A/N: ZareEraz here! I'm back with another installment of my favorite story! There's lots of yummy things in this chapter for our two lovebirds and their crew of amazing (if strange) friends! I had a really fun time writing this chapter and I hope you enjoy it.
P.S. I know hardly anything about Mahjong, so everything that I do know came from the episode and from a /a-beginners-guide-to-riichi-mahjong/ so check this site out if you do want to know more because this is where I got my references. Have fun kiddos!
Chapter Sixteen: The Girl and The Cherry Blossoms
Spring had come to the temple grounds, the cherry blossoms sprouting and opening at a pace that even Doumeki found surprising. The temple grounds housed a couple dozen such trees, and so if one were to stand in the right place, all they would see were clouds of pink littering the sky. But, as much as he'd like to do that, the archer had other things to do today. Namely, school. He was dressed in his all-black uniform and walked down the path towards the gate. When he stepped outside the grounds, someone was already waiting for him. Watanuki was leaning against the fence, arms crossed and looking like one of those "cool" anime characters, a victorious-looking smirk painted on her lips. Oh boy, what is it this time? Doumeki mentally rolled his eyes, wondering what his girlfriend was up to this time. She chuckled, placing her free hand on her hips, still looking smug.
"Doumeki…" She started, her grin widening.
"Yeah, what's up?" He asked, watching the girl, waiting for whatever she had cooked up. He hoped that it was something he could eat.
"It's finally time to destroy that arrogant, insolent and audacious attitude of yours forever!" She cackled. The girl seemed to be taking much pleasure out of something – probably the opportunity to try and mess with the archer – but Doumeki couldn't really see where she was coming from or where she was going with this. "You used to be weak as a child, right?" The raven's lips closed into a smug, toothless smirk.
"Huh?" Doumeki replied, not denying the fact. Watanuki giggled gleefully, her cheeks blushing in excitement.
"You wore girl's-!" She pointed an accusing finger at the teen, probably hoping that it would embarrass or unnerve him, but then he went and stole her thunder.
"Yes, I wore a kimono." He stated, clearly unresponsive to her attempted to embarrass him. "My grandfather told me to." And with her thunder stolen, Watanuki collapsed to the ground, despair written all over her face. Doumeki had to wonder why she was still trying to get some dirt on him…its not like they were rivals anymore…they were dating for heaven's sake.
"People believed it was a customary practice for boys with weak bodies to dress as a girl in order to ensure that they would grow up to be strong," Doumeki continued. "My grandfather said that that was pretty close to the truth. Why? Do you want to wear a kimono? I haven't seen you in one for a while."
"Not for you, you jerk!" Watanuki sprang up from the ground with a vengeance. "Damn it! I thought I had some dirt on you!" I had the perfect opportunity to get him and he had to go and ruin it! The seer bit her thumbnail in frustration as the man just shrugged at her.
"Is that all? Better luck next time." He bent down and gave his fuming girlfriend a chaste kiss on the cheek before picking up the package of bento lunches she'd made, starting his walk to school. Watanuki grumbled for a few more moments before letting out a string of curses and running to catch up with him. The girl was in a foul mood all through morning classes and Wari picked up on her displeasure and Watanuki had to end up explaining the incident and the dream that accompanied it over lunch. The trio was outside having a picnic, sitting beneath the school's cherry trees as the sakura blossoms dance around them. Every once in a while, a strong gust of the wind would send the falling petals into a rapid dance, before letting them land on the ground gracefully.
"Oh, so Doumeki wore girl's clothes when he was a kid?" Wari clarified.
"Only a kimono." The archer corrected simply. A sweat drop appeared on Watanuki's head as she observed him reacting just as calmly in front of Wari as he had with her. Now I feel stupid…I was expecting him to feel ashamed in front of others but he's just the same, old Doumeki. Damn!
"Do you have a picture?" Wari innocently asked. That's right! The picture of him when he was a kid should still be around somewhere. Haruka showed me a copy of it in my dream! Watanuki's evil grin came back, plotting to get the chance to snag the thing. Besides making Doumeki look a little ridiculous…he'd looked adorable all dressed up as a girl and that would be a priceless keepsake. And she could continue to attempted to embarrass him…like at work parties when he got a decent job!
"I have it." Doumeki answered. Watanuki's hopes soared. "But you can't see it." Then they were dashed against the ground and shattered into a million pieces.
"Why the hell not?!" The raven snarled, holding up a threatening fist at her boyfriend.
"I wore kimono until I was nine, but all the pictures that were taken during that time are in the temple. He said it was like a charm. I can't show them to anyone."
"Did your grandfather do that too?" Wari asked.
"Yep. He sealed them up."
"That's pretty amazing!" Wari took a bite of his food, the pair of boys eating in companionable silence as Watanuki mentally kicked herself. Why didn't I take the picture in the dream I had?! Then I would've been able to use the damn thing!
"Don't you think that it's kind of strange that you met Doumeki's grandfather in a dream, Watanuki?" The curly haired boy was now taking to her and the raven wiped the pissed look off her face and gave him a nice smile. "They must be alike."
"Yeah." Watanuki nodded.
"I've been told that when my grandfather was young that he looked like me," the archer said, talking with his mouth full.
"No! It's you who looks like him!" Watanuki growled, hating when Doumeki mixed that up. Seriously, his grandfather was born before him, so anyone born after him looks like him…not the other way around!
"Where is he now?" Wari fired off another question.
"He died when I was in fifth grade." Doumeki didn't seem upset about it at all…Haruka must've just been old. Unbeknownst to the others, Wari briefly thought of his grandmother, the image of her patting his head lovingly stealing away his smile for a moment. Sadness lurked in his eyes, carefully hidden away. Watanuki notice the lack of a smile and addressed him before even thinking about it.
"What is it?" The second he looked up he was smiling like normal. Oh, I guess I didn't need to be worried…
"I made a desert today!" Watanuki said brightly, rummaging around until she found what she was looking for. "It's strawberry mousse!"
"I love strawberry mousse!" The curly haired boy's smiled brightened even more.
"That's great!" The raven held out a little pastry decorated with mousse and fruit and smiled. The boy accepted it gratefully and then as Watanuki went to grab one for herself, she found her boyfriend's hand already in the box. "Hey! Get out of there!"
"You said you had dessert…I want some." The archer stated simply, snagging two before the girl could stop him.
"Wait your turn! Besides, you've already eaten a bento and a half! How much more food do you need?!" The conversation devolved from there, Watanuki's over the top temper and Doumeki's untouchable mood getting Wari to laugh time and again.
As the friends were eating, the raven thought back to her discussion with Yuko two nights ago, when Watanuki couldn't get the mess of dreams she'd been dragged into out of her head. The night before, she'd had the dream with Haruka and that had been the day when everything happened. The only reason she knew what she did about Doumeki dressing in kimono was because she'd (unintentionally) slept with those balloons beside her bed (Yuko had left them there and knew what was going on but the seer hadn't) and she only had those balloons because she met the Dream Buyer and purchased the balloons with the arrow that Doumeki's dream had left behind. And the only reason she had the arrow was because she (unintentionally) bought Doumeki's dream when he told it to her and then ate that freaking cookie she'd given to Wari, which she had given to the boy when he told her about his dream and (unintentionally) purchased it from him. AND the only reason she'd (unintentionally) purchased Wari's dream is because she'd shared her weird Mokona/eggplant dream with him and in return, Wari had told her his dream.
It wasn't until after dinner, while she was piling up the empty dishes that she began to talk about what had transpired with Yuko. Mokona was passed out on the floor with a bottle of sake that was bigger than the pork bun's whole body and Maru and Moro were napping on the floor together, no too far away from the creature. Watanuki sighed and voiced her swirling thoughts, hoping that by talking to Yuko, some things might start to make sense. Or they wouldn't…because Yuko sometimes confused the girl with her explanations.
"If I was going to buy Wari's dream, it would have been nicer if it had been a happier one. Then all that trouble with Doumeki's dream and nearly getting eaten wouldn't have happened." She stated, after catching Yuko up on her train of thoughts. The witch lounged on her couch, still drinking even after dinner. She was dressed in a simple, light green kimono and had her hair tied back in a low ponytail, her usual flamboyant fashion absent.
"Even if you had known it was a nightmare, you still would have bought it, right?" The woman gave her ward a pointed look over her glass, pausing only to continue the conversation before taking another drink. Watanuki took a minute to ponder the question before giving her answer.
"Well…even if it was a nightmare…because it was Wari's…I think I still would've…" She then started blushing, her infatuation with Wari still going strong even though she had a boyfriend now.
"Watanuki." Yuko interrupted her fangirling before it got out of hand. The girl turned to look at her.
"What?" She asked.
"Which part of Wari do you like?" Ok, that's kind of an oddly phrased question, the seer mused to herself. But the answer was easy, of course!
"Which?" Watanuki put her hand behind her head, embarrassed that she was just about to blurt out "everything", but Yuko was apparently looking for something more concrete. "Well, he's cute and kind and…all of him!" She ended up saying everything after all, smiling like a goof.
"Oh, really?" Yuko's expression hadn't changed, and she was eyeing the girl with her cranberry gaze. Watanuki felt the moment get really serious all of a sudden and the smile on her face slid away. The seer watched the witch for a moment, the air around them growing heavy. "Is that really true?" Yuko questioned her again, her words seeming to hold a life of their own. Watanuki hadn't been able to give an answer, realizing that she didn't know everything about Wari…how could someone know absolutely everything about someone else? That's what Yuko's question seemed to be asking: can you like everything about someone when you don't know everything? While having that quiet moment to herself, Watanuki heard a voice addressing her. She'd spaced out while watching Wari eat the strawberry mousse treat, her own treat tasteless in her mouth.
"Is something wrong?" Wari asked, his face a sweet look of concern.
"No, nothing!" The raven replied quickly. She was blushing in embarrassment, realizing that she'd started daydreaming while staring at the boy. That was awkward. "How does the mousse taste?" She asked, trying to cover up her lapse in mental focus.
"It's really yummy!" The curly haired boy's smile was back.
"I'm glad!" Watanuki smiled as well. Then an arm slid into her presence, the long reach spanning almost the entire blanket the trio was sitting on.
"Give me another." It was Doumeki. Watanuki's face scrunched up as if she smelled something bad.
"I'm always telling you that you eat too much!" The girl snarled, while simultaneously handing the archer another treat. The archer's eyes gave her a look that said, "I can't believe you just said that while handed me more dessert," and the raven stuck her tongue out at him in retaliation. Their squabble was interrupted by Wari speaking up again, all attention diverted to him.
"Oh! Did you see the TV program that was on yesterday? I think it was at nine."
"What kind of program?" Watanuki asked. She didn't really get to watch TV all that much at Yuko's shop, but she was still interested in what was on. Wari held up his index finger and began reciting what appeared to be some sort of slogan or catching one-liner.
"'An authentic paranormal experience, a world you might not know of!" Watanuki felt a chill run up her spine and she shivered as she realized that Wari had just come dangerously close to defining her own life. Oh, I definitely know of it!
"I didn't see it." Doumeki answered, the picture of calm. He just munched on his treat like nothing had happened. Watanuki had a strange moment of clarity, realizing that she and Doumeki knew more about that paranormal world that Wari could ever dream of knowing. Wari's knowledge of the actual reality of spirits and magic-like happenings were from his own research and the few experiences that Watanuki shared with him. He doesn't know everything either.
"What was it about?" The raven asked, slightly nervous.
"It was a story about an abandoned hotel where a girl's ghost was said to appear." Watanuki's mood dropped again. Well this sounds familiar…I'm glad that I wasn't there. "The program was basically about exorcising the ghost." A sweat drop rolled down the girl's cheek as what Wari was describing sounded more and more like her life. "And it was surprising that the one doing the exorcising was a small girl! She was probably still around elementary school-age!" Suddenly, Watanuki's weird mood went away as she remembered that Yuko had been watching something like that yesterday (while the seer had been cleaning up dinner and then after dinner drinks and then after drinks-drinks).
"Oh, I think I've seen something like that at Yuko's place."
"They say that the girl will do it again! This time, it seems to be a ghost that is haunting a sakura tree." The boy sounded really excited about everything that related to the ghost and the exorcist girl.
"You are really into this…are you fine with all that ghostly and otherworldly stuff?" Watanuki asked, her own discomfort on the subject hidden behind her closed eyes.
"Yeah! I love it!" Wari's ensuing smile literally blinded the raven. The boy's happiness was so bright and glaring that she had to turn her head away to keep from going blind.
"Ah, r-really?" Having experience the ghostly and otherworldly stuff for herself, Watanuki was baffled that someone could actually like that kind of stuff. Wari is sure a mystery!
"But I bet those people who can really see and feel those things have it tough." His next comment had the girl feeling touched. You hit the nail right on the head! Aw! He's so sweet! The two teens had a moment of sweet friendship…before it was shattered to pieces. Doumeki had decided that his girlfriend was getting a little too into the conversation and a little too into Wari and so he started chewing very loudly, passive aggressively destroying the moment with unnecessarily noisy smacking sounds as he gobbled up the strawberry mouse. Watanuki's temper snapped as she lunged for her boyfriend, reaching across the blanket to grab his collar in one hand and waving an accusing finger at him with the other.
"Don't chew so loud and make noises when people are being moved by the moment!" The seer's voice rose dangerously high and to shut her up, Doumeki took it upon himself to kiss her, quieting her complaints with his lips. Watanuki was so startled that she kind of just let it happen.
Feeling her lips slacken, the archer took the opportunity to lick at her lips before pushing in tongue inside her mouth, knowing that one of two things were going to happen: one, she was going to be so stunned that he was doing this in public and wouldn't do anything or two, freak the hell out. What ended up happening was both. Watanuki had a solid hold on her collar, but she hadn't moved and inch as Doumeki swept his tongue through her mouth, tasting the light strawberry flavor that was left behind after eating her dessert a few minutes ago. She didn't even do anything when he nipped at her lips playfully before going back to kiss her. However, she did do something when his hand came up to her neck, stroking the first vertebra of her spine and that something landed the archer on his back. Watanuki freaked out, letting go of his collar and shoving his shoulders as hard as she could. The girl threw herself back, scrambling away as Doumeki hit the ground, both her hands covering her mouth.
