Disclaimer: The wonderful entity known as CLAMP created xxxHolic and its characters, and I don't think they'll be handing them over to me any time soon.
Warnings: Eventual Doumeki/Watanuki
Author's Note: This was done in response to a challenge from the Doumeki/Watanuki live journal community (late, I know, still not finished, and not the only response, but better than nothing).
There was a note in his shoe locker.
Watanuki blinked, then blinked again. He was tempted to rub his eyes behind his glasses. Despite his blinking, the piece of paper still lay there innocently, trying to pretend that it was not the most astonishing thing he had seen all day. Nobody left him notes. Ever. He had only a few classmates who would associate with him, and even fewer friends. There were occasionally witnesses who reported Watanuki struggling with air, rolling around and writhing on the ground, or shouting at things no one else could see. These reports had led to the commonly held belief that Watanuki Kimihiro was more than a little crazy, and crazy people were not, as a general rule, popular.
And yet, there was a slip of paper with writing on it lying in his shoe locker, and no amount of blinking seemed to make it disappear.
A joyful thought occurred to Watanuki. The note might be from Himawari-chan! Of course, it must be her; the other girls would barely give him the time of day. Sweet, cute, wonderful Himawari-chan! Maybe she wanted to ask him to meet her somewhere, somewhere quiet and secluded where she could confess her feelings. He could picture her now, waiting under one of the trees near the edge of campus, and when he came, she would look up and smile shyly, and...
"Ah, Himawari-chan!" Watanuki cried, overcome by this vision.
That voice had the power to bring Watanuki's daydreams to a screeching, grinding halt. "My name is not 'Oi'!" he growled.
Doumeki ignored him as usual. "Are you planning to go sometime this afternoon?" he asked.
"I don't remember asking you to walk to work with me!" Watanuki hissed. "Besides, I haven't read my note from Himawari-chan yet."
"Note?" Doumeki asked, one eyebrow raised. "Why would Kunogi leave you a note when she sees you all the time?"
"Maybe she was just too shy to say it in person," Watanuki said, blushing happily at the thought, Doumeki's attempt at logical thinking completely drowned out in his head by the vision of loveliness that was Himawari-chan.
Doumeki frowned, then, observing that Watanuki had no note in his hand, he peered into Watanuki's shoe locker, reaching in and drawing out the mysterious slip of paper. Watanuki quickly snatched it from him. "Himawari-chan wrote it to me, not you, and I am going to read it!"
He prepared to open the note, but paused at the look on Doumeki's face. To Watanuki, it almost seemed as though Doumeki looked a the paper as one might look at a venomous snake, a look of fearful loathing mixed with a desire to destroy. For a moment, Watanuki wondered if Doumeki was truly jealous of him for securing Himawari-chan's regard. Then the look was gone, and Watanuki was sure he must have imagined it. Doumeki, show emotion? That would be the day.
When Watanuki finally opened the note, however, he was surprised to find that not only was it not from Himawari-chan (the handwriting didn't look a bit like hers, and he would know), but it didn't say who it was from.
"Dear Watanuki-san," the note began, "you probably think that I'm very silly, writing a letter to you instead of just telling you face to face. But the truth is that I'm shy, and I'm sure I'd lose my nerve if I tried to talk to you. So I had to write it instead of saying it. I like you. I think you're the most fascinating person I've ever come across. I know that ordinarily you'd never spend time with someone like me, but I hope that someday you'll reconsider.
Watanuki read the note, then read it again to make sure he wasn't imagining things. He was so caught up in his astonishment that it took him almost a full minute to realize that Doumeki was standing next to him and making no attempts at subtlety whatsoever as he read over Watanuki's shoulder.
"Do you mind?!" Watanuki sputtered, clutching the note protectively to his chest and leaping about a half a foot away from Doumeki once he realized what he was doing.
"Who's it from?" Doumeki asked.
The day Doumeki learned to use tact would be the day Yuuko gave up sake forever, Watanuki decided. And that day didn't seem to be approaching with any dispatch.
"I don't know!" Watanuki snapped. "It wasn't signed, as you should already know since you read it!"
"Most girls wouldn't write you love letters," Doumeki said flatly.
"You don't have to rub it in!" Watanuki snarled, fuming. Honestly, just because Doumeki was so popular without even trying to be, he didn't have to make fun of Watanuki's failure to attract girls.
"If there aren't many girls who would write you a note like that, then you should know who they are and have an idea who wrote the note," Doumeki said.
