Disclaimer: Ghost Hunt isn't mine.

Chapter 17: Epilogue

"Mai?" Her eyes blinked open, vision still blurry and spotted with red as though she was seeing through blood. Naru bent down before her as Ayako's hands fluttered over her prone form, cataloging injuries. The black haired teen touched her cheek gently, the feeling muffled as if she was partially underwater. "It's going to be okay."

Good…She smiled faintly, and then slipped beneath the waves.

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeep Beeeeeeeeeeeep Beeeeeeeeeeep

The incessant beeping sound began to grate upon Mai's nerves. She opened her mouth to tell someone to "Shut that freaking thing up..." And then she realized that she couldn't feel her mouth, or any other part of her body for that matter.

Beeeeeeeeep Beeeeeeep Beeeeeeeep

Mai struggled to wiggle her fingers. Nothing happened. She tried to open her eyes, but they felt as if they were glued shut.

Beeeeep Beeeeep Beeeeep Beeeeep Beeeep

She tried to speak, nothing came out. She tried to scream. Nothing. In the distance, beneath the lids of her eyes, a pinprick of light appeared. She headed towards the light, a smile on her face. Home at last........

Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep Be.......Mai? Mai? Mai!

Five Years Later...

Naru sighed and drew a hand through his hair. SPR just wasn't the same without Mai. He didn't think he would ever get over that fact. He missed her for the selfish reasons- her amazing tea, obsessive cleaning rampages, convenient visions. As much as he didn't want to admit it, he missed everything about her. Her smile. Her laugh. Her fragile self confidence. Her puppy dog look. Her bright eyes. Her infatuation with everything that moved. The office felt quite a bit darker without her around to ward off the demons. Figuratively or not.

The brooding teen stared into his coffee. Ever since Mai had left, he hadn't been able to bring himself to drink another cup of tea. It just wasn't the same.

Ever since she left, the day his world stood still, Naru could not stop thinking about Mai. Every little thing reminded him of her. The picture she had taken of the Sakura blooms years ago that hung in the lobby. The bookshelf where she had secretly hidden a video camera and then played back some rather embarrassing footage. The tea cups. The snow. Movie theaters. Everything.

Naru couldn't stop thinking about her.

The unfortunate teen shook his head to dispel thoughts of his former employee. There was no use living in the past. The future was all he had anymore. That, and a ridiculously large pile of mail.

Naru flipped through the letters Lin had left on his desk. One in particular caught his eye. Naru sighed, and cracked a grin. Ayako and Takigawa's wedding invitation. The black haired teen just hoped that they didn't kill each other before they even got the chance to marry. Masako and John had also sent him a postcard from their honeymoon in Maui. Naru still didn't understand how the two polar opposites had even become a couple in the first place. As far as he was concerned, it had just kind of....happened....Ever since Mai had left, he had not payed much attention to SPR's other members. Of course, this did not include Lin, who he unfortunately still had to put up with on a daily basis.

SPR's last case together still replayed itself in his mind every once in a while. The first time he had felt absolute terror. The first time everything between him and Mai had felt so absolutely right. Even though the had two refused to admit it, there had been something hidden deeper beneath their usual teasing. Something that made losing her all those years ago so much more painful.

Today, finally, was the day his suffering would end. Naru smiled crookedly at nothing in particular as he stood, shrugged on his black overcoat, and ventured from the office out into the nippy November breeze.

He strolled briskly down the street, ignoring various street vendors, finding comfort in the lull of conversation around him. For whatever reason, Naru enjoyed walking in a crowd. Perhaps it was feeling like he belonged to something bigger than himself. Perhaps it was the other way around, the feeling of being so small and insignificant. Either way, Naru was happiest when surrounded by strangers. Rather, surrounded by people who were not all clambering to talk with him.

Naru shoved his hands deeper into his coat as he trudged up the bridge to his salvation. Finally, after all these years, he would be home at last. He looked down into the black-blue swirl of the swelled river and smiled. He had never felt this whole since Mai had left.

I've been waiting a long time
For this moment to come
I'm destined
For anything...at all.
Downtown lights will be shining
On me like a new diamond;
Ring out under the midnight hour.
No one can touch me now
And I can't turn my back
It's too late, ready or not at all.

He smiled and leaned over the railing, staring down into the mesmerizing swells of the river below.

Well, I'm so much closer than
I have ever known...
Wake up, wake up!

Dawning of a new era,
Calling...don't let it catch you,
Falling...ready or not at all,
So close...enough to taste it,
Almost...I can embrace this,
Feeling....on the tip of my tongue.

He tilted his head up to the sun, smiling at the warmth on his face. Finally, after all these years, he was going home....

Well, I'm so much closer than
I have ever known...
Wake up, wake up!
Better thank your lucky stars....

His wait was over.

Color me stupid,
Good luck,
You're gonna need it. Where I'm going,
if I get there at all...

"Oi, Naru!" The aforementioned teen turned, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth as he gazed at the petite brunette charged towards him, hurtling herself into his arms.

"Mai." He tucked her head under his chin, and smiled as she wrapped her arms around his waist.

"College was too long, I missed you, stupid." Mai grinned cheekily.

Naru didn't answer; he instead pulled her closer to him, inhaling her familiar cinnamon scent. He was home.

I've been waiting a life time
For this moment to come
I'm destined

For anything...at all.


A/N: Thank you all for sticking with me this far, it's been a long time....I hope you enjoyed this final chapter, you finally got a bit of that romance you were waiting for ^^ I had a lot of fun writing this, thank you again for reading this far. I'm a bit sad, seeing as I've been writing for this particular story for quite a while. But all good things must come to an end, right? So, thank you, and please drop me a review and tell me how I did!

The lyrics are from Green Day's song, "Waiting." So obviously, they don't belong to me either :)

Golden List: Emina105, Azamiko, Dutchangel1979, Foxyaoi123, Shebajay, Flamegirl5500, Mitsuchan325, FallenRaindrops, Ms Bat, Krisaku, Baron Hotshaft Von Hugenstein, Fangirl666, Scoliosisr2d2, Ayjah, Kaydreams, Clairemuah, Luna-moongoddess, Angelictroublemaker, AkaneTaniyama (Although I didn't include the actual conclusion to the case in the Epilouge, you most likely can infer from the last chapter that the father, who controlled the minor spirits terrorizing the onsen, was killed. I hope that satisfies your curiosity ^^), Heavenslilagl420, LilyPika (Shoot, why didn't I think of that!? That would have been hilarious :D), Perfectgoddess, Kathryn J. Blair (Onsen are traditional Japanese bath houses- thank you for asking. Seeing as Ghost Hunt is an anime, I assumed that the majority of my readers would know basic Japanese terms...I'll make sure to stop assuming that from now on! :D)

And, extra special thanks for my beta, Corvus Corone- couldn't have done it without you! ^^