They gazed in each other's eyes, as Oogami's arms pulled her closer until she could feel his heart beating steadily against hers. Their lips brushed against each other, locked in a passionate kiss.

              Sakura woke up as his name left her lips. She touched her right cheek, tracing it to her lips, and felt the heat rise up to her face as she remembered her dream. She looked at the table stand next to her bed. On top, it was a delicate square box, no bigger than her palm. She smiled to herself.
              "I will tell him tonight..."

              Pure chaos was the only word to describe the Imperial Theater. Everyone was running in every which direction, yelling at everyone and everything. There were quite a few crashes, knocking over people and props. This brought about more chaos, which brought about more accidents, which brought about more chaos...
              Oogami felt as if he was being pulled in the direction of the four winds all at once. The floor needed cleaning, the chairs needed moving, the tables needed wiping, the curtains needed to be changed, and the decorations needed to be put up. On top of that, he still had to practice for tonight's show. He wasn't sure if he could remember his lines for all the confusion about him.
              Oogami sighed mentally. Nevertheless, outwardly, he put up a smiling face. "Sumire-kun! What is it?"
              "I just wanted to tell you," she said seductively. "To save a dance for me at tonight's party..."
              "Uh...sure..." Oogami blushed.
              Sumire smiled again. "Ta ta!" she waved. Oogami waved back.

              "Oogami-oniichan!" Iris squealed. Oogami turned around and smiled.
              "What is it, Iris?"
              "I wanna dance with you tonight, okay?"
              "No problem, Iris," he said, ruffling her hair.
              Iris giggled and skipped away.
              Oogami continued to hang up the decorations.

              A semblance of order has returned to the Imperial Theater. The floors have been scrubbed, curtains changed, chairs moved, tables cleaned, and decorations hung. Oogami went into the kitchen to find Maria helping with the food.
              "Need any help, Maria?" Oogami offered.
              "No, thank you. I saw the look on your face this morning," Maria smiled.
              Oogami raised an eyebrow.
              "I thought that if another person called you to help them, you'd faint on the spot," Maria laughed. "Just sit down and take a break. You deserved it." Maria served a plate of ramen, and two pieces of mochi.
              "Arigato, Maria."
              Maria just smiled.
              Oogami looked up. "Yes, Maria?"
              "Dance with me, at the party."
              Oogami smiled. "Consider it done."

              Oogami was lying down on his bed blissfully, grateful for the retreat. He read his lines and played the scenario over and over again in his head, until he was positive that he had his lines down pat.
              He was about to fall asleep when a knock came on the door.
              He quickly got up and opened it, to be greeted by Kanna.
              "Hello Kanna."
              "Kohran told me to give you this. It's some sort of a mechanical gizmo that's supposed to help you to…Oh, I forgot. I guess you'll just have to see her yourself. She's down at the basement." She gave him what looked suspiciously like a normal watch.
              "Thank you, Kanna."
              "By the way, save a dance for me tonight," Kanna said.
              Oogami just nodded his head.
              Why is he getting a feeling of déjà vu?

              Oogami walked down the stairs carefully. The lights in the basement were dimmed and he could hear soft music playing.
              "Aha!" Kohran jumped at him from behind, pulled him in a twirl, and began to do the tango with him.
              "I take it you want to dance with me at the party tonight?"
              Kohran smiled. "You're getting smarter all the time, Oogami-san."

              Oogami couldn't help but feel he had missed something. In his mind, he made a checklist, and every box was checked. He scratched his head in puzzlement.
              "What is it that I forgot?"

(11.00 p.m.)
              Their play, Hamlet, had been a runaway hit, as usual. The audience is now dancing, with drinks and food flowingly freely. Oogami was turned from one girl to another, each demanding a dance with him. Oogami felt a little bit giddy. Maybe it was the drink and all the whirling around...

              "Oogami-san...You promised..."Sumire whispered as she pulled him aside.
              "Okay..." Oogami allowed himself be led into one of the empty rooms in the Imperial Theater. Sumire had already set up some slow music, and the sound intoxicated him as much as the wine did, swirling around in his head like a beautiful rainbow.
              Sumire pulled him close to her body as they danced a slow song, their feet stepping in rhythm. To Oogami, it seemed as if they are dancing for an eternity.
              "Oogami-san..."Sumire whispered in his ear. He could smell her expensive perfume, and it reminded him of fresh bouquets of flowers.
              Sumire pulled him into a kiss.
              Oogami responded.

