Convergence – Chapter 25
By turning nonetheless; I don't own the rights to Spirited Away.
'Haku's voice in Chihiro's mind.'
'Chihiro thinking/speaking to Haku.'
Chihiro looked up when she heard a car approaching. It was her father's Audi. As soon as the car came to a complete stop, Chihiro opened the door and stepped inside. She sat up straight in the backseat and tried not to fidget. Mrs. Ogino turned around and looked at her.
"Why did you leave the garden, Chihiro? Why didn't you tell me where you were going?" Chihiro could hear the concern and fear in her mother's voice. It had an edge of impatience in it also. "It's been years since you've done something so foolish aswandering off by yourself."
Chihiro hung her head. "I'm sorry, Mama. I'm sorry, Daddy. I went out of town with a friend and I didn't ask for your permission because I was sure that you wouldn't let me go. I'm sorry for causing so much trouble and I promise that I won't do it again. I deserve to be grounded."
Chihiro couldn't decide if she felt sick to her stomach because she disliked lying to them or because she would never be able to tell them how her life had changed. They definitely wouldn't understand that a dragon had claimed her as his river or that he had chosen to join his soul to hers so they could be together. And there was no point in reminding them that she'd only been gone for less than six hours this time instead of days. She silently waited for their decision.
"How could you be so irresponsible, Chihiro? I know your mother and I raised you better than that," said Mr. Ogino. "Why didn't you think about the consequences of your actions? Your mother called me back in a panic and I left work immediately even though I was sure I was going to be criticized. I'm grateful that my boss was sympathetic since he also has a daughter."
'You and I should be grateful that your father is so responsible or we never would have met in the spirit world.'
Chihiro covered her mouth to keep from smiling. 'Stop that, Haku!'
Fortunately her mother must have mistaken Chihiro's gesture as pangs of guilt. "Don't be so hard on her, Honey. I believe she is sorry about upsetting us. She's a teenager and she's just trying to assert her independence."
Chihiro wondered what book her mother read that in.
Mr. Ogino wouldn't be pacified so easily. "I still believe that she deserves to have some privileges taken away." He used the rearview mirror to look at Chihiro. "You're only thirteen years old and you shouldn't even think about going anywhere without telling us. What if you'd been hurt?" Chihiro remained silent because she knew her father really wasn't expecting an answer to that question.
Chihiro found that she was thankful to be home as the car slowly approached the blue house. Her father parked the Audi in the driveway, but he continued to grip the steering wheel as the engine idled. Mrs. Ogino got out of the car and Chihiro followed her inside. When Mr. Ogino entered the house a few minutes later, he seemed calmer. He groaned as he sat down and kicked back in his recliner.
Mrs. Ogino sat down on a small sofa near the recliner. Chihiro remained standing because that was what she was expected to do when being lectured. "Your father is right, Chihiro; you deserve to have some privileges taken away in addition to being grounded even though this is the first time in years that you've been so reckless. I was really afraid that you'd been abducted again since the police never arrested anyone. For the next two weeks there will be no TV in the evening and no IM with your friends. Time on the computer will only be for homework." Mrs. Ogino turned to look at her husband. He nodded.
Chihiro bowed to her parents as she accepted her punishment. All in all it wasn't as bad as it could have been. At least they didn't says she couldn't go anywhere during summer break.
"What's for dinner?" said Chihiro and her father at the same time. Lines of frustration formed on Mrs. Ogino's brow. As if to emphasize the question, Chihiro's stomach growled.
"I'm surprised that anyone has an appetite after such a stressful afternoon," said Mrs. Ogino, although she immediately stood up and went into the kitchen without any further comments. Mr. Ogino picked up his cell phone and called the local police to let them know that Chihiro had returned home.
Mrs. Ogino prepared a quick dinner in about fifteen minutes. While she tidied up the kitchen, Chihiro and her father sat at the table to eat their meal. No one spoke. Chihiro thought about asking for seconds, but she was already comfortably full so she placed her bowl in the sink.
"Thank you, Mama. I'm going to take my shower now and go to bed," said Chihiro as she hugged her mother. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight, Daddy." Chihiro gave him a kiss on his forehead. He mumbled goodnight to her around a mouthful of food.
Chihiro went upstairs to her room to gather everything she needed. It wasn't until she opened the door to the shower room that she really considered her circumstances. She was just following her usual routine, but now she knew that Haku was with her and that he was aware of what she was doing.
'Is something wrong?'
'Just my mind worrying more than it should.'
'Would you prefer that I be quiet while you're showering? I realize that it is a time for you to relax and prepare for bed.'
'No, we can talk. Besides, I can't pretend to go back to how things were yesterday.' She walked into the bath room without further hesitation. Haku wanted to be with her and he'd seen it all during the last three months so why should she be upset. 'I'm a bit flustered right now, but I'll get over it.'
It was the little thrill she felt, like she was getting away with something slightly naughty, that she wasn't so sure about. She also wondered if her parents had turned off the air conditioner.
After removing her clothes, Chihiro entered the shower. She quickly shampooed her hair and washed her body because her father liked to remind her, every time the water bill arrived, that she should keep her showers to ten minutes or less.
'Let's go back to our stream during summer break. I could make a lunch for us.'
'I'd like that.'
