was one of those days were not much happened. Doumeki was sitting around Yuko’s
shop, waiting for Watanuki to be done with work so they could walk back to the
temple together. She was staying over for the night (courtesy of his mother)
and Doumeki was actually excited for Watanuki to spend time with his family, only
he didn’t show it. His girlfriend had met his mother a few times in passing
while hanging around the temple’s courtyard, (and his father wasn’t around a
whole ton) but not in the formal way she’d be visiting tonight. If only she’d
hurry up and get done with work faster. The other problem was that even though
Yuko didn’t have any customers today, she’d been working the girl with odd
chores and cleaning to do so Watanuki was, not in a bad mood per say, but she
was definitely not in the best spirits. Right now the seer was in the kitchen,
cleaning up after Yuko’s mid-day repast and being harassed by Mokona for
another snack. Doumeki could hear them shouting at each other from the other
end of the shop. He sighed and took another sip of sake. Yuko was the only one
who’d let him drink alcohol at his age, but it was mostly because she was
uninhibited by her own share of sake.
“Doumeki, tell me: what do you think of my Watanuki? Why do like her?” Yuko asked, hiccupping from her latest glass and reaching for the bottle. She reached over and ruffled the archer’s dark hair with her nails, giggling. “Based on personality alone you two shouldn’t be compatible at all, and yet you’re dating!~ That’s got to be the funniest thing ever!” The witch laughed, pouring herself another glass and tipping it back.
“I can’t explain it. She’s just the girl for me.” Doumeki said plainly, taking another sip from his cup. “And she’s a good cook.”
“Ha!~” The woman lifted her glass in the air like a toast, nodding her head. “That I can agree with!” The shouting from the kitchen got louder as Watanuki walked back in, smock and all, batting away a bouncing Mokona.
“I’m not making you anything else! You just ate, damn it!” The raven grabbed the black pork bun on its next pass and tossed him in Yuko’s direction, her black pony tail flying out behind her comically. True to form, Mokona bounced to and upright position and took a seat on the table next to its mistress.
“Aw!~ Watanuki’s no fun!” The creature pouted.
“Shut up!” The seer snapped, grabbing more dishes to clean. “Doumeki, get off your butt and help me.” She ordered. He looked at her and held up his empty glass.
“More.” He asked. A vein popped out on the girls head.
“You can’t have more! You’re not even supposed to be drinking!” She swiped the cup from his hand and stomped back to the kitchen in a huff. Doumeki shrugged and stood to help, half determined to get his cup back in the process.
“I may not fully get it, but it’s still fun to watch you too.” Yuko winked as he walked down the hall. After cleaning up, the shop owner let her charge go early, already informed of the meeting of parents and waved the pair off with a Cheshire Cat grin.
“Get that look off your face,” Watanuki growled.
“Have fun you two!~” Yuko called as they disappeared around the corner.
“I swear, she gets a kick out of just about anything.” The girl grumped.
“Hm.” Doumeki replied, taking her hand. He squeezed it once, receiving a squeeze back.
“If everything goes well tonight, your parents will love me! And why not? I’m fabulous to be with!” Watanuki praised herself like she always did when trying to impress those around her. And it happened to be Doumeki this time.
"Hm.” He said again, staying neutral.
"Why don’t you ever just answer back?” She asked, shaking her head. “How about a compliment once in a while?”
“Give me a minute.” He paused to think jokingly, her face heating up in anger.
"You jerk!” But she knew he was joking. Doumeki squeezed her hand again and got a squeeze back. They reached the temple in no time, the only problem was, Doumeki’s parents weren’t home. He led his girlfriend into an empty temple and found a note stuck to the door saying that an emergency trip popped up and they had to leave. His parent’s apologized for not being there and promised to formally meet Watanuki some other time. Doumeki’s spirits plummeted. He didn’t show it, of course.
“Well, that sucks.” Watanuki summed up the situation nicely. Doumeki was about to apologize to her for the inconvenience of this parent’s timing, but she was already talking again. “Since I just finished cooking, why don’t we work on homework for a while and then I guess I’ll make dinner later, ‘kay?” She looked at Doumeki for approval on the plan. He nodded. At least she was staying over.
