Card Captor Sakura ~ Arcana
Chapter 5 - Strength
by Meimi

Disclaimer: Card Captor Sakura belongs to CLAMP. Original characters are mine. Please don't use them without consulting me first.

Spoiler, Timeline and Ect. Warning: This story takes place after the Clow Cards are collected and, er, Yue's fun and games. That's it. No Eriol, no Suppi-chan, no Ruby Moon and yeah, Yukito's secret is a bit important to the plot. Sakura is sixteen in this story. This story is a bit dark compared to canon CCS, you are warned. People are going to get hurt and/or possibly dead. Please use discretion if you find that sort of thing offensive.


Chapter 5 - Strength


"Ugh! God, why does he have to be so heavy?"

"Hoe, I swear I'm making him go on a diet when he wakes up!"

"Erm, it's not so bad. We're almost there," Tomoyo smiled weakly as she hefted Touya's left leg none too easily another foot down the sidewalk. "I can see the porch light now!"

"Swell," Syaoran muttered as he did his level best to not drop the bane of his existence. It didn't help that Touya's head had to rest on his shoulder while Syaoran kept a deathgrip on his shoulders. He had never ever wanted to be this close to the older man and it was just creeping him out all over the place. However, Sakura had pleaded for his help and so here he was, helping the girls lug Touya back to the Kinomoto residence. "Tell me again why we couldn't use your van to get this idiot back to his house?"

"Because my bodyguards would have found out and none of us want to try and explain what we're doing with Sakura's unconscious brother to them," Tomoyo said plainly, a slight tinge of annoyance edging into her voice. She wasn't really angry with Li-kun, but the constant complaining after leaving the park, her own included, missing another card capturing, which really annoyed her to no end, and having to help carry Sakura's rather heavy older brother back home was really starting to get to her. Physical strength was certainly not one of her graces.

"Right right, sorry," Syaoran murmured quietly in an attempt to avoid setting Tomoyo off. He really should have kept his mouth shut, but Touya was really starting to get damned heavy. Just a little further then he could go home and hopefully sleep. He was starting to really need some rest at this point.

"Ugh! I'm really sorry about this," Sakura apologized yet again as she hefted Touya's other leg in synch with Tomoyo. She had been doing a lot of apologizing ever since they had started lugging Touya back home. "I just didn't know what else to do."

"It's okay, Sakura-chan!" Tomoyo perked up cheerfully, all the while resisting the urge to faint.

"It's not, ugh, your fault, Sakura," Syaoran scowled darkly as he risked a glance behind at the 'beings' who were responsible, of a sorts. The Magician, The Hanged Man and The High Priestess were strolling a ways behind them chatting it up about god knows what. The High Priestess seemed to have forgiven the other two, but he wouldn't risk betting on that. One could never tell when it came to the cards. "You know, you guys could help some."

"Do we look like drudges to you?" The Magician scowled back at him just as darkly. There seemed a pause as both glared daggers at each other, then The Magician smirked and purred wickedly, "Is it getting to be too much for you, dear?"

Syaoran growled sulfurously under his breath as The Hanged Man ignored them both and skipped towards the Kinomoto's house. "I'll go open the door!" He was in far, far, far too good a cheer as far as Syaoran was concerned.

Tomoyo and Sakura both sighed at the rising tension and continued lugging Touya towards the house. Surely things would start to sort themselves out once they were there. Just a little further.

The High Priestess was the only one out of the group who realized they were being watched, and only because she had briefly seen the watcher earlier that night. It pleased her to know that her new 'mistress' would have to go through even more strife before the night was done.

It was only fitting for Clow's successor to suffer, after all.


Sighing, Yuri rolled over on her bed and curled her legs up tighter against her chest. She had been strangely tired all day at school. At first, she had simply figured it was because of that really weird dream, or maybe nightmare was more fitting, she had had the night before. However, trying to go to bed early tonight seemed to be quite fruitless at this point.

She was restless.

