Author's Note: I had the idea for this fanfic about halfway through watching Hetaoni. I waited until I watched all of the videos, just to make sure I didn't miss anything though~
For the sake of understanding, this story takes place at the end of Hetaoni Part 17 and roughly a few volumes into xxxHOLiC, when Watanuki was still working for Yuko. I hope that helps clear things up a little.
I apologize in advance for the angst. If anything, blame it on my RP buddies, who after hearing the plot outline for this fic, encouraged me to write it in full force and helped me to give this story a proper title. Major props go to Star for suggesting the song "The Eyes Of Tomorrow" by Broken Iris, it really fits for this story!
I don't own Hetalia, Hetaoni, or xxxHOLiC. Now let the crossover begin!
Neither America nor England had spoken properly since America found out about England losing his sight. In the grand scheme of things, this was the least of their worries.
Damn it all! England cursed within his mind, glaring down angrily at what he assumed was the safe house floor. It was already humiliating enough having to be lead back by America, tripping and sightless, but knowing that everything around England was more or less directly his fault? The Englishman balled his fists tight and clenched his jaw. Spain... Romano... Italy-!
"I think it'd be for the best... if we slept for now." England recognized the voice as Japan's. He spoke as calmly as he could, given the relief that Italy was not actually dead. But England could tell, his voice was raw with sorrow.
"I agree. After some rest... maybe we can think of something in the morning." Canada was still looking for a solution to it all. He was trying so hard, a fact that made England clench his fists even tighter, feeling his nails dig into his palms.
Amidst the whirling torrent of thoughts, England felt a hand on his shoulder, followed by America's voice, soft and gentle. "Come on, England. You need your rest."
"I don't need your help, America!" England growled and shrugged America's hand off roughly. He awkwardly felt around, knowing full well how foolish he was looking while doing so. "Bloody- why is everything so... so-!" England shut his eyes tight and shook his head. Everything was so dark. This was the price he paid for overexerting himself.
The Englishman didn't resist when he felt America guiding him to the nearest bed. He could just imagine how America was looking at him, his brow furrowed, his brilliant, blue eyes a flooded with pitty and sadness, and it made England's stomach clench with guilt.
As he laid his head back on a pillow and sleep gently washed over him, with only one thought on his mind-
Even if I can't see you...
Please, America... don't look at me like that.
As soon as he awoke, England knew something was wrong. He had gone to bed lying down, and now he was somehow propped up against something. Feeling around, the Englishman ran a hand behind him, his fingers gracing something rough and course. With his other hand, he patted the ground and was surprised to feel the soft brush of grass at his palm.
I... I'm outside-?
At that precise moment, England felt a breeze pass by, gently caressing his face and ruffling his hair. He heard birds chirping overhead and faintly in the distance, a low murmuring of people passing by, the sound of their footsteps echoing off of a nearby street.
It was at that point England realized that his eyes were still shut. A bitter reality pricked at his chest and he clenched a hand on the grassy Earth.
Cautiously, England opened his eyes. At first he thought he was still blind, but as his eyes focused and he blinked hard, shapes started to slide into vision and take form.
It appeared that England was sitting with his back resting against a rather large tree, right in the middle of what seemed like a park that people regularly frequented. The tree was located next to a cement walkway, on which a few people strode, none of them taking any notice to the Englishman slumped among the roots.
"What... in the world...?" England struggled to sit up, then looked back at the tree when he didn't move forward. It was like he was somehow affixed to the bark, suck sitting and unable to leave.
A man and his child passed by the tree, and England called out to them. They continued along the walkway, passing the tree as if they hadn't heard a thing.
They can't... hear me?
A pair of girls in High School uniforms passed close by, and England lifted a hand to gently tug at the sleeve of the girl who was nearest. "Excuse me, you wouldn't happen to-"
The girl let out an ear piercing shriek and lashed her arm out, crashing into her friend. Her eyes were open wide and wildly darting around the grassy lawn, resting on England several times but never taking direct notice of him.
"What's the matter with you?" Her friend asked, surprised by the sudden outburst.
"S-something... something touched me! But... but there's nothing there-!" The girl wailed, her voice high pitched with fear.
Her friend sighed. "I think you're just tired from cram school. Come on, I want to go get some ice cream and relax a little!"
