DISCLAIMER: CCS is (c) CLAMP and associates. This stressed out, project-bogged down fanfiction author is merely borrowing. This fanwork is NOT to be posted on any webpages, mailing lists etc WITHOUT said author's permission first. Ryoukaishimashitaka? _Understood_?
 
 

About the notice above... I recently found a couple of pages posting my fanfiction *without* my knowledge. Now, while I _did_ feel flattered that the maintainers liked my writing enough to put it on their sites, I was NOT happy that they hadn't even had the basic courtesy to ask first. They have already taken my 'fics down.

Kudasai, minna-san...

If you want to post my works, please ASK. I don't bite--there are already two to three pages which have my permission to host my stories (many, many thanks, BTW). Just mail me with your site URL so I can have a look, and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. There are NO requirements of your site--as long as I like it, I'll agree. I don't know about other fanfic writers, but for me, it is extremely frustrating to find pages putting up my stories without asking! It's inconsiderate and _rude_. What's so hard about asking? So _please_ heed this notice, or I'll have to get nasty. We writers put time and effort into our works, and you could at least let us choose which pages we'd like our stuff to be hosted on, onegaishimasu.

On a lighter note, while this fic is about 2 days late for Syaoran's birthday, it is *still* a present for him AND for Chen Liying, my sister-spirit and very dear friend, whose birthday falls on the 18th of July. This is posted with their kind permission. *laugh* Omedetou o-tanjoubi, you two! ^_- Ying-chan, you were there from the very beginning and you're *still* here for me even now. Take care of yourself and remember that I love you. ^_^

This story falls under the categories of Slight Angst, Fluff, WAFF and Weirdness (in the author's own opinion). You have been warned...
 

Ame no Yoru
(Rainy Night)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
 
 

"And I don't want the world to see me
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am...."

--Goo Goo Dolls, 'Iris'
 
 
 
 

It's raining.

Seated on a chair next to the window, I stare out of it, looking at the rainwater sliding down the misty glass in glimmering streams. It's warm inside my apartment--I have the heater on and I'm wearing a jacket--and yet a small part of me still feels cold, colder than the pouring rain and howling wind outside.

It's certainly not *physical* discomfort; I would be able to bear that. No, it's a coldness on the _inside_. The worst kind. The kind that gnaws at your heart and soul, yet somehow leaves you numb and devoid of emotion at the same time.

Ne...do you know how old I *really* am?

Hai, sou desu. I'm 10.

I've barely lived a quarter of my life, and I'm already talking like...this.

Maybe I'm going insane.

Sometimes I feel like I already am.

I continue staring out at the window, although I can't see anything except for long trails of rainwater and a never-ending barrage of crystal drops hitting the pane. Night-time doesn't do anything to improve the visibility--my own reflection can be barely seen.

It's not as if there's anything else to do--I've finished all my homework, practised my sword forms...besides, I've got more sense than to think Clow Cards would show themselves in this miserable weather. They're probably waiting for the rain to stop, too.

In the water-streaked glass of the window, dark-green eyes stare at me, the look in them half-wondering, half-sad.

*small, gentle hands carefully tying a lace-edged strip of cloth about his wounded arm*

*"Thank you for helping me..."*

I scowl in frustration, blinking, and the eyes immediately disappear.

Whenever the subject of Clow Cards come up, _she_ does...

Why did I go to help her that night--let her take The Shadow, no less?

Why is it impossibly hard to make myself take the Cards from her by force, so much so that I've already given up the very idea?

Why do I...why do I always find myself seeing her face, hearing her voice even when she's not around?

_Why_ can't I just stop thinking about her?

Kinomoto Sakura may find *me* mysterious, but she's far more of an enigma to me. No girl has ever affected me this way before. Not that I know so many girls, but the ones I *do* know nearly always seem to be trying to get my attention, for some reason. Females are strange. But none--*none* of them ever showed her face in my mind at the oddest moments possible, or made me find carrying out a task for the clan Elders seem virtually impossible.

When you take away the fact that she's single-handedly captured several Cards, even *if* their powers aren't all that powerful, it's not as if she's someone really out of the ordinary, is she? She's like other girls--she likes flowers and pretty things, she's scared of ghosts, she enjoys sports, she's got a loving father and elder brother...

My heart gives a painful wrench in my chest.

She's got a family.

A *real* family.

