So I randomly wanted to write a Himawari-centric oneshot and ended up writing more than half of it on paper before liking it and committing to it. Himawari is a complex character whom I pity and admire for everything she goes through in xxxHolic, so this fic goes through some of her thoughts and feelings concerning the events surrounding Watanuki's accident (with shipping goodness slipped in of course, nyahahah...).
She thinks to herself that luck is a funny word with no real meaning in the halting syllables- cursed or blessed, it is the same thing: excuses for trailing footsteps and uncomfortable, aimless gazes.
She mentioned this to him once, bitter sugar on her tongue, in the filtered shafts of sunlight behind the school. He shifts slightly as she says it, lips still and the quiet stretching dangerously until she frets it will snap, before tilting his head to look down at her slowly. She observes silently, because some things are better left unsaid for fear of awkward situations, that he moved as though to say something but caught sight of her eyes and stopped. He stays that way for some time, dark orbs mirroring her flickering doubt and something else, then looks away and lets out his customary grunt. She sighs at this, not in exasperation, but because she realized she had been holding her breath, waiting for his response.
The water is warm on her skin, brushing the curves of her back as gently as glimmering morning dew. The light spray dusts her hair and cheeks so that the inky locks cling to the pale flesh and she continues to stare blankly at the intricate, invisible patterns scrawled on the tile, spelling out whispers of white bed sheets and a whiter face. The jagged throbbing criss-crossed over her spine slows to beat in tandem with her heart.
It is a still heart, she thinks absently. It can beat for no one- useless, useless…
She wonders if she is capable of unfurling the wilting flower's petals sitting in her chest to reveal this sickly, vulnerable heart to someone else (useless, so useless…). The scars on her back tingle and she bites her lip, salt mixing with the dew.
She wonders where the breaking point is. Or should she wonder when or who?
She moves carefully as to not tempt the question engraved on her skin in illegible handwriting to mockingly ask her, knowing that she doesn't know the answer. When he turns and nods politely in greeting so that she smiles fondly, falsely, and genuinely, she sees the same question teetering in the limbo between them. But he knows better than to ask, because she will only lie with a pretty smile, and she knows better than to draw attention to it, because he will suppress guilt that is not his to express.
"Let me see."
His voice is firm and so is the grip on her shoulders, but she can't bring herself to meet his eyes.
What would he see?
She looks further to the side, to the paper-thin screen doors with painted butterflies and no angular silhouette behind it and murmurs a no.
I don't want you to know how ugly I am.
But she still wants someone (him) to see. Her answer is ignored and she lets him turn her away and slide the fabric carefully off her shoulders, pushing curled tresses away from the nape of her neck. Her eyes clench shut and she waits.
She stiffens when hesitant fingertips and a slight intake of breath ghost over the raised, sensitive skin and mottled blood. He feels this and the fingers curl into a fist against her flesh, muttering that he won't do anything. For some unknown reason this makes her lips press together to hide bubbling laughter and she forgets for a moment that the salve she was waiting for is long overdue and her wounds smolder and leak liquid ashes.
After a pregnant pause, she tells him that she knows, because she suddenly doesn't know what else to say, minutely and cautiously leaning in towards the very real touch still smoothing over her back.
She thinks to herself that this is what it means to be human.
She killed someone again today. But these sorts of things, accidents, happen all the time; car crashes are nothing extraordinary.
She repeats this over and over in her mind, the dulled voice echoing as her eyes sweep over glass shards and dried crimson and skewed metal, ignoring the voices bobbing around and nudging her subconscious. Are you alright, are you alright? they ask, but she can't tear her eyes away from the small hand dangling limply from the overturned car, splattered with the falling rain and passing shadows of moving limbs and swollen, overhead clouds.
She can't bring herself to part her lips and say she's fine. Because she's not.
Bile rises to her throat, stinging so that her eyes burn and she staggers backwards before turning on her heel and running, the smack of shoes on pavement resounding deafeningly so her ears ring. She keeps running until she can no longer hear them call after her and thinks wildly that maybe, just maybe, she can keep going, but she is forced to stop in an alleyway so she can try to spit her heart out, choking and coughing on acridity and heaving sobs.
She knows that he knows something is wrong.
When she closes the door behind her, releasing the handle, he is waiting outside, casually leaning against the wall and watching her with a distant expression, long legs awkward in the cramped space of the hallway. She hesitates, then averts jaded jade from deep obsidian and tells her legs to move.
