Chapter | 20
My initial thought when I started shaking was that I was going into shock. You know, the whole freaking out because your body can’t figure out how to deal with the shock. Soon, though, I realised that it didn’t have anything to do with shock- what I was feeling was white hot rage. Rage that tensed every part of my body; that rimmed my vision red.
I wasn’t quite sure how I had crossed the room at the speed I did, but every neuron in my body was screaming bloody murder.
Without hesitation I grabbed the letter opener lying on the coffee table and lunged forward, striking out with all my might.
“Yoru!” I screamed, hoping he could hear the hate in my voice.
Yoru reacted as fast as I had expected, ducking and grabbing my hands together, practically lifting me straight off the ground.
I kicked and screamed until my body grew tired, until Yoru put me down and I slumped to the ground clutching my aching arms.
“Chihiro, hear me out please,” Yoru begged, kneeling down in front of me. When I didn’t even acknowledge his existence he continued.
“I didn’t want to kill him, you have to believe me. It was a direct order, something I couldn’t decline,” he pleaded, his voice so unbelievably sad. “Come on, please look at me,” he begged.
Slowly I lifted my head, but the look I gave him would have scared Hitler out of killing all the Jews. Bowing his head he slowly got up, backing away until his back was pressed against the wall.
“I’m sorry, I’m so unbelievably sorry,” he whispered, not looking at me again.
Lyn, who I had forgotten was with us in the room, suddenly put a hand on my shoulder. “Chihiro, please understand that Yoru’s telling the truth,” she said before helping me up.
I pushed away from her, disbelief spreading across my features.
“You came here together, didn’t you? Why Lyn?” I asked her, not wanting to look at either of them, but still giving her a rock hard stare.
Lyn returned my stare before motioning for me to sit down. I did so, stealing a glimpse at Yoru who still seemed to be sulking against the wall.
“Firstly, you remember how time works differently in the Spirit World? Well, about four months have passed since you left and things are still pretty gloomy in the bath house. Three weeks ago Yoru came to me, begging me to listen to him. At first I was sceptical, but after he had proven to me that he wouldn’t hurt me, he explained to me what happened that night,” Lyn said, taking a deep breath before continuing.
“Chihiro, you and I both know that things aren’t always as they appear. If you’re given a direct order, you cannot refuse it. But that’s not the point. The reason we came back is because we need your help. Yoru said he wanted to help us get revenge on his master, to right a wrong.”
I hadn’t really planned on listening, but the word “revenge” instantly caught my attention.
Lyn also seemed to realise it since she continued with a smile. “The Shadow Walker’s ideals have become corrupted. Never in the past have they gone to such extreme measures to keep humans out, and a lot of people feel the same about it. We want to do something about it, we want to make a change,” she said, and added in a sad whisper, “We don’t want Haku’s death to be in vain.”
I looked at her, not exactly sure what to say. I wanted to help them, I wanted to help them more than anything in the world, but I would be opening so many doors that I had bolted shut. Then Haku’s face suddenly popped into my head, smiling amidst all the chaos. He would have wanted me to help, not for the sake of revenge, but for the sake of turning wrong into right.
Slowly I got up and walked over to where Yoru was standing. He straightened up when I was near him, trying to read my expression.
“I’ll help you, but you have to understand, I know you didn’t want to kill him, but all I see when I think of that day is your face. I see you pulling back the arrow and I see you behind Haku,” I said before I looked up at him. “But I’ll help, just don’t think things will change. I still can’t forget.”
I knew every word I said hurt him, I might as well have taken the letter opener and shoved it into his stomach. I turned away before I could feel sorry for him.
“When are we leaving?” I asked Lyn.
“I guess as soon as possible… How fast can you get what you need?” she asked, looking around the living room.
After I told her I wouldn’t be long, I went up to my room and started shoving things in a backpack, same as the last time. Luckily I didn’t need to sneak out of a window again, the front door would do just fine.
I found Lyn and Yoru exactly how I had left them, and I mean exactly. I waited until both of them were outside with me before I locked the door and armed the alarm system, placing the keys under a potted plant where no one would look for it.
