Disclaimer: I don’t own Spirited Away. Just re-posting the story by moviefan-92
According to Zeniba, a train stopped at each train station every two hours. And so, after getting ready for what could be a very long journey, Chihiro was standing by the train stop with Zeniba, No-Face, and Yu-bird. Chihiro would be lying if she said she wasn’t nervous. She had no idea where she would be going or what she would be doing. All she had was the golden seal to guide her.
After waiting about 40 minutes, the train pulled up. Chihiro handed the shadow spirit the tickets, but was unable to give he destination since the golden seal would be telling her where to go.
“I’m being guided by this seal.” She said, pointing t the floating magical object. “It tells me where to go.”
The shadow spirit eyed her strangely before shrugging and moving aside to let her on. She was surprised when No-Face got on with her.
“You’re coming too?”
No-Face nodded. “Ah.”
Yu-bird screeched and landed on Chihiro’s shoulder. “You want to come too?”
“Chihiro,” Zeniba spoke up, “remember your reading. ‘You will forgive those that have hurt you, but you can not turn to them for help during your journey.’ Yu-bird wasn’t meant to go with you.”
Chihiro looked at her friend. Yu-bird hung her head, looking sad. The shadow spirit was getting impatient. He cleared his throat and pointed to his watch. Chihiro looked at Yu-bird again and a determine look came over her face.
“Forget the stupid reading.” She growled. “I’m tired of everyone trying to get me to do what they want. Of course you can come, Yu-bird.”
Yu-bird smiled and flapped her wings happily.
Zeniba waved goodbye to the three of them as the train started moving. “See you soon, dear.”
“Bye, Granny. And thank you.” Chihiro called back.
No-Face gently tugged on Chihiro’s sleeve and pointed to some empty seats. “Ah, ah.”
Chihiro nodded and they headed over to the seats, though Yu-bird was perfectly happy staying on Chihiro’s shoulder. However, when they got to the seats, the spirit sitting next to them wasn’t too friendly.
“Go away, human. I don’t like your kind.”
Chihiro frowned. “But there’s nowhere else to sit, at least not together.”
The spirit folded his arms. “Too bad. You shouldn’t be here anyway.”
No-Face stepped up to the spirit and growled at him, exposing his large mouth that could swallow the spirit in one gulp. The spirit slid back in his seat and didn’t say anything else. No-Face turned to Chihiro and motioned for her to sit.
“Uh, thanks, No-Face.” Chihiro said, taking the seat furthest away from the grumpy spirit.
They sat quietly for a few minutes. The grumpy spirit didn’t say anything else. But, but he did occasionally give Chihiro looks of dislike and No-Face looks of fear.
“Don’t worry about it. Some spirits are just like that.”
Chihiro looked around for the source of the voice. She recognized it, but it couldn’t be her.
“Right here, dear.”
Next to Chihiro was a paper cutout of some sort of bird. Chihiro recognized it as one of the paper bird things that had attacked Haku 12 years ago.
The paper ‘bird’ snickered. “You didn’t think I would let you go without a way to keep an eye on you, did you?”
Haku was flying as fast as he could. He was almost at Zeniba’s house. He hoped he would find her there.
‘Of course you will. Where else would she be?’ Haku thought.
Little did the river spirit know, that the human he was searching for had already left several hours ago. But he was unaware of what she and the old witch had planned and was in for a rude awakening.
Zeniba’s cottage came into view and the dragon came in for a landing. The rush of wind alerted the old witch that she had another visitor.
“Took him long enough.” She muttered.
The door burst open and a very worried Haku came in.
“Zeniba, where is she?” he asked.
Zeniba raised an eyebrow. “Hello, Haku. Good to see you too. Why don’t you come in?”
Haku suddenly felt embarrassed for his rude entry. He had been in such a hurry that he had forgot his manners. He bowed apologetically to the old witch. “Forgive me for my rudeness. I was not thinking clearly.”
Zeniba nodded. “You are forgiven. So, what brings you here?”
Haku had to resist the urge to roll his eyes. He knew that Zeniba was perfectly aware of why he was here; he even told her. And he knew Chihiro was here. He could smell her scent.
“Where is Chihiro?” he asked.
Zeniba shrugged. “Not here.”
Haku felt his heart rate speed up. “What?” he cried. “What do you mean she’s not here?”
“Just what I said. She’s not here.”
