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Apprentice (xXxholic, Doumeki/Watanuki)

Title: Apprentice
Author: lanerose
Fandom/Pairing: xXxholic, Doumeki/Watanuki
Rating: PG
Warning: References to violence, language
Word Count: 1410
Prompt: Doumeki/Watanuki - hurt/comfort, set around whenever Watanuki takes over the shop, possible difficulties with a client who threatens Watanuki.
Author's Note: I swear this fic has *nothing* to do with the tv show of the same name. Kind of an unhappy coincidence, but I can't convince myself to change it. Further notes at the end. Mokona also plays a pretty big part in this, with Maru, Moro, and Himawari filling in bit parts.



Apprentice


“If an apprentice does not hear what a master hears, is then that quality not present in the music? Yes and no. In the world in which the apprentice lives, no.” – Robert Fripp

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“I don’t even want to hear it from you,” Watanuki growled as Doumeki followed Maru and Moro into the shop. The girls had already grabbed his grocery bags, leaving Doumeki free to walk right up to Watanuki and grab him by the chin. Watanuki struggled in his grasp, beat futilely against his chest. “Let go of me, you idiot!”

The bandage covering Watanuki’s left cheek was long and wide, but so was the hook that had gauged him earlier that afternoon. The bandage was clean, though, which meant that the bleeding had likely stopped. A quick glance shared with Mokona confirmed that the wound had been properly disinfected, too. Doumeki let Watanuki go.

“You’re too careless,” Doumeki said. Watanuki’s shoulders huffed up briefly, but relaxed almost as quickly. The veneer of the shopkeeper hung over him like a mantle.

“What was I supposed to do?” Watanuki asked, the question icily calm and clearly rhetorical. “He had a wish that needed to be granted. The owner of this shop is not free to pick and choose whose wishes he may grant.”

And with that, Watanuki got up, adjusted his kimono, and headed into the kitchen to make dinner.

Doumeki watched him go, still unsure how to handle this Watanuki-who-was-not-Watanuki, this infuriatingly calm man who sometimes took the place of the spark and passion that were Watanuki’s stock in trade. He had never thought to be wistful for Watanuki’s loud shouts and random gabbering (at least, he had never thought to admit to enjoying them), but times were changing.

“Some things are handed down with the shop,” Mokona said softly. Doumeki looked down at the little black creature. Mokona stared at the doorway that Watanuki had disappeared into, his big ears drooping by his sides. “The wound wasn’t as bad as it could have been.”

“Not as bad as it could have been?” Doumeki replied, unable to hide the incredulous lift of his eyebrow. He had seen the hook coming down – had had it fade into his vision as he sat in math class, a sudden burst of vision from their shared eye as Watanuki’s natural panic response broke past the wall the shopkeeper erected to send the flash of danger across their link.

“No.” Mokona sighed. “Foolish Watanuki forgot to take the price from the customer before he offered him the item he had come for. Watanuki scratched the customer when he attacked and tried to run away without paying at all, and kicked him, which stopped him long enough for the store to take action.”

“The store…?”

“Some things are handed down with this shop,” Mokona repeated, and shook his head. “Foolish Watanuki could have been hurt much much worse.” Mokona’s ears perked up. “But now Doumeki is here, and Watanuki will make good food.”

The little black ball of fluff bounced into kitchen. Doumeki stared after it a moment, then followed.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“How is Watanuki?” Himawari asked at school the next morning. She had visited Watanuki once, and only once, and the pain in Watanuki’s eyes whenever her name is mentioned has kept Doumeki from asking either of them about it since. She asked most mornings, though.

“He’s well,” Doumeki said, and gave her a slight smile like always.

Himawari smiled, and Doumeki couldn’t tell if she believed him or not, which was almost certainly the cost of his lie.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Watanuki was sleeping when Doumeki arrived that evening.

“Watanuki won’t wake,” Maru told him.

“Sleepy Watanuki,” Moro added, nodding her head several times.

“Shhh!” the girls hissed together.

Doumeki didn’t push past them because that would have been rude, but he did walk closely enough behind them that they got the point and walked faster. Watanuk was stretched out on the futon Yuuko had always favored (“She was lying on it the day I met her and almost never got up from it if she didn’t have to,” Watanuki had rambled at him once when he was pretending not to pay attention.), his eyes tightly closed. The bandage was off his cheek, an ugly, thick scab decorating his face instead.

“Oi,” Doumeki called from the doorway. Watanuki had always been a light sleeper, prone to waking at almost any motion, but he did not so much as stir. Doumeki stepped further into the room. “Oi, Watanuki.”

