So it's been about a year from the last time I posted anything, and I figure it's about time I do. I've been on this website recently that gives you random prompts, and those were all I needed to get back into the swing of writing. I'll probably be uploading quite a few one shots over the next couple of weeks/months, and most of them will be unrelated to each other. This one shot is entirely unrelated to my other one shot, Flustered. That was LinXMai centric, and this one has a hint of NaruXMai, but isn't really a romance. I hope you enjoy~!

Prompt: Nothing stood in her way now. She dropped the shotgun on the bed and went to get cleaned up.


She felt her blood boil in triumph under her suddenly too tight skin. There was a massive amount of rage and victory congealed somewhere around her heart, constricting the fragile thing and making her feel like she was going to break at any moment. She could feel the sting of tears in the back of her eyes, but she didn't care. There was no one around to see them.

The shotgun was still raised in the air, the sound was still ringing through her ears, and the smoke was still dissipating. Mai stared down at the mess she'd made, at the walls that dripped blood, and a small smile tore across her face as her eyes shone with twisted anticipation. Nothing stood in her way now. He was gone, finally taken care of – the last remaining obstacle in her path of destruction.

"You deserved this," she shrieked, glaring at the dark blue eyes that would forever be frozen in shock. "You left me no choice, Naru! You did this to yourself!"

Mai was trembling, and her mood was soaring. She was so close. She could practically feel the success within her reach. She couldn't wait any longer – the anticipation was going to destroy her if she did.

Without sparing a glance at the mangled body half on the floor, she dropped the shotgun and walked into their bathroom to clean the gore from her body. It wouldn't do if the girl suspected something. She craved to see the confusion in her eyes, the terror, the betrayal.

Exhilarated, Mai left the house and walked down the dark street, bursts of laughter periodically ripping through the night. Disregarding the hour, she rang the doorbell of the house nine down from hers until a sleepy-eyed old woman answered.

"Mai-chan?" the woman murmured. "What are you doing here at such an hour? Is everything okay? Is Naru-chan alright?"

Mai plastered a stricken look on her face, and she forced out a sob. Strange – the sob felt very real, as did the grief that suddenly overwhelmed her. "No," she cried. "Naru's father – he's had a heart attack and he's at the hospital. I need to grab Aya-chan and meet him there."

The old woman was so gullible – she reacted just the way Mai knew she would. A hand over her mouth, eyes filled to the brim with pity – the woman nodded with a soft 'of course' and left to grab the girl.

Minutes later, a little girl with wild, pitch black hair came into view, rubbing her eyes tiredly and yawning – and that was when a stab of despair shot through her heart.

But it couldn't be helped. She had to do this. She had to.

"Okaa-san?" Aya murmured.

Mai held out her hand to her daughter with a soft smile. "Come, Aya-chan. Otou-san is waiting for us."

With a forced smile, Mai bowed slightly to the elderly woman and led Aya away.

"I'm tired, Okaa-san. Where are we going?" Mai ignored her daughter, too engrossed in her proximity to success. "Okaa-san," she whined, the threat of tears evident in her voice.

Mai tightened her hand around Aya's. "Everything is okay, Aya-chan. We're going home. See, it's very close. Only a couple houses away."

Aya wiped at her eyes and nodded, trusting her mother as any 5-year old would.

The house was as she left it – dark, empty, silent.

Mai led her daughter to the bathroom and began to run the water. "We have to get you cleaned up, sweetie. You'll be seeing Otou-san very soon, and you want to look your very best for him, don't you?"

Aya nodded slowly, and Mai beckoned for her to get in. She obeyed, and Mai began to wash her hair gently. Her blood was alive as it hummed through her veins, making her hands tremble and her stomach clench.

"Where is Otou-san?" Aya asked quietly.

