Miho stated calmly, “I came to Japan to find my brother… The brother who left home so many years ago.”
Sakura, Tomoyo, and Syaoran both looked up, surprised.
“Your… brother?” Sakura whispered.
Miho nodded. “I vowed I would find him one day. I don’t know where he is, what kind of hardships and pain he had to face, or if he still wants to see me or even remembers the past… But all I want to do is see him face to face, and know that he is alive and happy.”
Nodding, Kero-chan added, “That’s why Eriol allowed Miho to come by herself. Once she has her mind set to do something, nothing will change it. And she wants to see the Best Couple Contest because tons of people from all over Japan are gathering to visit. And we know that the best way to find someone is go where there’s lotsa people.”
Then, energetically standing up, Miho stated, “I’m going to find him, no matter what, and when I find him, boy wait and see how mad at him I’ll get for leaving me!” She turned around and walked out of the swimming pool before the others could see the tears brimming in her eyes.
“Takashi, all the other people are busy preparing for the contest,” Chiharu said. “Shouldn’t we at least do something?”
Shrugging mildly, Takashi stretched. “Just do it as it comes.”
“Still, I really wanna win this contest… No, even if we don’t win, I want it to be memorable and something I will remember years after… Can’t you be a little more motivated? You’re even worse than Li-kun about it!” Chiharu stared at Syaoran who was grumbling, yet still succumbing to Tomoyo’s wild ideas.
“Hey, did I tell you how the contests originated?” Takashi began.
“I hate it when you make up stories!” Chiharu shouted. “You always never think of what I am thinking; you’re always so selfish and inconsiderate! Take that ridiculous expression off your face! Can’t you ever be sincere about anything? I hate how you never take anything seriously! I hate how you never take me seriously! Most of all, I hate you!” Chiharu stormed off down the beach, throwing a pile of papers into Takashi’s face.
Immediately, Takashi took that ridiculous
expression off his face and frowned. He called, “Wait! Chiharu…” Instead
of following her as was expected, he slumped down on a stone ledge and
sighed. As was expected. Chiharu hated him
Several hours later, it grew completely dark.
“Chiharu-chan hasn’t come back yet?” Rika asked.
“Where did she go?” Sakura asked.
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen her since late afternoon,” Rika replied. “Do you know where she is, Takashi-kun?”
Shrugging, Takashi replied, “How should I know?”
“It’s dangerous for a girl to go out walking by herself in the dark,” Aki commented. “There’s many places one can get lost here.”
“I’ll go look for her,” Sakura offered.
“You shouldn’t go by yourself. I’ll go instead,” Eron said.
Smiling, Sakura said, “We’ll both go then.”
“All right. Here. I’ll go get the flashlights,” Eron went to find batteries and flashlights.
“I’ll go, too,” Syaoran stated.
“It’s all right. The rest of you can stay here and wait. Chiharu might come back,” Sakura said. She entered the house again to grab something to wear over her swimming suit.
“Here, I’ll go instead of you,” Syaoran suggested, following her to her room.
“I told you, it’s okay. Sheesh. Eron and I are just going to look for Chiharu and coming back in no time. I think it was really nice of him to volunteer so fast. What’s the fuss?” Sakura asked.
Well the fuss it, last time I let you walk off alone with that guy, you almost died, falling off a cliff, Syaoran thought with silent venom. He didn’t want to keep secrets from Sakura any longer. There were so many things he was scared of but he knew he must face them someday. Carefully he shut the door behind him. It was time to get things straight and separate out the hard core facts. They were alone in the room. He stated, “Don’t trust Eron so much!”
Stonily, Sakura stated, “Well, I don’t think it’s any of your business in the first place. Why should you care? It almost sounds as if you are jealous.”
“Yes, I am jealous,” Syaoran replied shorty. Then he blurted out, “But that’s not it. Eron should be the last person you should trust, let alone be alone with. This may sound weird and I didn’t tell you for various reasons, but the reason why you should be more careful of both of them is—“
“You don’t have to say it,” Sakura replied quietly. “I know.”
“Eh?” Syaoran stared up, surprised. She knew the truth about Eron and Erika?
“I know why those two should be the last ones to trust. I’ve known from a long time, now,” Sakura said softly.
“W-what?” Syaoran gazed up with grave amber eyes to find that Sakura’s emerald eyes were equally as grave. He sputtered, “Then, how come, why… How come you put up with all of their schemes till now yet acted so friendly? Why aren’t you more cautious and wary of them? How come you’re so trusting?”
“Because they are still only humans before they are my enemies. I want to know the reason why they are doing this. I want to get to know them not as someone to be cautious of and to distance myself from, but as someone who I can discover different sides of. The good and bad sides.” Staring at Syaoran sadly, she asked, “You don’t understand, do you?”