Her mind began to drift as the warm water sprayed against her shoulders. It was a great relief to be clean and have a full stomach. As she relaxed, she found herself thinking about the stream and how Haku had formed those hands using the water. Her imagination immediately pounced on that image by picturing similar hands forming in the shower. Each drop of water was like a fingertip gently tracing its way down her body. When she realized that she was moaning, she covered her mouth with her hand. Chihiro reached behind her to set the water to cold for a few seconds before shutting it off completely. She was so embarrassed to have entertained a fantasy like that.
'Why did you do that?'
Chihiro pushed the shower curtain aside as she reached for her towel. As soon as she finished drying her body, she put on her nightgown. She didn't feel quite as edgy, now that she was dressed again.
'My perverted imagination got away from me. My friends at school would call me a dirty old lady if I told them about the daydream I just created.'
'You know I would never push you to do anything that would make you feel uncomfortable.'
Chihiro nodded her head. 'You're not the one I'm worried about, Haku. I feel like I'm the one who might have trouble behaving. It would be really easy to become distracted during school.'
'I understand. We'll go slowly and I promise to be quiet while you're in class. And please don't feel guilty, Chihiro. It's normal to seek out the pleasures that are offered in this life. That doesn't make you a bad person.'
'I guess I just worry about making a pig of myself.'
Haku chuckled. 'That won't happen.'
Chihiro covered her mouth as she let out a huge yawn. Gathering up her clothes, she headed back to her room.
Once she was in her room, the first thing she did was reach for the hairdryer.
'May I dry your hair?'
That seems like such a trivial use for your power.
'I'd still like to try.'
Chihiro was surprised to hear him say that, but she gave her consent. She figured this wouldn't be much different from the time Kyoko helped her out of the reservoir.
A warm breeze lifted her hair. It tickled her ears and the small hairs on the back of her neck. Chihiro tried not to twitch as she waited for Haku to finish since it was actually somewhat arousing to have him play with her hair.
Chihiro shivered when the warm air disappeared and as her hair dropped down, it brushed against the back her neck like a gentle caress. Suddenly she felt weary. When her knees threatened to buckle, she leaned against the wall to keep from falling over. She couldn't believe that she was so tired after just that little use of magic.
'Are you okay?'
Chihiro staggered across her room and sat down on the bed. .
'I guess I'm still very tired from this afternoon. I think magic takes a lot of my energy - maybe more than I realize.' Chihiro touched her hair, finding it soft and smooth. She didn't even have to comb it. The hair-dryer couldn't do that, but the hair-dryer didn't leave her feeling weak either.
'You should be better tomorrow. My hope is that we never have to fight for our lives - ever again.'
Chihiro touched her face and exclaimed in mock sorrow, "Darn, there goes my dream of moving to Tokyo so I can defend the public from evil."
She heard Haku laugh and the sound of his laughter made her happy. 'I wouldn't say that we're going to have an easy life, but we do have time to prepare. Our situation is unique as far as I know and there's no telling what kind of attention we may attract in the future even as we try to blend in.'
'Do you think it will be safe to visit the spirit world again soon?' Chihiro looked forward to visiting Granny's cottage once more.
'We will go back there once you have increased your endurance to channeling magic.'
'Do you think that will take long?'
'I don't know. We will work at it each day – maybe in the evening time.'
Chihiro sighed. 'It's starting to sound like a school assignment now.'
'Eventually we will also have to visit the dragon king so I can give an account of my actions. We can not afford to show any signs of weakness when that time comes or the king will find an excuse to keep us in the palace for his amusement.' Chihiro rubbed her arms to rid herself of the chill that swept through her body. That certainly was some incentive to practice each day. 'I also think that you should ask Karasu to reveal the name of his top client because it would be in our best interest to avoid any contact with that entity. Zeniba and Bou will also be better prepared if they know who is plotting against them.'
'Ah, I wish I had thought of that earlier, but I just couldn't get those two crows out of my sight fast enough.' Chihiro worried her jaw might crack if she yawned one more time. 'We'll talk about all this and more tomorrow. Right now I can hardly keep my eyes open.'
Chihiro stretched out in her bed. The sheets were soft and smelled sweetly clean. She rolled over onto her side so she could set the alarm on the clock beside her bed. Although she would have liked to sleep until noon the next day, she had school tomorrow and she needed to be up on time.
'Goodnight, Chihiro. I love you.'
Chihiro took a deep breath and held it for a moment before slowly releasing it. Yesterday evening she'd had no idea that Haku would be saying such sweet words to her. Yet conflicting emotions stirred when she heard him confess his love for her. She was sad because it was almost like talking on a cell phone to him. His voice sounded so clear, but she couldn't see him or touch him. Yet she was pleased that she could speak with him at any time, and of course they would return to their stream whenever they had the chance.
'Love you too.' Chihiro closed her eyes as she snuggled against her pillow and drifted off to sleep.
- The End -
A/N: Yes, this is the last chapter of Convergence. Again I would like to thank everyone who commented and encouraged me. And even if you didn't comment, that's okay. If you made it this far without forcing yourself to keep your eyes open then you must have liked reading it or you're just a masochist. ;) I realize that this story is wide open for a sequel and I would like to write one some day, yet so far I haven't been able to map out a plot line that I'm satisfied with. I'll think about it all while I'm on vacation because I need to have a clear idea about what will happen and how the story will end before I begin writing or posting anything. So anyway, it was fun and all I have left to say is: Haku and Chihiro forever!