I do not own Ghost Hunt.
Chapter 3: Secrets Between Us
The next morning when I rolled out of bed in a panic because I realized I had shut my alarm off in my sleep, I grabbed my phone and flipped it open.
No new messages…no missed phone calls.
I paused in the midst of standing up, my breath frozen somewhere just above my collarbone.
I was already ten minutes late to work. Where was the snide messages? Where was Naru's phone call that would bring half-hearted insults to hide his worry?
"Naru…" I whispered.
Leaping to my feet, I skipped the shower in favor of yanking on a pair of jeans and a rather plain shirt. I was out the door in less than five minute, racing towards the subway with my phone and keys in one hand and my bag in the other.
At the office, I raced to the door and made to fling it open only to slam face first in the glass window. I dropped my bag and rubbed my face, staring at the door in confusion before I tried the door knob again.
It was locked.
I stopped and looked at my watch. It was twenty past ten and yet no one had opened up. I slowly pulled my keys off the floor and fitted it into the lock.
The office was completely closed down; both Naru's and Lin's offices were locked. I turned on the lights and set my stuff on my desk, feeling an unrest.
Following an urge, I went to the backroom which had been left slightly open. With a sense of hesitation, I slowly pushed the door the rest of the way open and gasped. All of the boxes of equipment were gone. I ran back to my desk and grabbed for the phone to call Naru when I saw a note in Naru's infuriatingly elegant handwriting.
Lin and I have taken a private case. We will be gone the rest of the week. Please attend to the messages daily and try not to injure yourself until I return.
I paused as my mind flashed back to the customer from the day before—the English man. What was going on?! Who was that man and how did he know Naru?
I leaned against the desk—the anger and confusion and hurt almost crippling—when something else caught my eye.
"Noll?" I asked the empty office.
Perhaps that's how he thought I had always spelled it; the pronunciations were very close.
But no, just last week I sent him a text message where I spelled it Naru.
I just couldn't understand. With a huff, I grabbed my stuff off of the table and stomped out the door.
The next day I spent the morning with my nose buried in prep books at the local library. It wasn't until noon that I checked my phone, my walk to meet Michiru and Keiko for lunch providing no other distraction.
Since my voice message the night before, where I had demanded he at least talk to me and explain what was going on, I had received no messages.
This whole issue had become so frustrating. Why wouldn't he just talk to me?
Infuriated I shut the phone and shoved it in my pocket, several very rude words to call Naru flitting through my mind.
Keiko and Michiru were already sitting at our usual table, Michiru absolutely bubbling with excitement.
"What's going on?" I asked as I approached the seat they had saved me. Keiko swung her legs off of the chair as I sank into it.
"I took my entrance exams this morning!" Michiru exclaimed. I raised my eyebrows and gave Keiko a flabbergasted look.
"She says that she did well," Keiko replied to my unanswered question.
"Really?" I asked, a sense of urgency settling my stomach. Michiru nodded her head, unaware of my discomfort.
"Yeah! It went so well that I wouldn't be unsurprised to see perfect marks!"
I sighed and leaned back, fiddling with my menu but suddenly not feeling hungry at all. Keiko shot Michiru a reprimanding look.
"Oh come on Mai," Keiko soothed, "I know you're nervous but you're going to do great. You're constantly studying and you also have that really cute tutor helping you out."
I ignored her reassurances to look up in shock. "You think Yasu's cute?"
Keiko blushed as Michiru giggled.
"She's been talking about him non-stop for like a week," Michiru said as Keiko protested with a "I have not!"
"Not like you would have noticed. You've got mister swoon-tastic," Michiru stated, placing the back of her hand to her forehead dramatically. I rolled my eyes.
She wouldn't find him so swoon-tastic if she knew about his most recent stunt. I could feel the bitterness seep through me as they continued to giggle about Yasu and Naru wistfully, only breaking off when the waiter came.
I ordered water.
Keiko and Michiru did nothing to distract me from the issue at hand, and my mind wondered back onto the knot that had formed in the pit of my stomach.
