A soft breeze rustled through the leaves in the small crop of trees, the forest spreading out thickly around it. Only the old, weed-ridden path made by the wheels of carts and cars, long since gone and the large brick wall the only remaining testament that humans had ever set foot in this corner of the wood-land.
The quiet breath of wind blew past the lone figure standing before the squat, smiling stone statue before the weathered entrance in to the wall. Lifting a few light strands of her sandy hair to brush her cheek gently, it ruffled the short, pale blue skirt she wore, tugging at her loose fitting shirt of thick alternating orange and white stripes. The bright sun shining through the spars branches above, beating down on the small open space, bathing it in the summer heat.
'Chihiro...' The wind sighed, pulling at the lone figure, urging her un-moving form towards the tunnel before her.
'Come back Chirhiro, come back...'
The winds grew in strength as she took a small, graceful step forwards, deifying it as she stopped and crouched before the smiling statue. Clearing a small patch before the carving of stones and fallen leaves, she placed the two white Lily's she held before it. Looking back at the figures eyes, Chihiro thought she saw a touch of sadness in the rough carvings.
"Mother... Father..." She whispered to the wind, fingering the scare half-way up her arm, she forbade herself to weep again. "I almost lost you once, that time I was able to save you. But this time there was nothing I could do..." But despite her resolve, Sen felt her eyes burning once more.
Eight months ago, the memories cut as deeply as they had the day she'd woken up. The rain and the lightning first, blinding them in the car, and the two burning lights shining in through her Father's windshield. She closed her eyes to block out the sounds, her parents screams had been the last she'd heard before waking up briefly in the ambulance. Her father had died instantly in the crash; her mother had followed him in the hospital while Chihiro had still been in the Emergency room...
The following months for Chihiro were all a blur, some where in there she'd been given over to her Uncle and Aunt on her father's side; a grouchy couple who'd taken her in simply because Chihiro's parents had not yet made out their Last Will and Testament.
The two were harsh and rarely smiled; they never seemed to care if she was out late or if she went to parties. Not that she ever did those things; most of her spare time was spent sitting up near the wall.
The lack of care always seemed to remind Chihiro of her time spent in the Bathhouse working for Ubabe. This of course never helped much, for years she'd regretted never saying a proper good-bye to Rin for helping her, the Boiler Man for being so kind when Haku had been injured, and wishing she could once again see No-Face, Granny, Yubabba's son, and even Yubabba herself! But, she knew that if she ever did go past the river, becoming a slave again would not be worth it, that there would be no coming back. It wasn't worth it. Not even for Haku...
At least, it hadn't before her parents had died...
The wind still ran itself through her bangs, 'Chihiro, please, come back...'
She'd dated, a little. None of the young men at her school ever measured up though, never to her memories of the River Spirit who had unknowingly stolen her heart. Foolish as such a thing was with her age at the time, it was true just the same. She'd never taken any relationship far, a small kiss on the cheek was all she ever gave, and a chaste one on the lips was as much as she would accept before pulling away.
Her reluctance hadn't gone over well with the last young man she'd been with...
There was the dull sound of an engine coming up the old path behind her, growing louder as branches snapped and birds took flight from the horrid sounds. The large truck shattering the calm peace of the forest as it came to a stop behind her, wisps of poison exhaust flickering from the pipe near the back, chocking the wildlife around it. The door on the driver's side flung open, breaking a sapling in two.
"So this is where you are." the young man who stepped out spoke harshly. Glancing over her shoulder, Chihiro looked at him silently. His green eyes had reminded her of Haku, she'd felt so horrid for trying to find him in this man, she wouldn't let herself stay near him. "What the hell are you doing here anyways? This is no place for some girl. Come on, get in the back. We need to talk about that message you left me on my machine." He said, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it. Thick puffs of smoke wrapping themselves around his head as he looked back at her, gesturing roughly for her to do what he'd said.
"I can't." She said softly, rising to her feet and looking back down the tunnel. The winds picked up again,
"What the hell do you mean 'you can't'?" the man asked with a dangerous edge in his voice. "You walk over, and get in the car. What's so hard about that Chihiro?" She looked back down at the Lily's before the statue.
Her parents were dead, her new family didn't care, school meant nothing...
