A/N: I was really happy with the way Love Like You Wanted It turned out, so I decided to try my hand at another Douwata fic, this one happening much earlier in their friendship together, and more from Doumeki's perspective than Watanuki's. I hope you all enjoy it!
Rating: T, for no particular reason other than it might be a bit heavy for the young'uns
Spoilers/Timeline: Spoilers for the showdown with Watanuki's eye, and vague mentions of things that happened with other clients. Happens not long after Doumeki destroys the spider web for Watanuki, and follows up to the conclusion.
Disclaimer: Characters/scenarios belong to CLAMP, wordage belongs to me.
Meanings of Sacrifice.
It was all right that things had turned out this way, Doumeki thought. Watanuki was forever putting his entire self at risk with everything he did, willingly offering himself up piece by piece at the slightest provocation, and it was only through the careful efforts of the people who loved him that he was even still here. Doumeki had always been wary of needless sacrifice, but when it came to what he must do for Watanuki, there was nothing needless about it; it was the only way to keep him alive, to show him physically how much he was loved and needed in the world. Sometimes, he could still feel the pain of his ripped fingernails when he had endlessly tore through the damp soil under the hydrangeas, or the feeling of his bow between his fingers when he released the arrow into the spirit Watanuki had willingly let sap his life force. The damage he had done to himself on the first occasion had healed quickly, and the anger on Watanuki's part over the second had been surprisingly short-lived. It was all right this time that the mark would linger and would be a part of him for as long as it took for the curse to fade. Maybe the fact that it would always be there would remind and make Watanuki understand the lesson which he had been most resistant to learn.
Doumeki pressed a hand against the web-like mark that had settled over his eye. It didn't hurt anymore, at least not like it had initially. It would take some getting used to, but so did most things in life. An eye was a reasonably small price compared to the life Watanuki was continually attempting to throw away, and Doumeki could not really complain about being cursed when he had brought the spider's grudge down upon himself. He could have just as easily let Watanuki break himself out of the web, but he had consciously chosen to do it himself. If he had to pay a price for his choice, that was just the way of the world. It was a price he could live with, in any case. The eye he had lost was by no means the most precious thing that he had the potential to lose.
"Watanuki," he whispered into the quiet air of his room. He knew he should probably feel more upset than he did, but he could not help but settle into a feeling of contentment. This is one thing he will not have to endure and burden himself with, Doumeki thinks to himself, at last dropping his hand away from the mark. This is something I alone can take responsibility for.
And that, he decided firmly, was the way it should be.
When morning came, Doumeki rose and began to prepare himself for school. He knew exactly how much time to spend on each part of his routine to make it outside just in time to meet Watanuki as he pretended not to be stopping by the temple, so he naturally shifted from one task to another, his body responding instinctively to his internal clock. Without having to think, he lifted his comb and began running it through his hair, staring blankly into the mirror without acknowledging his reflection. It wasn't until he felt a slight itch nearby one of his eyes that he blinked to get a better look at the face gazing back at him.
His hands froze in mid-air when he saw what had happened, the comb falling from his grip and clattering down into the sink. He lifted a finger tentatively and traced a line beneath his eye where the web had been only the night before. There was nothing there but his unblemished skin. Every single thread that had fused to his skin had disappeared.
Gritting his teeth, Doumeki threw open the doors and left the temple, his uniform still rumpled and his books still left waiting on the floor. Watanuki had just begun to walk past the temple, but he kept his face turned away from the gates, staring at the cluster of houses down the street as if they were the most fascinating buildings in the world.
"Oi!" Doumeki called out, trying to catch up with Watanuki's long strides.
"How many times do I have to tell you?" Watanuki said, his voice both calmer and colder than Doumeki was used to hearing it. "I have a name, so use it."
"Oi," Doumeki persisted. He tried to catch a glimpse of Watanuki's face, but the other boy was keeping it ducked low, shielded by his hair and glasses. "It's gone."
Doumeki said nothing, simply quickening his pace so he was alongside Watanuki. When Watanuki still wouldn't look at him, he grabbed him by the shoulder and forced him against the wall, tearing off his glasses with his other hand.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" Watanuki yelled, covering his face with his hands. "Y-YOU JERK!"
