Chapter 1: Sleep
Watanuki Kimihiro often fancied he'd forgotten what sleep was like. He spend half his unconscious life conversing with spirits, healing or trying to avoid nosey grandfathers who had far too much time of their hands. The other half was spent being woken by the irritating jingle that had once again, driven him from his warm futon.
He sighed, he knew the routine now after months of the same thing, and glanced at the clock. 3. 30 Am. Another sigh, and he pushed the answer button and put the phone to his ear.
"What?" He growled.
The silence was nothing new. He briefly considered shouting and flailing at the boy on the other end of the line, but figured his neighbors wouldn't be pleased, and it really was too late to argue anyway… So Watanuki waited for the usual and inevitable answer.
"Don't Oi me you big buffoon, or are you still too stupid to remember my name? You titanic idiot of idiots! Its 3.30 in the morning so just tell me what you want in your stupid bento and go away!"
Silence once again, greeted his hoarse whisper. He flumped backwards against the pillows, exhausted.
The seer spluttered, feeling the blood rushing to his cheeks, "D-d-don't you call me that either! It's not like we're friends or anything! Call me the great Watanuki-sama!"
"You can call me Shizuka."
Did the voice on the other end of the line sound ever so slightly hurt? The seer wondered if he hadn't spent so much time around his nemesis would he have heard anything other than boredom? No, he must have imagined it…
"I… What do you want?"
"I can't sleep."
Watanuki wandered towards his front door, and quietly opened it. "Get in here you idiot, its cold!"
The small smile on Shizuka's lips almost made the exhaustion worth it.
Chapter 2: Waiting
There were times, when Watanuki and Doumeki were busy exchanging their own particular brand of friendship, that Himawari found herself staring.
She spent more time than she cared admit, just watching the pair interact. She found herself drawn to their odd alliance. She watched silently smiling, while Watanuki spazzed and Doumeki smirked, and saw all the things they denied when pressed on the subject.
"Watanuki-kun and Doumeki-kun are such good friends!"
Day after day she would happily contemplate to herself.
It didn't occur to her for some time that Doumeki was waiting for their energetic be-spectacled friend to notice him. The realisation of her friends' feelings spurred on her curiosity, and she began to wonder if Watanuki would feel the same… would they ever kiss? Would she be able to watch? (She grinned to herself as the errant thought passed through her head) Would they stop arguing like an old married couple, or would it get worse? Oh wouldn't it be fun!
She wondered really, how long Doumeki was willing to wait… She suspected, as she watched the Archer grab his friends hand and helped himself to whatever was on the end of the chopsticks he grasped, that it wouldn't be much longer. And judging from the bright telling blush and indignant squawk coming from Watanuki at that moment, it wouldn't be long before the denial that still stammered, unsaid but tangible in the air around them, would be gone altogether.
Doumeki looked up and saw her staring, a mischievous glint in her brown eyes.
"It's ok Doumeki-kun, He'll get it eventually."
A barely noticeable widening of the eyes, A small smile… and a nod.
Chapter 3: Winter
Snow covered the temple like a snug blanket, and Watanuki was laughing. His head tilted back, mouth open wide, clutching his stomach… real laughter. Something that Doumeki had only seen a few times from his otherwise spazztastic friend.
The bespectacled teen had fallen to his knees now, he bent forwards, not caring about the cold wetness seeping through his trousers, immersed in uncontrollable giggles.
Watanuki laughed harder, pointing at the white slush stuck to the side of the archer's stoic face. The soft flakes were slowly melting into his hair and no doubt already dripping through his scarf and into the collar of his jacket.
"I-I… So funny… S-so…" Watanuki spluttered, "Who hit you?"
Doumeki grumbled something under his breath and looked over at Himawari and Yuuko, both sitting demurely on the temple porch not far away… looking suspiciously innocent.
Watanuki almost collapsed again, holding his hand against his face to keep in the giggles threatening to burst forth. He stood slowly, closed the distance between them and gently swished the melting snow from his rivals face.
Doumeki flushed slightly, his eyes widening at the unexpected gesture…
"Even idiots catch colds, you know."
Doumeki huffed and glared and snuggled into his scarf, as the giggles exploded into the chilled afternoon air.
Chapter 4: Half
Watanuki was aware of the weird double vision that Doumeki sometimes experienced when the cook wasn't able to keep his emotions in check. He was also painfully aware of how embarrassing the situation could become if he wasn't careful. He was not aware however, that the connection worked both ways…
It started small at first, just little glimpses of Doumeki's day to day routine. For weeks he saw the stoic archer eat cheap cup ramen with his parents, sweep the temple grounds, practice after school… All pretty innocent stuff. Watanuki was irritated, but eventually the happenings became almost routine and he learned to ignore the tiny windows into his rivals existence.
