By Amaranth Adanae

Disclaimer: XXXholic is the property of CLAMP. This fanfiction is written purely for entertainment, not for profit.

Originally posted on the doumekiwatanuki LJ Community; many thanks to Dragon's Daughter and the other members of the community for their suggestions and support.


"So…the price is my entire memory of Watanuki?" asked Doumeki.

The Witch of Dimensions nodded soberly. Her expression, while not without a certain sympathy, was implacable. Doumeki sighed inwardly. A kidney or a finger would be so much easier. Though his expression didn't change, Yuuko as always seemed to read his thoughts.

"No other price will do," she said. "To gain something of value, you must sacrifice something of equal value. The exact value, perfect and balanced. To gain something you desire so desperately, you must give up something you cherish as greatly. Shall I grant your wish?"

Doumeki didn't hesitate. Life without Watanuki, with only his memories to hold onto, was unthinkable. While Watanuki lived, there was always the opportunity to make new memories, to start over. Practice makes perfect. Their relationship might develop more easily, this time around.

Besides, Doumeki had been afraid he might come to this. He was not without insurance.

"Yes," he said, clearly and firmly. "Please grant my wish."

Chapter One

From the outside, Doumeki Shizuka's life looked perfect. At Tokyo University on scholarship, he coasted through his classes, excelled in both archery and soccer, and was popular with guys and girls alike.

He couldn't say he felt lucky, though. If he had been the kind to express his feelings, he would have said that he had the distinct feeling that something was lacking, that there was a huge, gaping hole in the middle of his life. Some of those girls thought his life would be even more perfect with the addition of the right girlfriend, so he had gone on a few dates. The experiences left him cold. He just wasn't interested.

Doumeki wasn't really interested in much, actually. It had occurred to him that the lack might be in him, rather than in his life. Certainly, some of his dates had thought so. Cold, they said. Indifferent. Unfeeling. What had seemed like cool and becoming reserve from a distance seemed, up close, more like apathy. Didn't he have any human emotions, they had asked?

He considered the matter. He didn't really think that he did. He felt the gnawing sense of incompleteness, of course. And he felt a certain emptiness in his stomach.

Doumeki eyed his lunch, cold soba noodles, with disfavor. He was hungry, he was always hungry, always craving something. But it was never what was put in front of him. Inari sushi, his mind whispered. Fugu. Flowing somen.

But no matter what he craved, it never tasted right when he got it. So he gave up. What was the point in ordering expensive food if he never enjoyed it anyway? He had pushed aside the entrées at fancy restaurants, and picked with dissatisfaction at the homemade offerings of his admirers.

Valentines Day was the worst. He always received and abundance of chocolate, with absolutely no enthusiasm. Even the most delicious looking chocolate ganache tasted wrong. The cake was always too dry, or too chewy, and the center was never the right temperature, and either too runny or too thick. He knew exactly what the perfect ganache should taste like…he'd just never encountered it.

Doumeki prodded at the noodles with his chopsticks for a moment, then pushed the bowl away with a sigh. His ennui was always worse when he was at school. At home, on vacations, he felt something that might almost be…anticipation. Or hope. Or something. When he was in Tokyo, his mind dwelled longingly on the thought of home.

So, maybe whatever I'm looking for isn't here? Maybe it's back there?

Doumeki turned the idea around in his head, and it felt right. At University, he was just marking time; he was further from his goal, whatever it was, rather than closer.

And any archer knew, anyone with any commonsense knew, that if you were having trouble hitting a target, the best strategy was to move closer to where you thought it was.

First step, then. Go home. It occurred to Doumeki that it felt good to have a plan of action. He pulled the bowl of soba noodles back towards him, and started slurping them down. They still tasted terrible, but he needed the energy.

After all, he had a mission now.