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In Any Other World, xxxHolic Side
By Memory Dragon
Warnings: Lots of action. Aka, Haruka-san kicks butt. But isn't he dead, you say? Yes, well, read on.
Disclaimer: I do not own Tsubasa or xxxHolic, nor do I make any claim to. Nor can I claim the lyrics from the song "Any Other World" by Mika. Just borrowing it, since it goes so well with the fic. Also, "The Lady of Shalott" is not mine... Though it is a beautiful poem. Look it up if you haven't read it already.


Tsubasa Side: Prologue Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 
xxxHolic Side: Prologue Chapter 1  Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4

Chapter Five: The Arrow

“Why?” Watanuki took a step back, feeling his eyes widen in shock. It was impossible. Doumeki had a pure soul, right? Besides, Doumeki was too bloody dense to pierce through and take control of his mind! More than any of those thoughts, however, one pounded through his skull more than any other.

Why did he feel so hurt and betrayed?

“Why did I do all of this?” Crowe asked as Watanuki’s hand feel from his cheek. “Certainly not for him. He really is too pure to be of any real use. But if I had him here, I knew I could draw out the rest of the delicious appetizer I got from that old hag. Besides, it was amusing and rather easy. Between the arrow I found to link me to his power and your face, it was a snap to trap this human in his own mind.”

Watanuki felt his chest restrict first with guilt, then with horror as he watched the crow man’s features melt and refashion itself until Crowe’s face mirrored his own. It rippled back to the mismatched man’s normal face after a few seconds, but it was creepy enough. “You... You brought him here to get at me?”

The man smiled his fake grin, not acknowledging the question out right. Watanuki knew the answer. His nails started to dig into the palms of his hands. “Mugetsu,” he said softly, so that his voice wouldn’t carry to Crowe’s ears. The fox’s ears leaned forward to show that it was listening. “I need you to distract Doumeki so that I can get closer. Can you do that?” A soft bark of an affirmative. “Thank you.”

The plan was only half way formed in his mind, but he knew that he needed to get closer. Watanuki placed his hand on Mugetsu’s flank once more for comfort.

He took off to the side of one of the trash mountains as fast as his small legs would carry him. An arrow of Doumeki’s energy flared just behind him. Another arrow breezed passed him seconds later, but now Mugetsu was creating a wall of fox fire between the archer and his prey.

Crow tried taking another shot at the child, but fox fire built another wall as Watanuki kept running. He could barely hear the man say “Che,” over the roar of the magical flames.

Watanuki tripped over some piece of junk (was that an old shoe? Disgusting) but managed to correct his balance before he hit the floor. He bit his lip as sharp pain of an arrow hit his already damaged left arm. Not sparing a moment to look and see how bad it was, Watanuki continued running.

He was forced to the side by another arrow. Watanuki hide behind one of the smaller mountains of rubbish to keep out of the line of fire. Pushing aside a china doll and pocket watch, Watanuki carefully peered out to assess the situation.

The mismatched man was no where in sight, but Mugetsu was battling furiously with a large crow that flew over head. Watanuki had to force himself to stay put as the crow made a dive for Mugetsu’s eyes. He had to trust the pipe fox would be okay.

Watanuki’s newest wound was only a deep graze. Added to his other shoulder injury, his whole arm now ached. The other scrapes and bruises he had gotten were nothing compared to this pain.

An arrow whizzed by his ear, reminding Watanuki of the main threat he had to worry about. The child ducked down and took a deep breath to calm his heart. Thus prepared, Watanuki darted to the next pile of junk ten meters to the right.

Mugetsu’s yelp of pain caused him to turn around, but an arrow brushed past his nose as he did so. Doumeki was still too far away! He’d never reach him in time if he was going to help Mugetsu.

There! Among the nearest pile of junk, Watanuki found something he could use. Diving as he grabbed the object in question, he made sure he was hidden before checking his surroundings.

The boy carefully checked all four wheels of the skate board before he tried standing on it. Nearly lost his balance too, as it started to move forward without his consent.

The triumphant caw of the crow steeled Watanuki’s nerves. He closed his eyes and pushed off the ground with one leg. He was making a beeline for the archer. It wasn’t nearly as hard as he thought it would be... He pushed off the ground again and adjusted his weight so he wouldn’t fall.

Watanuki grinned in pleasure. Not only was he covering much better distance, but this was actually pretty fun! Maybe he should try skate boarding when he-

His thoughts cut off abruptly as he saw Doumeki aiming right at him. “H-hey! How do I turn this thing?” he yelled to no one in particular. He tipped dangerously to the left as he tried in vain to get the skate board to turn. It was no longer fun.

