Dedicated to all the fanfictioner's who have inspired me with their incredible tales of love, loss, and ghost hunting:
ArchangelBBQ, AmyNChan, Coriana, blacklashesxoxo, Malindorie, Melody Bellerose, miss koneko, sometime north of reality, heliotrip, tiffo the chicken flea, Agwen, FrenchCirce and to all the ones I haven't found yet.
This one's for you.
Ghosts Don't Exist
Section I: Are There Really Lots Of Evil Spirits?
The late afternoon sun lit the room, just starting its descent below the surrounding treetops. Classes had ended for the day and the classroom was all but empty, save for a small group of whispering girls taking turns sneaking nervous glances at a certain black haired boy.
He promptly ignored them, leaning his chin in his palm and gazing idly out the window. It was a clear sky; the sun unhindered as it streaked across his desk, warming him. He took in the yellowing grass, the leaves dancing across the sidewalks in the gentle breeze, though he didn't care much for the scenery. It was the sight of the last wave of students making their way to the school's gate three stories below that made his lips turn downward in envy.
He would have left hours ago ー skived off his afternoon classes completely if he hadn't been convinced Yamada sensei would make good on his threat of detention if he didn't show for cleaning duties again. Kazuya let his eyes drift over the school grounds, sweeping unseeingly over a grossly misplaced white van as he wondered, not for the first time that day, what Gene was doing.
His cheerful twin brother was in London, probably chatting up a girl and enjoying one of Luella Davises lush dinners.
"Umm," A soft, girlish hum caught his attention. He managed to pull his gaze away from the window long enough to glare at the dark haired girl that had dared to approach him. She blushed, visibly flustered under his gaze as she fiddled with a small blue penlight. He vaguely recognized her as one of the girls from his homeroom but he hadn't bothered to remember her name. "K-Kazuya-kunー"
"Don't call me that."
She jumped in surprise, ducking her head in a quick, apologetic bow, "S-sorry, Shibuya-senpai."
He gave a curt, approving nod, turning back to the window.
"Uh," she continued. He felt her stare glued to the back of his head, "Keiko and I and some others were going to the A/V room to tell ghost stories. W-we were wondering if, um, you w-would you like to join us?"
Why would he want to waste his time sharing ridiculously exaggerated stories about so-called "ghostly encounters"? He didn't particularly believe in ghosts. Sure, his brother was a medium and he could attest to the existence of spirits, but ghosts? That was just a word other people used to scare each other. But he didn't say any of that aloud.
Instead, he said simply, "I don't believe in ghosts."
He could see her smile falter in the reflection of the window.
"Sorry for your trouble."
"That's okay!" The smile was back. He fought off an eye roll. Teenaged girls were so easy to please. "Maybe sometime in the future?" She asked hopefully.
"I doubt it."
She giggled as if he'd told a joke then turned to regroup with the rest of her friends at the door. Still giggling, she waved, "Bye, senpai!"
She blushed then disappeared, red-faced, into the hall.
Finally alone, Kazuya closed his eyes and let out a deep sigh. He was really late now; he could practically feel the week's detention already.
"Is that true?"
Kazuya jumped, spinning in his seat.
A short, teenage girl was leaning casually against the door frame, arms crossed over her chest and a blush tinging her cheeks. She looked almost as surprised as he did.
How long had she been there? "Sorry?"
A small, amused grin was tugging at her lips. "You really don't believe in ghosts?"
Ghosts? Had she been eavesdropping on him this whole time?
He frowned, watching her tuck a lock of short brown hair back behind her ear. There was something vaguely familiar about the curve of her jaw, the light brown of her eyes that made him feel like he'd seen her before. But she wasn't a student. She was sporting a white dress shirt and short black tie, but it was a far cry from the school's preferred light green uniform. Even the skirt was black.
Maybe she was a transfer student then? Perhaps he'd seen her during last semesters introduction ceremony.
"No," he said firmly, avoiding her gaze as he stood and slipped his books into his bag, "I don't. Is that a problem?"
She hmph'd, pressing a finger to her bottom lip. "Not at all. It's kind of... ideal actually."
"'Ideal'?" He turned, dumbfounded, "what are you going on about?"
She didn't answer but seemed to be turning something over in her brain. He could practically see the gears turning. After a minute of silence, he readjusted his bag, "If you wouldn't mind moving, I'm already late for something."
She gave a half laugh, "Yeah, I'd say you are."
He was nearly ready to push her out of the way, "Who are you?"
"You mean you don't know?"
"Know what exactly?"
She took a step back into the hall as if to appraise him. "You are Shibuya Kazuya, right?"
As tempting as it was to say, 'no, I'm Yuujin Shibuya,' Kazuya folded his arms across his chest and glared instead, "Who told you that?"
She tilted her head slowly to one side. Her confusion was obvious. "I'mー"
"Taniyama-san!" Someone shouted from the end of the hall. Kazuya stood up straighter. He didn't have to turn to know it was the Yamada sensei and that he was definitely late for cleaning duty.
"Yamada senseiー" Kazuya quickly bowed his head in apology but the older man ignored him, as he appeared behind the girl with a wide grin.
