There was a blinding flare of white light in all directions. The young man in black shielded his face with one arm, desperately looking around for an escape route.
He was deaf to the shouting of harsh voices from below and the ringing of sirens, as he leaped over one rooftop to the next. Another beam of light pointed at him as he reached a dead end. The sound of footsteps and yelling came nearer. There was no place to run.
Then, a large //BANG// echoed into the endless black night.
“Eriol, what’s with that grave expression,” Nakuru asked, laughing. “For heaven’s sake, lighten up. It’s summer. Have some fun.”
“Fun. It’s no fun here in England,” Tanaka Miho complained, running a finger through her short auburn hair framing her face. Her mischievous smoke gray eyes twinkled. “I say, I wanna go to Japan for summer vacation! Where there’s so many cute guys!”
“I second going to Japan!” Kero-chan exclaimed. Glaring at Eriol, he stated, “Sakura-chan’s not so stingy when it comes to making me nice food.”
In a bored tone, Suppi-chan commented, “Though Eriol’s good at cooking, to quench your appetite, he’ll have to be cooking all day, and you’ll still want more.”
With narrowed silver violet eyes, Yue said, “Cerberus, you’ve been no help what so ever in gaining information to aid your mistress. We won’t be going back to Japan for a long time at this rate.”
“Well I was the one who called Sakura-chan and told her about the Five Force Treasures. Plus, I called her yesterday and told her that they might hold a significant key to solving some of the mysteries, so that it will be best for her to try and gather all five treasures,” Kero-chan retorted offended, flying around the room with his hands (paws?) on his hips.
“It doesn’t matter! The longer you all stay, the better! Then Touya-kun can stay here forever and forever!” Nakuru swooned, flipping back her long maroon hair. “Too bad he’s so busy studying. It’s good that he’s getting honors and awards here, but I mean, like the girls here are drooling over the new Japanese foreign exchange student. There’s that duchess girl, who’s like soooooo rich and has a crush on him. Talk about competition for me! ”
Placing his forehead on his hand, Eriol sighed. He was too polite to say that all of them were giving him a headache.
“What are you worrying so hard about? Lighten up, dude. I mean, whatever, whoever you are an incarnation of, doesn’t change your identity now.” Miho stated, jumping behind Eriol and slapping his back. Eriol’s eyes bulged out as his glasses were knocked off.
Everyone smothered a giggle. (Except for Yue, who never laughed.) Miho was the only one who could treat Eriol like that.
“It’s nothing much. I just have an uneasy feeling something big’s going to happen this summer,” Eriol said, his midnight blue eyes glimmering. “I’m too lazy to further inspect my prophetic skills. Still, the more unexpected things that happen, the more fun it is.”
“That’s the spirit!” Miho exclaimed, patting Eriol’s head.
“Hee hee. Who would guess that Eriol’s the older one,” stated Nakuru, settling down on the arm of Eriol’s sofa. “Yet all the same, Eriol’s too mellow and thinks too much due to his crooked personality. And he finds the oddest things amusing.”
“Yeah,” agreed Kero-chan. “When it comes to finding strange things amusing, the only other person who can out do Eriol is Tomoyo-chan.”
“All the same, Sakura has to be extra careful from now on. She already has had several close calls,” Kaho Mizuki said, fingering one of the recent letters that Sakura had sent her. Of course she trusted that Sakura would do fine, yet all the same, she had some uneasy feelings.
“I can’t believe it! It’s practically summer vacation!” Sakura exclaimed to her friends at school during lunch time. The girls had gathered to eat their lunch under the shaded tree on the grass. She fanned herself with a piece of paper. Her white summer uniform blouse clung to her back, and her hair was pulled up in a loose bun.
“The last day of school!” Chiharu exclaimed happily. “We’ll have the whole vacation ahead of us. Are you guys doing anything special?”
“Nah,” Sakura replied. “I’m going to sleep, eat good food, and rest! No more studying math for me!” With Syaoran’s help, she had aced the recent math tests and shocked her teacher with the drastic improvement. Chuckling, she noted that her brother would be impressed when he saw her report card.
“There’s going to be a soccer game this afternoon,” Rika stated. “It’s the last game of the season. Are you guys going? It’s a home game.”
“I am!” Tomoyo replied. “I was asked to videotape the whole thing. It’s going to be a hot match. The other team, Eitoukou Junior High, is supposed to be really good, but the Seijou Junior High’s soccer team is also top notch. I bet it’s going to make it the Youth Soccer Championship.”
“After all, Li-kun and Chang-kun are in it, “Naoko added.
“Sigh. They’re so cool, I think,” Chiharu
said. “Soccer players are the most awesome. I wish Takashi-kun would try
out for a sport. He’s good, too, except he’s too lazy.”
From the background, they could hear girls
shrieking, “No, basketball is more cool! Long live Akagi Tomaki!!!” Aki
bowed graciously to them.
“All the junior high girls, even from other schools are head over heels for Li-kun and Chang-kun. Isn’t Li-kun amazing, Sakura-chan?” Tomoyo asked.
Previously, Sakura would have wholeheartedly agreed, saying “Li-kun” was marvelous. Now, she couldn’t be so frank about it. Avoiding the question, she exclaimed, “Ah, the last lunch before vacation starts.” Then she fumbled in her bag. “Hoe-e!!! I forgot to bring my lunch box!”
“Oh no! Not again!” Naoko exclaimed, laughing. It wasn’t the first time.
From behind a bush, Syaoran poked Sakura, who looked around surprised. Embarrassed, he shoved out a pink and white striped lunch bag and whispered, “Here, you forgot to take it in the morning.”
“Thanks!” Sakura replied, also in a whisper, looking around to see if anyone was watching, before continuing to her friends, “Ha ha! How stupid of me. I was the one who packed it, and I forgot to bring it.”
“Yeah.” Quickly Syaoran turned around and tiptoed back to his friends.
“Ah, my favorite fried shrimps,” Sakura stated, starting to devour her lunch happily.
Meanwhile, Chiharu gazed at her strangely, placing her chin on her hand.
“Hoe-e? W-what?” Sakura stammered, sweat-dropping. She had been sure that no one saw Syaoran giving the lunch box to her.
“How come Li-kun has your lunch?” Chiharu asked.
“Huh?” Sakura replied in dismay. Oh no! She couldn’t let her friends know she was staying at Syaoran’s house.
“Yeah. It’s weird. I always see you two walking or rollerblading to school together, barely on time. And you two always meet outside the school gate to return home together, after your after-school sports is over,” Naoko interrogated suspiciously.
“Also, you two always miss the same days of school,” Rika added after a while.
“Oh! I remember when I called his house late at night, this girl answered it once,” Erika commented.
“Is there anything going on between you two? I mean, aren’t you guys entering the Best Couple Contest together?” Chiharu continued to inquire.
“I-I…” Sakura stammered, turning redder
“DAMNIT, IT’S NOTHING!” Someone shouted from way across.
Everyone dropped their food and stared that direction, mouths hanging wide open. The teacher on duty’s ear’s twitched.
Syaoran, who was standing up and shouting in rage realized that the whole school campus was staring at him. Sweat-dropping, he slowly sank back to his seat, glaring at his so called guy friends.
“Sheesh, all I asked is what’s up with you and Kinomoto-san,” one of his friends commented heart-eyed. “Why’d’you give her a lunch box? Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Girl makes lunch and gives it to boy.”
“Yeah, are you hitting on her? How far have you gotten? Is she the rather innocent type?” Aki asked. “Man, you lucky guy.”
Syaoran mumbled, “I said, shut up. It’s nothing.”
Eron stated coolly, “Well, if she’s not your girl, I guess you don’t mind if I take her.”
Glaring a little too forcibly, Syaoran quietly said, “Tsao ni ma.” His amber eyes were cold and narrowed.
The guys nudged each other asking, “What does it mean, eh?”
“Dunno. Must be a Chinese swearword. Li’s from Hong Kong, right?”
Apparently, Eron had some understanding
of Chinese swearwords for he turned rather pale and refused to talk to
Syaoran for the rest of the day.
After school, as Sakura packed her books, Eron asked, “Hey, are you coming to watch the soccer game?”
“M-me? Maybe,” Sakura stammered to Eron.
