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In Any Other World, xxxHolic Side
By Memory Dragon
Warnings: I repeat, this is not yaoi. So as much as you might want me to make this next scene into something more, it ain't gonna happen. It's still plenty fun though. XD
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 Chapter 6
xxxHolic Side: Prologue Chapter 1  Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5

Chapter Six: Sharing

So I smile and try to mean it
And let myself let go...

Doumeki woke with the kind of headache that generally only had one cause: Watanuki. It left him unable to remember clearly any of what had happened, though he distinctly remembered something being wrong with Watanuki’s face...

Forcing his eyes open slowly, the first thing he saw was the object of the aforementioned headache in profile. But why was Watanuki a child? His dull and addled brain told him there was a reason, even if he couldn’t remember it. Possibly something to do with this headache. So he pushed that thought aside and tried to focus more on the be-speckled child. Maybe he could find an answer there.

They were in an unfamiliar place, that much was certain. There was junk all around. Watanuki was leaning against a wall with his legs curled up against his chest, as far away from the junk as he could get.. He looked dejected and exhausted, staring at something black and fuzzy that he held in his hands. “A feather?”

The sound of his voice surprised both of them. Watanuki hadn’t realized the archer was awake and Doumeki was mildly surprised at how dry his voice sounded. When was the last time he had anything to drink? He forced a gulp down in an attempt to naturally moisturize his throat.

Well, Watanuki didn’t seem to want to move. After his initial surprise, the child had gone back to staring at the feather. Doumeki tried sitting up. Emphasis on tried. Because it was around this time that Doumeki found he no longer had the use of his arms. Someone had tied them behind his back. Not too tight so that it would hurt, but very securely. Closer inspection also proved his feet were bound as well with what looked like an old rope. Whatever it was keeping his hands back didn’t feel like rope, however...

Back on the ground since his attempt failed, he threw an upside down glance at the child. “Oi. Why am I tied up?”

“My name isn’t ‘Oi,’ for one thing. You’re tied up because I didn’t know if you would wake up and attack me, you moron.” Watanuki’s usual energy was lacking, almost as if he was fighting to keep his eyes open. But the statement had an odd ring to it that Doumeki didn’t quite understand.

Curiosity got the better of him. “Why would I attack you?”

That mustered up a little energy from Watanuki. He openly gaped, letting his legs slide out to the ground. “You mean, you don’t remember anything that happened?”

Doumeki paused for a few moments. Unfamiliar place. Watanuki in a child’s body. Absolutely no idea of how any of that happened, though he felt something tugging at his memory. “Not at the moment, no,” he settled on saying. If only his headache would clear out he might be able to remember some things.

Watanuki leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes. He laughed, a mixture of child-like sound and world-weary tone that was disconcerting to Doumeki. He had expected a more annoyed response. “It’s probably better that way.” If anything, the child sounded... relieved?

Mugetsu whined softly in its sleep. Watanuki reached out to pet it gently as it slept by his side. Exhaustion had been an understatement, Doumeki decided. Just what was it he couldn’t remember?

Not caring if it was undignified, Doumeki wiggled his way into a sitting position. He never really cared for appearances anyway. Now that he was sitting, the boy from the shrine surveyed the room with an impassive face.

Yes, it was certain. He had never seen this room before. Heaps of junk with an assortment of trash and valuables were littered every where. Though, both himself and the child were sitting in places devoid of fallen objects. Watanuki probably had a hand in that. There were windows higher up, but in his current position sitting down Doumeki couldn’t see what was on the other side of them. Sunlight did show through, so he assumed they were at least safe from some of the nastier spirits that attacked at night.

What did catch his eye was a small dead black bird a little ways off. A crow or a raven, Doumeki couldn’t tell. The area it was in was also devoid of junk. Regardless, it wasn’t a threat at the moment, so he re-focused his attention on the reason for the pounding in his skull.

Watanuki was back in his original position, twirling a black feather (from that bird?) in his hands. He was curled up and looking anywhere but the dead bird in question. What surprised Doumeki was how many cuts and bruises the child had. Watanuki’s tiny arms and legs looked like they had been through a shredder and then dyed black and blue. Even the child’s face was dirty. His glasses askew and leaves in his hair proving Watanuki had gone through some sort of adventure to get here.

The worst of the injuries was on the shoulder Doumeki had a clear view of. It was bandaged sloppily with some sort of strange fabric, probably found somewhere in the junk heap. Mugetsu also sported a much neater version of the make-shift band-aids on one of his front legs.

Just what had he forgotten? ‘It’s probably better that way,’ Watanuki’s child-like voice rang through his slowly clearing head. Doumeki tried shaking his head to clear it more, but ended up just making the headache worse. Brilliant move, that one.

