"Grandfather, we're having a couple more guests for dinner tonight" Sonomi announced as she entered the room where Masaki Amimiya was patiently waiting in a comfortable chair.
"Oh, how nice. Are they friends of your daughter's?" Masaki asked favoring his granddaughter with a wistful smile. "You and Nadeshiko used to bring your friends over quite a bit when you were younger. You always seemed to love spending the summer by the sea together..."
Sonomi smiled as she reflected on the summers she and her favorite cousin had spent in their grandfather's manor house. Those had been some of the best years of her life. She treasured them despite the longing they created and the memories they awakened of the succession of years she'd spent without Nadeshiko. The loss of her cousin had been a sharp knife to the heart that was tinged with harsh regret. Masaki was one of the few people who had been able to truly understand her grief and remorse over the fact that they had ignored Nadeshiko's earlier invitations to spend New Years with her. Their pride had left them all with an emptiness inside that could never again be refilled, because she was one of those people who could never be replaced.
"Not quite. One of them is the older brother of Tomoyo's best friend from school. Tomoyo had invited both him and a friend in for tea this afternoon and I decided to let them stay for dinner." Sonomi explained. "The boy's sister, Sakura, is currently recovering from pneumonia at Tokyo Metropolitan, so my daughter decided to try and cheer her brother during this difficult time."
"Oh, how kind your daughter is" Masaki said with a nod. "I understand, it must be difficult for the young man to come to terms with such an unfortunate situation."
"His name is Touya."
Masaki looked slightly startled.
"Touya...and Sakura. Weren't those the names of..."
Sonomi nodded as a frown formed on her face.
"They've come back into our lives despite everything" she said. "Sakura is in Tomoyo's class at school. I only found out about it when Fujitaka called asking my permission to allow Tomoyo to visit Sakura in the hospital."
"And you say Sakura is ill?" Masaki asked worriedly.
"She's recovering. It's not like it was with Nadeshiko." Sonomi said calmingly. "I was very worried though, which is why I allowed Tomoyo to go provided she wear a flu mask. I didn't want her to miss seeing her friend if the worst happened."
"That was very gracious of you, Sonomi. I know you don't get along with Nadeshiko's husband."
"He was a good teacher and a good man, I've come to regret staying away all those years simply because I was jealous of the attention Nadeshiko paid him." Sonomi replied sadly. "She was so young when she decided to go out and start a new life, I felt as though she'd left me behind. I see now that that wasn't the case."
"We've all made mistakes" Masaki said sorrowfully. "Then we often wait until it's too late to fix them. I'd like to meet this young man. It might still be possible for me to take part in the lives of Nadeshiko's children like she wanted me to."
"Take it slowly" Sonomi advised "His family has been through so much already."
Then she gestured for her grandfather to follow her into the dining room.
Tomoyo, Touya, and Yukito were waiting for them there. When Sonomi entered the room with Masaki, Touya they all rose politely and Touya stared patiently at them. It was clear the young man had never expected Sonomi to try and bridge the gap between them. The rift created by his mother's death was great and the fact that he had stayed despite that spoke well of his own desire to know and be acknowledged by his mother's family.
"Grandfather, this is Touya Kinomoto and Yukito Tsukishiro." Sonomi announced, receiving a brief nod from Touya and a light smile from Yukito. "Touya, Yukito, this is Masaki Amamiya."
"It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance" Masaki said walking up to Touya and putting hand out.
Touya shook it with a tentative expression on his face. Masaki repeated the gesture for Yukito, before rewarding Tomoyo with an earnest hug.
"Please be seated" Sonomi invited "dinner will be here shortly."
Touya wondered if he looked as nervous as he felt. He'd spent years ignoring the existence of his mother's family, echoing their treatment of he and his father during his mother's funeral. Nadeshiko had often spoken of her favorite cousin and grandfather. He knew she would have wanted him to meet them if given the chance. After all, his mother had spent what was left of her life wanting them to finally accept her invitations to visit. It almost seemed sacrilegious to turn away after Sonomi had finally opened up and finally accepted them. There was a part of him that was slightly angry at the fact that these people hadn't even come to see his mother during her final moments, hadn't believed his father about the severity of Nadeshiko's condition until after the death certificate had been signed. He remembered the broken expression Sonomi had been wearing when she first saw Nadeshiko's body. Touya had resented Nadeshiko's family immensely for not coming to see her, but he'd still had a small amount of pity for Sonomi even if she hadn't spoken to him at all during the ceremony. He saw the regret in the eyes of the people he believed to be his own grandparents and their apparent shock and disbelief that they'd missed seeing their daughter's final moments, and found it very difficult not to pity them as well. At least Touya had known how much his mother loved him and gotten to see her smile one last time before it was over. The Amamiya's hadn't seen his mother's smile, they'd only seen the breathless unmoving form of a women long gone. Someone who'd once been the lighthearted person who'd greatly influenced their lives all those years ago.