Mai grinned, eyes lighting up. "Aya-chan, you're father has been very, very naughty. You know what happens when someone is naughty, don't you?" The girl shook her head slowly, looking up at her innocently. "They must be punished. Now, close your eyes. It's time to rinse your hair."

Aya did as she was told. Slowly, Mai leaned forward and kissed her forehead. "Your mother loves you very much, Aya-chan. Take a deep breath." Slowly, Mai lowered her daughter into the water, and kept her there.

Her slender hands wrapped around the little girl's neck when she began to struggle and she stared down at the thrashing form, high-pitched giggles bursting from her throat. The light pink shirt she was wearing was getting soaked, but she couldn't care less. Goosebumps rippled across her skin, feral joy making her lips pull back in exultation.

And it was over as quickly as it had begun. The child stopped thrashing and clawing at the hands holding her down, and the bathwater stilled. It was silent; the only sound left in the house her harsh breathing. A hushed stillness pervaded the air - indeed, the house itself, as if the very essence of the life they had led had given up, surrendering to the horror of recent events. It was a somber feeling – sorrowful.

Without warning, Mai fell forward, face first into the still warm water, and shot up seconds later, spluttering and blinking furiously. "What-!" she cried, looking around her, wiping the water from her face.

"A-Aya? Aya!" shrieked Mai. "No! No, Aya!" Her hands shot forward and pulled the lifeless body from the tub. She pushed the hair away from her daughters face, crying as she looked into her blank eyes. But she couldn't be dead, she just couldn't – it was incomprehensible to the small woman, utterly inconceivable. What would she do without her precious daughter?

"Naru," Mai sobbed, picking up Aya in her trembling arms. "Naru, please help me." She was finding it hard to breath, to think, to function, to remember. She stumbled to their bedroom door and fell against it, frantically reaching for the handle, and staggered inside. Her arms were wrapped desperately around her daughters still form, her heart was shattering.

Mai let out an agonizing wail when she saw what was left of her husband. There was so much red, so much blood – it was everywhere she looked, on everything in their room.

She fell to her knees, her daughter still in her arms, and stared in horrified shock at his body. Hands over her face, she screamed until her throat felt like it was on fire, until she could swear she tasted blood, until her voice finally gave out. She was reduced to clinging to her daughter's body and rocking back and forth, terrible grief etched across her face.

Why? She mouthed the word over and over, moving her hands to curl into fists at her temples.

You did this… a voice whispered to her, a voice that slithered like a snake.

"No," she croaked, shaking her head furiously. "No!"

Yes.

Images flashed through her mind, and the night replayed for her. Coming home, eating dinner, arguing with Naru, going to bed, getting the shotgun, shooting him as he yelled at her to snap out of it, cleaning herself of the evidence, retrieving her daughter, and then killing her.

You are a murderer…you've killed your family…your only daughter…your loving husband…

Murderer. Murderer! MURDERER! MURDERER!

Mai screamed, hands over her ears as anguish twisted her heart into shreds. She had killed her family. She had murdered them, smiling the entire time.

"What have I done?" she howled, devastated. "What have I done?"

Mai moved away from the beloved people she had slaughtered, sliding backwards until she was curled into a tight ball in the corner, nearly comatose as she looked at their bodies. How could she have done this? She loved her family with every fiber of her being; they were her reason for breathing. It was incomprehensible to think that they were gone – that she would never kiss her husband or that she would never listen to her daughter laugh as she ran around the house again.

The blue numbers of their digital clock shone at her from across the room. 3:53. Mai spent the rest of the night that way – doing nothing but watching Naru's and Aya's still forms lay next to each other, and listening to the voice that came back periodically to push her further into her mind.

You have nothing to live for, it whispered. You have ripped everything from yourself. There is no point in your existence any longer, why don't you … give your body to … me.

