Author's Notes: Hey, hey people this is my first Spirited Away fic and I hope you like it. I don't have much to say except Spirited Away rocks!!! Has to be one of the best anime movies I have seen, and by far one of my favorites. This story may seem amateur, I'm sorry, but it's the best I can do. Please review and leave constructive criticism. Thank you. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Spirited Away.
Rating: PG-13 (Ratings may change)
Summary: Seven years, one month, two weeks, four days, and two hours, but hey who's counting? Never a dream. I would never let myself believe it was a dream. "Oh God, I'm actually going through with this!" I took a step.
A Thousand Fathoms
Chapter 1: Heal the Breach
A warm, aged spring breeze blew past, carrying my hair with it, the forest aroma floating by, into the big black tunnel. I had let my hair grow to my waist, and it was always held back with the tie Zeniba gave me. It wasn't hard to believe that after seven years it was still as strong as the day I received it. Magic, pure magic. The tie was the one thing that kept me believing that the adventure I had so long ago was real and not a dream.
Never a dream. I would never let myself believe it was a mere dream; believe Haku wasn't real, what I felt for him wasn't real, that the Land of the Spirits didn't exist.
Today was the last day of school. I had graduated and spent the early afternoon with friends and family, for it would be the last day in a long while that I would ever see them again. I was college-bound to family, and endless party-bound to friends. To them my life here was just beginning. To me, I felt like I was going nowhere fast. I was just a statue—eroding, deteriorating over time.
Here I was, standing in front of the old amusement park entrance, the small head statue the only thing separating me from the long black tunnel to the Land of the Spirits.
Seven years. Seven years, one month, two weeks, four days, and two hours, but hey, who's counting?
Seven years since I've seen this statue, this building, this entrance. I can't believe it's taken me seven years to come this far, even though I only live a mile or two away.
The day after I came back from the Spirit World, when school was done for the day, I came, walked to the little shrines, stopped, stared for hours on end down the path, turned around, and headed home. The next day I did the same thing, except one step farther down the path. The day after another step, and then another, and then another. Even then I didn't make it within the sight line of the building. The people who saw me probably thought I was a quack. I thought I was a quack, a messed up teen stuck in an evaporating memory.
I shifted my bags, a duffel and a backpack. I wasn't running away from home. I wasn't running way from anything. I was running to my new life, my new home for the summer. Kind of like camp, except I'd get paid. I was running to Haku, and not away from my family. That was 'The Plan', and Haku and I had 'The Plan' solid this year.
I smiled; I had been doing that a lot lately.
I know that Haku would've come to me, come to the human world, like he promised, if he could have. He was a god, a spirit of an underground Kohaku River, and because of this he was unable to pass over into my world, unable to pass the river separating my world from his. Anchored to the spirit world and without a human shell to hold his spirit, Haku would disappear. I realized that a few years after I left. He said to me he couldn't go any farther; he meant he couldn't cross the river.
I was glad he was a spirit. We were able to communicate through our dreams because of his powers. It was rare but when it did happen it was amazing. There was always a field, random head statues dotted the landscape, and there he and I would sit, staring into the horizon. We rarely talked, and just enjoyed each other's company while it lasted. However, it was only a dream and it pained me to know that it wasn't real, that if I touched him my hand would touch air. I hated not being able to feel the grass, the stone...his hand. No matter how hard I tried that one sense kept a harsh reality—paradise didn't exist in my dreams. It didn't last more than a few minutes for I would wake up in school, with those next to me poking me with pencils and the class teacher would be glaring. But through those dreams we, Haku and I, made up 'The Plan'.
What is 'The Plan'? The day after I graduated from high school I would join Haku in the Land of the Spirits for the summer. I would work for Yubaba and he would remain her apprentice. He was still her apprentice, but she didn't control him anymore. Technically, I wasn't sticking to 'The Plan'. I was supposed to leave tomorrow, but I knew that if I stayed I wouldn't have the courage or heart to leave.
I had left my parents a note, saying it was all right and I'd see them again soon. I hadn't run away, I hadn't committed suicide, and I wasn't kidnapped. I just need time to look at my options, and if everything went as well as I hoped I would find permanent residence at the location. I told my parents I loved them and signed it—my best calligraphy, if I do say so myself.
Taking a deep breath, I walked past the guardian statue, patted the top of it, whispered a small homage I learned from one of my Senseis, and stopped again at the mouth of the tunnel.
I wanted to look back so badly, back down the path, but I knew if I did, 'The Plan' would shatter. Everything I had hoped for would burn and die a horrible death before my eyes. I would want to go back home.
