All the desks in their classroom were arranged like normal, but Sakura knew this had to be a dream. For one thing, the sky was green and the grass was purple. For another, their teacher was a gerbil -- but both of those could happen if the real world tried hard enough. Mostly she knew that she'd just been doing her homework on the couch with Syaoran, who was visiting from Hong Kong (and she couldn't not have him over if he was in town)! But her homework still had to get done, so there they were. She wouldn't have gotten to class in the morning without remembering dinner and saying goodbye to Syaoran or having breakfast the next day and getting dressed or at least skating down the street. Unfortunately, it didn't seem to be the kind of dream where she could bring her cards with her, so she couldn't rely on their help to get out of a pinch.
Maybe Eriol had come back from England to test how well she was learning to do magic on her own?
"Sakura?" the voice behind her called out. Syaoran's voice! But Syaoran hadn't sat behind her in class since he went back home!
No one in class moved or paid attention. This was definitely a dream.
And why was Tomoyo a kitty cat? She had little bells around her neck on a purple ribbon just like Tomoyo liked to wear in her hair, and she had Tomoyo's smile, but she was a little black kitten just curled up on the seat! And was Yamazaki a raven?
"Sakura?" Syaoran asked again, dropping his hand over hers on the desk. She could feel her heart going ka-thunk in her chest. When his eyes got all deep and piercy like that, how could she help but feel zingy all over? Even in a dream. "Sakura, is that really you?"
"Dream Syaoran! I mean, I know this is a dream, but you're still Syaoran. So can you help--"
"I'm not a dream. It's me." He looked around the room that was suddenly full of animals instead of any students whatsoever and squeezed her hand tighter. "All this is a dream, but I'm not. Somehow, I got pulled into your mind. You didn't do it?"
She shook her head. "How do you know it's my mind?"
"Well, it's not mine." His cheeks burned red as he cast his eyes at the floor. "You think in Japanese. It... feels different. I've spoken Chinese all my life."
"Ah, I'm sorry!"
"No, I didn't mean--"
Screwing her eyes shut, she took a deep breath and tried to remember everything she'd learned. "Néih hóu ma! Ngóh géi hóu, néih nē, hóu hóu? Néih yium̀hyiu tùhng ngóh tiumóuh?" She only stopped when she felt his lips pressed against hers and his hands on her face...
"I'd love to dance with you," he answered the question she'd spouted out in her half-learned Cantonese. "After we get out of here. Don't worry about me."
"Ngóh oi néih..."
When she opened her eyes, Syaoran looked as red as a bulb on a Christmas tree, and with the way he was holding her, she couldn't have been gladder that no one in class seemed to see them carrying on. "I... hadn't taught you that yet."
"I asked your mother."
"Kinomoto-kun, Li-kun. Would you care to join the class?" An unexpectedly deep voice came from the windowsill by their desks, where Gerbil-sensei was standing on his back legs with his arms crossed over his chest. "If you can't change into your totem forms on demand, you'll have to come to remedial lessons after school. Now quick, focus on your primary instincts, from inside your heart." As soon as they nodded, Gerbil-sensei walked away to check on a lizard crawling toward the bookshelves.
"Syaoran, do you know what a totem is?" Sakura whispered.
"I think it's a metaphor. A beast you can... relate yourself to. But here... I don't know. This looks literal."
"Maybe we need to transform to defeat the dream?"
He shrugged, looking out the window at a big jackrabbit and a sleek, white bunny hopping by with a butterfly chasing them. Not a human being in sight. "Maybe? Though I'd rather I had my sword here."
"I don't have my cards either. We should concentrate, like Gerbil-sensei said. This can't be much different from casting a spell."
"Right." He took both her hands, and they closed their eyes. Sakura wasn't sure what her 'primary instinct' was supposed to be, but she didn't think too much. She could feel something every time Syaoran squeezed her hand, and that had to be as 'primary' as anything.
Something went poof around them, like a balloon full of baby powder popping right between them, where Syaoran drew up their hands to her chest. But his hand still felt like a human hand, not a paw or a hoof or a claw or whatever critters without feet had. She opened her eyes to watch the smoke clear. Sure enough he still had his brown bangs flopping into his very human brown eyes, and very human lips trembling a few inches from her nose. "Try, try again, I guess. Same old Syaoran."
"And you're still-- Oh no..."
All at once, he stepped back, dropping himself into his seat and pulling himself as close to the desk as he could -- so fast the chair legs squealed on the floor. If he'd been red before, now he looked like a supernova. Sakura was pretty sure she could see heat waves bending the air around him as well as the bright cherry red showing through his fingers as he tried to bury his face in his hands.
