Chapter 3: Back to the Bathhouse

Twelve years of trying. Twelve years of being let down. Twelve years of disappointment. Chihiro had become so used to being let down that she had no longer expected to find what she was looking for at the end of this tunnel. So it came to a great surprise when she saw something other than the usual empty field. Rather than being surrounded by woods, there was what looked like an abandoned amusement park, or so her father had thought.

Chihiro couldn’t believe what she was seeing. For years she had dreamed of this moment. For years she had been let down. Could she finally have made it back after all this time?

“Am I…” she whispered. “Is this… Could I be…”

For some reason, the truth wouldn’t register to her. She wanted this for so long. Now that it’s happened, she couldn’t believe it.

Finally, things began to click into place. “I’m… I’m… back…” She said quietly. An overwhelming joy suddenly filled her, as tears of joy began running down her cheeks. “I’M BACK!!!”

She couldn’t believe it. She had finally made it. She was back. She was home. It was amazing. Everything was just as she remembered it. Form this view anyway. She needed to get closer.

She began making her way in the direction she remembered the bathhouse being in. After a few steps, something unusual happened; she was ankle deep in mud. Chihiro looked behind her. The ground was wet and muddy. It had been dry a moment ago.

Chihiro sank deeper in the mud. No, it was no longer mud. It was muddy water, and getting deeper.

“The water!” she cried.

Memories of what had happened 12 years ago came back to her. When she had tried to get away before, this field had been completely submerged, blocking the only way to the spirit gate. It looked like it was happening again.

“Oh NO!!!” she cried as the water got deeper, pouring out of the mouth of the frog statue on the other side of what was soon to be a river.

She made a run for it. The water was getting deeper by the second. It was already up to her waist, then her chest, then her neck.

“Almost there! Almost there!” she panted.

But it wasn’t easy to run in water, and suddenly she was no longer running. The ground completely vanished beneath her feet.

“Great.” She muttered and began swimming.

The water continued to get deeper. Luckily, she was almost to the other side. Just a few more yards and she would be safely back on dry land.

Suddenly she felt something pass by her leg. Something rough and scaly. Chihiro gulped. What was in here with her?

There, she felt it again. And this time she saw something too. It was too dark to make out what it was underwater, but it was big, and whatever it was, was circling around her like a shark.

“Please don’t eat me. Please don’t eat me. Please don’t eat me.”

She kept repeating this phrase as she swam faster, yet more carefully. There was an explosion of water as the creature suddenly burst up from underwater. Chihiro got a good look at it, but wished she hadn’t. The creature looked like some sort of giant eel monster. And of course it had to have a mouthful of long razor sharp teeth.

Chihiro squealed and swam as fast as she possibly could. The ‘eel’ darted forward, no longer keeping up the circling shark routine.

“Please don’t eat me! Please don’t eat me! Please don’t eat me!”

Her feet hit the bottom. She began wading as fast as possible. The ‘eel’ struck and its jaws clamped down over her jacket. Without wasting a second, Chihiro gave up the jacket and scrambled up on land.

“Oh thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!” she panted, hugging the ground. She looked back at the water, giving it a dirty look. “STUPID EEL!!!”

The water exploded as the ‘eel’ launched itself out of the water. Chihiro screamed and crawled out of striking range. The ‘eel’ just barely missed clamping its jaws on her.

Once she was sure she was far enough away that the ‘eel’ couldn’t reach her, Chihiro laid down to catch her breath.

“That was close.” She mumbled. “Five minutes into the spirit world and I almost drown and get eaten.”

She took a few minutes to catch her when a bright light flashed in her face. She held up her hand to shield her eyes from the light. It was coming from one of the ships that brought the spirits.

Then Chihiro suddenly realized what she was seeing. She saw the ship, but she saw it through her hand.

“Oh no, I’m disappearing again!” she cried.

This had happened the last time she came here. Haku had provided her with a berry, telling her that unless she ate some food from this world she would disappear. It didn’t sound that hard to take care of. The only problem was that she had no food.

Chihiro jumped to her feet and began looking around. “I need some food! Something, anything!”

