|Apr. 1st, 2009 @ 04:28 pm Sons of Sagittarius (Bleach/XXXholic, oneshot, Butterfly's Web universe)|
|Sons of Sagittarius
Characters: Doumeki and Ishida
Notes: Part of the Butterfly's Web universe (where XXXholic and Bleach share the same world), but a definite standalone.
Summary: Growing up, Doumeki Shizuka had a spastic, four-eyed friend with amazing domestic abilities who saw monsters. And it's not Watanuki.
Sons of Sagittarius
Twelve-year old Doumeki Shizuka stood behind his family's temple, practicing his archery.
He had never found it a particularly challenging sport. He was a talented when it came to shooting – whenever he sighted a target, he invariably hit it. Of course, he didn't always get a bullseye, which was why he practiced. His grandfather, who had passed away before he had been born, was a legendary archer. He needed to be at least as good.
He stood dressed in a traditional hakuma, relaxing as he listened to the sound of the birds that gathered in the nearby trees. It was peaceful, just the way it should be. He raised his bow, aiming at the target located a good twenty paces away and prepared to loose the arrow.
"You're doing it wrong," a young voice said flatly.
Doumeki relaxed the bowstring and looked at the intruder, less than impressed. The boy was a couple of years younger than he was, and dressed like an idiot. Instead of wearing a proper hakama or normal, everyday clothing, he wore an outlandish outfit of white that didn't approach anything resembling fashionable. He looked like a crazy gaijin, one of the ones that occasionally came to the temple wanting to learn archery for "role playing."
Still, Doumeki wasn't the type to dismiss anyone out of hand, for people had hidden depths. Had he been a more typical child, he might have taken affront at the accusation from a ten-year-old. But Doumeki was anything but typical. "What do you mean?" he asked.
"You're not putting your heart into it," the boy said, a disapproving frown crinkling his face. The boy held up his hands, like he was holding an invisible bow. "When you shoot, you need to think what you're shooting for."
"To hit the target?"
"Only if you have some deluded idea of what kyudo is," the boy said, rolling his eyes. "Hitting the target is part of it, but it's equally important to understand the spiritual side of the way of the bow." He eased his fingers, and although no arrow flew, Doumeki gained the impression that the target had been struck cleanly "Like that," the boy said, smiling with pleasure.
As tempting as it was to smack the boy down as arrogant, Doumeki couldn't. The boy had stood perfectly, and he had move with a grace which marked an experienced bowman. So instead he decided to ignore the source and try the wisdom.
Notching another arrow on his string, he stepped back and took a deep breath. He shut his eyes, listening to the movement of the air and the sound of his own heartbeat. He could feel the ground beneath his feet, and the strange boy's presence at his side. Opening his eyes a moment later, he released the arrow, knowing even as he let it fly that it would strike true and deep.
It was a subtle difference, but he grasped what the boy's point had been. Turning, he wordlessly waited for judgment.
"Better," the younger boy said with grudging approval. "But you have to believe in your arrow, not what you can see."
"I do not have the gift of sight," Doumeki responded. He wondered if this boy was as his grandfather had been, able to view spirits outside of the normal realm of vision.
"You have the power, though," the boy replied. "That means you need to know how to use it. If you don't have the gift of sight, you'll need to learn to trust yourself more. Power is meant to be used."
That was news to Doumeki, who had considered himself quite ordinary, and content to be that way. "I see," he said in a deadpan voice, unable to resist the pun.
The boy rolled his eyes. "I'm trying to help you here, stupid."
Insults normally rolled right off Doumeki's back, but there was something about this boy that was getting under his skin. He opened his mouth to offer a stinging retort, but the sound of another voice stopped him.
"Uryuu! Are you ready to leave?" an older man called, who was dressed in similarly ridiculous white clothes. He stood about twenty feet away under the temple's torii. "I'm done with my business."
The boy – Uryuu – pushed his glasses back up his nose, casting Doumeki a disdainful look. "So am I," he murmured, before spinning around and marching away.
Doumeki had never wanted to hurt anyone before, but he couldn't help by think Uryuu would look much better with two black eyes.
The second time he encountered Uyruu was at the local park. He didn't actually like playing there himself, but it was quieter than the temple. People – particularly the tourists which he loathed – didn't come looking for him to do anything, and he could be by himself.
Doumeki was the kind of boy to attract plenty of acquaintances, but few friends. It wasn't that there weren't plenty of people willing to become closer to him; it was that there were few people that could understand the undercurrents that made him who he was. He refused to let himself be neatly labeled and slotted into some category, and didn't like being called a "future priest" because he wasn't sure he wanted to grow up to take care of the temple.
