Author: Myself, Kendra, sic_re_vera
Rating: PG (for mild violence)
Notes: I took liberties with Doumeki and Watanuki’s pasts. I took liberties with the magical laws that rule xxxholic-verse. I took liberties with the perspective I was writing for. I took a lot of liberties in general, but against all odds the finished product pleases me slightly, even if the writing isn’t my best. Oh, and it's supposed to be multiple chapters (I'm guessing probably four)
Summary: If you only look for so long, if you can't touch, then it adoration leads to infatuation, which leads to fanaticism, and as we we all know, fanaticism is very dangerous.
Someone watches from far away, chidish fascination becoming something much more lethal, something Doumeki and Watanuki will find out the hard way.
In later days Doumeki would be told, in no uncertain terms, that it hadn’t been intentional. That Watanuki’s deliberate positioning of his svelte body between the jagged stone tip of the arrow and Doumeki hadn’t been deliberate at all, but some sort of freak accident. Later on, Doumeki wouldn’t buy that excuse, no matter how many times it was snapped at him irritably from a bed-ridden Watanuki who slumped lazily against a cold, clinical, painfully impersonal hospital wall, his left arm hanging limp by his side. Later on they would be able to look back and argue about what had happened, who should have been sacrificed and who had been impossibly stupid. Later on, it wouldn’t seem like that big of a deal, but that would be later on. Right now was a different story.
The body slumped against his own was warm, and limp. Perplexed, Doumeki’s amber eyes focused blankly on Watanuki’s mussed, sable hair; he was lost in the moment. Slowly he replayed Watanuki’s panicked movements in his mind: a frantic cry, three quick, pounding steps in rapid succession, and then a sharp intake of breath. That’s all there had been, the only warning, and then Watanuki had been falling backwards, an arrow with ancient fletching protruding from his chest like some sort of morbid corsage.
For a moment time seemed to have ceased in its inexorable march forward. Slowly, Doumeki’s long arm snaked out, moving through air that seemed to have the viscosity of congealed blood. One by one long, lithe fingers curled around the other boy’s waist, gentle yet firm as he strained to break Watanuki’s fall. The sylphlike boy let a infinitesimal, involuntary gasp as his pierced right shoulder collided forcefully with Doumeki’s chest.
It was like fire, Watanuki noted distantly as pain of the wound flared up again. He could almost feel the flickering flames writhing through his veins, carelessly searing tender muscle and tissue. Panicked, his gaze flickered over to the wound, where icy azure eyes informed him that he wasn’t burning, that he hadn’t been set aflame by archaic arrow protruding from his shoulder. Almost refusing to believe it, pale, slender fingers squirmed at his side, and his hand meandered up to the source of the flame, where gently, ever so gentle, a delicate finger tip brushed the shaft of the arrow. The thing, in itself, was frigid compared to the blistering pain that seared through the rest of his body.
The arms around his waist tightened, and words floated through the air. “What are you doing, idiot?” they asked as another hand brusquely knocked his own question appendage away from the wound. Watanuki thought he recognized the voice, or he recognized the tone at least. What was unfamiliar about the voice were the emotions in it. Anxiety, he thought. Anxiety and anger and…fear perhaps? Yes, that sounded about right. Watanuki recognized those emotions, could recall them with bitter clarity in the familiar tones of his parents voices. That time, their words had been charged with those emotions: anxiety, anger and fear. They were the emotions that spoke of one, horribly dreadful thing: self-sacrifice, and now those emotions were there, painful obvious, in Doumeki’s normally perfectly bland voice. Disorienting, in the least.
Watanuki twisted his head around and was rewarded with another fresh stab of pain, and he felt his consciousness begin to slip away. He had to scrabble desperately for coherency, had to fight to keep his head inclined far enough for tawny eyes to meet his enraged cobalt ones.
