Digging through my hard-disk, I found a fair number of Shaman King, completely different in length, content and pairings and I thought it would be nice to present them in a group so I'll be updating this sporadically as I either find ones that I've already written or write new ones. First up, Horo-Horo and Tamao!

Title: Watercolours

Author: The Summer Stars

Rating: PG-13

Warnings: Slight spoiler for Episode Fifty – I have a darkness in my heart.

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Blue definitely is my favourite colour.

I've decided this after long consideration and contemplation during the strenuous exercise of threading my fingers through hair of that colour. Carefully, I brush one particularly errant strand off of creamy skin, unable to resist a smile as I feel the silken quality against my skin.

Trust him to be the lucky one. In the biting cold he swathes himself in, his skin remains liquid smooth, his hair retaining its glossy sheen. If I put the elemental pressures he puts to play on himself to my feeble body, there would be no doubt that my hair would turn as brittle as straw, my skin reddened and chapped from the nipping winds.

I always have preferred Spring over Winter: apart from the serene stillness the world gains when snow hides its imperfections, the rain, the mud and the chilling cold of the dark season is enough to send me scuttling back into my room, resolving to hibernate until green returns to carpet the earth. Winter brings sleep, everything entering a dormant state, but Spring blesses us with rejuvenation, the wakening of the dead and the rebirth of life.

My, I seem particularly poetic today and the Sun is barely up yet.

Smiling at my own folly, I return to the business at hand, exploring the essence of softness delicately with the tips of my fingers, not wishing to wake the slumbering youth. Not that the fact he adores the Winter season deters me. You can't have Spring without Winter to renew the energy drained by the long passage of the year.

If Spring is my element, then Winter is surely his and that pleases me to no end. The idea that the Spring in me cannot occur without the Winter in him has long since been a comfort me.

Yet it is odd that, with his specialised talents to freeze all that he touches, when he touches me, his skin is heated. Warm. Certainly not frigid, his caress is far from what you would expect considering the ice he can form from the very same fingertips which march teasingly across my skin.

But heated or frozen, his touch still makes me shiver.

A shift in motion draws me away from my thoughts on his powers over ice and over me. Looking down, I see his head has reversed positions, twisting on its axis to now face the other way. Of course, this now leaves me a new side of tousled hair to smooth down, the newly neatened side now undoubtedly being ruffled against my own chest.

He always has been possessive, a fact proved even in his sleep. Cheek pressed against my collar bone, his arm rests across my stomach, curling around to lightly brush my waist. As per normal, our legs are tangled together, leaving me unsure of where I end and he begins.

Fingers still playing idly with those wonderfully azure strands, never growing tired of their texture, their colour. Such a deep colour, I could readily become intoxicated by such a shade, as I become heady upon his features, his voice, his kisses…

Yes, blue is certainly my favourite colour.

But it wasn't always the case. It hasn't been long since another hue was the one which held me spellbound. Nothing could render me speechless like a pair of liquid brown eyes or hair of the same colour. Polished mahogany, such a warm colour had power over me and I had long since been drawn towards one who was the image of such a hue.

Sienna was, for me, the epitome of life itself. In nature, the colour is prominent; in plants, animals and even the rich earth itself is vibrant in, well, its brownness. The colour drew me to it and as such my poor eyes were unable to see the blue which hovered right under my nose.

But time corrected my ignorance and it soon became clear that blue was just as important in life as brown. It might not be as prominent, rarer, but all the more precious for its scarcity. How many true blue flowers do you see? Their beauty is made more by the fact there are fewer of them. Value added if you want to be clinical about it.

I still like brown. I just prefer blue now.

Spring over Winter, blue over brown – must be morning after syndrome. But talk about the night before…

It's still at the stage where it's awkward, fumbling, too close to the first time for it to be smooth. We're still getting to know each other physically, not that it makes what we share any more special. He'll crack some innuendo laced joke and I'll smile accordingly, but then there's a moment of unease, nervousness.

