In the distance, he could hear it—the bell that tolled for him. He gritted his teeth and kept right on mixing the batter in the overlarge bowl, chanting a silent mantra.

Just ignore it, he intoned mentally, spoon scraping the bowl rhythmically. Just ignore it. Just—

The bell tolled again—tolled for him.

He grimaced at the sound. Shut up shut up shut up…


And now it had a voice too. A voice that he knew he could ignore as well if he really wanted to, but would certainly pay a price for doing so. He sighed, turned around, and stalked out of the kitchen, barely acknowledging the tall, dark-haired boy coming into the kitchen.

"Oi—" he began.

At the familiar, hated word, Watanuki growled audibly, like a lion warning off a hyena, and felt that the sound was a sufficient reply. He brushed past the boy, hardly caring that he was being rude to a guest—even one who was apparently a friend of a friend of a someone-or-other-who-knew-Yuuko-somehow or something—and continued on his way.

When he'd skulked into Yuuko's parlor, he found her sprawled across the Throne of Laziness, as he'd dubbed her chaise lounge chair, smoking her infernal pipe and grinning at him so cheerfully that he immediately considered fleeing the shop in terror. However, resigned to the fate (read: Yuuko's wrathful vengeance) he'd suffer if he did so, he simply hissed, "Quit ringing that stupid bell, it's degrading."

Yuuko put away the tiny golden bell she'd been shaking mercilessly for the past three minutes and smiled at him expectantly. "Watanuki, so good of you to come when I call. I need you to do something for me."

He bared his teeth at her. "Yes. Yuu. Ko. San?"

Deliberately misreading his bared teeth as a smile, Yuuko waved a hand at him. "We seem to have run out of snacks." Again. For the fifth time in an hour, her eyes giggled at him. Watanuki's own eye twitched as he repressed the urge to take the tray she was gesturing at and fling it through the shoji screen.

"Again." Watanuki's voice was carefully even. "My, what an appetite everyone has today."

"Don't blame it on us," mumbled the boy sitting closest to him, who looked like a younger, surlier version of Syaoran-kun. Who was a younger, surlier version of Syaoran-kun, Watanuki recalled. This was the Syaoran of this world, who was about five years younger than the two Syaorans he'd seen previously. "It's the stuffed animal's fault."

"HEY!" protested the weird sort-of-teddy-bear-ish creature floating in the air—a feat that reminded Watanuki of bumblebees, because wasn't there something about how bumblebees physically shouldn't be able to fly because of the size of their wings relative to their body weight, and the teddy-bear-ish thing certainly looked like it had gained a good three pounds since Watanuki's last snack run. "It's not all my fault! The snow-rabbit was eating it too!"

"Kero-chan…" hissed the Sakura-chan of this universe, her green eyes flashing with embarrassed irritation.

"Why is everybody mad at me?" moaned Kero.

"No one is mad at you, Kero-chan," assured the pretty dark-haired girl sitting beside Sakura-chan. Her dark violet eyes twinkled with suppressed humor, and for some reason reminded him of Yuuko when the witch knew Watanuki was going to make a very irrational decision and consequently look like an utter ass. "Sakura-chan just doesn't want you putting all the blame on Yukito-san."

"But I'm not!" wailed Kero.

"Shut up," mumbled Syaoran-kun.

"What was that, you brat!" thundered Kero—as much as an eight-inch creature could thunder.

"You heard me, you nuisance!" retorted Syaoran.

"Syaoran!" reprimanded Sakura-chan.

"What?" Syaoran replied, but he flushed slightly.

"Heh," sneered Kero. "Whipped."

"Why, you little—"


"But Sakura!" Syaoran pleaded.

"Kero-chan." The dark-haired girl didn't sound so amused now. "Don't bait Li-kun, please."

"I was just teasing, Tomoyo…"

"Kero-chan." Tomoyo smiled a very Yuuko-ish If you really want to keep arguing with me, go right ahead, it's your funeral, and I do mean that literally smile at the creature, who flinched slightly and floated slowly to the floor.

"All right, all right," he muttered dispiritedly.

"And you stop being so defensive, Syaoran," reprimanded Sakura. "We're guests, remember, so don't pick fights!"