She was broken. Her life and her heart were nothing but shattered fragments of what used to be – and her mind was on its way to being splintered into pieces as well. Crushing despair was weighing down on her shoulders, cutting deep lines of misery into her normally cheerful face. She felt … hollow. There was nothing left within her but sadness and devastation and it echoed through her, never fading, merely reverberating. But the voice's suggestion, the anticipation she could feel from it – it sparked something, and she felt a fury so strong it knocked the breath from her. The room around her sharpened into razor focus and adrenaline surged through her cold veins.

"You made me do this," Mai whispered, voice thick and shaking. "You – you made me kill them."

They are never coming back, it cackled. Your life is pointless, worthless – you couldn't even protect the people closest to you! Just fade away…it will be painless, I promise.

Mai stood, breathing as if she had just run miles. "I will die before I let you have my body."

The temperature of the air in the room plummeted, becoming so freezing that she could see her breath in tiny white clouds of vapor. The voice was gone, but the air crackled with lividly amused energy, and she felt something pressing on the walls of her mind. She could sense the energy of the thing – it was dark and angry and … evil.

The voice had been right; there was nothing left for her to live for – her life lay deceased before her, but she could still get the only possible revenge left. She knew what she had to do, what she wanted to do.

Mai tore from the room, into the hallway and then into the kitchen, where she grabbed the large cutting knife still laying on the counter from dinner. The pressure on her mind was becoming unbearable, making it hard for her to see and move her limbs. Breathing hard, she turned the knife towards her chest and brought it down – only for her left hand to shoot out and grab her wrist.

The tip of the knife was embedded in her skin, but it would go no further. Half of her body was no longer hers, and she fought with herself and with the voice for control. Tears trailed down her cheeks and sudden memories flashed through her struggling mind.

The first date she'd had with Naru, the moment he asked for her hand in marriage, their wedding, the birth of their daughter, her first birthday, and her first day of school – they were a thousand moments over thousands of minutes, her happiest and most treasured memories. This thing had torn them from her – it had made her destroy everything dear to her, and she would never give in to it. Never.

With a yell Mai used her one functioning leg and flung herself at the wall to the left of her, and she gasped as the knife ripped through her flesh, clenching her teeth against the scream that wanted to escape her throat. The pressure left her mind and her body was hers once again.

NO! the voice roared, making every light flash and burst. The cabinets rattled and there was a deafening pounding within the walls. She should have been terrified, but she wasn't. Mai merely smiled softly and sunk to the floor, both hands cupped around the knife handle that was protruding from her body. Blood ran down her front and spilled out from the corners of her mouth, and she found it nearly impossible to breath – but there was a sense of peace that was settling over her. A cool calm was stealing over her mind, her soul – a cool calm that radiated love.

Her eyes slid closed and she embraced the darkness that engulfed her, taking peace in knowing that she would be with her family very, very soon.


Mai shot up from her position on the couch and she looked around the room, her eyes wild as they searched for Naru. She had to find Naru, she had to.

The rest of SPR looked at her in shock, and she saw their mouths moving and she could hear their voices talking, but nothing registered besides the fact that Naru wasn't there. She was crying and gasping, that much she knew – on the very edge of hysterics, she thought dazedly. But there was nothing she could do to help that fact, because panic was making her chest constrict around her heart and lungs.

The thud she made as she threw herself off the couch and landed on her knees sounded painful but she barely noticed – nothing mattered besides finding Naru and making sure he was alive and uninjured. She realized suddenly that she was asking for him – repeating over and over 'Where is Naru? Where is he?'

Ayako rushed over to her and tried to grab her arms to calm her, but Mai wrenched herself away from the miko and ran out the door, ignoring the injured look that flashed across the older woman's face. She was hyperventilating, she could feel it, and her legs felt like jelly – but her need to find him overpowered her sense of self-preservation.

She ran blindly through the halls, turning corners until she was thoroughly lost and helplessly crying. Mai saw black dots in her vision and somewhere in her reeling mind she knew that she was going to faint if she didn't stop. Her legs faltered and she staggered around a corner when she ran into something warm and solid and dark.