Watanuki wasn't sure how that logically followed, and he said so. "How should I know who it's from? What kind of logic is that? The note said she couldn't talk to me about it, so even if I've seen her before, I wouldn't know it was her! What, am I supposed to be some sort of mind reader on top of everything else?"
He continued to rant as he grabbed his bag, despite the fact that Doumeki had stuck his fingers in his ears. As they left the school grounds, however, he paused in his yelling to pull out the note and look over it again. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that he really didn't have the first clue who it came from. The thought that he could receive such a letter was both absurd and exhilarating. After all, it was nice to feel wanted and desired, even if he had no idea who wanted and desired him.
He was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he completely failed to notice Doumeki continually casting suspicion laden glances at the piece of paper still clutched in his hand.
By the time he reached Yuuko's shop, Watanuki had tucked the note safely out of sight in his pants pocket. He didn't especially want his employer to see it, since she would only tease him, and he wanted to hold on to the magical feeling of actually having an admirer for a little while longer before Yuuko went and popped his bubble. Of course, tucking things out of Yuuko's sight didn't necessarily mean that she didn't know about them anyway, as Watanuki had on many occasions discovered, but he still thought it worth the attempt.
He made it through the first gauntlet run all right. Yuuko was there to greet him at the door with her usual requests for sake, but she said nothing about the note. Watanuki quickly slipped away to get her requested drink with his usual amount of grumbling, pleased with himself for having escaped detection. Showing the note to Yuuko would be like declaring open season on himself as far as teasing went, and he silently vowed to keep the note a secret from her for as long as possible.
Once he started work, however, he found it difficult to concentrate. The note kept popping back into his head, and he found himself blushing at random intervals just thinking about it. Was it really possible that there was actually a girl at his school who liked him that much? The idea was both intriguing and flattering, and he found himself pausing in the middle of dusting to pull the note out of his pocket and look it over again.
"Watanuki, what is that?"
Watanuki dropped both his duster and the note as he jumped a foot in the air. Then he instantly chastised himself for being so startled; after all, it had only been a matter of time before Yuuko decided to insert herself into his affairs.
"No...nothing!" Watanuki said hastily, scrambling after the paper in a last ditch effort to save it from his employer's prying eyes. But of course, it was too late. Yuuko had already stooped to pick up the missive and was reading it over, one eyebrow delicately raised.
"Yuuko-san," Watanuki said, trying to sound as scolding as possible, "it's not polite to read other people's mail." First Doumeki, and now her. Really, what was it with people trying to invade his privacy?
He might as well have said nothing for all the attention she paid his words. Yuuko kept reading calmly, then raised her eyes to smirk at him. "Well, well, Watanuki, aren't you popular."
"Popular! Popular!" Maru and Moro sang in the background, and Watanuki felt himself blushing again.
"Sounds like Watanuki's got a girl after him!" Mokona chirped, and Watanuki realized that the creature had been sitting on Yuuko's shoulder the whole time, reading along with her. He blushed again, this time in anger.
"Oi! Haven't you people ever heard of the concept of privacy?" he snapped, making a wild dive for the note.
Yuuko simply held it above her head and watched in amusement as Watanuki flailed and jumped madly in an attempt to reach it. He was finally forced to give up and resign himself to grumbling while Yuuko retained possession of his letter. Damn that woman and her unnatural height.
"It's interesting," Yuuko remarked, "that she likes you so much and yet she doesn't bother to say who she is."
"She's shy," Watanuki replied, seeing nothing unusual in that.
"But it detracts from her confession," Yuuko said. "How much meaning do her words really have if she won't even attach a name or a face to them? If she had asked you to meet her so that she could talk to you, that would be different, wouldn't it?"
She lowered the note to look over it again, and Watanuki took the opportunity to snatch it away from her. "Don't be so hard on her, Yuuko-san," he said, tucking the note carefully back in his pocket. "Most girls aren't as bold as you are."
"The Zashiki Warashi was shy, and even she came to tell you face to face," Yuuko pointed out.
"Well, this girl obviously isn't the Zashiki Warashi either," Watanuki said. "Now, if you're done poking through my personal affairs and criticizing a girl you've never met, I'm going to get back to work."
"Fine, fine," Yuuko said, waving her hand lazily. "Just remember, Watanuki, that things aren't always as simple as they seem. Human lives are complicated things, especially yours."
Watanuki paused, duster raised in one hand, seized by a sudden suspicion. "Yuuko-san, you don't know something about who sent me that note, do you? It could have been from anyone."
"That's the problem with anonymous letters, Watanuki," Yuuko said, her lips half curved into a weird little smile. "They can be from anyone."