Her first thought was all the food stands nearby. She made a break for them, hoping she wouldn’t disappear. Suddenly she skidded to a halt as a thought hit her. She knew that she needed to eat some food from this world; the only problem was that if she did Yubaba would turn her into a pig or some other animal.

“The old bat.” Chihiro growled through clenched teeth.

She was facing quite a dilemma. She could either eat the food of the spirits and get sentenced to the pigpen, or she could fade away. Neither option sounded appealing. Where was Haku when she needed him?

Wait, Haku had been the one to give her the berry last time. She had eaten the food of the spirits then, and Yubaba didn’t turn her into a pig. But why? Was it because she didn’t take the food and it was given to her? It made sense. Her parents had behaved like pigs so that was their punishment. Maybe, hopefully, if someone gave her food it wouldn’t be considered a crime.

Chihiro looked down at herself. She was hardly visible. She had no other choice. She raced for the food stands as fast as her fading legs would take her. The spirits were already about. Most of them were shadow spirits, which only made sense since there were so many shadows in the world. Most of them looked surprised to find a human in their world, while a few just ignored her. She could hear some of them talking about her.

“What’s she doing here?”

“Is that a human?”

“Pee-ew, she stinks.”

“Get her out of here before I lose my appetite.”

If Chihiro hadn’t been in such a rush, she might have stopped to find out once and for all why humans stank so badly to spirits. But she didn’t have time. She as fading fast.

Quickly she rushed up to the nearest food stand. The spirit in charge of the stand gave her a dirty look.

“Go away, human.” It said. “Your money is no good here.”

“Please!” Chihiro begged. “I need some food or I’m going to disappear!”

The spirit gave her a curious look. “Do you have any gold?”

“Gold, um, no.”

“Then no food for you.”

Chihiro knelt down in front of the spirit. “Please, don’t let me disappear.”

The spirit glared at her. “Get lost or I’ll turn you into a cockroach.”

Chihiro didn’t wait around. She knew this spirit would be of no help to her. She quickly ran to the next closest stand, but was sent away just like last time. It was the same everywhere she went. No one would help her.

“Get lost.”

“We don’t serve humans.”

“You’ll stink up my stand.”

“I’ve got more important things to deal with.”

“This is food for the spirits, not stinky humans.”

Again and again she was refused. The spirits just didn’t seem to care about one little human. Chihiro collapsed against one of the food stands and began to weep. Why wouldn’t anyone help her? Had she really waited 12 years to come back here just to die before she even got to see Haku again?

A low grunting noise caused her to look up. A shadow spirit was sitting at the food stand looking down at her. He, at least she thought it was a he, had a dish of food in front of him. Chihiro took the opportunity to beg again.

“Excuse me, Mr. Shadow Spirit but I’m in real trouble.” She said. The spirit simply cocked its head to the side, as if it were requesting her to continue. “I’m a human, and unless I eat some food from this world I’ll disappear. I have no money to buy anything from the stands and no one will give me anything. Can I please, please, please, have just one bite of your food; even if it’s just leftovers? Please don’t let me fade away.”

The shadow spirit continued to stare at her, as if it were considering something. Chihiro began to feel hopeful, until-

“Hey, human!” A spirit, that looked like a cross between a man and a dinosaur, came out from the back of the food stand. “Stop bothering my customers! Go on, get lost before I-”

The shadow spirit held up his hand and made grunting noise. The spirit in charge of the stand gave his customer an odd look, but didn’t say anything else. Chihiro looked at the shadow spirit hopefully.

The shadow spirit grabbed a piece of, what looked like chicken, and handed it to Chihiro, who gratefully took it.

“Thank you so much.” She said, bowing to it.

The shadow spirit nodded and went back to its meal. Chihiro stared at the food in her hand a moment, not sure if her theory was correct. Did she dare eat the food of the spirits? That question was quickly solved when she noticed she could barely see her hands.

“Please don’t turn me into a pig.” She prayed, and put the food in her mouth.

It was delicious! No wonder her parents couldn’t stop eating the when they came here. But Chihiro was only concerned with one thing, and that was not disappearing. She chewed and swallowed as fast as she could, then slowly opened her eyes. Her hands were already beginning to reappear.

