Realization and Relief
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:Doumeki had paused and blinked, wondered where his train of thoughts was taking him, why he felt relieved. (oneshot - companion/slightly prequel-ish to Realization)
Doumeki could still remember the most terrifying day of his life. The most terrifying night of his life.
And he hadn't been fearing for his own life at all.
Or maybe he had.
Doumeki had just never been made so abruptly and painfully aware at how powerless he could really be, at how much and how easily he could lose in the blink of an eye.
Halfway into high school, Doumeki had found himself somehow strangely relieved at the dim realization that Watanuki was treating him more and more like a permanent fixture in his life.
Which meant that the bespectacled boy was slowly and unconsciously, or maybe grudgingly, accepting that Doumeki was just present and tolerable and there.
Doumeki had paused and blinked, wondered where his train of thoughts was taking him, why he felt relieved.
Then he shrugged and resumed his walk, Watanuki looking on confusedly before yelling at the archer for being creepy and weird and whatthehellsomeonecould'verunintoyou! and then stomped after him when the taller boy showed no signs of acknowledgment.
Doumeki also realized that Watanuki had stopped complaining about them walking together a while ago.
A thin eyebrow arched.
Moments later and Doumeki had already pushed those thoughts out his mind the moment he had dropped Watanuki at that woman's shop.
The witch gave him a sly grin, half-lidded amused red-brownish globes looking at him through dark lashes.
Doumeki stared back impassively, arms crossed over his chest and schoolbag dangling from his right hand.
The corners of the woman's thin red lips curled up further and the expression on her face went from slyness and concealed amusement to downright girlish glee as she turned around, a hand and fingers flicking and twirling around as she hummed.
Doumeki watched her walk back to her shop, throwing another amused look over her shoulder at him before disappearing inside.
Doumeki turned to walk home.
It was only once he had reached the temple's ground that he had forgot to tell Watanuki what he wanted for lunch the next day.
Oh well, he shrugged, he hadn't thought of anything yet anyway.
The next morning Watanuki had shoved a bundle slightly heavier than usual in his free hand after Doumeki had bumped into the thinner boy in front of the temple.
It wasn't as if Doumeki had memorized the exact time Watanuki walked by each morning. It was just a coincidence, really, that they always happened to show up at the same time.
Doumeki always tried not to think over the fact that the psychic's regular path to school was initially not by the temple.
At noon, when Watanuki unwrapped their lunches, the archer noticed that there was an extra bento, although smaller than the other two.
He gave the boy a pointed look.
Watanuki glared and in lieu of an answer said that Himawari-chan couldn't make it for lunch and handed Doumeki a bento and chopsticks.
When Doumeki was done (and had snatched a few shrimp tempura of Watanuki's while the boy yelled, glowered and almost poked his eyes out), Watanuki pushed – almost shoved – the third box against his leg.
The archer blinked at the blue form before looking up at Watanuki, golden orbs inquisitive.
Watanuki snapped yousaidyouwantedtoeatsomelastweekyouyouyouBASTARD! and went back to his own unfinished lunch, stabbing a pork dumpling with his chopsticks.
Doumeki opened the plastic box.
And found himself staring at three neat rows of pastry puffs, filled with either custard, soft bitter sweet chocolate or what look like the traditional choux à la crème filling, though the three latter reminded him very much of the taste of cheesecake more than those store bought. The texture was the same, the taste better.
Cheesecake was Doumeki's favorite dessert.
He also hadn't even remembered having mentioning craving cream puffs last week.
Doumeki said nothing and finished off the last of them, completely satisfied.
It had nothing to do with Watanuki actually remembering, really.
That afternoon when Doumeki left Watanuki at the witch's shop, the woman gave him a leveled stare and something flickered in those ruby orbs before she turned around and followed her employee into her store.
Doumeki felt a faint strange, anxious stirring in his stomach as he watched the back of his schoolmate disappear into the shop.
The feeling refused to leave on as he walked home and for the rest of the evening.
He awoke with a start, amber orbs searching his surroundings, before Doumeki finally realized he was still in bedroom. The clock beside his futon read 3:07 AM and the archer rubbed the sweat off his forehead, his eyes squinting and brows furrowing.
Something wasn't right. Doumeki never had nightmares.
And suddenly in half of his vision Doumeki saw white forms floating and erratically bumping against a window, as if trying to get in.
His 'vision' then shifted over an unmade futon and to a, he supposed, bedroom doorway. A dark, crawling form appeared right outside of it.
Doumeki's grip tightened on his blanket.
The creature slowly stood up, human-like, waxy ashen skin with blue and red veins, some parts looking badly burnt. It small, beady yellow eyes glittered and it grinned.
