Well, this is the moment that you all have been waiting for! It's been fun writing this, hearing so much feedback from all of you, and I can honestly say that, without you all, my lovely, wonderful, readers and reviewers...I would never have made it this far. So, thank you. All of you. You guys can't possibly know what this means to me... And I'm sad, so, so, sad, that this story has reached its end, but, every good thing must come to an end at some point. Once again, thank you all, you've been the best readers and reviewers that I could have hoped for! Thank you for sticking with me through all this time!
And now, I present to you, the FINAL chapter, the epilogue, to My Soul to Take...
Just like that, the case was closed—Akemi was admitted to the hospital due to external bruising and other internal damages caused by Lin's Shiki and the Jinsei no Haru resort was cleansed of all the remaining spirits that had been gathered by Koizumi's spiritual energy. SPR and I even witnessed the reunion of Aoi, who was revealed to be the pregnant mistress from my dream, much to my shock, and her lover, Noaki—though he was but a fleeting, ghostly form that lasted for a mere minute.
When his transparent hands grabbed the aged and wrinkled woman and he had pulled her in for a hug, I almost cried—even after death, even after more than fifty years, even when she was old and withered, he still loved her. It was the definition of a sappy romance that I oh, so enjoyed.
As for Naru and I…well…things went back to normal, much to my displeasure. I had given Naru back my wedding ring and watched as he shredded the fake marriage license through the paper shredder in his office. Afterwards, the two of us had resumed our usual boss-employee relationship, and somehow, it was less satisfying than it had been in the past. I felt…empty. Spying on his conversations didn't help; staring at him for hours didn't help. Obviously I was in love, and stupid Cupid had made it a point in my life to remind me that love hurt, but it was like I was waiting, no, expecting something to happen.
I sighed, banging my head on my desk.
"I don't mind if you damage your head, just make sure not to damage my desk," Naru called from inside his office.
"Stupid, narcissistic, egoistical, workaholic idiot of a scientist," I muttered, turning my head on the mahogany wood to glare at his door that had been propped slightly open—which was weird since I hadn't been the one to leave it open and Naru certainly wouldn't have done it himself.
"I heard that," he muttered back.
I stuck my tongue out.
"What did I say about that tongue of yours?"
Startled, I sat up abruptly with wide eyes. "How did you—"
"Because I know you better than you think."
Grumpily, I slouched back down into my chair with crossed arms and a scowl. Knows me better than I think, eh? I huffed, blowing my bangs out of my eyes. Right. Way to copy me, jerk. If he knew me, then he would clearly know that I'm in love with him and not Gene. Stupid scientist.
I glowered at his door, sneering, before continuing to myself. And he would also know that it feels awkward to go back to our previous relationship after all we went through…we even kissed! At the thought, my face flushed and I had to work to keep my frown on my face. Though, I paused, I suppose he doesn't remember it considering he was drunk…
"Mai," Naru repeated a bit more forcefully.
I snorted, stirred out of my thoughts again. If he wanted tea, again, for, like, the umpteenth time that day, he would have to go get it himself. I was so done with this—and by 'this' I meant his attitude—seriously, it was getting on my nerves. After noticing my purposeful ignorance, my boss stormed out of his office, tight-lipped and obviously less than pleased with me.
"Mai," he said for the third time.
"Look," I pointed to the kitchen, "if you want more tea, there's a whole kettle full sitting on the stove just for you. I've refilled your cup at least eight times in the last two hours, give me a break."
His lips that were thinly pressed together formed a frown and his brows crinkled. "Something's bothering you. You're not usually this snappy."
My only reply was a sarcastic roll of my eyes. Now I wonder what gave you that idea?
Naru stared at me stoically, unmoving, unspeaking, just silently standing and staring in an almost contemplative manner. I stared back, arching a single eyebrow of mine with pursed lips.
Finally, he blandly asked, "Why?"
I blinked. Naru actually cared to know why I was upset? Suspiciously, I narrowed my eyes at him and gave him a once over. "Why do you care?"
"It's not polite to answer a question with another question," he supplied, cleverly avoiding the subject.
"Who said I was polite?" I quipped back a bit ruffled.
Naru bore a look of irritation. "I never said you were, I was pointing out your obviously barbaric behavior."