"I was wondering where you'd gone off too. Ah! I see you've already met Shibuya-kun. Good, good."
Kazuya glanced between his teacher and the new girl.
Taniyama-san. That name, like her face, sounded very familiar. He was absolutely sure he had heard it somewhere before but he just couldn't remember where. Kazuya stared suspiciously at the short girl smiling cheekily at him as she propped herself up against the window sill. Surely she hadn't been one of Gene's ex-girlfriends.
Taniyama-san bowed quite ungracefully as she almost collided with the wooden archway on her way down. "Taniyama Mai," she said confidently, catching herself, "very pleased to meet you Shibuya-kun."
Nope, definitely not an ex-girlfriend.
Yamada sensei nodded approvingly, "She was hired by the principal to investigate the old school house."
"Hired?" He was starting to feel like a parrot, "to investigate?"
"Investigate what?" He asked, indignant. Honestly, he didn't care what the investigation was for, but he was curious why they were telling him all this. And more importantly, why Yamada sensei was happy to see him. After skipping class and cleaning duties on more than a few occasions, the two hadn't had a very courteous relationship.
Taniyama-san met his gaze, "Your principal has hired me to exorcise the spirits rumored to have cursed the old school house."
He stared back at her, speechless. Sure, he'd heard the rumors about the old school house. Rumors of mysterious apparitions appearing in the old broken windows of the schoolhouse, of murders, and disembodied voices. Everyone in the school had heard them, but he never expected the principal, a reasonable, rational man, would stoop so low as to acknowledge them. And he certainly wouldn't hire a so-called 'ghost hunter'.
Kazuya suddenly turned on his heel and started down the hallway. If they wanted to joke around he didn't have to waste his time.
"Shibuya-kun! Don't be so rude."
He paused at the end of the hall if only to spare himself the lingering threat of detention.
Yamada sensei frowned at his student. "You will not be performing cleaning duties today. You will escort Taniyama-san to the old school house and act as an onsite assistant, instead."
He couldn't help himself. "You've got to be kidding me."
"It's alright, Yamada sensei." Taniyama-san bowed respectfully, clearly uncomfortable with the situation. "I already have all the help I needー"
"Most certainly not. Shibuya-kun will assist you in any way you need. Right, Kazuya?"
He wasn't sure if the use of his first name and drop in honorifics were meant to be a warning but he boldly folded his arms over his chest. "I'd rather clean chalkboards."
"You can set that down over here, Shibuya-kun."
"San." Kazuya huffed, out of breath as he lugged the heavy machinery into the back of the silver van. "Shibuya-san."
He glared at her, was still fuming from the hour long lecture about manners and 'time management' that ended with a threat of suspension. He almost took his teacher up on his offer before reason returned to him. And that's how he found himself lifting piles of heavy equipment in this grueling heat as Taniyama-san sat in the back of the big van jotting down notes and labeling cassettes.
"You really shouldn't refer to yourself that way, you know." She chastised, not looking up as she scribbled something out on a sheet of paper. "It's egotistical."
"It's proper." He snapped, wiping the sweat beading on his forehead as he set down a heavy recorder. "Why are these things so heavy?"
Mai peered at the item with a dismissive look, "it's only 5 kilograms. Maybe you're just weak."
"Maybe they're just heavy."
"I could do it for you," she said offhandedly, gesturing to him with a wave, "if you really can't liftー"
"I've got it." He trudged back to the side of the old school house, wrapped the wires tightly around the sound box and microphones and lugged them back to the van, grimacing.
As he placed it neatly in line with the rest of the microphones, a thought struck him.
"How did you know where to find me?"
He turned to question her properly, frowning. "Classes have been out for almost an hour now. There was no guarantee I would have still been in the classroom. Did Yamada sensei tell you?"
"No, he didn't tell me." She pushed a finger to her lip looking thoughtful, "I had a feeling, I guess." She shrugged.
He raised an eyebrow. "A 'feeling'?"
"They told me someone named Shibuya Kazuya would be escorting me on the grounds but you weren't here when I arrived. So I went to look for you."
His eyebrows disappeared beneath his bangs. There were over a hundred classrooms in that one building alone, the odds of finding him were slim at best. Especially after having no idea who you're searching for. "Wait," he said, irritated over something other than forced labor, "they told you that without telling me first?"
"I guess so."
He grumbled, muttering something dirty under his breath, picking up another heavy camera. "Where did you get all this equipment anyway?" He asked. There were at least 20 cameras, each looking slightly different from the one beside it. Beneath them were monitors, rolls of different colored wires, and what looked like a computer tower. The van was so tightly packed with equipment, he couldn't tell where the trunk ended and the cabin began.
"The company owns them." Taniyama-san offered, idly wrapping up a pile of miscellaneous wires.
What kind of company could afford equipment like this? It all looked new, or else in excellent condition. He couldn't imagine how much it all must have cost. All in the name of 'ghost hunting'. "What company...?"
Taniyama-san smiled innocently. "Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot they didn't tell you. I work for BSPR, the British Society for Psychical Research."