Michiru had applied to a school in Kyoto and she planned on becoming a teacher. She had been the first to fill out her application, and though I knew the school she applied to started earlier and so processed everything earlier, the realization that everyone else had probably already at least filled out the application made me a little sickened.
The application—it was due in two weeks and I hadn't even had a decent start at the essay. Part of me had begun to wonder if it was even worth trying. Maybe I would be better off just turning to work full time. It wasn't like Naru require a college education to work with him; he probably would find the idea of me applying to school laughable.
I took a contemptuous drink of my water, snorting out a fake laugh at a joke I had not heard as Michiru and Keiko erupted into giggles.
They stopped short with a slight gasp and stared over my shoulder. It was enough to make me pause and turn around.
In all his dark glory, Naru was striding towards the restaurant. Bitterly, I noticed how attractive he was as he walked towards us, his eyes locking with mine. I turned back around, face burning as Keiko and Michiru tried their hardest to hide how enamored they were.
I could feel his energy coming closer, the hairs standing up on the back of my neck as my body seemed to buzz with tension.
I finally felt his had come to rest gently on my shoulder and I resisted the urge to shrug him off.
"Hi Kazuya," cooed Michiru and Keiko gave him a shy smile. He nodded his head towards them.
"Do you two mind if I borrow Mai for a moment," he asked in his most charming of voices. I felt a sudden urge groan in exasperation. Stupid charming little twit—I should knock that stupid, fake smile right off of his face.
Michiru and Keiko stood up, startling me out of my plans on how to somehow make Naru's face just a little less perfect.
"Of course not!" Michiru exclaimed, "We already ate, but Mai hasn't yet. We'll leave you two alone."
She practically drug Keiko away after they laid their money on the table for their lunches. I stared after them in disbelief.
"Traitors," I spat quietly. Naru raised his eyebrows as he sank into one of their vacated seats.
Before he could say anything, a waiter strode up.
"What can I get ya?" he asked. Naru rattled off an order and then the two of them looked at me expectantly. I ignored them and Naru sighed exasperatedly and ordered my favorite soba for me. I glowered at the street, refusing to look at him.
Let him be exasperated, what did I care?
We sat in silence for a bit after the waiter left. I could feel Naru's eyes boring into my face, but I still refused to look at him. I'd rather seethe in anger than speak to him right now.
He sighed after a moment. "Mai?"
I didn't respond, I didn't move. An unshakeable force of emotions had washed over. Anger tinged by fear and sadness was nearly choking me.
"Mai," he said again. No response. He reached across the table for my hand and I pulled it out of his reach and into my lap.
Just then the waiter brought our food. He sat it on the table and took one look at the pair of us before retreating back into the restaurant
"I understand that you're angry," he said haltingly. I turned my glare onto him, fully intending to spit an oath that would have made even Yasu choke in shock. Instead I froze.
He was staring at me, every inch of his face smooth, but his eyes—they were pleading. He once again reached out. With nothing to grab he laid his hand palm up on the table. With his other hand he began to eat.
I stared at his palm where it sat empty. He was giving me the option.
Finally I looked at him, resigned to at least hear him out. He seemed to sense the change in my demeanor and he laid his chopsticks on the table. Shocking to me as it was, he seemed to steady himself with a deep breath.
"Mai, there is a lot about myself that I haven't told you," he began, pausing to glance up at me before returning his eyes to his plate. He toyed with his napkin, his other hand still open on the table. "I know that it's not fair of me to ask you to understand."
"Who was…" I trailed off my question as he lifted his hand, his hair hiding his expression. He lowered it back to the table, palm up again.
"Just listen," he whispered as his eyes caught mine. "I will tell you everything when I can, but I right now I am not capable of it. I am asking you to understand."
I looked away, not quite able to handle it. This was sooo not like Naru, and I felt like the weight of his secrets that were pressing on me from behind those indigo irises was too much.
"Are you able to understand this?" he asked again, his tone even and blank. I bit my lip.
"I-I don't know," I admitted. I still couldn't bring myself to put my hand in his. I didn't want to feel his emotions right now, not when my own were too confusing.