Chihiro sighed and sat back against the wall. Thank goodness it worked. Now the question was, would Yubaba turn her into a pig, or spare her. Only time would tell.

She wasn’t sure how long she just sat at the food stand waiting, but the shadow spirit had finished its meal and left without her noticing. And once it was gone, the owner of the food stand was quick to get rid of Chihiro.

“You still here?” it said. “Get lost! Your stink will keep away my customers!”

Chihiro jumped to her feet. She was tired of being told she smelled bad. “I do not stink!” she shouted, a little louder than she meant to.

The spirit pinched his nose. “You do so. You smell like your world; all that pollution and everything. Why don’t you go home?”

Chihiro turned away from him and crossed her arms. “I can’t. The water is blocking the path. Besides, I am home.”

The spirit groaned. “Well then, just get away from my stand.”

“FINE!!!” Chihiro shouted angrily, and stormed away fuming.

As she continued walking away she realized that she wasn’t out of the woods yet. She had to get a job or Yubaba would still turn her into some type of animal, or a lump of coal, or some other thing that Chihiro was sure she didn’t want to end up as.

‘I didn’t exactly think past getting back here.’ she thought to herself.

She made her way in the direction she knew the bathhouse was in. Yubaba would already know she was here. Whether she recognized her or not probably didn’t matter. If she didn’t realize Chihiro for who she was, she would probably be treated the way she was the first time she came here. If she did recognize her… well they hadn’t exactly been on the best of terms when they had last seen each other.

Soon the bathhouse came into view. Chihiro suddenly got a feeling of finally coming home. But would she be accepted back? Only one way to find out.

Chihiro crossed the bridge, trying, and failing, to blend in with the spirits. Last time she had crossed the bridge Haku had cast a spell that prevented her from being seen as long as she didn’t breathe. She wondered what would have happened if she had held her breath the entire time. Unfortunately, a talking frog had startled her and she took a breath.

Carefully, Chihiro made her way into the bathhouse. It was great to be back, but she was feeling slightly awkward at the moment. She looked around for Haku, Lin, or anyone familiar. Eventually she followed the other spirits until she came up to the foreman.

“Hello, welcome, enjoy yourself.” The foreman greeted every customer. “Hello, have a nice bath. Welcome, enjoy your stay. Welcome, have a… Hey, you’re a human!”

So, she was finally recognized, but only by what she was, not who she was.

Chihiro bowed to him. “Hello Mr. Foreman.” She said politely.

“What are you doing here?” the foreman demanded. “You’re not supposed to be here. Go away.”

Chihiro crossed her arms. “Don’t you remember me?” she asked.

The foreman looked surprised by her question. “Recognize you? What are you talking about? We haven’t had a human here in years.”

Chihiro smiled. It was time to let the cat out of the bag. “Let me guess, not for 12 years, right?”

The foreman nodded. “Yes, but how did you know…” he stopped talking as the truth suddenly hit him. “Wait a minute! Are you? Can you be?”

Chihiro nodded, still smiling. “I knew that would jog your memory.”

“SEN!!!” the foreman cried, jumping from behind the counting and giving her a bone-crushing hug. “Sen, it’s so good to see you again!” He let go of her just long enough to scream at the top of his lungs, “HEY EVERYONE, SEN IS BACK!!!”

Chihiro felt herself turn red with embarrassment as she heard her servant name being muttered all over the bathhouse.

“Sen?”

“Sen’s back?”

“She’s really back?”

“Look, it is her!”

“She came back!”

“Sen’s back! Sen’s back! Sen’s back!”

The next thing Chihiro knew, she was being surrounded by all the bathhouse’s servants, being swamped with greetings and questions.

“Welcome back!”

“How are you?”

“My, how you have grown!”

“You stink again, but I’m glad you’re back!”

“Did you miss us?”

“Sen’s back! Sen’s back! Sen’s back!”

Chihiro was beginning to feel awkward from all the attention. Apparently, everyone had missed her as much as she missed them. She kept a look out for Haku and Lin, but couldn’t find either of them in the crowd. What she did see was several customers looking very irritated about being ignored.

