Wai! Out earlier than I expected again! ^__^ Well, all I have to say is in the AN at the bottom, so I'll just shut up now and let you read. But remember: after reading write write write write write write WRITE ME!!! Minna-san...if you enjoyed this, the least you could do would be to put this poor writer out of her misery. Ne?

DISCLAIMER: CCS and all its respective characters are (c) CLAMP and associates. This unworthy (and destitute) author is merely borrowing.

Card Captor Sakura: The Finding
Chapter 4: Finding of Pain
Darkness Sets In


"Is Sakura-chan feeling better now?" Yukito asked, a concerned look on his face. He had come over as soon as Touya had called.

Touya sighed, running a hand through his hair. "I suppose so. She's stopped crying, at any rate. I thought it would be best to leave her alone for a while." Yukito nodded approval.

"It has to be _something_ that girl did. If she lets me see her again..." Touya's voice trailed off, implying all sorts of dreadful things.

" 'That girl'?" Yukito asked in bemusement.

"Un. A strange girl came to see her just now. Meirin something, I think. I didn't like her when I first saw her-she really put me off. I should have known better than to let Sakura see her." There was an edge to his voice that made Yukito look at him thoughtfully.

"Take it easy, To-ya," he said at last. "Sakura-chan is made of stronger stuff than you think."

"Yuki, that isn't the point. I can't just sit back calmly while people are making her cry! I almost wish 'Tou-chan hadn't left to visit his friend in Shizuoka."

"...Always the loving brother, are you?" Yukito smiled gently, and a faint blush crossed Touya's face.

"She lets herself be hurt too easily," he muttered.

"But what *can* you do about it? Since you don't want to press Sakura-chan for details, you don't know what really happened. You don't know what really made her cry."

"I...I just!" Touya broke off in frustration with a sound that was a cross between a growl and a sigh. Yukito glanced at him again.

"Sakura-chan's already 17. She's almost grown up-she can solve her own problems herself."

"So you think I'm being a molly-coddle?" The dark-haired boy's voice was dry.

"I never said that, To-ya. You can keep an eye on her, but don't interfere unless you _really_ have to. Some things are better kept personal."

"And what does that mean?" Touya asked, slightly miffed.

"It means 'have a little more confidence in Sakura-chan', To-ya."

"All right," he finally conceded, albeit grudgingly. "But Yuki?"


"I hate it when you talk like that."

Yukito only laughed, patting him on the head in a way very reminiscent of Kaho, and laughed again at his disgruntled expression.


Sakura leaned back against her pillows, unconsciously clutching Cerberus a bit tighter to her. A pained expression fleetingly crossed the mouse-like creature's face, but he made no protest beyond that, and she did not notice.

She was grateful to Kero-chan. The minute Touya had left her, he had flown straight to her and snuggled against her, not asking any questions, not demanding any explanations, only trying to comfort her silently. Somehow, he had known that it was what she needed most just then. <Oh, Kero-chan...>

She did not know what to feel. Tears were finished; all that was left was a void. A numb, empty space inside of her.

What *should* she be feeling at a time like this?

And why had she cried like that? She should be smiling, feeling happy for Meirin and Syaoran. Instead...

You know exactly how you feel about him, a voice in her head whispered. Sakura was faintly surprised-she had never heard it before, but she did not really care.

<I don't feel anything special for him.> It was a pitiful show of defiance, and the voice's insistence promptly magnified tenfold.

You silly girl. Why try to deny it *now*? You've already admitted it to yourself. More, you've even admitted it to Tomoyo.

<What did I admit?> But she knew the answer all too well, even as a part of her frowned at the voice for calling her 'girl' as if she was a mere child. The voice actually seemed to sigh before speaking again.

You admitted you love him, if not in such exact words. That's really why you cried, isn't it? Because he's not for you, nor you for him.

Not for her, nor she for him. Sakura bit down on her lower lip, closing her eyes.

He belongs to Meirin now. And in fact, he probably never even thought of you that way.

<Yes...> She mentally flinched at the bluntness of the voice, but what it had said was only the truth.

Face up to reality. Act as if Meirin never told you anything, pretend that nothing happened. Be your normal self. No need to let anyone worry unnecessarily.

Again, the voice's words were true.

She would, then. She would be cheerful enough for the whole class tomorrow; she would smile at everyone, Meirin included. And *him*. She would even congratulate him if she got the chance. No matter what, they were still friends after all.

