Natsu – Chapter Seven

Title: Natsu
Author:
Kitty Neko
Rating: M
Genre: Romance/Humor
Series: Card Captor Sakura
Pairing: Sakura/Syaoran
Summary: Summer is a time for fun, laughter, and romance. Sakura has had fun and laughter, but now it’s time for romance. There’s only one problem; her best friend likes the same guy. Okay, so that’s not the ONLY problem… AU
Disclaimer: I do not own Card Captor Sakura. I am not making any money off of this story.


Sakura was awake but had yet to open her eyes. The tent was starting to get stuffy in a way that let her know the sun was blaring down on it. There was no denying it – it was morning and time to face the day, along with all the problems that came with it.

Sakura forced her eyes open and came face to face with Syaoran. She was startled because of his proximity but calmed down some when she noticed he was still asleep. Somehow, she felt incredibly lucky at the chance to truly examine him without him knowing.

His dark brown hair was mussed and falling in his face, his natural curl making the ends twist in various directions. His eyelashes were long, his jaw strong. If she looked close enough, she could see a light spattering of freckles across his nose. She reached up a hand to touch them and noticed that his skin was tanned bronze compared to her own. She stopped herself before making contact with his skin and let her hand drop. This really was no good.

It seemed she was falling for him.

That was a scary thought for Sakura who never had to deal with those types of feelings before. Things were doubly confusing because of WHO she was feeling that way for. Syaoran. Her cousin.

Well, he had been her cousin for about ten years now at any rate. Sakura could still remember the first time she’d met him – it was at her uncle’s wedding.

She was so excited at the prospect of having a cousin, especially once she heard he was only a couple months younger than her. She’d heard stories from her friends about the misadventures they had with their cousins. They even looked forward to family events! A cousin was someone you could play with during boring family gatherings, they said. Her seven year old heart practically had palpitations at the prospect. Up until that point, Sakura only had her brother and he was too busy trying to act mature since he had finally reached the double digits in age.

So, when Sakura had seen the small boy dressed smartly in a tux and sending a death glare at her uncle her heart practically dropped to the floor. Not only were his eyes narrowed dangerously, his tiny hands were clenched angrily on the pillow that held the wedding rings. This was definitely not what she expected!

As the wedding march began and the second most beautiful woman she had ever seen in person (her mother being the first, of course) walked down the aisle, Touya whispered the boy’s story in her ear.

Syaoran’s father left shortly after he was born, leaving his mother to raise a new born child all by herself. She was a strong woman, even Sakura could see that. She looked regal and just had an air of superiority about her that was impossible to miss. Her face was stern, but her eyes were kind. Sakura actually thought it was refreshing compared to her mother’s eccentricities. Nadesico had always been a bit… strange.

Still, Touya continued, that meant Syaoran had been raised exclusively by his mother and was unusually attached to her. Thus, he had quite a bit of animosity for his new step father.

“Mama’s boy,” Touya explained, chortling. Even then, Sakura though that was bit rich coming from her brother. A case of the pot calling the kettle black, as it were. Nadesico had the tendency to dote on her son and Touya wasn’t exactly begging her to stop. Still, Touya was quite a bit bigger than her and she hadn’t yet figured out that he wouldn’t beat her up, so she bit her tongue. It would take her a couple more years to discover that little gem…

Sakura turned her attention back to the ceremony and watched as Syaoran’s eyes softened when he saw his mother approach. That made Sakura a little more hopeful; perhaps he really was a kind boy. Maybe that glare was reserved for his stepfather.

So, with new resolve, Sakura vowed to introduce herself to him at the reception and get started with their new friendship!

She spotted him when she was in the middle of eating a slice of the groom’s cake (chocolate!) and leapt to her feet.

“Hi! I’m Sakura,” Sakura chirped, extending her hand and giving him a 100 volt smile.

Syaoran just stared at her from where he was sitting next to his mother. The raven haired bride was busy talking to the people on her other side and not paying attention to the two cute youngsters.

Undeterred, Sakura thought she should probably elaborate. “Sakura Kinomoto.”

