Sakura discovers that the Clow Cards have no power, and JOKER traps her in Tomoyo's bedroom.
For the rest of the evening, Sakura and Tomoyo amused themselves in Tomoyo's room. Tomoyo called down for another tray of hot tea, which her mother was only too happy to send a servant up with. Meanwhile, the girls and Kero played a few board games, played with Tomoyo's favorite dolls, and talked about their favorite adventures. All thoughts of JOKER were gone, replaced by the familiar happiness of their friendship.
All too soon, however, it ended. "Sakura!" called Mrs. Daidouji's voice from downstairs. "It's time for you to go home!"
"Coming!" Sakura shouted.
Tomoyo sighed. "I wish you didn't have to leave, Sakura."
"Me too," agreed Sakura. "I don't want to leave you alone with JOKER. But remember, Kero says it's not trying to hurt you. So I'm sure you'll be safe. And I'll see you tomorrow morning at the park, when we go to see Yamazaki's model plane."
"I'll have to try to convince my mother to let me go," said Tomoyo. "I don't think she wants me to go outside anymore, after what happened today."
"Maybe if I can get my dad to pick you up from here, she'll let you come with us," Sakura suggested. "If we're all in a big group with some adults, she'll have to think everything's safe. And Kero and I will be there to make sure JOKER doesn't try anything funny."
"I hope you're right," said Tomoyo. She leaned forward to give Sakura a hug. "I'm going to miss you. I wish you could spend the night, but my mother would never allow it after all that's happened today."
Sakura blushed. "It's only one night, Tomoyo... you'll be fine."
"You know, Sakura can't stay the night, but I can," offered Kero. "I may not be able to do much without transforming, but maybe she'll feel less alone if I'm here."
"That would be wonderful!" said Tomoyo. "Thank you, Kero!" She removed her arms from Sakura to give Kero a hug.
"Hey... watch the wings!" he protested.
"It won't be the same without you around the house," Sakura said wistfully.
Kero extracted himself carefully from Tomoyo's arms. "Yeah, it'll be different, but you can live without me for one night. Besides, it'll be fun here. Tomoyo can get any type of food she wants, no questions asked, and I won't have to spend the whole night hiding from your big brother." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "You know, now that you're officially the Card Captor, I suppose you don't really NEED to have me around any more, and Tomoyo's such a lonely girl...."
"KERO!" Sakura shouted jealously.
Tomoyo smiled. "I'm sure Kero is just joking, Sakura. I just need this comfort for tonight, and then I'm sure I'll be just fine. Tomorrow, we'll come up with a way to capture JOKER, and I won't need Kero to keep me company."
"That's right," agreed Kero with an affirming nod. Then, he whispered into Tomoyo's ear, "Of course, there's no rush to capture it immediately, right?"
Sakura smiled. "Well, you two have a nice night. Bring him to the park in the morning." She grabbed the doorknob and rattled it. "Hey! The door's stuck!"
"It shouldn't be locked," said Tomoyo. "I don't even have a key for that door."
"I think this is JOKER's work," said Kero. He sniffed at the air. "Can you feel it, Sakura? The magic presence in the room is a bit stronger."
"It feels just like when we were locked in that room by the LOCK card," agreed Sakura.
"JOKER must have used the power of LOCK to seal this room," said Tomoyo.
"That's no problem," returned Sakura with a smile. "I've still got the Clow Key. I just have to unlock the door." She removed the necklace with the Clow Key on it from around her neck and inserted it into the keyhole. A quick turn unlocked the door. "See? No problem!" She opened the door and gasped.
"What is it, Sakura?" asked Tomoyo, moving toward the door to get a better view.
"This doesn't look anything like your house!" announced Sakura. Indeed, as Tomoyo moved around the bed, what she saw through the doorway was not the familiar hallway beyond her door, but a short corridor that branched in two directions at the end, with the same wallpaper as that which covered the walls of Tomoyo's room.
"It looks like the beginning of a maze," said Tomoyo.
"The MAZE card," agreed Kero. "It's JOKER again. It's trying to prevent us from leaving this room!"