"He started—yes, Sakura." Syaoran subsided when he saw the set look on his girlfriend's usually chipper face. He and Kero still shot each other dirty looks when Sakura and Tomoyo smiled at each other, pleased with their teamwork.

The sandy-haired boy—Yukito—laughed. "This is just like having a tea party at home." He eyed the empty snack tray with something akin to fond regret. Watanuki wondered if he'd really eaten half of each of the five trays of snacks, as Kero claimed. His thin frame didn't look as if it could hold that much. "Do you ever have tea parties like this at your shrine, Doumeki-san?"

Watanuki's temper immediately soured as he looked at the stoic figure observing the currents of conversation swirling around the room. Doumeki lifted a shoulder.

"We've had a few at the shrine," he allowed. "Not like this."

Watanuki eyed the archer balefully. Just let him try to tell these virtual strangers about the 'tea parties' they'd had at the shrine. Doumeki'd better not open his idiot mouth and start talking about the birthday parties where I had to make my own cake, or the mah-jong exorcism, or even that day at the park when his snow creature beat mine. If he tries it…

He could just see it, he thought, fury rising quickly within him—Doumeki gossiping about all their 'tea parties,' in which Watanuki usually suffered anger and humiliation at the archer's hands. Never mind that Doumeki gossiping was about as likely as Yuuko asking for milk instead of sake; if that damn ape started sharing the memories of their parties, trying to chat up Yukito, when he knew damn well that Watanuki was standing there watching—

Watanuki's brain tripped over itself, somersaulted three times, then ended up flat on its back staring up at the ceiling in mild horror at the direction of his thoughts. He stared in absolute astonishment at Doumeki, who, being Doumeki, couldn't help but notice.

"What?" he said, nonplussed, as Watanuki gaped down at him. "Oi," he said, slightly alarmed when Watanuki didn't answer, but only continued to stare. "What are you looking at?"

Watanuki, for once, did not respond to the hated epithet, and actually could not find a word to say. What in the world had he been thinking? Their tea parties? Sharing the memories? Chatting up Yukito? It was almost like he was…jealous that Doumeki was actually talking to Yukito.

But, his rational self protested, but—the—adda—wibba—he's—and I'm—we're not—it isn't—

Weeeeeell, said his subconscious with a smirk. Isn't this an interesting revelation?

NOOOO, moaned his rational self. NO REVELATIONS. NO INTEREST. NOOO.

XD, said his subconscious.

"Mokona likes tea parties!" chirped Mokona from a cushion on the floor beside Yukito. His voice startled Watanuki from his reverie, and Watanuki quickly jerked his gaze from Doumeki. Unfortunately, it landed on Yuuko, and she was looking right at him, smiling so widely that he knew, he just knew that she knew what he'd been thinking.

And that just didn't bear thinking about. He tore his eyes from hers and glared hard at the floor. Doumeki lifted a brow and did not comment on Watanuki's game of optic tag, though his eyes remained, slightly troubled, on Watanuki's reddened face.

Mokona bounced excitedly. "This is a fun party!" he insisted to Yukito, who smiled and nodded agreement.

"It certainly is."

"Fun party!" agreed Maru and Moro in unison. "Mistress-Mama throws fun parties! And Wata-nii-chan makes good snacks!"

At the renewed mention of snacks—Watanuki had the feeling that she'd been patiently biding her time, or perhaps willing the conversation back toward that topic—Yuuko perked up. "Speaking of snacks, Watanuki…"

Watanuki very politely did not roll his eyes.

"Would you be a dear and go get some more?"

"I can't," he told her flatly. "We don't have anymore left."

Yuuko pouted evilly. "That is unfortunate." For you, her eyelashes fluttered.

Watanuki ground his teeth. "I. Told. You. The last time. I came out here. That we. Were out. Of snacks." At Yuuko's raised eyebrow, he added quickly, "I'm making dinner right now, Yuuko-san, so I can't spare the time to make another tray of snacks."

"Oh, what a disappointing son I have!" wailed Yuuko dramatically, and Maru and Moro threw themselves upon her in anguished commiseration.

"Bad son! Wata-nii-chan disappoints Mistress-Mama!"

"Wata-nii-chan is a disappointing son!"



