Categories > Anime/Manga > Card Captor Sakura > 52 Curses

Tomoyo's Second Chance

by Nidoking 0 Reviews

JOKER takes Tomoyo back to when they first met, giving her a chance to erase her mistakes.

Category: Card Captor Sakura - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama - Characters:  Cerberus, Syaoran, Tomoyo, Sakura - Warnings: [!!!] - Published: 2005/05/05 - Updated: 2005/05/06 - 5475 words

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Chapter 4: Tomoyo's Second Chance

Tomoyo froze in place, not because of the magic, but because the horrible truth of what she had done was simply too much for her to bear. All she had ever wanted was to bring happiness to Sakura's life, and instead she had brought the entire world to a halt! Never again would Sakura laugh, or speak, or wear one of Tomoyo's wonderful costumes.... Tomoyo buried her face in the unmoving fabric of one of those costumes to wipe her tears away. What good would they do her now? There might still be some hope, since she was able to move, but without the help of Sakura and Kero, how could she hope to stop JOKER and break the spell? What could an ordinary girl do in the face of magic this powerful?
She could barely bring herself to look at Sakura again. She didn't deserve Sakura anymore. Not if her love was going to bring so much tragedy. She had wanted the happiest moment of her life to last forever, but what good was that if she was the only one who could ever experience it?
It was all so confusing that Tomoyo's head was spinning. She sat down heavily, her chest heaving with heavy, sobbing breaths. Sakura was still smiling, smiling at the spot where Tomoyo had been when time froze. The silence was beginning to get to her now, driving her mad even after only a minute - or what would have been a minute if time were still progressing. "I'm making a sound now!" said Tomoyo, making up anything just to hear her own voice. But it only made the pause afterward seem that much more deathly silent. She couldn't spend the rest of her life talking to herself! But there was no one else to talk to. Even the master of the Clow Cards had no power left. Tomoyo wanted so badly to hear Sakura's voice once more, but that would never happen. She was utterly alone.
"Cheer up, Tomoyo," whispered Sakura. "I'm here for you!"
"Sakura?" Tomoyo cried excitedly. She leapt to her feet to greet Sakura, wondering how she had broken free of the spell... but Sakura was still frozen, having moved not an inch. Tomoyo sighed sadly. "It must have been my imagination."
"You still sound so sad," said Sakura's voice. "Why are you not happy?"
That time, Tomoyo had been watching Sakura's mouth, and it hadn't moved. "Who's doing that?" she asked the silent room. "Who's speaking like Sakura?"
"I am," replied the voice. "The one who's been helping you."
Helping? A thought struck her. "Are you... JOKER?"
"That's right," said the voice. "You wanted to hear Sakura's voice, so I used my power to let me speak to you in her voice." It paused. "Is that not what you wanted?"
"No, it's not!" Tomoyo shot back. "I wanted to hear Sakura's voice from Sakura, not from you!"
"Oh, dear," JOKER moaned apologetically. "Once again, I have misunderstood."
Tomoyo wanted to tell the evil card to shut up, but that would be rude. Besides, this was an opportunity to find out more about JOKER so that once Sakura was free of the spell, she would be able to figure out how to capture it. "What are you trying to do?" she asked.
"All I want is to make you happy!" replied JOKER, apparently more cheerful now that Tomoyo had curbed her anger a bit. "You have so many beautiful dreams. I want to make them all come true!"
"But my dreams are about Sakura!" explained Tomoyo, hoping to reason with the card. "My dreams will never come true unless you end this spell and restore time!"
"I can't do that," said the card, its voice now truly sorrowful. "I can only use the power of each Clow Card once. Now that I've used the power of TIME to stop time, I can't use the same power to start it again."
Well, that dashed all of her hopes to pieces. "You mean... the world will be like this forever?"
"I'm sorry. But it doesn't have to be sad! I still have many powers left! You can wish for more things and make the world a perfect place just for you!"
