Disclaimer: Shaman King is © Takei Hiroyuki, Shonen Jump, Viz, various Japanese companies, etc. This is a non-profit fanwork.

Breath

He stretched, walking through woods pale and hushed in the pre-dawn light. It had been a exhausting night and he had a few new scars to add to his collection because of it. The spirit had been more meddlesome than his lingering regrets merited, no matter that he had been up against someone who had once commanded the power of the Great Spirit. Some spirits simply did not know their place. Yoh made a strict mental note to himself to haunt something less idiotic than an abandoned chainsaw if he himself had to linger. Something like . . .

His thoughts ground to a gentle halt as he saw her standing by the riverside through the break in the trees.

Twelve buckets, he counted, wincing. Half of them were empty already. Even as he thought that, she poured another one over one shoulder, not even flinching at the cold. Her thin white robes clung wetly to her thin shoulders.

She was certainly not happy with him, to be purifying herself so thoroughly so early in the morning. But then, she had little reason to be happy - a new bride left to spend her nights alone for the past week.

Well, he thought in irritation, he was hardly any happier about the arrangement. He was exhausted, forced to eat cold leftovers, and when they were actually face-to-face she didn't speak to him - only glared. It wasn't exactly how he'd pictured their life together.

Glaring, yes, but not quite so much of it.

She emptied the eleventh bucket just as he emerged from the trees.

She turned to look at him, her breath hovering white and ghostly in the winter air.

He bent down and brushed her lips with his own.

An instant later he was icy, dripping wet. He smiled unrepentedly, taking no notice of the cold. For an instant that may or may not have existed, there might have been the glimmer of an answering smile. Then he backed nimbly away even as she had already half-filled the now-empty bucket.

She watched him go with only a little irritation at a morning's wasted effort.

His breath had been warm.