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Keeper of the Key

Chapter Text

"Are you sure about this To-ya. Your father really won't mind me borrowing that book?" Yukito asked "I don't want to take something he might need later for work."

"Relax Yuki, I'm sure he won't mind. He hasn't been down here in a while anyway" Touya assured his friend.

"Because of Sakura..."

The dark haired psychic grimaced. His sister Sakura had been ill for quite some time now. She had a severe case of pneumonia and was presently being cared for at a Tokyo hospital. Touya and his father, Fujitaka Kinomoto, had been traveling back and forth to Tokyo Metropolitan Hospital for a week now.

Tomoeda Hospital was well equipped to handle a patient with a conventional lung infection. Sakura, however, was an unusual case. After receiving treatment for illness her condition had worsened and the doctors had recommended an emergency transfer to a larger medical facility.

Touya's nerves hackled at the thought of his little sister ending up like their mother, Nadeshiko. Eight years prior, Nadeshiko Kinomoto had fallen grievously ill at the age of 27 and died shortly thereafter. Touya had been six at the time.

He quickly shook his head to rid himself of such thoughts and began to shuffle through the book shelves. Touya and his best friend Yukito, a silver haired boy with an accepting personality and an uncommonly casual demeanor, were currently in the basement of the Kinomoto house looking through Fujitaka's extensive collection of books from all over the world. His father was a well known college professor and Touya knew without a doubt that he would have what they were looking for.

Yukito sent him an apologetic glance, which Touya waved off. Yuki was practically family after all. it was okay if he asked about Sakura even though it was a tense subject right now.

Touya ran his finger over several books before spying a book he'd never seen before. It had a mysterious looking symbol on its spine and marked above it in elegant type was the word "Clow".

"Did you find something Touya?" Yukito asked curiously as he walked over to stand beside the other boy "Oh, that's a strange title for a book."

Touya gave it a tug and the book slipped leisurely off the shelf. The cover was arrayed with the symbol of a sun inside a star that was surrounded by miniature suns and half moons. His fingers moved to lightly trace the three dimensional ridges of the cover and suddenly the book sparked to life.

Touya startled and dropped the book as he and Yukito both took a jerky step back. Yukito blinked and seemed to have a slightly shocked expression on his face.

"Are you okay Touya?" Yuki asked as he glanced down at his friend's hand, checking for any sign of burn or injury.

Touya mutely shook his head. He couldn't fathom what had just happened. Had the book just sparkled?

The two of them watched as a single card slid out from the book's binding and at a glance the metal clasp had become unhinged. The card rapidly whirled up and stared floating in the air in front of them.

"I am the almighty creature of the seal!" said a voice coming from the card, which had a picture of a large cat with wings on it and the words "The Clow" printed neatly above it. A yellow stuffed animal with cute little white wings and funny rounded ears suddenly leaped out of it, holding it's paw high as it peered out at them.
The stuffed animal blinked.

"Wait, you're not a little girl!" it exclaimed in a seemingly male voice "You were supposed to be a little girl, say this high with brown hair and...you're not her!"
Touya blinked at the creature and then smirked.

"So you made a mistake?" he said smugly. "Funny, you wouldn't think something with fluff for brains would have to worry about anything."

The creature looked decidedly pissed off and got right up in Touya's face, jabbing a paw pointedly at his nose as it spoke.

"Who're you calling fluff for brains you big lug! I could take you on in my true form, you just wait!" it shouted at him.

"I'd like to see you try, short stuff" Touya said teasingly as he patted the creature on the head. "You're a bit on the small side, aren't you?"

Yukito smiled easily and lightly chided Touya "You shouldn't pick on him To-ya, you were the one who took the book out after all and called him. I'm Yukito by the way" he gestured toward his friend "and this is Touya. Can you tell us what you are and how you came to be here?"

The stuffed animal folded its paws across its chest and floated over to Yukito to get a better look at him.

"I'm Kero" it said, "and it was my job to guard this book for a wizard called Clow. He picked a new master for the book and the cards within it, the Clow Cards, but she isn't here. She was supposed to be here."

The two boys looked thoughtful.

"You're talking about my sister Sakura." Touya said, his voice taking on a hard edge. "What do you want with her?"

Kero flicked his ears and shuffled indignantly.

"She was supposed to be the one to summon me, open the book and then collect the cards once they flew out and went to various places in town."

"Why would Sakura have to do that?" Yukito wanted to know "What can these cards do exactly?"

Touya nodded in agreement. The dark haired boy moved to stand beside Yuki and pointed a finger at Kero's floating form.

"That's what I want to know" he added "this wouldn't involve putting her in danger would it?"

The yellow stuffed animal shifted to the left and looked nervously to the side.

"If the Clow Cards aren't caught it will mean the end of the world" Kero answered anxiously.

Yukito's eyes went wide, while Touya made a move to grab Kero by the throat. The creature barely managed to dodge the teen's first attempt, before Touya managed to get a hold of him.

"What do you mean 'the world's going to end' if my sister doesn't 'collect all the cards'?" Touya asked him with a severe expression on his face "Who the hell is this Clow person that he decided a little girl would have to do such a dangerous thing?"

Yukito for his part, looked severely saddened by this revelation. He couldn't understand why someone would want to make sweet little Sakura, his best friend's sister, go on such a dangerous quest. Not only was it a terrible thing to do, but the pressure of possible failure might have been too much for the young girl to handle.

"It wasn't my choice" Kero protested "Clow did this a long time ago when he locked me and the cards in the book of Clow. He told us he was dying and that we needed to find a new master. So he found one somewhere in the future. Someone of great power, your sister Sakura, and he set everything up as a test for her. That's all I know, I swear."

Touya released him.

"He's telling the truth" the dark haired teen said as he turned to look at Yukito "I can feel it."

Yukito nodded. He had long known about Touya's mysterious abilities and no longer batted an eyelash at the fact that his friend seemed to just "know things" at times. These feelings of his had always turned out to be accurate, whether it was a girl falling from a bridge during one of their field trips or the power going out in the building they happened to be in. Touya's sudden premonitions had always turned out to be right.

"It won't work now though" Kero said after catching his breath "now that you've broken the seal you have to be the one to collect the cards. There could be dangerous consequences if you don't let the cards out right now and let them do what they came here for."

Touya glared at him through narrowed russet colored eyes. He didn't like where this discussion was going.

"Why can't we just leave them here locked up nice and sound?" Touya wanted to know "The world isn't going to end if we do that. Right, you flying piñata?"

"Hey! Look here! I didn't come here because I wanted to, Clow made it so that this had to happen" Kero answered rather indignantly "I don't want to world to end either. I sure as hell didn't want you here instead of my real master, but now what's done is done. The magic within the book is going to overload now that it's woken up and if we don't do something it might explode and take the entire town with it."

"What if I asked the witch to take care of it?" Kero stared wide eyed at brown haired teen.

"How do you know about her?" the stuffed toy wanted to know "She isn't here is she?"

"No, but I've seen her here" Touya informed him "she's been to Tomoeda before with a couple of kids. They were looking for ghosts not the book, if that's what you were worried about."

"It's not that" Kero said shivering slightly "she just gives me the creeps sometimes. Yuko isn't someone to be messed with, she drives a hard bargain and Clow told us never to make any kind of deal with her unless we had to. She'll take your most precious possession and give you only a bit of help before sending you out on your way."

Touya snorted. He'd hadn't had any real dealings with the dimensional witch outside of playing guide for her and her two charges, Watanuki, an unfortunate spirit magnet, and Doumeki, a boy who seemed to repel any and all denizens of the spirit world. Lucky guy.

"Ah To-ya" Yukito said trying to catch his attention "that book is doing it again."

It was too. The book of Clow was now radiating power and shaking like a leaf in the wind from its place on the floor.

"Quick, you need to open it now before the magic bursts out" Kero warned "I don't know what'll happen if it does."

Touya rolled his eyes and took a deep breath before edging toward the shuddering book. Yukito slowly walked up beside him. While Kero dove out of sight and hid behind the silver haired teen, hesitantly poking his head out from behind Yuki's right shoulder.

Yukito placed a hand on Touya's shoulder as the dark haired teen picked up the book and slowly opened it to reveal a stacked deck of cards nestled tidily in a small compartment. The first card in the deck was titled "The Windy". Touya recited the name softly.

Then all hell broke loose as the cards fluttered out of the book and separated in a glittering whirl. A pink colored rod with a red shaped beak at the end and a glittering gem at the hilt appeared and Kero yelled for Touya to grab it.

"Someone wishes to make contact with you, a boy, his name is Touya. Key bestow your powers on him!"

Touya blinked as he was surrounded by a swirl of magic. Yukito gripped his shoulder more tightly as if he feared the magic might do something unexpected to the other.

"And presto! A cardcaptor is born....even if you are the wrong one" Kero said grinning as though he'd just won the lottery "I hope you like pink."

Touya eyed him thoughtfully and turned the staff over in his hands. It was worth a shot. Even if it did remind him of one of those silly magical girl mangas the girls always read. Then he spun it agile twist of his hand and said "Key I command you...change form!" Much to Kero's chagrin and Yukito's abject surprise the staff grew instantly taller and darkened to a deep shade of purple. The formerly red triangular beak turned an off-violet tone to match.

Touya grinned in satisfaction. He was getting the hang of this magic thing. Sparing a glance at the floor directly below him, he spotted a lone card lying in wait. It was the same one he'd seen at the top of the deck.

Yukito moved to pick it up and a wave of light exploded from card. From it, a spirit-like creature toned light blue started to swirl around the room, knocking over bookshelves and taunting him with slightly playful expression.

"Repeat after me 'Key that hides the forces of darkness, show me your true form...under the covenant, I, Touya, command you'."

Touya did.

"Then point the staff toward the card and say 'Return to the form you were meant to be, Clow Card!'"

Touya obliged and the card seemed to settle itself once more. In fact it took on a distinctly new appearance. The back of the card now consisted of the same star symbol in a distinct light yellow drowning in a maze of dark purple. The words "The Touya" were printed neatly on the back in light gold lettering.

"Well that was simple" Yukito said seemingly out of nowhere, releasing his death grip on Touya's shoulder "though I doubt it's going to be that easy to catch them all To-ya."

The psychic nodded solemnly. They were going to be playing fifty card pickup for the next few months at least. Maybe longer. The other Clow cards could be hiding anywhere in Tomoeda.

Kero had frozen in place and took a few moments before the other two noticed.

"Is there something wrong?" Yukito asked the stuffed toy in concern "Are you feeling alright?"

"Yeah plushy, you don't look so good" Touya commented.

Kero fixed him with a sardonic expression before resuming his shocked behavior as he stared at card in Touya's hand.

"I didn't know it was supposed to change like that" he stated rather sullenly "no one's ever been able to undo Clow's work like that. Not even the dimensional witch."

"Who is this witch you keep mentioning?" Yukito asked "How do you know her Touya?"

Touya rubbed the back of his head and tried to think of a way to explain what Yuko was.

"I met her once when I was fifteen. She's a inter-dimensional being who doesn't have to follow the normal laws of nature" Touya informed the teen "by all means she's a witch of some sort with great power. She has long dark hair and wears all kinds of weird clothing. As far as I know she can grant peoples wishes."

Kero nodded in concurrence.

"She'll also take something important from you as payment and sometimes you'll wind up with less than you had. Wishes don't always work out the way you want them to" the guardian reiterated "sometimes they turn dark if you don't get real specific about what you want."

"I think I understand" Yukito said after a moment "thank you."

"This means you're of a much higher level of power than your sister is" Kero said absently "the fact that the card changed immediately means your power is probably more mature than hers is."

"This might be easier than we thought To-ya" Yukito mused thoughtfully, his hands in the pockets green coat, "they might be more willing to listen to you."

"No, Windy's just stupid" Kero said "she waited around for you to catch her because she's lazy. That and she probably likes you."

Touya raised an abject eyebrow at this, but said nothing. They wouldn't know anything until he captured a few more cards. He still had to make it to Tokyo and back this weekend to see how Sakura was doing. A few short phone calls weren't enough for him. He needed to see that she was alright, or as much as she could be in her current condition.

This time Tomoyo Daidoji had insisted on coming with him and Yukito was going as well. Tomoyo was Sakura's best friend in the entire world, she was a talkative, enthusiastic girl, with dark hair and incredibly observant eyes of ebony. She liked to dress people, namely Sakura, in odd costumes from time to time and Touya had no doubt he would hear all about her latest scheme on the train ride.

Chapter Text

"Oh Watanuki!  I'm out of sake.  Be a dear and get me some more, will you." Yuko said as she idly twirled the empty bottle in her hand.

"Grrr...Get it yourself!  What am I?  Your personal servant!  Do you think I exist just to serve your gluttonous needs!" Watanuki spazzed through gritted teeth.

When Yuko answered "Why yes of course, you silly boy.  Why else would you still be here?" it seemed to unnerve him even further.  The shouting match went on for quite a while before Yuko held up a hand.  Her face had a somber expression.

"Well well, we have a visitor it seems" Yuko said in a forbidding tone "please, show him in Watanuki and get out the good sake if you would."

Watanuki turned to see a boy, no more than twelve years of age, dark suit with a cloak to match.  His hair was midnight blue.   A pair of elegantly framed glasses were perched on his nose.  Beneath them were a pair of mysteriously dark eyes.  Those eyes made Watanuki shiver slightly, because he could sense the sheer power behind them.   He quickly escaped to the kitchen to carry out Yuko's request.

Yuko surveyed her guest with a speculative eye.  She knew this person or had known his original form.  The child before her was merely a shade of what Clow Reed had once been.

"I have an urgent request for you, my dear Yuko." Eriol answered her unspoken question.

She chose to ignore the hollowness of those words.  Such an endearment had lost its meaning long ago.  This boy was only a shade, the imperfect reincarnation of the man she had once loved.  He would never again exist in this world.  The witch gestured for him to continue.  She would do what she could, but this was dependent upon whether he could pay the price for what he desired.

"I want you to reverse what happened last night in the Sakura Kinomoto's basement." Eriol said rather firmly "It should never have happened."

"Clow.  Or would you prefer Eriol?" Yuko inquired politely.

"Eriol, if you wouldn't mind" the boy stated.  Yuko noted his slight British accent and concluded  he had spent a great deal of time in that region in his present form.

"You understand the usual price for a time reversal."  It was a statement, not a question.

"I just want things to return to the way he planned them to be." Eriol said convincingly "I am not as familiar with Touya's heart the way I am with Sakura's. I have doubts about whether the boy could fully master the Clow cards"

"I see nothing wrong with another practitioner of magic happening upon your favorite deck of cards." Yuko said idly as she reached a hand out to touch his face.  Her nails touching the edge of Eriol's chin. "Even if the new practitioner may not be quite what you expected them to be, my dear Clow.  Would you like to change your wish perhaps?"

Eriol shivered slightly.  The unpredictability of the situation had unnerved him slightly and though he was weary of Yuko's prodding, her help would not go amiss if he were to test Touya's worth. 

"He changed the form of a Clow Card and made it his own.  No one should be able to perform such a task without my giving them the power to do so." Eriol said calmly, eyes betraying his inner confusion. "I would like to test limit of his power and his true intentions toward the cards."

Yuko's lips twitched slightly upward.

"So, just to clarify.  Your wish is for me to help you test the Touya Kinomoto to ensure that he is worthy enough to be the Cardcaptor and possibly his intentions toward your favorite guardian?" Yuko asked silkily. "That can be arranged, though I will require payment."

Eriol nodded his head, face flushing at the mention of Yue.

"I beseech you, old friend." pleaded the boy "If nothing else.  At least help me to make sure the book of Clow and the cards are safe in Touya's hands.  He should never have been able to bypass my safeguard enchantments, even if it was an accident.  I did not choose him to be the Cardcaptor.  However, the book and Kero have spoken, if the Kinomoto boy is truly worthy then I will not question his status as Clow's successor."

"Your price will be something of Clow's a connection to your past self, be it a possession or a feeling" Yuko stated.  Her voice invoking an edge of finality. "Something that holds sentimental value."

He removed a tattered looking necklace from around his neck and placed in Yuko's outstretched hand as payment for his wish.  Yuko nodded.  This would be enough.

"Don't forget Clow's other descendents" the witch warned.

Eriol's left hand curled into a fist.  His expression losing some of its steadiness.

"Then it seems I will have to be wary of the Li Clan.  They have become greedy and want the power of the Clow cards for selfish reasons." Eriol told Yuko as he shot her a meaningful look. "There is at least one member in every generation with enough skills to capture the cards.  Li Syaoran may be a problem in the future."

"What will you do when he arrives, Eriol?" Yuko asked speculatively.

"I will distract him to the best of my ability, my dear Yuko" Eriol replied, the look in his eye similar to one of Clow's old expressions. "There must be something I can do to keep him away from Touya and Yue's false form.  He must not interfere."

Clow's incarnation rose and bowed  before turning to exit the shop.

"Thank you for the tea" he said "I will leave Touya in your hands."

 Yuko sat there in contemplation for a few moments before going back to her work.  She couldn't directly interfere with the capturing of the Clow cards, but she could use other means to test Touya Kinomoto's true intentions.  He had it seemed, already converted five more cards with the help of Kero, the guardian of the seal, and Yukito Tsukishiro.  Yuko giggled slightly at the thought of Yue existing within such a delightful form.  Not that guardian of judgment wasn't quite the looker himself.  The fact that both guardians stood by Touya's side coupled with the teen's miraculous ability to make the Clow Cards his own, would likely ensure that Eriol accepted the new card master and the Li Clan came up short in the end.


 

"Oh Watanuki!  I have some candy for you to collect!" Yuko called through a fit of giggles.

"You already have me making dinner for you. And dessert.  What more could you possibly want?" Watanuki replied indignantly.

"Oh but this is special candy" Yuko informed him as he entered the room with another glass of sake "it's from another world.  I'm going to need you to go there and get it for me.  Oh and take Doumeki with you.  Consider the return trip part of your White Day gift."

"What?!  You want me to go to another world just to get you sweets?  Do you think I'm Mokona or something?" the teen raged.

"mm...speaking of Mokona.  He will also be coming with you on your trip." Yuko mused as she gestured to the small black Mokona who promptly jumped up onto Watanuki's shoulder.

"Another world, we're going to another world. Tralalalala!" Mokona sang causing Watanuki to have another spaz attack.

"Where exactly are we going?" Watanuki grumbled once he'd calmed down a bit.

"A little shop called the Urahara Shoten" Yuko said gleefully "the owner owes me chocolate.  At least if he wants his wish to come true."

"I don't wanna know" Watanunki said shaking his head.  Why did people keep making deals with Yuko that obviously weren't doing them any good?  He really didn't want to know what this Urahara person was getting out of the deal, because it couldn't possibly be worth it.

The teen and the Mokona got ready and left the shop.

Chapter Text

Two weeks had passed and Sakura's condition had improved drastically. She was now recovering and the doctors said she should be able to return to school within another couple of weeks. Fujitaka had then arranged for after school tutoring sessions for Sakura to attend once she was released to get her up to speed academically. Touya and Yukito had alternated between capturing Clow Cards (one of which had almost interrupted their midterm exams thank you very much), visiting Sakura, and managing their school work. This was harder for Touya than it was for Yukito, because the teen had numerous jobs to get to every single day.

"Good morning To-ya" Yukito called as the dark haired teen neared on his bike.

"Hey Yuki" Touya said with a firm nod "Ready to go?"

"Almost, I was just taking care of a few things in the yard for my grandparents. They're leaving on another trip today."

"Well, get your stuff, we're gonna be late" Touya told him "and I want to get there before Taidou-sensei, she keeps asking me to be in the school play."

"That's going to be a bit difficult seeing as how we're in her class" Yukito reminded him "I really liked the last play she put on."

"That's because you got away with changing your character and" Touya added pointedly "you didn't have to dress like a girl."

"Oh but you were such a pretty Cinderella" Yukito said teasingly.

Touya flushed slightly and turned away.

"It still doesn't change the fact that she wants me to do it again and that's not happening."

"You could always try out for another part" the gray haired teen suggested "it's the Snow Queen, so there are a lot of side characters in it."

"Half of them are still girls" Touya stated with a grimace "and sensei is always set on me playing a girl. I don't have time to be a play with school and looking after Sakura."

"I understand" his friend said with a nod "you always seem so energetic Touya, I forget sometimes that you have so much to do."

"It doesn't help that those cards keep showing up in places where I work."

"At least it makes them easier to find To-ya" Yukito said with an easy smile "and they are less dangerous to everyone else."

Touya hmmm-ed in response and Yukito went to grab his backpack from the front hall. A few minutes later the two of them were riding to school like normal. Except this morning as soon as they reached the gates of Tomoeda High there was another face there to greet them apart from their peers and Toudai-sensei.

Kaho Mizuki smiled pleasantly and waved to the them, causing Touya to nearly crash his bike into on the of the gateposts. Luckily Yukito had seen that he was distracted and put his feet down to slow them before the impact.

"Touya is something wrong?" Yukito questioned. His normally calm expression had turned to one of concern.

"I'll tell you later" Touya whispered.

Kaho walked over to them still smiling. Her smile seemed to brighten more when she looked at Yukito, though Touya was at a loss for why. He knew how beautiful Yukito really was inside and out, but Kaho had left before Yukito moved to Tomoeda. She knew next to nothing about him.

"Good Morning Touya" Kaho said easily "I've come back like I always said I would."

"Sensei" Touya mumbled in greeting as he tried to keep his eyes on the gatepost.

"Hi" Yukito said politely.

"Aren't you going to introduce me to your friend, Touya?" Kaho asked pleasantly as she tried to hide the sudden urge to giggle.

So he did find someone while I was gone she thought I guess what Eriol said was true. We both really have moved on.

"Yuki this is Mizuki-sensei, she was my teacher in middle school" Touya said finally after a moment of silence "Mizuki-sensei this is Yukito."

"It's very nice to meet you, I'm glad Touya has made friends" Kaho said.

Their conversation was interrupted when the bell rang. Touya and Yukito waved a quick good bye before hurrying off, Touya to lock up his bike and Yukito to retrieve his schoolbooks from his locker.

Kaho watched them go with a wistful smile on her face. A part of her had always wondered how her relationship with Touya might have worked out if she had stayed in Japan. Everything was different now and she was happy with Eriol, but a Tomoeda was her home and she had always found herself missing it and the people she knew there while she lived in London. She still cared deeply about Touya even though she no longer had romantic feelings for him and was glad that he had found someone else to love. Even though it was apparent that that person didn't know about his feelings for them.

"Class today we have a new transfer student from England" Toudai-sensei announced when they were all seated "Her name is Akizuki Nakuru and I hope you will do your best to welcome her into our class."

The girl who stood next to Toudai-sensei was short with long flowing brown hair and a small plaited braid in between on her right side. She bowed slightly and smiled at the class. Nakuru immediately zeroed in on Touya and winked impishly at him before taking her seat on the other side of the room.

"Could one of them be a card?" Yukito asked Touya in a whispered tone. Both Kaho and Nakuru had acted strangely upon seeing Touya.

Touya shook his head.

"They're different" he replied "but they aren't Clow Cards."


 

"Your name is Fly" Touya said firmly as deftly spun the staff on his wrist "Return to the form you were meant to be. I'm requesting a contract with you."

"Requesting?" Fly asked with a confused expression on her face. "Why ask when you can command me to do so, Card Master?"

"After capturing the first two cards I realized that while I want to stop you from causing trouble in Tomoeda, I want to at least give you the chance to turn me down. You can be a part of the deck and I will never call on you. You won't have to call me master if you do not wish to." Touya said at length.

Yukito stood off to the side cleaning up the remnants of what the Clow Card had knocked over when it appeared in the bakery that afternoon. The other employees were still thankfully asleep and didn't know what was happening.

It's lucky that Touya managed to capture the Sleep Card so soon after opening the book Yukito thought these situations would have been very hard to explain if we couldn't knock people out temporarily to keep them unawares.

"I accept your offer" the Fly card informed Touya as it shifted back into its true form. The card left behind was imprinted with Touya's name granting him full mastery of it, changing it to a Touya Card.

Touya sighed and returned his staff to its keychain form.

"It always happens when I'm at work" he grumbled.

"Which is why it's lucky that you have the Sleep Card already on your side" Yukito told him cheerily. "we'd be lost without it."

Touya nodded.

"It's all I can do to keep my father from finding out" he said "though it might get more difficult with strange people suddenly showing up at school."

"Do you know Nakuru like you know Kaho?" Yukito wondered. "They both seemed like they knew you."

"Kaho definitely. Nakuru is something else." Touya replied thoughtfully. "I don't know her, but my intuition tells me she's here about the cards. Not sure why yet."

"We'll have to be careful, especially with Sakura coming home in another couple of weeks" Yukito said. "Are we going to tell her?"

"She'll find out eventually whether I want her to or not, they were supposed to be her cards" Touya said evenly. "I just don't want her to go looking for them and put herself in danger. We'll tell the monster after we've caught almost all of them."

"Okay" Yukito agreed. He would go along with whatever way Touya wanted to handle it.

Eriol watched the two boys from a nearby tree as they cleaned up at the bakery.

"It won't be long now" he said before disappearing as quickly as he had come.


"Why aren't they home yet...I'm so hungry!" Kero shouted to no one in particular.

"There's some cake in the fridge if you want that" Fujitaka said sticking his head in Touya's room.

"Wh-what?" Kero said in confusion "How do you know about me?"

"I saw you raiding the fridge a couple of weeks ago" Fujitaka informed him "You're from that book I brought home a few months ago aren't you? The Book of Clow?"

"Well yeah, but how did you know about the book?" Kero asked "I've been hiding at Yukito's house half the time."

"I had a feeling that something was going on, but I trust my son. That and you slightly resemble the markings on the book's cover." Fujitaka told him calmly "Touya and Sakura have always tried to work out their problems on their own. I'll always be there if they need me, but I won't go against their wishes or try to stop them from growing up."

"So, you don't mind me being here?" Kero wondered aloud.

"No, besides you seem to like my cooking quite a bit and I'd be silly to turn away someone who'll eat whatever I make" Touya's father added jokingly.

"Does that mean I can eat the whole cake?"

"Yes, I'll probably make another one anyway." Fujitaka said thoughtfully.

The words were barely out of his mouth before Kero flew downstairs like his tail was on fire and zeroed in on his the desert of his desire.

Chapter Text

Touya couldn't believe he'd wound up hiding in Tomoyo Daidouji's house that afternoon.  Syaoran Li had taken to stalking both him and Yukito for different reasons ever since the boy had transferred to Tomoeda Elementary the week before.  Now Touya had to look over his shoulder every time he walked down the street.  Otherwise a kid in a green costume would catch him unawares, hit him with fire magic and try to make off with the Clow Cards.

"Are you sure about this?" Touya asked his unexpected host.

"Oh it's no trouble" Tomoyo insisted with a slight giggle as she set down the tea tray "Sakura wouldn't want me to leave her brother where he could get hurt."

"That's very kind of you Ms. Daidouji" Yukito said as watched the young raven haired girl pour the contents of the steaming kettle into his cup. "We can't seem to hide from Li anywhere."

Tomoyo finished pouring the tea and then stared at dark haired teen thoughtfully.

"He started asking about strange occurrences in class last week and even gave us the description of a girl who looked a lot like Sakura" she mused "I'm afraid I had to tell him I didn't know what he was talking about.  After all, we haven't actually seen Sakura in a very long time."

"Thank you" Touya grunted "but how did he find out about us?"

Tomoyo shook her head "I have no idea.  I wouldn't even know about your secret if cute little Kero hadn't paid me a visit when I was dropping off Sakura's homework."

"He was a dead giveaway ne Touya?"

"Stupid fuzzball should know when to stay put." Touya grumbled. "If this gets any worse we might have to visit the witch after all."

"I won't tell anyone about this" Tomoyo insisted "not that anyone would believe me.  I just want to document it."

Touya sighed heavily.  The last thing they needed was a girl with a camcorder running around after them as they capture the Clow Cards.  On the other hand, having an ally in the midst of the Li Crisis was something he and Yukito desperately needed right now.  At least with Tomoyo no one else was going to believe the word of a kid over two adults when it came to things like the existence of magic.   She had even helped them capture the Light and the Dark cards.  Even if that Li kid was making an idiot of himself by using sigils left and right.

"Ms. Daidouji won't show it to anyone" Yukito said cheerfully "Isn't that right?"

"Yukito, you can call me Tomoyo" she waved him off as a light blush appeared on her face. "We're all friends here.  Or at least we will be.  You should be more social Touya."

Touya snorted at this, but didn't say anything.

"Why would we visit the witch Touya?" Yukito wanted to know. "Didn't Kero say we should stay away from her?"

"Normally I say we should take the plushie's advice" Touya explained "but I can't keep worrying about that brat attacking us whenever we go somewhere.  Sakura's coming home soon and I don't want her to meet him."

"But she's going to anyway Touya, he's attending the same school.  I'm sure he wouldn't attack her now that he knows you have the cards."

"That doesn't mean I want to take the chance.  I want that brat to keep away from us and magic seems to be our only option."

"You should probably do it before he challenges you to a duel for Yukito's affections" Tomoyo teased stifling a giggle.

"I'm sure Li doesn't like me that much" Yukito said offhandedly. "I only helped him that once.  I'm sure he only follows me so he that can find out where we keep the cards."

"Trust me Yuki, the kid's got a crush on you" Touya said taking his first sip of the tea. "And it makes him even more annoying."

"If you say so Touya" Yukito replied "but I still think I'm much too old for anything like that.  I'm sure there are lots of cute girls in his class like Ms. Daidouji, why would he want little old me?"

"Oh, you think so?" Tomoyo said as smiled pleasantly, her eyes gleaming like stars "Sometimes these things just happen and you have no control over them.  He could just like you for you, Yukito."

"My mother was 16 when she married my father and he was four years older than her at the time" Touya said thoughtfully. "I see no reason why the brat couldn't be stalking you for other reasons, Yuki.  At least he doesn't shoot fire at you."

"I'm just lucky I guess" Yukito said with a shrug. "So what's our game plan on how to get him to stop following us?"

"We lead him straight to the Witch's shop" Touya explained "and then we let her deal with him."

"Will we have to pay a price for it though" Yukito wondered. "Isn't there a catch to anything she does?"

"There is but my...I know we can pay the price and I know it won't cost us that much.  Even if I don't know what we'll have to pay." Then he noticed Tomoyo's confusion. "I can see things, spirits and...sometimes things that haven't happened yet.  I've always been able to do it."

"Can you see anything you want to?" Tomoyo asked "Like where Li came from."

Touya shook his head.

"I can't control it.  Sometimes I just get a feeling when something is unusual or out of balance...sometimes I can tell when something is going to happen.  But I can't control when it happens or why."