Comprehension dawned on his face but he still said nothing and ignored her outstretched hand. Feeling a bit awkward, Sakura dropped her arm and clasped her hands behind her back. She watched as he took a bite of white bride’s cake and cleared her throat. “Starting today, we’re cousins so-”

“Kinomotos suck,” Syaoran said simply, cutting her off. Sakura felt her face flush, either from embarrassment or anger – she couldn’t be sure. “Oh, and you have food in your teeth.” And with that, he turned his back to her and continued eating his cake.

Yup, definitely anger.

Sakura put her hand on the back of his smug head and smashed his face into the cake he was eating. Needless to say, neither of them left a very good first impression on the other. Their family had to be very careful about leaving the two of them together unsupervised after that.

At least family get-togethers were no longer boring. Each one usually turned into a battle in the long war of their relationship. Tomoyo accompanied the gatherings sometimes, but she stayed out of their fights. The adults were powerless to stop it and Touya didn’t even try. In fact, on rare occasions he would even help his sister. This went on until they entered high school and matured enough to tolerate each other’s presences.

They really had to suck it up a couple months ago when it was decided Syaoran would spend the summer with Sakura’s family. His mother and step-father were having problems and needed some time alone to work it out. Sakura had her misgivings but was surprised when Syaoran showed up, looking oddly subdued. She had the sneaking suspicion that his step-father had grown on him since the wedding and he really didn’t want them to separate.

Being the compassionate person she was, Sakura decided to be kind to him. That lasted about five minutes.

But, as we all know, things had changed. Sakura was left to speculate when things had shifted from hate to (dare she say it?) love. Had they ever really hated each other? No. It was just their personalities clashing as they got to know each other. Syaoran was going through a change in life, and Sakura… well, Sakura is just difficult.

When did he start loving her? Sakura wondered. Maybe it was from the beginning. That was how young boys showed their feelings, right? Picking on girls? If that was the case, it would make sense. Plus, there was the added obstacle of being related – even if it was just by marriage. They weren’t supposed to feel like that for each other. No telling how their family would react.

Sakura squelched that dreary thought and sat up, preparing to leave the tent. It was getting hot being stuck in a tent with three other people after all.

Sakura unzipped the flap of the tent and stepped, barefoot, onto the grass and dirt. She sighed mentally. She needed to fish out some flip flops from her tent and let them dry. She also needed to dry a bunch of her clothes. Ugh, something to look forward to.

Sakura was in the middle of stretching out the kinks in her neck when she noticed her mother. Great, another thing she was dreading – her parents. After what she heard them doing last night, she wasn’t entirely sure she would be able to act natural around them.

That thought was fleeting however when she took a better look at her mother. Nadesico had her thin hands wrapped around a coffee mug and was staring blankly. She looked deep in thought, and strangely downcast. It wasn’t a look that Sakura was used to seeing on her mother. Nadesico was usually annoyingly confident and full of life. Nadesico was so out of it in fact, that she didn’t notice her daughter’s presence until Sakura waved a hand in front of her eyes.

She jumped a little bit and blinked her eyes to adjust. “Oh! Hey, Sakura.”

And that was it.

Confused that her mother wasn’t talking a mile a minute, Sakura said playfully, “Hey mom. Whatcha doin’?”

Nadesico smiled faintly. “Just having my morning coffee.”

Sakura was just about to ask if she was okay, when Nadesico set her mug down and stood up. “Well, I better go to the bathroom and get cleaned up. We have a lot of things planned for the day. You should do the same!”

“Right,” Sakura said, and watched her mother’s retreating form. Curious, she peeked into the mug and saw it was practically full.

“Strange, huh?” Fujitaka said from behind Sakura, causing her to jump a mile in the air.

“Dad! You scared me!”

Fujitaka smiled slightly. “Sorry.”

“It’s alright,” Sakura replied, but was still taking deep breaths to calm herself down. Her father sat down in the spot Nadesico had vacated and patted the spot next to him, indicating Sakura should sit there. She obeyed, not even thinking of the awkwardness last night may have caused.

“I’m worried about your mother,” Fujitaka said lowly. Sakura furrowed her brow at the seriousness in his voice. “She’s seemed off for a while.”

“What do you mean?” Sakura asked, clearly confused. Today was the first time she’d noticed anything. She said as much to her father.

Fujitaka picked up Nadesico’s abandoned mug and took a sip. “It’s been going on for some time now. Didn’t you wonder why she sprang this trip on us all of a sudden? Something’s up and she wanted to get her mind off it.”

