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Whether it's just routine or the small aching in my stomach that leads me to Doumeki's temple before school is a mystery but I find myself passing it. Before I realize what I've done it's too late, he's seen me and I walk away, curses filling up my head. Why can't I just ignore him? Ignore him for once. He drops his broom and I hear urgent footsteps following me, calling to me to stop. I don't listen but grind my teeth and walk on, even though it's clumsy work and needs time getting used to with one eye. But who cares? It's only me, right? At least his eye's fine again. The guilt has dissolved.
It's infuriating how, for once, I would appreciate his usual stoic, uninterested manner, that attitude of his that drives me up the wall. Only now I am confronted with the exact reaction I don't want. I don't want his pity. I don't want his concern. I just want to be left alone, treated as always. Nothing has changed…at least not for him.
"Hey!" Bastard. But I don't feel like arguing, only the usual reply seems to come out on its own. Even though so much seems to have changed in the last few hours since it all happened, some things don't seem to, no matter what. I'm confused on what to think of it, whether it's comforting or plain maddening but somehow it's not important.
"Hey! Wait up!" There it is again. Hey, hey, always HEY! Hell, why can't he just leave-me-alone?! I'm sick of that word.I'm sick of him following me. I want to turn to him and scream, yell, tear out my hair but something holds me back. It's fear. Fear of being found out. Something in my head whispers to me that he knows anyway, he knows what I've done and he wants to thank me but that's not what I'm after. I don't want to be thanked for something that was my fault from the start, something I righted. It's not even worth talking about…I hate being dependant, I hate feeling responsible if he can't do his damn archery 'cause he had to run to save me and get away with an injury reserved for me. It's happened before. And this time, bentou wouldn't help me out, it wouldn't have distinguished that sickly feeling in my chest every time he looks at me, his eyes neutral with not an ounce of regret. As I walk, I tell myself I can live well without both eyes, one is enough after all. And with what I see through them each day, the less I can use them the better. He needs his eye sight for archery. He's normal.
"My eye's better. That web-looking thing is gone."
"…Really?" I reply back, dryly, my voice deprived of emotion, deprived of anger. But somewhere deep down, I'm relieved. All I want now is to be left alone. But Doumeki won't give in. He tries to catch up with me, stop me from walking but I only quicken my pace, hoping to reach school soon to be rid of him. There's no one around, no distraction, nothing to save me. I don't want him to see. I know he will sooner or later but the longer I have till then the better.
A strong grip tightens around my left arm and I instinctively look away as he tugs at me, turning me to face him. My hair falls over the bandage but he's seen it and I watch his face turn paler, mouth slightly open in shock. I've never seen him like this before. I turn my back to him, shielding my right side from his gaze, a boring gaze, one that almost scorches me and try to get away.
His eyes never leave the bandage around my head, his eyes wide. "What's that for?" My chest tightens and I keep looking away, suddenly embarrassed as I hear the terror, the foreboding in his normally composed voice. I come up with a stupid excuse, the first that appears in my mind, even though I know I can't lie. Doumeki's not that stupid. But I can't do otherwise. I want him to stop gazing at me and feel my hands turn cold and clammy. I don't want pity. Please…just swallow it and turn back to normal. Call me an idiot. I don't care. Just, please…
"What did you do?" The lie didn't work. It was obvious that it wouldn't but now I try anything I can to prevent the truth from unfolding, even thought he process has already began. I play stupid; ask him what he means but his face remains stern, losing his patience with me for the first time. His voice suddenly rises, sharp and commanding and his hand takes hold of my arm once more, only fiercer and before I know it he's grabbed me, pushed me against the wall. Filled with panic, I struggle, shielding my face but he's stronger than me. His free hand coils through my defense and wrenches my glasses off, throwing them to the ground to join my briefcase.
"STOP THAT!" I shout out, flail every limb I can move but it's too late. His fingers have found the bandage and pull it off. Time seems to stand still as I feel his hand releasing me from the wall, my hair remaining loyally draped over my eye. What used to be my eye…
Suddenly, nothing seems to matter anymore, my shame is dissolved and I look up, my hair parting to reveal the pale, blank eye looking out of my face. The eye I now spend everyday day trying to avoid seeing in my reflection. The eye that's no longer mine.
Even with one sided vision, it isn't hard to read Doumeki's face. For once, that bare visage is contorted with emotion, with horror. It's so abnormal I'm almost forced to look away. But I glare back at him, determined. Not ashamed. Not anymore.
"Did you-…?" His voice is barely a whisper and heavy, burdened with shock. I feel insulted. For once, I've done something right for the idiot. The idiot that always has to hold out his neck for me and expect nothing for it, the one I'd rather do nothing for but always end up doing after all. But I'm not used to gratitude, especially not from Doumeki. Not in a normal fashion, anyway. Finally, the gaze is broken and I realize I've just now continued to breathe but my face is fixed in a permanent scowl. I don't want him to see any remorse. I want him to see I meant it and nothing he could have said would have stopped me.
"Call her here." Caught unawares, I blink; his reaction unclear to me. Call who?
"I can't go into her shop, so you call her here now!" His voice turns harsh once more as he turns back to me, something close to disgust or disappointment in his eyes as he scans my face, focuses on my eyes. He can forget it. It's done. It's over. And I'm not taking it back…no matter what he does. Somewhere deep down, I feel betrayed but I shake it off, knowing what I did was just. The dept is paid, everything's balanced out. Even Yuuko-san can't do anything to reverse it.
"I've got school pretty soon." I reply, annoyed, but keeping my voice leveled, calm, composed. "Why should I have to-" My excuses are cut short by Doumeki's fist slamming near my shoulder, his face only inches from my own and for the first time, I see fury painted on his features.
I don't answer but merely stare back. For once, I feel no need to scream.
This was inspired by a great oneshot by VinVal I read recently. I just felt an urge to write in a different tense for once, even though I always thought I prefered third tense to anything else. So all in all this has been an enjoyable experience. Primarily also because this extract happens to be my favourite scene in XXXH. Hope you liked it and do review. Please?