'All dar, folks and merry X-mas to y'all! And happy holidays for all the others who've different reasons for celebrating these days! After a long long looong pause this Sith Lord is finally back in action with a new fic spawned by his overactive imagination. The good thing is I've already written some part of it so this here fic will be updated every Friday. Now, this is a non-Pokémon fic but this is no reason to just go away, isn't it? It's a slightly AU Shaman King continuation For Want Of A Nail fic, which in plain English means that it's a fic using some of the OC from the SK manga Flowers that were barely given any character traits and are just inviting some writer to use them, and placing them in a setting where something in the original series happened slightly differently. Precisely what? Read to find out :P. As usual, there are OCs here as well. Because of the format of the fic all SK things 'bout spirits and shamans are going to be explained in-story so don't worry if you're familiar only with the anime or know little of the series as a whole. The fic kinda borders on M so, be warned, there are some mature themes in here somewhere.
The One That Blooms In Spring
Does life really have something special in store for us all? For some of us…any one of us?
Are we all part of some grand design, each of us a hero of his or her own tale, main characters in a story of ours and oblivious to all the other ones just like us out there?
To be frank, these weren’t really the kind of thoughts that plagued the mind of the seventeen-year-old that fateful morning. The soft wind, one of the last remnants of winter’s harshness, made his dark blonde hair look even wilder than it was in its usual unruly state. The boy paid no heed to the people passing him by and, one hand holding an almost-empty schoolbag behind his shoulder, just kept on walking onwards despite his still half-asleep mind telling him to swerve at some convenient corner or another. The blond was seemingly in a world of his own at first glance- an empty world mirroring the one surrounding him, where only the occasional obstacle obscuring his route and the countless of sakura petals flying round on Aeolus’ wings existed.
Indeed, while his skin now only felt the gentle gusts of the wind, his nose would have preferred having a delicious breakfast to smell instead of blooming flowers and his thoughts were still veering towards his comfy bed and a potential escape out of his current predicament, the boy had thought about it before. About that fickle thing that we humans like to call destiny. He had dwelled on fate’s plans for him, yes- mostly when he had been little. Thoughts now dismissed as the foolish dreams of some kid. And maybe they were really just that? The blond himself didn’t know what he wanted to believe. Many times he had found himself wondering what he really wanted of life.
Adventure? Danger? An exciting route leading him towards the very top, whatever even awaited him up there? Or just a quiet, perfectly ordinary existence without any strain or problems? The young man wanted both and yet, none. After being stuck by the inability to decide countless of times, the blond had eventually let it go, allowing the flow of life to just sweep him off his feet and take him in whatever direction it felt like.
Did it have something special in store for him? He didn’t know. And, as of recently, he had found himself not really caring.
But really, did the blond even have the right to say he led an uneventful life? Not many people his age lived in a hot springs inn, with a scary as hell songstress ‘mother’, three beautiful foreign waitresses and a duo of overly enthusiastic rockstar-wannabe Buddhist monks. In reality, his household was probably the strangest one out of all his peers’- even the ones whose families were in the Yakuza.
The blond had always wondered why he felt like this- as if there had been a mistake when he had been born and two of him had ended up stuck in a single body. A lazy bum who could stare at nothing but the sky all day and a volcano of energy ready to erupt at any given moment- these were the faces of his own inner self. A combination of hot and cold the teenage used to find mysterious years ago, before he became well-known as the guy with the shortest temper among his peers and the school nurse called his mother to have a talk about disturbing behaviors and symptoms of bipolarity.
The only reason the boy found, the only sane guess he could make, was the absence of his father. Or at least that was what that know-it-all insufferable girl in his class had told him. And since he knew no better, he believed. And so, the blond started to blame the man who he had used to admire with all his heart. The man who left nothing behind but an aged set of headphones, an old music tape collection and a couple of worn-out photos, leaving the boy behind with nothing but two too optimistic for their own good ‘uncles’ to show him how to be a man.
