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ANNA

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It was raining outside, and as I watched the falling raindrops stain the translucent glass of PatchDonald's window, I couldn't help but see the reflection of an anxious young woman with flaxen hair and perplexed almond-shaped eyes.

Me.

"He will come," said Shilva from the counter, smiling at me reassuringly. He might as well have grinned at his palm; I didn't acknowledge him. I was too busy worrying, for this certain person that I am so close to murdering anytime now still hadn't shown up.

I looked at my beaded wristwatch (fashionably practical) - it was eight forty in the evening. I scowled. He was ten minutes late already, and of all people, Yoh Asakura should know that ten minutes is like 10 hours to me. And ten hours to me becomes ten years when I am not in the mood. Ten years turn to ten centuries when I am not in the mood and I am hungry. PatchDonald's outlet here in Funbari that serves fries, burgers, Coke, fries, burgers, Coke, AND fries, burgers, and Coke wouldn't hit the spot; I wanted real food, not fries, burgers, and Coke (the very healthy menu that my fiancée and his pals subsist on constantly if Tamao wouldn't go to Izumo and cook).

I vaguely remembered hinting to him for the past weeks that I wanted a special dinner for this night, this certain Friday night. He immediately suggested PatchDonald's special (the fbc meal), but later on relented that it would be our rendezvous point when he takes me out to dine in a place much more conducive to my demanded special dinner.

So why was I making such a big deal on a special dinner anyway?

It was my birthday, but of course, he didn't need to know that. Well, at least he didn't need to know that directly from me. Ah heck, men should know their ladies' special dates. I mean, I know when Yoh was first circumcised- in fact, I also know where, who did it, what shorts he wore, and even how big was taken off from his proud Peter. I also know when Yoh first learned about his Shamanic abilities, when he first blew the candle off his cake (coincidentally, the same day as his birthdays for the last few years), and when he first went to school. I know when he first had his wet dreams though he won't admit it (Kino-sensei made me wash his shorts, for pete's sake!). I know everything in Yoh's calendar, perhaps even more than he knew it himself.

In a nutshell, Yoh Asakura had no excuse not knowing it was my birthday today: this morning, this afternoon, right now, tonight, until midnight. Because as his fiancée, he should know things about me too.

I tapped my wristwatch. Eight forty-three. Three minutes flew by without me knowing it because I was thinking of my stupid Yoh.

I had to smile. At least thinking of him was good for something.

-----

Yoh

-----

"Waaaah!!!" I was in a total state of disarray. "The stove is burning!!! THE STOVE IS BURNING!!! Tasukete!!!"

"Hang on, I'm coming!" Horo Horo brought out his super-duper-large-and-bulky-but-hey-it's-cool canon. He charged his furyoku, then blasted the burning appliance with his ice attack.

Lyserg Diethyl clicked his tongue, then jotted down something on his pad. "That was the fourth appliance slash furniture we destroyed, you guys." He brought out his calculator. "Meaning, we have incurred a total of (four-digit-price) yen in total damages, and that is if we don't include our own moral damages, along with the very feasible physical damages we will have when Miss Anna comes here and sees the house…or what's left in it."

"Don't spell it out for us; you're rubbing salt in our injury," complained Ren Tao. "If this joker here," he pointed his thumb not so subtly at me. "Didn't call us up to help him orchestrate this surprise party for that dragon he calls a 'fiancée', then we won't have to worry about our lives later. I mean, Yoh could have devastated the house without our help."

"I do remember that you were the one who caused the rice cooker to explode when you placed it in the refrigerator after it finished cooking," smirked Horo Horo.

Ren's face heated. "That's because Ryu here said that all the dishes not yet needed will be put into the fridge!"

"But a rice cooker?!" said the ainu.

"Heh! And who made the microwave crank down when he placed a Styrofoam in it?" said the Chinese shaman who found the perfect comeback.

Horo clenched his fist. "Ryu said that you just place anything that needs to be cooked into the microwave oven. I didn't know that not all food containers are microwave-compatible!"   

"Why are you blaming me?" yelled Ryu, busy with the gravy. "How should I know that you two are kitchen hazards?"

"Common sense?" guessed Lyserg, who was earlier fretting on not getting a life insurance when he had the chance (could have been handy when they face Anna's wrath tonight) while Horo and Ren were arguing.

Horo Horo crossed his arms. "I'm NOT a hazard! It just happens that we don't use microwave ovens in the mountains. We cook our food in a wcy Mother Nature would most wholeheartedly approve!"