“No I don’t,” Syaoran replied flatly. “Enemies are enemies. You shouldn’t leave a hole for them to attack through. That’s showing weakness and lack of caution.”
Pausing for a moment, then holding out her forefinger, Sakura said enthusiastically, “Let’ think about it this way. Think back to ten years ago, when I first met you. You challenged me as a rival to capture the Clow Cards. You called me baka, idiot, weak, and incapable of being Card Captor.”
Hanging his head, Syaoran muttered, “I get your point. I thought that that’s over now…”
Wistfully, she continued, “I never told you, but you don’t know how discouraged, sad, an uncertain I felt then. Thousands of times I felt like giving up and handing over the Clow Cards to the new rival, the descendant of Clow Reed, and someone who seemed so much more powerful, capable, and more intelligent than me.” Then she lifted her head and gazed at him firmly. “But I didn’t give up. I tried my best to live up my name as Card Captor Sakura. I didn’t lose to you. I tried hard to gain your respect, approval, and most of all, friendship and trust. And I tried to keep my mind open. Even though you were my enemy and rival at that time, I tried to see you also as a boy who also was burdened with responsibility and special abilities. I saw you as a classmate who tried to keep his emotions and feelings trapped under that granite face. I tried to get to know the real you.”
Then smiling brightly, Sakura concluded, “And I’m so glad I did. Or else, I wouldn’t have got to know such a great person like Li Syaoran.”
At this, Syaoran blushed. “I—“
Pressing her hand against the window glass, Sakura said, “Now I trust you as one of my closest friends. Now I know the reason why you challenged me like that in the beginning. The Li clan Elders, Leiyun, family honor… I’m more aware of why collecting the Clow Cards was important to you. And I believe that those two also have a reason behind their actions. So, till they want to challenge me face to face, I want to keep it from them that I do know who they are. Because that will give me the opportunity to really get to know them as people, not just keep a close mind to them as enemies. That’s why, I want to keep quiet about it.”
They was silence in the room for a while. Sakura bit her lip, afraid that Syaoran might blow up any second. She could see that his face was deathly pale and that his hand on the doorknob was shaking.
“I don’t blame you if you think I’m
queer,” Sakura stated quietly. “In ways I am. I’m not saying that I love
those two. But, all I’m saying is that I don’t want to close my mind to
At last, Syaoran sighed. “Yes, I think you are very queer. But,” he gazed up with that fierce frown relaxing a bit, though not completely disappearing. “I admire and respect you, too. You are right. One shouldn’t be so close-minded. It’s your open-mindedness, which rescued me from the obstinate, cold, rigid person I used to be. And I thank you for giving me a chance back then. If you didn’t—who knows? We may still be enemies yet.”
“So… You won’t say anything more to me or scold me?”
“Not anymore than usual,” Syaoran grumbled. “I mean, I’ll keep quiet and not mention anything. What else can I do?”
Sakura smiled. “Thanks for understanding.” She opened the door and walked out. Syaoran leaned back onto the bed, rather in a baffled state.
That girl kept on proving to him
that she had more brains than anyone could imagine. But even more important,
she had a ocean deep heart.
“Eron, what are you doing here?” Erika asked her twin as she came down the hallway to find Eron standing motionless in front of the rooms. “Let’s go downstairs. Here’s the batteries… Eron?”
The usually calm Eron seemed to be in a shock state. His handsome face was extremely pale. “Eh? Oh yeah, thanks.” Eron took the batteries. As he tried to insert it into the flashlight, his hands trembled so much that he dropped the batteries to the floor.
“Hey, what’s wrong with you?” Erika asked, feeling her twin’s forehead. “You sick?”
“N-no…” Eron forced a smile.
“Eron-kun, let’s go! We have to find Chiharu-chan,” Sakura said, coming out of the house.
“Eh? Yeah,” Eron replied.
Sakura stared at him, puzzled. Now Eron never had that kind of spaced out expression and said something like ‘eh, yeah.’ He he… Maybe Eron was turning normal. Taking the flashlights, she began walking down the shore. Reluctantly, Eron followed, his dim golden eyes never leaving Sakura for a moment. What was wrong with that girl? More correctly, what was wrong with him?
To her horror, Chiharu found that she didn’t even have a remote idea of where she was. She only remembered running away from Takashi late that afternoon. She no longer was next to the ocean, either. Still, she could hear the distant crashing of waves onto the shore, so she mustn’t be too far from the sea. By now, she wondered if anyone had missed her. Certainly not Takashi. Now she regretted shouting at him and running off—No! It was his fault. It wasn’t just once. It was years and years of being disregarded piled up. Why could he never realize her true feelings? Why could he never be serious about it? Her patience was tried. She should give up now. Ten years of liking the same person was rather long. Actually, she didn’t realize how she felt for him until he already closed up to her. Till third grade, Takashi had always been devoted to her and she had taken their friendship for granted. Her feelings for him began to really change in fourth grade, when he no longer showed his true, sincere, and innocent inner self to her anymore.