"You PERVERT!" She yelled, her scream slightly muffled by her hands. "Why would you do that here!?" Watanuki was mortified that he'd done that at school and more importantly, in front of Wari! The girl looked over at the boy, trepidation in every movement, but she needn't have worried.
"Aw! You two are so cute!" Wari had clapped his hands together and smiled at them. Watanuki didn't know whether to be relieved that he didn't really care about what had just happened or to be devastated that he didn't really care about what had just happened. First crushes die hard. While she was debating over this dilemma, Wari too the chance to whisper to Doumeki.
"Was it worth it?"
"Worth it." Doumeki picked himself up off the ground and scooted back into his spot. His head and back were a little sore from Watanuki's rough treatment, but other than that, he was fine and he got to kiss her.
"Then I'm glad," The curly-haired boy replied, actually looking pleased for his friends. It was at that point that Watanuki came back to snarl at her boyfriend again (having completely missed the boys' exchange) and from there, the day continued on as normal as any other day.
"God! Doumeki doesn't have any sense of etiquette or delicacy! That asshole." Watanuki was still grumbling about the kiss he'd stolen at lunch as she and Wari walked home together. She was still super embarrassed that her (former) crush (kind of…okay, yes, former) had to witness that.
"But he was telling you that he liked your cooking, right?" Wari replied. The pair began walking up a set of stairs that led into a park, taking the long way home to enjoy the brisk spring weather.
"I wasn't talking about that!" The girl was blushing furiously as she realized that Wari had completely over looked the main reason for why she was pissed…and now she was going to have to explain so that they were on the same page. "I-I-I was talking…a-about the k-k-kiss." She stuttered, nearly tripping over her own two feet.
"Oh, that!" Wari was beaming again, his smile like the sun. "That just means that Doumeki was telling you that he liked you, right?" Watanuki balked when she realized that Wari was teasing her, deliberately! Oh god, no. He's turning into Yuko! But before the girl could trembling in fear of having another of her friends pick up the witch's mannerisms, they reached the top of the stairs and their view opened up to a magnificent sakura tree. The tree must've lived for over a hundred years, its thick trunk stretching high, and its many branches clinging to the sky. It was blooming beautifully, the sakura blossoms appearing like a pink cloud, some of the delicate petals drifting in the soft breeze peacefully.
"Oh, wow! What a huge tree!" The seer gasped as she took in the beauty before her.
"So there were cherry blossoms blooming here too…" Wari was just as enraptured as the girl was. Then, Watanuki noticed that they weren't alone. Standing in front of the little fence that section off the tree was a young girl. She had long, dark blonde hair and was wearing a pastel yellow and tan dress. She was standing beneath the branches of the tree, looking up into the blossoms with a neutral look on her face. She was so cute, but at the same time, very untouchable. Watanuki felt an instant connection with the girl, feeling as if they were similar, as if she'd met this girl before.
"You…" The raven started to speak, taking a few steps closer. The young girl looked away from the blossoms, her gray-green eyes finding Watanuki, her gaze looking much older than her age. It was strange…as Watanuki looked at her, the girl's expression reminded her of Doumeki, the serenity, near emotionless air around her feeling so familiar. But then, as she was about to speak to the girl, the moment was shattered.
"Don't you get any closer!" A streak of blonde, pink and green dashed in front of her, separating Watanuki from the child. The woman was dressed nicely, wearing a pink jacket, maroon top and forest green skirt, but her expression was not so nice. The woman appeared to be the girl's mother, and she was pissed. "Don't get any closer to her!" The woman threw her arms out to the side, blocking Watanuki from getting taking another step. Her pale, blue eyes were filled with disgust and anger, glaring into Watanuki's eyes menacingly. Watanuki didn't know how to respond so she just started mumbling.
"You saw her on TV, right?!" The woman fired off a question but then didn't wait for the answer. "Then you much know who she is! Her power dissipate when people touch her!"
"TV?" The seer still didn't have a clue.
"Don't play dumb!" The woman was getting more and more infuriated, but Watanuki didn't know what to do to calm her down or to make things right. However, the young girl spoke up, diverting the attention to herself.
"Mother." She simply stated, her voice soft, barely more than a whisper.
"U-um…" Watanuki mumbled again when the mother kept glaring at her.
"Mother." The girl repeated the word again.
"Goodness, I can't let my guard down for a moment!" The woman put her hands on her hips and Watanuki could see the young girl through the triangle of her elbow. She was looking right back at her, those deep eyes seeming to stare right into Watanuki's soul. But she didn't feel threatened or uncomfortable. In fact, she liked looking at the girl, she even noticed that there was a tiny beauty mark under her left eye. Then, the raven was pulled away from that gaze as the mother kept complaining. "Even though I've specifically instructed the station that I don't want ignorant people near her they screw up! Since they said it had to be in this park this time, I had to go along with it, even if I didn't want to!"
"Mother…" The young girl reached out her hand, making to gently touch her mother's sleeve. As if sensing the almost-contact, the mother's ranting cut off and she threw her right arm back, as if she was going to back hand and attacker. However, she didn't touch the girl, for the child had moved her hand back in that instant. The mother looked at her daughter, a look of…almost…fear on her face. Watanuki had never seen a mother do that, fear her child or make to strike her in public. It was unsettling…unnerving and the seer watched as the mother turned around and placed her hands on her knees to lean over, speaking to the girl.
"A-ah, what is it? What's wrong?" She tried to sound nice, but there was a tension in her voice, a strain to her smile, a trembling to her eyes brows that undermined her attempt. The girl didn't say anything, and she didn't appear to be disturbed by her mother's actions or behavior. "Oh, th-that's right, we should be heading back home." The woman continued, her voice still shaking. Her arm went around the girl's back, as if to embrace her and lead her along, but Watanuki noticed that her hand never touched the girl at all. It was as if the woman was scared, embarrassed or unwilling to touch her own daughter. As if knowing what her mother wanted, the girl started walking away, passing Watanuki.
"It's not like you don't understand, right?" The girl address with seer, her question seeming to pull on Watanuki's unwanted memories. She suddenly remembered people avoiding her in primary school, whispering behind her back, never wanting to play with her. She remembered how people seemed to instinctively avoid walking right next to her on the street, all of her peers, classmates, teachers and even strangers giving her a wide berth. It seemed as if the girl's question was actually asking, "You understand these feelings, right? You understand how it feels to be like me."
"Watanuki, are you alright?" Wari can running up to the girl as they both watched the mother and daughter walk away. The sun had dipped low enough that the sky started to turn red and orange, the evening setting in.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"That girl…" Wari looked as if he recognized her.
"Do you know her?" Watanuki asked.
"She's the spiritual cleanser that was on TV. We were talking about her earlier today." The boy answered as the pair of them watched the mother and daughter disappear down the stairs, a good three feet in between their bodies. Watanuki didn't know what to think of the whole situation, but she hoped that she would meet that girl again.
"So, she is a spiritual cleanser?" Yuko asked as she and the seer sat in the shop's yard the next day. Watanuki had prepared a lovely snack of wagashi before dinner and the witch was enjoying smoking her pipe while she ate. Today she was dressed in a magenta kimono with light pink sakura embroidered onto the fabric and a blue and green obi and her hair was pulled away from her face, but left to cascade down her back freely. She'd made Watanuki throw out a blanket and set up her purple, traditional Japanese umbrella so that the two of them could watch the cherry petals fall without being buried by them. Yuko turned to her tray and picked up her cup, taking a sip of some tea as the conversation continued.
"She was a girl though, still a child." Watanuki remembered that at the girl's age, she'd hadn't been able to defend herself or been fast enough to get away from every spirit that haunted her. But, somehow this girl was confident enough and powerful enough to exorcise spirit even while still being so young.
"And she was the one who said that to you?" Yuko set her cup down and took a pull from her pipe, letting the smoke drift in the breeze with the petals when she let it go. "She said that it's not like you don't understand anything."
"And what did you think of her, Watanuki?" Yuko's cranberry eyes narrowed ever so slightly, interested in what her ward had to say. The seers face dropped, showing her concern for the child.
"I don't know if she can exorcise ghosts, but I felt that she was similar to me."
"Similar, huh?" Yuko paused for a moment to think, mulling over the information that Watanuki had given her while puffing her pipe again. It was a few more moments before she spoke again. "The girl's power is genuine. And your fate has been linked to hers. What happens from now on depends on yourself, Watanuki." Yuko had that sly, knowing look in her eye, the one that told the girl that the beginning of something serious had been triggered. There was nothing that she could do right now, not until she could meet that girl again, so the seer just decided to be patient, and wait to see what would happen.
A few days later, she was headed to find Doumeki for lunch, the bento boxes held securely in her arms. It was raining today, so they couldn't eat outside and what was even worse was that Wari couldn't join them either. She turned a corner and found her boyfriend sitting on the platform between floors, reading a book.
"Wari can't come today because she'd helping a teacher." Watanuki sighed, explaining why she was alone before he even asked. "It's such a shame – hey!" Watanuki had just barely sat down and placed the wrapped boxes on the floor when she realized that Doumeki had already stopped reading, untied the cloth and grabbed a lunch! All in the matter of a few seconds! "And you're already eating!" She threw her hands up in the air in disgust before grabbing her own lunch. Doumeki would eat Wari's share, she had not doubt, so she didn't need to worry about leftovers. Watanuki sighed and picked up a piece of tamagoyaki, munching on it moodily. Sensing her lack of energy, the archer looked at his girlfriend and then scooted closer to her, their thighs touching. The seer looked up from her food for a moment before sighing again and leaning her head on his broad shoulder for a moment. Then they both went back to eating. Watanuki noticed after about five minutes, that the man kept looking at her and when it finally got distracting she piped up.
"What is it?"
"Yesterday, I saw a girl standing underneath a cherry blossom tree." Doumeki stated. "With this eye." His right hand came up under their girl's chin and gently laid itself on her cheek, his ring finger gently sliding under her glasses' temples (2) and touched the corner of her right eye. No one could see the difference between her eyes, but underneath her color contact lens, half of Doumeki's eye lay with Watanuki. The raven turned to her boyfriend, her eyes widening in shock at what he was saying.
"No way…!" The girl's chest tightened as the strange situation unfolded itself. "You can see the things that I can with this eye?!" Oh god, this is way bad!
"It seems so." Doumeki pulled out a very Mokona-sounding answer and went back to eating.
"NOOOOOOO! My privacy!" The girl wailed, tears running down her cheeks. She clasped her head in her hands and writhed around like she was in real pain. Oh hell! If he can see what I see then he can see my showering, in the restroom, changing…EVERYTHING! Doumeki just plugged his ears as the girl freaked out, his eyebrows scrunching down and his mouth turning down into the world's smallest frown. It was actually one of very few times that he showed his displeasure at the girl's shrieking.
"Shut up." He grumbled.
"Friggin' spill it, Doumeki!" Watanuki snarled, covering up her right eye without touching her glasses (smudges suck). "What can you see!? Tellmerightnow!" Even though she was scared of the answer, the raven needed to know what kind of rules this see-through-Watanuki's-eyes-thing followed.
"Don't worry. I can't see you when you're bathing or changing," Doumeki stated, adding and "…unfortunately," after the fact.
"Unfortunately!?" The seer was not happy with his apparent desire to peep on her. "Good! I don't want you spying on me whenever you like!" Watanuki's face was beat red, her skin hot and uncomfortable just thinking about him spying on her (and not hot in the sexy way!). She leapt on him, lightly punching his shoulder and chest to vent her frustration and embarrassment.
"Who was that?" Doumeki asked, continuing the conversation before it broke down into a wrestling match, shoving the girl off of him (only one of the few times he would actually shove her off of him…he liked it when she jumped into his arms…but not when she was attacking him).
"The girl from that paranormal program on TV that Wari told us about." Watanuki calmed down and went back to her lunch, her cheeks still blushing like crazy. Watanuki didn't notice it, but after Doumeki's face at returned to its usual stone-faced appearance, his eyes narrowed slightly at the mention of the exorcist girl. He had the feeling that Watanuki was getting herself into trouble again. Suddenly, he had the subject changed on him again. "But, it's not like you can always see through my eye, right?" She seemed really nervous that he was able to spy on her and the archer had to restrain himself from rolling his eyes.
"Everything I want to see you'll show me eventually." He replied, narrowly missing a punch that was thrown at him. "But other than that, you're right."
"And you didn't see through my eye when I met your grandfather in a dream, right?" Watanuki let his first comment slid after she missed him and continued on.
"Dreams aren't really things that you see with your eyes, so no."
"Ah, I see." Watanuki started thinking about spirits and things that she'd seen recently. Maybe he could see spirits now just like she could. "What about that small spirit I saw on the way home last week?" It had been a gloopy, purple thing with one huge red and yellow eye and two little arms. It kinda looked like a cyclops, but without legs.
"Didn't see it." Doumeki said, popping tamagoyaki in his mouth.
"Huh? Then I don't get it." The pair ate lunch in silence for a few moments, both mulling over what they'd learned so far.
"What was it like when to saw that spirit?" The brunette asked.
"Well, it was really small and all it did was pass by me. It wasn't something to get surprised over."
"If that's the case, then the other thing influencing what I see might be you." He concluded. "Perhaps when your emotions fluctuate or when you become very distressed or scared. I might be able to see well when that happens.
The seer took a moment to remember how she felt when she met the girl by the sakura tree. She'd been excited and in awe because the tree was so beautiful, she was mesmerized when she'd first spotted the girl, wanting to know more about her and then she was confused and scared when the girl's mother had shown up. She hadn't know what to do in that situation, and the mother just kept ranting on and on, but by the end, Watanuki was sad to see the girl go. That was a lot of emotions to handle all at once, so maybe Doumeki was right. Things were just getting curiouser and curiouser.