They can't see me, either... England sighed and leaned against the tree, thoughts rapidly churning in his head.
Where am I?
How did I leave the mansion?
Was this all just an illusion?
If so, what purpose did this illusion serve?
England found himself wondering one thing above all:
How do I leave this place and return to the others?
"I need to return to that place..."
England had lost track of how many days he spent leaning against the tree. Since passersby couldn't see or interact with him, he had taken to murmuring darkly to himself.
"I need to save them..."
Wrapped up in his thoughts, England hadn't noticed that people had stopped coming to the tree in the park. Curling his legs up to his chest, the Englishman glared hollowly at the grass, feelings of emptiness and solitude welling up inside of him.
"I need to see... him. Just one last time..."
With every passing day, the anxiety to return to that accursed mansion continued to build within England. With every sunrise, he felt more and more cut off from his friends that he knew were in terrible danger. With every sunset, he felt his sanity and sense of being fade away with the day's light.
"Let today be the last I spend here. Please... PLEASE-!"
"... there you are..."
England's eyes went wide and he jerked his head up to find a roughly teenage looking boy standing in front of him. His hair was black and trimmed neatly aside from a few stubborn strands that poked out on either side. His blue eyes were hidden behind oval-shaped glasses, and he wore a High School uniform, no doubt belonging to a school nearby.
But that's not all. England's expression became firm and cautious. He can see me. Not only that, but I sense magical potential within him... and not just any magical power, but... Try as he might, England couldn't recall what seemed to familiar about the boy's aura.
The stranger folded his arms across his chest and narrowed his eyes. "You're causing a lot of trouble, you know. Frightening people away with your creepy muttering, when they can't see you to begin with!" He huffed. "And of course, she had to send me to look in on it when I mentioned the phenomena to her..."
England couldn't help but raise an eyebrow. "She...?"
"You'll find out soon enough." The stranger said with an exasperated sigh. "She told me to bring you to her, almost as if she knew what I'd find here. But that's Yuko for you-"
It was the stranger's turn to give England a curious look. "I haven't done anything."
"You can see and hear me. It gives me hope that I'm not lost to this world... or the world that I wish to return to."
Upon hearing the word 'wish', sudden understanding flickered in the stranger's blue eyes. "Hitsuzen..." He murmured before clearing his throat. "We'd better be on our way. Yuko tends to get upset when I don't serve her the snacks she's been craving on the hour she craves them." His shoulders slumped slightly and he gave a defeated sigh.
"I would be glad to accompany you, only it would seem-" England sat up to give a proper demonstration of his predicament, only this time he moved forward as if he hadn't been stuck to the tree to begin with in the first place. He looked to the tree, absolutely mystified until he returned his sight to the stranger standing before him, returning the curious gaze. He doesn't yet realize the abilities he possesses...
"If you wouldn't mind my asking, could I get your name?" England asked as he stood and dusted a few blades of grass from his pants.
The stranger hesitated for a minute before answering, though his tone was firm. "Watanuki Kimihiro."
"Well then, I find myself needing to thank you again, Watanuki Kimihiro." A ghost of a smile lit England's face and he spoke before Watanuki could object. "Now, please, show me to this Yuko person."
The walk from the park to Yuko's shop wasn't far, but in the time he spent with him, England had become fond of Watanuki's company. The Englishman even engaged him in pleasant, though closely guarded, conversation.
The two came to a stop at a rather unusual looking house sandwiched between two ordinary buildings. If not for England's strong sense of magical awareness telling him that the house was well protected, he could have sworn that the resident was doing all they could to make the place stand out next to its neighbors.
"I'm back!" Watanuki called as he stepped into the house, taking his shoes off before going further inside. England, knowing full well he was in Japan and aware of their customs, followed suit and trailed after Watanuki.
As Watanuki slid a door open, a wreath of smoke slipped past, curling around England. The boy tisked, but lead the Englishman inside.
Aside from the word "she", Watanuki had given England no hint as for what to expect when it came to this mysterious Yuko person. The very first thing England noticed were her eyes, deep red and narrow, seemingly looking into the depths of his soul rather than his own emerald green eyes. She lazed on an elaborate sofa, a thin, decorative pipe resting between the slim fingers of her hand. England gave a tentative sniff. It was something otherworldly and exotic, the perfect scent to enrobe such a person.
