Disclaimer: I don't own, 'Spirited Away'. Plain and simple. Yes it is sad, but it is the way of the universe and my meager power cannot change what is written in the heavens. Holy crap I need sleep.
M'kay, this is my first expedition into this fan…section…thingy. In fact I don't really like anime (even though all my fanifictions have been in the anime section…hmm) but I am drawn to the genius of Miyazaki! In other words, his movie was weird and I'm attracted to weirdness like a magpie to tinfoil. Forgive me if I absolutely slaughter all that is Japanese culture, but I come armed with nothing but a Webster dictionary and cell phone so I can bug my Japanese relatives with constant cultural questions. Will I use the crap out of my dictionary? Heck yes! Will you be sick of me by the end of this story? I hope not, but we'll just have to see how things work out.
I've decided for this fic that I will give a short word of advice before you read on. Today's advice is something that I've learned intimately today: One can not live off of puffy cheetos alone. One must also have hostess donuts! So go get some Cheetos and Donuts and enjoy!
The faint cool touch remained on her cheek as she opened her eyes. Then it was gone, along with any remnant of the dream; the same dream she had had every night for the last ten years but could never remember. She felt empty, as she did every morning. A piece of herself was gone and it was gnawing at her inside to remember what. Chihiro sighed and rolled out of bed, scrambling in the pre-dawn light to find her running shoes. She stumbled into her bathroom and glared at the mirror. A slender young woman glared back with dark eyes, pale skin and brown hair that hung just below her shoulders, rumpled with sleep. She sighed again and ran a brush quickly through it before reaching for her hair tie. She paused as she did every morning. The hair tie was her most prized possession, even though she didn't know why. She had had it for some time, but she could never pinpoint where or when she had gotten it. She viewed it as a lucky charm, but was growing more tempted with each day to throw it away. It was purple and sparkly, fine for a young girl, but not for a twenty-year-old woman. In the end, something inside always stayed her hand and she pulled her hair up with it.
She pulled on a light jacket and slipped out of her apartment into the chilly world. Mist was hanging thick and icy around her. She zipped her jacket a little more and began her daily ritual. She couldn't say what it was that drew her, but it happened every day. After waking up, she felt the only way to feel normal was to go to that place. It was two miles from her apartment, but there was nothing that could stop her from going. She jogged a short ways, then stretched the last traces of sleep from her muscles. She made her way past the tightly packed houses, out onto nearly deserted highway, then turned left on a dirt trail through the woods. She couldn't make much out through the heavy fog, but she knew everything here so well she didn't need her eyes. In her youth she had named every single one of the little spirit houses that lined the trail. She would leave food there for them, and the next day the food would always be gone. She had thought it was the spirits until she caught a squirrel making off with a piece of bread. Chihiro smiled lightly to herself and picked up the pace. She began breathing heavy as she ran up the steep incline. She was just beginning to taste blood when the trail ended and looming in front of her was a giant plaster building. Chihiro forced her breathing to steady and stepped up to the tunnel. She had only been on the other side once, and that's where the veil across her memory began. She couldn't remember what was on the other side of the black tunnel. Chihiro stood and stared at the building, watching as the sun began peeking over the mountains and cast the plaster face in hues of pink and orange while also dispelling the mist. Then without a backwards glance, she turned and jogged back down the hill.
"Helloooo there." A deep voice growled and a strong arm wrapped around Chihiro's waist.
"And hello back." Chihiro said with a faint smile. Other than that she pretended to ignore the owner of the arm as she sifted through order forms.
"That's not a very friendly greeting!" the voice murmured. Chihiro turned and kissed the owner of the voice and arms quickly before turning back to her work.
"Is that it?"
"Yes, Saru, now if you don't mind, I really need to get back to work." She said in annoyance and shoved the arms away.
"I'm sorry!" Saru said, putting his hands up defensively. Chihiro sighed and swiped her bangs out of her eyes.
"No, I'm sorry. You know how I handle mornings, and this one is a busy one. I promise I'll give you a good 'hello' at lunch or something." Chihiro said.
"I'm holding you to that." Saru said.