"Chihiro!" That dangerous edge becoming more apparent as his short temper getting the better of him.
Her few friends were all to wrapped-up in their own love-lives and studying, her own heart aching for what she couldn't give it.
"Chihiro!!" He shouted suddenly, grabbing her neck and forcing her to the ground. "You look at me when I talk to you! You hear me!? Look at me and do what I say!!" He snarled in a rage, he stank of alcohol, and Chihiro hadn't even known he drank. He was on top of her and cracked his hand across her face before grasping her neck in both hands. Taken aback, Chihiro shouted the first word that came to mind. Or rather, name.
"Haku!!" She screamed, grappling with the hands around her throat, kicking in a vain attempt to get away, the wind howling viciously in the clearing. The man above her gave a look of shock at the name, his shock quickly being over-come by boundless rage and, Chihiro thought; lust.
"What kind of game are you playing at Chihiro!?" he shouted down at her, "What?! You turn down every man you see, while you're off with some 'Haku'?! What do you take me for!? Some chum you can laugh about while this guy's stickin' it to ya? Yeah! I bet that's it! You put on this whole 'I can't go that far' and 'I'm just not ready' crap, and then go and laugh your fuckin ass off is that it!?" tears streamed down her eyes as she felt him remove on hand and start hiking up her skirt, what little coherent thought was left flew from her mind as he pulled at her panties. Fear over-ridding everything else.
Amidst the panic, she felt a small burst of heat from her hair-tie, in her present state unable to understand what it was doing. The wind was pulled suddenly into the tunnel; whirling around inside before it rushed out, a fierce roar howling through the trees. Shocked by the un-natural display, the man scrambled back from Sen.
Placing a hand around her bruised neck, Chihiro wasted no more time then that as she scrambled away. Getting to her feet and leaving her sandals behind as she sprinted down the tunnel.
'Chihiro, come back. Return to our world, return to my brother who is the River Kohaku. Run, run to him now! Go!' The same winds from before whispered, pressing her for speed as she ran blindly through the shadows, the voice of the other man only serving to speed her on as he followed in hot pursuit. She ignored the sharp pain as shards of sliced the bare soles of her feet as she flew into the sunlight, out on the grass she scrambled up the knoll and paused as she spotted the river over the next rise.
Looking back her heart leapt into her throat as she saw the same man already at the base of the small hill. Starting forwards, she prayed to whoever was listening to let her to please, please let her through to Haku.
She slipped on the algae-coated rocks, and slammed down hard on her hip. Crying out in pain, tears spilled down her cheeks as she struggled to find her footing once more on the slick rocks. She scrambled up the other side of the shallow river, grasping at tree roots as she pulled her soaking form up. Glancing back briefly, Chihiro spotted him running up to the river, he paused panting slightly to glare at her, eyes still smoldering in drunken rage.
She bolted, ignoring his enraged cries as she spun and ran as fast as her tiring body could manage to get in amongst the sun-lit restaurants. Her fear and desperation pushing away the aroma of cooking food, Chihiro sped down the lanes searching vainly for the steps that would seal her into the Spirit-World.
Glancing above the roofs of the various stalls, Chihiro's eyes spotted the top of the Bathhouse. Glancing over her shoulder, she heard foot-steps running from the way she'd come, fear bubbling up again as she sprinted once more down the road. Following the site of the Bathhouse's tower Chihiro's heart lifted as the bridge came into view, a lone figure fading in and out of her vision, becoming more clear the closer she came.
A flash of teal hair made her heart jump anxiously, making her momentarily forget the fear that had driven her thus far. Taking the stairs two at a time up towards the Bathhouse, Chihiro stepped out onto the wooden bridge, letting out a strangled scream as a hand closed around her ankle, forcing her to trip onto the splintered boards. Her knee throbbed as she split her lip on the rail, the person who'd grabbed her didn't let go, only climbed up onto her and forced her onto her back.
Looking up terrified, Chihiro stared straight up into the man's face. Sweat dripping from his face breathing heavily as he forced her hands to her sides. Rage still pouring from him whilst his green eyes burned with a smug satisfaction that he'd caught her.