"Syaoran! What is it?" He shook his head as she leaned over his desk, brushing her fingers into his hair. If only she could stop her heart from fluttering! This wasn't the time! "Is it your metaphor? Do you feel something?"
"I... Definitely. Don't have a metaphor." Syaoran snuck a guilty look out from between his fingers, and he didn't have to explain. It was like that time he'd been walking her home, and they'd stopped in the woods by the park to say goodnight where her father and brother wouldn't see.
"... Oh. So that happens when you're dreaming, too?"
She had trouble hearing him when he mumbled through his palms, but it sounded like he was saying, "Pretty much constantly."
"You know I don't mind, right?"
Syaoran pulled his hands down far enough to see his eyes all the way, red fading down through different shades of roses. But before he could say anything more, they heard the sound of someone clearing his throat from the other side of the room, and they both knew too well whose voice that was.
At this point, Sakura could hardly be surprised that it was coming from the jackrabbit she'd seen outside, now sitting on the teacher's desk at the front of the room.
"You better not be doing anything weird with my sister, punk!"
"Touya..." The smaller, white bunny hopped up from the teacher's chair to sit beside him. "Let's not bother them, Touya. They're sleeping."
"Nii-san?" Sakura squealed. "Yukito-san?"
"I don't like it!" Jackrabbit-niisan growled, and started hopping over the desks two at a time until he was hopping straight at Syaoran, who suddenly had the dreamspace turn on him and refuse to let him up from his chair.
Sakura managed to grab the rabbit first and fell back into Syaoran's lap as she kept it from wrestling away. "Nii-san, what are you doing?! Nii-san!" The rabbit bopped its nose into her forehead, and all of a sudden she realized she was opening her eyes -- for real this time, on the couch, with her homework spread on the coffeetable, and Syaoran stirring and warm behind her with his arm over her waist. But there was still a rabbit in her hands for some reason, climbing onto her hair towards Syaoran.
"I said, you better not be doing anything weird with my sister, punk!"
Syaoran was all the way awake before she could take another breath, bolt upright and sitting on the far end of the couch with his hands on his knees and his eyebrows in his hairline. The rabbit scurried toward the kitchen just as fast, Sakura running after him.
"Nii-san! You didn't really turn into a rabbit, did you?!"
"What, is the monster going crazy now? I'm over here." His voice had definitely come from behind her that time. Regular Nii-san, full-sized and human, was standing in the open door with two bags full of groceries, and Yukito-san behind him with an empty cage. "The rabbit's from school. Now why's that punk on our couch?"
"Syaoran can be on our couch if he wants to be! He's been my boyfriend for two and a half years! There's nothing weird about that!"
"Come on, Touya. You wouldn't want to make silly rules about not having boyfriends over, would you?" Yukito-san nudged her brother's leg with his toe. "Let's put the groceries away and get Mame-chan back before he finds trouble."
"What? Yuki, don't tell me you're on his side!"
Pushing Nii-san along, Yukito-san gave her a big, sweet smile. "You should help us make lasagna for dinner, Sakura-chan. We've got enough for Syaoran-kun, too. Don't we, Touya?"
Her brother kept his eyes locked on Syaoran, both of them glaring sparks at each other all the way across the floor, and didn't say a word.
"I'll be there in just a second, Yukito-san!" Sakura called through the door.
Before helping with dinner, she and Syaoran needed to have a talk.
She sat down on the next cushion over, feeling a blush sneaking up on her as she stole a glance out of the corner of her eye. Once her brother was out of the room, Syaoran was right back to normal, all his glares glared out and looking at her with his eyes wide and... zingy. Though still frozen with his hands on his knees. "So, that dream..."
"I guess it's possible we can just... be together in our dreams, and it's not someone making trouble." Their eyes met again. His doubts were written all over the pained twist of his lip.
Yeah. She didn't believe it either. They both dove for their bags.
"All my cards are here. None of them seem to have done it."
"No sign of Clow's presence in the area." Syaoran frowned at his scrying board. "But Hiiragizawa-kun might be able to hide his tracks. Anyway, I'm not going back to Hong Kong if there's any chance--"
This time, she was the one who kissed him, and he was the one who went silent.
"Goody," Sakura answered. "Now let's go make lasagna and ask Nii-san and Yukito-san if they saw anything unusual today. Okay?"
"Sounds like a plan."