Like he has something to prove before our lips bump together clumsily, like moths batting softly into a light bulb. Drawn to it inexorably.

But, looking down at the sleeping man who is resting so peacefully on me, I know that his face has lost all the tension it holds during the day. No, not tension, his mask. Looking at this different side of him, it's a real insight into what makes my Shaman the way he is.

My Shaman. That's nice to say, isn't it? I suppose I can be as possessive as he is, I just don't show it. What you do and don't show – that's what makes a person, at least to the outside world.

And what does my Shaman show to the world? Isn't obvious? You can tell by that grin, that I'm-perfect-and-I-know-it smile he flashes at the world so often. His seeming arrogance which can rival that of Ren's and inane humour. The teasing, that plays a part as well, but what rules it all is his pride. His pride as a Shaman, his pride as an Ainu, his pride as a person.

But that's it, he isn't proud as a person. He isn't perfect or at least he doesn't think so. Inside, I can see it, he's wracked with insecurity. I didn't have suspicions, not until that fateful day when Nyorai supposedly 'enlightened' him to the darkness in his heart.

There is no darkness in him, that I know for sure, with all that I have in me. There is no hate or true resentment, there is only insecurity. It's unfounded, I've never been able to understand how he can even think that he is in anyway unsatisfactory. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, we all have those human faults, but he didn't have anymore than anyone else.

But he thought he did…in his own mind, being compared to those around him, wonderful people, but I think his main worry that he wasn't living up to the example that was Yoh. I think he feels about Yoh the way I do about Anna. They're both…perfect. To him, Yoh is his conqueror, the one who succeeded where he failed.

The fact that what I feel, felt for Yoh was there, that probably added to these feelings. To think that he might be feeling second best in my eyes, that causes me more anguish than you can know. I love my Shaman first and foremost, how can I let him know that?

But sleep takes that façade away and I can see his soul come to the surface, his face relaxed and peaceful.

Letting my hands leave his hair, I run the pad of my index finger down the side of his cheek, feeling the slight prick that indicated he needed to shave. Smiling to myself, I continue to explore his face with my fingertips, trying to feel what I normally see.

Tracing the arch of his nose before feeling the softness at the tip where cartilage ends, I feel him begin to stir and I pause, not wanting to wake him. It was a busy day yesterday and my Shaman needs his sleep.

Seeing him like this, it makes me realise how vulnerable he is. Still strong, but baring his weak spot, holding me tightly in his arms like I'm a tie to this world. I know I'm privileged, to be able to see him like this, to see a side of him he shows to no one else.

Here, he isn't HoroHoro, Ainu warrior, perfection in human form.

Here, he's my Shaman, a man with impossibly blue hair and a touch that can make me melt. Here, I hope he doesn't feel the need to have pretences, that he doesn't bring up his shields and block me out. It's still so new to be doing this, to be this close, bodies wrapped around each other as we sleep, breath warming the other's cheek in a silent gesture of yes, I am here, you are safe.

Once again I am pulled back to reality as I feel the arm across my stomach flex minutely, his fingers brushing over the rise of my hip and I squirm. Each encounter with him leaves my skin tingling with raw nerve endings and any movement is doubly sensitised. Seeing a smug smile flicker over his lips, I know that he's awake and trying to fool me.

Brushing my own fingers in a touch across that smiling mouth, I'm rewarded with a sliver of blue appearing in his face as he looks up towards me amusedly.

"Good morning," he says huskily, catching my hand and pressing it to his lips, skin dry on my own. Before he sits up, removing himself from my chest.

As discreetly as I can, I shift the coverlet on his bed upwards to cover the area where his torso had been, knowing that a predictable pink flush will be covering my cheeks. I suppose we may have our intimate moments, but it's all too new for me to be completely comfortable with our nakedness, particularly my own lack of clothes.

A knowing smile being his answer, he pushes some strand of hair off of my face, mirroring the actions I had performed on him earlier. "I love it when you do that…" he murmurs sleepily, "It's the same colour as your hair."

