Chapter 10: Afraid to Love

Disclaimer: I don’t own Spirited Away. Just re-posting the story by moviefan-92

(A/N: Hello. I’m back. Before I get started, I would like to thank MangaGirl199427 for pointing out my mistake with Lin’s name and that I have gone back and fixed it. I’m glad you pointed that out when you did. If anyone else spots a mistake like that, please tell me so I can fix it. I was also asked what Haku does at the bathhouse. He does pretty much the same thing he did before he met Chihiro, only now Yubaba can’t force him with her black slug thing, and he’s no longer her apprentice.

Chapter 10: Afraid to Love

Now, I know you’ve all been waiting for more, and I thank you for your patience. I will keep you waiting no longer. In this chapter, Haku finally reveals why he wants Chihiro to return to the human world so badly.) ~moviefan-92

Chihiro stormed angrily through the bathhouse. Even though she was only a human and had no powers whatsoever, several spirits were terrified at seeing her so angry. She actually scared away several customers. Yubaba wouldn’t be happy about losing business, but Chihiro was too angry to care.

‘Oh, that Haku!’ she thought angrily. ‘I can’t believe he did this. And Lin and Kamajii were in on it too. Some friends they are.’ As she continued her angry rampage, her anger slowly began to turn to despair. ‘Oh, and here I was actually thinking that there could be something between me and Haku. I was such a fool. I don’t know what I was thinking. He’s a spirit and I’m a human, it would never work. I was so stupid. He will never love me the way I love him. I wonder if he even cares that much about me. And that goes for Lin and Kamajii too. I can’t believe they were planning to send me away. How long have they been lying to me?’

This was really depressing. She needed someone to talk to. The three she would normally go to were out of the question, since they were the ones that upset her. Yubaba would do no good. She would probably just assure her that as long as she still had Chihiro’s contract that she was going to stay in the bathhouse. That lifted Chihiro’s spirits a bit, knowing that unless Yubaba tore up her contract that she wasn’t allowed to leave. She obviously didn’t know about Haku, Lin, and Kamajii’s plan to send her back to the human world either or else she would surely have put a stop to it, not wanting to lose her ‘best employee’ again. Still, that didn’t help the feeling of being betrayed. She wondered who else was in on this little plan of theirs.

Chihiro stopped suddenly as she realized something. Bôh, he had been upset about something for a while now. Did he know? Was he in on it too? She needed to find out. Right now she was feeling a little short on friends and needed to be with someone who wanted her around.

She headed for Yubaba’s office, not even bothering to knock, much to the doorknocker’s irritation. Yubaba looked up as Chihiro burst in her office.

“Haku already said you two were back.” Yubaba remarked, turning back to her paper work. “I hope you enjoyed your break, because we’re really busy today.”

“I need to see Bôh.” Said Chihiro.

Yubaba raised an eyebrow. “What for?”

“It’s personal.”

Yubaba’s eyes narrowed. “You just had a vacation, and now you want a break? Nice try, girl, but we’ve got customers.”

Chihiro became irritated. What had started out as a great day had quickly become a terrible one, and she didn’t need it to get any worse.

“Hey, Bôh!” Chihiro shouted, making the three green heads jump. “Your mom won’t let me come see you!”

The reaction was predictable and immediate. “Mama, let Chihiro come in!”

Yubaba glared at Chihiro. “Sweetie, Chihiro has work to do. She just had a fun weekend away and has to do her job now.” She said sweetly.

“Mama, if you don’t let Chihiro come in, I’ll start crying.”

Yubaba growled in frustration. She may deny Chihiro what she wanted, but she would never deny her precious baby boy, which normally worked in Chihiro’s favor.

“Ok.” The old witch groaned. “But make it quick, snookums. We’re very busy today.”

Chihiro smirked and entered Bôh’s room. The giant baby was nowhere to be seen. A giant hand suddenly popped out from under a pile of pillows and stuffed animals, grabbed Chihiro, and pulled her in.

“Yay, you’re back!” Bôh cheered. “I missed you!”

Chihiro was having trouble breathing as Bôh hugged her tightly. “Bôh, I was only gone for 2 days.”

