Come back to me

-Len? Len? Len! Are you alright? Speak to me.

-Jun. I'm…I'm fine. I'm just fine.

-Come on, brother. We have to go. The Great Spirit is waiting for us. We're leaving. Leaving all the memories here. The good and the bad. Come, Len.

"Yes, I'm coming. And I'll never return. Ever again. I'm sorry, kioshii. I'm sorry."

- Len, what is bothering you? Asked the Great Spirit. He had become Len's protector Ghost, since Len had become Shaman King.

- Nothing, Spirit, absolutely nothing. How are things up north? And in the South? I heard that there are some shamans that think Hao is still with them.

- No reason to think about it now Len. They are taken care of. This is not what I am talking about. I'm asking you how are you feeling.

- I'm alright. Please, stop worrying so much. Isn't Jun enough? And Paylong? Now you have to ask. I'm fine. As fine as any killer is.

-Len, you are not a killer. I could not have merged with you if you had been. Stop self-pitying yourself.

But Len had long ago stopped listening to the Great Spirit. He was remembering some things from the not so distant past. 10 years have past since the Shaman King tournament. Ten long years in which he had been in Japan, instead of traveling all over the world, trying to right the wrongs of the world. Ten yeas that he had spent at the graves of his friends, friends that had died because of him, and by a lonely grave, that of his love, the love he had to kill aswell.

Only 2 months ago Jun had managed to tear him away. And, on that night he had really become the Shaman King.

FLASHBACK

Len was alone in the city of Dobie. He was walking, as he always did, after sunset. He was alone. Not even Bason was with him. He was alone. And, for the first time, he felt he was lonely. He looked at the stars and saw a shadow jumping over a building. He sensed it was not someone good, so he fell into battle stance, even though he didn't have Bason with him.

- Who is it? He asked.

- Why, Tao Len! You don't recognize me? I'm deeply hurt, came a soft voice from the shadows.

- Hao. What d you want?

- What do I want? I want…you.

And in an instant he had Len pinned against a wall. He leaned forward and brushed his lips against Len's. It was soft and full of passion at the same time.

That was how it all began. Len had tried to fight the feelings, first of lust, then of hatred against himself, then, in the end, the love he had begun feeling for his most hated enemy, the love he had for Hao.

Then came the final battle, the battle between Hao and Yoh. But little did they all know that Len, in his eagerness to have Hao and to prove his love for him, he had told him all the secrets, all the fighting skills, everything. And when Hao defeated Yoh, Len was overjoyed. Hao had told him that Yoh and the rest would never approve of their love. And Len was convinced he was right. But, as Hao reached to merge with the Great Spirit, he was attacked by the spirit. And a booming voice said: "Only a shaman who can feel love and has a pure heart can merge with me!" At that point, Len realized that Hao had never loved him, never had, and never will. He reached for the Great Spirit, merged and turned towards Hao.

- Well done, love. We made it. You are Shaman King. Now, here is what I want you to do…

- No, Hao. I have already done enough. I betrayed my friends, the only people that have ever accepted me, had ever helped me. Did you know that, even if it hadn't been their fight, they stayed with me and fought my uncle? They helped me more than would anyone. And I was foolish enough to think, even for a second, that you could want my welfare, that it was possible that you even loved me. But you have no feelings, Hao. Oh, sorry, you do have feelings. You feel hate. Hate towards humans and shamans who don't share your dream. To bad. I really loved you. And I still do, even if…

And a beam of light shot from his kwan-do, hitting Hao right in the heart and destroying all the evil inside, but also destroying Hao, taking away his capability to reincarnate.

That's when Tao Len became a killer, a murderer. That's when Tao Len forgot everything that is light and good in the world and he became only The Shaman King.

END FLASHBACK

He wasn't a compassionate leader, but he was just and he never, in 10 years, had done one single mistake. But he couldn't sleep at night. He always dreamt. He dreamt of Yoh, of Ryu, of Horo Horo and, of course, he dreamt of Hao. He remembered with vivid detail every night that he had spent in the other shaman's bed, every kiss, every caress, everything. But, most of all he remembered his betrayal. How he sacrificed his friends for…he had thought it had been love at the time. Now he knew it had only been sex. Perfect sex, but just that.

- Kami, how could I have been so blind? How did I let his happen? Why? he keeps asking himself, outloud.

- You know, Len, speaking to yourself is a sign of insanity. And I wouldn't want to think that the one that has been governing over the whole world for the last 10 years is becoming insane, came, out of nowhere, a soft voice, a voice that Len knew all to well, having heard it so many times, speaking, laughing, teasing and whispering words of caress, words that he, once, had mistaken for words of love. He heard, for the first time in the last 10 years, Hao's voice.

He turned around, half hoping, half prepared to see only thin air. And, as he did, he felt a soft breeze come and caress his cheek, just like the feather-kisses Hao used to give him after a long night. But, when he turned around he saw nothing.

- Why did I even bother? I knew it. He can't be back. He'll never be back. Or he will come back. He will come back to haunt me for the rest of my life. The rest of my immortal life that is.

- Again, I think that you are going insane, my love. Hasn't merging with the Great Spirit taught you anything? came the reply.

- It has. It taught me not to trust a ghost I cannot see. Why are you torturing me? asked Len. Who are you? Show yourself. I command you.

- Alright, alright. Calm down, love, calm down. Then he began laughing. I forgot how impatient you could be.

And, in a swirl of light, a ghost with long brown hair, a poncho and earrings bearing the star sign appeared.

- Are you happy now, love?