“Well see you later on at the game,” Eron said, winking and walking off. “I’m counting on you coming!”
“O-okay.” She watched him walk away casually, his usual low ponytail flicking back.
From behind Sakura’s desk, Syaoran frowned to see Sakura blush ever so slightly as she gazed at Eron. Then she turned around. “You’re in the game, too aren’t you?”
Syaoran said, “Eh? Yeah. Will you come and watch? I’m playing—as a starter.”
“I knew you’d be playing. You’re the captain of the team, anyway.” Laughing, Sakura commented, “Never knew you were the pep rallying type.”
“So, are you coming?” Syaoran questioned eagerly, despite himself.
“Are you that eager for me to come?”
Blushing, Syaoran stammered, “N-no. Why should I care if you come or not.”
Giving a significant look to Syaoran, she stated, “Well, I don’t know. I don’t really appreciate guys who shout swears out during lunch.”
Ears turning red, Syaoran said, “Well, it’s ‘cause the guys were getting on my nerves. You know. About your lunch box.”
“You too? I think the girls are starting to figure out that I’m staying at your house. It’s awful!”
After pondering, he questioned, “It doesn’t really matter though, does it? I mean, if they found out, what’s the worst thing that can happen?”
“It does matter for me!” Sakura snapped. “A girl has a reputation. Plus, I can’t stand gossiping.”
For a second, Syaoran seemed to be in deep thought. Then he stated out of nowhere, “Oh yeah. The fried shrimps were burnt.”
“Then you make our lunch from now on!” Sakura stomped off.
“Never said that they were bad, though,” mumbled Syaoran.
“Five minutes left!” called out the soccer couch. The score was 2-2, a tie. Both soccer teams had stunning athletes. Though the Seijou team was slightly better than the visiting Eitoukou team in Sakura’s opinion, she realized that there was no team cooperation between Eron and Syaoran, the two key offense players in the team. This was a great disadvantage to their side.
“Grr! Guys frustrate me so much! Why can’t they get along?” Sakura complained to her friends. Another great shooting opportunity missed because Eron refused to pass to Syaoran, who was in an open spot. The crowd of students gathered by the sunny field to watch the game was amazing. A group of cheerleading girls in their uniforms were yelling out their cheers.
“Look at the marvelous steal!” Tomoyo exclaimed, as Syaoran shot from across the field like lightening, dodged all the opponents, and snaked between two big guys to steal away the soccer ball quickly. Now, he was dribbling rapidly to the goal, twisting in and out of the rival defenders.
“Wow, he’s so fast and agile,” Naoko awed.
All the girl fans (even those from Eitoukou Junior High) were squealing, “Li-san~ !!!” Well, Syaoran did look impressive in his navy blue soccer uniform with red and white trims and white soccer cleats.
Everybody were on their toes as the climax of the game waged.
Sakura groaned. Quickly, four big opponents were heading to block Syaoran as he approached the goal. Then her eyes darted across the field. Eron was open! Still, Syaoran did not even glance in that direction.
Frustrated, Sakura leaped up from the crowd and shouted, “Syaoran, pass to Eron! He’s open!”
For a second, Syaoran’s eyes darted to Sakura, who was sitting up in the front. Then, he saw Eron waving frantically to pass at him. He was in a good position to shoot and the seconds were ticking away.
“What’s he doing?” Sakura muttered as Syaoran still refused to pass. “Syaoran! Time’s running out! There’s only one chance!”
Without second thought, Syaoran made a marvelous direct pass to Eron, who jumped up into the air and kicked the advancing ball will full might into the net. The goalie reached out, but the soccer ball skimmed over his fingertips and hissed at the corner of the net, before dropping to the floor. Everyone was silent.
The whistle blew. Then, there was an immense roaring from the students. Seijou Junior High Soccer Team had won the game, 3-2. They were undefeated once more.
Clapping in joy, Sakura jumped up and down with Tomoyo. “We won, we won!”
“Sakura-chan, you’re shoe lace…” Naoko commented.
“Huh?” Sakura stared down to see that the
white shoelace of her brand new sneaker had snapped apart. There was that
superstition about broken shoelaces being bad luck. She wasn’t superstition,
yet why did she have an uneasy feeling?
The Li Syaoran fan club girls were regretting, “Too bad he didn’t make the deciding last goal. Still, he was fantastic!”
“Great pass, Li!” The soccer coach congratulated, slapping Syaoran on the back. Everyone in turn slapped Syaoran’s back and congratulated Eron for his terrific goal.
As the soccer players changed out of their uniforms, Syaoran groaned. The slapping on his back hurt because his wounds from the Whip were not completely healed yet. Plus, earlier in the game, someone had knocked him to the ground on his back.
“Hey, what’s all that bandage on your back?” one of his friends asked. “Were you in a fight?”
“Uh… yeah…” Syaoran said, sweat dropping. “Kinda.”
“Hmm… Looks more like scratch marks to me. Oh, I get it. You pissed off some girl and she scratched you with her nails,” concluded his teammate.
“Think what you want to,” Syaoran replied. When he was changed, he found he was facing Eron. Quietly, he said, “I didn’t pass to you because I accept you. It was only for the team.”
“I know.” Eron then looked thoughtful. “And was it also for Sakura?”
Shrugging, Syaoran said, “Maybe. Anyway, you made a pretty good shot. At least I could trust that you would make the goal in.” Saying this, he eyed one of their teammate who always hogged up the ball and missed all the goals.
“Of course. After all, it’s me you’re talking about,” Eron replied grinning confidently. “You made a pretty good pass, also.”
This time Syaoran nodded. “Of course.”
“Well, good game. We have now ensured our school for the Championship.” Eron held out a hand. “For future victories.”
Shaking his hand firmly, Syaoran commented, “You know, you’re not that bad of a guy.”
Looking up with amused golden eyes, Eron replied, “You’re not that bad of a guy, either.”
“Hmm, shouldn’t you be buying me dinner? Instead of making me cook,” Syaoran asked that evening, as he stirred the spaghetti tomato and meat sauce with a wooden spoon in the kitchen. “Our soccer team won the soccer game. It was a decisive major victory.”
“Nah,” Sakura replied, tossing the salad. “I wouldn’t buy you dinner.”
“Why? Because I didn’t make the winning goal?”
“Actually, I admire you more for showing sportsmanship and cooperation for the team and passing to Eron-kun. So even if Eron made the winning goal, I’m all the more proud of you.” Sakura divided the pasta into two plates. Slyly, she noted, “Anyway that doesn’t change the fact that you shot the other two goals.”
“That’s true,” Syaoran said without hesitation.
“Ha ha. You’re so modest,” Sakura commented jokingly. Then she realized that she had been staying at Syaoran’s for over a month now, practically two. Time flew by; it was already summer.
“If you’re family was here, would you go on a trip?” Syaoran inquired suddenly.
It seemed as if he could catch every expression change on her face. How did he know she was thinking about her family? “Probably. Usually, on the first day of vacation, me, my father, and my brother celebrate by eating dinner out, and maybe doing something fun together like watching the movies or going to Tokyo.” Ruefully smiling, Sakura recalled that her father had called her the pervious day on her handphone. He said that he had attended many seminars over the past weeks, and made speeches. So far, his trip to various college boards were greatly successful. Plus, he had received an award for his educational and intellectual lecture on archeology.
Carelessly, Sakura added some seasoning the sauce. This was the first time she had been separated from her family for so long. As she stirred the tomato sauce with a spoon, her fingered touched the boiling hot pot. “Ouch!” She dropped the spoon and brought her burnt finger to her lips.
“Are you okay? Here, let me see it,” Syaoran said, holding her burnt finger.
“I-it’s okay!” Sakura stammered, trying to keep her hand from shaking. How unlike him to hold it so gently, with that little worried frown on his face. It made her stomach giddy.
Gently, he blew on her burnt finger. “Does
it hurt? Silly, you should be more careful. Go set the table. I’ll finish
Nodding, Sakura walked to the table… Syaoran… He was so gentle and caring at times…
Bringing the steaming dishes, Syaoran declared, “I know! For a change from home cooking, I’ll buy you dinner next time. For giving good advise at the soccer game.”
“Really?” Clapping her hands together, she exclaimed, “At a five star restaurant?”
“Sure,” Syaoran said, smiling slightly to see Sakura so excited.
