title: Chimes
fandom: Cardcaptor Sakura/xxxHolic
characters/pairings: Clow(s), Yue, Yuuko, Mokonas, Maro, Moro, Fujikata, Eriol, Watanuki, Doumeki
rating: G
warnings: none
summary: Yuuko always knows when he's calling
notes: based on CCS and xxxHolic manga (though, long before the Holic manga was 'done'), with some (a lot?) of influence from the new xxxHolic anime (particularly in the design of Yuuko's house, and the concept of the butterfly being Yuuko's signature). i skimmed through all of the relevant CCS manga volumes, but i couldn't find anyplace where Eriol referred to Ruby Moon by name, so i wasn't sure what he calls her, but if she's in her natural form, and he's speaking to her casually, it seems odd that he would call her Ruby Moon, so. i think i started to peter out at the end, too, sorry. ~_~




cards




She'd only put the chimes up the morning before. They were the first decoration, in fact, and they had been her top priority. Her maid had been a bit confused, thinking they were dull things; after all, it was a windy day, but they didn't make a sound. She had just smiled, and said that they would make a beautiful sound.

She was, of course, right.

He walked up the path to her new home as if it were his hundredth visit, his gaze straight in front of him. She was only a tiny bit disappointed, because every new home owner wishes to brag a bit about even the shabbiest of abodes, and hers was far from shabby, but she knew better than to be upset.

It took a great deal to impress this man.

She slipped the ink brush back into its bowl, leaving the butterfly she was working on half done. She smiled at her maid. "Please start the tea."

In the back of the house, she had arranged an English tearoom, with proper chairs. She sat opposite him, watching him with careful eyes, her kimono languidly resting around her elbows.

He wasn't looking.

"I'm opening a shop. Granting wishes. Is there anything I can do for you?" she teased, knowing full well he could do for himself all too well.

He smiled politely, though, without his usual hint of humor. "I'm afraid that I know too well that your prices are too high for me to pay, but thank you, all the same."

"You say that, and any thoughts I might have had of a free offer slips away. And yet, still I can't help but feel that there is some matter you wish to seek my counsel on." She stirred her tea slowly, moving the tiny spoon through the thoroughly creamy beverage.

He raised his eyebrow, amused. However, there were still words hanging on the tip of his tongue. She waited, watching his lips for signs of escape. Instead, he raised his cup to his lips and swallowed the words down with his tea. "I have been thinking of making a set of cards."

"Cards?" she echoed archly. He was the type to enjoy gambling, but...

"Yes," he grinned. "I'm going to imbibe the cards with my magic. What do you think?"

His eyes were too keen. She digested his suggestion slowly, narrowing her eyes as she watched his eyes. It seemed as if... there would really be only one reason for him to do such a thing. "Are you really as bored as all that?"

He laughed, though. "Well, it would be interesting, I think. I'd make very pretty cards, wouldn't you agree?"

"Isn't that the same as asking if you have attractive powers?" she replied, unwilling to give him even that much satisfaction. Cards. How...

Tangible. Inheritable.

The maid came in with the teacakes, from a very British recipe, to please their guest. She smiled brightly, her eyes on the man, and his long, flowing hair. Too much so, and she tripped on the carpeting, sending the cakes flying across the room.

Yuuko sighed. There wouldn't be time to make another batch.

"Oh, miss, I'm so sorry!" the young girl exclaimed, looking up at the man across from her employer fearfully.

"Never mind," Yuuko drawled. "Just bring us sake instead, then."

"Yes, ma'am!" She scurried to her feet, and hurried away. They could hear her rushing about. Yuuko sighed dramatically. Really, they couldn't even talk with such a racket... She came back in, once again rushing and not paying attention to where her feet were, but this time, it was sake, so Yuuko made sure to reach out and catch it.

"That's enough," she sighed. "You may have the afternoon off."

She squeaked, and bowed, and then turned on her heel, and rushed off, nearly falling into the hallway.

"It's hard to find good help," Clow teased.

"You don't know the half of it," Yuuko frowned, pushing her teacup aside in favor of a glass of sake. "She's pregnant with the fox demon's child. She thinks she's so clever, too... Of course, she never listens to anything I say. She will be carried off into the spirit world, but not before she leaves her daughters with me. They will, at least, be more useful than their mother, but they will start out as infants." She made a face. "I will have to find a nanny," she pouted.

Clow smiled affectionately. Naturally, she wasn't about to blush from such a smile, but it was nice. "Shall I help you, then? I've found that the best help is made to order. You said daughters? Will they be identical?"

