Disclaimer: I do not own Spirited Away. I make no money from this story and am having to pay Mum if I go over our broadband limit again. :(
AN: Another chapter! My exams are finally over!! Don't want to even think about the results. I've just had a two week holiday in Turkey. Lovely weather and warm seas, never really get that in Scotland.
Just want to thank everyone for all their reviews. It was the highlight of my day when I checked my reviews during study leave. It helped calm me down after the fire alarm went off during my English exam. I also want to apologise for taking so long to write the next chapter and in case there are any grammar or spelling mistakes (I'm writing this on the train and my laptop keeps threatening to smash to the floor).
"And," Chihiro added, "I need to work out how to get the girls back, seeing as I'm probably right in thinking that they are pigs right now."
"Why do you want them back?" Rin grumbled. If it were up to her those pigs would be bacon already. How dare anyone hurt her little sister!
"I may not like them, but I don't want them eaten!" Chihiro exclaimed, horrified at the suggestion.
Haku sighed. "All right you win. We're off to see Yubaba."
The workers of Yubaba's bathhouse were used to seeing many strange things. A three headed dog with fowl breath and yellow, gleaming fangs had arrived last week requesting a manicure. It had taken two days to clean away all the drool, but no one had batted an eyelid (they just tried to avoid letting the dog breathe on them, rather difficult seeing as how it had three heads and three lots of bad breath). Yet the sight of Master Haku walking awkwardly towards an elevator was enough to turn more than a few heads.
It was almost like he was carrying an invisible person on his back, one worker remarked to his colleague. "Don't be stupid," his friend told him and turned back to scrubbing the tub he was working on.
In the elevator Haku made Chihiro visible and let her slide carefully off his back so that she could lean against the wall. Rin, Kamajii and Haku knew that they had to get Chihiro to Yubaba quietly. Sen had become something of a legend since she'd left and her reappearance would cause a commotion. One Yubaba would not appreciate. It was better to keep on her good side until they'd got what they wanted. Haku had just wanted to change into his dragon form and fly up to her office. Chihiro had loved the idea, but Rin and Kamajii had put their feet down. It wouldn't do Chihiro's broken limb any good. After some arguing, mostly between Rin and Haku who seemed to have a competition going on who could argue the loudest and longest, it was decided that Haku would make Chihiro invisible and carry her to Yubaba.
In the elevator there was an awkward silence as the two tried to study the other while trying not to be spotted. There was a lot of blushing on both parts and in the end they both ended up staring at their own feet. It was the easiest thing to do.
"Haku," Chihiro started, not being able to stand the silence any longer. "I thought you'd ended your contract with Yubaba. I mean you know your name now."
Haku scowled at the wall. "It turned out that I hadn't read the small print. In the unlikelihood of me remembering my name then I had to serve another seven years before I'm allowed to go free." He mumbled something that sounded an awful like: "The writing was tiny, how was I supposed to see it. She had to get a magnifying glass out to show it to me." He was shocked to feel a set of comforting arms wrap around him. He wasn't really used to this sort of thing. The most affectionate gesture he received usually was a friendly punch on the arm from Rin. He hesitated slightly then wrapped his own arms around Chihiro.
They stayed like that, not noticing that the elevator had stopped and the door had opened to reveal a rather familiar Radish Spirit. When the two did notice they leapt away from each other, both doing a rather impressive impression of a beetroot. The Radish Spirit smiled fondly at Chihiro, patted her on the head and lumbered off as the door shut again. It felt rather like being patted on the head by a giant marshmallow.
As they reached the top floor they ran into a spot of trouble. Downstairs they'd had Rin and Kamajii there to help Chihiro, who couldn't put much weight on her broken foot, onto Haku's back. Without them there help it was rather more difficult. After several failed attempts Haku gave up and swooped Chihiro into his arms and walked swiftly into Yubaba's office, not even bothering to knock.
