A/N: DouWata has been one of my favorite pairing for awhile now, but this is my first foray into writing about them. Just a little warning for people who have never read a fic by me before, I have two chronic diseases: chronic angst and long paragraph-itis. Apologies for both, but I really can't help it!
Rating: T for sexuality and heavy male-on-male brooding
Spoilers/Timeline: Spoilers for the Clow/Finale arcs of Tsubasa, as well as for a certain major event involving Yuuko in xxxHolic which I believe happens around Volume 12 or 13. As far as the timeline goes, this occurs when Watanuki has taken over the shop and Doumeki is helping him while also attending university. Legal Drug also makes a cameo.
Disclaimer: Characters belong to CLAMP
Love Like You Wanted It.
Like Yuuko, Watanuki had issues handling his liquor.
Usually he had to go out of his way to imitate the things she had done before she disappeared— like smoking tobacco without choking, wearing elaborate clothing, providing a stream of cryptic remarks, and remaining serene when he formerly would have screeched his head off in indignation— but falling under the spell of alcohol and waking up with a pounding headache to whine about just as Yuuko had came easy to him. He couldn't quite replicate Yuuko's gung-ho and gratingly enthusiastic attitude which a good bottle of sake or two typically graced her with, but he had at least mastered the art of forgetting his prior pressure to work incessantly in order to enjoy being lazy and having things done for him every once in awhile.
This especially came in handy in regards to Doumeki. Doumeki, of course, had never had troubles with alcohol, and continued to drink without his unmoving expression shifting even slightly. In the past, Watanuki had found his friend's perfect and unrelenting tolerance to be one of his many annoying traits, but stepping into Yuuko's shoes had taught him how to benefit from these annoyances rather than allowing them to send him over the edge. The fact that Doumeki was still wide awake and unfazed after a night of drinking while Watanuki was passed out on the floor and muttering under his breath meant that Doumeki was always stuck with clean up duties, a pleasant reversal from their high school days when Watanuki cooked for and cleaned up the messes of Doumeki, Yuuko, and Mokona.
Watanuki stretched out on the floor, his eyes fluttering sleepily as he listened to Doumeki, Maru, and Moro washing dishes in the kitchen. This was once Yuuko, he thought to himself, a pang of loneliness throbbing in his heart. That was once me in the kitchen, and Doumeki was the one outside with her. I wonder what they talked about? I wonder if she knew it would turn out like this, and if she warned him what was to come if he chose to stay.
With a sharp sigh, Watanuki rolled over on the floor, his yukata slipping slightly from his shoulders. He usually didn't care how much skin he showed— Yuuko certainly hadn't, after all— but the knowledge that Doumeki was still in the other room made him cautious. Doumeki, as the former crowning glory of the archery club, was the master of restraint and control, but even he had his weaknesses and moments when he couldn't or else didn't want to stop. He had told Watanuki once in his usual unashamed and blunt way that his insatiable hunger grew even more intense at the sight of Watanuki's pure white skin, and that whenever he saw it, he wanted to mark it and make it his. From Haruka's comment that Doumeki never tasted anything he wasn't 'properly satisfied with,' Watanuki assumed he was supposed to be flattered, but all the same he couldn't shake the feeling he was foolishly crossing a line of appropriateness with someone he would end up hurting beyond repair.
He didn't know whether or not Doumeki was aware of the fact that he had lied about his reasons for freezing his lifespan inside the shop, or whether or not Yuuko had told him about the fates of Syaoran and Sakura's clones or the price that both Syaoran and Watanuki had to pay to keep the world that Clow, Fei Wang Reed, and Syaoran had distorted from collapsing. He hadn't exactly stretched the truth that badly when he claimed to solely be waiting for Yuuko— he was waiting steadfastly for her, and desperately wishing to make sense of the life she had left him with and what he was meant to do with the heavy legacy hitsuzen had forced upon him— but Doumeki had taken the lie in the way Watanuki had intended him to, as a firm declaration that what they had— whatever it was— couldn't unfold into a natural life and loving relationship together. Doumeki had been appropriately hurt, but eventually announced he would not waver from Watanuki's side and that he would take whatever he could get from Watanuki in the way of love, and Watanuki had acquiesced with a strong measure of guilt, knowing that regardless of his desire to see Yuuko again, it was his fate to remain in the shop as a permanent teenager while Doumeki continued to age and grow, primed to experience life as it was meant to be lived all but for the fact that Watanuki held him back from reality at every turn.