"I'm sure you are." Chihiro said, slapping him playfully on the butt as he eased past her to get out the door. He gave her one last dazzling smile before disappearing from view. Chihiro smiled to herself, but it soon left as she stared down at the papers before her. Orders for oils and repair bills littered her small desk along with time cards for employees that needed logging and receipts that needed filing. Such was the workload for the young apprentice of the Honshitsu Spa and Bathhouse. She could want nothing else. She couldn't explain why she had been drawn to this place, but she fell into the work easily and now hoped someday to start a business of her own. Plus the workload didn't seem so bad since she was dating the best masseuse on staff, meaning free massages on the most stressful of days. Chihiro grinned to herself at the thought of Saru. They had been dating for nearly a year now. He had told her he loved her, but she had never been able to say it back. When she thought about it she realized that while she cared about him deeply, she couldn't tell for sure if it was love. She then tried to name what was pushing her away from him. He was friendly, funny, good looking and smart. Everything a girl could want. But there was something about him that just seemed too…young. This made absolutely no sense though because he was five years older than her. You're just finding excuses not to get close! She scolded herself, Stop it now Chi, before you push him away all together!
Chihiro heaved a frustrated sigh and grabbed her clipboard. First were the rounds of the kitchen to get the grocery list, then to gather up any complaints and calm down the various ill-tempered that seemed to frequent the area. Normally she wouldn't handle so much of the responsibility, but the owner of the spa was on vacation, believing Chihiro completely capable of handling everything for a week and a half. Chihiro had felt honored at the responsibility, but was glad they would be back tomorrow. The days had been filled with adventures which grew in calamity every hour.
Today's newest adventure was an uproar made by mister Ganko. He nearly did harm to a wash girl claiming that she had tried to boil him to death in his bath. This ruckus took nearly three hours to sort out, finally ending when Chihiro offered him a free bath and massage with the assistance of any staff member he chose. This finally behind her, she sank once more into the darkened cell which was her office.
There were flowers everywhere, it was almost like a maze. She ran through the winding tunnel which never seemed to end, and the sweet smell of violets and roses wafted around her so thickly she felt as though she could walk on it.
"Chiiiiii! Chiiii!" A voice called softly.
"Chi. Wake up girl." Chihiro opened her eyes and glanced at the hand on her shoulder.
"Mmm, how long was I out?" She asked, sitting up straight and rubbing her eyes.
"Well, I've been watching you for the last five minutes. You're really pretty when you're asleep." Saru said with a small smile. Chihiro snorted at this as she wiped some drool from her ledger.
"Come on. It's lunch time. Aren't you going to say hello to me?" Saru asked, standing up and opening his arms. Chihiro smiled and wrapped her arms around his waist.
"Hello Saru. How are you doing today?" She said obediently.
"I've actually got a problem. My boss is about to collapse from exhaustion and it can't be good for her. What should I do?"
"Hmm, some fried mushrooms would be good."
"Fried mushrooms it is then…but first, come with me." Saru took her hand and towed her behind him until they reached his small parlor. The entire thing was closed off from the rest of the building by a number of elaborately painted paper screens as was customary. The only difference was that this 'room' had a window. It was dark gray outside and the wind pelted large drops of rain against the glass.
"When did it start raining?" Chihiro asked.
"Mm, not too long ago." Saru said, grabbing a towel and tossing it to her before leaving the room. Chihiro frowned at it, but then decided that there was no use arguing with him. She stripped out of her red Kimono which was more of a costume than an actual uniform. The room had a table in the center, then there was a table of massage oils and a stand with a small stereo. It was playing on of Chihiro's favorite CD's. She hummed softly with the sweet music and lay face down on the bed, draping the towel across her waist. Saru came in a few moments later and began bathing his hands in oils before setting himself to work pressing the knots out of her back. Chihiro groaned as his strong thumbs dug deep to loosen the tight muscles, bringing on a feeling between pain and pleasure. As the last of the knots eased, he began rubbing gently and Chihiro was able to relax. The smell of lavender and thieves washed over her and her eyes began to droop. She felt as though she was floating, and everything swirled in a purple haze.