Yes, she and Syaoran were still friends. Even if he had torn her heart in two with Meirin, they _were_ still friends.

Isn't it better this way?

Oh, it is.

It is. She bit down on her lower lip, trying to convince herself of that.


Kero-chan's voice came out as a high squeak. It was only then that she realised just how tightly she was holding him, and quickly loosened her grip.

"Gomen," she murmured as he let out a sigh of relief.

"Never mind. Do you want to...talk about it?" He butted her softly with his head.

"I...I don't think so." Her voice was a choked whisper, and Kero-chan looked at her, his gaze full of quiet concern.

"Then it's all right. But if you ever want to tell me, I'll be listening."

"Arigatou." It was all she could say, although she did not know how one word could manage to express the gratitude she felt. Somehow, it sufficed.

"Kero-chan...do you think you could...let me be alone for a while, please? You've been wonderful company, but I..."

"Daijobu," Kero-chan quickly cut in. "I understand, Sakura." Gently flicking his tail against her hand, he spread his wings and flew out of the open window. Sakura watched him until he could no longer be seen, a very faint smile on her face.

She had told Kero-chan she wanted to be alone, but now she wanted nothing more than sleep. Sakura wanted to be prepared for tomorrow, and she needed rest for that.


She shuddered to think of it, but she had promised herself to be cheerful and smiling, and she *would* be no matter what.

Sleep came easily that night. She *was* tired. As consciousness slipped away, only one thought remained in her mind.

No matter what...


Jinron watched Meirin with a resigned expression, saying nothing. His sister was dancing around the living room of the apartment, humming a tune to herself. The blissful look on her face told the observer that whatever the wonderful incident was, it definitely had something to do with a certain chestnut-haired, amber-eyed boy.

"He's mine at *last*..." Meirin sighed in exultation, flopping down on the carpeted floor. Jinron's only response was to roll his eyes, though she did not notice it.

<Yup, I was right. I wonder how I do it?>

"Well? What did you do to Syaoran? Hypnotise him?"

"Very funny," she replied in irritation. "For your information, I only showed him the lotus ring."

"You WHAT?" he gasped, all sarcasm immediately gone. "Auntie will have your head when she finds out! You weren't supposed to let him know until we were back home!"

"What could I do? He refused point-blank to return-I had to do *something*! Auntie will understand when I tell her, never fear."

"Oh, I'm sure she will," he dryly said. For a moment, he had forgotten that Meirin had been their aunt's favourite niece from childhood. <Probably because they're two of the most devious females you'll ever find on the planet.>

"And that's not *all* I did to make sure Syaoran *will* belong to me, brother," Meirin smiled coyly. "Would you like to hear *everything*?"

"Tell on," he shrugged unconcernedly. <She must have told him she would love him forever or some other nonsense of the sort.>

"I freed him of a wench's claws." She smiled unpleasantly, baring her white teeth ever so slightly.

That was _not_ *the* answer Jinron had been expecting. His brows raised.

"So I *was* right."

"As much I hate to admit it, yes." She sniffed. "But as I said, Syaoran is free now."

"Free? What did you do? Wait...who _is_ the girl, anyway?"

"Kinomoto Sakura," she coolly replied, her face wrinkling as if the name was distasteful to her. She did not bother to add a -san.

Jinron froze. "Kinomoto Sakura-san?" His voice sounded strange to his ears.

<I would never have thought she was the one...>

Meirin sniffed again. "Sou. I showed *her* the ring too, when I went over to her house earlier today. The girl was absolutely shaken, brother! The expression on her face..." she trailed off, laughing in satisfaction.

"Why did you do that?" he asked flatly.

She sat up, staring at him. "Because it was necessary, of course. How else could I have gotten the wench to leave Syaoran alone?" Her stare grew hard, her dark red orbs narrowing. "Why did you ask me such a question?"

The words hit him like a rock. Yes, why _had_ he asked her that? The answer had been so obvious.

It was a part of him...that was angry at his sister.

Angry that Kinomoto Sakura had been hurt by her.

However, that was hardly an answer he could give Meirin. Now, he cleared his throat, desperately searching for something to say. "Uh...gomen. I guess I wasn't thinking straight for a second." Lousy, but it was all that he could come up with then.

Meirin still stared at him, but the hardness had thankfully disappeared from her eyes. "Go to bed if you're sleepy, then. I don't want to talk to a boy whose brain isn't functioning properly."

