Warnings: slash, crude language, aimless

Disclaimers: I do not own xxxHOLiC or the associated characters; they belong to the ever-so-wonder CLAMP and associates, of which I am not one (sadly). Written for violet-phoenix-rose's Calendar Challenge on HPFC.

Shiwasu: Priest's Run

It was a new year; another year, not that it felt much like it. Doumeki Shizuka liked to be a bit optimistic about the New Year, especially since he lived in a temple and therefore got to see all the happy people in their winter coats who wanted to pay their respects, but for some reason it just didn't seem... special this year. Not really.

To be fair, Doumeki tended to have a better time in the traditional New Year rather than the Western one that began. The weeks between those dates were hectic and generally not very fun for the archer, as the temple was busy cleaning up from the Western New Year and setting up for the Chinese New Year. He had very little free time then to help the shrine priestesses get ready for the events.

Still, he bowed respectfully to those who were making their donations to the temple and swept the courtyard just to keep himself busy. It was already running late in the day, and people were more inclined to visit proper festivals or parties rather than stick around at the temple.

New Year was a family event, Doumeki knew. People came with their children and siblings and closest friends to the shrine for all the first three days of January, always had and likely would for years to come. His grandfather, Doumeki Haruka, had always been adamant that the family was together the whole day, even if it was only to help those who came to the temple that day; then he had died. Sure, the family was highly traditional and still treated the year as they ought to; it was separate from the year previous, and they tied up all loose ends. His mother even made soba.

Until today. Doumeki wasn't sure what made the change. Perhaps it was the fact that the family had been drifting apart. Since he had entered high school, his mother continually spoke of returning to college, and had started taking classes the previous April. His father was still the head priest of the temple. And Doumeki himself... well, hardly a week into high school and he had been attacked by Watanuki Kimihiro. A month later he found himself spending less time with his parents and more with his loud year mate.

It was a combination of things, he supposed. His father had made no mention of holding Doumeki to his usual obligation of helping around the temple, and his mother was attending a bonenkai (1) hosted by one of her professors. Doumeki was quite simply lost as to what he could or even should do.

Judging by this first day, Doumeki wasn't looking forward to the rest of the year. His parents were distant, he had to sweep the courtyard – despite the fact that no work was supposed to be done on the most auspicious day of the year – and it generally wasn't the best day in his relatively short existence. Compared to his grandfather who had died at a ripe old age, sixteen was hardly an age to be worried about.

Being lonely though... well, he supposed that, outside of Watanuki's company, it wasn't that bad. I'm used to being lonely, he mused. It's the only thing I can rely on these days. Since grandfather died.

His train of morose and highly inauspicious thoughts was broken when a figure tripped in front of him. The other boy – for the person was most certainly male – was easily caught and set on his feet before Doumeki's mind had quite caught up with his action. Well, saving Watanuki from smacking his face into stone tile was obviously a sign that he would be saving his friend (not that Watanuki would admit it, though Doumeki figured they had to be friends by now) just as much, if not more, than he had since they met.

"Gah! Why are you touching me?!" Watanuki flailed an arm in protest to being manhandled – Doumeki figured that was how the slightly-shorter boy would see it since he tended to dramatize things – though the other remained stationary. Curious, Doumeki looked and saw that there was a box wrapped in a cloth... but Watanuki only made him food for school lunches usually. Obviously, that couldn't be the case. Seeming oblivious to Doumeki's perusal of his person, Watanuki was ranting about perverts for some reason.

"Happy New Year," Doumeki wished him mid-rant. Watanuki was probably only there because it was the closest shrine to his home anyway.

Grumbling, Watanuki replied, "Doesn't seem like it. Yuuko made me bring you this." The box was shoved into Doumeki's arms before he could react at all, and the other boy left swiftly.

Doumeki entered his house and was only half surprised to find soba in the box. Soba from scratch no less. And the bento box wasn't one of the ones that was kept at Yuuko's house for Watanuki's use either.

Muttering "Itadakimasu" under his breath, Doumeki dug in to the traditional – not to mention delicious – meal with gusto.

Perhaps this year wouldn't be so bad.

Author's Note: Shiwasu (priest's run) is pretty much January

The prompts for this chapter were "January" "new" and "I'm used to being lonely. It's the only thing I can rely on these days." Sorry it's almost a week after January, but whatever.

May have chapter 2 up in time for V-day, may not. To be fair, I already wrote an xxxHOLiC V-day and White Day fic back in December and January, so I owe you lot nothing... might do something for Harry Potter though. We'll see.

(1) A "year forgetting party" is held to help leave behind the previous year's troubles and worries.