Chapter 17 A bath, a peek, and a punch
“I am not the only one who should bathe.
You look and smell like you just walked out of a volcano” he says to her back.
Shana can’t help but smirk a little.
“There is so much you don’t know about me” she thinks while turning around.
“I am a Flame Haze” she replies as if that explains everything.
“So flamehaze don't care about the fact they smell like they just crawled out of a sewer?
Ugh..at least denizens are more civilized when it comes to personal hygiene.”
He makes a face as if he smells something awful.
“Hm! Alastor cleans my body with his fire so I don't change much nor I need much of a bath...”
Even while she says it with confidence she has trouble surpressing the reflex to casually smell her own shirt.
It doesn’t smell that bad..does it?
Meanwhile Malachite’s face lights up in pleasure.
“I suppose I can understand why he likes to do the cleaning himself instead of just allowing you to bathe..” he says as he once again looks at her body intensely from a distance.
“If you are into things like that.
Shana is stunned as she blushes ten shades of red.
Not just because of what he just said but also because of that look.. it is as if he sees right through her clothes that way..
Nobody looks at her like that!
All the guys in Yuji’s class gave Yoshida Kazumi looks like that..
Why is he still staring?!
“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! It is nothing like that!”
“Its nothing to be ashamed of” the hybrid continues grinning almost demonically.
“Some entities like it when certain..body parts are underdeveloped.”
The demonic grin changes in his well-known arrogant smile.
Lost for words all Shana can do is pin him down with her eyes with her fists clenched.
The hybrid hit a weak spot, but she would rather die then admit that!
“Oh well, this is boring if you are just going to stand there and look at me like that.
I am going to take a bath.
Civilization..I suppose it's a concept hard to grasp for midgets these days..”
Still smiling about his small victory in this battle of words he walks right past her in the direction of the city’s outskirts.
From the river district the distance to the forests and several public baths isn’t that great.
Then again, that was the only thing that made living there even moderately interesting.
“Hm!” Shana snarls as she starts to walk in the same direction, upping her pace until she passes him.
“Stop bragging! I can cut you into pieces almost the same easily as I can do that to a Torch!”
“ Didn't you try that already?
Remember how that worked out for you last time?”
Malachite shows his teeth in a provocative smile.
He really seemed to consider irritating her to be some sort of sport..
“Not yet!” Shana answers with a low threatening voice as she glares at his face, warning him not to go too far.
“You know that I can slice you in two quite easily! You are Half-Denizen after all...”
“I would probably die from your stench before your toothpick would even get the chance to tickle me!” the hybrid retaliates.
“hmpf! Whatever!” she spats.
“Idiot!” she whispers, more to herself then to him, but Malachite’s face leaves no question about the fact if he heard it or not.
“Hmpf!” he says in an almost perfect imitation of hers.
Not far from them the road splits in two, both leading outside of the city.
Without hesitation the hybrid picks the left path.
“annoying brat! “ Shana hears him mumbling.
Still irritated by their conversation she takes the right path.
For a second she looks over her shoulder to Malachite’s silhouette in the distance.
He continues to walk in the opposite direction, without looking back at all.
“He doesn't have to, my existance will usually tell him where I am’ Shana realizes.
“ Since I cannot keep track of his existance I will probably have to wait until he decides to re-surface again.”
As she continues to walk the scenery slowly changes.
Less and less houses are visible, and the road gets worse with every step.
Clearly this is a place where no humans have been around for quite some time..
As she takes a turn she notices steam in the distance..
Intrigued the red-hot-eyed-hunter walks a bit closer to see what is going on.
Suddenly she trips, and her foot hits something warm..
As she looks down she realizes it is a small warm puddle of water..
It seems like there are some hot springs nearby!
Shana still feels a bit unsure about what Malachite said a little while back.
“Do I really..smell?” she wonders.
“Alastor...do you think that hot springs are like a bathtub?”
“Mmm...hard to say. I guess so Shana.”