The next thing England took into account was that Yuko, like Wantanuki, had a magical air about her. But unlike Watanuki, England had the impression that Yuko was well aware of her powers. And it was not just the magical abilities that were bestowed on her, but something else as well. Something that had the same feel as the untapped magic surrounding Watanuki.
It wasn't just Yuko, but the whole house that had this magical quality to it. Even the two assistant girls, whom Wantanuki had gone to stand by at the side of the room, had a specific magic aura to them. It was all so frustratingly familiar to England and he shook his head, trying to clear away the pipe smoke fogging his mind to think properly.
"You have a wish."
The sudden statement caught England by surprise. "Pardon?"
"This is a shop that grants wishes. Only those who have a wish to fulfill may enter it." Yuko's face remained stoic. She studied him for a second. "Your name?"
England recalled Watanuki being hesitant to reveal his name when asked. Perhaps he wasn't without hint as to Yuko's nature after all. Besides that, magic folk or not, Watanuki and Yuko were very much human, and it would give rise to all sorts of bothersome questions if he simply answered 'England'.
He drew in a tentative breath. "Arthur Kirkland."
"Oh?" A smile played on Yuko's lips and something knowing glowed in her wine red eyes. "Very well. What is your wish... Arthur Kirkland?"
England felt his cheeks burn with embarrassment and forced himself not to break eye contact with the woman. She had seen through his lie immediately, but had not chosen to reveal the name he had given as a false one. Why? England tried to put the eerie sense of foreboding out of his mind for the time being.
"I wish to be able to see again." Realizing that sounded a bit odd, considering he was currently holding Yuko's firm gaze, England launched into a short explanation. "In the world that I come from, my friends and I are trapped in a mansion. We're being... hunted by something that lives there. In order to protect someone very important to me, I overexerted my magical abilities and went blind in the process. I... I need my sight back. The person I want to protect... he's stupid, headstrong, likes to think of himself as a hero... and if I can't look out for myself, he's just going to end up hurting himself for my sake. If he were to get hurt because of my foolishness... I'd never forgive myself."
England was breathless and furious with himself when he finished, his face flushed. He was usually more calm and collected, especially in front of strangers. But it would seem that the time spent in the park, the ominous feelings of dread and guilt welling up inside of him, were not behind him yet. Only when he returned to his world, to that accursed mansion, and finding all of his friends safe and alive, would England feel at ease again.
Despite the otherworldly explanation, despite the feeling that Yuko was well aware of England's true nature, the woman remained as calm as ever. As if to accent this, she took a long drag from her pipe and blew the smoke out in long, wispy curls.
"Watanuki." She said at last, not breaking eye contact with England. "In the treasure room, you'll find a small black box on one of the first eye-level shelves. Bring it to me."
Without a word, Watanuki did what he was told, the two bubbly assistants trailing along at his side, tugging at his hands cheerfully.
"I'm sure you're aware that there will be a price?"
Was it just England's imagination, or had the tone of Yuko's voice changed? It was darker and more serious. He nodded his head. "I expected as much."
"You won't ask what it is?"
"I don't care what it is!" England balled his fists, glaring angrily at the floor. "To return home, to see my friends alive... to see him alive, smiling stupidly like nothing was ever wrong to begin with... I'd give any-!"
"Do not finish that sentence, Arthur Kirkland." Yuko did not raise her voice, but her tone was forceful and her eyes flashed dangerously. "You will be of no use to anyone, yourself or your companions, if you give too much in exchange for granting your wish."
England was well aware of this universal fact, as it was what had lead him to being blind in the first place. Overexertion, overpayment... if you tip the scale, you suffer the backlash for your actions. He took a deep breath and swallowed hard, trying to force his emotions down and regain his level headed demeanor.
The sliding door opening and closing announced Watanuki's arrival. He crossed the room and handed a small, undecorated black box to Yuko, then wordlessly returned to the wall, watching with the two assistant girls.
"These," Yuko extended her hand, holding the box out to England. "Will allow you sight in the world were you have none."
England stared at the box and instantly felt immense magic power pulse from the continents within. With that amount of power sealed within it, he had no trouble believing whatever was inside could assist him when he returned to his world. For the first time in days, hope fluttered in England's chest, and he allowed himself a weak smile.
