Finally, the final chapter. ^^ a product of my blood and sweat, considering my current state of fanfic update disarray. (Eight ongoing fics) Anyway, gomen nasai for the delay. This chapter is for Laura-chan and Grace-chan ^^
"You are not needed here anymore, Yoh Asakura!" yelled Hao. "Insignificant people must die!"
Yoh calmly walked towards him. "We shall have to let the outcome of the battle judge that."
Hao nodded, then he swiftly vanished. Yoh stepped back and pushed the sheath of the harusame backwards. It hit Hao straight in the abdomen.
"H-How did Yoh do that?" asked Ren, shocked. He had personally seen how fast Hao was in his battle moves.
Yoh aimed the sword to his left, and it struck the priest once more.
"Can he read his brother's moves?" asked Horo Horo, astounded.
"No," said Mikihisa. "He knows them. Hao said it himself. He is a part of my son too, and Yoh only learned only now how to make use of that fact to his advantage."
Jeanne nodded. "Perhaps Yoh's brief experience of being one with him helped."
Hao stepped back, eyes burning in pure hatred. "I should have finished you off before."
Yoh didn't reply.
"Spirit of Fire!" Behind Hao appeared his gigantic fire mecha. Yoh calmly looked up at the burning fire genie, then grinned. "Wow, that sure is big, nii-san!" he exclaimed.
Everyone else gaped, then sweatdropped. Even Hao himself paused, and for a second, a smile of fondness crept on his face. "Big, huh? Now show me your power, little brother."
Yoh nodded, and then summoned Amidamaru. Hao didn't waste time; the minute Yoh had his defense stance ready, he attacked him.
Horo Horo's eyes widened. "Wow, how did he get there so fast?"
Anna, poker-faced, watched the match, offering no comments. Her eyes were on Yoh, who looked more confident than he used to.
Mikihisa noticed the same thing with his son, and he already had a slight idea why.
Yoh stepped back to gather his momentum, then pushed his brother back. Hao nearly lost his balance if Yoh was not quick enough to hold him steady.
"What the hell is that idiot doing?" cried Ren. "He's supposed to be in battle, not in a boy scout activity! Why is he helping his enemy out?"
"Simple," said Mikihisa, eyes still on his sons. "He loves his enemy, his brother that he had always wanted to have."
"What?!" Ren and the others were stunned.
Hao pushed Yoh's hand away and jumped back to his Spirit of Fire. "You cannot put me to shame twice. This time, I'll make sure you die."
Yoh didn't even looked worried. "Go, nii-san."
The Spirit of Fire's arm nearly pounded him, but Amidamaru was quick enough to protect his master.
"You insect!" cursed Hao when he felt that their powers were just equal, and that he would just put into waste his furyoku by trying to break through Amidamaru's shield.
To this, Yoh smiled at him warmly.
The onmyouji was determined to crush him. He dropped his rational thinking by forcing to break the barrier. All he wanted to do was to prove that he was stronger than his little brother.
"Master Yoh, his force is doubling. What now?" asked the power spirit.
"Break your shield," said Yoh calmly.
"Master?" Amidamaru was shocked. "Y-You can't be serious."
"I've never been more serious in my life," replied the shaman.
"Fool! How do you think can a frail human body protect you from my Spirit of Fire?" asked his brother insultingly.
Yoh grinned. "You'll see."
Amidamaru still looked reluctant. "Master Yoh…"
"Trust me on this," said the boy.
The spirit nodded grimly, then stepped away. The shield broke, and Hao seized the chance to use all his powers as he aimed his punch at Yoh, who was standing there, doing nothing.
"Die!!!" he yelled.
"Yoh!!!" yelled Ren and the others.
Anna stepped forward instinctively, but Mikihisa blocked her. "It's over."
Just as the dust cleared, everyone saw the blazing fist of the Spirit of Fire just inches away from Yoh, who was standing there, unharmed. Hao's face was twisted in disbelief and even grudging admiration.
"Why didn't you step back?" asked Hao slowly. "You know very well that I can kill you."
"Because when I felt your hand in my soul, I realized that it was dumb to even try to kill a part of yourself," he explained. "You are human too, nii-san, or else you wouldn't have stopped your spirit from killing me. You would have killed Anna quickly. You would have done a lot of things yet you didn't, and that was then when I realized that you are still human, no matter how you try to run away from your identity."
"Idiot…" Ren couldn't believe how naïve and trusting Yoh Asakura was.
"Yoh will always be Yoh, I guess," said Horo Horo wryly.
Hao stepped down from the Spirit of Fire and approached Yoh. He punched him, but Yoh didn't retaliate. The onmyouji sighed, then messed Yoh's hair. "Damn, you ruined everything. All my plans…"
"Gomen," said Yoh.