"As long as you know when Li is around I think we'll be okay" she said. "Providing you know where this witch you keep mentioning lives."

"It's more like she finds you" Touya said scratching his head nervously "she always seems to know when someone has a request or wants to make a wish.  They always end up walking inside her shop no matter where they are."

"hmmm..." Tomoyo said pensively resting her head on her hands "It might be a moving shop.  Or it could be from a place very far away like a spaceship hiding here on earth."

"I doubt it.  The Witch is...strange, but I'm pretty sure she isn't an alien.  The boy who works for her is human enough, though his life force felt different for some reason.  Almost like he had this bright aura surrounding him." Touya took another sip of his tea before continuing.  It gave him some more time to think.  "I almost think it had something to do with the other kid who was with him, a priest-in-training for the local shrine.  He definitely a spirit-deflector."

"Maybe they could help us" Yukito suggested "those boys would certainly know how to find the Dimensional Witch  if they work for her.  What do they look like Touya?"

"Kimihiro Watanuki, that's her servant I believe, he's a bit tall and gangly with dark hair and heterochromia.  He has one blue eye and one gold.  The other was only referred to as Doumeki, he's the one training to be a shrine priest.  He's tall with a with stocky shoulders, maybe an athlete of some kind, and his eyes had this golden brown hue to them.  Almost like Watanuki's left."

"I've never heard of someone with heterochromia having a golden eye before" Yukito said thoughtfully. "We could always try the phonebook."

One of the maids stepped into the room suddenly, startling them all.

"Ms. Tomoyo, your mother is home" she said bowing. "Shall I inform her that you're busy with guests?"

"One moment please." Then Tomoyo turned back to Touya.  "Touya I-"

"Tomoyo my darling, your great-grandfather Amamiya has come to visit us" Sonomi said as she burst in to the room in an excited flutter. "We're going to have to make his favorite dinner and-"  Then she got a good look at Touya and Yukito.

"Hello Mother" Tomoyo said cheerfully "this is Touya Kinomoto and Yukito Tsukishiro.  Touya is my friend Sakura's brother.  He's been so worried about his sister's health lately that I thought I'd have him over for tea and insisted that his friend come along as well.  They were kind enough to take me to see Sakura last week so I thought I'd return the favor.  I hope you don't mind?"

Sonomi gulped.

"It's very nice to meet you Touya and you as well Yukito" she said holding out a hand. "You are welcome in my home.  Um Tomoyo, maybe your guests would like to see the garden while I get your great grandfather settled in the parlor."

"Thank you for your hospitality Mrs. Daidouji, but we should probably get going" Touya said evenly as he stood. "Yuki and I have homework to catch up on.  Sakura should be home next week anyway.  So Tomoyo can come and see her then."

"Thank you again Ms. Daidouji" Yukito said.

Touya bowed stiffly to Sonomi and then walked out, Yukito following behind him. 

Sonomi couldn't stop the feelings of guilt that welled up in her heart.  She wasn't sure how to treat Nadeshiko's son after all these years.  Nadeshiko had been her favorite cousin and her best friend growing up, but ever since she married their high school teacher Mr. Kinomoto, things had never been the same between them.  Her cousin had always cheerfully kept up their friendship, but Sonomi had shied away because of their families disapproval of Nadeshiko's marriage.  As a result Sonomi and the other Amamiyas had all but ignored Nadeshiko's husband and son during the funeral services.  Her daughter Sakura Kinomoto had been too young to attend the funeral apparently, for Sonomi had never seen the girl before or heard the last name of Tomoyo's friend before today.  The idea that her beloved cousin's daughter was ill like she had been was almost heartbreaking.  Sonomi felt more than a little ashamed that Sakura could have died of her illness and she had never so much as gone to see the girl was more than a little disconcerting.  This was her precious Nadeshiko's daughter after all.

"Touya wait" Sonomi called out and Touya stopped in his tracks. "I would like very much if you would stay."

Touya's shocked expression was apparent only to Yukito who was right beside him.  He turned to look at Sonomi with an expression of uncertainty.

"We have a lot to talk about" she said "and I have a lot to make up for.  Please don't walk away like I did all those years ago, Touya Kinomoto."

Touya let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding and nodded slowly.

Chapter Text

"Little do you know Touya Kinomoto, I've been waiting for you" Yuko whispered to the image in her sake cup with a knowing grin.  She was going to enjoy seeing Yue again.  After all, it had been more than two hundred years since their last meeting, the moon guardian was overdue for being flustered out of his delicate demeanor.  "Oooh Watanuki!"

"What do you WANT now?  Could it possibly wait a bit, like maybe until after that curry you requested is finished?!" her thoroughly annoyed employee bellowed from kitchen.

"Oh but it's important...don't you want to know what's going to happen?" Yuko teased idly.  "Something's going to happen that will undoubtedly effect you very very soon."

Watanuki rolled his eyes before carefully turning the stove to simmer and walking out to the witch's sitting room.

"What?" he asked in a bored tone.  "It can't possibly be any worse than spending a day listening to you complain about your hangover.  Again."

"I want you to go to the bus stop on block 50 two days from now" Yuko told him "and wait for two young men and their chaperone."

"What you mean like little kids?  I'm not a babysitter!  And Mokona most definitely does not count!"

The black floppy eared creature which had been napping on beside the witch on a couch cushion, abruptly woke up and got in Watanuki's face.

"Mokona is not a baby!  Mokona is several hundred years old!  Watanuki is a baby compared to Mokona!" the black creature answered back.

"Mokona is old" Maru said.

"Watanuki is the baby!" Moro said excitedly.

"Watanuki is the baby!" the they chorused.

"Will you all just shut up!" Watanuki screamed, clearly agitated by their antics as usual.

"I'll pay you a fair price for doing so, Watanuki" Yuko assured him.  "I won't have either of them kiss Doumeki."

Watanuki's face blossomed a deep red.

"What?!  Why would I even CARE if that jerk does something like-like that!" the teen said as he attempted to scoff at Yuko's offer.  "Why would anyone WANT to kiss him?!  That's just crazy-"

"Oh but Watanuki, YOU want to" Yuko said with a knowing smile as she laid her cup down on the floor.  "Don't you?"

"NO!"

"Then I won't promise anything" Yuko said with a nod "if you don't mind then I'll-"

"NO!  Wait!  Keep that idiot out of this!"

"Very well" Yuko said seriously "if that's how you feel about it.  Doumeki won't be coming to the shop tomorrow."

"Good!  I don't want to see that smug jerk's face ever again." Watanuki said triumphantly.

"Now I know that's not true.  You'd miss him if he was truly gone." Yuki insisted "The price of getting him back once you'd realized your feelings might be too costly for you to afford."

"I wouldn't care if-"the teen began, but Yuko interrupted him.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you" Yuki replied in a sing song voice "there are spirits out there who are powerful enough to whisk him off if you're not careful.  These things tend to come true when one wishes hard enough, even without my help."

Watanuki looked around warily.  He'd worked for her long enough to know better than to question Yuko's judgment when she said things like that.

"I'm sure King Jareth would be happy to have him in his realm.  He was in such a tizzy after that nice girl turned him down."

"You're not making any sense" the teen said with a sigh "what're you babbling about now?"

"Oh the goblin king of course" Yuko said pouring more sake into her empty cup.  "He spirited away something precious when a young girl asked it of him.  Goblins follow a different set of rules.  You have to actually ask them to take away an object or a person you no longer want or need.  Though some, usually the young and foolish, tend to do this without thinking and often lose something of a much greater value."

"Fine.  No sense in putting that jerk off on someone else" Watanuki chagrined. "And you said we'll be having only three guests tomorrow?"

"Well four" Yuko answered "but the last one won't be eating anything.  He doesn't even know he's coming to see me just yet."

"I wish I didn't have to see you" Watanuki mumbled as he sloughed back to the kitchen.  He hoped the curry hadn't gone cold by now after the time it had taken for Yuko to actually tell him what she meant.  He swore that talking to her was like pulling teeth sometimes.

A few minutes later Yuko picked up the phone and dialed a familiar number.

"Yes, Doumeki" she said sweetly.  "You won't be needed tomorrow after all.  Apparently Watanuki says he has everything under control."

"What?!  What the hell are you telling that overgrown ape about me now?" Watanuki shouted from the kitchen.  "Don't think I don't know what you're up to!"

"I'm sure he'll be safe enough as our guests aren't of a violent nature." Yuko continued.  "Be sure to ask him about it later during your dinner date."

"Our WHAT?!" Watanuki said rushing into the room and grabbing up the phone.  "Don't you dare think that you and I are going anywhere, Doumeki Shizuka!  Do you hear me? I-"

"So yes, Watanuki will be there at nine on Thursday." Yuko said retrieving the phone from Watanuki.

"I will NOT!"

"With the noodles he's made especially for YOU!  Oh I guarantee it!"

"WHAT THE HELL?!"

"Oooh alone at the temple!  How romantic!"

"I am not setting one foot through that temple gate" Watanuki said firmly with his arms folded across his chest.

"Oh don't worry, I'll have Mokona fly you over" Yuko replied offhandedly before she said her goodbyes to Doumeki and hung up.  "It's very important that you go see him then."

"Oh and why is THAT?" Watanuki asked defiantly.

"Why because it's the 7-5-3 Festival of course" Yuko said as if her meaning were obvious.  "There are going to be lots and lots of children visiting the temple at that time.  Doumeki's going to have his hands full.  He'll be in need of a friend's loving support at such a time."

"Dammit, I'm not helping him babysit!  Didn't I just get finished telling you that I'm not a babysitter?" Watanuki fumed.

"Yes yes, well nonetheless the price for your not participating in what I have in store for our guests" his employer said with an eerie smile.  "Unless you want to see what I have in store?"

Watanuki gulped.  No he was pretty sure he didn't want to know that particular detail.

"Fine.  I'll go" he said through gritted teeth.

"That's a good boy, Watanuki" Yuko said cheerily. "Now bring me more sake!"


"Welcome to my shop" Yuko said warily eyeing the figure standing in the darkness of the entryway "I've been waiting for you."

"I've heard of this place" the figure said "it's really cute.  Though my brother and sister might not think so.  Small places make them nervous."

"And she wouldn't?" Watanuki put in.

"Oh excuse me, I didn't see you there" the figure said with a giggle "and no, small places are more of a security issue.  My sister is one of our generals.  She doesn't know I'm here, so I'd appreciate it if you didn't say anything should you happen to see her.  I don't want her to worry about me."

"I'm surprised you came here without a bodyguard of some kind" Yuko commented. "What about that young man in your entourage?  He's sworn to protect you after all."

"I'd rather not worry him either. Suzak-he is rather paranoid about these things.  He might think I was meeting with my brother and follow me." The figure stated.  "My brother doesn't need that kind of trouble.  I didn't realize it until I saw him with our younger sister the other day."

"What exactly is your wish?" Yuko asked.

"I want my brother and his best friend to get what they want" the figure said, remaining in the entryway "if it's all the same, I'd rather not reveal my identity for security reasons."

"I understand" Yuko said "and you've already paid the fee for the second request."

The figure faltered slightly, wondering what awaited her once she returned for the evening.  If she was able to get back the way she came.  She didn't know if other-worldly portals actually were in the long term.

"Think carefully before you ask about the price for the first" the witch cautioned "because that particular wish will cost you dearly."

"But you are able to make it happen" the figure said "I want to do this for them, because the two of them have already given me what I wanted. So I accep-"

"NO!"

"Don't do it!"

The figure turned abruptly to find two young men panting  behind her in the shop's front yard.  One boy had jet black hair and sharp purple eyes and she could remember a time when they'd been softer.  The other had dark brown hair and bright green eyes.  He wore a white jump suit that was tinted black and crimson in places, with the Britannian national seal on the collar, and light green diamonds positioned on each of the upper arms.

"I can't lose you!" the two of them exclaimed at the exact same time.

"Suzaku?  Lelouch?  What're you two doing here?" the figure asked as she stepped out into the yard.  A patch of light from the setting sun shone brightly on her pink hair, that had been mopped up into a tight bun.  "I didn't even know I was coming here until today."

"Witch, what kind of game are you playing?" Lelouch wanted to know as he stood up straight to face Yuko.

"I must say I'm surprised the two of you managed to get here, much less travel through time without paying the price it would normally take" Yuko mused.  "Unless you got help from him."  She eyed the two young men speculatively.  "I see.  You did."

Yuko shifted her gaze toward the front gate.

"He can't enter the shop, because you're already fulfilling his wish" she commented.  "As are you simply by being here, Euphemia li Britannia."

"I'll admit I'm perturbed by your very presence, Witch as it reminds me very distinctly of one of my constant compatriots" Lelouch said "but I fail to see what exactly you're referring to."

"You mean the guy who lead us here, Lelouch?  I don't see the point in hiding it now that she already knows" Suzaku pointed out.

"Suzaku, this is why you suck at stealth missions" Lelouch commented lightly "you're too honest for your own good."

"But S.S. didn't make any secret of wanting to help us" Suzaku insisted.  "And he did tell us about the portal."

"That's because he's too kind for his own good, I suspect the years have changed him quite a bit" Lelouch mused.  Then he lifted an eyebrow at his friend.

Suzaku backed off while holding his hands up in surrender.

"Surely you're not suggesting that I-...that he-"

"That's exactly what I'm saying" the dark haired teen said.  "I'd know those eyes anywhere.  How many native Japanese have green eyes?  The probability rate is phenomenal, I assure you."

"Let's just go home" Suzaku said in a defeated tone. "I don't know how much more of this I can take right now."

"I agree.  Euphy, I'd like you to come with us now" her brother said "we'd rather work toward our goals than receive them through less than equitable means."

"That means so much coming from you Zero" Suzaku said accusingly "the number of times you've taken innocent lives by less than savory means is no better."

"As opposed to the number of Japanese losses you caused as a ten-year-old" Lelouch retorted.

"Why don't we talk about this somewhere else?" Euphemia suggested.

The two of them turned to look at her.

"We should probably take care of the Special Administrative Zone before we get into details" Lelouch said finally.

"Then you and I are both going somewhere so you can explain to me how exactly you managed to get yourself killed?!" Suzaku said in an annoyed tone.  "Because-"

"That hasn't happened yet.  Remember?" his friend reminded him.

Suzaku looked at him with a surprised expression.

"Do you think this changes anything?" the Japanese teen wondered.

"I'm fairly certain that we're attempting to change things anyway" Lelouch countered.  "So it makes little difference right now."

"What are you two talking about?" Euphemia said looking mildly disturbed.

"We'll tell you later Princ-I mean Euphy" Suzaku said.  "We should probably just leave."

The three of them left, with Euphemia saying a polite goodbye to Yuko, Watanuki, and Maru and Moro who were being unusually silent at the moment.

"Well that was certainly entertaining" Yuko commented.

"Aren't you disappointed that you lost a customer?" Watanuki wondered.

"Not this time" Yuko said slowly "I've rarely seen a price reputed to have spilled as much blood in a single year.  Much less two."

"You're not going to tell me, are you?" Watanuki said in a bored tone.

"You can't afford the price" his employer said wisely.  "As it is, an immortal being was barely able to pay it himself."

Chapter Text

"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.

"Touya you-"

"Just don't-"

"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."

Chapter Text

We aren't going to hurt you Yukito said from inside Yue's mind.

This caused the angelic guardian to jerk suddenly.

Who are you? Yue asked, bewildered.

I'm Yukito.  I think I'm your other self or so it seems. Yukito said sounding slightly confused.  I didn't know about you until I kissed Touya just now.

Yue snorted.

Clow's magic, he answered huffily, apparently he thought he could seal me in the book and everything would work out just fine.  The nerve of that man!

I'm sorry that happened to you. Yukito said apologetically.  I take it this means I'm really...you.

Yue sighed.

You should not be apologizing...Yu-ki-to. The guardian said in exasperation.  You've clearly suffered as much as I.

So does this mean...my grandparents... the teen stated rather mournfully.  It sounded to Yue that he was about to cry.

I'm afraid it does, Yue answered closing his eyes.   I have no comfort to give you.  Only that you are someone truly kind to have gained a friend like yours, if your memories serve me correctly.  Your grandparents are not real, neither is your identity.  However...your name is still yours.

I...I understand.  Yukito said softly, though his heart was breaking.  He didn't feel like a real person anymore.  It was as if he'd been lied to about everything and was now left to pick up the pieces of his broken existence alone.  How could something so wonderful as Touya having feelings for him be followed by such a heartbreaking revelation as this one?

You have a family. Yue said.  Your grandparents were never truly around even when you thought they were real, however the Kinomoto's took you under their wing and treated you as one of their own.

I know...that's why it feels like I've lied to them, especially Touya. Yukito replied sadly.  How can he except me like this.  I'm sure you are a very kind person, but there are two of me and I don't think he will-

He just told me that he hopes you are alright and that...that it is nice to meet me. Yue interrupted sounding befuddled.  He has agreed to help me confront the man who did this, your Touya.  The one who did this to us.

I...would like to hear the reason why. Yukito answered finally.


 

"You will agree to help me confront this man?" Yue asked one final time.

"If it will help you and Yuki find some type of closure then yes" Touya agreed.  "Is he really alright?  This can't be easy for him."

"It isn't" Yue replied.  "He's talking to me.  He's...afraid.  It would be best if you took him home after I transform again.  I do not think he is in any state to do so himself."

"I told Clow he shouldn't have messed with things" Yuko said in a serious tone.

Touya whipped around to look at her.  The witch had suddenly lost her whimsical attitude and it was slightly jarring.

"Don't look so surprised" she said exasperatedly.  "Clow Reed decided he wanted to choose when he died.  The problem was he decided against sealing his spirit in with his beloved Clow Cards.  Now they're lost without him...or at least they were."

"What does she mean by that?" Yue inquired with a rustle of his feathers.

Touya took a deep breath and slipped one of the Clow cards out of his pocket.  It was Windy, the first card he'd managed to capture, before he switched to asking them to join his deck.

Yue eyed the card, it was one of his own subordinates.  He saw the neatly scrawled letters spelling out "the Touya" on the back and immediately understood.

"You-you changed her." Yue said.  "I was supposed to judge your progress and then decide whether or not to deem you worthy of being the master, but it seems you are one step ahead of me.  My roll was over before it began."

"I didn't realize" Touya stated.  "I did what the little fuzzball said and started locating the cards.  It was my fault though.  My sister Sakura should have rightfully been your master."

"I am not...angry" Yue practically whispered.  "I just feel like I've...like I'm not needed here."

"I opened the book by accident and this flying cat told me to find the cards before the world ended.  I didn't really have much of a choice" Touya explained.  "If you want me to stop...if you think the danger doesn't exist...then tell me and I'll stop."

"That would not be a sensible course of action." Yue warned.  "You need to locate the rest of the cards or there will be dire magical consequences."

Tomoyo stood in a corner going over what Touya had said in her mind.  That Sakura should have been the person to collect all of these cards, a hardship for one so young and certainly an impossible task for an ailing person directly out of the hospital.  She found herself slightly glad that the accident had taken place, because without it Sakura would have had this pressing on her as well as her reintegration into school after returning from the hospital.  Sakura didn't need something that might set her back, no matter how great it was.  Had her best friend not fallen ill Tomoyo would have gladly helped her in her quest to recover these magical cards, however this was not to be.  She knew that Touya would in all likelihood tell Sakura about this later, but right now there was an impending crisis.  Yukito, Sakura's crush, was not only in love with her brother, but apparently had magical powers too and was a whole other person.  This would certainly take some getting used to.

"There was a coercion spell" Yue commented.  "I can feel it fading away.  Apparently Clow felt the need to force me to love another in his stead." Touya thought the guardian was near tears as he made the revelation. "Had you not turned the cards as you have, I would have been coerced into having feelings for my true master that were not mine once I was summoned to pass the Final Judgment."

Touya's chestnut brown eyes widened significantly, then narrowed.

"Feelings that were not yours..." he responded.  "Are you telling me that this wizard wanted you to be involved with my sister against both of your wills?"

"Sakura has a crush on Yukito" Tomoyo put in.

"What?!" Yue and Touya exclaimed in unison.

"I don't think she would have wanted Yukito to like her because he was forced to" Tomoyo reasoned.  "She's an elementary school student with a crush.  It happens to everyone.  She wouldn't have accepted something like that.  I think she would like you two, you and Yukito together, if she knew.  Sakura is a very kind person."

Touya put a hand to his head.  This was almost too much to deal with.

"I'm going to accept the fact that you aren't into my sister and move on" he said finally.  "It wouldn't have been your doing anyway."

"I wouldn't have had a choice" Yue agreed.  "Unless I found a method of fighting it.  Spells can be broken and if I truly felt differently, there would be a way to absolve the situation."

"God I hope so" Touya said shaking his head.  "I know you're telling the truth.  I can feel it.  I'm just not sure how I feel about this Clow person now."

"Clow was my master and my...lover" Yue said primly, turning his head away so that he didn't have to look at anyone.

"You forget, I dated him for nearly twenty years before you showed up" Yuko cut in.  "He wouldn't have thought of it as a game, Yue.  He was just misinformed.  Clow liked playing matchmaker as much as the next person.  So he thought it only natural that you stay within your comfort zone and seek out the affections of your master."

"Witch-"

"I'm not saying that he was correct in his assumptions, Touya.  Only that they were what they were." Yuko finished.

"I think we should go" Touya said.  "I've seen enough.  Yue, Yukito, let's go home.  C'mon Tomoyo."

"Just a second.  You said that if they paid the price they'd receive protection from Li like you promised" Tomoyo reminded the witch.  "A deal's a deal."

Yuko grinned slightly.

"I hadn't forgotten.  The protection's are in place.  Syaoran Li cannot harm either Touya, Yukito, or Yue either magically or physically ever.  It's been a pleasure doing business with you." Yuko said waving as the teen and the guardian moved toward the door.  "By the way, here's the address of Clow's reincarnation.  It's a big mansion, you can't miss it."

"Why are you helping us?" Yue asked speculatively.  "You don't like me."

"Now Yue I never said that.  Bygones and all that.  I did find someone else after all...eventually." Yuko said cheerfully.  "And now I get the chance to give Clow a little payback.  His reincarnation's name is Eriol.  He's very good friends with your old school teacher, Touya."

The brunette jerked visibly.

"Kaho."He uttered in a tone that spelled betrayal.

"It's going to be a long night" Tomoyo whispered almost to herself.

"Don't worry about the price for it, it's already been paid." Yuko explained.  "Well, our business is done for now.  Ta ta!"

Touya, Tomoyo and Yue bowed politely before scrambling out of the shop.  Tomoyo made sure to grab the scrap of paper with Clow's address on the way out.  She handed it to Touya after reached the bus stop.

"I'll call a car" Tomoyo told him.  "We need to get you two home as soon as possible.  Yue looks like he's about to have a breakdown."

"I'll stay the night with him" Touya said gesturing to angelic guardian currently seated on the bench at the stop.  "Can you change back?"

Yue nodded and did so, leaving a half-conscious Yukito in his wake.  Yukito's eyes were filled with tears, a sight that made the inside of Touya's chest ache.

"I'm glad we went on a weekend" Tomoyo commented.  "It'll be easier to hide this way."

Touya nodded absentmindedly as he took out a handful of quarters and headed for the payphone.  She hadn't taken her cell phone because it was cumbersome and held a tracking device on it for her safety.  Her mother couldn't know about this little adventure and she knew a particular cabbie who would take everyone home without telling anyone.

"We drop you off first" Touya insisted.  He didn't like the idea of his younger cousin, much less any young girl riding in a taxi alone.  "Then I'll pay him for me and Yukito."

"Oh it's no trouble.  He owes my family" Tomoyo said with a smile.  "My house is closer though and my mother will begin to wonder where I've run off to.  Are you sure you'll be alright?"

"Yes." He said sitting beside Yukito and putting an arm around him to steady him.  "We'll have to be."


 

The taxi driver took them to Yuki's house after letting Tomoyo off at her residence.  Touya tried to pay the man, but was waved off with a refusal.  He managed to drag Yukito inside the house, taking note of the fact that the sun was beginning to set, before calling his father and telling him he was staying over.  Something Fujitaka wasn't likely to question.  They couldn't tell his father any of this right now.  Maybe later on when he explained everything to Sakura, Touya could tell his father about everything, Yue and the Clow Cards, but not right now.  Now Yukito needed him more than ever.

That night Touya slept beside Yukito on his friend's insistence.  Neither Yukito or Yue wanted to be left alone it seemed, so he obliged.  Touya and Yukito, and Yue somewhere inside, curled up together and tried to sleep peacefully despite the disturbing revelations of their visit to the witch's shop had brought about.

The next morning revolved around a long conversation between Yue, Yukito, and Touya about what had gone on during the past few months, how many cards had been located, and what they were going to do about Clow's reincarnation.  Yukito understood Touya's reluctance to confront the wizard without a plan, because of Kaho's seeming involvement with him.  Yue agree once he heard Touya's story about his former girlfriend.  In fact the two were able to bond over having been jilted by two, much older people, for, apparently, one another. 

While it was true that Clow had died, and yes they checked just to be sure about it, it had been about fourteen years after he sealed the cards.  Yuko had left a little note on the back of Clow's address stating that he had spent his remaining time fixing a problem of his making in another dimension.  Something Yue was able to add credence to when he explained about Clow's messing magic and encouraging several of his cousins to learn the art and pass it on to their descendents.  This caused some difficulties down the line and forced Clow to step into the role of king in another dimension and time period to make up for his mistake.  A few of his distant cousins down the line had become somewhat of a nuisance to other practicing the art, particularly the Li clan, a prime example of which was Syaoran Li.  Even if Yuko's protections didn't allow him anywhere near Touya or Yukito's houses anymore.  Yue had discovered this during a practice flight when he discovered the boy milling about the neighborhood and continuously crashing into an invisible wall whenever he got within twenty feet of Yukito's house.

Yue was furious that Clow's reincarnation hadn't come straight to him regardless of what form he was in.  Yukito and Touya were forced to agree.  Clow's new self hadn't approached them at all or offered his former love any comfort or explanation for his actions.

"He's probably not even Clow anymore" Touya reasoned.  "He could have died and come back a completely different person.  Kaho was different too, when I finally saw her again.  She came back from England as almost a different person, yet in some ways she was the same." He sighed.  "She acted like our time together was just a whim and that I should have gotten over it by now."

"Did you?" Yue asked tentatively.

"Yes, but it took me years before I could trust anyone that way again.  Before Yukito, I only trusted my family with anything I knew or felt." Touya admitted.  "I don't hate her, I could never hate her.  I just don't know why she didn't make things more clear.  Why couldn't she have told me the truth?"

"I suspect it's the same reason Clow decided to withhold things from me" Yue remarked.  "Because the truth can hurt. It would have hurt Clow and Kaho both to have heard such truths, so they assumed we could not handle them.  Then they moved on without us.  They thought it would be would be quick and painless, though I suspect that may not be the case with either of them as well.  Such emotions are not so easily cut away."

"You understand more than you let on" Touya commented.  "I think I understand things a bit better now.  Thank you."

"I believe I owed you one" Yue said as he sat back his chair in Yukito's living room.  "You've already moved on.  I'll need to as well eventually."

"I'll help you as best I can.  It doesn't matter whether or not you're one of my guardians"  Touya promised.

"After we talk to Clow, I'll hold you to that."

Chapter Text

Kaho Mizuki stood on the rooftop of her family's shrine surveying the neighborhoods of Tomoeda.  It had been such a long time since her days as a student-teacher at the middle school.  Her travels throughout Europe and subsequent studies at several notable universities been an exhilarating experience, however she had missed the feel of her home town.  She knew that once Touya had captured all of the cards and Eriol had fulfilled the promise of his past incarnation that the young wizard was planning to return to London.  Kaho knew in her heart that she would go with him when he left.  There was no place she would rather be than by Eriol's side.

She hoped that when she finally saw Touya again outside of school that he would understand how she felt.  He had Yukito now of course and hadn't seemed to resent her reappearance after her swift departure years before.  It just hurt slightly that the two of them had yet to become friends, despite her efforts.  Although she suspected he was more than a little distracted by his quest to capture Clow's cards.  She doubted that he had told anyone outside of Yukito about them and his own abilities.  Kaho knew she wasn't likely to be on his list of candidates, even if he had given her hints about his psychic power back when they were still in a relationship.

The wind hitched up and she felt the shadows of the night draw closer as the moon rose higher.  Then she leapt down from her perch and swiftly off the roof by its edge.  She treasured Eriol as much as Touya treasured Yukito and that if he ever asked the reason why she'd left, her answer would be simple, there were other things they were meant to see apart from one another...other people they were supposed to meet.


 

"Essex.  It was Essex Street.  I think it was this way... No, no.  It was left, I remember now." Kaho murmured to herself as she peered at small tourist map.

"Excuse me Miss, are you lost?"

Kaho turned to find a petit man with deep blue hair that was almost black, starting back at her.  She had always been tall, even for a woman of her heritage, so she was used to leaning down to converse with people who were her elders.  This man however, seemed to be quite a bit older than she, despite his youthful appearance.  There was an air about him, something she couldn't define, that made him seem older if not wiser than most she'd met.  In a way he reminded her of Touya and how the hardships he'd faced as a child had shaped him and made him stronger.

"Unfortunately it seems as though I am.  Would you happen to know where this address was located?  I'm an exchange student from Japan and it's my first time being here in England." Kaho answered nervously.

She didn't like giving out such information, but felt it was necessary.  Being foreign and confused was better than being labeled as a local woman who was careless and weak, the perfect target for black marketers. This man was still a stranger, she reasoned, but it was broad daylight and there was little chance someone of his stature could do anything to harm her or keep her from fighting back.

The man seemed to sense her fear and moved slowly away from her after reading the address she'd held out.

"I understand Miss.  There's a man from the Yard down on the next block.  I've never been to this address, but I'm sure he could help you find it."

Kaho bowed in gratitude and sprinted off down the street.

Maybe he isn't so bad, she thought, he tried to be as calm and courteous as possible.  I'm sorry I acted so strangely around him.


 

Eriol Hiiragizawa had walked away from the mystery woman with a whirl of strange thoughts going through his mind.  She had been understandably frightened and uncomfortable in a foreign setting.  It was likely that she'd heard about some of Europe's more dangerous aspects and was being cautious around people she didn't know.  In all likelihood he would never see that woman again.  He hadn't even gotten her name.  Despite having no idea who she was, he'd decided he would have liked to ask her to tea.

Sometimes in a moment of leisure, he would think on the life of his former incarnation Clow Reed and the memories he'd inherited from him.  Clow had found the acceptance of his peers a difficult achievement at times and romantic entanglement a rocky road that had at times led to emotional ruin.  Eriol didn't want to get caught up in past mistakes of his predecessor.  On the contrary, what he wanted more than anything was for someone to accept him on his own merits and appeal.  His house, his knowledge, his position, they were all things he'd acquired from Clow.  He wanted someone who would accept him personally, not the shadow of a person long dead that stood over him like a ghost in shackles, invading almost every aspect of his being.

