An XXXholic fanfic by Di Long

"This is a bad plan."

She huffed. "It's a little late for that, don't you think?"

"How long has it been since…"

"Hush!" The moment that all important hand touched the wall, she knew he had returned. The dimensional bubble her home existed in was tuned to his existence as well as to hers. He would always be able to see this place, even when most could not.

"When will he…"

"He's here," she whispered. "Go into the next room would you? And for heaven's sake, be quiet. Not that it should be hard for you."

As the adjoining room's sliding doors snapped shut, Yuko shook her robes loose and sagged into a richly indolent pose on the couch. A small exertion of her will made the smoke from her pipe extra thick and wrap about her like a mist. That should be mysterious enough for the right first impression.

As she head the tapping of school shoes fighting their way up the walk, she made eye contact with Maru and Moro. "Remember – just like we planned, girls."

They regarded her with sad but resigned eyes and nodded in tandem, before scampering out of the room.

"Welcome!" she heard them crow from the front foyer, soon followed by his frenetic protests. 'It was a mistake', he said. 'His feet had acted on their own accord. He wasn't here to be anyone's guest, thank you very much!'

"You were destined to come here," Yuko pronounced in her most mystic voice, and his protests cut off. Or maybe it was her heart that was cut out as he entered the room and looked at her so blankly.

She went on at length about destiny and fate, being her most pedantic. His incomprehension was as gratifying as it was hurtful.

Going through the wish shop routine, she asked his name and birthday. She was disturbed that they had done such a good wipe that he would make the dangerous error of revealing the truth to an absolute stranger. To be safe, she admonished him about the danger.

Sticking to the plan, she pretended to read his past. It wasn't so hard to do, given she already knew most of it – stubbed toes, alarming verbal precociousness, and failed cooking attempts. It had the pleasing effect of impressing him, something she had long since failed to do. She was careful, though, to match the story to his present recollections. However, it had enough of the real truth in it to be sincere and reach his heart, making him trust her.

Then she sidled up to the issue that had been worrying her in his absence. He saw magical creatures, as well as malevolent spirits, didn't he?

He looked shocked at this revelation and hesitantly responded to her questions with clear distaste. No surprise there. For his whole life, this ability had made him shy and nervous. To him it was a curse.

How had it been, all on his own? She was relieved to see that he seemed healthy and unharmed. It was hard to imagine, given that he had been completely vulnerable since he left to set the mission in motion weeks ago. She wondered if a certain someone had been breaking the rules and lurking around corners.

As they had predicted, in the absence of other memories his deepest wish was to not be hounded by the spirits any longer. He had always wished for this, since he could speak to tell her. Until recently, the price of that wish had been manageable.

Smiling, she set the terms. The rules of the universe were working for her this time. To grant his wish, she could keep him under surveillance while he worked for her. (And he would still do his chores!) In granting his wish, she could keep him by his special one's side, even if he didn't realize it.

Well, there was nothing like the chance to start a romance form scratch! She wondered if it would take as long this time around, or if Domeki had learned a thing or two.

After the deal was sealed and her son stomped off, Yuko wrapped her thin arms around herself in a lonely hug. Her precious gift from Clow had offered himself up to save the future. She hadn't had the right to force him to stop, that weight was up there with murder. So now he lived alone, vulnerable, and in a fog of confusion that would only get worse.

She would do everything she could to keep him safe until this ordeal was past and his memories had returned.

She called out to the closed shoji. "Follow him to the apartment, will you? Don't forget your bow."