Rai: Yay! My first fic! This will be the premise for any self-insert stories I write in the future. I like stories where people who watch anime interact with characters that they know. For me, I'd rather not have a mysterious accident transport me to a world though, so I came up with this instead. Thank you, Hin for being my editor! It would have been a lot worse without you.
Hin: You're welcome, but you started the whole thing...so literally none of it would've have happened without you.
Rai: …I suppose that's true. Still, I appreciate you pointing out my mistakes. Anyway, I do not own xxxHolic or Okami. I just borrow the characters when I want them to do something for me.
A girl walked slowly on the sidewalk, her dark blue eyes unfocused as her mind wandered and her shoulder-length brown hair being pulled by the wind. She hadn't really planned on going for a walk, but her mother said that "getting out of the house would be a nice change". Having nothing better to do, the girl had obliged, setting aside a video game she had beaten six times already. Promising to be back before dinner, she began her stroll. It had been good at first. The sun was high in the sky, warming her back while the chilly winter air hovered around her. Now, the sun was falling further in the sky and the wind started to feel cold.
I wonder if I should head back…, she pondered. Glancing at her watch, she decided to continue for a bit longer. A few minutes later, the girl sighed deeply. Why does life have to be so boring? I know there's the saying that says "be careful what you wish for" but…
"I would be willing to pay any price to have my wish granted," she said aloud. Suddenly, a voice came from her right.
"Is that right? Well then, would you like to put that resolve to the test?"
Resisting the urge to jump at the unexpected sound, the girl turned to the source of the question. She found herself staring at a pale Oriental woman with long black hair and… were those red eyes? Deciding that it might just be the light from the setting sun, she continued to examine the stranger. She wore a long-sleeved, dark purple shirt that was just shy of falling off of her shoulders. The girl noticed that the sleeves flared out and had a black butterfly pattern around the edge. The legs of her black pants also flared out just over a pair of high heels of the same color. There was a pendant around her neck, small silver lines forming an intricate butterfly with amethysts set into the corners of the wings. The woman looked normal, if one didn't focus on the eyes, but something about her seemed familiar to the girl.
"Are you going to answer or just stand there eyeing me all night? Unless you really don't want your wish granted…" she said, giving the younger person time to process what she had said.
The girl snapped back to reality. "Oh, sorry! I certainly wouldn't mind getting my wish fulfilled…and sorry if this seems rude but do I know you?"
"I'm sure we haven't. I tend to remember those who come and ask for my help. Follow me to my shop and I'll see what I can do for you." Upon answering, she began to walk forward at a quick pace. The girl hurried to keep up. The nagging feeling of familiarity still pestered her and she was trying to find out where she knew this tall woman from when the subject of her thoughts came to a sudden stop. The girl looked around and realized that they were standing in front of the lot for a construction project that had been delayed. She had never been one to try and guess what was being built, so she never really paid any attention to unfinished structure. Just when she was about to ask what they were doing here, the woman waltzed over to one of the walls and disappeared around the other side. Soon afterward, sounds could be heard that indicated something was being moved.
"Ummm…miss? I don't think that you should really be messing…with…any..thing…" the girl's voice trailed off as she came around the corner and her eyes widened. There was a sheet of metal that looked to have been recently dragged along the ground and the long-haired woman stood next to it with a mysterious smile on her face. That wasn't what left the girl trying to find her voice. It was the multicolored hole that seemed to be without end on the wall. If it were possible, her eyes would have gotten wider when the person who had led her stepped through the hole and looked to be standing on nothing.
"Well, are you coming?"
Still mute, the girl just nodded and stepped in front of the entrance. She gulped and tentatively picked up a foot and placed it on the invisible path. When she found that it seemed stable she let out a breath that she hadn't been aware she was holding. Seeing that the woman had already continued forward, she began to follow. Now that the apprehension had faded, the other nagging feeling returned, with more force than earlier.
Why do I feel like I should know what's going on? she wondered, building up the courage to take her eyes off the figure ahead of her to look around. The many colors surrounding her shone with an ethereal light that moved and twisted around like a living thing. It looked a lot like…
"An aurora…," she voiced. The woman laughed lightly and turned to look at the follower. "Well, this is called the Aurora Path. What else would you expect? I use it when I need to leave my shop to do my job."
Aurora Path? Hadn't she heard that somewhere before? The girl's eyes narrowed as she searched through her memories for the term. She had just come to a shocking realization when the woman announced that they had arrived at her shop.
