How Sakura Got Her Giggle Back


After getting trapped in a Phantom Mirror, Sakura wakes up ambushed by friends who are determined not to let her stay sunk in despair and trauma.

Date: 2017-09-15
Pose Count: 41
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-15 20:06:53 82827
Tuxedo Kamen went off with Sakura about an hour ago, taking her from the park to the ECFH. Once there, he got her situated on one of the couches in his own living room -- the one with the mosaic tile floor and the reinforced everything and the beautiful four-walled mural. He let her sleep for a while, during which he let his Shitennou know what happened and that he was going to be calling a bunch of other people to help her, and that they were absolutely not obligated to get involved-- and during which he started heating up a plethora of delicious leftovers and defrosting rose-honey pastries from Makoto.

About half an hour in, he rang up Gull and let her know he'd be waking Sakura up once she and anyone else she wanted to bring was there, and then rang up Tadase and explained the situation as best he could and that he had done everything he could to help, but that Tadase was much, much, much better at this kind of thing and he'd really deeply appreciate it if Tadase could come over; that Sakura would be waking up and in need of support in fifteen to twenty minutes...

...and then when he got a call from the front desk that people wanted to come up, he told the concierge to let everyone up and unlocked and opened his apartment door, right across from the elevator.

And then, hand on Sakura's forehead, he flooded her with warm healing energy and a peace that she could grab hold of and keep if she wanted it.
Alexis Raskoph 2017-09-15 20:12:29 82828
"So just so we're clear," mutters a Certain Non-Magical German Boy, on the way up towards the penthouse suite of the building-- the Earth Court's hangout. He's besides Rashmi, off the end of the chaos that went through Tokyo with the Terribads and such-- and it shows on the two of them too, most likely. Their clothes are all intact, but there's some fatigue surely present-- and there's a length of cloth wrapped around the knuckles of one of Alex's hands.

"There's enough on people's minds with what happened just now," Alex goes on, with his foot tapping impatiently against the elevator car's floor while he stares at the floor indicator. "Now's probably not the best time to pour whatever other nonsense worry you have on everyone else too, okay? We can talk about it *later*."
Rashmi Terios 2017-09-15 20:16:06 82829
"It's not nonsense," Rashmi says, her frazzled worry beginning to crack into outright irritation. "Except for that, you're right. We've got immediate concerns."

Knocking on the door to be polite, she opens it up, and immediately changes out her shoes for one of the many pairs of house slippers in the entranceway. "Chiba-san? Are you okay?" ...Yes, that is how she opens. Not 'hi,' not 'something happened,' but 'are you okay.'
Haruna Kurosawa 2017-09-15 20:16:46 82830
Haruna Kurosawa arrived via Balcony as Cure Gull, but then shifted out of henshin immediately as she slipped into the room and peeked around past the curtain before entering properly. No large flowery 'Hellllooooo!' here right now.

"I'm here!" she does ring out as she spins once and eyes Mamoru's working. She lets him work. But she does ask.

"Is she going to be okay...?" she asks silently with some worry.

She also has with her, coffee. And a bag of apple turnovers. "Coffee is for us. Turnovers are for Sakura when she wakes up." she says. "I dunno how many'll show up but I brought enough I hope!" she says.

She peeks over at Rashmi and waves! "Hi!" she insists.
Tadase Hotori 2017-09-15 20:22:58 82831
Arriving later than Gull - thanks to having to worm away from paperwork - is Tadase, shifting out of his henshin in a burst of golden light on the balcony before coming in, Kiseki floating over his shoulder.

He's not extremly overcheery, instead picking up on the gravity of the situation and just nodding with a soft smile to people as he steps over to the girl, though there's a bow with a slight 'Mamoru-sempai' to the older teenager. He takes a seat - and Kiseki is already inching not-all-that-sneakily towards the pastries.
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-09-15 20:33:23 82833
Of course, being Kero, he decided to come from the balcony as well! Seriously, did ANYONE use the bloody elevator? On his back was Tomoyo. Around the young girl's neck was the key of clow and, of course, the girl was the perfect imagine of refinement(seriously, she had flown here on Kero's back and not a single hair was out of place. How in the blazes did she manage THAT?)

She stepped forward, a look of concern on her face. "How is she?" she asked, staring at her friend with worry and... "Oh, um. I made some cake for everyone. Too," she said, holding up a small box to Mamoru. Inside was a perfect strawberry creme cake, three layers with little heart shaped strawberries. Did she make this herself?

