H A N A B I
summary: Before they leave their normal life behind, Yoh decides to bring Anna to the summer festival. second in a series of three one-shots surrounding Yoh, Anna, and Hana.
A/N: It's been almost a year since I've finally had the inspiration to continue this mini-series. Or even write SK, for all that matters. I finally read the last volume of SK last month, hence why this plot of this fic took a slightly different turn than expected. This is not what happens in canon, so think of this as an AU.
disclaimer: I do not own Shaman King.
First Spring, now Summer, but I never post at the right times. Still, I now present to you, "Hanabi."
When she woke up, he was already gone from her side. She shivered, but instead of pulling her blankets closer to her, she pushed them away. Gingerly, she stood up, cradling her stomach instinctively. Even standing up was a chore in and of itself.
She left the empty bed behind her.
It didn't take long for her to find him. He was outside, dangling his legs over the deck, leaning backwards with his arms supporting him, gazing up at the wide, blue sky with not a cloud in sight. The sun was strong today, as was the norm of these long summer days, but it did nothing to thaw the cold silhouette that Yoh presented. His shadow stretched out behind him, unmoving and untouchable, like a stain that had already spread and could spread no more.
Her footsteps were light. He didn't turn around. He didn't move at all. She stopped behind him, feeling the warmth of the sun seep through her as she came out from under the shadows of the eaves.
Her eyes swept over their garden, which was really nothing more than the grass that spread out in front of the inn with a few trees and flowers planted here and there. In the corner, there was a well that was more for appearances than practical use. She hadn't touched the well in years, though sometimes she ordered Ryu to fetch water for her even though they did have running water in the inn. She just liked the idea of putting the well to use, as long as she wasn't the one doing the manual labor. Not using it would have been a waste.
Funbari Onsen. Their inn. Their pride. This sad little garden was part of it too. Ever since the final battle in Patch, Yoh had become withdrawn. Oh, he was still the lazy boy that she had known since childhood, drifting through life, taking things as they come, letting events run their course. But she could not deny that Yoh demonstrated a stubborn reluctance to do move on. Only through running the inn did Yoh show any passion whatsoever. But now--she touched her stomach gently---now both of them had something more to look forward to.
Or so she had thought. Her eyes snapped back to Yoh. Something was bothering him again. She'd glare and yell, demanding to know, but that didn't work anymore, not with this Yoh who was stuck, who couldn't go forward yet couldn't leave the past behind. Well, she still glared, but she found that silence, when it became unbearable, was the best incentive for someone to start talking, if only to fill in the silence.
She waited. And her rare bout of patience paid off.
His voice was so soft that she could have imagined it within the deafening silence.
"Anna," he repeated, his voice slightly stronger though still wavering.
Still, she waited, almost wincing when the baby kicked. Even the baby was urging his father to hurry up.
"Anna," he said a third time, as if he could continue no further than her name. "Anna." He repeated again and again, as if her name was the only thing between him and hysteria. "Anna..."
Finally, she wrapped her arms around him, stopping his onslaught of hysteria, embracing his coldness, sharing her warmth. He melted into her arms. But it was okay, because she was there to support him, as he had supported her years ago when she had been stuck in her cage of ice.
"Anna..." he whispered again, this time calmly.
She could feel his eyes closing, whether in resignation or relief she did not know.
She didn't have to ask who. There was only one person who could cause this kind of reaction in Yoh. The 'how' part of the story she did not fully understand. However, she did know that life as she knew it would never again be the same.
She could not let Yoh go alone, for she had a feeling he would not come back otherwise. She could not care for her child on the road, and she had a selfish wish for her child to grow up living at Funbari Onsen, the place where she felt most protected.
And so she decided...but it wasn't an easy decision.
"Let's go to the summer festival," suggested Yoh soon after he explained the dream he had, as if nothing were wrong. Yoh was, like usual, taking things as they came, holding his optimistic view that everything would fall into place, that nothing could go wrong.
"No," was her immediate response.
He frowned, tilting his head in a questioning manner. "Why not?"
"Too many people. Too crowded. Too disorienting. Too tiring. Too dirty. Need I go on?" she remarked disdainfully, unconsciously remembering the time when she could not control her power, when she was the victim of unwanted thoughts. Crowds only made it worse. Even though the power of hearing other people's thoughts was no longer plaguing her, she would never forget those days. Isolated yet not, trapped within a web of thoughts that were not her own, unable to trust anyone...that had been her pitiful life.
Yoh looked very, very disappointed.
Anna rolled her eyes. "And, aren't you forgetting that I'm due anytime soon? My back aches like crazy, my legs feel like they don't belong to me, and my pelvic hurts! Yoh, give me a massage."
As she felt his large hands expertly kneading her shoulders, her tenseness slowly ebbed away. With it went her cranky mood as well.
"You're right." She could feel his murmur against her neck. "I'm so stupid for forgetting about that. You should stay at home and rest. Take lots of naps and be as lazy as you want."
She tensed again immediately. The cicadas outside were annoyingly loud. Her hands clenched together, and she suddenly realized that she had to go to the bathroom again. Stupid pregnancy. She'd be damned if she was going to let something like this stop her from going out of the house. She had control over her pregnancy, not the other way around.
