Disclaimer: All characters belong to CLAMP.
Touya was distracted, he had to admit that. It was cold, he had just left work, and he couldn't wait to go home to Yuki (and dinner). He wasn't exactly paying attention. But that was no excuse for random schoolboys to bump into him.
"Hey, watch -"
He stopped in the middle of the sentence when he saw the boy's face, and for a dreadful moment he thought that creepy Hiiragizawa kid was back in Tomoeda. But it wasn't possible; this one looked a little older than Sakura and, more importantly, he was way too nervous. He was panting, as if he'd been running, and kept looking back as he apologized profusely.
Ah, of course. Touya knew that look.
"Just tell it to go away," he said. The boy stared at him as if he'd just sprouted a second head.
"Don't look at it over your shoulder," Touya insisted. "Turn around and tell it to go away."
The kid still looked confused, but did as he was told. Whatever had been following him obviously disappeared, because his expression changed to one of great relief. Touya was about to walk away, but the boy stopped thanking him to ask him something.
"Er - Did - Could you see it?"
"No," he answered.
"I've had some experience with this kind of things," Touya said, holding back a tired sigh, and gave up all hopes of returning home quickly. Bumping into someone with similar powers to the ones he'd once had was one of those moments he immediately classified in the "Fated" category.
"Um," the boy stuttered, "I wonder - I don't want to pry, but - uh - I wonder if you meant..."
Touya stared. He blushed.
"Did you mean you could see spirits and now you don't?" he blurted out, looking embarrassed of his own question.
"Look, kid," said Touya, "if you want me to tell you the story of my life, you could at least give me your name first."
The boy seemed puzzled for a moment, then he bowed.
"Touya Kinomoto," he replied. "Now, let's sit on that bench. This is going to take a while."
"We're going to have a talk. You don't bump into someone who knows about spirits and just walk away," Touya said. Almost out of habit, he added, "After all, there are no coincidences."
Watanuki turned slightly green.
"What is it?"
"Ah, nothing!" he exclaimed, waving his hands dismissively. "You just reminded me of the things my boss says..."
"Your boss sounds like an interesting person."
"Interesting is way too nice a word for her!" Watanuki said, twitching. "She's INSANE!"
"Are you always this loud?"
The kid gritted his teeth at that, but at least he stopped shouting.
"Anyway," he said, "the only reason why I'm working for her..."
"Yeah?" asked Touya, seeing he'd trailed off. Watanuki, serious for the first time, looked at him in the eye.
"I don't want to see spirits anymore."
Touya hadn't been sure of what to expect, but it certainly hadn't been that. He stared at the boy for a moment, then said the only thing that came to mind.
"...why?" Watanuki repeated, shocked. "It's like a curse! I see gross things all the time. I'm always running away from something. I get almost killed several times a week," he said in a rush. "Didn't your powers get you in trouble?"
"Sometimes," Touya had to admit. "But, most of the time, it was worth it. There were good things, too. I used to see my mother," he said, without realizing it until it was already done.
Strange. There was something about that kid that made him talk a lot... Not something magical, of course, it didn't work like that anymore; perhaps it was that he seemed to be in serious need of help. It brought out the older brother in him.
That couldn't mean anything good...
"Well," Watanuki sighed, "I don't get to see my parents. I do get to see monsters, and that stupid black smoke everywhere. I mean, there are some good things, but they are rare."
He turned to look at Touya with a curious expression.
"Didn't you have evil monsters chasing you and trying to eat you?"
"There was one," Touya remembered with a shudder, "but she moved back to England."
"...I don't think I'm following you."
"Never mind," said Touya. "The important thing is that your boss is right: things happen for a reason. If you have those powers, it means you need them."
"But you got rid of them!" Watanuki exclaimed.
"It wasn't quite like that," Touya explained, smiling a little. "I gave them up to keep something much more precious."
Watanuki looked rather discouraged when he heard that.
"Oh..." he muttered."I guess it's the opposite from me, then. They were your price."
Now it was Touya who looked confused.
"Yeah, Yuuko - that is, my boss - she always says that you have to pay a price, to get something in exchange."
"Makes sense," Touya said absentmindedly. "Sounds like something Clow would say..."
Watanuki jumped up.
"SOUNDS LIKE WHO?"
"...don't tell me you know about Clow Reed," said Touya, suddenly re-evaluating the similarity with Hiiragizawa. He wondered what he'd feel if he still had his magic, and soon reached the conclusion that it was best not to know.
It didn't help that Watanuki looked as if he was about to have a heart attack.
"Of course I know - I mean, Yuuko - aaargh, why do these things keep happening to me?"
"I could say the same," Touya muttered. "Uh... you don't happen to be living in Tomoeda, right?"
"No," he replied, "Yuuko sent me. She said she needed me to meet someone, the big fat liar! She just likes to torture me... the only magical being that showed up was that spirit from before..."
The kid was kind of slow, Touya noticed, but he wasn't in the mood for pointing out the obvious.
"...and instead, I get to hear about some guy who creeped out even Yuuko!" Watanuki rambled on. "I mean, how evil do you have to be to creep her out?"
"I wouldn't call him evil," said Touya. "Just really big trouble."
"That's not exactly comforting..."
"Hey, at least it's a warning," he said. "If what you want is advice..."
"What?" asked Watanuki.
"Before you do something about your powers," Touya told him, "make sure you have a good reason."
For a moment, the boy stared at him, concerned.
"Do you regret what you did?" he asked. Touya smiled.
"Not at all," he answered. "But my reason was really good."
Watanuki smiled a little, too.
"Thanks," he said. "I'll think about it."
They were about to go their separate ways after that, but Touya turned around at the last minute.
"Hey!" he called, and when Watanuki turned to look at him, Touya told him the same thing that he had told Sakura long ago.
"It's a good thing, that you don't see your parents," he said. "It means they aren't stuck in this world. They're at a beautiful place, where they deserve to be."
This time, Watanuki's smile was truly bright.
And awfully familiar, too. Touya sighed. He'd have to call his father.
Perhaps he remembered some other plans.