This is the first plot bunny that has ever been finished. I usually loose interest in them after a week or so, but this just hit me out of nowhere and screamed to be written. So I did. I'm going to put disclaimers at the bottom, because I don't want to give anything away. I was watching Spirited Away when this came at me like a sledgehammer. I was also reading some fanfiction by LadyRainStarDragon. That also inspired me and I am ordering you to go read her stuff after you are done reading this! She is really good and I want to read more of her stuff!
I do not own Howl's Moving Castle... Just thought I should mention it because I use the term 'Otherworld' in here and that term is mostly used in the book. Don't own the book, but I have aquired the movie. I own neither. Howl is hot. So is Sophie.
This is the shortest Author's Note I have ever written... Wow...
To my friends... I love you all... You are my inspiration and I blow kisses in your general direction... Hope to see you soon.
I'm not making any promises, but I might add on another chapter if people scream loud enough... Maybe...
The sounds of celebration still rocked the bathhouse as both clients and servants partied far into the night. The successful rescueand cleansing of theold River Spiritwould be written down as one of the most interesting events to ever happen in the Aburaya spirit bathhouse of the witchYu-Baba in a very long time. The sounds from within were loud, but out on the balcony of the women's quarters it was quiet. The noise was dimmed. The rain, now long past,opened the sky to the diamond stars thatglittered on the stillwaters as Lin and her assistant Sen sat on the wood in their under things and simply watched the train go by.
"One day I'm going to get on that train…" Lin vowed, nibbling on her dumpling. Sen turned to look at Lin.
"Umm… Lin?" She asked tentatively.
"Where were you before you came here? You don't seem like a demon and you don't look like a slug either…" Sen tensed at her own words, expecting a snapped reply. But Lin was silent, staring out over the empty plains. She letout her breathin a sigh.
"I was human once…" She murmured. Sen turned to look at her. The older girl looked almostsad.
"I had a family once too, I suppose. I think they loved me. All I know is that they died. And I was alone…" Lin smiled grimly at Sen.
"Time runs differently here. The outside world has probably changed so much I'd hardly recognize it…" She turned back to look at the stars, "It's been nearly five hundred years of Man since I've seen another human…" Sen gasped.
"You're that old?" She blurted, before clapping her hands over her mouth. Lin glared at her.
"I'm not that old, you twit. I said 'years of Man'.I've only aged five years here inOtherworld time" She answered.
"So.. What happened after lost your family?" Sen asked. Lin smiled.
"I became a mute beggar girl. I lived in a village near my old home. It was hard. If I was caught with food I was beaten. But I didn't really care. I guess I was just existing…"
"How old were you?"
"I was seven."
"Seven!" Sen gasped.
"I suppose they teach lessons about the so-called Feudal Era in school, right?" Lin asked archly. Sen nodded and Lin grinned almost feraly.
"I could probably write a book on it, given half a chance." The older girl replied. Sen looked at her with rising awe then asked.
"You couldn't have lived there for long. How did you get here?"
"I was taken in by the grouchiest, most violent and human-hating demon the Human realm has probably had the misfortune of meeting." Lin sighed, "When I first saw him He was covered head to foot in his own blood, beaten near to death by his half-human brother. I brought him water and visited him almost every day. He didn't thank me for it either." Sen stared.
"A demon?" She squeaked. Lin smiled dreamily.
"When wolves tore out my throat He brought me back to life again. He always made sure that I was safe. He was so kind to me… In his own way…" Her smile faded into sadness.
"I was nine years old when things began to fall from his control. Not even his hated Half-human brother could save him. It was his servant who finally suggested that I be put into hiding until it was safe." She shook her head, "I have never seen my master so angry. But I had already been kidnapped twice and had nearly died. He knew it wasn't safe and although I begged and pleaded to remain by his side…" She turned to Sen, "I lived for him. He pulled words from me that I had thought long dead. He made me want to live. To be by his side and do his bidding… It was my greatest joy…" She stared into the younger girl's eyes, "I don't know why I'm telling you this… You're justa modern human girl… You have never seen or even dreamed of seeing the violence and despair that I have… But you remind me of myself, so much that I feel that I HAVE to tell you this… Hold tight to the ones you love, Sen. You don't know how much it hurts when they're finally gone." Sen didn't have the heart to tell Lin that she already felt that pain. But in a way it wasn't the same. Her parents were still alive. Once she figured out a way to rescue them, the three would go home and continue the life they had lived before. Lin would remain behind.