My hand touched a small plaque next to the tunnel. I recalled the summer a few years back when my friends and I fought to keep this place safe from development. Because of our enthusiasm and my book the town committee named it a historical site. The Land of the Spirits was safe, now and forever.
Another breeze, a little harder and pushy, blew into the tunnel, just like seven years ago. I quickly glanced at my watch. 7:30 and the pregnant sun bloated against the horizon. I don't have much time. The breeze grew stronger.
"Alright already!" I said annoyed. "You Spirits have no patience."
I could hear sirens in the distance. It's now or never.
I took a step into the tunnel, subconsciously pulling my black leather jacket around my body. I shifted my bags again. Another step.
"Oh God, I'm actually going through with this." Insane. Insane. Insane. "Breathe, Chihiro, breathe. He'll be there." Hopefully…
My footsteps echoed of the walls as I reached the station lobby. The fountains still dripped, the stained glass windows were still whole, and the dust was denser then before. I made the mistake of inhaling deeply. For the next few minutes I coughed hard and loud, every breath I took made me cough more. I had to get out of the room. I made it outside, still coughing with no mercy. Once the instinct to clear my lungs subsided, I took in a very deep breath of the fresh spring air. Mental note: Do not breathe deeply in dusty rooms. You will be hacking up lungs for hours.
I looked at my watch again: 7:37. Okay only a few minutes left. I can do this.
Still, I didn't look back. I couldn't, not yet at least, not until I crossed the river. I didn't take in too many details of my surroundings. I remember green grasses, old run down houses, lopsided statues, and trees. Nothing had changed; everything was just like it was seven years ago. Without stopping I leaped from stone to stone over the already running river.
I walked up the steps, fell to my knees and gasped for air. I am never running EVER again. The dust was still in my lungs. Realizing I only had a limited amount of time before I started to disappear, I stood up, took a short, memory-fusing look back as the river flooded the valley. I began my trek to the bridge.
The smell of cooking delicacies whipped past. I had forgotten how good the food was here. Even the food at the bathhouse was beyond human-world Five Star restaurant comparison.
Darkness fell as I reached the bridge and the Frogs were already out ready to greet guests. I hid next to the small garden situated beside the bridge. Either the Frogs didn't know I was there, or they just ignored me. Not only them, but the Gods and Spirits ignored me as well. It didn't bother me; the only person I wanted to notice me was Haku. I hoped with every fiber of my being he'd be outside and see me.
So, I waited, noticing that I hadn't faded yet—knock on wood.
I looked up just in time to see a dragon flying over head. I wanted to jump up, scream for it to come down. I didn't. If it noticed me it didn't show it. My eyes followed the dragon, instead of going into the bathhouse it flew to the empty yard behind the garden beside me.
Soundlessly, I slipped through the gate and walked through the garden, through another gate and arrived at an old, abandoned, neglected shack-of-a-building. I moved around the side and walked as silently as I could to the back. The already full, blooming bushes hid me from the eyes of the spirits. When I reached the corner I hesitated. I was afraid; afraid he wouldn't remember me. But how could he not remember? We saw each other in our dreams. I was afraid it wasn't him. How could it not be him? He's the only one here who's a dragon, right…? I was afraid he would reject my love.
I swallowed the doubts that plagued my mind and steped around the corner—cautiously—headfirst. I was ready to bolt down the path if it wasn't him.
A boy, no, a young man, about my age, stood in the yard alone. Shoulder length brown hair framed his face, accented his features. Pale green, almost aqua-hazel, eyes stared back at me, pierced through me. It frightened me. I wanted to run, but something…something in his eyes held me there. I took a step toward him. "Kohaku…?" I whispered almost inaudibly.
"Chihiro…?" He said louder than I did, but I still strained to hear him.
"Kohaku!" I practically yelled as tears exploded from my eyes. Running up to him, I dropped my bags and could feel my smile spread across my whole face. When I reached him I slammed into him, my momentum causing us to spin. The tears continued to fall.
He was real, I could touch him, see him, smell him. It was Haku. And at that moment, now that I look back, I realize that I loved him more than I had myself believe.
"Oh! Kohaku, I missed you so much!"
"And I you, Chihiro."
I placed a friendly kiss on his cheek as I pulled away. A slight, almost non-existent blush grazed his cheeks. I couldn't help but look into his intense eyes as his arms rested about my waist. Haku's eyes always told me what he was thinking if he didn't show or say it. A sob escaped me as I brought him into another hug. I couldn't believe it was him. I noticed he was at least a good nine inches taller than little ol' five-foot me. I had to stand on my toes to reach my arms around his neck.