Watanuki's glare could have cut diamonds as he whirled around and fixed his gaze on the strange boy in the doorway, the same one he'd efficiently warned away from him earlier. Watanuki vaguely remembered that his name had something to do with peaches, but was so glad to have someone to vent his irritation and confusion on that he couldn't be bothered to think too hard about it.


Behind Watanuki, Doumeki suddenly frowned.

Peach-boy blinked at Watanuki, then shrugged. "Watanuki."

Doumeki's eyes narrowed slightly.

Completely unnoticed by any of the boys involved, Yuuko's grin became reminiscent of a psychotic fangirl.

"YES WHAT IS IT." It was more of a dare than a question.

"Your pot of whatever's boiling over." The boy managed to deliver this catastrophic news with the air of one who is used to informing prospective chefs of their failures in the kitchen.


At the hurled insult, Doumeki's frown deepened as his eyes trailed from Watanuki's irate glare to the other boy's indifference.

"Okay, beef stew." The boy smirked at Watanuki now, and Doumeki felt something inside him clench in irritation. "Your beef stew is boiling over."

Watanuki's anger dissipated and left him staring blankly at the boy for all of three seconds as he processed the statement.


As Watanuki rushed by, the other boy ambled into the room and took a seat next to Yukito. He handed the boy a riceball that he'd presumably liberated from the kitchen. Yukito beamed at him hugely and took a bite, chewing happily.

"Thank you, To-ya."

"Waaah, Touya-onii-saaaan!" Kero whined. "Why didn't you get me a riceball too?"

Touya only looked at him. "They're supposed to be for dinner. There's a plate of them on the counter. I figured he'd notice if I took two."

Mokona laughed. "Watanuki will still notice even though you only took—"


Watanuki, having saved the beef stew, flew out of the kitchen like a bat out hell, only twice as fast, three times as loud, and ten times as furious.


"H-Hoe…" Sakura edged slightly away from The Flailing Watanuki, her eyes wide and fearful. Syaoran edged slightly closer to Sakura, shielding her from The Flailing Watanuki, his eyes wary and warning.

Watanuki saw the remains of the riceball in Yukito's hand. "YOU," he boomed.

Yukito paused, his eyes wide. "I'm sorry, Watanuki-san," he started.

"Hey, don't go all batshit on Yuki," Touya objected. "He can't help it if he eats more than most people."


"Jeez, what's so wrong with taking one piece?" Touya demanded. Watanuki zoomed in on Touya as though they were the only two people in the room.

Doumeki got very silent and felt his lips press together in a tight, thin line.

Tomoyo immediately straightened up, her eyes alive with interest at the spectacle, darting from Touya to Watanuki to Doumeki with barely suppressed amusement.

Still unnoticed, Yuuko was silently laughing herself to tears.


"And Yuki is hungry now," pointed out Touya. "If you don't want to freak out over people eating before dinner, cook dinner faster."

"I—YOU—HOW DARE—THAT'S NOT—" Watanuki was flailing for all he was worth. "IT IS NOT EASY TO COOK FOR TWELVE PEOPLE YOU KNOW!"

"Lucky Himawari-chan wasn't here, then," mused Yuuko, "or you'd have an even harder time, wouldn't you, Watanuki?"

Her sweetly innocent tone grated on Watanuki's nerves; he'd ranted for an hour about the fact that Yuuko had invited guests—and Doumeki—over for dinner on a weekend when Himawari was legitimately out of town.


"And you, Touya-san." Yuuko fixed her Don't think you're getting out of this scot-free smile on Touya, who frowned at her. "It really is disruptive to take food from the kitchen when Watanuki is trying to cook."

"It was one riceball," muttered Touya. Yukito nudged him. He sighed loudly and unhappily. "Sorry, Watanuki," he said reluctantly.

Doumeki felt a small surge of triumph.

Watanuki sighed. "No, I'm sorry, Touya-san," he said quietly. Doumeki's triumph faded. "I'm being very rude, and it's not right to take it out on Yuuko-san's guests." After all, it wasn't Touya's fault that Watanuki had had unsettling thoughts about that jerk Doumeki.

Touya looked slightly mollified. "Don't worry about it." He grinned. "So when's dinner?"

