Title: Miles and Miles
Word Count: 1,451
Summary: Doumeki hates Singapore.
Disclaimer: Characters belong to CLAMP.
Warning: Much Doumeki-angst ahead!
A/N: Blame this one on Saliva's "Rest in Pieces".
Companion piece to "His Checklist".
Miles and Miles
Doumeki had been staring at the ceiling so long he'd memorized every inch of its peeling, cracked surface. The hotel was run–down and ratty, the cheapest place he could find in the heart of the bustling city.
Doumeki hated it here.
He threw himself out of the lumpy bed, putting on his shoes and throwing a light jacket over his t–shirt. While he passed down the steps of the lobby, a pair of scantily–clad women called to him. Already knowing exactly what they would want from a handsome stranger around nightfall, he ignored them.
Doumeki really hated it here.
It was a good gig. One of the old colonial mansions was haunted, and the new owner, hoping to turn it into a resort, had called him. It was turning out to be more of a bitch than Doumeki had thought, a whole bevy of badly–intentioned ghosts, and it would take him three days longer to get rid of them. Doumeki absentmindedly rubbed his wrist, sore from his bow, and tried to stretch his shoulder as he hit the sidewalk outside the hotel. His back was aching, he had a nasty scratch all down one forearm, and it had taken him nearly an hour to find a bar willing to sell him a bottle of his favorite imported sake, and even then it had cost twice what it should have. Then again, he thought as he looked down at the slender bottle clutched in his left hand, he could always get far cheaper booze, but Yuuko had spoiled him and he'd never been able to go back.
And if you're going to drink as much as you have been, his inner voice chided, you might as well make it the good stuff.
There was only one thing that could make him feel like Shizuka right now, and he was a sea of islands away, all the better for it. The very thought of it made him crack the seal on the bottle, because no matter which way he turned it, he ended up back here: miles and miles away.
Doumeki jaywalked across the busy street, heedless of the honking cars, because he saw what he was looking for on the opposite side: a phone–booth capable of international calls. It had been far too long since he'd heard Watanuki's voice, as painful as it was. That's what the bottle of sake was for; when he pulled himself out of the numbness, there was one thing waiting for him, and one way to drown it back out again.
He slumped into the booth, slamming the door behind him, muting the sounds of the street. He picked up the receiver and patiently fed it his credit card number, finally dialing the number he knew by heart and listened as it began to ring. It wasn't too late, they would be eating dinner about now, but Himawari wouldn't mind and Haruka wouldn't be in bed.
"Watanuki residence." And just like that, the world was recognizable again. He always knew he was interrupting dinner when Watanuki answered irritated on the third ring, and Doumeki felt comforted slightly by the familiar tone.
"Oi." There was a pause on the other end, and Doumeki pictured Watanuki in his front room by the phone stand, in dress slacks and apron, eyes wide behind is glasses.
"Doumeki… How's… wherever you're at?" His voice was careful but low, and Doumeki praised whatever beings bothered to watch over him, because that meant he wasn't going to turn to phone over to Himawari.
Doumeki stared at his bottle of sake and shrugged. "Singapore." He closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against the dirty glass. "How's Haruka–kun?" The only untainted beacon in his life.
"Haruka's just great… he pulled himself up to his feet the other day, did I tell you that?"
There was a long pause, because Doumeki didn't have anything to say to that. Oh, god, he was missing every moment of that child's life just so he wouldn't have to look his father in the eye. It made him think of who he'd seen earlier that day, leaving the mansion as he was entering. The people in his circle of business always painted Kohane as his rival, unaware of the common thread they shared: both their worlds had been taken apart by a boy with a wish, a boy who couldn't seem to reconsider his options. They had a brief but polite conversation before moving on, and that was probably why this ache had blindsided him tonight. Normally he was good at avoiding the reminders, but how could he avoid that one?
"I saw Kohane–chan."
That must've jolted Watanuki. "How is she? I haven't seen her…"
"Since Yuuko lifted your curse." How could he forget that day? It was the moment his purpose had been taken away. "She misses Japan." Doumeki hesitated, unsure of why he had told him that. He puffed his breath against the glass, watching it cloud up and smear the lights from the bars that lined the sidewalks. Yeah, he wanted to tell Watanuki how much he missed him, but there was no point. He should've said too many things long before this moment, and now there was no one to blame but himself.
"Well, dinner's going to be ruined if I don't go." Watanuki's feathers were ruffled. It was probably about time Doumeki got off the phone as well and proceeded to work on that sake. Lord knew it was the only way he'd get any sleep tonight, between the terrible mattress and the heartache. "Doumeki…" He pushed himself away from the glass, his senses sharpening at the rawness in Watanuki's voice. "When will you be…" Doumeki's chest seized for half a breath, "back in Japan?"
He's not gonna say it, he's never gonna say it. "The end of next week." But not really home, since he'd be in town long enough to refresh his suitcase. "But I have to head into Osaka after that." Keep moving, keep moving. "Tell Himawari I said hello, and that I bought gifts for her and Haruka–kun." The only blameless ones. But god, she'd looked so beautiful in her wedding kimono, and Haruka had been wailing the day they brought him home. "I'll burn some incense for him tonight." I can never make up for what I've lost.
"I'll… let her know."
The silence hung, and Doumeki closed his eyes and pictured the weight in his left hand as his bow, and the noise of the street as right outside Yuuko's shop, and Watanuki looking up at him expectantly and not a little defiantly. "Kimihiro." This is as much as for you as it is for me. Say it, Shizuka, say it! But in the end, the illusion wasn't strong enough; Doumeki settled for the watered down – the safe – version instead. "It will be good to be home again."
"It will be, won't it?" Watanuki's tone was wistful, and Doumeki wasn't sure if he was talking to himself or not. But the nuance to his voice was there, and Doumeki recognized it as exactly what he needed to hear. "Good night, Shizuka."
The bittersweet ache was back, because no matter how hard he tried, he was talking to a full grown man, a father, a husband, not a seventeen year old boy whose world was swinging like a pendulum, its point never quite reaching to Doumeki, all the way at the peak of one side. But everything had settled, and Doumeki wasn't about to take it away. "Good night, Kimihiro."
Doumeki hung up the receiver as it began informing him of his charges. It didn't matter. Nothing had mattered since the day Yuuko had looked him in the eye and asked him if he had a last wish for her to grant, and he'd told her no, since the only wish he'd ever had was about to be freed from the confines of his prison. A prison that, while terrible, was the greatest gift Doumeki had been granted his entire life, and he already knew that if two wishes conflicted, the one who wishes first retains precedent. And so Doumeki was out of luck, because the only time he'd ever been courageous was in direct conjunction to Watanuki's well–being, and since that was secured, it had left him alone again, but it didn't bother to take everything that was pent up inside him with it.
Doumeki turned from the phone booth, back to the sleazy hotel, and, with one carelessly aimed pitch, shattered a still–full bottle of sake against the alley wall.
God, he hated this place.