And so was the book, apparently. It was again flat on the desk instead of up on the shelf where Yuri had put it. Grumbling halfheartedly, she tossed the covers off and stomped over to her desk, unconcerned about being heard. Her cousin was out again, which was turning out to be a trend. Honestly, sometimes it seemed like she didn't even have a family anymore.

Shaking her head to disburse that unwelcome train of thought, Yuri picked the book up and frowned at it. "Well, what is it now? Why do you even bother? You're empty now so what's the point? And what was in you anyway?" she mused aloud. It wasn't like she was expecting an answer, it was just a book after all, but it and its oddities were starting to annoy her. And she had a sneaking suspicion that she'd be having more dreams like that weird one until she figured out what was going on, as if she needed more problems than she already had.

"You'd better stay put this time," Yuri huffed as she placed the book back on the shelf and wagged her finger at it. Giving it one last meaningful glare, she walked over towards her bedroom window and glanced out at the night sky. It looked to be a nice, calm night. Maybe a short stroll through the park would make her tired enough to chase the restlessness away and let her sleep.


"There," Sakura said softly as she tucked the blankets up over Touya. After a lot more moaning and groaning, she had convinced the others that it would be best just to take her brother up to his room and put him to bed. Lugging him up the stair hadn't exactly been pleasant, but it would be much, much better for him to wake up in his own bed. "That should do it. Hopefully, when he wakes up he'll just think it was all a bad dream."

"Thank god it's over with," Syaoran groaned up from the spot against the wall he had slithered down to after they had manhandled Touya into his bed.

"I hear you," Tomoyo murmured tiredly as she leaned against Syaoran, also having literally collapsed the instant after Touya was in bed. Closing her eyes, she rubbed her arms and grimaced. She was going to be in so much pain come morning.

"Come on guys, it wasn't that bad. We've been through worse," Sakura pouted down at the pair with her hands on her hips.

"I hate to disagree with you Sakura-chan, but yes, it was that bad," Tomoyo grumped as she gave her best friend a baleful look. "Just because we may have been through worse doesn't make it any less bad."

"Okay fine, it was that bad," Sakura sighed as she offered them both a hand to help get them up off the floor. "Let's go downstairs and I'll fix up some tea for us."

"Oh, that sounds wonderful, Sakura-chan," Tomoyo beamed as she took Sakura's hand and levered herself up off the floor. She winced as she wavered for a moment on her feet, then righted herself as best she could. "I think I'm going to need it."

"It would be nice," Syaoran said blandly as he dragged himself to his feet, hiding a yawn behind his hand. He headed wearily out into the hallway with Tomoyo, followed shortly by Sakura who closed the bedroom door behind her.

Tomoyo stopped at the top of the stairs, halting any further progress as she glanced around curiously. "Where is Kero-chan? And for that matter, where are the Arcana?"

Sakura blinked owlishly and blushed, she hadn't noticed they were gone. She really should pay better attention. They were her responsibility after all. But she was sure they had come into the house with the three of them, so they had to be around somewhere.

"Probably still downstairs, I know they didn't follow us up to help. Not that they were much help anyway, but at least they stayed out of the way," Syaoran muttered sourly as he gently brushed past Tomoyo and headed down the stairs.

As they reached the bottom, The Hanged Man peeked out from the dining room and waved at them cheerfully. "We're making tea. Would you guys like some?" The Arcana always seemed to be in such a good mood, even Sakura was starting to find it a little strange.

"Hoe, sure," Sakura answered hesitantly as she walked into the dining room. The High Priestess was in the kitchen, diligently watching the water as it came to a boil. There was an odd, but not unpleasant, smell of herbs wafting across the room. The Magician was seated at the far side of the dining table, smirking down at a bristling Kero-chan in obvious amusement.

"Sakura-chan!" Kero-chan piped out as he fluttered up from the table, flicking his tail distastefully at The Magician, "I made sure they didn't do anything bad."