"I don't want the world to be just for me!" shouted Tomoyo. "I want Sakura back!"
"I can't do that," said JOKER. "But look at her. See how happy she is?"
"That's not the point," snapped Tomoyo. But she did look happy....
"She'll be that happy forever. It's the perfect moment, and it will never have to change. If you had time back, she would have to go to school and do lots of homework, and then get a job just to make money to survive, and you'd probably grow apart anyway. In this timeless world, there is no suffering. No one will ever die, or get sick, or even be sad."
"You're not making me happy," said Tomoyo.
"That's all I want," said JOKER, sounding truly wounded now. "Just choose a different wish."
"Stop granting my wishes!" ordered Tomoyo.
"I can't," replied JOKER. "I have to give you everything you want. It's all I know how to do. But I can only do the things that are within what remains of my power. I have to find a way to make you happy. Surely, there is something I can do to make you happy, isn't there?"
"I was happy before, when you weren't granting my wishes. You've done nothing but make me miserable since then."
"Then what can I do to make it up to you?" asked JOKER. "What can I do to make you happy?"
"NOTHING!" shouted Tomoyo. "I don't want you to do anything! I don't want you to help me anymore! I wish you'd never even granted any of my wishes in the first place!"
That intrigued JOKER. "You want everything to be the way it was before I joined you?" it asked. "Now, THAT I can do." The room began to swirl around her, making her feel dizzy again. The colored dresses began to flow into each other, becoming an eclectic rainbow wallpaper that danced and spun around her. Tomoyo turned to Sakura, only to watch her friend be dissolved into the mixture of pigments and be absorbed. Tomoyo reached out for her, but her hand grabbed only very thick air. The colors continued to blend into each other, becoming more unified. The world split into three layers: blue and white on top, green and red in the middle, and brown beneath her feet. Then, textures began to form. The colors above became a sky with clouds, below a dirt path, and hedges with flowers sprang into bloom around her. With a final POP!, everything stopped moving, and Tomoyo found herself standing in her own backyard under the early afternoon sun.
Now she was very confused. How had she ended up here? And what was that strange magical effect? What had JOKER done now? And why were the hedges still intact? The last time she'd been in the garden, the hedges had been burned by a mysterious fire....
"Oh!" Tomoyo said excitedly. "JOKER must have sent me back in time, to before it ever granted any of my wishes!" She hugged herself, celebrating her good fortune. She had outwitted the devious JOKER and saved the world! But something still felt wrong about the whole situation... "JOKER?" she called timidly. "Are you still here?"
She got no reply. For a second, relief washed over her, as she realized that it was truly over; then, she remembered that JOKER had only been able to speak because of one of her wishes, which had been negated by her most recent wish. But wouldn't that wish have been negated as well? Apparently not. It must have been a wish to negate all wishes except itself. Or....
Tomoyo shook her head, still a bit dazed and very confused. There was no way she could figure this out on her own. She would have to talk to Sakura about it. The very thought that Sakura was free of the evil time-spell lifted Tomoyo's heart, but she had to remain clear-headed and not celebrate until she was sure that she was free of JOKER's influence forever. She would have to give Sakura a call.
As she entered the house, Tomoyo saw her mother sitting near the fireplace reading a book. She ducked out of sight, fearing that her mother would scold her for being outside after all the trouble of the day before - then remembered that none of it had actually happened. This time travel business was going to take some getting used to! Taking a few deep breaths to calm her nerves, Tomoyo stood up, smiled and waved to her mother, then crossed the room to reach the phone and dialed Sakura's number.
"Hello, this is the Kinomoto residence," replied Dr. Kinomoto's voice from the other end. "Nobody's here to -"
Tomoyo hung up. She would have to speak to Sakura in person. But where would Sakura be? ... Of course! When she'd met Chiharu and Yamazaki at the park the day before... or rather, the day that hadn't actually taken place, they'd just seen Sakura, hadn't they? "Mother, may I go to the park?" she asked.