Sakura, meanwhile... "Nngggg..." Her eyes slowly opened and... "Huh?" she asked softly. Then let out a shriek. She sat up and looked around and then... realized where she was, and who she was with. Her eyes lowered and she closed her eyes. The look of regret and shame flooded forth, she didn't say anything but it was quite apparent she felt really bad already. "Sorry..." she whispered, fidgeting slightly on the couch.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-15 20:43:00 82835
Well, Alexis and Rashmi used the elevator!

Mamoru lifts his free hand to give a distracted wave of greeting to those coming in, and glances up to grant a crooked smile. "I'm all right-- just... really tired. Really not actually up to handling this on my own. If-- if you guys manage to convince her to come back to magic, then even if I've gone out of the room, come get me? I'm holding her cards for her."

He reaches to put his hand on Tadase's shoulder and squeeze it: the older boy's gratitude here is too big for words. Kiseki, of course, definitely gets gestured pastry-wards; Gull gets a nod and a quick smile. "She definitely has first dibs on those turnovers."

People are asking if Sakura will be all right, and all Mamoru can do is shrug. "She has the capacity to be okay, but I've run out of the right words..."

...and then Tomoyo's holding out a box of cake, too, and it's beautiful, and Sakura's waking up so he slips his hand away from her and stands up to receive the cake gravely, then put it on the coffee table near the couch. Sakura says 'sorry' and Mamoru just calmly smiles at her then moves off away to the kitchen to get plates and forks and cups and tea and cans of soda for anyone who doesn't want coffee, and the non-sweets food he'd heated up. "If," he says as he walks, "anyone needs healing after that mess, just let me know. It's no trouble."
Hannah Sharpe 2017-09-15 20:47:47 82837
Hannah enters the ECFH with somehow even less subtlety than usual. Not so much the leap to the balcony, as the way she descends the stairs and how a big bald russian man becomes a large husky half way down. One might almost think that the horrible villain Miss White is worried.

"She doing okay?" Are Hannah's first words. Then she slumps against the un-Sakura-occupied couch as she breathes heavily. To say she rushed along when she got the word from Haruna would be an understatement. After a few silent minutes, and as she finally catches her breath, she finally tries to force some sort of pride and self-confident casualness into her voice. "Hey guys. Haruna-chan. Mamo-kun. Hey kids." She's rambling, and she swallows. Sakura speaks, and then she lets go of Boris' lead. The big dog pads up, and tries to lick her on the face! A quiet arf. Lick!

Hannah's smiling, regaining her composure at least in her face. Her hands are squeezing the couch hard. "Hey, hey. Don't start saying 'sorry' as soon as you wake up. I've had my face pushed in by a youma or two, so don't start that, alright?" Smile! Once more, she's trying to radiate confidence. The thought that she /believes/ in Sakura.

"Learning experience! Right?" Help. Help guys! She waves off the offer of healing.
Hannah Sharpe 2017-09-15 20:49:43 82838
One might also note that her hair smells of....roses!?
Haruna Kurosawa 2017-09-15 20:52:35 82840
Argh! Shriek! Haruna Kurosawa winces as she kind of relaxes a moment after. She sighs. "Hi Sakura-chan! You're okay I promise!" she says. "Something happened and you were in one of those stupid Phantom Empire mirrors for a bit." she frowns. "Just relax. Take a deep breath." she says, as she rubs Sakura's shoulder with a smile.

Then Hannah and Boris! Yay! "Hiii Hannah-chan!" she sings.

She pauses and leans up. And sniffs. SNIFFS Hannah's hair. "Ohhhh. Roses~" she sings teasingly.

A pause and a look over to Tadase. and Kiskei. "Hey those are for Sakura first. HANDS OFF SHRIMP!" she says to Kiseki.
Rashmi Terios 2017-09-15 20:56:59 82841
Glancing at the crowd around Sakura, Rashmi furrows her brow, moving off into the kitchen after Mamoru, bobbing her head in greeting to all in the apartment. Under cover of arranging the pastries to look as good as they smell on plates, she looks to Mamoru, worry in her eyes. "What happened to her, Chiba-san?"
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-15 21:03:56 82842
In the kitchen, Mamoru shifts uncomfortably and gives Rashmi a tight little smile. "She got attacked by a Witch and witnessed a number of people get beheaded around her. She quit magic. I have her cards. Tomoyo-san has her wand. She's been doing volunteer work in the meantime and staying away from magic... and then today she got trapped in a Phantom mirror like all the people without any magic at all. She passed out. I carried her here. She's full of despair and self-loathing and I am completely out of cope."