“Oh,” Sakura said, feeling foolish for thinking her mother planned this trip because of the tension between herself and Syaoran. “Not really. I’ve never seen her like this before.”

Fujitaka sent a sidelong glance at his daughter. “I have.”

Suddenly, Sakura knew what he was talking about without him actually having to say it. It happened around her third birthday. She was too young to remember much, but there was a time that Nadesico disappeared for a few days. The only thing Sakura remembered vividly from that time was that it was the first and only time she’d ever seen her father cry. Her family didn’t like to talk about it since it was a very dark time in their history, but they did tell her that Nadesico had a bit of a nervous breakdown. She spent those days driving around in her car, no destination in mind. Just driving. Stress, the doctor diagnosed. A bunch of things piling up on her until it just got to be too much. The adults wouldn’t tell her any more than that. But Nadesico came back after a few days, so it ended well. She went to counseling and they went on with their lives.

As she got older, Sakura would wonder if maybe she was one of those ‘things’. Curiosity finally got the best of her when she was in junior high and she did a bit of digging around. Touya found out and put a stop to it, but not before she discovered that their mother had been disowned by their grandfather. Their family had a big discussion about it, but decided that Sakura was still a little too young to know everything. They just confirmed that, yes; Nadesico (and essentially THEY) had been disowned.

“You know…” Fujitaka said and looked down at the mug in his hands. “Your grandfather never exactly liked or approved of me.”

“Why?” Sakura asked. She couldn’t believe that anyone could have a problem with her father.

“I dunno. Maybe I rubbed him the wrong way.” He shot her a playful look. “You had to get your CHARMING personality from somewhere, right?”

“Right,” Sakura said, not really believing him. She had always just assumed that her personality quirks came from her mother. Sakura and her father weren’t anything alike. Fujitaka was a nice father and she was… well, she didn’t really want to think about it. On the other hand, people change. So there really was no way of telling how her father used to be.

“At any rate, he didn’t like me,” Fujitaka continued. “He was also very vocal about his distaste of my career choice.”

“What’s wrong with being a lawyer?” Fujitaka sent her a look the moment the words left her mouth. “Oh, haha. Right.”

“He also didn’t think I had what it took to be in that kind of cutthroat profession. But…” Fujitaka paused as if he wasn’t sure he should finish what he wanted to say. “Nadesico got pregnant with Touya and we got married.”

That came as no surprise to Sakura, who was good at math and had long ago calculated that Touya was born six months after her parents’ wedding. It was kind of weird to have her father talking about all of this though. He had always been pretty tight lipped.

“Your grandfather was furious, but gave up since Nadesico was pregnant. The thing is,” Now her father was looking very uncomfortable. “His anger was nothing compared to how mad he got when Nadesico got pregnant with you.”

Sakura was actually shocked this time.

“W-why?” She asked, her voice tiny.

“Because Nadesico meant to get pregnant with you.” Fujitaka looked over at his daughter guiltily. “He didn’t think she would ever PURPOSEFULLY get pregnant by me again. I think he was still hoping we would get divorced.”

Sakura swallowed thickly, her mouth dry. This was all news to her.

“Your grandmother was there to help him make sensible choices, but then she died when you were two,” Fujitaka trudged on, looking pained at the memories. “Your grandfather refused to come to your third birthday party and your mom got furious. They had a huge fight and he… disowned her.”

In a way she HAD been one of those ‘things’ piling up on her mother.

It all clicked for Sakura. She remembered her grandmother, but not very well. She just remembered how warm and soft she’d been. Her grandfather was the exact opposite. She remembered him even less. Why had she never really thought about her mother’s parents? Why they weren’t around? Of course she thought about it sometimes, but it never made much of an impression on her. It must have been because she was still so young when they disappeared from her life. She hardly ever saw them to begin with, so it wasn’t that big of an adjustment anyways. The whole thing just made her furious at her grandfather. He was heartless.

But why was her father bringing this up now? It was nice that he finally thought she could handle knowing everything, but why did he choose now of all times to unload this on her? It scared Sakura to her core to have her father talking about it. It must have meant that he thought it could happen again. Her throat tightened at the thought.

“Back then,” Fujitaka said quietly, “What helped her through it all was knowing that she had a precious family that needed her. She loves us all more than anything.”

