Disclaimer: Shaman King belongs to Hiroyuki Takei, not me.
She awoke suddenly and stared blankly into the darkness.
Where am I? What was the last place we stopped? We're not sleeping outside again, are we? Dear God, if we slept outside again…
Slowly she realized that she was home. Not some roadside hostel, not some field in the middle of nowhere, but in her very own home, in her very own bed. She sighed. The sense of comfort was palpable.
She nestled on her stomach, burrowing under the covers, but a sharp noise startled her upright. For mercy's sake, she thought. He has got to stop grinding his teeth.
She rolled onto her side and scooted closer to her husband. Yoh slept peacefully on his back, one arm tossed above his head and the other draped over his stomach. His long dark hair was tied at the nape of his neck. She stroked her finger lightly around his ear, down the curve of his neck, and against his collarbone.
It was the only good part about waking up in the middle of the night. She could adore her husband all she wanted without him noticing.
Anna pressed her lips against his bare shoulder. His arms felt sturdy under her slender hands, and his skin felt warm and surprisingly soft. She trailed her fingers down his arm and wrapped her fingers around his.
His grip tightened slightly. She leaned back to see him glancing at her sleepily from under his dark eyelashes. Her golden hair fell over her shoulder and tumbled across his chest. "Whazza matter?" he mumbled.
"Nothing," she whispered, tucking her hair behind her ear. "Go back to sleep."
He screwed up his face. "Gimme kiss, Anna?" he yawned. Anna rolled her eyes, but obligingly touched her lips to his. Yoh smiled drowsily and slumped back into sleep. She smiled down at her husband and kissed him again.
But now she was wide awake, and that did her absolutely no good. She slipped out of bed, tucking the blankets around her husband's shoulders, and made her way out of their bedroom.
The onsen was silent. Presumably the boys had drunk themselves to sleep- although she wasn't sure what Ren had done with that pouting son of his. Maybe Tamao was minding him.
Anna halted in the middle of the hallway. She had better not've put that Tao brat in the same room as my little boy, she thought. She walked towards Hana's bedroom and cracked the door open.
Years ago, when she was a child, this had been her bedroom. When they returned from the shaman fight with their baby already on the way, she and Yoh had converted it to a nursery. Now it wasn't a baby's room, but a little boy's. Plastic dinosaurs and action figures littered the floor; records scattered over his little desk. Anna crept inside. She picked up the clothes her son had worn that day and draped them over the chair.
She frowned. Hana's bed was empty.
Anna left her son's bedroom and made her way down the stairs. I had better find him, she thought. If he doesn't get into bed in the next ten minutes, I will spank him. I really will.
She had tucked him before he went to sleep, but she wasn't sure if it had gone well. He had merely regarded her coolly with the dark brown eyes that were so like his father's as she pulled the blankets around him, and she had lost the courage to kiss him goodnight.
No, her first night as a real mother had not gone well. And she didn't understand it. She had mothered the two Munzer children for quite a while, after all. Under her maternally-minded care, Seyram had learned to speak again, and Redseb came running to her with all of his childhood problems. Yet her own son treated her like a stranger.
I suppose I had that coming.
A light glowed in the kitchen. Anna paused in the doorway. "Hana?" she said. "What are you doing up?"
Her six-year-old son started guiltily. He wobbled on his precarious perch on the counter. "Nothing," he said. "I was just hungry."
She glanced at the clock above the stove and folded her arms. "It is two o'clock in the morning," she said severely. "If you don't-"
"I was just hungry," he protested. "I can't sleep when I'm hungry."
"Hana, if you don't get into bed right now I am going to…" Her resolve failed. She sighed and rolled her eyes instead. "If you get into bed right now and I get you a snack, will you go to sleep?" she said.
"Yes," he said eagerly.
She picked him up off the counter. Holding her son, even for just a brief moment, made her heart ache. He started to run to his room, but she caught him by the collar of his pajama shirt.
"Hana," she said. "There's a blue box in the hall closet. Take it up to your room, but don't open it up until I get there."
He blinked. "All right," he said, and he ran off to his bedroom.
Anna rummaged in the refrigerator and pulled out an apple or two. She rinsed them in cold water, then cut them into thin slices. I don't what's come over me, she thought. Why did I tell him to get those…oh, well. I can't really go back now.
