Haku flew through the tunnel and over the field that would turn into a river very soon, since it was close to night time. He landed at the river's edge, then transformed back into his human state. Walking up the many flights of stairs that led to the Aburaya, he noticed that the lanterns were slightly lit, signaling that he needed to return quickly.
"Where is that boy?" the woman in red asked. She was standing at the beginning of the bridge to the bath house, worried and a little antsy for her friend whom she considered a little brother. Just as she was about to turn around and re-enter the bath house, a voice called out to her.
Kasei turned around and smiled as she saw Haku running up towards the bridge. She met him at the start and embraced him, which he returned.
"I was getting worried." she admitted, putting a hand on his shoulder, "How did everything go with Chihiro?"
Haku immediately blushed, which was all Kasei needed for an answer. She smiled with a sort of 'he doesn't want to say it' look.
"It's okay if you don't want to say anything. I can tell from your face that it must've gone well. Maybe a little too well."
"Kasei, don't you have a job to do?" Haku asked, clearly annoyed with his sisterly figure.
"Yes, I do. It's barely a job, but a job none the less."
Kasei turned to re-enter the bath house, until Haku called to her.
She turned to look at him, confused as he stood there.
"Thanks for convincing Yubaba to let me return the bouquet to her. She was really happy to see me."
"I told you so."
With that, Kasei turned and re-entered the bath house, leaving Haku on the bridge as spirits crossed it to enter the bath house. He turned and leaned on the railing to look at the night sky, wondering if Chihiro missed him as much as he already missed her.
The next morning, Chihiro, Mika, and Akane were walking to school together, talking about normal things: school, family, friends, and even crushes. When the subject of Haku came up, Chihiro only blushed.
"Don't be embarrassed, Chihiro." Mika said, wrapping an arm around her friend's shoulder, "I'd be the same way if anyone asked me about a boy I like."
"Like Haruo in Class 5-B?" Akane asked her sister.
"Akane! I told you not to tell anyone!"
"I didn't! We can tell Chihiro, can't we? She trusts us with her love life."
"I don't mind at all." Chihiro admitted, "Mika, if you like Haruo, you should tell him."
"Have you seen him?! He's a miniature god in the making."
"She likes him." Chihiro and Akane said at the same time, looking at each other.
"So?! Don't you, Akane? Chihiro has Haku."
"I prefer Masahiro from our class. He's sweet and thinks I have a pretty smile."
"Masahiro's really nice." Chihiro confirmed, "I heard Haruo gets people to do his homework and takes people's lunches. Besides, he really likes Kira. If you ask me, they suit each other."
"If that's so, why don't you ask Kira when we get to school?" Mika asked.
"I don't like talking to Kira. She's not the person I'd want as a friend."
"She forces people to be her friends, but it's nice to have other friends to talk to. Had you not moved Chihiro, we'd probably be talking about boys and not about spirits."
"Speaking of spirits, have you seen Haku lately?" Akane asked, "That scale wasn't with you yesterday."
"Haku did visit yesterday, but it was very short." Chihiro answered, "He returned my bouquet to me."
"Really?" Mika asked as they put on their school shoes, since they had arrived at the school.
"Yeah. I'm glad I at least got to see him."
"Did you kiss him?" Akane asked.
"On his cheek, yes. He kissed mine, then, I think, he tried to kiss me in his dragon form."
"That's so sweet."
"Is that where the scale came from?" Mika asked, sitting in her chair, next to Chihiro and behind Akane, "It's really beautiful."
"Yeah. Thanks. I want to keep it with me so I can feel him near me. It's been almost two months since I'd heard anything of him. The last letter Lin wrote to me, she said that Haku had gone off, and had yet to return. That was about a month and a half ago. I was worried something happened to him. Seeing him standing there in my room, it just brought relief to my heart."
"That is so romantic." Mika said, sighing a little.
"Have you told Haku that you love him?" Akane asked.
"I'm not sure of how I love Haku, or how he loves me." Chihiro confessed, "I don't know if I love him as a brother, a friend, or more than that. Also, he might not love me the same way I do."
"Chihiro, I'm sure that Haku loves you all the same. He might love you as a sister, a friend, a lover, or maybe all of them. Either way, he loves you."
"I guess he does."
At that moment, the entire classroom went silent. Chihiro, Mika, and Akane looked and saw Kira Minamoto standing at the door. Chihiro only rolled her eyes at the ten-year-old who proclaimed herself the 'Princess of the School', only since she was rich and got everything she wanted. Thank goodness Chihiro learned how to stand up for herself in the bath house, otherwise she would be one of Kira's pawns.
"So, has Mr. Dragon showed up yet?" Kira asked, standing in front of Chihiro's desk.
"He visited yesterday." Chihiro answered, "He returned my bouquet and gave me one of his scales."
Kira looked at Chihiro's necklace, then snatched it away from her.
"Kira, give it back!" Mika said, reaching for the necklace, but failed since Kira moved it away.
