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Spoilers for Gate 7 and kind of the end of xxxholic


-Meeting The New Guy-

"Welcome!" An enthusiastic chorus called to Chikahito when he entered the dimly lit bar. The happy tones used by the proprietors…

"Wait! What are you?" Chikahito cried, pressing his back against the door he had just entered, groping urgently for the doorknob.

The small things that had so happily greeted him defied physics to cross the room in single bounds and proceeded to disprove one of Newton's Laws by grabbing his arms and pulling him into the room all while remaining four feet above the floor. Chikahito's fumbling left-hand latched onto the door knob which he gripped desperately. "Sorry, I came in here by mistake. I'll be going now," he explained his voice breaking a little under the stress of the situation. His nerves really weren't doing well it had been a rather stressful and confusing first chapter for him and then he had been unceremoniously handed an invitation to come to this bar. Before he could even fully decipher the badly written script he was pushed out the door by Sakura and told by Tachibana that it was rude to keep people waiting.

"You got Fai's invitation didn't you?" the black rabbit… oni… thingy said as it happily pried his sweat dampened hand from the door handle.

"Ah, well I'm um, not sure. It was really hard to read and I'm a minor so I don't think I belong here," he said, uselessly trying to halt his forward movement by digging his heels into the floor.

"It's ok there is no age restrictions here. Fai isn't very good with Kanji, but he was really excited to meet you," The white… animatronic toy, explained as they stopped in the center of the room.

"That was the name on the invitation," Chikahito confirmed, closing his eyes in hopes that the mutant escapees from a Lewis Carroll novel would disappear when he opened them again. He groaned a little dejectedly when they were still there a second later.

"I'm Mokona and this is Mokona," the white Mokona advised him bouncing onto the top of his head, the black one perching on his shoulder.

Chikahito repressed a shiver of discomfort and hoped they were housetrained, "Chikahito," he answered perfunctorily.

"Oi, you damned manjuus get back to work," a deep voice growled, as a large hand grabbed the pair by their ears, divesting Chikahito of the Mokonas by way of throwing them in the direction of the bar.

Finding his field of vision filled by a broad chest Chikahito looked up, and up, finally meeting the pair of red eyes and glowering expression of his rescuer. Gulping, he took a quick step back wondering if he could make it to the door before he was murdered. "Epp!" he cried, blushing at the girlish sound that escaped when the giant in front of him gripped his shoulder and turned him to face the room.

The giant snorted in amusement. "I'm Kurogane. No matter what you may hear from anyone else it is Kurogane, got it?" Kurogane growled, glaring at Chikahito until he nodded franticly. "That damned mage was supposed to be the one the greet you, but he and Subaru are busy comforting Doumeki. He's still in denial about how his manga ended," Kurogane explained, shaking his head in disgust, "I don't know why he's so shocked. I mean this is CLAMP."

"CLAMP?" Chikahito questioned, rallying the tattered remnants of his dignity.

Kurogane raised an eyebrow in surprise, "The devil women who are in charge of your story. You should know that much at least."

Chikahito gave a quick nod of his head. "I remember hearing something along those lines, but well this and that happened in the teaser chapter and it's all kind of blurry now," he said, feeling calmer now that it appeared his death was not imminent. "Ah, could you tell me why I am here," he asked, hoping to hurry things along so he could escape back the dubious safety of his new home.

"To meet the CLAMP character support group," Kurogane answered with a shrug.

"Why would I need a support group and what kind of support group meets in a bar?" Chikahito asked beginning to feel overwhelmed by it all.

Kurogane actually chuckled, though the sound was a touch more bitter than amused, "Because we're all CLAMP characters. If we didn't get alcohol we'd never be able to decipher the flipping plots and you'll need the support if you don't want to turn out like Kendappa-ou and Souma."

"What happened to them," Chikahito asked, mentally cursing his curiosity.

"Murder suicide," Kurogane stated matter-of-factly, "Come on let's get this over with."