Jinron scowled at her, but did not retort. "Fine. And you? Planning to stay up half the night dreaming about lover boy?" He half-expected a flare-up, but she only smiled dreamily.

"Why, brother. I never expected you to guess correctly."

He snorted rudely, heading for his bedroom. "Oyasumi," he threw over his shoulder. She did not respond, staring into space. Shaking his head, he entered the room and shut the door.

Kinomoto Sakura.

All of a sudden, he felt oddly happy to know that Meirin had told her that she was betrothed to Syaoran.

Even if it *did* mean that she was hurt.

Even to that extent.


"...and that's why you get -12xy for the answer," Maruyama-sensei said, flipping a page of her textbook. "Now, would anyone like to demonstrate the next problem on the board?"

Sakura's hand shot up. A large sweatdrop slowly made its way down the teacher's forehead.

"Anyone *else*?" she pointedly asked.

 A sea of blank, silent faces met hers, and she sighed resignedly. "Douzo, Kinomoto-san."

Sakura walked up to the board and did the sum, as she had been doing for the past 10 sums. And as all 10 times before, she got it right. Scattered applause broke out from the students, and Sakura flashed them a grin before returning to her seat.

Maruyama-sensei had no idea whether to laugh or cry. Of course, she was extremely delighted that Kinomoto Sakura, whose mathematical abilities were somewhat below average, had somehow turned into a brilliant pupil overnight, but...it did not seem normal to her. Every time the girl came up to the board, the wide smile that seemed pasted on her face that morning disappeared, and she bit her lip as if she had to get the sum correct or die.

<No,> the teacher decidedly thought, <it's just not right. Kinomoto-san's definitely not herself today.> And besides, the rest of the class was clearly taking advantage of the situation. No one else would bother to volunteer as long as Kinomoto-san did.

However, there *was* one way to resolve the present state of matters.

"Get out your writing pads, class. We're having a surprise test now." A plaintive chorus of protesting groans sounded, but she took no notice. "Hurry up, please."

As the students unwillingly pulled out their writing pads, she noted with some discomfort that Kinomoto-san was *still* smiling. She blinked, but the green-eyed girl still had that too-bright smile on her face.

<She _can't_ be pleased I'm giving them a test...can she?>

<Aspirin. As soon as class ends, I'm taking an aspirin. The hot weather is making me hallucinate. Or if I'm not hallucinating, I will be soon.>

"It's all your fault, Sakura," Takashi hissed at her. A strangled 'Yeow!' promptly followed that; a shoe heel had made firm contact with his foot.

Chiharu looked over at Sakura with a rueful smile. "Ignore him," she calmly said. Takashi sputtered, but kept quiet. Sakura winked back at her friend, turning her attention to the sums Maruyama-sensei was writing on the board.

For the rest of the class, it seemed an eternity before the recess bell rang.


"That was SUCH a hard test!" Rika wailed as soon as Maruyama-sensei stepped out of the classroom. "I think I got half the sums wrong...and that's only if I'm *lucky*!"

"I'm beginning to see why they say that Maths is the devil's subject." Tomoyo sighed, and the others nodded agreement.

"Sakura-chan, what did you think?"

"Eetou...it was ok. Pretty easy, actually."

"NANI?!" The yelp from everyone made Sakura jump.

"Y-You can't be serious!" Rika choked.

"Demo, it _was_ easy. Didn't you notice? All the sums could be solved with the distributive property. Do one and you can do all." A chorus of wails broke out at this.

"Distributive! I used *commutative*!" Chiharu moaned. "Oh, no wonder I got such huge answers! I'm gonna fail, I know it!"

"Sakura-chan, how did you do it?" Tomoyo asked, wide-eyed in astonishment.

"Well, she *did* get all the sums she went up to do right," Naoko offered. "But it's just not like you, Sakura-chan. Just yesterday you were groaning to all of us how much you hated Maths, and now you've apparently become a genius in the subject. *Are* you really our Sakura? Or are you ill?" She pressed her hand to Sakura's forehead. "No, your temperature's normal."

Sakura sweatdropped. "Minna...I just found that Maths wasn't so hard once I concentrated and really paid attention, that's all."

"As simple as that?" Naoko sounded sceptical.

"Un." Abruptly, the auburn-haired girl stood up, grabbing her bento. The others stared at her in surprise.

"Aren't you eating with us today?" Chiharu asked.

