(Please read the final 'Ending Note' for important info)
Winter of Love
Author Note: (Rikku: Hello…)
Note: This fanfic will be written in the POV (point of view) of the OC, Miho.
Summary: Miho Sugiyama was an Itako who grew up in a small village along with two close friends, Anna and Yoh. Life was sweet and perfect, until the death of her mother occurred, turning everything upside down. Miho wanted nothing more than to break free from her father, who had completely changed after their loss. He pushed his expectations, more than pressuring her Itako studies; dead set on the thought of her marrying the Shaman King, and if not, one who was rich and strong, and most of all, worthy. It was evident, and all to clear to Miho - he was taking over her life and she couldn't fight against that.
However, this caused something to grow in the back of Miho's mind, making her doubt the life she was living… Something made her yearn for a new life, to disobey her father's wishes.
So she chose a different path; surrendering to the doubt in her mind, she chose to leave the Spirit life behind her at only age 12. Knowing her mother had died, and quite possibly, at the hands of a murderer, she felt that she needed to protect herself. In order to do so, she left her village to train in the martial arts and most importantly, to live a life of her own.
Five years had past in training. Now 17, Miho finally realized her actual strength. She was ready to return to the Spirit life that she had left long ago and reunite with old friends.
But when she finally meets with the friends she let go of, Miho finds herself face to face with a feeling unlike any other; something destructive yet fulfilling - love. How will she be able to meet up with Anna's Itako level, and fight off the regrets and darkness in her heart, when there's a road block she can't defeat...?
Pairings: HorohoroOC, YohAnna, possible RenPirika
Warnings/Disclaimer: I do not own Shaman King whatsoever, but I DO own Miho Sugiyama along with the other OCs later included. Warning for lots of fluff. xD
Winter of Love
Chapter 1: A New Beginning
My knees wobbled and my body trembled as I shifted my feet through the thick snow that lay on the ground. I stopped to adjust the strap on the bag that I shouldered. Tired of walking, I took a moment to admire the scenery. Snow began to fall at its heaviest, creating another layer on the hard cement ground of the city. But I couldn't help but admire this sort of weather. Winter wasn't the same in the empty, secluded areas I trained in than it was in the big city. Every building looked beautiful, all of them touched by a large amount of a blissfully white miracle. And all the people looked... happy. Each one chatting to another as they tugged on their thick layers of clothing, shielding their bodies from the icy cold wind. Oh, how I longed for this life…
I smiled as I reached my destination. It was a small shrine, but I knew it was the right place. I had visited Yohmai-sama a few days ago and he had told me the precise location to where his grandson was staying. And there I was. Finally civilized after the many years in those isolated 'no where's'.
But it was the right choice. Those days of loneliness were all worth it, if it meant I was well protected; a fine martial artist, able to provide herself with proper protection and security. I was living the life I so rightfully chose, a life that differed from the one my father had once been running.
I walked up the concrete steps and froze when I was but only one step closer to the door. I sighed as my stomach rumbled. I hadn't eaten since I left the last dojo I stayed in… Another sigh came along when I realized that Anna would be pretty upset, since I would be re-entering her and Yoh's lives after leaving them for so long. She would also be disappointed to know that I had completely failed as an Itako. I gripped my sheathed katana tightly. Yeah, I'll admit I was afraid; not only of facing the life I left, but of Anna's wrath.
I was hoping they would remember my lack of neatness, but just in case, I made sure I didn't look like a hobo off the streets. I brushed my bangs away from my eyes, and ran my fingers through my dark brown hair to rid it of small knots – which was actually somewhat difficult, considering that my hair is fairly long, ending inches above my waist.
I straightened my back as well, standing at a short height of 5'5 - which, combined with my skinny frame, made me appear about… 15 instead, 2 years younger than my original age.
I sucked back the oncoming tears, but wiped my large black eyes with my sleeve anyway. I didn't want to look like a softy... Anna and Yoh had always known me for my inability to cry. Next, I was sure to place that infamous smirk of mine on - just to show another sign of boldness.
I had bought a new set of clothes to better suit the city life using the money Yohmei-sensei had provided me with, and instead of sporting those old-fashioned Hakama's (that I had grown so used to in the course of five long years), I had slipped into an urban-friendly outfit. Dressed in a white collared shirt, a long black trench coat with a matching black kilt, and finally, nylons and dress shoes, I was quite satisfied with my choice of attire.
Lastly, I patted my bag to check if I had everything with me.
"Okay," I sighed. "I don't look like a hobo, I look like the old me... the one Anna and Yoh will be sure to recognize."
Taking a deep breath, I took that one step closer to the door, lifted an arm, formed my hand into a fist and was just about ready to knock the life out of that door until a couple of loud voices met with my ears, causing me to stop.