"No," she shook her head, distrustfulness seeping into her voice. "I can find a nanny. It's a nuisance, but..."

"I have something better." He took her discarded teacup, and turned it over on its saucer. He pulled out a silk handkerchief, with his initials stitched... lovingly?... into the corner. He spread the handkerchief over the teacup and saucer, and put his hand out over them. He then made a fist quickly, turning his hand over and flexing his arm. "Ok, you two. Come out and meet your mistress."

There was giggling under the handkerchief, and then one corner turned up, and then the other. Out jumped... one white little pork bun, and one black one, with tiny paws and floppy ears, and pretty red jewels in their foreheads.

She raised her eyebrow. "They're... small."

He patted one on the head, and then the other, smiling broadly. "They'll grow. Feed them sake and sweets, and they'll be fine."

"What... are they?" she asked, though she hated to ask him anything like that.

"Ask them yourself," he suggesting, pushing the black one toward Yuuko. "They're yours."

She poked the black one in the belly with one long, elegant finger. "And how are you, Mr. Pork Bun."

"Mokona is not a pork bun!" it exclaimed, rather cheerfully. "Mokona is Mokona!"

"Mokona, too!" the white one bounced to its twin's side. "Mokona is also Mokona!"

"And what can Mokona do?" she asked, leaning down to look them in the eye.

They turned to look at each other, thinking hard, and then they turned to her, smiling. "Many amazing things! We're sure. If you feed us!"

She laughed, sitting up. "Really, your obsession with cute is baffling."

"You only think that because you are such a disgraceful woman," he cheerfully informed her. Her back stiffened, but he went on, with equal vigor, much to the Mokonas amusement. "Look, you don't even wear your kimono properly. If you were a quiet, mannerly lady, like you were supposed to be, instead of seeking arcane knowledge as you do, you'd be sitting in some man's parlor, preparing his tea, and smiling discreetly over the cute present he had offered you."

"How boring," she drolly replied. "Thank goodness I'm not a respectable woman, then, hm?"

He winked at her.

On his way out, he stopped, turning his face up to look at the sky. "It's going to be a full moon tonight," he smiled.

"You are too infatuated with the moon," she teased him, but they'd played this game before.

He only grinned wider, and then informed her in a flat voice, "I've gotten married. She's... a simple, sweet girl. I think I might love her."

She said nothing, betraying nothing. She looked at his hands, open at his sides. "Simple?"

"She knows nothing of magic. She thinks my library is nothing short of amazing. She... she reminds me that there are still good things in this life. At my age, that's easy to forget."

"If you think she can purify you..." Yuuko warned.

Clow laughed. "No, I know she can't. It's just nice to be reminded." He turned to face her, smiling. "Don't worry, Yuuko. You've chosen a good place for your shop. It will become everything you wish it to be, as you will become who you wish to be. And, by and by, these walls will draw to you the perfect servant. Or perhaps, it is a student you seek?"

She ignored his question, and leaned against the doorframe. "By and by, eh? And how long will I have to wait for this perfect person?"

"Oh, a long time," he winked at her, and turned to go. "But the best spells take a long time to take seed. Have faith."

"In you?" she asked, incredulous. She watched his back as he walked out of the gate, and turned toward his home. "In you... Hm. We'll see."





doll




The chimes rang, and this time, the Mokonas bounced over to answer the door, followed quickly by those two tiny girls who never strayed far from them.

She looked up, but she wasn't about to rush to the door. Though she knew that the universe was wide, and there were many different ways he could turn out, there was still only one of him.

However, once he entered her house, she could see, as much as he was different from the Clow she knew, he was still Clow.

He was holding the hand of a young man with too pale and perfect skin, and hair the color of moonshine, that hung down to his knees. He was draped in silk and fur, and his moonlit eyes looked distrustfully around.

This Clow squeezed the boy's hand, and smiled. "Yue, be a good boy, and wait here with these young girls. This shouldn't take long."

The boy looked at him for a moment, and then looked away.

He slipped his shoes off, and entered her parlor.

He was younger than the last version of him she had seen, his hair cut short, and styled neatly, but his glasses were the same. He went to his knees before her, and bowed low.

She couldn't say that she hated that.

"You are the Dimension Witch?"

"I see you have not come to my door by accident," she quietly replied. "You are in trouble, I presume."

He chuckled. "Well... you could say that, I suppose. I need to be... someplace else. Anyplace else." He smiled brightly.