"Your companions will leave the mansion. All of them, even the one who bears the burden of the journal." Yuko continued, her tone even and firm. She locked eyes with England. "You alone will not be able to leave that place. You must stay behind. That is your price."
England's blood froze as he was caught between absolute happiness and chilling terror. Spain, Romano, Italy... America... they'd all leave that accursed place. But that relief was at the cost of England having to stay behind, never to leave the mansion and be forever hunted by the beast that dwelled within.
There's no other choice. England thought, trying his best to be rational. The way things are going, without my magic and sight, and Italy in a coma... I have to go back and protect them until they can all leave!
Yuko waited patiently, her arm still outstretched and holding the box. England took a few paces forward and put his hand over it.
"I accept the terms of my wish." England stated clearly, though he was sure his voice was trembling. Yuko tipped the box up into England's hand and he moved a few steps back, turning the object over. He had no reason to distrust Yuko and opened the box, revealing a pair of glasses inside and a very familiar spell circle engraved on the top inside of the box.
"That spell circle-!" England blinked hard, just in case he was missing something, but it was all there- the sun, the moon, the intricate design. There was no doubt about it, these glasses had been owned by one of the most powerful magic users of all time. "Clow Reed..." England murmured breathlessly.
Yuko nodded her head. "Correct. These glasses were once in the possession of Clow Reed. Being of European descent, I'm sure you were familiar with his greatness."
"To say the least." England's memories were going a mile a minute as he lifted the glasses from the box, holding them eyelevel. Many enchantments had been placed on them, and England was positive that not only would they restore his sight in his world, but amplify his magic so he would be able to fight again. Clow... did you somehow know this would come to pass? Did you leave these behind, knowing I would enter this shop one day...?
"Your wish has been fulfilled. Go to the tree that you awoke under. You will return to your world at tomorrow's first light." Yuko instructed. England wasn't sure, but he thought he saw the woman's facial features soften, if only briefly. "Make use of the peaceful time you have when you return to your world. The one you love will need your strength above all... England."
Watanuki shifted and looked from Yuko to the Englishman, who was already aware that Yuko knew who he was and wasn't fazed. She was indeed an enigma, the sort of person Clow Reed would entrust his possessions to.
"Thank you for everything." England nodded and allowed himself to be lead out of the shop by Yuko's energetic assistants.
The room was quiet for a minute or two before Watanuki chanced a question. "You referred to that person as 'England'. Why?"
Yuko's eyes were still transfixed on where he had stood and she smiled mischievously. "You'll find yourself encountering a wide variety of people and things while working at this shop, Watanuki. Perhaps Japan will visit us some day. He still owes me some sake!"
"Speaking of sake, I'm hungry and thirsty! Make me some snacks, Watanuki~!"
It was nightfall when England had made his way back to the tree. He slumped against it, slipping down into a comfortable sitting position, as a sudden wave of exhaustion swept over him. Double checking that the box with Clow Reed's glasses was safe inside his jacket pocket, the Englishman leaned against the tree and sighed.
England resolved to not tell anyone where he had gotten the glasses from. He'd make up a small lie about finding them in the mansion, or perhaps that his future self had left them behind. He would do all he could to prevent anyone, especially America, from finding out the truth of the situation and learning about England's payment for his wish.
Just thinking about how America would react made England's chest tight with pain. He shifted among the twisted roots of the tree and turned his head away, as if he were actually looking into those blue, concerned eyes.
"I already told you, America. Please... don't look at me like that..." England murmured. He shut his eyes and allowed sleep to take him, hoping for one last night of comforting dreams before he awoke to his dark, bitter reality in the morning.
AN: I don't usually put Author's Notes at the end of my One-Shots, but I thought I'd throw one in here. I really enjoyed writing this story, as I thought Hetaoni and xxxHOLiC meshed really well together. I also headcanon that England and Clow Reed knew each other, to the point where they probably practiced magic together on occasion, so that was an added bonus~
This story is finished and I have no intention of updating it. I apologize to all who would like to see me expand on this story, but I feel that this foreboding, but not confined, ending is very CLAMP-like in the way that you get to choose what you think happens to the characters at the end. Do you imagine that England somehow manages his way out of the mansion with the others? Or is he bound to his fate of remaining alone to be hunted for all time?
What ending would I chose? Well, that is a secret~ All I can say is that I wish England the best, whatever outcome befalls him.