Watanuki almost shouted at him, but realized just in time (perhaps the unholy gleam in Touya's eyes helped a bit) that he was kidding. He grinned back, feeling the annoyance seep out of him.

Doumeki could swear that every muscle in his body was about to snap from unnatural tension. Sakura and Syaoran exchanged mystified looks. Tomoyo looked positively gleeful. Kero rolled his eyes. Maru, Moro, and Mokona were following the action with wide-eyed wonder (Mokona's mostly feigned). Yukito was glancing uncertainly from Touya to Watanuki, as if hoping against hope that their antagonism was gone for real.

And Yuuko fluttered her lashes.

"If you're so eager for dinner to be served quickly, Touya-san…"




The bell tolled. It tolled for him.

Watanuki exchanged a rueful look with Touya.

Them. It tolled for them.

"Watanuki! More sake!"

"That lush," muttered Watanuki. Touya snorted and continued mixing batter in the bowl, Watanuki's spare apron clinging to his large form.

"What is this for, anyway?" he asked Watanuki, nodding toward the bowl.


"Ah." Touya eyed the vegetables on the counter. "Makes sense, I guess."

Watanuki eyed him curiously. "Why? What did you think it could be for?"

Touya shrugged. "I was afraid it was for takoyaki."

Before Watanuki could answer, there was a tremendous crash from the other room, and a cry of "KERO-CHAN!" (The "YOU IDIOT!" was probably Syaoran.) Kero came zooming into the kitchen, nearly knocking over a measuring cupful of sugar as he skidded to a halt on the counter.


"I—I—" Watanuki was horrified and baffled.

"No." Touya was adamant and irritated. "Get out of the kitchen, we're cooking."

"WHAT?" Kero was heartbroken and determined. "BUT YOU HAVE TO COOK TAKOYAKI."








Kero sulked and refused to leave without a solemn oath that they would make takoyaki. Touya threatened him with a rolling pin. Watanuki watched the byplay, bemused. From the parlor, he could hear Sakura sighing heavily, and Yukito saying, "No, Sakura-chan, Yue says he'll take care of it." Yue? Who's Yue? We have another guest? Watanuki groaned at the prospect of making yet more food. He loved to cook, surely, but he doubted even his skills could stand up to the task of satisfying twelve hungry people within an hour. Especially when at least two of them seemed to be bottomless pits—worse than Doumeki—and one of them was Doumeki, who never seemed satisfied with anything Watanuki made for him, if the way he constantly demanded improvements to the meals and never asked for the same thing twice (except inarizushi and tamagoyaki just, Watanuki was sure, to irritate him) was any indication.

He felt a quick twinge of hurt at the thought of Doumeki's constant complaints and demands, and skittered away from it. He'd never really cared about Doumeki's reactions to the food before; why now was he getting all introspective about it?

A moment later, there was a flare of magic that made Watanuki's skin prickle.

Then a slightly aggravated tenor voice drifted into the kitchen. "Cerberus, you will cease this nonsense at once and leave Watanuki-san and Touya to cook in peace."

And an angel walked into the kitchen.

The instant Watanuki caught sight of the man robed in white, with hair that gleamed like moonlight, he blushed. Then he blushed because he was blushing. And the cycle just got worse from there.

He was beautiful. There was no other way to describe him, though Watanuki suspected if someone had told the angel that, the silver-eyed, ethereal being would level that person with an icy glare, and proceed to disembowel them with a spoon.

Well. That was a pleasant image. Just disturbing enough to distract Watanuki from his neverending cycle of embarrassed blushing.

Kero scowled. "Easy for you to say, Yue. You don't eat, so you don't know how good takoyaki is."

Yue lifted a brow. "No," he replied coolly. "But I've seen how idiotic you get when you've eaten it. Which is to say," he added with a look that spoke volumes of his contempt, "far more idiotic than usual, causing trouble for the Mistress and Touya and everyone in the general vicinity."

Kero bristled, which looked almost cute coming from a creature that so resembled a child's plaything. "WHY YOU JERK." And a giant pair of feathery white wings erupted from his back, enveloping him from sight.

Watanuki gaped. Touya just sighed heavily at the sight and turned his back, resolutely pouring the tempura batter into a frying pan and adding the vegetables.