The office was exactly the same and at the desk sat the giant headed owner of the bathhouse. Yubaba looked up from a large stack of papers, adjusted her glasses and grinned evilly. "I knew you were fond of the girl Haku, but I didn't expect you to get married so quickly. Is that even legal where she comes from?" She gestured to how Haku was holding the Chihiro... Bridal style.
"WHAT!" Haku squeaked, his voice going high pitched. Damn puberty, he thought sulkily. If he didn't have a reputation to hold onto he might have pouted. Next thing you know I'll be getting spots. He resisted the urge to check that he had none. He didn't look at Chihiro who probably looked like he felt. Mortified.
Yubaba cackled as she fixed her sharp gaze on Chihiro. "I suppose you want your job back. Well why should I give it to you? You cost me more than you were worth last time."
Before Chihiro could apologise Haku interrupted. "The River Spirit she helped paid you for all damages when he heard about what had happened and your baths have become more popular ever since because everyone wants to see if she'll come back. And," he decided to play his trump card. "If you don't, I'll tell Bo."
It was a childish and ridiculous statement (one that both spirits would deny to ever using or caving into) but it caught Yubaba's attention. Her son had done nothing but talk of Sen for months after his great adventure. It had been Sen this and Sen that. It had become very tiring, very quickly. Yet her son would never forgive her if she turned Sen away and both she and Haku knew it.
Scowling she waved her hand a sheet of paper appeared. "You'll have to sign a contract again. And your duties will be the same. You'll be Rin's assistant. I also want you to babysit when I need you to." She sniffed at Haku's victorious look and Chihiro's relieved one. Watching as Chihiro quickly signed the contract, Yubaba stretched out her hand and Chihiro's name once again flew into it. "Now, Haku put her down on that chair and we can see that foot of hers."
Yubaba took Chihiro's foot in her grasp and inspected it closely. "Care to tell me how this happened?"
"You have three new pigs," was all she was told by Haku and at a glance at Chihiro's face she sighed.
"I suppose they're friends of yours you want back."
Haku snorted and Chihiro glared at him. "They're not exactly friends, but I would like them returned to normal." Yubaba was becoming very interested in this story. Judging by Haku's reaction, she definitely wanted to hear it.
"Well, you'll have to work to get them back. Now the entire story please, or I'll let you hobble around for a few days before I heal that foot." Slowly the entire story came out and Yubaba was left fuming. No one bullied her workers except for herself and well paying customers. "Are you sure you don't want me to cook them straight away?" she grinned at the idea. Chihiro shook her head frantically as Haku nodded behind her.
Yubaba concentrated on Chihiro's ankle and mended it. It was weird for Chihiro who could feel the bone join back together.
"Now shoo," Yubaba told them, going back to her work. "I don't want Sen making an appearance until after we're closed. She'd distract the workers. She can go see Bo."
Haku grinned and left. He had work to do and Rin would kill him if he didn't tell her what had happened. Chihiro stood still, not sure what to do and then cautiously walked towards the nursery door.
She walked inside and was greeted with an enthusiastic, "SEN!"
Bo was exactly the same as he was the last time she saw him. He towered over her, a big grin on his face. In one quick movement he'd plucked her off the floor and was hugging her to death. Literally.
"Need to breathe!" Chihiro croaked out and was relieved when she was set apologetically back on the ground. She found her next few hours filled with questions and playing.
There was a kind of hushed silence when Chihiro first came into view when the bathhouse closed. It lasted for roughly about 2 seconds (Rin who had timed this event later told them that it lasted 2.34 seconds exactly), and then excited babble broke out as everyone Chihiro didn't know congratulated her on her return.
"Glad to see you back."
"We really missed you."
These greetings continued as she was shown to a sleeping mat next to Rin, who promptly threatened everyone until they shut up and let her sleep. As Chihiro lay there she realised that it was exactly coming home after a very long, very eventful holiday.
Hope you enjoyed the chapter, I will try and update soon.