Genre: horror/angst/drama/romance/humour (in that order)
Fandom: xxxHolic manga
Disclaimer: Hello! If it had been mine, there'd probably be smexin' by now (or more appearances from our Legal Drug boys)!
Summary: Watanuki remembers the first time he realized it. oneshot
Watanuki remembers the first time he realized it.
It was night time when he woke up in cold sweats. He shivered, confusion and fear clouding his mind, as he carefully reached for his glasses. Watanuki hurriedly put them on and glanced around quickly to find all the old wards still in place in each corner, on each wall of his room. There was some relief but yet he could not stop the growing feeling of dread in his stomach. Somehow his bedroom, the most 'protected' room in his apartment, felt much less safe than usual.
Something was wrong, very wrong.
There was a loud crash, and it sounded much too close for comfort. Watanuki had instantly backed away into the corner the furthest of his bedroom door, tightly clutching his blanket. He knew that it gave him little protection, but he needed what little protection he could get his hands on.
The thought of calling Doumeki reached his mind, but he quickly discarded it. The only telephone he had was in the hallway, midway between the kitchen and the small living room and he did not want to take any risk by leaving his room.
He heard some thumping sounds against the wall starting in the hallway, from his front door. The rhythmic thumps were drawing closer and closer, and Watanuki thought he could also hear something scratching the wall as the sounds approached his bedroom.
And then, right when Watanuki pulled his blanket up to his nose and expected to see whatever was turning him so cold through the entrance of his bedroom, the noises suddenly stopped.
There was a moment of silence, and Watanuki could only grip his blanket tighter, sweat beading down his forehead, wondering if this was another nightmare. Wouldn't this usually be when he would wake up?
His eyes were still riveted to the entrance of his bedroom when he noticed the shadow moving. He could not make out what was outside his room, but somehow he just knew that it was not some harmless creature playing pranks on him.
Considering the fact that whatever it was had managed to break through the seal created by the other wards hung throughout his apartment, Watanuki knew that the creature had some amount of power. And he could also feel its hostility permeating the walls of his own home.
Watanuki wished Yuuko-san would magically appear with that eternal smirk of her, like she always did.
Watanuki looked at the two windows of his bedroom and noticed, through his anxiety, that many white forms had gathered outside at each of them. They were all fluttering around nervously and repeatedly (but quietly) kept hitting themselves against the glass, as if trying to get in. The wards were keeping them out.
In the back of his mind, Watanuki felt some small comfort knowing they were there. He knew of those spirits to be completely harmless and rather obedient, even friendly. They had no distinctive shape each, but he could recognize many of them. Whenever Watanuki went to bed each night, there was always two or three of them floating outside each window, as if watching over him. They had been doing so for many years now, and often used to go freely around his apartment regardless of him being home or not.
Almost like Doumeki, who never seemed to care whether Watanuki was around or not.
Watanuki knew that they had not been upset when he had hung those wards in his house. Somehow he knew when he had put those wards up before he entered high school that the spirits had understood that he was only trying to protect himself. He had been attracting more and more dangerous things and this was the only way he had to get some kind of safety in his own home. The white shapes had then quickly settled on hovering outside the windows of his apartment instead, usually a few at each while others flew freely around town (and who knows where else) but always come back at specific times. It was as if they had set up a schedule between them to guard their 'little master'.
That night though, Watanuki was pretty sure that they had all gathered around his bedroom, swarming at the windows and trying to find a way in. Watanuki knew that all he had to do was to take down those wards to let them in, but he also knew that taking them down meant he would be completely defenseless against whatever it was that was lurking right outside his bedroom door. His friend-spirits were many but also weak. Their combined powers were nowhere near the one of the dark entity in the hallway.
A low cackling suddenly resonated through the house and Watanuki, as well as the white orbs outside, froze. Less then a second later they started, almost aggressively, to attempt going through the windows again. Watanuki turned extremely pale, as if feeling their panicked states.
Dark clouds were forming outside his bedroom and Watanuki could only stare as the stench filled his nostrils and a dark shape slowly crawled to the entrance's bedroom, bearing red teeth. It stopped right there, its low cackling turning into a shriek as yellow beads stared wildly at Watanuki.
It was then laughing, Watanuki realized, as it stood up. The creature was no longer dark but rather tall, and human-like. Its skin was of an ashen color and seemed somewhat much like wax except for the apparent red and blue veins under its skin. Its body was hairless but the top of its head, its arms, hands, legs and feet looked like burned skin.
Whatever it was, Watanuki just knew that it was set out to intentionally hurt him, that he was specifically being targeted, and not some unlucky civilian chosen at random.
Watanuki shook, wishing desperately that Yuuko-san, Monoka, Himawari-chan, or even Doumeki was there. He had never remembered being so hopeless, so terrified in his life. Was he going to die like this, after years of fighting for others and finally fighting for himself?