Of course, with such a sweet comment, I blush harder and he chuckles, flopping back down on the pillows with some difficulty. Since, at times, Anna seems to regard the both of us with a measure of contempt, neither of our rooms are particularly large or spacious, meaning that both of our beds are single and relatively small.

Edging over as much as I can to give him some space in the cramped bed, I let out a yelp when his strong arm encircles my waist and literally pulls me down onto his chest. My yelp subsides into embarrassed giggles, his own chuckles adding to the noise that breaks the early morning silence.

Soon, I'll be leaving his room as quietly as I came, hopefully avoiding any of the Inn's early risers by being the early bird. Not that there haven't been incidents. Hearing Horo try to explain to Ryu why he was outside of my room at three in the morning while I stood on the other side of the door with my heart pounding was hardly fun, though the adorable idiot did believe that yes, Horo had been sleepwalking. Then there was the time I'd run into Manta walking back from Horo's room. Suffice to say, the little man hadn't fallen for my ramblings and is one of the few people privy to our relationship.

Relationship. Just the word sounds scary. People break off relationships, people aren't ready for relationships – relationships never seem to work. I don't know how to put what my Shaman and I have together into context. I don't know if we're in love, whether we have 'feelings' for each other or whether we just happen to be sleeping together. I only know one thing. We are friends and we always will be. Well, fingers crossed at least – according to most people, sex really ruins a friendship.

I'm not so sure about that though – taking that one step that crosses between friendly and more-than-friendly hasn't changed much. During the day we're still together as we always are - we take our tongue lashings from Anna together, we eat together, well, I cook for him and he hoovers it up gratefully. What we had, have is special enough I hope that what we do when night hides us doesn't spoil it.

It makes it stronger.

Shifting until I'm comfortably pressed up to his lean chest, I let my eyes close halfway, watching my hand resting on his breastbone. Still watching, my fingers move down his torso, trying to get to know the warm skin on which I'm resting, trying to imprint every freckle, every dip, every single one of the scars that are testament to his prowess in battle.

My Shaman…

I look up to see a lazy grin on his face as I run my hand over a long line across his hip bone, probably a souvenir from an encounter with the wrong end of Ren's Kwan Dao, feeling ridged skin under my touch.

"Like what you see?" he asks teasingly, already knowing my far too reliable response. I blush at being caught admiring his body so openly, but a part of me sees this as a chance to reassure him on a personal level.

"Maybe..." I say softly, eager to get back to running my hands over his lean muscles. The months of training his sister puts him through hardly make him undesirable to look at.

But he's mine, remember? My Shaman!

"Just maybe?" he asks, that half outraged, half amused tone like music to my blissful ears. "You know I'm handsome, admit it."

"No, you're not handsome," I say softly and I watch as his eyes cloud with confusion, his jaw setting awkwardly. From the sudden slackness in the arm he has wrapped around my waist, I know that I've hurt him – I don't mean it like that! See – I'll make things better. "Handsome is boring." More confusion and I can't help, but smile slightly as self-acting fingertips trace the side of his face again. "Yoh is handsome, you…you are perfect."

I thought I'd done wrong mentioning Yoh and I wince, eyes closing momentarily. Foolish me, it just gives him another chance to surprise me. Unpredictable, that's my Shaman. With a swift movement, I find myself twisted, now pinned under the grip of strong hands. My arms now over my head, I squirm slightly, half-heartedly. If I had my choice, I'd stay here forever, our bodies pressed flush together like this. Because, as soon as one of us ventures outside that door, he stops being my Shaman and he becomes Horo once more. It's only here, in this moment that we are ever truly open with each other.

As cornflower eyes meet my own oddly hued ones, I shiver at the emotion I see in them. I've obviously done something right for once since he moves suddenly, hot lips finding their way to the curve of my neck. I gasp and you would to if you had felt the sparks which were sent wildly down the exposed layer of my skin, sizzling down to a deeper, untouched layer within me. Involuntarily, my eyes slip closed and it's all I can do to grip onto his lean shoulders with my own trembling hands. We may not have been physically close long, but experience at having to cheer me up on my dark days had blessed him with a knowledge of exactly where I'm sensitive. Except…before he used to tickle me there.

