This is dedicated to everyone who has reviewed and/or given me story ideas up to this point. Most especially this one is for missyangel87! I think you'll know what I used from your ideas in the end of this ;) And also, thank you felicianoludwig for reminding me that there were other characters' relationships I could focus on too! Happy reading everyone!
Houshou Takigawa stared silently at his would-be younger sister as they listened to everyone's conversations around them. She hadn't spoken since first explaining everything that had happened. Neither had he since the shock had set in. Instead he watched her as she watched Naru, who was watching everyone else.
Something more happened than she's saying, he thought, remembering everything that happened a couple of hours before…
"WHAT? Okay, we'll be there in half an hour," Monk said as he hung up with Naru. He turned to the red-head he was on a secret date with and frowned.
"So, he's calling everyone then?" she asked as she finished her last bite of food. The blonde haired bassist nodded crossly.
"I am so sick of her getting herself into trouble! It's a wonder she made it so long on her own before meeting us!" He angrily jabbed his food and stuck it in his mouth, chewing and swallowing quickly.
Ayako raised a brow. "What do you mean, Houshou? Mai wouldn't even be in this position if it wasn't for her working for SPR in the first place." She grabbed her purse, fishing for her wallet.
"I'll pay this time, Ayako," he said, tossing money on the table. She stopped what she was doing to stare dumbly at him.
"But it's my turn! What, a lady can't contribute every once in a while? The man has to provide everything while she just sits back and smiles pretty?" her brow twitched in irritation.
Monk couldn't help it and he smiled. "Well, when it's someone as gorgeous as you, I think it's only right that I step in and take care of things!" His smile grew when she blushed, mouth agape and speechless.
"Y-you think I'm gorgeous?" This only made him laugh as he got up and grabbed her hand, making her follow to stand as well. He leaned in and whispered, "of course," in her ear before dragging her out the door and to the car. All the while Ayako was left speechless and embarrassed, unsure of how to react.
When they got to the office, Masako, John, Lin, Madoka, and Yasuhara were already present. Mai was just serving tea and cookies as they sat on the vacant couch, across from Lin and Naru. It was silent, except for their whispering, which was surprising considering they were usually the most silent out of everyone. The atmosphere felt heavy to both the priestess and ex-monk.
Takigawa watched as Mai poured tea, her weary movements and puffy eyes not going unnoticed by either of them. When everyone was served, the explanation began.
"I have called you all here this late because we have a situation on our hands," Naru began. Everyone looked to him to continue, eager to know what was going on now.
"It seems that Mai kept more from us that she was willing to tell when it comes to her powers, more specifically when it comes to her link with me." At this he glanced to her. She sat still, head bent in shame, frown on her face.
"Awww, Big Boss, you can't really be mad at her for it! I mean, isn't it embarrassing enough that she has this big connection with you, her boss and object of her affection?" Yasu stated. He smiled, but it wasn't really kind so much as teasing. Everyone in the room looked shocked that he had so boldly said something of that caliber. It was so silent if a pin dropped you could hear it.
However, Mai did not say anything or do anything, which caused him, and everyone else, to frown as they looked at their friend. She hadn't moved from her spot, not even to throw something at him for pointing out her feelings so bluntly. When they all turned to Naru, they were surprised to see he was looking to his left, at the wall.
"Naru? Are, are you-" Yasu began, but Naru cut him off with a death glare as he turned back to everyone.
"As I was saying, she neglected to tell us one very important thing. Apparently although she is to be Gene's…replacement, for lack of a better word, she has yet to be at his level of power. Therefore, he has been acting as her anchor until she reached that point when she can act on her own." He clearly looked uncomfortable at the mention of this, though for what reason was anyone's guess.
"Okay, so are you telling us that Gene is still here? Cuz we kinda figured after the last case," Monk said as he bit into a cookie.
"No, I am telling you that he is no longer here, which is why I wanted you all here," Naru bit out.
"What? Where is he? Did he move on?" It was Madoka's turn to speak up. She looked worried as she waited for his answer.