By the time school was over, it was still raining outside. Doumeki had a club meeting to attend, even if they couldn't practice outside and Wari had his club today as well. So, Watanuki ended up walking home by herself in the rain. Since she didn't have anyone to talk to, the girl though about all the things that had happened over the past few days as her feet unconsciously took her toward the park where she'd met the young girl. Once she realized that she was standing in front of the stairs, she shrugged, figuring that it wouldn't hurt to look at the sakura. The tree was beautiful after all. She began climbing up the steps and had soon reached the top where a surprise was waiting for her. The girl was standing in front of the tree again, her hair and green and white dress wet with rain. She was looking up into the branches again, looking as if all her concentration pushed out all other distractions, including the fact that she was soaked. Watanuki rushed over to her, her arm reaching out to place her umbrella over both of them.
"You shouldn't be standing out in the rain like this! You'll get sick." The young girl seemed to barely register the raven's words; her reaction coming several seconds after Watanuki had stopped talking. Her head turned slowly, her gray-green eyes locking onto the teen's.
"I got to see you again." She said, her soft voice barely rising over the sound of the rain. She had that knowing look in her eyes again, like whatever was inside of her was much older than her body made her look.
"Does that mean that you knew we were going to meet again?" Watanuki asked.
"No, not really." She replied. "I was thinking that I wanted to see you again."
"Me?" That was strange.
"Because we're alike." The girl stated softly. Her words seemed to invoke some sort of magic, because when she said them, petals that had already fallen to the ground suddenly lifted up, caressing the young girl as they traveled up her body before catching on some breeze and whisking past the seer. "Didn't you think that when we met?"
"Yeah." Watanuki agreed.
"Then you understand." Both girls looked up into the sakura, finding a beautiful woman floating among the branches. She was wearing a kimono that princesses would wear far back in the past, her long, black hair resembling Yuko's when her magic kicked in and set it floating everywhere. Her feet were bare, her legs clothed in red hakama and the pink and green fabric of her kimono was exquisite. "They say that that lady is very old. She lived long ago."
"The TV was talking about a spirit that haunts the cherry trees." Watanuki added.
"I think it's her." The girl nodded. "But she's not trying to scare anyone. I think she likes this sakura and just wants to be here."
"You're probably right."
"But, if she thinks she's in the way, she said that she would go away." The girl's face remained just as calm as before, but her voice took on a note of sadness for an instant, like she would be sad to see the spirit leave. "She said she feels sad for this tree because many people come here because they've seen it on TV. But if she disappears, this tree will wither and it will never bloom again. This tree is at the end of its life. It is still able to bloom because she's here." The girl's voice got sad again. "If I had never come here, that lady would be able to stay here forever and the tree would bloom forever."
"I used to think the same way that you do." Watanuki stated, seeing so much of her younger self in her companion.
"I don't understand." The girl looked at her, confusion barely detectable in her eyes.
"I used to think that things became worse once I'd stumbled upon them. But then, I became able to think about what I can do to make things right, so that they didn't have to end sadly." A smile grew on the raven's face and she leaned down to show her friend. "Do you still have some time?"
"Let's do what we can to help." She stated simply. The raven beckoned for the young girl to follow her, her gaze also glancing across their otherworldly companion. Soon, they were walking together through the rain, the umbrella mostly over the young exorcist, so that she wouldn't get wetter than she already was. Because of this, Watanuki right side was getting soaked by the storm. Oh well. It wasn't very long until Watanuki guided her friend to a path she was very familiar with. It lead to the Doumeki temple and Watanuki kept pace with the girl's steps the entire walk. They made their way through the gate and then down the main path, the many sakura trees resembling clouds and smoke in the dismal weather. The young girl took a look around, observing the orchard and the temple.
"It's a temple." She stated simply.
"Yeah, a guy who ticks me off lives here." Watanuki explained. "But it seems like a pretty pure place. Before the raven could say anymore, her attention was drawn to the tree at her right, the young girl's eyes also following where Watanuki's went. The spirit was walking gently across the ground, her feet never touching the pavement. Her smoke and petals followed and flowed around her as she pushed off into the air. She settled in the branches of the sakura, seeming just as home here as she had with the other tree.
"She said that she likes it here." The blonde stated.
"I see." A huge smile lit up Watanuki's face as she watched the spirit caress a flower. "The tree might wither, but she's found a new home.
"Yes." The girl's gaze fell off the tree, her eyes looking to the ground. She seemed to be thinking deeply, but after a moment, she spoke up again. "I'm going home. Before my mother comes to get me." Suddenly, Watanuki realized that she been gallivanting out in the rain with an elementary girl while she was wet.
"Oh, my gosh! I'm sorry for dragging you around in the rain! That's not good for your health."
"No, it's fine." The girl shook her head, telling the seer that she was good.
"At least take my umbrella with you so you stay a little dry," Watanuki went to hand her friend her umbrella, but she shook her head again.
"It's fine. I'm already wet and it's not too cold today."
"I'm wet too. And if you take it, we can see each other again when you return it." The raven gave her a big smile, genuinely looking forward to seeing her again.
"Thank you." The girl didn't argue and nodded her thanks as she took the umbrella. Watanuki felt the rain start falling on her steadily as the umbrella sheltered the other girl. She started walking away, but Watanuki called out to her before she got too far.
"Hey! What's your name?" The girl stopped and turned to look back. Watanuki scratched her cheek, embarrassed. "I don't want to keep calling you 'you.' I'd like to call you by your name."
"It's Kohane. Kohane Tsuyuri."
"That's a beautiful name! What characters do you use to spell it?"
"Tsuyuri is spelled with the characters for May 7th."
"My name's Kimihiro Watanuki." Watanuki replied. "Watanuki is spelled with the characters for April 1st ."
"Our names are similar too." Kohane observed.
"How is your first name spelled?" The seer asked.
"It's 'small feather.'" Somehow, the name fit her perfectly. Watanuki could see Kohane being as light and pure as and angel's feather.
"I'm so happy to meet you, Kohane." The raven gave her another smile, glad that they had finally introduced themselves.
"That's weird." Kohane mused.
"Oh, should I call you by your last name?" Watanuki thought that since Kohane was so much younger than her that it should be fine…but maybe it wasn't. Like, she still called Doumeki "Doumeki" in public most of the time…but now that she thought about it…she called Wari by his first name…why did she do that? Oh well. While the seer was pondering, Kohane started speaking again.
"No, it's fine. It's just been a while since I was called by my name." Watanuki's eyes widened, shocked by what the girl told her. But before she could say anything about it, Kohane was already walking away again.
"I'll see you later!" Watanuki called cheerfully, waving at her new friend.
"See you soon." Watanuki was pretty sure she saw a Doumeki smile on the girl's face, that is, the world's smallest smile that is. Soon she walked beneath the gate and around the corner, disappearing from sight. Watanuki's smile faded, feeling that the girl was just as lonely as she used to be. Caught up in her thoughts, the raven didn't notice that she wasn't alone in the rain anymore. Doumeki was standing out in the storm too, a traditional Japanese umbrella shielding him from the downpour. He was dressed simply in a samue (3), wooden geta on his feet. He watched his girlfriend for a moment, getting soaked in the rain.
"They say that idiots don't catch colds." He stated in his normal monotone. "But we'd better get you inside before you catch one. I don't think that applies to dumbasses."
"Who's the dumbass?" Her retort was half hearted.
"Dumbass." Doumeki shoved the umbrella over her to keep her from getting even wetter. Her hair and shoulders were drenched and the rest of her was soon to follow unless they got inside. Sharing the umbrella was also getting Doumeki a little wet now too, so her grabbed the seer's hand and pulled her close and wrapping his arm around her. Watanuki was startled, but Doumeki gently led her towards his home.
Being so close to Doumeki allowed Watanuki to feel his warmth, and even though it wasn't a very cold day, she began to shiver. She was so much cooler than him, her body seeking his warmth as she snuggled closer. The archer squeezed his arm around her shoulder, giving her a quick huge before then went inside. The two of them took off their shoes in the genkan, and Doumeki put the umbrella back in the rack with several others. The temple loaned them out to patrons and visitors that got caught in the rain (and would hopefully return them at a later date). The raven squeezed out her pony tail and her skirt in the genkan too, so that she wouldn't drip on the floor any more than she had to.
"You can take a bath." Doumeki stated, watching Watanuki try her best not to get water everywhere as they stepped into the temple proper. "I'll go get you some clothes."
"Thanks." Watanuki knew where the bath was, so she went herself, while Doumeki wandered off into another room.
Every time she was in the bathroom, it astounded her that it huge! In all honesty, you could probably fit most of her apartment in that one room. Watanuki did appreciate it though, smiling to herself as she turned on the bath. Soon, the giant tub would be filled with steamy, warm water and Watanuki would just melt. She took off her jacket and socks, but made sure to stay dressed until Doumeki dropped off her temporary clothes. She brushed out her hair and heard a knock a few moments later. Doumeki was sliding the door open before she even took a step towards it, clothing in hand.
"What was the point of knocking if you were just going to open the door?!" Watanuki snarked at him, folding her arms and raising one eyebrow.
"I was hoping you'd be naked." The brunette stated simply.
"You are such a pervert!" Watanuki chucked the brush she was using at him, clocking him right in the forehead.
"What's the problem? I've already seen you pretty much naked." The archer said it like it was nothing, but it was everything!
"It doesn't matter! We're not married nor are we having sex-"
"Yet," he interjected.
"Shut up!" Watanuki's face turned beat red (with anger and embarrassment). She stomped over to him and snatched the kimono right out of his hands before pushing him away from the door. "No peeking! And stay out!" The girl slid the door shut with a vengeance and then listened until she heard Doumeki start walking away before disrobing.
The bathroom was now pleasantly warm and the girl could feel herself warming up already as she rinsed herself off and washed her hair. She was sitting on a little stool scrunching her fingers through her hair with shampoo and grabbed the shower head to rinse her hair out. Then she started working on her body, lathering up bubbles before running her hands over every surface she could reach. Just the feeling of being clean was relaxing her and her body started to feel good again after her melancholy with Kohane. The little girl was so sweet, but it worried the raven that she was lonely and that her mother didn't seem to call her by her name or even touch her own daughter. It was all strange. Watanuki's thoughts drifted around her new friend, trying to muddle things out while she attempted to wash as much of her lower back as possible.
Suddenly, there were another pair of hands on her back and the girl froze in shock. Her breath was caught in her lungs, her stomach in her throat as she realized that she didn't even him come in. She'd been so absorbed in her thoughts that now she was facing a dire situation. Heart beating loudly, she was surprised that she could hear him speak over the racket in her chest. He was touching her! And not in just a friendly way…it was in a Doumeki way.
"Let me wash your back." Doumeki whispered, his voice much closer to her ear than she was expecting. The seer nearly jumped out of her skin. His hands gently roamed around her back, scrubbing her skin, massaging her muscles. His touch was so delicate, so gentle. She couldn't move, paralyzed by embarrassment. But then his fingertips skated down her spine and she shivered as his hand drew closer to her rear. He spurred her into action.
"I said NO PEEKING! Why in god's name did you come back?! Get the hell out!" The raven went to stand up, but Doumeki's hands gripped her waist.
"If you move, I'm going to see everything," He pointed out. And Watanuki realized that she was stuck. She froze, half rising off of the stool. If she stood up to kick him out, he'd see her. The towels were near the door, she wouldn't be able to grab one quick enough to cover herself completely…but she had to try. Watanuki smacked his hands away and dashed towards the towels, only to fall on her second step, her foot slipping on the wet floor.
"Ah!" Watanuki yelped as she fell to the floor.
"Oh, gosh." Doumeki's monotone exclamation punctuated his movements as he wrapped his arm around her waist, slowing her fall but not stopping it. They both hit the floor, but thanks to Doumeki, Watanuki had enough time to cushion her fall with her hands instead of crashing down on her chest. The archer landed next to her, water splashing on both of them.
"Clutz," Doumeki snarked, his tone staying the same as when he said anything else, but Watanuki knew he was making fun of her.
"Oh, don't put this on me! You're the one who came in without permission!" Watanuki snarled back. She quickly crawled over to the door and snagged a towel to hold over her naked body. She huddled against the wall as Doumeki sat up, his pants and the front of his samue soaked and soapy. He looked at himself and then yanked at the tie holding his clothes together. He shrugged off his top and went for his pants. "W-W-Wha-a-at are you d-doing?!" The raven stuttered, her face turning red as she got a nice look at the teen's abs. The girl found herself staring at his physique, mortified that he was stripping in front of her, but pleased at the same time because, damn, he was fine! Oh friggin' hell…don't tell me he's gonna- Watanuki squeezed her eyes shut as Doumeki went to pull off his pants and she heard him grab the soap and turn on the showerhead again.
"Now that I'm all wet, I might as well take a bath too." He stated, as if this were the most normal thing in the world – to go a take a bath in front of a person that he wasn't even related too or having sex with!
"Alright, then I'm leaving!" The seer went to get the door when her boyfriend spoke up again.
"You're all soapy still." He reminded her. She stopped again, realizing that she still had bubbles on her and that she'd at least have to rinse off before leaving the bathroom. But the problem was that Doumeki was currently in possession of the water and the drain she needed in all his naked glory. "And I want to take a bath with you." He said that like it was the most normal thing in the world too!
Watanuki's thoughts spun around and around in her head as she tried to process how their relationship jumped from the kissing stage to let's-take-a-bath-together stage. Mostly she just figured that it was Doumeki being Doumeki. Damn it! Why does he have to be so blunt and forward all the time?!Ok, so it is a thing that couples do if they want…and I know that families sometimes bathe together to save time and water…but he…he wants to bathe with ME! While the girl was freaking out in her head, the archer had washed most of his body was now waiting for her to do something. But, he could totally tell that she was thinking over (and probably over-thinking) things. He rolled his eyes and called out to her.