"Promise me, Sen…" Lin said seriously.
"I promise…" Sen answered, "So… You never saw him again?" Lin shook her head.
"No… He promised he would come back for me when it was safe… But He never came back. I waited every day for two Otherworldyears before giving up. The only reason I was treated as well as I was and given the ranking I have was because by that time I no longer smelled Human. I smelled like Him. And because I had been brought back from the dead by demon magic I didn't feel very human either. I can only assume that He was killed, or that it's not safe yet. To think that He has forgotten me…" Lin shook her head, "I don't want to think about it…" Sen smiled at Lin.
"I think he'll come back, Lin." She said wisely, "You're too nice for anyone to just forget…" Lin snorted.
"Pretty of you to think so… Even if He was still alive I can't leave to search for Him. I signed a contract fair and square. It clearly states that I live and work here until at such point my master returns for me. Until then…" She shrugged, "I guess I'll just have to live…" Sen frowned.
"That's depressing." She said, "The customers won't come back if they see you frown." Lin laughed.
"Spoken like a true bath-house girl!" She crowed. The rest of the evening was spent in companionable silence.
Two months later Otherworld Time…
It was a regular night at Aburaya. The customers were cheerful from sake and good food, so they were tipping heavily. The attendants were happy from their full pockets. Yu-baba hadn't a single bad thing to say, except for her usual grumblings about Haku pushing her to sign his release form so he could quit being her apprentice. Other than that it was quiet.
"Too quiet… Too damn quiet…" Lin mumbled, bringing Kamajii his dinner.
"What's that you're grumbling about?" Kamajii asked, passing her his dirty dishes.
"I miss Sen." Lin blurted, "It's too damn quiet. Everyone is so happy it's disgusting me. And I'm cranky." She fought the urge to stamp her foot, an urge she had given up when her master had told her it annoyed him. Kamajii listened to her rant before nodding sagely.
"I think we all miss Sen. She was a good influence on everyone… Especially our Master Haku…"
"Yeah… Mr. High-and-Mighty finally found his backbone and is bullying Yu-baba into releasing him. She's trying to con him into another year. He wants to leave as soon as he can." Lin snorted.
"Ahh… Yong love…" Kamajii sighed. Lin snorted again and dumped her basket of star flakes onto the scurrying forms of the soot balls that carried the coal.
"Bah-humbug…" She muttered, "Enjoy your meal…" With that she left. Kamajii chuckled and bit into a shrimp with relish.
Upstairs the entire bath house was in an uproar. The serving girls were huddled together in groups, sleeves waving in front of their mouths to stirrumor as they gabbled. Customers were peering out of doors, mumbling and gossiping almost as much as the servants.
"What in the world is going on here!" Lin demanded.
"Oh, Lin! You just missed him! He was ever so handsome!" A girl known as Hana squealed, racing over Lin, "No one knows where he came from, but he walked right through the wards as if they didn't exist, like a lord he looked, went right up to the front desk and demanded to speak to 'The Master of the House'. That's the exact same way he said it too! I thought the Foreman was going to faint from fright. Master Haku came down the stairs and took him right in to see Yu-baba!"
"Did you get his name?" Lin asked, curious, "What did he look like?"
"Oh, he was so handsome! I have never seen a more beautiful man in all of my life!" Hana gushed. Lin rolled her eyes. Seeing that the bath-house was in an uproar already Lin decided to take an earlyturn in the servant's baths. They would be empty at this time of the night and no one would miss her anyway. Gathering her things, Lin left.
A tap on the door broke through Yu-baba's concentration as she tallied up the nightly accounts. Muttering curses about interruptions she set down her pen.
"Come in." She called. The door opened and Haku entered.
"The Lord of the West to see you." He said, a strangely odd gleam in his eyes. Almost amusement. Yu-baba's eyes widened as the stranger came in. Her eyes narrowed.
"So I see you aren't dead. What a pity, we'd thought you had been killed."
"You know what this one has come for then."
"She thinks you are dead, or that you have forgotten her."
"She should know that this one always keeps his promises."
"Hmph. What if she doesn't want to see you."
"That does not matter. The contents of the contract state that if this one returns the contract is broken and she is free to go."
"I don't see how you could possibly want her now… She was just a child then. She is a woman now."
"And you don't care?"
"This one never said he cared."