Chihiro was far away, she could tell that much for sure. The massage parlor was gone and she was standing on a bridge. A purple mist swirled beneath the bridge, giving the illusion that everything was floating. Chihiro could still hear music. She hummed and began to dance to the music, kicking up the fog with her bare feet. People would drift in and out, they were shadow people and they would dance for a moment before vanishing, only to reappear a moment later. Then a boy stood at the edge of the bridge. He was only twelve or thirteen. His face was thin and pale, a curtain of dark hair fell nearly to his shoulders and a faint smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. But Chihiro was captured by his eyes. They were eyes that were to old to be in a face so young. The boy stepped forward and held his hand out to Chihiro. She accepted it immediately, vaguely noticing that she was no longer a woman, but a young girl. The boy held her close and they began to waltz, staring into each other's faces. Then the song ended. The boy took a step back and planted a light kiss on her forehead before everything was swallowed by the purple mist.
Saru kissed the back of Chihiru's head softly. She sighed and propped her chin on her arms. She listened to the pattering of the rain against the window for a moment, trying to hold on to the images in her head. She failed and grudgingly opening her eyes. A little boy stared at her, his deathly pale face standing out against the darkness. Chihiru let out a small shriek and jumped, smacking the back of her head into Saru's teeth as he leaned down to kiss her again. Chihiro glanced back at the window, but nothing was there. Ignoring the muffled expletives coming from Saru, she wrapped the towel tightly around her chest and dashed into the hallway, then to the back door. It was a lot colder out then it looked and the fresh air cleared any remnants of fuzz from her head. Ignoring the rain, Chihiro ran down the steps and across the soggy grass until she was just beneath Saru's window. There were no signs of the boy. No bent blades of grass, nothing. The window itself was set up so high that Chihiro, standing at a modest five foot six, could barely peep through if she jumped.
"You're losing your mind, Chi." She muttered to herself.
"Chi! Are you alright?" Saru called from the doorway.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"Get back in here! You're getting soaked!" Chihiro was about to turn and do just that when she paused. She was a few feet away from the window now, and she could see it clearly; the rough circular mist on the glass from someone's breath. Chihiro stared at it, watching it slowly fade away. A pair of warm hands settled on her shoulders causing her to jump. Saru frowned at her and nodded towards the door.
"Come on." He wrapped his arm around her and led her back into the building. "You've been working to hard, you are taking the rest of the day off. You are going to eat something, then you are going to take a bath. Then you are going to go home, I will buy pizza and we will snuggle on the couch watching a movie." He ignored any of Chihiro's protest and gave instructions to the first girl dressed in blue that he saw to draw a bath. But in all reality, Chihiro was to mentally exhausted to put up much of a fight and a bath sounded wonderful.
Chihiro growled and yanked her hair out of it's bun as she walked down the hallway to her apartment. She pulled her keys out of her bag and sorted through the chain to find the one to her door when she caught sight of something out the corner of her eye. A little boy was standing next to the window at the end of the hall. The setting sun illuminated the white of his clothes, making him seem to glow. Dark hair framed a thin, pale face and the eyes beneath the bangs held a sort of sharpness that didn't fit with his youth.
"Can I help you?" Chihiro asked awkwardly.
"Ch-Chihiro?" The boy asked cautiously.
"Yes, that's me. Are you lost?" The boy smiled and shook his head.
"Not anymore." He murmured. Chihiro could barely hear him.
"Do I…Do I know you?" Chihiro asked.
"I had forgotten how quickly humans age." The boy said, more to himself than to her.
"Um…excuse me?" The boy said nothing, but his body began to change. It was like watching an age procession video in fast motion. His chest grew and thickened, his arms and legs went from thin and scrawny to lean with a slight definition of muscle and his cheekbones hardened. The boy was gone, and now there was a man of about twenty three. Chihiro couldn't move. She thought vaguely to herself that she should unlock her door and get into her apartment quickly, but she couldn't take her eyes away from this…person?
"Chihiro, it's me…Haku." He whispered, taking a few steps towards her. Chihiro shrank against the door. The…man…Haku, hesitated, then reached out and placed his palm against her forehead. It was so cool. A calming feelingwashed over Chihiro and then images came. Flashing behind her eyes so quickly she could barely make sense of them. Yet as she saw them, even the tiniest of details were completely apparent to her. Haku pulled his hand away from her forehead and watched her face closely. Chihiro was gasping, and tears streaked down her cheeks. She opened her eyes and stared up at him.
"Where have you been?" She sobbed and buried her face into neck.
Yeah, sorry if this is a plot that's overused, as I said before I'm new to this fandom and don't really know what's already out there. Please review! You would be my all time hero if you did! And if you feel the need to flame, eh, whatever, if you're good at it then I guess you'll be my hero as well.