She stared at the glowing moon overhead. It would be full moon soon. Well, she better go back now. Chiharu gazed around her surroundings to find which way to head. She was greeted with glowing red eyes.
A huge, dark beast-like figure leaped out with pointed white fangs flickering by the moonlight.
“Did you hear anything?” Sakura asked, flicking the flashlight several directions.
“No,” Eron replied, crossing his fingers.
“I swear, I heard a girl’s scream from the other direction,” Sakura insisted. Then she stopped and asked herself, did she actually hear it or did she sense with her powers that Chiharu was in danger?
After a while, Sakura asked, “Eron, there’s nothing… well nothing strange here right?”
“You mean, like wild beasts, snakes, ghosts…”
“Hoe-e~ Are there?” Sakura wrapped her jacket around her tighter.
“Let’s see… Probably not. This place is a big tourist site, you know.” Eron’s golden eyes glimmered amusedly. “I’d say, just watch out during full moon, as they always say according to old superstition. Come, let’s get out of the forest and try the highway. We have to find Chiharu before the tide comes up.”
“…” Chiharu could hear someone’s soft breath and felt like she was being carried in someone’s arms. That person set her down against a tree trunk and turned around. She croaked, “Wait!” Slowly, the young man turned around. Her heart skipped a beat. Did this person save her? “You saved me.” It came out half a question, half a statement.
That person shrugged. It was dark but Chiharu could observe that he was tall and lean. His arms were strong and muscular and there was something about his movement, which had the wildness of a cat, yet the grace of a magician. He was dressed completely in black from head to toe. Only his lightly bleached spiked hair shone in the darkness, almost like silvery gold.
“Who are you?” Chiharu wobbled and then stood up. “Please, tell me. Speak to me.”
“You fainted when that beast or whatever it was attacked you. So, I distracted that savage and moved you to a safe spot. That’s all,” he replied. Though he didn’t say much, Chiharu found that his voice was light and smooth. It was almost melodious and very pleasant to listen to.
“That’s all? You’re my lifesaver. How can I ever thank you?” Chiharu asked. It was just like the mysterious Black Night from childhood fantasies.
“Don’t bother. It’s just what anyone would have done in the same situation.” A silver cross earring dangled from his left year, making a striking contrast to his other articles.
“No… I’m still very grateful.” Discontentedly, Chiharu imagined what Takashi would have done under similar circumstances. He probably would have left her and run… Or scare away whatever it was with his crazy stories. Then dryly, she commented, “Why are you wearing sunglasses in the middle of the night?”
Shaking his head, he grumbled, “Will everyone just stop criticizing me about it? I’m very self-conscious you know.” Then he asked, “Well, what are you doing out here all alone? Were you lost? I bet Sakura and the others are worrying.”
“Huh? How do you know Sakura?”
“Err… I just do. You’re her friend, staying at the Tamemura/Akagi summer estate, right?” Shaking his head, he commented, “You’re a far way off from home, girl.”
“Yeah… I guess I walked more than I thought I did since I left at around five and it’s now almost ten.” Chiharu sighed, wiping the tears from her face. “It was stupid of me to get lost. It was all my fault.”
“Don’t cry. I can’t stand it when people cry. Come.” He dragged her out of the forest and came out into the highway. He swung his leg over a shiny black motorcycle. “Ride.”
“Huh?” Chiharu blinked.
“I’ll take you to your place. Now, hurry up. I don’t have time,” he said impatiently.
Cautiously, Chiharu climbed behind him. Handing her a helmet, he said, “Put it on.”
“Aren’t you wearing one?” she asked.
Wrinkling his nose, he replied, “Me wear a helmet? Ha ha… I’ve fallen off racing motorcycles before. It’s not that bad. But that’s only me.”
Chiharu felt the chilly wind blow
on her face as they raced down the highway on the motorcycle. She leaned
her head against this strange savior’s back. This person was rather gruff
on first appearance. Yet, he seemed genuinely kind inside and she somehow
felt attracted to him.
Minutes later, the motorcycle screeched and halted on the road to Aki’s summer estate. “We’re here.”
Timidly, Chiharu looked up at the familiar surroundings. She sighed in relief to realize that she had made it home safely. “I thought my heart will fall out.”
“Hurry now, go to your friends. They must have been worrying,” he replied, helping her off his motorcycle.
“Thank you,” Chiharu replied, blushing. “You’re really kind.”
Heaving a sigh, he muttered, “Since when have I been the type to help others?” Then, to Chiharu, he replied, “Well, I’m in debt to one of your friends, so just think it’s that. Bye Chiharu.” He started the ignition.
“I’m sorry for causing you so much trouble.” Then Chiharu frowned. “Wait, did I ever tell you my name?”