“Uh, not to be rude or anything,” she said, trying not to offend anyone, “but as great as it is to see you all again, I think the customers are getting upset.”

The foreman looked at the customers and saw that she was right. “Ok people, back to work! We can all catch up later! Come on, we’ve got customers here!”

The spirits reluctantly returned to their duties, although some lingered behind a little longer, including the foreman.

“So Sen, how have things been going?” he asked. “We’ve all really missed you here.”

Chihiro smiled. “I missed you all too. It looks like the bathhouse is doing well.”

“Yup, business is booming.” The foreman replied. “You know, after you left, Yubaba was really in a bad mood for a long time.”

Chihiro frowned. “She’s not still mad about the whole No-Face incident, is she?” If the old witch still held a grudge against her, this meeting might not be pleasant.

The foreman snorted. “She was pretty upset about the whole thing for awhile, but then she began pestering us about doing a better job. It was all ‘why can’t you work as good as Sen’, or ‘I should fire you all and get more humans’, or ‘Sen was the best worker I ever had, I can’t believe I let her go’. She just wouldn’t stop talking.”

That brightened Chihiro’s mood. “She’s been comparing you all to me?”

“Criticizing is more like it.” The foreman replied. “Hey, maybe now that you’re back she’ll give it a rest. Uh, that is, if you are back. You are, aren’t you?” He sounded really hopeful.

Chihiro nodded. “I hope to be. If Yubaba gives me a job again. I was just on my way to see her.”

The foreman looked up at something behind her. “It looks like she wants to see you too.”

Chihiro looked at what the foreman was staring at. Circling over their heads was what looked like a crow with the head of an old woman.

“Yu-bird!” Chihiro cried, happy to see her friend. The last time she had seen Yubaba’s messenger Zeniba had turned her into a little bird.

Yu-bird squawked loudly and landed on Chihiro’s shoulder. Chihiro petted her old friend.

“It’s good to see you too.” she said. “I’m guessing that Yubaba sent you to get me.” Yu-bird nodded. “Well then, best not to keep her waiting.” She turned back to the foreman. “It was good to see you again.”

“Take care, and don’t let the old bat get to you.”

Chihiro laughed. “I won’t.” She was about to leave when she suddenly remembered something important. “Oh, Mr. Foreman, may I have a pencil and paper.”

“A pencil and paper?” the foreman repeated. “Uh, sure. Here you go.”

“Thanks.”

Chihiro took the paper and wrote four simple, yet very important words.

My name is Chihiro.

She hid the paper in her pocket and turned to Yu-bird. “Ok, let’s go.”

Yu-bird led Chihiro through the bathhouse. It really wasn’t necessary since she knew the way, but she wasn’t one to complain with spending time with an old friend. It was strange though. She remembered her way through the bathhouse as if she had just been in it yesterday. Right now she was currently at the elevator she had met the Radish Spirit. She remembered Lin saying that this elevator didn’t go up any higher. Both Lin and the Radish Spirit had been so nice in helping her reach Yubaba’s office. Now that she thought about it, where had the Radish Spirit gone after he had brought her to the correct floor.

“So, you’re back.”

Chihiro looked up at the voice. It was the strange talking doorknocker that had accused her of being rude for not knocking those 12 years ago.

“Um, hello, again.” She said. It was weird talking to a doorknocker.

The doorknocker snorted. “Well, you sure shot up. At least you’re not the scrawny little brat you were 12 years ago.”

“I was not scrawny!” Chihiro objected.

“Whatever.” The doorknocker opened the door, allowing her entry. “Yubaba’s expecting you. Can you walk in on your own, or is my master going to have to pull you in again?”

Chihiro merely grunted angrily and stormed past the doorknocker. She heard the knocker mutter something inaudible before closing the door. Yu-bird had stopped flying and settled itself on Chhiro’s shoulder. Chihiro didn’t mind. Besides, she knew the way to Yubaba’s office, even after all this time.