“ I am not doing this because he said it! I am just doing it because baths are so relaxing!” she says to herself as she walks to the source of the biggest steam clouds not that far away.
In front of her Shana sees something that appears to be an old shack.
Apparently people used to come her to enjoy these spring illegally.. but right now it is pretty deserted.
The roof has some holes, the doors should be replaced, but it still looks safe enough to enter.
Then she noticed a pile of clothes near the entrance.
Bloodied clothes with holes.. including a long leather jacket.
Her eyes widen a bit out of surprise, then narrow as she sees the road not that far behind the building.
It seems like both sides of the road eventually passed by these springs.
“Could it be that he is here too?” she wonders.
“Hard to tell from outside...we can't sence him because he is half-human...” Alastor answers.
“Oh well I don’t really care” Shana thinks as she enters the building.
There are separate bathing sections anyway!
And with that out of the way her face lights up by the thought of a good nice bath..
There are a lot of corridors and maze-like passages, way more then one would suspect when looking at the building from the outside.
But finally Shana hears the water, as she takes one final turn and steps upon a worn-out sign that reads “Baths : Women section”.
It really is a massive basin, and massive clouds of steam rise from the surface.
A large bamboo wall separates the man and woman sections, while the woman section is also divided in two parts, connected by a small gate in the middle of the basin.
Not that she cares, the first bath is fine enough!
Slowly she removes her shoes and socks, and dips a toe in the water.
“It is exactly the right temperature too!” she thinks as she resists the urge to dance around on her bare feet from pure enjoyment.
Shana looks around one more time with an expression of pure bliss on her face before she slowly starts to undress herself, longing for the hot water to wash over her skin.
Quickly she allows her skirt to slide down from her hips all the way to her ankles, stepping out of it and putting it aside with one of her feet, her thoughts being already in the hot steamy water.
Within a few seconds her coat, skirt, shirt, school uniform and panties are forming a small pile right next to her sword and shoes.
Slowly she steps into the water, wearing nothing but Alastor’s pendant on her skin.
Shana cannot help but moan softly as the water slowly flows over her skin, washing away all of her thoughts and problems.
She closes her eyes out of pure enjoyment as she floats around on her back, having the entire basin for herself.
Slowly her long black hair spreads in a wide circle around her head, floating on the water’s surface.
At that time she hears the sound of splashing water coming from the other side of the wooden palisade seperating the men and women sections. It's a weak palisade.
“I could easily make a hole in it, or simply blast the whole thing to pieces if I wanted.” Shana mumbles as she slowly floats towards a section of the bath that is less deep.
Then again, she doesn't sense a threat, and the hot water is welcome after such a harsh fight..
“Mmm...” she once again moans out of enjoyment as the water relaxed her pained muscles.
She doesn’t even feel her wounds anymore..
Probably because Alastor healed them while she splashed around, but it doesn’t matter.
It just feels so incredibly good..
The heat slowly turns her skin very slightly red, a healthy color.
In the meantime the sounds on the other side of the palisade have faded.
Whoever was in the men section seems to have left the water.
Shana yawns a bit, not really caring what happens next to her.
But she must admit that she is still a bit alarmed by the fact she saw the hybrid’s clothes near the entrance of the building.
“I wonder what he is up to” she mumbles to nobody in particular.
“..bloody maze, how many passages does this stupid thing have? Nobody humans abandoned it. Not even a place to change clothes and now I probably took the wrong turn-“
Heavily grumbling Malachite with his clothes in a bundle in his arms enters the women section, totally oblivious to that fact. Wearing a towel, he is a few steps in the water before noticing her.
Shana rises out of the water in shock and her eyes widen when she realizes the water at this section only reaches just above her knees… and what the hybrid sees..
Pretty much everything.
Malachite is lost for words and simply can’t stop staring.
At the same time his gaze is distant, as if somehow he sees more than just her.
“Definitely a wrong turn” he utters still frozen.
Shana opens and closes her mouth a few times in embarrassment, feeling her face becoming deep red.
