Disclaimer: I do not own Shaman King

CHAPTER FOUR – Hello and Goodbye

"You shouldn't have done that. Stupid." Anna said as she rubbed alcohol into Ren's stinging shoulder.

"I had to. I promised Yoh I'd take care of you. I think that includes protecting you from yourself." he said, wincing slightly as she began to wrap gauze bandages around it.

"You're lucky it's not deep." she said.

"Hmph. I've had worse." he said.

"Are you going back to China, soon?" Anna asked.

"No. My life is here. I am going to continue to go to school here. I am going to watch out for you and make sure you don't try a stunt like that again. I am going to be there for you at the funeral, and I am going to prove your earlier statement wrong. Not everything is centered around Yoh. Why? Do you want me to go?" he asked.

"...No. I want someone to be here. I just thought..." she trailed off.

"You thought what? That I was like those shallow pricks downstairs who are leaving just because they don't have the courage to face the memories this place holds? That's bullshit." he growled.

"Ren... I... Thanks..." she said. He nodded, standing.

"Now I'm going to tell you what you will do. You will go down with me. You will look them in the eyes and show them you don't give a shit what they think of what you just did. You are going to take charge of this household like normal and you are going to go on with your life. If you need any help, I'll be one step behind you." he said, pulling her to her feet and leading her to the stairs.

"Now. Strong face. You can do it." he said. She nodded in understanding and they went down. They came into the kitchen, where the others had been whispering. They shut up and stared at her as the two entered the room. Anna hesitated for the slightest moment, glanced back at Ren, and then faced them, a cold glare that could freeze Hell pasted on her face.

"What are you lazy, freeloading slackers doing! Get to work! Tamao, fix dinner! Horo and Ryu, clean out the pool! I turn my back for one minute and you all stop working! Pip Squeak, scrub the floors! Move it!" she yelled, and everyone sprang into action.

"That's our Anna!" Manta groaned as he scrubbed. Ren just gave her an approving nod and went to do the chores he was always assigned.

!FUNERAL!

Ren stood beside Anna, a hand on her arm to show his support as she slowly stepped up to the open coffin and placed a single red rose in the hands of her beloved. He then put in his own flowers as the others did the same, he saw a few of them were crying, but he had no tears to shed.

The ceremony proceeded wordlessly, and he saw Anna's eyes filled with sorrow and love. Love that could only belong to Yoh. Yoh Asakura. His rival; his friend; and the keeper of Anna's heart. He had no tears left for Yoh. None left for Anna. He had seen too many deaths to shed pointless tears for those that would not come back.

They walked slowly to the Fubari Onsen, where the reception would take place. It seemed the whole world knew Yoh, and loved him. He captured the hearts of everyone he met with his lazy, laid-back attitude. Ren stood at Anna's side, helping her through her rough time, when he realized something.

She would never love him. He saw it in her eyes and he heard it in her voice. She would always belong to Yoh, and who was he to oppose that? The crowd eventually diminished and Anna went to her room to be alone. Ren stood at the door and knocked lightly.

"Anna. May I come in?" he asked.

"Sure." she sobbed, and he entered and went to her side.

"Anna. I'm sorry. I've been selfish. I love you, and that got in the way of your happiness. But I've realized something. If you love something, set it free, right? So I came to tell you that you can be free. You go to be with Yoh, because that will make you happy. Maybe someday I'll find somebody else that I can share that same love with. Go on, Anna, I'm not stopping you anymore." Ren said.

"You love me?" she asked, turning to him.

"Yes." he answered, a single tear making its way down his cheek.

"Thank you, Ren... Thank you." she whispered, as she gave him a tiny kiss on the cheek, then she took the knife and plunged it through her heart.

A few years later, Ren stood before Yoh's grave, where Anna was buried to his side. He put a single red rose on Yoh's grave, and then turned to Anna's. "Goodbye." he whispered, bringing the small bud briefly to his lips before placing it on the fresh dirt. He stood there for hours, though it felt like only minutes, before he felt a feminine hand grab his. He turned slightly to see his wife, Tamao, whom he loved very much.

"Dinner's ready." she said softly.

"I'll be there in a minute." he answered, turning back to the graves.

She left him there and he said the graves, "Well, I did it, Anna, Yoh. I found true love, and I will never forget what you taught me." Then he turned and went home to the Funbari Onsen, where his wife and their son were awaiting him with a hot dinner. But somewhere up in heaven, two people smiled down on him, and once again thanked him for bringing them back together forever.