Disclaimer: I do not own Shaman King

CHAPTER ONE – Love Forever

"Ren."

"It sounds too intimate."

"Now there comes the group combat, no matter how hard you try. It will be too rude... to win the game alone. It's better to obtain trust from your partners."

"Boring."

"Be serious!"

"What?"

"What is the trump card? Right... The trump card is an incredible thing, which serves as a two-stage media."

Ren's POV

I believe that is when it may have started. I thought about the fights a lot that night. Trust... to gain trust from them... I would have to trust them first. I do trust them... Right? I wouldn't travel with them if I didn't... Right? That night a deep, calming peace overwhelmed me, and somehow, in my heart, I knew it was right, and I knew what to do.

It felt so good to hear that my team respected me. I felt my spirit lift, as though a heavy weight had been lifted from my shoulders, when Horo Horo said I wasn't so bad. And it could only grow from there. I learned to respect Chocolove and Horo's power. This happened when Horo fought within Rainbow in the Dark, Team The Rest. Also when Chocolove defeated Tirade... I grew to take pride in my team.

When I saw that attack going toward Horo Horo I realized that over time I'd grown to love him. I died for him, and he brought me back. I still love him; sometimes so much it hurts.

It is now three years after the tournament, and my sixteenth birthday is coming up. I have vowed to myself to confess to him by midnight of that day... Of course, I'll have to come straight out with it, though. I tried to say so subtlety once, not long after I came back to life, but he is pretty thick.

Flash Back

"Horo? You okay? You've been quiet." I asked as the rest went ahead.

"It's just... Why? Why would you die for me?" he asked.

"You've been thinking about this a lot, haven't you? I couldn't very well let the most important member of my team die, now, could I?" I smiled.

"Important? I-I'm not. You're the most important member of the team. Team The Ren would not function properly without you, our leader." he murmured.

"Perhaps, but you want to know a secret? You're my right arm in the team. Without you, I would not function properly." I said, hoping he would realize.

"...Ren, thanks..." he said, and we continued on. I suppose that was my fault, really, but can you blame me for feeling a little disappointed?

Ren's POV

"Ren!" I jumped up, startled, as Jun yelled at me.

"What?" I asked, annoyed at the interruption from my reminisce.

"I said it's time to go shopping for Christmas presents... What were you thinking about?" she grinned slyly, a sure sign she's having slightly perverted thoughts.

"The past." I answered with a roll of my eyes.

"Must have been some memory. Maybe you should use the rest room before we go." she said, her grin turning into a wide smile as she pointed at my crotch.

"What the hell!" I yelled, blushing furiously as I looked down to see a particular bulge in my pants. As I ran down the hall to the bathroom, I heard her erupt into violent fits of giggles, saying something about how cute it was. She was still laughing when I came out, surely by now as red as a tomato.

"I-I see nothing funny about that!" I yelled as we headed out to the elevator.

"So... Who was it?" she asked evilly.

"Who was what?" I pretended not to know what she was talking about.

"Don't play dumb! Who were you thinking of that made your 'little friend' pay us a visit?" she asked again, and the people in the elevator gave her an odd look before hurrying out.

"Not so loud!" I hissed as I pushed the button, praying the conversation would be over soon as the heat once again rose to my cheeks. She giggled again.

"You are so cute when you blush!" she exclaimed.

"You're my sister, Jun. You shouldn't be thinking about stuff like that. Which brings me to ask why you were looking down there in the first place?" I said. She merely giggled again and we left for the mall. I was proud that she was no longer asking me who it was. We separated in the mall and I was relieved because I was planning a great surprise for Horo Horo. I was going to give him the best present ever, and today I had to pick up the supplies, and gifts for the others.

I got: Jun---large beauty kit. You---front row ticket to a concert and backstage pass. Manta---How to Grow and Inch Book. Anna---Big Book of Torture First Edition. Tamao---How to Get a Guy Book. Ryu---Lyserg's phone number and address. Lyserg---bodyguard. Chocolove---Big Joke Book. Pilika---same as Anna.

Jun spent the whole ride back trying to find out what I got her, but she stopped because when you try to get information out of someone who is happily daydreaming of the one they secretly desire, it takes all the fun out of it, especially when said person is me and ignoring you.

