Disclaimers: The characters in the following story are the creation and sole property of CLAMP, NHK and Kodansha.

Just Once

by Sparkle and  Erica Friedman

Chapter 1

Girl from in the shadow she calls
and in the shadow she finds a way
finds a way
and in the shadow she crawls
clutching her faded photograph
my image under her thumb
yes with a message for my heart
yes with a message for my heart

"Girl" by Tori Amos, from Little Earthquakes

It was four o'clock in the morning, which was rather early for someone to be pounding on the door, thought an irate Touya. Even as the thought was crossing his mind, he was out of the bed, yanking on a pair of pajama bottoms. He stumbled across the dark room, cursing, and then was suddenly blinded when Yukito turned on the light.

"Ow! Don't do that!" he said irritably.

"Oh! Gomen! I thought it would help," said Yukito. He could see almost perfectly in the dark, and he was never bothered by the sudden changes from darkness to light as most people were. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah." The pounding came again, loud and insistent.

"Who is it? What's wrong?" Alarm spread across Yukito's face.

"That," said Touya grimly, "is what I am going to go find out!" He made his way to the front door and slid it open suddenly, ready to yell at whomever was disturbing his sleep. But when he saw who stood there, and the tears streaming down her cheeks, his anger melted like snow under a hot sun.


"Oniichan!" she cried, and flung herself into his arms, sobbing.

The party was almost over, only one more guest to go. Sakura stood in the doorway, her hands clasped warmly by her dear friend, Chiharu.

"I can't believe this, Sakura-chan – I am so very happy for you!" Chiharu's eyes glistened with emotion.

Sakura shifted slightly, but smiled back. After all her friend's help and advice and support, it was only right that she be so emotional. Chiharu squeezed Sakura's hands, then released them, her eyes twinkling.

"I can see you're exhausted. Today's been crazy, and tomorrow will be even worse! And the day after..." Chiharu practically bounced with excitement. "I just can't believe it! Sakura getting married to Li! Who would have guessed it, all those years ago, eh, Tomoyo-chan?" She smiled over Sakura's shoulder at their friend who, though happy, looked tired and not entirely present. This was not surprising, as Tomoyo had outdone herself, designing not only the wedding dress and tuxedo for the bride and groom, but also arranging the entire reception, from flowers to food. And this wonderful party too, Chiharu thought, as Tomoyo's face lit up with a smile a moment later.

After their farewells, Chiharu turned to go, but hesitatingly turned back with a shy smile. "Sakura-chan, before I go, I almost forgot. Yamazaki wanted you to have this." She bowed formally, handing over a thick, sturdily bound book.

Sakura took it in both hands and turned it over, smiling as she saw the title, "The Origins of Common Things."

"His book was finally published? Please tell him that I'm thrilled for him," Sakura smiled at her friend and the smile slipped into a grin, "And be sure to ask him when it's going to be my turn to give him a gift."

Chiharu stared at Sakura a moment then, her face flaming, she bowed again and laughed. "I'll be sure to ask him!" Chiharu called as she turned and ran down the walk towards the street.

Still chuckling, Sakura closed the front door with an audible sigh of relief and exhaustion. She took Tomoyo's hand, silently they left the front hall and entered Tomoyo's sitting room. Together they collapsed onto a couch, both moaning in satisfaction and laughing at themselves.

Putting her tired feet up on the table, Sakura leaned back and stretched. "Gods, Tomoyo, I don't know where you find the energy! I haven't done a thing for this wedding and I feel all wrung out."

Tomoyo smiled at her best friend. "I have the energy because I know it will make your day special, Sakura."

Sakura turned her head, watching Tomoyo pouring tea into cups, preparing it just the way Sakura liked. "Yes, but…"

Tomoyo shook her head interrupting Sakura, as she handed over a cup. "No "buts," Sakura. If it would make you happy – I'm glad to do it."

Sakura gave her a broad grin. "You've always been the best friend a girl could wish for, Tomoyo. Thank you for everything." She sipped from her cup, gave another moan, this one of sheer pleasure and rolled her eyes, causing Tomoyo to giggle slightly at the exaggerated motion. Sakura sat up straighter a moment later and fixed her friend with a serious stare.

"It just occurred to me – you've been doing all this for me, but I haven't even thought about what I can get you!"

"What do you mean?" Tomoyo's voice was muffled slightly by the cup of tea.

"Well, isn't it traditional for the bride to get the Maid of Honor a gift? What can I get for you, Tomoyo-chan," Sakura slipped back into their youthful form of address, "to thank you for all you've done?"

Tomoyo looked thoughtful for a minute, then shook her head and smiled her quiet smile. "There's nothing I need and," she held up a hand to forestall Sakura's interruption, "nothing that would make me happier than your happiness." She gestured around herself, implying not only the room, but the whole house. "I don't need anything Sakura…just…just tell me that you're happy with Li-kun."

Sakura turned a little in her seat, put the cup down and took Tomoyo's hands in her own. "I am. He makes me very happy." She smiled at her friend, and was rewarded with a sweet smile in return.

"Then, that's all I've ever wanted." Tomoyo wondered whether the catch in her voice was as obvious to Sakura as it was to her. But her friend said nothing, instead leaning back once more into the cushions and closing her eyes.

A few minutes passed in silence. Tomoyo watched Sakura as she lay there, until a huge yawn forced Sakura to blink and stretch once again. Tomoyo looked away quickly, hoping the hunger on her face wasn't visible – it shouldn't be, she'd had so many years of practice at hiding it. But you never knew…

Sakura was speaking again. "You have to promise me – if you ever decide on something that I can get you, to thank you for everything, you'll tell me, ok?" One eye cracked open as she finished.

Tomoyo met Sakura's grin with one of her own. "I promise. Now, time for bed." Tomoyo said firmly, taking Sakura's hand and helping her rise. "It'll be a very busy day tomorrow," as she shoved her friend in the direction of the bedroom. "And I don't even want to think about the day after!" she spoke loudly over Sakura's protestations, and they laughingly left the room.

Chapter 2


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