They crashed in Doumeki’s room he made tea for the two of them. Several hours were spent on schoolwork and then goofing off in the archer’s manga collection before Watanuki made dinner for two using gift Matsuzaka beef, and they ended up arguing about which way to prepare it: Western or Eastern? Eventually Watanuki pointed out that the last time they had this conversation Doumeki messed it up by making Western style in her pot so it was only fair that she make Eastern style in his pot. While she saying all this, the raven had already started preparing Eastern style and perfectly distracted Doumeki to the point where it was pointless to try and interrupt her cooking. After the initial spat, dinner went swimmingly and they each took turns in the bath before going to sleep in Doumeki’s room. On separate futons, of course.
“Wake me up when Yuko calls for food.” Watanuki mumbled during a yawn, her brain too tired to be there all the way. She stretched, her sleeping yukata falling off one shoulder when her arms came down. Watanuki flopped over and was asleep almost instantly, glasses falling off her face. Doumeki reached over to pluck them off her nose and placed the glasses where she could get to them in the morning. Then he pulled up the blanket so that the raven was covered enough to stay warm. He stood and turned off all the lights and climbed back into his futon, watching his girl sleep peacefully. The day hadn’t gone quite as planned, but it was still nice. She could even come over a second time for formally meet his parents and Doumeki wouldn’t mind a bit.
I’m going to have to thank Yuko for these vouchers when we get back, Doumeki thought as he lounged around their room at the inn. They’d just gotten back from the hot spring bathes and the exorcist was waiting for his wife to get off the phone. She was pacing around the receiving area of their room nearly screaming into her cell phone while he sat in the bedroom part and laughed at the poor sap on the other end of the line. Internally, of course.
After high school and repaying Yuko at the shop, Watanuki and Doumeki had gotten married a few years later when they were both in college. It wasn’t a huge event, but Yuko sure made it huge just by being there. The witch had this way of making everything around her more mysterious or more fun just by her mood and the wedding was a huge success with her around. Doumeki could’ve done without all the innuendo, though.
But anyway, now they’d both graduated, the exorcist getting a degree in studying and teaching ancient folklore and Watanuki was a successful, budding horror novelist, thanks to all her experience with spirits. Her first book was actually based on the time Ame-warishi requested them to save the hydrangea plant from a dead girl’s body. It was about a girl who lived with her grandmother and her fantastic gardens, but was actually being haunted by noxious spirits of the dead that were buried beneath the plants, searching for revenge. Watanuki was actually working on a second installment when they both decided to take this trip, the new plot inspired by the spider’s curse placed on them both, but her publisher wanted her to move her deadline up, which was why she was screaming into the phone. Moving the deadline up wouldn’t have been a problem at any other time but Watanuki was due to have their baby around the time of the new deadline. And she was having none of that.
“Do you realize how much stress I am under right now?! How about you trying having a baby and writing a book at the same time! Don’t I get maternity leave too?” The raven snapped at the phone. She shut up for a moment as her publisher talked. “I don’t care how close I am to finishing it! I will not be able to finish it in two months because I’m due, why can’t you understand that!?” More silence. Doumeki chuckled softly at her pissed off face, enjoying the show his wife was putting on. “We’ll discuss this later. I’m actually supposed to be on vacation right now and I can’t stand my husband giving me an amused look because of this conversation. Okay. Yeah. Thank you for your time.” Watanuki clicked her phone shut and rubbed her rather impressive belly. If it got any bigger, it’d have its own pull on gravity. She stretched both her arms back, getting out all the kinks in her body before walking over to join Doumeki in bed. It was late and they were both tired.
“I swear he acts like a moron sometimes just to piss me off.” The raven said as Doumeki reached up to help her kneel down, one hand clasped in her own and one hand on her back. “Thanks,” Watanuki said once she and her belly were situated on the futon.
“I’m sure it’s just you yakking his ear off that makes him stupider.” The brunette replied.
“Ha, ha, very funny.” Watanuki pulled the blanket up to warm herself and then tossed it away when she felt too hot. And then she put it back on because she was cold. “It’s really great here. I’m glad Yuko gave those vouchers to us. I really needed to get away.” She yawned. “I forgot how nice Hakone was in the spring. We stopped by here on a college trip, didn’t we?”
“I’ll take that as a yes. Still, I love being pampered!” Watanuki make a noise of pleasure, stretching and then rubbing her baby bump as Doumeki turned off the lights and settled down beside her. Watanuki threw the blanket onto his side of the futon, deciding she was hot.
“You like it because you don’t have to cook.”
“Yep!” She smiled widely, the moonlight from the open window glinting off her glasses. Doumeki took them off her nose and set them aside before leaning in for a soft kiss. “Yep, definitely nice.” Watanuki sighed, snuggling up to her husband as well as she could with an unborn baby taking up half her space. “What else could we possibly need?”
