turned and saw her other three friends staring at her.
They knew something was up. Did
that mean it was magic? She shook
herself. No, they were probably just wondering why she was hugging
herself on such a warm day. She
forced herself to put her arms down.
she jumped, Madison hardly ever raised her voice.
she blinked in confusion. Madison
was staring at her arm. The gray
haired girl reached out a hand, almost touching her.
got goose bumps. But it’s so warm.” Her voice trailed off in confusion.
umm, nothing.” Madison cast a glance behind her.
Li was looking very suspicious. She
laughed lightly, “I’m just adjusting to the difference between Beijing and
Japan. That’s all.” She sweat dropped nervously.
Madison wasn’t buying it, she could tell. And why should she?
Like anywhere could be warmer than it was right now in Tomoeda.
Madison nodded and Meilin shot her a grateful smile.
She didn’t want to worry her friends.
walked in silence for a few moments and then Madison gripped Meilin’s arm.
Meilin yanked her arm away, “What was that for Taylor!?” Madison didn’t
answer. Meilin looked at her in
question and noticed that her friend was staring at the ground. “What is-”
she looked down as well. “WHAT THE!?”
ground was covered in swirling fog.
it’s so hot.” Madison murmured, as though speaking to herself.
“There shouldn’t be fog.”
right there shouldn’t.” Meilin stamped her foot angrily causing Madison to
look up. What she saw made her pull
back. Meilin was fuming.
she asked in concern.
stomped back to her cousin and other two friends.
“Alright! What the HECK is going on?”
The three of them looked at each other with concern.
Meilin put her hands on her hips and spread her feet to get a better
stance. She wasn’t going
anywhere. “Somebody had better
sighed, she was his annoying cousin after all.
“We don’t know Mei.” He said quietly.
are they Clow cards?” She demanded angrily.
Eli said firmly. “Void was the last, you know that.”
what is it? Because fog on a hot day is soooo not normal.”
is magic.” Sakura said, looking at the swirling fog, “But I’m not
sure…” her voice trailed off uncertainly, “it’s so familiar…”
studied the three magicians for a moment, thinking.
“Well, when you figure it out you had better tell me.” Her tone
implied a threat. “Stupid fog.” She turned and walked away, and was
immediately swallowed in the rising fog.
Li reached for her, but he couldn’t see her, and she didn’t answer.
Eli couldn’t see his girlfriend either. The
fog was too thick.
going on Eli?” At least they could hear Madison.
Li held out his hand, “grab my hand, don’t let go.”
He felt a hand take his and someone moved closer to him.
He could feel Sakura’s aura, but he couldn’t see her.
what is this? It seems like the
Mist, but it can’t be…” he knew she was referring to the card stowed
safely in her pack.
squeezed her hand reassuringly, “It’ll be alright.”
where is Madison? And Meilin?” Her voice was strained.
“It’s alright.” He said again, pulling her closer. Funny, she was pressed up against him and he still couldn’t see her. How thick was this fog?
as suddenly as it had come, the fog cleared.
sighed in relief as he saw Madison and Meilin standing a short distance away.
Fortunately no one had tried to walk around in the fog, though Sakura was
clinging tightly to Li.
chuckled, adjusting his glasses, “I was beginning to wonder how we would get
home in the fog.”
blushed as she realized how close she was to Li, and took a step back.
It might have been her imagination, but she thought Li looked vaguely
eyed Meilin with growing anger and released Sakura’s hand, storming toward his
didn’t you answer me?” he asked angrily, “I was worried about you!”
She still didn’t answer and he shook her by her shoulders.
turned to look at him now and opened her mouth, but no sound came out.
Silent?” Sakura asked, coming up behind him. He made no response.
he asked softly. Her eyes wear shimmering, as if she were going to cry.
“It’s okay Meilin, I’m sorry I yelled.” He pulled her into a hug.
she whispered. Li pulled back.
nodded, “I was so scared Li, I couldn’t answer you, and then, I couldn’t
hear you anymore either. And I couldn’t see because of the fog. I didn’t know what to do.”
She pulled back. Now that she was normal she felt so silly for being
“It’s okay Meilin. I would’ve been scared too.” He smiled at her, reassuringly. But when he turned to look at Eli and Sakura his eyes were clouded with doubt. What was going on?