Chapter | 11
Almost a week and I half later I still found I couldn’t sleep. All I could think about was Haku’s hands and his lips, the way they felt on my body. Luckily my fantasies later morphed into dreams and before I knew it dawn was upon me. After Haku and I finally decided that it was time to sleep he told me that he had to be somewhere to be and that I would be alone for the morning.
Staring at the roof I tried to think of something to do with myself, but came up with nothing. Slowly I got up and walked over to the door, the night gown Lin had given swishing around my shins, and stepped outside into the sunlight. Unlike the previous time, I didn’t let my guard down I stayed close to the open door, my ears strained for any unwelcome noise. The sun was already bright in the sky and I could feel it burning through my skin and right into my soul.
It was days like this that I actually liked in the human world. Days where I would just lie there on the porch and let my thoughts wonder. How long had I been in the spirit world now? About two weeks or something like that… Not that I really cared, but I hoped that my parents were at least looking for me or something. But, as I said, I didn’t care. Okay. So maybe I cared a little bit, but not enough to want to go back to them.
I turned around, went back into the room and closed the door behind me before going to Yubaba’s office. I wanted to ask her if I could use her bathroom, and of course some of the things in her bathroom, but it appeared that she wasn’t there so I went ahead and helped myself for more than an hour.
When I finally emerged through a veil of steam and fragrance I felt amazing, and clean. Now clothes. Some of my clothes had been sent to the laundry room and should have been brought back by now so I went back to the room and started looking for it.
I found the clothes along with my backpack that I brought with me the day I first got here. After pulling on my underwear, I was about to search through the pile for my shorts, but I found something soft thrown in with the rest of the clothes. Carefully I pulled the piece of clothing out from beneath the rest of the clothes and found that it was I white dress. I studied for a moment, marvelling at how simple, yet elegant, it was. Without thinking I slipped the dress on and found that it was exactly my size.
I went to stand in front of the mirror in the corner of the room to admire the beauty of the dress. Seeing as it ended a bit above my knee, it showed off enough leg to look good, but not trashy. I had bit of trouble with the spaghetti straps; clearly the dress was made for someone with a bit more… assets than me.
Feeling like a girly girl, I made a twirl just to see how it felt and even though I am ashamed to admit it, it felt kinda good.
After giving myself another once-over I went over to my back-pack and tipped its contents onto the bed. I almost gave out a little cry of joy when I saw my cell phone and headphones, luckily now I would have something to do.
It seemed that I had turned off my cell phone before I had run away so the battery was practically full. I didn’t even bother checking for missed calls, because there was no way there would be any cell phone reception in the spirit world. I simply popped in my headphones and put them on my head, moving out onto the balcony again while scrolling through my playlist.
When I couldn’t decide on any specific song I hit shuffle and started skipping song after song until the right one came on. Kristie Marie’s “Tomboy” made its way on and I decided to stick to it.
Little white shoes, little white pearls
Little white lacy dress
Dirt on the cheek, skinned up knees
A pretty little muddy mess
I started to hum along with the melody as my fingers drummed out the bass line on the railing where I was standing.
Sittin' on the bank of the creek out back
After Sunday church
With a reel and a rod, daddy's tackle box
And a big ol' can of worms
Softly I started to sing along with Kristie Marie, the sound coming from my mouth barely audible in my head, which meant that hopefully no one around would hear me sing.
Mama tried her very best
My voice started to rise and my feet started to move along with the lyrics and the music. My heart lifting up as I went into mood where I didn’t hear or see or care about the rest of the world or anyone in it, even Haku was pressed out of my world.
But daddy's little girl ain't all sugar
Daddy's little girl sure got spice
She'd rather be down in the dust and dirt
Playin' by her own rules
Now I could hear myself singing along with the song at the top of my lungs, but that happened to be all I could hear since I never even thought that someone would try and sneak up on me in broad daylight.
It wasn't until the song had ended that I realized that I wasn't alone on the balcony anymore. I pressed pause on my phone and slipped the headphones from my ears without turning to face whoever it was. Finally I spun around, fists ready, but there was no one there... Or so I thought. One minute I was staring at the empty space before the door and the next I felt I hand clasp over my mouth.
"Don't scream" the unknown voice said "I promise I have not come here to hurt you" he said as he pushed me toward the door and back into the room. Once finally inside he pulled his hand away from my face and closed the door behind us.
By now my brain had already formulated about a hundred ways to hurt this guy, some of which even included a hair pin and the door handle. As if anticipating my intention, he moved to seal my only escape route before putting his hands up in the universal peace sign. He was wearing a black robe that covered his entire body so that I couldn't even see his face. Shadow Walker.
