Summary: Based on the anime and set after Ren and Yoh's first battle. With all the times Yoh's landed in the hospital, parents nowhere in sight, someone must have gotten suspicious of the strange, easy-going boy in room 302 who somehow manages to wrap everyone around his little finger. In a place where lives hang in balance, how much difference can one quixotic, headphone-wearing, spirit-seeing child make?
Disclaimer: Shaman King characters are not mine, of course. TT
This story's plot is taking a bit of a strange turn. I have a different idea for it now than when I first started, but I'm not entirely sure how to incorporate it into what's already been written. And Yoh's personality has somehow gleaned a few traits from Shikamaru and Kakashi...
By Lizeth Hallington
2 - Questions
Asakura Yoh hummed quietly as the gazed at the clouds through the window of his room. Strange things had been happening in the hospital lately. Nurses had been falling ill at the same time without apparent cause, arousing a frantic inquiry into the matter, yet so far no concrete answers had been found. Rumours of food poisoning had been spreading, leaving both staff and patients uneasy, though so far, no further unusual illnesses had been reported. Strange again that none of the patients had been affected, although this report was accepted with grateful relief.
So business continued relatively normally, though with increased attentiveness and precautions in place, and unfortunately for Yoh that meant he wasn't alone.
"Hm?" The boy answered lazily, "Did you say something?"
Jiro sighed in exasperation, closing his notebook and resting it on his lap. "Why are you making this so difficult?"
"Asakura-kun," Jiro said coercively. "Where are your parents? We haven't been able to get in touch with them at all."
"They travel, Jiro-san."
"So who takes care of you?"
Jiro's eyes narrowed fractionally. Why did the boy hesitate when mentioning his guardian? "He isn't doing a very good job, then," Jiro remarked with deliberate carelessness, "To let this happen to you-"
"That's not true," Yoh rebuked with dismay, suddenly sitting up straighter in his hospital bed. Torso wrapped in fresh bandages, Yoh knew he looked too frail. His hand crept up to his shoulder as he recalled the duel against the pointy-haired foreigner and the heartless opinion the other boy had of guardian spirits. "He's been doing the best he can. If anything it's my-"
Interesting, Jiro noted, eyebrow raised as Yoh cut off abruptly. It seems I can get a reaction out of him after all.
"If he's such a good guardian, he should be here for you," the man prodded.
"He has been here for me."
Jiro shook his head. "Asakura-kun, according to the nurses, no one's visited you except your short young friend."
If Jiro was expecting a denial, he didn't get one. Yoh looked up and caught the man's eyes. The boy's posture conveyed determined stubbornness. "Just because you haven't seen him around doesn't mean he hasn't been here for me, Jiro-san."
Jiro sighed and stood, slipping is notebook in his pocket. "Alright then, Asakura-kun, you win for now." Digging around the same pocket, he pulled out a business card and held it out to the boy. "My number's on here. Give me a call if you ever feel like talking."
Yoh received it with both hands and politely looked it over. "Arigato, Jiro-san. Sorry I don't have a card to give you..."
The man waved his apology aside. "Never mind. I'm sure I can track you down," he smirked. "What did you say your guardian's name was again?"
"I didn't say," Yoh corrected blandly. He leaned back against the pillows as if to sleep. "But it's 'Amidamaru'."
"Is that his first name or family name?" Jiro pressed.
That damnable smile was back. "It's the only name I know him by."
Turning to the door, Jiro bit back a sigh of pure frustration. This was going to be one of those cases...
Unseen except by the single shaman in the room, a blue-haired samurai watched the official leave.
"Yoh-dono..." the spirit began apologetically, floating over his partner.
"There's nothing to discuss, Amidamaru," Yoh interrupted gently.
The spirit almost protested, but sighed dropped the not-issue. "...Hai, Yoh-dono."
Manta, on his way to visit his friend, had to do a quick leap out of the way when the door to room 302 opened outward without warning, almost hitting him in the process. "Whoa!"