“Hmm… And something fun afterwards,” Sakura decided.
“All right. What ever you want.”
“Promise!” Sakura stuck out her pinkie finger at Syaoran, who stared back, a little befuddled.
Hesitantly, he held out his own pinkie, crossing it with Sakura’s. At strange times, he often caught wistful, sad expression on Sakura’s face. Those were the moments that Sakura thought that no one was watching, when she was alone. The frank, almost childish delight on her face was all that he could ask for the moment.
“What? Why are you staring at me like that?” Sakura asked as she saw Syaoran’s absorbed amber eyes fixed on her, blushing the color of her tomato sauce spaghetti after a while. “Is their spaghetti sauce on my face?”
After a while, Syaoran said, “You’re really like a child, aren’t you?”
“Hoe-e. That’s an insult isn’t it?” Sakura replied in mock anger.
As she twisted her fork in the pasta, Sakura thought… I think Syaoran’s being nice because he noticed I was missing my family a little. Could he have been worrying, the slightest bit? How did he know what I was thinking? I don’t think it was that noticeable. All the same, it’s really considerate of him… He always knows what I want. She gazed out the window. Outside, it was becoming dusky.
Then she saw a flock of raven black crows pass by, cawing and screeching uncannily. There were thirteen of them. Shrugging it aside, Sakura looked away. Yet, when she saw the frowning expression on Syaoran’s face as he looked outside, she felt the slightest bit uneasy and her good mood was spoiled.
“It’s so hot,” groaned Sakura, reaching for a piece of paper to fan herself with the next afternoon. “What a great way to spend vacation, being boiled to death. She reached for the fruit bowl full of ripe, luscious green grapes.
“You’re the one who went out the meet your friends in this awful weather,” Syaoran replied, popping a grape into his mouth, relishing the tart, sweet juice which felt cool down his throat. Luckily, Sakura had done the groceries on the way back.
“At least the movie theater was air-conditioned,” Sakura stated. “You should have come, too.”
“I had other things to do. And I wouldn’t wanna watch some silly romantic comedy movie with a bunch of giggling girls.” Syaoran rolled up the sleeves of his t-shirt, revealing his muscular arms.
“I can’t believe I’m already sick of summer. You really should fix your air-conditioner. Wait, I have an idea!” Sakura exclaimed.
Critically, Syaoran raised his eyebrow as Sakura whipped out her staff and card. Minutes later, they cooled under the light breeze of the Windy.
Whistling, Syaoran commented, “Smart.”
That evening they lounged around watching TV, when the phone rang.
“What’s wrong with you?” Syaoran asked. “You’re really jumpy these days.”
“Oh, nothing. I’ll get the phone.” From her position on the sofa, Sakura reached over for the phone. Clearing her throat, she said, “Hello? Kinomoto Sakura speaking.”
“Sakura-chan?” came a familiar voice.
“Meirin-chan? Sakura exclaimed. “Wow, it’s been ages since I heard from you! How are you there in Hong Kong? Are you guys on summer vacation, also?”
“Huh? Oh yeah. I’m fine. Summer vacation starts next week for us.” Meirin fiddled with her jet black hair. She sounded rather distant.
“Oh. Umm… are you okay? You sound… I don’t know… rather worried about something,” Sakura commented, rather concerned. Meirin wasn’t as energetic and bouncy as usual.
“Sorry. It’s just… well…” Meirin trailed off. “So, how are things there? No big news or anything?”
“Not really. Since you left, we captured… the Unicorn card, the Whip card, and I made the Heal card. Oh, and I still couldn’t catch the Phantom card, but it’s sealed to the theater basement, anyway. There’s no news these days. Why?”
“If there’s no big news, I guess it’s all right,” Meirin said into the phone, heaving a long sigh.
“Is something the matter?”
Finally, Meirin blurted out, “Have you heard anything about the Kaitou Magician over there?”
“Not really. He sent us a package with the Five Force Scroll, a handcuff, and a map once. But we haven’t heard from him since. Why, did something happen to him?” Sakura’s heart skipped a beat. The anxiety in Meirin’s voice was poorly concealed, and all sorts of terrible thoughts fled into her mind, especially remembering what she saw in the Mirror of Truth.
“Not yet. I’m just worried.” Meirin fingered a silver wire like bracelet around her wrist. “Actually, the reason I’m asking is because he appeared in Hong Kong for a while. The police were on his track and almost caught him. But he disappeared. So I’m just wondering if he’s safely in Japan now.”
“Oh.” Sakura was silent.
A little more brightly, Meirin added, “Well, there’s a saying that no new is good news. I’m sure nothing bad happened. Sorry for calling you so suddenly. It’s not like I care about what happens to a thief, yet still it’s kinda nerve wrecking. I mean, he knows all about us. If he gets caught by the police, who knows? Our secret may be out for the world. Don’t worry about it.”
“Well, no problem. It was good hearing from you again, Meirin-chan. Do you wanna talk to Syaoran?”
“No. It’s okay. Just send him my greetings. And tell him that the girls in Hong Kong miss him. Ho ho… Bye! Keep safe, and try to stay out of trouble!”
“Bye…” Sakura placed the phone back in the receiver. Why was she getting a more and more uneasy feeling?
“Are you worrying about that thief?” Syaoran asked. “He knows how to take care of himself.”
“Still, he’s only human.” No news was good news, right? Frowning, Sakura remembered how Kaitou-kun had returned not only her diamond necklace as well as the star sapphire ring. He was not a bad person, despite the fact that he was a thief.
Taking the television remote control, Syaoran absentmindedly flipped through the channels.
“Wait, stop!” Sakura said. “Let’s watch the evening news.”
“The news?” Syaoran guffawed. Suddenly, he turned his full attention to the screen.
The reported was saying, “The Kaitou Magician has been spotted in Japan in the past few days. Last week, he was almost captured by the Hong Kong police force. However, living up to his name as a magician, he disappeared, though barely. The Hong Kong police ensure that he couldn’t escape much longer. The Japan police force are on his track at this moment, and the Head of the Police Department reassures us that the catching of this notorious thief of the night is a matter of time. He quoted, “No matter what people say, the Kaitou Magician is only a human. He has his limits and cannot escape us much longer. We, the Japanese police force, are hot on the Kaitou’s track, and have come up with an excellent government top-secret devise and plot to capture the treacherous scoundrel who so often escaped our grasps…”
Holding up the remote control, Sakura clicked off the television.
“What’d’you do that for?” Syaoran asked.
“I can’t bear to watch it. When I didn’t know Kaitou-kun, it didn’t matter, but I can’t just see someone I know portrayed on the news like that. It’s like a mouse trap or something!” Sakura stated.
“Don’t worry too much about it,” Syaoran
reassured, though he himself felt that uneasy feeling inside him grow.
“It takes ages of your life if you don’t get sufficient sleep,” Syaoran warned, yawning, by the time it was midnight. Stubbornly, Sakura had sat up alert for hours, for no reason at all.
Bolting up from her chair, Sakura exclaimed, “Do you hear that?”
“Shh. Listen.” Syaoran and Sakura both sat still, listening.
“It’s the sound of… sirens?” Syaoran said, leaning towards the window. “Probably just passing by.”
“No. It’s coming nearer. In this direction. It’s freaky.” Nerve wrecking shivers ran down her spine.
“Don’t listen to it,” Syaoran advised, ignoring the warning signals in his head.
With her hands, she blocked her ears of the sound. Finally, she stood up. “I can’t stand it. I’m gonna see what’s happening.” Walking up to the sliding glass doors leading to the balcony, Sakura drew open the curtains and slid open the door. A cold gust of wind blew in. The wailing sirens rang into the night, even louder than before. Tentatively, Sakura stepped onto the balcony. There was a thud. A figure dressed all in black landed on the railings of the apartment balcony.
Gasping, Sakura stammered, “You… you…”
The young man looked up and grinned. He put up a gloved finger to his lips and said, “Shh.”
Then, he dropped down onto the balcony, and looked down at the bottom of the apartment. The building was surrounded by police cars. Policemen flocked the place, shouting at each other. Many of their neighbors had wakened and looked out the window, puzzled.
“Kaitou-kun? What are you doing here?” Sakura whispered.