"Watanuki." Doumeki pushed at his hands, revealing the white patch covering his eye. "What did you do?"
"I... I got something in it," Watanuki muttered, staring at the ground. "It's nothing."
"What did you do?" He hooked a finger around the eyepatch and lifted it up. There was nothing there to look back at him. The single eye remaining finally gazed upwards, staring at him defiantly. "What... did you do?"
"This isn't nothing." Doumeki placed a hand at either side of Watanuki's head, caging him in. "You exchanged them, didn't you?"
"And if I did?"
"It wasn't your place to make that choice."
"I was the one who got caught in the spider's web."
"I was the one to break it."
Doumeki stared at him harshly, waiting for some sort of acknowledgment to dawn over Watanuki. How could he not understand? Doumeki never paid a price or sacrificed of himself unless it was absolutely necessary, and to take away whatever he did decide to give was not only an annoyance, but a deep insult as well. Did Watanuki hate him so much that he couldn't bear to let Doumeki hold on to a single loving gesture done on his behalf? Was that what this was?
Doumeki ground his knuckles into the wall beside Watanuki's head. "You don't get it," he said, sighing in disgust. "You don't get a single thing."
"Don't you treat me like an idiot."
"Then stop acting like one." He dropped his hands away and turned sharply, walking to school on his own without caring if Watanuki had bothered to follow.
There were so many books in his grandfather's library that the answer had to be somewhere. Having his wish granted by Yuuko would be too simple; he had almost felt foolish for asking given his distaste for wanting anything he could not achieve through his own efforts, and it was only fitting that the one impossible thing he wanted, she could not even grant. You and Watanuki are working at cross purposes, she had said with her sad little smile. What you want is the opposite of what he wants, and as long as you cannot see eye to eye, so to speak, there can be no satisfactory resolution. Until that child learns how much his sacrifices hurt their target, nothing will ever change.
It was true enough. Even if he found a way to reverse what Watanuki had done, it was still doubtful that he would understand why Doumeki would cling to his barely deserved curse when Watanuki was willing to take it upon himself. Perhaps they would go back and forth forever, and the two of them would never be able to share the same intentions at the same time. In the end, even Doumeki could live with that, if that was what was meant to happen. But if he didn't even try to take back what had been stolen from him, he would never be able to forgive himself.
As he flipped through the pages of an ancient book of countercurses, he heard the doors to the building being quietly opened. Watanuki stood at the threshold armed with bento, the only way he knew how to atone. The anger in Doumeki's heart stilled somewhat at the sight of him stammering about how it wasn't a big deal, the food was only leftovers and wasn't made specially for him at all. Even if he couldn't comprehend the reason Doumeki was scouring the library for a solution, at least he was apologetic enough to lend his support, to try and soothe over the bitter feeling with food. The food would do for now, even though what Doumeki really wanted was a coherent apology, an acknowledgment that what he had taken from Doumeki was not just a spider's curse, but a symbol of the love Doumeki has continued to endure through everything that has been lost and won between them.
"Idiot," he said under his breath as Watanuki began pulling books off the shelves.
"WHAT DID YOU SAY? You should bow down to Watanuki-sama who has deigned to bring leftovers and help you."
"You're helping, but you still don't get it, do you?"
Doumeki lifted a finger and gently touched the surface of the patch over Watanuki's eye. "If nothing is done, it won't come back."
"And how do you think that makes me feel?"
Watanuki frowns and turns away. "Y-you can feel however you want. I don't care."
Doumeki reaches out and wraps his arms around Watanuki's slim body, pressing his face against the juncture of his neck and shoulders. "Is that really how you feel?" he asked, his breath tickling against Watanuki's skin. "Does it really not matter?"
"GET OFF ME!" Watanuki shrieked, flailing and stumbling away from Doumeki's arms. "STOP DOING WEIRD THINGS ALL ON YOUR OWN!"
"You really don't understand," Doumeki sighs, shaking his head. "Idiot."
"That's it. I'm taking the bento back and going home."
"I already finished it."