Gasping, she flung herself away from it and her back collided with the wall, knocking the breath from her aching lungs. Her vision blurred in and out, but even half conscious she recognized the tall, black-clad figure.

"Naru," she sobbed, rushing forward and pushing his blazer away from his chest. She felt his stomach for a wound, for wet blood, for flesh ripped apart by a shotgun shell, and she found nothing but warm fabric. So focused on her task was she that she didn't hear Naru calling for her until he cupped her jaw with both hands and forced her to look up at him.

"Mai!" his voice was quiet and firm, and the calm way he said her name made her panicked hands still on his chest. "Mai, you need to breathe. You remember how to breathe properly, right?"

According to habit, she obeyed. Even though she was unable to take deep breaths, she made herself breathe evenly and the black dots faded from her vision. Mai didn't look away from his eyes, terrified that if she did he would disappear and her dream would end up actually being true.

When she calmed herself to the point of merely shaking like a leaf, Naru let out a breath. "What happened, Mai? Do not leave any detail out."

And just like that the panic was back, but she forced it down. Naru was in front of her – he was in perfect health and he was asking her a question and the last thing she wanted to do was make him think she was weak and useless and stupid.

But just thinking about the dream she'd had – thinking about the blank way his eyes had gazed up at her from the floor where he lay surrounded in his own blood – made her eyes automatically fill with tears.

Disregarding the fact that Naru was the furthest person down on her list of huggable people, she rushed forward and wrapped her arms around him, pushing her face into his shoulder and crying.

Well, maybe wailing would be the better descriptor.

And, shockingly enough, Naru sighed and wrapped his arms around her tense shoulders, letting her cry into his (most likely) expensive shirt. Her hands grasped at the back of it as she tightened her grip on him, so happy that he was with her, warm and breathing and alive.

For someone who was, usually, insufferably impatient, Naru let her cry until she was positive that she would never be able to shed another tear again. She felt puffy and tired and … at peace. Safe.

Mai took a deep, shaky breath, and began to tell Naru about her dream. When he moved to pull away she refused to let go, asking in a small voice if they could just stay like this until she was done. After a moment, Naru enveloped her within his arms once again, relenting to the traumatized girl he seemed to be holding together.

Not a detail was left out as she told him about her dream – about how something had possessed her and made her kill the family she had. Even though it made her flush a bright red, she told him that he had been her husband and they had had a child – a girl named Aya. Mai told him that she had killed him with a shotgun, that there had been an elderly woman living nine houses down, and that she had drowned their daughter. She told him about the voice, about how it had driven her mad and how it had tried to persuade her to let it permanently possess her body.

"I couldn't let it do that, Naru. It had made me kill my family, and now it wanted my body too. I realized that it was the only reason my family was gone, and it made me so mad. I couldn't let it win, so I … I ran to the kitchen. There was a knife … and I – I tried to stab myself, but it was partly in control. I thought that this couldn't be happening, I couldn't let it win, and then I remembered all of these memories, and I threw myself at the wall and – and I killed myself. But I wasn't scared, I remember that. I was … I guess I was looking forward to it. For some reason I knew that I would see you again – you and Aya. It got so angry. I remember seeing the lights burn out, and there was really loud knocking sounds, and the voice screamed except this time it wasn't only in my head – it was everywhere… And then there was only darkness, and that was when I woke up."

It was silent for a few seconds, and then:

"Stupid," he said quietly.

Mai blinked and pulled away from him, looking up into his face. "What?" her voice was filled with confusion and a slight hint of anger – why was he calling her stupid?

"I said, 'stupid.' You should know that it takes a lot more than you with a shotgun to kill me – the thought of it happening is completely foolish. It should have been obvious."

What?

Mai bristled and took a deep breath, preparing to yell at him, when she noticed that his eyes were gentle – something she had seen very few times in the years she had known him. While his face was still stoic and unsmiling, she instinctively knew that he was comforting her – in his own, Naru-like way.