Laughing, he replied, “It’s my occupation, you know. Finding out everything beforehand.”
“Bye then… You didn’t tell me your name… But you’re Kaitou Magician, right?” Chiharu asked.
“Eh?” Katiou Magician looked surprised. “What makes you think that?”
“Though it was blurry, I saw your picture in the newspaper. You’re not wearing a cloak, but still, something about you reminded me of him when I first saw you. Strange, on the news, they portrayed you as a sly trouble-maker, but in reality, I think you’re really a considerate, nice person.”
“Well, think what you want to,” Kaitou
Magician replied. “Oh, and this is just a one time thing, so don’t bother
getting lost again, all right!” He then sped off down the highway. Rather
dumbfounded, Chiharu stared down the road.
Tomoyo, Rika, and the others ran up to Chiharu, just to see the black figure ride off on an impressive new model motorcycle.
“Thank god you’re safe,” Rika said, checking if Chiharu was hurt in anyway.
“Where were you all this time?” Tomoyo asked.
“Oh, Chiharu-chan, you’re back,” Sakura exclaimed. “Eron and I went looking for you but we couldn’t find you anywhere!”
Frowning, Takashi asked, staring down the road, “Who was that?”
“Who was what?” Chiharu asked, still red.
“The person who brought you here. That punk dude on the motorcycle.”
Clasping her hand to her face, she replied in a sing-song voice, “None of your business.” To the girls, she replied, “Oh my gosh, I think I’m in love! It’s like a shoujo manga or something! I wish I could have seen his face though.”
“Hehe, Chiharu-chan…” Rika said, nudging her and glancing sideways at Takashi who had a murderous look on his face, which quickly disappeared back into his Chichiri mask.*
“Well, he was awesome, manly, courageously saved me from this wild beast thingy, carried me out of danger, escorted me home… What more can you ask from a guy?” Chiharu shot a poisonous look at Takashi.
“Good for you,” Takashi replied with an uncaring air. “Of course, you never know if that guy was a criminal, maybe a murderer, maybe a psycho.”
“For your information, he was perfectly charming.” Then she murmured, “But you’re right. He is a criminal… But he’s only a thief. The mysterious and dashing Thief of the Night.” Turning to Sakura, she asked, “By any chance, do you know the Kaitou Magician?”
“Eh?” Sakura stammered. “N-no… Why would I know a thief?”
“Oh. I thought he knew you,” Chiharu answered. “Maybe I was mistaken.”
Peering down the road, Miho asked, tilting her pretty head, “Kaitou Magician?”
“Yeah. Didn’t you hear of him? The most famous thief in Japan, who is renowned for his magician-like grace and ability to appear and disappear. He has been the nemesis of the police and the mysterious criminal, which no lock can keep him out. As young as he is, he’s on the world’s top 20 criminal list,” Rika recited. She had heard Chiharu repeat it so many times back when Kaitou Magician was seen in Tomoeda, that she had also memorized it.
“I’ve heard of him too, on BBC, and other news,” Miho replied.
“Hey, stop licking my leg!” Syaoran scolded, shoving away Wolfie-chan, who he personally called Baka-chan. (‘That’s mean!’ Sakura had told him tearfully, so he refrained from calling the puppy name in her presence.) “Why do you always creep out of nowhere?” He asked the puppy reproachfully. Where did you disappear to earlier this evening, eh?”
Despite Syaoran’s ramblings, the puppy leaped up into his arms and barked cheerfully. Syaoran sighed in relent. Making sure that no one was looking, Syaoran scooped up Wolfie-chan in his arms and gently stroked his fluffy fur.
From the side, Sakura giggled. How like Syaoran to pretend to be annoyed with Wolfie-chan, yet secretly, be so kind and nice. She watched Syaoran feed the puppy scraps of food and play a little game of catch.
“Now that I see it, Syaoran’s a big softy,” Sakura teased, walking up to him.
Syaoran bent down on the ground and let Wolfie-chan down.
“Why? Aren’t you?” Sakura asked.
“Maybe,” Syaoran replied. His amber eyes looked sad. “I used to have a puppy when I was little. He was so faithful to me and followed me where ever I went, even to school. Leiyun had gotten him for my fifth birthday.”
“Really? What happened to him?”
“He died. Like everyone else that I loved,” Syaoran replied shortly.
“Oh. I’m sorry,” Sakura said, sadly patting Wolfie-chan’s head.
“Don’t be sorry.” Syaoran slowly walked away.
“How come Sakura-chan pays more attention to this animal than me,” Kero-chan inquired, haughtily. “I’m much more cuter and superior!”
“Shush, Kero-chan,” Sakura said, pushing Kero-chan away and staring at Syaoran.
There was only one more day till the contest. Everyone was hectic preparing. Despite the fact that Sakura and Syaoran had protested the most in the beginning, they were the ones working the hardest. But, why?