I pulled away again, whipping the tears from my eyes. "I know I said I wouldn't cry," my voiced cracked, "but I can't help it."
Haku smiled, most likely his first smile in long time. "It's okay." A hand left my waist and brushed a tear away. "I wasn't expecting you until tomorrow." I nodded as his hand made its way to the back of my neck.
"I knew that if I stayed another day I would never come."
He nodded, "I understand."
I moved closer to him. He smelt of spices, a kind of natural cologne. It was a mystical smell, and it felt like I was breathing in perfect air. I could feel my judgement fall slightly, just ever so slightly. Oh God! No one knows how much I had wanted to kiss him at that moment, to be in his arms—well, I already was in his arms—to tell him that I loved him. Still, I was afraid he wouldn't think the same way. Instead of smothering him with kisses, I hugged him again, then placed my forehead against his. He kissed my forehead, my cheeks burned. "You're too tall." I stated as I slightly slipped out of his grasp a few minutes later.
"Is that a problem?"
"No, no! Not at all!" Laughing, I brought up my hand to brush my tears away only to find I could see through it.
Haku held up his hand, silencing my plea. Instantly, he moved over to one of the bushes—taking his comforting embrace with him—grabbed a red berry, and told me to eat it. I did so with out hesitation. A bitter taste exploded over my tongue. I could feel my face scrunch up. Wanted to gag, spit it out, anything besides shoving it down my throat, but I had to swallow or else I'd disappear forever. With effort I swallowed the berry, forcing my gagging reflexes to relax. "They're more bitter than I remember…" I stated and glared at Haku. He just simply shrugged his shoulders and attempted to hide a smile. I tried to keep a straight face too, alas to no avail.
Haku held up his hand, again, and I brushed my fingertips against it. A warm fuzzy feeling swept over me. It was like I had just stuck my bare hand in snow for ten minutes and then shoved it in front of a bonfire. I shivered as the sensation ran through my body, and I was whole again.
"Come, I must take you to Yubaba, she's been waiting for you." He picked up my bag and handed it to me. "I can't carry it or the others will get suspicious."
"Yeah right, you're just lazy!" I said placing the bags on my shoulders.
Haku nodded and smiled, "You could say that," I snorted, proud that I had seen through him. "But it wouldn't be right."
We headed around the building, Haku in front. "Do you think you could hold your breath?"
I nodded, "Yes."
I took a deep breath as we reached the bridge. I flashed back to seven years ago; Haku was in front of me telling me when to breath, telling me I was doing well, and then that stupid Frog made me gasp! I had always wondered what would've happened to me if I hadn't breathed. Would I be here at this moment, would I have stayed here and already have a relationship with Haku, or would Haku just like me as a friend? I shivered; I didn't want Haku to think of me as just as a friend. It would break my heart.
I rested my head against Haku's back and looked at the ground. I did not want to see something that would make me breathe, take me by surprise. The best thing to do was close my eyes and let Haku lead me across. Then I heard someone speak to him.
"Haku! Yubaba has been waiting for you! Where have you been?"
I snaked my head over Haku's shoulder. "Only a few more feet." He whispered to me. To the person he said, "I'm coming!"
I followed Haku's general direction of sight and what I saw surprised me, not enough to make me breathe, thank God! A young man, about my age, was standing off the side of the bridge. He looked relatively human and even though he bared no resemblance to Haku, there seemed a strange familiarity between the two. Like Haku, he was tall, not as tall as Haku, but still really tall. And he wore the same out fit, except the parts were Haku's fabric was blue, his was green. Unlike Haku, his eyes were dark green. Tied back with a regular leather tie, his long black hair—probably as long as mine—was fashioned into a tight baraid. However, it wasn't his looks that gave me the heebie-jeebies. His cold, hard eyes made my skin crawl and his aura wasn't too pleasant, something very close to hatred was the strongest feeling I received. Though something about him gave me the feeling that all he needed was someone to break through his barrier and open up his heart.
I still held my breath as we stepped of the bridge; my lungs were beginning to burn. "You can breathe now." Haku whispered. I shook my head, now rested against his back. "Breathe, no one can see you now."
Hesitantly I relaxed, and breathed, but stayed behind Haku as he walked over to the black-haired teen.
"Where were you?" The teen asked coldly.
"I was held up." Haku responded.
The teen stared non-pulsed, completely showing he thought Haku's response was bull shit. The three of us moved into the bathhouse and found the closest elevator, and unlike last time when Lin and I made our way to Yubaba's office, this elevator went to directly to the top level.