Doumeki was already running out of the temple, bow slung over his shoulder and his sneaker-clad feet stomping the ground as he ran faster than he had ever ran in his entire life. Even with the half-half vision, Doumeki had no problem navigating his way around things and no difficulty finding his way to Watanuki.
It was as if he knew it by heart. Doumeki knew he could probably get there with his eyes closed.
It also helped when he noticed a few white shapes floating above him, as if trying to guide him. Doumeki recognized similar forms in his vision but did not question how he could see those with him.
He sprinted when he saw flames behind him and a wall across the hallway lighting on fire.
Doumeki's heart almost stopped.
He no longer questioned those 'moments' he sometimes had when he watched or thought of Watanuki.
Doumeki ran straight into that woman and Kunogi when he finally reached the apartment building. The three of them barely gave each other a glance as they all rushed their ways up the stairs, completely disregarding the elevator.
Doumeki soon took the lead with Mugetsu in his original form as they raced up to the fourth floor while Dandelion flew among the few white orbs, right behind the pair. The witch, Mokona and Kunogi were only a step behind.
The wooden floor came towards him in his right eye.
Doumeki's heart almost stopped again.
He slammed a heavy door labeled '4' open, horror filling him, as he instinctively turned right and sure enough, saw smoke coming out from underneath a closed door at the almost end of the hallway. Other doors opened, people looking tired but worried as they shuffled out of their own apartment.
They had been roused from their sleep by a loud, wailing sound.
A fire alarm, Doumeki dimly realized, and he sprinted past them, Mugetsu still following but invisible to the other tenants.
The vision in his right eye was getting blurry.
A neighbor had already reached the '410' door and twisted the knob a few times before realizing it was locked. She panicked and started banging on the door repeatedly, yelling Watanuki-kun, Watanuki-kun! and was joined by another man.
His right vision was fading.
Doumeki threw himself against the door, shoving others aside. He rammed the entire left side of his body repeatedly against the door, terrified and desperate and just- just-
Mugetsu, still invisible to ordinary onlookers, stopped him and clawed against the door two, three, four times and then suddenly the deep scratches (that looked like cracks on the wooden surface) appeared and Doumeki took it as a sign to ram another time into the door.
There was a loud crack and Doumeki finally saw the door starting to give way but it was still not enough.
The vision in his half-eye was almost black now.
What he could see, however, was the flames through some opened cracks of the door.
Doumeki rammed into the door again as Mugetsu kept clawing.
And then finally, finally, the door broke apart completely.
People were still shouting, for both their young neighbor and the firemen appearing in the hallway, quickly making their way toward the burning apartment.
The vision in Doumeki's eye returned to normal.
Horror filled his body again as he lunged through the broken door and straight into the fire. Smoke filled his vision and Doumeki unconsciously noticed that the flames seemed to part around him.
He searched the floor and spotted the seemingly lifeless body of Watanuki on the floor, halfway between him and the end of the–
Doumeki felt furry and rage coursing through his blood but showed no sign of anger as he coolly grasped his bow and an 'arrow' and raised them, aiming for the dark being through the smoke.
The grin on its face faded when Doumeki pulled back the string of his bow steadily, his golden eyes glinting dangerously.
The expression on the creature's face quickly turned into shock when the string was released, the 'arrow' freed from the archer rough fingers.
Doumeki flung his bow out the door and rushed towards Watanuki. A loud shriek resonated throughout the apartment, through the roaring of the flames.
Doumeki ignored it and bent down to turn Watanuki over gently and picking him up. Half-lidded mismatched eyes looked at him under ashes-covered lenses and Doumeki's heart turned when the boy in his arms gave him a weak, somewhat confused but relieved I knew you would come smile and shakily reached out and wrapped his own thin arms around the taller boy's neck.
The archer lifted him up, tightening his hold on the boy as he looked at the creature still screaming. Its face was now twisted in agony and despair and Doumeki could see the its entire body slowly burning and chunks of skin and whatever there was else falling off and turning into a pile of dark ashes.
Doumeki turned around and hurriedly but carefully made his way back until right when he reached the lobby and flames suddenly came out from the kitchen with a vengeance.
Doumeki gritted his teeth at the heat, doing his best to shield Watanuki when he felt multiple strong hands grabbing him and pulling/pushing him out of the apartment to safety.
Doumeki fell to his knees, Watanuki still in his arms. He refused to let go as a fireman tried checking their injuries while other either surrounded them and tried reassuring the neighbors or ran back into the apartment to stop the fire.