"Sen!" The bucket came out of no-where, smacking him in the side of the head and off of her. There was a flash of white and faded green as Haku burst out of thin air, anger running off him in waves as he grappled with her assailant. Chihiro, heart still beating at a furious pace, could only watch mesmerized as Rin knelt down and hurriedly began helping her to her feet. Her friend wrapping a re-assuring arm around Chihiro with a protective glint in her eyes, the bucket she had used still gripped firmly in one hand.
"Bash his face in Haku!!" Rin shouted in a voice usually reserved for the frogs who worked in the Bathhouse. "Leave nothing more than something for the rat's to fight over!!" Anger over-took the other man's initial surprise as he heard Haku's name."So you're the jerk who's been seeing her behind my back huh?" He said, wiping away a small trail of blood from his split lip. Haku blinked, his own anger fading momentarily.
"What—?" Haku was cut off as he ducked away from an on-coming blow.
"You should know not to come between a couple when they're resolving their differences." He sneered, aiming another blow at Haku's face, when Haku dodged again he grew angry, though it was nothing compared to the rage that boiled up inside the River Spirit at his words."Looked more like rape to me you boozed-up jack-ass!" Rin spat, guiding Chihiro back across the bridge a bit. A crowd of workers and guests roused from sleep had gathered around the entrance to watch, more than a few spectators turned dark glares on the other human. Yubabba suddenly looked about ready to burst.
"You were going to do what on the bridge leading into my Bathhouse!?" The old hag screeched, clad in her night-robe with wrinkle-cream smeared over her face and a towel wrapped around her head. The toad Foreman in his night-wear at her side backing up a bit in fear. The Radish Spirit in the crowd giving off a menacing sound as the man stopped at Yubabba's screams. Haku stood a ways off, clenching and un-clenching his firsts in rage.
"If such a-a-a display is acceptable in the Human World I don't give a damn!!" Yubabba continued pointing a menacing finger at the confused man, "But this is the Spirit World, and you'll be lucky if you don't end up as the main course at breakfast!!! This is a dignified Bathhouse and I will not have some maniacal human tarnishing my high standards of excellence!!!"
Chihiro leaned against Rin, still unable to speak as she realized she was back in the Spirit World, that Haku was near her again. Yubabba was blue from screaming while the man gapped at the crowd wide-eyed and about ready to soil himself. Turning a look to kill on her workers, Yubabba's eye was twitching madly as she jabbed a finger at the human still standing on her bridge.
"What in the darkest, most malevolent, pits of hell are you waiting for!!??" She shouted, flames spewing from her mouth as she spoke, "ONE OF YOU KILL THAT BASTARD NOW!!!!"
Chihiro didn't see what happened to him in the flood of Spirits and Demons who rushed to fulfill Ubabe's request as Rin guided her in through the doors, and into one of the elevators. Pressing the button to take them to the Workers level, she kept a tight arm around Sen.
As they came to a bumpy stop and the doors slid open, she guided the still over-whelmed Chihiro to where they had shared a room with the few other women in their department. Settling her down on one of the messed sleeping mats, Rin stood up again, leaving the bucket near the massive shelves that held the mats during work hours. In recent years very little had changed; the only real difference Chihiro could see was the few new bed rolls on the floor.
"I'm going to go get you some bandages and water," Rin said softly, giving her a small smile, "You'll be okay now Sen. I doubt Haku'll let anything at all happen to you now that you're back." Winking slightly as she made her way to the door, Chihiro nodded in thanks, still too overwhelmed to speak. Sitting there or a few minutes, she let a few things sink in. The fact that she'd almost been raped and killed seemed less important beside the facts that Haku had been the one to save her, and that she was now back in the Spirit World.
Seeing the rosy color on the walls to signify nightfall, Chihiro wouldn't put it past Yubbaba to have the Bathhouse open early, meaning that the women who slept in the room she was in now probably wouldn't return. Settling back into the warm blanket Rin had given her just before leaving, she found the distant sounds of the Bathhouse waking up oddly refreshing.
She gave a start as she heard foot-steps coming down the hall and pause at the door. Realizing it couldn't be Rin, who would have simply stridden in; she tried to make out who it could be by their distorted shadow on the rice-paper door. Of course, since it had been years since she'd seen anyone from the Spirit World, she wasn't able to figure it out until the person spoke.
