"Everything I need to know?" Hao asked uncertainly. "I … I don't really know if I want to know …"
"I know," Yoh tried to comfort Hao. "But you need to know this." As the two of them at last reached the mansion, Hao gasped.
"This place… it's so empty and barren…"
"Yeah …" Yoh sighed and began to walk inside. "I'll tell you all about it." Hao followed him in, a little afraid.
"I… I don't really like it here."
"Hao …" Yoh began sadly, sitting down on the old, decrepit floor. Hao looked at Yoh expectantly.
"What is it? Why is this place so familiar and empty?"
"Hao… you're the person who did this."
Hao's eyes widened as he gasped. It took a few minutes for him to calm down and find his voice again. "What? But … how could I … what did I …?" He whispered, not able to think clearly. Yoh closed his eyes.
"You are a shaman. And you burned this house down with your Oversoul … the Spirit of Fire."
"Spirit … of … Fire …" Hao whispered, eyes becoming dark and cloudy. Yoh could no longer tell what his brother was feeling. "Why …" he whispered again. Yoh took Hao by the shoulders.
"A man and his daughter used to live here. The girl was also a shaman."
"So what do I have to do with that?" Hao yelled.
"The man was not a shaman … and he abused the girl badly. He was just a normal human."
"Did I… kill them?" Hao asked, barely able to hide his tears. Yoh nodded.
"You killed the man."
"No!" Hao threw his fist to the ground, breaking away some of the floor. "No!" he repeated. Yoh shook him to calm him down. "You didn't kill the little girl! Her father did…"
"Why … why would I kill a man like that?" He yelled, still upset with himself. Yoh smiled, though it was nothing he was very proud of…
Or at least, used to be proud of.
Now he understood … Now that he had been part of Hao.
"You … hate humans. They hurt the earth. They can't feel the pain of it the way shamans can. The man killed his daughter, who was a shaman. That is why you killed him." Yoh continued. "You … are over one thousand years old. You hated humans ever since they killed your mother. In becoming an Onmiyouji, you could feel the pain of the earth and become in touch with nature itself."
"This doesn't make sense…" Hao said fearfully. His voice was shaking.
"I know Hao. But you want to destroy humans because of what they've done." Yoh said. He knew he wasn't helping very much.
We should be the same person… Yoh thought, forgetting Hao could hear him. Then everything would be okay…
"Stop saying that!" Hao cried. He covered his ears, but Yoh's thoughts of becoming one with Hao overwhelmed him. "What does that mean? The same person! The same mind! I don't understand!"
Yoh tried to calm him down once more. "Hao," he stated. "When you mastered the five elements you also gained the power to control your life. That is, to reincarnate yourself. That's why you're here now. That's why I'm here, too. When you reincarnated yourself this time… your soul split in two. I'm your other half. We're not a whole person."
"Is this why … I feel so empty?" Hao asked, staring into Yoh's eyes. Yoh nodded. "I think so…"
"I'm …" Hao couldn't finish his sentence. He buried his face in his hands.
Suddenly Yoh felt a rush of sympathy for his older brother, greater than he'd felt ever before. This wasn't the Hao he knew. Somehow he had to help…
"Yoh, there's nothing you can do now." Hao said, not able to hide the tears in his voice. "Nothing…"
"Hao." Yoh put a serious look on his face. Hao looked up and stared at Yoh. "Unite with me."
"What …?" Hao wasn't sure about what Yoh had just said. How would he do that anyway?
"Come on Hao. You've done it twice before. You've killed me twice before. Both times you didn't hesitate, why now?" Yoh's eyes were blank, showing he was deep in thought; perhaps he was even in a trance, becoming possessed … wanting to become one.
We have to become one…
"One…" Hao repeated, his eyes also becoming blank. He blinked quickly, snapping out of it. "No, I can't. I couldn't kill you. I couldn't kill my own brother."
"You did, Hao …" Yoh said, no expression or change of tone in his voice at all.
"But I can't now!" Hao argued. He knew Yoh wanted this, but first of all he wanted to know more about himself. Who he really was … surely what Yoh told him wasn't true? Maybe he was confusing him with someone else? Hao shook his head, trying to escape the thoughts flying through his head.
"We are one … Asakura Hao …" Yoh said. He was deeply in a trance now.
"No … we're … not … we can't be."
"Asakura Hao … we're the same person…"
"Stop it Yoh … you're really scaring me!"
"How can you be scared, my brother? You know this is true…" Yoh whispered. Hao suddenly felt an urge to run away, to get as far away from Yoh as possible. This was all too much to bear. How could he be the same person as Yoh?