He ducked just as the archer loosed the spirit arrow. It flew over his head harmlessly, but the skateboard was now dangerously over balanced. Watanuki cried out as it tipped over and he landed on his bad arm.

The skate board fell uselessly off to the side as one of the wheels rolled off. Watanuki pushed himself up with his good arm, drawing blood from his lip as he tried to keep from screaming again. The pain raced up his left arm and he had to remind himself the cuts weren’t nearly as bad as they felt.

The copper taste in Watanuki’s mouth chilled with fear when he saw the archer looming over him with his bow drawn. “D-Doumeki...” he stammered out, trying to move backwards. He had wanted to get closer, but this was apparently too close. His back hit one of the junk heaps after a meter, his heart pounding as Doumeki took aim.

The room became silent as they stared at each other. Truthfully, he hadn’t thought about what he would do after he got to Doumeki. In movies, this was when the controlled party would be unable to shoot and partially wake up from the mind trick being played. Nothing in Doumeki’s eyes looked like he was conscious however.

Watanuki’s mouth was dry. His eyes lingered on the arrow’s tip as he tried to swallow. At this range, it would be impossible to dodge. “Come on, you jerk,” he said hoarsely, his childish voice ringing through the room. “D-don’t shoot.”

“I told you, he can’t hear you.” Crowe said, suddenly right next to Watanuki. The child jumped back in surprise. The mismatched man’s arm was dangling by his side, useless because of a deep wound. There was also a long scratch over his right eye that continued to bled, but the man still smiled at Watanuki’s shock.

If he was here then... “Mugetsu!” he cried out, looking around frantically. The pipe fox appeared at his left side, relatively unharmed but with a slight limp. It nuzzled his good cheek with encouragement. Watanuki hugged the fox around the neck, grateful that it wasn’t to badly hurt.

“Pesky creature, that one,” Crowe said testily. But he was paying more attention to the archer. “Well, what’s with you? Shoot!”

Doumeki was as still as a statue. Hope filled Watanuki’s chest the longer the archer didn’t move. The hope was replaced just as quickly by anger. “Hey! You’re supposed to show that you’re hesitating, not just stand there and scare me half to death!”

The mismatched man sighed in defeat. Watanuki scrambled to his feet and stood next to Mugetsu, anger at the crow man and annoyance at Doumeki fueling his body with more energy. Crowe shook his head and tsked softly. “You really should have come in another week or so. It seems he still has enough power to refuse shooting you.”

He was suddenly very glad that Yuuko had sent him right then and there, instead of waiting like he had wanted. One thing he noticed about the spirit world was that time always moved faster there. Not that he would thank her for it, but any longer and Doumeki might have...

“Ah, well. He’s still got a bit of use left in him. Catch.”

“Wait!” he cried out as Crowe threw a dagger straight at Doumeki. He started to run forward, but Mugetsu held him back. The archer caught the blade easily, and Watanuki was almost annoyed at how relieved he felt. It was too short lived for him to dwell on it for long, however. Doumeki put the dagger up to his own throat. “What are you doing, idiot!”

“You must understand. I abhor shedding blood myself,” Crowe said as he walked up to Doumeki’s side. In his good hand, he held a real arrow and twirled it absentmindedly. “Now, why don’t you be a good little boy and come along quietly. I might even let this boy and the fox live if you do.”

He felt, rather than heard the low growling emanating from Mugetsu’s throat. Watanuki’s eyes never left the spinning arrow. It made him feel dizzy and a little light headed. “Well, boy? What do you say? Do hurry up with your choice, since that knife does look sharp.”

“You promise they won’t get hurt?” he heard his own voice say as blood started to trickle down Doumeki’s neck. Mugetsu barked in protest. “No, Mugetsu. It’s alright this time.” He turned back to the mismatched man, staring defiantly at him. “You promise?”

“I give you my solemn pledge that they will be left unharmed. Well, as long as they both go quietly.”

That didn’t sound very promising. He knew neither Doumeki or Mugetsu would ‘go quietly.’ But if this worked... “Alright.”

Watanuki took a step forward, but the pipe fox pushed itself in the way. “Mugetsu!” It whined softly as it stepped back. “I’m sorry for yelling. Just let me do this, okay?” he pleaded gently, hoping it would believe in the changes that had taken place in Watanuki since the last time he had offered such an exchange.

It stepped aside slowly, head bowed. “Now, that’s a good little beastie. Keep that fire of yours to yourself.” Watanuki glared up at Crowe for talking to Mugetsu like that, but closed the distance between him and the mismatched man. He held his left arm so that he looked more hurt than he felt. Greed filled the man’s eyes as he reached out to touch Watanuki.