Now as he stared at Masaki Amamiya seated before him at the dinner table, Touya knew that he couldn't be angry at the man. This person was also filled with regret at his mother's passing and no method of turning back the clock to undo his past misgivings.
"Where are you from Mr. Amamiya?" Yukito asked politely.
"A city by the sea, young man" Masaki said with a small smile "and I find myself missing it, despite the fine weather here."
"You should visit in the spring, the Sakura trees are quite something" Yukito commented.
"We also have our yearly festival" Touya put in. "Tomoyo sings for it every year. My sister Sakura is always there as well, helping with the class booth."
Masaki looked a little surprised at the subtle invitation. Then he smiled once more as he remembered attending a similar event for his granddaughters many years before.
"I'd like to see it" he said. "I'm sure things have changed greatly in Tomoeda after all these years."
"That's wonderful Grandfather, you can see Tomoyo sing and meet Touya's sister. They're the best of friends after all." Sonomi responded happily.
"I'd like that. What does your school usually do for the festival, Touya?"
"We usually arrange a small cafe for downtown" Touya replied. "It's become almost a tradition for us. I wouldn't mind if you stopped by either."
"Ah, you young people, so energetic" Masaki commented. "My high school class used to put out a small tea stand for the local festivals. It was very small and there was a war going on, but we always managed to bring someone good cheer, if only for the moment."
"That must have been hard" Touya said somberly.
"War is always hard on children" Masaki said with a sad smile. "Children don't understand very much of it, so the hardships can seem even more unbearable at times. I met my wife a year after it ended when I was seventeen. It was one of the happiest moments of my life and it helped me to move forward despite everything."
Touya nodded, while Yukito and Tomoyo shared a slight frown at the revelation. They knew they had been fortunate to have been born during peace time and in a relatively quiet segment of the modern era.
"What was she like, your wife?" Touya asked. Nadeshiko had told him years ago that his great-grandmother was long dead, but he couldn't help being a bit curious about this person.
"She was very much like your mother" Masaki said quietly. "She always smiled for me. Her talent for playing any musical instrument was simply amazing. She wouldn't have-she was a very forgiving person. My wife always accepted people as they were, not how she wanted them to be."
"My dad is the same way" Touya told him. "She seems like a very special person."
"She was" Masaki said. "As was my granddaughter."
The evening, which had taken on a less awkward tenor over time, eventually came to a close. Sonomi and Tomoyo said their goodbyes to the boys after seeing them to the door. Masaki followed close behind them at a slow pace and insisted upon speaking to Touya privately just beyond the front gate. Touya waved Yukito on ahead and told him to meet him at the Kinomoto's later.
"What was it you wanted to speak to me about?" Touya asked meaningfully.
"You know who I am" Masaki stated evenly. "I'm surprised at your willingness to speak to me after what happened with Nadeshiko. I would like to offer my sincerest apologies for all the hurt I've caused you and your family. It was only afterward that I realized my son's foolishness in ignoring your father's words."
Masaki bowed in order reiterate his declartion, an action that greatly surprised Touya.
"That's not necessary Mr.-"
"Please, call me Grandfather" Masaki said. "Tomoyo does. It is only right that you do as well. I should have been more forthright a long time ago, while my granddaughter was still alive."
"I'm sure my mother wouldn't want you to only live for your regret." Touya admitted. "She wanted to see you for such a long time. Sonomi too. I'd like to start over if it means that Sakura can come to know you as well. She needs family almost as much as I do."
"Would you all be willing to visit me for your Summer Vacation?" Masaki asked. "I have a rather big house. You could bring your friend, Yukito as well. He seemed like pleasant company."
"Are you sure?" Touya asked tentatively. This was all so new to him. Members of the Amamiya family actually reaching out to him and by proxy Sakura, was something that had never figured into his hopes for the future. He knew it would mean the world to his sister and having Tomoyo for a cousin meant that they too had the potential for such a familial relationship. Touya had always wanted a little cousin, even if Tomoyo was outlandish in many ways.
"I am" Masaki answered, handing Touya a scrap of paper. "Have your father give me a call when your sister is well enough. I'm old enough to know to take second chance when it's given."
Tomoyo called later that evening to confirm their weekend bus trip and the schedule for any connectors they might need. When Saturday came around the two teens were well prepared for their meeting with Tomoyo at the Tomoeda stop. They made her promise beforehand not to interfere with their negotiations with the witch.
"The monster would be sad if something happened to you because of this" Touya reasoned.
"We don't know what she'll say either" Yukito commented. "Please be careful."