"Barbaric?" I seethed, more than a bit 'ruffled' now. "Well sorry for being such a Neanderthal." My frown deepened and I sighed agitatedly. "Naru, if you just came over to insult me, then please cut me some slack just this once, I'm not in the mood."
"I doubt anyone's ever in the mood to be insulted."
I gave a frustrated growl, shooting to my feet, my desk the only thing between Naru and I. "Very funny, but I seriously don't need this right now. Can't you just leave well enough alone?" Giving him an accusatory glare, I crossed my arms again and discreetly stood on the balls of my feet, trying to lessen the gap between our two heights and make me seem more intimidating than I actually was.
"Do I need a reason to leave you alone?" he asked.
"It's not polite to answer a question with another question," I quoted while imitating his voice—albeit poorly. "And to answer your rude question, yes, you do need a reason when you're bothering me."
Naru paused, almost seeming to be contemplating something—turning it over and over again in his brain, deciding whether or not to say it. "I'm…" He broke off, piquing my immediate interest. And then his lips twisted, a muscle in his jaw twitching, almost as if his next word were a nasty curse, "…Worried."
Insert stunned silence here.
It took me a moment to process the words that had come out of his mouth. Had he…he had! Naru had said he was worried about me. "You're worried about me?" I asked, my anger dissipated for the time being.
"You're amount of completed work has degraded, your tea has progressively lost it's taste and you look like you haven't slept in a week."
Oh. So that was what he meant. Jerk. Through my teeth, I said, "I apologize for being unsatisfactory." If looks could kill, mine would have forced a person to keel over at least twice.
"Rather than apologizing," Naru started with a scolding tone, "I suggest you get to work on fixing your mistakes. Starting with the tea, it was too bland last time."
It was then that I finally snapped—all sanity flew out the proverbial window. "Look, I'm sorry for not being perfect, I'm sorry that I mess up, I'm sorry that it happens so frequently, but I'm not like you, Naru. I most certainly can't do everything perfectly." I walked around my desk and stood practically toe-to-toe with my boss, glower fiercer and anger more prominent than they had ever been. Putting my hands on my hips, I continued, "But if there's one thing that I can do, it's trust people—unlike you." I reached up and poked him harshly. "And at least I know to leave well enough alone and at least I'm not convinced that my assistant is infatuated with my dead brother." I poked him again, driving the nail through with both verbal and physical prodding.
Naru said nothing. He stared down at me like he had been doing since I had started, but he looked…shocked almost. Absolutely shocked that I had finally flipped the lid and exploded. "You don't have an assistant, or a dead brother," he pointed out rather plainly.
"Don't," I snarled even angrier than before, "try to change the subject."
Again with the shocked look—though, if anyone were to look at him, they would say that he was absolutely emotionless, but I knew him down to a tee; the miniscule grinding of his teeth and the ever so slightly widened eyes were a dead giveaway.
"You don't have to accept my feelings, you don't have to like me, much less tolerate me. But don't," I slammed my hand on my nearby desk, adding emphasis, "don't you dare try to tell me that I'm in love with someone else. You're not me, you can't tell me that I love someone else because you have no idea what I feel."
He opened his mouth, about to say something.
"Don't even think about it." I held up a single finger in a threatening manner. "I love you, Naru—you and no one but you. Sure, Gene is kind, sweet and gentle, but he's not you. Naru, Shibuya Kazuya, Oliver Davis—"
He frowned at my jumbled pronunciation of his actual name.
"—whoever the hell you are, I love you."
Panting, I finished with a flushed face and a light feathery feeling in my gut—the feeling of relief. I had finally said what I had been wanting to for the last few years and it felt great. The only thing remaining, and my stomach churned uneasily at the thought, was Naru's reaction to my lecture of sorts. Suddenly shy, all feelings of hostility gone, I blinked up at him nervously.
"It seems…" he started, unsure of what to say. "…that I can't change your mind." His eyes were troubled and he ran a hand through his black hair—Naru was completely and utterly frazzled.
"No," I stated firmly, despite my insides feeling like electrified jello, "you can't."
"I can tell you this right now though, if we were in a relationship, it wouldn't be the kind that you read in books, Mai." He sent me a pointed look.
"I know. You're not sociable, you don't like public displays of affection and it would be like dragging nails down a chalkboard just to get you to say 'I love you'." I nodded, ignoring the glare he sent me. "But," I held up a finger, "if we were in a relationship, it would be enough for me; you wouldn't have to do any of those things because I know you would love me anyway."
