Shibuya Paranormal Research receives a special invitation to a 'psychic summit' being hosted at the infamously haunted Poveglia island. Though crossing half the globe with his team is not ideal, Naru simply cannot pass up the chance to get into the normally locked down location. [Rated T, possibly M for gore later.]
Hi—My name is Mai Taniyama and I am seventeen years old. After a rather unfortunate incident nearly two and a half years ago, I found myself working for Shibuya Paranormal Research agency, or SPR for short. Though I would have never imagined myself working for a 'ghost hunting' firm I can say that it has ended up changing my life. I've made great friends, received incredible experiences, and even unlocked some psychic powers that I had hidden inside myself. I wouldn't give up a moment of it for the world… despite the fact that I seem to often find myself in life or death situations….
Mai sighed as she pulled her aqua, polka dotted umbrella from her bag. The weather had been miserably lately—completely dreary. She had hoped that the rain would hold out long enough to run to a nearby store for tea, but it seemed she would have no such luck. In a normal situation, she would probably have just turned back and skipped the tea. But when working for Kazuya Shibuya, there was no such thing as normal.
"And I won't even get a 'thank you,'" she muttered and tightened her jacket around herself to protect her a bit more from the wet chill in the air.
Though it was nearly lunch time, there was no one out and about in the streets. Most people had opted to stay in to avoid the sixth straight day of rain. Mai had little problem navigating her way through the neighborhood, even as she started to near one of the main streets. She stopped and pressed the walk button, though she knew the wait would be long. She swore this was one of the longest lights in the area and it frustrated her endlessly when she had to walk to go pick up a tea order.
While she waited, Mai looked around her haphazardly. Someone was approaching from the opposite side—a man with a black umbrella, looking at his watch every few seconds. The cars driving down the street slowed down near her to keep from splashing water up on her as she waited to cross. To Mai's left, there were steep steps that led up a bit of a hill to an old shrine. With so much development in the area, she was actually a bit surprised that it hadn't been torn down—it was very small and hardly maintained. In fact, she was rather sure she recalled hearing about a recent vandalism incident.
Standing at the bottom of the steep stone steps was a woman. At least, Mai assumed it was a woman based on the fitted jeans she was wearing. The figure was also wearing an oversized, bright orange hooded sweatshirt, so it was a bit hard to tell. Mai raised a brow and watched as the other woman stood completely still, getting absolutely soaked.
A beeping noise drew Mai from her thoughts as she realized that the Walk sign was flashing already. She hurried to run across the street before it changed back again, splashing water up her pant legs as she ran.
She had to walk two more blocks before she reached the little tea shop SPR ordered from. Sure, there were others that were closer and more convenient, but this one was a small, family owned shop in a little building that Mai thought had likely been built almost a hundred years earlier. The owners were a kind elderly couple, and even Naru stopped by to visit them periodically. He insisted he only did it because they had the best price on the kinds of tea he liked, but Mai knew that wasn't true. In fact, it was a bit more expensive to order through this shop since the shop didn't get the chain, wholesale discount that some others did. But Naru didn't mind. Mai thought he just liked the family enough to want to help them keep their business.
"Good morning, Mrs. Nakamura!" Mai greeted as she opened the door to the shop. She closed up her umbrella and left it outside where it could dry a little under the cover of the overhanging roof.
"Oh good morning, Mai!" The woman replied with a smile, working to stand from her cushioned chair by one of the shop windows. Mai walked over and gave the woman a light embrace, not wanting to get her too wet with her clothes. "Is it the fifteenth already?"
"It sure is, Mrs. Nakamura, this month has flown by!" Though she said it with a smile, it wasn't entirely true. Mai thought that the month had simply dragged. SPR hadn't had a case for a few weeks and the rain had made everyone a bit testy when they had to come to the office for a Naru mandated meeting.
"Let me go find Jun and see if the shipment has come in," the woman said and grabbed her cane, which had been leaning against her chair just before. Mai watched as she hobbled off towards the back of the store.
Mai didn't mind waiting. She was glad to be out of the rain and she had always loved the way this store smelled. All of the different tea leaves, spices, and incense that the Nakamura's sold made her feel like she was entering another world, one forgotten as time passed and buildings became sterile, bleached white environment. Mai could never imagine herself working in that sort of environment. She liked having a job that let her explore a different side to life.