Doumeki felt the boy on his lap stir slightly as he looked up through glazed eyes and stared around. It wasn't until then that Doumeki realized that Kunogi and the witch were both crouched down before him, Mokona, Dandelion and pipefox-Mugetsu dangling over their shoulders. There was also a mass of white orbs hovering over their heads.
Shaky hands clutched at his shoulders and Doumeki looked back down to find Watanuki burying his face into the folds of his sweater, tears freely falling from beautiful mismatched eyed and rolling down smooth but soot covered cheeks.
A raspy voice, a mix between a whisper and a sob.
A faint tug to his heart.
Shi-Shizuka… Shizuka, Shizuka. Shizukashizukashizuka…
Shizuka held him closer.
It would take a few more hours and finally, somewhere between 6 and 7 o'clock, the time he usually woke up on, Doumeki finally left the hospital with Watanuki in his arms.
Both of them had been taken to the nearest hospital by precaution and were finally released a few hours later cleaned and bandaged for some minor injuries.
It wasn't until they got there that Doumeki realized how sore his body was, especially on his left side, and then the pain suddenly bloomed on his left shoulder. Only then did he notice the burn mark. It wasn't too severe, fortunately, the nurse told him as she treated it. Doumeki was prescribed a cream and painkillers, just in case, as he was told that though there would be a scar, it would heal quickly enough.
Doumeki knew he would have to be careful to hide it around Watanuki.
The bespectacled boy, although deemed in no danger, had been unconscious throughout the whole examination and the doctor had wanted to keep him under observation for a day or at least until he woke up.
Doumeki vehemently, or as vehemently as he could, refused.
"Doumeki-kun, I'm sure you under-"
"No," he flatly replied.
"Doumeki-kun, we need-"
"No," he crossed his arms.
"But we have to make su-"
In the end the Dimensional Witch had a talk with the doctor and somehow convinced him to release Watanuki.
So the release paper was signed and a cab was hailed.
Kunogi, living close to the hospital, walked home after she assured Doumeki that she would explain things to their teachers.
Or at least give them the… simple version of things. The girl had not seen or heard anything out of the ordinary but she clearly made it obvious that she knew something hadn't been right with that fire. A quiet "I'll come by tomorrow" later and Kunogi walked away, petting Dandelion on her shoulder.
The woman told Doumeki she would return to Watanuki's apartment to take care of his things and saw the two boys off.
Doumeki found out the tab had been taken for when they reached the temple.
The driver opened him the door and Doumeki carried Watanuki out. He gave a small nod of acknowledgment to the round-faced, smiling man who gave back a small bow before getting back into his cab and driving off. Doumeki noticed that the license plate read 'EST PRI' and that the cab was becoming strangely fuzzy.
The cab had disappeared.
Doumeki shrugged and turned back to the temple…
Only to find his parents and grandmother standing there staring at him.
His family had asked no question as Doumeki watched over Watanuki for the two following days.
The archer never left his room except for bathroom trips and quick showers.
"You don't actually want him waking up and the first thing hitting him to be your smell, do you?", his mother had scolded, carrying a basin of warm water and a few small towels into his room and placing them beside Watanuki.
And then shoved her son out of his bedroom. Doumeki had turned around only to get a mouthful of clean clothes and a towel, which almost sent him flying to the floor.
For such a small woman, his mother could sure throw.
And said mother had slid the shoji door close.
Doumeki stalked off to the bathroom.
The next day he almost obediently went to take a quick shower when his mother appeared again at his bedroom door with the necessities to wipe Watanuki clean.
The older Doumeki giggled as he walked by.
The archer paused and gave her a pointed look.
Of course, his mother only smiled innocently and threw him a now don't be jealous, I do have some respect for Watanuki-kun's intimacy as she shoved him out.
Doumeki stared a moment longer, then turned around and… stalked to the bathroom.
The third morning Doumeki rubbed his tired eyes and chewed on the buttered toast his grandmother had left him a few minutes before. He dropped half of it back on the plate and pushed it aside as he scooted close to the sleeping figure in his futon.
A few hours later Doumeki reached a hand out, intent on smoothing Watanuki's ruffled soft black hair back. What he didn't intent on, however, was a pair of mismatched hazy eyes fluttering open.
Doumeki felt his own heart flutter.
He paused for a second before gently resting his palm against the boy's pale, soft, smooth, warm forehead, waiting for a reaction.
Watanuki, eyes tired but clear, smiled weakly, his own hand reaching up to grasp Doumeki's forearm and lightly squeezing it.
Strangely, Doumeki felt relief spreading throughout his body.
He couldn't resist smiling back.
That early afternoon, after the witch, Kunogi and their… pets' visit, Doumeki almost force fed into Watanuki a bowl of warm miso soup.