Deep down he figured he owed him the courtesy of not spazzing for once… after all, the eye had been shared, and there wasn't anything either of them could do about it now. Besides, when did Doumeki ever complain?
A bright spring day, and another backbreaking afternoon spent cleaning the vast storeroom of Yuuko's shop. Watanuki huffed, and with rolled up sleeves attacked another dust laden shelf full of oddities. Yuuko lounged on an ornate chaise at the end of the room, watching her employee with a sly smirk and a bottle of sake.
"Wa-ta-nu-ki!" She sang, "Don't forget to dust all the nooks and crannies!"
The bespectacled boy sneezed loudly and pointed an outraged finger at the witch, "When do I ever miss a single spec of dust? Hmmm?"
Yuuko just lazily smirked back at him, a knowing look in her eyes. "Have you seen anything with that eye lately? Anything interesting?"
And as if she had known it would happen… as if she was sitting there, being irritating just so she could witness this moment… (And later, Watanuki deeply believed this was the case.) Watanuki's vision shifted slightly, and suddenly half of his sight was centred on Doumeki Shizuka, reflected in his bathroom mirror.
A shiver ran up Watanuki's back, and he let out an outraged skwark of surprise before slapping a hand over the offending eye and turning a becoming shade of pink.
"T-that… That PERVERT!" He stormed from the room, muttering obscenities as he went.
Yuuko's smile widened, and she waved the now empty bottle about, "Watanuki-chaaaaaan! More Sake!"
If Doumeki Shizuka was surprised at an eye-patch being thrust at him the next day at school by an outraged, and profusely blushing Watanuki Kimihiro… he didn't show it.
Chapter 5: Empty
Before the spirits, the witch and Watanuki, there had been routine. Get up, dress, sweep, wash, change, eat, go to school, study hard, eat, study some more, practice, home, change, sweep, eat, study, wash, sleep. Life was predictable, stable and safe.
Before Watanuki Kimihiro wandered into his life, he had been just like everyone else. There were no strange parties in parks, or drinking with witches.
He got drunk a lot less.
Before, there was no danger to his life, no one he had to protect. He never got into fights, never hurt from more than the occasional paper cut. He never spent nights away from home, nights waiting in the dirt and the rain.
He had less scars to hide.
He had friends, of a sort. He got on well with his classmates, but he didn't have anyone he felt strongly about. He had nothing he felt strongly about really, unless you counted archery and his parents. But those are everyday things right?
He had a slew of girls spewing confessions, all of which he hastily rejected… still waiting for someone to make his heart feel anything but abject boredom.
There was less heartache.
All this was his life before.
Before Watanuki Kimihiro, his life had been empty.
Chapter 6: Twist
Sometimes Watanuki wondered if he should make a book of all the horrors he had seen. An Illustrated guide to monsters. It would have been nice, he decided, to make a bit of money from his daily horrors. Of course then he would have to spend his precious spare time studying the nasties that plagued him, and he really didn't know much about a lot of the monsters so he would have to ask Yuuko for help, which would in turn cost him more than it was really worth. That dammed witch would probably insist on royalties, he grumbled to himself.
And then who would he sell it to anyway?
All this he pondered as he walked towards the shop after school. He was so preoccupied with laughing at his own folly he didn't notice the twisting, writhing ball of energy that was lurking just behind him.
Chapter 7: Footsteps
The sky was dark as Watanuki made his way home, late again from serving the Witch, and tired enough to drop. The empty streets made him nervous, but there was only another corner to go before he was in sight of his apartment. He could run if he had to, right? The footsteps he had been hearing behind him were just something his overactive imagination had cooked up.
He hurried along, shivering in the night air. He tried to think of what delicious foods he would cook up for tomorrows bento, he thought of Himawari's bright smile as he offered her his home cooked meal, and thought of Doumeki's annoying smirk as he stole from any box other than his own. The footsteps were quicker now, and Watanuki was defiantly not thinking about ghoulish, dripping monsters come to eat him up, nor black choking clouds of smoke that would blind him before a beast could take a bite, and he was defiantly, most positively not thinking of Doumeki rounding the next corner, bow in hand, ready to protect him from whatever it was in the darkness.
He almost broke into a run, his apartment finally in sight at the end of the street, the footsteps constantly drawing nearer. He had almost made it to his door, was already fumbling for his keys, when a strong hand clasped around his shoulder.
Watanuki felt his heart stop and leapt like a scolded cat. "AAAAAAAAAAHHHH! GETOFFME! GETOFFME!"
"Hn. You're noisy."
"DOUMEKI YOU BASTARD!"
"I want Takoyaki tomorrow."