"We don't know where he is," Mai whispered, looking up for the first time since this conversation started. Madoka frowned.
"What do you mean? How do you not know?" Masako asked quietly. Mai turned to her and sighed.
"I mean that I don't know, exactly what I said. I can't dream of him, and Naru can't see him in his mirror." She balled her fists as she continued. "It's like he's vanished."
"So what do we do now, Noll?" Madoka asked. Naru sighed and ran a hand through his already unruly hair.
"I'm not sure. That's why I called you here. We need to figure out how to trace him, if we even can, so that we can find him."
Takigawa sighed again, finally turning away from Mai. He didn't know what she was keeping hidden, but he did know one thing, that he would find out no matter what eventually.
"Hey Ayako, I think we should leave," he called. Everyone stopped talking to watch them.
"What? But why now?"
"I want to go visit my father's temple first thing tomorrow, see if he or any of the others have any ideas on how to handle this. Plus, there's a great library just full of old incantations and knowledge. Maybe something will pop up there."
"Wow, can I come to my love?" Yasu latched onto his arm, making him blanch.
"Uh, no, school boy." He tried peeling his hand off to no avail.
"But Houshou my love, you know how much I love books and research! I'd be so much help!"
"Oh for heaven's sake, he does have a point," Ayako said as she crossed her arms and rolled her eyes.
"Enough of this childishness," Naru cut in. "Yasu, you will go with them and aid them in research. Monk, take this," Naru tossed a tape recorder at him and a pack of extra tapes. "Record any conversations you have about this with anyone."
"Sure thing, Naru. Come on guys, let's get going. I need sleep," he said as he stuffed them into his jacket pockets. Ayako and he approached Mai, who was staring at them, looking a little more like her usual self.
"Mai, we'll be back in a couple of days, okay?" Monk rubbed her hair, making her nod and smile. He patted her head before he walked away.
"Now Mai, don't you listen to anything negative that narcissist jerk says, okay? You just concentrate on resting and relaxing. Don't you worry your head about a thing! It'll all work out." Ayako hugged her tightly before joining Yasuhara and Monk at the door.
"See ya later Mai! Try not to give into temptation!" Yasu said as he rushed out the door. Mai turned bright red and gawked after him.
"Well, I guess we should leave as well," Masako said as she stood. She bowed before leaving.
"See you all in a couple of days. Take care Mai!" John said as he joined her before they disappeared.
"Lin, I'd like to go home and sleep please. We can call the professor tomorrow and see if he or anyone at home base would know what to do." Madoka stretched before walking to Mai.
"But Madoka, they don't know that-" Mai began, panic in her voice.
"Don't worry Mai, we wouldn't dream of telling them the whole truth. We'll be sure to think of something to tell him."
Mai smiled and let go of the breath she was holding. "O-okay, great," she half smiled as she hugged the magenta-haired woman. Lin patted her head as he passed, something that shocked her, and her face showed it. Madoka smiled at the gesture, and Naru actually looked surprised. It made Lin want to chuckle, but he didn't.
"Mai, this is not your fault. We will figure it out and get him back," he stated before walking out the door. Madoka gave a final wave before also disappearing.
The office was quiet for several minutes before Mai yawned and stretched, pulling Naru out of his thoughts. He watched as the young woman he cared for began to get up. She was moving slowly, as if she lost a race.
She looks so exhausted. To be expected with everything that's been happening, he thought as he too stood. He walked over to her, and before she could do or say anything, he hugged her. She stiffened in his embrace before cautiously hugging him back.
"I know that things are tense now, and I'm not just talking about Gene's disappearance," he whispered.
"Please let me finish." When she didn't speak he took that as a cue to go on. "It would be wrong of me to act as though everything between us is fine, and that we can move into a relationship with no qualms about anything. I know that what I did in the past was not right, and I know I must make up for it." At this he moved back slightly to look down at Mai. She was staring at her feet again, so he grabbed her chin and tilted her head up. The act made her blush, and he wanted to smile at her for it.