"One, Hao … we are one…"
"Yoh! What do you think you're doing making us wait this long!" Anna suddenly burst into the room, watching in horror at what was going on.
What is Hao doing to him?!
"Anna! I'm not doing anything, I swear…!" Hao said, tears beginning to flow down his cheeks. "I just want this to be over!"
Yoh was gripping Hao's shoulders amazingly tight, so tight, blood was beginning to appear on Hao's shirt.
"Yoh! You're hurting me!" desperately shouted Hao. Yoh was glaring at him, his eyes looked deep in depth of himself they would make any soul frightened. Anna froze, watching her fiancé. Yoh didn't look like Yoh at all. His face had never shown so much pain and agony. Hao began to shake in fear. "Let…me…go…" he muttered, quietly now slipping back into trance. "…Please…" his eyes became blank again, and he found resisting getting harder and harder. "Yoh…"
"We…are one Hao." Whispered Yoh, the words echoed Hao's head. "You can not escape that fact."
"Snap out of it!" screamed Anna, her fist making full contact with Yoh's face it threw him to the floor. Now Yoh had let go of him, Hao scurried backwards on the ground, turned over onto his front and ran out the house as fast as he could. He didn't know where he was going to go, or what he was going to do. But he was certain he never wanted to see Yoh ever again.
"What the hell did you think you were doing!" screamed Anna standing over Yoh, who had landed on his front grasping his face with his left hand and leaning on his right.
"I…" started Yoh quietly, annoyed she interfered, but didn't show it. "I don't know what came over me…" he lied getting to his feet. He shook his face gently and looked at Anna, she gasped. His eyes had remained the same. She smacked him again, even harder. It threw him to the right and he staggered slightly.
"What did you say to him!" she demanded. "I've never seen him look so scared!"
"I…didn't say anything." He lied again. She walked to him, hitting him once more.
"Liar! What did you say to him!" she yelled.
"I…" muttered Yoh standing, his back to her. "Told him the truth." Anna clasped her hand over her mouth.
"What truth?" she gasped. "You didn't tell him…"
"Yes." Yoh turned. "I told him everything he needed to know."
"He didn't need to know anything! You shouldn't have said a word!"
"Oh yeah! Well finding out your way is just as bad!" screamed Yoh back at her. She didn't flinch.
"Oh? Reading my mind! That's god damn rude if you ask me!"
"No one asked you! And he can't help but read your mind! He can't help but read anyone's mind everyone has horrible thoughts about him!"
"That's not my fault! He's the most despicable shaman to have ever walked the planet!"
"Don't you dare speak about him that way!"
"No one likes him! Everyone hates him! After the things he's done, I wish he was – "
She was cut off, and hit the ground. Yoh was stood, panting heavily, his hand in a fist…
He had hit her.
He suddenly shook his head, blinking hard. He looked at his hand not taking in what he had done right away. She knelt on the ground, panting too. They both had a break from the shouting, they both had a break from the fighting. He looked over at her, uncertain about what to do.
He could walk away.
He could ignore her.
He could try to forget.
"Anna…" he whispered, not moving from position.
"Yoh…" she whispered, not moving either. He lowered his arm and approached her. He knelt down beside her and stroked her hair; she still didn't move.
"I am so…so…sorry…" he whispered, tears running down his face. Anna turned her head and looked at him through her hair.
"Yoh…" she said again. "You've…never…spoken to me that way before…"
"I know I'm so sorry…" He hung his head tears still spilling. "I won't ever do that again I swear." He lifted his head again and lifted both his hands to her face, stoking her cheeks gently. She flinched slightly, her face still sore. But still, she let him caress her. She sat up a bit more, but leant towards him and he immediately caught her, embracing her with both his arms. She closed her eyes and relaxed in his arms. Yoh closed his eyes too. He lowered his head to hers, and kissed her forehead gently. She allowed him to do so, not moving from him. She opened her eyes and looked up at him. He still had his eyes closed, and was breathing quietly.
"Yoh…" she whispered. He opened his eyes halfway to look at her. "I…"
Their bodies became closer and closer, their heads almost touching. They closed their eyes once again…
After a minute or two, they broke apart, eyes half closed, their mouths slightly open. Yoh smiled gently, diverting his gaze from her. He began to blush strongly, as did Anna. She blinked and then narrowed her eyes and slapped him.