              Behind them, a box clattered to the floor. Oogami turned around, just in time to see a single sakura blossom fall gently to the floor.
              "M...Masaka...?!" Sakura whispered. She stood at the doorway, unbelieving the scene in front of her yet acknowledging it as the truth. She was too stunned to even move.
              "Sakura!" Oogami yelled.
              Sakura ran.
              Oogami let go of Sumire and went to pick up the fallen cherry blossom, putting it back to the box gently and held it close to his chest.
              "Oogami-san." Sumire said quietly.
              "How could I've been so blind?" Pain laced his voice.
              Behind him, Sumire flinched, but it disappeared as soon as it came.
              Sumire understood that she was all but forgotten. There was only one girl he was thinking about now.
              Putting on a cold and indifferent face, she walked up to Oogami and placed her hand on his shoulder.
              "It's not too late to catch her..."
              Oogami stood up and looked at Sumire. Sumire pointed at the box he still held close to his heart. They both understood what Sakura meant.
              "Gomen, Sumire."
              Oogami took off.
              Sumire only stared at his disappearing form.
              "Sayonara, Oogami-san..."

(The harbor)
              Sakura ran as fast as she could, the images blurred as she passed from street to street. Finally, she reached the edge of the harbor. She simply broke down and cried. Hot tears flowed down her cheeks as she dropped to her knees. The people around her danced and drank, most of them unaware of her crying figure in the dark.
              The ocean was calm, with the moonlight reflecting on every crest of the waters. Boats and ships were cruising silently, their owners merrymaking to their heart's content. Somewhere in the distance, a motorcycle engine revved down and died. Sakura took no notice, as her sobs subsided into unforgiving relegation that Oogami only had eyes for Sumire. She took several deep breaths, steadying the erratic beating of her heart. Slowly she stood to her feet, watching the deep black silver waters in front of her.

              Oogami felt his heart crush. As he slowly dismounted from his motorcycle, his eyes never left the figure crying alone in the dark.
              "What have I done...?"
              Oogami watched as she stood up uncertainly, leaning to the railing for support. Her back was always turned to him. Oogami cursed himself a thousand times for being such a fool, and for being so blind.
              He took several small steps towards her, careful not to make a sound.

              Sakura froze. How did he find me? She thought. Hurriedly she wiped the remaining tears away from her face, yet she made no move to turn around.
              "Sakura..." His voice called her name, called for her, and she heard the pleading in his voice.
              Oogami gently turned her around, his hands on her shoulders.
              "Look at me," he pleaded. She made no move.
              Oogami lifted her chin until he saw her eyes. He studied her face in the moonlight. Yet, her eyes would not meet his. She looked away.
              The atmosphere was thick with tension, and Oogami could almost feel his pain and her pain pulsating in the air, threatening to smother him unless he did something.
              Oogami took out the box Sakura had meant to give him earlier, with the sakura flower still cushioned in the silk.
              "Yes, Sakura," he looked into her eyes. "Yes."
              Sakura looked at him in surprise, glancing at flower, her flower, then into his eyes.
              "No buts," Oogami said gently, placing his finger on her lips. "It was always you."
              Oogami pulled her closer and she closed her eyes. His lips were soft and sweet, with a hint of wine. Her arms around his neck and his around her waist, they kissed with nothing but unrestrained passion that was let loose after being kept in confinement for so long. His body warmed hers in the cold winter's night, and they took no notice of the wind of change that blew around them.
              Above them, fireworks lit up the sky, blossoming into multicolored flowers that faded into the night. All around them people cheered, with noisemakers and party whistles.
              Gently they broke their kiss, and turned to watch the magic colors in the sky. Oogami stroked her hair gently, tucking a stray hair behind her ear. He bent down to her ear and whispered.
              "Happy New Year, Sakura-kun."
              "Happy New Year, Oogami-san."
              They both smiled. It would be a good New Year.

The End.   =Þ 

Author's Notes: For Spike Spiegel, who helped me more than he could ever imagine! Thanks for giving me the inspiration, and for helping me to write again! Also to Axel Terizaki, thanks for being there during the happy and sad times!

Yours Truly,
DJ Lesser © 1999

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