He sets a bunch of things on a tray and puts that one next to where Rashmi is arranging pastries, then shifts his weight again and can't actually meet Rashmi's eyes. His body language is tense and defensive and jumpy. "I also have a relatively limited amount of cope when it comes to being social in the first place. I hate to ask, but -- since you've done it before and know where everything is -- would you do me the favor of playing hostess tonight? I'll be just down the hall between the waterfall and the mountain city, second door on the right."
Alexis Raskoph 2017-09-15 21:09:26 82843
"...I think maybe now is not such a good time to talk about the other trouble either," murmurs Alex under his breath just sidelong to Rashmi, and his hand instinctively goes to nursing at his bound right hand, eyes moving over to where Sakura has been laid down with concern-- though what Mamoru says causes an outright state of confusion in him.

"Quit magic...?" He repeats in bemusement, with his mouth left hanging open after as if he's intending to sa something more-- but ends up never verbalizing anything further. Not on that, anyway. There is a temptation, too, to go right up to Sakura and say something to her directly, but... considering *their* history, it dawns on him pretty quickly that it might not be a great idea. So instead, he akwardly lets out an "Um" when he turns after Rashmi and just offers to her, "...Let me know if you need any help, okay? I... Yeah."

The fact that he's so demure now might be deemed a little out of character of him too. As if Rashmi hadn't already witnessed a ton of *other* discrepancies in his presence.

And then? Then there's that one voice. The faintly american-accented one. The german's ear twitches, and he rounds his way back out from the kitchen, to peek out and...

"...Hannah."

The boy has come to a pause again. Lingering just at the doorway to the kitchen, where he can see the gathering of people altogether there, though his focus is primarily on the white-haired girl, now.

"...You look. Better."
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-09-15 21:17:27 82845
Tomoyo smiled down at her. "Hi Sakura-chan. We're uhhh... all worried about you..." She really didn't know what to say now. What could you say? Her best friend was going through problems she couldn't imagine. Heck, that most adults couldn't imagine. The fact the girl had broken down was no real surprise.

Sakura gave a weak smile. "I... I'm okay! Really. I'm.... I'm fine. None of you have to worry. I-I'm completely okay," she lied, trying to put on a straight face. But.... she was just a kid. The sad mist in her eyes and the quivering mouth gave it all away. She was trying to be strong, to look strong, for them. She looked between them. A bit worried. "I... I'll take back the... the cards... okay?" she said.

"Oh, then I guess you are feeling much better!" Kero said. COMPLETELY missing the mood and the things that are going unsaid.
Rashmi Terios 2017-09-15 21:22:02 82846
THe moment Rashmi hears Kero's attempt at being cheerful, Rashmi sighs, the slap of hand to face audible. "...Go on and rest, Mamo-kun," Rashmi says, turning a gentle smile on the apartment's owner. "I've got this."

Picking up the plate of decoratively arranged turnovers, Rashmi sweeps into the kitchen, very clearly trying to emulate her mother's effortless glide, and maybe getting it about... half-right? Little more, little less? Fourteen and still growing is no match for forty-plus and ultraconfident. "Heeyyyy, Sakura-chan," she says, shooing her cluster of well-wishers far enough back that she can occupy the girl's attention with fluffy fruit-stuffed pastry. "Haruna-san said you get first dibs on these, okay?"
Hannah Sharpe 2017-09-15 21:24:45 82847
Hannah, it seems, has been a bit out of the loop. 'Witch'. 'Beheading'. The young woman, who routinely plays with Witches and Familiars like guinea pigs, has a little too much knowledge of just the kind of trauma that could inflict on someone so innocent and loving as Sakura. Cue the second swallow of the night. There's a hard pit in her stomach, and the food she was sniffing suddenly smells utterly repulsive. A few breaths.

One hand finally unclenches from the couch as a certain Gull sneaks up from behind! "Aaaah!" Her eyes go wide, her face is red to the ears, and is she nose bleeding? Oh yes. Slump back against a Gull!