"Oh! Uhm, thank you Kero-chan. That was awfully nice of you," Sakura smiled as he flew over to her shoulder and settled down. Well, at least he hadn't gotten distracted by the Touya problem.

"Just doing my job," Kero-chan puffed out, sounding like it was nothing much. It wasn't really, but he did feel kinda bad at not being there when The High Priestess had attacked. He wasn't bothered at all by the fact that Sakura-chan apparently hadn't needed him; of course not. He'd just have to pay better attention to those annoying cards from now on. He was the fierce Guardian Beast, Kerberus, after all. It was his job to protect Sakura-chan, not that brat or the Arcana's. Though, he'd feel a little better about it if Yue was there to help...

The High Priestess hummed an odd melody as she poured up the tea and began handing out cups. Syaoran balked slightly as she offered him a cup and she smiled sweetly at him, "Don't worry, I didn't put any hemlock in it, even if it is a lovely way to poison someone."

"Ignore her," The Magician said bluntly, blowing into her own cup before taking a sip, "She likes messing around with humans."

"So says the pot in regards to the kettle," The High Priestess muttered snidely, gesturing for said humans to take a seat before heading back into the kitchen.

"I never said I didn't like doing so either," The Magician murmured in return, taking another sip and scooting over slightly as Tomoyo took the seat next to her.

They all sipped their tea in silence for a few minutes, the teens doing their best to not moan and groan at their many aches and pains. It wasn't until Sakura's cup was nearly empty that she dared to ask, "So, who is this 'her' you Arcana keep referring to when you attack us?"

The Hanged Man looked up innocently from where he was leaning nonchalantly against the kitchen counter. "Beats me."

"Hoe, I'm too tired for this," Sakura sighed wearily before attempting again, "Come on now, I know you know what I'm talking about. It's another Arcana isn't it?"

"You won't get an answer from any of us. You don't deserve it," The Magician eyed Sakura acidly as she took another sip from her teacup.

"Hey! She's your mistress now! You should be more polite," Kero-chan growled out as he glared across the table at the Arcana.

"Just because we have been caught is no reason to tell the Mistress of the Clow anything at all. Frankly, it is all the reason we need not to tell you anything," The High Priestess explained, not deigning to look up from her own teacup, "We are our own beings. If we choose to tell you anything it is because we wish to, not because we have to. You are only temporarily in charge, of a sorts."

"Just what is your problem with the Clow; and how do you even know about Clow in the first place?" Kero-chan asked snippily as he stretched up over Sakura's head and focused his glare towards the kitchen.

"If you don't know that then you really don't deserve to know anything at all!" The High Priestess snarled, shattering the teacup in her hand in mounting fury.

"Hoe! I'm sorry, you don't need to get this upset! We won't ask anything more! Sorry!" Sakura babbled out, waving her hands in the air and trying to think of some way to calm the Arcana down before any of them suffered for it.

It was in that moment, as everyone was starting to edge away from the fuming High Priestess that a loud thump came from upstairs. Sakura looked up slowly before glancing around at the others with a dumfounded expression on her face. "I think niichan is up."

"Oh great," Syaoran grumbled as he hurriedly started to get up. "I'd better go then before he finds me down here."

"No no, please stay. You're not done with your tea yet," Sakura smiled pleadingly as she gently pushed him back down into his chair. "I'll, hoe, go up and see how he's doing. Just... stay please." Kero-chan fluttered off of her shoulder as she left the room and headed up the stairs.

"Niichan?" Sakura called out as she crested the stairs. He stood in the middle of the hallway with his back to her, not moving even at the sound of her voice. Uhoh, he didn't think what happened at the park earlier actually had happened did he? Sakura fervently hoped not.

"Niichan? Are you okay?" she tried again, trying her best to hide her worry as she hesitantly reached out to touch his arm. Before she even had a chance to blink, he grabbed her wrist and yanked her closer. "What are you-"

"Mistress of the Clow?" Touya hissed out in a voice with an odd echoing undertone, glaring balefully down at her with eyes that glowed an eerie electric blue. "Yes, you are the one."

