This was meant to be a one shot, but inspiration hit like a ton of bricks, so there will be more. I hope you enjoy this little story!


Things had gone so horribly wrong. So very, horribly wrong, and Watanuki wasn't sure when or where.

His legs were burning, and shaking violently with every step, ready to give out on him at any moment. He couldn't breathe any more, his lungs unable to draw the breath he needed, every last big of energy put into running, to getting as far away as he could as fast as he could.

Screams were still echoing in his hears, loud, and sharp, and begging for death. They'd gotten death too, cutting off suddenly, sickeningly with the sound of bones breaking, crunching under unimaginable strength.

He'd thrown up when he'd seen it, when the blood had splattered over his face and his once pristine white summer uniform. He'd vomited everything he had ever eaten, then his stomach had tried to come up with it. When he'd finally stopped he looked up into the face of the monster, the murderer, grinning down at him with too many sharp teeth. Their eye's locked andWatanuki couldn't look away as it had picked up the arm, his friend's arm, and bit clean through it, blood pouring down it's jaw and dripping off it's chin.

That's when he had started running, and he hadn't stopped, couldn't stop. It was behind him, it's claws raking at his skin, howling laughter bursting his eardrums just louder than the harsh sound of his lungs trying so desperately hard to draw breath.

There was a burning pain searing across his back in five perfect lines, cutting deep into him and sending warmth down his already heated skin. It was his turn to scream, but no sound came from his throat, it was closed, torn between the sounds pushing their way out and trying to pull air in.

The ground rushed up at him fast, and everything went black.

"Oh god..." His voice sounded strange in his own ears, scratchy and and weak, wrong. He couldn't believe it, not even when he was wound so tightly in bandages that he could hardly move, couldn't believe what had happened.

Watanuki didn't want to know how long he had been out, how long ago he had been saved from that monster. He shouldn't have been saved now when... not when...

A choking sob ripped from his sore throat, his entire body shaking with the force of it. It was his fault, and he knew it. There would have been no attack, no one dead, if not for him. The monster was after his blood, had said so, and made it clear that it would settle for nothing less.

Doumeki was thrown to the side like a rag doll, smacking against the wall with a dull thump and sliding listlessly to the ground.

"Come here boy." The monster, big, ugly, like a lizard, man, and bird all mixed into one, crooned at him. It beckoned with one talon, inviting him closer, inviting him to death. " I just want a taste, only a little one." It licked it's lips with an impossibly long tongue, the same color as the blood running down Doumeki's fore head where it had hit the hard stone.

"No." Watanuki's voice held more resolve than he felt, and he took a step back for each the monster took forward, trying to keep the distance between them. "Stay away from me."

Big wings, white and gold, extended as the monster screeched furiously, pulling back down close to it's body as the strange scaled head regarded him once more. "Come here, come here now!"

"Watanuki kun!" Himawari's voice caused both to turn their heads, the pigtailed girl running for all she was worth to come between the two. She stopped half way from each of them, back toWatanuki, and arms spread wide as if she were a barrier capable of stopping such a thing. "Leave him alone!"

"Himawari chan, you don't have to, stay back." He called out to her, reaching out to pull her back, to pull her to safety. Doumeki, at least, was okay as long as he wasn't dead. The monster wasn't interested in anything but him, and getting through whatever was in his way.

She looked back over her shoulder at him, smiling with sadness and something else in her soft green eyes. "No, I do have to, I know I do." Somehow, with that he understood, knew what she was doing, what she was giving up as she turned back to face the monster. Her voice was firm and commanding, full of determination. "You can't have him, you will never have him!"

"You didn't have to..." He was sobbing uncontrollably as the memories returned to him, her being torn through so easily. She'd given his life for him, saved him from death by accepting her own. "Damn it!" He slammed his hand down into the mattress, slammed it down over and over until the strength left him and all he could do was lie there and cry.

"Why?" He whispered, mismatched eyes squeezed tightly shut, salty tears running down his red and raw cheeks. "Why?"

"Because she loved you." The cryptic words should have come from Yuuko, but the voice was deeper than that. "She did only what she could for you, her friend." Watanuki blinked open his eyes, the blurry form easily recognizable to him.