“I don’t need your protection,” he gasped out, his voice sounding wretched and tortured even to his own ears. Watanuki didn’t even want to speculate how his words might sound to Doumeki. That could be cleared up later, right now he had to make it clear, perfectly clear, that Doumeki was unnecessary, that the sacrifice the emotions in his voice spoke of were unwanted. “I’m perfectly fine.”
Doumeki’s expressionless stare traveled downward to the arrow protruding out of Watanuki’s chest and then back to Watanuki’s furious eyes. “What are we up against?” he asked, blandly changing the subject, all traces of the previous emotions gone from his quiet voice. Watanuki felt, more than saw, Doumeki’s hand brush up against his cheek, tenderly training his vision back towards the creature which was, to him, invisible.
Watanuki took in a shuddering breath, even that diminutive movement causing agony to course through his body. He bit back a whimper and forced his eyes to focus on the thing in front of him. He had to squint, but slowly the overlapping images solidified into a single, almost tangible entity: a red hakama, a white haori, features that weren’t quite those of a child, but neither those of a grown woman, dark eyes which were augers, boring into his very being, a full, sensitive mouth drawn into a delicate frown of distaste, an antiquated long bow held professionally in ashen hands, drawn taut and aimed at…
“Doumeki,” he croaked as the darkness at the edge of his vision crept in further. “Doumeki, she’s aiming for…”
Crimson lips twitched from a frown to a satisfied smirk as she let the arrow fly straight towards Doumeki’s exposed side. Watanuki knew that Doumeki could have easily avoided the shot, if the other boy hadn’t been burdened by his wounded body. At this rate the arrow would piece Doumeki’s side, and they would both end up severely wounded. At this rate Doumeki would be wounded because of him, be sacrificed for him.
…sacrifice. It wasn’t that Watanuki was bothered at the thought of being saved. Being saved by others didn’t hurt his pride, it didn’t lessen his opinion of himself, it didn’t make him feel pathetic. He didn’t mind asking for help, or guidance, or advice; none of that was a problem. It was just sacrifice. He didn’t like seeing people throw themselves away for him. He wasn’t sure why, if he thought he didn’t deserve it, or just that his life didn’t take precedence over someone else’s, but it was that way, and he wasn’t going to let Doumeki, of all people, be a sacrifice for him.
Maneuvering his body was easier than he had thought. Doumeki was so fixed on trying to locate the attacker that he didn’t even notice the slight, careful shift of Watanuki’s weight. The arrow hit with brutal vigor, and Watanuki couldn’t help but cry out as another sensation of burning pain exploded in his side. His head snapped back anguished frenzy, and for a moment he met saffron eyes brimming with violent passion, then the ebon shadows which had been lingering at the corners of his vision, slowly encroaching upon his conscious mind, took over, and his world became dank and painless.
Doumeki’s eyes shot to the second arrow, which protruded a little bit below the first, more towards the left, nestled snugly beside where Watanuki’s heart should be. He had taken the arrow for him, Doumeki knew, just as he knew Watanuki would have denied doing anything for Doumeki, especially taking a hit like that for him. The mere thought of Watanuki compromising his already fragile state just to save him a little pain, in fact…
…that thought made him furious.
Slowly he felt it unravel, the numbness that been part of his being for as long as he could remember. The isolation he had lived in up until now hadn’t been self-imposed, and it hadn’t been forced upon him by others, it was simply the way he was; distant. To him, there weren’t many things that mattered, and there weren’t many things that bothered him. To him, feelings of panic and anger were unfamiliar, alien occurrences almost beyond his comprehension. Up until…now, up until Watanuki, his life had been devoid of conflict. He had been at peace with himself, and at peace with his surroundings. There hadn’t been a need for anything more, to feel anything more, so he simply hadn’t.
…and when it came down to it, Doumeki was a creature of need rather than want. He did was needed to be done, and he did it by himself. He paid for the consequences of his own actions, and didn’t expect sympathy from fate. His grandfather had taught him that: need over want, and he had lived by that creed, or done his best by it.