"We'll have to find our way through it," said Sakura. "Tomoyo, do you have any string in here? We can use it to trace our path."
"There's some in my sewing kit," said Tomoyo. But the mention of the sewing kit that she used to make Sakura's costumes reminded her of something.... "Sakura? Would you change into one of the costumes I made for you while I find the string?"
A giant bead of sweat ran down the side of Sakura's head. "Why?"
"Because we're fighting a Clow Card!" Tomoyo reminded her. "We haven't had an adventure like this since you caught EARTHY!"
Sakura sighed. "All right. I guess I might as well."
"Is something wrong, Sakura?" asked Tomoyo, visibly disappointed at Sakura's reluctance.
"No, not at all!" said Sakura, waving her hand apologetically. "I love the costumes you make for me, really! But don't you think we should try to get through this maze quickly, before our parents come looking for us and get lost in it?"
Tomoyo nodded thoughtfully. "I hadn't thought about that," she admitted. A lost opportunity to see Sakura in one of her outfits, but keeping the Clow Cards a secret was certainly more important.
"We haven't got a lot of time before they start getting suspicious," said Kero. "Definitely not enough time to find our way through MAZE. I think we'd better find another way out of here."
"You could go out the window," suggested Tomoyo. She grabbed the Clow Cards from the bed and handed them to Sakura. "Use the FLOAT card to get to the ground safely."
"Hey, good call!" said Kero. "You could be a Card Captor yourself, if you had any magic power."
Sakura nodded emphatically. "Okay, I'm ready."
"Too bad you're not in costume," Tomoyo whispered.
"I'm sorry," Sakura apologized, "but I really don't have time for that." She held the Clow Key in her palm. "Key which hides the powers of darkness," she chanted, "return to your true form. I, Sakura, command you under our contract. RELEASE!" Nothing happened. Sakura prodded the key with a finger, but it lay perfectly still and lifeless in her palm. "Huh? What's wrong with it?"
Kero crossed his arms. "This must be the power of JOKER at work again. It's sealed away the power of your magic."
Sakura gasped. "If I can't summon the sealing wand, I won't be able to seal JOKER!"
"And you won't be able to use any of the Clow Cards!" added Tomoyo.
"What do we do now, Kero?" asked Sakura, turning to see Kero grunting in exertion. "What are you trying to do?"
Kero exhaled sharply. "I can't transform either," he informed her as he caught his breath. "JOKER's sealed all the power of Clow somehow."
Sakura fell to her knees. "This is impossible! It's got all the magic I used to have, and I have none! How can we beat JOKER when we're so outmatched?"
"We've just got to solve every puzzle it throws at us," announced Kero. "The cards chose you because you have what it takes to be a Card Captor, and one of the most important qualities is not being dependent on the cards. You can do anything without them as long as you can believe in yourself."
"I do believe in myself," whined Sakura. "I just believe in the myself that has the Clow Cards."
Kero sighed. "Sakura... now's not the time to give up!"
Tomoyo clutched Sakura's arm tightly in a hug. "I have an idea! Let me pick out a costume for you, and then it will be just like the old days, when we had so much fun capturing the Clow Cards together!"
Sakura's face lit up with an embarrassed smile. "Again with the costumes.... All right," she agreed resignedly. "I guess it might help if I put on one of your costumes."
Tomoyo's heart sank as Sakura's melancholy struck her with full force. Seeing Sakura wearing a beautiful costume always lifted Tomoyo's spirits, but there was nothing she could do to cheer Sakura up. It was the most miserable feeling imaginable. If only there was a way Sakura could share her happiness.... But enough wishful thinking. Tomoyo had walked into the closet deep in thought, and now found herself staring at the unfinished dress that the brooch she'd seen that afternoon would have completed. But she couldn't put an incomplete costume on Sakura. She'd have to choose a different one for tonight.
"Um, Tomoyo..." Sakura said timidly from the closet door. "That one you're looking at...."
Tomoyo spun around, a fierce blush coloring her face. "Oh, no! It's not finished yet! I'll find another one for you to wear...."