"Oniichan? What are you doing?" Sakura tugged on her arm, trying to get free of the grip that was getting tighter and tighter. "You're hurting-" she trailed off as she looked up into Touya's eyes, not seeing him there but something else entirely. "You're not Touya. Who are you? What do you want?"

"My identity is of no consequence. Know only this," the thing in Touya said calmly as it dragged the stunned girl ever closer, "For your relation to Clow you must suffer again and again and again."

"You're an Arcana then," Sakura eyes narrowed as she began to slowly reach up towards her neck with her free hand. "Touya has nothing to do with Clow. Let him go."

"I don't think so, I rather like it here," Touya's possessor grinned viciously as he slammed her roughly against the wall, his eyes glimmering brighter as she screamed in pain.

"Sakura!" Syaoran was already through the dining room doorway, sword drawn, before her scream even ended. He took the stairs two at a time, Kero-chan zipping past his head and Tomoyo fast on his heels. However, the scene they discovered at the top caused them all to pause.

Touya towered over the crumpled form of his baby sister, the key pendant and the Clow cards held mockingly in his hands. "So is this it? The only power that you have is held within these little toys? Disappointing. I would have thought that cursed sorcerer would have made a better choice than this."

"Touya?" Tomoyo whispered quietly in disbelief.

Glowing blue eyes turned their attention towards them and a humorless smile graced Touya's lip, "Well, you have some knights to defend your honor at least. I doubt they'll stand up well though."

Syaoran drew his sword up, attempting to summon forth some defense, but it was too little too late. Touya, or whatever it was that was in the man, gestured slightly sending a wall of pure blue energy slamming into him, tossing him back out into the air above the stairs.

"Syaoran!" Sakura yelled frantically, reaching out her hand fruitlessly and receiving a vicious kick for her trouble. She had to do something... but what? That thing had the key and her cards now.

"Li-kun!" Tomoyo cried out, sinking to her knees as she watched him land face down in the hallway below, his sword thrown up and over, spearing into the wall. She waited a moment, not even daring to breathe, but he didn't move. He didn't move... he wasn't... he couldn't... this was all wrong.

The thing that was in Touya laughed as Kero-chan darted towards him, negligently kicking Sakura again, harder this time, even as he plucked the little guardian out of the air. "You're almost not even worth the trouble."

"Just you wait!" Kero-chan snarled as he struggled in the man's unnaturally strong grip. "I'll make you pay!"

"Don't be ridiculous," Touya's possessor purred, "You don't even have the strength to fight, much less change your form. I siphoned it all away while the lot of you blithely sat down there and drank your tea. Surely you must have noticed?"

"What?" Kero-chan blinked, realizing suddenly that although he had unconsciously been trying to change into his more powerful form ever since Sakura's scream, it wasn't working. He couldn't change, he didn't have the strength to call on the necessary power. It just wasn't there. "How did you-"

Anything further from Kero-chan was halted as Touya threw the little guardian into the wall above Sakura. He smiled faintly as Kero-chan wilted and dropped, fittingly, at his mistress' feet. "I'm expected elsewhere, so I'm afraid I must cut this visit short. For now."

Tomoyo shakily drew herself up to her feet and barred Touya's path as he turned his back to Sakura and towards the stairs. "I won't let you leave... not after what you've done."

"Another knight who can do nothing," Touya's smile took on a condescending quality as he strode towards her. He stopped less than a foot before Tomoyo, far too close for her liking, and reached out to touch her cheek, chuckling darkly as she flinched. "Do you wish to die defending your mistress?"

"I'll... I'll do whatever it takes to help Sakura-chan," Tomoyo said, her voice wavering even though she tried her best to sound brave.

"Commendable," Touya murmured as he grabbed her shoulder, shoving her to the side and out of his way, "But useless. However, I'll be kind and leave you a gift. The least you can do is bleed for her."