"H… How dare you!" She screamed. Yoh hit the floor, crying out in pain. "How dare you do that to me!" She repeated. Yoh looked up at her, still blushing. His eyes were gleaming, but he looked at her happily and calmly, fixed on her gaze. He didn't say anything, just smiled and stared at her. Anna blushed evenly more fiercely. "Answer me!" She demanded. Yoh giggled.
"You liked that didn't you?" He asked, in a carefree and playful tone. Anna flinched in shock.
"No! Of course I didn't!" She yelled, trying to defend herself. She had, in fact, really enjoyed it. "What ever made you think that I –" But she was cut off again; Yoh had swept her back into his arms and kissed her again. She let herself fall, let herself be lost in Yoh's warmth.
"Anna – Whoa! Yoh … you've finally made your move!"
They both opened their eyes simultaneously and broke apart, blushing as they stared up at the image of HoroHoro and Opacho standing in the doorway.
"Ho … HoroHoro!" Anna stammered, voice rising in a tone to suggest she was embarrassed. "It's… it's not what it looks like at all!"
"Yeah!" Supplied Yoh. "We were just …"
"Locking Lips!" HoroHoro teased. "About time!" Opacho looked up at HoroHoro, confused. She hadn't seen them. "Where is Hao-sama?" She asked sweetly, one finger in her mouth and her eyes wide with curiosity. Yoh shook his head and looked at Anna, smiling uncertainly. She returned his glance with a glare.
"Go on, tell them." She snapped. Yoh nodded, and turned back to the other two sadly.
"He's … gone. He ran away. I think I may have frightened him."
"Oh …" HoroHoro sighed, calming down immediately. "What did you do?"
"I … I just told him all he needed to know."
Yoh shrugged. "That he hates humans, destroyed this town, he lived a thousand years ago and became an onmiyouji."
"You what?" HoroHoro asked, amazed that Yoh could explain all of that to Hao that quickly and Hao taking it in.
"Oh, and that he hated humans since his mother was killed …" Yoh added, just remembering about that. HoroHoro cocked his head.
"How did you know that?" He asked. "I didn't know that."
"Neither did I…" Anna added.
"I have no clue." Yoh said, thinking about it hard. "I … I just knew about it."
Anna and HoroHoro exchanged worried glances.
"Yoh …" Anna began, but then shook her head. Yoh suddenly stood up and wiped down his front and back.
"Well are we going or not?" He asked, usual carefree tone back. Anna smiled. "Yeah. I think we should."
"Great. This place is beginning to scare me." HoroHoro said. Opacho nodded. "Opacho too!"
"Good. Let's hope we can catch up to the others!" Yoh said, walking out the door.
Taking a few more steps down the path, Yoh noticed not too far away down the road, lay two red circular objects, both a few feet apart from each other. Yoh slowed down slightly, staring at them. He knew what they were; he knew where they were from…
But he didn't want to accept; the reason they were there.
"He hates me…" whispered Yoh. Suddenly, the whole experience rushed back into his mind. After that moment with Anna, it was almost like he had forgotten what had just happened. Almost like he had forgotten his brother. Almost like he had forgotten his destiny…
"Yoh? Are you alright?" asked HoroHoro.
"Are we getting a move on or what?" added Anna. After his eyes being fixed on the earrings for a few more seconds, he blinked and looked at Anna and HoroHoro.
"Yeah. C'mon lets get going." He said, trying to smile. They didn't notice the change in his face as the two of them, followed by Opacho, brushed past him back down the road. They didn't notice the earrings either. Yoh stopped for a moment, standing in the middle of the two ornaments. He looked at the one on his left, and then to the one on his right. He knelt down slightly, and picked them up at the same time. He stood up again, holding them in each of his hands. He smiled, thinking about Hao wearing them.
"I recognize these! Earrings!"
Yoh laughed slightly, thinking about the joy on his twin's face when they were together again. He looked further down the hill; Anna and HoroHoro weren't waiting or looking at him. They just carried on walking. He smiled, and was about to hurry to them, when he suddenly remembered:
"You won't lose me I'm not going anywhere…I promise."
You gasped for a breath suddenly, like he had just been hit in the stomach. He promised he wasn't going anywhere. He promised he wouldn't leave…
"Yes. I promise. I will see you. No matter what."
Yoh shook his head slightly, remembering his brother's other promise. He kept that one. He came back. But now, he's running away…
Opacho eventually turned around and smiled.
"C'mon Hao-sama!" she cried happily. She covered her mouth and giggled. "Oops. Opacho Sorry! C'mon Yoh-sama!" she cried again.
"Putting them back again makes it whole. Makes it one. Makes it Hao."