Once on the move, we reached the rocky road quickly.
“How long did you say have I been gone?” I asked Lyn once we started walking under the canopy of trees.
“About four months,” she stated.
“But I don’t get it. I was gone for longer last time and only a few hours had passed back here… How does the whole thing work?” I asked again, completely mind-blowing myself.
“No one knows for sure actually, it’s not an exact science, but we believe that time bends to the human’s need. For instance, when you came here the first time you didn’t know where you were. It’s possible that time sort of tried to compensate for your lack of knowledge by not letting you lose too much time back home.”
I thought about it for a few seconds longer. “I guess it makes sense. That’s why I was only gone for a few hours when I came home, because I didn’t need all the extra drama of being gone for months.” I silently thanked whoever was in charge of time in the universe.
Finally we reached the entrance to the spirit world.
I stood staring at the old building, forcing myself to stay calm even as my legs started to carry me inside. When we reached the large room inside, Yoru passed me and went to the door. For a few moments I thought he was just looking at it, but when I cocked my head a little I saw he had his hand pressed against the dark wood.
A “whoosh” sound passed through the room before Yoru finally stood back. He motioned for me to go first and, without looking at him, I opened the door and stepped through. For some reason I was surprised to find that everything still looked exactly the same as it did the first and second time. I wasn’t really sure why I had expected it to chance, only it had. Not in appearance, but in feeling.
I waited until both Lyn and Yoru were next to me before I started walking in the directions of the Bath house. It almost felt as if I had never left, as if I had been asleep and had a very long dream about my old life.
When the Bath house came into view my heart jerked in my chest, leaving it throbbing painfully. I wasn’t sure what to do about it so I simply tried my best to ignore it. Not that it was working.
The Bath house was mostly empty, but you could hear someone snoring in the distance, a sound I almost missed since I had become so accustomed to it. I took my shoes off and followed Lyn and Yoru inside. I wondered when it was that everyone decided Yoru was even allowed in the Bath house.
The elevator ride was a long and painfully awkward one, but luckily we reached Yubaba’s office without me trying to kill Yoru. I knew it was wrong to hate him the way I did, but who would blame me? He killed the person I loved above everyone else.
I heard everyone before I saw them, or was even near them as a matter of fact. Yoru and Lyn entered the room before me. I took a deep breath and followed suit, trying not to make eye contact with anyone, not that I needed to. Silence stretched through the room when everyone saw me, not a single person even breathing louder than they needed to.
I stood awkwardly in the door, waiting for someone to say something, anything actually.
“Hi…” I whispered awkwardly, finally looking at the people in the room. As I had though, literally everyone I had ever become friends with was standing in the room, even some people I didn’t know. There was only one person missing, one person that made the room feel empty to me.
I pulled myself together and focused on the task at hand.
“Chihiro,” Zeniba spoke first, opening her arms to me. I sighed a sigh of relief and tried to wrap my arms around her, but her size made it a little hard to wrap my arms all the way around.
“It’s nice to see you’re looking well,” Zeniba whispered, stroking my hair with her hand. I was barely out of her arms when another pair wrapped around my waist from behind. I was pulled against someone’s chest and lifted into the air.
“I missed you!” Boh yelled from behind me and I laughed playfully. It struck me then that it was the first time I had laughed since Haku’s death, it felt nice.
One by one everyone greeted me, even Luna who I thought would have left by then. Once the tension in the room seemed to evaporate, everyone went back to their original conversations.
I stood and looked around, trying to find a group I could join; there was only one other person who didn’t seem to have anyone to talk to. I guess I had it all wrong. None of the people had accepted Yoru after what he had done, in fact it looked like they didn’t even want him there. Not that it seemed to bother him. He was standing silently in a corner. If I hadn’t been watching him I probably wouldn’t have noticed him slip out of Yubaba’s office and into the tower.
It wasn’t hard to figure out where he was going, and didn’t want him there. After a few seconds I followed him, stopping when I reached the stairs. Haku and I had had our first kiss right where I was standing at that moment.