"Actually...." Sakura shuffled her feet as she spoke. "I thought it would look good on you."
"On me?" Tomoyo was a bit shocked at the very idea. "But I made these only for you!"
"I just don't think it's fair," continued Sakura. "You spend all your time making these wonderful costumes for me, and you never get to wear any of them yourself. You should have pretty clothes to wear as well...."
"I don't need anything, as long as you're happy," Tomoyo protested self-consciously, certain by now that her face was actually on fire. Unsure of how to react to what seemed to be an advance from Sakura, Tomoyo looked up, only to find that Sakura had done the same. Their eyes met, and they stared at each other, drinking in their embarrassed yet warm feelings.
Finally, Sakura broke the silence. "Um... I was thinking...."
"Yes?" prompted Tomoyo.
Sakura turned away and covered her face with her hands. "No, never mind. It's silly, really."
"No, what is it?" asked Tomoyo, taking a careful step toward Sakura. There was definitely something strange going on with her.
Sakura peered at Tomoyo between her fingers, watching for her reaction. "I was just thinking that you always videotape me when I'm capturing a Clow Card...."
Tomoyo nodded, not saying anything as she took another step forward.
"Well, since you're the one filming, you never get to be on the tape," Sakura pointed out. "So I thought maybe, since this is your card, I should film you instead."
Tomoyo froze. "F-film me?" Why was her heart pounding so hard all of a sudden?
"You have so many tapes of me, Tomoyo," said Sakura, her voice sounding as nervous as Tomoyo felt. "I... I want to have a tape of you, too! I want to always be able to remember you just the way you are!"
Tomoyo slowly shook her head. The words she was hearing were echoes of her own feelings, the way she herself felt about Sakura. And yet... why did hearing them from Sakura's own mouth hurt so much? "Stop it," Tomoyo pleaded quietly. "Stop playing with my heart like this!"
"But I'm not playing!" Sakura shot back forcefully. She clasped her hands to her heart. "This is the way I really feel," she announced, a tear rolling down her cheek. "I love you, Tomoyo."
Tomoyo recoiled in shock. "But what about Yukito? A-and Li?"
That probably wasn't the right thing to say, after Li had disappeared, but Sakura wasn't put off at all. In fact, her smile widened even more at the mention of those names, and she wrapped her arms around herself in a mock hug. "I love both of them, too. They give me warm feelings inside when I'm near them. But the feeling I get from Tomoyo is even warmer."
It should have been a beautiful moment, but for some reason, Tomoyo found it very disturbing. The Sakura she knew would never say such things. "Sakura, what's happened to you?" she asked.
"I don't know," replied Sakura. "I just looked into my heart, and found how I felt about you."
"I don't know what to say." Tomoyo's world was coming apart with every word Sakura said. She'd always been content to watch Sakura from the sidelines, cheering her on and cherishing her happiness. But when Sakura returned those feelings... it was uncomfortable. "I don't deserve your love, Sakura."
With those words, Tomoyo turned away from Sakura, unable to face her friend any longer. Surprisingly, for the first time ever, she wanted Sakura to leave her alone, but a pair of soft arms wrapped around her waist from behind. "Please don't turn away, Tomoyo," begged Sakura.
Tomoyo could feel Sakura shaking with sobs as she tried to hold back her tears. Tomoyo was on the verge of crying herself. But she couldn't let Sakura see her cry.
At that moment, Kero poked his head into the closet. "Hey, what's taking you guys so long? Do girls always take forever to -" He froze as he saw what they were doing, only to fall as his wings briefly stopped flapping. After flailing his arms and legs to regain his balance, he pointed accusingly at the pair. "What's going on here? Why's Sakura getting all lovey-dovey with Tomoyo?"
Tomoyo tried to come up with an explanation, but Sakura beat her to it. "I don't know why I suddenly feel this way, Kero. But now I just want to hold Tomoyo tightly and never let go. I want us to be together forever!"