Even when she's embarrassed, she's pretty, he thought. He felt funny thinking like that about someone, but at the same time he knew he could no longer ignore his feelings and pretend they didn't exist. He'd done it long enough, and it had caused plenty of damage to both of them. It was time to give in and let go of his reservations and fears.
Her eyes moved slowly to his, and when their gazes met, she knew she couldn't look away. She could feel their auras pushing and pulling, a warm fuzziness spreading through her as their skin made contact. Her heated face grew more unpleasant, if it was even possible for her to be any more shy. Her heart beat faster with everything he was saying, tears threatening to form and fall.
How is this even happening? Is he really that serious? I can't believe what I'm hearing! It's like I'm dreaming or something! Her thoughts continued to ramble until he spoke again.
"Mark my words, Mai Taniyama, I do not take things in life lightly. That includes relationships, which is probably why I've never bothered with one. I was always able to push girls away without a second thought, but then," he looked at her timid face and smiled genuinely, "but then I met you, and it all changed. I cannot completely answer your question from earlier, but I can say this much: there is obviously something more than friendship that I feel for you, and I have every intention of figuring out what it is I want from you. I cannot promise a great change in myself, I don't know if I can live up to normal boyfriend standards, but I can promise that I will be here, by your side, for as long as I am able to be."
And with that he kissed her, not waiting for her reaction or response. He wanted to show her, this time more passionately than he had been before, what she had become to him. Pouring his feelings into the kiss, everything he felt for her up to now, everything he'd kept locked up in his heart, he pushed forward. There was no going back after this kiss. Part of him regretted doing it for fear of losing her later, especially if he couldn't live up to her expectations, but part of him didn't care about the risks. He just wanted to show her once and for all what he meant to her.
Mai felt tingly all over as they kissed. Her heart sped up and she closed her eyes, trying desperately not to get lost in the kiss, but to remember it all. It was, after all, her first kiss, but more than that, it was their first kiss, and she'd be damned if she'd miss it getting too caught up in it!
What is this I'm feeling? She thought as the heat built up through her. She felt almost charged, like electricity was running through her. And then she felt them. First she felt his anxiety at doing this, then his self-assurance that it was right. And then she felt his love and admiration for her. The emotions she was getting through the bond were overwhelming when paired with her own confusion and joy, and she had to break away.
Maipushed him back and fell to the floor on her hands and knees, gasping for air. Tears began to run down her face as she fought for composure. Her eyes were wide as she attempted to calm her wildly beating heart and frantic breaths. She could still feel his lips on hers and another jolt of heat ran through her. The sound of glass breaking made her head snap over to the table, where the tea cups and kettle lay broken in pieces. Tea was pooled all over the table and dripping onto the floor.
"I didn't do that," Naru whispered as he slowly approached the mess, carefully picking up the broken kettle. His wide eyes stared back at hers, and she nodded slowly.
"I know, I did," she whispered just as quietly as she slowly stood. Suddenly the room was spinning and black spots formed before her eyes. She felt her legs give and the last thing she heard was Naru shout her name before the world went black…
JADE: OH MY GOD! That was so freaking hard to do and so emotional! I am so spent on the Naru/Mai situation right now! INTENSE!
GENE: Okay really, Jade, do you have to be so dramatic?
JADE: YES! Because it was an emotional chapter! It's so hard to hash these things out just right!
GENE: Yea, well whatever Jade. *crosses arms and does pouty face* I wasn't even here AGAIN!
JADE: *glomps Gene and kisses his cheek* Awww, don't worry! You come back soon!
MAI: JADE! You shouldn't lead him on like that!
JADE: *blushes* Hehe, but he's so cute! I can't help it!
MAI: *eye roll* Riiiiiigggghhhhttttt…Anyway, please review and let Jade know if she's doing better and if there's any other ideas you have! Who knows, you might just see one of your ideas here! Like missyangel87's about Mai being able to feel Naru's emotions through their connection!
JADE: Yes, thank you all for sticking with me! I can't tell you how much it means to me! Gotta go for now, but don't worry, I will be back, hopefully sooner rather than later!