A pained scream tore through Tomoyo's throat as bolts of blue energy lanced out from Touya's hand, sliced through her clothing and deep into the skin of her shoulder, right where he had touched her. She curled up in agony as they shredded all the way down her arm, finally stopping at her wrist and fizzling out. Touya gave her one final amused glance before turning around and sauntering down the stairs.


"You're not doing very well are you?"

Half-waking at the question, Sakura shifted slightly, trying to find a more comfortable position to lay in. But nothing seemed to work, if she moved to the left something twinged in protest, moved to the right and something ached terribly. Was it her imagination or did she just hurt all over? Strange... what had she been doing earlier to make her body hate her so much?

Wait. They had gone to capture another Arcana card earlier that night, hadn't they? Maybe that was it, she vaguely remembered it not being all that pleasant. Then again, school at night never was pleasant. But no, there had been something else... Yes, they had gone through the park and gotten attacked by another Arcana and Touya... there was something wrong with Touya... what was it?

"If you keep hiding away from reality you're going to end up losing everything."

There was something about Touya... No, there was something in Touya that had attacked her, taken the Clow and then... attacked the others! "Li-kun! Tomoyo-chan! Kero-chan!" Sakura yelled out frantically as she shot up and instantly regretted it. Everything hurt: her ribs, her back, her stomach... In fact, the last thing she remembered was getting kicked, again. But that had all happened in the hallway at home, and she definitely wasn't there now.

She was outside somewhere, in the woods, very familiar woods. The trees that towered above were the same ones she had dreamed about the night before, but it wasn't anywhere near as cold as it had been then. Looking around hesitantly, she realized the other difference as well. The fear, terror, that she had felt before wasn't there anymore. She wasn't exactly comfortable being there, but she wasn't scared out of her mind either. How strange.

"Ah, so you're up now. That's good."

Sakura whipped her head around, staring at the tree straight across from her. At its base kneeled a young man, a very pretty young man, that she was certain hadn't been there a moment ago. He wore black gauzy clothing with a silver glitter pattern that seemed to match the stars above. His feet were bare, she had a feeling he would never have need for shoes, and his long black hair hung in a loose ponytail over his right shoulder. The smile he gave her was kind, but his purple eyes had no pupils, much like The Magician's.

He wasn't human. He was probably another Arcana.

Sakura reached up to her neck frantically, realizing too late that that thing in Touya had taken the key from her. What was she going to do? She couldn't defend herself, she probably couldn't even run with how bad she felt. But maybe-

"Don't worry, I'm not here to attack you," the young man said gently, closing his eyes for but a moment before opening them again, "I'm not really here and neither are you. In actuality, you are back at your home lying unconscious on the floor and I am elsewhere. However, I thought this would be the best time to... have a look at you while the others are distracted."

Sakura backed up against the trunk of the tree she had been laying under and eyed him suspiciously. "Have a look at me? Who are you?"

"I am The Star." The now named Arcana stood up at his admission, his long black hair shifting gracefully down his back, and stared up at the night sky. "You're like me in a way... I've felt you for a long time, even though I've been asleep ever since then. But I still know you," he looked over at her pensively, "and I know what you've been through. But that isn't nearly enough, you're going to have to go through so much more before any of us are content."

"I don't understand," Sakura shook her head, her body was starting to hurt worse and now her head was joining it. Why was this happening? What did the Arcana want from her? "Why are you doing this?"

"Because you are Clow's successor, and because we hate him for what he's done."

His voice faded out then, along with the forest. Darkness enveloped her, cocooning her against the pain she had been feeling, as another voice began to call out to her.


Something, no, someone was tapping her lightly, but insistently, on the cheek. "Sakura-chan? Sakura-chan, it's time you woke up. Come on now, you really don't want oneechan to have to wake you up."

"Hoe," she murmured and winced as pain began to quickly return to her body full force. "Oh, ow ow ow ow," she groaned, fluttering her eyes open to see The Hanged Man looking down at her with mild concern.

