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Author: Amy the Evitable a.k.a. Lunar Geograpy
Rating: PG
Warnings: Crossdressing. Written for the LibriHolic LJ community, an AU set at CLAMP university wherein Watanuki is the head librarian, and Doumeki is a grad student... and all the rest of the CLAMP multiverse can be found, too.

For Drae and Kat, because they rock my world.

Much Ado

If Watanuki Kimihiro, librarian extraordinaire, had one weakness it would be --

Well, frankly, if you took a poll among the students and faculty at CLAMP University, the unanimous result would be that Watanuki Kimihiro's one weakness was a total inability to retain his cool in the presence of one Doumeki Shizuka.

Not that his cool was all that spectacular in general, but this is beside the point.

If one approached the librarian himself as he manned his post at the information desk, and asked what his one weakness would be, the reply you would receive --amidst much stammering and full-body wriggling-- would be 'genki girls.'

Watanuki Kimihiro found it absolutely impossible to say no to genki girls. Especially when they pulled out the puppy-dog eyes. Those eyes were unfair and ought to be just as illegal as any other form of brainwashing, in the librarian's opinion.

This had already lead to any number of distressing situations, including the inter-library loan of a certain unnamed volume from Miskatonic University in Massachusetts at the request of the four women who made up the Manga Club.

But the less said about that, the better.

It was two particularly exemplary specimens of genki feminity who had Watanuki pinned at the moment. Both Sumeragi Hokuto and Daidouji Tomoyo were adorable, cheerful, and kind. It had always puzzled Watanuki that at times the dearest friends of the girls – Sumeragi Subaru and Kinomoto Sakura, respectively – would from time to time get a wild look around the eyes, and attempt to flee when approached by the delightful duo.

After this encounter, Watanuki would no longer be puzzled by this reaction.

When they'd approached him, he'd been happy to offer his assistance. As members of the Drama Club – the senior Costume Designers, no less! -- they had often consulted with Watanuki in order to research appropriate period dress for a campus production. They were always polite in their requests, which were made in a timely manner unlike those of a certain Professor Ichihara, and they treated the books with appropriately reverent care. Were it appropriate for librarians to have favorites, Hokuto and Tomoyo might be among Watanuki's.

So they stood before him, Tomoyo in her school uniform and long dark hair worn loose, and Hokuto in an outfit that resembled nothing so much as one of the giant orchids Watanuki had seen in a recent television special about rare carnivorous flora of the rainforests.

But on Sumeragi-chan, it was cute. Really.

"So as part of European History Month, we're going to put on something by William Shakespeare! Everyone is terribly excited about it, and Ichihara-sensei is serving as the faculty sponsor," said Hokuto, ending with a firm nod that caused her outfit to billow in sort of a feral snapping-shut sort of way.

But it was a lovely shade of lavender. Honestly.

"That's good," replied Watanuki, as he carefully edged back a few more inches and wished the tiniest bit that he hadn't told the girls it was permissable to come to his side of the counter so they could look over his shoulder as he searched. "So, you'll be wanting some information on Western costuming? Are you looking for the costumes that would have been used in the original productions, or costumes authentic to the play's setting?"

"We've decided to keep as close to the original production as possible." Tomoyo gave a hesitant smile. "We're trying to recreate a slice of British history."

Watanuki rushed to reassure her. "Yes, yes, that's wonderful! I'm sure you'll do a very authentic job."

The smile steadied. "You're willing to help us, Watanuki-san?"

"Of course! To the best of my abilities!" Surely there was no job more rewarding then his, thought Watanuki. To be so relied-upon by the students, to have his expertise so valued! "I know for a fact we have several excellent books on the subject!"

"Oh, yes! Watanuki-san has the library so well-stocked! We were able to find very detailed examples of the costumes!"

"It's all been sewn already, in fact. We just need to do the final fittings."

Watanuki deflated a bit. "Ah, so... I'm glad you were able to find your research materials. So... With what did you need my help? Finding appropriate props and acessories?"