As soon as we got home, I rushed into my room to begin work on Horo's present. I stayed in my room all day, and when I finally finished, it was midnight. I got some milk from the fridge and noticed a note beside the phone. Curious, I read it.

Message to Ren from Horo. Time: eight o'clock. Just wanted to say hi and ask if you wanted to go on a walk but I guess you're busy in your room so I'll call you back some other time.

As I read, my heart sank. I had finished the gift and wrapped it for tomorrow, Christmas day, only to miss a day of being with him. I suddenly felt an intense pain surge up within me. I gasped and clutched at my chest, falling against the counter. My vision began to get fuzzy and my mind was swimming. I sank to the ground and felt my head spinning. I saw a brief flash of icy blue and heard someone calling me. I felt hands lifting me into strong arms before I allowed the darkness to take me.

Ren's Dream

"Pathetic. Weak. Humans are filthy. Destroy or be destroyed. They're blocking your judgment. A Tao cannot love. Sad. Kill them. Why are they all dead?" Words floated around me, mixing into a burning rush of memories. I looked around me and saw only black. No... It can't be... En can't bring me back here... Tanjen Hall. The root of all my pain and hate. I stood in the black, fear washing over me in waves. I took a faltering step forward and flames lit a path as I stumbled forward.

"Ren." That voice... It can't be. I stopped walking and stood there, petrified with fear.

"You have lost your way. A Tao cannot love. You must destroy this lust you have for the Ainu. Rid yourself of this distraction." I whirled around to see him, the real him, burning holes through me with a hard gaze.

"That's not true! I love him! It's not lust! I won't kill him!" I shouted, but the seeds of doubt were already spreading like wildfire. What if it is only lust?

"Then I will get rid of him for you." he said.

"No! I won't let you hurt him!" I yelled.

"You can't stop me. Now, kill him or I will... Kill him! Kill him!" the darkness returned, but his voice continued to repeat these two words, gaining volume until I could only scream.

Ren's POV

My eyes snapped open then squeezed shut at the sudden brightness and I continued to scream, not caring if the whole world could hear me. I felt a pair of strong arms encircle me and got frantic. I struggled against the grip like a madman, terrified beyond all measure.

"Ren! It's me! Stop!" I heard a familiar voice behind me. I obeyed and sat there, breathing shakily as I tried to calm down. I turned to see Horo Horo still holding me and I blushed.

"You okay?" he asked cautiously, slowly loosening his hold and pulling his arms away, but I stopped him. He looked surprised as I grabbed his arms and wrapped them around me. I snuggled closer, burying my face in his jacket, pulling him flush against me, desperate for a sense of security. His face softened and he tightened his hold into a warm embrace. I began to sob into his shoulder, unable to be strong any more. He whispered soothing words into my ear and I inadvertently shuddered. Suddenly, I pushed him away.

"Run, Horo." I said seriously.

"Huh?" he asked in confusion.

"Run! I'm going to kill you! Run!" I yelled at him.

"Kill me?" he echoed.

"Yes! My dream. He-He told me to kill you! I don't want to kill you! My father is going to make me kill you!" I began to ramble as panic and fear gripped my heart again.

"Ren!" he yelled to get my attention.

"It was only a dream. Just a nightmare. How long have you been having those kinds of dreams?" he asked.

"Forever. But! It was so real! I was in Tanjen Hall, and he told me to kill you or he would!" I said.

"Ren, you were just dreaming. I came to check on you 'cause Jun asked me to since you never left your room and she was busy. When I got here you collapsed from dehydration, that's all. But, why would he want me dead? Just me?" he raised an eyebrow.

"He said you were a distraction. He said I lust for you, that I can't love you. But I do. It can't be lust... right?" I spoke to myself without realizing it.

"Oh, shit! I-I-I got to go!" I yelled, running for the door, but a strong hand grabbed my wrist and turned me around. Before I could blink, soft, warm lips were swallowing mine and a hot tongue was caressing mine. We were both panting when he pulled away.

"Horo?" I asked.