It was only when the creature turned away from the doorway that Watanuki realized that something else was wrong. There was another scent in the air, and only then did Watanuki recognize the smell of smoke.
Something was burning!
The creature looked back at him, grinning maliciously, and walked way. Watanuki knew then that he had no more choices. He forced himself to stand before reaching up to take the ward above him.
And then, as if he had regained some of his senses, he frantically went around his room to take down the others. The worried spirits outside his room started filtering in. Watanuki knew that if his apartment was on fire, the wards were certainly not going to protect him. There was also the fact that once the fire would reach his room, he would die from smoke inhalation, or his wards would be burned and the creature could come back for him.
The last ward that Watanuki took down was the one above the doorway and he stood there for a moment, the smell of smoke, and the intense heat stopping him in his track. Gripping the old slips of paper in his left hand and hoping that they would not get burned and still grant him some sort of protection against the vile creature, he finally took one step outside his room.
The white forms flocked around him instantly, as if to hold him back. Watanuki only shook his head and took another step. It was then that he saw the flames coming out his kitchen, almost licking the lobby. The creature was standing beside the bathroom, at the other end of the hallway, smirking cruelly even if he could not approach Watanuki.
Watanuki held onto the wards tighter, his resolve to escape firmer.
With renewed courage, he turned to face the entity and he glared at it defiantly as he slowly backed away towards the front door. It was when he felt the intense on his back and the roaring in his ears that he turned his head and realized that the flames had danced out of the kitchen and had reached the front door, and a part of the hallway, blocking him from his only safe exit. A few more steps and he would have probably burned himself.
The white orbs swarmed in front of the bedroom door, into the hallway, as if to create some sort of barrier between him and the creature.
Watanuki looked around frantically trying to find some other way out. He knew he was in extreme danger.
The smirk on the creature's face only widened, a hiss escaping its non-existent lips. It reached its right hand out and its yellowish and darkening jagged fingernails trailed across the wall, leaving scratches.
Barely a moment later, a section of the wall lighted on fire.
Watanuki just knew then that he was going to die.
He couldn't die.
He couldn't just die so easily after years of struggling.
There were still so many things he had to learn from Yuuko-san, so many things he wanted to hear from Himawari-chan and Dandelion, so many things he wanted to beat into Mokona, so many things he wanted to do with his kudakitsune, still so many good creatures he had yet to meet or meet again…
And there were so many things that he had to tell, show, share to and with Doumeki, he thought.
So many things... Shizuka.
Watanuki's hands started trembling in rage and despair, the wards in his hands completely ruined.
The white spirits hovered around more quickly, fearing for his life.
Shizuka's bow… Shizuka's mere presence had always been enough to alleviate his fears, although he had never wanted to admit it before, not even to himself. But now, now…
Watanuki crumpled to the floor, powerless.
There was more and more smoke in the air, and added with the scent from the creature, Watanuki felt weaker and weaker by the second. He was losing consciousness, and quickly. He tried staying awake, but this was a fight he knew he was quickly losing.
There was a loud crack behind him, and it startled Watanuki, bringing him back some senses to him. He struggled to turn around and somehow, in the back of his fogged mind, he felt relief trickling through him before even seeing whatever was going on.
He just knew.
There was angry shouting and worried yelling and more wood being broken and through his ashes-covered glasses, Watanuki could make out some human forms and one of them coming through his broken door, much closer to him than the others.
Watanuki's sight in his right eye blacked out for a fraction of a second. When it came back, he saw only the floor and smoke on his left but on his right side he saw flames surrounding him and, through the smoke, a prone figure on the floor. He then saw a bow and an arrow raised in front of him. His vision blacked out again and went back to normal.
Watanuki felt something zip over his head, through the fire and smoke and straight to the dark entity's chest. There was a shriek, one that froze the blood in Watanuki's vein and that he would never be able to forget. It had been angry, full of rage, and wild.
Before he could think more about it, firm hands were quickly but carefully flipping him over. Strong arms then wrapped around his shoulders and under his legs as he felt himself being hurriedly lifted.
Watanuki instinctively wrapped his arms around a familiar warm neck, his whole body still shaking.
There was another short moment of intense heat, and suddenly he could breathe a little better, the weight on his body suddenly disappearing. He opened his eyes, his sight blurry but at least he was completely lucid again.
There were more shouting and Watanuki vaguely saw the form of firemen running into his apartment to help out others, he realized, that had come in by smashing his windows while he was being carried out. There were a few that remained in the hall to keep his worried neighbors (the entire floor, practically) from gathering too close to him or the apartment. He noticed that Yuuko-san and Himawari-chan were crouching beside him, and Mokona, Mugetsu and Dandelion on their shoulders, and all the white spirits hovering above him. One of the firemen was making sure he was fine while gently scowling at Doumeki for rushing recklessly into the fire.