Now he kisses me and the change is startling, my stomach long since having fallen through space with that initial surprise. When I first met him, there was no one who was less successful with girls than him. He was brash and loudmouthed – not that that has changed – but he had his sweeter side. In the days when I was infatuated with a pair of smiling brown eyes, it was his awkward blue ones that would prompt me to shed tears on his jacket-covered shoulder.

We're older now – not much, but still enough to let us touch each other this way, even if I'm not sure how long it will last.

Is forever too much to ask? Actually, forget that – what have I done to deserve forever with him?

Quick footsteps outside his room cause us to freeze, previously relaxed muscles suddenly tensing up as we put into play our senses, desperately hoping that whomever it is outside will move on. Against our wishes, the footsteps halt and are then joined by another pair and inaudible voices penetrate the door of Horo's room. Our eyes meet and I sense regret and longing mixed with a heady blend of annoyance in those sea deep eyes as my Shaman sighs, sliding off me in search of some clothes.

Is love feeling an ache of loneliness when he takes his comforting touch away from me?

The voices outside increase in volume and as I watch Horo pull on some pants, I realize who they are – it's awfully early for Yoh to be up, though Ren normally rises at some early hour, about the same time as me actually. I must have been tired – by now, I should have had the morning meal prepared. I wince as I hear mentions of Horo and somehow I know what's coming next – you don't need to be a prophetess to know that we're about to get a nasty interruption.

There are times I wish my premonitions would be wrong…

"Hey Horo! You're late for training. You said you were going to…." Why does it have to be Yoh who enters first? Why? He falls silent, those beautiful mahogany eyes falling on me as I cringe on the bed, pulling the blanket up to my neck again before they turn to Horo who's looking belligerent. Some small voice inside of me sighs in exasperation, but a bigger voice is currently more focused on the fact that I'm naked. In front of Yoh. In his friend's bed – my friend's bed! Except that we're just supposed to be platonic friends.

Eeep…

"I swear to God, Ainu, if you don't hurry up…" Oh isn't that peachy – Ren comes in to join the party and the same silence that Yoh is holding falls upon him as well, not that Ren holds it very long. "So you're sleeping with the servants now, baka?"

I'm not surprised when Horo growls and lunges towards Ren, the shorter boy batting him away easily, but I can't help the blush that spreads across my cheeks. Vaguely, I can hear the two bickering, baiting one another, but my eyes are fixed on Yoh and suddenly I can feel the rush of blood in my chest, the rise and fall of my heartbeat drumming in my ears. Corporeal reality fades – all that's left is him and I and I'm the one burning with shame. It's hard to explain, but somehow, it's as if I feel guilty for being found like this. With Horo.

Which is ridiculous, absurdly so. Even in this little, isolated world of mine where it's just the two of us, there's nothing but gentle compassion in those liquid pools of melted mocha. Nothing. There's nothing there and part of me has always known this – the part of me that hasn't changed in all these years and still has a shred of wild, irrational hope.

That small, bittersweet part of my heart breaks there and then when I realize that it's satisfaction I can see in Yoh's eyes. He's happy that he's found me with Horo.

Horo…

With a guilty conscience, I jerk out of this painful reality I was sinking into, looking with flushed cheeks towards the person I…I…what? What do I feel for this blue haired Shaman? What would I find if I cleared through all the confusion and clouding within my disorientated heart?

The room has turned quiet, a deathly hush echoing louder than anything anyone could yell as I find my eyes meeting puzzled sapphire ones. His bickering with Ren having ended, the confusion and evident pain obvious before those starry irises darken defensively to a slate grey and I know I've done the unforgivable. To have been caught staring at his proverbial rival in the moment we were supposed to be proving that we were together was enough to make his tense mask slide with perfect practice into place. Something in my chest aches and I hide trembling hands in the folds of the bedspread that is my only covering, my world once more narrowing to a single person and this time it isn't Yoh that my soul revolved around.