Watanuki returned the yukata safely to his shoulders, covering the remains of the red marks that Doumeki had made on his back days earlier with a veil of fabric. He couldn't act sweet and be proud and unabashed of the love so firmly engraved on his body like anyone else would be tempted to. Whenever he caught a glimpse of them in the mirror, an old shudder of amazement came over him that he had engaged in such things with Doumeki of all people, the one person he had gone out of his way to express his hatred towards in the past, which was followed quickly by the thought that the love Doumeki bore him shouldn't have reached this dangerous point. They were like Syaoran and Sakura, desperately chasing a resolution that might never be reached. It would be better for Doumeki to leave and have his own life, and better for Watanuki to live with the choice he made without wondering what his life would have been like if it hadn't been entwined with Yuuko and Syaoran's, and he had been able to stumble into something with Doumeki in the way that real lovers did. The way they were going now could only end in heartache.
As he yawned and pillowed his hands underneath his cheek, his alcohol breath reeking even to his own impaired senses, Watanuki heard Doumeki reenter the room and kneel down on the floor beside him. Doumeki, as always, was silent as he watched Watanuki half-sleeping in a stupor, the rise and fall of his own breathing barely discernible above the sound of Watanuki's. He could never tell what Doumeki was thinking; the eye they shared may have helped them share a mutual vision from time to time, but his heart was still a mystery. It was perhaps the thing he disliked most about Doumeki. He couldn't understand the act of loving in Doumeki's heart being directed towards him, or why his fate had ended up tied to one person he would outlive and one who had died. He couldn't bear the weight of both obligations pressing down on his heart. Though he loved Doumeki, it was almost more exhausting to accept his love than it was to run away from it and keep it at a distance where it would not overwhelm him.
While he drifted off and on, his mind both lost in a maze of drunkenness and burning with a painful clarity that whatever he and Doumeki were heading towards could not come to good, Doumeki himself settled down on the floor and curled up against Watanuki's smaller body. Again, he said nothing for awhile, but Watanuki could tell he hadn't closed his eyes, and that his thoughts were not focused on getting some sleep before heading back to his real life in the morning. Watanuki tried not to tense or fall into Doumeki's line of thinking, actions that would inevitably reveal he was awake and wanting Doumeki just as much as he was wanted by him. They had already crossed a dangerous boundary, but the line was still in sight; it wasn't too late to step back and recross it into safety. But if they continued to let themselves push further and further past it, there would be no going back. Doumeki wasn't the only one who possessed a weakness and had trouble knowing when to stop.
"Watanuki," Doumeki whispered, his breath tickling the back of Watanuki's neck.
His voice was so gentle that it almost hurt to hear it. Doumeki had always been able to get Watanuki to dance to his tune, no matter how often and vocally Watanuki resisted, and he still felt the urge to follow the direction of Doumeki's deep and commanding voice and fall headlong into the pleasure they both wanted without thinking of the cost, the unavoidable price, of doing so. But tonight, his feelings of guilt weighed over him, and his body couldn't move. He couldn't even wonder anymore what Yuuko would want him to do, or how she herself had navigated love when she was once together with Clow. It was all just too exhausting, too painful to dwell on or to remember. Waiting was not half so tiring as finding the strength to act in the moment or embracing a happiness that could not last.
Giving in to defeat, Watanuki closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep, all the while feeling intensely the sensation of Doumeki's hot breath against his untouched skin.
In the morning, Watanuki woke up to the sound of Doumeki packing up his bags in preparation for his university classes later in the afternoon. His head was pounding. After his traditional half-asleep muttering of gibberish and eye rubbing, he considered issuing a Yuuko-esque request for Doumeki to stop by the Green Pharmacy across the street to pick up a hangover remedy, but he always felt somewhat guilty doing actual business there. Whenever he had gone with Yuuko in the past, he got the feeling they were interrupting something by entering the shop, either between the manager and the big guy with shades who was always popping out of the back room or the two high schoolers who worked there part time. It would be easier on him to just put up with the headache than to have to worry about the four guys over at the Pharmacy dealing with Doumeki, who was notoriously oblivious to the fact that his impassiveness tended to be a mood killer for everyone else around him.
