XXXHolic: Hitsuzen

The Closing


The P.E. teacher blew his whistle to signal the start of another race. They were doing track today in class.

"Wow, you two are really fast!" Suzume complimented Watanuki and Doumeki as she and Suzume crossed over from the girl's side to talk to them since the four of them had finished running.

"You're pretty fast yourself." Himawari told her with a bright smile. Suzume had outrun the other girls in her group without breaking a sweat. "You three really are terrific!" Himawari praised them with a bright smile. She wished she could run like that. Watanuki light up like a Christmas tree.

"But, Himawari-chan, his success today was just luck!" Watanuki said, pointing at Doumeki, with a sparkling smile.

"I'm wounded." Doumeki reminded him. "So when it turns out that we tied… It means that I am more talented." He said, raising his head a little.

"What was that!?" Watanuki demanded incredulously with a vein mark on his forehead.

"Pfft!" Suzume laughed while Himawari smiled. These guys were too funny.


The four of them glanced up when they heard someone laughing really loud. It was that woman with the monkey's paw. She was talking to another group of students. Apparently she had decided to avoid them after Suzume accused her of using it to steal.

"She seems to be enjoying herself." Himawari commented.

"Then I showed the monkey's paw to the professor, and he suddenly looked all nervous and afraid!" The woman said told the other students, looking thoroughly amused. "But everything was okay. My luck is just the best!" Watanuki furrowed his brow slightly as a bead of nervous sweat slid down the side of his face, and he exchanged a worried look with Suzume.

That woman really didn't see anything wrong with what she was doing…


{Later that evening…}

"Of course!" The woman said excitedly as she talked on the phone in her apartment. "Sure I will! Thank you so much!" She hung up and hugged the phone, smiling happily. "The professor just loved my seminar! He said a publishing house was interested in publishing me!! The monkey's paw found me some great research materials… and they led to me writing a lecture on the 'Yata no Kagami' mirror. This mirror was a good reference too!" She said, referring to the one she had wished for from that shop. "It's old. It has all the right markings. It could be the real 'Yata no Kagami' mirror. Of course, there's no way it's real… but anyway, I should treat my last two wishes with care." She said with a smirk. Those kids were definitely wrong about it. "The fact that I have the monkey's paw is a sign of my strong luck! It may have turned out bad for others, but it'll be fine fore me!"


{Yuuko's Shop}

"The only ones who can change an attitude are those who can see the other person with their hearts." Yuuko mused aloud as she stood in her treasure room. "The monkey's paw has no emotions or gratitude. It doesn't concern itself with consequences. She doesn't understand how frightening that thing is. That's why the 'stone' will continue to roll. And it only picks up speed."


{The next morning…}

'What'll I do? I've really over slept this time!' The woman thought nervously, checking her watch as she waited for the next train. 'Today's the last day of educational training! I have to conduct a class in front of all the other teachers! And now I'll be late!' She chewed on the nail of her thumb. 'If only there were an accident! That way I would have a police report to prove the reason why I was late, and they'd cut me some slack…'


"Eh!?" She said, alarmed when she heard the sound of one of the monkey paw's fingers breaking from inside her purse. What the…!? Her eyes widened in horror when the person standing next to her suddenly fell forward onto the rail.


The oncoming train's breaks squealed, but it was too late. She could hear people screaming as blood splattered all over the rails. Some of it had even landed on her boots…

"Some guy just fell in front of the train!"

"He got run over!"

"That didn't…" She said shakily as a bead of nervous sweat formed on her brow. "That didn't count as a wish, did it!?"


{That afternoon…}

"I don't mind making you lunch… but why do I also have to make you snacks for after you're finished with you're club!?" Watanuki demanded incredulously as he dramatically thrust the arm holding the snack bento boxes into the air.

"Because Watanuki-kun's cooking is delicious?" Suzume said with a smile, tilting her head slightly. Apparently, she had decided to stay and watch Doumeki practice again.

"I have to work later than normal because of all the practice I missed because of my wound." Doumeki deadpanned, waving his injured hand back and forth as if it were nothing.

"Urk!" Watanuki grit his teeth as a vein mark popped up on his forehead. Just how long was it going to take to pay this jerk back…!?

"So, did you include the Inarizushi?" Doumeki asked as he accepted the snacks.

"It's in there! The triangular ones! And I don't take orders!" Watanuki snapped, shaking his fist, as yet another vein throbbed on his head.

"Yay! That's my favorite kind~!" Suzume cheered brightly. Apparently, she planned on eating some of them too.

"Triangular is good for Inarizushi." Doumeki said. "Fox-spirit's ears are triangular."

"Mm-hm." Suzume agreed with a smile and a nod of her head. That's what made them cute.

"!" Watanuki flinched in shock. "Why are you spouting fairytales?" He asked Doumeki, completely taken aback. "It doesn't fit your character!"

"Hm?" Suzume said, frowning when she saw a wisp that black smoke float into view. Watanuki turned to see what she was staring at.

"Gak!" He exclaimed, reeling back. It was that woman, and she was surrounded by wisps of black smoke, even though the tube was closed and still inside her purse.

"She's different today." Doumeki commented as she stalked past them, obviously too wrapped up in her own problems to notice their presence. "And I doubt it's simply because today is the last day of training." He added, noticing the looks on the others' faces.


"It only has one finger left!" The woman exclaimed nervously when she got back to her apartment, finally feeling like she had enough privacy to check the monkey's paw. "I just had a passing thought, and it took it for a wish!"


