Author: Kitty Neko
Series: Card Captor Sakura
Summary: It’s Tomoyo’s birthday and Sakura is out of town.
Disclaimer: I do not own Card Captor Sakura.
Tomoyo pushed the food around in her bento with a chopstick, her appetite gone. She sat alone at lunch; as she had been doing the last week do to a cheerleading competition that had taken all her friends out of town for the week.
She would have loved to go with them, but circumstances had kept her in Tomoeda and unable to do what she loved best: filming her best friend Sakura. Her friend had barely been gone five days and she was completely miserable. She didn’t know what to do with herself.
It was a depressing thought, especially on her birthday.
Truth be told, it didn’t feel any different than the other 364 days of the year. She got up, ate breakfast, and went to school. The only minor change being her mother saying “Happy Birthday” and handing her an envelope full of money before leaving for work. So she had been born sixteen years ago to this day, big whoop.
Setting her chopsticks down, she gave up and pushed the box away. With a sigh, she leaned her head on her hand and stared out the window. A group of guys were playing soccer and her eyes automatically searched out the familiar stance of one, Syaoran Li. With nothing better to do, she watched him mindlessly. He currently had the ball and was dribbling it from foot to foot while running all out towards the goal. His muscles tensed as he prepared the kick the ball with an amazing force at the goalie who looked as if he would rather run away than try to block the approaching missile. He made the goal and his team cheered.
Being the naturally perceptive person he was, Syaoran stopped and looked right at Tomoyo, as if he could feel her gaze through the glass. They stared at each other for a moment before he broke out in one of his rare grins that was usually reserved for Sakura and waved at her slightly. Tomoyo forced a convincing smile on her face and waved back before turning her attention back to her food.
She had mixed feelings about that boy. On one hand, he was Sakura’s boyfriend who brought her best friend a lot of happiness; on the other hand, he was also the boy who had taken her friend away from her. Not that Tomoyo was insane enough to think she had any control or hold on Sakura. Sakura had her own free will and Tomoyo was happy as long as she was, really. But not the kind of happy you have for yourself, more the kind of happy you get when things are going great for the one you love.
The truth was Tomoyo was very lonely.
She hated to admit it to herself because it seemed like selfishness or whining, but the reality was that she wasn’t really close to anybody anymore. Yes, she had several friends and her mother loved her dearly, but she wasn’t close to any of the other girls and her mother wasn’t around very much and didn’t seem to know her at all. And truth be told, she had barely started getting close to Sakura when Syaoran came along. Still, she couldn’t hate the boy since he had never done anything to warrant such emotions. He was actually one of the nicest persons she had ever met.
Her attention was brought back to the real world by the sound of the door sliding open and closed. Syaoran walked in, towel in hand and wiping the sweat from his brow. He approached Tomoyo and took a seat in front of her.
Tomoyo crinkled her nose at him. “Aren’t you going to take a shower?”
“Why?” Syaoran asked innocently. “There’s just two more hours of school left and Sakura’s not here. Who do I need to impress?”
Tomoyo’s heart panged at the mention of her absent friend, but she concealed it nicely. “I don’t really think it’s a matter of impressing someone, so much as not killing anyone within a ten foot radius.”
Syaoran laughed and clamped a hand on her shoulder. Tomoyo automatically looked at his hand, browned from the sun and roughened from the hilt of his sword. “Oh, you’re the only one that sits kind of close to me and I think you can take it.” He removed his hand and her shoulder suddenly felt very cold. She ignored it.
“Hmph.” She sniffed and pretended to brush his germs off her uniform. “That’s what you say now, but you’ll be sorry when they have to carry me away on a stretcher.”
The bell rang and the teacher shuffled in, basically telling them to shut up while she set up for the lesson and halting all further conversation.
Tomoyo made a valiant effort to pay attention, honestly she did, but the subject was so boring her mind began to wander. Her gaze landed on the back of Syaoran’s head. She vaguely noted that the hairs on the nape of his neck were still slightly damp.
A paper was waved in front of her face and placed on the desk. Startled, Tomoyo snapped to attention and looked up into the pinched face of her teacher.
“I hope you caught all that Miss Daidouji, as I doubt the lesson was inscribed on the back of Mr. Li’s head.”
Syaoran swiveled in his chair to look at her and she felt her face color slightly. Still, her image was on the line so she pulled something out of her ass quickly. “Of course, ma’am,” she said sweetly. “You’re just such a good teacher that I already know the material and am confident in my abilities to complete this worksheet.” She completed it with a genuinely fake smile and tilted her head to the side.
“Sure,” the teacher grumbled, but said no more about it. She turned to walk away and Syaoran made a rude gesture so that only Tomoyo could see. She snorted with laughter, but tried to cover it up with a cough.
Syaoran turned back to his paper and scribbled something down, before turning to speak to Tomoyo again. “Hey, what’s today?”
