It's MEEEEE! I'm back and I'm pleased to be so. Yes this is on the short side but it's a start. Trust me when I say there is MUCH more to come and I will try and update in a timely fashion. This is just a little taster of what's to come, so can you stop sending me the death threats now?

Disclaimer- I don't own spirited away. But I have shamelessly taken those characters and made them mine. Does anyone mind? No? Good.

Resilience of the Soul

New Beginnings

Kenshin walked through the halls of his desert fortress. In a few days his intricate and fragile plan would be implemented. It would possibly set in motion the wheels of fate and have them turn and labour against him. For the Human's sake he hoped that this could be avoided. He hoped that she was not the one of prophecy and when things started to deteriorate she would retreat, perhaps living her life quietly in exile? It was a vain hope and he knew it. To achieve his goals he would have to eliminate the instrument of fate. Not kill her of course, that was not necessary. No, he needed to break her resolve before she ever decided to face him, even before she knew what her purpose was. He could not afford to take chances but Kenshin had learned a long time ago that even enemies were of some use alive. Besides, he had seen enough bloodshed to last 10,000 life times.

His footsteps echoed down the dark featureless halls. He liked this fortress; he had lived on the plain for some time but found his proximity to so many spirits more and more irksome. So he decided to live permanently within his bonded realm. He had built the fortress during yet another war. His 7th or 8th perhaps. The Gods had once again demanded he take sides, he had chosen badly and paid dearly. But what was one more prison to him? One more endless task of attrition? He always escaped eventually, time and pressure was all it took and he always had time on his side.

He had rebuilt the fortress when Yubaba had found him. He had been shocked at the destruction a thousand years and the desert sand had worked on his home. It had not even been a ruin, just a few walls left to represent rooms and little else. Many sand dunes had passed this way during his sleep. His repelling spell had long since worn off and the sand-mountains had invaded and etched their secrets upon the stone.

Now his home was bigger and better more suited to what he was; the desert wind, arid, scorching and merciless. But he had taken corporal form many times over his long life; the experiences in this body eased the burden of eternity. Basically, he bored easily; after all he had practically seen and done everything that had ever interested him. The crushing apathy was lessened in this form. He had once spent 300 years in his buzzard form, simply travelling the spirit world wherever the warm wind blew. He had been to the colder areas of course but disliked being cold and wet; it irritated him.

But in all his long years he had discovered a simple truth; nothing ever changed. Societies rose and fell, and spirits lived and died. True immortality was only ever bestowed on those strong enough to grasp it. Few spirits reached the 70,000 mark; their homes were destroyed; they died in wars or they chose to die when they felt the time was right. Kenshin was nearly 100,000 years old; he was a true immortal and he knew that nothing ever changed.

Now, however, through Yubaba seeking him out for her own puerile reasons, he could have the power to change the entire spirit world for the better. The old ones would no doubt object but he cared little. They could not interfere; their time was over. Their governorship of the spirit world had failed as far as he was concerned. It was unfortunate that the girl was caught up in this and he had some sympathy for the dragon too. Kohaku was an arrogant fool but he was harmless, far too fond of his human to be any real trouble. Kenshin had to admit they were equal in power but he had many more years of experience on his side.

He shook his head slightly; he had to focus on the task in hand and the wonders he could achieve. He smiled to himself as he stepped into the harsh sunlight. Yubaba could have a dozen bathhouses if she so wished. He would have worlds at his feet and he would finally bring order to chaos.

It was early; Chihiro knew it as soon as she opened her eyes. No sun even attempted to pierce the drapes; only the low glow of the embers in the grate illuminated the room. She thought about getting up; she had slept badly for the last few nights and was tired but seemed unable to find rest. She knew what was robbing her of her sleep. Her parents would probably arrive any day now. Contact between them was still one-way; Haku was strong but not that strong. He had however sent them a method of contacting Chihiro in the event of an emergency. The effort he expended resulted in a 4-day headache for him, which did nothing to improve his mood. Were all males so infantile when it came to illness? Chihiro could not be sure.

One thing was almost certain, Haku and her farther would meet soon. On midwinter's day she would be taking her vows to be a dragon's mate and surrendering her soul. Her Daddy would love that part of the arrangement. She stuck her foot out of the bed and shuddered. With midwinter under a week away the temperature was getting low. Of course they still had the odd warm day, this was the spirit world after all and the weather was nothing if unpredictable, however, Chihiro secretly hoped to have snow on the day of her mating.

"You would not be thinking of getting up would you?" asked a sleepy voice. Chihiro turned over and gazed into the slightly bloodshot, but none the less exquisite emerald depth of her intended's eyes. "You've tossed and turned all night; it would be a shame for you to leave now and actually allow me some undisturbed sleep," drawled the dragon sarcastically.