Watanuki buried his face into soft fabric that smelt faintly like smoke but underneath it was a distinct and familiar smell that reassured him that he was no longer in danger. He was still trembling and suddenly tears started flowing down his cheeks.
Watanuki clutched the broad shoulders and quietly cried his whole soul out, sobbing Shizuka's name over and over again; he was finally releasing all the intense emotions he had went through in less than thirty minutes. He could feel all the worried eyes of his neighbors on him but he did not care.
He could hear a heartbeat slowly steadying down to a regular rhythm, and Watanuki closed his tired eyes, irritated by smoke and tears, and let that heartbeat gently lull him to sleep.
When Watanuki later woke up feeling safe and warm, he found himself staring at a familiar ceiling. There was large hand hovering above his face, and then gently touching him, palm cool and comforting against his forehead.
Watanuki found himself staring into gold orbs. He smiled faintly at the hand's owner and let out a soft sigh. He weakly reached up and grasped Doumeki's forearm. The corner of Doumeki's lips only curved up slightly as a response and his hand stayed where it was.
Watanuki felt his heart flutter.
It would be later in the day that Watanuki found out by Yuuko-san, Himawari-chan and Mokona, while Doumeki went to prepare some tea, that Doumeki was the on that had insisted on keeping Watanuki at his house. He had been sleeping for two days and Doumeki had apparently been beside him all that time except for bathroom trips and quick showers.
Apparently Watanuki had been so terrified that his emotions had triggered something in Doumeki and the archer had been able to see what was going on while he grabbed his bows and arrows and rushed to Watanuki's place. He had met the witch somewhere along the way, while she had called Himawari-chan beforehand.
A moment later and Watanuki could have died from too much smoke inhalation, having been too weakened by the dark fumes produced by the creature's presence.
Watanuki's apartment was completely destroyed, obviously, save for his bedroom which was miraculously only slightly damaged. The walls were darkened by the soot from the smoke and the windows had been smashed by the firemen so that they could get in. The firemen had told the dimensional witch that most of his personal belongings were untouched and many of the stuffs in his living room were also still salvageable. They had been worried at first, but then surprisingly (and fortunately) the fire had been quick and easy to be put out. There was scratching and dents along the walls that they could not explain at first but Yuuko-san had been quick to erase that part from their minds.
Watanuki felt relief flooding through him. Many of his most valued possessions were in living room and bedroom, like his clothes and his bank booklet, and pictures and the few things he still had of his parents.
The building's owners had also told the woman that Watanuki could take his time to rest, find a new place to live and not worry about the rent. The couple intended to leave his things there until he was ready to get them and move out for a while. They would then call in a team to fix up the apartment so that he could later move back in. Most of the neighbors had even pitched in a bit of money to help out.
Watanuki knew that he wouldn't be able to return live there.
His employer didn't say it, but Watanuki knew that if Doumeki hadn't banished the dark entity the fire would have probably been unstoppable and might have reached out to the other apartments, also putting his neighbors in danger. Yuuko-san also did not tell him what that creature was, but Watanuki did not ask either. What she did tell him, though, was that all of his little friends were currently flying around outside the temple, waiting for some news form their 'little master'. Watanuki smiled back at her.
The shoji door slid open and Watanuki's eyes lit up when he saw Doumeki walk into the room, easily balancing a tray with a tea set on one hand and some rice crackers and a bowl of hot miso soup in the other.
Yuuko-san and Himawari-chan chose that moment to leave and bid them goodbye, with the younger one cheerfully promising that she would come by the next day with their school assignments. Mokona and Dandelion were heard gaily singing (or whistling) as they left with their mistresses.
Mugetsu had opted instead to stay with Watanuki but not wanting to bother his young master he instead settled on wrapping himself around Doumeki's neck and occasionally, whenever Doumeki leaned down, he would nuzzle Watanuki's cheek.
Watanuki stayed in bed all day, obediently being taken care of by Doumeki, and it was only when it was late evening that he realized that he was staying in Doumeki's own room. There were dark lines under Doumeki's eyes and weariness and fatigue were apparent in those amber orbs.
Before Doumeki left to take a shower, Watanuki had just gone back to bed (Doumeki had forced him to) from a nice, warm one himself. The archer had lent him some clothes that were obviously all much too large for him, but Watanuki only blushed as he burrowed himself underneath the futon's covers right after Doumeki had dried his hair for him.
Everything smelled of Doumeki, Watanuki thought. He snuggled himself deeper into the futon and inhaled the familiar scent mingling with his. He had been so scared of not being able to see Doumeki again.
When Doumeki came back into his bedroom not much after, Watanuki peeked over the blanket and his heart leapt for the nth time of the day. The taller boy was shirtless, with a towel draped over his large shoulders and his dark unruly hair still wet as he opened his drawer to look for a t-shirt. Fishing one out, he took the towel off.