…until Watanuki, and then he started doing things that had nothing to do with need and much more to do with want. He wanted to help Watanuki, he wanted to be with Watanuki, and right now, more than anything, he wanted Watanuki to live, and the possibility of that was rapidly growing increasingly diminished.
Watanuki’s expression was sallow, his breaths coming in uneven, forceful bursts. Doumeki shifted the body in his arms, and felt a pang of alarm as warm, scarlet blood oozed out from the lower wound, coating his arm in thick, incarnadine liquid.
Warp and weft, he felt it slowly unravel, stilted and halting at first, and then smoother, more fluidly; faster. Weft and warp, warp and weft, over and over again until he felt a rage so powerful in his mind that breathing became difficult. Slowly he let Watanuki slump limply on the ground, doing his best to make the transfer almost imperceptible. He took one final, good look at the boy before he righted himself and drew his longbow.
“Are you sure you want to do that?” The sultry purr came from behind him, a sensual feminine voice that he had gotten to know very well as of late.
“Why wouldn’t I?” he demanded of Yuuko through gritted teeth. He did not turn to look at her, he did not loosen his grip on the tightly drawn string of the bow, but he did prepare himself to listen. Listening was always important, and was always useful.
“How many times do you think she’ll miss? Watanuki’s not going to be there to take the next hit,” Yuuko murmured quietly, her tone almost musing. “Besides, how do you expect to hit something you can’t see?”
“And what else am I supposed to do?” Doumeki grated out in carefully controlled sentences, aware that each moment that slipped by could mean life or death for Watanuki, for his…what? Friend? Enemy? Acquaintance? He didn’t know exactly what Watanuki was to him, or he wasn’t willing to admit what Watanuki was to him. He knew, though, that he was attached to the excitable boy with the cerulean eyes; that he was, maybe, just maybe, attracted.
Yuuko would have called it Hitsuzen. Doumeki might have too, if he had known the word, or thought to use it.
A whisper of silk against silk told him that Yuuko was moving, ever so slightly. “I can take care of her, for a price,” she told him, whispering softly into his ear.
Amber eyes which had been focused on the empty hallway in front of him darted back to stare at the lithe woman who stood at his back, arms akimbo. Slowly he appraised her, question, wondering, weighing his options. His eyes shot down to Watanuki, and he felt a renewed flash of panic travel through his mind. Loosing that much blood wasn’t healthy, and she did have a point: he had no idea how he would hit something he couldn’t see. “Fine, do it,” he said, the slightest tremor of emotion entering his voice. Normally he would have told her that he didn’t need her help. Normally someone’s life, Watanuki’s life, wasn’t hanging on the line.
Yuuko grinned at him, an expression that clearly said ‘good boy,’ before gliding past him in a soft whisper of crimson silk. Doumeki watched her for a minute before a muted groan came from the wan boy lying at his feet. His focus was immediately drawn downwards. Dark lashes flicked up, unveiling blue eyes dulled with pain. Doumeki just watched from where he stood, never taking his eyes off the other boy, not moving to help, not moving to comfort him, merely watching, as was his nature. He was sure no one noticed the hands at his side, one clenched tight around his bow, the other clenched even more tightly into a fist. He was sure, also, that no one noticed the teeth he ground mercilessly together with impatience, or the panic written in every inch of his body, in the tautness of his broad shoulders, or in the bland expressions of his face.
Well, Yuuko might have noticed, but Doumeki suspected Yuuko knew everything he felt anyway, and probably before he felt it as well. What mattered was that Watanuki didn’t know that he worried about him. That Watanuki didn’t know that the thought of Watanuki disappearing from Doumeki’s world forever was possibly the most frightening thought that had ever occurred to him.
“Well, that was easier than I suspected,” Yuuko told him as she sauntered past him. “Go ahead, pick him up. He’ll bleed to death if we leave him here.”
Doumeki tenderly shifted the body into his arms with as he felt a strange sort of relief wash over him. Briefly he wondered why he felt such relief, but he quickly shoved it to the back of his mind. There were more important things to which he needed to tend.