So, I wasn't going to write any more Sen fic, but circumstances - and people - conspired against me. Thanks go to Meia for putting up with snatches of fic in AIM chat windows, Silverlight for pre-reading, and Kristin Olsen (without whom this would almost definitely not exist) for encouraging me.

Halfway to Anywhere

"Stop to think before you
Hold on to your realities
Nothing compares to someone true."
- Tenkuu no Escaflowne

They spent almost all of her free time together now. She knew her parents were worrying about her spending so much time alone with this strange boy, and the girls at school gossiped to no end, but Chihiro really didn't care what they thought.

Remembering wasn't everything she'd expected it would be. When she'd been in the world of the gods, all she'd wanted was to come home. Now she was home, and she remembered, and she wanted to return there.

It just wasn't fair.

"I can never go back, can I?" she asked him, lying back and stretching against the grass on the riverbank. It was one of those beautiful summer days that had always left her with a strangely wistful feeling - but now she could recall the memory of that one mysterious excursion into an abandoned "theme park", and it didn't seem so strange any more.

He shook his head, slowly. "Yubaba won't give you another job, even if you ask." He looked away from her. "And I can't go back either."

Truth be told, it hadn't exactly been the happiest time of her life. But somehow, looking back, all the fear and sorrow and pain seemed to melt away and all she remembered was the people she had loved. "I miss them, that's all." Lin and Kamaji and Bou and Zeniba and even Kaonashi.

He squeezed her hand.

"And... it was exciting, even when I was scared to death. Every child wants an adventure." At least she now knew what she'd been missing ever since they'd moved to this town. "Everything here just seems so... ordinary."

Sitting up to lean over the river, she let the water run through her fingers and watched the ripples rejoin the lazy waters as they made their way along the channel.

"Magic exists here too, you know," he told her. "It's just not as obvious."

She glanced at him, and he showed her how he could speak with the water in the river and have it bend to his will.

"When we met in that world, you called to the water within me to let me free. Can you do that with all water, even in living things?"

He smiled at her. "It really depends."

On what, he would never say.

Still, every now and then he would stop and exchange a few words with a cat, or maybe a fox, and she'd be reminded of how different the world must be for him. She wondered what it looked like through his eyes. Did he see gods and spirits in everything, where blind human eyes saw only trees and earth and water?

She still found herself calling him "Haku". He didn't seem to mind, even if it was only the name given to him by Yubaba.

"You found my name. It's as much yours as it is mine."

Chihiro shook her head. "I only found the name of the river. You remembered your name all on your own."

He smiled at her again. "I was never so surprised in my life as I was in that moment. You gave me back all the hope I had lost."

She blushed. "Anyway. If you give me your name, you might forget it again. So you'd better keep it safe, and I'll try to call you Kohaku." She paused for a second. "After all, you don't call me Sen."

"Chihiro is a much prettier name," he said. "And you always were Chihiro to me."

"Now, just because I have a lousy human memory..." she said, smiling to show it was a joke.

He took her seriously. "It would be safer, if you didn't remember. The spirit world is no place for humans."

"But...?" she said, sensing there was more.

"But... I just couldn't let you go." He smiled fondly at her. "Particularly not once I'd seen you again."

"Oh," she said. "I, um... I - I'm sorry I forgot." Which wasn't what she wanted to say at all. "But I'm happy I remember now," she continued. "I... I'm glad you came back." It was a lost cause. Really, how did you say you l-

She l-

He was a god, after all. And even if girls married dragons in stories, in real life it felt... different.

He pulled her hand close to his heart. "I told you, didn't I? That we'd definitely meet again."

"Did you know?" she asked, curiously. "Back then, did you know I wouldn't remember?"

He looked at her evenly. "Does it matter?"

She thought for a moment. "No."

Chihiro tried to imagine what it would have been like if she had remembered. Living every day knowing he'd promised they'd meet again, but not knowing when or where or how... It had been years. She would surely have died of the pain of waiting long before that day arrived.

"Would you like to go somewhere?" he asked, startling her out of her thoughts.

"What?"

He gestured around him with the hand that wasn't attached to hers. "It's a beautiful summer day. I thought you might want to..." he paused for a second, and looked embarrassed. "To come somewhere with me."

"Oh. Yes," she said, dreamily, "that sounds nice." Anything would be nice, with him. She wanted to see him transform, she wanted to fly above the clouds and watch the world beneath turn into a sea of fluffy white...

"Fly me to the moon," she told him - the lyrics to some song in English that had been fairly popular a few years back. And then she remembered how that song continued, and began to blush. [1]

Dragons, apparently, weren't too informed with pop culture. "I don't think..."

"Just fly, then," she said, quickly. "Anywhere. I just want to fly."

"Come on, then," he said, pulling at her wrist.

Together, they began to run along the riverbank, faster and faster until she felt she couldn't even breathe -

running over the bridge, then flying at ground level disturbing the skirts of the girls, all the time with the horrible knowledge that she'd failed, that she could die for this

- and then they were flying, and then, without any knowledge of a transition, she was on the back of the dragon, soaring into the sky. His tail whipped at the wind as they wound their way higher and higher into the air...

She loved the way Haku moved as they climbed. Smooth and powerful, like they were swimming in the air.

And of course, this was the feeling she'd been trying to capture on her bicycle these past few years. It was nothing in comparison.

He was right. It was dangerous for her to remember. She ran the risk of never being able to settle into the human world, of always wanting more of the magic, of the wonder...

She didn't care. She had him.

Her decision made, she took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

"Haku... I love you," she whispered to the wind.

He froze, and for a moment she thought he was going to transform, like he had the last time she'd surprised him in flight. She mentally prepared herself for freefall.

::Don't be scared. I would never let you fall.:: His voice echoed in her mind, warm and amused.

"I'm not," she protested. "I know."

::Good. Just so you know.::

She pressed her cheek to his neck and hugged his body tighter. "So beautiful..."

::Oh, and Chihiro?::

"Mm?"

::I love you too.::

Footnotes:
- [1] "Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars. Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars. In other words, hold my hand. In other words, darling, kiss me. Fill my life with song and let me sing forever more. You are all I hope for, all I worship and adore. In other words, please be true... In other words, I love you." And if Chihiro doesn't know that after the never-ending versions on the Evangelion OSTs...
- The title is lifted from a lyric from "Anywhere", by Evanescence on the album Origin. "We'll be half way to anywhere / Where love is more than just your name."
- The quote at the beginning of the story comes from "I Recommend Instincts", from the third Tenkuu no Escaflowne soundtrack. "Call Your Name" was also titled after an Escaflowne song, despite the quote. (The Escaflowne soundtrack provided many amusing/appropriate title ideas. "Flying Dragon" being a notable example.) As for why I used the quote, it was because the notion of letting go of your realities became rather significant later in the story.