Title: The Fourth, The Fifth
Character/Pairing: Doumeki/Watanuki, Clow/Yuuko.
A/N: November 29th - xxxHOLiC, Doumeki/Watanuki: moving in together - it goes like this/the fourth, the fifth. Apologies for lateness or anything I missed.
When Watanuki's apartment complex was slated for renovations, Watanuki wasn't quite worried. Right up until the point he realized that 'slated for renovations' was a nice way of saying 'being condemned by the building code and not habitable for humans.' The biggest problem in this was that the apartment he'd had was the only one he could afford on his current wages.
So it was that he packed his small bundle of things (for he liked things neat and clean and was never materialistic to begin with) and moved into a spare room in Yuuko's shop. There always was one or another room free, so much so that it seemed as if it were a mischievous thing, constantly growing, shifting, and changing. It would only be a little while. What could go wrong?
(Many things, he knew, but for that moment he was hopeful.)
There was a little bell that floated in the air and would follow him around via magic. This was a Watanuki, I need wine right this instant! bell. Or possibly food, but mostly wine. (He thought she would subsist completely on wine if she could.)
This bell was ringing. Quite insistent. He knew it well from when he was working, where it would ring every fifteen minutes or so. He burrowed under his pillows and tried to block out the sound. The bell went right over his head, where not even pillows or earplugs could block out such a ruckus. Watanuki looked at the clock. It was three am. He let out a bellow of a growl, swore profusely and got up – only to run into the wall and the door in the process.
Thirty minutes later, when he was just getting back to sleep, the bell rung again.
By four am, he'd already decided he needed to move out.
Himawari was out automatically. Yes, she was a good friend, but there was always the danger of accidentally bumping into her and having a giant piano or anvil crush him to death because of it. Not only that, there were other possibilities, that he bad luck would be left in objects, and that it would attach to him without anything but a by proxy touch.
He was very fond of her, but this simply wasn't an option. They both knew that. Watanuki didn't have a lot of alternate ways. He wasn't the type of person to have a large circle of friends, and who he had he had befriended already probably couldn't help him. Haruka was kind of dead and living in another world, and he couldn't ask the Zaraki Warashi or the Oden Fox for something like this.
He knew who was the last person to ask, the last person available. At this point he wasn't sure that it wouldn't be just as bad as being with Yuuko, but at this point the other option was a park bench and some newspapers and it was rather cold lately.
(And it wasn't even so much the thought of living with Doumeki, as the fact that Yuuko would never, ever let him forget it and that the joke would never grow old to her.)
The hardest part about asking to move in with Doumeki was the fact that it was Doumeki and being that it was him, Watanuki was prone to breaking into shrieks. Like now. Doumeki was in traditional hakama, sweeping the grounds when his eyes came to rest on Watanuki.
Doumeki set aside the broom and Watanuki handed him the Uiro he'd made. Doumeki lifted the box from his hands. A flicker of slight expression passed over his face as he looked at the cake.
"Yuuko didn't send me here."
"Then what did you want?" Doumeki stared in that way which made him incensed without even really having a reason, other than it was Doumeki.
"I'M TRYING TO TELL YOU THAT I'M HOMELESS!" Watanuki screeched.
"....Why didn't you say so before?" Doumeki said.
"I WAS TRYING TO."
Doumeki motioned for him to follow. Watanuki packed up his meager belongings and went inside. He'd been here before, only to find a book, and yet it still felt like walking into a much older place. It was quiet, serene, even.
His parents were in the kitchen when Doumeki stopped for only a moment to mutter he's moving in with me.
And then Watanuki had a home.
When Watanuki came for work, Yuuko had such a wide smile, that was so utterly giddy that he knew that she knew.
"Doumeki and Watanuki fight like a married couple!" Maro said.
"Married couple!" Maru echoed. They danced around the room, chanting iMarried couple, married couple!/i over and over in a sing-song voice.
"When's the wedding?" Yuuko said. There was a pipe at the side of her mouth, smoke rings rising.
"They fight like mama and papa!" Mokona piped up.
Yuuko seemed a bit less amused at the last part. She brushed away invisible specks of dust from the skirt of her elaborate, black brocade gown with a indignant sniff.
It was about then that his irritation settled into shock as he caught sight of the visitor. He was tall, with dark hair pulled back and a the garb of a magician.
"..There's a ghost behind you—"
Yuuko didn't bother to turn around. "If you don't leave here, I'll make you leave."
The ghost grinned. "You do know I put little bits of my soul in many parts of this house? Any attempt to banish me from here would do little more than tickle. Besides, don't you miss me, Yuuko dear?"
"Papa!" Mokona leapt in joy.
"Papa's back! Papa's back!" Maru and Moro began chanting instead.
"You never told me you were married," Watanuki said.
"I'm not," Yuuko said.
"We're more divorced than married," the ghost said with much affection.
