Chapter 1: Twelve Long Years
STORY ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ON FANFICTION.NET: 11/28/2006 - 05/16/2007
Link to original story: www.fanfiction.net/s/3261432/1/Spirited-Away-2-Return-to-the-Spirit-World
(A/N: HOWDY FOLKS! I'm just your average Spirited Away fan writing a continuation of the original Spirited Away, which is one of my favorite animation movies of all time. It was only a matter of time before I began a story on it. This story takes place 12 years after Chihiro first went to the spirit world. It's my most successful story on Fanfiction.net, having received over 2 million readers. When I heard there was a fanfiction contest, I thought, 'what the heck', so here I am.)
Disclaimer: I don't not own Spirited Away or any of its characters.
SUMMARY: Takes place 12 years after the movie. Chihiro, still in love with Haku, returns to the only place that she feels she belongs. Her friends are happy to see her again but insist that eventually she must return to the human world, for the spirit world is not fit for human life. Chihiro wishes to stay and is willing to do whatever it takes by going on an incredible journey.
"SPIRITED AWAY 2: RETURN TO THE SPIRIT WORLD"
Chapter 1: Twelve Long Years
The world was full of amazing things. Chihiro Ogino knew that better than anyone. She had experienced them. No, scratch that, she had lived them. It may have been 12 years ago, but she could never forget what had happened all those years ago. She had stumbled upon a magical land. No, a magical world. It was a place of mystery, excitement, and danger. It was the spirit world. Not the spirit world as in the life after death, but a whole other universe, inhabited by witches, wizards, demons, monsters, and, of course, spirits.
It seemed like a dream, a wild fantasy world from the imagination of a child, but it was real alright. Chihiro was certain of that. She had the proof with her even now. Although no one would think that a simple hair band was proof of the spirit world. But it was real to her, and that’s all that mattered. She remembered the day she received the hair band. She remembered everything about that world, and she missed it. But most of all, she missed him.
Who was he, no one would believe her if she told them. He was the one who saved her those 12 years ago. He was the one who helped her rescue her parents and return them all home. He was the one she dreamed about almost every night. He was Nigihayami Kohaku Nushi, also known as Haku, and he was the spirit of the Kohaku River.
It had been 12 years since they’ve seen each other. Twelve long lonely years, and not even the smallest sign of the river spirit. He had promised they would see each other again. He had promised! But where was he? And where was the world that she had come to love even more than her own.
Her first experience in the spirit world had been terrifying as well as exciting. She and her parents had been on their way to their new home when they accidentally stumbled into the place that would change her forever.
She remembered how scared she had been. Any 10 year old would be terrified by what had happened. Her parents, unaware of what they were getting themselves into, had eaten the food meant for the spirits. They gobbled it up like pigs. As punishment, the witch in charge of the land, Yubaba, had turned them into pigs. Chihiro had been left all alone in the spirit world, lost, confused, and scared to death.
But he came to her. He comforted her and helped her through this difficult time. Following his instructions, Chihiro had gone to the bathhouse owned by Yubaba and received a job. The old witch stole her name, changing it to Sen. She was put to work with the other spirits in the bathhouse. With the help of Haku, along with two other spirits, Lin and Kamajii, she managed to get become useful enough to be considered a good enough worker to stay in the bathhouse.
That was until she had accidentally let in a monster named No-Face, who caused a great deal of damage to the bathhouse. Yubaba wasn’t happy about her ‘guest’s’ behavior. And if things weren’t bad enough, the old witch had sent Haku on a mission to steal her twin sister’s magic gold seal. But Yubaba’s sister, Zeniba, had placed a powerful protective spell on the seal to prevent it from being stolen. As Haku slowly died, No-Face continued to wreck havoc upon the bathhouse. And to make matters worse, Yubaba’s son, a 10 foot baby, had tried to force Chihiro to play with him, which resulted in him being turned into a mouse by Zeniba.
Things began looking up after that though. After retrieving the golden seal from Haku, Chihiro managed to lure No-Face and get him out of the bathhouse. Once outside, the monster, became quite peaceful and friendly.
Chihiro, No-Face, and Yubaba’s son, still in mouse form, then took the train to Zeniba’s house to return the golden seal and apologize for Haku. As it turned out, Zeniba was quite nice. She had welcomed Chihiro into her house and had even given her hair band she now wore.