“It’s a long story. Sorry, I didn’t mean to come here. Those bags are still chasing me,” the Kaitou Magician replied, indicating the police. “I’m leaving. Just need to catch my breath.”
“Why don’t you come in?” Sakura asked. “You look drop-dead tired.”
“No, it’s okay,” he replied. “Gotta escape.”
“You can’t, this apartment’s flocked with security,” Syaoran stated in a matter of fact way, as he walked up to the sliding door.
Cursing under his breath, the Kaitou Magician ran inside the house to the kitchen window and looked outside. Police cars flocked beneath. Then, he ran over to the window facing the other direction. More police. He could hear their voices distinctly shouting, and footsteps echoing in the hallways beneath that floor. They were checking each house.
Slumping on the floor, Kaitou Magician pressed his forehead against his head. “Shit. How do they always know where I am? No matter where I hide, they always find me.” He fingered a locket around his neck. Then his brain clicked. “No wonder…” Glancing around with frantic eyes, he murmured, “Where can I run to now?”
“Kaitou-kun? You can stay here. We’ll hide you,” Sakura said.
“We will?” asked Syaoran, raising an eyebrow. Sakura nudged him hard.
“That’s impossible. The cops are checking each house. They’ll find me. You guys will just get in trouble,” Kaitou replied harshly.
“You forget. I can use the Invisible so that they can’t see you, or I can make you small and hide you in my pocket. There’s many options,” Sakura stated.
“No. You don’t understand. Even though they can’t see me, they’ll be able to locate me. They installed a microchip on me, so that they can trace me where ever I go with their computer system,” the thief replied. Slowly he stood up. For a second, he grimaced and toppled over. His hand flew to his right chest, where a piercing pain shot through his body.
“Kaitou-kun!” What’s the matter?” Sakura exclaimed. Under the better light, she could see that his face was placid and that a frown creased his smooth forehead. He looked more tired than usual, though dark glasses covered his eyes.
“N-nothing.” The young man removed his hand from his chest. His black shirt was wet.
“You’re bleeding! Were you wounded?”
“I guess I was shot. Several days ago. It was by pure clumsiness in my part.”
“You guess you were shot? You can’t go like that!” Sakura uttered in shock.
“They’ll find me here if I don’t hurry. They’ve got a microchip filed on me, similar to the one I attached to Meirin, but ten times more advanced,” the Kaitou Magician replied. “They can trace my every movement.”
“That’s not a problem,” Syaoran responded. “How stupid of me not to think of it sooner.” From his pocket, he drew out several ward papers, then threw them out to all around the room. “Guard! Okay. Now this room is warded. Nothing can penetrate into this room. Not even computer devises. The police won’t be able to trace you. Now relax. You’re safe for the while.”
There was a loud banging on the front door. The police were checking each room now. To Sakura, Syaoran said, “You hide him. I’ll talk to the police.”
Nodding, Sakura led Kaitou into another
Another pounding on the door came. Pretending to yawn, Syaoran opened the door. Two large men in police suits stood in front of the door, with their arms folded.
With half shut eyes, Syaoran mumbled, “Whoisit?”
Showing their police warrants, they replied, “We’re the police force. From our data, we found that the Kaitou Magician headed in this direction. In fact, we came to believe that he is in this building, right now. We are trying to locate this thief, and would highly appreciate your cooperation. Do you live here alone?”
“Me? Uh… I live with… uh… my sister!” Syaoran blurted out.
“No parents?” A man asked, raising an eyebrow. “May we search the place?”
“That would not be necessary. There are only two people in this house. Me and my sister.”
“Yes, but the Kaitou Magician is very tricky. He may be hiding. Believe me, this is for the safety of the citizens.” The two policemen entered the house and began searching the rooms.
Approaching Sakura’s room, the police asked, “Anyone in there?”
Coming out of her room with round innocent eyes, Sakura asked, “I heard noises. What’s the matter?”
“You’re the only one in there? You must be his sister,” the man replied, nodding to Syaoran.
“Sister? Uh… yeah! I’m his sister,” Sakura said. Then taking Syaoran’s arms, she whined, “Onii-chan… I’m scared. Who are these big scary men?”
“They’ll be gone soon,” Syaoran replied, giving a significant look to the two men.
Finally, one of the men came out of the last room and stated, “No one. Strange. I swear the red dot indicated to this room. The Chief Officer said that he attached a microchip on the Kaitou Magician, so all we have to do is follow the red dot. But the dot completely disappeared from the screen.” He held up his mini computer to his comrade, who shrugged.
“Well, sorry to disturb you two,” the other
man said. “Remember, if you have the slightest clue to where the Kaitou
is, report to us at once.”
After they left, Sakura and Syaoran both heaved a sigh of relief. Kaitou Magician reappeared. Thanks to the Invisible card, he had comfortably just sat on the couch, watching the police come and go.
He said in a scratchy voice. “I guess you guys saved me. I’ll pay back one day. I’ll leave now.”
“No! The police are still out there. And you’re hurt. Not to mention, while you’re in here, you’re safe since the police’s special tracking equipment doesn’t pass through, thanks to Syaoran’s magic,” Sakura said.
“Look, I don’t need to be looked after, all right? I know how to take care of myself. Don’t butt into other people’s affairs!” Kaitou Magician snapped.
“See, I told you,” muttered Syaoran.
“Here, let me at least try to look at your wound,” Sakura said, taking out the Heal card.
“Do what you want,” Kaitou mumbled, as
Sakura began to focus her powers.
After a while, Sakura sighed in disappointed, putting down the Heal. “I’m sorry. I can’t do much. The bullets embedded beneath your flesh. I think it barely missed your heart. I don’t have enough powers to handle a gun shot.”
“It’s all right,” Kaitou replied reassuringly. “It doesn’t hurt as much as before.”
“Well, I think while you’re here, we deserve an explanation,” Syaoran stated, leaning back against the couch and crossing his legs. “Why are you in this kind of scrape, anyway, Kaitou Magician, the genius thief? What ever happened since you left Japan?”
“Not that much,” muttered Kaitou. “I went to Europe to take care of some business. Then I went to Hong Kong.”
“Hong Kong? What ever would you do there?” Syaoran asked in disbelief.
“You know I’m collecting the Five Force Treasures, right? I found the diamond necklace, and the sapphire ring,” he said. As he said this, he swept out an elegant hand. The necklace slid from Sakura’s neck onto his spread palm, while Syaoran’s ring slipped off it’s chain and plopped on top of that. Fondly, he fingered the jewels. “And the Mirror of Truth is stored away in a safe place. The fourth treasure to find was the Li Clan Sword.” He gave a significant look to Syaoran.
“But why would you go to Hong Kong for that? Syaoran-kun has the sword right here in Japan,” Sakura said.
“Wrong.” Grinning slowly, the Kaitou Magician gazed directly at Syaoran through his dark sunglasses. The silver cross earring on his left ear gleamed. “You sent that sword back to Hong Kong with Meirin, didn’t you?”
“Eh? H-how’d’you know that?” Syaoran exclaimed. That had been a Li Clan secret!
“But what about the sword you use these days?” Sakura asked.
“It’s just a temporary replacement. The real Five Force Sword was sent back to Hong Kong with Meirin. The Great Elder said he wanted to examine it,” Syaoran replied.
“Wow, and Kaitou-kun, you knew that Syaoran sent the sword back to Hong Kong? You’re amazing,” Sakura awed.
“I know,” Kaitou grinned, starting to look as confident and self-assured as usual, flicking back some loose strands of bangs from his tousled, spiked hair. Some time ago in the chase, he had lost his long flowing midnight black cloak. His sleeveless black shirt had a tear where the gun penetrated into his left chest. As usual though, he looked impressive. “Anyway, continuing with my story, I went to Hong Kong. I could locate the Li main house easily, thanks to the microchip I attached onto Meirin’s bracelet. Yet, it turned out that the little Chinese girl wouldn’t give up the sword so easily. I had some trouble, to put it mildly.”
Sakura giggled, picturing what the “mild trouble” would be. After all, she knew Meirin’s stubbornness.
Clearing his throat as if recalling something, Kaitou Magician continued, “Well, I guess I was being too careless. About a week ago, I had a close scrape with the Hong Kong police. I think that’s when they attached the detecting microchip. They were pointing a strange looking devise at me. I didn’t feel anything when they shot it off, but I guess I was being too careless. I’ve been chased ever since then.”
