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13 March 2016 @ 05:11 pm
On Writing 05: 'FREQUENCY': The Relationships  
The core relationships found in Frequency come as a triad but I nonetheless tackled them separately in pairs. I'm a big supporter of polygamous relationships in real life--whether monosexual or bisexual in form--and it's sometimes unavoidable for me to ship an 'OT3' within fictional set-ups among characters who are usually caught up in a love triangle of sort, and xxxHoLic is no exception. It offered the triangle among Watanuki, Doumeki and Himawari in the earlier volumes although granted not explicitly romantic. Still, Watanuki has a crush on Himawari and he believed for a time that so does Doumeki since he kept hanging around with them. In truth, Doumeki actually likes Watanuki in that way according to subtext while Himawari basically keeps other people at arm's length including Watanuki so we don't really find out if she reciprocated his feelings until the ROU arc. There was that meaningful exchange between them during a phone conversation. Watanuki and Himawari say "I love you" to each other which could be interpreted as either in platonic or romantic terms. Ultimately, it probably didn't matter because Himawari ended up marrying some other man off-page. It would seem that this pairing ended already before it could even fully begin.

That being said, the triad I decided to focus in Frequency is that of Watanuki, Doumeki and Kohane.

As I've explained in the previous post, Kohane Tsuyuri is canonically recognized as the woman Doumeki ended up with, although CLAMP themselves admitted that theirs was a marriage of convenience and one that only transpired for a single intention: to sire children who will accompany Watanuki in his long life because he is the one both of them truly love. Even though that is the case, I still want to acknowledge that the partnership between Doumeki and Kohane is a valid one, and that they were not simply just bound together because they have unrequited feelings for the same man. In my story, I want to explore the possibility that somewhere down the road, Doumeki and Kohane do learn to care about one another as husband and wife especially when they started to have a family together. But before that even happens, I want to establish that there was physical attraction between the two of them first, even if they still continue to harbor feelings for Watanuki. It was only inevitable after all. There was an important exchange in the manga when twelve-year old Kohane asked Doumeki about what he thinks about Watanuki as a person, and Doumeki responded by explaining that he first met Watanuki when he saw the guy standing under the rain, cradling what looked like a dead cat in his arms. He then heard Watanuki say that he's probably going to end up all alone when he dies.

As a decent person with a good heart, Doumeki was understandably moved by this. It was his primary motivation to stay by Watanuki's side--he wanted to show Watanuki he doesn't have to be alone, and that he could have a friend like Doumeki in his life. But what started as simple pity driven by humanistic motivations grew to be something more for Doumeki eventually, until he wasn't only protecting Watanuki out of obligation and the decency of his heart,

I'd like to believe--even before fans started the speculation of romantic feelings on his end---that Doumeki slowly desired to be the person who will invalidate what Watanuki originally thought about himself, and the fact that he will die alone. Doumeki wanted to prove to Watanuki that he will stand by him until the end and perhaps if things gone out differently, Doumeki may have confessed his feelings and Watanuki could have had the opportunity to decide for himself--once he got over that pesky, immature way he views Doumeki---as to whether or not he could reciprocate the feelings. Unfortunately, with the burden of immortality and his damaging desire to wait fro Yuuko, Watanuki is doomed to live a longer life than Doumeki. Now that things got complicated on Doumeki's end, he had to find a way to make up for that sudden disparity, so he opted to marry a woman who is just as devoted to Watanuki, just so both of them can give Watanuki children who will grow up to take care of his needs in the future. Meanwhile, Kohane--who grew up to be a capable young woman-- was revealed by Doumeki in the anime OVA to consider Watanuki as her 'most precious person' (which can be interpreted in romantic terms). When Doumeki handed Watanuki their wedding invitation and then revealing how Kohane feels about Watanuki even if she was marrying Doumeki, it was a validation that their marriage was merely a transaction that will hopefully compensate for their feelings for him that will have to remain unrequited.