Shaking her head, Rika commented, “Those two must want the money real badly.”
Chucking Tomoyo nodded. Earlier that morning, Sakura had received a call on her handphone from Touya.
“Onii-chan? Why, how… unexpected,” Sakura had stammered.
“Where in the world are you now, kaijou?” Touya demanded into the receiver.
“Why didn’t you know? Tomoyo and all our friends are in one of our classmates summer estate in Kusakou. You know Akagi-san’s little brother, right? It’s really fun and SAFE here so you don’t have to worry. Mizuki-sensei’s cousin Miho is here, too.”
“I don’t know if I should believe your up to nothing or not. And that still doesn’t explain why you suddenly hung up on me last time, either,” Touya grumbled.
“He he he…” Sakura sweat-dropped. She remembered how that time, it had been in the Kinomoto mansion and Mori-san, the head housekeeper had just caught her sneaking into the house.
“Plus, I just checked your banking account. How much money have you been using in the past week? How can you be so irresponsible.”
“Ah don’t worry, I’ll fill out account again,” Sakura said. Then she turned serious. “How can you be so irresponsible, onii-chan. You knew about Father’s past, didn’t you. How come you never told me?”
“What do you mean?” Touya asked frowning.
“Don’t act like you don’t know. I found out about my grandfather, Kinomoto Fujishinta, president of the Hoshi Enterprise.”
“H-how did you…” For the first time, Touya was speechless.
“I did. But don’t worry. I won’t bring it up to Father until he wants to talk about it to me. BUT DO YOU KNOW HOW BETRAYED I FELT WHEN MY ONE AND ONLY FAMILY KEPT SO MANY SECRET FROM ME?!” Sakura shouted into the receiver.
Blocking his ears, Touya replied, “I didn’t think you were old enough. But I guess I was mistaken. I’m sorry.”
“It’s all right. Well, bye now. My
friends are calling. And come back soon! I miss you and Father, heaps.
And Yukito-san, too.”
Puzzled, Touya frowned at the phone as he set it back on the receiver and returned to studying. The text of the book blurred in front of his eyes. He remembered how shocked he had been when his father told him that he was the second son of Kinomoto Fujishinto, one of the richest, powerful men in Tokyo. And Touya knew that his father was leaving out the most painful details. Now, what had his little sister been doing and how did she find out?
“It won’t do for you to be worrying all the time,” Yukito said, looking up from his book. “You’re sister old enough to take care of herself and handle difficult situations. You can’t always try to protect her and hide her from the real world anymore. She has every right to know the truth.”
“I’m not worrying about the kaijou!” Touya retorted, his deep ocean blue eyes flashing. “But why did she hang up on me last time? What kind of trouble is she getting herself into? I should have never agreed to leave her alone. In fact, I should go back straight away to Japan and make sure with my two eyes that she is okay…”
“Sister complex…” muttered Yukito, smiling. Then he said more seriously, “Look, it’s not like you being there is going to make a difference.”
“Thanks a lot.”
“No. I mean that she is at the age where protective big brother can’t run to save every single time he feels like she’s growing up. Give her freedom. Our semester in England is going fine, isn’t it? So…”
Mizuki Kaho interrupted and said down to the fact, “So for once, stop trying to butt into other people’s business, Touya.”
“Who says I’m butting into other people’s business?” grumbled Touya, sighing in relent. Well, for the while, Sakura sounded pretty fine. Yet, from experience, he knew he could never tell.
“Okay, now, you’ll wear this for the opening introduction, and this is your swimming suit…” Tomoyo sighed. “What is all this noise outside?”
Everyone went outside, and to their surprise, video-cameras, light beams, and fancy equipment were strung about everywhere.
“What’s all this,” Syaoran asked grumpily, as if remembering his experience with such equipment back in New York for his ‘modeling contract.’
A huge audience had gathered, oohing and ahhing.
Curious, Sakura shoved her way through the crowd. Meanwhile, Miho was shoving through the crowd, also, stopping each person and staring at their face.
“What are you doing?” Syaoran asked, sweat-dropping at Miho, who held a magnifying glass in one hand and a stamp in the other.
“Looking for my brother, what else?” Miho retorted. She stamped an “X” on each person who in no way could be her brother and a “?” on the possibilities. She even checked the women. “He could be in disguise, or have had a sex-change, you know,” she reasoned. But on no one did she stamp an “O.”
Syaoran was speechless. Miho had already resumed observing and stamping each person, causing strange glances to be cast her way.
In the center, with the dazzling sapphire ocean in the background stood two models. One was a beautiful young woman with her golden curls down her shoulders naturally. She was wearing a gorgeous aqua blue bikini under an elegant light cotton sundress that was unbuttoned, setting off her perfect figure. Beside her was a tall young man with light khakis and a crisp shirt, his naturally sun highlighted hair whipped back from the wind.
