Chapter | 5
He was almost on me, his one hand reaching for mine.
He was yelling something over the roar of the wind in my ears.
"Take my hand!" I heard him when he got closer and my body moved on its own as my hand reached once again for his.
He still looked like Haku, but he had definitely grown up.
I probably could have done an in depth analysis of him at that moment, but me perpetual fear of death restrained me.
Luckily all of these thoughts zapped out of my head when our hands touched.
An electric spark ran up my arm as he pulled me up to where he was- still falling, might I add.
My other hand shot out to grab his, allowing him to straighten me out until we were both falling feet first.
My hair was now above my head so I had a clear vision of Haku for the first time.
He was beautiful.
His black hair was whipping madly around his face and his eyes seemed to shine in the darkness.
Our eyes met and locked.
He opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out as we plummeted down to the water nearing our feet.
Haku saw the panic that spread across my face and took one of his hands away from mine.
This action made me want to cry, but when he wrapped the arm around my waist I was glad that I hadn't died after eating the food Zeniba gave me earlier; then I would have missed this.
He pulled me close enough that we were touching at every spot and whispered- or screamed most likely- in my ear "Hold on tight!" and I did.
I wrapped my free arm around his neck and then the other when he let go of my hand to join his one arm with his other arm around waist.
I took me a while to realize that we were gradually slowing down, but not nearly fast enough.
"Haku!" escaped my lips, and at that moment we came to a stop, mid-air.
All my hair came dangling down around my face, but I was too scared to let go of him to push it away.
"It's okay now, I won't let you go Chihiro. Never again,” he said, the last part so softly that I wondered if I had imagined it.
I pulled away in shock, staring at him, my mouth in a large O before I spoke.
"You recognize me?" I asked.
"Yes, but now's not the right time to catch up. We'll talk once I sort out what is going on up there,” he said.
We started to move upwards, very fast, and before I knew it we were standing on the railing, the group of people staring at us in sheer astonishment.
In one swift motion, we dropped onto the deck in front of the three men.
I came out of my daze and anger flooded my veins.
They had actually tried to throw that little girl over and then they forced me to get myself involved. They were going to get it, get it good.
I untangled myself from Haku and stood a few spaces away from him, shaking out my arms to get some feeling back into them.
"Now, seeing as you don't have anything more to gain, may I ask you to leave the bath house and not return,” Haku said in a voice that spelt dead calm and that he was not to be messed with.
But obviously everyone except the three men heard this in his voice since they weren't done.
Before I could do anything, the man who spoke first had me pulled up against his chest, one arm choking me.
I put my hands up to stop him from completely crushing my wind pipe
"Trying anything funny and she goes,” he said to Haku who had raised one of his hands at them, but instantly lowered it again.
"That’s better,” the man said, releasing me a little bit so that air once again flowed freely through my lungs.
The only thought in my mind was to get away.
Luckily the man holding me was so occupied with watching Haku that he didn't realize when I moved my feet, one next to the other.
I knew I only had one shot to get it right, but luckily I caught the man off guard when I lowered myself, kicking one leg to the side and tightening my grip on the man’s arm.
With all my might I bit down in the cloak, praying there was something that would feel pain.
The man cried out and let go, but I didn’t give him any time to make another move.
Using the little amount of power I had, I threw him forward, tripping him on my leg.
He gasped loudly as he hit the ground, spit once again flying everywhere.
One of his friends advanced on me, but it was futile.
I simply side stepped him to the left, put my right foot behind his left, my right hand in the centre of his chest, pushing as hard as I could.
He tried taking a step back but tripped over my right foot.
Two down, one to go.
The last man looked at his friends on the floor and decided to take his chance.
He raised his arms, hands pulled into tight fists, and stood with his legs open.
"Bring it on,” he said and that’s exactly what I did.
I ran straight at him and at the last minute dropped, sliding between his legs and once I came to the other side, I got up in a crouched position.
This all happened before the man was able to turn and I got him square in the back with my foot, sending him forward.
But he was a better fighter than his friends and was able to turn around instead a falling.
The kick had caused me to lose my stance and I was momentarily vulnerable.
My attacker saw this as his chance and lunged at me, but before he could reach me Haku had jumped into action.
He threw himself in front of the man and with the side of his hand hit the man's upper left leg. The leg gave way and with a cry the man tried to punch Haku, but Haku was faster.
