XXXHolic Fan Fiction ❯ Shatter ❯ Shatter ( Chapter 1 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
It was dark, and dim, and cold. There was cold without wind in this place, just as there was breath without air; the taste on her lips was a familiar taste, but the warmth of it was fading. There was a sound in her ears, a voice that was not-quite a voice, the voice of a mind. She felt its caress, even here, even in this place of nothing. It was a wish, and even in thought such things have power, impossible power. The dissolution of her soul ceased; darkness that had reached out from her heart to swallow her entire flesh began to wind backwards, unraveling like thread.
"No! No - "
The harshness that had first escaped in her voice broke down to softness with her second word, useless, she knew now, useless. The one impossibility that permitted all else to be possible - was it changing, was it undone? The dead cannot be returned to life; souls can be created, but not renewed. What was it that was happening, then? How was it that her death was now being turned back? She knew then, realized with a sudden spark of inspiration. Turned back - yes, it was all being turned back, not her death but the universe, not the dissolution of her soul but the soul of creation itself.
"You would dare - for me?"
The void was fading, becoming something where before there had been only darkness, not even enough light to illuminate the red flicker of her eyes. Solid senses surrounded her; suddenly the darkness was only the darkness of her closed eyes.
"Wake up; wake up! If it was done, at least let me know it! Before I - "
Slowly, very slowly, under the urging of his voice, her eyes opened. She felt the gentle tug of his hand on a long streamer of her hair, and her eyes followed his hand as he brought the strands to his lips, kissed them gently. His eyes were smiling and infinitely sad; she remembered her realization, as if from a dream, and her eyes widened - one hand reached out to touch his sleeve, where it had slipped down over the back of his hand. Her fingers were barely halfway, and then...he vanished. There was no light, no sound, no explosion; not a whisper or a murmur of power. The silence lasted for a fraction of a second, as long as it took for her to realize that he was not just vanished, that he was - gone. The tightness that was the red-thread between them had slackened; the deep, harnessed power of her otherworldly senses burned with the sudden loss.
The word, his name, gushed out of her throat with the purity and anguish that only love, broken, can bestow. The windows rippled under the pressure of that scream; outside, there was a babble of animal sounds, disturbed wildlife giving voice to their own raucous cries.
Slowly, she pushed herself up from the couch that he had laid her on - when it was beginning, when it was only just beginning - she felt the velvet crunch under her fingertips with unusual acuteness. For a long time, she sat still, staring at the reflection of the room around her in the glass of one half-open window. It was cold; there was snow in the wispy brush of the wind that she could feel on her cheeks, but the freezing touch was soothing.
"Clow...you fool. The price, you never...you never pay attention...to the price.”
Tears slid out of her eyes and down her cheeks, the line of her throat, between her breasts. The moonlight, rising, painted the lines of wetness with a silver glow.
When he came in, the whole shop was dark and silent. Only the single bulb that swayed over the entranceway was lit, casting strange shadows around his movements, not as wild or frolicking as usual.
He called for her as he was kicking off his shoes, but as he took the first step up into the shop, Maru and Moro appeared suddenly from the darkness, their eyes wide, each of them with a finger over their lips.
“Mistress is sleeping - “
“Sleeping, Mistress is sleeping!”
Watanuki allowed each girl to choose an arm to hang from, and tiptoed down the hall. The shoji with its translucent, delicate butterfly painting was shut, and the shimmer that usually turned the fragile paper golden, the light-glow from the room inside, was dim and pale. Carefully, slowly so that the movement of the door on its track would not make a sound, he slid it aside, peered into the dimness.
Yuuko was curled up on her lounging couch, not sprawled out like usual - her legs drawn up close, one arm hanging out over the edge, fingers curled gently upwards, the other hand gripping the faded velvet of the cushion under her as if for dear life. Watanuki stood still, his eyes wide, for a long time. In all the time he had been coming here, he had never seen her sleeping, and it was only now that he realized it. Only now, as he peered through the room's shadows as if they were hanging veils, only now, as he saw her face, covered by the loose, trailing strands of her hair, so open, so...human.
Yuuko turned, just the tiniest bit, and her hair parted, slid down her back in ripples, and the light from the dimmed lamps reached out for her exposed features as if it had been waiting. It illuminated dampness, sliding from under her closed eyelids, following the line of her cheek, and Watanuki realized with a feeling of shock that she was crying; she, Yuuko, the indomitable, the all-powerful,
Almost stumbling, he backed out of the room, suddenly even more intent on not making noise. He felt a black weight descend on him, a premonition of unease. Something terrible must be coming, must be going to happen, something worse than everything he had seen so far - and, considering what seen so far encompassed...yes, something horrible, the worst thing ever. What else could make Yuuko, his drunken, dominating, delirious, drugged Yuuko, cry?
It was not in him - he did not know enough - to suspect that the worst thing ever had already happened long before. That it was still happening; that the future held only the consequences, not the cause.
Watanuki slid the door shut and tripped his way to the kitchen; unknown worries were more efficient at blocking his path than lead weights and a brick wall would have been, but the familiar routine of cooking, the sounds and smells of the kitchen, soothed him. He didn't notice when the lights in the hallway outside the kitchen came on; he was too distracted by maintaining the perfect temperature in the oil for his tempura to hear the fairy-light footsteps that came up behind him, or the rustle of layers of silk as they settled one against the other as their wearer leaned against the doorframe. It was not until he stepped back from the stove, smiling, wiping at his forehead with the back of one hand, not until he happened to turn back into her elbow, jutting from the hand on her hip, that he noticed Yuuko standing behind him.
Much more quickly than he had at first, Watanuki reigned in his spasm.
“Yuuko-san, how many times do I have to ask you not to do that? I mean, sneaking up on people like that! Its so creepy!”
Without making it obvious, he was peering at her, trying to see if there was any hint, now that she was awake, of the thing that had disturbed her in her sleep. Despite his most intense efforts, he couldn't find anything, not a single indication that anything was, or ever had been, wrong.
“Watanuki! It isn't nice to call your employer `creepy', you should have better manners...”
Maru and Moro, popping up out of nowhere, had returned to their normal, boisterously repetitive selves; Mokona had taken up the position of a pirate's parrot on Yuuko's shoulder, but he still seemed to be asleep.
“Make fried chicken tonight, Watanuki!”
“But, Yuuko-san! I've almost finished making tempura already - “
“Not the same thing at all, as you know quite well! Only fried chicken will do! “
“Its fried, isn't it? And some of it is chicken - “
“Not the same!”
“Not the same!”
“Not the same -”
“Not the same!”
He whipped around, tongs waving furiously in the girls' direction.
“And thanks, but I can do without the chorus!”
“Chorus, the chorus!”
A tic was beginning to show at the corner of Watanuki's eye, and Yuuko let out an inaudible sigh of relief. It was good to see his frustration return to its normal, hypertensive level.
“Wa-ta-nu-ki-kun! Fried. Chicken!”
Her voice was bubblingly, sickeningly bright. Watanuki was giving her a skeptical glare, but the expression collapsed as Mokona opened one eye and then launched himself from her shoulder towards what remained of a bowl of tempura batter.
He was shouting so frantically and so quickly Yuuko was sure even he had no idea what he was saying anymore, but that was unimportant. What was important was the return to the daily routine, the removal of the last, suspicious, questioning bit of intent in Watanuki's face. Yuuko turned in the doorway and slid out of sight; the smile that went with her, the smile he did not see, was cool and thoughtful and sad.