Watanuki had protested at first and tried prying the spoon from Doumeki's long fingers. The pipefox, loosely wrapped around Doumeki's neck, silently nudged at his master hand as if agreeing with the taller boy. The tug-o-war was mostly one-sided, Doumeki barely moving at all, but the psychic still refused to let go.
The archer relented, released the spoon and watched as Watanuki instantly dropped it. A thin eyebrow arched as he watched the thinner boy fumbling to grasp it. When Watanuki finally succeeded in getting a hold on it, his slim fingers trembled all along.
Then Watanuki tried reaching for the bowl and pick it up, but immediately gave up that idea once he realized how little control he had when the spoon slipped out of his hand
Doumeki crossed his arms and his eyebrow rose higher.
Watanuki flushed and opened his mouth. Instinctively, Doumeki's fingers rose by themselves to his ears.
And dropped when he saw Watanuki closing his mouth and looking down.
The archer picked up the bowl and the spoon and tried feeding the other boy again.
Watanuki didn't resist that time.
Doumeki grinned, relief trickling through him again.
Mugetsu stretched and landed an affectionate kiss on his master's cheek.
Later that evening, after a cup of tea and slices of apple, Watanuki had regained enough energy for Doumeki to deem him able to take a bath. What he had not regained enough, however, was the strength in his legs and his balance.
So when Doumeki's mother came to tell him that the water was ready, Watanuki desperately stumbled his way out of the archer's bedroom until the latter, glaring at his giggling mother, strode up behind the weak boy and quickly dragged him to the bathroom, shoved him in and slid the door close.
And when Watanuki was done some moments later, Doumeki was standing right outside the bathroom waiting. His lips curled in amusement when Watanuki walked straight into him and squawked in his chest.
He squeaked less than a minute later when Doumeki sat him down on the futon and dried his hair.
Doumeki smiled yet again at the soft blush appearing on the other youth as he rubbed the towel into the fine dark hair.
Watanuki was wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt of the archer and while the sweatpants were rather loose, the string at the waist could be tightened so there was no problem there. The cotton t-shirt, on the other hand, was obviously much too large on his thin frame.
Doumeki found himself staring at his schoolmate's pale throat and at his exposed collarbones and at-
Doumeki rubbed the towel into Watanuki's hair a few more time and then left to take a shower.
When Doumeki came back he found Watanuki curled up in his futon, face content and snuggling against the blanket, his cheeks still tinted pink.
Doumeki paused, shrugged, and then strode over to open drawer and pull out t-shirt. He suddenly felt a gaze on his back as he took off his towel and-
-tensed, turned around and met Watanuki's watering eyes.
Doumeki quickly strode over and kneeled before the trembling boy, his arms instinctively wrapping around the light frame and pulled him close. Watanuki responded by wrapping his arms around Doumeki's neck, letting tears slipping past his closed eyelids again.
The kudakitsune slithered up his master's back and nuzzled a soft cheek before sliding across to Doumeki and down his own back. He then slipped out of the room, and Doumeki saw the small shadow curl up and rest on the other side of the partially open shoji door.
The archer tightened his embrace around the crying boy and found himself pressing soft kisses into soft hair. Watanuki pressed his nose into the warm crook of Doumeki's neck, as if trying to burrow deeper into the archer's embrace.
Doumeki pulled Watanuki along with him as he lied down in his futon, shifting slightly and finding that somehow they fit each perfectly. Watanuki's trembling body was molded into his, a smooth, warm cheek pressed against his naked chest.
Doumeki's heart leapt.
He dropped a soft kiss on Watanuki's forehead.
Watanuki slowly raised his head, blue and golden eyes staring into his.
Doumeki's skipped another beat as he stared back, his own golden eyes calm and almost expressionless.
Their lips met.
And relief flooded through him.
Doumeki couldn't stop his lips from curling up into the soft, chaste kiss.
He had been unconsciously waiting all this time for this and finally, finally, Watanuki, Kimihiro had given him an answer.
It was quiet and calm and peaceful and it was all that Shizuka needed and it was perfect.
He held Kimihiro closer and let his eyes fall close. Shizuka let sleep take him over for the first time in days.
It had almost been a year since then and Shizuka still felt the anger and fear coursing through whenever the image of Kimihiro lying lifeless on the floor and surrounded by fire came back to haunt him occasionally.
Luckily, a quick glance and hearing Kihimiro stumbling into the kitchen was enough to dispel any anxiety the archer could have.
Almost a year and while his family had never questioned him, Shizuka had found them to be very… knowledgeable of their situation. His mother was always giggling like schoolgirl, his father was always blinking and winking and nudging him.
