Disclaimer: This is a fanwork, for fun, not profit. I do not own Ghost Hunt; and claim no rights thereunto. Don't sic lawyers on me. Please.
"Lin, what kind of place do you think Mai would like to go on a date?"
If he had been another kind of man, Lin Koujo's jaw would have dropped. At the very least, he would have blinked rapidly. But because he prided himself on being stoic and unflappable (he needed to be, in his capacity as Noll Davis's keeper), he simply paused in the doorway of his boss's office and wondered whether he was still asleep, or if his job had taken its predictable toll, and he had finally lost his mind.
Faced with his assistant's stunned silence, Naru (aka Shibuya Kazuya, Dr. Oliver Davis, Noll Davis, Narumi Kazu, and several other assorted pseudonyms) snorted and wheeled back to his computer.
"Forget I asked."
After a long moment of wondering if this was actually a topic he wanted to pursue, Lin gave in to his curiosity. It wasn't everyday, after all, that the aloof Naru deigned to ask questions related to anything other than supernatural business. To the best of his knowledge, it had never happened before. And what a question!
"Is that an academic inquiry, or are you planning on taking her out?"
"I'm planning on asking her out." Naru turned and shot him a glare that dared him to make anything of it.
This time, Lin did blink. "Why, all of a sudden?" he asked.
Naru heaved a sigh, his shoulders hunching very slightly. "Because, after the last case, that Takori boy asked her out."
"She turned him down, didn't she?"
"Yes, but she might not turn the next one down."
"And…?" inquired Lin with raised brows.
"And, I don't want her dating anyone else. Her short attention span makes it difficult enough for her to focus on our cases as it is. She doesn't need anymore distraction."
Lin still felt rather adrift. Naru was usually relentlessly logical, but this argument had a peculiar, Lewis Carroll quality—it sort of sounded as though it ought to make sense, but it really didn't. Not given the personalities involved. It was too much to take early on a Monday morning.
"And this translates to you asking her out how, precisely?"
Naru sighed again, and continued in his best condescending, lecturing-to-idiots tone. "Because I can't interfere in her personal life as her employer. But if I'm dating her myself, I have a perfect right to run off anyone else."
"It would bother you that much?"
Naru frowned, his chin propped on one hand, the fingers of the other hand beating a rapid tattoo on the desktop. Lin was a bit surprised; Naru never fidgeted unless he was thinking very deeply about something.
"Yes, I think so."
This conversation was going nowhere, but Lin was too curious to give up that easily. He tried another tact. "I didn't think you were interested in dating."
"I can think of nothing that interests me less," said Naru with a sigh.
"I'm not interested in going on dates. Wasting time in restaurants, stilted conversation, awkward pauses, unspoken expectations. The demand to be romantic. It's pointless, and silly, and a poor way to spend time with anyone that you actually like. Companionship shouldn't be artificially staged and coerced."
"But weren't you dating Hara-san?"
"Those weren't dates; those were blackmail. They don't count." The phrase 'And someday I am going to make her regret them dearly' hung unspoken on the air. Lin decided he wasn't going anywhere near that one. He gave it one more stab; if they didn't clear this up, it would be lingering all day.
"So…," he prompted.
"There's a British adage I'm sure you are familiar with. 'Fish or cut bait.' Even I realize it's unreasonable to be a dog-in-the-manger. If I'm not willing to go out with Mai myself, I have to step aside and let her take advantage of other invitations. I can't do that, so I have to ask her out, whether or not it suits me."
Now that was Naru logic, thought Lin. Cool, precise, technically correct, and yet utterly arrogant and self-centered.
"Do you know why I hired Mai?" asked Naru suddenly.
Lin shook his head. "No. I always wondered."
"She likes ghost stories," said Naru with a faint smile. "The very first time I met her, she and her friends were telling ghost stories. For the others, it was just a game. But Mai…she was really interested. I could have gone into any kind of psychic research. Laboratory research of ESP and PK would have made the most sense, really. Given…what I am. But it was the supernatural that really interested me. Human psychics—that's just evolution at work. Hauntings, though. They are puzzles. So many things to consider, so many pieces, so many explanations. Each one is a mystery. You never know when you may encounter something entirely new. Mai appreciates that."
Naru paused, and stretched a little. "It was a whim, really. You were injured, and I didn't feel like setting up all the equipment myself. You should have seen her glare," said Naru reminiscently. "Like a cat, all indignant and hissing, but feeling guilty as anything. Teasing her was irresistible. And I had a feeling…nothing solid, really. Little things. She saw through me, from the outset. Her little friends saw a good-looking guy, and didn't think about anything else—but Mai knew there was something off. It could have just been good observation—but then she pulled the name 'Naru' out of the air. Maybe just a coincidence, but…I wondered."
"I'm still not sure what the hell her psychic abilities are, you know," he continued. "'Clairvoyance'—it's an utterly imprecise term, but it's about all I've got. She pulls knowledge out of nowhere. She has prophetic dreams. She can travel out of body. Sometimes she sees and senses spirits, sometimes she doesn't. And it's starting to look like she may be a decent exorcist. It isn't psychometry, it isn't telepathy, it isn't even entirely empathy. It's the damnedest talent I've ever encountered—I can't figure out how she does what she does, knows what she knows. Every time I think I've got an explanation, she pulls another rabbit out of her hat. She defies traditional categorization. And I don't think we've seen her limits yet."
"Are you interested in Mai as a girlfriend, an assistant, or a research subject?" asked Lin dryly.
"They aren't mutually exclusive," replied Naru unapologetically. "Wouldn't you think that a relationship that serves multiple purposes would be more likely to endure? It's only logical—as a consumer, you select the option that suits most of your needs. The more functions it serves, the more it justifies itself. That's the way you would choose a cell phone, a car, even a piece of furniture—why not a girlfriend?"
Lin wasn't great at personal relationships himself—a loner by nature, he avoided human contact when it was at all feasible—but even he was staggered by that degree of calculation.
"I would avoid phrasing your interest in those terms to Mai," he remarked, still more dryly. "It is not particularly endearing."
Naru snorted. "Thank you, I already knew that. Logic never was Mai's strong suit. It would be amusing to see her reaction, but strategically, it would be self-defeating."
He turned back to his desk, examined an entry in one of his ubiquitous black notebooks, and riffled through a manila file. "If you don't have anything useful to suggest, then let me get back to work. I have some ideas, and some leads to follow up, but they need a bit more work."
Involuntarily, Lin's eyes went wide. "You mean that file is on Mai? You started a file for that?"
"Yes, of course. I want to succeed, don't I? So I'm approaching it in an organized manner. It shows that I'm taking it seriously," replied Naru. One might almost, if one didn't know Naru, think his tone was a trifle defensive.
"And if you do succeed? What on earth would you do with a girlfriend?" Lin was still reeling, unable to process the concepts of Naru and girlfriend together in any sort of meaningful way.
Naru regarded his assistant with a certain gleam in his eye that reminded Lin that, introverted genius or not, he was still a seventeen year old male. "Oh, I'll think of something."
Lin made a strangled noise, and bolted out the door, saving himself the necessity of replying. He needed tea, immediately. Very strong tea. Or something stronger. Like vodka. Or strychnine.
Naru regarded the now-empty doorway quizzically, and then shrugged and returned to his contemplation of his neat files. Some days, he just didn't understand people, even relatively sane people, like Lin.