"Oh, sorry," a man said, and spared him a brief glance. Recognition seemed to flicker and the man opened his mouth to speak, before thinking better of it moving on with a shake of the head, mumbling under his breath.
"O-kay..." Manta blinked, following the man's movements to the end of the hall, before turning back to the door and entering the room. "Hey, Yoh."
Yoh was sitting up in bed, listening to his headphones and utterly oblivious to the world.
Manta walked over and prodded his friend with a finger. "Yoh!"
"Oh hey, Manta, when did you get here?" the shaman asked casually, removing the headphones from his ears. For an instant, Manta was reminded of that day when they'd waited for the Dead Enders on top of Monument Hill... except thankfully this time there were no ropes or trees involved.
"Who was that guy that was in here before me?" Manta asked curiously as he climbed onto chair by the bed.
Yoh smoothed the sheets over his legs. "He's from social services."
"Social services?!" Manta asked with a hint of distress. This situation... could get messy. "What did you say? What did he want to know?"
"Things I couldn't tell him."
"I'll just bet. Y'know somehow I don't think he's going to accept that..." Manta hedged warily.
"No, probably not," Yoh sighed, staring at the ceiling in quiet contemplation. "...I think I've overstayed my welcome," he stated decisively, throwing off the covers and swinging his legs around. Poised on the edge of the bed, he drew a strained breath and froze, hand flying to his shoulder. "Itai..."
"Take it easy!" Manta cried in alarm, the same Amidamaru materialized with a worried, "Yoh-dono!"
For a moment, the only thing that filled the silence was Yoh's strained breathing, before the shaman's face broke into a quiet smile. "Don't worry," he placated wryly, "It only hurts when I breathe."
Amidamaru looked completely at a loss.
Manta looked half-way between exasperation and worried disbelief. "Well breathing was pretty important, the last time I checked," he answered faintly.
Yoh grinned in response and closed his eyes, a brief flash of vertigo sweeping over him for a fraction of a second. There...
There was definitely a presence outside his window. A strong, unfriendly one.
"Yoh-dono," the blue-haired spirit warned.
Yoh Asakura stood slowly and moved to the window, gazing solemnly out into the night. His expression was unusually focused, but calm none the less. The brunette nodded once. Ren was back to finish the fight.
With increasing dread, Manta looked worriedly between his friend and the samurai ghost. That dread skyrocketed when he realized just who was outside. "Are you crazy?! You can't go from a hospital bed to a brawl! There's got to be a back way out of this place. C'mon? Please?"
The brunette shook his head negatively.
"I can't run from this, Manta. I have to face him again."
"You're still hurt!"
Yoh looked down at his friend and smiled, opening the window. "Daijoubou. It'll be fine."
And then he was off, leaping from the sill and landing on a series of horizontal poles. Picking one up, he jumped again to land on hard concrete, knees bent to absorb the impact. A second's pause to catch his breath and he was off, running to confront the callous foreigner who had wounded him in the first place.
"Yoh!" Manta yelled as loud as he dared, leaning out the window into the cold night, before turning and dashing out the room with a strangled groan of anxiety. If Yoh couldn't beat Ren when he was at his best, what chance did he have now that he was wounded?
Heart pounding, Manta ran for the stairs.
"I'm sorry we can't be more helpful, Jiro-san," a nurse said apologetically as she stood by the lobby door. "With everything that's been going on at the hospital lately..."
"It's hardly something you need to apologize for, Li-san," the man replied, bowing. "We'll straighten this out, I promise you."
"I hope so," the elderly nurse sighed. "Asakura-kun really is a good boy. Kind heart."
"I don't doubt that," Jiro assured, "That might actually be the problem. If-" he paused and corrected himself. "-Someone has hurt him. Deliberately. And he's still protecting them, which is not entirely unheard of, but I don't think he's doing it out of fear or guilt. That might end up making things more difficult in the end."