“I still missed you. You’re my best friend. So, did you have fun on your trip with Haku?” Chihiro frowned. Bôh noticed her sadness and asked, “What happened? I thought you would want to spend some time alone with Haku.”

“I did.” Chihiro admitted. “It was going great until I found out that him, Lin, and Kamajii were secretly making plans to send me back to the human world.”

Bôh’s eyes widened. “Uh, oh.”

Chihiro could easily read the guilty look on Bôh’s baby face. “You knew?” Bôh pouted, confirming her suspicions. “I can’t believe it!” She pulled away from him and climbed out from under all the pillows. “Who else was in on this?”

The pile of pillows exploded as Bôh surfaced. “Just Yu-bird.”

“Yu-bird too!” Chihiro cried. “Why does everyone want me to leave?”

Bôh crawled over to her. “I don’t want you to leave, Chihiro. I was actually against everything they were saying.” Chihiro looked at him, hoping that one of her friends hadn’t betrayed her. “They kept saying that it was for your own good and that you weren’t thinking clearly when you decided to stay.”

Chihiro scowled. “How would they know?”

“They just think that you didn’t think the whole thing through completely and they don’t want you to make a mistake that you’ll end up regretting.”

“And you went along with this? Why didn’t you tell me?”

Bôh hung his head. He looked like he was going to cry. “Because I care about you, Chihiro. We all do, especially Haku. The spirit world is very dangerous to humans.”

Chihiro crossed her arms and turned away. “So I’ve been told.”

Bôh sniffed. “Chihiro, I’m sorry. Please don’t be mad at us. We were all just doing what we thought was best.”

Chihiro turned back to him. She felt her anger at her friends leaving her. Ok, so they hadn’t handled the situation the best way possible, but they were doing it out of concern for her. But what was so bad about letting her stay? She was more than willing to take the risks. Was there another reason they wanted her to leave?

“Bôh, tell me what exactly you guys talked about.” She said.

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Haku was feeling terrible. At the moment, he was laying face down on his bed, muttering what an idiot he’s been every now and then.

“I really screwed up this time.” He moaned. “Now she’s furious with me. What am I going to do?” A knock at the door interrupted his moping. He groaned and said in a barely audible voice. “Go away.” The person either didn’t hear him or didn’t want that answer because they knocked again. “Go away.” He said louder.

“Open this door right now, dragon!”

Haku sighed. That was Lin, and there was no way she would leave until she had her say. She was so stubborn.

Haku waved his hand and the door open, allowing Lin entrance. She walked over to his bed and observed him laying down with his face in his pillow for awhile.

“You know, it could be worse.” She said.

“How?” asked Haku, not even looking at her.

Unable to think of something off the top of her head, Lin merely said, “Use your imagination.”

Haku didn’t say anything. He just continued to lay down, not moving. Lin was beginning to lose her patience.

“For goodness sake, get up already! You’re acting like a child!”

Haku finally sat up. “I’m just trying to think of a way to make this better.” He cried. “I don’t want Chihiro to be mad at me.”

Lin rolled her eyes. “Join the club.”

Haku glared at her. He was in no mood for her attitude; he had bigger things to worry about. “This wouldn’t be happening if you and Kamajii had kept your mouths shut.” He growled.

Lin’s eyes widened. “What? You’re saying it’s my fault your girlfriend is mad at you?”

Haku ignored the ‘girlfriend’ remark. “No, I’m also saying that it’s Kamajii’s fault too.”

Lin growled in annoyance. “Well for your information, lover boy, if you hadn’t gotten caught up in the moment, I wouldn’t have had to go to Kamajii! Honestly, what were you thinking by merging your river with her?”

Haku was getting frustrated now. “It’s none of your business what I do!”

Lin didn’t back down. “It is when my friends are involved!” she shouted back, poking him in the chest. “I know you love her and just wanted to be close to her, but did you ever think of how it would affect her?”

Haku felt like he was missing something. “What are you talking about?”

Lin pulled her hair and cried out in her frustration. “You idiot! How can you not tell that she’s head over heels in love with you?”

Haku’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t start that again. It’s not funny.”

“It’s not a joke!” Lin shouted. “Don’t you notice the way she looks at you?”

