Naru sat in his chair; the silence of the office no longer as comforting as it had once been. As comforting as it had been before Mai started to work there, that is. Mai, Taniyama Mai. With her short brown hair and laughing brown eyes, she could win the heart of the world. He should know, she'd won his with ease. Sighing softly, Naru got up and walked out of his office. The desk that Mai usually sat at was empty, her filing still only half done. Shaking his head, Naru went to the kitchenette to make himself some tea. Returning to his desk, in the seclusion of his own office, he reviewed everything that had happened in the last few weeks.
Summer in Shibuya. Something anyone would enjoy missing. It was hot, humid, and crowded to the brim with tourists looking for things to take home. Naru had walked briskly down the street. Dressed in his usual black attire, the heat was terrible. But he was Naru, black was his color. When he arrived at the office, he was greeted by Mai's cheerful voice ringing out. "Hey, Naru. Welcome back! Do we have a job?" Naru didn't answer her questions, a fact that drew grumbles and muttered threats from Mai. "Mai. Tea." "Hai!!" admitted, he could have been nicer, but Mai would have thought he'd lost his mind. "Would you like it iced? It's really hot out there." Mai's question floated from the kitchenette where she was making his tea. "Just tea, Mai." This had earned even more grumbles from Mai, as she muttered about not visiting the hospital if he gave himself a case of heat exhaustion. Lin had come out, only to have Mai ask if he wanted anything to drink. "No, Thank you." Mai smiled as she came out with his tea. Handing the glass to him, she stood there with a look that asked a million questions. "So..." "I wasn't interested in it." "That takes care of that then." At first, when those words had flowed out of his lips almost every time, Mai would shoot him the glare of impending doom. Now it was as if some one had said that it was hot. She wasn't surprised in the least. The cheerful ring of the little brass bell announced that they had company. Naru could here bits of the exchange that took place from his office. A light rap on his door signaled that the person wished to consult him for his services. Ghost hunting.
"Um, My name is Keho, Fuyumi Keho. I represent the Japanese Historical Foundation. We recently acquired a piece of land near Koya-san. The land has a small house that exhibits traditional Japanese architecture marvelously. However, any attempts to photograph it, even by our best camera-men, turns up with little more than fuzzy blurs of what should be the house. Some people have endeavored to put a stop to this haunted house story by staying the night, but they all say that there were so many unexplainable things that happened while there that it had to be haunted. The house can't be opened for tours until after we have pictures of the house." The woman speaking was in her mid-thirties, with blonde hair and green eyes. Dressed in a pristine looking white business suit, it was obvious that she was not a woman to make light of things, or to exaggerate others. "I'd like to do a short preliminary investigation. From there, we can determine if we need to investigate further." "I understand. Is there any thing else that you'll be needing?" "Yes. I'll need a room to do my monitoring from." "You can chose one of three rooms in the house, not including the main room, or the kitchen area." "Thank you." "Thank you for excepting my case."
However many times he had told Mai that the office was not a country club, whenever the Irregulars were there, the main room became a café, as it would seem. Along with requests for iced coffee and tea, the buzz of chitchat filled the room. When Mai had finished getting everyone's drinks, she sat down and the chatter began to die down, so that he could talk. "So, that is the case thus far. We have a little over a month to do this, other wise; the society will have some one draw pictures of the structure for the exhibit. I know that this is not something that you really want to do, as it is hot, however, once this case is wrapped up, the society has offered to let us stay in one of the many historic hotels there, free of charge. It will be a vacation that you normally would not be able to take." "A vacation sounds really nice right now." Ayako said, sipping her iced tea. "What do you think, Mai?" "It does sound good, though I doubt I spend to much time truly relaxing. I do have a little bit of summer homework left from my evil Math teacher." "How is he evil?" John asked, cocking his head to one side slightly. "He tells us before we take each test exactly how many students passed. With A's, that is. There's usually only one or two, so he certainly doesn't make us want to try very hard." Mai just had issues with constantly slacking off in school. Not that all the travel involved in her job helped. Still, the job helped pay the bills, and being an orphan, Mai was easy to forgive. For the most part. " Office regulars will leave early tomorrow morning. I'd like the rest of you there no later than noon. Is that understood?" "Yeah."
When they arrived at the house, Masako's first reaction was to say that, though there were spirits here, they didn't want to mess with any one. However, the spirits didn't seem to like Mai. From the moment she entered the house, they began to torment her. Her things would go missing, she couldn't get to sleep, even when watching the monitors a common habit of hers that was annoying things would be throw at her, her hair was pulled, the few moments that she got sleep, she woke up with scratches and cuts on her arms. It obviously hated her. It refused to let her rest. Finally, Mai found that she could get some now much needed sleep in the garden. With a little help from Bou-san, Mai pitched a little tent out there, so she could get some sleep. With Mai sleeping outside, the spirits relentless tormenting reduced to a minimal. Apparently, it just didn't want her making herself at home. Then Mai had a small accident, nothing really happened, she tripped on a stone in the garden walk way and fell into the koi pond. It was nothing to worry about, she was only in there a few minutes, and she was quickly dried off. She was fine. Or so it seemed. Mai began having nightmares, in which she was drowning in the pond and no one came to help her. Some one was holding her down, under the water in these dreams. She didn't want to go any where near that pond. Yet any attempts to move her back into the house only angered the spirit. Mai chose to stay in the tent, with Ayako-san volunteering to stay with her.
