The walk back to the shop was not going down in history as one of Watanuki's better moments. Denial wasn't working, the harder he tried not to think about it the harder he failed. He needed a distraction, and right now, blaming someone else at the top of his lungs was about all there was available.
"You know this is all your fault." Watanuki shouted over a shoulder. Extenuating circumstances, spirits, what-have-you be damned, this was just about all his sanity was holding on to right now.
"Oh?" Said Doumeki, only because Doumeki was saying it, it sounded a bit like "Why?", a bit like "Any how do you figure that?" and rather a lot more like "Maybe if I don't say anything you'll shut up sooner." He was trailing about ten paces behind, which Watanuki had decided was an acceptable distance – far enough to let Doumeki know he didn't want anything to do with him, close enough that Watanuki could still yell at him without being misheard.
"Well it is! If it wasn't for you I wouldn't have been dragged into any of that! Anyway, I thought you were supposed to be the one that repels those things!"
Doumeki couldn't really argue this point, although it did overlook the fact that there was every reason hypnotic suggestion might work even better if you couldn't see what was suggesting it. Even the owner of the house had never made the thing haunting the place out to be anything malicious, just – mischievous. Or something. In retrospect, they probably should've asked more questions about just exactly what he'd meant by that.
"It only wanted us distracted long enough to get away." Doumeki pointed out, more matter-of-fact than should have been humanly possible. He was also the one carrying the still completely empty glass lantern-like thing Yuuko had given them. It had been dropped heavily earlier that afternoon, but was miraculously uncracked. This was something of a small mercy at this stage, but having Yuuko charge him for damages when they got back on top of everything else was the last thing Watanuki was prepared to deal with.
Watanuki found himself automatically trying to do up the missing button on his shirt for the fourth time that day. They both looked a little the worse for wear, though it was only adding insult to injury that Doumeki's clothes were managing to look more artistically rumpled than as outright rolled-in-the-dust-one-the-floor-in as Watanuki's did. At least the other boy had the decency to look slightly uncomfortable about it all. "Couldn't it have found some other way to distract us?"
"Why are you asking me?"
"Who else have I got to ask? And how was that even remotely normal spirit behaviour?"
"You could ask Yuuko when we get back. She usually knows this stuff."
Watanuki gritted his teeth. The reaction they were going to get from Yuuko when they got back was one of the things yelling at Doumeki had been supposed to help him avoid thinking about.
"This is still your fault. I mean, how you could just let it coerce you into doing all that!" Watanuki firmly told himself there didn't need to be any descriptive verbs in that sentence. Doumeki had been there, he knew all too well what those verbs had been. "You were supposed to be…"
"Oi!" Doumeki interrupted, rubbing the side of his head. "You really didn't notice?"
"Didn't notice what?"
"That spirit thing. It left after the first ten minutes."
The response to that statement was really quite spectacular. Watanuki not only froze and turned right around in exaggerated slow motion, Doumeki swore could actually see the exact moment the implications sunk in.
"What do you mean it left, you never said anything!" Watanuki's face had gone approximately the shade of a tomato. "You never even stopped!"
"Yes I did."
"NO YOU DIDN'T! AND I WOULD KNOW BECAUSE IN CASE YOU FORGOT I WAS THERE!"
Doumeki continued rubbing his head. "It was when I hesitated and moved back for a moment. You remember?"
Watanuki gaped at him, horrified to realise his memory had indeed thrown up a matching card.
"You pulled me straight back down." Doumeki reminded him helpfully.
Watanuki's face ran out of reds and started moving into purples. "Well of course I did! I thought you were going to do that," he made an expressive gesture, "thing again!" The gesture actually meant 'that thing where you stopped and just looked at me with that horribly intense, longing expression until I stopped fighting and…' (and here even the gesture gave up in embarrassment), but you would have had to have been there to have any hope of interpreting that. In fact, Doumeki had been there, and even he was left at a loss.
"That thing where you looked at me like… like you did when you did that thing!" Watanuki finished. There were a number of adjectives that would easily have fitted into that sentence, several of which were rarely found outside of the sort of cheesy novels Watanuki most certainly never read. He firmly rejected all of them.
Doumeki's brain took a moment to finish processing this. "Is that why? You were more scared of me looking at you than…"
"FINISH THAT SENTENCE AND I SWEAR THERE WILL BE RAT POISON IN YOUR SUSHI TOMORROW!"
"…anything else we came up with." Doumeki finished smoothly.
"THERE IS NO 'WE'. I THINK I MAY HAVE MENTIONED THIS WAS ALL YOUR FAULT." He took a breath. "And you still could have said something you – you advantage taking person!"
"It was gone by then. We'd lost our chance to catch it." Doumeki reminded him reasonably. "Besides, you seemed to be enjoying yourself."
"THAT IS NOT THE POINT."
"Well, it isn't ever happening again." Said Watanuki.
"What do you mean 'okay'?"
"Okay, I heard you?" Doumeki suggested mildly.
Watanuki actually couldn't come up with anything to yell at that. Besides, something in his chest was reminding him that with all that screaming, he was getting a bit behind on his oxygen quota, and any time he'd like to start breathing again now, y'know, that might be good.
"Although…" Said Doumeki, after a bit.
"Yuuko is probably still going to want us to go back and catch that thing."
To his unmitigated horror, Watanuki realised Doumeki was absolutely right. "Next time we'll come up with a plan."
"A plan that doesn't involve any of this happening again!"
"I can hardly wait."
Watanuki planned madly for a couple of seconds.
"I'm open to suggestions." He admitted eventually.
"Yuuko will probably have some."
"None I'm going to like. And she'll make me pay for them."
"She's going to tease you about this for weeks."
"Not me, us!" Watanuki shrieked at him madly. "She's going to tease both of us! We're both in this together! We were both there!"
"I thought you said there was no 'we'?"
"There is when Yuuko's involved!"
By the time they got back to the shop, Watanuki had let Doumeki catch up with him again. Eventually, maintaining all that distance just wasn't worth the effort.