Broken Wings, Faded Dreams
Completion Date: Prior to 2001
Content Warning: Really, really bad stuff lies ahead. This is a very darkfic, if you can't stand the thought of skewed perceptions, insanity, blatant killings and ect. please don't venture any further.
Spoiler Warning: After the Sakura Cards storyline... if you have no idea what I'm talking about and don't want to be spoiled, please don't venture any further.
This story is all Ammadeau's fault for goading me on in a chatroom with all the horrible, nasty things I could possibly do to the CCS cast. On the other hand, the completion of this fic is all Kathy and Sakka-chan's fault for sending me "I LOVE THIS FIC!" messages whenever I sent them new parts. You guys are sadistic... I adore you.
She should leave soon.
The blood spattered on the walls had already dried and was starting to flake off. The dark red puddles on the floor were starting to congeal. Rigor mortis was finally beginning to set in.
But she was a tiny, delicate fairy caught up in an inescapable amber cage of her own making. She was fascinated, enthralled by the feel of the woman's body cooling beneath her fingertips. It was almost as cold as she was inside.
But not quite.
A glacier-cold smile, capable of dazzling any man with its frigid quality, curved her lips upward. After taking one last, nonchalant look at her most recent victim, she rose fluidly from her crouch.
She was a portrait of of beauty frozen in youth. Her creamy white skin encased in tight black velvet with wafting skirt-tails and sleeves of cool midnight-blue silk. Her once-upon-a-time best friend would have swooned at the vision of perfection she had produced with such simple material. But then she hadn't seen the girl in years, so what did it matter?
The darkly colored costume might have had an innocent appeal, had it not been for the garters straps holding up the black stockings. Not that it mattered really either way; Kinomoto Sakura hadn't been innocent in years.
Checking herself over in her victim's mirror, Sakura looked for any possible bloodstains. Her skill had increased exponentially in the last few years. So much so, that it would take an act of the gods themselves for her alabaster skin to be stained by another's crimson blood much less her own blood, but it was always better to be safe than sorry.
Finding nary a lock of golden hair out of place, she smiled and shattered her reflection with a flick of her finger. The mirror shards tinkled musically as they cascaded down onto the colored tile floor. Such a lovely sound.
Smiling still, Sakura began to hum a careless tune as she swiftly stepped over the body of the eldest Li sister and headed towards the balcony doors. The merest of thoughts summoned up a strong wind current that carried her up into the Hong Kong night sky and far away from the dead woman's apartment.
The morning sun glittered brilliantly down onto the bay from a clear, blue sky. Touya didn't care much for it. It was too bright, too annoying. He sighed, crossed his arms and leaned back against the bench seat. Why they had to take a boat ride to get from one end of Hong Kong to the other was beyond him. And why they had agreed to come to this godawful city in the first place was baffling.
Scorning the magnificent view across the bay water, Touya glanced over at the man seated before him. It was amazing really, Yukito looked the same as he had the last time they had come to Hong Kong. His short hair was still that strange grayish-white. His eyes were still a mercurial liquid gold hidden behind impossibly thick glasses. The only real difference was that he had actually smiled back then.
The little stuffed animal, looking like some deranged cross between a lion and a teddy bear, curled up in Yukito's lap hadn't been there the last time though. Well, he had, but not where people could actually see him.
Touya scowled. Yukito refused to look at him, refused to be drawn into any sort of normal interaction. The blonde's contemplation of the Hong Kong skyline was, of course, far more important than acknowledging Touya's gaze, much less his very presence.
It wasn't anything new, this 'everything's fine as long as we ignore it' game. They were both veteran players and quite skilled at it; both quite used to the pain it always caused. After all, there were other, far more agonizing wounds to live with.
Touya's eyes slid off to the side, his gaze leaving his one-time friend, now bitter companion, falling instead upon the young, black haired man who sat beside Yukito reading an old, leather-bound book. Eriol. The reincarnation of Clow who supposedly had seen, and thus could predict, the future.
Spinel was curled up in Eriol's lap, studiously reading the book along with his ambivalent master. Touya smirked. The little toy cat was going to have one hell of a neck ache by the time they reached the other side of the bay.
Eriol reached up to adjust his glasses. His dark eyes met Touya's own for a second's time before returning once more to the book. At least Eriol was a bit friendlier than Yukito. Not by much, though.
Touya's gaze moved on, ignoring the thing seated next to Eriol. Nakuru was still as disgustingly genki as ever. Touya felt only supreme disgust at its presence.
Tomoyo sat on the edge of his bench, next to the aisle. Her white-gloved hands were crossed primly in her lap. Her eyes stared vacantly forward, as they always did nowadays. A blink every now and then would inform those around her that she was still actually breathing, but beyond that she was just a living statue. Oh, she was in there, it was just an extremely rare occurrence for her to come out of her shell anymore.
Kaho, seated between him and Tomoyo, was much the same. But instead of staring forward, her eyes were closed... as if she truly believed that if she couldn't see it, it wasn't real. Once upon a time, she thought she could see the future and predict it as well.
Life had such a wonderfully macabre way of proving one's beliefs dead wrong.
Kaho and Eriol's beliefs, that the happy future they had envisioned was the real one. Tomoyo's belief, that she would always be blissfully happy with her beloved best friend. His own belief, that he'd be able to protect his little sister and be there to watch her grow out of her pint-sized monster syndrome into a beautiful, wonderful woman.
They had all been horridly wrong. After all, without Sakura's vividly cheerful presence to make them real, each false belief had shattered irrevocably under the bitter knowledge of simply being nothing more than an empty fantasy.
Without Sakura, life had become rather barren and empty for every single one of them. The light and warmth in each of their individual lives had been sucked out with her mysterious disappearance.
It was no surprise that Touya found himself scorning the dazzlingly brilliant sunlight of a simple summer's day. It didn't have the power to warm his soul anymore.
Sighing soundlessly, Touya wrenched himself away from his bittersweet musing. At least one of them needed to be rooted enough in the here and now to comprehend whatever might happen or what might be said at the upcoming meeting with the Head of the Li Clan.