Once, when he had been little, his mother had taken him to the local zoo. Even to the present date, the blond still remembered that sunny July morning as one of the best in his life. When, hand in hand with the woman that had raised him with utmost love, he eventually reached the white swans’ den, the boy was thrilled to learn that the majestic long-necked animals were favorites of his father, serving as a kind of inspiration throughout the man’s life. The youngster had lunged at the bars, ready to climb over just to be able to feel himself what his father had when the pristine-white feathers had touched his skin. But even when the set of hazel eyes finally met the creature’s black, he felt nothing.
Nothing at all.
To the youngster they were nothing more than all the others foreign and local, ordinary and exotic, creatures he had met previously on that fateful day. What caught the boy’s attention, what somehow made his heart skip a beat without even knowing why… were the people. Dozens upon dozens of people scouring round the lily-filled cerulean waters of the pond. Each and every one of them a character from a different story, a hero of their own adventure however tedious it was. He had closed his eyes back then- tried imagining what live looked like through the eyes of another. Even as a teenager, some part of the old habit still remained. The habit of wondering what kind of life the others lived as fate passed him by.
Just like that ordinary morning.
Asakura Hana, spaced out just as always, barely managed to regain his balance after a girl he vaguely knew as attending the same school as him dashed by and nearly tripped him over. It was one of those moments when time seemed to screech to a halt and then start off slowly- slowly enough for you to realize what was happening but leaving you just as unable to do anything at all. The girl sent a shock racing through Hana’s senses- all five of them suddenly flaring up and announcing their existence with a roar that clouded the teen’s mind. Despite being currently more unstable than ever, one of his feet threatening to leave the surface of the sidewalk and the other already mid-step, only one thing existed in the Asakura’s mind’s eye back then. The girl.
The smell of her billowing short hair, colored a dark shade frequently found in the depths of the night sky, filled his nostrils with the aroma of lilies. Her eyes, the same color as her hair and partially obscured by the twin bangs adorned by a couple of hairpins that framed her face, met Hana’s hazel ones with an apologetic look that clearly said ‘I’m really sorry, I’m in a hurry’. The briefest of glances lasted even less than the magical moment itself and the teen’s eyes gradually travelled downwards, beyond the piece of toast clutched between the girl’s rosy lips and down her smooth neck. The pupils of the Asakura’s hazel orbs grew larger, even if just by an amount unnoticeable by the untrained eye, as they glazed over the upper side of the girl’s partially revealed breasts of quite an enjoyable size and the hem of her laced bra, for she was busy fumbling with the last button of her white shirt, another thing that pointed out how genuinely late she was. As time gradually sped up and, briefly afraid of possible unfortunate implications, Hana forced his eyes downwards past the girl’s green skirt and down her athletic legs until they finally reached the sight of the cold concrete beneath him.
The magical moment was over just as suddenly as it had started, leaving the heir to the Asakura line with a hung down head, uncertain of his feelings as the girl and destiny along with her ran away even faster as the school bell was heard from across the street. An exasperated sigh escaped Hana’s lips.
The light turned red just as the girl barely managed to cross the street and Hana reached the edge of the sidewalk. The youngest Asakura watched with a trace of amusement as the girl, seemingly thinking that she was able to reach her destination on time, crashed into yet another unfortunate passer-by, a boy with skin quite a few shades darker than the local, and this time managed to tackle him to the ground along with herself. The still dizzy teen shook his head, partially lifting the veil of black hair that his dreadlocks had built around his face but, alas, both his hands ended up on two rather sensitive parts of the girl’s upper torso when he tried pushing himself up. A few brief moments later, a green-eyed boy walking nearby awarded the unfortunate foreigner with a snide remark about the armor-piercing slap that had preceded and helped him get up.