"Ah, there we go," The Hanged Man said cheerfully as he levered her upright off the floor, ignoring any pained protests directed at him. "Yes yes, I know it hurts, but it's not too bad. And well, I thought you'd want to wake up before she got too far ahead of you."

"What?" Sakura blinked at him in abject confusion. What was he talking about? Glancing around at the hallway she started to remember just why she was on the floor and why every single inch of her body seemed to hurt. "Oniichan? Where is he? What happened?"

"Well," The Hanged Man grimaced, apparently trying to think of a way to say everything without causing her even further confusion, "Strength came for a visit, possessed your brother, who then proceeded to kick the crap out of you and your friends, then stole your key and Clow cards and ran off."

"Hoe," Sakura stared at him blankly, wavering slightly as her tired mind attempted to process what he had just told her. After a few moments, she asked with a pained expression on her face, "None of you could stop him, it, whatever, from leaving?"

"Erm, no, we didn't try," The Hanged Man patted her apologetically on the head, "We learned a long time ago to stay out of little miss dragon's way when she's acting psychotic. She gets very, very, very unpleasant otherwise."

"Oh," Sakura muttered, slightly taken aback at that, "Dragon?"

"Yes," his happy go luck smile returned instantly as he started to help Sakura to her feet, "Strength is a dragon, a little phantom dragon, but a dragon nonetheless."

"I see." She didn't really, but she wasn't sure what to say at this point. Wait, no, there was something else nagging at her that wasn't right. Glancing around at the hallway again and not seeing what was bothering her, she asked, "Where are Tomoyo, Li-kun and Kero-chan? They're... okay, aren't they?"

"Well, sort of," The Hanged Man grimaced briefly as he pushed her gently in the direction of the stairs, "They're downstairs. Kerberus will be fine, he was designed to bounce back fairly quickly. Oneechan is looking after Tomoyo and her, uhm, 'wiseness' is taking care of the Li."

"But they're okay, right?" Sakura asked again, wrapping her right arm over her stomach as she painfully made her way down the stairs. She didn't remember ever having felt this bad before, but then again, she'd never gotten kicked like that by anyone before.

"More or less," The Hanged Man muttered under his breath, guiding her into the living room once they reached the bottom of the stairs. It wasn't the most welcoming of scenes that greeted them. Tomoyo sat in one of the chairs while The Magician was doing something to her arm. Syaoran was laid out on the couch, his head resting on the lap of The High Priestess, who looked oddly content as she absently brushed her fingers through his hair. Kero-chan was curled up on the coffee table next to Syaoran's sword, which was gleaming eerily.

"Itai! That hurts," Tomoyo cried out, her arm jerking reflexively in The Magician's grip.

"I know it hurts, but it'll hurt worse if you mess me up," The Magician grumped as she refocused her energies on the bloody wreck of the girl's arm. "Healing magic isn't exactly my forte."

"Oh Tomoyo-chan, I'm so sorry," Sakura said mournfully, getting a good look at her best friend's arm as she staggered into the room.

"It's all right, Sakura-chan, or at least it will be," Tomoyo smiled weakly as she eyed the pink glow spreading over her arm suspiciously, "I think."

"She'll be fine," The Magician rolled her eyes as the glow brightened, "This will take awhile though. I always hated healing magic. You have to put so much effort into it and yet you get such pitiful results back."

"Thank you," Tomoyo whispered, doing her best not to wince as the magic stung at her wounds.

"Uhm," The Magician blushed in response, "It's nothing."

Sakura gave Tomoyo a quick squeeze on her uninjured shoulder before turning her attention to the couch. "And Li-kun, how is he?"

The High Priestess looked up, her fingers halting in mid-brush as if she had been completely oblivious to the other activities in the room, "Oh, he'll be fine. No broken bones or anything... now," she trailed off for a second before adding a final, "He's fine."

"Oh-kay," Sakura gave The High Priestess a funny look before glancing down at the coffee table, "Kero-chan-"

"I'm fine," Kero-chan piped out, wavering dangerously as he climbed to his feet, "Just give me a second and then I'll get that nasty Arcana for you!"