"Good morning," Doumeki said as he finished getting all of his books in order. "I want tamagoyaki and steamed rice for breakfast." He paused thoughtfully for a moment as if he was considering what else to add to his order, but a hungover glare from Watanuki for once silenced him.
Watanuki stumbled to his feet and hobbled over to the kitchen. "Are you going to be in class all day?" he asked as Doumeki tailed him silently and watched as he donned his well-worn apron. He had figured out recently that one of Doumeki's weaknesses seemed to be the sight of him in an apron, which made him wonder exactly how long Doumeki had been harboring less than chaste thoughts for him. It seemed from the very early days of their 'friendship,' apron wearing had been a common occurrence.
"No," Doumeki said, leaning against the island as Watanuki began removing ingredients from the cupboard. "The first class was announced as canceled about a week ago."
"So you'll be staying awhile longer?"
Watanuki turned his attention to his breakfast preparations, falling back into silence. It was better this way; Doumeki wasn't known for his prowess in small talk, and Watanuki himself still felt caged by the wariness that had overpowered him the night before. All it took was a slight opening for Doumeki to plow his way forward, and Watanuki was feeling more and more convinced that progressing any further than they'd already gone in their relationship was a mistake that they couldn't afford to lose themselves to.
"Hey," Doumeki said suddenly after Watanuki had started cooking their rice. "You."
Watanuki whirled around, the signs of his former temper manifesting once again. "My name is not 'hey you,' you jerk."
"You," Doumeki repeated, not even flinching at Watanuki's miniature outburst. "For you, I do everything you want me to."
Watanuki stared at him blankly. I do everything you want me to. What was that supposed to mean? Was it some sort of admonition targeted at the fact that Watanuki hadn't let Doumeki demand a few more side dishes with his breakfast? A way of saying 'I completed all those errand boy tasks you set out for me, so the very least you could do is add umeboshi to my plate without complaining'?
"What of it?" Watanuki asked finally. He and Doumeki had gone over the issue of doing odd jobs for the customers in circumstances when Watanuki's inability to leave the house left him in a bind, but Doumeki had never seemed particularly troubled by the fact that he had become the shop's new part timer. If he was going to use his errand running to guilt trip Watanuki now, it wouldn't be difficult for Watanuki to remind him that there was another worker— namely, Kohane-chan— waiting eagerly in the wings for the chance to be of use.
"I do exactly what you want," Doumeki pressed, his eyes locking firmly with Watanuki's. "All you have to do is ask."
Watanuki shook his head in confusion; this statement made even less sense. Had Doumeki somehow picked up on the fact that he wanted hangover medication, but had decided not to ask him to go get it? And if so, why did it matter so much to him? It wasn't as if the headache was that big of a deal. Unlike Yuuko, when Watanuki drank he didn't clear the whole house of liquor. He just had enough to pull him under, and stopped for the sake of an easy recovery the day after. It wasn't as if he would die without the Green Pharmacy's miracle potion, or that his decision to not ask Doumeki to go get some was an attempt to dismiss his own suffering.
Doumeki leaned forward a little more, still not blinking or changing his unfathomable expression. "Is it not good enough?" he asked, the words coming slowly from his mouth. "Is there something else want instead?"
"Something else?" Watanuki echoed. What the hell is he talking about?
Doumeki reached forward and toyed his fingers against Watanuki's jaw line. "You want to be loved by someone who won't hate you for the price you paid or disrespect the wish inside of your heart. You want to be held, but not so tightly that the arms become another place you can't escape. You don't want it to be forgotten that you aren't the same as everyone else, but you don't want anyone to be burdened because you are what you are. You made a choice, and you would rather be loved by a choice than an obligation."
Doumeki took a deep breath, surely overtaxed by what from him would be considered an unusually long speech. During this pause, he pulled Watanuki closer by the shoulders and gazed fixedly up into his eyes. "Don't I love you that way?" he asked, his voice as pointed as a knife piercing the core of Watanuki's heart. "Don't I?"
Watanuki looked down at the ground, his heart burning in pain. For someone who always said too much and talked to the point where he couldn't stop even when he was alone, there was nothing he could say. He had thought Doumeki had been complaining about his trivial work or the amount of time he took out of his life to buy groceries and everything else he did to support Watanuki's caged lifestyle, but instead he had been referring to the thing Watanuki most desperately wished to avoid discussing: love. What could he possibly say? 'I love you, but this love is fruitless because you will die and I will go on waiting for the impossible to happen since I no longer understand how to move forward on my own'? Doumeki already knew this, and still he had chosen to stay. What Watanuki really wanted to say was, yes, you love me in all the right ways, but why, why, why? Why me, why you, why love and not something less, why settle for this unhappy happiness when the world is open to you with so many endless possibilities?