Chihiro glared at him balefully, but could not help a smile tugging at her lips. She was still amazed on occasion that she could kiss and touch him whenever she wished. She could hardly believe she was going to be the mate of someone with such pale, perfect skin, such satiny black hair which shone green in the firelight and a body that made her want to melt every time she was close to him. Such a person should be way out of her league, and yet she was sure he loved her utterly and completely. She had as of yet to figure out why, but she was not about to question her good fortune.

Still, he could be annoying at times, like right at that moment. She was annoyed at herself for being unable to keep a straight face. She really was in no mood for his cutting sense of humour.

"If you'd rather have me move back into my old room, Haku, just say so," she grumbled, shifting her body against his as if to remind him of exactly what he would be missing.

"You know you can't move back," he mumbled.

"Why?" she enquired sharply. His arm slipped around her and pulled her closer. His embrace was comforting and Chihiro had to force herself to resist the urge to nuzzle into his neck. She even managed to ignore it when he started stroking her hair.

"You can't go back because I won't let you. With the exception of these last few nights I actually can't sleep properly unless you are in my bed. I'm pathetic, I know, but there it is." He kissed her temple gently. "Sleep deprivation is classed as torture little one, you don't want to torture me do you?"

"Then stop teasing me, it's not my fault I can't sleep," she murmured. She felt rather than heard a chuckle bubble up from his chest.

"I do apologise, I should not bait you when you're feeling vulnerable."

She pulled a face at him and then gave into her feminine side by resting her face in the hollow of his neck. He held her more tightly and she sighed, finally relaxing in the shelter of his arms.

"I know you are worried about the mating and your parents but it will all turn out well. Everything is arranged, the midwinter festival was going to happen anyway, and our mating will just be added to the proceedings. All you have to do is show up and say the right things in the right places." He chuckled again and kissed the top of her head. "As a rule just say "yes" to everything you are asked." Chihiro smiled against his throat; he smelled so good.

"And what about Dad?" she mumbled. "He will be none too pleased to see you when he gets here. If he saw that picture Meeka sent he is bound to come and then he will be out for your blood." She snuggled closer, slipping her legs between his so she could warm the soles of her feet on his calves. He gave a low, slightly peeved growl in protest at her chilly feet, but he did not move away from her. "You corrupted his only child and he will be looking for someone to dump his guilt on for thinking I was mad for all those years." Haku merely shrugged.

"I'll be on my best behaviour; if he insults me I'll only turn him into a llama."

"Haku," Chihiro muttered against him in a warning tone. He closed his eyes and sighed.

"It will be difficult for me; he has caused you to feel a significant amount of pain with his constant pig headedness. I have urged you to maintain links with your parents hoping they would come around. I had no idea your father would be this stubborn. Now, through his own blindness, his daughter is giving herself to someone he does not know. I pity him but I also think he is an idiot." Chihiro had never heard Haku speak so of her father and was suddenly more worried about their meeting than she was about her mating. Haku sensed her deepening anxiety.

"Don't worry Chihiro, I'll be civil even if he does not extend the same courtesy to me." That made her feel a little better. "Stop fretting," he whispered, "and get some rest; it's far too early to be having deep and meaningful conversations."

Chihiro burrowed under the covers and wiggled around until she was facing away from him but still had his reassuring presence at her back.

"Sleep little one," he whispered, his voice sounding coaxing, warm and seductive. Her eyelids felt immediately heavier and her breathing slowed. "That's it," he mumbled into her hair. "Just forget everything and drift away."

"Haku?" she whispered.

"Yes," he replied in the same beguiling tone.

"You're using magic on me again, aren't you?"

"Only a small amount, you need the rest."

"I'll be angry with you in the morning." She yawned, her leaden eyelids sliding shut.

"It will be worth it," he breathed, his voice barely audible to her ears. Warm sleepiness pulled her downwards calling her away from him but one question refused to be forgotten in her almost slumbering mind.



"Why a Llama?"

"I thought it would make a nice change from pigs. Also, being stubborn creatures they would suit your father and I could keep him long enough for him to produce enough wool for Zeniba to make him a sweater as a souvenir of his time with cloven hooves. Also I thought…" Chihiro wanted to hear the rest but sleep claimed her.

Haku stroked her hair slowly, wanting to make sure she was sleeping deeply before resting himself.

"Everything will be alright Chihiro I promise," he assured her softly. "Within a week all this will be over. You will be my mate and nothing will ever be able to come between us." He knew in his heart that was not true; she would leave him one day. With his help that would not be for around a hundred years or so and he had decided to stop worrying about it. When the time came, it came. Maybe when it did it would be his time to leave this life also. He cleared his head of such morbid thoughts and was soon sleeping soundly.