"You little...you're going to pay later, my sweet~." Leeean, one arm tries to find Haruna's. For all the teasing, her hand feels sweaty and nervous. She so rarely feels this kind of outright worry for those she loves.

To Alexis? She smiles! "What? When do I /not/ look absolutely amazing, huh?" Boasts Hannah proudly. Then crosses her legs, leans back just a bit more, and brings both hands to cross in front of her. Nope, she very much /doesn't/ look like she's dying right now. Cue one last squeeze to a Haruna shoulder.

Her confidence somewhat restored, she walks over to Sakura. "Sakura. I'm glad you're up. Let me just say this: your life, magical or otherwise, is yours. Take it at your own pace and make decisions that you won't regret. Whatever other people think about your choices doesn't matter. That's all I have to say."

Then she'll lean in, and gently try to hug her littlest sis.

"Missed you kiddo." Sniff. Don't cry Hannah. Not in front of an entire room of people. Hannah tries to hold in her soft side. Ignore the tears already streaming down her face.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-15 21:25:21 82849
Mamoru looks like he would actually hug Rashmi right now if he were at all okay with contact right now; the expression on his face is one of almost embarrassing gratitude. "Thanks," he breathes, the smallest bit of tension evaporating from his shoulders--

--and he slips out the back of the kitchen, making his way to his room via the labyrinthine 'other apartments' route. There may be an understated sneeze as he vanishes around the corner.
Hannah Sharpe 2017-09-15 21:25:21 82850
And then she's out of the way for Rashmi's Plate of Heavenly Goodness
Haruna Kurosawa 2017-09-15 21:36:55 82852
Haruna Kurosawa grins and steps back to let everyone get at Sakura that wants to as she eyes Hannah with a grin and a snuggle~ "Hannah-chan~ You should tell Sakura the good news. I'm sure it'll help boost her mood~" she sings teasingly. "or I can~" she says. "Because I'm sure it'll help right now." she says.

She smiles to Rashmi-chan and gives a thumb up! Then she spins and has a sit down and watches for a few moments from the couch.

"Sakura-chan! Listen to what Hannah-chan says~" then her eyes turn to Alexis and she blinks.

What does Alexis mean by that? Her eyes narrow as she look between Alexis and Hannah.
Alexis Raskoph 2017-09-15 21:38:25 82853
"Well at least better than when I last saw you" Alex counters to Hannah with a small, wry smile on his own part

He doesn't chime in on the matter of Sakura, but the look that he sends over to the wya of Hannah does suggest, at least, that he seems to more or less agree with that sentiment, too.
Tadase Hotori 2017-09-15 21:46:13 82854
Tadase waits his turn to speak and provide comfort, too, but he puts a hand gently on Sakura's shoulder. "All of this... magical stuff. It's hard. And it's okay for it to be hard. It's alright for things to be difficult, and for you to need time away, and time for yourself. That's the big thing nobody tells you. A lot of things are probably riding on you like they do for everyone else, and there's never anybody telling you to take a break and breathe it in and find yourself out."

"But that's what this is, now. You don't have to take the cards back today - coming back in a gasping hurry doesn't do anything any good, just like deciding to quit forever does. You need time and that's okay, and we're all here to help - not to push one way or another." He looks at everyone else as if daring to dispute that. Then Kero tries to get involved in such a way, and Tadase just looks at Kiseki.

"Hey Kiseki, doesn't the little lion look like he'd make an amazing royal mount?" Kiseki looks at Kero. *_* And off he goes chasing the lion away for the next moment.
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-09-15 21:55:09 82856
Sakura Kinomoto blinked and then picked up one of the pastries. She gave a weak smile and bit into it. She couldn't even taste it. "It's nice," she lied. "Please, everyone, h-have some. I'm okay. Really... really I am. I'm fine. Please... stop worrying about me..." The tears were starting to fall. Then a hug from Hannah. She smiled and gave her a hug back. "I... I-I missed you t-too," she said, her voice quivering. "Y-you have g-good news?" She was trying to keep strong, trying so hard to be strong. To be capable. Look what had happened! she wasn't quite sure, but she knew something bad had. And it ws her fault. Just what had she seen in that mirror? "P-please. I'm okay. T-tomoyo-chan? I'll take the wand back. Please. I.... I...."

