Dark Reflections

Chapter 6: Time Card

          It had been almost a week since the sandstorm and for the most part life had been very normal.

          For the most part.

          For the other part it had been very strange. Most days it was still extremely hot.  And one day they had had a full out blizzard.  It had been strange.  Disturbing.

          Sakura and Li had continued to have shared dreams, both in the garden and on the tower.  They had taken to coming to school early and meeting with Eli and Ms. Mackenzie to speak about them.

          The feeling of foreboding would not leave them.  It haunted them, stalked them, clung to them.  But nothing overtly malicious had happened since the sand storm.

          It was… unnerving.

          Waiting for the enemy to make a move.  Unable to take any action, or even to identify the enemy.

          This day was much like every other in the last few weeks.  Sakura awoke from another dream to find the day far too hot.  She and Li walked to school where they found Eli waiting.  The three magicians entered the school building headed for their math classroom.  There Ms. Mackenzie was waiting.

          They didn’t really have much to talk about today, and they ended up lapsing into silence, all thinking about the strange occurrences.  All too soon the first students entered the room, startling them out of their thoughts.  Not that it mattered, they weren’t getting very far.

          The three teens rose and separated, heading for their first class. Today Li and Sakura had Japanese first.  Li made a face at the thought.  He liked math much better.

          Almost everyone was in their seats when Li and Sakura entered the room.  They slid into their empty desks, glancing around for Meilin.

          She wasn’t there yet.

          Sakura looked at Li in question and he shrugged.  He wasn’t her keeper.

          By the end of class she still hadn’t made an appearance.

          <I wonder where she is> Sakura thought.

          “I haven’t sensed anything.” Li told her reassuringly, placing a hand on her shoulder.  Sakura smiled; he always seemed to know what she was thinking.

          “So you think she’s alright?” her eyes were wide with concern.

          “Sure.” He told her, “she probably just overslept again.” The two teens grinned.  Since her return to Japan Meilin had been… less than punctual. 

          “I almost didn’t get up on time myself.” Sakura admitted.  She had never been an early riser, and now that she was coming to school early it was hard on her.

          Li grinned and brushed a hand across her flushed cheek, “Is that why you had one sock over your shoe when I got there?” he asked, giving a light laugh.

          Sakura blushed even redder.  She pushed his hand away, “Tory doesn’t have classes today, so I had to make my own breakfast.  I was in a rush!” she defended.

          Li’s smile softened.  He loved the way she sounded so indignant, he loved the way she blushed, and the way her hand had felt when it pushed his away.  Hang it! He loved everything about her!  He frowned - they still hadn’t had that talk.

          “Anyway.  I fixed it right away!” She continued, not noticing Li’s admiring stare.  She looked at him, waiting for an answer and suddenly realized he was just staring at her.

          “What?” she asked quietly, nervously.

          “You’re beautiful.” He said softly.

          She blushed again, “You’re just saying that.”

          “No, really.” He insisted, “I don’t know why some guy didn’t snatch you up while I was in Hong Kong.”

          She shifted uncertainly, “Well, I was taken.” She responded.

          His eyes met hers, “You were?” she swallowed.  Why had he said it like that, as though he didn’t know full well he held her heart? 

          “Yes.  Wasn’t I?” she turned it around on him, suddenly needing to know how he felt for sure.

          “I hoped you were.” He said seriously, never breaking eye contact. “Are you taken now?”

          “I-I think so.” She stuttered.  The way he was looking at her, she could hardly think.

          “Don’t you know?” he brushed his hand against her face once more.

          “Well, he… he hasn’t said anything.  I think he still wants me though…” he had to strain to hear her as she ducked her head and her voice trailed off.

          “He’d be a fool not to.” She could feel his breath on her face and she closed her eyes with a sigh.  Why were they talking like this?  As if the man who had stolen her heart was some third party instead of the man before her. With a burst of courage she brought her gaze back up to his.

          “So are you?” she asked.

          He blinked, “Am I what?”

          “A fool.” She searched his eyes.

          “I hope not.” He said firmly, “Sakura I,” he paused searching for words.  “Are we, do you, I mean,” she was waiting, looking at him so expectantly, with so much hope it set his heart racing.  He took a deep breath, “Will you be my girlfriend?” he blurted unceremoniously.

          She blinked and then laughed.

