A/N: This is the final chapter of this fic, short as it is. I'm perfectly satisfied with it – and I hope you are as well. Given the fact that the manga (which I finished reading, it was cool) ends in a very open manner, I wanted to leave room for speculation here. So you can all make your theories as to what happened between chapters three and four. This is an epilogue of sorts, just like the manga has with the short story that follows.
Warning – just in case, I raised the rating for this chapter. It doesn't contain violence or sexual content, only implications of the latter. Still, better safe than sorry, right?
Now that you're all eager to read it, I won't keep you with any more rambling – but I might write more Hao x Anna in the future, though probably not too soon.
Anyway, thank you for reading, please review if you have the time and, above all, enjoy.
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She hated being called that. Somehow, she disliked the otherwise respectful way of addressing one's mother. Even when the precious golden-haired child who spoke it was her own.
"Okaa-san, look, I can do it, I can use the leaf shikigami!"
"I see it, Hana. But don't take your playthings into the house or you'll be cleaning the mess you make."
Six-year-old Asakura Hana stopped dead in his tracks, eyes wide, and immediately turned around and ran back out the way he came. Despite his frail, young age, Hana knew that his mother was one scary lady. Friend or foe, acquaintance or lifelong nemesis, she treated all with the same manner that would make hell freeze over, if it ever had the misfortune of allowing her to enter it.
But okaa-san was pretty, beautiful, even, and many didn't realize that this iciness was more of a protective barrier than real hatred or meanness.
After all, there was nothing and no one that would harm them now, if they wouldn't allow it themselves – and okaa-san wouldn't allow it, for certain.
She was the pinnacle of a modern yet conservative Japanese woman, the type that quietly dominated her husband while secretly plotting the demise of her enemies, though she still upheld a certain air of traditional eastern female submissiveness. Her long, unusually colored hair now fell down to her waist, perfectly straight and glittering like a stream of golden silk. She wore almost exclusively black – that had disturbed Hana a bit before he understood that okaa-san only dressed up when otou-san told her she would look splendid in something or asked her to.
It wasn't that unusual that his otou-san was his idol – after all, there was much to look up to in his otou-san. But apart from the qualities a boy might admire in an ordinary parent, there were many other things to love about otou-san, a lot to learn from him.
He was the Shaman King, after all.
Hana didn't understand it fully yet, but he himself had begun training with Ponchi and Konchi, two of the many spirits that resided within their home (a kitsune and a tanuki) and was slowly learning to control his newfound abilities. What he understood was that both okaa and otou were masters of these abilities and each possessed tremendous power and skill, despite their relatively young age. After all, in Japanese culture, they were barely adults themselves – just over twenty one.
Okaa maintained order among the local spirits thanks to her own shikigami – and Hana had marveled when he had first seen them. Of course, he had seen guardian spirits before, but the enormous demi-gods that obeyed okaa-san´s every word, one blue, one red, were frightening and magnificent… and extremely powerful, he had learned. Along with that, okaa-san often talked with other spirits and summoned whatever spirit otou needed to speak with at times.
And otou-san himself… now that was a marvel beyond belief. The Great Spirit, the King of Spirits, was his to command, though he respected the spirit greatly and sought its wisdom often. But the destructive and creative power otou possessed was almost beyond measurement, certainly beyond comprehension.
But despite their opposing personalities, Hana knew that okaa loved otou fiercely, unconditionally, though she didn't always show it and slapped him at times and that otou worshipped the ground okaa walked on, despite his regular teasing of her.
Hana sighed as he kicked playfully at a stone nearby. Both of his parents were probably the most powerful shamans he would ever encounter. Scratch the "probably". And he wanted to be as useful and as powerful as they were.
"Time and training, Hana." A pleasant lyric baritone voice floated into the boy's ears. "That's all it takes." A warm, boyish smile. "You'll be a great shaman one day."
"You're back, otou!" this time, Hana didn't hesitate to launch himself into his father's arms, which raised him high up before returning him to the ground.
His otou-san was the perfect counterpart of okaa-san, with his chestnut brown hair, still slightly longer than okaa´s, matching brown eyes that never showed anything but warmth and mischief. And where okaa wore black, otou wore white, creamy white, a… poncho, was it called? Either way, it was a foreign but comfortable garment.
"I see you've made progress with the shikigami, well done."
"I'm still nowhere near you, though." Hana pouted a bit. "I guess it'll take long till I get my own guardian spirit."
