I was browsing through a Filipino herbal book when I came across a plant that I often see but I never have known what is its name's English equivalent. Anyway, enjoy!
"I know that plant is around here somewhere…" said Horo Horo as he and Tamamura Tamao hiked through the backyard of Yoh's family house- the forest of Izumo.
Yoh was sick with fever and Anna ordered him to get the herbal plants she needed to make some medicine for her fiancé. And since the democracy in the house was futile against the will of the future mistress of the house, he was forced to do what she ordered.
He glanced at Tamao, who was evidently struggling to just keep up with his pace. He was used to walking in the rough paths of the mountains, but he knew Tamao wasn't. She was used to the confines of the Izumo house, so walking in the woods with a semi-stranger mustn't be exactly a very relaxing experience for her.
He caught her glance at him, and when she realized that he did so, she blushed profusely and looked back down.
He sighed- maybe he wasn't having a very good hair day, that was why she was so nervous of him. Or maybe when she was serving Yoh and him and Ren and the other guys the other night…well, he was a little tipsy with the four bottles of beer he drank, so he was a little rowdy. And according to Chocolove, he couldn't stop teasing Tamao. Something about her being so cute but boyfriendless at the age of 13…
"Tamao?" he said.
"H-Hai?" She stiffened.
"No, I won't eat you. You can put the branch down," he said wryly when he noticed her gripping a piece of loose branch that she picked up awhile ago.
She blushed some more. "G-Gomen nasai! I didn't know I was still holding on to this-" She threw the branch panickedly, and it hit the back of his head accidentally. She freaked out. "A-Ah! G-Gomen, Horo Horo! I didn't mean to-"
He groaned. "Never mind. So how many pieces of these Chinese oranges do we need?"
"Let's just get all that we can take," she said, taking off the basket that hung on her shoulders like a backpack.
"Very well." He proceeded to pick the best looking of the fruits. She knelt down beside him and started to gather the fruits too.
"Ah, I hope Master Yoh will be well when we bring this home and Anna-okami finishes in turning these into his medicine," she cried.
"You worry too much," he said. "It's just a fever. Yoh will be fine, don't worry."
"I-I can't help it…Master Yoh rarely gets sick ever since he was a child. Not even a cold or a cough. It's just so…unusual…" Her cheeks flushed when she realized that she had spoken words more than she usually allows herself to.
To this, Horo smiled. "Go on. I'm listening."
"I-Iie…gomen for boring you. Let's just finish gathering these so we can take them to Anna-okami already." Tamao hurriedly dusted her pants and stood up, slinging the basket on her shoulders.
"Yeah," he agreed. It had just been weeks since the fateful battle between Yoh and Hao, and his body was just starting to manifest the pains and injuries he incurred in his battle with his brother. "I'm hungry, and I think I'm starting to see double visions-" He grinned when Tamao bowed, apologizing profusely. "Joke, it was just a joke! I'm still fine! No, it's alright. It's not your fault that you're slowing us down! Wait, it is…" He slammed his hands over his ears, laughing when Tamao's high-pitched voice reached its peak, repeating "Gomen nasai" over and over.
Horo watched as Anna took the fruits then knelt down beside her fiancé. "Yoh?" she said in a voice that he never would imagine could belong to Anna, what with its softness and tenderness.
"A-Anna?" asked Yoh, opening his eyes weakly.
The itako slammed her itako beads on Yoh's neck. "Get up and make your juice! You need fluids to get well!"
"Hai! Hai! I'm getting up already!" The shaman had no choice but to get up from his bed and do what his fiancée says. Horo groaned.
"Man you are like, so henpecked!" said the Ainu, patting Yoh's back sympathetically.
"What can I do? I am totally crazy about her," smiled Yoh, then chuckled.
In the kitchen, Tamao was busy making dinner. Her eyes widened when she saw him and Yoh walking into the kitchen, laughing idiotically.
"M-Master Yoh, you shouldn't be standing up already! You're still sick!" she cried.
"I'm fine," he said, shrugging dismissively. "I'll just go make some juice-"
"L-Let me do it!" Tamao dove for the glass Yoh was holding, and she accidentally shoved the glass to the floor. It shattered into pieces, causing Tamao to freak out.
"I-It's ok-" said Yoh, sweatdropping when Tamao began to apologize panickedly. "Tamao-"
Horo Horo suddenly placed his hand on her mouth and pulled her face towards his chest. "Okie-dokie, quiet down. Yoh says it's fine."
She stiffened, then stopped wiggling.
Yoh blinked. "Did you suffocate her?"
He looked down and loosened his hold on her head. "Tamao?"
Her very red face looked up. "G-Gomen. I just couldn't stop my mouth when I apologize, but I am sorry. I won't do it again. Really, I'm so-"
Horo promptly pulled her head back to his chest, sighing. "She's still not calm. Go fix yourself the juice before Anna gets impatient."
"You're right." Yoh hurriedly fixed his drink then went back to his room.
Horo loosened his hold on her head once more. "OK, you think you can talk much more calmly now?"
"Heh, so that's how I should pacify you," he said, propping his elbows on the back of his head.
"I…I just don't like causing trouble to other people…that's why I get freaked out when I do," she explained, cheeks still pink. "Gomen nasai."
He looked at her for what seemed like an eternity before he stood up resolutely and pulled her hand. "Come with me."
"Er, Horo Horo-san, w-where are we going?" she asked, stammering.
He ended up taking her back to the forest. "I know it's just around here somewhere…"
She looked at him expectantly when he exclaimed, "Eureka!"
"Look at this plant," he instructed her as he knelt before a tiny shrub.
"The mimosa plant," she said.
He stretched his finger towards its leaf and gently touched it. The leaves instantly folded.
Tamao blinked, then looked at Horo who was gazing at her. "Er, Horo Horo-san, why did you show me this? I am aware of this plant."
"Do you know why the leaves fold up when it is touched?" he asked.
"Er…not really. All I know is it just reacts that way to change of light, or temperature, or touch. Why, Horo-san? Do you know?" she asked.
He grinned. "No. That was why I was asking you."
Her reaction was instant. She slammed her hand on his nape. "You're just teasing me!"
He grinned. "Got ya! I thought you won't hit me, then I'm sure you are destined to be a saint!"
"Eh?" she paused.
"I'm glad to know that you can get mad, because if you can't, then you're worse than Hao Asakura. It's nice of you to be polite and sweet, but you can't be like that all of the time. It won't hurt to show your feelings most of the time. If you are mad, do not be afraid to do something about it," he replied.
"I brought you here because you reminded me so much of this mimosa plant, that one touch could make it fold up already. It's just so fragile…sometimes I hate it, because it can't stand up to defend itself and be strong."
She bit her lip when she remembered that he compared her to it awhile ago.
"But there are also times that I want to take care of it, protect it and shield it from all kinds of things that would dare touch it," he continued. "It's not the mimosa's fault that it was like this…Kami-sama made it to be like that. So I guess the only thing I can do is to help the mimosa to be strong…just by being by its side." He smiled at her. "How about you, Tamao? Want my help too?"
She froze. Was he offering her his hand of friendship?
It was the first time that someone actually took time to talk to her…really talk to her. It was the first time that someone made her feel so important and worth caring for.
She smiled slowly. "Hai, Horo Horo-san. Help me to learn how to be strong."
She accepted his hand, and it began the friendship between them that would be so powerful that it would transcend so many things, even mortality itself.
To be continued