          He frowned, “What’s so funny?”

          “I’m sorry.” She wiped the water from the corners of her eyes.  “It just seems so strange after all these years…  Why didn’t we do this before? It would have saved us so much uncertainty and discomfort.”

          Li growled, “Just answer the question Sakura.”

          She smiled looking intently into his eyes. “Yes, Li Showrun, I will most definitely be your girlfriend.” She wrapped her arms around his neck.

          “I love you Sakura,” he sighed, resting his cheek on top of her head.

          “I love you too Li.”

          Thinking back it really had been silly.  They should have had this conversation the first day he got back from Hong Kong.  Instead they had avoided it, both being too afraid to say anything.  They had lost so much precious time because of their foolish insecurities.

          “Ahem!” a throat cleared behind them. “So are you two coming to chemistry or don’t you need it?” Eli asked.

          Li and Sakura pulled away from one another slowly, reluctantly.

          “We’re coming.” Li growled.

          “Now, now, my cute little descendant, don’t be angry with me.  I just saved you from detention.”

          With a yelp of realization Sakura jumped into action.  Grabbing Li’s hand she raced toward their next class. Eli followed behind. They really were going to be late!


            Sakura sat beneath the large tree in the courtyard with her friends.  Absently she traced Li’s fingers with the pointer finger of her right hand.  It felt really good to have that freedom.  She gave him a goofy grin and he returned it, squeezing her hand briefly before allowing her to trace his fingers once more.  Madison had thought this was really cute, and had tried to videotape it (much to Sakura’s distress), but Eli had come to the rescue.  Now Madison was sitting snug in her boyfriend’s arms, blissfully unaware of what the other couple was even doing.  All in all it was a perfect lunch period.

            “I wonder what happened to Meilin.” Madison mused, half to herself.

            Li looked up at her, a little startled, he hadn’t thought about Meilin since first period.  They didn’t have any other classes together before lunch today.

            “She wasn’t in last period with you?” He asked.  That wasn’t like Meilin.  Missing one period? Sure.  But three? Never!

            “Nope.” Madison turned to look at him. “Worried?” she teased.

            He sat back, forcing himself to relax.  He gave a carefree, lopsided grin, “Naw. She’s a big girl.” He drawled.

            Sakura giggled, “Nice try. We know you’re concerned.” She rested her hand on his chest, “And that’s okay.” She smiled warmly.

            Li snorted lightly, “I meant it.” He teased.

            Sakura gave him a light shove, “Right.” She rolled her eyes. “Boys.” She said, as though that explained everything.

            “You are so right, Sakura.” Madison nodded.  “I don’t know what’s wrong with them.”

            “I’m hurt.” Eli pretended to pout and Madison swatted him.

            “And you my dear are the worst of all boys.” She accused him, punctuating her comment with a tap on his nose.   

            “Oh, am I?” he asked playfully.

            “Yes.” She gave an even more decisive nod than before and launched into a list of his ‘boyness’ habits and incidents that clearly proved that he was the worst boy ever.  Eli and the others just smiled as they listened.


          Meilin almost cursed as she took the corner too fast and nearly fell flat on her face.  Why was there sand on that corner anyway?  There wasn’t a sandbox for blocks!  She growled.

          It wasn’t really the sidewalk’s fault of course.  She was just irritable because she was so late.  She could have sworn she set her alarm the night before, and she didn’t remember turning it off. Nevertheless here it was, shortly after one in the afternoon and she was just now on her way.

          “I can’t believe this!” she cried in frustration just before crashing into someone.  The someone grunted at the impact, but remained standing - even reaching out a hand to steady her.  She glowered, “Why don’t you watch where you’re going?” she snapped.

          “I thought I was. But then, you probably thought you were too.  What race did you enter gaki?” That voice was too familiar.  Meilin’s head jerked up and she found herself staring straight into the eyes of one Avalon Tory.

          “Ohhh!” she groaned.  As if this day wasn’t bad enough.

          “Gee thanks, and after I just saved you from being a pancake.” He gestured to the busy intersection behind him. True enough, she hadn’t even noticed it, she probably would have walked straight into the traffic if he hadn’t gotten in the way.

          “You could have just said something.” She gave him a trademark glare.

          He laughed, “I did Rae, but you just kept on walking.  Would you rather I had let you walk into traffic?”  He eyed her suspiciously, “Hey, what are you doing out of school anyway?”