Seeing that woman had made him think that such a person might actually exist.  He just had to find a way to locate her.

"You know you could start with the local colleges, they are recipients of some of your donations" Ruby Moon said perching on a nearby gate.  She jumped off and slowly transformed into her human form, dubbed Nakuru Akizuki, by her master.

"I could, but I don't want to seem like I'm doing anything unsettling" Eriol answered as he looked up at her.  "I'd rather we met by chance.  She's be less suspicious that way."

Nakuru rolled her eyes.

"You'd have to explain your age anyway, eventually" she said.  "Why don't you just use magic to find her and then ask her out.  You'll start growing again after we're done in Japan anyway.  Right?"

Eriol nodded.  He wouldn't stay in this youthful body forever.  That woman had already seemed to realize the truth of his age, which was one of the reasons he needed to find her.  There was a possibility that she could be of help to him when he returned to Tomoeda.  He needed to test Clow's would-be successor and ensure that Yue, Kero, and the cards were in good hands.


 

As it turned out, Kaho was the one to find him first.  She was apparently the recipient of some of Eriol's misplaced mail.  Though he had a sneaking suspicion that Ruby Moon and Suppy had something to do with this, he played along for Kaho's benefit.

The afternoon ended with Kaho cheerfully joining Eriol for tea.  Something that soon became a weekly occurrence.  Eriol found that he slowly becoming accustomed to her presence, as Kaho treated him like an adult, despite his appearance.  She always brought with her stories about her various adventures throughout London as she had a tendency to get lost easily.  It was fortunate, she said, that public transportation was able to get here where she needed to go.  The gap between the English and Japanese languages made it difficult to translate some street names, though she improving.


 

"I'm not actually the age my appearance shows me to be" Eriol told Kaho months later.

"I know" she answered with a small smile.  "I also know that you have magic in you.  There were people where I came from who had it too, though not to this extent.  There was a boy I knew back home who could sense things without being able to see them and the future at times.  There were also rumors of a witch with a shop that grants wishes somewhere near Tokyo."

"Ah, that would be Yuko" Eriol replied thoughtfully.  "She was a friend of my past incarnation, Clow Reed.  A good friend to have."

"You used to be someone else" Kaho said.  It was a statement, not a question.  "That explains why you resemble the man in that picture in the hall so closely."

"That is Clow Reed, he was once an accomplished wizard of both English and Japanese parentage who lived almost two hundred years ago." Eriol acknowledged.  "I am at least one of his reincarnations.  He created several magical objects including a deck of cards, which he sealed away at the end of his life.  The cards were accompanied by two guardians, Kero and Yue."

"Where are you from exactly?"

"I'm from London and Clow was from Tomoeda, though he resided in many places in Japan during his lifetime." Eriol explained.  "I appeared here in London almost forty years ago.  I have no parents or other relations, in fact I was raised by an old woman who was distantly related to Clow through prior arrangement in his will.  She died nearly twenty years ago."

"You've been alone all this time?" Kaho wondered aloud.

"Except for Ruby Moon and Suppy, my new guardians.  Yes." He answered with a sad smile.  "It's easier to hide that way.  You were one of the few who are different.  You've never viewed me as a child, Kaho." Eriol disclosed.

"You're far from a child, Eriol."

"I wanted someone who would see me.  Not Clow.  Not a child.  Me.  That person is you, Kaho.  You're the only one who has without my explaining it."

"I just knew the first time I saw you.  That's why I saw so nervous.  I didn't realize you'd intentionally stopped aging." Kaho admitted.  "I thought you were simply a much shorter man."

Eriol chuckled.

"Not quite.  I do hope my adult appearance differs slightly from Clow's however.  Otherwise I would find it rather difficult to hide our connection from the rest his peers in the wizarding world." He said.  "We'll need to be careful about that when I return to Tomoeda to test Clow's successor."

Kaho nodded.

"I'll go back with you in a few years" she said.  "By then I'll have built up enough credits to put my studies on hold.  I can return to being a teacher and help you keep up your disguise.  I'd also very much like to check in on a friend and get to meet his little sister."

"I'd be happy for your company, my dear" Eriol said smiling.  "I look forward to seeing what how much Tomoeda has changed from the one in Clow's memories."


 

"It's been two hundred years since I last saw you Keroberos and here I find you stuffing your face" Yue scolded.  "You haven't changed much."

"Yue!  When did you get here?  And you have no right to get on my case about eating when you don't know how good this cake is!" his brother exclaimed, highly affronted.  "The master said I could have some."

Touya snorted as he entered the kitchen.

"You're just lucky my Dad's out" the Cardmaster commented lightly.  "And I said you could have two pieces, not five.  He keeps raiding the fridge so I don't know what we have left, but help yourself Yue."

"I don't require human food in order to survive" Yue said.  "I only need to feed on the magic you give me through our connection."

"I see" the teen said with a nod "but is there anything you like to eat anyway?"

"I don't mind bread or soup, some sour tasting deserts" Yue replied after thinking it over.  "Clow let us try a myriad of different foods during his travels."

"We might have some lemon meringue pie left from a few days ago."

"That will do just fine" the guardian said with a small smile.  "It's been more than a century since I've tasted good food."

"What was that about not stuffing my face?"

"Shut it plushie" Touya told the cat guardian.  "At least he waited to be invited first, unlike a certain someone who decimated our kitchen on their first night."

"Grrr....come to think of it, where did you even come from Yue?  You weren't there when this guy set the cards loose." Kero asked curiously.

"He's sort of Yukito.  And Yukito is him." Touya tried to explain as he searched for the leftover pie.

"So he took on a false form and became someone else" Kero said.  "Did Clow set this up?"

"Yes.  We think he wanted Yue in Tomoeda so that he could be close to Sakura when the time came." The Cardmaster said.  "During that time he changed from Yue to Yukito.  Only they ended up becoming completely separate people within the same body."

"We're two sides of the same whole, more or less" Yue said.  "Although we are completely different, I assure you.  I am me and he is himself."

"That's really strange, I wonder why Clow would do such a thing?" The cat guardian speculated.  "Then again, there are a lot of strange things around here that Clow didn't tell us anything about."

"Maybe he didn't know everything" Touya put in as he cut a slice of pie and handed it to Yue with a plate and fork.  "A lot's changed since the time when Clow was still alive.  He couldn't predict everything that happened in between."

"I'm sure he tried, even though he still left us behind in the end" Yue said solemnly.

The guardian insisted on eating his cake in silence after that.  The lemon pie was later finished off by a hungry Yukito after the guardian reverted to his alternate form.

"I guess we should start studying, ne To-ya?" Yukito suggested after he'd finished his desert.

"So much for the weekend" Touya grumbled.  "I guess it could've been worse.  I just don't want to deal with Akizuki tomorrow.  She keeps trying to cling to me."

"I'm sure that's only because she's the friendly type" Yukito said.  "some of the other girls are like that too."

"Yeah but not that friendly" his friend insisted. 

"She could just be excited about starting over at a new school and is trying to make friends."

"I get this feeling every time she comes too close, like she's after something" Touya said.  "I can't explain it.  She isn't a Clow Card as far as I can tell and she isn't wizard, but I can almost sense magic around her sometimes."

"Do you think she has something to do with Clow?" Yukito asked.  "Maybe we should be careful around her then."

"We are anyway, there isn't really anything we can do unless we find out whether or not she's working with Clow.  Right now Kaho is our best lead."

"I haven't really noticed her doing anything out of the ordinary" Yukito added.

"I know" Touya said with some foreboding.  "That's what bothers me the most."

Chapter Text

"Touya! Don't walk away from meeeee!" Nakuru whined as she ran over to him, having finished what looked like a rather intense game of basketball with her teammates. "Did you see that shot I made?"

Touya mentally grimaced and attempted to dodge his classmate as she jumped on his back yet again, wrapping her arms around his neck playfully. Yukito stood off to the side smiling lightly.

"Uh huh. I really have to get to class, c'mon Yuki" Touya said, carefully shifting Nakuru off of him.

The brunette shuffled off down the hall with Yukito following behind.

"Good day Ms. Akizuki" Yuki said turning back to her.

"I'm going to win, you know" Nakuru said with a knowing smile. "But you don't even realize what you have, do you?"

Yukito stared at her with honest confusion.

"I guess the older models just aren't up to speed. I'll just take him from you now" Akizuki said with a wink before she flounced off.

Yukito shook his head softly turning to catch up with Touya.

I told you she was suspicious, Yue said in his mind, this Nakuru girl is definitely up to something.

I think she just has a crush on Touya, Yukito answered, we haven't seen her do any actual magic.

That doesn't mean she's incapable, remember that, Yue warned. We can't afford to be caught off guard if this is another one of Clow's tests.


 

"Your name is Mirror." Touya asserted as he lowered the purple staff at his side. "Return to the form you were meant to be. I'm requesting a contract with you."

Yue looked on in interest as the card's expression changed from surprise to disbelief.

"I took the shape of your former lover, why bestow such kindness on me?" the Mirror questioned him hesitantly. "You were almost seriously injured."

Touya favored her with a calm expression and held out a hand.

"Because you were only doing what you felt was necessary to test me. It wouldn't be right for me to judge your actions without taking into account your concerns about finding a new master, and the effect it would have if you chose wrongly" the teen reasoned. "You were locked away for such a long time and the world has changed so much from Clow's time, it would be foolish to expect you to simply accept everything right away. Even having to take on a new master after finding your creator is long dead."

The Mirror nodded sorrowfully. She too missed Clow Reed. It had been difficult for her to come to terms with the knowledge of his death.

"Your are kind...Master" the Mirror said as she took his hand and was enveloped in a bright light.

She reappeared in Touya's hand in card form with her new master's name printed across the other side in familiar script.

"You've done well" Yue commented. "Despite your lack of instruction. It would seem that Clow intended to leave everything up to his successor to learn independently."

"The plushy did manage to explain things fairly decently when I opened the book" Touya said thoughtfully.

"My brother isn't perfect" Yue stated sternly. "There are things he is unaware of. Like the Moon Bell."

"What's that?"

Yue sighed. "It's an artifact that Clow left in the keeping of the family that runs the Tsukimine shrine."

Touya blinked in surprise.

"That's Kaho's family" he said. Then his expression turned to one of acute suspicion.

"If this is true, then I have little doubt that this person is involved with what's been happening" Yue agreed. "The witch was indeed correct."

"It would seem so" Touya admitted. "When exactly are you planning to pay Clow a visit?"

"I would like to confront him as soon as you have gathered all of the cards" the guardian answered. "We will need their help to overcome whatever magical protections Clow may have placed on the manor."

"Do we need to look out for the Moon Bell while locating cards?" the teen asked pensively.

Yue shook his head.

"I am unsure. I know it can bypass my magic in order to aid my master. Kaho may have planned to use it for the sake of allowing your sister to become master of the cards if I refused to allow it."

"Would you have?"

"I would have reacted negatively to Clow's interference from beyond the grave through his reincarnation. I may have eventually accepted your sister as my master, but only if she wasn't under his influence." Yue answered truthfully.

"You didn't react well back at the witch's shop" Touya said after careful consideration "but I doubt you would have harmed Sakura in any way. Kaho hasn't shown herself outside of school and I've had the distinct feeling that someone has been watching us from a distance. Maybe they didn't intend to show themselves until after she found all of the cards."

"It's possible." Yue agreed. "And no, I would not have harmed her, only rejected her authority if I thought Clow was in any way manipulating her actions. I may have loved him, but his actions were as much a shock to me as anyone else. He had no right to leave without explaining anything."

"We'll get our answers when we finally pay them a visit" Touya assured him. "It's the only way to find out what really happened after he sealed you and why. What the dimensional witch said about him going off to fix a mistake in another world didn't sit right with me. There has to be something more to it."

"I have my doubts." The guardian said quietly as he transformed back into Yukito.

"Yuki?"

"I'm here To-ya" Yukito replied shaking his head to clear it. "I always feel a bit disoriented after Yue changes back to me."

"Were you able to hear anything that we were saying?" His friend asked curiously.

"No, but Yue usually translates it for me. He's trying to make it so that I can hear you when I want to. I don't want to interfere with any private conversations the two of you have together." Yukito added. "He's in need of friends right now and people who care about him."

"I know we've talked about this, but are you sure you're alright Yuki?"

"Yue was right when he said that my grandparents were never really around even in the false memories that Clow gave me" the grey haired teen admitted. "I never had any memory of my parents to begin with, so I never really thought about them. It's sad to think that I never really had a family to begin with. I'm sorry I lied to you without realizing it, Touya."

"You have nothing to be sorry about Yuki, you honestly believed that your memories were real." Touya said comfortingly, placing a hand on his friend's shoulder. "It doesn't mean that you're not still you. That we don't care about you. About what happened at the shop I-"

"It was a spur of the moment thing I understand Touya."

"No you don't I...I like you too Yuki. You're the most important person to me outside of my mother, father and Sakura."

Yukito smiled slightly at this.

"I wouldn't dream of separating you from your family Touya. They mean the world to you." His friend replied. "Family is the most important thing a person can have."

"You're my family too" Touya insisted. "My Dad and Sakura already think of you that way. Yuki would you stay with me, I mean after high school is over and we've finished everything?"

"Touya are you asking me to go out with you?" Yukito asked smiling brightly.

"Yes...but only if you want to."

"I do To-ya. I like you very much. My time with you is the most important thing to me." Yukito said. "My memories of you and Sakura are more real to me than anything else. So are my feelings for you."

"It's the same for me, Yuki. If you hadn't shown up a couple of years after Kaho left, I'd still be keeping my distance from people and driving everyone away." Touya admitted. "Even the situation with Sakura would have broken me without you and Tomoyo around. I even have a younger cousin following me around now. I'm starting to think you're good luck."

"Well I don't know about that, but being there for the people you care for is what friends are supposed to do" Yukito said with a wink. "Ne Touya?"

"I suppose you're right. Even though you and the monster are nice to everyone." Touya commented with a grin. "Tomoyo's not much better."

"I have a feeling she's been keeping Li from finding out anything more about us" his friend surmised. "She cares a great deal about you too, Touya."

"I know she does, the brat" Touya grumbled. "I just hope she takes care of herself. I don't want that kid causing her any trouble."

"She explained to me the other day that Li doesn't know anything outside of her friendship with Sakura. Although apparently everyone in class is friends with Sakura, so he hasn't really focused on her."

"We'll have to worry about it when she has to go back to school though, I should probably have a word with her teacher." Touya muttered. "We don't need him asking any uncomfortable questions around school again or following her home."

"Once we find all of the cards he'll have to leave us alone" Yukito put in. "They'll all be Touya Cards by then anyway. Yue says it's almost impossible to undo the seal once the cards have chosen a new master."

"Well that's a relief. It means his campaign to steal them is already a lost cause. Now if only we could convince him to go back to Hong Kong before Sakura gets back."

"Why are you so anxious that he not meet Sakura, Touya? He already knows she doesn't have the cards." Yukito prompted him speculatively. "The teacher will make sure he doesn't do anything to her during class time."

"I just have a bad feeling about it. Like he's going to take something precious from me that I've loved for a long time" Touya admitted. "I don't know why."

"Oh I see." Yukito said with a knowing grin. His friend snorted and looked away. "Now Touya there's no need to be so grumpy about it. Childhood love happens all the time. I'm sure Sakura will be able to tell if someone is right for her. She's a very smart girl."

"I know that. I just don't want it to be him." Touya grumbled. "He's such an immature little kid."

"Someone like Sakura might be good for him, even as a friend" Yukito suggested. "She and Tomoyo could teach him to be more accepting of others."

"I still don't like it."

"Touya, when does Sakura come home?"

"Monday" Touya confirmed. "Dad got a call this morning. We're going to go up and see her on Friday. Do you want to come?"

"I'd like that Touya. I'm glad she's finally recovered."

"Tomoyo knows and Sonomi insisted on bringing her this time." Touya told him. "One big family. My Dad's thrilled."

"I can see why" Yukito said chuckling. "He always seems happier whenever Ms. Sonomi calls."

Touya shook his head.

"I don't even want to know."

Touya looked over and saw his mother's ghost sitting on a chair in the far corner of the room. She was laughing at him and he knew deep down that she approved of Fujitaka's crush on Sonomi. Even if the latter had yet to figure out her former sensei had feelings for her. It was going to be an interesting year. He knew New Years at his great-grandfather's house would be made even more interesting by it. Things would only get worse when Sakura and Tomoyo found out and though Touya was loathe to admit it, this revelation did make him feel a bit better about everything, including his own prior emotional turmoil. Sonomi's society marriage and prompt divorce before Tomoyo was born was something they hadn't learned of until recently, although apparently Fujitaka had been keeping track of the Amamiya family as part of Nadeshiko's last request.

I was worried, Nadeshiko insisted as she'd floated about his bedroom the night before. She always did what she thought was expected of us. It never seemed to turn out very well when it came to their expectations about our marriages. I did what I felt was right, because your father was the only one for me. I'm sure you feel that way about Yukito.

Touya had blushed more than a little at that and then dutifully bid his mother good night.

Even now, he was glad that Yukito believed him about his mother's ghost. She would often show up at his part-time jobs and Yukito would help out by creating some meaningless dialogue that made it appear less like he was talking to himself. Visits from Nadeshiko mattered greatly to him and Yukito's helpful interventions were always very much appreciated.

Usually if he was working with Fujimoto on Tuesdays nights at Piffle Pizza on the edge of town, the other teen was too distracted by a certain red-haired girl whose name Touya had yet to learn. She worked at the local pre-school next door and always carried the same blue dog plushie with her everywhere. It vaguely reminded Touya of Kero when he complained about their lack of cake, with its almost lifelike scowl of defiance.

Touya resolved to ask Fujimoto what the girl's name was the next time they worked together. He had a feeling it was significant in some way, even if it likely had nothing to do with the situation with Clow Reed. The teen resolved to bring Kero just in case. His reintroduction to Yue hadn't been particularly enviable, but the yellow cat guardian had seemingly accepted his brother back into the fold, despite Yue's comments about his constant gluttony.

The Cardmaster looked up drowsily at the clock and realized he'd been spacing out again. Yukito had fallen asleep on the couch and his mother was peering at him intently from her corner. He quickly covered Yukito with a blanket and shook him awake slightly in order bid him good night, before exiting the house and closing the door behind him.

Nadeshiko followed him out by shifting her translucent form straight through Yukito's front door.

I'm glad you're happy, she said a joyful smile that only she could pull off without seeming incredibly silly, at least in Touya's mind. I know you and Sakura will be fine. Look after your father for me, won't you?

Touya nodded and made as if to hug her, a gesture she returned before fading out completely. He quietly made his way home just as it began to the sky began to darken and snow started to fall upon the untouched ground.

Chapter Text

"It's nice to have you along Sonomi" Fujitaka commented good naturedly.  "I'm sure Sakura will be very happy to meet you."

"I'm only going for the sake of Nadeshiko's beloved daughter." Sonomi Daidouji said giving him an aggressive glare.  "She would want me to meet her child after all and it's tragic that Sakura became so ill at such a young age."

"You're so kind Sonomi.  I'm sure Nadeshiko would be glad for Sakura to get to know you" Fujitaka continued brightly.

"Still using cheap one-liners Kinomoto-sensei?" Sonomi fired back.  "You aren't playing fair by mentioning her like that!"

"You were always so passionate, that was one of the things Nadeshiko loved about you" her former teacher replied.  "She always said so."

"That's beside the point, sensei.  Wait, what did you mean by that?"

"Are they going to be like this for the whole ride?" Touya wondered aloud.

"Oh, but aren't they adorable?" Tomoyo asked with a winsome smile.  "I think Mother likes him."

"They do seem to be getting along in their own way" Yukito commented.  "I'm glad Sakura will get a chance to meet her mother's best friend.  I think she'll like the idea of having more family."

"It is nice having family" Touya agreed glancing down at Tomoyo who was seated beside him.  "I didn't think Sonomi was the type of person to take the train though."

"I think my mother wanted to avoid some of the traffic in Tokyo at this time of the day" Tomoyo said lightly.  "It is much easier getting to the Tokyo Metropolitan Hospital by using public transportation."

"Mmm" Touya mumbled.  "At least Li hasn't been around today.  I don't want him finding out where Sakura is while she's still recovering."

"Oh, I wouldn't worry about that" Tomoyo told him gleefully.

"Why is that Tomoyo?" Yukito asked curiously.  "Did something happen to him?"

"Not quite" Tomoyo replied.  "I just mentioned to Terada-sensei that Li might be able to help out one of the sports teams this weekend.  He won't have time for anything else."

"Clever" Touya said.  "I've been meaning to ask you if there was anything unusual going on at school, besides Li?"

"Hmmm...Now that you mention it, we did get an exchange student a couple of days ago." Tomoyo answered thoughtfully.  "His name is Eriol Hiiragizawa, which is the name Yuko gave us.  His hair is blue and he seems much older than he appears."

"Yue says that Clow's hair was also blue" Yukito put in.  "I wonder if there's a connection between the two of them.  Maybe Clow's reincarnation is still a child or at least pretending to be one."

"It certainly sounds suspicious enough.  Maybe that's what Kaho was hiding." Touya speculated.  "It might explain why we always feel as though we're being watched.  The only kid we were looking out for was Li."

"He was rather obvious" Tomoyo agreed.  "This person might have used Li as a distraction to escape notice.  Are you two any closer to finding all of the cards?"

"We have forty of them.  Yue's been helping too." Yukito replied.  "The Rain was hiding under Touya's father's desk."

"And can you use them all?" Tomoyo wanted to know.

"I've practiced with some of them" Touya admitted.  "They all seem to come when I call them."

"Well you were able to revert them to Touya Cards without having to pass through Yue's judgment" Yukito reminded him.  "He seems to be taking it very well."

"He's much more annoyed at Clow than at me" Touya remarked.  "It is Clow's fault that he was locked up for a century inside the book."

"Yes, but after he thought Clow was going to die, Yue didn't want to come out of the book ever again" Yukito informed them.  "He said it would be too painful without him."

"Well I'm glad he's here regardless and that he was unsealed" Touya said seriously.  "Even if it didn't happen in the best possible way."

"I am too" Yukito agreed.  "Yue is a very kind person when he wants to be.  I don't mind sharing a form with him."

"Even when he's pouting?" Touya asked with a raised eyebrow.  "You're too nice Yuki."

"You're more kind than I am, To-ya." Yuki said brightly at him.  "Even Yue agrees."

"Only when you don't ruffle his feathers" Tomoyo put in.  She laughed lightly as she imagined the white haired guardian's with a perturbed expression on it, knowing that this would be his reaction to any perceived teasing on their part.

"I think my Dad just asked your Mom out for coffee tomorrow" Touya murmured to his cousin.  "They seem to have gotten a bit quieter."

"It might be good for them" Tomoyo said with grin that was all innocence.  "Maybe my mother will warm up to him a bit more after that."

"I'll just have to call you the evil-stepsister then won't I?" Touya teased.  "The monster will be thrilled."

"I think it's nice that your father has a friend" Yukito commented.  "Someone his own age that he can talk to about things.  It must be hard for him to meet new people when he works so much."

"Yeah, probably" Touya said idly.  "My mom's certainly amused."

"Can you really talk to your mother, Touya?" Tomoyo asked curiously.

"Yeah, what of it?"

"Nothing, I just think it's very special.  It's not every day that someone gets to talk to a precious person even after they're gone" Tomoyo said calmly.

"It helped me accept things more" Touya replied.  He hadn't really meant to tell Tomoyo about it.  It was just that he'd grown more comfortable being around  her these past few weeks that he forgot she didn't know about his other ability.  Yukito knew all about it, so he didn't even question it when Touya mentioned these odd occurrences.  He was glad that at least she wasn't the type to tell Sonomi. about it.  It wasn't as if he could prove it anyway, since Nadeshiko wasn't even here right now.


 

"Seems as if you've failed in your campaign to get Touya Kinomoto to like you" Spinel remarked as Ruby moon flounced into the room in her school uniform.  "Don't you think you're better off just leaving him be?"

"Nonsense, even if he is dating Yukito now" Ruby Moon said with a mysterious grin.  "Once he learns just how powerful I truly am, he'll have to give me some of his magic.  Who wouldn't want me to help them out?"

"Then doesn't that mean it's already over?  The new Cardmaster has chosen someone who isn't you" Spinel added, his voice tinged with amusement.  "And besides that, you're Eriol's guardian.  I doubt Touya needs your help with Yue and Keroberos by his side."

"hmmph!  That's so boring!" Ruby Moon argued.  "We're just waiting around for them to find the cards anyway.  Can't I have a little fun?"

Spinel tilted his head slightly as he peered at her.

"We'll have to fight them at some point.  Don't forget that."

"Oh Suppy, you just don't understand how fun high school really is.  You just wait and see."

"I'd like it if you left them alone for now Ruby Moon" Eriol said entering the room.  "You'll see them soon enough."

"Oooh!  But I wanted to show him that so I'm much better than Yue.  Do you really want him having two full guardians and ruining your plans for testing him?" Ruby Moon complained.

"I've had to change my plans once again, it's true" Eriol acknowledged.  "Nothing seems to have gone the way I'd foreseen.  However, I realize that even Clow couldn't have predicted that one incident. That being said, you shouldn't try to take Touya's magic from him.  Not that he'd give it to you anyway now that he's supporting both Keroberos and Yue.  Giving it to you would mean that Yukito would be resealed inside the Book of Clow along with the cards."

"Oh fine" Ruby Moon reluctantly agreed.  "I'll just have to start a new game."

Eriol smiled lightly and Spinel shook his head.  The red haired guardian would never change, nor would anything ever damage her lively enthusiasm.


 

"Hey kid, you look like you've got something on your mind?" Nakuru said.  And you've got a lovely store of magical power.  "Would you like to talk about it?"

"I don't talk to strangers" Syaoran said as he pushed past her and kept walking.

"hmmmm...now there's an interesting one" she said watching after him.  "I think I'll try for you instead."

Syaoran picked up his pace as he felt a shiver go down his spine and didn't stop walking until he was safely back at his residence.

Maybe I should stop by the local shrine tomorrow, he thought.  There's some type of evil spirit on my tail.  That might explain why I'm having no luck with the cards.

When he managed to shake off a feeling of panic, he started shuffling through the mail stacked neatly on the table.  There was a letter from his mother and one from his cousin Meiling.  His mother, as usual, inquired about his health and his grades, as well as his progress in locating the Clow Cards.  Meiling on the other hand was asking if he would be able to come home during his school break.

Syaoran looked down at his cousin's letter warily.  He loved his cousin, she was like another sister to him, only they were the same age and understood one another far more than he and his sisters ever would.  Meiling seemed to have finally forgiven him for refusing her marriage proposal years before, which was heartening.  She had even started dating a boy from her class at school recently, which put his mind at ease.  Refusing his cousin had been one of the hardest things he'd ever had to do, but it wouldn't have been fair to her when he didn't feel any sort of romantic feelings toward her.  That and he hadn't been ready to commit to any type of relationship beyond a platonic one at the age of eight.

He hadn't made any real progress tracking down the girl his mother had seen in her visions or tracking down the Clow Cards.  Touya Kinomoto and his friend had some of them, of that he was certain, but he'd yet to actually see any of them himself.

Syaoran sighed and set about working on his homework.  There was no point in dwelling on it.  He'd see about the rest of it tomorrow after he got some protections seals from the local shrine.  The ones his mother had sent with him weren't strong enough for the apparition from earlier.  At least Syaoran hoped it was only a dark spirit he'd sensed, if it was one of Clow's creations then he was in serious trouble.


 

"It's so good to see you Tomoyo and you Yukito." Sakura said cheerfully as they walked through the door to her hospital room.

"Sakura, I'd like you to meet Sonomi Daidouji" Fujitaka said gesturing toward the woman standing beside him.  "She was your mother's best friend growing up.  They were also cousins."

"Oh, really?  Well it's very nice to meet you Ms. Daidouji" Sakura replied rewarding her with a smile.  "Wait, does this mean that Tomoyo is my cousin too?"

"Yes it does" Fujitaka put in.  "I didn't realize it until I called her to get permission for Tomoyo to come and visit you."

"Yes well, it was definitely a surprise" Sonomi said gritting her teeth slightly.  Then she turned to smile at Sakura.  "You look very much like Nadeshiko did at your age."

"Hoee! Really?"

"Yes, very much so.  You're just as cute as she was." Sonomi replied.

"Your brother also met our great-grandfather when he visited us" Tomoyo put in.

Touya nodded.

"He asked us to come visit him for New Years" her brother explained.  "He...wants to get to know us too."

"That's wonderful" Sakura said, sounding very excited at the idea of meeting more family members.  "I'll have to make sure I'm better by then.  I'll have try really really hard."

They all chuckled lightly at her enthusiasm.

"Don't push yourself Sakura, I'm sure it'll work out just fine" Yukito commented.  "Your grandfather would want you to get well at your own pace."

Fujitaka nodded in agreement.

"I can promise you he's not going anywhere" her father assured her.  "You're great-grandfather is a very healthy man from what I'm told."

"He is doing extremely well for someone his age" Sonomi agreed.  Then she realized she'd just concurred with her old sensei and proceeded to fold her arms and scowl at him.

Tomoyo and Sakura giggled slightly at this.

"Sonomi really does like your father, doesn't she?" Yukito whispered to Touya.

"You and the evil stepsister might actually be right about that" Touya retorted.  "We'll just have to see what happens."

Chapter Text

Sakura's homecoming was nothing less than huge relief for everyone involved.  Sonomi had arranged for a car to drive Sakura and Fujitaka to and from the hospital.  Fujitaka tried to thank his former student for her kindness, but was waved off with an excuse about the delicacy of Sakura's health.  Touya, Yukito, and Tomoyo had all skipped school to get the house ready for Sakura's return.  They managed to bribe Kero and a few of the Clow Cards into helping with the cleaning by promising them cake.  Something that amused Tomoyo to no end.

"I had no idea your cards were so easily persuaded" she commented with a whimsical smile.

Touya shook his head.

"They're mostly Kero's subordinates" he explained "so it makes sense they'd love it as much as the little furball does."

"He does have great taste in sweets" Yukito said as he finished sweeping out the kitchen.  "Though Yue disagrees with me."

"That's because Yue likes sour tasting deserts" Touya replied.  "He's almost the complete opposite of the plushie at times."

"Wait a minute!  Are you saying it was Yue who finished off that lemon meringue pie last week?" Kero asked boisterously.  "How could you let him eat it all?"