Chikahito felt a little weak at Kurogane's words and he hoped that the older man was exaggerating. But, he was having difficulty holding onto that hope as he finally took in the room and its occupants who all seemed to exude an aura of mournful resignation.

"We're mostly all one big group, but there are some sub-groups. It's too early to tell which one of those you'll fit into so don't worry about it for now," Kurogane said, leading Chikahito past a table whose two occupants didn't seem to fit in with the general atmosphere of the room.

"Sub-groups?" Chikahito questioned, openly staring at the two men who were chatting happily in the booth.

Noticing that Chikahito had all, but stopped moving Kurogane halted, crossing his arms over his chest and glared at him. "Ya, there's the stalker group, the angst riddled group, the lost limb and eye group-"

"Those sound horrific," Chikahito exclaimed, cutting Kurogane off. "What about those two?" he asked, pointing at the two men who were laughing, "I want to be part of that group. They at least look happy."

"You think so? Watch." Kurogane ordered.

Chikahito did as he was commanded, studying the two men. One was dark-haired and appeared more athletic than his lighter-haired companion who was smiling at him. When the two leaned across the table to exchange a kiss Chikahito hurriedly averted his eyes, his face burning. A flash of light however caused him to look back at the two. Only to find the lighter-haired man had been replaced by a stunningly beautiful man sporting a pair of wings that were awkwardly pinned by the confines of the booth.

"Don't touch me, you pervert," The winged man said coldly, forcefully pushing the dark-haired one's face away.

"Fuck!" the darker man snapped, banging his head down on the table in frustration, "Stop cock blocking me, Yue! Or so help me I'll bend you over this table and ride you so hard you won't be able to manifest for a week!"

Chikahito realized he was shaking his head in rapid denial of what he was hearing as he backed away from the scene, only when he bumped into another patron. Twisting his neck to stare at the man behind him, Chikahito stated a stammer out an apology.

"Don't worry about it. It can be a little overwhelming at first," a smiling blonde man told him, "I'm Fai and you must be Chikahito."

Chikahito closed his mouth, eyes narrowing as something he hadn't noticed at first forced its way into his awareness. Everyone in the room was either a walking ad for the masculine ideal or so pretty they verged on feminine. "Why is everyone so or so?" he asked helplessly, gesturing at the two contrasting men before him.

Fai and Kurogane exchanged glances. Kurogane snorted, "You take this one," he said with a shake of his head.

Fai gave his stern faced companion a coy grin and with a twitch of his finger created a red and white striped peppermint stick out of thin air. "Weeellll," he said, the tip of his tongue darting out the tease the end of the candy cane, "It makes it easier to identify the possible semes and ukes. Not to mention the prettier you are the more likely you are to be tortured at some point."

Chikahito felt his eyes widen, transfixed by the sight of Fai. The lithe man was consuming his treat in a manner so lascivious that Chikahito wondered why no one was protesting. Swallowing hard, Chikahito felt his eyes dart to Kurogane who looking rather flushed. An unexpected crunching sound caused him to jump in surprise and Kurogane to wince.

"Bastard," Kurogane snapped at Fai who was holding a noticeably shortened candy cane.

Unrepentant Fai smirked at Kurogane. Chikahito gave his head a hard shake, trying to remove the rather disturbing thoughts that were forming in his mind. Looking about the room again he realized the number of men far outnumbered the women and considering the things he'd just witnessed. "Wait!" he cried waving his arms back and forth across his chest in denial, "I definitely don't belong here. Hana's a girl."

Fai gave him a sympathetic smile, "Really? Well, it doesn't matter; it's CLAMP. Besides are you sure Hana is your soulmate?"

"Soulmate, who said anything about soulmates, but she did kiss me and why aren't Tachibana and Sakura here?" Chikahito demanded trying to change the subject. He really didn't want to stand in a bar with two men he had just met, one of whom had very publicly molested a piece of candy, and discuss soulmates. The whole situation was beginning to make him feel dirty. Chikahito frowned the room suddenly felt colder, looking around he found everyone within earshot had ceased what they were doing to stare at him.