Haku sniffed the air. “But her scent is still fresh.”
Zeniba nodded. “Yes, she was here. But she left.”
“Where did she go? Back to the bathhouse?” He hoped so.
Zeniba shook her head. “No. I’m not entirely sure where she went, but she’s gone to find Lord Okaia.”
“She’s gone to what?”
“She’s gone to find Lord-”
“I heard you!” Haku’s mind was racing. “You let her go off into the spirit world all on her own?”
Zeniba actually laughed. “Of course not. I’m perfectly aware of the dangers the spirit world poses against humans. No-Face and Yu-bird are with her. I’m keeping an eye on her as well.”
The gem on her head glowed for a moment and Haku immediately knew how Zeniba was watching her granddaughter.
“Let me speak to her.” He demanded.
Zeniba narrowed her eyes. “You could be a little nicer about it.”
The witch sighed. “Oh, alright.”
She closed her eyes. The gem on her forehead began to glow again before it showed what Zeniba was seeing from the view of her paper ‘bird’. Haku could see Chihiro sitting on the train with Yu-bird perched on her shoulder sleeping soundly. Haku sighed in relief. Thank goodness she was all right.
“Chihiro, there’s someone that wants to speak with you.” Zeniba said. Her voice echoed as Haku heard her voice come from the paper ‘bird’ as well as from Zeniba’s actual mouth.
Chihiro eyed the paper ‘bird’ curiously. “Um, ok. Who?”
Zeniba, eyes still closed, addressed the river spirit. “Ok, you may speak now.”
“Chihiro!” Haku cried.
“No need to shout.” Zeniba muttered.
Chihiro’s eyes widened as Haku’s voice came from the paper ‘bird’ instead of Zeniba’s.
“Haku? What are you doing?”
“What are you doing?”
Chihiro folded her arms. “Going to see Lord Okaia.” She said this like it was no big deal.
“I know that.” Haku cried impatiently. “Why?”
Chihiro gave the ‘bird’ a bored look. “Because he may be the only one who can help me.”
No-Face nodded along with what she was saying as Yu-bird continued snoozing.
Haku, forgetting exactly how he was communicating with his love, grabbed Zeniba’s large head and cried at the gem. “Chihiro, please come back. The spirit world is dangerous for humans. I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“I’ll be fine, Haku. I’ve got Yu-bird and No-Face with me. Even Granny is here, sort of. I can take care of myself.”
“Why didn’t you ask me for help?” Haku asked. He realized a moment later how stupid of a question that was.
Chihiro seemed to get slightly frustrated. “Gee, I wonder why. Maybe because you were going to force me to go back to the human world, and that is exactly what I’m trying to prevent.”
Guilt filled the river spirit. “Chihiro, I’m really sorry about that. It was a mistake trying to force you to go back. I hope you can forgive me. And I promise that I won’t try and make you go back if you don’t want to.”
Chihiro glared at the paper ‘bird’ for a while before her expression softened. “Do you really mean that, Haku?”
The river spirit nodded. “Yes, Chihiro. Please forgive me.”
To his surprise, Chihiro actually smiled. “I already have. I could never stay mad at you.”
Haku relaxed. Everything was going to be ok after all. “Good. Tell me where you are and I’ll come get you.”
Chihiro shook her head. “I can’t do that. I have to go see if Lord Okaia can help me.”
“But I already said you could stay.”
“I’m not going to him so I can stay, I’m going to him to see if he can turn me into a spirit.”
“Turn you into a spirit?” he repeated. “But Chihiro-”
“No buts, Haku!” Chihiro snapped, getting irritated again. “This is something I have to do. It’s not just so I can stay. There’s… another reason.”
Haku was confused. She had never mentioned another reason. “What other reason? Maybe I can help.”
Chihiro blushed. “No, you can’t.”
“Why not? Just tell me what it is.”
Chihiro hid her face in her hands to hide her blushing. “I can’t. It’s personal.”
Haku was smart, but he could be clueless at times. “Chihiro, I care about you more than you’ll ever know. If something is wrong, I want to know. I want to help, but you have to tell me what’s wrong.”
Chihiro removed her hands from her face. She was beet red. Haku didn’t think anyone could turn that red.
“It’s because I love you, ok!” she shouted.
Haku was taken aback. Her words didn’t quite register. The only time he ever thought he would ever hear that would be in his dreams.
“What did you say?” he whispered, not believing his ears.
