A/N: Ah, another Spirited Away fic for me. I just couldn't stay away. I need something to write to get me motivated to work on many of my "real" stories. Novels are hard to write. But, hey, maybe I'll get published someday.

Disclaimer:Well, seeing as this is a fan-fiction, it's obviously not my world. Spirited Away and all it's characters belong to Studio Ghibli, who are bad ass. I hope you guys don't mind me fiddling with your stuff!

Please forgive the grammatical errors. I wrote this in three hours and I have no word processing program on the computer. However, I think I've caught most of the glaring errors. Let me know if you see anything that needs particular tweaking.


The Path of Chihiro


Her travels from childhood to adulthood led Chihiro to the Kohaku River Apartments. The appeal of the name--and the location set closely to the University--had her captivated in an instant. Soon after her find, she returned to her parents' home and declared her intentions to move out. Her mother, being slightly overbearing, worried that Chihiro was being too hastey in her decisions.

"You are not ready to move out on your own yet, Chihiro." Mrs. Ogina said as the family discussed the situation over dinner, "And so far away at that." the woman huffed

Chihiro huffed in equal measure. She rolled her eyes as she grabbed a piece of sliced pork with her chopsticks.

"I'm eighteen now, Mom. I'm starting college in just a few weeks." Chihiro placed her morsel in her mouth

"She's right, you know." Mr. Ogina piped up, "She's not a little girl anymore, sweetheart."

Chihiro smiled appreciatively at her father. He gave her a wink in return.

Chihiro's mother pouted as she realized that there was really nothing left to say. Her daughter was barely finished high school; now she was a woman of the world, apparently.

But, ah-hah, Mrs. Ogina still had an edge on this one.

"And how exactly do you plan to pay for this move, Chihiro?" Her mother asked, sounding triumphant

"Well," Chihiro started slowly, "I've been saving up. You know, from those jobs I took during breaks and on the weekends. I have enough for a while."

Deflated, Mrs. Ogina sighed. Her husband, however, beamed with pride.

"That's my girl. You've been so responsible. Ever since that time we were abducted by--"

"Don't say it." Mrs. Ogina interrupted with an aggravated look on her face

"Don't say what?" Mr. Ogina faked innocence

His wife tilted her chin upward while raising an eyebrow. Chihiro cowered slightly at the look she'd received many times when she had stepped out of line.

"We were not abducted by aliens."

"We took a quick look in the tunnel, came out, and a lot of time passed. What logical explanation can you come up with?"

Chihiro's eyes widened as she watched her mother's eye twitch. She covered her mouth with her hand to hold in the laugh building in her throat. This was an old argument. While her father's suspicions were far-fetched, none of them could come up with a better reason for the missing time they'd experience during their move to the house.

"Your 'theory' is not a 'logical explanation.'"

"Better than your idea that someone was playing a practical joke on us. We were new in town. Who would be so mean as that?"

The conversation continued for some time. Chihiro sat through the debate hiding her amusement. And, to her happiness, the earlier conversation was forgotten. When she grew tired of the bickering, Chihiro quietly excused herself from the table. Immediately, her mother's attention turned to the young woman.

"Perhaps you having an apartment on your own is a good idea--if only to give me a place to escape to when your father starts with his wild notions."

Chihiro grinned at her mother. She moved over to her mother quickly and threw her arms about the woman.

"Great! I'll start packing right away!" Chihiro exclaimed, then headed toward the stairs.

Before she reached them, she turned around and headed back to the table. She bowed respectfully before her parents.

"Thank you, both, for everything." She said quietly.

Before either parent could speak, she ran off to begin packing. It was time to begin the next chapter of her life.


Barely a week later, Chihiro and her parents packed up the family car as much as they could, then headed off to Chihiro's new home.

Her mother seemed weepy the entire drive. Chihiro and her father didn't let it get them down. Between the two of them, they had enough excitement for them all.

When they finally arrived, Mrs. Ogina looked around the neighborhood with concern. There was a fair amount of greenery which would cater to rodents. Shadows could conceal perverted old men dying to take a peak at a vunerable young woman. And, though no body of water could be found, the area smelled of one, which could easily breed mold. The scent reminded her of something.