As it turned out, Yubaba’s office hadn’t changed at all, and neither did the old witch. She looked exactly the same as she did 12 years ago. Still the same blue dress, the same hairstyle, and all the gaudy jewelry. She watched as Chihiro entered the room with a thoughtful look on her face.

“Well now,” she said, sounding amused, “this is a pleasant surprise. I must admit that I hadn’t expected to see you again.”

Chihiro stared at the witch. “I was beginning to think I wouldn’t see you here again either.”

Yubaba snickered. “Actually, what surprises me the most is that you actually came back. And after the big deal you made about wanting to leave last time, I’m curious to know what made you come back.”

Chihiro felt irritated. She could tell that Yubaba was trying to overpower her, but she wouldn’t be intimidated. She wasn’t the same scared little girl she once was. “Well this time I don’t have to worry about my parents being turned into bacon.”

Yubaba raised an eyebrow. “So, you’re saying that if your parents hadn’t been pigs you wouldn’t have left?” she asked curiously.

Chihiro didn’t have a ready answer. She hadn’t been sure back then. She was just a young girl who was worried about her parents. But now she could safely say that yes, she would have stayed.

“Back then, I’m not sure what I would have done.” She said. “But now, I can honestly say that I wish I never left.”

“Really?” said Yubaba. “May I ask why?”

Chihiro really didn’t want to get into her whole personal life with the old witch. She decided to give her a brief summary of how she had been felling these past 12 years.

“Because this place is my home.” She said. “I just didn’t realize it until after I left. I never felt like I belonged back in the human world. I never reconnected. All I’ve been wanting to do these past 12 years is to come back.”

Yubaba started laughing at Chihiro’s speech. “I see. So you decided to come back because you felt like you didn’t belong. How sad. Are you sure it didn’t have something to do with a certain river spirit, hmm?”

Chihiro tensed up. She would be lying if she didn’t say that one of the biggest reasons she came back was because of Haku. It was true that she had never felt like she belonged in the human world, but the Kohaku River spirit was the main reason why she came back.

Yubaba seemed to get the answer she was looking for from the look on Chihiro’s face. “Ah, I see my suspicions were correct.” She cackled. “I thought there was a little something going on between you and my apprentice.”

“I thought he quit being your apprentice.” Said Chihiro.

Yubaba ‘s expression suddenly began angry. “He did, thanks to you. Ever since you gave him back my name he’s been doing things his own way.”

“So he’s still working for you?”

Yubaba snorted. “Of course he’s still working for me. I may not be able to control him anymore, but he’s still my employee.” She sat back in her chair and gave Chihiro a knowing look. “And I assume you’re here to get your job back, am I right?”

Chihiro nodded. “Yes ma’am.”

Yubaba grinned. Oh how she was going to enjoy this. “And why should I give you your job back?”

Chihiro crossed her arms. “I seem to remember that after my first customer you hugged me in front of everyone saying how the bathhouse made so much money and told everyone to learn from me.” She said smugly.

Yubaba seemed shocked by what Chihiro said, as well as the tone she said it in. She immediately took on her high and mighty attitude again. “How dare you speak to me like that! Honestly, what kind of person speaks like that when they’re having a job interview?”

Chihiro shrugged. “You asked why you should give me my job back.” She replied. “And from what I heard around the bathhouse, you can’t stop talking about how good of a worker I was.”

Yubaba growled in frustration. This wasn’t exactly going as planned. “Don’t put words in my mouth!” she cried, slamming her fist on the desk. “Yes, you did do good on the river spirit, but I haven’t forgotten the incident with No-Face.”

A smile crept up Yubaba’s face. She thought she had the human on this one. Little did she know that Chihiro had been expecting this.

“I sincerely apologize for that.” She said. “I thought that No-Face was a customer and was only thinking of business for the bathhouse. Everyone else thought he was a customer too. And it was me that got him out of the bathhouse.”

“So what!” snapped Yubaba. “Do you have any idea how much damage that stupid monster caused? And all that gold that he gave us wasn’t even gold, it was dirt! He cleaned out the kitchen, got a free stay, trashed the bathhouse, and threw up all over the place, even on me!”

