Water gently crashed together as the boat carrying many spirits to the Aburaya arrived at the dock. Pink flower petals touched the surface, barely creating a ripple. A boy sat at the stairs to the river, his emerald eyes solemnly remembering the past. He looked at the bouquet in his hands, holding it with tender care.
"Hey." a voice called to him, causing him to turn around. Walking towards him was a young woman of sixteen with fire-red hair and cloud-gray eyes. Her outfit was in two parts: the top was in a Chinese style and came down to the end of her ribs. The color was red with goldenrod lining, and had a matching skirt. The skirt, which started on her hips and revealed her stomach, was the same in color, but had shorts underneath, and had a slit from her upper thigh to the end on both sides. Her slippers were a lighter red and goldenrod color, but otherwise matched her outfit. Her fire-red hair was in a ponytail, swaying in the wind. Two golden wristbands were on her wrists, and her nails were painted a bright red.
She walked next to him and asked, "Are you okay?"
The boy nodded, then continued to look out at the river in front of them.
The woman knelt down next to him and placed an arm around his shoulders, a solemn smile on her face.
"You miss her, don't you?" she asked.
"A lot." the boy admitted.
"Don't worry about it, okay? She'll come back, I'm sure of it. Just wait and see."
The boy smiled then said, "Thanks."
Standing up, the woman brushed off her skirt and started to walk up the stairs. She turned to the boy and smiled.
"Come on, let's head back
A car silently moved along the road as a girl with brown hair and black eyes slouched in the back seat behind her parents. Shopping bags were around her, meaning that the family was returning home from a shopping trip. Her mother noticed her and sighed in exasperation.
"Chihiro, would you let it go?" her mother, Yuuko, asked, "She didn't seem too bad."
"Mom, Kira's the meanest girl in the whole school!" Chihiro yelled back, "She's really mean and very spoiled. She'll bully anyone that she claims is in 'her territory', and forces them out."
"Have you had any problems with her, Chihiro?" Akio asked, turning onto their street.
"No. I'm the only one at school that's openly stood up to her. I'm a little bit of a celebrity."
"What do Kira's friends think?" Yuuko asked.
"They actually like me better than Kira and mostly hang around me during breaks."
"What are their names?"
"Mika and Akane Miyazaki. They're twin sisters that live a few houses down from us, and we walk to school together."
"Do they believe that story about the Spirit World?"
"Yeah, they do. Mika says that it's entirely possible for humans to get stuck there. She even said that her mom was friends with a girl in high school and she suddenly disappeared. They never found her body and assumed she ran away."
"That's quite a story." Akio commented, then pulled into the driveway of their home, "Here we are."
"Chihiro, hand some of the bags to me." Yuuko said, and Chihiro did as her mother instructed.
After unlocking the door, Chihiro and her parents began to put up the groceries until dinner. Chihiro then noticed the one thing that she didn't want to see
a box with a pastry.
"Twinkies, Dad?" Chihiro asked, visibly annoyed, "You have a whole cupboard of them already."
"I keep telling you to lay off the Twinkies, honey." Yuuko said, "You'll end up like your Uncle Hisao. His name means 'long-lived man', but he ended up dying at fifty from Twinkies."
"It's not my fault I was raised on a delicious snack." Akio replied, putting the Twinkies up.
"Dad, the last and only time I had Twinkies, I threw up for ten minutes. They are
"I can't help you there, Chihiro."
"Mom, are you sure you can reach that?"
"I'm fine, honey." Yuuko answered, "I might be three months pregnant, but I can still move around."
"Tell that to Dad. He's very overprotective."
"One day, Chihiro, you'll be married and pregnant, and your husband will worry about you." Akio said, visualizing his daughter's future.
"Hopefully I'll marry someone who: a) hates Twinkies, b) loves me for myself, and c) won't freak out whenever I'm pregnant."
"Honey, I can see you freaking out when I was pregnant with Chihiro, but this is ridiculous." Yuuko said, turning on the water to wash some leeks, "I can handle myself until the eight month."
"You said that with Chihiro and look what happened," Akio defended, "twenty hours of labor."
"That was because Chihiro was a little stubborn."
"Can we please not discuss my birth?" Chihiro asked, "It's grossing me out."
"Okay, honey. Is your homework done?"
"I'm sure it is, but I'll double check."
Chihiro walked upstairs to her room, which was the first door on the left. She opened the door and shut it, turning around and stopping dead in her tracks, eyes widened with surprise. In front of her was a boy with emerald green eyes, white outer shirt and blue undershirt, sky blue pants, and a lavender sash holding it all together. His hair was a steel green color and he wore straw sandals on his feet.
"It's been a while, Chihiro." he said, smiling at her.
Chihiro ran over to him and embraced him tightly, almost knocking him over. Haku managed to sustain his balance and hug Chihiro back, his arms wrapping around her as if he never wanted to let her go. This went on for a few seconds, then the two parted.
"What are you doing here?" Chihiro asked.
"I came to return this." Haku answered, handing her the same bouquet he had earlier.
"This is my bouquet."
"You friend from before you moved gave that to you. We just nurtured it back to health. Don't let old memories go, Chihiro."
"I won't, but
"I don't have time to stay. I need to get back."
"Okay. Thanks for visiting, Haku."
Chihiro leaned in and placed a tender kiss on Haku's cheek, surprising him. A blush was also on her face.
"Hopefully I can stay longer next time." Haku said, "Oh, your homework's done."
"Thanks. That answers my question."
Haku walked over to Chihiro and kissed her cheek, making her blush even more. He then walked over to the window and opened it, turning to Chihiro afterwards. He smiled, then jumped out.
Frightened, Chihiro ran over to her window and looked outside for Haku. She saw him when she looked up in his dragon form, staring down at her. She smiled and waved to him, and he flew down to her level. She smiled at him, and his snout pressed against Chihiro's mouth, as if to kiss her. Flattered, Chihiro kissed the dragon back.
Haku moved away from Chihiro, and Chihiro said, "I hope you know that won't count unless you're in human form."
Haku growled a little in response, then nuzzled Chihiro, making her giggle a little.
"Don't you have to go back?" she asked, "You'll get in trouble."
Haku nodded then ascended into the clouds, out of Chihiro's sight. She waved as he did, a smile on her face.
"Bye, Haku." she said, leaning on her window sill, "He's still as majestic as ever. I wonder if everyone else misses me as much as I miss them. I should visit them, but it's impossible to do."
Turning back, Chihiro saw something sparkle on her bed. She walked over to it and saw one of Haku's scales lying on the bed, as well as a note. Picking up the scale, she read the note's contents,
"This is just in case nobody believes you. I hope it's proof enough.
Smiling, Chihiro decided she'd later make it into a necklace after dinner. She put it in her pocket and hid the note in her desk, then shut her window, which Haku had left open.
"Chihiro! Dinner's ready!" Yuuko yelled from downstairs.
"Coming!" Chihiro replied, then hurried downstairs to join her parents for dinner.