The Lost Spirit: One Step at a Time

A/N: MWAHAHAHA I'm back for the delivery of the next chapter! ^^ Heehee this week has been really flu-ful and yeah… *sniff sniff* my nose has been annoyingly explosive! So… I really hope you guys enjoy this chapter! :3

Haku: *Takes off shirt*

Chihiro: Oh no, you don't! At least let me get out of here before you start changing!

Haku: I know you're just dying to see. *smirks*

Chihiro: No! You pervert! I'm not interested in looking at your yummy abs or-

Haku: Go on, I like what you're saying.

Chihiro: *blushes* I'm out of here.

(A/N: I think I like this dialogue HAHAHA.)

"Tell me," I panted, "how does running help… in any…way?" Haku turned around, his sweat making his skin glisten beautifully. I averted my eyes, feeling myself begin to blush. "It doesn't," he replied simply, smirking at me. After running so many rounds, he didn't seem tired at all, other than a slightly faster rate of breathing. At his words, I snapped up and almost punched him. "You mean, you made me run so much, for nothing?!"

Haku shrugged. "It's not for nothing, Chihiro. It can help you lose some wei- Hey! Don't hit me!" I noticed the water that was already surging out my palms, about to hit him. Instinctively, I tried to stop it, and it slowed down a little, but went ahead towards Haku anyway. He sighed, commanding the water to stop just before it could touch him, and it dissipated into the air immediately.

I gawked at him. "How did you do that?"

He flashed me a grin. "Takes practice. And that's what you're going to do."

I sighed. I was never really one for listening to boring lectures… "Don't give up on me now, Chihiro. Focus." Haku's hand landed on my head and spun my head towards his, bringing our faces a mere few centimeters apart. I felt my cheeks redden and pulled back fiercely. He smirked. "Clear your head and listen to me, Chihiro. If not you'll end up attacking people you don't know if you can't control yourself."

Sighing exaggeratedly, I exhibited a get-on-with-it look, causing him to chuckle deeply. "Okay, so let's get started. What's water to you?"

I frowned. "Are you serious? You're going to go all psychologist on me now?" He rolled his eyes, annoyed. "Just do as I say, Chihiro. The faster you get this done, the faster you can try fighting me." At that, my eyes lit up in anticipation. Boy, it would be fun thrashing him at his own game. "So?" his eyebrow cocked up. "What?" I asked, confused. "My earlier question..?"

"Oh, um, I… don't know…" I fiddled awkwardly with my fingers. I didn't exactly want to think about water. "It's hard, I know. So what is it?" Haku's voice had softened. Sadness, grief and anger started to overwhelm me at once, images flooding my mind. "…I hate it…" I muttered. When Haku remained silent, I decided he was fine with dropping the topic. "Can we move on?" I whispered emotionlessly. Clearing his throat, he nodded. "Alright. So anyway, I'll need to see what kind of a magic user you are. Hold out your palm." Hesitantly, I opened my palm.

"Make water levitate above it."

Confused, I did as told. Fixating my eyes on my open hand, I imagined water flowing through my arms, giving me a thrilling sensation that sent tingles down my arm. It felt as if water was flowing through it at lightning speed, and in no time, water sprung out of my hand as gracefully as I could possibly muster. Haku nodded approvingly and I stopped. "Tell me, how did you do that?" His tone was now that of a professional coach. "I just imagined water flowing, and there it went," I stated just as formally.

A tiny smile formed on his lips. "Ahh… I see now." I frowned as he continued mumbling to himself like some old man with dra-mentia. Heh, see what I did there? Dra-mentia… Never mind. "Um, earth to Haku? I'm still here. So what about it?"

"There're different types of magic users in the Spirit World. You know how there are visual, auditory, kinesthetic and read/write learners as you put it in the human world?"

I nodded apprehensively. "So, what kind of magic user am I?"