But what were to happen if something disrupted that family? Sakura thought of Syaoran’s sleeping face and her stomach flipped.

Fujitaka turned towards Sakura fully and gave her a big smile. “I know this a lot to unload on you and I’m sorry. I’m not telling you this to scare you; I just thought you should be aware. You know, maybe take it a bit easier on your mother.”

“Right,” Sakura answered and smiled back, but there was something dark in the pit of her stomach that was making her queasy. Something that she was pretty sure had to do with a certain cousin of hers.


“How come it seems like girls decompose overnight?” Touya asked upon leaving his tent and spotting Sakura. Yukito and Syaoran trailed out after him.

Sakura had to admit that he had a point – she was looking pretty rough. She blamed that on the camping more than anything else though. Of course, she would never tell him that.

“Well?” Touya posed the question, a lot closer to her face this time.

Sakura pinched her nose closed with one hand and waved the air in front of her with the other. “At least I don’t SMELL like it. Maybe you should brush your teeth before you talk this morning.”

Syaoran chortled and plopped down next to Sakura on the picnic table. “Aw, don’t listen to him. You don’t look that bad.” He smiled deviously, a twinkle in his eye. “Well… you’ve looked worse!”

“Har har,” Sakura retorted, trying not to look at him. She wouldn’t allow herself that. Instead she focused on the makeshift clothesline she had concocted to dry her clothes.

“Is something wrong, Sakura?” Yukito asked with concern in his voice. He and Touya sat on the opposite side of the table. “You don’t really seem like yourself right now.”

Sakura shook her head. “No, no. I’m fine. Just a bit tired is all.”

Sakura was saved from having to further explain herself by her mother, of all people. Once Nadesico returned from the bathroom that morning, she had been back to normal. That was a relief for Sakura, but she was still worried. Now that she was aware of it, is almost seemed like Nadesico was trying TOO hard.

“Yay!” Nadesico squealed like a little girl and set down the bucket full of water she was carrying. “Now that you boys are finally up, we can get started with the day!”

They really had no idea just how lucky they were. Nadesico had just filled that bucket with all intents and purposes of using it to wake them up.

“Hurry up and eat something!” she continued/ “We’re going to play in the river! We were going to go bike riding, but Sakura’s tennis shoes are soaked, so we can’t.” Not to mention everything else she owned, Sakura thought woefully.

The boys started digging around for food and Sakura stood up.

“Aren’t you going to eat?” Touya asked his sister.

“No. I ate before you got up,” Sakura explained. “I’m going to bathroom.” She made a detour to her laundry line to grab her damp bathing suit (so she could change into it) and then was on her way.

She didn’t really need to go to the bathroom. She just needed an escape. Really, she didn’t think she would be having so many problems being with all of them. For some reason, she just kept feeling like she would burst into tears. That wasn’t good. If there was one way to get unwanted attention, it was to randomly start crying. So she made her getaway.

“Sakura!”

Sakura knew who it was even before he grabbed her shoulder and spun her around. She forced herself to meet Syaoran’s concerned gaze without flinching.

“What?” she asked, doing her best to seem genuinely confused.

“What’s wrong?” Syaoran asked anyways, unfooled.

“Nothing’s wrong. Jeez, Syaoran, you are paranoid.” Sakura laughed and tried to brush his hand off her shoulder.

“Sakura.” Syaoran caught her hand and held on. “I’ve already told you I can tell when you’re lying.”

Anger flared through her body and Sakura latched onto it. She would need it to get through this. She thought about this all morning, and it really was the only way.

“Fine!” Sakura huffed, ripping her hand from his grasp. “You want to know what’s wrong with me? You are!”

Syaoran took a half step backwards, hurt flashing across his face momentarily before it was gone. “Why are you so upset?”

“YOU are upsetting me!” Tears prickled in her eyes but she blinked them away. “I can’t do this!”

“This?”

“You. Me. Us!” Sakura stumbled across her words, trying to think of the best way to explain it to him. “We can’t have THAT kind of relationship. It won’t work. There are too many people involved.” There was no way she would risk ruining her family and causing her mother more pain.

Sakura chanced a glance at Syaoran and saw that his lips were twisted into a strange smirk. “What’s so funny?” she demanded, even sounding bitchy to her own ears.

