I don't own Shaman King and its characters.

Defeated

I had been sure there's nothing more to it but surprisingly, I felt something so foreign. It was something new.

Something I've never known existed.

"Hao-sama…" Opacho, a loyal disciple called out my name.

The flames crackled merrily as they continued to dance in a bonfire I managed to create with my power spirit.

Seems like the fire and I really are friends. We share the common emotion.

I am happy, too.

"Don't woory, Opacho…" I cast my little disciple a sideway glance before turning back to the fire. "Just let me here alone first. I've got some thinking to do." I lied. Partly.

"Yes, Hao-sama." The midget quickly obeyed my order.

There she was, walking along the deserts of America just to find him. To make him even stronger.

I smiled. If I were him, would she do the same? If I were Yoh and not Hao Asakura, the evil twin, would her treatment to me be as cold as now?

Everything about her fascinates me. She has the skills of a great itako, probably from the trainings of Kino Asakura. My grandmother.

But I believe she had achieved most of her strength by herself alone. I believe she is a strong woman.

Anna Kyouyama.

My twin's fiancée.

It had always been great whenever I see her impassive face look at me with the coldness she always makes me feel. That there isn't anything to welcome about me.

But then, something seems to be amiss.

Yes, she was indeed someone who had me charmed. She caught my attention the first time I laid my eyes on her.

From the golden locks that softly rested a few inches past her shoulders, her face lacking any emotion, her slender body that would make me think of how it will feel to be held against mine, add to that her incredible skill as an itako and the intelligence that surpasses even that of those older than her.

She intrigued me. It seems that one would drown beneath the depths of her cold, onyx eyes. Her violence towards other people was something I found attractive. Her boldness and fiery temper, so tempting. Her possessed strength and mind power, amazing. Her beautiful face was just a bonus.

And I realized only now that I had been continuously repeating my previous thoughts.

But then, she really is something.

What is it that drew me to her?

"Anna Kyouyama… Anna…" I whispered.

"The one who killed my shikigami…" I uttered loud enough for my disciples to hear. Everybody turned to look at me. "Is her." I ended while staring at her retreating figure with her companions.

"Interesting, isn't it?" I asked while turning to my men. Their ugly faces betrayed their filthy tongues.

"Yes, Hao-sama." was their reply.

"I would surely want to meet her…" I ignored their curious gazes and continued to watch her. "Personally." I added before disappearing together with the flame to see the powerful itako.

"They're almost here, Opacho." I told my companion as we sat above a boulder waiting for her group to come.

And yes, I can see her, alright. From the moment she stepped down the plane I have been watching her with full interest. And when I heard her remark about finding my brother, I can't help but seize the opportunity to talk to her.

"I can tour you around if you want. I know this place quite well."

She slowly turned to face me. In truth, I held my breath as her golden hair lightly swayed with the movement, all the more when her piercing eyes rested on mine.

I almost felt lost.

There was a gap of silence as I studied her reaction. I thought I read her eyes say 'Not in a million years'.

I was totally amused. But at the same time, I felt…

"You really are quite small." Was my attempt to tear my mind off her to focus on her midget companion instead.

"What! You could at least introduce yourself?" Yoh's friend, Oyamada Manta, if I remember right, answered.

"Hao-sama…" Opacho spoke from behind me, teary-eyed.

"Don't worry. You're smaller than him." I stated. It was rather foolish at how my disciple takes such things to heart.

"The Tcho Senjiryaketsu…" Anna Kyouyama's voice cut through my train of thoughts.

I focused my eyes on her lithe form just a couple of meters away from me.

"It's that difficult to give it to Yoh?" she continued nonchalantly, holding my ancient book before me.

A part ached the moment she mentioned my twin's name, much to my wonder. But being Hao Asakura, I was able to mask my emotions with a carefree smile.

So they really are determined to have me destroyed by no less than my twin.

"So…" I started saying, trying to keep the conversation as long as possible. "The Asakura are good. They found you to help him." I stole a glance at Yoh's little friend and noticed the surprise written allover his face.

"So that means it should be you." I continued, turning my eyes back to her. Her face doesn't change at all. "I really wanted to see you, Anna. The one that killed my shikigami."

It was funny, her companions' reactions. It was like I grew a third limb right before their very eyes. I, too, was surprised when I heard myself say such. It was like I opened my mouth and the words automatically came out.

The last sentence, being an addition to the preceding one…

I was caught off-guard.

I have spoken my true thoughts. Right before her.