"Stop that 'this one' jibberish. It's so old fashioned."
"She has been a useful servant to me… I'd hate to see such talents wasted… I could make good use of her yet."
"How about we make a new bargain. You shall be well paid for her services."
"Sixty-three and not a penny more."
"Do we have a deal?"
"…" The sound of a sword being drawn made Yu-baba lean back in fright, but then she leaned forward, flames emitting from her mouth.
"How dare you threaten me in my own house, Dog Lord!"
"This one is not threatening. Nor is this one bargaining. I have come to collect what is mine. If it is not returned I will have to take it by force."
"Fine! Devil take it! There! Take the stupid contract and I hope you are happy. You could have been a very rich demon if you had agreed."
"This one has no need for your tainted treasures. This one bids you good evening, Master of the Spirit Baths." With that he left. Haku, who had been standing in the corner, watching the entire things bowed his way out. The expression on his face hidden by his hair, but from the way his shoulders shook, Yu-baba could see the river dragon was trying to suppress his laughter.
Haku followed behind the dog demon as he walked down the hallway to the elevator. Even though the river dragon was older than the demon, his family had always respected theDog Demonclans, especially those who descended from the Western Lords.
"Lin should be working in the rooms about now, but she is most likely at the Servant's baths." Haku said, waiting for the demon to enter the elevator before him, "Your coming has caused a great disturbance among clients and servants alike."
"Shall I have someone fetch her for you?" Haku offered.
"… No. I will require room and board for the night."
"I shall inform the Foreman of your request."
"You are Kohakunuishi of the Nigihayami clan."
"It was believed that you had died during the holocaust of your lands.."
"Like rumors of your own death, mine were greatly exaggerated."
"She does believe you are dead, you know."
"As it was meant to be."
"… I wanted her to live her own life instead of clinging to mine."
"In case you didn't live to see the death of your enemies?"
"She may not want to see you. As you said, she is living her own life. She may want to keep it."
"… Than this one will have succeeded in one mission, yet fail horribly at another."
"… This one may be wrong in saying this, but this conversation could be turned on you, River Guardian."
"We are both Lords, Kohakunuishi. We have both lost ones close to our hearts only to find them again. What keeps you here when the one you claim waits for you to return to her?"
"… I have loose ends that need tying up first."
"I wish you luck and happiness Inu-no-Taisho of the West."
"This one does not wish the same to many, but I, too, wish you happiness."
"A greathonor comingfrom a great Demon Lord. I could ask no more."
"… Do not thank me yet, River Lord. You still have no power. No lands. You are nothing without these." The dog demon said as the doors of the elevator opened and he stepped out. Haku smiled at him.
"But I have my name and the heart of one whom I cherish. What more could I possibly need?" Then the elevator doors closed and he was gone.
Lin pinned up her hair and leaned against the edge of the tub with a sigh. The warm water buoying her up and taking away all the little muscle tensions that had appeared from her irritation of the day.
"Urgh." She mumbled, leaning her head back to stare up at the ceiling. There was reallynothing to see up there. The dim lights didn't reach that far. Beyond the lights there was only darkness and shadow. Sitting up she took a deep breath and completely submerged. Holding her breath for as long as she could she sat up when her lungs began to burn. Taking in deep draughts of damp bath air she felt an intense gaze boring holes into her back. She had felt such a gaze once before when she had been young. But the owner of that gaze had either died or forgotten her long ago. Turning to look she gasped. Lin felt her breath leave her body. Her heart stilled in her chest for a moment before pounding wildly. Her eyes widened. Ignoring her nakedness she stood and simply stared. Taking in a form that was both strange and familiar to her. The tall pale body. The familiar white and redyukata, the unfamiliarblue haori.The clawed hand. The markings at wrist and face. The pointed ears. The empty sleeve. The bladed nose. The eyes, golden as the sun, yet as cold as ice. The long silver hair. The crescent moon upon his brow. The way he held himself. It was him. Different, yet... The same. Unchanging as only a demon who has lived for centuries can be.
"Lord Sesshomaru?" She gasped, her lungs and throat burning from lack of air. Her voice waveredwith emotion. All of her hopes and fears and pain and lonliness on her open face for him to see.His face expressionless, he held out his hand to her.
"Come Rin." Said Sesshomaru, Inu-no-Taisho of the Western Lands, "It is time to go."
I do not own Spirited Away
I do not own InuYasha