There’s a note on the table when he wakes up.
“Thanks, Mokona,” Watanuki says, yawning. He’s slept for a total of about six hours, he guesses, though of course it is impossible to tell in the space-time pocket he now calls home.
Then he actually reads the note.
“I want strawberry daifuku and oboro tofu – does he know how long one of these takes, never mind both?” Watanuki has to resist the urge to tear up the offensive note. “What if I have a customer today, huh? How would you like your tofu over-simmered and your daifuku falling apart?”
The worst thing is, Doumeki would probably just eat it anyway, like the heathen he is.
Watanuki slams the note down on the kitchen counter, yanking the fridge open. At least Yuuko-san’s already installed a proper fridge in the shop’s kitchen.
“Strawberries aren’t even in season right now!”
| ~ ¤ _ • ~ |
“What’s the matter, Doumeki-san?” Kohane asks.
It’s a sunny day at the university, the weather good enough that most students are out in the quad enjoying lunch instead of staying cooped up in the dreary buildings. The two of them are in a slightly more isolated area on the lawn, much to the amusement of their mutual university friends, but Kohane has quite given up on trying to persuade them that she has no romantic inclinations towards him, or that the gorgeous hand-made bentos that Doumeki brings aren’t actually from her.
It’s a little difficult to explain to regular humans as to why they’ll never be able to meet Doumeki’s significant other, after all.
Doumeki doesn’t answer, not that she expects him to. He’s squinting a little into his pretty bento, as though the rice has offended him in some way, and then eventually just closes his left eye altogether.
Ah, it’s Watanuki-san, of course.
Kohane’s been told that Doumeki is able to see through Watanuki’s right eye because of a magical connection they now have, although she doesn’t fully understand the details. In any case, nowadays it seems to come in handy when Watanuki needs to get in touch with Doumeki during the day? She hasn’t been able to enter the shop in years, but they’ve been doing this for a long time. She’s seen Watanuki hold up handwritten notes to his right eye before, scowling fiercely like he’s trying to set the paper on fire.
After about a minute, Doumeki opens his eye again, and continues eating without a word.
It must not be an emergency, then. Kohane knows that Watanuki used to use this connection between them to alert Doumeki sometimes, back before he inherited the shop and all of its magical power. Watanuki would never admit to it, of course, but she could see the relief in his body language every time he realised that Doumeki had his back in those situations.
Another minute passes before Doumeki speaks again.
“He wants me to buy strawberries later.”
Kohane has a strong suspicion that that isn’t what Watanuki had meant to convey at all, but she’ll keep that to herself.
| ~ ¤ _ • ~ |
“Welcome back,” Watanuki replies on autopilot, before his brain catches up with his mouth. “Wait, what the hell do you mean by ‘you’re home’? This isn’t your house!”
Doumeki toes off his shoes, slips on his pair of house slippers, drops his bag beside his chair at the table, picks up his cup to take a drink, and then turns to regard him silently.
Watanuki feels his cheeks heat. Fine, maybe Doumeki has a point there. But it’s just courtesy! Basic courtesy, and Doumeki’s overall slovenliness that causes him to leave all his stuff lying around Watanuki’s shop!
“I bought the strawberries.” And Doumeki has the... the audacity to nudge a punnet closer to him.
“That isn’t even the issue here!!”
| ~ ¤ _ • ~ |
Dinner is a sedate affair.
Well, as sedate as things ever got in the shop, with Mokona nearly rolling off the couch while clutching a sake bottle and Doumeki eating his weight in food before Watanuki’s even brought all the dishes out.
“What if I wanted some of the oboro tofu, huh?” he demands, slamming the tray of daifuku down.
Silently, Doumeki motioned with his chopsticks to the covered bowl at the other end of the table.
He’s still not going to apologise out loud, but he does deign to drag his bowl – filled with portions he would’ve selected for himself, had he’d gotten to serve himself first, and his last vestiges of frustration vanishes just like that – over to sit beside Doumeki.
The food is good, as always – given that he made it – but Watanuki barely tastes it. There’s something he can’t quite get out of his mind, and now that it’s taken root, it refuses to go away until he voices it out.
“I just don’t understand,” he says plaintively, poking at his tofu. “You can only enter the shop if you have a wish.” Watanuki slants a careful look over, but Doumeki shows no sign of understanding what he’s driving at. “And you’re here every day, which means that you’ve got that wish every day, but you always leave without asking me to fulfil it.”
It’s not that Watanuki’s masochistic, or anything. It’s been years since he’s seen any of his old friends – Himawari-chan has never been able to enter the shop, and even Kohane-chan has stopped coming around ever since she started university – and Doumeki’s literally the last link he has to his old life, to the outside world.
But he isn’t just Watanuki-the-boy anymore, he’s Watanuki-the-shopkeeper now, duty-bound to run the shop in Yuuko-san’s absence. If his client has a wish, then it’s his obligation to fulfil it.
Doumeki sets his chopsticks down, even though there’s one last daifuku mochi on the plate. It’s such an uncharacteristic move that Watanuki’s stunned into speechlessness.
He chews for a long moment, and then finally swallows.
“My wish,” Doumeki enunciates clearly, as though speaking to an idiot who keeps misunderstanding his intentions, “is to come home to you every day for the rest of my life.”