Scratching the back of her head, Mai broke out in laughter. "Yeah," she chuckled, all anger and offense forgotten, "I guess it should have been, huh?"

And just like that she was back to herself. Her eyes stung and her face felt swollen, but she was no longer a mess of panic and terror. She was even laughing, and it was all thanks to Naru. For some reason, he always knew how to make everything better.

"Let's get back to base," said Naru, moving down the hallway.

By the time they reached the room they had set up at headquarters Mai was amazed at the distance she had traveled in her search for him – base was in the east corner of the first floor of the large hotel, and they had walked from the west corner on the sixth floor. She couldn't even remember walking up any stairs or taking the rickety old elevator. No wonder she had been ready to collapse by the time she'd run into him. In the condition she had been in it was amazing she had even made it that far.

They were mere feet away from the door when Mai grabbed back of one of Naru's sleeves. He stopped and looked at her. "What, Mai?"

Mai looked down, embarrassed. "Um, I just wanted to say thank you, for, you know … keeping me from having a hysterical break down."

He was silent until Mai looked up into his smirking face. "If that had happened, Mai, there would be no one to do the busy work around the office, and it is a waste of time to look for a new assistant."

She gaped at him, and he merely smirked again and walked into base.

That … that jerk!

But as Mai followed him, she was smiling softly, incapable of mustering up any true indignation because she wouldn't have him any other way.


A day later the case at the haunted hotel was solved, and the remaining spirits had been exorcised. As it turned out, the land the hotel sat on, and the land around it, had once been a small suburban community – 15 years ago, to be exact. It had been bought up by the hotel company and the abandoned houses had been demolished. However, even if the houses were gone that didn't necessarily mean the spirits would disappear as well. They were connected to the land – not the house.

After extensive research by Lin, they found out that in one of the houses a family had been found murdered – a man named Uehara Shotaro, his wife Ninako, and their young daughter, Aya. The father had been found in the bedroom, shot with a shotgun that had been found at the crime scene. The daughter was found next to him, and after an autopsy they concluded she had been drowned. The full tub of water was evidence to that theory. The mother herself had been found slumped against a wall in the kitchen, a cutting knife protruding from her chest – it had punctured a lung, the report said.

The report had also said that the file was a cold case – due to the extensive amount of damage done to the house itself it had become a homicide investigation, but there was no evidence – and why would there be, when the culprit had been a malevolent spirit. Nothing in the official report pointed to any suspicion of the mother. After all, she had been found dead like the others. There would be no reason to suspect her, and the testimony of Fuwa-san – the old woman who lived nine houses down – said that they had been a happy family, and it was so tragic what had happened. The little girl had been such a joy, and the mother and father such a loving, happy couple.

Once they had this information, Bou-san and John were able to successfully exorcise the three tortured spirits that were trapped in the hotel – the father, mother, and daughter. Masako, who had finally showed up a mere two hours before the case was concluded, hid her watery eyes behind her kimono sleeve as she watched them pass on. She said that they were grateful for SPR's help, and that they were happy to finally be able to leave this place after such a long time. The woman had even, apparently, felt apologetic for seeking help from Mai because Mai had been so traumatized, something she brushed off as nothing as long as she had been able to help them.

All that had remained was the strong, dark entity that was left – the one who had caused the deaths of the Uehara family. After more research they found that the house the Uehara's had called home had been vacant for 11 years before they moved in.. The previous owner, a young woman named Hoshimura Maon, had fallen severely ill and passed away in her bedroom. Before that incident there were no documented deaths, so it was concluded that she was the cause of the whole ordeal.

After all, she had been a budding actress and model – her life had barely been starting when it had been taken from her, and understandably she wanted to be alive again. Right before she had fallen ill, according to the tabloid Hoshimura had been featured in, it had been found out that her considerably famous boyfriend had been cheating on her with an equally famous actress, which would explain why the girl had become so embittered and angry.