Sakura gave them a weak smile. "Gomen nasai, minna...I'd like to eat alone today. If that's okay with all of you," she quickly added.

"Of course," Tomoyo reassured. Her violet eyes were concerned. "Sakura-chan...daijobu?"

"Daijobu." But the smile that accompanied the response was even weaker than the first one, and Tomoyo's brow creased. However, she made no comment, and Sakura left them without saying anything further.

Tomoyo shook her head so that her lavender tresses swung about her shoulders. "Something's wrong with her," she murmured worriedly.

"What could be wrong?" Takashi asked in confusion. "She seems really chipper today. I've never seen her smile so much. And heck, she volunteered to answer questions in _every_ class just now! A big improvement, if you ask me."

Rika hit him over the head with her notebook. "Mou-u! How dense can you boys get? Can't you see that behaviour like that is so abnormal for Sakura-chan? Sure, she's cheerful, but she's so...so disgustingly genki. Well, except that she didn't seem so happy just now. But she's never like that normally. And she _never_ volunteers herself in Maths class-we all know how much she loathes the subject. So why has she suddenly turned into a Maths expert today?"

"But I *still* don't get it!" the dark-haired boy plaintively said. "What's wrong with her being genki? Even if she's being over-genki, still..."

Chiharu patted his arm soothingly. "There, there. We girls are naturally more perceptive-it's something you dull-witted boys will never see."

"Oh. Well, I-HEY!" The girls all collapsed into giggles, except for Tomoyo. Her violet orbs had not lost their worried look, and now she sighed, putting an effective halt to the hilarity.

"What's wrong, Tomoyo-chan?" Rika gently enquired.

"I hope Sakura will be all right. I've never seen her like this before...something must have really upset her."

The others' eyes grew serious at this. "Are you sure?" Naoko asked.

Tomoyo nodded, her pretty face clouded. "Sure as anything."

"I think...oi!" Takashi's exclamation made the girls turn to him in surprise.

"Where's Syaoran? I could have sworn I saw him here just a while ago..."

"Li-kun? He was here all the-" Rika's sentence was cut off as she stared around her. Except for the five of them, the room was empty.

"This is so weird. He _was_ here!" Chiharu muttered.

All of a sudden, Tomoyo's face cleared. "Is that so?" she murmured softly.

"What is 'so', Tomoyo-chan?" Naoko asked in bewilderment.

"Maybe Sakura-chan will be more herself after break," Tomoyo placidly replied.

Naoko stared. "How do you know?"

"Ne...let's just say I have a feeling." <Li-kun went to find her, or I'll eat my hat.>
With a small, mysterious smile, she opened her bento and began eating.

Rika and the others looked at one another, considering trying to coax her to say more, but knew it would do no good. Where Sakura was concerned, their friend kept herself closed--as shut as a clam.


Sakura threw her bento down and sat herself beneath the shade of the large tree, leaning against its broad trunk. Closing her emerald eyes, she sighed, letting the smile slide off her face. It was a relief not to have to pretend to be
cheerful. She had not thought it would be easy to perpetually keep the smile on her face, but she had not expected it to be so hard, either.

<If Tomoyo-tachi only knew that I volunteered myself so many times just so I could stop smiling, even if it was only for a while...>

She hoped she had not made Tomoyo worry, but she knew that the possibility of that was small. Her friend's eyes had looked so worried just now. Sakura sighed again. Small wonder, actually. She had known she was being over-genki, really, but somehow she had been unable to control herself.

It had been a choice between smiling or crying. And the former was of course infinitely preferable.

There was also the Maths bit...Sakura's lips curved up very slightly at the corners. That was _one_ good thing that had come out of the whole situation. She had thrown herself whole-heartedly into the lesson to block out everything, like the sight of Meirin's desk pushed so near to Syaoran's, or the way she purposely kept touching his arm...she cut off any further thoughts along that line. Whatever the case, concentrating on the once-hated subject had prevented her from losing her self-control. And wonder of wonders, she had actually *understood* everything that was going on.

If mere concentrating brought about such effects...perhaps her brother was right, and she _had_ been exaggerating the hardness of Maths, after all. A satisfied feeling washed over Sakura as she recalled how easily the solutions to the sums had come to her. At the very least, the auburn-haired girl knew she would never be troubled by algebraic equations again.