“September third,” Tomoyo answered, eyes glued to her paper.
It was quiet for a moment. “Really? I could have sworn it was the second.” He fell silent and nothing significant was said between the two for the rest of the day.
Tomoyo sank deeper into the mass of bubbles and soapy water, watching her hair float around her like seaweed. All of her muscles were relaxed and she felt very calm.
There really was nothing better than a bath.
Unless the phone was ringing.
“Dammit,” Tomoyo cursed in one of her very rare moments of swearing. It never failed: get in the bath or on the toilet and the phone rings. “No,” she muttered to the shrill bell. “You can wait. I’m staying right where I am.” The tone soon stopped because the answering machine had picked the call up. Tomoyo could hear an amplified voice and instantly stiffened at the sound.
“Hi Tomoyo, it’s Sakura. You must not be home right now.”
By then, Tomoyo had sprung out of her bubble haven and was trying to secure a towel around her slippery body.
“I just wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday and tell you that I miss you lots.”
Tomoyo swung the door open, revealing her room and practically dived for the phone.
“Love you! I’ll see you in a couple of days.”
Tomoyo quickly snatched up the phone. “Sakura?” She was met by silence. Too late.
Disappointed and slightly irritated, she placed the receiver back on the cradle and pushed a chunk of sopping hair out of her face. She was contemplating getting back in the bathtub when, of course, the doorbell rang.
Glancing at the clock, she realized it was past 8:00 and all the maids had gone home for the evening. Normally Tomoyo would just leave it be, but her mother had mentioned getting some important deliveries for her job that day.
The bell sounded again and she slipped the towel off her body and snatched up a bathrobe. Uncaring that she was probably not dressed properly, Tomoyo ran out of her room and down the stairs to catch whoever it was before they left. She undid the lock and had the door swung open as fast as humanly possible.
Syaoran stood, holding a box in one hand and the other outstretched to the doorbell, poised to press it a third time. He looked startled at her sudden appearance and looked her up and down, blanching. “Did I come at a bad time?”
Tomoyo closed her slightly gaping robe and hugged it tightly to herself. She knew her face was probably beet red. “Kind of,” she admitted. “But that’s okay. Why don’t you come in and I’ll go get some clothes on.”
He nodded stiffly and followed her to the living room. Tomoyo coughed. “Um, give me about two minutes.” And she was off, fast as lightning up to her room to cover up.
It didn’t take her long at all to slip on a pair of underwear, a bra, jeans, and a t-shirt. She was dreading going back downstairs, but it had to be done. That time when she went down the stairs, it was a considerable amount slower.
Syaoran looked up as she entered the living room and just smiled at her embarrassed expression.
“Don’t worry about it Tomoyo,” he said, his eyes laughing, “It’s not a big deal. I remember one time I was using the bathroom at Sakura’s house and I forgot to lock the door. Touya just barged in and literally caught me with my pants down. Things were a little awkward for a while after that.”
He was making an attempt to lighten the mood, and Tomoyo smiled at his kindness. Still, she couldn’t help the little retort that slipped out of her mouth.
“Perhaps he saw something he liked.”
Syaoran’s jaw dropped and he shook his head slowly. “I can’t believe you said that.” He sounded almost on the verge of laughter.
“Me either.” Tomoyo took a seat on the recliner across from the sofa he was occupying and cleared her throat. “So… why are you here?”
Syaoran jumped at the subject change. “Oh, I’m sorry that I showed up here so late and without warning, but there was no helping it.” He motioned for her to sit next to him and she cautiously complied. Leaning over, he opened the box he had placed on the small coffee table, revealing a heavily decorated cake with the words ‘Happy Birthday, Tomoyo’ written in confectioner’s icing. “The cake shop took forever and I wanted this to be a surprise. Happy Birthday! I know you usually spend it with Sakura but since she’s out of town I thought we could celebrate it together. Unless you have other plans…”
Tomoyo stared at the pink letters and said quietly, “How did you know today was my birthday?”
Syaoran shrugged. “Oh, I think saw it marked on Sakura’s calendar a few weeks back and made a mental note remember it. Bang up job I did, huh? I didn’t even think of it until you told me what today was.”
Tomoyo didn’t say anything. She didn’t think she could, but she wasn’t exactly sure why. Without realizing what she was doing, Tomoyo reached out and wrapped her arms around the confused boy and buried her face in his chest. Tears burned in her eyes and soaked into the front of his green shirt, leaving dark blotches. Slowly, she felt strong arms wrap around her and just stay there, holding her.
“Will you stay with me?” Tomoyo asked, her voice hoarse and muffled against him. In response, his arms squeezed her momentarily. They stayed there for what seemed like forever, with Tomoyo’s shoulders shaking and Syaoran’s arms wrapped around her small form tightly.
And for the first time in years, Tomoyo didn’t feel alone.