“Stop it!”

“Why?”

“Because she can’t love me.”

Lin cried out in frustration again. “Why not?”

Haku didn’t have a ready answer, or at least not one he was willing to share. He turned away from Lin and said, “Just forget it. You wouldn’t understand. Besides, she has to go back to the human world, so there can be nothing between us.”

Lin was quiet for a moment. She was thinking about what she and Kamajii had been talking about after Chihiro walked in on their conversation.

“Maybe we shouldn’t make her go back.” She said.

Haku sighed. There was a great deal of sadness in that sigh. “Lin, we’ve talked about this, remember?”

Lin nodded, although her nod didn’t matter since Haku wasn’t facing her. “I do,” she said. “But who are we to tell Chihiro how to live her life. She knows the risks of staying here; she knows what she’s leaving behind in the human world, yet she’s still wants to stay. Maybe we should let her.”

“We can’t.”

“Why not?”

“We just can’t, ok!”

Getting tired of talking to Haku’s back, Lin walked around to face him. “No, it’s not ok! Why are you so dead set on sending her back?”

Haku turned away again. “You know why?”

Lin grabbed him and turned him around to face her again. “No, I don’t. And don’t give me that excuse of how it’s not safe for her and how she’s leaving her old life behind. There’s another reason, and I want to know what it is. Now tell me!”

“Because it’s too painful to have her here!” Haku shouted.

Lin was shocked by his outburst. Haku pulled away from her and began to leave. Slowly, what the river spirit had said began to click and Lin suddenly understood.

“Oh my…” she whispered. “That’s it. You’re afraid to love a human.”

Haku stopped. His body language told Lin everything she needed to know.

“So that’s it!” she cried. “I can’t believe I didn’t see it. You’re afraid to love her.”

“Lin…”

“No, answer me! I’m right, aren’t I? I’ve always known that you loved her, but I could never understand why you… This makes perfect sense now. I am such an idiot. How could I have not realized it sooner?”

Haku turned to her. “Stop it, Lin!”

“No, I won’t!” Lin shouted. “I now know what the problem is and I’m going to find a solution. Why are you afraid?”

Haku turned away and headed for the door. “Stay out of it. This is none of your business.”

Lin moved quickly. One moment she was standing in the middle of the room, the next she was blocking the door.

“Yes, it is my business.” She snapped. “Chihiro is like a sister to me. I want her to be happy. I can tell that she loves you, even if you can’t, and I can tell that you love her but are afraid. Now tell me what the problem is!”

Haku didn’t answer. He just stared at her coldly. “Move.”

Lin shook her head. “No.”

“I can make you.”

Lin knew he was telling the truth, but she didn’t back down. “If you don’t tell me, I’ll… I’ll… drag Zeniba into this!”

Haku’s eyes widened. “You wouldn’t dare.”

Haku knew Zeniba cared for Chihiro like she was her own daughter. He really didn’t want to get involved with Chihiro’s ‘Granny’ while Chihiro was already very angry with him.

“You want to know why?” Haku snapped. “It’s because it wouldn’t be fair to either of us!”

Lin raised an eyebrow. “Why are you talking about? Why won’t it be fair?”

Haku turned away again. He was doing that a lot and it was greatly annoying Lin.

“You really smart, figure it out yourself.”

Lin knew he was saying that just to annoy her, and it was working. Still, she didn’t say anything as she worked out what the problem was. Haku was right though, she was rather smart and it didn’t take her too long to figure out what the problem was.

“You’re afraid because she human.” She said. “And humans are mortal. You’re thinking of her life span.” Haku didn’t say anything, but Lin knew that she had just hit the nail on the head. “Now I understand. It’s her mortality that’s bothering you. The way you see it, you could be with her for about 60 years, but then you’ll lose her.”

Haku looked really upset. “That’s part of the reason.”

“What’s the other part?”

Haku wiped his eyes, trying his best not to let Lin see him so emotional. “She deserves someone that can take care of her forever. Not just in this life, but in the next one too. I’m immortal; I don’t die. But Chihiro, one day, she will. That’s the fate of all mortals. They die and are reunited in the afterlife with their loved ones. If Chihiro and I were ever together, she would die just like any other mortal, but I would continue to live on forever. The only way I would be able to see her again would be if I died too, and you know how rare and unlikely it is for a spirit to die. Chihiro deserves someone who will always be with her. This is why humans and spirits are separated by two different worlds, so this doesn’t happen.”

