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The Haunted Forest - Not a rock, I'm just Ruth
All Me, no apologies
The Haunted Forest
Type of Submission: Fiction
Title: The Haunted Forest
Author: just_ruth
greeneyes_fan who asked, “Just how exactly did Bobby learn Japanese?”
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Pre-series, Japanese lore
Author's Notes: Aokigahara Forest at the foot of Mount Fuji is notorious as a site for suicides. Side bar story to A Little Christmas
Special thanks to: randomstasis for much advise and bouncing of ideas. intrepidy and fhionnuiscetine for beta awesomeness
Summary: “So, Bobby, I’ve always wondered, how did you learn to speak Japanese?”
Word Count: 1721

Dean Winchester pulled smoothly on to the Interstate. It was going to be a long drive back to Illinois from South Carolina. “So, Bobby,” he said. “I’ve always wondered, how did you learn to speak Japanese?” He dug into the paper sack next to him and pulled out one of Miss Wanda Kay’s molasses cookies and started munching.

Bobby Singer grunted. His broken leg was stretched across the back seat of the Impala. He contemplated telling Dean it was none of his business, but the boy had dropped everything and come to his rescue when Woodrow Jefferson’s large and loving family were threatening to drive him out of his mind. “Give me one of them cookies and I’ll tell you,” he finally growled. Dean swung the bag back and Bobby sank his teeth into the pastry. Damn, that woman made good cookies.

“In Japan,” he said with his mouth full. “Learned to speak Japanese in Japan. Went there during college.”

“You went to college, Bobby?”

“You think that brother of yours was the only person ever to pull off a full-ride scholarship?” Bobby gruffed. “Wasn’t easy. My Ma drove me like a racehorse to get into college. See, my sister became a widow in ‘74 because of the war. My brother was a mechanic at the Marine Air Force Base on Okinawa - Ma didn’t want to lose another of her babies to ‘Nam.” Bobby fell silent a moment. “Dad thought she was nuts. By the time I won the scholarship I wanted to get out of that house more than anything.”

“Is that why you helped Sam - -?”

“Yep, but my Dad wasn’t half the idjit John was - why else did I chase him off with a shotgun? Anyway, I was there for about six months before I got my ‘total immersion’ in Japanese.” He fell silent a moment.

“The Aokigahara forest is at the foot of Fujiyama. It’s protected, got trails, some caves people go to; there are thick trees older than Tokyo and it’s always quiet. You don’t hear anything. Whoever invented the term “eerie silence” must’ve spent time in Aokigahara. It’s old, Dean, older than you can imagine. There are stories about demons in it that go back to before they had Emperors.

“They say people used to take their old folks there to let ‘em die. Maybe that’s why it’s so cold there and why it’s a place for suicides.”

“Suicides?” Dean frowned in the rearview mirror.

“Suicides. That’s why I ended up going there. Made a friend, Hoshi, good guy, pretty typical college boy; I only knew him for one semester. Turns out his grades were dropping and he disappeared after the results of the finals came out. Some of the other students said he went to Aokigahara to kill himself and spare his family shame -- the Japanese look at suicide differently than we do.”

“Yeah, It’s an honor thing, right? Harry Karry, or something like that.”

“Harry Caray was an announcer for the Chicago Cubs. Hara-kiri is a term picked up by American movies and some Japanese find it insulting. Suicide by sword as practiced by samurai and nobles is called seppuku - damn painful way to die, disemboweling yourself.” Bobby snarled. “Find a place for me to pee, boy.”

“Bobby, I’m sorry . . .”

“I’m not mad at you, I got to piss! I’ll finish the story when we get back on the road.”

Bobby settled himself and waited, sipping at his paper cup of vending machine coffee and wincing because the bitter brew was strong enough to bite back. Dean navigated the exit from the truck stop and gunned ahead. His phone rang and he spoke briefly but warmly to someone on the other end, promising to find a motel at the next rest period.

Bobby envied him for a fleeting moment, remembering when he had someone on the other end of the call worrying about him.

“I wanted to help.” He finally said. “I’d been living on campus so I knew very little of the language. There was a search for bodies and I went with them. I didn’t know how they marked the official trails and if I'd have studied more of the kanji I'd have known the sign I walked past said ‘Danger, trail washed out.’ I was out of sight from the other searchers when this fox came prancing out in front of me. Pure silver; never saw anything like it before or since - turned to look at it and there I am sliding on my ass down a slope that I swear wasn’t there before. Rolled and bounced a couple of times before I finally stopped hard against an old tree. Think I passed out - next thing I know this old man is scowling down at me and asking me questions.

“He had grizzled hair and was wearing a short, brown tunic like the farmers wear to plant rice. I should’ve noticed something about that, but my bell was ringing and I wasn’t seeing straight. I could only understand one word in three of what he was saying. I kept saying ‘sorry, sorry,’ until he makes this exasperated gesture and stomps off.

“A few minutes later, he brings over this pretty little girl in a typical schoolgirl’s uniform.

“‘My name is Moro Megumi,’ she said very softly. ’I speak some English.’

“Well, her English was at about the same level as my Japanese - but we started helping each other. The man carried me to this little shrine. There’re hundreds of them in Japan - just one room with a scroll or a statue and a place to burn incense.

“Megumi-san said she had come to help the guardian of the shrine. She didn’t really talk about herself and I really didn’t think about it at the time.

“It was like a dream, Dean. Everything was okay and I didn’t ask questions, I didn’t even want to ask questions. It was days -- maybe weeks; all I knew was that something in my head shifted and I was talking in Japanese. The guardian - Megumi-san called him Kiba-bousan – frowned when I spoke to him.