~ . ~ o ~ O ~ o ~ . ~
The girl stood in front of who she now recognized as Yuuko Ichihara. The witch was currently lounging on a couch, much like she had been doing when she first met with the boy currently working in her shop.
Strange…I thought she met with clients at a table and served tea. Why am I so special? Looking around, the girl noticed with some surprise that there was no one else in the room and she didn't hear anything from the hallway. Yuuko must have noticed her questioning glance around the room because she said "Maru and Moro are sleeping. Mokona went with Watanuki to do something for me. I thought it would be best to discuss your wish alone, because it is not the type I normally grant." The girl looked sheepish.
"It is a selfish wish. Actually, I did want to ask why you would grant it…Oh! I forgot that I haven't introduced myself yet. I'm pretty sure you already know my name, but it still feels weird to have not said anything. You can call me Rai."
Yuuko acknowledged her statement with a nod. "And as you already know, I am Yuuko Ichihara, known to many as the Space-Time Witch. To answer your question, you will be, for lack of a better word, a guinea pig. I have granted wishes that fall under parts of what you want, but never all at once for one person. You not only desire the ability to willingly travel to different worlds, but you essentially wish to have godlike powers to affect the worlds you visit. There are others who wish for similar powers, though. There are certain reasons I'm offering to grant your wish specifically."
"One," she held up one finger as she began to list off the reasons, "You are childish and have fairly good morals. I don't have to worry much about what you might do to those you know in another world. Two, you have plans in mind to set limits on yourself so that you would not completely abuse your power. And three, you do not want to change the worlds' fate. You will not make any huge changes to any of the worlds you go to because you wish to preserve their 'story'." Yuuko looked at her hand sadly as she said the last. Then she put her hand back at her side and continued. "These are why I chose to grant your wish, but they are also conditions. You must promise to use them as guidelines before I go any further. Though, the first one was more of an observation than something you can refer to as a rule."
"Yeah, but I can understand what you mean by it. I have friends who…um...well let's just say it would be a bad idea for them to be alone with some of the people they like. Or dislike for that matter. I would hate to see what they'd do…" Rai shuddered at the thought. "Anyway, yes, I promise to use your reasons as guidelines if my wish can be granted."
"Very well, now to discuss the price." Yuuko sat up and crossed one leg over the other as she gave an appraising look at Rai, who now began to feel nervous and was shifting her weight from one leg to the other. "You do realize that such a wish will require more than just the material possession you value the most, correct?" The girl in front of her nodded. That had been the price Syaoran and the others had paid just for the ability to travel through worlds at random.
"So, what is the price?" Rai asked, hundreds of possibilities flying through her head.
"Your current life in this world," Yuuko answered gravely. Upon seeing the confused look on Rai's face, she clarified, "No one in this world will have any memory of you. Anyone you've worked with, friends, and family will forget you ever existed. And of course any material evidence will disappear as well. You can continue to live in this world, but you will not have a past. Your name will be as good as an alias. Do you still want your wish granted?"
Well, it wasn't the worst thing I thought of. Rai thought. She had already considered the consequences beforehand, if this was the price. If she declined the offer, she would have a dull life that could offer security and support. If she accepted, she could live the life of adventure she'd always wanted, but with nothing to fall back on but herself and the possibility of loneliness. She might regret her decision later but…
"What do I need to do?"
~ . ~ o ~ O ~ o ~ . ~
Rai examined the blue markings Yuuko had drawn on her arms, legs, stomach, and back. Thankfully, she had a short tank top and some shorts on underneath the heavier clothes she'd worn on her walk. Without them, her embarrassment would have been a lot worse.
"I just have to wash these off in that pond?" Rai asked, pointing to a small pool of cloudy water that sat in the corner of the fence in the shop's backyard. "That seems a bit too easy…"
Yuuko smiled. "You sound disappointed. I never said that the price would be physically difficult to pay, though I will say that the pond, the markings, and the ink they are made of are far from ordinary. The ink connects to the realm of memories and the patterns tie all of those who know you together. The water would be harder to explain, but just know that only it will remove the markings and the memories attached. You will still remember, but those that they are connected to will not. Once they are gone, a friend and I will give you the powers that you wished for. What you do with them afterward will be up to you."
She turned and went back inside the shop, leaving Rai without any choice but to go over and get into the pond. Surprisingly, the water wasn't the least bit cold. After she thought about it for a second, Rai hadn't been cold at all since arriving at Yuuko's. She didn't think about it too hard though. After all, logic has no place where magic and the supernatural were involved. She also noticed that there was a full moon in the sky, which wasn't supposed to be up in America, much less Japan.