The Asakura just kept on waiting for the light to change. The school bell meant nothing to him- if the choice was his, the blond wouldn’t have been even there in the first place. Instead, the young man tried to banish the nagging thought that yet another chance of excitement in his life had literally crashed into him and then walked away, uncaring. One more missed opportunity in the long list that already preceded it. The last traces of the school bell’s ringing were drowned by the noise of the column of vehicles bolting up and down the street. If not for his mother, Hana would have skipped every class possible, so the teenager just took his leisurely time crossing the busy road. The blond stopped before the very gates of his school and threw a slightly irritated glance towards the building looming on the hill above him. The morning wind drowned yet another of the boy’s sighs as he shook his head and walked in.
The halls of his daily prison were just like he had left them- filled with the beams of the cheery morning sun that was still taking its time to rise up. The teenager let a smile briefly dance on his lips at the irony of a school looking actually so innocent. Normal. Not drop dead boring.
Indeed, the irony.
Whatever ‘excitement’ of starting high school he had felt the year before was now completely, and obviously, absent. Hana just kept on walking gloomily towards his homeroom and none of the other students, busy discussing their vacations with each other, paid any attention to the Asakura- the self-proclaimed laziest student in the whole school. And dubbed ‘delinquent’ by some of the teachers. Meters away from the sliding door beyond which laid his trusty pillow-substituting desk, one unneedingly strong pat on the back nearly managed to succeed where the running girl had failed. Namely, knocking the heir to the Asakura line over.
“Ohaio, chumley! How come you’re actually here nearly on time? Did hell freeze over or something?”
Surprisingly to some, the half-smile that appeared on the Asakura’s face was a sincere one. While being a stranger to even some of the people in his own class and avoided by quite a lot of others due to his temper, Hana did have some friends at school. A friend at least.
Onikawa Tsumemaru- best batter on the school’s baseball team, dubbed ‘Ogre’s Claw’ by many due to his wicked swing, a lover of sports, with a knack for bad puns and the living proof of the special kinds of friendships that bloomed while waiting for detention in front of the principal’s office.
“Well, let’s say that Mom herself decided to make sure I was on time this morning,” replied the Asakura and barely managed to resist a wide yawn. “And how come you’re actually late? I thought you’re currently living on the baseball pitch with the new upcoming season and all.”
“Come on, it’s just a little more training than usual,” said Tsumemaru and waved off his friend. “It’s for the good of the team and we’ve got a ton of stuff to do- train the new recruits, prepare for our first match, be ready for sudden changes of the match-ups and potentially going up against any rival schools, making sure the team has not lost its spirit during the break…”
Hana just diligently nodded again and again, not really paying attention to the usual baseball-related spacing out of his classmate, and finally walked into the classroom only to find it teacher-free. Not surprised in the slightest by their homeroom teacher’s absence, given the middle-aged man’s usual behavior, the blond just walked over to his desk and sat down. Tsumemaru plopped down on his own place, second-to-last and in front of Hana, and kept on counting off different reasons for spending nearly 160 of the last week’s 168 hours on the pitch.
“… then there’s the fact that Sato is a senior this year so he’ll be on the lookout for a successor to the captain’s place this season! I just have to be the one! I’m so psyched I can just… err, was I ranting again?”
“Pretty much, yes,” mumbled Hana while still trying to catch some shuteye, head laid on the makeshift pillow that was his somewhat hard schoolbag.
“What were we talking about again?” asked the athlete and ran a hand through his cropped black hair. Alas, Hana chose not to answer and just kept searching for his way to Sleepyland. “Uhm… oh yeah, how bad can your Mom waking you up be? I mean, I’ve been over to your place and she’s always acted so sweet and caring and stuff. Plus, she’s kinda h-“
“The next word coming out of your mouth better be ‘hyperactive’,” cut him off Hana and lifted his head just enough to glare at his classmate.
“Hygienic?” asked in reply and with false innocence the athlete, prompting both boys to burst out laughing. “Still, just out of curiosity, how did she wake you up?”
The Asakura, seeing that sleep was obviously too far away for him to grasp, leaned back on his chair and balanced it on its hind legs before answering.
“She shook me up and said ‘wake up, Hana, dear’ or something like that.”
“And that’s scary how exactly?” asked the Onikawa whilst barely stiffening a laugh.