Patiently, I waited for her to say something. Even a simple grunt would do. It would definitely be appreciated.

"I'm so honored… are you here now for revenge?" irony was easily detected. She was smiling sardonically. But it was enough to make me stop breathing for a while.

Pull. That was what I thought of doing. Pull myself.

"Revenge? Do I look like the type who seeks for revenge?" I realized just how ironic it was. I am the villain before them. Who would be insane enough to believe me?

"Actually, I respect you a lot." I felt it necessary to change the subject.

And I did.

"I really hope you will be able to give the Tcho Senjiryaketsu to Yoh as soon as possible."

"What do you mean?" the edge in her voice was too evident, enough to cut the boulder I was sitting at.

"The truth is, Yoh is too weak now." I studied each of them. Seeing the impatient look painted on her lovely face, I decided to explain matters.

"If he doesn't get stronger, he won't survive the remaining trials. But if he gets to master the Tcho Senjiryaketsu, he will become stronger than he ever has been…" her face remained unfazed as I continued to observe her.

A little more… just a little more.

"For Yoh, he has to become better in order for him to help me." I finally breathed what I really wanted from my twin.

My heart skipped two beats when I saw her walking towards me without any hesitation or fear in her blank eyes.

So hard to read.

"Why would Yoh help you? Anyway, I've had enough of this talk. Just show me where Yoh is."

She really amuses me. Yes, that I didn't notice I was already laughing.

So what was it that drew me to you?

"You are Asakura's fiancée." I uttered as I jumped down and landed just before her. That was when I had my first view of her at close range.

"I like you. Yoh and his friends are in the cave already so you better hurry and give Yoh the Tcho Senjiryaketsu…" I smiled at her as I continued, "Whenever you want help, I'll always be here for you, Anna."

"I told you… if you keep daydreaming…" I heard her saying. Her right arm slowly rose, an indication that she wanted to slap me.

Like I wanted her to…

I watched as her palm started for my face. Out of reflex, perhaps, I caught her wrist just in time to prevent a stinging sensation to be felt on my cheek.

I slammed my right hand to the boulder behind her and leaned closer to this itako.

I knew it was wrong… but I suddenly wished for time to freeze.

"I'm really interested in you. You are suited to be the shaman king's wife." I continued to admire her face that was just a few inches away from me. And yes, I was tempted to do something inappropriate for someone like me.

"You forgot something."

I was puzzled. What was she saying?

"I still have m left hand!" I seem to freeze with what she said, my mind unable to comprehend the series of events.

So unlikely of me.

And it was then that her other palm landed squarely on my cheek.

So… powerful.

"Hao-sama!" I hear OPacho's muffled cry.

"Of course, I'll be the shaman king' wife. Yoh will win for sure."

Her words were firm. She was serious. The stinging in my cheek seem to fade… only to be replaced by something even more painful.

I wonder what it was…

She broke free of my grasp, much to my dismay and turned on her heels. She walked towards the other direction and spoke to her companions,

"Come on let's go Tamao and Manta, we don't have time to lose."

She moved briskly without a single word to me. Like she really needed to…

Opacho approached me, clearly worried. But I would not die of a single slap, would I"

"Great. This feeling and boldness. She is the first to slap me besides my mom." I masked myself again.

It was always like this. I stood up and dusted my cloak. I watched her as she departed away from me.

Sadly.

Anna Kyouyama… the girl with exceptional character and being…

My mind wandered to the shaman tournament. Truly, not every shaman competing for the title stood a chance against me. What about Yoh?

He will grow stronger. That's for sure. But the shaman king's title wasn't really what I was fighting for.

And no matter how I think of it…

Even before the battle, I knew…

I already knew.

I had lost.

I shall never win.

In a battle to win her, Hao Asakura is already defeated by his other half. Because Anna Kyouyama,the itako that caught my very core already belonged to my twin brother.

"I have lost…" I murmured as I took my leave back to our quarters.

"Hao-sama…?" Opacho asked me again. I just smiled the usual way to put up a façade for my small disciple.

"Nothing, Opacho. I just wondered what we have for dinner." I replied as my eyes traveled to the distant horizon that was beautified by the transition of colors given by the setting sun, reminding me of a certain blonde itako named Anna Kyouyama.

fin

A/N: yawns too long, ne? anyway, sorry if Hao was very OOC. Anyway, this fic was partly based on the manga when anna and co. first met hao on the desert. (remember?) most of the dialogues were what the translator wrote (in my scanlation…) please r & r! arigatou!