She looked around at the shelf next to the wooden checkout counter. Usually, there were baskets of miscellaneous talismans and trinkets which sat untouched with old, outdated price tags. She occasionally bought one, just make Mrs. Nakamura feel like someone in Mai's generation was interested in such a thing. Now though, the baskets were moved to the side, squished together to make room for old paper scrolls and tags, though none had a price.
"Oh Mai, dear, I have some bad news," Mrs. Nakamura said as she returned from the back. She looked terribly distraught, and Mai thought for a moment that she was going to say something had happened to Mr. Nakamura. "It seems that the deliveries have all been held up because of the rain. Reikun street is flooded apparently, and traffic has been diverted. I hope we will have it in a few hours, but it seems your trip all the way down here was for nothing."
Mai's teeth momentarily clenched as she thought about returning to SPR empty handed. Naru would probably have told her that it was her incompetence that caused the flooding or something like that. "Oh, that's okay, it can't be helped," she replied, putting a smile of her face. "By the way, Mrs. Nakamura, where did these come from?" She nodded to the new pile on the shelf.
"Those came from the Yamado shrine, just up the street. Some young hooligans broke into it, probably thinking there was some sort of treasure inside. Instead, all they found were pieces of history. They couldn't be left there because of all of the rain—they would have been damaged. One of the neighboring shrine keepers who comes to take care of it asked if we could hold onto the pieces until the shrine could be repaired. This building was blessed by one of original priests who built Yamado shrine, you know. We may be the two oldest buildings in the area, now," Mrs. Nakamura said with a sigh. She hobbled over to one of the other shelving units holding the tea and pulled off a tin. "Here, dear. Take this back with you. I'm sure Kazuya will be grumpy if he doesn't have any tea today."
Oh yes he will be, Mai thought to herself as she accepted the tin of tea. "Thank you Mrs. Nakamura. Just switch it out with one of the tins from our order? I will probably just stop back tomorrow. Take care!"
She gave a wave and placed the tin in her bag before leaving to retrieve her umbrella. At least she would be able to make Naru something to improve his mood, and hopefully hers to.
As she started her trek back to SPR, which was at a mostly uphill incline and thus the harder walk, she thought about making stop at the little shrine, just to see how badly damaged it was. It was on the same side of the road as her now so it wouldn't be all that out of the way for her. However, as she approached, she saw that the same figure in orange was standing there, staring up the steep stone steps.
Honestly, Mai had to make sure for a moment that the woman wasn't a spirit of some sort. Crazier things had happened, after all. But no—the woman's sweatshirt was thoroughly soaked and she even appeared to be smoking a cigarette, so Mai concluded that the odd woman was definitely alive.
She thought briefly about crossing to the opposite side of the street, just to avoid having to pass by the woman. The light was already flashing though, and she knew she would have a long wait if she wanted to cross left first then cross the main avenue. She'd rather get back to the warm office faster than have to do that.
Mai sucked it up and hurried across the road and continued her quick pace as she approached the woman. She could see now that the figure in orange was, in fact, a woman—with multicolored hair sticking out from underneath her hood. Mai would have ventured a guess to say that she was a foreigner, based on what she could see from the woman's profile. The woman didn't even flicker a glance at Mai as she neared.
She gripped her bag and umbrella tightly as she started to pass by. Before she even had another moment to think, Mai gasped loudly and started to stumble forward.
Her blood was boiling and her skin felt like it was being burned off of her body. For a moment, she thought she was going to die—explode from the inside out.
And then it was gone. The wet chill in the air cut through her so sharply that it was also painful, though not quite so bad. She felt cold and clammy, and sweat beaded at her forehead. Mai turned back to glance at the woman, but again, the woman didn't even seem to notice her presence. Mai let go of her bag, letting it hang against her side, and clutched her heart. She just wanted to get back to the office—she just had to make it back to the office.
In the end, she didn't even remember crossing the streets needed to get to SPR. The next thing she knew, she was placing her hand on the handle of the office door. When she realized that she seemed to have 'lost' a few minutes of time, presumably walking the well known route out of habit, she paused and looked around her. Her umbrella was resting at the building's main door with a few others, just where it was supposed to be, so she automatically closed it up and put it down too, it seemed.