However, that satisfaction did not last long. The faint smile slipped off her face. She had made it through the first half of the day fairly well, but what about in the *next* half? Drawing her knees up to her chin, she dropped her head down. Dimly, she thought that the food her father had made for her would be cold by now, but she did not really care. She had no appetite, at any rate.

Fairly well? The voice said dryly.

<I had a grip on myself all the time,> she thought defensively.

You're lucky nobody knows how you nearly lost yourself when you saw Meirin cling onto Syaoran's arm just now to try and get him to have break with her. Or when she put her hand over his. Or when...

<I did the best I could, all right!> She pushed back her bangs with a jerk, firmly removing the unwelcome images the voice had brought up in her mind. Sakura somehow knew that the voice would be shaking its head if it had had a physical body.

You will get through the rest of the day by the same...methods you used just now, will you not?

<What else can I do?> she wearily told it.

Oh, child, child...

<Don't 'child' me!> she snapped at the voice. <I'm already 17! And what *are* you, anyway? I've never heard you speak to me before until yesterday!> Sakura stopped herself at that point, feeling very foolish. To think she was actually arguing with a voice in her head!

The voice almost seemed to give a pleased chuckle.

I should be surprised, but I am not. You are a perceptive girl, after all.

<What are you? Or who are you?> Sakura pleaded, feeling more foolish than ever.

The voice was even more amused now. Amused, and even affectionate. Who am I? Oh, you will find out, child, you *will* find out. Rest assured of that. The voice disappeared from her head before Sakura could retort that she was *not* a child.

She shook her head, with a slight shiver. What _was_ that voice? She ought to be scared of it, but...for some reason she was not. Sakura had no idea why.

A light step sounded, and she quickly looked up. All the colour promptly drained from her face.

"Li-kun?" she whispered.


"What happened?" Syaoran asked, inwardly wincing at the bluntness of the question. He looked at the girl sitting in front of him, his face carefully neutral. He had followed her out of the classroom without the others noticing, and he was determined to know what had upset her.

Her mouth opened, but no words came out. Syaoran could see she was fighting a battle for self-control. And losing it.

At last, she put on a bright smile, like the one she had been wearing the whole morning. Even her voice sounded bright.

"Why...nothing happened, Li-kun. Is anything the matter?"

He kept his gaze steadily trained on her. "Sakura, don't lie to me." Nothing happened? She expected him to believe that?

He had been observing her the entire morning, from the moment she had stepped into class with that bright smile on her face. That *fake* smile; once she had seen him, it had faltered and her eyes had clouded over. He noted that it had been the same when she had seen Meirin.

<I'll bet my last cent that Meirin did something,> he grimly thought. <But I won't know what unless I can get Sakura to tell me.>

"Lie?" Her voice was a trifle unsteady now. "Li-kun, what are you talking about? I'm not lying."

Syaoran shook his head. She was a terrible liar. A spark kindled in her green eyes at that.

"What gives you the right to ask me such a question?" she flatly asked. It would have been more impressive if she could have kept a betraying tremble out of her words. And if she had been looking straight at him.

What gave him the right? It was a good point. He did not want to say that he had barely prevented himself from forcibly shaking Meirin to get some answers just now. He had noticed her mouth trembling as she bent her head to do her work, the slight shadows under her eyes, the green orbs ever so faintly red-rimmed. And when he looked closely, his sharp eyes had seen that Sakura's delicate face was paler than normal.

Anger had followed; anger that she had been hurt. Anger that her source of pain was Meirin-and him.

"Is it something that Meirin did?" he queried, his tone almost casual.

Her gaze flew to meet his then. Shocked, almost frightened green locked onto unyielding amber, and she froze like a deer caught in the glare of a car's headlights.

"I...ie...o-of course it isn't..." Her voice really shook now.



Before Sakura could think, Syaoran had pulled her to her feet and was gripping her shoulders tightly.

"Li...Li-kun!" she stammered.

She wanted to pull her eyes away from his, but flying would have been more possible then. The twin orbs of molten amber-brown almost seemed to hold her in place, to control her movements.

"Sakura, *stop* hiding from it. I can _see_ you're upset, and that my cousin is more likely than not the cause."

How could anyone's eyes be so...magnetic? Sakura swallowed, wishing with all her might that she had never stepped out of the classroom. "Meirin-san *didn't* do anything!" she almost wailed, making a last effort to hide the truth.

"Or is it me, then?" Syaoran's steely tones had become quiet. With a start, Sakura realised that there was a new emotion in his eyes now.