          “I’m late.” She snapped.

          He laughed again – that was really starting to bother her, “I noticed.” He said dryly.

          “Look,” she resisted the urge to stamp her foot in frustration; instead she swiped a hand over her face, tossing back her twin ponytails. “Did you want something,” she glared steadily at him, “or were you just gonna stand there and laugh at me?”

          Now he was glaring as well <ungrateful little> he cut the thought off.  She was one of Sakura’s friends after all, and he had made a promise. “A ‘thank you’ would be nice.” He said pointedly.

          “Thank you.” She replied shortly; she didn’t sound very grateful, “now will you please move!?”

          His eyes widened, he hadn’t expected her to say please.  Maybe there was more to her than he thought.  He leaned forward slightly to catch her eye.

          “What are you doing?” she leaned back just a bit.

          “Nothing.” He pulled away, allowing her to stand normally again.  He made a sudden decision to change his attitude toward her.  Something in her eyes told him that she was having a rough day.  She wasn’t being snappish because she hated him or because she was ungrateful, she was just frustrated in general and he was a convenient person to take it out on.

          He studied her a few moments more and she tapped a foot impatiently. “I’m walking you to school.” He announced.

          “What?!” Meilin turned her glare on full force, but he ignored it. “Look, Avalon, I don’t need a babysitter or an escort so you can just go home!”

          “Nothing doing Rae, after what you nearly did?  Sakura would kill me if I let one of her friends kill herself.  And I don’t even want to think about what Li would do to me if I let his favorite cousin die.” Tory gave a mock shudder.  As if he was afraid of that gaki!

          Meilin was a little surprised.  Since when did Tory Avalon care what Li thought? And when did he start calling him by his first name?  She paused.  Maybe she was being a little unreasonable.  He was just trying to help.  She let out a sigh. “Fine.” She said, “You win.  Let’s go.”

          Tory smiled as he stepped aside and let her lead the way.  Well that was progress.  Wouldn’t Sakura and Julian be proud?   


          Madison was still going on about Eli; he was one boyish boy evidently!  “…and then there was the time that you - hey,” Madison stopped, noticing the far off looks on her friends’ faces. “Are you even listening to me?” she demanded.  No one answered her. “Hey!” She snapped her fingers in Eli’s face.  He jumped.  “What’s wrong with you all?” she asked.

          Now Sakura and Li roused as well.  They looked at each other uncertainly, then stood as one.

          “We have to go.” Sakura said hastily.  “Tell Ms. Mackenzie we’re going to the tower.  She’ll understand.”

          “But Sakura” Madison started to rise as well, but both her words and her movement were stopped by Eli.

          “Let them go.” He said softly, pleading with his eyes.  “Please.” He whispered.  Madison nodded and sank back down, confused.

          To tell the truth Eli was a bit confused himself.  They had all sensed something, but he didn’t know what it was.  He only knew that Sakura and Li needed to go, and he and Madison couldn’t follow them.

          “Hey!” A girl with pigtails smiled as she walked past them.  It was Chelsea with Zach in tow.  Rita and Nikki followed behind giggling about something.  These were their other friends, often all nine teens would eat together.  But today Chelsea, Zach, Rita, and Nikki had had a drama project to work on.  Evidently Zach was a terrible actor.  Ironic considering all the lies he had told in elementary.  But then Eli had heard that after he left Zach had never been the same.  Evidently he missed his partner in crime.

          “You gonna come inside with us?  It’s almost time for class.” Chelsea continued.  The nine friends all had math together, and today it was their next period.

          “It’s gonna be so much fun.” Zack didn’t sound too thrilled.

          “You know you love Ms. Mackenzie!” Chelsea scolded her boyfriend.

          “Yep!” he smiled and they all sweat dropped at his sudden change in attitude.

          “Umm,” Chelsea stared at him in astonishment, “Anyway, you guys coming?”

          Eli smiled, but waved her away, “We’ll be there in a few moments Chelsea.  See you guys in class.” They waved as they walked away.

          “Um, Eli,” Madison looked at him in question.  "Why aren’t we going now?”

           “Just a feeling.” He said mysteriously.


          Julian had an odd feeling.  Well, to be more accurate, Yue had an odd feeling.  It was as though the world was on the verge of some major event, teetering on the edge of a cliff.  He wasn’t really sure what to do about it though and so he was wandering.

