She ran out fast, slamming the door behind her. She fled down the hallway before she collapsed onto the stairs. Seeing as how Bou-san hadn't ran after her, she supposed that Naru had stopped him.
What kind of person rejects a girl, leaves for five years straight without any form of communication and then just comes back, utterly shocking said girl? Oh wait. That was exactly what Naru had done.
Her heart was still pounding a mile a minute from the shock. Although, to be fair, it may not entirely be up to shock. That arrogant man had grown even more gorgeous, something she would have sworn could not be possible. He had grown, but then again she had too.
Funny, she'd had always thought that Naru would always be the same, with the same trademark 'smarter-than-thou' smirk and perfect posture. As she thought about him, another shudder wracked her small frame.
She had really thought she was over him.
But here she was, desperately struggling to catch her breath after the mere sight of him. As the months pasted from his departure, that horrible sharp pain that she had always associated with his memory faded. The puddle of her affection had turned stagnant, no longer disturbed with the sporadic ripples that used to characterize it.
She had even went out on a date or two, something that Bou-san and Yasuhara had been quick to tease her on. Still, she had really thought she was over him.
Until she saw him.
Upon sight of him, she stepped on the surface of that calm puddle and found that it's stagnant waters hid a massive lake. One that pulled her under and choked her from the inside out as she desperately kicked and struggled for freedom.
Instead of the sharp cuts his presence used to give her, waves of pure emotion had washed over her. Even now, as one of the waves receded, another would rise, drowning her all over again.
How could this happen? She hadn't seen him in five years, so how could her feelings had gotten stronger? She was supposed to be past this puppy love phase already!
But therein laid the problem. These feelings weren't puppy love anymore. She had been avoiding it, dismissing it, but now the truth had reared its ugly head and roared its message for her to hear.
Her feelings had increased with her spiritual power.
In those five years he was gone, Bou-san had been training her in mantras and Ayako in charms. Heck, even Yasuhara had scoured his college library for some spiritual tomes to help her. All of them had been surprised by how fast her powers had grown. In fact, the reason Bou-san had taken her back to the SPR base was to pick up a book on astral projection she had forgotten when she had left on her desk yesterday.
Then they saw him. Judging by the boxes beside him on the floor and how his jacket was still on, it seemed that he had just come.
There was a moment of shock, where both sides took in what was before them. She had given a small gasp, one that Bou-san had most likely attributed to surprise. That wasn't entirely the case.
Upon sight of him, a wave had washed over her, starting from her stomach, which was where she had always felt her spiritual power coming from. She was overwhelmed by a sense of happiness, and wanting, no, needing to touch him, to comfort him, to brush away the strands of hair that had fallen in front of his face and to never let him go.
It had taken everything she had to break away and run.
It's not like she hadn't seen this coming. She had guessed this a little after the dates she had gone on during his absence. The men were always gentlemen, and normally she would have been a blushing, flustered mess in front of them.
Yet nothing of the sort had happened. On the contrary, she felt nothing about them. She accepted their compliments, but simply couldn't summon up any interest in them.
One had even tried to kiss her. She really did try to let him. The key word is try. Immediately after he had touched her, a feeling of disgust wriggled through her skin and she was forced to make excuses and leave early.
When she thought about it, she could see how it was bound to happen. After all, many animals only took one mate during their lifetimes.
When Naru had first announced that she had an 'Animal Instinct', she thought he was simply trying to insult her. He could have very well intended to, but his assessment had rung quite true.
She had always had an impulsive nature, but what was impulse if not simply instinct at its core? Her unwavering loyalty to her friends could even be explained by the natural instinct of an animal to protect what it cared about.
Her spiritual intuition affected many, if not all of her actions. If she thought long enough about it, then she could even credit her resilience in life to an animal's determination to survive at all costs.
And she had survived when her parents died. Many had been surprised by how hard a little girl worked to find a place to live and to keep herself well fed and in school. She had accomplished much, and all of it she had always credited to her own stubbornness. But all along it was simply her spiritual instinct guiding her actions at every turn.
She shifted her seat on the stairs so that she was more comfortable. Bou-san still hadn't come for her; that old monk was probably off talking to Lin and Naru about the recent cases and waiting for her to finish her little tantrum.
Naru. She had always been a bit confused on how fast her feelings for him had developed. Most people took years to fall in love, but it took her less than a week to trip head over heels for that arrogant narcissist.
That was probably another instance of her spiritual instinct guiding her. After all, the only other thing more important to an animal than survival was the passing of its genes to the next generation.
She blushed crimson at this. Then she quickly slapped her checks to snap herself out of it. It wasn't her fault that her spiritual power went solo and decided that Naru would be the only man she would ever love.
