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House of a Hundred Regrets (xxxHolic, Watanuki/Doumeki)

Title - House of a Hundred Regrets
Fandom - xxxHolic - Watanuki/Doumeki
Author - Shiyo (aka devikun)
Recipient - PePe (aka peroxidepest17)
Rating - PG-13
Warnings - VERY long (sorry!), lots of plot, and a little fluff. Also hopefully not too OC...
Words - 6200

Summary - Watanuki is no stranger to regret, but second chances aren't always what they seem to be.




"I can't believe," Watanuki Kimihiro mutters, stomping through the layer of decaying fall leaves, kicking a few up just to see them disturbed. "That Yuuko-san sent me on this stupid errand. She knows how far it is; I saw that smile on her face. And she'll still expect me to cook when I get back. It'll be dark by then. I'll be half frozen. This isn't the sort of weather to go tromping around outside in, is it! And I've got two assignments due. Where am I going to find the time to finish them!"

"Oi."

"AND MY NAME ISN'T 'OI'."

"Those assignments aren't due until next week."

Watanuki gives Doumeki Shizuka, walking at his side, his best glare, to no discernable effect, of course.

"I know that," he shoots back when Doumeki continues to be immune to his sour look. "But they still have to be done. I bet you haven't even started yours, right? You'll probably cram them in the night before they're due and come to school the next day looking like death warmed up and whining about how bad your marks are going to be."

Doumeki doesn't appear to be listening, peering around with a faint frown on his face; the most expression he's shown all afternoon. "I already handed them in," he monotones. "How much further is this place, anyway?"

"YOU ALREADY-" Watanuki starts, and then breaks off as Doumeki swerves towards him between one step and the next and quite suddenly he's right there, practically in Watanuki's back pocket. As he leans over him, the flat plane of his chest bumps his shoulder, pressing against him and staying there, and the annoyingly even warmth of his breath gusts across the shell of Watanuki's ear like a whisper, just above the collar of his winter coat.

"Get away!" Watanuki cries, shouldering Doumeki back, gritting his teeth at the way the cool autumn air rushes back in again and sends goose bumps streaking down his spine. "Geez, I don't need you peering over my shoulder; I know how to read a map."

He stops for a second so he can check his bearings against said map - drawn by Mokona somehow, or else coughed up from its bizarre gullet and Watanuki doesn't even want to think about that. But looking up from the disturbingly childish scrawl to the street in which they stand, it's hard for him to believe they're actually in the right place. "She said seven blocks north of the station, alright? So it should be around here somewhere… How do you suppose you get an area like this in the middle of Yokohama, anyway?"

Not that they're in the middle of Yokohama anymore; closer to Kamakura really and it probably shouldn't be a surprise that such picturesquely Japanese lanes exist around here, considering the thousand year old history associated with the area. It also shouldn't be a surprise that when Yuuko sent him on this stupid errand, she told him to take Doumeki with him; this time Watanuki didn't even bother to complain. Old places like this are ripe with spirits; annoying, pissed off spirits. It's part of the reason why he never really liked school excursions. It's kind of hard to appreciate the history of the Genji when one of them won't stop following you around, complaining about the indignity of being slaughtered while 'attending to private matters'. Personally Watanuki thought it had nothing to whinge about; no Minamoto he'd ever read about ever got six week's detention for yelling 'For the last time, I don't care about your lopped-off cock!' in front of two excursion teachers, twenty-six class mates and a tour guide from the local Buddhist shrine.

"She's a dimension witch, isn't she?" he continues to rail, more at himself and the unfairness of the world in general than at Doumeki, since Doumeki probably isn't listening anyway. He turns the map another way to see if it makes any difference. It doesn't seem to. "I don't see why she can't just…witch up a dimension and take care of her own errands. It's not like I sold my soul to her or anything. Yet. She thinks just because it was 'Hitsuzen' that gives her license to treat me like a slave or something…"

"Oi," Doumeki says, not for the second time since they set out on this trip and Watanuki has to force himself not to crumple the map in his fist.

"How many times do I have to tell you before you'll get it, Doumeki-kun. My-"

"Name's not 'oi'," Doumeki interrupts evenly. "Yeah, I got it. But what did Yuuko-san say this place looked like?"

Watanuki glances over, but Doumeki's face is in profile and it's hard to tell if he actually means that comment about his name or not.

"She didn't, of course," he sighs. "But she said to look for a house with three rings. Whatever that means."

"One, two, three," counts Doumeki. "Found it."

"What?" Watanuki says, and looks. Was that house there before they stopped walking? Knowing his luck, probably not. Then Doumeki points - up - and Watanuki looks again. They're standing practically under the front gate, and above them, imprinted on the tiles that overhang the wall, is a family crest of three interlocking rings.

"That ka-mon is a little…" he starts, and; "Weird," Doumeki finishes dryly, and it's as good an adjective as any. There's something seriously off about the crest's design. It looks enough like other crests he's seen before; he could probably only put names to the really famous ones of course, but this is a variation on a common enough theme. This particular badge has two iron rings in the centre of the seal, and a larger third titled on a slight angle on the outside. Yet as he looks at them, the place where they interlock seems all wrong. He tries to trace the way they link together, but can't seem to get them to stay still long enough to work out which ring he's tracing, even though they're not moving, can't be moving. It almost makes his eyes water.