"Aishiteru." he breathed. I stared at him a moment before pulling him down by his jacket for another kiss. He had me pinned to the wall and his hands soon flitted around my body. In no time he had both our shirts off and our chests pressed together. He pressed his thigh against the bulge in my pants, causing me to moan deeply into his mouth.

Deciding to take this to the bed, I reached down and began to massage his erection through his clothes, putting me in control as I led him to my king size bed. I pushed him down and undid his pants, removing them in one yank, his boxers following shortly after. Pleased with my work, I made my way down his body with my mouth, pausing to elicit gasps of pleasure with a light nip here or there.

Finally I took his member into my mouth, swallowing him whole. He moaned loudly and tangled his hands in my hair as I began to tease him. I pulled away and he whimpered at the loss of contact. I lay beside him and pulled him onto me. He grinned and kissed me lightly as he rid me of pants and boxers. He put three fingers into my mouth and I sucked them as he mimicked the pleasure he'd just received. The sensations running through my body were amazing; electricity shot through me with every touch.

Finally he went up to claim my mouth again and one of his digits entered me. When the second entered, I couldn't hold back the gasp of pain.

"You want to stop?" he asked. I shook my head and the last joined the first two. The pain quelled and he moved his fingers in scissoring motions as he kissed me. Soon they withdrew and he slid his organ into me to the hilt. I wasn't sure now if what I felt was painful pleasure or pleasurable pain, but I did know I wanted so much more. He moved within me and we created a rhythm, going faster and faster. We moved to an inner beat and I met him thrust for thrust.

"Harder! Faster!" I ordered, I always have liked it rough. He complied and I felt myself nearing completion. My nails dug into his back as we came together. He pulled out of me and collapsed to my side. I turned and wrapped my arms around him, snuggling close to the source of heat.

"Aishiteru, Horo-koi." I mumbled before drifting into peaceful sleep.

Horo's POV

I slowly blinked my eyes open, groaning as the crick in my neck. What a dream. Ren liking me and being the uke? Sometimes my mind gives me strange things to dream about.

Then I felt someone's arms were around my waist. I looked down to see a very naked Ren cuddled up to me. Our legs were tangled together and his head rested on my chest. He was smiling adorably with his hair matted sown a bit with sleep. I couldn't help but smile at the picture he made and I lightly brushed his bangs out of his eyes. I smiled, that is, until I noticed that I was naked too and we reeked of sex. I looked down to see the mess we'd made and my fear was confirmed. It was not a dream.

"Oh, shit." I said. Ren stirred against me and I looked down into sleepy tiger eyes.

"Good morning, koi. Sleep well?" he asked groggily with a peaceful smile.

"Er... Yeah... You?" I asked. He pulled me closer and grinned.

"Yeah, I dreamed of you." he told me, leaning up to kiss me. I felt myself blush and he chuckled.

"I thought I had dreamed it all... again." I said, snuggling up to him.

"Really? Well, I'm quite real. So... how do I compare with dream me?" he asked coyly.

"No comparison. You are so much better, because I get to wake up to it." I told him.

"Wanna go shower?" he asked, getting out of bed. I followed him down the hall and he ran warm water. He stepped in, pulling me after him. Once in, he pinned me to the wall and kissed me passionately. Water poured around us and dripped from our hair. He looked strange with his hair down to his shoulders.

"I knew your tongari was fake." I said, lifting one of his purple tresses to examine it.

"It's not. My hair is naturally spiked like that, but the water weighs it down. When it dries it'll be normal again." he explained between kisses.

"Wonder what it'll look like if it's wet when it does that mutant growth thing." I said.

"Well, your hair is different, too." he pointed out.

"True." I said. My blue mane was fallen around me into limp spikes. I leaned down and kissed him one more time before we stepped out and dried off. He wrapped a towel around his waist and padded down the hall toward the kitchen, another towel drying his hair. Just as he said, his hair began to form a tongari again, though water still dripped down. I followed, a towel about my waist as well, until I saw Jun sitting in the kitchen. Ren acted completely natural and waltzed in like he owned the place, which, technically, I guess he did.

"Good morning, Ren" she smiled warmly, not noticing me in the hall.

"Morning nee-san." he smiled back as he got some milk from the fridge.

"Well, there's a new sight. You're actually smiling. What put you in such a good mood... Christmas?" she asked.