Now that was a depressing thought. She had taken a bit of biology in school, and she still remembered the screeching voice of her horrible teacher Mr. Yatsume.
'Female animals choose the strongest male for reproduction, so that the survival of their offspring is assured.' he had said with a slap of his old, scratched up ruler on the table. ' This is going to be on the test, so wake up!'
Well, the former words were more helpful than the latter. And in terms of spiritual power, Naru was stronger than any man she had ever met. Heck, he was probably one of the most spiritually powerful men in the world!
And probably the only one in her age group.
But he had barely paid attention to her when they'd met. She supposed that that's when her spiritual instinct had sent the red flare up. A signal that screamed 'Notice me! Notice me!'.
And her spiritual powers had developed so quickly after she met Naru. It was like they evolved, no, adapted so that she could provide a use to him and get his attention.
The compulsions she had felt when she'd met him again now were eerily similar to the ones she had felt when she decided to walk towards the SPR base during the first case. But this was dozens of cases later, and the compulsion to be near him was stronger than ever.
She was struck by a sudden thought to just run. If she left, if she cut off all ties to SPR, then maybe she could try to live something resembling a normal life. No dangerous cases, no freaky ghosts, and no unrequited feelings for an arrogant narcissist.
That idea was squashed thoroughly before she even finished it. Even the thought of leaving now brought on a deep wave of pain. It cut at the space behind her eyes and her stomach and it floored her. She pushed her palms in her eyes to keep from letting out tears.
She had been bound from the very first moment her spiritual power grazed his when she had seen him just now. It had found him again, and now that it was stronger than ever, it would not be leaving him alone.
Even now, she had to fight against the urge to run, to let her feet carry her to Naru and to breathe in the smell of Earl Grey and old, worn papers.
But he would never let her do that.
Her spiritual instinct had the base feelings down, but even it couldn't change the fact that Naru had rejected her. Worse than that, he had ripped out her heart, left it on the floor bleeding and he still had the nerve to claim that she loved Gene.
But she couldn't love anybody else now. Her spiritual power had chosen Naru, who happened to be the one person in the world she could never be with. Really, he was the 'Great and Magnificent Oliver Davis', a gorgeous, world famous paranormal researcher.
She was, well, she was just a woman in a city in Japan. She wasn't that talented. Sure, she could astral project, but there were lots of others in the world who could do that. She couldn't really think of anybody who could pick up 50 kg weight with their mind and throw it across the room. Well, other than Naru. She wasn't even exceptionally beautiful.
Because wasn't that how all the stories went? You had to be some gorgeous knock-out to even try to gain the attention of someone as powerful and connected as 'Oliver Davis'.
Now she was lost, stuck between a rock and hard place. She couldn't tell him. She could never tell anyone about this. It was just too much to deal with, and she and Naru did have one thing in common.
They both hated having another person's pity.
She couldn't stand pitying looks when her parents died, and she wouldn't stand for them now. Telling the others in SPR was out of the question too. She didn't want them to get worried, and Bou-san was likely to attack Naru for her honor in this. She just couldn't stand to see her friends upset, especially over her.
This was her burden to bear.
It's not like she wasn't used to acting like she was happy when all she really wanted was to cry alone in a corner. She had taken her parents death hard, but she had needed to grow up fast. Besides, if you laugh the world laughs with you.
But if you cry, you cry alone.
She took a shuddering breath inwards, and slowly stood up. Her legs had gone numb, so she had probably been there for a while. Bou-san was probably starting to get worried.
She tried to smooth out the wrinkles in her sun-dress, but failed miserably. She gave a soft smile as she remembered how Ayako had taken her shopping after Mai had worn an old pair of overalls. Ayako had cried that the thing was so ugly, it was sacrilegious to wear it and that it was her religious duty as a miko to get her some good clothes. Bou-san had quickly seconded that and her 'visiting Ayako' day had quickly turned into a 'lets drag Mai out to the mall and nearly choke her with clothes' day.
She really loved them. At that thought she gave a soft 'ahh' as she realized something.
That was the reason she was always the one to get hurt on cases. She always managed to get a sprained ankle or a cut at least once during a case, and it had gotten to the point where the others were thinking of just locking her up in the base during cases.
Normally an animal instinct would divert her away from situations where she could get hurt. But she was taking their hurt from them. Her spiritual instinct was attracting the ghosts so that those she loved would be spared.
So, her spiritual instinct wasn't all that bad. She had been slowly making her way back to the SPR door during this thought process, and by the end she was right outside of it.
She closed her eyes and searched the place with her spiritual powers. It was a trick that Bou-san had taught her so that she could scope out potentially haunted spots before dashing into danger. He knew how to do it as well, but he had said that because of her astral projection talents, she was much more proficient at it than he was.