Lin was quiet the whole time Haku finally poured out his fears. When he finished, she gave him a sympathetic look. “But it has happened.” she said quietly. “You two love each other.”

“She doesn’t love me.” Haku insisted.

“You’re in denial!” Lin cried. “You just don’t want to believe that she loves you. Either that or you’re just too stupid to realize how she really feels.”

Haku didn’t want to talk anymore. “Go away.”

“Quit changing the subject.”

“I’m not changing the subject, I’m dropping it.”

Lin growled. “Well if there’s nothing that can change your mind about this, then it wouldn’t matter if I told you that I think that you’re a total idiot.”

Haku raised an eyebrow. “Oh, and how am I an idiot.”

Lin stomped her foot. “Because you should take what you can get out of life. If you love Chihiro like you say you do, and everyone else with eyes can see that she loves you just as much, then there shouldn’t be anything keeping you apart. Would you rather be happy with the one you love for as long as time allows, or would you rather just mope around dreaming about what you could have had?”

Haku sighed. “Lin, you don’t understand.”

“Yes, I do understand.”

“No, you don’t! I can’t do that to her. If it wasn’t for her mortality, I would try to be with her. But she needs someone that can be with her in both life and death.”

Lin snorted and turned to leave. “Maybe you should let her decide that.” She said before slamming the door.

Haku stared at the door more a moment before collapsing back on the bed. He had a lot to think about.

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Chihiro wasn’t satisfied with the reasons her friends had decided to send her back to the spirit world. They were basically everything she said she was more than willing to face.

“That’s all you guys discussed?” she asked.

Bôh nodded. “That’s it, although I think Haku had another reason for wanting to send you home, but wasn’t telling anyone. I could just tell that something else was bothering him.”

Chihiro pondered on this for a moment. Even though she was still angry, she couldn’t help but forgive her friends; they were only doing what they thought was best. Darn it, that stupid messenger of Lord Okaia was right so far. She had been hurt by her friends, and yet she had forgiven them. Next came something about some sort of journey. Well whatever that was, it had to wait. She still had some things to take care of here. One of those things was convincing her friends to let her stay, regardless of any reason they came up with to send her back. Everything Bôh had just told her could easily be taken care of, but what was Haku’s unspoken reason? What could he be hiding that he didn’t want anyone to know? And why was that reason so important that she had to go back to the human world?

A thought came to Chihiro, one that hurt more than anything that had ever happened to her, and brought on a feeling of deep jealousy.

“Bôh, Haku doesn’t have a girlfriend, does he?” she asked.

Bôh started laughing. “Of course not! He’s never had a girlfriend. Well, at least not during the time I’ve known him, and that was the same day I met you.”

Chihiro felt sweet relief run through her, but she also felt bad for Haku. “I wonder why. He’s good enough to get any girl he wants.”

She suddenly blushed as she realized what she said. Bôh gave her a big grin.

“Chihiro’s in love! Chihiro’s in love!”

Chihiro turned a darker shade of red. “Bôh, cut it out.”

Bôh giggled. “Are you going to kiss him?”

“Bôh!”

“What?” the giant baby asked innocently. “You love him and he loves you. Just go kiss him.”

Chihiro covered her ears. “He doesn’t love me.”

“Does too! Does too! Does too!”

“Bôh, please.” She pleaded, with the sound of heartbreak in her voice. “Please, don’t do this to me.”

Bôh frowned when he saw that Chihiro was really upset. “Oh, I’m sorry. But if you love him, why don’t you just be his girlfriend?”

Chihiro wiped away tears that threatened to fall from her eyes. “We can’t be together. I’m a human.”

“So?”

“And he’s a spirit.”

“So?”

Did she need to spell it out for him? Probably. “Bôh, I’m only a mortal. You spirits will live forever, but one day I’ll die. I’ll have to leave Haku, and I’ll never be able to come back. I can’t break Haku’s heart like that.”

