Blue Impulse
By Famira Damaris

Disclaimer: Nope. Don't own Spirited Away or the characters.
Author's Notes: 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. I'll go into introspection once I get a few chapters into the fic - I'm just setting some stuff up.

Er…title doesn't mean much. Just was listening to a DDR song. xX;

Italics for thoughts, emphasis, sound effects
Summary: Kohaku, finding himself suddenly in the Spirit World, has lost his name to Yubaba in order to become her apprentice. And that's only the beginning...

Blue Impulse

A Simple Errand

That incident had been several days ago. By then, word had already gotten around that some strange boy out of nowhere was now serving Yubaba – he wasn't part of the normal staff and his duties were unknown. But of course he would still have to be respected. Haku was startled to start hearing a chorus of "Master Haku" wherever he went – but it was only a pretense. Nothing more. Just a precaution in case he went and "ratted" on them, he supposed. Not that he was interested in playing henchman. But neither was he interested in getting a repeat of Yubaba's discipline; he suspected that what had happened earlier was on the light side.

Today, he was told to settle a dispute between two of the departments. Something petty. Something having to do with whether the herbal bath tokens should be made of wood or metal. Haku could swear his brain was going to implode at the sheer absurdity of the situation as the two department heads glared at each other and tried to talk at the same time, doing their best to drown the other out.

"Steel is too heavy, Shige!"

"Wood'll rot – in case you haven't noticed, we're surrounded by water!"

The long-faced woman fisted her hands and shoved them on her wide hips, staring down stubbornly at the squat, frog-faced Shige.

"We can't use metal – we've always been using wood and our customers won't like the change!"

"We have to improve, Morita! Those very same customers would just love to see moldy bath tokens, wouldn't they?"

Haku very much wanted to ball his fists into his eyes. Or at least gouge out his ears – this whole thing was ridiculous. Neither was better than the other, since they both had their own advantages and disadvantages. But the woman and the frog-spirit were adamant; each convinced they were right and the other wrong several times over. He had been listening to their bickering for the past fifteen minutes. Any longer and he was afraid they would start repeating themselves. He didn't think he could take another round of this: his patience didn't extend that far.

The duo were about to go at it again, but they froze when Haku interjected:

"That's enough."

The two department heads fell silent at his quiet voice, although they continued to shoot daggers at each other.

"Let me get this straight," Haku said, allowing some of his exasperation show. "You," his eyes turned on Morita, "think we should stick with wood. Wood is traditional and easier to retrieve. You," his eyes now turned on Shige, "think we need to change and go with steel. Steel is more durable and not prone to rotting. Correct?"

The two nodded warily.

Haku thought about it quickly, holding up a hand before Morita or Shige could interrupt, "It would cost too much money to convert to steel – you know how Yubaba is with money. Go with wood – if they're lost in one of the baths, it's not a hassle to retrieve them. But you're going to have to put water-proof coating on them to prevent rotting."

Shige looked put-out, his wide gray mouth turning down, disgruntled. Morita's own expression was one of smugness, her red lips starting to turn up as she realized she had won a minor victory. Haku wondered for a brief second if he should add anything more, but, glancing from face to face, decided it wasn't worth it. Without further word, he turned and continued down the hall, leaving the two to continue their argument if they wished.

Haku let out a relieved breath, his dark brown bangs flipping up at the gesture. He had never expected he would be where he was now. At the moment, he was on a sort of "stand-by", awaiting orders from Yubaba. She had hinted brusquely that he was going to have to run some sort of "errand", but hadn't said anything further. She would probably send that bird after him or something.

The lithe spirit made his ways down the hall, passing the decorated shoji screens of the private rooms. From what he gathered, the rest of those working under Yubaba were to treat him like some little lord. Not only were they calling him "Master Haku" when they addressed him, they always seemed to jump to attention whenever he walked into a room. It was…strange. Haku wasn't used to this kind of attention. He wasn't sure he very much liked it either, since some of the workers were practically fawning at his feet, hoping he'd give a good word about them to the mistress of the bathhouse.