Rai experimentally rubbed at the markings on her legs with a finger. The marks disappeared without a trace, as if she had just erased a line on a dry erase board. 'It's kinda scary, how easy it is to erase your existence," she thought, now using both hands to wash off the blue lines. She finished with her legs, then erased the patterns on her arms, stomach, and then back. Just as she was making a final sweep of her back to get rid of any stray marks, Rai heard a rustling from behind her. She turned around and came face to face with something she least expected. Well, more like face to muzzle, as the 'thing' before her was a white wolf. The creature startled Rai but it didn't scare her because, unlike with Yuuko, she recognized who this was as soon as she caught sight of crimson patterns on its fur.
"So Ammy, are you the friend Yuuko mentioned earlier? The one who will help her grant my wish?" Okami Amaterasu barked in affirmation. Well, her presence would explain the moon. A few moments later, Yuuko appeared in her Space-Time Witch outfit she wore when she met with Syaoran and the others. In her hand, she held a fan that looked like the one she'd received from the Tengu, but its colors and markings resembled Ammy's.
"Shall we begin?"
After receiving a nod from Ammy, Yuuko raised the fan and held it above her head. The moon began to glow brighter. Ammy firmly planted her paws on the ground and issued a long, low howl. Suddenly, a pillar of light surrounded Rai. It startled her, but nothing seemed to be happening and she didn't feel any different. As the howl started to die down, Yuuko raised the fan up a bit higher before swinging it down in front of her. This time, Rai did feel something. A great weight forced her down into the water, then immediately vanished. It wasn't the only thing that disappeared though…
"Yuuko! Why are my clothes gone?!" Rai shouted as soon as her head came out of the water. She didn't come up any further than her neck and her face was pink. The moon was gone and the sun was shining at what she guessed to be the appropriate height in the sky.
"Didn't I tell you that any material evidence would also be erased? Besides, now that you have had your wish granted, you can make your own clothes, can't you?" Yuuko laughed as Rai blushed harder and muttered something that sounded like 'Still would have been nice to have warning' and 'I knew that'. After a few seconds, she came out of the water in a red t-shirt and black pants. It wasn't until she had walked up to the shop that she noticed a certain wolf was no longer with them. She turned to look at Yuuko and asked where Ammy had gone.
"Oh, she went back to the Celestial Plain. It will take some time to return it to its former glory and Amaterasu has been very busy getting rid of the demons that have settled there. Actually, granting your wish was probably like a vacation of sorts for her. Maybe you could go and give her some aid one day, to say thank you?" Rai nodded as they walked down the hall.
"Of course. As my benefactor, I should do at least that much for her. I might see if I could connect her with her son as well…"
They stopped when they reached the front door. "Well, so long as you remember, it doesn't have to be soon. On that note, what will you do now?" Rai smiled and replied, "I'm not sure in the grand scheme of things. However, right now, before I have the chance to regret paying the price, I would like to thank you. Thank you for giving me a chance to experience what I could only dream about. I hope I can see you again, Yuuko." With that, she turned and walked out the door, leaving witch watching her sadly as she left. Just as Rai passed the front gateway, Watanuki appeared carrying a bag of various sake bottles. He glanced questioningly at the girl before coming into the shop and closing the door behind him.
"You had a customer? Wait a minute…," he looked at his employer suspiciously, "...would that have anything to do with why you told me to walk to a store that was ten miles away to get you and Mokona sake? And why Mokona decided to wait until after we were in the store to decide what kinds of sake to get?"
Yuuko grinned at him. "Of course not! I just happen to like that store's sake and thought you needed to get more exercise. Right, Mokona?" she replied as a black form poked its head out of an over-the-shoulder bag hanging on Watanuki's shoulder. "Right!" Mokona agreed, hopping over to Yuuko. Watanuki sighed and carried the drinks into the kitchen.
"Oh Yuuko, there was something else I wanted to ask."
"Go ahead. And maybe while you're in there you could-"
"No! It is way too early to be drinking!" Watnuki cut in, anticipating what she would suggest, "Did you notice the sky get darker earlier? I would have almost sworn it was night, but no one else around me seemed to act any differently."
"…No, I didn't notice anything. Maybe it was your imagination. But come now, surely one bottle wouldn't be too bad."
"Mokona wants some too!"
"I said no!"