“You heard me! I love you, Nigihayami Kohaku Nushi! I have ever since I was a little girl. You must have had some idea since I broke Granny’s curse, and only love can break it. I loved you then, and I love you now even more. And I don’t care if you feel the same about me.”
Haku was speechless. He had imagined this moment, but he never thought that it would ever happen. Was this really happening?
“I didn’t think you would ever feel that way about me.” He murmured.
“Well I do. And I want to, no, I need to have you in my life; even if it’s only as a friend. But if there was any chance that we could be together, it wouldn’t be possible if I remain a mortal.”
“No, Haku, I’m talking now. This is my choice and no one else’s. I’m doing this because it’s what my heart tells me to do.”
She hid her face in her hands again. Haku just stared at her. This was… great. No, this was wonderful! She did love him! She told him so herself. All the jokes and teasing everyone had made about him were all true. And he loved her too. If there was ever going to be a chance to tell her, this would be it.
“Chihiro, I…” But before he could say anything, his view of her in Zeniba’s gem began to fade. “Chihiro? Chihiro! Wait!” The vision was completely gone now. The connection had been broken. No, not now. “Zeniba, bring her back! Let me speak to her! I have to tell her!”
Zeniba didn’t reply, but the gem on her head began to glow again. The old witch’s eyes suddenly snapped open. Silver light erupted from the gem on her head, as well as from her eyes and mouth.
Haku jumped back in shock as Zeniba began glowing. “What the…”
Then Zeniba spoke, but it was not in her own voice. “Back off, Kohaku!”
Haku took another step back. He didn’t have a clue as to what was going on. One minute he was begging the witch to let him speak to Chihiro again, the next she was acting like she was under a spell.
“I said, back off.” Zeniba repeated.
Haku realized something when the old witch spoke the second time. Someone else’s voice was speaking along with hers in perfect unison. He also sensed a powerful magic within the room, along with the presence of another spirit.
“They’re using Zeniba as a puppet.” Haku realized. “Who are you? Why are you speaking through Zeniba? Why did you cut me off from Chihiro?”
The being enchanting Zeniba pointed a finger at the river spirit. “Leave the human alone. She must do this alone.”
Haku became angry. “Who are you to order me around?”
The silver light grew brighter. “Who do you think I am? What other spirit knows of what is happening between you and the human outside of the bathhouse?”
Haku thought for a moment before he suddenly realized who he was talking to. “Lord Okaia?”
Zeniba, or rather the person controlling Zeniba, smiled. “Very good, Kohaku. And I am telling you to leave Chihiro alone and let her do as she wishes.”
Haku suddenly became angry again. “Why did you cut me off from her? Why won’t you let me speak with her?”
Lord Okaia/Zeniba sighed. “You now know how she feels. But I cannot allow you to tell her of your feelings yet.”
Lord Okaia was getting irritated with Haku’s attitude and he raised his voice. “Because this is her quest! Her decision! She is doing this for herself. You are not to interfere. These are playing out as I have foreseen them… mostly. The future is not completely set in stone, but please, trust my judgment, Kohaku. She must follow her own heart and no one else’s.”
Haku could understand what Lord Okaia was saying, but he wasn’t happy about it one bit. “If she is going to do this, then I am going to be there with her.”
“No, Kohaku.” Lord Okaia said, all traces of anger gone. “She must do this without you. But you’re part will come. Trust me on this. Go back to the bathhouse. All will be well. Trust in your human. Trust in your love.”
Zeniba’s eyes closed and the light faded. The old witch looked a little disorientated, but perfectly all right. “Oh, I feel lightheaded.” She moaned. “I wish I had a warning before being enchanted.”
Haku was still frustrated. He didn’t care what Lord Okaia said; he was going to tell Chihiro now. He couldn’t wait any longer.
“Zeniba, let me speak to Chihiro. I don’t care what Lord Okaia said.”
Zeniba rubbed her head. “Alright, one moment.” She closed her eyes and focused. The gem on her head glowed faintly but did nothing else. Zeniba opened her eyes. “I can’t, the connection is being blocked.”
Haku growled in frustration. Lord Okaia was one step ahead of him. Why did the stupid sorcerer have to be so powerful? He turned to leave.
Zeniba eyed him suspiciously. “Where are you going?”
“To find Chihiro.” Haku replied.