She looked over herself and found that all of her belongings were in place and she didn't seem harmed. Instead, she was just… a bit dazed. She was fine.
"I'm fine," she whispered to herself, as if repeating it aloud made it perfectly true. She had already resolved not to tell Naru. If he thought she was randomly blacking out and moving through life on autopilot, there was a chance he would keep her from going on cases. He could see her as a liability to the team.
The handle moved beneath her hand before she had a chance to push it down herself. She let go before she was accidentally pulled forward when the door opened. Naru stood on the other side, his typical (perfect) arrogant face staring down at her.
"I was starting to wonder if you had forgotten how to use a door," he said, barely raising a brow at her.
"Of course I didn't forget how to use a door," Mai replied loudly. "I was just trying to shake off some of the extra water to keep from tracking it into the office." She waved around her arms for effect, letting water droplets fly off on to his black clothes.
"So you decided to soak the stairs instead. Good. Wet stairs certainly aren't a safety hazard or anything. If you're quite done, go make some tea."
Mai scowled and walked through, pushing past Naru to get to the coat rack. She pulled of her tan jacket and hung it before picking up her bag and taking it into the kitchen. "Aren't you going to ask why I don't have a bag from Nakamura's?"
"Reikun street is flooded and it's holding up all of the traffic. Most of the areas deliveries are delayed," Naru replied and sat down, moving his computer onto his lap. He looked perfectly warm and comfortable while Mai walked around in her uncomfortably wet pants and socks. It made her scowl again.
"You already knew? Please tell me that you didn't know that when I left," she replied, setting the tea tin she had received on the counter with a loud 'smack.'
"Of course not. I turned on the news just after you left. If you had checked it yourself before you went running off, maybe you would have known too."
"And you didn't think to…. Call? Text? Anything to keep me from making a useless trip halfway across the town?" Mai asked, trying to contain her frustration. As she had started to grow older, she had started to grow tired of Naru's attitude towards her. She thought it would have been different, after he returned from England, but no. He was very much the same, perhaps even a little worse after she had confessed her feelings to him (and he rejected her, having the nerve to say she didn't actually care for him.)
He didn't bother turning around to answer her. "Don't you tell me quite frequently that you don't like when I call or text you?"
"Yeah… When you do it in the middle of the night or at six am in the morning!" Mai replied angrily and shook her head. He didn't respond after that. She took a deep breath and put her head in her hands, leaning against the counter top. Just as she thought she was starting to calm down…
"I don't hear the kettle on."
She grabbed the sleek black kettle from the stove top and slammed it into the sink, practically yanking the faucet off as she twisted it on. Tea, tea, tea, tea, tea. That's all the man ever thinks about. One of these days, I should really pour his tea on his lap.
And such were her days working at the newly reopened SPR.
Author's Notes: hehehe…. Hi guys…. Um… so yeah… I started yet another story. I just… I can't help myself, okay? I get these ideas in my head and they just won't go away! This one has been floating around for some time now, though it was an originally a one shot featuring Lin. But instead, I decided to try and elaborate and make it a longer story. We'll see how that goes. It will start out rather light, but it will take a much darker turn, kinda like how the series itself ended up being.
I have been to Venice and I did receive a great deal of information on Poveglia. In fact, I was given the info to go to Poveglia… of course, it would have been through an incredibly shady company and if I had been caught on the island, which is closed off to everyone, my husband and I would have been arrested. So… yeah. Haha.
I am set to go ghost hunting in Leap Castle in just a few weeks. I am traveling over to Ireland for a vacation and by pure chance, I was able to get in. If you don't know Leap Castle, it is considered to be one of the most haunted places in the world—most consider it to be the most haunted place in Ireland, at the very least. I am going to go with four friends and stay overnight. Five of us. Alone. In a haunted castle. If you never hear from me again, I guess you'll know what happened to me! (I have done other ghost hunting expeditions too—Hillview Manor and the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. I am a ghost hunting hobbyist, so hopefully I can help bring some realism into this story!)
I know that this fandom isn't super huge, so if you're out there, please let me know!
Ever Your Servant,