O - hana – mi
A little bit of Japanese culture: In the Spring, there is a time span of around two weeks or less when the sakura (or cherry blossoms) bloom. The Japanese usually take time off from work and go with friends and family to watch the sakura fall. The sakura signify transcendence and beauty, and how we must all cherish what we have because life is short-lived. (Flower viewing is a pretty important event in Japan.)
Summary: A few years after the Shaman Fight, Yoh becomes withdrawn. Anna, unable to stand Yoh's behavior, tries to persuade Yoh to sit under the sakura trees with her. Ends with the naming of their son. Yona one-shot
Note: First in a series of three one-shots
Disclaimer: I do not own Shaman King.
It's not Spring yet, but I present you, O-hana-mi.
He didn't know when it had become a tradition to avoid his friends when they wanted to go flower viewing. Every Spring, he made himself scarce. He always found reasons to disappear, despite how unreasonable they seemed to be. He supposed that his reluctance to go flower viewing hadn't been a big deal in the beginning. It could probably have been chalked up to his infamous laziness. But after he started making his excuses the first time around, he found that he couldn't back out of it.
The first year, he told Anna that he wasn't feeling well, so he was going to visit Faust while the group went flower viewing. He had expected Anna to berate him for daring to get sick on such an important day, but somehow, she had refrained from saying anything. He had just shrugged it off as being lucky.
The second year, he found that he couldn't use Faust as an excuse anymore. It wasn't that he was afraid of using the same reason again...but frankly, his friend was longer living in the same world. The cheerful necromancer had passed away with the most content smile ever adorning his face. Dying because of exhaustion had been a blessing for him, because in death he was truly able to reunite with Eliza. With Faust dead, he told Anna that his father had wanted to meet him instead. Anna had raised her eyebrow at that...since when did Mikihisa want to bond with his son? But she hadn't commented and just let him go his way.
The third year, he once again found he couldn't use his father as an excuse anymore either. Just like how Faust had passed away, Mikihisa had strangely undergone a similar fate. His father, who was undoubtedly a rather strong shaman and an optimistic man, had died by a normal car accident. No one had seen it coming. No one had thought that it would be that easy to kill an Asakura off.
The fourth year, he gave up on making excuses. He had contemplated telling Anna that he had to buy Bob's newest CD, or telling Anna that he had forgotten to wash the floor, but he doubted that Anna would accept those as valid excuses. So instead of making something up, he told her that he didn't feel like going.
Anna, strangely, left him alone. And he was glad that no one else had died.
The fifth year, he told Anna once again that he didn't feel like going. Since she had let him off the hook relatively easy the past few years, he had wrongly assumed that she would do the same thing this year. However, it seemed that being pregnant tended to change a person. A lot. This year, Anna was anything but patient with him, though maybe it was the five years of him being a jerk that had finally made her snap and not her pregnancy.
His very pregnant wife glared at him as she cradled her tummy.
"Asakura Yoh, I'm not taking "no" for an answer."
He felt as if the temperature of the room had suddenly dropped drastically. His friends, namely Ren and Horo Horo, watched their display warily. Tamao, Pirika, and Jun tried to continue packing their picnic as if nothing was wrong, but of course, they failed.
"But Anna, I can't...I can't go," he pleaded.
His wife of one-year maintained her glare.
"I told you. I won't take "no" for an answer. It's either you go, or we're over."
His eyes widened at her statement, and how her expression never changed. He could hear the murmurings of his friend in the background, which died away as quickly as they came.
How could she force him to do this? He couldn't go flower viewing!
He was afraid that he was going to break if he saw those sakura petals fall.
Flower viewing was just so...wrong.
But looking at his bristling wife, he knew that she was one who would go through with her words. If he didn't go, she truly would terminate their relationship. Even her being pregnant wouldn't stop her.
And so, he found himself getting off the car at the spot that they had picked to view the sakura. The moment he stepped off the car, he felt as if he was going to suffocate from the mobs of people there who were all trying to grab the best location. Festivity was clearly in the air as family members greeted each other and classmates enthusiastically waved their friends over. It was a bit too much for him to handle.
He almost didn't see Manta among the crowd, since he was just so short. They had sent him ahead to secure a spot for them as they finished packing the lunches. It was Manta's yells of "Over here!" that finally gave them the means to locate the short boy.
When they managed to squeeze their way over, Manta was surprised to see him there.
He just shrugged and helped Anna sit down on the tablecloth that Jun had spread on the ground for them. He then proceeded to sit down next to her, his eyes trained on the ground, the tablecloth, the basket...anywhere but at the sakura trees.