“She was holding a meat cleaver.”
Tsumemaru’s lips formed an understanding, perfectly shaped ‘o’ as all traces of laughter left his face.
“So…” dragged out Hana “what do you think are our chances for number one this season?” innocently asked the Asakura in hopes of luring his friend into yet another baseball-related rant and using it as a distraction for a brief nap.
But before the batter could start off with his passionate, baseball terms-filled speech, the sliding door opened one last time. An outsider would have certainly pondered why the class had stopped their chatter and taken their time to politely greet the man who certainly looked severely out of place in any kind of educational building. With wavy raven-black hair trailing behind him, the aloha shirt-loving teacher walked in with a posture that clearly pointed out the man himself was wondering if he had entered through the right door. Spaced out as always, the teacher greeted the class with a hearty wave, once again forsaking every bit of formal procedure and treating the students as his equals.
“Ohaio, class! Ya had a good summer? Niiice. But come on, gang, I’ve told ya already, like, a dozen times. Enough with the Kyomizu-sensei stuff. Kyomizu-sensei is my father, me, I’m just your Hachiro-sempai, remember? Cause in my heart,” said the middle-aged man and bumped with his fist the part of his chest inside which laid the aforementioned vital organ. “I still feel like one of ya, dudes and dudettes.”
Indeed, that was Kyomizu Hachiro- self-proclaimed biggest Lennon fan in all of Japan, all-around flower child and favorite of about every student in the high school. And, if rumor had it right, despised by the rest of the school staff. It seemed that these were the hazards of a total hippie being a teacher and all kinds of speculation ran amok as to how on Earth did ‘Hachiro-sempai’ still keep his job. Some of the wildest predictions included aliens, a reborn Elvis Presley and the rest of the stuff being afraid of Kyomizu showing up one morning with a chainsaw and a sawn-off shotgun if they actually showed him the door. But the majority of the students agreed that the best bet was that their favorite had already been fired- only, he hadn’t realized it yet. Or just really didn’t want to go. That was but one of the many mysteries that surrounded Hachiro-sempai, Hana’s homeroom teacher since the very beginning of high school.
But while the whole class was already used to the various quirks and odd habits of their teacher, no one expected the trio of foreigners trailing behind the middle-aged man. The educator’s twin blue orbs hidden behind small round glasses lazily inspected the murmuring crowd seated in front. After several blinks and the customary yawn and stretch, Hachiro finally obliged to explain the situation.
“We’ve got ourselves here,” said he and pointed over his shoulder to the group behind him. “A whole trio of transfer students. Pretty neat, eh?” It seemed that a nagging thought suddenly crossed the long-haired teacher’s mind and the man threw a quick glance back. “Yep, three. No mistake there.”
Like never before in class, a teacher actually had Hana’s undivided attention. Something inside him, like earlier that morning, stirred up. Nothing but a remnant of a dream- the last hope for adventure and someone mysterious entering his life and turning it upside down- that was what the young Asakura felt. And with the years, even said remnant had faded away, leaving only the fragile desire for a simple change in his monotonous life. Then again, the other side of him, the one that wanted nothing more but an uneventful and easy life, asked: “Why bother?”
Not that it mattered anyway- just like always, the bubbles that represented his hope were cruelly popped one after another as reality settled in. The transfers, while certainly a strange bunch, were all boys. And Hachiro had just finished taking his time to explain that the trio was part of an international student exchange program, thus revealing the mystery surrounding Hana’s missing classmates and the newbies taking their places.
“Listen up, folks,” said the hippie of a teacher and plopped down on the comfy chair behind his wooden desk, legs now atop said piece of furniture. “Those guys are, like, new here so I want ya to be good hosts and... and stuff. The principal said to assign one of you guys to each one of ‘em. You’re gonna show them round here and explain how things are. So,” exclaimed the Kyomizu and enthusiastically clapped. “First, the dude on the far left! Name, likes and dislikes and other general stuff. Go on, no need to be shy. Just... let it flow out, dude. Let it all… flow.”