"It's obviously a fake." Kira said, "The only way to tell is that the fake ones always shatter. I'll step on it and see if it's real."
"Don't!" Chihiro yelled, trying to reach for the necklace.
"Minamoto, what are you doing?" the teacher asked as he came into the classroom.
"She stole Chihiro's necklace." Mika said.
"She was going to break it." Akane added.
"A dear friend gave it to me." Chihiro explained, "I can't see him very often because he doesn't live here."
"I see." the teacher replied, then turned to Kira, "Minamoto, give Ogino her necklace back. Your father may be rich, but you can't always get away with everything."
Kira scowled, then threw Chihiro's necklace back at her, causing Chihiro to fall back in her chair and hit the desk behind her.
Mika and Akane ran to her, as did the teacher and other students. Kira looked on as Chihiro was lifted up and escorted out of the room by Mika and Akane. The teacher turned to Kira, anger in his eyes.
"Minamoto, stand out in the hall for all of next period, and I'll tell the teacher what happened. I'm going to call your parents as well as Ogino's parents. If she's hurt, you'll have to receive a week's worth of detention."
Kira stood out in the hall, a scowl on her face, knowing that she had lost a major battle.
"Mr. and Mrs. Ogino, we're so sorry to have taken you from work, but this is a serious matter." Chihiro's teacher said as he sat with Chihiro and Kira's parents.
"What happened to Chihiro?" Yuuko asked, clinging to her husband's arm.
"Minamoto threw Ogino's necklace and caused her to fall back and hit her head on another student's desk."
"That's terrible! Is Chihiro okay?"
"Yes, she's fine. She just has an ice pack on her head. The nurse said it was nothing but a bump. In fact, Ogino was laughing about the matter, saying that it was a sense of déjà vu."
"That's weird. Chihiro's never laughed about getting hurt."
"Well, she's in good spirits. Nothing happened to her necklace."
"You mean that scale that Haku gave her?" Akio asked.
"Yes. It was rather beautiful. I held onto it until she came back."
"Will Chihiro be okay?"
"The nurse said that Ogino only had a bump on her head and that nothing serious had happened."
"Minamoto has been given a week of detention. Do you object, Mr. Minamoto?"
"My daughter is spoiled by her mother. I say do it. She needs to learn a lesson every now and then."
"Very well. You all may go now. Thank you for your time."
Once school was over, Chihiro and her friends walked out of the school, talking and laughing.
"Are you okay, Chihiro?" Mika asked, rubbing Chihiro's head where she hit her head that morning.
"I'm fine." Chihiro replied, "It reminded me of when I was in the bath house. I was always hitting my head, whether it was falling out of a tub, falling through a window, or banging it on a low ceiling."
"And you weren't injured?" Akane asked.
"No. I was just fine."
"Wow. That's amazing."
Chihiro groaned as Kira walked over to them and stood next to them.
"So, did you just not care to go back or what?" she asked, crossing her arms the way any prima donna would.
"That's not true!" Chihiro immediately retorted, "I tried to go back two months ago but I couldn't, so I just decided to leave letters and offerings to them. At least Haku was sweet enough to write to me and tell me how he was doing before he decided to leave for a month and a half."
"Well, I say that you wouldn't last one day in that world even if you were alone."
"I can too! Even while Haku was gone, I managed to get by just fine. I even helped Haku by myself."
"Then stay in that park for the whole weekend and bring back proof that there is another world there. If there is, I'll stop picking on you. If not, then you'll just have to continue to endure my misery."
"I was actually going to try again this weekend. Since Haku got through, I'm sure I can get through also."
"Okay then, see you on Monday."
"Ms. Minamoto! Detention!"
Scoffing, Kira walked away, leaving Chihiro and her friends standing there, and then they started laughing at Kira's unfortunate luck.
"Good thing that Kira got detention for a week." Mika said while laughing, "She really deserved it after what she did."
"I feel a little bad." Chihiro admitted, "Although she does need a little lesson every now and then."
"I agree." Akane agreed, "Kira just might get a wake-up call, since her mother's out of town on a business trip and can't come back to defend her 'precious little baby'."
"Yeah." Mika sighed, "So, Chihiro, when will you tell your parents?"
"I'll tell them at dinner." Chihiro replied, "Hopefully they'll understand."
"Let's hope so."
With that, the three girls began the walk back to their homes as the afternoon carried on. They said goodbye to each other at Mika and Akane's house, and Chihiro headed home.
"Hey, I'm home!" Chihiro yelled inside the house as she took off her shoes.
Yuuko turned in the direction of her daughter and smiled.
"I take it you're okay, Chihiro?" she asked, resuming cooking dinner.
"I'm fine." Chihiro confirmed, "It was just a bump on the head."
"That's good. Your father should be home in half an hour. Mind chopping the leeks?"
As predicted, Akio came home half an hour later, which was the precise time dinner was done. With that the family sat down for dinner and ate peacefully
that is, until Chihiro mentioned one certain detail: her visiting the Spirit World.