By Amaranth Adanae

Disclaimer: This is a fanwork; xxxHolic belongs to CLAMP. I am making no profit.

Chapter 6: The Shop That Wasn't There

Doumeki stood before the gate in the tall wooden fence and looked down the path at the Dimension Witch's shop. He had been half afraid that he wouldn't be able to see it, that he would be facing an empty, weed filled lot, but the eccentric house stood there, complete with its innumerable gables and crescent moon weather vanes. Hard to believe, really, that such a whimsical, foolishly charming looking place could be so dangerous, so deadly.

Frightening to think that, for better or worse, it held his future.

He started up the path, and was unsurprised when the front door opened. The soulless girls, who had begun their routine of singsong chanting and dancing, fell silent as soon as they saw him. They stood aside as he entered, flanking the door silently, and watched him with wide, solemn eyes as he toed off his shoes and stepped up into the shop. As he started towards the green and gold doors adorned with a red crescent moon directly before him, they scurried around him and, beckoning, slid open a side door. Nodding his thanks, Doumeki stepped inside.

His gaze was drawn immediately to the figure slumped over the table. Watanuki, clearly limned by the sunlight flooding through the tall bay window, brooded over a half-empty tea cup. He had traded his elaborate festival gear for a simpler robe of midnight blue so dark it was almost black, subtly embellished around the sleeves and collar, in a blue just a shade lighter, with a sinuous design of dragons. The outfit clearly suited Watanuki's mood; he looked subdued, as though some of his brilliant energy had been extinguished.

It was the impression of a fleeting moment; Watanuki looked up as soon as he entered with a polite, reserved smile in place—his professional face, clearly. The impassive mask gave way almost immediately. As soon as he caught sight of Doumeki, Watanuki's eyes widened, and his mouth gaped. Doumeki was glad; he hadn't cared for the bland, impassive face. It didn't suit Watanuki at all. Even the kitsune mask from the fair was more honest. That, after all, had obviously been a mask.

Watanuki leapt to his feet, gibbering, his arms windmilling wildly. "Aaiiieeee! What the hell do you think you are doing here? Weren't you listening at all? Why do I bother talking, when you never listen? And how did you get in, anyway? Only customers are allowed to enter the shop. So go away, you great oaf! Stupid dolt! Shoo! Shoo!" He made mad pushing motions at Doumeki, shoving him towards the doorway.

Sighing, Doumeki plugged his ears and dug his feet in, using his superior height and weight to resist Watanuki's frantic efforts to push him towards the door.

"Oi, moron. Quit. I have a wish."

The simple statement goaded Watanuki to even more exhaustive demonstrations of his exasperation.

"A wish? A wish? Are you insane? Do you know the price of wishes here? Do you remember what happens to most of the customers? Do you want to end up in the hospital, or as a monkey's paw? Or maybe you want to live the rest of your life as a shut in?" Doumeki tuned him out, and let him continue to rant. It probably did him good to get it out of his system. Maybe eventually he would wind down and they could move on to business.

Even Watanuki had to run out of breath, in the end. The bespectacled boy dropped heavily into his chair; Doumeki settled into the chair across the table from him. Despite his distracted state, Watanuki automatically pushed a plate of snacks towards him. Doumeki examined the snacks with interest, helping himself to a cup of tea before popping a tea cake filled with red bean paste into his mouth. He chewed thoughtfully. Delicious.

Across the table, Watanuki eyed him morosely. His elbows rested on the table, and his forehead was propped against his palms, fingers buried in his hair, causing it to stand up in agitated tufts. He watched without comment as Doumeki moved on to sample the mochi, savoring each mouthful of the flavored sweetened rice paste. Finally, as if he couldn't stand the silence anymore, Watanuki spoke.

"Be very careful what you say, here. If you make a wish, I have to grant it if it is in my power. You can't take it back." He glanced at Doumeki, and then looked away. "I can give you back your memories, if that's what you want."

Doumeki looked up sharply, studying Watanuki carefully. "Wouldn't that undo the earlier wish?"

"Yes," replied Watanuki. "The price would be that the earlier wish would be undone. But I can do it. And I will, if that's what you wish."

Doumeki moved his head sharply in a savage negative movement. "No."

Watanuki regarded him quizzically. "What is it that you want, then? Not, mind you, that I am encouraging you to make a wish. Most people who do end up regretting it. If they live long enough."

Doumeki continued to chew thoughtfully, and took a sip of tea, his eyes on Watanuki all the while. "So," he asked meditatively, "If a wish is in your power to grant, you have to grant it?"


"Regardless of whether you, personally, think that it is a good wish?"