“How did they attach the microchip on you? Can’t you get it off?” Sakura inquired.
“I don’t know.” Tentatively, he unhooked a locket hanging from a chain around his neck. “The microchip’s attached to the side of this locket. It’s the newest top model, TMI-305, and they can locate all my movement with their computer program devise. And I can’t remove the microchip without the police’s special top secret equipment, which is stored away safely in the Police Headquarters in Tokyo.”
Syaoran asked bluntly, “Then why don’t you just throw that locket away. Into a river or something.”
Gazing down at the silver oval locket with strange engravings, he clutched it tightly. “I can’t. It’s my… It’s my last possession that is solely related to my identity. Without it, I’m losing the last key to who I really am. Plus…” Kaitou fingered a round circular ruby embedded into the middle of the front of the locket.
“Thinking about it, so far, you’ve located the first 4 treasures. Amamiya’s diamond, Li’s sword, Mizuki’s mirror, and Reed’s sapphire. What about the last one? The ruby earrings?” Sakura asked.
“That’s my point. My ultimate goal is to find the five treasures, don’t ask me why. I’ve found the first four. The ruby in the setting of my locket might be the ruby from the earrings,” Kaitou replied, gazing down at the pigeon’s blood red globular ruby embedded into the center of the white gold locket.
“But, it’s only one ruby, and not even an earring,” Syaoran pointed out.
“It could be one side of the ruby earring embedded in a new setting over the years,” Kaitou replied. “I can’t take any chances. Even if I throw this locket away, they’ll locate it through the microchip devise. And they’ll have one more clue towards my identification.”
“Oh. I’m kinda starting to understand the situation now,” Sakura mused. “So then what happened after you went to Hong Kong?”
“Well, once I figured the police were on my track, I knew I had to get out of Hong Kong. Meirin was really helpful in smuggling me out. I never knew that the Li’s had that much influential power in the government, high officials and such,” the thief continued.
“Ha, that,” Syaoran commented. “It’s ‘cause our family knows that we play with dangerous stuff. It’s always safe to have good ties with high officials, so the Li clan worked hard to become a prominent family name in Hong Kong.”
“That makes sense,” Kaitou-kun was aware of how he had two identities. And his normal face identity had to try hard to keep a reputable name. He continued more bitterly, “Anyway, I arrived in Japan several days ago thinking I’ll be safe. But, I was immediately surrounded by the Japan police force. At that time, I wasn’t aware of their special technological programming. They were ten times more attentive than usual. For the first time in my life as a thief I felt desperate, scared, frightened. So alone, like a tiny animal chased by numerous merciless predators. No matter where I ran to, they always seemed to know where I was going. Then, I missed my footing. They were aiming guns at me, shooting consecutively. Someone shot me in the chest. They almost caught me that time.” There had been pain, harsher, more vivid than anything he had ever experienced, which included falling off 100 foot building, crashing through unbreakable glass, and beaten black and blue with an iron rod. But as usual, he had managed to scrape out of trouble.
Staring with sad ocean green eyes, Sakura sympathetically patted Kaitou’s shoulder. He was no different from her. If he was a normal boy, he would be going to school right now, be in summer vacation with his family, or at least be safe in bed, sleeping. “You’re safe here, at least for the moment. You can stay here as long as you want to.”
“Why are you doing all this for me?” Kaitou Magician asked in disbelief. Could this girl actually be feeling… sympathy for him?
“Because I want to,” Sakura replied firmly.
I wonder if Kaitou-kun slept well, Sakura thought as she entered the living room where Kaitou Magician had slept on the sofa. “Where are you going?”
“Eh?” Kaitou Magician was half way out the window. “None of your business. I’m grateful that you helped me yesterday, but I need to go my own way. I won’t bother you guys any more.”
“It’s dangerous. You’re injured and they can track you easily.”
“That’s no problem,” the thief replied, yet he was clutching his upper left chest where the deep wound was embedded with a bullet. He found it hard to breath, as if his lungs were being torn apart.
“Stay. Please.” Sakura mentioned, “Plus,
breakfast is ready… Actually more like lunch since you slept in so late,
“Breakfast?” His ears perked. “Hmm… Well, maybe I’ll stay a couple more hours.” Kaitou-kun climbed back into the room. In result, various things clattered out of the pocket of his black pants. He sweat-dropped.
“Hey! That’s my new Sony discman! And my Motorola handphone! And the digital waterproof watch I bought in New York, my silver chain, and … hair gel?” Syaoran exclaimed in outrage.
Running a finger through his spiked light colored hair, Kaitou Magician threw back his head and laughed, “Ha ha ha… I ran out of hair gel. A magician must always keep a respectable appearance.” He adjusted his sunglasses on the bridge of his nose, ignoring Syaoran’s wrath as he mumbled, “you call that respectable?”
On a side note, Sakura asked, “Do you always sleep with your sunglasses on?”
Blinking, Kaitou-kun looked around and straightened his sunglasses. “It’s the first I slept in a week. And yeah, I wear my sunglasses 24/7 when I’m around other people.” He eyed the food set in front of him, before picking up the fork and devouring it.
“Umghf.” Kaitou-kun wolfed the hotcakes drenched in maple syrup. “This is the best thing I’ve eaten in ages.” After the fifth serving, he started slowing down. “Oh yeah. I just noticed. Why are you two living with each other? Ha, it’s like a married couple or something.”
Blushing, Sakura stammered, “Hoe-e… I-It’s nothing like that. It’s just that my father’s away on a 2 month seminar touring all of Japan, and my brother’s spending a semester abroad, studying in England. So, I’m staying with Syaoran because it’s most convenient when there’s danger.”
“I see,” Kaitou-kun replied, raising an eyebrow. “Meirin told me that you two have some sorta complex against each other. She told me that you two are worse than back in elementary school, and that she worries about how you guys will ever manage together.”
“We’ve been managing fine, and well, seems like you had plenty of time to discuss about other people’s affairs with Meirin while being chased by the whole Hong Kong police force,” Syaoran muttered dryly.
“You have a cute relative. I wouldn’t have been able to escape from Hong Kong without her help.”
“Meirin? Cute? Helpful? Ha.” Suspiciously, Syaoran examined Kaitou’s tone and expression and couldn’t draw much from it. True to his name, Kaitou had a magician’s poker face when he wanted to and a magician’s charm, as well.
Taking out his portable laptop computer, Kaitou Magician began to type in several codes, beginning elaborate research once more.
“Oh no!” Sakura exclaimed suddenly, leaping up from her chair. “I left something at school!”
“It’s vacation now. School’s closed. Can’t you get it after summer break?” Syaoran asked.
“No, I need to get it. I’ll just run over to school and pick it up, all right. You two stay here, okay?” Sakura ran out of the apartment.
Syaoran and Kaitou Magician faced each other with evil looks, now that Sakura wasn’t there to control them.
Hmm… the school it so empty, Sakura thought as she leaped over the school gates. Good thing I always liked gymnastics. Or else it would be harder to enter the school.
Quickly, she jogged over to the old theater. She was pretty sure she left her thing in her private locker in the backstage auditorium. Then, she saw someone with long wavy violet hair pulled up into two high pigtails. “Tomoyo-chan? What are you doing here?”
“Sakura-chan!” Tomoyo waved. “I wanted to work on the costumes for ‘Star-Crossed’ over the vacation, so I was just picking up something. I got the keys to enter from the front guardian. You?”
“Oh. I jumped over the gates. I need to pick up something from my locker. It won't take long.”
“Really? I’ll wait for you by the front
gates,” Tomoyo replied, her eyes twinkling. “I do hope there’s opportunities
to tape Sakura-chan this vacation!” Then she gave out a funny little sigh.
“Oh yeah. But I have to go away for several days with my mother for some
business. How awful, not getting to see Sakura-chan for days.”
Now, it should be in here... Sakura fumbled through her other stuff her locker. “A ha! Found it!” Sakura drew out a book. Inside it was the picture of her mother and Li Ryuuren, for the school production, Phantom of the Opera. Nadeshiko shined out of the picture with radiant forest green eyes. Smiling, Sakura drew it to her heart.
