...How long has it been? I don't know. All I know is that I'm way overdue for this. I'm really sorry. I'm so caught up with everything at school and stuff. Winter break is coming up, so hopefully I'll be able to update more. I have so much planned for this story. I wrote like a full half page of notes…Hehehe.

I know I'm not the only one having problems with the document manager and uploading. A bunch of people I've seen on GaiaOnline have said the same thing. A way to get around that is to export a chapter from another story. How troublesome (lol...couldn't resist). BTW, I do go on Gaia. My friend Jana got me into it. On there, I'm Akane Konae. Jana is Kinoko the Clarinet.

Review Responses:

Tinker Bell: LOL. Yeah, Sakana tends to sleep and eat a lot. E drew Sakana and what she envisions her to be like. She's soo cute! . I wish I could upload it and show everyone... Thanks for reviewing!!

Sakura: You're not the only one who liked neither Akane nor Sakana because you think they are getting in the way of Haku and Chihiro. Well actually, I need them for the plot, so they are staying. But even though this story will have romance in it, it's not romance-centric (even though it was originally supposed to be...) Anyways, thanks for reviewing!

angel: LOL. A lot of people had said the same thing: "MORE FLUFF, OR I SHALL GORGE YOUR EYES OUT!!" Or something along those lines. Don't worry, it will be coming. Thanks for reviewing!!

suzannette: LOL, your review reminded me of a poem. . Thanks for the comments. Glad this story could get you going. And just for the record, I only got so far with my writting because I've been practicing with these fanfics. Anyways, thanks for reviewing!!

Actually, now that I look over all the reviews from last chapter, I saw one where someone commented that they didn't like Haku's nickname I gave him. LOL. I would probably get annoyed if someone did that to me, but it just shows Sakana's playful side.

Chapter 12

Chihiro was growing bored of this constant repetition. Day in and day out the same events occur. By now she could statistically align her schedule (or lack thereof) down to the nearest minute. She could now announce exactly when breakfast, lunch, and diner would arrive simply by reading the sun, for example. Though it was a neat ability that she could now tell time like a sundial, Chihiro wanted some action. Sometimes she found herself hoping that the Chimimouryou would spring a surprise attack on them, and she would gladly welcome it.

But then again, if they did, she would probably die, along with everyone else. And if that happened, she would lose her sundial ability. On the other hand again, she would be rid of her incessant boredom.

But if she died, then her soul might have nothing to do in the afterlife while it waits to be judged and either prepared for reincarnation or otherwise.(1)

Chihiro gripped her head. All this boredom gave her way too much free time, of which she usually spent thinking. She seemed to be doing that a lot more lately.

If there was one significant something that had altered over the past few days, it was the weather. For once in a long while, Lin said, it was pouring rain with thunder and lightning. Lin had told her that when she left, the sun was always shining (up to the point of the Chimimouryou invasion) and it never rained. In fact, the bathhouse had been kept open—doors, windows, and all—to let in a nice breeze. So when it started raining cats and dogs outside, much of the downstairs was flooded about an inch. Though upstairs it wasn't so bad; only small puddles here and there by the windows and doors.

Nevertheless, there were furniture and floors to clean up and repairs to be made, which meant more money to spend, which meant less money to spend on food.

At the thought of food, Chihiro's stomach purred. She didn't blame it. For the past few days, it had been pouring rain. Besides not having enough money for food, the rain also kept everyone inside, meaning she, Sakana, and Akane couldn't go out exploring without anyone noticing.

Curse the weather. Just when she was about to get to the bottom of the mystery behind Haku, things just have to rain on her parade, almost literally.

"I'm sooo hungry."

Chihiro looked up to find Sakana pacing the door, gripping her stomach. Chihiro watched in amusement as her friend whined at the door, as if it would magically materialize some food for her to eat.

"You know, Sakana," Chihiro smiled, "the door is an inanimate object, meaning it can't hear or talk to you."

"I know that!" Sakana spat back, obviously frustrated with the fact. "I wish it was alive, though. Then I wouldn't be so hungry. I feel like I haven't eaten in days…"

"Sakana, it's only been, what…a few hours since breakfast?"

"If you could call a small piece of bread and almost literally a few grains of rice breakfast," Sakana muttered.

"Guys, we're back." Lin and Akane walked through the door, the former carrying a tray of food, the latter visibly shaking.

"FOOD!!" Sakana exclaimed and jumped at Lin, almost toppling her over along with the food.

"Sakana! Watch it! You almost made me spill the food," Lin scolded.

The young girl looked up at the older one, a bit confused. Then she smiled sheepishly. "Sorry."

Lin shook her head disapprovingly, albeit smiling.

Chihiro stared at the other girl, who still looked as if she had she'd seen the devil. Chihiro's eyes widened. Had they had a meeting with the Chimimouryou on their way here?

