AN: An interesting little introspective on Tao Ren and his true feelings for Yoh's spirit- Amidamaru.

*Silent Rewards*

Sometimes, I hate him. Others times.. well, I'm not sure what I feel for the loyal spirit. I can see the way he looks at Yoh. I can see it in his eyes, and I can almost feel it rising off of his skin.

He's in love with him.

Though I feel I could never admit it to anyone, I'm in love too. Though.. the person, no, the spirit that I love loves someone else. I don't feel like I could ever feel this way for anyone else and yet, I can't stop myself from feeling it. It's times like these when I hate myself, and the whole world as well.

Life isn't fair, and yet, it is.

It's fair because I am at least granted the audacity to see him once in a while. It's unfair because whenever I do, he's not looking at me the way I'm eyeing him. His sentiments lie within that stupid, yet alluring Asakura boy.

Sometimes, I can almost see why Amidamaru loves him. Yoh is carefree.. gentle.. kind.. everything that I'm not. I'm glad I'm not like him though, don't get the wrong idea. Sometimes.. he sickens me with the way he's so blithe.

My life has been filled with troubles ever since I can remember. My father.. well, let's not even get into that subject. While Yoh has Amidamaru to confide in, I have no one. Jun is always there to help and offer condolence, but the only person I want to pity and comfort me is currently protecting Yoh.

I have to wonder from time to time if Amidamaru knows how I feel about him. Occasionally he'll throw me a worried glance full of revolting mercy, or a minute smile. It'll always be for only a moment, then the love of his so called 'life' will catch his attention as he always does. I cherish those small moments though. I know they're probably the closest we'll ever get.

Still, I'm satisfied.

I wouldn't want to live my life thinking that Amidamaru was afraid of me. I wouldn't be surprised if he was though. I've made threats before. Terrible, horrible threats. Threats to take him away from his dearly beloved Yoh. After all, a spirit without a Shaman doesn't have a true sense of control. I could do it too. I could steal him away easily and he'd bend and break to my will in time...

So why can't I go through with it?

Why can't I tear him away from the one he loves most in this world? Why can't I rip him from Yoh and make him mine?

I could do it.. but I can't.

Love is a strange thing you know. It can turn the world's strongest people into blind fools. Is that what I've become? Maybe it is. Yoh doesn't know how lucky he is. He has the love of a truly loyal spirit who would gladly give his life for him.

That's almost funny. Who do I have?

No one.

I've lived my life alone, wanting nothing but to be left that way. But when I think of that beautiful samurai, I don't want to be alone any more.

He made me cry once.

The only time I can ever remember crying, was when I was young and scraped my knee playing outside. My father had lectured me then, telling me how crying was a form of weakness and it showed your enemies how much of a failure you were. That may be true. I remember the day that I had first felt the signs of love stirring deep inside me. One look at my rival's spirit and I was yearning for a fight, an argument, anything so that we would be together a little longer. It scared me a little, knowing how I had been reduced to a sniveling little brat.

I remember how Yoh had left briefly to speak with either Manta or Anna, whichever escapes my mind at the moment. I can't really stand either of them, or at least I can pretend not to. Amidamaru was materialized and standing right in front of me, only a few feet away. He had a firm gaze upon me, though it was his normal façade and I was used to it.

"You love Yoh," was all I had said. The words flowed out too fast for me to stop them. I think that had been the first time I had realized it. It was the way he had watched as Yoh walked farther and farther away from him with a deep sadness in his eyes. I hated Yoh for how he tortured his spirit this way.

Amidamaru's stare seemed to soften then and I almost gawked when a sad, defeated smile came to his lips. He had told me silently then, how he had felt. I don't think he had meant to, or maybe he hadn't fully acknowledged it himself. "Ren, love is a strong word. People often toss it around now and then, not really knowing what they're talking about. You, on the other hand, I cannot see being so careless with such a sensitive subject. Is it because you too are in love?"

I stepped back as if he had hurt me. In a way, he had. His words stung like a paper cut. Was he truly that shallow? Or did he honestly have no idea? "You n-never denied what I said."

"That's true," was his soft reply.