"No actually." he said, taking a sip.

"Then what?" she asked.

"Three guesses." he said.

"Okay... A hentai dream!" she said.

"Uhh...no..." he said, giving her an odd look.

"Another visit from your 'friend!'" she exclaimed.

"N-No! What's wrong with you!" he yelled, turning crimson and glancing ever so slightly at me. Too bad for him, she saw and turned to see me in only a towel, a blush creeping across my cheeks.

"Oh...Oh!" she said, her face turning strawberry pink as she realized what made Ren so happy.

"So... you two...?" she said questioningly. I nodded and walked over to place my arms around his waist. She giggled.

"Good for you, then!" she said with a wink. Ren turned a deeper shade of red.

"Ren-koi, has anyone ever told you how cute you are when you blush?" I asked him.

"Only nee-san." he sighed and leaned into me, deciding to give up the tough act.

"Awww... you two are so perfect for each other... Such a cute couple... I take it he's the one you daydream about?" she directed the question to Ren. I turned to him.

"Oh, do you, now?" I said mischievously.

"O-Of course not!" he denied, pushing me away and bracing himself against the counter.

I moved behind him and snaked my arms around him to pull him against me, resting my head on his shoulder as I whispered in his ear, "Oh... That's too bad; I find it kind of... sexy..."

He moaned at the last word and turned around to face me. He licked his lips and said, "You know, it's kind of hot in here." He wrapped his arms around my neck.

I gulped, "How hot?"

"Extra crispy." he said and my mouth watered. My lips came crashing down to his as we kissed fiercely.

"I'm gonna leave now..." Jun said with wide eyes as she backed out of the apartment. I pulled away once she was gone.

"Not bad, are we, Ren?" I smiled my amusement.

"What say we turn that practical joke real?" he asked.

"Race you to your room." I said.

Ren's POV

Wow. One word to describe it all. Wow. After we finished up in my room, we went at it again in the shower. Afterwards we changed into our clothes, Horo insisting that I wear my battle gear. He claimed that I look hotter in it than in my school clothes, so I obliged. Now we are at the Asakura residence with tons of presents surrounding us.

We had promised to save each other's for last, so now I had: Yoh---New upgraded kwan dao. Anna---shared Yoh's gift. Manta---Kung Fu Book. Tamao---Weapon polish. Ryu---more weapon polish. Lyserg---MORE weapon polish. Faust---a free appointment at his clinic. Chocolove---Yes, even more weapon polish. Pilika---black shirt. Jun---complete traditional Chinese outfit sewn by Jun herself. Finally, the moment of truth arrived. No one yet knew of our relationship but Jun. We planned to announce it formally after presents.

"Go on, Ren! Open it!" Horo bounced excitedly to my right. He and I were the last presents left, so everyone watched expectantly as I ripped it open.

I carefully lifted out a delicate ice sculpture from the paper. Its intricate design was astounding. It was me. There I stood in all my glory, my kwan dao still in oversoul in my hand, though the tip was resting on the ground. It was about two feet tall and so painstakingly carved, every detail was clearly visible.

"Horo...you... made this?" I felt myself choking up as I set it back down.

"Yeah... Don't you like it?" he asked.

"I-I-Of course I love it!" I said, flinging myself into his embrace as tears stung my eyes.

"Please don't cry..." he said, wiping away the crystalline drops.

"How can I not? I'm so happy!" I sniffed.

"Uhh... guys, I'm not feeling that comfortable with your position." Manta said awkwardly. I pulled away and turned to them, my eyes still glistening with tears.

"I guess it can't be avoided. We were planning to tell you after gifts, but we've been in a romantic relationship since last night, which should explain why he never went home last night, Pilika, and now we are officially a couple." I stated simply, trying desperately to keep the straight face Horo had lost since my comment. The reason? Pilika and Manta were both face down on the floor unconscious. Finally I gave in and fell on the floor in a fit of laughter, pointing at them. Chocolove pouted.

"He finally truly laughs hysterically, and it's all because two people fainted." he grumbled. Everyone else was now laughing, and nobody really minded. We waited for the two to awaken to find their reactions.