<Iie...iie. I never wanted him to be hurt!>

"Congratulations on your engagement," she said faintly.

His eyes widened. "What did you say?"

"Omedetou, Li-kun. I don't hold it against you for not telling me sooner...I also hope you and Meirin-san have a bright future together." The words choked; she alone knew how much it cost her to say them. Sakura clenched her hands into fists, willing the tears to stay back just a while longer.


Congratulations on your engagement...the words kept repeating themselves in Syaoran's head as he stared incredulously at Sakura. She had dropped her gaze, looking to the side.

Now it all made sense to him. "Before any of your friends are made unhappy," Meirin had said. He bared his teeth in a silent snarl. If only he had seen what those words really meant.

"Meirin-san showed me the lotus ring," Sakura added dully. "Li-kun...let me go. Please."

Let her go? He was not completely done. Not yet.

"Look at me, Sakura," he softly said. She made no move to comply, and he cupped her chin in one hand and turned her to face him.

In one swift move, he kissed her.


Sakura froze in place.

She had never imagined that Syaoran's lips would be so warm. Or soft. The kiss was like fire, coursing through her mind, filling her senses until there was no room for anything else. And why would she want-or need to feel anything else, anyway? Sakura was light-headed, dizzy; she might have been flying past the stars. Dimly, she was aware that Syaoran had an arm circling her waist, and was glad. <I'd probably fall down without it,> she giddily thought. Somewhere during the kiss, her knees had turned to jelly. Her brain, too.

Finally, Syaoran broke the kiss, his eyes slowly opening as if from sleep.

"I don't know what else Meirin told you," he said huskily, "and I don't care. I'm not engaged to her voluntarily, Sakura-it was arranged by our families. I never even knew until yesterday."

She stared at him mutely, a tear trickling down her cheek. He gently brushed it away, his gaze never leaving hers.

"I don't love her, Sakura. I never could. Someone else already has my heart." Her eyes widened in shock, and he shook his head.

"Sakura, don't you get it _yet_? I love you."

I love you.

Tears came in earnest then. Burying her head in his chest, she wept, but not because of sadness. If anything, she had never felt so crazily ecstatic and relieved at the same time. Syaoran's hold on her tightened in response.

For them, it was enough. More than enough; it was everything.


Behind a nearby wall, Meirin drew back. Her fists were clenched so tightly that they drew blood, but she never felt it. The searing anger burning through her completely erased any other sensations.

Syaoran had *kissed* the girl. Actually kissed her. And told her he loved her. If looks could have killed, the two of them would have long since arrived at the Pearly Gates.

It was not just anger that Meirin felt. There was also pain. "How could he do such a thing," she hissed under her breath, "when he already knows of our engagement! And when he knows _I_ love him!"

Betrayal. Furious tears welled up in her eyes, and she brushed them away impatiently. She had no time to waste on tears.

In their family, there was a punishment for betrayal. But since her grandfather had died, no one had dared to use it. Meirin closed her eyes, willing herself to find the courage to carry it out. Death-and even worse came to those who were unlucky.

<Syaoran deserves it. And that wench especially!> she told herself fiercely. <Besides, Auntie said I *could* use it if I needed to.> She ignored the small voice that reminded her that her aunt had said 'only when there is no other way out'. White-hot anger swelled, threatening to overwhelm everything, but she forced it down with much effort. She had to keep a cool, clear head for this. Syaoran *would* be hers, in the end.

Although...she _would_ have to make him suffer a bit, first.


Back at her apartment after school, Meirin locked herself in her room. It was lucky that Jinron's extra-curricular activity was today-she knew her brother would most definitely have not approved of what she was about to do.

Unlocking a small, deep drawer in her desk, she reached inside and drew out a cloth bundle. She took a deep breath to compose herself, slowly opening the cloth fold by fold.

When all the cloth had been unfolded, a small disc as big as her hand lay exposed to view. One side of the disc was purest white; the other side pitch black. A sinuous line divided the disc so that it looked as if it was made of two teardrops. Yin and yang; the white male half and the dark female half.

Taking a penknife that lay on the desk, Meirin opened it and slit a gash on her right wrist, wincing as she did so. She let four drops of blood drip onto the disc, two on the white side and two on the black side.

Placing the disc on the floor, Meirin knelt beside it and pressed her hands together as if in prayer. She started to chant an incantation in Cantonese.