"Right," he sighs resignedly. "Of course. Well, let's just get in there and get this over with, I guess. The sooner the better." Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Doumeki glancing over at him, an eyebrow almost arching as if to say; Why? Are you scared? "I was just saying," he stresses, before Doumeki can get a word in, but it seems to not be much of a deterrent.

"Want me to hold your hand?" Doumeki asks, almost, Watanuki would have said, hopefully. He throws him a look he hopes is sufficiently withering.

"No," he says with forced civility. "I want you to bite me." And just to spite him, he steps forward and puts a decisive foot over the gate's threshold.

And nothing happens.

Watanuki lets the breath he was holding out and keeps going, following the path from the gate towards the front door through an unkempt traditional garden full of broken lanterns and tsukubai covered in lichen and slime and behind him he can practically see Doumeki's smirk, which probably doesn't look that much different to his normal face but Watanuki knows it's there.

"Kinky, but okay," Doumeki says agreeably, and he's free to make such jokes at Watanuki's expense, of course, and Watanuki is free to utterly ignore him, which he does. Maybe, he thinks, just maybe this errand won't turn out like all the others Yuuko has sent him on so far - borderline life-threatening, disturbing, crazy, frightening and ending in Doumeki having to somehow save him. Even if that is his part of the job. Just because Watanuki gets this whole thing about connections now - and just because he's supposedly got one with Doumeki of all people - doesn't mean he has to like it when they're deliberately sent into some bizarre situation that will probably kill them.

But maybe he'll be lucky this time and it will turn out to be Yuuko's special needs laundry, or some kind of nice, completely safe, non-magical artefact that wants to give her grandmother for her birthday or something. Maybe it won't be an errand of the potentially dangerous kind at all and later he will smile when Doumeki annoys him and make him whatever he wants for lunch - just for not having had to save him - and that will be the end of it.

And maybe pigs will fly, although when it comes to Yuuko, that too is possible, he supposes.

"Well? Aren't you going to knock?"

He starts and realises he's standing at the front door already. The garden path seemed longer from the other end. "Well, of course I am! How else are we going to get whoever lives here to come out and give us whatever it is Yuuko sent us to-" And he knocks.

On the first rap, the door swings in. The two of them stand there for a moment.

"Looks like we're expected," Doumeki observes and, "No," Watanuki replies.

"No we're not expected?"

"No, I'm not going in. And before you ask me whether I'm scared or something, I'm not. I'm just being sensible. I mean, look at this place! It's old; it's run down. There aren't any lights on inside…"

"It's the middle of the afternoon."

"…and I can't hear anyone moving around in there. Can you? No. Which means that the door opened by itself. Which means that, at best, we'll be trespassing, and at worst, something will probably attack us, like in the movies. People always do stupid things you already know they shouldn't in those kinds of movies. Well, I'm not going to be one of those people."

They stand. The door remains open, and the interior beyond it remains dark. Nothing moves except a breeze in the trees behind them.

"Well, we can't just stand here all day," Doumeki points out after a while. "If there's no-one home, there's no-one to give you what we came for." He steps forward, reaches out and pushes carefully at the door with one large hand. It swings fully open and the entry way in front of them is dark and dusty and totally mundane, hardly dangerous at all. But that's just a ploy.

"What are you doing!?" he hisses as Doumeki makes to step past him.

"Just stay here," he tells him. "If we're trespassing then at least only one of us will get caught."

"No! Wait!" Watanuki isn't sure whether the panic that suddenly makes him reach out and grab Doumeki's arm before he can step across the threshold is inspired by not wanting to stay here on his own or not wanting to let Doumeki go in on his own. What if Doumeki goes in and never comes out again? Watanuki isn't doing something idiotic like standing on this doorstep waiting for the rest of his life.

"I'll be fine," Doumeki says, with such uncharacteristic gentleness that it makes Watanuki release his grip, almost offended.

"I wasn't… I was…" But what exactly was he doing? "I'm not worried about you, you idiot, but how do you except to find what Yuuko sent us for?"

"I don't know," Doumeki shrugs. "Maybe it will be obvious."

Watanuki sighs. That's doubtful. "Fine," he relents. "But if something bad happens, it's all Yuuko's fault."

And Doumeki looks surprised for a second. "Agreed," he says and smiles. It's a bare twitch at the corners of his mouth before he turns away, but on Doumeki it looks like a full blown grin and it makes Watanuki's heart skip a little beat.

With fright, no doubt.

"And if we get arrested," he decides as Doumeki steps away. "I'll make her post bail using her sake money. She'll really hate that."

Doumeki makes a sound like a swallowed laugh, but he's walking across the entryway and up the single step into the house proper. He pauses, as if he is expecting something to happen or waiting for someone to appear, and for a second Watanuki is glad he's not the only one who's a little paranoid about these things.

"Of course, she'll probably just add it to my debt," he continues, trying not to sound nervous, his voice hushed and swallowed in the silence of the house interior as they start down the main hallway, passing by a staircase that leads up into the dark. "And- And she's mean when she's sober."