"Apart from those 4, there's another category for magic users. You're a feeling magic user, but I think you're a visual magic user too," he smiled, making gestures as if they could magically make me understand everything he'd just said.

"So I'm a feeling-cum-visual magic user… What's a feeling magic user?"

He let out a small sigh as if I'd just asked a stupid question. "I use my feelings when I'm using magic?" I checked, to which he nodded. And here I was thinking it was some complicated stuff. "Alright, so your powers work in the way you visualize it to be, but it also works depending on your mood. I'm not sure about how your mood and magic works, so we'll just have to try. But for now, imagine getting that… squirrel over there wet."

I followed his index finger to an adorable squirrel that was nibbling contentedly on its new-found nut a distance away near a tree. "You want me to bother that little thing? No thanks. It just might find me and start clawing my eyes out or something."

"Actually, it'll bite you eyes out." I shot Haku a dirty look and he held up his hands in a what-did-I-do pose. He grinned and shifted his index finger to point at a tree nearby. "Shoot some water towards it."

Holding out my right palm, it faced the tree and I closed my eyes, imagining water splashing roughly against it. My ears perked up at the sound of splashing water and slowly my eyes opened to the sight of wave-like waters surrounding the bottom of the tree. I smiled, satisfied with my work, but all too soon, it dropped while my feet planted themselves firmly onto the ground. The same images flooded my mind again.

Mom and Dad falling into the water, the waves splashing mercilessly and relentlessly onto the vulnerable sand on shore while they screamed in terror.

"Chihiro! Chihiro, snap out of it!" A rough shaking of my shoulders snapped me out of my thoughts. Lips quivering, I looked up to see Haku holding my hand. Dumbfounded, I looked to see the water gone. Staring at him questioningly, words formed at the tip of my tongue but they wouldn't come out. "That's enough for the day. You're tired, Chihiro. You'll get tired easily when you first use magic. Come, I'll carry you back."

Without complaint, I remained stiff as he picked me up wordlessly, heading back to the cottage. He pressed my head against his brick-hard chest, muttering words I couldn't make out; nothing was on my mind at the moment. Suddenly feeling exhausted, drowsiness washed over me and I soon found my eyelids falling at a slow and steady pace, with only the sound of crashing waves filling my head.

"Go on," Haku coaxed gently. I swallowed the lump in my throat and took a few deep breaths to steady myself. Running through my fingertips on the hard, cold wood, I could hear voices on the other end having just another usual conversation. I took a step back, my heels ready to take a sprint out of the hall, but Haku held on stubbornly to me, rendering me incapable of even budging. "It's alright. Just go, Chihiro."

My heart beat quickly as I watched Haku make 3 light knocks on the polished door. "Come in," the sweet, motherly voice came. Knowing there was no escape for me, I plucked up whatever courage I did not possess and stepped into the brightly illuminated room with the help of warm sunrays, though they quickly turned into fireballs when the air turned cold in an instant. "I'll leave you 3 alone, then." Haku quietly excused himself and left the room, my heart sinking upon hearing the silent 'click' of the door closing.

Mom looked away and pretended to continue with her knitting while Dad pretended to ignore me and continued polishing his rod. After a few seconds of fidgeting about uncomfortably, I cleared my throat.

"M-Mom, Dad," I started slowly, at the same time noticing they had not bothered to change their stances. "I'm sorry…" I whispered softly. They acted as if they hadn't heard a thing.

My chest constricted as hurt crept into me, seeing that they were still bent on feigning ignorance. It was the same feeling from 4 years ago.

A part of me was angry because they were not even bothering to acknowledge my presence, nor did they care to consider my apology… but then again, who was I to get angry? They had every right to be mad at me; I caused their deaths, I caused them worry; all I've been was a burden to them. Honestly, I didn't think I was a good daughter to even begin with. And yet, here I was getting angry because they wouldn't forgive me. It wasn't as if they were obliged to do so anyway. "At least apologize, Chihiro. They'll forgive you," Haku had persuaded. I silently scoffed as a wet tear slid down my cheek.