Hao stepped back and walked away, just as the Spirit of Fire evaporated into the air.
"Nii-san, where are you going?" asked Yoh, stunned.
"Away from here. The foolish humans you're protecting are yours," said Hao, waving. "I don't care! It's your loss, not mine. I can always come back whenever I want and destroy them, after you die, that is."
He passed by Anna, who was looking at him blankly.
"That was anti-climatic," she said at last.
He shrugged. "Hey, if people like my brother exists somewhere in this world, I wouldn't call it just to end the world yet."
"Yet." She smiled for a fleeting moment at him, then her eyes went past his shoulders. The onmyouji knew that the smile on the itako's face was not his anymore.
He smiled woefully as Anna walked past him, but not before hearing her whisper.
Hao smiled, shook his head, and walked away,
"Will he really come back?" asked Jeanne nervously as she watched him disappear into the woods.
"I don't think so," said Mikihisa as he watched his long-haired son go. "It will take him a lot of time to rethink and recollect his abrupt decision to yield."
Horo Horo ran towards Yoh, laughing. "Idiot! We really thought you were in for it awhile ago! You scared the hell out of us!"
Yoh grinned. "I never doubted my brother even once in our fight awhile ago. I knew he would come through."
"Hope runs eternal, I guess," said Ren, rolling his eyes.
"Yoh, wow!" cried Manta. "That was so cool! Amidamaru is so great back there!"
The spirit smiled. "I still think Master Yoh is the best!"
"I just hate hero worship among us," grumbled Ren.
"As long as the subject of the worship is not you, maybe?" asked Lyserg, whom Jeanne was assisting to stand up.
Yoh smiled, then remembered something. His eyes went to the itako, who was walking towards him quietly. When she noticed that he saw her already, she froze, not knowing what to do. She"clenched her fists, then turned her back on him. Yoh's forehead creased, and he abruptly went to her. "Hey Anna, wait!"
She was forced to face him. "Y-You did impressively back there," she said slowly.
"So you would be the shaman king now, huh?" she asked, a small smile on her lips.
"Good luck," she said, then bowed a little.
"Anna!" He grabbed her arm. "I am now the surest bet for the shaman king throne. Isn't that enough to fulfill your requirements?"
"My requirements?" she repeated.
He groaned. "Come on, Anna. What else should I do so I can be worthy enough to answer your ads?" He took out a torn piece of the newspaper, knelt down on one knee, and handed her the ad containing the words "Wanted: Perfect Husband, Must Be a Shaman King".
"Y-You're…applying?" Her brow rose.
"Why should he apply?" asked Horo Horo. "Didn't you tell Hao that you won't marry him because you love Yoh?"
"I told him NOTHING!" snapped the itako, face starting to redden.
"Of course Yoh should apply!" said Ren. "I mean, Chocolove and I went through the whole legal process, and I don't see why he should be an exception."
"I said NOTHING!!!" She turned to Yoh, eyebrows arched. "Are you serious, Yoh Asakura?"
"OK, then court me."
Yoh's face lit up. "Afterwards…"
"I'll be your girlfriend, and you'll continue your wooing."
"We'll get engaged, and you'll carry on with the courtship," she said in a business-like tone.
"But will I have you for keeps?"
She smiled. "We'll see how well you perform with the courtship."
"Courtship?! Does Yoh look like a bird that has to perform a courtship dance?" Horo was astounded. "After all his near-death experience, won't he deserve to be given a break?!"
Ren smirked. "I supposed that will give some justice to what Chocolove, Manta, and I had to go through."
Jeanne looked at them, confused. "What ad are they talking about, Lyserg-kun?"
Lyserg squeezed her hand fondly. "I think you wouldn't want to know."
"Yoh?" Manta peeked into the room of his friend, frowning. The luxurious room, almost as large as the whole coltsfoot field of Horo Horo, was empty.
A maid smiled at him. "Prince Yoh is with Miss Anna. I think he's doing the courtship thing."
"Oh." Manta's eyes widened. He didn't want to know anymore what kind of courtship Yoh was doing right now.
"You're leaving," said Pirika sadly.
Ren sighed, then sat down beside her, smoothing her hair. "I'm sorry, but I must meet and fight with my father. I was just given a few months to train all by myself and prepare for my fight with him."
"I'm going to miss you," she said, sobbing.
"Me too," said Ren, grinning sadly. "Come here."
She inched closer to him, and he hugged her tight. "I love you."
"Me too," she whispered, sighing. "I would be really sad when you leave."