He sucked in a breath and let it out heavily. Too stifling, too heavy. How anyone could enjoy being here was beyond him. I don't think the staff need to be constantly supervised by me. The "crisis" with the bath tokens was over, as far as he was concerned. That left him free to do whatever he wanted, so long as he didn't leave the premises of the large island. The thought of going outside was much more appealing than wandering around here. At least he would have some time to himself.

Haku headed for the nearest window. Reaching it, he undid the latch and slid it open. A gust of cold air greeted him, the scent of flowers from the orchids and the tell-tale signs of a spring shower. The brunette stole a quick glance behind him as he lifted himself onto the window sill, making sure that no one was running after him for another last minute "judgment". The corridor was empty. Thanking whatever higher gods might be watching him, Haku let himself fall.

The air rushing past his face was refreshing, the sensation of plummeting in a free-fall even more so. Haku caught himself before he hit the rocky ground, keeping level as he headed toward the cliffs he had seen earlier from Yubaba's balcony. It had been a while since he had last flown and, the more he thought about it, the more he realized he had taken it for granted. He couldn't travel long distances in this form (his dragon-shape was far more suited to endurance) but, he had to admit, it was pleasing to feel the wind tousling his hair, tickling his bare pale skin playfully.

Passing under the shadow of the towering building he had just left, Haku searched for a place to land. The water was shallow here – so clear he could see the schools of small silvery fish darting along the train tracks. Large boulders, once part of the cliff, had tumbled down and remained nestled at the base.

I must be near the boiler room. A pang of shame. When Haku had first wandered in, it had been Kamaji who had helped him – instead of trying to treat him as some prospective customer and scoot him off to one of the baths, the old boiler man had pulled him aside and told him where he was and who might be able to help him. Of course Kamaji had been very gruff and to the point, but nonetheless, Haku appreciated the gesture. He still hadn't thanked him.

I'll do it after this errand of Yubaba's, Haku promised himself, perched on a wave-splashed rock and glancing up at the orange glow emitted from the boiler room. The main chimney, towering straight into the sky, noisily belched forth greasy black smoke. Although the "help" wasn't anything he had expected, it was better than nothing. At least this way he still had a chance. Yes. He would thank Kamaji when he could.

The problem with flying was that one got used to it far too quickly. Which only made the trek up the winding stone stairs that much more irksome.

The stairs, of course, were the only option. He had been told that never would he be permitted to fly anywhere near Yubaba's offices and, if he was caught even once breaking that rule, there would be severe consequences. So stairs it was. Ill-lit and gloomy, they spiraled up into the darkness, a warm orange light still visible from the bottom. Haku kept one hand on the rough wall – there were no rails – and made his way up. Only minutes before, the Yu bird had appeared, cawing obnoxiously at him on the rocks.

I wonder what she's going to have me do? Haku couldn't help but feel uneasy. He would do a great deal to get back the name he had so foolishly signed away and find just what had happened to his Within. He was willing to lie, to deceive, and to steal if he had to. All things he was pretty sure he had never done before. He didn't know how many enemies Yubaba might have in this world, but he didn't think he would be able to go so far as, well, kill anything. Technically, you can't "kill" a spirit or a god, at least not in that sense…but still.

Well, he would have to see what Yubaba wanted him to do. No point in trying to second-guess her.

By the time he had finally reached the top flight and the heavily decorated oak door, he was chagrined to find he was slightly winded. Mentally reminding himself to spend less time flying and more time walking, he gave a single rap with his knuckles.

The bronze eyes on the eagle-headed knocker flicked about and settled blindly on Haku.

"Took you long enough. Come in – but quietly! Don't you dare make a noise."