Hana couldn’t help but be amused by the questioning eyebrow and skeptical look of the first newcomer. Fate would have it, the same dark-skinned teenager the sprinting girl had crashed into earlier that morning. The young man whose face was framed by the dreadlocks of his black hair hesitantly stepped forward.
“Err, hi, everyone! My name is Al- err, Lopez Alejandro from Brazil. I’d really like to learn about your country during this year and, uhm, sorry if my Japanese is kinda bad- I had a hard time learning it. I like… well, a lot of things actually. I’ve heard it’s customary to join an afterschool club here so I guess I’ll try out for the track team. I was on it back at home.”
The teacher waited a little to make sure Alejandro had finished speaking before clapping cheerfully once again and asking:
“Okay, peepz, who’s gonna show Lopez-san around?”
A few guys and a bunch of giggling girls raised hands. To Hana’s surprise, Tsumemaru was one of the volunteers. “Dude’s an athlete, too,” whispered the batter in response to the Asakura’s raised eyebrow. In the end, the Onikawa did end up the one being chosen to play guide.
Hana was surprised to actually recognize the second boy, too. A teenager with unruly auburn hair rivaling the young Asakura’s own and bright green eyes, he had been present at the accident earlier as well. With hands shoved inside his pockets, the newcomer stepped forward with an un-amused look.
“Green Cedric, from NY in the USA. From what I’ve seen so far, it’s as busy here as back home so I think I’ll fit in with the pace. It’s cool here. Lotsa historical stuff you can’t see where I come from. Bout clubs… I’ve heard you’ve a ‘go home club’ or something like that here. I think I’ll join that one. Yep, all done, teach.”
The situation with the volunteers was the same as last time, with Cedric ending up assigned to one Sato Arada. Teachers’ pet, second best student in his year, shoe-in for school council president, leader of the literature and music clubs and captain of the basketball team. Not only that, but with his long silky obsidian-black hair and piercing eyes of the same color, ‘Ara-kun’ was the all time favorite of the female majority in the school. To the male part he was the living example of the anomaly that feminine looks actually helped one get a girl. Many dreamy sighs were heard as Cedric half-heartedly shook hands with the Sato.
It was the third exchange student’s turn now- but however Hana looked at it, the little boy shouldn’t have even been allowed into the high school. Even with the wavy ‘horn’ of white hair jutting up from his head, the red-eyed boy looked short even for the eleven years he probably barely had. This time Hachiro spoke before the newcomer, who in turn just kept on sneering at the class.
“Now, folks, this here pal’s extra special and all that jazz. He may be little and stuff but Tao Men is, like, super smart for his age so he was sent over by his fancy private school in China.”
Many hands were raised this time, by girls who found Men so ‘kawaii’ only, but the little wonder-boy chose to voice his overly arrogant opinion before being assigned to anyone. His voice was haughty, sickeningly so, and the way he talked to the teacher could make one wonder who was actually eleven and who- in his thirties.
“I appreciate your concern,” said the boy and straightened his aristocratic posture even more. “But you do not need to think of me as your ordinary lower-class boy. I am both better mannered and educated than the students present here so I think I am deserving enough to make the choice myself instead of relying on your dubious judgment.”
“Be my guest, little dude,” laughed Hachiro in reply and gestured towards the class absent-mindedly.
“I choose… this one.”
All color drained from Hana’s face when his brain finally registered at whom exactly was Men pointing at. Hazel and crimson clashed as both boys glared at each other in a battle of wills which was quickly ended by the Asakura’s stern reply.
A beat passed.
“Nocando!”swiftly declined the teacher and jokingly wagged his finger at the teen. “We gotta be good hosts, Asakura-kun, remember?”
“’Grats, mate,” Tsumemaru whispered after stiffening a laugh.
The Asakura just buried his hands into his unruly blond hair and let out an irritated sigh. When he had hoped for a change in his life, Hana was really sure he had pointed out he wanted a positive one.