Otou-san laughed merrily, pleasantly. "You'll have to master the basic skills every shaman has first. And the process of choosing a spirit and convincing them to obey you isn't easy the first time you do it."
The smile vanished only because long tresses, swept by the wind, obscured it for a moment. "Is your okaa-san home?"
Hana nodded eagerly. "She sent me outside so that I don't make a mess, that I'd have to clean it up."
"Yes, she certainly likes a clean house. I'll go greet her, then. You play outside for a while, I'll come see you later and show you something new. I want to see how quick your reflexes are. A shaman needs physical as well as mental skills."
Otou-san lowered Hana back to the ground and swept away from him with a graceful stride, moving into the house, vanishing from sight.
Hana envied otou-san in that matter. No matter how scary okaa-san might get, otou-san never feared her and at times said out loud that it was one of the things he loved about her – the way she never backed down and always stood her ground.
Ever since Hana was born, they had lived a rather idyllic existence. Over time, one of his parents was often needed at a remote location, setting straight battles, squabbles, keeping the peace and helping people. They were famous throughout the land… throughout the world. And Hana had gotten used to being alone in the house with only spirits for company at times.
The duties of the rulers of the Shaman world involved more ceremonial business than real battles – now, the world was better than it was, a little more peaceful than before.
Hana continued practicing.
Inside the house, arms snaked their way around Anna's waist while she was flipping through a magazine, thinking what they might have for dinner that night. Of course she wouldn't be the one cooking said dinner, but it was nice to be able to pick whatever meal she wanted. Now, however, she regretted that both her hands were occupied and she had no means of kicking, slapping or otherwise physically injuring her husband, who sensed her annoyance but easily ignored it, resting his head on her shoulder from behind and peeking into the magazine, not really paying attention to it.
Anna's face glowed red a bit as the hands proceeded to roam a bit too much and she stepped on the nearest foot that wasn't hers, hard. Despite being Shaman King, even her husband wasn't immune to her attacks and yelped slightly before jumping away from her. Nevertheless, she was glad to see him. It was simply her strange way of showing it. She would have hit a person she didn't care for harder.
A lot harder.
"Keep your hands in check."
He flashed a dazzling smile that made even her knees buckle slightly. "Koishii," he said affectionately, "you would have to be less enchanting for that plea to make me stop."
She was not blushing. "Shut up. You know you can't sweet-talk me as easily as that."
"You can't blame me for trying." He shrugged. For someone so famed, feared and powerful, he certainly had a playful side that not only she knew of. Come to think of it, Anna couldn't remember his face without that giddy smile she had come to be fond of.
Well, she could, but certainly not in situations that would lessen her blush.
"I'll assume you've solved that problem with the uprising in the west." Anna said, striding into the kitchen to check if they had the supplies necessary for the dinner she had in mind.
He followed her, flinging himself into the nearest chair with ease. "It was no trouble. Actually, it wasn't hard at all, but I thought I should show up just to give them an example of what happens to troublemakers. They weren't that strong – others could have managed it just fine."
This still wasn't the ideal world, Anna knew. Not all would understand either of them. The very fact that they were together, the two opposites that they were, was still shocking to most. But that was what they were – flip sides of the same coin.
She had never thought she would think that could exist in real life. Even in her soap operas, it had seemed far too… far-fetched. Unrealistic.
"It also means that I'm all yours tonight." Her husband said with a mischievous grin.
Anna almost dropped the vegetables she had found and sent her best death glare at him, knowing that he had a natural immunity or a natural stupidity that protected him from the effects of her stares.
After all, she didn't want to kill him.
"Hentai." She muttered to herself. And then, out loud: "No soy sauce for you tonight."
"You intend to use it for other purposes?" he inquired innocently.
She threw an apple at him. "You damned hentai."
Unfortunately, he caught it with natural ease. And again, that smile. "My, Anna-chan, I was thinking that you intended to make a different meal with it. Just what is on your mind today, koi? Have I been away from you for too long?" And he was approaching her, like the snake he was, with the damned grace he always seemed to have. "You've missed me that much?"
"Watch those hands." She warned him, not even berating him for the misuse of her name. "Hana is in the house and I won't have my son take after his father."
"You don't want him to be powerful, wonderful and irresistible to beautiful itako?"
The corners of her mouth twitched involuntarily – which he noticed at once, as he noticed all details about her. He had learned to distinguish her moods and see how far he was at cheering her up or seducing her – whatever he felt like – through the little changes in her expressions. No one else probably saw it, it was too subtle, but it pleased him to know that he was the only one who managed to cause these changes.