"Hello?" She said, quickly answering the telephone. "… Professor! Eh!? W-Wait just a second! I never stole anything in my life!" She insisted adamantly. "Y-Yes… I was in the library that day… and I met with some friends from class… But I never stole research materials from anyone!" She gasped. "You're saying that the person whose data got stolen was in the library at the time? How did I come up with my class exercises…?" She started to shake. Where? That was a good question… "A book!" She said. "I saw them in a book!" That had to have been were the monkey's paw got it, right? There's no way— "… Eh?" She said as her eyes widened. "You mean those same exercises were made up by the grandfather of that student? … And there's no way someone else could know?" She asked nervously, paling slightly, as she glanced at the monkey's paw. "Wait a second, Professor! I was just—"


He hung up… The professor had hung up on her… All she could hear now was the dial tone.

"This morning's accident won't become my fault too, will it…?" She asked, feeling deeply disturbed as she finally began to realize the danger she was in. "I was standing next to him… Maybe someone thinks I pushed him… The police—"


"!" She gasped in alarm when she heard the doorbell. No! She wasn't expecting anyone today! Was it really—


"I can't stand this anymore!" She shouted, dropping the phone. Being so persistent, it had to be the police…! "This is all your fault!" She yelled at the monkey's paw.


"Make this right!"


"Take these problems away from me!!"



The paper talisman that had been wrapped around the monkey's paw unwound itself when the last finger broke, and the monkey's paw launched itself at the frightened woman, grabbing her by the throat.

From outside the house, her silhouette could be seen through the curtain windows as she frantically clawed it while it tightened it's grip, choking the life from her. The silhouette fell.


"Oh, Suzume-chan!" Watanuki said, surprised, when Maru and Moro pulled him away from cooking dinner to meet the 'customer' they had sensed. Wasn't it kind of late for her to still be wandering around on her own? "This isn't a 'customer' he told the twins. This is that nice onee-san you met before."

"It's the nice onee-san~!" Maru and Moro sang cheerfully, doing a little dance.

"Well, they're not completely wrong…" Suzume said, smiling fondly at the younger girls. "I did come to see Yuuko-san."

"Eh?" He said, blinking. "Oh, well… I think Yuuko-san went to look for something in her treasure room… But why?" He asked curiously.

"I've been thinking about doing something for awhile…" Suzume said tentatively with a somewhat wan smile. "… And I think I'm ready now. Watching that woman with the monkey's paw has helped steel my resolve. I don't want to become like her."

"… What does that mean?" Watanuki asked, furrowing his brow slightly in confusion as she stepped past him and headed for the shops storehouse.

"You'll see." Suzume replied cryptically.

"It's back." Yuuko observed as she entered her treasure room. The monkey's paw was sitting on a shelf in its tube, almost as if had never left. "I imagine the 'Yata no Kagami' mirror is back as well. The 'stone' has stopped. Although the 'stone' broke in the end." She raised her hand and created another paper talisman to seal it. "The more you tell a person not to open something, the more they want to open it. She thought that the disaster that is brought on by breaking a promise would never come down on her head. No one can consider themselves special. Right, Suzume-chan?" Glancing sideways at the girl standing in the open doorway as she set the newly wrapped monkey's paw back on the shelf. The tube slid shut and the seal was completed. "Have you made your decision?"

"Yes." Suzume answered solemnly. "Yuuko-san, please teach me more about the supernatural, and please help me learn how to control my powers better, so that they won't cause anymore pain or suffering." She said, bowing respectfully to the older woman.

"Pain is an inevitable part of life, Suzume-chan. To think otherwise is a deception." Yuuko said as she approached the girl, reaching out to tilt her chin up. "But suffering is optional. Raise your head, Suzume-chan. Your uncle is suffering because of the choices he made. You are suffering now because you are choosing to blame yourself for something that was inevitable." Yuuko told her as she straightened up a little more. "But it's not a bad thing to take responsibility for your own actions. Suzume-chan's a good girl. I don't mind teaching you along with Watanuki." She added with a smile.

'Along with… was she making Watanuki work here as payment because she wanted him to learn something?' Suzume wondered. "Yuu—"

"Yuuko-san!" Watanuki called, popping his head in through the open door. "The pasta is ready, and the white wine is chilled!" He announced.

'Oh, that sounds good!' Suzume thought.

"Wonderful!" Yuuko agreed with a bright smile. "I'll be right there! Suzume-chan, I want some New York style cheesecake for desert!"

"Eh? You shouldn't make a guest cook for you!" Watanuki scolded her.

"What guest? Fu-fu… Suzume-chan just joined you as a part-timer~!" Yuuko stated with a gleam in her eye and Cheshire cat grin on her face.

"Ehhhh!?" Watanuki shouted, completely taken by surprise. Is this what Suzume meant by 'you'll see'!? "W-Why would she do that to herself!?' He wondered incredulously, stunned into silence. She saw first hand how Yuuko-san used him!

"Oh! Nice reaction, Watanuki~!" Yuuko said, clapping.

"Well, I guess I'd better go get started on that cheesecake!" Suzume said with a wry smile, sweat-dropping at his extreme reaction. Was it really that bad…?

"Yep~ I'm counting on you, Suzume-chan!" Yuuko said brightly. She was really looking forward to it.

"W-What did you do…?" Watanuki asked warily once Suzume was gone, wondering how Yuuko-san had managed to get her to become her indentured servant as well.

"What?" Yuuko asked, narrowing her eyes slightly. "Why do you assume I did something?"

"… Now that I think of it, I wonder what happened to that educational training student." Watanuki said, deciding to change the subject before he got himself in trouble.

"Who knows?" Yuuko replied mysteriously. "But I'm sure that her 'wish' was granted."

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