"It's imp-p-possible to sh-shovel all th-this s-s-snow!" I knew that stuttering voice as Yoh's. "E-especially in this weather!"
"Quit your whining and get back to work!" I recognized that demanding voice too. It was Anna, and from my assumption, she hadn't changed a bit.
It was then that I realized they were in the yard that separated the door in front of me from the actual shrine. A nostalgic feeling came across me and I wanted to cling to it, even if for only a minute or two. I softened my breathing as I planted my ear against the thick wood, in an attempt to eavesdrop.
"Ah! I love this weather! Winter always makes me so much stronger and ambitious!" an energetic voice came to my attention, making my brows furrow in wonder.
I leaned closer to the door. "Who is this guy?" I asked myself in a hushed whisper. "A new friend?"
"That's just superstitious!" Anna tone was thoroughly irritated. "A real Shaman wouldn't rely on the weather to help him!"
"Shaman!" I repeated, my breath caught in my throat. "What are they thinking? How could Anna and Yoh take in another Shaman when the tournament's just around the corner?" I could barely believe what I was hearing.
"Oi (Hey), loosen up Anna, I'm sure he was only joking." Judging by his voice, Yoh seemed calm and certain like always.
"Not exactly," there was that new voice again. "But anyways... how 'bout you help us out, Anna? Standing there and telling us what to do surely isn't as hard as all this shoveling."
'If this is the same Anna from before…' I began, unable to suppress a rising grin. 'Then she will more than likely retaliate…'
The loud echoing sound of metal clashing against a solid object was enough to silence the boy and give me the distinct feeling that I was right about my my prediction.
"You have no right to order me around! You should be grateful that I'm keeping you in hiding from that insane sister of yours!" Anna hollered, clearly unfinished with her rampage.
I heard Yoh laughing, and after that, silence followed. It was eerie, but comfortable, and for a moment, I remained stoned to my spot.
But I had a reason for being there, and because of that, I became aware of what I had to do. My smirk back in place, I folded my hands into a fist again and pounded against the door. I awaited an answer as excitement filled my body… I couldn't wait. I just couldn't wait.
"Uh... I'll get that, Anna," Yoh said, panting. I could barely hear his footsteps lightly tap against the ground as he took a few steps towards the other side of the door.
"Iie (no), I will." Anna muttered. "You continue shoveling."
I was quite taken aback my Anna's tone, and amidst my anxiety, I felt fear creep upon me. Praying under my breath, my legs went numb as the door slowly opened.
I expected Anna to get all wide-eyed and mad when she saw me, but instead, she merely... blinked. I couldn't find the perfect words to greet her with and I'm guessing she couldn't either. Silence treated the air and we just... stared at one another.
"Who is it Anna?" Yoh asked from behind her. I could barely see him since Anna had only opened a small fraction of the door; she was the only one with a clear view where I stood.
"Are you alright Anna?" the unfamiliar voice inquired.
The blonde hadn't said anything as yet.
Feeling disturbed by the awkward silence that had settled between Anna and I, I opened my mouth and blurted out a blunt, "Hi."
Anna still didn't speak; but deep within her eyes, I could see a rage of fire. 'Oh boy...' I thought to myself.
"Can I come in?" I asked, eager to get out of the cold. I was beginning to feel my toes sting with frostbite, even through the thick leather material of my shoes.
"Matte (Wait)..." Yoh mumbled, dumbfounded. "I know that voice..."
"A friend of yours?" the other shaman remarked.
"Yeah..." Yoh continued. "That's... that's..."
"It's Miho, you idiot. Miho Sugiyama." Anna finally spoke, turning to look directly at Yoh. "Don't tell me you forgot already."
He laughed again. "I guess I really did."
Anna opened her mouth and I knew what was coming wouldn't be very pleasant. "That's ok; we all tend to make mistakes…" I quickly interjected, saving my ears from another one of her fits. "Even the people you thought you could trust most…"
After that, I pretty much drifted away. I knew Anna understood what I meant since she didn't push the subject any farther.
I shifted my gaze until I finally came back down to reality and, with much effort, I smiled at the girl opposite of me. "Listen... Anna, I'm freezing. Can I please come in now?"
Anna nodded and stepped back, leaving me space to enter. She began to walk toward the shrine behind her, and I quickly followed suit. I found Yoh staring at me and the other boy eyeing me from head to toe.
I'll admit, at first he looked kind of... awkward. His face was cute and he was noticeably tall, but his spiky blue hair immediately grabbed my attention. Also, his clothes resembled those of the North and a small glint in his deep black eyes sent shivers down my back... Who was this guy?
"Uh… konnichi wa (hello)." I spoke, breaking yet another wall of silence. I turned to Yoh and bowed the way I had been taught to. "Asakura-san (Mr.Asakura)…" I then switched over to the other boy and bowed once more. "Sir."
