Fate and Snow
"Don't use your magic!!!"
Her cry rose and pierced through the air with such force Haku began to stagger in disbelief.
"Haku," she began to sob, "I beg of you! I beg of you, please don't." Tears streamed down her face as she struggled still against Kenji, and Haku felt as if he had crashed into a wall. "Don't use your magic...please...no!"
Fireworks scream and crashed, and the crowd's gasps and applause seem to echo them. All was still in the night as vendors took a moment to enjoy the spectacle, and even children were hushed and quiet.
But on an empty alley off a main street in Tokyo, turmoil was taking place physically and emotionally.
Haku stepped closer, slowly, his eyes wide and wary. Her words of warning had sent a pang into his stomach that now ached deep in his chest.
Chihiro had managed to jerk herself away and she reached for Haku, saying, " I have to tell you—"
Kenji snatches out to her, and without thought Haku reacted. His magic sliced through the air to strike Kenji in the chest. It sent him reeling backwards. Chihiro gasped, dropped down to her knees, her skirts billowing around her. A firework splayed in the sky, flooding the alley with red light. She lifted a hand to her mouth, her eyes wide and brimming with a sudden surge of tears.
Haku advanced on Kenji, and with a swish and flick of his wrist he sent him away. Kenji stumbled out of the alley drunkenly, enchanted, and Haku saw his retreating form take down the street.
He turned around to see Chihiro kneeling on the cement, her curls limp and her hand still over her mouth. Those shocked tears that made her face tragic.
Her gown was around her in a waving heap of sparkling white that glittered like the snow at sunset. A broken angel, she seemed to be, and he longed to know why she feared him using his magic so.
He approached her slowly, without wariness but with sure and deliberate steps. He kneeled before her and held out his hand to her face, though with no real purpose beyond a comforting gesture.
"You made him go away." Haku nodded. "It was you...the first time, he went away so suddenly. It was you—your magic...that did it." He nodded again. "My hand," She reached out her hand and stared at it blankly. "When I hurt it, it healed so quickly—that too...it was you." She pitched forward with a sudden sob, catching herself with her hand, her fingers splayed out on the ground. She shook her head. She shook it and would not look at him, and he watched her patiently.
"You can't go back." She finally said, and her words surprised him. "Once you have used your magic in this world you are bound to it. You can never return, now—oh, Haku!" She looked to him suddenly. His face was serene, calm, almost void of emotion.
"I cannot—I will not—see your fate!" She exclaimed. "I will not watch you suffer. I will not see you forced to stay in this world. I have seen you stumble and fall every day. With everything you do not understand or can never understand in this world. I will not see your glory fade! I will not!"
He watched her with no change of expression, no movement, and silence lingered for several moments before he leant forward, just a bit closer to her.
"My magic was always used for you, to protect you. I have no regrets. I fear not my fate, and the past...is always written in stone." He lifted a slender finger and swept it across her cheek, wiping away tears that glistened there.
And he stood, his shoes tapping against the cement.
"Come home, Chihiro, when you wish." And he walked away. Leaving her kneeling there in the still silence. He came to the street, and turned around. She was bent over now, he could see her crying, her form blue and then green and then gold from the fireworks still ongoing.
He lifted his hand, palm-side up, and blew gently across it. A sudden breeze kicked up, and snow began to lightly fall in the late spring evening. He closed his eyes, lost in a memory.
"It's cold up here, Haku!" She held on to his arm tighter as they soared through the sky. "Almost like winter."
"You should be thinking about what's going to happen when we get back to the bathhouse, Chihiro," he commented. "I don't know what Yubaba—"
"I like winter," She continued. Haku smiled mildly to himself, almost chuckling at how she ignored his council. "Especially snow. I love snow."
"Can you make snow, Haku? With your magic?"
"Yes, I can." was all he said.
"Promise to make me some, someday?" He chuckled. "Promise, Haku?"
"I promise, Chihiro."
The flakes caught in his hair, drifted and swirled around Chihiro. He turned and left, tears streaming his smooth, alabaster cheeks.
Chihiro walked into her apartment close to nine the next morning. She had wandered through Tokyo through the night, too distraught to do anything else. Especially come back. And Haku had told her to come home when she wished. And it was now that she wished.
But she came home to an empty apartment. Yenshi was gone somewhere, her radio still on in her bedroom, and Haku was nowhere to be seen.
She changed her clothes and came to the kitchen, reaching into the refrigerator for a bottle of water. Something fluttered above her, and she looked up to find a letter stuck to the freezer door.
In Haku's flowing handwriting "Chihiro" was written across the front of it, and with a sudden jerk of her body she ran into his room without another thought. All his belongings were gone. His room was stripped of everything that was his, everything he had acquired.
She went back into the kitchen in a daze, collapsing on the floor to read his letter.
This morning I am taking a train to another city in Japan. When you read this I may or not already be on my way. I thank you for everything you have done for me, and beg you to say goodbye to Yenshi for me, and thank her as well.
As I told you last night I have no regrets. I came as I had always planned and hoped. If given the choice of coming to your world and being told I could never come back, before I came, I still would have chosen to come. Even if things did not occur as I had hoped they would.
Those years after you left my world, every moment I anticipated when I would make the journey to yours. Every day I appealed to Yubaba to let me leave, and every night I would think of what would happen when I would see you again.
I had always hoped and wished, Chihiro, to come to your world and be with you. Perhaps my fantasies drove me to believe that somehow we could be together as I wished us to be. But whatever the case, my hopes, my assumptions, had always been that.
I loved you, Chihiro, before I came, while I was near you, and love you still. I doubt that will ever change. I don't wish it to.
I see now that you wished me to return to my world, where I seem to belong. It is too late for that, however, and I must use the moment and leave Tokyo as I need to now instead.