There was an uneasy silence the whole journey. Apparently the two had nothing to talk about and it seemed the silence was nothing new. We walked down the long elaborately decorated halls. I kept my gaze on the teen, every once and while he would look in my general direction out of the corner of his eye. I could tell he suspected something.
When we reached the doors to Yubaba's quarters, he looked right at me, right into my eyes and bore into my soul. He then looked at Haku, his glare cold and hard. "Whatever you are hiding, you don't need to hide it any more." He said just as cold.
We stopped. I could feel the protective barrier fall as Haku turned toward the teen. He said nothing but I guessed his look struck a bit fear in the black-haired teen. Haku grabbed my arm and pulled me out from behind him. "This is Sen." I can't say it didn't take me by surprise when Haku called me Sen, but I guess he had a good reason to. "Sen this is Koto. He is Yubaba's new apprentice." I nodded.
"A human?" Koto asked condescendingly.
"Yes, a human. So what?" I retorted. Haku placed his hand on my shoulder, a silent plea, clam down.
"I'm calm." I snapped shaking Haku's hand off no matter how much I loved it being there. I saw Koto smirk. I glared.
"She does have a lively vigor about her." Koto said. "She will make a good whore. All humans are."
"What!" I screamed with indignation. "I dare you to say that again, you pig-headed beach ball!"
He smiled, "You will make a good whore."
I dropped my bags and charged him. No one calls me a whore. No one! However, before I could reach him, and karate-chop his ungrateful head. Haku had me pinned against the hall's wall.
"No." He simply stated.
"No," he said again his gaze softened but I was still pinned. "Yubaba won't hire you again if you kill him."
"It'll be worth it."
"Damn it Haku!"
"I said no." He paused, "Leave your bags here. I'll take them to Kamaji."
I took a deep breath as I reluctantly relaxed against the wall. Haku cautiously let me go. Koto stood off to the side smiling. He laughed. I growled—something I had been working on since junior high. "I'll find out where you sleep and then chop you up into a thousand tiny pieces, you chauvinistic cockroach."
"I'd like to see you try."
As I walked past Haku I heard him whisper. "I'll take care of him." He rolled up a sleeve. I smirked; Koto wouldn't have a chance against Haku. I walked into the already open doors.
"Chihiro, you're back, eh?" Yubaba said, half-sneering and half-intrigued. She never looked up from her papers. "Haku told me you would come back, but I paid him no heed. I thought it was a mindless promise." She looked at me furtively. "I don't understand why you'd come back."
I didn't honor the statement.
"Could it be you stumbled upon this world, again, and accidentally were trapped here?"
Still I said nothing.
"Could you be running away from an ungrateful home?"
"Yubaba, please, let me work here." I was tired and needed rest. Standing there with Yubaba spouting off mindless drivel wasn't what I wanted to do with my time.
"Or could you have strong feelings for a certain someone?" She smirked.
I swallowed, I knew the moment she looked at me that she could see right through me.
"I don't want this place to turn into a brothel house, you hear."
"It won't, and why do people think I'm a whore? I'm not!" I paused. "Please, let me work here!"
"Ah! So, you met Koto…"
Yes, unfortunately… I nodded my head. "Please let me work here."
"Why should I let you work here?" She snapped, leaning over her desk. "You brought nothing but trouble to this bathhouse seven years ago." I bit my lip. "You cost me thousands of dollars-"
"Please, Yubaba! Let me work here. Nothing that happened seven years ago will happen again. I'll do… anything just please let me work here."
"So you can be with Haku…?" Before I could open my mouth she interrupted me. "Answer truthfully, or else I might have to turn you into a pig. Your parents were plump, you might be too."
I swallowed. I didn't want to admit I had feelings for Haku. Not yet, not until I knew he felt the same way. Then again, I didn't want to be a pig.
I bit my lip. "Yes…"
"You have feelings for that boy?" She stressed 'feelings', almost with disdain, but more with amusement.
"I might. Please let me work here."
"You're an annoying little brat…but… there have been some people asking for help."
I smiled as a piece of paper and a pen flew toward me. "Thank you." The bell rang as I signed my name, making sure I wrote it on my hand first. The pen and paper flew out of my hands once I was done.
"You are now Sen. You got that, Sen?"
"You rang?" I looked to my left and saw my man, my Haku, standing near the door. The same hair, same eyes, same outfit; I hoped he wouldn't be as harsh as he was so long ago. Little did he know back then, his opinion mattered. It was the world to me seven years ago, and even more so now.
"I'm sure you remember Sen. Watch her."
Review, tell me what you think.