The letter, though excruciatingly brief, had hinted at knowledge of Sakura's location. That, of course, was the only reason he had agreed to come to Hong Kong once again. The others, upon being informed of the letter's contents, had insisted on coming as well. No surprise there either.
Touya seriously doubted that the arrival of the nondescript envelope and its rather intriguing contents on the day of his father's funeral was pure coincidence. As Eriol was wont to point out, there was no such thing as a true coincidence, especially when the Li clan was involved.
Shortly after Sakura's disappearance, his father had simply begun to fade away, as if he had no longer wished to be. Fujitaka's health had steadily deteriorated to the point where even Sonomi, who had still raved about how his very existence was a curse of the blackest nature, had started to voice her own somewhat reluctant concern.
Unfortunately, Fujitaka's malaise had been one of the soul, a bone deep weariness which had no cure. The last day of winter, he had transferred his magic to Touya while his son lay sleeping. In the morning, the sakura had bloomed, heralding the first day of spring, and Kinomoto Fujitaka was dead.
Shockingly enough, Sonomi had actually been reduced to tears when she had been given the awful news. Tomoyo, in an extremely rare moment of true coherence, had informed Touya that her mother, of course, mourned the loss of someone who her beloved Nadeshiko had loved. Whatever hard feelings Sonomi might have had about the marriage, ultimately they didn't matter. Nadeshiko had loved Fujitaka, and that was all that really did matter in the end.
It had been after the ceremonies, after the cremation and after the many visitors, who had come to express their heartfelt regrets and honor his father's passing, had left. It had been then, in the utter silence and loneliness of a now empty house, that it had arrived.
It had arrived along with the rest of the mail; a small cream-colored envelope addressed to Kinomoto Touya in flowing black ink. A letter of condolence from yet another well wisher, he had thought at the time.
Touya had not wanted to open it.
He had left it, unopened, sitting beside the phone on the hall table. But, as the day had worn on into late afternoon and then into the early evening, an odd feeling had started to nag at him each time he had walked down the hallway and past the table. It had been a feeling of unease, the type that felt as if something were trying to crawl up his spine. The specific type of feeling that comes over a person when they're trying their best to not think about something that had the potential to utterly terrify them.
That unnerving feel had grown every single time he had walked past the little hall table. It had grown until it had finally driven him into opening the innocuous envelope just to prove whatever it was that was bugging him wrong. Unfortunately for him, it hadn't.
The contents of the envelope had been a letter, which had albeit briefly confirmed his suspicions of it being some form of condolences. But the words that flowed across the small, white rectangle of rice paper, obviously written by the same hand that had addressed the envelope and in the very same dullish black ink, had been a far cry from anything that he had been expecting.
The letter had simply read:
It has come to our attention that we of the Li Clan
might share a certain concern with you in particular.
Information has come to us in regards to a Kinomoto
Sakura, one who is your younger sister. In the event
that you should find interest in our knowledge, we
ask that you visit our Hong Kong residence at your
The Li Clan
Earliest convenience... yeah right. Touya had wanted to jump on the very next flight out to Hong Kong. But his better sense had managed to restrain all the half-cocked ideas that had cropped up at this news. As much as he wanted to find Sakura, as much as he wanted to see her and talk to her and just hold on to his little sister and to never let go, he knew that something wasn't right about this. It was just too convenient; the timing, the information... everything about it seemed too well-planned. He didn't know why, but somehow he got the feeling that it had all been set up. But why and for what reason?
He would go. There had been no doubt about that. If there was even the slightest chance of finding Sakura, of seeing her again, he would take it and damn any of the consequences. But, a part of him, the part of him that wasn't ruled by his emotions, had insisted on taking the others with him, and he had reluctantly agreed with it. Something just wasn't right about this.
The others reactions to the news had been... somewhat different than Touya had expected them to be. But in the end, the differences hadn't been all that surprising either.
Yukito had stared stonily at him and had simply asked, "When are we leaving?" There had been a slight tension in his friend ever since then, though. A slight crack in the emotionless mask he wore to hide himself from the world, and a fragile brittleness evident in his golden gaze.
Kerberus had nodded sagely at the news. The twitching of his tufted tail had been the only visible evidence of his gleeful excitement at the thought of seeing Sakura once more.
Kaho had smiled, a real genuine smile for once. She had muttered a few things about packing and getting the plane tickets. Then she had asked him absently if she should bring anything for Sakura-chan and would he please pick her up on his way to the airport. After hearing his answers to each, she had calmed herself and quietly returned to her daily meditation.
She had obviously been of the mind that all would go well and that they'd all be returning to Japan with his little sister in tow. He wasn't quite sure just what it was, but for some unfathomable reason, Touya just hadn't been able to bring himself into voicing his reservations about the entire thing to Kaho and ruin it for her.
Eriol had been and was still suspicious about the whole thing. He did not trust the Li Clan. He had never trusted that side of his family and there was no chance in hell, much less anywhere else, that he ever would trust them even in the slightest. They never did anything unless it gained something substantial for the clan; be it power, wealth or something else entirely. They had to be up to something, he had been dead certain of that.
Spinel had been rather unfazed at the news. The little toy cat had never really seemed to be bothered much about the whole thing, so it wasn't much of a surprise. That didn't mean Touya had to like Spinel's reaction though. In fact, he had very much wanted to throw the damned cat out the window and forget it had ever existed, but somehow he had managed to restrain himself. He supposed it was because he had gotten used to ignoring Spinel's non-reaction.
Touya had let Eriol handle the task of informing Nakuru. He hadn't trusted himself not to do bodily damage to it if he hadn't liked its reaction.
Tomoyo's reaction had been perhaps the most surprising. Touya wasn't certain whether it had been her reaction that had surprised him the most or if it hadn't simply been the fact that there had been a reaction at all.
Touya had decided that it would have been an extremely bad idea to take Tomoyo with them to Hong Kong, but had been forced by a nagging guilty conscience into going and telling her about their impending trip. The visit had seemed quite normal to begin with.