"Oh, my..." Mrs. Ogina said with surprise, "Sweetheart, do you know where we are?" She looked to her husband, who was already unloading the car with Chihiro.

"What's that?" He asked as he stopped to listen.

"This is where we went on a family picnic once. Remember? There used to be a river here."

Chihiro felt a weird buzzing in her stomach. She could almost feel cool water rushing over her skin. It made her blush for some reason.

"Eh?" Her father turned thoughtful, "Ah, yes, now I remember. You fell into the river here, Chihiro. Well, back when there was one." He hefted one of the heavier boxes into his arms, "You were around three, I believe."

Chihiro blinked. The memory was hazy, but it came to her.

"Yeah..." she murmured. "I remember that, sort of."

"You were very lucky that day, Chihiro. Whatever spirit was watching over that river led you back to shore." Her mother said, "We could have lost you forever."

The rest of the day continued somberly. Her mother, having relived the fear of her child nearly drowning, was more apprehensive about this decision more than ever. Mr. Ogina was suddenly melancholy that his little girl wasn't so little anymore. It made the whole ordeal even harder for them both.

Chihiro wasn't filled with as much excitement as she had been on the trip there. Something about falling in the river tugged at the back of her mind. It took all of her attention, reliving that moment in her mind. Now, the fact that the river was no longer there made her heart ache for the cool waters on her skin.

When everything was taken inside, the Oginas stood before there daughter with long faces.

"It's a little tiny, isn't it? You sure you want to live here?" Her mother asked, sounding a little too hopeful.

Chihiro nodded her head vigorously, "Yes, it's just the right size for a college student."

Mr. Ogina put an arm around his wife's waist as she finally realized there was no going back. This was Chihiro's life.

"Call us whenever you need something." Her father said

"I will, Dad."

"But not too often. You have to be independant."

"I will, Mom."

The three stared at each other for a long time in silence. Eventually, Chihiro bounded to her parents, clinging to them tightly.

"I love you guys." She said with tears evident in her voice.

"We love you, too." Her father replied, voice breaking.

Ten minutes after the tearful goodbyes, Chihiro's parents drove off. Her mother stuck her head out of the passenger window, waving her arms. Chihiro waved back until they were no longer in sight. When they were gone for good, she turned toward her building. Somehow it looked menacing, now that she was on her own.

She took in a deep breath. A look of defiance crossed her face. No building is going to scare me, she thought. Holding her head high, she marched inside to her new home.


It took a few hours of unpacking for the realization to hit her. While the place wasn't big and basically only had the essentials, this was her place. Only her things were scattered around. She could stay up and watch TV as late as she wanted. Well, she had to cook for herself, which wasn't a bonus, but there was no one to stop her from eating as much junk food as she wanted.

She was on her own.

Excitement bubbled in her once again. She cheered loudly as she jumped in the air. When she landed, she covered her mouth as though shocked at her own outburst. Feeling foolish, but free, she giggled at herself.

After a quick meal, she decided that she needed a shower. Humming merrily, she headed into her bathroom.

She turned the water on as hot as she could take it to ensure no aches and pains in the morning. As soon as she undressed, she climbed in. At first, she hissed at the heat, but quickly, it turned to a soothing spray. With a content sigh, she closed her eyes and allowed the water to splash her face.

"I...th...k...o...he...som...ies..."

She jumped back from the water, unsure if she'd heard something or not. A moment or two passed with nothing.

"Weird. I thought I heard whispering..." she murmured to herself.

No, that was impossible. The door was locked. She was on the second floor. No one could get inside. She was obviously hearing things.

"Heh, maybe I'm more freaked out about living alone than I thought."

Shaking her head, she emersed herself in the water once more. She took a deep breath, then sighed as she began washing off the day's grime.

"I...su...beau..."

She nearly fell in the shower when the whisper came to her more loudly that time. Quickly, she turned off the water. Each breath was a struggle as she waited nervously to hear the sound again.

Chihiro reached out for a towel. Once she grabbed it, she wrapped it around her slender body. She nervously went to the bathroom door. Her hand shook as she placed it on the knob.

"Chihiro..." The whisper called from behind her.