Not a family which couldn't care less whether you lived or died, who looked upon you as a burden and an annoyance, of which duty demanded be taken care of until he came of age and could support himself.

Do *you* call people like that 'family'? I do, but it's only for the sake of calling. In my heart, I was--and always am--an orphan.

I _hate_ being self-pitying, but I can never escape it whenever I compare myself to her. She's lost her mother, true, but her father and brother were there to love and comfort her.

From the time I was born, I never had anyone.

She seemed awed at how self-sufficient I am--well, I had to be in order to survive in a family where nobody gave a damn about you once you were deemed old enough to do things for yourself. Mother could never be too concerned with the sisters who were all two or more years older, but with me...

She never had to go through a warrior's physical training when she was seven years old. Looking back now, I appreciate the advantages the training has given me, but it was hell then. Sparring with boys who were bigger--and stronger, training with a sword far too big for my size, having bones and muscles broken and torn if I couldn't handle the fight...I sometimes think it's a miracle that I survived long enough to finish my training and be declared a competent fighter.

I'm only 10 years of age, but how many other 10-year olds *you* know could tell you a story like mine?

Certainly not Sakura.

So why...gods above, WHY can't I get her out of my head?!

Thunder booms in the distance, echoing the frustration I feel.

Almost without thinking, my hand reaches into my jacket, into a small, concealed pocket I sewed underneath, and draws out something. Once, it was a dainty handkerchief with lacy edges, but now the pristine white of the material is liberally stained with dried blood.

It's the same handkerchief that she used to bind up my arm after I got wounded protecting her from The Shadow.

Honto ni, I have no idea why I'm _still_ keeping it.

The sensible thing would be to wash it and return it to her. However, I'm starting to find that it's a little hard for me to make sensible, logical decisions where Sakura is concerned. I finger the piece of cloth, frowning slightly. Just like I simply can*not* bring myself to hurt her, I am also strangely reluctant to throw it away. Or to give it back to her.

I give the innocent handkerchief my blackest glare.

I don't like this.

I *don't*.

I don't like not knowing the reasons for doing...or not being able to do something. In all the short time I've lived, I've never been...held back like this before.

The Elders would be terribly displeased if they knew. I was trained to be a fighter, trained to fight for the Li clan--how could I let a mere girl keep me from completing my tasks? Unthinkably ridiculous.

But it's happened.

And there's nothing I can do about it.

I've *tried*; do you think I haven't?

I've tried avoiding her, but that's practically impossible when I see her every day in class. And we invariably run into each other if a Clow Card appears.

I've tried being unfriendly and silent, in the hope that she would stay away, but it didn't work. In fact, the first time I got a glimpse of the hurt and bewilderment on her face after I made a cutting remark, *that* particular plan promptly fell to pieces.

I've tried fighting with myself, telling myself that she's nothing but an obstacle to completing my task, that the sooner I can overcome her, the sooner I can return home.

It *never* works.

After all, even if I *do* manage to gather the remaining Cards and get the rest from her sooner, what good would it do me? Earn me praise and respect from the Elders and my mother and sisters?

I snort softly. I wish.

When I complete this task, I'll go home. I'll return to yet _more_ new tasks, more responsibilities, more training in my magical and physical abilities.

I'll be alone...again. Unloved, unwanted, *unneeded*. Or perhaps not. To the Elders, I still do retain a measure of usefulness.

Again, it's not as if I have tons of friends here in Japan, but what I *do* have is better than nothing. Takashi talks to me all the time, even when my only responses are glaring at him, ignoring him, or just walking away. Tomoyo and some of the other girls are friendly and helpful, although a few of them are a little too giggly for my liking.

I've barely spoken to Yukito-san, but I can honestly say that I like him. When he first offered me that bun, with that smile on his face...it touched _something_ in me. No one ever gave me something just like that, with no strings attached.

I like him; I respect and admire him, even. He's good in studies, sports, and just about anything else you can think of. He's friendly and cheerful--much like Sakura, come to think of it. Sometimes, I see him almost as an elder brother.

Yukito-san is the sort of person who I want to be respected, want to be *liked* by. I know I'm behaving foolishly, when I compete with Sakura to be the first to give him presents or things of the like, but I can't help it. Just a word of praise from him can make me feel proud and happy--yet *another* thing I can't find an explanation for.