She returned his smile. "You and your young companion, I imagine? Though, perhaps, young is not the best word. He's practically an infant, is he not?"

He laughed merrily, as if he were not asking something of her. "I see, well, of course, I'd expect that you could discern the truth easily. He's less than a month old. But he won't get any older if I do not get off this world."

"Ah?" She leaned back, her fingernail tracing the pattern in the butterfly's wing that she had painted there so long ago. Her signature.

He leaned back a bit, relaxing. "I suppose it does me no harm to tell you. I am an artist. I used to make cards. Tarot decks, playing cards... Well, that was hardly the main focus of my work, but it made me famous. At the request of a benefactor, I started to make dolls, and I became fixated on it. I thought I could, perhaps, make a perfect person through the art of doll making. It took a long time, but eventually..." His gaze trailed over to the door, as if he could see past the walls, to where his Yue was. "He was perfect, absolutely. I'm not sure exactly why he came to life, but I suppose it's because I... simply could not turn my gaze away from him. Pieces of my heart and soul went into him. And so, one day, he opened his eyes of his own accord, and started to move about. His wooden arms and legs slowly turned to flesh, the more I lavished attention upon him, and now... he is as you see him."

"Such... maniacal devotion to a doll." She clucked her tongue. "This is the source of your problem?"

"Well," he laughed nervously. "My wife... does not share in my pleasure of Yue. She finds him horrific, and swears he is possessed of a demon. She has threatened to set him on fire to win me back. I married her long ago. She was a patroness of mine. She is a powerful and engaging woman... not unlike you at all. But she can be... ambitious. In this world, there is not a corner in which her influence does not extend. I could, of course, go back to her, and she would take me back."

"But the doll," Yuuko finished for him.

"You understand it all perfectly, now." He beamed.

"Do I?" she asked archly. "He will never return your love. And someday, he shall leave you."

"Oh, I know," he shrugged. "But until then, I'd like to stay with him, and keep him safe."

"Hm," she frowned, and looked away. "I can send you someplace where you will be safe, and you can live with your Yue, until he chooses to leave you. In exchange, I will require that which is most precious to you."

"That's a bit troublesome," he rubbed the back of his neck. "Since what is most precious to me is the very person I wish to escape with."

"If that were true, it would be one thing," she sighed, and leveled a measuring look upon him. "But instead..." She reached out, and took his hands. "I require your hands. You love him because he is your creation, after all; your vision of perfect beauty, brought to life. It is your power, as an artist, as a creator, that you value above all else. Therefore, it is these hands that will pay the price to your freedom."

"I see that you truly do understand everything perfectly," he replied, resigned. "Fine."

She stood in the doorway, and watched him lead his Yue out the side gate. She could have done a more dramatic spell, but. Her gaze was fixed on Clow's stump on the small of Yue's back. The perfect doll was a bit disgusted by his mater's new condition. How much happiness had he bought himself?

That wasn't her concern.

She looked down at the hands in the bowl. "Let's do some decorating with these, mm?" The Mokonas bounced, so their charges bounced as well. "I was thinking... how do you think of crescent moon appointments?"





teacher




The chimes rang for his entrance, but only half-heartedly. She was surprised, but pleased, to see him in her entryway.

He was not quite so tall as his former self, with lighter hair, and kinder eyes. Though he was... smaller in every way, he was not at all unattractive.

In fact, he seemed to have collected in his person the best parts of who he used to be, which made him more attractive despite his smallness.

Yuuko patted Maru on the head. "Please fetch some tea for our guest. This way, please."

He laughed nervously, and rubbed the back of his head. She smiled, because... it was endearing. "I'm not really sure how I ended up here. I was taking the long road home from school... I'm a teacher... And I just... found myself walking up to your door. Isn't that odd?"

"Odd?" she asked. "Not at all. You were drawn here, by the power of your wish. You have one, don't you?" She smiled knowingly at him as she arranged herself at the small table. "A wish so powerful, you were brought to me. I grant wishes, for a price."

He looked away, a bit embarrassed. "A wish, ah? Well, I suppose... of course, I do have a wish..."

She smiled broadly. "Tell me all, and I can make even the deepest desires of your heart come to pass."

He blushed bright red, and Yuuko was sure that she had never seen such an attractive man in all her life. "W-well, you see..." Moro came in just then, leaving Maru giggling at the door. She set the tea on the table, bowed, and ran off to join her sister, both of them now giggling.

Yuuko watched them affectionately, pouring out two cups of tea. She could see him, watching them with equal pleasure.