"Oh don't worry, I'm only here for moral support and to make sure everything goes as planned" Tomoyo insisted. "Besides, I did mention that I wanted to document what you're doing."
"I don't see why" Touya grumpled.
"Because it's interesting" Tomoyo answered cheerfully.
She was well aware that Sakura and Touya were her cousins now. Her great-grandfather's treatment of Touya and her own mother's explanation later that night had . She was enjoying the idea of having extended family living close by. It also meant she had an even closer connection to Sakura, despite meaning that she was also much farther from any type of romantic relationship with her most important person. Although, she knew she'd resigned herself to the idea that Sakura didn't feel the same way some time ago. Their being cousins meant that when Sakura went off and got married, the two of them would still have some type of relationship. Tomoyo always liked to look on the bright side of everything and being a member of Sakura's family was something solid that would never fade away, and she knew could live with that.
"Strange kid" Touya muttered.
"Maybe it runs in the family" Tomoyo suggested.
Touya sighed before turning to look at her.
"That's true, come to think of it" he said thoughtfully. "You and Sakura are very alike. After all, what's a monster without her accomplice."
Tomoyo giggled in response.
"Be nice Touya" Yukito said lightly. "She is your family now, after all. She'd look up to you as her older cousin."
"More like having another little sister" Touya muttered. "They're both trouble."
"It's nice to know you care Touya nii-san" Tomoyo said with a wink.
The bus ride was relatively quiet, and they only had to catch one secondary bus to reach their destination. There a boy familiar to Touya, who had an interesting case of heterochromia, met them and directed them to Yuko's shop.
"Are you sure this is what you want? Really really sure?" Watanuki asked Yukito and Touya.
He'd done so every five minutes since greeting them at the bus stop. Tomoyo seemed more amused that anything. She was pleased that he had complimented her outfit as it was one of her personal designs. When Sakura returned to Tomoeda, Tomoyo hoped to make her a similar ensemble if it proved to be durable during this test run.
"We're sure already" Touya said with some annoyance.
"We know what we're doing" Yukito placated the younger teen kindly. "We've tried everything else for our problem, but it doesn't seem to work very well."
Watanuki just shook his head, convinced that they didn't know what they were in for and brought them to the front gate of Yuko's shop. Unsurprisingly they were all allowed entrance as even Tomoyo could see the shop because of her secret, but un-grantable wish.
"You already know what we want" Touya stated simply once everyone was settled into Yuko's sitting room.
Yuko looked appraisingly at Touya and then Yukito, before turning her attention to Tomoyo.
The girl shook her head with an amount of emotional fortitude that Yuko found she envied. A ten-year-old with such determination to keep from meddling in the emotions of their peers was commendable. Particularly when said child was the one on the unrequited end of a romantic issue. The witch decided to be merciful and pass her over, since there was no wish to be granted. The other two, however, were fair game in her mind.
Watanuki arrived with snacks and sake a moment later much to her delight.
"Well then, let's get down to business shall we?" Yuko said light heartedly. "I don't suppose you've got any other requests that this shop can provide for?"
Both Yukito and Touya shook their heads.
"Sake?" the witch offered charitably.
"Not in front of my cousin" Touya said. "I'm not going to drink with you and not while a child is under my care."
Tomoyo looked up at him thoughtfully. The comment had surprised her. Even with the banter they'd had on the way over, it was still very new to have an older cousin around her who cared about her. It was very much like having an older brother, she decided, even if he was a bit forward. Tomoyo prided herself on being extremely independent for someone her age, but she'd allow Touya's remarks. This woman wasn't an ordinary person and they all had reason to step lightly around her, so Tomoyo didn't mind her cousin looking out for her in this strange place. Even if Yuko did seem like an interesting person to be around.
"hmmm...a wise decision. Alcohol often clouds a person's mind to the point where they make imprudent choices, shall we say" Yuko remarked. "If you are certain that your current wish is what you desire, then you must pay the price."
"What exactly is that price, Ms. Yuko?" Yukito asked politely.
Yuko looked back and forth between the boys before pointing an emphatic finger in the grey haired teen's direction.
"You! I will give both of you the protections you require, if you do exactly what I say. You must seal this contract with a kiss...for...let's say magical reasons" Yuko said with a smirk. "You have a choice between two individuals with unusual magical potential. Watanuki or your friend, Touya."
A distinct banging noise was heard from the kitchen as Watanuki started complaining boisterously about indentured servitude and how Yuko had "no right to sell him off to people like that". Followed by a chorus of chatter from what sounded like two small children.
For the first time in his life Yukito was at a loss for words. He gulped slightly once the shock had worn away. Kissing a stranger was a bit disconcerting, but if he kissed Touya it might reveal his feelings for him. He couldn't afford to lose Touya as a friend, it would be too much for him.