And Sakura...she always smiles and waves whenever she sees me. It doesn't seem to bother her that I'm her rival in gathering the Cards and that I tried to force her into giving them to me not too long ago.

I...I like to see her smile. Her whole face lights up, and her green eyes are more like emeralds than ever...

My cheeks are suspiciously warm.

I shake my head furiously, embarrassed and bewildered. Something is *really* wrong with me. As if it's not enough that I can't stop thinking about a girl, now I have to go and think that I like her smile and that her eyes look like emeralds.

By now, my face feels like it's on fire. It is only with a good deal of effort that I finally manage to banish the redness. I'm coming down with something, I just know it...

The point is, the little I have here is so much better than the non-existent warmth I receive back home. I...am starting to think that I _like_ Japan. Maybe someday, I'll come to live here...permanently.

But will the Elders permit it? I know they don't let clan descendants with magical abilities go easily. Elder Shenwei once told me that I was expected to serve the clan for as long as it needed me.

For how long, then, will they need me?

How long will they use me as a tool to achieve what they want?

The Elders say that all I do, I do for the clan, but I know that I am doing it merely because *they* want it to be done.

I can't answer my own questions. And it's no use thinking so far ahead. Right now, I'm going to deal with things one step at a time.

It's not like I have a choice.

With a sigh, I fold the handkerchief neatly and replace it in the small pocket on the inside of my jacket. I can't explain why I'm wearing it so close to me. I just...like it there, I suppose.

It serves as a reminder that there _are_ people who care. I don't know how much, but they *do* care.

And I...

I...

I care, too.

Shikashi, sore wa himitsu desu yo...

Now, no matter what happens, I have that knowledge to hold on to--something I never had before.

I will be strong.

Kitto.

Ara...it's stopped raining.

I gaze out of the window, and once again, it seems that that same wide pair of dark-green eyes is looking back at me. Only now they are laughing and twinkling, as if silently giving me support.

And this time, I smile.
 
 

__OWARI__

 

Index of Japanese words/translations:

Hai, sou desu--yes, that's right
Honto ni--really
Kitto--surely, definitely
Ara--something like 'oh'
Shikashi--but
Sore wa himitsu desu yo--that's a secret
 

NOTES:
 

1. A *teensy* bit angsty, but...*chuckle* what can ya do...

Syaoran: Is it possible for you to stop torturing me? *glare* What kind of a birthday present is this anyway?! You're supposed to be my _miko_!
Shi Lin: Oh, you mean you didn't like it because I didn't write any kissing scenes? Tsk, you're only 10 in this 'fic, you know. (shrug) Ying-chan liked it, anyway. (blows raspberry)
Syaoran: KISAAMAA~! (*very* red)
 
2. Moving on...^_^ 'Shenwei' is written with the Chinese characters for 'god' and 'majestic', and is in fact how the name of Kamui from X is written in kanji. *wink*

3. I've always thought that Syaoran blushed when seeing Yukito *not* because he was attracted to him, but rather because he had an intense combination of admiration, respect and liking for our snow bunny. Reasons are stated in the fic above. ^_^ When you admire someone, you naturally want to gain their respect, and in extreme cases, simple things like a kind word or a smile can have you in seventh heaven. (been there, done that) ^__- You can also get *very* flustered and nervous around them if you don't have good self-control...*snigger* That's how *I* see it, anyway. Or maybe I'm just a too-rabid Sakura-and-Syaoran fan...^___^

4. For all those who asked, here's my *tentative* fic line-up, in random order:

The Finding 5
Touya and Yukito one-shot (YAOI alert; shounen-ai at the very least)
Mini-series spamfic co-written with Jin-love
Mizuki Kaho POV (I *like* the woman. And I've decided she needs to be paid more attention *g*)
My take on Syaoran's early childhood, and his family

Curious kits, satisfied now? ^__^ But all this takes *time*, and I can't have my cake and eat it too (see disclaimer). _Plus_, as I've told a few of y'all, Gundam Wing and Yuu Yuu Hakusho have me firmly in their grip, and it's getting harder to use my free time to write CCS stuff. *guilty grin* However, I *will* have the sequel to Love Reflection out fairly soon...o-tanoshimi ni! ^_^

5. Mail me! Mail me! Mail meeee! There, hint enough? Ok, *please*? ^__^
 

Mata ne,

--Syaoran no Miko

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