Naru raised an eyebrow. "A bit conceited, aren't you?"
Embarrassed, I flushed once again and coughed. "Not really…I mean, if you were in a relationship with me you would obviously love me." I swallowed nervously. "Why would you be in a relationship with someone you didn't love?"
Naru didn't say anything else and an awkward silence set in—like, an extremely awkward silence. I supposed that the two of us were waiting for the other to say something first, except, it seemed that neither of us had the audacity or courage to do so. Every once in a while, I would bite my bottom lip and decide that I would break the silence only to clamp my mouth shut tighter after a moment's hesitation. Naru noticed.
"I can't guarantee that you will be tolerant of my behavior towards you in the future."
I jumped when he spoke—he hadn't given even a miniscule clue that he was going to, he just spoke. "W-what do you mean?" I coughed, clearing my throat.
Naru's eyes narrowed in that exasperated manner of his. "As you said. I'm not sociable nor am I fond of the idea of public displays of affection, much less going out of my way to be," he paused, pursing his lips, "romantic as you would say."
"What," my voice squeaked, "what does that have to do with anything? I mean it's not as if…we're…" As my voice trailed off I cast him a peculiar glance, trying to read what he was thinking. I had no such luck—he was as readable as a gargoyle. Just when I was about to dare and say what I was thinking, he cut in.
"In a relationship?" He arched an eyebrow.
"Y-yeah, that," I admitted, blushing fiercely and wringing my hands, "I mean that would just be weird." My eyes widened. "Not—not that you're weird or anything!" I quickly corrected myself, waving my hands. "You're just narcissistic—ah, no, forget that!" At this point, I wanted a big hole to magically appear in the middle of the floor and swallow me whole. "I mean, it's not bad to know that you're good looking and all—"
"—because I mean, you are—"
"—though you probably don't need me to say so—"
His tone interrupted my nervous rambling, causing me to stare at him with wide eyes and a blush that spread evenly to my cheeks, ears and neck.
Even though the statement was normally taken offensively, the tiny twitch-like smirk he had gave a whole new meaning to the words. Then, he leaned down—his black hair mingling with my own brown strands, his blue eyes bearing into my plain brown ones—to press his lips to mine ever so sweetly; or, as sweetly as Naru could. And this time, I smiled into the kiss at the thought, he was sober. The thought left me feeling a bit more giddy than it should have, I realized with miniscule embarrassment, but, when he slanted his mouth over mine, prolonging the contact that I had so sorely craved for years, I found that I didn't care.
After what seemed like an eternity—even though it was probably only a second or two—he straightened his spine, leaving me absolutely speechless. I swayed backwards a little before regaining my balance.
"So…um…" I went back to wringing my hands. "Are we…?" I raised my eyebrow to finish my unspoken question.
"You still need clarification?" my boss asked with his own raised eyebrow and a half-frown, sounding slightly annoyed.
I shook my head. "No, no."
Naru calmly headed towards his office again, before stopping briefly and looking over his shoulder at me, a smirk in place. "And, Mai?"
"Yes?" I responded dreamily, that fluffy relieved feeling settling into my gut again.
"Remember?" The fluffy feeling vanished, completely overrun by curiosity. "Remember what?"
His reply was the simple closing of his door, a soft 'click'. It took me a moment to process exactly what he meant.
My entire face turned bright red and I clenched my fists. "Naru! You liar!"
It was official. My boyfriend was a stupid, narcissistic, egoistical, workaholic idiot of a scientist without so much as a romantic clue—and I loved him anyway.
OMG...it's over... HOLY MOLY IT'S OVER. D: Pardon me while I cry profusely in the corner... I honestly don't know what I'm going to do now that it's over...
Originally, I was going to list every single person that reviewed for this story...but, I began looking back, and well, sorry...but there was just SO MANY OF YOU! It probably would have taken me over three hours to pick out all the names. So, I just wanted to take this time here and now to say THANK YOU to ALL OF YOU! I love you guys so much and I'm sad to end it here D: But, hopefully, I will still hear from you guys in the future and hopefully, I will get that sequel out :)
Once again, for like the fifth time, thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read this story. I couldn't thank you enough even if I tried. So, for old times sake, review?