Dark Reflections

Chapter 3: An Unexpected Arrival

 School 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.

They moved as a group of children came up to the swings.  They hadn’t been swinging anyways, just talking.

As 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.

It seemed like a perfectly normal day.

Only 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?

“Li, stop it!” Sakura made a half hearted attempt to get away.

“Nothin’ doin’ Saku.” He lifted her from the ground and twirled her around rapidly.

“Liiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!!” She wasn’t unhappy with him.

He smiled and stopped spinning causing them to fall to the ground dizzily.  They leaned against one another smiling.

“Careful Showrun, she’ll hurt you.” Eli smiled as he wrapped an arm around his own girlfriend.  It was good to be together again.

“Well isn’t this a touching scene.” An amused voice sounded behind them.  They all paused, that voice was familiar… very familiar.

“What? No hello?” they could almost hear her smirk, “I expected more from you.” She made a loud tsking sound.

“MIELIN!” Sakura bounced up happily turning to hug the other girl.  The others turned as well.

It 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!

“Hello 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.

“Right Meilin.” He too stood and gave her a hug.  “I thought you were in Beijing?” He said with a small frown.

“Not anymore!” She said brightly.

“Well, obviously.” Li rolled his eyes, his smile returning.

“Oh, 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 BeijingBut 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 you?”

Madison smiled, “How long are you staying Meilin?”

“I dunno.” She shrugged carelessly. Then she grinned at Li, “As long as Li does I guess!”

Li groaned. And everyone laughed.

“This 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.”

They 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.

          “Hey Julian! You want anything?” He called back to his best friend.

          “Sure.” Julian’s customary smile was in place, his eyes almost closed. “Anything you’ve got, thank you.”

          “Kay!” 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?

          “Look at this! Just look at this!” Tory waved a piece of paper in Julian’s face.

          Julian took another step back and pushed his glasses up, laughing nervously.  “I would Tory, but um… it’s a little close.”

          “Oh.” Tory dropped his hand to his side.  Julian leaned in trying to see the note.

          “So,” he queried, “what does it say.”

          “Sakura’s having some friends over for dinner.” Tory groused.

          “That’s great!” Julian’s smile faded as Tory shot him a glare, “Or not.”

          “Definitely not.” Tory nodded sharply, “That Li brat is coming over.  He’s been here almost every night since he got back to Japan.”

          “Oh.  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 boy.

          “You bet 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.

          Julian 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?”

          Tory’s head shot up, his eyes wide with disbelief. “Uh, he tried to beat up my sister!”

          “Only that one time.” Julian reminded him.

          Tory crossed his arms and looked away, “Yeah, well, first impressions are lasting.”

          Julian shook 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?”

          Julian 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-”

          Julian picked 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.

          Tory snatched them from him, not meeting his eyes, “Uh, thanks.” 


          Sakura hummed 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 one cheek.

          It was awfully hot for autumn.  She wondered if she should open a window.  Maybe it was the heat from the oven.

          “Hey, squirt?” Tory leaned against the doorway with his arms crossed over his chest, and his ankles crossed at the base.  He grinned lopsidedly.

          “Hey Tory.” 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.

          Tory winced, <that hurt> and then smiled again.  “So, the Chinese gaki is coming over for dinner again?” He asked casually.

          Sakura frowned, 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 that.”

          Tory sighed, “I know. And… I wanted to apologize.” He grimaced, there, he’d said it.  That ought to make Julian proud.

          Sakura’s head gave up and she blinked in surprise.  “Really Tory?”

          “Yep.” His 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… 

          He smiled 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.

          Sakura smiled 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.

          “Oh, Sakura,” he stopped in the entry way, “who else is coming?”

          Sakura smiled, “Madison, Eli,” she paused, anticipating his reaction to the last name, “Meilin.”

          “WHAT!?” His shout reverberated through the house.

          “Yep.” 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.

          Sakura smiled.  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.

          Julian clapped him on the shoulder, “Yeah, she kinda reminds me of you.” Julian smiled brightly.

          “Go home 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.

          Sakura entered 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.”

          “But, they were my friends.”

          He sighed, “Look, if you want to stay and help, go ahead. But it’s fine.”

          Sakura looked uncertain.  Slowly she started putting left over food away. Tory observed her out of the corner of his eye as he continued washing pans.