Haku let himself in, closing the heavy door behind him slowly so it wouldn't thud against the frame. Still wondering what the threats were for, he took special care in making his already quiet footstep silent. Padding noiselessly across the lacquered floors and then onto the expensive carpet of the room next to the balcony, he glanced about for Yubaba. The witch was nowhere to be seen. Only the desk (far smaller than the one in the office), a few forlorn tapestries and the potted plants placed seemingly at random along the walls. The Yu bird was roosting beyond the glass sliders on the balcony banister, withered head resting on its feathered breast.

His large green eyes blinked, the slightly reptilian pupils contracting in confusion. One minute passed. Another. Still no sight of Yubaba.

Was this some sort of game?

Apparently not. The sound of a door closing to his right and he automatically turned to track the noise – pushing aside the drapes hanging from the ceiling, Yubaba entered, smoothing her steel-colored hair into place and rolling her red sleeves back down. Today she had opted for something more conservative than her usual blue gown, the puffy embroidered shoulders in danger of shadowing her face.

"My baby's taking a nap – I don't want him disturbed," Yubaba finished touching herself up and regarded Haku, mouth turning down in a frown that was beginning to look increasingly familiar to Haku. "Well?"

Haku returned the gaze, taken back. Well what? Had he missed something?

Yubaba threw up her hands with a muffled sound of scornful frustration, oblivious to the fact that she hadn't told him anything about the mission yet. Shooting an irritated glance at the slender boy standing in the middle of the carpet, she settled into a cushioned chair and began fishing about for a cigarette.

"Not very quick on the uptake, are we?" Haku wisely kept his mouth shut. "Ah." Locating a cigarette, the witch casually lit it with the small ball of flame that appeared at her fingertip.

Haku's eyes were no longer on her face, but on the small fireball. A small display of magic, but it was a start. Running mentally over everything he had seen her just do, he decided he could probably copy that little parlor trick successfully. It would be the much bigger spells he would have trouble with; as his own had been, as far as he could remember, purely defensive. Those couldn't be learned through just observation. The slanted eyes slid away before Yubaba was aware of anything.

"I'm only going to brief you once and only once. If you mess this up – this simple task – you can find someone else to take you on as an apprentice."

Haku bristled inwardly. She wasn't even giving him a chance.

"Get this right and maybe I might have a thing or two to teach you," Yubaba said, exhaling a cloud of smoke in derision.

Haku waited.

Yubaba stared down her long nose at the young boy. "I've heard news that the railway system is going to be fixed. It's beneficial to this establishment that it remains one-way – otherwise I would have workers breaking their contracts left and right to hop on the next train that ran through. Nothing would get done and business would drop." A thought out-loud, more to herself than to her servant. "Better not tamper with it now, though," she stubbed the cigarette out on the nearest ashtray. "You'll go to the main station and verify this. I want solid proof, Haku."

Sounds easy enough. He was relieved to find that this mission didn't sound too bad.

"Oh…and one more thing…"

That "one more thing" certainly didn't make things easier.

Winding through the noon sky, Haku rolled the small bag Yubaba had given him on his serpentine tongue, careful to keep his long snout shut around it. His long teeth clamped down, forming a prison around the bag. Best not to risk dropping it in the miles of ocean down below – he'd never find it. And he couldn't carry it in his claws – they weren't made for that sort of gripping – so this was the only alternative.

Haku had left as soon as Yubaba had given him the blue velveteen bag, whispering a quick spell to protect it from his "crude" handling. Jumping off the balcony and half-running down the sharply sloping roof, the young boy had changed forms just as he had pushed himself off into empty air. A long muzzle replaced his human face, the green eyes lengthening as his hair sprouted into a thick mane. Horns curled up majestically from his temples as his skin grew silver scales. He had managed to get the bag between his sharpening teeth before he lost the use of his forearms.