I took a step back just in case he tried anything funny.
Slowly the man reached up and pulled something down under his hood, letting it hang around his neck, before his hands came up and he pulled the hood over his head.
I was expecting some old geezer to be under the hood, but this person was far from that. It wasn't an old man; in fact it wasn't even a man. Standing in front of me was a woman about two or three years older than I was, but then again, she could just be aging like Haku.
She was extremely beautiful, with long red hair tied back in a ponytail. She was a head or so taller than me and even from across the room I could see her eyes where a very dark shade of brown, if not black. By the way she was looking at me it wasn't hard to guess that she was studying me the same way I was studying her.
"So, you're the human girl? Not too shabby" she said with a little smile of approval, "At least Haku knows how to pick 'em." Slowly she untied the black robe from around her shoulders and when it came loose she tossed it onto the bed.
Underneath the robe she wore what seemed to be a black crop top and black tights with normal flats. I must have looked so stupid to her, standing there like some mute idiot who was so shell-shocked that she couldn't even blink.
Pulling myself together, I squared my shoulders and tried to look defiant, like I belonged there.
"Yes, my name is Chihiro. Who are you?" I asked her "If you're another Shadow Walker then just understand that you'll have to kill me before I leave".
She seemed to think about these words before she suddenly started laughing at me, this took me even more by surprise.
"Wow, Haku was right, you are a hard one. Don't worry, I'm not a Shadow Walker" she said once she finally stopped laughing, "Well not a real one anyway, I guess I'm what you would call a double agent."
She walked over to me and extended one hand.
"The name’s Luna, I'm and old... well, friend of Haku's" she said and gave me a genuine smile. Hesitantly I took her outstretched hand and shook it.
"You don't have to be wary of me, Haku called me out to come and help" she said as she turned around and walked to the door. "You coming or not?" she called at me over her shoulder. Not sure if I was doing the right thing I slipped the headphones off and placed them on the bed with my phone before I followed her down the steps and into Yubaba's office.
"Where is everyone?" Luna asked as we went out the main doors and walked over to the bridge. It was hard not to admire the way she was built, strong but not manly. When she moved, she moved with confidence. It made me wonder what exactly her relationship with Haku was, but it didn't feel right to ask her until I got to know her better.
"Haku said something about a holiday of sorts" I said.
We came to a halt in the middle of the bridge before Luna turned and leaned over the railing. I looked past her and saw that it was already one o'clock in the afternoon, where was Haku?
Slowly she turned so that her back was pressed against the railing, her eyes dead-set on me.
"Can I ask you something personal?" she asked, her face turning stoic.
I gulped, "Umm, sure" I said hesitantly before moving closer to her.
"What kind of relationship do you and Haku share?" she asked, her voice completely serious and her gaze boring deep into mine.
My eyes went wide and I started to blush when the question reminded me of the bathes and I guessed this was all Luna needed to know about Haku and I.
"I see, so you're in love with him. Does he know?" she asked, taking me a little by surprise.
"I do love him and even if I haven't told him I think he knows it already" I said softly, my heart starting to flutter as I thought of him. Luna regarded me for a little while more before looking up at the sky.
"Speak of the devil" she whispered before waving at Haku, who was flying at us in his dragon form.
When he almost reached the bridge he slowed down and transformed halfway in the air so that he landed in front of us in his human form.
"Luna!" he exclaimed, "I'm so glad you could make it" he said before moving forward to pull her into a tight hug. For some reason it made my heart jump, and not with joy.
"I'm sorry I wasn't here to welcome you when you arrived, I hope you weren't alone for too long?" he said once he stepped away from her, not letting go of her shoulders.
I couldn't remember ever seeing him smile that much at anyone, maybe at me, but this was different from even when he looked at me. Not that he was doing that now; he hadn't even realized that I was there with them.
"Not at all, Chihiro and I spent some quality time together" Luna said, turning so that Haku could see me behind her.
"Chihiro? I hadn’t even seen you there" he said and walked over to me. At first I thought he would hug me like he did Luna, but instead he ruffled my hair like I was some kind of kid.
He turned back and the two of them started talking again, but I didn't pay much attention to what they were saying. They didn't even notice when I slipped back in to the bath house.
Why was he treating her so kindly? He practically pushed me away so that he could talk to her. I felt so alone for some reason and wished that the people would return so that I wouldn't be alone long enough to get lost in my thoughts.
I needed to do something active, so that my brain could focus on other things. Deciding that it was time for a jog, I went up to the room and took of the dress. In the pile of clothes I was able to find a uniform pants and my shirt that I had brought with me. It seemed that my sneakers had been brought up to the room so grabbed them and went back to the main entrance. Haku and Luna were gone by them, so at least I could avoid being asked where I was going.