"They're lively. They must make your days pass quickly."

"Sometimes, so quickly, I hardly know what day of the week it is," she replied calmly. She passed him a cup. "You were saying?"

He turned the cup around in the saucer, even though she had hardly given it to him in a ceremonial fashion. "The thing is. I've fallen in love. With someone... I probably shouldn't have." He blushed all the way to his shirt collar, and dipped his head down to sip his tea.

Yuuko just smiled. Of course, such a sparkling light would have attracted a beautiful butterfly already.

"She's... a student of mine. She literally fell from the sky, into my arms." He laughed nervously. "I love her deeply. And she... she returns my love. She's rather mature, and persistent. She pursued me, I assure you, though... I couldn't resist her. Really, at all. I should not have allowed this to happen... The age gap is... well." All traces of a smile left his face. He cleared his throat. "Her family is rather... influential, and rich. She is used to such a life. I... can't provide that for her; maybe I never will be able to. To continue on... would be insanity. And yet."

"You wish to marry her," she supplied sagely.

"More than anything." He squeezed his eyes shut. "I don't know what I should ask of you, though! Perhaps I should beg that you burn this inappropriate love from my heart! Or..."

"I can smooth the path for you." His head shot up. She hid her expression behind her teacup. "I can make it so that you could be with your beloved. So you could enjoy... perfect marital bliss, or... as perfect as the situation would allow. For a price."

His eyes shone hopefully. She gauged him carefully. Cases like this were tricky, for... what was most precious to him... was indeed the very thing he desired.

"I can give her to you, and give you happiness. But it is a happiness that will only last a short while. Consider that carefully before you accept."

His eyes widened. "A short time... I see..." He scratched his chin in an endearingly manner fitting for a professor. "A short time... could mean a divorce. Or... I could lose my life. Or worse..." He sighed heavily, clearly mulling the problem over.

Yuuko watched him carefully, he way his brow furrowed, the way he held his hand over his face. He was not Clow. But, this young lady was an exceedingly lucky mortal.

"Of course, a guarantee of happiness... if one of us... is to die, it might be fate anyway." He looked Yuuko in the eye, but she betrayed nothing. "If it were my life, well, I wouldn't have to hesitate. It would be worth it." He paused, but Yuuko placidly awaited his decision. He sighed, and leaned his head back.

Now, that was a gesture of Clow.

"I don't suppose you could tell me how our time together will end." Her smile was enigmatically bright. He shrugged. "It's all right. It's a gamble, but that's what life is, right?"

He was definitely Clow. Yuuko hated the high school girl who won his heart on principle. "Naturally. Here." She pulled a small ring box out from the sleeve of her kimono, pushing it across the table to him.

He opened the box, and looked at her quizzically.

"Give that to your lover, and her answer will be yes. Your marriage might not be easy, but it will be happy, for as long as it lasts." She sounded tired to herself. She never allowed herself to sound tired before a customer, and certainly not before Clow.

But this man...

He bowed low, his forehead touching the tatami mat. "Thank you! I can't express to you... Well. Thank you! But... surely, I need to pay you something more...?"

"Don't worry. I've exacted all the payment I need," she replied, standing up wearily.

"Ah, yes, you..." He blushed, a look that was becoming more adorable with each passing moment. He stood, and bowed, and then reached out and took her hand. "Thank you. Thank you. Oh... I never gave you my name, or..."

"Don't worry," she dismissed, leading him to the door. "We won't ever meet again."

He sobered up, but he still took her hand again. "Thank you. You've... you've really helped me."

She smiled brightly, cocking her head to the side. "Of course, that's what I do."

They watched him walking down the walk, away from her house. Moro and Maru came to her sides, taking a hand each.

"Mistress gave him a ring!"

"A ring!"

"A wedding ring!"

"Mistress gave him a cursed wedding ring!"

"Cursed?" she asked curiously. "Depends on how you look at it. It will be a blessed ring, until she dies."

It wasn't as if she was about to shorten his life.





butterfly




The chimes began to ring, and Watanuki jumped, hitting his head on the bottom of the table, causing him to yelp, and roll around on the floor, his limbs flailing. Domeki watched him, dispassionately.

She tapped Domeki on the shoulder with her fan. "Collect him, and have him prepare a special tea. No, scratch that... no tea. Have him get the best sake from the basement." She winked at him, and went to greet her guest.

Despite Watanuki's wild reaction, the chimes were only half ringing. And since she would never meet Fujitaka again...