"Sounds like you lose all round, then," Doumeki puts in, sounding a lot more relaxed and Watanuki can't even be angry at such an amused comment, since it's basically true.

"Don't worry," he assures. "I make her suffer in my way. After all, equal payment for services rendered, as she likes to- YAAA!"

Movement in his peripheral vision, through the open doorway to his side that Doumeki has already passed and suddenly he's grabbing for Doumeki and Doumeki's not there. And then he blinks and realises he's almost nose up against the back of Doumeki's coat, because Doumeki is standing in front of him, between him and the open door.

Protecting him.

"Where?"

Not 'what'. Where. Doumeki believes him that much. For a second Watanuki forgets the terrified pounding of his heart.

"I- Ha," he breathes, trying to calm himself down. "In there."

Doumeki ventures carefully in and Watanuki goes with him, mainly because he can't seem to make his fingers let go of Doumeki's sleeve.

"It's…"

"What?!"

"A picture."

"What?"

"Look."

Watanuki looks, peeking around over Doumeki's shoulder and sure enough, right where he thought he'd seen movement, a painting hangs on the wall. It's large, almost wider than Watanuki could stretch out his arms, framed in simple dark wood and glassed over, and grimy, mouldy, as if it's been there a long time. It must have, if the scene it depicts is anything to go by.

"That's painting's a little…" he starts, and; "Odd," Doumeki agrees.

And it is, although there's nothing particularly out of the ordinary about it. It's not any kind of portrait Watanuki's ever seen before; instead it's more like a painted snapshot. In it, an old man is standing in a yard somewhere, watching a child and a dog at play and smiling. The sun is shining through the trees above him and the grass under his feet is green and lush looking, despite the picture's obvious age. The man's kimono is old and plain, a turn of the century style Watanuki has only seen in historical records and on really, really elderly people.

"You must have caught your reflection in the glass," Doumeki says after a moment and Watanuki nods, but actually he's not entirely convinced. The picture is a little creepy, for all that it seems to be depicting a happy moment.

"Yeah, I guess," he agrees. "Let's just keep going, okay?"

"Okay," Doumeki agrees, and this time, Watanuki takes the lead.

But every room in the house turns out the same; open doors, tatami mat floors, no furnishings and a single glassed picture hanging in a plain wooden frame on a plain wall. Each image is different; different people, different scenes. In one a woman is nursing a baby, in another a young man is writing a letter, in another still, a child is waving to someone who stands at the end of a road in the distance, and Watanuki can't really tell whether they're arriving or leaving. The only thing each picture has in common is that they all somehow give Watanuki the heebie-jeebies, as if each is its own little world, existing before he comes and continuing after he leaves, like a game of korioni, alive while his back is turned but conspicuously frozen when he looks again.

But to make things worse, nowhere in the whole house is there anything that appears to be what they came for, unless they're meant to take a picture. But if so, which one? He has no idea what Yuuko will do or say if he returns empty handed, but he doesn't really want to find out.

"Maybe upstairs…" he says finally, reluctantly, when they end up almost back where they started, staring up the stairwell.

"It's the only place we haven't looked," Doumeki agrees. Watanuki takes a deep breath and tells himself he's fine; he'll be fine if Doumeki just sticks close. Nothing can hurt him with Doumeki around.

"Come on," Doumeki says, and he's half way up the stairs already. Watanuki follows, the floorboards under his feet creaking faintly with his weight. Above him, Doumeki has already disappeared. Watanuki hurries to catch up and finds him standing just at the top of the stairs, at the end of another long hall.

"More rooms," Watanuki breathes, half disappointed and half annoyed.

"The doors are shut," Doumeki observes.

"Well then, let's open them." What they're looking for has to be here somewhere. Otherwise Yuuko wouldn't have sent him. He stalks past Doumeki and reaches the first door, grabs it and pulls it determinedly aside. The room however is exactly the same as the others downstairs.

Except…

"I'll check the next one," Doumeki tells him and Watanuki nods, distracted.

"Sure. Okay," he murmurs and steps into the room.

The floors are the same, the room is still bare, but the picture… the picture… Watanuki draws nearer. Perhaps it's the light, but he can't really see any…

Movement, and this time he's definitely not imagining it. There is someone there, behind the glass, standing in an open door. They're turning as he comes closer; it's like watching a movie, except there's no light coming out of the screen, like there's a filter, or a window between him and the world on the other side and the person is turning like they know he's there. He stops, can't seem to take another step, close enough to be able to reach out and touch the glass, and the figure is turning, turning to face him…

"Kimihiro," the figure says, smiling, and Watanuki blinks, breathes.

"Dad?"

His father smiles, indulgent and benign. "Weren't you doing your homework when we left as well? That seems like a lot for the second grade, or are you having trouble?"

Watanuki sighs and looks at the math he had been working on for the last… Actually, he doesn't know how long. "Maybe…" he admits. "You guys were gone a long time."

His father comes into the living room and folds himself down at the table opposite. Behind him in the entry way, his mother is hanging up her coat and bending down to pick up the shopping bags.

"Well you know how your father is dear," she says lightly as she steps up from the entryway and heads for the kitchen. "Not satisfied until he's found the best buys."