"Not... exactly..." Hokuto stepped a bit closer. Watanuki couldn't help but notice just how empty the library had become in the last few minutes. Aside from the three of them, it looked entirely deserted.

It was almost uncanny.

"Watanuki-san, did you know that in Shakespeare's era, they didn't allow women on the stage? They thought it wasn't appropriate. So all the women's parts were played by men. Short and slender men. I guess they were maybe... kind of pretty men."

Right then, the very genki girls were reminding him of a pack of wolves, circling the prey and cutting off avenues of escape.

"How fascinating." Watanuki laughed, and rubbed at the back of his head.

"We are trying to be as authentic as possible --"

"-- and my brother had a lead role, but was suddenly called away by family business --"

"-- You know how few boys are in the Drama Club, don't you? Subaru-kun didn't have an understudy."

"And we don't have time to order the material and sew a whole new costume. But you're about the same height and build as my brother..."

Watanuki laughed again, and there was an edge of hysteria to it. "You're teasing me, aren't you? It's very funny..."

Tomoyo pulled out the puppy dog eyes. "Oh, no Watanuki-san. We would never tease about something so important as the Drama Club. We were really hoping we could count on you to help us – you've always been so dedicated to helping us create quality productions before. And you said you'd help to the best of your abilities. We really need you to take the role!"

"But... it wouldn't be appropriate! This is a student production! I'm a staff member!"

Hokuto added her big, sorrowful eyes to the struggle. "But since we were on such a tight timeframe, with an all-male cast, we had to request other staff and faculty to take roles! For example, Seishirou-san is playing the role of Don John!"

"I..." Watanuki swayed, but his resolve remained firm, even in the face of two-fisted puppy-dog eyes. "I really don't think I can help you with this."

The girls exchanged a sorrowful look. "Himawari-chan will be so disappointed," whispered Tomoyo.

"Himawari-chan...?"

"Didn't we mention that Himawari was directing? It's her directorial debut! She's been so nervous about it, and we've had to reassure her night and day that everything will come together... But now..."

Watanuki's shoulders sagged, admitting defeat before the rest of him was quite ready to surrender. "The role – it's not Juliet, is it?"

"No no no!" Tomoyo hastened to reassure him. "We'd never ask that of you! Besides, Himawari-chan wanted to direct a comedy!"

"It would make her so happy if you'd agree to step in and save the day!"

"I... All right. I'll do it."

~***~

What happened next will forever remain mercifully blurred in Watanuki's memory... or perhaps only until someone finally gives into the urge to show him the footage from Tomoyo's portable camera.

But so far as Watanuki will later recall, from nowhere Hokuto a creation of burgundy and rose velvet,with cream-colored lace spilling out of every haberdashing orfice. There was a an almost fetish-worthy proliferation of black satin ribbon, crisscrossing hither and thither After a longer look, Watanuki removed the qualifier. It was without a doubt fetish-worthy. Someone seriously into bondage had been give far too much input on the bodice of the dress.

He held out his arms. "I'll see if I can figure out how to get into it."

Watanuki swears that the next few moments are proof of the existence of supernatural beings on the campus. House elves. Stack gnomes. Day-tripping grey aliens. SWAT teams of sartorial ninjas. Because there was no way on earth those two sweet, innocent girls could pin and strip a man in less than 60 seconds.

Even the camera footage is blurred, much to a certain someone's disappointment. There are high-pitched shrieks of protest –"What? Wait! No, don't take – Ah! Don't touch me there!" There are slightly lower-pitched reassuring noises about professionalism, and the outfit absolutely requiring a team of dressers. Drab dark clothing is flung away from the camera at great velocity, and there are only a few blurred shows of pale, pinkened flesh.

(Though Doumeki's frame-by-frame search does conclusively reveal a dainty little hand delivering a naughty little pinch to what is unmistakably a nicely rounded librarian ass. He is still not certain if he should give into his urge to snicker or his urge to deliver a stern talking-to about pinching other people's librarians without permission.)