When he want to the park, he inevitably found solitary activities to pursue. For today, that meant climbing the largest tree in the park, seeing how high he could get into its branches. The bark felt smooth under his fingers as he hoisting himself upwards, relying on the strength of his arms alone instead of using his feet. It was more of a challenge that way.
About fifteen feet up, he tilted his head up to see how much further he had to go when the leaves spoke.
"What are you doing here?" a decidedly unfriendly voice asked.
For a second, he wondered if he'd suddenly gained the power to hear the spirits after all, but the thought was deterred by his surprise. He lost his grip on the branch and started to fall out of the tree.
Two things saved him from suffering a potentially devastating injury. The first was his own reflexes, as he swung his legs sideways to try to get a grip. The other was a hand which, quick as a striking snake, grabbed hold of his shoulder to slow his descent. There was the sound of ripping fabric, but the hand managed to steady him.
Taking a few deep breaths, he settled himself the branch located right below him, knowing he'd been lucky to avoid injury. Then he looked at his savior.
Uryuu was perched on the branch opposite him, having made his own descent rapidly to prevent Doumeki from taking a tumble. Today he was dressed in the uniform of a very expensive private school, seemingly unconcerned about the damage he was inflicting on the fabric by climbing trees. It was better than the white outfit, but not much.
He also was smirking too much for Doumeki's liking. "Are you naturally clumsy, or do you have to practice?" he asked.
Doumeki knew when it was best to ignore a question. He wasn't about to rise to the bait. "What are you doing here?" he asked instead. "I've never seen you here before."
"It's a public park. I have just as much a right to be here as anyone," he replied. "And it's a good thing for you I was, because you could have broken your neck falling from this height."
"I wouldn't have fallen if you hadn't startled me," Doumeki pointed out.
"You should always be aware of your surroundings," Uryuu retorted. "I guess I gave you more credit than you deserved."
For a second, Doumeki considered pushing Uryuu out of the tree – he had several kilos on the smaller boy, so he was convinced it was possible. Uryuu's pompous attitude deserved some kind of response, and physical injury was appealing. But Uryuu had also kept him from falling, and Doumeki knew he was in Uryuu's debt.
"You ripped my shirt," he replied instead. He turned slightly, showing where the shirt had parted along with seam.
To his surprise, Uryuu held out his hand. "Let me fix it," he demanded.
Bemused, Doumeki shrugged out of his T-shirt and handing it over. The wind was a bit cold, but he didn't complain, waiting to see what the other boy would do.
Uryuu pulled out one of those travel sewing kits that Doumeki had never believed anyone actually carried. Digging through, he pulled out two spools of threads, and frowned slightly as he compared the colors to the shirt. Doumeki couldn't tell the difference between the threads, which both seemed to match the original fabric.
"I suppose this is close enough," Uryuu murmured to himself, though he didn't sound satisfied.
Uryuu's fingers were nimble as he repaired the shirt. His dexterity wasn't a surprise – he was an archer after all – but Doumeki found the slight humming the younger boy indulged in just a bit annoying. Boys weren't supposed to be that good at domestic tasks – or if they were, they weren't supposed to like them. Doumeki was one of the most open-minded of souls about gender roles, but that didn't mean he didn't realize when someone was just plain weird.
It only took a minute for Uryuu to return the shirt to Doumeki, who inspected it carefully before putting it on. The shirt looked as good as new, with Uryuu's tiny, even stitches blending into the fabric. If Doumeki hadn't known exactly where to look, he never would have noticed. "Thank you," he said, unable to think of anything else appropriate to say, but knowing he needed to acknowledge the other boy's work.
The boy raised a hand to straighten his glasses. "It's nothing."
It was one of the strangest situations Doumeki had ever found himself in, sitting in a tree with a boy who seemed to be a tailor. "Can I buy you an ice cream?"
"That would be acceptable payment," Uryuu replied. Then he blinked. "Though maybe we should introduce ourselves. I'm Ishida Uryuu."
"Nice to meet you," Ishida said, before pushing himself off the branch. Doumeki watched as Ishida took the 15-foot drop easily, landing like a cat on his feet.
Tempting as it was to try to keep pace, Doumeki wasn't foolish. He placed his hands on either side of him, using the limb like a high bar as he swung down. His drop – ten feet – was much more modest than the one Ishida had taken, but also more practical. There was no reason to take unnecessary risks.
Ishida was brushing himself off, using what looked like a lint brush. Doumeki didn't comment, straightening his own shirt before checking his wallet to ensure he had enough money.