Tomoyo's blush returned as she heard Sakura's declaration, but this time it wasn't because of Sakura's emotions. Sakura's words had revealed to Tomoyo why JOKER was trying to prevent Sakura from leaving. "I'm so sorry," she sobbed. "This is all my fault."
"Don't say that," urged Sakura. "You didn't put these feelings in my heart."
"I meant the locked door and the maze," Tomoyo clarified. "It's because I wanted to be with Sakura, and I wished that she would never leave. That's why JOKER wants to trap you in my room." But as for Sakura's feelings... were they another one of JOKER's tricks to keep the two girls together?
Picking up on Tomoyo's thought, Kero hummed to himself. "So Sakura feels the same way about Tomoyo as Tomoyo feels about Sakura.... It sounds to me like the work of another Clow Card."
"It can't be!" protested Sakura, letting go of Tomoyo and turning to face him. "These feelings are mine! They can't have come from a Clow Card!"
"Is there a card that manipulates emotions?" asked Tomoyo.
"Not exactly," admitted Kero. "But this seems like the work of the LIBRA card to me."
"LIBRA?" asked Sakura. "That's one of the cards that was still in card form when I found it. What does it do?"
Kero easily slipped back into lecture mode. "Well, LIBRA's magic tells the user whether what's being said is the truth or a lie. Clow Reed figured judges would have a lot of uses for a card like that. But there's another use for LIBRA, which is an interesting side effect of its form." He pointed to the full-length dressing mirror on the far wall of the closet. "You already know that MIRROR has two uses. Its magic creates a copy of the caster, but because its form is a mirror, it can reflect things like light or the energy beams from SHOT."
Sakura nodded, remembering that she had used that aspect of MIRROR to capture SHOT. "So what's the other effect of LIBRA?"
"LIBRA is a set of scales, representing balance," said Kero. "So the card has the power to bring conflicting things into balance. In this case, it gave some of Tomoyo's emotions to Sakura. Or rather, JOKER used that aspect of LIBRA's power."
Sakura's face clouded with sorrow. "Then when Tomoyo makes me feel so happy, it's just JOKER making me feel that way?"
"To you, the emotions are as real as Tomoyo's are to her," explained Kero. "But they're only a result of the magic."
"Then this is the way Tomoyo feels about me all the time?" Sakura turned to Tomoyo, who averted her eyes. "I never realized how you felt... all this time, with the costumes and the videos.... I thought it was just for fun, but it's so much more than that!"
Tomoyo tried to tell Sakura that it really wasn't anything to get excited over, but choked on the tears she hadn't even noticed. She felt Sakura's hand lightly touch her shoulder. "Are you all right, Tomoyo?" Sakura asked with genuine concern. "You're crying. What's wrong?"
"It's too much," replied Tomoyo. "I don't want this attention. I don't want you to act this way. This isn't the Sakura I know!"
"Hey, chill out, kid," advised Kero. "She's just overwhelmed by all the new feelings. You've spent your whole life devoted to Sakura, so you're used to the way you feel. To her, it's a sudden change, and all her memories are of you treating her like a goddess while she did nothing to return it. It's natural that she'd overdo things a little at first."
Tomoyo glanced at Sakura, who was staring back expectantly, and bowed her head in shame. "I'm sorry, Sakura. I should have considered your feelings. It's just that all I ever wanted was to make you happy. I loved you just the way you were, and I never wanted you to love me back. Not this way!"
Having finally put her true feelings into words, Tomoyo looked up, expecting Sakura to be hurt, or at the very least surprised. But Sakura smiled even more brightly than before. "Tomoyo, I AM happy. I'm happier than I've ever been before!"
Tomoyo sniffed and wiped away her tears. "Really?"
Sakura nodded emphatically. "I don't care if these are just made-up feelings... they're the greatest feelings I've ever had!"
Tomoyo couldn't help smiling at that. True, her happiest moments were when she was with Sakura, and now Sakura was finally getting to experience that feeling herself. But somehow, Tomoyo had lost it. Sakura was finally happy... and her own happiness just wasn't there. The tears came back, drawn out by the sadness deep within, and Tomoyo couldn't stop them no matter how hard she tried.