"Akane? Are you all right?"

Akane gazed up towards her with widened, scared eyes. Chihiro could hear her slight panting and shaky breaths.

"Akane, what happened?" Chihiro walked to her and placed a hand on her shoulder. She felt her body tense at the touch.

"Never, ever, go in there…" Akane muttered.

"We had to use one downstairs for obvious reasons," Lin confirmed after reading their confused expressions.

Chihiro gazed at her friend with a sympathetic expression. Had the situation been different, she would have laughed. Instead, she got angry.

"Sakana! Is food all you can think about? What about Akane here?" Chihiro scolded.

Sakana paused mid-bite into her slice of bread. Reluctantly, she put her food down. "Oh yeah." There was a slight pause as she drew in a deep breath. "AKANE!! You're still alive from your trip to the bathrooms!"

Sakana tackled Akane just had she had with Lin, except this time the both of them hit the floor with a loud thud.

"Sakana…ow…" Akane grunted from under the smaller girl. "For someone who's shorter than me, you sure are heavy."

"I'm not that short! I'm already five feet tall!" Sakana defended, lifting herself from Akane and the floor. "And I'm only an inch and a half shorter than you, so HA!"(2)

Chihiro sighed.

Here we go again... "Can we eat in peace, please? Who cares about height right now."

"I do! I am not that short!" Sakana shouted.

"Shh, Sakana, keep it down," Lin interjected.


"Well, if you care so much about your height, then maybe you don't want any food now, do you?" Chihiro questioned. She held back a smirk she felt creeping to her cheeks.

"What?! No way! You're not getting my food after I waited so long to get it!" Sakana snatched her bowl and held it to her chest protectively, glaring at everyone.

"Nice one," Lin whispered in Chihiro's ear. Chihiro giggled softly and continued eating her own meal.

About halfway through their meals (Sakana was already finished), a shadow appeared at the door. To Chihiro, it appeared the person was hunched over with scoliosis. Its mop of hair covered the outline of its face, so she couldn't guess on who it was. Though, she was saved from the trouble as the door opened and revealed—


The boy fell to the floor as soon as he set foot in the room. His clothes were torn in places and blotched with caked mud and blood. Everyone yelped at the sound and shrieked when they saw his appearance.

Chihiro reached out a hand to touch him, but stopped. Her hand hovering just inches above his body, she could feel intense heat radiating off him. She gasped at how warm he was.

"Oh, Kami, he's literally an oven!"

"Little Haku is an oven? I thought-"

"Sakana, this is no time to be playing games!" Akane scolded and kneeled down next to the bloodied form of Haku. Putting two fingers to his neck, she sighed. "His pulse is still there, but weak. Probably from blood loss."

Chihiro was only half listening to her. The only thing she heard was "pulse" and "weak." Putting two and two together, she immediately thought he was dying. She broke down into tears, sobbing and trying to wake the boy up.

"Chihiro, stop! You'll make him lose more blood," Akane shouted.

"Shh, don't be so loud!" Lin hushed, eyeing the doors and windows.

"Ha-ha-haku," Chihiro stuttered through sobs. The fact that Haku wasn't dying still hadn't registered with her. Only the sight she saw had been able to penetrate her mind.

"Is…is he alright?" Sakana asked.

"Yeah, he's fine, or at least he should be," Akane sighed, surprised that for once Sakana was being the calm one and Chihiro the stubborn one. "But we need to clean him up and stop the bleeding. He's oozing blood like a faucet."

"You and Sakana go and get some herbal water and a cloth. I'll stay with him while you go," Lin ordered.

"Why can't you go?"

Lin grimaced. "I'm not allowed to be out after the Chimimouryou order me to stay in my room. It's part of my curse."

"So they haven't ordered you back here before?"

"Not directly, anyway. That's why I've been able to go out for you guys. But now they've noticed and are keeping me here," Lin explained. "Now go, before anything else happens."

"Yes, sir!" Sakana gave her a salute, standing stock still for a few seconds before abruptly skipping over to the door. With a last wave, she pulled Chihiro up to her feet, dragging her to the door with her, cheering, "Yay, a mission!"

"Wait, Sakana, why are you bringing her with us? She's a wreck right now," Akane asked.

"Well, my mom always said that when you are frustrated with something, you should always get up and take a break from it," Sakana explained. "Maybe if Chihiro takes a break from worrying about Haku, she'll calm down and be able to think clearly."

Akane stared at her friend, astounded, and a little disappointed. "I wish I would have thought of that."

"But you didn't, now did you?" Sakana grinned proudly as they walked down the wooden hall to the elevator. Behind them, Chihiro was walking on her own, albeit absentmindedly and silent sobbing.