"Are you sure you're up to it?" asked her mother, setting down the book. "I thought you were tired after the dentist's appointment this morning."
True, she had been, but that seemed so long ago. "I'm fine, Mother. I'd like to spend some time around other people now. The garden is too lonely."
Mrs. Daidouji smiled. "All right, Tomoyo dear. Just don't be too long. I want you back before dark."
Tomoyo gave her mother another prize-winning smile. "Thank you so much!" She bowed gratefully and ran for the front door.
"'Thank you?'" her mother repeated to herself. "Whatever for, I wonder? Did she think I was going to keep her here, like a prisoner?"
*****************
The park was just as beautiful and lively as Tomoyo remembered it - which wasn't a great surprise, considering that this was the same period of time during which she'd last visited it. However, she ignored most of the sights around her, focusing instead on trying to find Sakura before she left. She set off in the direction from which Chiharu and Yamazaki had come when she'd spotted them before (after? Crazy time travel!), hoping that they weren't too far away.
Her hopes, for once, were answered without interference from JOKER. Chiharu and Yamazaki were just waving goodbye to Sakura and Li around the next curve. Tomoyo ran to meet them, shouting "Sakura!" to catch their attention.
Sakura waved back. "Tomoyo! What a surprise to see you here! I thought you went to the dentist today!"
By the time Sakura had finished her sentence, Tomoyo had closed the gap and come to a stop, resting her hands on her knees and panting from the exhausting run. She hadn't slept yet, and it had been a VERY long day. "I did," she began, "but I needed to talk to you about something. You and Li both."
Li nodded. He was staring at Tomoyo as if trying to classify her as friend or foe, but this time, she knew the reason. He waved at Chiharu and Yamazaki dismissively. "You two had better go. This is private stuff."
"How rude!" returned Chiharu. "Not even a goodbye... and we were going to tell Tomoyo about the surprise for tomorrow."
"We'll tell her later," snapped Li. "This doesn't concern you!"
Sakura jabbed Li in the side with her elbow. "Sorry about that," she apologized. "We've got some exciting stuff going on too, and we really want it to be a surprise for you two."
"That's okay," said Yamazaki, extending his index finger. "They're only unveiling the world's biggest ice cream sundae here tomorrow. Only five hundred yen for all the ice cream you can eat!"
"I already heard that one," Tomoyo said without thinking.
Yamazaki blinked in surprise. "You mean it's true? I thought I just made it up!"
Quickly realizing her mistake, Tomoyo forced a wide smile. "Ha ha," she laughed dryly. "I fooled you that time."
Chiharu gave Tomoyo a worried glance, her hand already tightly gripping Yamazaki's ear. "Are you feeling okay, Tomoyo? I've never heard you joke like that before."
"I'm fine, really!" Tomoyo assured her, a bit too eagerly. "I'm just a bit out of sorts after my visit to the dentist this morning. It's nothing to worry about."
"Okay," Chiharu reluctantly capitulated. "You should go home and get some rest for tomorrow. Yamazaki's going to show off his new model plane right here in the park, and he's invited you, as well as Sakura and Li, and Rika and Naoko."
"It sounds like fun," Tomoyo said with her natural winning smile. "I'll enjoy it."
"Just don't get too close to the propeller," warned Yamazaki. "I've seen kids get sucked in by the force of the wind, and -"
"Right, right," sighed Chiharu, dragging him away before he could finish his tall tale.
Sakura sighed in exasperation. "I didn't want to know what happened to the poor kid who got sucked into the propeller...."
Li shook his head and returned his stare to Tomoyo. "What did you want to talk to us about?" he asked suspiciously.
Tomoyo took a deep breath. It was not going to be an easy explanation. "I know you feel a strange energy in me, Li. But I promise you that I really am myself. I've just become the vessel for a Clow Card."
"A Clow Card?" Li repeated. "But that's impossible! Sakura controls the Clow Cards!"
