By Famira Damaris
: Nope. Don't own Spirited Away or the characters.
: I don't know why I'm writing this, other than the
fact that Spirited Away is a very inspiring movie. I'm sure it's been done,
but I'm trying a pre-movie setting. *shrugs* Completely random, so…ehhh…might
not be good like some of the other fics here. I'll do my best tho. Hopefully
it won't be too crappy ^^; Anyway, Haku based. Just some insight on his past.
Begins with his appearance at the bathhouse, after he had the meeting with
Yubaba. Not exactly action-packed, but whatever.
Er…title doesn't mean much. Just was listening to a DDR song. xX;
for thoughts, emphasis
A sprawling complex, the main
building of the old bathhouse was a giant maze. Navigating its halls was
a nightmare, trying to find exits even worse, and Haku doubted he would ever
get to know his way around the blasted place. It seemed like such a waste
of time. Instead of trying to memorize the layout of the bathhouse, he should
be out on some mission. Anything but this
. But that monstrous witch
had indicated that he wouldn't be permitted to start his job if he wasn't
even capable of moving about the premises of the building without running
into a closet. It made sense. In fact, it made too much sense – like just
about everything Yubaba said. She had made it seem like this arrangement
was going to be long-term.
Haku had different plans. He would learn all
he could from the elderly spirit, stay until there was simply nothing more
to teach him and that would be that. He would (could) leave whenever he wanted.
He was a slave to no one. Yubaba, he told himself as he waited for the rickety
lift to reach the floor, had no true power over where he went. The disturbing
change of names really wasn't that important – even if the original was starting
to grow fuzzy. At least, that was what he had convinced himself during the
trek from her offices at the top of the bathhouse down here.
Now where was he? Slanted green eyes narrowing,
the young boy paused and glanced about. His lips thinned into a line. Yubaba
had insisted that he was to "tour" the entire bathhouse, but he was almost
sure this was some sort of trick. Wouldn't she just die laughing if he came
out, sputtering and dusty, after a day or so? Stepping onto the waiting lift,
Haku examined the worn bronze handle and, hesitating, pulled it. With a dry
creak, the old platform began to rise, the gears grinding noisily.
That covered the lowermost floor. Haku mentally
filed that information away: the lowermost floor consisted only of old supplies,
sealed containers of aging wine and who else knew what, forgotten cartons
and crawl holes. Probably rats too. This most likely had been the basement
or some sort of cellar.
Haku sighed, closing his eyes and crossing
his arms over his chest. The freshly-pressed white material of his clothing
was slightly rigid to his touch and the brunette suppressed a shudder. A
uniform. Like he belonged to some sort of prison. He already was beginning
to hate the bathhouse (starting with that ridiculously garish office at the
top) and he had only been here for two days: the thought of spending an unknown
amount of time here wasn't at all pleasant.
But this is what I have to do.
had to find a way to return home – wherever that
was. This is the
only choice I have.
That still didn't make it any easier to swallow. His pale face
set in an unreadable expression, Haku rode the rickety lift as far as it
would go, listening absently to the creaks and throaty groans the old contraption
made as it rose. No, there was no other way, not until he knew more about
where he was. And, at the moment, he only knew this was an alien place to
him. There was no comforting murmur of a familiar river, no roaring laughter
of its waters. The peaceful whispers he had grown used to were gone, even
the soft words he had always heard Within. Only people now, always rushing
and never stopping, chasing after the pieces of gold they found so valuable,
yet never quite satisfied when they finally got their hands on some.
In his opinion,
they were a sorry substitute.
The lift came to a stop and Haku stepped out
slowly – he had arrived on the main floor, near the entrance to the massive
kitchens in the back. The strong smell of cooking food surrounded him, a
powerful aroma of bread and roasting meats. Rice too, but he had never been
fond of that stuff. Striding down the wooden halls, he took a right, bare
feet padding softly on the paneling of the floor. Some of the male workers
came into sight, their large, frog-like heads turning as they caught his
gaze. He returned it blankly, watching as their eyes flicked onto his uniform.
They scurried out of sight, their conversation suddenly muted.
He was going to get a lot
of that as he went into the more crowded areas. The same curious, barely
hostile stares. Haku kept his eyes straight forward as he strolled down the
space between the individual baths. He was wearing the exact same thing everyone
else was wearing. It was baffling, the reaction. The only thing different
were the colors.
It was probably nothing. Haku continued on
his way, his face impassive as he tried to remember every detail of the place.
Haku said nothing. Across the ornate carpets and
the huge desk, Yubaba focused on her accounts, her old, wrinkled face bent
over her work. She wasn't expecting to answer and so he gave none. Yubaba
was in one of her "good" moods today, it seemed; instead of barking commands
at the trio of heads currently bouncing and rolling around in the heat cast
off by the blazing fireplace, she ignored them steadily.
The young boy watched
as her withered hand scratched a character onto the paper before her, copying
the same mark into a dog-eared book at her elbow. The bearded brothers were
perfectly content to bask in front of the fireplace: Haku wondered how they
could stand the heat. It was practically unbearable, beating painfully at
his back. The heat seemed to grow more powerful by the minute. Forcing his
face to be neutral, despite the growing discomfort, Haku remained where he
was. Five minutes, an hour – it didn't matter.
