DISCLAIMER: As much as I wish that I came up with Ghost Hunt, I didn't, but I did come up with this storyline and all characters not mentioned in the original manga or anime. ENJOY!!!
As the van pulled up to the familiar white house, Mai's heart seemed to plant itself into her stomach, causing unwanted butterflies and uneasy feelings to bloom. Her brown eyes, tears ever present, looked at the quaint little house with sadness and joy all rolled together. She unconsciously clutched the small silver object she always carried with her in her palm as she walked forward, slow and steady, taking in everything about the place, old and new.
Not much has changed surprisingly, she thought as she stopped just before the small gate that enclosed the small, lush yard. The door to the house was a sky blue color, along with the trim around the windows, and the small picket fence was painted to matched. The flower beds under the two windows in the front contained beautiful daisies; the area around the house also had a mixture of flowers blooming. Otherwise, the house looked just as she remembered it.
The short brunette stood there, taking in the scene she thought she would never see again, except in her memories. Wiping away a stray tear, she silently turned away from the cheery sight and headed back to the black SPR van to help Lin unload equipment. She didn't even notice anyone was talking to her, too wrapped up in her own thoughts, until someone took the box she had grabbed from her arms and forcefully took her shoulders. The teen sighed and glanced up, prepared to slap her smile back on.
"Mai, are you sure about this?" Houshou Takigawa, better known affectionately as Monk to Mai and the others, was hunched down, eye level with the seemingly distraught teen, concern clearly evident in his voice as he spoke.
"Yea, sure, why wouldn't I be?" Mai's cheery voice answered as she looked at him, that usual happy smile brightly shining, despite what she was really feeling. He lifted a brow at her and frowned, his own darker brown eyes telling her he didn't buy her act. She just shrugged and pulled away, then proceeded to pick up the box he took away and head toward the house.
"Mai, I don't think you heard me well enough!" Monk called after her. She stopped, putting that smile back on as she turned, and, in her best happy voice ever, said, "You worry too much Monk! Now hurry up and help me, before you-know-who comes out here and yells at us for being slow!" She giggled to herself despite her inner sadness and turned, just in time to bump into someone. Said run-in had her flying back, box in hand, as she fell flat on her butt.
"Ouch! Why me?" she said, face pinched in pain, as she set the saved box next to her on the grass. "Why couldn't I have at least landed in the grass, instead of this dang sidewalk?"
"Because, trouble follows you everywhere Mai!" Monk replied as he laughed from behind her. She huffed and shot him her best glare from behind her shoulder as she stood to dust herself off, and straighten out her pink skirt.
"Mai, come with me please. Takigawa, you and the others can finish unloading the van and setting up base." Mai groaned to herself as she glanced at her boss, the black clad, tall, black haired and blue eyed, model-perfect teen in front of her.
"Why me Naru?" she asked, brow raised in confusion. He simply sighed and turned, expecting her to follow. And, like a good little assistant, she did, despite her wanting to just turn the other way.
"Isn't that obvious? You are the only one of us who is familiar with this place," he answered calmly. Mai cringed and sighed, tears threatening once again. However, before her boss, or anyone else for that matter, could see, she sucked in a breath and shut her eyes briefly in order to will away the pain. And as always, it worked. Her sigh didn't go unnoticed though, for Kazuya Shibuya turned to his assistant, causing her to once again run into him. This time though, she caught herself and controlled her balance again. Brown eyes met dark blue, and a death glare was sent to him.
"What the heck did you stop for? And next time you think you can warn me at least?" she growled at him. He just stared back and shook his head, ignoring her question.
"Mai, I understand that you need this job, but please, do not stay here if it is too distracting. You are of no use when your mind wanders elsewhere," he said, coldness present in his tone. Mai frowned, clenching her fists to her side, attempting to control her anger.
"Well excuse me if I have feelings, Naru! Unlike someone I know, some people find going to a childhood home after years of absence nostalgic!" she yelled, anger clearly evident, not only with her own tone, but the fact that her body was shaking too. Not to mention I haven't been here since my mom's funeral, she added to her thought quietly.
"Miss Taniyama, you used to live here?" a soft female voice asked. Mai's expression changed in that instant, from murderous anger to surprise, to her happy face as she turned, ignoring her rude boss's glare. She bowed respectfully to the older woman and smiled.
"Yes, Mrs. Arata. I lived here with my parents until middle school, and then," Mai looked at her shoes, "a-and then my mom died and I had to move away," she finished quietly. Silence ensued between the three for a few minutes, Mai still staring down, Naru leaning against the door frame, glancing at her from the corner of his eye, and the forty something year old woman staring at her in shock.
"Oh, Miss Taniyama-"
"It's Mai, please."
"Alright, Mai," the woman continued, "I'm sorry to hear that. Please, feel free to see anything you like here. My home is yours as long as you are around," the woman replied kindly. Mai looked up and smiled, but Naru noticed it didn't quite reach her eyes this time. He watched her bow again.
"I appreciate the kind gesture, ma'am, but I don't want to intrude on your home more than necessary. I will be treating this like any other case." The woman, taken aback, only nodded in response.
"That being said, would you mind taking us on a tour please, Mrs. Arata? And please include all stories of activities as we walk around. Don't leave anything out."
"Of course, Mr. Shibuya, follow me please." Naru nodded, turning to Mai and handing her a small black notebook and pen before they followed.
"So that's why I'm here? To take notes?" Mai asked. Naru shook his head.
"No, you're here because, as I said before, you are the only one here with any past connection to this place. You aren't suffering from short term memory loss now, are you?" he smirked. Mai felt her face heat up at the insult and gritted her teeth.
"No, smartass!" Mai humphed as she scurried inside toward Mrs. Arata. "Stupid narcissistic jackass!" she mumbled to herself. However, said narcissist heard the comment and raised a brow as hefollowed his hotheaded assistant.
"Resorting to uncivilized words now, Mai?"
"Only for you, Naru!" she grinned devilishly as she faced him. He just glared nonchalantly and kept walking, causing Mai to giggle.
"Naru: 3," he finished for her. She growled and huffed at him as they stopped at the back door that led outside. However, before she could counter him, another voice cut in.
"This way, Miss Taniyama and Mr. Shibuya. My wife and I will start with the backyard." A graying, older man held the door open for them to go out. Mai raised a brow in question and followed suit.
And so it begins, she thought dryly.
JADE: Hey everyone! I'm back! *dodges items being thrown at head* I apologize for not finishing my Gundam Seed fic, but I was busy with my husband coming home from overseas, and then when I went to write, I realized I forgot where I was going with it! *blushes* So, until I redo or rekindle what I started, it's on hiatus! On the plus side-
CAGALLI: What the hell, Jade? You're a traitor now?
JADE: NO! I just, um, uh…
MAI: She just needs a break and some time to collect her thoughts, right Jade?
JADE: *smiles* Yep, that's it! So please relax Cagalli, I promise I will try to get your story done soon, okay?
CAGALLI: Okay Jade, but remember, I am the head of a kingdom, which means I have an army I can sick on your ass if I don't hear from you! *glares*
JADE: O.O *heart thuds in chest*
MAI: Ummm…Okay Cagalli, that's enough now! *pushes blonde teen out of room and walks over to Jade* Jade says please review cuz she wants to know if she should continue the story! *smiles and waves while picking up Jade's arm and making her do the same*