Chihiro couldn’t help it. She began laughing. Even Yu-bird and the 3-green-heads started laughing.

“Shut up!” shouted Yubaba. Everyone immediately stopped laughing. “And No-Face wasn’t the only problem. Did you know that I had been trying to get Zeniba’s golden seal for centuries? I finally got it and you returned it to her.”

Chihiro glared at the old witch. “First of all, the seal was not yours, so you had no right to take it.” She said angrily. “And I thought that returning the seal would help Haku. Would you rather have had him die?”

Yubaba grinded her teeth together. “No, I wouldn’t have, but returning the seal wasn’t what broke the spell, was it?” Chihiro blushed as she remembered Zeniba saying that love was the only thing that could break the spell. Yubaba didn’t appear to notice Chihiro’s embarrassment. “And then you go and give Haku back his name. I lost my apprentice because of you!”

Chihiro stamped her foot. “You shouldn’t be allowed to take people’s names anyway!” she cried. “And I notice that you’re only pointing out the things I did wrong. But even for those ‘misdeeds’, as you call them, they were all intended to be for what was best. And in case you didn’t notice, besides the incident with No-Face, everything that you’re saying I did wrong was actually your fault.”

Yubaba’s mouth dropped open at Chihiro’s accusation. “What? My fault? What are you talking about?”

Chihiro smiled smugly. “Well, if you hadn’t sent Haku to steal your sister’s seal, your son and Yu-bird wouldn’t have been turned into animals, and I wouldn’t have returned the seal to Granny, thus giving Haku his name back, although I’m glad I did.”

Yubaba looked very irritated, but also thoughtful. She obviously hadn’t thought about it from this perspective. But Chihiro wasn’t done yet.

“You know, instead of blaming me for everything, you should be thanking me for saving Haku and bringing your son and Yu-bird back safely. The only thing you really can blame me for is No-Face. But I was still new to everything back then. I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong.”

Yubaba crossed her arms. “Ok, you have a point, but how do I know you won’t make the same mistake twice? I don’t want an incident like that happening again.”

Was she giving in? Chihiro hoped so. “Well, since this time I plan on staying, I’ll have time to learn more about this world.”

Yubaba raised an eyebrow. “Oh, so you’re staying this time, are you? What if I decide not to give you you’re job back?”

Chihiro sighed. Yubaba was really pushing it. She imagined that keeping her in suspense was a bit of revenge for what happened 12 years ago.

‘That’s an awful long time to hold a grudge.’ Thought Chihiro. ‘Can’t let her get to me though. Must show no weakness.’

Yubaba watched Chihiro carefully, wondering what the girl was thinking about. “Well?” she asked.

Chihiro thought for a moment. Suddenly something Yubaba said those 12 years ago came back to her. Chihiro snickered at what she was about to tell the witch.

“Well, first of all, I’m older and more mature, therefore being a much better worker. But besides that, there’s also the fact that I’m asking you for the job. And I remember you saying something about having to give a job to anyone who asks.”

Yubaba’s mouth dropped open. Chihiro was certain she had this in the bag as she watched Yubaba trying to find some sort of comeback.

“That’s… how did… why I…” the old witch stuttered. Chihiro snickered as Yubaba tried to speak. “You can’t just… I’m trying… Grr. That stupid oath! Every single time. Give a job to anyone who…” She stopped talking and looked like she was deep in thought. Chihiro didn’t see how the witch was going to get out of this one, but the smile on Yubaba’s wrinkly face suggested that she had a way. “I believe I may have found a loophole in that oath. Yes, I do have to give a job to anyone who asks, but I already gave you a job. You just quit it. There’s nothing in the oath saying that I have to give back your job.”

Chihiro was speechless. The old hag had actually managed to get out of her oath. It was a lame excuse, but it looked like she could actually use it. Yubaba grinned at her triumphantly.

“Ha! Now how are you going to get out of that?” she asked smugly.

Chihiro began to panic. She had thought she had this in the bag, but it looked like Yubaba was the one pulling the strings again. Did she want to see her beg? Chihiro would if she had to.