My sneakers weren't exactly the ideal running shoes, but they would have to do for now. It was only two o'clock, leaving me more than enough time before it got dark. I set out on a slow jog for the beginning. Once I reached the river, I realized that I didn't really know where I was going so I decided to look for a path on the other side. The small stream flowed beneath me as I jumped from rock to rock in order to get across.
Once on the other side, I decided to start jogging again and it wasn't long before I realized there was a path that split off from the one that led to the entrance of the spirit world. It was a small path, but luckily it was rather worn out so keeping my balance wasn't that hard. The tall grass brushed up against me as I ran faster and faster. The little path continued for a long time and after a while my muscles started to ache from running too long. I slowed down to a walk to calm them and catch my breath, but that wasn't enough, I would have to find a place to rest for a while.
Turning in a circle I scanned the area around me until I spotted a little hill with a tree on in. There didn't seem to be a path that led to it, so I would have to go through the grass.
Gathering the last of my strength I ran through it until I reached the bottom of the little hill. Luckily the grass on the hill was short so I pulled myself up and sat down under the tree.
When my heart calmed down I knew that I had to get back, but the sun shining through the trees and the wind playing through the grass kept me there. I stretched my arm out in front of me and looked at the leaves through my parted fingers. It wasn't long before I laid my head down on the grass and stretched my body out in the shadow of the tree.
I woke up later on to find that it was getting darker by the second. Had I really been asleep that long? And why hadn’t Haku come looking for me?
Slowly I picked up my sleepy body and waded down the little hill and back into the grass. Somehow, on the way back to my path, my foot caught on something and I fell into the grass. I got up and found that my body was covered in mud, even though I remember the ground being dry when I had walked here.
A few things seemed to happen at the same time. My body and brain caught on at the same time, so when I realized that the field was about to become a lake, I had already started running. With every step I took the mud became thicker and wetter. I must have fallen about three more times before I reached the main path that led to the river. By then there was water up to my shins and running was getting harder.
I had almost reached the steps when the ground beneath my feet seemed to fall away. The water was now up to my face and I had to swim the last couple of yards to the steps. I climbed out onto them, throwing myself down on the ground, my chest heaving.
“Too close” I sighed, pressing one hand to my forehead. When I could finally get up again I walked back to the bath house.
Needless to say, I was cold and miserable by the time I reached the bath house. Stopping in front of the doors, I took off my dirty shoes and looked down at myself. Even though I had swum, there was still mud stuck to my body, even in my hair and on my face. I was so mad that I didn't even care that I was busy tracking mud and filth all the way up to Yubaba's office, all I wanted to do was clean myself.
I was just about to go into Yubaba's office when I heard voices from inside, I couldn't make out what they were saying, but I knew it was Haku and Luna.
So he had been so preoccupied with her that he hadn't even come looking for me? My heart ached again. Instead of going in I went to the bathroom where I put on one of the robes hanging behind the door. It was big enough that I was able to hide myself under it.
I quickly scrubbed my face to get rid of most of the mud before I went back.
The closer I got to Yubaba's office, the better I could hear that they were having a good time. I pulled the robe closer to me and opened the door.
Both Haku and Luna fell silent when they saw me enter, almost as if their conversation wasn't meant for my ears. I could feel their eyes on me as I hurried across the room and through the door on the other side, up the stairs and into Haku's room. I thought I heard Haku call out my name, but it felt like I had imagined it.
I didn't even bother turning on any of the lights in the room, the amount of moonlight shining in through the windows was more than enough.
I shrugged the robe off and let it drop to the ground before pushing my hair away from my face again. Next I pulled my shirt off in one motion, but I did this at the same time the door opened and Haku came in. I knew that what he was seeing at that moment. Me standing there with my dirty shirt in my hands, but I didn't care that he was seeing me half naked.
"Can I help you?" I asked with no emotion in my voice.
Haku took a few steps into the room before he noticed in what shape my clothes and I were.
"What happened to you?" he asked as he walked over to me and held me at arm’s length to assess the damage.
"I was on the other side of the river when it got dark" I said without looking at him, focusing my gaze on the bed instead.
"What where you doing there?" he practically yelled at me, which didn't exactly help the mood I was in to get any better. And above all that he was making it sound like my fault! Okay, so maybe it was my fault for falling asleep, but he could be a bit more compassionate about it.
"I went for a jog" I said and pulled myself away from him, for some reason not wanting him to touch me.
"Chihiro..." he said, but trailed off when I walked away from him. I felt betrayed by him. He promised that he would protect me, but he couldn't even realize when I was in danger. I knew he was thinking the same thing.