"You're running away," Doumeki said, tilting Watanuki's chin upwards. "You realize I made my own choice, and you accept your decision to wait here for Yuuko as your true wish. But you can't face up to the fact that you also accepted me along with that wish. You said you would let me make you mine, but you revoke your words over and over in your head until you forget that it was your own choice to begin with. So what I want to know is what I have to do to keep you from changing your mind again. I'll do it, if you ask. I'll do everything you want me to."
"All I want is for you to give up on me and live happily," Watanuki said, his voice shaking.
"I can't do both. It's either one or the other."
"You say that, but you don't know. Yuuko forced me and my world on you, and you must have forgotten there are better things outside of this."
"Yuuko has nothing to do with it. I chose you. She wasn't there when I saw you that day in the rain. I pledged to stay by your side even before I knew who she was, and it would have ended up with love even if I never had met her." Doumeki's hands tightened against Watanuki's shoulders. "Don't hide what you feel behind words. If you don't want me here, then at least tell me. It won't mean that I'll leave, but that I will try harder to make it so that your wish and mine can both exist together."
"I didn't think you made wishes lightly. Especially after how many times you've seen what price is taken."
"This isn't a wish I'm asking anyone else to resolve for me. From the first time I met you, I wished that you wouldn't have to be alone. And that's why I'm here. And that's why I will continue to hold onto to you to the end, even if you think it would be better if I left."
Watanuki stared at him, his body trembling underneath Doumeki's hands. You're running away, he repeated to himself. You're running even though you have no place to go but here. No place you'd rather be than here, with him.
It was the truth, but the raw edge of it still bit into him. Doumeki's love was the one he truly wanted, but accepting it meant he would also have to accept its bitter conclusion, the fact that he would live on when Doumeki died, and that if Yuuko had truly passed on, his hope of seeing her alive was just as foolish as Clow and Fei Wang Reed's wish to reverse her death.
"I don't think anything you could do will make me happier than I already am," Watanuki whispered finally, tucking his head against Doumeki's chest.
"That bad? There's nothing I can do to make you happy?"
"That's not what I meant. I am happy. And the fact that you're still here is the reason why I am."
"And you call all this pain you're going through happiness?"
"It hurts," Watanuki answered quietly. "It hurts terribly. But loving someone too much and being loved to the point where the thought of hurting that person is unbearable isn't the worst pain that can be suffered."
"Ah." Doumeki rested his chin against Watanuki's head. "Then it's fine if I love you like this."
"You will accept it?"
Watanuki pushed him away. "The rice is burning."
"Then after that?"
"You'll want to eat."
"It can wait."
"You have to go to class after this."
"It was canceled."
"Only one of them."
"I can be late."
"Don't be an idiot."
"I'll stop as soon as you do."
Watanuki sighed in defeat. "Fine, fine. Let me take care of the food."
Doumeki stepped back and continued to gaze levelly at him as he leapt back and forth between the slightly burnt rice and the tamagoyaki still cooking on the stove. "It's your fault, by the way," he said, toying with the ends of Watanuki's apron strings.
"Of course you would say that. What have I done, anyways?"
"You ignored me last night. Quite obviously."
Watanuki turned around to glare at him. "If you knew I was awake, you could have done something about it. No one was stopping you."
"You would have run away, wouldn't you?"
Watanuki grumbled incomprehensibly.
"It doesn't matter. You can run now if you want, but I'll still be here. Whether you want me or not."
Watanuki's face burned as his apron was loosened and the back of his yukata was pulled down to reveal the fading marks that would be renewed within a few minutes time. It was a horrible ache, the want that wouldn't be shaken and the unavoidable knowledge that what was his now wasn't his to have forever, but the way it hurt was so beautiful to him that he no longer felt the urge to push away and carve out a fictional happier existence for the two of them. It was fine to be loved like this, burdened with the agonizing awareness that they only had limited time at their disposal and that their joy would be forever intermingled with the bittersweet. That was the way they were; this was the life they had chosen. Watanuki thought that if Yuuko could see them now, she would have smiled.