          Looking up he realized that he was in a familiar area.  This was near the Avalons' house.  Sakura wouldn’t be there, but maybe…

          As he approached the house something small and yellow darted by.  Out of reflex he stuck out his hand, catching it.

          “Why you!” Kero was yelling angrily, forgetting that he didn’t know who had caught him and he was supposed to be a toy.

          “What are you doing outside?” Julian asked him, in shock.

          “Julian!” Kero lost his anger suddenly. “Just the man I wanted to see!  Quick, I need to talk to Yue.”

          Julian just stared down at the yellow stuffed bear sitting on his open palm.

          “Well, what are you doing?” Kero was getting impatient.  “Change already!”

          “Out here?” Julian asked, incredulous.

          “Yes, no, I don’t know!” Kero sputtered. “Somewhere. Come on, Sakura’s in trouble!”

          That got Julian’s attention.  “You know that?” he asked.

          “Well, no,” he said, “but I sense it. Don’t you?” He eyed the gray haired boy.

          Julian thought about this question, about the strange feeling he had had all day, “Yeah, I guess I do…”

          “Well, then, lets get moving!” Kero yelled.

          “I can’t go wandering around Tomoeda as Yue, Kero.  We’ll have to go this way for the time being.”  Kero grudgingly agreed. But he couldn’t resist one final comment as Julian walked away still holding the bear.

          “You better be quick four eyes.”


          After a few minutes of waiting Eli rose, drawing Madison up with him. “I guess it was nothing.” He said calmly, “let’s go inside.”

          When they reached the classroom there were still very few students inside, though many had now gathered in the halls.  They were clinging to their last moments of freedom before class started.

          Zach and the girls were in the back corner talking about something, and a few students stood near their desks.  Ms. Mackenzie, however, was no where to be seen.

          “What’s this?” Madison walked over to her desk, on it was a piece of paper.  “A note?” she studied it, “It’s from Ms. Mackenzie!” Eli peered over her shoulder with interest.  In the math teacher's lovely scrawl it read:

         Children, I must go.  I’m sure Sakura and Li have already left, and I’m not certain about Eli, so I left this note with Madison.  I feel that something is about to happen and I will be needed elsewhere.  Do not worry about me, and be strong.  If troubles besiege you and you cannot escape, head to the shrine.


          “Where do you think she went?”

          Eli shook his head gravely, “I’m not certain, but this cannot be good.  We are all being separated.”

          Before Madison had time to comment Rita looked up and noticed that Madison and Eli had entered the classroom.

          She raised her arm just as an odd light crept over the classroom.  Madison watched in horror as her friend’s arm slowed and then stopped, her mouth was partially open as well, as though she were about to speak.  Soon Madison noticed that everyone in the classroom was frozen.  Except for Eli and herself of course.

          Madison turned to Eli, wide-eyed.  “Eli.” Her voice was a broken whisper, “What happened?”

          Eli looked at her curiously; this wasn’t the first time time had frozen in Tomoeda, didn’t she remember?  Then Eli realized that Madison had never seen the Time card at work because it had always frozen her as well because she had no magic to combat it.  <Why is she still awake?> He wondered, but he pushed the thought aside.  No need to worry her any more than she already had been.

          “Time has frozen.” He informed her.  She stared at him eyes widening even further, mouth gaping.  He tugged her out of her trance.  "Come on, we have to go.He pulled her out of the classroom and down the hall, looking to see the extent of the disturbance.  From the looks of things it covered at least this building.

          “We need to find Sakura.” He told her, coming to an abrupt halt at the end of the main hall.  “Stay close,” as if afraid she wouldn’t obey he gently pulled her up against him and then released her.  Putting his hands before him he summoned his staff.

          “I call upon the powers of the day and the night. Sun and darkness unleash your might. Release!”

          His staff appeared in his hand. With a chant he began a transportation spell.

          Madison suddenly snapped out of her shock, looking around.  At the end of the hall she thought she saw movement.  Why were there people moving?  She made a note to ask Eli about it. Then she squinted, those people, they looked familiar.  Her eyes widened in recognition.  She grabbed Eli’s arm.

          “Eli! Eli stop!” she told him, but it was too late.  The spell had begun to take affect.  In desperation she cried out as they disappeared.