Touya snorted.

"When you actually start paying for this stuff I might let you argue your case" he said with a tinge of sarcasm.  "Until then, your brother gets half of any and all deserts."

"But I eat more than he does!"

"I know" Touya said with a certain irony.  "Maybe then you'll learn to leave enough for the rest of us."

Kero pouted visibly.

"Just for that you're now my least favorite master."

"I think I'll live."

Tomoyo giggled behind the counter and Yukito just patiently shook his head.  Some things would never change.

When Sakura did finally make it home from the hospital everyone got in a quick hello and goodbye before she was shuffled off to bed, being nearly exhausted from the drive home.  Sonomi and Tomoyo headed for home shortly afterwards.  Touya decided to stick around for the night in case of any emergencies, citing that he would sleepover at Yukito's the next night since he'd already been invited.  He knew eventually that he, Yukito, Yue, and Kero were going to have to deal with Clow Reed's reincarnation and that any backlash might have distinctly negative effects on Tomoeda.  However, right now all Touya wanted to do was enjoy the fact that Sakura was well again and that things were distinctly quiet on the Li front.  Life was good, for now anyway.


 

Sakura woke up the day after returning home from the hospital to a knock at her door.

"Hey monster?" Touya

"Don't call me that grrr...." Sakura answered in a surly voice.

"I need to talk to you about something important" Touya said putting a hand on top of her head and sitting down on the edge of her bed.  "I took something that should have been yours and I don't know how to fix it."

"Nii-san?  What did you take?  I don't see anything missing and all of my plushies are still-"

"That's not what I meant Sakura" her brother said cutting her off.  "I took something that was your birthright by accident and now it's with me to stay."

Sakura blinked as a shocked expression appeared on her face.  He'd called her by her first name, something he rarely did even in moments of anger or annoyance.

"You mean there was something waiting around for me to be born in order to...find it?" she asked, still unsure of what he could be talking about.  She'd always considered her life to be highly fulfilling and was very grateful for her loving friends and family.

Touya shook his head and took the Clow Cards out from his coat pocket.

"Dad had a book in the basement with these cards in it.  They're called Clow Cards, because a powerful wizard named Clow Reed created them over two hundred years ago.  When he thought it was his time to die, he sealed the cards away in a special book so they could wait for a new master.  That master was supposed to be you" Touya explained.  "Then I went looking through Dads book collection with Yukito while you were in the hospital and I accidentally knocked over the book.  The cards came out and so did Kero..."

"That yellow cat guardian you keep in your room even though you think Dad doesn't notice?" Sakura added.

"How did you know about that?"

Sakura grinned.

"Dad told me and then Yukito might have mentioned something" she said teasingly.

"Traitors" she heard her brother mutter.  "Getting back to what I was saying.  The yellow plushie is alive and very real.  According to him, his real form is much bigger and magic is keeping it sealed away for now.  I'm working on breaking the seal." Touya replied.  "He was the one who told me and Yukito that we had to find the Clow Cards, even though you were supposed to have been the one to find them, or there would be dire magical consequences.  I thought he was exaggerating, but we went along with it anyway.  I had let them out in the first place, even if it wasn't on purpose."

"So that's what you've been doing since I was gone" Sakura said holding a finger in the air.  "You did seem busier than usual and much more tired when you came to see me.  You're even friends with Tomoyo now.  And her mother."

"That also happened by accident" Touya said.  "She was helping us hide from Li."

"Who?"

"He's this kid mage.  Name's Syaoran Li and he's in your class at school with Tomoyo.  He's got some Chinese fire magic that he's been using on us to try and get us to give up the location of the Clow Cards.  Somehow he figured out that we've got a few of them.  More than that now.  Though he could be hunting monsters instead" Touya answered with a mocking grin.

"That's terrible!  Are you okay Nii-san?" Sakura asked with great concern.

"We made a deal with someone to keep him away from me and Yukito as well as our homes" Touya explained.  "Though we had do something in return."

"Wh-what did you have to do?" his sister inquired curiously.

"I kissed him Sakura.  I'm sorry" Touya said turning away.  "I know that you like Yukito and-"

Sakura started to cry a little, but pushed her tears back as she realized that he brother looked sad as well.

"Nii-san, do you like Yukito?  Is he your most important person?"

"Yes."

"Then I'm happy for you" Sakura said as she watched a look of surprise and definite relief spread across Touya's face.   "I do like Yukito very much, but Nii-san doesn't have that many people.  You have me and Dad and Yukito.  Now Tomoyo's your friend and family.  Sonomi too.  I have a lot of friends around me and I know how happy Yukito makes you.  You didn't used to smile that way, Nii-san."

"Sakura I...I don't know what to say.  I've taken everything from you..." Touya said guiltily.

Sakura gave him a sad little smile that would have been cute had Touya not felt that it was completely his fault.

"I still have everything Nii-san.  You've always looked out for me, even when you're being a jerk.  I love you and so does Dad.  I never had those cards and I didn't have Yukito either.  He's always been my friend, but that's it.  Yukito was always Nii-san's friend too.  I always saw him with you." Sakura explained.  "Even when I'd see him places, he'd seem happy and cheerful until you showed up or called him.  Then he'd smile so much better and I didn't realize that that was because he cared about you too.  You're his most important person too, Nii-san.  You should tell him how you feel."

"I did." Touya admitted.  "You...were right about everything you just said."

Sakura put on a cheerful smile and hugged her older brother over her blankets.

"I'm glad.  You don't have to be scared then, Nii-san.  I'll protect you from Li.  I'll help you.  I'm glad that you and Yukito are happy." She said.  "I'm glad you're not alone anymore."

Touya surprisingly had to fight the tears that began welling up in his eyes.  He willed them down fiercely, determined not to let Sakura see him cry.  Not when she was being so strong about such a difficult situation.  It was jarring, coming to the realization that she'd been worried about him all these years, while he isolated himself after his mother's death and Kaho's abrupt exit from his life.  She really was the best little sister he could have asked for.  Even if they did tend to get on each other's nerves nearly all the time and he had instilled a fear of ghosts in her at a very young age thanks to a few exaggerated stories about things he'd seen.

"You have magic power too, you know" Touya put in as he hugged her back.  "We just have to figure out how to get you to use them."

"Maybe Kero would know."

"Or Yue" Touya said automatically.  "Um...he's Yukito's other self.  He's a guardian of the Clow Cards like Kero."

Sakura nodded, though confusion was evident on her face.

"Kero had magic related to the sun and Yue, the moon.  They were created to rule the Clow Cards together and guard them any type of harm.  Clow Reed also treated them like his children, then his friends and finally with Yue..."

"Oh.  You mean he was Yue's boyfriend" Sakura said.  "I understand.  So why are Yue and Yukito the same person?  Is Yukito possessed?  Did Yue die?"

Touya shook his head.

"No.  Yue was sealed away along with Kero and the other cards, but somehow he was released two years ago and hidden from everyone.  Yue himself was still sealed away and so the magic created a fake identity for him and a whole other person to inhabit his body.  Even though that person was still a part of Yue himself.  That person was Yukito.  Yue was supposed to awaken after you'd captured all of the Clow Cards and judge whether or not you were the right person to be their master.  My magic kind of messed that up and made it so that Yue didn't have to judge me in order for me to be their master."  He said and Sakura twisted out of his arms in order to look at him.

"Is he still Yukito too?" She asked worriedly.

"Yeah.  Yukito's fine.  He and Yue are sharing a form and getting along alright" Touya replied signaling with his hands for her to calm down.  "His grandparents aren't real though.  It took him some time to come to terms with that."

They spent most of the day talking about what had happened while Sakura was in the hospital and though it was difficult, Touya felt better now that he'd been truthful with his sister.  His feelings of guilt had finally come to a head once more and she'd forgiven him in a way that only she could.  They would move on from there, as always, and attempt to figure out how to unlock Sakura's own magic.


 

Li felt all of the energy drain out of him as he made one final leap away from the roof of the Tsukimine Shrine.  In a last effort to drive the red haired spirit off, he held up a fire seal and summoned the flames to answer his call.  The spirit simply dodged his attack and glided onto the pavement before moving even closer to him.

"Nii-san!  It's over here!" Sakura shouted as she dragged Touya up the steps to the shrine.  Yukito and Tomoyo followed behind them.   

Yukito was pushing Touya's bike along the path as his friend had been whisked away by his little sister before he could get it off the school rack.  Tomoyo and Sakura had met them at the entrance to Sejyo High School and insisted that something was going on at the Tsukimine Shrine.  Sakura had begun to sense strange happenings after connecting with her inner Air element.  According to Yue she was strong with magic in two elements, air and water.  It had taken her a little over a week to activate her powers after attempting use a number of minor magics, upon Yue's instruction, to unlock her magical core.  This had unnerved Touya slightly, because he had still been worried about her coming to harm while performing any type of magic.  It was still a relatively new to all of them, except Kero and Yue.  Yue being the most reliable expert on it's usage, while Kero inserted helpful, sometimes confusing comments here and there.

Sakura sensed a disturbance at the shrine and seen vague images of a confrontation in any source of water within view, which explained her urgency to get help and bring them directly to that location.

Touya saw a beaten down Syaoran with a very smug Ruby Moon standing over him and, despite his dislike of the kid, took out his staff and transformed it almost immediately.  He knew that this person, despite having a different appearance, was Nakuru Akizuki, he could sense it.  It wasn't surprising to learn that she was actually inhuman after all, since she'd to attach herself to him at every given opportunity and attempted to steal bits of his magic each time.  Now she had gotten greedy, and after many failed attempts with Touya, Akizuki had found another source of magical power for the taking.  Li was annoying, but a brat was still a brat.  Touya couldn't let a kid face off against an older person trying to drain him dry of his magical ability, it went against any and all of the ethics he firmly held dear.

"Clow Cards I ask that you answer my call!" Touya said before pulling Windy, Illusion, and Dash out of his pocket.   Windy created a minor gale that moved Nakuru further away from Syaoran, allowing Touya to grab the boy by the arm and as well as Sakura.  Then he set them down and set Illusion to recreate an image of them standing there making small obvious movements before using Dash to get them all safely down the stairs of the shrine to where Tomoyo and Yukito were waiting.  His staff tightly gripped between his teeth the entire time.

Yukito took his cue from Touya and beat a hasty getaway with Tomoyo in hand and Touya's bike in the other.  The scene would have looked incredibly awkward to Ruby Moon if she'd been able to see him, but the Illusion card had done his job well.  Once their master was far enough away from the shrine, the cards disappeared from the shrine and resumed their place in the deck.


 

Yukito proceeded to use first aid on Syaoran after they'd managed to get him back to Touya's house.  Much as Touya was loath to take the kid mage anywhere near his home, they had just rescued him from a scary looking Akizuki.  Something the Cardmaster had found more than a little disconcerting.  Now he knew that Akizuki and Kaho were both involved with the Clow Cards somehow and it was extremely likely that Nakuru was also involved with the wizard's reincarnation as well.  Li, for all the trouble he'd caused, was apparently not in league with them, or at least if he had been, he wasn't anymore.  That was enough to set Touya's mind at rest for now, even if he didn't like the brat getting within fifty miles of Sakura at any point in time.

"He seems to have calmed down now" Yukito commented as he entered the room, shaking Touya from his thoughts.  "You don't have to worry about him coming after the Clow Cards.  Yue just gave him a stern lecture about how you rescued him and that he hadn't been able to find any of the cards in the first place.  I think he was a bit too harsh with him, but that's Yue for you.  He's very protective of his master."

Yukito winked, which caused Touya to snort in response.  He'd been giving the Cardmaster hints about Yue's possible feelings for a while now.  Touya knew Yue needed time to re-acclimate himself and to get over Clow Reed, if he did.  He was another part of Yukito, his other self and despite Touya's own relationship with the grey haired teen, he had reason to doubt his chances of entering into an equally intimate relationship with the moon guardian.  At times it felt like part of Yukito loved him, while his other half was determined to stay entrenched in the end of his past romance forever.  Touya knew he liked Yue, maybe even loved him, but he wasn't willing to push the guardian into admitting what his feelings toward him were.  There was no point in treading already shaky ground.  Yue was completely loyal to Touya as one of his guardians, but romantic feelings were another avenue entirely.

"He's right though" Touya replied.  "Li shouldn't be interfering with anything now that the cards have decided.  He's been a nuisance since day one."

"Well at least he seems to be getting along with Sakura and Tomoyo now" Yukito commented.  "They were talking about school when I left them."

"Maybe he'll be less of a problem after this" Touya said.  "We'll find him some type of seal against Akizuki so we won't have to deal with that situation again.  Hopefully he'll take the hint and just act like a normal kid from here on out."

"He saw the changed cards Touya when you summoned them.  I'm sure he's given up by now." Yukito put in.

"Good.  We'll send him to another shrine or-"

"Nii-san!  Come quick!  This woman just appeared in our bathroom!"

Touya sat bolt upright and both he and Yukito made a mad dash down the hall to the bathroom.

"Well well" Yuko said cheerfully as she stood there in long black dress traced with moon and star patterns.  "Long time no see."

Touya groaned.

"What the hell are you doing here?" he asked more annoyed than ever.

"He summoned me" Yuko said pointing to Syaoran.

"He did it before we could stop him" Tomoyo said holding up her hands defensively.

"We didn't know Nii-san.  I'm sorry." Sakura said, still in shock at Yuko's sudden appearance.

"You couldn't have" Touya commented lightly before looking up at the witch and summoning his staff.  "What did you have to go and do that for kid!  We don't need her here in our house."

Syaoran had the decency to look slightly guilty.  Clearly he hadn't thought this part through either.

"I only wanted a seal" he muttered.

"Yeah well there are other places to get one.  Better places." Touya answered as he glared at his unwelcome guest.  "You're the only one who can get rid of her right now."

"Can you make it so that anyone can't take my magic from me if don't want them to have it?" Syaoran asked as he gulped nervously.

"I can" Yuko answered coolly.  "The question is, are you willing to pay the price?"

"What is the price?" Syaoran asked warily.

"There is some unfinished business that Clow Reed left in your homeland" Yuko said.  "He sealed a woman away from the world and now her ghost attempts to lure unsuspecting magicians into setting her free.  She must be dealt with by Clow Reed's successor, whomever they may be.  You will serve as a guide and provide housing and protection for this successor and his companions while they fulfill this quest."

Touya put a hand to his head.  Just what he needed, more of Clow Reed's unfinished business.  He turned just as Yukito put a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"Do you agree to this?" Yuko asked in serious tone.

"I do.  It's the least the Li Clan can do to help out" Syaoron answered.  "My mother would insist that it was our duty to provide help and finish what our distant relative started."

"You do owe Nii-san one" Sakura put in, causing Syaoran to take on a rather miserable expression.

"It's the right thing to do" Yukito whispered to his boyfriend.  "We can't just leave this person.  They might become dangerous even if they don't mean to."

"We'll take care of it during the next school break" Touya answered finally.  "Can you at least give us the name of the person we're trying to find?"

Yuko looked thoughtful for a moment before saying, "I will, for the price of a single piece of your father's homemade cake. "

"Fine."

Once Yuko received her slice of cheesecake, she did as she was bid.

"The young woman in question is known as the Madoushi, Su Yung.  She was once a fortune teller in Hong Kong before meeting Clow Reed.  Well, I must be off.  The cake was delightful.  I envy the lucky woman who marries such a talented cook."

Then with a wink Yuko was disappeared, much to Touya's intense relief.  Though he wasn't sure how he felt about the witch's subtle mention of his father's marital status.  It was too ominous to really take any greater meaning from, yet obvious enough that it played to his own perceptions of his family's possible future.

Touya shook his head to clear it and left the room with Yukito following close behind.  Sakura, Tomoyo and Syaoran vacated the bathroom a moment later, with the latter two heading for home.  Sakura wandered off to her room, leaving her brother and Yukito to their own devices.  The teens talked for a while about their mandatory upcoming trip before falling asleep on the couch wrapped in a close embrace.

Chapter Text

"There was a disturbance at the shrine my family cares for this afternoon" Kaho said as she sat down to tea with Eriol and Spinel.  "Do you know anything about it?"

"Unfortunately yes" Spinel answered in exasperation.  "Ruby Moon is still upstairs pouting over it."

"Apparently Touya Kinomoto stopped her from taking something that wasn't hers" Eriol answered with some amusement. 

"She's been trying to steal his magic all along" Spinel explained, after taking a sip of his tea.  "When this proved futile, she tried for the Li clan brat.  It didn't work out in her favor."

Kaho laughed slightly at this.

"Touya hasn't changed a bit" she said shaking her head.  "He was like that even back then."

"Sakura has also returned" Eriol commented.  "I've seen her at school with Tomoyo and several others.  She seems to have made a full recovery."

"Indeed.  Eriol, I also sensed a rather unusual presence in the vicinity of Touya's house earlier" Kaho told him.  "It was nothing like I've ever felt before."

Eriol smiled and his blue eyes took on a dark knowing tinge.

"I felt it as well.  The dimensional witch paid them a visit" Eriol said, surprising both Kaho and Spinel.  "She was an old associate of Clow's.  I've been to see her several times before in this form."

"So they've had dealings with her as well" Kaho added after a thoughtful pause.  "Does this change anything?"

"She was not summoned by any of the Kinomoto's.  Young Syaoran called upon her services this time." The wizard explained.  "Though I did ask her to test them.  I wanted to see if Touya could handle his duties as the Cardcaptor after that little mishap with the book.  However, I have no idea if she's done so as of yet."

"Touya's a good boy.  I don't think that was really necessary."

Eriol sighed deeply.

"Regardless, I was taken aback by him opening the book instead of his sister.  I needed a way to ensure that they were well cared for."

"Which means you failed to get things back to the way they were" Spinel commented.

"Unfortunately yes.  She claimed I could not pay the price for such a transaction" Eriol agreed.  "I'm sure she was correct, as her job requires she be precise about that particular aspect.  Even if she does enjoy toying with me."

"Are you saying she holds a grudge against  Clow?" Kaho asked in surprise.

Her companion shook his head "no".

"It's just her way" Eriol explained.  "I doubt we have anything further to worry about."


 

"Sakura, you should try it" Tomoyo said eagerly as the store clerk held out a large square shaped box.  "You might win one of the prizes."

The store was having a contest that allowed customers to win different prizes.

"Oh okay" Sakura said as she put her hand in and felt a slight jolt.  She grabbed the first colored ball that she could reach and pulled it out.  "I guess I got one of the small prizes."

The store clerk took note of its color, before checking the chart on the wall behind her.  Then she stared in surprise.

"It appears you've won our special prize" the woman said finally, handing Sakura a packet with four tickets to Hong Kong, a package, and some phone numbers to call. 

Apparently they weren't going to have trouble finding accommodations for their trip, despite Syaoran's promise to the witch.  Sakura was relieved that they weren't going to have to use up some of Touya's savings to fly to Hong Kong or need to convince their father of the necessity of their trip.  Fujitaka was going on a business trip after New Years, so they wouldn't have to sneak around him in order to try and find Su Yung.

Touya took some time off from his part time jobs for the school break, planning to spend the latter half of it fulfilling Yuko's request. The Kinomoto family and Yukito, as well as Sonomi and Tomoyo spent New Year's with Masaki Amamiya as promised.  Masaki was extremely pleased to meet Sakura and proceeded to give her several of Nadeshiko's old childhood things, including a group of dresses he'd saved in storage.  Fujitaka was treated as family, rather than a mere guest and a great amount of time talking with Masaki and Sonomi during their stay.  Touya, Yukito, Sakura, Tomoyo, and Kero all started a snowball fight, which slowly turned into a melee when Yue also came out to play.  The others were surprised, as they'd never seen Yue's playful side before.

"So this is Sakura.  I've heard so much about you from everyone" Masaki said when they walked in the door followed by the Daidouji's.  "You look so much like your mother."

On the last day, they were visited by several other members of the Amamiya family, including Nadeshiko's parents, who proved incredibly standoffish.  However, Tomoe, Nadeshiko's mother did finally introduce herself to Touya and Sakura, asking how school was and what universities Touya was thinking about entering.  Ironically, Nadeshiko's father, Soichiro wound up talking to Yukito for half an hour before realizing who he was, which got him into conversation with his grandchildren.

"I'm here with Touya Kinomoto over there" Yukito said pointing toward the brown haired teen.

Touya was incredibly distrustful of his mother's parents, but Sakura seemed like them.  Tomoe had even promised to write to Sakura from time to time.  Soichiro seemed to accept that Touya and Yukito were friends of an unusual sort and made an effort to avoid any topic of conversation that might upset his grandson.  Times had changed and Touya had a feeling that despite their tolerance and guarded approval of Yukito, these two were from a world that was rapidly changing all around them.

"You look so much like Nadeshiko" Tomoe commented with a cheery smile that almost seemed real to Touya as she patted Sakura on the head.  "That was her favorite dress when she was younger, you know.  I'm glad to see you children are in such good health.  I'm sure your mother would have been pleased."

Masaki purposefully kept Fujitaka out of sight with Sonomi's help, though the archeology professor seemed to understand what was going on despite their efforts.  Although he was quite pleased when Sonomi agree to join him for a walk Masaki's snowy garden later that evening.

"I'm only doing this because my aunt and uncle can be a bother about Nadeshiko sometimes" Sonomi said airly.  "They just can't let go of things."

"I'm glad they're talking to my children at least" Fujitaka replied.  "It was nice of you to introduce them Sonomi."

"Don't bother.  It didn't sink in until a couple of hours later" Sonomi commented, before frowning slightly.  "I'm sorry I stayed away so long too.  They're good kids."

"I'm sure the shock of losing Nadeshiko was hard to bare" Fujitaka said with a small smile.  "She was such a lively person.  It's different when someone is still alive, even if you don't see them.  They're still out there somewhere living and breathing.  I think it must be hard for any parent to go through that, regardless."

"We all stayed away too long.  I always thought that I would go see her one day, maybe even after you were gone and she'd still be there" Sonomi said guiltily.  "But that never happened.  She died first and much too soon."

"We can appreciate our own lives while still honoring her" Fujitaka advised.  "You've done quite well for yourself and Tomoyo seems happy."

Sonomi smiled slightly at the mention of her daughter.

"Tomoyo is a very understanding person" she admitted.  "I doubt I could find another person like her in the entire world.  She's very dear to me."

"I know what you mean" Fujitaka said as they moved further up the walkway.  "I'm grateful for Sakura and Touya.  They're such good kids."

"It must have been difficult raising them by yourself after Nakeshiko..."

"Sometimes it was, but they always knew I cared about them, even when I had couldn't be there for dinner, because I had to work late.  Touya was always willing to help out.  He half raised Sakura."

"You make a nice family" Sonomi said with a light smile, before blushing slightly and turning away.   Then she began to pick up her pace and head toward the house.  "I think we'd better go in now.  It's getting colder."

Fujitaka nodded and chuckled a little as watched her march toward the manor.  He was a patient man and even if Sonomi never felt the same way about him, he was glad to finally have her as a friend.  It was good for Sakura and Touya to have family around them, Tomoyo too, there didn't seem to be there any Amamiya's her own age around for her to play with.

When the festivities were ended, everyone returned home after bidding Masaki a fond farewell.  He seemed pleased with how the visit had gone and invited the Kinomoto's to join them next year as well.  Tomoyo, Sakura, Yukito, and Touya headed out for their four day trip Hong Kong a couple of days later with Kero hidden securely in Touya's carry-on.


 

Once they were settled Yukito insisted they stop for lunch, after which they met Syaoran Li at Bird Street, a place where merchants pedaled exotic birds to foreigners and locals alike.

"This place hasn't changed at all" Kero commented from his perch in Touya's shoulder bag.  "It's all still here."

"mmm...considering that was over two hundred years ago, this place does seem a bit timeless" Touya commented.  "Does Yue remember much about it?"

Yukito nodded.

"When I asked, he said that he remembered Su Yung and that Clow had trapped her in a well somewhere near the center of the city" he answered.

"Wait really?!  I don't remember that happening." Kero put in.  "Yue must have a better memory of our time here then.  Maybe he can tell you how we can defeat her."

"He says that back in Japan he only had vague memories of this place, but that he's started to remember more after being here" Yukito explained.  "He also said that Clow Reed and Su Yung used to be romantically involved."

"Oh yeah, that's true" Kero said nodding in agreement.  "I remember that much.  That was back when Yue and I were still young.  It didn't turn out very well.  I'm surprised Yue wasn't more jealous of-"

Touya covered Kero's mouth with the edge of his coat.

"You're not starting a fight with Yue here" he said mildly.  "It's hard enough keeping you hidden when you insist on talking so loudly and trying to steal more food at the restaurant."

"You were being stingy again." The cat guardian insisted.

"No I wasn't, Yuki just has a huge appetite and needed his fair share" Touya asserted.  "And you still didn't pay for any of it."

"Grrr...." Kero grumbled before ducking his head back into the bag.  "You're no fun at all."

"Now now, we'll get you more snacks later Kero" Yukito put in.  "Right now we have to follow Li to where his family is staying.  He needs to fulfill his promise to Yuko."

"Then we find the well and deal with Su Yung" Touya said.  "But first we need to know what we're up against.  You know anything brat?"

"Be nice Nii-san" Sakura said from behind him.

Syaoran sent Touya an exasperated glare.

"I know there's an old well a couple of blocks from here" he said finally.  "It's in the center of the city, so I believe that's the one Yue was talking about."

Then he looked at Yue and flushed slightly.  Touya just shook his head.  Yue had explained that people who were drawn to the moon itself were often drawn to his magic in different ways.  Sometimes it involved an artificial attraction to him that bordered on lust.  This had made Touya question his own feelings briefly, before he noticed the different way in which certain people treated Yukito, and realized that his own feelings and the way he acted were vastly different from those who were simply caught up in the guardian's magical aura.  Sakura felt the same, until Touya and Yukito explained it to her.  Yue for his part seemed confident that Touya's own abilities had shielded him from any such effects and that Sakura acted out of the norm, because she tended to care about everyone with her whole heart, regardless.

"Besides, the fact is your magical inclination is more toward the sun than the moon" Yue had said "and I don't see you overly infatuated with my brother.  I think we're safe."

"Ugh, like that would ever happen" Touya said making a disgusted face.

Yue had chuckled at him.

"I'm sincerely glad to hear that."


 

The Li Clan lived in a very old Chinese manor house that probably dated back several centuries.  It was a known fact that the Li Clan were the descendants of Clow Reed's mother's family and as such had a great deal of magical power within their grasp.  Touya noted that the family must also be very wealthy as they were able to support five children through school, including Syaoran's education and accommodations overseas in Japan.  He found himself wondering what his great-grandfather would make of them and this house.  There was quite a bit of history in held within these walls, magical and otherwise.  It was little wonder that Clow Reed became as notable as he was with roots like these. 

Syaoran's sisters, Fuutie, Shiefa, Fanren, and Feimei were fairly lovely and completely excitable.  The older two wore yellow and red dressed respectively, while the younger two were attired in green and blue, each with a different style of hair cut for their similarly shaded brown locks.  They zeroed in on Touya and Yukito insisted upon giving them a rather friendly greeting.  Yukito just smiled in an easy going manner and hoped that Yue's magic wasn't having too much of an effect on them.  Touya shook his head slightly and listened to Fuutie and Feimei as they chattered about a million different things and asked him several awkward questions.

"I'm involved" Touya and Yukito said in unison when asked if they had any girlfriends back home.

All four girls stepped back with wide eyes.  They seemed to realize the implications of what had just been said.  Then the younger of the two began squealing and commenting on how cute the two boys looked together.

Touya sent Yukito an apologetic glance and received one in return.  Apparently there were few secrets in the Li household, since these girls were the epidemic of nosy and extremely curious to boot.

Syaoran introduced Tomoyo and Sakura to his cousin Meiling who had brought out an old fashioned tea set along with some readymade tea, and proceeded to set everything out on a small table by the couch.  Meiling seemed a bit standoffish and shy at first, but eventually she became more comfortable around Tomoyo and Sakura.  She was even more awkward around her cousin Syaoran. 

Tomoyo took note of the shaky way in which Meiling served her cousin tea and felt a great deal of sympathy for her.  While Sakura was currently Tomoyo's most important person, she knew that she was slowly getting over some of her romantic feelings for her best friend.  Even finding out that Sakura and Touya were her second cousins had helped her in a way.  She could think of them as family now too and having that connection had eased some of her feelings of foreboding.  Touya had even started treating her like his little cousin and they had secretive talks about her mother and Fujitaka when no one else was around.  It felt almost as if they were plotting to become siblings, albeit jokingly, and they had come to trust each other more.  Yukito had also taken to thinking of Tomoyo as his cousin, because of his relationship with Touya and the permanency of it.  Tomoyo herself had little doubt that the two of them would stay together through anything, weathering any rough tides that came their way.  She suspected that Meiling had yet to come to terms with any of her emotions and having four boy crazy older cousins probably hadn't helped her much.  Sadly, Tomoyo really didn't know Meiling well enough to interfere with her current situation, not that it would have stopped her under normal circumstances, but Syaoran was blatantly ignoring the signals his cousin was sending.  So either he was purposefully ignoring them and didn't feel the same or he was ignorant of them, which, also, likely meant he wasn't romantically inclined toward his cousin.

Syaoran's mother, Yelan Li, appeared a few moments later wearing an assortment of regalia from a fine white dress with accompanying robes, to a miniature gold headdress that kept her long black hair locked in its ponytail.  She introduced herself to Sakura and Tomoyo bowing and receiving the same gesture in return, before turning to Touya and Yukito.  The two politely bowed in greeting before she moved to stare instinctively at Touya's shoulder bag, obviously sensing Kero's presence, or so Touya suspected.  Then she gave Yukito a measuring look, seeming to grasp that there was more to him than meets the eye.

"Greeting to your other self as well" Yelan said firmly before turning to Touya.  "I sense great power in you as well.  You possess the Clow Cards."

"Yeah I do" Touya said coolly, standing a bit straighter.

Yelan nodded approvingly.

"You may spend the night here" she said firmly.  "I understand that my son also has a debt to repay."  Then she turned to her son who stood nervously by the couch.  "Syaoran show me your report card."

Syaoran sighed, took it out of his pocket, and handed it to her.


 

Touya was awakened that night to the sound of someone crying by the windowsill.  He got up to find that it was Yue sitting there with the curtains open, looking up at the full moon.  The angelic looking guardian turned to star at him and Touya thought he had never seen a more sorrowful image.

"Yue?  Did you remember something else?"

Yue shook his head.

"I'm sorry I woke you" the guardian answered.  "That was not my intention."

Touya sighed and approached Yue, sitting beside him on the windowsill, that was really an overly large window seat.

"Tell me what's wrong.  I can't help you otherwise." The Cardmaster said.