Though she didn’t want to think of it, she became aware that her own school production of “Star-Crossed,” was approaching rapidly after summer vacation. Their director teacher had told them to completely memorize their parts over the break.
Then she frowned. Unknowingly, she walked out of the locker room and towards the section leading to the closed basement door. Suddenly, she heard footsteps heading her way. Her heart jumped as she turned around the corner.
“Eron-kun?!” Sakura exclaimed as the figure emerged from the shadows. How strange, meeting so many people at school during vacation. For some reason though, it seemed as if she had caught Chang Eron off guard.
“Sakura?” Eron flicked back his dark bluish hair held back in a slender ponytail. He put on his most charming grin as he regained composure. “Why, I’m so glad to see you! I haven’t seen you since the soccer game. I do hope we get to meet more often over the summer.”
Smiling, Sakura replied, “Of course we will. We’ll all have heaps of fun this vacation.”
“Will we?” Eron whispered, stepping closer to her. It seemed as his golden flecked hazel eyes could penetrate through her. What was her feelings for this boy? She liked him. She liked him a lot. He was nice, athletic, good looking, and had perfect manners. After her discouraging talk with Syaoran that winter, she had looked up to Eron even more.
Eron’s handsome face was close to hers. Sakura shivered. It’s because I’m just wearing a tank top and cutoffs. Yet, though it was late afternoon, it was still hot outside. It’s not because I feel uneasy. Though she wanted to step away Eron was blocking the pathway out. Her heart pounded faster as she felt his breath tickling her neck.
Shaking his head, Eron stepped back. Smiling, he commented, “You’re wearing the perfume I gave you for your birthday. It smells nice on you.”
“Huh? T-thanks…” Sakura blushed furiously. Though it sounded crazy, for a second, she thought that he was going to kiss her.
“Well, see you around, Sakura.” Eron waved
and walked out of the auditorium.
“What took you so long?” demanded Erika, flipping back her shoulder length wavy hair as Eron emerged from the Seijou Junior High School. “I’ve been standing here for ages.”
“Sorry, Erika,” Eron murmured demurely.
“Our plan was carried out successfully though.” He brushed his lips with
his finger. Sakura had gazed up at him with the most transparent emerald
eyes. She looked so innocent and naïve, that he wanted to…
“Earth to it, Eron. I have top news,” Erika declared, her hazel gold eyes twinkling amusedly.
“What is it?”
Flipping out her handphone, Erika dialed a number. Then she said, “Hello? Is this the Police Station?” Grinning slowly, she continued, “From a reliable source, I happen to know where the Kaitou Magician is right now.”
After she hung up, Eron slapped her shoulder. “Ooh, getting tricky, aren’t you, sister?” They broke out laughing. “Double trouble this summer.”
“Why isn’t she coming back?” Syaoran shouted, pacing back and forth around the living room, then plopping onto the couch. “What if something happened, and the Dark Ones sent out another force? Last time was bad enough, and this time, I won’t be there to protect her.”
In a bored tone, Kaitou Magician replied without taking an eye off his laptop screen, “Cool it, for heaven’s sake. She’ll come back. She’s a girl. Girl’s take a long time doing things.” Then with a wicked gleam under his sunglasses, he commented, “Of course, she could be doing other things. Ahem.”
“What are you implying?” Syaoran asked, slamming his fist on the table next to the laptop.
“Oh, nothing. Soooooo, what do you two do around, living together?” Kaitou placed his chin on his palm and gazed at Syaoran for the first time in hours.
“What do you think?” Then, Syaoran realized that was the wrong thing to say. On Kaitou’s expression was clearly written the worst things possible. Groaning, Syaoran said, “No, I mean we just get on with our daily life.”
All of a sudden, his powers became alert. It seemed as if a strong power had been packed tightly, and then burst open.
“What’s the matter?” Kaitou Magician asked.
“A long shielded force has broken free,” Syaoran replied mysteriously.
Again, Sakura felt stifling hot after Eron left the auditorium. Like a magnet, she felt her hand being drawn to the door knob of the basement of the old theater. To her surprise, it wasn’t locked and it turned. Slowly, the door creaked open.
Then, an unearthly shrieking was heard and a figureless dark form materialized in the air and burst out from the basement, surrounding Sakura. A deathly cold gust swept over her.
The Phantom had finally broken the seal that Nadeshiko and Ryuuren had placed on it more than twenty years ago, to keep the dark force in the basement. Now, it was set loose.
Without thinking clearly, Sakura screamed and began running out of the old theater with all her might.
She didn’t stop until she was out in the open again. Deftly, she leapt over the school gateway, where Tomoyo was waiting. Finally, she rested, panting heavily.
“Are you all right, Sakura-chan? Did something happen?” Tomoyo asked with concerned ocean blue eyes.
“I-I’m fine,” Sakura replied, and gazed up to the sky. To her surprise, the sun was already setting. “Oh no! I’ve been gone for ages.”
Entering the Li apartment, Sakura slipped off her sandals and walked into the living room. “Sorry I took so long…” Then she sweat-dropped. The living room was a mess, with scattered books and papers everywhere. The furniture was displaced. Syaoran and Kaitou-kun sat at opposite ends of each other, folding their arms and refused to look in each other’s direction. Obviously there had been a fight.
Sighing, Sakura began picking up the books and papers. “Syaoran, don’t you get along with anyone?”
“Apparently not with him,” Syaoran answered, glaring at Kaitou Magician, who in return stuck out his tongue at him. Yet, it had been fun to punch someone for once. Of course, he had received blows too. “So did you get the thing you’re looking for?”
“Yeah.” She slipped out of her pocket the photo.
Picking up the picture of Ryuuren and Nadeshiko, Syaoran asked, “You went to school just to get this?”
“Well, yes. It’s an important picture to me,” Sakura replied defiantly.
“Hmm, it took an awful long time just getting a photo,” Kaitou-kun commented mischievously. “Why don’t you insure my bet with Li. It’s 10,000 yen for me if you were meeting someone, specifically of the opposite sex, and 10,000 yen more it you were doing *something* with that person.”
Glaring furiously as Kaitou-kun, Sakura stomped up to him and shouted, “What are you hinting?!”
“Why are you blushing? Are you recalling something?” Kaitou goaded.
Sakura realized that she was remembering Eron’s intense golden eyes as he cornered her in the backstage. How she thought that he might kiss her, and how his breath tickled her neck as he told her perfume smelled nice. Turning even more red, Sakura punched Kaitou-kun’s shoulder and stated, “Shut up! What do you take me for?”
“Oww!!! My chest,” Kaitou-kun cringed over, gripping his left chest, where the bullet shot through.
“Oh my gosh! I’m sorry Kaitou-kun, I forgot you were injured!” Sakura bent over, concerned.
Then grinning slyly, he poked her side, making her squeal, and stated, “Tricked ya! He he. Whoever you met must affect you a lot. Let me guess, did he say your name in a low, suave way? And tell you your perfume smelled nice? Were you in a dark surrounding?”
“Grr…” Sakura threw a cushion at the thief’s face, who was still laughing. She sat down on the floor, hugging her knees, trying to stop blushing. Humph. I can’t believe this thief is really a Top 20 Wanted person. He’s so carefree, joking, and lighthearted, like a normal person. And he always hits the nail when he teases. I don’t like it at all.
From behind her, Syaoran rolled off the couch and sat next to her on the floor. “You met Chang Eron.”
“Hoe?” Sakura looked straight up, startled. It wasn’t a question or an accusation. It was a statement. She didn’t have to lie or deny it, yet why did she feel guilty? She couldn’t look at Syaoran in the eye. “Yes. I did, in the old theater. It was by chance.”
“Oh.” The expression on Syaoran’s face was mild and indifferent.
What’s with the ‘oh’? Sakura thought, tickled. And how did he know I saw Eron-kun? Does he even care at all? For some strange reason, Sakura wished that Syaoran did care.
Then Kaitou Magician frowned, as he gazed at the blinking red lights on his laptop screen. “Police. More police are heading this way.”
“But why? They checked yesterday,” Sakura said.
“Don’t ask me why. They’re really out to catch me this time.” Kaitou Magician stood up.
“They’ve been chasing you for months now,” Syaoran commented. “Why are they so keen on your track all of a sudden. You haven’t stolen much these days, anyway.”