“Two days later, Kiba-bousan came back with another man; not as old as he was but older than me. He was dressed in this slightly old-fashioned suit. Kiba-bousan said to Megumi-san that it was time for her to go home. I asked them why she started crying when he said that.

"’Ah,’ the other man said. ’Forgive me; I am Professor Seto Hiyata. Your host has asked me to come and speak with you.’

"’I am very glad to meet you, sir.’

"’Ah, yes, you have been learning a great deal from Moro Megumi-san. You speak like a girl.’

“He was right. I was. In Japanese, women have what amounts to nearly an entirely different language compared to men.”

"What?" sputtered Dean, "men and women speak different languages?" His eyebrows shot up.

"They always have, son," Bobby shrugged. "The Japanese are just smart enough to admit it."

“Oh, man, Bobby, it sounds like you were under a djinn’s spell or something.”

“Or something, son, or something.”

“Good God,” sputtered Bobby as he limped into the motel room. “Silver Bullet motel! I didn’t think there even was Lone Ranger wallpaper.”

“Could be worse,” Dean eyed the lamp shaped like a rearing white horse with a masked rider as he put the six-pack in the miniscule refrigerator. “Could be Tonto.”

“Har-dee-har, Keemosabe.”

Pizza was ordered and consumed before Dean asked about Aokigahara forest.

“How did you finally get out of there, Bobby?”

“It was Seto-sensei, Dean. He used to be a college professor. We talked about everything, literally. He’d always wanted to meet an American and I wanted to know what I was missing by staying on campus. He was fascinating. We just talked and talked and the old man kept bringing us tea - once in a while he’d bring rice and pickled vegetables for me. Seto-sensei kept telling me he would eat later. I assumed he did when I would fall asleep.

“One afternoon, I thought I heard voices. A thick, white mist seemed to drift in off of Fujiyama and I could barely see between the trunks of the trees.

“‘It is time for you to go, Singer-san,” Seto-sensei said. “You have a gift. It must not be wasted.’

“I walked away. Scared the hell out of a search team - I tried to tell them about the temple and they thought I was nuts. That’s when I found out I’d been missing for about six months. My brother almost caused an international incident. I was hustled out of the forest and found myself sitting in an interrogation room.

“Inspector Yamato Inoue was highly skeptical about my story. Especially because I was speaking Japanese far better than other students that had been there a year. He finally asked me who taught me. I told him, honestly about Seto-sensei and the temple.

“His eyes became huge. That's when I found out that Seto-sensei actually died before the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was one of the group of academics that protested Imperial expansion and -- well, he was encouraged to commit an honorable suicide rather than be executed for treason against the Emperor." Bobby studied the level of liquid in his beer bottle. "He said he always wanted to meet an American. I only hope I brought him some peace."

“Inspector Yamato was the one they handed the ‘weird’ cases to - the suspected ghosts, the kitsune and other things. He was an onmyojin. They go around bringing peace to restless spirits. If my brother hadn’t hauled me home, I might have learned enough to . . .” He trailed off. No need to finish - enough to have recognized demonic possession when it happened.

“Do you think that Moro girl was a ghost too?” asked Dean.

“Probably.” Bobby shook himself. “Put on a sport’s channel, will you? I want to think about something else for a while.”

“Sure, Bobby, sure.”

As Dean flipped channels, Bobby looked out the darkened motel window. He could make out the shadowy shapes of landscaped pine trees; shaking his head, he let himself get lost in the basketball game.

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14 comments or Leave a comment
(Deleted comment)
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: January 8th, 2011 02:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! Your help was invaluable. :)
yanagi_wa From: yanagi_wa Date: January 6th, 2011 03:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Excellent work.
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: January 8th, 2011 02:36 am (UTC) (Link)
*grins* I always thought my odd collection of Japanese trivia would come in handy.

Glad you liked it.
sharona1x2 From: sharona1x2 Date: January 6th, 2011 11:06 am (UTC) (Link)
I really enjoyed this. I'm glad you wrote it because Bobby speaking Japanese is one bit of canon I'd love to see explained. I doubt they'd do as good a job as you did, though. My favorite line was this one:

"They always have, son," Bobby shrugged. "The Japanese are just smart enough to admit it."

No wonder I love Bobby Singer so much!
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: January 8th, 2011 02:36 am (UTC) (Link)
*grins* I always thought my odd collection of Japanese trivia would come in handy.

Glad you liked it.
darthanne From: darthanne Date: January 6th, 2011 11:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful mixture of creepy and yet not - if that makes sense. Very Bobby.
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: January 8th, 2011 02:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.
greeneyes_fan From: greeneyes_fan Date: January 7th, 2011 01:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow, I threw that prompt up a long time ago. What a nice suprise!

This is both fun and creepy. The hidden temple is fascinating, and your Jefferson clan is something else.
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: January 8th, 2011 02:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.
embroiderama From: embroiderama Date: January 8th, 2011 03:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I really like this look into Bobby's past.
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: January 8th, 2011 04:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.
msninacat From: msninacat Date: January 8th, 2011 10:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Really nice and poor Bobby. I loved all the lore and trivia tidbits!
just_ruth From: just_ruth Date: January 9th, 2011 03:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! I came to Supernatural from an anime background and always thought my Japanese trivia would come in handy.
randomstasis From: randomstasis Date: February 8th, 2011 04:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Nicely done- I feel rather sorry for Bobby, having to turn from twisted pines to a b'ball game.
But, but, did they ever find Hoshi?
poor Moro Megumi-san! I wonder where home was, and if she was a suicide, or just lost, poor thing..
(and of course I'm considering Smacking Bobby's brother- Yamato-sama should have had a little time to clue Singer into his "gift")
As you can see- I think this merits a sequel-inquel? not sure what you'd call it:)
14 comments or Leave a comment