"It's okay, Kero-chan," Sakura said hastily, reaching down and pushing him back onto the table before he fell down, "Don't push yourself so much."

"But-" Kero-chan blinked helplessly up at her.

"No buts," Sakura waved a reprimanding finger at him, "I'll take care of everything, you just rest up."

Kero-chan opened his mouth to deliver a retort when The High Priestess spoke up, "You should listen to her, Kerberus. You're not going to be much good to anyone until you can stand up on your own power without falling over." Her tone was scatching as she glared the Clow guardian down.

"Ano, please don't fight. I don't think I can take it right now," Sakura sighed and rubbed her forhead. She was exhausted and she hurt all over, but she couldn't rest yet. She didn't even trust herself to sit down at the moment. She had hurry up and chase after Touya... that Arcana before it got too far ahead, and it didn't look like she was going to have any help either.

"You're going to have to do it alone this time, Sakura-chan," The Hanged Man said apologetically when she turned an appraising look on him, "The others have to stay here and help your friends and I wouldn't be any good against Strength. Fate and raw elemental power don't really go good together. But," He leaned down and picked up Syaoran's sword, offering it to her hilt first, "You should take this at least."

"It's Li-kun's, I couldn't possibly-" Sakura stuttered out.

"Hey! I'm going too!" Kero-chan yelled, fluttering his wings in agitation.

"No, you're not," The Hanged Man glared balefully down at Kero-chan, his eyes darkening to an almost black, "You don't have the strength to keep up with your Mistress and frankly, I find your attempts to hide your weakness annoying."

The High Priestess smiled sweetly at her 'brother' while The Magician simply ignored them all and continued to heal Tomoyo's arm. Sakura and Tomoyo just stared at The Hanged Man in shocked suprise; they had never really seen him with any other mood than happy and mischievous. Kero-chan, on the other hand, humphed, seemingly cowed when he finally bit out a "Fine."

"That's wasn't so hard, now was it?" The Hanged Man asked gaily, his cheer returning as he wrapped a still stunned Sakura's fingers around the hilt of Syaoran's sword. "There we go. You're all set."

"But-," Sakura protested, trying to get a word in edgewise as she shook off her shock from his outburst.

"You really ought to hurry, she's going to leave you behind if you don't," The Hanged Man interrupted her as he began to push her out of the room.

"But-" Sakura glanced around the room one last time as she was pushed into the hallway. She didn't want to leave the others like this, even if he was right. Surely there was something she could do for them.

"Be careful, Sakura-chan," Tomoyo murmured worriedly, waving listlessly. That wasn't what she wanted to say, she couldn't understand why she wasn't protesting any as Sakura-chan was hustled out of the room. She didn't think Sakura-chan should go off alone at all. Why couldn't she say anything? All she seemed to be able to do was watch as her best friend was forced to leave her behind. What was wrong with her?

"Sakura," The Hanged Man stopped once they were at the door, his voice soft yet commanding as he lifted her chin up, "There are some things you must do on your own. They cannot help you now and you cannot help them. Strength judges you only on your own merit. You can only conquer her when you are alone."

"Oh," Sakura breathed out shakily. She didn't like the sound of that, but it made a terrible sort of sense to her tired mind. "I see... I guess."

"Don't worry," he smiled down at her, giving her a gentle poke on the nose, "I'm sure you'll do fine."

"I... I hope you're right," she whispered quietly, gazing longingly towards the living room before turning and opening the front door.

"I'm always right," he muttered quietly under his breath, scowling as he watched her head out, "Though sometimes I wish I weren't."

You would have been happier.


Ugh, that was unpleasant to write. *sighs* Don't worry, there is actually going to be some, er, exposition about the happenings in this chapter in the next. It's just... this one was getting long enough as is. ^^;;

Next: Two Arcana for the price of one! Hoe, where am I?