Shaking my head, I walked up the stairs, wanting nothing more than chase Yoru out of Haku’s room. He didn’t have any right to invade such a sacred place.
The door stood ajar when I reached the top and stopped inside the frame, looking into the room. I couldn’t see Yoru anywhere, but the curtains blowing gently in the wind told me he had gone outside. Steading my shaking hands I went into the room, not looking at anything other than the open door, focused on reaching it before my now shaking legs gave in.
As I had suspected Yoru was standing outside, his back facing me.
“Who told you that you had any right to be up here?” I asked, my voice heavy and steady. Yoru must have known I was there before I spoke, but he didn’t react to either, he simply started out into the never ending blue sky.
“This room belonged to… him right?” Yoru finally asked when I went to stand next to him at the railing. He sounded sad, that much was obvious, but the way he stated the question made it clear that he mostly felt remorse for what he had done.
I nodded my head once, hoping he caught it from the corner of his eye.
“It is, or was, ours,” I said, wrapping one arm around my waist and squeezing myself tight. “They hate you, don’t they?” I asked quietly.
“Pretty much,” he said, practically a breath rather than spoken words, but I caught it. “Why wouldn’t they? I took the life of one of their own,” Yoru continued.
“How are you here now?” I asked when the thought crossed my mind.
“I was exiled,” Yoru said.
“It doesn’t matter why.”
“Why, Yoru.” I persisted.
Finally he turned to me, but the look on his face made it clear that I had crossed some line that he wanted to keep hidden. Suddenly Yoru took a step closer to me.
“You probably don’t know this, but Haku and I aren’t exactly what you would call strangers. In fact, we knew each other pretty damn well. He just didn’t know I was still alive after all this time.
“You see, Haku did something to me that I thought I could never forgive him for, something that ripped our paths apart. So, I left, I went far away for an extremely long time, but when I did come back it was the day that you left as a little girl. I saw the way he looked at you, I knew how he felt about you and I saw it as the perfect revenge,” Yoru said. “I’ve been watching you for a while now Chihiro, even before you came back to the Spirited World.”
Before I could react he grabbed my hands and pinned them against the railing, holding them down.
“I have a special ability Chihiro, I’m able to freely travel between the Spirit World and your world. It was that day I decided to take you away from him the way he took her away from me. So I followed you back to your world. I watched for a long time, keep to the shadows and waiting for a chance to permanently remove you from Haku’s life, but the longer I watched, the more I felt the urge to protect you.
“I couldn’t understand it. It was the perfect way to get back at Haku, but the thought of killing you started to get harder and harder to fathom. One day I decided enough was enough. I followed you into the woods. It was clear that it was going to rain so I thought that it would make killing you seem like an accident,” he whispered since he didn’t need to say it louder, our foreheads were practically touching.
“But then you went and fell all on your own. I should have left you there, my revenge would have ended if I had only left you there. But I couldn’t, every cell in my body screamed to help you and I did. I picked you up and took you back to your home,” Yoru continued.
I couldn’t think, he had to be lying, but it all made sense, it explained what happened that day. Still, I was unwilling to believe.
“You’re lying,” I whispered, but I knew it was the truth. Everything he said made complete sense, I just didn’t to believe that it was him and not Haku who had been looking over me.
Everything he told me had started looping around in my head, starting to sink in. I probably would have made sense of it all if Yoru hadn’t decided to lean his head down and look directly into my eyes. Then he kissed me, hard and fast.
I tried to object, to push him away, but he over powered me easily, pressing me against the railing the way he had the first time we had kissed. Instead of fighting him I simply stopped. I stopped trying to get away and I didn’t stop him when he pried my mouth open with his own.
After a while he pulled away, looking deep into my eyes.
“Do you get it now?” Yoru asked between breaths. “I fell in love with you, Chihiro.”
I looked up at him, tears forming in my eyes.
“Why Yoru? Why are you telling me all of this?” I asked desperately, choking back a sob. He looked down at me with sad eyes.
“Because the reason I was exiled has everything to do with it.”
He looked away.
“I was ordered to kill you along with Haku.”