“Please Yubaba, give me my job back.” She cried. “Please, I really want to stay.”

Yubaba laughed. “Not so confident now, are you? Next time you should think things through more fully before you-”

“MAMA!!!”

Yubaba was cut off by a loud cry coming from the room next to her. Chihiro knew who’s room that was, having been in it once before.

The doors burst open and the biggest baby Chihiro ever saw waddled out, looking like he just woke up.

“Mama, you’re being too noisy.” The giant baby said. “I’m trying to go nap-nap.”

Yubaba smiled up at her giant son. “Bôh, sweetie, mommy’s having a meeting.” Said Yubaba. “Just go back to sleep and-”

“Sen?” Bôh muttered sleepily, staring hard at Chihiro. His eyes suddenly widdened and he broke out into a huge grin. “SEN!!!”

The giant baby rushed across the room, shaking everything as if there were an earthquake. He grabbed Chihiro and gave her a bone-crushing hug.

“Sen! You came back! I’m so happy! I missed you so much!” he cried happily. He turned to look at Yubaba. “Look mama, Sen came back!”

Yubaba, obviously amused at Chihiro’s discomfort, smiled. “Yes, I see that, dear. Now let her go before you crush her.”

Bôh looked down at Chihiro who was turning blue from his hug. He quickly dropped her, grinning apologetically.

“Sorry Sen, I’m just so glad you’re back. Are you going to stay this time?” he asked hopefully.

Chihiro massaged her ribs, which were aching from Bôh’s hug. “I’m not sure. I would like to, but it all depends on whether you’re mom gives me my job back or not.”

Bôh turned to Yubaba. “Mama, give Sen her job back!” he demanded. “Please, mama. Please. I want Sen to stay with us forever. Please.”

Yubaba groaned. She wasn’t very good at denying her son anything he wanted. “Sweetie, that’s what we’re discussing. I’m trying to decide if it will be worth taking her back.”

Bôh looked confused. “But mama, you’ve been saying for years how you wanted Sen back and how you wished everyone was as good as her.” He said.

Chihiro gave Yubaba a look that said ‘I knew it’.

Yubaba groaned. “Oh, alright fine. Spoil all my fun.”

“Yay!” Bôh cheered happily, along with Yu-bird and the 3-green-heads.

Yubaba reached into her desk and pulled out a contract, which floated over to Chihiro.

“You know what to do.” She said. “Just sign and you’ll have your job back.”

“Ok.” Said Chihiro happily. She signed her name. “Uh, does this mean my name is Sen again, or are you giving me a new one?”

Her name floated off the paper and Yubaba snatched it out of the air. “No, Sen is fine. That’s how everyone knows you, why bother changing it?”

“Can we play now?” Bôh asked.

Yubaba shook her head. “No Bôh, Sen needs to get settled in first. You two can play later.” She turned back to Chihiro. “So, go and get yourself together. You can stay with Lin again if you want; the two of you hit it off pretty well last time.”

Chihiro bowed. “Thank you ma’am. And thank you Bôh.”

Bôh nodded. “I’ll do anything for you Sen.” He said. “Come back and play soon.”

Chihiro nodded. “I will. See you later.”

She left the room and closed the door behind her before leaning back against it, breathing a sigh of relief.

“That was close.” She muttered. “If it hadn’t been for Bôh, the old hag probably would still be teasing me.”

As the moment past, Chihiro suddenly began to be filled with an overwhelming sense of joy. She was back! And this time she was back to stay. But there seemed to be something she was forgetting. Something she was supposed to remember. Suddenly it hit her. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the note she had written earlier. The four simple words on it had so much meaning.

“Chihiro.” She whispered. “My name is Chihiro.”

Chapter 4: Reunion

Disclaimer: I don’t own Spirited Away. Just re-posting the story by moviefan-92

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3 thoughts on “Chapter 3: Back to the Bathhouse

  1. Pingback: Chapter 2: Living in the Human World | honeyscoop

  2. Pingback: Spirited Away 2: Return to the Spirit World | honeyscoop

  3. Pingback: Spirited Away Chapter 1: Return to the Spirit World | honeyscoop

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