"I remembered something about why Clow Reed sealed Su Yung away." Yue answered in a low tone that was more like a whisper.  "She was a fortune teller on the streets of Hong Kong.  Clow Reed questioned the veracity of her readings and the two had series of disagreements.  Then the unexpected happened, the two were also greatly attracted to one another.  Clow Reed was still human above all else, so he too felt the sting of love at certain times in his life."

"Kero mentioned that she and Clow Reed were involved while you and he were still young" Touya said.  "Did your feelings for Clow cause you to dislike Su Yung?"

Yue shook his head.

"My feelings for Clow came later.  I was still far too young to feel that way about him at the time" Yue explained.  "Clow decided to teach Su Yung magic as he had deemed her worthy of it and discovered that her fortune telling involved using small water magics, which did allow her to perform accurate fortune telling.  The two of them soon became engaged, however Su Yung's new found power caused her to become greedy.  She wanted to use her magic to rule the world with Clow at her side."

"You're kidding?" Touya commented, greatly surprised at the revelation.  "He must have been devastated."

"He was, naturally" Yue said with a nod.  "Then he fought with Su Yung and sealed her away in an old well.  She was a mortal woman, so she should have died by now unless the magic seal somehow kept her alive."

"Or we're looking for a two hundred year old ghost" Touya surmised.  "He might not have realized that in sealing her there, he'd sealed her soul as well."

"Magic works in strange ways" Yue agreed.  "That might be why she's still around even now."

"Were you friends with Su Yung then? Is that why you're up?"

"No" Yue said remorsefully.  "I remembered that Clow had sealed me away as well.  The dimensional witch said that he didn't die right after he sealed us, despite what he'd led us to believe.  Thinking back, it felt like he'd thrown me away as well.  Even if he did have good reason for keeping Su Yung imprisoned as she would have caused others great harm with her plans."

"Absolute power corrupts" Touya remarked lightly.  "I wonder if she felt like magic made her invincible for the first time in her life.  A woman living over two hundred years ago didn't have many rights and she might have felt that it gave her the power to strike back, finally, after years of having to live the way others demanded."

"It's possible that she felt that way, but that didn't excuse the fact that she wanted to make the lives of others, even other women, more difficult" Yue replied.

"That's true" Touya agreed.  "Even so, education was limited in those days.  She might not have understood how to deal with her new powers in a more practical way.  Years of living like a second class citizen may also have caused her to go over the edge."

"I hadn't thought of it that way" Yue said thoughtfully.  "As a child I couldn't understand why she'd suddenly changed.  I thought it was simply greed and that she'd tricked Clow into thinking she was a kind and loving person.  Maybe he should have explained a bit more about the balance of magical society.  Although, Clow himself may have been blinded by his own perspective.  Men were allowed to do anything they wished in those days if they had the money and intelligence to back it up."

"Probably.  Maybe the two of them really didn't understand each other as well as they thought.  Either way, we have to free her soul from that well before she tries to get some unsuspecting magician to let her out."

"I found Sakura suddenly winning that prize to be suspicious, after you'd already planned to be here" Yue commented lightly.  "It's possible that she or someone else has summoned you here as well."

"Or it could be that Sakura's own powers are going a little haywire now that she's discovered them " Touya added.  "Su Yung's power might not have that kind of range.  It's a long way to Japan from Hong Kong and if she's only inside a pocket dimension within the well, it doesn't seem likely that she'd be able to influence anything or anyone outside of Hong Kong."

"I'm unsure of her the true limit of her magical power.  She might have been able to sense magical power that was similar to Clow Reeds, meaning yours and Sakura's.  If she were able to detect it from farther away, then she may have done everything within her power to call the source of it to her."

"Then I guess we're back to square one" Touya said with a sigh.  "Clow didn't throw you away, Yue.  I may not be one of his biggest fans right now, but I'm sure that he cared about you.  Otherwise, he wouldn't have had his successor go through the trouble of tracking down the cards or setting things up so that you had the final decision on whether or not you wanted that person to be your master.  Even if it ended up being me instead of Sakura, it did seem like he was looking out for you, Kero, and the others as best he could.  You're nothing like Su Yung.  Clow Reed planned for you to be unsealed when the time came, while he never released her from the well.  Maybe something happened before he could get her out of there or maybe he thought it was too dangerous to ever release her."

"What you say is true, Touya" Yue reluctantly agreed.  "I just want to understand why he sealed us and then leave this world for another.  We would have gone with him.  I would never have left him to deal with something dire alone."

"Maybe he knew he was going to die there" Touya said quietly.  "It stands to reason that he wouldn't want to trap you in an unfamiliar world without the possibility of someone to care for you after he was gone."

"What worries me is that I'm not sure whatever happened in that other world is finished.  Yuko would never say anything about it unless directly asked and given appropriate compensation."

"We'll deal with that when and if it happens" Touya said, kissing Yue lightly on the forehead.  "Come to bed."

Yue looked at him with wide eyed surprise.  Touya sent him a meaningful look and Yue obliged.  The two of them got into bed and slowly fell asleep again, curled in each other's arms.


 

Ruby Moon restlessly paced about the basement of Eriol's mansion.  She kept running her own actions over in her mind and became more and more frustrated as the minutes passed.  Her attempts to steal both Touya's and Syaoran's magic had failed as had her campaign to win Touya away from Yukito.  Spinel seemed to be constantly laughing at her now, despite a certain brotherly affection he had for her.  Finally her dark mood had reached its peak and she sent a ball of magic at the old floorboards in front of her.  It wouldn't actually damage the wood, but it sent a powerful reverberation through the ground nonetheless.

Feeling vindicated Ruby Moon began to tramp upstairs when she noticed a light coming from ground underneath the floorboards.  Then it ceased and the transparent form of a girl with long pasty hair and grey feathered wings appeared in its place.

"Why!  Why did you take them?!" the girl shouted at her mournfully before shifting through the basement wall and out into the night.

"What the hell was that?" Ruby Moon asked coming out of her shock.  Then she rushed upstairs to tell her master what she had seen.  The girl hadn't resembled any Clow Card, Eriol had ever described.  If this was one of Clow Reed's unfinished experiments then they were in big trouble.

Chapter Text

The next day Sakura and Tomoyo went out sightseeing with Syaoran and Meiling.  Meiling seemed to have a penchant for shopping and insisted on taking them, particularly Tomoyo, to all of the finest clothing stores.  Touya and Yukito stayed within the vicinity of where they were, scouring book shops in an attempt to find information regarding the old well.  Syaoran had promised to show them the location of the well later that afternoon, so they needed to be prepared in case something unprecedented occurred.   Although Touya insisted that they check in on Sakura every half hour, citing that he didn't want Syaoran to have any time alone with his sister.  That and he was responsible for the wellbeing of both Tomoyo and Sakura, even if they were less likely to get lost with two competent guides showing them around.

"Aw, come on Syaoran, it isn't that bad" Meiling said as she insisted he try on a fine brocade shirt of fine red silk.  "You can wear this back in Japan to impress your classmates."

"It would certainly be different" Sakura agreed.  "Though we do have to wear our uniforms while we're in school."

"That's right" Meiling said firm serious expression.  "Ms. Daidouji, I have something I'd like you to try on."

"Of course, it would be my pleasure.  As long as Sakura tries on something as well.  I want to film her in it."

The Li cousins looked at her strangely as Sakura smiled awkwardly at her.

"Tomoyo likes to make me clothes sometimes, it's one of her hobbies" Sakura explained.

"Oh so you're an amateur clothing designer, Ms. Daidouji?" Meiling said with renewed respect.  "I'd like to see something you've made if it's no trouble."

"None at all and it's Tomoyo.  There's no need to be so formal with me" Tomoyo said beaming.  "I brought along an outfit for Sakura, but it's back the hotel.  I'm hoping to market my own line of clothing some day."

"Why are we only talking about clothing and girly things?" Syaoran muttered to himself.

"You don't have to be here Syaoran" Meiling said giving him a look.

"Actually he does" Tomoyo put in.

"He's returning a favor that was asked of him by someone in Japan" Sakura explained.  "The dimensional witch gave him a protection spell and told him to be our guide in Hong Kong while Nii-san looked for somone."

"Who is she? Maybe I can help you find her" Meiling asked curiously.

"She's a spirit sealed away in an old well" Syaoran told his cousin.  "Sakura's brother has to set her free and get her to move on."

At last they came to a small bookshop tucked in a small alleyway.  The shop itself was empty of any proprietor, but they ventured in anyway.

"The owner must have stepped out Touya" Yukito remarked.

"We might as well have a look around anyway" the Cardmaster answered.  "It's probably going to be our last stop for the day."

Yukito nodded and they began to look through the book collection.  Then something caught Touya's eye, a book with no title.  It was sitting there on a small table, sealed shut by a store label written in Chinese.  The picture on the cover showed an intricate drawing with a woman seated on the edge of a great well, her face turned away as she stared at some unknown point in the distance.  Touya felt himself be drawn in by the realism of the drawing.  Then a mist began to flow slowly in front of the drawing causing his thoughts to feel muddied and his breathing to slow.

Then the woman turned to look at him.  Kero shifted inside Touya's shoulder bag and stuck his head out just in time to see picture shift.

Touya reached for the book as he heard a voice call to him.

"Eh?!" Kero said reacting quickly.  He tried grabbing Touya' hand, but to no avail.

"Come inside" a woman's voice said from within Touya's mind.  It was almost hypnotic.

Kero flew away as Touya lifted the book and went to find Yukito.

There were muffled sounds that the Cardmaster's fuzzy consciousness couldn't make out, but he paid them no mind.

Touya's hand shifted toward the seal as the woman once again beckoned him to enter it.

"To-ya!" Yukito shouted pulling Touya's hand away from the book, though it took most of his strength to do so.  His boyfriend was fairly athletic, which resulted in his having a great deal of physical strength.

Hearing his name Touya snapped out of his trance and dropped the book.  He blinked rapidly to clear his eyes and lifted his head to stare at a worried Yukito.

"You weren't responding to anything I said" Yukito explained.  "I think that book might be magical.  Yue agrees."

Touya nodded and quickly backed away from it.

"I think I saw her" he said warily.  "She tried to get me to open the book.  I think it might be one of the ways to release her seal."

"If she's able to effect things like this outside of the well, then we'd better be careful about how we handle this" Yukito replied.  "She even caught you Touya."

"I know.  Usually I get a feeling about something like this and it warns me off, but this time it was different.  You saved me, Yuki" Touya said with a grateful smile.  "I don't know what might have happened if you hadn't been here."

Yukito beamed at him and began to blush slightly.  Then he gave Touya a quick kiss on the lips.

"I'm just glad you're alright" he said.  "Don't scare me like that again."

"I'll try" Touya said teasingly as he caressed Yukito's cheek. "No promises though.  We still have to confront Clow Reed and Kaho."

"Yuck.  Do you two have to be this mushy all the time?" Kero said as he flew back into Touya's shoulder bag.

"hmph.  No one asked you plushie" Touya said raising an eyebrow at him.  "But I do owe you one for helping me out back there.  So thanks."

"Yeah, that's right.  You owe me cake later" Kero said before curling up and going to sleep.

"We'll see about that.  If we make it out of this alive."

"Please try to be careful" Yukito insisted.  "I don't want you getting trapped in there with her."

"She was sitting on a well in the picture on the book, which means Clow probably sealed her in that place specifically" Touya commented.  "If the brat's right about where it's located, we should be able to release the seal when we're ready and send her soul to the afterlife."

"It's a good plan" Yukito agreed "but doesn't that mean there's a spell on the well itself?"

"I'm counting on Yue being familiar enough with Clow Reed's magic in order to break the spell completely.  I'll have to control the encounter using the cards.  I have a feeling Su Yung is going to be incredibly angry about being left in that other dimension for over two hundred years, which means she'll definitely lash out at whoever happens to be there."

"She must have been lonely there" Yukito said.  "I wonder if she ended up regretting that she hurt someone she loved."

"You're too nice Yuki.  Much as I'd love to be able to just send her off to the afterlife, we can't take the any chances.  If I we don't use any magic on her, she might go off and try to get revenge upon the Li clan and possibly the Clow Cards for what their master did to her." Touya said gravely.

"I know, To-ya" Yukito said sadly.  "It's just that two hundred years is such a long time.  Her loneliness would have been almost unbearable by then.  It's a wonder she didn't simply go mad."

"Maybe she did and that's why Clow never released her" Touya answered thoughtfully.

"He should have just sealed her powers" Yukito commented.  "I'm sure he could have found a way to make it less dangerous for her to live in Hong Kong."

"I think by then he was hurting too.  Maybe he ran out of options and just sealed her away.  She might have threatened Yue and Kero.  They were still young at the time, he could have sealed her away to protect them.  Or she could have stolen the Clow Cards and tried to seal them away."

Yukito shook his head.

"I'm not sure and Yue can't seem to remember if anything like that occurred" he said.  "We're going to have to assume that it all happened just as he and Kero described it."

"It looks that way." Touya agreed.  "I guess we should go get that brat so he can show us where the well is.  Hey plushie, we're going!"

Kero was abruptly shaken awake as Touya shifted the bag on his shoulder.

"I'm up!  I'm up!  Sheesh." The yellow cat guardian insisted.

"We're going to let the cat out of the well, do you think you can look after the kids while we're there?" Touya asked.

Kero sighed.

"I might as well, since I still can't change into my true form.  It's so frustrating!" The cat guardian complained.  "It's no fair that Yue can while I'm still stuck like this."

"How many Clow Cards are we missing?" Yukito asked speculatively.  "One of them might be able to break the seal on you."

"I've thought about that and it could be that Clow set it up that way. It's still majorly unfair though" Kero said, his face contorting into a pout.

"Maybe he thought Sakura would find that card without too much trouble" Yukito commented.  "We might have missed something, Touya."

"Well anyway, we need you on babysitting duty.  Do you think you can handle that?" The Cardmaster said looking down at the guardian still perched in his shoulder bag.

"When I get my true form, you'll have to treat Yue and I the same" Kero grumbled.  "Then I'll be just as good as he is."

"We've been over this.  I know you think Clow treated the two of you differently, but that might have had something to do with his romantic involvement with Yue.  I don't think he was trying to insult your ability to do your job." Touya said exasperatedly.  "That being said we're friends and nothing more, understand?"

"Well obviously.  Why would I ever be into someone like you when there are so many cute girls around?" Kero remarked cheekily.  "Li's cousin is way better looking than you, that's for sure."

Yukito giggled at him, earning him a mock glare from Touya.

"Shouldn't you be looking for another cat to play with or something?" the Cardmaster said shaking his head.

"That's the hard part about being one of a kind" Kero retorted.  "I'm too different for anyone's tastes."


 

Back in Japan Spinel sneezed lightly and looked around.

"Suppy is there something wrong?" Ruby Moon asked.

They were sipping their afternoon tea in Eriol's little garden.

"I'm not sure, I just felt something unusual come over me" Spinel explained.  "It's gone now.  Maybe it was that card you let loose earlier."

"That wasn't my fault.  I didn't know Clow had buried an unfinished Clow card underneath the house" Ruby Moon said defensively.  "Eriol said it was okay, after all."

"He's simply glad that it didn't surface after we left Tomoeda" Spinel countered.  "That would have made trouble for everyone, including Kaho's family."

"Places are already starting disappear" Ruby Moon replied.  "Eriol's doing his best to keep it at bay, so at least I helped in that way."

"He's been able to control its effects for now and that mailbox down town did reappear" Spinel agreed.  "I suppose your mishap did bring up some more unfinished business of Clow's and we do have the research notes to combat it.  That doesn't mean you're off the hook though.  The card requires the wielder to pay a price in order to tame it."

"What's that?" Ruby Moon asked interestedly.  "What does Touya have to give up?"

"Well there is a clause that says the most powerful magician within twenty feet of it has to be the one to give something up" Spinel informed her.  "However, it's assumed that that person will be the one to tame it."

"Just tell me already!" Ruby Moon cried impatiently.

"Fine" Spinel said with a sigh.  "That person has to give up the most important feeling to them.  The emotion will be completely gone and the card will take it for themselves."

"Wait, does that mean he'll have to give up his feelings for Yukito?" Ruby Moon asked eagerly.

"Eriol thinks that the card will use this emotion in order to copy it and claim an affinity, because Clow didn't give it one before he locked it away.  That doesn't mean the feeling is gone for good and I highly doubt Touya will suddenly give up on caring about Kero or Yue, even if his romantic feelings disappear."

"hmph!  That's not fair!" Ruby Moon said, frustrated.

"Just leave it be, Ruby Moon.  Haven't you learned your lesson by now?" Spinel said lightly.  "You can't always get what you want, so why make enemies.  Touya and that Li kid already have it in for you."

"They can't stay mad at me forever" Ruby Moon reasoned.

"I'm sure they'll give it a try" Spinel said, sipping his tea.

"Suppy you need to stop being such a grump all the time" Ruby Moon commented.  "You should get out more."

"And you need to be more practical about what you're doing and to whom" The black cat guardian retorted.


 

"Clow Reeeeeeeeed!"

Kero was quick to usher Sakura and Tomoyo out into an alleyway as the form of a woman they assumed to be Su Yung appeared from the well.  Her power erupted in storm of fury the moment Touya and Yue released the seal, nearly disintegrating the well.  Yelan Li had also appeared to aid them with a magical artifact that cut through the barrier around the well, allowing the seal to weakened more easily.

Syaoran was standing near his mother with a few fire seals at the ready, carefully guarding her back.  Meanwhile his cousin Meiling was right beside Kero guarding the girls in the alley.

Touya spared his sister a glance, then turned back to his opponent, satisfied that she and the others were safe for now.  He knew that Sakura had been studying magic with Yue and Kero's help, however she wasn't ready to face a threat of this magnitude just yet.  She'd only just gotten out of the hospital six weeks before and so she still hadn't completely recovered her physical strength.  That would be problem if she needed to move in order to dodge Su Yung's attacks.  She was better off on the sidelines for now with Kero, while Yue watched his back.

Su Yung stared down at Touya with a glare that held an infinite amount of hatred.

"Clow Reed!  You left me here, but now that you have set me free at last I shall-" Then Su Yung stopped speaking and looked around.  She'd first mistaken Touya's stern face for Clow Reed's in her haze and his magic felt similar to that of blue haired wizard, however she could sense that something was different.

"Clow Reed is dead" Yue said coolly as flapped his wings and glided up to where Su Yung stood in mid air above the tattered well.  "And so are you, Su Yung.  Do you remember me?"

"Yue, the moon guardian" Su Yung said and her voice seemed to echo across the stone walls of the old courtyard.  "You were but a child when I first beheld you.  Now you have grown.  Tell me truly...WHERE IS CLOW REED?"

"I have spoken truthfully" Yue said favoring her with a glare.  "He died almost two hundred years ago and sealed the cards away.  Now we have a new master."

Touya summoned the Fly card and used it to transform his staff.  Then he sat down on it and directed Fly to bring him up next to Yue.

"Who?" she asked.

"Me." Touya answered as he flew up beside Yue.

"You lie!  This cannot be true.  I cannot be here and yet dead!" Su Yung insisted vehemently.

Touya summoned the Libra Card, something he'd sworn never to use unless strictly necessary.  He activated it's power on himself and turned to face Su Yung.

The sorceress had seen the card and was noticeably surprised at this.

"Clow Reed is dead" Touya said.  "Yue is telling the truth, something I can't help doing right now.  Clow sealed the cards away before his death and they were only recently unsealed by me."

Su Yung put her face in her hands, obviously crushed by this news.  Tears flowed from her eyes and fell onto the ground below.

 "This...this cannot be.  I was so angry with him...I wanted my revenge on him for sealing me away." Su Yung said sorrowfully.  The pain she felt was evident in her voice.  "Now he is gone.  Am I truly dead, young man?"

"You are" Touya replied.  "I can sense it.  I've been able to see the dead since I was a child.  It's been over two hundred years since Clow Reed sealed you in this well.  No one could have lived that long without magical aid."

"And I have none" the sorceress admitted.  "My spirit birds were my only company in that place.  I trust your words and the magic of the Clow Card that has proven them so."

Then Su Yung began to fade away, her ghostly form crumbling as she began to move on to the afterlife.  Her soul was finally free.

"I...am...sorry that I mistook you for Clow Reed.  I never meant to harm you children, I just missed him...so..." Su Yung said before completely disappearing from their sight.

"I guess Yuki was right" Touya said deactivating the Libra Card and putting it back in his pocket with the others.  "She seemed more heartbroken than anything."

"She was foolish" Yue replied "but so was Clow.  In the end she still loved him.  Maybe I too should forgive him."

"Are you sure?" Touya asked.  "We still need to find out what his reincarnation is up to back in Tomoeda?"

"This is true" Yue acknowledged.  "I don't know if this person is really Clow or a true reincarnation.  I want to see him before I judge the circumstance of his return."

"We'll get it after we find the rest of the cards and restore your brother's true form" Touya said, flying his staff back down to the courtyard.

Yue glanced at the destroyed well below and then followed suit.  He felt a little bit of sympathy for Soo Yong for having been sealed away by herself down there.  At least his own sealing was within the book of Clow and even then he had been released according to a predetermined timeline.  He hope that Su Yung found peace in the afterlife away from anything that reminded her of Clow and her betrayal of him.  Yue knew his own past with Clow had yet to be reconciled and he felt it's presence looming over him daily.  He would have to speak to Touya about the similarity between the aura of Clow's reincarnation and that of Fujitaka Kinomoto, which had become more evident after their latest encounter with Ruby Moon.  Su Yung's assumption about Touya's identity due to Clow Reed's magic had reminded helped him finally put the pieces together about his own uncertain comparison.  They would have to test this theory when they returned to Tomoeda.  Clow might be using Fujitaka to unknowingly spy on his own children.  Either way, it didn't bode well unless there was a reasonable explanation behind it.

"I wish she could open her eyes just one more time" Clow said sadly staring at Yuko where she lay, silent as the dead, on her tatami mat.

"Clow...is that you?" Yuko answered as her eyes flew open. "What..what's happening to me?  Why do I feel so strange?"

Clow looked on in horror as he felt his magic surround Yuko.

Yue just stood there paralyzed with fear.  He had never seen Clow so anxious before and couldn't understand what was happening to the witch.  Keroberos looked deeply concerned for their master as well.  There was a void surrounding Yuko, keeping her exactly the same, despite the life being all but drained from her pale cheeks.

"Her time...it stopped" Kero said peering at Yuko before looking up at Clow for some type of acknowledgment.

"You are correct Keroberos" Clow said gravely.  "I have done that which I should not and I fear she will suffer because of it."

Yue shook his head snapping himself out of the daze triggered by the repressed memory that had resurfaced in his mind.  He now knew why Clow had altered both his and Kero's memories before sealing them and departing for another world.  Clow himself had broken one of the fundamental rules and could not reverse it.  His disdain for what he'd done had driven him to seal away the Clow Cards and their guardians, before going away to die.  Despite Clow's twisted personality, Yue knew that what he'd done to Yuko, however accidental, would have haunted him.  So instead the wizard had gone away, possibly in an attempt to fix his mistake, and died once his own age caught up with him.  Yuko's continued presence at the shop in Tokyo spoke volumes about the permanency of Clow's mistake.  The Dimensional Witch had truly been severed from time and space, unable to die herself and reunite with those she had once held dear, including Clow Reed.

"Hey Yue!  You coming or what?" Kero shouted from below.

Yue turned to see that everyone was staring up at him, tipping his wings, he slowly glided back down to the ground.  He would have to discuss everything with his brother and Touya another time.  The guardian spread his wings and curled them around his form before transforming back into Yukito.

"How did it go?" Yukito asked.

"She's gone" Touya replied.  "Yue and I were able to convince her of that she was dead and Clow Reed was long gone.  She was finally able to move on.  You were right Yuki, I think she did regret it in the end."

"Yeah after destroying the well and screaming for vengeance" Kero put in sarcastically.  "I still say she was trouble.  So...when's dinner?"

Sakura and Tomoyo giggled in response.  Kero never stopped thinking about food and he was always hungry following a confrontation of kind, even if he hadn't actually done any of the fighting.

"How does a bowl of noodles sound, plushie?" Touya asked with slight smirk.

"They'll do for now" Kero answered.  "Don't forget you still owe me cake."

Chapter Text

"Are you sure?" Touya asked seriously.  "You had more memories of Clow hidden away?  I know it's happened before, but I can't believe someone like him just gave up completely."

"It was because of the witch" Yue insisted.  "He felt he'd wronged her by accidentally trapping her between life and death."

"It makes sense" Kero put in.  "I don't remember it, but I'm sure I will sooner or later, now that you've said something.  Clow had a twisted personality sometimes and he made enemies.  Yuko was one of the only true friends he had.  That situation might explain why he left this world."

"What do you mean?" Touya asked curiously.

"Doing what he did might have messed with the balance in some alternate universe and when he found out, he probably felt responsible" Kero explained.  "So he went to either mend it or fill the gap that was left behind."

"Keroberos is correct" Yue replied.  "That is something Clow would have done.  I doubt he had very much control over his emotions at that point.  It might explain why he sealed us away so quickly afterwards and arranged for Sakura to find us.  He could have given his own life to restore the balance or died in the attempt to mend a plausible dimensional rift."

"Then the person who currently lives in the manor in Tomoeda is definitely only a reincarnation of his past self" Touya surmised.

"Undoubtedly" Yue answered.  "We're dealing with someone new."


 

"I hope you have a safe trip Sakura" Syaoran said as they said goodbye at the airport.  "This is for you."

Then he handed her a small pink flower barrette similar to the one she'd been staring at in the market place.

"No, I couldn't."

"I saw you looking at it.  Think of it as a souvenir and don't worry about it" Syaoran insisted.

"Hey Sakura, hurry up!" Touya yelled as he and Yukito grabbed their bags and headed go into line to board the plane.  Tomoyo followed close behind with her small carryon.

"Go on.  I'll see you at school." Syaoran said blushing slightly.

"O-okay" Sakura said as she felt her face heat up as well.  "I'll see you later."  Then she noticed Syaoran's cousin standing off to the side, knowing she must have returned from saying farewell to Tomoyo, and waved to her.  "Goodbye Meiling.  I hope to see you again some time!"

"You too Sakura. It's been fun!" came her answer as Meiling proceeded to drag Syaoran toward the exit.

Sakura watched them go before hurrying to catch up with her brother, Yukito, and Tomoyo.


 

 

The return trip to Japan was uneventful and when the school break was over Touya resumed working his part time jobs.  Sakura also began attending extra tutoring sessions in order to prepare her for middle school.  She had managed to finish her makeup work before the start of the winter break, however Fujitaka feared her exam scores would suffer if she was not brought up to speed.

"Hoeeeeee!" Sakura said as she hurried out of bed, put on her school uniform, and rushed downstairs.

"You're on time for once monster" Touya said as he flipped the eggs he was cooking on the stove.  "Don't tell me you're up early because of the festival."

"Yeah, I want to be ready for tonight" Sakura said excitedly.  "I've got my yukata ready and everything."

"I'm sure you'll be as scary as always monster" Touya said smirking.

"Grrr" Sakura said balling up one of her fists.  Then she smiled thoughtfully.  "I'm sure you can't wait to see how Yukito looks in his festival clothes."

"hep...wha?" Touya said in a startled voice as a light blush dusted his face.  "That's none of your business."

"Have you found anymore Clow Cards yet?" Sakura asked after she'd stopped laughing.

"Not yet, but they're close.  I can feel some of them." Touya answered pouring the eggs onto two plate, before setting them on the table and taking a seat near Sakura. "The plushie keeps complaining about being stuck in his current form.  So he's been searching for them while we're at school.  Yukito thinks there's one by the pond."

"We could go there during the festival and check it out" Sakura suggested.

"We'll see.  I'd rather not use Sleep or Erase if I don't have to."

"Then we'll just be extra careful." Sakura insisted as she took a bite of her eggs.


 

"Nii-san I want to play that one!" Sakura said pointing emphatically toward the booth containing a shooting game.

Syaoran was eyeing it as well.

Touya rolled his eyes and handed his sister some yen.

"They seem to be having fun" Yukito said brightly.

"That's what annoys me" Touya retorted.  "That brat's getting too close to her."

"Touya, you told me a few months ago that you knew he and Sakura were going to become friends" Yukito said with a sigh. "She seems happy right now.  Do you really want to make her sad by pushing him away?"

"Fine, but that doesn't mean I have to like it the brat" Touya grumbled.  "He still needs to learn when to mind his own business."

"Why don't we take a walk around the pond, Touya" Yukito suggested smiling mischievously.  "Spend some time alone while the kids are having fun."

"That's not a bad idea" the Cardmaster replied, grinning.

They stayed there for a while on the quieter side of the pond, enjoying each other's company, and watched as the fireflies spark mixed with the glow of the festival lanterns.


 

"Finally!" Kero said as he transformed into a giant cat-like creature with wings the size of Yue's.  "My seal's broken!"

"Apparently it was the Earthy Card" Yukito commented.  "He certainly seems happy."

"He would" Touya muttered as he added the Earthy card to the deck.  "At least he'll stop complaining now."

"Wow, I never expected him to be so big" Sakura exclaimed.

"So, do I look fearsome or what?" Kero asked.

"Not even close" Touya told the guardian as he shook his head.  "You look like an oversized cat with wings."

"You just can't appreciate how awesome I look" Kero retorted.

"Let's not fight" Yukito said coming to stand between them.  "We just defeated another card after all."

"There's only four more to go, we'll have to confront Clow after that" Touya said looking down the card in his hand.  "I hope a Clow Card isn't the reason for those strange happenings around town."

"I've heard about that.  Things keep disappearing." Yukito put in.  "Do you think Clow's reincarnation knows about it?  Yue seems to think it isn't an ability that any of the Clow Cards have."

"I don't know of any that can make whole buildings disappear either" Kero commented. 

"Maybe we could ask the witch about it?" Sakura suggested.

"No!" Touya and Yukito said in unison.

"Ah-okay." Sakura said, clearly surprised by their reaction.  "She seemed nice when she came to our house that time."

"Well she isn't" Touya said.  "We can't afford to give up anything if we're going to track down the last of the Clow Cards and confront Clow Reed's reincarnation.  Don't forget that Kaho and Ruby Moon are with him."

"It will be safer, Sakura" Yukito explained.  "We don't want her asking for something that it might hurt someone to be without."

"Like that picture of Mom we keep on that table in the front hall" Touya put in.  "I don't like the idea of her having anything that important.  We'll stick to what we know and try to work it out for ourselves."

"I'll ask Ioryogi if he's noticed anything" Kero said.  "I'm supposed to hang out with him next week to play a new video game."

"You two seem to get along well" Yukito put in.  "I was surprised to hear that there were other magical beings in Tomoeda."