After everything was as it should be, Haku arrived at Zeniba’s house, once again in perfect health. It was then that Chihiro realized who Haku truly was. Just like Yubaba had done to her, the old witch had stolen Haku’s name. But Chihiro knew what it was, and with his name restored to him, the river spirit was able to break free from Yubaba’s spell.
When they returned to the bathhouse, Chihiro discovered that Yubaba and Haku had made an agreement to return her and her parents back to the spirit world if she passed one final test, which she did. Chihiro’s contract was torn up, or completely obliterated, and she and her parents got to go home.
Chihiro sighed. Not for the first time did she find herself wishing that she had failed Yubaba’s test. Not that she wanted to have her parents remain pigs, but she wished she could have stayed. She hadn’t realized it back then, but as the days went by, Chihiro began to realize that her home was the place she had just left. She missed everyone so much, even the old hag Yubaba. What she would do to go back to the spirit world. Or better yet, to be able to go back in time and prevented herself from leaving to begin with.
“Why did I leave?” she whispered to herself.
“What’d you say, Chihiro?”
Chihiro snapped back to reality as the person next to her spoke to her. She turned red with embarrassment as she realized she had gone off into another daydream again. She was supposed to be concentrating. She was in class right now and needed to keep her mind open.
Chihiro was currently attending college. She was majoring in the field of art. She was a very good drawer as well as painter. Strangely enough, she specialized in drawing dragons. In fact, that’s exactly what she was drawing now.
“Nice drawing.” Said the girl who had spoken to her earlier.
Chihiro smiled. “Thanks Mimi.”
Her drawing was very good indeed, and very detailed. It was the drawing of a large dragon bursting up from out of a river, with a young girl of 10 on its back. Several strange creatures stood on the edge of the riverbank. Two old woman that looked exactly alike, although one looked grouchy, stood next to a very large baby. A spider like man stood a short distance away surrounded by small black spots with eyes. Feeding these little puffballs was a woman in her late twenties. And next to her stood a shadowy black figure, wearing a mask over his non-existing face.
“You know,” said Mimi, pointing to the girl on the dragon’s back, “she kind of looks like you.”
Chihiro laughed; Mimi had hit the nail on the head. “Yeah, I guess she does.”
“What do you mean, you guess? You must have known what you were drawing. I see you used your favorite dragon again. So what do you call this one?”
Chihiro laid her drawing down. “I call it ‘Sen and the Spirit of the Kohaku River’.” She replied.
Mimi rolled her eyes. “I swear you’re obsessed with that river. I can’t believe you love a river you almost drowned in. I’d be scared to death of it.”
Chihiro couldn’t blame her. Mimi didn’t understand things the way she did.
“The river saved me.” She replied.
“And almost killed you.” said Mimi, sounding bored. “Besides, that river is all covered up now anyway. Although I still don’t understand what the big deal is.”
“No one does.” Thought Chihiro, as she ran her finger over the dragon’s face.
Class ended a few minutes later. Chihiro packed her things up and got ready to head home. No, not her home. Her home was the spirit world. She saw the small apartment she lived in now as her current residence, not her home. No place had ever felt like home since she left the spirit world, and she had the feeling that nowhere ever would.
Chihiro wanted desperately to return to the spirit world. She had tried on several occasions. She had walked down the path that led to the spirit world so many times that she was surprised it didn’t have a groove in it. But no matter how many times she walked down that path, she never came out in the spirit world.
Twelve years. It had been twelve years! How much longer was Haku going to keep her waiting? Did he even remember his promise? Had he just said they would see each other again to make her leave? Chihiro didn’t want to believe that. She wanted to believe Haku truly meant what he said. But 12 years was a long time, and she was beginning to have her doubts.
“Hey Chihiro!” called Mimi. “Me and some of the girls are going to go out for a night on the town. Want to come? It will be a girl’s night out.”
Chihiro gave her friend an appreciative smile and shook her head. “No thanks, I’ve got other things to do.”
Mimi frowned. “You sure, we’re gonna go boy watching later. Come on, we could meet some real cute guys.”
Chihiro just shook her head again. “Really, I don’t want to. You guys go have fun.”
Mimi sighed and gave up. “Ok, if you say so.” She turned to leave but then stopped. “By the way, when do we get to meet him?”
Chihiro froze. “Who?”
Mimi cut her eyes at her. “Don’t play dumb. We can all see it. Who is he? Come on, give us a hint.”
Blushing furiously, Chihiro turned away. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Liar!” Chihiro made an attempt to get away, but Mimi moved to stand in her way. “Don’t deny it! It’s written all over your face.” Chihiro remained silent. Mimi sighed and folded her arms. “Chihiro, come on, how long have we known each other?”