Yelping, Chihiro turned, slamming her back against the door. The sound came from inside the bathroom? She could have sworn it came from the shower.

Hesitantly, she moved to the shower again. She bent down, close to the drain. Eyes wide, she listened.

She heard nothing but the sound of water flowing away from the shower.

"Oh, boy..." she groaned as she let out a held breath, "I need to stop."

She couldn't, wouldn't, let living alone get to her. She had to prove to her parents that she was a responsible young woman. No spooky shower was going to risk her accomplishment.

"Ok. I can do this."

She didn't sound so sure, even to herself. Chihiro didn't let her worries stop her. Instead, she turned that shower back on.

"I can do this."

Her towel dropped to the floor. In a swift motion, she stepped completely in the shower once more. Eyes closed, she let the hot water caress her skin. She turned and allowed the water to flow down her back.

"Chihiro..."

"I'm not listening." She told the nonexistent whispering.

Despite knowing that it must be her imagination, her body began to shake. Nothing is there, she told herself firmly, nothing is calling me.

Humming to block out the sound, she continued to bathe. Her hands shook so badly that she couldn't get a firm grasp on the soap. It fell to the tile with a thunk. Groaning, she reached down and grabbed it. It wiggled in her hand thanks to her nerves.

"Get a grip, Chihiro." She said to herself, "Get a grip."

She closed her eyes again, and tried to calm her breathing. The hot water seemed to caress her arms, wrapping around her like a warm hug. It protected her just like the Kohaku river had done when she was a child.

Her shaking stopped. That warmth and protection gave her strength to carry on.

After that, nothing else happened. Things were still and calm. She finished her shower then dressed for bed. In her heart, she knew that she'd again been blessed by the spirit of the Kohaku river. Though its waters were gone, he still watched over this place. She knew it.

Before she turned in, she opened the door to her balcony. The night air was cool against her still moist skin. It didn't stop her from her duty. She bowed deeply, respectfully.

"Thank you." She said quietly

There was no answer except for a gently blowing breeze. It was enough. She turned and headed to bed.


The Path of Kohaku


Some time ago, the witch of the premiere bathhouse of the Spirit World, Yubaba, grew too old to run it. Next in line to command her business was her son, Boh. Young Boh, unfortunately, had no interest in running the family business. Instead, he wanted to find his own place in the world.

So, despite Yubaba's misgivings, she passed the bathhouse of the gods to her old apprentice, Kohaku. She had no control over him now that he'd found his name. He also didn't have the amount of greed necessary to keep the place going at her prefered rate. But, the river spirit knew the business well, and had enough magic of his own to keep in intact.

Kohaku also had misgivings about being in charge of the bathhouse. He had other adventures to be had, much like Boa. However, in the end, he decided to take the job. At least with him in charge, no poor spirit could wander in and be cheated, much like he had been.

He had eternal youth, which made many of the elder gods not take him seriously. With the help of a little magic, he made himself more presentable. Though, technically, Kohaku was one thousand at the very least, he looked a mere twenty-five.

Many of the female workers took to him now that he was "older." He hadn't meant to make himself attractive, which he'd apparently done. In fact, he'd figured himself plain. Even his clothing was kept simple regularly.

Generally, the staff enjoyed being under his employement. He was kind, but firm. Lenient, but no push over. Everything ran smoothly. Everyone was happy.

Except for Kohaku.

He had riches. He had women at his feet. And still, something was missing.

Many days, he sulked in his office under the guise of paperwork. Only Lin, one of the female workers, ever visited Kohaku when he was in office. She reassured the staff that all was well, even if it always wasn't.

"How long are you going to hide in here, Haku?" She asked him with crossed arms

He didn't bother to look up from his "paperwork" as he spoke to her.

"I'm not hiding." He murmured

"Uh-huh." She shook her head, "You're one of the most powerful spirits in the Spirit World. Why aren't you living it up?"

He realized that Lin wouldn't leave him alone. Emerald eyes focused on hers.

"I am living it up, as you say. Just right now, I'm taking a break."

They left it at that. Giving up, Lin left the room and left her "master" to sulk.

He left the offices more often after that encounter, if only to keep up appearences. Haku prowled the grounds, making sure that everything was as it should be.

And it was, until Haya appeared in the bathhouse.