Slowly, he leaned in towards her, taking the opportunity to press his lips to the side of her face, not kissing her, simply relishing the brief moment when she trembled. Of course she tried to hide it, but she couldn't disguise it well enough to fool him. As gently as he could, he returned his hands to her waist, slowly pulling her closer to him.
"Well, Anna?" Hot breath against her skin. A whisper that all her senses felt.
"If you start groping me in the kitchen…" she breathed, but didn't finish, because a pair of lips caressed her skin in a maddening way… and a hand found her breast.
Unfortunately, stomping his foot didn't work the second time she tried it that day. She would soon have to think of new tricks to play on him, as he didn't appear to run out of his.
As a punishment for that dirty trick, she was forced to tremble again, and not with hatred or anger. But she positively seethed with rage at the way he could manipulate her into doing what he wanted her to do. Any the thing she hated the most was that she found herself not objecting to the sensations that his touch was causing her.
Her body was being turned. Black stared into brown – their eyes met.
And out of the blue, she slapped him.
Attempted to do so, anyway. He didn't allow her to slap him all the time, only when he deemed it necessarily. Even the legendary left hand was deflected, caught and pushed against the wall along with the rest of her body. The grip and pressure on her wrists remained, but she saw only the sudden hunger that had appeared in his gaze, mixing with the playfulness as he observed her struggling form.
"I've missed you." He whispered with an unusual hoarseness.
Anna attempted to break free, despite knowing it was futile. "You always say that."
"I always mean it."
"Hana is outside."
His smile only widened. There was something predatory about it. "Outside means not in this house. And he will be busy training for some time."
"Anna, your mind always amazes and amuses me."
"You think that just because you're my husband you can force me?" A challenge, naturally.
"Who says I'm forcing you… I'm only persuading you." He breathed into her neck, traveling it with his lips before moving back to her face, looking at her.
The itako remained stone-faced, but there was a light blush gracing her immaculate cheeks now. The truth was, she didn't mind… she didn't, really. Since when had she become so easily persuaded by something as trivial as a kiss?
But with him, nothing was ever trivial. Nothing. Their lives were extraordinary, yet simple and easy, as she had always wished. And for the first time in her life, she felt wanted. Loved, even, perhaps. There was not only lust that linked them, though it was part of their attraction, or a common goal in life, which had brought them together. There was affection there as well, a feeling that made her feel weak and strong at the same time, what she had never felt before.
And he looked at her as if she were the most precious thing in the world, which to him, she was. With her, he had a place, a purpose, a future. Of course, it had been difficult at the beginning. Their being together had always been risky, dangerous. Now, at the end of a long journey, he had all he could have ever wanted and more.
A normal world.
They were accepted, respected, if slightly feared.
Home… he had never had it before.
But even he sensed that Hana had grown bored playing outside and intended to go back in and check what was for dinner. Knowing that, he slowly released his wife, but not before paralyzing her with a kiss on the lips, brief as it was, and whispering to her that she would be his after dark, making her glare harder, to his utter amusement.
And once their son was safely in bed in his room, he caught her on the balcony, in her white nightclothes. Never before had she allowed anyone into her bedroom – the marriage had changed everything. She had considered throwing him out and making them sleep in separate rooms, but eventually refrained. After all, he respected her very much, she knew.
She never stops to consider what may have been.
Neither does he.
"Anna…" to his surprise, she allows herself to be kissed and caressed this time. "Is this a new strategy? You want to give me a false sense of security before elbowing me in the stomach?" But it's with good fun when he says those words.
"Once a baka, always a baka." She mutters, aware but uncaring of the fingers playing with the sash of her robe. She had missed him, really. And only then does she realize that the touch she feels is of his naked chest, though she thoroughly checks whether he is wearing anything at all.
And he laughs, though she hadn't groped him. Not really. "Now, now, who is the hentai in this household?"
Again, she blushes. Even the darkness cannot hide it. "Shut up."
"You're right. I have better uses for my mouth." A hand gently slithers underneath her robe, warm against her cold skin. She finds herself not minding the caress.
And he understands all too well that he hereby received the permission he desired as she allows the wind to sweep the sleeve of her robe away.
She might only think it, he might daily say it, but the Great Spirits know it is true. For good or ill, they are together, fighting and loving each other. They clash to join again, yin and yang, light and darkness, fire and ice.
Hao and Anna.
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Hentai you get the idea .)