She felt Bou-san's spiritual power on the couch, and Lin's in the side room. And she definitely felt Naru's. His spiritual power was like a supernova compared to the others, and she knew by instinct that she would be able sense his power from blocks away. Scratch that, she thought as another wave of feeling passed over her, she could probably feel him if he was on the other side of the world.
She gave herself another pat down and fixed the ends of her dress. She ran her fingers through her hair to get rid of the dent in the back the wall had made when she leaned against it.
She had grown in these five years. Nothing drastic, but she wasn't as scrawny anymore. To her immense dislike, she hadn't grown any taller, but she had gained more of a handle on herself. No longer did she trip over her own feet, but her rate of tripping over objects had, sadly, remained the same. To Ayako's dislike, she had cut her hair short again, almost as short as it had been when she first met Naru.
Speaking of Naru, she could hear his voice coming through the door. It was smoother, and more assured. She gave an inward groan. With no one to tell him off when he got too arrogant, he had probably grown more narcissistic. Well, she was here to remedy that. No spiritual instinct was going to get between her and knocking Naru down a notch in his arrogance meter. Although, he had probably broken the darn thing already.
She put her head closer to make out what he was saying, but even with her hyper-aware sense of him she could only make out a few words of the conversation between him and Bou-san.
She gave a share raise of her head at that. He was going to make her an actual investigator? At first, she felt a deep satisfaction. He finally realized her superior abilities. Hah! Then as she realized what this held for her, she started to panic.
As an investigator, she would only see him on cases, unlike the daily contact that resulted out of being his assistant. She didn't think she would be able to bear that. She had to get him to include her assistant status with the investigator title.
She could already imagine the taunts and teasing she would have to put up with if she asked him. She would just have to make him think it was his idea. At this, she gave a wince.
Pulling one over on Naru? Now that was gonna be hard.
She would just have to pray that he enjoyed her tea enough that he would accept her as an assistant without thinking too hard about why she had accepted his offer so fast.
She readied herself as she prepared to return to the room. Yet when her hand was primed directly over the knob, she froze.
Was this what was going to happen to her? Was she going to be forced to live a half-life where the man she loved felt nothing for her, and where her heart would be in constant pain from his not-so-thinly-veiled barbs at her? Did she even have a choice in the matter?
She sucked in her hesitations and turned the knob. She plastered on a fake smile as she entered, and fought with her entire being to restrain herself from leaping the short distance between them and wrapping her arms around Naru.
She had fallen into a puddle that was lake and she was slowly going to drown.
But what choice did she have?
A/N: Hello All! This is my first attempt at anything resembling a fanfiction, and I hope you all enjoyed it. My highest hope for this fic is that it somehow inspires any of the wonderful writers in this fandom.
I also don't own Ghost Hunt!
I understand that there are some questions, and I will try to address some now. I tried to play around with the concept of 'Animal Instinct' because I got tired of people merely focusing on Mai's astral projection talents.
I also made them older because, quite frankly, I don't think that a true relationship would have developed between the two while they were still young. Making Mai around the age of 22-ish, allows me to try to form a more mature, believable relationship between the two without making Naru completely out of character. I don't believe that Naru would kiss/comfort/confess to Mai out of the blue, so this is going to be an experiment for me in how their relationship could be set up realistically with more of a focus in companionship.
I also understand how some of you might be wondering why I didn't mention Gene in this chapter, but that is a whole 'nother can of worms that I will explore in other chapters.
This chapter is actually meant to be the first of others, and I have many other ideas. Such as a cross-over with Detective Conan, a look into Naru's feelings set during the holidays, a trip to Hawaii, more chapters focusing on Mai's developing power and her growing spiritual instinct, as well an exploration of Mai's background.
Because really, I can't believe that Mai just suddenly developed her powers, even her Animal Instinct ones, out of the blue. I'll try to deal more with the issue of her parents during that. The one that deals with Naru's feelings will also include some information about Mai's living arrangements, because I always wondered how she would be able to support herself after she turned eighteen and was no longer eligible for scholarships. The cross-over with Detective Conan will be fun, I just think that these two fandoms are just primed for a connection! Cause really, midget logical detective vs Arrogant paranormal researcher? Total awesome! All of these will have a plot-like connection, but they will not be situated directly after the events of the previous chapter. Now that you all know what my thoughts are, tell me which one you guys want to read first!
Thank you all for reading this (very long) Author's Note! Also, I tend to listen to music to help me figure out the character's reactions and emotions, so if anyone wants to recommend some music that could help me get a handle on Naru's character, that would be very much appreciated. In case you're wondering, I used Adele as the inspiration for Mai, especially 'Cold Shoulder' and 'Someone Like You'. Thank you all!