The Path of Water

By Arlia'Devi

Disclaimer: I do not own Spirited Away in any respect; all rights go to Hayao Miyazaki and associates. I make no money from this.

This is the second volume of my Spirited Away fanfiction. I ask you to please begin at 'The Path of Water: Volume One", if you've stumbled here and are remotely interested. It will make a lot more sense, trust me.

To those who have been eagerly awaiting the second instalment of this series, thank you for your patience and wait no more!

The Path of Water

Volume Two.

I: Desperado

"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest."
~ Confucius

Chihiro sighed and ran her finger over the mouse cursor and scrolled the online news page down. With her head resting in her hand, her eyes read over that day's latest news headlines.

Interest rates down as the big banks make the 'Big Cut'!

Dani and Akira – the battle that's tearing them apart.

How to lose five pounds in five days – the coconut detox way!


It was beginning to get insufferable. True, the first week had been fine – she'd actually managed to not think about Haku as to get into the horribly depressing zone of wanting and self-loathing, and that had been nice. She'd busied herself with chores with her mother, watching television and travelling to the next town to do grocery shopping. The following week she'd read books she'd never had time to read and watched movies until her eyes had bled. The third week, Yuuko began to get worried and voiced her concerns – voiced the concerns Chihiro wasn't willing to accept.

"Well," Yuuko had said while leaning on a kitchen bench, her arms crossed over her chest and her eyebrows furrowed. At that time, it had been just a little over two weeks. "I just don't understand Chihiro…," then she sucked in a breath and looked over to her daughter, and her eyes conveyed everything Chihiro didn't want to say.

Now, it was bordering on a month.

A month without any contact.

He'd said it would be a week, two at most, and yet here she was, almost four of those promised weeks later. She had nothing to do but think of him – wonder if he was still alive, wondering if everything he had said was a lie. No. He'd never lie to her, would he?

At four weeks she was beginning to doubt things – doubt his word, and doubt everything they'd done together. Had the past six months meant nothing to him, really, and this was his way out? Had he tricked her, or deceived her? Had Rin been right? Dragons were cunning by nature, she'd told her that one of the first nights she'd arrived in the spirit world. Had she been too naïve and blind to realise he'd been playing her like a fool?

And there was that horribly depressing zone she'd been trying so hard to avoid.

Five months ago, she'd stumbled into the spirit world and had been encapsulated in the mythical world, just as she had been when she was 10. Suddenly she was back with Rin, Kamaji and Haku (and a few new others!), and she didn't want to leave; not immediately. The scholar in her was curious - she'd only just skimmed the surface of this strange world when she'd visited a decade ago, what else was there to learn?

She'd made up a bargain with Haku. He promised to tell her all she needed to know, and living at the bathhouse would teach her. He gave her six months, and she took it.

And it had only taken them three months to fall madly in love.

Chihiro shut down the computer and pulled on a pair of sneakers. There was a bicycle out in the shed she rescued from the spiders, before taking it and speeding down the hill. She needed to get out of that house. It was suffocating.

Outside the wind felt nice whizzing past her face, and making her pony tail flap in the breeze behind her head. On the downhill slope, Chihiro picked up enough speed to make her feel like she was flying down, carefully manoeuvring around corners and cars before she made it to the base of the hill. To her right was the Enchanted Forest; it had followed her all the way down the hill and now she stood at the mouth of it – where the tyre tracks of unknown cars ran into the darkness. She stopped her bike, resting one foot on the ground and studied the little houses pushed up against the tree trunk.

Some people think little spirits live in there…

They'd fallen in love and he'd asked her to marry him, in both the human and spirit term of the word. She had thought it was the most romantic thing she'd ever seen. This man, this dragon man was one of the most complex things on the wolrd she'd encountered, and yet, she always seemed to figure him out. They had some sort of connection she couldn't ever pin-point and the months they'd had together had been bliss.