"Touya-san, there's a cocoon of feathers roughly the size of a small automobile floating in midair."

Watanuki congratulated himself on saying all of that with a straight face.

"Don't worry, Watanuki-san," Yue spoke up. The minute the angel's attention was transferred to him, Watanuki's cheeks flooded red again. "Cerberus has never been able to back down gracefully when he's wrong."

And from the cocoon of feathers emerged a large cat-like creature, which resembled a lion without a mane, sporting odd-looking armor over its face. The wings seemed to sprout from its back, and each one was easily as large at the lion itself.

"You take that back, you prissy—you expressionless—take it back!"

Watanuki blinked. Apparently the lion was a giant version of Kero.

"You'd think he'd turn into a big teddy bear, the way he looks when he's small," he murmured, and then clapped his hands over mouth, horror-struck at having said that out loud.

Kero turned a murderous glare on Watanuki, but at the stove, Touya snorted again, and Yue's lips actually curved in slight amusement.


"R-right," conceded Watanuki faintly.

Yue merely looked disdainful. "Mistress wants you to come out of the kitchen and behave yourself." He leveled a look at the large cat. "I believe Yuuko-san and Doumeki-san are about to start a game of mah-jongg."

Kero went from looking frightfully sullen to excited so quickly that Watanuki blinked some more, wondering if he'd missed the change of expression. "Whaaaat? We should warn that guy about her mah-jongg record. I remember from when she visited Clow—she cheats." He strolled out of the kitchen, flipping his wings closed on his back on his way out, calling, "Heeeeey, Yuuko-han, you're gonna cheat that kid too?"

Yuuko's playful denial echoed back to the kitchen, as did Kero's skepticism and demand to be included in the game.

Yue sighed. "Now that that's taken care of…"

"Nice job, Yue," commented Touya, looking up at the angel.

Watanuki could have sworn the angel's cheeks turned a faint shade of rose before he, too, sprouted a pair of giant wings that engulfed his slim form. When the wings faded, Yukito stood blinking around the kitchen in befuddlement before focusing on Touya.

"Ah, did Yue manage to calm Kero-kun down?" he asked the taller boy.

"Yeah," Touya told him. "Here, taste this." And he lifted a piece of tempura up for Yukito.

The sandy-haired boy's face lit up. "Ah! Okay!" He fairly bounded forward and opened his mouth, into which Touya placed the tempura.

Watanuki was, once again, completely speechless. He'd just watched Kero turn into a giant winged lion, and watched the beautiful angel turn into Yukito, who was being handfed by Touya.

In. His. Kitchen.

He felt a headache beginning to materialize behind his temples.

"Mmm! This is good! You two work so well in the kitchen!" Yukito beamed at Touya and then at Watanuki. "Maybe you could come over to our house sometime, Watanuki-san. I'd cook dinner in return for this wonderful meal you're preparing."

"Uh." Our house, he said. Our house. As in they live together. Two. Guys. Living together. "Sure?"

"Wonderful!" Yukito clapped his hands together and looked at Touya entreatingly. "We'll have to plan for that soon, right, To-ya?"

"Sure, Yuki." Touya smiled—perhaps the first truly genuine smile Watanuki had ever seen him form—and leaned down to place a kiss on Yukito's cheek. "Whatever you want. As long as you don't invite the plushie."

Yukito laughed, apparently unfazed at the fact that he'd just been kissed by another boy, and then tilted his head to the side for a moment. "Yue says that he would absolutely in agreement with that plan."

Touya grinned. Watanuki goggled. Yukito laughed again, leaned up to kiss Touya's lips lightly, and then ambled out of the kitchen, calling over his shoulder, "I can't wait for dinner, Watanuki-san! It looks really great!" And he was gone.

Watanuki stared for a full minute. Touya kept frying tempura, making no comment about two magical people-creatures who changed shape and popped out of feathered cocoons and bickered like siblings, or about being kissed by another boy, who happened to be one of the magical people-creatures.

Silence reigned in the kitchen until—


"My name's not 'Oi,'" Watanuki responded automatically, still completely confused at the most recently transpired events, and then turned to Touya blankly. "Uh…what?"

Touya nodded to the pot on the stove. "Your whatever's done."