Ren did the same. "And I do not need to waltz into the kitchen because intercoms were made for a walk-less, unstressful way of getting dinner! Not to mention that we don't reheat food; our dinner for tonight will not be our midnight snack because I can always get another batch of food cooked for me! And furthermore…"

I waved my hand frantically. "Guys, guys! Wait! The wok is on fire! The wok is on FIRE!!!" But Horo couldn't be disturbed from snorting at Ren's speech.

Pirika, the only female specimen in this otherwise testosterone-filled room, came to the rescue and threw a bucket of water at the burning cooking utensil. Half of the bucket did the job, and just as I was to thank her, she promptly made a turn-around and sloshed the arguing boys behind her.

Profanities filled the room, and I heard Lyserg mutter something about how fortunate it was that he didn't let Jeanne join the surprise party organization we have for Anna.

"You guys, if we don't get our act together, it will be YOUR heads that will be served on a platter!" scolded Pirika. I had to smile; she was the epitome of glorious female wrath. The wrath that could have forced Adam to take the apple from Eve or for King Louis XVI to obey Queen Antoinette.

I have expected her brother to shut up, but for Ren to do the same…

Manta Oyamada, quietly stirring the gravy with Ryu, smirked. "I wished I had Cyberlink's Screen Capture program. Ren's face was impressive awhile ago."

"Do you want me to drown you in that gravy you're cooking?" snapped Ren. His slightly flushed face turned to Horo Horo's little sister. "You have no right to do that to me!"

"Oh yes, I HAVE! I have every right, in fact, as well as every left, center, up and downs of the situation," said Pirika, hands on her hips. "Yoh Asakura is organizing a party for Anna-okami, and it is you that has no right at all to let your arrogance get in the way!"

"You go, sis!" cheered Horo Horo, enjoying the precious little speechless moment of Ren Tao –THE Ren Tao.

I tried to sound reconciliatory. "Hey you guys, let's not fight. If you guys have time to argue, then we still have time to finish the dishes and at the same time, hide the evidences of our handiwork." I winced at the last word, understating Godzilla's work of art in our house. Oh god, Anna won't be in a good mood if she sees this.

"Master Yoh is right!" chirped my ever-loyal Amidamaru. "Guys, let's help save Master Yoh's soul. Co-o-pe-rate."

Heads nodded, and I sighed, relieved. Maybe this night wouldn't turn out to be too crummy. All we just had to do was work, and work fast. If possible, as fast as light. I had asked Anna to meet me in PatchDonald's so I would have time to organize the party. I looked at the wall clock. It was still early, anyway. Seven forty-five.

……

SEVEN FORTY-FIVE AGAIN?!!!

It was seven forty-five more than an hour ago when I checked!

"What time is it?" I asked Manta panickedly.

He glanced at his wristwatch. "Nine pm."

I felt the color drain in my face.

----

Anna

----

Nine o'clock. I looked at Shilva, who was hesitating whether to close the front door of the shop already. He had already closed the windows.

"I'm going," I said quietly, standing up. My blockhead fiancé must have forgotten it, after all. All those minutes I spent in convincing myself that Yoh cared for me enough to remember the one most single date that made my existence in this lifetime possible.

"You can stay here…it's pouring cats and dogs," said the Indian worriedly. "But I have to close the door of the shop…I don't want outsiders to wreak havoc in my shop."

"No, no. Never mind." I helped myself with one of the umbrellas and left the shop.

"Wait, let me escort you! We'll just wait for Karimu to return from the watching American Pie 2 and-"

"I'm going home," I said in weary finality. And I turned my back on him before he could see the most embarrassing thing Kyouyama Anna could ever do.

Cry.

I was walking down the road, eyes cast on the ground. I was busy hating Yoh, and busy I was because I didn't notice that I bumped on someone already. He landed on the pavement.

"Oof!" I heard the person say. "Look at where you're going! My fiancée's waiting for me-"

I stepped back, and he looked up, blinking. "A-Anna!"

I didn't reply. I walked past him, and he shuffled towards me. "A-Anna, I can explain. See-"

With the stream of apologies that burst from him, I understood nothing. Only one fact glared in my mind; he doesn't care for me enough to remember things important to me.

We arrived in the house, and I wasn't surprised when I saw many pairs of shoes and boots by the door. Maybe I disrupted Yoh and his friends' merrymaking, and he just remembered that he was supposed to meet me in PatchDonald's hours ago, and hurried there out of obligation.

But what disturbed my sensibilities were the loud merry music and the bubbly laughter of the people inside. Tears threatened to spill down my cheeks again. Why couldn't I fill the house with that kind of laughter from Yoh when I am with him? Don't I make him happy? Don't I delight him even just a bit?

"Stop the music!" I yelled, and a second later, everything went still.

"M-Miss Anna…" Pirika said.