"No Opacho…" muttered Yoh. "You were right the first time."
I am Hao. Thought Yoh. I will unite with my other half, some day...
He walked faster, catching up to the other three, slipping his newfound jewelry into his pockets.
"You took your time." sniffed Anna, glaring at him. HoroHoro laughed. Yoh shrugged.
"Sorry I…just got side tracked." said Yoh not looking at her when he said it, just staring into nothingness, a dazed look on his face; his hands in his pockets.
"Where is Hao-sama?" asked Opacho, still curious.
"He's around somewhere. He couldn't have gone far." said HoroHoro, smiling, reassuring her.
"Ha!" shouted Anna, not a single happy tone in her response.
"What's wrong now?" huffed HoroHoro.
"The look on Hao's face when he left? I bet he's run all the way to Japan. Not to the airport!" snapped Anna, now glaring at Yoh, who acted like he hadn't even heard her.
"What exactly did you say to him Yoh?" asked HoroHoro. Yoh tilted his head looking at HoroHoro through the top of his eyes.
"Huh?" he murmured, not actually hearing the question.
"What did you say to Hao?" asked HoroHoro again. Yoh closed his eyes and shrugged.
"I already told you. I told him everything he needed to know."
"So you keep saying. But, I think you are not telling us the whole truth." accused HoroHoro, his eyes eyeing the sky. Anna glared at HoroHoro.
"Are you saying he's a liar?" she demanded, although she was thinking the same thing.
"Not really." replied HoroHoro looking at her when he responded. "That's all I'm thinking." Yoh was staring at the sky, not paying any attention.
"Yoh!" shouted HoroHoro and Anna simultaneously. Making Opacho jump slightly.
"You guys are loud!" she shrieked.
"What?" muttered Yoh, still gazing at the sky.
"What else did you say!" they both demanded.
I told him that we are meant to be one. We are meant to be together. We are each other. He thought.
"Nothing." sighed Yoh, closing his eyes. "Nothing…"
"Well, let's keep going then." HoroHoro said, turning around, still thinking Yoh wasn't being entirely truthful. Anna nodded and followed, soon after Opacho and then Yoh. After a few minutes HoroHoro passed out onto the ground.
"Must … Have … Fooooooooood…" he complained. Anna rolled her eyes.
"Yoh!" She snapped, turning to face him. Yoh quickly came back to earth.
"Yes Anna?" He asked nervously. Anna pointed to HoroHoro.
"Go get him some food, and fast."
"Yes ma'am!" Yoh said, running off. Opacho followed, but Yoh told her to stay behind with HoroHoro. She did so reluctantly.
As Yoh walked back to the old restaurant, he looked up near the mansion. For some reason he really wanted to go there…
No, I can't. Yoh thought. I have to get HoroHoro some food.
But I have to go there…
But … I really want to…
No! I have to …
Go there …
But I can't…
Yes, I can.
"Gah!" Yoh cried out. Tired of the argument in his mind, he gave in to temptation and headed for the old mansion. He couldn't explain why he wanted to go there, he just did. Sort of like the tree…
He broke out into a run, impulse growing more and more with each passing second. "Why do I feel this way?" Yoh wondered out loud. He finally reached the old house, and entered it almost warily. This all seemed kind of suspicious. He went up the stairs, and down the hallway. Suddenly, he heard moaning and crying coming from a room further down the hall. He walked toward the sounds…
Suddenly he stopped, hearing a familiar voice echoing through his head. As if he were possessed, he slipped his hand into his pocket… touching the round, smooth object... He closed his eyes. This was so wrong… yet how come it felt so right to him?
He couldn't explain it.
He had to do it.
He took the earrings out of his pocket and stared at them. Then, after a few minutes, without thinking…
Yoh cried out in pain as he hit the floor. Yet he didn't stop. He could feel blood trickling down his fingers…
I can't stop now… He thought. Not now …
His face showed a look of desperation. Desperate to finish this, desperate to make the pain stop, desperate to see Hao again.
As he continued on his task, he screamed in pain again. More blood followed … the blood that served as a reminder of who he really was. His hands fell to his sides. His head felt heavy … he was so dizzy … but he must keep going. Carefully, he slid his hands up to the other side and began to pierce himself once more with blinding pain. More blood. But that was only to be expected. This would make Yoh stronger as a person … He pushed harder. Harder still, until at last, at last, he was finished. He stood up weakly, pain still blinding him. His hair cast a shadow over his eyes and he began to breathe heavily. He felt blood drip onto his shoulders.