"Yes," replied Watanuki with annoyance. "If it is in my power to grant the wish, I have to grant it, as long as the customer is able to meet the equal price. I can advise them against it, but once the wish is made, I am obliged to fulfill it."

"Ah. Okay, then. I want you."

"WHAT?!" As expected, Watanuki exploded. His face went pink, then red, then a deep purple. His eyes bugged, his jaw dropped, and his hands waved in the air. It was one of the most amusing things Doumeki had ever seen.

"I want you. As a friend, at least. More than that, though, I think."

"Why?" asked Watanuki in disbelief. "You don't even remember me!"

Doumeki shrugged slightly. It was just one of those things that WAS. There wasn't any point in analyzing it, or trying to explain it. The sun rose. The sky was blue. He needed Watanuki. Memories, or lack thereof, didn't enter into it. He didn't have the words to express it.

Watanuki, however, was looking with an expression that was somewhere between bemusement and wariness. Doumeki suspected that the magnitude of his wish hadn't really sunk in yet—if Watanuki had realized all the ways that Doumeki wanted him, he would be spazzing into next week. He supposed he owed it to the other boy to try.

"When I was young, my grandfather would spend hours teaching me about spirits and supernatural things. I lived for those stories. Even though I couldn't see those things myself, they were more interesting and more real than anything in the world that I could see. After he died, I felt like part of me had been amputated."

"When I see you, it's like that, but more so. You give me back the parts that have been missing. The last few days have been more interesting that anything I can remember in years. I want to live in your world, and see things through your eyes. I don't want to go back to being dead."

Watanuki had risen, and gone very still. His eyes suddenly looked very catlike, heavy lidded with elongated pupils. Doumeki felt the hair at the back of his neck stand up. This, he thought, was the wish granter, the apprentice of the Witch of Dimensions. He stood quickly, and scooted around the table. One hand reached to encircle one of Watanuki's thin wrists, the other reached up to cup one side of Watanuki's jaw, tilting his head up so that he could look into his eyes. He had, for an eerie moment, been afraid that Watanuki was about to vanish again; the boy was reassuringly solid under his hands. He could even feel the pulse beating in Watanuki's wrist.

"Ah, so," said Watanuki, a strange little smile playing over his lips. "That is a wish I can grant, but the price may be high."

"What is the price?" whispered Doumeki.

"Your very soul, and all the rest of the days of your life."

"That seems fair enough," said Doumeki, one corner of his mouth curving in a faint smile.

"Then may your wish…be granted," whispered Watanuki against his lips, just before Doumeki pressed against him in a kiss.


Watanuki drew back from Doumeki with a start as the shrill ring of a telephone shattered the stillness of the shop. He darted across the room, and lifted the receiver before the phone had a chance to ring a second time.

"Moshi, moshi," he said, as he put the receiver to his ear. He listened for a moment, and responded to the caller with an, "Ah, hai," and listed for a few more seconds before going bright red and removing the receiver from his ear before turning to glare at it. He returned the receiver to his ear, and began to stutter at the mouthpiece, only to stop short when all he heard was the dial tone. Apparently, the caller had hung up.

"That," said Watanuki, pointing an accusing finger at the phone, "was Yuuko. She is coming home this evening."

"Ah," replied Doumeki.

"She suggested taking the rest of the day off, and said that I didn't have to be here to meet her when she gets back, if I have 'other plans.'"

"Good," said Doumeki, slipping his arms around Watanuki's narrow waist.

"She also said," continued Watanuki on an aggrieved note, "to be sure to leave dishes for dinner in the kitchen. And plenty of sake."

"Be sure to prepare enough for us, too," said Doumeki.

"I am NOT a vending machine. Nor, I will remind you, am I a caterer. Or even a worker at a fast food restaurant…" Doumeki interrupted before Watanuki could hit his stride.

"What did she say that made you blush like that?" he asked curiously.

"She said to have fun," snarled Watanuki, still slightly pink.

Doumeki smiled. "I intend to."


Authors Notes: Happy Fourth of July! A holiday present for everyone who has been kind enough to read. Doumeki's wish, for those who are curious: Watanuki was seriously ill, possibly dying, suffering from some form of "Author is too Lazy to Come Up with an Authentic Sounding Injury or Illness"-not quite as life threatening as falling out the window or, obviously, Doumeki couldn't pay the price, but something that Yuuko could offer a fix for, in exchange for their 'relationship'. Doumeki, of course, pays the price. However, having known Yuuko for a good long while now, and possibly familiar with the price she had charged Sayoran in TRC, stashed the photo with note as his 'insurance.' Thus setting into motion his 'treasure' hunt, and the ensuing plague of cliffhangers. Thanks for reading! -A.A.