Doumeki said nothing, opening another book. If there was an answer, he was going to find it, no matter how little Watanuki could yet comprehend. You do too much already, he thinks to himself as Watanuki turns back to his own book, muttering under his breath. Please, just this once, allow me to do something for you that cannot be undone.
"There is something you can do," Yuuko said, twirling the chains of her swing together and then unwinding slowly in circles. "He's already gone to confront the being that has his eye and the Zashiki-Warashi. There is a possibility that he may be able to return what was taken, but if he doesn't, I can at least return part of his sight."
"How?" Doumeki asked, gazing up at the moon hanging over the park. He hated these times he and Yuuko spent together, not because he disliked Yuuko herself, but because they always occurred whenever Watanuki was gone on his own and in danger of making even more meaningless sacrifices without anyone to stop him. If the Zashiki-Warashi was a captive, Watanuki might possibly offer too many important things for her release, and though Doumeki was not particularly attached to her, he did not wish the spirit to undergo the same anger and guilt he was currently battling with.
"You could offer half the sight in your eye. You will still be able to see fairly well, and it certainly can't be worse that having that web sealing your eye. Besides, the sentiment of Watanuki sharing a part of you is one I thought you might appreciate."
Doumeki regarded her levelly. "He would have to accept it."
"He would, but perhaps our Watanuki will emerge the wiser from what he undergoes tonight." Yuuko smiled enigmatically. "Although, perhaps this gift from you may be unnecessary. He could come back without either of his eyes, or perhaps short an arm or a leg. The owner of his eye has quite the appetite, and Watanuki is equally willing to hand himself over when maidens are in danger."
Doumeki clenched his fists.
"Did I upset you? You know this is the truth, but still you have chosen to love him. Does that make you a fool, too, I wonder?"
"That's never been in question," Doumeki grumbled. "And you can take it, if you want."
"Hm. But only if he will accept it."
"Naturally." Yuuko lifted her hand, drawing her power into Doumeki's eye and slowly taking from it. "Maybe he will learn at last when he has this. It's a very powerful thing to see something in the way that someone else sees."
And he will always have it, Doumeki thought, pressing his hand over his heart. No matter what happens, he won't have to die alone.
The next time Watanuki stopped by the temple, the patch was at last gone, replaced by a golden eye much like Doumeki's own. Watanuki said nothing and frowned fiercely as if he deliberately wanted it known that the subject would not be broached, but he did bring with him a considerably sizable bento, which was certainly filled with 'things he had made with leftovers that would have been thrown away if he didn't make something'. Doumeki joined in the silence, happy to follow along and have this difficult episode between them finished, at least for the time being.
When they were close to their school, Watanuki suddenly stopped in his tracks and ducked his head. "Thank you," he said stiffly in his softest voice. "And I'm... sorry."
Doumeki froze on his feet, his mouth twitching in surprise. "Oi, did you hit your head or something?"
"Watanuki." Doumeki bent forward a little, lifting Watanuki's chin so their eyes met. "Do you get it now?"
Watanuki's face turned pink as he grimaced in annoyance at being questioned so closely. "Maybe," he said. "Maybe a little."
"Good." Without hesitating, Doumeki leaned in and brushed their lips together briefly before pulling away. "So please at least think before you do something like that again, all right?"
Watanuki jerked away, clapping his hands over his mouth. "W-WHY DID YOU DO THAT? TAKE IT BACK!"
"No. It's mine to keep. And besides," he said, grabbing his bento from Watanuki's arm, "I thought you said you understood?"
"THAT ISN'T WHAT I MEANT, SO DON'T DECIDE THINGS FOR YOURSELF, YOU LOUSY JERK."
Doumeki shrugged and began examining his meal. Watanuki could protest all he liked, but still Doumeki would be content. Maybe he didn't understand things all the way or realize how much love Doumeki was truly harboring in his heart, but his words were enough for now, no matter how few he had spared. In the end, it was all right things had turned out this way. Even with the spider web gone from his eye, and part of Watanuki's eye gone forever, it was all right, in its own twisted way, that they both had a vision they now shared, a way of seeing eye to eye that would never go away, no matter what part of himself Watanuki gambled away with as time continued forward.