The Sakura Tree, Part 3
Watanuki heard it wherever he went and it was almost as bad as being constantly hounded by spirits. The little twitters behind raised hands as they gathered in small packs like nests of hornets, giving him covert and overt stares as he went down the hall. Some even paused in their tracks to watch him walk by. And hardly any of those eyes were welcoming or understanding.

Almost the whole school of girls was against him.

He could feel it in their menacing and unhappy gazes. Sometimes it was so bad that he wanted to break into a run. It was three months since Doumeki and he started dating. For the first few weeks, everyone seemed to be in a state of shock and things were fine. It was when Doumeki's fanclub got up in arms. And it was then that he had learned, he'd had a small clique of his own that he'd been completely unaware about.

Neither group was pleased with their current relationship.

"The enemy of my enemy is therefore my friend," Yuuko murmured, making a small puff of smoke from her mouth as she reclined on her special sofa.

Watanuki just wanted to be left alone and unnoticed. Before things had changed between he and Doumeki, even with Doumeki hanging around him, the fanclub hadn't noticed or hadn't viewed him as a threat. Now, on the other hand, they were readying pitchforks and swords, hunting for his blood.

There was no way he could have realized the extent of Doumeki's fans. They ran through the whole school and was like a government in and of itself, with structures and rules. It was like a society in which Doumeki was president and god. They did not appreciate the interloper, especially when that interloper was another boy. And when that fanclub set its displeasure on someone, everyone else had to fall in line.

The teachers were oblivious to it all. There were no overt threats. But it wore on Watanuki's nerves after a while and his pride would not allow him to tell his boyfriend about the quiet harassment he was receiving. The only true proof that he had were a few notes left in his locker and he'd burned those quickly.

"The truth is, you have to realize Watanuki," Yuuko had said as she had finally wheedled it out of him as to what had been bothering him, "is that they'll never be happy with anybody Doumeki might choose unless it's them. He could date the so-called president of this group and it wouldn't make a difference. They all want him for themselves. It's human nature."

His boss' words hadn't left him and while he appreciated her sentiments, which he had no reason to doubt as anything but true since she had been one of her rare sober and serious moods, it did nothing to stop it or ease the hardship. Even the little area of green they used to eat lunch at was being watched. He'd found the only solace, a place of peace, to eat at was on the one of the roof's. It had taken Doumeki and Himawari all lunch period to find him the first day he'd started eating there.

Ah, Himawari. She truly was a wonder.

Despite the pressure from her friends and the other girls of the school, she had not bent and ostracized him. She stuck by him, even though she wasn't obligated to and he had stolen Doumeki from her without even realizing it.

And damn that Doumeki. His Shizuka didn't even realize what was going on and Watanuki's pride wouldn't let him say anything. Despite his feelings, he refused to rely on Doumeki for every damn thing that happened. He'd been alone his whole life before he'd met the archer and he would be damned that he would let a few problems like this make him go running for safety.

Watanuki ducked around a wall to catch his breath. Nobody was around and he could calm his nerves before meeting Doumeki at the front gates. No matter where he went, the taller boy always accompanied him, or it almost seemed that way. There were no twitters or stares when Doumeki was around. Nobody, apparently, wanted to arouse the boy's anger or attention to what they were doing to his boyfriend.

Straightening his shirt and hair, he hurried from the school. Doumeki stood and slipped next to him without Watanuki breaking stride as they left. That larger hand, rough with calluses from his club activities, grabbed his as usual and twined their fingers together. Himawari wouldn't be walking with them that day, so it was the first time they were alone together for several weeks.

"Oi."

"My name is not 'oi'! Were you born this way? Can't you every say anybody's name?!"

Doumeki sent him a searching glance and admittedly, Watanuki knew he over-reacted a little too much for normal. Today had been a bad day, was the only thing he could blame it on.

But instead of commenting on it, Doumeki slid right past it. "Yuuko dropped by practice today. She said she has a job for us and to meet at the park." He paused and Watanuki merely nodded silently. "You all right? You look paler than usual."

"I'm fine," he snapped, fidgeting a little. He could feel a headache coming on and he hoped that whatever job Yuuko had planned for them that it didn't involve a lot of stress. He had gone to bed so exhausted at night lately, and even then, he never slept well. And for once, it had nothing to do with spirits.

It didn't take long to reach the park and true to her word, Yuuko was waiting for them. She turned and tilted her head, regarding them as they stood in front of her. When she didn't say anything at first, merely stared, he got fed up. He was tired of being stared at! There was nothing wrong with him!

"What is it, Yuuko-san, or did you drag us out here for nothing?"

"My, my, aren't you in a bad mood today, Watanuki." Before he could respond, she continued. "And yes, I have a job for you."

She flipped a smooth, white pebble in her hand several times and the black Mokona sitting on her shoulder giggled randomly. Yuuko loved suspense and watched as he fidgeted, before sticking out a tongue and tossing it forcefully against the ground. It seemed to break open and white smoke lifted from the soil, to twine around their ankles and up their bodies, seeming to center mostly like a mini bubble around their combined hands.

"Your job," Yuuko said cheerfully, but her voice sounded far away and even she herself was beginning to blur and distort, "is to relax!"

Watanuki's eyes snapped open and he found himself standing on a moonlit grassy shore. It couldn't have been more than a few minutes of insensibility, as they were exactly as they had been at the park.