End Flashback part1
Naru sighed again. With Mai in the hospital, the office was to quiet. How did she end up there, any way?
Splash! "MAI!!!" Ayako's scream echoed through the area. Running to the lake, it was apparent that Ayako couldn't pull Mai out of the water. Mai's thrashing form was slowing down for want of oxygen. "The spirit won't let go of Mai!!" Masako cried, confirming everyone's worst fears. With much effort, Mai's now limp form was pulled onto land. Lin ran to call for the paramedics. Finally, after under going the CPR process numerous times, Mai began to cough and sputter for air. The relief was short lived as she faded into unconscieness again. When asked what had happened, Ayako-san said that Mai had trip on the walkway and fallen in. When she began to struggle, Ayako had reached in to get her. Naru had spent this time trying to maintain his poker face, as he monitored the limp, yet living, form of Mai. Her skin was pale and felt like ice. Would she live? Would his Mai, yes his Mai, live? Would he hear her laugh, or see her smile again? Mai's pulse was steady, for the moment, but would it remain that way? The paramedics gently loaded Mai onto a stretcher and took her to the hospital, with Bou-san there to go with them.
End Flashback part 2
The others were at the hospital now. Watching Mai. He should be there to, he knew it. But he also knew that he wouldn't be able to maintain his poker face in there for more than a few minutes. His hand moved to the pen on his desk. Every one had exchanged presents in the office that Christmas. Naru and Lin hadn't taken part in the exchange. Still, Mai had gotten something for everyone. Lin had gotten a book of photos taken of Hong Kong. Thinking back, Naru remembered Mai handing him the gift of the pen now held in his hand.
Flashback to Christmas
"Here, Naru. I wasn't sure what to get you, so I figured I'd get you something that you might actually use." Mai had said, smiling, as she handed him a small box. The box was wrapped in red paper, with a green bow on the top in the corner. He had opened it to find a black pen and mechanical pencil set. "Thank you." was all he said, but Mai had smiled about it anyway.
End Christmas Flashback
Naru held the pen in his hand. Slowly, as if unsure of himself, he opened one of the drawers on his desk and pulled out a few sheets of paper. Having wrapped up the case within a few hours of Mai leaving in the ambulance, Naru didn't have to worry about that. He stared at the paper for a few moments before beginning to write.
An hour later...
Bou-san had decided to come to the office to tell Naru that Mai was awake. The crowded streets of Shibuya didn't faze him in the least. Arriving at the office, he opened the door and walked in. The door to Naru's office opened as the now eighteen-year-old head of SPR stepped out. "Yo, Naru-chan! Mai's doing okay! She woke up a little bit ago." the cheerfulness in his voice seemed to reach the young man's aura, as his mood improved. "That's good." still, he wasn't ecstatic or anything. Naru grabbed a few things, rinsed and washed his teacup, then headed out the door. "Are you going to visit her?" "Tomorrow." and the boy walked off. Bou-san shook his head. It had taken him awhile to figure out why his mood was so dark, but it was no mystery to him any more. Naru loved Mai, and while he'd never say it, unless death was emanate, her being in the hospital had him worried that he might lose her. Bou-san smiled and headed back to the hospital, whistling a Frank Sinatra song, and thinking of what Mai would do if Naru ever told her he loved her.
Naru sat on the couch in his room. Pulling out the letter he had written to Mai in the office, he read it over to himself. He wouldn't tell her. Not yet, at least. The letter was three pages long and filled with his feelings. He told her this, and asked her that. Was he just Naru? Or did those glances that she shot at him from under her bangs mean something more? He loved her. She was beautiful. Such filled the pages. Lin peaked in to make sure he was all right. Seeing the letter in his hand, he knew Naru would be more than fine. Naru contemplated what to do with the letter. Keep it, burn it, rip it to pieces? No. He'd keep it, and add to ever time he thought of something he wanted to tell her, or something he wanted to ask. She would see it some day. What she would say to it was a mystery. Still, that was in the future. Naru didn't want to think of what might happen. Naru went to bed, leaving the letter on table with his alarm clock.
At the hospital, same time...
Mai snuggled into the blankets. Bou-san gently patted her on the head, then left. As he walked out, Bou-san knew that he did the right thing by not telling Mai what he knew. She sighed gently as she drifted off to sleep. Naru's face was in her dreams, just as, unbeknownst to her, she was in his dreams.