"And to think that before, we were like cats and dogs," said Ren as he thought back of their first meeting.
"Dogs do NOT kiss cats out of the blue," she said.
"Right." He bent down towards her. "Pirika…"
"Onii-chan!" screeched Pirika as Horo Horo, standing by the doorway, smirking. Behind him was Tamao, smiling at them apologetically.
"I tried to stop him," she mouthed to the Ainu girl.
"You guys are too lovesick," said Horo, rolling his eyes. "Ren will come back tonight, ok, Sis? He'll be gone for just five hours, see?"
"You don't understand," she said in a soft, lofty tone.
Ren rubbed his head. It was the fourth time that he came into close contact with the stupid snowboard of the ainu, all of them just when he was about to kiss his girlfriend. Where was the justice here anyway?
"Get going!" barked Horo Horo.
Ren rolled his eyes, then smiled at Pirika. "When I come back here, I will be already a man."
"Good luck," she said, eyes shining.
Ren nearly lost his mind. When she looks at him that way, it was next to impossible not to bend down towards her and cup her face and…
"OUT!!!!!" yelled Horo Horo, who looked pretty homicidal now.
The sun was setting when Chocolove, Nyorai, and Nichrome finished bathing Mic, who defiantly thrashed all through the bath.
"Ah, time for dinner!" said Nyorai, wrenching her hair dry.
"You better get dressed first!" scolded Chocolove. "You might catch a cold."
"Leave your clothes outside the door," said Nichrome as he cleared the different shampoo that they used. "I'll have to wash them."
"Hai!" And the girl started up towards the stairs.
Chocolove smiled at Nichrome. "One of these days, we have to teach her household chores. Someday, she's going to pick a husband whom she would serve. It would be nice if the one she would pick is as domestically able as we are…"
The former Asakura court priest had to smile. Choco was hinting the small competition between them again. "Yes. Very nice," he agreed.
"Choco, Nichrome! I don't have my pink sweater! Please go find it!!!" she screamed from the top of the stairs.
The two looked at each other and grinned.
"May the best man win," said Nichrome as he started to go through the wastebasket.
"Win, win, win…what rhymes with win?" Choco sighed. "I give up! I'll just go find that sweater. What color was it again?"
"Green," smiled Nichrome.
"Oh, ok." He went down on his knees to find the sweater.
"The sunset here is very beautiful!" gushed Jeanne. She loved the feel of Lyserg's arms on her shoulders, and even more the fact that the ride stopped; the carnival's main electricity had a problem, so all the rides were stopped. It had been quarter of an hour since they were stranded above.
Lyserg nodded. "I hope the ride gets stranded again tomorrow."
Jeanne giggled and laid her head on his chest contentedly.
The man running the Ferris wheel could only smile and shake his head as he looked at the most frequent customers of the Ferris wheel.
"Must be nice to be so young and in love," said the man, grinning.
Hao stretched lazily as he looked at the setting sun. Beside him was Opacho, enjoying the sunset too.
"So this is how my brother used to live," mused the prince. "Sure beats those carriage rides. So relaxing…why didn't I think of being a bum before?"
Opacho smiled. "Master Hao loves his life now, doesn't he?"
"Very. I couldn't ask for anything more in my life." The itako crossed his mind, then he smiled ruefully. "OK, well, there is one thing…but I'm sure she's being taken care of by him very well."
He shut his eyes and savored the relaxing feeling the fresh breeze was giving him.
This is the life.
"Four hundred forty eight, hundred forty nine…four fifty!!!" Yoh jumped up happily and stretched his arms. All day, he had been chopping woods for Anna's tribe in the mountains. Community service, as Anna refers to it.
"Fifty more," he told himself encouragingly.
"Snacks?" someone asked.
He turned around and grinned. "I would love that, Anna." He looked at the empty hands of the itako. "B-But where is the food?"
"Go make one, and make me a sandwich too." Anna smiled approvingly at the woods.
"Nah…I think I found something to nourish me." He grabbed Anna by the waist and crushed her towards him.
Her further protests were broken by his kiss.
A little far away from them, the women, enjoying the free firewood, were laughing.
"I guess it's true what the legends say," said the eldest finally. "When an itako from the mountains marries the shaman king, the mountains shall be blessed bountifully forever." She gestured to the chopped woods, then to the hot springs resort built just some distance away from them.
"I think Anna knows that already," said another woman, smiling at the itako, who was still locked in a passionate embrace with her king.The end
Wahahhahahhahahha!!! Done!!!!! OMG, it's done!!!!!!!!!! *cries tears of joy* Now I only have 8 fics to update! Waaaaai!!!!!
Thanks for reading, guys!