“Sleep Watanuki!” Maru and Moro sang, dancing in circle. “Watanuki won’t wake.”

They hadn’t been quiet. Hadn’t even been trying to be quiet, in the totally unsuccessful way that they sometimes had.

Watanuki was still sleeping.

“Oi, Kimi!” Doumeki repeated, louder still. He reached for the curtain –

“Doumeki,” a soft voice said. The black mokona hopped into the room from the kitchen. “Kimihiro needs to sleep.”

“What happened?” Doumeki asked, tracing the plains of Watanuki’s face with his eyes. He was paler than ever, and thinner than usual.

“The keeper looks after the shop, and the shop looks after the keeper,” Mokona said, nodding enthusiastically. “Even now that it’s silly Watanuki. You remember, that time when Yuuko granted a wish for you and Himawari -”

Doumeki had earnestly tried to forget that time, except to remember that Watanuki as yet another example of the fact that Watanuki was an idiot.

“I wish–“

“Don’t!” Mokona said. Remember where you are. And Doumeki’s eyes went wide as Watanuki stirred slightly, yawning.

The quiet stretched between them for a long moment.

“Some things are passed down with this shop,” Mokona said eventually.

But not everything, didn’t need to be added.

“Since its quiet, I’ll do some work here,” Doumeki said instead. He pulled a bottle of sake from his grocery bag and handed it to Mokona, who accepted it with a wide grin.

“Doumeki has good taste.”

Doumeki gave the bag of groceries to the girls, who took it into the kitchen and (probably) put it away. He stayed until eleven, when Watanuki still looked pale but when the scar on his face had dimmed to a lighter shade of red, and looked thinner. He gather his books and left quietly.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

By the third day, Maru and Moro had no idea what to do with Doumeki and his nightly vigil. Mokona smirked and accepted his alcohol. Doumeki didn’t try to explain, but still showed up the following night.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Watanuki greeted him at the door on the eighth day.

“Welcome to the shop,” he said, head bowed and eyes closed. “May I –“

“Oi, Kimi,” Doumeki interrupted. Watanuki looked up sharply. His cheek was completely clear, no scar at all, with a healthy flush tinting the skin.

“My name is not Kimi!” he shouted. “What are you smiling at, Doumeki?”

Doumeki thrust the bags at him. “Make me dinner.”

“Does this look like a restaurant to you?” Watanuki shouted as he took the groceries, shrugging out of his ceremonial robe. Maru and Moro scooped up the shopkeeper’s apparel as Kimihiro made his way to the kitchen, yelling all the way.

“Watanuki is feeling better,” Mokona said.

The smile slipped from Doumeki’s face, though.

He didn’t ask, For how long?

“Hey you,” Watanuki shouted, storming back into the entrance way, “I hope you’re in the mood for oyakodon, because that’s all I’m going to make.”

Doumeki looked at him, scarf tied around his head and glaring for all he’s worth, really looked at him and committed the image to his memory.

“Doumeki…?” Watanuki said, lowering his crossed arms to his sides. He stepped into the entryway. He looked faintly alarmed. “I can make some vegetable tempura, too, if you want?”

Doumeki was silent a moment longer, looking at the man who was very much not the keeper of this shop.

“And mochi,” he said around the lump in his throat.

“Mochi?” Watanuki came even closer, holding his head in both hands. “How much time do you think I have?”

Mokona jumped onto Watanuki’s shoulder. “Plenty.”

Doumeki smiled.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“No one has ever completed their apprenticeship.” – Johann von Goethe

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” – Ernest Hemingway

Author's Note: To my requestor~ I'm sure this isn't what you had in mind when you made the request. To be honest, it's not what I had in mind when I started writing it either, but somehow this is where it went. Hope you liked it anyways! ^.^;;; I also have it in my head that half the reason Doumeki calls Watanuki "Kimi" all the time is as a nickname for "Kimihiro", though yes, I do know that it also just means "you." So... yeah. Fic. ^_^

Comments

Somehow this is very sad. I enjoyed reading it, but... it still strikes me as tragic.
No, I agree - it's a h/c fic that kinda fails at the c side of life. -_-;;; But I don't think they can really get a happy solution until Yuuko returns, if that makes sense?
This is clamp. I have no hopes for a happy ending.
*LOL* Point taken.
I really, really liked this-- Doumeki's attempts to keep things normal, even when things so clearly aren't, Himawari's sadness; just excellent.
Thank you!! I'm glad you liked it! ^_^

November 2010

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