"Clow Reed wasn't the only sorcerer out there" Kero told him.  "Only the strongest.  Ioryogi is the sealed in that form for a different reason though.  He won't tell me why, but I think it has something to do with Kobato.  He always seems really worried about her."

"I can sense another person inside of her" Touya said quietly.  "It's like another soul is sharing her body."

"Is it similar to the situation with Yue and I?" Yukito asked curiously.

The Cardmaster shook his head.

"No.  Kobato and this other soul are two different people entirely, while you and Yue are two halves of the same soul" Touya explained.

Then a loud swishing noise rang out and everyone turned to listen just in time to see a stone wall a few yards away disappear right before their eyes.

"This is getting creepy" Tomoyo said folding her arms against her chest. 

"I completely agree" Touya said twirling his staff between his fingers.  "There has to be-"

"Touya look!" Yukito exclaimed pointing to Touya's left pocket.

Three Clow Cards swiftly rushed out it and sped off in a southerly direction.

"What does this mean?" Sakura asked nervously.

"It means we have another thing to worry about" Kero said.  "I sensed a tremendous amount of negative magical energy just now."

"Yue seems to think it has something to do with the cards themselves" Yukito added.  "I think we should ask whoever is living in that manor if they know anything about it.  We won't be able to find the missing cards otherwise."

"I guess we'll have to" Touya agreed reluctantly.  "We just need to find the other cards first.  I have a feeling we'll be needing them later."

"This person who lives in the manor you mentioned, does he have blue hair and glasses?" Sakura asked.  "There's this boy at school who was asking about you today Nii-san."

"I mentioned Eriol before" Tomoyo said.  "It was him that asked us to pass on a message."

"So he is the one" Touya said.  It wasn't a question.

"We're pretty sure" Tomoyo confirmed.

"Eriol said he wanted to meet with you and gave us this phone number" Sakura said taking a small slip of paper out of her bag.  "I forgot all about it when the Clow Card appeared."

"I'll call him later just to see what this about" Touya said picking his backpack up off the ground and hefting it onto his back.  "Just be careful around him."

"We will Nii-san" Sakura replied.

After that they all went back to the Kinomoto's house, hoping that it wouldn't disappear too.  Yukito ended up spending the night on Touya's insistence rather than going back to any empty house.

"I don't want you to disappear in the night if your house goes missing" Touya explained.  "I care too much about you to ever let that happen."

Yukito smiled up at him before kissing him on the cheek and going to sleep.  Touya followed suit after finding a comfortable position and wrapping his arms around Yukito, who shifted his head onto his companion's shoulder.

"Thank you To-ya.  I don't want you to disappear either." The grey haired teen whispered softly into the other's ear.

Touya blushed slightly before closing his eyes and drifting off to the sound of Yukito's shallow breathing against his neck.


 

"Can I go to the bazaar too Sakura?" Kero asked as he watched her get ready for school.

"As long as Nii-san says it's okay" Sakura told him.  "He'll get mad if he finds out I took you somewhere without asking."

Kero flew down to the kitchen at breakneck speed.

"Touya!  Can I got to Sakura's school fair? Can I? Can I? Please?!" the cat guardian said excitedly bouncing around the kitchen.

"Dammit, keep your voice down.  Dad's in the other room." Touya said as he dodged Kero's attempts to get in his face.

"He looks so much like a stuffed toy, I doubt it would be too much of a problem" Fujitaka said from the doorway.

"Dad!" Touya said almost dropping the pan in surprise. "You...you know about him?"

Fujitaka smiled enigmatically.

"I always know what you children are up to" he said.  "It should be easy for him to hide in Sakura's back pack and pretend to be one of Sakura's toys.  Provided you don't get yourself stolen, Kero."

"When did you find out?"

"The first week" Fujitaka said idly.  "He was looking for food in the fridge, so I offered him something to eat."

Not for the first time in his life, Touya put a hand to his head in a gesture of utter disbelief.

"Why the hell didn't you say anything?" the Cardmaster asked finally.

"Because you seemed so set on keeping it a secret and I knew you still had other things to worry about" Fujitaka explained.  "Sonomi knows as well.  She came over to deliver something for Sakura once and spotted him raiding the fridge."

"What?!  She...how did she take it?" Touya asked looking over at Kero who was flying just below his ear, staring back and forth between father and son.

"It took a bit of explaining, but she did eventually understand.  I think that's why she allowed you kids to sneak out on your little daytrip without sending Tomoyo's bodyguards after her."

"That woman has a good poker face" Touya said with chagrin.  "You knew the whole time."

"She's the CEO of a company, she has to" Fujitaka answered with a small smile.  "And yes, I understand more than you might think about these types of things.  The woman at the orphanage claimed that just appeared in front of her one day.  She claimed it was magic or the oni, but no one believed her except me.  For some reason I always knew that I didn't quite belong anywhere."

"Dad are you saying that you...?"

"When I met your mother that changed and I've always felt I belonged here with you kids" Fujitaka said with a sigh.  "Sonomi seems to understand as well.  I was surprised, but apparently she's had encounters of her own over the years.  She says she can see Nakeshiko sometimes, just like you can."

"So it really does run in the family" Touya said feeling a bit calmer.  "Do you know about Yuki too?"

"I've caught small bits of conversation" Fujitaka admitted "and I noticed him fly in your window that one time."

"That's Yue.  He needed to tell me about one of the Clow Cards" Touya explained.  "It was an emergency."

"And is that the reason objects and buildings keep disappearing around Tomoeda?" Fujitaka inquired.

"We're not sure.  Kero and Yue seem to think it's something else.  They claim none of the Clow Cards has the ability to do that type of thing."

Fujitaka nodded.

"I'd like to hear the full story at some point" he said.

"We'll talk after everything's over" Touya agreed.

Fujitaka smiled at his son before turning to walk down the hall toward Sakura's room.

"Your Dad's a smart guy" Kero commented as he eyed Touya's breakfast.

Touya sighed and put one his eggs on a separate plate before handing it to cat guardian.

"I know" he replied.


 

"Something's up at Sakura's school, I can feel it" Touya told Yukito during their lunch period.  "I'm going to sneak over there and see what's going on."

"I'll go with you" Yukito said.  "You might need Yue's help if it's a Clow Card."

The two got their things and left school, glad that it was a relatively quiet day with no tests for them to worry about.

Touya entered the bazaar and managed to locate Sakura after asking around.  Her class, 6-2, was running a small cafe as well as a booth selling sweets in the school yard.  Sakura was currently working at the cafe.

"I gave him a basket of sweets and sent him out to the school's backyard" she explained when they asked about Kero.  "I haven't seen anything strange going on."

"Maybe we should check on Kero just in case" Yukito commented.

Sakura decided to come along as well and when they reached the yard, which was covered in small trees, it took them while to Sakura's basket.  It turned out to be empty and Kero wasn't anywhere to be found.

Touya narrowed his eyes as he felt a presence back in the main schoolyard.  The three of them walked back to the fair, amid complaints from people nearby about a candy shortage and were just in time to see a small black cat with blue wings being tailed by Kero, attempt to fly off with even more.  Yukito acted quickly and caught the black cat by the tail.

"His name is Suppy.  He ate some of my sweets and went crazy.  I thought he was a monster" Kero explained.  "I mean this is Japan.  You do have all sorts of legends about the Oni."

"Spinel wants more!" the black cat cried out.

"Well that answers that question" Sakura said with an awkward expression.

"So this is what ate half of the sweets Sakura's class set out for the fair" Touya said nodding as he watched Yukito hold an energetic Spinel by the tail.  "From the look of him I'd say it was a safe bet he that isn't an Oni."

"He looks just like you, Kero" Yukito commented.  "Even his wings are the same."

"That's suspicious" Sakura put in.  "Do you think he's belongs to Eriol?"

"I'd say it was very likely" Touya replied.  "I think I'll give him a call when we get home.  Keep a good hold on him, Yuki."

"Okay."

"I want MORE!" Spinel said, face still red and eerily cheerful.

"Exactly how much candy did you give him, Kero?" Yukito asked as Spinel attempted to free himself.

"Five or six chocolate bars and a few other things" Kero admitted.

"That probably wasn't the best idea" Sakura commented.  "I think the sugar effected him too much."


 

"Hello.  Is this Eriol Hiiragizawa?" Touya asked.

"Depends on whose asking" came a voice on the other line.

"Touya Kinomoto.  You wanted to meet with me."

"That is correct" the voice replied and Touya could hear the smug laughter in his tone.

"I believe I have something of yours" Touya commented lightly.

"And what might that be?" the voice inquired.

"Your black cat" the Cardmaster answered coolly as he looked over at Spinel, who was fast asleep on a cushion beneath an upturned laundry basket.

"I...see" the voice answered.  He evidently he hadn't expected this.

"You should keep better track of your minions" Touya chided him.

"I'll meet you at Penguin Park tonight at eight." Eriol replied.

"We'll be there.  And tell Akizuki, no funny business or I clip her wings."


 

Eriol hung up the phone and chucked.  Apparently Touya Kinomoto was more perceptive than he'd thought.

"Who was that?" Kaho asked stepping into the room.

"It was one of your students" Eriol said turning to her and smiling lightly.  "Apparently he has Spinel."

Kaho stared his with wide eyes.

"Is he alright?"

"Spinel?  Oh he's fine." Eriol replied with a light chuckle.  "It seems our straight-laced Spinel strayed away from Ruby Moon and went exploring.  Touya Kinomoto managed to find him, by accident I'd assume."

"I'll come with you" Kaho insisted.  "He might be a bit less prickly if I'm there."

"You're welcome to join me" the blue haired wizard said.  "Though I very much doubt Touya will take it any better.  He might see it as another betrayal."

"He's psychic after all, he might already be aware that here I'm with you" Kaho pointed out.

"True, but I'm unsure if he's gotten over your abrupt departure years ago.  He may still feel some resentment because of it." Eriol reminded her.  "I think it would also be best if we left Ruby Moon behind.  Her presence seems to annoy Yue and Touya both."

"She'll find us anyway" Kaho put in.

"I know, but I'd rather not start our meeting off on the wrong foot.  Touya's ability to convert the cards through his own magical ability has negated the need for me to play the villain in this situation.  We're also going to need their help to defeat the final card before it erases Tomoeda completely."

Chapter Text

"I have something I need to tell you before we go, Yuki" Touya said.

The two of them were sitting on his bed finishing their assorted homework.  Yukito lifted his head and waited patiently for the explanation to come.

"I've been having visions about technology that doesn't exist and people that aren't who my instincts tell me they are" Touya admitted, speaking slowly and deliberately.  "I can tell that what I'm seeing is..." He sighed. "On another plane of existence."

"From what we've seen of Clow's magic and what Yue's told me, I wouldn't be surprised" Yukito commented lightly. 

"Some of them involve Tomoyo owning a company, no surprise there, but the others have her becoming a priestess, and riding a giant bird.  Most of them though, seem to be focused on a specific chain of events."

Yukito eyed him carefully, a concerned expression plastered on his face.

"What did you see that has you so worried, Touya.  Is this something we need to be ready for?"

The Cardmaster's looked slightly apprehensive.

"No more than we already are.  The events don't actually involve you and I directly, at least not our world's version of us.  I've keep seeing another world.  It could be the one Clow Reed entered before he died.  There were alternate versions of you, me, Sakura, and the Li brat.  Then there the magical constructs, copies of that world's real Sakura and Syaoran.  That world's version of the brat had some type of connection with the Witch's successor, Kimohiro Watanuki."

Yukito eyed him carefully, a concerned expression plastered on his face.

"It's difficult to imagine there being more than one version of us, not to everyone else we've met.  I have to wonder if they're lives were just like ours or if we're the lucky ones." The gray haired teen commented lightly.  "Yue says he's heard Clow speak of other worlds before, but he never mentioned anything about alternate versions of people."

"Clow was secretive about a lot of things" Touya put in.  "We've been slowly discovering them over the past six months.  The guy was more paranoid than any of us by a half, and I can't say that I blame him."

"He had everything to lose" Yukito replied quietly.  "That might be why he gave up everything before he traveled to that other world, he was more afraid of things being taken from him."

"It's possible" the Cardmaster agreed.  "There was some type of invasion in that other world and it distracted everyone from the fact that Sakura had accidentally activated some magic runes.  The runes caused her soul to appear outside of her body in the form of two winged feathers.  The brat tried to help her, but instead the feathers just scattered themselves like leaves on the wind.  The other version of you used magically transported her and the brat to the Witch's shop in our world.  After they paid her price, she sent the two of them on this journey to find the feathers.  They were accompanied by two men, a sorcerer and some type of samurai or ninja, she summoned from two other dimensions.  Eventually, after they found most of the feathers, the copies were revealed and one of them tried to kill the sorcerer.  The brat, I think.  Then the brat from the alternate world showed up and things got a bit fuzzy."

"Are they still alive?" Yukito wondered.

"They are.  These events haven't even happened yet.  I have to pay the Witch a tiend so that the real version of Syaoran, apparently he's also from yet another world, can travel to that world to meet its version of Sakura.  I only caught a glimpse of him, but Clow Reed's somehow involved."

"Isn't he dead?"

"He is.  I get the feeling he stepped in at some point before or after the alternate versions of Sakura and the brat were switched with their copies.  I think Clow might have been trying to stop the one who caused the invasion, another sorcerer.  He had a monocle and a cloak with this symbol on it."

Touya sketched out the symbol on blank piece of paper of Yukito to see.  His friend eyed it speculatively.

"Yue says he remembers that symbol.  It was on the cover of one of Clow's books" Yukito stated.  "I should let him explain.

Yukito bowed his head as his body was enveloped by two wide feathered wings.

"That was unnecessary.  However my other half is correct in that I might be able to make things more clear" Yue assented straightening noticeably. "Clow kept a significant information stored in his library.  I know not where he got some of the tomes he amassed throughout a century's worth of study, but I do know that the book in question contained a long list of enchantments.  You would do well to be wary of this man if he had any part in the creation of those enchantments."

"Do you know if Clow Reed had any connection to the sorcerer or if he obtained that book during your time with him?" Touya queried.

"Clow did not come into possession of that book while I lived, of that I am certain" Yue confirmed "but I do suspect he had some connection with this man that may have been of an unpleasant nature.  Clow never touched the book himself and it mysteriously disappeared from his library only a day after I explored its contents.  I had previously suspected it was one of the Witch's acquisitions."

"So it all comes back to Witch's shop.  I suspect whoever holds that position after the Witch leaves, might be the key to undoing this mess Clow made when he upset the balance by saving her." Touya mused.  "I appreciate you help, Yue."

Yue inclined his head before disappearing in a whir of wings, allowing Yukito to come to the forefront once more.

"I wish we could interfere more freely." Touya uttered with a look of consternation. "Unfortunately we need to let everything play out.  We have no control over the sorcerer's movements, which means he has access to Watanuki, the other Sakura's and the brat.  I feel like I can't just stand by and let that version of Sakura lose more than she already has-"

"-and you're not sure you can do it?" Yukito finished.  "Touya, as much as I don't like saying this, I understand what you mean. We know we can't go to that other world to save the other Sakura's. We can only protect the Sakura we know and love.  I know it grated on you and your other self that you can't save them yourself."

The Cardmaster looked down at the blanket beneath his fingers and threaded his hands together in an effort to stay calm.  The implications of his visions had been spinning in his head the moment they'd become clear an hour or so before.  Speaking with Eriol Hiiragizawa had triggered several more intuitive feelings that all bottled down to the same conclusion.  People who resembled those he loved were going to get hurt with or without his interference and the only thing he could do to prevent their suffering from being in vain was to change the course of fate at the appropriate time.  Of course it grated on him, it aggravated him like nobody's business to watch some nameless sorcerer torture children and get away with it, particularly ones that looked like his little sister and her friend.

"I keep seeing the sorcerer next to a clock with Yuko Ichihara's face on it.  We know Clow stopped her time a minute before she died" Touya said.  "Maybe this man actually some lingering effigy of Clow Reed or vengeful suitor of hers who lost out to him and is now trying to get her time restored so she can die in peace.  Either way his unwarranted interference has already caused quite a bit of suffering."

Touya's eyes shone with renewed light as a thought came to him. 

"I have an idea, Yuki.  We can still see about changing something in our world so that it effects what's going to happen when that man inevitably tries to set the Witch's time straight."

"What are you going to do, Touya?" Yukito asked.  "Even if we offer to trade with her, she's already chosen successor.  Wouldn't it be more difficult then to get her to change her mind?"

"Yes, but it can't be Watanuki.  It's imperative that he stay out of reach of any world other than this one."

"How did you manage to find out what he is, Touya?" Yukito asked suddenly.  Yuko wasn't the type to let information go easily.

"When that other version of Syaoran left his own to meet with the other Sakura, someone had to take his place to balance out the plane of existence.  So, from what I've seen, after the kid crossed the threshold, Watanuki appeared in our reality.  He was born to this couple, the Watanuki's, who were previously unable to have children.  The mother used to own a little shop down in Tokyo that sold books and herbs, and the father was a chef at some restaurant nearby.  When the two of them died their money would have gone to charity, but it went to their son instead because he existed" The Cardmaster answered.  Touya looked up once more to give Yukito a grateful smile.  "I was distracted before we left the Witch's shop, partly because of you and Yue, and partly because I suddenly had a sense of the kid's existence.  The charms on the place keep people, especially those with clairvoyance, from sensing what he really is.  However the combination of Yue's magic and mine managed to throw everything off for a short period of time.  So much so that by the time we left I couldn't stop seeing visions of Watanuki's past, present and future."

"That explains why Tomoyo had to remind both of us why we'd come by demanding confirmation on the protection spell" Yukito remarked.  "I thought you were simply trying to get us out of there as quickly as possible because you were still a bit in shock."

"I was" his friend admitted, "but I was more worried about you.  That and the visions were becoming clearer the closer we were to each other and I didn't want her to notice it.  It's been happening a lot more, for some reason you and Yue seem to make my feelings and visions more clear.  Kero as well to a much lesser extent.  The three of you helped to me to finally sense what the source of my power was and Sakura's."

"I'm glad we were able to help, however inadvertently" Yukito said with a smile.  Then his face furrowed slightly in a small frown.  "As long as mine and Yue's presence aren't causing you any type of disturbance or painful visions."

Touya shook his head.

"We'd find a way around it, if that ever happened" the Cardmaster affirmed.  "Having you and my guardians around helps me focus more, so a way you're protecting me against things like the charms in the Witch's shop that I otherwise wouldn't be able to sense or counteract.  Sirius also helps.

"Sirius?"

"Sirius the Dog Star is the source of my-our joint power, even though you and Kero are able to tap into the energies of the moon and sun." Touya explained.

"That explains why you and Kero argue like a cat and a dog sometimes" Yukito commented with a giggling.

Touya attempted to scowl at the other, but had a hard time keeping up his expression as it actually was an amusing scenario.

"Sakura's source is Polaris the North Star.  The brat gets some of his magic from Mars, the closest planet to our moon, so it's no wonder he has an affiliation with it."

Yukito nodded.  That explained why Syaoran had blushed every time they came within a few paces of each other.  It was the attractive power of the moon's magic taking effect on him.  Yukito was glad that said effect seemed to have ebbed slightly as time wore on and he hoped their interactions would be less awkward for the younger boy within the coming year.  The revelation that there were other worlds and other incarnations of himself and possibly everyone he knew was still jarring to Yukito, but at the least they knew what was going on.  Touya wouldn't have any reason to lie about these types of things and the idea that he might had never crossed the gray haired teen's mind.  Yue, for his part, also seemed inclined to have an invariable amount of faith in his master, after Touya had proved himself that day at Yuko's shop.  Both Yukito and Yue silently agreed that Clow Reed's ability to stop the flow of time for the Dimensional Witch meant the sudden existence of other people like Watanuki, and possibly the sorcerer, not to mention Eriol Hiiragizawa, were not out of the realm of possibility.

"What will you do, Touya?" Yukito wanted to know.

"There is a person in our world, a young girl with powers a bit like mine.  I think she might be the key to unraveling this mess if we can get the Witch to agree to let the girl succeed her instead" Touya replied.  "If Kimihiro Watanuki isn't tied to the Witch's shop, there will be one less person the owl man can use in his plan.  Or at least curb the fallout.  We can't let people like Watanuki or Kobato, whose existence is fragile as it is, be effected by some inter-world spell.  That could upset the universal balance in a way that proves disastrous to everyone."

"I agree" Yukito said with a nod.  Then he grinned.  "Even if it does have something to do with your sister complex."

"Oh shut up" Touya grumbled as Yukito nudged him with his shoulder.

"Will it happen right away, do you think?" Yukito wondered.

The Cardmaster shook his head.

"No, I still have to pay the price for the alternate version of the brat, the real one, to go to the other world."

"But, Watanuki already exists here?" Yukito pointed out as he adjusted his glasses to sit more comfortably on the bridge of his nose.  "How can two people exist like that, when one of them is only taking the place of the other?  It seems...strange."

"Remember what I said about time, Yuki?  It works in strange ways." Touya said, leaning over and resting his head in his hand. "The world where that Syaoran comes from is behind ours in the time stream somehow.  There was a version of Sakura, the copy I mentioned, and she came from somewhere else too.  I know this because I used to get visions about another girl when I was kid.  Her name was Elda.  She wasn't human, she was a Persocom, a humanoid robot that's actually a household computer with a personality.  There were more of them in her world and it was almost as if they had souls."

He took a breath before continuing.

"I saw her sister Freya fall in love with their creator and father figure, and deactivated herself because if anyone found out it would ruin the lives of her family.  Her creator was already married to a woman Freya considered to be her mother.  Elda was devastated when she found out what her sister had done and asked  her parents to have her memories erased.  Elda's plan was to be left out in a back alley for someone to find.   She wanted to find a love that solely her own and to forget about her broken family."

"Did you understand what was happening at the time?" Yukito asked.

"Yes, though saw their story on and off for about five years.  Eventually Elda was picked up by a prep school student who was renting an apartment from Elda's now widowed mother.  From what I could see, Elda, now Chii, did eventually get what she wanted after months of having to reintegrate into society as a persocom.  Unfortunately, she and the boy met up with others along the way that lead to some temporary complications.  One of these new friends was an acquaintance of the Sakura copy, from the boy's college prep class."

"Meaning that these visions about Chii lead into the other ones about Sakura" Yukito commented understandingly. He put an hand on Touya's shoulder.  "Maybe Clow Reed had an effect on that world as well."

"I wouldn't doubt it." Touya agreed.  "This world's Sakura was the copy who lost her soul during the invasion.  What I didn't realize until later, was that this version of her was both her past and future. She had these three friends who kept visiting their version of Tokyo Tower.  Every time I saw those three, a creature that resembled Yuko's Mokona would show up in a flash of magic and the world just froze."

"Was this Sakura like Chii or Freya?"

"No, she was human, I'm sure of it.  She later became the mother of the true version of Syaoran in the world where the alternate versions of you and I reside with their version of Sakura" the Cardmaster answered.  "Besides, Freya's still locked away and that Sakura is gone now.  She too gave up everything for her family's sake, only to suffer at the sorcerer's hand once again.  It was hard watching them suffer when I knew I couldn't stop what was happening to them.  Even when they willingly subjected themselves to it."

Yukito nodded sadly, putting a hand on his shoulder in comfort.  The tension in Touya's shoulders relaxed marginally at the touch.

"I think you've always done what could Touya and there are some things we cannot change.  Even Clow Reed couldn't keep things up indefinitely" the gray haired teen reminded him.

Touya sighed deeply, then closed his eyes and nodded.

"Thanks Yuki.  I wasn't kidding when I said the three of you made everything more clear" he explained.  "The Witch told me that there were only two Mokonas the first time I saw her.  We only saw one that time we visited the shop.  That Mokona, the white one I saw in the other world, might be the same one she was talking about.  If it isn't, we have evidence that Clow Reed's magic did have an effect on other worlds, possibly more than the Witch is aware of.  It might be enough to force her to change her mind and consider our deal."

"I hope you're right, Touya" Yukito said with a unreadable expression.  "You know can rely on me and Yue to help out wherever we can.  Just be careful.  If anything happens to you, we'll be sealed away again."

"I know, Yuki.  I'm not going to let that happen."

No, Yukito thought silently, he would make sure it didn't happen, regardless.  He and Yue already had an idea of what they would give the Witch if everything went as planned.  The two of them agreed that it was also the answer to a problem that would otherwise come to plague them sometime in the future.

It was the only way, Yue said. Once was enough.

I'm glad I wasn't there to see it, Yukito agreed. I wouldn't have handled it any better.  At least we won't have to deal with any of this alone.

You wouldn't have liked it, Yue put in. At least now we know what some of this means.  Before, I think even Clow didn't know what was going to happen and...it killed him.

We don't know that.

No, but the Witch isn't going to tell us exactly what happened and Touya doesn't seem to know. Yue countered. The sorcerer is too suspicious, I stand by what I said. He has something to do with Clow Reed. I don't doubt that he is another person whose presence has been blocked from my memory.  Clow may have been involved further than we may have liked.

Or he was caught up in it. Yukito answered. We'll be careful.

Watch out for our Touya. Was all the guardian said.

Our Touya? Yukito asked wryly. Are you admitting to something, Yue?

Not...not yet.  And don't you tell him anything! Yue protested.  I'll tell him when this business with the final card is over.  When I've decided.

Whatever you say, Yue.  Just don't forget, your feelings are important too.

Busybody. Yue grumbled before going back to sleep.

Yukito returned to his math homework, putting all thoughts of other worlds from his mind.  He needed to finish his assignment before they went to meet Eriol Hiiragizawa later than afternoon.  It was going to be long, as he knew both Touya and Yue would demand explanations from the wizard.  They would all have to be on their guard as well.  Worrying about school assignments would only add to that anxiety if he didn't stay one step ahead of everything.

Chapter Text

Touya, Yukito, and Kero entered Penguin Park at the appointed time and waited by its giant namesake for Eriol appear.  Spinel slept peacefully inside a cushioned box Yukito was carrying.  Kero had insisted they transport his new friend in a more comfortable manner and the Cardmaster had given in, despite Spinel's ambiguous status.  Yue had pointed out that the black cat was the only creature with any similarity to Kero in existence and that his brother likely felt a type kinship toward the other.

"Akizuki is the one whose caused us the most trouble" Touya admitted with sigh.  "He can't possibly be any worse.  Just keep him out of trouble, plushie."

"Really?" Kero asked excitedly.  "Can I still hang out with Suppy?"

"Yeah, just remember we aren't with this group and we don't know if Hiiragizawa is behind those strange occurrences in town." Touya reminded him.  "Just keep your guard up."

Yukito chuckled as Kero flew over and plopped himself down on the box.

"I doubt Yue will ever think the same about Akizuki" he commented lightly.

"It isn't likely" Touya agreed.

"That was very kind of you, Touya Kinomoto" said a voice from behind them.

Touya narrowed his eyes and Yukito tightened his grip on the box, as they both turned to see Eriol Hiiragizawa and Kaho Mizuki standing there.

"It would seem we have much to discuss" Eriol continued without waiting for an answer.  "Much indeed."

"Hello Touya. Yukito" Kaho said with a smile as she waved to them.  The awkwardness showed through in her expression and Yukito couldn't help but feel a sliver of pity for her.  This couldn't have been how she'd planned on settling things with everyone.

"Let's start with why you're here in Tomoeda" Touya asserted.  "You set a standard for the cards to be found or your past incarnation did.  What purpose do you serve by being here?"

"I inherited a set of memories from Clow Reed and one of them referenced his desire for the Cards' new master to be tested, so that "she" may receive the power to convert all of them under her own name" Eriol replied pensively. "I was following those instructions when I made plans to come to Tomoeda earlier this year.  Then Keroberos chose you to be Master of the Cards instead of your sister, owing to unforeseen circumstances and those plans shifted.  I was supposed to ensure that the new master was able to develop powers superior to those of Clow Reed.  You had already reached that level without realizing it and that left me with an indefinite problem."

"Is that why you had Akizuki interfere with us?" Touya asked pointedly as his expression grew stern.

"No.  I brought her along and asked her to observe the two of you from afar.  Unfortunately Ruby Moon has a mind of her and apparently had her own motives in mind" Eriol admitted.  "Originally she was supposed to act as a buffer so that you couldn't interfere with my assessment of Sakura.  I also wanted to bring out the situation with Yue and Sakura's inability to support him with her newly developed powers.  Your own ability to keep Yue stable suggests that there is no danger of Yue disappearing from existence or otherwise fading as there might have been."

"Wait, you're telling me that you knew Sakura would have trouble supporting Yue's existence?!" Touya asked trembling with repressed rage.  "How could you do that to him?"

"My apologies" Eriol said gravely.  "It was a lack of foresight on the part of my forebear that I could not reverse.  Not without locating another power source.  It was my hope that you would discover his plight in time to reverse it by giving up your magical abilities to save him."

"I would have" Touya admitted with a glare.  "It still would have worried Sakura, not to mention Yukito would have had no idea what was going on."

"Again I must apologize, Yukito Tsukishiro.  I'm not the wizard I should be.  I am unable to untangle all of my past mistakes" Eriol said giving Yukito an honestly apologetic expression.

"If this situation only involved the two of us, I would accept that and ask that we move on" Yukito replied.  "As it is, I accept your apology, however my other self does not.  He wishes to express something of his own when we are finished discussing this."

"It has been a long time since I've seen Yue" Eriol mused.  "I would that I could have seen him under better circumstances."

Touya grumbled slightly, something Yukito was sure Yue would have mirrored if the guardian was not already raging about Clow's reappearance and his admission that Yue might have vanished if certain events hadn't taken place alternatively.  It was all Yukito could do to keep calm and not get caught up in the flames of Yue's suppressed feelings of betrayal and vehement affront.

"Would you have believed us if we'd told you, Touya?" Kaho put in.  "Would you even have understood about Clow Reed if Sakura was determined to keep it from you?"

"She couldn't have kept everything a secret for very long" Touya answered shifting his eyes toward her.  "I would have sensed her and the presence of the Clow Cards even without recognizing the aura they gave off.  If you had been honest with me, I might have believed you.  Your words would have rung true in my mind.  Like they did the night you told me you were leaving again."

Kaho winced slightly.  It was sore subject, but a viable example nonetheless.  She hadn't expected him to bring it up, but she couldn't exactly blame him either considering his annoyance stemmed from the situation with Yue.  The guardian could have vanished from their plane of existence entirely, and while she knew it had been on Eriol's mind for quite a while, the other two had no way of knowing his true motivations on the matter.  She and Eriol had needed to keep certain events quiet and had made allowances without curbing Ruby Moon's energetic nature.  Unfortunately it was making things difficult for them now that everything had seemingly come to fruition.

