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In Any Other World, xxxHolic Side
By Memory Dragon
Warnings: A very annoyed Watanuki. And no more cliff hangers! Yay!  Also, it's unbeta'ed, but ah, well.
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 Epilogue
xxxHolic Side: Prologue Chapter 1  Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6

Epilogue: You Could Tell The Difference

Take a bow, play the part of a lonely, lonely heart
Say good-bye to the world you thought you lived in.

Watanuki was really going to be eaten this time. His panicked and air-deprived mind grasped hold of that one thought. Doumeki wouldn’t be able to find the mirror, and Mugetsu was left behind as well, and he was really going to be eaten this time! He continued to struggle fruitlessly against his fate. He went through all of that, just to be eaten by a normal spirit.

The twang of a bow rang through the air and a few seconds later Watanuki was able to breath again. “You... are late,” he said before blanking out entirely.

He woke up a little later, very disgruntled with finding himself flung over Doumeki’s shoulder. This resulted in much yelling and ranting on his part while his rival set Watanuki down if just to better plug his ears. In the very least, things were definitely back to normal between them. Watanuki could almost forget that he was still in a six year old body in his relief. Almost, being the key word.

They arrived at the shop without anymore trouble to find a grinning Yuuko. But this time- oh, this time- Watanuki had the upper hand. “Just homework, you said! It turned out to be a very valuable clue! I wouldn’t have known about the mirrors otherwise!” he gloated happily after the formal greetings, very proud of himself for finally being right.

Yuuko shrugged, still retaining her Cheshire grin. “What clue?” Doumeki asked, curious.

“The one you left me about the mirrors!” Blood drained from his face. No, it had to be that Doumeki didn’t remember it yet. He was right this time. “That poem, from that Tennyson guy!”

A light went on in Doumeki’s insensitive head. Watanuki felt pride swell back up before it was shot brutally to the ground again a few seconds later. “Oh. That was my English homework.”

Strangling Doumeki sounded really good right now. No, Watanuki was sure he could come up with a far slower and more satisfying death for the archer. He stood there, his hands balled into fists with a forced grin as Maru and Moru danced around him singing about homework. Just as he was about to explode, Yuuko pre-maturely but his fuse. “The one who held your missing years is dead?”

The child looked away, his slightly too big glasses slipping down his nose. “Yes,” he said, trying not to think of the dead crow in a faraway deserted building. Mugetsu licked his cheek playfully. “Hey, cut that out...” Yes, he still had to change the pipe fox back to its smaller form. He should be thinking about how he could accomplish that feat, rather than a dead crow.

Doumeki, who Watanuki hadn’t even realized had disappeared, returned with Yuuko’s first aid kit. “Mokona will help! Mokona will help!” it said as it bounced up and down and into Watanuki’s scratched arms. Remarkably enough, Mokona magically missed standing on any place that would have caused him pain. “Mokona is a good doctor!”

He raised his eyebrow at it in disbelief, but the Witch of Dimensions held up her hand. “Hold on for a moment,” she said, pulling out a strange looking medallion. “You put the bandages on now and they will be too small.”

“You mean... That’s the cure!?” He nearly dropped Mokona in his excitement. No more standing on tip toe to reach everything! He would be able to cook without being too troubled by Maru and Moru! He could go back to school!

Yuuko held the medallion out and the child accepted it gingerly. “Put it on.” He hesitated, running his fingers along the intricately carved pattern. It looked just like the patterns on Sakura’s feathers... Turning it over, Watanuki found letters of some sort, though he couldn’t read the words. Watanuki looked up at Yuuko who smiled encouragingly as he slipped the medallion’s chain over his head.

The exceedingly bright light that followed forced him to close his eyes. He wasn’t quite certain what to expect after that. Perhaps a growing sensation, or a brief pain to show that he was changing. When the light faded, however, the only things that he felt different were his clothes being too tight and his glasses too small.

Exhaustion hit him full force seconds later. Watanuki staggered forward, caught by Mugetsu. So much for all the sleep he had gotten...

“Watanuki, why don’t you go change. Mokona will help.” Yuuko smiled as half-hearted grumbles about how he could do it himself reached her ears. But Mokona and Mugetsu led the now teenaged boy off easily. The change had taxed his body so much. Combined with blood-loss, Watanuki didn’t have the strength to put up a fight. Maru and Moru followed afterward, mimicking Watanuki’s yawns.

Yuuko sat on the porch, drinking sake in the moonlight. “The payment?” Doumeki asked softly, taking a seat beside her.

She offered a glass to Doumeki before pouring more for herself after he declined. “It has been received.”

Worry and a small bit of confusion entered Doumeki’s golden eyes. “It wasn’t finished yet.”

“The arrow served its purpose, though it failed to pierce the first time because it hadn’t been finished.” She finished off the second cup easily, letting her long silky hair fall from her shoulders. “Since you were taken before it could be finished, the rest of the price was paid by someone else. She wanted to insure a certain person’s safety, but the price she offered was too high. However, so she agreed to pay the rest of this wish after hearing about it.”


She leaned back, looking up at the autumn moon in the cloudless sky. Somewhere up there was the path that the lost souls took to come to the person that called them. “Because the dream must end. And because very soon, that person may find herself very lonely. Watanuki will visit her when the time comes.”

Doumeki still did not understand, but he sensed rightly enough that Yuuko wasn’t going to say anything more on the matter. Understanding of this incident was not necessary for the whole. It was enough that Hitsuzen had solved the matter in its own way.

Watanuki returned wearing a yukata and his regular pair of glasses. He found he was too tired to interrupt the conversation on the porch, so he followed Maru and Moru’s example and went to bed. The futon was still in place since he had been sleeping at the shop after the age regression. After Mokona helped him with a few of the more necessary bandages, the black furball curled up next to him. His last thought was that Doumeki had been shivering in the autumn’s brisk air. A half formed idea took over his slipping consciousness. A pair of gloves, dark green...

Dreams can take the place of reality.


On to the final quote of the chapter. It really has nothing to do with anything, but since I seem to lack a good theme to pull from this chapter, I'm going with one of my favorite quotes instead.

"No boom today, boom tomorrow. There's always a boom tomorrow." --Susan Ivanova, Babylon 5