Sakura's arms circled her shoulders again, this time from the front. "What's wrong?" she asked as she hugged her friend. "I don't want to see you cry. I want you to be happy too!"
"I can't," Tomoyo confessed. "This just isn't you. My wish changed you, and now instead of living your own happy life, you're wasting your time on me. I didn't want you to be happy because of me! I wanted you to be happy because... you were happy...."
"That's it! I'm not going to let it be this way!" Sakura released Tomoyo and stepped back, staring up into the air just above Tomoyo. "JOKER, come out! I'm going to make you sorry!"
"What do you think you're doing?" asked Kero. "You're not ready to challenge JOKER yet!"
"I don't care!" returned Sakura. "JOKER made Tomoyo cry, and I'll never forgive that! If my feelings are making Tomoyo sad, then I'll do whatever I have to to get rid of them!"
"No!" shouted Tomoyo. "Don't give up your happiness for me! I'll learn to love you this way eventually!"
"You've made so many sacrifices for me already," said Sakura, glancing at the plethora of dresses that surrounded her. "It's my turn to do whatever I can to make you happy."
"But you can't use your magic!" Tomoyo reminded her. "JOKER is far too powerful! You could be hurt!"
"That's better than you being hurt," said Sakura. "I'm the Card Captor, so it's my job to take whatever risks I have to. With or without magic, I'll protect you!"
"No!" Tomoyo cried again, throwing her arms around Sakura. "Please don't do it!"
"Eh?" Sakura suddenly seemed uneasy for the first time since Kero had intervened. "Tomoyo, what...?" Unsure of how to phrase her doubt, Sakura fell silent, only to hear Tomoyo sobbing into her shoulder. "Tomoyo, you're crying again."
"I'm crying because I finally understand," said Tomoyo, her aching heart feeling much lighter as she found comfort in Sakura's new emotions. "I don't know why, but now that I know how much these emotions mean to you, I'm very happy for you!"
"I'm glad," replied Sakura. "I would have given it up to make you happy... but I really do like feeling this way." She returned Tomoyo's embrace warmly, and for the first time since LIBRA's power had affected her, Sakura and Tomoyo hugged each other with mutual feelings.
"Yeah, yeah," said Kero impatiently. "We get the message. Everybody loves each other. Now, can we please get back to the task at hand? Your parents are probably already looking for you, and that means they're lost somewhere in the maze!"
The girls ignored him, lost in their own happiness. They broke their embrace and stepped back to look at each other's smiling faces. "Isn't it wonderful, Sakura?" asked Tomoyo. "I never thought we could be this happy together!"
Sakura nodded in agreement. "It's the greatest moment of my life!"
Tomoyo regretted not having her camera in hand to capture Sakura's bright smile on film. It was the cutest expression she'd ever seen on Sakura's face. The other girl was positively glowing with cheer, and Tomoyo felt it as if it was her own. "It's the greatest moment of my life as well," she agreed. "I wish this one moment could last forever!"
Sakura made no move to reply. In fact, she didn't move at all, as if she were frozen. Kero hovered perfectly still in the air beside her, also not moving so much as a muscle. Tomoyo smiled back for a few seconds, but the lack of movement was unnerving. "Sakura?" she asked, waving her arm in Sakura's direction. Sakura didn't respond at all. "What's wrong, Sakura?"
Worried almost to the point of panic, Tomoyo grabbed Sakura's arm and pulled on it, but it wouldn't budge an inch. "What's going on?" she cried, her voice echoing in the total silence. That was another strange thing. It was already dark outside; by this time of night, Tomoyo could usually hear the crickets in the garden chirping, a noise that always faded into the background and became inaudible - until it truly vanished. Except for her own breathing, everything was as silent as death.
Suddenly, her words came back to her in one horrifying revelation: 'I wish this moment could last forever....' It was painfully clear now; JOKER had granted another wish, this time using the power of TIME to freeze time for everyone but Tomoyo herself. The moment really would last forever... but Tomoyo was the only one who would be able to enjoy it.