Yukito put a hand on Touya's shoulder in an attempt to calm him.  Then he felt Yue take hold and decided to let his other self state his own opinion on the matter, as it directly involved both of them.

"How could you?" Yue said as he stared at Eriol with ice blue eyes that shone with a sorrowful glimmer.  "I know you are different now and I am forced to accept the fact that you went off and died without us.  What I want to know is why you would allow me to vanish without so much as raising a hand to stop it?  Was I truly nothing else to you, Clow?"

Eriol closed his eyes to the onslaught of Yue's questions and lowered his head in an effort to calm his own rising emotions.  He didn't feel the same emotions Clow had toward Yue, but his own memories could reference them.  Clow had cared deeply about Yue in the way that was both heartbreakingly beautiful and incredibly painful.  The wizard would never have allowed Yue to cease existing, not without contacting someone like Yuko or giving up a significant percent of his power to ensure the guardian remained there by his side.

"You were everything to him.  My memories tell me that he would have paid any price at the Witch's shop to retain your continued existence, Yue." Eriol answered slowly.  "I myself am an incomplete part of what once was.  I went to the Witch and demanded that she reverse everything and re-seal the Cards until Sakura's return.  Apparently I am unable to bring about such an end, as the price would be too steep even for one with my abilities.  To that end, I cannot interfere with the Cards themselves or with Clow's former guardians.  That is why I created my own companions, Ruby Moon and Spinel, there.  Clow's memories tell me that he wanted you to move on and anything I've done has solely been for that purpose."

"That's still no excuse" Kero put in from his position near Spinel on the box.  At that moment Yue seemed to realize he was carrying a box and laid it down on the ground.  "It means you're living in the past too, Clow."

"His name is Eriol" Kaho defended.  "Life isn't always kind to those who are left behind.  Eriol was left behind by Clow Reed after he died, as was your father, Touya."

Touya blinked in surprise.  The boy's words rang true in his mind.  That was why his father had suddenly appeared at the orphanage and why his lack of family had been such a mystery.  It also explained why the aura Fujitaka sometimes exuded was significantly different from others he'd come across.  His father was another part of the whole that had been Clow Reed.  Although it was apparent that despite their looks, Eriol was the only incarnation who had received any of Clow's magical abilities.

"You're still not off the hook" Touya reiterated.  "You should have told us about the danger to Yue, in case my powers weren't enough."

"I cannot change what has already occurred and what never actually happened" Eriol stated.  "However I am hoping we can come to an agreement of sorts.  I promise not to interfere with any of your endeavors from now on, provided the Cards are well cared for."

Touya and Yue both glared at him, but they seemed to have accepted that Eriol was only a singular puzzle piece in the grand scheme of Clow's plan.

"Don't forget your cat" Touya reminded him smartly.  "Or I might decide I need another one around the house.  He seems to make the plushie happy enough."

"My lifespan will be significantly shorter than yours" Eriol mused.  "Once I return to England I intend to accelerate my aging process to make up for lost time.  I will appear to be the same age as your father once that is complete.  I will need someone to look after Spinel and Ruby Moon when I am gone.  I know you do not get along with Ruby, however-"

"I think I might have a solution to that" Touya said begrudgingly.  "Spinel can stay with us, but I refuse to live with Akizuki.  Yuko is going to need a successor within two years time.  I've seen it.  Her clock is finally going to run out and when it does, that kid Watanuki and some other version of the brat are going to be left disconnected."

"Are you suggesting that Ruby Moon should succeed the Dimensional Witch?" Eriol asked in confusion.

Touya shook his head.

"No, I'm asking that she become the guardian of Yuko's new successor.  If we can get the Witch to agree to take someone else on instead of Kimihiro Watanuki.  Nothing good can come of separating him from that temple kid.  In fact it might just drive another wedge through the universe.  You know how well that worked out last time with the Witch."

The blue haired wizard sighed.  He didn't want to be parted from any of his guardians, but he understood that Ruby Moon would probably be happier in a place that allowed her more freedom of movement and the chance to meet a true friend.  Even though Ruby Moon was androgynous by nature, she preferred to assimilate toward the female gender.  It made sense that she would want to meet more girls her age.  Eriol hoped that whomever Touya wanted as Yuko's successor would be able to accept that part of her.

"If you do this, I might be willing to forgive some of your past trespasses" Yue said quietly as he contemplated what this would mean for all of those involved.  "I too have something that I would give the Witch in order to see events progressed to a better end.  Your participation might prove that your new efforts are sincere and that you are not determined to undermine us."

"I suppose you are correct" Eriol said giving them a sheepish smile.  "Could I ask that you aid me in my own minor quest while you're at it?"

"That depends on what it is" Touya informed him.  "What could you have left unfinished?"

"I determined years ago that I no longer wanted to live in Clow's shadow or bear his title as the most powerful sorcerer in the world.  That is why Sakura's existence gave me so much hope" Eriol explained.  "I wanted her powers to develop in order to surpass those of Clow Reed, so that I could ask her to give your father half of my power.  It would give him the ability to see your mother again and I would be free from detection by any of Clow's long lived enemies."

"Am I to believe that you didn't remember about Soo Yung?" Touya questioned.

"I did not" Eriol admitted.  "Not until I felt her presence near Yue and Keroberos during your trip to Hong Kong."

"I'll help you" Touya agreed.  "On the condition that you help us convince the Witch to take another successor."

"You're kind Touya" Kaho said smiling at him.  "Have you decided what you'll give to make that happen?"

"No" Yue answered for him.  "It is still under discussion."

"We want to be sure" Kero agreed, as he came to stand next to his brother and took on his true form. "Now can someone tell us why things are disappearing all over town?"

"Now that is a long story" Eriol replied.  "I'm afraid Clow left me a little bit of unfinished business to attend to.  I'd be grateful for your assistance as this project was an unfinished Clow Card that should be added to your deck once the issue has been resolved."

Eriol and Kaho took Spinel home a little while afterward to find Ruby Moon sitting on the windowsill staring out into the yard.  Apparently she'd returned home after being unable to find Spinel and surprisingly hadn't gone in search of either Touya or Syaoran Li.  The wizard and teacher both considered this a positive thing and decided to leave the Moon Guardian's meanderings undisturbed.


 

"Dad, I have something to tell you" Touya said after they'd finished dinner that night and Sakura had gone up to finish her homework.

Fujitaka adjusted his glasses and looked at his son plaintively.

"Is everything alright?"

"I found out some interesting information about the maker of the Clow Cards today" Touya answered.  "I'm going to tell you the full story and afterward I have a request made by someone else that specifically effects you."

"Me?" Fujitaka asked in surprise.

"Apparently your appearance at that orphanage was no accident, my...abilities tell me this person speaks the truth" Touya explained.  "The man who made the Clow Cards was named Clow Reed, he had a great deal of magical ability, earning him the title of top sorcerer in our part of the world.  He lived about two hundred years ago and we surmise he might have sealed the Cards either during or after that time period.  Yue seems to think Clow regretted his considerable abilities after he changed the fate of a close friend and prolonged her life indefinitely.  He caused an imbalance and apparently gave his life to set it right, but not before sealing the Cards away and running off to another world to do it."

Fujitaka closed his eyes and nodded.

"Why did this person tell you these things?" he asked patiently.

"There is a boy in Sakura's class at school.  He's a sorcerer who stunted his own growth in order to fulfill the wishes of his past self, a self he apparently shares with you" Touya answered grimly.  "Eriol Hiiragizawa claims he received part of Clow Reed's soul and that you have the other.  He wants to give you half of his magic in hopes of fulfilling that person's wish and giving you something he feels you should have.  That being said, you don't have to take it, Dad."

"He seems like a kind person, if a bit confused" Fujitaka said with a small easy smile.  "It seems he carries quite the burden for one his age.  I would like to meet this person, so that we can discuss this properly."

"Are you sure you want him coming here?" Touya asked cautiously.  "My abilities tell me he isn't lying, but I'm still not sure I trust just yet.  Even if he has admitted to messing with everything and attempted to make it up."

"We are all trapped by our memories at times" Fujitaka advised "maybe he's simply searching for a way to move on and escape the trappings that time and memory have brought him.  I can't say I've never been caught up in might-have-been's particularly where your mother is concerned, despite our happy life together."

Touya nodded in understanding.  Nadeshiko was always on his mind, even with her frequent visits in ghostly form, it still wasn't the same as having her here among them in flesh and blood.  He agreed to call Eriol that night and invite him over at the soonest convenience.  Then Touya turned his focus to collecting the remaining Clow Cards.  If the wizard's prediction was correct, the unfinished Card's efforts would soon be having more noticeable effects on Tomoeda.  It was created in order to balance out the Clow Cards and had been gifted with an equal amount of magical ability as Touya's entire deck.  Unfortunately this mean that the Card in question was likely the one who'd whisked away the The Sleep, The Libra, and The Wood two weeks before.  Much as he hated to admit it, teaming up with the wizard might be the only way to confront this mysterious card and win.


 

Eriol Hiiragizawa approached the Kinomoto residence with apprehensively as he still unsure about how to conduct himself in front of his fellow incarnation.  Fujitaka Kinomoto was a difficult man to read by any standard from what he'd observed.  Sakura's own description of her father painted him as a kind, hard working, single father of two, but little else.  There was no mention of what the man had inherited from Clow himself and whether or not he latent potential with magic.  Eriol had been certain that he had inherited all of Clow Reed's magical abilities, but the extent of Touya's powers had made him reconsider this notion.  Both Sakura and Touya showed remarkable ability with magic and it had to have come from, at least in part, their familial connection to one of Clow's reincarnations.  It was even possible that Fujitaka had given up all of his own abilities and passed them on to his children unwittingly.

The short blue haired wizard walked up to the Kinomoto's front door as his nerves continued their machinations.  He was greeted by a tall man with platinum hair and a face similar to Clow's, complete with corresponding glasses perched atop the bridge of his nose.

"It's nice to finally meet you Mr. Hiiragizawa" Fujitaka said pleasantly.

Eriol nodded and gave him a sheepish smile.

"You may call me Eriol" he said.  "I'm afraid my visit is long overdue."

"Won't you come inside and have tea with me, we can discuss everything then" Fujitaka suggested as he stood aside allowing Eriol to step in from the outside.

Once they were settled quietly in the kitchen with steaming cups of tea lying in wait, Eriol explained his reasoning behind giving up a percentage of his power to his fellow incarnation in hopes that he could make up for Fujitaka's various hardships.

"You would be able to see your wife again" the wizard offered.  "I'm sure the conversion could be safely performed by Touya if we both agreed to it."

"It is my fondest wish to see Nadeshiko again" Fujitaka began "however, I feel as though Sakura should be the one who receives a portion of your gift, if it lifts the burden from your shoulders.  Only a small amount mind you, so that she may finally see her mother.  There is a woman I have feelings for, someone I would like to take a chance with.  I will see my dearest Nadeshiko someday, but until then I want to continue as I have.  Nadeshiko may not accept my decision, though I think she will understand in some way.  I want to live out the rest of my life with a woman I've come to love and respect, if she reciprocates my feelings."

"You seem so sure about this Mr. Kinomoto" Eriol said in an attempt to reign in his confusion.  "Are you sure you want to give up this chance for Sonomi Daidouji alone?"

"Nadeshiko urged me to remarry in the event Sakura ever needed a mother.  Something I never considered as no one could ever truly replace her in our hearts.  However, I think Nadeshiko realized that youth brings with it a certain loneliness that can sometimes last a lifetime and did not want me to reconcile myself to it without considering every possibility." Fujitaka explained.  He didn't even question how Eriol knew exactly which woman he was referring to.  It unnerved the wizard how easily this man seemed to accept his abilities even as he turned down the chance to retain some of it himself.  "I've done that.  Being involved with Sonomi, if she'll have me, is a chance I want to take.  Seeing Nadeshiko now would make it seem as though I'm dividing my time between two women without fully committing myself.  I'd sign any document ensuring that the children only receive the inheritance of their respective parents if it will convince her of my sincerity in this venture.  It's what I've chosen to do...Eriol."

"I can respect your decision, even while it baffles me" Eriol agreed.  "You said you wanted a portion of your half of Clow's abilities given to Sakura.  What about the rest of it?  I assure you it's still a significant amount of power."

"I believe my son is hoping to change the fate of another" the professor said lightly. "He made reference to the Dimensional Witch and preventing some sort of tragedy.  My son spoke of this only vaguely, so I have no idea of his plans.  However I would like to ask that you put that power toward his cause.  He seems determined to do this, likely, selfless action.  Anything that might help keep Touya out of trouble would mean more to me than anything else you could offer."

"Very well Mr. Kinomoto, I will do as you say.  I believe that this change may also restore the balance between worlds in a way that Clow could not.  The Witch's shop is more of a key than it is a beacon to outside worlds, this person's fate may yet serve another purpose."

"You can call me by my name" Fujitaka informed him.  "Our age is similar, even when our appearance is not."

Eriol chuckled slightly.

"I will be significantly older the next time you see me, Fujitaka" he said.  "I plan on reversing the effects of my spell once I return to London.  I cannot stay hiding in this form forever."

"I think it's best we both move on from this.  You should live the life you were given without the burden of past memories.  I doubt that our past self would have wanted you to deny yourself true happiness."

"I believe you are correct.  Clow became caught up in the reality he'd created and lost sight of what he truly wanted.  I will endeavor not to make the same mistake."

Chapter Text

One of the first things Touya asked when he telephoned the Witch was the location of the White Mokona in return for giving her certain pieces of information as the price.  Her answer was surprising, as she informed him that the White Mokona was currently on loan to a friend running an antiques shop.

"She's keeping track of something for me" the Witch said enigmatically.  "I'm surprised by your concern, considering the fact that you've never met her."

"Then the White Mokona I saw in another world a few days ago isn't yours" Touya informed her.

The Witch was silent for a moment before warily commenting on the far reaches of magic and the eventful nature of the universe itself.  Her tone was clipped and he could tell she was surprised too, no further explanation needed.  Then the Cardmaster voiced his request that they shift the certain events before they came to fruition, specifically the placement of Watanuki and the fate of one Kohane Tsuyuri.

"You do realize what you're asking is nearly impossible, right?" Yuko asked "I can't possibly change what's going to happen now...unless you're willing to give proper compensation?"

"Eriol is willing to give half of his powers to this girl in order to ensure things run smoothly from the get-go" Touya answered.  "You know where things are headed.  I can't possibly stand by and let Clow's mistake effect the lives of others so drastically, not after what happened with Yue."

"You've changed" Yuko commented as she silently mimed to Watanuki to refill her glass.  Something he grumbled about between the echoes of Maru and Moro's chanting.

"You can't possibly want more after finishing three entire bottles last night?" Watanuki interrupted.

"Only three!"

"Last night!"

"More!"

"We want more!"

"And make it quick, kitchen boy" Mokona demanded in the background.

Yuko's eyes shone with mirth as she watched Watanuki trudge back to the kitchen before she resumed her conversation.

"And you, what will you give?" Yuko asked precariously.

"I'll give you a quarter of my power.  That should be enough."

"It is.  Maybe I speak with Yue now?"

She heard shuffling sounds as the Cardmaster handed the other the receiver.

"I'll give you some of my own power and several decades-" Yue began.

"Wait,  you can't-"

"I can, Touya.  I've decided that I don't want to leave you behind as I was forced to leave Clow" Yue stated firmly.  "I can't do that anymore, the next time may be too much for me to bare.  A broken guardian isn't any good for anyone."

"They will suffice" Yuko agreed as Watanuki returned with a bottle of sake.  "You are aware that you will need to find another guardian, either of the sun or the moon to balance out the Clow Cards themselves?"

"That has already been taken care of" Yue informed her.

"Then consider it done.  It will take another year or so for her to appear, but I will inform you when it happens" Yuko stated.  "Now put Touya back on the line.  I need to discuss the matter of the travelers with him."

"You're talking about those people from an alternate world" Touya said once he was back on the line. 

"Yes, four of them to be exact.  They will arrive precisely when they are supposed to and in the mean time, the first traveler wants to be sent on his journey."

"Shouldn't he already have left?" Touya asked, slightly confused.

"On the contrary, that man, has caused time and space to shift and become unpredictable.  Many years will pass in each of the other worlds, while only a few months have come to pass in this one." Yuko explained.

"You mean the man with the monocle.  I knew he was trouble.  What about the boy in your shop, isn't he simply a replacement for the other boy?  Are you saying he was brought into being ahead of time?" the Cardmaster inquired.

"That's not what I'm saying at all" Yuko assured the Cardmaster.  "In fact, this boy is from yet another world that is similar to ours.  Watanuki exists to fill in one of the gaps left by the man I was referring to.  He is simply doing so in this world rather than another, where two unexpected additions were already placed."

"You'll have my staff before the year is out" Touya said finally.  "I just have one last Card to locate."

"You are aware of the consequences of catching it?" Yuko asked speculatively.

"Eriol was very specific about that" the teen answered.  "We won't require any assitance."

"A pity" the Witch commented.  "I would have enjoyed seeing Clow's unfinished experiment for myself.  See that you give me your payment as soon as possible."


 

"Well I'm here Sensei.  Now tell me what's going on?" Sonomi said as she sat down opposite Fujitaka at a small table in a local coffee shop.  "You were incredibly vague about this over the phone.  Does this have anything to do with Touya?"

"It's something of a completely different nature, I assure you, Sonomi" Fujitaka answered.  "I've been thinking about a certain something for a while now and I've decided to be honest about it.  I hope this won't change your opinion of me in any way."

"No fear of that" Sonomi answered with a wry smile.  "You did steal my precious Nadeshiko away.  You're never going to be off the hook for that."

"I know" the professor said favoring her with an amused smile.  Then his expression became serious once again.  "I...care about you Sonomi, as more than simply a friend or a member of Nadeshiko's family.  I realize this is probably unacceptable to you, but I hope that you-"

Sonomi held up hand and cut him off.

"I had my suspicions, though I'll admit you are a difficult man to read at times" she put in.  "You married Nadeshiko even after she'd forced to give everything up, so I know you're not after my company or Tomoyo's inheritance.  You're too honest for that.  I believe we can come to some sort of agreement about your feelings.  That is...I like you as well Sens-Fujitaka."

"Sonomi, do you mean it?"

"Well of course I-"

"This makes me incredibly happy, you have no idea." Fujitaka answered with a bright smile.

"Yes well, when I need a date for a corporate cocktail party, you may not feel the same way" Sonomi said jokingly.  "We'll need to sort a few things out and see how the children feel about this.  This will be very new to them."

"They already get along remarkably well" the professor commented.  "I'm sure they can handle this in a mature manner."

"That's not all" Sonomi said shaking her head.  "Once Tomoyo hears about this, she'll start trying to make my outfits again.  I'd rather she focused on Sakura, as her tastes lie closer to that of her own age group."


 

"Where exactly are we going?" Spinel asked

"I told you, we're going to meet a friend of mine" Kero said as they rode in Sakura's shoulder bag, as she walked through downtown Tomoeda.  Sakura smiled down at them.  "His name's Ioryogi and he lived with this girl named Kobato."

"I'm glad Eriol let you come with us, Spinel.  Kero and Yue don't always like the same things, so it's nice that Kero has a friend to hang out with" Sakura commented.

 "It has been nice meeting you as well. So, where exactly do these people live?" Spinel inquired.  "I haven't really seen much of your town since we arrived."

"Oh they live in the eastern part of town" Kero replied him.  "Kobato works at a preschool near there Ioryogi told me she also does a lot of charity work.  Though, he keeps calling her an idiot for doing it.  He thinks she cares more about others than herself."

"She must be a very kind person" Sakura said.  "I'm sure we'll have lots of fun visiting them."

When they reached Kobato's apartment building, Sakura quickly checked the numbers on each mailbox, before finding the right one and pressing the buzzer.  A girl who was a few inches taller than Sakura, with light red hair that went fell down to  her waist, opened the front door a few moments later and smiled in greeting.  She was wearing a white dress with ornate flower designs interwoven on it, a green fall coat and a small straw-woven sunhat.  There was a small stuffed plushie that resembled a blue dog riding on her shoulders.

"Are you Sakura?" she asked "I'm glad you didn't get lost.  Kobato was a bit late getting out today, so I hoped we hadn't missed you.   I'm Kobato Hanato.  It's very nice to meet you."

"That's me, Sakura Kinomoto.  Nice to meet you too.  My brother said I could take Kero over here today instead.  I hope you don't mind Spinel tagging along.  Kero wanted him to meet Ioryogi." Sakura replied with a smile.

"Oh that's alright" Kobato assured her.  "I'm afraid he gets lonely sometimes when I leave.  So it's good for him to have friends around."

"I have friends, you idiot.  You've even met them before!" the blue dog plushie answered.

"Yes, but it doesn't hurt to make new ones."  

"So you're Suppy?  You're a lot smaller than I expected." Ioryogi commented.

"I assure you, my true form is much larger than this" Spinel said as he eyed the blue dog  plushie speculatively.  "I assume you can change your shape as well."

"Ioryogi, isn't exactly like us" Kero explained.  "It's a bit more complicated than that."

"So, why are you here anyway?" Ioryogi asked Sakura as he turned to stare at her.  "You don't seem like the type to do that Card Wizard's dirty work?"

"Ioryogi!  That's not very nice" Kobato scolded him lightly, while giving Sakura a sheepish smile.  "I'm sorry.  He gets like this sometimes."

"It doesn't change who is he, Dobato" Ioryogi reminded her.

"No, it's fine." Sakura said with a smile.  "I'm not here for Nii-san.  I'm doing this for Kero and Spinel.  Even if Nii-san is busy today."

"Kobato hopes he and Yukito are doing well" Kobato added thoughtfully as she opened the door to her apartment.  "Fujimoto says he your brother works almost as many hours as he does."

"Nii-san works very hard" Sakura agreed.  "He works almost everywhere in town.  Yukito worries about his health sometimes, but I'm sure he'll be fine."

"Would you like some tea?" Kobato offered as she gestured for them to follow her up the stairs.  "I'm afraid Kobato doesn't have much but-"

"Hoe!  That reminds me" Sakura exclaimed.  "I almost forgot.  Nii-san wanted me to give you these."

She pulled out a small container with five Konpeito candies inside.

"He said they were for your collection" Sakura said handing it to Kobato.

"Well whaddaya know" Ioryogi remarked.  "The Card Wizard did something right for a change."

"Tell him Kobato is very grateful" Kobato said, her eyes shining with excitement.  "Kobato won't forget what he's done."

"They're very important to Dobato" Ioryogi explained.  Then he whispered under his breath.  "Even if they won't do any good in the end."

Spinel tucked this knowledge away for later.  He would mention Kobato to Eriol, even if there was nothing they could do for her.  The wizard should be aware of what other beings existed in Tomoeda.  The black cat guardian could sense that Kobato wasn't human and that Ioryogi wasn't quite the same as he and Kero, although the blue dog was indeed trapped in his current form through some type of magic.

A moment later Ioryogi led Kero and Spinel off to the far corner of Kobato's one room apartment to play a card game.  Sakura sat down on a nearby chest with Kobato and sipped the tea that had already been prepared.

"So how did you meet Nii-san and Yukito anyway?" Sakura asked curiously.

"Ioryogi was...in a tight spot a couple of months ago.  Kids keep thinking he's a toy" Kobato answered.  "Your brother and Yukito found him as he was trying to escape a little boy who wanted to take him home.  Touya knew where he belonged without my telling him and they brought Ioryogi back here.  Kobato was extremely grateful and asked if there was anything I could do for them.  Your brother mentioned Kero and we began arranging the two of them to hang out together.  He seemed to think Kero was in need of a friend."

Sakura sighed.

"I'm sure Kero was lonely during the months I was away last year and Nii-san was trying to keep him a secret from Dad" she said.  "It must have been hard on Kero having to hide all the time.  It's nice to know that Nii-san thought of him, even back then, since they don't always get along the way they should."

"Everyone shows their feelings in different ways" Kobato replied understandingly.  "Kobato has a friend who doesn't always say what he means, but I know he cares about people.  He often tries to help me, even when Kobato makes mistakes."

"That's what friends are for" Sakura commented with a smile.  "I have a good friend named Syaoran.  He didn't really fit in at first, but Nii-san helped him once and because of that we all started to get along.  Well, him and Nii-san still don't, but Syaoran is friends with me and my cousin Tomoyo now.  He even helped out Nii-san put a spirit to rest during a trip on Hong Kong."

"That sounds exciting" Kobato said wistfully.  "I've always wanted to go someplace far away.  If I work hard I'll get there someday.  It's my goal."

"I hope you succeed Ms. Kobato" Sakura told her.  "Let us know if you ever need any help."

"Thank you so much.  We're doing okay for now though.  Ms. Sayaka helps out and  Fujimoto does too, but I'll remember what you said." The red haired girl replied.

Sakura noticed that Kobato didn't have any tea herself.

"Aren't you going to have any tea, Ms. Kobato?"

Kobato shook her head.

"Kobato can't-" she explained.  "Kobato can't tell you why."

"Oh, okay.  I understand" Sakura said, thinking that Kobato didn't like tea.

Ioryogi turned a wary eye toward the two momentarily before returning to his card game.  No one except his friends knew that Kobato was actually a wandering spirit with another soul inside her body.  Kobato had a contract with god that said she had to collect Konpeito candies, enough to fill the jar sitting in the corner of their one room apartment.  Fulfilling this contract meant that Kobato could go to the place she wanted to and the angel inside her body, once Iorygi's love, would finally be free.  He had started a war so that he could have his love, only to be punished for breaking the nonaggression pact with Heaven.  It would take another few decades, and possibly Kobato's death, for his love to actually be free, but he was willing to wait that long.  Being stuck as a dog plushie for all that time would be difficult and he knew Kobato's own displacement and subsequent feelings for her gruff coworker Fujimoto Kiyokazu, made things difficult for her as well.  Kobato refused to show how much the hardship weighed on her at times and had kept up her cheerful attitude throughout their ordeal.  Her lack of prior memories didn't seem to bother her either, though Ioryogi was aware that focusing on helping those in need and reaching her goal were keeping her extremely busy at the moment.  The time would come when Kobato either reached her goal at the appointed time or failed and thus forced the two of them to start over, or damned them to an even worse cosmic punishment.  Ioryogi was grateful that Kobato had helped him meet some new friends, despite his interaction with his old friends Ginsei, Genko, and Zuishō.  Kero, and even the uptight Spinel, had given him a new perspective on life, particularly while trapped in his current form.  It gave him a slight hope when he'd had so little to begin with.


 

A week after Touya had completed his deck, minus the stolen Clow Cards, Ruby Moon came upon another section of Tomoeda that had mysteriously disappeared during her walk home from school.  She caught a glimpse of the Card herself and decided to give chase.  The Moon Guardian was determined to make up for the trouble she'd caused Eriol and show Spinel that she was still as good a guardian as he was.  Surprisingly, her initiative paid off as her quarry led her back to its hide out.

"Wait, that's the Tsukimine Shrine!  Dammit, Eriol's not going to be happy about this" Ruby Moon said with a grim expression.  "Neither is Kaho.  At least she stayed with us at the manor instead of her family.  Eriol might've been even more put out if she'd suddenly disappeared too, because a Clow Card was hiding out at her house."

"I don't suppose you could tell us what exactly is hiding out in that shrine?" asked a voice from behind her.  Ruby Moon turned to find a tall boy with two different colored eyes, one blue, one gold, in front of her.  A second teen with a bow was standing next to him.  Both had dark hair, a similar height range and were wearing black gakuen uniforms indicating their status as high school students.

"Or at least why you were following it" the second teen put in.

"Who are you?" Ruby Moon asked curiously.

"I'm Watanuki and this is Doumeki.  We're here to help out the people of this shrine." The teen, Watanuki, explained. "My employer was given a request by the family that lives here."

"We're here to take care of their spirit problem" Doumeki put in.

Ruby Moon blinked.

"Oh.  That might be a bit of a problem" she said.  "The thing haunting this shrine isn't a spirit.  It's a Clow Card.  Only my master or the new Cardmaster, Touya, can have any power over it."

The Moon Guardian eyed the two teens thoughtfully and took stock of the magical potential held between them.  She'd learned her lesson from chasing down the Li brat.  Eriol would have to be enough to soothe her hunger for a magical treat.  Besides, these boys had traces of the Dimensional Witch on them.  She had sensed a similar residue from both Touya and Yukito after they'd paid her a visit, as well as the Li brat after Eriol had informed them all that the boy had summoned the Witch for some type of aid.  No, her days of searching for an outside power source were over.

"We'd like to see for ourselves" Watanuki insisted.

"You don't want to do that, boys" Ruby Moon said smartly.  "If you haven't noticed, parts of town have slowly begun to disappear because of this card.  You go in there and you'll simply vanish until my master and Touya finally agree on a plan and actually confront it.  Or her actually."

"Are you completely certain about that?" Doumeki asked quietly.

"One hundred percent" Ruby Moon assured him.  "I can take you to my master, whose a friend of your mistress.  Yuko, I believe."

Watanuki and Doumeki reacted with surprise upon hearing the Dimensional Witch's name.  Ruby Moon simply grinned.  Then she shifted her appearance to that of her human form.

"I told you." She said as she turned and walked off in the direction of Eriol's manor.  The teens followed behind her at a slow lag, they seemed unsure of whether or not she was leading them into an even more tumultuous situation.  Ruby Moon noted that the two of them seemed to argue the entire way, with Watanuki spazzing out at Doumeki's alternating remarks.  They did eventually settle into a much calmer method of conversation by the time the manor was in sight and seemed to be discussing the merits of various protection charms.  It was only to be expected, she surmised, since they worked so closely with someone like the Witch on a frequent basis.


 

Tomoyo Daidouji had one singular supernatural ability that allowed her to actually see the red string of fate and its various spiritiual incarnations as they perched, wrapped around any and every individual's little finger.  It had taken her most of her formative years to figure out that not everyone could see the red string.  She hadn't even realized what it represented until an acquaintance of her mother's had remarked on it, motivating her to research the meaning of the mystical string further.  After determining that she was not, in fact, hallucinating, Tomoyo decided to watch each string carefully.  She was determined both to find the person whose string was attached to hers and to bring together anyone she knew with their particular partner.  It was during her elementary years when she met Sakura Kinomoto that she realized one could be in love without even realizing whose string was meant to connect to theirs.  Tomoyo felt a great deal of amiable feelings toward Sakura, including friendship, that was slowly tainted with semi-romantic feelings that drove her to count the girl as her best friend and secretly, the number one person in her heart.  This went on for years, before Tomoyo took notice of how the red strings that connected her various classmates, friends, and teachers seemed to vary with each new romance they entered into.  She learned to tell the difference between a leveled romantic encounter to a fated romance from shade of red each string appeared to be.  The brightest red always meant that fate or "hituzen" was involved with that particular couple and odds were they were meant to be together.  It was this very string that she had witnessed tied around Touya and Yukito's fingers, and it was then she knew that they were in a likely permanent relationship.  The could be said of Sakura and Syaoran, although they didn't know it yet, and Tomoyo refused to give the game away before the two of them truly realized their feelings for one another.  She was pleased to note that the string between Fujitaka Kinomoto and her mother was slowly growing brighter.  This was to be expected as Fujitaka's fated love was likely Nadeshiko, but now after all this time he had slowly developed feelings for Sonomi as well.  It lightened her heart considerably to know that she had been right about Sakura's father and her mother being compatible, even if Touya would grumble about the complicated family relationship they were all going to have if the two ever got married.  It was a shame that Tomoyo herself still didn't know who her own string was tied to and could only hope that someday the answer would reveal itself.