Watanuki suddenly sat up straight and stared at one of Doumeki's bare shoulder.
A burnt mark.
Reality suddenly hit Watanuki once again.
Doumeki could have died in that fire with him.
Doumeki tensed, as if just knowing Watanuki's train of thoughts, and turned around. It was obvious on Doumeki's face that he hadn't intended for Watanuki to see it.
Watanuki felt warm tears flowing down his cheeks again, before strong arms slipped around him and pulled him to a warm chest. Any shyness he felt was long forgetting as he wrapped his own arms around Doumeki's neck.
They stayed like that for long time, the pipe fox wisely slithering out of the room and on the other side of the shoji door to leave them alone. Doumeki's arms tightened around Watanuki and occasionally he would press soft kisses to his friend's ruffled soft hair. Watanuki could only respond by pressing closer to the warm skin, as if to reassure himself that Doumeki was really there and alive and all his.
Doumeki slid under the blanket and carefully lied down with Watanuki perfectly fitting into his arms. The tremors in his light body slowly disappeared, Doumeki's heartbeat to his right ear once again calming him down.
After a while, the archer pressed a soft kiss on his forehead and Watanuki hesitantly raised his head from the naked chest, finding Doumeki's eyes boring into his.
There was no hesitation when Watanuki pressed his lips to the archer's.
And there were no fireworks.
But there was warmth flowing throughout his body and Watanuki felt Doumeki's lips against his curling into a gentle smile.
There was no confession, no wait for an answer, no confirmation. There was just… that.
The innate knowledge that Doumeki had accepted him.
The sudden realization that Shizuka had just been waiting all this time for him to finally open himself to the archer.
Watanuki spent the night with Doumeki in his futon, nestled into his arms and lulled to sleep by Doumeki's warm breath on his cheek. Anything else could wait.
Kimihiro smiled. Though he still shuddered whenever he thought back at what had happened in his old apartment, the feeling would instantly evaporate whenever he felt Shizuka's presence nearby.
It had been almost a year now since Kimihiro had moved into Shizuka's to live with him. The archer's family had more than insisted he stayed with them after having heard the "short" story of why he was temporarily homeless.
The owners and other tenants of his old home had been quite disappointed when they found out that Kimihiro had chosen not to return. On the day he moved out they showered him with gifts and told him that although they had always found him to be quite a bit of an odd boy, they still all cared for him deeply.
It hadn't taken long for Kimihiro and Shizuka to realize that the older Doumekis (the parents and grandmother, Haruka's wife) just seemed to know everything that had went on, always exchanging knowing smiles between themselves. On occasions Kimihiro had even witnessed his boyfriend's grandmother conversing with the white forms that had chosen to remain on the temple's grounds and the surroundings to stay close to him.
When Shizuka's mother said after an excellent supper (as always) that "Kimi-chan, we are so lucky to have you in our family!" and giggled like a teenage girl, Kimihiro turned bright red, her insinuations quite evident when she winked at him.
"You made a wise choice. I reckon my husband would have approved," Shizuka's grandmother also supplied, adding to Kimihiro's mortification.
The father, luckily, only chuckled.
Chuckled his approval, that is.
Shizuka only bowed his head slightly, thanked his family, and fed a bite of cheesecake to mugetsu resting on his shoulder.
Of course Haruka-san just had to show up in their dream that night to give them his blessing.
And Yuuko-san and Himawari-chan had also chosen the exact next day to express their delight at this supposedly hidden relationship.
Kimihiro reddened at that memory and hurriedly shoved his books into his bag.
"Oi. Why are you blushing?"
Turning around to look at his lover, Kimihiro smiled sheepishly and stood up, walking over to Shizuka to drop a light peck on his lips.
"Remembering the first time I realized that I needed you," he whispered.
"You were almost killed," Shizuka frowned.
"But you came."
The archer nodded, grasping Kimihiro's free hand before gently pulling him out of their bedroom.
"Come on, or we'll be late for school."
"Yeah, let's go."
"Don't call me that."
"What's for lunch today?"
"You should know, you idiot!"
January 20, 2007
Author's notes: sighs in relief
I do believe this is the longest oneshot I have ever written… Didn't think I would take almost nine pages straight in Word. 3827 words! I'm think I'm gonna faint now. Fic done at 7h55PM and I think my stomach is calling for some food.
Anyway, tell me what you think! I wanted this fic to have no dialogue at all, no more than a few pages and with angst, and fluff. The initial plot is here, but it looks like I fleshed it out quite a lot more than expected while I was writing it. I also just had to add some dialogue after that, because it just worked right. I apologize if the shift in tone seemed abrupt, but it seemed unavoidable to me.
editJan21: Lots of corrections and small additions done. Whew. I never knew I could write horror.