The silver dragon kept his eyes forward, his long body sliding through the air with ease behind him. His inhuman face, to all appearances, was calm. But, truth be told, Haku was concerned. His curiosity was going to get the better of him, no matter how many times he tried to cast it away: just what was in that bag? He had been thinking about it ever since he had left the bathhouse a few hours ago. Was it some foul magic, some black totem? Or simply an innocuous good-will gift between business partners? Surely it wouldn't matter if…

Haku shook his head, letting out an admonishing growl around his fangs. No. Don't even think about it, he ordered himself. For all he knew, that tiny bag could be holding some powerful spell, ready to explode in his face. Even if it was just gift…no. No no no. No, he added in for good measure. Either way, Yubaba would know that he couldn't control his own curiosity. And, weighing up the stakes, he decided that maybe even a little peek wasn't worth it.

He wasn't about to risk his chances just for curiosity's sake.

Squashing down all this thoughts, the spirit focused on the work ahead. The ocean glittered past underneath him, a blue stretch of water. The sky in the distance was darkening as spring clouds gathered on the horizon. Haku sped up, his body twisting and uncurling behind him as he flew, thousands of feet, above the ocean. If he was lucky, he could catch the train and follow it. It had left before he did, but he was sure he could catch up to it. He wouldn't be able to find the main station without it.

By the time he finally caught sight of the train, he had reached the wall of clouds. From afar, they had looked harmless – up close, though, they were much more ugly, swelling and roiling boisterously with their load. The train itself was a small metal rectangle, light pouring from the windows as it crept along the track. Shooting a wary glance at the storm clouds, Haku lowered his altitude. At his current speed, he would be able to pace the train, but the coming rain might prove to be a problem. And if the wind picked up – at these heights, especially – it would be difficult to navigate.

Haku swept down, angling his long body gracefully.

The first rumble of thunder. Further ahead, a lance of bright lightning flashed and disappeared. Another flickered across the darkening ceiling of clouds. For a while, the clouds were content merely to have a light show, the bolts of electricity dancing along the surface and striking the water below. Haku, at first concerned he might be hit, relaxed. They were farther than he had thought. Still, they were pretty, in a fashion. But there was something strange about the phenomenon; something significant –

- a pink shoe, bobbing merrily on a wave-crest as the sky lit up with a crack –

Haku shook his furred muzzle, dazed. Pink…shoe? He only had a few seconds to wonder if he had been hallucinating, for the storm, having decided it was bored with simply slinging lightning, let loose its contents. Water pounded down with a deafening hiss and the wind began to race forward in gusts. Gritting his fangs together around the velveteen bag, Haku fought to maintain his course. His dragon-body thrashed furiously behind him as he struggled to fly lower. The train, oblivious to the weather, chugged onward. The air whistled angrily, pulling at the whiskers of his snout and spraying him with sheets of rain.

Simple she says. Haku bowed his head against the rain. This wasn't at all simple – and Yubaba had known the storm was coming, he realized belatedly. She had been monitoring it for a while: he had seen her turn toward the east yesterday and stare with a strange little smile at the horizon. And so she had sent him straight into the blasted thing. Was this some sort of test? Or just an act of malice? With her it was hard to tell and he really didn't have the time to be thinking about that right now.

The gusts of wind were threatening to bowl the silver dragon head over tail. Haku did his best to keep all his limbs close to his body, fighting to follow the train. The wind was constantly changing direction – coming from the left, then right, faltering only to return in full force. Water blurred into his eyes; he could no longer see the train below him, only streaks of color that blended into each other. A swell of panic. Where is it?

Afraid he would lose the train, Haku pushed blindly forward, lifting his head in an attempt to shake the water from his eyes.

That proved to be a mistake.

A particularly strong tendril of wind snuck in under his snout, the powerful current of air lifting the length of his body higher into the air. With a surprised roar – Haku snapped his fangs around the bag before it flew away – the dragon was flipped over. And before he was aware of it, he was at the mercy of the storm. Claws of wind attacked him from all sides, wrenching at his limbs and trying to bend them backwards. No matter how many times he struggled to flip over, to right himself, he was always rolled over. The world whirled – a wet confusing black and blue mess – as Haku went tumbling through the sky, tossed about like a silver thread.