Watanuki looked at him, then at the pot of beef stew, then out the doorway toward the parlor, back to the stew, and finally at Touya again. And laughed so hard he had to grip the countertop for balance.

Touya had to take the pot off the burner himself.




Ten minutes later, when the beef stew was on a back burner and simmering lightly, having narrowly escaped yet another untimely demise, and Watanuki had calmed down enough to meekly apologize to Touya and take over the frying of the tempura, the conversation resumed.

"I love him," Touya said quietly.

Watanuki dropped the spatula into the batter.

There was no sound in the kitchen for a few moments, except that of Touya calmly counting out plates and cups and that of slowly sizzling plastic.

"Ahrm?" said Watanuki finally, reaching for a spoon to fish out the unfortunate spatula.

"I do," Touya said, rummaging in a cupboard for more plates. "He's the entire world to me. The sun and stars. And the moon, too, of course." He smiled at some private joke.

"Ehrehm," agreed Watanuki politely, chasing the spatula through a minefield of vegetables.

"Just thought you wanted to know."

"Uhngr?" Watanuki said, puzzled, as he accidentally caught a broccoli (was a single broccoli called a broccolum, he wondered suddenly, or was it a broccolus, because it worked for octopus—but octopus made him think of takoyaki and Kero and Yue and Yukito and by then he'd circled back around to the topic he hadn't even realized until just now he'd been trying not to think about) instead of the spatula.

"Your face," explained Touya. "When we kissed each other. You looked as though someone had dropped another atomic bomb. Except this time on your head."

"Fnah," apologized Watanuki. Touya waved his hand in dismissal.

"Nah, don't worry about it. It was actually sort of funny. You kind of went red, then white, then red again. Most people just turn either red or green," he joked.

"Uhbluh," sympathized Watanuki, putting the broccoli/us/um back carefully in exactly the same spot from whence he'd dislodged it, and succeeding in flipping up the handle of the spatula. And also some batter, which landed on the counter. He immediately abandoned his efforts to rescue the spatula to grab a rag and wipe every single trace of the batter of the countertop. When he'd succeeded in obliterating any and all non-countertop substances from coexistence with countertop substances, he put the rag in the sink, turned back to the stove, and was dismayed to find that both the spoon and the spatula were buried in vegetables and batter.

"Ngyuh," he complained.

Touya sighed, abandoned his search for dinnerware, and strode over to the stove. Watanuki was extremely proud of himself for not shrinking away like some shy schoolgirl.

Touya effectively rescued both spoon and spatula in under thirty seconds. He turned off the burner that was frying the tempura, replaced the pan, and turned to Watanuki, grabbing him by the shoulders.

"Wait, what are you—" Hey, his vocal chords were working again.

Apparently, Touya was unimpressed with the renewed state of his larynx. "Are you afraid of me?"

Watanuki blinked. "What? No. Well, a little." It was out before he could stop it.

Touya didn't even bat an eyelash. "Why?"

"Well…because…you're a lot bigger than me. And probably meaner." Well actually. Doumeki's face flashed across Watanuki's mind, and his own reactions to any Doumeki-actions he encountered daily.

"Is that all?" persisted Touya.

Watanuki frowned, thinking about the question. "I think so."

"Are you afraid of Yuki?"

"Of course not!" Watanuki was aghast.

"Or Yue?"

Watanuki blushed. "W-well…n-no…"

Touya eyed him. "I think you must be attracted to moon magic too," he mused. "When Yue was here, you got awfully shy, just like those two brats out there used to do around Yuki." Ignoring Watanuki's sputtering and renewed blushing, he went on, "So you're not scared that Yuki turns into Yue?"


"Or that he's gay?"

"He's gay?" Watanuki blurted out, then closed his eyes in mortification as his cheeks bloomed scarlet and Touya laughed out loud. (A/N: OMG, I wrote LOLed at first. IS UTTERLY ASHAMED)

"Yes, I think so." Touya's words were interspersed with wheezing chuckles. "I think you'd have to be gay in order to not mind kissing another boy, wouldn't you?"

"I suppose so," admitted Watanuki.

"And just clear up any misunderstandings, because I know that whole kiss thing was confusing for you…" The teasing gleam in Touya's eyes made Watanuki at once positive and fearful about what the taller boy was going to say next. "I'm gay, Watanuki."