Manta got up first, and found it extremely difficult not to stutter, then muttered something about his poor, innocent, young mind never recovering or something like that. When Pilika woke up, she turned green, went to the bathroom to throw up, and when she came back said she was fine, but yelled at Horo half-heartedly for sex before marriage. Some people have strange minds. In any case, it was now Horo's turn to open my present.

He opened it eagerly and came face to face with a brand new snowboard. But not just any snowboard, no, it was hand painted by yours truly with icy blue designs, some Ainu I looked up and some Chinese, and on the top had a blue koro pokkuru/angel thing. He looked up at me quizzically.

"Why is it made so weird? I've never seen a board like this." he said, examining the extra features. I smiled.

"Well, let's just say I added a few things that'll make her one of a kind on the snow." I said secretively.

"Good thing there's some fresh powder out, then. C'mon, let's try this baby out!" he said, and I followed him out. We spent all day out on the hills, me trying to teach him how to use all of the details, him pretending not to understand so that I'll stay on the board with him. Not that I minded in the least.

That night, Pilika insisted Horo go home, so I walked back to my apartment alone, glad to have some time to think. Jun was running late at work as usual. She now worked as a high-powered corporate business woman, so she worked over-time a lot, generally not getting in until after midnight.

I sighed as I walked through the snowy drifts. The sparkling white reminded me of Horo, and I realized I missed his arms around me. We hadn't even been apart for three hours yet, and already I felt the effects. I shivered and pulled my black coat tighter around me, something was wrong, I felt it in the air.

All the presents had been left at Yoh's house for the day, so my kwan dao was not with me. I felt the hair on the back of my neck rise and felt strangely vulnerable without my weapon. My hand twitched to hold something even slightly resembling its comfortable grip, but closed on nothing but air.

"Bason." I whispered, needing reassurance. Nothing.

"Bason." I called louder, but still no sign of my spirit.

"Bason! I command you to appear!" I yelled. Still only silence greeted me. I was now bordering on hyperventilation when a fist landed square on my jaw out of nowhere. I went fling through the air and hit a wall. I glared up at my assailant, to find a gang surrounding me.

"My, my, my, look what we have here." the leader said, taking a step towards me.

"Get away from me." I said, my voice remaining strong.

"I don't think I will. You're a pretty thing, now, aren't you? I think I want to have some fun." he said, taking another step. I stepped back warily, taking a stance, prepared to fight without my typical weapon. I landed a jab and a kick before they slammed me against the wall, holding me there. The leader stepped up to me and raised a hand to cup my chin.

"Don't touch me!" I spat and bit his hand as hard as I could. He cried out in pain and slammed his fist into my gut. I gasped for breath as the wind was knocked out of me. and my feet fell out from under me as he kicked them. I fought with all my energy, but nothing I did could change the fact that I was outnumbered and without my weapon or spirit.

"Bason. Where are you?" I asked, looking at the sky. Another fist landed on my stomach and I spat out a mixture of blood and vomit. I sank to my knees, ready to give up, but when I closed my eyes I saw Horo's face, and I forced myself up onto my feet.

"Still not enough, bitch?" the leader asked.

"There will never be enough beating while I am still conscious to make me give up. Not when I have Horo Horo." I said, wiping blood from my mouth with my arm. I flew into a frenzy of attacks, quickly eliminating all opponents but the leader. I stood there, breathing heavily on shaky feet, glaring at him like he was the devil himself.

"What the hell? You were almost unconscious from overexertion! How did you?" he stuttered, falling backwards with fear in his eyes.

"Ha! What foolish words you say! I am Tao Ren! You would do well to remember it!" I yelled, and he stumbled away as fast as he could. I began to stumble home, hoping to have enough strength left to get there, but I fell after only two steps. I closed my eyes and waited for the impact, but it never came. Instead, familiar arms grabbed me up and settled me into a sitting position on the sidewalk.

"Ren? What happened?" Horo's concerned eyes raked my body up and down, noting my split lip, ripped clothes, scratches, bruises, and black eye. I looked up and smiled peacefully, my mind growing fainter, as though I were drunk.

"Gang attacked me. I'm fine, though, see? Fine..." I said dreamily and lapsed into unconsciousness.