"Master Haku," the foreman of the bathhouse approached him quietly, "There is a woman here to see you." He leaned in closely, covering his mouth with his hand, "A beautiful woman."

Haku made no outward appearence, but inside he cringed. Something told him that this would lead to no good.

"I'll head to my office. Have her meet me there."

Ten minutes after Haku reached his office, the young woman arrived. Haku's eyes widened. True to the foreman's words, she was quite a vision. She wore a blue silk kimono with splashes of white. It reminded him of a rapid river. Her hair was also blue, but a few shades lighter than her clothing. Lavender eyes gazed into his emerald ones.

"Have you forgotten me, Kohaku?" She murmured.

His brows knit together, "I know you?"

She tsked at him, shaking her hair. It cascaded along her pale skin of her face.

"You should." She walked closer to his desk, "I am Haya. Spirit of the Haya river."

Suddenly, Haku couldn't breathe.

"Yes..." He said faintly, "I remember you. Your river was adjacent to mine."

She nodded, then rudely sat on the desk as though she owned it. Haku frowned at her.

"Our rivers met and merged into one, when your river still existed. But it's more than that and you know it, Kohaku."

She reached for his chin with her dainty fingers. Haku jerked away before their flesh could meet. Haya smirked.

"Our souls are meant to be one, Kohaku. You are my mate. I am yours." She leaned in toward him.

He had to admit her scent enticed him. Against his will, he leaned toward her, tilting his head awaiting some sort of union. He felt the heat of her skin and his spirit soared. Before they could finally touch, he moved away quickly.

Haya's eyes widened at first, but her features soon formed a scowl. She growled at him. Haku growled back as he stood, slamming his hands on his desk. The room shook in response.

"Get out!" He snarled

Haya laughed. She stood from the desk, sensually as though trying to entice him. When she realized that he couldn't care less, she snarled at him.

"Is this about your human?" She said "human" as though the word was diseased.

The question startled Haku. He took a step back, swallowing hard. I think of her sometimes...but...

"I have no human." He said to Haya, his voice a warning that she was crossing the line.

Haya smirked at him. She crossed her arms across her chest as though impatient.

"I've heard from other spirits who've come between worlds. You helped her when she and her family got trapped here. You can't deny it."

"I don't deny anything. Just because I helped her, doesn't mean that she belongs to me."

The blue dragon woman moved to him. Their bodies were barely an inch apart. Waves of yearning washed over him. He wanted to touch her. Haku hated her for it.

"Do you want her?" Haya asked with anger tainting her words.

"She was just a child!"

The woman before him raised her perfect, blue eyebrow.

"Not anymore she isn't. She's a woman now."

I'm sure she's very beautiful. His heart thumped in his chest at the thought. For some reason, it made him feel guilty to think of Chihiro that way.

"How would you know?" Haku growled.

"I have ways of knowing."

Haku's eyes filled with rage. He grabbed Haya's arms, digging his nails into her.

"If you go near her, I swear--" He let the river spirit go, causing her to stumble backward, "Get OUT!" he roared, causing the room to tremble again.

Haya smirked, then bowed deeply.

"As you wish, my mate." With a haughty air, she sauntered out of the room

Haku used his magic to slam the door behind her. He flopped into his desk chair and covered his face with his shaking hands. He'd never felt such rage before. Nor such lust.

"Chihiro..." he whispered, remembering his young friend.

He worried for her now. Perhaps Haya's words were hollow. He hoped they were. The idea of that woman knowing too much about Chihiro made his heart ache with fear.

He wrapped his arms around himself, drowning the fear in the pit of his stomach. Suddenly he felt warm and comfored.

"No matter what, I'll protect you, Chihiro." He said with resolve.

In the silence of his office, he could have sworn he'd heard a whisper. Shaking his head, he brushed it off. No one was there to say, "Thank you." It must have been his imagination.


A/N2: I hope you've enjoyed what I have so far. This story is going to be pretty straight forward. Oh, and if this first part seems a little pretentious, I'm sorry. I was going for a fairy-tale vibe in the very beginning. After this, I plan on being a little more laid back with the tale. If you get the chance, I'd love reviews. Thanks!

--EDB