Shaking his head, Kaitou replied, “It’s because recently, someone filed a suit against me. He’s damn rich and has lots of influential power. And the police finally have enough financing to support all the new, advanced technological equipment to track me.”
“Who’s this guy filing against you?”
Trying to recall the name, Kaitou murmured, “Ki… Kino… I don’t remember. Anyway, he was the legal owner of the Mirror of Truth, don’t tell me how he got his hands on it. He had temporarily lent it to the museum. Then I stole it. He wants it back, since the Mirror of Truth is a priceless heirloom, dating back to the time of the fair Princess Rosa. While for me, it’s one of the Five Treasures, so I must keep it.”
“Whew, what a scrape you’re in,” Syaoran muttered.
“I think I’ve been staying here too long. I really have to leave now,” Kaitou Magician stated. He fingered the oval white gold locket hanging around his neck on a silver ball chain. For a second he wavered as he felt a wave of nausea. Again, it was hard to breathe, as the bullet in his chest felt like an iron stake embedded in it. Damn it. Not now. When he first was shot, he really thought that he would die. Yet, over the past few days, he could bear with it. It wasn’t getting better and it hurt like hell, yet he had to put up with it. Yesterday, when Sakura had used the Heal on him, it had really felt better. Now, once again his breath came out in jerks. With a bare hand, he clutched his left chest, panting because every movement caused ripping pain. Then, he gazed down at his hand. It was streaked with blood. His wound was bleeding again. Yet, he had to leave.
“Kaitou-kun, you have to go to a hospital. You can’t go around with a bullet embedded in you. You’ll be dead meat under the police,” Sakura said.
“Are you crazy? Especially with this microchip on me, they’ll locate me in the hospital in no time. Then I really will be dead meat.”
“Aren’t you supposed to be a genius at disguising?” Sakura questioned.
“Yeah, but they’ll still locate me, whatever disguise I’m in, through this microchip. Don’t you understand the power of technology?”
“Then give me the locket. Isn’t that the problem? The microchip is attached to the locket, but you can’t dislocate it or throw it away, so you can’t move around freely,” Sakura stated holding out a hand. “You can trust me. I’ll keep it safe. And you can go to the hospital.”
“It’s not that I don’t trust you to keep it safe. I mean, I trusted you two with the diamond necklace and the sapphire ring. But you really don’t understand how serious this situation is, involving the police, government, and high officials. I’m a Top 20 Wanted thief! For me, this whole this is a joke because I, nor anyone else cares or worries crap about me, but for someone like you, it’s grave business,” Kaitou explained in exasperation.
“He’s right about this being grave business,”
Syaoran confirmed. “Mother once told me to never meddle with high officials.
It’s best for them to be clueless about what goes on in the magician’s
side of the world.”
With a determined look on her face, which Syaoran learned long ago appeared only when she was really going to do what she had in mind, Sakura stated, “Look, I know what I’m talking about. If you go out in this state, Kaitou-kun, you’ll be caught under 24 hours. With that microchip whatever stuff. And if you’re caught, lets look at things in a bigger scale. Eventually, the story of how you’re stealing the Five Force Treasures will come out. At best, they’ll rest with that. At worst, the whole story behind the Five Forces Treasures, about all the magicians, about the people with special powers, about us… it will all collapse. The whole world will know about it. Then what will happen? It will cause panic. It will become harder to fight the Dark Ones. The Dark Ones will become all the more powerful, feeding on the fear of the people for the ultimate destruction.”
Sakura paused, looking at the young man dressed in stark black with grave emerald eyes. “But, if you give the locket to me, you will be pretty much free to go to the hospital and number one, treat your wound. Don’t you value your life? Meanwhile, I will keep the locket safe.”
“Even if the locket is safe, you won’t be safe! The police…” Kaitou Magician was cut off.
“The police won’t be able to track me. I can make sure of that. Believe me, this isn’t only for you, Kaitou-kun. It’s for all of us. Kero-chan told me that the Five Force Treasure hold something important for me. I need them as much as you do. And if the ruby on this locket is indeed related to the one that the Dark Ones’ ancestor had, then it’s important to me, too.”
“It’s not as easy as you make it sound,” Kaitou-kun mumbled. Staring at the indicators on his computer screen, he stated, “Well, they’re here to chase me once more.”
“Give it,” Sakura said, holding out her hand. “Don’t worry, all right? Just go to the hospital, right away.” She began leading Kaitou-kun to the doorway of the apartment.
Sighing, Kaitou Magician dropped the necklace onto Sakura’s opened palm.
“Do you really know what you’re getting yourself into?” Syaoran demanded.
“Yes,” Sakura replied shortly. To Katiou Magician, she dropped some change into his hand. “You’re free to walk out the door now. Take a taxi and go straight to the best hospital, all right?”
“Yeah, and tell the doctors that someone shot me with a gun?” Kaitou’s mouth twitched, holding back an ironic laughter.
“You’re the thief. You make the lies,” Sakura told him brightly.
For a while, Kaitou-kun stared at Sakura in disbelief. He, the lone Thief of the Night, who worked independently and freely, unbound by any chains of social contact. Never had he expected to receive help. Especially from a girl like this. Finally, he croaked, “T-thanks.” A rusty word that was so long unused for him. Feeling gratitude… What a strange emotion.
The thanks wasn’t elegant, or polite… Yet, it stirred Sakura’s heart. “You’ll be treated in no time, Kaitou-kun… and you’ll be out of this scrape. Then we can work out some sort of plan to find the remaining treasures. Bye… Please stay safe this time!”
Kaitou Magician nodded, then walked to the nearest window, leaping out.
Sweat-dropping, Sakura called out, “You could have used the door, you know!”
Smiling and holding a thumb up on his way out, Kaitou replied, “Ha ha! I’m more used to the window. Well, I’ll come back for the locket. And I won’t be in a pathetic situation like this!” Then, he jumped away gracefully, almost as if he wasn’t injured. Yet something about his movement was less free and ruthless that night.
“You must be crazy,” Syaoran muttered, as Sakura stretched lightheartedly and began tossing things into a backpack.
“Do you really not understand how Kaitou Magician’s business is our business too? That the Five Force Treasures and everything affects us greatly? Not only that, but I want to help Kaitou-kun, and I know there’s some hidden mystery to him.” Sakura remarked. Zipping up her bag, she swung it on her back. “Well it you’re not helping, I’m going by myself.”
“And where do you think you’re going in the middle of the night?” Syaoran demanded.
“To Tokyo,” Sakura declared defiantly. ”I’m gonna find out how to detach the microchip, and I’m gonna find out who’s filing the suit against Kaitou-kun… If you’re not helping, I’m going by myself.”
Groaning, Syaoran said, “You know I’ll never send you off on your own. I’m with you, whatever crazy plan you cook up.”
Sakura grinned. When she gazed out the window, she realized that the police were quietly flocking the neighborhood. This time, no sirens were on. Probably, they were trying to sneak upon the Kaitou Magician. She did hope that he reached the hospital safely.
“Hey, it’s nighttime, so it’s chillier now,” Syaoran pointed out, tossing her a jacket.
“Thanks.” Sakura put it on over her denim shorts and navy blue tank top and then walked out to the apartment balcony, leaning against the railing as she gazed down. “I don’t think we’ll be able to go out the normal way, through the door. The security guards are blocking the front entrance of this apartment.”
“I guess.” Stepping outside, on the balcony, he shut the sliding glass door and locked it. With keen amber eyes, Syaoran measured the distance from the balcony of his apartment to the next building. Then, he slipped out a slender metal boomerang and flung one end out to the roof of the neighboring building, where it hooked onto a railing, while he kept hold of a rope attached to it with his other hand. “Hold tight!” Grabbing hold of Sakura’s waist with one hand, and grasping the rope, he swung over to the building.
Together, they landed on the roof of the building.
Panting, Sakura said, “You could have warned me! I thought my heart will fall out!” Inside, she thought, I keep on forgetting all these random skills that Syaoran has… I remember them from the old Card Captor days. He used this method to climb up the Tomoeda Clock Tower, when we were capturing the Time Card so long ago. “You know, I really think you could have become a thief, too if you wanted to.”
“Luckily I became the Li Clan’s Chosen One and came to Japan to rival against the Card Captor.”