“Okay, now, face the camera. There, turn slightly inwards. Now, smile. Now look serious. There,” a young blonde photographer behind the camera called out. “Ah beautiful. As wonderful as my ‘Angel in New York,’ piece.”
“Hoe? Akagi-san? Tamemura-san? “ Sakura exclaimed as she examined the two models carefully.
“’Nee-san?!” Aki exclaimed. “Eww… And my sister’s boyfriend, also.”
It was break time, so Arima and Asuma walked up to them.
“’Nee-chan, what are you doing here?” Aki demanded. “Did you come to ruin your little brother’s vacation?”
Pinching Aki’s cheeks, Arima said, “Unfortunately, I had to come on business. Asuma and I have modeling contract for Armani. Lucky, photos were being taken by the seaside, in Kusakou. And tomorrow, I’m one of the five judges for the Best Couple Contest.”
“YOU!” Aki whined. “No! You’re not going to be fair~”
“What are you talking about? Of course I’ll be fair,” Arima said, teasingly. Someone tapped on her shoulder. “Yes, Li-kun?”
“You gave us the keys to this estate to make us enter the contest, right?” Syaoran asked.
Clapping her hands together, Arima exclaimed, “You figured out! You two have to win the contest, all right? You’re my only hope.” She glared at her little brother.
“Wow, Akagi-san and Tamemura-san are lucky. You’re on the same modeling contract?” Sakura pointed out.
“Yeah, it’s really lucky,” Asuma said. “If it was with some other model, I wouldn’t have accepted it in the first place, though.”
“And we spend so little time with each other, I was really glad. We can spend at least one week here in Kusakou, together,” Arima added, leaning her head against Asuma’s broad shoulders.
“Plus, five minutes walk from here, there are good horse-riding tracks,” Asuma continued.
Meanwhile, Miho suspiciously circled the blond photographer. “I saw him before, I wonder…” Then she pointed and exclaimed, “MIKE KANT!!!”
“Eh?” Sakura and Syaoran looked towards that direction. “Mike Kant, that photographer from New York?” They turned pale at the thought of the torture they went through for his photos, including falling off the Empire State Building and freezing to death in the snowy Central Park.
Turning around, Mike exclaimed, “You guys! My precious models! And Miho-san. What are you guys doing here? You two are entering the Best Couple Contest? How wonderful! I’ll take lots of pictures.”
“What are you doing here?” Sakura asked, amazed.
“Oh, I’m doing the Armani summer collection photography right now. My models are none other than Arima and Asuma, my close friends from when I was studying in Japan. They’re two years younger than me and my favorites models after you two.” Mike beamed at Sakura and Syaoran. “And I’ll be taking the pictures for the Best Couple Contest to submit in magazines.”
That dinner was a fairly large one.
In addition to all the people already there, (plus one Wolfie-chan and
one Kero-chan,) Arima, Asuma, and Mike were staying in the estate, also.
There was a lot to catch up on, and everyone was in a bright mood.
Late that night, Sakura saw Takashi sitting alone on the porch. He seemed deeply in thought.
“Worrying about tomorrow, Takashi-kun?” Sakura asked, sitting next to him, and holding Wolfie-chan on her lap.
“Nah… I don’t worry much about things like that,” Takashi replied.
“You’re worrying about Chiharu-chan, then?”
Hesitantly, he replied, “Yeah. I know you’re not a blabbermouth, Sakura. So I’ll tell you. I’m so afraid I’m losing her, Sakura. What should I do?”
“You really like Chiharu a lot, don’t you?” Sakura asked softly. “I used to always admire how you two always seemed so friendly and stuck together. “
“Really?” Takashi grinned. “Well, you and Li-kun are pretty tight.”
“I don’t know sometimes,” Sakura replied. “I feel so unsure and doubtful of myself.”
“What do you do when you feel like that?”
Smiling, Sakura said, “I wait for the sunrise.” When she saw Takashi’s questioning brown eyes, she continued, “I’ll tell you a little secret, Takashi-kun. See that distant horizon beyond that wide, wide blue ocean? Well, when you feel deep in despair and feel trapped in the dark, just try to bear it through and have hope. Because no matter how black the night may seem and how hopeless the situation is, the sun will always rise in the morning. And then, you can stand up and set right the wrong and start a new day.” Sheepishly, Sakura laughed. “I don’t know if I make much sense.”
“No, you do. Thank you.” Takashi grinned, looking at Sakura straight in the eye. For the first time, Sakura realized that Takashi was quite good-looking, despite the fact that Chiharu always made fun of his looks. Maybe it was the gravity of his expression. “I’ve always admired you, Sakura-san. Always so bright and strong, always willing to lend a hand to all your friends. Always able to hide your problems and worries inside you. I wish I can borrow your mask.”