She opened her door, and smiled brightly. "Eriol-san. How cute you look in that raincoat. Next time, come when it is sunny. Or, better yet, when the moon is full." She smiled blandly at Eriol's... companion thing. "Please leash your pets outside."

"Hey!" The thing protested, shaking her... wings in anger.

Eriol just laughed. "Don't worry, Ruby. Yuuko's only teasing you, right?"

"Tch," she raised an eyebrow. "Just like him. So presumptuous."

Of course, that only made him laugh, and the... butterfly fluttered angrily.

She led him to the back, to the English tearoom, which was still arranged exactly as it had been the last time she had sat down with Clow. "So, to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit? Don't tell me you are looking for an aging potion. You won't be this adorable for much longer, I'm afraid, so you should enjoy it."

Eriol winked at her, and took his seat gracefully. "Actually, I just wanted to see you again. Would that be hard to believe?"

She grinned, and put her chin down on her steepled hands. "Oho? You missed me. How sweet."

"Missed you... would be one way of phrasing it, yes," he replied calmly, placing his hands neatly in his lap.

"What about that young lady friend of yours?" Yuuko sniffed disdainfully. "Kitty or Katty or Kayla..."

"Kaho. She's Japanese, as you well know. And I believe she is in Spain. Something about a sun god temple, or something."

"She wasn't pure enough, was she?" Yuuko inquired sympathetically.

"She was young. Nothing more. Time was shared. It was all it needed to be." He flicked some nonexistent dust from his pant leg, and his butterfly tittered.

"You're young, too, don't forget. Of course, no one ever really wants to go back in time, but effectively, you have. You should enjoy it as well as you can." She leaned forward, smirking broadly. "Of course, Clow never really grew up, so... perhaps you have more time to be a child than I'm giving you credit for."

"You..." he laughed, but the door slammed open, and Watanuki stumbled in, the bottle of sake, which was about as tall as his arms were long, swinging wildly in his ever-loosening grip. That annoying butterfly just yelped and flittered out of his way, but fortunately, Domeki caught him.

It was quite a sight. She and Eriol were sitting calmly at the table, as if nothing had happened. That stupid guardian of his was cowered in the corner of the ceiling. Domeki was holding Watanuki as if he were dipping him in a tango. And Watanuki was clutching the bottle of sake as if it were his child.

Nothing was ever dull here...

Yuuko reached out and took the bottle of sake causing Watanuki to fully lose control of his body. That gave Domeki plenty of reason to wrap his arms around Watanuki, and cradle him to his chest. The butterfly squawked, and drifted down to stare at the two boys openly.

And Eriol started laughing.

"Oh, Yuuko... that spell worked better than I'd hoped! I'm so glad. And it would seem you are a better matchmaker than I am!" He tipped his head to her in admiration.

"I can hardly take credit," she generously demurred. "Fate is a beautiful thing. Some threads... are just naturally pulled together, despite all their best efforts."

His eyes opened fully, and looked her in the eye directly. "It does make one wonder, why we fight fate, doesn't it?"

"Mm," she beamed.

"JUST a MINUTE!" Watanuki wriggled vociferously out of Domeki's slack arms. "I don't want to know what you... you... you two are talking about, but...! Yuuko-san!" He leaned down dramatically, because everything Watanuki did seemed clownishly dramatic when he was worked up. He whispered loudly enough for those cute kids traveling between worlds to hear, "Yuuko-san, you can't give a child sake! You could be arrested!"

She patted his cheek. "Don't worry. Eriol isn't quite what he seems." She paused for dramatic effect. "He's really... Genbu." She leaned back, waiting for Watanuki's overreaction.

"Wha?!" Watanuki reared back, and then turned to look at Eriol, who was just smiling smugly. Watanuki then tried to scuttle back further, but he ran into Domeki's waiting arms.

"Ju~st kidding!" she laughed, popping the cork on the sake bottle. "But you know, Watanuki has a point. Eriol, you may be quite experienced with a bottle, but your young body won't be able to take much. In this case...

"We're definitely going to need food! Watanuki! Prepare a potsticker plate! And dango!"

"Oh, if you don't mind," Eriol added on, "I would really love some yakisoba. If it's not too much trouble."

"And onigiri! We need to drink a lot!" she cheerfully added on.

"Perhaps some grilled snapper, if you have it?"

"And flavored ices for dessert. Go on, Watanuki. I'm sure Domeki will help you," she winked.

She just knew that Eriol would enjoy watching Watanuki rave as much as she did.








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