          Tory looked up, startled. 

          “What is it?” Meilin asked quietly.  The school was eerily silent and she was afraid it might shatter if she spoke too loud.

          “I though I heard someone call my name.” he said shaking his head.  There was no one there. Well… no one who was moving anyway.  Still, it had sounded like Madison.

          “Never mind,” he reached for her arm out of instinct and drew her further into the hall. “What’s your next class? Isn’t Sakura in it?”

          Meilin didn’t pull away from his touch.  Somehow it made her feel safe.  It was a reminder that someone was still alive.  She stared at the frozen teens in wonder as they walked through the hall.

          She suddenly remembered that he had asked her a question, “Um, yeah.  She is, it’s math.” She told him.

          “Math,” he sounded thoughtful, “Ms. Mackenzie right?” she nodded.  “Good.”

          She wasn’t really sure what he meant by that, but at least he seemed to know where to go now.  She allowed him to pull her along.

          She didn’t notice they had reached the classroom until she heard him curse loudly.  She drew back a little.

          “Sorry.” He muttered.  “She isn’t here.” He explained at her questioning glance.

          “Oh.” She said weakly.

          He looked at her curiously. What was with her? She had gotten so quiet.  But then, it must be weird to see all your friends and classmates frozen like that.

          “Let’s go.”  He was about to turn when her hand on his arm stopped him. He followed her gaze.  That was strange. And he didn’t like the look on her face. “Let’s go.” He repeated. She nodded blankly and turned to follow him out of the classroom.

          They left the school in silence, each caught up in their own thoughts.  Meilin was starting to regain some of her spunk, and she shook Tory off her arm, walking briskly in front of him. <What’s wrong with me?> she berated herself < I’m acting like a sick puppy or a lost kid!> She flushed, thinking of how she had let Tory guide her through the school. <Baka!> she accused herself.

          She was startled from her self condemnation by a sudden rattling.  She looked toward the noise.  It was coming from the bike racks.

          Tory and Meilin watched in amazement as the bikes seemed to come alive, rattling against their chains.  The chains began to creak as the bikes reared and lunged angrily toward the young people.

          “I think we should leave now.” Meilin tugged on Tory’s arm.

          “Uh, yeah,” as they took off running Tory glanced over his shoulder one last time and saw that the bikes had broken their chains and were coming after them.

          “We might want to run faster!” Tory urged the girl in front of him.

          “Why?” she snapped.

          “Because they’re right behind us.” He said with infuriating calm.  Meilin threw a glance back over her shoulder and nearly jumped.  Turning back around they ran with all their might.


          Sakura and Li were running now.  The radio tower had never seemed so far away.  They weren’t really sure why they were headed to the tower, it was because of the dreams of course, but they weren’t sure why they needed to go now.  It had just been this feeling of urgency.  Something was going to happen.  Something important.


          The moment time had frozen Julian had transformed into Yue.  There was really no point in remaining in his false form. There was no one awake to fool.

          Kero had transformed as well and now the two guardians raced through the streets of Tomoeda, searching for their mistress.

          “Where is she?” Keroberos asked impatiently.

          “I cannot sense her,” Yue stated impassively, “someone is clearly blocking our way.”

          “All the more reason we must find her!” the lion snapped.

          “I understand your concern Keroberos, but yelling will not help.” The moon guardian was calm as ever.  He had a serene, ethereal quality to his countenance, as though he were an ice sculpture rather than a living, breathing being. 

          Keroberos, on the other hand, was a spit fire.  All emotion and action, very little thought.

          They were, in short, the perfect team. 

          Clow Reed had intended them to balance one another.  This did not mean, however, that they always got along. Indeed, they were much like children, and without their mistress they would soon drive one another to distraction.

          “Why are you always so CALM!? Sakura is in danger and we can’t find her!” the guardian beast roared.  Yue chose simply to ignore him.  That was the best way to deal with him sometimes.


          Layla Mackenzie brushed her long red hair out of her face as she arrived at the University.  She dearly hoped Aiden Avalon was here today and not out somewhere doing research.  For all she knew he was on a dig.  She sighed. <What am I doing here?> she questioned herself.  But she already knew the answer; she had felt called, drawn to this spot.  This was where she was meant to be whether Aiden Avalon was here or not.  

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