Watanuki had already made his intentions of not saying anything clear. Besides, the kid looked too exhausted for the archer to try and force the truth out of him. That, and there was still on minor detail that was a bit more important...

“Are you going to untie me?”

A weak glare was his response. “It’s punishment. Pun-ish-ment. Meaning, you deserve it for all that you put me through.”

Doumeki saw the real reason under the complaint. Watanuki was simply too tired to move again. He looked about ready to doze off any second.

Alright, change of tactics. Seeing Watanuki this depressed bothered the archer. And when all else fails, teasing might at least get him untied. “I didn’t think you were into that kind of thing,” he said in a dead pan voice, hoping it would lighten the mood.

“What kind of...” Realization dawns. “I am not, you bloody pervert.” Only half-felt and devoid of any of the usual energy and emotion. Doumeki was really starting to get worried. “Would you just hurry up and get over here? I need a pillow to sleep on and I don’t want to accidentally jar Mugetsu’s leg,” he said, taking off his glasses and rubbing his eyes.

Doumeki sent him a glare that read ‘easier said then done.’ But they were both accustomed to asking the impossible of each other and he saw mentioning how unreasonable Watanuki was being would be useless. No more unreasonable than usual anyway. A high maintenance kitten, indeed.

Inching his way over to the wall, Doumeki didn’t quite comprehend his reason for doing so yet. Two and two was not quite equaling four to the source of his headache. It was adding up to 5 and a half in some way that only Watanuki logic could solve. “How does me coming over here solve your need of a pillow?” he asked before adding thoughtfully, “Are you going to untie me yet?”

“Punishment!” Watanuki said childishly. “It’s so you don’t go and disappear again and make me go through all of this for an ungrateful jerk like you!” By this point, Doumeki had managed to inch his way over to the wall next to the child’s side. Watanuki surprised the archer by placing his small head on Doumeki’s shoulder and closing his eyes. “It’s the least you can do... after what you did... I’m using your shoulder... to sleep on.”

He honestly wasn’t sure of what surprised him more. The fact that Watanuki was now leaned against his shoulder and sleeping or that the child could rant in his sleep. Doumeki shifted, trying to get a little more comfortable without waking the ‘kitten’ up. At least, as comfortable as he could be with both hands behind his back tied securely.

Doumeki hadn’t realized how tired he had been until moving to the wall had taken up so much of his remaining strength. Had he been fighting? He felt like he had used a lot of spirit arrows. Or maybe something had just zapped all his energy. A little of both sounded about right to his stubborn memory that refused to give him answers.

Looking down at Watanuki, he felt his body tense. There was a deep cut on Watanuki’s cheek that had been turned away from him. The dried blood taunted him as his memory slap him across the face. He had done this. He didn’t remember why or when, but he knew that one of his arrows had made that cut to the cheek of one of the few friends he had. Doumeki Shizuka had hurt Watanuki Kimihiro intentionally.

It’s so you don’t go and disappear again... after what you did...’ It hadn’t been his memory that was guilty of withholding the information. It had been denial.

* * *

Haruka was waiting for him on the porch, smoking his usual cigarette as the fireflies danced with the smoke. The full moon reflected its pale light on the two of them as Watanuki took a seat next to Doumeki’s grandfather. “Thank you for helping me,” he said quietly. Amazing how easy the admission was compared to when he had to force himself to say it to the younger Doumeki.

Haruka nodded, smiling gently. Nothing to prepare him for what Haruka was going to say next. “Did you enjoy tying Shizuka up?”

“I didn’t... It’s not...” he sputter, blushing at what Haruka was implying. Like grandfather, like grandson... “He deserved it,” Watanuki stated finally, not mention that this whole fiasco was his fault to begin with.

Haruka chuckled quietly. Though Watanuki wouldn’t admit it, Haruka’s attempts to cheer him up helped a little. “Haruka-san, what was it that we fought today?” The thought of the crow’s lifeless body lying on the ground came to his memory. It made him slightly nauseous and uncomfortable at the same time.

Doumeki’s grandfather took a deep drag from the cigarette and blew the smoke out of his lungs before answering. “It was as you saw, a simple crow. Before it had killed the hag spirit that attacked you, it was content just collecting items and ‘treasures’ for its nest. Under normal circumstances, it wouldn’t have even been able to kill the hag spirit. But since Shizuka had fatally wounded it, it was easy picking for a crow.”

Watanuki pieced the rest of the information together in his own mind before voicing his conclusion. “So, by killing the hag-spirit, the crow ‘collected’ its abilities too? Then the reason he could look just like me was because the hag had absorbed part of me? And...” Watanuki finished the thought in silence. And because the crow looked like him, it was able to crack through Doumeki’s defenses and take control of him.