Bôh stared at her with sad eyes before suddenly grabbing her and holding her closely, almost as if she’d disappear if he let go.

“No, Chihiro!” he cried. “You can’t die! I don’t want you to go! I’ll hold onto so you can’t leave!”

If Bôh didn’t loosen his grip soon, Chihiro would only have a short while to live, because he was suffocating her.

“Bôh… I can’t… breath…” she struggled to say. “Air… need… air…”

It wasn’t easy, but she managed to move herself into a position so that she could breath.

“Don’t die, Chihiro!” Bôh shouted, as he started to cry. “You’re my best friend! Please don’t die!”

Chihiro smiled sadly. “Bôh, I don’t have a choice. That’s just the way mortality works.”

Bôh finally let her go. “Then we’ll make you immortal!” he cried happily, as if simply saying it was going to make it happen.

Chihiro patted his arm. “I would like that, but no one has that kind of power, Bôh.”

“How about mama? Or Haku?”

Chihiro shook her head. “I already went over this. No one has that kind of power.”

Bôh looked liked he was about to cry, but before the tears began flowing, his face lit up as he got another idea. “How about Auntie Zeniba?”

“Granny?” asked Chihiro. “She’s just as powerful as your mom. She won’t be able to help.”

Bôh shook his head. “You forget, Auntie Zeniba has a very powerful magic object. Remember?”

Chihiro’s eyes widened. “The golden seal!” she practically shouted.

Bôh nodded happily. “That may be your best chance.”

Chihiro tried not to get her hopes up. “It’s worth a shot.” She said, but then her hopes came crashing down. “But how am I supposed to get to Swamp Bottom? I don’t have money to buy tickets.”

Bôh didn’t seem fazed by this at all. “No problem. I have tickets.”

“What?” cried Chihiro, clearly surprised by this.

Bôh nodded. “Ever since you left, I’ve been going to visit Auntie Zeniba every month. I go by myself because mama still fights with her sister too much. But I haven’t gone yet this month; so you can have my tickets.”

Chihiro’s mind was racing. This could be her only chance. At the very least she would get to see Granny again. She had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

“Bôh, thank you so much. I don’t know what to say.”

Bôh waved his chubby hand. “Don’t thank me. I would do anything for you, Chihiro. You were my first and best friend. You showed me that there is a whole world outside my bedroom. Oh, but we should probably keep this a secret from mama.”

Chihiro nodded. “Good plan. She wouldn’t want me going on another vacation after just getting back. So, how are you going to get the tickets?”

Bôh smiled, almost evilly. “I’ll take care of that. Just wait by the railroad tracks after everyone is asleep and leave the rest to me.”

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Chihiro did what Bôh told her. After the entire bathhouse was asleep, she went straight to the railroad tracks to wait for the train. The only problem was that she didn’t have the tickets yet.

‘Bôh better hurry up, or else I’ll miss the train.’ She thought. ‘What time does it come anyway?’

As she waited, she thought back on the day. She’d had worse, but she had also had better. Although she had already forgiven them, she pretended to still be mad at her friends to avoid any suspicion. She didn’t want them trying to stop her from going to Zeniba’s, not that they could anyway.

A loud screech caught her attention and Chihiro looked up to see Yu-bird flying towards her, clutched in her clawed foot were the train tickets Bôh had promised her.

Yu-bird landed on her shoulder and dropped the tickets in her hand. Chihiro took them but gave Yu-bird an angry look.

“Trying to make up for lying to me?” she asked. Yu-bird hung her head. Chihiro felt the last of her anger at being betrayed leave her. “I’m still upset that you guys lied to me like that, but I forgive you.”

Yu-bird screeched happily and Chihiro stroked her feathers. She stayed with Chihiro until the train finally pulled up 20 minutes later.

She handed the shadow spirit her ticket, wondering if it was the same one as last time, and told him of her destination. Yu-bird followed her onto the train.

“Oh, I didn’t know you were coming too.” she said. Yu-bird nodded. “Ok then. Let’s find a seat.”

The train began moving as Chihiro sat down. She watched the bathhouse slowly fade in the distance, hoping that the next time she returned, she would no longer be a mortal.

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