I apologize in advance if any of the characters seems to be a bit OC. Just remember that I have a reason for writing it this way.

Don't own shaman king; want it, but no dice.

He watched the stars, not really seeing them. As was often the case, his mind was elsewhere.

He still hadn't completely absorbed the bombshell that Hao had o so casually dropped on him: he was Hao's twin brother? How could that be, he hardly knew who he was ordinarily.

Was he the pathetic whiner (sometimes he disgusted even himself) who made obligatory moans and groans at Anna's training? Was he the always calm, always smiling lay about who's life's motto was that "everything will be alright"? Was he the powerful, focused and self-disciplined shaman he was during fights? Or was he simply Hao's brother, whose only claim to power lay through who he was born with, to be spit upon and hated for nothing that he'd done. A pale reflection of someone he'd thought he met only recently and could no longer be trusted because of it? He didn't know anymore.

It had hurt damn it when Choco had drawn back from him after learning. And it had also hurt when Lyserg had demanded le lend power to the X-Laws to "Atone" for the sin of being born at the same time as Hao.

He got up, automatically looking around the small camp to check for watchful eyes. Only Amidamaru was awake, and was dissuaded from following him with a small shake of the head. The samurai spirit had learned to not follow him when he wanted to be alone. Rounding a corner, he quickly went out of both seeing and hearing range of his friends.

Closing his eyes, he let his senses roam, mentally identifying every shaman and spirit for the next 5 miles. It was so easy now, where as before 5 miles was the extreme limit of his range, now he felt he could easily go far beyond that, easily identifying and cataloging each mental signature. Most of the ones he could sense were asleep, but a few were awake. Including, one that bore an eerie similarity to his own. The one he could just barely sense. 'Well, I know the reason for that now.' he thought uneasily. The mental exercise suddenly wasn't as relaxing as it once was. Overwhelming information buffeted his brain. Strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, dreams and plans, and strategies all swirled inside his brain, leached from over a thousand different shamans. Panting, he broke off the mental contact, but too late.

Franticly he tried to listen to the soothing call of the earth, but his emotions were too stirred up to hear it. He was lost; drowning in the flood of emotions that he normally kept bottled up behind his perpetually smiling mask. He usually kept them under tight control, now that control was shattered.

His knees hit the dirt as the knot holding his emotions back slipped another inch. His family had known he would meet up with Hao in the tournament, known he would find out the truth. They had known he would figure out that Hao was his brother, and still they had done nothing to even tell him of Hao's existence. It wasn't as if he was on close terms with his family, it was now obvious to him that for all their talk of him being raised as a tool to defeat his brother, they still blamed him for being born at the same time as Hao. Yet for all that you'd think they could at least tell him so he'd understand why they needed him to be their candidate for Shaman King.

Shit. It was raining. He was slipping. His emotional outbursts had always manifested themselves as a storm that was why he wore his mask all the time. He couldn't lose control here; this was flash flood country, and a canyon to boot. If he lost control here his friends wouldn't stand a chance, not even with the techniques that they'd used before when Hao deliberately melted a frozen river to cause a flood. He fell to hands and knees, clenching his jaw so hard it ached, as he tried to swallow his emotional storm.

Images began to flash through his mind, further undermining his control. 'Faust holding Manta hostage, and frightening the wits out of him.' 'Lyserg hurting Ren and HoroHoro in a misguided attempt to find friends.' 'Hao dropping his bombshell.' 'Mikihisa admitting that he had a twin he never knew about.' 'Chocolove's reaction' 'Lyserg's demand.' 'Ren's touchiness.' 'Amidamaru's stifling concern.' 'The hopeless feeling of not being able to protect his friends.' 'Confusion at why Hao seemed to be so interested in him.' 'The phony self-righteousness off the X-Laws. Their utter unconcern for human life.' 'Ren's destructive rampage.' 'Jun using Pailong as a puppet. 'En Tao's ruthlessness.' The images came faster and faster. Every instance, every emotion that he'd hid behind his mask, came rushing out at swamp him all at one. 'Irritation at Ren and HoroHoro's endless bickering.' 'Rage at Amidamaru's destroyed headstone.' 'Frustration at Tokagero possessing Ryu against his will.' 'Impatience at Tamao's endless stutter.' 'Resentment at shamen who used dirty tricks to destroy rivals and take them out of the tournament.' 'Anna's unreasonable training schedules.' 'Pilika's rudeness to his face.' 'The constant, unnoticed strain to keep the mask up, so nobody knows, nobody worries, and nobody gets hurt.' It was too much, it was too much, it was too much, itwastoomuchitwastoomuch

"Yoh." Hao's voice broke into his thoughts. "You can't keep doing this to yourself. It's not healthy for you, and it also inhibits you furyoku development."

"Go away." He gritted out, straining to keep it together. "I don't want anything to do with you."