He had gone over to the Daidouji house, saying his 'hello's to the staff on his way to Tomoyo's room. They had become quite used to his sporadic visits over the years, to the point where some of the bodyguards would crack a smile at him every now and then. Nothing really out of the ordinary in that regard, he was practically the only person Tomoyo had spoken to since Sakura's disappearance, even if it had just been that one time to explain her mother's grief. For them, that little reaction from her had been something and they were always hoping she would do so again.
She had sat silently, as usual, at the round, wooden table in the center of the room. Its surface was barren of anything, simply empty as was just about everything else in her bedroom. Before Sakura's disappearance, the room had been filled with pretty things, things that all little girls should have: beautiful dolls, cute little stuffed toys, bright pictures to decorate her walls, delicate lace and poufy bows to add that pretty little touch to anything and everything in sight.
All of these things were gone now. All of her pretty things, her precious things had gone the way of most everything else in her life. Tomoyo had systematically removed and abandoned them all after news of Sakura's disappearance had reached her.
Her empty blue eyes had stared forward, unfocused and never seeming to really see anything at all, as he had quietly said a weak hello and sat down in the little wooden chair across from her. Touya had hesitantly smiled at her; it had been the same bittersweet smile that he always wore whenever he had gone over to visit his baby sister's best friend. It had become a ritual of sorts over the years. He would say hello to her, sit down across the table from her and smile and Tomoyo would simply ignore him like she had ignored everything else in her life since then. It was always the same... or at least, it had seemed that way.
The minutes had ticked away as Touya had babbled on about anything and everything except the reason he had been there that day. The hours had waned on until dusk had started to paint the sky in vivid purples and shadowed indigos. He had done his best to avoid it, but in the end had known that he would have to say something to her about it. Hesitantly, as if the words and his throat had belonged to a stranger and not himself, he had told her of the letter he had received and what he had planned to do about it.
Touya still wasn't quite certain when it had started. It had happened somewhere during the mention of the letter's arrival and before he had gone off into the supposed plans for the trip to Hong Kong. Perhaps it had been at the first mention of the Li family, or maybe it had been afterwards. Either way, it had been sometime during his discourse that Tomoyo had begun to curl her long, thin fingers up beneath her palms. Her fingernails had lightly scraped against the wooden tabletop as she had slowly drawn them up into tight little fists.
After outlining a tentative plan out what they were going to do when they got to Hong Kong, Touya had trailed off into leaden silence. It was then, in the lengthening pause, that he had finally noticed Tomoyo's reaction to his news. His eyes had widened in surprise as she had tilted her head off to the side, the skin around the corners of her eyes crinkling ever so slightly in thought. The index finger of her right hand had snaked out from within the grasp of the others and begun to tap a whimsical rhythm against the tabletop.
Seconds had seemed like minutes as they had ticked by with only the eerie tapping to accompany them. But finally, just when he had begun to think that it would go on forever, the tapping had stopped. Tomoyo's finger had hovered in mid-air, as still as solid stone with nary even a quiver, before she had neatly tucked it back in with the other. A moment later, she had tilted her head back and blinked at him, her eyes instantly deepening with intelligence and emotion. She had looked straight at him, her lips curving up into a tiny smile. And then, she had spoken in a voice whisper-light from none-use, to ask him when we would be leaving for Hong Kong.
It had taken a few days more to finalize everything. As much as Touya and the others might have wanted it, they couldn't just hop on a plane and fly off to another country. Necessary forms had to be filled out and checks had to made. Fortunately, Tomoyo had insisted upon all of said paperwork being handed over to some of her mother's employees and Touya was thankful for all their sakes. During it all, Tomoyo would actually answer to any questions directed to her involving the trip to Hong Kong. Unfortunately, she still ignored most everything else. But finally, everything was out of the way and all that had been left was informing the Li family of his, and the others, arrival date and time.
Touya mentally shook himself out of his reverie as the Li family house came into view. A servant of the family had met them at the docks and had proceeded to guide them through the markets. They had gone past bird street with all it's bittersweet memories and through the wooded streets of the older residences. Through it all, Touya had latched onto the memories of all the preparations it had taken to get here, as if they would keep out the older memories he had of Hong Kong when he had been there with her and the others. It had worked somewhat, thankfully.
The front door opened just as they reached the first shallow step of the white columned stairs leading up to it. A tall, thin young woman gracefully stepped out past it and bowed to them in welcome. She wore a long, white chinese dress, remarkably absent of any patterned decorations. Her shiny black hair was pinned back into an intricate bun with several wisps flowing down to tickle the nape of her neck. She neither smiled, nor frowned at them. In fact, she showed absolutely no visible indication of emotions at all.
Tomoyo stepped forward from the group as the woman straightened up. She bowed in return and actually smiled. "Hello Meiling. It's good to see you again."
Meiling blinked and tilted her head slightly, but that was all. "Daidouji-san." She stepped off to the side of the doorway and gestured towards the hallway that lay just beyond the entrance. "This way please."
She lead them through the sprawling house and into a sunroom that had an excellent view of the back. There, she bid them stay awhile and excused herself, saying that she would return shortly with tea. They seated themselves in silence on flower patterned couches and waited patiently. Though Eriol was obviously keeping a suspicious eye out for anything that might seem out of the ordinary, Touya refrained from prompting him on it. In Touya's opinion, it was best not to ask when the answer would most likely be unsettling.
Several minutes passed, the sun began its descent down into dusk as they studiously ignored one another. Meiling soon returned carrying a silver tray laden with a steaming teapot, its companion cups, thin wafer biscuits, crumbly cookies and white, square napkins. But she was not alone; with her came a tall statuesque woman of pale porcelain skin and long, inky black hair. She was dressed in white, ornate robes and her hair was caught up in a strange golden ornament. All in all, it was pretty much the same that she had worn years ago when Touya had first met her.
The Head of the Li Clan and the mother of that brat bowed ever so slightly in greeting and then seated herself gracefully upon an elaborately patterned chair off to the side. Meiling served up tea for them all, including the little stuffed toys, then bowed to the Head and excused herself once more.
