Rivers Never Die
Chapter 1: Just a little bit longer
Disclaimer: I don't own Spirited Away. There are some original characters in this and other stories I write. Corrected and expanded version, ffnet edition will remain in PG-13 format, R-rated forthe uncut scene in chapter 19will remain on affnet.
On with the story.
Zips off on broom-o-doom.
A shovel plunged into the rocky earth, lifting a load and discarding it into the nearby wheelbarrow. The motion was repeated by others nearby. Many teens and young adults were busily digging out the old river course. Of course, not totally, since it had to be routed around the apartment buildings and this was navigated to go through a community garden in the area.
A few years ago, it had been discovered that filling in the river had been a mistake for the health of the community. Without the river, the plants began to die, and strange sicknesses were found among the children. Not to mention the increase in mosquitoes as swamps slowly formed in certain low-lying areas.
It was reported that the apartments were haunted too, and that the plumbing would break at times throughout the year that it shouldn't have been. Eyewitness accounts of the apparition had been split between a man in formal robes and an adolescent in similar robes. Sometimes, the haunting strains of a flute were what was experienced, floating forlornly on the winds. Each encounter left the person with a deep impression of loss, and searching.
A young girl with a curious passion for ecology had been instrumental in forming a group with the purpose of restoring the river. It started out as a school project, but as word spread, other environmentalists took up the cause. Rallys, fundraising, permits, and courtbattles all used her as the figurehead. There had been great excitement when the first day of restoration began.
Strangely enough, the girl, now a young woman, was in miko training. She technically was still, but she was in the part of her training where she was supposed to participate in a project that would benefit both man and spirits. Of course, she was still in school, studying to be an environmental consultant.
Smiling grey eyes surveyed the progress her friends were making. They were almost done with the riverbed, and tomorrow, they should be able to start on the spring that once fed the river. Pausing for a moment, she readjusted the magenta hair-band that secured her hair and then glanced at the sun.
"Hey, lunch-time everyone!"
As the group climbed out of the riverbed to eat their lunches, no one noticed that there was a pale young man watching them with jade eyes. The group chattered among themselves, becoming excited that they were so close to being done. Some of their classmates involved with a cultural project wandered over, filling them in about the Shinto Shrine that was almost finished, as many of the older citizens wanted a shrine to welcome the local River God back to.
Just as suddenly as the strange young man was there, he faded from view, leaving only two footprints behind. A whispered word was grabbed and hushed by the local wind kami, keeping the secret of the apparition.
Yubaba had been noticing that Kohaku was not as attentive lately to his duties. His term was almost over, so she figured that might be part of it. Something else was strange as well though. Lately, he would fade out of view and then come back. Whether it was for a few minutes or a few hours, he had no memory of what had happened while he was gone. Speaking of those incidences, there he was, zoned out again.
"Kohaku... HAKU! Wake up boy!"
"Yes, what do you want Yubaba?"
"Hmpf! Like I was trying to tell you, your contract is up tomorrow. You will be free to go."
The young man bowed in thanks, and then left as he was dismissed.
Walking back to his room, he thought back over the past nine years. Nine long years without his best friend and the person that he was desperate to see again. He knew that she wouldn't remember him, since nobody really remembers anything that happened to them in Spirit World. It has been long enough now for her to begin to remember though. She must have changed quite a bit, and he wondered if he would be able to recognize her. So busy thinking was he, that he didn't hear Lin sneak up behind him.
When he turned around, he spied Lin laughing hysterically and rolling around on the floor. To top it off, she was sputtering something about having FINALLY gotten a reaction of the Great Haku. Now he'd never live it down. Great.
"And just what has gotten into you?"
Still snickering, Lin managed to get out, "Since you were so deep in thought about a certain girl, I figured I would finally get a rise out of you. After all, you'll be leaving tomorrow and I won't get the chance again."
Poor Haku just sighed and continued on, Lin falling into step beside him. Lin was supposed to be helping him prepare for his departure. Haku was just praying Lin wouldn't decide to pull any other practical jokes like she'd been threatening since Chihiro left. He didn't want to know even one quarter of the plots she had come up with.