Shizuka, for the most part, only stared at them coolly at first and before long ignored them completely. His grandmother, on the other hand, was much less obvious. Instead, Shizuka had spotted her on numerous occasions trudging around on temple ground and chatting away amiably with a couple of white forms. He could never hear what they said but then again, he wasn't sure if he wanted too either.
So whiled she trudged on temple grounds with the friendly spirits, he trudged off to school with a yelling Kimihiro.
And then one evening his mother had to decide to announce that they were just so lucky that Kimi-chan was part of the family. His grandmother had to voice her approval. And his father chuckled.
Kimihiro turned redder than a tomato and squirmed in his seat and the whole table turned to look at Shizuka.
Shizuka looked up, bowed his head slightly, blandly thanked them and gave a cheerful Mugetsu a bite of cheesecake.
Approval? For what?
Kimihiro kicked him underneath the table.
Shizuka blinked at him.
And resumed eating the delicious cheesecake his boyfriend had made.
Of course that same night Shizuka and Kimihiro somehow found themselves in the same dream. Shizuka's grandfather appeared and for a moment it was if looking at his own reflection until one face broke into a wide grin.
Shizuka was later woken up by a fist on his arm, courtesy of Kimihiro who was shrieking something about "having not respect for others! Especially when it's your own grandfather! What is wrong with you? Actually, what is wrong with your entire family? How the HELL did they know!"
Shizuka pulled him down and effectively shut the other boy up with his tongue before falling back to sleep.
The day after Kunogi and the witch showed up to squeal and fuss over them.
And that night Shizuka just had to find himself in another dream, only this time with two people that definitively looked familiar but that were also definitively not known to him. They were wearing matching rings around their ring fingers, he noted.
The one reason Shizuka had realized that it was a dream was that there was not a single sound around him, even though things were obviously happening, like the simmering pot on the stove and the water boiling in a kettle beside it.
He had found himself sitting in a kitchen, warm and cozy and just-
Shizuka could picture Kimihiro in such a place.
The corners of his lips curled up slightly.
The two figures before him, as if they knew what he was thinking, grinned and their smiles reached their bright blue and green eyes.
Shizuka instantly recognized the young couple, though they have never met.
The couple only nodded and the man, black hair smooth but slightly mussed, reached out a cool hand and grasped Shizuka's hand, opening it. The woman, long hair brown and curly, then reached out placed something in his hand before folding his fingers close over it. She and her husband grasped his hand, giving them a light squeeze before letting go.
Shizuka gave a small nod, though still unaware of what he was holding and as if sensing his uncertainty, their eyes softened.
And that was when Shizuka woke up, Kimihiro's soft hair tickling his nose.
Shizuka opened his left hand, the one that wasn't wrapped around Kimihiro's back, and stared at it in the light of the rising sun.
Shizuka realized their rings were gone when they had grasped his hand.
Father's hair and mother's eyes, huh? Always wondered who he took from.
Shizuka opened his amber eyes in the early light, squinting and looking around before noticing the green numbers not far away. 5:30 and he stifled a yawn, eyes slipping partially close again as he remembered. The rings had been safely tucked away in a small blue box at the bottom of one of his drawers.
Shizuka smiled into Kimihiro's hair.
The form in his arms shifted and mismatched eyes slowly opened. His lover's lips shaped into a sleepy smile and he snuggled into Shizuka.
"Ummm. Hey," Kimihiro whispered, and after a moment slowly sitting up, "what time is it?"
Shizuka answered by jerking him back down, resulting in a squawking and flailing Kimihiro in his arms.
The latter landed face first on his boyfriend's chest.
"OW! You BASTARD! MY NOSE!"
"It hurts! DammititbetternotbebrokenDoumekiShizuka! Whatiswr-"
Shizuka quickly gently pressed against a calloused finger to a soft, pouting bottom lip, effectively silencing the other boy for a second as he dropped a small peck on the abused nose.
And sighed as he draped himself over the archer, nose gingerly nuzzling his throat.
It would take a few more years, Shizuka thought, but he was willing to wait.
January 28, 2007
Author's notes: 3h40 AM. DONE.
4h30 PM: Something more lucid now, lmao. I had already thought of writing a companion in Doumeki's POV once I was done with Realization and so when someone else also suggested it, I knew I'd have to try. :) Then I started writing the first few pages, I thought maybe I should just keep it a prequel of sort, almost abandonning my initial idea. But then I kept writing... and writing... and writing... and well, hehe, ended up with an even longer fic than the first one. So there you have it.
R&R starts earlier, obviously, but also 'ends' earlier. :D