The clicking of the door as Meiling closed it behind her had an almost sound of finality to it in Touya's ears. Something here, now, was spooking him unlike anything had ever done before, and yet he couldn't figure out what it was. Schooling himself to be as calm as he could manage, Touya looked up and met the serene, yet stern gaze of their host.
She nodded ever so slightly in acknowledgment and spoke in a frigidly calm yet musical tone. "I must thank you for coming on such short notice. I'm afraid that the situation has gone far beyond dire."
Touya blinked, his confusion showing as he parroted, "... situation?"
She cocked one of her elegant eyebrows in what could almost be read as condescension. "It began with the fire that claimed my only son's life..."
Meiling quietly made her way down the central hallway of the Li residence and into the kitchens. A negligent wave of her slim hand sent the attending servants scurrying off to find something to do that was as far away from her as possible. They knew this as a sign that she wished for absolute privacy; she had gone to extensive lengths in the past to illustrate that point. Slowly, she made her way past the ovens and other kitchen machinery, until at last her feet came to a stop before the small door situated on the back wall: the servants' entrance. The door was propped open, allowing a slight breeze to waft in and cool the vast room beyond. A bedraggled screen door which had been installed long before she was born into the Li clan, was the only barrier between her and the deepening shadows of dusk.
She stared disconsolately out at the darkening sky with a half lidded gaze. For quite some time, she simply stood there and continued to stare out at seemingly nothing. But finally, the last few rays of sunlight disappeared over the horizon and the sky truly began to darken into nightfall. As if it were a cue of some sort, she reached up and calmly began to unbutton her dress, starting with the collar and working her way down.
When the last button was free of the dress's slick, white material, she swiftly pulled it off to reveal another dress of sorts beneath. It was a hip-length, short sleeved dress made of a cream colored material with a simple yin/yang sign emblazoned over the chest. It was somewhat reminiscent of the battle garb she had worn years before. It had been a nostalgic time then, one that she only allowed herself to wistfully remember when she was sure she had no onlookers.
Sighing ever so silently, Meiling tossed the white dress off to the side with one hand and pushed the screen door open with the other. She gracefully stepped outside, silently closing the door shut behind her. For a moment's time she stood within the light filtering out through the kitchen doorway. Then, she turned resolutely and melted into the inky darkness beyond.
It was a eerily silent night. The birds, and... the insects were unusually silent, as if they too knew of the oddness that could not be felt, but was there nonetheless. Meiling shivered as she carefully moved out in the brush that surrounded the grounds. It was too quiet, too still. The wind itself had even died once she had entered the darkness. It all combined to create a terribly foreboding atmosphere. But it was no less than she had expected.
Her deliberate steps slowed and then finally halted as she reached the edge of a clearing some distance away from the main building. A body lay within the clearing, as if it were a ragdoll that had been carelessly tossed there. The body was that of a burly man, one of the many bodyguards who worked in shifts around the perimeter of the family's residence. A slight glistening of blood, still dripping onto the grass covered ground below, showed plainly that the deathblow had only recently been dealt.
Stepping out from beneath the shadowy cover of the trees and into the clearing beyond, she gazed around at the miniature forest that now surrounded her. Not finding what she was searching for, or perhaps growing impatient, Meiling calmly called out to seemingly no one at all, "You can come out now. I know you're there."
A soft rustling of leaves behind her was swiftly followed by a familiar musical voice that sent shivers up her spine. "It's been quite a while... hasn't it, Meiling?"
Meiling whirled around, only to find herself drowning within a glittering, unearthly emerald gaze.
"And that is why I have summoned you here." The Li shifted slightly in her seat as her explanation finally came to an end. She gracefully picked up her cup of tea and brought it to her lips, taking a meager sip of the tepid liquid. Her guests stared at her in varying states of aghast horror and absolute confusion.
It was Eriol who came to his wits first, but it was Touya who burst out with the rather unbelievable question that was on all of their minds. "And you think my little sister is responsible?!?"
The Li calmly set her teacup back down and coolly met Touya's disbelieving stare. "Without a doubt. Kinomoto Sakura has been systematically murdering every single member of the Li clan, my family," she firmly stated, her eyes only narrowing at the very end to emphasize her point.
Kaho shook her head in abject disbelief, hotly objecting to the very notion, "Sakura isn't like that. She's not a killer."
"She is now." The Li stated just as firmly as before, in that same flat tone.
"I don't believe you," Kaho replied instantly.
The Li blinked as she wearily folded her hands together over her lap. "Believe what you like. You will soon see the truth for yourself."
Touya's eyes narrowed, his brows beginning to knit together in niggling suspicion. "What do you mean by that?"
Sakura smiled cynically, her eyelids sliding down to hide the glowing emerald fires of her eyes for but a moment... just a single moment, but long enough to break the spell they appeared to have cast upon Meiling. When she opened them again, her smile took on the qualities of a sneer.
"Y~yes." Meiling previous resolve faded somewhat in light of the fires that burned visibly within the other's eyes. She had known magic had been used in most of the deaths, but she had simply assumed Sakura had been using the Clow cards in her massacres. She had obviously been wrong. Indeed, the magic seemed to be internalized somehow... that would be difficult...
There was more to it though. Beneath the magic flames, there burned things that were far more dangerous. Things that were quite deadly even on their own. Rage... insanity... bitter knowledge... and the truth... Meiling wanted to know... needed to know...
Blinking as she pushed her thoughts back into some semblance of order, Meiling continued, "It has been awhile." This time there was no catch in her voice, nothing to indicate how unsettled she still was.
"Ah," Sakura's sneer slid back into a lazy smile as she studied the young woman before her with a calculating gaze. She tilted her head to the side questioningly and asked, "Was there something you wanted?"
"Yes, actually, there is..." Meiling trailed off into silence. How to proceed without offending the insane. It was a rather insane prospect all on its own. Meiling blinked in confusion, her thoughts coming to a stuttering halt again as her eyes finally picked up something that appeared awfully strange even in the dark. "... your hair?"
"Eh?" Sakura reached up, brushing her fingertips against the trailing edges of her golden hair. She laughed as she did so, the sound of her voice turning cold and brittle. "It was scorched in the fire. When it grew back in it was blonde. I don't mind though, it's like a memory..." The fires in her eyes hardened and cooled as she spoke, their flames turning instantly into emerald chips of ice, "...it will never go away."
