UPDATE – June 24, 2009: Hello, and I bid you welcome to A Gift of Love, a Shaman King fanfic that I started way back on 2006, and is still in the process of being completed. This is a Ren/OC story, and while I know Takei seems to have chosen a canon character to be Ren's companion, this was started long before the Kang Zeng Bang edition of the manga was announced. With this in mind, there may be some contradictions in earlier chapters that couldn't be changed gracefully, though I make an effort to use Takei's newer material in later chapters. I have all the respect in the world for Hiroyuki Takei and the work of art that is Shaman King, but this is the story of Tao Ren and Xu Pin-Mei. Reviews and concrit are always appreciated. This fic is almost completed, and if you choose to, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have writing it.
Disclaimer: The anime/manga Shaman King and its characters were created by Hiroyuki Takei. All original characters made specifically for this fanfiction and any tie-in/spinoff pieces were created by Jezebel Parks.
A Gift of Love – Chapter One: The Worst Present Ever
Ren glared at the girl standing on the opposite side of the room, gritting his teeth. He had been so happy that morning, it being his 16th birthday, knowing that a celebration would be held for him. Of course the prospect of gifts had crossed his mind and excited him even more.
Yet here he was, about to lose himself in a feast of peach buns and milk, when his parents had announced that they had one last "gift" for him. He had hoped it was polish for his kwan dao or maybe even a new cape. It wasn't. They had pulled a girl out instead.
A man standing behind the girl pushed her forward, more into the light. From where he was, Ren could make out her ear-length black hair, as well as her clothes. She stood before him in a dark blue traditional orient blouse with three-quarter length sleeves and white fasteners. Simple tight shorts could be seen above her knees from under a short skirt the same color as her top. He wanted to spit.
The man, who he presumed was her father, must have expected her to continue moving forward, for he gave her another forceful push, allowing two long thin braids to come into view from under her hair. She looked back at him nervously and began taking small steps toward her recipient, not taking her eyes off the floor the whole time. Ren looked back at his parents, obviously annoyed.
"What is this?" he cried motioning to the girl before him.
His parents exchanged amused glances.
"That there, Ren, is your new fiancée," his mother said simply.
Ren's eyes widened, then went back to their cold stare. He turned back to the girl as her father nudged her forward again. She finally looked at Ren, giving him the first clear glimpse of her face. He quickly decided there was nothing especially beautiful about it. She wasn't ugly, but she wasn't a swan either. Her body contrasted with her face too greatly; her face was slightly round, whereas her body was thin.
His frown deepened. Her body is so skinny that I could snap her in half if I wanted to. She looks malnourished. He looked up as she took another step toward him.
"I am honored, Lord Ren," she said, bowing.
"This is Xu Pin-Mei," his father said. "She will be serving as your wife when you both become of age."
"What are you talking about?" Ren turned around, enraged. "I told you before that I may be part of this family, but I am going to walk my own path! I refuse to participate in this!"
"It has already been decided," his father replied. "You must carry on the shaman legacy of the Tao family and keep the blood pure, and that is why the engagement between you and Pin-Mei has been arranged."
His son looked back over at her. She had once again taken to looking at the ground with her hands folded in front of her. When she noticed his gaze she looked up again, her cheeks flushed. He knew that there was nothing he could do to get rid of the girl at this point in time, so he relented only so that he could finally have the birthday feast he had been looking forward to.
"Escort her to the dining room," his father commanded.
Ren again showed his disapproval of the situation, but the adults passed him, his fiancée only moving after her father had passed her. She stopped in front of him allowing him to notice that he was nearly a foot taller than her.
"I'll play along for now, but know that we are not getting married," he said coldly as he turned to walk into the dining hall. She followed and passed him as they entered.
"Of course not," she whispered. "Who'd want to marry an arrogant brute like you?"
By the time her words had registered in his head, she had already sat down next to the head of the table, the seat he would be sitting in. Part of him thought he had imagined it. She had acted so timid before. Blushing even. What happened?
He didn't take his eyes off of her as he took his seat. As they ate, they'd catch each other's eye, and she'd smile sweetly, making him even more confused.
As he finished a bottle of milk, he looked to the basket the other bottles were kept in. There was only one left. As he reached for it, a quick hand snatched it away. After staring at the empty basket for a few moments, his hand still outstretched, he looked up to see Pin-Mei taking the cap off. His rage built as she removed the inner covering, acting as if nothing had happened. With a shaking fist, he was about to yell at her when she handed him the bottle.
Again, he was frozen in mid-motion. She was smiling again. He was beginning to really hate that smile. From the corner of his eye, he noticed that the entire table was watching them.
"Darling, aren't they so cute? They're getting along already!" he heard his mother cry.
He was more puzzled than he had ever been in his sixteen years of living. He knew she was just trying to trick him, and he wasn't going to fall for it. He would be civil, but he would not be deceived by this girl.
When he had snapped back to reality, he saw that she had placed the bottle near his left hand, despite the fact that she was sitting on his right. Her face was red again. He just wanted this day to end, even if it was his birthday. He just wanted her to leave.
When dinner had ended, Pin-Mei rose and collected all the dishes, as well as Ren's empty milk bottles that had gathered around him, and put them near the sink to be washed.
At least she'll be leaving soon, he thought.
"We'll have to have a similar banquet when Pin-Mei's birthday arrives," his mother commented.
"Ah yes," En agreed. "When is that again?"
"Not until the twelfth of July," her father replied. "She will be fifteen at that time."
Fifteen! Ren thought. No wonder she acts so childish—she's a year and a half younger than me!
When she returned, their parents turned to them.
"Ren, darling, please take Pin-Mei up to her room."
Inside, Ren wanted to scream. She was STAYING here? For how long? Never mind that. Just why was she here at all? If he had to be engaged to someone, could they have at least picked someone his age? Or at least within his maturity bracket?
They went up the stairs in silence. He looked back to see her looking at her feet, a small smile on her face. How annoying.
"What are you smiling about?" he asked coldly.
"Nothing really," she replied as he opened the door to her room. "It's just nice to see you again, Niisama. Goodnight." She smiled as she closed the door.
Ren just stared at it. "Bason."
His spirit appeared next to him. "Yes, Bocchama?"
"Have you seen that girl before today?"
Ren smirked as he turned to walk toward his own room. "Enlighten me."