"It's not one of the cards in Sakura's deck," explained Tomoyo. "It's a different card, called JOKER, that has the powers of all 52 cards. JOKER follows me everywhere I go and grants my wishes using that power."
Kero popped his head out of Sakura's backpack and gasped in a miniature lungful of air. "Did you say JOKER?" he asked. "I've never heard of a card like that."
"But you were the one who told me about it!" protested Tomoyo.
Kero climbed onto Sakura's shoulder and crossed his arms. "Sorry, kid. You must have me confused with some other guardian beast. I don't know anything about any JOKER."
"You remembered it while we were doing a reading with the Clow Cards," Tomoyo insisted. "The TWIN card came up to show the magical nature of the threat, and -"
"When did we ever do a reading with the Clow Cards, Tomoyo?" asked Sakura. "I've only done one reading, and I did that one alone."
Of course. The detail she'd forgotten to mention. "None of you would remember it," she realized aloud. "I accidentally made a wish that caused JOKER to freeze time for everyone but myself, and then wished to go back to the way things were before I made any wishes. So everything that happened to me since yesterday afternoon really didn't happen, but I can remember it."
"It doesn't make sense," said Li. "Sakura and I have magical powers and you don't. If anyone could remember what happened, it should be us."
"JOKER has sealed away your powers," Tomoyo explained. "Sakura tried to use her powers, but they didn't work, and Kero couldn't transform into his normal form."
Kero scratched his chin. "JOKER... JOKER... it's starting to remind me of something...."
"What else do you know about this card?" asked Li. "Tell us everything."
Tomoyo quickly related the events of the day that had never happened - the fire in the garden, her visit to the park, the near-death experience with the speeding car, the encounter with the jewelry store owner, and finally Sakura's visit and JOKER's attempts to trap Sakura in her room forever. She avoided mentioning the effect of LIBRA, instead mentioning the time freeze without giving the reason for the wish.
"Then JOKER spoke to me in Sakura's voice," she finished, "and told me that it could grant any wish I had, but could only use the power of each Clow Card once. And then it returned me to the moment when it had first met me."
"Using the power of the RETURN card, obviously," Li deduced.
Kero nodded sagely. "Now I remember JOKER. That was a wily card, all right. Clow never did manage to figure out how to tame its power. I guess the trick was that JOKER needed to choose its own master. I suspect it was looking for an unselfish heart to guide it, and Tomoyo's as unselfish as they come."
Tomoyo blushed deeply. "I'm not that unselfish."
"So, what can we do about JOKER?" asked Sakura.
"I think we need to exhaust its power," said Li.
"Exhaust its power?" repeated Sakura.
Li nodded. "She said it can only use the power of each card once, right?"
Tomoyo nodded in affirmation.
"Then once it's used all 52 cards, it'll be helpless," Li continued. "That's how we can get rid of it."
"I don't think it'll be that easy," argued Kero. "I don't think JOKER will be helpless for long. If I remember Clow's procedure correctly, once the card runs out of power, its magic will recharge within a few minutes, and it'll escape in search of its next victim."
"But we'll have those few minutes in which to capture it," Li pointed out.
"Assuming that the seal on Sakura's magic is broken when its power runs out," countered Kero.
"Even so, Tomoyo will be free of its power," returned Li. "So what if the card gets away?"
"We can't just let a card that powerful run free!" Sakura put in. "If it finds another victim, we might never be able to track it down!"
"Then we'll just have to get it right on the first try," said Li. He turned to Tomoyo. "Go on. Wish for something so we can start using up JOKER's power."
Tomoyo shook her head worriedly. "I can't do that."
"Why not?" Li asked, beginning to show signs of anger. "Just wish for something!"
"If I do, someone will get hurt!" Tomoyo protested. "Every time I wish for something, somebody ends up getting hurt! I can't let that happen!"