"I can't go away. We're brothers. I'd be a poor brother if I didn't help my otouto to manage his emotions. Blow it out."

"I can't. I don't want to cause a flash flood that would kill everyone in the canyon."

Hao frowned. "I've never in all my lives been able to influence the weather with just my emotions." the fire shaman suddenly sat up straight. "Is that why you push your emotions down? How long have you been able to do this?"

"'bout 9 years now. Realized it after crying about the usual 'punishment' administered by the local bullies flooded my school."

"9 years." Hao muttered. "That would make it when I recovered my full strength in this lifetime. You've been suppressing your power all that time? Since we were four? Otouto, you have got to stop doing this to yourself."

"Stop it!!!" he was nearly screaming now, trembling with the effort of holding back a tidal wave of emotion. "Just leave me ALONE!!!!"

"If I left you alone, otouto, I wouldn't be able to do this." Hao snapped his fingers. "Go ahead and let go otouto. No, you won't kill anyone. I promise you."

"And why should I believe you?"

"Because otouto, now that your friends have experienced my book they just might be strong enough to qualify for my shaman kingdom. They just might prove to be an asset to me. And so, dear otouto, as a gift for you I'll spare them, for now. Now, LET GO!!!"

He let go.

The heavens erupted, forming a raging storm. Thunder roared, lightning flashed, the wind shrieked, the water surged, and the earth shook. Lost in the cacophony of elemental rage, a single human scream lent its voice to the fury around it. Unheard and unnoticed by all, yet in that scream a thousand miseries, taunts, slights, and hurts found their voice and their escape. It seemed to go on for hours, unending, but eventually it stopped. The elements calmed, the flood waters receded quickly to their normal beds, the wind died down, the earth becoming still, the storm clouds dissipating. He came to, panting, his body drained of energy. For long minutes he stayed that way, and when he looked up, Hao was gone.

Dawn was breaking when he came back to the camp, half afraid of what he would find. Everyone appeared to be shaken but unhurt. Well, that was the case at the moment, but from the way Ryu, Manta, and HoroHoro were going on, Anna and Ren looked like they were about to maim them. "Uh, hey guys," he called stepping into the middle of the fray. "What's happening?"

"Master!" Ryu pounced on him with joy, nearly squeezing the life out of him. "We were so worried about you. We were afraid you had gotten caught in the storm-."

"Whoa, whoa, slow down Ryu. What storm are you talking about?"

"I'm surprised you have to ask, Yoh. Last night a huge storm blew up out of nowhere! There was this huge flood that washed right over us, and the earth was shaking, and there were these huge storm clouds with thunder and lightning and the wind was just screaming something awful." Manta was babbling, almost tripping over his own tongue in his effort to explain it all.

"But weren't you washed away in the flood?"

"Actually," Ren interjected, "we were protected by a barrier spell very similar to Hao's. You remember the blizzard? Well a similar barrier formed over us just moments before the flood washed over us. That didn't stop some people from panicking however." Ren's scowl confirmed that Manta, HoroHoro, Ryu and Choco had been their usual selves under stress. "Anyway," Ren concluded, "that storm was definitely not natural."

"Ah, what makes you say that, Ren?"

"It's obvious. That storm came on too suddenly, too hard, and vanished too quickly and too completely to be natural. The ground isn't even wet anymore. Obviously a shaman with an affinity for weather was having a bit of fun with us last night." Ren finished matter-of-factly.

As the rest of the gang not so quietly went berserk over the news, he thought about both Ren's revelation and his conversation with Hao. It looked like the other shaman had kept his word or his implied word anyway. ' Of course, otouto, ' a thought that he instantly knew was not his said. ' I may be many things, but a liar isn't one of them. Everything that I tell you is the absolute truth. ' Somehow, that didn't comfort him that much.

"Alright. Lets get moving." Anna's brisk, no nonsense tones broke through his musings. Everyone moaned, but knew better than to argue with the icy blonde itako. They knew that any complaining would result in having to run 20 miles backwards, or worse.

As the whole group set off, Choco desperately running from Ren and HoroHoro after yet another horrible joke, he smiled. He was Asakura Yoh. Not Hao, not a reflection of the most powerful shaman in history, not his twin brother, himself. And as for last night...

And as for last night, 'Arigato, Nii-san.'

Again I apologize for any complaints about Yoh's character. I'm basing his experience and his mask on my own life. I'm very sensitive to noise, so I frequently get completely overloaded, and I just need to let it out. I added the storm to give Yoh a reason to have to hold it in. I also believe that not even Yoh can honestly go through what he does and not feel anything. Thus, the mask. Yoh's sensing powers? I made them up to give him a reason to be overloaded, and, I think he's more powerful than he lets on. Maybe he hides it because he doesn't want Anna jumping all over it, and doesn't want to appear different than any other shaman.