Title: His Checklist
Word Count: 1,104
Summary: Watanuki lives his life by a checklist.
Disclaimer: Characters belong to CLAMP.
A/N: You can blame Hinder's "Lips of an Angel" for this.
Pork buns, almost ready. Rice, simmering. Fish, still a few more minutes. Watanuki's life had become everything it'd never been when he was seventeen: a routine of comfort and contentment. No spirits chasing him down the street, no odd errands for Yuuko sending him out at all hours of the night, no curses looming over his head, just his checklist of life: get ready for work and kiss Himawari goodbye, run the pharmacy like clockwork, come home and kiss Himawari hello, play with the baby until making dinner.
The phone began to ring, and Himawari glanced up at him from where she was cooing at Haruka, trying to spoon some pureed substance into his resisting, splattered mouth. Watanuki sighed, turning away from the stove, crossing under the archway into the front room, keeping an eye on the pans. Hell if he'd let some idiot salesman ruin a night with his family.
"Watanuki residence." The rice was probably burning.
How did you forget there's no contrary archer to that checklist?
Watanuki gave another quick glance into the kitchen, making sure Himawari was still occupied with their adopted son. Although they'd both been freed from their curses, Yuuko had warned them not to have children. Watanuki considered it a fair trade.
"Doumeki… how's… wherever you're at?"
"Singapore." Watanuki could almost hear the shrug over the line, as if to say, It doesn't matter. "How's Haruka–kun?"
The slightest bit of warmth seeped into Doumeki's voice when mentioning his honorary nephew. Himawari had wanted to name him after Doumeki himself, with the logic that he'd saved Watanuki's life so many times he deserved it. But Watanuki had gently belayed her, insisting on Haruka instead.
He loved his wife, but he thanked god she was a little… dense sometimes.
"Haruka's just great… he pulled himself up to his feet the other day, did I tell you that?"
No, no he hadn't. Because he hadn't heard from Doumeki in nearly… three weeks.
Watanuki moved away from the archway, sinking down into one of the cushions surrounding the table. He knew if he turned on a light, Himawari would notice, and then he'd have to tell her it was Doumeki on the phone. She loved to hear all about his adventures in exorcism, something that had made him as close to famous as he'd let it, and it dragged him all over the east, further away and for longer periods each time, it seemed. Watanuki, in the moments he let his mind wander to it, often wondered about the irony: that he and Himawari were the ones living a quiet, normal life when Doumeki toured the supernatural world.
"I saw Kohane–chan."
Watanuki broke from his reverie. "How is she? I haven't seen her…"
"Since Yuuko lifted your curse." Of course Doumeki would know exactly when, since Watanuki doubted Kohane had said it herself. "She misses Japan." There was an undercurrent of empathy to his voice, and he paused. Watanuki caught his breath.
But he'd never said it before, and it was absurd to expect it now. But that didn't stop Watanuki from being filled with a completely irrational anger when there was nothing but silence.
"Well, dinner's going to be ruined if I don't go." Watanuki tried to sound exasperated as he rose to his feet again, but didn't turn back toward the kitchen. He hated these conversations in a darkened room, like he should feel guilty, like he was hiding something; he hated all the unspoken words and the deep tug at the pit of his stomach. "Doumeki…" He could hear his breath, but that was all. "When will you be… back in Japan?" He'd almost said home, but that implied Doumeki had something to come home to, and that was why he wanted the spirit–vision to go away by the end of things, wasn't it? So Doumeki could be free?
"The end of next week." Doumeki sounded distracted, as if that wasn't the question he'd been expecting. "But I have to head into Osaka after that."
Watanuki nodded at the phone. It was good that Doumeki was always gone, he told himself for the millionth time. Safer that way, for the both of them.
"Tell Himawari I said hello, and that I bought gifts for her and Haruka–kun." Doumeki said, and Watanuki glanced into the kitchen again, a silly smile on his wife's face, his son a swath of jet–black hair and food–covered fists. "I'll burn incense for him tonight."
Watanuki was momentarily at a loss for words. His wife, his son, his family… his best friend, his archer, his hitsuzen. Why did he feel so alone? "I'll… let her know." Doumeki would tell Himawari he adored her, he showered affection on the child named after his grandfather, but he wouldn't say it… he'd never said it once. But it isn't fair, Watanuki reminded himself, to expect something of others you can't do yourself. Watanuki closed his eyes.
"Kimihiro." His eyes flared back open as something deep at his core hummed. He'd spoken it so firmly, so resolutely. But again, he hesitated. "It will be good to be home again."
Watanuki managed a smile at the give in Doumeki's voice. That… will have to be enough. "It will be, won't it?" He paused, knowing the rice was burning and the pork buns overdone and the fish dried out, but he didn't care about his checklist, his routine, and all he wanted was to be seventeen again, on a dark street, walking next to a boy with a bow but no arrows, to feel protected and invincible and uncertain what the next day would be like again. "Good night, Shizuka."
"Good night, Kimihiro."
When he walked back into the kitchen, Himawari looked up at him when he leaned over and dropped a kiss on Haruka's soft hair. "Who was that, dear?"
He looked at her, covered in goo nearly to her elbows, her smile as bright as it was when he'd first met her, beaming up at him. Haruka managed to reach out and snag a clump of her curly hair in one grubby fist, and she admonished him gently as she unwound his tiny fingers from it. He looked at her, at his son, at the dinner he was going to have to salvage, his checklist and his routine, and it was enough, because it simply had to be enough. "Just an idiot salesman." He turned back to the stove, grabbing the rice paddle to try to scrape the burnt grains off the side of the pot.
"Just… an idiot…"