"Yoh, let's go."
Yoh blinked, bewildered Anna's sudden change of mind.
The call of the cicadas reminded her of the present, of Summer. The transient Spring was already gone, but the memory of the falling cherry blossoms that she had forced Yoh to admire mere months ago was still vivid in her mind. She wondered if Yoh wasn't trying to do something similar for her.
She had relented, though she was stubborn to show it.
Pregnant women weren't fit for wearing yukata, was her first thought when she stepped out of the inn. Especially pregnant women in their last trimester of pregnancy. The obi was a pain to wrap around herself when her arms could barely reach behind. She almost thanked Tamao when the girl had helped her tie the damn thing.
But she relished the softness of the cotton yukata, which, if she ignored the blasted obi, was actually not as stifling as she thought it'd be. It was light and airy, too colorful for her taste, though that didn't stop it from being one of the rare outfits that still fit her in her pregnancy. The wooden geta, however, she could have done without. It was hard enough walking in the restricting yukata. She had to go put herself on stilts.
When she stumbled, however, Yoh was always there. She glanced appraisingly at his dark yukata, one that she had skillfully made herself. She certainly had the right fashion sense.
But her outfit, on the other hand...
"I look ugly in this."
Yoh glanced at her unbelievingly. "But Anna, I think the color looks really nice on you," said Yoh, his hand entwined with hers. Their wooden geta clunked together as they crossed the bridge.
"What color? It's just a mismatch of colors! You can't even tell me what the color is except that it's colorful!" The more she thought about it, the more convinced she was that the yukata was downright ugly. It was making her look ugly too. "Besides, bright and colorful yukata are for little girls. And I'm not a little girl anymore."
She never was.
As they neared the main parts of the festival, the noises became louder. She rubbed her forehead absentmindedly. She let her hand drop when she realized what she was doing.
The noise was just noise. General chatter from among the crowd. One person talking to another, and that next person doing the same. One with the second, the second with the third. And on and on the cycle continued, until the chatter weaved together and was no longer distinguishable unless one strained to hear.
She felt Yoh squeeze her hand, giving her that brilliant smile of his. "What do you want to do first? Goldfish? Shooting? Or maybe food?" His eyes seemed to light up at that last word.
The crowd became more and more prominent, people milling about while others rushed here and there. The assortment of yukata that the people were wearing was dazzling. Multitudes of lanterns lit the cheerful road, lighting the path that was dedicated to festivity that night.
"I'd rather go somewhere less crowded," was her answer, her throat dry.
Yoh's stomach chose that time to announce that food was clearly the better choice. He didn't blush, but he did smile rather sheepishly.
"Festival food is awesome though. Can't we get some and then head over towards the stream over there where it's nice and quiet?"
"Out of your own money," she retorted. She felt a bit hungry herself, actually.
Yoh nodded eagerly. "Of course!"
They head towards one of the vendors, lead by their nose. When Yoh finished ordering, he frantically searched his sleeves. Anna had a bad feeling about his actions. And she was correct, as usual.
She didn't think he could look any more abashed than he was.
"Um, Anna...I can't find my wallet. Maybe I forgot it."
She scowled. "You're scrubbing the toilet when we get home."
With that, she paid the vendor and stomped on Yoh's foot as best as she could, given that she couldn't manage any large movements, as she headed away from the crowds toward the quiet stream.
They sat on a fairly large, cool stone next to the bridge. The stream below them was quietly trickling through its course, running between the rocks and pebbles. Anna leaned against Yoh, exhaustion coming over her.
Why had she ever decided to come to the blasted festival? It truly was too tiring for her and way too noisy. She even had to spend money out of her own pocket.
But festivals...held a special place in her heart.
She looked up at the very first fireworks of the night. It exploded into a million colors, the prominent red and yellow sparks spreading out from the center, filling the night sky with trails of light. The trails sizzled into nothingness, leaving only wisps of smoke behind. Boom. Another followed the same path into the sky, as yet another burst into those dazzling colors and then sizzled away.
"Hanabi, is it..." she whispered, feeling Yoh's warmth against her cotton yukata. She remembered the awful power that plagued her in the past, yet she also remembered Yoh, her Yoh, and how he had come for her, gallantly bringing her to the festival, albeit very much against her will. He had been blushing so hard and all of his thoughts were projected to her, but she had been surprised at how unafraid of her he was. And he...liked her. Found her cute. He had broken into her last defenses during a festival just like the one they were enjoying at the moment. Somewhat enjoying, in her case.
It wouldn't hurt reliving and cherishing a few old moments now and then. She hated that fireworks polluted the air and were so deafening. Humans were stupid in trying to capture the fleeting beauty that was Nature in producing something like fireworks. But because Yoh was next to her watching the same thing, she felt a smile spread over her face anyway as she settled back to enjoy the view.
At least, she tried to.
Maybe it was the booming fireworks providing a grand entrance or something equally egotistic, as expected of one carrying the Asakura name.
Her baby Hana decided then that it was time for him to come into the world.
Ohanami was Yoh's story. Hanabi was Anna's story. Last in the series is Hana's story, "Hanashi," which means...well, "story" actually. With that, we conclude this mini-series on the latest additions to the Asakura family. Please look forward to Hana's story, ne?