He looked up at the sky and the moon was so bright it almost made his eyes water. The stars seemed a helluva lot closer than they normally were supposed to look, and when he glanced down again, there seemed to be a vast ocean in front of him. It glowed beneath the surface with beautiful, muted rainbow colors and the reflections from the stars made it look like there were diamonds below the shifting, smooth waves.

"Where the hell are we?" he asked aloud, letting go of Doumeki's hand and dropping his bag onto the ground. It smelled fresh, like the ocean usually smelled, but nowhere on earth was this beautiful. And he felt nothing here. There were no spirits anywhere to be seen or felt.

He turned around to glance behind him, taking note of millions of fireflies dancing over flowers and grass. Movement to his left drew his attention and Doumeki had already dropped down on the ground. Looking at his figure, Watanuki realized it was only the second time he'd seen Doumeki look so relaxed. There was no tension in any of his muscles and he appeared strangely at peace.

Since there didn't seem to be much to do, and they had no way of getting back until Yuuko let them, he sat down as well, picking up a few blades of grass and playing them between his fingers.

The silence lasted all of five seconds.

"So what's been eating you lately?"

"Nothing has been eating me! See? All limbs accounted for!!"

"I didn't mean literally."

Watanuki knew he hadn't, but he honestly didn't know what to tell him. With a sigh, he let himself fall against the cushioning grass of wherever they were and stared up at the stars, beginning to count them until his vision was filled with Doumeki.

The archer leaned over him and one arm wrapped around Watanuki's waist. When their eyes touched, he looked away, blush staining his cheeks. They hadn't really physically touched or even fondled each other since that first night; they barely even exchanged any deep kisses. It had been too new ground for him and he had put on the brakes as fast as he could. Doumeki had been all right with that, as he seemed to be all right with everything.

Those rough but pleasing fingers took hold of his jaw gently and turned his head to make him look at him. "Kimihiro, tell me. For the past month, you've been upset."

"I have not--"

"You can't lie to me, Kimihiro. I know you too well." The archer paused. "It's them, isn't it?"

"Them who?"

Doumeki gave an exasperated sound. "That fanclub of mine. They're giving you a hard time, aren't they?"

Watanuki's pride flared up and his mouth opened to deny, but the stern look in Doumeki's eyes stopped him from saying anything. He'd never seen Doumeki look quite like that, and frankly it was scary. It was reminiscent of the angered expression he'd seen when the archer had found out that he had sacrificed his right eye to the spider.

"How bad is it?"

He frowned heavily at the boy above him and with a bad-tempered look, he dragged his book bag over to rummage in it. He'd received a note the day before and hadn't had a chance to burn it yet. He shoved it almost violently into Doumeki's hand and then curled on his side, facing away from his boyfriend.

Did he care that he was sulking? No. Did he want to tell Doumeki about this problem? Not in this lifetime. Did he have a choice? Apparently not. He didn't see the hard expression on Doumeki's face, nor hear the words the archer said under his breath.

A kiss was laid right beneath his ear and he blinked. Arms slipped around his chest and held him close from behind, and then a back was pressed to his own. It was just like their first time and he blushed. Apparently one of Doumeki's new favorite activities with him was snuggling.

"I knew something was going on, but I didn't know how bad it had gotten. I'm sorry."

Watanuki shrugged jerkily. "Who cares? It was my problem to begin with."

There was silence behind him for a moment. "You were never going to tell me, were you?"

"No," he replied flatly. He was being pissy, he knew, but he frankly didn't care. He'd had to deal with those girls for months now and he didn't appreciate being forced to tell it to Doumeki.

Doumeki sighed and he could feel the air ruffle the hair at the nape of his neck. Slowly he began to leave kisses down his neck. And it annoyed Watanuki a little. He didn't want to be soothed. He wanted to still be angry and irritated. And damnit, he still would be if Doumeki would leave off his kissing.

It was only when the tension had seeped from both their bodies nearly a half an hour later that Doumeki spoke again. Watanuki himself was merely staring into nothing as he enjoyed the rare moment of peace. He didn't have to worry about spirits, his crazy boss, or maniacal fanclub girls here. Just he and Doumeki.

"Feeling better?" he murmured.

"I've been thinking…when we get back, do you…do you want to maybe spend the night at my apartment?"

There was shifting behind him and he turned to see Doumeki prop himself up on one elbow. That face was as stoic as ever, but he'd learned that the real expressions could be seen in those amber eyes if you knew where and what to look for. It might take a while to find it, but it was always there somewhere. Right then, there was faint surprise deeply hidden.

"If you've got shrimp tempura, sure."

"And I'm supposed to make you food on my invitation?! After all I've been through!"

A faint smile tugged at Doumeki's lips and he leaned down, their mouths touching in a kiss that slowly become quite deep. It could have gone beyond that, to touching and more, if Yuuko hadn't decided she'd pop them back into the real world right then.

His cheeks couldn't have turned redder and he immediately scrambled out from underneath Doumeki under the amused stare of his boss. Doumeki merely glanced up, shrugged, and stood, dusting off his clothes.

"I take it all went well?" Her smile was positively smug.

In the end, Watanuki never knew what Doumeki had said or done, but the twitters and the stares had stopped. He could actually walk the halls without feeling like he was going to bolt any moment. And their little quiet grassy area for lunch was free to use again in the end.

Watanuki had ventured to ask Doumeki as they lay in his bed after a particularly "strenuous" but infinitely and torturously slow love making session what he had done, but the archer had merely cocked his head and shrugged.

"I guess they decided in the end it wasn't worth it."

After that comment, Watanuki decided he really didn't want to know what his Shizuka had done.

-end-