Watanuki, in his own way, must have finally realized what they were doing, but knew that he had no right to speak against or disapprove of it, not after making an irreversible wish that had made it impossible for him to choose between being with either of them at this point. Instead, he just gave Doumeki his blessing, and asked him to take care of Kohane as she would take care of Doumeki in return. It wasn't the happiest decision in the world, but for the three of them, it was the best choice.
This arrangment is so poignant and heartbreaking in many levels. My story Frequency established this love triangle at its rawest and most painful, as well as their obstacles to overcome. Meanwhile, the ongoing sequel Entwined Hearts and Other Glands will further explore the repurcussions that these three people face now that they are all aware about who loves who, and how that love affects every choice made and to be made. In both stories all three of them feel intrinsically bound together not just as three separate pairs but as three people all at once.

WATANUKI / DOUMEKI --> In Frequency, Doumeki and Watanuki reach a breaking point where all cards are laid on the table. Doumeki wants to find a way to be with Watanuki which meant doing something about his mortality. Their climactic confrontation happens twofold by the fourth chapter To Love a Storm. That chapter was told in Doumeki's perspective the entire time, and it was also the chapter where Doumeki and Watanuki finally consummate their feelings for one another but this was almost hindered by the conflict that transpired between Watanuki and Kohane in the prior chapter where he had telepathically violated her mind. So as agonizingly perfect it was of a moment when the two men finally made love and Watanuki for once stopped hiding and denying how he felt and wanted, the pain he caused Kohane is far too significant to be brushed aside. When Kohane finally does reveal to Doumeki what Watanuki had done, it was a regretful confession because Doumeki had also just told her that he and Watanuki finally became lovers. In both anger and disbelief, Doumeki confronts Watanuki for the second time regarding what he did to Kohane, but not after he kissed Kohane in the heat of the moment, signifying that Kohane has grown to be an important friend to him over the course of six years since she was the only one who understood the loneliness and abandoment of pining over someone like Watanuki. But that kiss held another meaning too; one Watanuki was quick to punish Doumeki for. At that point, Watanuki was already growing jealous and paranoid of the bond Doumeki and Kohane had formed, and seeing a memory of that kiss finally sealed his suspicions. Wrathfully, Watanuki banished Doumeki from the shop not because he kissed Kohane that one time, but more so because of the fear and resentment he picked up from Doumeki telepathically. He was angry that Doumeki thought the worst of him and angrier still at himself for giving Doumeki a reason to doubt him in the first place because of that trangression he committed against Kohane. Writing DouWata in this upsetting manner was really hard for me but I knew it was necessary for the redemption arc I wanted to explore in the long run.

Here is an excerpt of their break-up scene in Chapter 4:

"Go home," Watanuki demanded.

Doumeki stood up, gathering the last amount of strength he has. Without restraint, his last thought flowed between their shared minds. But you were always my home.

Watanuki's eyes sharpened with cruel unease. The next words he spoke aloud might as well have been acid thrown right at Doumeki's face.

"I never wanted to be."

The tone was soft, too mild to hold any seething emotion but the very lack of it felt like a knife shredding through the ribcage and puncturing the heart. Doumeki's knees weakened. He was ready to collapse again but Maro and Moro were pulling him away and his feet suddenly don't belong to him and he was moving toward the door.

As he watched helplessly while his view of Watanuki shrunk the more he walking away against his free will, the seer raised his left hand and with a languid motion of steady fingers, he cut through the telepathic ribbon between them. It was like a fuse in his mind short- circuited. The pain that followed must have been immense, but it was over before he could feel the rest of it. Doumeki was now standing outside in the sidewalk, staring at an empty lot before him, a deserted patch of land between two ordinary skyscrapers.


DOUMEKI / KOHANE --> This was a relationship I was dreadful to explore in writing at first, but after a while I grew very much invested on them, particularly on trying to understand how they came to become a couple, as well as remain sympathetic with their side of the story that led to this relationship. As avid of a DouWata shipper as I am, I still found it easy to like this pairing because I believe their personalities fit extremely well together. This was something I further tackled in the sequel Entwined, but for this prequel alone, I decided to develop their camaraderie as a real friendship where they would rely on each other for comfort and reassurance in the last six years of watching the man they love continue to stay imprisoned in the wish shop, clinging to his ghost. It was only by the seventh and last chapter of Frequency did I decide to turn this friendship into a romantic one which only happened because Watanuki had both directly rejected them after he banished them from the shop and from ever seeing him again. Now that their contact with Watanuki was severed, Doumeki and Kohane helped each other get over their broken hearts so it was no surprise that they decided to stick together because neither could ever fanthom loving anyone else except Watanuki, and they can't possibly include an outsider in their personal drama so they chose to be together instead. In my version of events, I wanted to establish that Doumeki and Kohane are physically attracted to each other and their relationship does become sexually intimate, but it was still a relationship based on the premise that they can't be with other people anymore after what they have gone through and suffered, so they might as well make the most of what they have together now.