Left, right, left, right, left, right, left, stop.
She can hear his uneven breathing and finds herself turning to look up into his face. He is still watching her, unflinchingly, and it surprises her how unnerved she is by his steady, piercing gaze, sharply contrasting with the composed stance and demeanor. Her eyebrows draw together, creasing her forehead slightly and long, white fingers reach to brush the skin under his right eye.
Her fingers, she realizes, letting them glide lower to his jaw.
A soft cheep sounds near her ear and he blinks, face unchanged but eyes resembling understanding (understanding what? she wonders later). She flushes scarlet, quickly withdrawing her hand and leaning away from the heat of his breath over her cheek, an apology whispered into the empty hallway.
"You don't have to pretend," he says.
You've finally noticed?
Or has he decided to voice it just now?
Her gaze stays on her clenched hands and all she gives is a curt nod, striding quickly away from the door and outside to the raindrops and clouded puddles, his words repeating with each step.
In her room the windows are dark and the curtains drift open as she stands in front of the mirror, studying the reflected picture. The eyes look sunken and the cheeks are gaunt, the mouth is dry and the hair is a wild mess of curls. She runs a hand through the hair, feeling it catch painfully on tangles, and absentmindedly pushes it up, letting a few curling strands dangle over her ears and neck. The picture stares at her with wide, unblinking eyes and she shudders at its empty expression, pointedly looking away from the faded ink spills creeping over its shoulders and releasing the mass of black waves.
She wears her hair down the next day. How shamefully selfish.
He is pale but not so much as during her last visit. He repeats his sincere promises of frosting and strawberries and she smiles and nods at appropriate intervals, wondering how she got herself into this… this…
The bright little bird nuzzles his cheek and he pauses in his tirade to grin happily so that her heart twists. The swath of bandages has lessened so that she can see his thin face and wrists clearer, spidery veins easily visible. They carry more that just his blood, she remembers, and she leans forward to touch his forearm. The movement is more of a self reassurance that he is really there, alive and breathing, not liable to flit away in a stray wisp of smoke and her fingers tremble upon contact. His babbling subsides as he sees her downcast face, which prompts a quick question.
"Is… something wrong?"
She is so surprised by the straightforwardness of it that she stares openly at the mismatched eyes and tousled hair. Then she laughs, bitterly and sadly and thankfully, because (yes, oh yes) something is. And she wants to tell him (ask him if he knows how hard it is to bleed painfully and alone without allowing yourself to cry for help) but can't, so she laughs to mask the frustration and anxiety. She finally stops to tell him, gently because he is so fragile, that he is the one they should be worried for. Then before he can say anything more, she stands up, dusting off her skirt and says goodbye for the day, listening to the false note linger in the air. She leaves as quickly and normally as she can manage (because she can still inflict damage), the bird fluttering back to its perch on her shoulder.
"I told you not to pretend," he says when she comes out.
And the hallway swells to loom three times larger than before with three times less air.
He is still quiet, coolly listening to the echo of her shouts fade against the backdrop of falling rain and mist, blinking when his hair drips. This makes her burn even more but before she can shriek at him again, desperately shrill statements (not questions) of why he doesn't understand and how it's too hard, he steps forward and pulls her flailing limbs toward him. She wants to scream and refuse and it hurts…
But she lets him hold her, gently like she is something precious, until she leans limply against him and can only cry weakly into his already wet shirt. She lets him rest his hand on her head and tell her, voice low, what she already knows. She lets him tell her what she is too afraid to admit to herself. When he pulls back, her widened eyes meeting his, she lets him lean in (close, so close that she can see the way his irises sparkle, and then even closer…) and she lets herself believe him.
She notices that the world seems to have warped back into some semblance of normalcy in the span of about two weeks. Only a semblance though, she quickly reminds herself. It makes her think of those two pictures side by side, can you find all the differences?
He squabbles loudly and passionately so that her eyes soften, stopping briefly only to clutch at his head from a wave of dizziness before leaping back into the quarrel. The other end of the one-sided argument blinks heavily without answering and moves slowly. She regards his glazed expression with a tinge of worry coloring her contentment and he glances at her. She stares for a moment before giving him a tentative smile. His face eases and she feels lighter, his words and the feel of his body pressed against hers rushing back into her memory.
She still believes him.
So honestly, I think the ending completely murdered everything because I had no idea how to make the fic stop XP. So please do excuse it and leave a review telling me what you think!