He purchased ice cream at the nearby vendor – chocolate for him, strawberry for Ishida – before sitting down underneath a tree. Ishida ate the cone fussily, licking around the bottom meticulously to avoid dripping on his uniform. Doumeki was starting to wonder if he was a phobic of germs, or if it was just a byproduct of wearing such impractical clothes.
Thankfully, Ishida had the grace to concentrate only on eating, rather than filling the quiet with empty words. Doumeki tilted his face toward the sky, feeling pleasantly occupied as the sun brushed against his cheeks. He didn't pay attention as his cone melted all over his hand – he didn't really care that much for ice cream.
Ishida finished his cone and turned his attention back to Doumeki. “If you weren't going to eat it, why did you buy it?” he demanded, producing a handkerchief and handing it over.
Doumeki shrugged, not willing to explain. It wasn't about the ice cream so much as the atmosphere – enjoying a pleasant day, with a friend and a treat in hand. Despite Ishida's fussy nature, Doumeki found him to be good company.
That day triggered their growing friendship, although neither would admit it aloud.
He never figured out exactly why Ishida wore such a weird outfit (the white garments made periodic appearances on Ishida's skinny form), but it wasn't any of Doumeki's business, so he didn't let it bother him. Doumeki didn't put much stock in what others thought himself, so he wasn't going to be hypocritical.
Ishida came and went at irregular intervals, though not a month went by when he didn't show up at the shrine, ready to practice his archery or spend some time meditating. Since both of these were interests of Doumeki's as well, they'd usually do this together.
That didn't mean they talked about it, aside from Ishida's occasional condescending advice on archery, or Doumeki's pointed remarks that meditation required serenity. They disagreed when it came to kyuudo. Ishida said that it was important to use your anger when fighting, but Doumeki was a traditionalist who believed that the best archers found peace within themselves understood the sport best.
Ishida had shaken his head at that. "If you need to put your life on the line, you have to be honest with how you're feeling. The arrow will fly truer that way."
Doumeki found it an oddly anachronistic thought. Not many people nowadays would use a bow and arrow to defend their lives; but he'd known Ishida was weird.
They'd needle each other mercilessly on some days – Doumeki never did figure out what would cause these “bad days” - and on others there would be nothing but peaceful quiet.
It was Ishida who set the tones of their encounters, since Doumeki was a placid person at heart. Ishida wasn't, no matter what he may have wished. He pretended to be cool and collected, but the wrong word could set him off like a stink bomb. Doumeki found himself deliberately provoking them, just to watch him flail. Doumeki knew it wasn't very nice of him, but it was a lot of fun.
Doumeki would never admit it, but he found those spastic attacks utterly fascinating. By nature a controlled personality, he didn't quite understand what the fuss Ishida made, protesting about whatever bothered him. Doumeki thought it foolish; things worked out the way they did, and there was no fighting the inevitable.
There was only one time when their usual routine was disrupted.
It was one of those sticky days in the middle of summer break, where all it took was a single step outside to start sweating. Ishida had shown up early that morning, dressed in his usual ridiculous outfit, and they had spent several hours practicing their archery before retiring to the porch to enjoy slices of fresh watermelon. Doumeki's mother had prepared it for them, laughingly teasing them about how cute they were together.
The melon tasted sweet in his mouth, and Doumeki felt the tension in his back – gathered from putting up with a couple of Ishida's less-than-tactful comments about his aim – relax. There were too few days like this, where the sky was perfect and the company acceptable.
Ishida took a couple bites of his snack, but then the melon slipped from his fingers and he jumped to his feet. He faced about ten degrees away from Doumeki, his eyes locked on something in the distance.
Normally Doumeki would have taken the chance to recoup some points from Ishida, but the rigidity of Ishida's body was too great for teasing. "What is it?" he asked, holding his half-eaten piece of fruit casually.
Ishida's face, already paler than average, was so blanched it resembled a dead fish's belly. "You can't see it?" he asked softly.
"I wouldn't be asking you if I could," Doumeki replied calmly.
"It's... it's," Ishida's voice trembled slightly, before he took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. "I need to go," he said in a firmer tone. "Get to the shrine and stay there."
Taking orders from the younger boy wasn't something Doumeki was prone to do, but Ishida sounded much older than his years suddenly. He made a slight sound, which Ishida must have taken for agreement, because the younger boy took off in the direction he'd been staring, the melon laying forgotten on the ground behind him.
At no time did Doumeki consider following Ishida's order. Ishida might have been serious, but Doumeki wasn't about to abandon him. So he set off at a steady lope, trailing Ishida closely enough to keep him in sight, but far enough away that Ishida wouldn't hear his pounding footsteps.
