Disclaimer: I own nothing even related to Spirited Away. Sadness.

Author's Note: This came to me while listening to "Wasted Daylight" by The Stars and reading Spirited Away fanfiction. It seems to me that this fandom's stories are pretty repetitious - Chihiro leaves, ten plus years later she meets Haku in High School. I got tired of it, and I wanted to write something a little different. So, here it is!

This story is named after the aforementioned song. I recommend listening to it as you read this! :D

Also: In this fic, Kohaku's river is near a hospital, and the river is pretty deep. Chihiro had a baby brother. "Midori" means green eyes. (Or at least, that's what I was told)

Warning: SLASH, YAOI, BL, whatever you want to call it.

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Wasted Daylight

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I.

It hurts, lying to her like this, but it's the only way he gets to meet him again.

Over the years, he always found an excuse to draw her back to him. He isn't blind: He knows that with each visit, each glance, the heat in her eyes grows, that she desires more out of their meetings than words.

But he can't bring himself to do it.

He just can't tell her.

It's not you I dream of seeing each night, Chihiro, he thinks. I'm sorry, but it just isn't.

And it's not that she isn't attractive, because she is. Over the years, she'd thinned out, lost her baby fat.

Track, she tells him when he asks her. I lost the weight when I joined track.

The unruly fringe of her hair had lengthened and smoothed, lying placidly against her back. Her hair had brightened with confidence into a lustrous brunette, curled around her shapely, even face. When he looks at her, he no longer sees a mouse; there is a cat there, regal and calm and beautiful.

Even so, he cannot find it in himself to love her.

Because when their eyes touch, he sees not a young woman, but a boy child. A child by the river.

The boy with one thousand cranes.

II.

The day is a grey porridge, clouds swirling thickly in the sky. Kohaku lies in the river, relishing the feel of water on his skin. It's going to rain, he thinks. No people will come today.

This thought makes him a little sad, but at the same time, he is relieved. It means a day when no trash will wade into him, when no wrappers will clog up his pores.

"Kohaku-san?"

The voice is soft, and when Kohaku opens his eyes, he is surprised to see that a human has ventured outside of the shelter of his buildings despite the sky's warning. It is a child, no older than nine, with large brown eyes in his pale face. His clothing is the color of his skin; blank white paper, rustling in the wind. His toes sink into the wet earth of the bank.

He moves as if his legs hurt, so it is with great difficulty that he makes his way to the ground. His feet dangle over the edge, toes dipping slightly into the water.

Kohaku watches him. The boy coughs, then reaches towards his thigh, fingering a hidden paper pocket. Slowly, he lifts something out.

A paper crane.

He rotates it in his fingers, the white of the paper blending with the porcelain of his skin. Finally he blows it off his fingers. It lands in the river, and for a moment Kohaku is incensed, but then the boy begins to speak.

"River spirit, please grant my wish. Please make mommy stop crying and let me get better."

There is pain in Kohaku's chest at his words, but he pushes it down. "It's just a human," he tells himself. "Don't get involved. It has nothing to do with you. When he leaves, just get rid of it."

But when men in white suits come and drag the boy away, he says, "Well, one piece of paper won't hurt me."

How wrong a spirit can be.

III.

The next day, he's back.

"River-san!" the boy chirps, running to the edge once more. Like before, Kohaku is drifting in the midst of the water, one watchful eye on the boy.

"I brought another crane today," he smiles then, flashing a broken toothed grin at him. "Please grant my wish!"

The spirit merely grunted. But, like before, he merely looks away when the crane is swallowed by the river, joining its brother at the end.

IV.

He visits him for a year.

Kohaku can only sit and watch as the young boy's health deteriorates. His full face dwindles, and the flesh of his body seems to melt away before his eyes. His skin is white and pasty like snow. The only thing unchanged about him was his eyes: Bright and beautiful and the color of rich chocolate, they stick out of his thin face.

With each visit, the boy brings a crane and a story. At first, Kohaku disregards the boy's recalling of the days events, but in time he finds himself leaning against the bank, quiet and rapt as the child speaks.

"And then, Chihiro shared her cookie with me, even though the doctor said no," he grinned at the river. "Isn't that so nice of nee-san? She says that when I'm all better, we can play together again like before. . ."

Kohaku finds himself smiling back at the boy. His cheeks feel warm despite the temperature of the water, and the slow waves of the river no longer match the pacing of his heart.

"Yeah, that's nice. . ." he replies, fully aware the boy can not hear him. To his surprise, the child cocks his head.

"I'm glad you think so too, Midori-chan!" he giggles before taking out a crane and placing it in the water, clasping his hands in prayer. "River spirit, please grant my wish. Please make mommy stop crying and let me get better."

Kohaku is shocked.

As always, the crane goes untouched, floating down the river.

V.

One day, the boy doesn't come.

The spirit finds himself unusually anxious.

"It doesn't matter," he says aloud.

He doesn't believe himself.

He is just a paper river, white and blue against the ever-gray sky.

VI.

Two days later, the boy returns.

There is no laughter on his lips. There is no enthusiasm in his eyes. He is an empty husk of his former self.

"One week, Midori-chan," he tells the river kindly. As if he was the letting Kohaku down softly. "They tell me I have one week. Mommy wants me to spend it with her and nee-san and Daddy, but I want to spend it with you."

The blow is physical as well as mental. There is a stabbing pain in Kohaku's chest, as well as a voice in the back of his head. "I told you," it whispers. "I told you not to get involved."

But Kohaku doesn't care.

If the spirit could have gone back in time to stop the child from ever approaching him, he wouldn't have.

Not for the world.

His eyes are stinging, and a single blue tear falls down his cheek.

"Don't cry, Midori-chan." the boy says softly. "You're too pretty to cry. Smile for me, and let me see your pretty eyes."

And suddenly, it feels as if Kohaku is the one who's dying.

VII.

Seven days later, the boy dies.

He never learned his name.

He feels numb.

He is just a paper river, white and blue against the ever-gray sky.

VIII.

A girl comes to the river.

He knows who she is the minute he lays eyes on her. Chihiro.

"He's dead."

He knows. He didn't need her to tell him that. But she is not talking to him. She's talking to the cranes that litter the surface of his river.

Suddenly, she runs at the river, slipping and tumbling into the sea of blue and white. Kohaku swirls around her, trying to pull her back up, but she's fighting him. She wants to drown.

"Chihiro!" a woman reaches into the water, grabbing Chihiro by the back of her shirt. "Get out of the river! Look at it, it's filthy! Someone really needs to clean this river. It's full of trash. I'm taking you to your mother to get you cleaned for the funeral."

As she is dragged away, a one shoed Chihiro looks at him, tears streaming down his face.

"Chihiro," he says softly, committing her name to memory.

That day, the hospital received a complaint about the river.

Three days later, they cemented it up.

That night, it rained.

IX.

He can't love her.

Even though she's beautiful.

He can't love her.

Because his heart belongs to her brother.