Staring up at the stars, Sakura said, “Don’t you wish we live in a world wear we don’t have to wear masks to hide who we are inside? A world where we can be just as we please?”
“That kind of society doesn’t exist.
But, one day, I’m going to show Chiharu exactly what I feel for her.” Then,
he reverted back to his no-eye mode. “Did you know that the sun and the
moon are sisters? Long ago…”
“Why do you always tell stories when Chiharu-chan dislikes it so much?” Sakura questioned.
“Why are you scared of ghosts?” Takashi asked back.
“I-I can’t help it.”
“Well, same here. I can’t help telling stories, even though half of them are made up and the other half are lies. Maybe it was because when I was little, nobody believed me when I tried to tell the honest truth. That’s why, I found it was easier to make people believe in lies, lies, and more lies. That's what I did when I finally realized that my mother would no longer come back to me. That I had been telling lies to myself all along.”*** Takashi gazed out at the dim horizon beyond the dark grayish indigo sea. He couldn’t see anything.
Day of the contest…
“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the 15th annual Japan’s Best Teen Couple Contest!” the announcer said. “Here are the five judges.”
The five judges sat in a row by the long table. Each of them gave a short speech. Akagi Arima’s speech was short and simple. “I myself won this contest five or six years ago and it has taught me much about friendship, determination, and most of all what the meaning of actually loving a person is. This contest is not about winning, being the best-looking, setting the best image, or even becoming the best couple in Japan. This contest is testing the faith and heart behind the twenty couples here, and I wish luck to every single one of the couple contestants and applaud of all you for having the courage to enter.”
Everyone applauded for this popular actress and many girls had to whack their boyfriends’ head for staring at Arima, drooling.
“Now, introducing the contestants!” the announcer continued. There was a drum roll and the lights flashed onto the stage set with the beach in the background. Each couple entered the stage from the right entrance as they were announced, gave a little speech, and walked to the farthest corner of the stage.
“Couple Number 18! Akagi Aki (oh my, our favorite Arima-chan’s little brother~) and Chang Erika (my a flashing beauty!) Age 15, currently attending Seijou Junior High,” the announcer stated. “So, what do you two have to say?”
Erika began confidently, “We are honored to be standing in spotlight, and hope we will always have it shining on us. We are confident that we are easily the best couple in Japan and in all of Asia!”
Aki added flicking back his golden hair from his eyes and putting on a sexy grin, “And, I bet, we are the best looking couple, as well, so watch us!”
There was a wild cheering and Erika and Aki were clearly going to one of the favorites in the contest, maybe because they were so confident, maybe because Aki was Arima’s little sister, maybe because they were good looking.
“And next contestant… Couple Number 19! Yamazaki Takashi (my, my, is that your real face, or a Chichiri mask?) and Mihara Chiharu (cute and sweet, love the pigtails.) Also, age 15 and attending Seijou Junior High.”
At first, the audience were rather dubious of the two. Was that guy taking things seriously? And why did the girl look like she was about to strange him?
Then, Takashi began with a completely serious expression on his face, “What is the meaning of a ‘couple?’ Many people consider going out with someone a light business, and guys consider girls as something to discard of. However, Chiharu and I are based on something called friendship. Long before we became a couple, we were trustworthy friends. That’s why are bond is all the stronger. Sure, we fight and we make up, yet in the end, our bond is still stronger because we have firm belief in each other.”
The judges and many people nodded their head in approval. Arima smiled at Asuma, who was sitting in a VIP seat in the audience. The audience looked at Yamazaki Takashi twice over again. At first, they had considered him funny-looking, but now that they looked at him again, they found him strangely appealing with his black hair gelled up and his light brown eyes dead serious. Then he reverted back to his smiley face mode. Everyone sweat-dropped.
Chiharu stared up at Takashi as if
seeing him for the first time. Then smiling, she said, “Apology accepted,
Takashi. I hope you were meaning to set a truce from our fight two days
ago.” Everyone cracked up. They all felt like they could relate to this
couple. True, they weren’t strikingly gorgeous like the previous one, yet
there still was something about these two that struck them as ‘human.’
Another round of enthusiastic applause rang from the audience.
“It’s our turn next,” Sakura exclaimed, fumbling with her paper. She was near tears. “Tomoyo-chan never told me we had to make a speech!” She crossed out her scribbling and began writing a different introduction.
“Too late, it’s our turn,” Syaoran said. “Just do it impromptu. We’ll do fine.” Then crossly, he asked, “Wait, aren’t you supposed to be relieving me?”
“Finally, last but not least, Couple
Number 20! Li Syaoran and Kinomoto Sakura! Also, age 15 and from Seijou
Junior High. Wow, that whole school must have applied for this contest.