Mai sympathized with the girl because she could sense that the girl Hoshimura had once been was bright and loving and very naïve. It made her sad that she had become this thing, but there was nothing Mai could do about it. The spirit of Hoshimura Maon had been so far warped by hatred that there was nothing to do but exorcise her. It had been hard and the process had dragged on for hours, but it had been done.

They were now all back at the SPR office, resting and enjoying cups of Mai's soothing tea.

Mai looked around her and smiled before frowning at Ayako. The way she had acted when she'd woken up was bothering her – as was the hurt expression she'd left Ayako with.

"Hey, Ayako?" she murmured, looking down into her cup of tea.

"Hm?" mumbled Ayako, who was leaning her head back to rest on the cushion of the couch.

"I'm really sorry for freaking out like I did after my dream. I just realized that I never said sorry for it."

Ayako cracked one eye open and looked at Mai before waving her hand in the air and sighing. "Don't worry about it. I'm just glad that you didn't hurt yourself."

The rest of the group voiced their agreement, and Bou-san reached over to ruffle her hair.

"So," he said mischievously. "You and Naru, huh?"

Mai spluttered into her cup. "What?" she gasped.

"You dreamt Naru was your husband, and you guys had a kid together. You know what that means, right?" Bou-san was grinning at her wickedly and moving his eyebrows up and down suggestively when Ayako reached over and slapped the back of his head.

"Stop being such an old perv," she griped, and they immediately launched into their routine fight. Mai's face was flaming, and she was sure that she had just reinvented the word blush, but despite that she laughed at their antics. John, as usual, tried to calm the squabbling adults ("Now, now, Ayako, there's no need for such violence.") and next to him sat Masako, who had her sleeve pulled up to cover her mouth. When they made eye contact Masako looked away quickly, nose in the air, and Mai rolled her eyes but refused to let the medium get to her.

"This is not a place to socialize. Do you all have nothing more productive to occupy your time with than sit around my office and make noise?" Naru said coldly, staring at them from his office doorway.

"Don't be such a killjoy, Naru. We're just happy the case is over," Bou-san laughed.

"Whether I am a killjoy or not is not the issue in question when you are loitering around the workplace, Takigawa-san." Before Bou-san could stutter out a retort Naru shifted his gaze from him to Mai.

"Tea."

And then he turned and slammed his door closed, effectively shutting himself away into what the rest of SPR had (kind of) jokingly begun to refer to as The Cave.

With a groan, and a few muttered words, John, Ayako, Bou-san, and Masako stood up to leave.

"What a heartless bastard," Ayako sighed as she put on her coat and walked out the door into the cold winter morning. "Can't be helped, I guess."

Mai, who was following behind Ayako to shut the door, said nothing because she knew for a fact that Naru had a heart – she had felt and heard it beating strong and steady against her cheek and ear when she had plastered herself to him a few days ago.

With a happily content smile and pink-tinged cheeks, Mai shut the door behind her makeshift family and went to the kitchen to make Naru his much needed tea.


I hope you liked it~! I know it's a bit long, and I debated for quite a while whether or not to delete the explanation of the case, but I like it (even if it is a bit lengthy). I think it add's some context to the case, and wraps it up pretty nicely. And I know some of you might say "Well, where the hell was Gene during that dream!" so I just want to let you know that this takes place after Naru comes back from England, and Gene has moved on (I'm just saying this for the sake of the story, because I can't, for the life of me, find the full subbed manga anywhere so I don't know if he actually does move on).

So please review! Let me know what you think (tell me if you think the explanation should have been left out), and if you catch anything wrong please let me know~!

^^!

Also! Look for another one-shot from me soon! I have about half of it written, and it's pretty much a fluff piece! Much different than this one, although that, too, won't have any direct romance.

Ete Soleils