The Walk Home
Syaoran was just about to leave the classroom to go home when Sakura asked to talk to him.
Please, just don't let her talk about Kakeru. I don't think I could take it....
"Syaoran-kun...I wanted to talk to you about something, would you...I mean...could you...walk--"
Syaoran could see that she was slightly embarrassed, but he didn't really understand why.
"There you are Sakura-san!"
Syaoran cringed and felt electricity shoot up his spine at the sound of Kakeru's voice. He was suddenly fiercely motivated to get out of there before he had to watch him flirt with Sakura again.
"Uh, hi, Kakeru-kun..."
Actually, Sakura seemed a little discomfited by Kakeru's appearance...but Syaoran barely took notice of this. He had already somehow convinced himself that Sakura was as interested in Kakeru as he obviously was in her. It made him feel ill. He was almost out of earshot, but not quite, when he heard Kakeru's voice again.
"Hey, listen, I was hoping you would let me walk you home today."
Syaoran didn't wait to hear Sakura answer. He hurried himself
out the door and down the hall before he had to listen to her accept Kakeru's
Sakura was taken off guard by Kakeru's question...and she didn't really know how to react. She didn't think she would mind if Kakeru walked her home, but she needed to talk to Syaoran. Only...Syaoran was moving out the door fast. She looked pleadingly at Tomoyo.
"Oh, I'm sorry Izum--" Tomoyo began.
"Just call me Kakeru, ok?"
"Kakeru-san..." Tomoyo said, and Sakura could see that she was embarrassed to be so informal with him.
"Sakura-chan and I are going shopping, so.."
"Oh, well, I understand. Maybe some other time then. See you tomorrow, Sakura-san!"
Sakura watched Kakeru leave and then turned to thank Tomoyo.
"Wow, thanks, Tomoyo!" Sakura found herself more than a little relieved that Kakeru was gone.
"You better hurry if you are going to catch him," Tomoyo said to her with a sweet smile on her face.
"Catch...who?" Sakura was a little confused. She didn't want to catch up with Kakeru!
"Oh. Oh! Hoe!! I better go! See you later Tomoyo-chan!" She almost ran
out of the classroom. She knew she would have to hurry if she was
going to be able to find Syaoran before he disappeared.
Well, Tomoyo thought to herself, maybe things will start happening now. If Sakura takes the lead...only, Sakura probably wouldn't tell him that she liked him. But, they needed to talk, and if Sakura initiated it, maybe Syaoran would be more comfortable. She hadn't really wanted to lie, and strictly speaking, she hadn't. She and Sakura were going to go shopping, just not this afternoon. But she couldn't think of anything else in the moment, and if Sakura walked home with Kakeru, she couldn't talk to Syaoran.
Syaoran slammed his locker shut and pushed through the doors to the sidewalk outside. He was just going to have to accept this. But no matter how many times he told himself that he didn't care...that the only reason he didn't like Kakeru was becuase he was jealous of him...he couldn't quite convince himself. There was just something fishy about that guy...
How could he be so much more miserable with Sakura back than he was even when she was gone?! Maybe it was finally time to go home. Even as he thought it, his mind rebelled. He didn't want to go home. He wanted everything back the way it was!
It was probably too late for that, though. He didn't think it was possible for him to go back to the time when he had been able to delude himself into thinking his feelings for Sakura ran no deeper than friendship. Even if Kakeru wasn't in the picture...eventually someone else would be, and he would be in the same position he was in now.
"Syaoran-kun!!!! Wait up!!!!"
Syaoran turned to see Sakura running up to him, out of breath.
"Hoe! Didn't you hear me?" she panted, and fell into step next to him.
"I thought you were walking home with Kakeru."
He regretted it as soon as he'd said it. She was walking right next to him, Kakeru no where in sight, and he had to go and bring the guy up.
"Oh, well...no. I mean, he asked, but Tomoyo-chan told him that we were going shopping so that I could come and talk to you."
Of course she did. Well, at least there was someone else that didn't want to see Sakura with Kakeru.
Syaoran saw that Sakura was struggling with her school bag, and without thinking about it, he took it from her.
"You don't have to do that...I can carry it..." Sakura faded out.
"Hnn? Oh. It's no problem." Syaoran felt himself staring to blush again. To cover it, he said, "So what did you want?"
"Well..." Sakura seemed about to say something, but then changed her mind. "It's Kakeru."
Syaoran gritted his teeth. Well, he had brought him up. Now he would just have to listen to it.
"I just...I don't know...he seems...oh, well, it's just stupid. I'm sorry. Nevermind."
They walked in silence for a few minutes, and Syaoran tried desperately to think of something to say. He didn't come up with anything.
"Are you ok, Syaoran-kun?" Sakura broke the silence.
"Huh?" He looked at her a little warily.
"Well, you said you weren't feeling well earlier, and I was just wondering if you were ok now."
They both fell quiet. Syaoran was still trying to think of something to say when Sakura stopped walking.
"What?" he asked. She looked upset!
"Well...I guess...well...did you miss me?"
Syaoran was too shocked to speak.
"I mean, while I was gone? It just seems like you don't want to be friends anymore, and I thought..."
"No, Sakura....that's not it." He was floundering. "I do want...I mean, we are still friends."
She seemed to be comforted, but Syaoran hadn't come near what he wanted to say.
"Ok! Did you want to go shopping with Tomoyo and me on Sunday? I mean, I guess, you probably don't want to go shopping, but I thought we could all get together and do something, you know, I've been away so long!"
What was he doing? Well, at least he'd be able to see her a little more...and maybe she wouldn't talk about Kakeru. He almost smiled at her.
They started walking again, and Sakura rambled on about this and that...telling him something about what happened while she was gone...how she kind of felt different since she's come back...and she blushed a bit right there, but Syaoran had no idea why she might have been embarrassed. It wasn't long before they were standing in front of her house.
"Oh, Syaoran-kun, you walked me home anyway!" Sakura said, surprised.
"Huh?" What did she mean, "anyway"?
"Oh, nothing. Sorry. Thanks, though, and thanks for carrying my bag!" She grinned at him.
He had to fight not to stare at her.
She was almost in the gate when he finally found some courage.
"Sakura! Uh...well..." Syaoran was beginning to think better of this idea...but now that he'd begun..."I..I did miss you." He looked at the sidewalk. "While you were gone, I mean."
He peeked up to gauge her reaction. She was smiling, and her cheeks were pink.
"Thanks, Syaoran-kun. You're really nice."
Hearing that Syaoran still wanted to be friends had made her feel a lot better, but it didn't really compare to how she felt when he said he'd missed her. She held herself together until she got inside the door, and then she slid down the frame and sat in the hallway, dazed. She replayed the scene in her mind, her heart racing. He had seemed so sincere in that moment...but she knew she was reading too much into it. He was just a friend. Even though she was beginning to wish it was more than that. It was silly. He didn't think of her that way anymore. We're friends, she thought. Just friends. But, it was still a nice idea...that maybe, maybe he'd meant a little more than that...
To be continued...