Before Watanuki could laugh at the whole ridiculous situation, he heard an icy voice behind him.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Doumeki was standing in the kitchen doorway, glaring at them. His eyes blazed with a level of emotion that Watanuki had never, ever, ever seen in them before, and there was an emotion there that he didn't recognize, one that flew straight into the center of his being as swiftly and accurately as one of Doumeki's arrows, and pierced something in the region of his chest, and tripped some wire that ignited a slow burn in his gut.

Doumeki's eyes, so frighteningly, unfamiliarly intense, traveled from Watanuki across the (Watanuki suddenly realized) very little space between him and Touya, and down to Touya's hands, which were still on Watanuki's shoulders, back up to Watanuki's cheeks and the residual flush left there from his obtuse question about Yukito's sexuality.

And then Doumeki's eyes went dark, so dark, so hot and angry and somethingelseentirely, that Watanuki felt himself tremble in response.

Watanuki's mouth fell open as Doumeki stalked—there was no other word for it—across the kitchen and stopped exactly two feet away from Touya and Watanuki.

"Take," he said from between gritted teeth, "your. Hands. Off. Him. Now."

Touya lifted a brow, then smirked.

"Sure," he agreed, and did so, stepping away from Watanuki despite the smaller boy's bewildered pleading with his eyes.

Watanuki had no idea what was wrong with Doumeki, but he felt he had a potential ally in Touya against the strange feelings bombarding his insides, so he turned to face Doumeki and opened his mouth to demand to know the jerk's problem.

"Go. Away," ordered Doumeki tersely of Touya.


Touya, now snickering madly, left.

Watanuki, now defenseless and ally-less, turned his back on Doumeki and busied himself at the stove, randomly grabbing things to occupy his hands. He ended up turning up the heat on both burners and banging the pots and pans and various implements around mindlessly to try and organize his thoughts.

Before he could do so properly, however, Doumeki's hands landed on his shoulders. Watanuki jolted, then squeaked as Doumeki turned him around.

"Do you like him?" he demanded.

Watanuki stared at him. The question seemed so out of tune with the rest of the evening that it took him a few minutes to process object, subject, and verb.

"Who?" he said stupidly.

Doumeki's eyes narrowed and heated and darkened some more, and the funny heat in Watanuki's stomach flared.

"Kinomoto." The name was ground out from between tight lips and clenched teeth. "Do. You. Like. Him."

"Who's Kino—oh. Touya-san?" Watanuki couldn't quite think past the molten gold of Doumeki's eyes, which were slowly turning bronzed-copper, and the roaring in his own head. He thought maybe he was trembling again. Weird, that, because he wasn't cold…

"Do you?"

Blinking out of his daze, Watanuki realized he was staring up at Doumeki from a distance of approximately three inches. "No," he answered honestly. And then, more angrily, "And why the hell do you care who I like anyway, it's not like it's your—"

"Shut up. Yes it is." Doumeki took advantage of Watanuki's openmouthed astonishment by asking him, "Did he kiss you?"

"What? No." Watanuki shook his head, confused beyond all measure. "He kissed Yukito-san. Not me." Trying to get back on track, he demanded, "You Neanderthal, what was the point of sending Touya-san away like that?"

Doumeki glared. "He was saying something about a kiss that confused you. I thought he—" He trailed off and resumed glaring.

Watanuki felt the migraine dancing around behind his eyelids again. "Yes. His and Yukito-san's," he said pointedly.

"He told you he was gay, to 'clear up misunderstandings,'" insisted Doumeki.

"Because—well." Watanuki felt the blush return. "Because I said something stupid."


"LIKE I'M GOING TO TELL YOU, YOU PILE OF IDIOT." Watanuki used the embarrassment to fuel the anger and dampen the otherfeelingsthathedidn'tquiteunderstand. "WHY THE HELL WOULD I TELL YOU ANYTHING WHEN IT DOESN'T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH—"

Doumeki frowned. "So it wasn't about you? He's not interested in you?"


"Good. He can live," decided Doumeki, and that feeling in Watanuki clenched. He had to gulp in nervous terror at the oddness of the feeling, and Doumeki, of course, noticed his hesitation.