Ishida never glanced behind him.
The white-garbed boy led Doumeki a merry chase, cutting an irregular path. It took Doumeki a moment to realize (as he climbed through the backyard of one of his neighbors, a woman who would definitely have words with his father if Doumeki was caught trespassing) that Ishida was taking the most direct route toward the nearby schoolyard. Ishida's head remained tilted upward, like he was seeing something Doumeki couldn't.
Finally Ishida skidded to a halt, ducking behind a sakura tree. The yard was empty of children (it was the weekend), but Ishida's actions indicated he was hiding behind someone. Doumeki crept up behind him, ducking behind a tree, brushing a couple of branches.
The noise was enough to grab Ishida's attention. His head whipped around, and he almost growled. "What the hell are you doing here? Go home."
"I'm staying," Doumeki said, feeling his own temper start to fray. "Something was bothering you, and I want to know what."
"It might get you killed," Ishida said, his head jerking back to the vacant playground. "You've got enough spiritual power to be a tasty treat to that bastard."
It was very, very tempting for Doumeki to just dismiss Ishida's rantings as those of a crazy boy, but Doumeki couldn't. The late Doumeki Haruka had been renown for his second sight, and while Doumeki himself didn't have those abilities, he at least believed in the other world. "What are you seeing?" he demanded again.
"It's a Hollow," Ishida explained, spitting out the name like a snake shot venom. "A soul which had lost itself, turning into a destructive force that devours other souls as it seeks to gain power."
"So what do you expect to do?" Doumeki asked.
"I'm a Quincy," he said. "I was born to kill Hollows." Ishida's head tilted upward with pride. He should have looked ridiculous, an elementary schooler standing in a weird outfit as he crouched behind a tree, but somehow Doumeki was convinced.
"With an arrow," Ishida said. Doumeki watched Ishida raise his hands like he was holding a bow, the way he had when they had met over a year before. There was grace in his movements, and Doumeki could only watch in appreciate as Ishida took aim, and then let his invisible arrow fly.
If it struck something, Doumeki couldn't tell by looking. Ishida's carriage relaxed a second later, like a great pressure had been released.
"I killed it," he announced. Despite his attempt at maintaining his cool, Ishida's hands shook slightly. Whatever he'd done, it had unnerved him.
"Good for you," Doumeki congratulated flatly. The whole episode was rather anticlimactic.
The lenses of Ishida's glasses flashed as the boy spun around, stepping away from the tree so he was facing Doumeki without anything between them. "Go ahead," he challenged.
"Go ahead?" Doumeki echoed.
"Go ahead and mock me. Call me crazy, but I know what I just did. There's several souls on this playground, and I kept them from behind destroyed. You can ask my grandfather, if you want more proof."
It could have been taken as the ravings of a lunatic, but Doumeki had witnessed Ishida's form – and his truly splendid shot. Whatever Ishida had been firing at, it had been real. "Don't need to," he replied a moment later.
"You believe me?"
If Doumeki hadn't been listening carefully, he would have missed the slight tremor in Ishida's voice. How he replied would shape the rest of their friendship would go, or even if they would be friends after this.
"I don't have to see to believe," Doumeki said. "If you say it's there, it's there. I've never known you to lie."
For a second, Ishida's expression remained blank as he stood frozen, dumbstruck before his expression shifted into one of immense relief and gratitude. Doumeki froze, suddenly overcome by the fear that Ishida would start blubbering or try to hug him like a girl.
Ishida managed to compose himself immediately, which saved them both from embarrassment. "Good! Next time, listen to me when I say to leave. You could have been in danger."
"Why? You were there, weren't you?" Doumeki asked. Ishida started to smile from the implied compliment, which made Doumeki feel more uncomfortable... so he decided to put the situation into blunt perspective. "I'm sure they'd find you much more tasty."
The eyebrow-twitch from Ishida that comment provoked was the best revenge, Doumeki decided. He took off running, deciding it would be a good idea to keep out of Ishida's arm's reach. And if he kept moving, Ishida would have less of a chance to hit a moving target with an invisible arrow. Not that Doumeki was entirely convinced that Ishida's invisible arrows would work on a human, but it was better to be safe than sorry.
They lost contact when Doumeki went to high school. Ishida moved to live with his father in a small city called Karakura not too long, which was several hours away by train. Neither were the type to get into long-distance friendships, and both had other concerns.
But when Doumeki Shizuka met Watanuki Kimihiro, he felt like he was meeting an old friend.