Li-san suddenly straightened in alarm and Jiro felt the need to reassure her but quickly realized that she was staring perplexedly over his shoulder.
"What?" he asked and turned to look behind him.
"I thought I just saw Asakura-kun running out the gate," she frowned. "But that can't be-"
"'Scuse me!" cried a harried voice as something zipped past their knees and pounded out of the premises. It took a while to realize that it had been Manta.
Both adults looked at each other with increasing uneasiness.
"That was Asakura's best friend, wasn't it?" Jiro asked warily.
"Yes," the nurse breathed apprehensively.
Briefly, they shared a look, then almost as one they turned and ran in search of the boy.
The anxious combination of tag and hide and seek that followed lead both adults to a park surrounded by trees. Shadows stretched ominously across the grounds as the moon crept higher into the sky.
"I can't find him," Jiro growled in frustration as he heard Nurse Li come up behind him, still scanning the darkened paths for any sign of either Asakura-kun or his best friend.
Li, slightly out of breath, raised her pager. "I got a message from the hospital. They've confirmed that Yoh-kun is missing, but no one saw him leaving the hospital. None of the guards saw him anywhere near the doors."
"But you're sure you saw him?" the man asked.
"Yes," Li nodded. "And Manta-kun ran out right after."
"Damn, where is he?" he growled in frustration.
A small figure stumbled from the tree line, managing a few steps before pitching helplessly forward.
"Is that... Yoh-kun!" the nurse cried in dismay as she ran to the fallen boy, carefully turning him over and examining his accumulated injuries. Several new cuts and bruises had been added to the collection and a fine sheen of feverish sweat dotted his skin.
Dark eyes slitted open as Yoh squinted fuzzily up at the old woman. Then, finally focusing on her face, he cracked a tired, quiet smile. "Li-san."
The woman drew a hissing breath, released it and whispered brokenly, "Oh, Yoh-kun... Jiro-san, we have to get him back to the hospital!" Li insisted, "Some of his stitches have burst. He's bleeding again. We're not too far away but I'll called an ambulance. I'd rather not aggravate his wounds any more than necessary."
"Alright," Jiro said tensely as he scanned their surroundings. Carefully, he bent down and tucked his jacket around the boy. All wrong, he thought with dismay as Asakura groaned, fists twitching convulsively in pain.
Hidden in the bushes not too far away, Manta breathed a sigh of relief, grateful for small favors despite his own frustration. He had managed to help his friend up and set him walking, but he had no hope of carrying Yoh on his own. Yoh would get help this way. Catching the worried eyes of the samurai spirit that hovered over his charge, Manta managed an encouraging smile.
Things would undoubtedly get complicated, but at the very least, Jiro hadn't moved to look around. Otherwise... otherwise he might have noticed the broken quan dao in the next clearing, blade gleaming dully in the moonlight. Otherwise he might have noticed the pole, cut cleanly in half, that Yoh had been using for a weapon. Otherwise, the police might have been called right away, fingerprints taken, and that couldn't be explained away no matter how good Yoh was at telling half-truths. The hasty wards Yoh had placed around the battle site wouldn't deter a determined investigator.
Hearing the fast-approaching sound of an ambulance, Manta swallowed and carefully crept back to clean up the "evidence".
Oh yes, thank goodness for small favors.
Author's Note: Weird. I wrote most of this chapter years ago and... I'm now living in room 302. Oo Yoh's room number. XD Eerie.
I realize the transitions are still rather abrupt. Sorry, I'm trying to get this out in one sitting 'cause I'd like to get back home before it gets too late and cold (I'm writing from the library's computer lab).
Anyway, my laptop broke, which means I can't read fanfic at my convenience now or watch anime on Youtube. Nor can I scan any artwork. TT So, with my main forms of entertainment unavailable, back to writing it is. You can thank providence or whatever for my return to fanficdom. ; ...I'm trying to sneak back in and avoid getting yelled at too much.