Watanuki smiles and his father rolls his eyes; it's an old joke between the three of them, that his Dad is the one who fights off the housewives for the choicest cuts of meat at the market, but it's worth it when his cooking tastes so good.

"Your mother's just jealous I bake a better cake than she does," he says conspiratorially, leaning over to take a look at Watanuki's work. "But then again, she's better at math than I am. Maybe she should take a look at this, while I make us some tea."

"As soon as I put the groceries away," she calls, but all Watanuki can see is her backside as she bends down in front of the open refrigerator door to put something in the crisper. "Oh, the ice-cream's melted everywhere!"

"It's still pretty warm out, huh?" Watanuki asks his father, and he frowns and shrugs.

"There was a delay on the road on the way back," he says, and he sounds casual, but his expression makes something strange turn over in Watanuki's chest. "A car accident; a bad one. I'd say we only just missed it. Maybe if we'd left a little sooner… Well," he sighs. "I feel sorry for whoever was involved in it. I'm not sure there were any… Kimihiro? What's the matter?"

Watanuki blinks. What is the matter? Suddenly he feels so strange, like he's not quite there, sitting in his living room at the table across from his father. His heart is racing, and yet there's this ache, this crushing weight in his chest and he almost can't breathe. His throat is raw and his face is hot, burning hot, cut by streaks of cool running down it and the taste of salt on his lips. He lifts his hand, touches his cheek, and it comes away wet.

"I'm sorry," he starts, and his voice hurts, sounds too loud, echoes too easily around the room. "I'm sorry. You left, and I never really said goodbye. I never told you I love you. I was too busy doing my homework, and I didn't think- didn't think you'd never come back." And it doesn't make any sense, what he's saying. His father is right there, his mother busy in the kitchen, humming like she always does when she works, but somehow it's all wrong. He reaches out, across the table, towards his father, just to touch, to tell himself he's real, that they're really there…

His hand stops flat against cold, hard glass. Space around him seems to expand, pull back while the image pulls forward and vertigo makes him feel suddenly as if he's going to fall, face first into the suddenly frozen scene; the table with his homework on it in the foreground, his father staring at him, his mother in the middle of putting groceries away in the background. Panicking he wrenches himself out, back, one step, two.

"Dad?" he says again, blinking away tears, but there's no one there anymore. He's staring at his own dark reflection, and his father isn't there, if he ever was. His living room isn't there, his mother, gone. He's not in second grade, he's in high school, and his parents were killed in a car accident more years ago than he can sometimes remember. They're not here. Or rather, he's not there. It was all a dream, an illusion, a picture of the one thing he still regrets, a moment that never actually happened…

And maybe it comes from working for Yuuko, or maybe from his own freakish ability to see things, to know things, but he realises in that second as if the words are right there for him to read. This house, these pictures, all those people frozen in the middle of something meaningless and mundane; that's what they are - moments that never happened, other people's moments, things that they wished they'd been able to do or say or have, their most secret, unspoken regrets made wonderfully, terrifyingly real.

But the picture that had just been painted for him had somehow been trying to draw him in, to swallow him. It had been trying to make him a part of it, and what if in all those other pictures…

The realisation, the certainty of it slams into him and takes his breath away and he jerks where he stands and then turns on his heel and races from the room, out through the door and barrels across the hall and through the only other open doorway, the only place Doumeki can be.

"Dou-!"

Watanuki staggers to a halt. Doumeki stands before another picture, unnaturally still, staring fixedly and Watanuki looks - he can't not look - at what it is that has captured him the way it almost captured Watanuki. In this picture there is a room, one he recognises from Doumeki's family temple. Doumeki is there, kneeling… no, leaning down over another person, and his house robe is half off and Watanuki can clearly see the bone of his shoulder joint, his clavicle, can see the muscle definition in his bicep and how warm and smooth his exposed skin looks. He can see it because it's the only place he can look, his face heating, his heart thumping hard in his chest, because in Doumeki's picture he's- he is-

He's having sex.

Watanauki is shocked; he's sure he is, or at least he would be, if he could just stop staring - at Doumeki's lean, supple looking limbs, at the way his back curves strong and smooth, at the sheen of perspiration on his thigh where the other person's hand is pushing up the folds of his yukata. But he can't seem to, and he should, he really should. This is a private thing, only meant to be shared between the people involved and Watanuki is no pervert, no voyeur. What Doumeki chooses to do and who he chooses to do it with is… none of… Watanuki's…

He tracks the hand on Doumeki's thigh, up a thin arm to a bony shoulder, to a face he doesn't recognise for a second, eyes hooded with pleasure, mouth hanging open in a sigh or a moan, hair unkempt and school uniform peeled back to reveal fine, pale skin that should have made the scene look vulnerable but only seemed to make it all the more erotic. And it takes him a moment of staring to process it.

Doumeki is not just having sex.

Doumeki is having sex with Watanuki.

A moment that never happened; a strong, unvoiced regret.