At the last second, Watanuki ducked under the man’s arm and grabbed hold of the arrow. Crowe was startled but didn’t let go. He tried to pull it free of the now claw like grasp. When that didn’t work, he started kicking and screaming. “Mugetsu! Help! Doumeki, you idiot! Wake up right now or I’ll never make you another lunch again, no matter what!”

The mismatched man had much more strength than a little boy. He easily threw Watanuki up against one piles of junk. He let go of the arrow in favor of trying to keep himself from being crushed as the trash toppled down from the force of the impact. Mugetsu pulled him out of the landslide’s way just in time.

“You little brat! He dies for-” Crowe cut off quickly. Watanuki looked up, surprised to see Doumeki with the dagger now at the other man’s throat. “No, I still have the arrow! How...”

Doumeki smiled. It was an expression so unlike Doumeki’s usual dead pan face. Even the occasional smirk when he had when he thought no one was watching was much different. Watanuki’s brain nearly over loaded. This wasn’t Doumeki’s smile. It was...

“Yes, that arrow does control my grandson. But I’m afraid it doesn’t work on the possessing spirit of an old man.” Doumeki said, with a slightly teasing tone. He moved the dagger closer to Crowe’s neck as the man tried to struggle. “Give back what you’ve taken. It’s your only chance to get out of this alive.”

“Haruka-san?”

Crowe changed into his bird form, rippling in a sickening way. He slipped out of Doumeki’s grasp and flew off with the arrow still in toe. The bird landed a top one of the higher piles of random memorabilia and cawed angrily from it’s position. The armored warriors from the first floor answered its call. They materialized endlessly from the piles of trash, surrounding them easily.

Doumeki helped the child to his feet and ruffled his hair fondly. “Careful now. When you touched the arrow earlier, I was able to get in. But Shizuka will be hurt if I stay in this body for too long. You’ve got to get that arrow back.”

Watanuki nodded, moving closer to Doumeki as he hugged Mugetsu in an nonverbal apology for making it worry. Haruka threw the dagger at one of the samurai armors before stringing Doumeki’s bow with an energy arrow. The archer started taking down the possessed armors with arrows.

Mugetsu sprang into action, leaping at the crow. It cawed in frustration, flapping about wildly. Watanuki looked around him for something useful. There was one good thing to all these piles of junk. There was no end of potential projectiles. Dodging between the legs of one suit of armor, Watanuki grabbed for a baseball from one of the junk piles.

He watched the crow, waiting for a chance to strike. One of the samurai armors tried to grab him, but Haruka took care of that problem. Mugetsu leaped at the crow again, distracting it while throwing fox fire around. The crow now couldn’t find any place to land. While the bird’s attention was on avoiding Mugetsu’s teeth, Watanuki launched the baseball at the bird’s feet.

The child let out a cheer as the arrow was knocked out of the crow’s claws. Several of the armored samurai disappeared as the crow lost its balance. Mugetsu jumped through the fox fire and caught the arrow before it hit the floor, snapping it in two with its powerful jaws.

The terrified crow only had time to utter one last caw before Haruka loosed the shot that pierced through its heart. The bird was killed instantly.

The fox fire died down to nothing as Watanuki turned to thank Haruka for helping. All he saw was Doumeki falling to the ground. “Doumeki!” He raced over and tried to turn his best friend over so that he was on his back. It was hard work for a child of 6 who was fairly skinny to begin with. “Hey, wake up! Hey!!”

Mugetsu whined at his side, nuzzling his good shoulder affectionately. “He’s alright then?” A tired bark of affirmative. Watanuki felt his anger rising, but was too tired to rant. Adrenaline was already receding from his blood. “Idiot,” was what he finally settled for. “Stop making people worry.”

The pipe fox yawned and curled up by the wall, preparing to sleep. “We can’t...” - A yawn of his own interrupted - “sleep here, can we?”

Completely ignoring its favorite human for once, Mugetsu closed its eyes and laid its head on its paws. Watanuki gave up. He couldn’t carry Doumeki on his own or Mugetsu in this size, much less both of them. Besides, he was bloody and tired and was bound to have a ton of bruises in the morning. “It was almost night time when we left... I wonder what time it is now? Didn’t get a lot of sleep last night either...”

But he had two things he needed to get done before he could sleep. First, get some bandages so that he didn’t die of blood loss. Watanuki also had to make sure Doumeki was back to normal...


~TBC~
-To Tsubasa side

The quote of the chapter: I think this one would be Mugetsu's reaction to Watanuki if he could talk. XD And as an added plus, it's from my favourite epic poem.

"There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep."
-Homer, The Odyssey