Disclaimers: xxxHOLIC belongs to the world (and CLAMP), and I am just one person no matter how big my ego is. 'Memory' is the intellectual property of crimsonrosepetals, and this fic would not have come to life without her. I advise everyone to read her story first, as this fic relies on it heavily.
Characters/Pairings: DouWat, despite hints of DoumekiHimawari; hints of Watanuki + Yuuko
Warnings/Ratings: Behold the AU bomb. And slight shounen-ai/yaoi, but then you already know that. PG, but who actually heeds the warnings (--she doesn't XP)?
Summary: Everything is for sale, and everything has a price. The rules have not -will not- change.
"What is your wish?"
He asks the same question of everyone who comes to his little shop, as he has heard Yuuko say so many times before. The customer would answer, and payment would be given. What seemed mystical to him long ago now is mundane and rarely amusing. Fifteen years and so much had changed. Yet so much had remained the same. The constant warnings go unheeded, and the punishments are still feared, even if they are necessary.
The human mind rejects the idea of pain, but clings fervently to the idea of hopelessness. They think that if they keep on going, things couldn't get worse. The scars of past wounds create a heavily chinked armor, but it is armor nonetheless, against the continuing flow they walk through. The ones who let go and let themselves get swept away have never come back to tell the tale.
But even in the most scarred heart, even in the thickest armor the color of burning flesh, there are wishes. Desires. Pleas.
And who was he to refuse, those who would give up anything for this single wish?
So he closes his eyes half-way, waves a hand to the girls, and reclines on the small mountain of silken sheets and soft cushions, as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders. He smiles bitterly, acknowledges a part of it is true, and watches the smoke as it shifts and slinks in the air, using what he learned was the perfect trick to the half-lidded gaze Yuuko always had.
He doesn't know why he has come here. Why he told Himawari that he would be going on an errand to Kyoto, why he'd lied to his boss, saying that he would be visiting his relatives in Honshu, and why he'd told both he wouldn't be back until a few days later.
But that wasn't the problem. The problem was how he knew this place would be here, how he knew exactly at what street corner to turn, and how long to walk, and how he shouldn't knock or ring the elaborate door bell (because it wasn't a door bell at all, this strange white ribbon, and his fingers itch, as if remembering) because very soon, two girls would come and greet him. That was the problem.
He takes a deep, shuddering breath. There was a reason why they'd bought his lies so easily. There was a determination in his eyes, something compelling, a wave that could not be denied. It showed, even though his skin had paled a haunting white, and his whole body trembled with the effort of every step towards this house (this shop), even as his lungs contracted painfully the closer he got. As if something was keeping him away.
For the past few months, he had been living a double-layered life. One half of which was normal, and the other that of a badly shaken amnesiac's. In this life, he doesn't see so much as sense the things that happen. He would be standing in a packed train heading to work, and he would suddenly remember the taste of fugu, hotpot, in the summer. He would be eating Himawari's home made dinner, and then he'd taste red bean rice cakes on his tongue. He would be asleep, having no dreams (he has had no dreams ever since then), and he would feel rain and fatigue beating down on his body, as he clings tightly to one end of a white ribbon which disappears into a forest of chrysanthemums.
But as he stood there, watching as the door opened with horrid slowness, the feelings stopped.
"Welcome..." the girls' lips move. But it isn't their voice that he hears.
There is something missing, but it isn't missing at all.
He collapses at the doorway. Two pairs of eyes watch him, and they share a quick glance before pulling Doumeki Shizuka's body inside.
The shop door closes.
He cries for a long time. The thought that he is crying, makes him cry harder, and Yuuko calls for nearly all the wine in the house. She doesn't bother with the cups, instead she pops a cork open and places the bottle in front of him.
She knows. She knows he isn't crying about what he has to do, what he's done, or what he will be doing until time moves on. She knows he has accepted it, even as he damns her. She knows. He is crying because of what he feels.