“Some salmon rolls.”
“Shut up. I am not sneaking into the kitchen to make them.” She leaned her head in and Doumeki reached over to stroke her hair and then took her hand. He squeezed her hand and got a squeeze back. They lay in silence for a moment, the usual bustle of Tokyo absent in the night air. “Give me some of the blanket.”
“I thought you were hot.” Doumeki stated.
“Well, I was. But It’s a little chilly now.”
“Fine. Just don’t throw it away a few seconds from now.” Doumeki pulled the blanket over them both.
“I don’t do that.” Watanuki huffed, taking the blanket’s end in her hand and wrapping it around herself tightly as she snuggled back into her husband.
“Yes you do. You just did it twice.”
“Whatever.” Her grumpy tone of voice cut off the conversation. They lay in silence for a few minutes, listening to the hot spring pools gurgle outside.“It’s quiet.”
“Mmhm.” Doumeki’s arms snaked around his wife as much as he could to hug her.
“Quiet is good sometimes.” She yawned.
“Yes, except for some idiot who was yelling on the phone a few minutes ago. That wasn’t quiet.” He jabbed.
“Shut up or I’m drowning you in the hot spring.”
“Go to sleep, Kimiiro.” He urged before she started yelling again.
“With pleasure.” The seer’s mismatched eyes slid shut and she sighed softly. “’Night, Shizuka.”
“What? Can’t even say goodnight to your wife?” She poked his ribs roughly.
“That’s better.” They both sighed at the same time, the pair giggling at the irony before they drifted off to sleep in the quiet paradise.
Doumeki sat outside on the temple’s porch, running his hand through his gray hair. He was old, but not too old, all his children grown up and just starting to have kids of their own. It was a nice spring day outside and he wanted to enjoy it. The sun was shining; white puffy clouds littered the sky, the perfect day to play mahjong – if only Watanuki would figure out how to play. The sakura blossoms were opening on the trees, making a second set of pink clouds in the courtyard, the petals unfortunate enough to be caught by the wind fluttering around the ground. It was a quiet day, the patrons to the temple all gone and the rest of the afternoon open for relaxing. Footsteps on the porch roused Doumeki from his thoughts and he turned to see his wife approaching with a tray.
“I brought tea.” Watanuki said as she carefully knelt in her light kimono. The breeze blew through her hair, the long strands in the front not pulled back into a bun waving free. The seer was starting to look her age too, white sections of hair growing into her black. But she was still as beautiful as ever.
“Hm.” Doumeki replied in his usual fashion. She poured them both cups before sitting down next to her husband, swinging her legs back and forth like a child. They sipped tea under the bright sun, holding hands. Watanuki leaned her head on his tall shoulder and he in turn tipped his head down onto hers. Two old people in old kimonos they gave to each other years ago, sitting in an old temple enjoying a young spring day. It was perfect.
“Shizuka?” Watanuki asked.
“Hm?” He lifted his head up to look down at her slightly wrinkly face. She had the beginnings of smile lines and frown lines and if Doumeki looked hard enough, he’d say that she had more smiles than frowns in her life. But he really couldn’t tell because Watanuki seemed to yell and frown more often than she smiled when it came to nagging him. But that was just his Watanuki. She’d always been like that.
“What the temple always this quiet?” She asked, looking up at him.
“Yes.” He answered. “It’s just hard to hear silence sometimes with the noise of people around. Especially when your mouth is open.”
“Watch it.” She warned. Doumeki held up his empty teacup.
“More.” Watanuki sighed and for once, refilled it without complaint. They sat together without talking for a few more minutes.
“We’re going to have a lot of quiet days ahead of us, aren’t we?” Watanuki asked. “I mean, we’re old and you’re quiet already, Shizuka.” The raven poked at the meaning of his name, but he was used to it by now.
“Yes. We’ll have a lot of quiet days. We’ll also have a few noisy days too, when the family comes over. Or we could always invite Yuko. She’s loud.”
“You’re right. But for now, this is good.” Watanuki leaned back into Doumeki and set down her teacup, taking her husband’s free hand into both of hers. She was smiling softly as he looked down at her and in the moment, Doumeki decided that she definitely had more smile lines than frown lines.
“Yes, this is good, Kimihiro.” Doumeki turned his head to kiss her forehead and took another sip of tea. The sakura blossoms swayed on the branches of the trees, their pink clouds of flowers reminding him just how short and precious life could be. He squeezed his wife’s hand and got a squeeze back.