Syaoran shook his head. “It’s not funny so much as, well, it just seems like we’ve had this conversation before.” They had, right after their little make out session when he threw her in the pool. “And remember what happened last night?”

Sakura stared at Syaoran, incredulous. “Your point?”

“My point is that you can’t help what you’re feeling for me. Last night just proved it. The reasons why we shouldn’t don’t matter. You love me. It doesn’t matter how many times you try to run away, you will come back.”

“I don’t love you.”

“Sure you don’t.”

White hot anger flared to life in Sakura, the likes of which she had never felt before. How could he be so damn arrogant?

“I don’t.” And at that moment, she meant it. She said it in such a way that Syaoran knew she was serious too. “What I felt for you was lust, at the most. And it won’t happen again.”

Syaoran was speechless. His gaze dropped to the floor and he just froze. The two of them stood together for a long time, neither one saying anything, neither one moving. Finally, Syaoran raised his head and looked Sakura directly in the eyes.

I love you.”

He turned and started walking away, leaving Sakura feeling like she’d just been sucker punched in the stomach. He was about ten feet away when he looked back at her and added over his shoulder. “And I know you really love me too. That’s why it’s not over.” And he left.

Sakura didn’t move for a long time. She just stared mindlessly at the last place he’d been, refusing to let herself think about what had just happened.

At last the feeling returned to her feet and she spun on her heels, toward her original destination. The bathroom wasn’t crowded but a few women were loitering around. Sakura went over to an empty sink and splashed cold water on her face. She stared at her reflection and watched as the rivulets of water ran down her face, across her cheeks, past her jaw and dribbled into the sink. They almost looked like tears. Strangely, she didn’t feel like crying. Everything was just numb.

Sakura grabbed the neck of her shirt and patted her face dry. Syaoran’s scent invaded her nostrils. She was still wearing his shirt.

Sakura moved into the nearest stall and peeled the clothes off, replacing them with her bathing suit. Somehow, the act made her feel a little better. With new resolve, Sakura kicked open the stall door and marched out of the bathroom and into the sunshine.


Sakura trotted along with her family as they walked in a group to the Pavilion for the dance. They were all talking, but she wasn’t really listening. Her mind was somewhere far away.

The day had been awkward but it seemed that no one wanted to comment on it. Syaoran didn’t act any different and she was trying not to, but the tense air was impossible to miss.

Sakura was most surprised at Touya’s silence about the whole thing. She supposed even he must have had enough tact to know when to keep his mouth shut. Instead, he went out of his way to include Sakura and even convinced her to go on the rope swing. It was fun at first and she would have thanked him, if it wasn’t for the rope burns on her hands and the fact that she landed in a belly flop in the water.

The sound of music reached her ears and Sakura snapped back to the present. Her fingers tightened slightly on the shirt Eriol let her borrow yesterday. She needed to return it.

Sakura had to smile at the music. It was country and sounded awfully hickish, but she didn’t care. That was the fun of it all. The sun was almost gone and cast a pinkish glow to everything. The fireflies would be coming out soon. Sakura was suddenly very happy to be there. The only problem was the dark clouds that were hanging around ominously. They looked kind of far off though.

As soon as the group got to the dance floor, Fujitaka grabbed Nadesico’s hand. “Care to dance?”

“Of course!” Nadesico replied and they were off.

Sakura watched her mother’s smiling face as the older woman was spun around until her parents disappeared into the crowd. Well, at least someone was able to be so carefree.

Sakura was just about to take a seat on one of the lawn chairs that was set up when a hand was thrust in front of her face.

“Care to dance?”

Sakura looked up into her brother’s smiling face before sticking her nose in the air. “Not particularly.”

“Oh don’t be like that,” Touya said and took the shirt from her hands and shoved it to Syaoran’s chest. She barely had time to open her mouth in protest before her feet left the ground and she was tossed over her brother’s shoulder. Touya’s fingers assaulted her ticklish sides so she was kicking, laughing, and screaming the whole way to the dance floor. They got quite a few amused stares.

As Touya set Sakura down the song ended and a jitter bug began. Sakura tried not to smile. Touya caught her hands with his and started dancing. Oh, it was a horrible sight to be seen. Their height difference made some of the moves extremely difficult, but what they lacked in skill they made up for in enthusiasm.

A very large smile split across Sakura’s face.