"Oi. You okay?"

Watanuki scowled. "And for the love of everything sacred, how many damn times do I have to tell you my name's not—"

With a frustrated and strangely relieved groan, Doumeki yanked Watanuki against him and crushed their lips together.

Watanuki's eyes widened in utter shock (OHFUCK OHFUCK DOUMEKI IS KISSING ME HE'S KISSING ME HE'S OHFUCK OHHHH…), then blurred as the archer did…something with his teeth to Watanuki's bottom lip, and then did…something else, something reallyreallycool with his tongue once Watanuki gasped and Doumeki's tongue slipped past his parted lips, and then Doumeki's hand were rubbing a path up and down Watanuki's spine, and wow whatever that was, he wanted him to do that again, and then his eyes finally closed altogether, and Doumeki made a reallygoodsound, oh wait, that was his own voice, well wasn't that embarrassing, well no not really, because he felt reallygoodrightnow, and—

"Watanuki," Doumeki whispered, in a hoarse voice that sent a shiver dancing along Watanuki's nerve endings and made his heart ache curiously.

"Mmm." He didn't want to stop kissing, it was reallygood after all, and Doumeki smelled surprisingly a lot like something familiar, what was it…


"Mmm. DAMMIT STOP TALKING AND KISS ME, YOU FOOL." That smell was really, really, familiar. It was sort of smoky, and sort of spicy, and—



"Well, well, what have we here?" came the tolling of the bell. Er. Yuuko-san's voice.

Watanuki's eyes flew open again and gazed over Doumeki's shoulder, where, to his OHMYGODNOOOOTHISCAN'TBEHAPPENING, the entire group from the parlor was clustered together in the kitchen doorway, with Yuuko standing in front like some team leader (A/N: GO, TEAM 104! FAITO! OH! XD), all of them peering (except Yuuko who was in fact leering) at him and Doumeki wrapped around one another like—


Yuuko gave a tinkling laugh—even that sounded like a bell, and gave him just as much of a chill—and waved at them. "So sorry, we didn't mean to interrupt. We just wanted to see how dinner's coming, and when we came out here—" She trailed off suggestively with a predator's grin.

"WE. IT. UH." Watanuki tried fruitlessly to slide out of Doumeki's grip, but failed so spectacularly that his rational self fainted from surprise and his subconscious rubbed its hands together in glee.

"Go away," suggested Doumeki to Yuuko and the group behind her, though in a far politer tone than he had with Touya.

Yuuko's grin widened, and she winked, then spun on her heel and pranced out of the kitchen, herding the gaping Syaoran, the blushing Sakura, the beaming Tomoyo, the blinking Yukito, the smirking Touya, and the hyperactively giggling Maru, Moro, Mokona, and Kero (who had returned to his plushie-sized form) out in front of her.

Silence once again descended upon the kitchen. Until—

"Oh my God I'm going to die."

Doumeki's brows drew together at Watanuki's horrified whisper.

"It wasn't that bad of a kiss—"

"No, that's not what I meant," Watanuki said, thinking of the teasing and the hinting and the vulgar winking from Yuuko he'd have to endure and ignore from now on.

"—considering you've never kissed anyone before."

Watanuki's embarrassment vanished with a frightened "Eep!" as his anger took over.


"So it was good then?"

The question threw Watanuki off-track. "I-I, that is, it—" He blinked at Doumeki, then lowered his gaze uncertainly. "I-it wasn't that bad," he mumbled. Then he added, shyly, "Was it?"

Doumeki stared at him. Then he lifted one hand to Watanuki's cheek, running his fingertips along the skin there. "No," he said softly. "It was good."

Watanuki blushed.

"Just one problem."

Watanuki blanched.

"A problem?"

Doumeki nodded. "A big one. A major one."

Watanuki swallowed.


Doumeki leaned in so that his lips brushed against Watanuki's ear, sending a shiver dancing down the shorter boy's spine.

"The beef stew's burning."





New A/N: The new and improved shiny-pretty ending is dedicated to Pen-chan, AKA iambickilometer, who engineered the entire thing and who deserves copious amounts of donuts and coffee. Go read her 104 fic "Bodies in Motion." It is covered in awesomesauce. :D