"What's going on here?" Despite my own deranged world having a 'Private' sign hanging on its door, there is one person in the world who has the key to all entrances. With the entrance of the icy looking Itako, everyone snaps to attention, which in my case means I wince at my decided nakedness and hope she doesn't notice.

Anna notices everything.

Of course, considering the crowd already in my room, it was inevitable that people would have heard the insults Horo and Ren had been throwing at each other. Not only has the blonde Shaman Queen entered the room, but Pirika, Manta and Chocolove are following in her footsteps. Horo's sister looks shocked (can you blame her) and her questions ring unanswered through the air. Manta on the other hand merely looks embarrassed, but hardly shocked – my friend has long since known about us. At least he doesn't have to pretend anymore. And, of course, this cozy scene wouldn't be complete without our resident comedian making some sort of oddball joke, but I don't even hear it – it's Anna I'm more worried about…

Seriously, the temperature in this room drops about ten degrees – you can almost see the glacial look in her eyes bringing this room down to sub zero temperatures. I expect a cutting remark, something pointed about what we've clearly been doing or irritation at being lied to. Instead, Anna surprises me.

"I'm not paying any of you to waste your time hanging around jabbering," she says tartly and in that moment, I love Anna, simply because she didn't subject me to the shame of her tongue-lashing. Once again, it's Chocolove who opens his mouth and comments that Anna isn't actually paying them at all.

Eye flash and I know he's in trouble.

As the other's troop out, accompanied by the wails of our in-house comedian as he receives a trouncing from Anna, I look tentatively towards the one person who's still in the room and perhaps the one person I owe the most to.

"Well…that was interesting," he finally says, not looking at me as he searches around for a shirt, skin gleaming with a pearlescent shimmer in the early morning light. However small his room might be, facing eastwards gives it the most magnificent sunrises, despite the weather being murky. It's still that hazy stage between winter and spring where the earth hasn't quite made up her mind about what season she's going to.

Remembering my musings of the earlier hours, I smile slightly and receive a quizzical look from Horo in return as he pulls on a rumpled shirt from the night before (how it ended up on the windowsill, I don't know…)

"Did you mind?" I look up, confused as I meet those cornflower eyes of his and I realise that, once more, he has let his guard down, trusting me with his inner fears and that warms me more than a thankful glance from Yoh's eyes ever can. Still, I'm not quite sure what he's getting at and I frown slightly, looking questioningly at him. "Yoh." The answer is clipped and worried, tense hands fiddling with one of the buttons on his shirt as he attempts to do it up. "Did you mind him seeing us…you know…?" Obviously, he's embarrassed and his hand twitches, sending the small button tinkling cheerfully along the floor to rest between us, both of us watching it with an awkward intensity.

We're so alike really…

Suddenly, I smile, stretching down out of the bed to pick up the tiny, plastic round, twirling it between two fingers as I look back up at him. "No," I say softly, fingertips tracking the curved ridge running around the edge of the button, the four minute holes I'd need in a few minutes if I had my way. "I don't mind. Did you?"

A wry grin graces his features. "I didn't like Ren seeing you naked."

In the chuckles that follow, I know that everything's alright again, that we're still here, we're still strong and we're still together.

Once I've convinced him to take off the shirt again and I've dug out my sewing kit, I can still feel his eyes on me as I occupy myself with re-attaching the button to the garment. Somehow, I still haven't gotten around to putting some clothes on and somehow, I don't seem to mind. It's Horo I'm with, so it has to be alright and judging by the heated glances I can feel him sending me, he thinks that it's alright as well. There's a sort of peaceful domesticity in the room as we sit here quietly; me sewing and him watching me. There'll be questions of course, a barrage of them as soon as we leave that door, but for now, we're safe in our frame.

My Shaman – I'll never let him go.

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