Her brother was looking a fool, but this was his own way of trying to cheer her up about something he didn’t know about. Sakura squealed like a little girl when he picked her up and spun them around for the finale.

“Keep going?” Touya asked as the next song started up.

“Absolutely!” Sakura replied.

Sakura allowed herself to be swept along with the pace of the next three songs. The sun was completely set and the dance lights came on. Her mind finally felt clear and she couldn’t help smiling the whole time. They bumped into her parents a few times, and Sakura stuck her tongue out at her mother. Her mother laughingly returned the gesture.

At one point, Sakura caught sight of a very beautiful girl with long brown hair. The girl was even more hyper than Sakura and seemed to be changing dancing partners frequently. She looked familiar and it took Sakura a while to figure out that she was Eriol’s sister, Nakuru. That must have meant that Eriol was there too.

“I think I need a break,” Sakura said to Touya and he nodded.

“Me too. You’re wearing me out,” he laughed. “Do you want something to drink?”

“No,” Sakura answered. “Not yet. There’s something I need to take care of. Okay?”

Touya nodded and walked towards the drink stand.

Sakura returned to where Yukito and Syaoran were sitting and chatting. Sakura walked up to the two boys and extended her hand towards Syaoran. Syaoran raised his eyebrows at her, amused.

“Oh, Sakura, I don’t know what to say.”

It took Sakura a second to realize that he thought she was asking for a dance. She rolled her eyes. “Right. And while you’re dreaming, how about you give me back that shirt?”

Syaoran looked down at the shirt in his lap and had the decency to look a bit sheepish. The look was gone as soon as it was there. “I don’t know that I should…”

“Thank you!” Sakura exclaimed and snatched it off his lap. “I’ll be back,” she said over her shoulder to Yukito and walked away.

Sakura felt a smidgen of guilt at being so cold, but it was for the best. She wandered through the crowd, on the lookout for Eriol. It took her a while, and she wasn’t sure if he was the right person at first until she caught his eye and he waved. He was wearing glasses now that strangely made him more appealing. She’d always had a thing for guys with glasses.

“Hi!” Sakura said, approaching where he was sitting. “I almost didn’t recognize you.”

Eriol chuckled.

“These, right?” He asked, pointing to his spectacles. Sakura nodded. “Yea, I didn’t want to lose them in the river, even if it meant going blind. How are you?”

Sakura hesitated. She didn’t really feel like she could just say ‘fine’. Eriol noticed her pause and raised his eyebrows. “It’s been an interesting trip to say the least,” Sakura finally managed to say.

“How so?”

“My tent flooded,” Sakura said and laughed. Eriol joined her.

“Yes, I bet that certainly made things interesting.”

“I thought I would return this to you,” Sakura said and held out his shirt before that part of the conversation could continue.

“Thank you,” Eriol said, taking the proffered shirt. He let his hands linger over hers for longer than necessary and caught her eye. Sakura was just about to look away when there was a clap of thunder and the heavens began to pour. People started shrieking and running for cover.

“Come on!” Eriol exclaimed and the two followed the crowd. Everyone was stuck huddling under the patio area. Sakura tried to catch sight of anyone in her family, but it was to no avail.

“I wonder how long this is going to last,” Eriol said, to no one in particular.

“Who knows? So much for dancing,” Sakura muttered and looked down at her clothes. They were completely soaked. After taking all day to dry, that was the real irony. Sakura sighed when she remembered all of her clothes were still hanging up outside. She really had no luck whatsoever.

Just as Sakura was beginning to have dark thoughts about the weather, she noticed Eriol’s sister run out onto the middle of the dance floor. Nakuru spread her arms out wide and started spinning around in circles. Sakura had to smile at her antics. That girl really was a free spirit.

A grin broke out on Sakura’s face that froze when she saw Nakuru looking at her. Nakuru bounded up and grabbed both of Sakura’s hands, shocking the younger girl.

“Dance with me!” Nakuru exclaimed and bore her wide brown eyes into Sakura’s green ones.

Sakura was all set to decline, but reconsidered. She was already wet, what could it hurt? “Alright!” she replied, and was rewarded by Nakuru’s squeal of joy.