So far, I like writing about their relationship and tackling its setbacks because it's a good exercise on exploring their individual motivations for staying in the relationship which are the same but still differ in a few, valuable ways.

Here is an excerpt from Entwined where Kohane's professor--an original character I created--asked her about Doumeki:

“Do you love Doumeki-san, Kohane-chan?”

Kohane remembered his warmth, his kindness and his tireless commitment. She remembered the rarity of his smiles and the intensity of his gazes. She also remembered how their bodies made rhythmic sense together two weeks ago during that cold Sunday night—how she felt like molten lava underneath him as he moved inside her—how that single perfect moment belonged only to them and nobody else, and they finally learned together how to be whole again.

She didn’t even hesitate with her answer, “Yes, I love him.”

It wasn’t just Shizuka as a person who Kohane loves; it’s the uncertain yet a kind of world worth having which he is a part of; it’s the restless hope they share together, and their tiny painful wishes that serve as an unbreakable tether to the one thing they both wanted more than each other—that broken boy living in a place they can’t ever stay for long—a hurricane of a person neither of them could outrun.


KOHANE / WATANUKI --> I believe a good forty percent of Frequecy mainly dwelt on how Watanuki and Kohane's relationship drastically changed and then fell apart. Even though the romantic relationship that I was intent on telling is about Doumeki and Watanuki's, I still couldn't help but gravitate towards the complex dynamics between Watanuki and Kohane because I do believe that they have an intense, almost familial, connection with one another. Since Watanuki met Kohane when she was only twelve, he had always felt brotherly toward her, and acknowledged her as a sister by choice. As he started giving into his darkness, he became possessive of her, slowly and steadily resenting the fact that she's growing up and might decide one day that she has outgrown him. Her close relationship with Doumeki at this point is something that rattles Watanuki because he doesn't want to share her. When Kohane tried to reason with him and sympathize with his grief about Yuuko, and his dilemma concerning the woman who tried to offer her unborn baby in exchange for revenge, Watanuki felt inclined to punish Kohane because it was at this point when he realized that someday Kohane will see him differently and he would rather have her hate him now just to get it over with. A foolish and unreasonable notion but Watanuki was becoming even more inaccessible so his regretful actions are bound to get increasingly worse. By the sixth chapter, Watanuki was scolded heftily by Mokona who got through him long enough for Watanuki to begin owning up to his demons and his mistakes, and it was in this fragile moment that Kohane found her way back to the shop and finally confess that she had been in love with him all along. Watanuki tried to consummate her love for him when he kissed her out of desperation to cling to her, but he was also telepathically linked to her during that moment and it almost killed her. The excerpt below featured that moment when Watanuki finally decided to let Kohane go and maybe even hope that she can find happiness with Doumeki:

Watanuki cradles her head gently and drains the dark spots he had inflicted on her memories of Doumeki. He returns every piece of light in them. Hesmiles at her as he cups her cheeks. “I’m sorry, Kohane-chan. But I also think you don’t have to forgive me. Neither of you should.”

Kohane opens her mouth but finds no words of protest or explanation. He can see the understanding dawning in her eyes.

And it was awful.

It was staring at the one and only thing either of them has ever wanted and could have had, but never will.

He kisses her forehead and whispers, "You both deserve someone better.”

He hugs her again very tightly even as he is ready to set her free. “You deserve one another."


In my next post, I will touch upon speficic spoilers for my ongoing sequel Entwined Hearts and Other Glands.
Feeling: hopefulhopeful
Listening to: "Holding a Heart" by Girl Named Toby

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