Touya cast one jealous eye toward the kitchen before turning back to the witch.
"If it's strictly necessary." He said giving the witch an annoyed glare.
"Oh it is" Yuko said grinning broadly as she poured herself some sake and took a swig.
"I...don't mind if Yuki doesn't" Touya responded blushing slightly, unable to look at his best friend.
Yukito's head snapped up in his direction.
"I see" Yukito said with a smile as he took in his friends awkward posture and blush. "That's very kind of you To-ya."
"Can we at least do this in private" Touya murmured, still embarrassed.
Yuko nodded her assent and pointed toward a sliding door in the right corner of the room.
Once they were alone the mood changed.
Touya began to feel anxious, even as Yukito was able to calm himself with the knowledge that his friend might not mind this as much as he was letting on. The room was no longer precariously dark as Yukito managed to locate the light switch.
"To-ya are you sure about this? I'm grateful that you'd do this for me and I'm sure Watanuki will appreciate being spared from doing something he doesn't want to" Yukito said, slightly nervous.
Despite his assumptions about Touya, he was still unsure of the depth of his friend's feelings toward him. This situation would make anyone feel awkward and embarrassed. He was glad that Touya wasn't immediately disgusted at the idea of them participating in such an intimate gesture, but he was still afraid of his true emotions being found out. He didn't think he could handle a rejection from Touya. His friend was so much a part of his life that to lose him would simply be disastrous at this point. The problem was, Yukito wasn't very good at hiding these types of feelings. At least not when it involved something as telling as a kiss would be.
"Yuki" Touya said finally looking his friend in the eye. "I don't mind. We agreed that we had to do whatever it took to keep Li from hurting anyone."
Yukito closed his eyes. He could feel his heart almost break at that statement. Touya cared about him, he didn't want to see him hurt by their mage-like stalker. Nonetheless it still hurt to know that paying the price for the protection they needed was the only reason his friend was going through with it.
"O-okay" Yukito said. Then he gave his friend the best smile he could muster. "Whatever you say To-ya."
Touya eyed him thoughtfully, tilting his head a little.
"There's something bothering you" he said. It wasn't a question.
"No, it's nothing. I'm fine Touya." Yukito insisted.
"Yuki, you know you can tell me anything" Touya said earnestly. "If kissing me makes you that uncomfortable then-"
"No, it's nothing. Really To-ya. We need to do this so that we can stop Li from hurting you."
"I want you to do this because you want to, not because you feel you have to. We can find another way. The witch isn't our only option." Touya stated.
Yukito was startled by his admission. He hadn't expected Touya to want this and possibly...him.
"I-I do want this Touya. I just didn't want to force you into anything."
Touya smiled lightly in response.
"You're the exception Yuki, you always have been" he said.
Yukito found himself enthralled by Touya's brown eyes as they shone with the depths of his emotions. He put a hand on Touya's shoulder and felt one wrap around his waist.
"I've always liked you, Touya" the grey haired teen uttered as they closed the rest of the distance between them, their lips meeting in a chaste kiss. Touya was finding it very difficult to resist taking this further when Yukito's tongue swept across his lips and soon he was caught up in the rising tide of his own passions. Touya held the other teen tighter and playfully drew Yukito's tongue into his mouth and began to suck on it. Causing the grey haired teen to elicit a low moan of pleasure, something Touya decidedly wanted to hear more of.
When they finally broke away, breathing heavily, it felt as if the temperature in the room had risen at least twenty degrees. Then suddenly a light began to surround Yukito and his appearance slowly began to change.
The door to the room slid open as Yuko, Tomoyo, and a disgruntled Watanuki entered. A strange looking creature with rabbit ears was perched on Watanuki's shoulder. Touya surmised that he would have paid the creature more mind if he hadn't been so worried about what was happening to Yukito.
When the transformation was done Yukito now wore a long white silk robe, had a set of wings sticking out of his back, and hair that had turned white and simultaneously grown another ten inches.
"Yuki..." Touya started. The boy in front of him looked up and Touya noticed that Yukito's eyes had turned blue.
"Who are you?!" Yukito shouted at him.
"Ah Yue" the witch said with a broad hand gesture. "Welcome to the twentieth century."
"You! You witch! You did this! Where's Clow, I'll-"
"Not as dignified as you usually are" Yuko commented. "You're in my shop, please remember that before you insult me." Although she giggled afterward, which caused Touya to doubt the sincerity of the threat. "Clow sealed you away. This boy woke you up by performing a certain rite with your counterpart."
"Wait, so this isn't Yuki?" Touya questioned her. "How did my kissing him cause this to happen?"
The witch turned to him smiling broadly.
"This is the other guardian of darling Clow's cards" she said. "Meet Yue."