Yoh had come back then, and things returned to normal. Amidamaru was glued to Yoh's side, or maybe it was the other way around. It was as if they had forgotten I had existed. I almost hoped I didn't. As soon as they were out of sight, I fell to my knees and cried. I cried for a while too. When I was finished, I was exhausted. I felt so worthless, wasting my tears on someone who would never care for me the way I did for him.

There's others times though, when I actually think that Yoh feels the same for him. A sideways glance, a hidden smile, an unexpected hug. He always seemed to go out of his way for the spirit.

They went out of their way for each other.

If I killed Yoh, what would that achieve? Amidamaru would hate me, hell, everyone would hate me. I think he'd actually kill me. I wouldn't let him though. He'd be mine.

So what the hell is stopping me!?

A sad smile comes to my lips as I slowly understand.

I live for his happiness.

As long as Amidamaru is happy, I hold a somewhat small joy in my heart, even if it's very diminutive. If I was ever the cause of his sadness, I don't think I could live with myself.

If I killed Yoh, Amidamaru would be sad and... I don't want him to be. As much as I want to be the one to make him smile, I know I never will be. I honestly don't know what he sees in Yoh, and yet, I still do.

Maybe, I'll secretly protect him. How unlike me does that sound? Like I said, love is a strange thing. If I can be the one to protect that which Amidamaru cares for and loves most, somehow, I think that I'll still get a wonderful reward-

Amidamaru's happiness.


The next day came quickly, and I wasn't very tired, despite my lack of sleep. Sometimes, I get lost in my thoughts and they're all that matters. Maybe it's because most of them revolve around Amidamaru.

Soon I was at school and waiting patiently on the front steps for it to begin. I heard Yoh's light-hearted laugh and soon he came into view with his ever faithful and handsome spirit at his side and Manta jogging in front.

I was about to slink away when Yoh caught sight of me and smiled. "Ohayou, Ren!" he called and started off in a trot of his own towards me. When he reached the steps, he tripped and would've fallen...

Had not I rushed to his aid and caught him. My gaze was stern as I helped him to his feet. "Yoh, that was a bit idiotic, don't you think?"

Yoh smiled sheepishly, "Yeah. Gomen. I'm stupid I know."

"Just be careful while around steps, okay?" I raised a brow.

"Will do, my friend" he said and gave me a fake salute, rushing once again to Amidamaru's side.

"Baka," a mumbled out, but when I raised once last glance at Amidamaru, I found he was... smiling. Not only was he smiling... but... he was smiling, at me. For once I had been wrong. I had caused him to smile. The look said everything.

I turned around and walked into the school, a small smile of my own coming to my lips. "You're welcome," I said silently.

Amidamaru was a strange spirit to figure out... but I had. Hurt what he cares about and you're in trouble.

But protect what he loves and he'll be pleased.

That's enough reward for me...

Because his happiness... is also my own.

*The End*

Yey! My first One-shot fic, but I had to do it. After reading the first volume of the Shaman King manga MANY times, I realized how obsessed Ren is with gaining control of Amidamaru. Did anyone else notice that? I know deep down Ren's not all that bad and all, as we come to find out. But, we all know how people like him are. Keep the feelings bottled up inside, and they'll stay there. Yeah... right. They'll only overflow.

I can't really see Amidamaru liking Ren in *that* way, cuz he's too obsessed with Yoh, (and that's the way I like it Y/A are my fav. SK pairing!). Hehehe, keep obsessing Ami ^o^.

Well, thanks for reading. May be a strange "pair", (I haven't seen one like it yet) but whatever.

PLEASE REVIEW! Tell me what you thought about it. For those of you who've read the manga, did you get that same strange vibe too? Ren says some VERY interesting things about Amidamaru. I'm pretty sure he does in the anime as well.

"That makes me want you all the more Amidamaru!!" and "I'll drive Amidamaru beautifully!" ...Well, those are just a FEW of his words O.o

In the future I want to do an actual story where Ren DOES *gasp* gain control of Amidamaru and chaos ensues. It'll still be one-sided tho. I know, I'm evil.

Thanks again for reading!