I hated how being so proper and formal had grown on me; out of instinct, I had still continued the practice whenever in the presence of Shamans – all this courtesy of my father.
Despite the thoughts I had crammed into my brain at that moment – whether about the corny greeting I had just performed or about the mysterious blue-haired boy – I still remembered, right then and there, that I was home… with my best friend, and his soon-to-be wife, who was also a close friend of mine. More than ever, I missed the perfect life I was living ten years ago… before my mother died. Before my happiness was shattered.
Suddenly, Yoh chuckled quite loudly – pulling me out from my cloud of thoughts. "Asakura-san?" he repeated. "Miho, it hasn't been that long, has it?"
I smiled. "5 years, Yoh."
If Yoh's eyes weren't attached to his head, I'm sure they would have fallen out of their sockets that very minute. "Uwaaa…? Miho... sugoi (wow), where were you all this time?"
Slowly, I turned my head, feeling a loss of words… what was there to say, anyways? Anna and Yoh… they looked like the victims here. And I… appeared much like the bad guy. In a way, I abandoned them – not intentionally, but I still walked away from it all. I left without an explanation. Some friend I was.
"Excuse me… Miho – is it? Um… I-I don't think we've properly introduced ourselves to each other yet."
I looked back at the other shaman with a frown. "Oh… I'm sorry… I-"
"Who are you?" he cut in, catching me off guard with such an abrupt question.
"Baka (idiot)," Anna began, her tone fixated with outrage. "At least have enough decency to -"
"It's alright." I reassured the Itako, turning to face her. I put my hands up in defense. "It's not like he's doing anything wrong. It was my mistake for not acknowledging him." I then shifted myself to look properly at Yoh's friend. "My name is Miho Sugiyama. I'm a long time friend of Yoh and Anna and, just like her, I'm an Itako… although I'm currently studying Martial Arts instead."
"Ehhh!" The boy cried, a look of bewilderment clear on his face. "That's awesome! You must be really-"
"Martial Arts?" Yoh blinked, scratching the back of his head as he thought hard on the subject. "Since when? Is that what you left us to do?"
Shamefully, I nodded... I loved the Arts, but I was born an Itako and I betrayed that... in more ways than one, I was truly a failure. Although I had my reasons, and pretty much still believed in them, I wondered, for the first time in years… Was it really worth it?
"Oh, I almost forgot!" once more, the taller boy had spoke up, crashing my train of thought. "I'm HoroHoro… a shaman, and as you can tell, current resident here at Yoh and Anna's place."
"Nice meeting you." I replied as a smile enlightened my face, matching the friendly one on his. "If you don't mind me asking… is there… a specific reason why you're staying here?"
"I'm in hiding from my insane sister… plus the food's good here."
His response was so unusually straightforward, it was hard for me to stifle a laugh. "How very interesting."
Just then, Anna took a few steps forward and placed a strong hand on my shoulder. The familiar bossy, yet calm look was screened on her face. "You said you wanted to come in. Now are you coming or not?"
"Oh... my apologies." I chuckled nervously. I gave Yoh and HoroHoro a small wave as I walked towards the shrine with Anna, thinking up different ways of explaining my disappearance.
… I mean, who knew if they were even going to accept this cast-away anyways?
'It's like I'm meeting them for the first time.' I inwardly sighed, a frown falling upon my lips again. 'Five long years... I never thought I'd be in this situation… ever. But… I want to do this…
'I want to be part of their lives again.'
Rikku: Well... that's the first chapter... I have to say, re-writing it was a really good idea… considering how awful it was before.
A few more chaps to go before it's written to my satisfaction. Btw, I sincerely apologize for writing that mess long ago, and actually posting it up. This edition is much better… much, much better.
Dewa Mata! (Don't forget to review!)
NOTE: I hope you all did the math; since Miho left at age 12 and 5 years past, she's 17... making everyone else's age altered as well. HoroHoro is seventeen too, along with Yoh and Anna, while Ryou is a bit older (20 to be exact) and Tamao is 14 (The age difference may be less than it really is in Shaman King, but I didn't want her to be too young). For the other characters, you guys can figure it out for yourselves. Just add 4 years to their original ages and… Ta-Dah! ) (Btw, this does not mean this fic is an AU, I just changed the people's ages but no time has actually passed from the original Shaman King).
Ending Note: Oh, by the way, it is absolutely necessary to read this re-written chapter (if you already read this chapter before it was re-written, I'm afraid you must read it again) along with all the other chapters that will be re-done; as the newly added and/or changed events may affect the outcome of Winter of Love… not to mention, better explanations of the stuff that happens in the past 21 chapters will be provided as well.