"Sen?" the voice said softly, a bit unsure. "A-Are you in there?" he asked, it took Chihiro a few moments to recognize the voice, but as she did she swallowed the butterfly's popping up in her stomach.
"Yes I... Haku? Is that you?" she asked cautiously, the door slid open slightly, and Haku peered in, an odd reserved look in his eyes,
"May I come in?" he asked, Chihiro nodded and he entered, closing the door behind him. Taking a seat on the mat in front of her, neither one spoke for a moment, simply taking in the differences in one another, and there were plenty of those.His hair and eyes remained the same as when she'd seen him last, him clothing the same as well. He'd grown taller in recent years, gained more muscle as his voice had deepened slightly. He was still the same Haku from when she'd been ten, only more grown up, and, she realized, free.
"You look beautiful." He commented, looking into her eyes, she saw concern darkening his "Why did you come back?" he asked softly. Chihiro blinked a few times at the question, looking away as she remembered her parents. Letting the blanket around her shoulders slip, she accidentally revealed the long, faded scar on her arm from the crash.
Realizing her mistake in that, Chihiro tried to pull the blanket back up, but Haku's hand on her wrist stopped her. Moving closer to her, he gently pushed up the sleeve of her shirt, he looked at the pale line a moment, before looking up at her and seeing the tears welling up in her eyes.
"What happened?" he asked concern filling his voice and eyes before a spark of anger flickered in their emerald depths, "Was it that—"
"No," She said quickly, shaking her head, shaking slightly as she fought to keep away tears. She shouldn't still be crying about this. Haku saw her distress and carefully wrapped one arm around her Chihiro moved in and let him embrace her, feeling safe and secure in is arms. Wrapping her arms around him, she stopped fighting and wept into his shoulder, Haku reached up and ran his hands through her hair, careful of the band she still used after all this time to keep it from her face.
"Tell me..." he whispered, tightening his arms around her. "What happened?"
"They're dead." She said softly, wrapping her arms around him. "They're gone. There wasn't anything I could do this time. They were killed in a crash and I escaped with just a scar and a few cuts." Haku froze as she spoke, taking a few moments to understand what she meant, the knowledge digging deep as he held her tighter and maneuvered her into his lap.
"When?" he asked, stroking her back,
"O-over half a year ago..." She sobbed, "I've been living with relatives." Haku nodded slightly,
"How do they treat you?" he asked softly not caring about Chihiro's tears staining his shoulder.
"They don't even know I exist." She said bitterly, "They moved me to a new school where the few friends I've made can't tell one class from another, and-and I can't keep in touch with the ones I had before." She sobbed. Chihiro was comforted by Haku's strong presence, asking questions to find out what was wrong instead of just changing the subject as soon he heard something he didn't want to know.
Haku rocked her back and forth slightly, rubbing her back as she continued to cry against him.
"You, can't go back." He said softly, "The tunnel, it won't take you back a second time." Chihiro rubbed her face against the soft cloth of his shirt.
"I know. But, I missed this place so much. The Boiler Man, the small Soot spiders, Rin, even-even Yubabba and her son. I missed this place, as stupid and foolish as that seems, there's just so much more here for me than there is in my own world anymore." Haku didn't say anything for a moment or two, still holding her in his arms.
"I'm glad you came back..." Chihiro blushed slightly, smiling against him.
"I-I couldn't forget about you." She said. Haku blinked and met her eyes as she looked up, "I tried, not to forget, but, to try and move on from what happened years ago, but I couldn't. Every man I saw I thought of you, always matching you up against them in my head." He placed his chin on her head and held her closer,"And how, pray tell, did I stand up against men from your world?" he asked, licking his lips nervously. Chihiro pulled away slightly, not meeting his eyes.
"They, they never stood a chance." She said softly, looking back up at him. "I-I couldn't be with any of them, I couldn't give myself up like that. Couldn't give them what they wanted, most, most where alright they, didn't take it that hard or anything, not as an insult because, that's not what it was. But some, they... he..."
Haku placed to fingers on her lips to shush her. Looking up into his green eyes she saw something amidst the odd protectiveness that made her heart skip, but, with him leaning over her as he was, the word seemed to elude her.