"Oi," The second the word was out of his mouth, Watanuki whirled on him, leaping to her feet, hand over her chest to keep the towel covering her torso.
"My name's not 'oi'!" She instantly responded. Well, at least that worked. Now that I have her attention…
"Kimihiro, will you wash my back?" Her face flamed red and Doumeki swore that he saw steaming coming off of it. He saw her mouth working, but no words were coming out. She looked so adorable and helpless in that moment, that he couldn't help when the corner of his mouth twitched up in amusement. "I won't force you to, but I'll finish washing your back if you wash mine. I even put on a towel so stop freaking out." He pointed to his lap where he had, indeed, laid a towel to cover his groin.
"How can I not freak out?!" The brunette plugged his ears as her shrill yell echoed in the bathroom. Doumeki sighed and gestured with his hand.
"Just come here, please?"
"I thought that I didn't have to if I didn't want to!"
"If you'd wanted to," he started, "you'd have stomped out of here by now, bubbles or no bubbles.
"I…" the raven stopped arguing suddenly, her face puzzled. He was right: she'd have stomped out of here long ago if she was who she'd used to be. But as embarrassed as she felt, she still had to admit, deep inside, she was slightly, maybe enjoying him being so open with her (4).
"And…aren't you cold?" The second he mentioned it, Watanuki started shivering as if her body just woke up to the fact that she was wet and not in the hot bath. Before that moment, she hadn't noticed because of everything that was going on, but now…now just wanted to jump in the tub. The only thing standing in her way was…her boyfriend. Still pissed that he'd got her, Watanuki huffed.
"Fine," She tried to sound all tough, but her bright red cheeks gave her away. Doumeki smiled to himself as she made her way over to him. The raven knelt down behind him, her towel sliding to the floor with a wet sound. "Don't look." The command was laced with the threat of violence and as much as he wanted to look, he wouldn't. He knew that he was pushing her limits as it was. The archer picked up her soap bottle and reached his arm behind his shoulder to hand it to his girlfriend. She took the bottle, squeezed some soap out and put it down before rubbing her hands together to work up a lather. Then, her small hands were on his back and Doumeki had to hold in a soft moan of pleasure. He was simply relaxed, as her palms massaged his shoulder blades and her fingertips pressed into his muscles. It felt so good to be touched by her and a shiver slid up his spine in response to his delight. As she sat up a little more to reach his broad shoulders and unconsciously, her bare breasts brushed against his skin. His back stiffened as she yelped, pulling away like she'd been burned.
"Alright, I'm done!" She squeaked, mortified that she'd done that. Oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god! Doumeki took a deep breath to control himself and then filled up the wooden bucket to rinse off his body.
"Watch out." He warned, giving the girl a second to grab her towel and step back before he splashed water over his back. Once clean, he turned and reached his hand out to grab the girl's wrist. "Come here." He gently pulled her forward and resisted the urge to look at her butt for too long before sitting her down on his lap.
"Don't get any ideas, bastard." She grumbled as he sat her on his knees, her face still beat red. Her butt cheeks were on his knee caps, and even though she would be more comfortable further back on his thighs, she didn't want him feeling any more than she allowed him to. Doumeki put some more soap on his hand and went to finish the task he'd started a few minutes ago, gently washing his girlfriend's back. They sat in silence for a few moments, but Watanuki squeaked when her companion suddenly hugged her from behind, having succumbed to one of his temptations. His arms wrapped around her stomach and waist and he pressed his firm chest to her back. He (thankfully) left the gap between his lower torso and her lower back where it was, but even with that, the girl felt like she was wrapped in a big blanket of Doumeki.
"I thought I said not to get any ideas!" She whisper-snapped, but the rest of her complaints were silenced as he softly kissed her neck once…twice…three times. A pleasant shiver then zipped up her spine and Doumeki felt her stiffen in his arms. That was as far as he'd go right now, but at least she knew his intentions.
"I just wanted to hug you." He stated, letting her go, carefully leaning down to grab the bucket so she could rinse. "Here." She huffily filled it up and then made sure to splash the water in his face as she rinsed off her back (and by default, his chest).
"Just get in the bath!" She grumbled, "I'm cold." Watanuki scurried into the bath, nearly leaping into the water as she threw her towel away.
It flew through the air and landed right on Doumeki's face, obscuring his one chance to look at the girl. He then got up, dropped both towels he had to the floor and leisurely sank into the bath. The raven refused to look his way as he sat down on the low bench hidden beneath the water. She'd managed to sit as far away from her boyfriend as possible…but within a few minutes, he'd slunk his way over to her and they were now sitting side by side in the warm water. The chill from the rain finally melted away as he put his arm around her, pulling her close so that her head rested on his shoulder. He made no other moves, but their closeness, while soothing (and embarrassing!) reminded the girl of the lack of closeness that Kohane seemed to have in her life. He mother didn't call her by her name…did she have any siblings to take baths with? Did she have any friends? Kohane seemed to be a very lonely girl, and it sadden the raven's heart to think that she didn't have anyone to share moments with, like she shared with Doumeki and her other friends, (though she was sure that Kohane didn't have a perverted boyfriend who tried to trap her into taking a bath with him…that was all her problem to handle.)
"…You're called 'Shizuka' by those close to you, right?" Watanuki asked, beginning to voice her concerns to the man.
"Yeah." He answered. "You'd better start doing that more often, Kimihiro." He poked her cheek teasingly.
"Stop that." She brushed his hand away and it went back to her shoulder, softly caressing her. "When my parents were around, they called me 'Kimihiro' too." The sadness in her voice was clear as she kept talking. "But Kohane said that it had been a while since anyone had called her by that name. Even though her mother is around…it had still been a while. That just seems to awful to me."
"Hm," Doumeki hummed, thinking about what she'd said. "I guess it's good that you're her friend now. I'll call her 'Kohane' too."
"Thanks, Doume-" the raven found a finger smushed against her lips and when she looked up at her companion, he was looking down at her as if to say, really?
"What were we just talking about?" He asked, tapping her lips.
"Frig it…Shizuka." She grumbled.
"Good girl." He whispered, gently grabbing her chin and tipping her head up so he could kiss her. Doumeki pressed their lips together, once in a soft kiss and then firmer the second time. He nipped at her lower lip gently, drawing a soft sigh from her. Doumeki could feel her start to melt into the kiss, her stubborn streak bending a little under his attention. But he didn't want to push the raven any further than he already had and just kept it as a chaste kiss. When they broke apart, she sighed and leaned into him a little more.
"Don't worry, Kimihiro." He whispered.
"Hm? Worry about what?" Her eyes lazily rolled up to look at his.
"I'll say your name as much as you want so that you'll never feel lonely." He said, tipping his head down to kiss her nose. The heat from the warm bath on her rosy cheeks went darker, and she just looked so cute as she blushed. "I'll make you call my name too…when we're alone…that way I never feel lonely." When his voice grew huskier (okay, huskier for Doumeki because really, his voice was so monotone all the time), Watanuki's face scrunched up, the sinking suspicion that he was being suggestive dawning in her mind. And they were not getting into that mess while they were both naked in the bath! When she didn't say anything, the archer continued with, "Because you'll be writhing underneath my – "
"Ooooooookaaaaaaaaaay! Don't get cocky!" With the sweet moment gone, Watanuki abruptly jumped up (not even caring if that pervert saw her butt at this point) and nearly leapt out of the bath, leaving the water to swish and splash in her wake. A towel was around her body in two seconds flat and she whirled around to glare at her boyfriend. She did her best not to look at his bare chest and abs but she knew that he could totally tell she checked him out for a second or two. Her other hand holding her towel closed over her chest, the girl pointed and accusing finger at him and snapped, "If you say one more word on that subject, I'll never take a bath with you again!" Doumeki nodded, content to admire the image of his love dripping wet in front of him with nothing but a thin towel hiding her figure. It was a lovely sight.
"Now close your eyes!" She ordered. He didn't like the sound of that and gave her a look (any by look, he meant that he stared at her in his usual manner, but she got the point). "Don't give me that look! I'm going to dry off and change, you pervert!" Doumeki did as he was commanded, closing his eyes and even putting his hands over his face to make sure she knew he was doing it. But that didn't mean that he didn't peek once when she was busy. "Alright." The raven signaled when she was dressed and strode out of the room in her borrowed kimono before the archer had a chance to stand up.
The teen shrugged and got out of the bath as well, making sure to let it drain. He dried and dressed and then went to make some tea before finding Watanuki. The girl was sitting in one of the rooms that over looked the front courtyard and had slid open the door to look out at the trees and the rainstorm that had been pouring all day. She was still drying her hair, her movements distracted as she zoned out, her gaze listless. Doumeki walked over to her with his tray and set one of the cups down next to her, the tea steaming in the cooling air.
"What's that?" The girl asked, her attention refocusing. She turned to look at the archer while he sat down next to her, letting the towel on her head slip to the floor.
"Ginger tea. My grandfather used to make it on cold days." Doumeki picked up his own cup and started sipping at the hot beverage. Now that the sun had set, the air had gotten cooler, but not to the point where it was uncomfortable. The girl nodded her thanks and then sipped at her tea as well.
"That tree…" She mumbled, looking up at the spirit lingering there. She'd settled into the sakura, her aura peaceful.
"You're talking about the woman in the kimono, right? I'll read sutras for her later." (5)
"You can do that?"
"Just in form, but yes." Doumeki may have some spiritual power, but he was not capable of using it like his grandfather had. Haruka Doumeki had been a powerful priest, capable of creating charms and barriers and vanquishing demons. He had been well versed in folklore and legends and even wrote several texts himself. Doumeki had found one of his texts when looking for a way to get Watanuki's eye back and Yuko took interest in his amulets and artifacts and let the archer use them as payment for any services she rendered. She'd even used his barrier sutras to bind the bookworm when it attacked the storehouse. Compared to him, his grandson was a novice. But, Doumeki had learned some of the priestly arts from his grandfather and kept the tradition going.
"You saw again." Watanuki interrupted the teen's thoughts by speaking, her hand covering her right eye.
"Yeah." He confirmed. He'd seen the woman through her eye while she was talking with Kohane, and that was half the reason he knew that she'd been outside. "I can see now, too."
Watanuki's anxiety shot up, her rollercoaster of emotions taking another turn. Since meeting Kohane today, her mood had changed so many times (and Doumeki's stunt in the bath hadn't helped either!), so it wasn't a surprise that she was still out of whack. She started at him, her mouth dropping and then looked up at the tree. The woman was peacefully gazing back down at the pair, her hair floating gracefully around her serene face despite the thunderstorm's wind tearing leaves and blossoms off the trees. And apparently, Doumeki could see that too now.
"You're emotions are fluctuating again, right?" Doumeki observed, finding it fascinating that he could now see what she could see. This sight wasn't scary at all, in fact, he felt peaceful knowing that this spirit wasn't harmful to his girlfriend like other ones would be. It was a good first experience…a peek into Watanuki's unseen world.
"And whose fault would that be?" She grumbled, glaring at her companion. "Sure, I was happy to see Kohane and then I felt sad for her but everything after that was your fault! Your bath shenanigans were way out of line!"
"But you liked at least some of it." Doumeki commented, tapping his finger next to his right eye. Watanuki's face was beet red all the way down her neck and up to the tips of her ears. "You stared at me enough times. It was weird checking myself out."
"Oh GOD!" The girl covered her face with her hands, knowing that he knew she'd been looking at him, but now she knew just how many times he knew! It was mortifying.
"No need to be embarrassed. Come here." Doumeki grabbed her arm and waist and pulled the raven into his lap, this time with her fulling sitting down, none of that kneecap crap. She yelped as she was forcefully moved, but soon found her head tucked under his chin, her body cradled by his torso and arms. He laced their hands together and then had them both hug her body, completing Watanuki's little Doumeki-cocoon.
"You're impossible," the seer grumbled as he blush quieted down to just a light dusting on her cheeks. She liked being held by him, but she wasn't going to admit that to his face. And he was nice and warm from the bath, so the cool night air wasn't even bothering her at all. She felt his lips on her hair and let him kiss her quietly. When his little pecks stopped, he spoke again.
"You're the impossible one, Kimihiro."
"Shut up, Shizuka. Be quiet like your name."
The world outside the temple looked like a painting, the flower petals mixing with the rain in the wind when they were pulled off, the dusty purples and blues of the night blending and twisting together beautifully. The pair watched the storm pass in silence for a while, both of them enjoying the other's warmth. It wasn't long before Watanuki was dozing and Doumeki had to shake her awake.
"Oi." The sleepy reply to that was something along the lines of, "mu ame's hot oh yee." The archer chuckled once, softly and then straightened his body to get the girl to sit up. She grumbled at him, trying to snuggle back into her pillow, but he gently pushed her out of his lap and scooped her up in his arms. "If you don't wake up, I'll have you sleep in my bed." She replied a little more coherently this time.
"Don't you dare," came her mumbled response, snuggling into his chest despite her threat.
"Doesn't sound like you mean it," he replied. Her hand shot up and smacked him in the face sleepily and Doumeki was stunned by the sudden movement. "Ok," he consented. "But next time." It was more of a statement than a question, but Watanuki was asleep for sure this time, because she didn't respond at all, her hand falling back into her lap limply. Doumeki took that as a "yes" since she technically didn't say "no" as he carried her off into her own room to sleep before heading to his. Outside, the rain was still falling, its quiet patter rapping on the temple roof as the night continued on.
"Ah, the weather is very nice today, now that spring is ending," Yuko sighed, looking up at the blue sky dotted with white clouds. She held a cup of sake in her hand, sipping leisurely while enjoying the sunshine. "It's bright, beautiful and peaceful this afternoon."