Silence descended upon them as Sakura walked past Meiling. To Meiling it felt like the very air itself froze in the other's wake. Sakura gave the body sprawled out in the clearing a negligent flick of her eyes before whirling around and carelessly seating herself upon it. Her smile returned once more, but it did not effect the glittering ice present in her eyes. "Was that all? Surely not..."
Meiling wrapped her arms around herself, steeling herself for whatever may come as she asked, "What happened?"
Sakura's eyes flashed incandescent as they narrowed into slits. The actual temperature in the clearing plummeted to below freezing as she scowled darkly at Meiling. "Don't you know?," she asked bitterly, the air before her lips misting into little puffs.
"The truth? No." Meiling stared down at Sakura intently. She had come this far, she wasn't going to leave without knowing. "I want to know. And... you're the only one who does know."
"No, there is one other... but she'll certainly be following the rest of your family shortly." Sakura smiled impishly as Meiling visibly stiffened at that. "You really want to know?"
"Yes." It was almost as cold as Sakura, Meiling was rather proud of herself for that.
"You're not going to like it... you probably won't even believe me," Sakura smirked, crossing her legs primly for the duration. "But alright..."
Sakura closed her eyes as she gathered the bitter memories of that night up into something resembling order. They were always there of course, always at the forefront of her mind's eye... but they did tend to get unglued at times... out of order... sometimes it was hard to think at all. Sighing, she immersed herself within them and began, "I was trying to get to sleep..."
It had been nearly an hour since Sakura had settled into bed. But as the minutes had slowly ticked by, she had simply lain there and stared up in the darkness at the ceiling. Kero had started snoring shortly after the lights had gone off. It hadn't bothered her much though, she had had too much on her mind.
It had just been the afternoon before, when he had said... had told her... that he liked her best. Even hours later, Sakura had still been blushing a deep crimson as she had gone over each and every vivid detail again and again. Why did he decide to tell her then? How long had he known? ... Had he known back then that he liked her? How had she missed it?
All the time she had spent pining over Yukito and he'd never said a word, just offered his shoulder for her to cry on. Sakura had restlessly rolled over at that train of thought, curling her legs up closer to her. At least for her, Yukito hadn't even been so obviously gone on someone... not the way that she had been...
Did she like him that way though? She had always thought of him as a friend, somebody who had always been there for her... but like that... she wasn't sure. She wasn't sure of much of anything anymore... She would figure it out though. Until then, she would be just as genki as she could... so he wouldn't worry so much about her like he always did... She could do that at least... for him...
It had been sometime during those last few thoughts when Sakura had finally drifted off to sleep. Even from the beginning though, her sleep had not been anywhere near peaceful. She had begun to dream of Tomoeda and it had frightened her worse than ghosts... worse than anything she had ever felt before. She had walked in silence down the night painted streets, a feeling of dread and terror and pain growing within her with each and every step she had taken. Just when it had felt like it could not get any worse, she had come to a stop. She had looked up then, her eyes rising up to take in the building that stood silent and dark before her... the apartment building where he lived.
Her eyes had automatically focused on one particular balcony, one particular door... somehow Sakura had known it was his... even though it wasn't quite so easy to tell in the dark. As if that had been a cue of some sorts, images had begun to flash within her mind and she could hear him... and her terror had grown even more...
In her mind's eye, Sakura had watched him walk home after he had told her that...
She had watched as he had unlocked the door to his apartment...
She had seen the visitor who had been waiting for him...
Sakura had felt his surprise. She had watched with him as his mother had risen, his sword held within his mother's grasp...
"Syaoran, it has gone on long enough."
She had felt the panic beginning to well up within him at those words... she hadn't understood what was happening... but she had known, even as the building terror had reached a screeching crescendo within her soul... this wasn't right... this was wrong... everything was wrong... she had been awash in fear and pain as his mother had taken a step towards him... and then darkness had descended upon her... she had screamed... tried to scream...
... and had awoke to find herself sitting up in her bed, sweat pouring off of her in rivulets and her mouth still open in a silent scream. Slowly, she had looked around, noting that she had thankfully not woken Kero-chan up. She hadn't been quite sure how she would have been able to explain this feeling... to him...
The terror had still been there, tightening around her heart and encasing her chest within a sickeningly dull pain until she had been afraid she wouldn't be able to breathe for it. It had just been a dream, hadn't it? She had asked herself this even as she had carefully climbed up out of bed. Panic had begun to beat against the confines of her mind as she had silently picked up the Sakura Cards and quietly slipped out of her room.
The panic in her mind had joined with the terror in her heart as she had swiftly made her way down the stairs and out the front door. They had swirled around within her, overpowering each other in waves and becoming a cacophony of dread that had driven her desperately through the night-shadowed streets. It had dogged her very heels even as the pat-pat-patter of her bare feet against the cool pavement below had become the only sound to intrude upon her senses.
With barely a need for coherent thought to drive them forward, Sakura's feet had taken the very same path in their mad dash as they had taken in her dream. But unlike her dream, she hadn't stopped to glance up at the building before her. Instead, she had taken the steps two or three at a time until she had found that door... his door...
It had been then that she had finally come to a halt. Her breath had come in pained gasps; one right after the other until they blended together and it had felt she would never be able to catch it again. Her heart had felt like it would beat its way out of her chest as she had reached forward, taking the doorknob within her grasp.
As her fingers touched the cool metal, images had leaped up within her mind just as they had during her dream. But unlike her dream, these images had been crisper... sharper...
"Where's Meiling?" he had asked as he had leaned back against the apartment door.
No emotions had shown upon his mother's face as the woman had stood before him. "She is already on her way home. She is not privy to this, nor will she ever have any knowledge of it."
He had crossed his arms and had frowned at that. "And just what is this?"
"You do not need to ask," his mother had replied coolly. "The elders have been more than lenient concerning your failure to obtain the Clow Cards. They had been more than willing to allow you to marry the girl into the family and thus obtain the cards at a later date. The cards' recent transformations have changed that entirely."