- a startled, human shriek –

- something had fallen in and was flailing in pure fear -

He was spinning dizzily, falling – a frantic voice in the back of his head screamed that he was going to hit the train tracks – as he re-oriented himself. His eyes widened as he saw the long line of the rails rapidly approaching. No! Desperately, he pulled up, white spots appearing in his range of vision from the strain.

A thick, dull thud as his scaled stomach grazed against the moist train tracks and slid off. Careening out of control, his stomach protesting in bruised pain, Haku sent up an enormous splash as he rolled violently off the raised track and into the dark water.

He must have lost consciousness for a few seconds, because the next thing he knew, he was sinking, the underside of his snout dragging along the side of the smooth rock supporting the track. The surface of the ocean above wavered. A few bubbles escaped from the dragon's mouth and drifted upward. His tail slashing from side to side in crocodilian fashion, Haku hastily swam to the surface, his long claws scrabbling.

Finally, his head broke through. Clearing the salt-water from his nostrils with a fierce snort and shaking his head to clear it (the blossoming head-ache didn't go away), Haku paused to catch a breath. It was only with an effort that he dragged the rest of his body onto the empty train tracks. An insistent cough welled in his throat, waiting to explode. Quickly setting down the blue bag between his claws, he began hacking, spitting sea-water and wondering just what else he had swallowed. Lifting his scaled head, exhausted, Haku wasn't surprised to see that he had lost sight of the train.

This almost seemed too convenient.

Above the storm raged with its hurricane-winds; he would think twice before attempting to fly again. It didn't show any signs of abating either. Haku felt a surge of desolation, craning his head to stare up at the threatening black clouds. He had relied on his speed of flight to get this over quickly and now that was gone. How could I have failed? And right at the beginning, too. It was just…unthinkable. Ironic. How could this have happened?

For several minutes, his mind ran in little circles, berating himself for what he could have done, for what he should have done. He wanted to blame someone and the only person here was himself. Without the train's guidance, how could he tell which stop was the main stop? It was hopeless. Yubaba had made it seem like they were all the same and this was the first time he had traveled this far, how would he know which was which?

…And I suppose feeling sorry for myself is productive. That sudden thought made him straighten. That was right – he wasn't doing any good just dwelling on all the things he didn't do. What mattered, in the end, was what he was going to do now. He still had the bag and he still had to return with the "solid proof". At this distance, he couldn't just turn around. It was too far. I'll have to follow the tracks until the storm abates. Then he could seek out the train again. This doesn't mean I can't continue. It wasn't the end of the world. He could recover from this. Only…it would take longer. Longer than he had anticipated. It certainly wouldn't make Yubaba think any better of him.

Haku shed his dragon-shape. Still on all fours, he squinted through the rain. His vision was good – very good – but he could only see a few miles, and then only gloom and more gloom. How enjoyable, he decided dryly. It wouldn't matter much whether he went four-legged or two, not in this weather. Haku stood up, his long hair whipping wildly about in the wind.

Track behind him. The very same track before him. If he had gotten turned around, it would be all too easy to get lost.

Collecting the midnight blue bag, Haku placed it inside his white tunic for safe keeping. Without looking back, he set off down the railroad.


Yeah, it was going to be longer, but I got it down. I decided I wasn't going to do the usual and type a twenty-thirty page chapter because it takes too long and it's draining. :P Anyway, once again, just setting the situation up. :\ I think this fic could use a lot of work, but then again, I'm not really sure where I'm going with it. xX; I haven't been writing in a LONG time, so this is an exercise to brush up on my writing. This is really just filler, in my opinion. Not too good, but meh.

On another note, I finished my Haku oekaki ("Kohaku"). I'm entering it in the Fanart Central Contest 6. ^^; I think it came out decently, but Haku looks uber-old. xX; He looks like an evil seme about to pounce on someone. If you want to see it, e-mail me. I'll give you the link, since I have trouble posting links on fanfics. xX; My e-mail is

- Famira Damaris