"You got to kiss!" several people stated incredulously.

"Hyuu," Fai said, waving a hand in front of his face as though to cool down, "a kiss and it was the first chapter."

Chikahito shifted his feet uncomfortably. Logically, he knew he should keep his mouth shut after all more than one person was now giving him some rather envious looks, but his conscious was beating him about the head with sledge hammer telling him that remaining silent was the same as lying. Taking a deep breath, "Itwasintheteaserchapter," he said in rush.

Kurogane and Fai both blinked at him, "What was that?" Fai questioned.

"It was the teaser chapter, but it only happened so she could put a spell on me and it wasn't like I enjoyed it. I mean I was too surprised to know what was happening and… why are you looking at me like that?" Chikahito asked, taking in the pitying expressions of the two men.

"You're probably headed to the soulmate survivors sub-group," Kurogane answered flatly.

"I don't want to be a part of any of these groups," Chikahito protested futilely.

"Wan, wan, wanukie ya bastard," a slurred voice called from several feet away.

"Oh, dear," Fai murmured as a man stumbled toward them. "Doumeki, this isn't Watanuki," he said stepping between Doumeki and Chikahito.

"Isn't?" Doumeki questioned, squinting blurry eyed at Chikahito. "Hey! Fai, this guy isn't Watanuki," Doumeki exclaimed, his drunken state apparently causing short term memory loss.

"What happened to Subaru?" Kurogane demanded, his brows creasing in irritation.

Giving a giddy hiccup Doumeki waved a finger vaguely in the air, "Seishirou made him go to the bathroom with him," he explained, his finger, finally settling on a direction, was pointed straight above his head. "Hehe, you know what that means, Watanuki? Seishie is breakin' off a piece." Doumeki informed Chikahito, nudging him awkwardly with an elbow.

Fai gently tugged on Doumeki's arm. "Now, now Doumeki this isn't Watanuki remember. Sorry, Chikahito. He's normally really reserved. Who'd of thought he'd be this kind of drunk. Maybe, I shouldn't have given him that all that wine from Yama," he said, while trying to led Doumeki away; however the larger man was completely oblivious to Fai's efforts.

Giving Chikahito a forlorn look Doumeki grasped both his shoulders giving a noxious alcohol scented belch that caused the bewildered boy's eyes to water. "I spent my entire life taking care of you and do I get any love? Noooo, you just use me and move on to my kid. What is up with that anyway? Messing with my head wasn't enough you have to do it to the next three also? You better hope I'm not reincarnated before Yuuko 'cause I'm gonna beat your ass and drag ya outta that freaking place by your hair. That's it! I'm gonna go caveman style on you. What 'cha think of that you kinky bastard?" Chikahito face had turned an attractive shade of magenta as Doumeki's speech ran the gamut from despair to lecherous.

"Kuro-rin, some help here," Fai said to his companion through gritted teeth as he continued to pull ineffectually on Doumeki's arm.

'Kuro-rin' gave his blue-eyed companion a devilishly amused smirk. "You look to be to doing just fine from where I am standing," he said, highlighting his refusal to help by snagging nearby chair and sitting down to watch the show.

"Just I want to go home," Chikahito pleaded only to be ignored by everyone present.

Doumeki seemed to be on a roll and showed no sign of stopping. "That's right this sexy man beast is coming for you," he told Chikahito, emphasizing his words by reaching around to grab a handful of the hapless boy's ass. "And I'm gonna stuff you so full of my man sausage that maybe you'll grow one of your own."

Chikahito felt himself to begin to hyperventilate. He was positive he was not in this kind of manga, so why was this happening to him? What happened to all these people to make them insane? He had to get out of here before they began to make sense or his virtue became compromised any further.

Doumeki, much to Chikahito's relief, had stopped kneading his butt and was leaning over Fai's head to whisper, loudly, in Chikahito's ear. "I know I'd like it if you had a bit of somethin' somethin' down there. I have needs damn it! It's been so long that I'm even beginning to contemplate the insertability of the Mokonas."