"If you don't use your wishes in a controlled way, they'll just act randomly the way they've been doing," Kero pointed out. "Somebody's going to get hurt no matter what you do. Just try to think of harmless things to wish for."
"I just had a thought," Sakura began, before Tomoyo could come up with a harmless wish. "We want to make sure all of the cards get used up, so we should find a way to keep track of which ones were already used."
"Kero, what about the ones that were used before RETURN?" asked Li. "Are they still used up, or were they canceled when JOKER reversed time?"
Kero shrugged. "Don't ask me. This is new magical ground for me too."
"We could try using one of the wishes that Tomoyo already made before," suggested Sakura. "If the same thing happens again, we'll know that JOKER got all of its power back."
"I've got it!" Kero cheered excitedly. "Wish for the kid to disappear again!" Li glared at the guardian beast, who stuck his tongue out in return.
"No, don't do that!" protested Sakura. "If Li really disappears...."
"... we can just use the RETURN card to undo the effect, like before," Kero finished for her. "There's absolutely no danger involved if the wishes can be reused. And if they can't, then nothing will happen."
"Besides, I only wished for Li to disappear because I was scared," added Tomoyo. "Now that he knows the truth, he won't threaten me, and I truly don't want him to disappear again."
Li continued to glare at Kero. "I think we should find another wish to repeat," he said coldly.
"We could go to the jewelry store and wish for the brooch again," suggested Tomoyo. "I know I'd still love to have it."
"I think that's a much safer suggestion," agreed Sakura, favoring Kero with a glare of her own.
"Yeah, whatever," Kero grumbled, climbing back into Sakura's backpack. "Just don't expect me to help if the three of you get caught shoplifting."
*****************
After a brief detour to let Sakura's father and Wen know that they would be at the north side of the park, the three set off toward the jewelry store with Tomoyo in the lead. She was nervous about the prospect of being chased by the owner again, but reminded herself that the RETURN card's power would be enough to avoid any further trouble... and if it came to that, she'd use the SLEEP card on herself to get some well-deserved rest. After all, she'd only just returned from the dentist.
"Tomoyo, look out!" shouted Sakura from several feet behind her. With a start, she realized that she'd walked right into the street without looking where she was going, and a truck was bearing down on her too quickly to stop. Tomoyo screamed and curled into a ball, praying that JOKER's magic had indeed returned, because without the power of EARTHY, there was nothing to stop the truck from running her down.
"Petals of wind, heed my call!" Li shouted from the curb. Tomoyo felt a strong rush of wind as the truck barreled toward her, its horn signaling her imminent death. But the impact never came. She opened her eyes and peered up into the still-gusting wind to see the truck rising into the sky, carried in the center of a swirling vortex of air.
Sakura and Li were at her side in an instant, rubbing her shoulders as the tornado carried the truck away. "Are you all right?" asked Sakura.
"I'm fine," Tomoyo said for the second time in the situation. "Thank you, Li."
"For what?" asked Li, tossing a limp ofuda to the ground beside her. "My magic failed."
"Failed?" repeated Tomoyo. "But the truck -"
"That wind didn't come from me," Li reaffirmed. "It looked more like the power of STORM."
"STORM...." Tomoyo's brow furrowed as Sakura and Li hauled her to her feet, hoping to move along before a crowd could gather. The street was almost empty by now, and the few people who had seen what had happened seemed to be more interested in where the truck had gone than the children in the middle of the road. "Last time, the power of EARTHY saved me," Tomoyo thought aloud as the other two led her to the far sidewalk. "But this time, it was STORM."
"That might mean that JOKER's powers haven't recharged," speculated Li. "On the other hand, the situation was a bit different. It's possible that EARTHY wouldn't have been able to stop the truck in time, forcing JOKER to use a different power. I still want to see what happens at the jewelry store before we leap to any conclusions."
