"I love you."
The words weren't a suprise, not really. Not even the fact that they were spoken out of nowhere in the middle of the airplane's false night. Mai knew Naru was awake, and he knew the same of her. The tension had been building since they'd first sat down, ignoring the hope and despair threatening to choke them.
Still, Naru couldn't help but blink, wide-eyed, at the girl staring out into the clouds. They needed to talk, obviously, but he'd not expected those words to be the opening statement. Not that he could think of any better, which was why he'd been silent on the subject. The young man knew himself to be a less than steller speaker when emotions were involved.
Case in point: "I know." Probably not the anwer most girls would like when confessing their love.
Mai, though, smiled warmly. She knew how he was with emotions and emotional confessions. His acknowledgement-instead of refudation or outright rejection-was all the answer she needed at the moment. However...
"I do, I love you. But I'm barely eighteen, and you're not much older." Carefully, she watched his face in the window's reflection.
This time, Naru's "I know" was much heavier, a weight that had been holding him back like an anchor for the last few weeks. He glanced around, all of the lights in the surrounding seats were off, implying that they were the last two awake in their section. Not the optimal place for a private conversation, but not the worst, either.
"We have a bit over a month before I have to be back in Japan for my classes to start. You're going to be staying in England, so it's not like we can visit one weekends. I can't even afford a ticket once a year, since I'll need to work during my school breaks, too." Mai's voice was soft, calm and steady.
Naru swallowed, watched the girl he loved from the corner of his eye, trusted that she'd try not to hurt him.
"My parents might want you to come again over another break. They would pay for it-or rather, the institution would. Later on, when they've done all the tests, they'd probably hire you on as an assisstant, if you wanted."
Mai nodded her acknowledgement of the possibility. It would mean that she'd get to spend a couple of months per year working with Naru.
"Naru." She stopped him before he could continue, put her hand on the armrest between them, face up with her fingers spread.
Still not looking directly at the dark-haired man, she smiled at his face in the glass's reflection. "I'll wait for you if you'll wait for me."
Closing his eyes in relief, Naru smiled-the same smile he shared with his twin, the smile that had first drawn Mai to him. Without looking, he intertwined his fingers with hers. "It will be difficult. Long distance romances..."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I've heard. Are you saying you can't do it?" Mai knew he wasn't, but it was a habit to challenge him.
"Of course not, idiot. Have you seen me fail at anything?" His smile turned smug, knowing how much that annoyed the younger psychic.
"Besides your failure to be humble, you mean? Or your failure at talking about emotions? Or-"
"I love you, too, idiot."
Mai finally turned to meet his gaze head-on. Her lips quirked into her own version of his smug smile.
EPILOGUE-5 YEARS LATER:
Keiichi Kurokawa glanced around nervously as he entered the quiet office. The room was decently sized, with a comfortable seating area for interviews and a desk that was currently empty. On either side of the desk were closed doors that presumably led to private offices, and there was one more cracked open on the perpendicular wall through which he could see a small kitchen.
The woman he'd spoken to on the phone had said that the members of 'the team' were currently in the country and had invited him to come for an interview. Now here he was, and it looked like the team-whoever that meant-was out. If it weren't for the SPR on the door, he'd have thought that he'd come to the wrong office. It didn't look anything like he'd expected a ghost hunter's office to look. After a moment, he dedided to sit on the couch, if he was going to be forced to wait, at least he wouldn't be uncomfortable.
*BANG* The door through which he'd entered slammed open, admitting a laughing group of men and women. Keiichi blinked, noting absently how young most of the group was. One of the women noticed him right away, and, detaching herself from the group, walked over to greet him.
"Kurokawa-san, I'm sorry no one was here to greet you!" The young woman smiled cheerfully. "I wonder where Naru went?"
*BANG* One of the office doors slammed open, but instead of a cheerful group, the man in the doorway looked like he could be death himself. Pale skin, stark, handsome looks, and black hair and clothing; though he looked fairly young, the glare on his face froze Keiichi on the spot.
"This is NOT a club, people. Why are you being so loud?"
Keiichi almost held her back when the friendly girl who'd been in the midst of greeting him hurried over to the dark-haired man's side.
"Did you take a nap, Naru? We brought you back a sandwich, and I'm going to put on some tea right now. Why don't you go splash some water on your face? Or go back to your nap. I'm going to start the client's interview in just a few minutes, okay?"
"Gosh, I hope his mood doesn't last the rest of the month, Mai-chan." One of the group, a tall man with long, light-colored hair commented dryly. He draped himself over the back of one of the armchairs, suspiciously close to the red-haired woman sitting in it.
"Now, Takigawa-san, it's not Naru's fault the cold makes him grumpy." Another man, this one a Westerner with blond hair, answered.
The dark-haired man and friendly woman-who, evidentally, were two of the supernatural investigators-ignored the conversation as she gently tugged him back into his office.
Keiichi blinked, baffled, as one of the women-this one dressed in a kimono-laughed into her sleeve.
"As if Mai would allow him to let his cold ruin their wedding. She's being so nice now so that she can be as pushy as she wants to be when they're going over last-minute details this month."
The others-a smirking Chinese man in his thirties and another young man with glasses-nodded sagely, as if it were to be expected that the young, friendly girl could stand up to the rather intimidating man.
A moment later, the two rejoined the group, notebooks in hand, and sat on the loveseat across from Keiichi. The man looked slightly less frightening next to the softness of the woman. He even almost smiled when she asked one of the men-the one with glasses-to prepare the tea.
"Now, how can SPR help you?"