The two ran out onto the dance floor, splashing water as they went. Nakuru took the male’s lead since she was the taller one and the two went to town. It was a bit nerve wracking to know that everyone was watching them, but Sakura pushed that to the side of her mind. This was about enjoying herself! The pair of them spun around, laughing and giggling the whole time. By the time the song ended, Sakura was pretty sure her face was going to stick like that.

A couple more people had joined them by that time, but most of the people were still taking cover.

“Go and drag somebody out here,” Nakuru instructed and went to do the same.

Sakura’s eyes scanned the crowd, looking for her prey. She was planning on getting Yukito to dance with her since she was pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to say no, but changed her mind when she saw Eriol leaning against the wall; he was smirking at her and looking entirely too dry.

Sakura came to a stop in front of him and put her hands on her hips. “Dance with me!” She surprised herself with her own daring, but she figured since it worked for Nakuru…

Eriol shrugged his shoulders pretended to be exasperated, “I was afraid of that.” Nevertheless Eriol stood up straight, tucked the shirt Sakura returned to him in the waistband of his pants, and placed his glasses on the collar of his shirt. “Shall we go?” he asked and took her hand in his warm one.

The area was more crowded by the time they made it back. Sakura had to smile when she noticed Nakuru dancing with Yukito. Apparently, she had been able to find someone who wouldn’t say no.

Sakura and Eriol were just about to dance when the song changed from a medium paced two-step to a slow song. Sakura was a bit embarrassed – she hadn’t planned on that. Eriol took it all in stride and placed her hands on his shoulders before grabbing her waist and pulling her forward. They were close, but not enough to make Sakura feel like he was taking advantage of the situation. His hands stayed in place, not dipping down any lower. That was something Syaoran would probably do. Sakura snorted at the thought.

“Dust in the wind,” Eriol sang softly, taking Sakura by surprise. It wasn’t that he sounded great or anything, but his voice was oddly comforting. She relaxed in his hold and moved a little closer. She sang with him, their voices blending together and getting lost in the noise of the other dancers.

The rain continued to fall, but Sakura wouldn’t have noticed if she didn’t have to blink it out of her eyes occasionally. She was in her own little world and it was nice.

Sakura was sad when the song ended. She thought Eriol was about to leave her but he only grabbed her left hand with his right and went right into the two-step that followed. She couldn’t remember the last time she had enjoyed dancing so much.

As the night wore on, Sakura continued to dance with Eriol. She caught glimpses of her family occasionally and waved. It seemed like they were switching partners around a lot. First she saw Touya with Nakuru and Nadesico with Syaoran, then Nakuru with Fujitaka and her mother with Yukito. It was all pretty amusing. She was half expecting to see Touya and Syaoran dancing together. That really would have made the night complete.

The rain stopped and they still kept dancing. Sakura could have stayed that way forever if it wasn’t for the pain in her feet.

“I think I need to take a break,” she finally said in between songs.

“Oh, thank God!” Eriol laughed. “I was beginning to think you were inhuman. Come on; let’s go get something to drink.”

Once they had refreshments, they just had to find somewhere to sit. The main areas were all crowded, so they ended up wandering away from the dance floor to one of the paths through the trees. There they were able to find and empty bench. Sakura collapsed onto it gratefully and took a sip of her drink.

“That’s better!” she said, referring to being off her feet.

“That’s for sure,” Eriol agreed, taking a seat next to her.

They two of them sat in amiable silence, just admiring the scenery. Everything was just so green and the water left over from the rain made it all glisten. The fireflies were even starting to come out again.

“Wow.” Sakura sighed contentedly and tried to grab a firefly from the air. She missed.

“Sakura?”

“Hm?” Sakura turned her attention back to Eriol. He had his glasses back on.

“I was wondering if we could go out together sometime when we are back in town.” He looked in her eyes as he asked the question.

“Like… on a date?” Sakura asked, wanting to be sure.

“Yes,” Eriol replied, a hint of a smile about his lips.

“Oh, I dunno, I-” Sakura stopped herself. What was stopping her from saying yes? It wasn’t like she was dating Syaoran or anything. And, really, this could only work to her advantage. If Syaoran saw that she was interested in someone else, maybe he would back off. And she WAS genuinely interested in Eriol. He seemed nice, and she liked being around him.

“Yes,” she said firmly. “I’d like that.”