Your life has infinite possibilities, Chihiro. Take hold of your destiny and surpass any expectation anyone has of you. I cannot wait to see what you will become.
I do not regret my choice to come to this world. I never will. I took the chance I needed to take, and I accept my consequences.
My greatest joy is that I saw you for one last time as beautifully as you always have been to me, with the brilliant light of the fireworks to shine on you, and the graceful snow to shower upon you.
I kept my promise. I made it snow.
She had thought there weren't any more tears left in her, but the tears she now had as she folded the letter proved otherwise. And with one great movement and without any real thought, she got up and ran out the door, flying down the steps and racing to the bus stop.
It was a lonely road Haku walked to the train station. He slouched to the ticket booth with jeans and his favorite leather jacket. His hair was slightly greasy from his lack of a shower that morning, and his eyes seemed to shine almost glazed as he passed over the money for a one-way ticket to Kyoto.
He slumped onto a bench at the terminal, letting his bag slide off his shoulder to sit beside him. He found himself fiddling with the ticket in his hand as he had months earlier on his way to Tokyo.
He took a good look around the station. Glanced at the news playing on massive screens, saw flashing ads for concerts or new video games. The fast-paced hustle and bustle of the station was much different than his personal mood, and he found it exhausting.
He couldn't let himself block out the events of the night prior from his thoughts. His mind relayed the scene over and over until he thought he might burst with the frustration swelling within him, until his thoughts drifted to lazy regret and then something else.
He could never tell you what struck him, but that would not change the fact that he was, indeed, struck with a realization that he could not board that train. Every sense, it seemed, told him to go, to board the train car when it came. But there was one small, minute part that burned in him to stay.
There were no remarkable voices in his head, there was no great epiphany of thought—he just knew he had to stay. It was a fierce, sudden burning within him. A drive he could barely resist. It burned the foundations of his reasonable thoughts and shattered the knowledge of thinking his only choice was to leave. He yearned to leave, yearned to escape everything that had happened in these past months, but he couldn't, it seemed.
And so, reluctantly, confused, he stood, slinging his bag over his shoulder and tossing a now crumpled ticket into the closest wastebasket.
Chihiro had reached the point of utter exhaustion, but she wouldn't stop. Her chest on fire, her throat aching, her body beginning to stumble, she pressed on. In through the train station door, down the steps, across the corridor, up more steps—she kept on going, her eyes frantically in search of a boy with graceful hair and piercing eyes that she knew could see through her soul.
She stumbled, slid across the floor, and picked herself up again. Her mane of hair coursing behind her like a banner, she flew around a corner, losing hope of ever finding Haku as she came to the few remaining platforms she hadn't yet searched.
Her lips puckered, and she blinked away tears as she slowed to an easy jog, looking this way and that for any sign. In crushing disappointment she crossed the corridor to take the high bridge over the train rails. And then he was there, standing before her.
Haku had no plan, no goal of what to do. Perhaps he would have been worried about not knowing what action to take, but he hadn't even thought of it. He hadn't really thought of anything, really, since he had decided he needed to stay.
And so he walked with his head bowed, his hands in his pockets, and his bag haphazardly across his back. There was the sound of a train picking up speed in the distance, the sudden blast of a horn announcing a departure, and the glass ceiling revealed a less than pleasant promise of dreary rain. And even now, the tinkling and clacking of rain on glass sounding lightly above him, around him, and he reached the height of the bridge and looked up.
She stood there, unkempt and out of breath, as surprised to see him as he was to see her. She was panting, her chest rising and falling with quick breaths, and there was a glisten upon her cheeks.
No words were spoken. No hello, no greeting, no sudden explanations or exclamations—she just sprinted and threw herself in his arms, and he enfolded her in an embrace.
"I didn't understand..." She began, and he rocked her back and forth, touching her and holding her and taking in everything about her. "I didn't know—I didn't understand. And then when I did, I tried to stop loving you. I thought that you'd have to leave someday—that you'd want to go away—and so I pushed you away. I didn't want to lose you, to get hurt—" He felt her tears against his cheek, and still he rocked her back and forth in his embrace. "And I thought you were unhappy. When I saw you struggle so hard with this world, with our cultures and our ways, my heart ached for you so much. I didn't want to see you suffer. I couldn't bear that! I knew that if you used magic in this world that you would be bound to it..."
"Forgive me, Haku—please forgive me!" She grabbed him tighter, if that was possible, and buried her face in his neck.
And Haku whispered, "All I care about is you—nothing else matters to me. Whatever world, whatever troubles, whatever I will have to face...I know I can face it if it is with you. I will make it with you by my side."
And the words he had yearned to say to her for years burned from within his chest, and he drew back from her for a moment. He brushed her tousled hair from her face and looked into her magnificent eyes and said, "I love you."
The words came from every fiber of his being, every pulsing beat of his heart, and he knew no matter what would happen, everything would be all right, that from now on, he would never, ever let her leave his side.
Tokyo was perplexed. You see, on one particular spring night the city was surprised at a sudden snowfall, and then further shocked at the second shower of snowflakes the next afternoon.
And then that very night the headlines went wild when people all over Tokyo had seen a young woman and a striking young man flying over the city. No one could explain the phenomena, except perhaps, the young woman and the striking young man themselves. But when they experienced the media coverage of their escapades they could only smile and scold themselves.
It seemed that it never happened again, and so the stories drifted away and the newspapers which had caused such frenzy began to collect dust in stacks at libraries, only to be occasionally seen by a student or librarian looking through old issues.
And while the couple did, in fact, continue their escapades (in much more secret than before), people supposed that the mysterious couple had just been Spirited Away.
They had. But in a completely different way...
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