Tomoyo nodded and swallowed. Her heart was still pounding from the shock, and she could barely stay on her feet even with both Li and Sakura supporting her. But having her friends at her side provided immeasurable comfort, as did - loath as she was to admit it - the power of JOKER watching over her to protect her from any truly mortal danger. She straightened up, let her own legs carry her weight, and pointed the way to the jewelry store.
They'd gotten a later start than Tomoyo had the last time she'd made this trip, so by the time they got to the jewelry store, the sky was beginning to darken. "I think my father's probably worried about us," Sakura noted. "We'd better hurry."
Tomoyo felt uneasy once again as she turned to face the window display. The brooch was in its place, as she had known it would be, but the thought of actually holding it again brought with it the chilling memory of a giant hand grasping her arm, and she shivered at its touch even though it was merely in her imagination. Her desire to have the brooch was nothing compared to the traumatic experience associated with it. Besides, even if it was unlikely to work, she was just going to invite trouble by making another wish. She didn't want any more trouble!
"What's the problem?" Li asked impatiently. "Make the stupid wish already."
"I don't think I can," Tomoyo replied sadly. "I'm too scared."
"There's nothing to be scared of," Li told her condescendingly. "If something goes wrong, you just wish to go back in time again."
Sakura put her arm around Tomoyo's shoulders. "I understand how you feel, Tomoyo. I'm kind of scared too."
"Really?" asked Tomoyo, taking comfort in Sakura's empathy.
"I've faced a lot of Clow Cards, and I had magic to defend myself," Sakura reminded her. "And I was still scared of them. I can't imagine what I would have done if you hadn't been there with me. So now I'm going to be here for you."
Tomoyo gripped Sakura's hand and squeezed it, feeling the reassuring warmth of their friendship. With Sakura by her side, nothing could threaten her. And such a special friend deserved a beautiful piece of jewelry.... Tomoyo's eyes fell to the flower-shaped brooch again, and this time she truly did want to hold it again, take it home and put it onto a costume for Sakura to wear. She held out her hand, palm up, and felt the cold metal of the brooch on her fingers.
"Hey, it worked!" exclaimed Sakura.
"No, it didn't," replied Li, pointing to the display. "It's still there."
Tomoyo closed her fingers around the brooch as she followed Li's finger to the spot in the display where the brooch still sat, undisturbed. "No, I have it in my hand," she confirmed. "But it's not the same one that's in the window. It must be a different one."
Li held out a hand to Tomoyo expectantly, and she gave the brooch to him. He examined it carefully, then stared back at the one in the display. "It's the same," he announced. "It's an exact copy of the one in the store window."
"What are you kids doing here?" asked a gruff voice from the direction of the shop's front door. Tomoyo gasped at the sound - it was the store's owner! He grabbed Li's arm and looked at the brooch. "That's from my store!" he shouted. "How did you kids get it?"
"We were just comparing it to the one you have there," Li said calmly, pointing to the window again.
The man looked down at the brooch in Li's hand, then at the one in the window. "That's impossible..." he said. "That brooch is a one-of-a-kind antique! My grandfather made it with his own hands and destroyed the mold afterward!"
"Guess someone must have found a way to copy it," returned Li. "It doesn't look that special to me. I could probably make one just like it myself."
"Did you make this?" the owner asked, waving the brooch in Li's face. "Where did you get it?"
"Would you mind giving it back now?" Li asked, not batting an eye. "Don't make me go to the police box. They don't take kindly to old men who bully kids."
Sakura grabbed Li's shoulder imploringly. "Don't provoke him, Li," she whispered.
"He can't prove anything," Li replied coolly, as much for the man's benefit as for Sakura's. "Like he said, his brooch is one-of-a-kind, and it's sitting right there in his store. If he's not going to accuse us of stealing, then he'd better just move along and leave us alone."
The man's eyes narrowed, and Tomoyo had the sinking feeling that he was about to drag Li into the store and call the police. She stepped forward, clearing her throat to buy time to think of a way to explain their situation without telling the truth about the Clow Cards; but the man stepped away with one last glare at Li. "I don't want to see you kids around my store again, or your parents will hear about this."