Then out of nowhere she jumps towards him, using one hand to shield her chest.
“YOUUUUUU!” she yells while using the other to punch him in the face.
Immediately afterwards she lowers herself in one of the deeper parts of the water again, using the steam to hide her private parts from his eyes.
Just the idea of him seeing just about everything..
Even Yuji did not see anything when he fell out of the closet while she was changing all that time ago!
All of that flashes through Shana’s head as her clenched fist makes contact with Malachite’s chin.
Thanks to her flamehaze strength that blow sweeps the hybrid off his feet, making him disappear underwater momentarily. After a second or two he surfaces again, with a huge new bruise. While sitting on his butt in the water Malachite heavily shakes his head to get rid of the water dripping in his eyes from his soaked shoulder-long black hair.
His blue eyes look at her with a gaze of incomprehension.
Still blushing and highly uncomfortable Shana jumps for the edge of the basin and grabs her Yogasa, her long black coat, and puts it on, covering her nudity.
“What are you doing here?!” she screams at him, still shocked by his sudden appearance.
“I was searching for a place to see what I can salvage from my clothes.
But I probably took a wrong turn..or two..or three.
It is not like it was my intention to barge in!” the hybrid answers defensively.
“Not like there was something spectacular to see here to begin with” he mumbles.
“You were looking!” Shana spats.
“Just out of a gambling motive.
I made a bet with myself.
Something about underdeveloped versus almost non-existant.
I lost.. “
Shana raises a brow, too surprised by the sheer shamelessness of his answer to get mad.
“I placed my bet upon underdeveloped.
But I suppose I should have known better then to bet on impossibilities.”
Malachite slowly works himself on his knees as he says that.
“Hm!” she snarls as she walks out of the bath and towards her clothes.
She makes sure that her long trench-coat is covering her still nude body at all times.
With her back turned to him she quickly puts on her shirt and panties.
Then she goes back into the water and offers the hybrid a hand to stand up, using the other to keep the yogasa closed.
He looks at her hand with a sarcastic face.
A sudden feeling of apology?”
“No! You can say a moment of pity!”
Shana almost spits the words into his direction as she draws back her hand.
“Whatever! Get out now! You're in the women's section!”
“I don't really see your problem.
It's not like there is anything there worth covering.
Oh well, I am taking the shortcut this time.”
With those words Malachite points at the pallisade seperating the man and woman bathing sections close to the entrance of the hallway, blasting a big hole in it.
Shana holds her breath as her eyes burn him to the ground a hundred times over.
“You didn't actually think I was going to walk all the way back now did you?”
The half denizen grabs his soaked bundle of clothes as he says that and steps through the hall into the men section, with Shana continuing to glare at him until he gets out of sight.
“Hm!” Shana snorts as she grabs the rest of her clothes and the Nietono no Shana and walks through the hallway to search a changing room.
After a few tries she finds one, and while only a thin wall seperates it from the men bathing section, it does have a lock and a mirror.
She puts down her clothes and sword and inspects herself in the mirror.
“They are not… non-existant!” she thinks to herself.
“I should have punched him another ten times!” she then says out loud.
“Wasn't he just a Denizen to you?” Alastor asks.
“Where is the problem to strip naked in front of a simple Crimson Denizen?” her contractor wonders.
“Look I just felt uncomfortable! Also he is half human too!” she replies.
Slowly Shana puts on her skirt..socks..shoes..uniform..
She can’t help but think about the hybrid’s gaze back there for some reason.
“Yet...he was looking at me...way longer then he would have done if he really thought all of it was nonexistent! But his look was distant...could that had to do with...Nah! Nevermind! Is none of my business anyway!”
At that point Shana hears sounds coming from the man's bathing section. voices!
And he is talking to someone..or something!
But weren’t they all alone around here?
Something is not right..
“ Perhaps it's worth to make a hole in the wall to see what's going on” she considers.
“ Or I could at least listen...”