"Failure has always demanded a harsh punishment in our clan. You knew this. Be grateful that it is I to deliver it and not one of the others."
"I am not quite ready to die just yet, Mother." His very stance had belligerently shown that he would not bow down to his family's, and most especially not to his mother's, will as he had always done so before.
Her eyes had narrowed ever so slightly at his words. "What we wish is of no consequence. Honor demands its price."
The cool metal had burned beneath Sakura's hand as she had turned the knob and pushed the door open. Her eyes had widened shock at the scene revealed beyond, one that not even her dream could have envisioned up for her.
Tendrils of glittering white had hung heavily from the ceiling and the walls, appearing almost as if a giant spider had weaved a web within the small spaces of the apartment beyond. They had burned on contact, cutting razor-thin slashes into Sakura's fingers when she had attempted to touch them. She had summoned forth the star staff and the Sword card as she had slowly made her way within.
The terror, the dread, the panic and all the things she had been feeling before had fled at the end of the last vision. Instead, they had left a soul-chilling numbness in their wake as she had slashed her way within. Her mind had been unnaturally clear, her thoughts easily determining the 'webbing' as some type of magic used by his mother... most likely to prevent any possible escape on his part...
It had been when she had cut down another mass of glistening white thread, revealing the entrance to his bedroom that her mind had come to a stuttering halt. Slowly, only then truly dreading what she would find, Sakura had looked down. Red droplets had spattered across her bare feet from where she had stepped within the crimson pools that had littered the floor below.
A few feet in front of her, a small drop of blood fell from the ceiling to join the pool below.
Slowly, ever so slowly, Sakura's gaze had risen from the pool below until she at last had looked above her and had discovered her treasured reality shattered... only to be replaced by a nightmare...
It had been later, she wasn't quite sure how much later even now, that she had finally come back to find herself cradling his body within her lap as she had silently sat within the congealing pools of crimson pain. She had slowly brushed her hand across his silken brown hair, feeling his skin cool beneath her fingertips. The multitude of tear tracks down her cheeks had just been starting to dry...
Tearing her gaze from him, she had looked up in the direction she vaguely remembered having thrown the star staff and her cards. She had glared heatedly at them as she had viciously begun to whisper, "Help me... do something... anything to help, damn you... what good are you if you can't help me when I need you the most... help me!"
And then, the first spark had ignited...
"That is what happened." Sakura stated simply as she opened her eyes, the emerald fires within them raging once again in counterpoint to the fires burning within her memories still. She watched the young woman standing frozen in disbelief before her and waited.
Meiling stood there for several minutes, just staring back numbly at Sakura. Finally, as if coming back from a great distance, she blinked and shivered. "Impossible... I can't believe... she wouldn't..." She turned, looking back in the direction of the Li household. Seconds passed by until she sighed in defeat and stated flatly, "She would."
"She could, would and did," Sakura singsonged and laughed. Rising swiftly, she walked across the clearing until she was standing directly beside Meiling. "I'm almost finished though."
Turning to face Meiling, Sakura smiled gaily, "For taking away what I treasured most, I've taken away what the Li clan treasures most... one by one. All that's left now is you and her," Sakura scowled at the last bit and looked off towards the house.
"What you treasured most..." Meiling whispered quietly as she looked over at a once more smiling Sakura. Reaching out hesitantly, she lightly grasped Sakura's shoulder, "I'm sorry... I miss him too..."
Snarling silently, Sakura wrenched herself away from the girl who had once been a friend and a rival. Staring darkly at the stands of trees that barred her view on the house beyond, she spoke. "Go away Meiling, go far away. You don't have to be a part of this particular play. Go live a nice life and forget everything about this." So said, Sakura took a step forward and found herself barred by the one she had tried to warn off.
"Forget it, Sakura!" Meiling spat out savagely. "I'm not that stupid. I know how this ends. I won't let you leave me behind. You are not leaving me alone!" She yelled as she slid into a defensive stance.
Sakura's eyes narrowed into fiery slits, "Fine, be that way."
The heated argument going on in the sunroom had already died down to a chill silence some time ago. The Li refused to give out anymore information than she already had and her visitors refused to believe anything of what she had told them. Though, there was one who did believe some of what was said.
The past may have proven that Clow couldn't truly foresee the future in completion, but it didn't prevent Eriol from coming to certain conclusions on his own. Certain circumstances could drive anyone, sane or otherwise, into wanting to kill off an entire family. The Li clan was more than adept into driving other people to extremes. Certainly, there had been instances when Clow had wished that side of his family dead and buried... more than a few.
Finding the lingering silence somewhat annoying, Eriol looked over at the Li and simply asked, "So who did it?"
The Li icily returned his gaze, "Did what?"
"Who did you send to kill Syaoran?" Absently reaching up to adjust his glasses as the others gawked at him, he continued. "Or did you do it yourself?"
The Li responded with steel evident in her voice. "That really isn't any of your concern."
Kaho gaped in horror. In abject revulsion, she reached up and covered her mouth with a shaking hand as she whispered, "You killed your own son?"
Any further discussion was halted by a concussive explosion that shattered the glass windows and rocketed a slim body across the floor. In the resulting chaos, Eriol was the only one who overheard Tomoyo's happy exclamation of "Sakura-chan is here!"
Meiling rolled as she hit the floor, trying to lessen the impact. Still, she slammed hard into the far wall, her vision blurring slightly as she felt two of her ribs give way. Shaking her head slightly to clear it, she looked up and hastily scrambled out of the way as a deluge of magical arrows followed swiftly after her headlong tumble.
She grimaced at the bloody mess that was her right arm, but ignored it as best she could. Unheeding of the others who were just now recovering their wits from the rude 'interruption', Meiling staggered to her feet and darted back out into the magical fires that now raged around the Li household.
Standing admidst the flames of her own making, Sakura calmly waited for what was to come. Smiling cynically, she willed a strand of glittering fire to twirl up and around her arm in a dance of its own making. It was almost over... 'almost over', her mind chorused back to her.