When Watanuki regains some sense of orientation, he is in the middle of a tug-of war. Hokuto and her carnivorous-orchid dress are wrapped around his torso. Behind him, on the other end of the strings, he can hear Tomoyo making soft grunts of effort.

This would not be half so distressing if A) He were entirely sure that Houkto's high-fashion was vegetarian, or at least recently fed, and B) the strings being tugged were not lacing up the burgundy corset around his torso.

"On the count of three..."

Watanuki tries to draw a breath to protest, but finds the space in which breath can be drawn in short supply.

"One!"

"Two!"

"Three!"

"Uhhhnnnn!"

"Eeep!"

The girls each took a step back.

"Stay!" ordered Hokuto.

They circle Watanuki, as he tries to learn how to breath without expanding his diaphragm.

"Hmmm..."

There is a 'tsk' noise. "We either need more padding around the hips, or we need to make that corset tighter."

"Maybe if we shift the padding around a bit?"

Hokuto is in front of him again, and he can see both her hands, so that means the hands shifting and fluffing and plumping the padding around his ass had to be....

Had to be those stack gnomes. Or the day-tripping aliens. Because Tomoyo-chan Would Not Do That.

Hokuto-chan gives him a dazzling smile. "You look lovely, Watanuki! We just need to make a few adjustments to give you the perfect set of womanly curves!"

He tries to reply; it is probably the better for his reputation as a gentleman that he does not suceed.

"Don't try to breath from the gut. It won't work with the corset. Breath from up high – it makes your chest heave so nicely!"

Watanuki finds that by complying, he is able to pant. Shallowly. Tomoyo emerges from beneath his skirts – the sartorial ninjas must have snuck out while he was distracted, using some particularly occult form of ninjitsu – and he is again circled, measured up, and found wanting.

"That helped, but..."

"Oh, definitely. Either more chest padding or we lace him up tighter."

"Ahhh... I don't think --"

The tug-of-war has started up again, and the noises both girls are making are evocative of sumo wrestlers in extremity. They struggle, but the laws of physics dictate that the matter in Watanuki's torso can only compress so far.

Until something happens that drives the last tiny bit of air out of Watanuki's lungs.

"Oi."

"WHAT is HE doing HERE --- ITAAAAIII!"

"Now that is absolutely as tight as it will go."

"No doubt about it. We'll need more chest padding."

"What --" pant "Is HE--" pant, pant...

"Oh, we asked your co-star to come up and pose for some publicity photos with you!"

"My CO-STAR?"

"Hai!" They beamed at him in stereo. He had to turn away. If he didn't, his rage would come face to face with all that genkiness, and it would be like a matter/anti-matter explosion, and the carnage would be horrible, and all but impossible to clean up.

Facing the other way, Watanuki saw that Doumeki was as wide-eyed as he'd ever seen the bastard. His eyes kept sweeping up and down Watanuki's costumed body. If Watanuki had not been so lost to his rage that Doumeki got a cool costume – leather and linen and a vaguely piratical, swashbuckling look, damn him! -- he might have noticed a faint hint of blush on Doumeki's cheeks – and other reactions elsewhere on Doumeki's body.

That is not to say these reactions went entirely unobserved.

"Hokuto-chan, hadn't we better go find some padding?"

"Mmm, definitely. And maybe some silk flowers for Watanuki-san's hair!"

"Doumeki-san, would you mind waiting with Watanuki for a few moments? Please?"

While the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absense, the absence of a reply from Doumeki was evidence enough, and the girls quickly made themselves scarce.

Doumeki stared.

Watanuki brooded, and noticed further evidence of supernatural phenomena. Miniscule shadows were invading his library. Was it not agony enough to see his beloved stacks yet again violated by the presence of Doumeki? Must the library also suffer an invasion of small black specks? He tries to focus on them – were they bugs? Kanji escaping from the printed page? Tiny black holes? But they remained frustrating on the periphery of his vision.