Without a warning, I squeaked in surprise when I found myself in Dad's arms. "You're a good girl, Chihiro…" he murmured, ruffling my hair gently. It felt as if I'd just gulped down 5 full cups of warm honey, and all the warmness was filling me whole, instigating more tears to spill. They felt warm against my cheeks before seeping into his shirt. I heard Mom get off her chair and as expected, Dad released me, allowing me and Mom some hugging time as well. I squeezed her back, feeling my shoulder begin to get a little damp where her chin rested.

"I'm sorry…" I whispered and she nodded lovingly in response, her hands rubbing my back soothingly as both of us sniffed at the same time. I let out a short breath of laughter and she did the same. "We want to clear one thing up with you though, young lady."

Wiping away my tears, they placed each of their hands placed atop mine. "You're not responsible for our deaths."

And they watched as I sucked in a sharp breath. "But-" I started to protest.

"No 'buts', missy. You," Dad poked his index finger at my forehead, "are not responsible. Everything was an accident." I was about to protest further when Mom took over. "Chihiro, sweetie, it was an accident no one wanted. Do you understand that?" I nodded slowly. "Besides, if we never died, then all these would not have happened; we would not have met all these wonderful people, and you wouldn't have met Haku again, would you?"

"Zeniba and Haku have told us everything already," Dad cut in before I could ask. I hunched and leaned back slightly, thinking. It was true that perhaps I would never have returned to this place to be with Haku, or if I did, wouldn't have been able to stay that way since we were 2 completely different beings from 2 completely different worlds. "All things happen for a reason; maybe you won't like it at first, but later, you'll find that everything worked out accordingly for the best," Mom concluded wisely.

Deciding to bring out the white flags, I got up. "Okay, I got it, Mom, Dad. Thanks." I smiled a genuine smile. "Let it go, Chihiro. Promise us that?" Mom pleaded. After hesitating for a moment, I closed my eyes and felt the lock on my heart slowly, yet surely starting to release its holds.


"Come on, Chihiro," Haku dragged me forcefully by the legs while I stubbornly resisted by grabbing tightly onto the door. "I'm too tired! Let me sleep a while more!" I whined, trying my best puppy-dog look, which didn't work… as usual. Dang, I really needed to work on it. "It's already been 4 days since the last training session, and you need to practice!"

"Ah!" I shouted when he finally succeeded. He then flung me over his shoulder and started for our training spot with extraordinary speed. The wind had fun messing up my already tangled hair strands, and when we finally reached our destination, I was sure I looked like a ghost. Scrambling off of Haku, I ran off behind a tree to arrange my hair, embarrassed of letting him see me in such an unattractive manner.

After finger-combing my hair for a few minutes, I ran back to Haku who was folding his arms and tapping his feet impatiently. "Finally!" he exclaimed exaggeratedly, "Let's get to work. We'll start with meditating first. Come." He knelt on the grass, cuing me to follow suit. I knelt, irked by the wet stuff surrounding my kneecaps. Imitating him was kind of interesting, but annoying at the same time. I couldn't get anything right, which earned me a lot of scolding and fixing of my limbs' positions. "There we go. All set. Now, just breathe in deeply, and imagine water flowing through your body. Concentrate and focus on the element that bines you and your magical being together."

Nodding seriously, my eyelids shut close and after maintaining my 'peace', visualized water flowing through every vein of my being. 'Connect, connect, connect…' I chanted in my head. Focusing all of my mental energy on it, drops of water appeared in my vision, before slowly increasing into streams of water flowing throughout my body. I felt my entire being gain energy, yet it wasn't only my physical being; it was as if… there was someone or something else… hidden within…

"You know… if you're done, you can stop." Haku's voice broke my trance effectively, and I blinked in question. "How long have I been doing that?"

"15 minutes. Not bad for a first-timer… I guess you've much more potential than I thought you'd have. Then again, I underestimate you too much," he replied, getting up.