Our last three couples were not only from the same school, same age, but
from the same grade and same class! Well, we might remember this couple
from the popular Valentines Day ad, ‘Angels in New York.’ Yes, these two
are the very ones who modeled for genius young photographer, Mike Kant,
who is in the audience, this very moment!”
Now, they had to speak. Sakura’s heart pounded wildly. She had spoken on stage before, but that was for plays and skits, when she had memorized lines. What was she going to do? How did everyone else manage it so well? She glanced sideways at Syaoran, who seemed so calm. He was holding what looked like a golden ball in his hand. What was he doing? Grinning at her, he gracefully threw the golden globe into the air. Everyone stared at it.
“You know what I like about sunrises, Sakura?” he began. The audience stared at the golden ball, which floated in the air above them. “It’s a new beginning of another day, where anything can await.”
Instantaneously, Sakura replied, “Even if the day before went wrong, the sunrise can bring another chance to mend all the hardships. You can face a whole new day to start over again. There is never a dead end if there is a sunrise. Even if we fail, we can believe in ourselves and try harder to succeed again.”
“We can seize the day!” Syaoran concluded, snapping his finger. The golden globe exploded, showering down gorgeous crimson blossoms down to the audience, judges, and the contestants.
Smelling the sweet fragrance of the flower, Arima smiled. Those two had taken a different approach than the others, which was impressive and stuck out from the other contestants. Good. She was right to trust those two.
There was a wild applause in the audience, and another favorite couple had emerged.
“You must need the first prize money badly. Never thought you would stand on your two feet to do something like that,” Sakura commented. “But I’m fully impressed.”
Sakura remembered Tomoyo’s little lesson from before. Tomoyo had taught her, ‘It is important to catch the audience’s interest with something striking or visually arresting. Especially imagery and visual aid is recommended to keep the audience’s interest and also help them for a mental image.’
“He he. I told you that the only proper magic trick I learned back when we were preparing for the Spring Circus Carnival was flower magic. Remember how you lent me the Flowery Card? You forgot to take it back. So, I borrowed it once more,” Syaoran looked vaguely proud of himself. He stared at her expectantly.
“Oh all right. Good job.” Sakura grinned tightly. “But this is just the beginning. From now is the problem.”
“Finally, all twenty contestants
have been introduced. Now, on to the fun part. The first task…” the announcer
Sighing, Tanaka Miho plopped down exhausted into her seat next to Tomoyo. All the people around her sported X and ? stamps. Yet, her brother was not to be found. Where are you, onii-chan? Will I ever be able to find you? Are you even alive?
She gazed out into the vast, churning ocean. Her brother seemed to be farther away than beyond the widest ocean and more distant than the highest sky. She wished she was a little bird with wings to sore up to the horizon and look down upon the earth. Then she gazed up at the muggy sky. It seemed like it would rain the next day. Thinking about it, it would be full moon tomorrow.
Wish-chan: He he... as usual, I'm moving at a slow pace. But, as I mentioned before, I like developing things out fully. My notes are:
* I was referring to Chichiri from
Fuushi Yuugi. I always wondered how to describe Takashi's expression. You
know, always smiling, no eyes, not that serious looking... He he... Many
anime have similar characters. For example, Mokona from Magic Knight Rayearth,
that purple haired dude from slayers (sorry, can't remember his name for
the moment,) and Chichiri (it's really a mask.) Anyway, I'll try to put
up a pic of Takashi with normal expression. I drew him once and I thought
that he looked pretty cute. ^_^.
** Sorry... actually, I lost track of the footnotes and I'm to lazy to look back... Oh well...
Anyway, Chiharu falls for Kaitou-kun, he he... Adds some conflict towards Takashi and Chiharu's relationship. But it's important to realize where Chiharu's heart really lies.*** Oh yeah, look at their Special Story to read about how they grew to be a couple. I really like these two and think they don't get enought fanfics written about them. ^_^.
Another suprising thing... Wasn't the Syaoran encountering Sakura about the Dark Ones scene shocking? Sakura actually knew about the twins... yet her reaction was even stranger, ne? I think this is one of the scenes that I wanted to write about for a long time.
Oh yeah... and Syaoran secretly did like Wolfie-chan, the puppy, after all... He he... I do have a soft spot for big, grouchy softys like Syaoran~ Oh yeah, it's rather subtle but Sakura finally dropped the "kun" when she calls Syaoran. That was chapters ago, but just thought that I would like to point it out.
And, Miho has her own set of troubles as well~ Hmm... It's hard to think of titles, you know... ^_^. But I do hope people can somehow connect it with the chapters.
One more thing, did you notice that Chapter 33 and 34's titles connect to each other? "Finding you beyond the widest ocean..."
Next chapter will be the hardcore contest. And as everyone can imagine, trouble.
Comments welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my site at www.geocities.com/wishluv!
Oh yeah... the sunrise is being a constant theme, eh? He he...