"Hao…" he whispered to himself weakly. "I know you're here …" he raised his voice and looked up quickly. "Hao!" Soon he fell to his knees again. He panted, not nearly ready to give up. He reflected on what just happened, remembering the echoes in his head …
Put them in …
Well, they were there now. Yoh felt as if he really had gone, as if his personality no longer remained. Why was he acting like this? Why couldn't he just return to the way he was?
Stop it Yoh … you're really scaring me!
"Huh?" Yoh looked over to a nearby doorway. "So. You could hear me."
"You're right there crying out in pain. Brother, I can't leave you."
Yoh smiled at the image of his brother standing before him, despite the tears staining his face. Hao glared. "I thought you'd left for good. With your friends. That's why I came back."
"You shouldn't be like that…" Yoh muttered, getting up. Hao gasped. "My … my earrings! Why are you wearing them? I didn't know you had your ears pierced…" Then he came to a horrible realization once he saw the blood.
Yoh had forced the earrings into his ears.
Hao fell to his knees. "Ahhh!" He screamed. "Why … why does my head hurt so much? Why do I feel like this?! I feel so weak and powerless!"
Yoh looked at his twin sadly. He didn't look as if he were in very good condition. His pants were torn and his legs bleeding; the bloodstains near his shoulders from when Yoh had hold of them were still there, larger and more vivid than before. His hair had been untied, it looked like the elastic had been torn off. In fact, he looked almost more like his usual self like that.
"Hao …" Yoh began again in and undertone. "You know why that is don't you…?"
"No. And don't try telling me that it's because I'm not whole!" He snapped. "Because it's not true! How could you lie to me?!"
"I didn't lie." Yoh said. He walked over to Hao slowly and gently put his hand around his neck. He smiled a leering grin, making Hao become nearly powerless to resist.
"I … I remember this place now." He whispered, feeling he needed to say that. "That filthy human… deserved to die…"
"And what made you realize that?" Yoh asked, not a change in his voice. Hao opened his mouth to answer, but then closed it again. Yoh nodded.
"Yoh …" Hao said, trying to push Yoh off weakly and failing. Yoh shook his head.
"I'm not Yoh. My name is Asakura Hao."
"No it's not …"
"Yes it is … you and I both know that …"
Yoh was smiling at Hao. His eyes fixed on his. Hao stared blankly back into Yoh's eyes, becoming lost in them, like pools of endless darkness. Hao closed his eyes slowly, giving into Yoh's grip on him. His body became weaker and he fell to the ground. Yoh smiled again and knelt down onto the floor. He gently turned Hao over onto his back. Hao opened his eyes again; his pupils had vanished, leaving only a dark cloudy look in his eyes. It was obvious to see, Hao was in a deep trance. "We are one…Asakura Hao…" whispered Yoh. Hao was breathing quietly like he was asleep. Yoh gently stroked Hao's forehead, still smiling at him. Hao's face showed no emotion, he gazed blankly up at Yoh, still fixed on his eyes. "Unite with me." whispered Yoh quietly, barely saying the words. He knew Hao heard him, but Hao didn't respond. "Unite with me." He repeated. Seconds felt like months. Minutes felt like years. Time felt almost like it had stopped completely as a deadly silence grew among the two of them.
"No…" Hao managed to force out. "I…can't…"
"You can brother. You can." determinedly replied Yoh. Tears appeared in the corners of Hao's eyes. He didn't want to do this. He didn't want to be there. Why was Yoh treating him this way?
"I can't…" Yoh placed his finger on Hao's lips.
"Shhh. Don't be scared. I'm here with you." smiled Yoh. The reassuring words he spoke relaxed Hao vaguely. He was powerless. He couldn't resist any longer.
"I am you…" Hao whispered.
"And you are me…" whispered Yoh.
"You can not escape that fact…" They both recited together, quietly and equally.
"My brother." finished Yoh now standing up. After a few moments, Hao copied, standing up slowly and weakly, then turning to face Yoh, still in his trance-like state. He slowly held his hand out to Yoh, and Yoh grasped it. Their eyes fixed on each other's…
They were about to unite once again…
"I can't do this. Not now." Said Hao suddenly back in his original voice, shocking Yoh. His eyes had remained the same, still dark and under trance. Yet his voice had returned, reaching for Yoh's shoulder with his free hand, Hao brutally threw Yoh away from him. Their hooked hands were released as Yoh hit the ground hard. Hao blinked, but his eyes still would not change. He panted heavily. It took all of his power to do such a task. Yoh was very strong. With no energy left, Hao fell to the ground, and blacked out…