"That's great and all…" Watanuki started, "BUT WHY ARE WE AT DOUMEKI'S PLACE PLAYING MAHJONG?!" The girl screeched, waving her arms around in Watanuki fashion. The seer was sitting on a mat that kept them off the ground and was covered in sakura petals. She was sitting on the side closest to the temple's stairs and Doumeki was on her left, Yuko on her and Mokona was across from her, a mahjong table set up in between all of them. "And outside too!" That meant that Watanuki had been the one to haul all the snacks and alcohol outside to cater to everyone's needs.
"Oh, its fine! After all, the weather is perfect today!~" Yuko waved her blue kimono sleeve at the girl, her hand daintily tucked inside. Yuko smiled, adoring her fantastic idea to play outside. Today's outfit consisted of a white sakura pattern on a blue kimono with green vines twisting across the fabric. The witch's hair was pulled back into what Watanuki had dubbed the "shrine maiden" pony tail – basically the hair was tied together at mid-back, the bottom pulling together like a normal pony tail but the top part of the hair-do was left free and loose until it came to the tie. "And your arm waving becomes more amusing because anyone can see it!"
The seer instantly stopped moving, mortified that if anyone happened to pass by or come visit the temple, they would see her weird arm waving act.
"It's not just her waving that's weird," Doumeki piped up, staring at the raven.
"Are you in any position to say that, asshole?!" The girl snarled, her pointy teeth coming out. Yuko put the back of her hand up to her cheek like and anime villain and laughed heartily, fully in control of the chaos she'd caused. Without anyone else noticing, the woman looked up at a particular sakura tree, smiling as she saw a graceful form resting in the branches.
"It's ready to go!" Mokona shouted, dumping the last of the mahjong tiles on the table.
"Then let's get started!~" Yuko cheered. At once, Doumeki, Mokona and Yuko started pushing the tiles around the table, mixing them up facedown.
"B-but I don't know how to play!" Watanuki stuttered, worried that her inexperience would be at her expense.
"Oh, you don't? That's fine. Just to Shiipai," Yuko replied.
"Shii…?" The seer didn't know what the hell she was talking about.
"It means to mix and shuffle the tiles, dummy!" Mokona chuckled, rolling across the table and mixing the tile with its own unique flair as it passed by. "Roll, roll, roll, roll!"
"I get it! I get it!" Watanuki grumbled, annoyed that she was clearly the dummy in all of this but hated it when the others poked fun at her inexperience. The raven's hands joined in with the shuffling, moving the tiles around and around. Several times, her hand brushed Doumeki's and when she looked up, she found him staring at her. She blushed and looked away from his piercing gaze. And then his hand shot over and bumped hers, followed by several more attempts to hold her hand.
"Hey!" The girl yanked her hands away as she frowned.
"Ha, ha! They're playing handsies!" Mokona teased.
"Well, we can't play footsies with a table like this," Doumeki replied calmly.
"So you'd be playing footsies if we had a different table?" Mokona asked, the creature's eyebrows wiggling suggestively.
"Don't encourage it!" Watanuki smacked her boyfriend's shoulder softly.
"Ah to be young and in love!" Yuko sighed, pausing in her shuffling to sip at her sake. She watched the teens with an amused expression on her face and it kind of creeped Watanuki out.
"I would appreciate it if we all quit talking about our relationship," the seer pouted moodily.
"But it's so much fun!~"
"Let's just play the game!" When the group was done shuffling and each of them built a wall of tiles in front of them, 17 tiles across and two tiles high. The result was that they had made a large square of tiles in the center of the table. Then round one started with Yuko as the dealer.
"Tenhou!" Yuko called out after drawing a tile. She immediately filled down her tiles and had won the first hand. But Watanuki didn't really know what that all meant or what was going on.
"Wow, Yuko! You're good!" Mokona cheered as it flapped its ears like wing while jumping excitedly.
"Uh…" Watanuki's mouth was agape, showing her confusion.
"Tenhou is a hand where the pieces you're dealt at the start of the round allow you to call the round," Doumeki explained. "It's called 'Tenhou' if you're the dealer and 'Chihou' if you're not." Even after hearing the explanation, Watanuki was still dumbfounded. Yuko, on the other hand, was ecstatic as she held up a cup of victory sake.
"I'm feeling great! It's like Akagi, Tetsuya and Akina are watching over me!" (5)
"Are they friends of yours?" Watanuki asked, not understand who those people were. She never explained.
The round ended as quickly as it began, the score was like so:
Yuko: 73,000 points
Mokona: 9,000 points
Doumeki: 9,000 points
Watanuki: 9,000 points
"Alright! Let's get going!" Yuko cheered as they all shuffled the tiles again. Round two started and Watanuki decided to just copy what everyone else did. She'd pick up the discarded tile that Yuko put down and then trade if for one of her own, just like Yuko was doing. She didn't really understand what all the symbols were, but there were tiles with one circle on them and others had nine and then they were other tiles that had flowers on them or writing. She still didn't know what she was doing, so she knew she was going to lose anyway. This time Mokona won.
"I got a Daisharin! Whoo hoo!" The pork bun leapt into the air and Watanuki was first left to wonder what the hell a "Daisharin" was and then wondered how Mokona tipped over all its tiles at the same time when it had stubby arms.
Round Two score:
Yuko: 56,900 points
Mokona: 41,300 points
Doumeki: 900 points
Watanuki: 900 points
The third round was longer this time, but Watanuki still had no clue what was going on and was just randomly choosing tiles. Fortunately/Unfortunately, Yuko ended the round with a very long word that the seer didn't even know how to pronounce.
"Gesundheit," the raven replied, not even bothering to try and understand that one.
Yuko: 88,900 points
Mokona: 9,300 points
Doumeki: 900 points
Watanuki: 900 points
Mokona won the next round with a hand that was called-
"Shousuushi!" The pork bun announced as it won.
Yuko: 80,900 points
Mokona: 41,300 points
Doumeki: - 15,100 points
Watanuki – 7,100 points
"Nagashi-Mangan," Doumeki announced in his monotone, as he won the next round. His voice somehow sounded really cool while they were playing mahjong, even though he spoke like he always did. Maybe it was his poker face…er…his normal stone face. Yuko seemed to think so too.
"Doumeki! You're such a man when you do that!" She winked at him, finding that palying against him was thrilling and fun.
Yuko: 78,000 points
Mokona: 39,300 points
Doumeki: - 7,100 points
Watanuki: - 11,100
Watanuki knew that she was in trouble because she had the most negative points. She slumped down into a little pity-corner to console herself.
"I lost while I was doing nothing?!" She groaned. She hadn't picked up a tile that was used for actual gaming and not just mixing and stacking them! Everybody else seemed to get their winning hand right before her turn too! Damn it!
"Heehee, if you say that in 'technical terms'…" Yuko snickered.
"Let's keep on playing even though you're dead!" Mokona finished, jumping up excitedly.
"You've lost your turn as the dealer, Watanuki, but you're going to recover, riiiiiiight?" Yuko continued on.
"Even if you say that I told you from the beginning that I didn't know how to play mahjong!" The girl snapped back. "I still don't know how to play mahjong!"
"I guess there's no choice then," Yuko looked at Mokona and the porkbun nodded back. Then, the creature opened up its mouth – which then got impossibly large, opening so wide that all there was to see of Mokona was its mouth and the ears sticking out of its head – and a bright light flashed before Watanuki felt something come flying towards her.
"GAH!" She screamed as a whole pile of books collapsed on top of her, burying her completely. "What the hell is all this?!" She screamed, popping her head out from underneath her little book mountain.
"I felt like giving a beginner like you the opportunity to study," Yuko said, resting her chin on her hands. "Aren't I nice?" She smiled that cat eating the canary smile and a cross vein popped out of Watanuki's forehead in response.
"It would've been nice to do this BEFORE I'd gone and gotten myself a huge debt!" The girl then started wriggling out of the books and picked up a few, reading their titles out loud. "'The Legend of a Vagabond Mahjong Player'…'Gambler Momoyo'…'A True Account of Mahjong'…'Professional Gambling'…What the hell is this?!"
"Mahjong is a game of life," Yuko stated dramatically, leaning right into the raven's face. "It's a game that could even be called life itself. If you've ever touched the life of the great mahjong players you'll find gamblers intense enough to make you vomit up blood!"
"And what the hell am I supposed to do with 'Glasses Gambling Hell?!'" Watanuki grabbed another book and waved it around, her other hand and angry fist. Yuko was making this more complicated, not less! Mokona interrupted the girl's rant by jumping on her head and placing a while book on top before leaping off again.
"This one's good!" It announced. Watanuki reached up and took the book off her head, reading the title out loud again.
"'Those Chosen by Luck, and Those Who Aren't,'" it read. About halfway through reading the title, Doumeki and Yuko had come up next to the girl and finished reading it with her. The raven knew that Mokona was poking fun at her and her blood boiled and everyone joined in to make the point stick even more. She screamed, running around like a chicken with its head cut off and Doumeki plugged his ears to keep from going deaf. Yuko just laughed until her slave came running back over, taking a few moments to breathe before speaking again.
"Please, teach me the rules first!" Yuko turned away, disinterested in the request.
"There should be an initiation manual buried in there somewhere. Go find it yourself," she waved the girl away. The girl walked over to the pile of books that was half as tall as her and sank down to the ground despondently. She wasn't getting anywhere with anyone and they were all just making fun of her. The trio went back to their game, shuffling up the tiles without her. "The three of us will play until Watanuki knows what she'd doing."
"What are we going to do about the rules?" Doumeki asked, knowing several sets of rules for mahjong, not even counting the ones that he hadn't memorized or heard of.
"Since we have a beginner, let's go with iihan-shibari rules and limit the yaku," Yuko replied. Watanuki understood hardly any of that gibberish.
"Damn! I'm telling you that I don't get it!" Watanuki whined and snarled the comment at the same time, picking up books and throwing them away when she didn't find what she was looking for. "And yet, you want me to play! This is totally ridiculous!" She picked up another three books and threw those away too. "Are you bullying me?!" No one answered her ranting. "Oh, this looks good!"
She'd found a guide that looked to be simple enough to understand with a quick once-over. It was called the "Jumbler's Bible, the Best Initiation Manual for Egoistic Gamblers." Now, Watanuki didn't consider herself and egoistical gambler (that would probably fall to Yuko) but she started reading the things anyway. But as she started reading it, she still got confused at it was talking about ways, notes, numbers and all sorts of things she still didn't understand.
"Hey there name written with the kanji for April 1st!" Mokona called out from behind its little wall of mahjong tiles. Watanuki's head spun around to look at the creature. "Why don't you come and see how everyone plays while reading the book?"
"I didn't ask you for anything, you black porkbun!" But she did as Mokona suggested and watched. Mokona had its little wall of tiles and one tile stacked on top of the wall, but it was turned on its side. It picked up that tile with one pudgy paw and took a tile out of the wall and switched the two, the discarded title was then placed on the table face up. Doumeki then drew a tile from the middle and set down with his little wall. I'm starting to get how this works, Watanuki thought while watching and reading. To put it simply, there are tiles numbered 1 to 9 and they are divided into three different suits: pin (circles), sou (bamboo sticks), and man (characters, like kanji). On top of that, there are honor tiles with kanji written on them: the East, South, West, and North winds, and the Zhong Fa and Bai dragons. Three tiles of the same type or number back to back make a "pon." When you have four sets like this and have two other tiles that are the "eyes," this becomes a proper hand. You have to create a proper hand according to yaku scoring rules. For example, the tan yao yaku hand is completed by using all ties but 1, 9, and the honor tiles. She paused in her reading, having come to a decision. Ok, Kimihiro! Just remember it's completed without 1, 9, or honor tiles!
"Alrightly! I'm ready to join now, Yuko! And this time won't go the same as last time!" Watanuki's eyes and glasses glinted with determined light. The witch was pouring herself another cup of sake and gulped in down, letting out a satisfied sigh.
"But that was like, five minutes ago," she teased, getting another rise out of the raven.
"Shut up!" But, they did let her join in again. While the game started up again, Watanuki was still puzzled about something. I still don't get why we're playing mahjong with these specific players. She glanced around at her companions. Yuko was smoking her kiseru pipe, Mokona was playing out its turn, and Doumeki was sipping some green tea, waiting for Mokona to finish. This is just too suspicious. While the girl was thinking, Doumeki made his move and then it was Watanuki's turn…but she wasn't quite paying attention all the way.
"Oi, it's your turn, Watanuki," Yuko prompted. The seer almost snapped at her for using 'oi' but then realized that she'd be snapping at her boss and not at her boyfriend (who usually addressed her as 'oi'). If she'd done that, who knows what Yuko would've done to punish her. "Even a cow can play slowly…so get going!"
"Alright, alright, alright!" The raven reached out to pick a tile out of the center, her hand shaking a little bit as she did so. She repeated a mantra of "no 1s, 9s, or honor tiles" in her head so she wouldn't forget. When she looked at the tile, a Mokona holding one flower-circle stared back at her. Crap! This one's no good! The turns went around again and when Doumeki picked up his next tile he took his whole row and flipped it down, revealing his hand.
"I just got a tsumo," he stated, his voice even.
"I would've have expected it, but you're quite harsh, Doumeki." Yuko gave his a measured look, her cranberry eyes boring into him. Right now, her points were at 78,400.
"Aw, crap!" Mokona stopped its little foot on the table. It was sitting at 39,000 points.
"I'm not actually," the archer continued. "I don't have a tori yet." It sounded like he was saying he wasn't harsh, but that if he had some other sort of combination of tiles then he really would be. Watanuki didn't like the sound of that! Doumeki had -6,000 points and was making a comeback.
"Speaking of being harsh…" Yuko looked over at Watanuki, who'd just realized that her points had dropped to -11,400. She dropped her head to the table, scattering her tiles across the green surface as she started to cry. "I think you just killed your girlfriend."
"Yeah," Doumeki nodded. "But I'd rather have her crying out for other reasons."