Then she looked to Tadase when he spoke. Wait, who was he? He looked kind of familiar. "I-I'm.... I'm fine. Really... I..." She choked on the words, her entire body shaking. "I-I'm good to go b-back out... I'm good to.... to go a-and get the cards. G-get the...."

Kero yelped as suddenly Kiseki. "Ack!Get away from me you tiny chew toy! I am the guardian of the clow cards, not some mount!" fleeee!

Sakura trembled and then broke down. Her hands covered her face and she turned away from them and just sobbed, her entire body quivering as she did her best to sob into the cushions of the couch, unable to hold it in any more.
Hannah Sharpe 2017-09-15 21:58:41 82857
Hannah wipes her tears, and by the time she turns around, she's grinning. She wants to hug the feathery PreCure right now! But no, now is not the time for snuggle town, it's time to show off!

With a laugh, Hannah is suddenly behind Haruna, 'peeking' over the other girl's shoulder. A golden ring on her finger is prominently displayed! "Soooo. Sakura-chan. What do you think about weddings?" Starts Hannah with an impish grin on her face.

"I hope you like them. Because in a few years, me and this most beautiful, lovely girl in the world are going to have one." Leeean, smooch!

"I, uh, popped the question. Because I love Haruna Kurosawa with all my heart, and there's no one else I'd rather spend the rest of my life with. My sweetheart~!"

And then she's laughing. "And you're all invited. ESPECIALLY YOU MAMO-JERK! YOU'D BETTER BRING USAGI!" Howls Hannah back towards the very non-coping Mamoru. And really, probably half the Shittenou that might be in the building. Or in a square mile.

But soon enough Sakura is breaking down. Hannah sighs. A mental tug at Boris, and then? The big dog crawls up on the couch. He lays his head on Sakura's ankles. Lean. And soon, Hannah's up behind Sakura again, gently rubbing the girl's back.

Tadase gets a slow nod. She was pondering throwing Kero out a window, but that works much better.
Rashmi Terios 2017-09-15 22:00:50 82859
"That's wonderful news, Sharpe-san!" Rashmi says, total sincerity in her voice, and even with the atmosphere the couple gets a bright, beaming smile.

But the moment Sakura starts to break down, Rashmi shifts, carefully putting a restraining hand on Tomoyo, and gesturing Kero over with a quick gesture. Even though she probably doesn't need the encouragement, the redhead looks to Haruna, nodding toward Sakura. And thus is the hugging order established, and Hannah gets a bright, approving smile.
Tadase Hotori 2017-09-15 22:08:43 82861
Tadase pats Sakura's shoulder, his touch is gentle, there, but not oppressive. He doesn't have Mamoru's healing energy by any means, but he has a sort of understanding born of seeing so much in THIS life. "This is okay too. I think we've all cried here at some point, and there's nobody who can tell you not to. Bottling it up is bad for you, and you looked just about ready to pop."

"You can talk about it or not, that's your choice. Sometimes people need to work through it alone, and sometimes they need friends to help them on the path... both are fine."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-15 22:26:02 82865
Rashmi and Tadase both get a text from Mamoru at the same time:

    Mamoru TXT: her cards are trying to get away, they're panicking because she's so upset. should i let them go or try and reassure them that you've all got it handled?

Apparently even in his room, ostensibly by himself, the guy is dealing with panic and trauma and emotional overload. If he's had them since the witch incident and they keep worrying about Sakura and his empathy picks it up...
Rashmi Terios 2017-09-15 22:28:43 82866
Blinking as a buzz sounds from her pocket, Rashmi pulls out her phone, frowning at the message she receives. Quickly, she just replies 'One second' and shoves the phone back in her pocket, kneeling next to the chair when it seems like Sakura's crying is beginning to wear itself out a little.

"Sacchan?" she says softly. "You've got a whole bunch of other friends who're really worried about you, is it okay if they come in?"
Haruna Kurosawa 2017-09-15 22:30:55 82867
Haruna Kurosawa beams at Sakura. "That's good news~" she sings. She slides up to Sakura and conspiratorially whispers. "You have first dibs for flower girl." she says.

She backs up and grins as she beams at Rashmi and then eyes Tadase because. Ugh. Tadase.

She gently purses her lips. And looks to Rashmi with a blink. Whole other friends. Wah?
Alexis Raskoph 2017-09-15 22:38:11 82868
"Oh *really*," Alex says on the announcement of the GOOD NEWS! on part of Hannah and Harunah, and Alex just grins even wider now-- now that's more like the usual Alex. Rather than. You know. Whatever the heck he was acting like not two hours earlier. "Though, don't forget, huh? We still have some unfinished business too, Hannah~."