I glared at them- the deadliest, most frightening one I could muster. "How dare you all be happy here while I sit alone in PatchDonald's like an idiot, waiting for my blockhead fiancé?"

I felt Yoh come up behind me.

"Anna, they came here to-"

"Shut up! Get out of the house, all of you! OUT!!!" I yelled, then marched upstairs, the traitorous tears finally escaping my defenses.

I was lying down the futon, sobbing quietly. Just then, I heard the door open. I pretended not to hear, even when Yoh joined me in the bed.

"Anna, that is not the way to treat guests," he said with surprising firmness.

I felt a sob escape my throat, and I heard him exhale audibly. I couldn't believe that Yoh was taking his friends' side.

"They came here to help me cook." He sighed again. "I can never be good enough for your culinary taste so I thought that it will require cooperation among me and my friends. I am perfectly aware that we had to meet at PatchDonald's at eight thirty, but well…for some reason, the wall clock stopped. I-If you must know, I slashed that stupid timepiece with my harusame twelve times consecutively and had burned it to crisp. I now found it more loathsome than my brother's plan to make shamans dominate the world. I really do."

I found myself slowly losing the battle of silence. Yoh sounded so boyishly sad…

"I'm sorry, Anna. I'm so sorry. I fail at everything. I didn't become a shaman king, I didn't become a decent cook, I never matched up to your expectations in our training. Now I failed at something as simple as setting up a party for you. I'm pathetic, Anna. Gomen nasai. I feel so unworthy for you." Yoh then turned silent.

I was still sniffling, but I got up. "Yoh…the noise below… it was for my party? The party you made for me?" I asked softly.

He nodded slowly. "Uh-huh. It was Chocolove playing with his mouth. I'm sorry I let him do that. He said he could play 'Happy Birthday' very well with a musical instrument. I didn't know it means making sucking sounds. I'm sorry. And the one on the background playing percussions…it was Horo Horo striking his native Ainu musical drum. A-And Faust was also striking his ribs and bones collection for Horo Horo's back-up. They were pretty unsynchronized, but they mean no harm."

"Y-Yoh…" I could feel my heart swelling with overwhelming adoration for this boy who I didn't notice was trying so hard to make me happy. I touched his face lovingly. "Yoh…I'm sorry too. I was upset. Y-You see…when I was a child, no one ever remembers my special day…not even Kino-sensei. Every year in my fourteen years, I had been waiting for someone to remember it, without me having to say it. I'm so disappointed when no one does."

"Anna…" His eyes lit up hopefully. "So do you forgive your blockhead fiancé now? Your Yoh no baka who couldn't do anything right in his life save for loving his Anna with all his heart and soul?"

I nodded tearfully. "Yoh no baka, aishiteiru yo."

I can't close for all this time

I wanted to forget the pain of falling

That you, maybe, remember now

Dreams weren't always made to be broken

He wiped my tears with his thumb gingerly. "That piece of love you have for me…I promise I'll protect that and nurture it with all the love my heart can give."

I nodded. He need not say that; I just know.

When you hold me in your arm

Remind my heart

Of the way love should be

In the moment I let go

Remind my heart

That you're really there for me

Like the sun, breaking through the dark

Remind my heart

He grinned at me tenderly, then wrapped his arms around me, rocking me gently. I raised my face towards him, and he smiled some more. Then slowly, his face lowered to meet mine.

can it be this simple

Can it be this true

All the fears I've held so long

Swept away by you

Slowly now, you bring me to my senses

And I can feel the warmth again

Of the flame I'd thought I've lost forever

-----

Yoh

-----

I smiled as I got up towards the window, hugging my fiancée still. "Fellas, come in! The party is still on!" I excitedly pulled Anna with me as the group trooped into the kitchen.

"We thought all our hard work will be in vain," said Faust, smiling at me and Anna.

I grinned. "See, Anna? I didn't forget!" I raised my glass in a toast. "Happy Anniversary of Anna-chan's first menstruation period!!!"

Silence.

Then a slam on my head nearly made me slip out of my consciousness.

"It's my birthday today, you IDIOT!!! YOH NO BAKA!!!!"

I sighed. Hey, life can't be always perfect, can it?

-----

Anna

-----

Yoh would always be an idiot, but at least one thing is for sure…he remembers SOME of the events in my life's calendar.

Oh, I just love my Yoh. I should make it my birthday resolution to not slam Yoh's head too often with my fist…

Hey wait, what is that piece of microwave oven doing hidden behind the door?

End?

:: note ::

the verses used were from Ms. Lea Salonga's song, REMIND MY HEART. ^_^ song is not mine.

--- Syaoran no hime