Watanuki could only gape. "Divorced?"
"We were very drunk. She was, anyways. I can better hold my liquor and knew exactly what I was getting into." He said this with gleeful abandon. Yuuko only scowled in response.
They shared a room. Doumeki's room was small, traditional and sparse. There were two futons, with tatami mats and wood floors. Doumeki's father was basically merely an older version, right down to the line of his mouth, while his mother was a small, chatty, very accommodating woman who was everything that her husband was not.
"Shizuka has never brought home anyone before. We're very glad to finally meet you," she said. Her smile, and conversational air made him think it wasn't merely politeness.
"Ah, thank you."
He paused a moment, stuck on a thought that seemed almost not right through everything he'd heard. Then it struck him – they knew him, or at least knew of him.
"...He talks about me?"
"Oh yes. Every day it's 'Watanuki made me this' or 'I'm late for duties because I was walking Watanuki home'"
Watanuki wasn't sure which was more surprising: that Doumeki talked about him to his parents, or that he talked at all.
Watanuki burst in, the door slamming behind him. Clow and Yuuko were in the dining room with large glass chandeliers reflecting the firelight. There were several empty bottles around them Watanuki still wasn't sure how spirits managed to drink wine. Clow managed, somehow. It seemed death, or almost death or whatever state he was in was not as much a barrier as it would seem.
"Doumeki's parents think we're engaged. WHY DO THEY THINK THAT?!"
"Yuuko and I talked to them. Haruka helped," Clow said jovially. He and Yuuko shared a secret smile.
"We do work well together," Yuuko admitted. She was in a happier mood now, possibly because of copious amounts of alcohol and the prospect of tormenting him. She seemed even less angry at Clow. She might even have something like fondness in her voice towards him.
Watanuki tore at his hair and shrieked. "SHE TRIED TO GIVE ME HOUSEWIFE TIPS. THEY WEREN'T ABOUT CLEANING!"
"Really now? You're lucky. Not everyone gets tips like that – for free even," Yuuko said.
"I DID NOT WANT THAT MENTAL PICTURE IN MY MIND!"
"Watanuki can't unsee it! Watanuki can't unsee it!" Maru and Moro chorused.
"Watanuki is a blushing bride!" Mokona said.
"Blushing bride! Blushing bride!"
Behind him through all the chaos was a visitor. And not a person asking a wish, but Doumeki leaning against the doorframe.
"Oi. Mother wants you to try on wedding kimonos."
"I think I shall give my boy an engagement present. Made entirely of wine," Clow said.
"And then we as the parents will drink it together?"
"You have brilliant ideas, Yuuko dear. What this engagement needs is more wine!"
"More wine! More wine!"
Watanuki tore at his head and screamed.
Doumeki had a habit of coming in and not saying anything, so that Watanuki would be deep into his dusting, only to notice another presence and turn around expecting a spirit, only to find Doumeki. Of course, spirits never came here – it was one of the benefits at living in this household.
Watanuki puffed out his cheeks. "What are you looking at?!"
"You," Doumeki replied, as blunt as ever.
He turned back to his work, turned to where Doumeki couldn't see that his cheeks were flushed and not from work or anger this time. He stopped when he realized that Doumeki hadn't moved from that spot. Without turning around to face him
"My food. Do you like it?"
Watanuki looked at this space which was safe from all harm that elsewhere would claw out at the windows and keep him awake at night.
"I'll make Yakizakana:tonight.
"Good. I want Daikon too."
"DAIKON? I DON'T HAVE DAIKON!"
From the other side of the house, where they sat at the table, admist tea, Doumeki's mother sighed happily.
"Young love. They sound just like us when we were young."
Doumeki's father only grunted. She frowned at him. "Oi! Say something for once. What are you, a caveman?"
She muttered to herself all the way to the kitchen where she put on more tea.
Clow sat – or hovered, at least, by the fire. He had a golden sheen, which must have been the alcohol. Yuuko too looked pleasantly dazed.
"I'll hate him again by tomorrow I know, but right now I'm too drunk to care," she said.
"Did you know that he took care one of one of the customers today? I didn't."
"You see, Yuuko that even I can surprise you at times," Clow said.
Haruka raised a glass of his own. "He always manages to trick, that one."
"Me? Tricky?" Clow smiled mischievously. "Always."
"What a wedding it will be. It'll have to be free of ofuda, or the spiritual world will take offense," Haruka said.
"And if any bad spirits come to call as well?" Yuuko said.
"Then he will be married with a bow in his hand, and there is always the possibility that he will have to be thrown over the young Doumeki's shoulder like a damsel."
"I like the way you think," she said.
"It's nice to know that at times I am tolerable to you. I must be getting soft in my old ages."
"The alcohol helps," she responded, playful and teasing.
"Alcohol was without a doubt, the best invention ever made."
Each raised their glass in agreement.