Haruka’s kindly smiling expression didn’t change, but Watanuki could sense the change in mood. A solemn silence penetrated the air.

“It’s half each, don’t you think?”

“Eh?” Watanuki looked up, confused. The image of himself handing Doumeki a lunch box flashed through his mind, just after he had accepted part of the archer’s right eye... It was almost exactly what Doumeki had said back then.

“Half each. It doesn’t only refer to the work and responsibility, but to the guilt and happiness too.”

Watanuki looked away, his eyes following a lone firefly that danced in the bushes near by. Guilt and happiness... shared? While he wasn’t all too thrilled sharing anything with Doumeki, knowing that it wasn’t totally his fault was comforting. Not in a blaming way, but sharing the guilt equally lifted some of the weight off his shoulders.

“Shizuka is slowly remembering what has passed,” Haruka said gently, making Watanuki’s stomach drop. Even though he should have felt annoyed with the fact that Doumeki hadn’t remembered what Watanuki had gone through to get to him... Still, he had been relieved when Doumeki said he couldn’t remember the encounter. “Look after him, please. He might need some confidence later.”

Doumeki needing confidence? He looked back at Haruka in surprise, only to find that Doumeki’s grandfather was no longer there. So he was left alone with his thoughts in the quiet night on the dream temple’s porch.

* * *

“We need to find a way to get out of here,” Watanuki said softly as he untied the archer. Doumeki didn’t say anything, rubbing his wrists in silence after he was freed. The most annoying thing was that when Doumeki stood up, Watanuki only came up to his rival’s waist. He really needed to fix this age reversion problem...

“The stairs I came up disappeared,” he continued on, standing on tip toe to look outside the window. They were on the top floor. Not a distance he would want to jump. Especially not after the first hand experience with only two stories. “Maybe there’s more stairs on the opposite wall?”

Searching the left wall proved fruitless. He glanced back at Mugetsu who just whined, wanting to be pet by its favorite human. No help from that direction. Much to his disgruntlement, Doumeki was just sitting and staring down at his hands. He wasn’t even pretending to search!

“Doumeki! What are you doing!?” Still no response. His rival was being almost as spacey as when he was fighting the control...

Watanuki walked over and stepped on his rival’s foot as hard as he could. That got some reaction at least. A flash of pain and annoyance crossed Doumeki’s face as he looked down to see a very angry six year old. “Are you going to help me look for a way out or what? You’re totally useless!”

Judging from the look in Doumeki’s eye, that was the wrong thing to say. Frustration boiled over. “You’re the moron! You always try to shoulder everything by yourself and try to protect me! Well, it’s not all your fault. So you should be grateful that the illustrious Watanuki-sama is trying to cheer up a difficult jerk like you!”

The silence that fell was different from before. For once, that disagreeable Doumeki had actually listened and was considering Watanuki’s words. As well he should!

The silence went on for far longer than his patience did however. Doumeki was just staring at him blankly... “Well? Aren’t you going to say anything? Bow down in thanks for the effort I went through?”

“Moron,” he said, before walking off to help the search. Mugetsu barked happily as the atmosphere when back to normal.

What really made Watanuki blow the roof was the smirk he caught on his rival’s face as he walked by. “What the hell! Don’t you know how to properly thank someone, you ill-mannered oaf!” as he was chasing toward said oaf to step on his foot again, Watanuki failed to notice that he was about to step on a reflective surface. “After all I went through, I still tried-”

The rant was cut short as he fell through the portal, yelping at the sudden lack of solidity under his feet. It wasn’t too long before several branches broke his fall. He landed in the grass with a soft thunk, under the bare branches of a cherry tree. Hadn’t he fallen out of enough trees today?

Watanuki wasn’t given much of a chance to breathe however. The spirits immediately took notice of his presence, almost before he realized that he was back in the cemetery that this whole mess had started in.

The child let out a yell as he tried to run away. The spirits were quicker, unfortunately. They were on top of him, forcing the air out of his lungs as he tried to breath in more of the fouled air. “Help... me...” he said as he struggled.

The strongest of the spirits had a toothy grin as its mouth grew wide enough to encompass Watanuki’s head.

-To Tsubasa side

Two quotes this time. The first one spurred a line in the fic. Even though it's meant in a more romantic relationship in the movie, I think it fits Doumeki's and Watanuki's relationship very well too. The second... Well, it's just for kicks. It's what I was thinking when Crowe got hit with Haruka-san's arrow.

"We are accustomed to asking a lot of one another."
-Linda Porter, Delovely

"Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore.'"
-Edgar Allan Poe, "The Raven"