He grabs the bottle, takes a sip and spits it out just as quickly. He takes a breath, and tilts the bottle. He spills a bit, but he wipes it with the sleeve of the intricately designed kimono he is wearing.
Tonight is the eve of regrets, the eve of the day of the passing. The moon hangs unmoving in the sky, and the Witches of the Dimensions share bottle after bottle of wine until the crying stops.
"What is your wish?" she murmurs quietly, brushing his hair away from his face, away from his parti-colored eyes.
Moments pass. His pulse drums through his existence. His body returns to the void.
And he answers, just as quietly, in the voice of a tired, but certain man, "I want nothing."
The smoke thickens. The moon shines bright. The tears dry. And the hand disappears.
When the sun rises, the bottles are gone and the room smells of nothing. Watanuki Kimihiro stares at his hands, looks up, and calls for sake.
He doesn't have a hangover. He doesn't have anything.
"He's asleep, still asleep..."
"He's grown older! Mokona can see frown lines..."
"Frown lines, frown lines!"
"Does that mean I should have frown lines, too?"
"But you're not older!"
"Nope, not older!"
"The Master's still very young!"
Laughter. Mostly to his left. Footsteps. Giggling. All around him, now. Someone shushes the giggling.
"He's waking up."
Wrong. He's already awake. Or maybe, right. He's finally waking up.
He squints against the light, and raises an arm against it. He grunts, and the giggling resumes.
"He's awake, he's awake!"
When he sits up, he sees a familiar room and familiar girls, and a strange creature. And he smells new incense, burning, sending wisps of smoke into the air.
"You were out for a while, there."
Contract or expand. At the sound of the voice, his lungs seem to pause, trying to make a choice. A cup is thrust into his hand, and automatically he drinks it. Expand. Contract. Expand. He can breathe again. He turns to look at the face of that voice, and the image is disturbing.
Clips and scenes from a past he now knows he has misplaced, the face of that boy, that woman, that girl, ghosts and spirits and sprites and beings without forms. All flitting in front of his eyes, vying for attention. He closes them, forces himself to concentrate on this time alone, and opens them again. For a split second, he thinks it doesn't work. The face of the boy is still the same, the same as fifteen years ago.
But then he smirks.
"Jerk." he breathes, blue and hazel eyes glittering oddly, "Idiot." The mirage of dreams shatters, and he reaches forward to make sure. He holds his face, and remembers.
| Short coal-black hair, a thin, pale countenance, strange, mismatched eyes: one the shade of cobalt-blue, the other the same shade as his own. A tall, willowy boy with a gentle gaze and the shyest - loveliest - smile.|
The Witch of the Dimensions pushes his hands away, leaning backwards and tilting his head. The smirk fades.
"What is your wish?"
He wants to ask, why had he forgotten, why did he remember now, what had happened all these years (he realizes with a jolt that he'd missed his birthday, April first, that morning) -- but he sees the confusion and places a finger against his lips.
"Leave all that. Answer me. What is your wish?"
The smoke envelopes them, and their gazes are locked. Time and space pause, the sun freezes in the sky, the air hangs thick and invisible. His pulse echoes in the infinity, and his body goes numb.
And he answers, willingly, into the eternal, "You."
The smoke wastes away. The sun brightens. The air moves. And he disappears.
Dedicated to crimsonrosepetals. Thank you for letting me fiddle with your awesome idea. I hope this is to your liking. :D I tried to re-write it, but the 2nd, 3rd and 4th drafts just didn't strike me as much as this one. I ended up just correcting a minor detail, and leaving everything else to hang. ;______; I'm sorry. I'm such a one-hit writer. T.T I feel as if my Watanuki's too uke. What have I done to him???
Oh, and I haven't even read the latest chapters yet. XP College cuts my time. I'll try to get back on it though… :D
[This actually isn't over yet. I suck at romance, but I'm a hopeless sap for them. There will be an extra part, one that feeds my fangirl heart. And yours, if you care to comment.]