"D-d-don't you dare…" Watanuki sobbed/mumbled, not emotionally stable enough to handle losing again and dealing with innuendos at the same time.
"Catching up seems to have you in a pickle, ha!~" Mokona hopped over to the girl, and poked her cheek with its riichi stick (6)
"That's right," Yuko agreed. "Does she even want to be the dealer?" Watanuki had lost all her turns to be the dealer for the round because she had so many negative points. "Well, she will be for the last game." Yuko gave the girl a very villainous look, like she was going to pluck out the raven's eyes and eat them.
"This is impossible!" Watanuki wailed.
"How you're first time playing mahjong going?" The witch then asked. The girl gave her a look that told the woman that it should be obvious how it was going. "It's interesting, isn't it?"
"It's difficult!" Watanuki popped up, seeing that the teasing had stopped for the moment. "I can't seem to get any of the tiles I want and all the ones I don't want keep coming to me!"
"The point of the game is to avoid those ones and create a high-value hand!" Yuko explained.
"Well, sure…but…" Watanuki didn't know how they were all creating good hands with ease, when she just struggled to get one good tile.
While this whole conversation was going on, Doumeki was staring at his girlfriend, wondering what it would be like to play strip mahjong with her. Since she was a beginner (and a bad beginner at that), he'd probably have her in the nude after a few rounds. It could be very fun to play. Then he realized just how perverted he'd become when it concerned Kimihiro. Oh, I think it's getting worse the longer we're together, he thought. I should probably say less out loud…that way I don't piss her off all the time. He tuned back in to what was going on so that he didn't miss anything.
"Let me see what you've got," Yuko stated, standing up to walk around her corner of the table and look at her ward's tiles. Doumeki did the same, standing up and coming next to his girl, wrapping his arm around her waist. She jumped in surprise at his touch, but explained what she'd been trying to do in the game. Her blush couldn't hide her embarrassment.
"I was trying to get a proper tan yao yaku hand," she said, all the senses suddenly focused on the warmth at her hip. Why am I letting this distract me?! He's touched me loads of times! Even when I didn't want him too! Just calm down. Maybe it's because he's doing it in front of Yuko…I don't want to get teased any more! Gah! What do I do?! She decided not to acknowledge it and bit her bottom lip to focus her attention on some other body part. Suddenly, a warm finger came up to her lip and brushed it out of her teeth firmly. Watanuki's eyes shot open and she stared at Doumeki, shocked and a little turned on.
"What?!" She snapped.
"Don't bite those. That's my job." The archer replied to her snarkiness, completely calm. The girl didn't know if he was aware of how sexy that sounded, but he wasn't going to let him do this to her while they were in mixed company!
"Why you…!" The girl wiggled to get out of his embrace before he could go any further but before she could; his hand slid down to her ass and gave it a quick squeeze. This prompted the girl to squeal and punch him in the face before escaping and running to the other end of the courtyard. "Pervert! I'm going to have to establish some boundaries with you!" She yelled at him, hiding behind a tree by the gate.
One of the corners of Doumeki's mouth twitched up as he saw how embarrassed he was, but she hadn't said he couldn't touch her anymore…they would just have "boundaries." But that also didn't mean he couldn't break those boundaries later…they were dating for heaven's sake.
Ignoring the chaos around her, Yuko looked down at her employee's mahjong hand and Doumeki and Mokona followed suit. They scanned the characters on the tiles she had and Mokona was the first to say what they'd all noticed.
"She was in tenpai for a Kokushi," it commented, seeing that the girl could've gained 32,000 points.
"I don't get why she didn't call it," Yuko said, still looking at the tiles.
"Neither do I," Doumeki seconded.
"I KNOW WHY!" Watanuki yelled from across the courtyard. "BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE HELL I'M DOING!"
The ground started getting ready for the next round without acknowledging her outburst. However, the seer asked for a few more minutes to read in her manual. Pretty soon, Yuko was bored and wanted to get going.
"Still not ready yet?" She watched as her ward got flustered and started reading faster. "You have the face of someone who is delivering an ill-prepared, long-winded speech."
"You're like a poorly-made gun that misses its target!" Mokona added, dancing around.
"Like the thoughts of an idiot that run around and around, going nowhere." Doumeki finished.
"Yes! That one's right!~" Yuko giggled, hiding her face coyly behind a magenta fan.
"Would you all stop it with the insults, please?!" Watanuki jumped to her feet and started waving her fists in the air. "You're all ganging up on a beginner like me and its mean! I-" She could've gone on but their little gathering was interrupted by a cheerful voice.
"Hey, Watanuki!" Wari called out, walking up the courtyards path. "It's such a beautiful afternoon, isn't it?"
Wari was standing in front of them with all his cuteness, a gentle smile gracing his lips. Happy for the distraction and genuinely happy to see her former crush, Watanuki leapt clean over the table and spun around in delight.
"Waaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiii!~" She cooed, stopping in front of the boy. Then, acting cool, she placed her thumb on one end of her glasses and her index finger on the other end and did that cool anime-eyeglasses-glint thing. She also smoothed out her voice and tried to sound sexy (she didn't know if it did sound sexy, but what the hell). "What brings you to a place like this, this fine afternoon?"
"I came to give Doumeki back a book I borrowed from him," the teen replied cheerfully. Watanuki crumbled to the ground; still jealous that they were sharing things behind her back (even though she didn't really have a crush on Wari anymore since she was dating Doumeki…you know what? It's just complicated!) "Thanks, Doumeki!"
"No problem," Doumeki took the book that his friend handed him, and gave Watanuki a sidelong glance. Such an idiot.
"I have this too!" Wari held up a box tied with a red ribbon and handed it to the archer as well. "I was practicing cooking with my friend and we made a little too much."
"What?!" Watanuki ears perked up at the mention of food + Wari. "Cake?!"
"It's a cherry tart! You all should have some!" The boy smiled again, pleased that he could share with his friends.
"Yay! I'm going to have some of Wari's handmade cake!" Watanuki jumped into the air, her target: the cake.
"My friend was actually the one who made," the curly-haired boy explained. Like a popped balloon, Watanuki fell to the ground, her excitement deflating as she realized that Wari didn't make the cake after all.
"Oh, you should've have, Wari!" Yuko was up and looking at the box, curious and looking a little hungry.
"Oh, it's not problem!" Everyone gave the girl collapsed on the ground a look and then continued on without worrying about her. When Watanuki finally dragged herself back to the game, Wari sat beside her. "Wow, that's cool! I didn't know you could play mahjong, Watanuki!"
"It's my first time and I don't really know what's going on," Watanuki blushed, admitting her inexperience. She glanced at Doumeki's perfect poker face and then her eyes slid to the right, observing Yuko looking seductive while holding her sake cup. And then there was Mokona…just staring back at her with its eyes closed (somehow). It was the seer's turn so she picked up a tile as she talked to herself. "So, leave this one here, and…if I get rid of this one, I'll be in riichi?" (6)
"And then you'll win? That's so cool!" Wari smiled at her and Watanuki's heart skipped a beat. Freakin' calm down! You have a boyfriend and he's staring daggers into your back! Watanuki know that Doumeki's face looked like it always did, but she could feel the intensity of his gaze punctuated by possessiveness and jealously. It's not like I'm in love with Wari anymore…but he's so cute! The world seemed to shine around the curly-haired boy, her smiled making life a little brighter. Like he was doing now…blinding Watanuki with his cuteness. "It's really nothing!" She was blushing even harder now as she picked up the tile she wanted to discard and went to put it down.
"That's…" Mokona's eyes shot open and Yuko and Doumeki trained their gazes on the tile, there intensity palpable in the air.
Oh, this tile's not going anywhere! They all said to themselves, poised to make the girl regret everything she'd ever done.
"Shinroutou!" Yuko called out, showing her hand.
"Nikoniko Chi'toidoradora!" Mokona shouted cheerfully, showing its hand.
"Pin-fu yanpekou doradora!" Doumeki finished, tipping his tiles over as well. The raven was thoroughly trounced! She fainted, falling back on the ground, her body making a dead thump as she did so.
"You did it, Watanuki," Wari cheered, taking pleasure in the game. "That was a royal beating!" The boy waited until the raven regained consciousness to say goodbye.
"See you later, Wari! We'll enjoy the tart!" Watanuki waved at her friend as he reached the gate. The teen turned and waved back one more time before heading on his way.
The game continued on and Mokona started doing something very interesting. When Yuko placed down dragon tile, it picked it up and made a pon, setting aside the three matching tiles it had collected off to the side. When Doumeki discarded a wind tile, it did the same, gathering up the three tiles it had and setting them aside. "Pon! Pon-pon!" It cheered. The same happened with a bamboo tile. Now Yuko and Doumeki were suspicious (and Watanuki was still clueless).
This is…Yuko mused to herself.
What's going on? Doumeki questioned, watching the creature carefully.
Mokona, Yuko started going through the information she had in her head, I can't underestimate you. If you are gathering another set of three, I might not make my Daisangen.
But, it looks like Mokona just like gathering patterns…Doumeki concluded, I can't tell.
The pair focused their gazes on the Mokona but all they were looking at now was the creature jumping and playing with a butterfly…acting as if it was just playing for the heck of it. Doumeki make his move and then it was Watanuki's turn again. She discarded another tile and tensions rose to a dramatic scale between the archer and the witch. But…Mokona came another step closer to winning the round when it created another trio.
"Pon pon pon pon!" Mokona cheered, jumping up happily. Yuko looked dejected and Doumeki just looked like…Doumeki.
"Yuko, what just happened?" Watanuki asked, her mouth agape as she looked around at her companions and realized that she'd done something horrible.
"Watanuki, you just make Mokona's yakuman certain," the witch explained. "If Mokona wins, it gains 32,000 points."
"WAH?!" Watanuki knew she was in trouble now.
"If Mokona wins this turn, it'll be your responsibility to pay up." Yuko warned her charge, making her voice as threatening as possible. The raven would be sitting at -32,000 points at the end of the round. "Doumeki…?"
"Hm?" He turned to look at the woman.
"What should we have her do?"
"Panties," he immediately replied.
"WAH?!" Watanuki was now a broken record.
"I like that idea!~" Yuko clapped her hands together in delight, "If Mokona wins, you can leave your skirt on but you have to take of your panties!~"
"SHIT NO!" Watanuki retorted, seeing that this game of mahjong was bound to turn into strip mahjong if she didn't do something! "I'm not doing that!"
"If you won't…I'll just let Doumeki take them off you," Yuko's eyes held a murderous and mischievous light in them as she narrowed her eyes at the girl. A shiver traveled up the raven's spine and she sneaked a glance at her boyfriend. He was looking back at her, a hungry fire in his eyes. She shivered again, but for completely different reasons this time.
"That is sexual harassment and I'm not doing it!" She snarled back, hoping that her voice didn't crack as an unfamiliar warmth blossomed in her stomach. It was strange, a feeling she'd never felt before, but it licked at her senses, making everything seem brighter, sharper, and deeper. Because of that, she had no way to ignore Doumeki's presence that seemed to snake its way over to her, blocking out most everything else around her. She didn't know what to make of it, and now was not the time to explore! Her panties were riding on this!
"We'll see," Yuko concluded. Everyone else passed their turns, so the round came right back around to the raven.
"How's this?!" Watanuki slammed a tile down, her finger covering the picture on the top. Everyone waited with bated breath, watching as her finger slowly came off the tile to reveal the image. It was a single Mokona and the real Mokona smiled deviously.
"Ron! I got them all! Yay, ya, whoo!~" It jumped up in triumph at the look of devastation on the girl's face.
"Mokona was going for a Furiten," Yuko observed. "But it can't win with that." Mokona was still doing its victory dance.
"Mokona looks like it doesn't care too much," he added.
"It's Mokona's way of gaming, I guess." The witch shrugged. "If it can gather tiles prettily, then it seems its fine. Watanuki was saved after all."
"Let's leave her alone, it'll be more interesting if we leave that particular threat on the table," Doumeki suggested, eyeing Yuko.
"Ah…if I didn't know better…you might be a bit of a sadist," she countered, eyeing him back.
"I don't know what you're talking about," he replied. "But you might be one."
"With all the work I give her, how can I now have that tendency?" Yuko laughed joyfully, cheerfully enjoying Watanuki's torment as she fainted away again. She'd thought Mokona had won and had passed out in reaction.
The score stood as follows:
Yuko: 83,900 points
Mokona: 63,200 points
Doumeki: 58,300 points
Watanuki: -105,400 points
A few minutes later, Watanuki roused herself and saw that everyone was taking a tea break, quietly enjoying the afternoon. There was a question that the girl had been meaning to ask since this whole mess started and now looked like a good time to do it.
"Yuko, everything aside, why are we playing mahjong all of a sudden?"
"More than the actual game of Mahjong, the mixing of the tile is the really important thing," she replied, looking up into the sakura trees, the breeze playing with her hair. When more explanation wasn't forthcoming, the girl was about to ask for it when Yuko interrupted again. "Let's get the last round started!" She cheered and Mokona instantly agreed with her.
They all shuffled the tiles again and the game started without a hitch. Several turned passed and Watanuki had started to build up her hand again, hoping to at least hack off a chunk of her negative points.
"You're still trying to comeback, Watanuki?" Yuko asked, an amused smile on her face as the girl finished her turn.
"Please, don't talk to me! I'm in the middle of thinking!" Watanuki finished up, pleased that she had a decent hand this time. "Great!" Yuko moved next and then placed her riichi stick in front of her hand (6).
"Riichi!" She declared.
"Yuko, that's a great play!" Mokona cheered. It played out its turn and then placed its riichi stick in front of its hand as well. "Second riichi!"
"That's not a bad move yourself, Mokona," the witch shot back.
"Hee hee hee!"
Doumeki took his turn and also placed a riichi stick in front of his hand.
"Third riichi," he stated, upping the ante even more.
"Once again, that's white a fierce waiting move," Yuko commented.