And the aliens had to be messing with the gravity. The floor was wobbling.

"Oi. Are you ok?"

"This... this thing – they laced it very tightly."

Silence.

"Really, really tightly."

A raised eybrow.

"How difficult is it to understand? Are you blind? You may be too lazy to ever open your eyes all the way, but surely even the miniscule slice of vision you bother to obtain tells you something about the costume they forced me into!"

"Aa." The dots were multiplying, but still taunting him by remaining at the edges of his sight. "It looks nice on you."

"WHAT DID YOU SAY! You did not just say that. You were not speaking Japanese. You must have been speaking some obscure African dialect, and I entirely misheard what you were saying. Or maybe it was the echoes. Very distorted echoes, because You Did Not Just Say What I Heard You Say!" He was panting now, furiously and quickly. "You certainly did not say it as I was explaining, with clarity sufficient to instruct a class of pre-schoolers that this... this.... THIS CORSET has been laced too tight and I cannot breathe!"

"So loosen it."

Watanuki's arms raised above his head, bent, and the elbows bobbled back and forth as his hands searched behind his back for the knot of the laces. Only fragments of his muttered monologue could be heard. "Of all the... I can't believe you... Totally inappropriate!"

After a few moments, the elbows came down. If the knot could not be reached from above, he'd get at it from below. He could feel the criss-crossing of the laces easily, could follow them up as they pulled the velvet tight across his abdomen and chest, but where was the knot?

He bent forward, and continued fumbling. No good. He twisted to the left, then to the right. Still not good. He bend and twisted, and then shouted, "Would you stop staring at me? How can I concentrate with you staring at me like that! Look away immediately! As far away as possible! Even better, close your eyes and find some sand in which to bury your head immediately!"

Doumeki continued to stare. "I don't think your vertabrae are supposed to do that."

"You are Not Helping." He had to pant a few moments before he could continue. "Far from being helpful, your staring – and entirely unwarranted comments! -- are impeding my work."

It was possible that he'd regret that contortion come tomorrow morning, but there was no way he'd admit it. The arms went back up. The knot wasn't at the bottom of the corset. That meant it had to be at the top, right? Nobody would be so sadistic as to tie it right where you couldn't reach no matter how hard you tried....

Certainly not such delightfully genki girls as Hokuto-chan and Tomoyo-chan...

It must have been by accident. Entirely by accident. Because the universe hated him. But it was really getting harder and harder to breathe, and as having one's obituary describe one's death as a tragic cross-dressing accident would be marginally more humiliating then the alternative...

"Um. The knot... Could you... I need you to... "

"What?" Doumeki was smirking. "You'll have to be more specific. I'd hate to do anything unhelpful."

"Damn it, would you help me get this infernal piece of clothing off of me!"

Doumeki approached his back. Watanuki hung his head forward. Damn it.

"I just want to make sure I have this straight. You want me to take your clothes off? In the middle of the library?"

"YOOOOOOUUUUUUU!" was all Watanuki managed to say before the swarm of black dots dive-bombed him, sending him into darkness.

****~~~****

There was a brilliant light, and Watanuki felt himself drawn towards it through what felt like a long, dark tunnel. There was a radiant surge as he approached, and he could swear he heard the voices of angels, high-pitched and sweet. The voice of his own personal guardian angel trilled in his ears. "...will make wonderful publicity shots! You two look so dramatic together!"

'You two'? When darling Himawari-chan said that phrase, it almost always meant...

As Watanuki's eyes fluttered open, revealing the stoic demeanor of Doumeki Shizuka above him, the camera flashed for a third time. It captured the image of Watauki draped backwards over Doumeki's arm... like some swooning heroine on a cheap romance novel.

In his damn corset.

Perhaps the obituary wouldn't have been so bad, after all.

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