She dumped the apple slices onto a plate, rummaged in the pantry for a jar of peanut butter, and walked up to her son's bedroom. Hana sat cross-legged on his bed, balancing the blue box on his knees. "What's in here, Mama?" he asked eagerly.
Her heart gave a sharp little pang at the sound of the 'm' word, but she pushed it aside. "Move," she commanded. Hana obediently scooted over. She set the apple slices and peanut butter down beside him and took the box.
Hana dipped a piece of apple in the peanut butter. "So what's in it?" he pestered.
Anna lifted the lid. "Be patient," she said. "And don't touch anything. I don't want peanut butter all over these."
Hana peered over her elbow as she lifted out a large framed photograph. "She's pretty," he commented.
"That's me," she said.
Hana did a doubletake, looking from the picture to his mother. "You're little," he said, surprised.
Anna touched the glass. "I was sixteen," she said softly.
The picture was taken on a sunny day in March. She wore a soft white empire-waist gown with a full skirt and pink roses in her blonde hair. Yoh stood beside her, beaming enough for both of them. Sunshine glinted off of the unfamiliar white gold bands on their hands.
"You married Daddy when you were sixteen?" Hana said.
Anna twisted her wedding band around her finger. "I did," she said. "We were ten years old when your great-grandma decided we should get married when we grew up."
Hana wrinkled his nose. "Do I hafta get engaged when I'm ten?" he asked.
"Who knows?" Anna shrugged. She flipped through the photographs under the framed ones. Hana studied them, pointing out the familiar faces and laughing at how young they looked. He paused at one picture and frowned.
"Mama, you look funny in that one," he said, jabbing his sticky finger at the photograph.
She smiled ruefully. "That was you," she said.
Hana stared at her, then back at the bump hidden beneath his mother's wedding dress. "Me?" he repeated.
"I found out you were on your way when your father was in America and I was left behind," she said. "But I left to be with him." She stroked her fingers through his golden hair, so much like her own. "I kept you a secret until the wedding. Only Daddy and Tamao knew."
Hana leaned against her. She lifted the last wedding picture away and smiled. "I think this is a better picture of you," she said.
Hana stared, mouth agape. "Is that really me?" he asked.
"Of course," she said.
It wasn't the most flattering picture of her. She slumped in her bed, hair a mess, her eyes red-rimmed, but she smiled triumphantly. Yoh sat beside her, completely oblivious to the camera as he wrapped his arms around his young wife and his newborn son.
"I've never seen what I looked like as a baby," Hana said. "You're sure that's me?"
"Definitely," Anna promised. "And do you want to know a secret?"
He nodded eagerly. She fished in her pocket and pulled out a faded, rumpled copy of the same photograph. "I carried this with me the whole time we were gone," she confessed.
Hana scooted closer and nestled against her shoulder. Anna smoothed his hair away from his face and reveled in his closeness. They sat in silence for a while, until Anna finally cleared her throat. "You ought to go to sleep," she said at last. "It's late."
She took away the box and the empty plate while he shuffled under the covers. He smiled up at her. "Goodnight, Mama," he said.
"Goodnight, Hana," she answered. She tucked him in snugly and resisted the urge to kiss him on the forehead. Instead, she got up, turned off the lights, and returned to her room.
Yoh still slept, untroubled. She climbed into bed next to him; he didn't wake up. Anna rested her chin on his broad shoulder and stared into the darkness, still unable to sleep.
It might have been minutes or hours of staring at the ceiling later, but she heard the door creak open. "Mama," Hana whispered loudly.
She sat up. "What's wrong? Are you all right?" she whispered.
He crept closer. "Can I sleep with you and Daddy?"
She pushed the covers back. "Come on," she said. "Don't wake him up."
Hana barreled into the bed and snuggled between them. Anna laid back down. "Goodnight," Hana said again. He nestled close and kissed her on the cheek.
Anna gave in and kissed her little son. Hana burrowed between his parents and dropped off to sleep. She stayed awake a little while longer, listening to her son and husband breathe deeply, but slowly she drifted off, content.
It's nice to not have writer's block for once. Hence the frequent updates.
The Asakura family is just too cute.