          “So,” he tried to sound nonchalant, “I think it went well tonight.”

          “Oh, yeah.” She laughed, “I especially liked the part where you told Meilin she looked nice… for a goat!”  

He laughed and turned to face her, leaning against the sink. “You liked that huh?”  Sparkling eyes met sparkling eyes.

“Uh huh.” Mirth spilled from Sakura’s every movement. “Tory, you are such a freak.”

“Freak huh?” he pushed off from the sink and came towards her slowly, as though stalking her.

“Yes.” 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. 

He grabbed her, tickling her.  She squirmed to get away. Finally succeeding she grabbed a spoon and flailed it at him.

“Back, back you!” she commanded.

Laughing he chased her.  She dropped the spoon with a yelp and ran into the living room. He followed.

“You can’t escape me squirt!”

When 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 study. 

His kids were definitely strange.


Sakura 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 was…

“Ms. Mackenzie!” She gasped, coming to an abrupt halt.

The red headed woman smiled brightly at Sakura. “Hello Sakura. You remembered me!”

Sakura 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 distracted.

“Isn’t it awesome?” Madison smiled as she stopped at Sakura’s desk.  “Meilin and Ms. Mackenzie are back! It’s just like old times!” 

 “Yes.” A deep and troubled voice sounded behind her.

“Oh,” 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?”

“I just… find it odd, that’s all.” He held Li’s eyes as he spoke.  Li looked equally worried.

“What’s odd?” Meilin approached the group with curiosity.

“Don’t 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.

Madison laughed, “Oh, Eli, you worry too much.”

“I guess you’re right.” Eli smiled and hugged his girlfriend briefly.  But his eyes, locked with Li’s, were still filled with concern.

Li 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.


“So,” 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?”

Madison 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?”

Meilin 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?>

A shiver passed through her and she wrapped her arms around herself. <Wait! Wasn’t it too hot a second ago?> 

“Madison, are you cold?”

Madison shook her head, “No, why?”

“Nothing.”  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.

“MEILIN!” she jumped, Madison hardly ever raised her voice.

“Y-yeah?” she blinked in confusion.  Madison was staring at her arm.  The gray haired girl reached out a hand, almost touching her.

“You’ve got goose bumps. But it’s so warm.” Her voice trailed off in confusion.

“It’s, 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.

“Okay.” Madison nodded and Meilin shot her a grateful smile.  She didn’t want to worry her friends.        

They walked in silence for a few moments and then Madison gripped Meilin’s arm.

“Ow!!!” 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!?”

The ground was covered in swirling fog.

“But it’s so hot.” Madison murmured, as though speaking to herself.  “There shouldn’t be fog.”

“Darn right there shouldn’t.” Meilin stamped her foot angrily causing Madison to look up.  What she saw made her pull back.  Meilin was fuming. 

“M-meilin?” she asked in concern.

Meilin 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 start talking!”

Li sighed, she was his annoying cousin after all.  “We don’t know Mei.” He said quietly.

“Well, are they Clow cards?” She demanded angrily.

“No.” Eli said firmly.  “Void was the last, you know that.”

“Then what is it? Because fog on a hot day is soooo not normal.”

“It is magic.” Sakura said, looking at the swirling fog, “But I’m not sure…” her voice trailed off uncertainly, “it’s so familiar…”

Meilin 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.

“Meilin!” Li reached for her, but he couldn’t see her, and she didn’t answer.

“Madison!?” Eli couldn’t see his girlfriend either.  The fog was too thick.

“What’s going on Eli?” At least they could hear Madison.

“Sakura,” 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.

“Li, 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.

He squeezed her hand reassuringly, “It’ll be alright.”

“But 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?

Then, as suddenly as it had come, the fog cleared.

Eli 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. 

He chuckled, adjusting his glasses, “I was beginning to wonder how we would get home in the fog.”

Sakura 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 disappointed.

Li eyed Meilin with growing anger and released Sakura’s hand, storming toward his cousin.

“Why 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.  “MEILIN!”

She turned to look at him now and opened her mouth, but no sound came out.

“The Silent?” Sakura asked, coming up behind him. He made no response.

“Meilin?” 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.

“Li,” she whispered.  Li pulled back.

“You spoke.”

She 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 frightened.

“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?

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