What he *does* mean is the fight they had, but... might not come across that way to certain ears.
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-09-15 22:47:01 82870
Sakura Kinomoto eventually came back out, sniffling. "H-huh?" she asked. And it was obvious the words were trying to process. Trying. Still going. Going--

"You're... getting married?" she asked, a real smile forming on her lips. "that's... that's really good! I... I'm so happy for you!" Oh, it was a sign of how bad she was that she wasn't jumping around and grabbing the girl's hand and shrieking like the school child she was. But it was still positive. And a real smile!

She then glanced to Rashmi. "H-huh? Oh... um, sure. I... I don't mind," she said in a weak voice. "I'm fine though. I... I know what I have to do," she mumbled, her eyes lowering. "I have to keep.... trying... right? I can't just... stop no matter... matter how badly I want to. A-and... and..." Then blink. "I-I can be a flower girl?"

"Can I make the dresses?" Tomoyo asked. On one hand, having an eleven year old girl make their dresses. On the other hand, if you had seen the stuff Tomoyo could make, yeah, it wouldn't be bad at all.
Hannah Sharpe 2017-09-15 22:48:36 82871
Point! Pooiiiint! Right at Alexis. "Thanks! But you know me. Any time. Anywhere! We could go right out in the alleyway and finish up!" Arms cross!

"But maybe another time. Needs to be the right moment, you know?" A subtle nudge to Sakura.

Rashmi gets a thumbs up! "Thanks Rashmi!" And then back to Sakura. "I wouldn't have any other flower girl! You're the only one for us, Sakura! And sure...Tomoyo-chan right? If you're a friend of Sakura's..."

Hannah just kind of rolls with it. Even embarrassing dresses are worth it for Gull!
Tadase Hotori 2017-09-15 22:56:59 82873
Tadase picks up on what Rashmi is hinting at after he reads Mamoru's text, and leans in a bit to Sakura. "Remember, just like our friends count on us, it's okay to count on them too. It's not a one way street. I think right now you should take all of the encouragement you can get." He texts Mamoru to let them come now.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-15 23:06:35 82874
After Rashmi's 'one second', it takes Mamoru the rest of the time before Tadase's text to convince the cards to just give the friends out there another moment to make sure Sakura would... probably... not flip out on them. "No, please put that down, Windy and Float-- I swear you'll get to go help her in a second-- kuso Snow! You and Bubble and Rain need to not get that rug all wet it's from Usako--!"

He's snatching at cards left and right, and sees Libre making a break for the doorknob; his eyes widen. "Oh no you don't! Come h--"

He is really, really glad when he gets Tadase's text. He is also really glad no one sees him stomp his foot in extreme aggravation at Voice.

The door gets YANKED open, and Mamoru silently stalks the hallway behind the flock of cards whizzing into the living room, then crosses his arms and leans in the archway.
Haruna Kurosawa 2017-09-15 23:11:48 82877
Haruna Kurosawa oh god all the cards. Haruna dives for cover underneath the coffee table.

"I don't want papercuts!" she adamantly insists.
Tadase Hotori 2017-09-15 23:22:20 82879
Tadase smiles as the cards come spreading, zooming, and flying in general chaos towards Sakura. "I think they prefer being around you." That's all he says. It's the softest nudge, without judgement.
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-09-15 23:41:54 82884
Sakura Kinomoto blinked a few times. "Wait, what's--" And then suddenly, CARDS! She yelped and moved back as they flowed in front of her, stacking up to form a deck in front of her. She covered her face and started breathing heavier. "N-no, I-I can't, I don't... I..." she trailed off, shaking.

However, the cards didn't move. They stayed there in front of her. Then, slowly, she lowered her eyes and stared. The cards slowly fanned out around her, forming a wall of magical cards. She felt the tears welling up in her eyes. "But... but I..." she whispered. "I'm scared... I'm not... I can't protect anyone, no matter how hard I try. I...."

A card landed in her hand, making her blink. "But... but there are so many stronger than me and--" A few more cards landed this time, fanned out. "But smarter and--" More cards. Her hand opened fully and they formed a neat stack on her hand.