Watanuki's legs seem to shake, go weak, and he almost can't breathe. He twists his fists into the fabric of his coat, and in the picture, his hands twist in Doumeki's hair, dragging him closer. His tongue is a pink flicker of movement between their pressing mouths and oh God he's frenching Doumeki Shizuka…

"Oh, you…" he breathes, almost outraged that he doesn't actually feel as outraged as he probably ought to be. "Oh, God, Doumeki, you ba-"

The accusation dies as he drags his eyes away from the picture to Doumeki's face. He can see the wall on the other side of the room right through him.

Doumeki - the real Doumeki - is disappearing.

The painting is taking him, and suddenly the only thing Watanuki can feel is terror. He can't stand the guy, but no one deserves to be trapped in a painting, and Doumeki especially doesn't deserve to be trapped in a painting where he's getting laid for the rest of eternity! Watanuki hasn't even said yes yet! He hasn't even been asked! And if he'd known Doumeki liked- If he'd thought Doumeki was-

Oh, hell. It doesn't matter what he would have done if he'd known; he's not letting Doumeki go. They had a deal, and no part of that involves Doumeki leaving Watanuki on his own. He lunges and grabs at his arm, half afraid that his hand will pass right through him but he's warm and solid to the touch.

"Doumeki, snap out of it!" He shakes him, but Doumeki is immovable, as if Watanuki's strength amounts to nothing at all. "That's not real! You're not there; you're here! Doumeki!" In the picture, one of Doumeki's hands is sliding into the dark space between their bodies and Watanuki's hand is up under the back of Doumeki's yukata and- Oh. His hand really isn't going where it looks like it's going, is it?

"Oh, God…" Watanuki moans and tries not to think about whether that sounds anything like the sounds the Watanuki in Doumeki's painting must be making, considering the look on his face. "God damn it, this isn't fair. Don't you leave like this, you asshole. You're supposed to stay and protect me. You're not allowed… not allowed to leave me behind…"

But Doumeki, as always, seems disinclined to listen to him, is fading more and more with each passing moment. He can still feel him, but-

It's time for drastic measures.

"I'm never going to forgive you for this," Watanuki snarls and throws his arms around Doumeki's shoulders, even though it’s not true because he's never going to forgive him if he doesn't stop disappearing right this instant. He hoists himself up, practically climbing him in order to reach him.

"Doumeki, come back!" he begs and presses his mouth to Doumeki's.

The world doesn't pause; no bells ring and no light shines like in the stories. There's nothing strange, nothing life-changing about kissing Doumeki. His lips are warm and soft and solid, and past Watanuki's own panicked breathing and the tripping beat of his heart he can taste the faint flavour of Doumeki's breath, moist and almost sweet. But Watanuki isn't a prince; his kiss doesn't wake the sleeping princess. In fact, Doumeki doesn't even blink.

"Damn it," Watanuki moans again, and drops back to his feet and casts about for something, anything, some clue or a way to stop it or-

Or a way to smash the picture. There's a hammer lying in the corner of the room. It's the only object, other than the pictures, Watanuki has seen in the whole house. He doesn't care. It’s his only hope.

He races across the room and snatches it up, and then races back, dashing straight past Doumeki and lifting his arm back for a good sideways swing, like he's about to hit the ball out of the park.

"Doumeki!" he screams as he brings the hammer around as fast and as hard as he can. "WAKE UP!!"

The impact of the hammer head hitting the glass sends a shockwave streaking up his arm. One beat, two as he staggers back a step, drops the tool from suddenly nerveless fingers, and then the glass cracks across the picture from one side of the frame to the other, and Watanuki can see it's about to-

"Get down!" he yells, and throws himself at Doumeki in a flying tackle. They hit the tatami mats hard and the breath rushes out of him and somewhere behind him the discordant screech of shattering glass fills the air.

And just as the blast seems to tear through the air overhead, arms come around him and tuck his head in against the shoulder beneath him and then they’re rolling and-

They come to a stop several feet away, and Watanuki is staring up into Doumeki's face. His eyes are wide, pupils dilate in shock.

Seeing him.

"Doumeki," he breathes, just out of sheer relief and then Doumeki is much closer and he can feel his breath gusting across his mouth.

And then Doumeki is kissing him.

Maybe it's the adrenalin, the relief. Maybe it's that just for once, Watanuki was the one doing the saving, instead of being saved. Or maybe it's something else entirely, an earthquake memory of the way Doumeki held him in the picture, of the way he held back, glad and sure and abandoned, and of how the image of the two of them together suddenly caused something to click into place inside him, something stunning but not shocking, something thrilling and frightening and he thought he'd push Doumeki off if he tried it, but instead he's pulling him closer down. It's not Doumeki forcing his mouth to open; he's doing that himself, wants to do it, wants to and does try to angle his head to get the fit better, wants to lap at Doumeki's taste, touch his tongue in the confines of Doumeki's mouth, wants Doumeki clinging to him like in the picture, and his knee is rising between Doumeki's thighs so that their hips lock just so and… and… Oh. Oh, God. He had no idea that would feel so good.

Doumeki shudders against him and makes a strange, muffled sound and suddenly he's being pushed back down and Doumeki is struggling up and they're both panting and Watanuki's pretty sure, as Doumeki stares down at him, looming over him on his hands and knees almost the same way as he had in the painting, that he's flushed red from his hairline to his neck.

"I-" Doumeki starts. He looks pale and shaken and completely foreign. Watanuki's never seen that much emotion on his face before; it's almost frightening.