"Ancient Master wise
Dispenser of justice
Embodiment of truth
Troubled times come
I have need of you
This faithful servant knows
Her plea shall be heard
Answer her summons, Great Master."

The disc began to glow, and a voice exploded in Meirin's head.


To merely call it a voice was to call the ocean a puddle. It nearly crushed Meirin against the inside of her skull; yet at the same time it filled her with rapture. She had successfully summoned the spirit. She also shuddered-she could feel the immense waves of darkness radiating from the voice.

Evil. A part of her cowered, whimpering in fear, but she ignored it.

She bowed her head. An earthquake could have occurred and she would not have noticed. Everything else paled with that voice filling her brain.

"I am Li Meiling of the Quan Hui clan in Hong Kong, Great Master." There was pain-physical pain. Euphoria too strong always became pain quickly. Her hands twitched; she was sweating, now.


"He was my grandfather, Great Master." Her muscles might jerk, but she kept her voice steady-or as steady as she could, at any rate.

WAS. Meirin nodded frantically, fear striking her.


"Great Master, I ask that you take my cousin, Li Syaoran."

A sound remarkably like a snort sounded. EXPLAIN YOURSELF.

"Great Master, take him to be your subject as I am; bind his soul to yours. Let him turn from the people he loves now, and return to his family in your service."

The spirit seemed to be considering. Meirin shuddered again as more dark waves of evil rolled across her mind.


"He did, Great Master. But I assure you that he is strong, even stronger than I am in the use and control of magical powers. He learns fast and well, and is very intelligent. He failed because the Clow Mistress distracted him, pulled him away from his path. He can destroy her if you take him for yourself, Great Master."

Maniacal laughter sounded, and Meirin wailed as it thundered through her head.


Meirin screamed as the voice crashed home, tears of joy rolling down her face.

<You *will* be mine, Syaoran. And that Kinomoto wench will die...by your own hands.>


Index of Japanese words/translations:

Baka--stupid, idiot (your choice)
Oyasumi (nasai)--good night
Douzo--please (take it, do it etc)
Eetou--a word said when pausing to stop and think for a while
Genki--happy, cheerful
-tachi--a suffix meaning 'and the other people'


1. Blah. Well, how do you like what my twisted imagination came up with? I don't know *what* I'm turning CCS into, really...do you think I should continue with the story so weird? All in favour, mail me to say so. Douzo, minna-san.

2. I apologise for how silly this chapter sounds...well, it sounds silly on my ears, at least. *hangs head in shame* Still, I _did_ have fun writing it-especially the kissing bit. <unashamed snicker> Although I know that bit probably sucked, all those who think I should write _more_ kissing scenes, again mail me and let me know. Or if you think I should give up writing romance, well, you can tell me that, too. Hey, I'm a writer who'll do anything for C&C. <laugh> Almost anything.

3. About the 'Quan Hui' clan-in Hanyu Pinyin, the character 'Quan' means authority or rights, and 'Hui' means intelligence. So the whole Li clan think they've got power and brains, in a nutshell. <g> Again, these characters sound totally different in actual Cantonese. Sumimasen...^^;; But there *are* people in Hong Kong who speak Chinese too, so I'm hoping that nobody will flame me about this...please? *puppy-dog eyes*

4. I might as well say that I take The Finding *one chapter at a time*, so please don't mail me asking what will happen in the next three chapters, etc because I have no idea at all. I just let my imagination flow with each part, and write what I think fits best. So be warned-total weirdness in the area of 'magic and mystery' is forthcoming. Also some darkness, so please keep an open mind. (Urk, I shudder to think what those who know my *real* age will say to me when they read that...^_^;;;;)

5. Again thanks to my pre-readers, Jin-chan, Tin-onee, Kittyhawk-san...and also double thanks to Kittyhawk-san and Ann-chan for hosting this unworthy one's fanfiction. I also apologise humbly for being so 'lor sor' (any Singaporeans reading this will know what I mean ^^), and am grateful to minna-san for supporting and encouraging me every time through my perpetual ramblings and beating about the bush. Peace to y'all.

Next part: More about the 'Great Master' is revealed as it gets down to work, Jinron makes some moves that put Syaoran's back up. <snigger> Sakura is a teeny bit confused, and Touya gets a shock of sorts. Meirin also has more up her sleeve than you'd think...be there or be nowhere, hon.

Dewa mata,

--Syaoran no Miko

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