Akane called the elevator to their floor, and soon the three girls stepped on board. The doors shut behind them and the elevator started to descend. Only then did Sakana realize something.

"Where do we get herbal water and a towel?"

Akane stiffened. She laughed sheepishly and shrugged her shoulders.

"What?! You don't know where we're supposed to go?" Sakana gasped. "And I thought you were the smart one…"

"I know where to go," Chihiro whispered.

The girls spun around to look at her.

"Wait, you've been listening to what's going on?" Akane asked.

"You weren't just daydreaming and staring blankly into space?" Sakana added.

Chihiro fell silent once again. The doors opened, and she was the first to step off. Sakana and Akane exchanged worried glances as they followed close behind her.

"I think she's in some sort of shock," Akane suggested. "She's barely responding to anything we say or do."

"Not to mention she's leading us through a maze!" Sakana whined quietly. Chihiro was taking turns every which way, sometimes so abruptly that Akane and Sakana had to quickly backtrack and catch up with their friend.

"You sure she knows where she's going?"

"How am I supposed to know? She's the only one who's been here before." Akane sighed. "At least we haven't seen any Chimimouryou. It's like she's purposely leading us through a maze so that we'll avoid them."

"Yeah, but what's with the smoke effects?" Sakana coughed. "It's harder to breath here than I remember."

Akane looked around. Barely visible was a lavender haze spread everywhere throughout the building. Why hadn't she seen it before? The more time she spent out here, it seemed, the harder it was to breathe. She could feel her muscles getting weaker and weaker as time went by.

"I'm so tired for some reason…" Sakana voiced her thoughts.

Akane nodded. She looked towards Chihiro. She was still walking at the same pace, dragging her feet.

"Why does it seem she doesn't feel anything?"

"Maybe 'cause she's still in shock?"

"But even so, she should have at least slowed down a lot…more," Akane was gasping for breath now.

"Maybe she's possessed!" Sakana gasped, causing her to cough, in turn making her breathe in more of the haze and cough harder.

"She can't be possessed…" Akane argued, but the more she thought about it, the more she…Akane shook her head furiously. No, her friend wasn't possessed. She was just still in shock from seeing Haku in such a mess…right?

"But…look at her. She's not even," Sakana let out a big yawn, "tired."

"But…she's still…dragging her feet…look," It took all of Akane's strength just to keep her eyelids open, let alone drag her feet with Sakana and Chihiro. Her body was screaming just to give and sleep right there on the floor. When she looked down, she saw in her eyes a giant fluffy pillow. Smiling weakly, Akane slumped down to her knees and rested on the floor, Sakana soon following suit.

Chihiro stopped suddenly when she didn't hear the comforting thump, thump, thump of her friend's footsteps and ordered her body to stop moving. She was having a major migraine, and for some reason her friends' steps soothed it.

"Get up, you two! We're almost there!" Chihiro commanded.

Deep inside, she didn't mean to sound so harsh. But something inside her just reacted of its own accord, and the words were out of her mouth before she could stop them. Not to mention that the haze surrounding them was clouding her mind like a fog. Her body began to go slightly numb, and she had to pinch herself several times to regain and retain any feeling.

She had no idea what it was, but it didn't seem like carbon monoxide or any other poisonous gas she knew. More like that miasma in the lanterns, she thought.

The effects of her pinching began to lose its desired effect. Soon she felt in a daze, half conscious, half out of it. She knew she was walking, but to where she couldn't remember anymore, though her feet seemed to know. She felt her mind just slipping away to some other world.


The raspy sounds of Akane and Sakana's voices, followed by two muffled thumps, brought her back to her senses enough, though it still took a great amount of effort to get her legs to stop moving. Why was it so hard for her to control her body?

This haze definitely wasn't just the normal atmosphere.

A/N: (1) Heh, I thought it fit. This comes from Yami no Matsuei (Descendants of Darkness)

(2) In real life, E is about an inch and half shorter than me…though she's just a little taller than five feet…I think…But yeah.

(3) This has to do with the whole chapter in general. I think I sorta screwed this one up, because it suddenly switches from Chihiro's POV to Akane's and Sakana's. I'll have to fix that…later…

Well, I have some results from the poll. But I'm not gonna tell ya what they are. Why? Because…THE POLL IS STILL ON!! When I get close to the chapter where what I have in mind will take effect, I'll stop.

Well, here are some pending titles for the story I'm thinking about. I don't know which to choose…Anyone wanna help? I'm actually leaning more towards the last four, more though of "Caged Bird." If you can notice the relationship between the titles, kudos to you! . (Well one of them I sorta changed just a tinny bit…one letter)

Smoke on the Water



Magic and Sword



The Devil's Thrill

Caged Bird

Devil and Angel