Chikahito was momentarily blinded by a flash of blue light. When his eyes cleared his saw Doumeki on the ground snoring. "I am not a table," a disgruntled Fai informed the, thankfully, unconscious man as he ran a hand through his disordered hair. "Are you alright?" Fai asked Chikahito with some alarm as the boy's legs folded and he sunk to the floor.

"This is only a dream. This is only a dream," the boy chanted, his eyes tightly closed, hands clamped over his ears.

"Good work mage. You broke him in less than fifteen minutes. You're becoming more of hazard than the Devil Women," Kurogane said dryly. Leaving his flummoxed partner alone with the traumatized boy he returned a few minutes later to find that Fai had managed to coax Chikahito into one of the chairs. "Here drink this," he told Chikahito handing him a tumbler so full of an amber colored liquid that it sloshed over the edge when Chikahito shakily took it.

"I'm not old enough to drink," Chikahito stated reflexively even as he downed over half the glass's contents in a single gulp.

Kurogane snorted, "Trust me you'll need this. Those other two…"

"Tachibana and Sakura," Fai supplied helpfully.

"Whatever," Kurogane said, "They didn't handle all this half as well as you."

"That's because Subaru took one look at them and said that one or the both of them were sure wins for torture and maiming. Then Seishirou kept trying to abduct Subaru and Tachibana so he could try out twins," Fai told Chikahito oblivious to the fact that his words had pushed Chikahito into a state of numbed shock.

"Shut up, idiot. You're making things worse," Kurogane snapped, trying to hit Fai, but failing miserably.

"I thought I was going to be in a nice happy manga," Chikahito said miserably before emptying his glass and holding it out to Kurogane for a refill.

Fai shook his head rapidly, "Be glad you're not."

"Why?" Chikahito asked before he could stop himself.

"Clones," Kurogane answered.

"Can I go home now?" Chikahito asked without any real hope. "I'm really tired. There were all these weird snake things and then a lion and I find out a little girl put a spell on me and the next thing I know I'm living with her and two other guys and I'm sure Tachibana hates me and Sakura seems nice, but after meeting all of you I'm afraid he's going to attack me in my sleep," Chikahito said, his voice settling somewhere mid-way between numb and despairing.

"I'm sorry, Chikahito," Fai said consolingly, "But at least you aren't Subaru."

"Considering your past and what's happened to Doumeki that's not as comforting as it used to be," Kurogane said, wryly.

"Not helping, Kuro-tan," Fai hissed from between clenched teeth and a plastic smile.

Looking at the two men through alcohol tainted vision Chikahito voice became pleading, "Is there any hope?"

With a leer at Kurogane, Fai nodded rapidly, "Oh, yes there is always fanfiction. You wouldn't believe the things we get to do in those."

Groaning Chikahito buried his head in his arms wondering what he could have done to deserve this.

After several more drinks and dizzying amount of people all more or less as strange as the first few he met, Chikahito eventually relaxed enough to sing a duet of Zankou with Kurogane. By the time he was carried home, bobbing over a Fuuma's, who said his name was Kamui, shoulder Chikahito had even forgotten that he had planned to barricade himself in his room until sanity returned to the world. By, the time he was tossed unceremoniously onto the floor of his room he had forgotten all the dire warnings and advice he had been given the only thing he knew as he sunk into his drunken stupor was that alcohol made everything all better and the other CLAMP characters weren't such a bad lot after all. The later thought was revised in the morning when he discovered several bruises on his neck and chest that looked suspiciously like hickeys; along with a message written on his stomach in permanent marker, "Welcome to CLAMP, Chikahito!"


Notes:

UMV is to thank for the phrase "contemplating the insertability of the Mokonas". Mikkeneko provided the best advice by suggesting that Doumeki should be a talkative drunk. I ended up writing his dialog with Uakari in mind. Uakari was also the one who pointed out the similarities between Chikahito and Tachibana to Watanuki and Subaru.