He'd always been worried about the unsettlement in the Western Lands, and in the Imperial Palace... Maybe, if only she'd listened...

If only she'd taken it more seriously...

Chihiro sighed and kicked off the ground, pedalling into the forest. Following the tyre tracks, she made her way through a bumpy, unused track slowly. She stopped when she passed the ugly statue, half hidden in the foliage, smiling at her. It's right side was covered in moss, but the side towards the spirit world was clean. Damn, that thing was ugly. The statue watched her blankly. Chihiro pressed on.

By the time she reached the human side of the train station, she didn't know how much time had passed. It felt like a long time, and she was exhausted from the ride. The bike fell to the ground with a clatter as Chihiro walked to the train station entrance.

She could see the other side at the other end of the tunnel. It was sunny day, and if she squinted, she could make out the skies and grass. Other than that, it was all dark and gloomy.

It was right there.

"You said you'd come back for me!" she screamed into the tunnel, her voice echoing through the empty space. "You said it would only be a couple of weeks!"

The wind ruffled the leaves above her in response. The forest was silent.

"If you never wanted to see me again you could have just said so!" she yelled. "God damn it, Haku!"

If only she'd listened. If only she'd taken it seriously, maybe she wouldn't have been here - abandoned.

She kicked the wall with a grunt and fell to her knees, crying. There was nothing out here, except for the odd bird or lizard listening to her screaming. Chihiro sniffed and wiped her running nose on her sleeve, staring ahead into the tunnel. She sighed and stood up again, her hot angry tears being batted away with quick fingers.

"Fine," she mumbled out, turning on her heel and stalking back to her bicycle. "Be that way." She hauled the rickety thing back into an upright position and walked it back out of the forest.

The dreams had started two weeks ago. Chihiro woke up in the middle of the night, a coat sheet of sweat covering her body. She stumbled out of bed, her legs feeling heavy and numb and went downstairs for a glass of water and tried to banish the thoughts from her head.

Haku unconscious. Haku bleeding. Haku – dead.

That was how they usually went. She saw him fall, and ran to his side, but she was always too late. He died in her arms, and his blood stained her skin and clothes. Sometimes he was in dragon form, sometimes he wasn't. When he wasn't, he tried to spit out words through the blood, something like, "I'm sorry," or "I love you," before he passed. It was horrific, and Chihiro always woke up with a start.

This time, however, it had been different.

He'd been in his office, sitting by his desk doing paperwork. It all seemed so wonderfully normal, Chihiro felt her heart swell at the image of her man working in their quarters. He seemed happy this time. The room was being warmed by a fire crackling healthily in the hearth. Smiling, Chihiro tried to get his attention by calling out his name, but he didn't look up. His pen ran across the paper, and his eyes followed the symbols down as he wrote.

She called out his name again, only for it to be echoed by another woman's voice. Rin's voice.

Rin entered behind her, passing through Chihiro as if she was nothing. Was she… was she disappearing? That happened to beings that didn't belong in the world, but...

"Rin," Haku rose from his desk.

"We have a problem down on floor sixteen," she said and Haku nodded, removing himself from his desk and following Rin out the door, passing through Chihiro in the process.

In his departure, she said the only thing she could think of.

"Why didn't you come back to me?!" she screamed at him.

Haku paused a moment, his hands grasping the doorknob as he looked around the room warily.

"Haku?" Rin called nervously from ahead. "Is something wrong?"

Haku hesitated, scanning the room once again.

"Nothing," he grunted eventually. "I just thought I heard something, but it's nothing."

He shut the door behind him. Chihiro bolted up to a sitting position in her bed, gasping and clutching at her aching chest.

"God damn it, Haku," she griped, rolling her lead-heavy legs out of bed to stumble downstairs and grab a glass of water. Not long after, she had collapsed at the dining room table, muffling her sobs with her hands so she wouldn't wake her parents.

At six weeks her mother had said, "Are you sure you don't want to come tonight, honey?"