Meiling trudged out into view from behind a wall of flames. She had acquired a limp from her flight and a trail of sizzling crimson drops followed behind her on the pavement below.
Her eyes darted towards the house, easily finding the tall, frantic man who had yelled out her name. He seemed familiar to her... was it... Touya... her older brother?
"Sakura..." She turned her attention back to the bleeding Meiling who was... smiling at her. "This is how we both want it. I promise," Meiling closed her eyes, a tear escaping the confines of her eyelashes to slide down across her cheek. "I'll wait for you at the gate, for as long as I can. Then we'll go see him together."
Sakura gestured, a spike of rock splitting up from the earth below to impale the young Chinese woman straight through the heart. "Goodbye, Meiling."
The fires both within and without raged hotter and higher as she turned her attention to the others. They stood around the shattered windows of the sunroom, staring at her in abject shock and disbelief. Yes, it was almost over.
Humming happily to herself, Tomoyo made her way across the glass covered floor of the sunroom and into the hallway, away from the fires burning outside. She knew the flames would soon claim the house as well, but there was something she had to do before then... something she had to find before she could see dear Sakura-chan again. This was the Li household, so it had to be here somewhere.
She paid scant attention to the servants screaming and yelling and basically doing whatever it took to get away from the nightmare that raged outside. Every now and then, she would step off to the side, allowing them through so they wouldn't impede her search by running into her.
She opened each door to each room she passed by and gave the rooms beyond a cursory look. Swiftly passing all the rooms on the first floor by, she began a meticulous search of the bedrooms on the second floor. It wasn't until she reached what must be the Li's bedroom that she found what she was searching for.
It was perched proudly up on a mantel, the flickering lights coming in through the windows dancing along the mirror-like blade. Reaching up, Tomoyo took it in her hands and finally allowed herself to remember that night.
That particular night...
Tomoyo had spent that afternoon editing film and designing new outfits for Sakura-chan to wear. It had been a pretty productive day. The bodyguards, the maids and her mother had all wished her goodnight as she had finally headed off for bed. She had snuggled deep beneath the covers and had quickly fallen into a deep, peaceful sleep.
It had been much later when she had awoke to the smell of smoke, of something burning in her bedroom. Blearily, she had sat up in bed, wiping at her very tired eyes. What was it? Looking around, she had gone still when her eyes fell upon the small figure standing before her bedroom windows.
It had looked familiar, almost as if it were... "Sakura-chan?"
Sakura had turned at that, the moonlight playing off of the scorched remains of her pajamas and her soot-stained cheeks. Embers had still flared within the girl's hair, burning it into ashes and then into nothing at all. Her eyes had glowed a flickering emerald green as she had smiled. "Tomoyo."
Tomoyo had hastily scrambled out of bed in shocked surprise at the state of her best friend. "Sakura-chan! What happened? You look awful! We should go to the hospital right now!" She had been frantic as she had looked Sakura over for any wounds other than the visible burns.
Sakura had calmly reached out and had taken ahold of Tomoyo's shoulders in an iron grip. Her glittering emerald gaze had bored sternly into Tomoyo's own concerned violet eyes. "I came to say goodbye, Tomoyo."
"Goodbye?" She had parroted in confusion.
Sakura had released her hold then and turned away. "He's dead Tomoyo. His mother killed him for 'failing' to capture the Clow Cards."
She had drawn back away in horror at what her Sakura-chan was saying. "What?"
Sakura had clenched her hands to her chest then and softly whispered. "The cards, they're inside me now. They're going to help me..." She had turned back to face Tomoyo again and had smiled sweetly even as the eerie emerald fire in her eyes had grown brighter. "So goodbye, Tomoyo-chan. Maybe we'll meet again under better circumstances."
Tomoyo had reached out for Sakura then, her voice fading and dying even before she had been able to use it. But Sakura had just smiled sadly at her before whirling around and leaping through the windows.
Falling to her knees, Tomoyo had watched silently as Sakura-chan, her very dear Sakura-chan, had flitted away from her. It was then and only, that the cascade of tears had begun their descent.
Ever since then, she had scarcely paid any attention to the world around her. It didn't matter to her, not in the very least. All that truly mattered to her was the day she would see Sakura-chan again... the day that she would see her Sakura-chan happy again.
She would make sure of that.
Closing her eyes, Sakura smiled sweetly at her audience, "A party, hmm... and me the guest of honor, I assume." Her eyes flared brilliantly as they snapped open. The merest of thoughts and a slight twitching of her wrist summoned forth the Sword card from within. The dull, black sheen of its blade seemed to suck away the flickering light of the fires surrounding its mistress. "I'm truly touched."
She allowed them no quarter, instantly charging towards them at a nigh inhuman speed. They scattered before her... all save one. He gazed back at her with pity and more than a little guilt as she held the tip of her Sword at his throat. Somewhere behind her, she felt his pets transforming in response to the very real threat facing him. Another simple gesture easily called forth the Shield, incasing them both in an impenetrable dome of shimmering blue energy.
She quirked a delicate eyebrow at him and snidely asked, "Always at the root of the problem aren't you, Eriol-kun?"
Slowly, he raised his empty hands, attempting to appear as harmless as possible, "I don't want to fight you, Sakura."
"Who said anything about fighting?" Again Sakura smiled, withdrawing the point of her Sword as she did so. Tilting her head off to the side in wistful contemplation she whispered, "You always liked him didn't you? Maybe even more than liked..."
A faint blush painted the fair skin beneath the rim of his glasses as she continued, "Because of that I won't... but I can't allow you or your pets to interfere either..." Quicker than the eye could see, she darted forward, plunging her Sword between his ribs and just as quickly withdrawing it.
Eriol stared at her in utter shock even as he collapsed from her assault. She still smiled ever so cheerfully as she informed him, "Oh, that won't kill you. It should prove rather painful though and it will keep you out of the way." Bowing respectfully, she backed away and began lowering the Shield. "Goodbye, Eriol."
Dissipating the remains of the Shield with a thought, Sakura swiftly flitted out and away into the fires. An extremely distressed Ruby Moon and a deadly serious Spinel Sun quickly converged upon their wounded master.