Yubaba continued to concentrate on her paperwork,
still ignoring the new apprentice she had summoned. Silence, except for the
click of her rings, the grunts from the green heads behind him. A dry crackle
from the fireplace. The scratch-scratch of the pen on the paper. It was far
too hot in the office, Haku decided – he was starting to sweat involuntarily.
How long had he been standing here? Ten, twenty minutes? A few hours? His
home had never
been this stifling, he was certain of that. Standing
there, with ankles beginning to protest and a back that was threatening to
go numb in the heat, Haku's mind began to wander, having nothing better to
His home. His and yet much more than that, much
more complicated. It was a river – he remembered that much. There had been
the cool, reassuring caresses, the gentle voiceless laughs Within, and always
the bubbling sense of…of….of being
. But, for some reason, all of that
was gone. Empty. A void. All he had were the memories and he was beginning
to wonder how long he would have even those. Yubaba had stolen his name before
he had fully understood the repercussions. What if that had been all he had
left? Would he lose his Within, would it disappear like his home?
Will I be empty?
Haku dearly hoped not. He was determined to find
a way back to his home (or find wherever it had gone) and get his name back.
Whatever it had been (now he could only recall that it started with a "K"),
it was fading away. But it was still his
. In fact, just standing here,
staring straight ahead at nothing in particular, Haku was beginning to feel
the first pangs of anger. Whose right was it to steal –
"What's your name?"
Haku involuntarily twitched as the grating voice jarred
his train of thought to pieces. A pause. "…Haku."
"That's better," Yubaba
set down the pen, her long red nails lacing themselves together, hands resting
before her on the desk's cluttered surface. "I already told you yesterday
what I would be expecting. I don't
run a refugee house; in fact, it's
not even in my best interests to take you as my apprentice."
Haku felt his heart start to sink. If not her, who?
"But I can be generous, so…I'll allow
you to stay. So long as you pull your weight."
A surge of relief that he managed to prevent from spreading to his face.
"I'll do what I can, ma'am."
The elderly witch's enormous eyes, half-lidded,
turned on the watch resting, half-hidden under a pile of coins still to be
counted, at the corner of her desk. Haku kept silent, easing his weight slowly
from one foot to the other in an attempt to relieve the weight off them.
Yubaba didn't appear to notice.
"I don't think
I'll have you work with the rest of my staff," Yubaba finally said. "I'll
find you something to do that's more worth my time."
Yubaba glowered caustically, mouth suddenly turning down in fierce
get hasty on me
. You're already trying
my patience as it is, Haku!" She snapped.
Haku remained expressionless, neither agreeing or
disagreeing. A few long moments passed. Yubaba smoothed her gray bun, letting
out an explosive breath, her face sour. Muttering venomously under her breath,
the sorceress rounded the desk and stopped before Haku, sizing the young
boy up. Reaching up, she wound her sharp nails into his page-boy hair, tugging
on it sharply so that the frailer spirit almost lost his balance. A star-burst
of bright, blinding pain. Haku, on the verge of transforming into a dragon
and biting her over-sized head off (or at least trying),
he felt her dry breath fluttering against his ear.
"You signed the contract. You signed your services and yourself
to me. You're mine
Haku, still bent over painfully from
her surprisingly strong grip, made no attempts to fight back. Any thoughts
of rebellion abruptly faded away at her words.
"You're not stupid, I see.
You read it," Yubaba hissed, twisting her fingers further in his dark hair.
"You'll do as I say. It doesn't matter what I tell you to do, so long
as it gets done
. Do you understand, Haku?"
Haku, staring at Yubaba, was suddenly aware
of the grandfather clock near the window ticking.
"If you don't, you break the contract and then you'll never get what
you're looking for. You'll do as I say without question
." It was a
command, not an inquiry.
Haku, at length, gave the barest of nods.
Yubaba released him, glancing over the blue shoulder of her dress as the
youth straightened. He was once again regarding her with the same lack of
expression, as if nothing amiss had occurred – but his olive eyes were still
calculating. The same thing that had gotten the witch so riled in the first
place. She didn't particularly feel it was necessary to abuse this new arrival
any more than she already had, however. That look would be gone soon enough.
"Did you tour the premises?" Yubaba was all business
now as she set her desk in order, not even looking at Haku.
"Fine. Get out of
here – I'll summon you again when you're needed."
Dismissed, Haku gave a shallow bow and left the office. His head was
throbbing from what he guessed was Yubaba's version of discipline.
Eh heh…end of the prologue.
I'm already typing up the next chapter. Won't be really, er, action packed,
but it'll hopefully go somewhere. I'm toying with the idea of doing "chapters"
(like Catch 22), but I'm not sure. Might be too confusing. Anyway, hopefully
I got the characterization right – I've seen some fics where Yubaba is portrayed
as this complete villain, and I was hoping to avoid that. She struck me as
a take-no-crap sort of person who has a rather harsh way of running things.
E_e; But, dammit, she's not a soulless person! ^^;;;;
can tell, Haku is my favorite character. xX; Besides Kamaji and the mouse.
Anyway, any feedback
is appreciated. If there're any questions, suggestions, additional comments
or whatever, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com or IM
me at S Duo Maxwell 02. I'm planning to do some Spirited Away fanart – I'll
mention it when I do better ones. My first Haku oekaki came out kind of weird.
- Famira Damaris