Chihiro shook her head and switched the channel on the television. "I'm sure, Mama. You two have a good time."

Yuuko sucked in a breath before looking at her husband. Aiko only nodded once and said to his daughter, "Alright, well, you be good."

"I'm twenty," Chihiro smiled well-naturedly at her father, getting up to grab a frozen pizza from the freezer, passing her father. She gave him a small kiss on the cheek. "I can look after myself. Besides, it looks like it might rain tonight and there's a good movie on television tonight."

Yuuko nodded and smiled. "Well, alright," she said. "We won't be back late."

"Stay out as long as you like," Chihiro replied, putting the pizza in the oven. "Just don't get caught out in the rain."

"Weatherman said there are storm clouds rolling in," Aiko sucked in a sharp breath.

"My poor snow peas, I hope they don't get ripped off their grids," Yuuko pouted, throwing a shawl over her shoulders. Her husband led them towards the back door where the car was parked. "Alright, dear, have a nice time tonight."

"You too," Chihiro smiled, waving her parent's goodbye. She heard the car reverse out of the driveway, and then the tyres crunch down the street.

Chihiro sighed and opened a bottle of cheap wine and pouring a generous glass before flicking the channel to the news.

"And to the weather," the news anchor said. There was a transition to a man in front of the green-screened local area.

"Thanks," acknowledged the weather man, "but we're in for some nasty weather tonight. It's really going to whip up into frenzy tonight, with strong weather warnings authorised for the area. There will be strong winds, thunder and lightning. We're hoping the storm to pass by early morning, and it should roll in about nine o'clock. That will give you all some time to lock those cats and dogs up before it really starts raining cats and dogs."

Chihiro rolled her eyes, changed the channel back to the movie and went to grab her pizza.

Pizza, she hummed over the frozen meal… the one thing the spirit world has not invented. And yet it's so essential to human survival all over the world.

Chihiro settled in to watch the mindless movie, eat mindless junk food and drink a mindless amount of cheap wine. Although she didn't plan to get hammered by herself, suddenly half the bottle was gone and she was feeling kind of tingly and warm.

Chihiro ran upstairs, pulling off her spring/summer pyjamas for a pair of parachute pants and a windbreaker. There was a pair of gumboots a size too small for her in the back of her wardrobe, and she hastily slipped those on as well, before tying her hair back with a band. She grabbed a poncho on the way out, slipping it over her head before exiting the house and heading to the back gate.

Outside, the rain was already coming down. Chihiro dug a torch from out her pocket and flicked it on, its beam cutting through the darkness and illuminating the path ahead of her.

The trail up the hill had turned to mud. The area was alive with the sounds of frogs gurgling to each other in the summer storm.

Chihiro trudged up the hillside, sinking her heels into areas where the trail had fallen away for mud as she tried to reach the top of the hill.

The peak of the hill was clear. It was cleared for a property development site that had never gone through. Now, it remained like the bald spot on the top of a man's head, with forest and housing surrounding it. She'd been up there one hundred times as a kid – it was a great place for seeing the stars.

The rain pelted down. In the distance she heard the rolling of thunder.

And thunder always followed lightning.

Thanks to all those readers who waited loyally for the next installment. Here it is! It's going to be updated once a week again, as the other fan-fiction was. I'm looking for an editor for this fanfiction, the details are on my profile and please don't hesitate to PM me if you're interested (I don't bite!).

I had to upload this as Path of Water Volume Two, which I thought was totally lame. I originally wanted to call both fanfics "The Path of Water", but if anyone has a water related suggestion for this fanfic to be called, then I'm all for it. If not, I guess I'll just stick with this one.

Thanks to all the readers who reviewed The Path of Water vol 1 - it reached over 1000 reviews while I was on my very short hiatus. I was overwhelmed and so happy - thank you for your support.

That's all I have to say at this point. Until next time, please take the time to leave a quick review before you go!