That afternoon, as she looked out onto the sidewalk beneath her bedroom window, she saw a bright red string tied around the fingers of two dark haired teenagers who were being led up the street by none other than Akizuki or Ruby Moon as Touya had informed her, herself.  This caused her to speculate briefly about the guardian's intentions before quickly dialing her cousin's phone number.

"Hi. Touya?  Yes, I was surprised as well.  Listen, there's something you should know about..." Tomoyo began.

Chapter Text

Yuko nibbled precariously at her pipe and eyed her glass of sake warily.  It had been five hours since she'd sent Watanuki to accompany Doumeki to Tomoeda after the stoic teen had received a request to cleanse the local temple of a wayward spirit.  Watanuki's presence would put Doumeki more on his guard and the teen would be less likely to take the job for granted, no matter how mundane it seemed.  Yuko had strongly suspected, and rightly so, that any unusual happenings in Tomoeda were directly connected to the remaining loose Clow Cards.  It was likely that Doumeki would be unable to do anything about the situation if this were true, so Yuko had prodded Watanuki into going with him in the hope that his inner magnetism would catch the attention of any local spirits or supernatural beings.  In particular she wanted Eriol Hiiragizawa's guardians to take note of Watanuki's appearance.  The sorcerer was bound to detect Clow's aura about the teen as his existence was the direct result of Clow's meddling, because of this Watanuki held a small piece of Clow's soul within him.  He was not, in fact, one of Clow's reincarnations, however his magical signature was similar to the wizards in the way that Touya Kinomoto's was.

"Alright!  Alright!  We're here.  Now you can ask her yourself!" came the voice of the sprite Ame-warashi, from shop's back garden.

Yuko's mouth quirked upward at sound of it.  It seemed as though one of her more spunky clients would again be paying her a visit momentarily.  The day was looking up after all.

"Visitors!" Maru exclaimed entering the room.

"More visitors!" Moro said following suit.

They danced around before settling to sit beside Yuko and proceeded to watch the goings on with interest.

"Greetings, and welcome to my shop once again" Yuko said as the sprite appeared before her, accompanied by the fair, blue haired Zashiki-warashi.  "What can I do for you?"

"She insists that Watanuki's aura has suddenly disappeared and wants me to help her find him" Ame-warashi explained in a disgruntled tone.  "I assume since you're the boy's employer, that you'd know where he was."

"I'm uncertain as to his exact location at the current time, but I can tell you where he was headed" Yuko said with a mild grin.  "For a price."

Ame-warashi groaned and slowly untied her black hair ribbons.  They were protection wards that helped her against demons and Zashiki-warashi's guardian goblins.  Not that she needed anything to help her keep those little punks in line, but the wards themselves kept anyone with any sort of negative intent from bothering her.  She had a job to perform after all and didn't like being disturbed by something so trivial.

"Will these do?" Ame-warshi asked holding the ribbons out to the witch.

Yuko nodded and took them from her hand.

"I've already found a use for them" the witch said with an unnerving lilt to smile.  "Watanuki is currently in Tomoeda with Doumeki purifying the local shrine.  Though I doubt their efforts will be of much assistance in banishing the cause of the temple's current discord."

"Useful!  They're going to be useful to mistress!" Moro commented.

"Very useful!" Maru added.

Ame-warashi nodded and left just as quickly as she'd come with Zashiki-warashi following close behind.

Yuko sighed and shook her head.  She was fond of Ame-warashi in her own way and would miss the sprite's friendship when the day came that time once again overtook her.  The dimensional witch was no fool, she knew that eventually Clow's as well as Fei Wong Reed's machinations would catch up with her.  Her death was edging closer with every turn of the hour hand on her wall clock.  Once she had made that deal with Touya Kinomoto she knew that there would be no turning back after this.  Time moved forward on a whim all its own that no one else could ever truly seek to control.

She tucked the ribbons away in a small box of things she was saving for her new apprentice.  In exactly one year, Kohane Tsuyuri would enter their lives, ready and willing to be rescued from the intentions of her overzealous mother.

The witch mused to herself about the price Zashiki-warashi would pay for the information she'd been given.  The two sprites had been in such a hurry, neither had thought to question the fact that Yuko hadn't asked about Zashiki-warshi's price.  Perhaps they simply assumed that what Ame-warashi had given would be enough to cover the tab.  Yuko almost wished she could see the look of realization on Ame-warashi's face when the time came.


 

"So you're saying that we came all this way for nothing?" Watanuki asked Eriol irritably.

"The inhabitants of the shrine, Kaho's family, do not understand what is truly going on" Eriol explained.  "Purifying it will not help the situation in any way.  I don't want you or your companion to come to be harmed by the Clow Card."

"Magic cards.  Makes sense." Doumeki commented, earning him further criticism from Watanuki.  "Can we help in any way."

"You might as well accompany the card's master to the shrine, now that we know where it is" Eriol said after a moment's consideration.  "We'll need to ensure the place is well warded against any interference while he attempts to seal it."


 

After a brief phone call to the Kinomoto residence Watanuki and Doumeki found themselves following Kaho back to the Tsukimine Shrine.  They were just in time to see Ame-warashi and Zashiki-warashi arrive at the front gate.

"Where the hell have you been?" Ame-warashi wanted to know.  "This one has been looking for you everywhere and is apparently worried about you!"

"H-hello" Zashiki-warashi greeted.

Doumeki instinctively wrapped an arm around Watanuki's shoulders.

"Hey, you big oaf!  What the hell do you think you're doing?" Watanuki protested, though he didn't make any move to shift Doumeki's hands away from him.

The effect was not lost on either of the sprites, though Ame-warashi seemed just as happy to ignore it.  Zashiki-warashi looked as though she was bit disappointed by this development, but seemed happy for Watanuki in the same breadth.  After all, her entire reason for coming down from the mountains in the first place was to meet him and find different ways to make Watanuki happy.

"W-well I'm glad you're okay" Zashiki-warashi continued.  "Both of you.  I-it would be t-terrible if something happened.  Y-Yuko told us that t-the person in the shrine i-isn't something you can fight."

"It isn't" Watanuki agreed.  "I wish she'd told us that before we came all the way here.  Stupid Yuko."

Doumeki nodded slightly to acknowledge her concern.  At least the sprite was being polite, unlike some of the women who visited the shrine on occasion to wish for reciprocated feelings they might never receive, even if it meant breaking the heart of those whom the person already held dear.

"What're you all doing here?" Touya asked as he and Yukito approached the shrine's gate.

"These people were here at the behest of the local temple priest" Kaho explained.  "Two of them are associates of the dimensional witch.  I don't know about the other two ladies though."

"We're sprites" Ame-warashi answered in a highly annoyed tone.  "The only reason I'm here is because this one" she pointed emphatically toward Zashiki-warashi "insisted we check on Kimihiro Watanuki to make sure what's in that shrine hadn't killed him already."

"W-we c-could stick around to help" Zashiki-warashi offered.

"So could we" Sakura said, coming up behind Touya, along with Tomoyo and Syaoran.

Touya put a hand to his forehead.

"I thought I told you to stay home" he growled.

"I've learned a lot these past few months" Sakura insisted.  "I can keep it from harming Kaho's family and Syaoran can help."

"I'm just here in case anyone get's injured" Tomoyo said holding up a first aid kit.

Touya rolled his eyes.

"Fine, I can see you're not going to listen to me, are you?"

The three of them shook their heads.

"We can handle ourselves" Syaoran said glaring at Touya.  Touya glared right back.

Two more cards slid out of the deck in Touya's pocket, surprising everyone.   Yukito rapidly transformed into Yue in reaction to several of the moon guardian's subordinates being stolen away.

"We should move fast" Kaho told them.

Events happened in rapid succession after that.  The mysterious card attempted to use the other Touya cards she'd captured against the anyone who entered the shrine.  Fortunately Kaho had kept her Moon Bell on hand and quickly prevented the card from summoning the others against the Cardmaster.

Sakura and Syaoran went inside the temple, with Watanuki and Doumeki following suit to guard them, and were able to successfully locate and evacuate Kaho's family before they came to any harm. However, the card began to lash out by levitating objects and sending out strong waves of magic power like great gusts of wind. One of these nearly hit Zashiki-warashi and would have sent her flying had Tomoyo not grabbed her hand and yanked her out of the way.

"That was close" Tomoyo said with a serious expression. "Are you at all injured?"

Zashiki-warashi turned to reply, but noticed the card glance in their direction as she began to build up some of her magic once more. Then she let forth another intensely bright upsurge of power directly at Tomoyo as if further angered by her earlier interference.

Tomoyo blinked in surprise as Zashiki-warashi stood in front of her and deflected the blow with her magic. In that moment she saw her own red string begin to stir slightly. It wasn't moving to connect with anyone else's cord, but Tomoyo knew that any activity from it at long last must mean something important.

"Be careful" Tomoyo whispered.

Zashiki-warashi offered her a shy smile and a nod, before turning to see that Watanuki and Doumeki were safe by the front gate.

The exorcist and spirit-magnet had managed to escape the card's outburst as well were watching tentatively as Touya and Yue approached the card.

"Clow created you for a reason-" Touya told the card calmly she turned to glare at him.

"Then why was I forgotten!" the card screamed.  "Why was I left in that cold, dark place all alone!"

"We were all left alone!" Yue shouted back, stopping the card in the midst of yet another outraged reaction.  "Clow sealed us away because something happened that he blamed himself for and in the end he shut us all out.  Every one of us were sealed away inside the Book of Clow for years until we came to Tomoeda.  I didn't even realize who I was until someone broke the enchantment Clow had placed on me!"

Touya stared in disbelief at Yue's outburst.  It wasn't often the moon guardian put his true emotions on display.  He reasoned that it was because Yue truly understood the card's suffering as they had all been left behind when Clow Reed had sealed them and gone to another world with his own death in mind.

"You-you're lying.  You have to be...." the card said sorrowfully.  "Why would he leave us?"

"Because he couldn't live with himself anymore" Yue said, frowning, furling his wings around him. "He didn't think he deserved to live after he did made a error in judgment.  His attempts to make amends for it eventually resulted in his death."

The card was shaking now, but no longer seemed as determined to lash out at those around her.

"Cl-Clow died?" she said in disbelief.

"We all felt that way after we found out" said one of the cards she'd captured previously.  "Then our new master offered us a home.  I'm sure he'd be happy to have you as well, so we can all be together again."

"We have faith in him" another card told her.  " You should too.  He's already proven himself."

The card stared at Touya and Yue for a moment as she deliberated on what to do next.  Then she nodded.

"I'm go with you" she said to Touya.  "As long as you give me what I ask in return."

Touya nodded and allowed the card to encircle him with her magic.  He said the phrase that allowed him to turn her into a Touya card and was then freed from her hold.

The Faith Card appeared before him in two-dimensional form.

"Thank you" Touya heard the card whisper as he slipped her into his deck.  The other cards the Faith had stolen from him also returned to their places.

"It's finally over." he said turning to Yue.

"For now" Yue agreed rewarding the Cardmaster with a small smile.  "We'll have other conflicts ahead of us."

"Will you be there by my side, Yue?  For as long as we're both here?" Touya asked the moon guardian nervously.

"I meant what said when I made that bargain with Yuko" Yue told him.  "My lifetime will only be as long as yours now and I will stay by your side for as long time will allow."

Touya smiled upon hearing his answer.  It was as close to a confession of love as Yue was going to give at the moment, but the Cardmaster knew that, if given time, the moon guardian would feel more secure about opening up to him and furthering their friendship into a true relationship.


 

After ensuring that Kaho's family was safe and the minor damages to their home were repaired, the Kinomoto's along with Yukito and Syaoran left.  Sakura had already invited Syaoran to dinner that night, much to Touya's chagrin.  Kaho stayed behind to explain matters to her family and to help re-ward the perimeter of the shrine.  Watanuki and Doumeki also beat a hasty retreat by bus back to Tokyo as they had school the next day.

Tomoyo however remained to say good bye to Zashiki-warashi.  Ame-warashi didn't seem all that interested in speaking with a simple human girl, but she stuck around long enough to allow her companion some time with the human who'd aided her and vice versa.

"You should come to the Nadeshiko Festival this summer" Tomoyo said.  "Most of the town is in good spirits during the preparation leading up the festival itself, so you won't have to worry too much about evil intent."

"H-Hey really?  Y-you w-would do that for me?" Zashiki-warashi asked a smiling Tomoyo, as she stared down at her fingers, plucking at them nervously.

"You'll love it" Tomoyo insisted.  "I'd like us to be friends, if that's amenable.  So, would you be okay to attend the festival with us?"

Zashiki-warashi nodded, rewarding Tomoyo with a heartfelt smile and placing a tentative hand in the girl's outstretched one.  Tomoyo closed her own around it briefly responding with her own cheerful expression as the sprite's accepting her invitation to return.

Ame-warashi stared at the two of them with an expression of awe.  She had been convinced that no one would ever be good enough for Zashiki-warashi and that despite her apparent, though unrequited, crush on Kimihiro Watanuki the sprite was fated to remain singular in her existence in her quiet dwelling in the moutains.  Ame-warashi was no seer or aura-reader, but she knew that in that moment a potential bond, possibly fate itself, had formed between Zashiki-warashi and this girl.  One that would not be easily broken.


 

A week later Touya with Yukito at his side entered Yuko's shop.

"We've came just like we promised" he said took the purple keychain from his pocket and transformed it into his staff.  Then he handed it over to the dimensional witch with a pang of regret.  "I can use the cards without it.  Now that we've located the last of them."

"Yue and I are ready to give you our power" Yukito said as a spur of feathers surrounded him and he became Yue.

"I'll put them both to good use" Yuko said sipping her sake.  "I'm sure Touya's visions will tell you what I cannot.  Eriol was here earlier this week with his part of the payment."

"Did you find the third mokona?" Touya asked curiously.

"Now that I can answer" Yuko said with an odd smile.  "Since you are the one who found him first.  I can now count them one mokona, two mokona, three mokona.  But then I have to stop, because there's only three."

"That we know of" Yue said speculatively.

"This is true" Yuko replied with a wink.  "The third mokona came to my shop with a very special request.  I was able to grant it, but I'm afraid he owes me a favor."

"You're going to send the travelers to that world as well" Touya remarked.

"Some of them" Yuko said secretively.  It wouldn't do to let them know everything after all.  She couldn't tell anyone that she'd already planned to send the clones of Syaoran and Sakura there after their journey was completed.  Never mind the fact that in this time they were already there and their son was several years away from beginning a journey of his own.

"Take care of them" Touya said before he and Yue bowed and exited the shop.

"I don't have much of a choice" Yuko replied as they walked away.  "I can't look away any more than you can, Touya Kinomoto."

Touya flinched slightly at this, causing Yue's wings to tense up.  The Cardmaster held up a hand and the moon guardian relaxed slightly.

"She's right" he said.  "There's nothing more we can do now."

Chapter Text

Five Years Later...

"I planted some new flowers in the garden" Zashiki-warashi said as she walked into the kitchen where Tomoyo was making dinner.  "They're tulips.  Do you think your mother will like them?"

"I'm sure my mother will love them" Tomoyo reassured her.  "She's always saying we need something more cheerful to brighten it up.  Her and I haven't done any gardening since before I was in elementary school.  She was always so busy with work that we went out instead when she got time away from her company."

"T-that's good.  I wouldn't want to burden you or your staff with something you deemed unnecessary" Zashiki-warashi explained.

Tomoyo smiled and hugged the sprite tightly.

"Nothing you do is ever a burden Zashiki" she said.  "I personally think my mother enjoys our trips to the mountains as much as we do.  That and it's nice to have time to ourselves away from Tomoeda sometimes.  I know Sakura and Li like having time to themselves without everyone visiting them constantly.  And I know I wouldn't be able to help myself if I didn't see her at least once in a while."

"She's your cousin" Zashiki-warashi insisted.  "You care a great deal about her.  I feel the same about Ame-warashi.  We've always treated each other as family."

"Would you like to see her again soon?" Tomoyo asked eyeing the sprite thoughtfully.

"I'd like to visit her mountain at New Years if that's okay with you?" Zashiki-warashi asked.

"Then we'll take a holiday in the mountains, just the two of us, so we can visit her" Tomoyo agreed and set about finishing their dinner.


 

Ame-warashi watched sadly as the wind shifted, a sure sign of the turning tides.  None of those stupid humans could feel it the way she could.  The dimensional witch was giving herself over to hands of time once more and the rain sprite was all the more bitter for it.  She sat there in her favorite tree atop Mt. Fuji with a sullen expression her face.  Her left fist clenched and shaking, while her right was clasped around the handle of her frilly red umbrella.

Just then she heard a fluttering noise coming from one of the trees to her left.  Ame-warashi shifted slightly and turned toward it just in time to see an enormous flock of butterflies burst out from between the tree branches.  They were all different shades and included some species of butterfly that Ame-warashi had never seen before and, she suspected, weren't actually native to Japan.

At that moment Ame-warashi felt herself let go of all it all and felt the tears flow freely down her cheeks.  Yuko had been one of the few who'd truly understood her mission as a rain sprite and why she cared so much more about nature than those silly humans.

She thought it was a blessing that at least Zashiki-warashi wasn't here to see her like this.  The girl deserved to enjoy her own happiness, even if it was with some silly frivolous human.  Though Ame-warashi was willing to admit that the girl, Tomoyo, had her friend's best interests at heart.  The Daidouji household was one of the most well warded, well cleansed, places in all of Japan simply because they wanted Zashiki-warashi able to live freely without tasting the bitter poison of the evil intent from the outside world.

Eventually the sun went away and the sky began to darken with impending rainclouds.  Ame-warashi stayed where she was as the droplets began to fall.  Much as she would deny it later on and kick anyone who even thought to suggest it, in that moment Ame-warashi thought it felt as though the sky was crying along with her.


 

"Just one more season" Ioryogi prayed as he watched the scene taking place between a desperate Fujimoto and a sorrowful Kobato.  There was no longer any more time to collect konpeitos in order to make her wish come true and she would now be forced to live with the consequences.

Touya was awake the night Kobato disappeared from a playground on the other side of town.  He saw flashes of her teary good bye to Fujimoto and how a final konpeito from him had saved her existence, while still causing her to disappear as a result of her wish finally being granted.  Touya sighed and reached for the one card in his deck that could help them, the Faith.  It represented hope, love, and understanding, the only things that would keep Fujimoto going once the magic set in place to erase by an unknown force completed its task and erased Kobato from everyone's memories.  Touya could already feel a tinge of it starting to effect him and activated the Shield card to protect himself, Yukito, Yue, Sakura, Kero, and Spinel who was sleeping over again, from their memories of erased.  It was lucky that they were all staying at the Kinomoto residence tonight.

"You can stay with us" Yukito insisted the next day when he and Touya found a distraught Ioriyogi sitting atop the jungle gym of that very same playground.

"Why the hell would you want to do that?" Ioriyogi demanded.

"Because you have a long wait ahead of you" the Cardmaster answered, holding up the Faith card.  "That girl won't be back here for another few years.  I did what I could to make that happen, we'll just have to see if it works."

"Fine" Ioriyogi said with a grateful nod.  "The Dobato didn't know what she was getting herself into.  At least the idiot is still around somewhere."

"You'll have to watch out for Kero though" Yukito said with a mischievous gleam in his eye.  "He doesn't like anyone stealing his cake."

Touya snorted and rolled his eyes.

"Not that the plushie ever makes any of it for himself."

Four years later, when Fujimoto was again reunited with Kobato in her human form during one of his cases, he'd finished law school in the meantime,  it was discovered that Touya's magic had indeed had the desired effect.  Kobato returned to Tomoeda to live with Fujimoto and Ioriyogi was again able to see that she was safe and protected.


Five Years After That...

23 year old Sakura hummed to herself as she moved about the kitchen of her father's house, putting the finishing touches on Sonomi's birthday dinner.  Her father and girlfriend were due in at any moment along with her husband Syaoran, Tomoyo, and Zashiki-warashi. 

Sakura deemed herself satisfied and walked over to straighten up the teddy bear that was slumped silently on a shelf in the corner.  Syaoran had given it to her several years when he'd confessed his feelings for her right before he left for Hong Kong.  It had taken Sakura herself another six months to tell him that she returned his feelings.  Seeing Tomoyo and Zashiki-warashi at the festival had reminded of the happiness that she and Syaoran could have if they tried.  It was in that moment she had decided to tell Syaoran about her own feelings for him.  Syaoran had returned for the Nadeshiko festival with his cousin Meilin, who'd expressed a desire to visit Tomoeda and been likewise invited by Tomoyo to attend the festival.  Meilin however, had seen how Tomoyo and Zashiki-warashi acted around one another and given them some space once the festival was in full swing.  She'd gone off with one of the boy's from Sakura's class to check out the cafe Touya and Yukito's college was putting on.

Later that night all of them had gone to the center of town to see a play being put on by Sakura's class with Chiharu Mihara and Takashi Yamazaki in the lead roles as the prince and princess.  Although Chiharu had had to restrain herself from strangling Yamazaki when he adlibbed a few lines during the ball scene.

Sakura had originally been asked to play the princess in the play, but had to refuse the role as she was taking summer classes in order to catch up on few things she'd missed while in the hospital.  Not to mention her father still had her attending tutoring sessions as well that amounted to extra time in cram school.  Fujitaka was determined to ensure that Sakura was ready to attend middle school the next year.  He was much more lenient than other parents in his position would be, but being a college professor he had been aware of how damaging time away from school could be to Sakura being accepted into the high school of her choice down the line.  Looking back Sakura could understand where her father was coming from and as a result of what those session, she had been able to keep her grades up and test into a good high school.

"Ahhumm...need...more food" Kero mumbled in his sleep.

Sakura giggled as she peeked into the living room where Kero and Spinel were curled up on her father's couch.

"Some things never change" she said.

"Hey monster are you done yet?" Touya called from upstairs, rousing the small yellow cat guardian lying on the couch.

"Shut up! Stupid big brother!  Make it yourself next time!" came Sakura's reply.

"Hey!  What's the big idea about waking us up?!" Kero shouted back in the same instance.

"I'm sure that's not what he intended" Spinel remarked lightly.

"He didn't even come down to see for himself" Kero grumbled.  "So there's no reason for the master to be so loud."

"It was much quieter at your house" Spinel agreed.

"That's because Yukito's so undeniably cheerful all the time" Kero answered.  "He'll just laugh at Touya's impatience and tease him more.  That's why he doesn't do it at home."

Spinel shook his head and put his head back down in an attempt to fall back asleep.

"Just ignore him" he said.

Kero muttered something under his breath about bothersome sorcerers and complied with Spinel's request.  A few minutes later the two of them were once again fast asleep curled in each other's paws.

The same sight greeted Touya and Yukito moments later as they peeked downstairs.

"I don't think it's ready yet" Yukito suggested quietly.  "Why don't we wait a bit."

Touya raised an eyebrow at him.

"I can think of a few things we could do while we're waiting" Yukito said coyly.

The hungry look in Touya's eyes was all the response he needed as the two made their way back to Touya's old bedroom.


 

Kohane Tsuyuri shuffled lightly around her shop.  It had been several years since she'd inherited the wish shop from Yuko.  Watanuki had remained living at the shop for his last two years of high school before going to live at the temple upon Doumeki's invitation.  Kohane herself had finished her schooling within the last few years and kept up a correspondence with her mother and "Oba-chan", a seer who'd been a close friend of Yuko's.

She smiled as she turned a corner to see the black and white mokona's playing in the back yard with Maru and Moro.  In another fifty years, Kohane knew that nothing would have changed within the shop, including she herself.  The magic that Yuko and some unknown sorcerer had left for her were more than enough to sustain her for a good long while, before she took on an apprentice of her own.  The shop had provided her with what she'd desired, friends, privacy, and a quiet place with no tv reporters who wanted to her to use her abilities for their own personal publicity.

In another few decades, she knew, someone else would be joining her in the shop.  A very important person who would be with her for a very long time.  Kohane couldn't help but be curious about this person, one of the guardians created by the wizard Eriol Hiiragizawa, would be sent to live at the shop after her master died as part of a bargain Yuko had made before her own passing.  There was already a room in the back of the shop set up for when the guardian finally came to live with them.  Something that made Kohane a bit anxious, since she knew nothing of the guardian's taste outside of her preference for being referred to as female despite being created as gender neutral.  She really hoped this person liked red, at least Kohane had this unexplained feeling that she should decorate using that particular color with just a hint of black, so that she wouldn't have to apologize after the fact and take her new roommate shopping for new things all over again.  Then again, taking her shopping might not be a bad thing anyway.  Kohane liked being able to search through stores for just the right thing to add to her shop, even if it did mean she had to pick up a few customers as well along the way.

Her current guests were enough to keep her busy for now.  They had returned particularly invigorated from their latest trip to Clow Country.  Now that their quest was over and the Syaoran and Sakura of their world were settled comfortably into a life of well deserved peace and quiet, or what served for it in the royal family, their two companions had set about reaching the home that was waiting for them in yet another world.  One that greatly resembled an alternate version of feudal Japan.

"Kuro-rin, I found that box of sweets you wanted" said a sing-song voice coming from one of the other rooms.

"You know I don't like those things!  Why would you even bother unless you wanted to annoy me" another voice shot back.

"But Kuro-prickly, it's such a nice day for it" the first voice protested teasingly.  "Don't be such stick-in-the-mud."

"We're here for a reason you idiot!"

"That doesn't mean we can't have a little fun while we're waiting to go to Kuro-sawa's home world" the first voice answered suggestively.

Crash and bang noises were heard in the aftermath and what sounded like hard steel hitting the wall.

"That's going to come out of your work price, Fai and Kurgane" Kohane called to them sweetly.  "I can't have the shop looking unkempt for when my guest arrives in a few decades."

"We'll fix it" Fai offered cheerily.

"You mean you'll make me do it" Kurogane put in.  "And is it just me or does she sound more like Yuko than she did before?"

"She's learning" Fai whispered back.


 

"So what do you want for your birthday, Shizuka?" Watanuki asked casually as he stood in front of the counter at The Cake Dish, the bakery he'd opened after graduating from college with a degree in marketing and business management.  Himawari had agreed to be part owner of it since she was no longer in danger of burning it down with her horribly bad luck.  Kohane had, fortunately, been able to rid Himiwari of her bad luck tattooing symbols for good luck, blessed by Ame-warashi, Zashiki-warashi, and several other sprites.  The tattoo's counteracted her aura of bad luck, something Himawari's husband Kenji, was grateful for.  Kenji Tsubayaki was himself from a long line of temple priests like Doumeki, and his presence had the ability to neutralized Himiwari's bad luck, but that was only while they were currently in the same location.  If they were apart then he would constantly worry about his wife and those around her.

"I'd like the red cupcakes" Doumeki insisted

"The ones with the yellow sprinkles?"

Doumeki nodded.

"Yes those."

"Articulate this morning, aren't  you?" Watanuki commented lightly as he turned to find one of his recipe books.

"Last night helped" Doumeki answered with a straight face.

Watanuki blushed and made as if to hit his husband with a rolling pin.  Doumeki dodged easily and kept his face carefully blank.

"Can I have cake too?" he asked.

"Yeah, sure, fine" Watanuki mumbled as he continued to shuffle through his library of cookbooks.

"And moshi?"

"Anything else?"

"Inagi?"

Watanuki sighed and shook his head.  He really should have known better.  Doumeki would eat whatever he cooked and if he kept asking the man was only going to answer with the name of every dish Watanuki had ever cooked for him.  Chances were he wouldn't run out of names anytime soon, so Watanuki gave up asking and set about planning to make the things Doumeki had already mentioned.

"That's it" Doumeki informed him.

"Are you sure?" Watanuki asked automatically and then mentally slapped himself for it.

"No" Doumeki assured him.

"That's what I thought."


 

"Eriol, there's a letter for you" Kaho said entering the sitting room. "It has familiar looking crest embedded in it."

"That's odd, I wasn't expecting anything" Eriol said getting up from his arm chair. "I wonder what it could be."

Eriol had physically grown up a great deal since his initial departure from Japan after Touya had sealed the final Clow Card. While he, Kaho, and Ruby Moon had gone back to visit a few times, Spinel even more, they never made it a point to be away from England for too long. Eriol preferred England to Japan, though he'd made sure to keep up the manor house in Tomoeda for their occasional use. The magic used to ensure it was still in proper condition wouldn't take much of a toll on his magic, something that had persuaded him of its usefulness in the long run. He still considered Sakura, Syaoran, Tomoyo, Fujitaka, Touya, Yukito, Yue, and Kero to be his family, though not as closely as Kaho and his own guardians. Eriol had also finally been able to quietly marry Kaho to ensure that she inherited the estate if he should die before her. There was simply no reason to allow everything to pass on to some unknown distant cousins of Clow Reed and the Li Clan, who certainly weren't in need of it. He wanted Kaho taken care of first and foremost should the unthinkable happen.

There on the innocent looking white envelop in Kaho's hand was a crest containing butterfly and a crescent moon.

Eriol's eyes widened when he glimpsed it.

"I didn't think she would find me quite yet" he said grasping the envelop and carefully tore it open. "It appears that Yuko's successor wishes to thank us for our efforts."

"This is about Touya's plan" Kaho said knowingly.

"Yes and it appears that some interesting guests have taken up residence in her shop" Eriol answered with an almost smile. "She's writing to inform me that the Tsubasa Chronicle has finally been recorded in its entirety and Clow Reed's work is at its end."

"That's thoughtful of her "Kaho mused. "I wonder what she's like in person, and if she and Ruby Moon will get along as we've hoped."

"She seems pleasant enough in her letter" Eriol ventured. "Touya and I have spoken about Ms. Tsuyuri many times and we agreed that her shop is the best place for Ruby Moon."

"Not for many years yet, Eriol" Kaho reminded him.

Eriol nodded in return.

"Now that time once again moves as it should. We will have many more years to come."