While Chihiro and Haku spent their morning at Zeniba's house, discussing what exactly was to be done about their rather unusual situation, another unannounced visitor had arrived at the bathhouse in search of a room. When the two finally decided to return, both knowing they each had their own work to do, they walked slowly along the path leading back to the bathhouse rather than flying back. They knew flying would be quicker but as they walked, almost aimlessly, with their fingers entwined they knew that getting back quickly wasn't what either of them wanted.
When, at last, they did arrive back the day was half way over and everyone was frantic looking for Haku since he had just vanished this morning. Chihiro was amazed at the amount of problems that needed to be put to Haku before anything else, and she began to feel bad for taking him away from his work so often since she had gotten there. With this new guilt she began to slink away, but as Haku noticed this he grabbed her hand and pulled her closer.
"Everyone, Iwould like to clear away all the rumors about who this woman is. Some of you may think she looks familiar and you would be entirely correct. She was here many years ago, but she was just a child then, and she was called Sen." At the gasps of those who hadn't recognized her and the smug looks of those who had and then the confused looks of those who had never heard of her, Haku continued his speech. "She might have been called Sen back then but her name is Chihiro. She may be working in the position she previously occupied but you are not to pile work on her just because you don't want to do it. If I hear about her being treated badly there will be consequences. Now everyone, back to work."
As she heard all the things he had said about her and the way he had singled her out, she could feel the resentment from some of the workers, which only made her feel worse. "Haku, why did you do that?"
"Because I told you yesterday that I was going to introduce you so that the people wouldn't bother you so much."
"Yes, but you didn't have to make them worry about treating me badly, I can deal with the work given to me. I just have to get used to it again."
"But I don't want you to have to get used to working like that again."
Chihiro could feel the embarrassment he felt at admitting why he had said all those things. "It's okay. I just don't want all the other workers to be mad because of our relationship. And thank you for everything, but I really think you should go take care of all the things that need your input and I'll go back to cleaning the baths." With that she shyly looked around to make sure they weren't being watched, then swiftly gave him a kiss on the cheek before dashing off to find Lin.
Haku smiled as he watched after her as she sped away then turned to go to his office. As he turned he noticed a strange shadow moving across a doorway. With all the strange things that had been happening lately, he went to investigate, but as he reached the doorway there was nobody there so he put it off to his overactive imagination.
The moment he sat down to his desk there was an urgent rap at the door. As he signaled for the person to enter another of the workers entered. A frog leading a person as before but this time it was a tall willowy woman cloaked in white with graceful, white wings tucked neatly behind her shoulders. And again as he looked at this woman he had the feeling that he had met her before, but had no idea who she was. But considering what Chihiro had revealed to him that afternoon he stored the feeling away to examine more closely later.
Before the frog had achance to introduce her or tell her purpose for being there the woman stepped forward and said "Hello, my name is Ayame. I need to rent a room here for arather lengthy stay if you have one available."
"Yes, of course, I have only one room available so I hope it will suit you. If you will follow me I'll show you the way" He felt much more comfortable putting this woman near Chihiro that their other guest. In fact, he almost felt relieved that she would be staying near Chihiro.
As they reached the door he stepped aside "Will this room be okay?"
"Yes, this room is splendid. Who, may I ask, is staying in the room next to me?"
"A personal friend of mine, and a worker here, her name is Chihiro. I'm sure she will be very happy to meet you." As he saw Ayame's caring smile he smiled quickly back then turned and returned to his office.
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