Li brazenly stuck his tongue out at the owner's back as he walked away. "Adults are all the same. They think they can push us around because we're kids, but all we have to do is stand up to them once and they can't do a thing."
"That was amazing, Li!" cheered Tomoyo, whose knees were still shaking. "You're so brave!"
"Eh, it was nothing," said Li. "Here's your brooch."
Tomoyo accepted the brooch from him, while Sakura took the first chance to compare the two brooches. "How is it possible?" she wondered aloud. "It really is an exact copy. But that man said that it was the only one like it in the world. So how...?"
"Don't you even know your own power?" Li shot back. "This is the work of the TWIN card."
"Oh, right," Sakura agreed sheepishly. "I forgot about that card."
"Then instead of stealing the brooch from the store," Tomoyo realized, "JOKER just made a copy of it this time."
Li nodded. "I think that proves that JOKER's power hasn't returned. Twice now, it's granted the same wish using a different power."
"Well, that's good news," said Sakura. "It must be pretty weak by now."
"It's also bad news," countered Li. "It means that we don't have the power of RETURN to undo any mistakes we might make. From this point on, any trouble that JOKER causes is done for good."
Tomoyo felt a lump forming in her throat at Li's declaration. Her own mind filled in the unspoken words: any trouble that Joker causes by granting her wishes. There was no way to deny that her desires were responsible for everything that JOKER had done. Even such a harmless thing as a brooch, even when the original remained where it was while she had a mere copy, her wish had still caused more trouble than it was worth.
"Is something wrong?" Sakura asked, apparently seeing some of the guilt on Tomoyo's face.
Tomoyo curled her fingers around the brooch again, taking in the smooth texture of the gold plating and the slightly rough blue coating on the petals. Why was it that such a beautiful object could feel so loathsome when she finally had it? She hauled her arm back and hurled it down the street as far as she could. "I HATE IT!" she screamed.
Sakura and Li gasped in unison at the venomous declaration from the mouth of the most loving person they'd ever met. Sakura approached her carefully, as if suddenly afraid of the girl her best friend had become. "Tomoyo...."
"Why does everything I want have to hurt people?" wailed Tomoyo as her legs failed her and she fell to her knees, steady streams of hot tears pouring down her cheeks despite herself. "I never wanted to hurt anyone!"
Sakura knelt beside Tomoyo and held her in a tight hug. "It's okay, Tomoyo. It's not your fault."
"But it is," Tomoyo sobbed. "I stole jewelry, made Li disappear, set my mother's garden on fire, froze Sakura in time forever, and even manipulated her emotions... and I wanted all of it! Every one of those things was something I wanted!" Torn with hatred for herself, Tomoyo turned and buried her face in Sakura's blouse. "I don't want to want anything anymore! Not if people get hurt!"
"You can't be angry at yourself for this," said Li. "It's the power of JOKER that makes your wishes hurt people."
"But Kero said that JOKER chose me because I was unselfish... how can I be unselfish when I want so many things?"
Li opened his mouth to say something else, but Sakura's eyes caught his with a warning glare before he could come up with the words, and he wisely decided to shut up.
"I'm scared, Sakura," Tomoyo whispered, barely breaking the silence. "I'm scared of what will happen to everyone if I keep wishing for things."
"It's all right, Tomoyo," Sakura assured her. "Whatever happens, we'll be together."
Tomoyo gratefully squeezed Sakura so hard that the older girl couldn't breathe until she loosened her grip. As bad as she felt, Sakura always had a way of convincing her that things would work out in the end. Still, the tears had already started, and didn't stop until Dr. Kinomoto's car pulled up to the curb to pick the kids up and take them home. In the meantime, it was all Tomoyo could do not to wish for anything that would end up hurting her friends again. It was beyond even JOKER's incredible power to grant the only wish that would truly make her happy now - to never have another wish again.
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