A rueful chuckle died in Sakura's throat as Yue and Kerberus descended from the smoke filled sky to surround her. Gauging each of their potential threats in turn, she drawled, "Yeeees?"
Yue studied her with cool, discerning eyes, "Don't you think you've done enough, Sakura?"
"Isn't it time to end this, Sakura-chan?" Kerberus pleaded.
"Quite correct, it is time to end this," Sakura's glittering eyes flickered back and forth between them. "But, I have no intention of stopping one life short... especially when that particular one deserves it the most."
Yue crossed his arms gravely, "We only want to help you, Sakura."
"I don't require any help." She smirked at them as she willed the Sword away, "But you're going to insist, aren't you?"
"I'm afraid so, Sakura." Kerberus answered mournfully.
"I see," Sakura's smirk widened ever so slightly as the dusky smoke from the fires began to wrap around her body. "Before, I could not conquer you with wind alone." She locked eyes with Yue as she raised her hands, the smoke wisps around them beginning to glow an eerie green, "Things have changed." The glittering green smoke swirled around her, coalescing into the form of Windy. "I think you'll find that both of us have changed considerably."
Windy shrieked as she struck out at both guardians with hurricane force winds. The fires guttered and flared around them as both fells back beneath her relentless attacks.
Heading out into the fires once more, Sakura tossed a careless, "Play with them." over her shoulder. Pinned down by Windy's impossibly strong winds, Yue and Kerberus were unable to follow after their mistress.
"And then there were three," Sakura sang out as she eyed Touya, Kaho and that woman through the last few flickering flames. They stared at her in shock as she emerged unscathed from the fires raging around them. Touya seemed truly torn at her appearance, while Kaho could only gaze at her in tear stained sorrow. The Li simply glared at her in hatred, and perhaps a little fear.
An imperceptible flick of her finger sent Wood up through the ground to ensnare both Touya and Kaho. The both struggled against their newly grown bonds, but weren't strong enough to break her magic.
"Sakura, please..." Kaho began to plead.
"Sakura! What are you...?" Touya began desperately along with Kaho.
"Shh," Sakura held her finger up in front of her lips. Silence descended with her will, the crackle of the fires dying along with any arguments Kaho and Touya might have posed to her.
With all of the other players out of the way, Sakura finally turned her attention to the one who destroyed her.... everything. She stared at the Li, her eyes flaring from within with something beyond even hate, "Well?"
His mother stood proudly before Sakura and spoke with steel in her voice, "Do not expect me to bow to you."
"I have never wanted that," Sakura returned. "I wanted you to suffer by losing everything that mattered. It was much easier to do than I had originally thought... when I thought at all."
Sakura smiled charmingly, "But now I simply wish you to die."
"I will not die so easily, " Magic flared up around the last living member of the Li clan as the woman prepared herself for battle.
"I grow tired of all of this," Sakura sighed wearily. "Your death will be far easier than I should allow it to be... but any suffering I give you now will pale in comparison to what I've already delivered."
Sakura waved her hand in finality, the fires easily answering to her summons. They flared higher, engulfing the Li's body before the woman could raise a defense. The woman's screams were short lived, but filled with enough agony to coax a small smile of satisfaction from Sakura's lips, "Dust to dust..."
Minutes passed away into the silence, before Sakura turned her attention to her captives. "And what should I do with you?" She murmured to herself as she stepped forward...
... and screamed in pain as a sword speared through her back and through her chest.
Tomoyo quickly pulled the sword out as Sakura collapsed from the mortal wound. She carefully placed the sword down off to the side and kneeled down beside her friend's prone form. Reverently, she stroked Sakura's golden hair, leaving behind a crimson trail from the deep cuts across each of her wrists.
"Tomoyo?" Sakura coughed weakly, blood seeping out from between her lips.
"It's alright, Sakura-chan. Everything is going to be fine now," Tomoyo whispered as the emerald fires burning within Sakura's eyes began to fade.
The fires raging around the Li household began to gutter and die as the source of their power faded away. Windy dissipated even as she withdrew, her essence following after the mistress she had become one with.
"Sakura-chan can't be happy without what she treasures most. I can't be happy without what I treasure most..." Tomoyo sighed as she collapsed across Sakura's body, her own life trickling out in her desire to follow her best friend. "We'll smile together when we meet Li-kun again... and Meiling will laugh at us... we'll be happy again..."
Tomoyo smiled wearily, closed her eyes and... let herself go...
The original idea for this fic came from reading several fics with the same type of plot device: The Li family seeking out punishment on Syaoran for failing to capture the Clow Cards. None of them seemed to take it to the extreme, so I toyed with the idea but balked at it because I knew next to nothing about Syaoran's mother.
Then I saw the movie. After seeing his mother in action, I can easily see her falling in either direction: being a very dedicated mother who loves her children or being the head of a very cold family where honor matters above all else.
Then I chatted with Ammadeau, both of us gushing over the cuteness of CCS... and then started to wonder what an insane Sakura would be like. One thing led to another... and well you can see the results.
Sakura's insanity is two fold, both foretelling and feeling Syaoran's death at the hands of his mother and having 52 inhuman personalities introduced to her already crumbling psyche when she demanded their help... not a good combination.
Yue, and thus Yukito, is adversely affected by Sakura's subsequent abandonment and becomes more and more alienated from humanity in general and Touya in particular. Kerberus becomes more dependant to his sibling as he simply cannot fathom what happened.
Tomoyo's behavior is a bit different, she not only loses a friend but also the very reason she has based her life on... Sakura's happiness. Without Sakura, she is adrift in a world she has no desire to be a part of. She only wants Sakura's happiness... Sakura will never be happy again in this lifetime...
With the added addition of the Cards, Sakura becomes nigh-all-powerful... all she has to do is think and her will becomes reality. No one has a chance in hell of surviving against her if she decides they're dead... and thus, Syaoran's mother doesn't even have a chance to defend herself.
I hope the final scene didn't disappoint all that much, I wanted it to be in Sakura's and then Tomoyo's point of views only... thus ending up quite anti-climatic. Oh well.
Thanks for reading!