“But Lord Okaia said-”
“I don’t care!” Haku shouted. Zeniba jumped back in surprise. “I am not going to abandon her again! I am not going to let her just wander around the spirit world unprotected! I’m going, and no one can stop me!”
“But you don’t even know where she is.”
Haku didn’t even look back. “She’s on a train. If I follow the tracks, checking each one I’ll find her eventually.”
Zeniba rolled her eyes. “She’s not going to stay on the train forever. She’s hours ahead of you. She’ll more than likely get off before you reach her train.”
“That may be, but a dragon can always find its mate no matter where they are.”
Zeniba chuckled at that. “She’s not your mate… Not yet anyway.”
Haku actually smiled. “No, but the dragon in me already recognizes her as my mate. And that will be enough.”
Without another word, he turned into his dragon form and took off. Zeniba watched him go. As he left, she felt the connection between her and the paper ‘bird’ open again. She chuckled to herself. “That dragon. He’s so stubborn. And so in love.”
Chihiro was both physically and mentally exhausted. Her ‘confession’ took a lot out of her. She wondered why the connection broke, but didn’t dwell on it. It was probably for the best. She had already embarrassed herself enough for one day.
“Oh, what must Haku think of me now?” she muttered. “He must think I’m pathetic.”
The paper ‘bird’ chuckled. “Don’t put yourself down.” Zeniba said. “If it helps, I think Haku is feeling the same way as you, pathetic.”
Chihiro groaned and rubbed her eyes. “Granny, please, I’m not in the mood.”
The paper ‘bird’ patted her on the shoulder, being careful not to disturb the sleeping Yu-bird. “Why don’t you rest for awhile, dear? I’ll keep watch on the seal.”
Chihiro was very grateful for Zeniba’s offer. She was already half asleep. “Thank you, Granny. I really… appreciate… it…”
She was asleep within seconds.
It was bright. Very bright. Everywhere Chihiro looked, she was surrounded by silver light.
“Hello!” she called.
All she got in return was her echo. What was going on? Where was everybody? Wasn’t she just on the train?
“Granny, No-Face, Yu-bird! Is anybody here?”
Chihiro jumped a mile at the unexpected, unrecognizable voice. She turned around and found that she wasn’t alone. Someone, or something was here with her. It was the blurry shadow of a man. It wasn’t big, only about a foot, and it wiggled like a fire. Two holes around the head served as eyes.
Chihiro cautiously took a step back. She remembered all the warnings of how the spirit world could be dangerous to humans and she wasn’t taking any chances.
“You have nothing to fear from me, Chihiro.” The ghostly figure said.
Chihiro gave the figure a suspicious look. “How do you know my name? Who are you?”
The figure chuckled. “How rude of me. Allow me to introduce myself. I am none other than Lord Okaia.”
“You?” Chihiro cried in surprise. She expected the most powerful sorcerer in the spirit world to be a bit more… intimidating.
“Yes, me. I’m not entirely here though. I am communicating to you through your dreams.”
“So… I’m dreaming?”
“Indeed. I have something to give you. You will need it. Give me your hand.”
Chihiro carefully held out her hand. Lord Okaia took it in his own shadowy hand. A flash of red light erupted from where the two hands connected. Chihiro gasped and pulled her hand back as something burned her. When she looked at her hand, she saw a bright red symbol on her palm. The symbol of fire.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“A spell.” Lord Okaia replied. “A fire spell. Use it when you are in danger. But be careful though, because the spell will only work once. Use it on joy.”
Chihiro gave Lord Okaia a confused look. “On joy? What does that mean? And what’s all this stuff about me going on some journey? I only want to see if you can help me. Do you even know why I’m coming to find you?”
“I do. But this is not the time to talk about such things. We will discuss this when we meet face to face.”
He started to fade, nut Chihiro wasn’t about to let him get away that easily. “Wait, get back here! I have more questions.”
Lord Okaia was gone, but his voice still answered her. “All will be explained later.”
Chihiro looked at the symbol in her hand again. “Come on, you can’t just leave me like this. You got involved with my life, and now you expect me to just do everything on my own.” There was no reply. Everything began to get darker. “Lord Okaia!”
Chihiro woke up. She was back on the train. Everyone else was there. She took a deep breath and relaxed. “Just a dream.” she whispered, as exhaustion took her back to the land of dreams again. She was so tired that she didn’t notice that the fire symbol on her hand had come with her from her dream.