Getting up, I dusted off the dirt on my legs and clothes. "Okay, try getting me wet, Chihiro," he challenged with a wide grin on his face. My grin was probably being reflected as well, as the thought of managing to hit him intentionally appealed greatly. He backpedaled a distance away and nodded as the cue to start. Staring at my palms, 2 balls of water surfaced and using all my arm strength, I threw them at Haku. He dodged them easily, much to my disappointment, and they ended up splashing sadly against the grass.

Trying it again and again proved unsuccessful. It all failed, and I was starting to get annoyed. Haku had such a wide smirk on his face I really wanted to hit him. "Is that all you got?" he shouted back. I scowled fiercely and looked away, soaking in my frustration. Just as I was about to come up with more water balls though, I was suddenly hit by a large amount of water. Shocked, I glanced up at Haku with big eyes who laughed deeply in return. Feeling the water seep into my underwear was really uncomfortable; getting wet was never something I could tolerate easily.

That did it. Gritting my teeth, I looked at the ground Haku was standing on and continued even more determinedly as I felt my powers working. Since he would probably be able to feel it soon, I had to hurry. "Aww, Chihiro, don't be mad. I was just-"

He was cut off when gusts of water burst from the ground beneath him, too fast for him to react in the slightest. My scowl turned into a smirk as I watched the flustered boy attempt to regain his balance, now soaking wet as I stopped the flow of water. "Not bad…" he commented, trudging over to me. The sound of his squeaking sandals made me giggle over my victory. "That was a trick I took a while to discover, Chihiro. How did you know?"

I grinned. "Groundwater. If I'm not wrong, I studied a lot."

He nodded approvingly. "Well, for one thing, obviously anger and frustration makes you even more powerful. I'm not sure about other emotions, but I guess we'll just leave it for another day. You should be getting tired by now after that blast you pulled." True enough, my shoulders sagged and I stretched my neck that was starting to ache. Smiling, we headed back.

"By the way, Chihiro, do you practice a lot? That was a good one for your level."

"I'm just naturally skillful, I guess."

He snorted. "Narcissist."

"Aww, you make it sound like it's a bad thing," I fake pouted, then grinned when he rolled his eyes.

A/N: Well… just in case you didn't notice, the last bit of conversation was from parts of their 'playtimes' together in previous chapters. Thank you guys for all of your lovely reviews! They really made my day! Heehee a million thanks to you guys who reviewed the previous chapter:

michelle88222, LeeshyLoo, RedRoseSQB, Jess2709, Chihiro no Ryuu and Carly! :DDD

And definitely not forgetting those who have reviewed this story before:

WhiteTiger246, WildCroconaw, sonia- s.a, , Lupa Eira, Cristal R, Guest(s?), Scarlet Ammo 19, hello, skypanda, Goldenapples, toastedCroissants and Aria Mai Olican-Wren! (I went in order by chapter ^^)

THANKS! I realize this is my first time acknowledging you guys who have been reviewing and I plan to do that from now on because you guys are really the reason I've been working hard at this story and your encouragements have been keeping me going even when I've lost confidence multiple times. And LOL I make this sound like it's the last chapter, don't I? XD but nah, I don't think thanking someone needs a fixed time and date, so yeah. Thanks a bunch!

Oh and RedRoseSQB, thanks for the really fantastic idea! That got me thinking, and… I won't leak anything. Did I choose to use your idea, or did I not? *evil grin* My lips are sealed! *throws away the key* I'm gonna save you guys the surprise for the plot twist! Carry on reading and you'll find out!

Thanks again for reading this chapter and for your patience as well! I will work hard and try to meet the 1-week deadline for updating the next chapter! Hopefully the latest maximum for future chapters will be two weeks. But anyway, I'll just give you guys a head's up if I'm really extra busy in the weeks to come the chapter before yea.

I realize my A/Ns take up a lot of the chapter space… sorry about that…