Disclaimer: I own nothing, NOTHING, pertaining to Ghost Hunt, including the characters.


Appetence


Mai sighed as she scribbled down another answer to her homework, the pencil etching against the paper the only sound in the silent office. The light from Lin's unmanned computer blared through the dark office, mingling with the sole beam of the lamp at her desk.

Thank god it's senior year…only three more months… then it will all be over…

She was rather surprised that she actually made it to Year 12. Her overtime at SPR and the following consequence of spending so much time alone with Naru, her boss, had resulted in a growing realization of how close they had become, dotted with quiet glances and tense conversations, and then perhaps what dominated all of that, her stress with living as an unaccompanied minor that paid her own bills and who expected that any day that her relatives would find out and deport her, away from her friends, and, who she had since realized deserved his own category, Naru; all of it combined to three tumultuous years in senior high school, during which she had considered dropping out multiple times.

She would only be seen as a minor for two more unbearable years. She severely envied Naru for only having less than one. One, comprised of what, nine more months? While she was stuck with nineteen.

Then she heard a thump from behind Naru's closed office door. She stood, knocking on the door softly and receiving no answer. She opened the door to see a lone university worthy book lying amid a pile of scattered papers, which were once neatly stacked in rows according to subject. Mai knew she would have to organize them later. The next thing her eyes found was Naru.

He was slumped over his desk, his head laying in his arms, resting above another thick collegiate book, his black hair messy and disheveled. She sighed and ran a hand through her hair as she looked at his peaceful face lit by the lone desk light.

"See, you're not so bad all the time, are you?" She muttered quietly, taking a small pleasure knowing that he would never remember anything she said in his unknowing sleep. She smoothed his hair over a few times in a vain attempt to comb it straight. "My narcissist." She said affectionately, pressing her lips to his forehead, stroking his cheek softly, before taking the coat from the back of his chair and draping it over him. He groaned and shifted a little; Mai was afraid he had woken up in the middle of her secret display of affection, but he settled back into sleep. She breathed a sigh of relief and backed away to the door.

As she closed the door behind her, she ran into Lin, who was holding a stack of files in one hand and tea in the other.

"Oh, Lin-san, I'm sorry!" Her eyes caught the cup. "If you wanted tea I would've made it. Do I make it wrong?" A smile flickered on his face, wiped off in a nanosecond.

"I can assure you Taniyama-san, nothing is wrong with your tea. I went out to see Madoka-san, she called and said she had a new case for us."

"Madoka-san is here?" He nodded.

"For this case she came in." A smile burst on Mai's face. She adored it when the older woman came in to help them.

"And–uh– are you glad too Lin-san?" Mai knew he had a thing for Madoka, even back when they worked together in England. His face remained calm, passive, but Mai caught a flicker in his eyes and a fleeting flash of a smile.

"Yes. Very much."

"So, are you going to tell her?"

"Tell her what?"

"You know, that you like her."His eyebrows raised. Mai thought she heard something along the lines of, "I think this transcends like…" but before she could comment, he changed the subject and Mai knew not to push her luck.

"Why are you here so late?"

"Homework." She nodded to her desk, where her papers and books lay abandoned and forgotten.

"Do you plan on staying any longer?"

"No. It's pretty late, I should be getting home."

"You shouldn't go alone. The streets can be very dangerous, especially for a young woman." He said as Mai gathered her things and dumped them unceremoniously into her backpack before pulling on a worn brown coat.

"I'll be ok Lin-san, I've done it before, and you should really get some sleep, I know you and Naru probably need it the most."

"Even so, he would never forgive me if he found out."

"Still, I don't think you should, it's cold out and what if Naru wakes up–"

"I'll take her." They both turned to see Naru in the doorway, dark shadows under his eyes, but awake nonetheless as he pulled his jacket on. Speak of the devil.

"W-what? Naru, do you even know where I live?" He gave her a narrowed look that clearly told her yes, he did.

"I know where everyone on the team lives."

"Uh… "She turned to Lin. "Lin-san, I'd like to go with you, you're less creepy."

"Well I–" The phone rang, a loud obnoxious sound throughout the quiet office. Lin strode over in three steps and picked it up. "Hai? Oh, hello Madoka…" And with that he retreated back, leaving Mai and Naru alone.

"Alright Mai, let's go. You'll just have to deal with me for five more minutes."

"Great…" She waved to Lin, who nodded from the phone as they left the office, closing the door behind them.

"Did you get enough beauty sleep?" She asked as they walked out into the cold night.

"You should know I have enough of that to last a lifetime." He smirked.

"And you wonder why we call you a narcissist."

"Did Lin tell you about the new case?"

"He mentioned it. Madoka-san is here!"

"Fantastic." He replied dryly.

"Please, try to contain your joy. I know it's hard."

"We're going to the coast, to the island of Tenkuu, off the Izu peninsula."

"Tenkuu? I've never heard of it."

"Neither had I before I got the case. It's been privately owned by a very wealthy family for three centuries, so it's not surprising that they've called someone in to investigate."

"When are we leaving?" Mai's breath steamed in the air and she pulled her coat tighter.

"Friday, as soon as your school is over." They came to a stop outside Mai's apartment. It looked looming, empty, in the dark.

"I'll walk you inside."

"Don't you think you've walked me far enough?""

"A few more steps won't kill me." Mai reached into her bag to the pocket where she kept her keys, only to find it empty, her fingers only touching lint and a torn hole.

"Uh-oh." She dug farther, reaching into other pockets. Naru watched, slightly amused, but the cold was quickly drawing it away.

"Where did you leave them last?" Mai gasped and slapped her forehead.

"On… the kitchen table."

"Do you have an extra set?"

"No… but I do have a doggie door!" She caught his confused face. "From the people who used to live here." Unthinkingly, she took his cold hand in hers and dragged him to the back, where they looked down at a pet door barely big enough for a child to fit through.

"Well… ladies first."

"Oh, you're such a gentleman." Mai replied dryly. "Hold this." She handed her bag to him and sighed, kneeling down and pushing open the door. Her skirt hiked up her legs and Naru turned away at the flash of skin, unwilling to accept the uninvited thoughts in his head, but no matter how hard he tried, the image of his hand pushing up her skirt, farther up, feeling her warm skin under his fingers, then the elastic line of her underwear, then even farther up…

"Okay, I'm in!" Mai's voice snapped him quickly out of his reverie and she unlocked the door, warm air billowing into him as he stepped into her kitchen. Mai had disappeared, leaving him alone in her kitchen. It wasn't anything impressive, but for someone paying her own bills, Mai was doing quite well. A shiny mahogany table sat in the corner, three chairs around it, and a tidy white island dominated the middle, two silver barstools pulled up to it and a matching light hanging from above. Behind it was a small countertop, stove and rice cooker as well as an old but clean fridge.

"Hey Naru," Mai reappeared, wearing flannel pajamas and an old shirt, her hair clipped up messily. "I feel stupid asking this, but do you want tea?"


Two empty cups sat on a tray in front a small gray sofa, the tv blaring unwatched behind it. Naru felt his eyes grow heavy; sleep sounded perfect right about now. He looked down at Mai, surprised to see she had beaten him, already asleep on his shoulder, curled up with her arms wrapped loosely around her knees. He switched the tv off, leaving them in the glow of a lone lamp. He sat in the silence, listening to Mai's even breathing as he willed his limbs to move, but they wouldn't listen. He shut his eyes, feeling Mai burrow further into his side. Everything felt warm; it felt right. Maybe if he stayed a few minutes more...

Soon he was fast asleep as well, his arm laying over the back of Mai's neck.