He dodged the man's fist and once again hit the man just below the shoulder with the side of his hand. The arm went limp.
I was completely mesmerized by Haku's movements; he was graceful when he fought.
The man raised his other hand and aimed it at Haku's stomach and it would have hit home if Haku hadn’t disappeared for a split second and repapered behind the man.
With one final blow to the side of his neck, the man fell to the ground.
Whether he was dead or unconscious I didn't know.
"Oh dear, I was hoping to avoid violence in this situation,” I heard Zeniba say, but all my attention was on Haku.
He was standing next to the guy he had just taken down, dusting imaginary dust from his shoulder.
He was tall, very tall indeed.
His hair was still as long as it was when we first met but now it was uneven, hanging down his neck and over his eyes if he didn't push it back.
You could see that he was fit by the way he moved, almost as if he was floating.
He looked up at Zeniba and smiled.
"Sorry Zeniba, I also planned on a more peaceful approach, but it seems that things were out of my hand,” he said, looking at me when he spoke the last bit.
"Zeniba, when will you learn that using power is the only thing that will gain results?" another voice said from above.
"Trying to coax them into leaving, ha,” the voice laughed.
Then Yubaba was floating down to land next to her twin sister.
"It's nice of you to join in, Yubaba. What were you thinking, leaving everything for poor Haku to figure out,” Zeniba said once Yubaba was firmly planted on the ground next to her.
Yubaba shrugged and walked over to where Haku had dragged the three men into sitting positions against one of the walls.
"They're alive,” Haku said simply and Yubaba turned to face the crowd who had grown so silent that I had forgotten they were even there.
"I am truly sorry for this little show you all had to live through, please enjoy free baths for the rest of the evening and have a save trip home," she said and the crowd gave a cheer.
As they dispersed, Yubaba came over to me.
"So, who might you be and who gave you permission to interfere?" she asked in a tone that in the past would’ve frozen me to the bone.
But I had gotten used to standing up for myself and wasn't that afraid of her anymore. I hoped.
"It's me, Chihiro, I mean Sen, and I didn't know I needed permission to save someone’s live,” I said, my frankness taking her aback.
"I see. It's good to see you've grown some back bone Sen, the last time we met you were just a pathetic little human girl," she said, looking me up and down.
"My name is not Sen, it's Chihiro," I corrected her, but she just waved it off and continued.
"I'm guessing that now you need somewhere to stay and I'm sorry to tell you that we have no place for you if you do not work," she said.
I knew what she meant by that; she was telling me that I had to sign a contract or leave.
I was about to tell her that if that’s what it took then I'd do it, but Haku interfered.
"She can stay in my bedroom, I'll sleep with the rest of the men," he said as he walked over to us.
"She won't sign another one of your contracts Yubaba, I forbid it.”
Yubaba obviously wasn't in the mood to start another fight so she simply said that it was his problem and that he had to look after me until I had to leave.
"I will do so then," Haku said as Yubaba walked over to Zeniba, who was busy doing something with the men against the wall.
I looked like she was tying them together with a piece of rope that she must have manifested while none of us were looking.
Yubaba and Zeniba started talking, which then transformed into an argument.
From what I could hear it was about Zeniba saying she’d never look after the bath house again; even if Yubaba did promise her that some workers could keep her company from time to time.
Now it was just Haku and I.
I was about to say something when he grabbed my hand, forcefully in fact, and started dragging me down the aisle between the bathes.
All the way people thanked us for taking a stand, but Haku barely seemed to hear them.
We reached one of the elevators, but it was packed with guests.
In a single motion Haku swung me up into his arms and jumped up one level to the floor above us. He continued doing this until we reached Yubaba's floor.
Once there, he put me down again and continued his parade of pulling me behind him.
"Haku, stop! You're hurting me," I yelled at him, but he didn't stop, only loosened his grip a little bit.
We walked through the front door, through Yubaba's office and through a door on the other side of the room.
Once through the last door, there was what seemed to be a tower, with stairs circling the walls all the way to a room above us.
We reached the top of the stairs and Haku flung the door open to the room inside. With a wave of his free hand, all the lights in the room went on.
The inside of the room was amazing, even though it wasn't very big. To my left there was a four poster double bed with plush dark blue bedding. The four posts of the bed where all connected by white silk that also hung down to the floor at each post.