"Hoe?" Sakura stared at Syaoran's calm expression. She had always figured that Syaoran didn't exactly like being the Chosen One, though he had come to Japan with his free will. But it wasn't something he would feel lucky about, especially after Li Leiyun, his cousin's death.
As if Syaoran anticipated her thoughts, he said in a pleasantly low tone, “If I became a thief, then I wouldn’t have met you, would I?”
Something warm and fuzzy inside her stirred.
All the strange guilt she felt about meeting Eron in the old theater at
school disappeared. I’m glad Syaoran’s the Chosen One, too. If I didn’t
meet him, five years ago, he wouldn't be here with me in one of my craziest
plots ever, right at this moment.
Beneath, voices shouted, “Look, the TMI-305 microchip indicator is blinking at the next building! Move!”
“Oh dear,” Sakura murmured, running to the opposite side of the roof. “They’re really gonna get us now.” Before she could say anything, Syaoran had already grabbed her and swung over to the next roof, then the next.
“There. I think it’ll take a few seconds before the police come,” Syaoran said, catching his breath.
“Do you think it’s safe to use magic to go to the train station, now?” Sakura asked.
“Pretty much. The police are still catching up, so we have to hurry.”
“Gee, I wonder how Kaitou Magician managed this. I’m already beat, being chased by those police.” Sakura’s ears twitched. Already, she heard footsteps leading up to the roof.
“It’s this building! The Kaitou Magician
must be here!” the policemen yelled.
She had to hurry. “Release!” With her staff, she struck down on one of her newer Sakura Cards. “Unicorn! Carry us to the Tomoeda Train Station.”
With a swirling of black feather wings, the Unicorn appeared, Quickly, Sakura swung over its back and stroked the stallion’s midnight black coat. Turning to Syaoran, who was just standing there, she asked, “Aren’t you coming?”
“Eh? Yeah.” Syaoran climbed on behind her. Then, Midnight Star, the black unicorn soared off, camouflaging perfectly into the night sky.
As the Unicorn flew lower down, as they drew nearer to the train station, Sakura whispered, “Look! The police are surrounding the station. They already figured that we’re gonna arrive here.”
“They probably located the direction that we were heading through the microchip devise,” Syaoran pointed out.
“Should we take the bus to Tokyo?” Sakura asked.
“It will be no use. They’ll probably surround us there at the bus stop.”
Sighing, Sakura stroked the Unicorn’s glossy ebony black mane. “But it will be difficult for the Unicorn to carry us both on his back to Tokyo, since it’s so far off.”
Midnight Star whinnied, tossing back its head and nuzzled against Sakura’s face, indicating that he was fine and he could manage carrying them no matter what distance.
“Thank you, Midnight Star. Lead us to Tokyo, then! We’ll set things right!” Sakura exclaimed enthusiastically.
“Don’t be so bouncy. You’re making me nervous,” Syaoran said, gazing down at the distant streets beneath them. Still, inside he felt rather happy, just watch Sakura so enthusiastic and animated. Yet, why was he always stuck gazing at the back of Sakura’s head? An odd, flowery smell from Sakura enveloped him. “What did you do, drench yourself in perfume? It’s giving me a headache.”
“Humph, Eron likes it,” Sakura muttered.
“No wonder I don’t like it,” Syaoran responded coolly.
Before Sakura could come up with a retort, Syaoran leaned his head over on her shoulder. "Don't. This is not the situation to be arguing with me." When Sakura still tried to come up with something to say, he whispered, “You know what?”
Sakura jumped as she felt Syaoran’s warm presence pressed against her back.
“Even if I wasn’t the Chosen One, and even if I wasn’t sent to Japan. Even if I was a thief, I think,” he paused.
Sakura tried to turn around and face him, which was rather difficult since she was riding a stallion. “You think what?”
“I think,” Syaoran continued. “No. I know I would still have found you, eventually.”
Her forest green eyes softened, and Sakura clasped her diamond crystal necklace, thinking, Maybe I was wrong in thinking that the only thing that connects me to Syaoran is being a Card Captor. Maybe, maybe there's something else.
She smiled, feeling the cool wind blow on her face, as the two of them soared through the star studded black sky, on their way to Tokyo to face their unexpected summer jeopardy.
Meanwhile at the hospital…
“And you see, I’m the Japanese Ambassador’s son. While I was in France, there was a parade and the French Prime Minister came at the end of the procession, waving to the people. I happened to be watching the parade, when I saw an assassin in the crowd, pointing a shining black metal gun straight at the French Prime Minister’s heart,” Kaitou Magician explained to the intent crowd that had gathered around him, as he sat up on his hospital bed, holding everyone in suspense. “When I saw that, I knew that I must act at once.” He brought his fist up heroically. “As the assassinate shot off the gun, I leaped out of the crowd and took the gun shot instead of the Prime Minister, saving his life. The bullet barely missed my heart, however.”
“Wow, how courageous and wonderful,” all the young nurses of that ward awed, flocking around Katiou-kun’s bed. They all gazed up at the handsome young patient with the bandage on his chest in wonder.
“Do you speak French?” one pretty nurse, who was a college intern at the hospital asked.
“Mais oui! Bonjour mademoiselle. Vous etes tres belle!” Elegantly, he flicked his magician’s hand and produced a red rose, presenting it to her in perfect manner.
They all swooned. The new patient, the Japanese’s Ambassador in France’s son was the most charming person they had ever met. Little did they know he was the infamous Kaitou Magician who came on the evening news every day.
“Did you receive an award for your bravery?” another young nurse asked.
“Of course! I almost sacrificed my life for the French Prime Minister.” From his pocket, he fiddled out a medal. “See?” Those pretty air-headed nurses wouldn’t figure out that he had stolen the medal from Shing-san, the great artist of the “Angel and Warrior” series, and that it was a New York Metropolitan Museum of Fine Arts award, not a Nobel French Medal of Bravery.
“Ooh~ How marvelous! Poor Voleur-kun, almost dying, though.”
Kaitou Magician grinned, relaxing on the bed, with a dozen hands ready to pet him and do favors for him. Ha ha… Sakura was right. He was the liar. French Ambassador’s son, indeed. People believed anything. And he told them that his name was Voleur DeNuit. Thief of the Night, au francais (in French.)
Outside the hospital window, he though
he saw something like a flying black stallion in the distance. He winked
at it. His motto was to relax and enjoy life while he could. Leaning back
on the cool, crisp sheets of the bed, he closed his eyes, and fell for
the first time into deep slumber without haunting dreams of his past, nor
persistent police chasing after him.
Anyway... So, Kaitou-kun came back. Toldja he would. Hmm, he wasn't away for that long, huh? As you can tell, this chapter is just kinda like the beginning to the CCS crew's summer adventure. Look forward to the coming chapters... Oh yeah, if anyone remembers, long ago, Sakura saw in the Mirror of Truth how one day, Kaitou Magician was surrounded by police and shot by a gun. Poor Kaitou-kun. I always have a soft spot for thieves. (Not all, but the anime type. ^_~) Also, people have been saying that Kaitou and Meirin should go together... Let's see... (evil grin.) I'm still interested in hearing your opinions on the couple arrangment in New Trials. And also, just wondering, do you guys wanna hear more about Eriol-kun immediately, or eventually. Finally, how come I already jumped to summer vacation? Cuz I wanna. +_+...
Hmm, next chapter, S+S in action, in Tokyo!!! He he... The city is always exciting. Still lotsa confusing stuff, and lotsa mysteries? That's my plan, he he. Next chapter might have some twists. : )
Comments cherished at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit
my site at www.geocities.com/wishluv. Nothing makes me happier than to
see how lotsa people came to my site to read my fanfics. Also, once again,
thank you for all those who have e-mailed me. I try my best to answer all
e-mails, but sometimes, due to my tight schedule, I dont' have time to
reply. Also, thanks to you who have reviewed New Trials and fanfiction.net.
I read all of your responses, and they have encouraged me greatly. Thanks
again to Digidynasty for going through the trouble to post them up there.
Those of you who have read and supported New Trials made it possible for
me to come this far. I promise to continue on with better quality and storylines.
Oh yeah... I heard somewhere that there's gonna be a CCS 4th season.
Is this true???