"Are you okay?" he interrupts, because really, in the end that's the only thing that matters.

"I'm… Yeah," Doumeki says slowly, and glances over his shoulder. Past him Watanuki can see that there's no painting there at all any more, just an empty frame and the blank wall behind it.

"Good," he says, and finds he means it. "So, can you get off me then?"

Doumeki turns back and stares at him for a second. "If you're mad about it," he says, expressionless, except this time his voice cracks just slightly, as if he's trying to hold that monotone and failing. "You shouldn't be kissing me back like that."

Watanuki stares back, mainly because he can't seem to manage a glare. It's apparently a lot harder to stay angry when the person you're angry with was just kissing you like it was more important to them than breathing.

"Who said I was angry about it?" he demands and Doumeki blinks. "I never said I was angry; I said you were heavy."

"You're not-" Doumeki starts and then breaks off in a completely uncharacteristic loss for words.

"You know, if you wanted me to kiss you, you just could have asked! Instead you practically get trapped in a painting and we're damn lucky I found that hammer or you'd have been gone for good and it would have cost the rest of my free time for the next hundred years to make Yuuko get you out again and I can just imagine what she would have-"

"Oi."

"Doumeki," Watanuki takes a long patient breath. "If you ever, ever want to put your tongue down my throat again, you'll stop calling me-"

"Kimihiro."

Watanuki blinks, derailed by that simple word coming out of Doumeki's mouth.

"That picture wasn't just kisses," Doumeki points out lowly and no, no it wasn't. But somehow, that doesn't seem to bother him as much as it probably should.

"No," he agrees. "It was regret. That's what all the paintings were; regret."

Doumeki seems to consider this carefully. "Regret that you know?" he asks slowly.

Watanuki thinks of his own regrets, of chances and change, of the pain of knowing there's things that happen in life that you can never undo, that you can never have back, and things that if you don't do, you'll regret forever. And again, there is expression on Doumeki's face, definite, unchecked emotion, one that Watanuki recognises, is intimately familiar with.

"No," he says, equally slowly, and then Doumeki's careful relief and the moment seems too heavy for him, far heavier than Doumeki on top of him, warm and firm and angular. "Regret that if you don't just tell me how you feel, how am I ever supposed to know."

Doumeki blinks, and then smiles a bit. "It's not obvious, after that?" Watanuki would have said he looks suddenly shy, except then he would have had to scrub out of his brain everything he knows about him, and he's not sure which 'that' he's referring to, but it doesn't matter.

"So what if it is? I'm going to make you say it anyway, you know."

"Demanding," Doumeki decides with an even bigger smile, and really, Watanuki almost wishes for bland, expressionless Doumeki back. "But okay. Now?"

"No, not now," Watanuki declares with an odd almost welcome thrill at the way Doumeki seems to be suddenly looming closer. He pushes at him, more panicked then irritated, hard enough to break them entirely apart and is almost disappointed when Doumeki rolls off without objection. "Right now, let's just get the hammer and get home."

"The hammer?"

They both look at the hammer, lying innocently on the floor where Watanuki dropped it, and then back at each other.

"You don't suppose Yuuko-san..."

"Finish that sentence," Watanuki warns darkly. "And not getting to do what you were doing in that picture isn't the only thing you'll regret."

Which, satisfyingly enough, seems to put end to that conversation, until Watanuki spies the look in Doumeki's eyes - sort of dark and soft and hot - which he's not sure he's ever seen before, except maybe he has and he just never realised it.

"Oh, for God's sake," he mutters, feeling his cheeks heat again, an altogether too common sensation around Doumeki as it already is. "I can't believe Yuuko sent me on this stupid errand."

But just because when they get to their feet and leave the house Doumeki is holding Watanuki's hand, and seems to have very little intention of letting go, and just because Watanuki finds, after all, that he doesn't actually mind, because Doumeki's skin is warm and soft and Doumeki seems happy, really truly happy - although you probably couldn't tell just from looking at the expressionless mug of his face - doesn't mean it's not still all Yuuko's fault.

And if she says one suspect thing when he gives her the hammer, or makes even one sly joke, he's going to make her least favourite dish for a week.

Then possibly take another week off, and spend it making sure Doumeki considers regretting he even had regrets in the first place, although probably that will take some doing.

Which is, Watanuki thinks, quite alright. He's an old hand at regret; for himself, he's determined not to ever have any more.

Comments

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Wow, this was quite involved! It seems like you took part of the plot from the movie and made it into a new story, which I liked. I thought the switch from something so moving as Watanuki regretting saying goodbye to his parents to something as raunchy as Doumeki regretting not having sex with Watanuki was a bit abrupt, but I think you handled it well enough. I enjoyed the story a lot, so thanks for writing it!
Hi. Thanks! Yeah the switch was a bit abrupt I admit - the transition in my first draft was smoother but that was also heading towards 7000 words + and I was trying to cut it down... - Shiyo
There are no really good words beyond -FLAIL- and the fact that I came away from this with a huge, silly grin. Very sweet and cute and perfect and fluffy fun. So I have to give you -FLAIL!- and leave it at that.
lol. Flail away. And thanks! Glad you liked it. - Shiyo
Some nitpicking:

drawn by Mokono - Mokona

She thinks just because it was 'Histuzen' - Hitsuzen

Corrections aside:

This was fantastic. I love the whole "wordless Doumeki" bit, because I think that when he's flustered he loses his cool a bit. xD

I also loved this line: until Watanuki spies the look in Doumeki's eyes - sort of dark and soft and hot - which he's not sure he's ever seen before, except maybe he has and he just never realised it. Discovered mutual love gives new meanings xD

OKAY, YOU WIN THE INTERNET ♥
Ah, I should have mentioned it was unbeta'd. Oh well. Thanks for that.