She trembled, the tears in ehr eyes. "But... I'm not strong enough... I tried and I failed. People died because... I couldn't protect them and I... and I..." Her fingers tightened around the cards though, and she pulled them in close, held them to her chest. Let their warmth wash over her.

"What if I'm not strong enough... or brave enough or--" The words caught in her mouth as the cards glowed. A woman with twisted ponytails and a pink and white glimmering dress appeared in front of her, holding a hand out. Then a moment later she disappeared, replaced by a child in puffy pink pants and a tutu. Then one by one, more cards appeared, only for a second, their forms see through slightly as if they weren't really there, almost like ghosts.

Sakura stared and then... slowly she nodded, the tears welling up in her eyes before she hugged the cards tight to her chest. "Y-you're... you're right. Even.... even if I am s-scared or... or frightened a-and can't.... can't do this... I can't.... I can't t-toss aside my.... my friends n-no matter what. Right?"
Rashmi Terios 2017-09-15 23:48:53 82885
"No matter how scared you are," Rashmi says gently, "you never have to do anything alone, Sacchan. I can't even imagine what happened to you... but I know we'll all be there to help you, if you need it." With that, she heads back into the kitchen, this time coming out with Tomoyo's cake, neatly sliced, and a stack of plates.

"D'you know, the first real fight I had, you were there for? I had no idea what I was doing, I was scared out of my mind and it was all I could do to fight off Lacchan and those youma... But you were there, and I thought to myself 'She can't be much more than half my age, and she's doing everything she can to stop people from being hurt.' That was amazing, Sacchan, it really was. And sometimes we can't save everyone... and that hurts, it does, a lot. But it's a hurt that just makes us want to do better, y'know? Even when you gave up magic, you still helped people, didn't you? So... you understand what that means. That's brave, Sacchan, and don't ever let yourself think any different."
Tadase Hotori 2017-09-16 00:04:23 82890
Tadase looks down at Sakura. "If you're not strong enough, or brave enough, or whatever enough, that's when you don't go at it alone. And I think that's what the cards are trying to say. It's not about doing it alone. They have your back. Your friends have your back. You have a whole room here of people supporting you, and that deck of cards in your hand. You don't have to do it ALONE."
Haruna Kurosawa 2017-09-16 00:07:28 82892
Haruna Kurosawa crawls out from underneath the table and smooths her shirt and skirt out as she beams. "Everyone's right, Sakura-chan! the cards have your back, we all have your back!" she says with a series of nods as she grins. She looks around. Oh Hannah-chan left. Oh well. She'll catch her later.

She nods, reinforcing what everyone says!
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-09-16 00:14:41 82893
Sakura Kinomoto opened her mouth to object. But then, slowly, she looked up and smiled, the tears in her eyes. A real smile formed. "I... thank you... I'm so sorry. I... I forgot. I... I forgot..." And then held out her hand towards Tomoyo. Who smiled and took off the key, placing it in her hand. She held both the cards and the key to her chest, before sighing.

"I... I don't think... I don't tihnk I'm ready yet. To go... back yet. But... but I won't pull away from everyone anymore. I... I promise. Not my friends. N-no matter what. So... I ummmm... let's... eat?" she offered, giving her smile, before wiping the tears from her eyes and sliding the key around her neck. It'd be a while before she was all better, but she was sure with--

CRASH! There was the sound of a coffee table being destroyed as Kero rolls around, trying to get Kiseki off himself and snapping at him with his claws and teeth. "GET OFF ME!"

Sakura stared in shock. And then, miracle of miracles. It was so silly, the sight, the sudden boom, that the little girl.... began to giggle. An actual giggle. Well, that at least probably felt really good to mamoru.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-16 00:21:52 82895
Mamoru decides... to text Sakura later to ask for his voice back. Because too many people plus high emotion levels plus the cards are finally out of his hat and his mental space? Means holing up in his room to be by himself for real for a while. And then? Then? When everyone's gone? Holing up in Kunzite's palace and falling asleep on the caracal.

Besides...

...Sakura's laughing.

If anyone sees his smile before he vanishes again, it's a pretty solid 'hot damn, good job you guys'.

(Later, everyone will get texts of profuse thanks.)

For now-- everyone's got company and delicious food, and they all know they are welcome here, and Rashmi's got his back, and Sakura's feeling well enough to giggle like she used to. It's a pretty darn good end to a long day.