Watanuki was noticeable sweating due to the pressure, a drop sliding down her forehead. She looked at the three riichi sticks and panicked. "This means that I'm in a huge pickle, doesn't it?!" She was totally screwed, she just knew it.
"I don't know," the witch on her right replied. "I have no idea what kind of hand you have, Watanuki."
"Stop your whining!" Yuko shut the girl up by dramatically holding up her newly refilled sake cup. "It's your turn, Watanuki. Make it count!"
"You show no mercy!" Watanuki growled, scared and pissed off at the same time.
"Of course, I don't!~!
The raven ignored her and picked up a tile, looking at it and concentrating on what she needed to do.
"You're in tenpai, right?" A familiar voice asked. Without even noticing the newcomer, the girl replied.
"Yeah, but so what? I'm just a beginner."
"That's not what I'm saying!" The feminine voice continued, "You're about to get a winning hand on your next move!"
"I know that!" Watanuki growled, turning to glare at her backseat player. Standing next to her, scrutinizing her hand with a pout on her face and hands on her hips was Ame-Warishi. "Ah! Ame-Warishi! What are you doing here!?"
"More importantly, you got this tile, so put it here!" The rain sprite attempted to grab the seer's tile out of her fingers and place it on the board, but Watanuki wouldn't let go and a small struggle ensued. "Come on! Even a-"
"Even a cow can play slowly, I know!" The raven barked back, hating being treated like a beginner even though she was one. Watanuki picked up the tile she wanted to discard and started to put it down, calling riichi. "Riich-" but she never finished because Ame-Warishi whacked her in the head with her umbrella baseball-style, slamming her into the table. Mokona started to die laughing, unable to contain its amusement. "What are you doing?!" Watanuki snarled.
"You're hand is open, so you can't call riichi, you idiot!"
"Ame-Warishi," Yuko started, her own amused smiled on her face," I know you've had quite the long trip, but could you please stop spoiling our Watanuki?"
"What do you mean by 'our?!'" The girl snapped up, a goose egg on her head.
"Alright, I'll stop," the sprite agreed. "She was just so thick that I had too!"
"I don't appreciate that comment!"
"But you'd feel frustrated loosing this one, right?" The redhead ignored her and trained her eyes on Yuko. "It looks like you've got quite a big one coming."
"We'll see," was the short reply. Suddenly, there was another presence at the raven's side and she spoke up softly.
"Oh, how pretty!" Watanuki jumped again, Ame-Warishi's constant companion standing at her right.
"It's Zashiki-Warishi!" Mokona cheered, happy to have more friends.
"The tiles are all a pretty green!" The sprite continued, smiling and enjoying the game. Ame-Warishi gasped at her friend's thoughtlessness because at the same time, Mokona's eyes opened, Doumeki's eyes narrowed (a little) and Yukon aura turned ominous and threatening. They were all poised for attack. They were all thinking the same thing: Ryuuiisou in tenpai?
"You can't say things like that out loud, for god's sake!" Ame-Warishi chided her friend, her face quite stern.
"Oh no!" Zashiki-Warishi gasped, putting her hands to her mouth in shock, "I'm so sorry!" Tears were starting to form in her eyes and Watanuki prayed that the Tengu weren't anywhere within a ten mile radius of their charge.
Crap, Mokona cursed, still focused on Watanuki's hand.
I didn't expect this development, Yuko mused. We all have riichi, but…Yuko picked up her next tile and discarded it.
If this isn't my Atari-hai, I'll have to discard it, Mokona went to take its turn.
This is bad, Doumeki thought, picking up his next tile. He discarded it as well. Watanuki closed her eyes and picked up her next tile, all the pressure riding on her. Her spirits dropped when it wasn't what she needed and she discarded it.
If it's a pin or a ro-pin, then I win, Yuko told herself. If it's a green tile then it's Watanuki's, without a doubt. The woman picked up her next tile and felt the indents in the surface without turning it over. It wasn't what she needed. Then it was Mokona's turn.
Let me tsumo, number one, don't be green! Mokona picked up a tile and turned it over, finding it blank. No luck. Doumeki silently picked up his next tile, his thoughts hidden behind his stone face and he set it down, clearly not finding what he was looking for.
Suddenly, all the pressure was forced back onto Watanuki as she reached for her next tile, the tension compounding as she felt the stares of her rivals digging into her. She couldn't look any of them in the eye as a drop of cold sweat ran down her neck and spine. It seemed as if Yuko, Mokona and Doumeki had the aura of an evil spirit and the girl would've gladly faced a spirit in that moment rather than piss them off. I'm dead if I win, I'm dead if I let someone else win! Gah! In response to the evil auras, Zashiki-Warishi felt a little faint and Ame-Warishi had to catch her as she became unstable.
"Oh, geez!" She grumbled, holding up her friend. "Will you all calm down!?" No one said a word, focusing intently on the game. The raven picked up a tile with a gasp and didn't want to look at it for a moment, but relented. This tile would decide her fate! She cracked her eyes open and pulled her thumb off the image on the tile and found that it was the one she'd been looking for.
"I got it!" She cheered, placing the tile down. Instantly the evil auras disappeared.
"Did you win?" Zashiki-Warishi asked, feeling much better now.
"Yeah! I did!" Watanuki leapt up and grabbed her friend's hands, only to let them go awkwardly when they both started blushing.
"Don't give me that!" Ame-Warishi hand her hands on her hips again and a frown on her lips. "You almost turned your back on a yakuman hand worth 48,000 points!"
"How many points do I have?" Watanuki asked, not even knowing her own score.
"Negative points," Doumeki stated, his own score standing at 53,300 points. His girlfriend's face paled, her small victory undermined by her huge loss.
"That's Watanuki for you!" Yuko grinned, pleased with her 78,900 points. "She has a deep bond when it comes to attracting spirit, but absolutely no luck when it comes to Mahjong!"
"We look forward to doing this with you again!" Mokona toasted the seer with its sake cup, also pleased that it came in second place with 58,200 points. Watanuki fell over as if dead, her crushing defeat sucking the life out of her. Zashiki-Warishi looked concerned, but Yuko waved her off.
"Don't worry! If she doesn't wake up in ten minutes, we'll have Doumeki kiss her to shock her awake!~"
"Works every time," Doumeki gave the sprite a thumbs up, his face still blank.
"Geez," Ame-Warishi rolled her eyes. "You've been dating for how long and she still hasn't gotten over kissing?"
"Our Watanuki is a very sensitive one," Yuko giggled behind her hand. Unfortunately, the raven woke up all on her own as Yuko was totaling the scores for the final check, denying Doumeki his chance to play Prince Charming. The sun had begun to set, turning the sky a lovely pink, purple and orange color. When the witch was done, Mokona announced Watanuki's epic defeat.
"Watanuki, you're at -91,700 points!~ That's a doozy!"
"And what a dramatic loss it was!" Yuko continued.
"I get it, I get it! I lost, okay?" The girl had her head on the table, a puddle of tears soaking into the green felt under her face.
"You don't see a complete failure like that often!" Ame-Warishi snickered.
"Well, excuse me!" Watanuki glared at the sprite in response.
"I'm sorry…it's my-" Zashiki-Warishi started apologizing but Ame-Warishi stopped her.
"Oh, it's got nothing to do with you. It's her fault." Watanuki almost started crying again as the rain sprite abused her ego.
"Well then," Yuko started, eyeing her employee. "How shall we have you pay this off?" Watanuki's spine became ramrod straight in an instant, fearful and hopeful at the same time. Yuko was puffing her pipe, thinking over what she should do.
"You're not going to add this to my work duration, are you?"
"At my rates, you would have to work until the next century," she replied offhandedly.
"That's impossible!" Just thinking about it made the girl want to throw up.
"Then…strip!" Yuko's eyes narrowed, her Cheshire Cat smile making a full appearance.
"WHAT?!" Watanuki jumped up, throwing her arms across her chest, horrified that she hadn't escaped the threat from earlier.
"It's strip mahjong!" Mokona cheered gleefully, adding insult to injury. Before anyone had time to enact such a punishment, the seer felt a gentle hand on her shoulder. She turned, seeing the spirit of the sakura tree smiling down at her. Her robes and hair were gracefully fluttering in the wind and she sent a shower of petals down on the party as she began to float away. Rapt with awe, Watanuki breathed out a few words.
"That woman's spirit…" The party all watched her smile one last time. Even Doumeki followed her movements, seeing the spirit through Watanuki's eye. It was always an amazing experience to see what she saw, and he was grateful for their shared connection, especially in moments like these. The spirit flew off into the sunset, disappearing with a flurry of sakura blossoms. Watanuki caught a petal in her hands, a few more landing in her hair and Yuko smiled as a petal landed in her sake cup.
"She looked so happy!" Mokona cooed.
"The sound of clacking Mahjong tile is said to bring good fortune," Yuko explained.
"Oh, really?" Watanuki mused.
"If there are people who wish for tranquility, it can become a farewell present to the deceased," the witch continued. Now Watanuki understood why they were doing what they were doing.
"Oh!" The girl instinctively looked at Doumeki, still surprised that he was looking off at where the spirit disappeared like everyone else hand, but knowing that somehow, he was a part of all this.
"She must've decided that it was time to move on and go to her intended place," Yuko finished softly.
"She was smiling, right?" Mokona asked. The seer nodded.
"I'm sure Kohane would be happy, just as I am," she stated. The sun's light faded all too quickly, casting the day into a navy night. The group spent a few more moments in contemplative quiet before Yuko's antics got in the way.
"Let's throw a party!~"
"Yay! A party!" Mokona readily agreed.
"What?! You want to throw a party now?!" Watanuki yelled, already tired because she knew that she'd be the one in charge of everything.
"That's right," Yuko confirmed, puffing her pipe again. "Watanuki, do you know how badly you lost?"
"Geez!" The girl hunched over in despair. "I get it! Once we go to the shop-" she sighed, but she was interrupted.
"No! I want to eat right now!~ I want to drink right now!~" The witch turned into a child shaking her fists impatiently (and happily too because she knew she was going to get what she wanted).
"Eh?! Right here!?"
"Let's do some flower-viewing!" Mokona chimed it.
"It's pretty convenient that this is the home of someone you know perfectly well, right?" Yuko teased. "In fact…you even kiss him!"
"Shut up, you witch!" Watanuki's face was red again. "Fine! Doumeki!"
"Shizuka," he corrected.
"I said that I would only call you that when we're alone!" The girl's blush spread up her ears and down her neck. "I'm using your kitchen!" She stomped off without waiting for a reply.
"I'll help!" Zashiki-Warishi followed the seer as she headed around the back to the kitchen.
"Wait!" Ame-Warishi dashed off after the sprite. "Things always ended up messy with you in the kitchen!"
"Mokona too! Mokona will go too!" The porkbun ran after everyone, leaving Doumeki and Yuko alone. The four's conversation about what to make for a flower-viewing drifted off as they got further and further away, eventually blending in with the spring breeze.
"With this, your request is fulfilled," Yuko said, addressing her companion. "Are you pleased with the result?"
"Yes." Doumeki turned to face the woman, bowing to her respectfully. "Reading sutras wouldn't have been enough to put her at peace."
"No, it seems not. But for her, it was a nice enough present as well." They sat in silence for a few moments, the witch looking up at the beautiful cherry blossoms and the archer waiting for what he knew was coming next. "I'll take compensation by enjoying your grandfather's prized sake!"
"Alright. I'll go get it." The boy stood up and went to retrieve her price as she thanked him happily. When he was gone, Yuko lifted up her sake cup to the trees, toasting their beauty.
"Here's to nice encounters and to the beautiful ones who leave with the seasons. Cheers."
A short time later, Doumeki returned with a bottle of sake and Yuko pulled it over to her side of the table, guarding it so that no one else could have it. The pair sat and enjoyed the flowers while waiting for the rest of the pack to get back. It wasn't too long before Watanuki, both the sprites and Mokona came back bearing the night's cuisine, and it all looked delicious. The raven laid a cloth over the mahjong table to keep it nice and then the food was laid on top, ready for eating.
"Let's party!~" Mokona shouted, grabbing food with its pudgy hands and stuffing it's gut.
"Hey! Leave some for us!" Yuko chided, snagging a plate before the creature could eat it all.
"Pace yourselves, please," Watanuki cautioned. "It will take time to make more food and I want to enjoy some before I have to go back in the kitchen."
"This is delicious!" Zashiki-Warishi exclaimed, trying the seer's chirashi sushi (7).
"Your temari sushi isn't bad either," Ame-Warishi commented, taking a bite.
"Next time make inari sushi," Doumeki ordered, taking a bite of tempura shrimp. "It's good when you make it."
"So bossy!" Watanuki huffed, but the light blush on her face told everyone that she'd enjoyed the compliments and was only grumpy on principle.
Everyone was enjoying themselves and even though Watanuki was sent back to the kitchen to make more food and bring more drinks, she didn't seem to mind too much. Yuko even coaxed her to drink a little…and that's where she got into trouble. Unbeknownst to the girl, Mokona was slipping her more and more sake and since she was a lightweight, Watanuki got intoxicated very quickly. So much so, that Yuko didn't want her going back into the kitchen to hurt herself when she noticed that they were running out of food.
"I'll go make some more!~" Watanuki sang, trying to stand up on her wobbly feet. Five pairs of eyes locked on to her – two of them were amused, one was very concerned, one was enjoying the idiot making a fool of herself and the last pair was making sure that she didn't fall over.
"Oh, dear," Yuko sighed, taking a sip of the lovely sake that Doumeki had brought her. "Doumeki, it looks like our Watanuki is a little drunk. Couldn't you hold her so she doesn't do something silly in the kitchen and hurt herself?" The archer was immediately up for the task. He snagged the girl's arm before she stumbled off to the kitchen and plopped her down right in his lap.
"Doooouuuuuumekiiiiii!" She whined, trying to get out of his hold. "I haaaave to make snaaaaacks!"