“Three years.” Chihiro replied.
“And four months.” Mimi added. “And in all that time you haven’t once been able to fool me. I’ve known it for a long time. I’ve been patient, waiting for you to spill the beans, but you never say anything. I’ve tried wheedling it out of you, but you’re just so stubborn. Why won’t you tell me?”
Chihiro didn’t say anything. How could she say that her thoughts were always on a certain river spirit that she hadn’t seen in 12 years? Everyone would think she was crazy.
“Is he married? Does he have a girlfriend? Does he live far away?” Mimi kept throwing all the questions at her. But Chihiro wouldn’t crack. “Speak to me, girl! You’re going to drive me crazy!”
Chihiro laughed. Mimi could really be a nuisance at times. But she was a good friend. One of the few Chihiro had in this world. Ever since her little run in with the spirit world, she never really reconnected with the human world. She didn’t have many friends. She went to school and she went to work just like anyone else would, but then she went home and just hung out there. She just felt so misunderstood. She didn’t feel like she belonged here.
“That’s because I don’t.” she thought. “I don’t belong here. I want to go home. To my real home.”
The sound of Mimi snapping her fingers in front of her face brought Chihiro out of her thoughts.
“Hello? Earth to Chihiro. You still in there?”
“Huh, oh sorry, what were you saying?”
Mimi slapped her forehead in frustration. She felt a major headache coming on. “Come on, I can keep a secret. Are you going to tell me willingly, or am I going to have to get April to come get it out of you?”
Chihiro’s mouth dropped open from Mimi’s threat. She knew her friend could keep a secret, but April couldn’t. She was excellent at getting things out of people and anything she found out would become public knowledge by the end of the day.
Chihiro sighed as and gave in. Mimi smirked at the look of defeat on her friend’s face. She pushed her into a chair and sat in one across from her. “Start talking!” she demanded.
Chihiro never spoke to anyone, not even her parents, about what had happened all those years ago. She wasn’t about to start now. Besides, everyone would think she was crazy. But since Mimi was forcing her to talk, she decided to just give enough information to satisfy her friend’s curiosity.
“His name was Haku.” She said, but before she could go one Mimi interrupted her.
“Was he hot? Muscular? Tall? Handsome? Give me details!”
Chihiro smiled at her friend’s impatience. “I haven’t seen him in 12 years.”
“WHAT?!?” cried Mimi. “You’re carrying a torch for a guy you haven’t seen in 12 years.”
Chihiro blushed. “I never said-”
“You didn’t have to. I told you, it’s written all over your face.”
Chihiro groaned at her body’s betrayal. “And so what if it was 12 years ago. We promised we would see each other again.”
Mimi snorted. “Girl, a promise doesn’t mean anything. Guys will say anything to get in your pants.”
Now Chihiro turned red with embarrassment as well as anger. “IT WASN’T LIKE THAT!!!” she cried. She dropped her voice so she wouldn’t attract attention. “At least, not at the time. I was only 10.”
“You were 10?” exclaimed Mimi.
“Mimi, I said it had been 12 years.” Chihiro chuckled.
Realization dawned on Mimi’s face. “I always was bad at math. But still, 12 years! And you haven’t seen or heard from him once?”
“I never said I haven’t heard from him.”
“But you haven’t.”
Chihiro didn’t say anything. Mimi nodded, knowing that she was right. “Girl, it’s really sweet and romantic that you have a love that you’ve waited 12 years for, but seriously, you need to move on. Your Haku has.”
“No he hasn’t.” Chihiro cried, trying to convince herself more than Mimi. She wasn’t even sure if Haku felt that way about her. How could he? He was a powerful river spirit, she was a human mortal. It could never work, no matter how much she wished it could. Maybe he did forget about her. Maybe he saw her as a scared little girl and pitied her.
“Chihiro, listen to me.” Said Mimi, trying to get through to her friend. “You can’t spend your whole life chasing after a guy who wouldn’t even bother to write a single letter.”
“We kind of live far away.” Said Chihiro. “More like different worlds.” She added mentally.
“You have to move on. Just face it. You had a schoolgirl crush, that’s all. Once you get a boyfriend you’ll forget all about Kahu.”
“Haku.” Chihiro corrected her.
“Right him.” Said Mimi. She looked at her watch. “Well, this has been fun, but I gotta go. You sure you don’t wanna come?”
She put on a sad puppy face, which Chihiro laughed at, shaking her head.