"The case," he started, causing me to look up in shock at the sudden change in topic. "Richard just moved into a house on the outside of Tokyo with his three daughters, ages 5, 9, and 14. They claim that they are being tormented by spirits."
I blinked, confused as to why he was telling me this.
"No one else has experienced any of this phenomena. Ms. Hara…"
"Masako's investigating with you?" I asked, unable to keep the tinge of betrayal from my tone. Naru nodded, watching me with a guarded expression.
"Her ability to sense and communicate with spirits was essential, but she could not find any."
Once again, I blinked. "So what? Case closed?"
"Mai," Naru sighed in exasperation. "The field of parapsychology does not stop at just confirming the existence or non-existence of ghosts. It's about helping those that believe they are experiencing psychic phenomena."
"I know that but….Masako said—"
"Ms. Hara's abilities are not all powerful. She does miss things," he said forcefully. I felt my nostrils flare and Naru worked to moderate his tone. He looked pointedly at my food.
"You should eat."
I rolled my eyes but began to pick at my food none-the-less. Naru quietly watched me and he looked as if he was debating on how to phrase his next sentence.
"Richard's wife died 4 months ago," Naru stated quietly. I paused and looked at him, food hanging from my mouth. He waited for me to chew and swallow.
"It is possible that the tragedy of losing their mother has caused them to believe, in some way, that they are being haunted. However I cannot make this claim until I know for a fact that there is no paranormal activity."
"Because telling them it's all in their heads would really upset them," I murmured. He nodded.
I took another bite, chewing it pensively. I could still remember what that loss felt like when it was fresh. It was breathtaking—like an unbelievable weight on your chest that never completely goes away.
"I thought, out of all of us, you would know best what they're going through," he stated gently. Because you're the only one that has loss your mom, I finished for him in my head.
I sighed. "So what—you want me to tell them that there are no ghosts?" I asked, the grimness of doing such a thing reflected in my tone.
"No," he said easily and I looked at him. "If you come and tell me there are no ghosts, then I will arrange for them to enter the appropriate therapy."
"Why me?" I asked quietly reaching for my glass to take a drink of my water. My mouth felt very dry.
He looked at me very seriously and said, "Because you are the only one of us that has never been wrong."
I choked, slamming the glass into the table and grabbing at my throat. When I had recovered I stared at Naru in disbelief, but everything he could say was written plainly on his face.
I was the only one in the world that he had complete faith in—on this at least.
"Your intuition has never been wrong," he stated. His confidence in me was so jarring that, for a moment all I could do was stare at my plate.
"I'll understand if you don't want to come on this case," Naru said dryly, his guard back in place. We were silent for a moment. I found myself staring at his hand.
The waiter came back before I could say anything and before I knew it, Naru had paid for our lunch and was standing to leave.
The hand that had lain on the table was now extended to help me up. I took it numbly and let Naru lead me off of the patio. He didn't let go and I didn't try to make him.
I found that I was starting to get used to the sensation of his emotions whenever we touched. Now they were gentle, almost like he was subconsciously giving me space to think through everything. I glanced up at him and found him watching me from the corner of his eye. I looked back at my feet quickly. His thumb gently rubbed a circle into my hand.
Before I knew it we were outside of my apartment building. Naru paused, staring up the window that was mine. I wondered if he had ever done that before.
"Okay, I'll come," I said, turning to face him and taking his hand into both of mine, "on one condition."
He looked down at me curiously, his hair blowing in the breeze. I swallowed the butterflies in my throat. Why was he always so darn attractive!
"Okay?" he said.
"After this case—after we're through with it—I'll have questions."
He looked at me as I stared at our hands intertwined between us. He had tensed infinitesimally and I bit my lip.
"Promise me that you'll answer them—all of them—honestly." I refused to look at him.
I could feel the apprehension within him, mixed with guilt and dread. I couldn't see that reflected in his eyes. Seeing that might cause me to break my resolve to get answers.
His body turned towards me. With his free hand he lifted my chin up as he bent and pressed his lips to mine. He lingered there, lips on mine, and I felt an almost peace settle between us. He brushed my hair back from my ear and muttered, "I promise."