At the wall across the room was a desk, piled high with books and next to it was a bookcase that was over flowing- probably the reason for the desk also being covered in books.
To my right was a wall made of windows that reached from the ceiling to the floor. In the middle of this wall, a door that led outside onto the balcony.could just be made out.
Thick blue curtains were tied to the sides of the windows by leather slings; it almost made the balcony look like a stage.
I was so mesmerized by the room that I didn't even notice when Haku let go of my hand and walked over to go lean on the desk.
I walked into the room and stood by the windows, staring out into the darkness.
"What were you thinking?" Haku finally asked. He sounded angry.
"I'm sorry?" I asked, not able to understand what he was talking about.
"Those men could have hurt you, even killed you," he explained.
"They could have."
"But they didn't and I'm completely fine. I don't understand what you're getting all worked up about," I said, my voice firm.
Haku took his hand away from his face and sighed. In my experience, this was a good thing, it meant that the other person was giving in.
He stood up and walked over to come and stand beside me.
We stood like this for a while, not saying a word.
I tore my eyes away from the ocean outside and looked up at Haku before talking.
"How did you know it was me when you jumped after me?" I asked.
He waited a while before looking down at me and answering.
"I didn't. Something just told me that if you hit the water you would die, so I jumped..." he paused, "But when our eyes met I instantly knew it was you, even though my head kept telling me that it was impossible," he continued, a small smile forming at the end of his sentence.
We once again just stood there, but this time not looking out at the view.
His hand slowly lifted up and brushed stray hair away from my eyes. He hesitated a second before returning it to his side once again.
"Your hair has grown," he remarked lamely and I gave a little laugh.
His must have found my reaction funny, because before long both of us were clutching our bellies.
I slid down the glass and stretched my legs out before me, Haku following my lead even before I reached the floor.
"It's been so long hasn't it?" I asked, cocking my head to the side to get a look at his facial expression.
"You must be like nineteen or something right?" I continued when he didn't reply.
He shifted slightly and answered, "I guess you could say that’s how old I am, but our age works a little different here in the spirit world," he said and continued when he saw my puzzled expression
"Most spirits can't change their age, they are stuck in the form they arrived. These are low ranked spirits. Then you get the higher ranked spirits who can keep changing, that can keep growing and then when they get bored, they can start again," he tried to explain, but it didn't make much sense to me.
He tried again.
"Take me for instance. When we met I was a fifteen year old boy and now I look different, older. But in fact it's not my age that’s changing, I just decided that I didn't want to have the appearance of a young boy anymore so I changed it," he stated matter of factly.
I guess it made sense in a way.
"Okay, I think I understand..." I tried to say but another yawn cut me off.
"You're tired," Haku observed, but I denied it, telling him what I told Zeniba when she asked me the question, but Haku could see that I was lying.
"Are you scared that someone will try and hurt you if you go to sleep?" he asked in a kind voice.
I shook my head.
"I'm not scared if anyone, I'm scared that if I go to sleep then I'll wake up in my own bed and all of this would be a dream," I admitted as I pulled my legs up and wound my arms around them.
"This isn't a dream, Chihiro. Me, and everyone else, will still be here when you wake up and you really need to get some sleep," he said, pulling me up from the ground.
"How can you promise that? I don't think I would be able to live with pain if this wasn't real," I said as tears started to form in my eyes, but I blinked them away.
"Okay, I’ll show you something. Just go get in bed so long," he said as he went over to the desk, removing some books to reveal a chair next to it.
I climbed into the bed and pulled the covers over myself. It felt nice when I slipped in under them and pulled them up under my arms.
Haku picked the chair up and put it down next to the bed, sitting down in it.
"Give me your hand," he instructed and I did as he asked.
He took my hand and intertwined our fingers. After this he hovered his free hand over ours and a soft glow radiated around our hands.
When the light faded away Haku spoke again.
"Try pulling your hand away," he said.
I tried removing my hand from his, but it was futile, I couldn't even lift my fingers.
"What did you do?" I asked when he smiled at my attempt.
"It's a spell. Only if I let go then you can take your hand back," he said and I got what he was trying to do.
"Now lie back and sleep," he said as he laid his own head against the chair.
Without saying a word I closed my eyes and fell asleep instantly.