Eriol asked for her number after that and she gave him the number from her cell. She hardly ever used it, but it would be pretty awkward for Eriol if any of the males in her family answered the landline – especially Touya or Syaoran. She would just have to make it a point to actually turn her cell phone on and carry it around. She probably should have been doing that anyways.

Eriol took a permanent marker out of his pocket and wrote her number on his hand. Sakura raised an eyebrow at him. “That’s pretty convenient.”

“What?” Eriol asked innocently. “Don’t you always carry a permanent marker around with you, everywhere you go?”

“Eh, that’s a negative.”

“So you caught me.” Eriol shrugged his shoulders in defeat. “I may have been planning on asking you out since we met on the river.” Somehow, that only made him more endearing.

“Sakura?”

Sakura started guiltily at the sound of her name being called. Surely her luck couldn’t be that bad… She twisted around on the bench and saw Syaoran behind her. She studied his face to see if she could figure out how much he heard, but it was impossible. His face was the same as usual.

“What?”

“We’re about to leave,” he said to Sakura and then turned to Eriol. “I think your sister is looking for you too. She was running around and yelling your name.”

“Oh, okay. I guess I better hurry then,” Eriol said and leapt to his feet. He pulled Sakura up with him. “I had fun tonight. I’ll call you when I get back in town.”

“Alright,” Sakura answered, feeling a bit odd.

Eriol bid his farewells and went back to the dancing area, leaving Sakura and Syaoran standing alone.

“I bet the others are going to be looking for us, so I guess we should get going.” Sakura attempted to break the awkward silence.

“So, you’re going to go out with him?” Leave it to Syaoran to cut right to the point.

“Yes, is there a problem?” Sakura challenged.

“No, no problem,” Syaoran said, shaking his head. “You really are something else, you know that?”

“Syaoran, I’m going to date Eriol. Whatever happened between me and you is OVER.” She said it firmly enough to believe it.

The words had barely left her mouth when Syaoran reached out and pulled her to him. It was so quick she didn’t have time to react. He embraced her tightly, his arms wrapped over her own. Sakura didn’t know how to react for a long time. His clothes were wet like hers, but his skin was warm. He smelled exactly the way she remembered. Her forearms moved on their own, almost about to hug him back before she changed her mind and used them to push him away.

“I’ll say it again,” Syaoran said, encouraged by her initial hesitance to push him away. “It’s not over.”

“It IS over.”

“You think dating someone else makes a difference? People break up all the time.” Syaoran smiled slightly. “It’s not over until you’re married. And even then…”

Sakura really had no idea how to reply to that. And he said SHE was ‘something else’. There really was nothing she COULD say to that. She couldn’t control him. The only person she had power over was herself. So she said nothing. The two went back to the group in silence.


“ARGH! I don’t know how much more I can take of this music!” Sakura cried and banged her head against the car window repeatedly. She REALLY missed her iPod.

They were finally on their way home and really – praise the Lord! The couple of days they spent camping had been so eventful for Sakura, it felt like a year had gone by. Knowing how much could change in a short amount of time definitely made her apprehensive for the remainder of the summer. That was something she wasn’t looking forward to.

“Well, why don’t I turn it off and we can have a conversation?” Nadesico asked, reaching for the dial.

“Maybe if I could get a word in edgewise,” Sakura muttered. “You monopolize the conversation!”

“Well, is it my problem that you aren’t more assertive?” Nadesico countered.

“I’ll show you assertive!”

“Here,” Syaoran interrupted and handed her the right earplug to his headphones. “We can share.”

Sakura wasn’t so sure that was a good idea, but changed her mind when her mother started in on one of her boring stories.

“Fine,” she said, resigned. “Thank you.”

Sakura and Syaoran had been sitting as far apart as possible but they had to move closer together to share the headphones. She didn’t want to encourage his bad behavior, but she also didn’t want things to end up bad between them. They might not have been able to be together as a couple, but that didn’t change the fact that Sakura cared about him. Some sacrifices just had to be made, Sakura thought as she shoved the small device in her ear and relaxed in her seat.

Unknown to them, they would both fall asleep and end up leaning against each other – Sakura’s head on Syaoran’s shoulder and Syaoran’s head on top of Sakura’s. This would come as a surprise to them when they awoke upon arriving home and even more so when they got the pictures developed from Nadesico’s camera.


To Be Continued.

Chapters

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