"No you don't. Eat." He replied curtly to her whining and popped a sakura mochi dessert into her mouth. The raven shut up for a second as she chewed delightfully.
"Oh goodness." Ame-Warishi rolled her eyes, seeing the state Watanuki was in. "She's bad at mahjong and at holding her liquor!"
"Well, it didn't help that Mokona kept topping her off without her realizing it, riiiiiiight Mokona?" Yuko purred.
"Whoopsies! I guess I did do that, didn't I?" The little porkbun did a little dance and giggled.
"So it was your fault!" Watanuki pointed an accusing finger at Mokona…well, it was supposed to be at Mokona but her finger landed on Yuko instead.
"This is hilarious!" Yuko laughed as Doumeki grabbed Watanuki's arm and pulled it back in, cocooning her much like he had the night when the spirit first resided in the sakura tree. He secured her arms and held her tightly so that she couldn't move and whack someone with her spindly arms and legs.
"That's actually kind of cute," Zashiki-Warishi said softly, munching on a rice ball. She still like Watanuki, but she knew that the girl was happy with Doumeki and she wasn't going to get in the way; it wasn't in her nature. She'd decided that she'd be Watanuki's friend a long time ago, and she wasn't going to change that about her. She'd stick with Ame-Warishi and have lots of fun times with Watanuki and her friends…that was enough for her. So seeing a cute Watanuki all bundled up in a Doumeki make her happy too.
"Ya think?" Ame-Warishi asked, watching her friend closely. She knew of Zashiki-Warishi's unrequited crush, but Watanuki was always nice to the sprite and the rain sprite could see how happy her friend was just by being near the seer. So she'd stay by Zashiki-Warishi's side and make sure she was happy and safe.
"Yes, don't you?" The blunette replied with her own question and Ame-Warishi had to look at the idiot for a moment before answering.
"I guess, but I still think she's and idiot," she shrugged. Watanuki caught that comment and burst.
"Who's the idiot?!" The raven growled, once again trying to get out of Doumeki's arms. The archer held her firmly, his strength more than a match for her own.
"I said you are!" Ame-Warishi didn't back down and pointed her umbrella at the seer threateningly.
"Say that to my face!"
"Everyone gets along so well!" Yuko smiled, enjoying the show as the argument went on until Watanuki asked for a drink of water, her voice cracking from shouting so much.
"Here." Doumeki picked up a cup he knew had water in it and helped the girl drink it. However, once done, the girl's face flushed a deeper red and she started giggling uncontrollably…right along with Mokona.
"Hahahahaheehee!" The pork bun laughed, rolling around on the table.
"What did you do?" Doumeki asked, suspicious that what he'd just given his girlfriend wasn't water.
"I switched the glasses! Now she's even more drunk!~" The furball was just loving everything about the situation.
"You're a little devil, Mokona," Yuko chuckled, feeling just a tiny bit sorry for her Watanuki. With this last bit of sake, Watanuki went a little boneless, completely relaxing in Doumeki's arms until she couldn't even hold herself up. That was the archer's clue that she'd had more than enough.
"Alright, we're done." He stated, standing up and scooping the girl into his arms at the same time.
"Aw! No more fun!" Mokona mock pouted, turning back to the snacks.
"You're welcome to stay as long as you like," the archer informed his guests. "Please put the dishes in the kitchen. You don't have to clean them."
"Thank you, Doumeki," Yuko bowed her head slightly. "I assume we won't be seeing any more of you tonight?"
"No. Someone has to keep an eye on her," the archer tipped his head down to indicate the loopy woman in his arms.
The archer nodded to his friends and then walked up the temple's stairs. He maneuvered the doors open with his foot and then shut them the same way before discarding his shoes in the genkan and heading toward his room. Watanuki was still collapsed in his arms, but that didn't mean that she didn't move and Doumeki nearly dropped her once. She managed to flail one of her arms out and smacked him in the face, her body going in the opposite direction, causing him to lose his balance for a moment. Stumbling back to an upright position, he heard the girl apologize.
"Sorry…'Meki…" then she hiccupped a little bit and reined in her arms so it wouldn't happen again.
"Where are we going?" She slurred a little bit but was still coherent enough to hold a conversation.
"My room." He stated, turning down another hallway before stopping in front of his door.
"Is it bedtime, already?" Watanuki's duel-colored eyes locked onto his face. "But I'm not…hic…sleepy!" Her eyes blinked furiously several times, as if she couldn't see and was trying to clear her vision.
"You're drunk," he started, but was interrupted by the seer's arm whipping out and dragging the door open before he could.
"Am not!" She argued, attempting to jump down on her own two feet. She struggled against him until he started to set her down, but when her feet hit the floor, her legs were ready to take the weight of her body. So, still holding onto Doumeki, Watanuki yelped and tried to pull herself back into his arms…but only succeeded in yanking him down with her. The archer was thrown on his back, pulled by the girl's arms and she landed on the tatami mats next to him, hands gripping his jacket. While his face stayed the same, hers was stunned: her mismatched eyes wide, her mouth open in a little "o" and her eyebrows rose on her forehead. Glasses askew, she hiccupped again, bringing her inebriated state back to the forefront of her mind.
"Okay…" she admitted, "maybe I'm a little drunk. The alcohol blush on her cheek darkened, signally that she was a little embarrassed and the archer thought it was so cute.
"A little," he agreed somewhat sarcastically (for him), pulling her glasses off and pressing his lips to hers for a quick peck. Her blush deepened once again and she ducked her head so that he couldn't look at her with his piercing gaze. Something was troubling her and she didn't want him to see it in her eyes until she was ready to talk. But apparently drunk-Watanuki blurted out everything on her mind (and thank goodness that drunk-Watanuki's embarrassment tolerance went way down as well) because her concern just waltzed right out of her mouth without her having a moment to think about it.
"I'm not just a piece of meat to you, right?" She didn't dare look up to see his reaction to such a forward question, but her throat burned with nervousness as well as the aftermath of consuming alcohol. Doumeki was a little confused as to where this was all coming from, but since it was drunk-Watanuki, he gave her some slack.
"Well…" the girl struggled to find words for a moment or two (a rare occurrence as the raven always had something to say) but continued talking soon enough. "Like with today…when you and Yuko teased me about taking off my panties if Mokona won…and those times where you try to peek up my skirt or touch me in…places…" it seemed that even drunk-Watanuki wouldn't talked about fondling or groping, even though she was totally drunk. "I'm more to you…than that…right?" She was still not looking at him, her body seeming to curl in on itself as they laid on the floor, so Doumeki reached out and placed his hand under her chin and lifted her face. Her eyes were still tilted down, their depths unfocused and bashful.
"Look at me," Doumeki said softly. He was pleased when bronze and blue finally made eye contact with him, and he gave the nervous girl a soft smile. "You are more precious to me than anything else, Kimihiro. I would do anything to keep you safe. I love everything about you." The blunt statement of his love made the seer's breath hitch and she seemed to forget how to breathe completely for a minute.
"T-t-that's g-good," she whispered when she could breathe again. "You d-don't say it…often."
"I thought you already knew."
"It would be nice to hear it once in a while!" Quiet-drunk-Watanuki was gone and Doumeki was surprised as the girl launched herself forward and pushed him onto his back with the hands that were still clinging to his jacket. She then got on top of him, straddling his hips, her face inches away from his, their noses brushing. Her eyes blinked lazily, the fire in them dimming a little as if it was hard to focus. Doumeki, however, was very focused on the fact that Watanuki's warm body was lying on top of his, her small breasts pressed against his chest, her thighs gripping his hips. Everywhere she touched sparked to life and it seemed to be the same for Watanuki. Her eyes were dark, her breath heavy, and her skin hot to the touch. Doumeki's hands came up to her hips, not daring to wander anywhere else (for once).
"Say it again," she demanded, her usual, sharp tone replaced by a low and husky seductress. "Say you love me."
"I love you, Kimihiro," he whispered, kissing her cheek and then her nose.
"Again," she repeated, pressing her body into his. Doumeki could feel himself stir as her hands released his jacket, skated up his neck and tangled into his hair.
"I love you." This declaration was rewarded with a hot kiss, Watanuki's movement clumsy because of the sake in her system, but Doumeki welcomed it all the same. Her tongue pushed past his lips and he let her inside, tasting the bite of alcohol on her breath and on her lips. Oh god, this is such a turn on, he thought, wrapping her into a tight embrace. When they broke away from each other, gasping, the seer had a confession of her own.
"I love you, dork." Her chest was heaving, her eyelids heavy. "You're an annoying ass sometimes…but I love you anyway." The archer's heart thumped heavily in his chest when he heard those words. Watanuki didn't say that often either. If telling her that he loved her got him these results, he'd say it as much as she wanted. "Shi…zuka…" the raven's voice ached, as if she needed something, "…touch me…" Well, he wasn't about to say "no" to that.
Doumeki's hands dropped down to his girlfriend's thighs, softly caressing her skin, a small sigh of delight leaving his lips. She was kissing him again as his hands slid up further, a quiet moan escaping her lips. The man swallowed every sound she made, and soon she was making quite a few as his hands pushed her skirt out of the way cupped her bottom. She giggled into his mouth, finding something funny, but Doumeki was too busy squeezing the ass he'd wanted to touch so many times to ask her what was amusing. Apparently enjoying his touch, Watanuki's hips pushed forward into his body in a sort of halfway thrust and Doumeki urged her to do that again gently. It was amazing to feel the raven on top of him, her heat pinned to his. Her head slipped to the side, falling onto his shoulder and the archer took the opportunity to kiss her neck and nibble on her earlobe. She sighed again, voice humming against his neck.
This was all good and he was enjoying it, but the fire in his body urged him for more. Doumeki argued with himself for a moment, torn between wanting the woman on top of him and realizing that she might not appreciate having sex while she was very drunk, even as his fingers tip-toed up her rear to pinch the elastic of her panties. Just as he was about to pull the tempting piece of clothing off her hips, the archer's fun was halted when his girlfriend went limp in his arms. Her body became heavy and unresponsive and to his dismay, she began snoring softly. Doumeki groaned in frustration as he registered that his Kimihiro had fallen asleep due to intoxication…and she definitely wouldn't appreciate it if he kept touching her intimately. He huffed, his desires not even close to being sated, but then he smiled to himself softly.
There might be hell to pay in the morning (especially since he was going to have to change her into a kimono to sleep in)…but before he got them ready for bed, he could still touch her butt for a little bit. He did so gladly, happy to pay any price for his forwardness in the morning. When he was satisfied, the archer gently placed the girl on the floor and readied a futon for the night. He changed into a sleeping kimono and somehow managed to get his girlfriend into one too (making sure not to peek as much as was humanly possible, but hey, no one's perfect). Once everyone was ready for bed, Doumeki carefully picked up his sleeping beauty and placed her one the futon before slipping in beside her. He bundled her up in his arms and placed a soft kiss on her forehead.
"I told you the next you slept over that we'd sleep in the same futon." His hand came up and stroked her black hair, letting it run through his fingers. "Hopefully you remember that and try not to kill me in the morning." He kissed her again, this time on the lips, and embraced her. Their legs were tangled together, her head on his chest, his arms around her and they stayed like that all night. Watanuki slept on peacefully snuggling into her boyfriend's warmth, never wanting that warmth to go away.
To be continued…
Note 1: Sakura are Japanese cherry blossoms. They symbolize clouds because they bloom en masse and are an enduring metaphor for the fleeting, ephemeral nature of life. They are often associated with mortality and the graceful and acceptance of karma or destiny and were used as a symbol of Japanese Nationalism before and after WWII.
Note 2: I've been wearing glasses my whole life and I just now learned that the thin, long pieces that hook around your ears and hold the front frames to your head are called temples. Who knew?
Note 3: A samue is a traditional outfit that is often used as room wear. The sleeves and hem of this outfit are longer than its counterpart, the jinbe. Priests of a temple will often wear this outfit for cleaning and cooking, but it is now often wore by ordinary people.
Note 4: In Japanese culture, taking a bath with someone (like in a romantic relationship), means that you want to be really open with someone and close to them. Families often take baths together and will help each other wash backs and stuff (see the scene in Mamoru Hosoda's "Mirai no Mirai" where Kun and his family are all in the bath together). Public bath houses are also a common occurrence in Japan, where patrons pay to enter into baths separated by gender. There are two kinds of bathhouses: sentō (regular bathhouses) and onsen (bathhouses that use hot springs). Some Japanese find social importance by going to public baths or by sharing baths with their romantic partners, out of the theory that physical proximity/intimacy can strengthen or start emotional intimacy. This theory is termed "skinship" in English (kinda like how infants bond with their mothers when they're born). Some Japanese go to public baths because they live in small apartments or housing facilities that don't have private bathrooms (see the last half of "Chobits" episode 1 where Hiromu Shinbo invites Hideki Motosuwa to a public bath because their apartments don't have their own baths).
Note 5: From what I can tell, those three characters are from a mahjong manga from the '90s called "Akagi" that CLAMP likes. It revolves are Akagi Shigeru, a boy who defeats yakuza members who are well-versed in mahjong.
Note 6: In this chapter, the gang is playing riichi mahjong – the Japanese variant of the game. If a player has an entirely closed hand (meaning he hasn't called tiles from the other players), and is in tenpai (meaning he can win with one more tile), then they have the option to declare riichi. To call riichi, the player must call it right before they discard a tile, place a 1,000 point riichi stick in front of their hand, and turn the tile they discard sideways to indicate when riichi was called. From this point on, they are essentially playing on autopilot and cannot change their hand. The player picks up a tile on his turn and if it is not their winning tile, they must discard it. The only exception to this is that the player can turn any closed triplet into a closed kan, providing it does not change the tile(s) they are waiting on to win. (Excerpt taken from )
Note 7: Chirashi sushi is a dish served at flower viewings that consists of sushi rice with a variety of vegetables mixed in and toppings.