“No really, I’m fine.” She assured her. “You go and have fun for both of us.”
Mimi sighed in defeat. “Alright fine. I can’t make you change your mind. But just think about what I said. See you Monday.”
Chihiro was left alone. It seemed like she was alone a lot. It wasn’t that she liked to be alone or anything, she just always felt like such an outcast, like she didn’t belong. She once again found herself wishing she had failed Yubaba’s test, or at least looked back while passing through the spirit gate.
“I guess a part of we was left behind.” She muttered, as she headed for her car.
She threw her things in the backseat and started up the engine. She wasn’t planning on going home though. She was going to a place she visited almost as much as the entrance to the spirit world.
After driving for a good long while, Chihiro finally arrived at her destination. She had wasted so much gas money driving all this way, but it was worth every penny and more.
To a normal person, no one would see why this place was special; it was just a bunch of apartments. To Chihiro, this was a very special place. It was where the Kohaku River once was. Now it was all covered up, flowing beneath the apartments, but there were still a few streams that connected to the river before it moved under ground. This was the closest place she could get to Haku.
Chihiro slowly made her way over to a stream. She took off her shoes and socks and sat on the ground, letting her feet soak in the cool water.
“Hello Haku.” She said to the water. “It’s been awhile. Sorry I couldn’t visit sooner, but I’ve been busy.”
As usual, she was greeted with silence. She didn’t know why she still expected an answer. She had received none in 12 years.
“I made another drawing of us and the gang. Look.”
She took out her drawing and held it to the water, as if this would somehow allow the river spirit to see it.
Chihiro sighed sadly. “I miss you all so much. Granny, Rin, No-Face, and especially you.”
She put the drawing away and went back to staring at the water. She felt tears coming on but she held them back.
“I want to see you all again. I wish I never left. If it wasn’t for my parents, I don’t think I never would have. And if you hadn’t promised to see me again, I wouldn’t have left.” She looked up into the sky, almost as if she thought she would see Haku coming for her. But once again, she was let down.
“But where are you? I’ve waited so long.” She suddenly began getting angry. “It’s been 12 years Haku! Do you know what that’s like? I feel like an outcast among my own people! The only place that ever felt like home is a place I can’t go to! I feel so lost here. I’ve been waiting all this time to see you again, yet you still haven’t fulfilled your promise!”
She glared at the water, but only saw her angry distorted reflection. It just made her angrier.
“You could at least acknowledge my presence! I don’t come all the way out here just to talk to myself! For goodness sake, Haku, I can’t stop thinking of you and the others. I lay awake at night hoping you’ll come for me, but you never do! How long do you expect me to wait! I don’t live forever like you do! I have to live my life, but I don’t have a life here!”
When she still got no answer, she angrily kicked the water.
“Can you even hear me? If so, why don’t you answer? Was I really just some foolish little girl that you felt sorry for?” She was talking more to herself now then anyone. Her anger slowly turned to a sad empty feeling. “Was Mimi right? Did you move on and forget about me? If you have, that hurts, Haku. It hurts more than anything you can imagine.”
She couldn’t stop the tears now. They fell freely down her face and into the water, becoming a part of the Kohaku River.
“I shouldn’t have left. I wish I never did. I don’t belong here. I’ve tried to get back, but I can’t. Please come for me Haku.”
She didn’t know how long she sat there crying, but the sun was beginning to set and it was getting cold. Reluctantly, Chihiro got up and put her socks and shoes on. She turned back to the water to say goodbye.
“I have to go now.” She said, patting the water. “I don’t know when I’ll be back. I plan on trying to get through the spirit gate again tomorrow. Maybe this time I’ll finally get through. Goodbye Haku. I miss you dearly.”
She made her way back to her car and began the long lonely ride back home. It was dark by the time she reached her apartment. Tomorrow she would be able to sleep in, but then she would have to go to work. It was just a temporary job, and it wasn’t all that enjoyable. She would much rather work under contract at the bathhouse. She really missed it.
After showering and getting settled in for the night, she climbed into bed and thought about the day. Mimi’s words continued to haunt her. She didn’t want to believe that Haku had broken his promise. She didn’t want to believe that she would never see the spirit world again. She didn’t want to believe she would never see any of her friends again. But it had been 12 years. How much longer could she wait?
“Please Haku.” She whispered, tears forming in her eyes again. “Please keep your promise.”
And just like so many other nights, she cried herself into a sleep where she dreamed of Haku and the spirit world.