I tossed the dirty shirt into the corner of the room before shrugging of my pants and doing the same with them. I knew that I should have felt some shame for undressing in front of a guy, but then I remembered that Haku had already seen me in my underwear once before. Still, I must have looked silly with only certain areas now stained brown from the mud.
I was turning away from Haku to try and find a clean pair of clothes when his arms wrapped around my exposed waist, his head lying on my shoulder, pressing into my neck. I could feel his breath on my skin when he breathed in and breathed out. Even if I was mad at him it still felt good.
Some of the anger seeped away, regret filling its place. I was acting like a spoiled brat. So Haku didn’t realise I was gone? That didn’t mean he didn’t care about me as much as I cared about him. He was with a friend of his, one that he clearly hadn’t seen in a long time.
I saw the way he smiled when he was with Luna, yes, but I also trusted him more than anyone. Luna’s words suddenly popped into my head.
I had to tell him that I loved him; Luna was right about that much, not that I planned on telling her that much. He needed to know that I was serious about us and if he didn't want to lose me, he'd have to step up his game.
Slowly I turned around in his arms and wrapped my arms around his neck. He seemed suspicious of my actions and tried to lift his head. I pressed it back down into my neck.
"Wait. I have to tell you something, but you're not allowed to look at me when I do" I said softly into his hair.
Haku relaxed into me, not trying to escape any longer. Suddenly I felt nervous; my entire body was burning up from the anxiety flowing through my veins.
"Haku, I... I love you" I said before I could chicken out.
A hush fell over the room when Haku didn't say anything back. Instead he did something I had never expected. His arms slipped away from my waist before he bent down and wrapped them around my knees, my body going up and over his shoulder. In one smooth motion he flung me onto the bed so that my head was resting just below the pillows.
With his head positioned right above mine and his hands at the sides of my head, I had the perfect view of the pained look in his eyes. He looked like he was about to cry.
"How can you say that to me?" he whispered.
"You got hurt today, because I wasn't there to protect you, again" he closed his eyes and turned his face away. "You see, Luna and I are very old friends and until today we haven't really seen each other in a long time. I guess I got a bit absorbed in seeing her again that I forgot why I had brought her here in the first place" he continued, totally oblivious to the position we were in.
He turned his head back and looked deep into my eyes.
"If I promise that this won't ever happen again, then you have to promise not to do something reckless like you did today" he said, his voice dead serious, and I couldn't think of and easier promise to make.
My hand slipped away from my side and I put it on the back of his neck before drawing him down for a kiss. He kissed me sweetly before pulling away to get up, but I wasn't about to let him get off that easy. He had an entire day to make up for.
Somehow he must have known what I was thinking, because it only took a tug on his shirt to pull him back to me. His lips found mine and we started to kiss again, more fiercely this time. Haku rolled onto his side and pulled me close to his body, his exposed hand making a path from my shoulder down over my bra, over my waist until he reached the back of my knee. Once he had his hand around it, he pulled it up so that I now had one leg wrapped around his waist. His free hand then wrapped around my waist again.
We rolled over so that he was once again looking down on me, or he would have been if his lips weren't on my throat, and it felt good.
Putting both my hands on his chest I pushed him away lightly. He seemed confused by this, but sat up while I climbed out from under him. We were both breathing heavily, but now it was my turn to have a look at him. My hands shook a little as I found the hem of his shirt, lifting it up and over his head. Luckily he was only wearing a loose shirt and pants, not his uniform.
I knew he was looking at me, but I was so embarrassed that I couldn't even try to make eye contact.
Once his shirt was off, I tossed it to the ground beside the bed. And of course I hadn't planned further than that so all I could do was sit with hands my pressed against my chest.
Haku made a noise that sounded like a sigh mixed with a laugh, before reaching out and taking one of my hands. Tugging on it lightly he pulled it away from my chest and put it on his. Slowly I spread my fingers out.
His skin was soft and warm; I could even feel his heart beat under my palm. I didn't know why, but for some reason it shocked me to find that his heart was beating just as fast as mine. I pulled myself closer to him so that his knees were touching my thighs, my hand exploring the lines and dips of his chest.
Taking my time, and I mean seriously taking my time, I slid my hand up his chest until I reached his collar bone.
"I'm still pretty dirty, so please can we stop for tonight?" I asked before rising and kissing him softly one last time. His hand reached out and touched my cheek.
"Sounds fine to me" he whispered before getting up from my bed and walking to the door. "See you tomorrow" he said and closed the door behind him.
My heart felt like it was going to explode. I just loved him so much.