Glad you liked it! - Shiyo
Awww, that was lovely! It seems a bit strange slightly that Doumeki's biggest regret is sex, rather than, say, that he couldn't save Watanuki's eye or prevent him from falling through the window and all, but still...very cute! Definitely going into my memories.
Ah, I guess I failed a bit on that count - it wasn't supposed to read so much as sex as telling Watanuki how he felt. But glad you liked it!

Window? I think you just spoiler'd me. I haven't read anything about a window yet...
Watanuki saving Doumeki! Instant Love! <3


Agrees 100%! - shiyo
You did great imho ^_~ The story pulled me in completely, made my heart beat faster, filled me with emotion, excitement and feeling of adventure. :) It's not easy to write something that would become vivid, real in reader's mind, yet you managed just fine. ^_~ Thank you very much! I hope you'll write more xxxHolic stories *_*

PS: Don't you ever feel sorry that your stories are long! *_* I personally can't even get into mood when I'm reading something shorter than 2000+ words... Imho short = leaves no impression ^^
Thanks very much! I wanted it to be vivid and involved, but I know it still has its flaws. Oh well, writing is a learning experience.

Glad you liked it - shiyo
♥ Shiny, very shiny.
ta!
-shiyo

Watanuki, meet The Clue Bat.

oh man, the first paragraph of this had me grinning like an idiot. Watanuki's voice is so great here; i could just picture him saying and thinking everything <3. and wonderful plot tooo! and NGH fluffysmuttyfluff. what more could I ask for? :D ah, this is just the perfect holic fic. bravo!

Re: Watanuki, meet The Clue Bat.

Watanuki's voice is so easy, and I know he spaz's a lot but for me, I like him slightly less spazzy. Not canon, but oh well, neither is him and Doumeki kissing...

Really glad you enjoyed it!
-shiyo
Oh, that was wonderful! It was very IC and sweet, and had a great plot. Thank you for sharing! :D
You're welcome. Glad you liked it!
-shiyo
Whee, so squishy! XD

...but no one deserves to be trapped in a painting, and Doumeki especially doesn't deserve to be trapped in a painting where he's getting laid for the rest of eternity!

I like Watanuki's reasoning. :D I like a lot about this ficlet, the way they both behave is realistic enough and the idea about regret-related pictures is very nice. What I found extremely funny was that Watanuki's first attempt to un-entrance Doumeki was by kissing him. XD It says something about his subconsciousness that the smashing of the picture wasn't the first idea he came up with. ;D

Thanks for writing and sharing! And no, it was definitely not too long! :)
oh well good! That bit was supposed to be funny! Watanuki's like is like a f*&*ed up fairy tale anyway - why shouldn't he think his kiss could wake the sleeping princess, particularly when the princess obviously wants to be kissed.

Thanks very much! Glad you enjoyed it ^__^
Oh man, I ADORE this! I love your Watanuki voice so, so much. Awesome!
Thanks very much! Glad you liked it!
*flails around in fangirl glee* Do NOT aoplogize for the length!! The longer the better! I ♥♥♥ it!! It's definitely going into my memories!

The scene in the mirror of Doumeki's regret was so mind-blowingly hot!!! And the hand-holding!! I ♥ you so much!

I am abusing exclamation marks...that's what you made me do!

Ah well, my work is complete if I made you abuse exclamation marks ~__^ Thanks heaps! Really glad you liked it!
Long? I'd say it was the perfect for this story. The length doesn't matter when a story is good.

Well done. :D
thankyou very much!
VERY long (sorry!), lots of plot, and a little fluff.
And that's bad in what way again!? ;P Havnt't had the chance to read it yet so no comment on the actual story but I had to say something about that little warnig there. Looks promising though ^_^ *off to read it now*
This is amazing! And... as far as I'm concerned, length isn't a bad thing. Yeah, some stories are bloated, but I'm almost insatiable for windows onto Doumeki and Watanuki.

I guess I didn't see Doumeki's regret as being purely sexual -- given how tender the scene was, I though it was regret for not having the deep intimate relationship that was implied by the sex. Though he'd certainly enjoy the sex, too.

I loved Doumeki trying to pull himself together into impassivity after he thinks Watanuki's rejected him -- the details are perfection, and I can hear the dialogue.

Other favorite moment was Watanuki's panic at seeing the first picture, and how instinctively he looked for Doumeki -- who had already interposed himself. Lovely.