His friends tried to pretend that he wasn't ignoring them by bringing out the food. Pirika and Tamao quickly set the baskets down while Horo Horo dug in. He felt a nudge as Anna handed him an orange.
He took it without a word but didn't move to peel it. Instead, he left it besides him as he tried to force himself to look up.
It was now or never.
His breath caught in his throat as he watched one lone sakura petal drift down from the tree dotted with pink. He followed the petal's path, its twirling in the air, its struggle to stay afloat. But sadly, the petal eventually ended up limp on the ground.
He tasted his salty tears even before he knew that he had started crying. The tightly constrained emotions that he had kept locked up inside of him ever since the end of the Shaman Fight broke out of their dam, drowning him in misery, guilt, trepidation, and most of all, regret.
He had killed his brother with his very own hands. Never mind that he had done it for the good of the world. It didn't change the fact that he had been the one to kill him.
He tore his blurry gaze away from the sakura trees, instead staring at his hands with mute fascination.
He had tried to shut himself off from the outside world. Somehow, he couldn't help but feel that Faust and his father's death were his fault as well.
It was all his fault.
A gust of wind picked up. A girl squealed in delight before people hushed her.
Yoh glanced up once again through his blurry eyes and promptly forgot how to speak.
Millions of pink petals fluttered through the sky, creating a dance to the tune of a heavenly song. It was as if it were snowing petals, the gentle snow colored in a rosy pink, the fragrance delighting all those surrounding the trees. The petals continued falling and falling, drifting and drifting. A soft carpet of pink soon covered the ground.
He sighed, a strangled whisper leaving his lips.
"Why must death be so beautiful?"
A hand gently picked out a pink petal that had fallen into his hair.
"No, Yoh, it is life that is beautiful. Can't you see that the flowers, in the short amount of time that they live, have already given life their best shot? Even if life is short, we can live it to the fullest."
He turned towards his wife, slightly surprised at her words. He watched her twirl the fallen petal in her hand. She was never one to say poetic things out in the open...or such optimistic words either.
She tucked the petal behind her ear as she took his hand and placed it over her tummy.
"Can you feel him?"
He felt a rare sense of joy when he felt something kick against his hand.
"Don't give up on life Yoh. You still have so much more to live for."
He felt the tears coming again, but it wasn't because of cooped up frustration or regret. He saw that he still had his entire life in front of him. This was no time to be feeling regretful over the past. He couldn't afford to live in the past. What had he been doing these past few years anyway? He had almost wasted away.
He cried, this time tears of joy.
"Thank you Anna. For...everything."
A small smile adorned her face as Yoh suddenly realized all over again just how much he loved her. Sitting there amidst the fallen petals and cradling their soon-to-be-born baby, Asakura Anna was the woman of his dreams.
"What shall we name him?" asked Anna as she tucked a strand of her long, silky hair behind her ear next to the petal she still wore.
He blinked, his mind not entirely processing Anna's sudden question. "Him? Who?"
Anna rolled her eyes. "Silly Yoh! Him, of course!" She pointed at her belly.
He blushed. "Oh, him. Wait, how do you know it's a boy?"
She shrugged. "I just know, okay? So, what do you want to name him? It better not be some silly name like Bob or Joe or-"
Anna looked at him. "Hana?"
He nodded, glancing back at the dancing flower petals gracing the air with their presence.
He had been so reluctant to go to these "o hana mi" over the years, but it was flower viewing that finally brought him out of his misery.
A combination of the two names of the two most important people in his life.
"What do you think?" he asked finally.
She glanced back at the sakura trees, her eyes dancing.
"I thought I told you it'd be a boy?"
He shrugged. "Hana works for both, doesn't it?"
"Oh, I guess it's better than Bob or Joe."
He smiled, bringing her closer to him as they continued watching the dance of the sakura petals.
"Ne, Tamao, give me a hug too!" teased Horo Horo in the background.
"Baka oniichan! Be quiet!" yelled Pirika.
He ignored their teasing, instead briefly brushing his lips against the pink petal behind Anna's ear.
"Oh, Tamao, give me a kiss too!"
"Eto...shouldn't it be the other way around?"
A/N: (blinks) A rare...somewhat angsty romance from me. OOC Yoh? Well, it's the first in a series of three one-shots, so two more coming up. Next is "O-hana-bi," translated to "fireworks," in Anna's POV.
By the way, I'm not making up Faust and Mikihisa's death. They do die quite early after the series, according to the author of SK, though I'm not sure exactly when. It was just convenient for the plot of this story. (ducks from the Dangerous Objects chucked by readers)