- You…you can't be. It's not true. You can't be. No. Leave. Please. If this a joke from one of the shamans from the south, then tell them that it won't work. Please, leave me alone. Isn't it enough that I have to get through the hours of the night without sleep, seeing his face. Now, I have to get through the day as well?

Then, Hao's ghost glided towards Len and, in one swift movement, he slapped him over the face. Hard. So hard that a red spot was already forming.

- You know, said Hao, I didn't come here all the way from Japan to hear you say that I'm not real. If you want, I can leave. But somehow, I don't think you want to. Do you?

- No, Len whispered. No, don't go. Even if I know that you are not Hao, I want you to stay a bit more. Please.

- Hmmm. For the remark that I'm not real I would slap you again. But I won't. And I'm staying a bit. At least until Yoh comes and drags me to paradise, the paradise hat I left to come and look for you. And you don't even think I'm real. You don't think I'm Hao.

Only then, at hearing Yoh's name, Len broke down. And, for the first time in all his years of trying to be as cold as stone, he began to cry. Hao glided close to him and held him in his arms. He held him close, he held onto him as if he would never let him go. When, in the end, Len calmed down, all that could be heard was his slow breathing. Len had fallen asleep in his love's arms.

DREAM

- No, Hao. I have already done enough. I betrayed my friends, the only people that have ever accepted me, had ever helped me. Did you know that, even if it hadn't been their fight, they stayed with me and fought my uncle? They helped me more than would anyone. And I was foolish enough to think, even for a second, that you could want my welfare, that it was possible that you even loved me. But you have no feelings, Hao. Oh, sorry, you do have feelings. You feel hate. Hate towards humans and shamans who don't share your dream. To bad. I really loved you. And I still do, even if…

And a beam of light shot from his kwan-do, hitting Hao right in the heart.

Hao began to slowly disintegrate. Len was watching as if in slow motion. He saw first a look of pure hatred in Hao's eyes, then, realization hit him, and his eyes became misty. He tried to gather all his strength, but he failed. He was fading away. Then just as he was nothing more than a silouhette on the sky, he mouthed three words.

END DREAM

Len woke up suddenly. He felt he was held, but he couldn't figure out who it was. He felt good, he felt warm, a feeling that he hadn't had for 10 years, since the last night he had spent with Hao. Then he remembered. Hao had returned as a ghost. And he had come to him.

- Hao? Are you here? Are you really here? This isn't a dream?

- No, love. It isn't. I'm here. And I'm staying. As long as you want me to.

- I want you forever besides me. Please say you'll stay forever.

- If that's what you really want. But you do remember that because of me…my brother and his friends are dead.

- Yes, I know. But it wasn't because of you. It was because of me.

- I pushed you to it. Now I know I have inflicted much damage on you and on this world.

At these words Len looked up in his lover's eyes.

- Alright. Who are you and what have you done with Hao? He would never speak like this.

- Love, it's me. Remember the beam of light that you shot through me? Well, it hurt like hell, but…it also washed away all the hatred that I have ever felt. And since this hate was the catalyst that always brought me back, losing it meant that I could no longer return.

- But you are here now. Even in your ghost form. How was it possible?

- Well, you know that a ghost cannot enter paradise with cares on it's soul. And my soul was almost torn apart that I had to leave you, that I had done what I had to my brother, that I, in one word, terrorized the entire earth. And believe me, it's not at all a nice feeling. So, for 9 and a half years I had stayed trapped in this world, condemned to not being able to revel myself to you or anybody. So, I stayed by your side. Every day and every minute. But I was not alone. Yoh had decided to stay by me. And together all was more bearable. He too had to stay hidden. And, half a year ago, all my sins of the last millennium had been erased because I had shown such determination to stay by your side. And because I suffered. I was free to go to paradise. Yoh was already there, having left a moment before. I decided that I wanted to see one more time. But, to my surprise, instead of finding you at my grave (at this, Hao gave a shrug) I only find a single rose, a single white rose. You had left. I was devastated. I couldn't return to paradise. Of course, I wished that you had continued with your life, but I was sad that I could not say good bye to you. So, I went in search of you. I guided myself by the trail of power of the Great Spirit. And, tonight, I found you. I'm so sorry for everything that you had to go through.

- I'm only glad that you are here with me. Even it is for only one night. Even though I want you to stay forever, now I know you cannot. Yoh and the others are waiting for you. And you know Yoh. He never minds his own business. He'll come looking for you.

But Hao was only half listening to Len's words. He was immersed in kissing him everywhere he could get his mouth on.

- We…mmmmmmmm….should…oh my god…we really…oh, Hao…shouldn't do…ohhhh….this, Len was saying in between kisses.

- You want me to stop? asked Hao teasingly. I could, you know.

- No! Don't stop. Please. Stay. Stay and make love to me all night.

- I will, love, I will. But first… Great Spirit, hear my plea. Give me human form again.

And, with a blinding flash of light, Hao was again his old self and Len was more than happy.

- If I had known that it was that easy…I would have asked for it sooner, smiled Len.

- Well, love, all you have to do is to know what to ask for.

The night passed far to quik for the two lovers.

In the morning, Len fel asleep.

DREAM

Hao was fading away. Then just as he was nothing more than a silouhette on the sky, he mouthed three words: "I LOVE YOU"

ED DREAM

Just at the same second, the real Hao whispered the same words in Len's ear, the words the Shaman King was hoping to hear for the last 10 years, the words that meant that he was not lonely anymore, that he had someone to love and to be loved by that person.

In his sleep he smiled and said: "I love you too, Hao"

THE END