"Don't worry Sen." He said softly, "I won't ever let some one try to hurt you like that again, I swear it." his hand moved from her lips to the side of her face, his eyes staring deeply into hers. "I will wait as long as you need, I will never, ever, try to hurt you Chihiro." Under his intense gaze Chihiro felt her face heat up as she raised one hand up to touch his face the same way, sitting up straighter as she did so until they were only a breath apart."I'm finished waiting Kohaku." She whispered.
The gap between them closed quickly, and Chihiro savored the warmth of his mouth against hers. Haku adjusted his arms around her to bring her closer to him, yet keep from breaking the kiss. Chihiro felt a tingle down her spine as his tongue moved against her lips slowly, waiting for her to let him in, keeping true to his promise to never rush her. She parted her lips slowly, savoring the feel of him caressing her mouth from the inside.
The hand he had used to hold her face slipped down to her side, Chihiro felt it rest there, not doing much to help him hold her, and moved it with her other hand to place it down on her hip. Hot flames licked at her as she felt him take a chance and rub his hand over her hip and down her thighs before slipping slowly up her skirt and stayed there, his fingers messaging her hip.
She gave a small gasp as she felt Haku began to lean forward; he stopped when he heard her, slowly breaking the kiss to look at her.
"Sorry." He breathed, placing his forehead against hers, Chihiro shook her head.
"No, it's not that," she said whispered softly, looking into his eyes again, "I-I think I'm ready for that, I just, I just want to say that..." He stopped her with a short kiss, not letting it go as far as the last as he pulled away, reaching up with one hand again; he cupped her face with it, and looked deeply into her eyes.
"I've waited for you for over six years Chihiro, I've been waiting to tell you three simple words." he said softly, pausing again to look at her, "I love you." Tears welled up in Chihiro's eyes,
"I, I love you too Kohaku..."
Haku wrapped his arms around her again, not holding her as close, but still enough to kiss her lightly on the lips. "Don't leave me again." He said softly, in between kisses.
"I won't, as long as you never leave me." she replied.
"Oh god, can you to tone it down with the mush already?" Haku and Chihiro leapt to their feet despite how they had been sitting, both beat red in the face as Rin stood leaning in the door-way, a smug smile on her face as she held three bowls of food. She cocked an eye-brow at how quickly they moved, but shrugged and set the food down. Chihiro and Haku taking a few moments before sitting down as well. Rin for the most part ignoring the couple, readily digging into the bowl she kept for herself.
The two looking at her a bit on edge because of how she'd found them. Rin felt them staring at her as she set away eating her breakfast, her chop-sticks stopping half-way up to her mouth with a small dumpling just hanging there.
"What?" She asked innocently, "I didn't say you had to stop, just tone it down with the mush that's all. Carry on if you want, don't mind me." neither one made a move for one of the presented bowls, taking a few more bites out of her own, Rin eyed Chihiro,
"At least if you come back to work here I won't have to scrounge around as hard to find cloths that fit you now Sen." She commented, "I'm sure Haku here can give me your proper measurements." She added as a sly afterthought, finishing her breakfast before Haku or Chihiro could think up anything to say; the other worker picked up her dishes and stood before making her way to the door.
"Oh yeah," she called back over her shoulder, "Sen, Haku; Yubabba wants to see the both of you when you have a moment. But I think she'll understand if I tell her that—"
"NO!" They both shouted scrambling to their feet again, Chihiro positive that the red color staining her cheeks would never fade.
"We're fine, no need to tell her anything," Haku said shakily.
"We're going right now; you don't need to worry about it." Chihiro finished, both of them scrambling to the door to find Rin half-way down the hall fighting laughter.
"Well then hurry!" Rin said; turning on her heel, the worker had a definite spring in her step as she disappeared into the mess of workers outside the sleeping area. Chihiro looked back at Haku,
"I don't remember her making jokes about, that." she said, Haku scratched his head,
"I never left and even I don't remember it." he replied. Smiling slightly, Haku placed one arm around her waist, both of them smiling as they made there way towards the crowd. Looking around the mass of people, Chihiro looked back at him smiling slightly.
"It's good to be back."
This story is a One-shot. It has always been a One-Shot, and shall continue to be one for as long as I maintain control of it. I own nothing of Spirited away, if you want it continued, Message me for permission to use whatever you feel I actually have juristiction over -IE: the Title- and then have at it.