"Doumeki..." It was good to know, at least, that the archer had lived, hadn't been killed as well. If anything, it was probably Doumeki that had saved him in the end. His arrows piercing and destroying the monster just before it had time to kill him. That didn't ease his anger. "WHAT WOULD YOU KNOW?! WHAT COULD MAKE HER DYING RIGHT?"

"She wanted you to live." Doumeki's footsteps padded across the floor, his form moving closer until it was next to the bed, and he sat down on the edge gently, golden eyes locked toWatanuki. "She gave everything she was to save the person who accepted her."

"How would you know, what could you understand about her?" Himawari had always been so kind, so perfect, despite being bad luck. She would never cause someone else pain by giving up her life like that, she was too considerate to just dump that sort of guilt on anyone. That wasn't like her.

"I know, because she told me." Doumeki's voice was level, too calm.

"THAT'S A LIE!" Watanuki beat his fists against Doumeki's chest, he felt so weak, so useless, and Doumeki didn't even seem to notice.

"Yuuko knew we were going to be attacked. She told us that you were going to die." Watanuki hated him for being so calm and collected, for being so centered while talking about something like this, while talking about their friend. "Hitsuzen, she said, it was fated." Large, warm hands grabbed onto Watanuki's smaller, frail, fists, holding them gently but firmly.

"He will die." Yuuko was steady, her face and voice cold and distant, that of the Dimensional Witch. "It's Hitsuzen, fated to be."

Doumeki's hands formed fists at his side, and Himawari's eyes went wide in fear and concern.

"There's nothing we can do?" The pig tailed girl was desperate, and it was in her voice. She was pleading with Yuuko, not the Witch, or trying to. "No way we can save him?"

"I'm afraid not. There are times, circumstances, that call for the end of a life. It's the way of the universe, the way things must be."

"Then I will give mine." Doumeki wasn't asking permission, he was stating a fact. He would give his life so that Watanuki could live.

"Doumeki, you can't!" Himawari was tugging on the sleeve of his shirt, trying to pull him back to reality. "You can't do that to him!"

He said nothing, eyes watching the Dimensional Witch. "She's right, you can't." The denial was stated flatly, allowing no room for argument. "Doumeki Shizuka, you have things that you must do, things that you cannot trade your life for. Hitsuzen will not allow it."

"Then..." Himawari trailed off, but she regained her resolve, staring determinedly at Yuuko. "Then I will trade my life." She seemed more sure of her decision with each word. "He was the first person to accept me, the first person to care for me even though it could kill him. He's offered his life to be my friend... I can't let him die if there's a chance to save him."

Yuuko smiles sadly, patting the girl on her head with a motherly gesture. "It will break him." She repeated the same words back to Himawari. "You understand how much he cares for you."

"I know, but that's why I have to do it. It's the only thing I can do for him after all he's done for me." She smiled sadly, like she was about to cry, eyes locked on a spot somewhere on the ground. "I love him so much, more than I could ever share with him." She took a shaky breath, steadying herself, and looking up again, this time atDoumeki . "You love him too, and I know he loves you just as much, even if he doesn't realize it yet. So," another deep breath, "so keep him safe, and love him for me."

Doumeki could see the resolve, the absolute determination in her eyes. He's seen that look before, seen it on Watanuki more times than he could count, it wasn't something that could be argued with. He nodded to her, "I will."

"Then it is decided." Yuuko, not the Witch, looked tired and worn out. It wasn't her job to argue with wishes, Doumeki would have to guess that even if she wanted to, she couldn't. "We don't have much time. Himawari, come with me, Doumeki, go find Watanuki, he's going to need you soon."

Watanuki had his head resting against the archer's chest, hands still held firm by Doumeki as he cried. "It's not fair." He hiccuped, the sound muffled against Doumeki's shirt. "It's not fair." No one should have to die for him, no one should have had to die. That decision should have never have had to have been made. "Why?" The last was a barely audible whisper.

"Love." Doumeki wrapped his arms around the shaking boy, pulling him close, and using that simple gesture to say everything he couldn't.