Very enjoyable overall!
Your comment about Doumeki's regret is spot on - thank you so much for saying it! I'm really glad you enjoyed it!
o_o so unexpected.

i really like this idea though, the pictures showing the regrets. kinda threw me off when you switched from watanuki's past regret to doumeki's more present one.

and the banter was hilarious, outside and inside the house! watanuki's just blatantly threatening not to kiss, live out the picture as calmly and smoothly as he does with not making lunch. talk about really showing you knew you felt that way.

"Kinky, but okay," Doumeki says agreeably i've been waiting for something like this in canon for a long time!
i've been waiting for something like this in canon for a long time!

lol! The canon Doumeki doesn't have as much of a sense of humor, I fear, but that's what fanfic's for, right?!

I'm really glad you liked it, especially the banter, since for me it is the thing I like most about xxxHolic.
I've fallen in love with this fic. Like dark chocolate, so bittersweet. Um, and the love scene Doumeki almost got stuck in left such a powerful mental image (or maybe I am just a pervert) that I had to draw it...

Hope you don't mind...

Oh, and here's the link to the tribute inky I did...

http://community.livejournal.com/doumekiwatanuki/238634.html#cutid1

I also posted a link to your fanfic, just so others could check it out for themselves to see how great it is...

And... ah... Is it alright to hope for a sequel?

Anyways, thanks so much for writing this. ^_^
I'm inordinately flattered - practically speechless - that you liked my fic so much it actually inspired art - your picture is gorgeous and I definitely don't mind at all!

A sequel? I'm not entirely sure, but perhaps!

Thanks so much! I'm very happy you liked it!
I think this story has touched me beyond words. You wrote well, and I like every part of it.

And it's okay to have long stories when you have an interesting plot. I don't think this fic is overly long whatsoever, it's well developed.
Wow. I'm very flattered! I'm really happy you liked it, and that you thought it was well developed (since that's what I was aiming for).
This is lovely, and I like that you let it be long - it allowed me to sink more deeply into the fic. I also like that even though Doumeki is a bit rattled and unsure after his secret is out, he's still very much Doumeki.
Thanks! That was my main aim to be honest - I think I write way too many pwp's (ehem) in other fandoms, so I wanted to do something involving and plot-driven. Doumeki too is probably the harder 'voice' for me, so I'm very happy he seemed in-character. Glad you liked it!
Um....it seems everyone has said what I'd like to. Oh well, repetition never hurt anybody. I really, really enjoyed this. Not that it was the most angsty or action-filled donuts fic I've read, but you just wrote them so</> well. Really, you did an amazing job at keeping them true to their characters in a situation like that. Very good job. ^^
Thankyou very much! I'm very glad you liked it! It was hard keeping them in character, but fun!
Incredible. Just really great- and also funny/odd/ironic/sweet that what Doumeki regrets most, if not the ONLY thing he regrets, is not sexing up Watanuki.
I mean, yeah, fangirls the world over agree that this lack is TRAGIC, but...
...actually, yeah, it does figure, if you believe that they're supposed to be together (how lovely I do). To miss what you thought was your best chance to have your soul mate... to "know" that you couldn't have them (with the sweet, total CERTAINTY of teenagers, who are usually wrong, and I know, because I used to be one X3).
And Watanuki... another sweet, deep regret in an entire house of them. Doumeki is fortunate that his regret CAN be remedied, and was, to the joy of the fangirls.
I do wonder, though, if Doumeki hadn't gone into the shut rooms... if over the course of years his regret would have become like Watanuki's. A regret that can never be made up for.
Hm.

You did an amazing job with their characters, and with the situation. The fic is a feast, and I've put it in my memories.

...sweet, and bittersweet, like a DARK, darkdarkdark chocolate-covered strawberry.
How... convenient, how fated, that the room Doumeki entered was the room with the hammer.
Hitsuzen is a hammer. hee.

Congratulations, and thank you so much for sharing.
One of the elements I wanted to feature in this fic was definitely the idea about regrets that can be remedied just by being true to yourself and not taking things for granted while they are there. But your comment about the certainty of teens was a lovely insight - thankyou! I'm totally glowing from your comment. Glad you liked the story!
Gahhhhh. Gahhhhhhhhhh. I think this might be one of the best Watanuki/Doumeki fics I've ever read. ♥ Kudos to you. A good idea, and a wonderful execution.
I HAVE TWO WORDS FOR YOU.

HELL. YES.
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Doumeki/Watanuki!!!!!!!!!!
One of my many OTPs!!!!!!!
Simply Gorgeous
Loved it.
I--alright. So. I stumbled across this from someone's del.i.cious page (or however that goes, I have one myself but I'm not inclined to make sure where the damn periods go) and I thought it was something else I'd read, but I am glad it wasn't. This was. Perfect. I mean, it was perfect with the history (I used to live up by Kamakura, so I know what you're talking about) and the details ('lopped-off cock' came into my head today for no reason and kept repeating itself) and it was perfect with Doumeki's gentleness and how everything was so in character and lovely and it was even more perfect when Watanuki saw his picture, with his parents, and then Doumeki's and the SEX (yeah, I felt the need to capitalise sex :P) and. Watanuki.

But the ending was what made me want to have your babies.

Your Doumeki = ♥. Every single time I read good fic I can't believe I can still love the guy even more than I already do.
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